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Posts Tagged ‘Skagway Alaska’

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

So if you’ve been following my blog for the past few weeks, you’ve heard me share some of my adventures from my recent cruise to Alaska. What you did not get a taste of in those previous posts, was the, let’s call it the more colorful side of our shore excursions.

Oh, I know there was the photo of me kicking up my heels on stage in a way too short can-can number at the Days of ’98 show in Skagway, but that was nothing my friends, compared to some of the other “activities” I participated in. Read on if you dare.

As the title of this post suggests, there was a wee bit ‘o beer drinking pert near every day. Suffice it to say, I love a good frosty brew. And where might this beer drinking be happening you ask? I’ll tell you. At some of Alaska’s most famous, or perhaps it’s infamous, saloons.

I’m talking, of course, about the Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, Alaska

Red Dog Saloon, Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Red Dog Saloon, Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

and the Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, Alaska.

Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Oh, there’s a reason why there’s “red” in the title.  Ever heard of the red light district?

Original red light from the Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Original red light from the Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

That’s right, every good old westen cowboy and mining town had one and I got to explore, up close and personal, one of “those” establishments.

Let’s start with my beer drinking visit to the Red Dog. The Red Dog Saloon originated during Juneau’s mining heyday, providing dancing and “enternainment.” In the early days “Ragtime Hattie,” played the piano in her white gloves and silver dollar halter top.  Use your imagination and conjure up a picture of that beauty if you will.

During the territorial days, Gordie Kanouse would meet tour boats on his mule, wearing a sign that said, “Follow my ass to the Red Dog Saloon.” Had I been around in those days, I probably would have followed.

Here’s what the Red Dog looks like today

Red Dog Saloon, Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Red Dog Saloon, Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

 

Red Dog Saloon, Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Red Dog Saloon, Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Red Dog Saloon, Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Red Dog Saloon, Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

and here’s an idea of what types of refreshment you can order from the menu.

The menu at Juneau's Red Dog Saloon. Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

The menu at Juneau’s Red Dog Saloon. Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

That’s right, you can get “shit” to fit any budget and a Duck Fart is the saloon favorite along with savory eats, such as: Klondike ribs, Motherlode burger, Iditarod Dip, Ninilchik wrap and The Nunivak, an Alaskan reindeer sausage topped with grilled onions on a sourdough Hoagie roll.

What you don’t see from my photos, is how many tables are crammed together around a miniscule stage where locals sing, tell tall tales and share some of Juneau’s mining day history. You can’t help but make friends with everybody since you’re basically at one big smushed together table.

Oh, and the sawdust on the floor. You don’t see that in these pictures either.

Okay, now on to the Red Onion. I’m not really sure why the “onion” part of the title is there, but there is no doubt about the “red” portion. After lunching on some good old fashioned comfort food (hamburgers and fries) and chasing it down with – that’s right – a dark ale, my sweetie pie and I paid our fee and ventured upstairs for the brothel tour. It should be noted that my husband was not keen on taking the tour until our waitress persuaded him.

My darling with our waitress at the Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode (taken with waitress's permission, but not necessarily husband's), September 2014.

My darling with our waitress at the Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode (taken with waitress’s permission, but not necessarily husband’s), September 2014.

Before we take a look at the photos, I think it’s important for ya’ll to know how this “getting upstairs” process used to work. You see, if a gentleman wanted to spend some time – and by time I mean 15 minutes – with a “lady,” he put in his request with the barkeep downstairs. Behind the bar was a case displaying cloth dolls with varying hair colors, much like these pictures hanging over the bar today.

The bar with original diamond mirrors at The Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

The bar with original diamond mirrors at The Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

The customer could request a specific girl/doll, a girl with a specific hair color, or, depending on the urgency of his need, any girl available. If the dolls in the case were standing up, the matching girl was available for “visitors.” If the desired doll was laying down . . . well . . . you get the picture.

When the gentleman’s 15 minutes was up, the upstairs “bouncer,” would enter the room, demand payment for another 15 minutes, or boot his ass out the door. When a “lady,” was finished with her customer, she’d drop the payment – in this case gold nuggets – down a copper tube. The barkeep downstairs would hear the rattling in the pipes, count the gold that fell through the tube into his waiting box behind the bar, then stand the doll back up, thus making her once again available. If the gentleman had short-changed the girl for his 15 minutes, he was stopped by another “bouncer,” at the bottom of the stairs from whence he has just descended. Pretty cool system right?

So let’s head upstairs, cuz I know this is what you’ve all been waiting for.

The staircase and "beckoning window" leading to the "rooms." Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

The staircase and “beckoning window” leading to the “rooms.” Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

On our tour we got to see one of the holes in the floor where the girls dropped the gold nuggets in addition to some other really, kind of cool, things. I didn’t get a good picture of the hole in the floor, but here is a photo of what all of the walls and the ceilings upstairs looked like. Yes, those are “hot wires,” that provided electric lighting. I don’t know about you, but I probably wouldn’t put paper on my ceiling and then lay hot wires across it, but that’s just me.

Original papered walls and ceiling and electric lighting system. Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Original papered walls and ceiling and electric lighting system. Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Here’s the hallway separating three rooms on one side and three rooms on the other.

Upstaris at The Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Upstaris at The Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

While not the original, here is a photo of the replicas of what the available dolls would have looked like. These dolls have china heads; the original dolls were cloth with yarn hair, which was ripped off and replaced with a different color, one appropriate to the new girl’s hair color (how thrifty). You see girls would come and go faster than gold nuggets so it was important to have interchangeable hair color for whatever new girl might come through the doors looking for “work.”

The "dolls." Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

The “dolls.” Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Here’s a “working girl’s” room (believe me this bed was barely big enough for a Barbie doll). There were about 8 of us on the tour and only half of us could be in this room at one time.

One of the "cribs" at The Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

One of the “cribs” at The Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Here’s the “madam’s” room, complete with a much bigger, almost a twin-sized, bed. Notice the fancier wallpaper and bedspread. Whether or not she owned furs was anybody’s guess.

The "madam's" room. Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

The “madam’s” room. Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

Oh, and here are photos of some “lovely” garments worn by the “dolls.” This first one is pretty sexy, huh?

"Working girl" attire. Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

“Working girl” attire. Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

"Working girl" attire. Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

“Working girl” attire. Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

"Working girl" attire. Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

“Working girl” attire. Red Onion Saloon, Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode, September 2014.

So there you have it my friends, my adventures into the “colorful” history of Alaska. What did you think of the tour? But more importantly, what do you think of the “doll” system? Don’t be bashful, he was a dwarf. Tell me what you think. Would you have taken the brothel tour? Do you enjoy a good glass of beer?

As always, thanks for visiting today. I look foward to your comments.

Fun fact about me: This is not the first brothel tour I’ve taken.

Word of the Day: Lidar.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, November 2014. Unless otherwise stated, original photos by P. Rickrode.

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Another day, another port. Today we explore the northern most port on our cruise – Skagway, Alaska.

The long walk into Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

The long walk into Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Today our luck was fading. While it never rained, we did experience the Alaska drizzle, fog and dampness. Despite the gray skies, our spirits soared as we traveled through the metropolis (I say that with tongue-in-cheek) of Skagway and into the wilds of Dyea, a former mining mecca of the northern frontier.

The road to Dyea. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014

The road to Dyea. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014

Me and my sweetie pie. Dyea, Alaska 2014.

Me and my sweetie pie. Dyea, Alaska 2014.

After a half hour van ride across a bumpy gravel, oft-times, one-lane road, our Chilkoot horseback adventure began.

The ranch - Chilkoot Horseback Adventures. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

The ranch – Chilkoot Horseback Adventures. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

The trusty steeds - Chilkoot Horseback Adventures - Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

The trusty steeds – Chilkoot Horseback Adventures – Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

We saddled up and headed into lush, dense woodlands, heading for the boggy marshes and estuaries of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

Me and my better half aboard our beasts of burden Sage and . . . I can't remember the other horse's name.  Dyea Valley, Alaska 2014.

Me and my better half aboard our beasts of burden Sage and . . . I can’t remember the other horse’s name. Dyea Valley, Alaska 2014.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park - Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

My hopes remained high that I would yet see a bear, although I was not overjoyed that, if it was going to happen, it would be from the back of a four-legged creature known for fleeing at the slightest threat. So much for my chances of capturing a photo.

Dyea         - Dyea Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Dyea Flats – Dyea Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

After a morning slogging through abandoned logging roads and fog, and not seeing bears or any other wildlife for that matter, we arrived back in town for some on-foot exploration. We discovered a quaint little theater known for it’s Days of ’98 Show With Soapy Smith, which has played continuously in Skagway since 1923. That’s a true story – same show for 91 years. (No – not the same actors. I know some of you are going to ask that question.)

This melodrama-esque show is based on a real life person – Soapy Smith – and the actors do an admirable job of relaying history in a funny, yet poignant way. Towards the end of the show, the ladies in the cast performed a little dance number that required the assistance of two audience members, one of whom you may recognize.

P. Rickrode and the cast of the "Days of '98" show (Gold Rush Productions) - Skagway, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014

P. Rickrode and the cast of the “Days of ’98” show (Gold Rush Productions) – Skagway, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014

That’s right, I made my Skagway debut on the stage that day, although I was apparently the only one who did not stop dancing when the music stopped. Seems my exuberance was more than this little acting troupe could handle, thus making this my debut and farewell performance all at the same time.

So, there you have it, my adventures in Skagway. Have you ever, as an unsuspecting audience member, been called upon to use your hidden acting/dancing/speaking/juggling/whatever skills in a totally impromptu manner? What hidden skills do you possess? Come on. Spill the beans. I know you have that one thing.

Word of the day: Jalousie (No that wasn’t my stage name)

Fun fact about me: My very first live stage performance was at a melodrama theater much like this one in Skagway. Ah, the memories.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, September 2014. Original photos by P. and C. Rickrode.

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