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Trippingpara's 'Legend'ary Alaskan Cruise Photographic Review

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Loving this review!! Do you have to take your passport with you if you rent a car? We were planning on the train ride, but the rental car looks like it might be a better option. Thank you for the time and beautiful photos!

 

Hi JC4ME, glad you're enjoying this review and thank you for the kind words, I really appreciate it! If you are going to rent a car and do this drive then yes, you will need your passport as you will cross into Canada. In fact, you will cross into two different provinces of Canada (British Columbia and Yukon Territories). If you don't have your passport, then it is very important not to pass the U.S. Customs building that is only a couple miles outside of Skagway. If you do, you won't be able to get back into the U.S. even if you didn't cross into Canada. The 12 miles of the White Pass summit is essentially a no man's zone in-between the U.S. and Canadian custom buildings. If you go into that area without a passport, you're going to be there a long time before they are able to sort things out for you!

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Loving this review!! Do you have to take your passport with you if you rent a car? We were planning on the train ride, but the rental car looks like it might be a better option. Thank you for the time and beautiful photos!

 

We have rented the car and done the train. We liked the car much better because you can stop when you want and take as much time as you want at each stop.

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Loving your review. Stunning photography! I did the Glacier Hike excursion with a different cruise line. It was one of the best excursion I've ever done. We were fortunate; it was sunny and 70 when we went. We were shedding layers. Even the guides were snapping pictures like crazy.

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Skagway (cont.)...

 

Here are a few more shots from a bit earlier in the day:

 

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Here the first White Pass Train sits awaiting the load of Carnival passengers to board. Notice the Carnival Legend and Carnival Splendor in the background. I believe only those that booked through the ship got to board here.

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Those that booked privately board here. This is the main White Pass train depot in the city center. There's also a great little coffee shop inside. This is where we got our caffeine kick before we headed out. Good stuff!!

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The time zone change as you enter into Canada. This is right before the Canadian Customs and Frazer train stop. As you can see in the background, it is at mile marker 36 (an important thing to track when doing this drive!)

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The Frazer train stop. This is the end of the line for the White Pass Train.

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The White Pass Train pulls into Frazer.

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A rather unnerving sign. You will see these all throughout your road trip up the Klondike Highway. Thankfully, there was nothing to fear at this time of year. Notice all of the buses in the background. Those are for all of the White Pass Train passengers that are continuing on via bus into the Yukon. That is what we would have done had we kept our original excursion with Carnival. So glad we decided to drive it instead!!

 

To be Cont...

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Loving your review. Stunning photography! I did the Glacier Hike excursion with a different cruise line. It was one of the best excursion I've ever done. We were fortunate; it was sunny and 70 when we went. We were shedding layers. Even the guides were snapping pictures like crazy.

 

Hi Janice - thank you so much for such kind words! Hiking across a glacier is such an experience, certainly one that we will always remember! Seems kinda weird to be stripping layers off when you surrounded by ice!

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Love your review!!! We are planning Alaska for 2020.

 

Hi Steph0224. Thank you so much, glad you are enjoying it. You will love Alaska! The Caribbean is beautiful but there is just something about Alaska that is magical!

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Do you pre plan what gear to have fot each port or do you bring a multitude of items?

 

Hi cruzin Phillis. I'm a bit backwards in that I had all my camera gear completely planned out first for every day. I knew which camera body I was taking and which lens and if I needed any additional gear or not. Yeah, I'm a bit of a nut case! As for clothes, I did have a pretty good idea of what we'd be wearing for each day which helped out with the packing. I knew that Glacier Bay was going to be the coldest place and I knew by our excursions whether or not we would be outside for long stretches at a time so we may need to bring our rain gear with us. We actually packed pretty light considering the trip. You need A LOT more items then you do in the Caribbean. We normally cruise with just carryons but not here. We only packed for four days and did laundry twice (once in Seattle at my sister's and once on the cruise - had free laundry bag with the suite). That helped to keep things down but we still needed a full size suitcase plus carryons.

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Skagway (cont.)...

 

Okay, let me get back to the review.

We continued on stopping every couple kilometers for pictures until we just passed Tutshi Lake and turned down a dirt road to the Tutshi Dog Kennels. Lady Trip adores dogs (all animals really but she has a huge soft spot for man’s best friend). I hadn’t told her that I had booked some time here as I wanted to surprise her (yes, I am a hopeless romantic and love to surprise my wife with gifts and fun little surprises). Needless to say, she was a wee bit happy about the surprise.

 

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This is where you check in and buy tickets, can donate to the dogs and buy some general supplies if you like.

 

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An authentic musher's camp

There were no signs of life outside of this training facility for miles around. It was Alaskan paradise! This is an active training camp and the tours offered are all part of the training program. The human interaction with the puppies helps to socialize them at an early age and the dog sled tours helps to exercise the dog teams and develops their stamina and strength for the grueling races.

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Lady Trip is a wee bit happy!

 

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Now that's a dog house!

We checked in and were immediately escorted out to an area where the puppies were chillin’. There were two batches of puppies, one group was 7 months old and the others were 3 months old. Yep, Lady Trip was in heaven! Within seconds, she was laying on the ground buried in puppies. A small tour bus pulled in and their arrival eventually attracted the attention of the puppies and they ran off in search of new company. Thankfully, the staff came over and grabbed us to take us behind the scenes for our dog sledding adventure.

 

Up next: dog sled tour...

 

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Skagway (cont)...

 

As we walked through a gate into another area, we were greeted with the discordance of barks from a couple teams of overly excited sledding teams. If you’ve never heard a dog sled team before, you cannot imagine the level of noise that they produce. As soon as the sled pulled up, they went ballistic!! Another staff member came out and gave us a nice presentation of the equipment that is used by the Iditarod racers. The owners of the kennel, Ed and Michelle, are very active racers and they run in both the 1,000-mile-long Iditarod across Alaska and its Canadian cousin, the Yukon Quest across the Yukon into Alaska. That race is often called the “toughest race in the world,” and runs between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada which just happens to be about an hour north of Tutshi Lake.

 

A few minutes later, we boarded the back of the cart and watched them harness up the dog team. The dogs were overly hyper this afternoon and were being rather aggressive with each other. They had to break up several fights and had to rearrange them a couple times due to the fights. Eventually they got everything sorted out and we were off, complete with Nikki, the golden retriever sitting shotgun.

 

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Hitching the dogs up.

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Nikki anxiously awaiting our departure.

 

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A man and his best friend. Ed, who is driving here, stated that Nikki often likes to accompany him when training the dog teams. Although Nikki is not a sled dog, she acts as the matriarch of the facility.

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Out on the trail.

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A quick shot of us on the "sled". The UTV that we're riding in is usually in neutral the whole time and allows the dogs to train with the heavy weight of the vehicle. Ed explained that he does occasionally put the UTV into gear and help them when climbing hills or downshifts when going down hill to keep the vehicle from getting too close to them. I have to say, the dogs did not appear to have any problems at all pulling the heavy UTV with us in it.

To be cont...

 

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I am loving this review! Our very first cruise was Alaska 10 years ago, this is making me ready to plan another!

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I am loving this review! Our very first cruise was Alaska 10 years ago, this is making me ready to plan another!

 

Hi Posesmom! Thank you so much for the kind words. Glad you're enjoying the review!

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Skagway (cont.)...

The dog team pulled us around their gorgeous property for about half an hour when we had to stop due to another fight breaking out amongst the front team. Ed broke them up and asked if we minded if he extended the tour in order to work the dogs out some more. They had too much energy and fight left in them and he wanted to let them exhaust it out in the field instead of against each other. Like we’d have a problem with spending more time out sledding with the dogs!! We spent almost another half hour out before we headed back into the musher’s camp.

 

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Once the dogs were unharnessed, we were able to pet them to reward them for their hard work. It was funny to see the difference in the dogs. They were still excited but with a lot less energy than before. We spent about 15 minutes petting them before saying our goodbyes and heading back out on the road.

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We loved this little guy's nose with it's pink stripe. He was quite the snuggle bunny too!

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Welcome to the Yukon Territories! This was just down the road from Tutshi Dog Kennels.

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On the other side of the same pull off of the Yukon Sign is the Welcome to British Columbia sign.

 

Next up: Conrad City ruins and Bove Island...

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Skagway (cont)...

 

About 10 kms away is the ruins of the town of Conrad City which was built to serve the silver mines. We had to drive down some dirt roads to find it. There's a new campground there so the roads are pretty well maintained. It was a bit hard to find at first, but we got there. It was neat to explore the ruins of the houses as well as the smashed mine cart at the edge of the water.

 

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After spending some time hiking around the ruins and beach of Conrad City, we headed north on the Klondike Highway to the Bove Island Overlook which was named for Lt. Giacomo Bove, an Italian Naval officer.

 

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Don't feed the bears! This is a sign next to the Bove Island Overlook (in fact, you can see the corner of Bove Island to the left of this photo).

 

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Next up: Carcross and the world's smallest desert!

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Skagway (cont.)...

 

Next up on our little road trip was Carcross, Yukon Territories. It was formally known as Caribou Crossing because it sat right on the migration route of caribou. That is until they were all killed. Then they stopped migrating and they had to change the name of the town. Maybe they tried to name it after the caribou carcass but misspelled it. I don't know but that's the story I'm telling myself!

 

Anyways, it's a quaint little town and the primary stop for those heading north to Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon. There are very few places to stop for food, drinks and souvenirs, so this is a great place to get all of those things. We did just a quick stop here as we were trying to go much further than most people that do this drive. More about that later. For now, here are some shots of Carcross.

 

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Looking across the inlet at the town of Carcross.

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Some ruins of old homes on Waterfront Drive in Carcross.

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Lady Trip taking pictures of Bennett Lake. And yes, that is a real beach!

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The ruins of the SS Tutshi. It was in the process of being restored as a museum when it caught fire. They still made a museum out of it. Albeit, a burnout out hull of a museum, but still a museum!

 

After our brief stop in Carcross, we jumped back onto the highway for about 500 yards, where we quickly pulled over again. This time for the oddity of the world's smallest desert. It really isn't a desert though. It's actually sand and silt left over from the glaciers that carved this area out thousands of years ago. Fun fact: the Carcross Desert measures approximately 1 square mile. Today, fresh sand is deposited from nearby Bennett Lake by the wind.

 

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The infamous Carcross Desert, known as the world's smallest desert.

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Sure wish I had a 4x4! This looks like it would have been a blast to go sand duning!

 

Next up: Emerald Lake and Robinson Roadhouse...

.

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Skagway (cont.)...

 

For most people that drive the Klondike Highway, the turnaround point is Emerald Lake. It is a lake of pristine green color that derives from lighting reflecting off of calcium carbonate and clay. There is a large pull off here and this is also where Carnival excursions for the White Pass Train and Bus Tour turn around.

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We opted to go a little further up the highway to the Robinson Roadhouse. This was a base camp settlement used by miners. It almost became a full fledged town until the Royal Mounted Police showed up and set up a base there due to extreme levels of corruption and crime. Apparently, the presence of five-0 stopped any politicians from making a home there and officially starting the town. Which makes complete sense when you stop to think about it!

 

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We played around and explored the whole area as we were the only ones here. We were planning on heading a but further north to Miles Canyon (just outside Whitehorse) to go across their suspension bridge (it's free - compared to the extremely overpriced Yukon Suspension Bridge that we passed several kilometers back). However, a large storm was brewing in the north and we didn't want to get caught in it. Just as we decided to head back to Skagway, big fat rain drops starting to come down. And there's our sign! It was time to head back.

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Okay, these signs were everywhere on the Klondike Highway, which I understand. What I don't understand is the fact that they were all located in parking areas and they say no stopping. Then WHY put a parking area there?!

 

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We finally made our way back to Skagway (of course, we stopped some more on the way back for photos too!!)

 

Next up: Skagway...

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I’d Superfly Snuka their derriere back into the Stone Age. Sigh. Really? Don’t know who Superfly Snuka is either? Am I really that old??

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I guess I'm that old also, because I absolutely remember Jimmy "SuperFly" Snuka. He was one of my WWF heroes, and yes I said WWF not WWE....LoL I remember a match he jumped from the top of the "Cage", awesome times.

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Hi Trip - LOVING your review. I have a camera question...hubby has a Canon EOS Rebel DSLR with a 18-55mm lens & a 70-300mm lens. If we wanted to get ONE additional lens (or another camera body & lens) what would you suggest?

 

Looking at possibly booking Alaska for 2020, an want to be able to take amazing pictures.

 

Thanks!

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I guess I'm that old also, because I absolutely remember Jimmy "SuperFly" Snuka. He was one of my WWF heroes, and yes I said WWF not WWE....LoL I remember a match he jumped from the top of the "Cage", awesome times.

 

Hey Alaskan Joe, thanks for taking the time our of writing your own review to pop in and join us here! Glad to see I'm not the only one old enough to remember good ol' Superfly Snuka and the WWF. I grew up on them. Loved watching him launch himself off the top corner rope.

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Hi Trip - LOVING your review. I have a camera question...hubby has a Canon EOS Rebel DSLR with a 18-55mm lens & a 70-300mm lens. If we wanted to get ONE additional lens (or another camera body & lens) what would you suggest?

 

Looking at possibly booking Alaska for 2020, an want to be able to take amazing pictures.

 

Thanks!

 

Hi 01Sweetpea. Thank you so much for the kind words and I'm glad that you're enjoying my review. Hmm...a camera lens question. These can be tricky to answer as there are so many variables that can go into an answer and most of them are personal so there never really is a true, set answer. However, with that said, I will do my best. First let's look at your camera body. A Canon EOS Rebel is a good, reliable entry level dSLR. I'm not sure which model you have so I can't really comment on whether it is getting old in terms of technology or if you have a more modern megapixel count.

 

I wouldn't necessarily move to a new camera body unless you want to a) switch from a crop sensor to a full frame sensor or b) the camera body is an older unit and has a low megapixel count (like 10 mp or below). If your camera is fairly new and you do not intend to seriously pursue photography as a hobby, then I would not spend the money on a new body, Since your two current lenses cover the majority of standard family/travel photography needs, I would just look at upgrading your kit lens which is the 18-55mm lens. It's a good lens to start out with but most people outgrow it pretty quickly. Your 70-300mm is a pretty good zoom lens and I would keep that unless you decide to really upgrade to the 70-200mm lens (excellent lens with a price tag to match!).

 

To replace the 18-55mm lens, I would look at either the Canon 17-55mm f/2 or for a bit more money, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8. I would recommend you buy used from a reputable source instead of paying for a brand new one. A wise man once told me, look for a camera body like you do a girlfriend. You will have many of them in your lifetime. Now, lenses...well...look for those like you would a wife. Spend as much as you can possibly afford on them, take care of them and they will last you a lifetime! And it's true. I still heavily use a prime lens that I bought used over 25 years ago and it works just as well now as it did back then.

 

Really, the best recommendation I can make is to learn your camera, it's controls and it's capabilities and limits the best you can as well as study what makes a good composition. I have taken incredible pictures with a simple disposable camera and horrible pictures with top of the line professional cameras and lenses. Its the photographer that really makes the picture not the camera or lens. They are just the tools to achieve what you are envisioning.

 

I know that I just threw a ton at you, so please don't hesitate to ask any more questions!

 

Cheers,

Trip

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Hi 01Sweetpea. Thank you so much for the kind words and I'm glad that you're enjoying my review. Hmm...a camera lens question. These can be tricky to answer as there are so many variables that can go into an answer and most of them are personal so there never really is a true, set answer. However, with that said, I will do my best. First let's look at your camera body. A Canon EOS Rebel is a good, reliable entry level dSLR. I'm not sure which model you have so I can't really comment on whether it is getting old in terms of technology or if you have a more modern megapixel count.

 

 

Cheers,

Trip

 

Hi Trip - I tried to figure out how to private message you, but don't know how, and I don't want to take up your review. We have a Canon EOS Rebel T31, it's 4 years old, but works fine. I was thinking about getting a new camera body & lens to avoid having to switch lenses all the time(which is what we do now. :D:D)

 

Thanks,

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Hi Trip - I tried to figure out how to private message you, but don't know how, and I don't want to take up your review. We have a Canon EOS Rebel T31, it's 4 years old, but works fine. I was thinking about getting a new camera body & lens to avoid having to switch lenses all the time(which is what we do now. :D:D)

 

Thanks,

 

Hi Sweetpea. For some reason CC doesn't have the private message feature. Not sure why as many people have requested it, but they have that functionality turned off for some reason. Anyways, if you're looking to avoid switching lenses as your primary driver, then you really only have two options: 1) get an all-in-one lens like Tamron's 18-270mm for your current camera (that's what Lady Trip carries on her dSLR, or 2) drop the dSLR completely and move over to a what is called a 'bridge camera'.

 

A bridge camera looks similar to a dSLR but does not have interchangeable lenses. Great thing is its portability and ease of use. Downside is it's limited functionality and ability to handle multiple photographic roles well when compared to a dSLR. There is always a trade-off with an all-in-one camera, hence why there are dSLR camera bodies and thousands of lenses. However, bridge cameras have really come a long way from just a few years ago and are great options for amateurs and enthusiasts. A couple really good bridge cameras to look at are the Sony RX10 III and the Panasonic FZ2000. I'm hearing great things about the RX10 III and the price should be starting to come down some since they just released their newest model, the RX 10 IV. I hope this helps!

 

Cheers,

Trip

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Skagway (cont.)...

 

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The Skagway River Valley as you head back towards Skagway.

 

As we approached the town of Skagway, we took a detour down Dyea Road that runs parallel alongside the town and airport. There is a pull off just before the road sharply curves around the mountain. That pull off provides a famous overlook of Skagway, the airport, docks and of course, the cruise ships! You can't go on a cruise and not get a photo looking down onto your ship!!

 

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The Carnival Legend and Splendor sit alongside the Norwegian Jewel.

Unfortunately, it was getting late in the day so we couldn't continue driving down Dyea Road. Just a little further down from where we were is Yakutania Point at the mouth of the harbor and as the road bends around the mountain face, it roughens out into a dirt road. If you continue down the road you will go across the Dyea Campground, the mouth of the Chilkroot Trail, the Slide Cemetery (an other gold rush era cemetery) and the ruins of the town of Dyea. So bummed we couldn't go down there. Maybe next time!

 

Our next stop before turning the car in, was to the Gold Rush Cemetery and the Lower Reid Falls. We headed back the way we came and then over to the entrance to Skagway, skirted through the maintenance yard of the White Pass Train, down a dirt road until we came to the small parking lot for the cemetery. There is a large sign for the Gold Rush Cemetery.

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This is where the infamous mobster, Jefferson "Soapy" Smith is buried along with the man that killed him (and was killed by Soapy himself), Frank Reid, the 'man that gave his life for Skagway'. There's also an unidentified man that blew himself up with his own dynamite when he tried to rob the local bank as well as numerous victims of a major epidemic of meningitis in 1898. It's a really neat cemetery and definitely worth a visit if you can make it out to the edge of town.

 

At the back of the cemetery is a well defined trail that leads up to the Lower Reid Falls. There is also an Upper Reid Falls but that is a far more difficult and time-consuming hike up the mountain, so everyone just stops at the Lower Reid Falls. And why not, it's beautiful!

 

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At this point, we were about out of time, so we drove back to Avis, turned in the car and started to make our way back through town towards the Railroad Docks where the Legend was berthed.

.

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