Friday, August 22, 2014

The Last Hoorah

Tomorrow we say goodbye to Alaska.  We've been here in Haines for a week, just enjoying ourselves.  It's very nice to slow down and not rush through a place, this way you can almost blend in and soak up the local culture.  Our campground,  Haines Hitch-up RV Park is right on the edge of town and makes it very convenient to walk to town, the harbor, and it's easy to make a nice walking route for my regular exercise.  Haines is a tiny town, only 2500 people that bulges every so often with a visiting cruise ship.  It is beyond picturesque with the towering mountains capped with snow and ice, the green forested hills, one huge braided river, the Chilkat coming down one side feeding into the Chilkat Inlet, and the gorgeous Chilkoot Lake, feeding down with it's own river teeming with salmon into the Lutak Inlet on the other side.  Fort William Seward sits above the town on a hill overlooking the harbor, the last of 11 forts established in Alaska during the gold rush days.  And it's a friendly town, so while walking around and into the various shops you are greeted with smiles even if they do know you're a tourist, because as Haine's own author Heather Lende put it in her book title, "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name".

Haines on a windy day
Another view as the fog wisps by with one of the few
cruise ships in town
We went back to Chilkoot River and were able to see the bear chowing down several more times.  It's easy to get sentimental about nature, in fact, you see it all the time, that everything in nature is perfect, animals only kill to eat or protect themselves, etc and so on, and it certainly is mostly true, so it is especially startling when you see or learn something else.  Two cases in point, we learned from a ranger that studies bears here in Alaska that a male brown bear upon finding a female with cubs will often kill the cubs, forcing her back into estrus, so he can mate with her, something, huh?  And then as we watched "our" bear sitting by the fish weir eating salmon, we were surprised at what she was doing, she would catch a fish, bite out its belly, eat the eggs if a female, and then toss the rest of the carcass.  Now I just mention this as we found it interesting, that she was "wasting" the rest of the meat.  Understand, there are tons of birds, including eagles, and many smaller animals that eat the fish, and don't forget all the salmon running up stream are going to spawn and die regardless.  The cycle of nature.  Still something to witness.
Look carefully, you can see some salmon eggs on her arms
The weather turned out great although we arrived in rain and fog, it got steadily warmer and sunnier throughout the week.  Jan and Karen took a hike to Lily Pond, and were planning to ascend Mt Riley, but the muddy trail took some of the wind out of their sails.  They did have a wonderful time.
The winding trail

Lily Pond
So along with our fun, we got some grocery shopping done, Karen took her coach in for some repair work, we got a few items done on our coach, did a little touristy shopping, had some great fish at little Big Al's Salmon Shack, scrumptious halibut and rockfish, Jan and I took a long peaceful canoe ride in Chilkoot Lake, and best of all, we did some relaxing and enjoying and savoring our terrific trip so far.

Tomorrow we start the last segment of our Alaska trip, we get on the ferry at 12:30pm, sail an hour over to Skagway, then we plan to drive up to Carcross in the Yukon for the night, then if you reference the map in the previous post, we will then go to Watson Lake, Dease Lake, stop for 2 nights at the intersection of the Cassier Highway and the road that goes to Stewart and Hyder, we hope to see a ton of brown bears there, then down to the Yellowhead Highway and stop right about where the highway does a sharp bend just to the left of the arrow pointing to the Yellowhead Highway in Houston, on to Prince George, then finally through Jasper down the Icefields Parkway into Banff.  1490 miles of hopefully decent 2 lane road, we haven't heard anything bad about the Cassier so we have our fingers crossed!  Now all this time we are expecting to be out of cell coverage, with very minimal internet until we get to Banff, and maybe noy until we work our way back into the lower 48 around Glacier National Park.  So bear with me if it's a bit until the next post.


Sandy Smith said...

Does Canadian Customs ever ask you if you have weapons on the coach? My buddy got to leave his guns behind a couple of years ago.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bill, We just decided to fly the 170 back south for the winter. The plan is to leave Kenai around Sep. 1 and follow the highway to Calgary. Jessica wants to visit Banff so we expect to be there around Sep. 5th or 6th?? (weather permitting) I'll keep an eye on the blog.. maybe we'll see you along the way?...We have to visit Haines on of these days. It sounds great! See ya, Keith

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah.. after Calgary and a side trip to Banff, I plan to go through Cutbank, MT and then down the east side of the Rockies to Mt. Rushmore.. then make our way to Georgia. Keith

Bill said...

Sandy--We have been through Canadian customs twice now and each time they have asked about alcohol, weapons, and tobacco. We left our guns behind for this trip in anticipation of this. Otherwise they have been very nice and polite, one more to go today.

Bill said...

Keith--Should be a wonderful trip south, at least you'll have your airplane to use this winter. It would be a kick to meet up again although I think we may just miss. We will be in Banff 8/31-9/2 then on to East Glacier. It was very difficult getting a reservation for a site there so we had to move our dates around, in fact we were trying to stop in Jasper as well and were unable to get a site at all. Popular places!
Fly safe!