Looking at a google map of the area around Haines, it is obvious that water plays a big part in the economy and history of the town. When we woke this morning, the skies were dark and the rain was continuous, and we looked at each other and shelved our plans to kayak the lovely Chilkoot Lake.
Instead we spent the morning catching up on bills and email, reading some blogs (I can’t possibly catch up on 275 recent posts!), and managing photos of the past two days.
By late morning, we decided it was time to explore another part of town, and walked up and down Main Street laughing at the unique style that is so typical of these small Alaskan towns. Many shops were closed, since it was Thursday. Why Thursday? No doubt everyone needs a break after the cruise ship sails away on Wednesday night. We still managed to browse some local art, found the liquor store for a bit of wine, and the local hardware store supplied a much needed grill brush for my little bbq.
By 2, we decided to again drive out to bear world on the Chilkoot, but the tide was out and the bears were not around. I did manage to get a photo of the quiet Chilkoot Lake, and we half wished for our kayak clothes after all. A couple of kayakers were on the lake, probably because they purchased the trip and couldn’t back out. The clouds were black and the rain came and went. We can kayak any time, so decided not to tempt the rain gods with our presence on that lovely water.
Instead we drove back through Haines and south on the west side of the peninsula to the Chilkat State Park. The two parks are very different! The road to Chilkat is narrow and winding, and the park road itself is blessed with a 14% grade and some serious washboards. The campground was nearly empty and it was thick and dark with vegetation and had no view of the inlet below. In addition, just before entering the park is a local community that is ‘interesting’ to say the least. They seemed to think that cars would grow if they threw them around in the forest. The houses were all ‘unique’, and it appeared that most folks hauled in their water. We saw more junk at one place than I have seen at most junk yards, and every house had its own private junk décor. Very strange.
We found the day use area down on the inlet, and even in the clouds and gray skies, the two nearby glaciers shone pale blue in the gray light . Of course, I played with the camera, with plenty of time to set up the tripod and shoot a couple of F22 1/20 second shots while Mo let Abby go for a swim. I guess the water wasn’t as cold as it looked, because she didn’t want to get out when it was time to go.
Driving back toward town, we passed a fish packing establishment that advertised a gift shop ‘Something Fishy”, in addition to fresh fish and drove down the long dirt driveway to find…nothing. Many red buildings and doors, and a couple of people around, but everything seemed locked up tight with a closed sign on the gift shop. Later in town, a waitress told us that the owner was getting his car fixed in Anchorage, that his wife was running things, and his son should have been out there, but of course they do run things out there “on an Alaskan time schedule”. Maybe a bit like being closed on Thursdays?
Back in town, I wanted some fresh halibut to celebrate our last night in Alaska, and we chose the Bamboo Room and Pioneer Bar. Another unique Alaskan place with a colorful history, it didn’t disappoint us when it came to the Halibut and Chips. We split the meal, at 25 bucks, and it was more than enough for us. Not cheap by any means, but oh so good! I also had a cup of fresh homemade mushroom soup that I think was the best I ever tasted.
After our early supper we decided to drive back out to the bear world and were rewarded with Momma and her two babies running down from the forest to the fish weir below to catch their supper. There were fewer people around, but more distance between us and the bears this time. It was interesting watching the interactions between the mom and her two kids. The boy cub was obviously much more adventurous than the girl. For a long time, Mom fished alone, but then the cubs ran down to the weir and started begging for fish. She didn’t give them any right away, and finally the boy got enough nerve to jump in and catch his own fish. The girl cub was still afraid, kept reaching out to Mom, and sure enough in a few minutes Mom threw up a big fish to her waiting daughter. She did this a few times while boy caught his own fish, and before long all three bears were feasting on fresh salmon.
On the way back out Chilkoot road we an eagle above us so I stopped to try for some shots. I heard a cry and realized that his mate was calling to him nearby, so managed to get a shot of her as well. Even in the dark skies, it was fun to see the fierce eyes of these birds up close.
It was still raining sporadically and quite gloomy when we returned home, but another cruise ship sailing by from Skagway lit up the evening a bit. Tomorrow we will leave Alaska for the last time as we travel east into the Yukon, British Columbia, and Alberta on our way home. I am glad we took the time to come to Haines. When I planned this trip, it was hard to decide whether or not to take these roads from the main highway and Seward, Valdez, and Haines were iffy in the original plan. Still we haven’t had any reservations, and I am so glad. We have extended the trip by almost another week, and haven’t had to be anywhere at a specific time. It’s been wonderful.
The rest of the photos for this day are linked here
In case you missed it, the rest of the bear photos are linked here