Current News – Spring is definitely on its way crocuses are blooming and we are finishing work in the daylight. Our list of jobs has got considerably longer so time is even more precious especially now Karen has two part-time jobs. Margaret has finally been diagnosed with moderate vascular dementia.
Today we charged the batteries, pumped up the tyres and fired up the bikes ready to have some fun tomorrow. This blog offering comes from Haines in Alaska back at the end of the summer in 2013.
Blog 307 Haines 15th -17th August 2013
Leaving our camp-site we rode the short hop through the last bit of Canada (bizarrely we were also now back in British Columbia not Yukon and there were 1000′s of miles of Canada still below us before we entered the lower 48 states).
The borders up there are weird, there is a small thin strip down the side of Canada that is Alaska and therefore USA. We assumed the US wanted ports further south for strategic and military purposes. As always in Alaska and West Coast Canada the scenery was spectacular so we didn’t really mind which country we were in.
Our entry back into the USA (Alaska) was fairly straightforward but they took objection to our displaying an old keepsake Yukon registration plate (number plate) on the front of our bike (understandably I guess). To be honest it was just a convenient place to stash it but we found somewhere else to put it and once removed we were stamped back in. Riding down into Haines we were thankful to have to stop for the roadworks as it meant we could watch the eagles fishing for salmon on the estuary. They were too far away for pictures but it was nice to watch them.
Fortunately we weren’t booked into the honeymoon hotel it made a good picture though.
A Triumph pulled up alongside at the roadworks and after the usual pleasantries and questions we took the opportunity to ask where we might obtain an O ring or replacement for our shock absorber pump in town. He sadly did not know of anywhere where we could buy one but to our immense surprise he announced he had a spare suspension pump at home we could have. We were staggered (these high pressure pumps are not common). We followed Ike back and on the way he showed us an unusual house where it looked as though you could ride over the roof (or mow it). Once we arrived at their place Kev and Ike were in their element talking bikes and Kev was thrilled when Ike told him he could take out his mint Guzzi V65 Lario for a spin.
Once Kev had eventually stopped grinning we made plans for an evening BBQ and followed their recommendation and rode out to Lake Chilkoot a popular spot to see the bears fishing alongside the fishermen. We found lots of salmon and fishermen but sadly no bears. The second picture is of a chum salmon which got accidentally snagged by a fisherman next to us. This was a foul catch according to the rules and sportingly the fish was de hooked and put back into the river to fight another day. Anywhere else a fisherman would have been pleased as punch with a fish like this but up here that’s a tiddler and chum salmon are the least prized variety.
Our lunch spot had a view out towards Skagway our next destination we could even see the ferry we would catch tomorrow.
We were in for another treat on the ride back as Karen spotted an eagle fishing in the sea and shouted to stop for a photo. She had watched it catch a salmon and struggle to lift its bulk back into the air, eventually it gave up the fight and dropped it. It did however give us time to get the cameras out and capture these photos of a magnificent bald eagle fighting for altitude mere feet above our heads.
We managed to remain outside for the BBQ although there were a few midges around. After a great spread Ike’s wife Faith produced some really yummy blueberry biscuit crumble leftovers which we finished off for pudding and we slept soundly on our airbed in their workshop which made a great makeshift spare room.
Next morning we woke to rain so we did a bit of blogging and chatted to Ike and Faith over coffee. It cleared up enough to allow us to explore Haines in the afternoon.
Haines or Dtehshuh (end of the trail) as the Tlingit people called it was so called because was a traditional trade route to the interior. It was a tiny settlement which boomed in the 1898 Klondike gold rush as a supply centre due to its location. The Dalton Trail (much of which followed ancient Tlingit tracks) from Chilkat inlet offered a route to the Yukon and the population swelled to 30’000 souls most of whom were Americans. Gold was also discovered only 36 miles from Haines in 1899 in the porcupine district. It was during this time that the original missions name Haines was widely adopted for the rest of the town. Four canneries were built and the economy continued to boom until 1900 when the ‘White Pass and Yukon Route’ railroad opened in the neighbouring port of Skagway. This stopped the supply business dead and began what some have described as a steady decline.
This seems a bit harsh as Haines is a pleasant little town which has relied on fishing and logging as its main industries for decades. It is a small Alaskan working town with genuine old world charm. The last cannery closed in 1972 but it remains an important small scale fishing port.
Skagway our next destination across the water and also part of Alaska now largely exists to empty the pockets of visiting cruise ship passengers (although it is steeped in history too) but Haines feels more like the real deal.
We also met another fellow traveller Scott in town, he and his wife had been living on their yacht for four years it was now berthed in the harbour so he took us down for the guided tour. It was fascinating to compare our different round the world lifestyles and experiences.
Kev had heard about Haines famous Hammer museum and was keen to visit but was gutted to find it closed, we had to content ourselves with a look around the outside.
On our last morning Ike made us tortilla wraps with meat, eggs, onions etc. then rode down with us to the ferry terminal where we would catch the ferry to Skagway. Ike and Faith (like most Alaskans we had met) went out of their way to make our stay here in Haines very welcoming and fun.
All that was left to do was enjoy the ferry ride to Skagway and hope there were not too many cruise ships in town as the original population of 920 doubles in the summer tourist season in order to deal with more than 900,000 visitors as the harbour can accommodate up to five cruise ships at any one time.
Next Up – Skagway