We arrived in Haines after a 4.5 hour trip on Friday and drove off of the Alaska Marine Highway System for the last time (at least this year :) ). After departing we had to drive through some construction to reach our campground about five miles from the ferry landing. That wouldn’t have been too bad except they were replacing a huge culvert (see picture) and had us routed down the sides of the water route and back up again. Not hard for a Jeep but we weren’t sure about the Mothership. Doris was behind me in Libby and said my rear end only cleared by about an inch when I reached the bottom and started back up the other side. Luckily it all worked out and we made it to camp with no damage. The campground here is really nice. The Chilkoot Lake and the surrounding mountains are beautiful. Alaska has some of the most magnificent scenery you will ever see. Our campsite is nestled deep in the trees and is fairly large. We have no hook-ups and zero cell reception or satellite but it is worth it to stay in a place like this.
The road into the campground runs along the Chilkoot River which in a couple of weeks will be full of salmon returning to Chilkoot Lake. It’s too bad we were a little early as that also brings out the brown bears. There was one sighted on the river Friday afternoon but we were not fortunate enough to be there at the right time to see it. Late Friday we went into Haines, going through the construction again but just with Libby, to check it out and get a bite to eat. The town itself is small (population 1,700) and quaint. We were able to explore the whole town in about 30 minutes! We did find a great place to eat, the Lighthouse Restaurant, and I had some Halibut and Fries while Doris had her favorite – fried chicken. It was very, very good.
Saturday we went to do some sightseeing but found everything we wanted to see closed. This brings up the one and only down side we can find to touring the Inside Passage the way we did instead of a cruise ship. Most of the places in the Inside Passage are all about the cruise ships and everything is centered around them. They don’t expect tourists to be driving cars or making reservation for tours on their own. Signs are almost non-existent showing you where things are and the people you call to make reservations for tours are gone a good bit of the time, expecting the cruise director to be handling it. Don’t get me wrong, the way we did it is absolutely the best way to see the Inside Passage. You just have to work around the little problems that crop up because you are not on a cruise ship. If you take a cruise, you have, at best, eight hours in port and that limits what you see tremendously. We were able to take our time and see everything a port had to offer instead of picking and choosing just one or two places or tours. Many places we went the cruise ship passengers were being rushed in the gift shop or elsewhere to hurry up and get back on the bus. We got to take our time and spend as much as we wanted. :)
Saturday we drove out of town to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve which is about 15 miles north of Haines along the Haines highway. During the winter this is the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world with thousands getting together eat salmon and choose mates. There are about 100 permanent inhabitants but they didn’t cooperate and show themselves to us. We did see one but after the quantities we have seen lately, we were a little disappointed.
We leave tomorrow for Destruction Bay in the Yukon Territory for a one night stop on the way to Tok, AK. I don’t know when any of this will get posted on the blog as I doubt we will have cell service or WiFi there either.