June 29, Thursday
Today – Tom is back on! Let me explain: For the first 7 days of this trip Tom drove, towed, navigated and masterminded every major location change of the trip. When we landed at Prince Rupert he was able to sit back and let the ferry . . . do the driving! This morning we left Juneau at 8:00, and when we got off the ferry in Haines, we were again on the mainland, done with the water highway, and Tom took over his duties as chief pilot. We got a few pictures loading on the ferry, our last stretch on the channel, and as we entered the dock at Haines.
Here is a picture from the internet to locate us at this point in the trip -- and the layout of Haines.
From the moment we drove off the ferry, into Haines, and out to the HitchUp RV Campground – I loved Haines! It has a totally different feeling to it from the seaside, island, ports – more removed from the frenetic, cruise-ship lifestyle. We had heard rave reviews about the HitchUp RV Campground, and from the moment we got out of the truck these guys were smiling and helpful and full of advice of what we should do . . . "you're going to love Haines!"
We didn’t waste any time. . . a quick set-up, and we were off with a list of things we wanted to see and do on our first afternoon. Haines is truly the place where the Inside Passage meets the northern mainland and where two great landscapes converge. It has been popular with filmakers as the quintessential Alaska town – “White Fang” and “Gold Rush” were both filmed here. There are two main rivers, The Chilkoot and the Chilkat, and having heard that Grizzly and Alaska Brown Bears were beginning to make an appearance along the Chilkoot River we scouted that out first. We found the 2-3 mile section noted for bear viewing, and learned that feeding time was likely to be at 5:00! We would come back!
Then, we went into town to visit the Haines Packing Company where fresh fish is brought in daily, processed, packaged and shipped out. We were able to walk down a long poster-narrated boardwalk outside, with viewing windows to the inside, where workers were busy cutting off the heads, cleaning out the guts, and preparing the fish for either 9 hours of smoking or direct packaging. We bought a different type of fresh salmon to try for tonight’s dinner – same recipe. The Packing Company also had a very nice little gift store called “Some Things Fishy”, including unique handmade gifts and fabrics.
We dropped our fish back by at the Silvermine, re-grouped, and headed out again for what we hoped would be our first bear encounter! Down by the river we talked to a “local” who said that bears are not yet fishing for salmon – instead they are grazing for grubs in the tall grasses beside the riverbank. He said to try again at about 8:00!
At the HitchUp, the two couples camped next to us showed us their grizzly pictures from the night before – a sow and 3 yearling cubs. One picture showed all three cubs standing upright, peering out over the tall grasses. We made one more try – driving down to where the ocean meets the Chilkoot Creek. Nothing. You just can’t rush a good thing – and we have several weeks left in the Alaskan Interior!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown