Northern Wanderers

Days 57-59: Haines, Alaska

Arriving at the Haines Hitch Up RV Park

A grizzly spotted alongside the highway. — Duane Pilson photo

Days 57-59

When we left the Cottonwood it was a nice day, which we hoped would follow us all day. The highway for the most part was good. We only had to slow down a couple of times for the occasional frost heave or rough section.

We stopped at Haines Junction to visit the new Da Ku Cultural Center, which also houses the Tourist Information Center and the Kluane National Park and Reserve Center. We were impressed with the variety and type of displays and are hoping to visit it again next year.

Leaving Haines Junction we headed south to our evening’s destination: Haines, Alaska. On the way we decided to stop for lunch on a pull-off by Dezadeash Lake, a large lake with a depth of only four metres, making it too warm in the summer for the lake trout. So they go to the mouths of the glacier-fed streams flowing into the lake where the water is cooler. The highway was great until we hit the British Columbia section, where it quickly deteriorated to a rough highway with lots of cracks and repairs.

The highway to Haines first takes us past the Canada Customs, then through the U.S. border crossing, where we had a tomato confiscated that we had bought in the U.S. It had a Mexican label and we had no U.S. receipt. The drive from the U.S. border is very scenic, with frequent glimpses of the Chilkat River.

Arriving at the Haines Hitch Up RV Park, we set up our unit on a grass space. Imagine, no gravel. Since our first visit to Haines we have always stayed at this RV park, as it is not the norm to find a place with grass stalls or one so well-kept and clean.

As we had never used the Alaska Marine Highway before, the next day we took a drive out to the terminal to check on procedures and to find out what to expect. We were told what lane to queue up in and when we could pull the trailer out for our first experience on an Alaska Marine Highway ferry.

We were lucky enough to be in Haines at the same time as the Southeast Alaska Fair, so we decided to check it out. Having never been to a small community fair before, we didn’t know what to expect. What a surprise! We had a great time visiting the small booths, listening to the entertainment, getting a snack and checking out the local submissions for various crafts.

We did some shopping, went to an operating fish cannery and visited the Sheldon Museum. The museum has displays on the history of the local area, including Fort Seward and the Tlingit people of the Chilkat Valley. We have always felt this is great place to visit to enjoy the scenery and the ambiance of the town.

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