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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,056

    Default Skagway and Haines.

    The small town of Skagway reminded me very much of Dawson City. But then, they both date back to the gold rush, so that is probably not surprising.






    The rain eased a little after lunch when I took the opportunity to look around some of the shops. There was a cruise ship in dock, and the town was buzzing with visitors. At the grocery store I came in contact with the harsh reality of living in these remote location. "Milk will be in on Tuesday."

    At the visitor centre in Watson Lake I had gathered all the details for the ferry, and the Yukon White Pass Railway, which sounded like it would be a nice excursion. And I am sure it is. But on the day I was in Skagway, visibility was low, and up on the pass would have been close to zero. I am so glad I did not follow their advice to prebook the trip.

    At the ferry terminal, Andrew, who I told about my problem with the camera, suggested I go to Radio Shack, and see if they could help me. Said they have all sorts of connections and cables there, as the cruise ships bring folk from all over the world.

    It was a bright young man at Radio Shack who said he would check to see what they had, after I had explained my dilemna. When he was not able to find anything suitable, he asked if he could play around with the camera for a moment. I (reluctantly) let him. Here was a young man who was able to think outside the box, and beyond my specific question. After a few minutes he found a setting on the camera which said 'copy from camera to card', and proceeded to do just that. I was elated that my problem had been solved. It helps when you have some idea of where to look and what to look for.

    (Thank you to those members who offered to help - off forum. Much appreciated.)

    When I came out of Radio Shack there was a couple looking at my vehicle. I offered to show them the set up, and found out that Tony and his wife were from Brisbane. They were on the cruise, but when they got back to Vancouver, had booked a camper for a few weeks, to travel across Canada. The sad part for me was, they had a written copy of the itenary friends of them had done, and were going to do the same trip. I encouraged them to design their own trip.

    Back at the ferry terminal I made myself a cuppa and proceeded to wait the more than an hour till boarding time. A young man who came around to check if all propane was turned off, told me that he has a van exactly the same as mine, even the same colour. I lounged on my bed with my drink and book, until I heard a loud rap on the window. I had fallen asleep, and it was now time for boarding.

    With the car securely parked, I made my way to the lounge, and took a seat right up front. Two ladies had already made themselves comfortable there. Turned out they were from St Marys, a small village north of Bethel. I learned much about life in those remote areas. It would be great to have an opportunity to visit there, and see it for myself. But somehow, I can not imagine living anywhere, where there is not a supermarket around the corner. Can not imagine having to wait till 'Tuesday' or even longer, for milk.

    Kathy and Ellen are Sisters of a Franciscan order, and have been in this remote are for some 15 years. Around the same age as myself, I dips me lid to them. Having ascertained that they have access to the internet, even in that remote area, left them with my card, linking to this page. (It was great to get an email from them shortly after.)

    And then Haines was in sight. The journey had been smooth, despite the rain. I am certain the surrounding scenery was magnificent... but with visibility as poor as it was, we did not get to see any of it.

    It was while waiting for my turn to drive off the ferry, that I spotted Giles in his Lotus... with writing all over it. Went over to have a chat with him, till I was told to get in the car, and exit the ferry.... into the pouring rain. Decided to stop for a moment and take a quick shot of the ferry, just for keepsake, when Giles drew up alongside.


    We exchanged a few words... with the emphasis on the 'few'... and agreed to meet at the campsite. Not specifying which campsite. After driving around the few streets which make up Haines AK, I decided to enquire at the Oceanside RV Park. This was a basic small (probably a dozen sites) RV park. Joyce, the owner was a real sweetie, showed me the facilities - toilets and shower off a small room with washing machine, dryer, microwave, sink, table and chairs, sofa and a small 'shop'. She went on to explain the cost of everything, and then showed me the 'honour' jar. Place money in the jar for shower tokens, change money in the jar for the washing machine and dryer and pay for coffee and other items bought. Seems to work well; most people are honest.


    Wonder if this sign has anything to do with it.

    What caught my attention was all the quarters in the jar, and I asked if I could go through them to see if there were any for the sets I was trying to make up for my grandchildren. Sure! Joyce did not have any objection. As it is, there were quite a few. Told Joyce next morning how many I had taken, and replaced with notes. She said she had more, if I was interested. It was then that she brought out a bucket half full with quarters, and explained to me that she had yet to bundle them into roles of $10, as required by the bank.

    To cut a long story short, I went through almost $250 worth of quarters, and was just seven coins short of completing three sets of all 50 States and DC. While I was on it, I figured I may as well bundle them into the roles for her. She was most grateful, and it earned me a night's free accommodation.

    When I awoke that Sunday morning it was no longer raining, and the sun was shining brightly. For the first time I could see the surroundings. It was a glorious site over the water.


    Spent Sunday afternoon taking in the sights around this little place. Just a few streets, actually. But there was a supermarket, and they had milk! Drove up to the ferry terminal, and past there to the lake, where the bears come to fish. Even though others said they had seen them, there were none when I went.

    This also gave me a good opportunity to see the road on which we had come in the evening before.


    The approach to Haines. The first sight of the town, which we should have got the night before, but didn't.


    And Haines, from the far side, the other side of the harbour.


    Next morning I planned to leave this quaint little town, and head back up to the Alaska Highway, and beyond.

    Lifey

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,023

    Default Great stuff !

    Enjoying your report as usual and some great photo captures. I enjoyed reading about the banking/cashing up arrangement, and loved the warning notice !! [Not that it would deter those 'inclined' in the 'real' world as we know it. lol]

    And to think you have been to the desert, albeit the smallest in the world, bizzare !

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,056

    Default Haines Highway

    Now that I was back in the land of less than $5 per gallon for fuel ($4.969), I figured I would fill up and pray that it would take me through to Tok. It did.

    For the first 18 or so miles the highway follows the Chilkat River. Just 52 miles long, this river originates at the Chilkat Glacier in BC. Glacial rivers tend to be shallow and very wide, especially near their source. This one was no exception, shallow with sand bars and gravel bars made from glacial debris. It was when the wind blew up that the sand swirled above the river, making it look as if the river was 'steaming'.


    About half way to the Canadian border I came to a sign 'Porcupine Crossing', and this one lane bridge over the Klehini River.


    Ever curious, and wanting to know where it leads, I followed that truck and crossed the bridge. On the turnout on the other side was an old broken sign. Although one third was missing, I could still make out that the road ahead followed an old gold trail.


    (I have since found a photo of the complete sign on the internet.)

    The road split soon after. I took what looked to be the better one. Still, avoiding potholes was sometimes a challenge.


    There was some rural civilization along this road. This farm stood out. There was as yet, nothing growing, but it looked like they might supplement the farm income with driving the schoolbus.


    Not a great deal further on - probably about 6 miles from the bridge - I came to what I considered for me to be the end of the road.


    Back on the Haines Hwy there is a rest area just north of this bridge. The view up river from here is quite spectacular. A typical glacial morain.


    The four large interpretive boards at the rest area give the history of the Dalton Trail from native and wildlife fishing trail, to an oil and fur trading route, the goldrush and eventually 'trail to highway' in 1943. I would post the photos of the boards here (they are in my album), but I am not sure if you can enlarge them, to be able to read all this interesting information.

    And finally, there was a bear... the only bear I have been able to pat!


    As an aside of interest, the house up on the hill, across from the rest area is for sale. A nice retirement shack.

    The road climbed steadily up to the border. My seventh border crossing went without any memorable moment to record.

    Once over the border it seemed as if by magic, I was once again in snow.


    Crossing the mountain pass here was as spectacular as it had been down to Skagway.


    Though overcast, it did not rain. We did get a few flurries of light snow and it was very windy. Snow was blowing over the road, and each time I got out of the van I was caught up in it.


    Driving up north early in the season has had some challenges... much is not open yet, and other things are not yet accessible. But then, look at the plusses. Up on the high plains, over the mountain passes... these views more than make up for the disappoinments.


    Though traffic was rare, I was not always alone on the road.


    Up ahead there appeared to be a vehicle parked on the road, without having made any attempt to move off as far as possible. I wondered if he was in trouble. There was some activity going on next to the vehicle, on the snow. Still no one signalled, I kept going. That is, until I saw this coming towards me.....


    They were moving quite fast, and I did not get an opportunity to get out of the van to get a really good photo. This one was taken through the passenger window.

    All too soon I was headed out of the snow and descending into the Haines Junction area.


    But this magnificent highway had one more surprise in store for me. It was not all that far from Haines Junction when I saw the black 'something' by the side of the road, and slowed down. Unfortunately a vehicle coming the other way scared it, and it scurried up the hill. So by the time I got close enough, I was not even sure what it was I was looking at. It seemed to be a porcupine. However, I always thought porcupine were small animals. Something like an echidna. This one must have been all of three feet from nose to tail tip and at least 18" tall. It was a good ways off when I took this photo... the best I could get.


    Just 146 miles long, and in many drivers' estimation at most three hours driving. For me, it was almost twice that, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. There was less than half a day now, and I still wanted to make it to Tok.

    Lifey
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-02-2012 at 06:14 PM. Reason: typos!

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,056

    Default By Special Request

    She's looked after me very well, and other than regular drinks and a little TLC, has not demanded much. We've settled in well together. She seems to enjoy the adventures as much as I do.


    Hope ye like it Dave.

    Lifey

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,023

    Default Cheers.

    I do indeed, glad to hear you are getting along well together !

    I think that critter might be a Wolverine. [?]

    Dave.

  6. #46

    Default Looking good, Young Lady

    I'm thoroughly enjoying your ongoing reports and the pictures. Thanks for sharing them!

    Foy

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,056

    Default Oooops! I forgot.

    After leaving Haines the first thing one comes to, along the road, is the Bald Eagle Preserve. This is rather a large area with viewpoints off the road. The largest of these is an interpretive turn out. I did stop there, but since I failed to see any birds, did not make any notes about it. It is apparently not the ideal time for eagle watching.

    Anyway, I had a really good close up and personal with a bald eagle out on the Alaska Highway, so was not too disappointed.

    Lifey

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,142

    Default

    In the winter months, one can often see hundreds of these birds on every available branch. Sorry, they weren't around when you visited!

    Mark

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,142

    Default That's not even a big one!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    ... However, I always thought porcupine were small animals. Something like an echidna. This one must have been all of three feet from nose to tail tip and at least 18" tall.
    Lifey, I can guarantee that porcupines can appear to be that big. I've always equated them with the size of a larger cow dog -- their actually bodies are smaller but those nasty quills add as much as 150% size. I've run into several when I was kid -- they are impressive beasts!

    They are actually pretty shy and gentle -- except when you've unintentionally cornered one... and then.... eeeeeeeyow -- Look out!

    Mark

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,056

    Default On to Tok.

    In the last year or so, Haines Junction has lost its one and only supermarket. All I wanted was a tomato. The lovely lasses at the information centre suggested I could get one at a certain service station / convenience store. Sure enough they had one - $2.29! Even though Haines Junction has a lot to offer, it is the one thing which sticks in my mind. I ensured that not a scrap of that tomato went to waste.

    Right opposite the information centre is a fantastic bakery. It seemed quite busy, so looked like a good place to have something to eat. It was well past lunch time, and I was more than a little peckish. They made a toasted ham and a toasted cheese sandwich for me, just the way I like it. I'm finding up north that folk are much more willing to cater to my taste. There is a lot less of pre-prepared food.

    Sometime ago, when responding in astraclub's thread, I mentioned the unique little church in Beaver Creek. Well, seems it is not so unique after all, there is an identical one in Haines Junction.




    Despite my now being well behind schedule to get to Tok by the evening, I had to check it out, and 'rest a while'.


    On the other side of the road is St Christopher's Anglican church - a very attractive log cabin church.


    It was time to hit the road again, and see how far I would make it. I really wanted to get over the border before stopping. I was running out of Canadian money. :)

    You'd think by now I would be getting used to this spectacular scenery around me, but somehow, I just had to keep stopping and taking, yet another photo. The majesty of those snow capped mountains just amazes me.


    The road however, did not. It all came back to me, from the last visit, how rough and bumpy this road can be. This section of the Alcan - Haines Junction to Tok, and in particular that section around Beaver Creek - is largely built on permafrost. Hence, it is almost as if the foundations of this road are fluid. There was not much traffic, and on straight stretches of the road one could pick the smoothest part, regardless on which side of the road it was. But that was not always the case, just as one did not always pick up a bump before hitting it. The worst were marked with warnings. Nonetheless, there were times that I thought I was about to take off, and feared that all my crockery would be broken. It was a slow journey!

    There were two bears on the road here, and the two vehicles in front of me slowed and stopped. One of the bears hurried off into the bushes, but this one approached the cars. When they pulled off, it approached my vehicle, and then went on to the next. (I was thinking of Giles in his Lotus. They would have been eye ball to eye ball.)


    He'd obviously been in a fight, with his snout still bleeding.

    My eighth border crossing, late in the day, was rather mundane. I just responded to the questions asked. Somehow, I don't think he believed me, as he asked at least six times, in different ways, if I had anyone else (or a pet) with me. He wished me well.

    At this point the road improved somewhat. I knew Tok would be an hour's drive, and decided to head there. Arrived at the only RV park with vacant spaces before 9pm. Slept well that night.

    Somewhere during this day, I took the following photos. I am pretty sure this was after the border crossing, as I do not think that Tesoro is available in Canada. At least, I have not seen it there. And the website does not give any Canadian locations. (My camera has a built in GPS, which should, together with Google Earth, be able to tell me where it was taken. But I cannot work out how get Google Earth to show me after I have uploaded the photos to the computer. If any of you camera buffs knows - it is a Casio HG20.)


    Yes, that is a Tesoro fuel point.


    Those trees looked as if they should have fairy lights on them.


    What are these poles?

    I have seen these poles on quite a few roads, both this trip, and last. I suspect they have something to do with de-icing roads. Would be happy for someone tell me.

    Lifey

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