HAZELTON TO SKAGWAY
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05/28 - Beautiful sunny morning but 37 degrees. Went to the K'SAN Indian Village in Hazelton. Unfortunately they were packing everything for evacuation due to the expected flooding. Most of the artifacts were crated and ready for pickup. The government says to expect 10 ft of water, but the 'elders' say 5. Last time was 140 years ago and the 'elders' have my vote. They gave us an abbreviated tour of what was still there and lots of information on their history. Interesting people and extremely friendly. Off to our adventure up the Casiar Highway. More miles of forest and little traffic. Saw a total of 6 Black bears on the way to Stewart. 5 of them were lunching along the road and 1 was just watching tourists! (I think I saw one of them with a picnic basket at his side) There is not much in Stewart but we had a great dinner at the Bitter Creek Cafe. Halibut encrusted with pistachios and baked. EXCELLENT! We are in The BEAR RIVER RV PARK right on the bank of Bittter Creek.
05/29 - Raining this morning. However a little rain never stops a true adventurer! First into HYDER< ALASKA. Back into the US! Sign says 'Friendliest Ghost Town in America'. I had been told we could not get up to the Salmon Glacier due to snow being on the road. Went about 7 miles on the road (dirt) until we came to where the plows had not removed the snow. There were two pickups parked so I spoke with one of the men who was getting his snowmobile started when the road was going to open. He expected another week or so. They were going on into the mine to try to restore power as they had been running on generators for a while. 30+ feet of snow will knock out power. Had to back up about half a mile to a spot where I could turn. Stopped at the Fishing Bridge Bear Viewing station. The bears are sleeping in this year. Toured the town. Bought a pack of smoked salmon. YUMMY! Got a nice mug in one of the gift shops. Interesting town. No law enforcement. No services. A small post office with mail via float plane 2 days a week. (weather permitting) Interesting story from the owner of the This n That Gift Shop- Seems a woman came over to Hyder, got drunk and decided to terrorize the town. Several of the men went after her. The Canadian Royal Mounted Police were called. They came to HYDER (USA) to assist. Cornered her in her can and drove her back into Canada. She ran Customs (driving) where they had official jurisdiction and nailed her. Now THAT'S the type of international relations we need worldwide. Back through customs (minor questions) and picked up some bread and pastries at the local bakery. Had lunch and off in search of the bears. Found several along the road out of STEWART and without the trailer were able to stop and get some decent pictures. The BLACK BEAR is a beautiful creature. Very camera shy except for the one that seemed to enjoy watching crazy tourists watching bears. A good telephoto lens is definitely needed to get the bear shots. The females are quite protective of their cubs and weigh 200+ lbs. The males weigh up to 400 lbs. .Even in the rain this is a beautiful place.
05/30 - Left Stewart and hit the Cassiar Hwy northbound. Saw several more bears and a MOOSE. No place to pull over for a photo. The shoulders are no more than 3-4 feet and the road is pretty narrow, Stopped to see Hodder Lake. and continued on. Pretty soon the pavement ended and we were on what they call 'chip seal'. (gravel with some oily substance to sort of bind it together) Now the trailer needs a serious washing. Front is covered with a black mess. Sides are grey. Picked an RV Park near ISKUT as it was about 3PM and I had gone 200 miles. Mountain Shadow RV Park. Small lake with big mountains covered with snow, Raining off and on with sun in between. About 60 degrees and dinner is in the oven. No TV. No radio. But WI FI internet.
05/31 - Woke up this morning and checked the outdoor temperature. 37 degrees. Chilly. Hit the road and drove a long 218 miles on the Cassiar. Hit a lot of construction zones where they were fixing the over winter road damage. About 50 miles was on gravel which was overall better than the black top. It's easy to repair gravel! Part of the road late yesterday and today had been recently 'seal coated' and the trailer was covered in the front with up to 1/2 inch of mud. Then dust. Then a few drops of rain. Lots of grades up to 8% but again, very little traffic. Only had one car passed us all day and I was going below the 50 mph limit because of the road condition. Arrived WATSON LAKE and picked the Downtown RV park. Big dirt lot with full hookups and Cable. Also WIFI. Not pretty but I would come back here in a minute. Saw a nice film at the visitor center on the Alaska Highway Project and then we went to the Planetarium and saw a great show followed by a film on the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Elena jumped on the laundry room and caught up with the washing. Hitting the sack early. It's 10:15 and the sun just set.
06/01 - June 1st and we made it to Skagway Alaska. Drove 325 mile from Watson Lake to Skagway. A lot of miles, but not a bad trip. Took Hwy 8 through Tagish and Carcross. The trip was mosly mile after mile of forest with the Canadian Rockies in the background. Reminded me of the Denver area. Got lucky and got behind a road grader on the way into Skagway. Unfortunately the water truck had already been there. Another hosing down when we got the Pullen Creek RV Park. We are within walking distance of the WPYR and the cruise ship dock and right next to the downtown area. Princess cruise was in port and they were terrorizing the gift shops. We have tickets for a day cruise to Juneau with a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier for Sunday and plan on the White Pass train trip Saturday. On the way into town we saw a sign for Pizza and it sounded good. So now I have left over pizza in the refrigerator for breakfast. It's 10:30 and 59 degrees out and still light. Time to collapse into bed.
06/02 - Overcast and some showers. Went back to the 'tourist shops' for a few souvenirs. Got on board the train for the noon trip to Fraser Meadows. Beautiful job restoring the engine as well as the cars. Spent the next four hours standing outside on the platform shooting pictures. Almost froze as we gained altitude and started to see significant snow along the tracks! The pictures say it all. A great day.
06-03 - Have tickets for the FJORD EXPRESS to JUNEAU. Departed the dock at 8AM to stop and pick up some more passengers in Haines. The boat, a 65 foot catamaran is powered by twin Kamatzu diesels and uses 50 gallon of fuel per hour at 30 knots. Smooth, comfortable trip. This is a wildlife viewing cruise with a 3 hour layover in Juneau. We saw Harbor Seals, Eagles, Humpback Whales, Sea Lions and dolphins. Passed several lighthouses along the way. Mostly unmanned or no longer in service. Put in at AKUE BAY, and were met by a tour bus for the 14 mile ride to Juneau. Had linch at the 'Wharf', an old airplane hanger that had been relocated. Walked around Juneau along with 5 cruise ship's full of tourists. The shops were like in Skagway but more of them and packed. The bus picked us up for a visit to the Mendenhall Glacier. Had one hour to see and learn about it. Beautiful sight. Back to the boat for the return with many stops to see whales and eagles. Got back to Skagway late as no one was in a hurry and the whales were cooperative. Saw one of the new ferries crossing . Powered by 4 8000 HP diesels and consumes 1400 GPH. Not sure of the speed it runs, but it was moving right along. Upon return to Skagway we had a bowl of soup and desert as we did not really want or need a full meal at 9:30. Long day, but a great day.
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