Skagway is visited by up to four large cruise ships a day; Haines hosts one cruise ship a week. It makes all the difference in the world. Many of the buildings in Skagway housed temporary retail staff. The homes we see here in Haines are lived in by people who really live here. Many are very neat and tidy, something we don't take for granted in Alaska. There's a bit of the Wild West with few rules and regulations. If you want to keep old parts of snow plows and collapsing sheds in your yard, so be it. But here in Haines the homes that are not finished, clearly have someone working on them and the yards have flower beds and baskets. Many folks have green houses and cold frames in an effort to prolong their limited growing season and grow fresh, affordable produce. And the views they have from their windows are stunning.
There are few souvenir shops and restaurants here, but there is an IGA, True Value hardware, and Radio Shack. Skagway's downtown was quaint with historical buildings (or look-alikes), but the downtown here is small town ticky tacky. The locals are here to enjoy the land and its bounty. And we did the same driving north to Chilkoot Lake State Park and south to Chilkat State Park. Snow capped mountains loomed around us; some had glaciers oozing down their sides.
But what thrilled us the most was seeing grizzly bears, something we never accomplished on previous trips to Alaska. We didn't realize how much bears like to eat grass. The salmon have started coming up stream, but these two bears mowed a field for over ten hours that we know of. The bald eagles nearby were far more interested in those salmon. One hauled a large one onto the beach and was joined by six more eagles, trying to get in on the dinner. They didn't really hurt each other, but lots of posturing was going on as the pecking order was clearly established.
Some bald eagle facts:
Adults weigh between 9 and 12 pounds and their wiing span can be up to 7 feet.
Females are slightly larger than males.
They can fly 30mph and dive down over 100 mph.
A bald eagle can spot a fish over one mile away.
The weight of their skeleton is less than half the weight of their feathers.
It is illegal to possess the feather of a bald eagle unless you are a Native American.
And now you know.