the drive to Haines, Alaska
Jun 17, 2017
|We did break camp at 8 am sharp but discovered that our fresh water supply was near empty. I made a reservation in an Ocean view campground but did not yet have confirmation. If the place was full we would have to opt for one of the two public lands campgrounds which typically do not have water or electricity. It was incumbent upon us that we should add to our fresh water supply, which usually takes 15 - 20 minutes.
Now we were on the road and I had to look out for a truck stop fuel station equipped with an air pump that would produce more than 100 psi (pounds-square-inch) pressure as I had discovered that my front and rear wheels were about 10 - 15 psi low. We did find Petro Canada and added the needed air pressure. Josef was curious how this works and asked if he could do a wheel. I said "yes, but be careful". As it worked out the young man did four oft the six wheels and I did the rest. I was very proud of my offspring.
On we drove to Walmart to replenish our provisions. Pulling into the Walmart parking lot I was stunned by the many campers and motor homes in the most diverse conditions of age and equipment. Some appear to be permanently camped there. And apparently with the blessing of the store management as a sign would tell.
Carlotta did not find all the items we needed nor did Josef find any worms for fish bait in the sporting section of the store. I remembered a store that my cousin Ulrike took us to in Richmond, BC called Canadian Superstore where we were able to buy a very good German farmer's bread done by a bakery called "Dimpfelmayer". How German can you get! We drove the short distance to this store and Carlotta was able to find all that she was looking for and that included the "Dimpfelmayer" bread ! I remained in the Beaver because one never know if thoughtless shoppers park their sedans in a manner around a large motor home and box you in.
We finally made it back to the Alaska Highway 1 two hours after we had originally planned and headed for Haines Junction, some 141 km (about 80 miles) distant. The weather was dreary and cold. The temperature in camp at 6 am was 48 F. A slight rain had our windshield wipers engaged and we were steadily climbing to higher ground. The road was fine and the Beaver was purring along when suddenly several signs alerted us to a construction site. And a construction site it was. It seemed never to end and was entirely of gravel and earth. It was little comfort that the Beaver's engine's cousins made by Caterpillar were all over the site the rough road seemed to persist. After a near endless drive at 20 - 30 mph over bumpy terrain there was the open road !
We took advantage of it and nursed the speed up to 55 mph anxious for the Haines Junction.
Along the way we noticed fresh snow and all of a sudden we were rolling in the remnant of snow that fell last night! And this all on June 17th ! I had to slow down to make sure that we would not slip on this surface but was relieved that the slushy snow abated as we arrived at the Junction. There was a major bicycle race, an annual event scheduled for today. It was cancelled due to the snowy weather. However we noticed a substantial number of bikers on the road. Perhaps they did not get word of the cancellation?
The road from the Junction down to Haines is the best road we have encountered on this trip. I was incredulous of its condition. The scenery magnificent in spite of the less than stellar weather. High, glaciated mountains seemed to be all around us. The US customs station is about 40 miles before Haines. It was a swift and courteous process and officer Perez wished us a pleasant stay in Haines. Along the way we stopped at the famous wildlife viewing area but were unable to see any of the expected multitude of Bald Eagles. The reason is simple. The great salmon run happens in the fall. No Salmon and the eagles are otherwise busy.
We arrived in Haines, AK by 5 pm and were encamped shortly thereafter. The Beaver and the Honda motor scooter looked horrible. Full of dust and soot. But the view of the Lynn Canal, passageway of the cruise ships docking in nearby Skagway was picture perfect like a large panorama through our windshield. And like on cue, a bald eagle made it's appearance. There was a cruise ship, the Seabourne "MS Nassau" in port.
And all was good!