We arrived in Haines early in the day and set up camp at Oceanside RV Park . It has everything one could want in a park (FHU, cable) and then some. There are other RV Parks in Haines that have the same amenities but the one thing they lack is the most important: The View. This isn’t just any view; one can see the boat harbor, the Lynn Canal, the mountains, the eagles, the town… It is a great view. It doesn’t hurt, either, that Joyce, the owner/manager/host is a warm and wonderful person that one just instantly likes. While the spaces get tight when the tiny campground gets crowded, we never felt claustrophobic (and I am very claustrophobic). The closeness of neighbors leads to a lot of conversations, happy hours, and general good times.
We spent five wonderful days in Haines, doing everything and nothing at all. Mostly, we just relaxed. Its kind of hard not to, as every time I stepped outside, the view stopped me dead. I would go, sit down at one of the picnic benches, and just take it all in. This took up quite a few hours in the day since it was sunny and warm four days out of five. What could be better in town? (I’m not posting any pictures – you just have to see it for yourself).
We did manage to do some things away from the campground.
We took the Dalton Trail which led up into the Tongass Forest to the Porcupine gold claims. If you have seen the Discovery show “Gold Rush,” you will know the characters. We actually got waved at by Dakota Fred, who passed us on the way up.
Sign at the start of the Dalton Trail (found at Porcupine Crossing)
We found a logging road leading further into the forest and saw a black bear climb a tree and a grizzly stand on his hind legs checking us out (they were both quicker than I, so pretend I got the pictures). We found a beaver pond with two pairs of Trumpeter Swans we watched for a while.
On another day we checked out the Chilkat River. The campground there is tight for large RVs but great for smaller ones. The camp host here gets a cabin with the most amazing view that includes hanging glaciers.
We also wandered down to Chilkoot Lake. It is a beautiful spot for kayaking or picnicking and the campground has a couple of spots larger rigs could fit in, one with a beautiful view of the lake (but someone was in it). The river that flows from the lake is a prime bear watching spot but the salmon aren’t yet running.
We checked out Dalton City, the Southeast Alaska State Fairgrounds. Nothing was happening but Haines Brewing was open and we tried a couple of their brews. I preferred the Amber but Mike thought it was hoppy.
Fireweed restaurant has good salads and pizza. It is a small space that we hear is standing room only for dinner. The interior is pretty cool as it is in one of the old fort buildings. Finally, we found mostly normal (lower 48) priced groceries – there are two grocery stores in Haines. Their prices were the same ($9.99 for new york strip) for foods and neither had really great looking fresh vegetables. But they both had a decent array of brands and some organic and natural foods.
While in Haines, with so much down time, I did manage to read a book: If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name. It’s an interesting book about local people and local life by Heather Lende, a writer who lives in Haines. While it didn’t keep me ‘glued to my seat,’ it did provide a great view of what it is like to live in Haines, Alaska. Haines is on our list of potential someday places to permanently live so the book gave me an idea of what to expect.
We tried to find a fishing trip but we didn’t try too hard – it really isn’t salmon season yet. Otherwise, we relaxed, which was sorely needed. It was a great week in a beautiful town.