Haines - July 27-30

Monday, July 27, 2009
Haines, Alaska, United States
Haines was our favorite place so far. Of course, it helped that we had perfect weather—sunny and in the 70's. It’s right on Portage Cove off the Lynn Canal with incredible mountain views everywhere.
We moved from Hitch-Up RV (in town) to OCEANVIEW CAMPGROUND (right on the water). What an awesome view, and the people couldn’t be more helpful and friendly. The firstquestion here was "Would you like to do the crab dinner?"  ($6 each).
About six of us went with Ben (campground assistant) and got fresh Dungeness Crabs right from the fishing boat. 

Ben showed us how to clean them—hold the claws and legs from behind, hit the shell so it comes off, break in half and shake the guts out.   Not really very  hard to clean. Good thing I got the heavy rubber gloves!  

Ben boiled the crabs and everyone brought a dish. Long tables were set up under a tent for a family-style buffet. Joyce, the campground owner, came around and showed us how to get the meat out. Joyce made a really nice little speech about how she feels like everyone is family and wants us all to have a great time in Haines; it was very touching!
We got three crabs and could only eat two so have lots left over for another meal. Very surprised how much meat was in them—claws, legs, and body. We had one more of these fabulous dinners before we left. Delicious and so much fun!
Other places we ate in Haines:
~Bear-ritto restaurant; chocolate/cherry and maple/walnut croissants; not that great.
~Chilkat Bakery--good 
~On Tuesday nights, the Elks Club has an all you can eat tacos. Lots of fun hearing stories from the locals. Quite a few people from the campground also there so it was a lively evening.
Lutak Road is right along the Lynn Canal and the Chilkat River; the drive was so beautiful.
Talked to the guys fishing by the bridge; one of them from Oklahoma was in the same campground. Not too many salmon were being caught. 

As we were driving the road to the Chilkoot State Park, a grizzly bear heading toward the bridge. Went back to tell the fishermen; they got off the river just in time. Stood on the bridge and watched the bear walk along the bank.
Finished our Chilkoot State Park drive along the river. At the Fish Weir, the salmon are counted so it was interesting to see how many came up the river each day. 
Chilkoot Lake is beautiful; there were even a few eagles.
 
On the way back, there were hundreds of ducks—
Surf Scoters—in a group; they would follow each other diving down one row after the other in such a choreographed fashion. Fascinated by their organization.
Mud Bay Road was another beautiful drive with views of the water and glaciers. Watched about 6-10 young eagles flying in the trees next to the road. They didn’t venture out very far and were constantly chasing each other.
Very picturesque small boat harbor. 

The end of the road is
Chilkat State Park. Great views of Davidson Tidewater Glacier and the Rainbow Glacier and its waterfall. Picked some berries along the way. At the camp host building, she told me they were Thimble berries and Twisted Stalk/Watermelon berries—both good to eat. Tried the Thimble berry when we got home, and oh my gosh were they bitter.
Toured the Ft. Seward area. There were no artisans working at the Alaska Indian Arts but their work and displays were very interesting.

The Seawolf Gallery had very nice carvings and masks.
Beautiful gardens at the Wild Iris gift shop. 
Some really nice stores and art work throughout the town. 
Trading Post had a beautiful whale carved into a piece of marble.
Watched the Dejon Smoke Shop unload to big tubs full of halibut; the one took three men to move it was so big—at least 6’ long.
The "World" cruise ship was docked here. It’s a condo ship that costs from 1.5 to 7 million depending on the size of the room. Wow!
Drove up the Haines Highway to Chilkat Valley Farm to pick strawberries; it closed at 2:00 so we didn’t get to pick. Surprised that the strawberries were so tiny. Looked for eagles in the Eagle Preserve; didn’t see any. No fish in the 2 fishwheels that were along the river.
The Southwest Alaska State Fair started the last day we were there. Saw the buildings from the movie set White Fang. The totem being carved was very impressive, and the homemade items entered were very impressive. Ate all kinds of food, desserts, and even got homemade root beer. There were all kinds of music groups during the day. You can tell we’re getting old when we left because the rock music was too loud.
We had so much fun with the people in this campground. Lots of laughs with the Oklahoma guy that fished every day about being bear bait. The picnic tables by the water were perfect for chatting with people and watching the two seals that came around in the evenings.
Spent several evenings around the campfire with a great group of people from Robertsville Alabama,   Thunderbay Ontario , and Sebring Florida—laughed constantly! Joyce, the owner, always came and added to the fun with her stories. One night the couple that owned “Mama Lou’s” restaurant in Alabama even made delicious meatballs and other appetizers. With other people’s additions, there was quite a spread on the picnic table. Another great night of fun.
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