Wednesday, August 16, 2006

M - Historic Haines

A very exciting thing which has nothing to do with our trip. You should know that before I came away on this trip I was coaching a group of teenagers for competitive rock climbing which is called Sportclimbing. Well, three of my group were selected for the NZ youth team, and they are now in Zurich, Switzerland preparing for the big competition in Austia. You can read their travel diary and see some photos

Well done to Bob, Annika, and Georgia, your hard work is paying off and I'm sure you will do great in the Champs! Bob went last year as well but for Annika and George this is their first trip. I'm very jealous seeing photos of you in Switzerland, I would really like to go there again.

Anyhow, back to our trip, since my last big update we have been all over the Kenai Peninsula. We had some great weather as we travelled down, staying on the beach in Ninilchick (see photo with dead fish) visited the carnival gone mad which is the Homer Spit and more great weather in Seward. So great that we stayed 3 nights in their rather nice rather cheap town campground. We went on a cruise in Ressurection Bay, the main objective of which was to see Puffins! Yay Puffins! Seward is pretty, it's touristy but copes well with it. The upper part of town where you drive in and out has a nasty fish cannery smell however.

We also went up to Exit Glacier and hiked our way up to the Harding icefield which caused all sorts of comparisons to the Fox Neve which is not an easy comparison to make as the Harding Icefield is flat. We would have loved to jump up and stomp around on the ice but running shoes are not suitable for this sort of shenanigan so we had to restrain ourselves.

Then we drove up intending to visit Whittier. I had read something about tunnels on the way to Whittier. We stopped briefly along the way and chatted to an American woman who told us some interesting things. There is indeed two tunnels to Whittier, one of which is a toll tunnel and only open for 15mins every hour - and it costs $12 ea and in her words "They don't like anyone coming in who doesn't live there" AND everyone there lives in a single big apartment block. This we have GOT to see. And it all come true, and would you belive we went to a cafe cos it was so cold and rainy and Josh bought a esspresso which was easily the best coffee we have had in the USA - In Whittier!!! Josh said it was the best coffee he ever had in his life but he was very cold. We met a couple of interesting people there, Mike and his daughter Tracy, and Brian who are living on their boats, and would you believe it the very next day they were all heading off to Sitka, so we will try to catch up with them there and we might even get to do some sailing. Brian is single handing, and hopes to sail all the way to NZ following the same route the Grooms did.

Then came Valdez, town of a thousand RVs. The interesting thing there was going into a cannery to buy some fish and having to walk right through the canning floor. It didn't smell as bad as Seward. Also we met a fishing captain who showed us his boat and as we walked away we realised he must have been a Kiwi but he didn't say...

In the last day or so we have ridden back along a section of the AlCan we already rode on the way in, back into the yukon, then we turned south at Haines Junction and now we are in Haines, which is Alaska again! On the way through, you must pass through a little town named Tok (pronounced Toke) which has the dubious distinction of being the coldest place in Alaska. It's a cool little town (indeed!) and it has a motorcycle only campground the Thompson's Eagle's Claw where we stayed on the way in and now out again. The Thompson's gave Josh a "Grown in Alaska" sticker which he now has proudly on his helmet.

I'm liking Haines, it has a long history and heaps of Victorian buildings. There are a lot of little galleries and native arts here. This afternoon we visited an antique cannery, which has possibly the only remaining examples of the machines which were used up until the late 70's. They are all operational, but have been converted to electric from the old steam system, and slowed down X10 so you can actually see what is happening.

We have to stay up all night tonight, and at 4am-ish we will board the ferry to go to Sitka. This is a big part of our trip, going back to the place where Josh was born. So we will be on the boat all day tommorrow, landing in Sitka at 8:30pm - Alaska is big!

This post is very rambling as I am rushing as I run out of time yet again!

No comments: