We stayed at the Gateway Motel until just before checkout time so that
we could do laundry. I also called the ferry company, who informed us
that we could choose to sail Haines to Prince Rupert leaving tonight
at 9:30 am rather than Wednesday morning at 4:30 am. This was a perfect
opportunity, as we were starting to get a bit weary and anxious about the
drive home. The new arrival time of early Wednesday morning would also
give us a full day's driving. We opted to make the schedule change.
We were then on the road to Haines, Alaska by 11:15 am. The drive was
only 150 miles but took us through some unexpectedly beautiful mountain
passes and even a couple of small glaciers. American customs was a
breeze, much friendlier than I had expected, and took about
15 seconds. We passed a 10-mile zone of construction between
the border and Haines, but fortunately it looked like nothing was
going on, thus no delays.
We arrived in Haines at about 1 pm (ADT, clocks
go back an hour again). We had lunch at the small Wild Strawberry Cafe, a
trendy sandwich + deli shop. We then bought 12 bottles of Alaskan Oatmeal
Stout to take with us. We looked around the town briefly, which was very
touristy and gave Shannon bad vibes of upper-middle-class decadance, similar
to other towns she grew up in in Connecticut. We looked at the beaches,
the ferry area, and Chilkoot Lake, a beautiful area which was peppered with
bear warning signs and "no snagging" signs (snagging is hooking a fish
anywhere except the mouth). The ferry port was hardly busy, however there
was a lot of sitting around in the vehicle lanes until it was time to board.
This was because we had gotten there early, plus forgot to set our clocks
back. We spent the time reading.
Finally our ship, the M.V. Matanuska, arrived from its brief stop in
Skagway and soon it was time to board. We drove our car down a ramp
onto the ship, parked in its cavernous vehicle deck, and took our stuff
up to our cabin. Although we could only reserve a 2-berth inside cabin
with bathroom, I talked to the purser and thanks to no-shows got a roomy
3-berth cabin with an starboard window, a bathroom, and a shower.
Fantastic! We were impressed with the layout of the ship, the efficiency
of the staff, and the space. I would estimate the ship was running at
only about 40% capacity, so I hardly doubt the ship would have been
enjoyable with a full load of tourists.
We "set sail" at 9:30 pm, with
the orange sun hanging low over a snowcapped mountain range. Shannon and
I sat on the stern deck of the ship looking at the incredible scenery.
After about ten minutes of braving the cool temperatures (40s with the
20 mph wind) we retired to our cabin, settled in, and were were asleep
by 11 pm.
Miles driven today: 180
Business ratings (0-4 stars):
Strawberry Cafe, Haines AK * * *
Alaska Marine Highway, S.S. Matanuska * * * 1/2
Klukshu, YT -- cloudy, drizzly weather dampens our
short trip to the port town of Haines.
In BC north of Haines -- a 30-mile segment through
British Columbia took us through some spectacular glacier
fields. Thankfully the weather was beginning to improve.
Haines, AK -- the M.V. Matanuska sets sail for Skagway,
20 miles away. It would return later in the evening and take
us on our journey southward.
Chilkoot Lake, AK -- we whiled away the afternoon looking
around Chilkoot Lake. These bear notices were prominently posted
throughout the park.
Haines, AK -- our ship pushes out of port just before 10 pm,
giving us breathtaking views of the snowcapped peaks surrounding
South of Haines, AK -- folks who didn't want to brave the
45-degree temperatures and wind usually took in the scenery from
the M.V. Matanuska's observation deck.