The drive into Haines was spectacular, lots of water, mountains, glaciers and snow on the peaks. The first really cool thing we came upon on the way in, after crossing the border back into the US again, were “Fish Wheels”. I have never heard of them, nor seen anything like it. They scoop out fish from the river via the two large buckets, for lack of a better term.
Haines is a pretty small town with a few restaurants, a brewery and some shops. There is a small boat harbor and a cruise ship dock. The first couple days we didn’t see a cruise ship, but the day we went to Juneau, there was a very small one. One Wednesday, when we were taking the fast ferry to Skagway, there was a full-size Holland America ship called the Noordam at the dock. The fast ferry leaves from the floating dock right next to the cruise ship.
The first night there we went out for halibut, but the restaurant we picked was out of that. All of us ended up ordering the fish tacos, and they were excellent. The place was called the Pilot Light, didn’t look like much, and I think we were all thinking of going someplace else. But the meal and the service there were top notch.
One of the afternoons I drove over to the Haines Brewery to get a growler fill of a beer I had at the restaurant, but I was told they don’t fill growlers other than their own. When I asked why, they said their growlers would keep the beer longer. Hogwash… I left an unhappy customer, sans any beer.
One afternoon we drove over to the river with a weir that we read the bears frequent. We saw no bears there. It was a beautiful place and we did notice a young guy out at the middle of the weir in a chair doing “something” and he was frequently looking behind him.
I had heard from a local that the best time to see bears there was after 8pm, so the last evening there we drove back and parked outside the area next to the weir. There were a few other people there with tripods and cameras. One couple was from Eastern Europe, I couldn’t understand a word she said to us; and the other folks, a family was from India. They never said anything at all while we were there.
We noticed an older gentleman out on that chair in the middle of the weir this night. Turns out they are counting the different species of fish, mostly salmon going up river thru the weir. Eventually as we waited he got up and came over to his pickup, and Larry and I walked over to find out what was going on there.
There are two of them that take shifts counting the fish. They open up a small opening just below the chair and count them as they go by on some mechanical counters. They work from 6am to 9pm every day of the season. I believe he said he worked there Wednesday till Saturday afternoon when the young kid comes in and works till Tuesday night at 9pm.
That must be a pretty boring job, except when a bear arrives and gets on the weir walkway. Turns out that is why the kid kept turning around. He was looking for bears coming up from behind. We were told that one of the counters had to jump into the river to avoid a bear on the walkway last summer. I guess there can be exciting parts of being a fish counter!
By this time the other folks and a few more folks who arrived came over to listen in. At that point the fish counter/park ranger asked us who had bear spray with them. No one had it. He then pointed out that it might be a really bad idea to go looking for bears without bear spray! Kathy and Sue had left for the car because Kathy said the same thing. Plus the fact none of the people were looking on the side of the road that was a steep hill. The ranger said the bears came from both sides!!
We also visited the Radio Shack store for Kathy to fax about 33 pages to the financial guy redoing the trust accounts she is trustee for. Radio Shack provided that service. Their big fax was dead, so the lady hand-fed 33 pages into an old style fax machine, one page at a time as they were sending. Geez, I had forgotten about those “good ole” days.