This is our last week camp hosting. I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by. Just months ago we were experiencing sunrises at 4am and sunsets at midnight. Now sunrise is almost 6am with sunset at 8pm. When you are stationary in a land with no distraction, other than watching the stellar jays climb the trees, you notice all the little changes in nature. This experience has brought such wonder to our lives; new friends who offered warmth and friendship and laughter; storytellers who left us in awe with their exciting adventures; local residents who shared their foraging secrets so that we too could enjoy the bounty of Alaska; grizzly bears who showed us how they found eels along the shoreline; bald eagles who entertained us with their cleverness in stealing fish from the fishermen and just the beauty of this area and it’s people who have made us so very grateful that we took the leap to camp host here.
Stumbling on a chef who grew up in New Orleans and was selling the best catfish sandwiches and red beans and rice at the Southeast Alaska State Fair ; or discovering the most incredible onion rings at Geno’s food truck in town. Running into chanterelle hunters who have inspired Jim to become a mushroom forager. He will be looking for a foraging class when we return to Washington. And it took a trip to Alaska to teach us how to fish for halibut and how to crab for delicious Dungeness crabs.
Scenes from the Alaska Southeast Fair
Next year if all goes as planned we will be doing a lot of fishing and crabbing from our kayaks when we return to this beautiful spot as camp hosts.
And yes Jim did catch a salmon this summer ! If it would have been a sockeye it would be in our refrigerator, but it was a pink-they taste better smoked than fresh so he did his usual catch and release.
We have so many memories to take with us and hold dear to our hearts. This has been good for us in so many ways, especially with everything that is going on in our country. It’s given us the breathing room we so desperately needed and it’s restored our faith and knowledge that there are lots of good people, both young and old, who care deeply about the earth and the world around us.
I haven’t told you about the earthquake that hit on August 31st at 8:32pm. We had just gone to bed when we heard such a loud rumbling-it sounded like a train was going to come straight through the cabin. The bed rattled and moved and the cabin shook with a wave-Jim calmly said “earthquake “ and I jumped out of bed and ran outside. I thought the deck might collapse and we would slide down the hill into the water-that’s the drama queen in me ! It stopped almost as quickly as it started, it lasted about two minutes and left our adrenaline levels at their highest levels. We drove through the campground and made sure everyone was okay-most Campers didn’t even notice it. We found out in the morning that it was a 5.0, 44 miles west of us and just about a mile below the surface. We finally fell asleep and then about 2am Jim woke me up when he spotted the Northern Lights . Unbelievable, they were far and few between because of the clouds but so gorgeous and magical when the clouds would open up providing clear patches of sky. What a night of excitement!
Last week we spent some time visiting and saying goodbye to new friends, some will be here when return, some like Nate from Fish and Wildlife aren’t sure about returning, and some like Jack and Jolene, our fellow hosts from Chilkoot, won’t be returning. But we will never forget any of them and now we have made new friends in Whitehorse, Fairbanks, Iowa, New York and of course Haines.
This week will be spent cleaning out Ruby the Wild Heart and getting her adventure ready. We will pack up, clean up our cabin, lock everything up and have a “good bye but see you next year dinner “with our Ranger, Travis Russell. He’s the reason we are returning, so good to work for and with. It was great to know he trusted us and appreciated the efforts we put forth to make Chilkat a place people enjoyed coming to.
Also this week we had an impromptu Pacific Northwest Day-Tom & Jane from outside of Eugene, OR spent time visiting with us and sharing mushroom hunting information and fly fishing information. They built out their own Sprinter van and it was amazing. The craftsmanship of the alder and maple cabinets was incredible. It’s the first time I was envious (in a good way) of someone else’s Sprinter. I could kick myself for not getting pictures.
Then later on in the day, Denise from Seattle arrived on her bicycle. She had pedaled from Seattle to Vancouver, BC; then ferried to Haida Gwaii; pedaled up the Cassiar Highway; pedaled the Top of the World Highway and finally completed the Dempster Highway on her bike before she headed to Haines . Amazing, I’m still in awe of her. She shared all her bicycle adventures from all over South America, Cuba, Mexico and Europe. She does this as a solo traveler! We will be following her blog :Dispatches from a long and bumpy road
When we leave here early Saturday, we are headed to Denali. We won the road lottery and on September 17th, the last day the park is open, we get to drive Ruby 92 miles through Denali to the end of the road and back. I’m hoping for lots of wild life sightings! After Denali, if the weather holds, we plan on returning to Haines for a few days so that Jim can try fishing for the silvers that should be in the Chilkoot River- we shall see.
Then home to do some winter prep on the house and split some wood . But more importantly to spend time with family. I’ve missed my brother and sister so much on this trip and can’t wait to see them and spend the holidays with them. We might squeeze in a winter trip to Yellowstone too. 2020 brings plans for a trip to Baja; a habitat for humanity build in Hobbs, New Mexico and a return trip to camp hosting here at Chilkat State Park. As travelers we know that plans are never firm, anything can happen and things can change with a blink of the eye. That’s one thing with being on the road, you have to be flexible and go with the flow, every trip brings new adventures and new challenges no matter whether it was your own planned trip or serendipity.
For now Happy Trails, safe travels -I am grateful for each and everyone of you who follow along on our journey-thank you. And to all those fellow travelers we met on this trip and who entertained us with their stories, it was some of the best times we’ve had-we will hold those memories close to our hearts. We will miss Nate’s smiling face at the library and running into Dana with his beautiful dogs Finn and Merlin down by the water. And to all the locals from Haines, thank you for such a warm welcome, see you all next year.