I’ll tell you all about the creatures that eat dead fish, but first we need to conclude our time in Anchorage. It rained. A lot. So we didn’t get to do the Resurrection Bay/ Kenai Fjords boat tour that we had been hoping for. Apparently it’s like going to the zoo in the ocean: animals everywhere. I am very sad to not have yet seen a puffin. They’re so cute! What we did instead was go on a hike in the rain, on the Kenai Peninsula, just a little bit south of Anchorage. It’s apt that it was raining because we were in one of the northern most rainforests. The trail we took ended in a very cool hand tram that crossed a deep gorge with a river a couple hundred feet below. When Chris’ mom, Toby, told us we were going to the Hand Tram, I had no idea what a hand tram was. I assume neither do you so I will explain it. It is a tram that is pulled my hand, your hand. It’s on a simple pulley and you pull yourself across the gulley, or some friendly strangers pull for you, and you for them. If you encounter one of these in the rain, bring hand sanitizer or my favorite Joe’s waterless hand cleaner with you, because the rope you have to pull stinks of mildew and so do your hands after pulling. However, it was a fun novelty.
So the tram was fun and the hike was pretty and wet, but warm, thankfully. We ran into no bears and did not get attacked by moose, so that was also a plus. Then we drank beers which is the best end to a hike.
We also had a lovely dinner and a fancy brunch to celebrate my becoming an old woman, which happened on Sunday the 13th. Toby and Chris gave me amazing, generous presents. I got an ear warmer headband made of yarn from a musk ox, which is the softest, cosiest material ever. Think cashmere, but softer and more delicate. Chris got we fancy binoculars so that I can see all tiny birds I’m obsessed with. They are great and fit in my tank bag perfectly.
I also got super awesome wrapping jobs on my presents and they were both such a surprise. I am very grateful to have had such a lovely birthday. If anyone else wants to send me a present, you can send them to the following address if they arrive in the next two or so:
c/o Katherine Richardson
3064 Jemez Dr
San Diego, CA 92117
Things that are appropriate birthday presents:
a picture of your face (if it’s pretty)
iTunes gift cards
bigger than stock foot pegs like these (not in orange though)
short spandex shorts similar to these (sz M)
That’s all I can think of that I need or want. And obviously nothing is expected, but so many people have expressed interest in my birthday so I wanted to give you the option to participate in it.
On to more important bits of the story, like who eats dead fish.
After we left Anchorage we took a couple days to drive to Haines where we were catching our ferry. The first night out we camped at a state park called Eagle something or other on the Glenn Highway. It was delightful. Very beautiful campsite, no one around, and a ton of easy wood gathering around. On our second night we camped at Dezdeash Lake on the Haines Highway and the temperature dropped ten degrees while the wind picked up about 20 knots. It was crazy. And we stupidly didn’t walk around the campsite before we pitched our tent and only realized later that the other side of the campsite was far less windy. Oh well. Luckily we had crossed back into the Yukon at this point and there was free wood because Yukon campsites are awesome.
We survived and woke up to a chilly, misty, rainy morning. Apparently the drive into Haines is incredibly beautiful, but we could barley see 50 feet in front of our faces, so we missed the glacier range.
We got to Haines and followed the directions we had been given to the house of Toby’s friends who live there, Steve and Sarah. The directions were pretty much, leave town and drive til you get to the fourth to last house with the green roof. There was no address, but the directions, while a bit daunting from an iPhone driven city life perspective, were very accurate and easy to follow. Even luckier, we were stopped on the road by a man waving out of a car window who said “Chris and Zoe??” So we met Steve and Sarah on the side of the road and they pointed out the house with the green roof that could be seen across the bay. They went to the dump and we made ourselves at home in their amazing bay front house.
Sarah cooked us dinner and we talked about her upbringing on the Aleutian Islands, and how she and Steve met in high school where he was the first white kid to attend a Native school. The school officials didn’t want to let him in but relented when his father threatened to sue them for reverse discrimination.
Every chance we got we stared out the windows onto the beach and watched all of the eagles and bears. Every direction one looked there were at least a handful of eagles. Haines is a congregation place for lots of juvenile and adult bald eagles. Because of the comparatively late salmon season they have, eagles come from all over to feed.
We also saw two separate mother bears with two cubs each, walking along the bay shore towards the river. We walked down to the river to watch them and on the way an older man bicycled over to us. When he was only about ten feet away he said, “Oh, you’re not my son.” He had mistaken Chris for his son, but proceeded to chat with us for a minute about the bears. We mentioned that we had also seen a coyote and he questioned whether it wasn’t a wolf. It wasn’t. Then he said, “Everything eats dead fish.” Which seems to be true.
The following morning we walked back to the river mouth and watched a lone male bear go fishing. It was awesome. I tried to get some close up shots through my binoculars, which seemed like a silly but fun idea, and turned out a lot better than I expected.
We then proceeded to check out the town of Haines. Unfortunately, it was a Wednesday. Wednesday is the day the cruises come to town so the town was much busier than it had been the previous afternoon. But we still enjoyed the amazing Hammer Museum:
After another delightful dinner with Steve and Sarah, and a few more hours staring outside at all the eagles, we got ready to depart Alaska on the ferry the following morning. Sarah and Steve’s house was such a pleasure and we are so grateful to have met them and for their generosity. If you are ever in Haines, look them and say hello from us.
Tune in soon to hear about the next adventure: the boat ride!