This little town on the Lynn Canal, a fjord in Alaska, is bypassed by cruise ships, save for one day a week, Wednesday, when a single ship docks.
I was introduced to Haines by virtue of taking part in the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay which starts in Haines Junction, Yukon and ends in Haines, Alaska for a total of 148.1 miles. I did a 20 mile leg with very modest elevation changes. Whilst others had their work cut out for them, biking past the treeline as the temperature dropped accordingly. The race ends in the Fort Seward compound, which affords a stunning view of mountain and sea. That weekend the town was bursting at the seams with people and energy as the combination of the adrenalin high and the perfect weather in this northern haven was euphoric. As a finale a fish fry in conjunction with the awards ceremony was held in the Fort Seward square.
My visit this year was my sixth to Alaska and my fourth to Haines but the very first visit with my husband. Returning to Haines with him, was the most anticipated moment of our trip. The ferry ride there was idyllic as described in a previous post, Where a Whale Was.
One of my must-do-one-day items (I’m not fond of the expression “bucket list”) is to visit Haines in November to witness the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world. My last visit was in September and bald eagles could be spotted in threes and fours, regularly. We saw one bald eagle in Juneau but I was a bit disappointed not to have seen more. Shortly after we got off the ferry and while waiting for our motel shuttle-car a bald eagle obliged my eagle-seeking-eyes and landed on atop the highest point on the ferry.
I was very keen to revisit a restaurant, the name of which I was uncertain but guessed to be Fireweed Restaurant. There I had enjoyed the most delicious plate of pasta with pesto sauce in a most laid-back setting with a gorgeous view. As we chatted with our driver from the Captain’s Choice Motel my description of a restaurant called Fireweed seemed to match reality and we were driven straight there.
How to describe the feeling I had in entering the Fireweed Restaurant. There seemed to be a pause in the action as we entered, a quick glance to see what category of northern species we were; cruise people, who missed their boat, locals, adventurous youth, or rambunctious Whitehorse youngsters? I’m guessing that we were sized up as Canadians from Whitehorse. But, it was a curious rather than an intrusive pause and I imagined that there was a mutual meeting of hearts and minds in recognition that here we all are in this most cozy of restaurants, in a tiny northern paradise with a world class view. None of us wishing to be elsewhere.
Sweet and timeless dreams start here.