August 30th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1

Woke up wet.  We’d seriously overestimated the capabilities of our tent, and it had rained during the night, and was continuing to do so.  Needless to say, we were getting pretty wet, so after a bit of tossing + turning, we were up + shifted ourselves + our gear to a wooden shelter on the site.  We sat there, mildly miserable.  In front of us was a kids’ play tent, bulging at the sides – whoever was in there was even wetter than us.  Pretty soon, the bad language started again – it was our friends of the night before.  Eventually, the guy in there got angry (the other guy was in the pick-up) + burst out, nearly busting the tent in the process, and stormed off.  Then, to our disgust, first one, + then a second kid crawled out, with a kitten!  Ah well.

We packed up our gear again, + wandered into town again.  The ferry didn’t leave till 4.30 or so, so the problem was what to do in Haines on a wet Sunday morning.  Val very nearly went to church (!) but luckily we ran into Graham, our English companion.  He’d been in the US for 7 months, cycling, + had got stuck in Haines 2 weeks before when a horse had danced on his bike.  He was trying to get some money thro’ the small claims court, so was stuck.  Which was bad for him, but good for us, since he was able to show us a good cheap coffee shop.  We stayed there till 12, swapping experiences etc, then moved on to buy some food, then browse in a camping shop.  We bought some gear for our rucksack, which had broken again, then Graham walked with us to the museum, helped with the repair, shared a joint with us, + then left – a nice bloke.  The museum was excellent.  It cost $1 each, though we did get some free Russian tea, + the proprietress gave a detailed + very interesting tour. 

Then a couple of girls + a guy who had been at the campsite were able to get a lift for all 5 of us out to the ferry terminal – very good news.  The ferry trip was short this time, just an hour – long enough for me to have a shower – + then we were in Skagway.  It was great, not very different at all from what it must have been like in the Gold Rush – still original wooden buildings, wooden boardwalks, unpaved street.  We shared a tent space with the three others, this time using the picnic table as a base with the plastic over it.  Then into town.  Saw a good free dramatic presentation at the visitor centre, had a couple of drinks.  Then back, to a pretty poor fire, + some uncooked baked spuds.

A day bookended by camping in Alaska with just  a sheet of plastic and a pair of picnic tables – not very sensible.  Otherwise, a pretty typical day of travel experience: finding somewhere warm, dry, cheap; talking with other travellers; eating some pretty terrible food.  Romance of the road, eh?

  1. Pamela J Blair

    Very common experience, yes, those interesting, information-filled conversations that open up so quickly with another traveler. I hadn’t realized you and Val were such stoners! I didn’t think much of Skagway–I called it “the armpit of Alaska.” We rented a car there to head into BC, where a friend had built a house we were to stay in. The car had almost no brakes, and going up and over the mountain behind Skagway was quite an experience! I don’t know if you stopped in Wrangell, but that town was much more to my liking.

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