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Day 6: Haines, Alaska + Cabin Fever

Despite my best efforts, I don’t make it up for sunrise this morning. I do make it off the boat for an impromptu adventure in Haines. Faye and I are free until 5pm, when we’ll meet up with her family for an ‘off the beaten path’ tour. I’m itching for a hike or something out of town, though I’m not sure what since I did zero planning ahead. Faye wants to walk through town and we decide to split up. After 5 full days cramped into small spaces with large crowds, I’m relieved to have a full day of down time. The challenge is to not miss out on Haines, so I start by hanging out with the cutest (and most ferocious) owls and raptors at the Bald Eagle Foundation.

No, I didn’t know that Moose were so freakishly big! Or that “halibut” came from a Middle English word for “flat fish we eat on holy days” and that they can grow bigger than a … than an otter! Or that a Bald Eagle doesn’t get its white plumage until it’s 4 and can live upwards of 30 years in the wild (though the average expectancy is 15-20). While I certainly don’t cram everything in, I enjoy the large room filled with fabulous taxidermy tableaus including plenty of animals (including birds) I’ve never heard of, let alone seen in the wild, before. The bird handlers are all very friendly, especially a younger girl who can’t be over the age of 12 who I’ll later relate to the little girl in “We Bought a Zoo.”

At this point, I don’t have time for a full hike to the top of any mountain anymore, so I walk beyond the edge of town a ways on a gravel road that’s no stranger to tourists, checked out a hiker and cyclist only campground boasting bear-safe rope ties for food supplies and squeeze in some local art skimming before joining up with my fellow travelers.

Highlights from our evening tour include the tour guide herself for her stories and verve after a long day entertaining folks from the largest boat Haines gets all year. While taking us out to the mud flats (where folks have to time their walks to and from home with the low tide) and a hippy community of artists and tradespeople, she squeezes in history and personal anecdotes that have me dreaming of a life living in Alaska during the summer and Mexico during the winter. We even get to see another glacier.

After spending a music fest or two with an Alaskan who belts her state song better than I’ve ever heard it, I snap a quick shot of the fort building where the song was born. And then comes the Hammer Museum with an impressive nail display and chatty guide. Her story starts with a man who wanted more hammers and a wife who put a limit in the house at 100. As one would expect, he starts a museum and a few short years later, he’s amassed over 5,000 including donations and contributions from the Smithsonian. They have a hammer dating to the making of the Pyramids, hammer patents and countless varieties including “drink hammers” from the golden era of talkies when folks needed a way to let the waiters know they needed another drink. I imagine all bars sounding like weddings. And I want to bring the drink hammer back. (Not to be confused with bringing MC Hammer back, though I’d love to see a picture of MC Hammer at the Hammer Museum.)

American Bald Eagle

Haines

Geology in Haines

Fire Hydrant in Haines

Old Cars

Rock Art

More photos from Haines, Alaska.

Extra: Today* is Day 30, Post 26 of my 30 day blog challenge. Click ‘Follow’ at the bottom of the page to receive weekly updates in your inbox or follow me on Tumblr if that’s your scene.

* Living on a boat for 10 days, I had limited access to the internet so post-dating my entries for the date written (vs the date actually uploaded).