7.23.2012

Alaska Road Trip: Day 20

I spent a good part of the morning sitting out on the porch in the rain because it was the only place I could get phone reception and internet access. I was trying to get through to someone at the Alaska Marine Highway to ask questions about the ferry. It was Sunday, and I never got ahold of anyone, but I eventually found enough information online. 

The ferry departed from Haines once a week, on Monday nights. It would make stops in Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell, and Ketchikan before arriving in Bellingham, Washington on Friday morning. Steve and I would be charged the full price fare ($353 each). As children, Rachel and Lucy would be charged a discounted fare ($177 each). Adam and Kaleigh would both be free since they were under the age of six. Our Honda Pilot would cost another thousand dollars to transport. (Vehicles are charged by length, not weight). There were no cabins available, but we felt lucky that there were still spots open for passengers and a few spaces left for vehicles. 

We took what information we had and weighed the pros and cons of taking the ferry. Riding the ferry would cut 1500 miles out of our trip, reducing our fuel costs and hotel stays. Arriving in Washington on Friday would keep us fairly close to our originally scheduled itinerary. And it would certainly be an adventure. We eventually decided to go ahead and make reservations while there were still openings. 


We went to the grocery store, and I'm certain we went up and down every aisle at least five times. We had three kids running around looking for something to spend their money on and one little girl in the cart who had to ask everyone what their name was. 

There were at least a dozen other grocery prices that I wanted to take pictures of, but my brain was going crazy trying to plan meals for the next five days as my eyes were scanning the shelves for reasonably priced items.


In addition to cost, there were so many things to factor into our meal planning: how portable it was, where we were going to be eating it, what we had to cook it with, how much room we had in our cooler, what our kids would actually eat, how many dishes it would dirty. Oh yeah, and if it was somewhat healthy. 

By this point in our trip, I had learned a few things. Most places you go will sell fresh fruit for about a dollar a piece. Alaska grocery store prices were about the same. So there was no point packing in our own fruit, that was sure to get bruised, if we could buy an apple, orange, or banana at our destination for an equivalent price. Pringles hold up better than bagged chips. Pita bread and bagels travel better than bread, but bagels can be quite crumbly when you have a little girl who thinks it's okay to tear them into little pieces. And there is no such thing as too many granola bars.

After repurchasing many of the same grocery items that we had left in Anchorage due to lack of space, we were ready to go. On our way out of the store, Kaleigh dropped/threw my iPhone. It slid across the aisle and right under the half-inch opening underneath the shelves, which were connected to the wall. The store manager had to deconstruct part of the shelving structure to retrieve it.

We left some of our dignity inside of that grocery store, but at least we got out of there with our groceries, our kids, and my phone.

It was time for lunch, so we went back to Bear Creek Cabins, where Steve was pleasantly surprised to find that the communal kitchen was better equipped than our kitchen at home.


Bear Creek Cabins turned out to be a really great place for us to stay. The owners were friendly and told us where to take the kids for a short hike to see wildflowers, to go to Mud Bay to find seashells, and where to see bears. The facilities were clean and well maintained. There was an open grassy field for the kids to run around on, and the only other group was staying in the family cabin, so we ended up having the communal bathrooms to ourselves. 


Steve was hoping to see a bear grabbing salmon out of the river with it's paw so we drove towards Chilkoot Lake. We were right by Tanini Bay when we saw these grizzly bears lounging on the rocky beach.


We drove by the nice place to stay in Haines, the Chilkoot River Lodge. (They hadn't answered the phone the night before, and we hadn't been able to find it in the dark.)

Sadly, we didn't see any bears eating salmon in the river, but there were lots of fishermen. Chilkoot Lake offers some of the best Sockeye Salmon fishing in South Alaska and is also a popular site for kayaking. It is safe and peaceful, perfect for beginners. Bald eagles from the nearby Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve can be spotted from the lake, which is also used for ice skating during the winter. The lake is tucked back into a valley and perfectly picturesque. People who are far braver than I am were camping in tents right next to the lake.


Lucy was so nervous to walk out onto the floating dock. I'm not sure why she thought it was a good idea to hold Adam's hand.


This is what we looked like, sans trailer.


We took the kids to play at the park (so many great playgrounds in Alaska!) 


We had been saving our Canada tattoos for when we drove back through Canada. But since we would be skipping over our Vancouver stay, we let the kids go to town. Tattoos are kind of a big deal in our family.

     

After dinner, we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. It was our second and last campfire of the entire trip. I didn't sneak a picture of him, but we were being serenaded by Jameson, the owner's nephew, and his guitar.


We bought the jumbo marshmallows, which aren't my favorite because they are disproportionately large when making s'mores.


Now can you tell how big they are?


Five million trips back and forth to the communal bathroom to get everyone showered, and we were done for the night.

2 comments:

Kayli said...

"We left some of our dignity inside that store" -love that line. :)

Rebecca said...

I bet your blog will be tagged by everyone planning an Alaskan vacation with a family. I'm guessing a bunch of people would have asked you for all the details to plan their trips so now you just have it all ready to go.