Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Alaska '08 Day 51, Haines

Fri Aug 1, 2008

We visited the Bald Eagle museum just down the street. The museum doesn't look like much from the outside but they have a large, really nice taxidermy exhibit. The curator personally answered our questions, he was very knowledgable about all the animals.

I wanted to go to the Alaska Indian Arts, they are carving a totem pole. We had a little trouble finding them (bad tourist maps), the Haines visitors' center showed us they were on the Fort Seward parade ground, just across from the tribal house. Four carvers are working on a 30' totem pole, it is huge. The carvers weren't working today but they let people into the workshop and take pictures. The totem pole looks almost completely carved, no color yet. They are carving it for a lodge in the Adirondacks. They say it will take 2000 to 3000 hours for 3 carvers to complete it at a price of $2500 per foot.

We saw The Chilkat Dancers Storytelling Theatre Show. They act out Tlingit legends with authentic masks and costumes. They had a small cruise ship in and they had booked up the show so it was pretty full. Some people from the cruise didn't like the show but it was pretty good, the costumes were great, great for kids. Earlier we had gone to the Sea Wolf Gallery next door to the tribal house and it turns out the artists in the gallery were all the actors in the show.

After the show we drove out to the Chilkat river and Chilkat Lake State park because there is a salmon run and bears. It looks like there was a red/sockeye run on the river in mid-June and the pinks are running now. We saw a brown bear at the mouth of the Chilkat river at Chilkat lake. He was down in the river eating spawned out salmon. We got some really good pictures and video. Not entirely comfortable with how close everyone was to the bear.

At dark I drove out the road along the river. I was sitting at a pullout at the river just after the airport. As I was there a black bear ran out from the woods maybe 100 yds from where I was and out across to the other side of the road. I could see it in a cars headlights. About 10 minutes later I saw the same bear run back onto my side of the road. Just behind the bear was a bigger grizzly bear. I realized I wasn't watching a black bear but a brown bear cub. I turned on the Jeep lights so the bears knew I was there. The mom looked at me but the cub was already down to the river. The mom looked at me then followed down to the river. At this point I packed up and went back to the campground.

- Jon


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