Twenty-nine years ago, I had just finished working for the summer outside of Illiamna, AK. When the job was over, I flew back to Anchorage and grabbed my car and started heading back down to Haines where I would pick up another month or so of work on a gill netter before I headed for home. For the situation that I was in, it was a pretty good arrangement. The owner of the boat lived in town and I could get him to let me live on board since I needed a place to flop, and the openings were usually only 2 or 3 days a week. Iíd been in SE AK since March working on a few fishing boats before heading up and I had a whole bunch of stuff in my car and just not much room for passengers.
On the road between Anchorage and Haines, I was surprised to pass two people hitching. I was cruising about 60 on the gravel road when I passed them and saw that it was a couple of girls. A little while later I passed 2 more girls. Same thing, by the time that I realized that it was 2 girls, I was already a few hundred yards past them and just didn't mess with it. But I told myself that if I saw anymore girls thumbing it that day, that I would stop. Sure enough, a little while later, I picked up my wife and her friend. The girls had backpacks and had been traveling around the state. I moved some stuff around and they piled into the front of my little car. It was a 1972 BMW 2002, Colorado Orange, not to be confused with Inca Orange.
I dropped the girls off at the best camping option for them and told them where they could get a decent pizza in town. Then I headed for the boat harbor to find my cousin. We got caught up and I told him that I picked up 2 girls on the road and that we should head to the bar to see if they were there. They were and we all started having drinks. I soon found out that my wife and I had the same birthday and that we were born the same year. Then we were doing shots of Tequila. Next thing I knew, we were living in my tent and have been together ever since, but the car is long gone.
It seems like Iím just coming out of the other end of a time warp bubble. I feel like the proverbial twenty something that woke up in a 55 year old man, wondering what happened. I'm not complaining. I have a pretty good life, and we've managed to raise two pretty good kids.
This trip was suppose to happen next year, because next year would have marked 30 years since my wife and I met. She thought the 30 year point would be a good round number for a time to head back. But our daughter got engaged and put a hitch in those plans, and now we're hosting a wedding next year at this time. Fine by me really. I thought that with the price of gas at a low and with the current Canadian exchange rate, that the timing was excellent. And it was.
We made reservations for the 4 day boat ride and got in line.
Once we got on board, we settled in and enjoyed the sites.
I've had family in SE Alaska since the 60's and my 78 year old auntie lives there still. She makes her living as an artist and is still going strong. She was there for me when I was a young kid and she took me in for a whole summer back in about 1973. It was one of the best summers of my childhood and I got to tell her so. She met us at the ferry terminal and we got to hang out for a few days and I got to take her out to dinner a few times. In the evenings, my wife and I headed out to the local lake to crash in the van.
We drove around and saw the sites of the old stomping grounds.
After spending a few days in Haines, we put the van back on a ferry and headed over to Skagway to start the drive south. After spending an afternoon in town, we headed to a nearby campground to spend the night. The next morning on the way out, we found some cool tidal flats to explore.
Getting to the Yukon from Skagway is a beautiful ride up over a pass, but it was socked in.
After the pass, we just started looking for Provincial Parks to stay in. I brought a little kick boat and managed to squeeze in a little fishing.
On the way south, we stopped to see a friend of mine. Gracious as always, my buddy invited me to hitch a ride on his little one man raft to swing flies for steelhead. We floated about 7 to 8 miles for the day.
I managed to kick around a few more lakes on the way south.
We made a stop at an old suspension bridge on the Fraser River that was long ago closed to vehicle traffic.
It was a great trip and the van ran flawless over the 1800 miles. The new awning came in handy most of the time. September was a great time to go as the tourist season was winding down and all of the camp grounds were wide open. Can't wait to go back. Hopefully it won't be so long next time.