Excitement on every scale.
End: Haines AK.
Washing my face in the public restroom of a coffee shop, I look into the mirror, reflecting on the last four days….(09-03-10 day 80)
As I turn to get out of bed, I discover the after math of a day of scrambling over boulders. The feeling of screaming muscles, pissed at me over the intense workout I put them through. I would have to walk up and down the stairs like an old man, stressed I wouldn’t get to the restroom in time. I soon dubbed myself a penguin, slow and funny looking, I managed to walk.
As we all got booted from the hostel at 9am, Todd and Cyndi parted ways with us, handshakes and hugs. Dirk and I then decided to make camp at McDonald’s for the morning, gaining WiFi and planning out our next move. A number of ferries were destined for Haines today, so we picked the last and took our time. We would have to jump on the bus and walk a few miles as the terminal was conveniently 14 miles outside of downtown, not a big concern at the moment. Sitting there, I destroyed four cups of coffee, one hotcake breakfast and numerous packets of sugar…. in the coffee. It was a relaxing few hours. Allowing me to update my work and sit back.
Finding ourselves in the Subway now, the second of only two food chain restaurants in town, we grabbed some 7$ foot longs for the ferry ride and shoved them into the packs. We now hit crunch time as we discovered the bus times and the amount of time we had to get there. It is amazing how there is no public transportation to and from the ferry terminal from downtown. As a major port, I just shook my head as we took the 30 minute bus ride to the furthest stop out. Constantly monitoring my watch, the doors opened and we jumped off. Pulling straps tight and preparing for the brisk walk to the ferry, we figured we had 45 minutes to cover 2 miles, no need to run. Following the road as it wrapped around the harbor, two ferries could be seen in port and my stress level dropped a little. Looking back, I slowed a bit to talk to Dirk, adopting his pace.
The parking lot was in sight and we made a dash for the counter. At this point only one sentence had the power to give me a heart attack, killing me on spot. Uttered from the other side of the counter, these chilling words rang out. “The gate is closed, you can’t board now.” An instant drop in blood pressure slowed the moment in time. Panic set in as we both took a step back. Seeing this, the lady then made a call to the gate keeper to verify the status of the ship. Receiving a negative response, all she could do is turn us away. Just then her radio blasted with magic words, making us jump back to the counter in a fraction of a second. We were on! The captain heard about us at the gate and let us on. Lost for words we ran on board, bags on backs and tickets in hand. On the last ship, Haines was now hours ahead.
With the adrenaline still flowing, we made it up to the top deck of the ship. Joining the mass of people lying out in the sun, we dropped our bags and got comfy. The Haines festival was in mid swing that day, explaining the crowds on board. Every one seemed to be talking about it and where they were staying. Hearing this I was glad we will be couch surfing, no worries of finding somewhere to sleep in the packed town. I then fell asleep, taking in the sun and the rare chance to relax.
Waking up to only take in the scenery, the ride was great. The smooth glass-like water reflected the 5000ft mountains that seemed to rise out of nowhere. A valley of water, wind less and mysterious. The occasional pod of whales would give away their position with a display of spraying and tail fin splashes. As everyone would run to one side of the boat to witness this, I laughed at the thought of the boat tipping with the sudden shift of weight.
Docked, our new mission began as we tried to hitchhike to Rita’s house. Rita is our couch surfing host for the evening and lived along the water in a red roofed cabin. As we caught a ride down the road, we saw the house and jumped out to set our eyes on one of the most interesting of places. A little wooden cabin who sat on a number of huge logs, overlooked an amazing view of the water and mountains. Easily five foot in diameter and seventy foot long, these logs kept the cabin dry as the extreme tides flowed in and out. Removing the twig that locked the door, we stepped in to drop off our bags. One of the coolest old cabins I have had the pleasure of stepping into. All I thought was this would be a great place to write a book and work on art. Secluded and no power to distract one with electronics, it was a perfect hide out.
We then hitchhiked about ten miles into town and into the festival. There we will met Rita and experienced a festival like no other. A yearly celebration, Haines holds this event for three days. Booking numerous bands and performers, people from all over flock in to take part in the excitement. As the sun was resting on the horizon and the bluegrass music was flowing, the people danced into the night. Never have I seen such dancing. Without a concern of embarrassing themselves, everyone threw their bodies about. Some seemed like rubber bands as others just ran in circles. A wild and surreal night it was. Lasting until 3:30am, the party lasted from dusk til dawn. As the sun began to rise, we tucked into bed. A long day, a even longer night.