Monday, September 12, 2011

Did You Ever Want to Live in a Small Town?

Sign for Atlin 8-22-2011 11-45-05 AM 2984x1945
I always have said that I would like to live in a small town. It is either a dream or a hallucination…. the remoteness, the slower pace, knowing everyone, improvising to get things done, etc. have always been appealing. But Dee keeps bringing me back to reality, pointing out how much I like Home Depot, Lowes, Barnes and Noble, good restaurants, running water, sewer systems Smile(more later)….  Let me tell you about Atlin.
Atlin is a small isolated community in the NW corner of British Columbia, on the traditional lands of the Taku River Tlingits. Glacial-fed Atlin Lake is 4 miles wide and 85 miles long, in a wide wilderness valley surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Atlin is a 2 or 3 hour drive from Whitehorse Yukon, the capital of the Yukon with . Current population is up to 400 full-time residents. During the Klondyke Gold Rush of 1898, the population was 10,000! Many buildings from that era still remain. Though Mining and Tourism underpin the economy of Atlin, there is a large and very influential number of artists, artisans and authors in this very special little-known community.
Atlin is about 60 miles off the Alaskan Highway, one way in and one way out. About 20 of those miles are dirt/gravel. Just our kind of place and road to get there.
So off we went.

Atlin Road Construction 8-22-2011 10-47-51 AM 3264x2448Atlin Road Construction 8-25-2011 10-11-22 AM 3264x2448

From the Alaskan Highway you are in The Yukon and you cross over into British Columbia further down the road. They Yukon is fixing up the road as you can see from these photos from the Trek.

It is hard to imagine a town that is unincorporated. In Atlin’s case, and I assume many unincorporated towns, that means there is no mayor, no council, no elected officials, i.e. no one is in charge. Everything that needs to be done to keep the town operating is done by volunteers. Volunteers groups sign up to watch after the roads, docks, library, museum and historical buildings, campground, festivals, etc. etc. Many of the people near the lake draw their drinking water from Lake Atlin, said to be much cleaner than any domestic water system in big cities. There is no sewer system so if the home has no septic, the sewage is hauled to the “lagoon” and dumped! Here is a sign at a campground a little ways out of town that characterizes the place
Sign ar Pine Creek Campground 8-24-2011 11-13-06 AM 3264x2448

Just drop your fee at ANY business in town! Would that work in Phoenix? Smile Or any other place you know of?

Norseman RVPark, Atlin, BC 8-25-2011 8-12-34 AM 3264x2448     Norseman RVPark, Atlin, BC 8-25-2011 8-10-57 AM 3264x2448
We paid an extra $3 and got the “el primo” Penthouse Site. It is on a spit of gravel, only 14 feet wide, that extends out into Lake Atlin. How cool! We stayed three days!
Window View from Trek 8-23-2011 4-18-06 PM 3264x2448 Window View from Trek 8-23-2011 4-18-19 PM 3264x2448 

Bow and Starboard Views

Window View from Trek 8-23-2011 4-17-54 PM 3264x2448  Norseman RV Pk. Penthouse Site 8-23-2011 4-12-30 PM 2492x1841
Port View and Front Deck – Awesome!
Norseman RVPark, Atlin, BC 8-25-2011 8-12-47 AM 3264x2448 
Norm--Owner Norseman RV Park 8-25-2011 8-11-52 AM 3264x2448

Norm is the owner and developer of the Norseman RV Park


Views Around Town

Court House 8-23-2011 3-13-16 PM 2677x2258Court House Library 8-23-2011 3-18-04 PM 3264x2448Garrett Store 8-23-2011 2-49-44 PM 3264x2448Globe Theatre 8-23-2011 2-55-40 PM 2123x2443Globe Theatre 8-23-2011 2-57-09 PM 3264x2448Jewelry Store 8-23-2011 2-53-35 PM 3022x2301Outside Atlin Museum 8-22-2011 2-06-21 PM 3264x2448Pine Creek Falls 8-22-2011 3-42-00 PM 2388x2168Tarahne 8-25-2011 8-52-19 AM 3264x2448
The Tarahne was originally a tour boat on the lake. It was saved and is being restored by townspeople.
 Atlin Cemetery 8-22-2011 2-24-40 PM 3264x2448Atlin Cemetery 8-22-2011 2-25-39 PM 3264x2448Atlin Cemetery 8-22-2011 2-30-46 PM 3264x2448


Gold Mining 8-22-2011 3-03-40 PM 2875x1878

Gold mining is pretty big these days with heavy equipment being used and 24/7 operations.  Helicopters and planes fly workers and supplies to the mine sites.

Atlin is a unique place. There are a couple general stores/groceries in town and a single gas station. No cell service and shaky landline. People are pretty independent but pull together to get things done. We would like to go back some day.
SO, Would YOU want to live in a small town? As small and remote as Atlin, BC?
Upside Down Trees !!!! 8-24-2011 12-46-12 PM 3264x2448
It took us a while to figure out what was going on here. Someone had replanted downed tress upside down! They also have a sense of humor in Atlin.
Next time I will summarize our trip to Alaska and share some of our observations. Until then…….

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Hammer Museum and a Totem Pole Factory–in One Town!

The Hammer Museum

The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 4-03-43 PM 2048x1360

One of my favorite hammers. A good carpenter, using this hammer, can pound twice as many nails!
Being an Industrial Engineer, I really appreciate this innovative, labor-saving hammer.

Further evidence that Haines is a great place is the fact that it is home to a Hammer Museum, as well as a Totem Pole Carving “Factory”.

In the process of building a homestead, outside of Haines, Dave Pahl started accumulating hammers. His wife told him that his limit on hammers in the house is 100! It wasn’t long before the accumulation became a collection of hammers of all types, sizes, purposes etc. Dave decided to open a hammer museum right on the main street of Haines. The museum is said to have 1800 hammers, not counting 4000 he has stored some place. That is not to mention the 99 he has in his home! Wow! He traveled in the “outside” and collected many. He bought some on the internet. And many were donated. Hammers show up in the mail several times a week from folks who have bee to Dave’s Museum or have heard about it.

The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 4-06-05 PM 2048x1360

I am not sure what the purpose of this one is, maybe to hammer around corners?

We had a great time looking at the displays and talking with Dietra, the volunteer guide. Dave was out getting supplies to build an addition on his museum!

The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 2-14-32 PM 2048x1360The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 2-14-46 PM 2048x1360

The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 2-15-44 PM 2048x1360The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 2-15-52 PM 2048x1360The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 4-09-06 PM 2048x1360The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 4-14-59 PM 2048x1360The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 4-21-28 PM 1360x2048The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 4-26-25 PM 579x580

The Hammer Museum 8-19-2011 4-05-11 PM 2048x1360

This hammer was designed with safety in mind. No way you can hit your finger with this baby!

Now….. I am thinking about a Screwdriver Museum. Perhaps located right in downtown Congress, AZ. Think of the tourists who would go out of their way to  see the world’s largest and finest collection of drivers. It could really put Congress on the map. I could get corporate sponsors and sell monthly, annual and lifetime memberships to The Screwdriver Club. For every person who donates a screwdriver, I will give a plaque that says “You Have Been Screwed In Congress”. (Perhaps in todays time it should be “You Have Been Screwed By Congress”)

Moving right along….

The Alaskan Indian Arts Inc., Totem Pole Carvers

Totem Pole Carvers 8-19-2011 5-10-05 PM 2048x1360

The Chilkat Tlinglet native tribe carve and restore totem poles in this building. When we were there no one was carving so we just walked around. A man told us the current rate for a new totem pole is about $3,000 per foot. Then there is the shipping and installation and I decided not to order one that day.  But we could certainly appreciate the skill required to carve a pole. I believe all totems are done on commission.

Totem Pole Carvers 8-19-2011 4-48-37 PM 1360x2048

This pole is being restored.

Totem Pole Carvers 8-19-2011 5-12-15 PM 2048x1360

Totem Pole Carvers 8-19-2011 5-11-49 PM 1360x2048

We saw one totem in a restaurant that we really liked and thought maybe it would be neat to have one. It was about 5 feet tall which equates to $15,000 about $14,500 over our totem pole budget. Oh, well they were sure nice to look at. During our time in Canada and Alaska we saw a lot of totem poles.

And here is your bonus photo for this post

Counting Fish (Griller Man) 8-17-2011 8-04-38 PM 2907x1632. 8-17-2011 8-04-38 PM 2907x1632

This fellow is a fish counter. Stationed on a weir on the Chilkoot River, he counts salmon.

I think he might have missed one when his head nodded off. But I didn’t tell him.


See you next time, folks………

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Haines, AK–Our Kind Of Place!

Haines Boat Dock Sign 8-17-2011 4-31-45 PM 3264x2448

Haines is in the region of Alaska called the South East. To get there by road, you leave the Alaskan Highway at Haines Junction (which is in The Yukon), cross the border into British Columbia, and then pass through customs, back into Alaska and arrive at Haines 148 miles later. Or you can fly or take a boat/ship.

We love the proud, independent and self-sufficient attitude of the folks who live here. In talking with them, sometimes you get the feeling they are not part of Alaska. it is a place of  their own. And they want it no other way. They treasure the lives and community they share in Haines.

I would like to share some experiences and anecdotes from the four days we had in Haines.

Driving to Haines

It was unfortunate that both driving down and returning on the highway from Haines Junction, we had overcast/cloudy sky's. But we had enough breaks that we could see what a gorgeous countryside it is, in the two provinces and Alaska.

Haines Hwy. 8-20-2011 3-58-01 PM 3264x2448Haines Hwy. Scenery 8-16-2011 12-23-13 PM 3264x2448

Haines Hwy. Scenery 8-16-2011 12-26-17 PM 2747x1679

And we saw brown bears

1st Brown Bear 8-16-2011 11-20-20 AM 2023x16891st Brown Bear 8-16-2011 11-21-23 AM 2009x18272nd Brown Bear Eaating Roots 8-16-2011 12-04-35 PM 2932x2116

We took a GREAT video of this brown bear digging up and eating roots. (When I get time to figure out how to put videos online, I will send you the link. I also want to post one of a close-up of a moose eating lilies, Jaxon howling, and the three of us singing with Elmo.)

Rear-end of a Porcupine 8-16-2011 12-29-47 PM 2520x1889

A shy porcupine

Shots around town

Ocean View Campground 8-17-2011 4-27-44 PM 3264x2448

View from our campsite on the harbor

Holland American Line  8-17-2011 8-42-05 PM 3264x2448Haines Harbor 8-17-2011 4-28-35 PM 3264x2448


Jerry Ordering Halibut 8-16-2011 6-13-55 PM 2127x1765

You gotta eat…. great halibut!


Town of Haines 8-16-2011 8-14-39 PM 3264x2448

View from the harbor

Walking in Haines 8-18-2011 9-59-32 AM 2048x1360Walking in Haines 8-18-2011 10-00-17 AM 2048x1360

Walking in Haines 8-18-2011 10-32-20 AM 2048x1360Haines Harbor 8-18-2011 9-22-51 AM 3264x2448

Small boat harbor

Walking in Haines 8-18-2011 10-25-21 AM 1987x1142

Mural on store

Fixer Upper!!! 8-18-2011 12-56-17 PM 3264x2448

For sale….Cheap…You Pick Up

Gill-Netting for Salmon

We watched this fellow for about 1/2 hour. He was the only one on this boat, so he did everything. As he brought the net in with the winch/reel, it was continually filled with salmon. I bet he was overjoyed with his good fortune this day. But that is the way it usually is when I go fishing Smile

Netting Salmon 8-16-2011 7-43-39 PM 2516x2012Netting Salmon 8-16-2011 7-43-51 PM 1644x1997

Haines Packing Company

Jill & Splash--Public Relations 8-18-2011 3-45-51 PM 3264x2448

Jill and Splash –Strategic Planning Director

Hugh--Owner of Haines Pk.Co. 8-18-2011 3-53-18 PM 3264x2448. 8-18-2011 3-53-18 PM 3264x2448

Hugh – Owner of Haines Packing Inc.

When driving out to Chilkat State Park we came across the Haines Packing company. It was started in 1913 and closed down for a while. About 5 or 6 years ago Hugh started it up again. Jill, who was a school principal in Tucson, joined him. She has some “visionary” ideas that keep the small staff busy. When we were there she was talking about coffee shop in an old shack with a deck looking over the beautiful bay. Fishermen bring fish and crabs in to them for packing. It is a remote but beautiful location and we wish them well. They had just finished designing and installing a huge crab cooker holding 200 plus pounds and we were lucky to be there to watch and buy the first crabs, EXCELLENT.

1st  Time Boiling Crab 8-18-2011 3-17-09 PM 3264x24481st  Time Boiling Crab 8-18-2011 3-18-27 PM 3264x2448Crab on Ice 8-18-2011 3-35-36 PM 3264x2448

Haines Packing Company 8-18-2011 3-51-41 PM 3264x2448

Haines Packing Company 8-18-2011 3-09-19 PM 3264x2448

The Bald Eagle Foundation

On the Haines Highway just north of town is the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, along the Chilkat River. Each year in November between 3000 and 4000 bald eagles come to this area to feed on the fall run of chum salmon. Most of the rest of Alaska is frozen over at that stage. Many of the eagles spend the winter on the 48,000 acre preserve. Haines has a large bald eagle festival at that time which encourages many summer visitors to return to see the birds. Unfortunately there were not many around when we were there. But we did enjoy the Foundation headquarters in town. It is a combination wildlife museum and rehab center for injured bald eagles. Very good work.

Am. Bald Eagle Foundation 8-19-2011 3-06-52 PM 2048x1360

Dee kissing a moose at the Foundation. See that twinkle in his eye? I think he has done that before!

Am. Bald Eagle Foundation 8-19-2011 3-24-45 PM 2048x1360

These are BIG birds!

Am. Bald Eagle Foundation 8-19-2011 3-29-11 PM 1044x947

Bald Eagle 8-16-2011 7-09-37 PM 2448x3264

Bears on the Chilkoot

In the evening we would drive up the river to see if we could spot any bears. They would gather here to feed on the spawning salmon. We saw the mother and two cubs several times. Note that one of the cubs has a fishing lure in it’s lip, probably from going after a salmon that was hooked. The local biologist thought it would dissolve but there was some thought to capturing the cub to remove the bear.

Brown Bear feeding at Chilkoot Lake 8-16-2011 7-16-55 PM 3264x2448

That’s gotta hurt!

Brown Bears on Lutak Rd. 8-17-2011 7-58-11 PM 3264x2448

The cubs were always playing

So that’s some of the things we did and saw in Haines. The people were so friendly and seemed very happy to be in Haines. Nice town. Go there!

Co-Author of these blogs is Jaxon Jefferson Thomas

Make Room for Jaxon 8-19-2011 6-03-19 PM 2048x1360

Till next time when I will tell you about the Hammer Museum. Bye!