Yes. I’ll get back to this in a minute.
Our WBCCI Alyeska Caravan traveled from Dease Lake down the absolutely gorgeous Stewart Cassiar Highway to Hyder AK for a few nights. Two full days allowed us great time to check out local history, look for bears, buy fudge, all the normal caravan activities. We stayed in Camp Run-A-Muck in Hyder, a nice little campground close enough to everything in Hyder but driving distance from Fish Creek or Salmon Glacier.
If you’re a terrorist, read no further. Jim is standing on the International Border, there are probably cameras (other than ours) but we didn’t see them. Duh, you’re not supposed to, right? This international border does not check passports nor vehicles passing from Canada into the USA. WOW! Anyone can pass unobstructed into the USA here!!! What would our nationalistic tea partiers think?
We didn’t go to Salmon Glacier, nor did we charter a plane to Ketchikan although some in our caravan did both of these. This was probably the best glacier view in all of Alaska, and we’ll see great pictures of it on someone else’s blog. We were already throughly glaciated. Instead we enjoyed leisurely walks throughout Hyder’s few streets and thorough touring of Stewart. It was nice to take our time and enjoy the slow pace here. Stewart was our favorite, by far, of the two towns.
This is 5:00 p.m. Monday afternoon downtown Stewart BC. We had no preconceived notions about Stewart BC or Hyder, and still were a bit surprised by what we found. Stewart was pretty nice with residential areas, a school, several government buildings and an intact, if small, business district. Hyder was less. Much less.
Stewart warrants touring about on foot, stopping in several shops including a bakery/coffee shop or two and some gift shops. We spent most of our time in two places, the museum and the boardwalk.
The nice Stewart museum can take half an hour or several hours. We did the several hour thing there and loved it. They do a nice job representing lots of local lore and examples of early times in Stewart and surrounding communities. One of our favorites was the hour-long video showing upstairs.
Fish Creek, a local bear hang-out, provided us an evening’s entertainment watching bears easily catch and eat salmon. US Fish and Wildlife runs this fee area to allow somewhat safe viewing of the bear in natural habitat. It was most unnatural because we are on a wooden deck above the bushes and river and the bears most certainly can hear the noisy humans chatting and excitedly pointing out any siting of movement in the bushes. Reminded me of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, when Valerie Perrine is the bear who is very conscious of the many watchers.
Hyder is in a thirty-plus year recession, apparently. Despite this, someone is funding curb and gutter and paving. We wondered if the mining corporation is compensating Hyder by paving the town’s one road they pass so frequently on. Go figure. . .
The local post office is very local — a small mobile building with permanent roof construction above it to protect the small building. Simms Montana has a much nicer post office and seems smaller even than Hyder. Hyder just seems down in several ways. We found two businesses open on main street and two businesses (owned and operated by one couple) on another street. That’s it. Two houses seemed finished, the other twenty or so didn’t.
We gratefully didn’t have a face-to-face encounter with a prowling bear in the streets. But our caravan friends did. They were chased from one of the restaurants by the owner shouting, “Bear, bear!” as she sicced her dog after the bear. We bumped into Barbara and Judy a few minutes later and they excitedly told us about their near-encounter. Our walk back to the campground was far less relaxed as we anticipated a beary encounter.
Some of our caravaners have pictures of a bear climbing onto the campground picnic table in an adjacent campsite to theirs, and others watched as one of the street-cart restauranteurs pulled a shotgun from under her cart and fired it into the air to scare an otherwise unafraid bear away from her outdoor dining area.
Wild and wooly! We enjoyed our visit here, it was a fitting cap to our small-town Alaska encounters. Next we head for our last two caravan stops, Smithers and Prince George B.C. See you there!
Jim and Debbie
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