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Chilkat State Park Camp Hosts: Life in a Fishbowl

Folks from around the world visit the glacier views from our cabin deck. Those who sign the register represent 21 different countries and 46 of the United States. During the past 3 months, Mare and I have chatted with over 3,000 people. Just yesterday a seven-foot-tall German man told me, “You’re the 3rd person today to ask me how tall I am.” He told me how easy it is for him to paint, and how he always gets good seats in theaters. I showed him my fresh fish filets marinating in olive oil, garlic, orange juice and a secret spice.

Curiously, many visitors find us interesting. We live in a fishbowl. They look into our windows and ask about our life stories. All we need to do is engage in some private activity, from brushing teeth to changing pants, (or you know what) and the slow crackle of gravel warns us of a visitor approaching in their rig. Sometimes we invite them into our cabin, others invite themselves.

Although we love to share information with all these folks, once in a while we need to get away. The only way to get away is to…well, get away. Luckily, two of our close friends are coming to visit tonight and help us escape from the fishbowl for a few days.

I pick up Mary Jo and Carey from the ferry. During the drive to our cabin, a moose spots us, setting a true Alaskan tone. Mary Jo and Carey spoil us with Stromboli sandwiches, good wine and great cheer.

Carey and I get a line wet the next day at the Chilkoot River. Mary Jo and Mare tour around the lake where eagles hunt. Look out…here come the bears.

This is their fishin’ hole. A mama grizzly reaches deep into the water, pulls up a salmon with her front paws, and chews on it from the head down, like an ice-cream cone.

She does this 3 times. As for us, we catch our sockeye filet from the store tonight, and grill the red flakey fish on the cabin deck. Magically, we get only a few visitors this evening, who we hardly even notice.

What’s a visit to Haines without a little bar-hopping? Fishermen tell us bear tales at the “Fogcutter Bar.”  I ask a man about where a fellow should shoot a charging bear, to settle a discussion we are having at the table.

“Shoot him in the shoulder to prevent him from swiping off your head,” he says. “Your bullet would just bounce off of his head. Shoot for the joints, to minimize the damage he’ll do.” The man winks. “Then cover him in leaves. Otherwise, you’ll have a shitload of fines and investigations to deal with.”

After a few margaritas at the Fort Seward Inn, we top off our final evening with a gourmet meal at the Halsingland Hotel.

Although we miss Mary Jo and Carey, we are never alone. Travelers from all over the world come to our deck to view the glaciers. Many of them find the fishbowl occupants fascinating.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ma & Pa #

    Can you believe how the bear catches the salmon!!!! He sure makes it look easy….

    August 17, 2011
  2. Mark Stodola #

    I remember you telling me years ago that the best way to get rid of a crowd is to get naked, walk outside and fire a few rounds in the air. That might clear out the fishbowl:)

    August 17, 2011
  3. ha, I like mark’s suggestion! great shots of them bears. Dinner at Halsingland, I thought about it my last night but didn’t splurge that much. And you’ve been there 3 months already, wow! I guess we’re going one two months since I was there, crazy. another entertaining post!

    August 17, 2011
  4. Jerry and Dee #

    Hi You Two,
    Great meeting you today. Glad we avoided looking into your fishbowl. Your invitation to see inside was better. You have a super blog here and the photography is outstanding. Enjoy your time there at Chilkat. You will take away some great memories. And hopefully we will run into you down the road one day.
    Jerry, Dee and Jaxon

    August 19, 2011
    • Hi Jerry and Dee,
      We enjoyed meeting you guys too. Thanks for your kind words. I hope our paths cross again. I enjoy your blog too, and the photos blow us away.
      Ron and Mare

      August 19, 2011
  5. I would ALMOST wish I was there in the rainy, cold weather…BUT…then I smarten up and remember…my idea of “roughing it” is staying at a Holiday Inn cuase there isn’t a Hilton in town!!
    I am now caught up with your fantastic stories…
    Hosue sold in 17 days… we move to “Campus Vista” Historic District next month.
    Keep up the “good life” and the stories.


    August 23, 2011
    • Mr. Redpath,
      Congratulations on the quick sale and purchase. Perhaps a sign of a turning economy? Hilton? What kind of Marine stays at a Hilton?

      August 30, 2011

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