Thursday, July 27, 2006

The HMS Indefatigable Takes To The Road

We packed that van like the moving pros we are. Extra clothes, close personal friends (Mr Tiger, Mama tiger, Bear Bear and the ilk) we didn't want to trust to the clutches of the low-bid military movers, a bit of cooking gear and a Coleman stove (the same one the kids recently risked life and limb with in the back yard) were slotted into the back without a wasted inch. Kids took over Van Center with relatively non-stick food-stuffs, a selection of car toys (new, never forget the value of previously un-seen toys on a long trip), and a definite lack of blue Gatorade. Kirk and I lolled in the massive front seats. We pulled majestically out onto the highway and drove away from Eagle River.

It's a good two day trip from Anchorage to Haines. If you're smart, you'll stop along the way in Beaver Creek. I'd like to go further and name the hotel we stayed in but I can't be absolutely sure... aw heck, we'll say it was the Westmark because I can't find anything else mentioned. Not only did these people spontaneously and at no additional cost upgrade us to the top-floor loft 'suite' with six beds, a lounge area (where you could enjoy the two channels they almost got) and a kitchenette, but they had the largest and most diverse collection of dead stuffed animals and the instruments that got 'em in that condition that I have ever seen in my life. We were so charmed Kirk secretly went back and bought me a sweatshirt so I could walk around with 'Beaver Creek' emblazoned on my shoulder and remember the friendly people who made our first night on the road a warm and comfortable one.

We drove into Haines through a snowstorm with enormous flakes so it looked like we were in the center of a waterglobe paperweight. We got there in time to do our pre-check in routine with the ferry - get our cabin assignements and our instructions on when and where to line up the van so it could be loaded up. Then we checked into our hotel.

I wish they had a better web site. This one really doesn't quite capture the special flavor of the place. It's not really the room (which did, I admit, feel slightly as though it were built of cardboard boxes), nor the fact that it was apparently either still under construction, or undergoing some serious structural renovation (in November), it's the Red Velvet Swing and the 'famous Money Ceiling.' Apparently the Fort Seward Lodge was around during the Gold Rush era, and welcomed weary rushers in with nubile young women dangling from the ceiling. In gratitude, the miners-to-be began pinning money up there. I think the idea was that she would then swing and pick off the dollar bills with her dainty little toes (probably exposing her dainty little Victorian legs as she did so). The swing is no longer in use, but for some reason people still pin money to the ceiling. Now, the coverage is a leeetle sparse assuming this has been done since the 1890's so I have a sneaking feeling that now and then there's a bit of pruning done.

I admit we did not attempt the trick.

No comments: