Middle of the woods
South of Haines
Alaska 12.9.90

Dear all,

Decided it was time to slow down a bit or else I’d run out of America soon. Had a hard frost at Whitehorse but that was two weeks ago now. Went to the coast and it’s been mild ever since. I stayed in Skagway for 4 days (good pub) and met some people who fish for a living – deep sea for salmon and halibut and mostly live on boats but some live ashore. They had their annual end of season barbeque at a lake up a mountain above Skagway which is a 3 hour very steep hike which I did with someone else. The rest of them chartered a helicopter to ferry them and the booze, dogs, kids, food etc. to the top and back later on. Anyway, one of them Gene, lives near Haines which is only 1 hour by ferry from Skagway and he has a caravan which he said I could stay in. Been here 9 days so far but leaving for Prince Rupert on the ferry tomorrow evening. Gene only fishes occasionally and is a diver, plumber or anything else that comes along. I’ve been plumbing with him last Friday and showed him how to do some of the propane gas bits. He gets paid good money for this and makes a lot of it up as he goes along. At the weekend we did some building on his workshop and today I’m wiring it up while he’s away working.

In exchange I stay for free and get to eat halibut steaks etc. Smoked salmon is the staple diet over here like we eat chips. People get sick of eating it. If I could carry it I could take half a fish shop with me. Some people called round yesterday who’d been out fishing for him with rods in a dinghy and caught 72 salmon and they’re not little. Had to keep taking them ashore because the boat couldn’t hold them. In this part of Alaska there are no planning laws. If you buy a piece of land you just build what you want on it. Some fantastic log cabins about but there is no mains water or electricity. Some people drill wells but a lot just fill containers from springs. There are showers and launderettes in town. Plenty of families live out in the wilds and manage quite happily without all the conveniences you take for granted.

It’s just started raining (first for a week) so I’m sitting in the workshop by the wood burning stove looking out at a glacier over the bay. All the trees etc. are changing colour and it really is all rather nice. Went for a ride in the mountains yesterday as it was warm and sunny and put some new spokes in and trued up my front wheel, fitted the tyre I bought with me and changed the oil the day before. Quite handy little spot this. There’s a bonfire and barbeque at Gene’s every Thursday night and everybody brings banjos and guitars and anything else, washboards etc. and they have a good old knees up. Unfortunately, I’ll miss tomorrows but last week was good.

Seem to have run out of space.

All the best.

Love Steve.