Our Lazy Daze Motorhome

Our Lazy Daze Motorhome
2009 Lake Louise

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Alaska Part XIII - Washington State to Birmingham, AL

Day 66, Friday, July 24, 2009

We left the Sumas RV Park at 10:30 AM PT. Our mileage was 28,782.0. We got gas at Bellingham. Our gas was $2.79 per gallon, a drastic difference here than in British Columbia. Because of a shimmy in the front end, we stopped at Pacific Tire in Mt. Vernon, Washington to have the front tires balanced, an extender replaced, and the lugs re-torqued. Sure enough the tires needed balancing. The cost was only $35.71 and we were back on the road in 45 minutes. We were told if there was any more shimmy, we should have the front end aligned. We arrived at Traveler Inns of Yakima RV Park in Yakima, Washington about 5:30 PM PT. It was basically a parking lot with a sliver of grass between sites. We had dinner, watched a little TV and turned it.

Day 67, Saturday, July 25, 2009

We left Traveler Inns of Yakima in Yakima, OR about 12:15 PM after doing our laundry. We stopped at Wal-Mart for groceries, got gas and stopped by the Post Office. Yakima has a nice small town feel and has amenities that would draw visitors. We left Yakima about 1:15 PM and drove across Washington and Oregon to Baker City, OR. We arrived about 5:30 PM at the Oregon Trails West RV Park. We were weary. We had driven about 230 miles in about 4 hours. We still have a shimmy in our front end so we will stop somewhere along the way to have it checked. We watched a little TV and journaled before going to bed.

Day 68, Sunday, July 26, 2009

Today is mom’s 81st birthday. She has been a real treasure in our lives. As I’ve gotten older, I look at myself and think I look like her and it makes me happy. I just hope I have her positive attitude when I get her age. This morning we left the Oregon Trails West RV Park at 8:00 AM PT. Our odometer was at 29,287.9. We got gas at Jerome, ID. Gas is going down every day. It is now down to $2.67. We stopped in Evanston, WY at a Wal-Mart to stay overnight, but the parking lot was very loud with lots of trucks. We only imagined they would have their motors running all night long. We decided to move on to Phillips RV Park in Evanston. It was nice and quiet and having the electricity was great since the temperature was in the mid-eighties we could run the air conditioner. This was a record day for us. We drove 505 miles in more than 9 hours, more than we have ever driven in a single day.

Day 69, Monday, July 27, 2009

We left the Phillips RV Park in Evanston, WY at 9:00 PM MT, got gas, and began driving through Wyoming. It is a beautiful state with lots of landscape variation along Hwy 80. It was rocky, hilly, then flat and scruffy. At exit 30 there were maybe 30 or 40 huge windmills under construction. The weather was mostly sunny with a few rain drops along the way. We stopped in Laramie to get gas. We were shocked to get it for $2.29. Woohoo! Ed took over the driving. The speed limit in Wyoming is 75 mph, but the maximum that we drive is about 65, give or take. Better to be safe than sorry. We crossed over into Nebraska and after driving 528 miles decided to stay in Ogallala, NE at Country View Campground on I80 at mm 126. It was nice and it was a warm evening so we needed air conditioning. We arrived at 6:30 PM MT, had spaghetti for dinner, and watched a little TV. Our mileage was 30,319.1.

Day 70, Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Today is mom and dad’s 60th wedding anniversary. When we get home, we will celebrate their milestone. We were on the road by 8:15 AM MT but the time changed to CT as soon as we got on the road. Nebraska is beautifully flat and grows LOTS of corn. The nice thing about Wyoming and Nebraska is that it is so flat that you can watch weathers patterns for miles all around you, most days. Today wasn’t one of those days because it was very cloudy and rained most of the day. We are still having problems with the front end of the LD so we stopped in Lincoln at Cross-Dillion Tire to have the front end aligned and the front tires balanced. They put on the spare because the left front rim was bent. It took about 2 hours but rode so much better. We arrived at the Kellogg RV Park at Exit 27 in Kellogg, IA around 7:45 PM CT. Our mileage was 30,821.5. We drove 502.4 miles today. Since we are back in the lower 48, the satellite dish is working again so we watched reruns of Will and Grace before turning in.

Day 71, Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We left the Kellogg RV Park on I-80 in Kellogg, IA at 9:15 AM CT. We drove to Swanton, OH and ate dinner at Shuckers. We had seafood. It was ok. We arrived at 5:30 PM. We were very tired from our 508 mile drive so we were to bed early. We stayed at the Big Sandy Campground. Our mileage was 31,329.1.

Day 72, Thursday, July 30, 2009

We left the Big Sandy Campground at 10:45 AM ET and drove toward Cuyahauga Falls, OH, where we visited with Jeanne’s childhood friend and wife, Pete and Margaret Sheppard. We arrived around 1:30 PM ET and visited with their kids and grandkids. We took a tour of Akron and visited Jeanne’s childhood home on Bank Street and middle and high schools. We stopped at Outback for dinner and didn’t leave the restaurant until about 9:00 pm. We then drove on to Youngstown and stayed overnight at a Walmart. We drove 211 miles today.

Day 73, Friday, July 31, 2009

We left Walmart at 10:00 AM ET with mileage of 31,540.9. We stopped at the Somerset Plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for gas, then stopped again at Breezewood at the Travel Center America to dump our tanks. It was located at the intersection of the turnpike and I-70. It had been raining cats and dogs all day but we pushed on and arrived at about 4:30 PM ET. The mileage was 31,846.

Day 74 to 76, Saturday, August 1, 2009 to Monday, August 3, 2009

Rest and relaxation. We left for Birmingham at 9:45 AM ET on August 3. We had lunch at Ruby Tuesdays in Charlestown, WV. Jeanne called Amy to wish her a happy birthday, then drove to the Shenandoah Valley Campground in Verona, VA at 3:00 PM ET.

Day 77, Tuesday, August 4, 2009

We left the campground around 9:30 AM ET and got gas. We drove to the Fort Chiswell RV camp in Max Meadows, VA at 5:30 PM with a mileage of 32, 281.8. We have stayed at Fort Chiswell before. They have full hook-ups including cable and the people that stay there are always friendly.

Day 78, Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Left Fort Chiswell at 11:30 AM ET. Got gas in Athens, TN and drove on to Desoto State Park Campground in Fort Payne, AL at about 5:00 PM CT. We arrived with a mileage of 32,632.7. We had driven approx 350 miles today.

Day 79, Thursday, August 6, 2009

We ate breakfast at the campground lodge. We toured the campground and thought it might be a good site for the SELD get together sometime. We took pictures. We left the campground about 9:45 AM CT and arrived home in Hoover, AL at 11:45 AM CT. We had driven 114 miles today and began to unpack and make plans for our next trip!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Alaska - Part XII - Prince Rupert to the US Border

Day 64, Wednesday, July 22, 2009

We are traveling today from Hazelton to just past Prince George. Once we got to Prince George, we found a Costco and went in for some food then traveled on down Hwy 97. We found a small campground on the map named Lazy Daze (just like our RV) in Quesnel BC. We decided to give it a try. We arrived at 7:30 PM PT and it was a real mess. It was cluttered and unkept and when we tested the water, it tested over 300 PPM so we didn’t hook up. But the electricity came in handy so we could run the air conditioner. After all, we would only be there one night. We drove 347 miles today. Our odometer reading is now 28,402.0 meaning we have driven a total of 8,000 miles since May 20th.

Day 65, Thursday, July 23, 2009

We didn’t sleep well last night, so we slept in and got a late start, which was not in our plan! We are still having trouble with the time here. Alaska Time is three hours earlier than Central Time. Now that we are in BC, we are in Pacific Time. By the time we get home, we are going to be really off track!!!!

Ed did maintenance on the tires, batteries, and checked the fluids before we left the campground. He found that the right front tire had a broken valve stem extender. He couldn’t air it up and it was five pounds low. We left the campground in search of a tire center and found Fountain Tire in Quesnel, BC. They were amazed that the tire was still holding air because almost the extender had broken off. They had to pull the tire, but had it fixed in a jiffy and we were on our way. One of Oprah’s favorite sayings is “listen to the whispers”. Thank God Ed was listening this morning when he decided to do the maintenance check. We left Quesnel at 10:50 AM PT. We made very good time down to Cache Creek. The roads were good and Ed managed to average about 60 mph. We got gas at Cache Creek and Jeanne took over the driving. We hadn’t even left town when the wind began gusting and the terraine changed from beautiful valley-floor farmland to barren dry treeless hills that only grew sage. The windstorm kept up all the way through Frazer Canyon to Hope. Frazer Canyon is through a gorge, very curvy, up and down long 7% hills, and a two-lane on the side of a mountain!! It took 3-1/2 hours to go 106 miles. We arrived at the border and traffic was horrible. We waited about 45 minutes to get through. We arrived in Sumas, Washington at the Sumas RV Park at 7:20 PM PT. When we stepped out of Tara at Sumas and there it was…the smell of money as we say in Montana…someone very close was fertilizing their fields. We had driven 379 miles today in 8-1/2 hours.

Alaska - Part XI - Ferry - Inside Passage Haines to Prince Rupert

Day 58, Thursday, July 16, 2009

We caught the MV Malaspina ferry over to Juneau at 9:00 AM. This ferry is capable of carrying 499 passengers and 88 vehicles. We saw two lighthouses, lots of whales in the distance, salmon jumping, someone saw sea lions, but we didn’t. The forest ranger onboard did a good job of sharing information regarding shipwrecks and verbal traditions of the area. When we embarked, we found the Mendenhall Lake USFS Campground and set up camp in a tent site which was nicer and had a better view than the RV sites. We were camped in view of the Mendenhall Glacier. It was a beautiful day so we took a short hike, took photos of the forest with moss ground cover, grilled burgers for dinner, and watched the movie, “As Good as it Gets” for the umpteenth time. Once again, Jack Nicholson cracked us up!

Day 59, Friday, July 17, 2009

We started the day by deciding to skip Ketchikan and go straight to Prince Rupert. We are tired and would have to spend almost four more days in Ketchikan. We drove out to the ferry office and changed our tickets. The Shrine of St. Therese was out that way so we stopped in, but it was closed to the public because they were having a retreat there this week-end. We drove into Juneau and stopped at the Coast Guard Dock and then drove up by the Governer’s Mansion and State Capital. We stopped at Fred Meyers for groceries, then drove to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor’s Center, watched a video, and took lots of up-close photos of the glacier. It was impressive. We returned to our campground and made dinner. We must be at the ferry dock at 6:00 AM to arrive in Sitka at 12:30 PM. We checked email and the internet told us that Walter Cronkite died today…so sad. He was the biggest news icon. We both remember him from when we were just little, coming in sweaty from catching lightening bugs with our friends. He was reporting on the circular black and white screen. No matter what the news he was reporting, he was like a family member and made us feel safe and secure. Those were truly the good ol’ days.

Day 60, Saturday, July 18, 2009

Because it rained all night, the 5:00 AM alarm was somewhat of an intrusion on our restless night’s sleep. We were at the ferry dock at 6:00 AM (requirement by ferry officials) for our 8:00 AM departure to Sitka on the MV Fairweather. This luxurious ferry is newer and much smaller, but also much faster than the MV Malispina. It goes twice as fast as other ferries in the Inside Passage, up to 38 knots which is ??? miles per hour. So our would-be 9 hour trip to Sitka took only 4.5 hours. Okay by us! As we went through Peril Strait, an area known for lots of wildlife, we had hoped to see whales, sea lions, and maybe eagles, but Ed thought he saw two porpoises. The overcast skies had some impact on visibility so we could have just missed them. We arrived in Sitka and were delighted at this little town. It is very quaint and especially pretty from the McConnell Bridge with all different colored houses and shops along the seashore. There are several marinas all varying from small fishing boats to large luxurious ocean liners. We decided to check out a few of the campgrounds, then we went to the II Level for lunch. Ed has his Penn State cap on so of course, we met some people from State College, Pennsylvania. After lunch we walked through a few stores and museums and then visited the National Park Service “Russian Bishop’s House”. It happened to be a “fee free day” so there was no charge. The tour was incredible. The Park Ranger enthusiastically did an excellent job of explaining the construction and décor of the house and was able to answer all our questions. He even let us climb the very narrow stairs to the attic to show us the construction up there. We decided that it was one of the best tours we had ever taken. We drove out to the “end of the road” and did a drive through of Starrigavin USFS Campground and it worked well for our needs…no hook-ups and $7 per night with our Senior Pass. And… there is a female grizzly with two cubs in the area. May be a photo op!!

Day 61, Sunday, July 19, 2009

Today, we toured the city of Sitka in steady rain. We toured the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, where they celebrated their 40th anniversary today. It is supported and operated by the US Forest Service and again had a “fee free day”. They displayed Chilkat robes, along with many articles and work implements. There were local Indian artisians looming, working in wood and copper. We visited Totem Trail where totems are strategically placed along a trail in a rain forest. We met a very nice couple from Colorado just as we began raining heavily so we decided to leave. We did a drive by of the St. Michael’s Russian Church and the Russian Cemetery. We were late arriving at the Sheldon Jackson Museum so we only had about 45 minutes to peruse thousands of items from the Alaskan Native culture gathered from 1888 until 1898 and donated by missionary Rev. Dr. Sheldon Jackson. It is Alaska’s oldest continually operating museum. We wish we had more time there. We arrived at the Sitka Ferry Terminal about 7:00 PM and made dinner, watched a movie and waited until mid-night when the ferry arrived to transport us and the RV to Prince Rupert, our last stop on the Alaskan Marine Highway. Finally we boarded the MV Matanuska, found our cabin, quickly unpacked and both were in bed by 1:00 AM. Oh God, I pray the fresh salmon in the RV freezer doesn’t thaw and ruin in the next 36 hours!!

Day 62, Monday, July 20, 2009

This morning we woke around 8:30 AM and took LONG hot showers. In the RV, we take short hot showers. We cleaned our tiny room and went exploring on the ferry. This boat is older and needs some renovation, but there is a full service cafeteria, a solarium with windows all around, a movie theater, and a whole floor of cabins. We stopped in Petersburg and Wrangel for an hour each during the day and Ketchikan during the night.

Day 63, Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We prepared ourselves to leave the ferry this morning, then had lunch in the cafeteria. We arrived into Prince Rupert at 2:30 PM PT, drove through Prince Rupert, got gas and headed up the Yellowhead Hwy toward Prince George. Our drove as far as Hazelton and found the ‘Ksan Indian Village and Campground owned and operated by the Gitxan Indian Tribe. It had nice level sites located in a grassy field on the river. We put a pork roast on the grill and sat outside. We commented how cold and rainy it was every day while we were going down the Inside Passage, but the minute we got off the ferry, the weather turned warm and sunshiny.

Alaska - Part X - Anchor Point to Haines

Day 52, Friday, July 10, 2009

Ed, Jim, and Martha took off to fish for halibut. Halibut fishing all day from a small boat in a rough ocean is not on my bucket list!! Especially when the limit is 2!!! So I stayed at the campground to do laundry, journal, and read. Everyone came back with lots of fish and sea-sick stories. Ed shipped 20 lbs home and the Bergers shipped 34 lbs. Life is good. We had to check-in at Homer on the bear viewing trip to Katmai so we took off for Homer and Emerald Air. We checked in and they recommended a great little restaurant down on the boardwalk named Fresh Catch Café. We had halibut (fish and chips) and it was wonderful. We headed back to the campground to get ready for our bear viewing ride over to Katmai.

Day 53, Saturday, July 11, 2009

Well, I raised the shade this morning and the view of fog took the wind right out of my sails!! I was afraid that the plane ride in Ken’s Otter over to Katmai would be cancelled and so it was. We were to fly over with a family of four from Belgium and Les, the post-mistress from Prudhoe Bay. While we waited for the bad news, we watched and took pictures of two red-necked grebes making a nest. About noon Ken and Chris made the final decision that it was too foggy to fly. They were very accommodating and tried to reschedule us, but our agenda would not allow it. We will come back another year to view the bears. Before we left Homer, we stopped to take pictures of the Salty Dawg Saloon. It was nostalgic. There were one dollar bills hanging on every ceiling and wall surface. As we were leaving Homer, we saw Alex and Brenda Rutchka walking from a distance and stopped to say hello. We left the Kyllonen Campground in Anchor Point a day early because we need to get to Haines by Wednesday to catch the ferry. I called Ron and Carol McNaughton, the camp hosts at Quartz Creek Campground (Cooper Landing) and they gave us a spot in the employee site even though the campground was full. We just can’t stay away! They are such nice people.

Day 54, Sunday, July 12, 2009

Today was a long day of driving. We got up around 8:30 am and got away from the campground around 10:00 am after we checked the air in our tires and in Berger’s RV rental. We headed to Glennallen and they headed to Denali. The Bergers seemed happy to finally be RVing on their own. The drive from Cooper’s Landing to the Tolsona Wilderness Campground (commercial with full-hook-ups) 13 miles this side of Glennallen was beautiful. Fireweed is in bloom and gorgeous along the roadside. The drive was about 290 miles, but took about 7 hours. The Glenn Highway winds around the Matsu Valley and has lots of frost heaves so we were careful. Mosquitoes and biting flies are bad right now, but the saving grace is the site we chose here at Tolsona, number 83. We were very near a babbling creek. We opened the windows and were mesmerized by the sound of the water!! After a light dinner we checked email, wrote post cards, watched the movie Fried Green Tomatoes (again) and off to bed.

Day 55, Monday, July 13, 2009

Today is Tracy’s 39th birthday. I always call her at the exact time that she was born…a little tradition we have. Today, I called her early while we were in Tok, the only time we actually had cell service. We left Tolsona Wilderness Campground and got on the Tok Cut-Off to Tok. We arrived about lunch time so we had a halibut sandwich at Fast Eddies. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center and picked up our schedule for the ferry and Jeanne took the wheel and headed toward the Yukon. The border crossing was a piece of cake. The Yukon’s roads are the worst in all our travels. The frost heaves are deep and plentiful. We drove to the Cottonwood RV Park on Kluane Lake. We chose a site as far away from the main park as we could so we could use our generator for air conditioning. The temperature topped 80 degrees. The bugs here are also the worst we have seen; mosquitoes, black flies, knats, etc. Ed grilled chicken. We watched a movie while we ate dinner, then turned in.

Day 56, Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This morning, we woke up to a dead truck battery. We didn’t push our light switch completely in so we left the parking lights on. Ed got a jump from the camp host while I checked email at their office. We got away mid-morning and set our sights on Haines. We got gas in Haines Junction, about 50 miles from Cottonwood, then got on the Haines Highway about 150 more miles to Haines, AK. We had to cross the border again, but had no trouble. The ranger had family in Montgomery and we talked about the peaches in Clanton. The drive down to Haines was absolutely gorgeous with huge snow covered mountains on three sides. The fireweed was in full bloom and covered the shoulders and hillsides with pink. The Eagle Preserve is located on the Chilkat River, but the eagles are only in abundance in October and November at the end of the last salmon run. After getting into Haines around 5:30 pm, we drove five more miles out to the ferry terminal to pick up our tickets. We saw several eagles there. After arriving at the Haines Hitch-Up RV Park and settling in, we made phone calls to friends and family. Ed grilled chicken for dinner and we watched TV … yes TV, the first in over 6 weeks … and as usual, there was nothing on.

Day 57, Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Walked all over Haines, laundry, washed RV, got stuff together for ferry ride into Juneau.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Alaska - Part IX - Cooper Landing to Anchor Point, Kenai Peninsula

Day 40, Sunday, June 28, 2009

Today, we attended St. John Newmann Catholic Church. Before the service, Father Dick greeted everyone without his robe on. He told us on Friday that he would be teaching on healing and offer the anointing with oil to the sick. It was a very unusual service. The Catholic churches we have attended are usually not as warm as this one. The people were friendly and accepting of the anointing with oil. His homily was exceptionally interesting. Father Dick made a smoked salmon dip for us to enjoy after the service. After we went back to the campsite to change clothes, we all headed off to Soldotna to buy groceries, do laundry and find a hot spot to pay bills. We stopped at McDonalds for dinner and after returning to the campground, we all sat around the campfire until about 11:30 pm.

Day 41, Monday, June 29, 2009

Today, Ed and Hank went fishing again. Hank caught 6 and Ed caught none. We all felt sorry for him because they fished all day. It seems you can be standing next to someone that is catching fish and you won’t. Their grandson will arrive on Thursday and the Bergers will arrive on Saturday so they will make more time for fishing next week. The Sockeye will be running until July 14 and we think the limit will still be 6 each. Winkie and I relaxed all day, caught up on journaling, and birdwatched. I made spaghetti for dinner.

Day 42, Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This morning we vacuum packed Hank’s 6 fish from yesterday’s catch and took them to Hamilton’s Store to freeze. We stopped by the post office to mail postcards and packages to friends and family. We then headed the 125 miles to Homer. After all, we had nothing else to do. Along the way we stopped to take pictures and visited the small town of Ninilchik. There is a Russian Church there. The shop we went into was named “The Francis-Rose”. I was immediately drawn to Charlene, the owner of the shop. She was so happy and full of love. She mentioned that she was raising her 12 year old grandson because her daughter had died in an accident. Her name was Charlene and we were instant friends. We exchanged stories of loss and tears of joy. In some ways, her story of her daughter paralleled our loss of my niece, Faith. I had picked up a jasper bracelet and was about to pay for it when she said, “Let me give it to you as a gift. I want to.” It turned out, she was the gift, not so much the bracelet. We hugged several times before leaving her shop uplifted. It was one of those strange occurrences that only happen a few times in your life. We arrived in Homer around 4:00 pm and drove down the spit, shopped, checked on halibut fishing charters, and checked out Emerald Airlines. By this time, it was almost 6:00 pm. We decided to go down to the dock where the one-engine Otter float plane was located. This is the plane we will be taking on our bear viewing excursion on July 11. As we got to the dock, the people were just returning from bear viewing. They talked about where they had been and what they saw. How excited they were over the plane trip to Katmai NP! One young woman proudly showed me a close shot of a mother grizzly standing on her back legs with two cubs near. We returned to the RV for a dinner of grilled salmon, asparagus, cole slaw and corn bread. Yummy!! We sat around our campfire chatting with Hank, Winkie and Ron, our camp host, until mid-night.

Day 43, Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Yesterday, we made plans to ship our salmon home. This morning, someone from UPS sent Hank into a panic when he found out we needed to take the fish to the airport by noon. It was already 10:00 am so we grabbed the fish from the freezer at Hamilton’s store and “raced” to Soldotna. The guys dropped me off at a hot spot so I paid bills, checked email and uploaded to the blog while they took the fish to the shipper. As it turned out, the shipper held the fish in their freezer overnight and will ship them tomorrow for Friday delivery. We were happy that we were able to send home 30 lbs of salmon for $87, that’s close to $3.00 per pound. Not too bad!! When we arrived back at the campground, Ed and I took a bike ride up the road into an upscale log cabin community where the doctors and lawyers live. The homes were beautiful and right on Kenai Lake. We returned for a light supper and watched a chic flick, Steel Magnolias, before retiring!!

Day 44, Thursday, July 2, 2009

Today, we have been at Quartz Creek Campground for two weeks. Long time for us, we usually like to stay on the move. Early this morning, Hank and Winkie left for Anchorage to pick up their 15 year old grandson from the airport. We got a recommendation from Ron, our camp host, to hike up to the falls so we drove the motorhome to the overflow parking area at the Russian River Campground, biked up the hill to the trailhead, and hiked the 3 miles in to the Russian River Falls. It was incredible! Hundreds of salmon were taking turns jumping up the falls. It was hard to capture with our cameras, but what an experience to watch!! Those tired little fish trying to jump up the 6-8 feet and swim against the current to the top of the falls. We trekked back the three miles and felt really blessed that our bike ride back was all downhill!! We had steak for dinner and shared Herb and Nancy’s campfire.

Day 45, Friday, July 3, 2009

We went to Soldotna to do laundry, shopped at Fred Meyers, and stopped on the way back at Gwin’s store for more of their 50% off bargains. When we returned back to the campground, Hank and Winkie had taken Ryan fishing on the Kenai. Hank caught three. We walked over and visited with Herb and Nancy and their friends, Ross and Margie, and went to bed around midnight.

Day 46, Saturday, July 4, 2009

All five of us crammed into Hank’s truck and went to Seward for their big 4th of July Celebration. The Mount Marathon Race is 3.5 miles straight up a 3,022 foot peak overlooking Resurrection Bay. Some slopes are as severe as 60 degrees. The runners check before the race starts, check in at the top, and get down any way they can. The youth only run half way up the mountain. Believe it or not, there was a 7 year old that finished in just over one hour. We watched the women come down the mountain filthy dirty and cut up as they took short-cuts down over rock shears. The men’s race was too late for us so we had lunch at the Catholic Church and then headed back the slow 45 miles to the campground at Cooper Landing. After dinner, we walked over to Herb and Nancy’s site. Hank, Winkie, and Ryan also came over. Ross and Margie, Herb and Nancy’s friends, were there and Margie began sharing that today is the anniversary of Nancy losing her husband, son and his best friend in a car accident several years ago by a drunk driver. As Margie told Nancy’s story, we felt as though we were intruding on a secret personal moment in Nancy’s life, but we also felt blessed that they felt comfortable telling us. Herb and Nancy are two very special people that we had the privilege of meeting and getting to know on this trip. We will definitely stay in touch with them in the years to come. This is what we love about camping, not just here in Alaska, but everywhere…the people are so great!!

Day 47, Sunday, July 5, 2009

We drove to Anchorage to meet Martha and Jim. We went to Sams, Costco, Fred Meyers and several outdoor stores for supplies for them. Their RV rental came equipped with all the utensils and equipment, but they needed food and fishing stuff. Jim finally settled on buying waders with the shoes built in. We are working to make their Alaskan RV experience a nice one. They are growing more accustomed to camping, something they have never done on their own. After all, another couple showed us the ropes and we are returning the favor. We returned to the campground and had dinner around 10:00 pm, way too late for me!!!

Day 48, Monday, July 6, 2009

We had lunch at the Sunrise Café and headed to Gwin’s store where we picked up a few ½ price t-shirts and Jim got a fishing license. In the afternoon, Ed took Jim fishing on the Kenai across the ferry. Neither caught anything, but they had a good time anyway. Jim broke Ed’s rod so Ed let him fish with his. Later, Hank came over and asked us to help him copy his pictures to a CD so we made him several CDs so he could format his card. We sat around the campfire listening to the guy’s fish stories about the big ones that got away. Jim thought it was comical the way everyone got so mad when they lost or foul hooked a fish. We girls listened until either we were bored to death or the wine had kicked in, or all of the above -- and headed to bed.

Day 49, Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hank and Winkie left this morning headed for Denali so Jim and Martha moved into their spot across from us. We drove into Soldotna to return Ed’s broken fishing rod to the Trustworthy Hardware store. We stopped at the St. Elias Brewing Company for lunch. Their pizza was excellent. In the afternoon, Ed and Jim went fishing on the Kenai and Ed caught one so they filleted it and we had ½ of it for dinner. Martha and I just relaxed awhile and then took a bike ride around the campground. She hasn’t ridden a bike in years and had to get readjusted, but then did just fine. After dinner, we sat around the campfire for a while then decided we were all much too tired to socialize and went to bed.

Day 50, Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Can you believe that we have been away from home 50 days already? In some ways, it seems like we left only yesterday and in others it seems we’ve been gone a year. This is the longest trip we have made thus far, but hope to do something similar again…but who knows? Today, we planned to take a glacier tour in Seward so we took the rental. Martha was pilot and I was co-pilot. Before we left, they wanted fill up with fresh water but we had trouble getting the tank to take the water. I guess we weren’t holding our mouths just right. We got away a few minutes later than expected for our 11:30 departure but could have made the dock by 11:35. We called ahead and Renown wouldn’t hold the boat 5 minutes for us. Oh well, we did some shopping and sight-seeing around town. We stopped at a small campground just next to the Sealife Center and the host gave us a recommendation for lunch. Ray’s down by the docks was absolutely wonderful. The glassed-in patio was cozy and bright. Everyone had the cod special as recommended; three pieces of lightly battered cod, cole slaw, French fries, and hot bread, and all for only $10 each. Every bite made us happy that we “missed our boat”! Before leaving Seward, we drove up to the Exit Glacier. We walked the .5 miles out to a good viewing area and took pictures. The glacier has receded considerable since before the turn of the century so we were questioning how Al Gore’s thoughts on global warming had much impact back then.

Day 51, Thursday, July 9, 2009

Today was a sad day. After three weeks of heaven on the Kenai Lake, we left our little nest at Quartz Creek Campground in Cooper Landing, along with the wonderful hosts, Ron and Carol McNaughton, and took off for Anchor Point. We stopped in Kenai to watch the dip netting, but it doesn’t start there until tomorrow. Dip netting is something only Alaska residents get to do. They take these huge nets and fish for salmon. There is a limit as to how many they can catch, but it is to sustain them for the winter. Primarily, from what we have seen, most fishing done here is sports fishing for the non-Alaska residents. People fly in from all over the world to fish. While in the small town of Kenai, we visited the Kenai Russian Orthodox Church and got a tour by the priest there. Along the way to Anchor Point, we stopped in Ninilchik and visited the gift shop to see my friend Charlene and then walked up the hill to the Ninilchik Russian Orthodox Church. Small world. The priest we visited earlier in Kenai pastured this church for many years before going there. While there, we found the dock where the group will be departing for their halibut fishing tomorrow and picked up a fishing license for Martha. With our detour, we traveled about 150 miles today, arriving at the Kyllonen RV Park about 6:00 pm. Kyllonen is a commercial campground with full hook-ups and wi-fi for $34 per night. They also have a laundry and nice restrooms with showers. We started a campfire and Ed grilled the remainder of the fresh salmon. It was great!! Everyone is looking forward to a great day of halibut fishing tomorrow so we turned in early. It sounds as though this part of the trip has been all about fishing!! But, when the fish are running, one must take advantage! Along with the fishing, there are many diverse areas to visit and sights to see that you can’t see in the lower 48. Our visit to Alaska has definitely been interesting and educational.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Alaska - Part VIII - Cooper Landing, AK

Day 34, Monday, June 22, 2009

Today the weather was rainy, wet and cold. We had lunch before we left for Seward to explore the gift shops and look into the offerings of glacial tours. We stopped at Safeway to look at one of their coupon books. We got back to the CG around 7:30 pm. The guys cooked steak and chicken on the grill. We watched a movie and went to bed at 1:00 am, still twilight.

Day 35, Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We were up at 7:30 am, emptied our tanks and got fresh water. Ed and Hank went fishing in the Kenai and Hank caught 6 fish and Ed caught 4. Jeanne and Winkie headed off to Kenai. We stopped in Soldotna at a small shop to buy birch root baskets that we had seen on a previous trip and picked up groceries at Safeway and miscellaneous items at Fred Meyer. For dinner we made it easy and had fresh salmon dip (from Herb and Nancy) and crackers.

Day 36, Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All four of us went to Soldotna looking for a Food Saver to vacuum pack our fish. We found one at Fred Meyer, but also stopped in at the two thrift stores in town where Hank and Winkie bought a Magic Vac for $25. We stopped at “Town of Living Trees” where a carver was using a chainsaw to make animal statuary, i.e., bears, moose, fish, etc...and this big chair. We bought a couple of handmade baskets and other miscellaneous items. When we returned to the CG we packaged our salmon with our new vacuum packers and put it on ice. For dinner, we marinated and grilled fresh salmon and asparagus. We visited with Tim and Pam and warmed ourselves by their campfire, along with Ron and Carol, our camp hosts.

Day 37, Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ed and Hank went fishing while Jeanne and Winkie went shopping in Seward. We had lunch at the Marina Restaurant. Upon returning we found that both Ed and Hank had caught the limit of 6 fish each. Jeanne bought a wolf’s tooth key ring and t-shirts for the grandkids. We were all totally exhausted and had soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner and went to bed early.

Day 38, Friday, June 26, 2009

We slept in, showered, package gifts to mail, vacuum packed our fish from yesterday’s catch, then decided to try to see the Bore Tide and the little town of Hope. Before we left, we dropped into the Post Office and drove up to the little Catholic Church where we would be attending on Sunday. The church was a log cabin in a beautiful mountainous setting with lots of wildflowers. The priest, Father Dick, drove up just as we were about to leave. He was a nice man who looked as though he had been painting. He gave us a tour of the church and grounds then invited us up to the rectory where he was cooking seafood chowder and marinating salmon. He had just finished smoking some salmon and he offered us some. It was so delicious. He gave us a small taste of his homemade fireweed wine and shared his recipe for salmon marinade and we were on our way. He was a jolly Minnesotan retired priest, who comes to Alaska for 2-1/2 months each year as interim pastor of the St. John Neumann Catholic Church, but he also comes to fish. Hank was short on gas so we drove 30 miles to Girdwood to fill up, then headed over to Hope. Hope is at the end of the Hope Highway and is surrounded by Turnagain Arm. It is a cute little town with old Alaskan log cabins that house shops, cafes, and lodging. We asked some folks in Hope were to best view the Bore Tide. A Bore Tide is a wave that forms as a result of a low tide going out meeting the high tide coming in. There are only four locations in the world where you can see this phenomenon. We viewed it from the south side of Turnagain Arm along the Hope Highway from a rock ledge with a guy named “Lightening” from Destin, FL and some friends of his that were in Hope for a wedding. The wave was 2-3 feet high as it swept over Turnagain Arm. We jumped in Hank’s truck and chased it down the highway until we could no longer view it from the road. The tide at Turnagain Arm can vary 40 feet from low tide to high tide. Ed and Jeanne hosted salmon dinner with salad and cornbread.

Day 39, Saturday, June 27, 2009

Today Hank and Eddie went fishing with Tim (ranger for Fish and Wildlife) and his friend Jim. They walked 2-1/2 miles to the Russian River. After catching nothing, they walked back to the Kenai River and fished for a while, but were tired and called about 4:00 for a ride back to the campground. Winkie and Hank hosted dinner of chicken, potatoes, slaw, and corn. Yummmm....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alaska - Part VII - Denali NP to Cooper Landing, Kenai Peninsula

Friday, June 12, 2009

We departed Riley Creek Campground in Denali N.P. at 1:15 pm AT and headed toward Talkeetna. We stopped at Cubby’s for a few food items and took the 14 mile road into Talkeetna where we found a site at the Talkeetna Camper Park with water and electric. Our mileage was 25,530.3. We arrived at 6:00 pm. After checking in, we drove on into Talkeetna and had dinner at the Wildflower Café. (We parked next to the grass airfield where bush planes take off and land.) We both had a grilled Halibut sandwich and bought a small rock vase from the management made by a local artist for $30. Our campground was at the train depot and there were lots of folks from the tour buses loading and unloading onto passenger trains. Talkeetna is the base for mountain climbers that are climbing Mt. McKinley. It was wet and chilly so we stayed in and watched a movie and headed to bed early.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

After we checked out, we drove back into Talkeetna and bought t-shirts for the Burgers at the museum, bought another rock vase, and walked through the gift shops. We had elk sausage and veggie flatbread sandwiches at the Mountain High Pizza. We left Talkeetna at 2:15 pm in the rain headed for Wasilla. Wasilla is larger than we thought and is spread out along the Parks Highway. We arrived at Walmart for the night at about 4:00, however over-knighting was not allowed there. We met a nice couple from Nebraska that was having wheel bearing problems. We offered to help but what do we know about wheel bearings…nothing. He got it fixed temporary and we followed them to the Big Bear RV Park about a mile away. Mileage upon arrival was 25,600.5. The woman working there shared lots of information on the Kenai Peninsula and Katmai National Park. We had local Anchorage TV, watched a little and turned in.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

We spent most of the day housecleaning, doing laundry, etc. We stayed on the phone quite a while making reservations for the Marine Highway ferry and with the Bergers finalized our flight from Homer into the Katmai NP. We had tacos for dinner and just relaxed and read the remainder of the evening.

Monday, June 15, 2009

We left the Big Bear RV Park at 11:30 am on our way to the Kenai. We shopped at Fred Meyer in Wasilla and stopped at the post office to mail post cards and birthday cards to the grandkids. We drove through Anchorage intending to stop at the Creek wood Inn Campground with full services. It was less than appealing, on one of the busiest urban streets in downtown Anchorage so we decided to drive back to a Centennial Camper Park municipal campground. It was lovely, but because of political reasons the campground was closed from Monday noon until Thursday morning, so we continued down the Seward Highway, drove through the Bird Creek State Campground. The roads were more than rutted, and as Ed got out checking one of the sites, we found that it was mosquito-infested. He had about 10 mosquitoes on him getting back in the LD. So we continued driving along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet. It was beautiful. The day was sunny and warm. We stopped along the way at a turnout and saw Dall Sheep up on the mountain behind us. We turned on Portage Valley Road toward Whittier. This was our first stop on the Kenai Peninsula. At mile 4, we turned into the Williwaw Campground (USFS) with lots of trees, wide paved roads and large sites. It is surrounded by mountains and glaciers on three sides and sits directly below overhanging Middle Glacier. It is right next to the Williwaw Creek Salmon Viewing Area. The salmon will not be running until late July, but there are trout in the creek. We had a glass of wine sitting outside while we enjoyed the view. Ed grilled chicken and Jeanne made a nice wine sauce and broccoli. It was a great having dinner under the glaciers!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We awakened at 9:30 am, chilly and rainy. We caught up on our journaling. We drove into Whittier through the 2.5 mile single lane (shared with the train) tunnel. Whittier was depressed. It looks like something left over from WWII because it was. Founded in 1943, when the US Army used this ice-free port to build an Alaska Army Base. The town was made accessible by the road-rail toll tunnel which connects Arm with Passage Canal, an arm of Prince William Sound. What we discovered while here is that this is the only piece of land that connects, making the peninsula (instead of an island). After a short driving tour, we returned through the tunnel and pulled over on the other side to take pictures of the Portage Glacier and met four guys from Alabama; two from Montgomery and two from Birmingham. They had just flown into Anchorage and were headed to Soldontna to fish for 10 days. We returned to the Williwaw Campground. It was cold, but we took a hike on the trail next to the salmon viewing stream. (There was no salmon!) We grilled marinated salmon from our freezer (from Hoover’s Costco) for dinner. We hardly slept; the wind was howling and it was cold.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

We woke at 8:30 am and Winkie and Hank Boemer, our friends from Georgia, were knocking on the door at 9:30 am. We decided to take another trip into Whittier with them. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center and saw a great little 20 minute film about how glaciers form and viewed the icebergs in Portage Lake. We went back into Whittier with them. A cruise ship was there, so some of the shops were open. We walked around, visited a coffee shop and had coffee, chai and fudge. We returned to the campground with quite a delay. There had been an accident in the tunnel and we waited an extra hour to return to the campground. We got back around 5:30 pm and visited with them in their travel trailer and made them a CD with their pictures on it, so they could format their camera card. We watched a movie and turned in around 11:00 pm.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We left the Williwaw Campground with the Boemers at 9:00 am and drove up Portage Glacier Road to the Seward Highway. We saw eagles on Arm and one was sitting very close to the highway so we got some photos. We needed gas and propane, so we backtracked to Girdwood (home of Senator Stevens of the “Bridge to Nowhere” fame!) then headed toward Cooper Landing, where we luckily got two campsites at Quartz Creek Campground on the Kenai Lake. It was beautiful. When we arrived, we thought we had a propane leak, but it was overfilled and when the tank got to the correct level, it stopped leaking. We drove down to where the Russian River meets the Kenai River. It was amazing…there were hundreds of fishermen, combat fishing for migrating red salmon. We stood at the Russian River Ferry and witnessed many fish being caught. Ed and Hank were very excited to fish tomorrow.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hank and Ed went fishing. Jeanne and Winkie were headed to Soldotna and got a call that Ed had fallen into the river while trying to catch a salmon. Jeanne drove the rig up to the river and brought him dry clothes. Ed and Hank returned to fishing. Jeanne and Winkie shopped at Soldotna. The guys were freezing so they came back to the campsite and the girls came in later. The guys had seen a grizzly about 400 feet away from where they were standing eating the discarded salmon carcasses.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ed and Hank fished Quartz Creek. We later met Herb and Nancy Quinn from Eagle River, AK who had the site next to Hank and Winkie. They were canning salmon and we were curious, so we asked them how it was done. The guys went back to the river to fish with the other thousands of fishermen while Jeanne and Winkie visited with Herb and Nancy. They gave us recipes for canned salmon, barbecued salmon, and smoked salmon, along with reindeer food. Jeanne and Winkie were invited to eat dinner with Herb and Nancy. They ate barbequed salmon, salad, and watermelon. We have found that Alaskans are very warm and accommodating. The guys returned from the river around 11:00 pm and found Jeanne and Winkie sitting around the campfire. The guys had no dinner and too much scotch. We retired around 1:00 am.

Sunday, June 21, 2009 Father’s Day

This morning we decided to stay several more days here at the Quartz Creek USFS CG. We all (Jeanne, Ed, Hank, and Winkie) took off to Soldotna in Hank’s truck. We shopped at the Hardware and Fishing store, did our laundry, paid bills, went to Fred Meyers, visited Hank’s friend’s Walter and Wilda’s campsite, and took a drive through the Centennial Park CG where the Lazy Daze people, Pat and Lee Koontz, are staying for the summer. They live in NC in the winter. We were not taken by the Centennial CG. We left Soldotna and got back to Quartz Creek CG about 6:30 pm. All Ed’s kids and Tracy and Amy called today to wish Ed a Happy Father’s Day. We watched a movie and turned in.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Alaska - Part VI - Fairbanks, AK to Denali Nat'l Park

Sunday, June 7, 2009

We are in Fairbanks at the River’s Edge Campground with full hook-ups (incl. TV and wi-fi). It sits on the Chena River, which is good for fishing, as well as boating and swimming. Arriving, our mileage was 25,202.4. That means our mileage from Birmingham is right at 5,000 miles. We cleaned the LD up a bit in the morning then took the 2:00 pm Discovery Riverboat tour. We met the tour bus at 1:00 along with several other couples from the campground and lodge. The riverboat offered several demonstrations along the bank as we boated down the Chena River. We saw a float plane take off and land within feet of the riverboat. The captain stopped the riverboat at the Susan Butcher Dog Kennels (she won the Iditarod 4 times with her dog Granite; in 2006 she lost her life to leukemia at the age of 52) and saw how they train the dogs for a race in the summer, by pulling a four wheeler around instead of a sled. The dogs get so excited; once they are in place they just want to RUN. Just down the river, an Eskimo gave us a demonstration of how her people had smoked salmon for centuries. What made these demonstrations so nice was that the people on the banks had microphones which came through on the riverboat’s audio system so there was dialog between the captain and the Eskimos giving these talks. We were able to get off the boat at an authentic looking Indian village with numerous demonstrations of the life and culture of the Eskimos centuries ago, i.e., how animals were trapped and how their fur and meat was used for clothing, housing, and food. There was a caribou exhibit. Know the difference in a caribou and a reindeer? Reindeers can fly! The experience was interesting. People from the banks that gave the earlier demonstrations were also in the village to answer any questions. Susan Butcher’s daughter was there to sign her mom’s book appropriately named “Granite”. After a trip through the gift shop, we boarded the bus and got back to the LD around 5:00 pm. We walked over to the campground-owned Chena’s Alaskan Grill for dinner. Nice restaurant but a little pricey. We had a glass of wine and light fare and then back home to our cozy bed to watch a little TV before turning in.
Monday, June 8, 2009

12:00 midnight

We visited the North Pole and Santa Land. As we were driving back to Fairbanks from North Pole, the battery door opened and the tray that hold the two house batteries came sliding out. We had the tray repaired at Alaska RV. We then headed to the Pump House on the Chena River for dinner. We both had their fresh Halibut and it was delicious. We went back to our campsite and proceeded to do laundry with 7 or 8 other couples. We took pictures of the daylight at 12:00 mid-night and finished the laundry about 12:30 am.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We made phone calls, dumped, cleaned and re-arranged. We went to Fred Meyers for gas, groceries and bear spray, and went to the post office to mail t-shirts and post cards to the grandkids. We left Fairbanks about 2:00 pm. Mileage 25,248.3. We arrive at the Riley Creek Campground about 4:30 pm. We checked in and picked up our tickets for tomorrow’s bus trip. It was a really nice, updated campground with lots of trees, new restrooms and picnic tables, and a well-stocked Mercantile for supplies. We had cell (ATT) service and wi-fi was available at the Mercantile. Highly recommend for dry camping. When we first arrived, we drove around the campground and found two other Lazy Daze rigs. We talked to one of the owners. Both owners were women traveling alone, one from MA and the other from CA. We grilled salmon for dinner, packed our backpacks for tomorrow’s bus trip into the park and went to bed early.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We woke at 6:00 am, dressed quickly, and caught the shuttle to the Wilderness Center. We left on our bus tour to Kantishna at 7:45 am. That is as far as you can go on the Park Road, 90 miles one way. Our driver was Kim Turnbull and was very entertaining. We saw 16 grizzly bears, some very close to the road, lots of caribou, Dall sheep, Alaska’s state bird (Ptarmigan), Bald Eagle, and arctic ground squirrels. We saw lots of wildflowers that are indigenous to this area. We are now in the 30% club, only 30% of the people that visit Mt. McKinley get to see the top. It is generally clouded over, but we saw it! It was a long trip, but worth every minute. As we returned to the campground, Kim dropped us at 7:45 pm at the Murie Science Center where Verna Pratt was giving a talk on Alaskan wildflowers. She is very well-known and published several books on wildflowers in this area, but has a Baa Haabaa accent!! She did a great job, but we were exhausted so we left early and caught the shuttle to our campsite.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It is so gorgeous here that we decided to stay another day. We biked into the village of Denali, had lunch at the Salmon Bake restaurant (no salmon on the menu for lunch). We took what we thought was a shortcut to the Denali Park Visitor’s Center that ended up on the “wrong side of the tracks” at Denali station, so we carried our bikes across about 6 pair of tracks and headed the 200 yards to the visitor’s center where we saw many (stuffed) wild animals and a nice demonstration of how the Eskimos lived before the white men arrived. We bought several books, one was Verna Pratt’s wildflower books. The bike trail was downhill, so it didn’t take us long to get back to the Mercantile where we bought a few items and then back to the campsite for a pasta dinner. We took a short walk around the campground to see if we could find a brown Lazy Daze we saw drive through, but no luck. Ed tried to sit outside for a while, but the mosquitoes here are very aggressive! We were both exhausted from our bike rides today. Tomorrow we will leave Denali for Talkeetna.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Alaska - Part V - Lake Watson YT to Fairbanks, AK

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We left the Watson Lake campground at 10:20 am PT and stopped downtown to take pictures of the Signpost Forest, 60,000 signposts from all over the world. It was amazing. We stopped for lunch at the Continental Divide Lodge where we had a chicken sandwich and bean soup. It was a very boring drive from Watson Lake to Whitehorse. Not much in the way of scenery and saw only one black bear. We arrived at Whitehorse at 4:30 pm PT and checked into the Hi Country RV Campground. Our mileage was 24,588.7. We met a nice couple from Georgia (Hank and Winkie) and another from Florida and spent the evening talking about our trip plans. The mosquitoes were terrible. We had insect repellent on and the pests didn’t care, they bit us anyway.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

This was a rest day. We finally got to Whitehorse yesterday and right away met two really nice couples, Hank and Winkie from Valdosta, Georgia and Larry and Carol from Florida. We really like this park, it has good wi-fi and TV cable and TREES, unlike some of the CGs in the Yukon that are sitting on a gravel lot. Today, we did laundry, visited the local community fair (every Thursday they sell their wares, pottery, jewelry, homemade bread and jellies, that sort of stuff). We got groceries, went to the Visitor's Center, and went to large local market, named Super Store, which turned out to be a mini-Costco. The highlight of the trip so far was today, visiting the Whitehorse dam and the Whitehorse Rapids Fish Ladder. It is run by the Yukon Energy Corp and built for the salmon, actually detouring the salmon that come back to spawn from getting killed in the dam. We got a great deal of information about when and where the salmon spawn. The end of the run is about 30 miles upstream from Whitehorse. The salmon come back from the Berring Sea, where they grow for 5-6 years, swim 1,800 miles back to spawn within one meter of where they were born. Kinda unbelievable. We saw salmon that were about one year old. They were the same size and looked a lot like a minnow. I never thought I would care that much, but it was so interesting. This is the longest Chinook Salmon run in the world. We sat around with Hank and Winkie during the evening discussing our Alaska plans.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Left Hi Country RV Park in Whitehorse at 9:50 am YT. Traveling with Hank and Winkie, we stopped at the Kluane National Park Visitors Center and saw Dall Sheep on the steep slopes through telescopes and binoculars. Dall sheep and Stone sheep are smaller and considered thin-horned as opposed to Big Horn sheep. The First Nation (Indian) ranger gave us a lesson on First Nation jewelry. The real trade beads are over 100 years old and beautiful. From Haines Junction to mm 1085, the road was not good. We stopped to camp at the Lake Creek (gov’t) campground at 5:00 pm YT. No services. Ed and Hank put on their waders and fished, caught nothing but had a blast. We were worn out and in bed by 10:00 pm YT. By the way, the further north we travel, the less dark we have. It was still sunny at 10:00. Our mileage was 24,833.7.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Left the Lake Creek Campground around 8:00 am YT. To date we have driven 4,376 miles. The road was bad from this campground to the AK border. There were parts of the highway where we could only drive 10-12 mph. We crossed over the AK border at 9:30 am AK (we gained one hour). The border crossing was a piece of cake. The rangers are so nice, asked a few questions, and bingo, we were back in the good ol' US of A. Woohoo!! We stopped at the Tetlin Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center. After we got closer to Tok (but still in the middle of nowhere at mm 1300) we got cell service after one week of having none. Woohoo, again!! In Tok, we stopped at Fast Eddies for lunch, sandwiches, with Hank and Winkie. They then took the low road to Valdez and we went north toward Fairbanks. The roads were great after we crossed the border all the way to Fairbanks. We saw a moose with two calves at mm 1367 and got some pictures. We got on Hwy 2 at Delta Junction and stopped at Rika’s Roadhouse (mm 275), built in 1910 for wagon and barge travel. It sits on the Tanana River and is a museum of sorts. Lots of old farm equipment, traps, old outboard motors, etc. We were very excited to get our first glimpse of the AK pipeline here. At this location the pipe looks to be about 4 feet in diameter. We continued up Hwy 2 and arrived in Fairbanks at the River’s Edge Campground with full hook-ups (incl. TV and wi-fi) at 6:30 pm AT. It sits on the Chena River, which is good for fishing, as well as boating and swimming. Arriving, our mileage was 25,202.4. Long day!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

We cleaned the LD up a bit in the morning then took the 2:00 pm Discovery Riverboat tour. We met the tour bus at 1:00 along with several other couples from the campground and lodge. The riverboat offered several demonstrations along the bank as we boated down the Chena River. We saw a float plane take off and land within feet of the riverboat. The captain stopped the riverboat at the Susan Butcher Dog Kennels (she won the Iditarod 4 times with her dog Granite; sadly, in 2006 she lost her life to leukemia at the age of 52) and saw how they train the dogs for a race in the summer, by pulling a four wheeler around instead of a sled. The dogs are beautiful and get so excited; once they are in place they just want to RUN. Just down the river, an Eskimo gave a demonstration of how her people had smoked salmon for centuries. What made these demonstrations so nice was that the people on the banks had microphones which came through on the riverboat’s audio system so there was dialog between the captain and the Eskimos giving these talks. We were able to get off the boat at an authentic looking Indian village with numerous demonstrations of the life and culture of the Eskimos centuries ago, i.e., how animals were trapped and how their fur and meat was used for clothing, housing, and food. There was a caribou exhibit. Do you know the difference in a caribou and a reindeer? Reindeers can fly! The experience was interesting. People from the banks that gave the earlier demonstrations were also at the village to answer any questions. Susan Butcher’s daughter was there to sign her mom’s book appropriately named “Granite”. After a leisurely float trip back we departed the boat, walked through the gift shop, and boarded the bus. We were back around 5:00 pm. We walked over to the campground-owned Chena’s Alaskan Grill for dinner. Nice restaurant but a little pricey. We had a glass of wine and light fare and then back home to our cozy rig to watch a little TV before turning in. What a great day! We may stay here another day, update our journal, talk to the kids while we still have cell service, and leave for Denali on Tuesday. What a great, once in a lifetime experience we are having!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Alaska - Part IV - Dawson Creek, BC to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

Alaska – Part IV – Dawson Creek, BC to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

June 1, 2009
This part of the trip has been very fast moving. We left Dawson Creek and drove to Safeway, bought supplies, took a picture of the world famous Mile O sign, stopped at the liquor store, and stopped in Farmington (just outside Dawson Creek) for gas and propane and started up the Alaska Hwy toward Fort Nelson, BC. We arrived at the West End Campground in Fort Nelson, BC about 7:30 pm PT. It is probably the worst campground we have ever stayed in. The young man that checked us in was drinking and had been for quite some time, maybe days. One men’s toilet worked for the entire campground and it leaked. The saloon was busy, noisy and seemed the only hot spot in the campground. The Milepost boasted free wifi which worked in the three campsites closest to the router, which was located in the office, which was located next to the saloon. Are you getting the picture? Wifi and noise?

June 2, 2009
We left the West End Campground about 8:45 am PT, bought gas, got Canadian money at the bank, and headed toward Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory. We saw a black bear between Fort Nelson and Steamboat Mountain Summit. A must stop is the Tetsa River Services and Campground. It is very unique…a real world primitive frontier wilderness campground and fishing/hunting lodge. We bought cinnamon buns and homemade bread. The lodge/campground is still owned and operated as it was in the 1940s four generations ago but the same family. We saw a moose, passed through Summit Pass the highest elevation on the Alaska Highway, 4250’. Summit Lake is still frozen. We stopped for gas at the Toad River Lodge at mm 404. There we saw two wild horses and a herd of elk. At mm 420 we saw two Stone (or Big Horn-couldn’t tell) sheep and we saw our first road kill which was a porcupine. We saw one caribou at mm 430. We drove past Muncho Lake and saw 3 Stone Sheep at mm 455, a black bear at mm 468, three buffalo at mm 472, and two black bears at mm 477. Also at mm 477 is the Laird Hotsprings. We did not stop, but drove on about 12 miles and saw smoke. It could only mean a forest fire. We got stopped for about an hour waiting for the lead car to escort us through the fire. It was very exciting. The flames could be seen for miles. After we got through, we saw three buffalo at mm 578 and four beautiful wild horses at mm 592. We took lots of pictures. At mm 605 we crossed over into the Yukon Territory and the highway number changed to Hwy 1, YT. We finally arrived at Watson Lake, YT (mm 612) at 5:15 pm PT and stopped at the Campground Services CG, the first CG as you enter town. It was wooded and very nice. There is wifi, and a RV/truck service center. We ran into a couple (Bob and Judy) checking in that we had met earlier at the fire and chatted them up about their 41’ 5th-wheel. Seeing all the wildlife made it a very nice day. Our mileage is 24,320.7.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Alaska - Part III Lake Louise, Alberta to Dawson Creek, BC

Lake Louise, Alberta to Dawson Creek, British Columbia Canada

May 29, 2009
We left Lake Louise at 10:15 am. Our starting mileage was 23,080.2. We headed to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway, route
93. We left the Banff National Park and entered the Jasper National Park for another $18.10 fee. The scenery was just spectacular.

The pictures we took seemed to be enhanced because we are here early enough that the snow is still on the mountains. We saw a big horn sheep in JNP and saw three elk after passing the town of Jasper where we caught the Yellowhead Hwy (Hwy 16). We crossed into British Columbia at 3:00 pm PT (where we changed time zones) and arrived at 5:00 pm in McBride, BC at the Beaver View RV Park. We were greeted by a delightful British woman who told us where to find the bears along our next leg of the trip. We did our laundry while the mosquitoes almost carried us away. Our mileage was 23,324.0.

May 30, 2009
We left our campground at 9:10 am PT and got gas in McBride. We were traveling along the Yellowhead Hwy toward Prince George when we saw two black bears. We also spotted two deer as we were traveling the heavily wooded forest to Prince George. We took route 97 out of Prince George headed toward Dawson Creek where we saw a grizzly, a black bear and a moose. The moose was huge!! Too bad we were by it before we could get a picture. We walked back to find him, but we obviously scared him deeper into the forest. We arrived at the Mile O Campground at Dawson Creek, BC (Good Sams) at 5:45 pm PT. The fee was $25.00 CAD. We signed up to stay two nights. Dawson Creek is at the beginning (mile O) of the Alaskan Highway. We feel that we are just now beginning our journey.

Today it took us 8.5 hours to go 387.6 miles and our mileage when we arrived was 23,713.3. As of today, we have traveled 3,256.3 miles in 10.5 days. We are ready for a respite which we will take tomorrow. We ate in and watched a movie (No TV reception) and went to bed early.

May 31, 2009
The inside RV temperature this morning was 54 degrees. Not too bad, but we may purchase another blanket before we leave here. We slept until 8:30 am this morning, very unusual for us. Staying on the go, go, go has tired us out so we stayed in most of the day today and worked on our journaling, emailing, backed up Ed’s computer and loaded printer software, sent a letter regarding Ed's prep school reunion, mapped out our trip for tomorrow, etc. Afterward, we went out for dinner at a nice steakhouse named Mr. Mike's. We both had sirloin with a cajun creole sauce with shrimp and scallops. It was great. When we returned to the LD, the neighbors invited us over for a glass of wine. Two couples, one was the present president of the Canadian Wildlife Federation and the other a past president. We may see them along the way since they are headed up to Whitehorse too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Alaska - Part II - Great Falls, MT to Lake Louise, Alberta

Alaska - Part II - Great Falls, MT to Lake Louise, Alberta Canada

May 26, 2009

Left Great Falls and crossed into Alberta Canada about 2:00 pm MT. We went west at Macleod onto 785 and went 5 miles to Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump. It was very impressive.

It is a spot where the Indians ran the buffalo off a cliff to kill them in mass for food and clothing. The facility was very well done. We stayed at the Buffalo Plains RV Park about one mile away. Very windy!!

May 27, 2009

Stopped in Nanton Alberta to get supplies and arrived at Lake Louise Trailer Campground at about 5:30 pm MT. We took a short hike beside the Bow River. It was gorgeous, tall pines and boiling river. We heard of a grizzley sighting and hopped to get a glance, but no such luck. We cooked in, watched a movie, and off to bed.

May 28, 2009

We got up to sunshine but very cold weather. The inside RV temperature was 45.9 degrees, chilly to say the least. We mailed a few cards at the Post Office and bought some wifi time, had lunch in the village at Trailhead Café. We headed up to Lake Louise where we took a 2.5 mile hike around the lake. It was beautiful, still icey. Then we stopped in at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise for a glass of wine and bruschetta. The hotel overlooks the lake. We headed back to the village to get on the wifi hotspot to pay mother and dad’s bills as well as ours. We still have to maintain the necessary obligations even on vacation!!! Then back to the campground for dinner and a movie. So far so good...and the water pump is humming away!!! YEAH!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Alaska - Part 1 - Birmingham, AL to Great Falls, MT

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
We left home today at 2:40 pm CT. The mileage on our Lazy Daze was 20,457. We left Birmingham on Hwy 78 toward Tupelo and crossed the MS line at 4:40 pm CT. We arrived at Wall Doxey SP at 6:30 pm. We traveled 211 miles today.

Thursday, May 21, 2009
Still driving Hwy 78 we got through Memphis but there was LOTS of traffic and it was very slow. St. Louis traffic was no better. We traveled the beltway, I-270, thinking it would be less traffic, but it wasn’t. We traveled I-270 to I-70. We took I-70 to exit 15b at Independence, MO, just south of Kansas City, where we stayed overnight on Hwy 291 at Walmart/Sams. We arrived at 6:16 pm. We were so tired. We had driven 561 miles which took 11 hours. Today we averaged 55.31 miles per hour and about 9.4 miles per gallon.

Friday, May 22, 2009
Shopped at Sams and Walmart then got gas at Sams before leaving at 10:30 am. We got on Hwy 291 N to I-435 to I-29 N (beltway around Kansas City). We stopped in Souix City, IA for gas then drove on to Souix Falls, SD where we got on I-90 W. We stopped for the night in Salem, SD, about 30 miles west of Souix Falls at the Camp America CG right off I-90 at mm 364. We arrived at 6:15 pm. We had driven 414.3 miles today in 7.75 hours. The road was mostly flat so we got 9.72 miles per gallon. We have driven 1,187 miles since we left home Wednesday at 2:40 pm.

Saturday, May 23, 2009
We woke up to rain this morning. We left the campsite at 9:45 PM. We discovered there was a Cabelas at mm 332 so we headed out and bought a few items. The time changed to Mountain Time along I-90 between Salem and Kodaka, SD. The rain stopped but it was still overcast. This is where we entered the Badlands National Park. It was 3:00 pm MT. It took about an hour to drive through the smaller loop but it was amazing.
We stopped in Rapid City at the LaCross St Exit 57 to find the Walmart to stay the night.

Sunday, May 24, 2009
We woke up to no water today. The fresh water tank was 1/3 of the way full, but the pump wasn’t working at all. We went back a few exits where we had seen a flying J and filled up the gas tank and took showers. Taking a shower at a truck stop is quite an experience and expensive $8.50 ea. Along I-90 at mm32 is Sturgis, SD, the motorcycle capital of the world. We stopped and took pictures at how dead it was without all those bikes, but could imagine how crazy it would be with 100,000 bikes driving through that little town. The western side of SD is much prettier than the eastern side green, hilly and lots of trees. We crossed into WY at 10:45 am MT. We stopped at mm 205 at the Buffalo Jump exit to inquire, but Buffalo Jump is closed until June 1 so we will see that on the next trip. The rain picked up as we were on our way. We just kept driving on I-90 and crossed into MT at 2:15 pm MT. We felt like we were home. This side of the state is definitely prairie, but it is very pretty. It’s green, flat, with lots of sagebrush growing and cattle and horses grazing. We feel fortunate to occasionally see small herds of antelope, our favorite animal. They have patches of white that makes them easy to spot. We will be staying at the Walmart in Billings. We know we can always stay at a Walmart parking lot for an overnight, usually along with many other RVers. Last night there were about 10-12 RVs and 18 wheelers. We always check our list off the Walmart website to make sure they allow overnight parking. Without any facilities, you can see how important it is to keep your water pump running. We will have no water tonight, but are hoping to get it fixed in Billings or we will drive on to Great Falls to get it fixed at one of their RV Service Centers. We’re here in Billings at Costco at 4:10 pm MT. Woohoo!! Gas is $2.40 a gallon. Tomorrow is Memorial Day so no RV Service Centers will be open.

Monday, May 25, 2009
Today we had lunch with Harry and Mary Gottwals and were then on to Great Falls. Coming across Hwy 87 was absolutely beautiful and the weather was sunny and warm. We arrived at 7:45 pm at the Great Falls Walmart. We are hoping that one of the two RV Service Centers here in town will be able to accommodate us tomorrow to get our water pump working!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

2009 A Month in FL and LA

A Month in Florida and Louisiana
February 28 through March 29, 2009

We were unsure if we would get to make this trip because mom went into the hospital on Thurs, Feb 26 with a UTI. While I spent time at the hospital, Ed had the oil changed and filled up with gas at Costco ($1.579/gal) and did most of the work packing the RV for the trip. I spent the night with mother Thurs night and she was much better Fri morning. She was still in the hospital on Sat and due to be released on Sun. On Sun, 2 to 4 inches of snow was predicted so we knew if we were going, we would need to get on the road before the snow hit. We left on Saturday February 28th for our month long trip to Florida and Louisiana. We checked in frequently with mother and dad to make sure she was okay. The only hiccup was that dad accidentally ran over Doxie while we were at Hanna Park. It was sad. Mother cried for days. Their neighbors, Jackie Yarbrough and Judy Hayes, buried Doxie in their “dog cemetery”.

Saturday, Feb 28 – 6:30 PM
We left home about 6:30 PM after I had been to the hospital to sit with mother while dad attended his sister's (Eva) funeral. We pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot about 9:00 in Troy, AL and went to bed about 10:00 PM. At 3:00 AM there was a banging on the door. We were asked to leave the lot by one of the managers because this particular Wal-Mart did not allow overnight parking. There were two RVs and two Wal-Mart 18 wheelers that had to move. The temps were in the 30s with lots of wind.

Sunday, March 1 – 3:00 AM.
We decided to just keep driving down to Winter Garden. We stopped for breakfast around 8:00 AM at a Flying J. We arrived in Winter Garden about 1:00 PM CT after driving about 600 miles. Our mileage was 17,888. We had reservations at the Stage Stop Campground on Colonial Drive in Winter Garden. Still cold outside with high winds.

Monday, March 2 – 9:00 AM
Just down the street from Stage Stop CG was the Leisure Time RV. We had reservations this morning to have them check our awning. While we there we had them seal our roof, and inspect our tires. We found that the tire we replaced in Birmingham (it had a big split in it) was the wrong weight rating (D instead of E). On top of that, we inflated it way above what it should have had in it. We were at Leisure Time RV from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM. The temps are still in the 50s with high 30s at night.

Tuesday, March 3
Because all the tires had small cracks (dry rot), some worse than others, we had 6 new tires put on the rig to the tune of $1600+. We only had 17,888 miles on the tires, but didn’t want to take any chances since we are going to try to go to Alaska this summer. We sure have learned a lot about tires and how to care for them. We got back to the RV about 4:00 PM and decided to spend another night at the Stage Stop Campground. Ed grilled salmon for dinner. Mmm.

Wednesday, March 4
Today, we took our time getting up, checked email, looked over the maps, made reservations for campgrounds, showered, etc. We left the campground around 12:30 PM heading toward the Melbourne area. We arrived in Indian Harbour Beach, FL at the Ocean View RV and Motor Home Park about 3:30 PM, after driving about 110 miles. Mike, the owner, took good care of us. We relaxed afterward with our new tires and sealed roof. Ed opened the awning and enjoyed his morning reading. The high temperature today was about 65 and sunny, with a cool wind—much nicer than the past week.

Thursday, March 5
We got up around 8:00 AM, took showers, headed up and down SR 1 and then up and down 1A1 (the beach road) just to see what the area was like. We stopped in Melbourne and bought sunglasses and got a recommendation for lunch. We ate at a very nice, casual restaurant named Squid Lips. We had grouper and Maui Maui sandwiches. It was really good. We stopped at Winn Dixie for some food items. We headed back to the RV, watched some TV, and then made dinner: Salmon (again) over orzo from Frank Stitt’s new cookbook. After dinner we talked to the kids and I checked email while Ed read. It was a very relaxing day. The weather was wonderful. The temperature was around 70. We walked down to the beach some people were in the ocean others laying out in the swim suits, but it was just a little too breezy for us.

Friday, March 6
Mike, the owner of the campground, a very nice guy recommended Grills just north of Cocoa Beach, maybe Cape Canaveral for lunch. It was the cutest thing that Mike has set up for people to do laundry at the campsite. People, mostly residents, sign up for a certain time to use the two washers and one dryer. We signed up for 2:30AM and barely made it back from lunch to the campsite by then. We did our laundry and had Lean Cuisine for dinner.

Saturday, March 7
Got up early to head down to West Palm Beach to meet Linzy and Rohit for the day. The drive was at least 2-1/2 hours from Melbourne. We met them at 10:30AM at the West Palm Zoo. It was so good to see Linzy and Rohit and play with little Maia. She is 11 months old now and oh, so cute! We left the zoo around lunch time and drove to a very nice restaurant named Charley’s Crab Palm Beach on South Ocean Blvd. The food was great. We had a window view and it was right across the street from the beach. After finishing our lunch we walked over to the beach. It was Anamaia’s first time to play in the sand. She ate it. It was a great day, beautiful sunny weather, high around 80. We left them about 3:00 PM and drove back to Melbourne to get ready to pull out and head to Glenn and Judy’s tomorrow. We were both tired and went right to sleep.

Sunday, March 8
We left Indian Harbour Beach in Melbourne about 10:00 AM headed to the Martins. It took longer to get there than we thought, lots of traffic. We got there about noon. Judy is six weeks out from lung surgery. She is still weak. Glenn put steaks and baked potato on the grill. It was great. We had a good visit with them.

Monday, March 9
Glenn came knocking on the door of the rig about 6:30 AM. He and Ed had planned to take the canoe out and do some fishing. Unfortunately, they didn’t catch anything but had a good time anyway. They got home in time for lunch. While they were gone I cleaned the RV, did some laundry, and visited with Judy. Glenn offered to make name badges for our Lazy Daze get together so we headed over to his UPS store in New Smyrna Beach. Glenn was having some employee problems. We stopped to buy shrimp and Glenn made Shrimp Scampi for dinner. It was so tasty.

Tuesday, March 10
Glenn and Judy had to leave for Judy’s doctor’s appointment around 1:00 PM so we all left at the same time. Ed and I headed to Jacksonville for the 2009 SELD GTG at Hanna Park. The park is a city park and lovely. It has nice bike trails, hiking trails, a nice secluded beach, a water park for the kids, and a lake to canoe on. As soon as we got there, before we had a chance to get into our site, there were quite a few people that came over to greet us. They were so nice. After visiting for a while, we got set up and had a relaxing evening before most got there. This is our first get together with other LD owners and Ed and I were very excited about the networking possibilities.

Wednesday, March 11
Hanna Park, Jacksonville, FL
Today is the day that the get together started. There was an ice cream social so we met many other LD owners. There were a total of 27 rigs that participated in the GTG. It seems that I was the only one with a camera taking pictures so I become the self-appointed official photographer for the GTG. It was a good way for us newbies to put names with faces.

Thursday, March 12
Pot luck brunch 9:30 AM
Biked around the lake after lunch
Dinner Outing at the Harvest Restaurant 5:30 PM

Friday, March 13
Pancake Breakfast 8:30 PM
Dairy Queen with Joe and Clara 3:00 PM
Pot luck dinner 6:30 PM

Saturday, March 14
We finally got a place to stay on the panhandle at Grayton Beach State Park. We will be there next week with Tracy, Kaeden, Amy, and Bear. There was one cancellation on their website---and we got it!!
Open House 1-3
Tech-talk 2:30
Pizza 6:30
Silent auction after dinner
Campfire at Lou and Pam’s around dark

Sunday, March 15
Most people left today. Only eight of us stayed an extra day. Ed and I rode our bikes quite a bit. The highlight was the Shuttle Discovery’s launch that evening. We didn’t know if we would be able to see it very well. Cape Kennedy is about 150 miles south from where we were located in Jacksonville. We all congregated on the beach there at Hanna Park and waited. One of the people on the beach was on the phone with a daughter so we knew when it launched, but we did not see it for maybe 30 seconds. Then we were amazed at how well we could see it. At first it was a small white dot low in the sky, then it began leaving an orange tail. We could faintly hear it. After several minutes, the boosters fell off. I took pictures and Ed took a video. It was our first experience to see a launch – and it was awesome.

Monday, March 16 through Saturday, March 21
Spring Break, Grayton Beach State Park, Florida
Monday we left Hanna Park headed toward Grayton Beach State Park in the panhandle to spend the next few days with Tracy, Amy, Kaeden and Bear. It was Spring Break for them. About ½ way over, we decided to stay in a Wal-Mart. Ed called ahead and they said that camping in the parking lot was a gray area. They wouldn’t give us the okay, but told us they wouldn’t kick us out either. So we took a chance and it worked out fine, even had satellite reception. Grayton Beach State Park is located just outside Seaside and is very reasonable at $19 per night. (If we had a FL residence, we could have got the site for ½ price.) There are lots of places to bike ride, a nice beach, and a lake with a place to put in the canoe. The public restrooms were not heated, but had showers, no laundry. We could not have asked for more beautiful weather. It was sunny and the temperatures were in the 70s every day. We spent all our time during the day on the beach. The water was very cold, but that didn’t deter the boys from jumping right in. On Thursday night, we took the boys over to the campground (the jungle with alligators) and they had a great time exploring. Amy and Tracy showered and met us there for dinner, then Tracy was off to a meeting. After we took Amy and the boys back to the condo, we got a call that Tracy had had an accident in Amy’s car. She had rear-ended another car that rear-ended another car-all SUVs. It put quite the damper on the trip for both Tracy and Amy. (We didn’t know it at the time, but the Jeep was totaled and the SUV in front of Tracy was also totaled.) Each evening we tried to get the boys to bed at or around 8:00, but Kaeden got an earache that night so Ed and I made a long trek to Wal-Mart in Destin (20 miles away). We bought earache meds and some ear plug putty. It was midnight before we got back and 1:00 before we got into bed, but the OTC meds seemed to help him so it was worth the trip. (What a day!!) Kaeden used the ear plug putty the whole next day and didn’t complain. Of course Bear had to have some too. We cooked each evening except Friday night when we took our beach pictures, we went to the Seagrove Market for dinner. We always get a grouper sandwich there, but Amy had a great looking hamburger. We had planned to head out on Saturday for Tickfaw State Park to meet Don and Dorothy Malpas, but had to make a detour to Birmingham to drop everyone off. As soon as we arrived in Birmingham, we dumped the beach stuff and were on the road again (in just over an hour) headed to Louisiana.

Saturday, March 21 through Friday, March 27
Tickfaw State Park, Springfield, LA
Of course we were very tired after all that driving (6.5 hours from Seaside to Birmingham—longest it has ever taken!) so as we approached Tuscaloosa we began looking for a place to park the LD for the night. It was around 8:00 PM by then. After about 45 minutes in Tuscaloosa (no overnight camping at the Cracker Barrel and couldn’t find the Wal-Mart) and getting caught in some pretty tight turn around spots, we decided to drive a little further down I-59. As we got very close to the Alabama/Mississippi line, we spotted a rest area that had overnight security. It worked out fine, but the trucks were a bit noisy. We arrived on Sunday at Tickfaw State Park around 5:00 PM. Don and Dorothy had been there most of the day and had made a spaghetti so we didn’t have to cook. It was great! We decided that the weather might not be great later in the week so on Monday we took their kayaks and our canoe to the launch area and had a nice leisurely trip up the Tickfaw River. It was very swampy and we imagined snakes in the trees and alligators on the banks even though we didn’t see any. We floated for about two hours. The weather was sunny and in the high 70s. The evenings were cooler. The bugs bothered Dorothy and me but not the guys too much. Ed did end up with a “patch” of bug bites on the back of one of his legs. After lunch on Monday, we washed the bugs off the front of the LD with wet dryer sheets which were recommended at the Hanna Park tech-talk. They worked great!! While we were there, Don helped Ed (and me) put up the rope lights in the lounge area. The finished product was very well worth the blood sweat and tears!! The lights are under the valance and give ambiance to the evenings. On Wednesday we drove into Baton Rouge and toured the present capital building and the Old State House, before having dinner at Mike Anderson’s Restaurant. We were right on time. It opened at 5 PM and we were there at 10 til. It belongs to the dad of one of Don’s second cousin-in-laws. It was wonderful creole/cajun food. Ed, Don and I had the Guittreau and Dorothy had Juliet Rouge, which was a bit lighter in taste, but both had a sauce with mushrooms and popcorn shrimp over a piece of white fish. It was a lot of food and reasonable for the quality and service. Wednesday and Thursday nights it stormed all night so we didn’t get much sleep thinking we were going to float away in the swamp water of the bayou. Thursday was a rather boring day, it rained all day long, (I worked on the SELD database and Ed read). Our friends came over and shared dinner with us. Ed grilled lemon pepper chicken (in the rain), and I made broccoli (with some yucky cheese sauce) and Dorothy made creamed potatoes. I made brownies earlier in the day and Dorothy brought ice cream and Hershey’s syrup. A marriage made in heaven!! We set our table up in the lounge and with the new rope lights, it was very comfortable. Friday morning around 9:00 AM, we said good-bye and headed for Birmingham. While we were with Don and Dorothy, we compared our rig to theirs and picked Don’s brain for everything technical that they had on board. He has a nice set-up to get internet with a router, a booster and an outside antenna. He said he would help us get one hooked up before we got to Alaska this summer. Since the boy’s soccer games were cancelled (because of rain) this week-end, we took our time getting home.

Friday March 27 through Sunday, March 29
Oak Mountain State Park

We knew our friends Martha and Jim Berger were camping at Oak Mountain S.P. so we called to find out how long they would be there. We decided to join them for our last hoorah!! We got a site (A-17) where we could get a clear southern sky so we could get satellite TV. It was so good to visit with them. We spent most of the week-end helping them get more acquainted with their Fleetwood Discovery A-class and talking 'camping'. They are excited about using their RV. Saturday afternoon, their son and his family joined us for dinner. Sunday morning, we began getting ready to depart. We made sure Martha and Jim knew how to set up their satellite, empty their tanks, etc. It was a great ending to our one-month-out!!