Summary

September 17, 2012

So, what is it like to spend 3 months in a small RV with your spouse 24/7?

DIFFICULT!  It’s a miracle we are still speaking to one another.  This does not apply to only spouses as I think it would be extremely hard on anyone, be it best friend, sibling or relative.  I’ve met many travelers on my journey and most of them seem to be enjoying this nomadic way of life, it is just not for me.

Most of our disagreements were about where to stay (Dick always wants a view), which way to turn, and basically just “getting out of the way.”  Another dispute; I like the windows open for fresh air at night, Dick likes them closed.

I give myself a pat on the back for hanging in for the duration.  Oft times I would shout at the RV “I hate you!”  Especially when something mechanical came up that I wasn’t able to figure out.  I was so frustrated, especially when Dick asked me to bring him “that thing over there.”  What thing, over where?

Many people have asked, “would you do it again?”  OF COURSE!  The beauty that I witnessed everyday is something I shall never forget. Those majestic mountains (my favorites), emerald lakes, flowing rivers, impressive glaciers, meandering streams, crystal clear creeks and those magnificent animals!

In one of my past blogs I said it was the best of times, it was the worst of times; well the best of times won out in the end.  Without Dick sharing his bucket list trip with me, I would never have had the opportunity to witness such splendor, and for that I will always be thankful. 

I learned to set up the table, the bed and the navigation system.  I learned to drive an RV and know what a transmission looks like.  I learned to plug in specific outlets, start a campfire and master the art of map reading.  I learned about various plants and the diversity of the tundra.  Beside the experience in Alaska and Canada, I also was privileged to view the beauty of some other states and immerse myself in a large amount of history while visiting Mount Rushmore, the Battle of Big Hole, National Parks, and  dozens of museums.

I have also discovered how to simplify and go back to basics.   No make-up, no hair cuts, no fancy wardrobe, no dining out and more importantly, just being who I am and to enjoy life to the fullest.

Conclusion

I promised you a summary of what it was like for me being on the road in a small RV with my spouse for 4 months.  It will be forthcoming as I am still settling into a more non adventurous life.

I will be posting within the week.    I appreciate all of your comments and hope by reading my blogs you could live, at least vicariously in my shoes.

The Drama Continues

September 6, 2012

I know I was not going to blog until I reached Santa Barbara but the adventure is not quite over.

After acquiring new brakes for the RV in Bend, Oregon we are now on our way to Sacramento for new tires.  Dick did some research and found a dealer that special ordered them from Texas so they would be available upon our arrival.

In 95 degrees temperature and 7 ½ hours later we are at Radial Tires.  It is 5:15 p.m. and Randy (the owner) promises to stay open until we arrive. Guess what?  The tires are here, but they are not the right size!  Not only that, the transmission seems to be slipping!

Randy is gone for the day, so Carl a young assistant is furiously calling dealers in the area to find the proper sized tires.  Carl is clean- shaven, and when he removes his cap, I notice perspiration dripping from his forehead and in his hair, which he wears in a short crew cut.  He removes his wire-rimmed glasses and wipes the sweat off his face with a nearby cloth.

Since the tires on our vehicle are no longer made, Carl finds a dealer in Reno that can send a set that would fit without too much of a problem, but they wont arrive until Monday.  We have no choice but to wait.  On a positive note, this gives us an opportunity to spend more time with Susan, Mark and Emily.

On our drive to Susan’s, Dick receives a call from Carl.  “I found a dealer in Sacramento”, he exclaims.  “Come back tomorrow around 10 a.m. and we can install them at that time.”

Great news as we arrive in Roseville where Susan, Mark, Emily (and Maya their black Labrador) greet us at the doorstep.  It is only fitting that we sleep here overnight as this was our first stop when we left Santa Barbara to begin our journey.

Oh, and by the way, the transmission problem turned out to be temporary as it is now back in the correct gear and working perfectly!

Full circle

         September 3, 2012

Before leaving for Bend, Dena insists on lunch at an all you can eat Chinese buffet.   The name of the restaurant is “The Four Seasons and there is everything imaginable to sate the appetite. This has been one of my most difficult decisions on the trip; which delectable items to choose from. There are trays everywhere you turn; a true gourmand’s dream.

Oh my gosh. My stomach is so full I feel like I’ve eaten enough food to last me through the four seasons!  Now I know how the restaurant acquired its name.

We say our good-byes to Dena and plan to see her in early December when she  visits her daughter in Santa Barbara.

For the next 8 hours we drive straight through to Bend.  The route we choose, takes us through the popular skiing resort of Mt. Hood and I am pleased at the beauty along the highway.  Tall pine trees in a woodsy setting and as the RV makes its assent, I’m  greeted with a vista of lakes and mountains.

It is 8:45 when we pull into the driveway of the Peters’ home and Olivia and Rafael are waiting to welcome us with open arms!  We have now come full circle.

I will not be posting any more blogs until we arrive home.  At that time I plan to write an epilogue of my adventures,  going into detail of what this journey has meant to me.

As I close my eyes and fall into a deep sleep, I can’t help but think how swiftly these months flew by and how important it is to savor every moment of each day.

Back in the USA

September 2, 2012

Our groceries are sparse and breakfast consists of a Fiber One Bar and a cup of instant coffee.  Dick stops to fill the RV’s belly with gas ($104!) and we continue our goal to the US/Canada Border.

The day is pleasant with an abundance of sunlight.   Although it is a holiday weekend (Labor Day),  there is little traffic.

The landscape is changing with each passing mile.  Glaciers and mountain ranges are replaced with farmlands and pastures.  Moose, caribou and elk are exchanged for horses, goats and cattle.

Just when I think my camera can take a respite, we come across the most magnificent canyon!   The Fraser valley runs along the roaring Fraser River.  The road is a challenge of downhill twisting and zigzagging between sheer cliffs.  I hold on tight as Dick snakes around each bend, I trying hard to capture a photo of the rapids in the gorge below using only one hand.

An area named “Hell’s Gate” is just ahead, aptly named to give you a rush.  It is the Old Gold Rush Trail and on this stretch of highway there are 7 mountain tunnels  that vehicles must pass through.  Quite a thrilling experience!

At 3:30 p.m. we cross the border and into Washington.  The traffic and all the people is a shock to my system.   I’m so use to the wildness and vast expanses and hope I can acclimate once I’m home.

Our friend Dena lives in Anacortes and we make arrangements to stay overnight with her.  Her home is lovely,  and her windows provide us with a generous view of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands.  Warm enough to eat outdoors, we enjoy a tasty meal of chicken, rice, sautéed vegetables and incredibly  sweet corn on the cob.  Dena is 86 years old, but her energy and vivacity are of a much younger woman.  She has dropped 15 pounds since I’ve last seen her.  Her body is lost in a dark green wool sweater and black, baggy sweat pants.    Her gray hair is cut short, and her glasses are much too big for her now thin face.  She tells us of her two books in progress, one her memoirs, the other on the holocaust, and she is still busy writing her feature for the local newspaperDear Dena is an advice column similar to Dear Abby except Dena offers advice by analyzing handwriting and helping people with career and other relevant decisions.

After some delightful conversation, I wander off to bed and leave Dena and Dick chatting away in the living room area.  Within minutes, Dena falls asleep watching television, with her favorite blanket wrapped tightly around her tiny frame.

The Long and Winding Road

September 1, 2012

Our schedule driving home seems pretty consistent.  Start out at 8 a.m. and drive until 7 p.m. stopping only for lunch or a view point we missed earlier in the trip.

This morning it is a stop at Hudson’s Hope where we browse the museum, buy a magnet and continue on toward Chetwynd.  This city is called The Chainsaw Carving Capital and every year in June, the town holds an International Chainsaw Carving Championship.  There are at least 15 of these sculptures in front of the Visitor Center of beautifully carved mermaids, Indians, animals and other various subjects.

The remaining part of the day is composed of driving while listening to an amusing audio tape by Janet Evanovich.  Not much else to report as our journey is coming to an end.  I am looking forward to Santa Barbara, family and good friends.

At 7 p.m. we pull into the Mc Neese  Lake Campground, eat dinner and prepare for bed.   I have to mention that Dick & I have been blessed with an  opportunity to view this incredible country; what a privilege.  I must remember to thank Dick for giving me the chance to accompany him on “his bucket list”, and to appreciate all the beauty the world has to offer.

The Long and Winding Road, a song by the Beatles, sums up my feelings as I look forward to my return. I’ve taken the liberty (apologies to the Beatles) to alter two words and fill in my own (in italics) as I head home to Santa Barbara.

The long and winding road

That leads to your (my) door

Will never disappear

I’ve seen that road before

It always leads me here

Leads me to your (my) door.

 

Bison, Hot Springs and Lakes

August 31, 2012

This morning I decide to take advantage of the Downtown RV Campground since the bathrooms here are the cleanest I’ve seen in 3 months!   As I brush my teeth over the spotless porcelain sink, “Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers and “Splish Splash I was Taking a Bath” by Bobby Darin are filling the air with piped in music. The walls are painted a cobalt blue with white borders.  I feel heat radiating from the walls and I love it as it is 42 degrees outside.  Even the laundromat, where I  washed the Nyquil-stained duvet last night, is spotless.  A television was playing and I watched Mitt Romney accept the nomination for President of the United States at the GOP  National Convention.  (No comment.)

It is a clear and sunny last day in August, but 5 miles out on the highway, the fog begins to roll in.  My Milepost Book tells us to watch for Wood Bison along the road, and sure enough, looming out of the thick fog is an enormous bison right next to the highway!  Dick pulls over (but not too close) and I snap a great photo.  About ¼ mile down the road, we see the most gruesome site; something out of a Stephen King novel.   In the eeriness of the mist, off the roadway, there sit a murder of crows feasting on 4 dead bison!  Three of the creatures are still covered with hides, but one is opened up, all the innards exposed.    I take 2 photos, but will not post them at this time.  I believe it is the family of the big male we saw just prior to this.  It is necessary to keep a watchful eye out for these beasts as they are all up and down the highway, eating in the grassy areas.  I’m sure the lifeless ones we observed were hit by cars.

The fog finally lifts and we are treated once again by a bountiful of incredible views.  Dick is kvelling (a Yiddish word for beaming or taking pleasure in) and expresses himself verbally.  I, on the other hand, am taciturn and absorb all the beauty like a sponge, keeping it inward and to myself.

Our choice of music this morning  is a CD of Luciano Pavarotti; what a voice!

The Liard Hot springs is approaching and we remember a fellow at the gas station telling us it is one of his favorite places, so why not?  We exit the highway and drive down a nicely paved road.  This area also serves as a campground.  Dick is so excited and hurriedly throws off his clothes and dons his black trunks.  I am indecisive and really don’t want to bother getting undressed and into my bathing suit, but Dick encourages me.  A 10 minute stride takes us to a most unexpected surprise.  The hot springs are set in a forest of trees.  There is a changing room as well as bathrooms.  Oh my gosh!  The water is delightful.  Temperature is about 108 degrees and it takes some time submerging ourselves.  There are 2 pools, one a bit cooler for children.  A couple begin conversing with us.  The man, in his 60’s, with white hair and a trim physique works in the oil industry.  He and his wife, Nola live in St. John, B.C. and come here often to relax and rejuvenate.  Both wear eyeglasses and I’m curious as to why the lenses don’t steam up. The bottom of the pool is covered with rocks and somewhat slippery and there is a spot around the bend that is really HOT!  If you can make it over, you place a pebble in a pile to show your achievement.  I try as I love the hot water, but it is scalding, and by now I’m feeling light-headed so I chicken out.  All in all it is a fantastic experience and I’m so glad Dick talked me into this.

We continue on the Alaska Highway to Muncho Lake where Dick pulls over to a viewpoint and we eat lunch.  The turquoise colored lake is the biggest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies and the color is breathtaking.

Our destination today is Fort. Nelson but it is only 4:30 and we decide to continue driving for another 2 ½ hours.  Finishing an audio tape, “The House”  by Danielle Steele (I’ve never read any of her novels and now I know why),  we are now listening to another tape by Janet Evanovich called “Ten Big Ones.”

On this part of the Alaska highway we pass through British Columbia and Canada 6 times.  At last we find a place to stay as it is now 7:30 and becoming dark so much earlier than at the start of this trip.  The Pink Mountain RV Campground is where we call it a day.

It has been almost 4 months in our 22.5 ft. home and Dick and I are still speaking to one another!   I’ll write more about this in a future blog.

 

 

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