Return to the Yukon

August 30, 2012

From the Lake Creek Yukon Campground we drive 4 hours before entering White Horse.  This is the city where we lost our reverse and stayed for a week in July waiting for a part.   Dick wants to stop by the auto repair shop to say hello to the 2 mechanics that originally diagnosed our problem.  They are both surprised and excited to see us and happy to hear that we are back on the road with a functioning vehicle.

This whole day is déjà vu for me as I remember all these familiar streets and stores as if it were yesterday.  A bright sunny day awaits and Dick wants to take advantage of it and get on the road, planning to reach Watson Lake by 7 P.M. which is another 4 ½ from here.

This is the same route we took on our way over, so there is nothing that we haven’t seen before.  No animal sightings today, other than a bald eagle which we happen to spot when we were in White Horse on Fish Lake Rd.  The same area where we saw the immature bald eagle in July.  Could it be the same one?

At 7 P.M.( just as Dick predicts)Watson Lake comes into view.  The Downtown RV Park is great as it has Wi-Fi, full hook-ups and within walking distance of the lake.  But the best part; the T.V. works in our RV and Dick is now involved with Thursday Night Football!  Seahawks VS Raiders. Also, we can catch up on national news.

One incident.  While driving on an extremely bumpy road, Dick’s carton of medical supplies tips over onto our unmade made.  I don’t find out the damage until we arrive at our campground.  There is a bottle of Dayquil that opened up and the sticky orange fluid spilled on our recently washed white cotton duvet!

Luckily, there is a Laundromat here and the pleasant owner exchanges my quarters for “loonies” (Canadian dollars).  I find it curious that the owner of the RV park, is from Scotland, works in the Yukon Territories and is leaving in 5 weeks for his home near Palm Springs, CA.

We are looking forward to our drive tomorrow as there will be  unexplored roads and new adventures.

Good-bye Alaska

August 29, 2012

A phone call at 7 A.M. wakes us from a deep sleep.  It is the guy from Midas Muffler telling us he found the part for our brakes; $700!  With all the monies going towards this vehicle as of late, our answer is “no thanks.”

After a final check of our transmission at B & B Auto, we are free to move on!  It is a spectacular day.  Blue skies and sunlight so dazzling we need sunglasses to protect our eyes.

The day does not disappoint.  There are stunning vistas in each and every direction.  Alaska was, and still is, one of my  top 3 places I have visited in the world.  In my opinion, it is nature at its best, and oh so pristine.

It is a day of driving and I even take my turn at the wheel.  Having left Anchorage at 9 A.M this morning, we finally pull into the Lakeview Campground at 7:30 P.M.  Crossing over into Canada, we set our clocks ahead one hour, so we are now on Pacific time, same as California.

I am in bed reading at 10:30 P.M. and fall asleep shorty after.  I awake 2 hours later, but Dick is not by my side.  He is sitting outside under a full moon, the campfire dying out hours ago.  I call to him and finally he drags himself into the RV.  I think he is sad that our journey is coming to an end.

I think the most frustrating thing on the trip is Dick’s inability to hear (or listen?) to me.  His hearing is becoming worse each day and my voice is not very loud, making for a difficult combination.  At times I have to yell at him as I read from the Milepost.  I do not like to turn and face him when I speak because that entails taking my eyes off the road and I am not comfortable with Dick’s driving.  He becomes distracted easily and turns his head in various directions while looking for animals and other scenic temptations.

Matanuska glacier

Return to Anchorage

August 28, 2012

Yippee!  We now have a new transmission after waiting 3 weeks (and 2 days) to install.  We bid farewell to Amy and her mom, Kathy and are now heading over to Midas Muffler to have a brake inspection.  Somehow my blog has turned into an auto journal.  We hear the same story here everywhere; ‘don’t have this ites in stock and need to call around.”

It is now 3 p.m. and since we have heard nothing., I tell the pimply faced kid in the red shirt and blue uniform that we can wait no longer.  I’ve spent so much time in Anchorage, I feel like a local.

Once downtown, we return to the Visitor Center and watch the same 2 short films which we had seen 3 weeks ago.  The weather today is excellent and we stroll along the main street.  Most of the attractions we’ve already seen, other than a film regarding the 9.2  Good Friday Earthquake that caused incredible damage to many parts of Alaska in 1964.  The brochure states  you actually feel the trembling and shaking of the quake from your seats in the theater, but the cost is $1o per person and I have already experienced this nerve wracking sensation without having to pay, so we continue on.

Time to find a campground.  The Ship Creek RV Park is close to downtown and we want to return to the auto shop early in the morning for a final transmission check-up before we start our journey home.

After securing a spot, Dick wants to test the RV on the highway, a recommendation by 3 mechanics back home.  All seems to be okay, and even the reverse is working!

Not too much else going on, so I suspect my writing to be a bit more mundane, especially since we are taking the same roads back.  Only the continual beauty of the glaciers, mountains, rivers, lakes and all those incredible animals will continue to surround us as we make our way back to the lower 48.

Some tidbits from the home front that make us proud:

Emily, our 8 year old granddaughter received her grades from the state.  She scored high marks in both English & math.

Michael, our oldest son (53 on Sept. 11)who resides in Bend, OR. came in first in his age group (52-54) in one of the many bicycle races in which he competes.  He placed 4thoverall in a race with over 200 participants!!!  He is amazing.

I appreciate all the comments and emails from my friends and family.  Thank you for staying in touch.

Waiting

August 27, 2012

It is 6:45 A.M. and Dick takes off from the Golden Nugget Campground on our way to the B & B auto Repair.  The shop doesn’t open until 8 A.M. but Dick wants to be there when the workers arrive.

I am still in bed and under the covers when Dick thoughtfully pulls up to a Starbucks.  I grope for my clothes in the dark, get dressed and lazily stroll into the coffee shop.

Once at the auto shop, Bobby, a young mechanic greets us and drives the RV into the work area.  He is wearing dark blue overalls with his name embroidered on his pocket.  His co-worker drives us to a nearby restaurant (it’s raining) and Dick & I order breakfast.  There is Internet access and Dick plugs in his laptop so he can catch up on some of our business issues in Santa Barbara.

After an hour of sitting, I become antsy.  Luckily the rain has stopped, giving me an opportunity for some much needed exercise.  I walk back to the repair shop to check on the status of the RV and am told by Amy, the blond with that ever so cheery voice “ it is going to take all day and perhaps into tomorrow.”

So, what does one do with 8 hours in an unfamiliar city and no transportation?  I wander back to the restaurant to find Dick still typing away and preoccupied.  “I’m told there is a mall not too far away”, I inform Dick. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours.”

The air is crisp and cool and the mountains rising in the distance; glorious!  I browse through a thrift shop on the way over and once at the mall I look through the different stores.  I hate shopping so I don’t even bother to enter.  There is a cinema located in the center but the movies showing don’t interest me.  Across the street is a bakery, so I spend the next hour reading my book over coffee and a blueberry scone.

My iPhone rings at 3 P.M. and it is Dick. I return to the shop and we are told that the transmission work is not complete.  Hotels here are pricey, especially during the summer and Amy allows us to park our van on the premises and we can sleep here overnight.

B & B is a family owned business and we have met Amy’s mother and father who also work at the shop.  We are now good friends with these people and can laugh about an incident that occurred earlier this morning.  One of the mechanics found a leak in the sewage drain pipe of the RV and when he attempted to fix it, our waste spilled out onto their floor.  What a stink!  It took them some time to clean it up and then humorously said “ just another Monday.”

We decide to eat dinner in the RV and save some money by not dining out again.  Besides, there is an outlet  on the property where we can hook up our electric, so what else could we ask for?

“Get in the Hole”

“Get in the hole!”   To most golfing fans, this phrase is familiar, especially during a PGA golf tournament when Tiger woods is competing.  But whenever I hear this, I will always be reminded of my days (and nights) in the RV.  What does this have to do with me and this journey?  I’ll explain.

Since the space in the RV is so tiny, and we seem to get in each other’s way, there is an area with a step in front of the door.  Whenever Dick needs to move around to use the tiny bathroom, get dressed, or make up the bed, the “hole” is where I stay until all is clear.

This morning while checking the news, the death of Neil Armstrong is upsetting as a great American hero is now gone from the world.  I feel lucky that I was alive to witness that very first moon walk.

We have returned to Anchorage and Dick has spent hours looking for a repair shop to check the brakes, but it is Sunday and everything is closed.  Sears Auto is opened, but they do not work on motor homes.

He continues to circle the city looking for campgrounds and following his GPS.  That leads us to 2 that are no longer in the area and that is because the GPS is OUTDATED!  There is nothing but homes on either side of us.  It is now 3 hours later, and still Dick is searching.  During the drive I receive a call from my cousin Kim Marcus.  She and her fiancée are in Florida trying to escape Hurricane Isaac, but good news; she is getting married in September and we are ecstatic!

As the day progresses, my mood is as foul as the weather; rain, gloom and gray skies.  I long for warm, sunny days. To make matters worse, Dick is still circling the city and he finally ends up at the campground I suggested over 3 hours ago!  What can I say?

After securing a spot, we take off in search of an air filter as we are told ours needs replacing.  Not sure if Dick is looking to replace the tires here or not.  (Stay tuned.)

You see, every day is not a bed of roses and I hope you take my feelings as just that, not as complaints.  I wouldn’t trade these last few months of adventure for anything!

I read in today’s paper that a hiker was killed by a grizzly bear in Denali Park, the only death in the six million acre’s park recorded history.  I’m glad we stayed on the bus when we were there!

Sleep is accompanied by the patter of rain drops on our home away from home.

The photo below is Dick washing dishes.

 

Heading Back to Anchorage

August 25, 2012

Today in Palmer the weather is cool, but no rain an perfect because there is a parade in town.  In the hair salon (finally after 3 months), I am able to view the procession from a window inside the shop. Tractors, old autos, horses, marching bands, children and lots of politicians (election year).

Picking up sandwiches at a nearby deli, Dick & I drive to a scenic spot alongside the road in Palmer and eat in the RV.

Heading towards Anchorage there is an exit at Eklutna Lake.  This takes us on a 9 mile drive that dead ends at a parking lot.  The longest lake in Chugach State Park; 7 miles long, I mile deep is used to generate power and is also a water source for Anchorage.

My Milepost book tells us a stop a Thunder Bird Falls is worthwhile.  It is a 2 mile round trip hike, but for me it is not the waterfall that is appealing (and I’ve seen plenty on this journey), it is the mushrooms!  They are everywhere.  Along the trail, in the trees and deep in the grassy areas.  Some are pink, orange, white, brown, spotted, fringed while others; reminiscent of jelly fish.

It is now 6 p.m. and we decide to spend the night at Peters Creek Campground.

Tomorrow is Sunday and we will head to Anchorage and try to find a repair shop opened so Dick can have the brakes checked out on the RV.

On this journey so far, there have been 4 deaths of close friends or relatives, 3 weddings, numerous birthdays, a family ordeal, and other difficulties.  Dick & I have been blessed with good health and companionship.

 Life goes on.

Palmer, Alaska

August 24, 2012

This morning under cloudy skies we head towards Palmer.  This city was developed from an agricultural community which produces amazing giant vegetables.

Upon arrival, Dick drops me off at a Laundromat where I am busy with 3 loads of wash.  He drives off to Midas where he has the oil changed and the fluids checked.

After he picks me up, we drive to a chip and windshield repair.  The woman is located off the Old Glenn Highway and she runs her business from her motor home.  With her white latex gloves covering her hands, she begins the procedure.  Her grey hair is pulled back with a silver head band, and I guess her to be in her early 50’s. She is wearing faded blue jeans, a navy blue sweat shirt and her glasses fit loosely on the bridge of her nose.  Dick is watching as her skilled hands continue to work on the crack with ultra violet rays.  She is plain looking, wearing no make- up and I find it humorous that she wears gray socks and red sandals.  When she converses with Dick, I hear a nervous laugh when she explains her procedure.  Thirty-five dollars later, we are back on the road with a clean windshield (she washed it with soap & water) and no visible crack.

On our way to the Matanuska River Park we are met by a female moose on the road.  She seems to be frozen and stares at us for a few moments.  Then she trots off into the bushes.

We connect our utilities at the campground and then it’s off to the Alaska State Fair.  We just happen to be here during this once a year weekend in August.  What an experience. Games, carnival rides, exhibits, food, animals, and a seat ejection chair!  $30 puts you in a chair that lifts you up to about 200 feet and turns you upside down, and lets the gravity force take over.  I could throw up just looking at it.  And I thought bungee cords were crazy!

We see a goat milking exhibition, mechanical bull, acrobats, singers, dancers and then devour a bunch of exotic and delectable food.  There are gigantic home-made cream puffs and other delicacies from every country mentionable.  Also, chocolate dipped bacon on a stick (no thanks).

At 7 p.m. we exit the fairgrounds and head back to our campground.  What timing!  Within minutes the heavy rain begins and it continues all night long.

 

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