Friday, October 23, 2009

Haiti 10/23

Our morning started like all other mornings. I awoke before everyone else. I grabbed the computer and sat at the restaurant to write on the blog. A few minutes later the waiter politely said our coffee was ready (I hadn't even asked for any). So I sat at the table and had a cup of coffee, it's delicious coffee!

Nathan and the girls joined me a few minutes later and we all ate breakfast together. T and I had omelets with no cheese and no ham. Nathan had one more round of french toast! We then took our showers before the power turned off and took a walk down by the beach. We went to an area we hadn't been to before, not sandy, but overlooking the ocean. Of course the haitian vendors flocked to us, most of whom had sold to us for the last 2 days, a couple of new ones too. We are completely out of small change, so that helped a little. Nathan talked to a couple of guys inquiring about shark diving. The younger one said Haitians are terribly afraid of sharks, so he wasn't sure if N8 could find anyone to take him to purposely find sharks. Nate had a good chat with them.

After awhile, we all headed to the room. I got real sick, so N8 took the girls for awhile. he fed Charlene who then fell asleep, so we stayed in the room together resting (I was awake!) while N8 and T ate lunch. After a couple of hours and some medicine, I was feeling a little better and good thing because Vera was on her way to pick us up! I had to be able to make it an hour w/o getting sick again...and I did! I did a lot of praying!

It was a cloudy and eventually rainy day, but not bad weather. Very nice and soothing actually. We were still the only patrons of the resort at that time, but there were about 5-6 visotors when we left. n8 and T checked out the upstairs rooms and he said they are 100xs better than the room we had...wish we would've known that sooner! Ours was okay, but soooo dark. He said the upstairs rooms are bright with white tile and high ceilings.

We left the resort and drove back to Port-au-Prince. We were going to stay at Zack's house, but had a change of plans last minute, so Vera made us reservations at a hotel in the middle of PAP, but then the Visa Lodge finally called her back saying they had a room, so here we are. It's nice. The room is nice. It has a nice a/c, tv, kleenex(!), high ceilings with a ceiling fan. Charlene was instantly in a better mood in that room. We noticed that right away. She hasn't been very happy the last 3 days or so. I was even looking through my pictures and she doesn't have that natural smile like she did at the first hotel. We know it's partly due to teeth coming in, but we think it's because the room is brighter. Lesson learned.

Charlene has been very crabby and has cried A LOT. She wasn't like this last time, but she didn't have teeth last time wither. Her bottom 2 teeth have really come through a lot the last 2-3 days. I've given her Tylenol a couple of times, I know she's hurting. It was fun to see her smiling and happy again this afternoon in this hotel room. We even had a little game going where she'd crawl up the the pillows, plop down at which point I would grab her feet and drag her to the bottom of the bed and tickle her. She'd crawl up again...etc. We did this over and over. It was so fun. She hasn't been that playful since we left the first hotel in PAP.

Vera had to drop off her truck to get fixed, but came back with her friend Margorie (Zack's sister). Margorie fed Charlene and held her. She just loves Charlene. Margorie seems like such a nice gal, wish I could get to know her better. When we met her the first night, she called Charlene "Charleena". I love it. Taylor has started calling her Charlena , too, it's so cute. I asked if that was how it was to be pronounced, but it's not, that's just what she calls her. I asked her if that was a common name in Haiti and she said it was.

Well, the pizza showed up, but Nate and the girls disappeared. N8 wanted to take Charlene back to the room to 'run around', but of course, the pizza showed up 2 minutes later. I may have to dig in, although i hope and pray I don't get sick. If I do, i'll only have to go about 24 hours w/o eating before I'm in the comfort of my own home. No fun being sick away from home :(


Haiti Thu 10/22

This is our last full day at the beach. We decided to not go snorkeling, but just hang out. I'm at the restaurant with the computer while everyone else is sleeping (6:30am). The rooster crows like clockwork about 6am. Then I walk outside and hear the workers sweeping.

Charlene slept all night. She did start coughing about 1am. I even moved her up to the propped up end of her crib, but it didn't help. Finally her coughing woke her up, she cried and stood up. I was right by her crib again, so I rubbed her back and spoke and she calmed down. She stood as long as she could, even briefly falling asleep :) She eventually layed back down and slept (w/o coughing) the rest of the night.

We all ate breakfast: Taylor had an omelet with ham and cheese, I ordered an omelet w/o the ham, but got it w/o the cheese too :) and Nathan had french toast. He normally really doesn't like french toasat, but he loves how the haitians make it. It is crispy and so delicious. They also gave us a platter of bread, peanut butter, jelly, coffee, real creamer, and fresh orange juice.

We then got readyf ro the beach. T. got in the water right away, swimming and playing. N8 went out to the floating dock and saw jellyfish! I just held Charlene. The sound of the waves puts her in a trance almost. I even waded out in the water where she was wet, too and she fell asleep. this happens every time, so soothing for her. N8 came back and took Charlene then I swam out to the dock. I layed out in the fabulous sunshine for a while, dipped my hand to splash water on felt so good. Did it again and my hand hit the top of a jellyfish. I sat up, looked around and saw a few. I was able to pet them some more, such a wierd feeling. I tried to get T. to swim out. She started, but then spotted one and turned around and swam back to the beach. There were only about 5, so it would've been easy to navigate. I swam back to shore and Nathan took T. out to the dock b/c you can stand on it and see them good. She is the only one with goggles, so she had to tell N8 where to swim to avoid them. They did great, stayed out there awhile, then swam back to shore, b/c the snorkel guy had brought us snorkel gear for us to borrow for the day. So, N8 and T put their gear on and went back out. I was having fun holding a sleepy Charlene. She loves being held and listening to the ocean. Normally she is scrambling to get down and move around, but not at the beach. Nate then went over by the stone wall and saw some really neat fish. He said there was more fish there than at the reef. He even saw a Lion fish! I've only seen those in aquariums. Taylor was over with him and long story short..she all of a sudden starts panicking and swimming for shore. I knew she had been stung. nathan swam to her and Isaac (a Hatian vendor we had befriended) ran to her also. He said she needed lemon. I went to the restaurant, they didn't have any. He then went somewhere and came back with a lime (his English isn't was a lime we needed). He and Nathan rubbed lime all over her, but she got stung on her bottom and her back. She was crying and screaming. Isaac said to wait 3 minutes, then give her a shower, so nate ran her back to the hotel, gave her some Zyrtec and a shower. How we had running water in the middle of the day, I don't know.

While this was happening, the guy had some buy with our lunch. Nathan told him to come by at noon. he did with fresh, fried chonch, fried plantains and about 4 coconuts (for the cocunt juice). I also had 'ordered' 3 coconuts and that guy had come by too. So I stayed at the beach with Charlene, all our food and all the good we had purchased and Isaac. We are still the only patrons. I drank one coconut and part of another b/c they leak and I didn't want to waste any. I sat down with Charlene and Isaac had started eating his lunch...a fresh avacado and some bread. He gave us a large slice of avacado and some bread. Charlene ate it all. the avacados here are much different than the ones in the stores at home.

Nate came back and helped carry our stuff back to the room. We ate the lunch there. He loved it. I didn't like it, but I don't like seafood like that...lobster, etc. It was spicy, but good. I ate the plantains, and so did T. She loved those and the coconut juice. Coconuts are really heavy!! I poured out all the juice into a cup for her.

Nate said her bottom and back had swollen, but by the time I got to the room, she was calm and the swelling had gone down and it just looked like about 300 bee stings. She watched her science videos to get her mind off of it. After awhile, T and I walked around (it was naptime for Ch.) and we noticed the pool was looking much better, I could actually see the bottom! So, T put on some shorts and a tee and we went to the pool. After Ch's nap, she and N8 came too. I kept Ch. on the chair with me and she snacked on ritz crackers and N8 and T played in the pool Taylor wanted to pretend they were sea mammals. She chose to be a Green (sea) turtle (as opposed to a loggerhead turtle--and she had her reasons. She listed several differences thanks to her science videos). When I was in the pool, I chose to be a blue whale, N8 chose to be an Orca. They had fun. The clouds rolled in prob. around 3:30 or so. We finally left around ?5pm and got cleaned up and went to supper.

N8 and I ordered grilled fish and T. ordered spaghetti noodles. Charlene threw 2 fits during this meal. N8 walked her around once and I took her to the room to calm down once. Finally, I just took her to the room to go to bed. She gets real tired about 7pm. She did fall asleep no problem.

Charlene likes to throw temper tantrums when she doesn't get her way...about anything.

She slept good though.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Haiti Tue10/20 & Wed 10/21

...Tue 10/20
When we arrived at Wahoo, we weren't too sure about staying here. The room was less than ideal and we were the only ones here. I hadn't seen one other woman and it made me nervous. We agreed to stay only because they'd gone to a lot of trouble to bring us here, plus Vera offered to come pick us up if needed. Nathan and I grumbled about our situation for awhile, then decided to spend the night (had no choice, Vera never would've driven out here at night) and see how things went the next day. We barracaded the front door and the sliding glass door to feel more secure. While we were grumbling, the front desk guy knocked on the door and brought us our change from paying for the room...ok, maybe they weren't so bad after all. So, we went to the bar area and enjoyed the fresh air. We ordered a fruit punch which was made from real, fresh fruit and was absolutely delicious. I learned later from Vera they usually put rum in it, so I clarified that it was sans alcohol. The haitian guys hanging out (workers) just sit and watch the tv--usually soccer, sometimes a movie. All was okay.

Wed. 10/21
Nathan had told a snorkel 'tour operator' we'd meet him at 9:30am to snorkel on a coral reef. I was a little leery of getting in a boat with our 2 girls, but decided to try it. It was wonderful. It was the 'captain' and his 'first mate' who rowed us down the beach ways to a coral reef. This boat is so primitive and hand made of whatever wood they could find, but it's sturdy! The oars are the same, worked great, but handmade of whatever was available. Nate and Taylor got in first. I stayed on the boat with a sleeping Charlene. I could hear Taylor's excitement over what she was seeing. The reef does have some color and some fish, but it's not like other reefs we've seen. Still, to an 8-year old who has only snorkeled in the lake, it was exciting. She saw lots of sea urchins, some cute and unusual fish and lots of different corals. Nate came and switched with me, so I could snorkel as well. Taylor then wanted to take off her life jacket and dive down like I do, so we let her. I stayed right by her, showed her how to do it and she did! She didn't dive down real far, but far enough to have to blow out her snorkel. She felt so free w/o her life jacket. The water was so clear and shallow that I wasn't concerned (plus, i was holding her hand most of the time). The captain would then take a stick and smash up some urchins which would bring the fish in to feed. It was neat. There were also some hatians spear fishing and we got to see their string of fish. The fish are small, but it will make a good meal.

They rowed us back to our beach (5 mintues) and we continued haggling (sp?) with the vendors that came out just for us. I had picked out some stuff, but we had to go snorkeling, so they waited for us. Silly us, we didn't bring small change, so one guy said he's bring us our change tomorrow...we'll see. The other guy said we could trust him to go up the street and get change, so we gave him $100 and he came back 2 hours later with our American change. He even left all his goods and his ID with us to prove that he was trustworthy. These are neat people.

One haitian came by with a live crab. I wasn't sure what he wanted, so one older vendor translated that for $12, he would cook it over a fire around the corner and b ring it back for us to eat. We would've if we had any small change. Later on, I was laying out on this floating dock and a boat with 2 guys came over wanting to cook fresh conch with coconut. Again, I couldn't b/c I didn't have any money. Later, he came by and Nathan told him to come back tomorrow and we'll eat his conch, coconut and bananas at 12pm. Hopefully that happens. What an experience.

We played at the beach a little longer before going to eat lunch. We arel still the only people here. Usually missionaries come over for the day, but not today, we have the whole beach/resort to ourselves. I feel more comfortable as I've interacted with some people and I'm starting to recognize faces. Our lunch took probably 2 hours. I think they went out and caught the lobster and fish right then to cook it :) It was delicious, but Taylor's vegetable soup was spicy this time, so I ate that. That is made fresh as well.

By this time it's about 3pm and the clouds are rolling in. N8 and T went back to the beach and Ch. and I went to the room. She fell asleep, so I picked her up and took her down to the beach as well and she napped there. N8 and T played in the sand and made a sand wall and made up stories. Taylor is such a little fish and thoroughly enjoys the beach, the sand and the water. Charlene didn't get in the water this time, but she just let us hold her and she just relaxed listening to the waves crashing softlyon the beach. We came back to the room about 5pm--it gets dusk at 5:30 and dark at 6pm. Our electricity was on, so we all were able to take showers. I took Charlene's hair out of her ponytail and she has a LOT of hair, but just on top of her head! I gave her a shower in cold water and she didn't care at all, I'm sure she's used to that. i washed her hair and she just hugged me and acted like she liked it. I then handed her to N8 and she just cried and cried. Sometimes, she only wants mama to hold her. How sweet.

It had started raining, but we ventured to the bar/restaurant so Taylor could eat. She ordered spaghetti, but all Charlene wanted to do was crawl/walk, so I took her back to the room. I mopped the floor with the towels, but by the time I was done, she was falling asleep, so I got her ready for bed. She fell asleep at 7pm! We had a huge thunderstorm. I have never heard lightning/thunder that loud before--it was scary. The last big crash, T and N8 came running to t the room. He thought it had hit the hut where the bar is. It finally calmed down. I wrote in my journal, T and N8 watched an animal documentary and fell asleep. We were all in bed by 8:45pm.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Haiti October 2009

Sat. 10/17
Left home at 5:15am, a little behind schedule, but our plane was late, so it didn't matter. Got through all checks okay. We checked 6 bags loaded with donations. I bag was 50lbs exactly, the other was 48lbs. The others were 40-some pounds. Good thing I took out the gigantic can of formula and put it in my carry-on!

We made it to Dallas about 20 minutes before the next plane was to leave, so Taylor and I literally ran to the next gate (got to take the cool am-trak deal too). They kindly waited for Nathan to arrive with our carry-ons (we had to valet-check them in Springfield). But, that plane ended up having technical difficulties, so we sat for about 45 minutes before leaving.

Made it to Miami okay with about an hour to spare, so we grabbed some sandwiches and waited. We then waited 2 stinkin' hours on the plane. The excuse: Someone was supposed to be on the plane but they weren't but their bag was and the bag crew had to sift through all bags to find it. this was the same excuse as last time. I asked a stewardess about it. She said a) the bag wasn't on the plane b) this is common b/c they are extra/super cautious about any bags going on a plane without the owner. So, we arrived in Port-a-Prince 2 hours late at dusk, so by the time we got our bags and met Vera it was dark. I was nervous about that, but it was actually quite nice. After getting chewed out by Barbara for not informing her we were coming (we only informed Vera, didn't know we had to tell Barbara too), we headed for a hotel where I thought we had reservations. Nathan got to hold his baby girl for the first time! She had been waiting with Barbara for about3-4 hours, so she was asleep.

We got to that hotel, discovered we didn't have reservations, they called another hotel who had room, the Habitation Hatt hotel. It was very nice. Nice clean rooms, gated, a/c, running water, tv, fans and a gorgeous pool. We all slept good that night!

Sunday 10/18
We spent the day at the hotel. Taylor swam in the pool a lot while Charlene and I watched. I thought she was ready for a nap, so I didn't get her swimsuit on. That afternoon she didn't go either, it started to get stormy looking. The restaurant there is wonderful. It is bright and airy and the food is delicious.

Charlene is much more active at 10 months that she was at 6 months. She can crawl everywhere, she can walk holding on to things--she wasn't even using her legs at all last time. She talks a lot, grabs everything and has one huge honkin' tooth on top (top right). She has one bottom tooth (left) you can see and the right one just broke through. So cute. She cries more, gets mad more and doesn't sit in the Jeep very well anymore. She has to be moving. Last time it took her 3 days to smile at me without being prompted. She was doing that the first day this time. She loves being around us, loves being held and LOVES these little sweet potato baby snack things I brought. Should've brought cases of that!

Taylor loves playing with her little sister. She enjoys giving her little pieces of food, toys to play with and making her laugh. Charlene responds to her name, so Taylor would call her name when we were at the pool and Charlene would look and Taylor would jump in the pool real funny. Charlene loved that!

We all took a nap this afternoon. Nathan got the first chance at a nap, then we 3 girls all layed down on one of the beds. Charlene fell asleep on me and Taylor beside me. I slept about 2 hours and the girls about 3 hours.

Monday 10/19
We had an appointment at the US Embassy today at 11am. We got picked up about 8:30am and headed over there. I brought all the papers i needed, but we still had to fill them out. I've never seen so many people in one waiting area before! All waiting for Visas I guess. Charlene's birth mom was there, so it was great to see her. I was really hoping to meet her last time, but it never worked out. I have so many questions for her, but there wasn't anyone to translate for me :( She got to hold Charlene for a lot of our wait. We signed out papers, swore before some official that we would take good care of Charlene and answered some questions. The birth mom did her interview while we were there and took Charlene with her. All went well.

Barbara then took the 4 of us and Charlene's birth mom to the village (orphanage). We took some pictures together, toured the village, and ate lunch with LaWanna and all the babies. We then went back to the hotel.

Nathan took Taylor swimming while Charlene and I stayed back for hopefully a nap. Charlene napped a bit at the Embassy, but really needed a good long nap. Charlene wouldn't take a nap, but about 20 minutes later I hear Taylor and Nathan coming up the stairs and she's crying hysterically. She was trying to get out of the pool on the side and slipped and hit her mouth, knocking out 2 teeth. Fortunately, they were baby teeth. Nathan thought she only knocked out the front one that was super loose anyway, but when I looked, I noticed the one next to it was gone too! nathan's eyes gew wide. After about 10 minutes of calming Taylor down, he went back to the pool and found the 2nd tooth! (He had the first one already) Unbelievable. Charlene was so off schedule and so tired, that she fell asleep at bedtime, but without a bottle, so she awoke about 3am hungry! I fed her, but she didn't want to lay down alone, so she fell asleep on me and we all slept the rest of the night. Not the best night's rest, but ok.

The food at this hotel is delicious. There isn't many choices, but what we've had has been good. All I can eat is beans and rice, but it is sooo good. I was going to order a salad, but Vera warned that we don't know what water was used to wash the veggies, so I get beans and rice. Taylor also loves the beans and rice but has also gotten spaghetti. Nathan has tried various sandwiches. They have the best french toast for breakfast and the freshest orange juice.

Tuesday 10/20
We ate b'fst then Nathan and Taylor went swimming, then we got packed up, and sat down to eat lunch and Barbara showed up to take us to the beach. Taylor was complaining of a stomach ache, so we knew she had to eat. Barbara couldn't wait, so she called vera to come get us. She did and we went back to the village. We switched bags from Barbara's car into Vera's and headed to the beach. It's where we are now. It's been alright so far. Will write more later.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Jack said 2 funny things this morning...
1. Kenai has some white splotch crusted on the fur on his back. I asked what that could be. Jack responded, "It's probably slug slime." The day before they had found lots of slugs outside!

2. (This is a little gross, but typical boy) "If you want a stink, then you can count on me, because I toot and burp a lot." Nice...

Homeschooling is going very well. We've pretty much got a routine, but also go with the flow. It's getting a little easier teaching 2 different levels, but still challenging. I'm also working on 'training'. That's something I've realized is incredibly important. This school year, not only do they have 'chores' to do in the mornings, some have to be done before b'fst now. That has helped. Having set times for some things helps too. Such as 8:30am the bus (kitchen chair) leaves for school (former dining room). Just this week, I've started 8:15am devotion time and they seem to like that. I've tried to eat at 11:30 and be done eating by 12pm (or else they will eat/play for ever). In the past I've done a 4pm 'pick up the house' time, but we're not always home at 4pm.

Today we went to Incredible Pizza for a Wonders of Wildlife show. It was about caves, so we learned about animals that live in caves and got to see some cool live animals. The kids did fun crafts and a scavenger hunt. 2 weeks ago, Mad Science had a class at Incredible Pizza. They learned all about 'matter'. Solid, liquid, gas, atoms, molecules, physical vs. chemical change. Awesome. Taylor is also part of the Conservation Kids Club at the Nature Center and last month they learned about snakes. Got to see/pet real ones and learned A LOT about snakes. It's fun doing field trips b/c I learn a lot too!

Time to go. 4 days 'til Haiti and still lots to do...


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We're out of IBESR....our prayers have been answered so far. Thank you, GOD!!!!!!!

Haitian adoption paperwork process recap:

PROCESS:Minister of Foreign Affairs (2-8wks) DONE
Preparation of file for IBESR (2-8wks) DONE
IBESR (3-12MO) ENTERED JUNE 2009 (wile I was in Haiti!) DONE (Sept. 29, 2009)
Civil Court (4-8wks)
Legalization (4-12wks)
Minister of Interior (3-6MO)
Immigration/Passport printing (2-8wks)
USCIS (3wks+)
Visa Process (1-2wks)

= 10.5mo – 29mo TOTAL

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New School Year

Well, we started school last week, a week earlier than planned and good thing! Last week I had planned on easing into our routine, focusing on some skills I wanted mastered in the next few weeks, getting back into the grind of schoolwork. Long story was one of the worst weeks ever!!! Taylor fought me tooth and nail on just about everything. She threw tantrums like a little child when she didn't want to do something. It was absolutely awful! We even took a field trip to Branson to see the Moscow Circus (which was fanstastic!), threw a fit in Branson over a grilled cheese

After one of her fits, I sent her to her room b/c I needed a break. We had a discussion and attempted to finish our day. The next day, I realized sending her to her room wasn't the answer, so for her next fit, she got put to work--vacuuming. Tthen she had to get back to what she was doing. That worked a little better.

Good news: This week has been 100 times better! Today is Thursday, we've done school for 3 days this week and she has done beautifully. She dilligently works most of the time, she gets up on her own with her own alarm clock and gets her day going w/o me hounding. Yeah!!!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Travelled 8,240 miles
After leaving Valdez, Alaska, drove for 6 days and ended back in Alaska (Hyder, AK)
Did 6 border crossings/went through customs 5 times
Crossed the Continental Divide 4 times
Changed time zones 6 times
Passed through/visited 7 states
Visited 3 Provinces in Canada
Saw: black bear, brown bear, grizzly bear, moose, bald eagles, sharks, bison, caribou, deer, elk, oyseter cracker (bird), sheep, sea otters, sea lions, weasel, countless birds, salmon, countless rivers, streams, lakes, glaciers, peaks, mountains.
Acquired 4 cracks in the RV windsheild, a brokend RV parklight, chips and scratches on both the RV and the Jeep and a chip in the Jeep's grille. Not bad. We were expecting worse.


I would always think of things I learned, but never wrote them down...hopefully I can remember a few.

1. Pay the $24 for the latest Milepost!! Most places are now shut down, it would've been handy!
2. Don't borrow anybody's anything.
3. If you want to do something, find a charter!
4. Kenai can walk/run on a leash beside the bike
5. Get tension rods for cabinets. On more than one occasion, we hit some nasty, bumpy roads that threw our cabinets open and spilled out all contents! Ugh. It's a wonder the kids weren't injured!
6. Stay at "Provinvial Parks" in Canada/State Parks in US as much as possible!! They are gorgeous!
7. When necessary (as in crammed in a motorhome), the kids CAN fold/put away jammies, make their bed upon arising, put shoes in the same place each time they get in the motorhome, hang up their coat in the same spot each's amazing!
8. Kenai would've done better with a sedative while riding!

9. Learn how to properly use the inverter button to get kids to obey!!!
One of the first days, the inverter button was off and the kids tried to watch a video. Nathan mentioned the button was switched off. I took the opportunity to inform the kids that the TV didn't work b/c there were toys still on the floor. They proceeded to pick them all up and voila!, the TV worked. So, from that day forward (after lunch AND gas--usually about 2pm), the kids could watch a video. That quickly evolved to be one cartoon and other had to be educational. That lasted about a day, then they were just watching educational...the same 2 movies over and over. "Prehistoric Planet" and "Wild Detectives" where they put the "critter cam" on various animals to learn more about them.

It was funny, toward the end of the trip, I saw the kids go in the back (inverter is off of course), then I see Jack come back up and say to Taylor that the TV isn't working b/c there are toys on the floor.

Now, how do I get that little game to work at home (to where they know it's not ME controlling the TV on/off mode)?????

What I learned fishing:
1. The reel goes under the pole. The first day of fishing, I was reeling backwards the whole time. I went into the fishing store the next day wondering why I had to reel backwards, they informed me the reel goes under the rod....ahha.

2. Listen to the 5 year old and bleed the fish right away!

3. The best way to bleed the fish is to cut the gills with a knife...I was wondering why Jack kept saying his fingers hurt while trying to bleed the gills.

4. It helps to have a needle-nose pliers to remove the hook from the fish's mouth...fingers don't work. They have TEETH!! Learned that on day 1 also.

I know there's more, but that's all I can' think of for now.

Mon.8/17 - Wed. 8/19 2009

Monday: We waste no time in getting right back in running, running, running.

I had an appointment at 1:30pm.
Kids had book club at 2pm (How To Eat Fried Worms)
Kids had swim lessons at 3:30pm

Tuesday: We dropped the van off to (finally) get the A/C fixed. I had bought an old book, "The Birds of a Feather" and happened to bring it. Good thing b/c we had to wait just for the driver to take us home. I love that book!!! Stayed home and continued unpacking/cleaning.

About 5pm, I noticed moths (okay, no big deal) and their nasty little offspring and their disgusting habitat in my pantry. I was so entirely grossed out! I love bugs, but not when they're living next to and come to find out IN my food. I called the bug company and they said all I could do was completely empty the pantry, take away their food source and wipe it all down. SOOOOOO GROSS!

So, that's what I did. My pantry is the size of a very small room, so it's no easy/fast task to completely empty it out, but I did that. I ordered a pizza for the kids (didn't want to eat anything from the pantry!!) and took everything out. Vacuumed/scraped/scrubbed everything. When the shelves were clean, Jack saw them as a climbing gym! The top shelf is 7 feet tall, he climbed to the top and layed down. Then, Taylor started to climb, asked if the shelves would break. I said it's always possible. We have solid wood shelves, but she climbed down. Jack than proceeded to say that I wouldn't be able to climb up because I "weigh a ton or two". Gee thanks :) Diet starts tomorrow :)

I put back all canned items, trashed everything else and cleaned all bins/containers that were in there. That even prompted me to go through all recipe books, and stacks upon stacks of recipes I thought I'd make one day and sorted/filed them all. Needless to say, my pantry looks 100xs better and less cluttered than it did.

Wednesday: We are running out of food, but managed to eat left over pizza, left over spaghetti and I made nachos for Taylor. She actually helped brown the hamburger and turn it into nacho meat. I need to be better about doing that, so she'll start gaining knowledge in how to cook!
We ate out at the swing set tonight (Taylor's idea) which was fun. We could see Kenai pacing the grass below (we're about 6 feet off the ground on a platform), then a few minutes later, I could see Kenai's head. He had climbed the rock wall up to the platform!!! Jack then grabbed his collar and helped him up the last couple of feet. He defintely earned a couple pieces of pepperoni pizza! The kids played on the swings another 45 minutes.

A good day stuck at home, got a lot done as far as de-cluttering/organizing/sorting/laundry/un-loading & re-loading the motorhome.

We have decided that Jack and I will travel to Iowa on Friday, so tomorrow is my last day to get stuff done around here before we're on the road again. I think we'll officially start school the day after Labor Day, so that gives me time to finish planning that! Maybe I could use one of my "Free Weekend" passes to get that accomplished ??


The last 2 days aren't entirely eventful, just lots of driving.

Sat. 8/15: Rapid City, SD - Rock Port, MO

So close, but not close enough!
We stopped in Belvedere, SD (not too far from Rapid City) which had an 1800's town, something I wanted to do on the way UP. It was fantastic. I love 1800's life and the books we read tend to be geared toward that, so it was fun for Taylor and I to explore what an old town (businesses/houses, etc) might look like. Nathan took Jack and he said they spent most of their time in the blacksmith shop.

At 11:45am, they had a show in the saloon, so we got some popcorn and root beer and enjoyed these 2 old men sing funny songs and joke around. They even wanted help with one of the their songs, so Taylor ran right up to the stage, she didn't ask us or anything! She played the cowbell and wore a cowboy hat. So fun. Then they had a 'shoot-out' out in front of the saloon. Jack got picked to be part of the show there. One of the guys was going to shoot off Jack's ears (but his partner made it back with a tin can just in time). Jack didn't know what to think about that, but he was laughing in the end.

They had one little section of antique books for sale and I got to browse quickly while Nathan filled up with gas and found a few books for school...yeah!!

For the kids' book club, we are reading "How To Eat Fried Worms" by Thomas Rockwell. We started it a couple of days ago (finally found it at Borders in Rapid City). While we were driving, Jack tapped me on the shoulder, showed me the book and asked if I'd read! I only read a few pages at a time to keep them interested and it works! So, we layed in the back and about how the 3 buddies went looking for the first of 15 worms and came back with a nightcrawler. Easily 2-3Xs the size of a regular worm by my estimations and we read how the character having to eat the worms was a little perturbed he had to eat this gigantic earthworm.
WELL, we pulled into camp about 10pm and I took the dog out for a walk. Lo and behold...a huge nightcrawler. I hollered for the kids to come look! We were out with our flashlights and tape was 10 inches long. We had fun. I happened to make spaghetti that day, so I went in and tried to explain better to Taylor why the worm eater in the story was so upset...tried to use noodles to compare/contrast a worm and a nightcrawler. It was a neat (learning!) experience.

592 miles/ 12 hours 45 minutes (90 minutes of which was at 1800's town).

Sun. 8/16: Rock Port, MO - HOME!!!

We figured it'd be a pretty easy day, even get home a little early. Well, we forgot we lost yet another hour yesterday, so we didn't get going until 10:20am. It was fairly uneventful and we got home about 5pm.

I have no notes written and only remember Jack and I playing a lot and I reading a lot to catch up on school stuff.

331 miles / 6 hours 20 minutes

GRAND TOTAL: 8240 miles travelled.

Side-note: Anyone considering this is crazy! It's a beautiful drive, but is almost stressful when attempting it in a mere one month time frame. Suggestion: Drive one way (I prefer UP) and ferry back. Or just fly :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

AK VACATION: still driving home...

Thu. 8/13: Sheridan, WY - Rapid City, SD

The kids got to play on the playground for about 45 minutes this morning. We try and let them play as much as possible since a lot of the campgrounds in Canada were not kids friendly, no playgrounds and definitely no pools.

Right after N8 started the RV engine, the 'check engine' light came on...not good. We stopped at KMart and he bought and added more oil, then added fresh diesel down the road. It seemed to help it run a little better, but not great. We made it to our destination without any problems, thank goodness.

While we were at KMart, I noticed several recycling bins at the back of the parking lot. I got to unload 4 weeks of recycling! But, all Jack saw was the McDonalds across the highway. He just stood and stared the whole time. It was cute. (There were no McDonald's where we went).

So, for lunch, we stopped at McDonalds! I went and got groceries at a nearby grocery store instead :) It was so busy at the McD playground, the kids turned right around, walked out and said it was too noisy!

I was unloading groceries in the RV, when N8 and the kids came in with a vase of purple flowers and a purple and pink cake. They are so awesome! I put the cake in the fridge and was tempted so many times :)

We arrived at our campground okay and it was HOT (96degrees)...for reference Valdez was 56 degrees)!! Nathan took the kids to the pool for a couple of hours while I cleaned the motorhome. It needed it. I was able to enjoy the cleanliness for about 15 mintues before they arrived. I made soft shelled tacos, then took the kids to a free S'Mores deal the campground was doing. The kids enjoyed roasting their marshmallows and eating those yummy s'mores!

A mom adopting from haiti sent me more pics of Charlene with Birthday greetings! Yeah!

Travelled 255 miles, 5 hours 45 min.

Friday: 8/14: Stayed in Rapid City, SD Finally, a day of no travelling!!!!

Nathan woke up before me and worked on a surprise in the front room with the kids. I had orders not to enter until told so! So, I showered and got all ready and got the 'okay' to enter. I was greeted with my flowers, a moose earring/necklace set from Jasper N.P., coffee, 3 awesome cards, 2 'coupons' for 2 free weekends (N8 takes kids and I get peace and quiet) and a piece of cake. So, we all ate a piece of cake for b'fst (I love b'day cake!) We then finished getting ready, then headed to the campground's pancake breakfast...all you can eat pancakes for $1. So, we managed a b'fst for $4.12! Not bad. This morning was very cool, but I figured it would surely warm up since yesterday was sooo hot.

Our first stop was 'Bear Country U.S.A.' We drove through the park, saw lots of neat animals, walked around a bit in the rain, walked through the gift shop (didn't get anything, it's all made in China) and moved on to our next destination....Mt. Rushmore.

Made it to Mt. Rushmore! We paid for our parking, wlaked through the maze of people, shot a few pictures and left...yep, left. TOO MANY PEOPLE!! We stayed all of 20 minutes and left.

We then headed to Reptile Gardens, paid our admission, and went to eat at their cafe, which offered no non-meat choices or choices to remove meat, so I ate nachos. Yum. We then watched an alligator/crocodile show. The guy explained the difference betwen the two, then 'wrestled' an alligator and showed how to properly detain an alligator. It was an informative and educational show. We then walked over to the giant tortoises, one of whom is 128 years old! We then moved on to the snake show. Same guy, same informative, educational show, only with venemous and non-venemous snakes. It was great! We then walked around and saw more fantastic reptiles, etc. then drove into Rapid City.

We stopped by Borders to get a book for the kids' book club on Monday, Nathan checked out something at Best Buy, then we went to eat at Applebees for my birthday supper. I ate way to many onion rings (once a year is okay, right?), then we came back to the motorhome. The sun finally decided to make an appearance! It felt good after a chilly, rainy day.

The kids took their dinosaurs and we headed to the playground. They started by burying their dinos, then going on a dino dig. Unfortunately, one dinosaur was unable to be found, so I, another adult and 2 other kids had to get involved, and we found it. so, they abandoned their dig and proceeded to play on the equipment. They played for over an hour before we came back to the Rv, took showers and played more of our 'wolf' dice game! Right before Nathan would roll, he'd say, "Big bucks, no whammy" which evolved to just "no whammy", then to "no whammy, jammy" at which point the kids were rollin'. They thought that was hilarious!!

I got more Facebook birthday greetings, a call from Mom and Dad and a call from Vickie. It was a great day!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

AK VACATION: Still Driving Home

Sun. 8/9: We drove from Stewart, BC to Fort Fraser, BC.

We stopped for lunch at a rest area and I made nachos, I guess we were tired of sandwiches or cheese and crackers.

We got off the Cassiar Highway and onto the Yellowhead Highway headed toward Prince George.

We saw a sign for an RV park and just stopped! It even had a little playground, the kids were elated! They went and played on the playground/sandbox while we watched from the RV. Nathan grilled some purple potatoes from a vegetable stand in the Yukon and some of our salmon (made salmon sandwiches). It was "delish" as Jack would say.

I learned that Saskatoon berries grow here, something bears and humans can eat!

We drove346 miles today (over 8 hours)

Mon. 8/10: Drove from Fort Fraser, B.C. to Jasper, Alberta (Jasper National Park)

We added a new, large crack to the windshield today! This one even has a 'run'. Oh well. Nathan saw a bumper sticker that said, "I drove the Alaska Highway both ways, (darn) it!" So true...

We stopped for lunch at a rest area that had a playground! and I made soup and grilled ham and cheese.

We made it to Jasper National Park, waited in line to get an RV spot. All they had left were spots with no hook-ups, but the spot was beautiful. It was at the back of the park with few neighbors. We unhooked the Jeep and drove to the tram, where we rode to the top of Whistlers Mountain. It offered gorgeous views of several mountain ranges and the town of Jasper. We ate supper at the top, walked around awhile, then headed back down (it was pretty chilly up there at 8pm). We then drove into the town of Jasper, looked in some shops and headed 'home'. We were all tired. We put the kids to bed and Nathan and I watched a Jeff Allen comedy DVD.

We travelled 333 miles (8 hours)

Tue. 8/11: Jasper National Park, Alberta to Shelby, Montana, U.S.A.

We started off by driving through Jasper National Park, then through Banff National Park. This is a beautiful drive and would be fun someday to take a week or more and start in Jasper N.P. and work our way down to Banff N.P. in a tent or something much smaller than what we have. We are extremely limited in where we can stay in this motorhome. There are lots of little parks and tons of hikes to take. Someday...

We made it to the border..YEAH! We had spent the last 45 minutes eating any fruit we had left (plums/nectarines/applels). Not sure what they won't let us through with, but I wasn't going to give them up. All we were left with were sugar snap peas and little tomatoes, the officer didn't want those :) They were actually checking vehicles in front of us, so I was glad I had cleaned up the motorhome before we got there :) We pulled up, turned off the engine, handed over 4 passports and the questions started. They wanted to see the kids (normal) and this officer asked the kids their names. Taylor shyly said hers and Jack spoke up and said his. Then the officer asked who we were. Jack wouldn't answer! He just slunk down behind Nathan's chair. Luckily Taylor answered, but he asked Jack a couple of tiimes and he still wouldn't say anything. Luckily we got through ok..that was the toughest border crossing yet. So glad to be back in the USA. Didn't think it mattered much, but it does.

We made it to Shelby, MT (35 So. of the border) at the same campground we stayed at coming up. We were in a spot that had a grassy area and a little dirt pile, so the kids had fun playing in that! I made spaghetti and pizza (all of us couldn't agree, so I made both) and we ate nice! The last couple hours of the drive were extrememly windy, fortunately, it died down so we could eat outside.

Travelled 490 miles, 10 hours

Wed. 8/12: Shelby, MT - Sheridan, WY

It was SUPER windy last night. It woke me up b/c it was shaking the RV! And for some reason, we didn't get going until 9:45am today, ugh. While N8 was unhooking the RV and getting ready to go, the kids played in their dirt pile once more, wondering when we get to come back!

They love dirt, sticks, rocks and bones (Jack)

We stopped for lunch at a burger Cafe in Boulder, MT (I'm running out of food, it's not that easy to pull this thing into a grocery store parking lot sometimes).

We saw 2 "Marine 1" helicopters circling above in Bozeman, MT. Nathan heard that the President was taking his family to Yellowstone for a vacation.

In our attempt to cover a lot of miles, we had to bypass a lot of fun places to stop, such as the headwaters of the MO river, the Museum of the Rockies, a grizzly rehab facility, etc. Maybe another time.

When we got to the campground in WY at 8pm, N8 took the kids to the pool while I made supper. The water was freezing and the hot tub was for 21 and older, so they were back fairly quickly. We ate at 9pm, then the kids went to bed.

Travelled 557 miles today, 10hr 15min)...a l-o-n-g day, but worth it!! I mentioned what a long day it had been and the kids wasn't that bad!

Got an awesome message from Charlene: "Happy Birthday, Mommy!!!!! I love you, Charlene."
(LaWanna..her so awesome!)


Sunday, August 9, 2009

AK VACATION: Driving home

Well, we finally have wi-fi, if only for a night (and still no cell service at all) so I'll try to re-cap the last week as briefly as possible:

Mon. 8/3: We got packed up and ready to leave Valdez, after 9 full days there.
Problem #1: Nathan learns that the shark cage they had built is going to cost him over 2X's what was quoted. Not a good start to the day.
Problem #2: The sewer was completely clogged up. Not sure how, we were on full hook ups. Anyway, Nathan tried an experimental approach to fixing the problem that was either going to end really well or really, really bad. Fortunately, it went well!
Problem #3: The driver's side big slide wouldn't budge. Called home to the RV service center. Again, Nathan decided on another experimental approach before trying to manually pull it in and again, that worked.

Not a good start to a day of driving, but all ended well. We paid for the shark cage on the way out of town (talked them down $200--whooppee doo) and drove through the beautiful Keystone Canyon again and over Thompson Pass.

We stopped at Worthington Glacier b/c the kids really wanted to hike up to the glacier and since N8 was along, we did. We actually hiked up to the glacier cave that could've caved in at any moment. It was really nice and a good hike. We ate lunch and kept driving.

We ended up stopping in Copper Canyon, only about 100 miles from Valdez. It was HOT! I couldn't believe what a different 100 miles made!! I had to go fishing one more time....I learned how to fish for sockeye and spent the next several hours trying off of the campground's banks. I had one hooked, but it got away. (travelled 107 miles)

Tue. 8/4: I signed up for a fishing charter for Sockeye's (Red's) We left at 6am, drove about 20 minutes up river, got in a raft and floated down a bit to a fishing spot. It was the guide, 2 older guys from the Princess ship and me. Luckily I had learned how to properly fish, but it still takes lots of practice. I also learned it's more fun to search and hunt for the fish than to simply cast over and over, so that's what I did. I, again, was soooo close, but couldn't snag a salmon. If I had more time to try I know I would've gotten one. Luckily, the guide was an expert and snagged 3 fish, all of which are in my freezer! We hopped in our raft and rafted down category 3 & 4 rapids to get back to the campground. Made it home about noon and were back on the road by 12:45pm. We drove down the road and had to wait in line for gas, what a drag! Then got to experience the good ol' frost heaves again!! We stopped for gas in Tok and agreed if the Salmon Bake was open, we'd just stay there...but it wasn't, again. Not sure what's going on. So, we left town, crossed the border into Canada (they let us keep our bear spray!), lost an hour and camped in Beaver Creek, Yukon. We drove through terrible, smelly smoke thanks to a forest fire in Fairbanks. Today, I had a headache that got progressively worse, plus woke up with a sore throat, so the smoke didn't' help at all. (travelled 262 miles)

Wed. 8/5: Travelled from Beaver Creek, Yukon to Takhini Hot Springs, Yukon, just outside of Whitehorse. The air seemed better today which was nice, although the headache was a full blown migraine, so I slept most of the day. Nathan did spot a grizzly on the side of the road, but there was nowhere to turn around, so we drove to the next pull-out, unhooked the Jeep and drove back the 10miles looking for it, but it was gone, so we hooked back up and kept driving. Made it to the Hot Springs and went swimming! One section is pretty warm, the other is extremely hot. It felt good. (Headache got progressively better throughout the day) (travelled 280 miles)

Thu. 8/6: Got up and went swimming until about 1pm, ate lunch at the cafe right by the pool (Hot Springs) then drove into Whitehorse. That was a mistake. We love the quietness of woods and out-of-the way places..Whitehorse was a loud, congestion, like-any-other-town town. We pretty much got groceries, came back to the RV and swam some more. Jack swam til 9pm and Taylor til 10pm, stopping every few minutes to eat a bite at the cafe again. It was fabulous! They said to watch out for the bear that wanders around, but never saw it.

Fri. 8/7: Travelled from Takhini Hot Springs, Yukon to Dease Lake, BC. We had to put some miles behind us, so we planned a big day! We stopped for gas in Whitehorse and the guy at the gas station said there were 60 wildfires in the area...more smoke, but not as bad as before! We noticed the leaves are turning and falling and some of the fireweed is to the only 2 weeks!
We entered British Columbia, stopped for a black bear on the side of the rode, saw a moose (didn't stop) and got on the Cassiar Highway! We were told it was beautiful and worth the drive :) The first 5o miles were 100 times worse than any AlCan part, it was terrible. The last part before the campground was muddy and dangerous, but we made it alright.
We needed a full hook-up with laundry facilities, so we picked a campground at Dease lake. Little did I know that was just the name of a tiny town, not actually on a lake, but it worked, I did laundry until 10pm and again starting at 7am! We are learning that campgrounds around here like to cram motorhomes in as tight as possible with little/no room for anything like a picnic table, etc. So not what we like!!! (travelled 425 miles)

Sat. 8/8: Travelled from Dease Lake, BC to Stewart, BC. The Cassiar Highway greatly improved today except for one spot, it was a nice, needed change! The scenery is spectacular and the farther south we drive the landscape changes to more lush greenery, very neat. We drove through a 'Provincial Park' that was gorgeous. It only had electricity, but would've been so worth it to get out of these crammed RV parks!! We will start looking for those on our way home now! Anyway, I happened to notice a place where you could watch bears feeding on salmon at a stream, so we took a side road (37A) 40 miles off the Cassiar highway to Stewart, BC. Now this road has even more spectacular scenery. Waterfalls and glaciers everywhere, absolutely beautiful. We found a wonderful camprgound with full hookups and plenty of room!! We set up camp, unhooked the Jeep and headed into town...the town of Hyder, ALASKA! (just 3 miles down the road). We ate pizza and headed to see the bears. We waited 2 hours, but never saw bears. The kids were complaining so much (I didn't bring anything for them to do), so we got in the Jeep and headed down the road more to explore and on our way back towards the bears, we saw a black bear cross the road in the distance. That was it. Oh well. We drove home, got through customs okay (didn't have to go through U.S. customs) and made it home by 10pm. We all got ready for bed and played 4 rounds of WOLF, a dice game. Taylor won 2 and N8 won 2.
This campground has bears that wander through it, so kids are instructed not to run around without one of us! Also, we are not to walk around at night, bears and wolves might be out. Isn't this great?!? (We travelled 245 miles today)

Just to re-cap: We've driven 1319 miles in 6 days. For reference, on the way up, we travelled 3114 miles in 6 days (made it all the way in 8).

Jack: He saw somebody's RV sewer line and saw it up on little supports like the Pipeline in Alaska and he said, "instead of a pipeline, it's a poopline".


Sunday, August 2, 2009

VALDEZ: Sun. 8/2

1. Biking through town
2. One last trip to the ice cream truck.

I stayed up 'til 1am blogging and checking email, it's the only quiet time! I'm meeting so many moms from all over the world who are adopting from haiti and last night I had to start keeping track of who I was talking to and who they are adopting and where they're from. Plus, 2 of them told me to contact 2 other people of FB who have pictures of Charlene, which means without meeting these people and having a face with a name, it's hard to remember. So, I worked on that.
SUNSHINE TODAY! There was actually a point when I didn't see one cloud in the sky, it's a miracle. The sun feels soooo good.

I woke up early (7:15am) and headed to the grocery store to get that out of the way. Pretty peaceful first thing in the morning! Came back, cleaned up the motorhome, then we returned the 4 tanks Nathan had borrowed for his trip. We then came back, hopped on our bikes, headed down to the dock so Nathan could replace a battery for the Captain, then we rode around nice in the sunshine!! We stopped by a place for lunch right by the harbor, biked over to the trail where we picked all of our salmonberries, then biked back home. Jack's little legs were so tired!

We hung out at the motorhome for awhile, preparing for a long journey home, then took the Jeep for a drive. We went out to Mineral Creek Trail. Most of it is driveable, although a few were hiking it and a couple of 4wheelers where out there too. It was still sunny!, so we took the top off the Jeep and enjoyed the warmness of the sun and the enormity of the mountais and waterfalls. We got out a few times, ate salmonberries when we found them, then came back to the RV to eat supper. I tried a new recipe: 7 layer taco pie and used my new deep dish pie plate! It was delicious, but just as we were about to eat, the ice cream truck came around! We let the kids pay one more visit to the ice cream truck, they were thrilled!! Once again, kids didn't get to bed til 10:30pm. I'm hoping that changes as the time changes and the days get shorter. I don't know how much longer I can stay up till midnight (or later) just to relax in the peace and quiet :)
I can't believe this is our last night here. We daydream about how to make it last longer, but we must face the fact that it is time to go. We have allowed almost 2 weeks to return home, so maybe we won't have to have everyday be a l-o-n-g driving day. We noted a couple of spots we wanted to stop at on the way home. It will be a fun trek home.

Jack says he can't remember what his toys at home look like, so he's anxious to get home and see those. Taylor is sad to leave, she really likes it here, although she said she wouldn't want to live here because she wouldn't be able to go swimming. The high school has a very nice pool here, but I have to say, there is a difference between always having to swim indoors and getting to swim at the lake or outdoor pool when it's super hot out.
The only thing we didn't accomplish was a Glacier Cruise to see the Columbia Glacier and possibly whales. I guess we'll just have to wait til next time. We did see/do a lot in a short amount of time, even though it was raining, cloudy and cold (for us) 90% of the time. It was a great stay in Valdez, great campground with fantastic views! I wouldn't change a thing and can't wait to come back again!!
Nathan can't wait to come back and explore more with the Salmon sharks too! He had a great experience and got some great shots of a shark that is hard to photograph!
Not sure if I'll have time/opportunity to write as we drive home as internet gets sketchy. Our tentative goal for tomorrow is Tok...pretty easy day. Maybe the Salmon Bake will be open this time?!
Charlene: The only new news I have on our daughter is that she took another trip to Calico beach recently and loved the pool. That's about it. LaWanna will return to Haiti tomorrow (Mon.), yeah!!

VALDEZ: Sat. 8/1

1. Nathan and Jack's fish.
2. N8, T and J looking at spawning fish
3. N8, T and J at Allison Point by the hatchery
4. T and J on the sciff ready for a ride.
Today, Nathan woke up bright and early for some reason, so he got the kids up and fed. He then made Taylor and I eggs. Yum! Then we all walked down to the dock to the Captain's boat and helped bring the shark cage back to the motorhome. Nathan had already taken it apart on a beach out by where they were diving, the parts just needed transported to the motorhome. The kids were great helpers.
We then got ready to run errands in town like try and return the tanks he borrowed, get another fishing pole, 2 life jackets and more gear, eat, get gas, a coffee and a block of ice (yet another suggestion from a seasoned fisherman).
Nathan's Captain said we could borrow his sciff for the weekend, so we loaded our gear for a day of fishing (even though it was already 1pm). We headed out for a river Nathan had been told about. We found it, but found it to be too shallow to get near, so we turned around. We did get to see nesting seagulls, a couple of oystercatchers (birds) and icebergs from thenearby glacier. The kids loved seeing the little icebergs. Just like with clouds, they guess what they looked like! We attempted some fishing nearby, but it just wasn't working, so we headed back towards town. The waters were so rough, it made fishing near impossible. We were going to just boat over to where the kids and I have been fishing, but Taylor said she was getting seasick, so we just went back to the dock, unloaded our gear and drove over to Allison Point.
We went to the spot where our neighbor had suggested in hopes of lots of fish and a few bears, but the waves were rough, the wind was brisk and there were no fish. So, we hopped back in the Jeep and went to our regular spot. Lo and behold, Jack landed a fish!! BUT, a guy we had just talked to said keep only the fish that have a silver color, not green or dark. This one was green, so we through her back. We could see tons of fish at the edge and they all looked inedible, so we gave up our fishing endeaver, hopped in the Jeep and drove up and down Allison Point looking foe bears, again no luck. We ate a picnic supper by the hatchery (again hoping for a bear), then headed home.

Nathan continued to clean/store his gear, I did some laundry at the laundromat (1st time! Love the RV washer/dryer) and the kids rode their bikes around the motorhome.

Needless to say, everyone is tired. One more full day in Valdez before we leave on Monday. Lots to do to prepare for a 2 week journey home and still lots to do to explore. What to do...


Saturday, August 1, 2009

VALDEZ: Fri. 7/31

Today was another full day! We woke up early (Jack slept with me it!), ate and headed out to go fishing. We stopped on our way to watch some bald eagles (1st 2 pics above), then went to our spot to fish. T & J fished for awhile, then ended up just playing on the boulders. They pretended certain rocks were the houses, kitchens, bedrooms, etc. It was great. No fish caught this morning.

We left and went to the pool so the kids could participate in "diving for gold" as part of the Gold Rush Days celebration. They had so much fun doing that! There were two stones that had red dots on the bottom and they earned the collector a special prize. They had two rounds of diving. Taylor collected lots of 'gold' each time (pic #3). Her swimming lessons have really paid off..she's a good diver as well as swimmer. She collected the special stones both times. Jack was even able to dive down and collect one piece of 'gold' each time (pic#4). Then they had 45 minutes of free swim!!
After showers, we went to the RV to eat lunch, then hopped on our bikes and rode over the the park for a Scavenger Hunt, again part of the Gold Rush Days celebration. Yesterday afternoon after our glorious sunshine, it turned windy and rained hard all night. The rain stopped today, but the wind remained. That bike ride was brisk, Jack didn't care for it, but we forged on. We had a list of 15 things to get. We got 13 in 26 mintues. While we were waiting for the results, we had to get ice cream from the ice cream truck. Jack was 'freezing' but had to get ice cream! Then, the kids got their picture with the King and Queen of the Valdez Gold Rush Days. They were thrilled! (pic#5)

There are 2 ice cream trucks in this town, they drive around with their kiddie songs playing. They drive by the RV about 8:30-9pm every night, the kids just love looking out the window, hoping they'll get a treat.
After the scavenger hunt, we rode over to the Whitney Museum. What a fantastic museum. We played their game where we have to fund 15 items in the museum, the kids had fun with that. We also watched a 45 minute movie about Prince William Sound. It showed glaciers, glaciers calving, avalancehs, lots of different wildlife both land and marine, birds and was a great movie. The kids really enjoyed that too.

We left there and decided to bike through town (I guess Jack forgot how cold he was) and rode through town to the dock and were going to look at the huge ghalibut that were brought in when I hear my name being called! Nathan had just pulled in!! That was the nicest surprise ever! So, the kids and I went down, greeted Nathan, then rode our bikes back to the RV so we could get the Jeep and bring it to the dock to load gear.
As I was getting the Jeep ready, our neighbor (from Austin, TX!) told me his fishing stories and how he had found a great spot that had fish and bears! I filed that info. away and the kids and I went down to the dock to help unload the boat. We brought everything back to the RV and made salmon for supper again. New recipe, a marinade and it turned out pretty good. After hearing Nathan's new stories and looking at his new pictures we all crashed and slept so soundly after a long day!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

VALDEZ: Thu. 7/30 / Charlene

Sun, glorious sun!! We had sunshine and and could see blue skies for a few hours today. Hallelujah!!!

This morning, I set the alarm, go up at 7am, got the kids up, we were at the store by 8:30am. Between the cashier and myself, we figured out the poles well enough to go fishing. Drove through the coffee hut (a regular occurance for some reason), and headed out to our fishing spot. Jack loves to reel, so I would cast and he'd reel. I taught Taylor how to properly cast and keep the string tight when it wants to loosen. About an hour later, Taylor landed a big fish...all by herself!! She had cast and reeled and everything. Right when she had caught the fish a motorhome full of older men stopped and were telling me to get a picture. Do they not know I have about 18 jobs to do when it's just the kids and I fishing? Luckily I had the movie going and caught it on tape. I did snap one picture, but our track record seems to be that everytime I'm worried about pics, the fish get away. Jack suggested we pop the gills right away, I said no, we need to wait. The 5yo was right! Next time we'll bleed the fish right away. Anyway, the filleter at the dock guessed Taylor's fish was about 5lbs. We all caught more, but were only able to land one more. So, after 3 1/2 hours, we decided to go get our 2 fish filleted, vacuum packed and frozen. We'll eat Taylor's fish tomorrow when Nathan gets home. The sun was shining the whole time, it felt so good. I even got a sunburn on the back of my neck (the one day I have my hair in a ponytail)

After getting the fish filleted and frozen or vacuum packed, we came back to the motorhome for lunch. Taylor begs everyday to eat out, but it ranges fro $17-30+ for just the 3 of us for lunch! Jack is on a Golden Grahams kick. He eats it for every meal...normally that wouldn't be okay, but we're on vacation :)

We then grabbed our bikes (still sunny at this point) and rode through town and found 2 nice parks. The kids played at each park for a bit, then we found the natural foods store and picked up some soup the kids really like (organic version of Ramen noodles). Then, found a super cute shop with neat kitchen a couple of those and headed back to the RV. By now it's 5pm, the temp. has dropped a few degrees and it's cloudy!

Back at the RV, we finished our glacier/snow project. I had bought a kit where we could made glaciers and snow. Our 'glaciers' were frozen by now, so I made snow, then they got out their Ice Age animals, transformers, dinosaurs, etc. and played like the toys were in the Ice Age. Note: best to do that craft outside!!!

We ate supper (walnut burgers, ramen soup and Golden Grahams for Jack) and headed to the Civic Center for a movie about the Goldrush. (By now it's raining). Didn't know they never found any gold!! What a trek a lot of men did in search of 'happiness'. It was fascinating. Valdez is celebrating "Gold Rush Days" July 29-Aug.1, so there are lots of fun activities to do.

Stopped by the grocery store for milk and a cooler to store our fish. I learn something new everyday! Today I learned we need to 'bleed the fish' right after catching it and it's best to put it on ice in a cooler. I learned of 'bleeding the fish' a couple of days ago, but learned even more about the procedure today. I had been keeping the fish on a string in the water, but that's not cold enough, so tomorrow, we'll bring a cooler. Tomorrow will be our last chance for fishing. Can't wait!!!

Jack's favorite thing to say right now is.."Don't tell me (it's raining outside)" "Don't tell me (fill in the blank)" It's hilarious. He heard Taylor say it once, now he says it all the time.

LaWanna (Charlene's nanny) is on Facebook! I love facebook! She is in Indiana for a few days, but will go back to Haiti on Monday. She said Charlene is crawling by getting up on both hands and one knee and has been 'crawling' for about a month and a half. She says she is very active and is into everything, even eating..her hands are always trying to grab something. I certainly love news...maybe I'll get more now that LaWanna is on FB. She said she's going to bring a computer back to haiti with her to keep upstairs, because it's too hard to go downstairs to Barbara's computer. Hope it works.


VALDEZ: Wed. 7/29

Woke up late again today (8:30am). Ate b'fst and made banana-oatmeal muffins. Kids were playing well, so we just hung out at the motorhome in the morning. We started our glacier project this morning, froze some 'glaciers'. We'll make snow later. We went into town, chose a different shop to get our 2 poles re-strung (again!), ate lunch at a bakery, picked up our poles and headed out of town. We took Kenai with us again today.

1. Drove about 62 miles to view Pump Station No. 12 of the Alyeska pipeline. (pic.1) Jack was so excited to see the 'real, actual pipeline'. It was so worth it to see the pipeline video the other day! We found an off-road and got to get a little closer to it.

2. Stopped by Worthington Glacier. (pic. 2) We could've walked up to the glacier, at our own risk. When it's just the kids and I, I usually don't do the we walked around for awhile and got back on the road.

3. Checked out Blueberry Lake on the way home...nice, clear lake. The kids could've stayed all day, once again, but fishing was calling, so we got back on the road.

4. After about 4 hours, we made it back to our fishing spot. We ate a picnic supper and found a good spot. Yet another disappointment, only this time, our poles didn't work!! BOTH POLES. I was so stinkin' mad!!! The bigger pole wouldn't reel right, it was stiff and just plain wouldn't reel most of the time. We even had a fish on the line and I had to just grab the line and pull it in that way. The fish ended up getting away. The other pole, I'd turn the crank and it wasn't doing anything, the string wasn't moving at all. Ooohhh, I was ticked!!! I went back to the store and of course, everyone who knows anything about poles/strings/fishing left at 4pm. And none of them are working tomorrow, but they said to see the manager at 8am. You better believe it. I'm about ready to just buy 2 new poles, but I don't want to give either of these 2 businesses my business!!

5. Headed home, kids took showers and we're all headed to bed. I think we're all exhausted.

There seems to be so much to do and so little time. I just don't think we're going to have time for the glacier's all day, 11am-7:30pm, but Valdez has their Gold Rush Days going on now with some fun activities. Plus, they are showing a movie about the Gold Rush that I'd like to see, and the kids to see. The pipeline documentary and the earthquake documentary really made an impression on the kids. There is so much history in this town, it's fun to at least hit on each one briefly (earthquake, pipeline, gold rush, etc.)

Time for bed. The high tide is starting to get later in the evening, but later in the morning too, so the goal for tomorrow, is get to the store early (8am??), then go fishing, otherwise we won't be able to go until 9pm tomorrow. Quite frankly, I run out of steam about 8pm :)

Heard from nathan today. He thought the Captain might come back today, but he didn't, which means nathan didn't. They are going to stay at the lodge out by the cove where they are. he had another fantastic experience today. When I talked to him, he broke up alot on the cell phone, but I think he said he was on snorkel and was surrounded (3?) and had an in-your-face encounter. He was so excited. Can't wait to hear more details. Of course, he's fine and never had a problem. I asked if he was scared, he said no, just excited.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

VALDEZ: Tue. 7/28

Woke up to no rain...although it's still extrememly cloudy, so it probably will rain. Yesterday the clouds were so thick and low, we couldn't even see the mountains and they are right across the street! Nathan headed out about 8am to take the boat back to the "shark" cove. His pole cam he made from scratch has been a huge success. Hopefully he can get some more great shots!

We ate (MO) blueberry pancakes with (AK) birch syrup for b'fst. Which gives me an idea, we need to go pick more salmonberries and put those in our pancakes!

We didn't get going til about noon today. Stopped by the fishing shop, had the poles re- strung with 30lb line this time (12lb line snapped almost every time yesterday). Stopped by for coffee and headed out on a road trip.

1. Stopped by a salmon spawning place, learned about the fish life cycle.
2. Then stopped by the Valdez glacier. Saw kayakers head out toward the glacier. Kids had fun climbing on the rocks on the shore.
3. Then we went down Dayville Rd. where we go fishing. We were told a bear usually shows up between 2:30-3:30pm, so we headed there during that time. We saw a salmon hatchery, tons of salmon and walked the beaches since the tide was out. Never saw the bear.

4. On the road back to the Richardson Hwy. we saw 2 bald eagles!

5. Headed farther up the highway and stopped by Robe River and saw float planes!

6. Went further, entered Keystone Canyon and saw 2 beautiful falls, stopped in front of Bridal Veil Falls and ate a picnic lunch (although the kids sat in back of the jeep and froze)

7. Last stop for today was an old RR tunnel hand carved out. Kids loved it. We then walked across the giant parking lot to see a raging Lowe River and another beautiful waterfall. The kids found 'dirt' although I'm wondering if it's silt or something. anyhow, give my kids (especially Jack) any amount of dirt and they're occupied for hours! I finally had to tell them it was time to go fishing (the only thing that was going to pry them away from their 'dirt')

8. Headed back to Allison Point and got to fishin'. It was a beautiful afternoon (still no sun, but no rain either!). We saw Sea Otters today, as well as the Sea Lions. Taylor was positive she saw a brown bear walk across the road not too far from us, too, but by the time we walked down there, we didn't see it.
We had been fishing for awhile with no luck. The salmon started running right on the shore, so Taylor just stuck her net in and caught one!! She let it go b/c it looked small, but that was our only catch today. Way to go, Taylor!! The water was murkey against the shore, plus it wasn't raining. Maybe the fish bite better when it's raining? Also, the fish shop did a terrible job re-stringing the poles! I spent more time untangling fishing line than actually fishing. We gave up after a couple of hours. After getting back to Valdez, we took the poles to another shop to get re-strung, but nobody was there to do it (it was 8:45pm), so maybe tomorrow.

The plan was to take a day trip and go about 65-72miles outside of town and see all the sites. But, everytime we stopped, the kids just wanted to stay and play, so we'll have to take another day and finish our road trip. We really want to see Worthington Glacier and the Pipeline. Jack is fascinated with the pipeline!

It was a good, exhausting day. There is still so much I want to do, and only 3 days to do it because Nathan gets back Friday night, and his captain is letting us borrow is sciff (?) for the weekend, so we'll be doing that Sat. and Sun., then we leave on Monday. I don't want to leave!!


VALDEZ: Mon. 7/27

Kids and I ate eggs/sausage, went to the grocery store, the quilt shop and the natural foods store. Then we stopped by and watched a documentary about the 1964 earthquake and a documentary on how the pipeline was built. The kids were fascinated even though the earthquake movie was in black and white and the pipeline movie was several years old. They know the pipeline ends in Valdez and they really want to see it, but since 9/11, they are not offering tours anymore. We then ate lunch in the motorhome, made apple muffins and went fishing again in the afternoon. It rained all day, so no bike riding, but it wasn't going to stop us from fishing.

The kids and I found the perfect spot this time. I got the 2 poles all ready, found us a flat rock close to the water, cast, gave the pole to Jack and he got a salmon right away! We reeled it in, I got his picture (see above) and in the excitement of it all, the fish slipped out of his hands and got away. Back to fishing. The fish were biting like crazy. Long story short....we landed several fish, but my line would snap once I went to grab it, so we lost a lot, but were able to keep 3!! We finally had a system down where I'd reel it in and Taylor would try and get it in the net before the line snapped. Jack was ready with the fish beater. I, once again, am no fisherwoman (yet), so all I knew to do was give it a couple of wacks (like the halibut fisherman did), and try and get the hook out (didnt' have a tool) and string a string through the gills to keep the fish in the water to keep them fresh. We lost all 4 lures again today otherwise we would've stayed out longer and caught more for sure! The Sea Lions were everywhere again and were so fun to watch. We even saw one catch a salmon and have it in it's mouth. And the noises they make are so interesting. I love it that the kids are getting to experience all of this!

We went directly to the dock in Valdez, had all 3 filleted and learned we had 2 males and 1 female. The males had been the in streams for a bit. He could tell b/c of the color. The female had good color, so her meat was brighter. I had the 2 males frozen and had the female for supper!! The female was also loaded with eggs, so the filleter told us how to cook the eggs. I fried them in butter with s/p and garlic, the kids really wanted to try them. Taylor didn't like it at all, Jack took quite a few bites, liking it at first, then deciding he didn't like it. There was no way Nathan or I were trying that!!

Nathan called while we were at the 'freezer' for the fish and was on his way in. So, he was able to eat our freshly caught salmon with us...what a treat!

Nathan has had a good experience so far. He has some good shots of these salmon sharks! They are difficult to photograph and don't act like the typical shark. They are completely uninterested in the chum or any kind of bait, which makes it impossible to bring them close to the boat to photograph. So, Nathan happily gets in the water, snorkels to get close, then at one point, he starts to get tired, heads to shore for a break and as he is approaching the rocky beach, he looks up and a big black bear is looking right at him. He still gets out of the water and the bear wanders away...probably wondering what in the world he was looking at.

We had a good few hours listening to Nathan's adventures before it was time for bed. I stayed up til 11pm making more chocolate chip cookies for the guys. I had sent some on Saturday and they were already gone and asking for more. Happy to oblige.


This video is super short, wish I had more, but it's hard to take movies/pics and make sure Jack doesn't end up swimming with the salmon and sea lions. :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

VALDEZ: Sun 7/26

It rained all night (harder than normal), so I woke up 'thinking'. Thinking about how I need to move the bikes under an awning, how I need to find our fishing poles and how I need to get our rain gear out of the Jeep and into the RV (it didn't rain yesterday!!) and how Kenai probably really needs to go out this morning....always something to do!

So, I got up, accomplished all tasks, came back in the motorhome and the kids had gotten up, made and put up their hide-a-bed, made, ate and put away their breakfast and are now playing nicely together with their dinosaurs! They are so awesome.

We went to the local tackle shop and got all geared up for fishing. They strung 2 of our poles for salmon fishing, I purchased the lures, a license and a string to string all of catches! We headed out to Allison Point. First thing I noticed were all of the signs warning people of bears!

I got the first pole strung and it didn't work! (I have done very little fishing in my life and when I have, someone else has always done the work up until actually casting. So, to be out here with 2 kids trying this myself is an accomplishment!) A really nice couple stopped by and he helped me figure out my problem. After that we were good, although the lines on each pole kept getting all tangled. Once I'd get one pole cast and given to jack, I'd go over to Taylor to get her started. Then, jack's pole would be tangled or caught in a rock, then Taylor's pole would do the same. Plus, I had lost 2 lures to rocks and dropped a 3rd in between the boulders we had to climb to get to the water. I had one lure left. The kids ended up playing on the boulders and with the net and I fished. I had one on the line! but I got away. Lots of bites. It's amazing we didn't catch any fish, they were absolutely everywhere. They were jumping and swimming right at our feet. We'll try again another day. Surely we can catch one. We did have fun watching the Sea Lions frolicking nearby in the water. It was a good experience. Still a rainy, dreary day, but we're used to it now.

We're back in the motorhome, the kids have changed out of their wet clothes (didn't heed mama's advice to wear rain gear) and changed into warm PJ's and stood in front of the heaters!

Haven't heard from Nathan. he thought he might have limited cell sevice out where he's at, but doesn't look like it. I don't see how in the world he'd have service in the middle of Prince William Sound! He may be back for a visit tomorrow or Tuesday.


VALDEZ: Sat. 7/25

Today's the day Nathan leaves for his diving expedition! They put the finishing touches on the shark cage last night and got everything loaded on the boat today, left about noon. We didn't see him off b/c a) we were Salmonberry picking and b) the kids had a total meltdown last night over him leaving, so we purposly stayed busy.

The kids and I participated in a program through the Valdez Museum where we went Salmonberry Picking, then went back to the museum to make it in to jam. It was a great time. And it was great to get our minds off of Nathan leaving for a few days. The kids had fun and we came away with 3 jars of jam! We then ate lunch at a restaurant (again, very expensive to eat out!!), toured the Valdez Museum, checked out the library, went to a couple of shops looking for rain boots for Taylor, and went to the dock and watched the dock guys cut up (fillet?) a bunch of Pink Salmon that had been caught today. The kids were fascinated. One really nice lady let Jack hold one of her Salmon (got a picture!), then the kids watched it get filleted. They were most interested in the part when all the leftover fish parts got pushed down the chute by a powerful surge of water to where the seagulls were patiently waiting.

We spend the rest of the evening in the motorhome and just played.


Friday, July 24, 2009

VALDEZ: 7/24/09

Today was a good day. As we were leaving to get groceries for N8's epic trip, we saw a Grizzly Bear trot across the marsh in front of our motorhome (maybe 1/4 mile away). Of course, we took off looking for it. We bought some bear spray and headed down a trail where we thought it might be. We never did find it, but Nathan took another way and found tracks. It was definitely a Grizzly (he's practically a bear expert!).

We did make it to the grocery store and Nathan is now off with the other divers and boat captain looking at the shark cage. It's time for the kids and I to go for a walk. They are having a blast together, but are having a 'pillow fight' with nathan's scrunched up sleeping bags. Kind of a rough game in such a small space. Can't believe neither one has gotten hurt yet.

It's still rainy...a constant drizzle actually and about 52 degrees. Nice and chilly.


Thursday, July 23, 2009


Today is Thursday 7/23, but here's a recap since Monday (since we haven't had internet)

Mon. 7/20: Pink Mountain, BC - North of Watson Lake, Yukon. 479miles/12hour day.
AlCan was good to Fort Nelson, then it got rough. Went through some horrible contruction (extremely dusTy/dangerous), but made it through okay. Ft. Nelson - Watson Lake was PRIME wildlife viewing (thanks for the heads-up, Sandra!) We saw: black bear, caribou, Stone sheep, moose, beaver, beaver dams, buffalo, fox and grouse.

Tue. 7/21: Watson Lake, Yukon - Haines Junction. 356miles/9hour day
We didn't cover as many miles, but stopped for a bit at the Continental Divide and stopped at a fantastic museum in Whitehorse. It was about Beringia and the ice age...we learned a lot! We took a walk in Haines Junction on a paved road into town and found a bakery/cafe/coffee shop/ice cream shop/store. T and J got ice cream (even though they were cold) and N8 and I got coffees. It was a nice walk and a cute town. Stays light til 11p-12a, so we don't even notice how late it is!

Wed. 7/22: Haines Junction, Yukon - VALDEZ, ALASKA. 547miles/12.5 hour day
This was a l-o-n-g day, but so worth it. 547 miles is a good day, but SUPER impressive when driven on the AlCan, over frost heaves going 40miles/hour, in a big RV. It was cool (chilly!), cloudy and rainy most of the way from Tok. We planned on staying in Tok, even fueled up and got coffee at a little coffee shack, but noticed the Salmon Bake was closed, so we decided to move on. What's another 256 miles (Tok-Valdez) when you've already driven 3700?? We arrived at our campground in Valdez at 10:15pm (Alaska time).

We never had to unhook the Jeep!! And we only ate out once, something we wish we didn't even's so much more pleasant (and fast, and cheaper) to just snack in the RV and keep going.

TOTAL MILES: 4016.9 (taking 8 full days)

Today, Thu. 7/23, it is cold (high 40's) and raining. We are right next to the marina which is handy in case Nathan does get to come back during his 7 days on the water, he can just walk 'home'. We have a beautiful view of the mountains and the water. We've already taken a walk into town and eaten breakfast. Our choices were bacon or ham, cheese, and egg sandwich or wrap. We all had a sandwich, the kids each got a drink, N8 got a coffee and I got a water. $38.oo. Whoa. We won't being doing much of that!


Sunday, July 19, 2009


Sun. 7/19: Whitecourt, Alberta - Pink Mountain, BC: 400 miles (2635.5 TOT)

We made it onto the AlCan today!! It has been good roads so far. It rained most of today and was chilly! Completely opposite of 95 and humid that we're used to.

We are at a campground now enjoying a campfire and some campers' choice music. We went for a bike ride, then Nathan went for a bike ride for a few miles on the AlCan! We are now sitting amongst a million little bugs...they are everywhere. But we're covered in bug spray and sitting next to a lit can of OFF (it doesn't help).

Our goal tomorrow will be Watson Lake (well over 400 miles), but we'll see what kind of roads we encounter tomorrow.

The kids are having fun! They play well together (for the most part) and travel extrememly well.

We got two new pics of Charlene today...bittersweet. I haven't had internet working on my Blackberry for about 2 days, but we get out here in the middle of nowhere Canada and it worked! Glad for that, so I could see pics of our girl.


Saturday, July 18, 2009


We are headed to Alaska (driving the RV) so Nathan can dive with Salmon sharks.

We left the night of July 14th and drove 2 1/2 hours to Peculiar, MO, just to get out of town. From there...

Wed. 7/15: Peculiar, MO - Kennebec, SD: 563 miles
Thu. 7/16: Kennebec, SD - Billings, MT: 553 miles
Fri. 7/17: Billings, MT - Shelby, MT: 421 miles (stopped at WM and a museum)
Sat. 7/18: Shelby, MT - Whitecourt, Alberta: 531 miles
(2235 miles so far)

Valdez is approx. 3600 miles, so only about 1435 miles to go...over half way there!

We haven't stopped much, we eat in the RV and keep driving. Kids are doing AWESOME. They play most of the time and only watch a cartoon in the afternoons.

I'll post more as internet allows. Getting up into remote territory tomorrow and beyond...


Trip to Haiti

I should've been updating while in Haiti but internet was scarce. I'll try and recap quickly..although i could write a book on everything I saw/experienced.

Key people to note:

Charlene: our daughter!
Vera: gal who helps run orphanage/paperwork (American)
Barbara: gal who started/runs orphanage (American)
Milan: haitian gal who helps with paperwork/translations
Zack: we stayed at his apt., rented 2 rooms

"Village": where Charlene stays
"Creche": orphanage down the road affiliated with the Village

Day 1: Dad and I arrived in Port-au-Prince (PAP) in afternoon. Met by Vera and Charlene!! and a nanny. Such a sweet experience getting to see/hold Charlene for the first time. She was with us the whole time after that point. Went to Zack's apt. to unload.

Day 2: Vera and Barbara picked up Dad, Charlene and I around 9:30am or so. They took us to the one and only tourist shop we would visit, then we ran errands in PAP all day, checking on adoption paperwork. We picked up Milan also, so there were always 4 of us in the back of a toyota p/u in 95 degree muggy heat with no a/c. Went to 2 grocery stores, got supplies for the orphanage, dropped them off at the Village and went back to Zack's. Vera made us dinner (spicy spaghetti). Zack's apt is not air conditioned, so it was hard to eat hot, spicy spaghetti in such a hot kitchen.

Day 3: Vera and Barbara picked us up around 11am or so. Ran errands all day again.

Day 4: Vera and Barbara and Milan picked us up and we went up the mountainside to feel the cooler weather.

Day 5: Vera and Barbara picked us up and we all went to the beach.

Day 6: We got dropped off at the airport about 9am at which point I had to give Charlene back.

There's TONS more to write about, but that's it in a nutshell. Charlene did AWESOME the entire time being in the truck carted all over everywhere. We all sweated buckets! Charlene was so sweet, loved to play and roll on the floor and play with my camera strap and Zack's keys. She slept so good, never fussed about 2 white people coming and taking over her care in a new environment for a few days! I was able to feed her cereal for the first time and take her in the ocean for the first time. Dad fed her mango juice too!

I absolutely can't wait to bring her home. The desperation really set in while I was there, but there is nothing I can do but PRAY!. So, I/We pray for her, her caregivers and for the paperwork to go through all channels quickly, smoothly and without problems.