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!