She Said–Travelogue–Trip to Alaska–Tuesday, August 7, 2012

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(To read the first entry in this series click here.)

Wednesday August 8th, 2012.

Here I sit. In the middle of nowhere. As Andrew said when we pulled our rented RV in this spot yesterday evening, “we have arrived…..to the middle of nowhere” 🙂 As I type this, I have no cell phone service whatsoever, but that’s ok. No internet either. I took a shower a while ago, (I will add in a shower that will be quite a challenge for the tall guy since I was ducking to not hit my head) but no hair straightener, no blow dryer (of course I brought them, but I cannot use them) and no makeup. I suppose I could put that on, but what IS the point? I don’t think Andrew notices anyway and so then it would just be for me, there certainly isn’t anyone else around!

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Andrew left probably 25 minutes ago, armed with his metal detector, a pick, his phone (obviously not to call me if he had trouble, but I told him it would still take pictures if he saw something cool), and a fire extinguisher. He figures if he gets charged by a bear, perhaps the large plume of smoke will fend the thing off long enough for him to get away??? Oh, and I guess the pick is dual purpose too.

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Petersville Bridge at Peter’s Creek

We are at Peters Creek. Petersville was a big place in the gold rush days. I guess I used the word “big” lightly. It was a popular mining camp, I think the actual population of Petersville is single digits at this time. We are 19 miles off the main “road” that heads from Anchorage to Denali and on to Fairbanks. The road veers to the left (which I think is along the lines of northwest, but I’m not for positive because this fancy camper is not equipped with a compass, and I tried to download an app for a compass, but lost good service before it finished downloading).

We have this great book that David and Danelle were kind enough to give to us, that details these 19 miles (and a whole slew of other places in Alaska) very well. We could see that at mile 2.7 was the north country bed and breakfast, at mile 6.3 there was an oil well in road, at 11.6 there were large gravel turnouts on either side of the road, at 13.4 we begin steep downhill westbound (aHa, so we were going west), slow for sharp curve, at mile 13.8 they warn, “No “winter” maintenance beyond this point Oct 15- June1. Travel beyond this point not recommended, if you must use this road trailers/campers not recommended”. So it was helpful. Although we didn’t heed the recommendation that we not travel past mile 13.8, and we kept going. We made it all the way past the historic Forks Roadhouse, which recently burned down, and traveled on to Peters Creek. It is beautiful here. We are all alone. There was a couple fishing, but they obviously didn’t intend to camp. We pulled off to the left of the Petersville Bridge and into a clearing right by the fast flowing creek.

For anyone who knows me at all, I usually am talking to someone. On the phone, emailing someone, talking (hopefully just talking) to the kids, listening to other people talk, ie radio, iTunes ect. While I do have access to iTunes, I am sitting here writing with nothing at all but the sound of the creek flowing by. It is marvelous. I am keeping my eyes open for bear, although I have not seen any yet, and my ears open for Andrew. It is chilly. But I still have a window cracked to hear the creek.

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The road continues beyond the bridge for another 18 miles according to our handy-dandy book, but even Andrew adventurous as he is, was not about to attempt driving a rented camper across the Peters Bridge. The construction seemed fine, but the grade to get up to it and the narrow width didn’t seem like a good idea. I can see two fire pits made of rocks from where I sit and I know there is another behind our camper. So I know we are not the only people ever to camp here.

Our first night in this RV, last night, was a bit of an adventure. First of all, we are not sure what time zone we are in. So despite the fact that the clock said 6 when we arrived here, we were feeling quite sleepy. We started figuring out which way we could sleep on this bed and have Tall Guy remotely comfortable. Taking into consideration what side of each other we’ve slept on for 8.5 years, we practiced a few ideas before finding the one we thought we’d try for the night. One problem solved, on to the next.

Not only is it only 6pm in Alaska, and 10pm at home, it doesn’t get dark here till about 11. So that’s another 5 hours away and we aren’t real used to falling asleep in the broad daylight. Our fancy camper has blinds, but they aren’t really what you would call “area darkening”. Room darkening seemed a little inaccurate a term for the spot where the bed was. So we fiddled around for quite sometime with the various cushions we could pull off of things and piece together to try to cover the windows. But those ideas all made the bed even smaller, and considering it wasn’t as big as Drew’s full-size bed at home, making it even smaller just didn’t seem like a good idea.

The “curtains” on the windows, or should I say valances, were secured right tight to the cabinets above them, so using some of our extra sheets and throwing them overtop of the rod wasn’t going to work either. Andrew sat quietly, pondering something, while I fiddled away. I tried to take one of the lighter weight blankets and feed it through the blinds in between all the draw cords. But that hardly seemed secure. First of all, it was borderline damaging to the fancy blinds, and one bump from a back or a foot and those sheets were going to fall right down. Andrew has an idea. Feed the sheets through the bottom part of the blind, when they are all the way down. The part that is pretty strong, and when you have it all pushed through the different spots, pull the blinds open to secure the sheet in there, like a curtain. Bingo. I am so glad I married such an ingenious dude.

Now it was nice and dark in our sleeping area.  Perfect.  We weren’t sure what time zone to eat on either, and had had two meals that day, and didn’t feel like making anything, but we were hungry, so we ate a bowl of cereal before we went to bed.  I think we slept ok.  I’m pretty sure we were both awake for good by 4am Alaska time.  It was still fairly dark out, and while we were awake, we were freezing, so we pulled another blanket over ourselves and cozied in for another hour.

Noses freezing we dragged ourselves out of bed around 5am.  We started rattling around deciding what to make for breakfast.  I pulled out some sausage and the carton of eggs we bought at Wal-Mart in Eagle River yesterday afternoon.  Funny story about that trip to Wal-Mart.  Andrew and I were walking around trying to decide what food we should buy, feeling like the trip we made to Meijer on our way home from our honeymoon, and this nice lady, probably in her 60’s, looked at Andrew, lifted her fist in the air and said, “go MOTT!”

Andrew was wearing his navy blue with maize lettered shirt that says “all in for Michigan, all in for Mott” that we got from MOTT children’s hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, when Emma had jaw surgery there in March. (This surgery was to cut both sides of her jaw and move it forward 13mm.  This was a move to help correct severe obstructive sleep apnea.  “Extra oral vertical ramus osteotomy”….if you want to look it up)

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Andrew whipped around and acknowledged her, and I said, you know about that hospital?  She said, “sure, my husband works there.”  I asked her what he does and she told me that he runs the maintenance department there, or something like that.

So we chatted a bit and found out they were in the same boat we were.  Trying to decide what kind of food to buy to have in their RV and they were headed for Denali National Park when they left Wal-Mart.  I was so excited, here in Eagle River Alaska, a couple from the other side of Michigan who had rented an RV just like us!  We were not crazy!!!

Anyway, breakfast.  We attempted to be practical at Wal-Mart and not buy a container of everything possible, knowing we only had a week.  So, $91 later, (their food is between a third to half again more expensive as ours), we left Wal-Mart with the “essentials”.  One tub of butter, 18 eggs, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, seedless raspberry jam, two pounds of ground beef, two boxes of hamburger helper, (which I generally quit buying, but what can I say?  It is like all-inclusive), a gallon of milk, a container of OJ, two packages of yogurt, a bag of grapes, a bag of baby carrots, (which I may add were grown in GRANT, MI), salt & pepper, two gallons of drinking water, some tea bag coffee things to add to boiling water, a can of baked beans, two boxes of cereal, a bag of potato chips, a couple packages of dried pineapple, a package of uncooked sausage links, three potatoes and a squishy package of ketchup.  Oh, and I musant forget, two 20oz bottles of diet dew, which needs to last until I see civilization again.

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Anyway, breakfast….  I took out 5 sausages and started boiling them in some water.  I like to get them started that way, so they aren’t burned around the edges by the time the middle is cooked.  It worked well and by the time the water had evaporated, the sausages were ready to brown.  Once they started browning I cracked a few eggs in the pan, not a very big one by the way, thinking that the sausage would have lent enough grease to the pan that the eggs wouldn’t stick too bad.  I was wrong and those first three eggs had a nice brownness to the outsides, but that was ok.  About this point Andrew asks if we can cut up a potato and fry it up too.  Well, we have one frying pan and its in use and I can’t really cut up a potato while I am tending to eggs.  So he cut up the potato and started cooking it in a saucepan in some boiling water to get the process going.  I took my sausages and three eggs out of the pan and put them on a plate on the stove to try to keep them warm.  I threw a nice chunk of tub butter, which I bought because I certainly hoped we would not need an entire pound of butter to eat between the two of us in 7 days, and added two more eggs.

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I wouldn’t be much of a Roossinck if I didn’t take a picture of what were we eating….it was the tall guy’s idea..

Andrew was apparently hungry.  The potatoes were coming along nicely so I had him drain the water and just threw a hefty hunk of butter in those so they didn’t stick too bad.  They did stick, but they were still yummy.  It wasn’t long and we were sitting across from each other at our table with eggs, sausage, and potatoes.  Andrew had coffee made from coffee tea bags in a water glass…we learned we didn’t have a mug, and I had some OJ.  It was a great breakfast.

After we were done eating Andrew read the second chapter of first John.  While I was listening to him read I looked behind his head and saw the thermostat.  Off.  Hmm….waking up with an ice-cold nose wasn’t all that necessary.  After he finished reading and the appropriate amount of “ponder what you read” time had gone by, I asked him to flip the switch behind his head.  In a matter of less than five minutes our camper was toasty warm. It wasn’t too long after the camper got warmed up that Andrew decided to bundle up, strap on the metal detector to see what he could find.

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Time has gone by since I started writing this and we have long left Peter’s Creek.  Now we are sitting along side the Denali highway 80 miles from the park.  We have had some spectacular views of the mountain, and a lot of other mountains also as it is an absolutely beautiful clear day.  I think Andrew is waiting for me to say, “let skip Denali park, we’ve already had plenty of great pictures of the mountain”, but I’m really not feeling that way.  I haven’t seen more than a coyote since we got here, and despite my probably irrational fears of bears, I would like to see some large wildlife.  Seems like the park just might be a good place to do that.

–Eileen

To be continued. . .

We are on day three of the Alaska Adventure and no bears yet–but a fire extinguisher and pick axe just in case.  We had a hearty breakfast, and The Tall Guy kind of fit in the bed.  No gold and no bears yet, but we still have a few more days.  Another post in Travelogue Series coming soon.

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