Another post from the Alaskan Traveloque Series. If you are just joining or want to re read any of the posts, here are the links. And now for our feature presentation. . .
Oooops. Forgive me. I thought I had posted this. Then I looked for the last post and couldn’t find it anywhere. Then finally, I found it in the “drafts” folder–which is why I thought I had posted it. So again. For those of you waiting for the last installment of the Alaska Adventure, it is finally here.
Monday was a fairly uneventful day. Andrew pretty much made breakfast on his own and pretended he was serving me. So I had my very own “tall order cook”. 🙂 After breakfast was done and cleaned up, we drove to the resurrection pass in Hope–where there are some good trails. Andrew decided to look around for gold again, and I pretty much stayed at the camper doing some stuff on the computer and listening to the creek. I wandered off to find him a few times, and mostly was unsuccessful. I felt like we were losing steam. Andrew was a little dejected, because I think he thought it would be really easy to find gold, or at least a lot easier than it proved to be, and I was bummed because it was Monday afternoon and I still hadn’t seen a bear.
We left Hope around 3, and had tentative arrangements to meet David and Danelle in Eagle River for dinner. We were going to sleep there our last night and hopefully enjoy a full length, full width, high clearance bed before we spent the night on a plane. We drove towards Anchorage, stopping in Girdwood at the gas station to get the RV a little closer to ready to drop off Tuesday morning. I took a few pictures of trees that were petrified looking due to the Good Friday earthquake many years ago. The trees got hammered with saltwater and that it why they look the way they do.
Not far from Girdwood, we saw people pulled over on the side of the road and it looked like they were taking pictures. I was SO hoping we would see a bear walking the ridgeline of the cliff or SOMETHING. Nope, it was a goat, but still, we hadn’t seen one yet, so I snapped a picture. We drove through Anchorage, on to Eagle River and found a gas station with quite reasonable gas, so we filled up the RV.
$150+ later, we were driving around the corner to Pizza Man. David and Danelle pulled in at the same time. We enjoyed a leisurely dinner with them, and can you believe it? It was quite warm in there!
We had a nice time chatting with them about our adventures and hearing about some of their adventures throughout the past week. We finally quit talking long enough to leave the restaurant and drive back to their house. I kept my eyes glued to the window as we got closer to their house since that was where Andrew had seen the black bear a week previous. I came up empty.
We parked our RV at the end of their driveway and sorted through our stuff so we didn’t bring all of it up their driveway. Their driveway is fairly steep–nothing to sneeze at in the winter time. We hauled our stuff in and Danelle was kind enough to let me do a load of laundry. Once we got that going, three of us plus the dogs went for a short little hike up a couple roads beyond their house to look over the Eagle River valley. Andrew and I were both pretending not to be out of breath while we were doing this with Danelle and the dogs. Danelle was chatting along, not the least bit out of breath, about this peak and that peak and answering all of the questions we asked in between shallow breaths. Those poor dogs were really not sure about us. We were probably ¾ of the way to where we intended to turnaround on our hike before they stopped peering back at us, all nerved that we might talk to them or try to touch them.
They kind of reminded me of Mary (my daughter). Some people who don’t know her think she is a total grump, but that’s a bummer because she really is quite fun as long as she isn’t petrified of you. We turned around and went back, which I knew was steep enough it wasn’t really going to be much less work going down than it had been going up. But it felt great to do something physical after spending several hours driving, and then sitting and eating.
(Zoe and Woody on our walk. I should know which is which, but I don’t. L Zoe let me pet her when we got back–for about 1.2 seconds.)
We chatted for a few more minutes and Danelle showed us pictures from a run she had completed last summer. Absolutely crazy. I think I know some runners, but wow. 24-26 miles through the mountains, fording a glacial river several times and you are on your own. If you fall and severally injure yourself, you may or may not get help. You should see the waiver you sign before participating. You have to sign things regarding the executor of your will. If you don’t finish in 6 hours, they don’t consider that you finished. They only allow 140 people to participate and there are some fairly stiff prerequisites to even being able to sign up. If you don’t make the first 4 miles in 60 minutes or less, you give them your race number and turn around and go home. They won’t let you continue. So much for a 5K being any sort of accomplishment! It was very interesting to hear about anyway. 🙂 I think now I’ve spent enough time with Danelle to confirm that her zest for life would, in fact, brush off on you if you lived anywhere near her.
Tuesday August 14, 2012
We got up early enough to snap a picture of David and Danelle together before David had to leave for work. We hung around for another hour while Danelle made us a yummy breakfast of waffles and fruit. We figured we’d better leave at 8am to be on the safe side since our RV was due back at 9. We made it with plenty of time to spare, and were able to finish packing our bags up good. The original plan was to leave our bags at the RV place and catch a ride somewhere interesting in Anchorage. Andrew decided it might be best just to head to the airport and check our bags in there, and then take a bus or something. We went to the airport and were dropped off only to discover that United Airlines was not open until 12:00. It was 10:10. With no other option than to pay a bunch of money for someone to store our bags for us until we came back, we ended up sitting at the airport. It was kind of a bummer and felt like a total waste of a day, but now we are officially on our way home, and I guess it wasn’t so bad. I took a picture on my phone of a large grizzly bear on display at the Ted Stevens Airport. Pathetic. David and Danelle. So glad we were able to get to know them!
Alaska is a really neat state. We enjoyed learning the things that are different there from Michigan. The landscape, obviously. The fact that every third person is carrying a backpack that they would probably fit inside of. The fact that it is illegal to have more than 5 people tailing you on the highway. You have to pull over and let them pass. Holding up traffic is not cool. I can see why, because there are minimal roads, almost no alternate routes and not very many good places to pass. It is super easy to be a tourist in Alaska. Anyone could do it. You need two things. One-the book we borrowed from David and Danelle. And two-a decent pairs of eyes. There are signs all along the highway that have a camera on them. Usually accompanied with an arrow and a footage marker. So you know, that up ahead on the right 1000 feet there is a good spot to pull over and take a picture. Obviously, they think there is something worth taking a picture of. Or, you just look around and observe, like we did and find other people pulled over along the highway and you will know if they are glued to their cameras there is probably something cool to shoot. One more thing. Along the highway, especially if you are heading north of Anchorage, every third vehicle is an RV. We apparently are not the only people who thought exploring the state in an RV was a good idea. Oh, I almost forgot. Andrew would like me to mention that the dump truck beds dump sideways. We think we may have an explanation for that, after 8 days of pondering, but we are not sure. Even a woman we talked to whose husband drives one wasn’t totally clear on the reason why they dump off the side instead of out the back.
We are headed to San Francisco and after a couple hours there, we will get on a plane to Chicago. Then HOME. This trip was great. We had a lot of fun, we saw a LOT of things, we had BEAUTIFUL weather, we met some great friends, and we enjoyed the freedom we had without our kids. But after a full 9 days, we are ready to be home. Ready to get some hugs from our kids. Ready to sleep in our bed. Ready to get back to work. We really enjoyed this vacation without our kids. This is the first time we have done anything like this. We never would have been able to travel the way we did with them along. I haven’t added it up yet, but Andrew thinks we drove somewhere around 1200 miles in 7 days.
But our kids are a part of us. I felt a little like I wanted to wear a sign that said, “I have three kids in Michigan and they are a pile of fun”. It’s not JUST us. This is not our family. I realized how much I was starting to miss them towards the end of the week. After we got some great Denali pictures and they were on the computer, I changed the computer wallpaper to one of the Denali photos.
My mom periodically sent pictures of the kids and what they were up to, and when I got one of the three of them together, sitting on the lap of my tired looking dad, I changed my wallpaper. Denali was breathtaking, the whole state (at least what we saw of it) was incredible. But have you ever heard the song that goes, “the view I love the most is from my front porch looking in”? So I think this trip was good for me. I realize what the best part of our earthly life is. Not where we are, but who we are with. I’m sure I will probably be counting the days until school starts much too soon after we get home, but I am so looking forward to the hugs and cuddles we are planning to get when we walk through the door.
I never did see my bear.
Thanks for joining us in our adventure,