Inspiration's Journey Home Page

Malia's Journal Updates

Alaska - Part 2

May 21 -
June 7, 2003

Journal Updates


Columbia, SC
Blue Ridge Parkway
Computer Crash!

2005 - 2006
Happy New Year
Hawk's Message
I'm Published!
Sharing Spring
Ways of Writing
Edmonds, WA
Degenerate Neck
Desert Depression
Post Quartzsite
Grandma Malia

2003 - 2004
Alaska Planning
Alaska 1
Alaska 2
Alaska 3
Alaska 4
Alaska 5
Alaska 6
Alaska 7
BC & Alberta
To Lower 48
2004 Recap
Giving Thanks

2001 - 2002
Inspiration's Off!
To Charleston
N. Carolina
To Orlando
Florida Tour
Back in Austin
Albuq. to WA


On the Way (Canada)

Alaska at Last!

Tok to Valdez

  Mineral Creek
  Lu-Lu Belle Cruise

Russian River

  Misc. Pics

Whittier Road

Portage Glacier

Backyard Bear!

  Kenai Cruise

  Flightsee Denali

Denali Nat'l Park

Kluane Lake

Cassiar Hwy. Bear
  Highway Scenes

  Waterfall Road

Jasper Nat'l Park
  Maligne Lake

Icefields Parkway
  Athabasca Falls
  Athabasca Glacier
  Overnight at Glacier
  Lake Louis Road
  Lake Louise

Banff, Alberta

Johnston Canyon

Misc. Pics

Fireweed Pics

Skagway (side trip)
  White Pass RR
  Return Trip

Alaska Journaling

My Article About
This Alaska Trip

These are misc. journal entries written while in Alaska (besides the ones included with the picture pages)

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 - Mineral Creek Canyon

Today was the warmest one yet - in a sweat shirt and light wind jacket I was perfectly comfortable. I visited a couple of tour guides to see if they would trade office services for a glacier tour, but no luck there as it's still too early in the season for them to need help. A nice lady did tell me about a little known road through Mineral Creek Canyon, so I took the car up there. It was a beautiful rustic drive with an even more rustic road, so I was about to turn back after a few miles when I encountered snow covering the bridge. A local couple and another guy in a 4 wheel drive came by and we stopped and talked by the side of the road for a while. Turns out the guy has been working here for a couple of years, but he is from Houston. He's the 4th person I've met from Texas since I've been here. When I stopped at the store before taking off to the canyon, I was admiring the eagles again when another picture-taking woman joined me. She and her husband (Chuck and Kalyn) are Escapee full-timers from Texas, also! I told them I was going up the canyon and they said they'd drive up there in their Jeep after they put up their groceries.

The Houston guy I met on the road (Richard) offered me a ride in the 4-wheel drive so I could see the rest of the 10 mile road, so I used my psychic powers to see if he was an ax murderer or something, and decided to take the chance. My judgment turned out to be good and the road was worth the risk, it was so beautiful. The canyon was filled with icy waterfalls that ended in huge snowbanks, but spring was creeping up the mountain bringing bright green colors with it. The road was really narrow and rough and in places just enough had been cleared to drive through a 10 foot high bank of snow on either side. There were gurgling streams that we hiked a little bit around and kept a watch out for black bears that were said to be in the area.

On the way back, we came across a pickup truck driven by local teenagers who asked if we wanted to see the bear they shot on the side of the road. The poor thing was dead in the back of the truck and it just broke my heart to see its glassy eyes and bloody fur. You might know the only person to see a bear that day was one who wanted to destroy it, take its life, not just admire it and take its picture.

Then we saw the other couple from Texas, Chuck & Kalyn, in their Jeep. They said they'd seen my car at the side of the road and were looking for me to make sure I hadn't gotten eaten by a bear. I was so touched by their concern and asked them to come visit me later that evening. They came by and wanted to see the sea otters, but they weren't being cooperative that night. We had a great visit, though, and they're going to be in Kenai and Homer during the time that I'm there, also, so I'm glad I'll be running into them again.

Thursday, May 22, 2003 - Bald Eagle Day

This morning as I was having my coffee by the water, I felt a presence unlike the seagulls I'm used to. I looked up and soaring not far above my head was a bald eagle! Those bright white heads and tails are instantly recognizable and always so exciting to see. He had such a commanding aura and it was amusing to watch the seagulls dogging him because I guess he was too close for comfort to a nest or something. Then, here comes another one! It looked like they kinda greeted each other in mid air before going separate ways. I even got a picture of one flying over my home. Then I looked around toward the office and could see about 6 of them flying around and I grabbed the binoculars and camera and took off for the short walk there. It was an amazing sight, for sure! Compared to the frantic flapping of the seagulls' wings, their flight is just so smooth, graceful and effortless.

Later in the day I walked down by the wharf while my flat tire was being fixed. There were at least a dozen of them flying around by the end of the harbor and I just sat there with my binoculars spying on and admiring them for almost an hour.

Not only this beautiful day convinced me to stay here another week, but Kathy (one of the owners here) told me they were going to be one of the booking agents for the best glacier wildlife cruise in the area and her employees were getting to go on one for free. She's calling me her RV customer consultant and is taking me with them! How cool, huh?

Friday, May 23, 2003 - Allison Point

This morning I had coffee on a fishing boat, the C Hardy. Its captain, Dick, had been introduced to me by Richard. He and his partner, Carl, actually live in Phoenix and Arkansas, respectively, but spend the summers here running fishing charters. I enjoyed visiting with them and meeting the other captains who dropped by for a morning visit.

I then took a drive out to Allison Point, on the other side of the bay. I wanted to see if I could find my house and take a picture of it from that side of the water. I noticed then that my camera was making funny noises and showed an error message on the screen, but it appeared to still be taking pictures. I stopped at another museum that is loaded with local artifacts, but it was just too perfectly pretty a day to be inside, so decided I'd save that for a rainy day. I could not believe the difference in the same scenery I saw just a week ago. I guess because of the long light days, the greenery just explodes all at once it seems.

When I got back to the house, I saw an SUV with Texas plates driving through the parking lot, so I flagged them down and we sat outside and visited bayside for almost 2 hours pointing out eagles flying by. Woody & Genie are from Waco, but they have recently started full-timing also. They've been staying at a state campground, but they're coming here for a couple of days starting tomorrow and they're also going to join me on the Lu-Lu Belle cruise on Sunday. If I ever thought I'd be lonesome on the road by myself, boy, was I wrong!

Saturday, May 24, 2003 - Problem solving day

When I downloaded the pictures I took yesterday, I realized they were worthless and helplessly out of focus. I reached HP on the telephone, and they said that error message 108 was "unresolvable" and I'd have to send the camera in for repair, which would take about 6-8 weeks. I explained that I was on a once-in-a-lifetime Alaska vacation and couldn't she understand that was just not an acceptable solution? She suggested buying another camera in the meantime, but I told her that was beyond-budget for sure and since I had all the extra accessories, etc. for this kind, the chances were I'd never find one in this tiny Alaskan town. She truly sympathized and finally agreed to send me a new camera by FedEx that I will receive by Tuesday. Tell me that wasn't an angel and a miracle all wrapped in one!

I had decided I would postpone going on the cruise because I knew it would be frustrating not being able to take pictures. But Woody & Genie came up with another solution. They would take the digital pictures with their camera and I could download them on my computer. Actually, it was an unbelievable stroke of synchronicity - their computer crapped out and just would not come on this morning, so they could not download the pics they had in their camera, and would soon run out of room and not be able to take any more. Since I have a CD burner, I am able to download their pics on my hard drive, burn them on a CD so that they can have them when their computer is fixed, so it's a win-win situation both ways. Funny and wonderful how that happens sometimes.

However, the problem solving still took up the rest of my day. When I talked to my mom, she told me I had been getting notices from my RV insurance company that my insurance would lapse soon due to non-payment. Since I had paid it in full before leaving Portland, I knew there was some kind of error, but I could not reach them by telephone on the weekend (when I have free minutes of course), so I composed a letter for email and documentation purposes.

My bank also screwed up and began charging me monthly fees that are not supposed to be part of the deal, so I'm sending them a letter also. These little glitches that are part of life are certainly a lot more difficult to handle when you have irregular cell phone service (that's giving me battery problems, also!) and expensive internet connections. Oh, well, that's part of life on the road, I guess.

It's been cloudy and rainy all day, however, so it made it a little easier to stay inside. I sure hope it clears up for the cruise tomorrow, though. This is the first day of rain in the whole week I've been here and the locals say that I've been pretty lucky in that regard. I'm a glutton for good luck, though, so I still hope for clear skies tomorrow.

Sunday, May 25, 2003 - Lu-Lu Belle Glacier Cruise

Well, my prayers were answered in more ways than one. It was perfect cruising weather - sunny with just enough white puffy clouds ringing the mountains to make the view even more varied and interesting. Of course, it was quite chilly and windy on the water, but I brought enough clothes to stay reasonably warm, anyway. My four Texas comrades joined me for the day and that just made it all the more fun. Today was Woody and Genie's 47th wedding anniversary! Chuck & Kalyn have been married 18 years - those two couples are almost enough to bolster my faith in marriage! Not enough to convince me that I could ever live in such a small space with another human being, though. I am amazed at how well they handle it - they're still all lovey-dovey and touchy-feely. Even when I found out Chuck & Kalyn are "bogus" Texans - only registered their RV in Livingston for better tax treatment as full-timers - they are such cool people, I couldn't hold that against them. :-)

It was really a Texan hoot & a holler to find out that of the total 20 or so passengers, 14 of us were Texans! There was a large Mexican family on board who were from San Antonio and they said when they left there last week, the temperature was in the mid 90's - that made the glacier breezes seem more bearable, for sure. We took a group picture in front of the iceberg-laden waters in front of the glacier.

It was the season's maiden voyage of the Lu-Lu Belle, the aptly named "Limousine of Prince William Sound." Because Captain Fred wasn't tired of tourists yet, he spent the entire day on the water showing us the Columbia Glacier, cruising through uniquely ice-blue iceberg waters, locating sea otters, sea lions, whales, and taking us in for close-ups of beautiful sea caves and waterfall dotted shorelines. A real treat was seeing a bald eagle sitting regally on top of an iceberg in the middle of the ocean.

With its plush atmosphere of teak, mahogany and oriental rugs, the Lu-Lu Belle means cruising in style, for sure. Because I had shared a promo piece I wrote for Sea Otter RV Park which included info on their cruise, and because I had lassoed my 4 Texas friends to join me as paying passengers, they gifted me not only with the comp cruise, but a DVD recording of it. Captain Fred and his beautiful wife Megan are Seattle natives who live on the boat during the winter in Seattle, and spend the summer working here hosting the glacier/wildlife cruise. I've really enjoyed meeting and spending some time with these great people and hearing their interesting stories.

Another strange thing was that my camera even decided to work on the cruise, so I took almost 70 pictures besides the ones I got from Woody & Genie's efforts. When we got back into the harbor, the skies had turned gray again and it rained the rest of the night. Genie graciously invited me to eat a fantastic dinner she had the crock pot prepare while we were gone, and that was the grand finale to a grand day. By then, it was 10:30 at night and I was so exhausted, all I could do was thank God for the clear sailing we had all day and the great new friends I had to share it with.

May 29, 2003 - Preparing to leave Valdez

As I sit here looking at this incredible view and watching the sun move across the sky (that's as close as you get to a sunset here) I fall in love all over again with Valdez. This really was an inspired choice for my first major stop in Alaska. Yesterday I walked a trail by the water called Dock Point Trail. I can't tell you how many pictures I've taken of the mountains ringing this harbor - every day they look different and every vantage point gives a different but equally beautiful perspective.

The owners and staff here at Sea Otter have truly gone above and beyond the call of duty in making my stay a great one. Besides letting me park lengthwise so that I am engulfed by the view, they have all been so friendly and helpful with anything I've needed a hand with. It's such a shame that the park will no longer exist in another 5-6 years. The lease from the city expires then and the plan is to turn this into more harbor space for the hundreds of boats on the waiting list to dock here.

I received my replacement camera today and hope this one doesn't develop the same "unresolveable" problem. Although it seemed to have resolved itself somehow, as it had begun working on its own after a full day of being broken, so who knows? I still chose to take the new camera, of course.

So I'll be taking off as soon as I'm ready in the morning and will take a couple of days to get to Anchorage, where I'll stay at least a couple of days. It turns out an old friend from Austin is visiting his sister there during the next couple of weeks, so I'm going to visit them. Woody and Genie left here yesterday and will be there, also, so I look forward to meeting up with them again. I'm going to spend my time in Anchorage at Ship Creek Landing, a less expensive park than the one I had planned on for July. That will give me a chance to check it out and see if it would be an acceptable alternative. It's closer to downtown, but the railroad tracks look pretty close to it, also, so the preview will be enlightening.

May 30, 2003 - From Valdez to Glenallen

I woke several times last night listening to the driving rain on my roof. I made up my mind to stay another day if it continued because no way was I going to brave Thompson's Pass in the pouring rain. I had built up a dread of that pass when I went down its long white face on the way to Valdez. The clouds melded in with the snow on the ground and I didn't like the feeling of not being able to see anything but white except for the road right ahead - it was too disorienting. When I got to the bottom, still having to use my brakes even though in second gear, I began right then to dread the climb back up because it looked so steep and went on for so long. It was definitely the longest, steepest climb I've encountered in my two years on the road. Every time I'd think about it I'd get a little sick feeling in my stomach and had visions of me slipping down it backwards.

Thank God it was another case of me dreading something that didn't deserve the worry and fear I inflicted upon myself. By the time I was ready to leave at 10:00 this morning, the clouds had parted and it was another beautiful day in Alaska.

I had promised the owner of the Lu-Lu Belle that I would drop off some of their brochures at the Worthington Glacier visitors center near the Pass and I am so glad I had that assignment because I probably would not have stopped there again. The center been closed when I came through 2 weeks ago, but I had stopped then and thought I had seen the glacier. Wrong - this time the weather was clear and I was able to walk the trail that I hadn't even seen before (it was probably covered with snow like everything else then - just 2 short weeks ago.) There were nice little benches on the side of the trail where you could sit and contemplate the ancient glacier and the shimmering pond that reflected it.

I could not believe how many people on bicycles I saw on that road - some obviously going cross-country because they were trailing their little tents and bundles behind them. Even a couple of weeks ago, I saw a few going across the desolate part of BC and the Yukon and gave thanks again that I get to travel in such comfort and style with such relative safety.

The wildflowers have just started blooming and I saw lupines lining the road in places. They look so much like the Texas bluebonnets that I know must be pretty there this time of year, also.

So it was like a new drive even though the first 100 miles was the same road I had been down in getting to Valdez. It was great when I took the turn at Glenallen to be on a road I had never been on before, though. I still get these waves of amazement that I am actually in Alaska. I got to thinking of a part of the glacier cruise I had forgotten to write about before. A friend of Woody's had died recently and his widow asked them to spread the ashes in the waters of Alaska because that had been a longtime fantasy of his. I asked them why he had never taken the trip and they said because his wife didn't want to come to someplace so cold. I wonder if she now regrets her part in preventing him from fulfilling that dream of his. It was moving to see Woody entrust his friend to the sea and it strengthened my joy in being alive and able to see the things I am so blessed to see.

I only drove 150 miles today and it's only another 150 miles to Anchorage, but Woody advised to cut the trip in half because the second part is full of construction delays and bumpy roads. I was glad to follow that advice because there was one 10 mile stretch where the road hugged a mountainside with a rather large drop down the other side. There was only one lane and traffic had to be led by a pilot car. It did my heart good to see so many women handling huge road machinery and we cheerily waved to one another.

I'm now in a park near Glenallen and when I checked in I met some nice people from California that have been coming here for 18 years. I'm going to have dinner with them and swap travel tales. I'm so glad RVers are such open and friendly people - it lets me have company when I want it and alone time when I go home - the best of both worlds!

June 3, 2003 - Leaving Anchorage

After the past month in the wilderness of the Yukon and then in small-town Valdez, Anchorage really seemed like a big city when I first arrived here - it was exciting just driving on a smooth paved four lane highway coming into town. And it was interesting the contrast between how the mountains look from an uncrowded roadway than how they look from a city full of buildings.

As nice as it's been to have a choice of more than two stores to shop in, I can already tell Anchorage is not where I would want to spend the bulk of my time in Alaska. As Keala and I discussed after she arrived in Oahu, it's like thinking you've seen Hawaii after seeing only Honolulu. The difference between Oahu and Maui is the same as the difference between Valdez and Anchorage - almost like two different planets - definitely two extremely different experiences of the same state.

It was also good to catch up with my Texas compadres: Woody & Genie and Chuck & Kalyn. I knew Woody and Genie were here, but it was a nice surprise resulting in a nice visit with Chuck and Kalyn once we discovered they were at the same park also. They all left a couple of days ago, but they're headed in the same direction I am, so no doubt we'll meet up again.

I really did enjoy seeing John and Anthony at his sister's house on Sunday. I got to meet a bunch of really cool people and hear their stories about how they came to live in Alaska. They threw a great party with outrageous amounts of delicious food and I really had a blast. However, I can honestly say as much as I've loved the scenery and the people here, there's no way I could spend one winter here, much less live here. The best way I can describe it is that it's just way too isolated a feel for me here.

In writing that, I thought how strange that I never felt that way living in Maui for over 3 years. Hawaii is certainly as far removed with fewer options on getting there, as well as having a lot less space. I remember hearing of people having "island fever" there who just couldn't get over an almost claustrophobic feel to being in that small a space completely surrounded by water. I never experienced that, but I believe I would here for some reason. So it's not the amount of the space, but the feeling of isolation that gets to me here. Maybe it's because towns are so far apart. Maybe also because Maui feels warm, tame and gentle compared to cold, wild and rustic Alaska.

Whatever - I suppose comparisions aren't necessary anyway, but still interesting to play with. I'm having a blast with all the new experiences this different type of trip has provided me. It's different not having to work - it's different traveling totally by myself - I'm living in a completely different landscape than anything I've ever experienced before - and at this point different feels good. If life is about change and growth, then doing something different must be part of that process, so at least I feel like I'm accomplishing that.

Off to small town Alaska experience again tomorrow - I'm looking forward to that! I think Woody and Genie are in Cooper Landing, which is on my way to Kenai so I may end up only going 150 miles tomorrow, which is just fine with me. I know there are longer drives in my near-enough future, so going slow sounds good about now.

June 4, 2003 - Russian River National Forest Campground

I decided I wanted to be able to boondock whenever possible, so I decided to bite the financial bullet and buy new house batteries. Even though I had been checking the water level on the ones I had, one of the cells went dry and would no longer hold a charge. I'm glad I found out when I was in Anchorage where I was able to get 2 golfcart type batteries, and one more worry removed is a good thing. Whew! And I can testify from experience that if you happen to need batteries while in Anchorage, I highly recommend Battery Specialists - and tell Mike I said hi!

Russian River is a great park. There are posted warnings everywhere about the presence of bears here and to make noise when you're on the trails, etc. The literature says basically bears are pretty shy and don't generally seek confrontations with humans, unless surprised or if you come between a mom and her cub. Even though I've been disappointed that I haven't seen all the bears on the road that others have said they've seen, I really wouldn't want to see one unless I'm in the safety of my house looking out the window, so I haven't ventured far on foot. But these surroundings just look ripe for bears, so I hope to see one maybe in the morning with my coffee. This is just such a nice spot, I may explore it a little bit more tomorrow. One nice thing about such parks is that checkout is not until 2:00 and I don't have far to go tomorrow, so can leave late or even decide to stay another night.

It's pretty deserted here with just a few of the spots taken, but it feels safe and nice and I'm not even afraid - or at least not very much. I walked around a little as I moved spots to get closer to the sound of the water and now the birds are chirping and I bet I sleep good tonight. I feel like I've scored a victory by breaking through some of the limitations I had placed on myself due to fear lately, and that always makes me feel pretty good.

June 5, 2003 - Rainy Russian River

Surely this must be a miraculous day. It's raining and I'm not griping about it. I could hear the rain on the roof all night long and it hasn't let up. But I'm enjoying this deserted spot in the middle of this beautiful forest so much that I don't much care about leaving anyway. It's so very peaceful and quiet here with beautiful woodsy views through every window, a huge level parking spot and I have plenty of every type of fuel necessary to stay as long as I want to. There are nice walking trails down to the river and if the rain lets up, I'd like to explore around here a bit, anyway. Besides, even though it was only 2 miles off the main road, it was a tight winding enough road for me not to care for driving it in the rain if given a choice. Who knows what the weather will be like tomorrow, but I have allotted the entire month of June to exploring this peninsula, so I have lots of time. Mom doesn't arrive into Anchorage until the 19th, so there are lots of options for staying down here longer if I want to.

I'm thrilled that my new batteries kept a charge all night, even while running the heater, so I feel a lot more confident about my renewed ability to dry camp. The generator started right up this morning and I ran it for about two hours to keep it happy, but I'm glad to be able to turn it off because it's so noisy. I still keep hoping I'll see a bear or moose from my window - this sure looks like the kind of spot for that possibility. There are beautiful birds like I've never seen before and I even though I can't identify them with my bird encyclopedia, I still enjoy their nameless beautiful sights and sounds.

When I went to pay for my second day, I met one of the camp hosts, Carol. We hit it off like old friends right away and ended up hiking the afternoon together. Later she came by "doing her rounds" and dropped off some homemade goodies - what a great new friend! I gotta get in shape to keep up with this woman, though. She's 8 years older than me and I had to keep telling her to slow down and let me catch my breath. She said she just loves to walk and hike but her husband doesn't, and she was just as happy to have a walking companion as I was. Both of us were a little disappointed we didn't see any bears, even though we did see some fresh organic evidence of their passing (bear crap).

So, since I have somebody fun to play with, I might just stay another day or so. Again, I just love having these kind of options! It's so great to be able to just follow my whims of the moment - to go and stay as I choose and just let heart and intuition lead my next move. Being able to live this kind of free life even for just a summer is such a gift!

June 6, 2003 - Kenai's Mouth

This morning, while I was having my first cup of coffee at the picnic table overlooking the mountains and river, Carol came by and brought me some homemade banana bread. That was a most welcome breakfast treat and along with it came an invitation to go with her to explore the campground a bit on our bikes.

And it was great to get to meet some of her friends from the area. Two women from the northeast are here with their husbands for the summer volunteering with the Stream Watch branch of the National Forest Service here. We admired Ron's handiwork on the squirrel feeder he had made, then we took off hiking again.

She wanted to show me the mouth of the river where the Kenai and the Russian Rivers come together. It was so interesting to see the vividly different colors of each - the Kenai has that cool blue glacier water look and the Russian is more clear, reflecting the deep green growth and brown rocks beneath it. She pointed out a few of the red salmon that are just now starting to arrive in the area. She said in another couple of weeks this area would just be a madhouse of fishermen lining the shores, with bears in abundance then, competing for the mass of salmon spawning upstream.

She showed me the Russian River ferry, basically a small metal basket thing which is operated by an overhand pulley system. They ferry fishermen the short distance to the river's opposite banks where they ready their lines to cast precisely at one minute past midnight on the 15th when the fishing season officially opens. They are not picked up again until the next crossing at 6:00 the next morning, hopefully with their limit. I'm told that Alaskan fishing laws are the most complex and unintelligible anywhere, so good luck in figuring out what limit you might be breaking.

I was glad to be able to see these beautiful rivers and this great national forest park while they're quiet before the explosion of fishing season. I will definitely come back through here on my way back to Anchorage to see Carol again and see the changes a month can bring.

I think Carol's more disappointed than I am that we haven't seen any bears since I've been here. She knows how much I want to see one, but preferably in a very non-threatening situation. After our walk, we drove through Cooper Landing, which took about 3 blinks, then out to a local fancy lodge along a very scenic drive and setting with beautiful mountain views. On the way we saw a moose on the side of the road and I was thrilled - this was the second one I saw but the first one I could see really well since Carol was driving and I was able to get a pretty good picture of it.

I just realized recently that the 4 moose I thought I saw on the BC road here and wrote about are actually caribou. I had heard caribou are actually reindeer and I didn't picture them so big, so I thought what I had seen must be moose. It wasn't until I showed the picture to a local of the "moose" I had seen, that I informed that moose are even bigger.

So today getting to see an actual for-real moose just munching grass on the side of the road right down the street from my house, I understood the difference. He didn't have the big antlers, but he was one big honking moose! Carol even turned around and we went back to get the picture. He had moved a little when we stopped, but was still visible until we had to move with the traffic. So that was exciting, but seeing a bear in the wild is definitely my holy grail mission now. I may try to do the barter thing again in Kenai to do one of those bear flightsee tours to Kodiak Island or Katmai. It worked getting me on the Lu-Lu Belle in Valdez, so it's worth a try.

Wow, it's been so nice at this park for the past 3 nights - it's gorgeous, I've had a great time with a new friend and I'm looking forward to seeing more of this area's beauty as I move south to Kenai tomorrow. It was so nice of Carol to make me one of her allowed guests on my last night here, as I especially like free rent. My new batteries are performing beautifully and I've decided I really like staying in parks like this and am so glad that option is open to me again.

June 7, 2003

I was all ready to hit the road today, but when Carol came by at 1:00, she invited me to the picnic the forest service was throwing for the camp hosts and volunteers. So I had a yummy lunch and met a bunch of other neat people. It's getting to be a real joke (although not really funny to me) that everybody talks about all the animals they've seen - bears walking through the campground, mamma moose with brand new babies strolling around - and I'm the only one not spotting them! Carol is determined to show me a bear, so she talked me into staying another night at half price so we can go bike riding later on and see what we can see.

Boy, I've really enjoyed her and her husband, Ron - what a great couple! It's so wonderful to make such instant and great friendships that I hope to maintain thanks to the wonder of email and cell phones.

Part of the miracle of this journey for me has been the lessons I have learned from the people I've been blessed to meet. So often we take it as fact that the people who come into our lives come simply by happenstance, by "accident." One of the basic tenets of metaphysics says there are no accidents and that everything happens for a purpose. God knows that since I talk to rocks and believe mountains are alive, it is no surprise that I believe strongly that every single person I meet, especially in this type of journey, carries with them a gift for me and vice versa. I've had the term "inspiration" come up so much in the way people describe their reaction to what I'm doing. But all along the way, that's exactly what I've gotten from the people I've met along the road. Just in Alaska alone:

Woody and Genie being married for 47 years and still obviously in love - what an inspiration for me, a charter member of the Cynical About Lasting Love Ever Being Possible Club. Plus just the way they took me under their wings and kept me informed of road conditions and other useful info as they paved the way - truly joyful people to be around.

Chuck & Kalyn loving their traveling lifestyle and each other - I just instantly felt comfortable with them like I'd known them for years. They're the best kind of friends - the kind that make me laugh - especially with Chuck's ever-so-accurate portrayals of some of the lesser-known attractions that Alaska provides.

I nearly died laughing at what he wrote in his update about our Anchorage home:

"We now find ourselves enjoying the wonder and grandeur of Anchorage, Alaska and, more specifically, the Ship Creek RV Park. Nestled on the fringe of the industrial district and overlooking the Alaska railroad right of way, it is a definite stop for anyone visiting the area in an RV. Throughout the day we have jumbo jets flying overhead and slowing above our campsite so we can enjoy the roar of gigantic jet engines. You mix this with the sound and vibration caused by the Alaska RR trains running through our backyard interspersed with the high pitched prop whine of float planes which buzz us at about 200 feet, then all it takes is the sputter and choking of the antique riding lawnmower they maintain our campground with to complete this picture of total harmony with nature ……… This is the side of Alaska that is never mentioned in any of the travel brochures. :-)

Then he includes a picture of his rig with the train running behind it - what a sad but true and hilarious portrayal of this convenient but uninspiring RV park in downtown Anchorage!

And his comment about eating buffalo burger:

"A bite out of either of these tasty treats leads you to wonder why the hell we hunted these critters at all, much less to the brink of extinction!!"

It's been great fun to run into them along the road and no doubt we'll meet again. As big as Alaska is, we "Texans" can't seem to miss each other out here.

And then my last encounter with Carol - what an inspiration she is! I guess since I've been feeling my age lately, she served as an amazing example of how in shape you can be if you make the effort. She took away my ability to continue my copout attitude that it's only natural to just stop doing some of the things that are getting a little more physically uncomfortable as I age. I could not keep up with her and I wanna be just like her when I grow up. What great people - what great lessons!
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