Cave Dwellings: April 2014
Cave Dwellings

Buckhorn Creek, Lake O' The Pines, Jefferson, TX

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Waxing nostalgic….North To Alaska

  Since nothing much of interest is happening around here, (with the exception of the Wind Gods trying to rip everything off our back deck and front porch ), I will take myself down memory lane in this blog.  I urge you to enlarge every photo to really see it…These were taken with a regular old 35mm camera and sometimes the big old zoom lens! 

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Me..and Denali………………………………Den at Long Rifle Lodge, Athabascan Glacier………Stellar seals on our whale watching boat ride in Seward.

In the year 2002, Dennis and I decided to plan a driving trip to Alaska.  We had no camper then.  We owned a 1999 Chevrolet Silverado, short bed, NO extended cab,  pick up truck.  I began planning our trip in the Spring of that year.  We purchased the recommended book to do a driving trip to Alaska, The 2002 Milepost.  That is a great book for anyone traveling in that direction! Being a former travel agent, I got online and made us reservations all the way, leaving Sandwich August 18th and getting back on Sept. 18th.  11,000 miles in one month…and we did it! This still remains our all-time favorite trip we have EVER taken, going all the way to Prudhoe Bay and touring the oil fields by bus.  This was the first time since 9/11 that they  had opened up tours again, but you  had to take a school bus “driving tour”.  Here is a thumbnail (albeit a long one) summary of our trip…mostly in photos!

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Roadside Salmon lunches…………………………Middle, the “office” at our cabin at Carlo Creek Lodge….and, third….The Great One, Denali…amazing.

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Let me just give you a little background on the Alaskan Highway….

“The Alaska Highway (also known as the Alaskan Highway, Alaska-Canadian Highway, or ALCAN Highway) was constructed during World War II for the purpose of connecting the contiguous United States to Alaska through Canada. It begins at the junction with several Canadian highways in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, via Whitehorse, Yukon. Completed in 1942 at a length of approximately 2,700 kilometers (1,700 mi), as of 2012 it is 2,232 km (1,387 mi) long. The difference in distance is due to constant reconstruction of the highway, which has rerouted and straightened out numerous sections. The highway was opened to the public in 1948.  It is legendary over many decades for being a rough, challenging drive.”

We stayed one night in Coldfoot on the way up, (we were the only small truck there, all semis except us), then one night in Deadhorse , back in Coldfoot one night on the way back, and then in Fairbanks.  You’d better make sure you had extra fuel, water, food and a few extra tires for this trip…no bathroom stops.  I peed on the tundra once and just a little ways down the road we saw a grizzly…sheesh!

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Left, we stopped along the “Haul Road” for a pop from our cooler in the back of the truck.  Notice that our silver truck was brown with mud and dust…and if you look waaaay up the road, you can see where we were headed, and the Alaskan pipeline running alongside to the right of the road.  We put our luggage in the back of the truck and by the time we got back from the round trip to Deadhorse and back to Fairbanks we had to shake out all our  dust covered clothes, get the oil changed and take our Silverado through the Fairbanks carwash!

I wouldn’t trade this trip for anything!! We just followed the pipeline as it stayed right next to us, every so often it dipped and dove under the river to the other side…You could see a truck coming 10 miles away by the dust cloud.  We were advised by natives to give the semis a wide berth and pull off to the right shoulder if you could.  Many people have come back from this trip with cracked windshields from those big trucks.  They don’t call it The Haul Road for nothin’!

I now feel the need for a collage!


My Scans

After we crossed the Brooks Range and went North, we saw herds of Musk Ox, Caribou, Mountain Goats… The ground foliage was absolutely “on fire”, being it was Sept 3rd, 4th and 5th, it was peak color for Alaska. In fact the place we stayed at in Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay) was closing for the Winter the day after we left.

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Left, we are approaching the Brooks Range.  I cannot imaging crossing that range in the Winter, but the big truckers do!…A lot of the Haul Road was gravel back then…and oh…the wildlife!

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Guy on the left was posing for us….in the middle is the beautiful tundra ablaze with color..and right is one of our “luxury” hotels in the Yukon.

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The Alaska pipeline dives under the river…….MacGyver using the last outhouse before we got on the Haul Road…and right is another of our first class accommodations.

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We drove for miles with no cars in sight….and the Grizzly Bears were foraging for food, preparing for the looooong Winter ahead..We spotted this one along the Haul Road..He was one big bear!

I could go on and on…OK, I have just a couple more up  my sleeve…WAKE UP!!!!

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This sign greeted us just North of Fairbanks..but we just kept going…That sign Den is pointing to says “Bears spotted in area recently”…

OK, OK, I’m almost done! I need to tell you that my Uncle Walt was an Air Force Master Sergeant, and was stationed in Alaska during the war.  In fact he helped build the Alaska Highway. The United States was fearful that the enemy would try to get to North America and come in somehow via Alaska.  While he and Aunt Edy were there in 1948, they had their photo taken along the road….I wanted Den and I to re-create that photo….


…My Aunt Edy and Uncle Walt, Alaskan Hwy, taken 1948……………………….Me and MacGyver, Alaskan Hwy, taken Sept., 2002

I leave you with this quote, which pretty much says it all:

“There is on word of advice and caution to be given those intending to visit Alaska..If you are old, go- by all means, but if you are young, wait.  The scenery of Alaska is much grander than anything else of it’s kind in the world, and it is not wise to dull one’s capacity for enjoyment by seeing the finest first.”

                                                                                                                                             ~Henry Gannett, Harrison Expedition 1899

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bunnies, dogs, horses and Caves

Easter Cave-A-Palooza 2014  began Good Friday at 6PM when the Wolff family drove in from Zionsville, and next came the Caves, then the Heisers…I had made some chorizo nachos for snacks and of course we had a campfire! Saturday we had the same cast of characters return to the scene of the crime..with the exception of Kelly and Cindy. They spent Easter weekend and 3 more days in Lost Wages (Las Vegas).As usual, it is hard to put our family celebrations into words, and I hear that ONE picture is worth 1000 of them. I will now post more than just one, however…

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Our niece, Leanne and her hubby Tom brought their new puppy, Molly..

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Later in the afternoon, we were invited out to Steve and Bobbie’s Horse Farm to watch Bobbie training for Dressage.  Yep….Kids, dogs and all, we drove out to see all the horses..

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Bobbie was taking instruction from a woman who teaches Dressage…Bobbie competes and won a National Blue Ribbon with the horse pictured below..

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Above is Bobbie riding Estrella, the National Champion…beautiful animal…The kids had to be quiet (good luck with that) while Bobbie was ridingAND we didn’t want to spook the horse. Also because she was receiving directions from her instructor, who spoke to Bobbie through a wireless headset..See the photo below….


After creating organized bedlam at the horse barns, we came back to the Cave Casa for more food, fun and….another campfire…

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Our big celebration was Saturday before Easter because Chris, John and boys had to do the 4 hours back to Indiana, and they had a family party to attend down there…By Monday morning (after a day of picking up inside and out), I thought Den and I would relax..WRONG!..Den has been having some trouble with our bedroom and living room slide in the Hiker..He chose to work on the bedroom slide, and that meant taking the mattress off the bed, and cleaning EVERYTHING out from under the bed. (We stash lots of stuff under there!)  Then he took the screws off the bed frame and pulled the whole darn thing away from the wall…Here is another case of “pictures worth lots of words”..Especially when you try to put a 6’1” framed body into a very small space. I guess a collage is best here….


Long story short….he got it adjusted…And that is why he is called “MacGyver”..


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Bit Behind ….AGAIN!

I seem to find it more difficult lately to sit my arse down at the computer chair and write a blog…This could be because some of the stuff I would write about might just be interesting to ME, and no one else…Since we got home here, my mood and attitude have managed to bottom out..I wish I could say that about my blood pressure!

Since I am still having thyroid issues, my Endocrinologist wanted to see me when we got home..I called right away  at the end of March to make my appointment. It seems she is “out of the office” until May 5th…I guess I get to celebrate Cinco de Mayo getting my neck palpated. I would much rather be in Goliad, TX, drinking Margaritas by the campfire with my private strolling Mariachi, MacGyvergonzalas.  I wonder if I could just carry a flask of them with me to the office appt?..No, you’re right..bad idea.

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I was busy last weekend cleaning off the front porch and our deck, getting our patio furniture out.  I sat on our front porch last Saturday AM for my morning cup of Joe..

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The view wasn’t exactly what I had been used to in Texas, but it would have to do…We even had our Sunday breakfast on our porch…then by afternoon it began to rain…

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I couldn’t post Den’s first picture I took…He was giving me the “table for 1” hand signal..It seems I’m no the only one with a bad attitude, right? By Monday our wind switched and the bottom fell out of our nice warm weather…And by Tuesday morning, well, take a look at our deck.

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As our daughter-in-law would say….”SERIOUSLY????

As I mentioned above, my blood pressure did NOT improve while on our Winter trip. This was very disappointing. I know we had been under some stress, but I thought it would correct itself once Dennis and I were on the road…NOPE. It took us a couple weeks to “unwind” ourselves from stuff back at home, and I thought that about middle of January we finally had our camping cadence (even though my BP was no better, my demeanor was  mending). Then we got some crumby news that our niece had been diagnosed with Lung Cancer, stage 4…That will take the wind out of your sails in a hurry. We spoke with her by  phone, and she assured us,“There is NO reason for you guys to come home!! I am doing my Chemo and following all orders per the Doc. I better not see your asses back in Illinois until April 1st!”. Ya gotta know Leo to love her…And yes, she is doing well…and they just got a new Black Lab puppy!

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I’ll bet none of you have a “potting bench” built into the tailgate of a truck!..and…your own potter!

I did feel that my BP issue needed to be addressed before May 5th, so I went and saw our GP here in Sandwich. Dr. Erik knows that my pressure used to be low…I was barely alive until last year. Then it took off like Ol’ Faithful…Due to my family history, (Mom died age 64, Dad died age 67, Mom’s Dad, my Grampa, died age 52…all from heart attacks), Dr. Erik thought it best to put me on some BP meds…I wasn’t fond of the idea, but I’m also not fond of “strokin’ out” at this young age…I  hate pills, but …I guess this is the least of one’s problems and I am very lucky to be in pretty darn good health at my extended  years…Hard to believe I’ll be 66 years old this May


Who IS this person???

“You know you're old when someone compliments you on your alligator shoes, and you're barefoot.”

                                                                                                                                                                                   ~Phyllis  Diller