Hope all is going well in your world! We have been pretty busy since last time I wrote but this page will get you caught up on some great happenings!
When last I was in the mood to write, Kenny and I were heading to Tucson, AZ, to celebrate the wedding of Sam and Debe’s daughter, Kayla. It was a great opportunity to see the cousins and their children, Kenny’s brothers and our sisters-in-law and enjoy the wonderful energy from the gathering of the family. The venue was Saguaro Buttes which is adjacent to Saguaro National Park so the backdrop for the ceremony was stunning. We all had a great time!
The night prior to the wedding, Sam and Debe hosted the cousins (and their significant others) to an intimate dinner for all of us to spend some quality time together prior to the wedding festivities. It was a memorable wedding, reception, and time for all to gather together. What a wonderful, joyful event! Congratulations to Kayla and and her new husband on their marriage! Thank you for inviting us to join you!
Prior to the wedding, we found some time to visit the gorgeous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. As described on their website, the museum is a “fusion experience: zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium.” It is an absolute gem and a “must-see” anytime you are anywhere near it. With the seasons, the whole terrain changes as do the wildlife sightings in the zoo areas.
From the wedding, we took the RV quickly to Las Vegas in order to fly to Boston to attend the baby shower for our middle daughter (Nikki) and her husband (Dan). This is their first child and Logan William Pokora made his arrival on May 21. More later on this!
The shower was beautiful and was held at Arthur and Ilona’s (Dan’s parents) home in Plymouth, MA. On a clear day, from their roof, you can see to Provincetown on the Cape! There was lots of yummy food and desserts and Nikki and Dan received so many wonderful presents for the coming arrival of Logan. Thanks go out to all who made the journey to Plymouth and to Arthur and Ilona for all their hard work in preparation of this memorable event.
Following the shower, Kenny and I headed back to Las Vegas to begin our journey to Bryce Canyon to start our WorkKamper positions at Bryce Valley KOA in Cannonville, Utah. We had a quick stop in Sedona, AZ, and were able to take in some nice little hikes, and visited the Arizona Copper Art Museum in Clarksdale (well worth a stop!).
We arrived at the Bryce Valley Cannonville KOA and love our site which is our home until September 30! We are nestled within the scenic cliffs of Grand Staircase-Escalante and surrounded by daily and nightly beauty! The night sky here is breathtaking. Without the presence of light, the constellations provide a show for all to enjoy! Our team members are fun to work with, and the “work” is quite fun! We have guests from all over the world and all walks of life so we meet new people everyday!
When Logan arrived, the KOA team here picked up our hours to ensure that Kenny and I were able to travel to Framingham to meet our newest grandson!
It is so wonderful to hold a newborn again. Logan came into this world at 8.14 #, 20 inches, with a full head of dark hair! So adorable!!! Kenny and I were able to spend quality one-on-one time with Logan, Nikki, and Dan during the week we were there. The Sunday after we arrived, our oldest daughter (Zoe), her husband (Aaron), and one of our grandsons (Dylan) spent a great family fun day with us. We did miss our oldest grandson, (Tristan was sick) and, of course, our youngest daughter, Katie (lives in Hawaii). We played “putterball” and “cornhole” between periods of Logan sleep time.
We had a great dinner and visit with Arthur and Ilona and they are as happy as we are with Logan arriving to join the family. It was great catching up with them while we visited. It was such a very special time for us and every minute was precious! We have been video chatting every few days to watch Logan grow since our return to Utah. Honestly, we could watch him all day. And, we are so proud to see what loving, relaxed, and attentive parents Nikki and Dan are.
Until next time, we raise glasses and toast:
To our newest grandson, Logan William Pokora! Welcome to this crazy world!
We hope all is well in your worlds! For those that are having difficulties, please know that we keep you in our prayers.
Kenny and I just left our winter campground and are back on the road heading to Tucson, AZ, to attend the wedding of Ken’s cousin Debe’s daughter Kayla. It should be quite the event as there are many family members attending. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again!
I am writing today to share some highlights from our time in Flagler Beach, FL, just in case you are ever in the area.
On a cool day, Kenny, Susan, Mark, Jackie, Billy, and I went to the Jacksonville Zoo. It was spectacular! I enjoyed it more than the Bronx or San Diego Zoo. They had both animal and garden exhibits and the park was laid out well. The enclosures were spacious and, for the most part, the animals were quite close to see and photograph. You can even feed the giraffes (for $2) which, of course, we did. There were many animals I had never heard of and certainly never seen before! We strongly suggest that you visit Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens if you are ever in the area. (Note: Susan and Mark are our friends from Palm Coast and Jackie and Billy, my sister and brother-in-law, were vacationing in St. Augustineso they could join us.)
Another fun time was going to Escape U, which is an Escape Room in St. Augustine. We went with Susan and Mark and, no, we did not escape! There are several different escape rooms each having their own theme. We choose the Save the Fleet room where we had to escape from three different rooms and then power up the lighthouse beacon in order to safely guide the fleet into port before the hurricane hits. Our team had to find and identify clues, locate keys, solve puzzles and work together to escape. Each of us had different ways of looking at things so all contributed to our partial success. We made it to the third room but we weren’t able to power up the beacon before our time ran out. Bummer! No worries, the game was fun and very challenging and I will certainly go to another escape room in the future. (Note: There are sometimes Groupons available so check that out before going.)
We paddled several enjoyable kayak trips and our friends from Bulow, Sherry and Bob, were kind enough to take us out on the Halifax River in their pontoon boat. On that trip, we were treated to a brief show of dolphins playing near the boat! Thanks Bob and Sherry!! We traveled with Susan and Mark to High Springs, FL and had a very pleasant time kayaking on the Santa Fe River and exploring several of crystal clear springs that branch off from the river. We stayed at Ginnie Springs Outdoors Campground where many scuba divers stay. Ginnie Springs is very well known as there are several underwater caves for divers to explore. It’s a very nice campground and we hope to return sometime when it warmer and we can tube on the river.
Our most notable kayak trip was a day trip to Ocala, FL. There was supposed to be a group of us from the Bulow RV Resort but for various reasons, the group dwindled down to Susan and Mark and Kenny and I. The day had perfect weather, 75 degrees, sunny, with a bit of a breeze. We launched at Ray Wayside Park and paddled upstream against a moderate current for three hours, then turned around and had a lazy paddle back which only took an hour. Silver Springs River is known for their wild monkeys (Rhesus Macaques) which have inhabited this area for over 80 years and one of our goals was to see the monkeys.
Short video – wait for it
On our paddle upstream we encountered many types of birds, a few alligators, lots of turtles, exotic flowers but no monkeys. We could hear them but couldn’t see them! We had pretty much given up on finding them, but on our return trip, there they were. There was a private dock with a boat that looked like it hadn’t been used in years. I would have preferred seeing them in their natural habitat but was still happy that we saw them. There were two monkeys close to the river’s edge then several more set back in the forest grooming each other. There was even a baby that we could see! Quite a successful day. (If you wish to find out how they got there, goggle National geographic FL monkeys.)
Our time at Bulow Park has been memorable. We walked a lot, golfed a bit, took some Salsa lessons, and generally relaxed. It was sad to say goodbye to our friends there. Most every night we have a “fire circle”. Those that are in the park area near us gather around our community fire ring. All bring their chairs and choice of a drink, to chatter, amuse each other, annoy each, and generally enjoy each other’s company. It is a gathering of friends and you never know exactly who will be there and never what the subject of the night may be. Discussion of politics is not allowed and there is always something that is “belly-laugh funny “that occurs. We love this crowd of Bulow friends. Thanks to all for the surprise going away party you threw for us. Pot luck is always so yummy! It was wonderful and also sad to have all in one place to say our goodbyes. See you guys November 2019! Safe travels, stay healthy!
These are our Bulow friends, all ages, all backgrounds, all with their own stories to tell. Patsy is missing from the group. At the time, she was organizing the food table but you need to know that she and Ronnie are at the heart of this group. 🥰
Until next time, we raise our glasses and toast to you:
Happy belated New Years! We wish all a very happy and healthy 2019!
I thought it was time to catch up on our travels. We had a wonderful Christmas season and were fortunate enough, again, to secure a “job” in Oahu kittie sitting for some friends of our youngest daughter, Katie. So, we were able to spend the holidays with her, her boyfriend Mike, and our grand puppy, Roxy. We are so grateful that we were able to manage the trip!
We’d like to share some highlights offering suggestions for those who may be thinking of traveling to Oahu. Because we have been there before, we have visited Pearl Harbor Memorial several times. This is a mustsee! Start with the Visitor Center and be sure to include in your day the USS Memorial Arizona. I would suggest that you allow about six hours to take full advantage of this opportunity.
And, it’s also fun to attend a Luau. Look on Trip Advisor to find the best one for you as they are all similar, yet different. Very touristy thing to do, but we suggest you do it anyway. You won’t regret it!
There are various activities to participate in including whale watching, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, etc. There are many adventures to take advantage of. On the day we arrived, it was Ken’s 70th birthday and our 44th wedding anniversary and we started our day by hitting Kailua Beach for a spectacular sunrise. We had seen many glorious sunsets before but had never gotten up early enough for the sunrise. Great way to start one’s day!
We had a yummy dinner with Katie and Mike to celebrate the occasion. It could have become disastrous. Mike ordered marlin with a cream sauce. The waitress never mentioned that the sauce had lobster in it! Mike is highly allergic! Luckily when his plate was served, the server mentioned, “here is your marlin with lobster sauce”. Thank God! Ken and Mike flip-flopped their plates and problem was solved, disaster averted.
Since we always like to try new things, I happened upon an interesting activity through Airbn. Kahale & Uncle Bruce’s Kuleana, Responsibility and Well-being! It is a 4 hour opportunity to meet with local farmers (Kahale and Uncle Bruce). It was presented as an opportunity to learn the history of Manoa, local legends, and how this family and farming group are ensuring the perpetuation of Hawaiian culture. We were to bring gloves, other tools would be supplied if needed, and we would be involved in some type of activity which could be planting, removing invasive species or even helping with an event, if one was planned near or on the day we visited.
So we bought our tickets and headed to see Uncle Bruce. It was a rainy morning and windy. Because of the rain, we actually didn’t do any activity to help them. That was disappointing but we enjoyed learning so much about farming, insights into HI traditions, history and culture. Knowledge is being handed down generation to generation to ensure that traditions, history, and family continues to appreciate and protect the land.
They taught us to chant, a chant that is used prior to entering the land, asking for permission to enter. Ken, Katie, and I tried (somewhat awkward) but when Kahale chanted in the correct way, it was so moving we were actually brought to tears. Not kidding here. The day was wrapped up with a luncheon that included local foods and special tea made by “Auntie “. We truly enjoyed our time with them. It was an honor to meet them and for them to share so much with us.
Katie, Ken, and I hiked trails in Haleiwa Forest. Katie had only hiked there once before. (Please note that the trails are not well marked so ensure you know which trail you are on and where you are heading.).
There were vistas overlooking the ocean. At one of the vistas, we could see a rainbow in the ocean. That’s right a rainbow in the ocean! There were surfers in the water and they had no idea they were in a rainbow! The only way you could have seen it was from an airplane or from a vista like ours! Certainly a once in a lifetime event.
While Katie and Mike worked, Ken and I hiked Manoa Falls in Honolulu. It was a bit muddy but they had public hoses for these completing the hike and returning to their cars. The reward at the top, was Manoa Falls! Well worth the hike up. The hike down was super easy.
This is a great hike for all ages. You do have to watch children carefully because of the drop offs and slippery mud but it was a pleasure to hike.
Kenny and I had a wonderful Christmas at Jane and Drew’s home. Remy (our daughter’s friend from forever) and her boyfriend Dan joined Kenny, Mike, Katie, Roxy and I for an intimate relaxing Christmas dinner to which all contributed. Thanks Jane and Drew for allowing us to watch your precious teen kitties so that we had a wonderful Christmas in your beautiful home!
Until next time we raise our glasses and toast to my recently departed brother, Paul Slavis:
We are saddened that your life ended too early and we have been able to travel and have adventures that you haven’t. Hug Sabrina close and say Hi to all of our relatives and friends that you recently joined. I wish I had been a better sister to you.
We hope this post finds you well or well on your way to recovery. We constantly pray for all that we know are struggling. Stay strong!
We have been busy in CT for a bit as Kenny had foot and then cataract surgery (both very successful – Yay! We can hike again!!) But we certainly need to share our most recent trip to New Brunswick, Canada. We visited our friends, Ronnie and Patsy Roy in St. George, NB who where amazing tour guides! We were very happy to see them as we hadn’t seen them since we left Flagler Beach last February! They haven’t changed and it was a fun reunion.
The evening of our arrival we attended a concert at their church. There were many talented singers but the most notable was a little six year old who had an amazing voice and all the confidence in the world to use it. Her younger brother, also sang his heart out! All of the performances were fun to listen to and watch and it was a great way to orient ourselves to the community of St. George.
We were exposed to so many things while visiting but I will just focus on the highlights, of which there are many!
Our first day out, we decided to take a brisk walk on the George Trail along the Magaguadavic River. It was a beautiful and clear day and we stopped at the Blueberry Store to use their facilities. Interestingly, we ran into friends of Patsy and Ronnie’s (Brad and Gail) who immediately invited us to take a boat ride with them that afternoon! So, of course, who wouldn’t take a ride on a pontoon boat on a sunny day! Off, we went. Thank you Brad and Gail for adding to our memorable experiences in NB! We learned quickly that everyone knew everyone in St. George! Or perhaps, Ronnie and Patsy are known by everyone in St. George!
Our next highlight was a trip to Deer Island. We had the pleasure of Patsy’s sister, Betty, joining us on the trip. (Betty is also one of the many friends we were lucky enough to make at Flagler Beach. During our stay, Betty made several yummy meals for us. Thanks Betty!). We ferried to Deer Island from St. George to go to Point Park (West Isles) which has the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere. According to information provided, the ocean can rise from 18′ to 28′ above the low water mark. We were not there at the peak time but close enough that the rising tide put on a fascinating show.
Ronnie and Patsy next took us on a day trip traveling the Fundy Trail Parkway. As carved in a huge stone on the Parkway, “The Fundy Trail Parkway was built by the people of New Brunswick for the enjoyment of all who cherish the natural beauty of our province.” And beautiful it is! Around every turn there are vistas to see and ever changing terrain to photograph. We packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed it on one of the scenic stops. At the Visitor Center, we took a pleasant walk bringing us to a beach filled with interesting cairns some of which looked like people.
As we turned around and headed back down the parkway, we stopped to explore caves we hadn’t been able to see when we started. The tide had subsided so the caves were now exposed and accessible. Pretty amazing day!
Another highlight was a weekend trip to Prince Edward Island. We took our RV and camped on the island. The summer season had recently ended and many things we might have seen were closed. However, we found some fun things to see and do.
We discovered the Doucet House where the first credit union was established. The Doucet House has a rich and interesting history. The Acadians of Rustico were extremely poor and a Catholic priest, Father Belcourt, arrived changing their culture and pulling the community out of poverty. He established the Farmers’ Bank of Rustico (precursor to credit unions) which allowed the farmers to purchase items on credit to help them become more prosperous. He also helped the community in many ways, establishing the church, setting up a school, and was instrumental in obtaining books from Emperor Napoleon III of France to establish a library. He even instituted the Rustico Band. He was a “jack of all trades”, clever, and just amazing. He owned the first car in PEI and also had the first car accident. We might have overlooked this little gem but we were very happy that we didn’t.
We visited the St. Dunstan’s Basilica which is a National Historic Site of Canada. The architecture is gorgeous. The PEI Heritage Center and Museum which showcased a video of the Acadian history and culture was also very interesting. We did as much touring of the island as time permitted and, of course, had to order some famous PEI mussels. We will certainly want to visit the island again. It was a bit of a tease and our timing was a bit off for some things we might have enjoyed visiting.
With Ronnie and Patsy, we visited their dear friends, Bill and Diane. Their home is located high above the Bay of Fundy and the view from their backyard is truly spectacular.
Our time in NB was well spent. Ronnie and Patsy are the ultimate hosts. We shared great meals and great times. We golfed, went whale watching with Robin and played cribbage most evenings. How lucky we were to meet many of their family members that live nearby. Chris, your seafood chowder is to die for! Patsy and Ronnie, thank you for all of the wonderful places you showed us and the fond memories you have given us!
Until next time, we raise our glasses and drink to Patsy, Ronnie, Betty, and their family and friends:
Thanks to all for your hospitality, your kindness, and friendship. You may be sorry because it’s likely we will be invading your home in Canada again in the future.
We hope all are enjoying the fabulous fall weather. It is a bit sad that the fall foliage is disappointing this year but it is a beautiful season nontheless. Just thought I’d write a quick post to cover highlights of our travels through Yukon Territory. We took a small and quick ferry that exited us from Alaska and entered us into the Yukon Territory.
In Dawson City, we stayed at Gold Rush Campground which I would recommend since it is a short walk into town and there are lots of things to see and do in the area. I had wanted to see Cancan dancers and this is the place.
Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall is Canada’s oldest casino and during the season there are three Cancan showings featuring three different performances. The casino is a fun place to visit, a limited menu is available and you can enjoy a drink and a meal while watching the shows. The place is pretty lively, there is some audience participation, and the Cancan dancers are extremely entertaining and fun to watch. The costumes for the dancers are colorful, as are the people in attendance. Definitely worth the $15 to see just one show and the other shows would be icing on the cake. According to their website, dawsoncity.ca/diamond-tooth-gerties/ proceeds from the shows are reinvested into the community. That’s pretty impressive!
While there, we took a quick ride up Midnight Dome Mountain to see 360 views of Dawson City and the Yukon River. Great vistas and amazing topographies. Sunset there would be a spectacle to behold but during the time we visited the sun didn’t set until midnight. The Dome is also a place to view Northern Lights with best viewing late August to mid-April. Since we were not there at the right time, viewing the Northern Lights remains on our bucket list.
An easy walk around town brings you to Dawson City Visitor Center, Dawson City Museum, Jack London Museum, Robert Service Cabin (poet and writer), and Palace Grand Theatre. There are many other places to visit that we had to miss.
The last night in Dawson City we planned to visit the Downtown Hotel, home of the famous Sourtoe Cocktail. The drink is a shot of whiskey with a mummified toe in the glass. Sounds so horribly disgusting that, of course, both Kenny and Susan wished to take up the challenge. One must drink the whiskey and the toe must touch your lips (fondly called “kissing the toe”). If you swallow the toe, the fine is $2,500. Over 60,000 people have ordered this drink. Some people have in their will that they wish to have their toe donated to the hotel so there are backups available and, yes, some have actually swallowed the toe.
So off we went Downtown. When we arrived at the hotel, the patrons were sitting in the dark and we are told that the electricity is out in the whole area and they were closing. Those people already seated had to finish their drinks and leave. They were not serving anyone anymore. Electricity was expected to come back that evening. The whole town was shut down so there was no toe kissing that night. Therefore Kenny and Susan had no bragging rights that they had kissed the Sour Toe.
From Dawson City, we again stopped in Whitehorse. I’d like to give kudos to Klondike Rib and Salmon Restaurant. We had a great dinner on the way up and had another on the way back “to the Lower-48”. Known for their BBQ ribs and fish, all of our meals were delicious and you are sitting in a tent! The atmosphere was fun. Both times we lucked out and didn’t have a long wait to get in but we drove by it several times during our visit and there people lined up down the street. We just loved that restaurant. Even if you had to wait, it would be worth it!
We decided to take a little trip from Whitehorse to Skagway that was advertised in the camp store. A bus picked us up at the campground then we boarded a train that brought us to Skagway. The adventure was the scenic train ride which was narrated, traveled through tunnels and valleys then descended over White Pass. I thought it would be scary or I would be “train sick” but all was perfect. Once at Skagway, we had time for a quick meal then had to board a bus to return us to the campground.
It was a beautiful day to take the train, enjoy the views, and learn some history of the area. It was interesting that the train stopped in various locations and picked up hikers that been in the back country on their own adventures. The trip as described was $90/adult which is pricey. However, that covered two buses and a once-in-lifetime train adventure.
We next traveled to New Brunswick, Canada, to spend some quality time with our friends Ronnie and Patsy. Blog post to come. Stay tuned.
Until next time, we raise our glasses and toast to you:
“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy
We hope all are happy and healthy and for those that haven’t been well, we hope you are recovering. Our prayers are always with you.
As we continued our adventure in Alaska, we had a number of short stops. The campground we stayed at in Tok is worth mentioning. At Sourdough Campground each night they have a pancake toss. The point of the game is to toss a pancake and get it into a bucket. Though it sounds silly, it was a lot of fun. Each camper has three chances. If you get it in, you receive a tiny pancake which can then be turned in for free breakfast! Kenny, Mark, and I lost, but Susan got one in. They have a great breakfast, a place to wash your RV and it is a welcoming campground to stay in if you are in or near Tok.
In Seward, we only stayed for two nights. In the area, there are a number of glaciers that are accessible from the road. With only one full day there,we chose to do a day hike at Kenai Fjords National Park. When we arrived we joined a Park Service Ranger group. The interpretive Ranger led us up to the mouth of Exit Glacier where you can see the blue ice and hear and see the raging water coming from the glacier.
We next ventured to Homer Spit which is located on the southwest tip of the Kenai Peninsula. Reaching almost five miles into Kachemak Bay, it is the longest road in the entire world that extends into the ocean. Seeing the Tsunami sirens and realizing how susceptible Homer is to storm surges, being on the Spit is a bit unnerving.
Although the area is small, there is much to see and do. Their Visitors Center is well worth a stop. Behind the Center are some walking trails and this area is great for eagle watching. Of course, we had to make a showing at the Salty Dawg Saloon for a beer! This saloon is extremely popular and a great place for people to gather. Visitors from all over the world sign and date their dollars then attach them to the wall or ceiling. Monies are later donated to charities.
Cleaning the catch
Susan had her heart set on a fishing trip. Be aware that there are rules regarding fishing for salmon or halibut. Some days you may only catch and release halibut/salmon. Susan caught a halibut but couldn’t keep it because it was the wrong day!
Catch of the day – NOT Susan’s boat, NOT on Susan’s day
Watching the fishing boats come in with their catch of the day was a lot of fun, gift shops were hopping, a bubble making station is available to the public, and there are several nice restaurants to choose from.
As mentioned, in our last blog, we headed back to Anchorage from Homer. After seeing the doctor there, we were starting to head out of Alaska. We stayed a couple of nights in Glen Allen from which we took a day trip to Valdez which is located in Prince William Sound. Both the journey and destination provided lots of photo opportunities. Traveling, we saw a number of glistening waterfalls and glaciers.
We arrived during the Huge Pink Salmon Run and millions of salmon where making their way up the fish ladders at the Valdez salmon fish way. Having never seen such a sight, they were fascinating to watch. We also recommend joining the free historic Walking Tour. Stop at the Valdez Museum to sign up for the tour.
We debated whether to journey to Chicken, Alaska, or not. It is a very bumpy and dusty road to travel but we ultimately made the trip. How the town became named Chicken is funny. Since Ptarmigan were prevalent in the area, the locals wanted the town to be named Ptarmigan. Since agreement couldn’t be reached on the spelling of the bird, it was agreed they would call the town Chicken.
In the day, Chicken was a mining hub but now it is a tourist attraction. There are tours of real dredges that were used to mine gold, historical tours, and recreational gold mining trips.
Susan and I had a fun time panning for gold in our campground in Chicken. We spent many hours in the hot sun and both came up with small flecks of gold. One panner near us did find a nugget so we knew “there is gold in them there hills”. Unfortunately, only flecks were in our mining pans.
Mining Dredge used in the day! Took this pic on my cell phone!
At our campground, there was a wonderful store, coffee bistro, and small restaurant. A short walk up the hill brings you to a bar with a local bar tender. We stopped by there for a drink and learned a lot about locals and a bit of history. There were hundreds of hats intermingled with hundreds of panties hanging from the ceiling of the small bar, each ragged and singed as the next. When we asked about them, he said, “Before we hang them up, we shoot them out of a cannon”. (Always interesting to talk with the locals.)
So we ended our Alaska adventure in Chicken, Alaska. Our trip has been enlightening, exciting, joyful, amazing, at times even scary and definitely unforgettable. We are grateful to our travel buddies, Susan and Mark. We shared experiences that can never be repeated. So many unexpected treasures were discovered. Susan and Mark never failed to entertain us with their photo bombs, quick wits, and “smack” talk during cribbage games. Every day in Alaska has been truly a gift.
Next adventures: Yukon Territory and British Columbia
Until next time, we raise our wine glasses and toast to all:
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
As mentioned in our most recent post, we next traveled to Anchorage. While there, we settled down at the Ship Creek RV Park which is within walking distance to the center of town. It’s a really nice campground, well maintained, and clean but the park has a few shortcomings which we didn’t realize until we arrived.
If you plan to visit Anchorage, we highly recommend this park but we do need to provide some warnings. Right on the other side of the fence border lies train tracks. These tracks are used every day. Since there are no railroad barriers and, by law it is mandated that the engineer blow his horn a number of times both approaching and leaving the city, bring your earplugs! As a aside, you get used to it.
And, we had two wildlife sightings that could have been disastrous, but were absolutely fine and actually exciting!
The first day we arrived, Kenny was behind the RV getting it hooked up. Mark and Susan were all set up so they were with me chatting in our rig. Suddenly, I saw a huge moose right in front of our rig. It stopped and looked startled. It had probably been in this park before but not when it was full. She turned around and headed toward the back of our rig where Kenny was! And, behind her is her calf! It all happened so quickly! I didn’t know whether to yell for Kenny to beware or be quiet and hope that all would go well. Honestly, I don’t believe I yelled to Kenny but I did catch a lousy shot of the calf by the side of our rig. As you see, it is through our screen door.
The Moma moose and her calf had scurried up the critter path which is on the left side of our rig. Neither Kenny nor Moma Moose spotted each other so, phew, all was well
Several days later, Kenny and I were in our rig and we heard someone yelling, “Trouble is coming, Trouble is coming!” Kenny thought that someone was calling their dog but I saw a man running for his life past the front of our rig. (For information, you do not run from bears. It is a very, very bad idea.) Luckily, as soon as the bear entered the park she knew this was not the place to be. When she entered, there were several families cooking breakfast outside. People with children were out and about!
Moma Bear and her three very young cubs were in the park! But thank God, just like the Moma Moose, Moma Bear corralled her three babies moving them onto the critter path. Once all three were on the path, she stood up (about 7 feet tall) to analyze the situation. According to Kenny, she had the expression of “Do you want to mess with me?” Once she knew no one was following them, she too ran up the critter path.
Another dangerous wildlife encounter averted, but what a great story to tell! We never had time to take pictures. It all happened so quickly! It was scary and exciting. We are grateful that all worked out well and that we were able to see wildlife up close and personal.
While there, we visited Anchorage’s Visitor Center. In fact, you should visit all Visitor Centers! They have information you need to map out what you wish to see and do. And, most have amazing displays, movies, and art work. Most also have great tours of the city. You have to pay, but the drivers have a great deal of folklore to add to the tour. Take the time to chat with the ambassadors of the centers. They hold immeasurable information that can help you get the best out of each city.
So, of course, we had to hop onto the city tour bus to get the lay of the land. Our bus/tour driver was a local and a teacher during the school year. She was great fun and added colorful information to all we saw.
Each Sunday, an open market is held about a block from the center of Anchorage and a short walk from the campground for us. Food trucks offered local fare and local fare was yummy! There were also vendors of all kinds offering anything from shells to souvenirs to live music to amazingly different types of ulus (Alaskan chopping knives). You could even get dressed up and pose with a real sled dog team!
These two young boys were amazing and could certainly work the crowd!
From Anchorage, we planned a day trip to Prince Williams Sound. With Major Marine Tours, we booked our cruise to Surprise Glacier. We took the ship out of Whittier so the drive from Anchorage to Whittier was as enjoyable as the actual boat trip. To get to Whittier, we had to travel through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel which is the longest highway in North America. Pretty cool to drive through the tunnel! Well actually, Mark drove us through the tunnel but we were all in the car. It has only one way travel so you have to arrive when the tunnel is open for traffic going into Whittier.
We saw numerous glaciers and, of course, the stunning Surprise Glacier which was our destination. We also had the pleasure of seeing a bird rookery with thousands of black legged kittiwakes, some sea lions sunbathing on an iceberg, and occasional groups of rafting sea otters. We highly recommend this trip. It featured a Prime Rib and Salmon buffet. Usually buffets on a cruise like this are just okay. Honestly, it was a great buffet! And, they had pretty and tasty drink selections as well!
When any type of wildlife was encountered, the boat was stopped and passengers were allowed outside on the viewing deck to take pictures. We had brought with us winter coats, hats, and even mittens. Weather turned out to be much warmer than we expected. We only needed a sweater to go outside and take our pictures. Great day! Great pictures!
Next we traveled to Homer (different post!) but we had to return to Anchorage the following week (doctor appointment). We happily returned to Ship Creek RV Park!
On our second trip to Anchorage, we went to the open market again. It was as much fun as the first time. On this visit, we had time to visit the Anchorage Museum. We arrived just minutes before there was a docent-led tour of their latest exhibit which was on loan from the Smithsonian institute. The exhibit is called Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: the first peoples of Alaska.
What I found most fascinating of all of the information the docent shared (and a great deal of information was shared!) was a party hat. Yup, a party hat which is actually a “Crest Hat”. These hats were worn by high ranking people (mainly in the Haida and Tlingit first people tribes.) All members would strive to attain wealth. Once achieved, the person would throw a huge party called a potlatch which is an opulent ceremonial feast. The wealthy person invited all of his family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, even people he didn’t like. It is a gift giving feast.
At the potlatch, the host would give away his material wealth, leaving himself poor. He would acquire more material wealth when he was invited to another member’s potlatch. Those who had previously attended his feast would attempt to surpass the gift that they had received from him.
Basic hat would have had the first “crown”. The woven cylinder topping the crown, is called a skil, and each skil represents how many potlatches one has hosted. This hat with the three skils designates that the wearer of this hat accumulated wealth three times in his life and gave his wealth away three times. Wait. What? Why? To me, wearing this hat would be showing off their wealth regardless of the fact that you now poor. But, I did find that little tidbit to be very interesting.
That was only one exhibit! You could easily spend days or a week there. In each area, there were numerous touch screens where one can zoom in on different objects and obtain more information.
I do have to mention that The Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline was also very cool! We are certain that whenever you are in Anchorage the Museum would always have amazing exhibits! This Museum is AWESOME!
Until next time, we raise our wine glasses and toast to you:
Do one act of kindness each day of the year and change 365 lives. – Anthony D. Williams