Winter Season – Oahu

December 18, 45th Anniversary!

Hello Friends and Family!

During this difficult and very scary time of “Stay at Home” conditions due to COVID-19, I took the opportunity to gather up some photos from our Winter season in Kailua, HI. If you need to waste some time, please enjoy photos from our visit with Katie, Mike and Roxy (our youngest daughter, her boyfriend and their energetic puppy).

Pipe Masters Scoreboard – World Competition North Shore Oahu

One of the first activities after helping out at the Honolulu Marathon, was to watch the Billabong Pipe Master World Surfing contest. On a day when the surfing was called off due to no waves, we stopped for coffee and sat with one of the competitors, Billy Kamper (placed in the competition and took home $10,500). We didn’t know he was a competitor until people starting stopping by to talk to him. We were just chatting with his cute little boys!

Three months on Oahu spending
time with Katie, Mike, and Roxy

Aren’t they an adorable little family!

Haunama State Park – part of Island Tour well known for snorkeling

We purchased Groupons for the Aloha Hawaii Tours for $57 per person and it was a really great trip. It was a half day tour and we visited Haloni Blowhhole, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (above) the North Shore for a food truck lunch (delicious 😋) and shopping. And, this is very important to note, it is an absolute must to get a donut at Leonard’s in Honolulu. The bus tour guide brought hot donuts and gave them to us at our first stop. Restroom stops were available at several of the stops.

Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts – part of Island tour – great free samples
What are you stopping for Roxy?
Katie and Kenny getting down to Roxy’s level to see what Roxy saw. Oahu walking path near Katie and Mike’s place – No idea what fascinated Roxy

Katie’s boss, Steve, offered us use of their lovely home on the Big Island. Katie, Kenny, Jane (Katie’s very good friend) and I flew to check it out. The house is located very close to the Volcanoes National Park which offers up spectacular hiking. The last eruption, which you probably remember, was 2018. Luckily their home was not affected.

Stunning beauties right across the street
Hilo Farmer’s Market – Big Island – so much fun! Something for everyone

Volcano Hike

We chose a hike that would be 4 – 5 miles but got misdirected and ended up having to hike 10 miles! The little dots on the trail are fellow hikers! We descended from the top into the crater, hiked across the crater, ascended the opposite side, then meandered along the rim back to our car. It rained a little bit and we were rewarded with a rainbow inside the crater.

Kenny and I descending from the rim
Pathway through crater – from rim it appears flat but it is rough,
uneven, crusted lava – no shade – lots of crevices
Taking a break from hike through crater – L to R me, Kenny, Katie, Jane
The appearance of a Rainbow was a sweet surprise!

Sunrise at the Steam vents – it was cold and the steam was very warm. I felt venerable being surrounded by steam vents in the entire area and the power beneath my feet. We didn’t stay long because it was a bit creepy. I am glad we checked it out though.

Sunrise at the Kilauea Caldera
“The Point“ – Cliffs high above the ocean

We traveled to Naalehu which is the southern most point of the United States on the Big Island. There is a 40 foot drop to the ocean which crazy people jump or dive off then climb back up on a ladder that comes straight up from the ocean. No one was doing any cliff diving that day. That was a quick stop then we headed to the Green Sand Beach walk. There are only two Green Sand beaches in the world so we had to visit it.

We hiked/walked to the beach (3 miles?) and took a $10.00 per person truck ride back to the parking lot. The truck ride was about 30 minutes of fear.

Jane and Katie on the Green Sand beach – the ocean was rough, the sand was blowing in our faces. We stayed there about 30 minutes! But we, of course, can now say we went there!

The transportation was run by a local family and they loaded as many people as possible into the old pickup truck. In the front, the driver, a Chinese woman (talking to me about the COVID-19 virus – first time I became concerned about the virus) with her eight year old, an me. Behind the front seat, two women with three children. In the bed of the truck Katie, Jane, Kenny, eight other adults and one little baby in the father’s arms! I could see the ground through the floor boards! This four wheel vehicle was climbing hills, rocks, and rolling through streams. I was so worried that those in the back were going to be thrown off the bed of the truck.

At one point there was a standoff between our driver and a tourist with a rental Jeep that couldn’t figure out how to back out of the our way. The tourist was not supposed to be on the private road. Our driver used some expletives that should not be said aloud, especially in front of children.

We all did arrive safely (thank God!) and were happy to get back on the ground. Our weekend visiting the Big Island was quick but we tried to do as much as we could with the time we had there. Thank you Steve for sharing your Big Island home with us!

A must-visit when on Oahu – National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
There are amazing mosaics done by extremely talented artists.

In particular, Kenny saw this one. His father had been on the Northampton or the “Nora” which it was called prior to when she was torpedoed and sank in the Pacific action. The Convoy couldn’t stop to help that ship. There were survivors but they were in the water quite a while prior to their rescue. His Dad had mentioned this to his Mom in his letters to her. Thank you, Mark, the historian in our family, for your confirmation of Kenny’s recollection.

Such a poignant memorial, very moving.

Another worthwhile experience was the WWII Red-Light District walking tour led by a young historian, Carter, who was entertaining and very informative. She is quite a storyteller! It is normally a small group tour, (15-20 but in our case a modest 3) so we could ask questions and it was easy to hear Carter’s stories and see her pictures from the past. We learned a lot about the brothels during WWII – fascinating!

WWII Red Light District Tour – Starts here! Significant cultural landscape since 1922
Kenny, me, Japanese woman who was visiting Oahu for son’s wedding ( lovely lady) and our GREAT historian Carter!!
One of the historic stops on tour

Some pics from our Pillbox hike that brought Katie, Roxy, Kenny and I to these dramatic views.

Katie and Roxy on the pillbox trail
We made the slippery trail to the top!
Standing on one of the pillboxes. There are several pillbox hikes on Oahu.
This picture doesn’t do justice to the views from here (it had just started raining) – Kaneohe Bay
We are a bit wet but Roxy couldn’t care less.
The way down was more challenging than the way up. Katie did some skiing. I considered going down on my butt but clung to vegetation instead.
We all arrived without falling. The only feet I recognize are Roxy’s.
Roxy uses Kenny’s shoulder as a chin rest – on the way to North Shore

We drove to the North Shore to visit Remy (Katie’s friend who has been part of our family forever) and Dan. Dan and Remy have recently become engaged!! They have also leased land and become avocado farmers – in addition to their other jobs.

Remy, Dan and Katie – Farm’s First Greenhouse Plants
We are so proud of Remy and Dan making their dreams come true!
We met up with Susan and Mike in Maui

Susan and Mike were vacationing on Maui and invited us to visit! Who doesn’t love getting together with great friends? Oh yeah, we were definitely in! We flew over for a few days and filled each day up with fun things!

Our naturalist told us his name was Maui, his colleagues called him different names so I have no clue what his name is. He was extremely respectful and knowledgeable about the gardens. You could tell how much he loved these sacred grounds.

We walked with a naturalist guide (picture above), in sacred areas of the Kings Garden. Kings Garden is little known rainforest which can only be entered with a guide and reminded me of the movie, Jurassic Park. Our guide taught us about making chocolate and we were afforded the opportunity to sample chocolates from around the world. It was a bright sun-filled day and we learned the history of the gardens and even heard funny stories about our guide’s parrot (who did make a surprise appearance while were there).

Walking through Helconia (sometimes called the lobster plant.)
Sealing-Wax Palm – one of my favorite palms
A Cacao Tree provides Chocolate – eventually
Debbie, Kenny, Susan and Mike as we arrived at the Falls (behind us) during our King’s Gardens visit
Random Pineapple photo opportunity on a walk along the beach

Next stop Haiku Sugar Mill tour

Susan and Mike – We didn’t get a picture of the four of us together there!
Now a historic site, it serves as an amazing wedding venue – Charming
Inside the former sugar mill

Kenny had read something about a distillery in the area, the Hawaii Sea Spirits Organic Farm and Distillery so, of course, we had to go. It’s a tiny little distillery and makes Ocean organic Vodka. Their bottle is distinctive being blue and tilted on the earth’s axis. At the end of the tour there is a tasting of their vodka, gin, and rum. I am not a fan of shots of anything but sometimes one must indulge. This distillery is a small family business that has grown tremendously. Their bottles are distinctive and their Vodka smooth (according to others in our group.)

Distillery Ocean
Their bottles are pretty enough for reuse as a flower pot or just a decoration. The story behind its design is impressive. Oh! Vodka is great as well.

Surfing Goat Diary was right down the street from the Ocean Distillery. Kenny, Katie, and I were there three years ago but we wanted Susan and Mike to see it as well.

We were hungry and lucky because they had added a tiny restaurant at the Surfing Goat Dairy since our last visit. We ordered a charcuterie platter and a “flight” of goat cheeses. Oh my goodness, so delicious! We ended buying several different varieties of goat cheese.

Giving the background of the establishment, I thought it important to take a picture – worth a read
Surf boards are everywhere – baby goat taking a rest on surf board
Before leaving Maui, we celebrated both couples 45th wedding anniversaries (different dates in 2019). We enjoyed a yummy dinner where we were treated to this striking sunset (one of many we enjoyed)

Thank you so much Susan and Mike for a fun filled visit in your beautiful condo!!

We had read that there were Volunteer opportunities at the Waimea Valley State Park and by volunteering for a few hours, you could tour the park for free. They have a waterfall area which you can swim in, paved walk paths, and botanical gardens. We signed up right away but it was a month before a slot for volunteering was available. Katie, Kenny and I volunteered!

We were assigned a specific area in the botanical gardens and after some instruction, we weeded, we cut plants back, we raked, and carried the fruits of our labor to form a monstrous pile which was hauled off by backhoes. I received my gardening “fix”. Anyone who knows me well, knows that this was a perfect day for me!!

Volunteer Day – Waimea Valley – the pile of weeding is behind the group. It was a huge amount and a backhoe had to gather it up. We are in the very back row. Good luck finding us. Where are the Petersons? Enlarge the photo.
Lipstick Tree

As part the tour group we joined after volunteering, the guide explained the products derived from the Lipstick tree. Katie and I tried out the natural “lipstick” from the tree.

Fishy face, Kissy face
Kenny and Kate on our walk to the waterfall.
Hey! I see you buddy!

I really dislike geckos, but this one was kind of cute looking up at Kenny as he took its picture. It is a Gold Dust Day gecko.

This guy put on quite a show for us strutting his stuff. He posed for about 15 minutes then went on his way. With his huge fan and bright eyespots, I’m certain that he is popular with the ladies.

We had a great time on Oahu but we started hearing more about the coming virus. Several of our friends mentioned that we should wear masks on our lengthy flight back to Boston from Honolulu. We weren’t really concerned but decided we’d look for masks. There were no masks to be found. All stores in Kailua were out of masks. First time I became seriously concerned of things to come.

We ended up going into an empty urgent care center in the center of Kailua (one which now has drive-in COVID-19 testing). The masks which had normally been kept at the entrance were unavailable. We spoke to a nurse and explained our upcoming travel and she went in the back and gave us two masks. Little did we know that 1.5 months after our return to the US, we would be under a Stay-at-Home order.

Here are some videos to potentially give you a laugh during this anxious time period.

Katie playing with Roxy. Roxy was so excited with Katie’s cheerleading!

Honestly embarrassed that I found this funny. He was hiding behind our outside mirror and we tried to save him. He hung on until we were doing 40 MPH. I do hope he landed safely off the road. 🤷‍♀️

Although it seems a lifetime for us, it was just 1.5 months ago that life was normal. Now we are under a Stay-at- Home order from the Governor Charlie Barker of Massachusetts.

Kenny and I accepted a Workkamper position at the Boston/Cape Cod KOA about six months ago. We did this in order to be near to our family and friends and grateful that although we can’t now see our family and friends we are at least near to most (Katie and Mike are in HI 🙁).

These are our grandchildren! Tristan, Logan, Dylan – we need them protected. As do you for your family.

Right now, we are concerned about our family and friends and actually everyone. We need to adapt, hang tough, none of us have ever experienced anything like this but we need to find ways to cope. If you can, help your children with their distance learning, play more with them one-on-one, play games (board, cards, puzzles) with your family, cook/bake anything that ends up yummy.

We need to follow all directives to ensure we can protect ourselves, friends and family but more importantly our future generations. It’s hard but please, please, comply with whatever guidelines are in place for your state to ensure that we can protect our future. This is a time to stay in place.

Walk together, run, bike, hike, kayak, canoe, fish, you can incorporate one or more in your life. It so important to incorporate some type of exercise into your daily routine. But indulge yourself! Read books that you haven’t had time to read. Binge watch episodes of whatever interests you. Give yourself permission.

Kenny and I are grateful that we are retired. We are grateful that we have been living in a confined place for the past four years so this isn’t new for us. We are fine but we worry about others, especially family and friends. Kenny relates this experience to his former work in the Nuclear field. You can’t see it, you can’t feel it, but it is there. Keep yourself and family as safe as you possibly can. Please, for all of us.

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.Franklin D. Roosevelt

We pray that a vaccine is found soon to eliminate this horrible virus. We pray that essential workers are protected from COVID-19. We pray that our leaders are making the right decisions. We pray for everyone to be safe and be healthy. At this time, we just pray.

Arrival in HI – Honolulu Marathon

Hi Friends and Family!

We hope this post finds all well and happy. We know that’s not true of all, so please know we pray for those that we are aware of who need our prayers.

We trust that you and your family have had a great holiday season and hope you have a Happy and healthy New Year! 🥳

We have been in Hawaii since December 6 (poor us!) and have been enjoying our winter season in sunny (much of the time!) Kaneohe, Oahu. As most know, our youngest daughter, Katie, has been living here for almost ten years. This year we are on a trial run of spending three months away from the mainland. So far, it has been a very enjoyable experiment. We have only two weeks left in HI before returning to the East Coast. We have certainly been having some great experiences since we arrived. This is the first time I have sat down to put fingers to computer to add to our blog.

Upon our arrival, Katie asked us to volunteer at the Honolulu Marathon which was taking place on December 8. Considering that we had never assisted in a Marathon and since it is the fourth largest marathon in the US and by volunteering we were also supporting the Men and Women LaCrosse teams ( Katie is a LaCrosse coach), of course our answer was a resounding YES! So, what were we signing up for? Our mission was to have water ready at the first water stop of the Marathon.

Four tables, 4′ x 10′, 4 tiers high

The plan was to arrive in Honolulu in the area where the first water stop is, 2 miles in. We had to arrive at our spot by 3:00 am. Honestly, not so bad for us. We weren’t acclimated to the time difference yet anyway so time was no issue for us. We arrived a few minutes earlier than Katie. We didn’t know any of the LaCrosse volunteers but jumped in right away. For the next two hours, we helped to fill water cups that covered four 4′ x 10′ tables that were four tiers high. Just know there were mishaps in this process – all part of the team work and fun!

Tables loaded and volunteers waiting for the Marathon to start

Ah, then to wait for the first arrivals! Police escorts rode by to ensure the roads were clear. Next the wheelchairs competitors! Honestly, so inspiring! Their arm strength! Then the first world competitors! The team from Kenya (arrived approximately 10.5 minutes after the official start of the race) , whoosh, whoosh, like a organized herd of gazelles, thin, graceful, agile, in perfect form. No need for hydration for these professionals. They slide in perfect rhythm by our tables. Next participants followed about three minutes later and some water cups were taken.

We stood expectantly along the sidelines extending the water cups so the runners could grab one and keep going. When there was a connection it was so clear. Eye-to-eye contact, they headed to my outstretched hand which was holding their precious water. Loved the connection of eye-to-eye, eye-to-cup, hand to offering, the perfect connection, then the participant taking the water and moving on. Sometimes you had the eye-to-eye contact and some unnoticed runner snatched the cup from my hand before my “chosen” runner connected. So disappointing for both of us.

Katie, Kenny, and Debbie cheering the crowds – ready with water cups

The average participation for the Honolulu Marathon is 25,000 runners/walkers. There is no time limitation to complete, you can run or walk the entire 26.5 miles or just portions if you wish. For many this is a family tradition!

For quite a period of time we were holding out cups and running to grab more as soon as those we held were taken. Although it was only the first water stop, many were in need of water. As the last of the walking participants started overtaking our tables with their outstretched hands and our water almost gone, the scene was like the Night of the Living Dead. If you don’t recall the movie or haven’t seen it, just think about zombies. (You can Google the movie and view the GIFs!). And, it was only the first two miles! Oh dear! Would they complete the portion of the marathon they had committed to as their goal?

Regardless, each was participating at their own ability. Many were dolled up for the race which was very entertaining. There were small babies and toddlers in strollers with new Moms ensuring that they were keeping up with their family traditions of participating. There was a 60 year daughter pushing her 90 year old mother in a wheelchair. Both wore ballon party hats announcing their ages. Sometimes, I couldn’t stop from tearing up watching this amazing scene.

The top five winners were from Kenya, the gazelles who floated by us, with the first coming in at 2 hours and 7 minutes. What???

Clean up was easy. We swept the street of discarded cups and other debris which was managed expeditiously. Hoses were collected, tables folded and were loaded up in the pickup trucks, rakes, and brooms were collected. You’d never know ~25,000 people had come by this very spot.

Below: Emily and Renée Latimer, Ken, Debbie, and Katie Peterson and Jane Farwell – Water Stop Mile 2

LaCrosse Volunteer Team Photo following completion of cleanup

We would have gone out to celebrate but it was way too early for any life in the area. Most of the first water stop team went home to take a nap! Kenny and Katie pledged to run the marathon in 2020. A lot of training needs to be done to make that happen but both are determined.

Stay tuned for more information on fun things we have been up to.

Until next time, let’s raise our glasses to each and every child, woman, and man that participated and completed whatever part of the marathon they challenged themselves to complete! Well done!

The Last Five and one-half Months – Bryce Canyon Assignment

Hello Friends and Family!

It’s been quite some time since I last added to our blog but the Petersons have been busy little beavers! We just wrapped up our most recent WorkKamper assignment at Bryce Valley KOA in Cannonville, Utah! We are officially back into retirement until Summer 2020.

As noted in our last post, Kenny and I were fortunate enough to be hired for the summer season in Utah and it has been an amazing experience. When we visited Bryce Canyon National Park in the summer of 2018 we knew we had to come back and explore Utah more thoroughly. Hence we applied for and were hired at the KOA where we had 5 months to spend exploring the beauty of the area.

Our home in Bryce Valley KOA

Video Of Area from Upper Campground after thunderstorm

The KOA where we worked is about 12 miles from Bryce Canyon entrance and is an exquisite location nestled in Grand Staircase Escalante (see pics from last posting). Kenny and I worked about 30 to 35 hours each week, sometimes morning shift, sometimes evening shift and always had two consecutive days off together.

If you plan on visiting Utah, we are almost experts on the area. Things we experienced were both those that are well known and those that were locally known. Are you coming to the area? Below are some suggestions.

Although Mossy Cave Trail is considered to be part of Bryce Canyon, it is not within the main area of the Canyon. The trail is located between mile marker 17 and 18 on Route 12. It is really a stroll rather than a hike but it is perfect location for a picnic and great photo opportunities. There is a waterfall which you can get behind with a bit of rock scrambling. The Tropic Gulch was dug to provide water to the valley below and was significant to the development of cities of Tropic and Cannonville. The “Mossy Cave” is closer to a grotto than a cave and more interesting in early Spring when there are significant icicles to view.

Tropic Gulch

Nice photo opportunities

Mossy Cave Trail – early spring – Kids were making snowballs and we were in shorts!

We took a mini-vacation to stay in Kodachrome Basin State Park. It’s a beautiful state park right down the road from our KOA. It has very colorful rock formations hence the name Kodachrome. Permission had to be obtained from Kodak to use the name. One of the first hikes we did was the Panoramic Trail which was a relatively easy 8 mile loop (if you add some of the shorter trails to it, which we did). Angel’s Palace Trail is a short 1.4 loop but unlike any trails in Bryce and gives you a bird’s eye view of the whole park. The park is known for their chimney-like rock formations ranging from 30 to 50 feet. The park had just one natural arch, the Shakesphere Arch, which we didn’t see. Unfortunately, the Arch fell in May 2019, just after our arrival. If you visit, be sure to check out the restrooms. They are absolutely beautiful! Showcase quality! Not kidding at all!

Angel’s Palace Trail – it was extremely hot on that hike

Angel’s Palace Trail

Kodachrome features sandstone spires and columns called sandpipes – what are your thoughts on that? I know what our first thought was …

The highest viewing point of the trail is very steep and narrow. Kenny went all the way up but I chickened out.

Willis Creek Slot Canyon is not far from the KOA and we hiked that trail several times. The road to the trailhead is dirt and somewhat washboardy but if you go slow, it’s not too bad. The trail runs along the creek and you should plan on walking in the water in many areas (ankle deep normally). Since the area is subject to flash floods, always check the local weather forecast prior to hiking there. It was one of our most enjoyable hikes and when we did our mule ride, the destination was to Willis Creek slots.

Willis Creek Slot – Susan and Mark visited us!

There are several Slot Canyons with breaks of sunshine and unique rock formations

Susan, Mark, and Kenny goofing off in the slots

Kenny and Debbie’s Mule Ride in Willis Creek Slot

Our cowboy guide, Andy, on his sweet mule, Jack.

One of the well known trails in Escalante is lower calf creek canyon. To avoid crowds and the heat, we hiked in the late afternoon and come off the trail just before sunset. You are hiking on sand for much of the way which can be a bit tricky but the reward of a 126 foot waterfall makes it worth the hike. We also hiked the upper calf creek canyon which is much harder to hike but we only saw two people on that hike. It is not well marked and you are hiking on solid rocks both going down and coming back. This was the most challenging hike to me of all the hiking we did. If you stepped on any sand on the rocks, you would slip and it’s a long way down. Upon reaching our destination there were several waterfalls. We can say we did the hike but I, for one, will not tackle that one again.

Prize at end of hike is a gorgeous waterfall

If traveling to Escalante, be sure to visit the Kiva Koffeehouse. It is out in the middle of nowhere with majestic views of the Grand Staircase. It is a coffee bar with a limited breakfast and lunch menu and worth the stop. Kenny and I visited this shop several times while hiking in the area. Although we didn’t partake, our colleagues said that the pie they serve is delicious.

The hike we enjoyed most at Bryce was the Peek-a-boo loop. It starts at Sunset trail, continues to Wall Street, then a section of Navajo trail, then on to Peek-a-boo loop bringing you back to continue to Navajo then exiting the canyon at Sunset. Kenny and I hiked on a cooler day and it wasn’t too busy. There were few people on the trail once we reached Peek-a-boo. The views of the canyon and hoodoos were spectacular around every turn. Strongly recommend that hike!

If you can prove you hiked at least 3 miles in the park, the National Park gives you a Sticker that reads “I hiked the hoo-doos”.

Beauty at every turn

You do feel rather insignificant in all the grandeur

Once on the Peek-a-boo trail we saw very few hikers.

There are several stunning car rides in the area. We took the Scenic route 12 up to Boulder. It’s a beautiful ride and there are plenty of areas to stop and enjoy the views and take photos. Some of the grades are a bit unnerving but that’s part of the fun!

We also enjoyed driving Hell’s Backbone Road which is a 35-40 mile gravel road with an elevation of 10,000 ft. and it can have many washboard areas. The road was made by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s in order to connect the towns of Boulder and Escalante. Hell’s Backbone Bridge, which is about mid-trip, is an impressive 109 ft. long, 14 ft. Wide with a 1,500 ft. drop off on either side. (courtesy of Wikipedia). The road is remote, narrow, winding, and provides spectacular views (Box-Death Hollow Wilderness). One needs to stop often to take photos and drink in the sights. There are free range cows, 12% grades with no guardrails, and some areas where I had to close my eyes. Regardless, the views made it worth the trip.

Posing at Hell’s Backbone Bridge – Mark and Susan

And of course, Kenny and I

Views overlooking bridge

This is a video of hummingbird moths. We couldn’t figure out what they were at first.

Indian Paintbrush wild flowers along the drive

Overlooking Box-Death Hollow Wilderness

Another view of Box-Death Hollow Wilderness

Captured some Woodland Sage

Spotted this mule deer

There was a Full Moon hike with the Rangers at Bryce Canyon while Susan and Mark were visiting with us. There are limited spots available and people are selected by attending a lottery in the afternoon. We attended hoping that we were chosen to be part of the hike. We were so happy because our group of four were selected on the 2nd draw!! But nature didn’t cooperate. Skies were so cloudy that the full harvest moon was hiding and honestly the hike was disappointing. The light of the moon didn’t shine upon the canyons and give us the show we anticipated. Still, we were those chosen to participate. So that’s something. Right?

Sunset lights up the canyon

Susan and Mark admiring God’s handiwork

Got a peek at the moon on the hike but it was just a quick peek!

Some other interesting places to visit are: Zion (keep in mind it is really crowded compared to Bryce), Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, the golf course in Kanab, Otter Creek State Park, and to get the best burgers around go to Antimony, the Merch (and their homemade pies are AMAZING)! Oh, and do some rock hounding!

We found some pseudo fossils. They are often mistaken for fossils. They are formed by manganese oxides which crystallize leaving fern-like impressions. Locals call them picture rocks. They are awesomely beautiful!

Utah is amazing and it was sad to leave this beautiful state and our wonderful colleagues at Bryce Valley KOA. We are very grateful for the time we spent there and we have so many wonderful memories to hold on to. Kenny and I held the record for the most attendees for ice cream social. All monies are donated! And, I may be wrong but I think we held the record for the least attendees for the pancake breakfast. Go figure!!! 🤷‍♀️

Until next time, we raise our glasses and toast to our BV KOA Family:

Monte and Amy, Suzy and Grant, Donessa and Anthony, JoAnn and JT, Chuck, Hyrum, Shelby, (and our summer locals, Brooke and Jaydin) and most importantly our awesome Manager, Jody – thanks for all the friendship, support and laughs this summer. Our work wasn’t work, it was FUN!

Some of our BV KOA colleagues left to right Chuck, Anthony, Hyrum, Jody, Donessa (in front of Jody), Sherry (our friend from Flagler Beach), JoAnn, Bob (Sherry’s husband) and Suzy

Kenny and our Manager, Jody, harvesting apricot.

Alska din familj! (Swedish translation: Love the Family!)

Hello Friends and Family!

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!

L to R – Graham, Matt, Kayla, Debe, Sam – seated Maddie and Shannon

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!

Debe and Sam had this cake at the reunion – thirteen of us have this tattooed on various parts of our bodies – true story!

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.

One of the many amazing botanical gardens.

Kenny and I in the birds of prey exhibit

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.

Nikki with Grammie trying to feel Logan kick

Ali and Zoe helping Nikki with Logan’s gifts

Ali and Nikki – btw Ali just got engaged!

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!).

Coconino National Forest – Sedona

Hiking Sedona

Arizona Copper Art Museum – over 5,000 works of copper art!

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!

Our home until Sept. 30

View from our living room window

Sunset from our campsite – BV KOA

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.

Beautiful new Mommy, just after Logan’s birth

Proud Daddy upon arrival home

Grandpa holding his lastest Grandson

Grammie holding her latest Grandson

Top to bottom: Aaron, Dylan, Dan, Debbie, Kenny, Zoe, Nikki and Logan

Arthur, Ilona, Dan, Nikki and Logan

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!

. . . and off he goes!

On the Road Again – Goodbye, For Now, Florida

Hi Friends and Family,

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. Augustine so they could join us.)

Giant Anteater

Pink Flamingos – they had orange flamingos too!

Southern Cassowary- reminded us of a Jurassic dinosaur

Debbie feeding the youngest giraffe in the exhibit – what long tongues they have!

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.)

Pontoon Ride – Halifax River (L to R) – Sherry, Bob, Debbie, Jackie, Ken, Susan, Mark, Bill

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.

Debbie, Kenny, and Mark rafting together for a photo op

Susan demonstrating how fast her Hobie can go

The forest and wetlands were stunning

My honey posing for me

First monkey we spotted on a private dock along the River

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.)

Safety Message – What was left out is that 30% of Rhesus Macaque carry herpes B virus which can kill (didn’t find that out until after our trip)

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:

May the leprechauns be near you,   🍀

To spread luck along your way. 🍀

And May all the Irish angels,            🍀

Smile upon you St. Patrick’s Day.             🍀

Irish Toast

Going Out Hawaiian Style – Happy 2019!

Aloha Family and Friends!

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 must see! 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!

Well worth the early morning walk!

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.

Kenny enjoying his birthday dessert

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.

Uncle Bruce, Kenny, Debbie, Katie, and Kahale – we were honored to spend time with them
Kenny and Debbie with Chinese cemetery and glorious rainbow behind 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.

Ocean Rainbow – WOW!
Katie, Mom, and Grand Puppy Roxy looking over the rainbow

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.

Fairyland hiking up to Manoa Falls
Natural archway on the hike – Crazy!
Our reward for the hike – Manoa Falls

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.

New Brunswick – New Funswick

Hi Family and Friends!

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.

Visit to St. Andrews-by-the-sea

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!

View from pontoon boat at start of river tour

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!

Once in a lifetime sunset, St. George, behind Betty’s home

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.

View from “Old Sow Whirl Pool” – can see Eastport, ME from this point

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.

Cairns along the shore – top right looks like man in a top hat

Took time for a selfie on walk near Visitor Center

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!

Just one of the spectacular vistas along the Fundy Trail Parkway

Ken and I standing in entrance to Cave – Note the water line!

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.

Confederation Bridge – connects NB to PEI – 8 miles long – only bridge in the world that can withstand ice flows

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.

Doucet House

Artist – Karen Gallant – commissioned by Rendezvous Rustico “Out of Fields come Dreams”

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.

Inside of St. Dunstan’s Basilica

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.

View of Bay of Fundy from Bill and Diane’s Glorious Home – low tide

Ladies winning hand in cribbage – cribbage buffs add it up

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.

Sour Toe Cocktails, Cancan Dancers, oh My!

Hello friends and family!

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.

The beautiful Cancan Dancers

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, proceeds from the shows are reinvested into the community. That’s pretty impressive!

The view from Dome Mountain

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.

Jack London Museum

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.

Views in town

Poem on building – written by Robert Service

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.

Stats of Sour Toe Cocktail

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!

The Renegades smooching it up at Klondike Rib & Salmon

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.

Emerald Lake Views

The views from the train were spectacular!

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.

The Renegades (I & II, our handles during our travels) had an amazing Alaska/Canada journey

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

Out of the Wilderness

Hi Friends and Family,

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.

Susan holding her tiny pancake which is redeemable for a free breakfast.

All LOSERS of the pancake toss. Mark on left, Kenny and I in back row.

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.

Mark and Susan – closest viewpoint of Exit 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.

Mark and Kenny deciding on their brew

img_4349Cleaning the catch

The child side of Kenny – playing at Bubble Station

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.

One of many of the waterfalls we enjoyed on our way to Valdez

The views on our journey were non stop.

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.

Millions of salmon in a frenzy to be successful in climbing the fish ladder.


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.

The Renegades shooting a selfie with one of the many chickens

And, of course, we can’t take photos without Mark and Susan being silly!

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!

Mining for hours to find a few specks

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.)

Tiny bar in Chicken – enjoying Moscow Mules

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.”

Gustav Flaubert

Anchorage, Alaska

Hi Family and Friends!

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!

Calf next to our rig! Moma Moose was huge but I didn’t get her pic!

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.

Susan and Mark winning Ladder Ball – right in critter path route
(In both cases, the Moose and Bear ran through our site exactly where Susan, Mark, Kenny, and I play Ladder Ball!  Compare fence in Moose pic and fence in this pic.  If we had been outside, only God knows what might have happened. But it didn’t, and we thanked God all went well.)
If I have turned you off to this Campground, please forget all I said.  We actually went back to the same campground two weeks later to visit Anchorage again and requested the same campground. We could have chosen a different site but we did love that one.  Check it out!  Very convenient to center of town!  And you should know that almost every single campground we stayed posted warnings about bears or wildlife in the area.

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.

We have arrived – Anchorage Visitor Center – Photo Bomber Susan, of course

img_4119-1Outside of Visitor Center – flowers everywhere in town!

Loved the moss roof of the Welcome Center!

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!

uThese 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!

Surprise Glacier – Alas we didn’t see the Glacier calving.

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!


Two of many Exhibit rooms – Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline

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