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 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!

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!

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!

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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

Denali, Alaska

Hello family and friends!

We hope this post finds you well and happy! For those suffering, we continue to keep you in our prayers. Please stay strong!

As mentioned in our last post, after leaving Fairbanks, we next traveled to Denali National Park and Preserve.  We had reservations for five days at the Denali Rainbow Village RV Park conveniently located just outside of the Park.  The sites were very tight and pricey but being near the park, groceries, and a few restaurants made it worth the cost. (i.e., One regular load of laundry was $5 which, to date, is the highest we have paid for doing our laundry anywhere in the US or Canada.)

50E6B68B-D96E-4CE3-9999-3619189FAE5DWe first hiked the Horseshoe Lake trail which is an easy/moderate Loop providing some brilliant photo opportunities. We saw birds, beavers, beaver lodges, and dams. Although we didn’t see any large wildlife we did see moose prints as we walked along the lake.

Debbie and Kenny – Horseshoe Lake Trail
Beaver Dam – Horseshoe Lake Trail
Susan and Mark – Horseshoe Lake Trail

Kenny, Susan, and Mark had their hearts set on flightseeing around Denali which is the tallest mountain peak in North America. I abstained simply because I had no desire to 🤮 all over my friends. Great decision on my part as the ride was a bit bumpy.

According to the pilot, only 10% of those flightseeing actually view Denali. They were in the 10%! It was a crystal clear day without cloud coverage. All were amazed, inspired, and awed by the beauty of Denali and the National Park. It was so clear that they were able to see the base camp from which about 20 mountaineers were starting their attempt to reach the top of Denali. For individuals wishing to take on the challenge, there is only a small window of time to complete the climb. The average expedition is three to four weeks. Last year approximately half of those who attempted the climb failed.

Denali in all her glory!
Susan and Mark – Taking in the views
Amazing Flightseeing!

The following day, we had signed up for a Tundra Tour which was a half day trip on the tundra following the same path that Christopher Johnson McCandle took when he went to live in the wilderness. You may recall the book written about him, “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer.   Our tour was just okay. Most of the time we were dodging branches that whipped back at us as the six wheeler plowed through some overgrowth on either side of the vehicle. For those visiting Denali, we suggest that you spend your money on a nice dinner or anything else. But if the trip takes you to Christopher McCandle’s Magic Bus, (river has to be dry or really low), that would be extremely cool.

The fabulous four posing upon return from Tundra Tour
Base Camp for Tundra Tour – served up coffee, blueberry muffins, fire, and inspiring views

One afternoon, we spent at the Denali Sled Dog Kennels. The Kennels hold three presentations per day and the park shuttle bus can pick you up at the Denali Visitors Center. Led by the Ranger, there was a presentation of the training of the dogs, their different personalities, how the dogs get harnessed, and a live presentation of the dogs pulling. It was free, fun, and entertaining. During the coldest winter months, the Rangers utilize the dog teams to patrol the Park as well as to bring equipment and supplies to scientists located in remote areas.

The highlight of our time in Denali was a full day bus trip to Eielson Visitor Center which is on the Green Transit Bus. It is $40 round trip and you bring your own lunch, snacks, and drinks. The driver stops anytime someone spots wildlife to allow the passengers to take pictures and periodically stops for use of the rest room facilities.

Although a rainy day, we took part in the Ranger Walk. We followed a small trail which was close to the Visitors Center and the Ranger spoke to us about wildlife, wildflowers, bushes, sights of wildlife activity, and even scat! The walk was interesting and informative.

Kenny and Debbie – Eielson Visitor Center
The Visitor Center provides panoramic views of Denali

The center also showed several films. The day we visited three different films were shown. All were professionally produced and focused on Park safety. They addressed how to prepare for chance encounters with wildlife in the park and backpacking safety in Denali. There is a high chance of encountering wildlife anywhere at any time in the Park and safety precautions are certainly needed.

Loved this sign so had to post it

On the day long trip we saw Moose, Caribou, Bear, Elk, and Dahl Sheep. If in Denali, we strongly suggest you take this tour. With the spectacular views and the abundance of wildlife sightings, this is a trip we will forever remember.

Next stop – Anchorage! Until next time, we raise our wine glasses and toast to you:

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. – Edward Abbey

Alaska or Bust!

Hello Friends and Family!

We are officially in Alaska and I’d like to share with you some parts of our journey to date from Cochrane, BC to Fairbanks, Alaska. So, here goes!!

On June 7, we reconnected with our travel buddies, Susan and Mark. In our hearts that is when our trip to Alaska began even though we left SC May 1.

Kenny and I and Susan and Mark (they are always the photo bombers)

From Cochrane we traveled to Banff, then onto Jasper. In Jasper, we hiked Maligne Canyon which is a limestone canyon with great photo opportunities. There are six bridges which allows one to view the canyon from different perspectives and waterfalls of various heights and sizes that will surprise you as you hike and explore. Visit http://www.malignecanyon.com

Some beautiful views from our hike.

At our campsite in Jasper, Kenny was “elk-jacked” when he was walking to the recycling area. When he finished dropping off recyclables, he turned around to find himself surrounded by ~15 elk (bulls, cows and calves). The bulls gave Kenny the “stink eye” making certain that Kenny wouldn’t interfere with the herd. All he wanted to do was to get around them safely. They are big animals and protective of their young. He had to walk a great distance to get around them.

The beautiful emerald Lake Louise

In Banff, we drove to Lake Louise which is a spectacular sight. The day was rather chilly and had off/on rain. Regardless, we got some good shots then had drinks and appetizers at Fairmont Chateau overlooking the emerald beauty, warm and dry.

Fairmont Chateau

During our travel days we saw wildlife almost every single day. While driving we ran into wildlife traffic jams as well as having our own private sightings as we traveled along the highway. Moose cows with their calf or sometimes calves! We also saw a Grizzly bear, elk, caribou and black bears.

Grizzly bear along the side of the highway. With two cubs but couldn’t capture them in the picture.

We next traveled to Grand Prairie, Alberta, Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson which is in British Columbia. Our next hotspot, pun intended, was Liard Hot Springs which is also in British Columbia. At our campsite there was a resident Bison that wandered into the camp both morning and early evenings to pose for us. Staying a good distance away was a must, but clearly he had no problem with the many campers snapping shots of him while he lazily enjoyed the nearby grasses.

Our posing Bison

Never having been to a hot spring before, I pictured myself soaking in the luxurious minerals with a glass of wine in hand and looking up at the twinkling stars overhead. Not so much. It is a natural hot spring which has cubbies for keeping your towels, clothes, etc. and sets of stairs so you can easily walk down into the springs. The water was hot in a variety of areas almost scalding. But once in, soaking was very relaxing. However, alcohol wasn’t allowed and we were there just before the Summer Solstice so a glass of wine and seeing stars was out of the question. Not exactly how I pictured it but nonetheless very enjoyable.

Enjoying the Liard HOT hot springs!

We overnighted at Teslin, Yukon, then went onto Whitehorse. The highlight in Whitehorse was a visit to the Yukon Wildlife Preserve which was such a gem! Five stars out of five! We were able to have a good hike while exploring the 700+ acre preserve with extremely large natural habitats. Visit http://www.yukonwildlife.ca.

Arctic Fox
Thin horned sheep – he liked being photographed
Kenny finally grew a pair!
Look at that rack!
One foot in Yukon, one foot in Alaska – Hurray, we have arrived!

On June 21, we crossed the border into Alaska. Finally in Alaska! We settled in Fairbanks just prior to the Summer Solstice which was unplanned. Highlights of Fairbanks were a 8 hour car trip to the Arctic Circle (where even Mark’s Tundra was challenged), a “tour” with Mary Shields (the first woman to complete the Iditarod) and the Fairbanks Summer Solstice Festival.

Though a rainy, muddy day we made it!!!
Note posted in Bureau of Land Management – on journey to Arctic Circle

At the Arctic Circle we received certificates to prove we were there. Thanks Mark and Susan for your remarkable driving skills! It was a long taxing day of rain and mud but we made it! The “tour” Tails of the Trail was really more like a visit with Mary Shields and her dogs as she unfolded her start in Alaska as a young woman, stories about her dog sledding adventures, and life in Alaska. Honestly, if ever in Alaska, sign up for her “tour”. She had us spellbound for the three hours we spent with her and her team. Kristina, her assistance, was as lovely as Mary. Visit http://www.maryshields.com for more information.

The sweetest of Mary’s sled dogs with Kenny. Aptly names Too-sweet!
Big Boy – one of Mary’s sled dogs
What an honor to have spent time with this amazing woman – truly an honor!

Our next adventure is Denali. Until then, we raise our wine glasses and toast to you:

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

Bryce Canyon is “One hell of a place to lose a cow.” Ebenezer Bryce

Hello Friends and Family!We have been having terrific adventures in the past few weeks. We are heading to our Alaska trip (starts June 7).  As we started our journey, we were able to catch up with our cousins in Tucson, AZ and hit some hot spots we missed when we were last out West. (Thanks cousins for spending some quality time with us! We will see you at Kayla and Matthew’s wedding in March!)

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View from our Rig

On May 18, we arrived in Page, AZ, and stayed at the picturesque Wahweap Campground overlooking Lake Powell. The Campground was set up as tiers to provide the view of the Lake as well as Navajo Mountain. We highly recommend staying there. Beautifully landscaped, we felt it to be more private than many we have stayed in before.

We hiked to Horseshoe Bend located in Glen Canyon. It’s an easy 2.6 miles out and back and provides stunning blue and green colors of the Colorado River against the red rock. Photos we took actually look fake. But they are not! We took them! Definitely worthy of a short hike. (Have to say that it was difficult to watch children not being parented as they walked freely on uneven terrain close to extremely steep, deadly, cliffs. Grrrrrr!) While we were there, we next visited the Lower Antelope Canyon. It is necessary to have a Navajo Guide so reservations are the smart way to go. You can show up and if someone is a no-show, you may be able to join the group. We highly recommend going through Ken’s Tours. Thanks Christie for your recommendation on this! Upon entering the canyon you are immediately stunned by the beauty of the natural rock formations. With the changes of light against the stone, we think any time of day would provide professional looking pictures but seeing the variety of stone formations, the smooth weathered rocks deserves a first hand experience. If you have a bucket list, add this tour to it! The pictures below are the best of the 100+ pictures we took – all amazing.The last day in Page we took a day trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Yes, you can easily do this from Page if you aren’t planning on doing the major hikes. We only hiked out to Bright Angel’s Point. Although it was a short hike, we were up so high overlooking the Canyon, it made me feel uneasy and I kept as far away from the cliff edges as I could.  The widths of the path were smaller than many we have been on. We got some nice shots and had a cool beer relaxing at the Lodge enjoying our view of the canyon before heading back to Page.Then onto our next adventure, Bryce Canyon, by far the most breathtaking of all the Canyons we have seen. We stayed at Ruby’s RV Campground located just outside Bryce’s entrance. Bryce is extremely well organized with shuttles running every ten minutes which, conveniently for us, stopped at our campground. It was easy to get into and around the park. We hiked from the Sunset trailhead on the Navajo trail finishing at the Sunrise trailhead. This trail is extremely popular and it brings you to the bottom of the canyon then back up again.  Hoo Doos were so crazy!  Again, we thank Christie for her advice. If we had hiked in the opposite direction, the strenuous ascent up to the Sunset trailhead, would have been a tough way to end our hike.Our suggestion for those who may be visiting the park in the future. Be sure to sign up for the Bryce Canyon Rainbow Tour. You can make a reservation up to 7 days in advance.  We are certain the tour fills up quickly during busy season. It is free to those who have an Annual National Park Pass, Senior Pass, Access Pass or Bryce Valid Entrance Receipt. There are two tours daily 9:00 am and 1:30 pm. Each are approximately 3.5 hours long. As noted above, with the appropriate access pass, it is free and you are not allowed to tip the guide either! Our Guide, April, was a local deeply rooted in the area and had so many stories, information on history, geology, flora and fauna, birds, wildlife, and just entertaining with jokes and chatter. The tour was over before we realized it. Do it!We wrapped up our visit at Bryce with a horse trail ride starting on the Sunrise trailhead and descending into the canyon on a horse trail which is not open to hikers providing a different view of the Canyon. Because it so steep, because you are riding a horse or mule, because the horse or mule decides to walk very close to the very edge of the trail, and because there were hairpin turns, I closed my eyes several times knowing that my horse, Sassy, didn’t want to fall off the cliff either. I fell in love with her over the next few hours as did Kenny with his horse, Patricia. Both were beautiful animals, comfortable mounts and just perfect for us. Well worth seeing Bryce from a different angle, on an animal so attached to the canyon.We are so fortunate to be born in this gorgeous Country! Kenny and I are so grateful that we are able to visit these spectacular jaw dropping places. We are onto Zion next.

Until next time, we pray all are doing well and/or improving in health. Please know we miss you everyday but feel we must try to complete our never ending bucket list. We raise our wine glasses to toast to all:

Sail away from the safe harbors. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain (What a clever man he was, Agreed?)

Okefenokee Swamp Trip

 

66B7D056-03A7-44BD-95CC-4194F5499F3CHi Family and Friends!

We just completed our WorkKamper positions at Point South KOA in Yemassee, SC.  As some of you know after leaving FL we went back there to work in March and April (their busy season).  We had a lot of fun, visited Savannah and Charleston numerous times, made wonderful new friends, and learned a lot about KOA and WorkKamper positions. We will certainly explore looking at additional opportunities in the future. We are now off to a new adventure! Our current plans are to head West, then up to Alaska!

BBF726FA-F415-41EB-BABA-92208F6B0BF8.jpeg My favorite coffee to make at Point South KOA – S’more Latte

We left SC last week and met up with our friends, Susan and Mark A. We met at a park that was approximately the halfway point between Palm Coast, FL (where they are) and Yemassee, SC.  Mark located a State Park that fit the bill – Laura S. Walker State Park in Waycross, GA. Susan discovered a great place to visit nearby, Okefenokee Swamp Park which is also in Waycross.  It was such a great find!

Traveling along Swamp on tour – beautiful and no bugs!519A86FA-9BE3-4061-AAC9-62B1057FBC2C

Alligator nest – females return to same nest each year.  Temperature determines sex of babies

0F6E1876-B468-4078-A49A-C08C48B5FE6DCombination Package for our visit was $27.00/per person. Although it sounds a bit pricey, it includes a 45 minute boat excursion into the swamps. Our Guide was extremely knowledgeable and so passionate about the native plants, the alligators, the history – just a wealth of interesting and informative data.   This Swamp was his playground growing up and all of the stories and information he shared was fascinating.

Next you board the Swamp Park Train which is a 1.5 mile railway system that circles the park and brings you to Pioneer Island. The Conductor/Engineer/Guide had also grown up in this area and was just as well informed about the history of the swamp and had great stories about specific alligators and alligator behavior.

A short hike on a low walkway right on top of the Swamp leads to a 90′ observation tower where you can have a panoramic view of the entire area! The walk into the Swamp and climb to the top of the tower is worth every step. Because of the possibility of alligators, snakes, and other wildlife you can’t go on the walkway without signing a liability form. Somehow that made it even more exciting to walk into the Swamp.

“Crazy” is currently the dominant male at the park.  He is huge and goes anywhere he pleases.  He’s even been seen in the parking lot!

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Rounding everything off was a Wildlife Show where you are introduced to snakes, turtles, and a alligator which you can touch or hold, if you’d like.

It was a full day of fresh air, friends, sun, and tons of information coming from people who lived and loved the Swamp and all of the critters who lived there. Although off the beaten path, if you are ever in the area take time to enjoy this little gem in GA.

Until next time, we raise our wine glasses and toast to our beloved Uma:  Our beautiful girl passed on 4/21/18.  She’s been an amazing traveling partner and is missed every day.  We are grateful that we had her with us for part of our adventures. 

 

 

Most Recent Adventure – Poland!

Hello friends and family,

Felt like writing today so I am writing.  Kenny and I have been transitioning from WorkKampers back to retirement.  All is now behind us but I really want to backtrack a bit.  We haven’t had an amazing adventure for a while and since we had one which was particularly fun, we wanted to share some of the highlights in our blog.

If you read our last post, you know that our middle daughter and her now husband, Dan, were married in June. What you probably don’t know is that they also had a wedding reception in Poland where many of Dan’s family and friends live.  And, Kenny and I were fortunate enough to be able to enjoy that wonderful event as well.  The celebration took place on Friday, September 9 and Nikki, Dan, and I had planned to arrive early in order to see some of the beautiful sights that Poland has to offer.  

We arrived in Berlin and ultimately traveled to Szczecin where the reception was held.  With Dan (who is fluent in Polish), Nikki, Kenny, and I went to Poznan, Gdańsk, Kolobrzeg, then Szczecin.  A whirlwind adventure with our last day in Poland attending their wedding reception and absorbing all of the wonderful love and blessings from Dan’s family and friends.

Poznan is located on the Warta River and is a renaissance Old Town which is one of the oldest cities.  It is a photographer’s dream – the colorful tenements, the architecture – spectacular!  We explored the city and I took hundreds of photos attempting to capture the city’s essence.  Nikki found a charming cafe where we enjoyed a spectacular brunch with amazing presentations of each dish.

Interesting building – like this shot but needs to be cropped, any suggestions?
Long Market on a quiet Sunday
Sweet little cafe
Inside is so bright and cheery

Cafe lattes were so yummy.

Next we travelled to Gdańsk which is on the Baltic Sea.  As it is the center for the world’s Amber trade, of course we had to buy some amber.  The city was reconstructed after WWII.  Again, the architecture and the colors of the city were a joy to see and photograph.  Although a very popular tourist attraction, the atmosphere was relaxed, not the hustle and bustle of big cities of the US.  We strolled Long Market and soaked it all in.  The Museum of the Second World War, which was opened in March 2017, is a must to see.  The museum is devoted to WWII. The building itself is an architectural wonder (see photo) and the main exhibitions offers up not only the Polish experience of the war but also includes in its exhibits European and international context.  You could easily spend a full day there.
View from Museum
 

Museum of the Second World War

Kołobrzeg, on the south coast of the Baltic Sea, is known for their spas and wellness centers. As part of most health plans you can travel there for two paid weeks of wellness care.  Okay, how do we that into our medical plans?  We strolled the promenade, hiked up the lighthouse, people watched, took a Viking vessel on the Baltic Sea, had outfits to don to capture the Viking persona, and took some great pictures.  Note:  Ancesty.com has Kenny at 91% Viking.  Crazy, right?  Our last stop was Szczecin which is on the Order River, near the border of Germany.  The reason we travelled to Poland has arrived – their Polish reception – Hooray!

Kenny and Debbie waiting to board
Kenny getting his Viking on!
Dan And Nikki at top of lighthouse
          

We didn’t quite know what to expect.  We learned a few Polish phases before arriving but honestly, very few.  And yet, we received hugs and kisses of true joy that we, as Nikki’s parents, were joining the family.  OMG many foods were new to us, so tasty, and the courses just kept on coming .  Every time you turned around another course was being served and this went on all night long! Loved every minute of the family celebration of Dan and Nikki’s marriage.

Pokora tradition ensures no hangovers!
                                                                          

The Lovebirds ❤️ ❤️
Cake with Fireworks 💥 💥

                                                  

Polish wedding receptions have three million courses of amazing food offerings.   Each table had vodka, carafes of apple juice, orange juice, and water.   In the Pokora tradition, a big market cart was placed at the entrance with sausages and meats, a barrel of bacon and lard, pickles, huge hunks of bread and family homemade vodka.  Partaking these offerings in a certain order will guarantee that you will not have a hangover.  So much dancing, singing, and fun.  Oh, and of course, vodka toasts!  We are so grateful that we were able to visit Poland and meet Dan’s family and friends.  We will have to visit again since we didn’t have enough time to explore everything that Poland offers.  I could never capture the joy of their reception in Poland but we will forever cherish it.

Until next time, we lift our glasses to friends and family and toast to you.  Have an amazing holiday season and a happy and healthy 2018!

Happiness is not something readymade.  It comes from your own actions.  Dalai Lama

   

Let Wedding Bells Ring

 

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Nikki and Daniel Pokora
Hello Family and Friends,

Kenny and I have agreed to stop apologizing for a time between posts.  Why bother, it is always the same excuse.  We are just having fun, enjoying life, and continue to be grateful that we are healthy so that we are able to continue to have fun adventures in our RV.

Since starting as Work Kampers, we have been diligent in learning our new responsibilities.  Point South KOA is a very popular spot for travelers, is quite busy, but also a lot of fun.  This KOA is a Journey KOA and described (by KOA) “the perfect oases after a  long drive on the road.”   Honestly who wouldn’t want to stop here?  Goodness, we have a full service coffee bar, wine tasting every night, pizza, chicken wings and draft ale that specifically goes along with pizza.  It is no wonder that we have so many returning customers!  They just won, again, the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for 2017.   We are very proud to be part of the summer season team.  Every evening it is like building a new village.   In the morning, most depart and the building of a new village begins anew.  So, it is always interesting.  We meet so many campers and they come from all over the world.  Check out the website:  www.pointsouthkoa.com.

We started working/training mid-April and left on June 1st to go to our middle daughter, Nikki’s, and our now new son-in-law, Dan’s, wedding.  The wedding is difficult to capture in words. Dan and Nikki planned each detail from start to finish and it can only be described as enchanting, magical, and honestly, amazing.

The venue was a perfect place for their wedding since they have hiked Mt. Washington on numerous occasions and that is where Dan proposed to Nikki.  Held at Hardy Farms in Fryeburg, Maine, which used to be a B&B, this property allowed for several of the wedding party to stay at the location of the wedding.  Other family and wedding party guests were able to stay at the Lodge which is on the same property.  The Lodge also housed several friends of the bride and groom that traveled from great distances to attend the celebration.  There was a trolley available to bring other friends and family from their North Conway lodging to the wedding.

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Arbor that Dan made!
Details for the wedding were “Martha Stewart” like.  Very elegant, very thoughtful.  From the flower petals that led to the arbor that Dan designed, to the packet of rose petals to toss at the newly wedded couple, to the memorial table showcasing those who have passed that the couple wished where there.  Their pictures were displayed on a moss and succulent display – so touching.  Dinner was delicious and held under a huge tent with rustic lighting and large heaters to ensure all were comfortable.  Dan and Nikki thought of everything!

Next, all were moved to the Barn to continue the celebration.  Great DJ and rocking music followed.  When the music and dancing ended, it was outside for a fire and s’mores.  The wedding favors were just perfect.  Since they both are avid gardeners, seed packets were appropo.  Nikki, Dan, and Zoe (our eldest daughter) painstakingly counted out seeds for each favor.  Purple basil, nasturtium, dill, sweet 100 tomatoes, sunflowers, marigolds, buttercrunch lettuce, and cucumbers were lovingly compiled into a textured envelope labeled: Let Love Grow.

We can safely say that a fun time was had by all!  I wish I had better pictures of the “dance off” between Evan (Brett and Kari’s 9 year old son) and Kenny.  Evan’s got the moves and Kenny took up the challenge.  I thought Kenny might keel over but he held his own with the talented Evan.

View More: http://springsmithstudiosgallery.pass.us/nikki-dan-wedding
Ken and Evan chest bump during their epic dance off.
Nikki and Dan’s wedding was perfect and, as far as we know, neither of them ever turned into Bride or Groom Zilla.  Kenny and I are very happy to have Dan and his wonderful family formally join with ours.   We wish everyone could have attended this blessed event.

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Zoe, Nikki, and Katie – our gorgeous daughters
Ilona and Arthur, our new son-in-laws’ parents, have arranged for a reception in Poland where many of their family live.  We are looking forward to Nikki and Dan’s celebration in September and very excited about visiting Poland.

Upon our return to SC, we left to spent a few days exploring Savannah with our friends, Susan and Mark.  We celebrated July 4th along the river watching fireworks.  What a beautiful southern city!  The architecture is spectacular and learning so much about its history was fascinating.  We understand now that there is quite a bit of gang activity.  We don’t plan on ever visiting Savannah at night again, but it definitely is fun during the day and we will return before we finish our time in SC.

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Ken and Mark with wax figure bum – Prohibition Museum Savannah
We know from conversations that many of our family and friends are dealing with some extremely difficult health and personal issues.  We continue to pray for you.  Stay positive, stay strong!

Until next time, we lift our wine glasses and toast to the newlyweds:

When children find true love, parents find joy.  Here’s to your joy and ours from this day forward.  Congratulations to the happy couple!  Anonymous