Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Going to Alaska, We are Headin North Today

We have both dreamed of the far north since we were little children. The thoughts of bears, birds, rocks, gold, and salmon have been in our thoughts  but little did we think it would take us so long to head for the country.  We even contemplated moving there in the seventies, as I started my teaching career, but I couldn’t afford the cost of a plane ticket and so I cancelled the interview and took a teaching job in Wyoming.

So here we are,  ready to cross the border.  The checklist has been substantial but it is almost completed:

Inspect brakes and repack wheel bearings

New tires to replace the damage from the suspension failure (set of four)

Guidebooks for Alaska, Milepost and the Church’s Guide

Planning for bear encounters,(basically make lots of noise while we hike)

Ac/dc freezer for fish storage

Dog’s health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination

Truck Oil and Lube

Rotate truck tires

Border forms for long guns

New fly rod and salmon flies

Storage of all of our rock collection and jewelry items, (It has come to our attention that we would have to pay a tariff for taking our stuff across the border)

Appointment and checks for our doctors and cardiologist,(done, done, and done!)

New bike tire and tube

Route planning, 2800 miles from Pinedale, Wyoming to Fairbanks(We have already driven 1500 from Texas)

Cleaning and organizing the fifth wheel and truck for the anticipated hassles and inspections, relating to crossing back and forth from the US to Canada and to the US

Truck and Car insurance verification

General repairs to the fifth wheel, (in other words I am finally doing most of the honey do list items)

New plates for the truck

Funding by withdrawing money from our IRAs
Landscaping our lot, notice the rock pile from the back of the truck

New cooler that doesn’t  smell like shrimp/fish and attract bears, we will buy this before we cross the border)
Fix windshield chips

Putting our Etsy shop in vacation mode, actually we had to close it but they are reserving our name and item descriptions for us.

So we are  ready. Our plans are to cross the border around the second of June and to return to the lower forty eight around September first,(my drivers license expires and we have to show all kinds of proof that we are Wyoming residents for homeland security requirements). We do plan on keeping the blog entries as current as possible, all though it will be in spurts as we can’t afford to access the internet while in Canada, using our Verizon wifi. We also plan to keep our budget and trip logs, as usual, and publish them on line.  Renita  says this trip is more like a vacation then our normal travels and I agree so we will buy lots of t shirts! The excitement is almost unbearable and we will leave this morning!  Clear skies

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rainy Days In Daniel, Geocacheing and XBox Music

Well the rain and snow stayed but at least it didn't accumulate. So we talked about what to do and Matt found some more geocaches that were along the road. Grabbing our raincoats and rain pants we headed out in search of hidden treasures.
The first geocache was the hardest. It was a micro cache and added to its small size it was covered in camouflage tape. It wasn't hard to find the general area but we all walked by the cache several times before Matt spied it hanging on a tree. It was just as hard to unroll the papers and sign our names, then roll the papers back and stuff them into the tube.
As we drove to the next gps cache we talked about the small size and how we all had been looking for another ammo box, like the one we had found the first day. Arriving at the next spot we parked and looked, even crossing the fence before Matt told us that the caches were all on public land, so we crossed back.
A gopher watched and probably it seemed like it was trying to figure out what the stupid people were doing. After all there was good grass and the sun actually had come out for a little bit. It took us a while before we found the microcache, and again camouflaged to blend with its surroundings.
Our next cache was west along a gravel road and we hunted a bit before we realized we were not far enough to the south to find the location. A four wheel drive road led in the general direction of the ridge but it was wet and generally four wheel drive roads in Wyoming are best left untraveled in wet weather.
Returning back to the kids house we rested and visited until after dinner. Matt broke out the guitar, microphone, and drum set and we took turns being rock stars. It was really fun to play on the XBox and if we had the room we probably would buy a game console and the equipment, but we don't have the room as we reserve our spare space for rocks.
It had been a great visit and it snowed hard the next day so we hooked up the house,(fifth wheel), and drove back to Star Valley. It does our hearts good to see Matt and Patty so in love and doing well in such a beautiful but harsh country. Clear skies

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Renita's A Smooth Operator

I could tell she was nervous, heck we both were but our daughter Patty insisted that Renita learn to run the skidster. After all if you are going to collect rocks lets really get after it! So after  brief instructions she tentatively raised the bucket and was soon heading down the road.
Avoiding Matt's patrol car,(its not good to hit a state troopers car), she revved the throttle and cruised down the road at a breakneck speed of almost four miles an hour! The top end on the device is seven miles per hour. Turning on the driveway she made a doughnut and then another and I could see her bright smile as she sped by me.
Coming to a stop she opened the cab and then told me she wanted one. My turn was next and Matt told me it was just like driving a tank on a video game, with two levers for steering and two sets of controls for the bucket. I opted to use the ones on the stick and now I sped down the driveway making my own doughnuts as I turned. We had a blast and its a good thing we don't have a place for one!
That afternoon we decided to drive along the Green River and check it out as a possible canoe float. Turning on the gravel road past the bridge we were surprised to find a great gravel BLM road and campsite after campsite, all with pit toilets and all right on the river.
Returning to the highway Matt and Patty asked us if we had ever geocached and soon we were ducking though the willows trying to find a standard cache. I walked right by it as I was glued to our gps device and but  the kids found it, stuffed in a willow and covered with some branches!
Surprisingly we didn't have any rocks so we just signed the notebook and added our card. We looked at some  skeletons, one a moose and the other a coyote, but decided we didn't need any more souvenirs. Driving back to our fifth wheel. parked along side their house, we ended the day with deep fried Gulf Coast shark and whiting and we all agreed that the shark was the best. Who could ask for a better day, even though it snowed off and on and a cold north wind signaled the passage of a front! Clear skies.

ps Patty told us that the correct term is to operate heavy equipment, not to drive it, hence the smooth operator title

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Buying a Lot in Star Valley Rv Resort, Wyoming

Last year we traveled to western Wyoming and fell in love with the beauty of Star Valley. We stayed at an rv resort, parking on a lot owned by a friend we had met at the Escapade in Gillette. While there we even met with a real estate agent but decided not to buy a lot at that time.
We both agreed that the place was beautiful and that the resort had so much to offer. Surrounded by mountains and only fifty miles from the Tetons, the valley has easy access for fly fishing and canoeing on both the Salt and Snake rivers.
So we returned this spring to look at the lots again and we discovered that the price had been lowered by five thousand dollars. Its still a lot of money and isn't the best investment one can make but it is part of an exit plan, for when we get tired of traveling.
Now we haven't yet tired, and we aren't making an exit from our lifestyle, but we do have a place that will allow us to do lapidary and it will allow us to collect and pile rocks up to our hearts content. We can also rent our lot out, as many here do so we now have a plan for the day we slow down,(or at least a partial plan). Clear skies

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Unexpected Happenings, The Sweetwater County Community 4H Dog Show!

As Molly and I were doing our morning walk, we noticed that people were setting up courses that looked like the dog obstacle courses you see on television. So after we finished our walk, I strolled over to find out what was going on. There I met one of the organizers, Courtney, who explained that this was the first ever Community Wide Dog Show and that I was welcome to take images for our blog.
Going back to tell Renita, we returned, camera in hand, and watched as we saw the dogs being put through their paces. There were four different courses the obstacle, the rally, the obedience course, and finally the showmanship. Watching the dogs and their handlers we realized how much we had neglected in training our traveling companion.
It was fun to watch the dogs run the obstacle course and there was lots of different experience levels between the dogs. It looked like the dogs loved it as some were old hands and some were just plain puzzled by some of the hurdles.
We watched as an Austrian Shepherd was being put through his paces on the obedience course. A breed we had never heard of, the Austrian Shepard was one of the most stunning dogs we have ever seen. The owner talked about the breed and has a web site called: Wind River Austrian Shepard's.
A little further a German Shepard was being judged in the showmanship event and it was a learning experience to see dogs being judged live, versus watching dog shows on the television.. Another tent was set up by the Sweetwater Humane Society and we chatted a bit with those folks, who had been invited to participate along by the 4H organizers.
One of the fun things about traveling is to see communities where the people take pride and involve youth and this of course is what 4H is all about. So we tip our hats to the organizers and to all who participated in the 1st Sweetwater County Community 4H Dog show! Clear skies

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Brief Stop at Boysen State Park

We left Keyhole State Park and drove 270 miles to Boysen State Park. Now we don't really like driving that far but the weather, wind, was beautiful and so Renita did some wheel time between Casper and the park. She was nervous about about driving through the towns but it was fine and it gave me a much needed rest.
Now one of the reasons we so like to keep our Wyoming residency is because the yearly Wyoming resident state park pass allows us to camp, dry camp, for free with a limit of 14 days per month. As we arrived at Boysen we found that there were only three other campers at Tuff Creek Campground and so we had our choice of spots.
Deciding to stay for two nights we got up the next morning and puttered around the campsite before heading off to fuel up, fish, and even do some rock hounding. Driving into Shoshoni we gasped a bit at the price of diesel, 4.19 a gallon. As I didn't need a lot we paid the price as it would allow us to drive to Rock Springs without worrying about stopping in between.
Our next stop was below the Boysen Dam, inside the state park campgrounds. The sites were all unoccupied and I cast a crank bait a few places in hopes of a walleye or trout but none offered themselves for dinner. I did find several brand new spinners that someone had forgotten along the shore and added them to my collection for grayling in Alaska.
Driving upstream we passed the power plant, where signs were posted warning us not to approach the power plant. We stopped for a picture of the lake and as Renita took more images I spied another sign that warned stopping was forbidden, oops.
Reaching the highway we turned south and stopped along the road, at a place where we had seen a woman picking up rocks. Quickly Renita was out the door and the rocks were in trouble, or at least our clean truck was and before too long she had her hands and pockets full of adventurine and Wyoming bloodstone.
There was also lots of other pretty rocks and anyone with a rock tumbler wouldn't have any problem getting a years supply of stone, in a very short time. As we actually have most of the rock we need, yeah I actually said it, we returned most of our finds to the ridge, keeping a few pieces to scatter at our son's house, (They have ten acres and certainly won't notice a few more rocks, hmm I wonder if Patty is reading this?)
So the weather forecast is for light winds and we head out for more doctors appointments in Rock Springs. We also have some other items to attend to as we ready ourselves for an Alaskan adventure. We are both so excited as we have never seen Russia before and we do plan on passing through Wasilla! Clear skies.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Walking in The Park, Sunstones, and Renita's Birthday!

It was really fitting, us being in Renita's favorite campsite and favorite park. It was her birthday after all and while we had nothing special planned it was ok. We celebrated the day with a nice walk, her favorite meal, and a new present, one that's definitely not for sale.
Being the only ones in the campground we walk each day and watch the geese, enjoy the deer, and gather firewood. Each time we walk the geese head to the water displaying their anger at our presence by cackling and honking as they herd their young ones to safety.
There are feathers all around, that have been chewed on in our campsite, and coyote scat is nearby so its no wonder they flee. Molly actually refuses to go in the direction that we think the coyotes have a den. So we don't know if its the scent or if she hears their barks, but she firmly plants her feet and turns to head for the house.
We celebrated Renitas birthday with her favorite meal, roast pork with potatoes and carrots. She doesn't eat applesauce anymore as it has too much sugar but I lit a candle and presented it to her on top of a bowl of strawberries.
Afterwards it was time for a card and her birthday present, and of course it was a pendant. When we were in Livingston, Texas we met Greg and Karen and we exchanged rocks. Of course we got the better of it as Karen gave us some sunstone rough.
I later worked the sunstone rough into a cabochon and then wrapped it in 14k gold filled wire. It turned out really beautiful as the Oregon stone contains some copper and you can clearly see the red color that these stones are prized for.
Now the joke among ourselves is that I wrap pieces and leave them for her on the table. She looks at them and then asks me if its just for her. "Of course it is, my love, at least till we sell it!", I always reply but this one is special and is really just for her. Its definitely nfs, not for sale.
Happy birthday Renita and of course, clear skies.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Waiting out the Cold in Rapid City

We continued our northward sprint by driving three legs from Oklahoma to Kansas, next to Nebraska, and finally a leg to Rapid City, South Dakota. The first two legs were really pretty boring as we drove past wheat fields and oil wells and that was pretty much it. The third leg became scenic as we drove into the pine trees north of Chadron, Nebraska and as we skirted the Black Hills.
Of course we had to stop at the Cabelas in Sidney and there I bought a new fly rod and reel. Now I had been using one I got from my Grandpa Huber, so long ago, and it still works and catches fish but it is an old automatic and is extremely awkward when casting and reeling in. I had already decided to buy the best reel I could find and so now I am a proud owner of a Ross reel and matching fly rod(I sold a gold necklace that I had bought years ago). I hope to break it in in Wyoming before we head across the border and I have even located my trout flies.
Arriving at Rapid, we enjoyed two nice days and then the bottom dropped out of the thermometer. Temps dipped to the thirties at night and the wind howled as rain buffeted our fifth wheel. At least it wasn't snow and it did snow in Custer South, Dakota and the Bighorns of Wyoming. So we were at a good place, Three Flags Rv Park, where it cost eighteen bucks a night,(Passport America), for full hookups with thirty amp power.
On the way up I had noticed that the storage cover, wooden. had broken and so I decided to make a new cover for our heavy and awkward generator. By having it in the back of the pickup it allows us to easily connect to the fifth wheel. As we do a lot of boondocking and dry camping we can charge our battery banks and run the furnace as needed,(and its running right now off the batteries).
We also felt we needed to replace our tires, before our trip to Alaska, and so we went to a Michelein dealer who had the tires I wanted, XPS Ribs. They only cost, ahem, fourteen hundred and fifty dollars but our old tires were damaged from the suspension collapse and we wanted the best. Even though it meant we would have to forgo buying more rocks it was a necessary purchase, so now we have new tires that should last quite a while!
So now we have reached Wyoming and are dry camping. Three buck white tails approached our back window and an owl paid a visit last night so all is well. Our next order of business is for us to do our yearly doctor visits, getting our prescriptions renewed and seeing the kids. Clear skies