2010 Travel Blog

 April 2010 - Eight months of adventure as Terry and I towed a 29' travel  trailer to Alaska and lived in it till October.

Our Address in Alaska is; P.O. Box 1338  Haines, Ak 99827

This adventure of driving from Florida to Alaska started last fall when Terry accepted a 2010 one year half-time position sharing the dental practice at the SEARHC clinic in Haines, Ak. It's been a boatload of fun preparing and planning the logistics. Terry got the process started by going through his 29' Prowler trailer with a fine toothcomb fixing everything broken and upgrading most everything else.  I started making curtains and reupholstering the built-in banquet seats and sofa bed. On my trips to Florida through the winter we shopped for dishes, cookware, bedding, and non- perishables.  On each trip I'd take clothes and other personal things that I would leave in the trailer for the 'big trip'. In anticipation of being away from my Santa Clara home for so long I canceled my cable TV, internet service and home phone, becoming one of the many who survive entirely on cell phone service. And, most significantly, I rented out a room in my home to Mark, a friend who, along with my wonderful neighbors Darrel and Morgan, will keep the house in order and take care of my woofers Calli and Charley.

Finally, on Sunday, April 11th, I tucked the last of my necessities into my carry-on bags and headed to my Mum's place for cups of tea. There isn't enough tea in the world to comfort the fact that I will be away from her for an extended period of time. But I promise to call frequently and fly home every 4-6 weeks to see her and reconnect with my California life. Despite the built up excitement it turns out to be quite an anti-climatic moment when my friend Maarten drops me at the San Jose airport that night. As I stand on the sidewalk Maarten says "have the time of your life girl". And I expect I will. Then I board a sleepless one-way red-eye flight from San Jose to Atlanta and a connection to Gainesville. And there all my concerns melt away as Terry greets me with a big bear hug and twinkle in his eye. Maarten's advise is well taken.

We ease into our adventure by going directly from the airport in Gainesville to the one in Lakeland, Florida where we spend 6 days at the Sun'nFun Fly-in with Terry's family and their good friends George and Barbara Moore. This is tremendous fun for me and brings back years of memories of air-shows and fly-ins of days gone by.A few highlights are worth noting; Terry's aviation-oriented family were featured in a Barne's Family Fly-by honoring three generations of them (total of seven) who all got their pilot's licenses in the C-120 his parents bought in 1971. Both parents, three of their sons, and two grandkids. Terry was selected to remain on the ground in the announcer's stand to talk through the family history while the planes did two passes down the runway at low altitude. Quite a site and quite a story! Another highlight for me was seeing a PA-12 with two of the decals I designed, made and sold in the mid-80s proudly displayed on it's vertical stabilizer.  I was able to talk to the owner and hear how he came about getting these decals from the previous owner who had bought them from me 20 years ago! Made me feel nostalgic and proud. We spend 6 wonderful days walking around hundreds of airplanes, and strolling through acres of commercial aviation supplier booths. In the evenings we sit around a central Barne's Family campsite sharing food, singing songs and telling tales. Too much fun!! 

 
On Saturday, April 17th we break camp, say goodbye to everyone, and drive north to Terry's house where we spend one night and morning doing laundry and packing the rest of our gear. Sunday we drive away from the house a little later in the afternoon than we'd planned but in high spirits. The trailer, although not yet well organized, is stocked with most of the things we think we'll need to survive a 4500 mile drive across the continent followed by a summer in Alaska. Here's how it stacks up: The trailer's back top bunk is packed solid with musical instruments, their cases snuggled together like a series of dove- tailed joints. I initially thought maybe we were bringing too many but now I see that if even one had been left behind the whole stack would be missing a critical building block.  Terry's engineering skills miss no detail. The largest instrument by far is the stand-up bass and the smallest are a bag of harmonicas. Middle ground consists of two guitars, a banjo, mandolin, fiddle, autoharp, and a full size electric keyboard with stand. We will pretty much need to untangle them in order to play music but that's life in a 29 ft trailer. Inside the trailer the storage areas are packed with food, clothes, dishes, cookware, reading material, DVDs,  our computers, and an assortment of electronic cables, speakers, and cameras. I snagged a small wicker trunk from Terry's house that I filled with my Dog Fish tools, beads, silver, and supplies to keep the business going this summer. It makes a good 'coffee table' in the evenings. The storage area under the queen size bed is packed with aircraft batteries, cases of oil, and aircraft tools Terry will need to continue operating as a liscensed aircraft mechanic in Alaska. His first project will take place in Devils. lake ND later this week when he and Greg tackle the job of fitting Terry's C-185 with amphibious floats. The one bicycle we have with us rides in the banquet area and tucks away there surprisingly well. The truck pulling the trailer is loaded for bear with a 100 gal. auxiliary gas tank, a storage box full of sporting gear, more tools, a spare tire for the trailer, jumper cables, and a 2000 watt generator. A rack on the top of the truck carries our two Hobicat kayaks.  The back seat of the truck has been intentionally left uncluttered. I'm sure it won't take too long to crap it up with more essentials like beef jerky and chips. So here we are... a sight reminiscent of the Beverly Hillbillies... cruising down America's highways 

That first afternoon we sail north out of FL and into GA where we stop for the night with friends of Terry's who he's known for 40+ years. Richard and Candy have created a home and property that is a model of efficiency and esthetics. Beautiful gardens and fruit trees thrive while horses graze the lush fields surrounding their brick home. We enjoyed a lovely meal with them and hit the sack for an early morning departure. Monday Apr 19th we're on the road by 6;30am. We must cross the congested traffic sphincter of Atlanta before commute traffic captures us. As we drive past all the Georgia Tech exits I reminisce about the days I spent there on business for Intel. I had no idea then the direction my life would take after leaving Intel. I make note to remember how nothing stays the same. Why do we forget that little detail so easily? Other than G. Tech exits the freeway through Atlanta gives no clue where we are. We could be driving through Anytown, USA it is so generic. I get very excited though when I see the first road sign for Chattanooga. I mean this is Chattanooga Choo-Choo territory!  So excited I call Jody even though it is pretty darn early in Sausalito. Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it roll'in, ohh ohh Chattanooga here we come! Jody answers in less than 4 rings and shares my joy. At least he seems to. I see an official  sign for 'Historic Chatanooga Choo-Choo' but it sails past as we continue on our mission. Then quick as a bunny Chattanooga is behind us and we're in Nashville where I google Cost Plus World Market and Trader Joes. Must stock up on all those Trader Joe goodies we can't get in Alaska.  From Nashville it's a pretty straight run (very pretty) through the SW corner of Kentucky and up the left side of Illinois to St Louis. We remembered the small rural airport in East St Louis we'd stopped at last year for fuel and how the owner had given us tomatoes and peppers from his garden. So I call up. And he remembers us. And says we can park there for the night. We have a very nice visit with Ed Shafer and his son Mike who runs the FBO there. He takes us out for ice cream that night and in the morning we tour Mike's recording studio in his house near the runway. When we leave Mike gives us jars of homemade salsa to take to Alaska with us. I'm sure we'll suck up that salsa long before we get through Canada.

Point of fact; There are approximately 3 flea markets for every 50 miles of highway in the bible belt. Terry has a defective gene somewhere in his DNA and is unable to see them. Luckily he is able to see the (less frequent) military surplus outfits and offers to trade a visit to one of those for two flea market visits.  I'm thinking by the time we get to Canada I can parley a few harmless surplus outfits into two flea markets, a bead store, and a historical monument.

Missouri and Iowa take up all of Tuesday. The part I like is seeing the Missouri River alongside Nebraska and imagine this is what Lewis and Clark saw. Most of it appears to be unchanged from what it must have appeared to them. There are markers and monuments that we should be stopping at but the call of the road skews our sensibilities. At the end of a long day we pull into a Sioux City, Iowa Walmart parking lot and called it quits. Did you know that Walmart and Sam's Clubs across the nation allow RVs and long distance truckers to park in their lots overnight free of charge. It's a regular little gathering place for road warriors.  Wednesday early we fire up the generator, take showers right there in the parking lot, have a cup of tea, and head right into Walmart to buy more stuff.  I think Walmart is onto something here. The road north skirts the sides of Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota. We stop at Grand Forks for fuel and make a left turn east onto highway 2 arriving in Devil's Lake just before dark.  On our way out to Greg and Chris's farm we drive past the airport and see the C-185 on the ramp sitting on floats!!! We stop for a look and I marvel at how tall it is now. I need a stepladder just to get in! The internal linkages, hydraulics, pumping mechanisms for the retractable wheels and a million other details are not yet complete but it sure looks good sitting up so high in the air.  Greg and Chris's farm is right where we'd left it 8 weeks ago when we'd flown up here to drop off the C-185 but it looks different with all the snow melted away. As soon as we get the trailer hooked up and leveled the four of us go out for drinks, dinner, and catching up. Thursday, Friday and Saturday Greg and Terry sort out the mechanical details surrounding the complex installation of these floats. It turns out there are a few sub assemblies and custom parts that need to be ordered from an outfit in Idaho. They can't possibly get here before a week from Monday. So Terry and Greg do as much work as they can without the additional parts and we revise our plans. 

Installment 2
Sunday, April 25th. Terry and Greg spend the morning installing the water rudder retraction handle and I prepare the trailer to get back on the road. Mid-day we reassess the situation and come up with a new plan. I will take job at the local elementary school as a librarian and Terry will take a job with the same school district as a bus driver.... Oops...wrong plan. Instead we leave Devils Lake, ND late in the afternoon and head towards Haines, AK at breakneck speed in order to rush back to North Dakota to complete the float installation. We haven't thought this through very well but we have a sense of urgency surrounding getting the airplane airworthy. So here we are on the road again. Before we cross the boarder into Canada we top off our gas tanks with $2.99/gal. U.S. gas.  Now we have 126 gallons on board which (at a staggering 9.0 MPG) gives us a 1000+ mile range. We cross into Canada about 7pm, sun still high in the sky, and find a Walmart in Estevan, Saskatchewan where we can park the rig over night. These Walmarts are saving us $45-$50 bucks a night in campground fees of so we are now in love with Walmart. In the morning we start the long drive northwest across Saskatchewan, passing through the town of Regina (yes, it indeed rhymes with u-know-what) and through Saskatoon, (great name for a town), North Battlefield, Lloydminster and onto Edmonton in the province of Alberta. We pass by many Canadian gas stations with prices running over $1/liter. We take great satisfaction in re-filling our truck tank with the lower priced U.S. fuel we carry in our 100 gallon auxiliary tank. And you know what a wild woman I am for bargains. We (finally) stop for the night at Glowing Embers RV park in Edmonton, a very nice place but alas, no glowing embers in sight. In fact we arrive so late the place is closed but we pull in and plug in. It was very cold and very windy but it felt good to be off the road. Unfortunately, the prairie winds were so substantial Terry had get out of bed twice to silence a rattling exterior window shutter. I felt bad for him but Terry said I was the princess and it was his pleasure to get up and fix it. 
 
Point of Interest: It is very, very windy out here on the Canadian Prairie. "How windy is it ?" I ask Terry as the trailer door slams shut behind him as he returns from fixing the shutter. And so Terry tells me the story of Chicken Head Fred. He explains that it is so windy out here on the prairie that when Fred gathered up his chickens to put them in the hen house, his prized Santa Ruffino Rock Hen didn't quite make it safely inside when a gust of wind blew the hen house door partially closed. The chicken flapped it's wings in a futile attempt to get back to Fred but the wind was so strong that Fred could only watch as his prized chicken was blown out of sight. Fred lingered a moment before turning back towards the hen house. By then the wind had blown the chicken all the way around the globe and she was now bearing down upon Fred, rear end first, at a frightful speed. Well what happened next as Fred leaned into the wind with his somewhat pointed head (due to a difficult birth) goes down in prairie legend. The chicken's rear end, loosely defined, impacted Fred's pointed head with such force that Fred's head became surrounded by Santa Ruffino Rock Hen. The orientation was such that a chicken neck and head protruded from Fred's forehead and a wing sprouted from above each ear. Likewise a leg below each ear. Indeed Fred had become Chicken Head Fred. Now, suffice it to say there are many questions about the effect of this collision on the chicken, Fred, and whether or not Fred could breath or see with his head stuffed inside a chicken. Suffice again to say the chicken lived, Fred lived, and Elize and Terry lived to write about it out here on the windy Canadian prairie.
 
We leave Glowing Embers early before they open so I call later that day to give them my credit card info. They say they didn't even know we had been there but they are pleased to get the credit card number anyway.  Walmart would have let it go....   As we continued north west across Alberta I track our progress in the Alaskan Milepost Atlas which details every inch of the AlCan highway and most other major Canadian and Alaskan roads, As Terry drives I read details about upcoming towns and the slightly quirky things they tout about themselves. One town on our route that really catches my eye is Beaverlodge, Alberta, which vies against a town in Dauphin, Manitoba for the title of Canada's Largest Beaver Monument. Beaverlodge's 24' tall metal-frame-covered-in-urethane-foam beaver is the current record holder. Of course I am thrilled beyond belief that this is right on our route to Dawson Creek. Unfortunately Terry says the thought of a 24' tall beaver is too frightening and beforeI can make a solid objection he changes course and we miss it by a mere 15 miles. It takes me 150 miles to get over the loss. Another thing I notice about the Milepost Atlas is that font size does not correlate to the size of the towns. We get woofed by this a few times when we hold out for a town printed in point 14 font only to have our hopes dashed when we arrive to find it's smaller than the 12 point font town we passed by. I will write to the Atlas company to suggest they do a drive-by to correlate these inconsistencies. After the beaver incident the drive through Alberta is long, uneventful, long, and uneventful. We make a quick stop in Dawson Creek, the official start of the Alaskan Highway. Terry takes a picture of me with the sock monkeys standing on the small raised platform that marks this intersection in town. From Dawson Creek we sail along the famous AlCan highway past Fort Saint John and Fort Nelson, climbing into the Rockies alongside frozen rivers and lakes. We don't stop to see any of these towns or read any of the historical markers along the road. We are road warriors. We are on a mission. The sun is still high when we blow into Watson Lake. I am so numb I don't even bother to look at the signpost forest, which is Watson Lake's quirky claim to fame. This strange sight is probably the world's largest collection of unrelated road signs. Someone probably started this in an innocent way and now hundreds of them (many from foreign countries) are hammered onto tightly packed tall posts spread out over about an acre. A person could wander through this maze of signs and it would have amused me had I not been gob smacked by too many hours spent in the right seat of a GM truck. So Terry re-fills the tank, I note the odometer reading and gallons pumped and we saddle up for another 200 miles of beautiful and breathtaking scenery neither of us can appreciate. We spend the night at Toad River which is somewhere in the Canadian Rockies. We are asleep before we can comprehend how far we've come. The next day, Wednesday I think, we push on like soldiers and if it weren't for the honest to goodness wildlife sightings I think I would have gone mad. But nature takes pity on us and brings us a black bear. A perfectly Yogi kind of bear grazing on the grass along side the road. Like he does this everyday. Like we do this everyday. I perk up right away! The next thrill is a bona fide buffalo! Next comes a herd of elk that prance back and forth for us as we stare google eyed from the truck. Then come the Stone Sheep who don't even move when the truck stops in the road along side them. They are so close one of their heads fills my camera viewfinder. Then there are more deer-like creatures. Maybe caribou. Maybe reindeer.  I never would have thought it possible but there are so many wildlife we begin to take them for granted and stop pulling over to stare.
 
 
We realize at some point Wednesday that if we don't think too much about how far it is we can probably get to Haines that night. And that would be good because we need to get back to North Dakota before the airplane parts arrive. I don't remember anymore why this is important but Terry seems to have a grasp on it so I go along to get along. I'm having fun even if I am looking at the world through a windshield... watching it fly by me on the right. The town of Whitehorse is behind us now, and we're on the home stretch, heading south on the peninsula that ends in Haines. The terrain is familiar to us and we start to feel at home knowing we will soon be back in Haines, a beautiful place we are looking forward to living in. At 8pm we pull into town and find the little stand of trees near the water where we will make our camp for the summer. The snowdrifts that were 3 feet high last month are gone now and the Port Chilkoot Campground is ready for us. We're the only ones there. We pick our spot and about an hour later the trailer is backed into place and I'm making a pot of tea. We start the process of unlatching everything and spreading our stuff out. We are both amazingly awake and full of energy as we sip tea and talk about what we need to do in Haines tomorrow.
 
Thursday we wake up in Haines and pinch ourselves to see if we're really here. I pretend that's the reason but really I'm really pinching Terry because he got us here so fast I can't remember what America or Canada looks like. But who cares? We're here in Haines and starting a new phase. The first thing we do is go to the laundry down the hill and start a few loads. Then pick up our mail at the post office, which is cool because we both have real mail that's been forwarded to us here. Then we rent a storage locker for all the stuff we brought that we don't want to have in the trailer with us. Like the bicycle, and spare tires, and kayaking stuff, and cases of airplane oil, and coolers. We fix up shelves and buy nails to hang things from. We go to the bank and get a joint checking account. We buy 24 hrs of internet service and log on to get email. And, finally we work out a plan for getting back to pick up the airplane in North Dakota. 
 
Installment 3 
Friday, April 30th. The plan is aggressive and involves us ferrying Greg and Chris's Cessna 172 from Juneau down to North Dakota. Financially it's about the same to fly the C-172 as it is to take a commercial flight but it will take longer and cost us a few days in transit. But Greg needs his airplane in the lower 48 and we need to get to N. Dakota and more importantly, the adventure of ferrying the C-172 appeals to us.  So we find ourselves in full 'go mode' once again. I imagined my life would slow down once we got to sleepy little Haines but after the long drive we spend only one day before putting the truck and ourselves on a ferry to Juneau.
 
The 'Fairweather' is a modern catamaran "fast ferry" that makes the trip in 2.5 hrs as opposed to 4.5 hrs on the regular ferry. We situate ourselves in the two front and center reclining chairs with excellent viewing capability then both drift in and out of a delicious nodding-off existence while the ferry charts a beautiful route south along the Lynn Channel past glaciers and pristine coastline. We dock and drive off the ferry and head straight to Greg and Chris's hangar at Juneau airport where we find their C-172 just where they said it would be. It hasn't been flown in over a year and is out of license but if an FAA licensed mechanic and inspector does an annual inspection, fixes what needs fixing, and signs it off as airworthy we should be good to go. As it turns out Terry has the skills and FAA licensing to do the job and spends the rest of the day checking cylinder head compression, oil and tire pressures, mechanical linkages, electrical systems, and verifies no bird nests under the cowling or in the wing spar areas. The sun sets and the light fades as I help him replace the cowling and push the plane back into the hangar. At 10pm we find a sushi bar still open and share a few yummy maki rolls before checking into a local motel.

Saturday May 1st. In the morning when I wake up it's my 56th birthday!!! Terry slipped out early to pack the plane and check the weather forecast then comes back for me singing a birthday girl song he makes up. He would really like to head directly to North Dakota from Juneau but there are weather concerns to the south along the coast. Additionally, we have not yet test flown the C-172 following the work he did yesterday. Heading south leaves no good options to land should we need to. From a safety point of view I figure I am statistically protected from harm since it is my birthday and unlikely to also become my death day. But Terry doesn't want to live by statistics alone and the weather north is forecasted to be better. He suggests we fly north on a 'shake down' cruise to Haines than take a northerly route back across the Rockies retracing the exact same Alaskan highway we just drove with the trailer. An additional benefit of this plan is that we will stop in Haines long enough for me to attend the Annual Hospice Rummage Sale which Terry knows I am hot to go to. This is a big community event in a small town and I want to go with Linda Hazen and meet people and buy things to make our little trailer camp homey. So I am thrilled with this new plan and we take off with Terry singing happy birthday into the headset microphone. The short 45- minute flight north to Haines covers the same route we just took on the ferry but from about 2000 ft higher. Weather is clear through the Lynn Canal but we can see visible moisture piling up in the surrounding passes. There is certain symmetry in flying back over our recent ferry route. I think about my birthday and how it's been 33 years (almost to the day) since Steve and I bought the PA12. Flying adventures were the fabric of my life back then and I'm happy they are part of my life now. if anyone in the last 10 years had told me these adventures were ahead of me I'd have told them they were reading the clock backwards... but luckily I would have been wrong. Forty-five minutes later Linda picks us up at the Haines airport and we go directly to the rummage sale! My eyes pop at the piles of excellent treasures spread out on tables and shelves. Table cloths, dishes, baskets, kitchenware, clothes, wicker stacking tables, brass candelabras, scarves, an Asian-inspired carpet, a music stand.... I start gathering all the gypsy and bohemiam things I know I can use to make our outdoor patio area look like an Indonesian nightclub. Terry looks like a grinning pack animal loaded down with all this stuff as we load it into Linda's car and haul it back to the trailer. Mission accomplished. Then we fuel up and take off for North Dakota. The 10 minute flight across the inlet to Skagway is nice enough but as we climb to enter the narrow White Pass we see it is obscured with clouds and rain so we turn back to land at Skagway and wait it out. Our second attempt is no better so with a bit of disappointment we go back across the inlet to Haines. But it's still my birthday and I suggest we go back to the rummage sale where I find an awesome beaded jacket that fits perfectly and a brand new, still in the package, plush Brookstone muffler scarves. Yikes! I love a bargain. I put on my two new treasures and Terry and I walk into town from our little camp-in-the-trees where he takes me to the Pioneer Bar and Bamboo Room Restaurant for a cocktail and a shared basket of halibut and chips. The walk back is brisk and uphill and somewhat magical. I imagine this will be my daily walking route into town once we get settled in. And so my birthday comes to a close as Terry and I sip hot tea in our little trailer under the trees and ponder an early Sunday morning departure to North Dakota. Even the best-laid plans can fall apart. In the morning the weather forecasts now favor a southern route. Go figure. So off we go back to Juneau. Does it seem as if we are going in circles? We land at Juneau to get a few things out of the truck, which we left in Greg's hangar. We top off the gas tanks, take off, and head south down the Gastineau Channel. The ceilings are lying at about 4000 ft and we have 8-10 mile visibility with isolated rain and snow showers. Not too bad but a little on the edge. Terry decides to land at Petersburg airport to reconnoiter and get a weather briefing by phone of the current conditions in Ketchikan. Within 45 minutes we're off again and conditions improve slightly as we cruise the inside passage at 1500 ft altitude. Ketchikan is a quick fuel stop and we're off again heading for Prince Rupert where we go through Canadian customs. This is a tricky place that is often socked in with marine layers but today is open for us with some isolated (and welcomed) rays of sunshine. The stop here is very, very brief. We receive another weather briefing that spurs us to try to get to Prince George before nightfall. The flight inland takes us over familiar territory. We remind each other of the swooping maneuvers we did here last summer in the 185 while listing to Beatles music through our headsets. As we get closer to Prince George our visibility decreases due to local weather cells, one of which is sitting between the airport and us. We fly around it and at last see the Airport and land. So after 3.2 flying hours (tach time on the engine) we arrive in Prince George where it is snowing. We grab a cab to a motel where we find a Chinese restaurant right next door. I've been craving Chinese food. We have a quick graze at the buffet and hightail it back to our room knowing it will be an early morning departure.

Installment 4
Monday, May 3rd

We make an early morning appearance at the Prince George airport. It's not quite socked in but no cakewalk either. Terry gets weather forcastes and comprehends our options for making south eastern progress. No way we can head directly towards our destination due to extreme weather but we can make some easterly progress by flying northeast in a huge lazy loop over the highway through the Rockies. This dumps us just south of Dawson Creek. We fly through a few spots of limited visibility but overall the highway is never out of sight and we are very pleased to have the Rockies behind us as we descend over the prairies. We can see the new layer of snow that has fallen since we drove through here just last week. We maintain a minimum altitude and keep the road in sight that leads to Grande Prairie. It's a reassuring feeling to have a paved emergency- landing strip down there. We hope to never use it but still good to have the option if things go sour. Things are humming along uneventfully when what do you imagine I see below us? Yes! You guessed it! An unbelievably big (can you say 24 feet tall?) beaver appears out the side window below us! Of course this is just hilarious to us and Terry circles it ceremoniously. At last I get to see this beast. Apparently it is not too scary from the air. Terry feels vindicated that my previous loss has been made right. Hmmmmm.... Patience once again wins out. I now have hope that over time I will see the other quirky tourist attractions we sailed by on our way to Alaska. I think about the world's largest ball of twine and the subterranian roadside reptile museum I possibly have in my future as Terry sets up for a beautiful landing at Grande Prairie. We fill up with fuel and discover an adorable flight school located in a WWII Quonset hut. The top of the hut has been made into a series of offices, lounges, training rooms, and mini-apartments where students doing extensive training can stay overnight. The husband and wife owners have a cool thing going on and I decided Terry and I should open a Flying School / Aircraft Mechanic / Tea Room somewhere touristy. Guess which part I want to run? Weather continues to be lousy to the southeast, where we would like to be, so we make a further adjustment to our route and head due east to Lesser Slave Lake. Not a big place but they have hotel rooms and we stay in one overnight.
 
Tuesday morning we make another somewhat early appearance at an airport. The airport may be different but the weather looks the same as yesterday. It's marginal to the south, especially in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Devils Lake, ND where we want to be.  Eventually we're able to take off and pick our way through low-lying moisture with strong headwinds that slow us down. We make a short day of it landing in North Battleford a mere 200 or so miles. The terminal building is under construction. It is not very welcoming. Terry ties down the plane while I call a cab and contact the Tropical Hotel for a room. It's freezing cold. We are about as far from tropical as possible. After checking in we head to the hotel lounge where we guzzle a few liquid relaxants and gobble a basket of appetizer ribs. Yummy.
 
Wednesday morning is the same as Tuesday morning. More lousy weather. Again we eventually are able to take off and this time we make it to.... Moose Jaw.  Another short day of flying. It is snowing lightly when we get out of the plane and we're pretty sure this is as far as we're getting today. We rush into the flight operation and find a lovely young woman in overalls in the hangar working on an airplane engine. We also meet Bill, the retired previous owner of the flight school and maintenance operation. He is an interesting and friendly guy who takes us under his wing, so to speak, and gives us a ride to town, saving us a costly $30 cab ride. He also gives us his number and tells us to call him when we're ready to go back to the airport the next day. Our time in Moose Jaw turns out to be very nice. We're getting used to getting nowhere.
 
Thursday morning is the worse early morning visibility so far. We're both convinced we will be staying another night in Moose Jaw and I start looking at potentially interesting things to do. I learn there are extensive tunnels underneath Moose Jaw that we could take a tour through. The tunnels were built decades ago and used by early Chinese immigrants who lived in the tunnels over a hundred years ago to escape the racist attitudes they were forced to endure. And in the 20's Al Capone used the tunnels for his bootleg operation. The tour sounds mildly interesting but when the ground cloud starts to lift we forget all about any tunnels and call our friend Bill to come get us. This time when we take off we are in range of Devils Lake..... if only the weather holds out. We land for fuel in Estavan, just north of the Canadian border and file an international flight plan into the States. So far so good. We fly to the International Peace Garden Airport, a runway next to a highway border crossing station, and suffer the insufferable bureaucracy heaped upon us on our arrival. We are the only 'customers' there. No other planes, cars, trucks, or trains. Just us. And there are ten fully uniformed and armed officers who manage to delay us over 30 minutes as they struggle to understand the homeland security aviation border crossing software all pilots are required to use. Oh boy! Our tax dollars at work. Terry walks them through the process and provides them with the clearance code he was given when he filed the customs forms on line 5 hours previously. They are not sure why they have no record of our arrival and ask Terry for his personal username and password so they can get into his anti-terrorist homeland security account. What's wrong with this picture? They treat us with a slightly arrogant attitude, very formal and military-like, even as they can't figure out their own system. We could, after all be terrorists. It's embarrassing. I do a slow burn as I watch the sun go down and realize we could get stuck here overnight with no hotel and no services if this farce goes on much longer. Just as Terry is about to register a concern/complaint they say we are free to go. It is 7 pm local time as we race to the airplane and fire up the engine, noting as we taxi out that they never checked for our mandatory customs decal.... I could go on but I won't. We are light hearted as we skim across N. Dakota making a bee-line for Devils Lake. We use the cell phone to call Greg from the air and report an estimated arrival time at the airport and one 15 minutes later at the bar. He's in agreement with the plan and mentions he's left a car for us at the airport with a hidden key. Yeah. It's freezing cold, blustery, and wet when we land and unload the plane. Within minutes we're hugging Greg in the parking lot of the steak house and handing him the keys to his airplane. Good airplane too. Got us here safe and sound. Chris joins us and our ferrying stories begin. Doctor... I mean bartender... bring me a double please.  And so we spend a lovely evening at The Ranch in Devils Lake, North Dakota recounting to Greg and Chris the 5 days of adventurous weather and flying we've just muddled through. And when the stories have been told and embellished a little and the drinks and chicken pot pies are consumed we call it a night and check into a nice hotel in town for a deep sleep, knowing the worst is behind us and soon we will be flying our C-185 on floats back to Haines.
 
Friday Terry wakes me with hot tea and a tray of continental breakfast goodies. It is early and he is eager to get to the hangar and start assembling the newly arrived components. I sleep in a bit then sort through all our stuff and start a load of laundry in the hotel's laundromat. Terry and Greg swing by the hotel to drop off a car and I use it to drive into town to look through the various thrift shops, scoring big on a few items. The afternoon passes in a dream of reading, catching up on email, paying a few bills, and making a few phone calls. Terry returns from the airport about 8pm and his expression tells me all I need to know. Not good. He explains that the main gear shock struts are not working correctly. He had them rebuilt while we were driving the trailer to Haines so it's a mystery what the problem might be. He and Greg spent most of their day chasing this unexpected problem.
 
Earlier in the week when we were losing days fighting weather to get here Terry considered that, once here, we likely would not have enough time to complete the float installation completely in time for him to start work in the clinic Monday, May 10th. He figured we'd get it to the place where we could fly it back with the retractable wheels locked in the land position and button up the rest of the float installation ourselves in Haines over the next few weekends. But without the main gear shock struts working correctly we can't fly the plane back to Alaska at all. We talk about the implications of having to go back without the airplane and it's not good. The cost and logistics of getting back to Haines from N. Dakota are significant, not to mention the expense and logistics to make another (third) trip to Devils Lake to get this float conversion completed. It is overwhelming to think about. So we go to sleep and toss and turn as we both comprehend in our own ways the twist this unexpected setback presents.
 
Saturday morning Terry and Greg try cannibalizing shock struts from a set of damaged floats that Greg has in his space parts inventory. No go. I get on-line and pull the trigger on a series of reservations that will get us back to Haines the Hard Way. Late in the afternoon Terry and Greg solve the shock strut mystery and it turns out to be a simple fix. But by now we are out of time. Our return to Haines the Hard Way is defined as; Take Amtrak's midnight-to-7am run from Devils Lake to Minneapolis/St Paul train station. Take a taxi to the Minneapolis/St Paul airport. Spend six hours in the terminal before boarding a commercial flight to Seattle. Spend another six hours in the Seattle airport before boarding another commercial flight to Juneau arriving at 10pm. Terry then walks across the Juneau airport to the hanger to pick up the truck while I wait for our luggage in baggage claim. We check into a hotel for a short but comfortable night then get in line at the ferry terminal at 6am for a 4 1/2 hour ride up the Lynn Cannel arriving in Haines at 11:30am. Whew!
 
We drive off the ferry and when we see the trailer parked in the Port Chilkoot Campground, space 35, we feel we are truly coming home We both immediately feel energized and inspired to feather our nest and get the trailer set up for a comfortable summer. So after unloading the truck off we go to the hardware store to pick up some bamboo privacy panels and potting soil. Then we hit the grocery store for fresh stuff we need to make a decent cup of tea and dinner. Terry hooks up the electric and water service and fashions a somewhat clever and sanitary plumbing arrangement. I walk around the empty campground collecting garbage... I mean treasures... that I can use artistically to spruce up our patio area. I find a small, solid wooden bench that becomes a perfect coffee table. I pull out the rug we bought at the rummage sale ten days ago and clean it best I can. Terry and I walk around collecting rocks the size of our heads to construct an awesome fire pit. I decorate the raised parts with candles I bought at the rummage sale. Even if we don't have a fire we can light these and get a similar effect. At last we assemble the bamboo privacy panels and sit down in our new green plast-irondack chairs to admire our handiwork. And it feels good. I'm inspired to fill pots with plants and weave macrame' hangers for them. Oh No... wrong decade! But it's taken me decades to get to this dream and so what if patio styles have changed. We sit under our awning eating a dinner of gumbo and Ritz crackers and Terry reaches out his hand to me and smiles. Let the summer begin!
 
Installment 5
Monday, May 17th.
 
Point of Interest: Our first morning in Haines Terry wakes up hungry as a bear. As he props himself up on one elbow and leans over me he whispers for me to stay warm in bed while he wages the cold frontier and hunts us down some local wildlife which I can fry up in a pan. Ahhhh the fresh, wild Alaskan air has woken up the primitive reptilian part of Terry's brain. I hear him scramble through the trailer, beating his chest and rooting through drawers for what I suppose is a firearm and some ammo. Then the door slams shut and I see his shadow curve around the side of the trailer into the nearby stand of trees. I drift back to sleep and have half-dream/half-nightmare thoughts about what he may bring back. I remember he saw a moose in this neighborhood last March and I hope he doesn't bite off more than he can chew... literally. The frying pan just isn't that big! I wake when he swings up the steps into the trailer calling my name. I have no idea how long he's been gone but the sun patterns through the windows suggest an hour or so. And I'm hungry now too. He sits beside me on the bed and tells me an astounding story of what happened while I was snoozing. He said he started off walking downhill towards town and felt a powerful ancient DNA instinct start to stir in him. He suspects it must have been lurking in him all these years and that it must be the same basic genetic encoding that kept his Choctaw ancestors alive through the tough years. As he walked in the trees he saw Bald Eagles soaring over the inlet and soon the spirits of a wild beast eventually appeared before him. Terry approached the beast with practiced stealth, wrestling it with his bare hands until it submitted under his powerful strength. He said that although it was tough-skinned and put up some resistance the meat was now fully separated from the hide and was ready for me to cook up. I looked into his eyes adoringly, realizing that Terry had achieved what men through the eons have done to provide for their families' survival. And as the frontier woman I am quickly becoming, I hopped out of the warm blankets and marched right into that trailer kitchen where I sliced up and fried delicious slabs of Terry's hard-won wild Spam.
 
We've been residents of Haines for six days now and we're making great strides in settling in. The first three days were work days for Terry at the clinic and lay-of-the-land days for me as I drove around with my wireless device turned on looking for unsecured WiFi signals by which I can download and send email. None exist. Our landlord, who owns the Halsingland Hotel and Chilkoot campground, gives me the password to his wireless. The signal doesn't reach the campground but if I take a short walk up the hill with my laptop I can download and send while standing in front of the old Fort Seward parade ground. Nice. I spend my three 'clinic' days puttering around the trailer and taking walks into town (downhill) and then back to the trailer (uphill). I learn the ropes at the local laundromat, find the only thrift shop in town, and scope out which of the two the grocery shops are better for produce and meat. I sort through my Dog Fish Jewelry in preparation for selling it when the cruise ships come to town. I replace a broken string on my guitar. I finish my detective novel. I visit the greenhouse just out of town where a woman lovingly planted seeds in March and tended them through April and is now selling the blooming seedlings. The humid air is rich with earthy smells. I walk along every row and take my time picking out 6 different tiny plants. On one of my walks to town a very large black Newfoundland dog joins me. He just approached from behind me and hits me in the back of the leg with a stick he's carrying in his mouth. It startles me at first then I am delighted to have a doggy companion and I wish like hell Calli was here with me. The black dog walks all the way into town with me. When I come out of the clinic I find him waiting for me so we start walking up the hill together. Halfway home his owner spots him through a window and comes out to claim him. Miss Calli....
 
Thursday evening, Terry's last work day of the week, we go to Len Feldman's house to play music with a rag-tag assortment of Haines' musicians. We did this back in March and are happy to be invited back again. Len plays a seasoned concertina.Tom Heywood plays a fiddle. Terry and I both play guitars. Two women we'd never met, and who hadn't met each other before, show up. They represent one of the spectrums of live in Haines. The woman my age plays a banjo and tells how she arrived here 30+ years ago from So. CA and ended up staying. She worked the canneries, crewed on fishing boats and basically made a life for herself, The younger woman who just turned 20 plays a fiddle she made herself and tells how she arrived recently to live and crew on a fishing boat. She is wearing cropped leather britches that are hand-stitched and look very throw-back-to-the-Yukon-Goldrush. These women are typical (if I can use that word) of the untypical types of people who migrate to Alaska, drawn to the alternative lifestyle of living close to their own existence. It was a wonderful evening of music and friendship. Len suggested that we make this a weekly event on Thursday evenings, either at his house overlooking Mud Bay or on the beach when the weather is warmer and the fish are running. We go back to our trailer with thoughts of beachside musical fish fries in our future, feeling content that we are finding our own alternative lifestyle here in Alaska.
 
Friday morning we start Terry's 3-day weekend by walking into town to the bank, post office, and hardware store, and then stroll through the old graveyard along the waterfront and harbor. We run into a woman I'd met on the ferry back in March and the three of us stand on the sidewalk talking. She remembers our names and that Terry is a dentist at the clinic. I notice that this kind of thing happens frequently here in Haines. People stop and chat. And remember details. There are practically no strangers here. I think about how different this is from the Bay Area. For me, growing up in a major metropolitan area provided a certain amount of social distance. The crowded urban environment made strangers of us all as we moved among many, many people on a daily basis, never noticing or experiencing them as having any impact on our lives. I'm not used to people paying attention to me because for the most part they don't. The intimacy of Haines is a more familiar experience to Terry who has spent most of his adult life in a sparsely populated southern rural environment. In Florida he has no nearby neighbors and it's an 18-mile drive to the nearest town that has no movie theater. People there know each other's business. For good or bad. I think I probably better remember that if I'm to acclimate here successfully.
 
Our first weekend sails by as we get more and more settled in. Friday night I attend a community event at the library with Linda Hazen. It is a sold out event featuring local author Heather Lende reading excerpts from her new, second, book. Her first book called "If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name" is a best seller that depicts life in Haines. I read it last year and found it to be a wonderful introduction to life in small town Alaska. She must not have been kidding with the first book's title since the first thing she said to me was "I don't know you. Are you visiting or newly arrived?" She autographed a copy of her book to "Terry and Elize. Welcome to Haines!" So I think it's official... we must live here now because Heather knows our names!
 
Life here is at such a comfortable pace. I can't feel any anxiety whatsoever. Is that okay? No rushing around? No dramas? We go to a garage sale and pick up a Webber BBQ and two wooden planters for $5. My tail is going wiggy-waggy now. Terry gets the kayaks tuned up and loaded on the truck racks. Sunday we drive out to Chilkoot Lake and think about putting them in the water. Terry is willing and able but I'm noticing the small patches of snow still clinging to the shadowy places. Without having to point them out Terry says " I can read your mind. We don't have to launch them". I assure him I will feel differently when the snow melts and the sun is out. We drive slowly back down Chilkoot River stopping several times to admire the large rocks and small rocky islands in the stream that have moss and trees growing out of dirt-filled cracks. They look hobbitish and I think of Jody who admires hobbity things too. The river spills into Lutack Inlet at the bridge leading to a few homes out on the point. We drive along the mud flats and lo and behold there are Len and Ben Feldman working on Ben's fixer-upper boat. We stop long enough to say hey and effectively spoil their momentum before moving on. Back at the trailer we heat up gumbo and spend a relaxing afternoon before heading out to Chuck and Linda's for a dinner of Lynn Canal shrimp they caught. Dinner conversation included their intension to allow us to join them on their fishing boat where we can help with the shrimp and crab pot gathering and also do some salmon and halibut line fishing. YooHoo! What a summer we're going to have.

After dinner at the trailer I pack a few things for my morning departure to Juneau, then Seattle, then San Jose. I am excited to be going home for a week and reconnecting with everyone. At one time I could hardly imagine being away from my home and family and dogs in Santa Clara. Now, a scant 5 weeks after leaving I can hardly imagine having felt that way. My home, which is so much a part of me, now seems like a place I pay for to keep all the stuff I own... most of which I have not missed and probably don't need to begin with. How can that change of perspective happen in 5 weeks? Good thing I'm heading home.... I'll get some balance. But mostly what I want is to see Mum, Dusty, April and my granddaughter Elana, Jody, Maarten, Darrel, Morgan, and Mark, and have a good long cuddle with Calli and Charley.

Installment 6
Monday, June 7th
My nine days back home in Santa Clara flew by at mach speed. Time in Santa Clara moves at a faster pace than it does in Alaska. There is just not enough time in Santa Clara to reflect on anything. One moment leads to another moment and before you know it you're late for something or another. It started innocently enough with a desire to reconnect with everyone but once all the lines on my dance card were filled in I found myself racing to get from one dance to another. I did manage to see almost everyone and apologies to those whose visits I postponed till next time. In addition to seeing friends and family I took care of quite a bit of business, played a good gig with Jody and Frank at the Trout Farm, and had two belated birthday celebrations. One was a lovely dinner party at Struggle with a cake and everything (thank you Patsy, Tusa, Sue, Karen) and the other a lovely lunch hosted by Mum with Jody and Maarten. Jody's gift to me was a huge inspirational kick in the butt. When I saw the progress he'd made on his CD I increased the gearing on my create-o-meter and started pulling together graphics and liner notes for my own solo CD. Both CDs need to finish up around the same time so we can have a joint CD release party later in the year. Something that really registered during my visit home was how much my little Moo, Elana, has grown in the brief 6 weeks since I'd seen her. My adorable grand daughter is no longer a baby. At sixteen months she's now a little girl. I have had an excellent visit home. And... I will be flying home again for another visit in just two weeks. I hadn't planned to go home again so soon but it worked out that way. Terry needs to be back in Florida for a week in early June and there are two gigs in mid-June that I don't want to miss. So I will be back to see the friends I missed the first time around and maybe have a few outings with my Mum. All I know is that right now I am missing Terry and looking forward to seeing him in Seattle where we will start another sub-adventure passing through Minneapolis and Devil's Lake, N. Dakota. in an effort to fly the airplane back to Alaska. Finally.

Point of Interest: Devil's Lake, North Dakota, though not the geographic center of North America, is very close to it. Being about 50 miles east of center, a distance roughly 7x the magnetic variation at that longitude, Devil's Lake has the distinction of being the geographic 'black hole' of the Americas. By this North America I mean the gravitational pull in and around Devil's Lake is significant. You have to be careful because it will suck you in and draw you back repeatedly. My evidence for this is that we are about to make our third trip there in four weeks. The best part about Devil's Lake is that Greg and Chris live there and are always a pleasure to see and hang out with. But despite their hospitality and friendship we are ever mindful of the extreme escape velocity required to leave that unusual place. My observations were initially focused on the weather systems; Low ceilings and high velocity winds conspire to ground small aircraft, causing unscheduled overnight stays. But now I think there's more to it. As we are about to make our third trip I notice another strange quirk. I know from our experience less than a month ago that the Amtrak train (named the Empire Builder) heads east out of Devils Lake around midnight and arrives in Minneapolis around 7am. When I booked seats for us traveling the reverse route back to Devils lake I thought we'd have a nice daylight ride into Devils Lake. But no.... in a twist of devilishness Amtrak has the Empire Builder heading west bound from Minneapolis around midnight arriving in DVL around 7am. So regardless of direction, coming or going, a trip into or out of Devils Lake involves a hard night on an old train.

Thursday, May 27th, Dusty arrives at 5:45am to take me to the San Jose airport for my flight to Seattle. I arrive there a few hours before Terry so I have time for a relaxing pedicure at an upscale salon on "C" terminal concourse. By the time Terry lands and walks to the salon to pick me up my tootsies are polished and raring to go. We hurry to board our next flight to Minneapolis and spend the entire time on board laughing and joking with each other. We have missed being together. While waiting at baggage claim in Minneapolis I meet a local woman who I ask for advise on where we can spend 5 or 6 hours in comfort until our train (The Empire Builder) departs. Her suggestion turns out to be the perfect solution for us. We take a taxi to a St Paul neighborhood restaurant called Bonfire where we share a leisurely dinner of BBQ ribs and salad. The waitress is a local who entertains us with hometown anecdotes and stories. By the time we need to leave we feel we've done very well by the airport woman's advise. Thank you airport lady whoever you are.

About 10pm the waitress calls a taxi and we are driven directly to the Minneapolis-St Paul train station, which, strangely enough, is completely dark and spooky. I initially think the station is closed but then see small groups of people milling about with luggage. A few have flashlights. We are told that a fire at a local paper plant has caused a power outage. Inside it is dark as a movie theater, the only light coming from a few flashlights beams twirling here and there. Behind the counter two Amtrak employees are using flashlights to issue hand written tickets to those who had previously been issued reservations online. No one seems to be in control and no one is advising passengers of anything. Three times an Amtrak man comes out and announces that all luggage previously checked on the recently arrived train was outside on the platform to the right. It was pitch back out there. No one could possibly see well enough to find and claim their bags. I whisper to Terry, "Invitation to looting..." Maybe I'm just a west coast cynic because no one else seemed to be thinking this. The Amtrak system is about 40 years behind the times. They still issue paper tickets that are hand punched by the conductor as he makes his rounds. So the power outage is not actually much of an inconvenience. One passenger comments that if the airport has a power outage things come to a standstill. But what's a little power outage to a train? Nothing. And in fact the boarding process is in progress when the lights suddenly flicker on. And suddenly the station isn't as gloomy and spooky as before. We are directed to a specific car and climb up the narrow stairs (similar to the stairs on a double decker bus in London) to find our seats. People traveling through Minneapolis/St. Paul are stretched out half asleep on seats designed for sitting, not sleeping. We quietly stow our bags overhead and sit down facing forward, holding hands, waiting for the train to pull out. It is going to be a long night on a lurching train but at lease the seats are solid and the leg extensions function. Terry is snoring before the train leaves the station. I occupy myself by pretending we are in a third world country traveling past exotic landscapes. In truth there is no view through the windows. All I can see are the reflections of the inside of the train car. Finally, I too drift off to sleep.

Clackety-clack. I wake up to find daylight outside and views of flat fields, some flooded and boggy, moving slowly past my seat. We are not going very fast. Terry is asleep. I shoehorn myself out of the seat and shake the wrinkles out of my clothes. Ahead I can see that people are drinking coffee in the next car. I lurch along the aisle, make a courageous transition between the cars, and buy a steaming cup'o'joe to bring back to Terry. We have just enough time to sip it down before the conductor comes through the car singing "Devils Lake, next stop, Devils Lake'. Clickity-click. At 7am we shuffle off the train and find Greg's truck waiting for us at the station. Bless Greg. What a haul! Devils Lake once again. This time yesterday we were both on airplanes heading to Seattle. My Mum says Terry and I are pioneers and I always say 'bourgeois' to that. But this morning I feel like a pioneer.

Our basic plan is to fly the airplane back to Alaska and finish the float installation up there. The airplane has been bolted to the floats but none of the hydraulic or electrical lines are in place to operate the retractable landing gear. It is not an ideal way to fly but can be done. To put it in perspective, putting an airplane on floats adds drag. A lot of drag. We have accepted (like all float plane pilots do) the high cost of decreased ground speed and increased fuel consumption in exchange for the ability to land on water. But flying with the retractable wheels down adds yet more drag, and consequently additional cost in performance and at the fuel pumps. But this is what we need to do so we devise a three phase plan for leaving Devils Lake in the airplane that afternoon; 1. Do mechanical work to secure the gear in a locked down position. Tie up (and secure for flight) various unfinished portions of the float installation. 2. Pack all the pumps, brackets, stringers, hardware, hydraulic tubing, tools, and fluids in the baggage area. 3. Pick up our stuff we left at Greg and Chris's a few weeks ago that we couldn't take with us on our commercial flight to Alaska. We go at it and at 4:30pm we are exhausted and ready to go.

The weather forecast is touchy. A low pressure system is heading our way and looks like it will impact our route going northwest. De Ja Vu. This weather system looks suspiciously like the one that haunted us a few weeks ago. We decide to make a run for it and get out of Devils Lake while we can. So our test flight becomes our escape flight. The ground run is kind of long, as we expected it would be, then a bit of a lumbering feeling as the airplane hauls the floats up off the ground. Terry is very, very busy on climb out. He's monitoring the cylinder head temperatures, winding the trim settings, and coaxing things into place. I am quiet as a mouse as I register how differently the airplane handles now. The climb attitude seems very steep and the cylinder head temperatures are higher than usual. I feel the drag of the floats as a weather-vane effect. I'm thinking about all the weight we are carrying. The air is slightly turbulent too and adds to the overall experience. Terry monitors radio transmissions for our route and when conditions in Regina, Saskatchewan worsen he asks me to dig up the instrument approach plate in anticipation of having to file an instrument flight plan in-flight to be concluded with an ILS approach in Regina. Hmmmmm. I also noticed that not once since we'd taken off had he made any comment about the floats, the weather, the change in performance, the weight. Nothing. At 36 minutes out he turns to me and says simply. "Baby, I'm not happy". I feel the tension in my shoulders lessen as he makes a wide 180 degree turn and we head back to... where else? Devils Lake!

Plan B. We call Greg and Chris then meet them for drinks and dinner. Then we check into a local hotel. Boy, nothing like a good night's sleep and a new day dawning. Unfortunately by morning the weather has predictably deteriorated and there's no chance of getting out today. Instead Terry heads to the airplane, unloads every single thing, and brings it all back to the hotel room along with a stack of Priority Mail boxes, shipping tape and bubble wrap. We set up a packing station operation and thank the US postal service for coming up with that "if it fits it ships' campaign. One box gets filed with aircraft hardware. Nuts and bolts, washers, fittings, etc. I can't lift it but Terry can. I empty my roll-on bag and remove weighty craft materials. We create three piles. One hundred pounds to be shipped to us in Haines by US Post, one hundred pounds we'll leave with Greg for him to bring up in his Mayflower moving van next month, and the rest we take with us. In the end what we take is very little and can be carried by us easily. We spend the rest of the day packing the plane for an early morning departure, and make a grocery run for food we can eat in the air over the next two days. This will probably not be a leisurely flight back to Alaska. More like haul ass and quick-turn fuel stops.

The departure from Devils Lake ends up to be fairly anti-climatic considering all the previous attempts we've made. The plane handles better with less weight and the air is less turbulent this time. We have a dreadful headwind but that can't be helped. I start to imagine the fuel gages as dollar indicators... But the weather, although not beautiful, is cooperative. We make our first fuel stop in Rugby, ND, only an hour northwest and go through Canadian customs in Regina, Saskatchewan. From there we visit our old stomping ground N. Battleford where we discuss stopping for the day or pressing on. The ceilings are okay but there are some weather cells father ahead towards Alberta. We push on and find the weather conditions improving as we fly northwest. By the time we get to Edmonton it is a beautiful late afternoon. We land at City Center airport which is smack-ka-dab in the middle of the city and walk to a Ramada Inn, scoring a room on the 10th floor. Dinner in the hotel restaurant. We're tired. It's an early morning departure and we have gorgeous weather the rest of the day. Hot Damn! We stop for fuel in Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, and then cross the White pass into Skagway. We follow the White Pass and Yukon Route narrow gauge railroad as it winds through the lowest places this pass has to offer. The railroad was built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. Looking down I can imagine what a hardship it must have been for the people who crossed this pass prior to the railroad's existence and for those who built it. We land at Skagway to clear US customs around 7pm. This time of year the sun is high in the sky and at 7pm and it feels like 3pm to a Californian. The 15-minute flight from Skagway across and down Taiya canal is the day's final reward. We fly over the water, along side the steep sides of rock, carved out of glaciers, that form steep walls on each side of the canal. Waterfalls are everywhere. As the canal broadens we make a shallow turn to the left and there sits Haines. It's a tiny-jeweled necklace strung along a rugged shoreline, snuggled at the base of dramatic snow topped spires. I can see the changes that have taken place in just the two weeks since I've been away. There is more green overall. Fireweed and other wild flowers paint transparent dribbles of color here and there. Terry makes a perfect landing and we taxi to the ramp in the sunshine. It takes but a moment to fetch the truck, unload the plane, pick up some milk, and come home to our cozy little trailer overlooking the Chilkoot Inlet.

 

 

Installment 7
Monday, August 30th.
 
The months of June, July, and most of August fly by as we live our lives in Haines Alaska. 
 
In mid-June we both make trips home. Terry has clinic business in Florida and I spend two weeks in Santa Clara surrounded by all my stuff and my two dogs. I miss my Callie and Charley like crazy when I'm in Alaska even though I know my housemate Mark and my neighbors Morgan and Darrel are excellent surrogate parents to them. My Mum and I spend the two weeks doing all the things we usually do together; shop, have breakfasts out and take drives. I also have two Jolize gigs with Jody and Frank. The 2nd one is at the Trout Farm in Felton the last night of my trip. It promised to be a good one too because it would be the release party of Jody’s new CD. I take my time getting ready and just as I'm packing up my guitar I hear a knock on my door…. and who is standing there with a big grin on his face? Yes! Terry had flown down from Alaska and rented a car in order to surprise me and attend the gig! What a fantastic rush this is!  I'm happy to see friends who show up that night. Folks from Struggle Mt., my friend Jerry from Intel, David and Jonathan, my niece Ashley and her boyfriend, my friends Shelia, Patsy, Tusa, Sue, Court… I love seeing and hugging everyone and introducing them to Terry. The following morning we take the 6:30am flight to Seattle, then another to Juneau, and finally an air taxi up the Lynn Canal to Haines. As we sip tea in the trailer late that afternoon, the sun streaming through the windows, it is hard to imagine the festivities of Jody’s CD release party had been just hours earlier. and so far away.
 
The month of July is consumed by weekly trips to Juneau to complete the installation of the floats on the airplane. We are generously loaned a hangar in Juneau that as it turns out, makes all the difference. It rains every weekend we're there and is cold too. Without the heated hangar I don’t know what we would have done. Our routine varies slightly but basically on Friday mornings I take my place in line (with the truck) at the Haines ferry terminal at 7am and arrive in Juneau at 1:30pm. The preferable arrangement is for Terry to get a jump on the day by taking the 7:30am air taxi, which gets him there by 8am. We spend two nights in Juneau, mostly at the hangar, and catch the Sunday afternoon ferry together back to Haines.

Point of Interest:
I like my Friday morning ferry trips. Hours spent on the ferry are like a dreamy interlude where time is suspended. There is no accounting for the hours spent gazing across the water at the nearby narrow shorelines. I search the places where streams empty into the canal hoping to see a bear or a moose but no critter ever reveals itself. I found a favorite nook in the ferry’s aft lounge where I spread out my beads, yarns, and embroidery threads and find true creativity in this place where time has no meaning and beauty surrounds me. It often feels like an intrusion when we arrive in Juneau and I pack up my stuff and return to the real world. Sometimes Terry comes with me on the Friday morning ferry and shares my experience. On those occasions we spread out in the aft lounge and let the hours drift by talking about the airplane project, or what we’ll buy in Juneau at the ‘big box stores’. He comments on my beading or embroidery progress and we usually end up eating popcorn or napping.

While in Juneau Terry keeps his nose to the grindstone. He woks all day, taking few breaks, and keeps at it till late in the evenings. In the mornings he's up early and back at it. The pace is brutal. I have it much easier since I am free to come and go, shop in Juneau, work on my crafts, and make meals in the hotel room kitchenette. I love the problem solving that presents itself during the project. The logistics. We walk through schematics and wiring diagrams together, until we both reached the same conclusion on how to proceed. Terry always outthinks me. My engineering background pales in comparison to his. I’d ask, “Know what I think”? And he’d respond with “Baby, Yes, I do want to know what you think” and off I’d go with a limited observation that often triggered a new thought in him. We worked that way the whole month of July massaging N4999T from a gangly signet into a beautiful swan. Finally the day arrives when I watched Terry lift off the Juneau runway, the floats lifting right along with the airplane, like two large canoes that someone forgot to un-strap. I watch spellbound as the wheels rise up into the floats and know Terry is watching too to see the red-painted metal tab slide as designed from the DOWN position to the UP position. He flys the airplane back to Haines and I take the truck back on the ferry. Before the ferry even departs the dock in Juneau Terry has flown 70 miles up Lynn Canal and phoned me from Haines letting me know the flight went perfectly. By the time my ferry arrives in Haines 5 hrs later Terry has made three landings and takeoffs on Chilkat Lake! So we now have a seaplane. A beautiful seaplane. Finally.  

In July we also start looking around Haines. We use the long evenings of daylight to make drives up Mud Bay Road and out the Lutak Highway. To call it a ‘Highway’ is a bit of an overstatement as it is really just a two lane road with some gravel sections here and there. We fell in love with that peaceful drive the first time we made it last September.  We wind along the Lutak Inlet and veer beyond it up the beautiful Chilkoot River that flows from Chilkoot Lake. We park up there and watch the plentiful bald eagles soaring at low altitudes. We watch the fish jump. One night we happen upon a mama grizzly bear and her three cubs grazing along the Lutak Inlet at the mouth of the Chilkoot river.  She brings her cubs down in the evenings to munch the tender stalks in the delta region. Since then I’ve made it a priority to drive up fairly often, sometimes going out there during the week while Terry is at the clinic. I love to catch a glimpse of one of the three mama bears with cubs. It’s hard to tell them apart but one has three cubs and the others have two each. Seeing these beauties is one of the highlights of the summer for me. 

August in Haines starts off with the South East Alaska State Fair! It is the big extravaganza of the year up here and everyone gets into the act. The Alaska Marine Highway increases their ferry schedule to accommodate the people who travel here from villages all over South East. I heard the fair draws six to eight thousand attendees over the 4 days but I don’t think it was that many. 

The afternoon before the fair opens I make a last minute decision to rent a booth and create a Dog fish Studio presence at the fair. I set up in a cute little niche along side the animal barn in direct view of the main stage. Someone lent me a wooden contraption with three shelves that I disguised with an old cotton Indian bed spread. My stuff looks good all spread out and I feel like a gypsy woman selling my wares. Terry and I meet a ton of folks who recognize one or both of us from town or the clinic. We learn a lot about Haines and the people who live here. Terry lends his stand-up bass to a few bands that are performing here but have no bass. It is the most popular stand-up bass in town... oops... the only stand-up bass in town. When the sun shines we dance in front of our little booth to the non-stop music, and huddle under the eaves eating fair food when it rains.  I buy a short polka dot skirt and wear it over my jeans. I learn to work a hula hoop. Not bad for a weekend in Haines, Alaska!

August has also been a good month for visitors! Dusty and Mum make the trip together and have a wonderful 6 days with us. The first morning we take the drive up Lutak Inlet and are treated to a first row seat as mama bear brings a salmon up onto the road 20 feet in front of the car. Mum is amazed to find this kind of wilderness just a few miles from where we live. The mama bear slaps the salmon down in the road and puts her foot on it so the cubs can get a feel for the rewards of fishing. Quite a sight! While they are here Dusty takes the fast ferry to Skagway for a hike up the pass while Mum and I tour downtown Haines. Terry and Dusty take the kayaks out on Chilkoot Lake one afternoon and the next day Terry takes him flight-seeing in the C-185. We drive to 33 Mile House, which is (not surprisingly) 33 miles up the highway from Haines. We all had whopping huge hamburgers and the boys had pie too! Then we drive up the road another 6 miles to the Canadian boarder just for fun. The day before their flight home I accompany them on the ferry to Juneau. Dusty hiked up to the waterfall at Mendenhall Glacier while Mum and I hung out with my friend Cheryl Wilkenson whose husband Mitch works for the same Native American dental clinic as Terry. Cheryl knows Juneau better than I do and gives us a good tour of Juneau highlights while Dusty hikes and takes photos. It is hard to say goodbye to them the next day at the airport and I feel a little sad as I drive out to the ferry terminal and park in the boarding line for the return trip to Haines. I spend the time on the ferry crocheting a hat and drinking coffee thinking about their trip and how happy I am they came up to Alaska to see us. By the time the ferry docks in Haines Mum and Dusty have already arrived in San Jose and are in a taxi heading home.

The following week Linda Wilkins comes up to visit. I take her to see many of the same sights I’d taken Mum and Dusty to see. There is only so much to see and do in Haines and now I feel like an official tour guide.

By now we are enjoying the plane and have made several flights to Chilkat Lake, landing on the water and taxiing to a friend's cabin. There is no road to the lake so people who have houses there must use seaplanes or small boats to get back and forth. There is a remote landing 30 or so miles from Haines that leads from a river bank to the lake. Many of the homeowners keep small boats there but it is not an easy lifestyle. The people who live there are hearty and adventurous. We enjoy being on the edge of this lifestyle.

We find it amazing to wake up on a Saturday and go kayaking to see Salmon spawning. We drag our hands in the milky glacial water and sing songs that reverberate against the steep rock walls of the fiords we are paddling through. I am jealous of my own existence this summer. Did this really exist before I got here or am I imagining it?

Installment 8
October 3rd

Labor Day weekend already? Terry’s Uncle Jerry and Aunt Kathy fly up to Haines for a visit with us. Jerry is a physician who, after retiring from his Georgetown, SC practice, now works part of the year as the medical director for the Alaskan Native community of Metlakatla. On their way back to South Carolina they make a detour north to visit us here in Haines. We have a blast showing them around and Terry outdoes himself cooking up a seafood feast with the local bounty of goodies we’ve become fond of. We fill plates with; smoked-salmon-cream-cheese spread. Big chunks of king crab legs. A low country’ish’ shrimp boil. BBQ salmon bellies and tempura fried halibut! We sit, the four of us, in our little trailer kitchenette seats and pig out like nobody’s business. Only, now that I’ve written this I guess it’s everyone’s business! Anyway, the weekend flies by and I am sorry when it comes time for them to go but we made a plan to visit them in South Carolina in December for Georgetown’s sing-it-yourself messiah. Hallelujah!

Friday the 10th of September, a few days after Jerry and Kathy’s visit, Terry and I pack up the airplane and head east across the Rockies toward Florida. We have to backtrack a bit north and west to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory in order to go through Canadian Customs. Backtracking north and west plus the time it takes for the customs officials to process our entry to Canada cuts into our daylight. We continue on but don’t get too far before making our first overnight stop in Watson Lake. This is not a great place to stop overnight. The airport is miles from town and the town is miles from anything resembling a town. Basically, it’s a rough, dusty collection of uninspired buildings strategically located along the Alaska Highway. We were offered, and accepted, a ride into town by a bitter young man who talked nonstop all the way into town about his sensational piloting ability and experience. He was quick with his opinions and pretty much non-charitable towards everyone who wasn’t himself. He never asked us where we were from or where we were going. Apparently he had been stuck in Watson Lake for a few days due to unflyable weather conditions. I whisper to Terry, “Next time let’s just pay for a cab. This guy is a real buzz kill”. He dropped us off at The Big Horn Motel where we hurriedly check in and walk next door to the Belvedere Bar and Lounge. This place is exactly as you might imagine it. A dark, empty room, pretty big, with a large screen TV blasting sports from the far wall. We order drinks and the Belvedere Hors d’oeuvres sample platter. It turned out to be a large round pizza tray covered with an array of fried things topped with two handfuls of various sauces pre-packaged in little rectangular plastic tubs. I was slightly embarrassed that we’d ordered something so unhealthy and so… huge. So I daintily picked up a few celery sticks. Then a few buffalo wings. The chicken fingers were quite crispy. I never knew you could deep fry ribs. Or nachos. We ate it all.

Saturday, September 11th. I guess we all remember where we were the morning of 911 nine year ago. Has it been that long? We head to the airport early. The weather looks okay locally but there are no weather reports up here in the Yukon Territory. We have only information reported by other pilots in route. We take off and fly south along the “Trench”, a huge geographic indent running for about 300 miles in a southeast direction from the lower edge of the Yukon Territory down into British Columbia. The ‘trench’ is a good news - bad news kind of formation. As a trench it is useful because it is free of tall peaks and other vertical hazards. But since it travels through completely undeveloped, unpopulated, and isolated country, there is nowhere to land and no services. Before too long the visibility gets mucky. Then muckier. After about 15 minutes flying in the clouds on instruments we turn back. We deviate east a bit to take a look at the Alaska Highway but that route too is kind of nasty and although the highway offers a good backup place to land it also goes through a few high and tight passes. So back we go to Watson Lake where we wait around the airport poised to go but holding off till things look better. And they do look better later that afternoon. We finally take off and head east along that friendly ribbon of grey highway, noting that each lake in our path is also a potential landing spot now that we are a float plane! Near the place where the Liard River crosses the Alaska Highway we go ‘off road’ by leaving the highway by following the Liard River over slightly lower terrain, thereby avoiding the narrow pass near Toad river that the highway goes through. It is exciting flying over such wilderness. I wonder how many people have looked at what we are seeing now. Some, certainly…. but not all that many. The Liard is a river on a mission. It carves its way through rugged terrain leaving sheer, steep walls of stone each side of narrow gorges, one of which is named Hell’s Gate. I imagine the bears and moose that are down there, unseen by us. As we cross this rugged section of beautiful terrain the ground drops further and further away from us as we leave the Rockies. We are happy to find clearer and clearer skies as we pass over the wide high gentle foothills east of the Rockies. The Alaska Highway exits the Rockies south of where we do but it is easy to pick up again. We initially planned to go to Fort Nelson but by now we are riding a pretty good tail wind and it seems a shame to quit it. So we forge on to Fort St John, and, because we’re feeling good and have plenty of fuel onboard, we push on to Dawson Creek where we land for the night.

Sunday, our third day of the trip we have fantastic tailwinds that give us ground speeds up to 175 mph. We sail across Alberta and Saskatchewan watching as the Canadian prairies roll by beneath us. We make one stop for fuel at North Battleford, a mostly unremarkable airstrip that we seem to stop at every time we fly this route. It is a quick pit stop then off we go again on the next leg south. We cross into America at International Peace Garden in North Dakota with no incident. Last May when we passed through this boarder crossing we were disgusted by the officer’s poor behavior and lack of knowledge of their own policies and procedures. We had been delayed and subjected to an incompetent inspection. So this time we are prepared for the worse and are pleasantly surprised to be greeted by officers who act professionally. They tell us they are aware of inconsistencies in their homeland aviation security system and even work with us to understand which details in their system make it hard for pilots to be compliant. Our experience is so different from last May I leave wondering what might have taken place to change this border crossing so significantly.

The last flight of the day is a short one from the U.S/Canadian border due south to Devils Lake, North Dakota. This land surrounding Devils Lake is undergoing an unprecedented water crisis as the lake levels rise slowly flooding the surrounding farms and roads. We see many paved roads disappearing into the bloated lake and, following the course of these roads with our eyes, we see house and barn roofs sticking up in what looks like the center of a lake. But it’s not supposed to be a lake. It’s a farm. And, more importantly, it’s someone’s home and lifestyle now sitting under water. Trucks and farm equipment are out there too. Abandoned for lack of enough high ground to store them. It’s a heart breaking sight. As set up our approach to Devils Lake airport we easily locate Greg and Chris’s farm off highway 2. We note that although only about a mile from the lake it is still above ground as evidenced by the raised arms waving below us in their yard. They have left the truck for us at the airport. God bless’em. We drive directly to our favorite motel, check in, and race out to The Ranch Steakhouse to meet them for drinks, dinner and a social evening of recounted stories and adventures.

Monday morning Terry gathers all the stuff we left with Greg last May and packs it into the plane. I think the only thing we are not able to take with us is the old landing gear we flew in on way back in February. At some point we need to relocate it to Florida but it’s too heavy and huge, and awkward to carry with us now. We fill up with fuel and take off. We both shake our heads at the flooded farm lands below us as we climb out on a long, long, downwind departure to Florida.

We pick an eastward altitude to cruise at that gives us the maximum tailwind benefit as we cruise across the golden waves of grain. We watch farm life from high above North Dakota, across the corner of Minnesota, and into Iowa, making our first fuel stop in Independence, Iowa. We calculate we can make it to Effingham, Illinois for the night then dissolve into laughter at all the jokes we can think of that involve a play on words for Effing Ham. Like “I ain’t eating no effing ham”. We are delighted to find a friendly FBO (Fixed Based Operator) on the field who offers us a courtesy car. It is just getting dark as we drive down motel row and select a Comfort Suites located next to the freeway. The desk clerk recommends a local restaurant that turns out to be pretty good. The thing is… we are now used to Alaska restaurant prices which are the highest I’ve seen anywhere. An enchilada in Haines will set you back $18. A hamburger is $12. Here in Effingham a steak dinner is $11 and most entrees are in the $7-$9 range. And that included a salad bar! Yeah! Let’s all move to Effingham and eat cheap.

Tuesday, our fifth day of the trip, we have it in our hearts to make it the rest of the way to Kittyhawk, Florida by sundown. We fly a long-ass leg (4.2 hrs) to La Grange, Georgia and land for fuel. It’s not until we go inside the terminal building that we recognize we’ve been here before. And the thing that sparks our memory is the free popcorn machine in the hallway. We load up on popcorn and fuel and take off one last time. Believe it or not the terrain between Illinois and Florida is now becoming familiar to me as this is the third time we’ve crossed over it in N4999T. The beautiful green of Kentucky and Tennessee and the scramble of development that is Nashville gradually give way to the forested gentle hills of Northern Alabama and Georgia. We cross into Florida in late afternoon and Terry’s practiced eyes find the tiny private airfield called Kittyhawk where his parents live. It is a narrow grass strip cut out of a thick forest of pine trees. Narrow taxiways lead off it to small houses and hangars nestled in the trees. A beautiful setting made even more beautiful by the sight of little airplanes parked here and there. Like jewelry laid out on a field of green and brown. Terry’s parent’s place is closed up tight while they spend the summer in their home in Alaska. We unlock the door and make cool drinks. I’ve forgotten how hot it gets in Florida in the summer. Wooo Eeeey. We take our time tying down the plane and unloading all our gear. What a pile of stuff! Terry’s Dad’s truck starts right up and we hold hands over the center console as we drive through the little towns of Live Oak and Branford on our way to Terry’s house in Old Town, Florida.

Wednesday, the 15th. It feels good to wake up back in Terry’s house. After living in a 29’ trailer it is a bit of a shock to have so much space to Rattle around in. I can’t help noticing that his bathroom is a quite a bit larger than the trailer! We spend one entire day just moving things from here to there. I focus on a small alcove off the living room and rearrange the furniture there into a sitting area. The living room is so huge I can’t think about. We walk through the house, many times, and lose ourselves in the sheer volume of space. We go through the kitchen panty and toss out-dated cans and food stuffs until it is organized with the new food we just bought. Terry sits down at the trap set to play the drums while I read. Then he moves to the piano and plays a beautiful set of songs. I close my eyes in the alcove and let the music, Terry’s music, flow over me. We drink cups of tea and watch the birds as they fly over the front meadow and land near the lake in front of the house. We enjoy the day and evening in a slow relaxed mode knowing tomorrow we have many things to do in Gainesville to get positioned to return to Alaska in only two days.

Those two days go fast as we do errands, pick up a rental car, and return Terry’s Dad’s truck to Kittyhawk. The distances between things in rural Florida are measured in hours, not minutes. On Friday we leave the house in the early afternoon and drive to Charlie and Brenda’s house in Titusville. We are greeted at the door with much fanfare. Charlie and Brenda hug us and we dance in the entryway while Brett (who has just returned home from four years in the Marines) stands on the balcony above us playing a kick-ass rendition of Hotel California on his guitar. Brenda gives me a tour of their beautiful home before we dash off to dinner at a place called Dixie Crossroads where they specialize in a type of shellfish called Rock Shrimp. These shrimp, about the size of a man’s thumb, are sliced lengthwise, grilled, and served in their spiny shells like miniature lobsters. What a treat! The company, conversation, and food made for a great evening.

In the morning we creep about as silently as church mice and are on the road by 6:30am headed for Orlando Airport. Our first class flight to Seattle is wonderful. We arrive in Seattle 11am local time and settled ourselves in the Alaska Airlines Board Room for a day-long wait till our flight to Juneau boards at 8pm. But even the long wait is okay in this place with comfortable chairs, snacks, drinks, and free WiFi. By the time we get to Juneau it is too late for a ferry or an air taxi to Haines so we check into a hotel room and sleep hard. Our air taxi to Haines the next day is via Skagway so we are treated to a beautiful scenic tour of the Lynn Canal which is a great homecoming and a great way to complete our excursion to Florida!

Things are a little different now that we are back in Haines. For one thing we know we are leaving in just three weeks and that our wonderful summer in Haines is coming to an end. But more obvious changes are upon us. Within days of being back the sun retreats behind slate-grey clouds and the temperatures drop to below freezing at night. When the sun shows itself a few days later the nearby mountaintops are dusted with the first snows of winter. The last week of September is rainy, windy, and stormy. We take down the awning and disassemble our patio things. At night the winds rock the trailer and spruce cones rain down on our tin roof making a racket. The daytimes are darkish and I find myself staying in the trailer while Terry is at the clinic. I spend my time reading and painting little watercolors totem poles and grizzly bears. I sew up a school of fish using the red heel socks usually reserved for making sock monkeys. The sock monkeys I made last December love them and enjoy the ‘sock company’. I start painting the gillnet floats my friend Jill has given me from the 1917 cannery she and her boyfriend Hugh own. Meals are mostly soups and stews and cold weather comfort food which keep the trailer rich with the smells of garlic and onions. In the evenings we snuggle under the covers to watch old episodes of Larry David in ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. Winter is coming. The restaurants in town all have handwritten notices on their doors announcing their last nights for dinner for the season. Some will reopen for the holidays but most will not. Most noticeable to me is the absence of all the pretty flowerpots and baskets around town. During the third week of September they were pulled down and put in storage until next spring. The town is shutting down for winter and nothing can stop it.

We are down to our last two weeks in Haines! We carefully study maps and ferry schedules and calendars and come up with an escape plan. We discover that putting the truck and trailer on a 45 minute ferry ride across Lynn Canal to Skagway will save us driving 200+ miles north to the Alaska Highway just to get access to the Highway going south to Smithers. Going to Skagway cuts a corner off the route. The ferries are running on their less frequent winter schedules now so our options are limited. Another factor is our desire to reach Woodland, Washington while Terry’s folks are there visiting Terry’s brother Earl and his wife Mary. We hatch a plan to leave Wednesday, Oct. 13th and arrive in Santa Clara around October 21st. We’ll stay in CA only a short while before driving to Florida where Terry has clinic business to take care of in November and December. Someone please let Callie know that she’s going to join us for the road trip from Santa Clara to Florida and that there’s a huge beautiful house waiting for us all alongside a lake!

            “And the road says come follow the sun
             And my feet say rest you’re doing your best
             And my heart says fly beyond the sky
             And my soul knows all the reasons why”      
Written by Jody Calcara

Stay tuned for further Elize and Terry adventures.....