Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
This was the laziest day of our trip so far. I guess we must be running out of steam. We got up real late, puttered round the campground and had a late breakfast. I filled the water tank, dumped the holding tank using the same macerator and tank system we used while were in Quartzsite this past winter, washed some more bugs off the truck and repaired the steps on the trailer. A bolt had come loose. Nana also did a couple loads of laundry.
After lunch we went into town to find a beauty supply store so Nana could get some hair color and we stopped at Fred Meyer’s for some groceries on the way home. Nana colored her hair when we got home and Papa and Dom washed some more of the truck.
Last night was a card night. The kids and Nana talked Papa into playing Hand and Foot with them.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
No, not Nana and the kids….. my laptop!
We got up very late this morning and puttered around, washing bugs off the front of the truck (it’s a big truck and there can’t be any bugs left between Montana and Anchorage) and getting ready to go do some more shopping.
It was then I got the call from the repairman at Pyramid Computers who had worked on my laptop. He said he re-soldered the power connection but that there was something else wrong with it. It would not power on and he said the mother board was bad. I explained to him as calmly as I could that the mother board was not bad when I gave it to them yesterday, that it worked when they got it and that I would be down shortly to have a chat with them about what needed to happen.
By the time I got the rest of this crew ready to go, dropped them off at Michaels to do some shopping and arrived at the place, they had already sent my laptop to their other store where their “senior” laptop technician worked. She was going to look at it and would call me after when she figured out what had happened.
I picked up the kids from shopping and we returned to the campground, made lunch, unloaded the scooter, washed the scooter and decided to go get our mail that we had had forwarded to Anchorage. Dom and I rode down to the main post office and waited in line for 45 minutes (1 clerk at the main downtown post office and about 20 people in line where we got there) and while we were there I got a call from the “senior” tech telling me the computer was fixed and I could come pick it up. After getting the mail, Dom and I rode over to the store and got it. In the course of conversation it became very clear that the first technician did not know what he was doing. Good thing he did not really make a mess of it given that she said it was one of the most densely packed laptops she had ever worked on. She had never worked on one like it and was actually very impressed with it. Best of all, she only charged me for 1 ½ hours of labor instead of the 2 hours I was quoted and much less than the 3 ½ hours they spent working on it altogether.
Although everything on my laptop is backed up on my external hard drive, I really do not relish the idea of losing this one that is configured and set up exactly the way I want it, in the middle of a trip like this.
We watched Titanic on DVD this evening and went to bed late. It was a long movie.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
We drove into the big city today. Anchorage looks just like any city in the lower 48 except for the snow covered mountains in the distance. Every chain store and restaurant is here. We checked all our RV park guides and decided to try the cheapest of the three major campgrounds and planned to stay for two or three days so we could get some stuff done. The place advertised $27 last year, which was expensive but not overly so. When we got there the place was packed and they now charge $42 a night. Apparently one the biggest RV parks in the city closed this year (bulldozed and is becoming a super Target) and with the shortage of spaces everyone has raised their rates to whatever the traffic will bear.
After some thinking things over we decided to try a city RV park that advertised $20 a day, but no hookups. The place is really nice with very large sites, just like a wilderness campground. The only drawback is the road noise from the Glenn Highway, but we are used to that and can’t see it from the park. We have decided to stay here until time to fly back down to Phoenix. The kids are tired of traveling and wanted to stay in one place for a while. There are things to do here and we can make day trips in the truck to many nearby areas. We have also been warned about finding a place and hunkering down during the 4th of July weekend which is this weekend. Then, we leave on the 5th for Phoenix and need to leave the trailer in a safe place. This place seems very good, as the city police patrol frequently and there are two campground hosts here all the time.
After checking in we went shopping, down to the airport to check out parking for the truck while we are gone (off airport at only $9 a day) and to a CompUSA to see about getting my laptop repaired. The power connection has become flakey and I need to have it fixed. CompUSA said they could fix it by replacing the mother board. That would only cost about $800! I explained to the young man that I just needed someone to open it up and re-solder the connection on the mother board. I was not going to buy a new mother board just because a solder joint had broken. CompUSA will only replace parts. They will not solder anything, but the young man understood (and agreed that it was dumb) and suggested I take it to Pyramid Computers, an independent shop in town. So I did. They said they repair them all the time and would have it ready by tomorrow afternoon.
We returned to the campground, took a hike, washed bugs off the front of the truck, and roasted hot dogs over the fire for dinner. Then we had smores for desert. The campground has no wireless so we told the kids we would have to go to Starbucks every couple days to use the internet. That was more exciting than anything on the trip since the West Edmonton Mall. They love Starbucks.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
I got up at 6 this morning after having gone to bed around 10 last night. We were tired and Nana was not feeling well from the effects of the cold Dom gave her. I decided to let everyone sleep in, but at 9 am they were all still asleep. Enough is enough! Get up you lazy critters.
What a difference a day makes. The weather was beautiful yesterday except for some late evening thundershowers. This morning there was more rain and we were socked in with a combination of clouds and smoke. A huge fire somewhere, one of the 56 burning in Alaska right now, was covering the whole area with smoke. Visibility was only ¼ mile or so and it was cold and drizzly.
We were ready to leave the RV park at 10:30 and had to make a stop at the bus loading area since we realized Deidra’s digital camera had been left on the bus yesterday. We arrived there about 10:45 and after 45 minutes of wading through government red tape we were sent over to the baggage claim office near the visitor center. There more government red tape was unrolled as it appeared someone else had also made a claim for her camera. Why someone else would want a cheap digital camera with dead batteries and a view screen that only works if you fold it up to just the right angle is beyond me. Regardless, after another 45 minutes of unrolling more red tape, including a call to Dayna and Chris to verify the brand of camera, they finally decided to release it to her instead of mailing it. Of course, the camera itself was not there, it was at dispatch. So, they requested it be sent over to baggage claim where it finally arrived while we ate lunch in the parking lot. Deidra still had to put new batteries in it and show them that there were pictures of her and Dom on the camera before they actually let her have it. We finally left with the camera at 1:30. I’m sure we used up several miles of their tape, but unfortunately there is a never ending supply of the stuff.
We motored off into the smoke. Even with the vents closed the smell was oppressive. After an hour or so the smoke became mixed with rain and later fog and low clouds. At times the visibility was reduced to only a couple hundred feet and I slowed to 45 MPH. The road was wet, it was raining and we couldn’t see anything. That is not what we came to Alaska for. By about 3:30 we found an Alaska State Park that is nothing more than a paved turnout along the highway where we pulled in for the night. Hopefully the clouds will lift overnight and whatever fire the smoke is coming from will be extinguished by all this rain.
In the meantime, we are warm and snug in our home, hooking rugs, watching DVD’s, playing games, eating popcorn and hoping for a better day tomorrow.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
It was another day of mostly travel with not very exciting scenery. We left our campsite about 9 and continued north on some of the worst “pavement” known to man. We actually enjoyed the dirt construction sections because they were much smoother than the pavement. The only downside was that in some areas they were running water trucks to keep the dust down and that resulted in the most tenacious mud coating all over the truck and trailer.
It took us 1 ¾ hours to reach the border even though it was less than 60 miles away. They let us back into the country. We had to go through the commercial lane since we were too tall to fit through the normal car and RV lane. It was nice to be able to determine the speed limit and distances to towns without having to convert from metric. The roads were a little better than in the Yukon, but better is a relative term. Until we reached Tok, the first town of any size, the roads were still pretty miserable.
In Tok Nana bought some groceries while I used $9 in quarters to blast the mud off the rig with a pressure washer. That was not to make it clean – just to remove the heavier mud. A real washing will have to wait. We also picked up our free ¼ pound of fudge from a gift store in Tok. We had purchased a book of coupons before we left the lower 48 and that was our first opportunity to use it. Most of the coupons are buy one get one free, and they are for tours, cruises, dinners and such. We will get our money’s worth before we are done.
We drove north toward Delta Junction and the roads improved dramatically, although the scenery still left much to be desired. We drove through stunted forest and past pretty lakes, but mostly over relatively flat land. All the mountains were far off in the distance.
We stopped at a parking area by a stream for the night. After a dinner of taco’s we watched Jewel of the Nile and got ready for bed. The temperature sure has changed from last night. The sky is clear and it is still 70 degrees at 10 PM. Of course, we gained another hour when we crossed into Alaska so now the sun will not set until around midnight. Sure is strange trying to get to sleep when the sun is still up!
Sunday, June 17, 2007
After such a fantastic day yesterday we should have expected less today. We would not have been disappointed.
Last night as the kids we getting into bed, Dom jumped on the bed and landed on Deidra’s already sprained ankle, re-injuring what was already a bum leg. That meant that Deidra needed to be helped everywhere she went today, including climbing in and out of the truck. That takes four good limbs under the best of circumstances.
It took forever for everyone to get ready to go this morning, and then we had to make a stop at Wal-Mart on the way out to buy an ankle wrap for our gimp. We motored north, stopping for lunch at a rest area along the way. The scenery was very nice, but after yesterday it was not noteworthy.
We passed Kaluane Lake and some dusty construction before hitting the road everyone talks about when they lament the rough ride. The guide books warn that the road from here to the Alaska border, about 150 miles away, is the roughest of the whole trip. They were not kidding. Although it is paved and not very potholed, the surface is heaved, dipped, rolled, humped and any other irregular description you can think of. For much of the last 50 miles of the day we drove about 30 MPH and even that was rough.
We finally stopped at Lake Creek Campground, a Yukon government park. It is much is like our forest service campgrounds in the states, but the sites are very big and they have free firewood. Not that the firewood is going to do us any good. In addition to free firewood they have free and plentiful mosquitoes here. Sitting outside is out of the question.
While peeling potatoes for dinner, Deidra managed to slice her finger so tonight she only has two good limbs. Nana had to cut her pork roast. Card games after dinner and off to bed. Tomorrow we should be back in Alaska for good.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
We had sloppy Joes for dinner and then watched Grumpy Old Men on DVD before bed.