Sunday, August 13, 2006

Alaska - land of the midnight sun

That's right folks, summertime in Alaska...it only gets dusky at night. When we were there two years ago, we went camping on the Kenai Penninsula. You know those pesky middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom when you're camping?? Well, let's just say I didn't need a flashlight to find my way..... :)

Anyway, back to this trip. We flew up Friday evening after work. All of Kevin's furniture had been shipped already, so we crashed on air mattresses on his apartment floor. We spent half of Saturday with his truck up on a lift on the base changing the oil, replacing worn shocks, and getting it ready for the long trip. Yes, I got greasy too. What??? You think I'm a girlie girl or something??

We spent Sunday enjoying Alaska one last time. We drove South of Anchorage along Turnigan Arm, the long water inlet between the penninsula and the mainland, to Girdwood.
We hopped on the Alaska Railroad in Girdwood, which is really nothing but a whistle stop for the train, and chugged a few miles into the mountains.
Our destination was Spencer Glacier...you can see it in the background of the picture below. The size of the glacier is a bit deceiving, though. The mouth of the glacier that you see is actually a mile across from one mountain to the other.
At the glacial lake, we loaded on rafts and maneuvered our way through the huge icebergs floating in the lake to the Peace River and rafted down the river. It was absolutely gorgeous floating along between the mountains and bouncing over the rapids...it made us wish we were staying longer in Alaska. But, alas, we had a long roadtrip ahead of us.

Monday morning, we were up and at it early to get everything out of his apartment and loaded onto his truck, then Kevin had to don his uniform one more time to do his final PCSing. Once that was done, we picked up his 4-wheeler and trailer, stopped at the grocery store to stock up on trip munchies, and finally hit the road about 1300. A couple hours later we stopped beside a beautiful glacial creek for a late picnic lunch. The water was that beautiful turquoise color and looked very inviting, but it was also icy cold.

We didn't make it to the Canadian border that day because of our late start. We ended up spending the night in Tok, a little town at one of the two main crossroads in Alaska, where we left Old Glenn Highway and hopped on the Alaska Highway for our trip through Canada. This picture was taken from the balcony of our room in Tok at about midnight. Like I said before, it only gets dusky at night in Alaska.

Day 2 started out great and we were making good time...until we got to the Canadian border. We were in a line of vehicles waiting to be processed, when out walked this Customs woman with a chip on her shoulder...honestly. She picked us out of the line and signaled us aside. Uh oh... She asked for IDs and we knew we were in trouble when she told Kevin that his military ID wasn't sufficient...hmmmmm...me thinks she dislikes the American military. It went downhill from there and she ended up searching the whole truck. She pulled everything out of our suitcases, went through all his boxes, and made us pour out a bottle of Saki that Kevin had brought back from Japan as a souvenir and a small bottle of Captain Morgan rum that I had bought while in Alaska. I think she was pissed that she didn't find any weapons or drugs...and believe me she looked in every wheel well and under the hood and everything. Freaking crazy Canuck!!!

Needless to say, our morning was shot by the time we left, an hour and a half later, but we put a few more miles between us and that border before we stopped for lunch at a beautiful mountain lake. In this picture, Kevin is scanning the surrounding mountains with his binoculars looking for signs of wildlife...you can see part of the lake in the background.
We did find time to celebrate Kevin's birthday later that day, despite the border fiasco, and it was nice to be with him on his birthday for a change, after missing so many while he was in Alaska. Too bad I couldn't bake him a cake..... :)

The rest of our trip through Canada was soured by our encounter at the border...plus we managed to come in contact with some of the rudest people wherever we stopped. One night, we fell into a town rather late and had to hunt everywhere for a motel room. It was almost 2100 before we went looking for a place to eat. The only place in town that was open was a bar and grill that looked like a nice place. We ordered our food and proceeded to wait. The waitress kind of forgot about us, as she was busy visiting with her friends. When our food finally arrived, she told Kevin that his burger had "accidentally" been given away but that they had put another burger on the grill and it would be ready in 5 minutes. Okay, what could we say. Ten minutes later, we were still waiting for his burger when our waitress served a burger exactly like what Kevin had ordered to a guy (one of her friends) at the table next to us who had just come in a few minutes earlier...hmmmm. In another 10 minutes, she finally brought Kevin his burger...and do you know what she said??? She didn't say I'm sorry for the wait or anything apologetic...she said, "Well, better late than never this time of night." Okay, fine...there went her tip.

The lady at the motel where we stayed was a totally different story, however, and restored my faith in people. She was friendly, accommodating, and even gave me a stamp for the postcard I was sending to Seth. Yeah, we sent a postcard to Seth every day. That way he kinda sorta made the trip with us..... :)

Canada is a truly beautiful place and is full of wildlife, not unlike Alaska. One evening, we were driving along, trying to make the next town before it got too late, when we saw a moose in a pond at the side of the road. We came to a screeching halt in the middle of the highway and laughed our asses off as Kevin attempted to back up his trailer. Don't get me wrong, Kevin can back up any trailer, usually, but for some reason, he was getting no cooperation from his trailer that day. I finally just got out of the truck and walked back to where the moose was and took some pictures. He looks further away in this picture than he actually was (he's the small dark spot in the middle of the picture at the back of the pond), but isn't the scenery idyllic??
What was really incredible was that we were stopped in the middle of the highway for at least 10 minutes, and we never saw another vehicle the whole time we were there. It was so quiet that I could hear the water dripping from the plants the moose pulled up out of the pond. Talk about relaxing...I could have stayed there all night.

After being in Canada for four days, however, we were ready to make a run for the border. We drove down through Jasper and Lake Louise, crossed the border, and spent the night in northwestern Montana Friday night. I've got to tell you, it felt really great to be back in the good ol' USA. We spent a very relaxing evening sitting in camp chairs outside our motel room (which was more like a house with a carport), having a few drinks after some tasty barbecue for dinner, and enjoying a cool breeze, green rolling hills, and some beautiful stars as the sun went down. Yeah, it actually got dark that night.....lol. We decided then and there that we would have to go back to Montana some day......but that's another story.

From Montana, we dropped straight south through Idaho and Utah (by the way, driving through Utah is like driving through hell, literally), then drove east through Colorado....that's some beautiful country.
We stopped there long enough for the guys to take a helicopter tour of the Royal Gorge. No, I didn't do it...even though I would have liked to. I tend to get motion sick, and we still had a long drive ahead of us that day, and I didn't want to spend it feeling like crap.
After the helitour, we dropped south into New Mexico to see where Kevin's new base was and spent the night there. Then, the next day, HOME. We made the 4,000-plus-mile drive from Anchorage to Dallas in about 8 and a half days. I think we left a contrail at times..... :)

The best part of the trip was getting to spend so much time with Kevin...hadn't done that in a long, long time...and probably won't get to do it again. Ahhhh, life is good!!!

Before I sign out, I have a message for two very important people who were married one year ago today... "Happy Anniversary, Katie and Seth. I know this has been a tough first year of marriage with the deployment, but you're almost there now and you'll get to celebrate big time in 3 1/2 months. I love you both very much!!!"

8 Comments:

Blogger Michelle said...

How beautiful! The scenery looks so peaceful. Looks like you guys had a great time. Sorry you had a few run-in's with some rude people. At least you did get to experience one who was nice. :)

8/13/06, 11:52 AM  
Blogger Courtney said...

What a trip. I would've loved it. The scenery is beautiful. But what is with the Canadian customs lady RUDE. Anyway, I am glad you got to spend so much time with Kevin. How fun. Alaska looks so beautiful. I want to go someday. Well I am glad you had a safe trip and that you had fun. I am also glad you are back. WE MISSED YOU!

8/14/06, 9:12 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

dangit, you made me cry, i stopped by to see what you have written about alaska and to see the picks then i get down to the bottom... darn you...hehe anyways, thanks again for the vase... anyways i wanted to remind you to go read my blog, todays post and the one below that..
well thanks again for everything..
love you

dil

8/14/06, 9:21 PM  
Blogger vanessa said...

I am glad to hear you had a nice trip here, looks like you got the few days of nice weather we had this summer. nothing but rain now for the past two weeks. I love it here when it rains but enough is enough. beautiful pictuers also.
i am so glad we will be flying out of here when its our turn to leave with that story.

8/15/06, 2:24 AM  
Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

The pictures are truly beautiful. Sounds like you had fun. That is one place I want to go to before I die...Alaska.

8/16/06, 8:45 AM  
Blogger Sminklemeyer said...

cool pictures.

8/16/06, 10:04 AM  
Blogger yankeemom said...

Great pics!! Glad you were able to spend the time with Kevin.
Happy Anniversary, Seth and KC ~

8/16/06, 8:39 PM  
Blogger Monica said...

Love the pics and sounds like a great trip overall! I would love to take a trip to Alaska.

8/17/06, 1:42 AM  

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