Friday, August 11, 2006

North to Alaska and South to Texas Epilogue

May 16 - August 7, 2006 Longview TX to Longview TX Log 12,261 Miles
Alaska Day 1-83 Epilogue:
We had a fantastic summer. We started our trip with the Discovery Texans Rally at Shallow Creek and ended 83 days later back here in Longview TX. We traveled 12, 261 miles in the D and probably another 1200 or so in the Jeep. We went from summer to spring to winter and back to summer. It was just a little traumatic returning to 100d F. days. Most of our days were in the 65d range with the nights in the 40’s. We followed the Klondike Gold Rush Trail from Skagway- Dyea and the Chilkoot and White Pass to Dawson City. We missed the strike though by over 100 years. However we found that the Canadians and Alaskans are still mining for gold from the many tourists that cover this route. We panned for gold on the Klondike and north of Fairbanks. We found about $9.00 worth of gold specs, which is more than most of the original seekers found. We walked on glaciers and watched whales feed in the Gulf of Alaska. We fished for halibut off the Kenai Peninsula. We were in the 4th of July parade in Valdez with our trikes and Jake. We took a dogsled ride with an Iditarod veteran. Jake swam in everything from mountain streams and lakes to the mighty Yukon River. We took 4, 218 digital pictures and 13 hours of video which we plan to use to make a DVD that we will share with you soon. For those of you who are worried about the cost of diesel these days, we spent considerable less than a two week cruise would have cost. We found that our mobile condo has the best back yard and view in the world, and we are counting the days until we can continue our Journey.

Walldog, Willie and Jake
Herb and Wilma Stark

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Alaska Day 83 Home in Texas

Sunday August 7, 2006 Denton TX to Longview TX Log 160 Miles
We awake to another beautiful sunrise, this time with the orange ball appearing in the pink and glow of the sky. As we leave Denton, it begins to look a lot like Dallas -- (don't let Herb see Frye's Electronics!) --next the signs for Hwy 80 which runs thru Longview, and the sign for Tyler/Shreveport and we know Longview is in between them. Are we excited yet? Then comes the familiar pine trees and rolling hills. Longview is not far away.

We are silent as we approach our house, unhook the Jeep and back the Discovery into its garage. We dont close the door of the garage with the trikes still on, so we do not surprise our neighbors, David and Patti Harwell. We later learn that coming home "early" spoiled the surprise Welcome Home party they had planned, but promised to have it in another day or so. No details shared. We join them for a celebration of our homecoming and catching up on the news.

Pictures are here.

Waldog, Willie and Jake

PS. This will be the last Journal for a while. We are taking care of our business and planning our next trip <Grins>

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Alaska Day 82

Saturday August 5, 2006 Clines Corners NM to Denton TX Log 565 Miles

We are greeted by sunrise of pink, orange and yellow reflected on the scattered clouds, and welcomed to Texas. It is comforting to see Texas, but it is also sad to realize that we are so close to the end of this part of our journey. Strange to again be seeing sights familiar, like TA and Love's fuel stop with Carl's Jr. restaurant, and to think we could be home tomorow. We are now afraid of the dark, as it comes upon us while we are still awake and lasts about nine hours, instead of zero.

In Texas along I-40 we see fresh plowed fields, crops growing, then a large burn area with a plowed fire-break. We really know we are in Texas now when we see a giant watermelon on a flatbed trailer advertising the store behind it. And cows.......... Then at Denton we head for Camping World like kids in a candy store, but all we purchase are a ladder and vegetable steamer basket.

Jake plays fetch the dummy until the 103 degree F chases him inside the RV for cooling off. Welcome to Texas!

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Alaska Day 81

Friday August 4, 2006, Cortez CO to Clines Corners NM Log 300 Miles
We leave beautiful country and enter beautiful country. Different shaped rock formations that we have been seeing, and deep washes where streams once ran. Ship Rock, 7178 el, is just south of CO/NM line on Hwy 491, and near the town of Ship Rock NM. Then come the clouds, quiet for now, and we wonder if they are the same ones causing the floods at El Paso.

Jake finds a nice large pasture for exercising, as he has been sleeping all day. At Clines Corners we did not buy the fudge, but we can just TASTE the chocolate!

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Friday, August 04, 2006

Alaska Day 80

Thursday August 3, 2006 Soldier's Summit Tucker UT to Cortez CO Log 312 Miles

Our day begins with a view of the sunrise reflecting on clouds that moved in over night, and we capture the moon just above. Darker clouds appear and we wonder if we will have the predicted storms Meryl told us about. The sun returns.

We drive Hwy 6 over Soldier Summit at 7490 el heading for I-70 and south to Arches National Park. Lots of steep grade and rock. Dust from the road machines in the construction area.

As we approach the Arches park, the mountains turn salmon colored, which we learn is Entrada Sandstone; then we see the sand colored, which is Navaho Sandstone. The campground at Arches is full, even tho we arrive before noon, so we have to settle for driving thru the park.

The beauty of the rock formations, arches, and desert vegetation, as well as slowly decaying fallen trees is indescribable. There are many trails for hikers, and we are warned that the temp could get to 110 F. We head for Colorado.

We see a field of sunflowers and are amused at all of them facing the sun..............

At Cortez CO we find a Passport American campground, La Mesa RV Park, and the host tells us of an Indian dance presentation at the Cortez Cultural Center.

The side of the Cultural Center where we sit has a life-like mural of an Adobe house. The performers are from Gallup NM and are decended from the Lakota and Dineh (Navaho) people. They tell us they compete in song and dance at Pow Wows and invite the public, but at sacred dances, there are no outsiders, no lights, no electronics. One of the performers is Blue Star Boy, who looked to be about four years old. He first dances with his grandfather Norman, and steps like his grandfather does. Each performer describes his/her dress, and the most interesting one was Romona's red dress circled with rows of silver bells. It is called the Jingle Dress, and she wears only one feather in her headdress. Her beige dress is buckskin. Norman wears a more elaborate one, called Roach. He does a dance with hula hoops with which he forms a flying eagle, a horse he rides while roping a calf, and makes a form of the world. At the end we spectators are invited to do the round dance with them and Herb persuades Wilma to join them while he photographs.

Pictures are here

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Alaska Day 79

Wednesday August 2, 2006 Ontario OR to Tucker UT Log 477 Miles
We know we are in cattle country when we stop at the Rest Area for traveler information and see a sign at the pet leash area that prohibits unloading livestock or horses. Lots more wheat and irrigation of crops. We exit Oregon, cross Idaho and get into some traffic around Salt Lake City UT. Flying J country. Oooops! Elsie reminds us about Joe and Justine being at Detroit State Park in Oregon, but we have turned a more easterly direction. We do find it on the map and wish we could have visited with them.

Now come the mountains again, and beautiful red hillsides. Suddenly we see stripes of strata and then the hills turn to greenish gray in the soil and stone.

We find our day's end at a rest stop with a small stream running through and two domesticated sheep slowly grazing just outside the guardrail from the highway. Before long they wander in and Jake-on-leash walks nearby. (Where is that video camera -- there is sure to be action!) Each approaches the other in small increments until Jake poised for attack or play -- not sure which -- but for some reason the sheep spook and run. Jake really missed a good play time and his Woof Woof friend Willie.

The rest stop we spend the night at is at Soldier's Summit at 7000 feet.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Alaska Day 78

Tuesday August 1, 2006 Grande Coulee WA to Ontario OR Log 393 Miles

We said goodbye to Bob and Myrna as they drove down the hillside from our balcony RV site, and readied ourselves for our day's journey, which took us through more wheat fields. The day starts out smokey from the large forest fire about 20 miles north of Grand Coulee.

WA Hwy 21 South follows section lines except for some areas where Farmer Brown insisted it go around, or when it needed to go around a stubborn rock. It was interesting to see the stacks of bales of wheat chaff ready for feeding the cattle in winter.

Along the way we come upon an RV pulling a truck loaded with four-wheelers side by side. We marvel and take a picture. At the massive roadside produce store of fresh fruit, veg, and other tempting items, and where we opted not to buy blueberries, a man tapped Herb on the shoulder, asking how he liked his recumbant trikes. He was the guy towing the four-wheelers.

Oregon has quite a few dump and fresh water stations at rest areas. Their signs state no camping, though, and are posted at the truck rv lanes. We opt for the Wal-mart Supercenter in Ontario for a quick overnight and to restock our supplies.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Alaska Day 77

Monday July 31, 2006 Grand Coulee WA Log 0 Miles
In search of excitement today, and with Bob and Myrna along, we drive a circular scenic route up the countryside, first passing by Grand Coulee Dam and the bigger than life bust of FDR, who authorized building the dam, and a reulting Lake Roosevelt. Much rock and lava rock beauty along the way, and at one point where traffic was stopped by a flagman, we find it is because of a helicopter lifting logs from the mountainside near the roadway -- not road construction.

Near the town of Omak we visit St. Mary's Mission, where there is the only boarding school in the state of Washington. A great mix of religious icons and totems grace the grounds. Wilma and Myrna take many pictures inside and outside the mission. After lunch, we stop in Okanogan for a visit to the Okanogan County Historical Museum. It is a well organized display of artifacts from the early days of this area. This includes the old-fashioned main street with its buildings of the day, farm implements, apple industry display, and a settlers cabin. We find very interesting an "in a word" explanation of how the most unusual terrain of the area was formed; one point made was that the lava flowed up through crevices, and was not a result of a volcano eruption.

Our circular route continues past Chief Joseph Dam, a Corp of Engineers site. On back into our home of the past three days brings us by another great view point of the Grand Coulee Dam. We decide that it may be a little better than the previous night's spot to see the laser show. After dinner we drive up and watch the laser show again. The audio portion we find is broadcast over an FM radio station. So our front row seats are warm and comfortable in the Jeep. Just like a drive-in movie without the PIC. All the mosquitos must be "North to Alaska."

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake