Tuesday, September 8th, however is rather lost. I think we must have spent it doing mundane things around town.
Wait...let's back up and I'll include some photos of things mentioned earlier.
Beautiful Fall Colors
The Fisherman cutting down trees at Jerry's.
Note the difference in weather. Same day, just a couple hours later. The saying in Alaska goes, "If you're not happy with the weather in Alaska, just wait a minute; it'll change." These trees are on two different sides of their yard. I have a photo of The Fisherman in this second tree with nothing but clouds behind it. This blue skied photo was taken literally minutes later.
Here's the top of Bear Mountain overlooking Skilak Lake ...
Some turning fireweed leaves along the Bear Mountain trail.
Surprises For Me At The Cabin
It actually does have sort of a "bottom" on which it can stand, which will be better once we take a saw to it.
Did errands in Anchorage nearly all day. While driving into the Home Depot parking lot we saw about 40 Canada geese on a grassy peninsula surrounded on three sides by bustling Anchorage traffic. Beautiful and ugly. Serene and obnoxious. Nature and technology. Peaceful amid chaotic. Left Anchorage around 3pm. Got to Glen Allen, smelled burning oil and saw smoke. Yikes. We were leaking oil. The Fisherman tightened the oil filter as tight as he could and replaced the lost oil. We proceeded cautiously and camped a couple hours later 50 miles west of Tok.
We stayed there over an hour. Lots of other cars stopped. We met another photographer who is from Virginia. This year he said he put his jeep and motor home on a ferry and came up the inside passage. Great photo ops! That's on our list now for someday. In Tok we found a mechanic who put the van up on the rack for us where we discovered that the gasket from the old oil filter was stuck to the mounting. The new oil filter, freshly installed the day before in Anchorage, could not seat properly and leaked. After getting the bothersome straggler removed, we drove on with much more confidence. We crossed the border into Canada around 6:30pm. Camped around 10:30pm.
Monday, Sept 14th.
Awoke to condensation inside the van again. It has happened often, but this morning it was frozen. 32 degrees inside. No wonder my head was cold during the night! I learned in Ski School when I was in High School that we lose 90% of our body heat from our heads. The instructors told us, "If your feet are cold, put a hat on." I keep a scrap of soft and thick flannel by my pillow when van camping in the far north. It really helps to put it over my head. That way I don't have to worry about suffocating underneath covers pulled all the way over my head.
Saw two deer roadside, a buck and a doe. Odd...the buck was still in velvet. I thought they'd be shed by now.
We were all off schedule for driving because of our late start and because we took so long getting beyond Tok the second day. We find we're driving through some of the most beautiful parts after dark. Dang.
Tuesday, Sept 15 and forward.
We drove...and drove...and drove. Passed some beautiful, beautiful territory but were very tired. Stopped for photos as they presented themselves. Buffalo, Stone Sheep, windows of blue in cloud laden skies, autumn colors, birch and spruce.
The Fisherman decided to drive through the night. This really confused me on what day it was and where we were. Without stopping at night to camp, I found I got pretty lost as to where we were. Pretty soon we found ourselves in Ft. Nelson. We stopped for gas and lunch groceries. On the way out of town, we saw a B&B that had a special stack of firewood. What was special to us about it is the fact that The Fisherman has toyed with the idea of making our "real" cabin home in Alaska out of stacked logs. The walls would be about 2-3 feet thick, stuffed, chinked and sealed over. The inside and outside walls would be the round ends of the logs, like this:
This design would be creative, different, super insulated, and inexpensive, too. (We have PLENTY of wood on our property!) We're excited at the possibily of having such a unique home. I guess it's not literally "unique" because it's been done before. (I had a college english professor who's pet peeve was people using adjectives in front of the word unique. "Something cannot be 'really unique'", she'd say. "It's either unique or it isn't.") Back to the story... We pulled into the B&B property and were quickly greeted by the owner who asked if he could help us. We told him we were just admiring his uniform stack of wood and our thoughts of building our home that way. He was very interested, said he just read a book about alternative homes, and saw one he really liked built by some guy in Arizona. Arizona? We're from Arizona! No kidding, really? We had a nice long chat with Peter. He was very friendly. He had some antlers around this beautifully stacked wall of wood, moose, caribou, deer. On a whim, The Fisherman asked him if he might be willing to sell us the moose antlers. He said, "Aw, you can just take them. They were given to me so you can just have them." WOW! We were exstatic! Those things cost about $500 at the antler store in Sterling. (Yes, there's actually an antler store. But it's not that unusual; there's one at home too.)
So, we managed to squeeze these giant moose antlers (connected) into the van. It was funny because the van was already stuffed - I mean PACKED - with other treasures we'd accumulated along the drive. Jerry's caribou antlers, some birch branches to make easels out of, and one giant beaver gnawed birch log that was just too cool to not have. I've created a monster, as the saying goes. For the first 20 years of our marriage, I was the one always bringing home twigs and rocks (still do). Now, The Fisherman is into it. Only in a man-sized fashion. He carried a 5 foot log 7 inches in diameter about a half mile from the river where we found it back to the van. Yes, we were stuffed with treasures. Some of them we will haul right back up to Alaska next summer for our cabin. We just acquired them while going the wrong direction. On that same hike (part of why it took so long to get to Tok) we saw tons of blueberries. We had fun picking and eating them.
Thursday, September 17th
Mom's birthday. And I missed it. I was so lost in what the date was, and even what day it was, that I completely missed her birthday. I suppose this can be looked on as a good thing. Birthdays of loved ones passed on are among the hardest things to go through, especially the first one. And I was completely oblivious. It was about 11pm when we were driving, again bleary eyed and exhausted, almost home, when I heard the newscaster say the date. I was instantly sad and my eyes filled with tears. I was so sad to have not known it was Mom's birthday. I felt cheated somehow, not being able to spend the day in some sort of intentional celebratory remembering of her life. Her love. My love for her. Memories. I felt cheated. I cried.
Friday, Sept 18th, 1:00 a.m. HOME.