Monday, August 31, 2009

more thoughts from mom


Hello!

We are enjoying our time in Alaska. So much to see and do. We were here, as most of you know 16+ years ago, and a lot has changed, but some things haven't. There is still an unbelievable amount of vast wilderness like I have never seen. So much beauty. The mountains always make me smile. Plus we saw two moose crossing the road last week, which made my day! Man are they big!

OK, so some more things I have learned. One, I finally found a home I can keep pretty clean! An RV! I know, it isn't big, but it seems to be about all I can handle. I am not much of a house keeper. No matter where we live I can't seem to keep up with the mess, but in an RV, I can do it!! HA! YAHOO! I can pretty much touch every space from one spot in the middle of the room with some sort of sanitizer and broom, so all is good :)

Second, it is really nice to have another man around. Z is almost 17 and he is such a big help around the "house" He and dad get all the stuff done that usually took me and dad. It is really nice to be able to get my own things done inside and let the guys do the hard work outside. I see him in a whole new light and I like what I see. God has done a great work in him. My dear husband said to me the other day, "You know, Z is really "nice" , don't you think? He sure didn't get that from us!" HA!! SO TRUE! Anyway, I appreciate him more and more each day.

Third I don't know how people in Canada survive. Everything there is expensive. For an example: butter $2.00 a stick! YES you read that right, a stick, $4 a gallon for gas (on a good day), can of kidney beans, $4.29 - same goes for refried beans and Campbell's soup. This might not be the way it is all over Canada, but the places we drove through it was just like I said.

Fourth, in tune with number 3, we ate our cupboards bare. I was making all sorts of stuff out of what I brought along with us. We used as little butter as possible, which most of you know is a true sacrifice for my Wisconsonite husband. When we got to AK we were running almost on empty. A trip to the commissary was a joy! It is still pricey up here, but nothing like Canada.

Lastly, I realized that I really enjoy my husband being home all the time. I miss him during the day and to have him around all the time is pretty cool. God has blessed me beyond measure with a great man. I especially like it because I don't have to do all the disciplining ALL DAY LONG any more. That is a BIG bonus!

I think Pooh is writing our next blog on our travels; so look for her post soon.

Bye for now
Mom

PS I wanted to thank you all for posting your thoughts. We read them all faithfully and will try and respond, but if we don't, know that we love to hear from you!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More bear tales


So, I wake up especially early (0445) which I tend to do when we want to get an early start. Since we had email/internet, I checked our blog and our rapidly diminishing finances before preparing to take the dog for a walk. Since it was still dark at 0530, I decided to start to pack up (and my dear wife didn’t want me to go out while it was still dark – she worries too much). About 6 as it was getting light, Konig and I walked towards town to check when the gas station opens. We were jogging back into town when a medium size black bear appears on the road (silly, wife o mine…)! I did as was recommended and waved my arms and yelled at the bear. He just looked at me and, I think, at Konig. Konig seemed to be sizing up the bear and ignoring my yelling at him to come so I could put his leash on. I was trying to catch him and watch the bear, who seemed interested in our activities, at the same time. Finally, I reverted to my mean voice to get the dog to allow me to grab him and put his leash on. The mean voice seemed to do the trick with the bear as well as he turned around and walked back into the woods that he had come from. Konig and I did another interval to get back to the camp site to prep to leave enroute to the Yukon Territory. Got to love AK.

~Dad

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bears in AK

Hi Everyone,


Just to update you all. We have done a lot of driving since our last post. I don't think even I realized how far it is from Southern Canada to Alaska. After we left Banff we drove all day until we got to Hyder, Alaska (about as far south in AK as you can get). ALASKA! I was pretty pumped. I haven't been back since we left when I was one. Then, we pulled into the campsite. First of all it was pouring rain. Now I don't get bothered by cold very easily, but rain and 50 degrees in August even dampened my spirit. Then there's the town itself. If you are trying to find the town of Hyder on a map good luck - Stewart is probably the biggest town in the area if you'd like to see where we are. The town consists of 100 people, a gas station, nine shops, a post office, a restaurant and two bars. To make matters worse because Hyder is part of Alaska (which has its own time zone) but might as well be in Canada, half the town goes by Canadian time and the other half goes by Alaska time! The funniest part about the smallness of the town is that there is no law. That's right, no law. No police, no rules, no nothing. So the wild people in town go 40 down the 20 mph road!


Back to us. The day after we got there my dad woke me up early to go for our two and a half hour walk. I have..I mean get to run/walk the Equinox marathon with my dad in a few weeks. So we start off around 7am and about five minutes in I ask if he brought his iPhone to take pictures. He didn't. So after thinking about it for a minute we turned around to get it, just in case we run into any bears destined to be in Wildlife Weekly or something like that. Now about four miles from the campsite there is a national forest with a little walkway that goes out over this little creek where bears like to come and fish. Now this isn't some sort of zoo these are actual wild bears catching these huge salmon spawning in the stream. So we get there after about an hour and go by a pass to go on the walkway. We go up on the walkway and the guide there tells us, it's a good thing you didn't come ten minutes earlier we would have run into a bunch of bears romping around on the road. "Coincidence, I think not!" (Incredibles anyone?) more like Providence! After not seeing any bears and receiving many warnings about not having bear spray (?) we headed back.


That afternoon we decided to head back to the park with the rest of the family. This time there was a bear! A little female grizzly, according to the guide, who was in the mood for seafood.The funniest part of the day was when Kik turns to me after watching the bear chow down and asks 'do fish go to heaven?' I was surprised our laughter didn't scare the bear away. Eventually we did leave, stopping along the walkway to see the man made Blue Lagoon. These people are so good with names. We left the next morning (our first multiple day stay) and got, once again, into our nine hours of driving a day routine. To make matters worse, I'm starting Pre-Calc.


Well that's it for now, I'm off to scavenge in our depressingly empty pantry,


Z








video

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Editorial Comment

Hello Everyone, we've noticed some issues over the past few weeks and I have looked into a few of those.



First, regarding commenting on our posts. I believe the best way to comment would be to do so under Anonymous. This should work under any circumstances as opposed to Name/URL which I don't think works under select email addresses. If you would like to sign your name at the end of your posts please do so.



Second, we have been out of cell phone service for the last few days. If you have been trying to call or text us during that time, we are sorry for not responding and will try to return your calls once we return to civilization.



Third, some of you have used our names in your comments. I would like to ask you to please refrain from doing so as to keep mom from getting to antsy about our family protection. You may use our "code" names as much as you wish.



Let us know if some of you are still having problems with commenting,

Z

Monday, August 24, 2009

North West Trek

After Gagee’s lake we headed to Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. I won’t bore you with the details, which, trust me, are boring. Southern North Dakota isn’t so bad with the Bad Lands and all, but unfortunately we drove through northern North
Dakota. North Dakota and Montana had only one color in the scenery, brown. Everything was brown.
The highlight of N.D. was, as seen in the picture, The Geographical Center of North America. Which was pretty neat. After that we drove to Montana where we stayed in Shelby, Montana. If you ever think you’ll stay at an R.V. park in Shelby, don’t. It was one of our most expensive and one of our least favorites, scratch that, definitely our least favorite. Most R.V. parks have a little park, a pool or some sort of entertainment; most R.V. parks at least have trees! There was nothing, which we could live without entertainment, but we had to be in the center so the dog didn’t even have a little grass to run around in without barking at the neighbors.
After that little episode we drove up through Canada to stay at Banff National Park. If you ever think you want to go see Banff, do it; it was gorgeous. We were surrounded by mountains and couldn’t stop taking pictures! When we got to the campsite we were warned of bears. Z-man was excited. We decided to take the 3 mile bike to Lake Louise. We were told to make lots of noise to keep the bears away. Some bike trails were closed because of the bears.


Ours wasn’t closed, yet. The bike trail proved to be very exhausting. It was uphill, on a dirt path, through the woods. We finally made it to the beautiful lake (pictured below). It had taken us about 40 min. to get to the top. We took the road on the way down which only took 5 min. and I used my hands more than my feet (for the brakes)
We were a little disappointed about not seeing any bears, but altogether we had a great time.


~Toley

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Random thoughts from mom

Since the kids are all writing about the places we have been, I thought I would write about life in the R.V., or the ARV as the kids call it.

Initially it was way cool, all these cozy little nooks and crannies to put things into and snugly places to sit and play and sleep. But, once you have to live in it, spend all your waking hours in it, and try and find some solace in it, it is pretty tough. Like right now for instance. The kids are playing a game of monopoly with Daddy and Kik is sleeping in the other room, so I am in the bathroom trying to gather my thoughts! HA!

We all have slowly acclimated to the difficulties that these tight quarters offer. We have jobs that we do when we set up shop and when we break down. Most of my jobs have to do with the inside of the RV and thankfully Z-man and Daddy have the outside jobs (which includes the sewer pipes!). Kik's job is to get his shoes and bike helmet on and go for a ride. This is good for the whole family!! :)

The other thing I was thinking about the other day was how in a big kitchen everything is at your finger tips. If you need your pots and pans, spatulas, spices, potholders or whatever, they are right there. In an RV things are not quite like that. All my pots and pans are stacked in the microwave for safe travel. The oven is filled with a cookie sheet, a pizza pie pan, one cookie rack, two 9" round pans and a frying pan. That fills it to the brim! The kids books are in baskets on top of the stove and most of my plug in items (mixer, elec. fry pan) are under the bench seat at the kitchen table. So, when I cook, it takes all my energy just to get everything out. But, I have finally begun to relax about that. It may take a few extra minutes, but so what! All I have is time.

We do spend most of our time looking how to make things easier to accomplish. We race around all day trying to fit everything and we miss what is going on around us. I am totally guilty of this. But with this new life style, I am learning to relax a bit more. To not stress when it takes so much effort just to BEGIN to cook. I am looking at what is going on around me. Watching Kik trying to figure out how something works, determined to figure it out, or watching the girls snuggle with the dog and how much he loves the attention, or watching Z-man and Daddy laughing over some dumb joke that only they get! All of this is important, much more important than making my life quick, easy and convenient.

Not only is taking time to look at my family important, but also taking the time to look at the magnificent world that God created. We have been driving through mountains for a few days and they are so beautiful. Some of them remind me of our days in Germany. When I see those mountains I am reminded that God is good, ALL the time, even when I am focused on the not so important things.

Just some random thoughts from mom. Remember, I have been bumping around in this thing for over a week, so I might not be playing with a full deck! Not that I ever really was anyway! HA!

Till next time..............XO Mom

A brief comment from Dad for the pragmatists out there. While traveling by RV is great – easy eating, sleeping and tending to bodily needs – it has its drawbacks. The beating that the roads give our vehicles is amplified in the house that is our living area. Consequently, things are always falling and frequently breaking. Things that are supposed to be secure become unsecure and vice versa. WD-40 and 100 MPH (duct) tape are used extensively. Had to stop to get an engine light fixed on three separate occasions -- $ 100 a pop! Thank God for the Havre Ford in Havre (yeah, rhymes with Brent, I mean Brett F) who finally diagnosed the problem and charged the fix to the emissions warranty which hadn’t expired the day prior to the problem staring like our regular warranty. Also, I was hoping for 10 MPG, but had become satisfied with over 9. While fighting the 20+ MPH prevailing westerly winds in ND and Montana, we were lucky to get 7 MPG. So, we’re easily spending $100-125/day on gas for our 400 mile driving days. That's it.....Dad

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Good Times in Packerland

After saying goodbye to our friends in MI. We headed up to Ishpeming, where the R.V. was looked at because we had been having a couple of technical difficulties. There we spent the time bowling and eating fried chicken in the laundromat. Finally after about 5 hours the R.V. was done.



From there we headed to WI where Gagee (Dad’s mom) lives. She has a little cottage on the beautiful Dog Lake. We had a fun time swimming in the lake which (surprisingly) was very warm, jumping on her water trampoline, and catching some small catfish looking things by the shore. But the highlight of that stop was probably the new speed/pontoon boat, which can go up to 35 miles per hour, and is quite frightening when you’re sitting in the front seats on the top of the boat. As shown in the video, and was driven by our Unkey Lanny, Dad’s brother. That night we experimented on the S`mores by using chocolate chip cookies instead of graham crackers. It was awesome! After that we played with sparklers by the lake and took some pictures. The great thing about the lake is that you don`t have to worry about any sharks. Like the 4ft. Bull shark that was caught off the Jersey shore while we were visiting Mom`s parents. Yikes! We had a lot of fun times and new experiences.




~Pooh
P.S. The video has been delayed because of technical difficulties.























Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Marquette and the Surrounding Lands



After our brief stint in Canada we made our way back to the U.P. We decided to go up through lower Michigan as opposed to coming in from Sault St. Marie as was our original plan due to time and gas price factors. We crossed at Port Huron Michigan (pictured above) and headed north stopping 30 miles short of the Mackinac Bridge.


The following morning after packing up from our campsite, we continued on the remainder of our trip. We crossed the Bridge (another snapshot for you water-picture-lovers)
and arrived in Marquette that afternoon. We spent the weekend at Tourist Park, which surprisingly got the lowest approval rating, because of the lack of cable and Wi-Fi. While the girls spent the night with their friends the Buhls, I went off for a night of “well mannered frivolity” with the” Young” Mr. Michels. As for the other events of that night, and all that they did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the….? Never mind.


We were fortunate enough to be at church that week end to see Kevin “Re-loaded”. “On a battlefield looking for a sock” was excellent sermon. From the witty Lions cracks, to the actual sock with a hole in it, to the message itself, it was a delight for the whole family. Afterwards we spent a lovely time with the Buhls and Michels along with a delectable meal that was cooked by Mrs. Michels, along with “Old” Mr. Michels’ BBQ sauce. As for me, the latter part of the day consisted of my last Youth Group, Frisbee golf and Drizzles ice cream with the aforementioned Kevin, “Young” Mr. Michels and newcomer Kyle, who eats too many Subway cookies. As for the other events of that night, and all that they did, are they not written…..? Almost as annoying as 1 and 2 Kings isn’t it.


The return of the RV-goers was well worth it, although we were disappointed about not having enough time to spend with select vacationers and the Cherry Creek gang.

Until Next Time,


Yours Truly (I believe my humor speaks for itself)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Niagara Falls

After leaving Grove City, we drove to a campsite close to Toronto. We crossed into Canada at Niagara Falls. It was really neat. We all had a good time. Hopefully you can see the video I took.


So long




video
Hi all,



We have only been on the road for 3 days, but I (mommy) have learned A LOT! First, Kik can talk! WOW! Not that I haven't noticed this before, but when you are in confined quarters he just keeps on going :) I can't possibly list all the things we have talked about, but one of the more intersting conversations was about things your body can and can not live without. Lets just say that Kik was quite surprised that he could NOT live without his brain and heart and that he COULD live without his ears, eyes and hands!



Second thing I have learned is that when it is hot out and you are in a small place with 6 people, well, you get crabby! I have tried very hard not to be crabby, and I know God is trying to teach me something through this trial, but I am a slow learner.



Third, if you go too fast over a speed bump things start falling out all over the place! Our whole medicine cabinet came open. Surprisingly nothing broke.



Fourth, and I guess I need to preface this by saying that our family hasn't eaten at a fast food restaraunt in 8 years -- we avoid them at all cost. But I am beginning to see the pull toward them! Many times the thought of cooking after a 6 hour drive is not very appealing. So far so good.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jersey Shore

After Z and Dad's drive cross country, the team reunited in VA where Dad completed the retirement process. After a couple days with our great friends, the Roberts, we headed north to the Jersey shore for a week on the beach. Now, there are parts of Jersey that deserve the reputation that NJ has, but the beaches are nice. We've been on beaches from Alaska to Florida, North Sea to the Persian Gulf and Jersey shore rivals them all.




Anyway, the beach is fun since both of mom's families come to Jersey for a mini-reunion. The kids love seeing their four cousins and the uncles love to bust Z-mans chops about everything. Z and Dad played golf with the uncles which was a painful affair. We may leave the clubs in NJ after that debacle. The beach was great for a couple of days, but we also had a rain day that was spent making cupcakes.






We are hoping to hit the boardwalk tonight for some real Jersey Shore fun. Lots of crowds, greasy foods and expensive rides. Perfect!