Saturday, June 30, 2007

Painting and Hiking

Well, we've been blessed with some great weather this week. Starting late Tues it cleared up and has been sunny ever since. We've been enjoying temps in the 60s during the day and it's been great. Unfortunately I've been watching a lot of it through the window as I've been painting. So far we've painted out one bedroom and working on the kitchen. Luckily the house is mostly all white throughout and it's been pretty quick going. The paint has made an unbelievable difference.

When we haven't been painting, and heading to work (Becca), we've been able to do some hiking around town. It's amazing what you can see around here. Bald eagles, whales, wildflowers, and many other things. Becca has been taking pictures like they are going out of style. Hopefully, when we get a few mins she can post some of them.

Today we will finish the kitchen and hoping to head out to hike Old Woman after lunch, we'll see how things go. That's all for now, we'll get some more stuff posted later. Hope everyone is doing well.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We're alive... and at HOME!

Hello from Kodiak!!!!! (FINALLY!) I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get to this post, but I was waiting until our internet was up and running.

We arrived in Kodiak on Saturday night, and were welcomed by a big group of neighbors, friends and online friends! Between all of them, we were supplied with enough baked goods to last us a couple weeks, along with dinner Saturday night. It was absolutely WONDERFUL to come to such a far away place and have friendly and helpful faces waving at us from the pier!

Fred HATED the ferry, and we felt terrible for putting him through that! They don't let pets out of the car, so he had to sit in the truck on the noisy cardeck (below decks) for about 12 hours between the loading time and the trip itself. Jason tried to walk him about halfway through the trip, but Fred wanted nothing to do with "going" on a metal deck, so he just wandered and then got back in the truck. By the time we got to Kodiak, poor Fred was shaking like a leaf, and desperate for the nearest bush! The three of us greeted all the people who were there to meet us, and then Fred and I waited on the pier while Jason waited on the cardeck for his turn to drive the truck off. Although I didn't have to sit in the car and wait, I think Jason might have gotten the better end of the deal on that one - at least it was dry and warm in the car!!!!

Yes, that's right, we were welcomed to Kodiak with some typical Alaska weather - drizzly and about 45 degrees! Of course, last week, it was in the upper 70s and sunny - we just missed it! We decided, though, that it was only right to have the REAL Kodiak weather when we first arrived. We finally saw the sun for the first time since Saturday today, so we definitely got our taste of Kodiak right away!!!!!

The house is everything I was hoping it would be - Jason definitely did well in picking this one out! We picked up our first room's worth of paint today (a lovely sage green for one of the spare rooms), and will probably get the rest of the colors picked out by the end of the weekend. The entire house, with the exception of one room, is still stark white, so we have a blank canvas to start with - a very exciting prospect!!!! I've changed out the lighting fixture in the eat-in side of the kitchen, the knobs on the closet doors, and picked out hardware for the kitchen cabinets already, too! I can't wait to get our stuff so that I can start REALLY figuring out how this house is going to work. While our living room is fantastically big, it's also a hard room to figure out for furniture (it's 17' by 33'!)... it might be the biggest challenge, but it's going to be great for Kodiak entertaining! My other favorite room in the house is definitely the kitchen - I don't know if I'll ever figure out how to fill all the cabinets! For those who saw our kitchen in Duxbury - it's EASILY 4 times as big as that! I LOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE it!!!!!!!!!!

So tomorrow afternoon, I think, I head back to work (it'll definitely be Thursday), but Jason will be free until Monday (well, free from the air station, just not from his list...). I have relief stuff to do to get ready for the new job, and my official Change of Command will be on Tuesday next week. I still can't believe I'm really going to be in charge of a fisheries training center - my absolute dream job for about the last 10 years or so! I'll be sure to post pictures from the ceremony.

Until then, I think we'll be pretty busy around the house. We have a yard to tame (the back yard is scary!!!), paint to buy and apply, and HOPEFULLY, household goods to unpack! We were hoping those would've gotten in on the barge yesterday, but it looks like they didn't make it, so now we're crossing our fingers for arrival tomorrow with delivery on Friday... we'll see!!!

Thanks for following our trip, and be sure to check back regularly for updates! Love you all!
Becca and Jason

Friday, June 22, 2007

Today was a day of glaciers....

Hello from Homer!

Well, as the title suggests, today was a day for seeing glaciers as we drove from Anchorage down to Homer. Unfortunately, it was a little hazy due to both warm temperatures and the smoke from two different wildfires that are currently burning in the area up here. But, even with the haze, we were treated to some of the famous Alaska landscape as we drove down!

Our first stop this morning was at the Portage Glacier visitors center, not too far outside Anchorage. From there, we following the Sterling Highway all the way to Homer, with only two other stops along the way. One was at a place known for its chainsaw woodcarvings, including a carousel that has all Alaska wildlife as the "horses" and a restaurant called Sal's, based on the recommendation of another Coastie Wife. The woodcarvings were VERY cool - parents, you'll be happy to hear that I picked out a cute rocking moose to be purchased on the way back from Alaska in three years, if all goes well - though I'm going to skip those pictures tonight in lieu of glacier pictures. Sal's was YUMMY - definitely worth the wait for our late lunch, Denise! Thanks! Jason had the Alaska burger, a GIANT burger on an even bigger sourdough bun, while I decided on the reindeer sausage sandwich. Rudolph was DELISH!!!!!!!!

We're now getting ready to head to bed after poking around Homer a bit this afternoon and enjoying a fantastic gourmet dinner tonight - the last of that kind of dining we'll be doing for a while. Homer is a very cute little town, too... Jason and I have already made plans for maybe a long weekend or something, hopping the ferry over from Kodiak if we can. We would've loved to have a little more time here, but we were also glad we made the extra stop at the glacier this morning... it was well worth it!
So, we have to be at the ferry tomorrow morning by 8am, which will be a very early morning for us! But it'll be worth the early morning when I get to finally see our new house tomorrow night! I've had butterflies all day, just getting excited about finally seeing it in person!!!

Without further ado, though, I'll get the pictures up here from the glaciers. Enjoy!

This first one is from a stop on the way out to Portage. That's a glacier moving its way down the mountain! I may have opened the exposure just a little too long on this, so it's a little washed out, but you'll get the idea.

Next, we have an iceberg... yes, an actual iceberg which theoretically calved from the Portage Glacier. It was right in front of the visitor's center, which we didn't go in, so I'm not sure if it was brought there for people to look at, or if it really just ended up there!

Here's Jason and Fred in front of the iceberg. Fred just wanted to go swimming... in the nearly-freezing water.

And these are some smaller chunks of ice with the glacier in the background. It was freezing cold out there, but worth the frozen toes (I was wearing flip-flops!) to see the sights!

So that's it from Homer (it's midnight now, and I have to be up in 6 hours.... oh, and it's still light out!!!)! We'll try our best to post from Kodiak tomorrow, but we're not scheduled to get our internet connected until sometime on Monday, so I can't make any promises. We won't get there until long after all our East Coast friends' bedtimes, though, so it won't be too big a deal to wait a while.

We hope everyone has enjoyed following our cross-country trek. We made it through the driving part without killing each other - we even still like each other! - and now we get to go enjoy our new house together! Stay tuned for regular updates, though they probably won't be as frequent as they've been.

We love and miss you all!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

No Puppy, and only one more day of Frost Heaves!!

Well we made it through yet another day of rough going on the road. Thank god we have only one more day of driving, I think the three of us are done. We should have known when the owner of the cabin we stayed in last night said that the roads are great on the way to Anchorage. He was full of (fill in your own word)! Yes there were areas that were freshly paved, but the areas that weren't were a nightmare. It was only supposed to take us 6 hours today according to the map software. Yeah, we left at 930 and got here at 530, and almost lost our lunch from the bouncing and bobbing. I don't think that the trailer should be doing bunny hops off the heaves. I'm pretty sure that it's not good for the trailer or the truck to do that. Hopefully tomm will be better.

Anyways, we ended up having a great stay at Burnt Paws. The cabin was great and we'd definitely stay there again. We did end up leaving without a new addition. Becca was ready to get one of the husky pups, but after looking them up on the Internet, we found that they are very high energy. (Not what we would want to deal with right now). Here is a picture of our accommodations for the night. After leaving this morning we ended up making our way to Anchorage and were able to see some amazing sights along the way. The glacial fields to the north east are amazing. Pictures can't even do them justice. So, in between bouncing off the roof of the truck I snuck peaks at the view.

Once in Anchorage tonight we got our last taste of the big city life for a while. We ended up eating at the Fancy Moose, located at the Millennium Hotel (location of the Iditorod Offices, and next to the largest sea plane base in the world). It was pretty cool to sit outside and watch the sea planes land and takeoff. After that we ended up making our way to Lowes and Home Depot. Picked up our blackout shades for the bedrooms, and some lattice for friends on Island. From now on out, it will be mail order for us. If we can't get it at Walmart, we probably don't need it (yeah right).
Tomorrow we are heading out on the last leg. We'll be traveling to Homer for our last day of driving. We hope to end the short drive early and get to enjoy the sights in Homer. Then onto the ferry Sat morning. Well that's all for tonight. Hope all is well with everyone, we'll post again tomm from Homer.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We're in ALASKA!

We're heeere!!!! Ok, well, not really, but we're at least in the right state now! We crossed the border back into the good ol' U.S. of A this afternoon, a little later than we'd hope due to the worst conditions we've seen yet on the Alaska Hwy. WOW... frost heaves make the highway into a roller coaster! It was very slow going for most of the trip today - I looked over at the spedometer a couple times and saw us averaging only about 35mph instead of 60-65. Very slooooowwww. And, the truck is probably a little worse for the wear... Jason's out right now getting it washed, but here's what it looked like when we stopped to take pictures at the "Welcome to Alaska" sign!

And here's us at the sign:
We were pretty happy to find ourselves back in the states - even if it is Alaska. Canada is super, wicked expensive (I will NOT lose my New England vernacular!), and we were just happy to see gas for ONLY $3.07/gallon instead of $1.20-ish/liter (which comes out to roughly $4.55/gallon). The exchange rate was NOT great, so we were paying close to the same amount in Canadian as US dollars. UGH! I'm afraid of figuring out how much actually has been getting charged on our credit card because we just haven't paid any attention!

So, anyway, in addition to the truck being a disaster and finally getting ourselves back into our own country (not that Canada was bad!), we had some more amazing views to take in while we drove today. We were in the car for about 9 hours, I think, so it was nice to have some fun things to look at. Pretty early on in the trip this morning, we came across these two on the side of the road.... (hopefully you can see it well enough!)

I was going to post another picture of the view we looked at for a long stretch on the road today, but it doesn't want to load, so I'll leave the pictures at that.

We're now in Tok, AK, staying at the neatest little place called Burnt Paw. They raise husky puppies (it's going to be very difficult for me to NOT take one with us!!!), and have a few cabins for people to stay in. We're in the Iditarod Cabin this evening... check 'em out at We'll definitely add this to the list of places to stay again on the way back in 3 years!!

Tomorrow we head to Anchorage, and our last chance to eat at any chain restaurants and shop at any major stores (besides WalMart!). From there, it's on to Homer and the ferry!

That's it for tonight! Jason says HI!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the Yukon

Hello everyone! Sorry about the lapse in blog last night, but once I tell you why, I'm sure you'll all understand!
We left Ft. Nelson, British Columbia yesterday morning, enroute Watson Lake, Yukon for the night. Armed with a hotel reservation at the only place in "town" that would allow a dog in the room, we thought we were all set for the night. I even passed on the name of the place to another couple leaving the same hotel in Ft. Nelson since they didn't have reservations yet, and had a lab with them as well.
I couldn't have been more wrong about being set for the night. UGH!!!! Watson Lake could rival some of the places we saw in Western Nebraska in terms of "limited" accomodations and options for dining! The "town" is incredibly small, and, um, well, not that nice. To make it worse, we try to check into our motel (yes, that's right, motel, not hotel...the "hotel snob" that I am noticed that right away!), where the man behind the desk informs us that they don't have our reservation because the hotel changed ownership on June 1st and we had the forethought to book way back in March! He had a room, though, so we figured we'd be ok. And, since "they" had made a mistake (he used the more colorful f-word rather than mistake), they wouldn't charge us the pet fee. GREAT!
Until we saw the room.... let's just say it wasn't what was advertised, what we were supposed to pay $99/night for, or what any decent human being would sleep in. Ok, maybe it wasn't that bad, but it was pretty nasty. It had obviously been a 2-bed room at one point in time, but they were "remodeling" (did I mention the lack of carpet in the hallway, with dirty plywood in its place), so the 2-queen room was a 1-double room, complete with broken night stand and 30 (I think I'm being generous there) year old bathroom fixtures. The grime of decades turned my stomach, and we promptly walked out to go make some phone calls.
Long story short (I'm sure Mom could share the details of my melt down!), we returned the key, got our money back, and headed down the road to a camp site where they had beautiful 4-star cabins! But, where we pitched our tent because the only cabin left was the one they keep hypo-allergenic, thus, no dogs! We set the tent up in record time due to the mosquitos (the provincial "bird" of Yukon) and the impending rain and headed over to their restaurant for a quick meal.
After dinner, we discovered that our aerobed pump was no longer charged enough to blow up the bed... which, it turned out, didn't matter because the bed was no longer whole enough to keep air in it. Two puncture holes meant that we got to sleep on the ground on top of our deflated aerobed with enough blankets to smother lesser people as we tried to keep out the VERY chilly temperatures - remember, we were camping in the YUKON! With sunset at midnight, the sun never really going down, and sunrise around 5 (but I woke up at 3 and it was bright enough for me to read my watch), along with the slowly deflating aerobed, there wasn't much sleep to be had last night! Trying once again not to get eaten alive by the mosquitos, we broke camp this morning, fairly early, and headed up the road to Whitehorse... the capital of the Yukon.
We're now very happily tucked into a king suite at the Best Western, which more than makes up for last nights' debacle! We enjoyed a nice walk along the Yukon River this afternoon with a very happy Fred and are now getting ready to head out for some dinner and a look around town.

Tomorrow we head back into the US, staying at a sled-dog puppy breeding farm (in a cabin to ourselves!) in Tok. So we've seen the good parts of Yukon - more scenery and Whitehorse; the bad - the mosquito-ey camp site; and the UGLY - WATSON LAKE! We survived, and we're looking forward to getting into Alaska tomorrow!

That's it for tonight... no pictures because we haven't made any stops, really. Plus yesterday's post is loading very slowly so we'll give blogger a break.
Love you all!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Careful what you wish for.....

So, Jason thought he was being funny last night with that mutiny stuff... now I'm in Ft. Nelson, British Columbia, and I couldn't really tell you where he is....

OF COURSE I'M KIDDING!!!! Though, after 12 hours of driving, give or take an hour or so, I'm surprised HE didn't mutiny and tell me I had to take my turn! I have yet to drive the truck, though I'm not going to complain. I thought I would be bored out of my mind, but sleeping takes up some time, and Harry Potter on CD is pretty entertaining, too. It's a good thing we've got that, because there was pretty much nothing to look at today... at all!

We are now in the Pacific Time Zone, though we didn't realize that until about 8 tonight, when we thought it was 9. Thank goodness for cell phones that automatically pick up the change, or we wouldn't have ever caught it! (Oops, got that wrong on the phone tonight, Dad!) We only have one more time zone to go!

The big highlight of the day today was getting to Dawson's Creek (NOT the TV show), BC, and the start of the Alaska Highway. I thought it was so cheesey that Jason wanted to stop and take a picture at the sign.... imagine my surprise when we had to wait our turn! Everyone seems to stop there to mark the milestone - whether they're going or coming. The tripod came in handy again, and I was able to get a shot of all three of us under the sign!

According to Jason, who read the little plaque near the sign while "walking" Fred, the Alaska Highway was built during WWII in about eight months. We drove the first 200-ish miles of it today, and will hit a bunch more of it over the next 5 days. I'm not sure where we break away from it, but I think it's when we head toward Anchorage from Tok. That will be on, um, uh, Thursday, maybe? Ack... I can't remember anymore!!!! All the days are starting to run together!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That was it for pictures from today, so I'll move onto the ones from yesterday. As Jason mentioned, we drove through Banff and Jasper National Parks yesterday, which are both in the Canadian Rockies. All day we just had amazing (I think I've used that word a LOT on this blog!) mountain views, glacial lakes and wildlife! We made sure we took plenty of pictures from Lake Louise to send to Papa since he said he always wanted to see it. I don't know if pictures can do any of the views justice, but I'll try.
I tried to get Fred to look at me... you can't really see it very clearly, but that's a canoe off his right ear. He was MUCH more interested in the canoe than my camera. This is at Lake Louise.

This is another view of Lake Louise. The sun was in and out all day and there was a ton of fog (ok, maybe they were clouds) in the mountains, so it was tough to get a really good picture.

The next couple pictures are from just a random place we pulled off the side of the road. It was pretty cool to see the sun shining through on one mountain face, with clouds and fog hiding parts of the mountain tops! And, yes, that's snow. We saw a LOT of that yesterday... some of it right along the side of the road where we were driving.

Look toward the bottom of this second picture... check out the color of the stream! Seriously... all day, we just had incredible views like this to look at. I highly recommend a drive through Banff (a neat little town, by the way), and Jasper National Parks if you ever find yourself in Alberta. The area may have replaced Montana already as my new favorite place!!!!

And, of course, there was a ton of wildlife to look at, too. Luckily, most of the animals attracted a large crowd, so we had time to stop the truck before just zooming past the good stuff.

Here are a couple of big horn sheep hanging out on the side of a hill. I got another one of a HUGE sheep right next to the side of the road. But, I had to try to get a shot of him through the bushes he was grazing on, so he's a little hard to pick out if the picture isn't big enough. His horns were about as big as the one on here, though!

And, here is the money shot.. a BEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I thought the SPAM Musuem made the trip, but I think maybe the bear sighting was better. We were maybe 150 yards away from this guy, who didn't seem all too concerned about the crowd watching him eat some greens. After a few minutes (of us being there... I don't know how long he was really there), he just turned and waddled back in to the woods. It was just too cool to see a REAL bear, in the wild!

And, finally, here's a shot of our Kozy Kabin at the KOA. If it had been a little nicer out, we may have enjoyed the porch swing and stuff a little bit more, but it was pouring when we got there last night, so we were just happy to not have to set up the tent in the rain! But, if anyone is ever up in that area, we can highly recommend the KOA in Hinton, Alberta!

That should do it for tonight. I have to say that I'm having a tough time picking out just the right pictures, and I'm pretty sure we're going to get kicked off blogger at some point for posting too many of them, but I just have to share!
Tomorrow we head to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, a quick 6 hour drive from here. (It's all perspective... today was 12 hours!) From there we go to Whitehorse, our last stop in Canada!
We're still loving all the comments and emails! Keep 'em coming!
Love you all,

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Amazing Day!! Crappy Internet, More tomm

Just so everyone knows we are in Hinton, just outside of Jasper National Park. We had an amazing day going through Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. What a great drive. We saw a bear, big horn sheep, deer, and elk. We ended up getting some very cool pics of the animals and scenery. Unfortunately we have horrible Internet at the campground. We're staying in a Kabin, at a KOA. It's not bad, especially since it's been raining, no wet tent.

Anyways, we are doing good, very ready to just get there. Tomm is a long day in the car, all the way to Fort Nelson, BC. About 570 miles, but we get our start on the ALCAN. It should be a good day if Becca and Fred don't have a mutiny and take over the truck. =) I think they are both about done. But less then a week.

Well hope everyone is well, we'll post again tomm with pics.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Glacier National Park.... was a bust!

Greetings from Canada!
As if the disappointment of the Victorian Brothel Museum wasn't enough yesterday, we were crushed again today when only 16 miles of the 50 mile Road to the Sun Highway through Glacier National Park was open today! We were so disappointed, and almost turned around without going in at all, but we decided it was worth the extra time it would take, and headed in anyway. We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the grass at the MacDonald Lake Lodge, a hotel built in 1914 on one of the glacial lakes. We were also treated to some pretty amazing views, though not as good as they could've been from what Jim and Maryanne told us!

We ended up having a pretty significant detour around the park after we turned around and headed back out, making our trip a good hour or so longer than it should've been. To make matters worse, the road was TERRIBLE, and scared the poo out of me. Jason didn't say much as we were going, other than he was glad that the whole 90 miles wasn't as winding as about 20 of it, but he breathed a sigh of relief while we were at dinner. I don't think Route 49 around Glacier was ever made for a truck towing a trailer!!!!
Fred is now revolting, greeting us with the loudest barking we've ever heard from him as we got off the hotel elevator when we came back from dinner (we were gone for less than an hour!!!!!! and the room is NOT close to the elevator!!), and now he's pouting in his kennel. I guess two long days in a row is more than he wants to deal with. Tomorrow isn't too long a day, but after that, we have some significant chunks of mileage to cover, and not a whole lot of exciting stuff to look at while we're going... could be interesting for all involved!

Since we didn't get too far into Glacier, I have limited pictures tonight, only four this time. Hope you enjoy!

This is the view from the docks at the Lodge. They have tour boats, but you can also rent a boat and go cruising on the lake yourself.

Here's some of the local wildlife! We saw more than just butterflies, but they stay in one place long enough to get a picture of them!

Here's Jason showing off his rock-skipping prowess. Notice the high level of concentration as demonstrated by the pursing of the lips!

And, finally, a view so good I made Jason get out of the truck... he was just waiting for me to take pictures, but this one was too good to miss. I wish the camera did justice to the amazing torquoise color of the water - stunning!

Tomorrow we head to the Jasper/Hinton area, only about 300 miles away, but through the Lake Louise/Banff area, so the views should be good. Jasper is supposed to be a cool town, so we're planning to get there earlier enough to enjoy it. Tomorrow night will be spent in a KOA Kabin in Hinton, where internet access can't be guaranteed right now. Hopefully we'll get the chance to give you all a view of Banff!

We're on the down-hill slide now - just a week from tomorrow we'll be on the ferry from Homer and I'll finally get to see that house I spent so much money on!!! As Jason pointed out when we crossed the border into Canada today, that was the last time we'll see the lower 48 for a while (some of us sooner than others though.... maybe as early as August for me!)! That was a strange thing to think about, but exciting too! That's it for tonight! Hopefully more tomorrow from Jasper!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ok, here's the new stuff... the rest of the story

Now that I've caught everyone up with the old pictures, I'll start from scratch with our trip through Wyoming and into Montana.

We left Scottsbluff yesterday morning, planning a pretty long day of driving to get us up to Yellowstone, through Grand Teton. I don't think we expected it to take as long as it did, though, thanks to a couple of road construction delays. We got to wait for about 15 minutes on three different occasions... they have torn up the pavement on some of the road leading into Teton, so we got to wait for an escort through the constructoin zone. Good times! - Made better by a grumpy flag-woman who we just tried to get some information from. I guess she didn't know much about what they were doing along the entire road, so she got a little upset when Jason tried to ask her what was going on. Lesson learned: just listen to your book on CD and be patient!

We finally got to Grand Teton National Park, though, and drove through that to get to Yellowstone. The views were absolutely breathtaking, and almost worth the $25 you have to pay to drive through the parks. Here's a good shot from a pull-out in Teton:

The south entrance to Yellowstone just follows the road from Teton, so we drove through that way and up toward Old Faithful. As luck would have it, we finally pulled into the parking lot at the Old Faithful visitor center about 10 or 15 minutes after it had gone off. We were hurrying toward the viewing area, only to meet up with a bunch of people coming back toward us - a sure sign that the show was over! Old Faithful "erupts" (is that the right word??) about every 90 minutes, but we really didn't want to stick around that long since we still had another 40 miles to go to get to our hotel for the night. So we had to settle for post-steam pictures of Old Faithful:

As we drove through the rest of the park, though, we were treated with some glimpses of elk, deer, and.... BISON! When I was little, and living in Nebraska, we would see buffalo all the time when we drove out to my grandfather's house in Kimball, so it wasn't that big a deal to me to see some wild buffalo. Jason, however, has never seen them, and was very excited to get the opportunity to watch two different herds toward the west entrance to Yellowstone. Again, my 300mm zoon lens came in handy!

We got to our hotel in West Yellowstone SUPER late last night, but got to sleep in a bit this morning. Thanks to a phone call from Mom, I didn't get around the posting this morning, though... so you can all blame Mary for your late entertainment tonight! Today we planned to just drive up to Missoula - setting ourselves up for a drive through Glacier National Park tomorrow. Our big highlight was supposed to be the Dumas Historic Victorian Brothel Museum in Butte, MT, a travel tip courtesy of Jim and Maryanne Reidy.... but we were sorely disappointed to find that the "museum" has closed its doors since their trip out this way a couple years ago. Heartbroken, we stopped by a Wendy's in Butte for a snack, where I got to see Jason almost implode due to some local characters - I guess I'm not the only one who's being affected by the travel!!! We then finished up our drive to Missoula, where we headed out for a walk with Fred to appease him after all the time we've been making him spend in the car. He's surviving though, as you can see in this picture from a quick road-side stop for a scenery picture. He sticks his head out the window every chance he gets!

Here's the view I got while he was patiently waiting in the car!

This was just something to look at on the highway through Montana... what a great state!!!!

Tomorrow morning - early, and with the disappointment of the closed brothel museum behind us - we head out for Glacier National Park and the Canadian border. Hopefully our border crossing with be uneventful... we're armed with passports, orders, a health certificate for Fred, and nothing illegal. Jason said he'll probably declare his last case of homebrew which is buried somewhere in the trailer, but I'm worried the border guards will need to "confiscate" that! Just kidding, of course, I'm sure it'll all be fine!!! Next post - South Calgary, Alberta, Canada!!!

First things first... pictures!

We made it to Missoula, MT, tonight... a cute little town, perfect for the Jay McGrath types in the family - VERY crunchy!

Before I tell you about the last couple of days, though, we'll start off with pictures from Rushmore and Scottsbluff - the ones Jason was going to post two days ago! I'll post these and then start from scratch with a new post about Yellowstone and today's drive. Enjoy the view!
Here's me with some Presidents... I wouldn't have put this one up here on my own, but Jason wanted to. Apparently he stands crooked, thus the crooked picture!

And here are the Presidents without me. I think they look much better this way!!

This is a view from the Wildcat Hills outside of Scottsbluff, NE. We managed to miss the rain that day, and saw some amazing views!

This is a view from the Scottsbluff National Monument. It's absolutely gorgeous up there - especially when you drive up the monument instead of hiking!

And finally, here's Jason in front of an old covered wagon. The Oregon Trail runs right through Scottsbluff, with ruts still visible. When the settlers were moving west, they had to follow particular routes through the area, causing deep ruts in the sandstone. Normally, they would be spread out for miles, but the terrain in this area (the bluffs and the North Platte River) forced them to follow almost the same route through the bluffs, leaving behind a track dug by thousands of footprints and horsehooves... it's pretty neat to see!
I'm going to go ahead and post this and then start a new one for Wyoming and Montana! Hope you like the pictures! More to come....

A long day in the car... with no pay-off!

Today I'm posting from West Yellowstone, Montana. We drove from Scottsbluff yesterday, through Wyoming, including Grand Teton National Park and a corner of Yellowstone.

And, I just realized that we have to check out of the hotel in 20 minutes, so this is going to have to wait again until tonight! My apologies and I hope the pictures from the last couple of days will make up for it!!!!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Where there's a will, there's a way... Pirated Wi-fi!

Well, we are still alive. For those of you looking for a post today we are sorry we didn't get anything up last night. We are here in Gering, Nebraska at the Russel's (Becca's grandparents) and having a great time seeing the mid-west (me) and having a homecoming (Becca). For those of you that don't know Becca was born here and has half of her Mom's family still living here. It's been great to finally meet the rest of the family and seeing everyone again. (Becca hasn't been here for 14 years.) We would have posted last night but her grandparent's computer isn't working. We discovered that one of their neighbors has wifi today and here we are posting pirate style.

To catch everyone up: We left Custer yesterday morning after surviving our night of camping. Couldn't complain about the camping except that it got down into the 40's in the middle of the night and it was freezing. Thank God we had the extra comforter, and a Fred blanket.

After packing up we made our way up to Mount Rushmore. Wow, what a sight! Can you imagine taking the time to carve a head out of a mountain? I was only disappointed that the presidents weren't bigger. Everything you learn/see in school makes you think that it's the side of a huge mountain. I guess I was thinking it was much bigger than it actually was. Thank goodness that there is not a lot to see there as it was almost 100 degrees and we had to leave Fred in the car. We ended up doing Rushmore in a little over a half hour.

We were going to try and swing by the wind caves after Rushmore, but on the way down the mountain we encountered an accident and had to turn around and go down the mountain the other way. So, from there we eneded up going south to Gering. I don't recommed tyring to play auto bingo in the car while traveling through the heart of the midwest. Just ask Becca how hard it is to find a road sign with a S-turn on it for bingo. Hee Hee. Needless to say it took us over 45 mins just to play one game.

After a short day of driving we ended up in Gering, at Grandma and Papa's, around 3:30, and then got to see the rest of the family after dinner. I have to say that Scottsbluff and Gering are very nice and much bigger than Becca led me to believe. It's much bigger and has much more stuff than I expected - I think that it's much bigger that both Oswego and Scotia combined. Needless to say, you can see the bluffs to the west from just about anywhere in town. It's very cool.

Today we got the first class tour seeing both the Scottsbluff Natinonal Monument, home of a major pass for the Oregon Trail, and Wildcat hills. Both were beautiful, even in the rain. Where else can you actually see the remnants of pioneers moving west? The wagon ruts are still in the sandstone.

Tonight we ended up have a great mexican dinner with all the Russel family, and are getting ready for our big day tommorow. Tommorow we leave here and cross through Wyoming. Yes Zach, we will see a good portion of your home state. The end of our day will see us going through the Grand Teton's and Yellowstone park.

Well that's all from me tonight, hopefully Papa's neighbor doesn't realize his bandwidth is slightly lower. We'll post again tomm from West Yellowstone.


Hi everyone - it's Becca. I'm sure you didn't think I could go a night without posting myself! We have to apologize for the lack of pictures.... because we're using someone else's wi-fi, we keep losing the connection, and it's too much to try to upload pictures. When we get to the hotel tomorrow night, we'll give you a couple shots of Rushmore, Scottsbluff National Monument, and the Wildcat Hills.
Until then, and in case the Russel clan gets a chance to log in... it was great to get to see everyone! It was too bad Gene had to be away this week and Dionna couldn't make it to dinner, but it was great to see everyone else. Hopefully you'll all make your way up to Kodiak sometime in the next three years - there's a spare room and even a car to use waiting for you!!!
Since I have no pictures to post, I guess I'll keep this shorter than I thought! Pictures to come tomorrow!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Camping, 21st Century Style!

That's right, folks... I'm posting on a blog while on a wireless laptop computer, sitting around a campfire... after eating s'mores. It doesn't get any better than this!! If I had known camping could be like this, I might've tried it sooner! Here's our set up, and, yes, that's a tent for just two people. We like to go big!

We are here at the fabulous Flintstones Bedrock City Campground and Theme Park (minus the Theme Park - I don't think we'll have time for that!) in Custer, South Dakota. Custer seems to have a population of about 100 (I might be exaggerating), but the campsite has wi-fi! We spent today doing a couple of the famous South Dakota things to do - a visit to Wall Drug and a driving tour of the Badlands. My impression of Wall Drug is that it's probably the biggest tourist trap ever invented. My impression of the Badlands is that it's something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. Jason agrees on both counts.

Tonight, I think, needs to be all about the pictures. First up is Wall Drug. Dad, it's so much more than "just a drug store with a lot of billboards." It started out as a drug store back in 1931, and then, built on the offer of free ice water, has grown into a tourist's dream! The place is 76,000 square feet, has a bunch of different shops, including the "apothecary" which is the only drug store kind of part of it, a cafe with homemade donuts and coffee for 5 cents (it's an honor system if you get a refill - Jason and I had 2 cups of coffee and a donut each for $2.13), and the "backyard" with the free ice water and a bunch of cheesey picture opportunities. Here's two examples:

Yes, that's Jason on the Jackalope in the "Backyard." The funny thing was that, as we were finishing with our pictures, another grown woman came up to take her turn, too. As she said, even if it's supposed to be for the kids, it's just so hard to resist!

For good measure, I won't leave myself out!

I even let Jason use my good camera to take this one... I think it would've been cool if we'd gotten the same angle, but I'm just glad I'm small enough in this one so no one can see that traveling and Weight Watchers do not go together!!!!

The last one from Wall is just an exterior shot of the front of the building - just read the sign, Dad... tons more than "just a drug store!" They even have a traveler's chapel!

From Wall, we headed back to the East about 30 miles to take SD-240, the scenic byway through the Badlands. They have a ton of overlooks and pull-offs so that you can take in the breathtaking scenery and views. Apparently I spent more time outside the truck than in it, judging by the sunburn on my arms and the back of my neck. It never occurred to me that I'd get burned!!!! So here are just a sample of the pictures from the Badlands... and, really, everyone should see them in person. Amazing.

Self-timer portrait with tripod! YAY!

From a neat section with layers of red and yellow rock.

Some of the local wildlife - gotta love the 300mm zoom lens!

A panoramic view from the end of our drive - the western end of the byway.

And, finally, my favorite picture of the day. I'm kind of proud of this one!

So that's it from Custer. Tomorrow we'll go to Mt. Rushmore first thing in the morning, and then maybe hit the Wind Caves if we have time. Then we have about 180 miles to Gering and a nice two-ish day stop there!
Hope everyone enjoys the pictures!
Love you all,
Becca (and Jason)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Our vacation is complete!!!!!!

We had a loooooong day of driving today, with 680 miles to cover in just one day of driving. Like I said last night, we're not sure what we were thinking when we planned this leg, so we were definitely both dreading it. But then, the greatest thing happened....

I made the discovery of a lifetime last night as I was perusing our TripTik to find good gas prices and possible places to stop today during our marathon drive - I found the SPAM Museum!!! In the little town of Austin, Minnesota is a Hormel plant and the official SPAM Museum. We probably would've seen signs for it since it's right off I-90, but it was great to be able to look forward to the stop today, which came about 3 hours into our drive. The AAA website said to give it about an hour to cover it, which we thought would probably be too long, but about an hour and $60 in the gift shop later, we pulled out, smarter about SPAM than we ever thought we would be!

As if the excitement of the SPAM Museum wasn't enough, our travels also brought us through Mitchell, South Dakota, home of both a huge Cabela's store AND the World's Only Corn Palace! Jason was excited to be in an actual Cabela's store, rather than just browsing through their catalogue, but we held ourselves back in the shopping and stuck to just a few necessities and super sale items. The Corn Palace was so funny and touristy - HILARIOUS! I've seen stuff about it on Food Network before - basically they cover the entire building in a mural made of corn and other local plants - but it was too funny to be there in real life! There wasn't much to it, but we picked up a cheesey magnet and shotglass to add to the collection, along with some popcorn, of course! Here's the outside of the Corn Palace:

This is a shot of the inside of the auditorium/sports arena/convention hall/summertime gift shop area. In the off-season, they use it for pretty much everything that happens in Mitchell - basketball, proms, the Shriner Circus - and then they set it up for the tourists in the summer.

This shot is one of the murals up on the wall in the picture above. Yes, that's Mt. Rushmore in CORN!!!
We're now in Wall, SD - we got here about 15 hours after we left Wisconsin this morning - and it's about time for bed. We'll hit Wall Drug in the morning while we can still leave Fred in the hotel room. After we check out, we're planning to take the scenic byway through the Badlands since temperatures are forecast to be in the high 80s, so we can't leave Fred in the car while we hike. I think we'll have plenty of places to stop and take in the view and get some pictures. From here we head only 75-ish miles down the road to Custer where we'll camp at Flintstone's Bedrock City and finally get to those s'mores! We'll hit Rushmore Monday morning and then drive down to Gering to see all the Russel clan. We definitely won't have internet tomorrow night (no electricity!), so I'll try to figure out a way to get pics of both the Badlands and Rushmore up once we get to Gering.

Looking forward to our Mexican dinner in Nebraska!!!!

Friday, June 8, 2007

The View from the Dells!

First, my apologies to all you East Coasters who are looking for updates earlier in the day - but it's only 11pm here, so you're stuck waiting til tomorrow. Just think - it's only going to get worse the further we go west!

So today was a beautiful day in the Wisconsin Dells. Originally, Jason and I thought we'd go to one of the bazillion indoor water park/theme park places while we were here, but we changed our minds after our full day at Cedar Point, and decided to sight-see instead. We couldn't be happier with that decision! After dropping Fred off at doggie daycare, we headed out on a 2-hour boat ride/walking tour of the Upper Dells. WOW!!!!!!!!! It was really beautiful, and I think this must be the best time of year for it, with all the trees fully green, a little bit of a chill still in the air, and not a lot of boat traffic on the river. The tour took us through some amazing rock formations and tiny waterways that would make the best Coast Guard shipdriver cringe! The scenery was beautiful, and we just enjoyed our time on the water (even if Jason got stuck sitting next to a chatty grandpa who seemed to be tired of his own crew!!!). Part of the tour is the dog jump across two rock formations - an interesting quirk of the area based on an historical event that proved that an instant shutter worked on a camera. Here's some history:
And, here are a few pictures to share with you from the Dells.

This one just gives you an idea of the greenery and a little bit of the rock formation. It was taken during a walking portion at a place called "Witches Gulch." I got all kinds of great shots in there - and annoyed everyone on the path by stopping every two seconds and fiddling with my camera. One of these days I have GOT to learn how to use that thing!!!!

The next shot is from Stand Rock - the famous dog jump. Again, a little slow on the uptake, I didn't think to put the camera in continuous mode so I would actually get the dog in mid-air. But I got him taking off from the rock at least. I was surprised he didn't take a running start at all - he just walked up to the edge and jumped!

In the interest of saving time (we have limited wi-fi connectivity because they put the dog people at the very end of the hotel), I'm going to skip any other Dells pictures and move onto our after-dinner drinks. Of course, we found the local brew-pub (actually, brew-pizza place), and popped in for a sampler after dinner and before we had to go pick up Fred. So here's a picture of the two of us and our "Ten-Pointer" sampler... and, yes, Jim, the beer was all really good!!! Not only was the beer good, but Jason highly approved of the bathroom - apparently there were windows above the urinals, so Jason enjoyed playing the license plate game while he was in there! (This is what he gets for posting that picture of me sticking my tongue out!) The place was called Moosejaw Pizza and Brewery, and they had 10 different beers on tap (thus, the 10-pointer). Jason has no shame (reference the urinal story), and asked the bartender to snap a picture. I hate being so touristy, but I have to admit it's nice to have some pictures that actually have BOTH of us in them!!
In other Dells excitement, we had hibachi dinner and bought some genuine Wisconsin cheese that was a nice snack tonight back in the room. Of course, the room stinks now (it's a buffalo - as in wings - jack, so the room smells like chicken wings), but it was worth it. Wisconsin isn't known for its cheese for no reason!

Tomorrow is going to be a long day for us - we'll be driving from here all the way to Wall, SD. I'm not sure what we were thinking when we planned that one, but we're stuck with it now! We're guessing we have at least 12 hours in the car tomorrow, so if anyone's bored, we'll be on the cells (if they work out there!!!).

We love reading everyone's comments, so please keep 'em coming!
Vicki - Fred misses you, too!
Mrs. Winkler - no, I cannot stop calling you Mrs. Winkler... really, I just couldn't do it! I don't think I could do this trip the way you did - I need the comforts of a hotel!!!
Mom - sorry we're late getting these done every night. We'll have no news tomorrow night, though, so this should last ya!
Miss and love you all!!!
Becca (Jason would sign off, too, but he's sleeping. I'll give him a pass on falling asleep long before me again, though, since he's the one doing most (if not all) of the driving!)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Good news for hotel lovers; Bad news for s'mores lovers....

For anyone who may be following our trip close enough to also be following the weather out this way, you'll be happy to know that we are safe and sound, even with the current tornado watch and thunderstorm warning!
We decided to check the weather real quick this morning before leaving Sandusky - since we had planned to camp for two nights - and we're REALLY glad we did! My jaw almost hit the floor when I saw high wind and strong thunderstorms forecast, along with the possiblities of tornadoes (or, "tormadoes," right, Mom?) coming from the storm. The forecast also included heavy hail and rain - exactly the kind of weather that's PERFECT for camping, right? So, thanks to AAA again, we did a quick search to try to find a hotel. Come to find out, the reason we decided to camp here in the first place was that very few of the hotels in the area are pet friendly.... which made the search frustrating. But, we found one a little south of the Wisconsin Dells in Baraboo, WI (a 3-diamond one, no less!), that accomodates Mr. Fred (along with a bunch of other dogs from families who abandoned their camping plans as well!).
So far, we haven't seen any of the severe weather, but we're happy we made this decision. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not much of a camping girl anyway, but, oddly enough, I'm a little disappointed. Truth be told, I just wanted the s'mores! We'll have another chance in a few days when we pitch our tent at the Flintstones Bedrock City Campground in S.Dakota (reliving a piece of my childhood!), so hopefully that one will pan out for us! After that, we have one more shot at this camping thing, but it's in a KOA Kabin, so it's not the same. I told Jason we can pitch the tent in the backyard in Kodiak when we get there - that didn't seem to be a solution, but I'm sure we'll get another chance!
So, after a little over 8 hours in the car today (and one VERY unhappy dog - wait til we get to the 14-hr day!), we're safe at a Best Western in Baraboo, resting up for some sight-seeing in the Dells tomorrow. Fred will be checking into a local doggie daycare (which he'll hopefully like better than the kennel at Cedar Point, but not nearly as much as All Four Paws!), and Jason and I are planning on either a Duck Tour or a more leisurely boat tour of the Dells, along with some shopping (of course!), and other general touristy things here in the Dells. It'll probably be a low-key day, though, since we're looking at a looooong trip on Saturday from here all the way to Wall, SD (almost 700 miles in a day - ACK!).
So that's it from Wisconsin for today. After our tours tomorrow, I'm sure I'll have some pictures to share.... and hopefully at least one of Jason will be as flattering as the one he put up of me yesterday!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Cedar Point should be on all cross countries!!!

Well it's been another fun day for the three of us. We woke up in Sandusky, Ohio and readied ourselves for a great day at the amusement park. We meaning Becca and I, Fred didn't have as much fun as us. He spent the day in the kennel at the park. He did get to meet a couple of other dogs, but he seemed to want to chase the roller coaster when we had him outside to walk.

Anyways, Becca and I did about 12 of the 17 coasters, with only one that we didn't like. We did love the Top Thrill dragster. Wow, 0 to 70 in 3 seconds and then over 400' into the air. It was awesome!
We ended up spending all day there and got back to the hotel around 7 pm. Fred was glad that we finally sprung him out of the clink.

Here are a couple of other pictures from our day, and one of the truck since we said that we would show you how we look like the Beverly Hillbillies. Tomorrow we'll be heading to the Dells in Wisconsin and will be camping for the first time on our trip. We'll try to post while we're there, but we can't guarantee anything. Hope all is well. Jason