Another Day at the Office

Morning Fog

Here’s to being a campground host!

Some have asked us, “What do you do?”  Others think we have a great ‘semi-retirement’.  A little background.  We aren’t completely retired.  We are here for a couple of reasons. First, my husband’s job at Cabela’s ended last June and it was time for a new career choice.  Second, our daughter and son-in-law live in Alaska and are expecting their first baby, our first grandchild so we thought it would be a fun way to be here for that event.   Third, my husband would like to work as a pilot so he is continuing that process with actual experience in the area where he would do sight-seeing tours, bringing  guests from Anchorage to Alaska River Adventures, our son-in-law’s business. We have been told repeatedly that it’s an unchartered resource here.  And finally, my husband used  to live in Anchorage and always wanted to come back.  Four-month summer stints seemed to be a good option for Alaska’s long daylight hours while we travel the rest of the year.

Why not campground host?  I have loved camping over the years beginning with my family when I was a child and then with my own children.  My husband was a backpacker and forEVER until this fifth-wheel, we tent camped everywhere imaginable from Glacier National Park to Rocky Mountain National Park to Zion National Park, to state parks in South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado.  We have the blessing to be outdoors and breathe nothing but fresh mountain, sea level air, enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Kenai Peninsula, watch for moose, eagles, bear and whatever else saunters along, as well as spend time with family.

Our job is not lucrative though we found that we will earn more than we actually read on the website – a pleasant surprise.  One of our duties includes cleaning the vault toilets.  I start with this because it is essential to me that the toilets are clean.  As I said, we have camped for many years and stinky, dirty vault toilets, well… you get the idea.  There are too many people these days who do not have toilet etiquette and that is sad for the rest of man and womankind.  Consequently, someone, like me, has to scrub and clean the risers, replace toilet paper, and collect the trash bags.  I do wear gloves, YES, I do wear gloves.  And, my toilets will be clean and smell like lavender.

One of the perks of this little job is meeting people from all over the world.  Cooper Landing with the Kenai River  has the world’s best salmon fishing run.  June 11 is opening day and our little campground of 28 sites is going to be bustling with fishermen from probably every state in the U.S. as well as maybe every continent.  We already had visitors from Switzerland; many take scenic float trips down the river with ARA.    We are awaiting the ‘soft opening’ of Memorial Day weekend and the onslaught of people arriving for the three days.

As hosts we are to inform, not enforce rules.  For example, dogs need to be on leashes.  That is a forest service rule.  Also, there is a rogue bear in these parts and for the protection of the dog, it need to be on a leash.  A bear actually destroyed a tent the other morning at a nearby campground. Also, on Cooper Creek the Fish and Game folks put a Rotary Screw Trap.  Without going into all the reasons why (damns ruin wildlife in the creeks and rivers), this trap catches small fish so they can count them and see whether or not the species is growing and returning to their spawning areas.   Any animal, a beloved dog, for example, that gets caught in it will drown.  Of course, even knowing all of these reasons, people still refuse to leash their dogs and then there’s a dog fight!  Alcohol is allowed; drunkneness and disorderly conduct is not.  We have met law enforcement and the forest service enforcer of rules.  Along with them, we have the power to ruin anyone’s fun trip.

Our campground has two areas, one north of the Sterling Highway we call ‘riverside’ and one south ‘the mountain side’.  We are in the south campground and all of the sites are reservable.  They are filled for over the holiday weekend with some people leaving and others arriving the same day.  We will be busy cleaning sites from one guest and preparing it for the next.  The north side has seven sites which are all first-come first-served.  These sites are along the Kenai River and have beautiful views of the river.

We are responsible for collecting the money envelopes from the “Iron Ranger.”  That event has been quite humours because it is so difficult to get to the lock from underneath and behind, unlock it, and then re-lock it.  We’re getting faster and think we should time each other.  From those envelopes, we must make sure that everyone in the campground has paid.  If not, we are to remind them that there is a fee for camping in a forest service campground.   We have already learned that the $18 fee isn’t always in that envelope.  Some people put whatever they have in their pockets; others put whatever cash they have in their pockets.  In reality, we aren’t to open the envelopes, but a few have not been closed or marked with “$12.50, Sorry!”  From those envelopes, we have to fill out daily reports of what sites were full, license plates numbers, states, whether or not they have a national park/forest pass, and what type of camping equipment they used (RV, tent or trailer) – all for demographics.

We also sell firewood by the bundle.  We have a little birdhouse for depositing that cash.   It’s cute and I hope to paint it to make it a little more exciting.

After campers leave their sites, we re-rake around the fire pit, check it for trash and other objects, look in the bear boxes for anything left behind, and pick up garbage.  For the most part, everyone is pretty clean.  However, we do find treasures.  I won’t discuss the horrendous ones, but we have found a boomerang, a very nice bungee cord, an entire spool of halibut fishing line (gave to son-in-law), two tennis balls (gave to our ‘granddog’), a small parrot trinket we named Cooper, tent stakes, and a growler.  We learned that we can take the growler to Soldotna, about an hour away,  and get it filled with homemade root beer!

So far everything is going well.  No bear attacks.  No dead dogs.  No stolen wood.  Friendly co-workers from the Alaska Recreation Management team.   Neighborly campers.  And, of course, beautiful scenery and wildlife like moose and bald eagles make cleaning vault toilets worth every minute.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the LORDfor he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the nations with equity” (Psalm 98:7-9).

©2017 Tentstake Ministries

 

 

 

This Life called BOONDOCKING?

When we first decided that we wanted to campground host in Alaska, we were directed to the Kenai Wildlife Refuge.  All of the information said that we would have to ‘boondock’, a word we had never heard before.  A little research showed us that it meant ‘living in the boondocks with no amenities’ or no water, no power, no sewer.  In other words, ‘off the grid’ in a trailer.

Though we thought we could ‘pull it off’, we decided to apply for jobs that had at least two of those things: electric and water.  When we were offered a job through Alaska Recreation Management that didn’t have those things, we decided once again to ‘go for it.’

(For those who want to know – We got this job because we actually asked some campground hosts at Quartz Creek when we were here last year for our daughter’s wedding, ‘How do we get your job?’  We did not hear back from any places where we filled out applications through Chugach National Forest or the State of Alaska, only from the people to whom those hosts referred us.)

Power.

Our fifth-wheel trailer comes equipped with a 12-volt battery and two 30 lb. propane tanks.  The battery, believe it or not, will run our furnace along with propane.  Our stove/oven and refrigerator are also propane powered.  When traveling, the refrigerator runs on propane, but when we plugged into electric, it ran on electrical power.

Years ago we bought a solar generator in the event we would have to live without power.  It came in handy a couple of times when blizzards blew out our power for hours and even days.  We could plug in our freezer and refrigerator and not lose our food.  So, we at least had that for power, and Alaska in the summer has 20 hours of daylight.  But what if, like today, it is cloudy and rains.  My husband had the foresight to buy a small gas generator that could take over if necessary.  Once we arrived at Cooper Creek, we put our solar panels on the roof of our trailer and the sun did its thing and charged the generator.   Today, however, the gas generator is running while it’s raining.  We are still learning how much wattage we can use with one and the other, but for the solar generator, we do need sun.  We have learned that when the furnace runs on the battery, the generator will re-charge the battery first leaving us with a smaller amount of energy.

Water.

Our trailer has a 60 gallon water tank.  We traveled most of the way without filling it because of its weight.  However, through Canada, most of the campgrounds didn’t have water as it was still too cold.  Because we never knew what we would find, we kept it ⅓ full.  Now that we’re without a source of water via a hose, we will have to haul water.  We have a 42-gallon water bladder that can lay in the back of the truck so that we can haul it once it is full.  One of our options is the hand pump here in the campground.  Honestly, I can’t imagine pumping 42 gallons of water into the bladder twice a week though I would probably end up with very strong arms.  We can go to a place called Jim’s Landing and fill our water with a hose or we can visit a friend of my daughter’s.  These people live ‘off the grid’ and have a wonderful spring.  They pump it into 50 gallon containers for use in their mountain tiny house.  We have been told we can use that water which we will probably do (and they have chickens where I can buy fresh eggs!).

The next issue will be getting the water into the holding tank.  We have a little pump thingy that should do that for us, but since we’ve never used it, we don’t know how or if that will work.  We learn new things each day; some actually work, some we have to re-invent.  We also have two 6 gallon jugs that we can haul water from the hand pump or the spring.   As for drinking water, I’m weird about where my water comes from.  For example, I cannot and will not drink water from a bathroom sink.  I blame that on my brother who told me when I was little that the water from the toilet flushed into the sink.  Yeah, he does plumbing today.  We buy cases of spring water for actual drinking.

We have a hot water heater.  It runs on either propane or electric.  It holds six gallons of water.  So, showers tend to be short though I’ve never run out and I love to stand in hot water.  Since we will be hauling water, I will shorten my showers because I think hauling water will become tedious.  There is a hook-up for a washer/dryer combo in our trailer, but since we knew we would be hauling water, we didn’t buy one. We have the luxury of going to our daughter’s house and showering.  We will be doing laundry at her house, too. 

Sewer.

This is the biggie.  Gray water is that water that comes out of the shower, the bathroom sink and the galley/kitchen.  We have learned that gray water can be released into the ground.  If anyone has ever tent camped, you know that you can throw your wash water out on the ground.  Well, that’s what we’re going to be doing; it’s just going to come through a hose and we’ll move the hose around and around.  The only rule is that it cannot be released on forest service property so the hose goes out about 50 feet from our trailer.  The hose is brown and camouflaged because we have heard tales about people thinking it’s black water and turning hosts into law enforcement.  

Black water is the water that comes out of the toilet.  When we first asked about the campsite, we were told that we were within 100 feet of the pit toilet.  On the one side of the toilet there is a manhole cover into a septic holding tank that we can open and  dump our black water.  We bought a flo-jet pump or what we call a ‘poop grinder’.  This little mechanism grinds up what is in the black tank, mixes it with water until it flows through a garden hose into that manhole.  Unfortunately, we’re like a million miles from that pit toilet and so pumping to that manhole is not going to work.  The second option we have is called a ‘poop hauler’.  Sounds fun doesn’t it?  This is a huge tank on wheels in which my husband (not me) will dump our black sewage.  Then, he will haul it on the back of our truck that million miles and dump it into septic tank.  

Apart from these three things, it’s going to be a fun summer living in this fifth wheel.  I have hot water to wash dishes.  I have propane for my oven to bake cookies and challah bread for Sabbath.  I have a refrigerator that keeps leftovers fresh; a freezer stocked with ice cream.  I have a hot shower.  I have a flush toilet, but will probably try to use the pit toilet as much as possible.  It will be clean and smell good because that’s part of my job.  I know what I expect in a pit toilet so that is what I will do.  I have a warm bed and when it’s cold, a furnace and the most-necessary propane-powered Mr. Heater.   The lights in the trailer are LED and do not use much power so we added battery operated lights in places where we will need them if and when it ever gets dark in Alaska.

In the meantime, I have a wonderful sofa, my Broncos throw, the means to make hot cocoa, a couple of good books along with the Good Book, internet through Verizon most of the time, some herb plants and a few flowers to make this campsite at Cooper Creek in Cooper Landing, Alaska my home for the next four months. 

*Note: Much of what we have invested in came from our wonderful Cabela’s discount that we had for nearly 20 years.

©2017 Tentstake Ministries

Yeshua, Our High Priest and Bridegroom

“Therefore, since we have a great cohen gadol (high priest) who has passed through the highest heaven, Yeshua, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we acknowledge as true” (Hebrew 4:14).

The priestly garments, according Exodus 28, were comprised of blue, purple, scarlet, and linen threads.   Yeshua, our High Priest came from heaven represented by the blue, and was the royal King of Kings represented by the purple.  In his humanity, the scarlet represented the blood sacrifice he would make for the world while the linen represented his sinless purity.  Interweaved through these threads was gold, hammered so thin, it became a thread.  The gold represented Yeshua’s divinity, yet he was hammered and beaten as a man.

The Aaronic cohanim hagadol  (high priests) wore black onyx stones on their shoulders.  On the stones were engraved the 12 Tribes of Israel in the order of their birth.  In Hebrew, the word for ‘engrave’ is charasso and has the meaning ‘set free’.   The engraving was to be done as a ‘seal’ like a signet ring.  This seal suggested that Elohim, through Yeshua, would never let his people Israel go.   The black onyx was symbolic of the darkness of the world in which Yeshua would enter and set free God’s people, the nation of Israel, who He promised would be His eternal possession.

Isaiah, in Hebrew is Yeshayahu, and literally means ‘salvation of God’.  The book of Isaiah has 66 chapters.  The combined Old Testament and New contain 66 books; 39 in the Tenak (Torah, Prophets and Writings) and 27 in the Gospels and Letters.  In Isaiah, the first 39 chapters speak of Israel’s need for redemption while the last 27 speak of God’s mercy and grace in sending a redeemer, the salvation of Israel, Yeshua.

“I am so joyful in Yahweh!  My soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in salvation, dressed me with a robe of triumph, like a bridegroom wearing a festive turban, like a bride adorned with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10-11).

This verse in Isaiah reveals the wedding clothing of the bridegroom and the bride.  Along with the priestly garments mentioned above, the bridegroom, Yeshua, wears a festive turban.  The Hebrew word for ‘wear’ in this verse means ‘to mediate’.  The priestly turban has a gold ‘seal’ that says “Kadosh Lecha” or Holy Unto the LORD.  It is a festive turban as atonement has already been made by Yeshua and when the wedding feast of the Lamb arrives, it will be a celebration like no other, a festive celebration on an ‘appointed time’ of the LORD.

The bride also wears several garments.  The first is the linen garment of salvation or yeshua.   This garment is representative of being justified by the blood of Yeshua.  This is where most people believe their walk with Messiah begins and ends.  They are content to be justified, but not go any further into the depth of the Scriptures to learn and study about their Bridegroom and His Father’s complete plan of salvation that includes sanctification and the glory to come.

The second garment is a ‘robe of triumph’ representing the bride’s victory over sin and her righteous life (Revelation 19:8).  Though there is a positional righteousness given to each of us through faith in Yeshua, there is also the practical righteousness of living out the commands of God on a daily basis.  This is the ‘goal’ of the Torah; not the ‘end of it’ creating a lawless bride who lives according to what she deems is ‘right in her own eyes’.    This striving, working out of our salvation,  is called sanctification and is a lifelong process of becoming more like Yeshua, more like a set-apart glorious bride.  This garment is represented by blue for the citizenship of the betrothed bride is not on earth, but in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  It is from the words of our heavenly King by which we are to learn, live and grow.

When Yeshua returns, after mediating between us and God as our High Priest, he will glorify us.  He will adorn his bride with jewels and give her a new name, and be like a glorious crown and a royal diadem.

“Then you will be called by a new name which YHVH himself will pronounce.  You will be a glorious crown in the hand of YHVH, a royal diadem held by your God” (Isaiah 62:2-3).

“Then, when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive glory as your unfading crown” (1 Peter 5:4).

“How blessed is the man who perseveres through temptation! For after he has passed the test, he will receive as his crown the Life which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

In Hebrew, the word ‘bride’ is challah. Every Sabbath evening Jewish families (and non-Jewish ones who have grafted into the commonwealth of Israel and choose to keep the covenants of God) make a special braided bread known as challah.  It is not called lechem or ‘bread’, but ‘challah’.  This bread, central to the Shabbat celebration, puts the bride of Messiah in the center of the prophetic vision of the coming eternal Kingdom where Yeshua is not only present, but rules and reigns for all eternity as King and High Priest with his redeemed Bride at his side.

©2017 Tentstake Ministries

The Yukon Territory with its (Mis)Adventures into the Final Frontier

Needing a restful Sabbath, we decided to take two days and stay at Liard River Hot Springs.We crossed Summit Pass where it was snowing and then headed down into the Muncho Lake area – “Muncho” meaning ‘large lake’.  It truly is beautiful this time of year with all of the frozen rivers and lakes.   On our descent, we saw a Stone sheep crossing the road.  When I yelled out the window, “Hello, Mr. Sheepy”, he turned his head and gave us a photo op.  

Up to the point of arriving at Liard, we had always had a pull-through site for our 42-ft. monster rig.  Unfortunately, this campground had none of those.  So, for the first time, we had to back into a camping spot.  Without too many details, I will only say, it was stressful.  My husband, ever the perfectionist, was not satisfied with its inital location and in great need of the hot springs to relax.  So, we left the trailer as it was, changed into our swim suits, and headed for the springs. 

My husband has always wanted me to see this place, and it truly is a must-see-experience rest stop, as he had been here on his trek to Alaska 40 years earlier.  Yes, my husband moved to Anchorage after college and lived there for two years before returning to the Lower 48, Boulder and meeting me.  So, for him, this was a milestone in our marriage!

There is a boardwalk trail that crosses a wetland environment where several Canadian geese made their home.  There are two hot springs pools with water temperatures ranging from 108-126 degrees; however, the upper spring was closed due to a rogue bear.  After relaxing in the hot water, we returned to our trailer and discussed our different alternatives to moving it, turning it, and directions that I have to give.  Two tries later, it was situated correctly so we didn’t have to unhitch.  Our Sabbath began when we lighted candles and broke the oat wheat slices of bread.  I did NOT have time to bake challah!  

We met a lot of people at our two visits to the hot springs.  A couple from Texas who were heading to Kenai, Alaska, a couple from Brighton, Colorado who were heading to Anchorage, a couple from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory who were heading home and invited us to stop for lunch as we passed through, a couple from Arizona who were going to campground host in Tok, Alaska, a young woman from everywhere who was going to be a tour guide in Skagway, Alaska, and a couple from Steamboat, Colorado who were going to do sled dog tours on a glacier near Juneau.  Some of these people, since we were on the same route, we saw numerous times over the next few days.

From Liard, we headed north into the Yukon Territory.  Our first stop was at at Contact Creek to buy fuel.  The couple who owned the place moved 30 years ago from Florida.  We kept on keepin’ on until we took a little break at Watson Lake.  Another place my husband wanted me to see: The Sign Post Forest.  According to the “The Milepost, the Bible of the North Country,”  there are over 100,000 signs in this ‘forest’ from everywhere in the world.  It was started by Carl K. Lindley (1919-2002) of Danville, Illinois, a U.S. Army solder who worked on the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942.  Everyone is encouraged to put a signpost there … we’ll have one to add on the way back. 

We arrived at Teslin, Yukon Territory and decided to stay for the night.  Or, should I say, it was the only place open for miles and miles so we had no choice?   The beautiful Nitsutlin Bridge crosses the Teslin River.  Teslin has the largest Native Tlingit population in the Yukon Territory and much of the community receives its livelihood from the woodworking crafts: canoes, showshoes, and sleds.  Since our little friend, Hope (who lives in Cooper Landing), is Tlingit, I wanted to buy her something special, but the Trading Post and the Heritage Center were both closed until June.  It was here at the laundry that I met a sweet young woman who is married to a Tlingit man and we discussed her four-year-old daughter who she will homeschool as well as her own deafness.  We had a fun dinner at the restaurant on site with people we met at Liard, and also met Tom and Kate who are from Casper, Wyoming and heading to Homer, Alaska to fix up a condo that Tom bought for ‘the fun of it’.  We spent the evening around a campfire throwing sticks to their dogs! 

We had decided to get up early and hit the road toward Alaska and the border.  I was asleep when I thought my husband was scratching a never-ending itch and I grabbed his hand to stop him from shaking the whole trailer.  Well, he was asleep too and the trailer didn’t stop shaking. With our horrific experience with the slashed tires, my next thought was someone was trying to tip over our trailer.  It was then my husband said, “This must be an earthquake!”  Within seconds after the 30-second or more shaking, our little earthquake apps when off on our phones to say that it had been a 6.2 quake with the epicenter about 70 miles from us.  About ½ hour later as my husband made breakfast, he asked what I was doing in the bedroom because the trailer shook again.  This time it was a 6.4 aftershock.  Thus began my earthquake experiences.  Since then, we have experienced a 5.2 in Cooper Landing and learned that being in a vehicle or in a bed are the best places to be.  We have both: a bed on wheels.

When I homeschooled my children, they played Yukon Trail on the computer.   As we came to the Yukon River, we just had to stop and take photos.  It was a beautiful little place except for the trash.  Though Canada, unlike the U.S., places trash bins everywhere, no one uses them and beautiful places are defiled with white plastic grocery bags and everything else you can imagine (yes, imagine it).  It’s very sad, really, that the world thinks the earth is its trash pit.  For such an ‘environmentally friendly’ mentality, this environment has become a large trash dump.   

We continued on our trek north through Whitehorse.  We were going to meet our new friends for lunch, but with the earthquake that delayed our trip and a little landslide on the main road, we only stopped a short time for fuel.  As always, in a city that little event is an adventure.  First, I have to check to see if we’ll fit under the overhangs, then I have to see if they even have diesel.  This time both were okay, but the diesel was on the opposite side from the fuel tank.  As my husband was trying to make a wide turn in the lot to go to the pumps on the other side of the building, a woman just had to push her little car to where she must always pump her gas.  What fools people are in the midst of huge rigs!  

Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory.  It is a very depressed city and many people actually live in their campers in the Walmart parking lot.  With our past experience in a Walmart parking lot, we chose not to make that a stopping place and weaved our way through town and back onto the Alcan Highway.  

One of the best parts of traveling with an RV or a trailer is that you can stop to have lunch (among other things that one needs to do while in nowhere land) whenever and wherever.   As we brought “The Milepost,” we were able to find some interesting pull-offs for stopping.  For those who don’t know as I didn’t, “The Milepost” is a large catalog-type magazine published yearly that follows the Mile Markers from Canada’s various routes through Alaska’s various highways.  As my husband drives, I watch the Mile Markers (Kilometer markers in Canada) to see if there’s a pullout somewhere or just to figure out where we are and what we’re looking at (after a while all mountain ranges are very similar).   It is very detailed and includes speed zones, highway ascents and descents and ‘watch out for moose or caribou’ warnings. 

The Canyon River Bridge was one of these unique stops.   This bridge was built in 1903 for one of the gold rush strikes on the Alsek River.  The bridge survived heavy traffic and floods until the 1920s when it was rebuilt.  In 1942, during the construction of the Alaska Highway, it was dismantled and a new bridge was built.  The existing pioneer bridge, however, was left in place. 

There were and are too many spectacular views to not only photograph but to share with everyone.  It would take as long as our trip!  This mountain range, the Wrangell – St. Elias Range was breathtaking.  The peaks grew larger and more beautiful as we headed toward Haines Junction for a much needed coffee break at The Village Bakery.  And, yes, their baked good were … delicious!  After a cup of brew, we were back on the road and headed toward Beaver Creek through the Kulane National Reserve via Destruction Bay and the beginning of FROST HEAVES.

Frost heaves range from rolling bumps in the road to serious damaged road with dips and bumps that destroy not just cars and trucks, but the trailers they haul.  Thinking that we could actually travel at least 50-60 mph on this trip, over the heaves we averaged only 30-40, and sometimes even that was too fast.  We arrived in Beaver Creek to find that the shelves in my pantry had broken, the supports had either fallen out or cracked and I had to remove all of my food from the cabinet.  Both handles on the back window of the trailer had broken off, one is an exit window, the other we just couldn’t shut so we had to duct tape both.  Our ‘new’ trailer is beginning to look like it’s being held together with black, gray or white tape.  Cabinets that had never opened up, opened up and threw my appliances around the trailer.   Nothing broke (except our Jerusalem mug), but now every cabinet door has a bungee cord.  One last issue was my little vacuum cleaner.  It bit the dust so all of the broken spice bottles and their insides ….  nothing more to say about that! It was still light hours after we were done fixing things and went to bed.  There is daylight until about 10 p.m.

Alaska, Finally!  

I know why gold miners used the word Eureka!  I have never been so happy to see a border.   The signs in mileage, the money in dollars and cents, and the speed limit is something that is recognizable.  It is nice that Canada and the U.S. have a friendly border as it only took seconds to pass through.  Suddenly we are in Alaska with the realization that we would soon see our daughter.  Going up one steep hill, my husband mentioned that something seemed weird with his gas pedal.  When he realized he had forgotten to put on the towing switch thingy, everything worked well.  We were really on our way and kinks were being ironed out.

As we traveled our last hours of the Alaska Highway, we honestly couldn’t believe we were nearing the end of a trip that we had not believed we would really do.  We stopped for lunch, made a few phone calls about the warranty on the trailer, and took pictures of Mt. Sanford and Mt. Drum from the Tok Cutoff.   Mt. Sanford is the second highest peak in Alaska after Denali (16,237 feet), and is a shield volcano.   We drove through Glenallen and considered stopping at Tolsona Wilderness Campground, the campground we stayed at two years ago.  Unfortunately, it was still closed, so onward we went down the Glen Highway.  When we were here before, it was autumn and leaves were changing and water was flowing.  Now the mountains were covered in snow and the rivers were iced over.  It will be an even different ‘beautiful’ when we return south in September.  

Because we needed to do a few things in Anchorage, we decided to stop for the night in Palmer about 42 miles from Anchorage.  We once again had some frost heave damage with cabinets that we needed to put band-aids on, but got to bed at a decent time even with the sun shining.   We did our normal morning routine – pulling in electric, sewer and water, moving in the slides, removing the stabilizers and locked the door.   We were ready to pull out and were overjoyed at only a three hour drive in front of us.    I went in front of the truck to guide my husband through and out of the site.  I moved my hands in a motion to come forward.  He didn’t.  I moved them again.  He shook his head.  I moved them again and he opened the window and said, “I can’t.  The truck won’t move.”  Though he could move backwards, he could not move forwards.  

Seriously?  We are only three hours from Cooper Landing!  Yes, seriously.  Within the hour our truck was being towed to a FORD dealer in Wasilla –  you know the place from where Sarah Palin hails.  According to Stan, our tow truck driver, before it came into public view, Wasilla was known for Miller Ice Cream and rednecks.  As we drove from Palmer to Wasilla, he pointed out the glacier that can be seen from the city and also told us that the large lake at the base of the mountains used to be hay fields before the 1960 earthquake when the land dropped and formed the lake.  

Wasilla is also the place from where our F350 hails too.  Yes, our lovely truck lived out its first several thousands of miles in Palmer, Alaska and decided it wanted to visit its home.  This time, however, unlike our experience in Auburn, California, the mechanics and customer service reps were amazing.  When they found it was a sensor, they said if they didn’t have it in stock, they would take it from another truck just to get us on the road.  They had us out of there by 4 p.m.  We were hitched, did some errands and on the road by 5:30 p.m. 

Forty-two miles later seeing the “Welcome to Anchorage” sign was invigorating.  Only two more hours left on this journey to Alaska by truck and trailer.   Then the wind picked up, REALLY picked up as we went around the Turnagain Arm.  It began to rain, pour, rain, pour, and the wind blew harder and harder.  Clouds socked in the mountains surrounding us.  Somewhere around a bend,  there was a rainbow and eventually the sign that told us we were finally on the Kenai Peninsula.

We are staying for the week at Quartz Creek Campground in Cooper Landing until our campground, Cooper Creek, opens up on May 15.  The (mis)adventures will continue as we will be boondocking.  This means we will be living four months in our trailer with no water hookup, electric or sewer.  We will haul water, pump it into the trailer, use a solar generator with a gas back up, and well, wagon a poop hauler to remove our waste to ….   But, hey, we’re HERE and we survived the Alcan Highway – until we have to return again to the Lower 48  in September!  Would you? 

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