Sunday, July 27, 2014

We’re in Blaine, Washington


July 27,2014                                                                                                                        Lorraine’s report

So it was with a heavy heart that I leave Alaska, my home!  I guess I will always be an Alaskan, through and through.  I love that land, the people, and the romance/adventure that you find there! When we left Rick and Donna at the airport, tears slowly made their way down my face as we left Anchorage.  I don’t think I will be going back to Ketchikan.  Mom wasn’t there this time, and they say when Mom is gone, you can’t go home again.  Well, she is gone, and with her, a whole different way of life.   It was a lot of fun though to go back and see where you came from, what you’ve made of your life etc.  Chuck and I have come far….

I have to say I loved being with Rick and Donna!  Everything we did gave us so much J O Y!!!  It was GREAT after all this time to see you once again.  Chuck loved fishing!!! I was happy just to be together with you and Donna.  Thank you both for all you did for us!!!  I loved the whole thing, the trip, the fishing, the tours to town and the trip to Whittier, Alaska.  All…All was great!!!  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.   And yes, Donna, I feel like moping, now that the trip is done, so you’re not alone with that. 

So Chuck wrote about the trip for us.  I want to thank a few people for all their help in getting us up there.  Thanks to Joe and Alice for using our car to get us to the airport to leave.  To Tim, major “Thanks” for taking care of our dog, Misty.  To Gail,  many, many thanks for the invite to you beautiful home to have dinner with you and your family.  What a nice family you have!  And to good friends, Breta & John, “Thank you” for getting us at midnight, only 7 hours late.  I can not say how much we appreciate you picking us up so late at night.  

What a long day for us, we got up at 6 am to drive to Anchorage for our flight, only  to find it changed and moved, and they were having problems with the engine.  So glad we didn’t have to go the next day, though!  We finally got to bed about 1:45 am, on the 22nd,  a very long day.  Especially after being out on the Kenai River for over 10 hours the day before.  It took me several days  to recover from the sea sickness I get when I go on the plane or on a boat, both of which I did before the return home.  Oh well, some one has gotta pay sometime…that would be me.

So I’ve been telling people what a great trip we have had for my 50th year of graduating high school.  It was fun, loved it, and seeing my son and Donna.  All great…

So we are close to ending our time here in WA.  We will be leaving on August 9.  Not sure where the winds will blow us, but we are always open to new and exciting things. 

I would like to wish Joy, of Joy & Rick a “very happy birthday!”  Her birthday is the 2nd of August.  Thelma’s birthday is August 4th and mine is August 6.  We will leave after that.  So that is it for me.  Have a great week everyone…Hugs,



7/27/14                                                                                                                                 Chuck’s report

Yep, vacation is over and we are back home once again, in fact, we’ve been here since early Tuesday morning.  But what a vacation, three weeks in Alaska, the first week in Ketchikan for Lorraine’s 50th class reunion and greeting old/new friends, then two weeks at our son’s place in Kenai.  Our last blog covers our first week at Rick’s place, this one will be our last week there and what’s happened since we’ve been back.

I don’t have a record of what we did each day but will try to cover the highlights..  I think it was on Monday that we headed out to try our luck salmon fishing.  We talked to a few folks and Rick checked with his guide buddies and found most folks we not having any luck, the reds just weren’t in yet.  We tried a few places and only caught two so soon decided it would be better if we tried a different day. 

I believe on Tuesday we picked up Rick’s Explorer from the shop, the bearings in the differential (rear end) and one wheel bearing needed replacing.  The gears all looked good so no replacement needed there.  Later we decided to head up river in the car to visit Cooper Landing area.  We saw lots of fishermen along the shore but didn’t have our gear and that wasn’t our mission for the day anyway. 

We drove around and admired the views and finally stopped for lunch at the Princess Hotel, this is where the cruise ship folks get bussed to for a day’s shore excursion.  Seeing as how it was for the cruise folks, it was really nice, the food was good, service excellent and lots of stuff to see there as well.  Glad we made the stop there.  Rick knew about this place because he worked out of the area as a fishing guide for a couple of years. 

Wednesday we toured Soldotna and Kenai a bit, stopping at some of the major stores in town.  With all the fishermen in town, everything was crowded, at least in Rick/Donna’s world but we didn’t think it was that bad compared to crowds we’ve had to put up with in other places.  Lorraine did find a couple of items she wanted but nothing big as we don’t have much room in our luggage. 

Thursday morning we saw momma moose again but she only had one baby with her.  Rick’s neighbor told him there was a brown bear in the area and we figure it got one of the babies.  We also saw two caribou in the area again.  We took off in the car once again, this time with Wittier as our destination. 

Once again, it was a cloudy day with on/off rain and showers but even then we enjoyed the views and scenery.  I didn’t know the only road in/out of Wittier was by driving though an active railroad tunnel, 2 1/2 miles long with only one lane.  We had to wait for about 1/2 hour for traffic from our side to enter then drove through.  I’m really claustrophobic and had a time, the walls were close enough but in my mind they were closing in even more.  I couldn’t see the entrance or exit and was getting pretty antsy, even had to open my window a couple of times.  I tried closing my eyes, counting and whatever I could to take my mind off the tunnel, no luck.  Finally (seem liked an hour to me) I could see light at the end and started to get better, whew, wish I had brought and taken my chill pills I use when I fly. 

But when we got out of the tunnel, everything was fine although I knew we would have to go back thru that tunnel and every time I thought about it I would start to worry.  But we did have a good time in town, a small town to be sure but a town just the same.  I heard a clerk in one of the stores tell a tourist there wasn’t much to do in town except to charter a fishing or tour boat, check out the few tourist stores or drink.  He said there were lots of bars in town. 

We walked the short main drag along the harbor, checking out the shops and stuff.  Then we drove thru the other section of town and the short section of unpaved road to the South.  The town was originally one of the spots where the gold miners came in by ship before heading to the interior and was a military complex during WW 11.  Two huge buildings dominate the town, one is abandoned while the other is called the “city under one roof”.  This is where most of the residents live as there are no single family homes in the area.  Inside this building are all the normal things in a town, grocery store, bowling ally, beauty shop and such.  These two buildings were at one time the two largest buildings in Alaska.  The town was damaged by huge tsunamis during the 1964 earthquake, up to 43’ waves is what I read.  And they have a total of 35 students in school, that includes all grades from preschool through high school. 

Whittier is a popular port of call for cruise ships, as it has connections to the rest if Alaska by road and railroads.  And it is very well known for it’s fishing, hunting and especially shrimp.  The shrimp are caught a few miles away and because of their food supply are said to be the sweetest shrimp available. 

We drove back to the harbor area and found a restaurant and of course had to order/try some of the local shrimp.  Lorraine and Rick had halibut while Donna and I had hamburgers.  Lorraine and Rick both agreed the shrimp were good, so good in fact that we ordered a pound to go so they could have some later. 

We made it back to the tunnel waiting area shortly after it opened for traffic from our direction.  I asked if I could drive through instead of sitting in back, hoping it would help and it did, no problem as I could see the light at the entrance in the rear view mirror or the light at the end all the time. 

Once thru, we stopped at the Portage Glacier visitor's center for awhile.  A very nice center with lots of info plus we were all able to get in using my National Park Access Pass.  There was a large lake just outside the center that had some large ice chucks floating that had calved off the glacier a few miles up the lake.  We could have taken a cruise ship up the lake and seen the glacier up close but needed to get back on the road, maybe another time. 

After we got back Lorraine and I took off to visit with a friend of ours who lives in the area, Gail.  We met her at Palm Springs 1000 Trails a year ago.  She is from Sterling and has another place in Arizona.  She invited us for dinner and we got to meet her daughter and son-in-law and grand kids.  Thanks for the invite and it was nice to meet your family too.  See you back in Arizona somewhere this winter, probably. 

Friday we headed out for more trout fishing in the drift boat as the salmon reports were still not very good.  We had a great time once again and even caught a couple but not as many as the first time in this area.  We did see a few folks catch some salmon and decided maybe we would give it try on Saturday.

After we got back to Rick’s house, Lorraine put started laundry while Rick and I were working on getting everything ready for salmon fishing the next day.  But the washing machine decided to quit, wouldn’t spin or agitate, now what.  So we decided to work on it the next day instead of going fishing and go fishing on our last full day, Sunday instead.  So that evening we did the majority of our packing, just keeping out clothes from the next day, fishing and traveling clothes and of course, personal items for bathing and such.  That filled up two of our four suitcases and made it easier when we left on Monday morning. 

So that’s what we did on Saturday morning, tore into the washing machine.  I first had us take the back of the machine off but soon found that was un-necessary as the motor and pump were accessible from the front instead.  So with a quick check online and two u-tube movies, we figured out the problem, parts needed and how to repair it.  We put the back on then took off the front section where we could get easier access.  It wasn’t too hard to get the pump and motor off and find the coupling was bad, wouldn’t transmit movement from the motor to the tub.  The gals made a run into town to get a new, improved coupler for us.  After we got the part, it only took an hour to install it and put everything back together.  And even better, the washing machine worked just fine after our repair, yea.  I learned something on that job too Rick!

Sunday morning we headed out for our last chance to go salmon fishing on this trip.  Rick had the boat at a friend’s dock on the river so we loaded up the gear in the car and took off.  We didn’t attempt to get a real early start but were in place before 9:00.  We were using a fly pole, standing in water about knee deep, putting the weight and hook in about waist deep water then moving it along downstream.  Each cast took about 15-20 seconds before we would use the “Kenai flip” and put the gear back upstream for another attempt. 

Fishing was slow for awhile then picked up and shortly after noon it got really exciting.  I don’t know how many fish I hooked but didn’t see or catch but I did keep track of the ones I hooked and released, 48 salmon.  That’s right, I caught and released 48 sockeye salmon in one trip, I think it was 14 in one hour even.  Boy was my arm sore and tired but it was a good sore.  In fact, my right hand, the one I mostly used for the “Kenai flip” cramped up on me a couple of time.  But it was sure fun, just what we’ve heard about when the fish come in. 

And what action, as I said, we were using fly rods so there wasn’t much between me and the fish and they did lots of jumping and such.  Because we were catching/releasing, I was able to play the fish for all the were worth, much more than someone who wanted to keep them.  Once I was almost at the end of my cast when a salmon jumped right in front of me and almost hit my leg.  I didn’t know yet but I had hooked it and it was trying to throw the hook.  Exciting and fun, what a day.  The limit is 6 keepers per person per day but we only kept two but ended up giving to a friend of Ricks.  In fact, fishing was so good, Rick called a good friend of his to come out, picked him up and he went fishing too.  He caught at least 10 fish and hasn’t caught more than one per season for the last two years. 

But finally we decided we had to quit and call it a day.  Everyone got back in the boat and we headed back to the dock, like I said, tired and sore but happy.  Soon enough we were were home and resting and before long heading for bed.

Next morning we had to be up by 6:30 as our plane left at 12:30, we needed to be there two hour early and we had a drive of about 2 1/2 hours.  We got on the road and once again drove through some of the best scenery around, the rivers and streams, all the mountains with the glaciers and Turnagain Arm just to name a few.

We got to the airport about 10:45 where they dropped us off and everyone said their goodbyes.  We headed inside to check in, Rick and Donna headed out for some errands while in town before they drove back.  We got to the check in counter and that’s where we first found out there was an issue, the plane we were scheduled on had it time changed, it was leaving just as we were at the counter.  The next plane was due to leave at 1:00 but it was having some mechanical issues.  They told us the next plane would be leaving at 4:30 and put us on it, shoot, that meant getting into Bellingham at 11:30 instead of 6:30 as originally scheduled.  And the gal at the counter was telling me how lucky we were that she was able to get us on this flight instead of one the next day.  So much for two hours early and thanks for keeping us informed.  If we had known about the delay, we could have spent a couple of hours fishing in the morning. 

We called Rick and they returned back to the airport and we spent a couple more hours with them, toured Anchorage some and had a good lunch too.  Then back to the airport to make sure the plane was repaired and on time.  Everything seemed to be good to go and soon they called for early boarding. 

I helped Lorraine get on board, took my chill pill and stepped off the plane to wait until most folks were on board before I got back on.  Guess I was standing in an unauthorized area as I had the head of security, the gal from the gate and the pilot come and talk to me.  I explained why I was there and they said no was supposed to wait there, just outside the plane on the walkway.  I didn’t see any problem but agreed next time I would return to the gate and wait out there.  Then the pilot was worried about what I might do if I had a problem with claustrophobia during the flight.  I managed to convince him that the chill pill was working and I would be fine.  Sheese, do I look like a terrorist or something?  And once I got on board, I took another pill and didn’t have any issue although the pilot did have the stewardess check on me to be sure. 

Our good friends, John and Bretta had agreed to pick us up at the airport when we got got in but that was when we were scheduled to be there at 6:30.  Lorraine called to let them know we would make other plans, a taxi or something we figured but they wouldn’t hear of it, said they would be there and pick us up.  And they were!  Thanks, that was sure a nice thing to do, sure appreciate it. 

But it did make for a long day plus Lorraine was feeling a bit sea sick from sitting in the boat all day the day before along with the flights.  We didn’t get to bed until about 2 am plus we had lost an hour traveling East.  Next morning I headed out to see our friend Tim who had been watching Misty for us.  Thanks again Tim, sure do appreciate it.  I’ll probably call you tomorrow. 

Back home, we finished unpacking and putting stuff away, I even had to re-install the kitchen sink we took with us, ha.  Actually for bringing casual clothes plus dress up clothes for the reunion, heavy and light coats and such I was pleased we only had 4 suitcases. 

Next morning, Wednesday, we made our re-supply trip to town.  We, of course, sort of cleaned out the fridge when we left so didn’t have a lot in house.  Plus we needed to make a couple of other errands while we were in town.  But it was a quick trip, Lorraine still wasn’t feeling up to par.

Thursday was the last scheduled doctor visit for us while we are here, Lorraine was seeing a new foot doctor.  She had surgery on her left foot a year ago while we were in Minnesota and has been experiencing pain in the surgery area since.  Our family doctor suggested she visit with this guy, said he was very good and might be able to help.  We got there, filled out paperwork and before she was finished, got called into the office.  Shortly thereafter, the doctor shows up and talks to us. I happened to be wearing a tee shirt from upper Michigan and that’s where he had practiced for 12 years.  Plus he was really interested in talking to us about our full time RV lifestyle.  Then he started talking to Lorraine about her foot.

He checked everything out and told us it was probably a pinched nerve, caught in the scar tissue.  He gave her a couple of options, surgery being one Lorraine ruled out pretty quickly.  He said he could have the pharmacist make up a special cream/salve that would help with nerve pain.  She could try this and see if it helps before moving on to more drastic remedies.  The doctor then left to call the pharmacist and print out her prescription.  Here’s hoping this works although we still haven’t heard from the pharmacy that the cream is ready.  But with all the time he spent visiting with us, I’m sure he was late for his next appointment. 

We then stopped by to pick up a birthday present for Lorraine, it’s on the 6th of August.  But it’s wrapped and she can’t open it yet even though see knows what it is. 

Friday one of Susy’s school girl friends came by for a visit. they live in Oregon and were here visiting friends.  Deanna had two of her kids with her plus another boy from the friend they are staying with.We went down to Birch Bay beach, the tide was way out and the kids had a great time.  Then we came back here and they all went swimming in the pool.  It sure was a good visit, we haven’t seen Deanna for probably 15 years, thanks for stopping by. 

Saturday morning we had plans to meet with John and Bretta in Ferndale at the Old Settlers Picnic Classic car show.  They have a ‘55 Chevy he’s had since new and they were entering it in the show.  There is also a parade in town and they close off some of the streets so we wanted to get there and find a parking spot before the parade.  We make it and had a visit with them for awhile then walked over to see part of the parade. 

Shortly after, we headed out to get a hamburger at the Ferndale Rainbow’s booth.  Susy was a Rainbow girl from age 12 –18 and we try to support them when we get a chance.  We ate there then toured the few booths around, Lorraine was happy to find a Avon booth and get a few things she’s been looking for. 

We returned to the car show area, John and Bretta sat out by their car while Lorraine and I walked the field to see the cars.  I think we must have meet 15 friends from the area while we were walking, some from my work, some from Lorraine’s and others.  Boy, old home week for sure, thanks for the invite and visit John and Bretta and good to see all the others we know. 

The weather during our last week at Rick’s was really nice for a couple of days.  We did have some rain, mostly at night and in the morning but the afternoon were usually clear.  On Sunday when we went fishing the weather was clear and warm all day with the same forecast for the next several days.  But we had to leave and return here where the forecast was for rain.  And we did get that on Wednesday/night, I heard we set a record for one day’s rain in July.  But it’s been nice the last few days and more of the same scheduled for the rest of the month. 

Our travel plans have us leaving here on Saturday, August 9th after Lorraine and her sister’s birthdays.  We hope to attend the annual picnic from the refinery on Friday afternoon too.  We will be heading to a FMCA rally in Redmond, Oregon for that week.  We haven’t decided on our plans from there, maybe the Oregon coast once again, we really like that.  But Susy called and the condo she is renting is being sold and she has to move and we may head down to help her is she needs/wants.  So back on the road and once again, no set plans. 

Now to go through the pictures, I know Lorraine took a bunch and she has probably many on her phone too.  Hope I can keep it down to a manageable amount. 


Rick’s three dogs waiting to be let in.  Rick’s new dining table and chairs that he picked up while we were there. 

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Momma moose and one baby, heard there was a bear in the area, must have gotten the other one. 

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One of the boat launches on Kenai River.  Smooth water on the lake. 

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We’re at the Princess Lodge near Cooper Landing.  Donna and Rick.

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Mom, Rick and Dona.  All of us on the right. 

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How about those Nut Crackers, Katie?

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Kenai River near where the Russian river joins. 

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Launching Rick’s power boat. 

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Fun fishing for all. 

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We’re not the only one fishing. 

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Homes along the Kenai River. 

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Some of the trout we caught and released. 

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More homes and even a float plane landing. 

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A bar and dance place on the Kenai called Moosequito. 

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Glaciers in the mountains on our drive to Wittier. 

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Entrance to the 2 1/2 mile tunnel, the only road in/out of Wittier. 

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Lots of boats here, however.  Plus this is a stop on the Alaskan Highway for their ferry boats. 

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Most people in town live here, there are no single family homes in Wittier. 

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The old, abandoned barracks that used to be home for some of the residents. 

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We saw this neat little fishing boat, looks like a seiner only smaller. 

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More boats in the harbor and the launching ramp. 

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Only picture we got of the grey whale in the harbor. 

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That’s ice that calved off the glacier behind us, notice the blue ice in it.   

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More glaciers in the mountains. 

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Gail and her house, we didn’t get pictures of her family, bummer. 

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Heading out for a day’s salmon fishing.  That’s Donna, me and Rick on the right. 

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Donna finally caught one!

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I continue to catch and Rich helps release, notice Donna watching to learn how, ha. 

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Donna keeps fishing while we show off one of my catches.  Rob, that dock in the background is Tower Rock where we fished.

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Everyone gets in the action. 

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Donna caught a very nice Dolly Varden. 

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I could add lots more pictures like these ones but you get the idea, we caught fish and had fun!

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We moved upstream to allow some other fishermen room.  The only two fish we kept but gave those away before the day was over. 

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Last of the fishing pictures, look at those smiles. 

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Last morning at Rick’s house before we head to the airport at Anchorage. 

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Some of the views along the way. 

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That’s a field of fireweed on the right. 

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An over look of Anchorage. 

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A few of the cars at the car show, don’t know why we didn’t get a picture of John and Bretta’s ‘55, sorry. 

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That’s Kimmie with the red apron in the background at her first Rainbow booth. 


A couple more random pictures. 

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Thanks enough for now,


Thanks  Chuck