It Was A Hot One

Steve has been working around the clock lately, in town and out of town.  He was thankfully able to take the 4th of July off, so we packed up the trailer and headed out to our newly acquired property.  We were looking forward to getting away from Anchorage and all the Pongo-frightening, firework mayhem that comes with the 4th of July.

The day before we headed up, we had our driveway improved: cleared of brush, leveled and a circular drive built around the dry cabin for easy in and out of the trailer.  There’s a lot of dirt right now but that just means more planting fun!

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What is so nice about spending time at the property is Pongo gets to romp and roam (within eye-sight).  He loves it and all the ball playing that comes with having more space.

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What we weren’t expecting though was the HEAT.  I LOVE the heat but unfortunately, my boys don’t tolerate it very well.

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There was a lot of shade seeking…

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…and trips to the creek to cool off.

DSC_0047 DSC_0044 DSC_0054 DSC_0059 DSC_0062We were lucky enough to have Mt. McKinley out in its majestic glory two out of our three days up at the property.

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We had an amazing time, and Pongo and I feel very fortunate to have some Papa time before he gets really busy again!

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Winding Down and Gearing Up

If you listen closely enough, you may be able to hear the wails of a grieving school counselor.  Summer is coming to a close.  I can’t complain though because we were blessed with a summer like there’s been no other: sun and temperatures in the 70s, sometimes 80s.  And not just one or two days but day, after day, after day.  It was spectacular!

Besides celebrating an amazing summer, Steve and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary at the beginning of August.  To ring in our ten year anniversary, we thought it would be fun to pack up the camper, along with Pongo and hit the road for a 750 mile trip to Haines, Alaska and the Southeast State Fair.

We took our time getting to Haines, which is something very different for us because driving the Al-Can for us always seems to be a hurried death march with deadlines to meet.  Taking our time meant we could stop and explore places we had never explored, like Dezadeash Lake in the Yukon Territory.

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Pongo was more than happy to get out, stretch his legs and cool off with a swim in the lake.

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After a two and a half day journey, we finally made it to Haines, a.k.a Dog City.  We weren’t anticipating everybody in Southeast Alaska attending the state fair.  But, that appeared to be the case and low and behold, so did their dogs.  Why not bring your dog when it’s just a short ferry ride from where you live?

We camped at the Haines Hitch Up RV Park, which is a well-run and well-maintained RV Park but hell for a D.I.N.O.S.  Our space was right in front of the dog walk area, with no option to move.

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It was a test of patience managing our dog, who needs a very wide berth of space and clueless people who don’t understand, or maybe even know, that there are some dogs who need space.  I think Pongo probably gained about 5 pounds with all the treats we used to distract him while dogs walked by!

We tried to get out as much as possible-trying to find areas where Pongo could get out and play without running into other dogs.  This was very difficult as the population of Haines probably doubled in the two-legged population and positively tripled in the four-legged population because of the state fair.DSC_0079 DSC_0074 DSC_0082 DSC_0070

While down in Haines, we were also on the hunt for bears.  Haines has a lot of bears and Steve ran across two last year, while working on a job.  I wanted so desperately to see a bear (from the truck) and every day we would drive the route where Steve saw his two bears.

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Did we ever see a bear?  Nope.  And along with that, we didn’t see a single piece of wildlife the whole ten days we were out!  I was so disappointed!  Despite the lack of wildlife, we had a wonderful time camping and exploring Alaska, while celebrating ten incredible years together.

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Our extremely peaceful campsite, in comparison to our site in Haines, at the Sourdough Campground in Tok, Alaska.

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Pongo’s first taste of raspberries.

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Matanuska Glacier

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Now, it’s time to get back into school mode and get ourselves prepared for the Nose Work 2 trial coming up in September.  We’re hitting the nose work practice hard in order to redeem ourselves from the Nose Work 2 trial last May.  Pongo will by-pass the buttered wheat toast this time!

A Quiltmaker’s Gift

“Is there anything you want?” my Mom asks, as we walk through a quilt shop during our Seattle visit in May.

That is a dangerous question to be asking as we are surrounded by hundreds of beautiful fabrics.  Ideas start racing through my head and there it is…a quilt for the camper!

We’ve been using an alternative down comforter with a duvet the past two seasons.  I’ve come to realize what a pain-in-the-you-know-what it is to have to wash it every time we return from a trip because we have a very hairy dog, who insists he has to sleep on the 48×78 bed with Mama and Papa.  Having something easy to throw in the wash and place back on the bed would be heavenly!

Mom asks what kind of pattern I might like and what kind of color palettes I’m interested in. Now, the Libra comes out in me: I’m overwhelmed with all the decisions and the hundreds of fabrics to choose from.  I know I want to stick with oranges to match the pillow covers we already have but besides that, I have NO idea.  After looking around, it hit me that I knew exactly what I wanted.  I pulled up a picture on my phone and showed Mom; she laughed out loud but didn’t seem too surprised.  It was a picture of the quilt she had made for the upcoming Friends of Pets Quilt Auction in October.

IMG_0200This pattern was perfect!  Now, I only needed to find material in the color scheme I wanted for the trailer.  After spending several hours in the quilt shop, I think I had found material that would come together to make a fun and visually interesting quilt for the trailer.

I love that my Mom was willing to put the pedal to the metal in order to get the quilt done before Steve and I head out for our next trip to Haines.  She completed it in record time and when I opened the box that arrived yesterday, my heart filled with love and joy.  I knew a lot of love and hard work was put into this beautiful quilt.

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                                  Many, many thanks to my creative and generous Mom                                    because every Airstream needs a Cattle Dog quilt!

Come Rain or Come Shine

Last Wednesday, we packed up our Airstream and a 28 foot RV rental and headed down to the Kenai with my parents and Uncle in hopes of finding some sun and some fish.  I had this trip planned out months ago: we would spend two nights at the Russian River, two nights in Kasilof and one night at Williwaw campground.

I have always avoided the Russian River Campground because of the crazy stories you hear about the bears.  They haze people fishing in hopes of a free meal and are often seen roaming the campground.  That’s a little too close for comfort for me but we decided to take the plunge, along with lots of bear spray, and give the campground a try. The last time I was there, 16 years ago, it was gravel roads and pretty primitive camping. We were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the campground was and all the improvements they have made: asphalt campsites, nice restroom facilities, bear-proof food containers at every site, and a beautiful boardwalk down by the river that had numerous access points along the river.  We were also blessed with 2 days of sun and hot, yes I said hot, weather.

Unfortunately, the fishing wasn’t so great on the Russian River by our campground so we dropped Dad and Uncle Art off at the Russian River Ferry to try their luck there.

While they were fishing at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers, Mom, Steve, Pongo and I went to explore Skilak Lake Road.  It was so hot (trust me, I’m not complaining!) that we decided to stop and let Pongo cool off in a lake by the road.

We still had a couple hours to kill before we needed to pick up the fishermen, so we hiked up Bear Mountain, a 1.6 mile hike roundtrip.  It was a beautiful hike with spectacular views!

Here’s Pongo completely pooped after his swimming and hiking adventures; he isn’t too pleased Mama is taking his picture.

Dad and Uncle Art had absolutely no luck snagging salmon at the Russian River Ferry; they didn’t give up though and tried again the next morning, before we headed down to Kasilof. After 3 hours of fishing the Kenai River off of Skilak Lake Road, they came back with 3 beautiful Red Salmon (unfortunately, I don’t have a picture).

We traveled the hour down to Kasilof, after Dad and Uncle Art’s successful fishing excursion, where we spent two nights at Kasilof RV Park.  It was our home base for Halibut fishing and touring around Homer.  The rain decided to return, after two and a half days of gorgeousness, and it never stopped.  Dad and Uncle Art went on a full-day Halibut charter and shipped back to Nebraska 40 pounds of Halibut they caught.

And while they were out fishing, Mom, Steve, Pongo and I traipsed around Homer.

We ate brunch at one of Steve’s favorite eateries in Homer, the Duncan House Diner. They really know how to do breakfast!

Our last stop of the five day trip was at Williwaw Campground, just outside of Portage.  We walked the trails during the brief break in the rain and played a lot of dominoes when it was really coming down.

Overall, come rain or come shine, we had a fabulous family trip! 

Savage River

What Steve and I are slowly realizing is that there aren’t many more weekends available to get out and camp.  Summer is quickly flying by and before we know it, our trailer will need to be Winterized and put back into storage (sigh).  Alaska’s camping season is so darn short, and we are trying our best to make the most out of the time we have to enjoy our trailer and explore the great outdoors.

This past weekend Steve and I went camping in Denali National Park at the Savage River Campground, with some friends of ours and their two girls.  We left Friday evening, after Steve got off of work, for the four and a half hour drive up North.  We hit rush hour.  We hit construction.  We drove through a torrential downpour that had the possibilities of hail but thankfully the storm did not release it’s full fury on us.  We were really pushing it as check-in at Riley Creek Mercantile is no later than 11:00 PM.  We pulled in at 10:30 PM to this beautiful scene.

After we checked-in, we had another 13 miles to drive to reach Savage River Campground.  We found the last two spots available, set-up, got the girls to bed, and poured a much needed drink after the stress of driving.  I am always amazed by the differences in light as you travel through Alaska; the farther North you go, the lighter it stays.  This picture was taken around 1:00 AM (with no flash).

It ended up being a late night for all of us, especially Pongo who had spent all day at daycare while Mama prepared the trailer and food for our trip.  He was overly tired and beyond CRAZY!

The next day we explored down by the Savage River.

Here’s Steve photo-bombing Jenn and Matt’s family photo (don’t worry-I got the perfect Christmas card photo for them, minus my goofy husband).

We knew that it might be a little difficult for Pongo when we made reservations, as there are some pretty strict rules pet owners must follow when bringing their pets into the park: dogs are not allowed on any of the trails.  You can walk your pets around the campground loops and along the road.  He adapted though and enjoyed the places he could go.

Walking along the main park road, which was heaven…no other dogs for miles.

Pongo enjoyed using the well more than his bowl.

What we found was most of the A campsites (for RVs and tents between 30-40′) at Savage River were uneven and you had to do some leveling.  Our campsite 32A had some pretty incredible views and had some great sun exposure, when it was shining.

We were excited to see our campground host living in an Airstream.

A sight-seeing plane taking off near the park entrance.

As always, the weekend went by way too fast but it was great to get out with friends who we hadn’t seen for awhile.   We will definitely be visiting Savage River Campground again next year to do some more exploring.

Bringing Her Home

It’s been seven long months since we’ve last seen her.  I’ve often thought about her…wondering if she was safe and yearning to have her back in our company because that signals Summer is finally approaching.

Each year, the Alaska State Fairgrounds in Palmer has a Winter Storage Program for campers, RVs, trailers, boats, etc.  It truly is a bargain to store your recreational vehicle at the State Fairgrounds.  The going rate for covered storage here in Anchorage is about $150/month, which is outrageous!  We paid $400 for seven months!  While the buildings are not heated, they do provide cover from the elements and that was most important to us.  I can’t even imagine what it would have been like trying to store the Airstream in our tiny driveway, with the record amounts of snow we had. It would have been a nightmare to say the least!  So, we were very thankful when we received a call from the State Fairgrounds letting us know we had a space reserved, in the Farm Exhibit building, for the Airstream this Winter.

Dropping Off The Airstream In October

(Steve’s incredible parking job)

Friday was the day for us to head out to Palmer to pick up the Airstream.  But before we could bring her home, the driveway and yard needed a good Spring cleaning.  I spent 2 1/2 hours shoveling, sweeping, raking, and bagging old Winter debris.  Reid enjoyed being outside in the sunshine and playing with her ball, while I worked.

And, here’s the Airstream waiting for her ride home.  She was rather dirty but looked like she had fared the Winter well.

(Pongo got to come along for the ride.  Although it doesn’t look like it here, he was a happy boy!)

Labor Day Weekend

Sadly, Summer is quickly coming to an end.  We are moving into our split-second Fall and then onto our never-ending Winter. We decided to take advantage of the long weekend by packing up the trailer and the dogs, and head down to Discovery Campground in Captain Cook State Park.

It was a weekend full of…

catching up on our pleasure reading, 

walking along the beach with the dogs,

napping,

and just plain relaxing, which is what both of us needed the most.

We even tried to go for a hike but as you can see…that was quickly thwarted by fresh bear scat on the trail!  

Road Trip!

It’s been one week since we returned from our road trip down the ALCAN.  We drove from Anchorage to Seattle to Eugene, OR to Seattle and then back to Anchorage.  Over 6,000 miles total and all in 15 1/2 days!  It was a whirlwind of a trip but a fun way to visit family and spend some time exploring.

Pongo came along with us and did surprising well for being in the car so long.  He made himself comfortable in the backseat of the truck and entertained himself for hours looking and most importantly sniffing out the window.

I can’t believe for all the time we spent in the car, and the time we had on our hands while driving, we took very few pictures?!?  Some of the wildlife we saw on our way down and back up included: bears (over 10 black bears and maybe 1 grizzly-hard to tell she was pretty mangy looking), bison herds, elk, caribou, moose, a wolverine, rabbits, coyotes, deer, and Stone Goats.

While in Oregon, it was hot…a lot hotter than us Alaskans are used to: 85+ degrees.  I loved it but both Steve and Pongo were melting.  In order to cool off, Pongo enjoyed some time romping in rivers and in the ocean on the Oregon coast.

We were anxious to get home, once we started back to Alaska but did take some time to stop and enjoy the scenery, stretch our legs, and let the ol’ behinds recuperate.