Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Alaska planning and a BIG thank you!

Tentative route for our Alaskan Highway Trip in June.

Fullscreen capture 3122011 100248 AM  It’s been a while since I wrote, and I wanted to take a moment to say a big “Thank You” to everyone who posted helpful websites, blog addresses, and ideas about how we might begin planning our Alaska trip.  I am currently working three weeks in a row, so I can have a few extra work-free weeks for our next trip down south, commencing Saturday March 19th.  In between plugging away with numbers on the NASIS soils database, I have taken some evening time for playing with the Streets and Trips program and trying to get comfortable with the software and the planning process.

Mo traveled the highway in 1974, and I love looking at the old slides.

CrookedRiver CG_AlbertaI am pretty intuitive with computers and software, but still had to fiddle around a bit before I could get much done.  I’m getting better and better as I practice, and actually exported the GPS file for our planned Southern Desert route to my Nuvi Garmin yesterday.  Looks good!  I am excited to give the whole mobile navigation thing a try, especially with the option to navigate without cell phone reception or a computer connection.  I don’t have a wireless card, and in the Canadian part of the Alaska trip especially, it would be irrelevant.  I love Garmin Girl, but the better ability to control and review routes and maps while in motion with a full size computer screen seems like it will be a good thing.  Mo is just shaking her head, asking how I plan to watch the phone, the GPS, and the computer all at once while telling her which way to turn!  LOL

Ranchero CG_Yukon  I had the Alaska trip programmed for “fastest” and our driving speed as slower than average, and couldn’t figure out the route it kept trying to take me through British Columbia.  We definitely want to return via Jasper and Banff, since the weather might be warmer in Late July than mid June in that part of Alberta.  However, until now, I had never heard of the beautiful Highway 37 Stewart-Cassiar route through British Columbia.  After a bit of internet research, we decided to take that way north from Seattle, heading west from Prince George instead of due north to Dawson Creek and Mile 0.  We will see all that on the way back, and our Highway 37 route will intercept the Highway in the vicinity of Laird Springs somewhere.  There is a stretch with 249 miles between gas stations on 37, but just as the AlCan route, most of the road is paved.

The other big thing to think about is how to protect the baby car from rocks.  I saw many options for some kind of gravel protection devices, so that will give Mo something to think about and construct before we head north in mid-June. Even though the highway is almost completely paved, there are still long stretches of gravel, and 90 miles of gravel could do a lot of damage.  I am already looking at the shiny MoHo and thinking about all those dings and chips that will probably be a great reminder of our trip on the mighty Road.

In the mean time, I have actually managed to keep reading most of the blogs that I follow, enjoying everyone’s travels and trying to comment as much as I can.  Although sometimes I do take the option of reading directly from the Google reader and there are no comment options in there, but it sure goes a lot more quickly. 

 Tentative plan for the March Desert Southwest Trip

Fullscreen capture 3122011 100516 AMI am watching the Desert Southwest with particular interest as the temperatures begin to heat up.  Originally we planned to travel in late February, but Mo’s brother had a bit of a serious bout of illness and we wanted to be home if need be.  Brother is doing great, postponed trip is on the calendar for a next Saturday departure, and the desert is heating up fast.  Whew!  We originally thought we could do some great boondocking in the Borrego Springs area, but with our dog and cat, I would imaging that we will need to have electricity for air conditioning to keep the pets cool while we hike some of those great canyons I have been seeing on all the blogs.   We also plan to check out the casinos in Laughlin, and try out a couple of the Army Family Camps near Tucson and at Fort Huachuca where Mo was stationed for a few months while in the Army Reserves.  Of course, there are always family and friends who winter in the southwest that we want to meet along the way as well.

Our trip home will be up a road that is a favorite of ours, Highway 395, and we will boondock in the Alabama Hills where Al and Kelly have been recently.  After reading Al’s blog, I especially want to take the time this year to go to the visitor center at Manzanar and to the Movie Museum in Lone Pine.  We finally decided that we probably didn’t need to take the kayaks to the desert this time.  Sigh.  I thought maybe we could try out the Salton Sea, or Lake Havasu, or drop into Lake Mead for a bit.  But we also didn’t want them to blow off in the high winds I keep reading about, especially it we could only manage a few hours of kayaking, and that only a slim possibility anyway.  We will pop on the bikes, however, I am sure we can use them somewhere!

 Winter view from the hot tub

hot_tub_views (4)On  a final note for this wet, drippy, dirty-snow-piled-up Saturday, I am fiddling some more with the Alaska plans.  Linda and Bob, who traveled the highway and kept a wonderful blog about their travels, suggested we “take it slow” and we plan to do that.  Laurie, who shares fabulous information about camp grounds, and FOOD! among all sorts of other RV’r knowledge, suggested we opt for no reservations and stay spontaneous, so we are doing that as well, but still trying to plan with an idea for how far we can drive in a day and where we might want to stay.  I am looking forward a lot to a possible visit with Laurie and Odel on our way through Sacramento next week to say “Hi, and Goodbye” to Odel’s bad knee one last time before his big new knee adventure!

Streets and Trips does a great job of estimating times and gas costs, although who knows what that will be like in another three months when we actually commence on our journey.

I have read several blogs lately where folks are apologizing for not blogging daily and trying to determine just how important it is to do that.  I do love the daily bloggers, people like Al and Rick and several others who are so committed to great photos and stories and commentary.  I so appreciate gaining readers, but I also want to blog when something is happening, and not try to come up with something just because I blog, or to struggle to make each day “blog worthy”. So, I’ll be quiet at times, when I am working and not much is happening, and then when we are on the road, I’ll write as often as I need to in order to remember what I have been doing!  I’m really not sure how in the world I will begin to blog about our desert trip since half the Canadian population has already photographed and written extensively about most of the places we will be going.  Can I just say “ditto, ditto, and ditto” and link to everyone’s blog?

In the midst of all this lighthearted frivolity, I have to say I have watched the happenings in Japan with fear and awe and prayers for everyone there.  As an earth scientist, well versed in the Cascadia Subduction Zone here in our own Pacific Northwest, I breathe silent prayers for all of us as well.