Skip to content
Advertisements

Posts from the ‘travel’ Category

Travel “Down Time” in 2015

After traveling for three months through seven different countries in Southern Africa, we come home and prepare to hit the road again. I’m talking about those maintenance visits like doctor, dentist, and hardware store.

IMG_5069

A few months later, we hit the road and spend four summer months in remote Haines, Alaska as caretakers of the Bald Eagle Preserve. Although Alaska is not a foreign country for US citizens, it sometimes feels like it. Something about the pristine air and abundant wildlife draws us to Alaska over and over.

Eagle on chilkat

Back home after Alaska, and after several more maintenance visits, we prepare to spend a couple of months in Australia. But first…we need to drum up some travel money.

Tree 1

Enter the Christmas tree…unloading, cutting, drilling, loading back up, cutting again, and eventually tying with twine to the tops of fancy SUV’s in the Scottsdale/Paradise Valley area of Arizona. I even deliver and set-up trees in a few mansions. Anything for a sale. Sometimes we simply place the tree in the backseat of a sporty convertible.

Tree 2

Three solid weeks of bending and lifting takes its toll on our backs, legs, and hands. But we make it through in one piece, with a pocket full of travel cash!

NM

First destination on the road…a stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico in a room with a hot tub! Then we continue our drive across the US for a surprise visit to my parents on Christmas Eve in the village of Mingo Junction, Ohio.

Yellow brick road sign

Let’s take at least one side road, the Yellow Brick Road to the “Land of Oz” where we visit the original house of Dorothy and Toto in Kansas.

Dorothys house

After a fantastic time with my parents in Mingo Jct., we’re off to the city lights of downtown Chicago. Yes, splurge on a room (1/2 price, off-season) downtown in the middle of the Magnificent Mile to start off the new year. Stay tuned…                       Ron Mitchell 

 

 

Advertisements

Travel

“You guys are living the life. You’ve got it made.” Throughout our travels we hear these sentiments from many different folks. We are and we do. We live in a state of appreciation. But why do we love to travel? I don’t know…so I researched “travel,” the word.

An ancient root from the Latin word tripalium means to impale with three stakes, as in torture. Later, the French root travail, or travailen means to torment, labor strenuously, journey, toil and struggle. Hmm…50 Shades of Travel? Perhaps I don’t want to know why we love travel.

Here’s an example of a day in the life of a traveler, which is just as typical as seeing wonderful things and meeting beautiful people:

Mare and I board a 20-hour bus from Livingstone, Zambia to Windhoek, Namibia. The bus gets so full of passengers that there remains no seat for the extra driver. He ends up sleeping below the bus in the luggage compartment.

Being the only white people on board, we get another glimpse of what it feels like to be a minority. Of course, we’re in Africa. The man sitting behind Mare is too huge for the seat. Mare cannot lean her seat back at all. I argue with him a bit, but he’s too huge for that also.

As soon as the bus leaves the station, our backs soak with sweat during this hot, bumpy ride. The road is long and straight, and elephants cross on occasion. An awful movie blares. It begins with white cops chasing and beating up a black thief. Great. Then, it develops into something about cops getting way in to God, and end up practicing loving forgiveness. (Science fiction?)

Four hours later we all disembark to walk about a mile in the hot African sun, between various Immigration and Customs buildings. We swipe our feet on chemically soaked rugs to prevent spread of “hoof and mouth” disease. This practice occurs at least four times during the twenty-hour trip. I begin to look forward to it, to break the monotony.

At the Namibian border, we are screened for Ebola by standing sideways, while a woman shoots a ray gun at each of us. Then we receive a torn piece of cardboard with a number written on it. Apparently, that means we do not have Ebola and can enter Namibia.

Ten hours into the ride, the black of night cloaks the windows. Mare cannot lean her seat back, so falling asleep means that her head drops forward. She lays her head on my lap, and stretches those long legs straight up in the air against the window. Mare sleeps. Lucky devil.

My knees ache. Back still wet with sweat. Neck is tied in knots, and leg where Mare’s head lies is totally numb, but I don’t have the heart to wake her. My ass feels like someone has scrubbed it with sandpaper, and my elbows are rubbed raw from the arm rests. Then, as soon as I close my eyes, the final movie blares louder than any other – “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

The screeching sound of singing chipmunks in the darkness for two hours is surreal. That “Hula Hoop” song stays stuck in my head for days.

Twenty hours later, we arrive in Windhoek. It’s six o’clock in the morning and we can’t check in to the hostel room until noon. We walk the streets, mainly waiting for a “decent” time to have a beer. Time of day matters little at this point. Finally, in the room and out of our clothes, a shower has never felt so good.

The strange thing about “travel” is that we love it. I’m not sure what that says about us, but we live in a state of appreciation for all of life’s experiences. Well maybe not all… sometimes it simply feels good to stop.

Why do we travel? Most often, a pay-off comes with it. In this case, the following day we rent a car for an exhilarating ride on remote gravel roads, and end up in a safari tent at Desert Camp, outside of Namib-Naukluft Park. Unworldly landscape and monstrous dunes blow us away. Perhaps we travel just because we like to see different stuff.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

We’re living the life and we got it made. Thank you, Abundant Universe!  Ron Mitchell

SLOW BOAT THROUGH LAOS ON THE MEKONG RIVER

A slow ride on a long boat through Laos.

Read more

The World Is My Oyster

While we enjoy returning to the lower 48, we’re not quite ready for the rat race. So we scoot over to the Washington coast, and on a whim, stumble upon  a seafood shop – East Point Seafoods. Hoards of fresh oysters hide in their shell and entice us…the price is right at $7.00 per dozen.

“Are there any motels with kitchens around here?” Mare asks.

“Yes, right down the street at the Seaquest,” the lady looks at me. “You’d better buy a shucking knife.” She senses Mare’s passion for oysters.

I purchase my first shucking knife, and head out armed with 2 dozen Kumamoto oysters in search of a motel with a kitchen sink. We have stumbled upon the oyster capital of the world, South Bend, Washington, located along Willapa Bay in Pacific County. We cop the last available room with a kitchen in this small town. We shall shuck and drink, and then drink and shuck.

Several small towns sit among the mud flats and waters of Willapa Bay. Factories harvest freshly farmed oysters by the millions, in fact they provide one out of six oysters consumed in the US. They plant the seed on private intertidal beds and the oysters do the rest with their strange sex life…

All Kumamato oysters are born as males. They release massive amounts of sperm which murk the waters. Many of the males mature into females after mating season. Essentially, they have sex and reproduce quite solo…and I think about how difficult things were, back when I hunted to mate, around 1970 BI (Before Internet). However, I’m glad that I did not turn into a female.

We venture to Longbeach, Washington, where Alaska Jack gets back to the Pacific ocean and dives for rocks and driftwood…then it’s off to a larger seafood shop, “Seasonal Seafoods” where fresh oysters only cost $4.50 per dozen. Here, we stock-up for the remainder of our stay.

Mare runs Jack in the muddy rivers where he dives for oyster shells. Then she wanders around South Bend to capture some photos. Old “Invisible Man” games and eerie dolls crowd the local craft shop “Creepy Beautiful.”

At the Pacific County Courthouse, a probationer tells her, “They should’ve let tweakers steal the copper roof. When they remodeled, they got peanuts for the copper. An insurance claim for theft would’ve given a better price.”

In the morning we purchase two dozen more oysters to go, along with five pounds of steamer clams and two dozen razor clams. We will share the harvest with sister Pat and brother Frank in Portland, where I will use my knife one last time.

Yes, the world is my oyster…more accurately, “The world is whatever I make of it.” I guess it comes as no surprise that Mare is flying to Rome in a few days to join her sister on a two-week Western Mediterranean cruise. I shall stay in Oregon to cat/apartment sit and enjoy quality time with the brother-in-laws at the Springdale and Brass Rail taverns. Or, perhaps I shall hibernate in Pat’s apartment like a bear…or should I say an oyster?

Driving the Alcan Highway

We load the pick-up, put shutters back up on the cabin windows, and take the Alaska State Parks staff out for an appreciation lunch. The plan to stay in Whitehorse, Yukon while our truck gets an oil change and tire rotation takes a twist. After the much-needed maintenance, we head out on the highway and then…thump! The front driver’s side wheel rolls off and into oncoming traffic. The rotor skids along the roadway. We are lucky to not be travelling at 70 mph.

A cop calls the tow truck to take us back to Whitehorse Toyota. The dealership assures us that they will take care of everything. So..they pay for the tow, buy us breakfast, replace the rotor and tighten all the wheels. Then they present us with a check for $1500, the repair estimate for dents. I sign the check, releasing them from liability, and again hit the highway, this time $1500 richer. My truck earns the title of “Babe Magnet II” which is a different story. I have no intention of repairing the dents.

Every little rattle on the truck makes Mare nervous.  Three hundred miles later, through rutted, twisty, muddy roads, we settle down and realize that the wheels probably will remain attached. In the bar at our hotel that night, we learn that heavy rains have closed the Cassiar Highway, so we will stay on the Alcan. Mare relieves some stress by singing karaoke, which makes me wish I was back at the cabin.

The best part of driving the Alcan south of Whitehorse, Yukon runs through the Northern Rockies, from Watson Lake to Fort Nelson. Jack swims in Muncho Lake, while bears, bison, elk and caribou roam the colors of fall.

Finally, we settle in downtown Vancouver, BC where luxury spoils us. We plunge into paradise with a splurge at the Century Plaza Hotel and Spa, courtesy of Whitehorse Toyota Motors.

We enjoy a fun night in a friendly city. A total stranger with whom we converse pays the tab for our drinks. I cannot remember the last time somebody bought me a drink. We stroll to Rodney’s Oyster House and feast on raw oysters. The staff buy us another drink and throw in extra oysters. A woman sitting next to me at the bar says, “You guys look so wholesome.” I tell her that living on fresh fish in Alaska must have some benefits. Then I pay her tab…hey, pay it forward. Two gals sitting next to Mare ask her, “What’s you’re secret for such beautiful skin?”  Although we don’t pay anymore forwards, this re-entry into the rat race proves easier than we had expected.

NFL football games play the entire next day in our room on the 29th floor. Oh yeah babe, bring on the room service. Our final day tomorrow will consist of finding a “Japadog” (very special street vendor hot dogs) followed by a search for sushi. The following morning we shall head for the lower 48 and see what adventures the abundant universe has in store, perhaps along the Oregon Coast.  Click – Ron Mitchell.

Leaving Alaska: White Noise Instead of White Winter

The humming tone in my ears disappears. You know, that “white noise” from olfactory bombardment of electronic devices and big city traffic. In our remote cabin, the music of wind, waterfalls and birdcalls replaces that buzz between my ears.

I sleep to sounds of rain, wind or silence and after one month of living remote, my senses tune in to visual movement in the bush. I love the bush…all bush. (The bikini wax is way over-rated). Hey, being in the bush bring us back to our natural state, in my humble opinion.

Mare, Jack and I must leave before fall changes to winter. Fall kills leaves. Hunters kill a few bull moose, and masses of salmon find their way home to” have sex and die.” (Could that be a bumper sticker?) I would like to stay for the final salmon run, the 12 to 22 pound Coho who come to spawn, but snow in the Northern Rockies could strand us on our drive if we wait too long.

Bear cubs and moose calves prepare for the changing season. Each November, 3500 Bald Eagles converge in Haines to “conference.” Some stay for the winter…but no, not I.

We appreciate the close friends we have made in Haines. Mostly, though, I will miss the fishing…and having coffee on the deck in the morning while watching the surf scoters, those water birds that float daily in the Chilkat Inlet and dive under in sequence.

Mare will miss the bears and flowers and even the thousands of visitors who flock to our deck.

Jack will miss chasing chipmunks, but not as much as diving for rocks and retrieving sticks from the waters.

After sleeping on the floor for four months, with a wet or drying dog, we develop a newfound agility – simply from getting up from bed in the morning, or several times during the night to go outside and pee.

Looking forward to motel luxury along the drive back, the irony of insomnia intrigues us. That white noise of electronics and motors returns. A mattress a few feet above the ground makes us toss and turn. We must adjust, perhaps back to our natural state.

Goodbye Haines. Thank you abundant universe!

Nome, Alaska: Last Chance to Spot Musk Oxen, Kougarok Road

Also called “Beam” or “Taylor” road, the slick mud and gravel twists across colorful tundra and snakes up through the heart of the Kigluaik Mountains. We are sure to spot Musk Ox. These beasts have grown to a population of 2,000 after 70 of them were transplanted here in the last 30 years. Moose, reindeer, caribou and grizzlies could appear as well. We have 73 one-way miles to travel on a tundra blazing with rainbows.

Hunting, fishing and mining shacks sit in this nowhere. Road construction seems the only activity this August. Hard to believe that within 30 days the change in season will blanket the volcanic tundra with ice and snow.

All rental cars in Nome come with 4-wheel drive. We understand why. Especially after turning off on a side road a few miles beyond Salmon Lake. We’re climbing a road on top of black lava rock, which provides a dark contrast for bright flowers. Throw’er into 4-wheel on the way to Pilgrim Hot Springs.

Mare steps easy wearing those sexy water boots, through large puddles in front of the car. She makes sure of no really, really deep holes…could be funny to see her submerge four or five feet.

On the other side of the mountain the terrain transforms to lush forest. Looks like a lovely place for Musk Oxen. We park near a gate, and walk through the trees, surrounded by steaming ponds. A few geologists conduct research here.

“This machine drills 2-inch pipe 200 feet into the ground in 2 hours,” a worker says. We’re hoping to find a geothermal hot spot that could provide electrical power to Nome.”

The path leads to an abandoned church and some dilapidated buildings. The Pilgrim Hot Springs caretaker emerges from a shack. He explains that in the 1800’s a man farmed this land year-round. The boiling waters make it possible. When the farmer died, the Catholic church gained the ground and opened an orphanage for children whose parents were wiped out by the 1918 influenza epidemic. “They cut down all the trees for firewood, but you can see they grew back.”

Hot springs in the tundra? Mosquitoes zoom in on us and I notice a can of bear pepper spray dangling from a worker’s belt. Soon, we spot a platform supporting a steaming metal tub. I strip down, slap bugs, and try to submerge. Too hot! I feel blisters form on the bottom of my feet. Mare snaps a photo of me in my underwear, which will not be published here because it looks like a pathetic Viagra commercial.

We spin four wheels back through the small lakes and continue the quest to the end of the road. We turn around at the anticlimactic end, with one last chance to spot the Musk Ox during the ride back. Although we spot nothing but construction trucks, the tundra’s terrain puts us in a trance. 

Okay, back in town, we ask at the visitor’s center where to find the rogue gold panners? “Down on west beach. Past the containers.  They ran them off of east beach,” says the portly brunette. So we go, manuvering through the town, past cargo docks and around storage containers, through the mud and debris trying to find the beach. Whoopee! Not a gold miner in sight, but a whole herd of the ellusive magnificent beasts. Yes, after driving over 300 miles of tundra, we spot the Musk Oxen  a mile outside of town. They bring us to tears, resembling our deceased dog, “Runt” who had all but the tusks. 

We celebrate in a smoky bar until our eyes can take no more. Let’s take a six-pack, sushi and some spaghetti back to our luxurious room over-looking the Bering Sea.  Ron Mitchell

Fireweed Summer in Haines, Alaska

Epilobium angustifolium…not a “Three Stooges” quote, but a complex name for a simple plant – Fireweed. The edible leaves of this wildflower rejuvenate rapidly after a fire. Flowers bloom from the bottom and signify the end of summer when they reach the top.

So…we are are half-way through our Camp Host tour. More accurately, we serve as “Glacier Viewing Hosts,” since our 35 primitive campsites rarely house more than 10 campers nightly. We appreciate the rough road which discourages RV’s from flocking here.

How has this exodus into the remote changed us thus far, being without comforts, friends or routines?

I would rather fish than shower and do not bring beer along. I’d rather chat with strangers about the beauty of nature than listen to politics. I almost get aroused when spotting a sink with running water. I’m going fishing at four o’clock tomorrow morning, two-hours prior to high tide, instead of getting on the internet.

Jack the dog would rather dunk his head underwater in search of rocks and logs, than bark at the mail carrier, whom I am sure he has forgotten about. He chases squirrels instead of cats. He almost comes when we call. He does not pass gas nearly as much as he used to, but has had two bouts of the runs thanks to treasures he consumes along the shore.

Mare would rather stay in the cabin and greet world travelers with an enthusiastic welcome, than wash her hair. She spends hours taking photos of the same type of tree, or flower or rock formation often testing Jack’s and my patience. Mare rejoices at the promise of new outhouses coming soon, and reminds Jack and I to stay in the present moment. 

We have a day off to explore the Mosquito Lake area, where those single-rocket choppers live-up to the lake’s name. The crisp air in the woods invites a picnic. Eat fast…the hoards of helicopters soon find us within their radar. I do some fishing. Jack chases some rocks and logs. Mare sits on the tailgate watching us with a smile.

Excitement back at the cabin…here come the new outhouses!

These 50,000 pound behemoths cost $50,000 apiece. They travel by barge from Oregon. A cast of cement they are…from floors to walls and formed “shake” rooftops. Everything is made from cement except for the doors and plastic vent pipes. Bouncing down a rustic road, a crane lifts the human waste collectors and precisely places them on top of a cement tank. The crane operator lets her down slowly, careful to drop the weight on a seal of tar atop the tank, meant to keep odors from escaping.

We sit on the deck. Visitors are gone and outhouses in place. We enjoy a nightcap in the midnight sunlight of eleven o’clock. Jack snores at our feet…we enjoy the moment and do not worry about summer’s end.

Atlin Arts & Music Festival

Young boys gather around a picnic table. Two large plastic bottles of Vodka on the tabletop hold their gaze…until they spot Mare and Jack and I backing-up the pickup truck about three feet away from their tent. A sign with an arrow pointing south reads, “Quiet Campground.” A sign with an arrow pointing the other direction reads, “Not So Quiet Campground.” We slip into the ambiguous border, like back in time when the smoking section on a commercial airplane ended at aisle eighteen.

“This place is already full,” a man camping on the other side of us says. He’s about my age, but camping with a group of young children. I wonder how he will deal with the obscenities spewing from the young boys next door. The man continues, “You should be okay in that spot. Just leave room for folks to walk through.” He points to a strip of mowed grass that separates a patch of weeds from another crowded campground, perhaps the quiet one?

Sixty-miles off of the Alcan Highway, a twisty gravel road with constant summertime construction leads to Atlin, British Columbia. The lone road also leads back out. This town of 400 population thrived during the gold rush of 1898. Now, it survives as a destination point that sits along the largest natural lake in British Columbia, Canada.

The Atlin Arts & Music Festival is back, after a one-year absence. (Annual event since 2003) Pets are strongly discouraged, and no amplified music will be permitted in the campgrounds. Acoustic jams are okay…ahem, heavy metal blares from the boys next to us, while dogs roam freely.

We lock Jack the dog in the back, (where we will also sleep for the next two nights) and head for the music venue. A band called, “Home Sweet Home” from Whitehorse, Yukon performs fiddle music with two fiddlers and one guitarist. Nice. Next up is “Headwater” who strum fiddles, acoustic bass and ukeleles for a toe-tapping crowd. This band earns a billing in the program as “a fine, old-fashioned acoustic quartet from Vancouver who works their asses off.”

Back at not-so-quiet-camp we find our coach hemmed-in…behind us two women (one whom I recognize from a laundromat in Haines) pitch a tent which blocks the “walk-through.” In front of us a man finishes building a picnic table with a chain saw. He walks toward me. “Hello, I’m Wally.” We shake hands. He resembles Crocodile Dundee with a hat and no shirt. 

“Ron, you and Marilynn are cool neighbors.” He grabs two beers from the cooler and hands them  to us. “Don’t make any plans for dinner tomorrow night. I’m cooking a sockeye on genuine Yukon logs.” I thank him. He talks as he pitches his tent. “The first time I tried to set up this tent I was at a Grateful Dead concert in Buffalo. I did some acid and couldn’t figure it out, so ended up using it as a sleeping bag.”

The nineteen-year-olds next to us get me high. Soon, Mare and Jack and I sit back and absorb the atmosphere. Wally yells from his chair, “Ron! Hey Ron, make sure to eat some sockeye with me tomorrow.” I thow him a thumbs-up.

The nineteen-year-olds now drink Rum from the bottle and a few women join them. They get me high again. One guy climbs under the truck cap and cuddles with Jack and Mare, who is not quite sure what to make of it. A light darkness descends.

Before I know it, I am shirtless and nineteen-year-olds line up to take turns punching my stomach. (Abs of flab become abs of steel after a buzz) Thankfully, they know not the art of throwing a punch, and they are drunk. They get me high. I have to go to bed. Still, they stick their heads into the back of our truck. “We want to be cool like you guys when we get old.” I hand them my notepad and tell them to write something that I can read in the morning. When I looked at it later, all they did was draw penises and Chinese Dragons swallowing babies.

We wake to the sound of nineteen-year-olds retching. They look as horrible as they feel. On the other hand, I feel better than I deserve. Mare and I try our best to avoid the horrendous, (4) outhouses on the crowded grounds. Mare wins that battle.

After some coffee and scrambled eggs, we shoe to the venue and witness “Laughing Yoga.”Yes, widen your mouth, stick out your tongue as far as you can, and laugh powerfully from deep within your belly. Do this for fifteen minutes.

Back at camp, we sit behind the truck where weeds smell like puke. “Ron!” Wally yells. “Sockeye at six o’clock.” He waves us over for a beer.

I like the CD you’re playing, Wally.”

He pulls it from the player. “It’s your’s. Keep it.”

“I didn’t mean”…he interrupts.”No, you love it more than I do.” Wally tells us a story about his best friend. A woman liked his friend’s shirt, so the friend took it off and asked her to trade shirts. She said that her shirt only cost about five bucks. His was crafted while he was in Tibet. He gave her the shirt because she loved it more than he did. “Ron, I don’t want to get too attached to material things.”

Mare, Jack and I walk to the waters of Atlin Lake. Jack dunks under and retrieves rocks, while Mare and I share beers with two bush pilots. They tell stories of falling through thin ice and into the Yukon river, lucky to survive. One pilot is from Arizona. 

Soon, we eat sockeye with Wally and about fifteen other people. Shawn, his camping buddy, rips apart cardboard from a 12-pack, and makes plates and utensils with it. Elbow macaroni in tomato sauce compliments the dish, along with desert brownies brought by others. We bring wine. What a great dinner. What awesome folks. This crowded get-along-well-with-others spews love, like a Canadian Woodstock.

Back at the music venue, jazzy, energetic trumpets, accordions and guitars from “Maria in the Shower” blow us away. One musician plays accordion with one hand, and holds a trumpet to his lips with the other. Afterwards, we sit cross-legged in the front row where Tom Jackson incites our tears with his touching lyrics and baritone, country voice.

Wally appears in the beer garden. I notice that he actually owns a shirt. We hug like long, lost friends. He wants to buy us a beer, but we are worn and want to head back. A group of folks party the entire night at Wally’s site, but Wally is in bed, like us. We wake again in the morning to the sound of nineteen-year-olds retching. Time to hit the road, so we snake the truck through the tents. However, I could not bear to leave before placing my business card on Wally’s windshield.

A woman from the all-night party group sticks her head in Mare’s window. “Are you okay? Did we bother you too much last night?”

“No, not at all.” I grab her hand and kiss the top of it. Then I become aware that she had just emerged from the outhouse.

Independence Day in Haines, Alaska

We always wanted to be in a parade

Alaska Jack jumps into the back of Ranger Preston’s pick-up truck. Preston dresses in full gear. Mare, Shannon, Jenny and her dog Quark, join Jack and I in the back. Jordan stands off to the side. Preston turns on the sirens and police lights. We’re off…riding through Haines’s main streets in our Alaska State Parks float, for the 4th of July parade. We throw candy to children, dogs, and adults who line the streets.  I wing some hard pieces of candy at a few cops.

After the parade, we sit in the park and eat grilled hamburgers and brats. When is the last time you sat on the park grass, relaxed, and ate amongst a friendly crowd? We have nowhere special to go. Wait a minute…the mud-volleyball tournament begins.  We walk through bubbles, courtesy of Mr. Bubbles from Sesame Street, who now resides in Haines. Those kids make enough  bubbles to wake Lawrence Welk.

A young man stomps away from the “Nail and Spike Hammering Competition.” He looks at me with a scowl. “Those damn Alaskan women win every year.”

We take Jack back to the cabin. The fireworks do not begin until after eleven o’clock, when it sort of gets dark. Mare and I decide to make our own fireworks.

I go fishing the next morning. Like a gambler in Vegas, I keep casting…one more time…okay, a few more times…that big one is due to hit me. I catch nothing. This day, the sockeye wins. Or, should I say that the house wins? The Chilkoot river stole another lure from me. So…we eat pizza tonight. The Klondike restaurant at the southeast Alaska fairgrounds, places us back into good luck. Steve, the chef, gives us some sockeye belly meat sautéed in curry. He has just enough sockeye left to substitute it in place of bacon, topping our pesto and sliced potato pizza.

Load-up the truck pretty mama, because we’re going camping…yes, we get a week-end get-a-way.  Driving along the Haines Highway, we spot moose, eagles, bears, foxes and a wolf. Mountains, hills and lakes surround this drive known locally as “The Golden Circle.”

We cop a motel room in Whitehorse, Yukon. Mare takes advantage of the grooming opportunities. This marks her first grooming in two months! Wow…electricity and running water prove to be “Conde Nest” style. After hours of luxuriating, like a wolf after a rain, we take who is now transformed into “Yukon Jack,” on a walk along the Yukon river. Then, we dine at the “Klondike Rib and Salmon Bake” where barbecue ribs and baked halibut throw us into hedonism.

Three beds sit in our room…Jack sleeps on one, Mare on another, and me on the other. The television plays, “Criminal Minds,” making feel like we’re back in Phoenix. Stay tuned folks…we’re on our way to Atlin, BC…for a weekend music festival where we will sleep in the back of our truck for this Canadian-style, Woodstock experience.