The Wrangells from Lake Louise

The Wrangells  from Lake Louise

Saturday, April 26, 2008

snow gos it

On Sunday Heidi and I went for a walk it was nice weather
On Monday Patience and I went for a six mile hike as you can see it was tea shirt weather
On Friday it got cold and snowed twenty inches

Talking wolf

Talking Wolf
Joe called a few days after we got back from the rabbit hunt and said that he would like to do some big game hunting before he went off to school for the Air Force reserves. All that’s left this time of year is spring black bear. We talked and looked over maps, and decided that with the limited time we had, the best place would be a day trip to Point Mackenzie.
I picked Joe up at six AM and we drove as close to a spot I found several years ago as we could get. I thought that this was the most likely place to find a bear this early, since it’s a bear den. I found it while moose hunting in the fall years ago, at that time there was old bear scat and tracks all around it, an obvious sign that a bear had wintered there that year. I was hoping that a bear had used it for its winter nap this year. All of this I didn’t tell Joe, I was planning it as a surprise. Well, actually I knew that if his wife Karen found out, that I was going to have him crawl in a bear den she wouldn’t let him go. She would lock Joe in a small room and never let him out to play with me. Then she would tell my wife, who would lock me a room.
It was only twenty degrees when we arrived at Point Mackenzie. After a warm day the day before the cool morning made the snow hard and easy to drive on. So I cruised off the road down a trail with relative ease until I got to a spot that I thought I had better park at, as when it warms up it might be hard to drive out.
Joe and I loaded our hunting packs and started walking down an old deserted road that went over a swamp. The cold weather made for loud walking as our feet crunched through the frozen surface. Joe and I thought that we could walk quieter if we got off the road and onto the swamp. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the sun to rise over the rugged Chugach Mountains and start melting the ice and snow; soon our feet were falling through the ice into freezing cold water. We made a beeline to the road; for we didn’t want to soak our boots with freezing water this early in the day.
Soon we got to a large gravel pad which was the end of the road. Elevated over the surrounding swamp a few feet, it made for a good spot to stop and scope out our flat desolate surroundings. Joe marked the spot on his GPS and found that we were about one mile from the car. He then asked where we were going. I pointed to a small knoll of black spruce sticking up on the other side of the swamp a mile away and said,” over there and it’s a good thing you bought your 44 MAG”.
Joe asked. “Why?”
I said, “Because on the top of that knoll there’s a bear den I found a few years a go. Since I’m too big to crawl in and look for the bear you will have to do it”.
Joe thought for a short time then told me, “It would be perfectly fine with me, if you borrowed my hand gun just long enough to crawl in and look and if you want you can even use my head lamp in there.”
“Well”, I said,” That’s something I will have to think about while you walk over there with it strapped to your shoulder”.
We then started walking across the swamp. With each step we could feel the muskeg sag under our feet and when we walked on ice ominous popping and creaking sounds were heard. Joe kept telling me that the trip back was going to be a wet one after the sun warms the ground. As we reached the far side of the swamp it was too late, the heat of the day had already warmed the thin icy surface and as we took steps our feet crunched through and into chilly water. Joe, in his Red Wings was fine. But mine in my Sports Authority specials were soaked. It’s a good thing that I try to leave the house prepared as I had two extra pairs of socks in my back pack and extra shoes in the car.
We reached the other side of the swamp and I motioned to Joe that it was time to be quiet. We crept through the trees and turned left up a small hill. I softly told Joe,” I think we’re getting close to the spot”. We slowed our pace to a mere crawl, our hearts started to pound and our palms started to sweat. When we reached the top of the hill I looked down to my left and there it was a small hole in the ground only about ten inches in diameter. The den looked much smaller than I recalled, and with the exception of some indiscernible, melted, wind blown old tracks that went inside, but never came out, the place looked deserted. I whispered to Joe, “get your gun out and crawl in”. I was being facetious, as the area looked void of life.
There was a lone screech from a squirrel in a tree near by, Joe had a grimace on his face and was about to respond, when we heard something move in the woods around us. At first the brush swished with the sound of motion in front of us, then the noise of something crossing the trail at the bottom of the hill, after that something moved behind us. Joe and I quickly loaded our guns and we stood stone cold, not saying a word.
After a few seconds Joe said,”that’s the biggest squirrel I’ve ever heard.”
I said, “I don’t think that was a moose or a bear and if it’s not a prehistoric rodent than it must be a dog of some sorts”.
Joe and I talked for a bit and decided that we should walk farther down the trail away from that spot. When we got to the other side of the knoll we noticed two sets of fresh wolf track. One small set that crossed the trail and disappeared into the thick black timber and one that paralleled the trail for a bit then disappeared into the forest. Joe and I stopped to investigate them for a bit when we heard the lone mournful howl of a wolf; it was quickly followed by a higher howl in the distance. They howled back and forth for awhile then stopped. I asked Joe if I should howl back, he said no.
Soon after they stopped Joe and I decided to continue down the trail. One of the purposes of this trip was to find a good spot to put a possible bear stand next year and a location to do some predator calling for next season. We walked on talking quietly to one another how we would build the station, were we would place it, if we would use a stand made from trees or use a tri pod, put it up high or use a ground blind. We had walked a quarter mile or so when we heard the wolf howl again. We ceased movement and listened to our surroundings. We could tell that it was coming from the thickets next to us. Joe motioned that we should walk in there to look and listen some more.
The walking was harder now than it was earlier in the day. The crust on the surface had melted. We sunk to our knees as we walked over logs and other debris. We soon got to the other side of the thicket and to another swamp. We took a break so Joe could check his GPS and as he did so we heard the deep lonely howl of the alpha male. We were sure this was the big male as it had a deeper louder howl than the one that was off in the distance earlier in the day. This time I thought that I should try to howl back. After a few howls the dog called back so I did it a few more times and it called back again. Joe thought that we could get a little closer if we walked through the next set of trees in a south east direction. After a few more minuets of walking we got to another clearing. I howled again and it answered back right away.
This time we could tell that it was right next to us. I motioned to Joe that we should walk to the opposite edge of the clearing and sit. We stationed ourselves behind some black spruce to help camouflage us. I knelt down and howled, it took a few seconds for the dog to respond. Then I got the idea that I should try my best hare in distress call. I’ve only heard one on my computer game but thought that it was worth a try. I gave a sound that echoed through the woods like a stuck pig. Soon the wolf responded even louder than before. I shifted from a howl to a snow shoe hare in distress and after each cycle the wolf would communicate with a loud deep mournful howl followed by a few screechy yaps.
After we communed back and forth for a while the dog’s response slowed. I asked Joe if he thought that it was over and he said to try a few more time so I did. Soon the animal talked back, this time it was down wind of us. I did a rabbit call and it called back I responded but then nothing, it caught our scent and the forest became void of life once more.
Joe and I did a loop through the woods. We crossed a creek, followed an old tractor trail and eventually made our way back to where we started. As we walked we found the spot where the alpha male caught our scent and left. When we got near the den we inspected what looked like the tracks of two pups a bitch and the alpha male.
When Joe and I found our way back to the swamp and crossed to the old road the heat of the day was over whelming, we had to strip to our long sleeve shirts to stay comfortable. The swamp melted and my feet were soaked to the bone, I figured the heck with it and plunged into the soggy tundra with no regard for my feet. Joe on the other hand was still dry and chose to tip toe around all the puddles. Unfortunately, when we got to the other side his feet were wet also. The last mile down the old road was the hardest to walk as our feet sunk in the snow and we were hot. When we got back to the car Joe broke out an MRE. He said the meal ready to eat was great. From the look and smell of it I think I found the thing to use in the bait station next year. On the way back we stopped at the Point Mackenzie café and got a Buffalo burger, it made for a great ending to the day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hear are some pics that I took this week


I spent all week talking Heidi into letting me spend the night with Louise. It was a long drive but I finely got to her neck of the woods. I spent all of Saturday drilling her and all evening spooning her but all she would give up was this nice Burbot and a few Lakers the largest of which was twenty five inches. I’m talking Lake Louise you sick people.
My friend Dave, his son Dave and I went out there on Friday night. We stayed at the Lake Louise Lodge which is a nice place, I would recommend. We got up early Saturday and walked out to the islands a mile away. We fished in all depths from 6 to 25 feet. We caught fish in every hole and with each jig and bait we used but only one fish. It was slow but that’s whet I expect when fishing a lake the size of Louise.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

March 7 It’s been busy since I got back. I was introduced to leaky water pipes so I took Friday off so I could take down the ceiling panel and a part of the wall behind the bookshelf. I found that water had leaked on the TV and stereo in my room. In order to get them out I had to move my bed, so I could pull the piano out, so I could take out my dresser. That way I could fit the TV through the door. It wasn’t an easy fix; the people that built the house put all the pipes along studs and door frames. I had a friend who is a licensed plumber help me fix it, he said that when he first started plumbing he would have quit if something was this hard.

March 8 On Saturday I went ice fishing, it was slow. I caught three fish in ten hours of fishing, but it was nice to be outside. I brought the fish home, made mushroom stuffing and baked them, they where so good that even Heidi ate some.

March 15 On Saturday Joe and I went out rabbit hunting. Joe had a tough time acclimating to the weather; he thought that since it was only six degrees he would have to bundle up. After walking he started to sweat, had to take it all off and carry it in his bag. This wouldn’t have been a big deal if there weren’t so many rabbits. We found 18, since Joe’s bag was full of his clothes I had to pack them all. It was fun, although Joe has been gone from Alaska for a long time, he was able to find those white hairs in the white snow against the white mountains in front of the white clouds. Joe said that it was too cold for him to clean them outside so we took them to dad’s house. You should have seen the look on dad’s face when we brought eighty pounds of Snowshoe Hare into clean. Mom and dad finally got so upset they left, said they wouldn’t be back until it looked like it did when we got there. Joe and I spent a long time cleaning the animals then cleaning the kitchen but by ten o’clock and gallons of mom’s bleach it was clean.

March 22 We had a family get together at Alan’s house for Easter and for all the birthdays in the family. We talked, played some games, and watched a few movies. I took the tender loins from the rabbits, braised them and cooked them in Alaskan amber ale, then made a
sauce; they tasted great; those that ate them liked them.

March 29 Heidi and I took the dog to Denali state park to snowshoe around. I parked at Hurricane Gulch then we snowshoe up the mountains east of the road. It was great exercise going through waist deep snow that’s for sure. We wound our way up to where Hurricane Gulch comes out of the mountains then went to a power line and followed it for a while. I, of course, took my shotgun hoping to see some ptarmigan. Unfortunately, Chai saw some first; she scared them up from behind some brush. Ptarmigan don’t fly high so I couldn’t get a shot off through the trees. At times like that it would be nice to have a pointer instead of a retriever. As we were going down the power line I saw some more in the brush below us I asked Heidi to hold the dog and I would see if I could get one. The birds were jumpy so I couldn’t get with in fifty yards before they would fly. I tried a few long shots but missed.

April 5 Some people thought that spring was here as it was in the forties and fifties for a few weeks and almost all the snow was gone. But, we were reminded that this is Alaska as it snowed all day Saturday and Saturday night now we have six fresh inches. Joe, Karen, Heidi Diane, Jonathan and I went to the sportsmen’s show. I got a back pack, Heidi got some scented oils, and Diane got a pocket knife. After we were through we went to Home Depot to get some things to fix the sealing. Later that evening we took the kids home then Joe, Karin, me and Heidi went to eat, it was nice go out with my wife.

Day 9&10

Day 9&10
We slept great that night, so good that we were slow to wake the next morning. We got some breakfast from the food court at the hotel, where there was a continental meal. After we finished we got on the road. The highway slowly wound its way up through narrow canyons, into the Rockies’s Stone Mountain Provincial Park and opened to some amazing panoramic views. We saw lots of wildlife such as buffalo & elk. I was hoping to see some Stone Sheep but we weren’t so lucky. We stopped at Muncho Lake to take some photos of the lake and surrounding mountains. Then we drove for a few more hours and stopped at Liard Hot springs for a dip. The actual hot springs is a one mile hike on a board walk from the parking lot. The walk goes over a wetland that is ice free, even in winter. The water was clear and I could see little fish and aquatic plants. There are changing rooms and restrooms at the springs. The water comes out of the hill and into a man made pool that is the temperature of a hot bath; it has a nice gravel bottom. We swam and relaxed for several hours then Alan said that he was going up to a higher pool. He came back and said that it looked nice and he was thinking that it would be fun to swim in. Joe and I did not want to change our clothes so we wrapped our towels around us, and walked on up. The trail had a gate across it and it wasn’t shoveled, but we could see tracks indicating its use. This pond bubbled up from the middle and there was a sign that said it was nine feet deep in the center. Alan, who had changed his clothes to walk up and check it out, now had frozen shorts. He said that he was going to throw them in, strip, jump in, and put them on, which he did. I thought for sure that someone would come up the hill while he was doing it but he lucked out. We relaxed for a while then we got the idea that we should jump out roll around in the snow then jump back in the water. Alan put the Camcorder on the board walk and filmed us jumping back in. It was quite the feeling, my knees and elbows were on fire. We agreed after that that since the sun was setting we should get back on the road, so we changed and ran for the van. Joe drove while we looked at Buffalo and the setting sun. Unfortunately, we were back to driving with the ‘awesome’ head lights that illuminated the road for a few feet in front of us but not much more. We were nearly in a hypnotic night time driving state when we saw a blur streak by. At first we weren’t sure what it was then it cut right in front of the truck inches from the bumper running as fast as it could get its long legs to go. We could see it clearly in the head lights now that we were almost on top of it, a huge gray wolf. As its back was over the top of the hood this wolf was a good four feet tall. It quickly cut off to the shoulder and disappeared into the darkness. We drove on to Watson Lake where we stopped for gas and a trucker told us that up the road 40 clicks there was a herd of caribou. I hoped back in as driver and looked as hard as I could, but I did not see any caribou. The road was flat and clear for the most part I was able to make good time. I drove for what seemed like forever until we got to White Horse, where we stopped for a meal. I was surprised at the size of the town, it was as big as Eagle River, but there was not a 24 hr restaurant except for a Subway type fast food joint. It was two AM when we left there and got gas. Alan got back on the road and drove for a while, I fell asleep in the passenger seat and Joe jumped in as middle man. While I was asleep it seemed like we drove for a long time. When I woke up I heard Alan say that if we didn’t pass a gas station that was open we would have to stop and wait at one. The next one that we saw we stopped. It looked like it was closed but when we got out we saw that there was a ATM machine in a booth Joe put his card in then the pumps worked, it was different than any one I had seen before. After we got gas Joe drove, I moved to the middle and Alan took up the sleeping spot. I wasn’t much help for Joe as I kept sleeping. I was asleep till the sun started to rise. It was nice as it came over the mountains. This was the worst part of the road. The frost heaves were insane they through the car and trailer around like a small boat in big seas. Joe said that he was ready for a change so he pulled over to get some gas and let Alan drive. When we got out we saw that the tire on the trailer was almost flat. We could see the border to Alaska, Alan thought that we could make it over then get it fixed. We got back in and must have gone a quarter mile, we could see the border right in front of and us Alan said “I don’t think we can make it. Why not, Joe and I ask? Alan replies, because the tire isn’t on the wheel any more. We turn around and limp back to the gas station/restaurant so we can use that 800 number again. Come to find out there was a garage next door that had a contract to work on U-Hauls. Seeing as how we were stuck until the tire was repaired we thought that it was a good time to have some breakfast. We went in and sat our selves down. We were there for a while when Joes asks if we could have a menu. The lady replies,” no, you can have what ever I cook.” Well we thought we don’t have a lot of choices this is the only place to eat and we have no car. So we asked her what she’s cooking. She tells us eggs sausage and toast. We told her that that sounded good. After we were through we all had to use the restroom, we searched all over but couldn’t find it so we asked the lady. She says to us “there is no restroom; this is the Canadian Bush, go use a tree, there’s a forest of toilets outside.” Needless to say we didn’t leave a big tip. When the trailer tire was fixed we got back on the road. We went through what seemed like no mans land then got to the US boarder station. We pulled up, the man asked us all the normal questions then asked if we had any guns, we told him no and he said have a good day. Now we were back in Alaska, it felt great. Most of the people in Canada where nice but there were a few that where not. I feel bad for all the gas stations along the Alaska hwy; they use tourist dollars in the summer to keep their businesses going through the winter. But, with gas prices so high some were worried that they wouldn’t make through next winter.
The rest of the trip down to Wasilla was nothing new. We were home by 4:30 pm. Joe and I unloaded some of the van so we could get it off the trailer. Heidi came and got me and mom had some dinner waiting for us. It was a nice trip but if it lasted any longer the title of this narrative might be, Three Men Kill each other in a cab. LOL.

Day 7&8

Day 7&8 (From hear thing are convoluted, as we drove for ever before we stopped.)
We slept late the next day anticipating a long day on the road. Joe dropped his wife and kids off at the air port then came to our hotel to meet us at ten AM. We followed him to the ship yard so that he could send his other car to Alaska. We thought that it wouldn’t take long. But, apparently the company that shipped the car had to go over each scratch and mark it on a peace of paper. It took Joe about an hour inside before he came out.
Now we could officially head for Alaska. We drove out of town on interstate 5 heading for Bellingham. I was amazed to see lots of Swans in the fields driving through Washington. In Alaska they are usually found in swamps. After driving into Bellingham we swung onto the 542, a rural country road lined with farms and fields. After driving through the country for a while we got to a rural intersection, a three way stop and turned on to Nooksack Road. Alan and Joe thought that it would be faster to go through Sumas as it is a smaller border crossing than the one on interstate 5. Just before the border we stopped for gas as it was the last stop to purchase gallons of fuel instead liters. Then we went to the border station.
At the boarder, Alan pulls up to a booth, roles the window down and says, to a crusty looking old lady, “Hi”. The elderly Canadian border officer says something to the effect of, ‘who are you and why are you here’. Alan says, “I’m Alan this is David and on the end is Joe. We picked up Joe in Colorado and were taking him back to Alaska”. The border guard says, ‘can I see all of your identification and birth certificates.’ After we handed them to her she says ‘whets in the U –Haul’? Joe says, “Everything that I own”. The boarder guard says, ‘well, do you own guns’. Joe looked at her questioningly and responded,” do you mean do I have any or do I own any? The crotchety old lady says, ‘you said that every thing you own is in the truck, do you own any guns.’ Joe says,” yes I own guns. I had my wife check them as luggage at the airport in Seattle so I don’t have any with us.” Then the grumpy, over worked, under paid, soon to retire old lady that knows every thing says, “Well you can’t do that you can’t transport guns on a plan. Joe says my wife isn’t transporting guns she checked them as luggage, there flying spritely.” ‘Well’, the grump says, ‘you just can’t do that, park your truck over there and take you ID and birth certificates inside’.
We took all our things inside and the waited in line. When we got upfront the man behind the counter says, ‘do you understand that Canada has strict gun laws to keep us safe?’ we said, “yes”. Then he went on ‘After whet you told us out side we have reason to believe you may have a gun or guns. Therefore we have a reason to search your vehicle.’ We then told him whet we told the lady outside. He also told us that you can’t check a weapon of any sort at an air port, so he would have to search the truck and trailer. We told him to feel free.
He went out to search the van. A short time later he returned and got some help. They all came back in fifteen minutes later and he walked up and says we needed to talk. He takes Joe off to a corner and tells him that they found empty gun cases. He asks Joe where he hid the guns. Joe told him he did not hide them his wife checked them as luggage, so their probably in Anchorage. Well the officer says I’m going to have to keep searching, so he went back out. A few minutes later he comes back and asks for Joe where the guns are a gin, this time he searches Joe. He then calls Alan and I back one at a time and searches us. While searching he asks us where the guns are, we told him the same thing. Then he went back out to keep looking only to return and take Joe back a gin. This time he tells Joe that he found hunting knives, speed loaders, batons and hand cuffs. He asks Joe why he didn’t tell them about them. Joe told them that they didn’t ask about knives only about guns and since he’s an officer in the military he has the other things. He tells Joe that if he can find proof that he has no guns that he would let us go.
Joe remembered that when he checked the guns at the airport he had to sign a slip of paper that the air line attaches to the guns, stating that they aren’t loaded. So he asks the guard if he can get a copy of the tag as proof. The guard says ok. So we spend the next hour calling Alaska air lines only to learn that they don’t keep track of the tags once the firearms are off the plan. Now we decided to track down Cairn to get her to fax it to the tags to us. At first no one answers there phones when they do we find that dad has the guns and Karin is with Heidi who has the keys to the gun cases and in on her way to Wasilla. After several minuets we talk dad into going to Home Depot buying some bolt cutter, cutting the lock off the case, going to Kinko’s to copy the tags then fax them to the border station. When the border guard got the tags he said that we were free to go. The tags said nothing all they had was the insignia of Alaska airlines on them. They were as little proof that we had no guns as our word was but, I hope Canada feels safer. I wonted to tell the guard at the border not to worry we sold the gun to some Islamic fundamentalists who said they were going to Toronto.
Now the sun was setting, but we were back on the road. Alan and Joe, who had driven the road before, kept telling me that we were driving through a really pretty canyon; but through our head lights it all looked the same, black. The lights on the U-Hull only lit the road 20 feet in front of the van. There was lots of slush on the road and the glare made it hard for Alan to see. In Alaska the high way department uses sand and a little salt. In Canada they use rocks and lot of salt.
As we were going up the road Joe turned on his GPS, Alan and I told him that it was nice but we have the map so we didn’t know why he bought it with us. Joe then said look at that we’re on hwy 5. Alan and I said that can’t be right were on hwy 1. Joe took the map and Sais yep we are right here on hwy 5, and looks like HWY 5 is a toll road. Now it had started to snow and the wind was blowing the trailer back and forth. By then we had gone sixty miles up this road we were not going to turn around although we kept passing sign that said last chance to turn back or pay toll. As we kept going we found out why it was a toll road we kept passing signs that said chain up hear and winter tires required. But, we knew we had nothing to fear, we had a 1-800 number. The highway gradually got steeper and steeper. The snow on the shoulder of the road started getting higher and higher. Tell it was so steep that the transmission over headed and the truck wouldn’t accelerate any more. Allan had his foot to the floor but RPMs wouldn’t go up, we started going slower and slower till we were only going ten miles per hour. We were on the edge of our seats thinking that were would loose all steam and start going back words when we saw the top. We crusted the summit then started going back down. At the bottom we stopped at the toll both and paid the toll. Alan felt triumphant as he had concord an extremely steep summit in a snow storm driving a seventeen foot U-Hall with summer tiers, towing a mine van. I had to bring him back down to earth by reminding him that we did have a 1-800 number to call if we had a problem.
After that, Alan was emotionally exhausted; he said he was ready for a break. We all agreed that I would scoot over to drive, Joe would move to the middle and keep me awake and Alan would nap in the passenger seat. While I was driving, Joe compared his GPS to the Atlas to search for the most direct route back to Canada HWY One. He discussed it with Alan and they both decided that the best route was West on hwy 8. We took a left onto Canada 97 to Merrit and stopped for gas. Then we headed north on 97 till we hit HWY 8. High Way 8 was a country road similar to Trunk road in Wasilla Alaska, only seventy miles long as opposed to 15. The road was narrow barely wide enough for the U-Haul and the on coming traffic. There where steep cliffs on both sides of the road and hair pin turns. Some whet, fortunately, the road was sparsely used; I think we saw only two or three other cars as we traversed the whole route. All I could think was whet if I hit a Sharp rock and flatten a tire or a deer runs out and I hit it. It wouldn’t be good to be stuck on a hair pin turn miles from any services. Although, we had the trusty 1-800 number there was no phone for miles in each way and our cell phones had no reception.
We made it over that road just fine and headed north on Canada one. Alan kept telling me how nice this section was and how he wished that it was light out. It snowed off and on for a while. Then it cleared for a few miles, and all at once it started snowing really hard. It was like we drove into a wall of white. The snow on the road was starting to pile up several inches, when I went around a bind, down a hill came to some lights flashing in the distance. I decreased my speed slowly and eased the U-Haul forward, to find a tractor trailer backing down the hill with help of a Monty. There was a line of semis stopped chaining up waiting for the truck to come down so I pulled up behind them to wait. Allan got out, asking one of the drivers how the road was and if he thought that we could make it up the hill. Alan said the man grimaced and said that we should be ok. I proceeded vary slowly. I hardly touched the gas but the bake tires were already spinning. I went about a hundred feet and lost all momentum. Once the truck had come to a complete stop we started sliding back words with the truck in still in drive. I was panicked for a bit but then we halted. I tried to take my foot off the break but each time the truck would slide back a few feet. I was scared to move or adjust my feet for fear that we would start sliding and not stop till we hit something. Alan got out checking how icy it was, when I saw that he couldn’t take a step with out ice skating I new that it was bad. He got back in and said that our only hope was to back all the way down the hill then get a running start. I tried to back down, but as it was dark, I couldn’t see the trailer. Unfortunately with my limited trailer backing experience I did not feel comfortable trying to back hundreds of feet down the hill. When I did back down all that I succeeded in doing was backing into the middle of the high way. This wasn’t all bad, as we sat there trying to come up with our next step snow plows and sanders drove by on each side. I was drained of all my energy, so I told Alan that he could back down the hill. I was through. I checked several times to make shore that we wouldn’t slide if I slid over in the seat we made the switch as quick as we could. Once Alan was in the seat he waited for a few tractor trailers to go by then he was getting ready to move when a snow plow operator stopped and walked up to the truck. Alan thought that he was a nice guy that wonted to help. Maybe I was emotionally worn out, but I thought that he was a jerk, perhaps his wife was the border guard. He basically said that it was our fault that all the tractor trailers had to stop and chain up and to get the hell out of there way. Alan said that he was just getting ready to back down the hill. The plow man said no your not, your going to turn this thing around right hear go back turn around and get a running start. Alan said ok and the old man was nice enough to guide him. After we turned around we went south to a pull out a mile or so from the hill. We waited for some more of the trucks to go over. Then we got a head of steam and charged the hill like battering ram, Each time the gears changed we panicked we held our breath and made it over the other side. Wow, we thought that we would need the 800 number! Oh, and chains would have helped. Alan drove for a few more miles to the next gas station Joe said that he was still sleepy so I drove for a while after that a six AM we pulled into a Denney’s in Price Gorge For breakfast. After breakfast I was feeling lethargic. I had the shakes form living off energy drinks and coffee. The bad food at Denney’s didn’t provide any nutritional comfort; I think there sausage comes from a can as it’s like Spam, which I like, as long as my mouth isn’t planning on sausage.
After breakfast I hopped in the passenger seat, Joe took over as driver and Alan became the middle man. As the sun set I propped my self against the door with a pillow and fail asleep. I don’t know were all we went or whet we saw, but Joe claims that we past a fox. I woke up for a few seconds as Joe and Alan switched. But, I went back to sleep, for how long I don’t know. When I woke we were driving through a Pass that was covered by several feet of fresh snow. The plow must have gone through just before us as the road was narrow but clear. There were logging trucks and gas trucks coming at us, there must have been a good six inches between us and the on coming traffic as we zipped by each other. We passed a few trucks that drove to close to the soft ditch and were sucked in. I felt bad as they had to unload there cargo before they could be pulled out. The mountains looked pristine, with there new covering, things looked clear and clean. While we were driving we passed a moose it was a pathetic little thing compared to the moose we have hear in Alaska but it was nice to see some wild life.
After we passed through the snowy mountains Alan said that he was ready for a break so I moved back to the driver spot driver. I pulled into Chetwynd for gas then switched to High way 29 for whet we thought was a short cut. It started out by going up a steep hill with some nice views of the valley. The hill was so steep that it took all the truck had to pull the trailer up. Then it flattened out and went through a forest for a while. We crossed a river into the town of Hudson Hope then we went up another steep hill with a great view of the river for us to see. This time not only was it steep, but there were a few inches of slush and sharp corners to make us slow down witch made it a little tougher. We kept saying that it was a good thing that it was a worm day, if it was a cool night it would have been too icy for us. At the top I stopped so we could take some pitchers and let the engine cool down. Joe said that he wonted to drive when it was time to go so he hopped behind the wheel. We went through some farm country then after a short time we were to the Alaska HWY we felt that we were on the home stretch. Alan Drove for a long time through a boring stretch. The trees had shrunk and the road for the most part was flat with no scenic views. After he was driving for a while he quickly pulled off the road and said that he needed a break. so I hopped back in as driver. I drove to Fort Nelson where we got out getting some gas. Alan and Joe when into pay, I ran the pump cleaned the lights and checked the truck and trailer. As I walked around I heard a strange noise coming from one of the tiers. I stooped over to see the tire butter and I saw little air bubbles coming out of the side along with a loud hissing. Oh great a flat. Alan and Joe came out and I told them to listen to the tire. They both thought the same thing. Mean while I thought that it was strange that the pump hadn’t started working, I asked Joe and he told me that all his credit cards were rejected and his debit card was now out of cash. Well this is great, stuck in a small Canadian town thousands of miles from home with a flat tire and no money. Alan said he would pay for this tank of gas. Then Joe called dad to beg for some money. After Alan paid for the gas he thought that it was time to call that trusty 800 # they gave us. I decided that since it was almost dark, we had a flat and Joe was out of money we should go across the street to the Days in and spend the night. It was surprisingly easy to talk Joe and Alan into this. We drove across the street and I went in and paid for the room, Alan found the Garage that was going to fix the flat. After we got moved in and Joe talked mom into putting some money on his debit card, we were starved. Alan said the mechanic told him there was a good restaurant across the road so we went over and got dinner. After the first good meal in days and almost 48 hours of strait driving we were drained of all our energy so we went back to the hotel room and went to bed.

Day 6

Day 6 Alan and I got up at the pre dawn hour of five AM and hit the rode. We drove out of town on interstate 84 until we got to Baker city, Oregon. That was a cool farming town about the size of Wasilla. It’s situated up in the mountains, the air was clean and clear making the sunrise nice. We stopped for some gas and asked a police officer where we could park the U-Hall so we could get some coffee. He was a nice guy who had a country sheriff personality. He told us that there was a coffee shop right up the street and explained that we could park right in front.
After we got our coffee we got back on interstate 84. I liked watching the countryside continually change. It was neat to go over the mountains watching big trees and craggy rocks then drop out of the pass and into green farm land and flat prairies; then through wine country. It looked like the workers were out getting the fields prepared for planting and the vineyards cleaned out.
I would have to admit that I was slightly jealous. As we went by the small ponds on the side of the road I saw that they were thawed out and people were fishing. Here in Alaska it is the beginning of April, when I went out ice fishing last week there was still three feet of ice on the lakes, and it snowed five inches last night.
After the wine country we went over the Snack River and into Washington then switched to interstate 82. The mountains in Washington where beautiful, covered with trees and snow clear to the top. Snoqualmie Pass was breathtaking I wished I could have taken the time to ski some of those slopes.
After going over the pass we cut onto Highway 18. Looking at the map this was a short cut. Actually it was another high pass that had hills so steep that they had warning signs saying to use chains if icy and telling trucks to use low gear. As for Alan and I, in our decked out U-HALL; we where able to go a study 25 miles per hour and suck Joe’s gas money up like it was going out of style.
We dropped off Highway 18 and onto 256th street and headed to Kent a suburb of Seattle the size of Anchorage. Alan had a friend there that he hadn’t seen for years. We stopped at a Safeway Parking lot so that he could call for directions. While there we called Joe. He left Nampa latter than we did but said that he would catch us since he didn’t have a slow U-Haul to drive. He didn’t have a slow car but he did have dippers to change and kids to feed. He gained on us but he couldn’t catch us. We went to Alan’s friend’s house while we waited for Joe to call to tell us he was here.
Joe called a wile latter to tell us that he was at the hotel where he had made reservations for Alan and me. That was the good news; the bad news was that when making the reservations he did not think to ask if they had room to park a U-Hall so we couldn’t stay there. After getting gas Alan and I tried to drive around and find out where Joe was and where we could park the truck. Could you imagine a couple of small town people trying to drive a U-Haul around a suburb of Seattle while getting directions on a cell phone? After the confusion and aggravation got more than the both of us could handle we saw a Comfort Inn with a big parking lot. We told Joe that we would be stopping there for the night and if he wonted to find us we were north of 516.
Notice, in all that we did this day there was nothing machined about food that because we did not stop to eat. The best part about this hotel was a restaurant next door. So after we got cleaned and settled in we met Joe next door for dinner. After all day in the car it was nice to get out and eat; Joe’s kids thought the same thing they were as calm as Mexican jumping beans set in the sun. After dinner I took a dip in the pool to wind down then headed to bed.

Day 4&5

Day 4&5 Alan and I woke the next day refreshed. Joe called to make sure that we got there safe. He also said that he was leaving ST Gorge Utah with his wife and kids; he was hoping to make it to town by 11:30. The kicker was, he told us he had more things to put in the Van. We had rushed to pack the van in Colorado so Alan and I thought that we should repack it to make more room. In order to do this we had to pull it off the car hauler, in transit it had shifted enough so that you could not get the doors open. After we had it off the trailer and emptied, Alan said that he wonted to drive to a coffee shop so that he could tank up. When we got back we thought that we could fit more stuff in if we took some of the bigger things apart. So I set off braking down swings, packs, Bikes and cribs, while Alan repacked the boxes. Believe it or not when we were through we had more space in the van. We relaxed the rest of the day till Grandpa took us all out for dinner. That night Alan and I went to see U2 in 3D. It was really cool. The new way, they make 3D movies is awesome. I tried to duck from the microphone a few times. We saw it at a Regale theater; believe it or not the service in Nampa was just as bad as the service hear in Anchorage. The movie shut off in the middle we waited then had to find the manager, a while later the lights came on and we had to find him again. If the concert wasn’t so good we would have asked for our money back but we forgot. That evening Joe and his wife got there Alan and I stayed long enough to get the kids good and wound up then we went to uncle Clyle’s house to sleep for the night.
The next day was grandma and grandpas 60th wetting anniversary, latter that day we went to Olive Garden to have dinner. It was neat that we had four generations there to calibrate the occasion. The waiters came out and sang them a song and we took some photos. I was glad that we could stay for it. After, Alan, Clyle and I went to Costco so that we could get some food for the drive to Seattle. The next day we planned to leave early.