Saturday, May 31, 2008
This camping trip started off just like most first campouts for the year, with lots of confusion. It all began the weekend before. I had to drive out to dad’s house to get the camper prepped for the upcoming camping season, then drive home. When I finished cleaning the camper and greasing the lift system and hubs I plugged the van to the camper to find no trailer lights. I didn’t have much time as Heidi was calling complaining that I was gone all day. I got the lights to work as best as I could, which was dim and indistinguishable and no blinkers, brake lights and hazards. I drove home as gingerly, avoided changing lanes and braking while searching for police. As I pulled into the neighborhood there was an officer right behind me. I thought for sure he was going to pull me over at my front door but as I stopped he went right by just looking at me.
I crawled under the car and inspected the wiring harness to find a hole in the top where a rock had hit it. I got the tool box out and started taking the harness off the van and pulling it apart but it was so rusted that there was no hope. I ended up prying it apart with a screw driver. The guts of the wiring harness were a rusted pile of dust and gravel, there was no point in trying to save any of it. So off I went to Fred Meyer to buy a new one. When I got there the choices for harness were slim the only one that was for an RV also came with a four prong boat trailer. As it was all they had, I purchased it.
When I got home I labored on the hard ground for several hours comparing wires. Of course the van wires were a different color than the wires on the new harness. I had to look up the wiring harness in the owner’s manual to the van then compare the corresponding wire on the directions that came in the package to the new harness. It was quite confusing as the van had two white wires and the new harness had two extra wires. I guessed that the extra white wire was the ground so I wired it all that way. Unfortunately I was wrong. When I thought I was through at one AM I checked the tail lights, blinkers, flashers and brake lights, they all worked. I thought that I had done it all right. Actually I think my words were, “yes I wired it”. I thought that I had accomplished something. Unfortunately, when I tried to back the camper up the driveway the brakes locked.
I thought that I should let some who knows electricity help me so I called Alan the next day. He said he could come over on Thursday to look at it. I was starting to have doubts we would be able to go camping on Memorial Day. When Alan came over he found that the white wire I thought was the ground was not the ground but was the breaks. He also found that the extra wire on the harness was for the brakes. Unfortunately, when they were connected I still had no brakes however they weren’t locked any more. Since my trailer isn’t that heavy I could tow it to Beyers Lake in Denali State Park.
I was hoping to leave on Friday. Heidi was going to take the day off so we could get on the road right when I got home from work. This is where reality comes in. When I got home I had a nice clean car it was vacuumed washed and smelled nice as a summer breeze. Unfortunately, the kids were not ready the camper was not packed and food was in the cupboard. We spent the next few hours franticly packing. I threw some food in the cooler and grabbed the dry goods then searched for a box they could go in. I found the tent, sleeping bags, pads, rain coats, pants, life jackets, hip boots, paddles, and canoe straps. After I had all that I franticly searched for all the odds and ends you need for a camping trip. Then I made a list of all the things that I couldn’t find or we did not have so we could stop at Fred Meyer to buy them.
It was nine forty just a few hours late but on the road at last. First stop Fred Meyer. When we got to the gas station there was a truck in front of us. I thought he would pull up to the second pump when the person in front of him finished as the other pump was free. I was wrong. He went to the first pump and went incredibly slow. He looked at us the whole time; we could tell he was going out of his way to be a jerk. I joked with Heidi that his name must be Richard. I actually found it quit satisfying to watch as he filled his Dodge Cummins 3500 diesel crew cab, he was spending a whole lot more than I ever would.
After a trip into Fred Meyer that took longer than it should have we were on the road. The one hundred and forty-eight mile drive was nice and calm. There wasn’t much traffic due to the fact that we did not leave the store parking lot till almost ten O’clock. Plus we were headed north while most everybody else headed south.
We reached the camp ground at one thirty AM. It looked deserted compared to last year. That was likely due to all the rutted snow drifts that crossed the access road. The sights on the north side of the slushy road where the sun shines were free of snow and being used. Unfortunately, all the sights on the shady south side still had two feet of snow drifted in them. We drove through the campground several times till we found the sight that we thought would be the easiest to back into. Heidi got out of the car and was going to signal me to help back me in. Bless her nice heart she did not say a word as she did not want to wake the other campers around us. This would be a good thing if it where not for the fact that it was now two AM. In Alaska its light most of the night however at two AM it’s just dark enough so you can’t make out objects in your rear view mirror. Soon the back of the trailer was in the deepest part of the snow drift. The van slowly came to a stop, the harder I pushed on the gas the louder the engine became but the van still would not move. I pulled forward and gave it another go. I went further back but soon met the same demise, my momentum froze. This time I thought that if I kept the pressure on the gas I would start to move. This sort of worked soon the van and trailer lunged back and to the right. Now the trailer was stuck and the car was high centered making it stuck. I tried several times to get them to move but the tires on the van would spin. Nice campers we are, people in tents on each side and across the street and I’m shooting gravel out my wheels, tires are whining and my day time running light are shining right in the tent of the people across the street. Needless to say I was feeling a bit like a Richard. I convinced Heidi that we should unhook the trailer and drag it by hand to straighten it out. With out the trailer on the van I could pull out get in a straight line then give it another try. In the process of lifting and pulling the trailer Heidi slipped and hit the back of her leg on the trailer tong. The next morning she had a black and blue bruise the size of a soft ball. Once we moved the trailer over I was able to rock the van out. I then reattached the trailer and pulled it out. After which I moved over and backed the trailer where I should have gone the first time. After getting the POP-UP set up we were ready for bed and the sun was ready to rise over the mountains I guess that’s what it does at three am.
Since the sun rises at five am we could only sleep until nine then it becomes to light in the thin walled pop-up. We took our time eating breakfast and cleaning and cleaning some more. The boys went for a hike and I took the girls down so they could go for a canoe ride. While Diane and Heidi took the boat out on the half thawed lake, Patience and I played catch with a Nurf Ball by the launch. When they got back Patience and I went out for a ride and Heidi and Diane went for a walk around the lake to an old cabin that was built in the 50’s long before the road. While Patience and I were out on the lake we got a good look at a swan. We also tried to paddle the canoe up Beyers Creek. Needless to say we didn’t get far before the current did us in. Following that we went back to the camper for some lunch. After we were through with lunch we cleaned up then took a nap. The long day on Friday had caught up to us as we didn’t wake till 9:00 in the evening to the sound of rain dripping on the camper. Patience and I read for a book while we waited for the rain to stop. Then we went outside and sat by the fire for a while until bed time. We sure slept well that night.
The next day we woke refreshed and ready for a good hike; Diane said she didn’t want to go and the boys said they did a long hike the day before. So Heidi, Patience and I headed out on our own. I was hoping that we could make it to Tarn Point a four mile hike one way. Heidi and Patience were a bit unnerved when it came time to cross a suspension bridge over Beyers creek. Then we continued through the thick forest to The Cascade; a clear stream that rages over boulders and down a narrow cannon through the mountain. After taking a break and some photos we continued up the mountain on a narrow trail that switched back and forth to the top of the cascade. Patience loved this part, the snow was up to her waist and it was extremely steep. Heidi was also out of breath at the top so we stopped there once more took a breather and some photos. Then we continued on through some flat rolling trail in thick aspen and spruce. After a while we popped down into a small clearing that was shaded and covered in deep snow. Here we waded through knee deep snow, unless you’re a nine year old then it was more like waist deep, and crossed the creek one more time on a small bridge. I had the idea to look over the side at the water, when I did my water bottle fell out into the stream. I plunged into the snow and chased it for a bit but it was too late there it went over the cascade. While I was chasing my water the clouds came in and it started to rain, hard. While I cried over the water bottle we took the time to get our rain coats on then we went on. Patience was in a better mood now that we weren’t plowing up hill through deep snow. Unfortunately, after walking through some paper birch and white spruce forest we came to steeper hills. Well actually just one steep hill as it kept going and going. Patience now on her second wind, pushed on, plowing her way up hill through deep snow. The hill in places was steep enough she had to put her hand out in front of her to pull herself up. Heidi crawled up the hill suffering from exhaustion after the tremendous effort grappling with extreme terrain. I was chilled after chasing my water bottle down the creek through the deep snow. My shoes and pants were soaked to the knee and my legs and feet were frozen. After going up hill for a bit I was getting hot so we stopped to take off the rain coats. We seemed to have power over Mother Nature, as soon as we put our rain gear in our packs it would start to rain again. After several stops we gave up and kept our coats on. As we crested the top of the ridge we were glad we had them on as the wind started to blow. We crept our way up out of the trees and around a deep crevasse with steep cliff walls that went down several hundred feet. We worked our way around the crevasse to some thick alders where we lost the trail. We spied an out cropping of rock up the mountain several hundred feet. Between us and it was a swath of thick alders shadowing knee deep snow. I had to make it farther up the hill, Heidi was willing to go along but Patience had enough. The snow was deep, the trees thick and in her face. She was forced up the hill at a snails pace with story’s of how good she’d feel when she gets to the top. She was in tears when we made it to a clearing around a small spruce tree where she could stop. Her little legs tired after dragging herself through waist deep drifts in thick alders. Good thing she wore wool socks with hand warmers in her boots. I was not so smart I wore cotton socks and cotton jeans. My hiking shoes weren’t very water proof. My feet were frozen and soaked. My pant legs and the cuffs of my shoes were filled with snow. Heidi seemed about as good as I was. Good thing I took the time to put several extra socks in my bag it was nice to change into some dry socks, not that it made much difference. Patience and Heidi rested while I hiked up the hill to the rocks for a good photo. After we relaxed for a minute we headed back down the hill.
Before we left I thought that it looked quicker if we went straight to where the trail ended. Heidi did not agree but I dragged her and Patience along any way. It was quicker; however, the snow was deeper. The sock change was now worthless as our feet and pants were now soaked. We then hit the steeper part of the hike up; we each slipped a few times. Patience gave up and chose to slide on her butt as much as she could. When we got to the part above the Cascade we were concerned about Patience, her legs were tired and the trail was narrow and covered with deep snow. We were afraid she might slip over the edge but she did good job. We stopped at the bottom and Heidi picked a grocery bag of fiddleheads. And Patience and I shot the BB gun at a bark target. When we got to the suspension bridge there was a beaver on the opposite bank striking the perfect pose for the camera. Unfortunately, I pulled out the camera to snap a shot to find that it was on video mode when the shutter didn’t move I moved the camera so I missed a good photo opportunity and movie moment. When we got back to camp we were surprised to find that the kids cooked dinner and cleaned. We were so confused that after we ate we went to bed as it was ten O’clock.
After we woke up the next morning we ate a good breakfast then cleaned the camper. When we were through we took the canoe to the lake for some paddling. The kids went out for a bit first. Kris and Jonathan started. They were out for the longest going over ice and cruising a long the shore line. When they got back AJ and Diane went. They were scary to watch. Diane still hasn’t learned not to stand in a canoe. They seemed to have a hard time going in a strait line. It was funny to watch them become stuck on ice when there was open water all the way around them. While they were pedaling around Heidi and I walked the lake side trail to look at the old cabin. It looked like at one time it was a nice place. It wasn’t that old and looked to me like people tried to use it not long ago as the wood on the bunk buds looked some whet new. On the way back we look at all the plants coming up. Heidi saw wild geraniums and roses. While she was looking at some lovage we saw a yellow warbler land in a tree next to us. When we got back to the boat landing Patience and I went paddled out in the She did a good job. Mount McKinley was out. I got some good photos of it and Patience. She said she was cold so we went back I got Heidi and we went out. I told her that she could get some good picks of Denali unfortunately a thin sheen of haze covered the mountain and took away its luster. When she was through we headed back to camp to eat some food before we left. On the way back to town we stopped at the Denali View point south to walk up to the over look. It was warmer there and the foot hills looked vary clear but there was a thicker haze covering the mountain so we still couldn’t get any good photos. We had a nice ride back to Anchorage. I think we all had a good time and were looking forward to the next camping trip.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
I also went fishing in wasilla the weekend of May 17. I trolled as slow as I could through the deepest part of the lake and caught some nice fish on a Purple Vibrix. For some reson I did not take a photo of them. For the weekend we are going to go to Beyers Lake if I can get the camper working