Friday, September 21, 2007

Day 108, Wed, Sep 19, 2007, Frankfort, KY to HOME!

We crossed the KY/TN state line and took a few minutes at the Tennessee Welcome Center to make sandwiches. I (Barbara) glanced at a picture of a black bear cub that is hanging on a cabinet in the motorhome that we bought in Fairbanks and broke down in tears. The picture brought back memories of the good times we had, and up until August 19th, when Jerry got sick, it was all good times. We got up when we wanted, stayed in a town as long as we wanted, took whatever route we wanted. How many people can say they’ve done that? We’ve truly been blessed and we’ve very grateful for it.

And I’m a very lucky lady to have a husband willing to drive on a curvy, mountainous, gravel road for 100 miles to take me to a “town” named Chicken! The scenery was beautiful and I was happier than I probably would have been in Paris or somewhere else fancy.

Now that we’re home it’s back to real life. It will be great to see our friends again. We pray Jerry’s leg heals—he has a doctor appointment on Friday. If we learn anything earth-shattering, we’ll post an addendum to the blog. And someday we’ll take another trip!

We drove a little over 12500 miles during the 108 day trip.

Pictures: Click here

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Day 107, Tue, Sep 18, 2007, LaSalle, IL to Frankfort, KY

Oh, it’s hot! It’s 87 and humid and I realize that’s nothing compared to what’s it has been here this summer, but I wish I could pronounce Jerry’s leg healthy and we could turn around and head north again. This is the first time we’ve had to use the generator and a/c at rest stops to keep the pets from frying. Also, the traffic is terrible and has been since we left Wisconsin. Give us the Tennessee hills! We’re exhausted; this isn’t the way we intended for the last month of our trip to end, but someday we’ll do the Northern United States again and do it correctly. Up until Whitehorse it was a perfect trip and nothing can change that. We have the blog and tons of pictures to remind us when the memories start to fade.

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Day 106, Mon, Sep 17, 2007, Albert Lea, MN to LaSalle, IL

“The wheels on the van go round and round.” At least we hope they do. It looks like rain today. It would be nice to have a short but heavy downpour since this thing hasn’t been washed since Dawson City, YT and it’s very, very, dirty. It’s too tall for an automatic car wash and would knock the satellite, etc off the top anyway. Jerry isn’t well enough to wash it and he’s too stubborn to watch me wash it. I say close his eyes, but he won’t listen.

11:30 and we’re in Wisconsin! One more state behind us. We stopped in the quaint little town of Bangor, WI, and picked up our mail. Thank you, Susan.

We drove longer than we wanted to, but Illinois is a bit short on campgrounds. We ended up at Wal-Mart in LaSalle, IL.

Low 60.

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Day 105, Sun, Sep 16, 2007, Presho, SD to Albert Lea, MN

We stopped in Mitchell, SC and took pictures of the Corn Palace. All the murals on the outside are made of different shades of corn, and they replace them every year. We didn’t go inside—they were having a polka tournament—but they play basketball there in the winter. It was far more amazing (pun intended!!) than I expected. There was also Cabalas in Mitchell that I could have spent hours in so we just stayed away. We had to get on the road. Jerry’s leg, especially mid-calf to ankle was dark red to almost black last night and that had me scared. I wanted to stop and see a doctor. He won’t.

It was a nice, sunny day, hi of 76, low 46, no clouds. Lots of flies and mosquitoes in the evening.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Day 104, Sat, Sep 15, 2007, Buffalo, WY to Presho, SD

This morning was fun. There were turkeys walking around the campground, I’d say wild turkeys, but they were pretty tame. Jerry also saw a rabbit. We didn’t take time to see Mt. Rushmore, but we did stop at Wall Drug, which wasn’t as far off the Interstate. We passed on the 5 cent coffee and bought expensive ice cream instead. We saw a group of deer off the side of road somewhere in South Dakota. We’re now in the Central Time Zone, one time zone away from home!

Today has been hot—81 degrees, low was 46 and there are no clouds in the sky. Beautiful day.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Day 102, Thu, Sep 13, 2007, Conrad, MT to Livingston, MT

This must have been Blackie’s favorite RV Park. They had a fenced in doggie area and he had it all to himself. Blackie ran back and forth between us (his Frisbee disappeared in Anchorage) but just to see him get some exercise was great. And the campsites had nice grass between campers and Blackie enjoyed resting and enjoying the view. Usually he’s nervous if we’re not outside with him, but last night I went out to see if he was ready to come in and he didn’t even stand up!

We saw a deer drinking out of a creek yesterday, but I wasn’t ready with the camera.

Jerry’s leg still hurts way more than it should, especially at the end of the day. Montana is pretty but too brown. There is a lot of farmland and the wheat has been harvested. A fair amount of evergreen trees but no deciduous trees. I want color!!!

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Day 103, Fri, Sep 14, 2007, Livingston, MT to Buffalo, WY

We’re traveling along at 3300 feet and it’s flat! Okay, it’s somewhat flat. But it doesn’t feel like we’re in the mountains, it just feels like rolling hills. We have blue sky, thank goodness, Jerry’s leg is hurting more; I think he should either call our doctor or he should see a local doctor. He wants to get home to see our doctor in person. My knees hurt, so we make quite a pair. Actually, we’re in the middle of nowhere on I90 so we just keep rolling along. Every mile gets us closer to home.

We ended the day by stopping at a nice campground called Deer Park Campground in Buffalo, Wyoming. In fact when we pulled in around 5:30 PM we saw four deer at the entrance to the campground.

It was 30 degrees when we woke up this morning. High today is 74.

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Day 101, Wed, Sep 12, 2007, Calgary, AB to Conrad, MT

Back in the United States! It’s a good feeling and a sad feeling because I (Barbara) have a soft spot in my heart for Canada—its beauty, its people, and its hockey! But I’ll always be an American. We ate lunch today in Lethbridge, Alberta to use up the last of our Canadian money and a nice couple came over to talk to us. They knew we were Americans by our accents. We never think of us having accents but several Canadians have told us we have them. Of course, we think they have accents.

We got through Customs with no problem. We were going to stop in Shelby, but decided to drive a little further and stopped at the small town of Conrad, MT. This very nice little lady running the campground brought us a welcome bag compliments of the Chamber of Commerce. How sweet of them!

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Day 100, Tue, Sep 11, 2007, Red Deer to Calgary, AB

A day all Americans and most people worldwide should never forget. Today is a beautiful day, just as is was 6 years ago, weather-wise anyway. We’re having blue skies and the temperature as I write this (1:00 p.m.) is 75 degrees. We are spending the night with our friend Morna, who is Karen Ramstead’s Mom.

We had a delightful visit with Morna. She stuffed us with delicious stew and hot rolls, and we laughed over videos of interviews of Karen. Karen, how do you stay so composed? One was done in the kennel with a team hitched to the four-wheeler. The announcer was trying to interview Karen as she sat on the four-wheeler, but every now and then the dogs decided they’d rather run and off they’d go. It was like they were quietly saying to each other, “okay, guys, on three, we’re off!” Morna, thank you for the kindness and hospitality and Karen, thank you for inadvertently providing some much-needed laughs. We so admire you and are so proud of you. The only thing missing was you, Mark and a few puppies!! But your Mom passed on the big hug!

Being a “dog person” Morna invited Blackie and Little Bear into her home and they were so excited to be in a space larger than our little motorhome! Little Bear wasted no time touring the entire house (nosy thing that she is) then whined until Morna and I put her on a bed upstairs for a nap. At 17, she’s unable to jump on a bed but likes to sleep on one. Blackie was thrilled to have a backyard to run in and gave Morna so much attention when we came in—he even “helped” her put the VCR tape in the TV and gave her lots of kisses as a thank you. There are no spoiled animals in the Lake household!! I think both of the pets are as anxious to get home as we are.

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Day 99 Mon, Sep 10, 2007 Valleyview, Alberta to Red Deer, AB

A cloudy day in the low 60’s and mostly flat with a few rolling hills. I miss the mountains terribly. Actually, this area reminds me of Missouri, with lots of farms. We planned to stop in Edmonton, but got there earlier than planned, so went on to Red Deer, Alberta. We stayed in a beautiful campground sponsored by the Lions club, one of several in the area. The Lions Clubs’ have every right to be proud of their campgrounds. They had paved roads, lots of grass and trees, nice bathhouses. Blackie loved having some grass to roll in.

Day 98 Sun, Sep 9, 2007 Fort St. John B.C. to Valleyview, Alberta

We finally made it to Alberta—another Province down. Except for one deer in the road the only animals we saw today were on people’s farms—sheep and horses. The campground, named Sherk’s, was one of the nicest we’ve stayed in just because it had grass between the spaces. And the spaces were large. But no WiFi or TV. Jerry’s leg was really hurting so after getting set up and helping me carry the sheets to the laundry room, he called it quits for the day. We got him down with his leg elevated and as soon as I got his bed remade he crawled in without even eating anything. His leg is peeling like from a sunburn and I’d love to get my hands on it—I peeled my own dead skin when I was stupid and got sunburned as a kid. But this is worse that a sunburn and the most he’ll let me do is gently put lotion on it. We think his leg is getting worse again and as much as we love Canada, we desperately want to get to the States so Jerry can see a doctor and our insurance will pay up front.

The weather was partly cloudy and temps around 71. Low in mid 50’s.

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Days 96,& 97 Fri & Sat, Sep 7 & 8, 2007 Toad River, B.C., to Fort St. John B.C.

Mostly sunny and 60 degrees already (noon) and it didn’t take long to be exciting. We saw a small herd of deer, and immediately after that a caribou. All of these were on the oncoming side of the road so my pictures had to be taken through the windshield. All I got of the caribou was the steering wheel! The woods are cut back from the highway giving the animals plenty of room to walk off the road, but obviously they like the road the best.

We learned a lesson about stopping early; or not stopping early. Until last night campgrounds (including our home in Whitehorse) have been mostly empty. We had a site in Pink Mountain, but someone was in it. We should have asked them if they had a receipt for that site, but we didn’t know it was the last site in the campground. We decided to get our money back and drive on to the next campground—wrong decision. We ended up in a motel in Fort St. John a couple of hours later and Jerry had a very, very sore leg. So sore, that we’re spending two nights here so he can recover. From now on we’re sticking to our 5 hours of driving a day, and stopping early.

Pictures: Click here

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Day 95, Thu, Sep 6, 2007, Watson Lake to Toad River, British Columbia

Today was an exciting day. We saw a small herd of buffalo on the road, but we had just crossed a bridge that they were doing construction work on and it was down to one lane, so we were going very slowly. We were also the first car in line which made it handy for taking pictures. A little later there was a caribou eating road kill in the road so Jerry slammed on his breaks and moved to the left; the caribou stood up and moved to his right—or the same direction as us. The entire time I had the camera in my hand but my fingers were frozen and I never took one picture. I think it took 30 minutes for our heart rate to return to normal.

We stopped at Liard Hot Springs—something I’d really been looking forward to. They had benches in the springs to sit on, and it was divided into areas of super hot, hot, and warm. They also had a waterfall with a bench to sit on, which felt great on my back.

We stayed at Toad River Lodge (and campground) also a Good Sam campground and it had the worst looking bathhouse I’ve ever seen. I’d really been looking forward to a hot shower because one of the nurses at the hospital in Whitehorse asked us if Jerry had been in Liard Hot Springs. She said they get a lot of cellulitis patients from there.

The scenery is beautiful, of course. Autumn is here in British Columbia. Not much red, but lots and lots of gold mixed in with the evergreen trees.

Temps range from low 40s to mid about 60.

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Day 94, Wed, Sep 5, 2007, Whitehorse, YT, Canada to Watson Lake, YT

We finally left Whitehorse! We intended to yesterday, but we were waiting for mail—very important mail at that. The stickers on our license tags had expired the end of August and our daughter, Susan, had mailed them by express mail. We thought for certain we’d get them on Tuesday, but didn’t. Maybe it was a sign that Jerry needed another day of rest.

At any rate, today, we’re on our way home, with mostly blue skies, and a few short rainshowers thrown in for good measure. It seems to rain here everyday, but not for very long. Then there is a beautiful rainbow, and yes, we saw one today. We’ve been at a higher altitude most of the day—about 3,000 feet—and have been enjoying the fall colors the Yukon has to offer.

Jerry’s leg still hurts, but not so much that he can’t drive and both our spirits have been lifted considerably.

We’re staying at Downtown RV Park in Watson Lake. A nice Good Sam Park, but lacking in grass for Blackie. Bathhouse and laundry room were nice and clean, though.

The high was about 52, low of upper 30’s.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Day 92, Mon, Sep 3, 2007, Whitehorse, YT, Canada

Today was a great day! We took a Yukon River Cruise through the very narrow Miles Canyon. Talk about scenic! And I (Barbara) got to drive the boat! I asked the captain if I could, and he said ok. I figured the worst he could do is say “no.” What a thrill it was! Then another lady asked if she could drive it and we each got caps that said MV Schwatcka on them. The boat is named after a U.S. Army LT who, in 1883 led a small expedition on a raft down the Yukon River 3,200 kilometers to the Bering Sea. Now that’s a trip!

Jerry is doing better. On the boat he was able to walk around so his leg didn’t hurt too much. It hurts the most when he is sitting or standing still. The swelling is gone and it’s peeling, as if it was sunburned (and it looks like it is).

The weather was beautiful today—but still getting into the 30’s at night and in the 60’s during the day.

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Days 78 - 91, Mon - Aug 20 – Mon Sep 3, 2007, Whitehorse, YT, Canada

We have spent two weeks here while Jerry has cellulitis, a strep infection in the skin cells. From Sunday night through Tuesday he came in to the ER every 12 hours for IV antibiotics. Then the doctor requested Jerry come into the ER every 8 hours for the IV’s. On Saturday morning, he was admitted to the hospital as an inpatient. He was dismissed the following Wednesday after spending four days in the hospital.

The nighttime temps have been quite chilly, down to the 30’s, causing us to run the heat pump each night. The daytime temps have been close to 70 degrees and sunny with a couple of short rain showers.

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