Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Woman Make Fire!

We woke up at Cathedral Gorge and took a hike around the place. The land was amazing, we had a good time checking it all out. I guess I put pictures from there on my last post so see there for a couple pics.

There were free showers, so after breaking camp we both got washed up. Showers are pretty important to living on the road, we take them where we can get them. After doing dishes and refilling our water supply, it was 10 before we got on the road.

We left Cathedral Gorge and shortly thereafter were in Utah. Since we were on a scenic byway, it was long streches of arrow straight road thru pastures seperated by twisty mountain sections over passes. We are getting used to the cycle. Eventually we are making our way into St George. Holy Cow, this place can host an Entrance!! Cruising down a very steep highway trying to stay on the road while you gawk at all the amazing rock formations is hard!! Really hard! Very red.... as we venture into town we see neighborhoods planted on the sides of the hills, and they look pretty fantastic! All the way into town, we were gawking at the  hills around town and all the color.

My house battery hadn't been lasting more than one night. Last year at tanacross, it easily lasted 4 nights so I knew something was up. I managed to loose the reciept, but I decided to wing it and see if I could talk someone into replacing it for me anyways. It had a 12 month warranty and the sticker said I had bought it 12 months ago. I pulled it out and took it into the Walmart and found the automotive section. It's alway at the exact opposite side that I enter from, so I start looking there and finally found it. I tell my story to a tech there named Junior, and he's cool with no reciept, unlike the customer service clerk the last time I tried this. Junior goes into the shop and returns with a battery tester, then quickly confirms my diagnosis of being bad. He also agrees to let me buy up to the 24 month battery for $15. Nice.

We fill up with gas, buy a few supplies (lunch) and hit the road. We took 59 out of town to the East, and are in Arizona shortly thereafter. We'd never been to the North Rim of the Gaand Canyon, and that was on our schedule for today. When we were about 30 miles from the Park we learned that the road was still closed for the winter. Dang. This has happened to us before.

 Fortunately, it was scheduled to open the next day (lucky us). We check out the Campground and decided $18 was to much to pay for dry camping and pit toilets, especially since the day before we were in such a nice campground for $17.

We decided to cruise down the road a bit and see if we can find some dispersed camping. 1/2 mile away I spot a dirt road and we take the Donkey down it. The Donkey rides so nice on these dirt roads, it's a joy to travel on them. We see a couple others people setting up camp in the woods so we venture further down the forest road. About a mile into the forest we see a pretty nice spot, it even has a fire ring already set up. We pull in and check things out. It looks really cool! We're stocked to have found such a cool, private spot.

We decide a fire is in order and start collecting up wood. This area has just finished breakup, there are lots of deadfall laying around ready to provide us with a warm, inviting fire...

Cara Likes to Sleep!

 Cara was sleeping when I woke up, I decided to allow it and take care of things myself. One bowl of cold cereal, cup of water and a tooth brushing and I hit the road. Cara was still sleeping. We cruised down some dirt roads and finally found pavement. Cara was still sleeping. We cruised down some pavement and took some turns and stuff, 50 miles later we found an awesome little town stuffed into a mountain pass. We drove over the pass and continued, Cara was still sleeping. For almost 2 hours we drove, and by we I mean I drove the Donkey while Cara slept on the bed in the back of the Donkey. She really likes sleeping!! I think we crossed 2 7000'+ passes while she was snoozing in the back.

We finally made it to Ely, NV...

Seattle again

We made it to Seattle and have no home to go back to, anywhere! It's an interesting sensation.
Seattle was rough on our van, it stayed here a year un-atttended. The rain and humid climate have taken their toll. Some rust is developing, moss is starting to grow in weird places. It looks like the windshield probably has a leak, and that lead to both front footwells getting soaked. Unattended, that resulted in alot of mold growing inside the van. Storing vehicles sucks.At this point, I've managed to clean up most of the mold, and ripped out most of the soaked carpet. It looks like we've caught it before the rust got too bad, but it's gonna need attention quick.

After a couple days waiting on van repairs, we managed to escape Seattle and wrest the van from it's death grip. We cruised through Bend to look at some places as we've been thinking about living there. The areas I had been considering are more remote than they looked on the map, I'm glad we had the opportunity to check them out. Still searching.

Cara had a friend in Bend and managed to go to a 'Jazzersize' (aerobics) class with her at 5:30. AM. Why is she still sleeping at 6:46 AM today? We got out of Bend about 9am heading east. Wow. Central Oregon turns into eastern Oregon quick! Or, alot of Central oregon is just flat plains and boring... I struggle through, almost falling asleep many times. Cara didn't make it, succumbed to the flatness of everything and took a nap.

We made it though Oregon and escaped to Northern Nevada. Just about the same. I'm trying to make it to this line on my map with dots beside it, it's labeled as a 'Scenic Byway'. We're hoping it's not as flat and boring as the last 500 miles have been. We didn't make it...  at about 400 miles the sun was getting pretty low, and Cara had plenty of naps. We grabbed a Redbox DVD and a bottle of wine in 'Battle Mountain' then headed south and found a little campground called 'Mill Creek'. Cara had some wine and fell asleep, I had a few drinks and watched a movie. Sorry, it seems I didn't take any awesome pics.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

What now?

Well, we've been in Hawaii for almost 2 1/2 years now and have came to the conclusion that it really is pretty expensive. And I've personally concluded that the beach and the sun aren't my favorite things in the world. I don't think I've actually been in the ocean in 6 months. So it's time for a change. Cara and I have spent the past couple months selling/giving/throwing away most of what we have out here in the middle of the pacific ocean. It has been quite a challenge, but we've managed to scale everything down to a couple boxes to go back to our collection in Alaska and a few bags of stuff to take with us when we make our escape.

Where to now? There have been alot of changes in our life recently, and a lot of changes in our outlook of the way we'd like to live our life. For the time being, we find ourselves kid-less and home-less. My work affords me the ability to take large amounts of time off yet still pays the bills, which are diminishing quickly. So, Kid-less, rent-less, and bill-almost-less we're catching a flight off the rock to rejoin one of our favorite things, the DONK3Y. It's been almost a year since we've seen it and we miss it.

Cara gets a kick out of telling people we're going to live in a van, Down by the River! We plan on spending our time, while I'm not at work, camping and roadtripping around the United States. Both of us having grown up and spent the majority of our lives in Alaska, there are several things on our bucket list we'd like to check off. We will begine by meeting up with Eddie and Kathryn somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, and caravaning with them to Flagstaff AZ to attend the Overland Exposition. Afterwards, a couple weeks spent moseying (can vans mosey?) our way back up to Oregon to check out some possible locations for a new home base.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Klondike loop

We get up bright and early for our adventure into Canadia. The border crossing was simple enough, we got through after a couple questions and a compliment on the Donkey. The roads are a mixture of a little worse than the US side and a lot better, even with several miles of pavement and a couple guardrails. It's another beautiful day, and a nice drive on the 'Top of the World' Highway. We get to the Yukon river and the George Black Ferry about 10:30am, a short ride later we're in Dawson. We find an RV park and set off walking about town.

We enjoyed the Cultural Heritage Exhibit, The Dawson Museum, and ended the day at Diamond Tooth Gertties Gambling Hall. We watched the dancing girls and Cara won about $35 gambling, enough to cover drinks and tips for the night.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Trouble at the Border

Memorial Day we left our Friends at Tanacross headed for the Top of the World highway and Dawson, Canada.
We decided to stop in Tok (pronounced toke) AK at the visitors center to see if they have any info on Chicken, Eagle, or Dawson. The visitor Center is really nice, a big log cabin with many different displays about the different parts of Alaska, including life in the interior where temps soar into the 90's in the summer, with almost 24 hours of sunlight a day, then plummet over 150 degrees in the winter, with no daylight and a record low below -80. Yikes.

I ask the attendant about Dawson, and he informs me the Border crossing at Boundry, AK is closed until the 30th, 3 days away, since the ferry at Dawson isn't even in the water yet. The unusually later spring has delayed everything.What? This throws a bit of a wrench into the works, but fortunately, we have a bit of extra time, and decide to explore this part of the country a little while we wait for the border to open.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spring Tanacross, 2013

(sorry the formatting is pretty messed up on this one, the blogger is acting up and I don't have the time or bandwidth to fix it)

We returned to Anchorage May 8th, after spending a few days in Maui to attend one of Cara's Cousins Wedding.

We were greeted by unusually cold weather and remnants of a late snow storm that had recently passed through. We spent about 2 weeks in and around Anchorage, taking care of personal items, visiting with friends and chipping away at the laundry list of projects I have in mind for the Donkey to make our future trips a little more comfortable.

I added a small generator and a nice 3 stage 35 amp battery charger, installed an LED voltmeter for the house battery, got a warranty replacement for the house battery that wasn't holding a charge, mounted some lights, redid some wiring, installed a louder horn, and installed a larger fuel tank for the heater. In classic Ken fashion, when replacing the house battery I hooked the dang thing up backwards and did a very small amount of welding. I sure thought those terminals were on the other side, but I guess they mark them for a reason. I didn't appear to do any significant damage to anything, although the radio stopped working at that point and hasn't fixed itself yet. We've been using a small rechargeable Goal Zero speaker set and an old ipod for tunes, it works pretty good but when Cara want's to watch a movie on the big screen Ken's gonna be in trouble.

On a side note, the new battery will run my Edgestar fridge for at least 5 days now, the longest we've gone so far was 3 days and we were still at 12.3v. Much better than 11.9v after 12 hours.

About 5 days into our trip it snowed in Anchorage. Mid May. May is supposed to be sunny and warm. The year I leave Hawaii it sets records for the latest snowfall and lowest temps. Cara is hating it, she's freezing.

Our 2 weeks in Anchorage dissapear at a startling rate, before we know what's happening (which seems to happen with amazing regularity) Memorial day weekend is upon us and it's time for the next stage of the trip, Tanacross.

For those that don't know, Tanacross is a small Alaskan Native village on the Yukon river, about 12 miles by highway northeast of Tok, Alaska. Yes, the town is called Tok. Pronounced Toke. But my story is not about Tok (not pronounced tock), nor is it about Tanacross. My story is about the Alaska Sports Car Club and the auto racing weekend they put together that is held at the Tanacross airfield, about a mile East of the village of Tanacross. I started going somewhere around ten years ago, about 2003. Since then, I only missed 1 Tanacross (the race, not the village) fall of 2012 because I was living in Hawaii. I'm sure the event was a catastrophic failure due to my absence, and this assumption has been supported by an unfortunate lack of stories about drunk people stumbling around. But wait, this isn't a story about me, this is Tanacross.