Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Not Enough Time

82 hours of driving.

It sounds like a long time.  Especially when you're confined in an RV with 5 people:  two teen girls, a ten year old boy and two parents.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but like the rest of life, the time together went much too quickly.  

Our first campfire in Laird River Hot Springs, BC Canada
We had never driven an RV before, and that first day driving from Forest City, Iowa to Missoula, MT started off anxiously as my husband learned from experience how to handle a 28 foot vehicle that filled almost the entire lane.  Within an hour he was driving comfortably.  It took me a little longer to feel comfortable driving the behemoth but eventually I did too.

It took us seven full days to drive from Iowa to Alaska, 3575 miles (about 510 mi/day).  Before the trip, we had planned to fill the driving time and the hours in the evening after we stopped with journaling, family video logs, playing card games and guitar, reading, talking and writing a collaborative book which we had brainstormed.  We did do some of that but many nights, by the time we had done some sightseeing and eaten our campsite dinner, we collapsed from exhaustion.

There was a lot of singing while driving.  We blasted all the kids' favorite bands like Pink, Cold Play, My Chemical Romance, and One Direction.  It's one of the best sights of a trip to see your kids singing their hearts out together.

The drive itself was amazing.  Once we got into the Canadian Rockies, around every bend was a breathtaking view.  So I took too many photos that of course could never capture the reality of the immense beauty, but it made me feel better to try.

Our first bear we saw was a huge thrill.  It was a big black bear grazing on the hillside near the road.  We pulled the RV over and watched it until it wandered back into the woods.  He didn't seem to even care we were there.  We saw a total of 16 bears, 3 of which were grizzlies, but all from the safety of our giant vehicle. Interestingly, all but one of those bears we saw in Canada.

 In Alaska, we saw two moose, some Dall sheep, lots of Bald Ealges, seals, and sea otters.  We also had the privilege of witnessing a humpback whale breaching not more than 100 yards from our boat on a wildlife cruise.

View from Homer Spit
I think my favorite Alaskan towns were Homer Spit and Juneau, but I loved everyplace we went, which also included Valdez, Seward, Anchorage and Ketchikan.

We were able to see a number of glaciers whose compacted ice reflected an intense blue color.  Many times I felt like a character in a fantasy world seeing landscapes that my mind did not think possible. Unfortunately, most of the glaciers are retreating rapidly and many had signs marking where the glaciers had been in previous years.  By the time our kids have their own children and journey back to Alaska, there
may not be many glaciers left.  

Aialik Glacier, Kenai Peninsula, AK

At the airport, when the kids figured out we were going on a cruise

Maybe the best part of the trip was the surprise.

We hadn't told the kids that for the last week we were getting on a Princess Cruise ship heading to Vancouver.  We also didn't tell them that their Grandma and Grandpa McKendry were meeting us on the ship.  But Grandma and Grandpa had a surprise of their own for us.  They brought with them my parents as well!  We were all surprised and thrilled!  It was great to end our trip with the whole family together.

Dinner on the cruise together :)

Three weeks have never gone so fast.

I hope you have all had a wonderful summer so far!

Kathy :)

And don't forget to head over to the WRiTE Club at DL Hammons.  The bouts have begun and there have already been some great pieces.

Glacier Bay