I think Rhonda left out a few key details in her “story”, so I’ll start a week or so earlier and perhaps fill in a few gaps.
A couple of days prior to Father’s Day, as I was wrapping up the silly Father’s Day t-shirt I’d bought Jerry as a gag gift, the local news was running a weather segment.
They were talking about the extended high-pressure system about to hit south-central Alaska and the expected 80+ temps we were likely to see in the Anchorage and Matanuska Valley areas. I groaned.
All right; laugh if you will. We’re Alaskans. 70°F has traditionally been t-shirt and shorts weather. Folks flock to the lakes, turn on the house fans (keeping in mind its Alaska and few houses have air-conditioning because it hardly ever gets to 70°), and complain about the heat.
If the thermometer actually hits 80°, we melt like the wicked witch of the west.
Adding to the discomfort is the current omnipresent smoke haze from massive wildfires in south-western Alaska. Between the heat index and lightning strikes, the Alaskan tundra is literally going up in smoke.
We live in the spectacular Matanuska Valley, surrounded on three sides (almost four sides on a clear, crisp day, with Sleeping Lady – aka Mt. Susitna – visible beyond Cook Inlet) by massive mountain ranges; the Chugach range, the Matanuska range, the Talkeetna range, and beyond that the vast Alaska range.
Just driving to the grocery store or Home Depot often leaves me filled with gratitude for the sheer beauty around me.
Sadly, this past week or so, tourists driving through the Matanuska Valley have periodically (depending on the direction of the wind) seen little more than a mediocre-size town with seemingly nothing in the way of memorable features. They would have no idea of the towering mountains hiding behind the smoke haze.
So, there I was, splitting my attention between the t-shirt and the weather report.
A plan hatched, full-blown and complete down to the tail feathers (I don’t recall which family member used to say that). A t-shirt was not enough, not after the winter Jer had put in caring for me and my new knee.
I was going to take that man on a Father’s Day vacation! But where … my handy cell phone weather app showed the extended forecast for all my favorite destinations within Alaska.
Which looked best? Valdez? Seward? Homer? It pretty much needed to be on the water, preferably with ocean breezes, if we were to avoid the incipient heat wave.
Surprised, I noted right away that Seward, right on Resurrection Bay, showed three of five days being bright ☀️☀️☀️. YES! The other days showed partly cloudy, which for Seward was still a brilliant forecast.
I immediately clicked on waterfront campgrounds in Seward, noting that the price “with hook-ups” was substantially higher AND two rows back from the water. Huh.
Without batting an eyelash, I reserved five days right on the waterfront – right where I most wanted to be. All innocence; I told my dear husband that all the sites with hook-ups (water and electric) were already reserved. That’s what happens when you do these things last minute. But we’d be right on the water – yay!!
Hey, don’t be feeling all sorry for Jerry. Our RV is equipped with everything we could possibly need for five days of boon-docking along the edge of Resurrection Bay in Seward, Alaska. No electric hook-up simply means no television. Better yet!
Jerry made up for the lack of a microwave breakfast (definitely no generators are allowed to fire up at 5:00 am!) by walking about a mile into the small boat harbor, where they cater to fishermen. By the time he was ready to come home (to the RV), the City of Seward’s free shuttle bus was running and happy to bring him back. At which time, I was just up and starting to make coffee.
He repeated several times this early morning routine of [first] walking Baxter, who always gets up when Jer does and needs urgently to go out, and then walking to the harbor. He obviously enjoyed this quiet, early morning stroll.
Jer also discovered that listening to his audio books with a dog in his lap while watching fishing and tour boats motor by on the ever-changing bay was both relaxing and entertaining. Add in huge cruise ships, the occasional sea lion or otter playing in the surf just off shore and he was hooked.
Being the gregarious sort, Jer also enjoyed spending a good deal of time walking Baxter, who has a typical old-dog bladder at the age of twelve. Baxter seldom made it past the big rock directly across from our campsite before relieving himself, but he was happy to accompany Jer up and down the walking path as he (Jer, not Baxter) struck up one conversation after another. I’m sure many more rocks, logs and clumps of sea grass were christened, at least briefly, along the way.
We often began these walks along the paved walking path as a family, enjoying the sights and sounds along the waterfront, but Ronni is more particular about her toilet habits than Baxter and much prefers grass when it’s available.
So, the four of us would walk along for a while together, then Jerry would pause to chat with someone while I continued on with Rhonda, following her ever-active nose until she found an appropriate grassy spot to do her business.
Jerry and I both had to be aware of our surroundings when walking two active dachshunds on leash along a paved path shared by walkers (many with their own dogs), joggers, bikers and children. It was sometimes more like running an obstacle course than taking a walk, but we somehow managed not to take down a single person.
We ate out at restaurants a couple of times, easily avoiding the $99 crab legs (seriously?!), smiling like naughty children indulging in forbidden fruits as we munched on grilled halibut, scallops and sea-food chowder (we don’t allow ourselves expensive dinners out often, much less a couple of times in one week), and were always careful to finish our meal in time to catch the last shuttle bus back to the campground.
After one particularly resounding failure (see “A day in the Life” for Ronni’s side of the story), Rhonda pretty much got on board with being left, along with her quieter brother, in the RV while Jerry and I wandered around town, doing tourist things and visiting the Sea-Life Center. I checked in with our neighbor to be sure – she assured me there had been nary a peep.
At the end of the week, Jerry rather sheepishly admitted to me that he’d had a really good time, and that he was surprised how little he’d even thought about his TV or internet – both of which I’m pretty sure he thought he couldn’t live without for 24 hours, much less five days.
I call that a successful family vacation. ✔️