Starts and Stops and Starts

The lulling patter of rain on the roof had Ronni and I both contentedly sleeping late this morning. It was such a relaxing sound and we were in no hurry – check-out isn’t until noon.

Once we were both dressed for the weather and I’d started water heating for coffee, we took advantage of a lessening of the rain and made quick work of Ronni’s morning toilet.

A lovely, if damp, morning walk.

Driving along the Kenai River, we passed a group of rafters, laughing and splashing their way down stream. Dressed in dry-suits and helmets against the glacial-cold river, they either didn’t notice the rain or didn’t care.

Even with the clouds obscuring the mountains and rain dripping from branches, the beauty of Kenai Lake remains breathtaking. Maybe if I was a family with active children, or a fisherman, I’d feel differently, but this was just a stopover for us. Rain added a visual and audible change to our scenery from yesterday, and on a serious note, we need the rain.

After a relaxing late breakfast, it was time to hit the road again. I doubted we’d out-run the light rain, since it was forecast to continue throughout the area until this evening.

A quick stop along the Kenai River. Geez, I could’ve sworn there were mountains over there.

Between Coopers Landing and Sterling, there is no way to ignore the devastation caused by the summer 2019 Swan Lake fire. The [approx] 170,000 acre wildfire, ignited by lightning, raged on both sides of the Sterling Highway, burning up entire mountainsides and closing roads. The fire brought traffic to a complete stop numerous times on the only road connecting the Kenai Peninsula to the rest of south central Alaska.

Five years later, the damage wrought by this wildfire remains, a mute testament to the power of Mother Nature.

So, May rains are welcome, if inconvenient for early tourists. Certainly a change already from last year, when we had literally no rainfall at all throughout May and June.

Rhonda and I are headed to a three-day, indoor Barn Hunt trial that starts tomorrow, so our only inconvenience, IF it keeps raining, will be Rhonda’s dislike of rainy potty walks. Poor dear. ☔️😉

Please don’t make me go out! It’s WET!

Only one more stop before I head to the trial site. Sitting in a Fred Meyer parking lot in Soldotna may not be scenic, but by offering a single stop for gas, propane and last-minute shopping, along with RV-friendly parking – it gets ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

The Road is Calling

I’ve been on the road for only a couple of hours, but due to a lazy, late start from home, I’m already feeling the need for lunch.

Bird Point Trailhead was the perfect spot for a sandwich and a scenic walk with Ronni.

This beautifully maintained nature trail runs for over six miles along Turnagain Arm, but not having that much time to explore, Ronni and I settled for about half a mile (round-trip) to some spectacular viewing points.

There were also nice, practical, designated potty areas for Ronni. The view out my window while I enjoyed lunch was awesome, but we couldn’t linger..

Less than an hour later, I found winter again (well, not really … but geez!). It may be nearly Memorial Day, but you couldn’t tell it up on Turnagain Pass.

We didn’t take any longer at this chilly rest area than it took for a photo op. The road was calling and I had my heart set on a quieter, greener setting before dinner time.

Another hour or so and Ronni and I were settled into our lake-view campsite. You really can’t beat the view.

This is the view from my RV. The picnic table is in the lake-side site right across from me – currently occupied by a single tent. Lucky them!

As soon as we were checked in (that was a bit of a hike in itself), I took Ronni for a quick romp on the beach. This 3-minute path took us right to the shore.

The weather remains overcast, but Kenai Lake never fails to impress.

And happily, May 24th is the last day of FF/FS camping here. It’s quiet and peaceful this evening, with campsites only lightly occupied. I checked the website though – there is hardly a site not reserved (much less a lake-view site) from tomorrow through mid-July!

After a light dinner (a leftover beef-brisket sandwich from home and some macaroni salad), Ronni and I made another squirrel-scouting trip. We are now settled in for the evening.

I think this view is just perfect for spinning. What do you think?

Lost in the Towers

Never a big fan of doctor appointments, I’m not sure how I managed to make two on the same day. One in Palmer and the other in Anchorage. Ack!

Let me just say; I don’t go the the sprawling Providence Medical Center in Anchorage very often. I find the place huge, confusing and intimidating.

Today, you can add to that; running late, road construction and difficulty finding a spot to park in the five-story parking garage. Did I mention running late?

I had already needed to set my appointment back and hour because my morning appointment ran late (and thank goodness they were willing since a missed appointment is an automatic $150 fee, which is more than my actual appointment costs after insurance).

So, by the time I turned into the parking garage for Towers “S, T & U”, I had barely 10-15 minutes to get to the office, located somewhere in “Tower U”. I did NOT have time to leisurely wind my way up to the upper stories, where there was probably plenty of available parking.

So, on level three, I squeezed into the first (finally!) available spot and after parking and locking my car, made words I can’t type here as I realized I was at the far opposite corner from the elevator.

Pulling up my big-girl panties, I walked/jogged across the numerous rows of cars, using more bad words as I passed two open handicapped-parking stalls just feet from the elevator.

Of COURSE the only “Sky-Walk” connecting the parking garage to the medical suites was on level two (no wonder there weren’t any stalls available there, eh?), so I had to take the elevator down a level, sprint across the Sky-Walk to the main building and then take the nearest bank of elevators back up to the fourth floor, where my doctor was located. In Tower U.

I erupted from the elevator onto the 4th floor, somewhere in Tower T. Not sure how that happened. I trotted down a long corridor to an intersection, where a helpful sign advised me I was about to enter Tower S.

Ack! I’d gone the wrong way out of the elevator! Am I the only one who gets hopelessly turned around in these miserable, multi-level hamster-mazes?

Finally finding the corridor leading to Tower U, it was then a simple matter of counting office door numbers until I arrived, panting and out of breath, at my destination. At exactly 2:30 pm – right on time. I was impressed. The receptionist, not so much. She handed me a stack of paperwork to fill out and/or update.

After my appointment, I begged a bottle of water from the PA (thank you, Isaac!) and started trudging back the way I’d come … or so I thought.

After a couple of wrong turns, I found myself once again at an intersection with Tower T. Rolling my eyes, I looked around for the big bank of elevators, knowing I still needed to return to the second floor to take the Sky-Walk back to the parking garage.

I entered the elevator along with a man and his small son and, just making conversation, mentioned that I was struggling in this huge complex to find my way back to the Sky-Walk.

The man was quite helpful and mentioned he was also headed for the Sky-Walk, so I happily tagged along. It seemed like a longer walk than I remembered from my rush in from the garage, but chalked it up to being tired.

It wasn’t until we crossed the very lovely, once again longer than I recalled Sky-Walk and the man waved goodbye as he and his child turned into the door of the children’s cancer wing (gulp😢), that I stopped short.

Hmm. It seems there is more than one Sky-Walk within the Providence Medical Center campus. Who knew? There were some lovely garden and mountain views from this one, at least. I enjoyed them while I chugged water and rested my weary feet.

Ahead of me was the door opening into the main hospital. Not only was I not where I’d expected to be – I had managed to walk the entire distance from Tower U, through Tower T and Tower S and was (as best I could figure out) heading towards the Emergency Room.

From the windows of this Sky-Walk, I could also see in the distance the distinctive trio of towers (photo #2 above) from which I had so totally displaced myself. Oh my. I’m pretty sure my car was happily chilling in a parking garage on the far side.

I was easily half a mile from my car and completely turned around. Hospitals should have street signs. I don’t get nearly as lost when I’m driving. And hey … GPS.

I turned back, and although I can’t honestly say I retraced my steps (I did NOT recall passing this lovely sentinel on my way through the first time …)

Eventually, the most beautiful sight filled my eyes. It was a fairly short, unimpressive little Sky-Walk. At the far end was a small sign above the door. It read, “Parking Garage “.

I definitely got my allotted steps in today!

Raspberry Lemonade

You all know the saying; “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, right?

So, I did my best to make lemonade yesterday. It was leaning towards the tart side, but I managed to sneak in enough sugar towards the end to save the day.

We started out with a fun, simple idea. Jer asked what I would like to do for Mother’s Day. I suggested a nice drive if the weather cooperated, and then dinner at Olive Garden in Anchorage. I love Olive Garden – and besides, we had a gift card!

Our plan started sliding sideways pretty much right away. I called Olive Garden around noon and discovered they were already totally packed for Mother’s Day and we’re not taking any further reservations.

OK. Thinking fast, I asked, “Well, what about take-out?” They assured me that curb-side pick-up that evening would not be a problem.

So, deciding this was possibly even better, I blithely told my husband, “Let’s take the RV today instead of the car. We can have a really nice dinner without the noise and crowds.”

He was not adverse to the plan and even thought a short, scenic drive might be a good way to test out how well his still stiff and achy right leg would handle sitting in the passenger seat of the RV. It doesn’t have a ton of foot room, and we are hoping to try for a 2-3 day camping trip next week.

We decided to take the scenic road to the Eagle River Nature Center; only 17 miles long (once we get to Eagle River, which is about 30 minutes from home) and winding up into the beautiful, still snow-capped mountains of the Chugach National Forest to dead-end at the Nature Center. It should be a lovely drive on a sunny Spring day.

Neither of us has ever been to the Nature Center, so we were looking forward to it.

Our second glitch occurred soon after we exited the Glenn Hwy at Eagle River Loop Rd (one exit beyond where I should’ve exited). Oops. My bad.

So, instead of exiting at Eagle River Road, which would have taken us on a direct route to our destination, we ended up on the Loop. No big deal – it’s not that big of a town.

My mistake was saying out loud, “This doesn’t look right. I wonder if we’re on the right road?” Before I had a chance to say, “Oh, I see what I did. No worries; this will take us back to the road we want”, my dear hubby was peppering me with anxious comments from the passenger seat and back-seat driving for all he was worth, becoming more loud and agitated by the minute. Ack!

I needed to calm his quickly escalating anxiety (it’s a TBI thing, and happens more often than either of us wish, especially when in the RV). An episode can usually be diffused by parking the vehicle, turning it off and getting out of my seat to use the bathroom. Basically … walk away. Bless bathrooms that travel along with you.

In the absence of anyone except Baxter to vent his anxiety-triggered anger at (Ronni followed me to the bathroom), it only took a few minutes for Jer to bring himself under control and realize he’d overreacted. He was also motivated by the need to provide the pleasant Mother’s Day outing he’d promised.

It wasn’t long before our day was back on track and we were on Eagle River Road, heading towards the Nature Center. It was a lovely drive, with the mountains clearly visible against a mostly blue sky. The light, Spring green haze of newly opening leaves on trees and ground cover alike added to the beauty.

We passed by fast-flowing sections of Eagle River itself, stopping a couple of times to watch early fly-fishermen happily plying their craft along the shore and in one case, from mid-stream in a pair of what looked to be chest-high rubber waders. Brrr! That’s glacial water!

Then we reached our destination. The Eagle River Nature Center, which, while open for business and quite busy … had absolutely no accommodations for parking an RV. ☹️ Nope. Nadda. Car parking only. There was even a helpful sign at the entrance to what looked to be a big overflow parking area. “No RVs or Trailers”. I found myself thinking, “That might’ve been a helpful bit of advice to tag onto their website for tourist consumption before they drove 17 miles out of their way”. Oh well.

I turned to Jerry with a smile firmly in place and said, “We’ll, it’s a good thing we mostly drove up here for the view, eh?”

I added that I’d noticed a sign for the North Fork Eagle River Trailhead a few miles back and suggested we go there. We could walk the dogs, enjoy the view and have a snack before heading to Anchorage.

The trailhead had ample parking. Jer and Baxter enjoyed a short walk and conversation with several hikers coming to or departing from the parking lot.

Ronni and I ventured further down the trail to the river, even walking along the sandy gravel beach, which Rhonda thought was excellent. Sadly, after a second encounter within 15 minutes with loose dogs on the trail, we headed back to the RV. Ronni thought the dogs looked like possibly great new playmates, but with no owners in sight, I wasn’t about to make such assumptions.

North Fork of Eagle River

This quiet little trail side area, surrounded by trees and high, snow-capped peaks, easily fulfilled my desire to take a drive and see something beautiful. So, glitches not withstanding, I was happy to continue my Mother’s Day outing and head towards Anchorage and our planned dinner.

Perseverance and a determined happy attitude saved the day. We parked near a small median of grass and bushes at the edge of the Olive Garden parking lot and ordered dinner online for curbside service .

Jerry walked the dogs, poop bags in hand, while I set the table. Jer had barely returned with the dachshunds before I received the text from Olive Garden that our meal was ready for pick up.

YUM! The entrees arrived hot and the salads cold. Jer had his favorite Chicken Parmigiana, while I dove delightedly into their signature Seafood Alfredo Fettuccine. Oh my … shrimp and scallops in an Alfredo sauce to die for.

And their “house” Raspberry Lemonade absolutely made my day!

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