In Search of Fall Foliage

If I sit in my driveway long enough, fall foliage will inevitably find me all on its own, but seriously, where’s the fun in that?

Those were my thoughts early last week, as I pondered one last outing in the RV before having to close it up for the long winter months ahead.

The weather just hadn’t been cooperating. Trying to coerce Mother Nature into providing a couple of convenient sunny days in between twice weekly physical therapy visits and the already scheduled appointment to get Roada (the RV) washed and waxed, had seemed increasingly unlikely as temperatures continued to drop and rain continued to fall.

Of course, if you read my last blog post, you know how that “wash & wax” appointment played out.

So, there we were, at 7:30 am, in downtown Anchorage, with a dirty RV and no place to go.

Simply heading straight back home was not an option. It was a glorious sunny day! If we couldn’t get our expected day-long spa treatment, we could certainly find other ways to amuse ourselves in Anchorage.

I set my GPS to direct us to Kincaid Park, a huge and well-loved playground just minutes from downtown Anchorage – and one I had yet to visit.

Being right on the shore of Cook Inlet, fall colors had not yet peaked here, although you can see “termination dust” along the top of Sleeping Lady (Mt. Susitna) in the background.

In fact, it still looked remarkably summer-like with soccer games in full swing, bikers, hikers and dog-walkers abounding and acres of green grass beckoning to picnickers.

Ronni and I enjoyed a leisurely one-mile loop along one of the groomed trails, taking a fun detour across a beautiful and very scenic raised wooden bridge. It was from the bridge that I was able to take in the lively soccer game being played far below.

But, there were sadly way too many off-leash and poorly controlled dogs for my comfort on this busy Saturday, so we chose to move on.

By the way; why is it that so many people walk their dogs on leash until they pass the clearly posted signs stating “All dogs must be on leash”, and then, once past the signs, immediately take the leashes off and let them run?

No rant intended here … I have nothing against well-mannered dogs whose owner wants to play frisbee with their dog in the park. Been there, done that for many years. But there are better places, especially if your dog does not have a solid recall or has a tendency to rush up to strangers and their on-leash dogs. 🤷‍♀️

Anyway, I was in search of fall colors, so after an hour or so of [mostly] enjoying the scenery and the activities, I bid adieu to Kincaid Park and continued my journey.

As I headed north on the Glenn Highway, I didn’t get far before a lightbulb went off and I thought, “if I just went up a bit in elevation, I might find the colors I was seeking …“. Gee, I wonder where I got that idea from?

Impulsively taking the off-ramp for Eagle River Loop Road, I pointed Roada’s sturdy metal nose uphill. It was only moments before I found myself engulfed in an enchanted gold-gilded paradise.

I admittedly made slow progress, since I found it necessary to pull over to better appreciate the view and snap pictures every few minutes.

THIS was what I’d been craving. If I had to accept that fall was indeed here, I wanted the beauty of the season, and I wanted it NOW.

Fortunately, there are plenty of pull-offs amply sized for an RV, spaced regularly along the aptly named Eagle River Road.

Ahhhh … My Happy Place 🍁🍁🍁

Making Lemonade

I like it when a plan comes together, everything works out beautifully and the results are exactly as expected.

And then there is reality.

After jumping through multiple hoops to finally snag an appointment to have my RV professionally washed, waxed and buffed prior to winterizing, I was less than thrilled to be told, “Oh, by the way, our Wasilla location is currently closed, so you’ll need to bring the motorhome to Anchorage to have this done – and have it here first thing in the morning”. Arrghh!

So … I switched gears to make this early Saturday morning appointment work. I am NOT a big “morning person”, so the idea of rising at 5:00 am to get on the road at 6:30 am was less than appealing.

Instead of having Jer follow me to the near-by local facility to drop “Roada” off and return later in the day to pick her up as we had initially planned, I decided to drive the RV into Anchorage on Friday evening.

It would be simple enough to spend the night in the free RV parking area at Cabala’s, and I’d only be a few blocks from the RV Detailing facility I was heading for in the morning. 👍🏼

No biggie. I’m fine with a good excuse for a weekend adventure – and figured I might even stop in Eagle River for a short fall foliage overnight on my way home with my bright and shiny RV.

Saturday morning dawned crisp and sunny. I dragged myself out of my warm blankets early, flipped the thermostat up to get some much needed heat flowing and started coffee.

With the rig now nicely heated, Ronni was enticed out from her warm spot under the blankets I’d recently vacated. She made it as far as the closest floor heater vent before collapsing once again in the flow of warm air.

It was sort of a “Garfield” moment; “I’m not sure I can make it across [the sunny/warm spot] …. awake!” 😄

I quickly dressed, knowing I needed to get an early start. My phone beeped an incoming text message just as I was dressing and leashing Ronni up for her morning potty walk.

It was the guy from the RV Detailing place – TEXTING me to cancel my appointment. The appointment I was supposed to be at in less than an hour! It seems his tech (he only has one?) had a tummy ache. Right.

No phone call, no apology or request to reschedule. Just a text message; “I’m disappointed to tell you we have to cancel.” 🤷‍♀️ HE is disappointed?

So … now what? It’s 7:30 am on a Saturday morning.

Well, Ronni loves the Cabala’s RV area, so it wasn’t a totally wasted trip. It not only has a large, well-maintained lawn area for dog walking, but there are SQUIRRELS!

Watching for wily squirrels!

I think I need more coffee.

More about our radically changed weekend plans coming soon. Yes, I truly do believe the old saying; “When life hands you lemons – make lemonade!

Quiet Skies Over Alaska

Remembering the shock and horror of September 11, 2001; I stand in my yard at home in Alaska today.

As I scan the sky for the comforting normalcy of small planes passing overhead, I clearly remember the eerie silence of that day twenty years ago when all planes were abruptly ordered out of the sky.

If you are not an Alaskan, or someone who lives near a busy airport elsewhere, you may not be able to quite comprehend the total and unnatural silence of a sky suddenly, very suddenly, empty of airplanes.

In Alaska, air travel is part of everyday life. The drone of plane engines a background noise noticed more by its absence.

My home is loosely surrounded by private airstrips, a small city airport and several lakes large enough to host any number of float-planes.

Wherever you stand in Alaska; if you can see a large portion of the sky, chances are you will locate at least one airplane in the air. Often more than one.

Every year, on September 11th, I stand in my yard, looking to the sky for airplanes. Each one I see brings comfort on this terrible anniversary, just as it brings back memories of the silence of that tragic day.

I pause, remembering and honoring in my heart the thousands lost to the 9/11/2001 terrorist attack. As the daughter of a firefighter, I send up a special prayer for the heroes of the NYFD, then and now.


Paying the Piper

My eyes glued to a branch of bright golden leaves gaily fluttering among its host of bright green neighbors, I find myself already pining for a summer too soon ending.

I am certain my sometimes frantic desire to cram as much as possible into this summer season, especially early on, stemmed from my deep need to make up for an entire year lost. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this yearning.

Entering every single Scent Work, K9 Nose Work and Barn Hunt trial available to me (starting last February!), and combining each with an RV outing as soon as temperatures allowed in early May – I flung myself into these activities.

I pushed forward with little physical preparation after a long stretch of time with insufficient exercise. I literally overdid to the point of injuring myself, and even then, although I gave in enough to seek medical help, continued to push my 71-year-old body until it finally rebelled and one day I found myself unable to walk at all.

This was a reckoning I hadn’t seen coming, and it rocked me back on my heels (no pun intended). In the past, I’ve always been able to work through aches and pains, recovering strength quickly. Not so this year.

It was, perhaps, foolish to have pushed myself so hard. Moderation would have been more sensible after over a year of relative inactivity, but I could not seem to help myself.

I wasn’t getting any younger, and there was so much I wanted to do!

Now I find myself wondering if the summer has flown by so quickly partly because I have neglected to slow down and enjoy it.

As I sit here, sipping the last of my morning coffee, I ponder the future. I’ve reconciled myself to the knowledge that I won’t be driving my beloved “Roada” south this fall.

Between the uncertainty of the ongoing Covid pandemic and my own health concerns, this just isn’t the year to go haring off into a foreign country (not even Canada) by myself.

Still, I ache for more. Just one really long road trip. I daydream about it constantly.

Maybe next year.

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