March Madness!

Don’t get me wrong … I enjoy a beautiful snowy day as much as the next person. Give me a crackling fire, be it fireplace or wood stove, a hot cup of coffee or cocoa and a big picture window looking out on a snowy landscape and I can be utterly at peace. Add a spinning wheel and it’s Heaven!

Usually. Well, OK … early in winter, I enjoy a good snowfall. Face it – Christmas in Alaska SHOULD be white and snowy, right? And one pretty much expects January and February to be cold, with snow-laden tree branches and icy walkways. It’s winter – might as well enjoy the beauty that comes with the cold.

But … it’s MARCH now. My expectations have changed. Tomorrow is Daylight Savings – we turn our clocks forward tonight and get more evening daylight! I am eagerly envisioning spring, even though, obviously, Mother Nature is unwilling to concede the winter playing field just yet.

Still, I have to admit, the snowfall today has been lovely. Tree branches, in naked shades of brown and gray, stand as proud sentinels above mounds of white-shrouded brush and ground-cover.  With no wind at the moment, each branch, from thigh-thick birch branch to the most delicate willow twig, is edged with a layer of pillow-soft snow. Each little fork between branches has a “V” of white, softening the stark outline of the trees and leaving the entire picture slightly out of focus. Pluffs of snow shower down to the forest floor periodically, displaced by a squirrel or bird.

For now, spring seems quite a ways off. I awoke this morning to single digits and a fairly heavy, fluffy snowfall, blurring the view from my bedroom window. Dawn held a pale pink glow through the trees, but just a shadow of its usual brightness. The crust of snow atop the deck railing was several inches higher than it had been last night, confirming it had been coming down for a while.

On a happier note; as I sipped my morning coffee, I was gifted with a visual treat. Through the falling snow, out over the glistening white pasture east of our house, my eyes caught movement. I held my breath as the dark wings of a bald eagle swooped low over the frigid ground; glistening, nearly black wings gliding in bright contrast against pale gray sky and falling snow. It drifted by my second story window, not more than a hundred feet away, disappearing again with one slow, powerful flap of wing. What a way to start my day!

Snow doesn’t usually interfere with errands or play dates in Alaska. Time to hit the road! After clearing several inches of snow from the car, I headed off at noon with my younger Dachshund, Rhonda, for Barn Hunt practice. We had a fun afternoon chasing rats (don’t worry – the rats are safely and securely enclosed in strong plastic tubes, much to Ronni’s disappointment), after which Ronni was happy to nap in the car while I picked up mail and made a quick stop at the store before heading home.

It’s late afternoon now, with temps in the low 20s. The snow is still falling, but lighter, sifting from the sky like powdered sugar, coating all surfaces equally. Standing outside in a waterproof jacket, waiting for the dogs to finish up their “business”, I enjoyed the sound of the tiny, fast-falling pellets bouncing off my coat. I wouldn’t describe them as snowflakes right now. More like Styrofoam beads.

I remember my childhood in southern California; seeing Christmas displays at the local stores and thinking, “How completely FAKE that looks! Snow doesn’t look like Styrofoam beads!” Well …. yes, sometimes it does. Who knew?

Cabin Fever Strikes!

Or … Alternative caption: “Dream RV Adventure or Short RV Trips?”

There is, sadly, often a big difference between the RV trip we WANT to take and the RV trip we know is within our capabilities, physically, financially and time-wise. But one has to dream big, right? It may not happen, but if we don’t even consider it, it DEFINITELY won’t happen.

Do you remember this joke? (I’m probably mangling it, but it’s as close as I remember it.)

Leo says, “God, I need money. Help me win the Lotto.” He waits a week. Nothing. He calls out again, “God, I need money! Please help me win the lotto!” Again, he waits. Week after week, he waits. Still nothing. Finally, he says, “God, I don’t understand! I keep telling you I need help and yet you do nothing!”

God’s voice booms down from above … “Leo! Could you at least BUY A TICKET?!”

Basically, you can wish and hope, but in the end it’s still up to you to do something to make things happen. Take an active role in trying to achieve your goals. You may not succeed, but you will at least be able to say you tried. One of my favorite song lyrics says it this way:

“We have two lives, one we’re given and the other one we make.”

– Mary Chapin Carpenter

Today; it’s mid-February, snowing again, and windy on top of it, and I have “cabin-fever”. So, I’m spending a few hours day-dreaming and looking forward to warmer, sunnier weather and going camping – this is my way to combat cabin fever. Come dream with me …

Campground near Skaha Lake just outside of Penticton, BC

First, I should say that I have plenty of alternative options if my big dream is thwarted. The alternatives to my “dream adventure” are very much doable. I can re-visiting Valdez (it’s one of my favorite drives here in Alaska) and maybe take the commuter ferry from Valdez to Whittier. I’m already planning to head down to the Kenai Peninsula this coming summer for K9 Nose Work, AKC Scent Work and Barn Hunt trials with Baxter and Ronni. Another trip to Seward, just for the fun of it, is high on my list too. I’d also like to make it back to Fairbanks eventually, since my trip up there was cut so short last time. I think I’ve adequately proven you can’t see Fairbanks in three hours. Seriously. 😉 So, as you can see, it’s not as though I don’t have options.

But there are options and there are choices. If given my choice, I want to pack my RV and head south. South as in Canada and the lower 48.

The road to Tok – heading for the border

So … here goes initial planning for the “RV adventure of a lifetime” that I WANT to indulge in even though I figure it’s probably well out of reach. Wanting something is the first step. I want – thus, I will plan. If I have to settle for something less, or put it off another year, so be it. Even if it never gets past the planning stage, that planning and dreaming should keep me occupied for the rest of the winter. 🙂

Proposed trip itinerary; Alaska to Oregon (where son number one lives). Best-case scenario would also include Wisconsin (son number two) and a Fall-Color tour. Then down to Ohio for a Sheep & Fiber Festival – have spinning wheel/will travel! The end goal would be to return to Oregon, leave the RV there in the care of number one son, and fly back to Alaska for the remainder of the winter. Or maybe until Christmas.

In my day-dreams; my ideal time-frame for departing from Wasilla would be mid-August 2020 (this is very much just throwing a date out there at this point, due to too many things to count – it could end up being 2021, or never, but … I’m not getting any younger). The idea is to take my time traveling through Canada, stopping wherever I feel like it (there is SO much to see!), or whenever Baxter needs to potty (always an important consideration) for two to three weeks, crossing the border back into the USA in Washington State.

I’ve driven through Canada 4-5 times to date, but all of those trips were destination-driven. We were driving from point A to point B and did not take ANY time to sight-see except for the beauty viewed along the roadside as we zoomed by – and there was a LOT of beauty! I’d like to slow down and smell the roses (or fireweed … whatever). Traveling by RV is definitely the way to do this.

I’ve been perusing my Milepost and day-dreaming. I want to start putting this down on paper (so to speak) and see where it takes me. It’ll be a fun project and I’ll probably wander all over the map before ever settling on an actual route – real or make-believe. I’ll have to remember to thank Sandy for showing me how to read the Milepost … well, sort of. 😉

So, do you want to come along? If you are not already following my blog, now’s the time to sign up. If nothing else, we’ll learn a lot more about Canada!

My most recent trip through Canada is still fresh in my memory. I drove down the Cassiar Hwy with my friend, Sandy, last October and loved every mile of it – even the snowy ones. I marked my Milepost with dozens of sights I’d like to re-visit or places I’d like to stop overnight (or longer) in the RV. Sandy and I were traveling by car and had time constraints, so although it was a lovely drive, we pushed through pretty quickly.

I might want to repeat that route (slower, and preferably with less snow), but then diverge west towards the bottom of British Colombia; heading to Vancouver Island and then down the west coast to Portland (and then inland to my son’s house) this trip.

cell-phone snap shot of a Milepost page.

Or I might aim for the ALCAN instead, starting way up in the Yukon and skipping the Cassiar entirely.  Laird Hot Springs, Jasper, Banff … and whatever else is off that direction. By the first of September, I’m hoping campgrounds and scenic vistas throughout Canada will be less crowded – a big consideration since I don’t plan on making reservations.

Well? What do you think? Shall I let my fingers do the walkin’ for now?

Mental Stimulation – Key to a Happy Retirement?

After retiring last fall from my office job of the past eight years, I gave a lot of thought to how best to keep my mind active and productive. I believe I mentioned that I was going to start writing again for BellaOnline – an international multi-topic online magazine owned and operated by women.

I’ve been writing for BellaOnline since mid-December, but put off sending a link to you here on my personal blog because the BellaOnline site has been undergoing a major (and unavoidable) server change and they were experiencing a lot of script errors and delays in page loading. Although it seems to be a work in progress still, most of the major bugs have been resolved at this point. You SHOULD be able to click on the link to MY site (listed below) and get to it promptly at this point.

BellaOnline’s Mission Statement reads:

BellaOnline is an encouraging, supportive publishing community for women. We provide free training, support, and promotion so writers may reach their personal and business goals. Overall, BellaOnline delivers high-quality, helpful, trustworthy content, at no cost, in a low advertisement environment for our millions of visitors.

Quote from “About Us” at BellaOnline.com: “BellaOnline is not a corporation, or an entity with large funding. In a world where most content sites are owned by TV and Media conglomerates, we are fiercely independent. We are a community of women who live all around the globe. We support each other, train each other, and together we strive to offer the highest quality content we can to our visitor audience.”

The site I have once again become the editor of in this vast network of editors is the “Alaska Site” and I’m enjoying getting back into the saddle, so to speak, of writing a weekly article. I’ve already made friends with the “Canadian Culture” editor, the “Knitting” editor and several others – so many, many topics, and each one has a real person writing weekly articles!

BTW; BellaOnline is always looking for potential new editors and have a list of topics. Also, if you love to write and would like to suggest a topic that isn’t on the list, feel free to contact them. As you’ll see from a quick scan through the website, the variety of topics is nearly endless. Just a thought for my fellow bloggers to consider. 😉

It’s entirely up to me to pick what I want to write about each week; travel destinations, book reviews, flora and fauna, history … absolutely anything Alaskan. I can’t imagine running out of ideas, and the research for many of my topic ideas just add more ideas to the list.

I do plan on using my own in-state RV travel experiences as jumping off points for quite a few articles, so some of my own stories and RV related articles will be mixed in with more informative or serious articles. My recent article, “The Whittier Tunnel to Prince William Sound”, was based on last summers fun adventure – I’m hoping it will encourage other Alaskan visitors to add Whittier to their trip lists. 🙂

Here is a direct link to my Alaska site: https://alaska.bellaonline.com/Site.asp

I hope you’ll visit, read some of my articles, and maybe even click on the “Follow Alaska” link to be added to my newsletter. Just like my personal blog, my BellaOnline site will ONLY send you one weekly email, letting you know what new article topic I’ve written about and giving you a direct link to the article.

As an example; here is a link to one of the articles I’ve written this past month: https://www.bellaonline.com/article.asp?

When you visit my Alaska site, you’ll want to check for my name as author to find the close to two dozen articles I have up so far. I actually have an advantage over many new editors – since I held this same position nearly 10 years ago, I already had quite a few articles published on the site from my previous stint as editor. I’ve simply begun adding to them again.

You will notice there are still a lot of articles written by “Guest Authors”. These articles were written, for the most part, by previous Alaska editors and will remain on the site until I have sufficient articles of my own for them to slowly drop off, at which point they will remain in achieves and are searchable by search engine until such time as the previous editor request to remove them, if they do.

AND … since I’m always up for new challenges; I will challenge YOU right now to come up with an idea for a new article for me to research. I’m building a list of topics and would love to add to it. All my personal blog posts will remain here, where I can be more casual and share my personal thoughts, photos and feelings. I think it’s going to prove to be a nice balance for me. 🙂

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