On The Road Again 2005
by Sharon Gerardi
The Road Continues – March 2005
This blog post chronicles our family’s 2005 adventures in an RV named Lucia. After we returned from Newfoundland, we traded up our RV so that we had a “slide” that gave us more room, especially in our hallway. These adventures were originally posted on Sharon’s Creative Art….And away we go….
Well, we have had a wonderful, beautiful trip so far. Paul has done a lot of work on the RV (Lucia) turning it into a homier atmosphere (i.e. spice rack, book shelves, bedside shelf for my evening tea. J
We are presently in Great Falls, Montana getting ready to cross the Canadian Border heading up to Alaska.
Now then, down to business! We left Orlando in a whirl wind on March 29th. After selling the home, shoving everything in storage, and Paul cutting a CD, we were frazzled. Paul’s new CD Naked truth is awesome (if I say so myself). It’s got a political feel to it and some Bob Dylan type tunes. It also has 2 tunes about Newfoundland. If you haven’t got one yet….. we ship anywhere
3–05 We headed up to Summerville, SC to do the Flowertown Festival.
We met Brian and Laura from Montana at the show. They are fellow artisans and we really hit it off with them. (Check out their website www.artonfeathers.com ) After the show we all went camping at Francis Marion National Forest in Buck Hall. It was very relaxing and recharging.
A dear friend of mine was killed by a hit and run on Colonial Drive. His name was Michael Rood, and he will be missed by many, especially his mother Diane and his 3-year-old daughter Ruby. May peace and healing come quickly to you in your time of loss.
A new addition this trip is Akbar (aka ‘Mister Hollywood’), Paul’s black 11 year-old Egyptian cat. He is adjusting very well, and really enjoying the diverse animals we have come across so far (cats, dogs, rabbits, deer, horses, elk, buffalo) Miss Sow (Robyn’s pet rat) is as wonderful as ever. Her tumor hasn’t got the best of her yet. We hope to have her around a long time.
While in Charleston our VW microbus ‘Gertie’ received a cracked head. Thank goodness Paul had prepared for such a thing and already had an engine built and just needed to be shipped, which we did.
4-11-05 After visiting the Charleston area we headed up to Kings Mountain near Charlotte, NC. Ginger, Joe and their sweet dog ‘Gracie’ visited us from Raleigh met us there. We had a nice, but brief visit. It was a great camp ground, we all had a great hike all around it. I can’t get over how wonderful it is to have wisteria growing wild all over the place. Not only is it a beautiful purple, but it smells fabulous.
All along the way we were still settling into our new RV. It’s name is ‘Lucia’. “OH LUCIA I’M HOME”….. We really love our new home, it’s a big upgrade from ‘Freda’.
4-15 Headed into Atlanta. We dropped Robyn off with her Dad and Paul and I went onto Tim’ and Sue’s place. Great to catch up with them and enjoy their wonderful home in the spring. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know their cat ‘Jazz’, and eating Tim’s great cooking. Tim, you look great! Good luck with all your biking fun, I’m really proud of what you have accomplished with your health changes. You look Maavelous!
4-18 Starting our trek to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We traveled through nice rolling hills in Tennessee, then straight through Arkansas to Oklahoma. We stayed overnight in Oklahoma and not to offend anyone…. Oklahoma is the pits, it has to be the smelliest, dirtiest and worst road (I-40) ever. I could not wait to get out of that state, it was (if you can believe it) nice to see Texas. We stayed in a little place just outside of Amarillo. It was cool getting use to the dry air, the people in Texas were great. We are averaging about 6 hours driving a day, sometimes more, sometimes less.
4-21 We drove to Santa Rosa, New Mexico and stayed at the State Park there. It was a beautiful, dry, quiet place. We hiked down to the Blue Hole (a.k.a Santa Rosa Lake), which is one of the deepest Lakes in North America. It was actually very muddy looking when we saw it, being it was just coming down from the Mesa’s. It’s nice being in cool/dry weather. I still don’t miss the hot humidity…yet!
4-22 We arrived in Albuquerque at Alan and Betsy’s place. They immediately took us to a Mexican restaurant to have sangria and incredible Mexican food. We settled in their front yard and really enjoyed their home. Robyn had a great time playing in the backyard with all her Pokemon and watching all the great old shows and movies they had. We had some good down time while waiting for the VW engine to be delivered.
4-28 We traveled on to my friend Stella’s place (sister of different mother’s) also living in Albuquerque. She has a very enchanted place, I do believe fairies live there. She had grass in her yard….which is somewhat rare in New Mexico. She also has a beautiful garden with cute little things everywhere. She and Robyn had a great time together looking and exploring all the items around her house. To our delight she also is a massage therapist…J Thanks for the work on my Achilles! and Paul’s back after he rebuilt and installed the VW engine.
I wanted Stella and Allan & Betsy to meet, knowing they would hit it off. Of course as the universe would have it, they already knew each other. They just didn’t know ‘That’s the Stella, you’ve been talking about’ or ‘That’s the Allan & Betsy you’ve been talking about’. We had a great laugh over it and we all went up to Sandia Peak, which has the longest tramway in North America. It was great! When we started at the bottom it was 75o, when we got to the top it was 36o…and SNOWING. I can’t remember the last time I giggled so much. Robyn of course played in the snow till she almost turned blue.
Thank you Stella, Alan & Betsy for truly showing us that Albuquerque is enchanted.
5-6 OTRA to Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe. Stocked up on all the essentials and headed up to Taos. We stopped at the Pueblo by accident….we took a wrong turn and it ended there. But, to our advantage, Robyn was able to make friends with a new colt, that would only go to her. We then headed out to the Rio Grande Gorge. It was really a neat place that we were able to walk out on the bridge to be right on top of it. Incredible view with the mountains in the background with snow on them. We continued on our travels and ended up taking a scenic route, (totally by accident). It was really eerie passing houses that were buried in the ground with solar panels and fully self contained … off the Grid. You could easily get lost out there and no one would know……anyway, it got muchbetter on down the road a bit. Lots of snow capped mountains with green prairies, we hugged the San Juan Mountains. We had to listen to John Denver since we were headed to Colorado. When we got to Colorado we stayed overnight in a place called Alamosa that look onto a hughe mountain called Blanca Peak (14,345 elevation), we had the best steak dinner in a place called ‘True Grits’, it had a John Wayne theme.
We got into Denver just in time for Gertie’s tow bar to break, just 2 block from my friends Byron and Eric. We had a great stay and a wonderful Salmon dinner with them catching up. We made lots of phone calls and got the tow bar fixed and OTRA….The only problem was there was snow up ahead (that made this Florida girl a little nervous), we kept up with the weather and headed to ‘Sierras Trading Post’, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to find some deals on outdoor wear (I finally got a warm pair of slippers). They said we could stay the night in the parking lot, so we settled in. At about 7 pm it started to snow….yippie! We must of looked crazy to the security guard working that night……us out there in our PJ’s making snow balls. The next morning we had over 2 inches of snow! It didn’t take long to melt and we were OTRA. Next stop Kaycee, Wy were we stayed at a place that was a farm. The owners had kids so Robyn was in her glory, playing with horses, cows, pigs and a donkey (looked just like the one in Shrek). Great Spot!
5-13 Arrived at Brian and Laura’s in Townsend, Montana. They have 5 acres nestled between two mountain ranges, really awesome site. The sun is staying up more these days, being so close to the northern hemisphere. Brain has filled us in on the best routes to take to Alaska, since he’s done the trip many times. We had a great time celebrating Paul’s birthday, we had Buffalo burgers and chocolate cake…..life is good. We had some great c onversations and bonding time with our wonderful Montana friends. We wish your Dad a quick recovery Laura, he is in our thoughts and prayers.
We did a lot of work on Lucia getting her ready for the trip to AK.
5-21 OTRA up through Helena then through an incredible Canyon like I have never seen…ever view was like a screen saver. Alas, no camera to get a good shot. We arrived in Great Falls and met with Judy from the Unity Church of Greater Falls. We hit it off right away and felt very comfortable. We stayed overnight at her place and did some drumming and singing. We really enjoyed her home and the beauty of the Missouri River all the next day. Thanks again Judy…..for everything!
Well that’s all for now folks, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to send the next BLOG. It will take us approximately 3 weeks to get to Alaska. PLEASE, email me I would love to hear from you.
The trip up here was….was…well words just can’t describe it, make sure you check out our photos. It was MAGNIFICANT to say the least. I’m glad I was reminded before we got on the Alaska Canadian Highway (ALCAN) that “It’s the journey not the destination”.
5-22 We left Townsend, MT with a heavy heart. We really enjoyed Laura & Brain’s Place and enjoyed the beauty and majesty of Montana. Thanks again Laura for the eye shades they really help me sleep. We traveled through Helena, MT on route 15 towards Great Falls. We passed through a canyon that took my breathe away….every turn was a screen saver shot! A magical place. We made it to Great Falls, MT and settled into the Unity Church for our work/play day there. Judy (Board member) met us there and greeted us with a warm welcome. It was the first time we were given a key to the church to set up…..it’s nice to be trusted. We all had a great time at this church, it was quality people not quantity. The night after the service we were invited to spend the night at Judy’s on the Missouri River…right were Louis & Clarke’s trail was (there is a marker in her back yard). It was a great evening, we got a good drumming session in and a great dinner.
5-23 Crossed over the Border to the Alberta plains. Very plain 😉 lots of rolling hills, antelope, cows, etc. We arrived in Calgary and Paul ventured into town to check out the local scene. Robyn and I visited the Calgary zoo; our favorite part was the Canadian area where we got to see all the incredible animals we hope to see on the trip ahead. Moose, elk, buffalo, mountain sheep, mountain goats, wolf, grizzly, black bear, and coyote. The weather was great as well, lows’ in the mid 30’s to 40’s highs between 60 – 70.
5-26 The next day we drove into the Badlands of Alberta. We ran into incredible winds (45mph gusts) we crawled into the valley of Drumheller and called it a night. The next day we visited the ‘worlds largest dinosaur” We hiked the inside stairs and had a great view of the badlands, looking out his mouth. We then went onto the Royal Tyrell Museum. What an excellent museum, it covered the major discoveries in this area for dinosaur remains; everything about it was well done. After the museum, someone recommended that we take the ferry across the river on the way up north. Next time we will need to let them know the big rig we have. We ended up taking some
incredible steep grades straight down to the river. Once at the river we barely fit onto a ferry that didn’t go more than 600 feet to the other side. What fun that was (of course I was the lucky one driving) bottoming out…..then the fun part…..climbing UP the hill! It was our last excitement in the Badlands before heading north to catch the ALCAN Highway.
5-27 We made it to Grande Prairie, Alberta and stayed over night in a parking lot. We went to see the “Madagascar” movie (pretty cute), and wandered around the shopping area. We are still getting use to virtually 24 hours of daylight. The sun is now going down around midnight, with twilight in between and the sun rising around 4 in the morning. It’s great for driving, we take our time in the morning and drive until around 8 pm and it’s still light out.
5-28 We had a ‘Tremendous’ drive today. After we stocked up with groceries and got our picture taken at the ALCAN 0 mile marker we left Dawson Creek. Paul almost hit an Elk that ran into the road (close call) then about an hour later, there was a Moose on the side of the road that we stopped to find out why (plus not wanting to hit it). It crossed the road right in front of us and trailing behind it was a little baby moose just getting use to having legs. It was awesome! I was unable to get a great photo, I got one, it’s just not great. I had to take it through the windshield. Along the next several hours we saw, more Elk, beaver and a black bear. We were in the Canadian Rockies and all there splendor. All these animals were within 40 feet of our vehicle, some we could take photos but others we couldn’t stop. We drove up to Summit Lake and it was so beautiful, lots of snow on the mountains. We stayed at the provincial park and met up with Marilyn the camp ranger. She was great to talk with and connect with. She put the whole | Grizzly, Black bear terror into perspective for us. She said you have a greater chance of getting mugged at a 7-11 at midnight or better yet, getting attacked by an alligator or shark.. I know it sounds weird but it helped us getting over the whole fear of being eaten by a bear while going to the bathroom.
5-29 We took off for Muncho Lake for brunch, WOW we are really feeling the magic of this trip now! This glacier lake was the most pretty blue I’ve ever seen, it was actually turquoise. We parked right on the lake bank and enjoyed the view with a full English breakfast with the good chinaJ. We have to treat ourselves to this every once in awhile J. We then headed to Liard Hot Springs, OH MY GOSH! We decided to stay a few days and enjoy this spot. Actually hot springs coming right out of the ground at 136 degrees, then at the other end of the water way was a ice melt spring coming into water. They had benches in the water to sit on and you could go to whatever level of heat you could stand. It was heaven, and it was open 24/7. Karen and Denise you have to go there .…it’s a must!
5-30 We met some great people at the springs and ran into people we had met before on the road up. Robyn met some friends as well and played in the water till she looked like a raisin. It’s always good when she can play all day and night. We met Martin and Ruta at one of our morning soaks and they invited us up to their place in Fairbanks….I think we will go.
6-1 Headed north up the ALCAN to Mukluk Annie’s. They advertised free camping and if you buy dinner at their salmon bake you get a free house boat ride on lake Teslin. We had to check it out, it sounded too good to be true. Well, it was better than good. We had a great meal, reasonably priced and a guided boat ride and the best part excellent free showers. Life is good!
6-2 Off we go again toward Whitehorse in the Yukon. The Yukon Territory is a different world, the only police we saw was a cardboard cut out of a police car at one of the small towns along the road. People here just take care of themselves. When we got into Whitehorse, it was a big city compared to what we had seen. We visited the Alpine Bakery (the best bread and the best scone I have ever had!), picked up a couple of loaves…wish we could of gotten more. Robyn and I visited the local used book store and got her some more books to read. She is reading the Nancy Drew series and (thank god) loving it! Whitehorse was an interesting town, it was rough around the edges with a college town flavor. It was great weather to drive in, and roads aren’t bad if your not in a hurry. We made it to Kulane Wilderness Lake and had a great evening camping and playing games. Robyn is having such fun seeing all the different terrain and animals.
6-3 We crossed the boarder into ALASKA!…hassle free I might add. Seems like when you are towing a VW micro bus they profile you. Maybe the borders have the word out that we are O.K. and won’t give us a hard time anymore. We stopped in Delta Junction at a place called Rika’s Roadhouse. Apparently it’s a tourist trap, but we got there after hours and had the whole place to ourselves….fun. It was a roadhouse run by a women named Rika. She was extremely efficient in the Alaska wilderness, so much so that the Department of Agriculture studied her garden. Apparently she was able to grow incredible vegetables in harsh conditions. She catered to the gold miners and had a good little thing going. I hiked all around the place by myself at around 11pm and played with the animals in the petting zoo and looked into all the windows of the historical buildings. It was a great evening alone for me. The next morning we had breakfast in the restaurant and it was incredibly good. The best sourdough bread and pancakes…… ummmm! I’m getting hungry just writing about it. We made it to Fairbanks to see Martin and Ruta. They have a great summer cabin that they made themselves; it has an outhouse with a view (what a treat). I loved all the wood work they did and there water system since they have no running water. I was impressed. We had a great visit with them and their dogs and enjoyed their cooking. We also made it to one of their meetings with fellow peace advocates and I really learned a lot…plus the food was good J
6-7 We made it into Denali and have been lucky to make it in before the crowds. We are camping in the interior of the Preserve, which was only for tent campers before, but they have had a wolf problem (ravaging tents) that only hard side camping is allowed. Lucky us get to camp here in Teklanika. We got a site right next to the creek/river which was great listening to when we slept at night/day. Robyn enjoyed it as well, being able to play in the streams.
As soon as we got there we boarded the bus to Fish Creek, which is a 5 hour round trip bus ride through Denali. It was a dusty ride on the dirt road, but the scenery was awesome. I wasn’t sure about the busing situation, but I’m a firm believer now! Denali has got it together and as one ranger told us….”We have to control the people, NOT the animals” I couldn’t imagine a swarm of cars and RV’s on these roads, it would take away from the whole experience. The weather is so unpredictable, one minute your hot, then a wind comes up and lowers the temp about 15 degrees. On down the road a bit we got to see Mt. Denali (aka Mt. McKinley) in all her glory. The bus driver was so excited for us, he said, “I only get 4 to 7 good days a season like this…it don’t get any better than this”. It was humbling, Robyn, Paul and I got dropped off on the side of the road and just sat there mesmerized. We saw a grizzly on the side of the road and then a few more up the road. Then we saw some mountain sheep. The only problem was, we got spoiled on the ALCAN. We were able to see them up close on the ALCAN, here we have to settle for the sheep being up the mountain. Then again, the grizzlies were up close and personal.
6-8 Today we spent around the campsite, and enjoyed the downtime. We have to boon-dock (go without any power/water/sewer) so conserving is a must on what we have. Once your in this campground you can’t leave. It’s almost 2 hours to any civilization or small convenience store.
6-9 We went out on the bus again today and headed for Cathedral Mtn. We got off the bus and two hikers pointed out 3 grizzlies (mom and 2 large cubs). We watch them for a awhile then hiked down the other side of the mountain. It was an incredible hike, Robyn got to play in the snow as we hiked up the tundra. We crossed a stream and had to take off our boots, boy that water was painfully cold. We got to the top and stopped for lunch with an amazing view of the mountain range. We then spotted the buses stopping down around the road, which usually means they spotted animals. We then realized the grizzlies were back eating and we needed to figure out how to get down or around. It was kind of exciting sitting on top of this mountain waiting for the grizzlies to move on, so we could get down. After about an hour we got a signal from some other hikers it was all clear. What an experience! Especially after those same hikers informed us of a grizzly attack on a hiker just sitting on a boulder. He dragged her off and mauled her. They think the grizzly just had a moose kill and she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. I would of liked to of heard that story after I was back in the bus…..but it added to our excitement. Once we got back to the road I went and took a picture of the warning sign about not to get off the road because i was a high content of wildlife area. The grizzlies had all but chewed the sign apart. While we were hiking we saw two other signs with the same warnings all chewed up and mauled laying by the waters edge. I guess the bears don’t want us to be warned!
6-10 Robyn met a friend and joined his family on the long bus into Wonder Lake (11 hour trip) and said it was great. She got to see fox, and wolf in addition to the other animals we already saw. Paul and I stayed in camp to make art/craft products (mobiles). We had a productive day and really enjoyed working outside…until the mosquitoes chased us inside. They ARE BIG! but slow, they swarm when the sun goes in and when there’s no wind. It was warm today, high around 72. We had a nice rain through the night.
6-11 Woke up a little chilly this a.m. (52). Amazingly the creek had become a raging river. I guess between the rain and heat yesterday a lot of the snow had melted. Robyn was lucky with the weather, she wouldn’t of been able to spend all those hours playing in the creeks if it was this high. We headed | back out and really drove slow to soak it all up. We headed out to Cantwell Campground were the owners are from Melbourne, FL and come up and work the camp in the summer. It was the most wonderful shower I have had in a long time. We did laundry, etc.
6-12 Got really cold last night (39) and I had to get up and put the heat on. WOW! I just saw a Wolf as I’m typing this BLOG, go through the campground. I so wanted to see one before I left Denali..thank you! We are heading to Anchorage to re-supply and check out the local scene for shows. We also want to catch ‘Star Wars’ and celebrate our one year anniversary….Then we head for Marta and John’s place in Soldotna on the Kenai Peninsula.
Until next time, peace and love…..Sharon, Paul & Robyn
BACK IN THE LOWER 48
Well to say the least Alaska was the ultimate! I’ve decided to simplify my life by not doing a day to day Blog and just summerizing our experiences. We had so many wonderful experiences in Alaska it’s hard to begin. We saw whales, seals, eagles, elk, moose, bear (black & brown…aka Grizzly), sheep, buffalo and I’m sure I’m forgetting alot. The mountains and terrain are described in the best of poetry and verse. We met the most incredible people and had some great experiences in the various art/craft shows we did en route. Paul, Robyn and I are richer individuals due to our adventures in Alaska. The photos say alot!
8-8 We left Alaska and headed down the ALCAN south, through beautiful BC. We were very surprised at the diverse terrain of this incredible province. You had mountians, rivers, deserts and all the animals along with them. Our trip down was not as eventful as the one up, probably due to the fact that most animals were further up the mountains or in the forests by then.
8-20 We arrived back into Washington State and back to the another reality…..OTRA…..we arrived in Seattle to attend cousin Greg & Kimberly’s wedding. It was great seeing family again and catching up.
We are presently in Oregon doing various markets to sell our wares. We really enjoyed Astoria and the coast of Oregon. We will be heading south from Eugene after Halloween
We miss everyone and send you peace, Sharon, Paul & Robyn
That’s it for 2005 ! For the “rest of the story” check out the blog for 2006…