Category Archives: Road trips

Reboot 2017

If you didn’t see it on my FB page, here is my husband’s explanation for my lack of blog last Monday:

Jolie is off grid. She and K took the pickup and camper Friday morning and went berry picking at Tangle lakes between Glennallen and Fairbanks. No mobile signal. They took 4 boxes of wine and assorted bottles of spirits. Wonder if they will come back with berries?

Anyway #alaskagirlskickass

For the record: We did get berries. GALLONS of berries.

What it means to be rich
This is wealth.
Fat Heaven
Fat Heaven
Berry Blood
The blood of our enemies…or berries.

We even found mushrooms.

"baby" King Bolete. They get MUCH bigger.
“baby” King Bolete. They get BIGGER. O.O

And the only booze we used up completely was the beer. (So there Mowgli.)

Yes. #alaskagirlskickass

For those wondering, beautiful Tangle lakes is 269.6 miles from my front door. It takes about five and a half hours to drive there (in summer) if you do it in one shot which, of course, requires:

A super-efficient car with a massive fuel tank (F350 carrying 4000lbs of camper? Yeah, no.)

AND

A berry picking partner happy with 5.5 hours in a car (mine was not. In fact she made it clear that if I don’t promise to stop A LOT MORE next trip, there won’t be one.)

One of the rare occasions the travel natzi (me) allowed us to stop.
Sheep Mountain. One of the rare occasions the travel Nazi (aka me) permitted stopping.
20170904_145852
Chugach Mountains (home)

Anyway, we made it in about six hours (can you guess who was pleased with that and who was not?)

6 hours.

270 miles.

Divided thusly:

90 miles of: hairpin turns, steep drop offs, impressive grades and stunning scenery you’re too scared to take your eyes off the road to enjoy.

90 miles of: reasonable roads that, from your perspective, are nectar of the gods and mind-blowing landscape you can appreciate without penalty of death.

90 miles of: a white-knuckle frost heaved roller coaster carved through more countryside that’s probably amazing but you are, again, too focused on not crashing to really take in.

I know. You have just now decided you are NEVER visiting Tangle lakes EVER.

But wait… it’s totally worth it. Just look:

20170904_092232

20170903_114340
It was still summer at my house. We literally drove into a change of season.
Woke up to a little termination dust Sunday
Woke up to a little termination dust (aka snow) Sunday. Far left mountain top.

What’s more, it’s fun.

No kids, no husbands (we love you family! But…) all the berries you could want (we wanted GALLONS evidently), hiking trails forever, fire, wine, stars (Aurora one night) and (because we are complete princesses) a generator, heater, TV and Mama Mia DVD.

This is the Alaskan equivalent of a spa weekend.

(For the record: Actual spa weekends are a thing here as well)

And to top it all off, NOT ONE BEAR. Which is weird because they aren’t called “Ber-ries“ for nothing.

It goes to show you that in Alaska, if you’re willing to work for it, there is plenty for everyone. No need to get in each other’s way.

(Yes Mr. Bear, you who trampled and robbed my raspberries last week, I’m talking to YOU. Lazy thief…)

And to my berry partner – please, please, please take me here again! I promise to drive slow, stop, smell roses…

 

Good bye Girl (and boys)

Guess which one's mine.
Guess which one’s mine.

 

About a year ago, Mowgli, the kids and I got together and decided we needed a change. A big change. We needed to shake the tree, uproot and move camp. For the following 12 months we purged, shed, tied up loose ends and got ourselves ready to move to the other side of the world.

Maybe you noticed. Maybe not. It wasn’t a secret but we weren’t exactly advertising the fact either. Life is fickle. You never know what’s going to happen until it does. Why make a big deal out of it before you have to?

Between then and now our friends and family, the ones closest to the action, have been remarkably laid back about us going. There’s been no tears or drama which for us has been a relief. Goodbyes are not our strong suit. When it comes to making them Mowgli and I are generally… already gone.

Then, in the middle of calm, reality hit me. It wasn’t that no one cared we were leaving, it was that this time, no one believed it.

This isn’t the first time we’ve threatened to move. Anyone here remember when we were moving to Mongolia? How about that time Mowgli volunteered to relocate to Afghanistan and help rebuild?

(Still lamenting that move not materializing. Kabul has been on my bucket list since high school.)

Point, we weren’t saying anything everyone hasn’t heard before. Why believe us this time?

In our defense none of the past episodes were entirely wolf crying situations. We work in aviation. There are only two things consistent about that industry:

1) It’s inconsistent

2) When the market moves, so do you.

I swear to you, every time I said we were leaving, I truly believed it, and when it didn’t happen was just as surprised as everyone else.

But, this time, things are different. This time it’s us deciding, not the industry. This time, it’s really happening. In a little less than four weeks, we will be gone.

Time to say goodbye.

Alaska, we love you. You are beautiful and exciting and as humble as your are grand. Please do not take this parting as a reflection on you. To visit here is an incredible experience. To live here, a true blessing.

Thank you for everything.

And…for anyone wondering what it’s like to strip your family down to only what they can carry and drag them around the world…stay tuned.

(Spoiler alert: there will be wine. Lots and lots of wine…)

 

Papa Duck

 

No blog this week. Instead of writing, I spent the weekend watching Mowgli play Papa Duck:

Aren’t they adorable? While Mowgli keeps the ducklings in line, it’s my job is to take up the rear and make sure we return with the same number of riders we left with. It’s not so bad. I’m never expected to know the way and am rarely in the position to pull anyone out of the mud. The only task I’m shackled with is counting heads and as long as we keep it under 20, at that I’m a star.

So, sorry for the empty post.

But, in the immortal word of a druggie I once knew – at least I shared my trip.

Hope everyone has a beautiful week!

 

 

 

 

The hills are alive!

Scene_from_the_Sound_of_Music

The most requested playlist on our latest road trip was, none other than, the soundtrack from The Sound of Music.

Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are. Not only did I have to bribe the boys to watch the movie in the first place, only one of them managed to last the entire film. And yet there we were in the car for five hours singing along, over and over…

What does this tell us?

Rodgers and Hammerstein were musical geniuses and bribery is an effective parenting tool.

Or, maybe it’s just me who hears that.

Anyway, when you listen to any song enough times, when you really listen to the lyrics, you can’t help but wonder how its creators got there. Next thing you know you’re brain is creating conversations like this:

Rodgers: I’ve got it! Let’s do an entire song about yodeling goat herders. People will LOVE it.

Hammerstein: Check please!

Rodgers: What?

Hammerstein: Time to go home Dick, you’re drunk.

 

Rodgers: Hey Oscar, how’s that “Do Re Mi” song going?

Hammerstein: Wretched. I can’t get past “So”. What is “La” anyway?

Rodgers: The note following “So” obviously.

Hammerstein: Must you always be such a smartass Richard?

 

Hammerstein: Hey Richard, what do you think of this line? “I am Sixteen going on seventeen, innocent as a rose…”

Rodgers: As a rose? A thorny overpriced flower whose colors represent the entire range of human emotion? How is a rose innocent?

Hammerstein: Hm, hadn’t considered that…

Rodgers: Clearly.

Hammerstein: I’m really stumped here.

Rodgers: Table it. We need to fix that song the nuns sing about Maria. They sound catty. I don’t think nun’s should sound catty. Put “16 going on 17” with “Do Re Mi”. We’ll rewrite them later, I promise.

 

Then again, five hours is a long time to be in a car listening to show tunes. So, it could be just me.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Driving

 

I had two very amusing posts saved for you, I swear.

But then Friday rolled around…

and Mowgli and the boys took me on a little adventure.

So instead of giggles today, I’m offering a rare glimpse into the mind of a wild man and his offspring.

It started here…

20130602_114959

Yes, after the “Road Closed” sign. Where else?

In case you can’t see, the sign behind reads “Travel beyond this point not recommended.” Following that is a list of suggestions (e.g. bring water, flares and contact your next of kin) for those who insist on traveling the road anyway.

And why, with all the warnings, did I insist you ask?

For one, Son 2’s birthday wish this year was to cross Cache Creek, a creek several miles down the closed road.

(You can’t deny a birthday wish. The universe implodes.)

For two, by the time I saw the sign Mowgli was too far ahead to stop. The best I could hope for was serious complaining about the ridiculous road when I caught up.

And the road was horribly rediculous. I was motivated to complain.

20130602_114640

 

 

 

20130602_110929

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the kind of road that takes a month of yoga to recover from. The kind of road that a sane person thinks twice about driving with a just car.

And my family wanted me to drive it in a car pulling a 5000 pound trailer?   

As I hauled two and a half elephants through quick sand, around craters and over the thin remains of recently washed out road in the rain, I wondered,

What kind of sucker am I?

20130602_115544

Once I got stuck in mud up to my bumper and had to drive backwards down a hill. Unable to find Mowgli and our camp, I turned car and trailer around three times on a road not designed for such maneuvering. I  swore repeatedly that if I got out alive, I was getting a divorce.

Good times.

Eventually, however, I found him. We settled into camp, had a cocktail and mostly recovered from the hellacious journey.

(Mostly. They’re talking about acupuncture to stop the nightmares.)

But here’s the kicker…

We didn’t make it to Cache Creek.

Winter hasn’t quite left that part of Alaska. The trail to the creek was too awful to pass. Even on ATV’s.

Remember son-of-wild-man’s birthday wish and the imploding universe?

Then you know what not getting to the creek means.

I have to go back.

I’m wondering again,

What kind of sucker am I?

 

 

 

Easter weekend

 

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Sorry to post late and short. We’ve been out of the office the last few days.

Friday morning, having had our fill of winter, the boys and I packed it up and set out in search of that elusive season known (to those in the lower 48) as Spring

20130331_134103

Found it! Sun and ice free beach. Not that it was warm exactly…

 

Look Ma, no gloves!

But we didn’t have to break out the thermal underwear and for an Alaskan, that’s practically naked.

 

20130331_113941

 

 

Plus we managed an outdoor egg hunt!

 

 

20130331_114205

 

 

 

                  For the first time.

                           Ever.

 

 

 

 

 

To top it all off we put on rubber boots…

20130331_134637

 

And found baby critters…

20130331_134619

 

 

 

 

                                   

                                     If you know of surer signs that spring is really here, 

                                     You probably live much farther south than we do.

                                    And, if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate not hearing about it.

 

 

 

 

 

Memories, the ones you don’t block out.

 

Shortly after the birth of my second child, my sister took me to a lecture given by a National Geographic photographer on traveling with children.

 

It was inspirational.

 

The photographer was soft spoken, generous, completely at ease and, most incredibly, clearly happy with the lifestyle she had chosen for her family.

 

During the 2 hour presentation, the photographer gave anecdotal evidence of the joys of sharing the world with your children. She then ran a slide show of her beautiful perfect kids in deeply educational and stimulating environments. With faces beyond happy, her babies rode camels, ate exotic food and thumb wrestled tribal chiefs. They were supremely content living the rich life of the globe trotter.

waiting on the train...
waiting on the train…

 

I listened and I thought:

I so got this.

My kids and I are going to rock the world

…out of a suitcase.

 

 

 

 

10 years later, reality check.

 

The slide show: Beaming children on trains, in buses, atop camels…

Reality: A 4 hour plane ride in a lavatory with a screaming 3 year old. Tiny rental cars that induce a minute by minute chorus of “he’s touching me. Mom, he’s touching me.” A ridiculous pirate cruise you hope will spur a love of the sea that instead garners bored looks of “we are soooo not into this.”

 

The slide show: Offspring keen to test exotic foods…

Reality: A lot of puking. Puking in restaurants, taxis, airplanes, hotels, in their sleep, on each other, and even once at a wedding (it’s actually kind of a funny story…) I’ll never forget that magical trip where one vomit episode actually occurred in a bathroom.

 

The slide show: a boy and a turbaned Bedouin absorbed in a game of chess in the desert.

Reality: I can’t speak for everyone but my sons favorite travel activity is getting their picture taken in “your face here” carnival cutouts.

to the moon!
to the moon!

 

E I E I oh.
E I E I oh.
they said I could be anything I wanted...
they said I could be anything I wanted…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh well. Memories are what you make of them and we’ll continue to make them, I don’t care who’s throwing up, or bored…

Again in outer space? There's nothing to do here.
Again in outer space? There’s nothing to do here.

 

Maybe that National Geographic photographer edited hers.

Maybe she edited them heavily.

 

 

Never stop learning

 

Things I did not know a week ago…

That giraffes have extremely long tongues. 18 – 20 inches long. With tongues that long giraffes are able lick their own ears. Not that they do, 20130131_100451or even want to. Who knows? Humans cannot kiss their own elbow, but even knowing that many still try.

You just did, didn’t you.

 

 

 

 

That viral gastroenteritis is alive and well in the South West. Wash your hands. If you cannot wash your hands, use hand sanitizer. If you cannot use hand sanitizer, it’s all over. All of it. All over everywhere.

Bet NOW your sorry you tried to kiss your elbow.

 

That desert weather is CRAZY!

I was ready for Sun. I was not so much ready for…

...dreaming of a white St. Patrick's day? What?
…dreaming of a white St. Patrick’s day? What?

 

 

Snow and hail?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hang on!!!
cancel that facial, will you? I’m good.

Wind and storms? Sometime with a little sand thrown in for extra buffing power.

 

 

 

 

nom, nom, nom...
nom, nom, nom…

 

 

and Tumbleweed attacks?

Well, it was awfully gusty out.

 

 

 

 

And they tell me we’re missing all the really bad weather…

 

 

That Arizona liquor sellers wont card you if you look over 40 years old.

Ergo, my new t-shirt. It says:

Card me. It will be easier on both of us

 

 

This is a KIA, but I've personally verified indication on Ford, Chevy and Dodge.
This is a KIA, but I’ve personally verified indication on Ford, Chevy and Dodge..

 

That most cars made in the last 15 years have an arrow next to the gas gauge pointing to the side of the car the gas cap is on.

No more sending the kids out, in all kinds of weather, to jog around the car and retrieves this information.

I’m a little sad about that.

Might not tell them about the arrow. Is that wrong?

 

 

Road Trip

This isn’t so much a blog as it is a warning: I’m going off grid for a while.

If I manage to post over the next two weeks, there is a possibility, a somewhat MONSTROUS possibility the writing will be less humorous reflecting and more manic ranting highlighted by poor grammar and outrageous spelling.

I apologize in advance. Rest assured, the pain you will experience while reading whatever nonsense I put out will be minor in comparison to the pain I will be dining with daily.

I’m driving the Alcan Highway.

I’ve volunteered to help my sister move to Alaska.

She lives near Seattle. I live near Anchorage. I’m driving from Anchorage to Seattle and then back,

and I’m taking my kids.

It’s possible I’ve lost my mind. Seriously. When my sister told me “I’m moving to Alaska.” With out thinking the words “I’ll drive with you” sailed out of my mouth.

If that is not conclusive evidence of mental deficiency I don’t know…wait, what are we talking about?

But she’s my sister. If you knew her you’d understand. This woman once painted the ceiling of my entire house, for nothing but cold beer. 

I had to volunteer.

So to all of you, my friends, family, casual acquaintances, social media pals, random strangers, Adieu! I’ll miss you. Wish us well. 

This baby's still got a few surprises left in her...

 

and I’ll keep you posted…

 

 

 

Caviar dreams in a mud pie world.

 

SQUEEEEEE!

You will never guess what I got last week! You will never in a million years guess what my wonderful husband and awesome sons surprised me with!

…wait for it…(because you’re really not going to guess)

My very own ATV!!!

 

Mine, all mine. Not his or hers or theirs. MINE. Ain’t gotta share with nobody. No where, no how. Not EVER. I’ve already named her Princess Quad, just in case you were thinking about moving in. Next I’m going to paint her pink. She’s MINE.

Do you know what this means??

It means no more of this!

cozy

 

                           Or this!

Home, James.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No more. That ship has sailed.

Nope, this would be my ship now. Yes sir, all kinds of this…

Why yes, that is me. Totally.

BooYa!

Yep, the day my loving family gave me that 4 wheeler was the day I entered…

The AWESOME summer of Mom.

 

I thought.

The awesome summer of Mom? Or the massive summer of mud?

You decide.

We’ve seen a touch of this…

This is fun, right?

Also, quite a lot of this…

           and this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that one time, a day full of this…

? we're not turning around?

Idiot. I should have seen this coming when they “surprised” me with a pair of hip waders.

At least the view was nice.

 

 

 

 

Forget it mister. Princess is NOT riding in THAT.

A girl’s gotta have standards.