Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Travels

We just returned from a two and a half week trip down the Alaska Highway to Portland, OR. We drove the AK Highway almost 12 years ago when we moved out to Kodiak. It was mid March then. We remarked several times that we don't know how we did the drive in the winter. Ignorance is bliss, I guess. One of our sons was driving a U-Haul and I was driving our mini-van. Both vehicles were packed to the max. The road in the winter was icy and snow covered much of the way. As we drove it this time, we were amazed at the steep climbs, the hair pin curves and the abundant wildlife near the roadside. My wife said it reminded her of those video games our sons used to play where all kinds of dangers popped out at you while you drove your virtual car down the road. We felt like that sometimes. I had no problem staying awake while I drove! It was almost 3000 miles from here to Portland. We took 7 days which meant long 12 - 13 hour driving days. With few breaks. It is two lane highway most of the way with few services. The road for the first half of the trip is one long frost heave with patches of gravel thrown in from time to time. I don't remember the road being so bad the first time we did the trip. I think the road may actually be better in winter. But the days are much shorter and the road ices up when the sun sets. We stayed in all kinds of places. One roadhouse was so noisy we didn't get any sleep and I was up at 3:30 am ready to hit the road. We also stayed in a Presidential Suite in Whitehorse, Yukon when the person at the check in counter told me it was the only room available and I did not want to return to the car and tell my wife we had to go on - after we had already driven 13 hours that day. We stayed in a beautiful lodge on Muncho Lake - one of most awesome and remote lakes I have ever seen.

After we began the trip we heard that my sister who I had not seen in 3 years was going to be at a conference in Portland. In order to see her before she flew home we had to make time. We got to see her the night before she left. We were glad we did. Then it was onto Portland - Newberg actually - where our son and daughter in law are in school We were bringing our truck to them so they could use it for student teaching and to move back to Kodiak when their year of grad school is done. Before we flew back to Kodiak (how amazing! we covered the same ground in a three and a half hour flight that it took us days to drive!) we were able to spend some days on the Oregon coast and on a farm in the wine country of Yamhill county (with good friends). It was the height of berry season in Oregon so we feasted on fresh fruit, often on ice cream. It was a great trip but as always the best part is the first night back in our own bed in Kodiak.