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Alaska, Jack B. Nimble

Alaska Arrival – May 18, 2018

When last I wrote, we were in Montana, the weather had become increasingly cold at night, snow still lay along the roadsides, and we were not even in the mountains. I became increasingly apprehensive about continuing north alone where snow and below freezing temperatures were forecast, where there was a real doubt that campgrounds with electricity would be open yet, and the clincher — where we had no way to heat our tent camper except a small electric space heater, and… Jack was cold!

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This was an entirely different situation from our only previous road trip to Alaska — which was made in the height of summer, and we camped in a hard-sided, gas-heated camper. So, we made a difficult decision — to drive west to Tacoma, Washington, put the car and the camper on a ship for Anchorage, and to fly the rest of the way to our summer home. We did that, arriving in Soldotna the morning of May 8th. I apologize to all of you who have been faithfully following our progress, but I know you understand.

Our last three days camping we spent in Montana, Idaho, and Washington. We camped in a most interesting town in Idaho named Wallace. It was established as a silver mining town in the 1800’s. In an antique shop in Wallace, Tom bought a very odd antique musical instrument. It’s a “valve trombone,” and the best we can determine by looking it up on-line is that it’s a rare J.W. Pepper and Son instrument, made in the early 1900’s. Tom polished, and now it actually looks silver.

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In Washington we camped two nights in a park by Moses Lake. They were having a bass fishing tournament, so Tom was entertained. Canadian geese with dozens of goslings paddled around the lake. Cute!

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On Monday morning we took the car and the trailer to the port to ship out for Anchorage, and caught a ride to the Sea-Tac airport to spend the next 10 hours waiting for our red-eye flight to Kenai. We made it home about 6:30 Tuesday morning.

So, we have been home for over a week now. It has been cold (40’s) and rainy almost every day thus far. The birch trees have tiny green leaves, there is still a lot of snow on the mountaintops, and we have spent several days working to clean out the back acre. Tom has cut up fallen birch trees, cut scraggly lower limbs from spruce, and hauled over 4000 pounds of debris to the dump.

Our back acre is virgin territory — never built on, never cut as far as we know. This week we have been inundated with moose! They have taken to bedding down out back, and

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when they do, they are almost invisible. There are three moose in this picture. See if you can find Waldo.

Last year two wonderful friends from Church in Florida came to visit, and they built me a greenhouse!

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Yesterday I was planting vegetables in it when Tom came rushing in. A mama moose and her two yearlings had quietly walked up behind him while he was cutting wood out back. They followed him toward the greenhouse…

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… and while we watched, they strolled by like they own the place…

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… which they really do, come to think of it.

So far, I have planted tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in the greenhouse.

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Lettuce and cool weather vegetables — broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and cabbage we’re keeping on the upstairs balcony to protect them from the moose.

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Someday, perhaps we’ll build a moose-proof fence and plant such things in the ground. For now, the balcony is fine and easy to check every morning. We have grown vegetables up here before, and they do very well.

I think I’m running out of space for this post, so I will continue the Alaska story in a few days.

Thank you for reading!

Alaska

Alaska Road Trip Days 7-9

Sunday, April 29 – (Day 7)   We enjoyed the luxury of sleeping in a hotel in Garden City, Kansas Saturday night, but I awoke often, aware that I was in a strange place.

We got away about 8:30 heading due west toward Colorado. Soon after crossing the border, we picked up a US highway heading due north, leaving Denver far away to our west. Traveling through big cities was something we do not want to do. Out in this area of the country, most roads run at right angles, so there is no hypotenuse to make our trip shorter. This day we saw a lot of plains, newly planted wheat fields, plowed fields, more cows, (but not as many as yesterday) lots of windmills. We saw the factory where they built the windmills yesterday, and the vanes must be 50 feet long! We saw our first roadrunner, a couple of pheasants, a mule deer, and lots of red-tailed hawks.

roadrunner-bird-wildlife-nature-158097.jpegOur practice has become to set a preliminary destination for the day. After noon we ask Google if there are any campgrounds near our destination town. We call the campground and learn the street address, input the info into our Garmin navigator, and then relax and let her melodious voice guide us to our destination. HOWEVER, it is crucial that the address be absolutely correct — no Highway 11, when it should be Highway 11c. This was the case on Sunday afternoon. Garmin sweetly guided us down a dirt road to a vacant lot behind some cow pens and dirty shacks. And then after we re-entered “11c,” she guided us through many small subdivision to reach the actual address about 5 miles away. We camped at Boyd Lake State Park. Now the trees are getting smaller and the parks have fewer of them. Most all the trees were mesquite, and their leaves have not come out yet. In fact, we are rapidly leaving springtime behind.

It was 80 degrees when we set up camp. Surprising! Tom made spaghetti for dinner, and we turned in early. After the sun set, the temperature dropped quickly into the 40’s by daybreak. We have an electric heater, though, so we were fine to sleep so long as there is electricity.

Monday, April 30 (day 8) We got off about 8:15, heading north on Interstate 25 to Cheyenne, Wheatland, Douglas, and finally to Casper, Wyoming. 20180501_071419.jpg We broke our vow of “no interstates” today. The few state roads there are did not go where we needed to go.

The landscape changed dramatically — many more rusty rock outcroppings, antelopes, fewer cows. We had intended to head northwest into the Tetons and Yellowstone, but weather forecasts said that  snow was likely, and much cooler temperatures in the mountains. So…. we changed our plans and stayed east of the mountains in rather long hills. We broke our vow of “no interstates” when we got up this far. There are fewer state roads, and they didn’t go the way we needed to go.20180501_071414.jpg We slept in a Motel 6 last night in Casper, Wyoming, and it only cost $49! Since campsites average $30, we figured it would be okay so as not to have to seek out a campsite far away from our planned route.

Tuesday, May 1 (Day 9) One really  nice thing about motels is that you don’t have to break camp at the crack of dawn in the cold. We have only been making coffee in the mornings at camp, then stopping along the road for a hot truck-stop breakfast and a gas fill-up. So, this morning we were up and away by 6:30, heading north out of Casper, Wyoming on I-25. Tom was the animal scout. We saw a LOT of antelope this morning, and Tom managed to get a photo of this one beside the road. We crossed into Montana about noon. The hills here were greener, and looked sort of like what I think Ireland must look like…20180501_092045.jpg When we set out this morning it was very foggy, and we could see only about 150 feet ahead. This was on an Interstate, mind you, so I just crept along through the whiteness at about 45 mph. We would crest a hill and be in sunshine until the next valley. Thank God the sun burned it away after about an hour. We went on through the Bighorn Mountains to Billings, and then picked two State roads north to Lewistown. It was getting colder the further north we traveled. Unmelted snow made white spots on the northern slopes of hills. I don’t know how many more days we will be able to camp in this tent camper. 20180501_150233.jpg

But right now we’re camped at a commercial RV park in Lewistown, MT. The state and national parks are too far away from our planned route. Tom had all the best intentions of cooking some chicken and broccoli and making a tossed salad this evening. However, right after setting up camp it began to rain a cold windy rain. Not being the sort of person to give up, Tom tried to adjust pots, cutting boards, even the car (!) to baffle the wind from blowing out his propane stove. After about an hour he gave up, and we drove into town to pick up a pizza. Tomorrow’s another day. The chicken will keep.

It’s cold and windy tonight, and is supposed to get down to about 35 degrees. My little electric heater is cranking. I’m still sitting up at the dining table typing away at 9:15, taking advantage of the wi-fi provided here at this RV park. Tom and dog Jack are snuggled into a warm sleeping bag. Time to join them.

Tomorrow’s plan is to get through Montana and cross into Canada! Half way Home!!

Thank you for joining me this evening. God bless!

Alaska

Alaska Roadtrip Days 4 – 6

Thursday, April 26, DAY 4

We left Louisiana early heading for Waco, Texas, hoping to visit Magnolia Farms, of Chip and Joanna Gaines fame. Our drive through Texas was spectacular, thanks to Ladybird Johnson and her wildflower program. The highways are still filled with these pink flowers, and yellow, coral, red and blue. The rolling landscape in southern Texas is our favorite so far.

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We finally arrived at Magnolia Farms. Big mistake! The place was over-run with busloads of tourists and end-of-school trips. So, we gave it a pass and found a campsite nearby in a state park on Waco Lake, our prettiest spot to date. State parks and Federal parks are proving to be the cleanest, most picturesque of all the campgrounds.

20180428_065528.jpgFriday, the 27th, Day 5: We slept well, got up early, made and drank coffee, broke camp, and drove north through a lot of Texas into Oklahoma, the landscape becoming drier and flatter as we went on.   The roadside wildflowers disappeared in Oklahoma, and huge tracts of farm land replaced them… wheat, cotton, cattle, goats, llamas, bison.

We camped in northern Oklahoma in Great Plains State Park. A lake was surrounded by rocky hills of rust colored stones, looking much more like “the West.” The above photo was sunrise this morning.

Saturday, the 28th, Day 6: An educational day. We saw more and more windmills covering the plains, providing electricity and looking sort of spooky… like huge white giants waving their arms. We saw two turkeys that we at first thought were road runners, but then we saw a REAL roadrunner. Pretty!

We saw thousands of cattle — some on pastureland, some jammed in feed lots being fattened for the slaughter. Pee-yew! No stink can compare. Many, may feed lots over hundreds of miles as we traveled west… dozens of grain elevators holding the feed for the thousands of cattle. We were told that one of the houses slaughtered 500 cattle/ hour!!! That’s a quarter of a million pounds of beef in one hour… a lot of Big Mac’s!

We drove through the historic district of Dodge City and saw the Long Branch Saloon. Kitty, Chester, Festus, and Mr. Dillon could not be found. However, we remembered from Gunsmoke episodes that Dodge City was a major cattle drive destination even back then, so it is still a major beef processing town. The rail lines run westward, carrying beef to Denver and beyond.

Late this afternoon Tom had a stroke of genius! He said, “Why don’t we sleep in a hotel tonight. We could get a really good shower, do laundry, clean up the car a bit, eat out.” What a jewel he is. I think we’ll do this again after 5-6 days camping. Great idea.

So, here I sit in a Comfort Inn, in Garden City, Kansas just west of Dodge City. I also have wi-fi to catch up here.

 

 

 

 

Alaska

Alaska Trip – April 25, Day 3

 

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All the best laid plans of mice and women sometimes don’t come to pass. I had hoped to be able to write here each evening after setting up camp, but tonight is the first time I’ve had wi-fi, and a phone signal.

MONDAY, Day 1, we drove from Pinellas County, Florida to camp at St. George’s State Park, on a long barrier island off the coast of  Apalachicola, Florida. The park is pretty, set in a pine hammock surrounded by sand dunes and sea oats. It is a birder’s paradise, and we saw many of them with their huge cameras and tripods seeking out the perfect photo. I was disappointed that I could not get a signal to be able to write. The stars were spectacular away from city lights. We could easily make out the Milky Way. Outside of the State park area, the island was crowded with houses and condos, but the park was totally unadulterated.

TUESDAY, Day 2, we drove on through Panama City, Pensacola, and Mobile, Alabama to camp near there at Escatawpa Hollow Campground which had come recommended by a lady at a hardware store where we stopped to buy some nuts and bolts. We were greeted by a most cordial campground manager who escorted us to our choice of campsites in a dense forest beside a lovely river. We were the ONLY people in the park. The area had endured a severe flood recently, and the whole place had been under three feet of water. Yesterday, however, it was perfect. I do wish I had the ability to post photos today. Perhaps when we get closer to a big city (which I don’t want to do) I will have the technology to share. At this campground we had neither phone nor any internet signal at all.

TODAY, WEDNESDAY, April  25th, we drove on through Hattiesburg, Columbia, McComb, and Natachez, Mississippi on US 98. We crossed the Mississippi River at Natchez. They were working on one side of an old huge metal bridge.

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Tom took photos. Right now we are camped at a private campground near Natchitoches, Louisiana. Adequate, but nothing more.

So far, we enjoyed Mississippi the most. It is a very beautiful state when seen off the interstates… long rolling hills covered covered with pines and sweet gum trees.

Our goal in driving this trip was to travel OFF the Interstates, and, for the most part we have succeeded. We input our next destination into our Garmin navigator, and she directed us perfectly along good highways which passed through picturesque towns.

Well, Tom and Jack are already sacked out, so I’d better stop here before I lose all I’ve written. The nights are cool, so we have sleeping bags at the ready, just in case. Good night!

Alaska

Alaska Trip Eve, April 22, 2018

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Well, the camper is loaded, lowered, and buttoned up. Tom is outside now scrubbing the pollen and city grime from the exterior. Time is short! We plan to leave tomorrow morning early to beat rush hour traffic on US 19 to Apalachicola.

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We have been packing what clothes we need for our trip into fish boxes. The clothes  will stay in Alaska, but we will fill these same boxes with salmon, halibut, and ling cod, and the well-used boxes will make yet another trip to Florida in the belly of an Alaska plane. (Alaska Airlines understands like no other how precious our fish cargo is to us!)

Jack knows something’s up. He has been sniffing all the boxes and bags, whining for attention, not wanting me to ignore him to write this. 20180422_143340.jpg

We plan to camp tomorrow night in Apalachicola, so I’m not too worried about snow…yet. We have to cross the Rockies eventually though, so please pray with me that it will have melted by the time we do that. Alaska has been warmer and less snowy than the lower 48 this year. That’s good.

In fact, God is good…all the time!

 

 

Alaska

April 18, 2018 Alaska Drive Prep

Four days and counting…. then it’s goodbye, Florida. Alaska, here we come. We’re watching the frigid weather carefully. All that snow up north makes me nervous, but if it snows, we’ll stop until it melts.

[For earlier posts about the Alaska Adventure go to March 23, 2018 Alaska Plans and March 27, 2018 Alaska Adventure.]

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A couple of weeks ago, we set up our little Flagstaff pop-up camper in the front yard and started getting ready for our 5500 miles trip to Alaska. We cleaned it, painted what needed painting, bought a new battery, new propane tank, and new tires.

  • 20180418_144838.jpg Here is our little camper.  Folded down it’s teeny, and tracks like there’s nothing behind the car. Inside, it’s pretty roomy. It has heat, AC, heated mattress (wired like electric blankets) two big wing beds, a dining table, great for cards on a rainy day, little fridge, microwave, the outside stove that we can take inside if the weather’s bad. We removed the water tank to make more storage space under a settee. There’s a tiny kitchen sink, but no bathroom or shower facilities. Nowadays, pretty much all campgrounds have bathhouses.

To prepare our Jeep, we put on new tires, new brakes, pads, and changed all the belts20180418_144854.jpg and hoses. There are very long desolate stretches of highway  British Columbia or the Yukon. The car is a 2009, but only has around  69,000 miles on it, so it should be fine.

Plans are great, but I want to remember, “The horse is armed against the day of battle, but safety is of the LORD.”

So, we covet your prayers as we undertake this adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

Journey to Publication

The Journey Continues #2

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

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Why do I want to publish my book? I have dealt with that question more than a few times in the last few years. It’s a novel, but it presents the gospel, in what I hope is a compelling way. In answering this question, I ask myself, “What occupies your mind more than sharing God’s redemption story as you experienced it?”

God pressured me constantly. He said something like, “Everybody has a story. My story in you is unique because you are unique, as are all my children.  I created you to be born before I laid the foundations of the world. I knew you would reject Me for a while, and I pursued you anyway. I plucked you from the abyss, gave you abundant life and the promise of an eternity with Me. Now, I am asking you to write about how I revealed Myself to you, an avowed atheist. You know that was a miracle, don’t you? In the whole scheme of this world, is there anything more important for you to do, than to share what I did in your life?”

“No Sir.”

“Well, get to it!”

So, I have a mission.

***

This morning I attended my first regular meeting of Word Weavers. This international organization of Christian writers have local groups that meet once a month to critique one another’s work, encourage one another, and to discover opportunities for growth in our writing skills, networking, and fellowship. I was encouraged by hearing that I am not alone in my disdain for having to learn all the intricacies of the world of social media. After all, I don’t want to be a part of the world, do I?

I learned that, not only do I need this website, I also need to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, to name a few. I was encouraged to stick to it (even in the midst of Facebook’s horror headlines of late), because as Christian writers working together as the Body of Christ, we can help one other along our respective journeys to publication of God’s Message to a lost and dying world.

Today’s Word Weavers meeting in Tampa was a 45 minute drive from my home in Gulfport, across Tampa Bay. I learned there is a new Word Weavers group in Homer, Alaska, about an hour and a half away from our summer home in Soldotna. How about that! In Alaska!!

God has convicted me that striving to publishing His Message by my writing is merely obedience to His command to “Go!” God is in control of when and if my book is published. It is only my duty to obey and do those things He has set before me.

Like Abraham, I feel a bit apprehensive because I’m stepping out in faith, not knowing where I’m going. What God is asking me to do is not grievous, and I certainly don’t think I have all the answers. I just know I have the answer God gave me, and He has commanded me to share my story of His good news with others.

I covet your prayers that I see the road signs, follow where He leads, wait on Him to renew my strength, obey, and never, ever give up.

Thank you for reading.