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Final weeks at Renfros

Our co-workers, Bob & Marna, left Renfros the day after we returned from our last full week off trip to Homer.  Gary had planned a goodbye dinner at the lodge on Thursday, so we all gathered at the lodge.  We were sad to know they were leaving, our AK family would no longer be complete!

Minar and Maddy

Gary pulled out the summers lost and found box and let us take anything we wanted from it.  Some stuff was pretty silly (one sock) but some was nice like this jacket Bob snatched

Marna loved modeling this hat!

Marna and Gary assembling our dessert – homemade strawberry shortcake!

We’ve been keeping busy – I’m sure you’ve all seen our post about running gear and changing the shackles – if not – it’s a comprehensive “how to” for taking care of these items!

We’ve also relaxed and visited some local places we hadn’t seen yet.  We headed north toward Anchorage – stopping at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.   It was a beautiful day!









We also finally got to Indian Valley Meats for some reindeer sausage.  Thankfully they have samples!


Next stop was Sam’s Club and Walmart in Anchorage.

view from Anchorage Walmart

On our way to dinner – we got a very special unexpected treat – we saw a bunch of people pulled over on Turnagain Arm, which is not unusual, but it seemed they were very focused on the water so we pulled in to see what they were seeing – BELUGAS!  A whole huge pod of them!  At least 20 – probably more – right near shore!  I started snapping away but they were moving on, so we had to move as well!  Off to the next pull-out!  We stopped 4 times – waiting for them to catch up – it was amazing to watch!  These are the best pics I could get!



FLUKE!



no belugas here, but notice the rainbow!



Last, but not least, we went out to dinner! It was the day before our anniversary and Gary recommended a place in Girdwood – Double Musky.  It was highly rated on TripAdvisor also – so we decided to try it! They offered an eclectic menu with a Cajun focus.  For starters we had Scallop and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms that were really good!  Bill ordered the Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya and I had to try the lamb.  Both were fantastic and we brought half of each home!  Dessert was delish as well, Bill devoured his Chocolate whip cream pie thing (can’t remember the name at all!) and I had my fav Creme  Brûlée.  A wonderful meal for sure!  And – bonus – interesting place with all kinds of Mardi Gras memorabilia all over the walls and ceiling.  Thanks Gary for suggesting it!




We’ve also been getting some things done here at Renfros.  Bill has trimmed some trees that were too close to the roof on a few cabins.  Speaking of a roof – he also fixed a leak on one – water was getting in!  He also had to fix (again) a septic tank clean-out b/c someone had hit it with their car.  The biggest project we’ve completed has been adding a pulley system to raise and lower the shade on the upper windows of the lakeside cabins.  The system was redesigned a couple of times before finding a way to get it to work.





As the weeks passed there were other things to do to get ready for Gary to close up for the season.   The last few days were especially busy.   We had all the cabins to clean and ready for the winter.  We also had to call 911 for one of our guests.  They were fine, thankfully.  It’s just a bit complicated because there isn’t any cell service here so one of the guests had to come find Gary (who was out working on the property) so he could go up to the lodge and call.   Then someone has to wait by the road to lead the EMT’s and next the ambulance to the cabin.  We all worked together so we could get the guest the help he needed.

boarding up the windows


draining the water heater tank


insulation to keep the cold out


We met a full-time wanna-be couple, Leslie and Matt from Anchorage.  We enjoyed campfires with them and shared our story of how we came to be living and traveling full-time in our RV.  One night they made yummy deserts!


Gary’s neighbors, Bonnie & Steve, own the local homemade fudge shop, Moose Drop, in Moose Pass.  We’ve been waiting til we were getting ready to leave to go visit them there and get some fudge.  It was worth the wait – and it’s probably good we waited – their fudge could be addictive!


We also made our way over to Soldotna and Kenai one day.  We wanted to say goodbye to Mary & Rollie (friends we met through RVillage) before heading out.  We met at St. Elias Brewery for lunch! We had all heard it was good – and the reviews were right!  We had pizza and Bill of course had beer! He liked it ok, but he and Mary also wanted to try another recommended place, Kassiks.  Friends of ours, Jim & Barb, visited a lot of breweries on their trip up here this past summer and Kassiks was their fav, so it was on the top of Bills list.  Turns out it was one of his fav’s also and he filled both growlers before we pulled out of the driveway.

interesting decor at St Elias


more St Elias


Bill chatting with the owner of Kassiks



The weather has certainly changed quite a bit over the last few weeks, since we’ve been back from Homer.  It’s getting very cold at night (in the 30’s) and we have not seen above 56 during the day for the past 2 weeks or so.  BRRRR!  Leaves on the birch and cottonwood trees have are yellow and are falling off at an alarming rate!  Earlier in the month, we woke to see snow on the mountain tops across the street!  Gary called it termination dust – the termination of hope for warmer temps!  It has proven true!  That first dusting of snow was gone within 24 hours.  Since then it has snowed a few more times and I believe it’s here to stay! It has not snowed down here YET and we are hoping that it doesn’t until we are on our way out!

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Termination dust – this as taken Sept 8

 

this was taken 9/27

Our time here at Renfros Lakeside Retreat has been so wonderful!  We have loved every minute of it!  Gary is a great guy, very sincere and genuine, and has been awesome to work for. I would not hesitate to recommend working for him.  He is already on the hunt for 2017 Workampers!   We have grown to love this place and Gary along with it.  He has created this place that allows one to enjoy all the peacefulness and beauty of the mountains and Kenai Lake, and I’d say 90% or more of his reviews mention what an awesome host he is.  When we accepted his offer to work here – we didn’t know what to expect – but expectations were high!  They were met and more!  How often does one get to say that?!  Sadly, not very in my experience.   This summer will be hard to beat.

where else can you see a moose on the way to the recycling center?

Well, its official, we pulled out of Renfro’s Lakeside Retreat today, a little past 2pm.  We weren’t in a hurry to leave b/c we were only going about 130 miles, to Fred Meyer in Eagle River.  We’ve stayed here before, and wanted to get a few items before the LONG trek out!  We’ve said our goodbyes and exchanged hugs all around.  After getting in the truck, there was no stopping the tears.  We will have to return someday to our Alaskan home at Renfros!  Gary – thanks for everything – we love you and will miss you!

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Getting Ready to GO! (the repacking wheel bearings and shackle report)

My featured pic this week has nothing to do with the rest of the post, it was taken by our friend, Ben Brilhart, while we were in Home, AK a few weeks ago.  Jo sent us a jump drive with a bunch of pics he took – he has an awesome camera with great lenses – and I decided to share this one since our Aurora Borealis  pic wasn’t very good.  Thanks Ben & Jo!

As I start this post, we have less than 3 weeks left til we lift our jacks for the last time at Renfros Lakeside Retreat.  The thought of that both saddens and excites me.  Sad to leave our beloved AK home, yet excited for what’s to come!

 

It’s been a quiet week this week.  Bob & Marna left last week, and we moved up into their spot.  We have a much larger side yard now!  Mostly we moved b/c Gary shut off the RV Park wifi and we can use the lodge wifi from this site.

Census in the cabins and RV Park are both slowing down now, after Labor Day.  Our work schedule has changed to accommodate Bob & Marna’s leaving, as well as the cabin schedule.  We will have off Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s and our last day will be Monday, Sept 26, and we will more than likely leave on the 27th.  Most of you will probably say – give yourself a day to rest, relax and leave the 28th – but I know myself well enough to know that anxiousness will take hold and we will hit the road the 27th.

So – the title of this post – Bill is taking care of replacing the shackles and doing another full inspection of the brakes and running gear.  He has already changed the oil in the truck also.

On the inside, I attempted to do some purging of clothes, while taking out some colder weather items.  Only half that was successful – winter clothes have been taken out and a lot of the short sleeves put away.  The purge part – well – that didn’t go quite as planned.  Seems I still like and/or feel the need to keep a lot of stuff.  UGH!

On to the details of the shackle changing and running gear maintenance – a subject my lady readers will more than likely skip or simply share with their spouse, and my gentlemen readers will be like – YES!

First let me tell you why Bill decided to tackle this job.  We have 2 friends of ours, Jim, of ExploRVistas , and Lee, of CamperChronicles , had theirs break.  So, he inspected ours and noticed a little bit of play.

He then did a bunch of research on the whole thing and decided to replace ours.  Getting these parts up here in AK has proven to be more difficult than it should be.  First he was going to order them from Amazon, as they had the best price, but they would NOT ship them up here – even after 2 lengthy phone calls we still don’t know why.  Then he looked on ETrailer, we’ve bought things from them in the past and they’ve always been great to deal with.  ETrailer would NOT ship them up here either.  Then he tried PPL and a few others, who would ship the parts but the cost for said shipping was crazy high – between $80 and $100 due to the weight.  Just the weight of the shackles wasn’t too bad, but you can’t buy just the shackles, you have to get a kit, which includes stuff he didn’t need.  Longer story shorter, he ended up buying from Amazon, using free shipping to send it to our home address in FL (my parents) and having them send it to us in a flat rate USPS box.  Took 4 days to get here, the medium box cost $13’ish to send.  Problem solved!  How crazy was that!?

We now have the parts!  Whew!

Parts and tool list:

Heavy duty shackles, bushings and wet bolts

Hi-Temp multi-purpose grease – Bill likes Mystik JT6 (this is one  recommended by Dexter)

Misc sockets, jack, torque wrench, screw driver, blocking, seal puller

Never Seize hi-temp brake grease

First thing to do is put wood under the trailer leveling jacks to give more lift so he could get the tires off the ground, as well as for extra stability.  Then he used the truck jack under the axle to take the axle weight off the shackles.


He then took the first wheel off.  He left the other wheel on just in case something happened, the tire could support the trailer.  Next step was removing the dust cap, locking clip (which he prefers over the sometimes used cotter pin), then off comes the ‘D’ washer.

The “D” style locking clip, way better the messing with a cotter pin!

Next remove the D ring and the small wheel bearing.

Then he pulled the hub off.

He purchased a special tool, a seal puller, to remove the grease seal, then the larger wheel bearing comes out.


The grease that looks black and muddy is worn and dirty and needs to be replaced.  Next he cleaned the bearings and races to remove the old grease so he could inspect them.  When looking at them, he was looking for scoring.

Inner bearing surfaces look pretty good other than some light scorching.

Races look perfect.

Next he repacked the bearings with grease, pushing the new grease in until all old grease comes out the other side.  Last time he cleaned them with solvent, which he did b/c he didn’t know what kind of grease they came from the factory with and he didn’t want to mix different kinds of grease, as they aren’t all compatible.


As a side story, Bill was telling me about how the technology used in these trailers is very old, the same that was used on his ’68 Mustang back in the day.  He also was commenting that young, new mechanics don’t even know how to repack bearings since new cars come with unserviceable bearings.

Bill then used brake cleaner spray to clean the dust off the drum/hub braking surfaces so he could inspect it.  He was looking for scoring, and checking the face of the drum for scoring also, as this is where the magnet travels.


He also needed to clean, still using the spray brake cleaner, the brake shoes, hardware and backing plate.

Now it was time to check the brake shoes for wear/thickness.  Ours wore about 1mm in the last 10,000 miles since he’s checked them last, so they didn’t need to be replaced.  They are between 4 and 5mm – anything less than 2mm and he would have wanted to replace them.

The self-adjusting mechanism needs to be inspected and lubricated if necessary.  Basically you have to spin it and if it turns freely, it’s ok.  Next you have to lubricate it b/c you’ve cleaned all the grease off with brake cleaner to inspect it.  You also have to lubricate the 6 contact points between the brake shoe and backing plate.  These items need to be lubricated with a high temp brake lubricant such as Never Seize.  This step is often skipped and is necessary to keep your brakes quiet and protect the backing plate.

When reassembling, Bill was sure to torque the axle nut to 50 foot pounds while spinning the hub, this seats the bearing in the race.  Then, loosen the nut carefully and tighten finger right.

This is the new style Dexter seal that has the sealant already on the seal.  The last time he had to add the sealant separate.

Adding grease the the race before dropping the bearing in place.

Gently tap grease seal into place being careful not to bend it!

He now had completed this wheel position!  One down – 3 to go!

One of the remaining grease seals failed.  Grease just started to migrate onto the brakes.  Bill suspects this is from when he greased the wheel bearings in Bellingham.  With the EZ lube bearings you can add grease without taking the assembly apart BUT the wheels should be spinning when adding grease.  A small tidbit he learned after the fact.

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Grease on top corner of brakes, NOT good.

Lots of grease where it does not belong

See the small hole in the upper left of the spindle.  This is where the grease goes with the EZ lube system.  If you are not rotating the tire while greasing the grease may find an easier path through the back of the grease seal.  Lesson learned, add grease slowly while rotating the wheel.

 

Next up was the shackles! Ready?

This shackle is worn.  See the small area on the bottom bolt near the top that is clean.  That is from bolt movement.  Not good.  You can inspect for wear by tapping the bolts with a hammer when the wheel is off the ground.  It should not move.  One of ours was moving 3/16″!

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The first thing you do is raise the trailer the same way as above and place jack under axle and take the weight off the suspension.  Next loosen the bolts that attach the shackles to the leaf spring and equalizer.  You may have to lower or raise the jack to take off the pressure so you can tap out the bolts with a hammer.  Now you can remove them,

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The new shackles are twice as thick as the old ones!

 

Next you have to remove the old nylon bushings by tapping them out with a socket or punch.  Some may have bronze already.  Either way they need to be inspected and replaced if necessary.  Our nylon bushings were toast!

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Here is the old nylon bushing next to the new bronze bushing,

This is the bronze bushing in the equalizer.  It looks great after 22K miles and didn’t even have a wet bolt.  Bronze looks to be superior to Nylon.  Bill found out when researching the parts that our equalizer is rated for 8K pound axles, Awesome!

Next you tap in the new Bronze bushing carefully with a hammer of piece of wood.

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Next you attach the shackles and install the bolts.  The bolts need to be torqued to 50 foot pounds.  NOTE:  Our axles have a wide spacing so we will be able to grease them easily with the wheels on.  Some units have narrow spacing.  The narrow spaced units will probably have an easier time putting the zerks facing the inside.

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Now you can grease the bolts.  Make sure the grease hole in the bolt is NOT at 12 or 6 O’clock as the weight of the trailer may prevent the grease from entering the bolt.

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Might as well grease the equalizer as well.

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You can mark  the bolts where the grease hole is to install correctly.  Continuing the line onto the shackle you can have a reference point to make sure the captured bolt has not slipped.  This is a sign of early wear!  You can also use a punch to mark them.

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Remember the 3/16″ of play.  This is what that looks like when removed!

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You can see how the ribs have worn off the bolt on the left.  The bolt is normally captured in the shackle by these ribs and cannot move.

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Job complete, just need to do the other side.

NOTES:

Running gear maintenance needs to be done at least every 10K miles or annually (This is what Dexter recommends), especially if your rig is anywhere near its GVWR.  Check your owners manual.

If you are not comfortable with this type of work you should pay someone to do it for you, its important!  A full running gear inspection with wheel bearing repack should cost around $100 to $200 per axle.  Labor to replace shackles should run about $100 per side.  The parts cost about $125.

Bottom line we saved at least $400 and learned what to watch for in the future.

Not sure if any of you noticed, but Bill ended up typing a good bit of this post, as it was becoming crazy, him trying to recite it to me what he did.  Not that it matters, but just wanted to mention it.  First time for that!

I will post again soon – with plenty of pretty pics of pretty vistas – like mountains and other things!

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Our Last FULL Week Off!

It is hard to believe that as I type today it is 9/1!  Where has the time gone?  I have all my blog posts to look back on and remember – not that I need it – not yet anyway!

I already told you about our Saturday, getting chores done and finally seeing Exit Glacier – a great start to our time off!

The weather was predicted to be sunny and gorgeous the whole week and we were VERY excited!  Jo & Ben had gotten back from Kodiak Saturday night and would be waiting for us!

We were making our left turn out onto Seward Hwy by about 10am Sunday, pretty good for us!  We hadn’t planned any stops, except for fuel in Soldotna. We made good time down the Sterling Hwy and I was snapping pics at the overlook by 2:15!

taken from the overlook before you get into Homer – if you look close you can see the spit


Jo & Ben had checked out a few of the local Homer CG’s and decided on Mariner CG, a City of Homer CG.  It is at the base of the Homer Spit, close to things but far away enough that it was quiet!  Best part was the views!  They choose 2 spots and we got set up in no time!  Did I mention the views?


When Bill and I were in Homer in June, we had decided to wait to have the traditional drink at Salty Dog with Jo & Ben.  We generally don’t just go out for drinks on our own, we prefer to go with friends, so waiting for them was an easy choice.  Bill and Ben each had a beer, Jo preferred white wine and I opted for a rum & coke.  Of course, we had to hang up a personalized dollar bill!


After drinks, we walked down by the docks, hoping to get a look at a “Deadliest Catch” boat.  Didn’t take too long to spot these:


We had planned for meals together, we each brought some fresh fish – Bill & I had some halibut from Gary and Ben had caught a silver, Coho, salmon on Kodiak!  YUM and YUM!  We had salad and wine and the guys had beer and we sat outside to eat and watch the water!



Monday, Jo & I got dropped off at the ferry dock at 10:20am – we were heading to Seldovia!  We took advantage of the BOGO in the TourSaver book – and Jo was able to get an additional discount due to being a senior!  Two round trip tickets for $65!  Not too bad!  (Especially when I remember what Bill & I paid to go to Skagway from Haines – I think $70 per person!) The ferry ride was very nice, calm seas and little wind.  Sun was out – no clouds and temps were warm!

see you soon Homer!


The town of Seldovia is very small, only about 250 year round residents.  The only way to get there is boat or plane – there aren’t any roads to get there.   We were hungry so decided to get some lunch first.  After looking at the menus for a few places and consulting TripAdvisor (comparing the 4 available choices), we decided on Linwood Bar and Grill. Jo wanted some pizza and theirs was supposed to be good.  I (even after having it for dinner the night before and planning it for dinner the upcoming night) choose the fish and chips, but substituted onion rings instead of fries.  The whole meal was very good and the prices weren’t awful, considering AK.  We relaxed as we ate and watched a few boats coming in and out of the very small boat harbor.


Our tour next took us to see the only local grocery store.  My co-worker, Marna, had told me about the mosaic work on their floor and I wanted to see it.   Very cool, especially considering the owners did it themselves.   The store was pretty small and had lots of  dust.   Made me glad I don’t have to shop there for groceries.


We also checked out the visitor center, which was small but included a small gift shop – I couldn’t resist some locally made Fireweed Jelly to add to the kids AK baskets.  I got a postcard for my cousin and then we walked down to the Post Office to mail it.  I’m curious to see how long it takes to get to PA.


We continued on, following the map to the “beach”.  It was not anything close to what I (raised on the Jersey Shore) would call a beach, but I guess it’s Seldovia’s version.  There was some dark colored sand and I have to admit the views were awesome!

loved the driftwood


We also found the Russian Church.  We were disappointed we could not go inside, but it looked like no one had been in it for years, as it was in bad repair.

this is a lodge – check out the elevator for luggage

The “Boardwalk” area was our next stop. We looked around the garden/gift shop a bit before moving on.

very cool homes along the waterfront

bet you’ve never seen such a colorful fire hydrant

We ended our tour of Seldovia with a scoop of ice cream and watching boats and birds in the harbor.  It was a very relaxed peaceful day and I’m glad we went.

while I appreciate these types of wood carvings, I’m not a huge fan, but I just loved this one of a new Momma Humpback whale pushing her newborn baby up to the surface for their first breath

Seldovia small boat harbor


Homer – we are back!

Coast Guard buoy tender

The guys were waiting for us when we got back and they had had a great day of fishing and going to one of the local breweries.

Tuesday was the guys big fishing trip day! We woke early to drive them to the dock by 6:00AM!  After getting there and finding no one there – Bill checked his email and found one letting them know the time and boat had changed.   They now didn’t need to be there til 6:30 – so the wait got a little longer!


Jo and I headed back to our homes on the beach and decided to try and get some additional sleep.  Thankfully we were both able to do just that.  My Dad called  and woke me at 8, which was fine.  We had a leisurely morning, enjoying our coffee outside with Peyton (Jo & Ben’s Malamute), taking a stroll along the waters edge.  After some brunch, we went to do some shopping at the shops along the spit.    We had a blast looking at all the local art and craft stuff for sale.  We got the guys t-shirts and I got one too!  Jo purchased herself a hoodie and new pair of bear earrings.   I picked up a new seasoning to use on the fish!

We were done shopping and found ourselves back in our chairs on the beach by about 3 – we didn’t need to pick up Bill and Ben til 4:30, so we hung out loving being outside in the sun, and I think we each dozed off a bit.


The guys were late getting back – but they brought halibut so we didn’t mind!  Neither caught a BIG one – but we got enough to have a few nice dinners!  They had a great time and even saw some whales, so a good day was had by all!


We were all pretty tired after dinner, so we called it a night early.


Wednesday we woke to another amazing weather day!  Clear and sunny!  We decided to have a big breakfast of pancakes and bacon!  And as a special bonus – AK picked blueberries!  Bill made the regular kind inside our rig and Ben made his fav, buckwheat, outside on the grill, after the bacon was done being cooked on it.

After filling our bellies, Bill and Ben went to pick up the previous day’s catch, which was cleaned, vacuum packaged and flash frozen.  It was all packed away in our freezer along with some cod Bill decided to get.

Jo and I dropped them off at Lands End with their fishing poles and a cooler, and off we went to the liquor store – Jo was out of wine!  Oh the horror!   We first place we stopped was next to Safeway b/c we needed a few things from there also, but they didn’t have anything we were interested in – so on to the next place, called the Grog Shop.  They had what we were looking for so we got to check “wine” off the list!   Our next stop was the Homer Farmer Market.  Bill & I had visited this when we were in Homer back in June and I was hoping there would be more fresh produce.  Well – there really wasn’t, but I did get some fresh homemade salsa – there were samples and it was delish!  Jo picked up some locally made jelly for Ben, again – it hard to not get something yummy after they offer samples!

Ben dressed for the occasion while Bill fished from shore

sadly this beauty was not large enough to be kept

Sitting outside, loving the view of Cook Inlet, had become our new fav pastime and we made sure we spent plenty of time doing that again!  The guys finally called a little while later and we went to pick them up.  There had been a few fish caught, but sadly none were keepers – oh well!  They had a nice afternoon – that’s all that matters, right?
I forget who sparked up a fire, but we sat out by it til past sunset.  We didn’t want our time in Homer to end, which it was going to do the next morning.  Each couple retreated into their home to get some sleep.

Bill was looking out his little window by his side of the bed and he says “There are some weird clouds” and then “That is strange how they are moving” so it hit me – they aren’t clouds – it must be northern lights!  The aurora borealis!  I ran outside, not waiting for Bill to get his jeans back on.  Sure enough – there was the northern lights – OMG!  MAJOR BUCKET LIST ITEM!  After a minute – I went over to Jo & Ben’s camper and called out “Jo!” – she answered “What?” I could barely keep from yelling – but whispered loudly – “hurry – get out here – northern lights!”  I could hear them scrambling to get up as Bill and I watched in awe!  I was very surprised – it is very fluid – doesn’t stay still – fades in and out and constantly moving.   We snapped a few pics – Bill did anyway then Ben got it his camera and tripod.   We stayed out for about half an hour watching.



Bill and Ben then went over to ask the people in the Class A a couple sites down to turn off their gennie.  It was way past 11pm at this point, which is when quiet hours start.   The guy was not very nice, but after a few minutes he shut it down.  Why do people have to be difficult?

We were up and headed north by 8:57am – 3 full minutes ahead of schedule!  After stopping at the dump station, our next stop was Moose is Loose Bakery in Soldotna.  OMG!  The options were many and the place was packed with people trying to make a decision.  I really didn’t want to walk out with a full box of baked goods – but between Bill & I – we couldn’t help it!  No really – before we knew it we had eaten our first selections – a chocolate covered donut for Bill and chocolate covered custard filled one for me!  I don’t remember now what Jo & Ben got, but they also walked out with a full box.  Our take home box had an apple bear claw, apple fritter, pecan sticky bun, 3 cinnamon buns with raisins, and a loaf of cinnamon bread.  I’ve got to tell you – I have no idea what any of it cost – dollars or calorie wise – but we just couldn’t resist!


Next up was a stop in Walmart for salad fixings and a few other items, before we shared final hugs and goodbyes with Jo & Ben.  They are heading back down to the lower 48 to pick up their 5th Wheel and their next travel nurse contracts.

What a great time we had in Homer with Jo & Ben!  It was the perfect blend of stuff to do and relaxing – and best of all – time with friends!  Hope our paths cross again in the not too distant future!

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rainy work days…

Last Saturday we had a short work day so we decided to go blueberry picking again.  We didn’t bring in as much as last time, but enough to share some with Gary and Bob & Marna.


We’ve been doing our thing here at Renfros – turning over the cabins and taking care of the RV Park, keeping things clean, neat and tidy for the guests.  It’s what we do!  After the one day of sun, it started raining again.  All the rain creates more of a challenge in this keeping things clean business because the whole place is a muddy mess!  Which gets brought in onto the floors!    We received only one tip this week, but it was a good one – left by people who were only here one night and actually cleaned up after themselves.  I know New Yorkers get a bad rap most of the time – but they know how to tip!


Another cabin drew this awesome pic in the journal


Contrasting the New Yorkers who cleaned up after themselves and left a tip, I did have some of the messiest kitchens this week – more than one left food on plates on the table!  NOT cool! Worse yet (I didn’t take a pic of this – I decided to spare you the gross details!) one family left the food on the plates and then put them into the sink and wet them, so all the nasty food was all soggy and gross!  EWWW!  Very worst part – not one tip!  Seriously people?

There are a ton of mushrooms all over the place here!  I’ve been snapping pics of them!  I have no idea what kind they all are, but I’ve never seen so many in my life!



One very good thing that happened this week was Jo & Ben came by!  They weren’t originally going to, but then they did!  Spent the night and everything!  We had a thrown together dinner of chili dogs and watched “Joy” on TV!  They moved on the next morning, heading in the direction of Homer, as they were catching the ferry to Kodiak!  We were so excited to see them and so surprised, we forgot to take a single pic!  We will be seeing them again next week on our last full week off!

I got yelled at by one of the little squirrels that live on the property this week, must have come to close to their stash of whatever they stash.  He/she was so cute!

I recorded this guy for 15 seconds after he ran up the tree and continued to scream at me – not enough signal to load it

AK version of a blue jay

Then on Thursday, an almost miracle started happening – the rain stopped!  The clouds started to go away!  We checked the weather, which we had quit doing – and there were SUN icons!  OMG!  We quick checked for Homer, since we are heading there this coming week – and MORE SUN icons!  We got so excited!
I sure do wish I had a better camera for the middle of the night Thursday night/Friday morning when I had some insomnia.  The sky was clear and the stars were out!  It was beautiful!  I tried to take a pic but it was no use, could not get a pic at all!

Friday was an amazing day here on the Kenai Penninsula!  The weather couldn’t have been better – sunny and warm all day!  Fabulous!  It hasn’t been this clear in a LONG time! We celebrated with a campfire!



Saturday we woke to another sunny beautiful morning!  We decided, after a big breakfast of eggs and bacon, to finally go see Exit Glacier.  We’ve talked about it, went there once but didn’t go see it due to (guess what?) rain, so it was the perfect day to go!











That’s all for today!  Sorry I’m late posting but wifi and cell signals have been less than optimal.   Next up – Homer!  Stay tuned!

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Year 2  Summary  Part 2 – looking back/looking ahead

My email subscribers got an unintended preview of this post a few weeks ago – I hit the “publish” button instead of “save” – and you all got the not done yet post – here’s the full version!  Here is a link to last years summary, in case you missed it:  Year ONE – Thoughts and Reflections, and another to this years Part 1 summary: Year 2 Summary Part 1 Facts and Figures

It is an amazing thing – that we have been full-time RVers for 2 years!  It’s been 2 years since we have owned a house and had all the things that go along with that – taxes, yard maintenance, cleaning nearly 3000 sq ft of rooms.  That is the stuff I DO NOT miss!

To be completely honest though, there are things I do miss.  I miss entertaining my family and friends, be it for holidays or just a summer-time BBQ.  Bill and I always had someone at the house, sometimes for a night or two or three and sometimes longer, up to 2 years!  Our door was always open!  Sometimes Cindy would come for a week, sometimes we would host up to 20 people for the weekend!

I miss my kids and their SO’s coming for the weekend, I remember the excitement I would feel when getting their rooms ready, going shopping for and making them dinner, having movie and popcorn night in the basement.

I miss my breakfast or lunch and shopping dates with my GF’s Lisa, Cherie, Kathy, Karen, just to name a few.

Now that weather is turning colder – I remembered that I miss taking a nice hot soaking bath!  I didn’t get in very often, but when I did – it was nice!

I also miss – DON’T LAUGH! – my regular hair appointments.  Jamie is the BEST and always kept my hair looking awesome!  It has been hit or miss – mostly misses – trying to keep my hair looking good!  I haven’t blogged about it before, but I did attempt to grow out the grey and UGH! – after 6 months I gave in and Bill helped me put an end to that experiment!

In spite of all that – overall – we are very happy with our choice of lifestyle.  Admitting all the things I miss, would I go back and make the same decision – to sell our house and travel full- time in our 5th wheel home?   You betcha!  Some people are very supportive and understanding, others not so much.   Some people admit a bit of jealousy and wish they were either brave enough or financially in a place that they could do it themselves; others think we are off our rockers!   We accept all perspectives, and try to listen when someone has a genuine concern, but we mostly ignore negativity and naysayers.

Our lifestyle has allowed us to spend more time with extended family and friends than ever before in year 2.  Although, interestingly, we have not seen any immediate family in quite a while, due to our current summer location in AK, and the travel time to get here.  I am very much loving being here, living like a local in Seward, but it must be acknowledged that it is FAR from everywhere else!   Can’t drive a few hours and see my parents or kids or siblings.

Not physically seeing immediate family in this long a time has proven difficult for me.   This could possibly be due to all that is going on that I am not there for.  My son has been experiencing some difficulties, as has my sister.  It is hard being away from them, hard not to be able to offer a shoulder to cry on and/or a hug when needed.

On happier fronts, my daughter has gotten engaged!  She and her fiance have also moved into their first home together! Its a very exciting time in her life and I miss not being there in person to share in it with her!   (She did take us on a FaceTime tour of the house – awesome! Thank goodness for technology!). We keep in touch and I don’t feel out of the loop at all, but it would have been nice to go along to see a venue or two with her, and/or preview a house or two before one was chosen!  You know what I mean!

I watched a video blog from a guy who does a blog called “Outside Our Bubble” the other day, and he talks about feeling “disconnected” – I thought it was interesting so I thought I would share it here – its a side of full-timing that really isn’t talked about much – but is very valid and reinforces some of what I’ve said here.  Outside Our Bubble – The Flip-Side of Full-Timing Feeling the Disconnect

I wrote a lot about my nephew in last years summary.  I still grieve for him – I miss his goofy smile and his always enthusiastic hugs!  I miss his phone calls that always started with “Hey Aunt Kelly!” and always ended with “Loveyoubye!” – just like that – one big word!  The waves don’t come as frequently, nor do they knock me over every time, but I am acutely aware when they hit.  What also pains me is the fact my sister still struggles so badly.  I wish there was something I could do to help her.   Sadly, this, the grieving process, is something no one can do for her.

Bill read this and commented that I should add a list of things we like and/or have gained since full-timing, to contrast the list of what I miss, so here goes.  We LOVE seeing new places and doing new things – some of fav’s have been:

We started the year in Key West and went parasailing for the first time – New Years and Hubby’s Birthday in the Keys

Spending time with friends in New Orleans – Time in NOLA

Seeing Carlsbad and Kartchner Caverns – Carlsbad Caverns and Kartchner Caverns

Boondocking in Q – AZ dessert – Quartzsite

Family time in Joshua Tree, CA – Joshua Tree

First time seeing Yosemite – Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequioa’s

Family time in Cotati – Cotati and Klamath

Crater Lake – Crater Lake

First time in Seattle – Seattle

Haines AK – Haines AK and Haines, AK

And – of course our entire time in AK!  You can look back on all the posts from this past summer – BUCKET LIST BOX CHECKED!

So – some have asked – what’s next?

When our time is up here in AK – we will head back down to the lower 48.  We want to stop in Haines again for a couple days, then head back down the Alcan, to Dawson Creek.  We had originally talked heading toward Jasper and hopefully down the Icefield Parkway to Lake Louise and Banff, but ultimately have decided to save Canadian Rockies for another time.  So instead, we will move toward Edmonton, then down to Calgary, then south into Montana, avoiding the high elevation of the mountains.

Our first destination will the the Louisville/Boulder CO area to see Goddaughter, Quynn and meet her fiancé, Megan.  We will then drive east on US 70, stopping in Manhattan, KS to see niece Angela and her kids.  Next up will be PA, the Somerset/Berlin area to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our daughter and her new in-laws-to-be.  Our son will be there also, he is actually in the process of moving closer to his sister – it will be nice to be able to visit them together!  Continuing east, we will want to see cousin Cindy, brother Jay and his crew, including niece Jaime.  Not sure if my sister will still be in DE, but if she is, we will see her also.  Another stop will be brother, John and his GF, Susan.  Seeing BFF, Linda and the whole Yaeger family will be near the top of the list!  Hoping to drop in at the Infosinos as well!  There are many other friends we will hope to see also.

We are still looking for employment in FL for the winter months – Jan through March or even April, near my parents in Clearwater.  I haven’t had a whole lot of luck, apparently I waited too long to look and most places are already filled up, but I haven’t given up yet.  We have reservations for the month of January and if we don’t find positions we will stay the month and then move on.  To where you may ask – and I have no idea – we are talking about options.

Regardless of where we spend the spring, we are already looking for workamping jobs for next summer on the Jersey Shore.  Can’t start too soon!

After our daughters wedding on Oct 8, we will more than likely do another peak at Amazon, especially if we do not find anything for FL.  Gotta keep the checking acct happy!

We have also been asked more than once – how long will we do this?  And also – where might we “land” when we are done?    I posed the first question to Bill in preparation for this post and his answer is spot on for me as well – “no idea – for at least the foreseeable future”.  The second question doesn’t have a definitive answer either, although I can say with certainty that it will be near water, probably an ocean, at the very least a big bay!  As much as we’ve been loving the mountain views here in AK, our hearts are at the beach.  There is something about the sand and waves that fills our souls and refreshes us.

I am getting ready to finish this post, but I want to add this thought real quick.  I was chatting earlier with a friend, a full-timing friend, and she asked me if we were ready to move on from AK – we’ve been here almost 4 months!  My answer was that yes – our time to leave is drawing near and  I am getting ready to leave.  I know when we leave – seeing family will be happening and that makes me happy!  Part of my reply to her though – which happened very spontaneously, with no forethought at all – was “I know we will be here 4 months – I cannot imagine how we once lived in one place for 12 years!”  Wow! – that statement is really sticking with me.  The longest we lived in one place since we’ve gotten married has been 12 years.  Other places we’ve lived were 6 years (KY), 8 years (Toms River NJ) and 2 years (Keansburg NJ).  Before that, we lived in the same town our whole lives, Bill lived in the same house his whole life growing up!  We knew all the same people, went to the same school district, had never lived anywhere else.  I guess we were able to do that then b/c we didn’t know any different.  It just seems so unimaginable now.  Staying in one place 4 months seems like forever, even though it’s an awesome place and I already get choked up when I think of leaving.  I guess when spending 4 months in one place doesn’t feel like nearly enough – we will know it’s a place to consider “landing”, right?

So – I do believe I’m ready to post now.  Today is 9/18! We’ve had some internet issues that have gotten in the way of posting – sorry it’s taken so long!  I’ve been also waiting for WordPress to resolve some issues with accessing my older pics in the media library, but their helpers are all on vacation until 9/23 – so I will do a photo post when that gets fixed!

Now that Internet is working better – I am hoping to get the “running gear and shackle report posted by Tuesday – be on the lookout!

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Tracys Birthday Celebration in Valdez

 

Before I start, I have to give credit to Ben Brilhart for the pic of the puffin I’m using as my featured pic (above).  I had a hard time deciding since there were so many great photos this week!  Read on and I share all the best ones!

So, we left off last week, literally, on our ride to Glennallen. We had stopped for the night at the Eagle River Fred Meyer, a grocery store.


We woke in the morning to mostly clear skies and SUN!  We had not seen sun in what felt like forever!  I was so excited!

The drive to Glennallen was very nice – gorgeous scenery and SUN!  And blue skies!  There were still some clouds, but the nice white puffy kind, not the dark, rain threatening kind.

pretty

I took a pic of my shadow – its been so long since I’ve seen it!


We arrived at Northern Nights CG about 12:45pm; Jo & Ben had beat us there by about 1/2 hour!  Hugs all around was such a nice welcome!  I didn’t realize it, but Tracy & Lee had the day off!

We did have a weird thing happen in the rig on the way to Glennallen that I’m going to share to maybe help it from happening to someone else.  When we arrived, Bill hooked up the water and realized he heard water running somewhere, which he shouldn’t have.  He entered the rig and realized our shower was on – weird!  We keep our hampers in the shower (just remove them into the bedroom when we shower) so all the clothes in there got soaked!  UGH!  He quickly realized the culprit was a soap container came down out of the shower caddy and must have knocked into the water handle on its way down, turning on the water!  So – I had an unexpected load of laundry to do!  Lesson learned – take everything out of the shower caddy when towing!

After a short “what is this week going to look like food wise?” chat, us girls headed to the liquor store and the local IGA.  It was so nice to have some girl time!  Tracy got carded at the liquor store and we learned why – I mean Tracy doesn’t look old but she is clearly over 21!  Seems that some people in AK have their driver licenses marked in some way that they aren’t allowed to buy alcohol!  None of us had heard of that before!  Alcohol and drug problems are huge up here and it’s one way the state of AK has chosen to deal with it.  Wonder if it actually helps?

We enjoyed the rest of the day and into the evening – we were able to eat dinner outside!  We had yummy chicken (thanks Lee!), steamed broccoli, and roasted potatoes (thanks Tracy!).  We actually had dessert first – red velvet cookies – courtesty of Bridget (Tracy had the dough in the freezer from when she and Lee visited her a while back) (you also may remember Bridget from one of my February posts – Bill and I had dinner with her one night while we were in New Orleans!) and I quickly whipped up some cream cheese frosting!  They were YUMMY!  Thanks Bridget!  We just love how our whole RV Dreams family stays connected!

Peyton puppy kisses

frosting the cookies

hanging out

good one of Ben

dinner time!

sunset – we haven’t seen a sunset in a LONG time!

After dinner we had a FIRE!  First time in a LONG (too long) time! We sat out with our wine til it was almost dark (keeping in mind it still doesn’t get fully dark until the middle of the night)!  What a perfect ending to a most awesome day!

The plan for Sunday was to have a relaxing start, coffee and cinnamon buns (thanks Jo & Ben!) and let Tracy & Lee pack up (something they haven’t done in months!) – we were going to Valdez!  New territory!  Some place new!

Tracy & Lee were just about ready; Bill decided he wanted to fill up on fuel.  We drove up to “the hub” on the corner – what a crazy busy place!  The plan had been Tracy & Lee and Jo & Ben  would come up the road and we would pull in behind them and we’d be on our way.  Tracy had a bunch of stops planned along the route of things to see.  Didn’t quite end up that way.  We had synced our walkie talkies so we could communicate on the ride and as we pulled away from the pumps, we got a call that Tracy & Lee’s brakes and lights weren’t working – ut oh!  We headed back, hoping for an easy fix – but there wouldn’t be one.  Took the 3 guys a good chunk of the afternoon but we (Tracy, Jo & I – sitting at a picnic table out of the way!) finally saw the blinkers and brake lights!  The pull-check confirmed the brakes were also working!  Just like that – it was time to go!  We did have to pull over for a quick tweak a bit later on, but all was good!  YAY!

The ride down to to Valdez was beautiful, In spite of the clouds.  There were areas that were more bumpy than others, but overall the road was ok.  We made a few stops to see things, again, in spite of the rain/clouds.

having some Mexican from the local food truck – YUMMY!

we’ve been on better, but also worse, roads – see where the frost heave was fixed?

amazing views everywhere

don’t see this every day!

three men and a glacier

waterfalls everywhere!

Us!

all lined up

info about the tunnel

I didn’t want to go into the tunnel

3 ladies and a waterfall

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We arrived at Valdez Glacier CG, a military CG that allows the public also.  The sites are large and have lots of screening.  They are so large that Jo & Ben decided to share our site!  We set-up right across from Tracy & Lee.  It was dinner time by the time we were all settled in, and we enjoyed a delish meal of pulled pork that Tracy had made ahead of time.

The following day, after yummy biscuits and gravy, bacon and pancakes, out we went to see some sights!  Bill & I and Jo & Ben decided to also stop at the local museum to learn some Valdez history.

salmon are spawning

closer view

Valdez

the birds would fly under the bridge, land then ride the water to the edge then fly back and start again – they are eating fish eggs

it is amazing how determined the salmon were to get up there!

salmon spawning

this guy didn’t make it – got stuck when the tide – this is a Coho or Silver salmon

barge and tug in Valdez harbor

inside view of the pipe scrubber – commonly called a scraper pig

side view

inside the museum – example of a typical cabin

this is a cute little bunny

this bar was brought in and is in the museum in Valdez

more museum stuff

says it all – as a side note – this is the owner of the cruise to Columbia Glacier we went on


Later on, after dinner (hamburgers, hot dogs, brats and salad), we headed back to see if we might see some bears feasting on salmon.  Someone had told Tracy the best time was mid-tide, but I think when we were there the tide was out.  No bears, but we did walk over to the fish hatchery to see that.

I just love waterfalls – and they are everywhere

we had been hoping to see bears fishing – but no

this is part of the salmon ladder

info on how the hatchery works


Tuesday was Tracys BIG 50! She had picked going on a glacier cruise for her birthday – so we took advantage of an offer in the TourSaver book – a 7 hour cruise with Stan Stephens.  We arrived on time for the required 10am check-in, and then hung out til they started boarding at 10:30.  Exactly at 11am, we were underway.  The sun was peaking out a little bit, and clouds were higher than the previous day, so we were all hopeful none of the predicted rain would fall!

Valdez harbor

the birthday girl

be sure to read ALL the rules! ha!

Prince William Sound

unbeatable scenery

we only got little peaks of blue sky

 

glacier and waterfalls all over the place!

The crew served us our lunch of hot clam chowder (Ben opted for the veggie Minestrone), bagel with cream cheese and Oreos for dessert.  The bagels were more like round bread, but the chowder was good and hot, a nice choice considering the chill in the air!

3 BFF’s

the views don’t quit

just a little bit more blue

love this one how there are white puffy clouds below the dark stormy ones

The mountains were all around us as the captain (who looked about 12 years old!) steered toward the Columbia Glacier.  We started seeing ice chunks in the water, some were fairly small, some were real iceberg size!  Captain Ben told us about the glacier as he dodged the larger pieces, and pushed through the smaller ones.

blue ice chunks everywhere – there are different categories – growlers, bergy bits, small, medium, large and very large icebergs

OTTERS! so cute!

they are so adorable

this pic is courtesy of Ben Brilhart - Columbia Glacier - almost makes me want to spend $2000 on a lens

this pic is courtesy of Ben Brilhart – Columbia Glacier – almost makes me want to spend $2000 on a lens

there were lots of ice floating in the water – the captain navigated around the larger pieces and just knocked the smaller pieces out of the way

the dirty ice is ice that has cut away at the ground as it went down the mountain

We spent some time at the face of the glacier, snapping pics, in awe of it.  This glacier is not as high out of the water as the other one we saw, but much wider.  The crew told us at the highest point, it is only about 200 feet above the water, but about 600 feet below.

me, Bill, Ben, Tracy, Jo and Lee

the face of Columbia Glacier

was a bit chilly by the glacier – the temps drop about 20 degrees when we got that close to it

 

glacier ice the crew fished out of the water – notice how clear it is

the blue ice is so cool!


Next stop was Bullhead Point, where Stellar Sea Lions were lazing around and Puffins were buzzing about.

this shows how icebergs have so little above water while there is so much below the water line

goodbye Columbia Glacier!

Stellar Sea Lions just lazing about – we learned that these do not bark like California Sea Lions

juvenile bald eagle - pic courtesy of Ben Brilhart

juvenile bald eagle – pic courtesy of Ben Brilhart

mature bald eagle - pic courtesy of Ben Brilhart

mature bald eagle – pic courtesy of Ben Brilhart

these guys must have been up on this buoy for a while, they were dry

more gorgeous views

yes – that is Bill out on the bow!

We were disappointed not to see any whales, especially after a lady who had gone the day before told us they saw many orcas.  Wild life that is truly wild is kind of like the weather, we get no control, they go where they go and sometimes they are where we can view them, sometimes (like our day out in Prince William Sound), they aren’t.

For dinner that night, we enjoyed chicken fajitas, with the cheesecake Tracy had chosen for her birthday cake.  We were all stuffed!  Happy Birthday Tracy!

It was time to pull up jacks, dump our tanks and head out in the morning – we had another glacier to get a close up view of!  We lined up for the drive with Jo & Ben in the lead.  The clouds were higher and sun was more visible, so we were hoping for some better views on our drive out.

Jo & Ben’s leading the way – gorgeous scenery!


The Worthington Glacier is not as large as Columbia, but we got to walk right up to it!  Even Jo, who is still nursing a broken ankle!


Before heading out, we decided to have our lunch, while still able to see the glacier.  Can’t beat that view!

We got all set-up back at Northern Nights by about 3pm.  Plenty of time to chill before making Tracys “official” birthday meal of king crab and steak!  She borrowed a pot from her boss so we could more easily steam them, and we had 2 grills going with steak and chicken.  I made enough salad for everyone.  Needless to say – it was all delish!  Thanks for treating us to the crab Tracy & Lee!

Lee started a fire and we sat and chatted til about 10.  It has been a long few days, but every minute was wonderful – spent with great friends – celebrating a special time!

Today Bill and I have a long drive back to Seward.  I’ve been asked a few times now if we are still enjoying our time there or are we ready to move on.  It is difficult to answer frankly.  We generally don’t stay put this long, since we have been full-time RVers, so part of me has a bit of hitch itch, as we call it.  The other part of me is thinking “how can we ever be ready to leave this amazing place?”  Where do we go after this?  Spending this summer in AK is the fulfillment of a life-long bucket list dream – and its come true!  How does one get ready to end that?  I know as the weeks continue – I will “get ready” because I have family to see – and that will motivate me to “get ready”.  I can totally understand how people come here and never leave (bear in mind I haven’t seen a winter), as AK is a magical amazing place!  Would I return?  You betcha!  Might take awhile, as there are so many other places we haven’t discovered yet back in the lower 48, but it will be hard to not come back to this final frontier.

Mt Drum – from the driveway of Northern Nights CG in Glennallen

on our way back to our AK home

beautiful blue skies!

Sheep Mountain Lodge – our second visit to this great breakfast/lunch/dinner stop

Bill making friends with the grizzly

that grizzly was BIG!

Peyton was very curious about the moose

selfie with the moose!

Mantanuska Glaicer

four friends

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More of that Four Letter Word…

As a disclaimer – the title of this weeks’ post is not meant to imply that work (the 4 letter word) is a bad thing.  On the contrary, for us, where we are, in AK and even more specifically Renfros, is a wonderful thing!  I am using it mostly due to a comment when I posted  the post “hi ho hi ho it’s off to work we go!” on FB, some one referring to it as a four letter word – for some reason it stuck in my head.

This week has not been very exciting, I’m sad to report.  That doesn’t mean we haven’t had some good moments, but it’s mostly been about that four letter word – work – and getting ready for our upcoming week!  That means next weeks post should be a fun-filled good time!

Here at Renfros, it’s been a feast or famin week – with either a whole lot of cabins to clean or one day we actually had 0!  As in not one cabin!  That’s a first for us!  Another day we had one!  Another first!  One slightly busier day we cleaned 3!  Then the other days were 7,7,5, and 6!  So like I said – feast or famine! But it’s all good – we just do what needs to be done!


On our zero cabin day, we started the day with a pancake breakfast, complete with homemade pancakes – courtesy of Gary (using his Moms recipe!), bacon – thanks to Bob & Marna, Bill & I brought OJ and Cinnamon Buns.  Not world famous cinnamon buns that are all over AK and BC – just plain old Pillsbury pop-n-fresh kind out of that can that goes “POP” when you peel the label off.

we all wore our Renfros T-shirts that Marna designed and ordered for us! It was my idea to add the year

After breakfast, we headed out on a mission – BLUEBERRIES!  There is a trail nearby, the Victor Creek Trail – like literally across the street – and there are tons of bluebery bushes back in there!  Last years Workampers, Trisha & Justin (remember we met them at Amazon?), told Gary where to find the mother-load! We set out with our bear spray, rain jackets and containers, intent on picking at least enough for a pie!

this is as close to a beach as we’ve seen – and it isn’t sand – its glacier silt – its why the creeks and lakes are the color they are

interesting mushroom formations on the fallen trees

Gary getting off the trail

Bill watching for the best bushes!

more mushrooms

whos got the most? do we have enough for a pie?

cool looking tree roots


We were out about an hour and a half, with the rain holding off thankfully, and brought home plenty for a pie, and extra for the freezer!

After we got back, Gary headed to Anchorage, Bill & I cleaned the bathouse and did a few other things around the place while Marna researched blueberry pie recipes!

Later that evening, we gathered at the lodge for the pie!  Marna, who is known for her desserts, outdid herself!  The pie was delish!  At Gary’s suggestion (ok – maybe insistence!) she made a homemade crust – the whole thing was finger licking good!  She even brought vanilla ice cream to top the still-warm-from-the-oven pie!  Perfect!

she even braided the crust!

YUMMY!

There are a lot of mushrooms around the property – I assume due to the abundance of rain we’ve had.  Have I mentioned there’s been a lot of rain?  Like everyday? Except Wednesday – Wednesday we didn’t get rain – and even got a glimpse of -gasp! – blue sky!  We were so excited!

Momma mushroom and baby mushroom

Gary says the red ones are poison

just a plain brown one

I was so excited to see the blue!


Wednesday, we were so happy we decided to celebrate no rain by going to dinner – and after some deliberation – Thai food was the winner!  Gary suggested Woodies and off we went!

thats Bills “hurry and take the pic so I can eat!” face


By the time we got there, we were starving!  I had pineapple curry with chicken and Bill had red curry chicken.   We also ordered their version of crab Rangoon for an appetizer.  The whole meal was very good – we hadn’t had Thai in a LONG time!

After dinner, we had another stop to make.   We were picking up crab legs for Tracy, to celebrate her 50th birthday!  She wanted to treat us as part of her birthday celebration!  Well, we arrived and the only people there was the night processing people, who basically had nothing to do with the retail area.  We quickly learned their FB page was not kept up to date and they closed an hour earlier than stated there.  Ok – we will go across town and get them at the other recommended place in town.  Sadly, they were closed also.  Interestingly, their out front sign says “open: 6:30am  close: when the last boat comes in”.  Another trip into Seward would be needed – somewhat annoying but not a huge big deal.

The following evening after work, Bill got our dinner started and I (after calling to confirm their closing time and that they had what I wanted) headed into Seward, back to the Mermaids purse.  The place was packed!  The lady at the counter was very helpful, she did a thorough search of the freezer and came out to tell me there wasn’t any – could I come back tomorrow?  Ah – NO!  I explained that this was my second trip here and I had called in advance to confirm.  OH!  Ok – she then decided to drive over to get some from the commercial location – good idea!   I waited about 15 minutes and there was my crab!  Now we’re talking!   Stephanie decided to round down the lbs to account for the “excessive” ice (I don’t believe there was .23lbs of ice – but who am I to argue?), and she also gave me 10% off for my trouble of having to come back, and aplogized for the website being wrong.  I thanked her for her consideration, packed my crab into my cooler and back to Renfros and my waiting BBQ chicken I went!  Whew!

performing surgery on the bear proof garbage can


Today, Friday, We had 6 cabins.  Bob & Marna helped us b/c originally we were supposed to have 8, and Gary decided since we wanted to get done and leave, he would not cancel their assistance.  The extra help paid off and we were done by 3!  Dinner finished, showers had and packing up complete, we were on the road by 5:30!

 

Playing with the PAN feature on the phone camera


We’ve stopped for the night at the Eagle River Fred Meyer, done some shopping and had some pizza (nothing exciting, just the frozen kind).  We will finish the trip to Glennallen in the morning!  Sunday we drive down to Valdez – new territory!  It’s going to be a great week!