Winter – Not always in Alaska

Yes, I enjoy winter.  But I really only like it for a month or two.  This is a new revelation for me, since winter has always meant cold weather and snow as if I didn’t know any better.  I have plenty of warm clothes and have survived just fine in temperatures colder than minus 60 degrees.  When I was younger I did a lot of cross-country skiing (even carrying my little daughter on my back on the way to work!)  I loved snow shoeing and did some ice fishing.  It is only in recent years that I began to be bothered by all the darkness, from early afternoon to late morning, and started staying indoors looking out at the icy snow for months at a time.  Good thing I have lots of projects and always keep busy.  But I got tired of fighting to keep vehicles running, shoveling snow off the decks, being afraid of falling down, and finally started thinking that there could be a better way to live out the rest of my life.

Summers in Alaska are nice, with lots of daylight, temperatures up to 70 degrees, and things to do like kayaking and camping.  But in recent years I stay home during the commercial fishing season when Peter comes to Alaska from his home in Germany, and for a couple of summers I was babysitting his young children, as I will do again this year.  That means no kayak or camping trips and very little freedom.

Since I turned 66 last fall, I am feeling the creep of time running out at the same time I feel my joints ache and my energy slowly ebbing.  For twenty years, since my kids grew up and left home, I’ve been wanting to sell the house that I designed and built thirty years ago so I could “raise them in style”, proving to myself and the world that I could do it.  The older kids rarely visit, and I wonder why I should keep such a high-maintenance, too-big, too many stairs, and way too much winter house so we can believe it is our Family Home.  Somehow I have felt tied to it, to the homestead dreams of my father, to the effort of being the best single mother I could manage, and to the young woman I used to be.  Now I realize that it doesn’t really matter what I do or where I am.  I was only 36 years old when I built that house and my kids are now all well into their 40s, so it’s their time now.  They can all take care of themselves and their families, wherever they choose to live.  I also have choices to make.

So I have decided to go and try the RV traveling life, starting right now.  I know I will meet new people and see new places, learn by experience how to manage a motor home and all it’s associated responsibilities.  My favorite quote about life in an RV is this one: “Anyone thinking of full-timing is thinking of buying a small town. Sewage treatment, water treatment, electric, gas, cable and internet utilities, along with a house and a car, you buy it all, and unless you’re wealthy, you maintain it all.”  I’m not wealthy, but I can find help when I need it, and I don’t need to answer to anybody.

This is the story of my first trip.

I flew to Las Vegas with my dog Cheyenne, where my son Grey picked us up and we went to Indian Springs, where he had stored my motor home by his house.  He had hooked up the towing brackets that Roadmaster had fabricated for me, and the adapter they sent to fit the Demco tow bars that came with my motor home. He said that it took hours to clean the rust and crap from under my beat-up Acura before he could even put in the bolts!  Thanks, Grey!  I really appreciated it.

But of course I was scared about hooking up the car, and terrified that it would immediately be destroyed as some had warned me.  There is still a lot of debate about whether an automatic Acura Legend can be towed, but my success is probably proof that the transmission is most likely a typical Honda product.  It was well below freezing every night I was there, and the water hose he connected to my motor home was frozen solid every morning.  Fortunately I had sent ahead a down sleeping bag, so it was quite comfy in my new bed.  I practiced driving around his little town for a couple of days, and hooked up the tow bar several times before I took off down the highway.

P1160824 leaving Indian Springs NevadaP1160844 Cheyenne onboard

Flash to the Past –

I had many previous road trips, mostly to and from Alaska.  Here is the first one, in 1952 on our initial trip to Alaska (that’s me on the right, at five years of age), and another trip in 1977 when I crossed the same Alaska border with my own children.

Driving to Alaska 1952 1977sm

Today's version of the Alaska border sign to Skagway, much more fancy!

Today’s version of the Alaska border sign to Skagway, much more fancy!

This was a typical 1950s camping trip.  My job was always to gather firewood for the campfire.  I loved camping more than anything, and  I still love fires and camping!  I’m  the enthusiastic marshmallow roaster on the right.

Camping 50s Style

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