So this is now a flashback post, although not originally intended to be. The content in this post is going home from Alaska in August 2018…
Home… when you live in an RV, home changes it’s meaning. When you are at the store and you are going home, you mean back to the RV, wherever it is parked. Then again when I am at was in Venice last November, going home meant back to the hotel in Switzerland… So I guess it’s one of those phrases that takes context. In the case of today’s post, going home means leaving Alaska, heading back to the lower 48, flying home to my parents house for my nieces wedding, and spending a month in South Dakota, our home of record, even though we have never lived there.
Home from Alaska
We headed home from Alaska about a month earlier than we had planned. We really would have like to stay up there and maybe see it get dark, and MAYBE see the northern lights. But my niece was getting married on 8/18/18 and there was no changing that. At first I thought I would not attend (too far away) but as time went on, it seemed like a good opportunity to have a family reunion.. which happens too infrequently in our family, when my brother and my sister both decided to attend, I decided to go too.
At first I looked for flights from Anchorage. In the end we decided to head home a month early to get back to Spokane in time to fly out there for Albuquerque. Mike was not going with me.
The drive home seemed less eventful than going, definitely less bears. And the memories will always be enveloped in forest fire smoke. We took a different route home, going by Destruction Bay, We paused and took the car down one day to Haines, which probably would have been GORGEOUS if not for the Fog.
We took another Day trip to Skagway, where we had been before on the cruise in 2001, but our main objective this day was to visit a friend from Canon City (Renee Fleming) who had moved to Skagway a few years ago. Her story and spirit fills me with inspiration! So we HAD to stop by.
The drive to Skagway was also beautiful, but foggy as well. On the way home from Skagway in the dark we got a fantastic view of a developing forest fire. Little did we know we would spend the next 4 days in smoke, not even wanting to stop for the night, breathing toxic air in all night long.
Cassier Highway, BC
Going home we took the Casiar Highway through BC. While again interesting, as mentioned above it was 2 solid days in the smoke. And 2 solid days without ANY cell phone coverage (therefore internet access). Can’t say I enjoyed this part of the trip much.
We may just have to come back to BC when we can be a little more casual about the visit.
Finally out of the smoke, we took another side trip to Hyder, which is actually on the southern tip of Alaska, and famous for bear sighting. Only this day poured the rain down so hard that we couldn’t see the sides of the road! VERY disappointing day here… Even the bears were not out fishing. The Park Ranger told us the day before they had sighted a wild wolf at the wildlife viewing are… Of course they did!
Home to Albuquerque
Because we hurried so fast through BC (smoke, rain, no cell coverage), we were able to enjoy Spokane for a couple of days before I flew home to Albuquerque. This coming home is home to my Mom’s house… The ultimate coming home.
The weekend was great, the wedding beautiful. Fun to have the whole family (less Mike, a niece, and a nephew) together.
We did take the opportunity to visit a couple and found a retirement home for my folks, not that they are moving soon but good to have some plan in the works. So I’ll post on that some other time.
We had the chance to stop by Livingston to visit Mike’s son, Dan. He had only been living there a few months, and a few month later he moved to Butte. But Dan has worked really hard to make Montana his home, and I can’t say that Mike isn’t a little jealous. Anyhow, as long as he is there, we can get there to visit, and so we did! While there we visited my favorite, Bozeman, and popped down into visit Yellowstone
Home to South Dakota
I’m sure many of you do not realize that we are South Dakota residents. This is because South Dakota is one of the three most favorable states for RVer’s and probably retirees. A lot has been written on this so I won’t go into detail here, but I’ll point you to this article, and the post that I wrote 2 years ago when we became residents. So this was another kind of Coming Home.
But while it takes only one night in South Dakota, (which until this trip was all we had ever spent here, one very cold January night) to become a resident, it take 30 days to get your concealed carry here, which we kind of wanted to do since we have a concealed carry in states that we are not residents of! So we booked 30 days.
We stayed in a park 7 miles West of rapid City, and it had a great community. It’s interesting how each RV park has it’s own personality. This one had a couple of guests that right off the bat organized a potluck for Labor day. Everyone in the park came and it was a lot of fun.
We were surprised how much we enjoyed South Dakota; the Black Hills, Rapid City, Spearfish, Sturgis, Deadwood, Mt Rushmore and Crazy horse. The weather was beautiful. Mike found a chiropractor he loved there. Aside from the fact there was no Costco, and we are not sure about the skiing, Rapid City could be a contender for the permanent home.
Playing with my new lens
While in Alaska, getting to know my new camera equipment, I decided I “needed” a super telephoto lens. Mike bought me a 600 mm lens. One thing I enjoyed in South Dakota was putting this lens to the test at Crazy Horse Mountain and at Mount Rushmore.
I had been to Crazy Horse Mountain before, and frankly it has changed surprisingly little in the last 20+ years. We pulled off the road about 2 miles away. Here was the view with my regular lens (18mm).
From the same spot, here is the photo from the 600mm lens.
I did the same experiment with Mt. Rushmore, from the Iron Mountain Road (my favorite road near Rushmore). This spot I remembered as one of the furthest spots to view the carving is 4.3 miles away.
Otherwise, we had a really nice day out and stayed around for the lighting ceremony in the evening… Turned out it was 911.. not planned, but fortunate, a respectful place to be introspective on a somber day.
Alas when it came time to leave Rapid City, we figured out that we had spent 30 days in South Dakota, but in the WRONG COUNTY. No concealed carry for us. Well, we will gladly go back another year.
Home to Ogden
Next it was Mike’s turn to go home.. Going home to Ogden where he was born and lived the first 38 years of his life. He realized his parents have been in the same house for the past 50 years this year, so this to him really is going home.
And this time, his son had recently bought a home that we can park the RV at. It is delightful to have your own guestroom, your own bed, and just pop in next door in the morning to say hi to the grandchildren! Carla (daughter-in-law) even threw an open house to get the family all together for an afternoon. That is so great!
Josh, it turns out, had to be out of town for work most of the week we were there, but between Mike’s parents, sisters, other son, daughter, her 6 kids… there was plenty to do.
When we left after one week, it occurred to me that we are living in the RV so that we can be where we want and when we want. I do not know why we only spent a week in Ogden and in Albuquerque, when that is where our hearts live, not with the place, but with the people. We will have to plan to spend longer
This is not home. Mike and I had never been there, at least since we could remember. This was a beautiful side trip. We took a week, half in Bryce and half in Zion. Bryce was COLD and showed on us and froze the pipes.
We drove through Zion in the RV and didn’t realize that meant you had to get an escort through the tunnel because it is not tall enough for an RV without driving smack in the center of the tunnel. There were also LOTS of switchbacks through Zion that were narrow and steep.. Mike drove though like a champ. It felt like an adventure in itself. We did a lot of touring and a little hiking in both parks, after work each day.
Hate to say it, but this is starting to feel like home. We have been trying to get back twice a year to do more training at Frontsight Firearms Institute. So as unlikely as it seems of a place to hang out… We were going home to Pahrump.
Technically, Mike dropped me at the airport in Vegas on HIS way to Pahrump, I spent the month “going home” to Switzerland (which isn’t that far of a stretch since I lived there for a year as a kid). See that post on the other blog.
We tried a different park this time (Wine Ridge RV Resort and Cottages) and really enjoyed the spirit at this park too.
For the second year in a row we managed to attend the stock trading conference in Vegas. We left the RV in Pahrump and used a timeshare for a week in a condo on the strip.
Our focus last year was to find a new mentor, one that would help us break the psychological barriers we both struggle with in trading. This year we narrowed the search and settled on one guy, Adrian Manz. We decided to sign on with him, and are now studying up for a bootcamp we will attend in May. More on THAT later too.
After the conference, we had just enough time to head back up to Pahrump, pick up the RV and end up going home to Albuquerque for Thanksgiving. Although still a month in 2018 to go, the “year of Alaska” had come to a close. We were home!