Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 6

Day 6 Saturday 12/09/2017.

Got up real late from my first night of undisturbed sleep.   Took the dogs out and discovered a flat tire on the trailer. It was the last of the factory supplied tires. Not having a plan, I decided to brush my teeth and my stringy gray hair.   No restaurant or convenience store closer than a mile and I was desperate for coffee.
I started Spike when I started walking the dogs so he was warmed up and ready to go after I finished brushing. I had decided to limp into town and find someone who would change the tire. I have the stuff to do it but not the will to do it. Kneeling in the snow to jack the trailer up and change the tire is more than I was up to this morning.  It was just as well as the Fountain Tire Goodyear dealer discovered that the spare was flat due to a split in the rim.  I was screwed no matter what, on my own.
It turns out that 6 lug 15 inch rims are very rare. If they are so hard to find why did the trailer builder use the damned things?   Luckily one of the management people decided to look in their dead stock and found a chromed aluminum rim of the correct configuration.  They had no steel rims and couldn’t find any in town..  One tire, one rim and 2 1/2 hours later I was again on the road after drinking six cups (very small) of their coffee.
Took a wrong turn out of Dawson Creek and drove 15 miles out of the way.  Ended up in Grand Prairie anyway.  Lost about 20 minutes of my life going the long way. At least, I wasn’t going toward Alaska. Drove almost 4 hours to that racist city of Whitesport.  There I filled up the fuel tank and the DEF tank at an ESSO convenience store before moving to a very large truck parking lot next door.
Made a vodka-seven, fed the dogs, walked the dogs and, finally made myself a roast beef/Frito sandwich.  No matter how disgusting a sandwich might be the placing of his Fritos inside it will make it, at the very least, palatable.   The roast beef was very good, I just wanted some crunch.
Two vodkas and I’m calling it. Going to the C store restroom to brush my teeth and go to bed.  It’s only 8:30 but I am tired and I intend to get an early start tomorrow.  I need to do 600 miles tomorrow just to get back on schedule. It will be wonderful to get back on US highways. These Canadian highways are barely marked. At night you could be driving on the shoulder of the oncoming lane and he not know it.  No matter how screwed up you think American roads are they are only 10% as screwed up as Canadian roads.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 5

Day 5 Friday 12/08/2017.

I am ashamed to say that I forgot what happened yesterday afternoon 76 years ago.  While I was picking my way through the Canadian Rockies yesterday, 3000 of our brothers in arms died 76 years ago. Yep. Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. “A day that will live in infamy” except that it is largely ignored these days.  Like we remember the Twin Towers, our parents, grandparent and great grandparents remember where they were on that day.  Instead of nuking Iran, iraq and Afghanistan, the Progressive buffoon, George Bush, decided to engage in a land war that killed more Americans than the destruction of the Twin Towers.  3 nukes and there would be no Taliban, al Queda or anyone else that would ever do that again.  Instead we’re bogged down in a war of attrition as bad or worse than Vietnam in many ways. I was a peripheral participant in that stupidity as I was in the Navy.   Like Vietnam we never brought the full force of the American military to bear.  Anyway, all of you need to thank your lucky stars that there were real men back in 1941-1946 instead of these whiny, pantywaist millennials.
Left the Liard River Lodge at about 6:30 AM and finished my trek across the Canadian Rockies, mostly in the dark.  Because I don’t see well in the dark I crept along at 35-40 mph until daylight at about 9:00.  My only complaint about getting old is that my eyesight is so damn bad.
The food at the Liard RL was very good and the rooms were very modern and clean. They, however, weren’t cheap.  The potato salad was far better than mine. The mushroom soup was a little different.  They left the woody stems on and they weren’t cooked tender. The soup was tasty but the stems had to be spit out.  I ate everything but the stems.
Went out to start the truck and put some of my gear back into the truck at 6:00. AM.       The temp was 9 degrees. After gathering up the dogs and the balance of our possessions we left for Watson Creek. The oddest thing all day was the varying temperature.  At one place it was zero and 30 minutes later down the road it was 45.  The highest temp all day was 49.  It kept fluctuating like that all day.  It was one of the top ten weirdest things I have ever seen.  When I arrived, after dark in Dawson Creek, it was 42 degrees.  The young lady who checked me in at the RV park cautioned me to be careful because a lot of the snow had melted over the last several days and was now 2 inches of ice on the walkways.  I walked across it to get to the office.  I guess people assume that gray hair means STUPID.
Sleeping on a mattress in the cargo trailer has not been a problem at all except when the little propane heater failed and the dog water became ice.  I got a new propane heater and the three of us are snug as a bug in a rug.  Right now both dogs have been fed, walked and are sound asleep.  I’m about to get my second shower in as many days.
This trek across Canada with only Suzy and Gandy as companions has been very nice so far. Of course, we’ve had some minor difficulties.  Mostly things
have gone smoothly except that it keeps getting dark before I get to my daily goal/destination.
More than one person has remarked that I must be a fool to drive the 4600 miles from Homer, Alaska to Live Oak, Florida by myself. They, apparently, do not recognize the fact that God takes care of fools and children.  I’m in good hands and I don’t mean Allstate.
Before Connie became ill we did things.  After she became ill we did almost nothing except go out to eat and then even that became impossible.  An active mind and body needs some adrenaline input and for nearly ten years I had little or none. I loved my wife and during that almost ten years I was rarely more than twenty minutes away and in the last two years I was by her side or in the next room. The move to Alaska and this solo return trip are cathartic.  Driving on the ice at 60 mph satisfies my need for a little bit of danger. Just knowing that one stupid move might bring death is both scary and exciting.  Not many people my age get to do anything more exciting than go to the mailbox.  I have been blessed with good genetic material. I kicked a 40 somethings ass twice at arm wrestling at the Thanksgiving dinner Summer and I attended.  I’m really strong but then again odor isn’t everything.
Because the RV park I’m camped at tonight is not close to anything my dinner consisted of Fritos, Nacho cheese and roast beef sandwich slices as I had no bread. I got enough to eat.
Tomorrow I intend to be in Edmonton as the truck needs to be serviced and I’ll be getting a late start.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 4

Day 4 Thursday 12/06/2017.

Woke up on Whitehorse after a night of passing cars and someone on a big machine scraping the mud and sand off the parking lot.   All of the noise set off the dogs and Suzy in particular. It was a very long short night. In the AM I fed the dogs and got a package of mock apple strudel. I say mock as there weren’t any apples in it. It seemed more like apple jelly smeared on a on puff pastry. Got a crapass cup of coffee from Starbucks. Neither were very good but they cut the hunger. 

Got on the road at about 8:00 after fueling up Spike.   Made it to Watson Lake before refueling. That was only about 275 miles. Decided to move on to Liard River which put me over 400 miles for the day. Like every other day so far, I’ve been driving in sand and slush at 55-60 mph. Under the sand and slush is an inch or more of ice. This is a wholly different type of driving. You don’t accelerate or stop quickly. I’m fact, you don’t do anything quickly.   Any minor lack of attention puts you in a ditch or over a cliff. I think my knuckles will be permanently white from gripping the steering wheel.   

Stopped at the Liard River Lodge for the night. The RV park was closed so I was forced to check into the hotel. $197.50 Canadian for a room. That included $25 for Suzy and Gandy.  Won’t be stopping here again. Too rich for an old man on SSI.   If I hadn’t needed a shower so badly, I’d have just gone back to the trailer and gone to bed.  So in reality I paid $197.50 to just to take a hot shower. Not the best use of my money. Had intended to buy some baby shampoo and wash both dogs but I forgot while I was in Walmart. I did remember cheap razors to shave my wooly face. I look a bit less like a bum or a serial killer now that I have shaved. 

For dinner I had a homemade cream of mushroom soup and a bowl of potato salad. I know it’s a weird combo. The potato salad was better than mine which is almost unbelievable. The soup while it tasted great was kind of weird.  They left the stems on the mushrooms. The stems are always kind of woody so I had to remove the stems before I could eat the caps. Aside from that the soup was excellent.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 3

Day 3.   Wednesday 12/06/2017.

Meant to leave Tok, AK at about 7:00. But the little propane heater quit during the night and I spent most of an hour trying to get it restarted.  I gave up and threw some extra covers on my bed. Alarm went off at 6:00 but I just couldn’t force myself out of the warm bed.  I got up at 7:00, fed the dogs and warmed up the truck. Since I was parked behind a convenience store I fueled up got a sausage egg biscuit.  Pulled out of Tok at about 8:20 on my way to Whitehorse.    Got to the border and found that the Canadian Customs was 20 miles into Canada. When I got to the Customs stop, I got everything but a cavity search. A scruffy old man with two dogs pulled off to the side where they went through every nook and cranny of the truck and opened every trash bag full of clothing, took the vacuum cleaner apart and went through every tool box and bag.  While they were wasting my time and theirs, I figured out that they were training the new guy. Just the old Steele luck kicking in again. Stopped for fuel again at Destruction Bay. Wondered about the name but no one knew.  I made 219 miles in spite of the dogs and I having to stop 3-4 times.   Hung around for about twenty minutes or so pumping the fuel and walking the dogs again.  Made it to Whitehorse at about 5:30.   Me and my travel companions drove through blinding snow for about an hour. Sometimes you couldn’t see the road.  Fortunately about every 100 yards they had posts on either side with reflective tape on them. All I had to do was stay between them and find the next set. They didn’t know the difference but I was seriously concerned. In 270 miles up to then I had seen only 7 cars and three Semis.  Going off the road there was going to mean a long wait for help.  There could have been a house 150 feet off the road and you wouldn’t have seen it. Let me change concerned to scared. At that elevation the temp was 30 degrees.   As went went off the mountain and got to lower ground the temp went up to 36 and it was 42 when we rolled into Whitehorse.
Parked in the Walmart lot and went into get a new heater. They were out but recommended the place next Canadian something or other. They had it and I bought it.   We’d sleep comfortable tonight.
After feeding the dogs, I went to the McDonald’s in the Walmart for dinner and then back to the trailer to end up feeding most of the chicken to the dogs.
Hit the sack at about 11:00 after using bottled water while brushing the nasty taste of McDonald’s out of my mouth and walking the dogs.
Will try to make the 404 miles to Liard River, BC tomorrow.

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Day 2

Day 2

The 6:00 o’clock alarm that I had set jangled me awake but like a punchy boxer I couldn’t answer the bell.  I awoke again at 7:00.   This is where I got into such a hurry , I left my MacBook and the charger.
Got out of Anchorage as quickly as possible.  Out on Alaska 1 the scenery was fantastic. I wish I could have seen more of it but iced sold roads prevented my gawking.  Later I was driving 55-60 on an inch of ice covered with fresh powder that was falling at a prodigious rate. There were times that I couldn’t see more than a couple of hundred feet.   Not a white out but close enough for me.
Got to The Hub, a Tesoro convenience store, just after 1:00, refueled and walked the dogs.  At The Hub you go right to Valdez or left to Tok. The road to Tok is called the Tok Cutoff.  It should be referred to as The Tok Shock Absorber Testing Lab.  There are so many bumps and ice heaves that go from a gentle 4 inches to near a foot deep that it is more like a roller coaster than a road.  Aside from the ice on the road the max speed in some of the areas is about 20 mph.  It is 124 miles of torture road for whatever you happen to be driving.  It took 3 hours to cover those 124 miles.
I pulled into a Chevron convenience store after dark and asked about an open RV park. There was only one and it was closed for the season. They probably have a condo in Florida.  After talking for a bit she said her husband would not mind if I parked out back for the night.
Suzy, Gandy and I parked the rig out back and they wanted to out.    I let them do their business and put them back into the warm truck.  I went into the trailer and made up our bed on the floor and lighted the propane heater.  After that I put the dogs in the trailer and fed them. The heater had it pretty toasty in a matter of minutes.   I ate expensive, disgusting road food and the resorted to a couple of vodkas to get the taste of greasy chicken out of my mouth.
Made 319 miles today. Not the 400 I had planned but pretty good in snow, ice and atrocious roads…

Bob’s Version: Florida Bound Days 1 & 2

Suzy and Gandy’s Big Adventure Days 1 & 2

Monday 12/04/2017.  Tuesday 12/05/2017.

Summer and I are preparing to go to Florida. The coffee drinking and news reading was done very quickly. It is problematic to try to think of everything you might need.
The reason for the trip is to prepared one of our house purchases to either rent out or sell. I’m trying to think of every tool I might need. In the end  I just loaded up most everything.  Loading is easier than thinking.
Summer, on the other hand is packing and repacking her carry on and her checked bag.  Between spates of angst about what she had packed she loaded all of the other excess stuff that she might need into the trailer. Her angst is stemming from having to fly, which she does with either 3 vodkas or a Valium to get her past the gate.
After loading bags and dogs into the truck, we hitched up the cargo trailer and left for Anchorage.  We at our destination, the airport Microtel about 6:00. Way too early for her to go to the airport for her 12:35 AM flight.   Since we were both hungry we went to the McDonalds. Summer’s Big Mac was a big disappointment.  I had two McChickens and a small fry.   Ate Only are one because.  Well you get the drift.
10:00 o’clock came around while we were watching the news. We gathered up the dogs and Summer’s stuff and left for the airport where Summer put Taco in his carry bag.  He was not a happy camper. I hugged Summer and she went inside. The remaining two dogs, Suzy and Gandy went with me.
Back at the hotel, the dogs had their final outing of the night and I hooked up the trailer?   I took a shower which made me itch like crazy.
I got to sleep about 1:30 AM because between itching and Gandy keeping me up with his whining and pacing. He was missing his Momma and his buddy, Taco.   Finally, he went to sleep and I did the same.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

The last few days we have been preparing for the trip back to Florida to close up some loose ends. Dad and I have been working the whole week to prepare the house before leaving.  Luckily, My wonderful neighbors are checking on my place daily.

I decided to fly back on the red eye in Anchorage and Dad wanted to drive back with Gandie and Suzy.  Me and Taco flew Alaska Airlines.  Which by the way, is the best airlines I have ever flown.  If you are going to fly in strong winds, snow, ice, etc. they are your airlines.  I sprung a little extra for a premium seat which means I get more leg room and I get to board the plane sooner, right after first class and military.  Not only do I get those perks, but I get free alcohol to drink!  For someone who hasn’t flown on an airplane since 2005 and extremely nervous a vodka ginger or two made a real difference from starting off thinking we are all going to die a cold, snowy, fiery death to calm laughing and enjoying my airbus ride with a nice older gentlemen that kept my mind off of dying.  Inflight snack was a cute little box of organic goodies that consists of a fig cake, gummy bears, almonds.  Of course, I swallowed it down with a few vodka gingers.  I was feeling good about flying at this point.  This entire time Taco was sitting in my lap sleeping.  He was very nervous and wouldn’t drink water or eat a treat but stayed calm the whole way.

When we landed in Portland, Taco walked off the plane like a pro.  We walked to the dog restroom to see if he needed to go.  No go.  He smelled all the dogs that peed there and he just couldn’t do it.  I felt so bad for him.  So, we walked to our next gate and hung out the 50 minutes until we were able to board.  We boarded and took our seat.  Still having a bit of a buzz, I was ready for the next leg of the flight.  This time I was able to order food.  First I got my little box of organic snacks and a double vodka.  Then a bit later food was served and I ordered the cheese and fruit platter.  It was really good!  I ate every bit of it. Still, Taco wouldn’t eat even when offering him some apple and cheese.  Two things he would normally eat in a heartbeat.

Bathroom breaks on an airplane with Taco are interesting.  If you could picture it, I am holding Taco like a baby being burped and walking to the head.  So, then I have to put Taco down in this tiny coffin sized room just to go potty.  Then, flush (which scares Taco), wash hands, pick up Taco and walk back to our seat, get comfortable and seat belt.  All this time my phone isn’t updating due to the fact that I have no service.  I have no idea where we were and how much longer.  The men that I was sandwiched in the middle of didn’t want to be bothered so I felt that I was trapped by the unknown.  So I finished my drink and tried to take a nap.  Just about that time we started our decent into Orlando.  Thank God!

What I am guessing is about 45 minutes before we landed.  Then, touchdown!  I text my beat friend Tammy and she told me to text her when I get my luggage.  So, I hight tail it to the tram, get on, get off, and race down the escalator to the baggage claim.  About 5 minutes later luggage is starting coming out in the conveyor belt.  I see mine and run and get it.  Then I text Tammy and she is on her way from the cell lot.  Taco and I jump into the vehicle with the help of Tammy and we were off to Suwannee County!

Taco was still freaked out and took a well needed calm nap in the back seat and I was slowly fading.  My body was aching from all the stress of flying and sitting for so long.  It was so nice to get back to the hood.  Taco just was happy to be free from a leash and me.  He was able to run around and finally go to the bathroom.  It was like he had to pee forever.  When we finally went inside he was just a little shell of himself.  He wouldn’t eat anything and just wanting to sleep.  A little later we went to our friend Jan’s house to see the gang.  It was so great to see everyone!

We got back to the house and I laid in bed watching a show on my iPad and I was falling asleep dropping the iPad on my chest.  It was 9:30 pm Florida time.  I was sleeping good when I received a phone call that woke me up too abruptly.  I was disoriented and didn’t know where I was and what time it could be.  I had an older washing machine for free on Craigslist and it was a woman calling about it.  I’m still on Alaska time but hadn’t slept for 24 hours so I could’t speak or think.  I told here to text me her name and I would get back with her when I woke up on Florida time.  I was so disoriented that threw the covers and pillows off the bed trying to figure out where I was.  Now after the fact it’s pretty funny.

Yesterday, Tammy and I went to town to run some errands.  I needed to go to Walmart for some things, we ate blacked fish tacos at Beef o Brady’s then to the liquor store, and last Publix.  I forgot how inexpensive food is here I looked like a tourist in my old town.  As we marked things off our list it started raining and the temperature went from 77 to 53 by the time we got back to the house.  We got home around 5 pm and took it easy.  Tammy said I brought the weather with me when I left Alaska.  I wasn’t feeling like going to bed since I am still 4 hours behind on Alaska time.  Tammy wanted to stay up with me and so she did.  This morning she is suffering from lack of sleep.  Me on the other had a full nights sleep on my Alaska time schedule.  Went to bed at 2 am Florida/10 pm Alaska and woke up at 12 pm Florida/8 am Alaska.  Tonight I am taking two benedryls and call it a night by 10 pm Florida.  We have a lot to do tomorrow.  We have to go back into town for a few more errands and I need to go by the rental house and check on it.  We want to get it all done in the morning and then prepare for more guests for this weekend.

Tonight we had homemade soup that Tammy made it’s called Tammy’s Take on Pasta Fagioli with kale, zucchini and Italian sausage and lots of garlic bread.  Yummy!

Meanwhile, Dad is working his way down from Alaska on the ALCAN.  He was currently spotted he was spotted last in Watson Lake, Yukon about an hour ago.  He just might make it to British Columbia today.  If you see Dad driving Spike and a 28 foot white empty enclosed trailer,  give him a wave and say hi.  He is slow and steady and should be out of Canada in a few days.

Well, good night everyone.  I will try to do better about posting.