Countdown to Alaska
  (March 2, 2006 to May 27, 2006)

You can click on "photos" to get directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second page (if there is one).

After spending a great nine weeks traveling with our friends Norm and Linda Payne, we parted company in Palm Springs and headed to Mesa, Arizona for a two month stay. We arrived at Val Vista Villages (VVV) on March 2. Occasionally, I have listed campground warnings about some places we've stayed that were less than satisfactory. I want to start this travelog with a short review of one of the nicest campgrounds we have stayed in during our six years on the road and that would be VVV.

VVV is a Cal-Am resort that grew over the years as several surrounding parks were purchased and included in VVV. These parks were referred to as neighborhoods in VVV, and there were four of them: Val Vista Village, Fiesta, Ranchos, Casitas (which is really like a small motel). When we found VVV last September, we stayed on a nice pullthru site in Fiesta and reserved it for our recent two month stay. When we were there in September, RV sites were being constructed in the Ranchos neighborhood. One evening during our recent stay, Diane and I were walking around and went into the Ranchos neighborhood and saw the most magnificent RV sites. These sites were long concrete pullthrus with large brick paver patios, nice table for six, a built in gas grill, a privacy screen between the sites, garbage pickup at the site, and even a mailbox in front of each site. The daily rate in the Ranchos section was $55 per night and that is an outrageous price that we would never pay unless we were stuck and it was the only show in town. However, the monthly rate $550 per month is a great price for the sites. Trust me, you can't touch a site like these in Florida for that price. There were only 27 RV sites in an area where double wide manufactured homes were also being built. I included a couple of photos of the RV site in the photo section. Oh, and did I mention they had FREE WiFi (when it worked).

We liked the sites enough to ask if we could move for our second month. Unfortunately, we were told that there was a $25 fee to switch sites. We had never heard of such a thing in our almost six years on the road, so I asked to speak to the general manager to see if that fee could be waved. We had a meeting with Christina Bamper and she agreed to let us move from Fiesta to Ranchos without incurring what is actually a penalty fee for switching sites. The Fiesta pullthrus cost $460 per month and it was worth it to us to treat ourselves and pay the additional $90 for a month on the great Ranchos sites. It was easy to entertain and have some cookouts, and the look and feel of the sites was great.

Although we still love being fulltimers, it's nice to sit for an extended period every now and then. The two months in Mesa fit the bill perfectly. Once again we were able to see the pros and cons of fulltiming and snowbirding. It has happened before when we were in a park dominated by snowbirds. The excitement they feel as they shut down their park models or get their RVs ready to roll to go home to wherever they are from is very obvious. It seems to be a mix of bittersweet having to say good bye to their winter friends and joy of heading home to family and friends. I'm sure the reverse is true in the fall when they leave their homes and head back to their winter homes and the camaraderie of their winter friends. Even after six years, I still maintain that I think the one thing I miss the most is a regular dose of camaraderie. This winter was special, as it was in the winter of 2001 and the summer of 2003, because we traveled with friends for extended periods of time, especially extended long periods of time with Norm and Linda. I'm sure we will have future extended travels with them as we all want to go back to Newfoundland for a longer time and we all want to go back to Puerto Penasco before they move the campground back from the beach. We would like to spend a month in Puerto Penasco. Those margaritas on the verandah are definitely a big draw.

Diane's sister, Carol, lives in the Phoenix area and they got to see each other a couple of times a week. The new touring Cirque du Soleil show was playing in Scottsdale and, as you all know, we absolutely love Cirque du Soleil. Carol and her family had never seen a Cirque show and we got to share that experience with them. They all loved the show and were awed at some of the acts. Diane and Carol had a sisters weekend away when they went to Tucson for a couple of days. They spent an entire day touring the area and visited Kartchner Caverns State Park, Tombstone, and a mission. That made Kevin and I bachelors for the weekend.

The LPGA Tour had a tournament going on in Gold Canyon, the Safeway International Tournament. Safeway was offering two tickets for the price of one, so we got tickets for the Thursday round. The tournament was held in the Superstition Mountain community within  view of the mountain. The beautiful golf course wound its way around and between multi-million dollar houses, probably just winter homes for the super rich. We got to see most of the golfers we wanted to see, including Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, Grace Park, Julie Inkster (who won the tournament), and Grace Park. Those ladies can sure hit the ball a long way. It was fun watching them. It helped that it was a beautiful day, whereas the final day on Sunday was cold and wet.

For the most part, we just hung around and did what we would do if we lived in a house. We saw lots of movies, visited with Carol and her family, I played a round of golf, we did a little touring. Norm and Linda came into Mesa for a few weeks, but were in another park. We got to visit with them often and drove up to Fountain Hills to see the worlds highest fountain and then over to Saguaro Lake.

One of the places we didn't know about during our 2001 trip out west was the Organ Stop Pizza. It's a restaurant located in Mesa and it's primary attraction is it being the home of the largest Wurlitzer pipe organ in the world. The organ is powered by three turbine blowers and has more than 5,500 pipes. They have several people who play the organ for diners. We went there twice while we were in Mesa and both organ players were fantastic. They had huge repertoires and played magnificent medleys of famous plays and motion pictures, such as "Sound of Music", "West Side Story", and a great "Phantom of the Opera" medley. My photos don't do the organ justice. You can get a better photo of the organ on the Organ Stop website.

We got to visit with some other folks who came into the area, including Rich Gorin, who we visited in San Diego, and his partner, Bruce, who lives in Phoenix.

Some folks that know the Paynes came into town and contacted us and we met them for lunch one day. It was nice to meet Bill Joyce and Diane Melde and we hope to see them on the road along the way.

One of our favorite things to do is to spend Sunday morning at a Starbucks to nurse a coffee or tea and read the papers or a book. Unfortunately, the nearest Starbucks only had two of the nice comfortable chairs and there was too much competition for them. However, there was a Borders in the Superstition Mall and that was a great place to go as it had lots of comfortable seats. The cappuccino wasn't as good as Starbucks, but I'd rather have the comfortable chairs. One Sunday morning, a guy sat next to me as I was reading the Tribune. He pointed out an article which, it turned out, was his. His name was Slim Smith and he was a columnist for the Tribune. I read some other columns that he wrote and enjoyed his writings.

We usually spend the winter in Florida, but decided to spend it in Arizona as it would give us a good place to start our journey to Alaska. As a result, it would be a very long time before visiting with my mother in Florida. So we opted to break the time up with a short visit with her before we headed north. We flew to Florida for a week in March to help my mom with some chores and to try and get her set up with the new Medicare RX plans, the infamous Plan D. What a mess. Not only to find a plan, but also because my mom qualifies for some additional assistance which meant having to also deal with the Social Security folks and that took months to resolve. UGH.

Our two month stay in Mesa came to an end on May 2 when we headed up to Camp Verde for a few days. We stayed there in 2001 and did a lot of touring in the area. If you are interested in more information about that area you can go to the travelog titled "Roaming America". We again stayed at the Verde River Resort, a Western Horizons resort and also a Coast to Coast campground. It's listed as a five star resort, but it really is nothing of the sort. For one, the resort doesn't have 50-amp full hookups on all sites. Many sites are just water and electric. The power is not adequate for many rigs using air conditioners. When we got to our assigned site (#41), we found the power hovering around 105 volts. It was hot and that probably explained why the voltage was low, but it's not a good excuse for a park that doesn't have enough power for all the sites. By evening, the voltage climbed up to around 118-120. But it was a Coast to Coast park and we were there as a member for $8 a night, so it may be hard to complain too much about it. We attended a pitch for membership in the park when we were here in 2001 which turned into a high pressure sales pitch. We would never buy into a park that doesn't have good 50-amp full hookups on all sites.

Norm and Linda arrived on Thursday for the last two days of our stay in Camp Verde. We won't see them again until probably sometime in late fall. We spent one day doing some touring in the area and visited Montezuma's Castle, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, and Sedona, all of which we had visited in 2001. We had lunch in Sedona and drove back to Camp Verde via US 89A looking for a boondocking spot that someone told  Norm was along that road. It turned out that the free BLM boondocking spot was actually off of Route 260 between Cottonwood and Camp Verde (on Thousand Trails Road). I put some photos on the website for this travelog, but if you would like to read more about the Sedona area you can look an earlier travelog titled "Roaming America".

One day while I was walking in the campground I spotted what I knew was a Hymermobil, a German Class A motorhome. The lady, Jenny, was outside so I stopped to talk about her motorhome. It turned out they were from Holland but retired to a home in Portugal. They purchased the 7-meter (about 22 feet) Hymer and had it shipped to Baltimore. They were touring the US and Canada over the summer months. I asked if I could get my camera to take a couple of photos and she said it was okay to do that. When I returned, her husband Hermen was outside and we chatted for a while as I took some photos. He explained the workings of what we would consider a small motorhome. One of the interesting things is that electricity in Europe is 220 volts, not the 120 we are used to in the USA. When we went to Europe we needed a device to change the voltage to 120. They had the opposite situation and had a device to step the voltage up to 220. Diane came over and we all chatted for a while. Nice folks and we hope we bump into them again along the way.

We had planned our next stop to be in Bryce Canyon, but we decided to spend a few days in Page so we could check out the Lake Powell area. It was a very interesting day. The drive up US 89 was fantastic and we stopped several times for photo ops of the rig against the red rocks.  We parked at the new Super Wal-Mart in town.  A Newell that we saw a few times during our ride up to Page was already in the lot and I chatted with the guy for a few minutes.  He was going to a Newell rally in Zion National Park and got separated from four other Newells. Diane and I disconnected the CR-V and drove over to the Wahweap National Recreation Area to check out the campground.  Although the sites were big and paved and nice, they were pricey at $33.61 a night. They did have a dry camping loop for $19 per night, or $9.50 for those of us lucky enough to have the Golden Age Pass.  However, we drove through that loop and it was pretty much full of tents and popups and most sites wouldn't hold a 40' motorhome.

We drove around the other three full hookup loops and noted some prime sites with great views of Lake Powell down below and then went back to the office and made a reservation for the next two nights.  When we got back there the other Newells showed up.  They asked about a place to boondock and I heard the guy mention a place on public land about five miles north of the north entrance to Wahweap. The Newells all left and ended up parking in the lot for the boat launch, even though the sign said it was parking for only ATTACHED trailers for up to 14 days. That's for folks who are out on the lake in a boat and leave their vehicle and trailer. We went looking for that other place. We drove up to check it out and it was actually the Glen Canyon National Park with lots of camping space right down along the lake. A dump station and fresh potable water was available. We did drive down to the lake to see how rigs got down there and we took the wrong way down and it was very sandy.  We missed the turn that was mostly dirt and light sand.  There was a Kountry Star parked down there so we stopped to chat for a while and he told me how to get the motorhome down there without going through the sand..

The cost was $8 per night. For me with my great new Golden Age National Park Pass, $4. I find it's really nice being 62. I started getting social security checks in January and got my Golden Age pass in February. Now if only I can stay 62. Diane wanted to shop in the Wal-Mart and it was already almost 5 pm, so we decided to stay there for the night and go boondock along the lake the next two nights. So we went from a possible $100.83 for three nights of full hookups to three nights of boondocking for a total of $8.

The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area was established in 1972. The dam backs up water in the Colorado River for 186 miles to form Lake Powell. The lake provides more than one million acres of desert and canyon country for leisure time activities. It was Major John Wesley Powell who explored the Colorado River and named this stretch of the river Glen Canyon.

The Glen Canyon Dam was between where we were parked and Page. Before the dam could be constructed a bridge had to be built across the canyon. The Glen Canyon Bridge was built between 1957 and 1959 and stands 700 feet above the river. Construction of the dam began in 1957 and was completed in 1964. It stands 710 feet, which is only 16 feet shorter than the Hoover Dam down river. Power from the dam is sold to approximately 1.7 million people in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, and California. The city of Page was a result of the dam and bridge construction. It started as a construction camp in 1957 for the thousands of people who worked on the projects. Today, the city of Page has a population of approximately 8,500 residents and thrives as a tourist destination for people who come from around the world to enjoy Lake Powell.

One very interesting fact about Lake Powell is that it took 17 years for the lake to fill. The lake started to fill on March 13, 1963 when the diversion tunnel gates were closed. The lake continued to fill until 1980 when it filled to capacity. The visitor center at the dam had interesting displays, as well as three very good 20 minute movies. We took one of the tours of the dam and recommend a tour to everyone visiting a dam site. We enjoyed our two days along Lake Powell and vowed to come back again for a longer stay.

While we were in Page we got a call from Fran and Karl Winckel who were in Zion Canyon and heading to Bryce Canyon. We were getting ready to head up to Delta for a stay in our Coast to Coast home park, Antelope Valley RV Park. Our route would take us pretty close to Bryce so we decided to spend a couple of days there before heading to Delta. Besides, we both loved Bryce Canyon and were blown away by its beauty when we were there in 2001. We hadn't seen the Winckels since we hooked up in Atlanta in November 2005 and it was nice to see them again. We went to see the hoodoos, went out to eat a couple of times, and hiked the Navajo Loop Trail. Fran and Karl were into geocaching, which we had never done, so we went along on an easy geocaching expedition and found the cache. It was fun. We made plans to travel up to Great Falls, Montana together after they had some warranty work completed on a faulty jack. They would head to the Camping World in the Salt Lake City area and we headed to Delta. I included a few photos of Bryce Canyon, but not nearly as many as I put up in the travelog for our stay there in 2001.
If you would like to see more photos of Bryce Canyon you can look at an earlier travelog titled "Blown Away".

Our plan was to spend a week at the Antelope Valley RV Park as it was the first chance we had to visit our Coast to Coast home park. When we were making our plans to hit the road full time we decided on an RV park in Oklahoma, but it went out of business leaving us, and lots of fulltiming colleagues, without a home park. Someone found Antelope Valley in Delta, Utah, owned by Vince and Karen Lopez, that would take all of us in as "orphans", that is, we wouldn't have to pay another membership fee, only the annual dues. They are always available to service the membership and have the best prices in the country. Plus a great park. They also have RPI and AOR memberships available. Give them a call at 1-800-430-0022 or email them at Please tell them you saw this link on the Roaming America website when you contact them and tell them Rich and Diane Emond sent you.

We had planned on staying a week, but stayed five days because we wanted to hook up with Fran and Karl in the Salt Lake City area. They got the work completed on their jack and moved over to the Cabela's in Lehi. When we arrived, their rig was already there, but they were out hiking. We love staying at Cabela's stores around the country. They are great to walk around and shop and we never get tired of seeing the stuffed animal displays. Fran and Karl spoke to someone in guest services who said it would be fine to spend a few days in their parking lot. We were in the Salt Lake City area last May as we made our way out to Oregon and loved it. Once again the mountains surrounding the area were snowcapped and beautiful. There was more snow on the mountains this year.
If you would like to read more about some of the things we did during our last visit to the Salt Lake City area, such as Provo Canyon, Temple Square, Heber City, you can go to the travelog titled "Star Wars"

One of the reasons we wanted to stop here on our way north was to catch up on some movies and to see The DaVinci Code when it opened on May 19. Our timing was perfect because it opened at the same time we were passing through the area. We also wanted to see Mission Impossible 3 and Poseidon. It was also nice to finally be traveling with someone who plays golf and Karl and I played a round. Naturally, we ate out together just about every day.

There were several hang gliders and paragliders that we could see off in the distance. One evening we drove around to see if we could find the spot from which they took off and landed. After driving around for a while we came across someone who told us where we could see these flyers up close. It was in Hang Glider Park to the east of I-15 and up the hill at the end of a housing area. We were too late to see them take off, but we saw several folks come in for a landing. Pretty cool. Diane and I have each been in a glider, or sailplane, but neither of us had any inclination to be up in a hang glider or paraglider.

MAY 19 - Today was our sixth anniversary of life on the road as fulltime RVers. It's hard to believe six years have gone by since that day in 2000 when we picked up our new home at the Newmar factory in Nappanee, Indiana. People are amazed when we tell them we've lived in the motorhome for six years, but we know folks who have spent much longer as fulltimers, 10 years, 15 years, and some more than 20 years. People ask us when we'll come off the road and the answer has always been that we don't know and have no end in sight. We'll come off the road when one or both of us says it's time. I expect that someday we'll reach that point and decide to go off the road, but we have no idea where that would be or whether we would live in a "stick house" again, or a park model, or a manufactured home, or whether we would switch from fulltiming to being snowbirds. As of now, we do have two places in our heads as potential places where we could settle down and both would involve keeping an RV.

I have written several times about Fairfield Glade, Tennessee where we have stayed on a time share exchange. We love the Cumberland Plateau and the surrounding area. Living there would make us snowbirds because there is no way we ever intend to live in any area where there is cold and snow, regardless of whether there wasn't a lot of snow. We would have to be able to head south for the winter.
The other place is the Phoenix area. We have done extended stays in Mesa in 2001 and this past winter and like the area. Of course, the problem there is that the summers are brutal and we would have to be able to keep an RV to escape to the north during the summer. Who knows. We may find other places to add to the list over the next few years and then we'll really be confused as to where to settle down. But it sure will be fun to have several places to choose from.

When we were in Camp Verde with Norm and Linda, I asked Norm if he could hook up his Silverleaf monitor to the computer in our Dutch Star to get some readings. For the 72 months that we have been on the road, we have:

* driven 63,147.6 miles;

* used 7,920.5 gallons of diesel fuel for an average of about 7.97 mpg;

* put 1,309.9 hours on the Cummins engine.

I was curious about costs, so I ran some Quicken reports. I include the results here for RV wannabes who follow our travels and as data that may be interesting to veteran fulltimers. Over the last six years, we averaged:

*  $1.89 per gallon and $208.35 per month for diesel fuel.

*  $358 per month for campground fees. We were pretty happy with that number given that we always wanted to try and keep our campground costs to around $400 per month.

This exercise prompted Norm to run some data from his spreadsheets and the results were really amazing. He found that they have averaged $359 per month for campground costs for the almost seven years they have been fulltiming.

Having gotten caught up on movies it was time to continue our move up to the Canadian border. So we cranked up the engines and headed up I-15 with Butte, Montana as our next planned stay. We drove about half way the first day and parked the rigs at a Wal-Mart in Idaho Falls. Fran had suggested that we might like a meal at a Chuck-a-Rama restaurant. It's a buffet type place and we enjoyed the meal. Of course, the downside to buffets is that you can eat all you want, which is always too much. But it sure was good.

We arrived in Butte on May 21 and got settled into our sites shortly before John and Roberta Hirth arrived. They were coming in from New York and the three rigs had planned to travel together to Alaska for the summer. Unfortunately, things didn't work out. The Hirths and the Winckels decided to spend a week in the Canadian Rockies before heading up the Alaska Highway. Diane and I had always planned to cross the border no later than end of May given that was the advice we had been given by many Alaska veterans who said the earlier the better. The reasons are at least threefold: first is to avoid as many of the caravans and other travelers who will be heading to Alaska; second is to hopefully avoid some construction along the highway because the later you travel the highway the more construction projects that may be encountered; third is that we plan to spend a lot of time some summer touring the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper) and it wasn't in our plans at this time. Delaying our trip would take away about ten days from our Alaska adventure. So as much as we really wanted to have camaraderie along the way to share experiences, we decided to make the journey by ourselves. Hopefully, we'll see the Hirths and Winckels up in Alaska somewhere along the way.

As we move north through Montana we figured we would stop in Butte, Helena, and Great Falls for short stays. It would be to just scout out the area for a time when we would spend much more time in Montana. What a great state. The drive from Idaho Falls to Butte was fantastic. It's just not possible to drive through the hills and see the snow capped mountains all around you and be amazed at the beauty. It's awesome.

We spent two days at the Fairmont Hot Springs RV Park located between Butte and Anaconda. It was a Passport America park so the rate was half the normal rate. It was an okay park with gravel roads and sites. All three rigs were in pullthru sites. We all went out for a meal to share travel experiences since the last time we were all together in Atlanta six months ago. There was only one day to do something and we opted for different activities. Diane, Fran, and Roberta went into Butte to do a self guided walking tour of the town. Karl and I took the opportunity to play a round of golf at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort course. John stayed home and relaxed and worked on his laptop. It was a short stop in Butte, but it gave us an idea of things to do in the area when we get back to Montana for a much longer visit.

It may seem old to keep saying how beautiful the area is, but the drive up I-15 to Helena through the Helena National Forest was stunning. But what a beautiful ride it was. We got to Helena and parked for two nights at the Elks Lodge in town. John and Karl are members of the Elks Club and we tagged along as guests.

Helena is situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Lewis and Clark came through the area in 1805 and called it "Prickly Pear Valley". Gold was discovered in 1864 and the mining camp of Last Chance Gulch sprung up. The camp developed into the city of Helena. It became the capitol of the territory in 1875 and Montana became a state in 1889.
A battle for the location of the state capitol ensued between Helena and Anaconda, but Helena prevailed.

The drive from Butte was less than two hours so we had time to go into town to do some exploring. We only had about a day and a half to scout out the area and we chose three things we knew we wanted to see: the state capitol, the Cathedral of St. Helena, the mansion district. We all drove to town to the capitol area to see if the tour train was running, but it didn't officially open until Memorial Day Weekend and we were three days too early. We decided to take the city trolley for a loop around the city. While we waited for the next trolley to arrive we walked up to the capitol building and walked around for a few minutes. There was only time to look at some of the paintings and look into the house and senate chambers. They offered a tour of the building so Diane and I made plans to come back to do that the next day. We all got on the city trolley and paid our fifty cents to ride it around the city. The driver was a retired guy from Helena and he knew lots of stuff about the area and gave us an interesting narration as we made our way around the city. Upon returning to the starting place in front of the capitol building, we all drove to the information center to pick up some brochures. Then the Winckels went back to the Elks Lodge while Diane, Roberta, John, and I went to the cathedral.

The story of the cathedral started in 1905 when the site was purchased for $25,000. The cornerstone was laid in 1908 and the exterior of the cathedral was completed in 1913. However, there weren't sufficient funds to complete the interior at that time. A well known local miner and businessman named Thomas Cruse donated $100,000 towards the completion of interior work in memory of his recently deceased daughter. The total cost of the cathedral came to $645,590. If the same structure were built today, it could cost tens of millions of dollars. The cathedral is a geometric Gothic style and follows the lines, in a small scale, of the nineteenth century Votive Church of the Sacred Heart in Vienna, Austria. The stained glass windows are beautiful and were made by a firm in Munich, Germany.

The next day Diane and I went back to the capitol building to take one of the guided tours.
The cornerstone for the capitol building was laid in 1899 and the building was completed in 1902. Between 1909 and 1912, the building was enlarged to accommodate the growing government. We got to walk into the house and senate chambers where our guide explained the origin and meaning of all the paintings. The most impressive painting was the one in the House of Representatives, "Lewis and Clark Meeting the Indians at Ross' Hole", that was painted by Montana artist Charles M. Russell. He was commissioned to create the painting in 1911. The painting is enormous and measures 25' by 12'. He painted it in his log cabin in Great Falls and the canvas was so large that the roof of his studio has to be raised to accommodate the painting. It is considered by modern art critics to be priceless. We plan to visit the C.M. Russell museum complex when we get to Great Falls.

We took a drive out of Helena to Marysville to see the old mining town and then back into Helena for a drive around the mansion district where we saw some beautiful old mansions, some of which were on the historic registry.

Our two days in Helena went by quickly and the three rigs made their way north to Great Falls where there were two places we all wanted to visit: the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and the C.M. Russell museum complex. Plus, Diane and I wanted to see the final two movies we would probably see for many weeks until we got to Fairbanks and Anchorage. The drive north continued to be beautiful as we twisted and turned along I-15 through the mountains. The drive only took a couple of hours, so we arrived in plenty of time to get set up and do some touring. We stayed at Dick's RV Park not too far off the interstate. It was a nice park with long gravel pullthrus. Part of the park had lots of trees and part of the park is open. We, of course, always opt for the open sites so we can use our dish, although they did have cable TV in the event our site line to the satellite would have been blocked.

After setting up, we all drove to the interpretive center where we spent several hours watching two short movies and looking at all the displays. We did several Lewis and Clark Interpretive Centers in 2004 and 2005 and this one in Great Falls is not to be missed for anyone interested in Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery.

We had three days in Great Falls so Diane and I took the middle day to go see the two movies on our list:  "X-Men: The Last Stand" and "Over the Hedge". We enjoyed them both and we will be ready for a movie fix by the time we get to Fairbanks.

Our final stop in Great Falls was the C.M. Russell museum complex. He lived from 1864 to 1926 and was dubbed "America's Cowboy Artist". Russell completed some 4,000 works of art during his lifetime, and the museum owns most of them. We spent a couple of hours admiring the works of this talented artist.

We were now within 122 miles from the Canadian border and ready to begin our Alaskan adventure. We shared a final meal with our friends and then bid Karl, Fran, John, and Roberta farewell with the hope that we might bump into them up in Alaska. So we pointed our Dutch Star north on I-15 towards the border with great expectations for the next few months. Our plan was to drive to the Calgary area the first day and the Edmonton area the second day and arrive in Dawson Creek on May 30. On June 1 we plan to start up the Alaska Highway with no predetermined length of time to drive the roughly 1300 miles to Tok, Alaska. It will take us as long as it takes us. All we know is there are several points along the way we plan to stop for some length of time
in British Columbia and the Yukon to take in the area.

I plan to write the Alaska travelogs the same way I wrote the ones for the Maritimes tour, which is more like a daily journal. I hope to be able to find WiFi connections along the way to put them up on our website at reasonable intervals lest they become too long and unwieldy.

So now the time is here and we're as ready as we can be. We are disappointed that we won't have the camaraderie we desired, but we are still very excited about starting up the Alaska Highway.

Until next time, safe travels.....

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