Sunday, March 25, 2018

Texoma

Oops! I thought I blogged about our trip home from Alaska in August! We chose a different route and came back through British Columbia where we had nothing but low clouds and rain. Our truck broke down near Wenatchee, WA. After 2 tow trucks got us to town we were stranded in the 5th wheel in a shopping center parking lot, next to the Chevy dealer (service was closed for the weekend) for 4 days with temps over 100 and no electricity to run the AC. Rented a car to stay cool and get around. Found a newer truck and for the first time in 3 years had to dip into savings. Other than that, it was uneventful and not nearly as scenic as the trip up the Alaska Highway, partially due to the weather.

We visited family and friends in MN and WI then headed to MO and AR for a Beckwith gathering to celebrate my niece's wedding which was great fun!

Brooke and Patrick

The Beckwith Clan

I accepted an assignment at AllianceHealth in Durant, OK, which is only a few miles from the Texas border (Red River). We spent a few days at the Chocktaw Casino KOA while we looked around for a long-term site. Then a month in a not-so-nice RV park which used to be a KOA but had fallen into disrepair, while we waited for a site to open up at a nicer park right on the river. But before that happened, Rollie got a campground host position at Eisenhower State Park, across the river in Texas. This volunteer position comes with our choice of RV sites in the park, which is located on the south shore of Lake Texoma. We just had to move our little house across the dam on the Red River to the park on Lake Texoma and choose from the largest sites we have ever occupied! 

Lake Texoma from the dam

Entrance to the park

Park Road

Bois d'Arc Campground (pronounced "bo-dark" in this neck of the woods)

Our site

Our site

We are happy we picked a sunny site for the winter as the sun and our little electric space heater kept us warm most of the time. There were a few cold nights when we had to run the furnace to make sure the pipes didn't freeze. We also drained the water hose and ran off our fresh water tank when the temps were predicted to be below freezing overnight. 

We had a pair of roadrunners just outside our door many days and saw deer frequently while walking the dogs. We learned another campground host was feeding the deer corn which was against the state park rules, but it brought the deer into the campground.

Roadrunner outside our door

 


Sunny seemed to enjoy this place and I enjoyed the sunrises and sunsets..





I worked three 12-hour shifts on weekends and Rollie worked weekends maintaining the campgrounds (bathrooms) so we usually had 3 or 4 days off during the week. We made 3 trips south to see more of Texas. Over Thanksgiving we traveled to San Antonio and saw enough to make us realize we would like to see more.

Alamo

Riverwalk

Riverwalk

Riverwalk


And drove to the missions to find all but one were closed on the holiday. Another reason to come back!






We also learned that the Texas Hill Country near San Antonio is another place we should visit for wine tasting and a change of scenery. It was settled by German immigrants in the mid 1800s who were attracted by the promise of free land. Between Christmas and New Years we took a trip to Fredericksburg, TX. We stayed at a KOA that just happened to have longhorn cattle in a field behind the park so we could get up close and personal.

We visited 5 wineries, tasted many wines and purchased several bottles. We visited the LBJ Ranch nearby which is a national historical park and state historic site rolled into one. We ate authentic German food more than once. The tourist information center and museum on the town square recommended a drive in the countryside using their map of old schoolhouses so we headed out. After crossing a cattle guard we ran into a little traffic before we found the first schoolhouse.





My contract was up in early January but they asked me to extend so we had to make a decision. I needed to renew my drivers license in MN and I learned that all of my sons and their girlfriends would be in Minneapolis at the same time near the end of January for pond hockey. We decided to leave the RV at the state park and drive to MN for 10 days. I agreed to come back and work until the middle of March if I could take that time off in January. So that is what we did. We split the 13 hour drive into 2 days but probably could have done it in one long day with 2 drivers. We are very lucky to have a place to stay with Rollie's sister, Ione, in Lakeville, MN. And there was a birthday party for all of us with January birthdays at his other sister's house (Denise). It just happened to be the day the Vikings were supposed to win the right to play in their hometown Super Bowl. The game was not the highlight of the party!  But the next day it snowed 14 inches. We got to experience winter again!

Michael and Megan invited us to go to Lake Harriet to see the MCAD Ice Shanties. It is difficult to describe so here is the website:  https://mcad.edu/features/mcad-art-shanties-2018. I think that was the first time I walked on a frozen lake but it was covered with snow so it was not obvious it was a lake. When Peter and Hannah arrived we walked the Mall of America and Ikea as well as eating sushi. When Alex and Laura arrived we all gathered at Megan's house for a belated holiday pizza party which turned into a hockey jersey designing party and bonfire at Michael's house.


Let's play hockey! http://www.uspondhockey.com/

There was plenty of time for breakfast on Saturday as the hockey tournament had been delayed by warmer than normal weather which made the ice too soft. A cold front was a welcome event! Alex and Michael have organized a pond hockey team for the last few years which includes friends from Northfield and friends-of-friends. This is a big tournament on a frozen lake and this time, because the snow had been cleared, we were walking on clear ice and could see down into the lake. A little scarey!



Our team mascot was JH Giraffe who was owned by my mother in her last years. He was a big hit at the nursing home and has been on many adventures. You may have noticed him at the wedding above. He keeps my mother's spirit alive. We won the first game then lost 2 on Sunday but a good time was had by all.





To celebrate Michael's birthday we attended a U of M Gopher hockey game against Notre Dame.


After returning to Texoma and getting back to work we made one more trip to another German town: New Braunfels. Bill and Kelly, RV friends we met in Seward, AK, were in this small Texas town on business so we drove down for a couple days to meet up. We had a good visit and ate authentic German food one more time. 


On our way back from this trip, the motor that powers our slide-out on the RV went out (it is 3.5 feet deep and 12 feet wide so greatly increases our living area) and we lived in a very narrow space for a week while a new motor was ordered in for us. Our extended warranty on  the RV paid for most of it and we are lucky to have chosen an RV that allows us to get through to the bathroom and bedroom even when the slide is in. Some do not. The dogs did not like it but they got use to it.


Spring has sprung in Texoma as we leave for our next adventure. Redbuds all around us in the park. Bluebirds singing in the trees. On the road again...


More photos at:  https://photos.app.goo.gl/emfbdCcP2Vg2iEjv2 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Denali, Healy and area.


Denali RV Park and Motel
In December we accepted summer positions at Denali RV Park and Motel in Healy, AK, just 8 miles from the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve. Our compensation includes our RV site with full hookups and pay for all hours worked. The fact that we were already in Alaska helped us get the job because we could be on location and ready to work in May, before the park officially opened Memorial Day weekend. We had visited Denali NP in 2008 while living in Fairbanks so were familiar with the area. More photos from that visit can be seen at:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/vDOOXfbhbqN9Komn1
Barbara and Peggy

My sister, Barbara, and her friend, Peggy, were visiting when we made the move from Soldotna to Healy which was a 400 mile drive which takes 7-8 hours pulling the RV. After getting settled in we wanted to explore the national park. We were able to drive 30 miles into the park because we arrived before the summer season, when cars are only allowed 15 miles into the park. After Memorial Day weekend, bus trips are available to go the length of the park road (70 miles) which reduces the traffic, noise, exhaust and human intervention in this huge wildlife preserve. We saw moose, caribou, one bear, and lots of ptarmigan changing from winter to summer plumage. 
Moose
Brown bear who was more surprised than we were!


Ptarmigan
Denali

 It was good to see my sister and the three of us had a good time!



After they left we had 2 small snows. These photos were taken out our RV door; the snow was gone by 10:00 am. The highs were in the 40s and 50s in May and the lows in the 30s. But with 20 plus hours of sun every day that changed quickly. June saw 60s and 70s with one day that hit 82. Nights were still cool but so short we didn't notice. By the way, we had cardboard in our bedroom windows to keep the night sunlight out! July was warmer with 4 days in the 80s. We had several thunderstorms which I have been told have only happened the last few years in this area.Twice we had 50 mph winds which rocked the RV! On the brighter side, we saw numerous rainbows, one at midnight! There were always beautiful clouds, often below the mountaintops as if we could hike up and touch them.


After training for 2 days to manage the office where Rollie and I were hired to work, I was informed by a coworker that I would be working in housekeeping for the motel. I had been bumped by someone with seniority. This was the first of many things we learned "through the grapevine" instead of from the manager/owner himself. This made for an interesting summer! I ended up doing the motel laundry 3-4 mornings per week, 3-5 hours per day. Rollie worked in the office 5 evenings from 4-10. We did have 2 days off together but every 2 weeks we drove the 2 hours to Fairbanks for fun and groceries. I did some hiking in the national park when Rollie was working, just the easy trails near the visitor center. My favorite was the trail to Horseshoe Lake where there was a family of beavers to watch.



There were trails from the RV park out into the surrounding area that we explored on our dog walks. Bears had not been seen in the area for two years so we did not worry. There were moose droppings when we arrived but we did not see moose, or caribou. The main wildlife were the numerous squirrels that frequently chased each other through the RV park and excited the dogs. No mosquitoes to speak of as most days were quite windy.


The online group RVIllage connected us with RVers visiting our park and added to our social life. We got to know them better while dining at 49th State Brewery which served excellent food as well as a nice selection of local brews.

To top off our summer, my three sons and their girlfriends came to visit for a week. They toured the national park, rafted, hiked and explored the area.

Michael and Megan stayed a few additional days to travel with us back to Seward where Rollie went on a fishing charter one more time and filled our little freezer with halibut, salmon and rock fish. Michael and Megan took a wildlife cruise and hiked to Exit Glacier. I sat back and enjoyed my favorite place in a state I have grown to love.

For more photos: https://goo.gl/photos/BPk3KxQk6Ux8J9ib7