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JUNE---Pentwater, MI to Alaska and Back to Pentwater

Getting Ready for Trip to Alaska

Managed to get all our "Alaska stuff" into two large suitcases and one carry-on. At this point, did not know how much the bags weighed. Went to Grand Rapids a day before our flight .....stayed with Pam and Brian. Carl, Brian and Brian's brother, Dennie, went to the movie ("Godzilla") while Pam and I did a little shopping followed by lunch and a pedicure. Pam has a scale for weighing luggage---both bags were under 50 pounds! As the saying says "Good to go". Ordered pizza from Papa Murphy then watched a movie. Dropped the car off in Kris' and Craig's driveway the day of our flight. Kris and Craig were heading to Florida in a couple days so leaving the car in their driveway wasn't a problem for them.

Quick flight across the lake from Grand Rapids to Chicago on American Eagle. Next leg sat in first class---Chicago to Seattle. Served a real lunch and enjoyed a couple glasses of wine with a free movie. Last leg---Seattle to Anchorage on Alaska Airline---still first class. Flight arrived on time in Anchorage. It was around 11:00 PM and still daylight.

Anchorage and Girdwood, Alaska Prior to Wedding

My sister, Laurel, picked us up at the airport. Sat around talking and sipping wine until close to 2:00 AM. Should have been tired but wide awake. In the morning, Laurel and her husband, Keith, drove us to the train station for our trip to Girdwood. The train followed the shore of the Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm on the way to Girdwood. Saw 7 Bald Eagles, 3 Dall Sheep, and 3 moose. Not bad wildlife sightings in just a couple hours (the train does scare most of the moose and bear away before the passengers get a chance to see them).

Alaska Railroad was our primary mode of transportation in Alaska. Upgraded to Gold Star Class. The Gold Star car is the first passenger car with a special viewing platform, special viewing dome, private refreshment center and private dining car. Below are photos of the train and.....our first "selfie"!!!

 

Carl and I were the only passengers to get off the train at Girdwood. Seemed like we were dropped off in the middle of "no where". Could not see the town of Girdwood . Had contacted the local commuter bus....the driver told me he'd be there at 11:15 and he was! The bus driver went off route to drop us off at the Girdwood Guesthouse. Put our things away then walked to the town square (about a mile away) for linner (late lunch/early dinner) at the Chair 5 restaurant (recommended by bus driver). Both of us had a halibut sandwich with fries. Walked back to the Guest House, watched some TV and went to bed fairly early. The bed at the guest house is oh so comfortable.

The train out of Anchorage followed Turnagain Arm which is part of Cook Inlet. Below (left) is a photo taken at low tide. Photo on the right is the tiny little train depot at Girdwood (just a shelter). Bottom left is the Girdwood Guest House .....stayed in the apartment at ground level.

 

Much to our surprise ......slept all night and woke up around 7:00 AM. Judy, the owner of the guest house, baked fresh bread which we toasted for breakfast. In the morning, overcast but no rain .....forecast to be sunny in the afternoon so decided to hike. After breakfast checked out the Bake Shop's famous cinnamon rolls (guess we were still hungry). Headed to Alyeska Resort to hike the Winner Creek Trail. Crossed the gorge in the hand tram--option was to turn around or continue hiking on the Crow Creek Trail. Decided to continue on. By the time we reached the town square, had hiked ten miles. Grabbed a ride to the guest house on the commuter bus. Rested, cleaned up and walked back to the town square to Chair 5 restaurant for deep dish pizza and a beer (for me).

Top left is a photo of the cinnamon roll at The Bake Shop. Top right---Carl pulling the basket across the gorge on the end of the Winner Creek Trail. Middle photos left and right----the view from the basket. Bottom left is me pulling the basket.

 

Friday started the morning with scrambled eggs and toast at the Guest House. Went for a hike by the Alyeska Resort---walked up the hill underneath Chair 7 (that puppy is steep) then over to Chair 3, and down the slope to the Winner Creek Extension trail. The extension took us back to Alyeska Resort (where most of the wedding guests stayed) then walked back to the guest house. Showered and dressed for Lindsey's and Josh's wedding rehearsal dinner.

Lindsey's and Josh's Rehearsal and Wedding

Met Josh and his family for the first time at the rehearsal dinner. Also met Lindsey's and Josh's friends. Just before dinner my sister, Evonne, and her husband. Lauren arrived (they live in Seattle). Had a great dinner. For us, it was pretty cold---the dinner was outdoors. The Lodge had several gas heaters but those heaters did not provide enough heat for us (remember we like warm weather). Decided we had to dress warmer for the wedding the following day.

Below are two photos taken at the wedding rehearsal. On the right is the Raven Glacier Lodge. There is a covered deck on the left where the rehearsal and wedding dinner were held. Further to the left of the deck is the area where the wedding ceremony was held. Behind the Lodge the California Creek runs by. On the right--- Lindsey (my niece) and Josh.

 

Saturday....the day of the wedding. Laurel picked up Evonne and I in the morning. Headed to the Lodge to help set-up for the wedding. Evonne and I organized (per Lindsey's instructions) a table with plates filled with cookies, bars and different candies for people to eat between the ceremony and the dinner. Helped put tables and chairs in place. Lindsey and her bridesmaids set-up the tables (white tablecloths, burlap runners, flowers and napkins). Returned to guest house to pick up Carl. Walked to hotel where we met up with Lauren and Evonne then walked to the Bake Shop (via the Winner Creek Extension) for lunch. Stopped at Lindsey's and Josh's suite where the bride, bridesmaids and mother of the bride were getting dolled up (make-up and hair). Basically said hi to everyone and left. Back to guest house to get ready for the wedding. Threw sweaters in our backpacks to wear after the ceremony and pictures----good decision (put those sweaters on under our dress jackets as soon as we could).

The lodge where the wedding took place was "parking space challenged". The community commuter bus picked up wedding guests at the resort with a return trip to the resort at 11:00 PM and midnight. It was misting when the ceremony started but no one seemed to mind. The bride was so beautiful and the groom so handsome. A short but sweet ceremony. Good dinner.....moose meatballs and pulled bison! Lindsey, Josh and their friends love to dance. The floor was packed for every song. Carl and I even squeezed in to shake our booty.

Two candles floating in the pond. The pond is behind the arbor where the ceremony took place. On the right is Josh with his mother, Anita. Josh's father, Goldie, passed away about one year ago----we was sorely missed at the wedding. Bottom left is my sister, Laurel, ushered in by Nicco (one of the groomsmen).

On the left (top) is the wedding party. Josh's brother, Jeff, was the officiant. Ont the right---Lindsey and her father, Keith. Keith was having a tough time emotionally. Bottom left--Lindsey arrives for the ceremony and hugs her Dad before the exchange of vows begins.

On the left...Lindsey and Josh exchange their vows. On the right..."Josh you may now kiss the bride".

On the left...."Meet Mr. and Mrs. Josh Evans. On the right ....caught a photo of Lindsey----I was on the upper deck.

Time for family photos. On the left is my sister, Evonne, and my brother-in-law, Lauren. On the right is Lindsey and Josh with Lindsey's Mom and two Aunts. Bottom left is Josh and Lindsey with Keith's family. On the right is a photo of Lindsey with her Vorachek cousins.

Wedding dance---Father of the Bride and the Bride.

 

Family and friends gathered at the lodge for breakfast the morning after the wedding. Another great meal at the lodge. We were just getting through the food line when a young bear showed up just a few feet from the deck. Several couples were on the deck eating--looked up and there was the bear. One of the guys who worked at the lodged fired some buckshot at the bear---an attempt to discourage a return visit. By the way, my guidebook warned to be careful hiking California Creek because of the bears. After breakfast, helped load up wedding stuff into cars returning to Anchorage. Amazing how much stuff Lindsey and Laurel brought to the Lodge for the wedding!

"Hanged with family" in the afternoon. Started to hike the Winner Creek trail but the mosquitoes were wicked so turned around. Rode the tram up Mt. Alyeska for a great view. Sat around the hotel visiting then off for dinner at......yup, Chair 5! Returned to guest house to do laundry and pack our bags for the land trip which started the next morning.

Attempted to hike Winner Creek with the "extended family". Hiking with this group was like herding cats. Probably 15 minutes into the hike, a decision was made to turn around--mosquitoes were too bad. Bottom photos---the tram ride from Alyeska Resort to the top of Mt. Alyeska.

 

Alaska Land Trip

Monday morning Laurel gave us a ride to the Girdwood train depot for the start of our land trip. Train was on time .....conductor handed us our tickets and stowed our bags while we found our seats. Sitting in Gold Star class which means we have a modern dome car with our own attendant, dining car and the tour guides ride in the Gold Star car. The route from Girdwood to Seward is so beautiful--the most scenic leg. Just out of Girdwood, the train moves away from the coast up into the mountains passing fairly close to three glaciers. Train passengers and the tour guide is on the lookout for wildlife.....when something is spotted the train will slow down for a view.

The train ride from Girdwood to Seward is very scenic. The tracks move away from the coastline up into the mountains for views of three glaciers, numerous waterfalls, rivers, gorge and lakes.

When the train arrived in Seward----saw the hotel shuttle (Seward Wind Song Lodge) so turned our luggage over to them. Located the shuttle to the Kenai Fjord Tour. Short ride to the tour office where we checked in and quickly boarded the tour boat. Once onboard, looked for a restroom---needed to put on our longjohn underwear which was stored in our backpacks). Traveled down Resurrection Bay where we saw stellar seals, puffins, sea otters, harbor seals and mountain goats on the islands that lie off the Resurrection Peninsula. When we reached the Gulf of Alaska, finally saw humpback whales including one humpback with a baby. Loved the Dall's Porpoise---look like miniature orca whales! The Dall's Porpoise loved to ride the bow waves. Some passengers were seasick when we reached the Gulf of Alaska---the tour employees paid close attention making sure anyone who was seasick was taken care of. The seasick passengers were happy when the boat finally turned into a Fjord and up to the Aialik Glacier where the seas were flat once again.

On the return trip......saw a pod of Orcas which was oh so cool. Learned that there are two distinct types of orcas----transient and resident. Transient hunt other mammals for food while the resident orcas live off small fish (primarily salmon). This pod was resident. Sad to see this tour come to an end. Back to Seward, off the boat, found our hotel shuttle. Checked into the hotel, put our luggage in our room hurried down to lobby to catch the next shuttle to town for dinner. Lindsey had recommended Ray's ......an upscale restaurant with great food. Returned to hotel to watch TV and catch up on email. The next day our plan was to explore Seward. Had our luggage tagged for Anchorage (hotel will deliver the luggage to the train station for us). While waiting for the shuttle to take us into town, noticed the State Police and Park Rangers pulled to the side of the road scanning the mountain. Looking for a stranded hiker with binoculars. An eighteen year old woman from Washington was hiking the area, lost her footing and slid 30 feet down the side of the mountain. She stopped at a rock ledge, was hurt but able to get a cell phone call out for help. A spotter in a helicopter saw her. Troopers had to use ropes to get her off the mountain. Having a cell phone most likely saved her life. Just a little wilderness excitement while waiting for the shuttle. Rode the shuttle into town where we walked the docks looking at boats. Oh, its a small world. Talked to a sailor who grew up in Kalamazoo (moved to Talkeetna after college), he had just retired and is getting ready to go cruising. Visited the Alaska Sea Life Center (Alaska's Public Aquarium) and checked out a few shops.

 

The Kenai Fjord Tour was fabulous. The boat moved in close to the rocks for view of birds and Stellar Seals. Surprised at how close we were to the rocks especially with as much wave action as we saw! Saw Stellar Seals which are now endangered.

Out in the Gulf of Alaska finally saw some humpback whales. Stayed with a mother and her small calf for quite a while. By the way, it was at this point in the trip that we wished we had a better camera. Some passengers snapped some fantastic whale photos. Should have bought a new camera for this trip.

The Ailaik Glacier .....interesting sounds (creaks, groans and canon shots) and sights (sea otters, harbor seals, icebergs and the glacier itself). Saw some calving (huge chunks of ice breaking off the glacier and splashing into the water).

Back in the Gulf of Alaska on our way to Seward. Saw a pod of Orca coming our way. Again---should have had a better camera. On the left is the best orca whale shot I have---look closely for a fin on the surface of the water. On the right......well it is a good shot but its a photo from the brochure!!!!

 

What would Carl and I do in a sea port with free time? Yup---walk the docks checking out boats and stuff. Had dinner at Ray's bottom left is the restaurant (oceanside) and on the right is my meal.

 

 

Rode the train from Seward to Anchorage---thank goodness this is a beautiful stretch because we are seeing it again! Arrived in Anchorage around 10:00 PM---taxi to our hotel (Sheraton Anchorage Hotel). Off to bed because need to be at the depot by 7:15 or so.

Next stop is Talkeetna. The train ride is pretty but not as beautiful as the Girdwood to Seward run. Staying at the Talkeetna Alaska Lodge. Too early to check-in so we left our bags and headed to Mahay's Wilderness Jetboat Tour. Traveled twenty miles of the Susitna River in a jetboat. Tour guide talked about the rivers in the area, as well as information about Mt McKinley (A.K.A. Mt. Denali). Saw bald eagles and beaver dams and lodges. Docked the boat and walked about 1/4 mile to a trapper's cabin with original furnishings. Could not see Mt McKinley (Denali) because too cloudy. After the jetboat tour, walked down the road for the much anticipated Denali Zipline Tour. Nine exhilarating ziplines and three suspension bridges stretched between spruce and birch tress with a grand finale over a pond. Also rappelled 30 feet down from one aerial platform to another. On a clear day (which we did not have) you have a good view of Mt. Denali but not today (cloudy....even started to rain just as we started the last zipline run).

Probably the highlight of our tour activities was ziplining at Talkeetna! On the left....our group with all our gear excited and perhaps nervous about getting on a zipline. Top right---Carl hooked onto the line. Second photo is me--hooked onto the line.

Carl and I crossing one of four suspension bridges.

 

Below is our group on one of the platforms(left). On right is Carl and I waiting our turn.

Ropelle time. Bottom photo--the group is gathered on the platform we dropped down on to. The photo was taken from platform we started from.

The group after completing the course. 3 FUN FILLED HOURS.

Click here to watch a video of Carl on the last zipline over the pond.

 

Checked out the restaurants in Talkeetna.......Lindsey has recommended the Roadhouse where many of the mountainers who are getting ready to climb Mt. Denali (McKinly) hang out. Our tour guide at the hotel recommended West Rib Pub and Grill where the town mayor hangs out (a cat named Mr. Stubbs). Checked out the menus for both places and decided to eat at West Rib. Had an ice cream cone for dessert. I suggested we walk back to the Lodge because it did not seem like it was very far from town when we rode the shuttle earlier in the day.....it was farther than I realized (about 3 miles).

The old TV program, "Northern Exposure" supposedly took place in the town of Talkeetna. I love this little town especially the storefronts in the downtown area. The Roadhouse has family style seating with local fare and colorful mountain climbers talking loudly about their days on the mountain. Picked up a great breakfast burrito at Nagley's General Store before getting on the train and had a great meal at West Rib.

 

The next morning .......clear skies. Opened our curtains for a fabulous view of Mt. Denali. It was at this point that I regretted not booking a flight to view Mt. Denali. Last spring, when I looked for activities, a flight around Mt. Denali seemed to be so pricey. However, when the sky is clear and you look at the cost from a different perspective well......missed a great opportunity. Looked into a last minute booking but the timing did not work for us. Back on the train around noon headed for Denali.

Randomly selected as the Guests of the Day which meant our room was upgraded to a mountain view along with a gift basket. What a spectacular view in the morning. About 30 % of visitors get to see the top of Mt. Denali (A.K.A. McKinley).

 

The train was a little late getting into Denali and it took a good 20 to 30 minutes for everyone to get on the hotel shuttle so I was worried about making it on time for our next activiti. As soon as we arrived at the hotel, I checked in and left my luggage with the front desk while Carl jumped on the shuttle that we needed to catch for the Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theater. Very close timing but made it. The Alaska Cabin Nite is an all you can eat meal (salmon, ribs, sides and berry cobbler with whipped cream) followed by an interactive dinner theater (Carl played the villain)---mix of storytelling, music and humor. The food was good and the show was funny.

Views from train ride---Talkeetna to Denali.

 

In the morning off on another adventure----the Tundra Wilderness Tour. This tour is an 8 hour excursion into the park with a certified bus driver who is also a naturalist. Private vehicles can not go any further into Denali Park than Mile 15 (Savage River)----yo protect wildlife. Wildlife viewing tours and Park Shuttle Buses can travel beyond Mile 15. The bus driver provided in-depth information regarding the history of the park, while the passengers watched for wildlife. When an animal was sighted---you call out the kind of wildlife and direction (use a clock with front of bus at 12 and back at 6). The bus driver stops the bus and uses a camera to "zoom in" on the wildlife while the passengers watch on video screens that dropped down from the ceiling. Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road that curls and curls it ascends up the mountains. As you head into the park, the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, with North America's tallest peak, 20,320' Mount McKinley or Mount Denali off in the distance. Wild animals large and small roam unfenced lands, living as they have for ages. We saw the "main five"---moose, Dall sheep, bear, wolf and caribou. For me, the best sighting was the wolf. Currently, only 4% of the visitors to Denali are seeing wolves so we were very lucky to have one so close to the road and one that stayed in sight for a long time. After the wolf .....second best sighting was the bear. We saw one bear eating grubs and berries in the ditch and then three bears eating a baby moose close enough to the road that we could see the tearing motion as the bear ripped the moose apart. Our second day in Denali......stopped at the Denali Visitor Center and walked around the park area until it was time to catch the train to Fairbanks.

The Denali Park tour ......breathtaking scenery and wildlife. Top right.....look closely for the moose. Yup, need a better camera.

Expected the grizzly bear to be a medium brown color but they are blonde to platinum blonde. Grizzly in Denali are much smaller than the bears on the coast and Kodiak Island where the bears are usually 1000 pounds heavier than the grizzly in Denali. The Denali bears don't get all those salmon (eat mostly grubs, berries and occasionally a baby moose).

 

Top photos......just more scenic sights. Bottom photo.....Carl being silly (at my request)!!!!

 

Saw a couple moose on the train ride from Denali to Fairbanks. Checked into our hotel around 9 PM .....still bright out and the warmest weather experienced so far in Alaska. Had a little Happy Hour on the outdoor deck outside our hotel room. Lots of weekend traffic running up and down the river. In the morning, went on a 3-hour Fairbanks Tour......our guide talked about Fairbanks weather and what it was like during the Gold Rush and again when the pipeline was built. Stopped at the Fairbanks Cultural and Visitors Center and The Museum of the North. Also saw a section of the pipeline. Later in the afternoon a river trip on the paddleboat DISCOVERY ....informative, fun and a good way to enjoy a warm sunshiny day. Ended the day with a Alaska Bake dinner---all the king crab, ribs, salmon you can eat.

Quick tour of the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. Top left---the antler arbor outside the center. Top right--Carl pretending to be a "musher" Bottom left and right--restroom signs for Alaska!!!

Some of the Adabaskan artwork in the center.

Stopped at the First Unknown Family Statue located in Golden Heart Park. It is an 18 foot bronze statue donated by the Fairbanks Rotary Club. On the right is a photo of the front of the monument (Father, huskie and child). On the back is a Mother and baby. Stopped to see a section of the Alaska pipeline. Carl is standing by the shock absorbers that help hold the pipeline in place during earthquakes.

 

I loved the Museum of the North---wish I would have spent more time there. Below are different pieces of art from the museum. I named the first one ---"American Gothic----Alaska Style".

Lots of baskets woven by Alaskan Native Americans and numerous masks.

A brass bear sculpture and eskimo art on the right.

 

The last activity in Fairbanks was the DISCOVERY Paddleboat Tour. Stopped at a dog sled camp---owned by David Monson, the husband of former Iditarod Race winner Susan Butcher. The Iditarod is a 1,152 mile race across the beautiful but brutal Alaskan Wilderness. When Susan started mushing in 1978.....no one took her seriously (a woman from Massachusetts). However, she placed in the Iditarod top 5 from 1980 to 1984. I fell in love with the story about one of Susan's dogs---Granite. Granite was a sickly dog that everyone said should not be a sled dog but a pet. Susan did follow that advice. Granite was with her in 1985 when Susan was in the lead but encountered a sick (crazy) moose on the trail. The moose attacked the dog team....trying to stomp the dogs. Susan and one dog---Granite fought the moose off for 20 terrifying minutes before another musher came along and shot the moose. When all was said and done.....2 dogs were dead, 13 injured (6 seriously) including Granite. The veterinary told Susan that Granite would never run again.....there was doubt Granite would ever walk. It took time for Susan to recover but eventually she started training another dog team for the 1986 Iditarod. Granite also started to mend.....able to walk. Whenever Susan left the house for a training run, Granite would whimper and whine so Susan took him along on the sled a few time. Over time, she let him run. Granite gained his strength and was strong enough to fill the position of lead dog in 1986! Susan won the Iditarod in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1990! Granite was her lead dog in 1986, 1987 and 1988---no dog has beat this record! Granite died in 1997 (12 years after the accident with the moose) and Susan died in 2006 (leukemia). Susan said "Granite is a Ramboo type dog." Yes, I have a soft spot for great animal stories. Also learned on this tour that mushers don't like it when the dogs are referred to as "mixed breeds". The dogs are bred to target specific traits for racing so they are better described as hybrids than mixed breeds. I admit that I had this notion that dog sledding might be cruel to animals.....harnessed and forced to pull a sled. That notion is gone after seeing the dogs at this camp. They loved to pull and were so excited to get moving.

Top left--putting our feet up for a relaxing, warm day on the Chena River. Top right---our paddleboat, DISCOVERY. Middle photo shows the sled dog camp. Bottom photos are a Adabaskan Wedding Coat.

 

Alaska Air brought us back to Anchorage. My sister, Laurel, picked us up once again at the airport. Newlyweds, Josh and Lindsey, joined us at Keith's and Laurel's (brother-in-law and sister) house for pizza. The next day, Laurel, Keith, Carl and I went hiking and then for lunch followed by a driving tour of Anchorage. Flight for home left Anchorage at 11:00 PM. What a fantastic time we had in Alaska. The flight to Chicago was full......passengers on a stand-by list. The seat beside me was the last one on the plane to be filled. When I saw the passenger I thought, "Oh no, a woman with a baby. I won't be getting any sleep on this flight." I was oh so wrong. The baby was only 6 months old boy that was so well behaved. His Mom had him bundled up like a baby papoose. He slept all the way....when Carl and I got up during the flight to use the restroom.....the Mom used that opportunity to change his diaper. What a cutie and again .....I was oh so wrong.

Alaska Trivia:

So, how big is Alaska? It is twice the size of Texas. Alaska from north to south is approximately 1400 miles long and 2700 miles wide (east to west). Below is a photo of Alaska transposed over continental US.

 

In 1867, IS Secretary of State William Seward offered Russia $7,200,000 for Alaska. How much was that per acre? 2 cents

What is the lowest recorded temperature for Alaska? -80 degrees F at Prospect Creek in 1971

What is Alasaka's largest city in population? Anchorage

What is Alaska's largest city in area? Sitka which is 4,710 square miles

What is Alaska's heaviest annual snowfall? 974.5 inches at Thompson Pass near Valdez

What is Alaska's highest tide? 38.9 feet near Anchorage in Upper Cook Inlet which is second highest in North America

What is Alaska's official state sport? dog mushing

Which Alaskan National Park is the largest? Wrangeli-St. Elias whihs is 12.4 million acres including 10 of America's highest peaks

17 of the 20 highest peaks in the US are located in Alaska.

90% of Alaska is not served by roads.

Alaska has 6 times as many pilots per capita and 16 times as many aircraft per capita when compared to the rest of the US.

The orca is the swiftest whale and are also known as Wolves of the Sea

Polar Bears are considered marine mammal and therefore protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Salmon travel up to 1900 miles on the Yukon River to spawn.

There are 5 species of salmon in Alaska: King, Coho, Sockeye, Chum and Pink

The spread of a bull moose's antlers can exceed 6 feet. A moose's favorite food is willow and dwarf birch.

Back Home

Due to weather, the flight from Anchorage to Chicago had to go around a number of severe thunderstorms so our flight was an hour late (and it left Anchorage a little early). The flight to Grand Rapids was boarding when our Alaska Air flight was still on the runway. Did an OJ Simpson ......running through the airport dodging passengers and jumping over obstacles to reach the connecting flight gate. Boarded the plane and thought about---our luggage is not going to make this flight. The pilot made an announcement asking everyone to quickly get into their seats and ready for take-off. A hailstorm had already passed through Grand Rapids and there was more thunderstorms to the west with a break in storms large enough for a 30 minute flight. Also told us the Flight Attendant would give safety information only and not serve beverages because it was going to be a rough flight. By the time we arrived in Grand Rapids.....the next two flights out of Chicago were cancelled. No luggage possible until around 5 PM IF that flight wasn't cancelled. The third flight was cancelled so next chance for luggage was just before midnight. Good thing we were staying with Pam and Brian that night.

Had lunch when we arrived at Pam's and Brian's. Pam gave us some toothbrushes and toothpaste (even our carry-on bag was checked). Took a quick nap then off for dinner with Pam, Brian, and Jamie. Jamie had just moved into an apartment a couple weeks ago.....the first apartment she has had all by herself. It is really cute......she has a few more things to get but has the majority of the big pieces of furniture. Jamie selected the restaurant ......a neat bistro in her neighborhood. After dinner tried to track our luggage.....told it would arrive on the first flight in the morning around 8:00 AM. Watched a movie and off to bed around 11:00 PM. In the morning, Brian tried to open the front door but our luggage was blocking it. It had arrived sometime after midnight!!!!!

Started working on emptying storage containers in the garage and in the storage shed behind our house. We can't get a second car in our two car garage because of storage containers! Donated four storage containers full of winter clothes to kick-start the process. Donated a car trunk full of Christmas decorations (and still have a whole bunch left that I can not part with). Finding some items that we will use in our Vero Beach townhouse but finding more items for donation! Want to get through all those containers this summer.

Drove down to Muskegon (Hoffmaster State Park) to visit friends, Bonnie and Roger. Met Bonnie and Roger our first year of cruising. Over the years .....cruised with them or met up with them at different places. They sold their boat about 3 years ago.....now land cruising. They showed us their motor coach......very nice. The four of us went out for dinner at the Grille Station.

Short visit with Bonnie and Roger who are traveling in L/C KOKOMO. Below is a photo of them inside KOKOMO and a second photo of all of us at the Grille Station.

 

Left for North Dakota trip on June 29. Drove to Duluth (12 hours) where we stayed the night. The following day drove to East Grand Forks, MN (twin sister to Grand Forks, ND) to visit Carl's brother, William, and his wife, Shelly. It was William's and Shelly's wedding anniversary so the four of us went out for dinner.

William and Shelly were celebrating their anniversary the day we arrived in East Grand Forks. Married back in 1979. Shelly put on her wedding dress for the photo. Out for pizza for dinner. A point of clarification---Shelly did not wear her wedding gown to the restaurant!!!

 

What a month June was .....a trip to Alaska and the beginning of a trip to North Dakota. Why does our summer fly by so quickly????

Submitted by:

Marilyn Thoreson
July 09, 2014