Friday, September 14, 2007

Welcome back to our Great Alaskan Adventure!!!!

Before I tell you about our great adventures on the road, I will give you a short diary of our plans to transport Melanie, Colleen and our Suburban to Alaska. Things didn’t always go as planned. But we did arrive here safe and sound.

May, 2007 – Doug booked passage for Melanie & Colleen and vehicle on ferry Columbia with the Alaska Marine Highway system (AMHS). Planned passage had us leaving Bellingham Washington on Aug.31, getting off in Juneau for 1 1/2 days and then leaving Juneau to sail across the gulf (during prime whale watching season!), with arrival in Whittier on Sept. 6. Melanie then was going to spend a few days and fly home on Sept 11.

August 17- Doug called to let us know that the Columbia had blown an engine and the AMHS had cancelled all passages for the rest of the season while they repaired the engine.

August 18 – Doug spent several hours on the phone trying make new ferry plans. He was able to book us on the BC (British Columbia) ferry system. The Columbia docked in only U.S. ports. Since the new itinerary had us docking in Canadian ports, I was no longer able to transport Doug’s hunting firearms in the suburban as we had originally planned. We had to make other arrangements for those. This trip required us to sail from Bellingham to Victoria Island, drive 6 hours to the northern edge of the island to Port Hardy and board a ferry bound for Prince Rupert. At Prince Rupert we were to board the ferry Kennicott and arrive in Whittier on Sept 6. That matched our original arrival date. The only real change was that we had to drive an extra day to catch our ferry.

August 23 – Doug arrived in Omaha on his way to Houston for a training session. Yes, he was headed south as Melanie & I headed north. He planned to spend the weekend with us and then continue to Houston.

August 24 – We listed the house with a realtor, I shed a few tears, and we closed the house up and left. We had dinner with dad in Grand Island. We came back to Hastings and had the chance to watch our Lady Huskers volleyball team on TV one more time. After the game (about 10:30 pm) we went to the Quality Inn, where we had booked a room because our house was completely empty. When we got to our room, there was an urgent message for us: “Call the front desk immediately and DON”T flush the toilet!” I know what you are thinking and, yes, it was true. The plumbing on our entire side of the motel was broken. Not only was there not another empty room in the motel, there was not an empty room in the entire town due to a wedding, softball tournaments and Hastings College functions!! They offered us two options: Stay the night and use the bathrooms across the common area by the pool, or drive the 30 miles back to Grand Island and stay at the motel two blocks away from Dad’s place (which, as you recall, we had just left a couple of hours earlier). Oh—did I also mention that this was our 33rd wedding anniversary?

August 25- Doug headed to North Platte to help Matt with his kitchen remodeling project and I left for York to meet Melanie. The she & I went to North Platte also. We had supper and spent the night at Matt & Stephanie’s. When you travel to North Platte on I-80, be sure to look on the north side of the highway just before you get to the North Platte exit. There is a person who has quite a zoo at that spot. Look for the giraffe with his head sticking out of the shed!.

August 26 – Doug left for Omaha to fly to Houston and Melanie & I headed west on I-80. Our goal for each day was to drive until we got tired and then stop for the night. Our first short-term goal was the Sierra Trading Post in Cheyenne Wyoming. It seemed to pop up just about the time we needed a break from driving!

August 27 - We had an offer on our house in Hastings. We negotiated via phone for a couple of days and settled on a price on August 30. I signed and faxed the purchase agreement from Seattle. Doug signed and faxed from Houston.

August 27-30 – Melanie & I had a wonderful trip. We saw so much beautiful country. Read more info about this elsewhere on the blog.

August 30- We were at the Seattle Market when we got word that the ferry on the second leg of our NEW itinerary had broken a rudder. It was now less than 24 hours before we were supposed to catch the first ferry for the first leg of our ferry trip. (It was the ferry on the second leg of this trip that had broken down). By that evening, they were still doing no rebookings. We could still sail on the Port Hardy Ferry (first ferry) the next morning, but there was no idea at all when we would be able to leave (second ferry) Prince Rupert (and P.S. – there are NO flights our or Prince Rupert – once you are there, your only option is to get on the ferry and return from whence you came!) So if we had taken the first ferry, we might still be in Prince Rupert.

We opted to spend a couple of days exploring Bellingham and caught a flight to Anchorage on Sunday evening. We left the Suburban in Bellingham and I will fly back to retrieve it when I get the “back-in-business” signal from the ferry system. Melanie spent a couple of days and flew home on Wednesday night (9/4).

That is the (not-so-short) story of how we got here. See pictures and read more about our adventures on the road in the blog.