August 15, 2015

Our Plans Are Definitely Written in Jello

After a lovely week on Portage Glacier Road, I returned to Anchorage so I could pick up Tim at the airport on Tuesday night.  He had been in Oklahoma at Chickasaw National Recreation Area to prepare the park’s annual museum reports.  This was a return visit for Tim, who flew to Chickasaw last summer to prepare the same reports.  You might recall that Tim and I visited Chickasaw last December, and you can read about the park in this post. 

Chickasaw had recently experienced heavy rains in a short period of time, causing extensive flooding throughout the park.  The silver lining to all this water was the replenishment of the water table.  When we visited Chickasaw, many of the springs and fountains were dry.  This time Tim was especially happy to see the Bromide Fountain flowing.

Bromide Fountain, August 2015

Bromide Fountain, December 2014

This was a whirlwind trip for Tim, and a hot one.  The temperatures inched into the triple digits while he was in Oklahoma, with a heat index of 116.  He almost had a heat stroke and was happy to return to Alaska where temperatures have been in the mid-70s.

We had decided that after Tim returned to Alaska, it would be time for us to start heading toward Denali National Park and Fairbanks.  We expect Fairbanks to be our northernmost destination before we begin our trek south toward the Lower 48.

In order to give Tim a break after his project, as well as catch up on laundry and other chores before leaving “civilization” behind, we decided to stop for two nights at a commercial campground.  We had not stayed at a campground for nine days, a record for us.  The solar panels are really doing their job and have opened up so many new opportunities.

We picked Big Bear RV Park and Campground in Wasilla, where we had stayed a month ago.  Big Bear is a nice, simple campground that we enjoyed the first time around, and this time was even better.  We arrived to discover that the campground was hosting a salmon bake that evening – the first one of the summer.  That was a stroke of pure luck for us, being at the right place at the right time.

The offerings were plentiful and delicious.  Grilled Copper River salmon, fried salmon fingers and salmon spread were joined by moose ribs and a moose casserole.  Fellow campers provided a selection of side dishes, but the hosts took care of almost everything.  What a treat!  The salmon was delicious, and so was the moose, but my heart melted when I tasted the dessert – a rhubarb, blueberry, cranberry and raspberry crisp with vanilla ice cream.  All of the berries had been handpicked.  Yum!  Everything else was also homemade by many of the relatives of the campground owners.  What lovely people they are.  The good food was matched only by the good conversation.

Frying Up a Batch of Salmon Fingers

Grilling Several Copper River Salmon Filets

Enjoying an Overflowing Plate

While Tim was taking it easy on Thursday, he received a telephone call offering him another museum services contract.  It seems that the folks at Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site in North Dakota liked his work for them last year and want him back.  That was an unexpected call.  We decided to extend our stay at the campground so we could look at our schedule, and some maps, to see if we could work North Dakota into our plans.  Tim and I both enjoyed working at Fort Union, so we hoped a return visit would be possible.

Although we had originally planned to return to the Lower 48 via the Cassiar Highway, and then head towards Oregon, we decided that a trip down the Alaska Highway and on through Alberta and Saskatchewan Provinces would do just fine.  We wouldn’t really have time to do much sightseeing along the way, but we had always planned to return to Canada for a much longer visit sometime in the next few years.  So, we decided we could leave Fairbanks around September 1 and take three weeks before arriving at Fort Union by September 21.  It would then require a quick dash to Colorado for our doctor and dentist appointments the week of October 11.

With our new plans on the calendar, we were ready to leave for Denali.  But, not so fast.  Yesterday, Tim received another telephone call offering him the possibility of one more contract.  What?  What’s going on here?  This one was really enticing – Denali National Park!  But, how on earth could we possibly fit in another two-week contract before leaving Alaska and still make it to Fort Union in time?  Extending our campground stay for another night gave us time to look at the schedule one more time.

It looks like we just might be able to make it happen.  Although the contract is not a sure thing – Tim has to meet with the museum curator at Denali this coming week – we think we’ve figured out a tentative plan.  It would mean that Tim would have to work during much of our planned visit to Denali (I’m not sure how many days he’d want to spend on a bus anyway!), and we would have only two weeks instead of three to drive to Fort Union (not our preferred speed at all!), but this contract is something that Tim would love to do.  I’m always up for an adventure anyway, so let’s make our last month up north one to remember.

Wow!  That's a Long Drive!

I don’t think Tim ever anticipated that he would be offered so many contracts, especially since he hasn’t really been seeking them out.  Most have come his way via word of mouth.  However, he is thoroughly enjoying the work, and so am I, since I get to work with him on most projects. 

As the old RV saying goes, “RV plans are written in Jello, always some wiggle room.”  I’m thrilled that this lifestyle has given us such flexibility to take advantage of opportunities that come our way. 


  1. Yes, being flexible leads to so many new adventures. How nice to have Tim in such demand:) Says a lot about his quality of work:) And they luck out because they get a trusted assistant for free! Sounds like a good plan! Let's hope no one else calls:)

    1. Tim says thank you. Tim is very good at what he does, and word is quickly spreading throughout the different National Park Service regions. We are a good team, and I have learned so much from him. I think it would be difficult to adapt to the full-timing lifestyle if you weren't flexible.

  2. When you have a reputation for doing good work, the word gets around. Nice that your flexibility allows for you to take advantage of these opportunities

    1. Word of mouth is certainly the best reference. However, we certainly didn't expect to be offered two new contracts in a period of two days. Amazing!


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