The view west from the homestead

The view west from the homestead

Sweet Chance

Sweet Chance

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Traveling down to Haines

September 12, 2007

We are traveling down a very bumpy road in the Yukon…crossing through enormous expanses of valley, across braided rivers. Right now there is evidence of a forest fire and black sticks of aspen and birch are poking up from the yellow underbrush. We are traveling through boreal forest, so the trees are mostly spruce mixed with bright yellow aspen and birch. We are on our way to Haines and will get on the ferry tomorrow and leave Alaska for the Southlands. To get to Haines, you have to travel through a corner of the Yukon …a part that is very sparsely populated!!!! Most of the camping facilities are closed for the season already…..we didn’t stop till 11:30 last night since all the places in the Milepost we were aiming for were boarded up. We lucked upon a Yukon Provincial campground and creaked into the first site at 11:30. The stars were brilliant—the new moon long set and the nearest human dwellings hundreds of miles away. Wow! The Milky Way looked like a horde of distant clouds….I don’t ever remember seeing it so, even in Chinle. There was a greenish glow on the northern horizon which was a murmur of the Aurora….not in full bloom, but very exciting.

Oooeee it was cold, though! The car thermometer said 40 degrees, but those sheets felt much frostier. We did a skeleton set-up, leaving the trailer attached to the car, the table down, milk crates full of stuff still in place. The kids climbed in their sleeping bags and I put a fleece over them. Chris and I climbed in our bed and we had a comforter and a sleeping bag, and a fleece….oooooeeee so snuggy. Chris ‘s CPap worked off the batteries (he wasn’t able to use the batteries in Denali but figured out a way in the wee hours last night). Chris has to take the fuses out when we are off the grid so the propane detector doesn’t drain all the battery juice. When he plugged them back in this morning, the furnace went on….we thought we could only use the furnace plugged into electricity. Yippie!!!! This is actually great news for us as we sail into fall weather camping….it frees us from the confines of the grid….we can actually be snuggy AND n the middle of nowhere!!! (There are countless places to set up, and provincial/state campgrounds are scenic and deserted this time of year).

Now we are listening to Bob Marley and jammin our way down this beautiful road. Cassidy and Teslin are busy with a box of K-nex in the back and periodically a small car comes launching into the front seat. It is great to be out of the audio book world since it consumes them so. We are happily tinkering our way through the wilderness.

Chris and I are thinking Helena Montana and getting a house right next to cousin Hailey. Teslin can baby sit Parker and well….Today it is Montana. The only hitch is neither of us has been to Helena yet (Hailey and Greg have decided to move there and we like their taste). We would like to get less expensive car insurance and hope to get an address somewhere soon. This morning a woman asked if we were on our way to or from Massachusetts….we don’t really know how to answer these questions. Where ARE we from? The idea of full time travel is fitting us quite well right now. Chris answers where are you from with, “most recently Massachusetts”. The kids always say Massachusetts. But Alaska has had a profound effect on Chris and me….it is so exquisite, and yet so few people. I have had all faith in beauty and wilderness restored, and even traveling in such close quarters, feel plenty of personal space. Tranquility, really. Could we live up here?

On this particular day, 1pm, we pass an oncoming vehicle every 5 min or so. We are driving alongside a very long lake. The far side of it has scrubby hills that look bare from here, but have aspen and spruce near the bottoms of the slope. The spruce is a deep dark green color—they are slender tall spindly trees.

Three little birds is playing and Teslin is singing along in the back. She has made some massive cross-country mobile that has a rotating gigantic snowflake on top of it. Cassidy is working on a space shuttle. Yesterday they did Mathmate and their spelling books en route. We’re trying to get in the groove of school on the fly…..we have Mavis Beacon to teach typing, 7 different curriculum from Alaska Fish and Wildlife (seabirds, wetlands, ecology, tundra, wildlife, and others I forget), a Spanish program, and their 5th and 6th grade math/spelling books from Hilltown. The trick is to use them. Teslin’s next project is on sled dogs, and Cassidy is working on Willow Ptarmigan. Cassidy is not so sure about having to do spelling and cursive…..the 6th grade spelling appears to be harder than 5th…did anyone else notice that? Chris wants to study Pacific Salmon, and I like want to write about bore tides and druken forests. So much to do. Much love, Anny

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