It’s Been Too Long

As I mentioned earlier here, my time over the past year has largely been devoted my volunteer “job” to help some family members get a new business up and running here.  My one-year commitment to help them is now over, and I’m happy to report that they are doing well on their own for the most part.  I had the opportunity to help them out doing something I enjoyed, and I will never regret my time and effort spent over the past year, especially if the business continues to grow and thrive for a long time to help support their family.

So, what else has been going on over the past few months?  Well, here’s a rundown of the high points.

We spent two glorious weeks in Alaska in early July!  We celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary early, actually almost a year early, as well as my 60th birthday back in May.  If I had a bucket list trip in life, this was definitely it.  It was absolutely wonderful and fulfilled my longtime desire to visit Alaska and see (and photograph) as much of the natural beauty and wildlife there as possible.

View of Mt. Denali, third tallest in the world, at 2 a.m. in July from our hotel room in Talkeetna

We spent the entire two weeks touring on our own, mostly by land, opting to not take a more traditional cruise trip on our first trip.  That was such a good decision for us while we are still in good health and could handle the rigors of a more physical trip like this one where we were moving around and spending only a short time in each location.  I also got back into more serious photography during the trip, and I have some truly wonderful photos as souvenirs, especially my wildlife photos.  For me, this trip ranks up there with trips to Hawaii, and in some respects, I enjoyed this epic two-week trip even more than our jaunts to the islands.

A moose posing by the road inside Denali National Park

I spent a lot of time doing research for this trip over the past few years, which is part of the fun for me, and it definitely paid off.  I don’t think I would change a single thing for a first trip to Alaska with two weeks to explore there.  And, to answer one question up front, we did not make this trip by RV at any point, and I don’t regret that decision at all.  In fact, I don’t think we would ever make this trip by RV or rent one there, after visiting with some folks we met that either took their own RVs or opted to rent one up on arrival in the state.  While we definitely hope we can go back again someday, I just don’t think it will be by RV at any point.

Bald eagle on the morning of the 4th of July in Kenai Fjords National Park

After flying non-stop from Denver to Anchorage, our route took us from Anchorage to Seward for the 4th of July by train, Seward to Anchorage by bus to pick up a rental car for the rest of the trip, Anchorage to Palmer, Palmer to Talkeetna, Talkeetna to the Denali National Park area, DNP to Fairbanks, and Fairbanks back to Anchorage.  If I had to list my top three things from the trip, those would be…

Our 13-hour tour deep into Denali National Park,
Our all day boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park, and
Our fun paddleboat tour in Fairbanks.

But, wow, there are so many other wonderful places and sights in the state, too.  We knew we might never return for a land trip like this one, so we hit the state hard to see as much as we could in two weeks.  This trip will no doubt be one of the highlights of our lives.  It was just that awesome.  I’m looking forward to sharing more about our trip here soon and sharing more of my photos.

We continue to travel closer to home in our RV, although we’ve taken fewer RV trips so far this year due to the Alaska trip.  We’ve had friends along on most of our RV trips this year, and that’s been fun for us, especially with the couple that we so often seem to have along on our RV trips these days.  The four of us all now have kayaks, and we’ve really enjoyed having those on our trips lately.  Kayaking is so much fun, much more than I first thought it would be.

We sold our rent house a couple of months ago.  After considering our options after the sale closed, we opted to get out of the rental market for several reasons but primarily to use some of that money to start updating our own home.  We are now deep into the planning stage of a major kitchen remodel, including tearing down a pony wall that separates our main kitchen from the breakfast room, tearing out all existing cabinets, and basically gutting the main kitchen area.  I can already tell this is going to be a money pit, but our kitchen is in dire need of a decent update after 30 plus years.  Hopefully, the big work will start soon after the first of the year, as I need my kitchen in December.

My brother-in-law will soon be going into a nursing home due to the quick and terrible toll that his Parkinson’s dementia has taken on him over the past year.  This makes me very sad because his physical health is still mostly good overall.  This process has been extremely hard on his immediate family, as there was disagreement a few months ago between all of them about the best plan for him going forward.  Now, though, everyone (supposedly) is in agreement that this is the best option for him.  It’s still just so sad, though.  We also agree that it is past time for him to make that move.

I recently watched the horrific flooding in Central Texas on television and online as it tore through many beloved areas where we vacationed when was a child and places we still visit today, too.  The big bridge in Kingsland that was washed away was adjacent to the cabins where my family always vacationed in the summers during my childhood and even later in my life.  As I watched the live video of the bridge washing away that morning, tears came as so many memories from childhood seemed to just wash away, too.  We spent the Bicentennial 4th of July in 1976 watching the wonderful boat parade and fireworks from that very bridge.  These days, we regularly visit nearby Inks Lake State Park in our RV, but it also flooded this fall and suffered from a bad fire earlier this year.  But, my fellow Texans are resilient, and they will recover.

I’ve been down for a couple of weeks with a bad cold and hope to get more rest over the next few days to hopefully help get past the worst of this stuff.  I set a goal to write an update here this week, though, and I’m happy to at least get that done now because it’s just been way too long since I’ve updated here.

I hope all you nice folks are doing well, and I look forward to catching up soon.



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