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Jennifer & Gwynne's 2015 Road Trip

What started as a casino hopping trip to Oklahoma and New Mexico has turned into much more. While we will visit many casinos, these have turned out to be more of a 'base' camp for me and my sister. Join us as we start in Oklahoma, traverse the panhandle of Texas, and drive the scenic byways of New Mexico.

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Location: USA

I declared yesterday that we would have no more posts. Although the day went by pretty uneventful, upon arriving at Comfort Suites in Fort Stockton, we had surprise visitors. Debbie, Chuck, and Ross had driven up from Alpine to surprise us, but mainly Dylan. He and I walked into the lobby to check in and we looked to the right to see familiar faces, but it took a few seconds for it to register who they were. I made Gwynne come in, telling her they needed her at the desk to register. We all had a nice visit. It was nice to see some familiar faces.
We left Hard Rock Hotel & Casino at 10 a.m. and stopped in Las Cruces at one of our faves....La Posta de Mesilla restaurant. Dylan 'oohed' and 'ahhed' at the birds and fish. Gwynne had a taco salad while I enjoyed a beef fajita salad. She partook in a libation, I water. For dessert, Gwynne treated us to sopapillas. Dylan drank his apple juice. He did not want to take in any of the restaurant food. He'd rather have his p, b, and j.
Thunderstorms surrounded us all up and down IH-10, but we really only got rained on once. The view of the super cells was an awesome site! (Jennifer)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Location: USA

Likely our last entry tonight as tomorrow we will be in Texas and home free. We traveled 620 miles today on interstates as well as US highways to get from SLC, Utah to south of Albuquerque, NM by 6:30 p.m.....valet service (thanks to Gwynne) and room service dinner (thanks to Gwynne). Dylan and I stay in the room while Gwynne gambles. We will take our time leaving in the a.m., no alarm. We will travel 500+ tomorrow to Fort Stockton and home Thursday afternoon. (Jennifer)

Monday, 10 September 2012

A fairly uneventful day....still smoke in the air. Different, I think, than any other trip I can remember, we were on the same interstate highway ALL DAY! IH-15 took us from Great Falls, Montana 560ish miles to south of Salt Lake City, Utah. Gwynne still makes fun of me while we pass a humongous silo near Salt Lake that I inquired on one of our trips if that was the Morman Tabernacle. I will not live it down. So when we pass by this huge complex, we salute.
Dylan, once again, was a trooper, playing on my iPad games the entire trip looking up only when there was a train or cows/horses. The speed limit was 75 and we drove between 75 and 90 mph to make good time. We were keeping up with the traffic through Montana, Idaho, and Utah. We skirted the Great Salt Lake. I didn't realize it was so close to the highway. We were arriving in the SLC area around rush hour, but it went smooth enough.
Dylan and I went for a short swim. The pool, of course, was inside. We WERE going to spend 30 minutes, but the area was like a sauna. The pool was comfortable, the hot tub too hot. Dylan finally got to watch his Sprout channel, an amenity he did not have before today after we left Ninilchik. His highlight of the day is playing in the bathtub as he was stuck with showering for 3 months.
We move on to Albuerquerque area tomorrow, staying at the Isleta Hard Rock Casino so Gwynne can get her fix of gambling. Dylan and I will spend quality time together. (Jennifer)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Location: USA

On a whim, Gwynne and I decided at the last minute to change our route from one hotel to the next, over 600 miles away....our origin, Whitecourt, 100 miles northwest of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada.....our destination, Great Falls, Montana, USA. Now I don't know how many of you have traveled that road, but it is well traveled, well established, and VERY boring. Trying to manuever through Edmonton and Calgary with the terrible signage was something we did not want to do. We had already decided the day before to take one indirect road to Edmonton instead of the main highway. But upon driving that road, I proposed a plan. All day, we traveled parallel to the main drag on back roads. It took us through scenic farmland. Small towns broke the monotony of the seemingly long trek from Edmonton to Calgary. We crossed the border at Waterton National Park and Glacier National Park on the east side, not another soul in sight on the US side....piece of cake.
Upon approaching the border, perhaps 75 miles out or so, we started seeing the mountains with a bad haze. This lasted for over 200 miles. The haze was from fires across Montana and Idaho. It was bad, but lightened up just shy of Great Falls.
We arrived in Great Falls at 6 p.m. having driven, perhaps, 25 miles more than scheduled, but with sanity intact. We made way to our steakhouse "Jaker's" for a ribeye. Gwynne treated me to a glass of wine and she shared dessert....creme brulee (sp?). To bed at Comfort Inn by 9:30 p.m. Off to Salt Lake City on IH-15 the whole way going 75mph. (Jennifer)
p.s. Here is a link to view a short video of a herd of free-range bison on the Alaska Highway:

Saturday, 08 September 2012

Location: Canada

We are on the road again, now in Whitecourt, Alberta Canada after a boring days drive of 542 miles. Yesterday was an adventure, bar none, with a herd of buffalos, and some spread out along the way. We also saw Stone Mountain sheep down in a river bed and on the road in Stone Mountain Provincial Park. We had a stay at Fort Nelson, nothing too exciting. We are ready to be home and will hit the border tomorrow evening, ending our day in Great Falls Montana. After that off to Salt Lake Utah and then on to Albuequerque to stay at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on the Ysleta Fort Stockton and on the 13th, we will be reunited with our families in San Antonio....Hooooo Ray!!!


Wednesday, 05 September 2012

Location: USA

Left Ninilchik at 6:09, arrived at our destination, Tok, AK at 4:30 only to find our reservation was good, but none of the help showed up that day to clean rooms, so nothing was available. We looked in this vacant town for other motels. Most are shutting down for winter. Fortunately, the restaurant we frequent helped us find one and it ended up being 'nicer' than the original. Too bad we won't be back to experience this one again!
The scenery today was unreal. Fall colors abound! Rain through Anchorage (who had just had hurricane force winds the night before, electrical outage throughout, school dismissed for the day, trees obviously uprooted and visible), sunshine therafter. The fireweed no longer blooms, but the leaves turn red and are prettier than the blossoms....range from orange to bright red....the trees that are not pine/juniper/evergreen are a beautiful yellow and yellow orange. The pictures I'm posting do not do it justice. So be patient and look for Gwynne's as this is when I was driving and she used her iPad when she could....better quality. (Jennifer)
p.s. Dylan spent some time yesterday afternoon imagining formations from the clouds....a fish crab, beluga whale, a frozen bear made out of bubbles.

Wednesday, 05 September 2012

Location: Ninilchik Alaska, USA

We are saying goodbye to Ninilchik today and the Jones' cabin as well...many memories, many precious moments....will remember this special piece of heaven for an eternity...


Tuesday, 04 September 2012

Location: USA

Change of plans.....woke up leisurely this morning, paying bills, and my sister proposed a plan that I accepted and we ran with it.
We were scheduled to leave Saturday and ride the ferry from Skagway to Bellingham. The weather here has made a turn for the worse and boredom has set in. We have canceled the ferry reservations and opted to drive straight home, arriving sometime around the 13th....5 days earlier than planned. The time has come to go home, so there's no waiting around.
We washed clothes, mailed boxes home, called home to notify loved ones of the change in plans, and have changed all the reservations. We saved steaks for our last night meal so we won't have that craving on the road.
Wish us luck getting across the border w/ Dylan. We ran into a small problem on the way up. We have warned Audrey (his mom) to be prepared to answer the phone just in case.
We will post pictures and diary entries barring frustration from the slow service typically found in the bush. (Jennifer)

Sunday, 02 September 2012

Location: USA

Yesterday we reached a significant mark in our week until we depart. Dylan is now putting 'gold' stickers on the calendar to signify the last week of Alaska. We are ALL ready! Our only problem may be that we will have a hard time waking up to our wake-up calls in our motels on the road.
Yesterday was a beautiful day, although a little brisk. The temperature stayed in the 50's. I spray painted about 10 small pine cones gold for Dylan to have at home at Christmas....a little part of Alaska and Ninilchik and the Jones' compound.
We stayed in ALL day as Gwynne and Gene made a trip to Soldotna for necessities and fly making materials. I crocheted. Dylan played learning games on the computer and watched a few dvds on the computer as well. He has not watched a dvd in weeks.
Friday we had Gene over for Gwynne's quiche and parmesean biscuits. Afterwards, Gene demonstrated the rigorous process (for him) of making the flies he will use to fish for Silvers during September. The whole process took about an hour. Pictures under August 31st have been posted showing the process. Today Gene will come over for another one of Gwynne's lunches, chicken I think, and he may demonstrate how to make another fly.
We plan on returning to Soldotna one day this week (Wednesday or Thursday) to send some large packages home, go to the bank, shop for the road (have to have some Ferry snacks), just to name a few.
There are no more visitors at the Jones'. Sherri (their daughter) and Ron (her husband) left Friday. They were staying at the other cabin for two weeks. Another friend of a friend was staying at the 5 th wheel trailer and left Friday as well. They will be winterizing all the cabins once WE leave. (Jennifer)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Location: USA

It’s sad, in a way, experiencing our ‘lasts’….last visit to Homer, last visit to Ninilchik with Alton, last days eating at the Senior Center. Knowing this will likely be the last trip up to Alaska makes me reminisce on all the past visits. However, I truly think I’m ready for a change…first road trip to the East Cost (Maine and Nova Scotia specifically). Without flying as an option, the places one can visit are limited, but the US and Canada have so much to offer, I doubt I will run out of ‘firsts’ before my clock runs out!
Last night, I rode with Gene to drop Alton off at the Kenai Airport. It was, I believe, the first time I saw ‘darkness’ of night (however, often in the morning). We left at 8 p.m. and returned home at 11 p.m. We will miss Alton, but look forward to seeing him at home.
The ritual of beach visits in the sunshine in the afternoon has halted for the time being. This morning we woke up to rainy, gray skies. We left at 9:30 a.m. with a goal of making it to the ferry terminal in Homer to watch cars drive on to the Tustumena ferry. Mission accomplished! Although a dreary day, it was NOT raining at the time, so Dylan and I took a few minutes to explore the rocky beach at the ferry harbor. So we have been to ‘a’ beach five days in a row!
We ran a few errands while in Homer, landing at a Pho (Vietamese) restaurant. The food was WONDERFUL and the owners very friendly. Our last stop was Safeway for a few things to make it through the week.
There are no plans except sleep in, relax, make it to the Senior Center for two more lunches (they’re closed Monday), make a trip to Soldotna, mail packages home, finish my afghan for Gene, and I’m sure something I’ve missed…..BUT none of them have to be done any given day…..just done by NEXT Friday afternoon. (Jennifer)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Location: USA

The fish arrived safe, sound, and frozen. Thank you Debbie & Chuck for receiving the boxes and caring for them!
The weather here has taken a turn for the best....clear skies going on three days now, no wind. The first day I thought the wind would blow Dylan and I down on the beach whilst we hunted for pretty rocks. Yesterday, it was calm seas. I found a beautiful piece of granite embedded in the sand, dug it up, brought it home, and rinsed it off. I've vowed to take it home, but have also got to have some flexibility as it may not fit! I've told Bob he may find a big rock in his yard upon our departure. To most it would be just another rock. To me it is a piece of Deep Creek beach to which I will likely not return.
Today, Gwynne will take the car in for tire rotation, oil change, and general looking-over...scheduled for 10 a.m. This involves Gene as she will need a ride home and then back again to pick it up. I will vacuum the messy floors and clean the dash and seats on the day before we leave. Gwynne continually spends $10-$15 having the car washed in Soldotna, Kenai, or Homer. This to keep the good reputation of the Jones compound for its appearance. However, upon returning to our home here in Alaska, the dust has already accumulated a thin layer. The roads are NOT paved on the way in. They are graded every couple of weeks. The rain keeps the dust to a minimum, but when we have clear days, this turns to on-going battle.
Sometime today, I will make a trip to the laundrymat, making sure to space out the trips so we land there next Friday for our last wash day before hitting the road. The tubs will be lighter of clothes and more on 'junk' as I am ridding myself of a few of Dylan's clothes that no longer fit AND of the fishing clothes I've worn. The smell of fish and eggs is not one you can get rid of.
This evening Gene and I will transport Alton and his two 50 lb. boxes of fish to the Kenai airport. There, it is only necessary to arrive an hour early, especially at this time of season....not many people traveling.
Tonight is steak night at the A-frame, thanks to Sister Gwynne. You know I am a happy camper! (Jennifer)
p.s. On Wed Aug 29 05:50:55 PDT 2012 Kenai Peninsula, Alaska (60.31, -150.71) 4.4 58.7km .....4.4 earthquake this morning at 4:50 a.m. our time...Gwynne felt it. Dylan and I were sawing logs and felt nothing.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Location: USA

The fish departed Ninilchik at 6:02 a.m. headed for Kendalia with a tracking number....very interesting to watch how fast these things can go 4500 miles. I just hope BOTH packages make it safe and sound. Sister Debbie is receiving them sometime today. I've since been offered clamming for packages of clams and packages of halibut, but it is too late.
Yesterday I spent one of my last four gift card lunches at the senior center. I will give one of mine to Gwynne today so we don't lose them. Alton and Gene joined me. We had meat stroganoff (which means Moose instead of Beef), potato salad, salad, dessert (of which ice cream is always a choice). It was good, but not up to the S.C. standards, in my opinion. Today Gwynne will have pork and saurkraut.
After lunch, I took Alton to drop off his clothes at the laundrymat (Hylen's called the Alaskan Angler RV Park) and then we hunted the Ninlchik Beach for jade. After dropping Alton off to complete the laundrying, I ran a few errands in town (Ha!)....P.O., printing at the Library, shop the old taxadermist shop (which is closing). Then Alton was returned to his abode. He will be leaving us to go home tomorrow night. I will travel with Gene to keep him alert in the darkness....moose on the road and a man who has a reputation for falling asleep sitting upright.
The fishing boots have been retired as I spent 30 minutes scrubbing fish blood (and some of my own), salmon egg juice, mud, and Deep Creek novelties off with liquid Lava soap and a brush. This is a sure sign that I will not be returning to the fishing scene (except in the daytime, hopefully with Gene, to take Dylan for a shot at fishing).
Thursday we are planning our last trip to Homer for last minute groceries to tide us over, eat at Pho's, and most importantly to watch cars drive on a ferry so Dylan can see the process. The ferry Tustumena travels weekly from Homer to Seldovia to Kodiak and ultimately Dutch Harbor in the Aluetian chain. One might ask why we don't take a ferry from Homer to Bellingham (on a different ferry)? This requires a cross Gulf leg that I am not willing to risk, especially with a four-year old. If the water was like it was yesterday, the whole population on the ferry would have been sick! The inside passage is smooth sailing (I hope). (Jennifer)

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Recent Messages

From Tracy
Welcome home! I bet your toes are curled like Daddy Bob's speeding on
I-10 towards San Antonio!?

That was so great of the alpine contingency to show up and give you a warm Texas Welcome! Nothing better than seeing family again.
Response: Thanks for reading our blog Tracy!
Response: Thank you Marmar. I plan on going back someday, perhaps with my mommy.
From Tracy
Just saw that you all been posting on the way home. I thought you all would be too pooped to post. Great pictures.
I guess I can expect a call from mommy tonight?
Response: You got the call already! The only pictures we took today, Dylan took....of three different dinosaurs in one of the towns we had to slow down in....we stopped so he could roll his window down and take the shot. He is really good!
havent heard from you guys today. you said you would call when you got to the border, let me know please..getting worried. hope yall have a safe trip home. SOOO EXCITED!!!
Response: We only call if we can't get across. We're fine!
Response: Thanks Marmar. Grandma has put some of my memories in a scrapbook and in a photo album to help me remember.
From Mary Altman
Godspeed! Have a fabulous trip home. See you soon.
Response: I CANNOT WAIT!@!%#@
From MargaretZ
Hello all,
Good luck Getting Dylan back into the US. Whenever we left with the kids we never had a problem exiting through Canada but coming back, Oy Vey!
Jennifer, I had a dream about you the other night. You MARRIED an obviously younger man Woo-Hoo! Then you had a baby boy! I was with you in the delivery room... Or maybe it was a nightmare???
As usual, we are enjoying all of your great pics and never say never about going back to Alaska, you never know!
Response: OH MY! That was a nightmare! Except for the younger man of course!
From audrey
aww! being a person who doesnt like change, hearing of last is sad but im VERY excited for you guys to come home...maybe lets not rule out one more alaska trip? maybe in several years? i would like to go up there with you and dylan and experience it again.
Response: We'll have to see what happens. It is VERY expensive!
From Tracy
Dylan might be on his way to being a travel photo journalist.
Are all these blog pictures taken with the iPhone?
Happy labor day?
Response: Yes. The only exception was when we were in Canada. They were taken with the iPad. They are not good quality when printed out. I got 100 photos developed for Dylan's photo album and they are grainy. I have given Dylan lessons on centering his subject and making sure to get a 'clear' picture, not blurry. He's been taking good pictures for a couple of months now.
Response: We measured me on the back porch the day we got here, the 10th of July, the 10th of August, and will measure when we leave.
From Tracy
I google earth drove up the Sterling Highway looking for bears and moose. No spottings yet. It looks like the google truck was there in early fall; Orange trees and dying tall fireweed.
Beautiful drive over Deep Creek. ...this was my evening activity tonight. Exciting, ugh?
Response: If you google a more recent date, you could see our car and house. I bet if you call and let us know, we could even be on the front porch waving.
Response: I hope I get to go too! I went once in a lake, but I haven't yet in the river. I think Gene or Alton will go with me and Memaw. Auntie Gwynne bought me a Zebco when we got here.
From Debbie
Love all the pictures, especially from craft fairs! But I assume Dylan never did get to ride a horse and that makes me sad;(
Response: You're right....he did not ride a horse. We were too early and he has a was cold and rainy.
From Audrey and dustin
im not sure how to comment on a particular picture but i love dylans 4 1/2 year old birthday present! :) please tell him that we will be calling around 5 or 6 (our time) to see how his day went (give him fair warning before he plays his computer games) lol!
Response: That present is from Auntie the blog that goes with the pictures. I told him to be ready between 5 and 6. Today is his 4 1/2 year old b-day party with Gene, Alton, Gwynne, Dylan, and I. I have one gift. Other than that and Gwynne's, it is just a celebration.
From Tracy
Is t-Rex going to eat the bear!?
Response: Right now, he has only a couple of dino's.....we took them away and he has to earn them back.
Response: I am looking forward to both coming home AND going to my new school. Thank you Marmar Jane for your support.
From Tracy
I tried to stay up until 12:01 am cst so I could be the first to wish you a

Response: Sorry....I'll consider you the first secretly.
From Tracy
Nice to see Dylan had time with a friend and a inflatable jumpie. Did you warn him to only approach bears in Alaska who are wearing a hat?

My favorite picture is that of ALL THE FISH in Gene's fridge.
I Would love a scenic picture of deep creek if you ever go back. I could frame it for Tony's meditation corner in his dorm room.
Response: I posted pictures of Deep Creek. What part do you want? I really don't want to walk to the Meadows.
From Tracy
Send cold, wet rain when you FedEx your fish.
What do you think Ed and the Frenchmen call YOU in their blogs?
Response: Not sending the fish until the end.....The Frenchmen probably call me that 'damn woman fisher', but in French.
From Claudia
Missing my fishing buddies, little buddy, astrology buddy and everything Alaska has to offer!
I hope anyone who is even slightly in awe of Jennifer's log and photos also make the trip to Alaska.
And once you've been, I guarantee that you'll go again.
Thanks AFee Sis Juanita, Gwynne, Dylan, Gene and Alton for an incredible experience!
Hope to see more of your "Fish On!" photos.
Love to you all!
Response: Awe sweet gave me the sniffles. We enjoyed your stay. You brightened each day for us.
From Mary Altman
Sounds as though you are all having a wonderful vacation. Glad you are able to do this. Things here have been busy but nothing extraordinary other than Jane's new baby. Eddie and the boys are in Anchorage for baseball tournament. They will be home Tuesday. Enjoy your vacation.
Response: Thanks for looking Mary. I will be worn out if I keep getting up at 3:30 to fish. I was on my feet 14 hours yesterday, and I don't mean simply standing....I was dieing by the time I hit the bed. I think Enzo is beautiful. I've sent a gift for Jane to Deidre's house, but have not yet done anything for either Mark's wedding gift OR Steven's baby gift....will look into it after payday. Tell everyone hello. See you in September.
Response: Both are reading me books, but mostly my Memaw. I can't wait to get the dvds and books on cds. Thank you Marmar Jane. I love you.
From Tracy
In the kayaking pics, is that rock arch the one by bird island?
Response: No, it is Elephant Island. When the tide is up it looks like an elephants trunk is dipping into the water. We were there during low tide and unable to paddle through. On the other side is rough water, though, so I would not have gone. As it is, the leader and one other experience kayaker made their way to the other side and said they were glad the others didn't attempt it.
From Tracy
How far can Rexy throw rocks into the bay? That's good exercise for Dylan. Keep it up and when he gets home sign him up for t-ball.
Gwynne, nice pictures! I haven't seen any pictures of crafts: afghans, painted rocks, crewel work?
Are you all ready to come home yet?
Response: Ready to send Dylan home. He's been a real toot lately, but we're managing. I will take pictures of the crafts today....unfinished afghans, crewel in the package, amatuer rock paintings.
From Debbie
Wow. You know I had to save a copy of that driftwood mosaic you took a picture of. That is cool! Sure wish I had a bunch of little pieces of driftwood. Well, I do have some, but...Have been enjoying keeping up with all the Alaska goings on. Particularly love the pictures, especially the ones with Dylan in them. Keep them coming.
Response: Will be amending the last 3 sets. Gwynne submitted them and I am going back to fix them up. I have taken pictures of that framed driftwood/beach glass art before. I am intrigued with it. I have literally 100 lbs. of beach glass at home. I'll look for wood.