Sunday, April 30, 2017

Catching Up With Friends

Tom and Michael were both in the flight program at their high school in Northern CA. After the earthquake in Japan, the local paper interviewed Michael. We were stationed in Japan. Tom, and his family were in Colorado Springs. He had access to "The Global" and was able to find a work email for Michael. They got in touch and determined if we were back in the Springs, visiting family, we would look them up. Today, we had lunch with Tom, Yelina and his children, Anthony and Michael.  Anthony was cramming for college finals. Michael is an 8th grader and he and the kids had fun playing games, while we adults caught up.
Nolan, Michael, Alex and Stacia
I had a lovely time getting to know Yelina, who is from the Ukraine. Her story was fascinating. The kids had fun with Michael. The meal was yummy and I KNOW Michael and Tom had fun telling old stories back and forth and catching up.  I'm glad Tom looked Michael up and that this meeting happened.

We have two sets of friends from our assignment in 2002-2005. Our Alaskan assignment. It worked for all us to meet at Ken and Lynn's. We got to their house in time to Facetime with their son Matt, who is in Germany. Wow - these kids have grown up in 15 years.
Ken and Michael catching up 
 Katrina and Rachel were friends of the older three/four in Club Beyond during our Elmendorf years. 
Now they have husbands and LUCIA
Alex was 1-3 and Nolan was 3- 5 @ EAFG....Stacia was in my tummy when we left AK. Frances was Nolan's pre-school teacher at chapel. There were no kids their age at this gathering - but they have learned to bring some cards and settle in wherever we are. LOL 

Lynn brought out the photo album we'd compiled for her when she left Alaska. It was very odd how we've all aged, except for Frances. LOL
Lynn, Frances and Me
Oscar, Michael and Ken 
The three again. 
Renewing friendships from years past reminds me again how truly blessed we were to minister in the Air Force. If we weren't going to Alaska, I'd be sorely tempted to retire in Colorado Springs.  

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Family Fun

We need not let a little spring snow storm keep us from meeting at John and Jenny's for family time. 

Mary (SIL) and me
 John made some great chicken for dinner. 
John - niece Jenny's husband
 John and Jenny added Hannah to the family. This was our first time to meet her. 
Hanna is a doll! 

Serious business in the kitchen.
Jerome (Nephew) and John 

Earl - Michael's brother
 The dinner table
Mising Michael and Dom 

After dinner we enjoyed a few rounds of Mafia at Jerome's prodding. 

Remind Me Again....

We woke to THIS - and were glad not to be driving. 


This is me saying, "Remind me again, WHY we are moving to Alaska?" 

It has become a joke how the cold weather follows us around the states. LOL  This is supposed to stay on the ground a day or two and blow away.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sheltering from the Storm

We raced the storm home to Earl and Mary's. Earl was busy cooking dinner. Jerome stopped by and then John, Jenny and Hannah. It was fun spending time with them. We don't see them often enough. 

Jerome and the Gherkins got in a game of Dominion
Jerome, Nolan, Stacia, Alex 
 Fun to see Jenny with her daughter. Hannah is a doll! 

We watched the snow come down and were happy to be warm and snug with family.

Note: More #WYFF (Where's Your Feet Friday) entries can be seen at the above tab under the blog header.

Free "Camping" in the 21st Century

You'd like to camp for free? In an RV or trailer?  RV Love has a great article with 29 Tips for Successful Boondocking. 

Big Flat Campground - USDA site in Klamath National Forest
Boondocking is camping off the grid - no electricity, water, sewer. THIS is how we used to camp in the 1980's and 1990's.  It's currently a bit more challenging to boondock - but there are still lots of spots where one can go to "unplug." Most often these are BLM (Bureau of Land Management) sites,  USFS (US Forest Service) / USDA sites or a variety of other federal and state lands. provides a lot of info on boondocking. Free hosts a map with a variety of free camping listed.  Simply googling "free camping" or "camping" on BLM and USFS sites will find spots. We found some great sites on USFS lands around Crescent City, CA.

Urban-docking in ID
We have spent nights in rest areas, truck stops and retail parking lots while traveling from one state to another.  We've heard many churches and some clubs (like Rotary, BPW etc) will let you stay if  you are members. Call ahead. We call this Urban-Docking and we stay for ONE NIGHT in these locations.

Our favorite Urban-docking site is Jordan Creek Rest Area, outside of Canyonville, OR.
First "boondocking" experience we had @ Jordan Creek Rest Area
We like the aps RV Parky and Allstays for finding these spots. In these areas you are usually dry camping - still off the grid.  We always confirm with managers before staying in retail spots. We obey any signs we see instructing no over-night parking.  A note - if you do this - please be considerate, clean up after yourself, buy your groceries where you park, don't lower hydraulic jacks on hot asphalt etc.

We have noted truck stops to be NOISEY. Our original thought was to shower at a truck stop/stay free, while purchasing propane and diesel.....we quickly discovered showers are expensive these days. It is cheaper for our family of 5 to stay in a RV park with a full hookup, than to pay the price of showers for 5 at most trucks stops where we've stayed. In Idaho they wanted $65 for our family to shower - we passed.   We don't like to drive with lots of water weight on board to take our own showers...and so we tend to alternate urban-docking with a campground as we travel.
Mooch-docking in Crescent City, CA
Mooch-docking is when one stays in someone's driveway - always invited, of course! πŸ˜‰ If electricity or water is provided, I would assume one is no longer "boondocking".....A level spot one can get into, possibly water and electricity - and you're good to go. Friends and family often offer showers and laundry services.  If you've followed our travels you know we mooch-dock whenever possible - not because it is free (and we always try to leave $ for electricity and water), BUT it allows us to visit easily with friends and family. We've stayed in Krista's driveway, John and Nadine's driveway, Joe's RV spot, Dennis & Susie's driveway, Will & Sherri's driveway, and we're spending this week mooch-docking at Earl and Mary's  (Michael's brother and wife).

There is a great network of RVers across America and Canada who offer sites for free at their homes - Boondockers Welcome.   This is a site we plan to use as the need and opportunity arises. I've noted some spots up the AlCan Hwy that look promising.  We are considering becoming hosts when we settle in a location.

There are also MANY opportunities to volunteer in exchange for a site. WWOOF is one several we know have utilized. I need to do some research to find the URLS for farms and orchards which allow you to spend a night in exchange for a purchase or a day of work. I can't seem to locate it right now. Hmmm....

Tents for Troops is not "docking" of any sort. However, if you are ACTIVE DUTY, member campgrounds will allow you to stay free for two nights - full hook ups. We've done this at a few locations whilst active duty and all of our stays were enjoyable.  The two that stand out in my memory are Toutle River RV Resort near Mt. Saint Helens, and Lone Mountain RV Resort in Obrien OR on the way to the Redwoods and more.

Manitou Springs

Years ago, Mom G, left home in CA and traveled to CO. She settled in Manitou Springs and eventually met Dad G. They made their home in the Springs for 10 - 15 years, and then moved back to CA.   The kids had heard Mom G talk about Manitou Springs and Garden of the Gods quite a bit in the past months. We visited the Garden and then took advantage of being close to Manitou and a spare hour to visit the town of Manitou Springs. 

This is a tourist town - good for window shopping, playing games at the Penny Arcade, and finding treats to enjoy. 

Michael first walked into Patsy's over 50 years ago. He didn't tell us that - but our noses sniffed out funnel cakes - and we happened to stop at just the right place. 

Funnel cakes are messy

The kids are collecting stretched pennies for souvenirs. We haven't seen a machine in a long time. This one took one of Alex's pennies and just stretched it - no new markings. It has become my "good luck penny." 

 Those familiar with Manitou know JUST what has caused Stacia's expression. Her first taste from the fountains of mineral water around Manitou. Mom G loved this stuff.

Alex, Stacia and Nolan at the fountain

We enjoyed our visit to Manitou Springs.  We made new family memories, even as we discussed old ones. One can drive up to the top of Pike's Peak from here - but we were ready to get back home. It was starting to snow.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Destination Reached - RV Driving Tip

We continued our trek across Colorado....Sports Authority Field 

Today, we discovered a great RV tip for driving in traffic. See the red truck in front of us? He dodged to the right. That left us and our toad following the Class A and it's toad....we went this way for MILES - with all that space between one wanted to dart between the two of us. Which was beneficial as the rain picked up.

We arrived at Earl and Mary's (Michael's brother and wife) and set up camp in their driveway. The kids found it funny to see all our inflated bags of chips, cereal and yogurt containers.

We are going to enjoy watching Ingen and being out in the country for a bit of time. 

Destination reached! We'll be here a few days visiting with family, then move up to Denver and bury Mom G.

In Search of a Shower House

We were told there was a shower house at St. Vrain State Park.  We knew it would have a "nominal" fee. This morning Alex set out for the turned out to be a toilet. He looked around and could find no other buildings. Michael checked the map. Nothing.

I wanted to KNOW if there were showers, as I planned to write a review of the park.  Yuuki and I went for a walk. In a new place it is quite a challenge to get her nose to cooperate with her feet and my walking pace. πŸΆπŸ‘©πŸΆ

We saw geese, ducks, various birds  and hawks - but no Eagles. We saw fishermen and fellow "campers."  We did not see a shower house.  I did see a conflab of people in little golf carts. The golf cart is the universally accepted sign of a camp host. I queried the group. There IS a shower house - on the NORTH SIDE.  After some discussion I was told it would be .25 for 4 minutes.

Back at Uchi, the others were working through the shower. I mentioned I'd found showers and they were on the north side. I went about battening down the hatches for travel. Finally, I realized Alex was gone. Nolan said he'd gone to the showers. I needed to tell him WHERE they were - but he had left his phone and was nowhere to be seen. This reminded me of the years when "Zander" was a runner. He's come a long ways but we had a conundrum. We were pretty sure Alex didn't have a clue the showers were up by the entrance to the park at the CPW building.   But if we left, we couldn't tell him where we were.

Nolan and Yuuki went to find Alex. Finally calling that they'd found a building and were told where to go for the showers. They hadn't seen Alex.  We were ready to leave.

Alex walked up just about then. He reported the shower was .75 for 4 min, but he had found it and enjoyed it greatly.  The slides were in, hoses stored - we called Nolan. He would walk toward the gate and there was "no way" we could miss him.

Reunited, we left the park about 30 min behind schedule - but we're retired - who has a schedule??!!

NEWS - Gherkin Alaskan Migration of 2017


Any guesses as to what this group is doing?????

Izaak and Cory are booking airline tickets to ALASKA, and renting U-haul trailers to carry their household goods up the AlCan.

I believe Bella and Arielle are scouting out the route for the AlCan travelers!

Did you catch that CORY was booking tickets and renting a U-haul! We're so very excited.

Easter afternoon Cory told us he and Arielle would be joining the great Gherkin Alaskan Migration of 2017.  We knew they had decided to transfer their New Hope credits into a degree from Lancaster Bible College.  Lancaster and New Hope are partner colleges.  Transferring will allow them to finish their degrees online. This will save money, and they felt it was time for a change.  They were no longer location dependent and were praying about staying in OR, moving to WA or, as it turns out, moving to Alaska.

I am STUNNED, and am simply watching what God is doing in amazement. I joked with Michael I wouldn't move to Alaska unless he promised me a hot tub. He did.  Ultimately, we both agreed we wouldn't retire in Alaska as it would be too far from the Gherkins.  JaRissa got married and moved to Alaska - and made living in Alaska look really fun. Josiah is moving up  in May 2017. BreZaak decided to move to Alaska.  I told Izaak I needed a sauna. He said he can build me one. I'm jokingly holding out for "10 acres and a llama" at this point. ::snort::

I always dreamed of living near all my children. But the GHERKINS were settling in OR, WA, TX....and we planned to move to Japan. I figured, with our ministry lifestyles and the military lifestyle, it was an unrealistic dream. So many dreams have shifted in the past two years - this one has unexpectedly shifted into reality.πŸ™ŒπŸ’—πŸ™Œ

This summer Krista will be at Maxwell AFB. The other eight Gherkins will be in Alaska....tears of joy (Jamin is spending the summer up there).

All that remains is to find our dream home. 🏑 Many are planning to land there as they transition.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

St. Vrain Colorado State Park

Kudos to the state of Colorado! St. Vrain State Park outside of Fort Collins is an excellent concept.  The park is right off I-25 in Firestone, CO. Their website says they are conveniently located for families who want a break. This is true....but they are also PERFECT for travelers.   This time of year we were able to drive in and get it spot without a reservation - though they said they fill up on the weekends.
Our site
All the sites are 40 ft, pull-thrus. When traveling it is nice not to have to unhook the Jeep for an over-nighter.  The sites are spacious, level, concrete pads. Each has a wind block, a table and fire grill. Most are situated around pounds. There are showers and bathrooms. A word about the shower house is in order. It is on the NORTH side of the park, and can be quite a hike from man of the loops. The shower costs $.75 for 4 minutes. There are tent sites, water/electric sites, and full hook up sites. There is a dump station on the grounds.
Great fire rings and wind breaks
Flush toilets in each loop 
There are trails, wildlife, catch and release fishing and you could bring a canoe etc and enjoy paddling around. For the traveler they are close to many local attractions.  It was quiet.

Lots of ponds like this - with sites around them 

Each pond has a well-maintained trail for walking and easy fishing access

The State Park Entrance fee is $7 and the over night fee for a full hook up was $28.00. 

We are thrilled with this find and highly recommend it to those traveling through the area. Visit their site for more info and full fees. For campground suggestions click campgrounds, private parks, state parks in the side bar.

Weather Adventures, Japanese and Travel

We added a twist to our travel routine today.  We attempted the boys' Japanese Class, instead of cancelling for the week.

The boys were good sports. They aren't used to photos and videos while taking lessons. 

Michael timed it so that we took care of a bit of business and weren't moving for much of the time they were online with their teachers. This is good as Nolan got motion sick in the bit of time we were driving and he was trying to watch the screen and dialogue. We had hoped to find a grocery store before it was time for lessons - but we didn't.  When we woke up this morning in Rock Springs it felt like snow to us. We used the lesson time  to prepare for stormy conditions.
Filled up our propane tank

Washed Windows

Topped off the diesel tank

Checked tire pressure before the passes
The windshield view was ever-changing today as we made our way across the state of Wyoming and into Colorado.  Here are a few glimpses of the #ViewFromMyWindshield.
Always sobering to see the underside of a semi
 We called this snog - snow and fog. 
Been a long time since we drove in a white out

First time to drive Uchi in a snow storm

Clearing up 
  Then it was BEAUTIFUL! 

 Kudos to Petro Truck Stops for Truckers Chapels

It was a long and slow day of travel. We decided not to push on to Earl and Mary's tonight. We are at a state campground off I-25 and will finish the trip tomorrow.