On the Road

Drive – Eat – Sleep

I have been on the road for the last how many days? Here are some of my blurry memories, inspired by Karin Hesse, Aleutian Sparrow

Montana

The coal trains are running day and night. Where does the coal go?

Alberta

Oil and gas. Prairie and mountains. The first mosquitoes, oh no.

Extreme wildfire danger, already? It looked very dry…

British Columbia

Supernatural, indeed. Gas prices that made me weep.

Yukon

Bears, black and brown, mostly single bears, one sow with two cubs, one lone grizzly, moose, bison, stone sheep, dall sheep, bald eagles, a fox, coyotes. Not to say the world is intact up here, but there is a lot of wildlife to be seen from the road. Some lupines and butter cups where flowering.

Alaska

Welcome home. I got the stinky finger right away and was cut off, when I did not exceed the speed limit. There is so much space and so little traffic. It must be an Alaskan thing. I also had to take a class in Defensive Driving for my new job. Why me?

Nevertheless. The coastal ranges are stunning, if you care for remote and rugged mountains. It is end of May, there is still snow in the mountains. Nature is just awakening, in a hurry. Shiny new green leaves everywhere.

I am glad when I can park my car and not drive for 3 months. Peace.

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July brought sunshine, thunderstorms, days of celebrations, and time to muse. After a roadtrip to the lower 48s, I have settled back into the quirkiness of Alaska. The current abundance of delicious berries in the wild makes up for the lack of affordable, quality food items in our one and only grocery store in town. I have made dozens of containers with thimbleberry, rasberry, salmonberry, blackberry, and black currant jam, that will last me through the next Alaskan winter. Blueberries are next. I am dreaming of blueberry scones with lemon glaze and Martha Stewart’s unforgettable blueberry tart.

Living the simple life in rural Alaska becomes me. Being outside every day, even when it’s blowing or raining I feel alive. I don’t have TV. The world news are troubling, although they seem distant, almost unreal. I don’t miss that part of the “civilized”  world.

Six more weeks and then the summer season is coming to an end up here. Until then I soak in all this place has to offer. Speaking of soaking. There has been quite some moisture in the air lately, so don’t be too jealous.

At night it is actually getting dark, so not much longer and we start looking for northern lights, eh! Can’t wait. Eagle fest, salmon roe, snow...

Live here is a cycle. It all repeats itself, at its own pace. Live follows nature. I am part of it.

On the Road

July 2016

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On the Road

Thursdays with Bearly

When Mother Earth crumbled like a pie crust it left behind one of the most bewildering landscapes in the West. The heart of this vibrant break in the surface of earth is  now protected as part of Capitol Reef National Park. Amazing clusters of red sandstone formations can be seen from the pavement, or are hidden in the back country. The temple of the Moon and the temple of the Sun are two of those rock formation that either require fording the Fremont river, or passing sandy patches along the Caineville wash, or a long, rocky mountain road.

Temple of the Sun and temple of the moon, Capitol Reef, UT

Temple of the Sun and temple of the moon, Capitol Reef, UT

Either way, you are rewarded with a spectacular display of erosion and resilience. Both temples stand erect by themselves in a valley of many cathedrals in the making. Most of them will end up as muddy hills being washed away by rainstorms and winds.

For now, the temples are still standing, seeing the sun and moon come and go. Time your visit right to see these rock formation in the best light. I am sure storm clouds would add a great back ground to the eerie landscape. Then again, you may be stuck in a while in the mud and run off water…

Temple of the moon

Temple of the moon

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On the Road

Happy Halloween

Not sure what we actually celebrate today. But most of us are celebrating, dressing up in spooky costumes.

The perfect day to post something spooky.

Ever heard of area 51? Do you believe in UFOs and aliens? Well, they are here, maybe, or maybe not?

Somewhere in Nevada...

Somewhere in Nevada…

Here is what Boyd Bushman had to say on his personal experiences with Area 51, UFOs, aliens and anti-gravity ideas. Boyd was a retired Senior Scientist for Lockheed Martin and holds several patents working as a defense contractor for Hughes Aircraft, General Dynamics, and Texas Instruments.

Spooky…

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Inside Out

A change of season…

Somewhere in the Southwest

Somewhere in the Southwest

I have been on the road for some months now. Summer went, fall came, and winter is knocking…

Time to reflect.

I was a tour guide this season, driving a 15-passenger van with a trailer, and most importantly, guiding a group of visitors from Europe throughout the Western United States. We did see some of the finest National Parks, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and last but not least Las Vegas. The contrasts could not have been bigger, returning after days in the desert to the glitter and blitz of Las Vegas.

What did I like?

I liked the moments when my passengers were in awe. I was amazed how often squirrels and chipmunks did the trick.

Sunset in Monument Valley

Sunset in Monument Valley

What did I miss?

I missed quiet times to immerse myself into a good book and I missed good companionship. I missed the freedom to stay in one place as I wanted to.

Sunset at Mono Lake

Sunset at Mono Lake

What comes next?

Only time will tell.

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On the Road

The Big Calm

It has been 17 long days and short nights that I spent with 8 families from Holland and one fellow tour guide on a road trip through the Southwest. It has been quite an experience after a year in the solitude of Alaska.

There were many highlights on this drive. I remember a moment of utter silence at the Grand Canyon. We had spent a night at Monument Valley in a hogan with a Navajo story teller. The next morning, there was a lot to talk about: The hairy tarantula that checked into our camp, the double rainbow over Left and Right Mitten, the lack of running water. The kids had almost forgotten about their electronic gadgets that were useless without power and internet. So it was a chatty drive to the Grand Canyon. When we arrived at the parking lot of Desert View, we asked the parents to take their teenagers by the hand, have them close their eyes and guide them with us to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was a clear evening. A slight breeze kept the air refreshing. The big gap glowed in warm colors. A maze of dark canyon walls and bright ridges opened up in front of us. After everybody was lined up, we asked the children to open their eyes on the count of three.

“1”

Pause.

“2”

Longer Pause.

“Two and a half!”

<Laughter>

Long Pause.

“3!”

<Silence>

Then came the first “Wow”. Disbelief. Then the usual sounds and gestures of excitement.

I found this brief moment of silence rewarding. The Colorado River had done his magic.

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On the Road

Desert Storm

It is 5 AM in Kingman, AZ. The dust has settled, literally. Last night the weather service issued a sand storm warning, discouraging all driving. A brown wall of desert sand was looming over Kingman, several hundred feet high. Visibility was low. This was my first sand storm. It must have been a baby storm that barely touched us. Somewhere out there it may have been outright gritty…

We also had our farewell dinner with our fellow travelers. A long drive to Los Angeles is all that is left. We had an all-American diner experience with Chicken-fried steak and gravy, molted chocolate cake and such. I am starving for some decent home-cooked meals. Anybody?

After Zion and Bryce, we visited Canyonlands, Arches, Monument Valley, Betatakin, and finally the Grand Canyon. The Southwest in 17 days…

Under water in Death Valley

Under water in Death Valley

A few hick ups here and there, a lot of broken gear, and many great sites. Every day there were amazing moments, even for the seasoned desert rat, mountain goat, or city slicker.

Little time for us, the tour guides, to take pictures, or take a breath. No time to reflect. That has to wait.

My van has been decorated on the outside with dry marker, showing all the places we have seen on this trip. I will take a picture before going to the car wash 🙂

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On the Road

Porterhouse, baby!

San Francisco, Yosemite, Mono Lake, Death Valley, and Las Vegas. Those were the highlights and low points of our whirl wind tour through the Wild West with 26 Dutch tourists and a trailer in tow.


What do we do on our night off in Vegas? Sleep!


Well, not exactly. There was a $70 Porterhouse and a couple of serious margaritas involved to soothe the pain from our babysitting job.
San Francisco was fantastic. The best Chinese food at the house of Nanking, thank you Peter. The best Dim Sum at Tom Kiang, some Russian Pastry, and a great World Cup final.


Yosemite is a zoo. This is not a park. Ban all private traffic and commerce in the Valley. Enough said.


Mono Lake surprised us with a spectacular thunder storm. Wish you were here, if you know what I mean…


Then we roasted at the furnace of Death Valley. It was 48C. Dry heat, though. It melted off the sole of one of our passengers.


Finally Vegas, baby. Tolerable only with blood alcohol levels exceeding the legal limit.


On with the show…

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