As well as a way of life.
"Home is where the heart is" some say, and after four years, our hearts had certainly settled in Alaska. But we had two kids to raise and decided to do it in the "lower 48". So as we began packing for the long trip to Kentucky, I began to realize just how deeply our roots had began to grip the Alaskan tundra. So it was with much trepidation that we left in July of 1979.
As well as a way of life.
During our 4 year Alaskan tour, we had camped and done so much that it was hard to realize that much of that
was to come to an end. This photo shows
Suzie standing in front of the pop up-camper that I pulled to Alaska. (Notice
the long shadows). It was in this camper while on one trip to Anchorage that we awoke with 3" of
fresh snow on the roof. A lot of bacon and eggs were fried on that stove and a lot of comfortable nights were enjoyed inside.
In the summer of 1977, we sent Suzie's Mother an airplane ticket so she came to visit us from Okinawa. The five of us traveled to Seward, Valdez, Anchorage and many places in between, camping each night. We were surprisingly comfortable in the tiny camper. We were on the road for two weeks. It was a very interesting trip, especially for Suzie's Mother, who had never been off the tiny Pacific Island of Okinawa. She returned home with a lot of fresh memories.
The glacier behind them which receeds every year is now out of sight.
When we left Eielson Air Force Base, we enjoyed a relatively un-eventful trip all the way to Whitehall Montana. It was late at night when we had just crossed the Continental Divide when the engine began missing and losing power. Finally I was unable to start it. The timing chain had slipped, leaving us stranded. It was late Saturday night and we had coasted as far as we could down the mountain when a police officer came by and called us a wrecker. They towed us to downtown Whitehall, and parked us behind a service station in a weed patch. Overhead a black sky full of bright pin prick stars but I knew the following day was going to be a busy one so I had little time to really look at it. I have NEVER seen so many bright stars in such a BIG sky!
Luckily I had all my tools, so early the following morning, (Sunday) I began taking the front of the engine apart. It just so happens that the owner of a parts store across the street stopped by and said he'd open his parts store for me so I could get back on the road. So my late that evening, the engine was once again her old self, and early the following morning we were "on the road again"... So if you're ever in Whitehall Montana, you know you'll be treated well!
At the time, the Alaskan Highway (or Alcan) wasn't completely paved so we slid around some in the mud during rainy weather and were covered with dust when things dried up. The result was one dirty camper.
It was a long trip for sure, and especially for Doug Jr & Connie. They were "good troops" about it though. We stopped often and admired the scenery. It was a trip we remember today. Not so much the "rough" spots, but the trip as a whole.
We finally retired again from the CSX Rail Road in 2004. We traveled in our fifth wheel out West and on our way home, retraced our path through White Hall. It had remained pretty much the way we remembered it. Small towns seem too hold their charm much longer than larger cities do. They are less susceptible to the infections of "progress".
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