The Great American Trip

Day 1
So we started leaving Alaska today. We were accompanied by a mixture of excitement and grief, sprinkled with a dash of trepidation. In just a few days, we will no longer be documented Alaskans. We press on. The three of us left Anchorage Sunday evening, and met up with Grandpa Tony in Palmer. He rode with us to the scenic Matanuska Glacier, were we said (nearly) tearful goodbyes. This is the little Frog with her Grandpa in front of the glacier on Raven, the Harley. Good roads took us to Tok, where we arrived at around 1:30 am. We stayed at the Golden Bear for a reasonable price, and got a much needed rest. Tomorrow, Canadia!

PhotobucketGrandpa Tony and Rosemary at Matanuska Glacier

Day 2

Super night’s sleep!  Today brought us to the Yukon Territory, a first for me.  I was sweating getting my rifles into a French speaking land, but the guards were cordial, and even allowed my to leave the weapons in the back of the truck.  Yeah, eh?  Canada is kind of what we expected, a lot like Alaska, except scrawny and not as pretty, and the road going into the Yukon was quite possibly the worst paved road on the planet.  The good news, however, is that little Rosie loves bumps, and she slept for hours on end.  We actually drove through Whitehorse and almost to the border towards Skagway, and set up camp about an hour’s drive from customs.  Not much sleep to be had, but we are amped about tomorrow and one last venture into the last frontier.Photobucket
The “other” White River, Yukon Territory


Dad’s pretty interested in the equipment that was used to build the Alaska Highway. Rosemary, not so much.

Just kidding

Day 3

Today, the little one woke us early, and we were on the road to Skagway by 7.  This day was already a success because after the breathtaking hour ride into town, we would do no traveling today.  The border crossing went according to plan.  Rosemary was hollering at the top of her lungs, and in that state, who’s gonna pull you to the side and search your ride?  The little town was beautiful.  Again, we had fabulous (even hot) weather, and upon arrival, quickly purchased tickets for the train ride to the top of White Pass.  We had most of the day to explore, so we headed nine miles to the east to the ghost town of Dyea.  Dyea was the beginning of the Chilkoot Trail, an early jumping-off point to the interior of Canada for late 19th century gold stampeders.  We poked around the old town site for a few hours, and even walked a few hundred yards on the Chilkoot Trail.  Back in Skagway, we secured our lodging for the evening, and made for the train station.  The trip up the mountain was grand indeed.  The history surrounding the White Trail was interesting, and the ride left little doubt that the early sourdoughs were some of the toughest men and women to have ever lived.  After three hours up and down, we decided to do a little fishing back in Dyea.  The pinks were in the river, and thick, and I managed to hook a couple, but it was evident that I wasn’t the only one fishing.  As we were leaving, we had the thrill of watching a big brownie splash around searching for a meal.  Unfortunately, it was a little too dark for a good pic, but watching him was the perfect way to end a glorious day.
PhotobucketDaddy and Rosie at Dyea
PhotobucketOn the road to Skagway
PhotobucketThe Family on the train at the summit of White Pass
PhotobucketTrain to White Pass

Day 4

Today was a driving day, and we made some changes to our original route.  From Skagway, we shot over to the Cassiar Highway instead of continuing on the Alaskan.  We were lucky enough to fuel up next to a man in Skagway that said he had just come up the Cassiar, and assured us that it was mostly paved.  It was rumored to be one of the great scenic highways, but being from Alaska, we were skeptical.  It was, however, a pretty drive.  It reminded both of us of the drive from the Portage Flats to Cooper Landing (for those who know the Kenai Peninsula).  Four hundred some miles later, we camped near Dease Lake.  Not too exciting of a day, but the road was nice, and we saw very few vehicles on the way.
PhotobucketSunset in southern BC

Day 5

Our fif day on the road, the fif, the fif, 1 2 3 4 FIF! started with a pleasant surprise as we stopped at a diner after purchasing a BC fishing license.  We ran into a cyclist from Hickory, NC (just a short drive from our final destination of Boone).  He had biked all the way from Key West, FL, and was making for Prudhoe Bay.  When asked why he was doing it, he said that a few years ago, he accepted Christ, and it changed his life, so he was sharing his faith cross country (and Canadia).  We had a really nice visit with him and his support driver.  We continued down the Cassiar until we came to a fork in the road, so we took it.  We decided to take a (ahem!) side trip to Stewart, BC.  Ol’ Dad realized his first big mistake on the trip was not stopping for gas when we should have.  If we went south (our intended direction) it was 90 miles to the nearest gas station.  Forward east, was Stewart, 45 miles away, but a dead end.  The digital readout on the truck told me we had 58 miles of gas in the tank.  Forward, ho!  A nearly 100 mile side trip was not desired, but we had no choice.  God is Good, and the drive was one of the most scenic so far.  Glaciers and monster waterfalls highlighted the ride, and we rolled into the filling station on fumes.  We did a little trout fishing on a small glacial stream once headed in the right direction, and I even managed to bring in my first international rainbow!  On the White River woolly bugger, no less.  I’m not sure, but I think we saw five black bears before we exited the Cassiar Highway.  We camped that night at Francois Lake, about 100 miles from where we wanted to be (go figure).  But it is the head waters of one of BC’s best fly fishing streams, the  Stelako River, which I plan on fishing early tomorrow morning.
PhotobucketOne of the many series of falls along the road to Stewart, BC
PhotobucketBlack bear along the Cassiar Highway
PhotobucketRosie at Bear Glacier near Stewart, BC

Day 6

Fish on!  The Stelako was just what Dad needed to start a long haul towards the States.  Although I only managed to bring one to hand, the crystal clear waters and many bumps on the fly rod were refreshing indeed.  Most takes were on the, you guessed it, wooly bugger, and I had plenty of strikes on a couple of different dries.  Enough, this isn’t a fishing trip.  Today, we realized that God made British Columbia a very special place.  It seemed as though the landscape changed drastically every hundred miles or so.  We went from Spruce-laden, rounded off hills to craggy, snarling peaks to desert-like conditions in the first half of the day.  The gorges surrounding the Fraser River, known as Hell’s Gate, were our companions for many harrowing miles south towards the border.  As we neared our early destination of Hope, BC, we thought we might try to make the border at Sumas, as customs was open round the clock.  Once we got state-side, with the baby asleep, Mom and Dad concluded that we should try for Olympia. Wow the cars. Have mercy, after five years in a state with a population of around half a million, major highway navigation felt very foreign.  Although the midnight traffic of a major city was intimidating, Seattle was a blur, and 1:00 am found us safely in the driveway at Ma Beth’s near downtown Olympia.  After a hearty meal of Filipino style sausage and rice, we both found the Sandman hiding in the hot shower.  The next couple of days, we will visit with family here, and after over 700 miles today and 1300 over the last two, we are excited about that.
PhotobucketBeautiful BC ‘bow
PhotobucketFraser River near Cache Creek, BC
PhotobucketHell’s Gate
PhotobucketSeattle, after 14 hours on the road

Days 7 and 8

Sweet home Olympia.  After the late night push, we were all ready for some good sleep.  At about a noon wakeup, we were ready for some family fun.  Ma Beth and Ma Buding played gracious hosts to a swarm of family that couldn’t wait to get their hands on little Rosemary.  We are sure that Rosie enjoyed visits with faces other than Mom and Dad’s.  Saturday night, I stayed with Uncle Don and the girls, while Bregitte and the baby enjoyed the air conditioning at Ma Badings.  Sunday was lazy and filled with more family and some timely barbeque.  Thanks to everyone who made the stay special and comfortable.  It was a much needed rest, but more importantly, it was good to see everyone again, and to meet new family.  We will miss you and hope to see you again soon.

Ma Beth and Rosie enjoy an afternoon nap

Bregitte’s bros and sis

PhotobucketWith Uncle Don (pic wouldn’t load right)

Day 9

We left Olympia today around 2 pm, a late start, I know, but its still light pretty late so we weren’t too worried.  Not much to report.  We had a pretty mellow day traveling east across Washington and the Idaho panhandle.  Eastern Washington was a little dry, and the scenery was a little bland.  Once into Idaho, we drove through the famous Coeur d’ Alene area, and it was nice.  We hit it around sunset, and some of the views were pretty stellar.  We rested about fifty miles into Montana near St. Regis.  Sounds like the No. 9 runs right through our campsite, so, we will see how the sleeping goes.

Coeur d’ Alene Lake at sunset

Day 10

I woke this morning at little earlier than usual, with fishing on my mind.  As expected, the train kept us awake for a lot of the night, but that’s how it goes.  I hit the Clark Fork early, and although missed a couple of fish and brought none to hand, it was a fine way to begin the drive to Livingston.  The drive was sunny (does it ever rain in the lower 48?) as usual, and with only three hundred or so miles to go, we could afford to take our time.  We stopped to fish the upper Clark Fork, but it was pretty much just a ditch, and the wind was blowing so hard it kept blowing the mosquito room over onto Mom and baby, so after a delicious PBJ, we packed up and headed on. Towards Bozeman, the scenery again changed, and it seemed as delightful as anything we had seen so far in the States. We landed in Livingston, MT pretty early in the evening, and settled into our cabin (yes, a bed) just before supper.  After a decent meal, we took a drive through some of the prettiest rolling farmland , all surrounded by mountains.  Again, I dropped the ball by leaving the camera in the room, and had a hard time getting over it.  We must have seen twenty or more mule deer and white tails, either grazing in the pastures or nearly on the road.  When we got back to the cabin, Mike Barlow, who was taking me on the Yellowstone, came over and we discussed the next day’s fishing trip.  A short night I’m sure.  I feel like a kid the night before going to Disney World.

The Clark Fork near St. Regis, MT

The view from our cabin in Livingston, MT

To the west of our cabin in Livingston

Day 11

My favorite day so far.  I rose around 4 this morning, made coffee, and gathered my fishing gear.  Mike picked me up, and we began a beautiful day of floating and fishing the Yellowstone River.  With the majestic Absaroka Mountains looming nearby, we managed a few trout, and had a glorious time.  More about this on the fishing post.  Around noon, I met back up with Bregitte and Rosie, and we made for Yellowstone National Park.  I certainly hope I never have to do it again, but we were both glad that we decided to do it.  It was kind of a game time decision, but not really out of the way, so into the park we charged.  The traffic was insane, and the first few miles seemed a little mundane as far as scenery went, but the RVs were out in full force, making mobility painfully slow.  Deep into the park we saw our first jaw-dropping scene.  Cars were backed up about twenty deep on account of a buffalo walking straight down the middle of the road!  We saw elk covering the lawn of a resort, again stopping traffic dead.  The canyon was great (considered the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone), and the driving picked up a little towards the end of the park.  From one park to another.  The Grand Teton National Park was directly south of Yellowstone, and we decided to set up camp on the scenic (I’m running out of adjectives) Snake River, another (uh-oh) famous Western Trout stream.  I fished a little, and while I got many bumps, I landed no fish.  Kind of familiar.  Gonna go out again in the morning.

Yellowstone River, Livingston, MT

The family at Yellowstone

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Big Boy

Day 12

Again woke up early this morning to, guess what?, go fishing.  Hey, we were camped on the Snake River.  The high rise of the Tetons in the distance set the scene for a perfect couple of hours of fishing.  I landed one this time, a big brown that made the day worth it.  Our first thunderstorm in years spooked the whobeat out of us the previous night, and soaked a few of our effects, so we spent a little extra time drying things out in the Wyoming sun.  Once on the road, we were ready to zip through the rest of Grand Teton National Park.  The mountain range, however, gave us pause.  The views were crazy.  The Grand Teton, which stands around 13,000 feet high, might have been the most awesome single view we have witnessed thus far.  Through the park and into Jackson, we took (I messed it up again) what turned out to be a slooooow drive over the Teton Pass.  But again, it seemed to correct itself once we drove into some pretty Idaho farmland.  Onto Salt Lake City and beyond.  The big city is not for us, but we made it through a couple of road work slow downs and such, and have arrived near Bryce Canyon in southern Utah.  A long drive was worth it, for we have a great motel room, and plan on spending a lot of time in the park tomorrow.

A nice Snake River brown

The Grand Tetons

The Grand Tetons

Day 13

The long push last night proved to make a lot of sense today.  We visited Bryce Canyon, and as it turned out, we stayed just 24 miles from the park last night, so we didn’t have to get up too early to enjoy it.  We hit the park around noon, and although it was looking busy, we could understand why.  The canyon, unlike many others in the Four Corners region, was one shaped mostly by wind, not a river.  The colors of the different sands were striking, and once again, we were able to enjoy the views on a warm, cloudless day.  Bright sun makes for dull pictures, but I assure you that it was a boldly colored scene.  We decided to take our first real hike of the trip, a 3 mile round tripper that lasted a couple of hours.  There were a lot of people on the trail, but we got used to it, and pressed on.  We stopped about halfway for a feeding and changing, and made our way back to the top in fine fashion.  Rosemary apparently enjoys the jostling of a long hike, and she slept through most of it.  We had a grand time, and left with much satisfaction, hoping that our next stop would come close to the beauty that Bryce offered.  And son, were we in for a treat.  We hit Zion National Park around 5 in the afternoon.  The drive was mind-blowing.  Again, I found my favorite place on the trip so far.  The deep reds, maroons, and orange canyon walls loomed large around the truck as we soon found ourselves on an intimate drive deep into the heart of canyon country.  Zion is unique in that a shuttle runs nearly round the clock and takes visitors all the way through the canyon, with many stops on the way.  With a two month old, this was the perfect setup to see the canyon up close while keeping us from endangering little Rosie too much.  We did take a 2 mile round trip hike to one end of the canyon, but the trail was paved the entire way, and we completed it with little trouble.  We took the walk as dark fell on the canyon, and the last 15 or 20 minutes were spent entirely by ourselves, with bats, mule deer, and a million stars to accompany us on our return.  Even though our campsite is busy and expensive, it lies in the shadows of high canyon walls, and we eagerly anticipate the sunrise.

Sunrise Overlook, Bryce Canyon, UT

Sunset Overlook, Bryce Canyon, UT

Natural Bridge, Bryce Canyon, UT

The family at Bryce Canyon

Day 14

Zion National Park has to be the most incredible thing we have experienced.  This morning, although we went back to sleep after Rosie woke up hungry (so did Dad), we witnessed a sunrise on the high rises of some of Zion’s most impressive cliffs.  We took our time eating breakfast and getting ready, and boarded the shuttle to the end of the canyon.  We made our way to Weeping Rock, where we talked with a park ranger and got some info on some of the flora and fauna of the area.  She advised us of any easy hike along the Virgin River which carved Zion Canyon.  The walk was nice and easy, the day was bright and hot, and we had a pleasant morning in Zion.  We observed some nutty rock climbers, and ambled on our way.  It pains me to say, but this was one stop where the pictures really did no justice to what we saw.  This truly is one of the great places in America to visit.  After a much needed shower, we were headed off to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.  After a short drive, we secured what we were told was the last available campsite within many mile of the Canyon.  Since we were pretty tired, and the evening young, we set up camp and attempted a nap, but Rosemary had other ideas.  To the Canyon!  We arrived there with about an hour and a half before sunset, so we checked out the digs and procured a nice place to sit and watch the sunset.  Whoa, what a sight!  The colors were brilliant, and again, the camera (or the cameraman) failed to capture the glory. This sort of concluded our canyon round robin, and although we were a little canyoned out, we couldn’t help but marvel at the land on which God has placed a special touch.  As night fell, so did the temperature.  Around 40 degrees we were told, and it felt like home.  Tonight, a great sleep, and tomorrow we go to see our buddy Jon in Polacca, AZ

Weeping Rock, Zion, UTPhotobucket

Rosemary and Dad near Weeping Rock, Zion, UT

Rock climbers at Weeping Rock, Zion, UT

North Rim, Grand Canyon

North Rim, Grand Canyon

North Rim, Grand Canyon
The family at North Rim, Grand Canyon

We were really there!

Day 15

This morning we thought we might try to find another easy hike, after all, how often will we find ourselves at the Grand Canyon?  After some tips from a park ranger, we took the Kaibab Trail, which led down into the canyon. The mile and a half going down were pretty easy, and even though a brush fire to the east obscured some of the view, we were pleased with what we saw at the overlook. After chatting with some great folks from Miami (who gave us some info on northwestern North Carolina) we began the long trek upwards. Since we started hiking around these last few days, we have again felt the impact that our little girl could have on our social life. Many hikers seem so impressed that we are taking her out into nature, and appear pleased that we are “starting her out young, huh?” After a cool down, we were back in the truck, bound for Polacca, AZ and a hot, dry drive across the desert. Jon Stucki, one of Bregitte’s good friends and my buddy as well would be our host for the evening. He is a doctor on the Hopi Indian Reservation in Polacca, and is an avid hiker. We met at his house, and immediately found ourselves driving up a steep mesa to a Hopi village. We were the only three (sorry, four) non-Natives there, but it made no difference. The village was holding a traditional dance celebration, and we couldn’t miss it. Just when we thought we had seen all we wanted, we found more. We climbed a large wooden ladder to the roof of a courtyard were the village elders as well as children, most dressed in traditional garb, we celebrating by getting down. They chanted to a steady drum beat, and the entire village seemed glued to the action. There is a sign before the village entrance requesting that no pictures be taken, and out of respect, we left the cameras in the car, so no pics, but the memory is firmly etched into our heads. Thanks, Jon, that was so cool. The rest of the evening was spent chatting and enjoying fine Alaskan fare (salmon and halibut of course) and trading pictures. Again, thanks to Jon for the warm welcome and soft bed. Tomorrow, we expect to commence the long last leg of the journey. We aren’t expecting many thrills, but we are not opposed to experiencing some new, fantastic sight, as has been the theme of the journey.

Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon

The family at Coconio Overlook, Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon

Colorado River at Marble Canyon, AZ

Vermillion Cliffs, near Marble Canyon, AZ

Vermillion Cliffs

Day 16

Quite a boring day today.  We left Polacca around 1 or 2 in the afternoon (we were never really sure what time it was in AZ, for they don’t recognize daylight savings).  More desert, and little else.  We were planning on doing maybe 3oo or so miles, but I felt pretty good, so we drove to Amarillo, where we will spend the night in a hotel.  I think we are through with the camping because it is so hot, and hotels are pretty cheap down South anyway.  Rosemary (sorry to the Grandparents in AK) is undergoing some pretty cool changes.  We are able to interact with her so much more now than before.  She tries so hard to talk to us, its almost as if we are carrying on conversations.  Its pretty neat.  Anyways, hopefully the next couple of days will be uneventful.  We are supposed to meet my Uncle Paul here in Amarillo for breakfast in the morning, so that I think will be great.

First Mesa Village, Polacca, AZ (this is where the aformentioned ceremony took place)

Sunset near Santa Rosa, NM
Frog, catching flies
Dad and Rosemary enjoying a break after a long day on the road

Days 17-23

Tuesday found us driving from a swell breakfast with my Uncle Paul in Amarillo and into Dallas at rush hour. We simply flew through one of the worst cities in which to drive, and since we were doing so well and energized, we trucked all the way to Terry, MS! 800 miles, our longest day, but we were driven. Wednesday through Monday was filled with good old fashioned family fun. We spent our first night at our dear friends’, Bradley and Janice Fulton, and most of the rest of the time at my parents. We had two delightful showers, and of course, Rosie was the star of the show. Sadly, we have to be on our way, and today, Monday, we left the ‘Sip and have arrived just miles from Chattanooga. Tomorrow, we will make our first landing at the next stage of our lives, in Boone. Thanks so much to all of the love and good times at home. Can’t wait to see all of you again.

Isabella and Rosemary

Uncle Al and Rosie

Mammaw and Rosemary

Papaw and Marmie with the little one

Mare Mare and the Frog

The Crew (most of us)

The End of the Road

We have arrived. Boone is seriously too busy, and our entrance into town was one wrought with surprise and bewilderment. The traffic was insane and it was raining, and the whole thing was a little anticlimactic. None the less, we have found a place and are beginning to settle in. School has started and it looks to be a busy semester for me. I have fished just once in the week+ that we have been here, however, once I get a routine going, we will be out and about quite a bit more. Pictures are of the house when it wasn’t raining (a rare moment).
We certainly hope those of you who followed us through these posts have enjoyed our little trip with us. Many of you we were able to talk to along the way, and it felt like we had your company, even though we have been very far away from most of you. Thank you for your prayers and support.


Little House in the Woods


From the front porch that faces the Watauga River

The Living Room


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  3. Sounds like you guys had an awsome road trip. Hope all is well and don’t worry there was only a few trout in quartz creak last hitch home. I wish I could have made that fishing trip with you before you left There is always next time. until next time good luck and god bless.

  4. Well, ya’ll finally made it! safe and sound …prayers really do work :O)
    love the look of ya’ll house…gosh ya’ll could still be in AK by the looks of it…
    we miss ya’ll every day but are happy that your next chapter is beginning.
    good luck brent with the back to school stuff…tony and i will be praying that you get back into the collegiate mode quickly.
    bregitte hope you are happily turning that nice house into a home
    and little rosemary…we miss you so much!
    anyway…thank God ya’ll are there…remember we love ya’ll an miss ya’ll
    send more pics please!!
    oh…and happy first anniversary :O)

  5. Hey!
    My mom and I are now following y'all! We check it daily and are enjoying the photos. I have been doing more viewing of the photos and less reading of the actual blog. My apologies. Rosemary's changing everyday! And of course, we are all sad we cannot see her change in front of our eyes. It looks like a lot of fun and you've got me wanting to go on a road trip! Anyhoo, I hope your journey continues to go well, give Rory a kiss for me, and tell my sister I said "ello" and we miss you all!;. All the best!!

  6. Hey!
    My mom and I are now following y’all! We check it daily and are enjoying the photos. I have been doing more viewing of the photos and less reading of the actual blog. My apologies. Rosemary’s changing everyday! And of course, we are all sad we cannot see her change in front of our eyes. It looks like a lot of fun and you’ve got me wanting to go on a road trip! Anyhoo, I hope your journey continues to go well, give Rory a kiss for me, and tell my sister I said “ello” and we miss you all!

  7. Hey guys…Man o man, what a trip!! All the pics are completely breathtaking! Sounds like Kevin B really hooked you up w/ his buddy in Yellowstone, that is awesome! I haven’t been down there since I was a kid, but it really is some beautiful countryside.
    I’m a bit worried ’bout ya tho…are you sure you are getting time to fish? LOL
    Just kidding..hehe.. We are glad to see the trip going so well, stay rested, drive safe and keep the updates coming! Bridgette and Frog, hang in there! Don’t let dad wear ya out chasing the rainbows! Take care gang…
    Matt and Crew.

  8. hello again ya’ll…
    it’s great to get the phone calls from the road…coz we miss ya lots but are glad that ya’ll are having great travels.

    Happy 2 months to that little frogger from ak granma and grandpa!

    and a hellooooooooo to mr davo! we miss him alot too!

  9. Excellent pics, We are glad to hear the trip is going well and appreciate the updates with photos!! Real cool! Looks like little “Frog” attracts bears….Yikes!
    Everyone at home and work asks how you all are and if I have heard from ya.
    You guys be super careful and get to N.C. safe, all the rest is a bonus! Enjoy yourselves and take care, we’ll be thinking about ya!!
    The Trasks

  10. Looks like good weather. Little rosie looks content on the road. That’s a killer pic of y’all in the bucket of the excavator. Y’all drive safe. Take more pics!!

    And hello to all the peeps I know reading this. Special shout out to the Alaskan grandma!! How are you?

  11. hey man!
    gosh these are great pictures…so glad ya’ll are having some fun…and i’m sure rosemary is just crying about having to leave us here in alaska :o(
    anyway…stay safe have fun
    heloo and much love to bregitte

    love ya miss ya

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