Monday, August 27, 2007

The Boys

So, I am back in Virginia and so homesick for Alaska! I especially miss the boys and Gwen. I met some amazing people this summer. It's tough to be back in Northern Virginia after spending the summer on the highway and in Eagle. I loved it! I thought I would post pics of some of the great people I worked with. Tyler is on the left. He's a great guy! He'll do anything to help you out and is so much fun to hang out with!

I wish I had pictures of Kevin that show him doing something more interesting than working on the computer. Kevin is hilarious and smart and is tons of fun! Of course, everything he says offends me. (That's just for you, Kevin. :) )

Here's almost the same picture as above, but Kevin needs to be featured twice so he knows how much I love him. :)

I'll see if I can track down pictures of Mike and Jake and Gwen and post them. I already posted pictures of the twins.

I love the boys and Gwen. They're amazing people. The people I worked with were the best part of my summer. I miss them a lot. I got to chat with Tyler, Kevin, and Jake today and it made a rough day into a great day.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The End of Summer

Well, I'm in Idaho. I left Alaska four days early because my grandmother died (not the one that died in April, my other grandmother) and I was fortunate enough to get to be here when my sister had her baby! She and her husband have a beautiful little baby girl named Kaitlyn. She's just adoreable! Although I'm very homesick for Alaska, I'm really glad I got to be here for my sister. Now Taylor Jo has a baby sister and she's really excited and we're excited for her. I brought my camera to the hospital earlier but I forgot it when I made my second trip here and Sara and Kaitlyn were actually awake and I could have gotten pictures. Todd has taken a bunch, though, so I'm sure he'll be happy to show off his newest baby girl.

I fly back tomorrow to DC. I'm not excited at all. I have been so happy in Alaska and at home and the thought of getting on the plane tomorrow is just depressing. :(

I'll post pictures of Kaitlyn as soon as I get some from Todd.

Friday, August 17, 2007

My Last Eagle Tour of Summer 2007

(Note: These pictures are going to be a little disjointed.) Today I came back from my last highway tour. I knew when I came up here that leaving would be hard. I knew that it would be really hard. Now that it's here, I don't know how I'm going to do it. I've been so happy here. The thought of leaving has brought back the migraines I'd been having before I came up here. I have so many dear friends here. I love what I do. I love Alaska. My dearest wish is to fly back to Virginia, pack up my car, and come back here. I have great friends helping me look for jobs here for the next school year. I was going to have one more Eagle tour, but I'm going home for four days for family stuff then it's back to Virginia on the 26th. I leave here on the 21st. It's heartbreaking. I got to the boat landing in Eagle and broke down crying. Fortunately, I'd pulled it together before my guests got off the boat. Leaving was so hard. When we got to Tok, Robin told me goodbye and I teared up in front of my guests. The funny thing was, we had passed an RV within inches right before we got to Chicken and people were telling me how well I'd done on the road, so it looked like I was tearing up over their comments. :-) After saying goodbye to Shannon, the bartender, I went to bed and cried myself to sleep. I can't believe I won't be going back to see Chris waiting to help with the luggage or hang out with Shannon and Ditty and the other drivers and tour directors in the lounge. I can't believe I won't stand on the banks of the Yukon and watch it flow by. I can't believe I won't see Kate and Andy at the boat and give them hugs as they come in from Dawson. I can't believe I won't be "mad" at Matt or Jake for not hiking the bluff with me. I can't believe how much I'll miss everyone here. How am I going to leave?

I was on my way to the campground when I came across this area. It looks like Eagle's recreation site. It looked like people had been out playing on their four wheelers. Too bad it wasn't me out playing on the four wheeler! :-)
We saw the Alaska Range this morning. You never see the Alaska Range. It's always clouded over. We had to stop and get pictures. I just wish I had a better camera so you could really see how beautiful it was.

Another shot of the Alaska Range.

We stop at Gold Dredge #8 in Fox in the morning on our way to Tok and in the afternoon on our way back from Tok.

My baby (883) took good care of me. Wow, the road was muddy!!

One of the homes in Eagle.

The front entrance to the school in Eagle.

Eagle's post office. The postmaster was (and I think still is) a very important person in Eagle.

Tyler made a phone call from this phone when we were in Eagle. I had no idea it actually worked!

The Eagle Cemetary. I have been wondering where it was because I've been reading a book called "Jewel on the Yukon" which is all about the history of Eagle. The cemetary is mentioned, but I didn't know where it was. Now I know. :)

The high school parking lot. :-)

Okay, so we're out in the bush but this light post looks like it could be in front of any school in the Lower 48. You would probably have had to be in Eagle to understand the great irony of this light post.

I like this sign much better than the signs you see in the Lower 48 as you're driving away from public schools.

This is the hotel I stay in when I'm in Eagle. I'm homesick for Eagle already.

A basketball hoop.

This is the sign you see as you enter the school zone. All schools should have signs like this. It has personality. It's not just boring yellow and black or white and black.

This is the stop sign as you're leaving the school. Try getting away with this in Northern Virginia!

Here's the school in Eagle. It's very modern and very nice looking from the outside. I was talking with a lady who said it's even nicer on the inside.

This is Kitty. She's so funny!

A dredge bucket. These things weigh 1500 pounds so once you have one in place, you don't move it. You just find a use for it.

Jessica and Emma, two of Eagle's Historical Society tour guides. They're so cute! I love them and I'll miss them. The Eagle Mall is in the background.

Downtown Eagle looking toward the bluff. That's the restaurant where I ate dinner and breakfast and the store behind that where we stopped on our way out of Eagle. Wow, what I wouldn't give to be there talking to Robin and waiting to drive the Taylor.

The Westmark Hotel

This is the view to my right. Sorry the pictures are a little blurry. I didn't want the people around me to think I was some crazy stalker, taking random pictures of the lobby of a hotel. But this is where I've sat to do all my blog posts, and so I had to share the view with all of you.

This is across from me.

This is to my left.The lady standing up on the right is Australian and has a great accent and was asking the lady sitting down about Thanksgiving. She said she had always been curious about that holiday. It was interesting to sit and listen to someone ask questions about American culture.

I'm in love

I finally got to run with my friend Tyler. He calls me Rachiepoo. :-) I'm okay with it. I feel loved. Oh, and Scott, I had a guest who called me Taters when he found out I was from Idaho. I loved it. I thought it was so funny that he would come up with THAT!

Anyway, here is the token shot of my motorcoach. I don't know if you can tell how dirty it is from this picture, but it was pretty filthy. Tyler and I got the coaches clean pretty quick, though.

This is Jerry Nelson. He is the mayor of Eagle. He is also the branch president for the local LDS church. The membership includes him and his wife. They are really great people. Brother Nelson took Tyler and me four-wheeling. Little did I know that I love it! I had no idea! I've found a new passion! I'm in love!

This is Spider, the Nelson's dog. We are up on Telegraph hill, which is about as high as the Bluff, but a much easier climb on a four-wheeler. Eat your hearts out, Matt and Jake!

This is Tyler, who I adore!

This is the view from Telegraph Hill. It's beautiful!

This is a further back picture of the same shot, I realized after I uploaded the pictures. But since I have two other posts to update, I'm just going to leave them. You get the idea.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Taylor Highway

I'm sitting, yet again, in the lobby of the lovely Westmark hotel in Fairbanks. I got back late last night from deadheading in from Eagle. (Deadheading means you're driving an empty coach. Once in a while it happens that two tours are scheduled to go in but only one is scheduled to come from Dawson and so Matt (yes, hot, twin Matt) got the tour and I got to deadhead.) I wasn't too thrilled at first, but then I realized I would get to go to church AND I would be able to get a lot of pictures.

This first one is a very rare sight in the summer in Alaska: a sunset. This was taken about 45 minutes from Fairbanks overlooking the Tanana River. It's without the flash
Here's the same picture taken with the flash. Oops. The color was more what I saw in this picture with the flash, but the one without the flash was clearer. I couldn't decide which to put on the blog, so I decided to go with both. :)

This is the Robertson River, about 45 minutes outside of Tok.

This is the Alaska Highway just before Tetlin Junction. Tetlin Junction will take you to Eagle.

Where to go? Where to gooooo???



How about let's go to Eagle. I took a picture of this sign because there is a herd of 30,000 caribou that migrate through the Fortymile. We saw a few of them on Polly Summit. In fact, my tour director, Jordan, was using the facilities (i.e. peeing in the bushes) when a caribou walked through the bushes about ten feet in front of him and scared him to death! :)

These little sand dunes line the road for the first couple miles of the Taylor. People like to get out and write messages on them.

This is Mt. Fairplay. The first 62 miles of the Taylor are paved and so there aren't very many pictures of it because it's not that much fun to drive. :) But it's pretty.

Here is a view of chicken from the road. Since I've already posted pictures of downtown Chicken, I didn't take any more.

There are two signs that look like this on the Taylor. One on this side of Chicken and one on the other side.

Here is one side of the road on one of the switchbacks.

Matt asked if I would park so that his people could get a picture of my motorcoach. He's on one side of the switchback and I'm on the other. What he didn't know is that I had been trying to get this picture for the whole drive. I just played it real cool, though, when he asked me to pause for the picture. It was quite entertaining for me to think of all those people getting a picture of me while I was getting a picture of them!! :)

Here's the switchback. It's hard to get a really good picture of how narrow it is. People always wonder if the motorcoach can make it around. It's fun. :)

These are the oxbow lakes.

This picture is from the goat trail. It's called the goat trail because it's nice and narrow. I took this picture because the original "All American Trail" that the gold miners followed went through this valley. You can actually see part of that old trail, but my picture didn't come out very well. :(

This is the Jack Wade Dredge. It ran from 1959 to 1964. It used 1500 cords of wood per season until they converted it to diesel. They took out $40,000 in gold every two weeks.

This is the intersection on the Taylor. The one and only intersection.

This is the sign that directs you to Tok and Fairbanks or over Top of the World to Dawson.

Here's the junction.

I realized that the pictures I got of the road make it look really straight when it's really not. There are some straighter areas but a lot of it is switchbacks and mountain passes on a dirt road. I love the Taylor Highway!!

Just a nice view from the highway.

Who the heck gets their mail in the middle of nowhere???

We use this mailbox sometimes if we have guests with a birthday or anniversary. We'll give the pilot car driver, Robin, whatever it is we have for the guest. He drops it in the mailbox and then we slow down and get it as we drive by. The guests love it!

I have no idea why there is a mailbox here because it is literally in the middle of nowhere.

There is a sign before this section of road that says "One Land Road Ahead." The great irony is that almost all of the Taylor is basically a one lane road.

What the heck kind of corner is that anyway? No gentle curves on this stretch of road!

Here is the construction workers camp. Yes, I had a hard time believing that people actually lived out on the Taylor highway, but they do!

This stretch of road is down in the valley heading up toward American Summit.

This is one of three somewhat straight stretches of road. This is up on American Summit.

This is the liquor store on American Summit. I took a picture of it because it has a fun story. Eagle is a damp town, so you can't buy or sell alcohol there. However, you can bring it in. They say that in the wintertime, one of the residents of Eagle is selected to take his snowmachine, attach a sled to it, and ride up to American Summit, load the sled with alcohol, and bring it back into Eagle. Hey, you make your own fun when you're in the middle of nowhere!!

One of the views from American Summit.

The road coming down from American Summit into Eagle.

So, I'm known as the slowest driver on the Taylor highway, and I like that. I discovered, however, that when I'm deadheading, I'm not a very slow driver so I took a picture of Matt's dust because I was eating it the whole drive from Eagle to Chicken!

So, I pulled up in front of the store in Eagle to wait until Matt had all of his guests. Well, Matt wasn't parked where he should have been and so I had to figure out where to park and then Matt told me I looked nice and so everything I needed to do (like going to my hotel room and grabbing my suitcase) went right out of my head. About seven miles down the road, I remembered my suitcase. Robin went and got it for me, but it held up Matt's tour. I felt AWFUL!!!! I tried to make it up to him later, however. But I'm not going to tell you how. Hee hee hee.

This is the Yukon river from downtown Eagle. It's so peaceful there. I put a chair outside of my hotel room and just sat and read and watched the Yukon go by.

Another shot of the beautiful Yukon river. I head back out to Eagle tomorrow and I can't wait. I get really ancy (is that how you spell it?) when I'm in Fairbanks and I count the days until I'm back out on the highway. Tomorrow I'm heading out with Jake, who is very cool, and so it should be a great run.