A Little More Interesting Week

Well, it’s been a little more interesting the past week or so. Neil won the  drink of the day at the Elks 2 times last week and then we served as cashier and doorman for the Friday Night Fish Fry at the lodge as well. Sold another 112 meals putting about 1,000 bucks into the coffers of the lodge and maybe 600-700 after paying expenses…with another 40something bucks into the Tip basket which goes for the Volunteer Appreciation Meal later on in the spring…hopefully before we leave on April 15. 

Connie’s really been putting in the hours at her job for NVCC both this pay period and last…it’s the busy time of the year with her trying to get clinical sites arranged for 3 classes for the spring and summer. She’s actually going to run out of hours this pay period before the end of the period…no telling whether she’ll actually stop working or not.

Neil heard back from Ann and Roy Brody who are running the NHOG (New Horizons Owners Group) rally in Chattanooga in mid May…he had offered to do a presentation on “how to fix your broken slide bolts when they break” and will be adding a few other relatively common maintenance items that can be easily accomplished if one has even average mechanical skills and save yourself some money. Beyond that…Connie’s been working hard on finding campsites for our upcoming travel season…Neil got the route all laid out and she’s picking campsites and verifying that we’re in each place long enough to see stuff but not so long we run out of things we want to do.

Other than that…pretty much nuttin’ goin’ on. Neil continues to whittle down his winter maintenance list…all the big stuff is done except he has a box of photos that he needs to scan…these are all from the pre-digital camera days so it’s a matter of just repetitively scanning the prints into jpeg files for use online or otherwise.

He also had to buy himself a new Macbook Pro laptop…the old one died on him. It’s been periodically failing to wake from sleep ever since it was new…he always thought it had crashed and just rebooted and didn’t worry about it. Turns out that it’s actually a video problem for which there’s an extended repair program even though it’s out of warranty. He found out by accident last week that it was just the screen not coming up but the computer itself was still running so he could remote control it from his iPad. A little research on google revealed the existence of the repair extension program…so he ordered the shipping box to send it in for repair. However…it takes like 2 weeks and he didn’t want to be out of a computer that long. So taking that into account…along with the old one being 4 years old and having all the letters worn off the key…he just bought himself a new one from the local Apple store. Shipped the old one off today and assuming they fix it he’ll just put it on Craigs List and sell it for whatever a 4 year old MBP is worth and use the money to defray the cost of the new one a little. 

We went over to Gail and Frank’s house (friends from the Elks Lodge) last Saturday…for a Just for the heck of it party. Gail made way too much food…Frank dragged out way too many different kinds of liquor and a good time was had by all. We were almost the last ones that left and headed out at the late hour of 2030…us retired people don’t stay out too late any more I guess.

A couple cute photos we found on the web this week.

Perspective is very important.

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GermanNoScrabble

Ya woulda thunk that the prophet would know about these things.

Prophecy Class

And for our friends up in the north land…be glad ya ain’t here. I know there’s a train track under there on the North Dakota plains somewhere.

TrainUnderHereSomewhere

Gotta tell ya…grand baby Alex is getting pretty smart. The other day while his granny who watches him during the day was in the kitchen…he grabbed her phone and called his grand dad…he knew who he wanted to talk to.

Cyas.

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Is This The Fastest Manmade Object Ever?

Hiya…Kara here. Since Gunther didn’t have much to say about our ongoing winter stop here in North Fort Myers I figgered I should try to edumacate ya’ll just a bit. Besides…I wuz bored.

Let’s ponder the question of “What’s the fastest manmade object ever?”

Like many of you…I had long thought based on reading it both on the web and in other credible media sources that the fastest objects ever created by mankind was Voyager I which was launched way back in 1977…it’s now past the outer reaches of the solar system in interstellar space and is traveling at 38,610 mph. This was just something I’ve known for a long time it seems like. Then out of the blue…into my email pops a reference to an article about a nuclear powered manhole cover…so I read the reference article and sure enough…it claims that the story is true and that it went down like this.

Back in the early days of nuclear warhead testing…everything was tested above ground…which as you know leaves a lot to be desired as it allows the immediate radiation of the blast to go out and do radiation things to nearby people and/or wildlife. In addition there’s that whole pesky radioactive fallout problem. Short tangential note…most people think that radiation and contamination are the same thing but they are two distinctive things. Radiation is stuff like gamma rays, neutrons, and alpha particles and contamination or fallout is normal stuff that is penetrated by the radiation…this results in what nuclear scientists call activation where the normally non radioactive dirt sucks up a gamma or neutron and gets turned into something that will decay radioactively. It’s a poor analogy…but think of it like poo and smell…the smell is similar to the radiation and the poo is the stuff that sticks to your shoe when you walk through the cow pasture.

Anyway…due to the radiation and fallout problems those smart scientists wondered if they could do underground testing instead…thereby keeping the radiation from getting out as it’s attenuated by the dirt and the radioactivity from getting out as it’s buried…well, last least as long as the blast doesn’t open up the surface which is usually the case. The problem is that back in the early days they set off lots of warheads to study how they went off, what sort of particles they produced and other weapons related topics…so they weren’t sure how their instrumentation would work for underground tests or if they needed to build something different. Being good engineers…they decided to conduct some tests…and came up with a series of tests under an operation called Plumbbob. Two thirds or so through the 29 warhead testing series they had a warhead named Pascal-A where they bored a 4 foot diameter 500 foot deep hole and put a small nuclear warhead (well, it was small as nukes go but in real terms was pretty darned big at a yield of 55 tons of TNT). Leaving the hole open they backed away and set it off…resulting in the world’s largest Roman Candle as blue flames rushed out of the open hole. Their instrumentation seemed to work OK though…so they went on and built a larger 300 ton warhead (or so they thought) named Pascal-B.

For Pascal-B they decided to cap the hole since some of the radiation and radioactive fallout came out the shaft…see the world’s largest Roman Candle above. So they lowered the warhead to the bottom of their 500 foot deep shaft, plugged the shaft with a 5 foot thick concrete plug, and welded a steel plate 4 feet in diameter and 4 inches thick to the top of the shaft…the plate weighed about 1,900 pounds. They weren’t sure whether the cap would stay on so they aimed a 160 frame per second movie camera at the plate with a vertical field of view at the plate of about 1/4 of a mile or 1,320 feet. Backing further away than they did for Pascal-A…they again set it off. Just a small amount of smoke and debris were visible coming out of the shaft so they declared the test a success…and went back to the lab to review the film.

Unfortunately…on review of the film it turned out that it showed them exactly nothing. In one frame the cover is there, intact, and no visible evidence of the detonation at the surface is visible…in the next frame 1/160 of a second later the plate is just gone…analysis of the top of the shaft later revealed that the plate was gone. No trace of the plate or the concrete plug which was about 10 feet from the warhead was ever found.

So think about this…what you have here is a nuclear powered potato gun. A 500 foot long 4 foot diameter barrel aiming straight up and set off 300 tons equivalent (it was actually more depending on which scientific analysis of the test you read on the web…it’s a deep rathole:-) of TNT at the bottom. The temperature and immediate radiation of the blast vaporizes the concrete into plasma (really hot gas) which then expands up the barrel toward the cap. Naturally the welded down cap pops off and is propelled upward.

Now remember that the camera was 160 frames per second which means that since the cap was visible in one frame and gone in the next it went a quarter mile in 1/160 of a second. Doing the math this means the cap was doing at least 144,000 mph when it departed the top of the shaft…or 45 miles per second.

I decided to check this out and did a little googling…and I told you it was a very deep rathole didn’t I…there are numerous web pages on the web dealing with both this test, it’s possible speed, what happened to it, did it get into orbit and tangentially what are the fastest manmade objects.

First off…turns out that Voyager isn’t even close, it’s only in 3rd place at best. Both Helios 1 and Helios 2 which were solar probes in the 1970s achieved higher velocities…142,000 and 157,000 mph respectively as they passed perigee near the sun as they orbited it in elliptical fashion. So so much for Voyager’s relatively pedestrian 38,000 mph.

Following the rathole farther…there’s considerable reason to believe that the 144,000 mph speed of the shaft cap from Pascal-B was a minimum speed and not a maximum speed. Because of the way high speed movie shutters worked back then…the difference between the end of one frame and the beginning of the next could have been as little as 1/320 of a second…which would mean that the cap departed the shaft at up to 288,000 mph. The camera wasn’t fast enough to capture the plate in flight so more precise calculations are impossible…so we’ll stick with the speed of the cap (or manhole cover in internet legend-speak) as minimums. Even the 144,000 number is over 6 times the escape velocity for the earth.

Since no trace of the cap was ever found and it was most likely ejected straight upwards…what happened to it. Four possibilities come to mind from perusing the internet…it went into interplanetary space, it went into orbit, it crashed, or it burned up.

Interplanetary space can’t be ruled out except by inference. Recall (or maybe you don’t recall…but it’s readily googleable) that meteors are traveling at about 66,000 mph as they enter the atmosphere and you know what happens to them, right? They burn up…or at least slow way down so that they crash into the earth. Would 1,900 odd pounds of flat plate steel burn up or maintain enough speed to escape earth’s gravity? Nobody knows. Would the friction/air compression deform the plate into a teardrop shaped and more aerodynamic shape so as to cut down on heating/slowing? Probably but again nobody knows. 

Orbit can pretty much be eliminated as the departure trajectory of straight up (or nearly so depending on how it tumbled) is the wrong direction. Orbital launch trajectories go up and then gradually fall over to the almost horizontal so that the velocity at orbit is parallel to the earth’s surface and hence the orbiting object continually falls around the earth.

Crash…yeah, that coulda happened and just nobody found it but lack of finding it doesn’t provide evidence that it didn’t happen.

Burning up/coming apart is the most likely result from analysis of the pages I found…while it’s initial velocity might have been 45 (or 90 if you buy the 1/320 of a second argument) miles per second…but it surely didn’t stay at that velocity very long. Even in the first half second as it passed through the majority of the atmosphere it slowed down a lot and remember it was doing 2-4 times the speed of a meteor and was transiting much denser portions of the atmosphere…most meteors burn up at >50 miles in altitude.

Some of the rathole even suggested that this was the first object in space…thereby beating out the Soviet Sputnik 1 which was orbited later in 1957…but even Sputnik wasn’t the first object in first, it was just the first orbital object in space. The first object in space…generally defined as being above 100 km or 62 miles in altitude…was the German V2 rocket first launched in the 1940s…they reached 170 miles in altitude before crashing into London and the surrounding area.

If you’re really, really, really bored…here are a couple of links you can look at…but I gotta warn you it’s a deep, deep rathole.

http://savvyparanoia.com/the-fastest-man-made-object-ever-a-nuclear-powered-manhole-cover-true/

http://themysteriousworld.com/top-10-fastest-man-made-objects-ever/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plumbbob#Pascal-A

Personally I found the whole exercise intellectually stimulating, educational as I thought Voyager was the fastest object ever, and interesting reading for an hour or so.

You can thank me for the edumacation later:-)

OK, a couple of funnies for ya and I gotta go.

Now its your chair

The I in Team

Engineering Flow Chart

We have eaglets…two of ‘em. E7 and E8 were born on January 26 and 27 respectively and are now being brooded and fed by Harriet and dad M15. I’m sure that the adults are happy that the rainy weather of the past 2.5 days is over and although it’s cool today in the mid 60s…the sun is out and it’s gotta be a lot warmer for the babies. The eaglets will grow quickly and by the time they fledge 80 days or so into life they’ll be physically as large as M15 at least.

Cyas.

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Dang It’s Rained a Lot

I gotta tell ya…it’s been raining an awful lot since the New Year down here in sunny SW FL. Lots of high wind numbers too…in the previous 3 years we’ve stayed here we’ve had to bring in the awning maybe 3 times total but we’re already up to 3 this year alone and still another 2.5 months to go. We’ve also had at least 2 tornados on the ground near us the past month and another half dozen tornado warnings/watches a bit farther out. They do have some tornados down here in the summer usually…but in the wintertime they’re pretty rare around these parts…I have no idea what’s going on.

Other than the weather…we’ve pretty much just been doing daily life with nothing really important to talk about…about the only different thing is that Harriet and her new beau M15 mated and laid 2 eggs back in mid December and the first one hatched yesterday with the second one apparently in the “imminently hatching” phase. You can check out the progress at the SW Florida Eagle Cam.

Anyhoos…we’ve also been down to the Elks a lot the past couple of weeks…what with chicken on Monday night (we ate once and cashiered another night), Bingo on Tuesday, Connie had her regional meeting down there which had her down on Wednesday and Thursday and fish on Friday (again ate once and cashiering this week). Tacos tomorrow night maybe as well. The good thing is that Neil keeps winning the free drink ticket, they drew his letter L for another free drink one day, and he keeps getting freebies for schlepping empty beer kegs to the back and bringing full ones out. Brews at the Elks are cheap already and all the freebies lower the average cost as well. 

We did get a couple of cute photos comparing human kid Bryan and grand baby Alex yesterday…in both of these Bryan is on the left and Alex on the right at about the same age. I guess it’s pretty clear from these photos that (a) Jen wasn’t foolin’ around with anybody else and (b) Jen, like her mother in law Connie…was just a vessel for the cloning as Neil’s baby picture looks pretty much the same. As Darth Vader would say (cue deep breathy voice here)…”The genes are strong in this one Luke.”

Clearly in this first one each of them got caught (again!) doing something they know they’re not supposed to be doing.

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Bryan’s here was taken in our backyard in San Diego I’m pretty sure…his favorite tree is out of frame to the left.

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We had Gordon the RV repair guy by earlier in the week…our toilet seal started leaking and since Neil “doesn’t do plumbing” we farmed that job out to him. He did a minor repair job to the underneath of our bedroom near the kingpin…we banged it into the bedrail on BAT in Tennessee of all places…all the way through Alaska with no damage other than the expected minor paint/fiberglass dings on the lower front but in Tennessee we were making a sharp turn in Cove Mountain campground and dropped the inside wheels of the trailer off the pavement and onto the grass…maybe a 2 inch drop but it rocked the rig enough so that with the truck cranked way around to get around the curve the underneath hit the rail. New Horizons sent us a replacement piece…which UPS damaged even though the shipping was more than the cost of the part…but we got it refunded and New Horizons settled up with UPS…Neil was able to rescue enough (about 6 inches) of the twisted into a pretzel shape new part to cut out and replace the damaged piece on the old part. It’s just a trim strip between the main body of the rig and the nose cap…mostly it’s there to cover the seam and keep water out and it looking purdy anyway. The repair doesn’t look nearly as nice as the whole new strip would have looked…but that’s life I guess. One would think that the 8 inch diameter half inch thick cardboard shipping tube that New Horizons packed it in would have survived the package smashing machine…but one would think wrong.

Our travel plans for this season are well underway…we’ve got our route planned out and after leaving here mid April we’ll end up in Chattanooga for the New Horizons Owners Group rally in mid May…then onward via Midlothian VA (grand baby Alex time for grandma) and Manassas VA (dental, eye check for Neil and meet with the financial guys) to upstate NY, Boston, and Boothbay ME to Nova Scotia. We’ll spend 2.5 months up in the Maritimes checking stuff out before returning to the US just before Labor Day…then heading southward again.

Cyas.

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More Friends and National Championship Football

We continued our visits with Bill and Linda over the past week…alternating cooking dinners and eating out at a couple of local hangouts…the Nauti Parrot and the Elks Lodge for the fried fish dinner. Neil made a scrumptious scallop dish for us one night out of scallops we hauled back from Alaska and Linda really outdid herself last night with a grilled pork tenderloin and baked taters. We polished off the entire thing and then had Italian Wedding Cake from the Publix supermarket bakery…I tell ya Neil slaved over the hot stove for hours making that thing:-)

Last night was the National Championship football game between Alabama and Clemson…and as expected the Tide came out on top again. We definitely won the fourth quarter and while Clemson’s quarterback threw for a bunch of yards and a few touchdowns…at the end our D was just a little better than their offense was. Add in that Clemson really had no answer for our Heisman winning back Derrick Henry;they stopped him on some plays but he ended up with 158 yards and three scores…and the 3 long passes for 2 scores to our tight end and we came out on top 45-40 and it was actually 45-33 until Clemson scored in garbage time at the end of the game. Henry’s third score with under 2 minutes in the game and a near 100 yard kickoff return for a score earlier in the 4th quarter were the difference.

The bookies had it just about right…the line on the game was Bama by 7 and we won by either 5 or 12 depending on whether you count the  garbage time score. We’ve got a couple of jerks at the Elks that were all over being Michigan State fans last week and Clemson fans this week…so Connie and Neil are going to Bingo tonight in full Tide regalia just to rub it in. We promise to be nice about it…not.

It’s kinda nice to have another football season end with the Tide on top…and talk about first world problems, here’s one for ya.

Saban vs Bear

Bill and Linda headed off this morning for Tampa to see the RV Show there and also a couple of old friends. Then they’ll head generally back home to NC…we’ll see them again in mid May at the New Horizons Owners Group (NHOG) rally in Chattanooga…and depending on their caravan schedule for the Canadian Maritimes we may cross paths while we’re up there separately from the caravan.

Couple funnies for ya today.

Why do people choose stupid

KFC Witness Protection Program

Neil found this list on the web as well last week. We’re big fans of NCIS…Gibbs actually started as a bit character on an earlier program named JAG before his character was spun off into his own show. Ya know how Gibbs is always quoting “the rules”? Well, here they are…somebody compiled them for us.

Gibb s rules

Anyhoos…that’s about it for now. Just wanted to post something so ya’ll would know we’re still alive.

Cyas.

 

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Hanging Out with Friends

We’ve been hanging out with our friends Bill and Linda the last couple of days…they arrived on New Years Day and came over for some grilled Polish Sausage from Delta Meats up in Alaska and football. We grilled, chatted, ate and polished the evening off with some caramel pecan brownies that Neil made.

Saturday they came over again and we did some work on both our 5ver and then went over and did some work on theirs. Replaced door locks on both, fixed a bad water valve on ours; and took a look at their sticking bathroom door but decided we didn’t have the right tool (a plane) to properly fix it. Neil and Bill did talk about what he needed to do but he’ll have to get some help from a woodworker friend back up at their home in NC. After that we had some grilled steaks and the rest of the brownies over at their rig which is about a mile east of us in Upriver Campground.

Sunday afternoon they came over again and Neil made some gumbo…he had used the remains and bone from our Christmas Honey Baked Ham to make some excellent stock. A little onion, celery and bell pepper, some flour and olive oil to make a nice roux…a couple of sliced up Andouille sausages…and then added the stock, some extra chicken stock…and a couple of tablespoons of file powder of course since it wouldn’t be gumbo without file…and let it simmer awhile. Served over rice with some nice Merlot and ice cream for dessert and it was pretty good.

Monday we had arranged to go see the new Star Wars movie Episode 6: The Force Awakens. We saw the first 3 movies released in the franchise…the original Episode 4 and also Episodes 5 and 6…but had not seen Episodes 1 through 3. The Force Awakens is Episode 6…essentially the whole franchise is a trilogy of trilogies with the middle three being issued first and covering a net time period of about 10 years or so. Episodes 1-3 were released next and are set about 60 years before the original Episode 4. Episode 7 picks up about 10 or 15 years after Episode 6.

What struck us most was the that Episode 7 is almost a remake of the original Episode 4…the names and characters are different but largely the plot is the same as the original. The original Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker make appearances. Same scrolling credits back to the background…same great music and lots of stuff getting blown up.

I don’t to have too many spoilers for those of you who may not have seen it yet…but at the last scene Chewbacca and the Millennium Falcon jump at light speed to a distant planet in a galaxy far far away…and land on this small island. As the aerial shot zoomed around the island…Connie and Neil turned to each other and said “we recognize that island”. After the Falcon landed the heroine went climbing up these stone stairs and we said “we have climbed those stairs”…and then there was the climactic scent at the top with the heroine and somebody you will recognize from an earlier episode…and again we said “we’ve stood right there”. Sure enough…the final scene was filmed on Skellig Michael off the southwest tip of Ireland…as you’ll recall we visited it in summer 2014 on our Ireland travels. The monastery, the stone steps, the beehive huts…all were very familiar looking to us.

Here’s where the final scene was filmed. The two shots are taken from opposite sides of the same little grassy area…the first one is looking north towards Little Skellig Michael and the second one was taken with Neil standing right at he bottom of the wall you can see in the first shot.

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For the climactic scene…the camera was positioned a little to the right of where this shot was taken from with the heroine up by the wall and the character you’ll recognize from an earlier episode was standing near the wall to the left. Connie was really impressed that we had already been there.

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Tomorrow Bill and Linda are seeing some other friends while Connie works…then we’ll do the normal choir practice/computer club thing on Tuesday afternoon and then Bingo. Wednesday we’ll meet up with our friend Sandy from the Alaska trip along with Bill and Linda for dinner somewhere. Don’t know quite yet what the later stages of the week will bring…but we’ll figure out something.

Cyas.

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2015 Year in Review

Well…another travel season is in the books…our longest yet. We’ve now been on the road 4 travel seasons and are in the midst of our 4th over-winter at Seminole Campground in beautiful North Fort Myers.

This area has really grown to be a favorite of ours…after our first winter with Connie singing in the choir at St. Andrews and finding the director a little free form for her taste we moved the second year over to St. Therese parish which is closer anyway and she likes the choir director much better. In addition…the pastor is nicer and it’s much less of a mega-church feel than we had the first year. We went ahead and joined St. Therese this year as parish members since we found out that they were happy to have part time residents as members. What with the church, Neil joining the Elks Lodge here instead of maintaining membership back in the Fairfax VA lodge it’s really more of a winter home while full timing than just another place to visit.

When we departed here last April 1…we journeyed up the east coast with stops in Jacksonville; Parris Island, SC; Camp Lejeune, NC: and Dam Neck, VA…all at military base campgrounds…before arriving in the Richmond VA area where we stayed at Pocahontas State Park again…and visited grand baby Alex along with his parents for a few days. From there it was off to the RV-Dreams Reunion Rally in Marion NC before we set off our trip to Alaska.

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After the really we headed up through NC and WV to Elkhart IN for some trailer brake repairs before heading up through Illinois and Wisconsin to Minneapolis NN…where we stayed at the KOA for a few days and visited Minneapolis and St. Paul. From there we continued into North Dakota with a stop at the Teddy Roosevelt National Grasslands near Medora ND…boondocking at a very nice park near the river than continued north into Saskatchewan Canada then made our way westward through Edmonton to the starting point for our 60 day Alaska Caravan in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Along the way we met up with our friends Bill and Linda Napier in Langham SK and traveled with them for the remainder of our transit to Dawson Creek and then on the Alaska caravan.

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We spent the next 60 days traveling about 5,000 miles in total through Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon Canada as well as Alaska…we had a total of 8 border crossings to/from Alaska and Canada while on the trip. For those of you who’re considering taking an RV trip to Canada…we can highly recommend it. However…before you decide to go on a caravan or go on your own there are a couple of other things you need to take into consideration.

The first decision is whether to even do it with a caravan. The pros of doing so are that you’re not completely alone on the road and that somebody else has made the campground reservations for you. The cons of doing so are that you end up traveling a high percentage of the time…for our trip it was 32 travel days out of the 60 total…and since you have a schedule to keep staying longer in one place just isn’t in the cards.

The second decision is which caravan company to go with…we went with what is supposedly the least structured caravan company in the business and it was way, way too structured. In addition…in our opinion the trek master (who was also the company owner) played favorites with campground site assignments and did not really do enough to justify the hefty profit margin he collected.

For our money…you’re better off going on your own…particularly if you’re capable of changing your own flat tire on the trailer or truck if need be and if you’re a reasonably experienced RVer…I would say that if you’ve been full timing for 2 years you have plenty of experience to take on this trip on your own. The roads are actually pretty good…much better than some RVers who had not been to Alaska warned us about. Gas/diesel fuel, campgrounds, groceries and internet availability are generally available pretty much everywhere.

The biggest drawback to the caravan style is that it’s much more of a “If it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium.” sort of tour and not a leisurely trip in your RV. Sure…it’s a lot of miles and you will have to travel more than you really might want to in order to get the miles done…but of the 32 travel days we had the about 20 of them had the problem exacerbated by scheduled afternoon and evening activities. This meant that if you weren’t on the road by 0830 in the morning the tail gunner was knocking on your door telling you that it was time for you to get on the road…with a pretty good number of rigs being out of the campground by 0630. If you want to be able to enjoy your coffee before hitting the road…then maybe a caravan isn’t for you. A goodly number of these scheduled activities turned out to actually be no cost activities…but then the various operators want you to think you’re getting more for your money than you really might be.

When you add in the hectic pace, the site assignment favoritism, and the seemingly random assignment (when favoritism didn’t rear it’s head) of rigs to sites with no thought to putting big rigs in big sites and smaller rigs in the smaller sites…well, one of the things you figure you’re paying for with the caravan is to solve those sorts of problems.

Nonetheless…our operator was clearly less structured than most…we met another caravan that had assigned leaving times in groups of 3 for the various rigs and a third caravan that left all together and proceeded in a long line down the road…yuck.

To do this trip…all you really need is a copy of the Milepost magazine and a reasonable amount of RVing experience…our recommendation is to skip the caravan. There was more than one couple on our Alaska caravan that cancelled plans to go to the Canadian Maritimes in 2017 with the came company.

Anyway…our caravan came to an end 60 days later with stops throughout the Yukon, the southeast quarter of so of the Alaska landmass, and the Alaskan panhandle that extends down the Canadian coast…we hit most of the high points tourism wise in that portion of North America…Denali, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Chicken, Dawson City Yukon and ended up in Prince George.

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After a resting weekend we pressed on eastwards to Jasper AB for the Tour of Alberta bicycle race then back down into the US with stops in Great Falls MT, t the Little Big Horn National Monument in Hardin MT, Devils Tower WY, and Indianapolis IN before getting back to the Richmond area for the 2015 Cycling World Championships and more grand baby Alex time.

After the World Bicycle Championships in Richmond…we headed south with a stop in Knoxville to see Neil’s sister, a few days outside Pigeon Forge TN at Smoky Mountains National Park, a stop in Coffeeville AL to visit Sunflower where the Laubenthal Land and Timber Company owns property that is harvested for timber, and Foley AL on the Gulf of Mexico before arriving at our final stop for the season once again at the Low Key Hideaway in Cedar Key FL for a glorious week of Tiki Bar and doing nothing…then headed on to North Fort Myers for the winter.

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Pro RVing tip…if you’re traveling through West Virginia on I-64…just pay the toll. We normally keep our GPS set to avoid tolls since BAT and the rig normally are pretty expensive on toll roads. Looking at our route the night before…we saw that it was going to detour us onto a couple of US highways around the WV Turnpike and figured it would be just fine. Well…we got a ways down the non interstate and started hearing banjos…it was the worst US highway we’ve ever been on…narrow, curvy, tight overhead and road side trees and in the mountains to boot. Turns out that it looks us 3 hours longer to get where we were going in Grassy Meadow WV and we saved a whopping $7.50 in tolls. So…next time we’ll just pay the toll. Actually this isn’t just an RVing tip…unless you’re really interested in the scenery…which admittedly would have been pretty nice if we weren’t in BAT with the rig in tow…take the WV Turnpike in any circumstance.

Fun fact about Alaska that you might not know…there are a total of 7 ways to cross the Yukon River over it’s 1,982 mile length…4 vehicle bridges, 2 pedestrian bridges, and 1 ferry. We used every one of these on our trip except for the bridge on the Dalton Highway up to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields…and we flew over that one.

Another fun fact you might not know…those Alaska reality shows are really, really fake. Connie likes the one called “Alaska The Last Frontier” which follows the Kilcher family outside of Homer and she was all worried last winter about the family member who was pregnant being all alone when she delivered her baby. Turns out that they live 5 miles or so from downtown, about 1/2 mile off of a paved road with a power line going down it, and if you continue out of town another 5 miles past their property you get to a brand new elementary/middle/high school…so they’re really not out in the boonies at all. If you were to look the other way from their beach (not the way the TV cameras always look) you can see downtown.

Statistics:

  • Countries visited: 2 (US, Canada)
  • States visited: 18
  • Provinces visited: 4 (Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon)
  • BAT Miles: 17,839
  • RV Miles: 14,845 on 66 towing days
  • Average towing miles: 224.9 (high of 402.7 and low of 77.6)
  • Car Miles: 10,030 (we didn’t have the car from May through September…it stayed with the kids)
  • Campgrounds stayed in: 66
  • Average stay length Alaska Caravan:  1.8 days 
  • Average stay length non Alaska Caravan:  3.8 days (5.0 days without overnight only stops
  • Number of RV travel days: 66
  • Northernmost and southernmost points reached: Anaktuvuk Pass AK 68.15ºN and Key West FL (southernmost point in US) 24.54ºN
  • Easternmost and Westernmost points reached: Dam Neck VA 75.96ºW and Anaktuvuk Pass AK KS 151.62ºW
  • Photographs taken: 11,600 frames for 416.6 GB
  • Photographs published: 1,256
  • Blog posts published: 92, Tuesday was the most prolific day with 22 posts
  • Blog views: 4,700, busiest day was June 14 with 197 views. 
  • Countries that visited our blog: 84; top visiting countries were the US followed by Germany and Brazil
  • Most viewed blog post: Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and Other Fun Stuff from May 2013
  • Most commented on post was Transit to and Stuff in Jasper AB from September 1
  • Blog Champion Commenter: Neil’s sister MJ (again) with his brother Ron in a distant second place

Cyas.

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Happy Holidays II

Figured I would post again…mostly because I found a little more holidays related humor and thought I should post them before we got too far past Christmas.

It continues to be hot here…Neil did a long bike ride today…19.3 miles in 1:11:25 for an average speed of 16.2 mph…and again just like the other day the wind which was advertised as being from the east was actually from directly ahead of him no matter which way he went. Going east was worse but north, south, and west were definitely not downwind. Oh well…that’ the way it goes I guess.

On to holiday humor.

Grandma Is Not Getting Run Over This Year

Santasaccident

Elveslottery

Santaslastride

Snowfamily

Theschmitthouse

We had a note from our friends Bill and Linda who went with us on the Alaska caravan last summer…they’ll be here in North Fort Myers just a couple miles down from us at Upriver Campground for 2 weeks starting Jan 1…we’re looking forward to seeing them again and both Bill and Neil have a couple of projects around the rig that we’ll collaborate on…it’s just easier with 4 hands a lot of the time.

Let’s see…Christmas. Neil got some new slacks since his waistline has grown and none of the old ones fit…no weight gain but what he has sagged a bit. Also a nice electric screwdriver and we got a few things for around the rig on his side. Connie got some new neck pillows, 3 tops to match stuff she already has and some other stuff for around the rig. Mostly we get what we need/want when we need/want it so since we hit the road full time we just continued that mode…with limited storage anyway we tend to not buy a lot of stuff unless we get rid of corresponding broke or worn out stuff.

Cyas.

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