Epilogue: Unpacking Alaska

Time to head home

Kel’s Musings

It’s taken me three weeks to mull over what I wanted to say about our trip back to St. Louis, and our subsequent resettling into living in our home, after being away on such an epic adventure.

One thing I made myself promise before we even started boating was that the packing and unpacking had to be part of the fun. In order to sustain and enjoy a boating life, we had to realize that along with the adventures comes the nitty gritty truth that maintenance, cleaning and taking things off and on the boat are part of the whole package.

It could have been really easy on the trip home to get into a mindset of dread. Dread of cleaning off months of algae on the hull, the long drive home, sleeping on the boat in parking lots and just all the work that awaited us upon arriving back to our base camp in St. Louis. Instead, the word delight popped into my head, and I decided to delight in the tasks ahead, enjoying hanging out with friends and family along the way, and finding more souvenirs.

Back on the trailer

The cleaning of the boat hull took us most of a morning, but it was a nice sunny, comfortable day for doing it. The drive home had its highs and lows. The highs of seeing the landscape of northern California and the desolate, yet spectacular scenery through Nevada and Utah. I especially enjoyed seeing the Salt Flats.

Salt Flats in the distance

We had a great visit with Kurtis and Christina, our kids in California, who we hadn’t seen for awhile. We ate good food, visited a cool local brewery, played board games, binge watched Smash and went to see a movie together.

Another highlight of driving through rural Missouri was discovering the “home of sliced bread” in Chillicothe. Highway 36 claims to be the route of American geniuses like Mark Twain, J.C. Penney, Walt Disney and the inventor of the bread slicing machine: Otto Frederick Rohwedder. After waking up from a restful night at the quiet Chillicothe Walmart parking lot, I asked Les if we could pick up some sliced bread for souvenirs. He agreed. At first the grocery store attendant directed me to the bread aisle, then he realized I wanted the loaves that had been especially made as souvenirs. They were small 1/4 loaves; I bought all four that were on the shelf. The delight on my families faces when I gave them their bread was priceless.

As we neared home on a Friday afternnon, I asked Les if he was up for having my extended family over for pizza. He agreed. We had to have dinner either way. I really missed everyone, and it was a blast to hang out and catch up. Before they joined us, we did unpack some things, and got reacquainted with our pets.

Everything has been unpacked from the boat, and we even have done some needed maintenance while the fall weather cooperates. I have deep cleaned the house, rearranged furniture, and painted some walls. Les and I also resealed our hard wood floor in the room where I offer art classes. To be honest, we got back and jumped right into the fray of living life in St. Louis.

Homecomings, going to see a play, eating out, visiting friends and family, and all the usual routines on top of that have kept us occupied. We really haven’t even begun to unpack all the moments, memories and emotions of being away for an extended time.

We’re having Les’ family over this weekend to share stories and photos from Alaska. I think we’ll be unpacking Alaska for quite some time, with the ever present hope of returning someday for another adventure.

Les’ Notes

We spent a few days cleaning and packing up in Everett, Washington along with a couple side trips to visit friends.

Thanks so much to Tom and Susan Elliott for watching over the truck and trailer for the last three months. We had a fun visit with Tom, Susan, and Tom’s parents Monday evening. When we returned to the boat after dark three seals had hauled out onto the dock before our slip. They sort of growled at us and weren’t eager to move.  We walked slowly around them, but they were not nearly as cute as during the daytime. 

Good-bye Everett!

After loading the boat Tuesday morning, we spent a little over an hour scrubbing almost a month’s worth of growth off the hull before hitting the road.

All clean again!

We took an indirect route home via Woodland, California to visit our son and daughter-in-law for a few days. From there we elected to veer off I-80 past Reno and take US-50 through Nevada. “The Loneliest Road” is stark, beautiful, and not entirely lonely. We spent the night in Eureka and took Nevada Highway 93 north at Ely, from which we rejoined I-80 to retrace the route back to St. Louis.

Highway 50
Cool restaurant in Eureka, Nevada

One near miss: In Eureka, NV, I noticed that both starboard trailer tires were very unevenly worn. From Ely I called a few tire shops around Salt Lake City. Discount Tire in West Valley City (west side of SLC) had two Goodyear Endurance tires in the right size. We arrived there at 4:30pm and were on the road with two new tires by 6:30.

Other stops on the way home were Walmart in Evanston, WY, Cabelas’s Campground in Sidney, NE, and Walmart in Chillicothe, MO. We needed to plug in and charge the batteries every other night to keep the refrigerator running for our entire drive home. You see, Kel, collected bergies from the Margerie, Johns Hopkins, Reid, and Le Conte Glaciers as souvenirs and gifts. The small freezer section remained cold enough and all survived intact.

Final Stats for the geeks:

Total Boat miles: 3237

Total motor hours: 404

Fuel purchased: 1070 gallons (actual fuel used is at least 1130, since we haven’t refilled)

Overall statute miles per gallon: 2.86

Miles driven: 5314

Fuel used: 537 gallons

Cumulative mpg: 9.9

We truly enjoyed sharing our trip with you virtually this summer. Thank you again for all the kind words and affirmations that this truly was an experience of a lifetime. Come back for other stories, some about everyday life and also some fiction that is brewing in Kel’s ever percolating imagination.

1-10 Hallelujah!
I give thanks to God with everything I’ve got—
Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.
God’s works are so great, worth
A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial—
This God of Grace, this God of Love.

excerpt from Psalm 111 (The Message)

3 thoughts on “Epilogue: Unpacking Alaska

  1. Thanks for sharing your whole trip, including the highway part of it! I enjoyed being an armchair participant, and this last lap was interesting, too.

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