Posted by: traveltalkwithtommy | February 24, 2012

Mom’s Last Trip

My mother arrived in Texas a little over a week ago I guess. My sister packed her ashes up and sent them to me so she could sit on my entertainment center with my brother Joey and watch television. I know that sound strange, but it’s what she wanted to do.

My brother Joey died several years ago. He was only 52 years old. I am the youngest of five. My oldest brother is 19 years older than me. Some people say I was a opps baby because my mom and dad were so old when I was born, but my dad think so. He always said he planned it that way so he could stay young while others got old.

Anyway, my mom lived with my family and I for three years. Everyday she would pass my brother Joey and say, “Good morning, Joe.” One day she told me, “When they burn me, (her words, not mine) I want you to put next to Joey so we can always watch television. You can put a picture of me up there too so everyone will know that its me.”

I told mom I would love that, and now there she sits. Every once in a while I watch reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond because that was her favorite show. I know she isn’t really there, but at the same time, I know she is there. Now I walk by every morning and say, “Good morning Mom, good morning Joe.”

Death,

isn’t such a scary place,

In heaven, so far away,

Because the ones I love

are waiting there,

For me to arrive one day.

 

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Posted by: traveltalkwithtommy | February 18, 2012

Hyder Alaska

So, One of the reasons I took the Cassiar Highway was to visit the small town of Hyder, Alaska.

This is wonderful, Camp Run A Muck. Not much to look at, but close to the river.

Two young bears in the road

Which way to the river, which way to the river

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into coming with you.”

Beautiful colors

This was taken from a platform over the river set up for observing the bears as they fish. It was real cool to watch.

Another shot

Someone watching the action with us

“I made a reservation, where are the fish?”

Another bear crashing the party

“I see you.”

A Glacier heading down from its icefield

The glacier ending at the mouth of a stream that runs down the mountain

Just down the road from I was standing

Another waterfall

what you see on the other side of the are called pocket-glaciers, they form where the snow and ice build up

That’s the sign that sent us away from Hyder. It was a nice place to visit.

Next time we will be entering the state of Washington.

Travel Tip:

Never be afraid to visit out-of-the-way places because they may provide the most fun. Always seek out those locations where you will have the best chance of seeing things that others miss.

 

Posted by: traveltalkwithtommy | February 14, 2012

The Cassiar Highway

Well, Now we are headed south toward Washington State on the Cassiar Highway. So far it has been a fantastic trip full of adventure and family fun, but I am excited to see what the road has in store for us.

Nice shot of a bridge on the road

It’s like the goat is saying, “Don’t mess with me, I’m having a bad day

A friend we made on the road.

We learned later that this fox stops most cars on the Cassiar and begs for food. Even though I said not to feed him no one listened to me. Nothing new there.

This is the Cassiar Cemetery, just one of many we stopped at along the way

This is the cabin we stayed at because it was raining so hard when we arrived at the Dease River Crossing Campground

There was no power here, but that wood stove sure gave off a lot of heat

This is the small lake that was right outside the front door of the cabin. It was nice to just sit there and think before everyone else woke up.

A mountain down the road

From here it looked like we were going to drive straight that Mountain

A glacier

And I will leave you with a waterfall just off the road. Next time, Hyder, Alaska, the friendless Ghost town in Alaska

Travel Tip:

Be ready for all kinds of weather on the road. Have blankets, coats, a first aid kit and anything else you might need to last a day or two without any help. Weather can change fast on the road so always be ready for whatever might come your way.

Posted by: traveltalkwithtommy | February 5, 2012

A Day in Skagway

So we’re back in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory  again, after leaving Dawson City. This is our homeward bound portion of the trip.  From here, after a day in Skagway, Alaska, we’ll be head down the Cassiar HIghway toward the state of Washington. 

I thought this shot on the road to Skagway was kind of neat. The tracks sort of looked sad and forgotten out there.

Mountain shot of a waterfall

A building on the street. The front is made out of sticks and logs.

The Red Onion Saloon. We didn’t take in the show there, but I heard it was a good one.

The Skagway Bazaar is a nice place to shop. In fact, most of Skagway is a nice place to shop. The sidewalks are made of wood and lined with all sorts of stores that sell just about anything.

Of course we had to go here

Wooden headstones again. It was real dark here too, kind of creepy

Most of the folks here died young

I thought this one was cool with the gold rock behind it.

A waterfall on the way back to our campground

A mountain

A coyote crossing the road

We stopped on the way back. You don’t think of a desert out here in the wilderness.

Sand shot

Which way to the beach

Me

This is a ghost town along the road. At one time it was a mining town

A great sunset to end the day

Travel Tip:

Make sure to stay in touch with loved ones back home, because they worry when they don’t hear from you. My daughter called the police in Skagway because we lost signal for several days and were unable to call. If you travel in Canada that happens a lot.

Posted by: traveltalkwithtommy | January 31, 2012

More Mom

Mom and my oldest daughter. She really enjoyed sitting in the backyard with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. I wonder what she was thinking about there.

Because this is a travel blog, I’m going to keep to that theme as much as I can.

I hope whoever reads these stories will get something out of them.

In the mid 70’s, when I was in the fifth grade my mom and dad called me into the kitchen to talk to me. My first thought that day must have been, “What did I do wrong.”

Whenever they called me into the kitchen to talk it was always because I did something wrong. It’s not that I was a bad child, I just managed to get into everything. Anyway, it was close to the end of the school year so I figured it had to have something to do with that.

By today’s standards, our kitchen would be considered small, but it wasn’t to me. I remember many fond memories of meals taken there, games played, and tears cried. It was a comfortable place to just sit and gaze out the back door.

When I entered the kitchen, mom had a cup of coffee in front of her and dad was smoking a cigarette. I sat down in the chair closest to the entrance in case I had to make a run for my room.

“Your mother and I have decided to take a trip to Florida,” dad said as he flick an ash into an ashtray.

Mom didn’t say a word. I could tell by the look on her face she wasn’t really looking forward to the trip.

“We’re going to go to Disney World,” dad added after a drag.

I almost exploded out of my seat and lifted off into space. I was so excited. I hugged mom, and then dad, and then ran out the door to tell Peter.

The day after school got out we head south on I-95. I remember stopping on the New Jersey Turnpike for gas.

“Top the tank off,” Dad said to the man pumping our gas. I don’t know why that stuck with me after all these years, but it sounded so cool.

We stopped that night in South Carolina at a Days Inn. They had a swing set out front and a small pool. The town only had one stop light. My most vivid memory of that night was hearing the sounds of the eighteen wheelers outside the window. It sounded like the most incredible song. Ever since that night I have always found that sound soothing hear.

The next day we reached Orlando. We stayed at a Red Roof Inn. The trees behind the office had strands of lichen hanging down. It was so swampy. I stood under those trees and imagined that I was in a scene from the Creature From the Black Lagoon.

We went to Disney World and had a great time. It was everything I thought it would be. My mom even had an adventure, she got lost on Main Street during the parade. She went for ice cream while dad and I watched the parade. An hour later I was crying and dad was going nuts because mom hadn’t returned. All we knew was she went across the street for ice cream. After a while we found her. She had three cones in her hands and melted ice cream everywhere. I ran to her and threw my arms around her. She hugged me back. Dad walked up and started to say something, but thought better of it when she gave him the look.

  The rest of our day went without any problems. We saw Mickey and others. We rode the rides. On space mountain I sat in front of my dad. On one of the hills I rose up from my seat and popped him in the mouth with the back of my head. I made his lip bleed. Now, I know that doesn’t sound like much, but many years later my oldest daughter would do the same thing to me on the same ride. It’s funny how history can repeat itself.

I just want to say thank you to my mom and dad for so many wonderful memories. I hope as a dad I have done the same for my children. I love you, Mom. I love you, Dad. I miss you guys

Posted by: traveltalkwithtommy | January 30, 2012

My Mom

On January 24, 2012, my mother, Maria Thomas, passed away. She was 85 years old. She was loved by all and will be terribly missed.

I know this is a travel blog, and many of you come to it for that reason, but I need to hijack for a bit and talk about my mom.

My mom was the kind of person who would give someone the shirt off her back and then ask if they needed anything else. She was a very humble person, but capable of doing so much.

My mom did not like to travel. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that she could get lost in her own backyard. I’m serious. One time she got lost in a neighborhood that she had lived in for many years.

One time, when I was young, my mom and dad took me on a trip to see the Amish in PA. We went to Hershey Park, and yes, the town smelled like a candy bar. We had a wonderful time on that trip. I remember seeing the people riding around in the horse-drawn carts in the dark clothes and hats. It was interesting, and it was one of the few trips that my mom wanted to take. Most of the time, we went where my dad wanted to go.

So, at the end of the trip, my dad is driving up interstate 81 toward interstate 84. He’s feeling sleepy so he asked my mother to drive. He pulled into a rest stop and turned the wheel over to her.

“Mother,” he said. “All you have to do is drive straight on this highway. Don’t get off, don’t do anything, but drive straight.”

My mom gives him the look, nodded. I’m sitting in the back seat of our 1973 green Plymouth Satalite Sebring. It has a bench seat so I can lay across it.  When my father finished, he put his head back and closed his eyes. Mom fixed her mirror, glanced at me, and rolled out of the rest area.

Even as she merged onto the highway, I was already cooking up a plan. When I knew what I’m going to do, I smiled and waited for the right moment. An hour later, when I heard the sound of snores from the front seat, I knew the time had come to hatch my plot.                                                                                                                                                                                   

Slowly, I sat up and placed myself between my mom and dad. I looked over at mom, I looked out the window, I looked at my dad, and then I announced, “Entering Virginia.” 

My father exploded up off the seat. He almost slammed his head into the ceiling. He rubbed his eyes and then looked over at my panic stricken mother.

“Mother, what have you done?” he shouted at her. 

My mom couldn’t answer at first, because she didn’t know what had happened. Finally, she managed to stammer, “I did what you told me to do.”

From the back seat, I’m was laughing so hard that everything in the front seat stopped. My dad looked back at me and then at the highway and realized my mother was going in the right direction. At the next exit, my mom got off and turned the car back over to my dad. When she got into the passenger seat, she gave me the look as the last of my laughter was faded away. The rest of the trip went without a hitch.

That is a true story. It’s just one of many memories of my mom and dad. My father passed away almost two years ago at 91. He was a wonderful man who loved his family very much. I miss him every day, and now I will miss my mom just as much. Right now it feels like there is a hole in my chest where she use to be, but I know one day I will see the two of them again.

I had a dream the other night that they were standing together at a railing looking down at me. They looked so happy, so young. It is my prayer, and hope that they will wait for me to join them one day. My faith allows me to have this hope and trust. I love you Mom and Dad.

 

Posted by: traveltalkwithtommy | January 15, 2012

Top of the World HIghway and Dawson City, Yukon

After our time at Denali National Park, we headed for a stretch of road called the Top of the World Highway. This roadway went north through Chicken, Alaska into the Yukon Territory. Our goal was to reach the small town of Dawson City, Yukon Territory.

Looking down the road as we travel

Chicken, Alaska

Looking down into a valley

Flowers on the roadside

This is the sign for the Davis Dome Wayside. From here we are at the border with Alaska and the Yukon Territory

The Davis Dome

Here’s your sign

From the welcome to Yukon sign to here was only a short drive

This is the ferry across the Yukon River into Dawson City. Notice the chunks floating in the water, those are chunks of ice.

Looking down a Dawson City street. Being here was like being in the old west.

Another street shot

A corner restaurant

A cabin

Another cabin. I thought it was really neat how the houses had all the grass and stuff on the rooftops

From up on top of a hill

Shot from even higher up. As you drive out-of-town, going south, you’ll see a roadside park on the left. Follow that and it goes up to another park where you can park and hike to this spot. The hike isn’t long and for the most part level, but the views are amazing.

This is Saint Mary’s Cemetery. All the head stones are made out of wood.

As I said before, my wife loves to walk around these places and check out the names and dates

It’s kind of creepy out here. There wasn’t another soul around. A King novel could take place here.

So that’s it for now, next time we’ll be on the road again to Skagway, Alaska

Travel Tips:

Something about that ferry, the ramp on the other side is very steep so make sure your hitches are up as high as they can go or you will bottom out on the ramp and tear them up like I did.

Posted by: traveltalkwithtommy | January 14, 2012

The Dalton Highway

So, while we were in Denali, we took a day trip up the Dalton Highway. This is the highway that runs from Fox, Alaska to Prudhoe Bay. The Alaskan Pipeline also runs alongside it.

The Alaskan Pipeline. Though it’s hard to see, the signpost gives the distance between cities.

The pipeline. See how it sits in the center like that, it’s because of earthquakes. This way when the shaking starts the pipeline has room to sway.

More pipeline

And yet another shot of the pipeline. It was really something how they built it like that alongside the road, up and down hills, and over streams and rivers.

Neat shot of a butterfly

This is a bridge over the Yukon River

The Dalton Highway is unpaved and messy in several spots. You better make sure your tires are good if you’re going to try it as well as your spare.

A shot from the road

See the flowers in the distance, they were everywhere. In spots whole hillsides were covered with them.

There were a lot of rock formations like this along the road. Also, notice how few trees, and the ones you do see are short and kind of scraggly. The reason is because the roots can only go down about six inches, after that the ground is solid, frozen like ice.

   

So here’s the Arctic Circle.

We didn’t stay here to long because the bugs were crazy mad. I guess you can get that way when you only have a month or so to get done whatever it is you have to get done, like making baby bugs.

I’m not sure why, but we sure saw a lot of rainbows on this trip.

Another shot, same rainbow

On our way back we met this very unfriendly beaver. Every time we got to close it would splash us.

He wasn’t too happy with us taking pictures

This is what the truck looked like at the end of the day. Like I said, the Dalton Highway is unpaved and very muddy in spots.

One of our few sunsets in Alaska

Another shot of the midnight sunset

Travel Tip:

Always check your tires and make sure the pressure is correct. We left with three spares for our camper and used all three.

Posted by: traveltalkwithtommy | January 7, 2012

Our Denali National Park Bus Trip

On one of our days in Denali National Park, we took an 8 hour bus trip to the end of the road to Kantishna. The National Park Service puts on a wonderful trip that is both entertaining and educational. If you ever have a chance I highly recommend that you take it to the end of the road.

My Daughter on the bus looking out the window

This is Doug, he made our trip very enjoyable

Just one of many views

A valley

A shot from inside the bus

Dall Sheep

Mountains, mountains everywhere

More mountains

And then some more. The views just took your breath away.

Me on the side of the road

Did I tell you about the animals? Here’s a grizzly bear. You can tell it’s a grizzly because of the hump behind the head.

Alaskan ground squirrel

Caribou

Fox eating a rabbit

Same fox

Same fox taking an after meal walk

This is Fannie Quiggly’s house at the end of the road. This woman lived out here all by herself. She had a hole in the back yard where she kept food frozen. In the winter she was stuck out here unless someone came out with a dog sled.

 

Moose on the way back

Another moose. I really loved these animals they look so peaceful and powerful at the same time, and believe me, you don’t want to mess with them.

So that was our day on the Kantishna bus trip. I only showed you a few of the pictures we took that day. Next time we are off to the Dalton Highway and the Arctic Circle.

Travel Tip:

Whenever you travel it is always a good idea to keep a first aid kit on hand just in case. Make sure to include blankets, flashlights, and warm clothing. Pack it all inside a back pack along with snack bars and water.

Posted by: traveltalkwithtommy | January 1, 2012

The North Pole

 

About an hour north of Denali National Park is North Pole, Alaska, home of Santa and everything Christmas.

So here I am. Don’t I look excited…

Santa’s workshop

They receive thousands of letters here every year. The local school answers the letters as part of their homework. You can even send someone special a letter postmarked with this address.

Another painting on the side of the building

This is the house where Santa was born according to North Pole, Alaska legend.

This is one of many Christmas themed street signs in town. I even went to the North Pole police station and got one of their patches. It has Santa on his sleigh with a candy cane lamp-post lighting the way.

  Back in Denali, we spent sometime in the small tourist trap that has grown up outside the park.

There are several places to eat here and shop.

A bird standing on a table waiting for a snack.

My daughter looking smart and sassy in her fox tail.

Potty break.

Another shot of a lonely railroad bridge

And this is how our day ended, another rainbow. Next time, the Denali National Park bus trip to Kantishna.

Travel Tip:

Something to remember about traveling in Alaska, in the summer it doesn’t get dark until midnight, and then it only stays dark for a couple of hours. It makes sleeping tough and judging time even harder.

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