Sunday, February 24, 2013

The End

Today, we arrived in Virginia.  Not to our final destination, but I'm now in my home state.  Yay!  One more day of driving and we'll be checking into our temporary quarters where we can stay put until I figure out where my permanent residence will be.  My house in Reston is rented out so I'll have to look for another place.  I can rent until the tenant's lease is up, but I am leaning towards buying.  Regardless of where I end up, I'll probably continue my blogging on where I was blogging before when I lived in Virginia.

Well, this will conclude my blog on my Alaskan Adventures.  It's been a great, though hard, experience.  Next time I go back to Alaska, it will be for a visit, and in summer months only :)

Good-bye, Alaska!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Doggy Parks

Selby Farms Park
From Albuquerque onward most of our sightseeing involved going to various doggy parks in the major cities.      The trip has been exhausting, so we hadn't really been in the mood for further sightseeing.  It was pretty neat seeing the various doggy parks since they all varied quite a bit.  Roosevelt Park in Albuquerque was dog-friendly, but it's not fenced.  There were little hills and trees all around, and no mud puddle for Millie to jump in.  It was a nice park.  In Oklahoma City we went to the Myriad Botanical Gardens hoping for a nice walk there, but the dog release area was quite small, and there's not much to see in the winter.  In North Little Rock we went to Burns Park where the dog park was full of mud puddles.  We ended up doing a walk in the River Trail instead.  Memphis had the best dog park ever at Selby Farms Park.  A section of the park there called Outback had over 100 acres of doggy space, which included trails and some lakes.  Nashville's doggy space at Centennial Park was also interesting, as there were lots of doggies in a concentrated area.  It was fun for doggy watching.  In Knoxville we stopped at Doggywood, which had a (relatively) small off-leash area, but a number of other open spaces and trails good for walking/jogging.

We really didn't do much else besides these stops for Millie.  The only other highlight was meeting up with Jen, a friend from college, in Albuquerque.  She just happened to be doing a fellowship there and I was really glad to catch up with her.

Most nights we preferred to relax and sort out administrative stuff on the internet.  Some nights I had to spend a bit of time planning for the next day's trip.  Mostly though, I've been worrying about the things I have to do over the next couple of months.  I am currently refinancing a property, and will be looking a for another when I get there.  I'm also trying to stay on top of my retirement accounts.  With Stocks peaking (tho now falling) in recent weeks, and bond bubble expecting to burst in the near future, I've been trying to figure out what to do with my money there.  Maybe it's time to start getting my hands dirty and try to hit it big with individual stocks.  Risky, but I might be able to do better than average if I do the research and stay on top of things.  Unfortunately I don't have much time for that at the moment.  Maybe once things settle down.  We'll see....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bryce Canyon to Albuquerque

Colorado River near the dam
At the last minute we had a change in plans.  The weather forecast was calling for a winter storm (i.e. heavy snow) all day Wednesday in most parts of Arizona, including Flagstaff.  It was supposed to begin late Tuesday, with heaviest of the snow falling early Wednesday.  We would either be stuck in Flagstaff or end up driving through potentially bad conditions.  Instead of risking either, we decided to skip Flagstaff and head straight for Albuquerque, which didn't have any winter weather advisory.  It made for a very long day of driving, parts in middle of nowhere Arizona - miles from anything.  The scenery was nice but I definitely wouldn't want to be driving on these roads in bad weather.  The drive on 264 to I-40 was especially tiring.  Although, we saw one cyclist at a BLM visitor information center.  I hope he doesn't get stuck anywhere bad in the storm.

Despite the long drive, we did have couple of nice scenic stops.  The Lake Powell area was especially nice.  There are several view points around the town of page that are worth stopping.  We got a view of the Glen Canyon Dam, but somehow missed the stop for the Horseshoe bend.  That was where we were going to walk Millie, but since we missed it, she didn't get much of a walk rest of the day :(

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bryce Canyon

Today was one of the shortest drive days at 3.5 hours.  We were in Bryce Canyon around noon, and after lunch, spent the afternoon checking out the park.  The park hasn't really changed much since I was there few years ago, and there wasn't really enough snow to make the scenery any different.  Still, it was a nice break from the driving.  As for walking Millie, we couldn't really do any of the hikes since they don't allow dogs on most of the trails, which are snow or ice covered anyways.  On the way into the park though, about 14 miles out, there is the Thunder Mountain trail.  The trailhead is at the first scenic view point as you head towards the park.  We only walked around for an hour, but since there wasn't anyone around, we were able to let Millie run around off-leash.  Actually, I think the area outside of the park was a lot nicer than the park itself.  If you're going to go into the park, you really want to spend time doing some of the hikes down into the canyon.

One of the things I noticed today, a bright sunny day, is that my eyes are now more sensitive to light than it used to be after living in a dark place for two years.  I find myself wearing sunglasses a lot more than I used to.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Boise to Springville

Today was another easy drive, though the day was chilly and windy.  The scenery today was more 'white', as there was snow all around us except on the roads.  We also left at a reasonable time today so with a 5.5 hour drive, we got to Salt Lake City mid-afternoon.  This gave us time to take Millie to a nice walk at Parley Historic Nature Park.

Parley Historic Nature Park

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cascade Locks to Boise

Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area

Today's drive was an easy 6 hour drive on I-84 to Boise, Idaho.  We drove through the Columbia River Gorge scenic area in the rain, but it was still a pretty drive.  It got a bit drier about an hour or so into the drive.  No snow on the mountain pass either.  Once in Boise, we took Millie to an off-leash area in Fort Boise Park and tossed the ball around for her.  She's been a pretty good doggy these days in the car.  Maybe she's a bit stressed from the travel, I don't know.  She's not running around the hotel room like a lunatic like she did on the drive to Alaska so that is nice.  All-in-all, an easy day today.  Checked into Spring Hill Suites for the night, did couple loads of laundry ($1 for wash, $1 for dryer - not bad), caught up on e-mail, did taxes and got bummed, and now off to bed to try to get up early for a change.  Losing an hour as we move forward in time zones sucks....


Friday, February 15, 2013

Bellingham to Cascade Locks

After a hellish ride we were so glad to be off the ferry finally.  First things first we went to the Marine Park nearby to let Millie poo and eat breakfast.  She was very happy to be off the ferry too.  Then we found a off leash area near by (on 4th Street) where Millie got to run around more.  She was a usual naughty self and decided to jump in and roll around in a mud puddle just as we were about to leave.  Argh!  Good thing we carried a few towels with us for times like this.

Kaiten zushi
After leaving Bellingham we headed for Bellevue to meet with Sue & Mike at the Sushi Maru, my first kaiten zushi in the U.S.  It was pretty good!  Then a 3 hour drive to Portland to meet Maria and her friend for dinner at Tasty N Sons.  Unfortunately, I ended up asking her to come out to the ghetto of Portland because I wanted to avoid downtown traffic.  I wish I had left it to her to pick a place... oh well.  By the time we were done eating we had to head for our hotel, which was still 45 minutes away.  I didn't get to see much of Portland at all like I thought I might, so I guess I'll have to come back and check out this city again properly.

Tonight we're in Best Western Plus Cascade Locks.  I've been trying to stay in Best Western hotels where I can since they have the most pet friendly rooms.  Although a Mariott or Hilton would be nice, their pet fees ($75-100) are worth it only if you stay there a long time.  Most Best Western hotels that allow pets don't charge a pet fee, or if they do, it's only like $10 or $20 a night.  So far this hotel and the Best Western Plus Landing in Ketchikan have been really nice.  There aren't 'Plus' hotels in all the places we're going, so it won't be nice all the way, but hopefully the regular Best Westerns will be a comfortable stay.