Saturday, July 19, 2008

"GETTING BACK TO THE LOWER '48' " BLOG # 16

The custom's officer looked over at his buddy and asked, "Whaddya' think. . . should we take it apart?" His co-worker hemmed and hawed for just a moment and then replied, "Naw, let him go." When they said, "go ahead", I didn't hesitate. I moved quickly back into the good old USA. By the time we got to Walmart in Bellingham an hour or so later we had traveled almost 500 miles since leaving Prince George early Wednesday morning. Several other travelers were parked with us overnight there. Thursday we moved over to a nice rv park in Ferndale. Our mail was waiting for us there at the post office.

I was just past my 19th birthday when I met Drell and Gloria Butler in the early summer of l955 in southern Michigan. They were just a bit older then me and already had a few kids. She played piano and he was minister of music at a church in Pontiac. We quickly became good friends. A few weeks later he and I traveled together to Fred Waring's Music Workshop in Deleware-Water-Gap, PA. Most high school choirs in those days sang some music from Shawnee Press. Those were the masterful arrangements by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians; stuff like "Give me your tired, your poor", "This is my country", and "You'll never walk alone". Mr. Waring showed up for the evening sessions, driving his new Packard. (For you young kids, that was a luxury automobile in the old days.) Fred Waring was a musical genius of his time and we both enjoyed the workshop immensely. Drell was in my wedding party when Anita and I were married a few years later. We kept in touch and in the mid sixties I joined his staff at a church in Canton, Ohio. We did a lot of singing together. After being there for a while, I moved on and in l969 he packed up his family and all and moved to southern California where he pastored a church for the next twenty-five years. Later he moved to northern Washington state. He went on to heaven about three years ago.

Before leaving Alaska, I called Gloria. Thursday evening, two days ago, Lynda and I met her for dinner at the local Olive Garden. It's been over thirty-five years. Of course we hung around the restaurant too long, reminiscing, recalling and remembering people, places, and happenings of another era. We finally made our exit from there and went over to McDonald's and wrapped things up over a cup of coffee. What a blessed few hours.


When we left the "Land of the Midnight Sun" on the 10th, we drove a few miles over the Alaska highway for breakfast at Buckshot Betty's in Beaver Creek. You probably think I'm making that up. That piece of road from the border eastward to Destruction Bay is rougher then trying to drive a tractor crosswise across a cultivated corn field. It smoothed up a little as we got over past the Haines cut-off and on over to Whitehorse where we spent a couple more nights at the Pioneer RV park. Nope, we didn't stay 'on the marge of lake Laberge'. It just didn't work out with our Skagway side trip the next day.

Beta Tremp (how's that for a name), drove the bus to Skagway. He also does other things in life, but he was made for this. Extremely knowledgeable and an all-round nice guy. We stopped at the delightful little town of Carcross on the way down. Still 95% Native. The scenery was outstanding. We roamed around town in the strong wind, checked out some of the stores, had a delightful halibut lunch and saw a cruise ship in the harbor. That still gave us time when we got back to pick up a Subway and check out the Fireweed bookstore one more time.

We stopped at Rancheria an the way up and told them we'd see them on the way back. We did! The pie was excellent. We filled up at the junction of route 37 and the Alaska highway and headed south on the Cassiar; twenty miles of construction. Before it was all over, we (notice I said 'we', although Sweet Lynda had nothing to do with it),were stuck in soft, course sand. Without realizing it, the front wheels on the blazer had "crimped" and we were trying to pull it that way. A workman held the steering wheel straight as we pulled on out. Big horse flies aggravated the situation. The road improved only slightly as we drove on down to Jade City. Yep, that's where they mine the stuff. Jade stuff everywhere. We parked in their parking lot overnight with a couple of other campers.

The next morning we stopped at Mama Z's at Dease Lake for the obligatory omelet. Talked to a pilot there who flies 747's to the Far East for UPS. Lives in Alaska. Also talked to Colorado Bob. a cyclist who had ridden to Alaska and was on his way back to Colorado Springs. Saw him again at Bell Lodge that afternoon. Said he was going on to Stewart for the night. We thought we might too but decided to pack it in at a sweet little campground on Meziadan lake near the Stewart turn-off. Our campsite was right on the water. Sooo nice! We checked out the glaciers in the area. Sooo nice, too!

Got into the Blue Spruce campground in Prince George late Monday afternoon. On Tuesday we caught up. Laundry, car washing, shopping, haircuts, etc. Ran into Colorado Bob one more time at a New Hazelton cafe. He was just finishing his breakfast when we walked in. We chatted a bit more and wished him well. A real nice guy in his mid-forties, traveling alone. We observed numerous lumber mills in that area.

Coming on down Route 97 on Wednesday from Prince George we passed nice farming country, lush fields of hay; much of it already baled, we stopped at Williams Lake for an A & W root beet float, and blew by towns like Horsefly, Spuzzum, and Likely. Saw some very rugged country and some more productive farmland before crossing the border. Today we traveled down a very heavily traveled I-5 through Seattle (we only waved at the space needle), stopped for fuel and an omelet at Flying J, and came on down to Hoquiam where we are parked for the next two nights. Gas was $ 4.19.

Tomorrow we are going up the road a ways to visit with Andrea, a college friend of Barb's who was in her wedding sixteen years ago. Then southward down the Oregon coast.

In my last blog I neglected to wish granddaughter Anna a happy 9th birthday, so thought I'd better do it now. Daughter-in-law Teresa's birthday is today, Kristen has a birthday tomorrow, the 20th and son Brad has one coming up on the 22nd. New granddaughter, Sophie, will be two on the 25th. Daniel and Kristen celebrate their 4th anniversary on the 24th.

One more thing, Camp Sychar begins this coming Thursday. It will be the first camp meeting session I've missed in a long, long time. It is always a blessing and very worthwhile in terms of spiritual nourishment and great fellowship. Those precious folks who gather there to both give and receive are in our thoughts and prayers. We love you all.

Blessings . . . . . . . On the road with Winston and Lynda (Grilled chicken & potato salad for supper tonight)

3 comments:

MaMa Teresa said...

Somehow I feel better knowing you're in the lower 48. I guess because it means you're getting closer to home; and we are getting closer to home day by day.
I love you both. I'm so glad you got to see Sophie on Skype today!!! that was so exciting! I wish I'd videotaped your reactions!!!!

Pmisiak said...

I enjoyed your reminiscences on taking part in the Fred Waring Music Workshop in Delaware Water Gap, PA. I, too, lived for two weeks in the dormatory of the old Castle Inn, ate in the dining room and sang in the rehearsal hall while being taught the rudiments of music by the likes of Jack Best, Clyde Sechler, and Dr. John Raymond. Later, I was fortunate enough to be selected to tour with the Pennsylvanians in the 1970's, where in the fall during rehearsals for the road we again stayed at the Castle Inn. That complex is long gone now...Shawnee Press was purchased by another company and no longer utilizes the building in the Gap. The only remembrance is the name of the street that ran right in front of the Castle Inn...Fred Waring Drive.

Kristin said...

I'm sad for you to be out of alaska but I am glad you are closer to home! Thanks for calling me on my birthday, it meant a lot to me! Grandma, my friend Natasha got me a bunch of yarn and a knitting book for my b-day. I think I will actually try to follow a real pattern--I've only done that once in my knitting life. There is a cute little shrug I think I would like to try out... it's also the simplest thing in the book! Anyway, I miss you guys and I love you a lot. Hugs and kisses!!