Thursday, March 11, 2010

I love Skype! Last night our daughter in San Diego called us on Skype live video on our computer so we could join in a birthday celebration. The party was for our granddaughter Sophie's cat - Tiger. They lit a candle and put it in a can of cat food. We all sang happy birthday, Tiger almost burned his nose on the candle and then the party was over. We would not have missed the impromptu party for the world. The girls were laughing at how ridiculous the whole thing was.

If you haven't tried Skype you're really missing a great opportunity. It's free to download and free to use from one computer to another computer with Skype. To use the video feed you'll need a camera on you computer. Most new computers come with a camera, or you can purchase an inexpensive camera to add on to your older computer. The directions for downloading Skype are so easy to follow, anyone can do it. Seen the commercial where the woman is carrying her laptop around the house showing her daughter the renovations they've done, that was Skype. I wish I'd known about Skype when our son was serving in Iraq, it would have been good to see him.

Skype is how we'll stay in touch while we're traveling in Alaska. Knowing I can see everyone while we're gone for four months gives me peace of mind.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stop the presses............. We are now SO COOL! Jim has installed new fangled "get outta the way devices" on our truck. They're about 3 inches long and look like tiny shinny trumpets. When our truck reaches 30 + mph the wind travels through the devices so they emit a high pitched whistle only animals can hear. Moose, deer, elk, caribou, bears and other assorted fauna will now leap safely out of our way! As someone who has hit more than one deer in her life I can tell you this device will be a really good thing if it works.

For me, this trip also means a chance to add new birds to my life list. While other folks are admiring the glaciers, I will be scouring the skies, checking the rocky shores and scanning the lakes for new birds. Don't get me wrong, I intend to immerse myself in the great northwest experience. But travel has taught me it's possible to walk the Great Wall of China, sail the Nile River in a faluka, stand on the Tibetan Plateau and wander the rose colored canyons at Petra and still spot new birds. I suppose that makes me an Eco-tourist since I shoot to memorialize and not to kill. It's great when total strangers learn I am a birder and start pointing out birds to me. They've seen birds before, but never really SEEN them. Like William, our guide in China, who was amazed that the tiny energetic bird darting through the shrubs was named Japanese White-eye. William had not noticed the birds before I pointed them out to him, after that he wanted to know the name of each new bird he saw! One of the best things about travel is seeing how other folks live. In China, people take their pets for walks in city parks. We met a man who had his caged Eye-browed Thrush hanging in a tree so it could enjoy the fresh air and "talk" to the wild birds. He was so excited to find his bird in my China Field Guide!

Monday, March 8, 2010

We've started the countdown to Alaska. Jim made the mistake of emailing the Alaska Tourism folks for travel info on Alaska and OMG! We've been inundated with email from hotels, tour companies, book vendors, camping and fishing outfitters, RV companies, etc. So exciting, planning on being gone for four months! Will I have garden separation anxiety? Will Jim and I still be married after four months in the 5th wheel together? Will Maggie drive us crazy? Will the mosquito's get us? So much to think about........

We've got a shake down cruise scheduled at Black Butte for the end of April. Several of the coffee guys and some of the family are going camping with us.

To save on gas, I intend to strip the 5th wheel of all junk, extra chairs, blankets, flags, bird feeders, etc. Jim has put "Tim the Tool Man" mud flaps on the truck, we look cool now driving down the highway with our mud flaps fluttering in the wind. It's the Massie version of Ice Road Truckers. We've even purchased extra tires and rims for the 5th wheel and truck.

The temperature will probably never get above 60 so packing will be easy. WARM WARM WARM is my motto. Also, does anyone know where you can purchase mosquito spray by the case? We also need to get mosquito nets to wear and rubber bands for shirt cuffs and pant legs. Hhhhmmmmmm, this trip is sounding less and less attractive!

I am determined to join the Polar Bear Club. It's a 980 miles out of our way (down a gravel road) but how many people do you know who've actually jumped in the Arctic Ocean in just above freezing water? Jim says if I chicken out at the last minute he'll make sure I go in regardless.