Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trip recap and THANK YOU's to some special friends!

Someone emailed me and asked me for a little recap of my journey so far, they joined following the blog a little late and were to friggin lazy to read back though my posts, it was something I had wanted to do anyway, so here it goes! This is going to be a little long winded it has been an Adventure to say the least.

For those just joining - I made a decision last year to move my permanent residence to Alaska for a number of reasons. Primarily that is where I work and with the damn economy so bad, everybody and their brother out of work has decided to become a fishing guide in Tampa Bay and none are charging enough to make it worth my while to do it anymore and Sea Tow didn't have anything for me, so I decided to downsize and liquidate everything and buy a small travel trailer and spend my summers in Alaska and my winters traveling around and taking pictures and just generally enjoying myself.

So while in Alaska last year, I found a small 5th wheel travel trailer on line and bought it sight unseen...although I did have a friend (photography forum member) who took the time to stop by the dealer and check it out, take a few pictures for me so that is the first Thank You...Dennis (Rat44) for taking the time to confirm my purchase and send the pictures...this was a huge help.

So the remaining part of my summer was planning my Florida departure it involved finishing the liquidation of my home there and finding a decent pick-up truck to tow the 5th wheel. Along the way one of my fishing guests in Alaska from Oregon - Pam and Rob Chappell mentioned he had a 5th wheel hitch sitting in his garage which I could have, I offered to pay for it, but no dice. Additionally he drove it from his home in Oregon and delivered it to the dealer in Tacoma, so it would be waiting there for me when I arrived with the truck. BIG Thank You's to Rob & Pam!

I left the Lodge on about the end of September and spent nearly a month in Ketchikan working in the office getting things ready for the 2012 season. I left Ketchikan on Thursday Nov 3rd. Arriving back in St. Petersburg on the 4th of November. I quickly set about making dumpster trips getting rid of all the crap I had collected for the past 30 years or so and looking for a truck. In the deal of the century I was able to negotiate an even trade for my Isuzu Trooper for a 1997 Ford F-150 4 wheel drive pick-up truck...This helped in moving furniture to the consignment place and more trips to the dumpster...

Did some work on the truck and started packing all the stuff for the new trailer and Alaska and planned my departure for mid-December to head to Ohio for the holidays.

Left St Petersburg on December 19th and headed to Ohio - made a long non-stop 19 plus hour drive and arrived in the morning on the 20th of December. Stayed with my sister and her husband for the holidays visited family and my mother who is in assisted living facility. Had a wonderful time - another big Thank You to my sister and her husband and my cousin John for arranging a wonderful family get together for Christmas Eve.

All the time I was working for the Lodge doing the bookings and rebuilding the web site and doing some promotional email blasts before the show season started in January. Finished some work on the truck like anti-freeze and a heater.

Left Ohio on January 4th headed towards Denver, Salt Lake and ultimately Tacoma to pick up the trailer....made a stop in Denver and saw Kevin and Nicky and Ryan at the Denver Sports show...after leaving Denver I headed for a little side trip to Moab, Utah for some relaxation and picture taking. I arrived in Salt Lake City at my buddies house for a short rest and some research before heading on to Tacoma. The research was regarding my Captain's license renewal...due to my TIA (Stroke) a couple years ago they were requiring additional tests which had to be done to get my license renewed so I could guide in Alaska - big PIA. And Steve was very helpful in doing some research and pointing me towards some medical facilities who could help. So a plan was made to continue to Tacoma and then head back towards Salt Lake to get the required tests done after picking up the trailer....more HUGE Thank You's for my buddy Steve Carter! Now after the fact and you will see a couple paragraphs down just how helpful he was. More on that in a minute, I digress.

Steve and I watched weather fronts and I decided I best leave Salt Lake and start towards Tacoma on the 13th of January, I stayed at Steve's for a couple nights.
Drive to Tacoma was pretty uneventful. Arrived at the trailer place on a Saturday which meant they could not install the hitch so I was screwed until Monday at the earliest....plans were made for an appointment on Wednesday the 18th of January.

So I headed down to Boring Oregon to mooch off of the friends who had given me the hitch...Pam and Rob were gracious hosts and we had some fun while I waited to head back up to get my trailer...I unloaded the truck so it was ready for the hitch to be installed. I brought too much shit for sure...anyway. Of course my weather luck had to change, so far I had beautiful weather on 99% of the trip. So the day I need to go get my trailer, Seattle / Tacoma has the winter storm of the century. SEE HERE!

Needless to say - I am a die hard and winter driving doesn't bother me much, so in the mess I head to Tacoma...I have 4 wheel drive so no big deal. Except Tacoma is paralyzed...nobody showed up for work and I returned back down to Boring...extending my stay with Rob and Pam - more BIG THANK YOU's!

Rob in an effort to get rid of my ass, suggests I head over to Tillamook to visit Kicker. So on the 21st of appointment to get the trailer was on Tuesday the 24th - I drive from Boring to Tillamook. Spend a couple glorious nights with the old fart Ron (Kicker) my roommate in Alaska, he is another guide at the Lodge. I got to meet his wife, which was nice, because for the life of me, I could not imagine a woman who could put up with this pig! She is a sweetheart and just as mean as he is, or more, I know now she is the head of the house!

Early Tuesday morning I drove from Tillamook back to Tacoma, my third attempt to get my trailer...I had enough stuff to live with me for a few days while I worked with Nicky and Ryan at the Sports Show in Puyallup, near Tacoma. Arrived at Pacific Trailer, they installed the hitch and I hooked up and drove about 12 miles to the Sports Show...remember the majority of my shit was still in Rob and Pam's garage so after the show ended on the 30th I drove back down to Boring to get my stuff! Another big Thank You for Rob and Pam. They pretty much threw my ass out after 2 nights and I headed back to Salt Lake City...arriving there on February 2nd. Back at my friend Steve's house...spent time there going for tests and trying to get medical records sent from Florida to my Doctor in Ketchikan, it was a cluster...More Thank You's to Steve - I stayed here from the 2nd until the 10th...still didn't have everything I needed for the damn Coast Guard but most of my medical records and tests I had done on Salt Lake were on the way to Ketchikan. Plus my records from Florida. Hopefully enough to satisfy the Coast Guard.

Anyway I left Salt Lake and headed down to see another friend in Hurricane Utah down in Southern Utah near St George only to find he was in Baja California in his RV, so I went to Mesquite Nevada for some rest and relaxation. Wandered around Nevada and Southern Utah from the 10th until the end of the month. All my medical stuff got to Ketchikan only to find out my Doctor there is NOT Qualified to write the letter and release the Coast Guard now I was in Grand Junction Colorado and called an internist that I had seen in Salt Lake and made an appointment for March 14th...a quick email to Steve and the good friend that he is, he said the porch light is on, bring the trailer and you're welcome to stay again. This time I was sure I would get what I needed and planned on a short 2 or 3 night stay. Drove from Grand Junction to Salt Lake on Monday the 12th of March - overnighting on the road and pulled in to Steve's for the third time on the 13th.

Now the fun begins...go to the Doctor on the 14th and lo and behold, he says I have to see a Vascular surgeon and have him write the letter...the internist Dr. Whittington made a referral and an appointment but the soonest they could fit me in was on Friday the hat in hand I go back to Steve's to give him the good news...he says have to get it done, and another good friend had invited us to his 60th Birthday party on the 24th, so you may as well stay.

So over extending my welcome I stay at Steve's until the 23rd. On the 20th the Dr calls and says you will need another test a Carotid artery ultrasound...more money and an early morning appointment before my appointment on the 23rd. What the hell, it is only money...

the good news is, went to the scan on the 23rd and the vascular surgeon and all is well, he wrote a glowing report for the Coast Guard and I submitted a copy of the scans and the letter, now waiting for dumb and dumber at med review for the Coast Guard to approve my license...who knows how long that will take...but I am pushing them.

Went to the birthday party and had a wonderful time with Lynn and Donna Hewitt, great friends for over 25 years... a BIG THANK YOU to them for including me in Lynn's celebration of 60 years! It was a great time.

In the meantime I am working on my future travel plans with Steve's help, he wants rid of my ass for sure, so we are watching weather fronts and decide rather than heading into Wyoming like I planned it may be better to spend a week or so South again in warmer climates.

So I left Steve's on Thursday the 29th of March - having stayed from the 13th to the 29th at Steve's...well past my plan. HUGE THANK YOU to my friend Steve Carter, who I have also known for over 25 years. I can never repay his kindness...and hospitality.

Although as I was moving stuff from his house back to the trailer, he put music on in the garage and what is it...Johnny Cash - On the Road Again...over and over, I got the message STEVE!

So today I am sitting in Page Arizona as I wrote this recap and I finished a spreadsheet and log book of my travels, some interesting stats.

Miles Traveled to date = 7,461.6
Fuel Costs = $2.288.50 and there may be a few I missed.
States Visited = 17 states so far with a couple more to go...

Enjoy, more pictures from a little photo expedition yesterday and some more tomorrow as I head from here to Monument Valley.

NOW it is Final 4 Time - Go BIG O!!


Capt (I Hope) Jim
Professor or as Steve now calls me Gypsy Jim

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Getting ready for the Season continues!

The work around the Lodge during the winter never stops. Big project for this winter was replacing the firebox for the fireplace in the Lounge...gotta have that fire in the Lounge to sit by after a great day of fishing.

This is not a simple project as it has to go in from the back and required removing most of the paneling and wall on the lounge side of the pool table. That was completed several weeks ago and now the new firebox arrived and the installation is being completed as this is written.

Here is the new fireplace...

Hauling it up the front steps was a challenge...

All unpacked and ready to slide in place...

Looking from the lounge side you can see that it is all ready to accept the new fireplace.

Now some fun...Coby the new pup last year has grown quite a bit and seems to be a little defensive of his food dish as Michaela shows in this photo - she got a little too close.

All the pictures were taken by Michaela and the completed fireplace will be posted in a couple days...

Yes Bay is putting the finishing touches on the grounds for another wonderful season of fishing at Yes Bay Lodge in beautiful SE Alaska!

As for me - I am leaving Salt lake this morning headed on another Southern Utah photo adventure...stay tuned.

Capt Jim
Professor or The Gypsy as my lower 48 friends now call me!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The trip so far in a slide show

Enjoy the show - the pics are in the order they were taken.

Capt Jim

Friday, March 9, 2012

March 5th & 6th - Leaving Moab area

Before leaving the Moab area on Tuesday the 5th of March, I decided a late afternoon trip into Arches was a worthy effort....

Spent the morning getting the trailer ready to travel and for some remote camping, so filled the water tank, emptied the waste tanks and got everything put away and ready for the ride towards Grand Junction Colorado...

But here are a few shots from Arches National Park.

More to come as I continue my travels...will be in Grand Junction for a few days before heading back up to Salt Lake City to hopefully put an end to the renewal of my USCG License...they are being difficult with some of my past health issues....

More later,

Capt Jim

Monday, March 5, 2012

Moab and Canyonlands

Time to recoup, clean the trailer, shop for some groceries and spend some time in one place. I chose to take my break in Moab, cold here and some snow the first couple days, but it warmed up nicely in the afternoons and I was able to visit Canyonlands National Park - both areas that are accessible from here. Island in the Sky and the Needles district.

Here are some pictures from my travels this week.

Today - Monday the 5th of March is a get ready to leave tomorrow day, square the trailer away, fill the water tank, empty the waste tanks and fill up with gas and pick up a few snacks for the road...looks like I may head over to Colorado - Grand Junction area and do some exploring...

Stay tuned for more travels....

Captain Jim