Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Celebrations

The picture is of a mutual admiration from Terry, who is the oldest of the Millers, to little Laura Miller, who is the youngest. (She was two years old on December 11.) The other picture is of Victoria Miller and Laura. (Both are the daughters of Robert.)

We flew to Houston the weekend of the 15th of December for Christmas with the Millers. Raymond and Teresita flew from Alaska. Robert flew from Alabama where he was working. Terry was in North Carolina working on Robert's house. He flew in from there with Victoria who will be nine in January. Nathalia and two year old Laura flew from Columbia, South America. We visited with Joy Miller who works nearby for NASA and with our hosts Shirlee, Christine and Sharon. Several of Robert and Raymond’s friends visited with the family during the three days. I also visited with my son, Steve and Marsha, Jamie and Jake.

Not only do we have an international family, but also Laura speaks in long sentences with as many Spanish words as English. Her diction is extremely clear. Of course, Terry and I, like most grandparents, think that our grandchildren are very smart! We had a very nice Christmas.

Terry returned with Victoria to North Carolina. Raymond and Teresita returned home to Alaska and prepared for a three-week trip to the Philippines. Robert accompanied his wife and baby to South America where her grandfather is very ill. I picked up Terry from the airport in Phoenix and then we went to nearby Mesa to my parents to stay overnight. On Sunday, we went to the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service with refreshments afterward at the campground. (I sang with the choir.) On Monday, we had Christmas dinner at the clubhouse. On Tuesday, we had a potluck dinner with some of our friends.

Hope you visited with family and friends and ate good food for Christmas and will have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Friday, November 24, 2006


You can see in this picture that some Rvers try to take all their toys with them.
Since we are on the Colorado River, Rvers bring their jet skis. They also bring their off- road-cycles for the sand dunes and hills around here.

We met with friends and Rvers at the Emerald Cove Campground for Thanksgiving dinner. It was very organized. We sat at tables of twelve. The campground provided the platters of turkey plus dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and rolls. We all brought side dishes. I brought my cranberry salad and sweet potatoes. Since there are 800 sites and the campground is 98% full, it is hard to tell how many people were served in the two shifts. We ate at one pm. and then went to the minister’s house for desert. It was good!!

We are so thankful for our family and friends. We are so blessed with our good health.

Our plans are for a grilled salmon dinner at the minister’s RV on Friday. A craft sale at the clubhouse on Saturday will give me a table to sell my book. We will leave after church on Sunday to go to my parents in Mesa. On Monday, Terry will fly from Phoenix to North Carolina to help Robert on his house. I will stay in the campground while he is gone.

Since my web master will be gone for three weeks, I will not be updating the blog but will be working on Christmas cards and letters.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Wild Burros

On Tuesday, we went on a ride in our toad ( towed car) along the Colorado River and then east where we saw ten wild burros, a hundred or so quail and a road runner.
Last week, I received this comment on my Road Kill Ala Mode blog.

“Hi, I am signed up with the "google aleart" for Salome AZ. Whenever anything new about Salome comes up on the Internet Google sends me the link. Anyway thats how I came to read your most recient blog " Road Kill Ala Mode" That may have come from a farm truck that crashed out that way a few weeks ago- Sometimes they fall off the trucks too. Anyway the reason I am e-mailing - I was just curious if you happen to be one of the RV'ers at the Fiddlers Jam in Salome this weekend? (I live VERY near by.) If you are over there you might see me riding a horse close by. :) Every year when they come we enjoy hearing the music from our yard. No reason, Just curious, Joann/ Salome AZ. PS- good luck with your book!”

Joan, We missed the Fiddler’s Jam. Did you realize that I couldn’t answer you without you leaving your email? Your address is blocked. I would like to answer your email but I need your address. I would love to meet you. I will have book signings one on December 7, 2006 2 pm to 4 pm at the Quartzsite Library. They plan both a reading and book signing at the library in the Town Hall at 465 N.Plymouth Avenue in Quartzsite, AZ. Refreshments will be served. Another on December 14, 2006 2 pm to 4 pm at RAVEN BOOKS, 1317 Joshua Ave. in Parker, Arizona. They will have a book signing and refreshments at the bookstore. Come and bring a friend.
Hope to see you there!

Surfing the Net

This picture is taken of the beautiful sunset in the Emerald Cove campground.
The Internet is full of interesting information. I was curious about my web so I entered “RV Chuckles and Chuckholes” in the search box. I found that if you go to you will find a direct link to the entire article about the Lulu Belle under visitor feedback.
If you go to, you will read
Did Someone Say RV Road Trip?
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Patty's Recommended Readings
“I have loved to read books from even my youngest days. Sometimes, I find that I read two or more books as a time - fiction to lull me to sleep, business books to stay on top of my profession and watch trends, and travel related books to take me places where I have yet to go and enjoy the journey of other adventerous people. Here are my recent favorites and recommended readings for you:” Several books were listed including:
“RV Chuckles and Chuckholes: The Confessions of Happy Campers, Darlene Miller, Roving Pen Publishing, 2005.”
Thanks Patty. I wonder where you learned about my book.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Road kill A La Mode

We are about 200 feet from the Colorado River that separates Arizona and California. Our satellite dish did not work for the Internet so I have written only one blog since we left Alaska. The above picture is one of the sunset pictures from where we boondocked on the California side of the river. (Boondocking is where you have no hook-ups. We did have six solar panels and a generator for power.)

Terry and I drove to Gila Bend for parts to fix the satellite dish. On the return to Parker, Arizona, we drove from Interstate 10 on the paved road to Salome, Arizona. This road has many dips to provide run off when the monsoon rains come in the summer. There were no fields or buildings for miles and miles. All we saw were rocks, desert cacti, and creosote bushes. Bouncing down the highway, I started singing “Dippity – do – da - dippity –“

Terry interrupted “What are those round things by the road?”

“Stop and I will find out?”

I saw about 50 round bodies along the road. Some where pretty smashed up but I picked up a dozen and put them in the plastic box in the rear of our Suzuki.

A clue to our find was two torn up cardboard boxes with the words “Del Monte “ on them.

When we arrived at our RV, I realized my mistake. We couldn’t eat a dozen road kill.
Jenny, the cook at the clubhouse, wasn’t sure that she wanted them until she saw them. Yes, the orange cantaloupe would be perfect for a fruit salad for Halloween.

I prefer cut up melon with a scoop of ice cream to make it road kill a la mode.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Mertia and Harvey Hamn

This picture was taken at the log cabin church in the country near Cecil Lake, British Columbia on September 30, 2006 of Terry and I and Terry’s first cousins Harvey and Mertia Hamn. This church, located about a mile from Harv and Merts home, is where they had a celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary in 2003.

We arrived at their home in the afternoon of September 29. They were both happy to see us. Mert had a delicious dinner ready in the log cabin home that they built themselves. We had conversations and looked at pictures about our travels and family and looked at photos of their four children and grandchildren. Mert also showed me samples of her writing and her oil paintings. She is an accomplished artist with both her pen and her paintbrush. Harv, a retired teacher, was in remission of his cancer and was able to walk and visit with us. It was good to have the RV parked in their yard so we could both visit and have our privacy. We enjoyed the food but even more we enjoyed our fellowship with them.

When we arrived at Lake Havasu in Arizona, our computer service quit working. We drove over 400 miles round trip to Gila Bend, AZ to acquire new parts for the satellite receiver. Terry spent more time tweaking the system and on the phone to supporters of Direcway to get our system operational. Finally, we received all our emails.

We were both saddened and surprised to hear that Harvey Hamn passed away on September 17. We were told that he had his whole family at his bedside. His funeral is on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2006. Harv had fought his cancer for several years. By listening to his prayers before our meals and the stories of his life, it was evident that he was a Christian and is in a better place. All his family and friends will miss him very much.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Time to Leave Alaska

The golden leaves are falling. We now have to clean frost from the windshield. Fresh snow has fallen on the mountaintops. Terry is watching the weather forecast every day.

Terry has washed the roof of the RV. He even surprised me and defrosted the refrigerator last week while I was running errands. I got a last minute haircut. I cleaned out drawers and rearranged stuff. We will leave Alaska on Tuesday.

Soon it will be time to pack up the satellite dishes, bring the slide-out in, turn the recliners to face the front windshield and drive east and then south.

If you do not hear from us for a while, it means we are in route to our southern destination of Arizona. We will not have access to our email during that time. I will not write in the blog. Sometimes we can get phone service while traveling but sometimes that is very poor. Don’t worry. We will contact you after we set up in Arizona.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Alaskan Women

Alaskan women are friendly, natural women who also are good workers but I was surprised to see them working on road crews. (By natural, I mean that Alaskan women wear little make-up. They do not appear fragile. They don’t put on airs.)

Okay, I have seen women work in construction crews by standing and holding the flag to stop you or driving the pilot car or pick-up but I have never seen them use post hole diggers to set signs in concrete that they have made. But it does happen. There were no males on this crew.

While this was happening, Terry and Raymond were drinking coffee and discussing the hunting trip that Raymond was on last weekend. He and his friend, David shot a moose. (Soon we will be able to taste what moose meat tastes like.) Now Terry is busy with the backhoe while Raymond is helping a client with a C-PAP breathing machine.

Home Improvements

Those of you who have seen our RV or read about it in RV Chuckles and Chuckholes – the Confessions of Happy Campers know that Terry was unhappy with the 20 inch TV in our motorhome. When we moved into the RV in 2004, Terry took out the J-couch and replaced it with the 27 inch TV set taken from our 5th wheel. It could only be viewed comfortably from the sofa across from the TV.
Terry started to research the possibility of getting an LCD TV. Either the technology or the price was not what he wanted. Raymond and Terry renewed their research last week and found a Samsung 32 inch LCD that is the answer to all Terry’s requirements. By removing the little 20-inch monaural TV and the larger 27 inch TV from the 5th wheel, we also lost about 100 pounds of weight. As you know, weight is always an issue in an RV. The Samsung LCD was mounted on a horizontal multiple position arm with 45 degrees of tilt.

Then came the miles of wires to connect it to a good sound system and DVD player. Soon the living room was a mess.

But the results are worth it. The TV can be seen from everywhere you want to view it in the RV and it looks and sounds wonderful.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Dutch Items and Stars for Dutch Star

I looked for things to make our RV homey while in Iowa. Since it is a Dutch star and I am of Dutch descent, I like to use Dutch items and stars as a theme. I found this quilt in the Worn and Mellow Antique Store in Knoxville, Iowa. The trivet, from Pella, depicts Dutchmen planting trees and flowers. It reads “De Hovenier.” My maiden name is Hoven. The name means landscaper or gardener.

While I was in Iowa, the second and third week of August, autumn came to Alaska. (At the end of May, spring came in one week with the buds on trees opening in one week.) Now the fireweed flowers are gone, the temperatures are cool, the green grasses and leaves are turning yellow/brown, and the tops of the mountains have fresh snow. I don’t know how many weeks before we will have to turn south to stay ahead of the snow on the highways.

We plan to drive south via Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. When we reach the USA, we will go south on Highway 15 all the way to the Arizona border. We hope to get south before the ice and snow make it dangerous for the RV. Terry cannot use the exhaust brake to slow down in those conditions. The back end comes around to the front. This happened coming up to Alaska on the Cassiar gravel road. This route will take the quickest, shortest route which goes to Edmonton, AB, Great Falls, MT, Las Vegas, NV and then Highway 95 to Lake Havasu, AZ.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hoven's Celebration

My grandchildren, Ryan De Joode is seated left of the head table while my grandson, Joshua Klein is seated to the right. My parents, Rev. Clarence and Agnes Hoven are seated in the middle.

There were about 100 people at the celebration of my parent’s 65th anniversary in Albia, Iowa on August 19. I asked several people what they thought of the party. People liked “the cake,” “visiting with relatives from Michigan,” and playing with cousins but Mark Klein said it best. “It was good, just what the grandparents wanted. It was their day and they celebrated it like they wanted.”

Their song, “Life is Like a Mountain Railroad,” which was sung at their wedding was beautifully sung on Saturday by granddaughter, Meagan Block. Posters depicted their life with the poem, With God’s Help, They Moved On.

All their surviving 6 children, and the grandchildren who live in Iowa, and most of the 35 great-grandchildren and 2 of their 5 great-great grandchildren were present. Dad’s sister, Etta De Groot and her son Calvin Geers and wife Kathy and daughter Lisa came from Michigan. Bill and Donna Hoven brought Jean and Bern Vander Veen from Michigan. Ray and Ann Hoven came from Michigan with their two grandchildren. Granddaughter Gerilyn and Blake Ahrens came from the St. Louis area with their two children. Granddaughter Tina and Jonathon Main came from Kansas City with their son.

Food included mints, cake, punch, coffee and sandwiches. When dad was asked what he wanted served, he said that he wanted “bologna on hamburger buns”. He received his sandwich of choice. We ate rolls with ham or turkey plus condiments.

Mom sent a notice to the Oskaloosa Herald about the event. She stated that Terry and I were from Alaska. If your home is located “where you are from”, she was right. Our RV was located in Eagle River, Alaska.

I visited my son’s church on Sunday. He sat with the choir. His wife, Connie was in the nursery so I sat by the three teenage grandchildren. The minister asked for members to introduce their guests by name and tell where they are from. My thirteen-year-old grandson, Joshua said, “This is my grandma and she is from wherever she wants to be.”

Friday, August 25, 2006

I'd Rather RV

I have safely arrived back to Anchorage but I don’t mind telling you that I would rather travel by RV. On August 10, I arrived at the Anchorage airport two hours early as requested by the airlines. I stood in line to get my boarding pass. All of the things that I was not sure I could take in my carry on, such as lipstick, make up and my cell phone; I dumped in the stowed luggage. I stood in line to go through the x-ray machine and went to the gate for my flight to Minneapolis and then to Des Moines. There were huge waste baskets where the TSA (Transportation Security Agents) were disposing of toothpaste, lotions, distilled water for CPAP machines, make up, and medicines not in the prescription boxes such as nasal mists. I went to the gate to sit and wait. I stood in line because the TSA personal made a corral of chairs and set up tables to search through our carry ons again. The plane was delayed 53 minutes and then another hour while we sat in the corral. I saw a woman go to the guard and ask permission to go to the bathroom. They searched her again when she returned to her seat.

We arrived in Minneapolis about eleven thirty on August 10. Since we missed our connecting flights, we stood in line to receive vouchers. Then we stood in line to go to register for the shuttle. I stood in line to get on the shuttle. I stood in line to register at the Hotel in St. Paul. I was told to phone for the shuttle in the morning from my room. They said that I needed a 4:30 or 4:45 am shuttle to reach the airport in time for my 7: 10 am flight to Des Moines. My room had a king sized bed that had a control for making the mattress hard or soft which, because of the schedule, I was able to use for three and a half hours. I arrived in Des Moines about 8:30 am but my luggage was missing. I stood in line to report it but did not know my daughter’s address on Highway G71 or her phone number since that information was in the missing luggage. My sister gave them mom’s phone number and address.

The airline personal phoned mom at 6 pm to say they were delivering the luggage that night. My eighty-six-year old mother waited up for it until it was delivered at 10:15 p.m.

On my return trip to Memphis, Minneapolis, and Anchorage was on August 24. At Memphis, the accordion pleated cover from the gate to the airport would not open. We stood in line for 15 minutes to disembark. A portable ramp was brought to the plane to descend to the concrete and another portable ramp was placed to the covered entrance of the gate. I had plenty of time to make my next connection and proceeded to Minneapolis and to my next connection to Anchorage. The flight to Anchorage was delayed one hour because we waited on board for passengers to arrive from another flight and it was stormy. Although the flight to Anchorage was around storms, the pilot skillfully guided the plane with a minimum of bumps. When I arrived in Anchorage, my luggage was there. I am safe but I would rather travel by RV.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My Parent's 65th Wedding Anniversary

I am flying to Iowa on August 10 to visit with family. The occasion is the 65th wedding anniversary of my parents. Pictured is the family in September 2005 at the celebration of
Dad’s 85th birthday. Left to right is Clare Hoven, Angie Rheuport, Clara Klein, Darlene Miller, Joy Block, and Jim Hoven. Clarence and Agnes Hoven are seated in the front row. Mom and dad live in their house in Iowa in the summer and have a mobile home in Mesa, Arizona where they live in the winter. If anyone wishes to send them a card, they would love it. Their address is:

Rev. Clarence and Agnes Hoven
1484 310th Street
Eddyville, Iowa 52553

I will continue with the blogspot when I return from Iowa.

Booksignings in Alaska Bookstores

Dr. Carol Weishampel and I had booksignings on August 4 and 5 and plan another on August 9. Carol will then return to Texas to help her aunt who will receive chemo treatments for cancer. I am scheduled for book signings at Shalom Book Store in the mall in Wasilla on August 26 from 3 to 5pm. And Tidal Wave Book Store on Sept. 7, in Anchorage.

These bookstores are totally different. The Cook Inlet Book Company is in downtown Anchorage and caters mostly to tourists from the nearby hotels. At the booksigning on Friday night, we met people from all over the world. Several were from Switzerland, one woman was from the Netherlands, several were from the lower forty- eight, another couple was from Yorkville, Illinois, which is a few miles from where Terry lived. They reported that they were glad to be on land. The waves were high and the cruise ship felt rocky.

The Greatland Christian Cache is in Eagle River. It is the largest Christian Book Store in the Anchorage area. A gourmet coffee shop and gift center have separate franchises and are located in among the books.

The Fireside Book Store is in the old section of Palmer across from the old train depot.
It will be interesting to see whom we will meet there.

The Tidal Wave Books is the largest bookstore in Alaska. It is an activity center with art and books and meeting places. I have met with ten to twelve authors who read their work and have the rest of us critique it. There are friendly and very talented writers. (One writer, Michele Quau, will meet me for lunch on Tuesday. We have become friends and plan to continue to email each other.) The booksigning here will be a reading before the booksigning.

One thing all of these book stores have in common is that they all have used books as well as new books.

The Down Side of Living in Alaska

You might hit a moose.

A sign on the Glenn Highway about 10 miles from here says that there were 207 moose that died from motor vehicle accidents during the last year. We were driving south of Anchorage when we came upon an accident scene. The moose calf was crying and wandering in circles to and from the cow moose, which was dead and lying on the highway.

You might be in an earthquake.

About a week ago was the first time that I’ve felt an earthquake. It happened about 5:15 am while we were sleeping. The epicenter was in Anchorage in or around the Cook Inlet, which is about 15 to 25 miles from here depending on where it was centered. The tremor shook the RV. The earthquake measured 4.9.

Terry woke up startled and shouted “What was that?”

I answered, “Someone just hit the RV or we are in an earthquake .” Since we are parked close to the road, I dressed and went out to check the RV but could see no damage.

You need to adjust to 20 to 24 hours of sunlight in the summer.

We have adjusted to it being light when we go to bed. Terry has made styrofoam insulation sheets into window covers to block out the light. We go to bed later because it seems to still be early in the day. I do not think that I would adjust to 15 to 20 hours of darkness in the winter. However, now it is nice to drive without being in the dark. I stayed at a friend’s place longer than I planned so I called Terry and told him, “ I

Thursday, July 20, 2006

More Dip Netting

Here is another picture of dip netting at the mouth of the Kenai River. Even though people who are not Alaskans are not allowed to dip net salmon, it is fascinating to watch. I think it is equal to our trip on the Lulu Belle as the highlight of the sights we have seen. The mountain in the background is Mt. Redoubt.

We had friends visit us a few weeks ago. Bruce and Kathy and Robert Johnston came for dinner. We met Kathy and Bruce Johnston at the Boomer's Rally in Quartzsite, at the grocery store in Parker, at the swimming pool in Lake Havasu, at the fireworks in Lake Havasu, at the Elks pre-rally in Yuba City and at the Escapade in Chico. We missed each other in Valdez by one day but then they visited us in Eagle River. Eagle River is the only time that we planned to meet. It is unusual to meet someone so often in one year! They gave me a black velvet cape that I can wear with my early 1800 costume when we go reenacting.

My friend, Dr. Carol Weishampel will be visiting soon. We plan to do some book signing together. See schedule on the media web page of

Terry and Ruth Hager will arrive in Anchorage at the end of August. I will be going to my parent’s 65th wedding anniversary from August 10 to 24. My husband, Terry and I hope to see Terry and Ruth at the end of August. Terry is a member of the Penwheels and Escapee RV club. I went to grade school with Terry 50 years ago. Can I be that old? Remember that I said we were in elementary school. The teacher’s seated us in alphabetical order so we sat near each other for three and a half years.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

In memory of Sharon Bolle

This picture was taken of Dick and Sharon Bolle in March 2006 when the four of us took a trip to see wild burros near Earp, CA. After photographing the wild animals and visiting another campground with interesting Arizona scenes in a large mural, we went to the Paradise Café for fish and chips. Sharon and I also had fun dressing up in big hats at the Spring tea held in the clubhouse.

Perhaps the best way to tell their story is to quote from my book, RV Chuckles and Chuckholes – the Confessions of Happy Campers.

“We met Dick and Sharon Bolle at an RV park in the desert of California and were surprised to see them a month later near San Bernardino at a steak dinner in the clubhouse.

Dick and Sharon were born and raised in Iowa. Since I have lived in Iowa longer than anywhere, we immediately found that we knew the same places and had common interests.

For the last thirty some years, they have lived in Texas. They travel about half of the year in their RV and live on a lake the rest of the time. Their interests are canoeing, riding a tandem bike, exploring National Forests and RV manufacturers, and eating in small restaurants where you don’t recognize the name.

They mentioned that they were planning to visit an RV factory on Monday. Were we nterested? We contacted the manufacturer and discovered that they had a 10 a.m. Class A tour and a 3 p.m. Class C tour. We offered to drive and decided to eat lunch at a little restaurant without a national franchise.

We had a good time on Monday. We even did a little shopping after the tours. I was exhausted. Dick and Sharon never complained. They were unusually courteous. Dick chivalrously opened the car door for me.

Why is this couple so special? We meet RV people all the time who are like them. Maybe they don’t ride tandem bikes or open car doors but most RVers are pleasant people whom we have met again and again.

But Dick wasn’t always like this. He has had a change of heart.

I don’t mean that he was a bad guy who became a good guy. Dick was a very sick man who has had a heart transplant.

In 1980, Dr. Cooley gave him a new heart valve at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston, Texas. It improved his condition, but gradually he became more and more ill until he was spending almost as much time in the hospital as out of it.

Dick and Sharon moved to Houston in 1987 to an apartment to await the news of an available heart. They were at the zoo when the pager went off. Sharon pushed Dick in the wheel chair to the phone to get the news. A heart was available. When the doctors and nurses heard where they were, Dick was called “the man from the zoo”. While prepping Dick for surgery, the doctors learned that the heart was not suitable for Dick. Emotionally, he must have felt like a woman who is 9 months pregnant who goes to the hospital and is sent home again. You know that you will get this wonderful gift but not today.

He was called again on June 22, 1987 to receive the heart of a 19-year-old man. Emotionally, the time of surgery is more difficult for the close family members than for the patient. He is given pain meds and meds to make him unconscious while the family members can only wait and pray.

Sharon supported Dick all the way. She stayed with him and asked questions and checked everything done for him. Their marriage is like riding a tandem bike – supporting and balancing each other.

Dick worked as a person who developed and created prototypes for heating and air conditioning systems. His work was both mental and physical. He was able to return to work in January of 1988. He has now retired. Dick goes to St. Luke’s Hospital for a yearly check-up.

Dick appreciates the gift of life. He especially appreciates that he is physically able to do as much as any 69 year-old man with a thirty-something heart.”

Dick called me this morning to tell me that Sharon did not survive an
automobile accident on July 1,2006. She was 64 years old.

Alaskan's Dip Netting

Only Alaskans can go dip net fishing. Terry’s job was to drive people and supplies the mile or so from the parking lot through the soft, wet sand to the mouth of the Kenai River where the salmon were returning from the ocean. My job was as guardian of the stuff (food, coolers, fish da bonkers and other fish cleaning supplies.) Raymond and Teresita’s job was to catch and clean salmon. We all ate salmon at the campsite. It tastes so good when it is fresh and eaten outdoors!

The scene was perfect. Snow covered Mt. Redoubt was in the background. Sea gulls fluttered about waiting for the fish heads and entrails to be thrown back into the ocean. A lone eagle circled overhead. The tide kept creeping closer and closer so I moved our stuff up the bank six times to prevent it from getting wet.

I brought a magazine to read but didn’t read very much since I was conversing with the other anglers. Lonnie, from Anchorage, gave me a cold can of Sprite.

A school of flounders were caught by many of the fishermen. Raymond even caught three flounders at one time. Flounder is good eating but most people didn’t bother with them because their bodies are so thin that it is difficult to fillet a good fish steak. The fishermen were after salmon. They gave the big flounders to a woman in a red cap and threw the small ones back. The fishermen agreed that the salmon run was poor but it is early in the season. They would get more fish the next time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Only in Alaska?

I took this picture in a parking lot in Whittier. I’m not sure if the animals are reindeer or caribou. One place I read that reindeer are domesticated caribou. Then I learned that there is more than one kind of caribou and reindeer and caribou are different breeds.

I’ve given some thought on what to write about Alaska. I think that what I’m writing is only true in Alaska but I may be wrong. I welcome your comments in the comment section of this blog.

We were traveling along the Funny River Road toward Sterling when we saw a runway/golf course. Or was it a runaway converted into a golf course? I suppose the airplanes have the right of way. Who mows the grass?

The salmon are starting to return to the rivers. Alaskans can use dip nets to catch salmon for their own use in the next few weeks. Everywhere you shop, Wal-mart, Fred Meyers, Cosco, you find lots of fishing equipment. In Soldotna, at the Hardware and Fishing store, I saw a whole rack of de bonkers. They are also known as fish whackers. They are small baseball bat like pieces of wood used to hit the fish over the head.

We bought the Sunday paper for July 2– the Peninsula Clarion’s life section featured 3 recipes for the 4th of July. They were BBQ Moose Ribs, Rhubarb Spicy Sauce, and Perfect Salmon.

If you want to watch fireworks, the paper suggests that you watch the PBS Washington DC fireworks on TV. You will not see fireworks outdoors. It doesn’t get dark enough. Hope you had a happy Independence Day!

Monday, June 26, 2006

We went Sailing!

We woke up Saturday morning, June 24, to cloudy skies and cool temperatures but it wasn’t raining as it had for many days. Raymond and Teresita invited us to go sailing with them. We enthusiastically answered, “Yes.” We drove the Glenn Highway through Anchorage, around the Cook Inlet to the tunnel which leads to Whittier.

You must reach the tunnel by the half hour or you need to wait an hour. It takes cars, RVs and pickups twelve to fifteen minutes to drive the three miles through the mountain tunnel. The traffic goes one way along the dark, narrow stone sides of the hole in the mountain. A sweeper vehicle drives through. Now trains take their turn to drive to or from Whittier. The town was a military installation but now is used by tourists. A fourteen-story cruise ship was anchored in the bay dwarfing the other boats and ships.

Raymond backed the van to hitch up the trailer holding the ship named the “Jolly Cork” and towed it to the ramp. After sliding into the water, and moving the van and trailer back into the parking lot, we were on our way. Prince William Sound’s turquoise water was calm so we used the motor to get underway. The boat’s interior is similar to a small RV. It sleeps four, has a galley with propane stove and sink and has it’s own toilet.

Do you remember that we were on Prince William Sound when we were in Valdez? Whittier is on the west side of the sound while Valdez is on the east side of the sound. The two towns are approximately 100 miles apart via water but over 300 miles apart via roads. Have I mentioned that Alaska is huge?

We rode with the shoreline visible on both sides of the boat. The trees are a lush dark green. Rocks are various shades of light brown to black. The mountains vary from the blue snow of glaciers to white capped peaks. We passed a rookery where the sea gulls were nesting. Thin bands of water trickled down the mountains where they met and formed larger waterfalls. We anchored in a cove where five waterfalls met to form one large white cascade of water flowing into the bay. The sound of the waterfall was music to accompany our lunch. Sometimes the sails caught a gentle breeze and we were able to navigate without the motor. An eagle soared over our heads. A seal dove into the water and bobbed up with a salmon in his mouth. Sea Gulls fluttered around the seal hoping for leftover seafood. After six hours of sailing, we returned the ship to dock and made the return trip through the mountain tunnel and along the highway home. It was a great day!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Living in Alaska

The state bird of Alaska is the ptarmigan. This one I photographed while on the trip to Denali. He seems to be in transition from the winter white feathers to the summer brown ones.

We planned to go to Flat Top Mountain and see the sun go around the mountain on the summer solstice on June 21. Teresita and Raymond have beautiful pictures of it taken in 2004. However it rained this year. It feels like it is always too early to go to bed at night since it never gets dark. Terry has fixed styrofoam in the windows so our bedroom gets dark. Once we get to sleep, it isn’t too bad.

One of the problems with RVing is that it is difficult to get dental appointments when you are only in an area for a maximum of six weeks. We have not stayed longer than that in one place since 1999. Since we are in Alaska for the next few months, I contacted a dentist named Dr. Yassick for an appointment. What could be a more appropriate name then “yes sick” for a Doctor?

The dental receptionist was surprised at the results of the four-page questionnaire that I filled out. The last time I went to a dentist was in Raleigh, North Carolina. My Dr. is in Iowa. My address is in Texas. My area code for my phone is in Oregon. I told her that I am an RVer.

He surprised me too. Where but in Alaska will your dentist be a bush pilot and his office be in a log cabin?

Another good thing about being in one place for several months is that I have my own library card. One thing a writer loves to do is read. Pardon me while I read awhile.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Lu-Lu Belle

In my book “ RV Chuckles and Chuckholes – the Confessions of Happy Campers”, I wrote about the RV lifestyle changes which include where you go to church.

On page 19 you can read, “Sometimes we do not meet in a building. In Valdez, Alaska, we were welcomed aboard a cruise ship called the Lu-Lu Belle and taken into Prince William Sound where we sang familiar songs including one about us all being in the family of God.”

We returned to the Lu-Lu Belle last weekend. We were not disappointed in the one-hour church service with message given under a beautiful waterfall. On the Saturday cruise, we saw Orca whales which seemed to know when we were photographing them because they splashed into the water as the photo was being taken. Raymond had the fastest camera and took some good pictures. The Dall porpoises dove into the wake of the stern of the ship and played peek-a-boo with us. Everyone could get close enough to take pictures of the sea lions and otters. We saw the regal eagles as they flew and landed in the trees beside us. The puffins were busy sitting on their nests. The icebergs were close as you can see in the photo.

Sometimes you meet someone who has a vast knowledge of his or her work and is able to articulate it well. Occasionally you will meet a person who loves his work and is able and willing to go the extra mile. Captain Fred Rodolf is such a person. The cruise was over 7 hours instead of the 5 and ½ hours because Captain Fred Rodolf wanted to show us the whales. The ship is immaculately clean. The patina of the teak and mahogany wood showed the care given the ship. I have never before been on a ship that has oriental rugs on the floor. The cruise was everything we dreamed it would be. Thank you, Captain Rodolf. You made the trip extraordinary!


We celebrated Raymond’s birthday with a four-day trip to Mc Carthy, Kennicott, and Valdez, Alaska. We traveled past glaciers and along 60 miles of gravel road to reach Alaska’s largest ghost town – Kennicott. When we arrived close to the town, we had to park Raymond’s van and walk across the footbridge over the Copper River. We called the Kennicott Glacier Lodge who drove a car to the bridge to transport us the final five miles to the ghost town. In 1908, when the copper mine was in it’s height of productivity, the road was a railroad bed. Today you can see about 40 buildings in various states of disrepair. A few have been restored and many are in the process of stabilization since it is a National Historic Landmark in the Wrangell-Elias National Park. The Chugach Mountains are in the background with the Root Glacier and it’s murrains in the foreground of the town. In the background of the picture is the 14-story mill building. In front are Raymond, Teresita and myself. Terry is taking the picture.

Friday, June 02, 2006

New John Deere Machine

The “new” John Deere machine was delivered on June 1. Actually the machine is pretty old. The driver who brought it to Raymond’s house said that it is older than he is. Terry and Raymond will use it to do grading for Raymond’s new house. Raymond is in the red shirt moving a huge rock in the picture. Terry is in the brown shirt.

The best way to describe the lot is that it is like a chair. The back of the chair is the steep mountain. The seat is where the log cabin will go after the basement and driveway are dug out. The legs of the chair are Upper Fish Lake.

Denali National Park

We went to the Denali National Park over the weekend for a wonderful family time. The weather was perfect to see Mt. McKinley. (Only ten percent of tourists get to see Mt. McKinley because it is usually hidden by clouds.) We stopped at a pull off to see the mountain from a distance. Raymond took this picture of the sign with the mountain in the background. By placing the camera on a tripod and using a timer, he was able to be part of the picture. Left to right is Teresita, Darlene, Raymond and Terry Miller. This trip was the 4th tour through the park for Terry and myself. We saw more wolves, caribou, and dall sheep than we ever saw before. Snowshoe rabbits were everywhere. Most of the animals were close up as well as far away so we got several excellent pictures.

On the way home, we had problems with Raymond's van. The transmission did not work properly. We parked at a parking place off the highway by the Little Susitna River. I grabbed a map to look for markers to tell the tow company. Where the river crossed the Parks Hwy. was a symbol for a boat landing. You will never guess what it was called. Okay, I’ll tell you. It is “Miller’s Landing.” (I thought that it was ironic since all four of us are Millers.) Raymond called a friend to drive us home. We arrived home (Raymond and Teresita's house and our RV) late on Monday evening. Shortly after we stopped, we heard sirens and emergency vehicles rushing past us. I thought, “Thank God, it could have been much worse. We could have been in an accident.” The car is now in a repair shop.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Birthdays, Graduations and Anniversaries

In our family, there are a lot of birthdays, graduations and wedding anniversaries in May. Ray and Teresita’s anniversary is May 1. My daughter Karol’s birthday on May 12, grandson Nathan on May15, granddaughter Jamie’s on May 19, my birthday on May 21, granddaughter Ann’s birthday on May 25 and my sister, Joy’s birthday on May 27. My nephew, Ben Hoven, graduates from high school on May 20. Ann not only has her birthday on May 25 but graduates from high school on the same day! This is a picture of Ann.

One of the problems with Rving is that we can’t be where our children live for all the special days. They happen too fast to be in North Carolina, Iowa, Texas, and Alaska a few days apart but Rving does allow us to travel to see them once a year. When we lived in a stick house, we only saw them every other year. Happy Birthday and graduation everyone!

Mother's Day

We arrived at Raymond and Teresita Miller’s home on May12. They did everything to make us comfortable. We got our RV washed and hooked up to water and electricity. We drove and then hiked up the mountain to see the Denali Mountain which was about 150 miles away. Raymond gave me his arm to assist in coming down the mountain. Teresita had dinner ready.

On Sunday, they gave me this bouquet of red roses for Mother’s Day. My children phoned on Sunday. For those of you, who are confused as to who is who in our family, let me introduce you. Counting our birth, step and adopted children, we had 8 children.

The oldest of our children is Richard who is married to Shelly Klein. Rich works for 3M in Knoxville, Iowa. Rich and Shelly have a daughter, Heather and a son, Jason. Heather has 3 children and Jason and Betsy have a daughter.

Steven, our second son, is married to Marsha Klein. Steve is a welder in Houston, Texas. Their 3 children are Ann, Jamie and Jacob.

Mark is married to Connie Klein. They live in Pleasantville, Iowa with their 5 children, Amanda, Matthew, Joshua, Emily, and Nathan. Mark commutes to Marshalltown for his job as a supervisor at Lenox Corporation.

Raymond and Teresita Miller live in Eagle River. Raymond has his own sleep equipment sales company called Alaskan Sleep in Anchorage, Alaska. Teresita is a registered nurse.

Michael Scott died on December 31, 2001 in Houston, Texas of an aneurysm.

Karol Rhoads works at Wells Fargo as a banker in Knoxville, Iowa. She has 2 children, Ryan and Kari.

Robert is married to Nathalia Miller. His home is in Raleigh, North Carolina. Robert has two daughters, Victoria and Laura. He has his own construction company.

Joy Miller works full time for NASA in Texas, and goes to college full time with a 4.0 average.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Construction Work

Construction work on the roads had already started. We asked some questions of the girl who was directing traffic when she stepped up to the side step on the driver’s door of the RV. When she jumped down, she said “Thanks for the lift.”

We were so glad to arrive at our son’s home in Eagle River after one and a half days of terrible roads, and wintery conditions as we drove over the mountains.

May 11 and 12

Spring and autumn are the seasons that we like the best. Often we travel so slowly north in the spring and south in the fall that we have several months of colorful flowers and leaves and mild temperatures. But we beat the season when we came to the Cassiar which is also known as Hwy. 37. This scene shows that it was still winter. We had a stretch of road 16 kilometers and another of 12 kilometers which were gravel. We unhitched the toad. I drove the car and Terry drove the RV after I took this picture.

Black Bear

The central and northern areas of the British Columbia coast are known for the large amount of black bear. From May 4th thru May 11th, we searched for bears and other wild animals. Pictured is a large black bear who watched us take his picture through the car window. The first 5 days, we used the green toad (4 wheel drive Suzuki towed car) and traveled to road’s end. The last 3 days were in the RV as we traveled toward Alaska. The goats and sheep were seen from a stopped area where we looked through binoculars and spotting scope. (They are like looking at white ants with the naked eye.) We did see 8 sheep which came down for water so we have good pictures of these.

The totals of the animals that we saw are 56 Black bear, 8 eagles, 1 lynx, 2 foxes, 5 deer
3 Moose, 10 caribou, 1 wolf, 5 swans, 42 dall sheep (with great pictures of 8), 20 white mountain goats + a grizzly bear chasing them. He did not catch a goat during the two hours we were watching.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Canada and North Vancouver

Canada and North Vancouver

The natural green areas in the city surprised us. We hiked in Lynn Canyon where we walked over this suspension bridge. I am pictured with Shawn. The bridge is much longer than it looks in this picture. The pine and evergreen trees seem to be hundreds of feet tall. The water was clear as it spilled down the waterfall to the rocks below. On Monday, May 1,we drove along the Howe Sound to Whistler, which is a ski area that will be home for the 2010 Olympic games. Although there is construction to widen the road, it is easy to travel with our Suzuki. Because of the hairpin curves and gravel roads further north, we were advised not to try to travel with our RV on Hwy 99 to Lillooet and to Hwy. 97.

We traveled back to Blaine, Washington to get our RV. On Tuesday, May 2, we returned to British Columbia with our RV and toad (towed car).

We had no problem at the border. We showed our passports and answered a few questions and were on our way in about five minutes. Now we had to make a few changes. Miles became kilometers. We soon learned that 100 kilometers is equal to 60 miles per hour. Of course, 50 kilometers is equal to 30 miles per hour. If you are not sure of the speed, you just make sure that you are driving under the speed limit, which is not the speed that the Canadians are driving.

Bridges were a concern because they are measured in meters. Since we are 12 feet and 6 inches tall, we learned that we are okay as long as the bridge is at least 4 meters tall. They seemed to be built for semi trucks to travel so all the bridges that we encountered were tall enough.

We exchanged $100 for 20’s, 10’s, 5’s and twonies and loonies. We were given $109 for $100. Later the rate dropped to $105 for $100 of USA monies.

Canadian Cousins

Canadian Cousins

Terry and I left our RV at a campground in Blaine, Washington and drove our green toad (Suzuki 4 wheel drive towed car) to North Vancouver.

We had no problem with Canadian Customs. We showed our passports and answered a few questions and were on our way.

Cheryl Miller Megalos and Joanne Miller Richardson’s grandfather, who was Raymond Edward Miller, and Terry’s father, William Charles Miller, - were brothers. Joanne brought her sons, Austin and Shawn, to Cheryl and Jimmy Megalos’s new home on April 30. Joanne Richardson is standing behind the log. Left to right is Cheryl Megalos, Shawn
Richardson, and Austin Richardson.

Cheryl and Jimmy’s new home is part of a triplex. On it’s 3 floors you will find 3 bedrooms, a den, a laundry room, kitchen, living room and 3 and a half bathrooms. Terry and I appreciated using a bathtub before retiring since we were invited to spend the night.

We pass through large cities but do not spend much time there since most cosmopolitan cities are not RV friendly. The Megalos family uses public transportation as well as driving their car. A bakery and other specialty shops and restaurants are within walking distance. We walked to a restaurant called “Incognito” for dinner. The Canadian cousins were very friendly and hospitable. It was so good to connect with family again.

RV Authors Cooperative

RV Authors Cooperative

There were 23 books at the RV Author’s Cooperative at the Escapees Spring Rally in Chico, CA. Left to right are Janice Lasko, the editor of Escapees magazine, Judy Frances, who wrote in RV Womens’ Traveling Tales, Jane Kenny, who wrote the book, Casino Camping, Alice Zyetz who wrote You Shoulda Listened to Your Mother, Darlene Miller who wrote RV Chuckles and Chuckholes – the Confessions of Happy Campers, and Jaimie Hall who wrote Support your RV lifestyle. Alice and Jaimie are also the editors of RV Women’s Traveling Tales and the writers of the cd Taking the Mystery out of RV Writing. The four days passed quickly as I learned much from these talented women about writing and marketing books. We had fun and interesting conversations.

Escapade- Kay Peterson and CARE

Escapade, Kay Peterson and CARE

Sorry about the late posting of these journal entries. We have been traveling in areas where we could not connect our satellite dish.

Meeting people and becoming involved with them is one of my goals while traveling and exploring. The best way to do this is to volunteer. At the Escapees Rally, I looked at the list of volunteer “work” and decided to be a hostess for seminars. This involves introducing speakers and checking lights and assisting the speaker however possible.

It was an honor to introduce one of the founder’s of the Escapee Club, Kay Peterson. Kay is the little lady in the picture with me. She spoke about a unique project of hers – the CARE facility in Livingston, Texas. The acronym of CARE means “continued assistance for retired Escapees.” The facility is a day care and residence for people who temporarily or permanently can’t travel anymore. What makes this center different from any other project for assistance of the elderly and infirm is that they live in their RV’s with their own pets and personal things but receive care and meals with their friends. I have volunteered at CARE and have found the facility superior to any other facility that I have seen or worked at as a registered nurse.

The second speaker that I introduced was Janet Taylor who spoke on “Travel Wardrobe Enhancement Made Easy.” She demonstrated how to change T-shirts and shirts by adding iron –on transfer studs and crystals.

Terry, my husband, went to seminars about photography, solar collectors, and diesel engines. We visited with special interest groups of Escapees called BOF (birds of a feather) groups such as Boondockers, Boomers, and Elks. We went to all the entertainment. I sold my book at the RV Author’s Cooperative.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Red Hat Ladies

Since the grassy areas with the power hook-ups were saturated from a recent rain, we were told to park our RV on the edge of the pavement. Terry did. Remember what I said about being parked in a safe area in the fairgrounds? Well, forget that.

A group of people was setting up for a Vintage Clothing Fair when we felt a jolt in our RV. A woman hit us. Fortunately, she only scratched a little paint off the bumper of the RV. She was so upset that I ended up hugging her. She paid us for the damages but it was an upsetting day.

I did have fun though. We dressed up in our red hats and purple clothing for lunch. (I am the second person from the back row on the left.) In the evening, we went to the Marysville Elk Lodge for a fish fry.

California Traffic

Travel to Escapee Rally

On Wednesday, April 19, we drove over 500 miles to Yuba City to the Elk pre-rally. It is called a pre-rally because we are all Elk members and members of the Escapees Club bound for the Escapade Rally in Chico. Staying at the fairgrounds in Yuba City gave us a chance to visit with friends and park our RV in a safe area.

Terry is really into alternative sources of energy. He had me take a picture of a huge solar power complex while on Hwy. 395. The windmills, in this shot, were located near Edwards Air Force base. Yes, I took the picture from the moving RV. We did not stop.

The scenery in the San Joaquin Valley was relaxing as we viewed cattle and sheep grazing on a thousand green rolling hills interspersed with orange orchards and green vineyards. We were tired when we arrived in Sacramento during rush hour traffic. Finally we arrived at our destination but couldn’t find anyone because they were all at dinner. This is not the way we usually travel since we normally take our time and stop to smell the flowers and take our pictures.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Crystal Cathedral Comments

This picture is of Terry and Darlene Miller behind the statute of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus on the grounds of the Crystal Cathedral.

A Dominican Republic fan has left a new comment on your post "Happy Easter": Hello RV Chuckles,It really sounds like that play must have been stupendous, as you say. Don't you really have any idea how they managed to make the scenery changes "just appear"? Were they using, for example, slides or film background? I can't imagine they were sorcerers.

Answer: Thanks for the comment on my blog.

The "stage" for the production is one gigantic stairway which is 124 feet via 80 feet high. Since the passion play is in a glass building, it is only shown at night. The spotlight is usually only on the section that has the action. The water for the pool of Siloam came from an opening in the floor that had a fountain in it. Every movement of the 200 live actors was choreographed.
They moved, or danced, vertically as well as horizontally. The angels flew via unseen wires using technology that was used by Mary Martin in Peter Pan.

The audience of 1,500 people sat in theater type seats which had arm rests and cushions and were on a different level for each row of seats. Everyone could see the play.

The main characters were actors from nearby Hollywood. The whole production was so well done that you felt like you were in Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago.

Darlene Miller

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Happy Easter


Tuesday, April 11, 2006 we went to the passion play called The Glory of Easter which was performed at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, CA. I do not know enough superlative words to describe the play. The audience was spell bound by the spectacular music on the soundtrack with the London and Seattle Symphony Orchestras recordings and the eight trumpeters and four drummers who played live from the balcony. The soloists were outstanding. The hundreds of performers and the live horses, donkey, sheep, goats, a camel and even a water buffalo appeared on stage at the appropriate moments.
There were no curtain calls or intermissions. The props for scenery for the sets of Jerusalem streets and buildings, the garden of Gethsemane, Calvary, even the water for the pool of Siloam just appeared when needed. The spectacular chorus of angels floated as high as 60 feet from the stage as they sang Alleluia after the resurrection. It was awesome!

Dr Carol Weishampel

A friend, Dr. Carol Weishampel, has created a blogspot about traveling to Alaska with many of her 12 children. You can go to it at

She also has an article in the March/April 2006 Escapees magazine called Service Dogs and a short article on page 54 about the Author’s Co-Op. I will be attending the Author’s Co-Op in Chico, CA on April 23-28 for my book, RV Chuckles and Chuckholes – the Confessions of Happy Campers. I also have a short article on page 54 about a Cotton Gin Festival in Burton, TX on April 21-23. I will not be attending this festival since I am on my way to the Escapade RV Rally.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Happy Campers?

On April 5, we drove our motorhome near San Bernardino, California. We could see clearly all around us but the cloud level was low so we could not see the mountains. A rainbow appeared to the left of our RV. I poured milk and sliced fresh strawberries on my cereal. In the passenger’s seat, I had a panoramic view as I ate my breakfast. I thought, “This is the life for me!”

But clouds were darker ahead. Soon we were riding though pouring rain. At the campground, we found that our parking site had a moat around the basement storage. I was glad that I had bought waterproof Croc shoes a week before as I waded into the water to place the wood boards in front of the tires. The water felt icy but the temperature was 45 degrees.

Then I saw it. There was mud on the carpet. I was not a happy camper. Terry, my husband, had taken off his shoes but the cuffs of his pants were muddy. Bless his heart.

Could it get any worse? Hail fell all around us until it completely covered the ground. Could this be April in sunny California?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Getting Started

Today is the first day of my blog. I am at a campground in Desert Hot Springs. You may wonder why I'm indoors instead of outside in the sunshine. Because I am learning this new means of communication. From this campground I can see snow on the mountains, palm trees in the foreground and azaleas and other flowers around me. There are thousands of three armed windmills dancing in the wind near here.

We plan to head north to Alaska in the next month. I hope you will join me as I travel with my husband. We search for fun and frivolity in our everyday life.