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!