What a group of women we were on that trip to Prudhoe Bay. The youngest of us was 39, the oldest 60-something. We were comprised of two wives, four divorcee’s, one old maid (me!), four mothers, one grandmother, four nurses, two OR techs, and a health administrator. We dubbed ourselves the Seven Sassy Sisters.
As always, getting out of town was the biggest challenge. We were taking advantage of the long July 4th weekend, adding that extra day to a couple of vacation days to allow for a total of 5-6 days on the road. Two of the ladies had to work Wednesday, so they were packed and ready to go straight from work. We agreed to meet up at a grocery store parking lot in Eagle River. After everyone trooped in and out of the store for last minute items we finally hit the road. A dinner stop at a Taco Bell in Wasilla ate up another hour!
We stopped again at the Talkeetna cut off to use the truck-stop bathroom. (Seven bladders…!) There we had our first real hiccup. Winnie wouldn’t start. We knew tapping on the starter with a wrench sometimes worked (per Dad’s advice) so we dug out the tool bag, but then stood around wondering where the starter was and how to get to it! Finally a pair of truckers came to our rescue and we were once again on the road, having had a lesson on where to tap! By this time it was nearly 10pm, but the sun was still well above the horizon and we really wanted to make Fairbanks before stopping for the night so we pushed on.
Somehow Winnie ended up ahead of the pack without us knowing it. (Did I mention seven bladders?) We called S. to tell her that we were approaching Fairbanks and asked her to guide us in to the RV park. S. thought she was in the lead – didn’t realize we had blown past her on one of her potty stops – so told us the exit was coming up soon when we had actually already passed it! We were soon out of walkie talkie range and had to resort to cell phones. We agreed to meet at the Fred Meyer grocery store. D. accosted a young man for directions and talked him into leading us there. (He looked a bit like a drug dealer but we weren’t picky by that time…it was nearly 2am!) No one was there. Luckily our new friend was willing to lead us across town to the OTHER Fred Meyer store (who knew there were two?) where we finally re-connected with our group and headed across the highway to River’s Edge RV Park.
I’m sure we were a hit with the rest of the RV’ers as we cruised up and down the aisles looking for three slots together at nearly 3am. Then there was the setting up of the pop-up and making sleeping arrangements for all. As we unhitched the trailer, someone spotted a leather bag on the bumper…it was the tool bag we had used in Talkeetna! It has now been officially named the Magnetic Tool Bag in honor of its journey from Talkeetna to Fairbanks balanced on the rear bumper of the pop-up trailer!
It was with some trepidation that we shut Winnie’s engine off. We made a plan to try and get the starter fixed the next day and went to bed as the sun came up. Tomorrow would go smoother with less highway traffic and no more cities to navigate!
(sorry no pictures of this first day…I was a nervous wreck about Winnie not starting and my camera sat neglected through all the best scenery!)