Van Chronicles — Seward, AK 6.2.17

Rob rode off to fill up some water for your Berkey water filter from a waterfall we passed nearby. So it seems like a perfect speck of time to tell you what the events of the last few days have been. It can be hard to make spare time. Isn’t that just the most unexpected thing? Seems I’m beginning to get the hang of this travel while working kind of thing. Am I making money? Barely.

I already see him on his bike coming back through the trees with a watering can in one of his hands. That was quick! I hear the ting of the stainless lid beyond the brim of my cap and then the pour of the water into the filter.

“Let’s do this,” Rob tells me and we’re off. Not much time to say hi. Was it?


There’s nothing quite like patching an old shirt while watching a movie in the middle of a forest in Seward, Alaska in the upstairs of your VW Van. We built a custom rain fly out of some old greenhouse plastic, duct tape, small clamps, and some Velcro which after about a week stopped sticking to the plastic. It’s up now and it works extremely well, despite the level of hillbilly it gives to the van. It’s supposed to start raining. We’ll see.

As I said, we’re in Seward now. Farewells can be unexpected and quick in Homer at the beginning of fishing season. One afternoon Henry’s captain calls and says, “We leave tomorrow night at 8 o’clock. Be ready.” And that’s all the time we had.

We met up with him and Elizabeth in the sunroom at Finn’s on the Spit for pizza and a view to die for. The weather caused the bay and glaciers and capped mountains to glow like a picture too perfect to take. A sunny day in Homer, Alaska, is worth a year of sun in LA. I’d know.

We walked the docks from there and we got to see both Henry’s and Elizabeth’s boats on the water. We’d seen Henry’s before but not Elizabeth’s. It doesn’t have a shower or a head. And it’s tiny. No joke, tiny. The beds are literally cubby holes. Just in the harbor I was getting nauseous on the boat. What an amazing group of people to make it through a summer together in that cozy space.

Dinner was farewell tacos at Corrine’s cabin on the farm. And then we hugged him and Henry was gone. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve said goodbye to him.

We stayed around the campfire and talked until it was late and getting cold. We left the next day. A sticky bun and tea at 2 Sisters. Then out to the docks for hugs with Emily and we started the drive.

We hadn’t even gotten off the Spit when Althea, the van, malfunctioned. The petal dropped. I could no longer give her gas.

The pedal, another addition to the list of flaws in your lovable VW Van is riveted on at the bottom and now, 29 years later, those soft aluminum rivets snap as I’m driving down the Spit in Homer, Alaska.

We got ourselves into a parking spot to think. First we attempt a screw but our options are slim. None fit. But our second try is successful with wire weaved up the two holes and twisted tight.

We literally made it to Seward that way. And here we’ve gotten to use our bikes, riding from this campground, Silver Derby on Lowell Point, Site 14, down the gravel road. The view along the water is breathtaking which is good because you have to hold your breath every time a car passes for the dust. The town is crowded with passengers from the cruise ship.

Today we woke early to beat the wind to the water and were able to kayak the bay. It was finally something Trill could join us with even with her casted leg. Poor girl.

“I thought I’d seen it all,” said a fisherman as we loaded her into the kayak with her neon orange life vest and pink cast wrapped in plastic to keep out the water. And that water was glass as they say and we watched as the clouds capped the peaks we’d seen so clearly yesterday.

Seward’s mostly a tourist town with a boardwalk that says, “The start of the Ididorod.” I keep feeling that we should bring Trill to the starting line since in the dog scheme of things that would be something to tell her friends. Like the dog from the neighboring campsite that keeps coming over to play with ther. We keep having to tell her no. She doesn’t get it. You can’t jump and juke with a casted leg.

Today we leave Seward. Off toward Anchorage and whatever trouble we can find in between here and there.

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