Spring is on the Horizon!

May 2, 2011

The waiting game has begun. The book is with the Interior Designer and out of our hands for a while. Bill is focusing fully on the bus. Except for a radiator he's found all the pieces we need to make it driveable and safe. The engine has arrived in Fairbanks and Bill brought it up to the cabin last Thursday. He spent two days at a local junk yard where he found a bus exactly like ours. This one still had all the windos in it and it had several less rusty pieces that we can use on our bus to replace the really rusty pieces with. With a sand blaster he's blasted all the remaining rust off the bus - well, mostly. In the weeks to come he'll be putting the pieces together, slowly but steadily.

Whenever Bill is working up at the road on the bus, the girls are nearby. Whether it is to look through the tools or parts, or to climb up the muddy wall alongside the road. The snow has melted almost entirely over the past two weeks. The road has dried out, although our drive way is still a muddy, mucky mess.

We have our eye on a late June departure. Less then two more months to go. A lot still has to happen, but it is doable. The book will take the time it needs to be printed. We can't control that. The speed with which we fix the bus will be in our hands, although it is a little bit weather dependent.

Nights still drop in the upper twenties. Colder than we'd expected. During the day it sometimes warms up to the lower fifties. We've had our share of rain and even a bit of hail. The hail was a pretty sight which the girls enjoyed thoroughly. The sound of the hail on the roof was a strange one. We haven't heard that for a long time. The change of season is here. A change of scenery is upon us shortly. A new journey is about to begin: The Blue Collar Book Tour.

Cheyenne enjoys the falling hail.

Bill is on his way to the junk yard.

At the junk yard.

The other bus.

The bus owner at the junk yard.

Bits and Pieces.

Loading up the pieces.

Robin enjoys her Denali journal.

Fun at the road.

Piece by piece.

The engine has arrived.

The engine.

Vroom Vroom.

Yeller in the remining snow.

Taking the box apart...

...with a little bit of help.

There it goes.

Robin enjoys her new home.

Bill and Cheyenne work in the bus.

Time for mudpie. The table is set.

The girls are in the truck while Bill gets the generator started.

Getting ready for blasting.

Blasting the rust away.

May 20, 2011

Fire season has begun. A wildfire just a couple of miles down the road from us send us into packing mode. We packed up all our important items and every stuffy the girls have in their possession and headed for safety into town.

The wind wasn't heading into our direction, but since we live pretty much at the end of the road, without another route out, we took these precautionary measures. It brought up memories from when our trailer burned in Cambria, California, during our bike journey up here. The girls' stuffies were still inside it and they were determined not no let any of their prized possessions burn this time.

Just down the road...

All packed to evacuate.

We're on the other side of the smoke now. Our cabin is on the other side of the smoky hill.

There is still snow in the creekbed.

After this hectic and tense afternoon we're taking a breather at Dave and Norma's home. It's good to be among friends.

Furthermore, spring is arriving slowly but surely. The buds are opening up, turning the forest a vibrant green. We've been observing the trees closely, waiting for the change to happen. On the sixth warm day it finally happened. From there it went fast. Every day a little more green is showing. It's beautiful.

The girls each picked a tree in the woods to observe. Slowly but steadily we can see the buds growing.

Cheyenne in her fort.

Tea party!

Enjoying last years berries that have reappeared from under the snow. They're a bit sour.

Color is back in the forest.

The first pussy willows are showing themselves.

Bill has been busy with odd jobs to keep making ends meet. But that doesn't stop him from also working on the bus. After spraying off the rust from most places of the bus, we've been painting them. With the help of Martin and Mike, Bill put the engine+bell housing+transmission in too. From there he's added the starter, dip stick and fuel pump. We're moving along!

Before and After.

Cleaning the cilinders.

The guts of the engine.

The morning of putting the engine in has arrived.

The engine cavity.

The transmission.

The bell housing.


It's time.

Heave ho. Push and shove.

It's in.

From the front.

Side/front view.

Martin is spreading rustoleum on the floor of the bus.

Starter, dip stick and fuel pump.

The mirrors (and a whole lot of other parts) have arrived from Florida. Thanks Wally!

Our redneck wind chime.

Robin observes my handy work.

I've recoated the front entry way of the bus.

Meet one of our new pets: the inch long mosquito.

We've done well with our wood supply.

Our pile of sticks.

I've reduced it to a neat pile of sticks.

More fire starter.

Split and stacked.

Stacked, not split.

We're still waiting for the interior designer to finish her part of the job. It's a long, long wait.

May 25, 2011

The evening after we evacuated, the coast is clear to go back home. Although smoke is still covering the mountain side, the fire is under control. Thanks Firefighters!

Jasmine tells a story with stuffy stuffing. She made clouds first and built a house for Rose (the black and white puppy). Now a blizzard strikes...

Planting season has begun. Robin and Jasmine help Amy plant her plants and seeds.

We're in the third round with the Interior Designer. Each time it looks better and better. But each time it takes time. What a process.

After getting the first edition back from the Interior Designer, we decided to have a real paper copy printed from it. In 6x9 form. Bill is the first to lay his hands on it. What a feeling of accomplishment vercomes us. There are still changes to be made, but this first edition is already a beauty. The final edition will only be better!

Bill keeps working, so we're able to buy more parts for the bus. Building an engine is also quite a process. But also this is looking better and better.

Welding the engine bracket on at 10pm. The evening light is amazing.

The engine is mounted.

Add on and add on. Alternator, distributor, water pump, etc...

The first three windows are in. Only 22 more to go...

Memorial Weekend at Quartz Lake

Leaving all our modern facilities behind, we're spending the weekend in an even "drier" cabin at Quartz Lake. As Cheyenne says: "Every time we stay in a small cabin, I think I can live here. Then we stay in an even smaller cabin and then I think I can live here too!" Apparently it doesn't matter where or how we live. It's who we're with that makes a place a home.

This weekend we have the opportunity to live with Laurie and Martin, and Martin's mom Arlayne, at Arlayne's cabin at Quartz Lake.

"What is that white stuff on the Tanana river?" we wonder. It is snow! Still remaining from last winter.

We're taking a break at Brich Lake. Cody also needs to stretch his legs. Cheyenne is eager to hold his leash.

Robin climbs every rock pronouncing it to be Denali. This time she's competing her way to the top with a lady bug.

Arrival at Quartz Lake. Time to unload. We have to cross the lake to reach the cabin.

Unloading the canoe, the sailboat and all our gear.

I go on vacation and I take with me... Lots of gear!

The cabin is somewhere across the lake.

Martin helps me get the sailboat ready to go. It's been years since I last sailed.

Getting the last pieces of advice before I'm ready to go

And I'm off. It's still shallow here so I can't put the dagger board or rudder down yet.


There is little wind. Great to get started with.

Robin eyes over the edge of the canoe, my sail still visible in the distance.

Checking the direction of the wind. It changes directions often.

The view of the lake from the cabin.

Robin at the outhouse; an outhouse with a hip roof!

Robin and Cheyenne enjoy the raft with Laurie, as Martin takes Jasmine for a sail trip.

Building castles on the beach.

Bill enjoys the quietness of the lake. Jasmine is still sailing with Martin.

The shallow water is great for wading.

An elated Jasmine returns from her sailing trip.

An interesting coincidence. Gaastra is a Dutch company, only thirty miles from where I grew up.

It's summer weather.

Evening swim in Quartz Lake.

Donned in life jacket and swimmies, Robin is wading to Cheyenne and Jasmine. They're still in shallow water. The temperature is great, with the sun warming up the water.

Life at the cabin. The smaller you live, the more space you have; adding the great outdoors to your living space.

At 10:41 pm there is still enough day light to play a game of cards: Up and Down the Ladder.

Robin joins GiGi (Arlayne); reading and coloring side by side.

Jasmine takes a well deserved nap, after spending hours on the water. From canoe, to sail boat to raft.

Target practice with a bb-gun.

Bill instructs Jasmine on how to hold the bb-gun.

Even Robin gets a turn.

Once again Robin is situated in the canoe. This time on the way back across the lake.

Cheyenne and Jasmine get to float back in the raft.

Cheyenne and Jasmine are thoroughly enjoying the raft ride.

We're having a picnic, while Martin returns to the cabin for the others to join us.

Building castles in the sand.

Bill, Cody and Laurie arrive with the canoe. Martin is in the sailboat. Arlayne took the water taxi.

A stop at the Knotty Shop on our way back from the lake. Arlayne treats us all to ice cream; a tradition she calls it. Cheyenne and Jasmine are posing at an (almost life size) mosquite, made from knotty wood.

A most enjoyable weekend at the lake. Great weather. Windy on Sunday, resulting in some very exciting sailing (and near flipping the boat over twice...). What a beautiful place to spend time together. Thanks Arlayne, Martin and Laurie!

Getting Ready for Winter
Our First Month in Fairbanks.

Winter is Coming!
Our Second Month in Fairbanks.

Winter is Here!
Our Third Month in Fairbanks.

Life in a Winter Wonder Land
Our Fourth Month in Fairbanks.

A New Year with New Adventures
Our Fifth Month in Fairbanks.

Buried in Snow
Our Sixth Month in Fairbanks.

Crawling out from Under the Darkness
and from Under the Snow
Our Seventh Month in Fairbanks.

A Snow Covered Spring
Our Eigth Month in Fairbanks.

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