Thursday, July 4, 2024



Independence Day!

Got up in no particular rush! Only 125 miles to Gakona. I was really excited about this trip from Tok to Gakona. We would pass three of the schools I worked in as an itinerant special education teacher when I lived and worked in the Copper River School District. 

Turns out the road has been altered so that we had to go on a real hunt to find the school in Slana and when we found the school, we saw that it had been enlarged so much it was unrecognizable.

The school in Chistochina was closed several years ago. I think we found the actual building, but I'm not sure. It appeared to be part of a new community center.

The school in Gakona is closed. I haven't been across the road yet to see if it's still there.

The men who severed as principal teachers in those schools when I was there worked so hard to provide an education for the children in those tiny communities. It makes me sad to see them closed.

We are all checked in at the Historic Gakona Lodge and Trading Post. We are tucked away in cute little Cabin #2. Funny the tricks our memory plays. This place looks entirely different than I remember it. And yet, I can't tell you what might have changed. It's just different. 

On the other hand, the 4th of July Parade we watched in Tok was as familiar as milk and cookies. Politicians, fire trucks, state police, local police, Girl Scouts, and old cars. The added touches made all the difference we needed. First of all there was the ice cream lady and Miss Alaska, then three different floats celebrating Smokey the Bear's 80th birthday, and finally, at the very end of the parade, Santa Claus on a rocket. What fun!

On our way out of Tok, we drove by the Headquarters of the State Forestry Service. Fire is always taken very seriously in Alaska. 

Dinner: Grilled Halibut and Potato Cheese Soup


Thankful Thursday

Stanley is still saying "So far, so good." Thankful we got through all the bad road we went on without damage to the car - especially the tires. He's been looking for any possible leaks and hasn't found anything. The road from Tok to Gakona was much better than roads we were on yesterday. Repairs were much more efficiently done. No tire shredding potholes.

Thankful Dona has found us good places to stay every night so we don't have to sleep in the car. 

Dona -- Thankful for Zac's good physical health and his happy amiable nature. For 32 years, he has brought joy to this family with his smile, his crazy wink, and his sweetness. So very thankful for Sarah and David and their patience and love. Happy Birthday, Zac!

Thankful for Stanley - as always. He is my rock when he isn't busy being my chauffeur on long road trips. I think he was actually impressed today with the route I traveled three days a week as an itinerant teacher. I'm anxious to show him what I did the other two days a week tomorrow or the next day.

Thankful for friends from one end of the country to the other. So anxious to see Marcia and Henry tomorrow. 

Thankful for friends in Hammond. Especially Joan and Janet. They mean the world to me and I am so glad I found them. Thankful for Chelsea and Adrian and the good job they are doing looking after the house and garden. 

Thankful for all the sweet, bittersweet and bitter memories I have of Copper River Valley. The foothills of the Wrangell-St. Elias Mountains were beautiful today. 

The friends are as dear as ever and most of the bitter moments grow dimmer every day. The few left overs are simply valuable lessons to never forget.