Ruth and Bob See Alaska

Reading Mom’s travel journals: On to Alaska. Life with Ruth wasn’t always filled with poignant moments of sentimental elderly encounters.

She and Daddy were real characters.

Ruth born 1917, Bob in 1915 … yes, the Great Generation. Certainly they qualified for the best parents. Couldn’t find fault with them in life or in death. Enjoy, those of you who knew Ruth here in Washington, those who enjoyed her humor and smile. Even if you didn’t know her, I think you’ll appreciate her travel diaries. Will publish more …

Notes from Ruth’s travel journal, April, 1983.

Their trip starts in Fort Smith, Arkansas in a Chevy Suburban pulling a 30′ Airstream trailer. The trailer was my father’s religion — the culmination of all things holy in one huge silver bullet. Many people feel this way about Airstreams. They were on their way across the US, via a Kentucky Bluegrass Tour, a short trip to visit the relatives in Cincinnati, and then west to Alaska for a couple months. In Shelbyville, KY they met up with Wally Byam Caravan group trip #1. [read about Wally Byam Caravans here]

About Keeneland in KY, she writes, “Real pleasure to have a young Irish fellow on an exchange program at Gainesway, brought out Temperance Hill — now at stud fro $50,000 a shot! Said he was a real fine horse and pointed out his features.” (There’s a family connection to this horse.) There’s more in the journal about the KY group, mostly about meeting people named Griswald and a couple, Edna and Ike.

They all had a “tasty lunch” at the original Colonel Sanders. The narration of over 2,500 miles of their road trip culminates with their arriving at Dawson Creek, the real one, in June. The reality of the trip they are about to take, following the AlCan highway, hits them. (If you’ve never read the history of highway, read about it. What an amazing act of courage and patriotism.)

In this journal entry, they’re learning about the trip ahead from some seasoned travelers.

We laughed when we saw the stuff people were putting on their trailers to protect them. That was yesterday. By this afternoon, we had contracted to have a man make us a plywood guard for the front of the trailer. We will put the Astro turf rug around it, mud guards will go on the car, we bought some heavy grooved plastic vinyl tape and have covered the trailer windows on the left side, covered the refrigerator intake, and probably will add more tomorrow. We hear the windows cost $109 not installed. We learned about flying rocks, wet and dry gravel, high winds, rain, and road construction. Not to forget dust dust dust. Bob changed the front air duct on the roof by borrowing a ladder and tools. Everyone else is engaged in similar activity, really funny looking. I have been closely inspecting the cars and motor homes coming down the highway. They are plastered with dust and mud — looks like cement. When the meeting ( the Wally Byam group meeting) was over at noon, we went to the Alaska Cafe with Rita and John and had a big wonderful meal. It gave us courage to continue on this adventure. This evening, heard a sales pitch on the ‘fly in’ trips. Seriously considering a trip to Nome and the Arctic Circle, about $1000 for 2 — will probably go as we will never get another chance. We are in this so deep now, we might as well go for broke.. …The arrangement to go to Nome and Katzebu has us really excited, $840.60 for 2 days, overnight in Nome. The agent (so cool) however figured it wrong and had to ask for $48 more today — annoyed us, but we really want to go. Also signed up to go on a boat (naturally) into Glacier Bay. Yup, we’re really going for broke.

More on their Alaska trip and other Wally Byam trips in the future.


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