Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stewart/Hyder to Prince George

The last two days of the caravan were just driving days, from Stewart/Hyder to Smithers, BC, and the next day to Prince George, the ending point.  Since Chuck and Sally still were stuck with their disabled rig and thus Lorrin and Nyla had to take over the wagonmaster duties, they assembled the other folks and us who are slated to take the training later this month and briefed us on becoming temporary tailgunners.  Larry and Sharon did the duties for the leg between Stewart/Hyder to Smithers, and Trisha and I took over for the last leg, Smithers to Prince George.  Was interesting, but we enjoyed it--I did the tire thumping duties, while Trisha was out by the exit from the park, checking  rigs as they left and giving them the daily reminders.  We enjoyed it, though, as it's a chance to greet everyone in the morning and get the day started out right.

The weather was typical for BC--alternating between overcast, rainy to bright sunshine.  By this time, the mood of the caravan was subtly shifting--for so long it was just one big adventure after another, always knowing that each new day was going to bring some new incredible sights and experiences, and everyone had the air of anticipation and excitement about them.  Now, though, the reality of the trip coming to an end could be seen in the way different folks reacted:  some were very eager to get back home, others were sad that it was coming to an end, and we were definitely in the latter category.  It was such a remarkable experience, we just didn't want it to come to an end.  And we had made such good friendships with so many new friends, we just enjoyed getting to know these folks so much.  Knowing we weren't going to see each other each day was taking an adjustment!

Anyway, we all made it safely to Prince George, with no one having any breakdowns or issues along the way, for which we were very grateful, since as tailgunners it would have been our responsibility to get them back on the road or get assistance!  When we got to Prince George, we all got a big surprise--Chuck and Sally joined us!!  Even though their rig was still in repair, they had driven their tow car to Prince George to surprise us all for the farewell dinner, so Lorrin and Nyla put them up in their rig.  It was so wonderful to see them again and have them there for the dinner.  At the dinner the staff presented a slideshow they had compiled of photos from the whole trip--a very nice retrospective.  They also asked everyone to go around and say a few words about what the trip meant to them--Chuck really got choked up talking about it--not sure how much longer he and Sally may be doing the wagonmaster thing, and this Alaska Your Way trip was totally their idea from conception through lobbying of the company to do it and putting it all together, so it was very emotional for them to see it be such a success.  And, the highlight of the evening was when Lin, knowing that Chuck and Sally had not been with us for the Creative Challenge, reprised her performance of her song to Alaska--just brought tears to my eyes!

Anyway, here are a few shots of the last couple of days:

Bear Creek Glacier, from the other side, as we left Stewart/Hyder

Just can't get enough of these pictures of reflections in the water--Trisha loves to shoot them and she does such an excellent job!

 See how the fall colors are coming out!

Some of our last glacier sightings

These aspens are so tall--would love to see them in their fall golden adornment!

Also just love these different shadings of greens, yellows and golds

Cute little church

the sky, reflected in the water
Massive stacks of logs, waiting to be turned into boards
Like here

Coming into Prince George, our last stop on the caravan

At the farewell dinner, Lin, with Jean Stuart from Florida
Marvin and Linda, who are now full-timing
Lee, from California
 Randy and Karen from Michigan

Ray and Dee, from the Villages in Florida

Ann and Harlan, from Tennessee
Kathy and Ken from Missouri
Dave and Joan, also from the Villages in Florida
Jim and Pat, from south Georgia!

Paul and Jodi, both retired military, now full-timing
Larry and Sharon, from Tampa--they are the other couple who will be joining us for training
Our friend, Paul, from Venice, FL, Lin's husband
Emma and Maynard, Dazey's parents--from North Carolina, but they will be coming to Florida while we're there and we'll be able to see them then
Lorrin, our fabulous tail-gunner getting the slideshow ready
Jean and Jack Stuart, from Tavares, FL; we'll get to see them next winter

Randie and Lee, from California
The ever crazy Don Trainer, going for the big swoon with his adorable wife, Carolyn, when he saw me coming with the camera!
And then they posed for about as serious as they ever got the whole time!  Such a hoot and he provided comic relief to the caravan throughout

Chuck, the Wagon Master extraordinaire getting a little choked up
Sally, the creative Wagon Master Extraordinaire, and Chuck--it was so crazy to see them dressed up, as the whole time they were in Fantasy shirts and caps!
Nyla, the outstanding nature tour guide, and Lorrin, our wonderful tailgunners, who will be the wagon masters on this tour next year
Chuck giving his thoughts
Lorrin and Nyla got a little emotional, too!
Sally, giving a few last thoughts

The next morning the staff had coffee and donuts as folks were saying last goodbyes and taking off.  This was truly a memorable experience, which we'll never forget!

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