The weekend started at a relaxed pace, on the road no earlier than 1100. The big boat was piled with our stuff, plus the twelve of us, making it look like we were leaving for weeks, not just one night. I guess you still require the same amount of camping gear for one night as for many! The drive to the campsite on Coal Mine Road should have taken about forty-five minutes, except that one of the lids blew off one of the tubs, and when we (the blue van, with J&R) went back to find it, we decided to wait for Adam to finish work so that he could ride with us. About an hour later (wow) we were on the road again.
The tarmacadam ended at the highway, morphing into a dirt strip that ran up to and under the pipeline, getting bumpier and ruttier the further we went. As we were off-road, and travelling at about 5mph, Jude Chris was released from his car seat and perched himself on some of the luggage, the back of his head knocking rhythmically into the window over every bump - but totally unconcerned.
Finally we arrived at where the ute (are they utes in Alaska?) was parked, with a four-wheeler missing from the flatbed trailer. Soon, however, Chris screamed towards us with clouds of dust and revving of craziness. He and Adam took some of the supplies back to the cabin and we waited for rides.
The track to the cabin was just wide enough for a four-wheeler, so we abandoned the van and all clambered aboard, howbeit uncomfortably!
The campsite & cabin
At the cabin, unpacking (for what it's worth) didn't take long, and after a nice cold beer to reward us for our hard work, we went four-wheeling. I drove with Dad on back, Adam drove alone, and Jonathan drove with Rebekah.
Chris, building a tent , and below, Jonathan & Jude
The three smallest, running to check on the growing camp-site
At the coal mine, there was a large rusted piece of machinery, full of bullet-holes. Some were massive, almost an inch in diameter. We clambered up the long arm of the machine, I presume which used to be some sort of moving ramp to put the coal on. Then onto the main body of the machine, where I snagged my jeans on a bullet hole and managed to tear them. Quite annoyed about this, as I bought them in Ireland, and they're my favourite jeans (Mum, I'm going to have to get a new pair sent out !!!) I should be able to patch them, I hope.
Jude Chris went wild in the cab, to the concern of most, standing up into one piece of metal and then falling down into another, reaching towards sharp bullet holes and being pulled away at the last minute. That child must be headed towards being an Explorer or something ! Jonathan found a geocache and added to it, although I'm not sure what he wrote.
Jude 'exploring' (at the cabin, not at the mine)We climbed the sliding sides of the coal mine, we drove through river fords, and on the way back, to let Dad drive, I rode with Adam. I'm not not saying I don't trust my father, but as he has never ridden an atv before, I chickened out... I would probably have been safer with him - thanks Adam for driving insanely fast, almost throwing me off at one stage, and reducing my tailbone to dust. OK maybe I'm being slightly dramatic.
After the drive, we played scrabble, and then had dinner, which was grilled pork chops and chicken breasts, with crazily good potato salad courtesy of Laura, and marinated grilled vegetables by Rebekah. Mmm!
And in the evening, we went fishing. We didn't actually catch any fish, although Chris had managed to catch one while the rest of us were four-wheeling earlier. We did have a good time drinking rum and coke, smoking cigars (not me), and listening to music. The lake was as still as glass, the sun keeping its face above the horizon even after midnight.
And that was the end of the first day... More to come !!!
Chris & Adam doing crosswords
Nick with the fish 'he' caught
Dad just taking it easy...
I have no coal-mine photos as I refused to take my new phone on the atv's. I'm sure Dad and Jonathan have loads, so if I can, I will 'steal' some off them.