Caravan Sonnet: August 2018

8/31/18

The Denali Highway [Part Two] // Alaska

Happy Friday friends! I hope that you have had a wonderful week! Anyone doing anything special for the upcoming holiday weekend? Whatever you do, I hope that you have a wonderful, restful, and fun weekend! 
Today I am so excited to share more about our time on the Denali Highway. If you missed the first part that I shared earlier this week you can read about it HERE! I loved the Denali Highway and I truly can't recommend driving on it enough! (If you are looking for some specific tips about taking the Denali Highway than read this post HERE!) 
As I shared in the last post, due to the road (and the fact that you will want to stop often to take tons of pictures of this beautiful area of Alaska!), the Denali Highway will take about 5 hours to cross. I can't stress enough though that it honestly will not feel like that at all. The time seemed to fly by as I drove along. 
We stopped often (as I mentioned above) to take lots of pictures and to get out and explore a bit in different areas. At one place (about 2 and 1/2 hours into the trip) I snapped this picture of our rental car on the side of the road. I know I have said this in a previous post, but J was right- you literally could pull off in so many places to park and these pull outs that were along the highways were the perfect place for cars or RVs to camp for the night. 
This was one of my favorite views on the Denali Highway. The beauty of the dark grey clouds contrasting the green and blues was so stunning. 
The beauty was simply overwhelming.
At some points our adventures in this area had to end because we would have needed some kind of ax to continue through the thick and dense bushes. 
Those of you who know me know that I find a lot of joy and laughter in life and this was one of those times. I was trying to cut down some branches with my hands and then started smelling the trees as I almost fell. Hahaha! For the record they don't smell. *smiles* I am smiling as I think back because we had hiked for about 20 minutes or so at this point and it really didn't seem like we had gone anywhere because of the vastness. It was probably a good thing that we were forced to stop otherwise we might still be hiking! *smiles*
I left this specific area sad for that adventure to end. It was such a beautiful place! 
After driving for about another hour we came across this beautiful river and mountains in the background. At this point we were about and 1 and a 1/2 from nearing the end of the Denali Highway. As we stopped at the bridge to take some pictures I saw the sign on the bridge said that the river was the Susitna River! It was so neat to see the "Big" Sustina River after we had explored the Little Sustina River the day before and loved it!
This was one of my favorite stops along the highway. One of the most interesting things to me about the highway was that at all different parts of the stretch of road there seemed to be different "terrain". As we approached this area the mountains in front of us looked a bit more "jagged" and we were soon to find out that this would be what a lot of the mountain range in this area looked like. 
Simply gorgeous. Don't y'all just love water and beautiful mountains?
As we crossed the bridge, I knew that this area would be forever imprinted on my mind and in my heart. In the future I would like to come back to this area and camp right along this river. Can y'all imagine waking up to the views in this area? Wouldn't it be simply gorgeous?
The views as we began the next portion of the drive continued to stun and amaze me! 
I can't get enough of those beautiful mountains!! I was ready to start climbing up each of them! *smiles*
Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today! I hope that these pictures of the Denali Highway encourages you to start planning a trip there soon! I can't wait to go back and am already planning another trip! I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend! 

PS- If you are curious about the specific details of the road trip that we took throughout Alaska or if you are planning a similar road trip (or just want to see and dream about visiting the beauty!) I hope the information below is helpful. You can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:

Anchorage: // Anchorage Travel Guide//

Chugach Mountains (Alaska 1-South Drive): // Scenic Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)//

Chugach Mountains: // Eklutna Lake//

Cooper Landing (Kenai Peninsula): // Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge Nature Trail//



Girdwood: // Winner Creek Trail //

8/30/18

#whenthealphabetrunsgreen book chapter- all about sleep

If there is one area that a majority of Lymies struggle with it is with the issue of sleep. Despite how tired our bodies are from fighting this disease they often don’t give us the proper rest that we need. When I was extremely sick and dealing with Lyme this was one of the first areas of getting better that my medical team addressed. Their tips and hundreds of patient tips helped me start to get the sleep that my body so desperately needed. Here are just a few ideas that may help in your quest for a good nights sleep:

1)      Create a dark Cave. For me light would be a distraction so it was helpful to have a room that had no lights. Unfortunately our neighbors at one point used to love their BIG spotlights that illuminated our yard and my room. For this reason we discovered heavy (dark light lined/blackout) curtains that covered the shades in my room. This was a huge help!

2)     Eye Covers. There are so many different ones that are out there so try different ones until you find something that you like.

3)     Mattress. A great mattress is so important. Invest in the most quality one that you can.

4)     Soft Sheets. Soft sheets and soft blankets are extremely important. You want to feel cozy and comfortable.

5)     Pillows. Pillows are a true key to getting good sleep. At one point I had nine pillows on my bed- hahaha! My best advice is to search for pillows that are good for you and work for your body and then invest in them.

6)     Disconnect. Work to turn off all of your media at least an hour before you head to bed. Try to leave what you can outside of your bedroom and work to disconnect from the rest of the world at nighttime. Instead of scrolling on your phone; try reading, meditating, praying or just enjoying the quiet moments as you wind down for bed.

7)     Keep Necessities Close By. Keep a basket of necessities close by to have on hand if you need them so you don’t have to get up to get anything. This will allow your body to stay at rest and not interrupt things.

8)    Heating Pad. I have a heating pad that I really like that I keep stored in the basket next to me. On the nights where my muscles were really tight or sore I could just lean over and use this heating pad. 

9)     Relaxing Soak. In addition to detox baths, taking a relaxing bath can be incredibly helpful and relaxing to start your night off. Add in the magnesium salts and your choice of essential oils to help you fully relax.

10) Pajamas. Even if you are in a stage where you are mostly wearing your pajamas all day long, take the time to change into a separate set of clothing to sleep. This simple routine will remind you that you are not just a sick patient, but a normal human.

11)  Fans. Invest in a high quality fan that will block out all noise. I have found that using an industrial fan can be extremely helpful in blocking out even the neighbors noises. If a fan is too loud for you with sensitive sound, then choose a white noise that is consistent and works for you.

12) Sleeping Aides. For some Lymies, natural ideas may not be enough help at this stage of your journey. At this point you will want to consult with your doctor for help with this. Consult with them even for natural and herbal alternatives that may help with your insomnia.

13) Temperatures. Make sure your room temperature is set at a good place for you to be able to sleep restfully.

14) Set the Mood. In the early evening I go into my bedroom and turn off my lights and turn on a small lap beside my bed. When I am ready for bed I enter a room that is soft with a warm and welcoming glow which sets the mood for peaceful sleep.

15)  Candles. Similar to number 14, some people light candles in the early evening in their bedroom.

16) Say goodbye to work at the door. I admit that when I was teaching I struggled with this one as I would bring in just “one more essay” into my room to finish before I fell asleep. This continued into my health journey as I would consider working on "just one more chapter" for a book. I learned quickly this is not very restful. Keep your bedroom as your sanctuary and leave work at the door.

17)  Avoid Eating. So many people eat right before they go to bed which wakes up your metabolism. Avoid eating at least an hour before bedtime, which will help your body rest well.

18) Separate Sheets. If you are really struggling with sleep and your partner is stealing those sheets every night, consider getting two king sheets to use on your bed – one for each of you. This will reduce the sheet wars at night and help you fully relax.

19) Separate Beds. I know that for some people in their journey with Lyme there has been times where having a separate bed from their partner becomes necessary. Try to be creative in keeping your beds in the same room to stay connected, but if sleep is truly an issue than consider this as a temporary suggestion.

*Please note that the #whenthealphabetrunsgreen book chapters are part of a special offering of 20 free chapters from Rebecca's upcoming book, When the Alphabet Runs Green, which will be available on December 6th on Amazon and where books are sold. These chapters may NOT be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of the author. ** 
To read additional chapters from #whenthealphabetrunsgreen click HERE!

If you are interested in purchasing another one of Rebecca's Lyme Disease Books Please click on the links below:

8/29/18

Best Alaska Books to Purchase for Your Alaskan Road Trip: From Culture to History to Travel

If you are interested in planning an Alaskan Road trip in the future, then you may be curious about what (if any) books you should purchase before your trip or to bring along on your trip. I will say that before every blog writing trip that I take, I do a ton of research on the area. I know that research is not a substitute for seeing and experiencing a place, but whether it is the "learner heart" in me or not, I love to read and research a lot before a trip. This probably sounds very nerdy of me, but I have found that the more I learn and research ahead of time about a place I have never been to, the more that I have loved the trip. 

I love reading different books, watching movies (or you tube videos from other travel bloggers) or listening to podcasts from those in the area. To me this is an exciting way to prepare for the trip and it always further excites me to think about all that I am going to see! I also feel like I end up more in the experience of where I am and love the surroundings even more. Do y'all feel the same way?
I do think that first-hand information is the absolute best and so I was so incredibly grateful for those who talked with me about the trip for weeks and months leading up to it. I know I have said this before, but first-hand words are priceless. J, thank you so much for all of the information that you gave and for patiently answering my thousands of questions to help make this a trip of a lifetime. You are the best! 

If you are looking for books for your trip here are a few that I definitely recommend. Whether you are planning a trip to Alaska in the near future or planning a Road trip down the road, here are some of the best books to purchase for your upcoming trip: 

Travel Books
For this road trip that we were taking we were going to be spending the most time in this area so this definitely became one of the most used books that I referred to and consulted for these areas as far as travel books are concerned. Also- this is the only guidebook for these specific areas, so if you are taking a trip here than you will definitely want to get this! You can purchase the book HERE.
Another helpful Moon book is this general state Alaska Moon Guides. It covers the entire state and has a ton of helpful information in it for those who are looking for a "broader" book. You can purchase the book HERE.
This was a book that I used a lot in my beginning research for writing about why you should dream about a trip to Alaska and one that was helpful in providing a ton of information about Alaska in general. You can find the book HERE.
This book is the newest published travel book on Alaska (at this time)- releasing in May 2018. As far as research for the trip I did consult it for a few items and would definitely recommend it as far as the most up-to-date information that is available at this time. The book also had some interesting planning advice that was different than the books above. Personally I felt all of the books were helpful in different ways for this trip. If you are interested in this book you can find it HERE.

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Stories Books
I came across this book in antique bookstore in the early summer, shortly after I had made the decision to take the writing trip. Being a former teacher, I love stories of teachers in different areas, so the name and the setting were very intriguing to me and I loved the book. For those that may be interested, the book is a true story of Hannah Breece who came to Alaska in 1904. Here is what the back cover description reads: 

"When Hannah Breece came to Alaska in 1904, it was a remote lawless wilderness of prospectors, murderous bootleggers, tribal chiefs, and Russian priests.  She spent fourteen years educating Athabascans, Aleuts, Inuits, and Russians with the stubborn generosity of a born teacher and the clarity of an original and independent mind.  Jane Jacobs, Hannah's great-niece, here offers an historical context to Breece's remarkable eyewitness account, filling in the narrative gaps, but always allowing the original words to ring clearly.  It is more than an adventure story:  it is a powerful work of women's history that provides important--and, at times, unsettling--insights into the unexamined assumptions and attitudes that governed white settler's behavior toward native communities at the turn of the century."

The New York times said it is: "An unforgettable...story of a remarkable woman who lived a heroic life" and I would definitely agree. If you are interested in the book you can find it for less than $6 HERE
Some of you are already smiling. You know that I couldn't include a list of books without listing one that included the time frame of World War II. This book is an amazing story of a World War II pilot that survives in the Alaskan Frozen Wilderness. As a brief synopsis this book tells the story of 5 army aviators who went out on a routine flight to test their plane shortly before Christmas in 1943. Unfortunately the mission ended in a crash and only one person survived. Leon Crane, the survivor, had all of the odds stacked against him in order to survive, as he was a city kid from Philadelphia and had no wilderness experience at all. With only a parachute for cover and an old Boy scout knife, this book tells the story of his remarkable 12 weeks saga to survive. It is an amazing tale of survival and I definitely recommend it y'all. You can find it on Amazon to purchase HERE
(3) Tisha: The Wonderful True Love Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness
This was a book that a friend recommended to me and I found it incredibly interesting and wonderful to read. If you like When Calls the Heart, the concept is very similar and you would find it a fascinating and interesting read also. This book though is a true story and I was amazed by Tisha's courage and her capacity to love despite some incredible odds in this time period. The book was originally published in 1976, but has since been reprinted and updated. You can find it on Amazon to purchase HERE
I almost hesitated to list this one because I know so many people have already read the book and are probably very familiar with the story. As I was researching for the trip though I realized that I hadn't read the book in years and so when I found it at a garage sale I took the time to re-read through it. 

I don't know if it is maybe the most "uplifting" read some might say as you are about to embark on a road trip through Alaska... but there is a depth to this book that I think can be easily missed in the popularity of it. Jon Krakauer (the author) does a fantastic job of really examining McCandless's life as he looked for a vision quest like his heroes. Despite the wealth and privileged background that he came from, he was still searching and looking for something that would give him worth and meaning. Krakauer examines the concept of what it means in many ways to die and the choices that we make and the relationship ties that we have in this world. If you haven't read it, it is definitely worth a read and before a trip to Alaska would be a fitting time. You can find it HERE
Tip of the Iceberg, which was just released in May of 2018 tells the story of Mark Adams who set out to recreate the famous 1899 summer expedition, using Alaska's public ferry system. For those who aren't familiar with it (I wasn't either before reading this book), the famous 1899 expedition was organized by Edward H. Harriman where he converted a steamship into a luxury "floating university" that was populated and attended by some of America's leading and brightest scientists and writers at the time, including John Muir. (For those who have been around the blog for sometime you know that I loved my visit to the Muir Woods back in 2016 and it was during my visit that I learned more about the life of John Muir.) 

In the book, Mark Adams travels over 3,000 miles using the Alaska Marine Highway System. The book is a fascinating read, and inspired my desire to take a trip on one of the ferries during our road trip. Even though that didn't work out for this trip, it is definitely something I would consider for a future trip, and those planning to include a ferry ride as part of your transportation will definitely find this fascinating. You can find the book to purchase HERE

cookbooks and food
Maya Wilson, the author of the cookbook and the author behind the blog, Alaska from Scratch, shares over 75 delicious and family-friendly recipes in her book, The Alaska From Scratch CookbookHer photography is stunning and when I found her blog before the trip, I was absolutely enthralled. 

She seriously is amazing and I think I follow her on all of her social media sites - hahaha. She writes for several different places and she's inspiring and her story of how she ended up in Alaska is just so cool. You can read about it on her blog HEREAs a fellow blogger and author I love seeing when people branch out from their blog and turn their talent of writing into a book so that even more people have the opportunity to read their words. And when it is a cookbook it is a dream... hahaha. 

Some of you are shaking your heads smiling because you know that I just love books. And Y'all know I love cooking and cookbooks. *smiles*. But seriously... this one is a keeper and one that is a treasure no matter where you live. You will definitely want to add this to your bookshelf for before your trip and after wards. It is wonderful. This book was one of my favorite finds in researching and I can't recommend it enough. It would also make a wonderful gift as the holidays approach. You can find the book to purchase HERE
Homestead Kitchen, written by Eve and Eivin Kilcher, who are the stars of the reality show, "Alaska: The Last Frontier" share 85 original recipes in their book and give advice on gardening, preserving, and foraging also. The photographs are stunning and I walked away encouraged on how to become less dependent on mass produced products and really enjoyed the book thoroughly. We have already tried a couple of the recipes and they are delicious. You can find the book to purchase HERE

(side note- has anyone seen Alaska: The Last Frontier?? Y'all know I am not a huge TV person, but after this book I am tempted to see it! Let me know!)

Honorable Mentions
This map turned out to be one of the best maps that we used and I would definitely recommend it. There are places a lot of places in Alaska that you won't have service so having a road map is incredibly practical. This one is less than $3 and you can find it HERE
Depending on where you are going on your road trip you may find this book to be helpful. As a note of warning it is from 2009 so some of the information is a bit of out date, but it would still be helpful if you are planning to travel in this area of Alaska. You can find it HERE
This book (it feels more like a magazine) is printed once a year and does have some helpful information in for a trip to Alaska which is why I have included it in the honorable mentions. But... it also includes other areas outside of Alaska and the price is a lot more than any other thing I have mentioned. If you want a more magazine feel with some helpful information, and don't mind the price, than this is for you. I think this is a book that you could purchase and bring along on your trip and find it interesting to read. You can find it HERE
(4) Rural Alaska Teacher Moving Guide: What to Expect on the Last Frontier
I came across this book in researching for the trip and looking up stories of those who had moved to Alaska and bought it kind of on a whim. It's a bit random for a road trip, but I included it in this honorable mention list, as reading it truly gave me a picture of what moving to a rural part of Alaska would entail. 

I read it very intrigued and then driving on the Denali Highway I found myself laughing and smiling remembering somethings that the author shared. If you are going to be traveling to any remote place on your road trip, this book is honestly an excellent picture of what those who live there encounter. Definitely worth the read, I am sure y'all will love it as much as I did! You can find it HERE.

I hope that you find this list helpful! What about y'all? Any Alaska books you would add to this list? Happy Tuesday friends! I hope you have a wonderful day! 

PS- If you are curious about the specific details of the road trip that we took throughout Alaska or if you are planning a similar road trip (or just want to see and dream about visiting the beauty!) I hope the information below is helpful. You can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:

Anchorage: // Anchorage Travel Guide//

Chugach Mountains (Alaska 1-South Drive): // Scenic Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)//

Chugach Mountains: // Eklutna Lake//

Cooper Landing (Kenai Peninsula): // Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge Nature Trail//



Girdwood: // Winner Creek Trail //