The first couple of weeks of April I spent in Canada with Twila, and it was kind of the calm before the storm of the final preparations for the gallery. I was still ordering things and planning out many details of the gallery, but I knew it would be way calmer than what was coming soon. Twila and I managed to get out into the parks some and look for wildlife, and it is such a luxury that we can do that right out her front door! But on April 15th I flew to TN and the preparations for the gallery hit a new level.
My trailer was at my parents place in TN, and I had been sending my new supplies to their place. I flew back to organize everything and get the trailer packed. The amount of things I needed to do in TN in the little amount of time I had was daunting, but I powered through the list. First I had to make sure everything I had ordered came in, and then I had to go around to different stores to get more little items and think of things to take that I can’t get in Skagway, AK. Skagway is a small town, with no other towns anywhere near it, so I have to take a lot of extra supplies for things I might need at some point in the summer because I can’t get them while I’m there.
I managed to get everything done in those few days, and then I headed to East TN to work at my Granddad’s shop. My Granddad has an awesome carpentry shop with every tool imaginable, and I needed to make some wooden dividers for my gallery. My Granddad has made wooden things his entire life, he’s in his late 80’s, and both of us couldn’t wait to work on this project together! As soon as I got to his house we hit the ground running. There was no time to waste, as I only had a couple of days. My little brother, Corbin, helped a lot that first day too, and the things I learned from my Granddad and how he knew so much about carpentry was so great! My dad came later that day and it became a team effort to get them made. We stopped at 9:30 p.m. and had made great progress for the first day.
The next morning I thought my Granddad might be tired from our long day yesterday, but he was up and ready to help! Just having him there and helping made the project well worth it! The dividers started to come together in the morning, and it was great to see them and how well they came together. There was lots of sanding and lots of aligning the wood to make sure everything fit and was how we wanted it. My Granddad again, had lots of good ideas of how to finish the dividers and make them look great! By the time I left at 4:30 for the weekend with my little brother, they were basically done. I did some playing with my brother over the weekend, and my dad helped add the finishing touches to the dividers with my Granddad. It was a true team effort to get them made in a short time and I appreciated all the help I got, especially from my Granddad!
I headed back to my parents place on Sunday and started packing the trailer as soon as I got back. Packing the trailer is like a large game of fragile Tetris, and it is not easy to figure out. As the trailer began to fill up on Monday, I started wondering how I had so much stuff. When it was all packed, I felt like I had more in the trailer than I did last year, which I didn’t think would be the case. I made a number of changes from last year to this year and I was making more than I realized I guess. It all fit, though, and the trailer was ready for the long drive to Alaska.
Now the crazy amount of travel was about to begin. On Tuesday, the 25th, I flew back to Canada and was with Twila only one day before driving to Minnesota. My parents agreed to drive the trailer to Minnesota to help spare me more driving than I was already going to do. I slept in my car somewhere in Montana on the 27th, and finished the long drive to Minnesota on the 28th. My older brother, Aaron, lives near Minneapolis and just had another baby, so I got to see baby Theodore. My parents also didn’t mind driving to Minnesota to see him as well. I hung out there all day on the 29th, and it was fun, and then started the drive back to Canada on the 28th.
I managed to drive 17 hours on the 29th, which meant I wouldn’t have to drive terribly far the next day. When I got to Twila’s on May 1st, it was great to know that 2/3 of the driving was done and that I would be able to rest another couple of days before finishing the driving. Last year my dad and I drove straight from TN to Skagway, 3,600 miles in 65 hours over 4 days, and I didn’t want to do that by myself. Splitting it up helped greatly. I didn’t do much when I was in Canmore with Twila, because I knew I still had two full days of driving ahead of me.
On May 4th Twila and I left Canmore and headed for Skagway. It was great having Twila along to give me company and help the time pass by more quickly. She had never been on most of the drive too, and she loves seeing new places. I drove 16 hours the first day, and made pretty good time honestly. I knew the rougher roads would be the next day, the further we got along the Alcan Highway. The weather mostly cooperated and we didn’t have bad wind and only some minor rain the whole way. We saw a bunch of wildlife along the way too, which was great. I love how much Twila loves wildlife and how excited she gets when see sees bears, moose, caribou and other animals. At 6:30 p.m. on May 5th we pulled in to Skagway, and so much time and energy went into getting to Skagway, and I was glad to be there.
We got to see my new apartment for the first time, I got a different one from last year, that we got to Skagway with no car issues was great. There was no time to relax, as the next morning we started unloading the trailer and getting the gallery ready first thing. Once we had the trailer unloaded and realized nothing was broken from the long trip, it was a big relief. A number of pictures were damaged from the trip last year. I was opening on the 9th, and only had a few days to get the gallery ready to go. Having Twila there for the first couple of days was a HUGE help, and I was very sad to take her to the airport in Whitehorse, Yukon to fly out on the 8th. I wish she could stay all summer, but it just won’t work out that way this summer.
By the 9th I was ready to open, but it was more work than I was expecting. I knew I was making changes to the gallery, but they took longer to 100% get right and make the gallery look how I wanted to look. But I was happy I made the changes and the gallery looks great! I continued to finish all the small things as the gallery was open for the first few days, but most guests wouldn’t have noticed what I was working on or didn’t have up yet. The first few days the gallery did well and gives me hope for a good season. My employee will arrive on the 12th and the season will go by fast like last year. It really is a ton of effort on many peoples part to get the gallery open on time, and I’m thankful I have family and friends that are willing and able to help! The gallery is now ready and let the summer begin!