We’re off to visit the root beer stand

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By Candy Clarke

When we ran out of excuses not to leave, we finally had to say goodbye to Henry County for another six months and head north to Alaska.

It was especially difficult to leave this year. Gardens were coming on, the fruit trees were bearing, and the fish in the Kentucky River kept calling our names. After being delayed two weeks due to automobile problems; we loaded up the vehicle and began our 4500 mile trip to North Pole, Alaska.

En route to see Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, we passed Bear Country. We decided to splurge and see the animals. Bear Country is a commercial venture which allows individuals to view North American animals such as bear, goat, sheep, wolf, reindeer, etc. from the safety of their car as they drive through the enclosed compound. We discovered this place years ago when our children were young.

This time, we were treated to watching a grizzly bear and a black bear argue over a favorite pole used for scratching their back. Needless to say, after much posturing, the black bear reluctantly gave way to the bigger bear and grudgingly wandered off to seek solace from his fellow black bears.

Another exceptional sight, at least for me, was seeing wolves tree bears! Poor bears. They couldn’t seem to get away from the wolves fast enough or far enough. They ran to the downed trees only to have the wolves gather at the base and start circling. The wolves appeared to be quite intent on giving the bears a difficult time.

Leaving Bear Country, we visited the “four stone faces,” as our girls called Mt. Rushmore when they were little. The faces of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, standing 60 feet tall and carved from a massive granite outcropping never fail to be impressive.

 Next came the Big Horn Mountains. The Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming stole my heart at first sight years ago. I never tire of seeing them!  I always take tons of pictures and in general, test the patience of my husband, Frank, by spending a day and half driving back and forth across the mountain chain. 

Since my dog and I have had our fun; we journey north to Great Falls, Mont., where Frank starts his favorite part of the trip. After two days of resting; we purchase food for the cooler and other necessary supplies for the remaining trip. We check our paperwork for the required documentation needed to travel through Canada. In addition to our passports, we must also carry papers for my dog, Gunner, and for our hunting rifle.

Feeling refreshed and eager to go, we leave Great Falls and head for Canada. We arrive at the border; show our papers, declare the bottle of Kentucky bourbon Frank is taking to his duck hunting buddies, and declare the hunting rifle. We are told to pull over to the parking area and go inside to fill out more paperwork regarding the rifle. An hour later, having cleared customs, we are on the road again; heading for Frank’s favorite root beer stand!