What Things Have Changed?

Every time I go to Williston and pass by Friendly’s restaurant, I remember my days in X-Ray school when we would collect our paychecks (second year students were paid $80/month plus call pay, usually amounted to about $160) and we would head out for Friendly’s for a cheeseburger deluxe and milkshake. The burger used bread for the ‘bun’ and added lettuce and tomato and of course, cheese. 

I can’t figure out if it was really that good or that we ate hospital food for 3 meals a day and going out was a once a month treat. I haven’t tried to order one, in about 15 years, but at that time they had stopped making them the way I was use to. So, the question is – has my memory been playing tricks on me? 

Another food item that has changed – the tomato. I know that you can buy them year-round, but my advice is not to. It seems that the last great tomatoes were in my garden 18 years ago (haven’t had a garden since). I do most of my shopping at the Farmer’s Market from May to October and I buy pounds and pounds of tomatoes, but rarely get the fabulous taste, that once was (or at least what my memory says). The only exception is the Heirloom tomatoes which are scarce in the NEK. I will have to branch out to larger markets this summer in search of the heirlooms and pay premium for the experience. 

This brings me to what I really wanted to talk about and that is the change in Vermont’s gold crop – Maple Syrup. I am not talking about the silly names they want us to use – Golden Delicate (think that was called Fancy in my day) and so on, but what I noticed was the taste. Unless you can find someone, who taps, uses buckets, gathers, boils (no osmosis) with wood fire – you aren’t getting the true taste that is real Vermont Maple. 

Some say I’m crazy (a lot might agree on many levels), but I believe I’m right and am sticking to it. We found a man in Enosburg who still gathers with horses (that makes a difference I’m sure) and I have found another hold out from Brownington. He agrees I am right about the taste but he says he is fairly limited in how much he can make, doing it the ‘old fashion’ way, because as he ages it is getting harder and he may have to give it up all together. In a lot of things, change is good, but in Maple Syrup – not so good. The only remedy that I can see for me is to have Wendell (Noble) dust off his buckets, fire up the evaporator, and did I mention find plenty of help to assist doing it the right way?! 

Some Serious Cleaning!

Circumstances, here at home, have forced me to do some serious cleaning. I always said that Gael was the hoarder, but I have added my name to that list. When you live in a house for fifty years, things accumulate, especially if you have room in closets and spare rooms. 

That’s the case here. I think of friends that have neat homes with no clutter and wonder where all the stuff is. I guess it isn’t, it gets tossed. I just made two trips to the recycle place in Jericho and took a car load of things (I won’t call it junk yet) to the church Clutter Barn. I saw Gary Irish there helping! 

We have had to eliminate two closets where the overflow from the kitchen went. Those things that were on sale at the grocery store and it was too good a deal not to purchase. I often wondered, on my rare trips to Costco, where people store those 48 rolls of toilet paper or paper towels. Under a bed? Not at my house. The places under the beds are already filled. 

I think it all started when we purchased our first home in Underhill. It was partially furnished with a lot of things that belonged to Gael’s grandparents. Along the way we added things from my parents house and Gael’s mother’s house. Toss in three kids and their things and, presto, you have stuff everywhere. 

I’ve discovered a number of things that I have forgotten about, so it is also a trip down memory lane, if you will. I found the first issue of Wheel Tracks with a lengthy article that Pev Peake wrote, about one of his famous trips with a friend in an old car. Very funny!! Lots of photos of old cars and car parts taken over the years. They are being kept. How about calendars going back twenty years. They are going in the recycle bin next. Twenty five years of tax returns. I’ll just save the last seven and the rest goes in the wood stove, which is still being used. Then there are the buckets of pens and pencils that haven’t been touched in years. They are going out too. Nobody wants textbooks any more, so they are going. That free up a book shelf. Christmas wrapping paper, boxes and ribbons. Knitting needles, old thread, sewing supplies, parts to a sewing machine that’s been gone for years. Most of that went too. Gael’s electric typewriter is staying and I found a few new typewriter ribbons that are still good. It’s a daunting task but needs to be done, so I’d best get back to it. Would anyone like to buy a great old pine corner cupboard? 

I Am Now Retired!

By the time you read this article, I will have been retired for all of five weeks, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about what I’ve been doing for the past 40 ½ years and also give a plug to a career that is in desperate need of people all across our country. 

A little background: I was born and brought up in Burlington, attended Rice High School and then went on to Champlain College in their Court Reporting Program, graduating in 1978! Yep, I’m a court reporter, or maybe you’ve heard the term “court stenographer.” I am one of those people that sit behind that funny looking machine, you may have seen on TV, and make my fingers dance across the keys. 

For the first 10 years after graduation, I was a freelance court reporter in Rutland, which means I was hired directly by attorneys where I would go to a particular law office, and “report” the questions and answers asked by the attorneys and answered by witnesses in court cases. I’d also report contentious school board hearings, arbitration hearings, and even fill in a court because their court reporter was away that day. In 1988, I was the luckiest person in the world! I was hired by Judge Albert Coffrin to succeed his retiring court reporter. That meant a move back to the Burlington area and family & friends; and since then I’ve been reporting nonstop for 30 years and 7 months at the United States District Court until my retirement on March 30. 

Daily, I reported to work and was in the courtroom whenever there was a hearing scheduled (be it jury trials, motion hearings, sen-tencings, etc.) taking down – reporting — every single word spoken by anyone in the courtroom. One may ask how is that possible? Well, as the name implies, the shorthand machine has 20+ keys on it, and each key corresponds to a letter of the alphabet, and you, in essence, create a shorthand system. I always say it is much like playing a musical in-strument. I learned how to play the piano when I was young, and if you think about a piano with so many keys, you strike one key and it sounds one way, you strike 2 or 4 or up to 10 keys all at once, it sounds another way. That’s the way the shorthand machine works. 

I’m sure none of you have ever been to a gym or a bar and watched the TV screen with the translations at the bottom of the screen!?! Well, that’s a court reporter, a closed-captioning court reporter. TV stations by law have to closed-caption news and sports — like the Super Bowl or the World Series, and many other broadcasts for the hearing impaired, in what’s called “real time”, and the only way to do that is to have a court reporter, probably at home in his/her jammies, getting a live feed from the TV station to their home. The reporter then writing what they hear through their headphones onto their shorthand machine, that being translated back into English by the specialized software, and then the feed going back out to the TV station and, in turn, being broadcast out to your TVs. Whew! Seems like a lot of extra work, doesn’t it? Why don’t they just use voice recognition software you have on your iPhone and be done with it? Because, ultimately, court reporters are the gold standard for accurate, instantaneous translation. Only the human ear and brain can discern the difference between “pahk the kah” and “park the car.” 

The last part of my job is to return to my office and, when requested, prepare a certified written transcript of the proceedings. A full day in court will produce on average 280 pages of transcript! I will use my specialized software to translate the shorthand “gibberish” back into English and then correct spellings (is your name spelled Brown, Browne, Brawn); punctuation, paragraphing, identifying speakers; homonyms, unless you write them differently (their/they’re/there, to/two/too); and then be able to certify that the transcript is a true and accurate record of the proceedings.

My career has spanned an amazing 40 years, and I am truly grateful to Judge Coffrin for hiring me 30 years ago and bringing me back to my family and friends and the city that I love. If you know of anyone who’s looking for a great career that pays very well, has an aptitude for the written word, a good work ethic, a good ear, a desire to learn every day of their working lives, by all means have him/her get in contact with me and we can talk further! 

To the right is a picture of the paper that would have come out of the machine “in the olden days” with the interpretation on the right. Today, it’s all electronic and the steno machine simply down-loads into a computer, 

25th Anniversary Milestone

Anne was unavailable this month for her column, so instead, we have gone back in the Wheel Tracks archives to the 1980s. Enjoys…… 


Al Ward’s 1982 “25th Anniversary Milestone” Poem. 

Some 25 years ago at a lovely place called Stowe 

Stood five old cars pushed all in a row. 

The occasion of which was a picnic, I’m told.

And started the VAE as a club to take hold. 

Each year we have prospered under super direction 

Now each gathering held in close perfection. 

Our meets take place in august as we all know 

And features flea markets and a wonder show. 

The town is jam packed with enthusiasts galore 

Who arrive from Canada and the New England shore. 

They keep coming back year after year 

To take part in the show and give us a cheer. 

Who would have thought that from such a small start 

This club would have grown and we all could take part. 

In putting on tours and sponsoring meets 

Or just milling around while munching on sweets. 

Over the years, the scenes have change 

The designs of the cars have greatly ranged. 

At first they were mostly all in the teens 

But now it’s the fifties and in-be-tweens. 

The success of our club is due in part 

To those dedicated few who gave it a start. 

And also to those who have carried on, 

Through there 25 years we look back upon. 

And now on the anniversary of our very small start 

It give us great pleasure and comes from the heart 

To thank all those who through these glorious years 

Are most deserving and have earned these three cheers. 

Cheer, cheer, cheer! 


1980 Glidden Tour with, 1929 Silver Annie 

“She’s not much to look at” by Cliff French 

After being on the 1968 Glidden Tour in Pocono, Penn., I wanted to go again in 1980 in the White Mountains. I pulled the motor out, and out of 4 motors, took the best of each and made a motor that sounds like a bucket of bolts. This motor runs nice and uses no oil. With a 1927 Marvel brass carburetor, I get 14 miles to a gallon of gas. 

I was accepted on the 1980 Tour with number 67 out of 341. 

Esther and I left Bradford in the rain, September 14th, arriving in Brenton Woods at the Mt. Washington House about 3:30PM. We were to stay across the road at the Bretton Woods Motor Inn. We spent the rest of the day visiting and admiring the other many cars arriving, coming from across the United States and Canada. 

Editor’s notes…. Taken from the 1981 Spring issue of Wheel Tracks. Cliff’s column goes on describing their eight days on the tour. We do not have the room to print the complete article but if you make a request, we will mail it to you.

Cliff ends his column with this……. 

When I saw and heard about the many fine cars that threw rods, clutches and rear ends, to name a few, it made me feel good that Silver Anne made the 775 miles and the only problem was a leaky manifold gasket. 

Birds of a Feather

Friday night (February 1, 2019) we lost a good friend and the area lost a knowledgeable, passionate historian in Ken Barber. 

ken barber

Ken was a VAE member and has contributed to Wheel Tracks many times. If you didn’t know him, I wouldn’t be surprised. He didn’t inject himself in the running of the operation, not to say he didn’t have opinions about its “runnings”. I think some of the reason was that things tended to annoy him, so he stayed away. 

He was an avid collector of information in the form of books, papers, magazines and photographs. He loved printing photo-graphs of local history from some glass negatives which he had collected. And with them, he had great recall and knew facts which, I fear, without being written down, will be lost forever. 

His knowledge spanned a huge number of things, from town and village history and changes, antiques, old tools, trucks and of course, cars. Recently Ken wanted my husband, Gary, to take him to Maine to get about 200 Life magazines from the 40’s and 50’s. After Ken looked them over he passed them on to Gary and they now reside under my dining room table! 

Ken was as concerned as Gary, about the loss of history, when things get thrown away or by people passing away. This would include the loss of skills, that at one time, many could do. I know Gael Boardman was impressed with Ken’s skill in producing hand hewn beams for a house Ken built for his family. I also know Ken would give Gary items knowing he would ‘hang on to them’. 

One of the reasons I liked Ken, so much, was that if Gary suggested going somewhere and I didn’t really want to go, I would say, ‘why don’t you ask Ken’. Gary and Ken, being like-minded, enjoyed the outings with each other and I enjoyed seeing them go! 

Ken could be kind of cranky and believe it or not, so can Gary. That along with their common interests and we have “Birds of a feather flock together”. Another ‘bird in the flock’ is Gary Fiske. Gary and Ken had become great friends with common interests. I can’t believe, however, that Gary ever gets cranky. Ken you will be missed by Gary and I, maybe not wholly for the same reasons but thoroughly missed none the less. 

Rest in Peace, dear friend. 

Wheel Tracks note…. Ken’s two sons, Glenn and Scott, while completing the obituary, decided to asked if someone would like to make a donation in Ken’s name, they can donate to the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts. Our treasurer, Don Pierce at 203 Colchester Pond Road, Colchester, VT 05446 is where it can be sent. 

I do what they call a rolling stop…

vt dirt road

It must have something to do with the fact that I’m getting old, or am already old, but I find more and more things really irritate me. The first thing that comes to mind is road rage. I think I’d go mad if I had to drive in a metropolitan area on a regular basis. I find it difficult enough to drive in Burlington. All the lights, whether they are on cars or streets, are bad enough, but then you have people walking everywhere and bicycles everywhere, and cars darting in and out of strange places. Add darkness and rain to the mix and it’s not very good. 

I don’t know about you, but I find more and more cars blatantly going through red lights and ignoring stop signs. I’ve even seen school busses doing this. It’s not just young people either! It seems like it is parents of these young folks. Not using directional signals is another problem. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t even trust cars that have their directional signals on. 

I won’t even mention driving on the Interstate, where everyone is going about 80 mph. It’s almost unsafe to be going the speed limit. I guess I’ve been driving on dirt roads long enough where you can drive down the middle of the road, or even on the wrong side of the road, depending on the road conditions, without worrying about other cars. One needs to concentrate because of pot holes, ruts in mud season, or slippery conditions. After dark, you have very few headlights to contend with. Just an occasional deer or two. More often than not, there is more than one deer so you just have to look carefully. I’ve never hit a deer, but it seems like everyone else I know has, with minor or major damage to the vehicle. (I did hit a bear once, or I should say the bear hit me). It wasn’t hurt and I was driving the VW Thing which sustained just minor damage. 

I do admit to not coming, to a complete stop, when there is a stop sign on some dirt roads. I do what they call a rolling stop, which seems good enough to me. Why there are even stop signs in some places is beyond me. Speed limit signs, too. The speed limit might be 35 MPH when you drive through a town, but then on a dirt road, some where there is a 25 MPH sign for no apparent reason. How about following a car down a road that is going ten miles below the speed limit? It usually is some older person that can barely see over the steering wheel. This might be all right on a back road but can be dangerous on a paved road with a fair amount of traffic. It seems like everyone is impatient and needs to pass these slow moving cars, usually on dangerous stretches of road. 

Then there are the people who still use their phones and swerve all over the place and sometimes pull to the side of the road in weird places. 

I think I’d best stop before I move on to another pet peeve. There seems to be no shortage of them these days. 

Because Nice Matters

Welcome 2019! As we head down this new year’s road, I’d like to tell you a little bit about a very special per-son. She has shared duties of contributing articles for “The Softer Side” for a number of years but has decided to officially retire, and Wheel Tracks Editor Gary Fiske asked me if I would take over from her, and I’ve accepted. I knew immediately what my first article was going to be about or, more specifically, who it was going to be about. 

mary noble

Mary Noble was brought up as a true farm girl in Plymouth, New Hampshire, and eventually made her way off the farm to the University of New Hampshire where she graduated with an English Literature degree. And you might say, now what? What does one do with an English Literature degree? Well, she got married to one, Wendell Noble whom she met while at UNH, but during their engagement, she just didn’t sit still waiting for the big day. Talk about stepping outside the box in the day: In true Mary style, she went on to the prestigious Katharine Gibbs School. 

After Mary and Wendell married in 1963, they moved to State College, Pennsylvania. Mary found employment at the HRV Singer Sewing Company as secretary to, in her words, a “big honcho.” This was during the time of the Vietnam War, and Singer was a defense contractor to the U.S. government where they were making the Norden bombsight, which was a tool that bomber plane crews used, to accurately set their sights on targets. And you probably thought Mary was dealing with sewing machines, didn’t you? 

NH map

In 1966 Mary and Wendell found their way north to Vermont by way of Bennington, Jericho and, finally, Milton in 1971, settling into a beautiful old farmhouse where they raised their three children and are now proud grandparents to three grandchildren. Wendell tells me that the farm-girl upbringing paid off when they got to Milton. Over the years they’ve raised beef cattle and pigs, along with maintaining flower and vegetable gardens where, I understand, Wendell “does what he is told to do!” You go, Mary! 

Mary and Wendell joined the VAE in 1997. I first met Mary at an annual car show a couple of years ago and was drawn immediately to her quiet, welcoming demeanor and, of course, that ever-engaging smile of hers. Asking if there was anything I could do to help, she immediately put me to work! 

So how does she like the car club? She says that the very best part of the VAE are the people, all the people she meets along the way. She also loves craft fairs and flea markets, so she made a deal with Wendell many years ago that he could go to car club functions with or without her and she was going to the craft fairs and flea markets with or without him! Isn’t it lucky that the yearly car show has an expanded flea market AND NOW a craft fair? And you know what she brings home from the flea markets? Matchbox cars. I didn’t get a chance to ask her how many she’s purchased over the years, but you can ask her yourself the next time you see her. 

And speaking of cars, her favorite vehicle is the 1928 Dodge Coupe in their garage which was given to her (and Wendell, I presume) by her father. I’m going to ask her for a ride in it this coming spring. We’ll be “Thelma and Louise” tooling down the highway! 

I was speaking with Marion Thompson recently, who has known Mary for a number of years now, and I asked her, How would you describe Mary? Her response: “Mary untiringly and quietly goes about the business of the VAE always with a smile on her face. Whatever needs to be done, she just does it.” She can be found at the registration table or the souvenir booth going about her tasks always with that smile. Who better to have on the front line helping all our VAE show guests? 

Mary’s first love, of course, is Wendell and her family, but cooking/baking runs a very close second! If you haven’t been on the receiving end of her cooking, I can tell you for a fact you’re missing out. Wendell tells me that one of his favorite dinners is something called a hamburg/cottage cheese pie. Well, okay. So I challenged Wendell to get me that recipe, and he somehow managed to invade Mary’s kitchen domain without her knowing, and we are now the lucky ones! 

cheeseburger pie

Mary’s Cheeseburger Pie Recipe

1 cup + 2 TBS Bisquick® baking mix 
1/4 cup water 
1 pound ground beef 
1/2 cup chopped onion 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce 
2 eggs 
1 cup small curd cottage cheese 
2 medium tomatoes, sliced 
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (about 
4 ounces) 


Heat oven to 375°. Stir 1 cup baking mix and the water until soft dough forms. Gently smooth dough into ball on floured cloth-covered board. Knead 5 times. Roll dough 2 inches larger than inverted 9-inch pie plate. Ease into plate; flute edge if desired. 


Cook and stir ground beef and onion until beef is brown; drain. Stir in salt, pepper, the 2 tablespoons baking mix and the Worcestershire sauce. Spoon into pie crust. Mix eggs and cottage cheese; pour over beef mix-ture. Arrange tomato slices in circle on top; sprinkle with Cheddar cheese. Bake until set, about 30 minutes. 

Ramblings of a ‘Mature Lady’

As I ‘mature’ it seems that I become more aware or should say irritated with things happening around me, i.e. the idea that school should start an hour or more later in the mornings, to allow our children to “get more rest”, and thus they will certainly do much better in school. Poppy cot!! What is keeping these children from going to bed at a reasonable hour? I fear it is TV, iPods, computers, tablets, smart phones and NOT reading, homework, household chores, or even a job. Let me say here that I am sure there are some out there that do work or have household responsibilities that prevent an early or even reasonable bedtime hour, but I believe this is the exception and not the rule.

One of my concerns is that every generation (for the most part) are getting ‘softer’ and it will manifest itself in ways that are not good for us or them. I am part of the problem, as I expected less of my children than was expected of me. I am sure my brothers and sister didn’t think so at the time, but Mother expected less of us than what was expected of her. At age ten she took over as chief housemaker for her Dad, 3 older brothers and 1 younger than her. She cooked, cleaned, did laundry and went to school. Because she was 10 and not very tall yet, her brothers made her a box to stand on, to make rolling pie crust easier! Now wasn’t that a nice gesture? She never talked about it as a burden, in later years, but something she did because it was needed. My 2 brothers were up in the morning at 4 or 4:30 to go to the barn and help feed and milk the cows, home about 6 to bathe (so they wouldn’t smell of the barn) and still had a mile to walk to catch the bus for school, only to reverse the process when school was out. Walk home, change clothes and back to the barn. Did I mention that the bathroom time was scheduled, so 5 of us could get in and out on time with only 1 bathroom, to some, this would be third world conditions! And believe it or not, there were some people at the time, that didn’t have that in Athens, Vermont in the early 50s.

It was barn work that I threatened my boys with, when they were young, if they complained about doing some chores. Also, just an update, my brothers graduated from school, got jobs (now retired) and survived their early years just fine. I don’t know if they regret it, but I feel bad they didn’t have time for the school sports, etc., that most have access to today and wouldn’t want that to change.

Have school start later? Not in my opinion. Make it mandatory that children work 6 months on a farm; definitely! You can’t know what work is until you do some.

Is Grandma’s opinion popular with her grandchildren? NO WAY! They are thankful I am not raising them, and I am not their school teacher, but I do hope that there will come a day when the 4 of them are sitting around camp swapping stories and they decide that Grandma had a lot of things ‘spot on’.

Winter Tires

From Judy………By the time you read this, everyone’s fall chores should be done. Wouldn’t that be nice….with one exception. Winter tires.

Gael likes to set a date in November to do this, often Thanksgiving weekend. I like to be ready for that first snow/freezing rain event. We seem to have had this same discussion for 50 years.

My biggest chore is putting on the storm windows. We have the old wooden ones, take them off in the spring, putting them on in the fall. The trouble with this fall chore, all the windows have to be washed, both sides of the storm windows and the outside of the house windows, and then while I’m at it, the inside of the house windows, all 21 of them. Getting them squeaky clean with no streaks is another problem. I’ve spent years cleaning windows many different ways, only to find smudges on them when looking through them in winter, when it’s too cold to do anything about it. Sharon Fiske put me onto a good cleaning product last year and I love it. It works! A few years ago, we installed those little number button things on the windows and corresponding window sills, which make another problem much easier.

Now that the storm windows are on, I move on to the flower beds. Because of the HOT/DRY summer we’ve had, I was ready to cut the flower beds back weeks ago but it was still too hot for me. If it doesn’t get done this fall, I’ll deal with it in the spring. I do have a list of gardening reminders going for next year because I can’t seem to remember much from year to year.

Then we move on to the wood pile! Our son, Owen, has been a great help this year and had most of it cut and split before black fly season arrived. Now it’s time to move the wood to the porch, but we can’t do it until the porch furniture gets moved to the upstairs of the barn, which we need help doing. Seems to me we need more and more help doing stuff lately! Now it will be time to rake leaves, not my favorite chore. A few years ago, our daughter, Susan, gave Gael a leaf blower for Christmas. It sat around for a while, but Gael got it out one year to see how it works and it does! It takes hours and in the end, you have several huge piles of leaves. Now it’s time to move the great piles of leaves. We used a huge king-size sheet that came from somewhere and that works great, and when done, folds up into a small pile to be put away until next year. Getting the leaves into the truck, driving down the road and depositing the leaves in a meadow is the next step, but an easy one. What to do with the geraniums that are still in bloom!! I usually bring them inside (something in past years I said I wouldn’t ever do again) and water them until they die in March. Some people have good luck keeping them over, but we don’t have a good place to put them, either, it’s too hot, there isn’t any sun or something. Then, come spring of next year, I’ll go to the local greenhouse and I’ll buy new ones in full bloom already.

Lastly, getting out the snow scraper from the back of the car, placing it close to the driver’s seat and making sure the tow rope that I got for Christmas a few years ago is in the car. This was a wonderful gift and I was glad to have it on more than one occasion. I do have a good story about my tow rope that I’ll share with you if you are interested. As of now, none of the above have been done. It’s still too early. But when the weather is right, the big rush is on.

A Drop in the Bucket List

About a year ago during a visit with our daughter, Martha in Colorado, she guided us on a trip to the Grand Canyon. On the way back she commented, “Mom we should go on another trip”. Where would you like to go? I suspect that she was thinking along the lines of a bucket list. I rather reluctantly responded the first place that came to mind “Uh, Alaska”, maybe because it starts with an A. I think I also suggested Hawaii.

Being of the digital social media generation, she immediately was on her smart phone and started the arrangements. Therefore, for a couple of weeks in June this year, we were in Alaska, landing in Fairbanks where we were met by our tour guide and bus driver, who were awesome with information about flora, fauna and wild life.

In Fairbanks we had an up close view of the oil pipeline, that runs from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. We also had a paddle boat cruise on the Chena river where we were able to visit an authentic Athabaskan village and see a lady working her sled dogs. We took a tour bus to Denali National Park, a beautiful ride. While touring through the park, we were privileged to see plenty of moose, Dahl sheep, fox, hares and a mother grizzly bear with her two cubs.

We then took a train (first class with vista cruise type car and great dining car service) to Anchorage and then on to Seward by bus. In Seward we cruised the fjord to see sea otters, orca whales, humpback whales and a close up of a calving glacier (not an animal but a hunk of ice). The weather was beautiful and the only wildlife we didn’t see were mosquitos.

I would strongly encourage a trip to Alaska. I do think you would want to have a good guide, and would recommend Trafalgar. With twenty-two hours of daylight, seeing the sights is a given.

Our daughter is now suggesting that our next tour be Africa. That starts with A also, but I’m not so keen on that. Maybe too much wildlife.