I’ve been a very vocal critic of our dentist experiences since going on the road and since I just had a phenomenal experience I wanted to share that with everyone. I made appointments at Glennallen Family Dentistry a couple of months ago and with some trepidation headed into our appointment today. Every time we have gone to the dentist it’s been a costly hassle (except for Mexico) and not only did I leave feeling as if I was robbed, I also didn’t trust the care I received. I had been told that I had a couple of fillings that needed taking care of, but honestly I just didn’t trust the people who made the diagnosis. So really I just wanted a reasonably priced cleaning and someone to tell me whether I really needed a filling. Well, today I received so much more than that. The cleanings were $113 each and when we explained we were self insured they didn’t force the x-rays on us, which everyone else has done so far. More importantly the hygienist was fantastic. I have never heard Lee laugh during a cleaning before, but Shanan was excellent. Not only did she perform a very good cleaning in a great environment (massage dental chairs no less) she also took into account out transient lifestyle. They have lots of patients who live in the bush or travel frequently and for the first time ever someone got it. She said, “We understand you can’t come back for 10 appointments,” and she actually meant it. When she discovered I did indeed have a pretty serious cavity and realized the dentist had a short opening available she quickly scheduled me in. She even completed the cleaning in record time. She did an excellent job and simultaneously provided us with some very solid information on self-cleaning since she knows it is difficult for us to find a dentist. We will be investing in two Phillips Sonic Toothbrushes, for example. All of this and she got me in the next chair in time for my noon appointment.
The dentist, Dr. Shedlock, quoted me $231 per filling and waived the examination fee because I was self-insured. He also took pictures throughout the process and put them on the big monitor so I could see what he was doing. He filled two cavities (one of which had gone pretty deep) and the before and after pictures were impressive. He explained that someone could fill over infection and you would never know, but taking pictures throughout the process held everyone accountable. Loved that. He also went to dental school in USC but returned to Alaska because that is where he was from. As far as he is concerned they don’t have to practice backwards medicine just because they are in the middle of nowhere, and he delights in all the latest technology. The job was excellent, it was obviously completed in a timely manner, and he was 100% credible. So here is my recommendation: If you are visiting Alaska and will need a cleaning while you’re here, I would call and make an appointment before heading up. Let them know you travel, and if you are aware of a dental issue you need to get taken care of tell them that so they can double schedule the appointment. If you see them when coming in, then you could make a follow-up (if needed) on the way out. I, 100% recommend this dentist and this practice, because as I said, they get it. He truly made my day.
OK now back to the rest of the week. It’s slow here at Northern Nights and I’ve been trying to make the most of the down time while we are waiting on our truck to be done so we can take off. The part came in on the Friday before the holiday weekend and they promised we would be first in line on Tuesday (they called to confirm they pulled the truck in at noon to start the tear down process), so we entered the weekend somewhat optimistic. Jo and Ben also stopped by on their way out of Alaska and we got some more yummy halibut, plus I got to see their puppy Peyton some more. We did get a bit of activity on September 1st as moose season officially opened to everyone. According to Jo and Ben the roads were full of hunters and we certainly got our fair share for an overnight stay in the campground.
Most exciting of all, Lee finished my side table completely with the piece of redwood we picked up last December and it looks beautiful!!! We spent so much time looking for the perfect piece of wood, but not in my wildest dreams did I think it would turn out this nice. You can read all about the epic odyssey in It’s All About the Wood or just see the picture below for what it looked like in it’s raw state. Lee was actually pleased with the outcome (not that common of an occurrence for Mr. Perfectionist) and now I just have to be super careful not to ever, ever forget to use a coaster 🙂
That’s the good news. The bad news is we didn’t hear back from the dealership on Wednesday and I called on Thursday and they hadn’t started the work because the warranty company hadn’t approved. Why? Because they had just sent the pictures in Wednesday night. At this point I was upset. I had specifically told the service manager that I would need to pay for the repair if the warranty company did not approve it (unlikely, I spoke to the warranty company and the pictures are just their process for anything over $2500) and could not understand why the work had not started. Plus, big shock, no one had looked at the brakes yet. I was professional on the phone, but made it clear that I was very agitated and the service coordinator Barb said she would check with the technician and call me right back. That was at 8:20am. Barb called back at 9am and said the brakes were fine but the tie rod was loose. That’s not good and I am VERY thankful Lee had them check this before we went on the road. They are tightening it and doing an alignment for $180 and all the work will hopefully be done by Friday evening. If not, she had a commitment from the service tech that he could work on Saturday and although this wasn’t the best news it was by far the most specific update I have gotten. So I did appreciate she was trying to work with me and thanked her profusely. Yes, this wouldn’t have been necessary if the job was done immediately, but let’s face it, these folks are holding my life in their hands here and I have no reason to believe that getting crappy with them would yield a better result. To the contrary it would probably hurt my cause.
Alright enough about that. I’ve also been experimenting with recipes to fill in some holes in the recipe book I have been working on, and learned how to make lasagna in the InstantPot. I can’t stress enough how excited I was by figuring this out and actually making something Lee really liked, so I am sharing the recipe below. I also found a really good dill dip recipe and made Pam’s Chili-Cheese dip that she sent to me. I do appreciate the recipes some folks sent me, and I am working through them as quickly as I can. I’ve decided that I want 8-10 recipes in each category and that sounds way easier than you would think. I’ve probably cooked over 100 new recipes over the last two years and only a few ever make it to here. Now I am refining that list even further to the best of the best and it turns out I am severely lacking in a couple of categories. I really need crock pot/instant pot recipes to try and am still looking for very simple travel day recipes. If you have any recipes in those categories you would like to share please email me at camperchronicles -at- gmail .com. It would be much appreciated, and if I use them I will send you a free copy of the cookbook when it’s done. Oh, and Lee seems to have caught the bug because he made chicken enchiladas and even made the enchilada sauce from scratch. So sweet.
Simultaneously, I have been gathering pictures of all of the chosen recipes and because I am not a professional food photographer (see above lol), they definitely need some work in Adobe Photoshop. Unfortunately I find that interface extremely confusing and the free instructional materials not that much better. They seemed to assume you know stuff that I at least do not know. So we signed up for a 30 day free trial at Lynda.com. As someone who used to create training videos for a living I am incredibly impressed by the quality of these videos. Although the $30 a month subscription price is to steep for our budget, I am a big fan of what they have available here and an even bigger fan of the free trial! If you are wondering why Lee just doesn’t do it for me, well that’s probably because he has felt I needed to learn this program all along and he absolutely refuses to do my “homework” for me. I started at the very beginning and I can’t stress enough how important that is. It’s been great so far, but my brain does start hurting a bit after too many videos and I have to take a break. This interface is incredibly powerful and also incredibly complicated (there are 4 different ways to undo an action for example), but every time I master a new skill I feel really great about that.
Also, since we blew the budget again in mailings I called our mailing service and discovered it did indeed cost $72 to send mail UPS ground to Alaska. According to them if we would have sent it USPS priority mail it would have cost $8.95. Ok that is a HUGE difference and there is no pricing available if you make your choice online. So from now on we are calling the office every time and getting comparison prices before sending ourselves mail. Ridiculous there is that much of a price swing…and that choice cost us $130…not cool.
On a completely different note our friend Kelly and Bill just posted their two year full-timing anniversary summary with Facts and Figures. Now I love data, but no one, and I mean no one, collects data like Bill. So if you are a curious person or researching the lifestyle I absolutely recommend you check it out. So it’s been a busy waiting period and since my last day working was also Wednesday I really need to focus on getting ready to go. For example I spent several hours putting together a route down to the lower 48 (short drive days, boondocking every other day, stuff to see wherever we stopped) and now need to throw all that out the window and look at shortest, fastest route because we are losing travel time while we wait for the truck repairs. Really bummed about that because that’s the way we had to get up here and long driving days are definitely not fun. We promised ourselves we would see all the stuff we missed on the way back, but that just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Either way, despite dreading the long drive, I am so ready to go.
Pressure Cooker Lasagna
This recipe can be altered for any lasagna recipe you prefer. Just make sure the meat is cooked, you use oven-ready flat lasagna noodles, and you always start and end with a sauce layer. The short pressure cooking time ensures both cooked noodles and distinct layers which I was really happy about.
*One 26 oz jar of meat sauce (I used my spaghetti sauce and worked great)
*5-6 sheets of oven ready lasagna noodles
*1/2 pound of mozzarella; sliced
*1/4 grated or shredded fresh Parmiagiano cheese
1. Spray the inside of the pressure cooker/slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray or wipes with olive oil soaked paper towel.
2. Using a large spoon spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of the crock or insert,
3. Use lasagna pieces to cover the sauce. You can break the pieces as needed to fill in the gaps
4. Lightly cover the noodles with sauce.
5. Cover with a light layer of mozzarella cheese.
6. Repeat steps 2-5 until you run out of sauce making sure the top layer is sauce.
7. Springe Parmigan cheese on top.
8. Set pressure cooker to 10 minutes manually. When time is up us quick release to remove steam then turn off cooker. Let sit for 10 additional minutes.
9. If using a slow cooker cook on HIGH for 3-1/2 hours the test for noodle tenderness.
10. Using a spatula gently work the lasagna pie from the side and then cut triangle shaped pieces.
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