After spending 54 years from birth to 2008 living in Iowa I was presented with an opportunity to live in Fairbanks, Alaska. My blog is a diary of the adventure to get to Alaska, day to day life in Alaska, as well as facts for loved ones left behind in the Lower 48. Enjoy.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
We took a taxi the 4 miles from our home to the airport on December 2 at 10:30 p.m. for the pricey sum of $21.75 (yikes!) to catch our flight through Seattle and on to Minneapolis where we rented a car and drove to my parents farm (where I grew up and my dad was born) near Lake Park, Iowa.
The next weeks were spent putting many, many miles on the rental car, traveling from Lake Park to Sioux City to Lake Park to Sioux City, to Des Moines to Sioux City. We were able to take in several annual holiday events including the annual Sioux City Boys and Girls Home Christmas party at Buffalo Alice's, Christmas party and children's Christmas pageant at our home church, Trimble United Methodist Church, as well as traveling to Grace Corner for her holiday open house in her new Bed and Breakfast. We didn't tell a lot of people we would be coming back to Iowa, as we didn't want people to feel obligated about seeing us. Needless to say there were a lot of folks surprised to see us.
We stopped at our house in Sioux City to see how we felt being in it. Diane has it decorated with a combination of her and our items creating a homey atmosphere. We visited with her at the kitchen table for probably an hour, and I found myself feeling pressured. Pressured that I should be doing something, as that was my normal mode while living in that house. It made me realize that in Alaska I live a much, much more relaxed lifestyle, totally non-pressured.
Nathan returned the rental car to Minneapolis and flew home Dec. 15. My parents had planned on my son, Sam, driving them to Tulsa, Oklahoma to visit my one and only sibling, Marla, for Christmas and expressed how nice it would be for me to accompany them. Thus I purchased a return flight home for December 26 from Tulsa and extended my stay. So much for the saving on air fare for the trip. Also so much for the guaranteed white Christmas I had been expecting to spend in Alaska.
After Nate left for Alaksa I spent more time between Lake Park and Sioux City, as well as traveling to Storm Lake to Santa's Castle. It is chock full of animated displays and oh so magical. Back in the 1980's we took Sam and Camilla to the Castle, so it holds memories for me. Brittany had never seen Santa's Castle, nor had her mom, Anna, mom's fancee Jonathan, or Jonathan's mom, Nancy, so we piled into my rental PT Cruiser and made the trip. In true child fashion Brittany made a quick trip through the Castle. I asked her who would be accompanying her through for her repeat walk-through, and one by one she chose each of us. She made a total of 5 trips through the Castle and I'm sure saw something different on each trip.
Nancy bought me a "No Place Like Home" Christmas ornament there...it goes along very nicely with our two ornaments on our tree. We purchased a gold Alaska ornament and a tiny pair of moose hide mittens trimmed with fur created by a crafter from North Pole, Alaska. Prior to having those we put a photo of Nate's granddaughter, Allysa, on our 3' rummage sale find Christmas tree. Another reason we like it so well is that it was the right size to fit into our luggage (small).
We were very excited to see Gary and Shari's new home near Des Moines, Iowa in a new housing project in the country. They posted construction photos on a website, so it was fun to see the finished product. It is a very, very nice home. We are both happy for them and Allysa to have such a nice home to enjoy. We don't get to see them often, so cherish the time we do spend with them. I am fairly new to the family (6 years) yet feel totally comfortable whenever we're together. I appreciate them making me feel so welcomed.
They gave us a book that was as if it was hand selected just for me. Well, okay, it was; my point is there isn't a more perfect book they could have chosen. It's Dewey The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron. Dewey looks so much like our cat Peaches, that we left with Nancy in Sioux City. The library where Dewey lived was Spencer, Iowa, only 40 some miles from where I grew up and where we often shopped. I carried the book with me throughout my long journey back to Fairbanks and enjoyed reading it. I was really delighted to see a display of best sellers at the Hudson store in O'Hare Airport in Chicago which included Dewey. How cool is that?
I was able to enjoy watching Sam play 3 hockey games in Sioux City at the IBP Ice Arena and one in Sioux Center, Iowa. The Sioux Center arena had a total of three observers in the stands, and Sam's team wasn't the winning team, however I enjoyed watching him (and cleaning out my purse during breaks between periods). When we left Sioux Center several inches of snow had fallen and the wind was blowing a gale. Fortunately we had Sam's 4-wheel drive pick-up to trudge through the 8" of snow on the highways back to Sioux City. He did a great job keeping us on the road even though frequently we couldn't see any lines on the highway. He averaged 20-40 mph, so we didn't break any speed records, but he does get my nod for safety.
The weather while we were in Iowa was typical Iowa. It got down to zero, even a little below, snowed frequently, as much as 7" in one snowfall, and the wind blew as if it were making some sort of statement. I read that statement to be 'I'd rather be experiencing a Fairbanks, Alaska winter'.
Monday, Dec. 22 I was able to visit Ed Brown, former Sunday School co-teacher of mine at Trimble, in the hospital, and Damon and Amy's newborn baby, Parker James, and his pre-school aged siblings, Carson and Kenzie. Around 2 p.m. mom and dad met Sam and I and we were off to Tulsa.
We sent December 23-26 in Tulsa where the breezes blew and the temperatures warmed. We were blessed to spend our time with my sister and her husband, Mike; their son and his family, Stephen, Charissa, Alexis age 6 and Avery 5 months who live in Tulsa; and their daughter and husband, Jill and Judah, from New York City. Christmas day we spent with Charissa's father and Mike's parents. A few years back Marla and Mike added on to their home, creating the perfect place for our family to spread out and enjoy the holiday.
Friday, December 26 when I left Tulsa it was in the mid 70's. Due to weather creating air traffic snarls in Chicago my planned 2 p.m. departure left Tulsa at 4:30 p.m. This, of course, caused me to miss my connecting flight in Chicago. I spent a few hours in the Chicago Airport before traveling on to Seattle where I had a layover from 1 am - 6 am. Prior to leaving Chicago airport personnel set out about 200 cots for travelers. These cots were 2-3" apart (max) from each other and I wondered how in the world anyone would get up and walk between them should the need (bathroom) arise. I secretly hoped tho, that Seattle would have some kind of cot set-up.
Seattle airport was quiet and cot-less. I slept most of the flight from Chicago to Seattle so stayed awake and read and did some people watching.
Seattle flight took me to Anchorage where I had a short layover, then (finally) on to Fairbanks.
I arrived home to my beloved husband some 24 hours and 100 degree temperature difference from when I left Tulsa.
Fairbanks looks as beautiful as I recall, maybe even moreso. Nate and I have decided that we know the temps are in the minus region, but to make us feel "warmer" we won't refer to it as minus, rather now the temp is 36. Check out the News Miner web cam at http://www.newsminer.com/arcticcam/ for what Fairbanks looks like.
I believe I've gotten caught up with my sleep as I slept from 4 p.m. Saturday - 7 a.m. Sunday and again 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. today. It will feel really strange to wake up to an alarm tomorrow morning and not see the sun until around 10 a.m. after having spent so much time in 10 hours of daylight per day rather than 5 hours of daylight as is the case in Alaska now. One good thing...the days have begun to get longer, by about 2 minutes per day, and will continue to do so until June 21.
You probably notice that there aren't any photos with this posting. Well, folks, I have some technical problems going on now, which seem to be complicating as the days go by. Here's the brief synopsis:
1. The day we left Fairbanks I put a water bottle in my briefcase.
2. Upon arriving at home I noticed the water bottle had leaked in my briefcase onto my video/still camera.
3. I did everything possible to dry out the camera which obviously wasn't working.
4. Checked the camera every possible chance on the flight home and it had begun working again. Yippee!!!!
5. Took over 700 photos on the camera through December 24.
6. December 25 the camera was totally dead...and wouldn't charge (and remains that way).
7. Decided today to look at the photos I took which are on my camera's memory stick. When I insert the Card Reader my computer doesn't register that it's been inserted.
Therefore no photos today. Possibly in the near future things will change.
I'm still trying to readjust to being home and mentally preparing for going back to work tomorrow. Never in my adult life have I been on vacation for 22 consecutive days. I am so appreciative to Letha and Blanche for their extra efforts in taking care of job duties, for Carla approving my leave extension and for Boys and Girls Home my vacation benefits.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The ceiling of the ice arena is mirrored - permitting visibility of areas that might otherwise be blocked. Pretty cool, huh? (Yes, pun intended.)
Pickup with dog kennels used for transporting skijoring dogs.
A beautiful drive down the highway.
The trees and bushes have been very frosty - and gorgeous.
The view out of my office window. There's never any wind of any strength, so smoke goes nearly straight up. Yup - just like pictures of Alaska of smoke coming out of chimneys.
Sunset over Denali as viewed from my office window. Had to put this one in to make my sister really, really jealous :-)
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Alaska couple enjoying life. I think her pigtail braids are cute, Nate admires the gentleman's ponytail.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
This photo is of a lady who attends Camilla and Brian's church with her two adopted daughters. I think it is so cool that the mother is wearing clothing from her daughter's native country.
Sunny and snowy outdoors.
This is a group of the participants from various countries.
This is only part of a beautiful mural painted on the wall behind the stage.
Alaska natives. The girls are wearing kuspuks. The receptionist at our facility, Letha, sews beautiful kuspuks and sells them at native events.
Like mother like daughter.
This is a photo of an elderly native and a tiny, young native. The little boy didn't miss a step in following the older gentleman around and around and around.
The lady on the left is wearing garb made from deerskin. Her beads are all handmade too.
We adults were amused by the thought of it...Boys and Girls Home becoming a tourist attraction. After spending a few hours (okay minutes) observing some of the client's shenanigans most tourists would be joyful at the thought of returning to their peaceful homes.
To my fellow BGH employees who work in the Lower 48 and are reading my blog I'm sure you can understand the humor I found in this.
On another positive note, I've been transcribing the psychiatrist's visit notes with our clients. The other day one progress note in particular brought me to tears. He reported that one of our clients received her GED. This is no small accomplishment for those without all the barriers and baggage of our clients, and to think that this young lady met her educational goal was very touching. We will be hosting a graduation ceremony and celebration for her in hopes that others will be motivated to achieve their goals and to give her the recognition due to her.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Click on the links that all begin "60-Inch Club" to read details in the News Miner.
60-Inch Club — Jeff Johnson, North Pole
Jeff Johnson was sitting on top of an Argo, munching on a ham and cheese sandwich, when he spotted the big bull.
60-inch Club — Jason Chalstrom, Fairbanks
By Tim Mowry
The bull, accompanied by two cows, was standing in the first “honey hole” that Jason Chalstrom and his hunting partners — his father, Bill, and friend Saul Williams — checked.
60-Inch Club — Mike Childs, North Pole
By Tim Mowry
As soon as he saw it, “I could tell instantly it was something special,” North Pole’s Mike Childs said of the 62-inch bull moose he shot on Sept. 4 on the Tanana Flats.
60-Inch Club — Chris and Pete Pemberton, Two Rivers
Brothers Chris and Pete Pemberton make a point of hunting until the last possible moment.
60-Inch Club — Jack Green
Jack Green, a 15-year-old sophomore at Galena High School, has killed more moose than a lot of men two, three and even four times his age.
60-Inch Club — Jason Donahue
By Tim Mowry
Jason Donahue was “just walking and looking, checking every stream, every pond, every lake” when he ran into a 60-inch bull moose about 3 1/2 miles off the Elliott Highway north of Fairbanks.
60-Inch Club — Arnold Marks Jr., Tanana
By Tim Mowry
“Every year my brother, Aaron, and I see all the big moose in the 60-Inch Club, and we were beginning to think that we would never bag one big enough to be in it,” Arnold Marks Jr. wrote in an e-mail. “In years past we walked all over the country searching for ‘Goliath,’ as we called it, but we were never lucky enough to get a really big one. We always shoot the first bull that gives itself to us, but this year we were extremely fortunate.
60-Inch Club — Kory Eberhardt, Fairbanks
Kory Eberhardt and his uncle, Bruce Maroney, were paddling a canoe around a lake looking for moose when they heard a gunshot from the other side of the lake.
60-Inch Club — Matt Ellingson, North Pole, and Clark Klimaschesky, Fairbanks
By Tim Mowry
Clark Klimaschesky and Matt Ellingson have had their sights set on joining the 60-Inch Club ever since Klimaschesky’s wife, Joni, and brother, Mark, made it into the club in 2001.
60-inch Club — Jay Hildebrand, Fairbanks
By Tim Mowry
When the giant moose he had just shot from 50 feet away jumped in a slough and started swimming, Jay Hildebrand wasn’t worried.
60-inch Club — Caleb Humphrey, Fairbanks
By Tim Mowry
Considering that Caleb Humphrey went to the Brooks Range to hunt caribou more than moose, he fared pretty well.
60-inch Club — Seth Marley, Fairbanks
By Tim Mowry
Steve Marley was setting his cross hairs on a bull moose that had a harem of six cows and an antler spread he estimated at close to 70 inches when “all hell broke loose.”
60-inch Club — John Rothweiler, Fairbanks
By Tim Mowry
As soon as he heard the grunt, John Rothweiler knew he was going to be eating moose meat this winter.
60-inch Club — Chris Tolliver, North Pole
By Tim Mowry
“I was hunting south of Fairbanks on a strip that a friend dropped me off on,” Tolliver wrote in an e-mail.
60-inch Club — Simon Suchland, North Pole
By Tim Mowry
After taking time off from the University of Alaska Fairbanks to go on a 17-day hunting trip on the Kelly River in the Brooks Range, Simon Suchland won’t mind if he graduates a little late.
60-Inch Club — Aaron Kremer, Two Rivers
By Tim Mowry
After setting up a spike camp about a mile off the Nowitna River, Aaron Kremer took a nap to get out of the rain. He was reading a book when he heard a “soft grunt” outside his one-man tent.
60-Inch Club — Gerald and Josiah James, Fort Yukon
After Rourke Williams told Gerald James that he had seen a big bull moose about 20 miles upriver from Fort Yukon as he flew into the village, James decided to check it out with his 13-year-old son, Josiah.
60-Inch Club — Blain Morris, Nenana
With two bull moose in the mid-50-inch range answering his calls and moving toward the tree stand he was sharing with his father, all Blain Morris had to do was wait for one to get close enough to shoot.
60-inch Club — Nicole Bifelt, Huslia
By Tim Mowry
After coming up a few inches shy of the 60-Inch Club last year, Nicole Bifelt more than made the cut this year as the lone female representative in the club.
60 inch Club — Rodney Pangborn, Salcha
By Tim Mowry
After winning moose-calling competitions in Salcha and Fairbanks this summer, Rodney Pangborn had a reputation to live up to.
60 inch Club — Brant Finstad, Fairbanks
By Tim Mowry
The big bull “just appeared,” said Brant Finstad.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
“They chased me into my house,” Brandon Mattzela said by phone Friday morning. “That was beyond my scope of live and let live.”
Mattzela was in the back of his Ford Ranger pickup, which he had backed up to his porch to unload a fuel tank, when he heard the sow coming toward him.
At that point, Mattzela grabbed a .300 Winchester magnum rifle, went upstairs and shot the sow through his bedroom window.
Department of Fish and Game spokeswoman Cathie Harms wasn’t surprised when Mattzela called her Friday to report the shootings.
There was no doubt in Mattzela’s mind that he was defending himself.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
A decal in the back of a pick-up window depicting Alaska (center) and snowmachiners with 907 - the sole Alaska area code.
Snow covered trees along the expressway.
The street we live on...we live by the 1st and 2nd electric pole. Snow removal equipment is scarcely seen. Streets have no curb/gutters and most neighborhoods no sidewalks. Small rock (no salt) i used on major roadways when needed-nearly guaranteeing broken windshields we're told.
The front of our house. The left portion is our living/dining area. The front part is an arctic entry. Basically one door on the outside...step in 4' to another door to the inside.
Lutheran Church we visited today. Interesting picture on the wall as well as pulpit, candleholders, etc.
Snow covered trees by the Fairbanks library. Guess you could call these government trees if you'd like.
The back of our house. To the right (back door "wall" is our kitchen, the window is to our bedroom and to the left of bedroom is the bathroom. Oh yeah, and our $23 snow shovel we purchased at Sam's Club.
Not only are we IN Alaska, Alaska promotes Alaska. Familiar sites are Alaska Made sweatshirts, Alaska girls kick butt and Alaska Girls - Attitude is everything. They strongly support Alaska grown vegetables in the summer too. Alaskans are proud, yet humble.
I've been browsing some websites and came across a neat one which provides a web cam which records the overnight sky, providing a view of the aurora borealis (northern lights). According to the forecast, we have a very good chance of seeing northern lights October 12 and 13. If you take a look at the link near the top of the page you can indicate the date of the recording you would like to view. Check it out: http://salmon.nict.go.jp/awc/view_movie_e.php?date=20081010
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Brian and Camilla standing in front of their cabin (it's a duplex).
The view across the road from Brian and Camilla's cabin.
Above: interior of Brian and Camilla's cabin the day they moved.
Here's a photo of Fairbanks I found on the web. We live very close to the A in Alaska. See the mountains near the top of the page? (Remember if you click on the photos they will enlarge.)
Nate and I drove the 15 miles to North Pole, Alaska to Santa's Workshop. Here's a photograph of one of his reindeer.
Approaching train against the colorful birch trees.
A memorial was held for 8 homeless people who died last winter in the elements. One of our finest was there to offer his words of comfort to other homeless, friends of the deceased.
A photograph of some attendees at the memorial service which was held downtown. A committee has been formed to create shelter for the non-sober homeless, as currently those individuals are turned out into the streets. There is a 24-hour shelter for sober homeless.