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.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Alaska Bound - I think!
Here's the update. Thursday evening Nate and I worked on clearing out my office until midnight, then I went back again Friday and finished up some things from 6:30 a.m. until noon. We then packed the remainder of Friday, all day Saturday, and Sunday until 5:55 p.m when we FINALLY got out of Sioux City. It ended up that the vehicles were full, as was our trash container outdoors, so we ended up reboxing things we absolutely NEED in AK and put the remainder in our basement to store.
The first night went great. We stayed in Jamestown, North Dakota. The next morning we were in our motel eating breakfast than who would I spot there but Tonya, a co-worker, her husband and two small boys, who are also going to Alaska. She informed me that their car broke down about 3 p.m. Saturday so they had been stranded in Jamestown all day Sunday and that morning (Monday) were hoping to find out the fate of their car. I spoke with her today and they ended up having to get a different vehicle!
Monday when we got into our vehicles Nate noticed he had a flat tire, so we had to get that fixed. We drove on some more, and I developed a HORRIBLE headache, so we found a chiropractor and I got myself adjusted - literally. We headed out for the Canadian border, good to go.
We hit a major glitch at the Canadian border when going through customs...apparently when they asked Nathan how many times in his life he'd been fingerprinted he didn't recall the correct number, and they informed him that due to some matter on his record that he would not be allowed to pass into Canada. They said they had found something on his record, but would not divulge to him what it was that they found. What the heck???? They told me that I could go on ahead, but there was no way I was prepared to do that without Nathan. I had yet a 40-some hour drive ahead of me - and do it alone? That would require a bit of thought and planning. They also said that Nathan could get records from the states he resided in the past 10 years stating they did not feel he would be any "threat" in Canada, however this process would take a minimum of six months to a year!
From that point forward we felt like we were being held as criminals, as that's how they treated us. Anyway...they kept our passports and driver's licenses and told us to drive our vehicles into this huge garage and park our vehicles one behind the other so they could search them for contraband. We complied and they told us to have a seat at a table.
One man began to search Nathan's car and another mine. The guy opened up Nathan's tailgate on his Highlander and the Domino game began to tumble out of the tailgate like chicklets falling all over the place. What a way to start! Nate and I scrambled over and picked up the pieces. The guy proceeded to pull out our one piece of travel luggage and ran that through the x-ray machine. He also asked whose laptop was in his car and placed it on the table in front of us. They then began taking boxes out of our carefully (fullly) packed vehicles. About 5 were taken out of Nate's, and about 3 out of mine. The fella inspecting mine put them all back in mine and was done in a short amount of time. The guy doing Nate's left those boxes and my laptop sitting around and informed Nate 'you may put your stuff back in your car'. Great - how was it this puzzle fit together the first time????
We got everything in there and they told us that we were to make a U-turn and go back around the building where we could get our passports, which we did. We then had to go through US customs to re-enter the US. They had us park our vehicles, leave them unlocked, and took us into a building for further questioning, emptying out all pockets and my purse (individually they did everything to us, so neither of us could have the benefit of knowing what the other was going through) and gave us back our passports and driver's licenses. When we got outdoors two nice Customs Agents told us what our options were to get to Alaska...Nate could fly (what would we do with his packed vehicle?) or we could drive through the US and Nate could take the car and himself on the ferry from Bellingham, Washington to Whittier, near Anchorage, then drive to Fairbanks, about a 6-hour drive.
We decided we'd take the US drive/ferry route for Nathan and that I would leave my options open. We headed out across the US, backtracking for the quickest roads and stayed last night in a small town in Montana in a motel - $35.00 for the night. The room was large and even had a refrigerator and microwave. The bathroom was tiny...so small you could sit on the toilet and wash your hands while sitting there without even having to reach. The towels and washcloth were thinner than the thinnest kleenex tissue. Alright, maybe I'm not appreciating the convenience of it all!
Today we headed out for the west coast. At a rest stop I called about the ferry and found out that they had room for only ONE vehicle for the remainder of the 2008 season. Nate can go as a walk-on ($547 for him alone) nearly any time. We booked the last vehicle space, which isn't until September 13, so we have to leave a vehicle there in Washington until then. He will catch a flight to Fairbanks so he can be at work on the 21st. He'll then have to fly from Fairbanks to Seattle September 12 to drive the car on the ferry, ride the ferry to Whittier, and drive the vehicle to Fairbanks. This process will entail about 5 days' time.
We stopped when we got to Billings, Montana to decide when and where we would split up and I would head up into Canada. It was decided that I would get into Canada and head for Edmonton, Manitoba and that venture would begin today, as in immediately. I called Tonya to see where they were and she said that they planned on staying in Edmonton the next night (Wednesday). I did some research and learned they were 9 hours from Edmonton and I was 11 hours from there.
We rented a U-Haul trailer and moved everything out of my van into the trailer. Thank God Nate had the forethought to get a trailer hitch on his Highlander in the event we decided/needed to pull a trailer. Nate headed for Seattle and I headed for Canada. It was a tearful time, leaving each other on what was to have been a trip together, but frankly we were both too beat to even tear up. There were several hugs and comments about hating to leave each other.
I drove a couple of hours and found a REAL dive motel...but I got it right on my route (there are miles and miles and miles where one can drive and not go through a town out here) AND it has free wireless internet. The bathroom here is compact as well, only with this one the toilet faces the wall and one doesn't dare stand up too quickly or you bash your head into the wall! The wallpaper is peeling off the walls and there isn't any air conditioning, the light above the bed is one of those circular fluorescent (kitchen) lights, but it's a room and I'm tired. Probably not worth the $53 I'm spending on it, but what can one do when you're too tired to travel 40 miles on to the next town and hope they have a vacancy!
I just received a call from Tonya that the four of them made it over the border with no problems and have motel reservations in Edmonton, Canada for tomorrow night, where we will meet up to travel together to Alaska.
I heard from my daughter, Camilla, today, and they have arrived in Fairbanks and found an apartment today. It needs painting, so she and Brian volunteered to help with that in hopes of getting into it before Saturday, the date the landlord said he could have it ready.
This brings you up to date. It feels like it was months ago we left Sioux City. Mileagewise I should be just about to Alaska, but due to all our backtracking that isn't the case.
It feels good to know that we once again have a solid plan, and that God has kept us safe thus far. I have been in phone contact with my parents and kids to let them know where the heck we are and how they could help...looking up phone numbers for us on the internet, etc. I don't know what in the world people ever did without cell phones!
Please continue to keep us all in your prayers. This journey has been much greater than we ever imagined...it's so good we can't see the future or we'd still be sitting in Sioux City doing the same-old thing we have been for several years.
Drop us a line if you have a chance and let us know what's happening in your (hopefully) peaceful world!