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 22, 2008
One down, one to come!
Saturday was another windy, rainy day, and the absolute WORST on the Alaska Highway. (Highway is really an overstatement, as it is a two lane road, through towns, gas stations have the old fashioned-not pay at the pump gas pumps; lots of dips due to frost heaves, occasional patches of gravel, and a lot more dips.) I would watch Tonya's pick-up to see how high they were bouncing over the dips to determine how much I needed to slow down. The road was so windy and bouncy Sunday that I got carsick! Once we got through the border back into the US we just knew the road would get better. We were wrong! It got MUCH worse. For probably 40 miles we were on short patches of pavement separated by long stretches of pot-holed gravel areas. We were able to only go about 40 mph through those areas, splish-splashing our way along.
We made it to BGH about 6:00 p.m. Sunday, July 20..exactly one week after I left Sioux City. I got to see my new office for the first time. Everyone that's seen the building says it's huge, and they are so right...all 77,000 sq ft of it.
Camilla and Brian met me at BGH and they took me to our apartment. The exterior of the building (actually like many in Alaska) looks run down - paint peeling, curtain upstairs flapping out an open window, etc. We went in and met my landlord. He showed me to our apartment. It is small, 2 rooms 10 x 14, but very clean. New carpet and freshly painted white. Turns out the love seat he told me is in the living area is actually 1/2 a couch. And the 1/2 bath is more like 1/4 bath...I can sit on the toilet, wash my hands, and stretch out my toes to touch the shower stall! On the positive side, the bathroom is right off the bedroom, so in essence it is a master suite! We have two windows facing the west. The kitchen cupboards are very narrow, not even wide enough for my plates...just a bit wider than a loaf of bread. Nate and I will have a lot of togetherness time, as the living area is a combination kitchen, so when he's watching TV and I'm in the kitchen we'll be about 4' from each other!
I was told by the landlord that wireless internet works in the apartment, as some other person pirates off someone in the neighborhood. Cool, I thought, I won't have to pay for an internet connection. While that's true, there's also a drawback to it. That person doesn't stay connected all the time, so I am not in control of when I have internet access. Just one more thing to learn to adjust to.
Sunday night I opened up the U-Haul and was unpleasantly surprised to see how much road dirt, water, and oil had gotten into it. Boxes were covered with this coating of dried oil, coating my arms and clothes when I touched them. Nice! Once I got done digging a few things out I tried to lock the padlock, and it would NOT lock. I didn't sleep very well, wondering if someone would try to get into it and steal stuff. Thinking I was just being stupid, I texted Camilla and told her of my plight. She and Brian stopped over on their way to work Monday morning, and it was not ME, it was the lock. I towed the U-Haul to work and back Monday and Tuesday, as 1-I feel more comfortable having it parked in the BGH parking lot, and 2-they tightened it so tight at U-Haul in Montana that I can't budge it off!
When we unloaded my van and threw everything in the U-Haul things got all jumbled up. The important things we packed in easy to get to places in the van ended up in the very FRONT of the U-Haul. Fortunately I had packed several shirts and pairs of pants so was able to wear clean clothes for work and something different today. I wanted to do laundry Sunday evening, but didn't have change to do laundry.
I went to the store after work Monday to buy a new lock and got change so did laundry Monday night, as hadn't yet found my clothes in the U-Haul or Nate's vehicle. $1.75 to wash and $1.75 to dry. I had to wait to use the washer; as soon as the other gal's wash was done I rushed and put mine in....then she put hers in the dryer and ran it, then left it in there for another hour. I started to take hers out and put it on top of the dryer (is that proper ettiquette or not??) and it was quite damp, so stuffed it back in the dryer and waited an waited. Wouldn't have been so bad, but I had my sheet (top sheet I wrap myself in like a cocoon since I can't find the bottom sheet) in the wash and needed that in order to go to bed!
I came across the tiny (5") tv last night and started it up. It is SO quiet in the apartment without a TV or radio (haven't come across a radio yet). I was surprised that Dr. Phil was on at 10 p.m. Seeing him on TV at that time made me feel like it was late afternoon. The sun's position here at that time was about the same as in Iowa in late afternoon, too, which didn't help any in letting me know it was bed time.
Camilla called this morning asking if I needed her to lead me to work this morning. I told her I'd try it on my own. It is SO cool....I drive two blocks east, then 8 blocks south, and back another 3-4 blocks west and I'm there! and NO TRAIN TRACKS!!!! Eat your hearts out all you Sioux Citians! I can actually leave home and have a good idea what time I'll arrive at work, unlike Sioux City.
There are close to 40 employees who began training this week. We had a retreat, where we got to know more about each other, each other's names, etc. yesterday and today. Tomorrow we begin "official" training. Those coming from the south (Nebraska and Iowa employees) have had the majority of the training, so will be doing odd jobs such as putting together beds, desks, chairs, etc. I have an office job and there's office work to do, so will be doing my job.
Over lunch hour today I went to the post office and got our personal mail. It is downtown, on 3rd Avenue, and my apartment on 22nd Avenue. In the future I can probably come home for lunch and get the mail at the same time.
The natives have spoken with us about the things we need to know about the -40 weather. They also warned us to not go to Chena Hot Springs under the Aurora Borealis, as there is some Asian culture who believes you will conceive under the Aurora Borealis, so they take advantage of that belief, and are found any and everywhere, doing their thing at the springs. They also told us that we MUST cover our mouths when it is -40, as that cold air can freeze one's windpipe. They gave us advice as to what kind of hat to purchase (one where only one's eyes are showing), buy the BEST gloves ($80-120), and boots. Here we thought we were prepared for cold weather. Guess not!
Fairbanks is unlike any other city I've ever seen. It's common for people to have tarps hanging from their homes, eaves hanging off of the houses, boarded up windows, parts of houses repaired with particle board, multiple non-running vehicles parked around homes, and many have semi trailers (without the wheels) parked by their homes and apartments. I'm assuming these are used for storage space.
If you'd like to take a look at Fairbanks, check out www.newsminer.com website. Their web cam shows a street that runs 2 blocks east of my apartment. I've been watching that web cam ever since I knew we were going to be moving to Fairbanks. On my way to Camilla and Brian's place Sunday night we drove past it. It is funny, but I felt as though I'd arrived! Well, I know I had, but it was like poring over vacation brochures and being anxious to go to a destination, that destination for me was the parking lot of the News Miner!
I heard from Nate today - he made it into Juneau on the ferry, drove the van off, stayed overnight, and drove the van back on. He is to be in Whittier (close to Anchorage) around 3 p.m. Thursday, July 24th, then will drive the 7 hours to Fairbanks.
Fortunately the U-Haul guy gave me until July 26 to get the U-Haul returned. I'm hoping that Nathan will be back in time to finish unloading it, as he packed boxes HEAVY so HE could carry them. My degenerating lower spine doesn't like it when I carry more than a few heavy boxes a day. Further, once I get them into the apartment it is difficult to find a place for everything. I'm getting creative, though, in deciding what can be done about that. I will get some boxes that will fit underneath the bed and 1/2 sofa/love seat, and have a 6' wide closet in the living room that can be used for storage, too. I thought about pulling the dresser in the bedroom away from the wall and storing boxes behind it, but couldn't do that because I moved the bed away from being squished up against the wall to facing north-south so we can both get up at night to use the bathroom which, of course, is adjacent to the bedroom. (notice how I'm staying positive here??)
I went to the $1.50 store tonight to buy some much needed storage baskets and a silverware holder. I should have purchased some dish detergent, as haven't come across mine yet.
Camilla and Brian took me to the store Sunday night to buy laundry detergent and I also bought a few grocery items. Cheap bread was $1.70/loaf and 18 eggs $2.60. I bought the eggs thinking that hard boiled eggs would be tasty and convenient. So far I haven't come across the pots and pans in the U-Haul. Further we don't have a microwave (ours in SC was built in) so need to get one of those. I'm waiting until Nate gets here so I get the size/kind HE wants....and with the hope he'll split the cost!
I heard from our tenant in Sioux City that the incredible winds Sunday night tore out the middle flowering crab tree in our front driveway area and that water poured in one of the basement windows. She also reports hearing a "chirping" sound in the kitchen and can't figure out what it is. Neither can I, as I don't ever remember hearing that sound before. (She checked and it is NOT the smoke alarm.)
She also reports that the electrician has not yet been there. He was to have been there a week ago today, but said he was busy and would come Friday, then Tuesday, and now is saying not until next week. She is going to try to find someone else to do the wiring, as I can't receive a rent check until the wiring is finished.
I think this pretty well brings you up to date. I plan on posting pictures from the trip up here in the near future, and will continue to keep this blog updated.
To those of you from Iowa who have contacted me, I thank you SO much. It is nice to hold onto the "old and familiar" while so far away from Iowa - home to me all my life.