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.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
One week later
We’re becoming familiar with Fairbanks, but haven’t really gotten settled yet. Everything at work is brand new which translates to office chairs are still in boxes, no office supplies, and computers need some tweaking before fully functional. Nate spent Friday putting together office chairs for several offices, I got my computer set up so I can link to my files in Sioux City (pretty amazing that I can link to the files I “left behind” over 3000 miles away just like I’m sitting in my former office), and I went shopping for office supplies with two other gals. It will be a luxury to have more than one stapler and one box of paper clips.
I located the post office and was able to retrieve our first mail received here in Fairbanks. Our car insurance company switched from semi-annual to annual premium because they don’t sell insurance in Alaska. In the process of changing from semi-annual to annual premiums they also changed the policy numbers. Nate paid the premiums before we moved; however due to the policy # change they refunded the $ he paid and sent us new bills. We received multiple pieces of mail pertaining to the overage and bills due…so the mail wasn’t really that exciting, however did necessitate time and phone calls back to IA to figure out why we were getting bills and receiving checks and so many different policy numbers were involved.
I learned from the locals that we can pick up our mail at the PO anytime between 7 & 7, however the service window doesn’t open until around 10 a.m. during the warmer months. In the colder months they say that the window doesn’t open as early, to allow the homeless time to vacate the premises.
Friday evening we took the evening off from unpacking and went to dinner with Brian and Camilla. We checked out a Mexican restaurant and it received our tummy’s seal of approval. After that we stood in the parking lot of the News Miner and smiled and waved to my parents, Sam and Sam’s dad back in Iowa. We connected via cell phones and chatted while waving at them. It felt pretty strange to be waving at a building – they could see us, but all we saw was the building and tiny camera. I felt kind of goofy having done the “web cam wave”, however Camilla informed me that Saturday she did the same thing for the same people. Assessment: Alaskans stand in parking lots waving at buildings and Iowans sit in front of their computer watching for people silly enough to wave at buildings.
We turned in early as Saturday we needed to get the U-Haul unloaded and returned.
It felt SO good to turn in the U-Haul, as it had become a symbol of still being in transition, not to mention me having to drag it around with me wherever I drove, as we didn’t have the tools necessary to detach it from Nate’s vehicle. The flip side of that is now we have all these boxes and boxes and more boxes cluttering up our tiny apartment. Thankfully we have a place we can store some of the unnecessary items. It isn’t climate controlled, so we have to sort through everything to ensure everything we store can withstand the -40 temps that occur.
We checked out the local Farmer’s Market Saturday. Many crafters have booths there, too. Nate had a buffalo hot dog and I had a vegetarian pita, both firsts for us. We did some exploring and ended up finding a free picnic I’d seen the free picnic advertised on the website of the local newspaper but had no clue how to get to it. They offered buffalo burgers and reindeer sausage as well as other “normal” Midwest foods. These were firsts for us, as was having a picnic in a cemetery, where the picnic was located! I’m thinking/hoping that this isn’t the norm for Alaska. The cemetery was very nicely landscaped and surrounded by many 60’ tall evergreen trees. There was an article in the News Miner about the unusual location for a picnic.
We bought a microwave, as ours in SC was built-in. It has a browning unit in it, too. I was surprised that a unit this sophisticated was only $85. We went to the Salvation Army store and purchased a quilt for our bed which perfectly matches our carpet and drapes for only $7. My thrifty side is loving these bargain prices. Our supposed love seat is a drab army green-we found a color-coordinated throw also for $7. Woo hoo!
Thursday the fax machine ran out of ink at work, so I had to run to Office Max. On my way there I noticed what I thought was someone’s horse walking along the highway…on second notice I saw it was a MOOSE! My first moose sighting in Fairbanks. I was so excited to see it, however to save face was careful to share that with the southerners (what we Iowa and Nebraska natives call ourselves).
After three days of beautiful 70 degree weather it’s been rainy and about 54. Sunday night we received 3” of rain. I’m told that last summer they had sun, sun, sun, and nice temps, and only 2-3 days of rain. Somehow this summer is the opposite. I’m not really minding it, as it’s more tolerable than the heat and humidity of Iowa.
We attended church with Brian and Camilla at the only Methodist church in town (fairbanksfirst.org) Sunday. The church holds probably 100, and they have 3 services. Last week 208 folks attended. There was a lady from the church who is relocating to Kentucky and they had a farewell for her today. It brought back memories of when we were on the other “side”/back in Iowa and our church had a going away potluck for us. It was different to be strangers in church, yet good to finally be in Alaska. We went to lunch with Brian and Camilla and then worked more on unpacking/situating things.
We’ve decided to get cable so that we can have TV reception in the living room/kitchen and internet access. Trying to determine when the people I’ve been using their WiFi connection are logged in is frustrating to say the least. I didn’t have any internet connection all weekend..felt like I was gasping for internet air and at times wondered if I’d survive. LOL It will be installed Friday night, so no easy connection to the internet until then.
I spoke with our tenant Sunday and the electrician still hasn’t been to our house to do the rewiring. She contacted another electrician who gave us a bid. Unfortunately it comes with obstacles – he needs 50% payment prior to doing the work and needs the shed unlocked as it has electricity in it and we accidentally brought both keys with us to Alaska. Time is of the essence as we aren’t able to receive any rent until the wiring is completed and inspected and the 1st of August is rapidly approaching. Monday I got up at 5 a.m. to call IA and learned that the original electrician has taken out the permit to do the wiring. I phoned our tenant today and she indicates it’s all done – well, except for the bill being paid to the electrician!
We bought the local Sunday Newspaper so we can feel somewhat more connected to what’s coming up in the community. Casting Crowns, a well-known Christian band Nate and I heard in concert in Council Bluffs, IA will be in concert here this Thursday night. The state fair will be held here the first week in August, so we must check that out, especially the backhoe rodeo. We’ll have to see if they have as many things on a stick as the IA state fair.