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

Holidays = Holidaze

Forgive me for not posting for over a month. I was busy getting things lined up for a ten day visit back to Iowa for a between-the-holidays visit. We were able to get one Alaska Arlines ticket for regular price and a companion fare for $50 and figured it would do us well to take advantage of the savings.

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 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 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.