Saturday, June 30, 2007

These are just some photos, the front of the house, with some stuff that hasn't made it from the deck into the house yet. And a new painting I finished days before we left California. Who is that handsome guy? :) Yes, my first portrait of Greg. I'm proud of it. Oh, just a footnote, if you look off to the left of the first photo (front of house) you'll see the beginning of Gregs woodpile. :0) Make sure you read Gregs blog for today below. Take care and I will be posting more photos tomorrow. M.

Another world

As I have been settling into the ways of the Alaskan life, I have been mentally noting some subtle differences as to the way day to day life is conducted here. As opposed to where we have come from, California. Some of these differences are obvious; longer summer daylight, shorter winter gets really, really cold in the winter.... Still others are huge, and in some senses probably best you come here to find out some of those yourselves. But the ones that I have found to be most intriguing are the subtle ones. The ones that most native Alaskans probably take for granted. So I want to go through a few.
So far as I drive down the local roads to and from my travels, I have noticed very little to none in the way of litter. In Arnold and Dorrington I would constantly see it strewn on the side of the road, as if the roadside were a public dispensary of ones discards. Which leads to another observation. Here, there are no "$500.00 Fine For Littering" signs. There, they seem to be if they do any good to deter litterbugs. There seems to be less sophistication here as opposed to California as well. Everyone is simple and there are no 'statements'. One thing that caught my attention is the way that store clerks handle the verification of identification. In California they want your social security number, drivers license, retina scan....DNA..... Here, if a clerk is unsure of who someone is, the customer simply yells out in the store "does anybody here know me" and if someone says "yeah, she's good" or "she's who she says she is" then it is sufficient I.D. Incredible. There are no 'theme' nights here as far as liquor goes. For example, you wont find a 'Miller Beer night' or something to that effect at any saloons. where as in California there seems to be an overabundance of liquor brand name themed events at clubs and bars. There are barbed wire fences of some sort or roadside fencing along every road in California. Here, if a guy wants to for instance get naked and run with the Caribou through the 'tidal flats' outside of Kenai....well, he can! There are no fences along highways here. Alot of that is due in part to much of the land is state land, not private. People don't stare here!!!! I have yet to see aluminum can roadside recycling centers here, or those neat 'coin to cash' machines you would find in grocery stores in California....which sucks, because I have a huge jar of loose change that I need to convert to greenbacks! At least in Dorrington and Arnold there wasn't a day go by that we didn't see commercial jets all day flying overhead. Here, we occasionally see a low flying float plane taking off or landing from one of the many local lakes, but to date no commercial jets. The list can go on. Now by no means do I think that California is a bad place (smirk), nor do I think that either here nor there do a few reflect the majority necessarily. I have just found some of these things to be interesting. It really is in some sense like living in another world. The weather here has been very mild all week. I don't think we have got over 65 degrees most of the week, and there has been a constant sea breeze most of the week as well. At times it is still somewhat hard to believe we are here. And like Maryann said this morning, she keeps wondering when vacation will be over and we have to go home. But this is home. Just is unbelievable sometimes that we pulled this off. But we were determined to get where we wanted to be, and so to will we continue with that same drive and determination to find our niche here in 'the last frontier' make our lives, and settle down. The more dramatic events of my retrograde have seemed to somewhat subside, but there are still alot of communication issues happening and just alot of "those dumb little things" happening daily. Oye! Well, it's getting chilly out and I am getting t.h.o.'s so I am going to part for now and shut some windows. Have a great rest of the weekend. Love to all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What is retrograde can I get one?

I was going to do a post tonight on 'subtle differences' between Alaska and California...besides the obvious. The title would have been an example of one! In California, everyone wants what the other person Alaska, they don't know what they want and frankly, don't care, but are thankful when they get it!! But we will explore this another night. After giving it some deliberation, I have decided to post a piece on "retrograde". Some of you may be asking...what is a retrograde? Let me try and convey to you a basic understanding, as I have come to understand it from my astrological guru. Hopefully I don't screw it all up and disappoint her. ;) At certain times through the year, the planet Mercury goes into a retrograde. Ultimately this affects (most especially, if not possibly exclusively) Gemini's, of which I am one. This retrograde can last usually up to a couple weeks. During this time period, as well as in some cases days before as well as quit possibly days after, everything that can go wrong does. A Gemini experiences what would equate to an aggressive series of events which will test their patience, blow their minds, almost seem like a dark cloud is looming over their heads. Communication becomes an issue as you can get several different answers to one question, or sometimes find it a struggle to even get an answer at all. Problems are left open with no solution in sight. Or for example, you could make a reservation say at a hotel during your retrograde, and weeks later after your retrograde is long done, go to check in to find out that in fact you never had that reservation, or that your confirmation number doesn't even exist. I have been told to add "re" to words during retrograde. Like; recheck, reassert, redo... ect. Apparently, for reasons I can't explain, this is supposed to help. I have also been told that it is best to ignore it, to try and not fight it, be creative or build something to occupy the time. Why would an event like this occur in a Geminis life....who knows! But it does. Sometimes it will blow over and you never even know you went through a retrograde where as other times it rears its ugly head and life is a living hell for two weeks.
So some of you are probably thinking to yourselves after hearing this; "Greg has had too much Alaskan air....or rolled around in a patch of 'skunk cabbage'..." I have proof. For years I have been able to successfully pinpoint my retrogrades fairly accurately as I will see the usual patterns begin in my life, and upon calling my astrological guru will find out that it is about to begin, began, or is ending. Every freakin time. There has been times that I had a feeling I was in one, and without even mentioning it to my guru, she will tell me I am. I have no doubt it is real. So, you don't want to hear a list of all of the past weeks' events that I am REfering to. That list is too long and would exhaust too much of what little energy I have left to REiterate on it all. I will give you mere example of a couple of the latest things that have occurred in what has been my very special little retrograde in Alaska. My story goes like this:

This past Friday. My first paying 'project/job' for my new maintenance business here. Mind you, I don't have my truck yet so I have to take Maryann's Tahoe to work. The job itself has some struggles of which are not important other than you should just take my word for it. But then around mid-day, I get a call from Maryann on my cell. Her and John took the Chevelle out and it died and wont start. Now, I drive that car all of the time and never have a problem with it.....ever. But I am in retrograde. So they are stranded and have to sit and wait. For hours. Stuck. Because this is my first client and I am in the middle of the job, I just don't feel right telling him I have to go and save my stranded family...."sorry man!" So I work on, bothered by the whole thing, going over in my mind what could be wrong. Can't get there until 4:15 to rescue them, and I have to meet 'dude' a half hour back out at 5:00PM to buy my truck. The damned car wont start for me, so I call for a tow (I have AAA). They can't get out there until 6:00PM. I struggle with the beast trying to go through everything systematically of what could be wrong. Got gas to the carb, got spark to the know. Finally at 5:30, I beat the carb with a wrench, open the throttle full, and wallah! It starts. The thing was flooded. Probably a stuck float. Mind you, in all of the years I have owned the Chevelle it has never, ever flooded out on me. Ever, never. I call AAA to cancel the tow. They say ok. So we run it and ourselves home, call 'dude' to tell him we will be there at 6:30. He says fine. I hang up with 'dude' and get a call on my cell from the tow truck driver, he's pist because we aren't there. He is. I tell him we cancelled with AAA. He calms down and says that it wouldn't be the first time AAA has failed to call in a 'cancel'. He is ok. I am ok. We meet 'dude' around 6:30 and I finally have a truck again! So then the next day, Saturday, I take my truck out and I am gleaming....a month and a half with no vehicle and I am elated to finally have one. I go out to wrap up what was left with Fridays' job at the restaurant and then go out to my clients' home to talk to him about some other work he needs done there. After that, around 1:00PM, I am driving back from Kasilof which is a very rural drive, sparse and....well, country-like. Nice drive, got some smooth tunes going, really relaxing and enjoying myself. After all, the past couple weeks have been hectic since the ferry ride, and I haven't had time to unwind. All of a fricken sudden, I see a wheel go flying past the side of my truck as I am coming to the left turn lane to Kenai, and before I can say "what the fu...." I feel a huge jolt and the deafening sound of metal scraping pavement as I come to a screeching halt in the middle of the highway. My damned wheel cut loose, came off and is now barreling down a gully, across an embankment, up the other side and heading towards the intersecting highway, as I watch in complete disbelief, soiling myself. Unbelievable! I wasn't 'fighting'. I was just driving, minding my own business. This is just a mere example of what I have been contending with lately with this retrograde. Now things like the great DSL delima...where I was told we will have DSL here in Nikiski, but since have gotten 3 different answers as to why we can't now....retrograde. The stinky water well filtration altercation....these things and others I am just hanging with, ignoring, and knowing it will all work itself through. But this....this is just 'in my face' and I have no control over it. It is mentally burning me out man. But we are extremely happy here nonetheless and there are alot of little positives popping up everywhere for us.
What became of the run away wheel you ask. Well now, that is simple. The tow truck know, the one I pissed off the day before because they came all the way out to Nikiski from Soldotna to find out I wasn't there...came out from Soldotna as per AAA to tow me back into Soldotna, just a mere 10 minutes from where I am broke down and gimping, to get my mess fixed. Which was a fiasco in itself. The tow truck is broken down with a bad starter, and it is getting replaced at the service station which delays their response about an hour or more. At least that is what they tell me...remember, I pissed them off the day before! Then they get to the scene and now because the front of my truck is buried a foot into the shoulder due to no left wheel (I had to drive it off with 3 wheels to get it off the highway), he has to call his constituent back at the station to bring out another truck with a floor jack to try and get my truck up enough to get the cradle under it (sounding like the Criterion brothers, aint it). Which takes another half of an hour because...well, just because I suppose! Why else would a 10 minute run take someone 30 minutes?! Before the tow arrived I had to hike several hundred yards down the gully, across the embankment out to the side of the other highway to retrieve my wheel and roll it across the path it traversed to get it back over to my truck. (Point of interest; another subtle difference between California and Alaska. In California, if I didn't get to my stray wheel lickity-split, someone would have picked it up and taken it claiming 'finders keepers' Alaska everyone is stopping to ask if I need help). The wheel is disfigured and essentially wasted now. After trying in find a replacement I found out they don't make that style wheel anymore and I may have to buy 4 new rims. So there I was near days end with my thumb in a dark place feeling as if I just wanted to "take my ball and go home"! :/ So upon hearing all of you still want a retrograde??? It's getting better. The past several days have been mellow. But. Retrograde lasts until July 7th......AAARGHHHH!
God bless and good night.

Arctic Time, The Wood Whore Begins and Skunk Cabbage, Oh My

Another beautiful day here in Nikiski. Yesterday it was so clear that you could see all of the volcanoes (Augustine, Iliamna, Redoubt and Spur). Yes, we are within the Ring of Fire, woo hoo! It is so cool driving along the hwy coming home and seeing the spruce tree forest on the right and the Cook Inlet and mountain range on the left, gorgeous, I just cannot describe it.
I posted 2 photos one of Cherokee (on his new pillow) and the other is of the house looking from the path from the lake towards the house. The fauna is growing so fast due to the amount of sunlight we get that the house is being inundated by it. Our lawn around the house and garage is over 8 inches tall, we still need to find a mower and the fireweed (which is prevalent throughout our yard grows up to 10feet tall, it is now 5ft tall). John and I are surprised daily on how fast everything is growing. We've been measuring the growth and after one day the plants we're tracking have grown over 5inches, overnight. I wish you could be up here to experience this 20 hours of daylight, it's truly incredible. I woke up last night to get a drink of water, there was fog on the lake, it was breathtaking.
I've heard from one person(a native Alaskan) besides Greg that we're suffering/enjoying being on "Arctic Time". This is when you go to bed at midnight ( the sun is still up, but you finally feel sleepy), you wake up at 10am have coffee, start your day and run your errands up to 5pm (and wonder why everything is beginning to close, even when the sun is still up), eat dinner at 9pm (because for some reason your very hungry), to go to bed again at midnight. This has been us, NO JOKE! This has been our schedule daily, I'm wondering what the winter is going to be like... Am I going to constantly feel sleepy? Yawn continually? Will my bed keep whispering to me, " Come here, you want to come to me and crawl into my warm and secure abyss..) ???? I am very curious. This is what is so exciting about taking this jump. When Greg and I were here in November we didn't feel that way, constantly sleepy, no. We'll see, until then I'm loving being on "Arctic Time" and wish you all could experience this.
Oh, and I can't wait to post a new picture of the beginnings of Greg, The Wood Whore's Virgin Pile of Firewood, that he has been bringing home, daily. I will post that tomorrow. I've got to keep some of you out there in suspense..... :0)
Just a footnote: another Alaskan told me that that first pic of the weird cabbage I took back in Juneau is called "Skunk Cabbage" for it's rare smell that oddly resembles a pot farm.... :) Too hilarious. Thought you would want to know.. ;) Love ya, M.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

That Smells FOUL and the Criterion Brothers

Good Morning. Well I've uploaded another photo of the deck, from the Adirondack chairs to the newly installed hot tub (we drug it up with us from California) and you can also see bits of the lake and the sauna. The other photo is of our new friend Michelle who we met on the first ferry moving from our old neck of the woods to Alaska too. She will be our first guest to our house here for she is coming up from Homer to stay with us tonight. Very cool. We've missed her exuberant personality, her easy going attitude about life and her laugh. :0) We can't wait to see her. She has a job interview today for student teaching in nearby Homer and we wish her the best of luck.
Greg is still experiencing his Retrograde (where everything that can or will goes wrong goes that direction) NO JOKE!! He is coping with it well. There used to be a time that he would just come back home and crawl back into bed..... :) Yesterday we were able to get 1 thing done without it falling apart. We recharged the soft water tank to help with our well problem. Since we've been here, our water has felt odd, smelled metallic and sulfuric. Nasty. We have found out that the water on the peninsula is bad (mainly iron and other minerals). There is alot of iron in our water here so we experience scraggly, dry hair and a smell of metal on our skin (like working on the engine of the Chevelle). Yeah, that smell. Foul. So we're currently recharging the soft water tank, recharging our well and looking into putting in Charcoal filters on our water. This would be a good thing. You don't know how much I would love to drink, smell and take a shower (not in this order) in our old drinking water on Shoshone. That was the best drinking water I have ever tasted. It came directly from the Stanislaus River and it was delicious. Believe me if I had the money I would send for a 5 gallon container..,... I'm not asking for alot am I? :)
So besides that, John is waiting for his Alaska work permit to start his job at Ocean Beauty fishing. His Thursday class with the fire dept should be in session this week as long as the fire in Ninilchik (we are not threatened by this fire) is contained. This fire started last Wednesday and has been burning all week. Although with the rain and high humidity it looks like they are getting a good handle on it. John will be a happy camper if his class is running, they will be experiencing a live burn (a mock fire of a building on site) and supervision with putting the burn out. Very exciting. He will have 2 yrs of this training and then the fire dept. puts him through the physical testing of firefighter academy and then he chooses his post (smoke jumper, domestic house firefighter, forest firefighter). Yesterday John got to drive over to the recreation center (swimming pool, waterslides, gym, teen center etc. for the neighborhood) all by himself, boy did he have a smile on his face. This was the first time since he received his license that we've allowed him to go anywhere in our truck by himself. John tried containing his happiness before he left but we could still see it. Don't you remember those days? :) John and I have met many of the town folk here. This town reminds me alot of Arnold back when everyone knew one another. Everyone here is very friendly and welcoming. It's amazing. We've already been invited to join the teen's sports (for John) there's an open Dodgeball team (adults only, I would love to see Greg play this)that meets here and plays. There are just so many fun activities, even during the winter. John has already met the Hall Kids (named after their last name) who are trying to create their own skateboarding video to go pro. Some town people have said, " They've had so many concussions that they are harmless." What does that mean....!!!???? :0) So many of the conversations I have heard or been in have reminded me of the Chevy Chase Movie, I can't remember the name, The town of Rosebud or Yellow Dog (Tom and Bea will know because they named there Inn after it.) Help us out here. Anyway, we're waiting for the Criterion Brothers to arrive at our doorstep at any moment. If any of you have seen this movie you would understand what I mean. ;0)
Anyway, I will keep you posted, take care, M.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Good Morning! We woke up to rain, overcast skies and it's currently 50 degrees out. Our plan is to take the dogs out to the beach to run, do some needed window cleaning on the house, take a load of boxes and trash to the transfer station and some other daily chores that I will not bore you with.

These pictures were taken this morning, of the deck over looking the lake and the fauna below it. The house sits above the lake, so taking pics of the house from the lake is difficult with all of the tall fauna. The lake is 50ft from the decks edge but the terrain slopes downward. The gentleman that built this house knew what he was doing because we have a terrific view of the lake from every window in the house. The lake is as big as Lakemont Pines Lake in Arnold for some of you that are familiar. It's big enough that our moose, loons, ducks, geese, arctic terns and other animals I haven't been able to identify yet call it home. It's small enough that we do not have the loss of wildlife on our lake due to float planes landing and taking off, public use access and such. It's very peaceful and quiet, we are enjoying it immensely.

I did see a mama moose and her twins this morning, she was trying to teach the babies to swim, it didn't go over too well, the babies wouldn't have any of it. It was comical. Mom got in with a loud splash, swam around the shore and the babies continued to watch. I did get pics although they didn't come out so great because they were on the other side of the lake and by the time I took the pic they were running into the brush. Stay tuned.

For those of you that love native plants, in the picture you will see pink flowers, these are native roses that close when it's cold or raining, very interesting and beautiful. I'm still trying to identify other native plants but I am glad for the immense bounty of Fireweed that we have-I can't wait until it blooms. Most of our trees on our property are Birch, Willow, Alder, Spruce (some have died to a recent bark beetle infestation which will become our firewood) and Aspen. There is one tree I haven't identified yet. I will keep you posted.

I would upload more pics but your going to have to be patient, we're still on dial up. Stay Tuned.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Plug for "The Chevy Man"

I am so relieved to finally have a truck much less a Chevy. Can't tell you (because this is a family oriented show) what I would have done if I had to reform to buying a offense to the Ford folks. I just aint one of em!! So, yes Scott, in fact I was checking on a plane ticket yesterday as I was considering flying down to Oregon (since I am so much closer now...) to buy a Chevy from Hubbard Chevrolet. Anyone in the market for a Chevy will find personable service and 'no bull' sales at Hubbard Chevrolet. So if your in the market for a real truck, and in the Woodburn area of Oregon, go see Scott....'The Chevy Man' Hubbard Chevrolet. An honest deal, at the right price....because the 'Chevy Man' can! I would have buddy, but the right one came before I bought the ticket! Take care guys, we had a really great visit, and wished it could have been just a little bit longer. Next time....we are closer! ;)

A Happy Man Again

Greg found a work truck, yippee.... He's a happy man, it 's been over a month and a half since he sold his last truck. He felt like he had lost a leg not having a vehicle. Do you blame him? So anyway he's a happy man tonight. Thanks for the positive thoughts, I was beginning to wonder if we'd ever find a Chevy/Gmc. Now we need to get Johns....

I have taken a couple of photos of the outside of the house but they aren't the best due to a forest fire that is sending smoke our direction. I took an awesome picture of the sun completely red last night, so sad that something so beautiful could come from something so terrible. I will take shots tomorrow if it's not raining (a storm is coming in tonight.) We'll see.

Johns first meeting last night with the fire dept was cancelled because the firemen from his firehouse are on the fire. So we'll hopefully get him there next week, he's excited. John will also possibly be working at a fish processing plant a few miles from our house, they're just waiting on a work permit.

As to Greg and Johns fishing yesterday, they didn't catch a thing. And because it was Summer Solstice I didn't sleep a wink again because of the sunlight streaming into our bedroom windows through the blinds. But it's better than NO Sun right? :0)

Anyway, take care. Maryann

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ditching Those California Plate, Yee-Haw!

Truly Alaskans! Next is the drivers licenses.
So we've got booklets in hand and are currently studying to be the first family of 3 to go in and take our drivers tests together. Now everyone say, "Awwww, how cute." :0)
Right now, Greg and John are at the Kasilof River fishing for Red Salmon, send your positive thoughts there way, for their fishing licenses were $100 total for 1 day of fishing, yikes! Greg will have to fill you in on this one.
Tonight John has his first meeting at the Mackey Lake Rd Fire Station in Soldotna to enter the Explorer Program and take his studies to be a firefighter. We're extremely proud parents of a positive and goal minded teen with a voracious appetite to be a fireman/smoke jumper. Wish him luck.
Take care and pictures of the house, lake and moose should be coming soon. The howling didn't stop all night last night. NO JOKE! Love ya, M.
Note: Mom and Licie-turn on your cell phones so that I may call you. Love ya

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

These pictures were taken at a rest stop about 30 minutes from home (that's John and I standing by the Tahoe with very big grins on our faces) and the other pic is me trailing John driving the Chevelle (yes we gave him the privilege and boy did he meet alot of people by driving that car, unfortunately not GIRLS) and Greg in the lead with the moving truck.
So today was spent starting bank accounts, searching for a truck for Greg, changing the registrations on the Tahoe and Chevelle and some other misc. items. The state of Alaska is primarily conservative and with that comes alot of domestic vehicles. Greg is having a tough time finding a GMC/Chevrolet truck because alot of the trucks up here are primarily Fords (unfortunately Greg is a Chevy/GMC man.) ( Note: Licie, make sure to point this out to your FORD Man! Love ya. Sis) So it's slim pickens here but we are holding out hope. :0)
Ok, on to the next topic. DMV in Kenai is quite different. I have never been in a government office and was able to watch Days of Our Lives (not that I'm an avid soaps girl) streaming on the TV above the customer service agents.....hum. Have you? This was different. Greg and I waited for maybe 45 minutes, walked up and were able to get our plates and registrations changed at the same time. Often enough I've been in DMV in California and have never had such a smooth transaction. Just another plus living here. ;)
The weather has been the topic of conversation lately with a few people who have called us. The weather here has been beautiful, the high was 70 degrees today and a little nipply at night. We've had dew shedding from our roof every morning since we've arrived but that's normal being that it hasn't gotten over 40-45 degrees at night. Don't forget alot of that cold comes from being so close to the Cook Inlet. But we're still very happy......
To those of you that I haven't called yet, i.e my sister, mom, Kelli etc. Sorry, I'm having difficulty with time. My problem is at 11pm it looks like 3pm and so on. You really do not want me to call you this late at night/morning. I can greatly appreciate why Alaskans have exhaustion problems in the summer. The Midnight Sun does throw you for a loop let me tell you. You can't begin to appreciate this until your up here, it's definately different. Greg and I have been so busy unpacking,cleaning,sitting on the swing, hot tubbing, bird watching etc. that before we know it it's midnight (and the sun is still up). Yet, every night we tell one another that we need to get to bed sooner. Hum..... Be patient I will call, soon.
Take care and we love you. And to all of you folks out there that we do not know because you were given our blog address from our friends and family, WELCOME. Share your questions and concerns or drop us a line. We hope your enjoying this, maybe someday we'll be friends too. :0) Love, Maryann Oh, by the way Carol I had a feeling you may have had a LONG night or you were just tired (re: your grammar). Sometimes I'm neither and I have terrible grammar. Take care ;) We love our loyal fans......M.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Moose Sighting

We just got back from bbqing out on the beach this evening and came home to a moose calf (the size of a horse) in our backyard. The dogs were growling and barking as if to say, " What the heck is that." :0) Greg tells us (John and I and the dogs) to stay in the truck while he goes into the house, I thought he was grabbing the camera so we could show you our neighborhood moose. Sorry, no picture was taken. We sat in the truck with the dogs watching our moose like a bunch of scared chickens. It stood 5 ft from Greg for awhile then eventually ran down into our ravine and back up the other side to the road.
Since we have been here we've been hearing this strange howling noise at night (remember it's still daylight out even though it's late at night) well guess what it was our moose. We just learned that moose make a howling noise.... interesting. I wouldn't have ever known. :0) So besides the Loons on our lake making their wonderful sounds we have howling mooses. It's great living in Alaska! We wish we could stream our wilderness to you live, maybe that will be next on our list to blog. Wouldn't that be fun? :0)
Oh, by the way, coming home earlier today John and I were driving down the Spur Hwy when we saw people on the opposite side of the hwy pointing. It was like something out of Northern Exposure (the tv show), a large bull moose (the size of a clydesdale horse) walking through a heavily trafficed parking lot, towering over cars and trucks. There were people walking through the lot getting to there cars like it was no big thing. Amazing. We will keep you posted. Love M.

Hello again. I want to send our sincere Thank You's to all of you who have sent us cards, emails and phone calls. It felt great pulling up to the Nikiski Post Office to retrieve all of our mail and receive such positive and loving cards/gifts. We miss all of you and cannot count on all of our fingers and toes. The number of friends we have is so immense. Thank you again. By the way, when we met our new post master (Audrey) she not only handed us our mail with a smile but also welcomed us to the community, how's that for Alaska?! :0) It's funny but we've had nothing but terrific luck finding and becoming friends with our Post masters in the past, that also means you Paula (by the way, those stamps you sent of the Northern Lights are Beautiful). I promise we will not be sending those to the IRS..... :0)
Ok, the pics are of the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, it is gargantuan let me tell you. The other picture is of another ferry in passing. It's taking me awhile to upload the pictures so be patient. Love you all, Maryann

Just Some Pictures from the Kennicott

The sunset picture was taken in the Gulf at 12 am in the morning. And another glacier in Prince William Sound, a few minutes from Whittier. I will be posting more. Love ya, M.
Oh, a note to Joann Bunton, that blanket you bought Greg and I is awesome and very warm, thank you again. Just received your card yesterday too, we miss you both too. Take care. M.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Larger Ship, Strange stains on carpet, Cars strapped down & Barf Bags

Well Hello! It feels like it's been a long time since I posted last.... The last time was before we boarded in Juneau.

John again boarded the ship first, that is the Kennicott (the largest ship in the Alaska Marine Highway). I boarded next with the dogs and Tahoe. Now when I first drove into the car bay I was SHOCKED, the attendants in the car bay were strapping down the cars, trucks, rv's and such with 6 inch wide straps. Eeeekkkk! Was the first thought that crossed my mind. With such a large ship, (twice as big as the first ship we were on, the Columbia) why would you need to strap down vehicles? Well, let me tell you. When I finally got my items from the car and came into the first hallway there were barf bags every few feet on handrails. Handrails you say? Yes, all hallways had handrails. :( My first thought, this isn't going to be good. I will get back to this.

I went directly to the purser to get the keys to the berth that Greg had reserved for us (I was really curious now.) The berth is 5ft x 7ft. John and I couldn't walk anywhere without asking the other if they could climb back into their bunk to get by. John and I called it our cabinet. "So hey, ya wanna go back to the cabinet?" "The cabinet is looking mighty good about now" (this was said when the ship was rocking to and fro.) NO JOKE! Our cabinet became our sanctuary to lay down when the boat started to rock.

Now one thing I forgot to mention. When I boarded the ship I noticed very clean areas on the carpeting, everywhere. I didn't think too much of this until later when the attendant in the Gift shop told me he had seen 30 to 60 foot swells while this ship was in the Gulf. Now remember what I said? The Kennicott crosses the Gulf of Alaska from Juneau to Whittier, John and I were on that ship and the attendant says he's seen 30 to 60 ft swells, NOT GOOD!!!!! My eyes must have bulged out of my head hard because the next thing he says is, oh but as I hear it we're not supposed to see or FEEL anything like that on this trip. I HOPE TO HELL NOT! I'm going to be one of those people holding the handrail going down the hallways with a barf bag in the other hand. Watch Out! 30 to 60ft swells would create large stains on the carpeting, wouldn't you think? The boat wasn't even out of port when I over heard another attendant say that he remembered a week ago when the boat was rocking so hard that Bonine/Dramamine was just candy and he had to jump over large spills, of you know what as he was maneuvering to get to and from his quarters. I'm hearing this when we're not even in the Gulf yet! NOT GOOD! I decided I would go up to the main observation room and try to relax, the rocking wasn't supposed to even start until midnight when we finally got out into open waters of the Gulf. Thank god. I HOPEFULLY would be asleep by then. Well, I did sleep through that part of it, because that morning John was asking me (in our cabinet) if I had felt the rocking. I proudly said, "Nope". Most of the days were spent reading, talking to old friends from the Columbia, spying on porpoises, whales, people, eagles and the likes through my binoculars, checking out cool new birds in the bird book, trying to stay away from an older man from England who loved to talk so much you would feel sleepy, eating, hanging out with John and going back to the cabinet. Yes, these are the activities I did, there was nothing else to do! There was no cell service so I couldn't even say Happy Birthday to Greg or ask questions about our house, but that came later. I will tell you, John and I had fun and did some bonding in our Cabinet. John fell asleep back in the cabinet on the 2nd day and missed 4 humpback whales feeding on fish in a circle 15 feet from portside. Sorry John but it was fabulous. I have never seen whales so close. They were spying, (when their heads come out to look around) fluking (tails only above water) and generally swimming. Amazing. I was in deed a tourist. At one point I thought I felt the ship list when all of the tourists came running over to our side of the boat yelling, Oooohhhh, aaahhh, let me in there to get a look, Harry take the picture and so on. It was all pretty comical. Until the boat started to rock. It rocked so bad that if I walked that way all the time police would hall me off to jail. When the boat rocked you walked in a zig-zag pattern bumping into people and so on. NO JOKE! And the only thing that was comforting was to go back to the cabinet and lay down in the bunk. I tried ignoring the rocking. Ya know by reading, sitting upright in a chair but none of this worked. I think the Bonine helped but to a certain point. So all of you that thought you would see me on "Deadliest Catch", NOT!

I am going to end this blog by posting some pictures of the trip. Let's see how well I do with dial up here. Love ya, M.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A slow return to normality.

Good news is Maryann, John and the dogs did survive a rocky float across the Gulf of Alaska! They had some sea worthy tales to tell, but good times were had. In fact many of our former shipmates from the first ferry were as well on board with them for the trip across the gulf. So they reunited and had some good times together. Me, well, I had a killer set up in Whittier compliments of our realtor. Whittier isn't much really, literally. It used to be a military base back during the cold war and acted as a supply line drop off point for ships. From Whittier, trains would then transport the supplies into the interior of Alaska to the military bases. The only way in or out of Whittier is through a tunnel that runs 2 and a half miles through a mountain of solid rock. This road through the mountain is only like 10 feet wide and shares with the railroad track running right down the middle. Fortunately due to the hidden narrative talents of our son, we have live 'dash cam' video from the dashboard of the Chevelle that we will hopefully be able to share with any tunnel enthusiasts once we get DSL and can feed it through! Apparently as he drove the Chevelle through the tunnel he kept the video camera rolling, while stationary on the dashboard! Right now the tunnel is only open to either direction for a half an hour each direction, while it closes to all road traffic when a train needs to run through it. In the winter this schedule is altered severely due to the inclimate weather.....but then again Whittier pretty much shuts down for the winter with the exception of a few die-hard locals that act as caretakers. The entire town lives in this huge apartment building that used to house the military. That is the only living quarters in this little village. Incredible.
We did successfully unload the moving truck, just the 3 of us on the 14th, and spent most of the day yesterday in Anchorage returning the truck, getting our Costco membership and supplying up (yea Tom and Bea, we are official Costconians!) and buying a washer, dryer and fridge at Lowes. And, John and I got our gear for King Salmon fishing (we are still waiting for you to get up here Johnny B.). Anchorage is a very bustling city located aproximately 3 hours to the north of us.
Today was spent re-establishing the basic amenities that we have been without the past 2 weeks. The kitchen was in need of some serious cleaning before Maryann would even start to unpack the kitchen stuff. We are almost there on that. Finally some food in the fridge! John and I were up til 11:30 PM last night (still light out as day at that time) putting in the fridge so we could have a normal breakfast come morning, compliments of Maryann. Today was also spent ripping out a cabinet to get the washer and dryer put in. Since we are on a water well system now (something we are not used to yet) we had to figure out the basic operation of the system and replace several in-line filters that are used to eliminate the odor and bad taste of the natural mineral deposits in the well water. If there is anyone who has experience in this realm....HELP MEEEE!!! Arrrgh! Still have to go through the water softener tomorrow. We also rebuilt the rear shelf of the outhouse, which was dilapidating due to rot. :0 (LOL) With several other little chores we are slowly improving the quality of life here at the compound. As I write tonight, I am using the ice chest for a seat and the foot rest from the couch for a computer table.
Bad news for the day....we are stuck once again with slow speed Internet. Gone are the days these past 2 weeks on the road when we had wireless and DSL! Apparently the phone company needs a piece of equipment ordered before they can get us patched in to DSL. They tell me..."yeah, good thing its now and not winter, otherwise we would have to wait until spring to get you set up!" And they were serious!! Good news for the all of my relatives, don't worry about me. We found a dego here in Nikiski who owns 'La Casa Italian Restaurant' out on the highway! Went there for dinner tonight and it is damned good eating. The owner does all of the cooking, and sings the native Italian tongue back in the kitchen while he prepares the meal. Couldn't find that in Dorrington! After dinner we took the dogs out on the beach here in Nikiski to let them run. They are passed out here on the floor now! The other 3 of us spent some time collecting I got my family hooked on stones! The past several days have been very cool and breezy here. Today there wasn't much breeze and it got up to a warm 70 degrees. Currently it is overcast with lows expected to be in the mid forties tonight. There is 19 hours and 1 minute of daylight today.
Maybe tomorrow Maryann will post some pics....or maybe we will just wait til we get DSL.... as I cant find the camera in the disarray tonight. Egads, it's 10:30 and I need some sleep. So signing off for now, I can say we are very happy, and beginning the rebuilding of our lives now.
Oh, Dad made it through his hip surgery just fine. Thanks for all the prayer and positive energy channeled in his direction, as I do believe that it does work. Have a good night and a happy fathers day to all the dads out there!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Feels good to finally be home!

Finally I'm here!! I did the walk-through this morning.... the house was stripped, the deal is off, I'm going back home!!!

Everything's great. It was left in awesome condition, it's just as I remember it from November. Maryann is going to be elated. John is going to be excited with his room, he has a large room. He also has his own lake less than 50 yards from his room and a beautiful view of the lake from his bedroom window.

Currently I'm waiting at the airport in Kenai for my realtor to give me a ride back up to Whittier where I will meet John and Maryann tomorrow morning at 7:30am. They're lucky I love them because I'd just as soon as well stay here and go home ;) On the other hand, I'm lucky that John and Maryann love me, or I could go to meet them and they could be gone with all my stuff ;) I guess it's an even keel! Speaking of even keel, Maryann and John were somewhat shocked and flushed to find upon boarding the boat that there were barf bags distributed throughout the vessel.

To further escalate her anxiety, when she came back down to the loading bay to kiss me goodbye, she was astonished to find that the dock workers were strapping down all of the vehicles to the loading bay deck!!!!! :((( True story.

Mind you, I've tried unsuccessfully all morning long to contact them via cellphone.... I can only hope and pray. Tomorrow will tell the tale.

Anyways, just a quick update as I had a few minutes. Thank you again Tom & Bea for acting as my intermediate as I stream to you LIVE from the loading curb of the beautiful Kenai Airport in Kenai, Alaska.

The only other thing I can say is it feels good to finally be home!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Just Another Day In Juneau.....

Good Morning again from Juneau, Ak. After a very much needed rest (in a bed) showers and laundry done we are again off. After taking the dogs for a walk I went back out to show you some of the local fauna here in Juneau. Now remember there is almost 20 hours of daylight.
The top picture is of a spruce pinecone (much different than ones from the Stanislaus Forest but still beautiful). The second pic is of this cabbage like plant growing in a wet bog behind the hotel here. Turn your head or computer sideways and look at it closely. I'm sorry again, I haven't quite figured out how to turn the photo yet. Give me a break.... This cabbage like plant is as tall as I am, NO JOKE. And I'm 5'2inches tall. Different huh? :0) I am just amazed and so excited of all the new fauna I will be seeing and learning about. Apparently this cabbage like plant sends up a large (taller than the plant) flower. I can't wait to see that.
Another bit of info for some of you, Alaska time is always an hour behind Pacific Standard Time. So for people like yourself 'Kelli" in Idaho, I am 2 hours behind your time. :0) So I just wanted to let you know. By the way, Kelli thanks for the mesg. I will call you when I get home....
Oh, the other thing I wanted to mention. The ravens here are huge, they make this small dog barking sound. Greg was standing outside wondering who was allowing their dog to continually bark at him. He looked up and it was a raven. They are twice the size of ours in Dorrington, amazing. I will try to get a pic of one today so you can see.
As of this a.m the temp in Kenai is 44degrees with the highs today being between 55-60. With 18 hours and 56 minutes of daylight. The lower you go in Alaska the more sunlight you have and vice versa, the higher you go in Alaska the less sunlight.
Take care and we will be posting soon. Oh and wish Greg a Happy 40th tomorrow. We will be celebrating his birthday when we get home. What a birthday present huh? :0)
Love you all, Maryann

Monday, June 11, 2007

Does size matter...?

Forgive me for not elaborating on the issue of the mis-measured moving truck, earlier this morning. I was beat tired and just plain forgot. If you remember a few days back, we were considering taking off a bumper to make the thing fit....yeah, due to mis-information on the actual length. You know, the last thing the phone rep from the ferry terminal said to us last week was "its not like they go out and measure it with a tape measure". Well, guess what pal....they did. They actually ran one of those rolling tape measurers along the ground next to the truck before it was loaded. Apparently that extra 2 feet 3 inches that we didn't anticipate didn't matter. On the phone they say that the vehicles are packed in like sardine cans so be accurate....which they are. But, there is a little room left between vehicles, and I do mean a little. So I guess the deal is that as long as it is not grossly off in length, it is ok. This is what the verdict was with the terminal rep we spoke with several days before the actual boarding. He said to just not say anything and it would be fine. He was right! So in fact size does long as it is close to accurate.
Another note to mention, I never realized how wearing, the stress and activity of all of this move was until we finally boarded. I slept more through that first 2 days than I can recall ever doing most of my recent years. As a result I do feel so much more rested. Like Maryann said tonight, when you don't have anything to do it is easy to just want to sleep after such an exhausting 2 weeks. Tonight as I contemplate hitting the still feels like it is mid afternoon due to the amount of light out...I miss the people we met and spent so much time with the past days. A biker named Carl and his wife, both from Michigan are in Alaska to do a few weeks of riding and exploring. They shared our community with us on the ship and are in fact here at the motel tonight as well. So I guess in a sense I do feel a little of the experience still with us tonight, but miss the meaningful talks and time spent with our new found friends that we parted with early this morning. I will hold each experience in my heart always. Michelle, thanks for letting me keep the book to finish reading! I am glad you woke up before we left this morning otherwise I would have left it at your pack and never knew how it ended. We hope you will be in our area one day soon to retrieve it! We look forward to seeing you again!! Michelle was another adventurous soul who left everything but a trailer of belongings to find a new life here in Alaska. The best of luck to her although we just know she will find what she is looking for and our paths will cross again. This has all been just such an enlightening and soulful experience. One last thing....we need some serious prayer and positive thoughts for my dad as he goes in for a hip replacement tomorrow. It will all be fine dad. Like I said so many times about our is not a pioneering experience. There were many before you and will be many to follow. You will feel as good as gold soon and look back on it wondering why you even worried! Just go with it all and take the time off of life to relax and enjoy the life around you. Get on a ferry and go to Alaska! ;) We love you and you will be in our thoughts. Goodnight to all, and remember; never be afraid to seek out and live your dreams. Never say 'never' and always move forward with your hearts desires.

A Juneau Alaska Landing

Good Morning, we have landed. You will have plenty of reading below as we are catching up on 3 days of sketchy cell service and no wireless (we coped). :0) So below will be enough eye candy to sustain you for awhile..... A new friend (Michelle, moving to Haines, Alaska from Incline Village, NV) took this photo of myself, Greg and John off of the deck that was our home for the last few days. Thanks Michelle. It was raining, can you tell? The other pic is of one of many waterfalls we saw on our adventure. We didn't want to go to sleep at night because of what we would miss on the way. We saw 5 cruise ships, many ferries and fishing vessels. One of the fishing boats came portside to show us his catch, huge salmon, yum. As of the day before last, we no longer have complete darkness at night. We have a brief stint of daybreak before the sun comes back up again. It feels like we're home.....
As for tomorrow, Greg will hopefully be able to load the moving truck onto the Whittier, Ak bound ferry for John and I and we will be on our way again. While Greg gets a free ride from our title officer to the Juneau airport for a flight into Anchorage. From there he will take another bush plane to Kenai and do the final signing on our house, yipppeeeee! Oh, to be back in our own beds again and not use a communal toilet. ;0) Oh, and do some needed laundry. Those simple things are always appreciated when you don't have them. Don't get me wrong, this entire trip has been an experience and truly memorable.
John met a young man while on the ferry. "Jordan" who has lived in Juneau most of his life. He was great for giving John positive feedback on what his life will be like living in Alaska. As Jordan said" John is going to live out his manhood in the greatest place." Greg and I couldn't agree more. We've met countless people from everywhere who are so excited to be in Alaska and many new friends. Another positive to what was so scary a week ago. Well, it's not so scary and we can't wait to get HOME. Take care, M.

More Views From The Ship

These two photos were taken going into the Wrangell Narrows. The captain of the ship has to stay in a 25 ft wide area of this tight waterway to overt running aground. Let me tell you it got really narrow. I was unable to show you the most narrow part due to so many people trying to take pictures. But you get the idea. All of our surroundings were breath taking.
There was only one time I was thankful that I took the popular over the counter drug, "Bonine" for sea sickness. It was when we crossed Charlottes Sound (a 45 minute ordeal-it felt like 2 hours). Let me tell you, it was very rocky, nothing like I have ever experienced and I was quite concerned for not only ourselves but the poor dogs in the car deck. Tomorrow we will be purchasing more. John and I will be traveling via ferry through the Gulf of Alaska. I heard from other travelers yesterday that that will be tough. We will be in open waters the 2days at sea. Keep those positive vibes coming, John and I do not want to feed the fish..... :0)
As for what we've seen besides eagles. I saw a school of dolphins following along side the ferry, but no whales as of yet. We will keep you posted. M

More Photos

Sorry, your going to have to turn your head on this one. This is the outside side of the solarium that was our home looking to the front of the ship. John and I are seriously thinking on our next ferry from Juneau to Whittier (you know the one Greg will not be on) posting claim on the solarium and giving up our stateroom to someone who could use it. We got a good look at the rooms and there just too confined, no fresh air (the portholes do not open) and the ships captain seems to always have the heat on high. Most of the time we had rain, mountain fog, and overcast cloudy skies. But, it was beautiful. It's been raining all morning since we removed the vehicles from the car deck on the ferry. I realized today that 15 yrs ago I gave away a very good rain slicker that I had when I lived in Seattle, boy would I give anything to have it back. :0)
John asked me this morning if it's going to do nothing but rain at our house. No, we moved to the South central portion of Alaska where we receive more snow than rain. Don't get me wrong we will have rainy days. It just isn't anything like the lower panhandle of Alaska. Take care, I'm still posting, Maryann

Scenes from the Ship

From the top left is a cabin on the water in Peterburg, Ak. We were standing on the top deck of the ship and the occupants in the cabin were waving at us. Very friendly....
Now, look closely at the top right photo. You will see one of MANY Bald eagles we saw on our way. If you can blow this photo up you will see many other "white heads" of bald eagles in the other trees behind this one. Bald eagles are so common in Alaska that people stop looking at them. Not me, I am amazed by their beauty and their way of handling such harsh winters. We cruised by trees FULL of eagles and they were soaring everywhere, above us and in and out of large spruce forests. Incredible. As soon as I woke to my first eagle in flight yesterday, I felt immediately like I was home. I cannot explain it. I think I lived my last life here and now I just feel at home again. Weird huh?
Ok, the bottom left photo was taken in Ketchikan from the dock. Do you see the boats and cars sitting on top of the containers? We're so glad we never did this with the Chevelle. Greg would have seen this and killed over right there....ya think? Stay tuned, I'm still posting more, before I hit the bed.....we've been up since 4am. love you all and miss you, Maryann

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Captain's Log, Supplementary

Thanks to technology and the ability to receive a cell signal finally, we are streaming to you LIVE via cellphone with friend Tom, as our intermediate, from the Clarence Strait - just north of Ketchikan, Alaska. As we suspected, we have been out of cell range, with no wireless or computer access as well as no cookie bar. But the cafeteria has a cold case with some killer desserts and they're open 24 hours :) Besides the cafeteria, there is a dining room and the food is pretty good.

We wanted to update you on the travel. Everything has gone smoothly and pretty much like clockwork. We departed out of Bellingham, WA Friday night at about 6:15pm and from there we sailed non-stop until we reached Ketchikan this morning at 7:30am. We were given an hour and a half while they unloaded some of the vehicles that were staying in Ketchikan, while at the same time, they were bringing on new passengers that are continuing the trip forward. We spent that time letting the dogs out and taking them on land.

Let me just describe to you briefly the trip through our doggies' eyes: "We can't believe this, what are they doing to us!!! We've been stuck in these crates in the back of Mom's truck for over a 1000 miles now. And our lousy owners put us on this ... floating-whatever-it-is , still stuck in the back of Mom's truck, locked up in our damned crates. Our generous owners seem to come and visit us every 4 hours or so ... or is it, that they just want to come and look at us like we are some kind of circus freaks. Lucky us, they let us out of our crates for about 15 minutes and let us maneuver through the lines of parked cars and trucks, telling us the whole time 'go potty, go potty'. See if YOU can go potty under these conditions, potty my ass go potty. Is this our life? Have we been reduced to this kind of existence? Will we ever see 'normal life-as-we-knew-it'?"

You can easily see where any dog put in this condition would find it difficult to relieve him/herself, but there was finally salvation! The first patch of grass after unboarding the vessel became victim of the continual flow of our dogs' pent up frustration. They went and went and went!!! After holding it for 2 days, we were just as relieved as they were, so we found a patch of grass and went and went and went ;)

The sights have been spectacular! We have never seen so many islands of nothing but forests and snowcapped peaks. It is just spectacular beyond words. We have sailed through narrows as wide as football fields. It's just been breathtaking!

This morning at 5am, I rolled over to see a cruise ship passing us on the water, in fact, as I tell this, I'm looking off in front of us in the distance, and I can see another large ship, perhaps a cruise vessel approaching us. Since we didn't have cabins onboard, we were fortunate enough to shack up on the top deck of the ship in the solarium. Covered on 2 sides and the top with glass windows, the front of the solarium opens up to a deck where people have been able to pitch tents and we are able to overlook the ocean behind us. We have the laydown chaise lounges (with our sleeping bags) in the solarium itself where we have our little camp set up. There are about maybe 20 other people amongst us with the same type of setup. The neat thing is that everybody has kind of gotten to know each other the past 2 days and it's kind of like a little commune. In fact, just like the hippies, you go to bed at night sleeping next to one person, and wake up the next morning sleeping next to another. According to where the heat lamps are, how cold it is, and which way the wind is blowing into the solarium and in the case of occasional rain, people shift their little lounge chairs around the solarium. Thus, you never know who you're going to wake up next to!!! ;) Oh yeah, that cruise ship that I saw coming, it's actually another ferry passing us right now. Right now it's sunny, not too cold, ominous-looking clouds in the distance and a very light breeze.

We have 2 more stops today for about an hour each (of which the doggies can't wait for) and then we arrive in Juno early in the morning at about 6am. At that point, we will probably be able to get some kind of wireless or DSL at our motel we will be staying at that night (Monday, June 11th). Then, we will further update you. And we might have a couple of nice pictures too.

So signing off for now from the inside passage, somewhere in the panhandle of Alaska, we thank Tom and Bea for their overwhelming patience and support for allowing us to be able to transmit this to you LIVE via cellphone lost at sea!!!

Take care, our love to all.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Not as good as the cookie bar. But.

Finally a chance to unwind. As you may have guessed, the past week has been one of chores, work and no rest. But. Tonight was my first chance to check out my new toy. Maryann and John gave me an early birthday gift last week. An ipod! Which anyone who knows me knows I am not too much into the techie scene. But this is cool. I can tune everyone out, enjoy my favorite music which anyone who knows me knows I love music....nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile...

: = ] Maryann and John struggled to get some music downloaded for me before we left the other night, in fact most of it was done with CDs we brought for the trip in the truck, while we were at my folks' house. Beings that when the ipod arrived at our place, everything was pretty much already packed. Kudos to them and their heartfelt effort. They wanted me to have some tunes for the journey! Now the righteous thing about this Best Western Motel here in Bellingham, is that they not only have wireless....but DSL and....a workout room! That by no means replaces the lack of a cookie bar, but it will have to do. So tonight I strapped on my ipod, and accompanied by my beautiful wife, went to the workout room, mounted a stationary bike and rode to my hearts delight with some 'Phish' to guide me the way. What have I been missing all these years?! Feel great now, am wiped out....but still rockin...and ready to engage in a deep restful sleep tonight. Also, I feel no more guilt for that Chinese buffet we had across the street for dinner tonight. Or the soft serve ice cream I had for dessert.....yeah! So that is the latest from Alaska or bust' central. Maryann and I are gonna walk over to Fred Meyers now to get some snackage for the boat. So sleep tight out there and if you haven't got an ipod yet....go get one....these things are kinda cool! Good night.

Recon Rangers

John, myself, Cherokee and Kenai just returned from a recon mission to map out the clearest route from our motel to the ferry terminal, and the actual terminal to figure out where we have to be tomorrow. Let me tell you; they say that this 'ferry event' occurs weekly and goes like clockwork and is impressive to observe how they go about the procedure. There is an intimidating thing about it all though. Why ,you load your life into 3 vehicles and attempt to transport it 2000 miles across the ocean, then you ask why! ;) It will go smooth, but thoughts and prayers will be nice. So here I have put in some photos of today's events. Due to a technical anomolly, we will go backwards; Fourth is the separating of the flotilla this morning as we returned the Chevelles transport. No tandem riding from here. One vehicle for each driver. The third one is the actual loading dock. Keep in mind that there is going to be a large ship at the receiving end of this thing, and think of Maryann and how grateful she is that she wont have to navigate the 'U Drive death trap' up this thing.....think of me and the unspoken bodily functions that I may well be experiencing! Second but maybe not last is the doggies following the return from our little recon mission. The first is the same, but none the less a cute blooper. I'm not sneezing...I am being slapped by Kenai's ears as she shakes off.....too cute. We will do our best to keep things rolling here, but as Maryann said, if you don't hear from us for a couple days.....the ship didn't sink! Stay tuned. One last thing. Conitha....we will miss you too. You have been like one of our own kids, and we have all enjoyed the times with you also. The road trip to Disneyland was the best for us all, and we are so glad you were a part of it. Thank you for being a part of our family. You are always welcomed in our home and we will see you again. Thank you also for the baked survival sack you gave us before we left. I am currently coming down off a sugar high from some cookies I had before the recon run! We love you.

30mph,burningbrakes,getting the finger and smiling

Good Afternoon from Beautiful Bellingham, Washington..... We're here, actually we pulled in finally at 6:30pm last night. Although we had a problem, we both thought the other had made a reservation for a hotel and mapped out the area (Bellingham), NOT! We were so busy moving our life that we overlooked, reserving a room, finding out where Uhaul was to return the car trailer and the location of where the ferry left the dock. Ddduuuuuhhhh! Not to mention we had just driven from Mt. Angel. Oregon (Salem area) up to Bellingham,Wa (a few hours) getting dirty looks, the finger and so on from angry drivers along the route. Why, we don't know. Maybe because of the behemoth or it and the trailer, or because they thought we were moving into their state. Who knows it just happened to get Greg into a Piss poor mood (understandably so) bouncing around without airride, falling asleep due to the bouncing and so on. Seattle traffic has gotten worse, when I last lived there it was bad but WOW it's worse than Bay Area traffic. We couldn't wait to get out of there. So, we are finally at our final destination before we load onto the ferry friday. Wish us luck on that one! :0) We've been walking Cherokee and Kenai alot, trying to get in as much exercise as possible before the long ride in the crates. They've gotten lots of treats due to the fact that they're not eating food as much.
To recap the itinerary, we load the moving truck, Tahoe and Chevelle onto the ferry Friday and touchdown in Juneau on Sunday or Monday (I can't remember), we stay one night in Juneau and Greg will be reloading the cars back on the Cross Gulf Ferry to Whittier, Ak. Greg will be flying out of Juneau to Anchorage and then onto Kenai to stay the night, do the final walk thru on the house and be in Whittier that night (his 40th birthday). We will be arriving in Whittier on the 14th a.m. We will meet up with him when the ferry arrives the following morning. We will be so happy when that day comes, not only to reunite with Greg but to finally be on Alaskan soil and go HOME. Being homeless and freeloading at friends and families homes (as a good friend told us it's called) for 14 days is hard on you. I JUST WANT TO NEST......
I never would have thought that just the drive alone would be hard. We arrived to the Siskyous (largest pass we had to climb) Sunday late afternoon to rain and a maximum speed of 30mph (with me trailing with the dogs, hazard lights blinking, sucking leather (you will have to check the last blog for the meaning of this expression). But we made it over and through the other passes fine. It rained and was cold most of the ride through Washington and is still overcast and cold. It's going to be great.
So to recap, we are not sure what the wireless connection will be like on the ferry, so if you do not see any blogs for awhile it means there was no connection. And I will write again once I'm in Juneau. Take care and send your positive thoughts our way, they are working..... We miss ALL of you and hope that your all doing great......
P.S We would like to thank Don and Judy for a wonderful dinner and a drink at the local Mt. Angel saloon to toast a new life, big adventure and future endeavors-thanks guys it was fun.

Scott and Kristy and Kids-for a great day watching the Glockenspiel in Mt. Angels townsquare (wow it sure has grown and looks terrific.) Our lunch together felt like old times at Pauls, thanks again. We always have such a wonderful time with you, thanks again for the bed, we DID sleep well....

To Paul, We are so happy you decided to stay in Oregon, seeing you was wonderful. May Jerry always be with you.... ;0)

And to Aunt Sarahsmiles-it was so wonderful seeing you, I'm glad we stopped. We will talk to you soon.

Monday, June 4, 2007

At least I'm enjoyin the ride

Well guess what....Greg didn't endure the "bumpity bump", we didn't make it as far as Mt Angel, and in fact are holed up in a motel as I write! And, yes, that prosthesis I mentioned in an earlier post may well be a reality!! Oh what a day man. We started at 7:30 this morning and only made it as far as Roseburg Oregon. It was 7:00PM, we were all tired as all get go, I was famished, and just didn't see the sense in continuing further. So we checked in to a really nice Best Western that serves a hot breakfast in the morning, has 2 of those little complimentary bottles of water, and the best thing in the whole world....they have a 'cookie bar' from 8:00-9:00PM with fresh Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, and milk, tea or coffee. Right on! My kind of motel. So the tentative plan is to head out relatively early in the morning and continue on to Mt Angel. Now, truth be known, it's not like we didn't know that the trip would be longer than what would usually be in an ordinary vehicle because we did. But the "U Drive death trap" was slower, and more unstable than we could possibly have anticipated. Oh I overcame and tamed the beast....quite effectively I might add. But none the less it was a long arduous drive today. We will have to be a little more generous in our time planning from here on out. The ferry thing.... I don't know. Basically we were told that "what they don't know wont hurt them" by the ferry rep today. He felt it wouldn't pose a problem since the truck will be in a commercial truck bay on the ferry, and that they don't walk out with a tape measure to check the length. So maybe we will just be there like way early to be the first loaded....let the late guy get bumped for less 2 feet! I don't know. I am, I know it will all work out. Hey, we haven't come this far to be knocked off for just 2 foot 3 inches. Stay tuned to that little technicality. We did manage to get a room that takes dogs, so our doggies are here with us and pretty darned stoked about it all! Well, I have a half an hour before the cookie bar closes so I gotta get going. They even have free wireless here. Is that cool or what. A cookie bar and wireless.... We will keep everyone informed. I guess the highlight of the day was when I got the moving truck on 2 wheels going around an off ramp today. Maryann and John were quite impressed.....although I was clueless of the whole thing until they told me about it at lunch. Just another one of those things about the death trap that is very, very disfunctional. NO STABILITY! Good night, and our love to all.

Remove the Bumper......!?!?! WHAT!

Good Morning. Well after a long needed few days of rest and such an eventful move we are on our way. Next stop Mt. Angel, Oregon to stay with family. Keep your fingers crossed that Greg can endure the bumpity bump bump down the road. :0) Because if he can't we will be stopping at the nearest hotel.
Now, if ever we needed some positive thoughts and prayers, this is the time. Greg happened to be getting out of the moving truck yesterday and noticed that the specs on the truck said that it was 34 ft long. After, racing in to check our ferry reservations, it said we have scheduled a 32 ft truck. After calling the reservation line, the cust. service agent said we would have to remove a bumper......WHAT! Is she serious. According to the ferry lines this ferry's been booked now for a month, they can't fabricate 2 feet to accomodate us. Isn't it just like Alaska to ask you to remove a bumper, and you wonder why we want to live there. :) So, Greg has a call to do on the road this morning at 7:30 am (that should be somewhere north of Sacramento). Send all of your good thoughts that we fit (didn't we just deal with an issue of, "Will it fit?" ) on the ferry and know before we get there.
Take care and we will keep you informed on the journey. Thanks Carol for your positive thoughts, we need you to send more. :0)
Greg, Maryann, John, Cherokee and Kenai

Saturday, June 2, 2007

...the mate was a mighty sailing man, the skipper brave and sure....

.....five pasengers set sail that day on a 12 day tour. A 12 day tour.
Now, look closely, you may see Greg and John standing between the SHIP and the Chevelle, can you see the scale of it all?

Alright, we're staying at our friends home a few blocks from our home now owned by the Hulmes' (we wish you many happy memories with your family, friends and your dogs). :0)Thank you again for everything. Stay in touch we'd love to know how your doing and we'll do the same.

Leaving the cabin today was the hardest thing to do besides putting up the for sale signs. But we're looking at it as just one more step toward our future. No looking back, right? So as of early tomorrow morning we will be hitting the road and see where we end up. Spontaneity is great right? It makes life more exciting knowing we may be sleeping in a bed or in the truck, who knows. So today was spent sleeping, (because after the 2 days we've had believe me we've needed it) reorganizing the Chevelle, (it's packed too) reorganizing the Tahoe and the front seat of the moving truck. Our kayaks didn't fit in the truck so they are now on top of the Tahoe which shouldn't be a problem with the ferry company. (A fact of possible interest; the yellow kayak was formally owned by no other than Olivia Newton joke, I am serious.) Although I will be calling tomorrow anyway just to be sure. John requested to drive the Chevelle again after seeing the Tahoe completely packed to the hilt and kayaks on top, John said, "I don't want to look like a RedNeck." I laughed of course and shook my head. Oh no, your not driving the Chevelle. You see, Greg doesn't allow anyone to drive the Chevelle. I've driven it maybe twice so believe me I have first dibs. :0)

Greg and I drove down to Subway tonight to retrieve dinner and one of the ropes on top holding down the kayaks starting banging on top of the truck and I was sure John and I would have to endure Chinese Mind Torture the distance to Bellingham, Wa. But my wonderful husband came through and it looks like we will not have to endure the torture. :)

I have uploaded a picture of the Behemoth Size Moving Truck (thank god we're not driving through Canada and the Yukon-we'd really be supporting OPEC.) When I first saw the thing I was shocked they manufactured something so gargantuan. It reminds me of what Alaskans call "Landships" which are RV's, you know, the really BIG ones. Watching Greg maneuver the truck out into busy Stockton traffic was another miracle in itself. Thank you Ted for teaching Greg how to drive such a SHIP! I would have never moved. :) I have realized there will be no 75 mph speed on this trip, I will be the one behind the SHIP driving a maximum speed of 45mph (complete freeway hazard) with my hazard lights on. I will be sucking leather (this is when your other cheeks suck the leather of your car seats) . Do you understand? Yeah, that will be me and John will be watching his dvd or listening to his Ipod, not having a care in the world. Oh god please have mercy on us we're 3 crazy nuts moving to Alaska with our two dogs in tow. But, we're no longer packing, stacking or throwing out, YEE HAW!!!!!

Oh, by the way, to all of you that called because you heard about our dilemma with not fitting all of our possessions on the truck (your all so sweet), we're doing much better today and I am sure it will soon be behind us. Just picture my house being really MINIMAL, you know, when you can roller skate through out the house, yeah that will be mine. And like a friend said recently, "you will have plenty of time to fill it." Yes, you were right, thanks for reminding me of that. ;0)

Friday, June 1, 2007

And the results are.....

Actually after 2 days of aching suspense, we will let you know when we arrive on the 14th. Good thing is we will be long gone so we wont have to put up with grief we would otherwise get for the ensuing cliffhanger! Nah, I'll tell you. It was wild man! I think we all wanted to believe in our minds and hearts that everything would comfortably fit. But that was not to be, as the 'good fit fairy' refused to grant us safe passage to the land of 'good fit'. Don and Teresa beared witness to the quandary and ensuing rant to a very unstable situation. Everything went just fine from start at 7:30AM until around 3:00PM or so. Then the ball fell....hard. We all realized at that point that things just weren't gonna make it. We tried, oh we tried, but it just wouldn't all fit. Fortunately, we did have a working contingency plan in our heads in the event of such a situation. After feeling a painful defeat and kicking ourselves for a half an hour, our clan re-grouped and put our contingency into action. Although it went further than any of us could have imagined. We decided to leave behind 2 large pieces of furniture (that of the least importance obviously) out in order to fit many smaller and more important items. Ouch baby...that hurts! The problem was that these 2 sacrifices lie buried 12 feet back into the packed bowels of the cargo hold. Yep, we had to unload back 12 feet. : ( Good thing is as a rule of thumb it is always easier to unload than to load. We did re-pack and in fact fit alot more in, that we really wanted. Overall we did have to make some individual decisions on items that just couldn't go, even with our new found space. Ultimately my long time com padre and hero, Paul, loaded his truck with giveaways, yard sale items of which we will eventually prosper from, and stuff long not used and meant to degrade in the county landfill. And a few things in my garage that I really would have liked to take that I knew going in probably wouldn't fit, lost the battle. Phil, those smaller cabinets work great with casters for rolling units! ; ) We have to really extend acknowledgement and gratitude to Paul and Scott (and when school let out later in the day, my awesome son John) for all the patience, muscle and thought process that was involved in this task. Couldn't have done it without you guys. Well after 2 long days, and it has taken 2 with a few more hours to wind it up, we are bushed. Thank you so, so much Scott and Phyllis for giving us your cabin to crash in. We know you would have rather been here this weekend, and cant tell you enough how nice it is to have this for a couple days of much needed R/R. We will hit it tommorrow at 8:30AM to clean it and wrap it up. Have a great Saturday and think of us...we are finally finishing phase 2 of our journey home. We sign off tired, but happy and satisfied with all we accomplished. Oh, we did mange to find time today to sign the final docs for the log home and are good to go there. Thanks to Fed Ex... right on Lou... our docs are on their way back to Alaska awaiting my arrival on June 13th. Good night to all....and to all a good night!