|Ever since we moved to Alaska, we have stayed in touch with friends and family through email. We've put together this web site to journal our letters and put pictures to our stories. We enjoy hearing from everybody, so stay in touch!|
Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Michael and I had a fabulous time. Santa treated us especially well this year. We spent Christmas Eve over at my friend Wendy's house watching movies and pretty much grazing on food all day. Then we slept in on Christmas morning (I know, how crazy is that?), then I made a big breakfast and opened presents. Santa (a.k.a. Mikey) sure spoiled me.....among my presents was a Ruger 10/22 Rifle with a scope on the way....fun, huh? Santa brought Michael a totally cool new stereo for his truck. Then we went over to my friend Teresa's house for a huge Christmas dinner. On the way home, we stopped at this guy's house and took pictures of his 16 foot snowman that he made...don't ask me how...but it was in the newspaper and apparently made national news. http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/7307843p-7219533c.html
I worked through the New Year weekend. Last night Michael and I went to go see an Alaska Aces hockey game...unfortunately they got their butts whipped....but it was still lots of fun. Work's going pretty good...the holiday weekend has been pretty slow....except we keep having kids show up in the ICU from running into stationary objects (like trees and telephone poles) with their new sleds they got for Christmas....
As for Michael's work....the "AGR" (Active Guard Reservist) position that we have been waiting months for was finally posted. Now he needs to go through the interview process and whatnot....we'll keep you posted on that topic.
I just had my one year follow-up x-rays for my back. My surgeon took a whole slew of x-rays to see how I am doing. All three bone grafts seem to have taken well...and the bolts and rods seem to still be in place. I do have one "weak" spot in my spine still...but it's not something that he is too terribly worried about and is not something he would fix at the moment anyway. We discussed options for pain control if and when I become pregnant and didn't come up with a whole lot....hopefully I'll be able to grin and bear it when the time comes...
Let's see...what else....oh! I got my new license plates for my Subaru. Since my nickname at work is "Smiley Leah"...we were trying to think up something along that line. However....most of the options we were coming up with were already taken...until my brilliant friend, Wendy, came up with the winner.... SMILEA...get it? Smiley Leah all crammed together....I've had so many people come up to me at the hospital and say, "Is that your car?" Of course, I don't know if that is good or bad...but I sure do like my new license plate!
We decided one night that, for the heck of it, we were going to bathe the cats. They so did NOT like us for it...but it was sure entertaining. After they were dry, their hair was so fluffy and snuggly....but they were static-y as well, and unfortunately got zapped on the nose a few times. Good thing they were quick to forgive us for turning them into wet rats for a bit....as you can see, they are somewhat camera shy from their pictures...
Michael and I are going to take a little mini vacation (4 day weekend) around the third week of January. We are going to San Antonio for Michael's youngest brother's graduation from Air Force boot camp. And...while I am there I get to see my bestest friend, Lindsey!!! I am so excited to see her again...we both moved away from Cheyenne, WY around the same time and haven't seen her in about 2 1/2 years. I finally get to meet her little girl and see her hubby, Chris, again. Oh...and I get to see the Alamo and the Riverwalk, too!...scrapbooking opportunities...!!! (Michael's currently rolling his eyes...laughing...and telling me, "Of course, it is." hee hee hee).
I added some people to my address list....Mike and I also have a website if you want to go back and see all of our Alaskan adventures and past emails (but Mike hasn't updated it in a little while so bear with us). http://home.gci.net/~mikeandleahak
Guess that's about it for now...talk to you all soon!
Love ya lots...
Mike and Leah
How is everybody??? I know, I know....I kinda fell off the face of the earth there for a while...but I'm back!!! Things have been really crazy busy here...and I'm really longing for the time when I can say I'm going part-time....at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel...even if it's a very long tunnel....
Michael is doing really well...he just flew back in last night from a trip to Cape Cod. He was helping with their computer upgrade for their radar. Michael FINALLY had his (long awaited for) interview this past Thursday for the AGR (Active Guard Reservist) position (i.e. permanent position). Of course, we'll probably be waiting for awhile to see if he got the position or not. But, whenever that happens, we'll let you know... Michael just received the "CGO of the Year" award (Company Grade Officer)....which is the best of lieutenants and captains at Clear AFB for 2005...cool, huh?!
Michael wanted me to mention that the coldest that it has gotten up at Clear is a brisk negative 56 degrees. And you know what?...really weird things happen at negative 56 degrees...like plastic shatters at the slightest touch, you can throw a cup of boiling water into the air and it will land on the ground as ice, the enamel on your teeth can crack, and vehicles do not like to start AT ALL....but he said that only lasted a little more than a week, so "It wasn't all that bad"....I personally think he's just saying that so I'll still move up there.....
Well...let's see...since I haven't written in awhile...I have to backtrack and tell you all what we've been up to...
There were a bunch of us girls that got together and stayed in a couple of cabins up at Hatcher's Pass. My friend, Casey, was getting married so this was sort of her bachelorette party. We went snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and stayed up all night (haven't done that in a while), ate and ate and ate, played games, and gossiped.
Then Michael and I flew down to San Antonio for his youngest brother's (Kevin) graduation from Air Force boot camp. We all had a really nice visit with Kevin, his mom and dad, and Marlene and little baby Sydney. Remember me telling you all about how Sydney was born at 27 weeks? Well, she is doing very well! We went sight-seeing as much as we could...we took a boat trip along the Riverwalk, visited the Alamo, and went to the Ripley's Believe it or Not Wax Museum. We also got to stay with my friends, Lindsey and Chris, and see their little daughter for the first time, too!!! Hi Lindsey!!! :) And...Kevin graduated #1 out of 54 airmen in his first tech school...way to go Kev!!!
Oh, what else...work has been incredibly busy. Our pharmacy just underwent a huge remodel in another part of the hospital. We have this big, beautiful pharmacy now....but, I must say, with all the new equipment and computer systems, we are definitely going through some growing pains and lots of overtime...too bad I'm on salary and don't get paid for it!! Anyhoo, we have this big huge dispensing machine that twirls and whirls (I call it Pill-Zilla) and if you actually know how to work it, it's great, but if not, then it's a big huge pain in the butt....my expertise is somewhere in the middle...
And for some totally awesome news....dun dun dun dun dun DUN!!! (work with me here on the drum-roll)!!! My sister is getting MARRIED to a totally awesome guy named Tim. They've dated for years and have decided to tie the knot. I am so excited for them!! And....they've decided to get married in Cancun this coming June. So, Mike and I, my mom and dad, Noelle, Tim and the two kids, and Tim's dad are all hopping on a plane and going to Cancun...there may be others going as well.....I've been bugging Mike FOREVER to go on a big vacation, so we're staying some extra days down there!!! Woo hoo!!! I cannot wait to swim with the dolphins!!!!! This is the resort we'll be staying at....
Well, I suppose that just about brings us up to date...although I had a big Mexican Fiesta party at the house a couple weekends ago. About 15 people showed up to chow down on some Chicken Tortilla Soup, all different kinds of quesadillas, salsa, guacamole, and whatnot....
As for my arts and crafts stuff...haven't been scrapbooking much lately because I've been working on another ragtime quilt...I just finished sewing it all together, now I just need to snip all the edges and wash it....phew! However, scrapbooking camp is just around the corner!!!
Alrighty...guess that about does it!!! Talk to you all soon!!!
Love ya lots!
Leah and Michael
How's it going? Pretty good up here....Michael and I have been busy playing, working, and house hunting....
A couple of weekends ago I drove up to Clear to come see Michael. A number of us went up to Fairbanks to the Ice Festival...you may have heard about it....it's where people from all over the world come to carve ice sculptures. It was so cool...(literally, too!)...! There were hundreds of sculptures ranging in expertise...there was also a kids playground area with lots of monster sized ice slides (I think Mike and the guys were using the slides more than the kids, though). There were also these "baskets" of carved ice you could sit in that were set into a hollow in the ground where you could be spun around. What else...oh, there was this ice labyrinth/maze that you had to find your way out of...among lots of other things. See all the attached pictures... picture picture picture picture
Then, the next morning Mike and I went snow-machining for the first time...or "snow mobiling" for you lower-48 types. It was a total blast!!! The base has a great deal up here...you can rent snow-machines for 5 bucks an hour! We took a safety course first and then hit the trails!! There are hundreds of miles of trails up here that's used by the snow-machiners, cross country skiers, and four-wheelers. We went out all morning and covered about 40 miles or so. I think the fastest we got up to was about 25 miles an hour (which was enough for me.....I like to just putz around on them)....however, on my way home, I got to see what snow machines can really do....So, in-between Cantwell and Trappers Creek there is about 100 miles of snow-machining heaven. You would not believe the amount of people who come to this area and park their trucks, motor homes, and trailers stacked with snow toys in the rest stops on the sides of the road. They stay for the whole weekend...or more, I'm sure. I've seen bonfires ablazing in the middle of the asphalt where tons of people are camped out. Apparently there is also a snow plow that will come up and level off the snow on the sides of the road. As I was driving home.....I saw a number of snow-machines out having fun...zipping all over the place....so here I am, going down the road with my cruise control set at 65 miles an hour....and here comes a couple of guys (at least, I'm assuming they're guys...you never know with some of these Alaskan women, though!!)...that totally blew past me on the side of the road! They so left me in their (snowflake) dust!!!! It was pretty cool to see how gutsy these guys were...but I was also hoping that they would not wipe out and spat in the middle of the road, too....I have too many of them end up in my ER as it is.....
Well, winter is starting to break up here.....we'll still little dustings of snow....but I think it's probably on its way out. Things are getting mushy and the sides of the road are mostly slushy ice. Makes for all the cars to be dirty all the time, too...
Well, we have totally awesome news....Michael was offered his permanent position....which he accepted, of course. So now we are starting the house hunting process. I came up again this weekend to look at some places. We think we'll end up in a town called Healy. It's about 11 miles north of the Denali National Park entrance....and about 35 miles or so south of Clear AFS. Healy has about 1,500 people or so...but we've heard variations on this number. It does have a cute little restaurant, two gas stations, and a tiny little shoppette....am I dazzling you, yet, or what???!!! Hey, it's very cosmopolitan for this part of Alaska....! We looked at three places....two of which definitely are options...and one that is not even worth mentioning. But, the season is early...
Well, I suppose that about wraps up the latest and greatest up here with us...hope all is well....We love all your letters you send us!!! Keep 'em coming!!
Love ya lots....
Leah and Michael
Hope all is well with everyone!! Michael and I are fabulous!!! We have awesome news...we finally found our dream cabin in the woods!!! When we saw it on the listings for houses on the market, we could just feel that this was THE ONE! Michael went to see it first and took lots of pictures and then emailed them to me...it was love at first sight (I was so excited, I couldn't sleep forever)! I couldn't wait to get time off to go see it!! So anyhoo...here are the details....it has a Fairbanks address...even though it probably takes a good half hour or so to actually get into city. If you're going north on the Parks Highway (Hwy 3), you'll pass a little sign that says Old Nenana Highway to the left....don't blink cuz you'll miss it and you only get one shot! The Old Nenana Hwy is a paved road that you take for about 2-3 miles; there're a few dirt roads (nicely grated) off to the sides and when you see Old Ridge Trail, you follow that for about two miles. There are a few properties here and there...some with horse farms and whatnot...and then you come to a tree with xxxx on it...that's going to be us (we're under contract...waiting for the inspection and all the details and closing date is August 1st).
The house itself is over 2,000 square feet and is settled on 9 acres of the most beautiful land...paper birch and spruce trees everywhere! It was built ~1980 and the original owners took immaculate care of it. The owners are an older couple that have decided to follow their grown kids down to the lower 48. There is a huge sentimental attachment to the cabin and they are happy that the house is going to go to a couple who plan to start a family there. The lower level consists of an artic entry, living room, large kitchen (other pic of kitchen), pantry room, bathroom, laundry room, and office. The upstairs is four bedrooms...the master bedroom will fit our king size bed and all the other furniture and the other bedrooms will be a guest room (hint, hint...come visit), scrapbooking/sewing/hobby room, and future baby room. There are hardwood floors throughout the house except for the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and pantry...Michael and I went snooping yesterday at Home Depot and found the coolest stone tile that we want to replace the linoleum with. We also want to install a wood burning stove...oh, and a dishwasher...gotta have that....there's only so much "roughin' it" a gal can take...hee hee hee! A lot of people have said to me...it only has one bathroom?!?! And that is fine with me...because that means I only have to CLEAN one bathroom, however, there is a space upstairs that if we wanted to in the future, we could have one installed. There are windows everywhere in the house and the kitties are going to love sitting in them to watch the wildlife...that is, after we have to sedate them to get them up there in the car!! There is also a two door detached garage with a wood burning stove in it...definitely large enough for two vehicles, toys (i.e. ATV and snow machines), and Michael's workbench. And speaking of ATV...we'll have lots and lots of space to go play on it! The lady of the house is a huge gardener...she's planted tons of perennials around the house and there are also some flowering trees as well...I'm going to have to get with her sometime to find out what they are and how to care for them. There is also a fire pit in the yard as well...cool huh? Oh, and speaking of fires, since we are so "out there"...there is not a fire department to come to the rescue....I think if you called 911 and told them your house was burning down, you'd get a, "Well, sucks to be you...and time to start breaking out the 'bucket brigade'!" Unless you tell them there is a forest fire....hummm. There is also a little shed which I plan to use as my gardening shed...if Michael doesn't claim it first! I can't wait to garden and expand my "green thumb"...I could even put in a green house if I wanted to! On the side of the garage, the owners have a big thermometer that goes down to NEGATIVE 80!!! Which at first I thought was kinda funny that a thermometer would go down that far...but then I realized, up in that area you would actually need a thermometer that had that kind of capability!!! (Michael experienced a negative 56 this past winter). Big difference from Anchorage, however, up in the interior of Alaska it also gets warmer in the summers and I'll be able to garden longer! And, now that we'll be in the interior....I'll be able to see the Aurora Borealis all the time!!!! I am just so excited about that!!! After all this time in Alaska, I still have yet to see a true aurora...I've only seen soft green hazy bands...and since there will be no city lights around we'll have an unobstructed view of them. Michael went scouting around the property and he said there lots of signs of moose around the area, too (i.e. moose poop). We are on city electric, but the cell phones have absolutely no coverage...oh well. We expect to be very happy there...
This weekend we are in the process of "de-cluttering" the house down in Eagle River as well as removing all pictures and "personal" stuff to get the house ready to be put on the market. We rented a couple of storage units to place stuff in the meantime. We are meeting with a realtor tomorrow to see what else we need to do in this whole painful process.
Well, let's see what else....gosh I haven't written in so long, I need to back up a bit!! My birthday at the end of April was a total blast. All my friends took me out to dinner not once, but twice!! The second time we went to dinner was down in Girdwood (about an hour west of Anchorage as you're going to Seward). There is a famous restaurant there called the Double Muskey....it kind of an Alaskan/Cajun mix. The food was excellent...Michael, however, wanted to try something new and had alligator ribs (from Florida)...I tried a little nibble...and it actually wasn't too bad...was sorta chicken-y...but I mostly just tasted bar-b-que sauce. Michael got me an iPod with speakers and lots of new music CDs....I take it to work with me and listen to it there in the pharmacy...love it!
Kitty cats are doing good, although Ra had to have some surgery done not too long ago. He's fully recovered except the large patch of hair that the vet shaved off next to his shoulder is taking it's time growing back. The vet shaved the area to apply a Fentanyl patch for pain control...which, being a pharmacist, thought that was pretty cool (didn't know they did that!) and funny all at the same time. Boy, I'll tell ya......I think Ra is the most expensive cat in history...they sure don't do those surgeries for free!!
Work for both Michael and I is going great...but definitely busy. We've hired two new pharmacists but they won't start until July. But, we're losing four technicians this summer which is really going to stink. I'm still debating whether to go down to a 0.5 FTE (from a full-time FTE that I am now) or go to an "Active-Not Scheduled" position. If I go to a 0.5 FTE, I still get benefits and accrue vacation, and have guaranteed work hours, but don't have as much play with my schedule. If I go the other route, I don't get benefits (which is still ok, since I'll have Tricare), have lots of play with my schedule, but it's not guaranteed work it they were to hire someone since I would only be a relief pharmacist. Granted the likelihood of that happening is pretty slim, but still don't know if I want to take that chance. I could always temp myself out to lots of other places...and since I'll be close to Fairbanks, I'll have more opportunities to work. So, we'll see...gotta pay for those home improvement projects!!!
One of my buddies at work came across this funny article in a small newspaper called the "Press" that we have here in Anchorage. On the front cover it has a picture of "Anchorage Barbie" and "Fairbanks Barbie"...and here are the captions....Anchorage Barbie (showing a cutesy gal) "comes with Keetna the husky, cell phone, kayak, degree in Resources Management (Subaru with kayak roof-rack sold separately)." Fairbanks Barbie (showing a rag-tag gal) "comes with hat hair, fleece with real dog hair, bug dope, head lamp, shower bag, bulk ramen noodles, polypro long-johns, life-like leg hair (tiny cabin with outhouse sold separately)." My buddy, Matt, wanted to know which one I am...I told him that I must be somewhere in the middle...having the best parts from the two. I have the Subaru, cell phone (that won't have coverage), I upgraded to a large cabin, I'd have to substitute cat hair for the dog hair, and you know, long-johns and bug dope are a must here in Alaska....but I'll be minus the leg hair...
So, summer is finally here!!! It sure took its sweet time this year, but, that's just how it is up here. Last week, things were still brown and then BAM! This week everything is green, green, green. It's gotten up to 76 degrees and it sure feels nice outside....Alaska helicopters (i.e. mosquitoes) are in full-force too.
Well, I suppose that's it for now...we'll keep you posted on everything with the cabin and the move! Talk to you all later!!!
Love ya lots!!
Leah and Michael and the excited kitty cats (meow!)
Hope all is well...soooo, have a few more pictures to send to you all. It was like "Wild Kingdom" here at our house during the past day. Last night about midnight (mind you, it's still bright light outside), I was laying in bed reading a book. I had the window open and the curtains were open to let in the fresh air. I hear this rustling sound up on the hill in our backyard. I didn't have my glasses on but definitely saw three grizzly bears (a momma and her two cubs) walking up at the tree line which is about 20 feet or so from our bedroom window. I put on my glasses, flew out of bed, yelled to Mike to come have a look (who was watching TV) and we watched the bears make their way past....Mike went outside (hummmm) to see if there were any kids outside, since there were a bunch earlier playing baseball...but since it was midnight, no one was out. The bears were minding their own business (not scrounging around the houses) and headed back into the undeveloped forest so we didn't call anybody. It's not uncommon for bears here to wander in and out of the wilderness...
And then!!! This morning I heard something again outside in our backyard and wondering if the bears had come back. One of my cats was in the window and I didn't want it to become bear bait. So I snuck a peek outside....and there was a moose...right where the bears were last night. He/She (didn't have antlers so I couldn't be sure) was just munching on the vegetation and moseying along. I ran downstairs to get the camera and was able to get some great shots (camera shots, that is). Cool, huh?
So, that's the latest and greatest up here...we are waiting for a realtor to come to the home so I better finish up...talk to you all soon!
Leah and Michael
Hope all is well for you all...although it's been a very sad household up here for the past few days. My kitty, Ra, unexpectedly passed away this last Thursday. The vet said it looked like something to do with his heart. I'm having him cremated and the vet made a paw print for me as a keepsake. His sister, Pasht, seems to be handling this okay...although I think she may be responding more to me when I get all teary-eyed and is extra lovey-dovey. Michael and I will surely miss our little buddy...along with all of his funny antics like licking paper, laying across our papers on the table, super loud purring in our ear at 2 a.m., sneak attacks, just having to sit on our laps while we work at the computer, and most of all, his wonderful personality and snuggles....
Thank you to all who have sent me condolences...it is greatly appreciated...
We are working to get our house here in Eagle River on the market before we fly out to Cancun on the 19th. We had the inspection done on the house in Fairbanks...there are a few things that need to be done, but very minor issues. Things seem to be progressing smoothly so far...
Talk to you all soon...
Michael and Leah
How is everyone? Yes...Michael and I are fine...we've gotten lots of emails asking what we're up to and I finally got some time to sit down and write everything out...!! It's just been crazy busy lately ever since we got back from Cancun.
And speaking of Cancun...Michael and I had an absolute fabulous time!!! I guess I'll just start and go day by day of our trip...
Day 1 (Monday, June 19th):
We made sure the house was presentable since we had just put it on the market to sale. I was sooo hoping that it was going to sale while we would be gone since it would just make things a whole lot easier, but Michael told me that I was setting my hopes really high (but I still kept my fingers crossed). We dropped my kitty off with a lady who boards cats out of her home. She was super nice, but poor Pasht was soooo scared and I just felt so terrible leaving her there. The lady said she would be in touch with me every day via email to keep me updated on her. So, after making sure my kitty was situated, we were off to the airport. We left Anchorage at about 1 o'clock in the morning, flew to Salt Lake City and had a two hour layover, and after about 9 hours total of flying, we finally made it to Cancun. We found our van to take us to our hotel and off we went. By the way, the cab drivers down there seem to want to be in the Indy 500...and after a mind-boggling trip through the streets of Cancun, we made it to our hotel. I had to do a double take when I glanced at the speedometer because it said 110...but then I realized it was in kilometers. Our hotel was the Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa...it was very cool...when we checked in, we were told we were being upgraded to a tower room. Bonus! We think they over-booked...but, whatever, we'll take it! So, we found our room and unpacked and then tracked down Noelle and her kids (Brittany and Brian). We haven't seen each other in a number of years and it was sure great to get reacquainted...my 15 year old niece is way taller than I am! I'm such a munchkin! We decided to scope out the resort....it was huge! Five restaurants (Oceana, World Cafe, SeaSide Grill, Himitsu, and Paloma Bonita), numerous shopping boutiques, pools, lagoons, and giant chess set you could play in the courtyard, tennis courts, work out room, etc, etc, etc... Everything was all inclusive so you could eat to your hearts content...including room service 24-7. (It's been a while since we'd been pampered like that...and the people/staff were sooo nice). The five of us went to dinner and then walked on the beach afterwards while we were passing the time until mom and dad flew in...
Day 2 (Tuesday, June 20th):
Mom and Dad got into the hotel late the night before so Michael and I actually didn't see them until the morning. We were so pooped from the day before. We pretty much stayed at the hotel that day and scoped out the beach. We played on a water trampoline and an inflatable pyramid that you could climb on and then jump off into the water. They had a scuba shop on the beach that you could rent rafts and snorkeling gear and whatnot from. Brian and I went kayaking around the lagoon. We pretty much just soaked up the sunshine that day...later that night, there was a Mexican Fiesta that the resort put on (they put on different themed shows each night with food and dancers)...
Day 3 (Wednesday, June 21st):
We all met for breakfast early in the morning at 7a.m. and then drove to Playa del Carmen and then took a water ferry to Cozumel. Tim sent us all on this wonderful excursion to a place called Atlantis. We took a 45 minute submarine ride to see a beautiful reef. We went down 105 feet and saw turtles, fish (bright blue fish, grouper, and red snapper), sting rays, corral, and scuba divers! We really enjoyed ourselves there...thank you, Tim! :) From Atlantis, we took a taxi ride to a Mexican restaurant for lunch and had our fill of shrimp ceviche, lobster, fajitas, quesadillas, and chili rellanos. We still needed to walk a few blocks to the pier to get back on the ferry but still had some time to play...we shopped at some outdoor markets and since it was so toasty outside (big change from the 60 degree weather in Alaska) we stopped for some drinks and ice cream. We snoozed on the way back to Playa del Carmen on the water ferry...that heat can really drain you! When we got back to the hotel, Mom, Noelle, and I decided to take a trip to the Flea Market. I was so proud of myself...I actually haggled for lower prices! I bought a silver cross pendant and a mystic champagne topaz ring. Mom and Noelle did some shopping themselves as well...
Day 4 (Thursday, June 22nd):
We finally got to sleep in a bit and then we all met for breakfast. Michael and I wanted to go para-sailing and we snagged Brittany and Brian to go with us. Dad came out with us on the speed boat to enjoy the ride and take pictures. Michael and I went first. They strapped us into our harness seats and hooked us up to the parachute....they floored the boat...and liftoff!!! The ride was so gentle, but exhilarating, as we were being lifted up into the air!! And you just couldn't beat the scenery....perfectly crystal blue water everywhere! We kept seeing some dark circular objects moving in the water...we figured they were either turtles or sting rays. We found out when we got back on the boat (15 minute ride or so) that they all saw a huge turtle. We figured we would get dunked in the water on the way down when they reeled us back in, but they just brought us right down onto the back of the boat. We told Brittany to take her camera up with her since you don't get wet...hopefully she got some great pictures. Brittany and Brian had a blast as well. After that bit of fun was up, we headed back to shore...on the way, Brian's hat flew off into the water and we had to go fishing for it, but we got it recovered! As soon as we got back, we rented some wave runners. Michael, Brittany, and I each had our own and Brian hung on for dear life to the back of Michael...until he got dunked, and then he decided to go with me for a more sedate trip. Then we decided to go play in one of the pools at the resort. After that, we all cleaned up and met down in the lobby of the hotel to catch a taxi to the Interactive Aquarium in downtown Cancun. There were lots of different sealife exhibits to see and you could touch and feed sea turtles, nurse sharks, sting rays, star fish, and other littler critters. Then Michael, Brittany, and I went to go swim with the dolphins!!! There were six dolphins there (one was a cute baby), but we only swam with two of them. They took professional pictures of you "shaking flippers" and getting a kiss on the cheek. They turned out really well, I just don't have a scanner to copy the picture to show you all...sorry, you'll have to use your imagination to picture me with a big 'ole grin on my face getting a smooch from a dolphin...and for that matter, Michael, too! We learned all about them and you could touch/pet them as they came up to you...they just told you not to stick you fingers in their blowholes! They did all kinds of little tricks as well, like giving high fives, splashing water at us when we splashed at them, they would splash when you tickled their tummies, they would jump in the air and twirl around and wave good-bye. But the grand finale was when we laid down in the water and locked our legs and then a dolphin would come up behind you and push your feet with his nose and blast you across the pool...cool, huh? It was loads of fun! Then we went back to the hotel and we all got ready for dinner. We were going to the Japanese restaurant at the resort called Himitsu. We dined on spring rolls, lyches (some kind of fruit that tastes like a pear and something else, but I can't remember), curry chicken, some kind of noodle dish with shrimp, spring rolls, sushi, fried cheese and bananas and yummy coconut ice cream. We celebrated an early birthday for mom as well. And, since mom and dad were going to be leaving way early in the morning, we said our good-byes that night...
Day 5 (Friday, June 23rd):
Michael and I slept in while Noelle and Brian took another quick trip to the Flea Market and Brittany went to go finish painting her lizard pottery project. Everybody met up and finished getting them packed up to head for home. After we said some more good-byes, Michael and I went to lunch at the SeaSide Grill. It was an outdoor restaurant and if you weren't careful, a pigeon would take off with your food! We went back to our room, and took a very long, and much needed nap! Afterwards, we went to go find a tour guide to figure out what we wanted to do with ourselves for the next couple of days. After making reservations, we went to go see the hotel's nightly entertainment show...it was a Caribbean theme this time with lots of dancers.
Day 6 (Saturday, June 24th):
We got up to eat breakfast and then took a cab to Nautilus for our first ever scuba diving adventure. We went through a training course and then practiced scuba diving in a swimming pool for a while. After we felt confident with all our equipment, how to breathe, float, and whatnot, we all got on a boat that took us out to a reef. We were to do two dives, each about 40 minutes long, in water that ranged from 25 to 35 feet or so. We split into two groups of four people plus instructors. We dove with another couple from Pennsylvania. Our group had a really good dive...it took a while for my ears to adjust to the pressure and I was just basically getting used to this new experience. Michael took to it great and did wonderful. One of the instructors was videotaping us and then the other would take pictures with his underwater camera. We saw lots of fish and beautiful coral and people who were on Submarine Bob (it's this really cool underwater scooter type of thing that has a bubble over your head...we were going to do this, but decided to go scuba diving instead). Towards the end of our first dive, our instructor motioned for us to head to the surface and when we got there, there was another boat waiting for us. He said there had been an accident with the other group of four people and that one of the guys had to be taken quickly to shore and then the hospital. They were pretty vague about it and kept apologizing and said they would refund our money since we couldn't do the second dive. When we got to shore, there were lots of police around and they wouldn't let any of us go back to the original boat and I knew something really bad had happened. They took the other three divers away to talk to them and basically told us to find a cab/bus back to the hotel. Soooo...after the bus driver told us to get off at the opposite end of town that we were supposed to be and then taking a cab back to the hotel, we ran into two of the girls that had been in the other group. We didn't know we were all from the same hotel. We stopped to ask how their friend was and they told us that something happened underwater and he couldn't breathe, they brought him to the surface and did CPR, but couldn't revive him and he died. It was all so shocking. We asked if there was anything we could help with but they said they all had family there...come to find out they were with the wedding party that Michael and I were watching from our balcony of our room the evening before. The guy that died was the groom's brother. There were about 50 people or so from Las Vegas that had come out for this wedding. It was just so sad...we don't really know what all happened. Michael and I think that maybe he aspirated underwater and panicked...after doing it, I can see all the different things that could happen. Before we had left to go scuba diving, Michael checked our email and our realtor said that we had a great offer on our house and that she would be sending us all the paperwork. We spent the rest of the day on the computer and doing international faxes back to the US...I wonder how expensive it was to send 22 pages...on second thought, I don't want to know...
Day 7 (Sunday, June 25th):
In the early afternoon, we took a van out to Selvatica which is halfway between Playa del Carmen and Cancun. We were going zip-lining!!! It was soooo fun...this is what I had the most fun on during this whole trip. Zip-lining is where there is a line from one tree to another tree really far away with platforms built around this to land on. You're strapped into a harness and then secured to the line and then you're sent off zipping across this line above the rainforest canopy. It was such a hoot! You get an instruction course at the beginning to figure out what to do. The first time I went out, I kept wondering what in the heck made me want to do this in the first place, but then it was a heck of a lot of fun! There were about 11 or 12 lines in all. There were a number of guys (staff) that went out with all of us...there would always be a guide before and after you, and they would help to lift you and secure you to the line. I felt pretty safe through the whole thing...but those guys were all a pack of monkeys. You could tell they've been doing this for a long time....they would go upside down and in circles and just have a lot of fun, but always safe. Some of the staff would go zip-lining with us with cameras and take pictures of us...they were called the paparazzi. Oh!! And there were butterflies EVERYWHERE!!! No mosquitoes, just butterflies and dragonflies...so cool! I highly recommend this!!! Then when we got back to base camp, we went on about a 2 mile bike ride to a natural sink hole (called a cenote) to go swimming. The water was so refreshing after playing so hard! They had a modified zip-line rigged up over the sink hole that you could hang onto and then let go and splash in the water. There were lots of belly flops that happened too. It was all just very fun swimming and goofing off with the others. Michael said there were fish in there, but I have no idea how they would have gotten in there...maybe by a hurricane??? I don't know. After biking back, we were cooked a wonderful Mexican lunch of beans and rice, and chicken with peppers and onions...yumm...one of the best meals I had while in Mexico. Then we were taken back to our hotel, and we started packing up for our trip home then next day...so sad...! We went out to dinner and then took a walk on the pier and watched the sunset...
Day 8 (Monday, June 26th):
Well, we got up early the next morning and finished packing. We still had time to play with before we were to leave to the airport....soooo....we decided to go para-sailing again...since we liked it so much the first time! Since we knew we weren't going to get wet, I took the digital camera up with us into the air, and Michael took the video recorder. If you see in the pictures, the scenic shot of the coastline, our hotel is on the far left (pyramid with two towers). Then we came back and took off to the airport. Our trip home was pretty uneventful...
Overall, we had a total blast. I sure will miss all the excitement and new things to do...being pampered...having turndown service every night with chocolates left on our pillows...and all the fine, white sand. Our hotel was really beautiful...but as we went around town, you could see all the damage from the hurricane last summer. Some of the employees that we talked to at the scuba shop said that every single window was blown out of the hotel as well as all the doors. They also said all the furniture had to be replaced since it was all ruined. They sure did a nice job with the reconstruction, you would have never known anything happened at the place we stayed it. However, some of the other hotels are still just shells basically with no windows, with the outside surfaces looking pock-marked, almost like bombs had went off. I definitely have my work cut out for me with scrapbooking...I took sooo many pictures!
My kitty, Pasht, slowly adjusted to being in the kennel, and she was sure happy to see me when I picked her up the next day. Her personality has changed somewhat since Ra died...she's much more vocal, meowing all the time, and is more loveable as well. She's taken to sleeping on my pillow again like she did when Ra and she were kittens.
We close on our house here in Eagle River on the 20th of this month, then close on our new place on the 1st of August. I'll be in limbo for about a week and a half since I'm still working full-time, so Pasht and I are going to chill out at a hotel for a while until we make the final move. I'm so glad this is a military move and I don't have to do any packing! Phew! The movers come on the 17th, 18th and 19th and I have everything organized in my house for them to box the stuff up...well, for the most part...
Hope you all had a good Forth of July....I worked the whole weekend and the holiday...but hey, time and a half and all that. Apparently there was a fireworks show somewhere around Anchorage...but I didn't feel like staying up till 1 in the morning for it to actually get dark enough to see them...
Well, guess that about does it...talk to you all soon! I'll try to send out another email sometime with some more Cancun pics...but my toosh is sore after sitting here for about 4 hours and I gotta work in the morning....hee hee hee....!
Love you all!!!
Leah and Michael
Well, the movers are coming tomorrow so we are taking the computer apart tonight...I'll be in touch when I can. I'll be staying in a hotel till the end of the month until we close on our house in Fairbanks. My cell phone is 907-xxx-xxxx in case any of you need to reach me....
Our mailing address is as follows....
Michael and Leah Scadden
Our physical address is obviously something else, but the house is all pulled apart and can't find my piece of paper with the address on it...
Hope all is well!! Talk to you all soon!!!
Love ya lots!
Leah and Michael
Sorry we dropped of the face of the earth for a while. We're finally getting somewhat situated in our new home and we really like it. So here's our vital stats
Mailing address - in other words send stuff here...
****Removed for internet privacy****
We've hooked up the phone service: 907-xxx-xxxx. Unfortunately, the cells don't have coverage in our neighborhood.
meanwhile, we've established a dialup internet connection. It runs about 26.4Kbps, so we're looking at satellite internet. However, if we have a line of sight to "Ester Dome" then we might get a microwave link to a tower...more useful and cheaper. Gotta get on the roof to see over the trees to find out.
Still living out of boxes - slowly making progress there. As soon as we get a good internet connection, we'll whip out a big email with pictures.
Michael & Leah
Just wanted to say hi and let you all know that we are doing great. We've been extremely busy. Sometimes I feel like I am only visiting my new house instead of living there. I've still been working a ton down in Anchorage. It takes me six and a half hours to drive down then work a string of shifts and then drive back. I've been down there more than up in Fairbanks. Mike's been super busy with work as well. But, when we are home together we've been fixing up the house. Pretty much all the boxes are gone and stuff is in it's place, but still no pictures on the walls. We are going to put in tile in the entryway, kitchen, and pantry....one of the many to-do's on our list. Friends are wanting to come up for the weekends as well...so I'm trying to get all the curtains sewn and whatnot.
Well, sorry for the short note...Michael and I are on our way to Fairbanks to do some shopping. I'm headed down to Anchorage tomorrow to work for the next week so I'll be in touch!
Leah and Michael
Hope all is well...Michael and I are super busy but we are doing great. Sorry we haven't written in a while but we still have dial-up and it's very painful!!! However...good news...we are getting satellite internet at the end of this week...woo hoo!!! Then I'll be able to send out pictures again.
The house is coming along. We bought all the tile that we are going to install plus the soapstone woodburning stove. I'm still making curtains (I have a lot more windows!!). And pictures are still not on the wall...but, whatever.
We had our first snow a few days ago....took us kind of by surprise...I wasn't expecting snow for at least another three weeks or so. It was only a couple of inches, but it's taking its sweet time melting. I was glad that I had spent a lot of time outside last week raking the leaves and whatnot. Today I finished winterizing all the gardens around the house. Ooooohhh!!! It was sooo exciting...so after being in Alaska for three some odd years, I had yet to experience the truly glorious Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis....well, Mike went outside late a few nights ago to go get something in the garage and then came back in to tell me to come outside. There were these huge neon green ribbons flowing across the sky right above our house. Some had a red edge to them as well. I stayed outside for a long time just watching the sky...it was all so peaceful, exhilarating, and weird at the same time. We are really in the middle of nowhere out here with no city lights, so it gets pitch black outside...all the better to star gaze and see the lights!!! I wish my camera could take a picture of it so you all could see how truly wonderful it is...sorry!!!
Soooo, we've had a really bizarre occurrence here at the house....well, I guess I should say three (and almost four) occurrences. Mike met me down in Anchorage last weekend and when we got home on Sunday, two of our windows were broken. Below each window was a pile of glass and a dead grouse (they're like a wild chicken). Luckily, only the outside of the double paned window was broken so my kitty couldn't get out. Then, a few days ago, we were sleeping in and then heard a crash downstairs and then my kitty scampering off. We thought she got into something, but after we went investigating, there was nothing that looked to be wrong. So...after I made breakfast, we sat down at the table to eat, looked up and then noticed that another window was broken with another dead grouse. Then today....I went into Fairbanks to do some shopping, came home, and there was another dead grouse by the front door, but no broken window...phew!!! Michael and I have been thinking that this has been kinda funny....but it's beginning to be an expensive kind of funny!!! After the one we found a few days ago...Michael decided to go do some target shooting....he went and bagged four grouse and he made a grouse stew with potatoes and carrots for dinner...and I must admit....it was not too shabby!!! He can feel free to cook anytime....and he can feel free to kill all the grouse he can see!!! It's almost creepy....kinda reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds".....run for you lives!!!!
I'm heading down to Anchorage Tuesday morning to work another string of shifts and then will be returning on Monday. All the holiday bazaars are starting so Wendy and I are going to do some Christmas shopping, too. Talk to you all soon!!!
Leah and Michael
Hope things are well...Michael and I are doing great. We had some friends of ours (Matt and Wendy, who I stay with when I work down in Anchorage) come up this past Friday and stay for the weekend. They drove up on Friday, I made a big dinner with dessert and then we went and picked Mike up at the airport. He was flying back from his elk hunting trip down in Colorado with his dad and brother and some other friends. And, by the way, he did totally awesome...he shot two elk (cows) and brought some back frozen in his backpack.
After sleeping in on Saturday, we made a huge breakfast and then did a hike around the property....(because I still didn't have a clue what 9 acres actually looks like). Then we went into Fairbanks and did some shopping. Came back home, watched a movie, and then started a fire out in the firepit in the front yard. It had started to snow, but that didn't deter us!!! So, after the fire cooked down, we made some grilled sandwiches in some sandwich makers over the fire. Then we, of course, roasted marshmallows over the fire....all while it was snowing. It was just at 30 degrees, so we just bundled up and had fun. We were really hoping the Northern Lights would be out, but no such luck...but the stars were really beautiful to look at when there wasn't cloud cover. And speaking of stars!!! I now know what I want for Christmas!!! A telescope!!! Hee hee hee...(hope Michael gets the not to subtle hint)....
So, after sleeping in the next day and another big breakfast, Matt and Wendy left to drive back down to Anchorage...which is what I am getting ready to do in the next few minutes...I'll drive back on Saturday. Oh! But!!! As I was making the bed upstairs and looking out my window....I saw a red fox....with a big bushy tail and white tip out in the front yard...didn't stick around too long so, sorry, no picture! But it sure was pretty...!
I'm heading down on Friday to go to Scrapbooking Camp for the weekend before I start work for the week...can't wait!
Anyhoo...talk to you all soon!
Love ya lots!
Hope all is well. Michael and I are doing fine. Just sending a short note before I'm off to bed. Things are going pretty good here although I still feel like I'm ping-ponging between here and Anchorage. I guess that's probably because I am! Our new wood burning stove is going to be installed on the 21st...and I can't wait! It's been about negative 30 degrees here..burrrr!!!! It's almost painful to go outside! But you sure can't beat the view. It's looks like a winter wonderland around our house with all the frost and snow in the trees. There are numerous animal tracks all around the house...definitely moose tracks and some that look like a bunny....and who knows what else.
I'm working down in Anchorage the week of Thanksgiving and Mike is driving down for dinner to celebrate at Wendy's house....then we'll drive back up on Friday.
Scrapbooking camp was a total blast as usual...I got 58 pages scrapbooked which included all of Mike's nieces...now I'm not so far behind!
Well, guess that's about it for now...talk to you soon!
Hope all is well. Things are pretty good up here. Yesterday it was about 15 degrees here at the house, but -1 degrees by the time I went into town in Fairbanks. We're having a heat wave!!! We haven't had snow in at least a couple of weeks...and of course, the day that I am supposed to drive down to Anchorage (today) we are supposed to have snow...figures, huh?
We got our soapstone woodburning stove installed...and boy, does that thing cook! I just think it looks so cute and totally makes the look in the living room just right. And does my kitty love it, too! Her new favorite place is to lay on the tiles in the back of stove next to the wall. There's only a foot of space, but she just snuggles right down in there. I've been afraid that she's going to spontaneously combust...but nothing has happened yet....
Christmas shopping is almost done...well, at least for all the kids and girls...why are the guys soooooo hard to buy for???? I'm getting ready to just get 'em all gift cards to Sportsman's Warehouse and call it good.....argh!!! (Yes, I'm talking to you, Michael, Kevin, and Brian!!!! :)
Anyhoo, I'm off to Anchorage for about two weeks of working and then I'll have about three weeks off. Michael and I are going down to Colorado to see his family for Christmas (20th-25th)...I think those are the dates...then Mike will fly home on Christmas and I'll fly to Texas for a few days as well....I can't wait! Just have to find someone willing and able to come and check on the kitty out here in the sticks!!!
Well, guess that's about it! Talk to you all soon!
Hope all is well...things are okay here, but the weather in Colorado has put a damper on our Christmas plans. Because of all the snow that fell in Denver, the airport closed and all our plane reservations were cancelled. So, unfortunately, we were not able to make it down there for Christmas. Michael was supposed to fly back to Alaska on Christmas and I was to go to El Paso...luckily, we were able to get me the last seat on the last airplane that could get me to Colorado in time to catch my flight to El Paso...I'll leave the evening of the 24th to do that...oh well, guess there's not much you can do with the weather.
Of course, we see all this snow falling everywhere but HERE!!! Hello?!?! That's why we moved to Alaska....where's our snow????!!! It is definitely chilly though...you know it's cold up here when you start getting frost and ice buildup on the INSIDE of your house all along the windows and the bottoms of the doors. When it warms up a bit, we have to go around and mop up all the window sills. I finally just bought a new coat...the one I had while I was in Colorado was just not cutting it anymore up here in Fairbanks. Down filled coats are soooo much more warm and snuggly!!!
So, with our unexpected days off here at the house...we are just relaxing and Michael is working on his honey-do list. :) We've hung up some new birdfeeders for the little chickadees around as well. Yesterday was the winter solstice...so we will finally be getting some more light. I can definitely tell a difference between the amount of light here in Fairbanks and down in Anchorage. The sun just floats above the horizon for about 4 hours a day from about 11am to about 3pm...I can't even tell you the last time I actually saw the sun truly shine.
Oh...for those of you who want to track Santa...check out the website below. NORAD tracks Santa and Michael said we have extra credibility since we are so close to the "North Pole" and since he works for a NORAD sensor, too. There is a little town called North Pole just north of Fairbanks...it's decorated for Christmas all year round and the street names are called Santa Clause Lane, Blitzen Drive, Donner Drive, and Kris Kringle Drive. All the businesses are lighted up and the steet posts are painted like candy canes. There's a store there called the Santa Clause House that has all the Christmassy stuff you could ever think of.
We took a few pics of the house and whatnot....
Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas...eats lots of yummy stuff and drink tons of egg nog!
Love ya lots!
Leah and Michael