|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 all is well. Mike and I are busy, but otherwise doing great. Still busy with work down in Anchorage...the hospital is short a number of pharmacists and are wanting me to pick up more shifts...we'll see how it goes....
People have emailed me and said they've seen the outside of the house...what about the inside??? So, see the attached pictures...it's rustic, but we love it!
It's been snowing a lot more up here...and getting colder. This afternoon was a negative 35.7 degrees. Mike called from work this morning at Clear AFB and it was a negative 50 down there. Even driving around with my heater/defroster going full blast on max heat, I'll still get frost on the inside of my windows. Oh, also sending a picture of the frost build up on the bottom of our back door...it looks just like the front door and the windows. We get our internet via satellite and it wasn't working when we drove to the house on Friday night because of the snow that was covering the dish. So, Mike asked me if I had any ideas of how to get the snow off the dish seeing how climbing up on a ladder and then onto the roof was not really a safe option. First, he tried throwing snowballs at the dish...but the snow up here in Alaska is just too powdery and they just disintegrated on their way through the air. Then, I recalled that I had a sling-shot buried somewhere in the garage. So, after hunting it down, Michael started pinging the satellite dish to get the snow off....and yeah, if you can imagine it, it really was that funny. Michael would like to add that he was "lightly" pinging the satellite dish. So, our internet did start to work afterwards for the evening. When we got home, I also saw that one or our big trees in the front yard was bowed all the way to the ground with snow accumulation so while Mike was perfecting his aim with the sling-shot, I was shaking all the branches to get the snow off of them. Then the next day, the internet wasn't working again, and the solution was to cut down two trees that bowed into the line of sight of the satellite. So, after Mr. Lumberjack buzzed down a couple of trees, and started to clean up outside, he was ushered back into the house by a moose and her calf that decided that freshly downed trees were their new supper. We wanted to go into Fairbanks that evening for dinner...but the moose were in the direct path to my car. Mike was going to fire his handgun into the ground to scare them away, but I was afraid they were never come back and I wouldn't be able to tell you all future stories on Mrs. Bullwinkle...so I stuck my head out the door and said, "Here moosey, moosey, moosey!" and that did the trick. Then they went and laid down in the snow on the other side of my car giving us enough room to get in. Just gotta laugh about it all! Michael would like to add that nothing he did or said prior had any effect.
So, my kitty, Pashy, has just been scratching and licking herself for the past 7 months or so with no known cause. It started right after Ra died so the vets that I've been to were wondering if it was something behavioral since there was no other known cause. Of course, I think her scratching bothered me more than it did her...so the last thing to try was allergy testing. And, of course, that was a big huge ordeal because you have to send the blood sample all the way to Seattle and blah, blah, blah...nevermind the fact that she had to be put under anesthesia just to get 10 milliliters of blood!!!). Anyhoo...the vet was sure that this would be a waste of money for me but I was determined to find the cause!!! And, dun dun dun dun...dun DUN!!!! I was right, he was wrong...she came back with allergies to CHICKEN, lamb, pork, catfish, corn, milk, rice, some weeds (goldenrod, plantain, and yellow dock...whatever the heck those are), the mold aspergillus, and oak, cottonwood, willow, and pine trees. So, there's not much I can do with the environmental allergies...unless I wanted to do desensitization shots for her and get my arm chewed off (and I don't even know how she acquired these since she's a strictly indoor cat). So, I've focused on the food...she's mainly allergic to chicken...and did you know that like 99.99999999 percent of the cat food out there have chicken in them???...let's just say that the stuff that I have brought home for her to try has gotten me a big 'ol evil eye in return. Although, I did just find an all turkey with no poultry bi-products dry food in it that she will actually eat and not spit out. Yeah!!!! I've gotten really good at reading all the labels on the wet food as well...if anyone has any suggestions, comments, etc...please let me know...
Oh yeah...everything I send to Uncle Brett in the mail gets returned to me...did he move? Can someone send me his new mailing address???
Well, I suppose that's about it for now...talk to you all soon!!!
Love ya lots!
Leah and Michael
Hope all is well. Things are good here on the homefront. We just celebrated Michael's 32nd birthday on the 10th. Usually, I have the hardest time coming up with something for his birthday, but he gave me a big 'ole hint this year. He wanted the new Nintendo Wii game system...and I'm not much on video games, but I must admit, this one is pretty darn cool. It's sort of like a virtual reality game. The remote controller has accelerometers that detect your motion and make the character make the same motion. For instance, if you swing the remote like a sword, the character swings a sword in the same way. You can also bowl, play tennis, play a round of golf, baseball, and you get the idea. Very cool...Michael and I had a whole lotta laughs dorking around with it. And, I might add, I scored more home runs in baseball than Michael...although Michael had a better bowling game. They're coming out with a gazillion games...and I'm sure now that we have this, I'll never get Mike to finish my honey-do list!!! :)
Michael and I woke up to an earthquake a few mornings ago. It registered at 5.11 and was 30 miles away and 9 miles deep. It rolled through the house, but not a single nick-nack hit the floor. It freaked the cat out more than anything and that was what actually woke us up. Our log house is built like a fort so it's going to take a lot more than that!!! (Hope we just didn't jinx ourselves!!!)
Well, Michael has some awesome news. After a grueling interview and examination of his records, he was picked up for Major. He's not sure when the new promotion will become effective, but it should be soon. Can't wait to have a big party this summer to celebrate!!!
Well, I've had the past 12 days off...and boy, did they zoom by! I was a scrapbooking fiend for the most part...although, I'm not caught up...but what scrapbooker ever is??? I drive down tomorrow on Tuesday. I'll be in Anchorage for the next 23 days and will only have 3 of those days off of work...argh! I just keep telling myself...,"New countertops...new countertops!"...it's my new mantra. I'll be house sitting for my friends, Matt and Wendy, while they're in Arizona and hanging out with their puppy and kitty.
So anyways, we just ran across a satellite map of our home and neighborhood. It's called wikimapia. For the tech-savvy types it's a combination between wikipedia and google maps. For the rest of us, that means nothing. Anyways, if you click on the link, it shows a very impressive satellite map of our home and our neighborhood (xxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx). As you can see, not a lot of crowding neighbors...just the way we like it! So here's the link http://www.wikimapia.org/xxxxxxx/. You can even leave comments! The internet is just too cool.
Well, guess that's it for now...talk to you all soon!
Love ya lots!
Leah and Michael
The nearby town of Anderson Alaska undertook a venture to improve it's population and economics a few years ago by clearing and plotting land in it's "Northern Lights subdivision". This was about the time the Alaska Air National Guard was to take over the mission at nearby Clear Air Force Station. Previously an unaccompanied remote assignment for the military, Clear had little to do with Anderson outside of the fact most of the permanent contractors lived in Anderson. The active-duty military came to Clear without family for a year and lived in the dorms on base. With the Air National Guard taking over the mission, Clear was to become a military station with families in the local area. Great for the very nearby town of Anderson, right? Sorta, but not so much. This was during the recent construction boom and let me tell you. You could not get a contractor to leave Fairbanks for less than tens of thousands more than the home would be worth once completed. How are you going to expect your average sergeant to shell out tens of thousands $ to buy the plot of land, build, and then owe the mortgage company more than the market value of the home? So as the active duty departed and the Air National Guard families arrived, they found homes in the other more populous "nearby" communities (Healy, Nenana, Fairbanks). So there is Anderson, which shelled out a significant sum to survey these lots and run power/phone to them, but nothing to show. At $10,000/lot (~1.3 acres) plus the immediate $ loss upon building, nobody chose to build there.
It's true that any publicity is good publicity. The town decided to give the land away to any buyer willing to build a permanent home there. With a softening construction market (and therefore building costs), suddenly the "free land" opportunity is the opening page of Yahoo.com and the second most emailed story on CNN.com. The day the office opened to take applications, there was practically fever pitch among non-Alaskans who wanted to live in little ole Anderson. They "sold" all the lots in the first hours -- something they haven't been able to do for years. In the long run, the town gets more from giving the land away than selling it.
I read these world-wide stories and I know the people mentioned - Mike Pearson, David Noll, the Frisbie family, and others. Even one of my best friends, Eric, was pictured in the more local newspaper, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
I've heard before that you should invest in land, because they aren't making any more of it - it may be true! Interior Alaska isn't for very many people, but it's definitely the place for some!
Hey everybody! How's it going? Pretty good here, still busy. I've been hearing from everyone in the lower 48 how the gardens are doing and all that, and it is currently negative 13 here at the moment. Guess I'll have to wait to put in the gardens still and find my greenhouse!
I can't believe March is almost over, I remember thinking it was going to feel like forever for me working that month down in Anchorage, but the time really flew...guess I'm glad that it did instead of dragging along! My summer is already booked it seems, but there's going to be so much fun stuff happening! One of Mike's brothers (Brian) is getting married at the beginning of June down in California. Mom and Dad are going to make their first trip up to Alaska at the end of June...I'm sooooo excited!!! I'm trying to put a plan together for them...I think we are going to take a 9 1/2 hour cruise out of Seward to see lots of wildlife and glaciers. Mom wants to see whales and dad wants to go clam digging. Then after a tour around Anchorage we'll head up to the house in Fairbanks. I'm sure we'll end up at Denali National Park to see bears and moose as well. Then there's a Riverboat tour down the Nenana River that I've always wanted to go on. I'm hoping I'll have a good garden by then so dad can help me out in it...and see what big veggies we can grow up here in Alaska!!! Then, in the middle of July, two of my really good friends, Paul and Emily, are getting married to each other...they're both pharmacists down at Providence hospital where I work. Cousin Suzi and her kids want to make a trip up as well sometime this summer...woo hoo!
But, before everybody starts showing up to the house, there are so many home improvement projects that need to be completed!!! We just special ordered our new vanity for the bathroom...and we still need to find someone to put in a new shower/bathtub (as well as demolishing the blue tile on the walls...I'll be glad to see it go!) Still need to finish all the floor tile. My new kitchen countertops will be ordered this coming Thursday. Everything will hopefully just fall into place. We want to put in a new walkway up to the front door (something rustic and matches the house) and a back patio to put the grill on and whatnot, but I'm not sure we'll be able to get to that this summer...we'll see.
Well, I've been home a week and it has totally flown by!!! As we speak Michael is packing my car so I can head back down to Anchorage for another two weeks. But then I'm off for about 11 days or so! I did some more scrapbooking and of course, vegged out. At the end of my two weeks in Anchorage, Michael is going to come down and then we are going to go see "STOMP" with Wendy...I can't wait! I've always wanted to see them!
I've seen four moose in the past week...two babies and two mommas. I told them that they had to make an appearance when all the visitors show up!
Well, I suppose that's it for now...talk to you all soon! Love ya lots!
Leah and Michael
How are you? Michael and I are doing great, but just busy, busy, busy! I went to scrapbooking camp last weekend, worked this past week, work next week through Sunday, fly out to Mexico Sunday night (spur of the moment trip), go home for three days, fly out to California for Brian's wedding for a week, come back home for a few days, work for a week, mom and dad fly in for 10 days, work for a week, and then...I think I have a week off where I think I'll be able to breathe a bit! I am so excited for everything going on this summer though!
My friend Wendy got us both a "Day at the Spa" for my birthday. So on Sunday we got professional massages and pedicures! I've never had a professional massage, and I loved it! And then I get a pedicure just in time to make my toes look cute before I go to Mexico!!
And speaking of Mexico...! One of my best buddies, Paula, has a friend that won a time share week down in Mexico and asked if I wanted to go. So, I was off and just needed a plane ticket...so why not???!!! It's going to be four of us girls going and we have our trip all planned out. We are going on a Coba & Tulum Adventure Tour to see the archaeological Mayan ruins. Then we are going to go snorkeling in Contoy Island. And then we are going on a Jungle Crossing where we start out in 4x4 all-terrain vehicles, go through the jungle, end up at the fresh waters of an underground river system and go snorkeling. Then we go sea kayaking out to a reef and go snorkeling again! I can't wait to scope out the resort we're staying in...the website looks pretty darn cool.
Coba & Tulum Adventure Tour
I've booked the Wildlife Cruise that my mom and dad are going on with Mike and me. After talking with mom, we decided to go on a smaller boat that only holds 22 people. It's called the Captain's Choice Tour...and basically the captain will go wherever the people tell him to. It's a 9 hour tour...get breakfast and lunch...and hopefully we'll get to see some fin whales, humpbacks, orcas, otters, sea lions, eagles, puffins, jellyfish, bears, mountain goats, calving glaciers, and beautiful scenery. Should be lots of fun and hopefully mom will get to see some whales!
Hopefully, between bouncing back and forth all over the place I'll be able to get the guy to house to install my kitchen countertops that are ready. Dad, hopefully we'll have the green house all put together by the time you get up there. If not, guess you and me get to play around in the dirt! We planted three different blueberry bushes, three different raspberry bushes, a red currant and a black currant bush. Guess we'll see which ones survive the moose, the weather, and which have the sweetest berries.
Michael has a couple of his friends at the house to finish installing the tile floors in the kitchen and through the back of the house, putting in my dishwasher, as well as putting in a new bathtub, new backsplash, vanity, and all the other stuff. I'm kind of freaking out not being there myself to watch the whole process...and I'm sure I would hover and probably be in the way. Michael said it's probably a good thing that I'm not there...he can handle everything...and I can be anal retentive from afar.
Other than that...it's finally turning warmer here in Alaska. Pretty much all the snow has melted and buds just started forming on the trees and bushes about two weeks ago. I'm sad I won't get to see most of the transformation of all our plants and trees at the house because I'll be gone so much. I told Mike he had to take pictures and email them to me. He thinks I'm weird.
Well anyhoo, guess that's the latest gossip from my end of the planet. Hope all is well. I enjoy reading all the emails from everybody...keep 'em coming! Talk to you all soon!
Love ya lots!
Leah...and Mikey, too!
Well, Mom and Dad have been in Alaska since the evening of the 18th (Monday). They seem to be enjoying themselves. On Tuesday, we kind of putzed around Anchorage...took a historical trolley ride around town while we waited for Michael to make it down from Fairbanks. I took them to the hospital and played show-and-tell. They met a bunch of my friends and showed them what I do at work as a hospital pharmacist...and took them on a tour of our totally cool Children's Hospital where I spend a lot of my time. Then later on we went out for sushi with a bunch of my friends.
On Wednesday morning, we woke up really early and drove 2+ hours down to Seward to go on a wildlife/glacier boat cruise. We got to see major humpback whale action....there were two swimming together and they'd both jump out of the water, do their twirls and splash back into the water. Mom was happy. We also saw sea lions, dolphins, harbor seals, otters, puffins, bald eagles, lots of other birds, and the glaciers calving off into the ocean. It was a long day out in the water, but I think mom got to see what she wanted to. Then when we got back to shore, we headed for a seafood restaurant...dad got to eat his clams and oysters and mom had her crab legs.
Thursday, we made the 6 hour drive up to my house. We took a pit-stop in Talkeetna and had lunch. It's a really cute little town...I'm going to have to go back through there sometime. And, mom and dad got to experience something else! A forest fire somewhere between Talkeetna and Trapper Creek...definitely smelled the smoke and visibility was pretty poor.
The next morning, mom and dad and I went to the grocery store...they wanted to check out the goods. Dad was amazed by how expensive things were up here. But, we loaded up on food and have been cooking ever since....my new dishwasher is working like a champ!!! We've had salmon, halibut, French onion soup...dad wants to go buy some king crab legs...he said their claws were as big as his fist and just has to try them out.
Mom and I have been working on puzzles...one of our favorite pastimes. Dad's walked along the property...looking for forest critters. We also went to a nursery and bought flowers and made up two hanging flower pots to hang outside.
Mom got so excited...she saw a moose walk right past my kitchen window at about 6 in the morning or so. He stayed for a bit...but, he was eye-balling my blueberry bushes, and then decided to take pity on me and go eat a tree instead.
Today we are going on a historical Riverboat cruise down the Nenana River...we'll also get to see some sled dog teams and whatnot. Then tomorrow we are going to hop on the Alaska Railroad and take the train down to Denali National Park for the day and then head back up. Don't have anything planned for Wednesday yet...except to eat crab legs.
Well, that's about it for now...we'll keep you posted!!!
Love ya lots!
Leah, Michael, Frank, and Mary :)
Hope all is well. Michael and I are doing pretty good! We've just both been so busy lately....I feel like my summer is flying by.
Mom and Dad enjoyed their trip up here to Alaska and it was so much fun to have visitors at the house! I'm sending a few pictures of their visit....some of the animals we saw on the boat tour, watching the glaciers calve, the riverboat we went on...that kind of thing. Mom said she wanted to come and "summer" up here every year to get away from the El Paso heat...and I said, "Woo hoo!!!! Come on up!!" :)
Mike and I have been doing lots of yard work. We have a fire pit in the front yard but all the grass had grown around the rocks so you couldn't see it very well. So, I cleaned that all up. I have lots of flowers that have bloomed that I have so enjoyed watching...Alaskan fireweed, wild purple irises, lilac trees, crabapple trees, wild roses, purple delphiniums, and lots of other things that are sure pretty but I have no idea what they are. The flower baskets that mom and I planted are really filling out, too. We didn't plant anything in the flower boxes in the front of the house because we are going to rebuild the planter boxes...the wood is really old and is rotting. But, even though the bushes are still pretty small...we have gotten our first blueberries and raspberries!
Mike needed to saw a lot of the trees he had cut down into firewood for the winter....and from the picture I sent you can see that I did my part in helping out with the cause...he he he! And, Mike needed to clean the house gutters...I got sprayed a number of times by Mike being down on the ground...stinker! The temperatures have been in the 80s here and it feels so nice. We finally broke out our hammock and put it in the front yard. There's been a few occasions (okay, a lot) where I just park myself out there in the sun and read a good book. A few days ago I was laying out there and heard a moose making it's way through the trees. I just silently watched him as he munched on my trees about 20 feet away from me. It was pretty cool (although, probably not one of my brightest moments...I'm sure if that moose wanted to, he could have booted me right out of my hammock like a sling shot!)...great visual, huh?
Well, now that it is July, we are getting into our rainy season...everything is growing like crazy and is realy lush and green. I'm on my way to Anchorage early so I can help out for my friends' (Emily and Paul) wedding this weekend. When I get back, I am going to go on a fishing/camping/boating trip with my friends Lesley and Brian and a few others down the Yukon River. I haven't been north of Fairbanks yet, so I'm excited to see what the area is like. Should be lots of fun. Well, I suppose that's about it for now! Talk to you all soon!
Love ya lots!
Leah and Michael
Hope all is well...Mike and I are doing great. I know...it's been too long since I've last emailed...but I do have lots of news and whatnot to talk about. Wow! Where do I start???!!!
Well, let's see...my friends Emily and Paul got married in the middle of July. Their wedding was absolutely beautiful and everything went off without a hitch. For those of you that know them, I've attached a picture of them (don't you just love her dress??).
Work is...well, work! Not much has changed, although I will be fully vested at the hospital in September!!!! Woo hoo!!! I think I am on the schedule through the middle of October, and then after that I will not be going down so regularly. Guess it's time to start job hunting up in Fairbanks. Which is fine...I think I'm ready for a change. Argh...guess that means I have to spiff up my resume...
My trip up to the Yukon was tons of fun! I went with four of my friends...Brian, Leslie, Sharon, and Chris. We left from the hospital after work and then drove up to my place to stay overnight. Then drove another 3-4 hours up to Circle, Alaska (i.e. middle of nowhere). On the way there, we saw fields and fields of fireweed...it looked like whole mountain sides were purpley-red from these flowers. We launched Brian's boat and went upstream about 70 miles or so up by the Charlie River. We camped on an island (less chance of meeting up with a bear), pitched our tents, ate lots of food, roasted marshmallows over the campfire, battled rain and wind storms in the afternoons, played Pictionary and other games, and fished in the evenings till midnight...the sunsets were amazing...even if they were in the middle of the night! We caught lots of Northern Pike and sheefish. I caught the fewest fish (i.e. two)...but I did catch the biggest pike!! :) It was even bigger than the one Mike caught a long time ago and had mounted...(I'm not bragging...just stating the truth...he he he!). On one of the days, the sun was shining and it was hot...so, Brian strung a rope with a lifejacket attached to the end of it at the end of the island we were camping on. Then, Brian, being the guinea pig, walked all the way to the other end of the island (it was pretty big), put on a life jacket, got in the water and rode the current all the way down. It wasn't a very fast moving current...so don't panic!!! Then he caught the rope he had strung out in the water and pulled himself in. So, after Leslie and I saw it was (relatively) safe...we put on our life jackets and off we went. After we eased ourselves into the water, and the numbing effect kicked in (Brian's fish finder/depth finder in his boat said the water was 68 degrees), we were good to go. It was actually a nice, soothing ride in the water once you got used to it!!! We liked it so much, we did it again...too bad though that by the time we walked all the way up the island, we were pretty much dry and then had to get used to the water all over again...burr....!
Well, let's see...I've also attached a picture Michael took up at the house. He was watching a moose in our backyard and was getting pretty worried the moose was going to walk right through our window (because yes, that's been known to happen - but not to us yet). My kitty, Pasht, was so excited, and was meowing away, too. Michael said he wasn't quick enough to get a picture of Pasht on one side of the window and the moose LICKING the window on the other side. But, he did get quite the close-up of the moose. He called me and said he had to go clean moose slobber off the window...he he he...!
Oh...I've also attached a great picture of a black bear that my friend Sarah and I saw on the side of the road down by her place in Girdwood. Cute, huh? Don't you just want to snuggle with it?? :)
Mike and I took a short trip down to Monument, Colorado to visit his folks. We also saw his brother Kevin who was on a short leave from the Air Force and his other brother Brian with his new wife, Vanessa. We also made an overnight trip up to Fort Collins to see his sister Michele and her family. While I was there, I was able to take an evening and drive up to Denver and meet up with one of my good buddies from pharmacy school, Dennis. We hadn't seen each other in about 8 years and caught up on our lives and whatnot over dinner at the Macaroni Grill...yumm....thanks again for dinner, Dennis!!! :) Mike and I also went fishing with his dad while we were there...I got totally skunked...I think every fish I caught got itself off my hook, except for a puny little trout that was half the size of the others that Mike and his dad caught....oh well, guess it was good for Mikey's fishing ego...I did catch a bigger pike! :) (big eyeroll from Mike)
And dun dun dun dun dun DUN!!! Our latest and greatest news is Michael and I just bought a boat! It's a Phantom SportJon river jet boat. Michael is so excited he just quivers when he talks about this thing. It's definitely going to be a ton of fun when we get it...which won't be until around the beginning of next year. We are having it built and customized to what we want on it, but just as long as we have it before the rivers thaw from the wintertime, all will be good. I don't see us getting around to much yard work next summer. It's 200 horsepower of boat that is just perfect for fishing and hunting...and you can even go water skiing from it (although I just plan on having it pull me in a big 'ol innertube). Mike already has plans to take it to Valdez to go winter king salmon trolling. When the ice melts we are going to explore the rivers of interior Alaska (Nenana, Tanana, Yukon, Chena, etc). We are going to catch monster pike at the nearby Minto Flats. We're also going to cruise down the Copper River and dipnet for Sockeye salmon...yummm...tasty!
The day we went in to buy the boat, the owner of the company (Craig Compeau) had just returned from his moose hunting trip in Tok. He took us out for a "test drive". The boat corners like a champ and can brake from full speed in about 1 boat length (HOLD ON!). I've included a link to a funny commercial Craig runs up here in Fairbanks.
Guess that's about it for now...talk to you all soon!
Love you lots!
Leah and Mike
Hope all is well...Mike and I are doing great. Sorry I haven't written in...forever...but, life's been busy! Well, let's see...what have we been up to...
Michael went on a hunting trip to Colorado in October with his dad, brother, the regular hunting buddies, and his friend Eric that works at the base with him. Between them they got three elk. They were hunting in northwest Colorado near a town called Yampa. So when Mike flew back from Colorado, he was going to catch a taxi home since it was cheaper than parking at the airport for a week and a half. After finally getting a taxi, he heads home. It had been snowing and we live on a seldom used road. This taxi gets to our street and informed Mike that he wasn't going any further because he didn't want to get stuck. So it's midnight and this guy dumps Mike off 2 and a half miles from home with all this luggage and gear. There was at least some degree of justice. The taxi driver failed to inform Mike that he was strictly cash-only. So Mike ended up stiffing the guy $11 short of the total fare. What kind of business operates in cash only these days and doesn't let people know?!? Anyways, so there's Mike standing on this dark lonely road in the snow with 100 pounds of luggage and gear. (Are the bears hibernating yet?) He was left to hike through the cold and snow the rest of the way home. So Mike stashes most of the gear in some bushes and proceeds to hike home. After getting home, Mike went to go pick up his stuff and the truck's battery was dead!!! ARGH! So let's try the ATV - nope it was so cold that after several cranks, the battery died. AARRGGGHHHHHHH!!! Anyways, after a few hours of putting the charger on the truck, he was able to retrieve his gear before the sun came up and people would be able to see it. It's always such a trek when trying to travel in these parts! He he! Anyone got any recipes for elk? I am going to try it in meatloaf later on today...
I took a quick jaunt down to Texas to see mom, dad, David, Jenn and the kids. I flew out of Anchorage after work and ended up getting into El Paso at about 3 in the morning...at about 7 the same morning, I was back up to take about an 8 hour roadtrip to May, Texas for a family reunion on my mom's side. It was great to see all my aunts and uncles again, as well as my cousin Chris (who I hadn't seen since I was 14)! We all stayed at my Aunt Roni's and Uncle Butch's home...they have a great farm house on a few acres of land...with three horses, two goats, a donkey, two dogs, and two cats...did I miss any??? We got to visit, show pictures, and eat lots of great Texas bar-b-que!!! We were also able to see "The Traveling Wall" with all the names from those who died in Vietnam. After coming back to El Paso, Jenn and I just couldn't restrain ourselves and we went...shopping!!! I know, big surprise there...
As soon as I came back from Texas, Michael had a military ball that we attended. Doesn't he look sharp??? We had a good time and I finally met a number of the people that Mike works with. Seeing how I haven't really been around for the past year or so, I think some of the guys at the base thought I was a figment of Mike's imagination. But, alas...I do exist!!!
Last weekend I went down to Anchorage for another scrapbooking camp...they're so much fun! I think once I start meeting people up here and find some fellow scrapbookers, I may become a Creative Memories consultant and start my own camps up here in Fairbanks. My sister-in-law, Jennifer, wants to come up for a camp sometime...and we figured we could go to camp, and then David and Mike could go out on the boat and fish, or do whatever else guys do when the wives aren't around...!
Well, I'm no longer on the schedule at Providence Hospital...it still feels a little strange not to be driving back and forth all the time. Although, I may work for them the first week in December when a lot of the pharmacists are going to the ASHP meeting (big yearly pharmacy convention thingy). I sure do miss everybody down in Anchorage though...I still don't know a single soul up here in Fairbanks, but I'm sure that will change. Mike has a three day weekend because of Veteran's Day...wow!!! What a concept...I get to actually spend three whole days with my hubby! We've been spending our time working our way down the "honey do list" and getting things done with the house. Next weekend is our 7th wedding anniversary...I think we may go out to Chena Hot Springs or something....who knows? Maybe he'll surprise me...! (That's his hint). :)
It's currently about 3 degrees outside...burrrrr!...and we have about a good six inch snow covering. The wood burning stove has been cranking out the heat...which my kitty loves...she likes to lay behind the stove against the wall...I'm always afraid she is going to spontaneously combust. I've been putting a lot of birdseed out for the chickadees outside, which keeps my kitty entertained as well. Life is good...
Well, guess that's about it for now...talk to you all soon!
Leah and Michael
Hope all is well with everyone...Mike and I are just dandy! In fact, Michael totally surprised the heck out of me this past Friday for our 7th wedding anniversary. I had mentioned a while ago that I wanted to go to Chena Hot Springs but then didn't hear anything more about it. He said he was kidnapping me for the whole weekend to go to Chena Hot Springs. I was so excited! I figured if we went it would just be for the day, but he booked us for the weekend. Chena Hot Springs is about 60 miles from Fairbanks and it was lightly snowing throughout the weekend so it just made everything look like it was a winter wonderland. We checked into the hotel and then went for an early dinner at the lodge so we could hit the springs later on. They have an indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi that is fed by the hot springs and I think they said the temperature stays about 100 degrees in the pool. Then you can go outside to their Rock Lake and swim, too...oh yeah, it was about 5 degrees outside...that water felt so toasty warm! In the "cooler" part of the Rock Lake the temperature is about 110 degrees, but on the other side of the lake it was pretty hot, and they said that with the thermometers they have, the temp doesn't register. (Hummm, not sure how I feel about that). After a while sitting in that water, you want to walk outside in the cold air! Oh, and the water is just crystal clear...and the sulfur smell isn't too bad either. They even had some ducks swimming around in one of the smaller ponds.
The resort is open year round with lots of other activities that you can choose from...depending on the season...cross country skiing, ice skating, dog sled rides, river raft rides, kayaking, ATV tours, horse drawn sleigh rides, mountain biking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, flight seeing tours, hiking, horse back riding, massages, etc. In December through March, they have an Aurora Viewing Site at the lodge...and if you want them to, the front desk will call your room to notify you if the Northern Lights are making an appearance during the night. They even have huge greenhouses that they grow tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, peppers, cucumbers, and other stuff...they are working towards becoming a self-sustaining community. They also have a huge interest in renewable energy sources because of the geothermal activity...you can take a tour and they tell you all about their several projects (heating, power generation, water ram, solar water fountains, etc).
But, the event that I most enjoyed was the Aurora Ice Museum. The first version of this was called the Aurora Ice Hotel in January of 2004. But, with the long daylight hours and summer temps in the 90's, the hotel melted away in July. The second version, and the one we saw, was completed in 2005. However, it now has a permanent outside structure so that it stays all year round. EVERYTHING on the inside is all carved in ice (except for the fiberoptic lights that change color every 10 seconds to mimic the colors of the aurora borealis). Oh, and with the second version, the name was changed from "hotel" to "museum" because, get this...they could not be classified as a hotel if they did not have a fire sprinkler system installed...hummm, whatever. They employ two world renound ice sculpture architects...Steve Brice and then, I believe, his wife...but I could be wrong on that. It's kind of like a gothic cathedral structure with vaulted arches and massive ice blocks. They have carved such cool things inside...there is a great hall and lounge area with fire place (that is, an ice fireplace that glows from the yellow fiberoptic lights in it). There are huge life size ice sculptures of two jousting knights on horses and others of some ladies. There's an observation tower and a functional gigantic chess set where all the pieces are of different Alaskan animals. Oh, there are these really cool chandeliers made of individually carved ice crystals. There's a wedding chapel where actual weddings take place...they said they've had 81 weddings and today was going to be 82...and all the couples are still together. They even have faux-fur mink capes available in black and white for the bride and groom...for a rental fee, of course. They have four different "rooms" each with a different theme (Polar Bear, Christmas, Turret, and the Queen Anne). The Queen Anne even comes with it's own ice outhouse...although, I think the ladies might get stuck to the seat!!! They have these huge beds carved out of ice and then the "mattress" is packed snow that is covered in caribou hides. You can even stay overnight in the rooms if you so choose...it's about $600 a night though...but they said only two couples have stayed the whole entire night from 10pm to 8am...out of, I don't know 60 or so people. They give you 0 degree sleeping bags to sleep in, but it stays at a constant temperature of 20 degrees inside...gotta make sure you bring your coat, mittens, and hats!!! Guess I can't really blame the people...burrr!!!! There's also a 12 foot tall polar bear and an ice igloo. And, the thing that they are most proud of, I think, is their Ice Bar...complete with with a functioning bar to make their signature Appletini that is put in individually-carved ice martini glasses...for $15 a piece!!! But folks get to keep the glass as a souvenir. Apparently they have a gig with Stoli Vodka because that is the only vodka that will not freeze within the museum. The 12 foot polar bear used to be the Coca Cola bear...but that changed since the coke kept freezing...and you know what a mess it is when you freeze pop!!!! All the little seats around the bar have caribou hides on them as well to keep your bum from freezing, too.
Anyhoo...we had a blast and it was a nice little get-a-way that was only about an hour and a half from home. And, if you are an Alaskan resident you even can get a deal on the rooms...woo hoo!
Well, let's see, what else...not too much going on since the last time I wrote...my kitty has been having a ball scoping out the birdies in the windows...if it keeps her entertained, I'm all for it! Talk to you all soon!!!
Leah and Michael...and Pashy, too!
Hope all is well on your end. Michael and I are doing good and just getting ready for the holidays. Unfortunately, I have some bad news but I wanted to share it so that you can keep all of these people and their family members in your thoughts and prayers. Over a week ago on Monday, Dec 3rd, one of the Providence LifeGuard helicopters from the hospital that I work at went missing. Some of the info from memos from the hospital and from Anchorage Daily News (adn.com) reported that the helicopter was reported missing over Prince William Sound when they were flying a patient transport from Cordova to Anchorage. The helicopter carried a pilot, a flight nurse, a paramedic, and the patient. I knew the flight nurse. His name was John Stumpff and he was an ER nurse for quite a while before he went into LifeGuard. Some of you that have left Providence may remember him from going to codes in the ER or changing out his flight med packs in the pharmacy. The search and rescue took quite a while due to severe bad weather but they do believe the helicopter went down in the water. Parts of the helicopter (a door and some equipment) and John's body were found about a mile from each other washed up on one of the beaches. To my knowledge, nothing else has been found and the search has been called off. This is just so sad and has really affected everyone. I am driving down to Anchorage on Friday to go to the memorial service for all of the members on the helicopter. Again, please keep all of them in your prayers...
Not much else to report. I worked down in Anchorage for two weeks about a week ago. Mike and I went to his annual Christmas party at the base last night and had a good time.
Well, guess that's about it...sorry for the bad news. Talk to you all soon...
Leah and Michael
Hope all is well. Mike and I are doing great. First of all, I just want to thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for the LifeGuard team. The memorial service was really nice...but definitely a tear jerker.
We are all set for Christmas here...well, at least I am. Mike said he still needs to wrap some presents. He's also banned me from the garage for like the past week or so working on something...not that I really go in there a lot, but still, he has my curiosity peaked! Mike and I are having our own little Christmas here at the house. I bought some Alaskan king crab legs for Christmas dinner...yumm! May not be traditional...but it's crab legs, who cares?!?!
Michael is anxiously awaiting our new boat...okay, it's not just Mike...I am, too! All the loan paperwork is set and we are just waiting for it to be delivered in February or so. He says he wants to do some early fishing out of Valdez for some salmon, but I just think it's still going to be too cold for it in March or so. He's been pouring over different maps of rivers and lakes and whatnot to see where he wants to go.
Well, a few days ago it reached a negative 37 degrees here at the house. Mike said it reached negative 50 down in Clear where the base is. I took a picture of our little thermometer that we have here at the house. We call the little guy in the thermometer "Oscar"...he takes off clothes, or puts them on, depending on the temp. And, of course, with it being so cold, we have frost buildup on the inside of the doors and windows in the house. That just still strikes me as so funny...until, like today, when we have a heat wave (it's warmed up to about 2 degrees) and I have to go around and mop up all the water that's melted on the window sills.
OK folks, this is Mike. I've been watching NORAD track Santa since I was a kid myself. This year I get to be the guy on shift at a NORAD sensor on Christmas Eve. You bet we'll be tracking Santa the moment he leaves North Pole and starts making his rounds. I've finally climbed my way up to the Santa Ops Center at Clear Air Force Station. If you want a "heads' up" for the ol' kiddos when Santa starts making his deliveries, let me know. I'll give them a call. Otherwise, you and the kiddos can track him yourselves at http://www.noradsanta.org/en/home.htm OK, back to Leah...
My Aunt Cindy emailed me a number of weeks ago to see if I wanted a painting that my mom did when she was 12 years old. And, of course, I just couldn't wait to get it. It never ceases to amaze me how talented my mama is!!! It was entered into the North Alabama State Fair in 1957 and won "Outstanding in Children's Division". I am so proud to display it in my house!!! Pretty cool, huh? Thank you again, Cindy!!! I will treasure it always!
Mom, I am sending a picture of the moon...but with it being so dark out and not the right camera, it's not the best picture. I need to be out on the highway to get the picture I really want, I think.
So, yesterday was the winter solstice. We get to finally have MORE daylight each day!!! At the moment, the sun doesn't come up till about 10 in the morning and sets sometime after 3:00...I just know at 4 in the afternoon, it's completely dark.
Well, guess that's it for now...talk to you all soon!!! Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!
Leah and Michael