Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Welcome to the Dust Bowl

The view on Coal Mine Road- close to the top of th world

Picking blueberries with friends- Ches LOVES blueberries

Lowbush blueberries on Coal Mine Road

Curious Caribou- This male was all alone- but isn't he beautiful?

Chessa ready to ride!

We have been busy, busy, busy. We're trying to explore more of our area and enjoy our first summer in Alaska, before the snow flies. I swear I can smell fall already, so I don't think it will be long now.
I've been away because our mini is still down, and well, we're moving so I just don't have time to get it all up and running right now. So, I'm bopping in to say "Hi" and tell you what we've been up to.
*Blueberry picking- Sunday we went out and picked piles and piles of blueberries. Everywhere we looked there were tiny bushes loaded with plump blue berries. We picked for hours and hours and came home with a big pail of berries for the freezer. What a treat! I was hoping to get out again this week, but with moving and work, I just don't think we'll get there.
*Cutting wood- Our new home, which we move into Saturday, has a wood stove in addition to the Toyo. So, we are stocking up on piles of wood. After we picked our fill of berries on Sunday we headed further into the woods, which is a forest fire area from 1998(?). The wood is spruce but it's the perfect size, and they say it's the best around. Since it's free, it sounds like the best for me. We cut a trailer full and should have a good start on a warm winter.
*Riding- We've been out riding the ATV. It's so relaxing and since Delta has trails that lead anywhere you care to go, we ride a lot. I'm dreading winter when we can't access some of the gorgeous trails we're on now. While riding this weekend we stopped to watch a family of spruce grouse that were on the trail. Mother Hen and her quads just wandered around, taking their time, and eventually Mama rushed them off into the safety of the woods.
*Shopping- With more space comes the need for more stuff. In reality it's not a lot of stuff, but we will need some pieces of furniture, and to Brent's delight we needed a chain saw. Saturday we went to Fairbanks and picked him up a new saw, which will be worth it's weight in gold with all the wood he has yet to cut for winter.
*Moving- Moving day is fast approaching. We actually plan to start moving furniture on Saturday morning. My plan of action is to clean, then move the largest things. One thing nice about starting over is that there just isn't as much stuff to move. The process has been much more relaxing than the frenzy of store/sell/pack we experienced just 7.5 short months ago. In actuality it feels like much longer, and we're both pretty pumped and excited for the weekend.
*Working- Life is good, and our jobs are still great. Brent has been working quite a bit of overtime and it doesn't look like it's going to slow down any for the next month or so. He has training coming up in late September, and he's looking forward to that. I am still (like it's been a long time) loving my new job. It's always changing, challenging, and well, it's fun. It's great to have a place to go that you actually want to go to every morning. We're both very happy here, and have agreed that this was a great move.
*Missing you- Living great distances from family and friends, inevitably means that we will miss important days, events, times in our loved ones lives. My cousin Kelsey and her new husband Ben were married over the weekend. We were sad to have missed such an important day, but we were with you in heart.
On Friday past we also said goodbye to my Grandma Adeline. It was hard knowing that I couldn't be there to share the grief with my family, but I also know that they have eachother to support and comfort.
Also, Brent's Grandma Helen celebrated her birthday in Watertown, SD. Her daughters put on a great party for her with lots of family and friends.
My sister-in-law Sara celebrated her birthday on the 22nd. Hope your day was super special! And Brent and Sara celebrated their wedding anniversary as well. 16 years! It's hard to believe. We hope that each year just gets better and better for you both!
We love and miss you all!
*Enjoying Alaska- In our journeys and travels we enjoy seeing the wildflowers, the mountains and of course, the wildlife. We haven't been seeing a ton of moose, but we did manage a sneak peek of our first fox. She sat so proudly along the Richardson as we traveled to Fairbanks this weekend. Very pretty girl.
We have also been relaxing and spending time with friends. Enjoying the bounty that Alaska holds in it's recreation. Friends of ours brought us fresh red salmon from the Chiitna. What a delight. It melted like butter in our mouths. We're looking forward to being able to dip net there next year.
We also tried our first batch of yak. When we first moved here I decided that it didn't sound like anything I'd want to eat, however, one of the boys here at work professed that it was his "favorite" meat, and if a 6-year-old likes it, I decided I could at least try it. Try I did, and I will say that while buffalo is still my favorite, we'll be adding some additional packages of yak to the freezer. Very mild, yummy, and lean. It makes excellent taco meat.
It is extremely dusty and dry here in Central Alaska. We could truly use some rain. The forest fires are making our skies hazy, and while they're not as bad as the Fairbanks area, we are certainly affected by the smoke and haze. The dust here in Delta has been unbelievable. When we ride the ATV we prepare to come home dirty, dusty and gritty. Friday evening was terrible, and last night we noticed the humidity was up a little which definitely helped the dust factor on the trails.
Well, that's it for now. I need to get back to all of those things listed above.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Fortunately I'm not referring to money, just equipment. I haven't updated, in quite a while, and you might be wondering why. So, here she hard drive is fried. No sunny side up here, it's hard as a rock. Dead. I guess I'll be buying a new computer sooner than later. The good news? I have a warranty. The bad news? I live in Alaska, and everything takes longer. I might wilt, and die before that thing gets here.

So, we're good, still playing, mudding, exploring. Just not able to chat about it right now.

On a sad note: Prayers go out to my Grandma Adeline who suffered another stroke about a week ago. We are praying that she finds peace soon. I love you Grandma.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Living it Up...Alaska Style

We’ve been away, out playing in the glorious summer sun. We finally got some sun last week after too many rainy days. It seemed like it rained for weeks on end, and yet you’d never know it in most areas around Delta at this point.

Friday Brent and I both had the day off. Brent headed out bear hunting with a friend of his, and I headed to Fairbanks for a little shopping. Brent had a great day out in the woods. They did a little fishing, a little hunting, and Brent stumbled upon a caribou shed. We now have horns for our Alaska home.

When I got home we went over to meet Brent’s co-worker and his wife. They live close to us but due to schedules we were having a hard time meeting up with them. Success was had and we relaxed. The guys shot off a few rounds, we chatted, the dogs played and we just enjoyed the heat.

Later in the evening we drove over to another co-worker of Brent’s to look at an ATV he had for sale. After a thorough inspection, a lot of glee on Brent’s part, we wrote a check, loaded up and headed for home. I don’t know who was more excited, Brent or Ches. We are now the proud owners of a Rhino, and I will post some pics of that later.

We rushed home to take it for our maiden voyage, to feel the wind our hair and the bugs in our teeth. Ches camped out in the box and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that nose work faster, or those ears flap harder. Pure glee was felt by all!

Saturday morning we packed up and headed to the M Family’s home in North Pole to celebrate Independence Day with a soldier and his family. E had barely begun our journey when we had the pleasure of enjoying the splendor of a bald eagle perched high upon a spruce tree. As we traveled the windy, windy road towards Fairbanks we caught a site of a cow moose and her twin calves. Awesome! My first moose twins.

We hit up the Prosepector for some 4th of July deals before heading back to North Pole. We caught a glimpse of the parade, and then headed to the banks of the Chena Slough to spend the day. We had a nice day, hanging out with the M family, meeting T’s parents, and celebrating A’s birthday.

I was in charge of dessert for the day and spent the previous evening constructing a red, white and blue trifle in honor of our nation’s birthday. However, while we were loading up that morning we came to the unfortunate conclusion that the dessert would not fit in the cooler. Talk about a blonde moment. Oy. So, we shelved the dessert and picked up cookies and ice cream for ice cream sandwiches

T knocked herself making a 5 star dinner. I even enjoyed my first serving of moose meat (that I remember anyway) and I have to say, not too shabby. We’ll see how the next tasting goes. I’m reserving judgement, but my first try was mighty tasty.

As we were enjoying another warm Alaska day the smoke began to fill the sky and much to our dismay the sun became difficult to see. We managed to stay dry during an afternoon thunderstorm, and headed for home. I have to say it was strange not having fireworks on the 4th. However, some of the neighbors were setting them off and they were pointless, you can’t see anything, just suffer the annoying pops, whistles, and sputters. Not nearly as fun in the daylight. I guess I’ll have to wait for New Year’s.
Sunday we hung out at home. Brent did a little vehicle maintenance while I shoveled out the house. Goodness. I have been too busy playing. I cooked up a storm. I made homemade biscuits and gravy for breakfast, halibut rolls for lunch and potato salad and steaks for dinner. Delicioso. That’s the most cooking I’ve done since I’ve started work.

After dinner we took a little ride on the best-money-I’ve-ever-spent and landed at Brad and Rose’s house for a cool refreshment and some good company. After enough jokes to make me forego sit-ups for eternity, we jumped in our love buggy and cruised home. Phew. What a weekend.

Monday after work we loaded up in the Rhino (aka love buggy, best-money-I’ve-ever-spent) and headed to another co-worker of Brent’s to look at a Pro Pioneer. That would be an inflatable raft/boat for all or you non-Alaskans. We’ve been going round and round about the boat/canoe debacle for weeks now. And I’ve officially thrown up my hands.

When we were leaving we stumbled upon Brad, Rose and Willie on a flower-gathering expedition. We both decided to throw caution to the wind, live dangerously and we headed out on possibly the dustiest ride of our lives. It was worth every single minute. Even the dusty uni-brow you’ll see in the pics below. We were all a dusty, dirty mess, but it was so much fun, I could do it every night.

We had planned to ride Bluff Cabin Trail tonight with Brad and Rose. They had something come up so we decided to go anyway, all by our lonesome. We started down the trail we had tried to walk a few months back, and were pleasantly surprised at how dry the trail was.

Well, that’s another thing I should have learned by now. Never count your chickens before they hatch, or shall I say, never count your dry spots before they become gaping mud pits ready to suck you in and swallow you up. Ridiculous really. We made it threw 6 wallowing pits before we got hung up, backed out and headed for home. While Brent was splashing around I got out to watch from the sidelines. As I was standing on the muddy banks of the trail I looked down and saw the largest paw prints, made by an obviously huge bear. I’m not talking a yearling people, those paw prints were the size of my HEAD!! Good heavens. That was all I needed to have an epiphany. I tromped through the mud with my camo flip flops, had Brent pull forward, piled branches under the tires and he backed out, turned around, we loaded up and we were out of the bear’s den. I don’t know if I’ll be willing to try that again for a while. You can officially call me a chicken shit. Fact is, I’ve been called worse. J

After dropping off some muddy boots and slop covered supplies we rode over to Sid & MaryLou’s to show off our new ride. We sat on their deck, watching boats come in and out of Clearwater Lake and I started thinking about how nice it might be to have the Pro Pioneer. I did, however, keep that little tidbit to myself, we’ll see what Sparky does about that. Frankly, I would be happy either way.

That’s our update. If you made it through all that dribble you should be awarded a medal. I’d offer to send it to you, but I’m pretty sure the shipping would be grossly exaggerated against the value of the medal!

I’m off to try to catch a couple winks of sleep on this hot evening without a breeze. Someone smarter might have bought a fan over the weekend, but then again, we’ve been busy buying bigger things. Ha!

Have a happy day!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

In Remembrance

One year ago today I was attending the wake of my Grandfather. Grandpa Elmo was a very special man. I have so many memories of him, and it’s hard to choose a favorite.

Grandpa Elmo was ornery and sweet, all wrapped up in one complicated package. He liked to drink his coffee from a plain white cup. He chewed tobacco, and liked to play tricks on us grandkids with his snoose tin. He would empty his Copenhagen tin, poke a hole in the bottom, and when he’d pop the top open his thumb would pop out and “surprise” us over and over again. We were surprised every single time.

He loved to tease everyone. He teased my mom about making him his favorite lemon meringue pie, every time he saw her. He teased me about his “nosey’ nosey”. He would bribe my older brother (who lived with them one summer) to buy him tobacco and stash it in their secret hiding spot, when he was supposed to be quitting.

When I was a toddler I was staying with Grandma and Grandpa overnight. They set up a portable crib next to their bed, and despite their efforts I would not sleep in the crib. Eventually they brought me into bed with them, and at some point I crawled on top of Grandpa, straddling his chest, and pointed out his “nosey, nosey”. I don’t remember the story fact for fact, as the words “nosey, nosey” generally about fits of laughter and the details of the story would be forgotten.

I know that each of us have special memories. We miss you Grandpa.

July 5, 2008 we laid my Grandpa Elmo to rest, and mourned the passing of Brent’s Grandpa Earl. It was a very tough day for both of us.

I know that most of Brent’s earliest and fondest memories involve in some way, his Grandpa Earl. Summers at the farm in South Dakota, trapping and fishing the creek that ran through the pastures of their farm.

We think of them both often, and we miss them, along with their other loved ones. And though they are in a better place, with spirits that are whole, we long for their return to fill the empty spaces in our hearts.

Also, on this Independence Day we must remember those who have, will, and are fighting today for our freedom. We pray for their families, we pray for their safe return and we honor those who did not return from the wars of their time.