We've felt a couple different earthquakes since living here, but this one was the biggest. It was a 7.1 with the epicenter in Anchor Point, 60 miles west of Homer. It happened at 1:30 am, early this morning. Things shook for about 30 seconds, but felt much longer. Luckily, the house stood strong, as well as most places in the Seward area. There were several house fires in the Homer area, due to gas leaks caused by the quake. Something we won't forget, that's for sure.
Casey returned back to Alaska from Australia in early December. She had fun experiencing different things while there. They were able to scuba dive and snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Harbor bridge climb, surfing, and meeting some wonderful people along the way. We were happy to have her back, especially before Christmas. She is back at Seward Mountain Haven nursing home, working as a CNA, happy to be working with the elders again.
Work for Doug is continuing to go well. Just started the January - May semester with a new group of students. Thirteen students all from varied backgrounds, even has his first female student. They are a good group. His challenge is keeping them all busy, learning, and achieving the skills needed to work in construction. So far so good.
Work is going well for me also. I really enjoy being stationed at the ER front desk, never knowing what the day may bring. The people I work with are lots of fun and the days go quickly. Amazing the difference between summer and winter. Many tourists and people from the cruise ships, hikers and fishermen come in during the summer keeping us busy. Winter is our catch up time. I work more on insurance follow up and well as odds and ends in the ER. Anyone who comes in that needs surgery or is critically ill, we have to fly up to Anchorage. Never thought of that before moving here, how important it is to be near good medical providers and equipment. The things we can take for granted.
Our new cabin is cozy and the main parts are finished. We didn't have the boiler/heat hooked up until a week before Christmas. Luckily, with the way Doug insulated the house, we didn't need much heat. We were able to heat the whole main floor with a plug in heater.
We just started working on the little cabin again. We gutted it last fall(took it back from the squirrels). We replaced the wiring, changed the plumbing, redid all the insulation. Yesterday we went under it in the crawl space and replaced the sagging plastic, pinecone filled insulation with new insulation and plastic. Such a good job done. Next we will start covering the inside walls with wood, and just finishing work in general. We are planning on opening it in May as a B & B nightly rental. I just got my business license a couple weeks ago. Named it the "Alaska Experience", hoping there are people out there who enjoy a small, cozy cabin kind of living while on vacation. I know we do!!
Winter has been another mild one, so far. We had a decent amount of snow in the fall, but as we are now in January, it's been in the 30's and rainy. That also means lots of ice. Everyone's driveway is a sheet of 8" ice base. Then when it rains, it gets really slippery, lots of falls. Nice not having to shovel or plow, but miss not having the clean, white, fluffy snow to keep things bright. Nice that the days are getting longer too.
We are keeping busy between work, cabin updating, friends, pickle ball, occasional dog sitting. Time is flying along as we look forward to trips to WI/SD for Jake's graduation in May. Then a trip to SD for Brianna and Jake's wedding in the fall. Will be a fun filled year! We feel so blessed our cup is overflowing.
Much time has passed since our last post. Spring and summer were so busy that our best intentions of updating the blog fell short.We'll try run through the last 6 months without boring anyone.
Early May marked the end of school for me, it was another great semester. Two days after graduation Casey and I loaded up the work truck and headed up to the Mat-Su valley for a couple of days of networking with some high school tech-ed teachers. We spent one night in Wasilla and one night in Eagle River. On our way back to Seward we picked up my Dad at the airport, he was joining us for 10 days to help with finishing the cabin. We accomplished lots with his help, spending much of our time working on the interior tongue and groove. It was great spending time with him. Part way through his stay Jesse and Josh Gabrielse flew up for a 7 day visit. It was fun having them join us. They spent most of their time with Casey, hiking, taking a glacier cruise, and horseback riding.
After my dad headed back to WI I spent some time bear hunting with my friend Dakota, who was scheduled to move back to Oklahoma on June 10. Dakota was really hoping to get a chance at a black bear before he left. We had one really memorable hunt. With full packs on our back we headed into the local mountains for an overnight hunt. About 2 miles into the mountains we witnessed a brown bear chasing a mountain down the mountain through various avalanche chutes. Just when we thought the goat had made a narrow escape, the bear made a last ditch effort and caught the goat. The goat decided he had one choice left, he lept off of a 50 foot cliff, taking the bear with him. Both animals lived, but the way they limped off in their own directions, there was clearly no winner. It was one of my most memorable hunting experiences and I feel blessed to have witnessed it.
June brought more work on the house. Thankfully Dakota was willing to help for 3 days getting the steel roofing on. It felt great to have the roof finally sealed up. We tried a few more times to find a bear, but despite a couple close encounters, we came up empty. After Dakota headed south, Casey got down to business putting some salmon in the freezer. It was another great sockeye run and we caught what we needed for the year. One afternoon, while everyone was at work, I was cleaning fish on our cleaning table. I had just walked around the corner of the cabin to put the fillets in the freezer when I heard a bucket fall off the cleaning bench. I knew something was up, so I went into the cabin and looked out the bathroom window. Lo and behold, there was a 3 year old brown bear helping himself to the carcasses. After a few pictures and some rocks, I convinced him to look somewhere else for his dinner. This was the first of about a month of brown bear sightings in our neighborhood.
The last week of June, Kris's brother Greg and his wife Melissa joined us for a visit. We had a great time and did many exciting things, but the best was our adventure to Prince William Sound. We rented a cuddy cabin boat and spent 3 days exploring the sound. We realized quickly that 3 days isn't enough to even scratch the surface. We had beautiful weather, and spent our time shrimping, relaxing, and fishing for halibut and rockfish. Once again we were able to put more meat in the freezer for the winter.
In early July our son Jake and his girlfriend Brianna arrived for a visit. They arrived just in time to see the small city of Seward (summer pop. about 5000)grow to about 40,000 for the 4th of July Mount Marathon race. We watched both the mens and womens races. What a couple great races to watch, we witnessed the two best sky runners in the world win the races, both mens and womens race records were broken by large margins. After the town cleared out, we spent the rest of the time hiking and fishing. We really enjoyed spending quality time with them and Casey.
Shortly after they departed, our next visitors arrived, my parents along with Jerry and Jane DeBlaey. The DeBlaeys spent a week with us and it was a great time. My Dad and Jerry helped get more done on the house. We were able to take a day off when they treated me to a day on a charter boat. Fishing was good and we caught halibut, salmon, and ling cod. My parents stayed with us through the end of July. With their help we were able to get the outside of the cabin completely done. They worked extremely hard helping stain and install the siding and soffit. The final piece of siding went on about 1 hour before we left for the airport.
August had arrived quickly, and I had a couple days to prepare for a hunt I had planned. I drove to Fairbanks on Aug. 6 and after having dinner with a friend, I picked my brother up at the airport. The next day we headed up the Haul road with Dall sheep hunting the Brooks Range our destination. We had a great hunt, Todd shot a beautiful ram, and I came home with red meat for the winter. It was a tough and challenging hunt. We put on 25 miles hiking with a LOT of weight on our backs, and at one point, 50 straight hours weathered in our tents. Despite the hardships, I'd do it over again tomorrow if I could.
I returned home on a Friday night, and the fall semester started on Monday. The fall semester is going well so far.
The end of August, Casey and her cousin Aly headed to Australia to experience life 'down under'. We are excited for them and all the adventures they will have.
September brought our next visitors, Kris's parents joined us for 2 weeks. Once again it was great spending time with family. They were a wonderful help working on the property. They did some detail work in the new cabin, and completely stained the siding on our small cabin. They also helped tear down an old lean-to we wanted to demolish. We had lots of fun and got a little hiking in also.
I was able to get out a couple times moose and bear hunting, but didn't see any bears and only cow moose. Kris, Brooks and I did an overnight camping trip looking for bear, no bear were spotted, but the area we camped was beautiful. We found old bears dens and wolf dens. The blueberry crop this year has been epic! There are berries everywhere and they're huge. We've done lots of picking and put many in the freezer for winter.
Can't believe how time flies! Our lives have really been lots of working(at work), working on building the new cabin, and normal daily chores. The one laundromat in town is currently closed for renovations for the next four week. This means we need to ask friends to use theirs. I will never again take these little conveniences for granted. Having a real bed to sleep in and washer/dryer in our home to use whenever we want are at the top of my list!!
We are currently having sunrise at 7:30 and sunset at 8:30. We are really enjoying the longer daylight. There has been some good nights of northern lights too, apparently. We're always so tired it's hard to stay up to see them, hopefully one of these nights. The weather here continues to be averaging mid 40's or so during the day. That is one thing I've noticed here, it takes much longer for the temps to warm up. We never really have a spring where temps are in the 60's, here that is summer.
The new cabin is really coming along nicely. I've been enjoying learning and helping Doug where I can. Luckily, he's also established some good relationships with a few guys that are willing to come over to help us. Today we spent time working on the walk-in shower. We've collected rocks around the area since last fall when Joe and Emily were here visiting. We've got a nice assortment of different rocks (which I love). We used them on the floor of the shower and also a river/waterfall coming down the wall of the shower. It looks so amazing! Doug is so talented and always amazing me with his ideas and abilities. Casey will help me get pictures here soon.
We have been making some time for fun too. Last Sunday after church, we packed up the bikes, Brooks, and harnesses for her. We went out to Exit Glacier Road, where they have the road gated shut to vehicles. We attached Brooks to my bike and let her do some pulling. She LOVED it! As soon as we got out the harness she got so excited. She did great job of pulling and not getting too distracted by other people and dogs. Casey took her on the way back and loved every second. Poor Doug ended up pedaling the whole way!
Blessings to you all!
Sorry for the delay in writing. Sometimes we feel our life here has become kind of ordinary, and not worth blogging about. We do appreciate everyone who has mentioned how much they enjoy it, and will continue to blog.
We have been spending most of our time working at our places of employment or working on the new cabin. I've really enjoyed watching things progress, especially now that trapping season is done for Doug. They ended the season with nine martin, three weasel and one wolverine. With a few students from last semester who enjoy hiking and trapping, he had some company/help too. Josh hadn't been able to come along Saturday's as he is now working for the Seward Police Department, often third shift. The past couple Saturday's we even had a couple students from last semester helping with foam board on the outside of the new place. Now it is well insulated and we are able to heat and dry the inside. Good thing too, as the squirrels living in our roof and walls like to party while we are trying to sleep!
The weather here has been mild, most days between 30 and 40. Good for us with the building process and getting things done outside, but not real nice for outdoor hiking and snowshoeing. Doug had built a beautiful dog sled for Brooks to pull, and we've hardly had enough snow to even get her used to pulling a bit.
Last night we had a bit of excitement as we heard a helicopter fly over. Turned out a few AVTEC students had gone up Mt. Marathon to hike after school. They ended up taking what they thought was an easier way down. Unfortunately, it was worse and they ended up falling and sliding down 200 feet into a ravine. They called for help, EMS found them and were able to help them warm up. Military Blackhawk had to come in with the chopper to get them out safely. Lesson learned once again, always be prepared for anything while hiking.
Blessings to you all, take care!!
As we celebrate the birth of our Lord, we wish you all a blessed Christmas season and a very Happy New Year. One week from now, if all goes well, we will be in Wisconsin for Christmas! Hard to believe we've been here a full year already.
The Christmas season is upon us. Thursday night was the community choir Christmas concert. Fun Christmas music to kick off the season. Last night we had the AVTEC Christmas staff feast. They had it in the upstairs of the Culinary Academy. The students made lots of wonderful side dishes, while one of the office staff, Ken slow cooked prime rib for all. It was a fun night! I got to meet Doug's new director Ben and his wife, a nice couple who at one time lived in Wisconsin. Couple of cheese heads like us!:) We had such a good time talking with them, think we were the last to leave. Tonight we have the Providence Christmas party. It will be at the military resort. Nice we are able to attend, also to see and meet people outside of work. Tomorrow we will be transferring our membership to United Methodist Church in Seward at the morning service, then a Christmas service at night.
It did finally snow a bit this morning as Doug and Josh were heading out to check traps. Fresh snow just makes everything so light and beautiful! We had lost most of the little snow we'd had a couple weeks ago already. Many days of rain last week, the last few days have been sunny which we always appreciate.
The sunrise is about 10am and sunset about 3:45. It really hasn't been too tough. Helps so much to have work Monday - Friday. Once you're inside with the bright lights and your coworkers, you hardly notice the loss of daylight.
We fortunately have the new cabin enclosed and pretty weather proofed. It's a good place for Doug to keep his trapping stuff and a great place for skinning critters:) It's almost comical the small area we are living now with Casey and Brooks(dog). We just laugh at how compact it is at times. In fact, our Christmas tree this year is a pine tree air freshener. Hahaa! We are making the best of it. Casey even decorated it with popcorn, a yellow paper star and tin foil for tinsel. At least we will be able to enjoy other's trees in Wisconsin. Looking so forward to spending Christmas with family and friends back home.
We wish you all the very best. Merry Christmas to you and yours!! God bless!
November is flying by! The weather has been very mild and dreary this month. As I write this we are finally seeing some sun, with a few more days of it in the forecast. We had about 10 consecutive days of rain, which isn't so bad, except some days were so dark it felt like twilight all day. The upcoming days should bring cooler temps with it.
School continues to go well, graduation day is only 4 weeks away. We've been spending a good number of days working on job sites out in the community. These are great learning situations and great for team building.
Kris continues to enjoy her work at the hospital, spending much of her time in the ER. Lately they have been training her in some new areas. This past week she was voted employee of the month by her peers, we're very proud of her!
Casey's job is going well also, with her putting many hours in. These shifts are 12 hours, so after 4 days in a row she really enjoys a couple days of relaxing (laundry :)).
Last week Saturday, Nov 15th, Josh and I were able to start putting out our trapline. We were heading into a new area and had high hopes. We spent all day cutting in the line and got 11 sets put out. The weather improved enough that day that we didn't get completely soaked. The route we take involves about 1 mile of lowland river bottom, and then a climb up the side of a mountain to gain about 900 vertical feet. Once over the lip of the mountain, we are into what's called the pass, where the terrain levels some. So far we've stretched the line about 3/4 Mile into the pass, with our goal, being another 2 miles.
Yesterday was our first check of the line, and it went better than expected. We were rewarded with 4 marten. We were able to get a few more sets in, with one being a wolverine set. We hope to get additional marten sets along with wolf and wolverine sets out each week.
The new cabin progress has slowed down some with the weather. The plumbing drain lines are all in and I've begun planning the electrical. We're using this down time to make all of our plumbing, electrical and finishing decisions.
We'll be spending Thanksgiving dinner with some friends from church. It should be a fun filled day.
Blessings to all and enjoy your Thanksgiving
We are happy to report, we were able to get the new cabin sheeted and tar paper on the roof. What a relief as the days are really getting colder and shorter. When we get precipitation now it's usually snow. Last Saturday we were blessed to have a couple guys come for the day to help get the roof on. Now we can take our time during the winter and work inside when we are able. We were also fortunate to have the AVTEC plumbing class come over and work on laying the plumbing pipes in the gravel of the basement. A good way for them to get experience and learn, while doing us a huge favor.
Now, if only we could catch the couple squirrels still making a home inside the walls/roof of our little cabin. Doug trapped a couple a few weeks ago, we were hoping that was it. Not so! Most mornings I'm waking up to scratching and scampering on the outside of the cabin. Time to set another trap or two. Doug is checking it out now as I'm writing this. He's waiting on his buddy Josh to get here, as they are heading out to the woods to start blazing a trail for their trap line. Trapping up here opens November 10. Since Josh is also a new resident, they are still learning as they go.
A couple interesting things we were lucky enough to try recently was both muktuk and akutaq. Muktuk is the traditional Inuit/Eskimo and Chukchi meal of frozen whale skin and blubber. Muktuk is most often made from the skin and blubber of the Bowhead Whale, although the beluga and the narwhal are also used. The akutaq is also known as Eskimo ice cream. One of Doug's students brought these delicacies to school to share with the guys. He brought extra for Casey and I to try also. The muktuk tasted like you'd imagine...cold crunchy fat with a chunk of rubber attached that was about impossible to chew through. We could understand how it would keep the natives warm as they are working out in the frigid temperatures. Apparently the fat really coats the stomach to keep their energy up. None of us were actually able to swallow that. The eskimo ice cream however wasn't bad, although one bite was enough. It was made of lard, blackberries, potatoes and sugar. Glad we had the chance to try these and appreciate the culture they come from.
We pray all is well with friends and family near and far. Blessings to you all!!
As the days continue to get shorter and cooler, we feel the pressure of getting things ready for winter. We've spent some time insulating pipes under the cabin as well as sectioning that area off and adding a heat source to come on when the temperatures dip below freezing. We also knew there were a couple squirrels living under the roofing at the back of the cabin, we'd often hear them in the early morning hours working away. Lucky for me Doug is an expert trapper and caught a couple last week, with couple more to catch yet. This cabin is not big enough that we can add a party of squirrels too! Hopefully he'll have better luck on his real trap line this year too.
We also were blessed to have the help of a couple of Doug's students on the house yesterday. The guys who shot the bear a couple weeks ago wanted to help us back. Our friend Josh had also been offering to help with the new cabin. Doug normally doesn't like accepting help, but in this case, we couldn't do it alone. Perfect! They came over Saturday afternoon and helped get the large center beam set in place. After that was done, we worked and got the supports over the difficult, high half of the cabin. We ended the day with grilled bear back strap and homemade root beer around a campfire. It was a good time getting to know some great guys better, and lots accomplished. As the days continue getting shorter, we are working when we are able. Sunrise is 8:50 and setting at 6:30. Hoping to finish supports and sheeting the whole outside before the snow really starts.
Casey started working with the residents at the nursing home this past Monday. She works 12 hour shifts and had three long days in a row. She is managing and I believe it is helping her make some important determinations for her future career path.
Us girls also spent some time last week Saturday as it was raining, making homemade root beer and orange soda pop. The root beer is a hit, however our orange didn't get enough carbonation yet. May have to figure out what we did wrong with that. It's a fun hobby that we are hoping to continue improving on.:)
We haven't been able to get out hiking as much as we'd like, especially with puppy Brooks' endless energy to expel. Every amount of spare time is spend working on the cabin. Hopefully once it's enclosed we will be able to get out more with new experiences to share.
Take care, God's blessings on you all!
Yes, it's true, snow! This past Saturday two of Doug's students were bear hunting in an area he'd told them about. We were busy working on the house framing when Doug received a call from them, they'd gotten one!! Casey, Doug and I all got our hiking boots on and took off for the trailhead. Casey and I told Doug to just go his own pace to get to the guys quicker, we'd get there soon after. As we hiked, a couple miles in, a bit of hail, then it became snow clusters. Before we knew it, everything was white and we were wet. We thought we'd warm up with the hiking so didn't bring much as far as gloves/coats. We were just reminded of once again of the glory of the Lord all around us. We had rain, hail, snow, thunderstorms over the bay in the distance as well as rays of sunlight at times in the afternoon. Such a memorable first snowfall of the year! Granted, the snow was only in the higher elevations, so we didn't have snow back at the house. It was fun sharing in the guys excitement over the bear as well.
We've had such a great week with Doug's parents. Lucky for us Dave loves to be busy and was more than willing to spend time helping on the new cabin we are putting up. Angie was a great sport about spending a day driving back to Anchorage with us gals. We did some shopping, errands and even lunch out. We ended that day with a bull moose trotting through our front yard, getting as close as 5 yards away and we all got to see it! Luckily, we were on the raised deck a safe height above with no worries of being trampled:)
Since Casey arrived, we've been getting by with the one vehicle. If we need to do laundry or have other errands to run, she drops us off and gets things done. Otherwise, we take the vehicle and she stays around the cabin for the day. No she's taken a job at a nursing home in town called Mountain Haven as a CNA, starting tomorrow. We decided to keep our eyes open for a beater truck with a heater and were happy to find one. A '95 GMC 2500 that looks like it's weathered many a winter. Hoping it treats us well and helps get us through this winter as a second vehicle.
The new cabin is coming along faster than we ever thought. Originally, we were hoping to get the basement in and capped off before winter. Since that went well and we still had good weather, we decided to get more lumber and continue on the first floor. I'm happy to say at this point we(I use that term loosely) are working on the gable ends and have the trusses ordered to come. Praying the weather holds out and we're able to get the whole outside enclosed. That way in the winter when we get stir crazy in our close quarters, we can always do projects in the new cabin. It won't be a huge place, but going from 200 sq.ft. to 800 will feel like a mansion!
The days are getting shorter. Now sunrise is around 8:15 and sunset is around 7:15. So glad this winter I have a full time job and I'm able to be out and about. Made for some long days last January when the daylight lasted 5-6 hours and I was at the cabin often.
We pray God's blessing on all our family and friends back home. We miss you and hope all is well!
Sorry it's been so long. Much has been happening and keeping us busy. We have been slowly working on our new cabin as weather permits, the first floor system is installed. As funding allows, we are going to continue working on the new place throughout the winter.
In mid August we were able to spend some time with my Aunt and Uncle, Roger & Kathy along with their friends Jim & Gracia. We had an enjoyable time catching up. The AVTEC fall semester began on August 18. I have a class of 12 this fall, and things are going very well.
On labor day weekend we were excited to welcome our daughter Casey to Alaska. Casey decided she loved her visit in May so much, she needed to move here. We didn't argue. She has already found a job as a CNA at Mountain Haven Nursing Home. She's scheduled to begin this job in early October. She plans to work this semester while she re-evaluates her schools plans.
We also had a visit from Aunt and Uncle Joe & Emily. They were in Alaska for 2 weeks and were able to spend time with us at the beginning and end of their time here. It was great. The heaviest silver salmon run hit Seward only days before they arrived. We had some incredible fishing action while they were here. Half way thru their trip they were met by Paul & Sharon, Emily's sister and brother-in-law. We were able to get to know them also. They were a lot of fun and a pleasure to have around.
We continue to get out on the hiking trails whenever possible. September is the rainy season here and it didn't let us down. We just came out of a nine day stretch of rainy weather. On Saturday the sun finally made an appearance, so we hit the trails looking for bears and exercise. We were able to find 7 bears on Saturday, but nothing close enough to go after. It was a great day that ended with 10 miles hiked. I returned solo on Sunday morning for another 11 miles and of course found a nice bear but decided that packing out the meat and hide alone would be more than an afternoon of work.
Kris continues to enjoy her job, getting more comfortable in it each day.
The end of this week my parents arrive for their first visit to our new home. We're excited for the time we'll be able to spend with them.
In closing, we'll try to update on a weekly basis which allows a little more detail. Blessings to all!
When Kris wrote our last post Josh and I were still waiting on the weather for the flight in. Finally on Saturday August 9 we found out the planes in Moose Pass were still grounded with no end in sight. I contacted High Adventure Air, based in Soldotna, and set up a flight in for Sunday at 10AM. We left bright and early Sunday morning and arrived at the float base 90 minutes early. We took off right at 10 o'clock and were finally headed to our destination. Our destination was an alpine lake that lays just west of the Harding Ice field. The flight and landing went smooth due to our pilot who was top notch. There were already 2 other camps set up on the lake since we ended up flying in on opening day, but we were able to get to the camping spot we wanted, with the nearest camp 1 1/2 miles away.
Alaska has a no hunting the same day as flying rule, so after camp was setup we took-off with our packs to scout for Monday. We put about 4 miles on hiking through the mountain ridges and drainages. We spotted about a dozen caribou(all cows and calves)and LOTS of ptarmigan. After returning to camp and getting some hot food we continued to glass from there. Before turning in for the night we spotted a mature bull caribou about 1 1/2 miles from camp and 5 black bears feeding on the surrounding mountains.
Monday morning I was up by 5 and ready to go by 5:45. Josh wasn't quite ready yet so I opted to head up the ridge behind camp and start glassing and he would follow up when he was ready. After glassing 15 minutes from the first rock point and seeing nothing, I moved 200 yards to the next ridge. Minutes after arriving there I spotted a nice bull 360 yards below feeding up out of a deep draw. I had to slowly work through the open terrain for 150 yards to reach the next rock outcropping that I could use for cover. I set up the tripod/video camera and filmed some great footage as he fed along. I decided to wait until Josh showed up before taking the shot, unless the bull showed signs of leaving. After 20 minutes of watching him he appeared he was going to drop back into the gully out of sight. I decided it was time to shoot. It ended up being a 180 yard shot, and he dropped in his tracks. Unfortunately he gave a few final kicks and launched himself over a 20' cliff and luckily stayed on the next ledge. Had he fallen over the next cliff he would have ended up in a swollen river. It turns out Josh had just cleared a ridge and saw the bull. As he was lifting his binoculars up, the caribou fell and a second later he heard the shot. And I heard his yell right after the shot :)
When they say that the work begins after the shot, they're right. We had to drop down a steep ridge, cross a rushing river and then back up an even steeper rock ridge on the other side to get to the caribou. Skinning and quartering on a small rocky ledge was an interesting ordeal, but after 2 hours it was ready to pack out. The pack out was a challenge with 100# in our packs and having to re-cross the river. After 2 trips of this we were finally finished and it was time to secure the meat in camp and work on fleshing the cape. Hot meal of fresh tenderloin and hit the hay.
The next morning after breakfast and ibuprofen we set out to find Josh a black bear. A 1 1/2 mile hike into a drainage and we spent a couple hours glassing. We spotted lots of caribou(including some good bulls), mountain goats, and 1 black bear. Unfortunately the bear was about 2 miles away and would take to long to get to. We worked our way back to base camp arriving about 2 o'clock. Shortly after our return, the winds off the Harding Ice field began to pick-up and the rain started falling. By 6PM the rain was coming down steady and the winds had flattened our gear storage tent, breaking the poles and rendering it useless. It's amazing how quickly such beautiful country can turn on you. We went from hunting mode to survival mode quickly. With 2 single man sleeping tents left, some of our gear already wet and no idea of the forecast we decided to send out a satellite signal to the float base for an early pick-up.
On Wednesday morning we sent a weather report to the pilot and despite questionable weather he said he'd try it. From the time we received confirmation that they were coming and the plane landing was 30 minutes. We had to break camp, haul all the gear and meat 150 yards to lake. The last load made it down as the pilot was loading the gear on. We fought a strong crosswind getting out of the valley, but made it out safe and sound.
The rest of Wednesday was spent unpacking and cutting up our winter meat supply. It was a great hunt!
Shortly before writing this post Rick and Julie Rogers stopped by our cabin to visit. It's always wonderful seeing friends that are in town for a visit. Unfortunately, Seward has been stuck in a rainy pattern the last 2 weeks, and their time here has been quite wet and dreary. Hopefully the rest of their trip is wonderful.
Monday morning the fall semester at AVTEC begins. My class enrollment is at 13 students this semester. This will be quite a change from last springs 6. I'm looking forward to getting back at it. Kris's job continues to go well, and she's enjoying it more each day. Two more weeks until Casey joins us, we're very excited her to start this new chapter in her life.
Blessings to all!
Where does the time go? Summer has been amazing! We had a great time seeing friends and family in Wisconsin, as well as downsize our material possessions. We really appreciated the help we got from everyone involved. We are so blessed!
The middle of July, Denise and Galen came up for a visit. Was so great to have them here. We got to do some hiking, fishing, glacier cruise, campfires and just spending time together.
Last week we were able to get our basement dug, then walls formed and poured this week. Nice to see progress and fun to have something to work on in our off time. We will be needing more room asap as Casey is moving up August 30. We are really excited she has decided to move, and anxious to see what God has is store for her.
My job at Providence Hospital in the billing department is going very well. I'm enjoying the people I work alongside of and the patients I get to interact with. Summer is a very busy time at the hospital with so many tourists traveling through, every day is different. Good variety of things to do.
Doug is looking forward to getting back to work, and has been spending some time preparing as students start August 18. He got to meet the new director of Avtec this past week. He is from Wisconsin too and very supportive of the construction program. Will be nice to both be working full-time again. We're also going to be working about the same hours and carpooling, just like the good old days to Mequon.
Today Doug and his friend Josh were going to head out on a float plane to Twin Lake. Doug was lucky enough to draw a caribou tag for the Kenai Peninsula. They only give out 30 some tags, so he didn't expect to be drawn his first time applying. Unfortunately, the winds were too gusty and they are postponed until the weather is better. They are hoping to go in tomorrow and then be there until next week Thursday. Josh doesn't have a caribou tag, but he could shoot dall sheep, wolf and black bear.
We've been enjoying some fly fishing on the Russian River, hiking Mt. Alice, and picking many salmon berries and blue berries. Our puppy Brooks loves to go hiking and we like her burning off her extra puppy energy. We found a great home for Denali, as we found having two puppies was a little much. She is living in a beautiful home outside of Seward with a young family. They have a 7 year old dog who needed a playmate. It was a perfect fit and they love her.
As I write this blog, Kris and I are preparing for our return to WI. We fly out of Anchorage this evening and arrive in Chicago tomorrow night. We are really looking forward to seeing all of our family and friends. It'll be a busy time since we are going to sort thru our belongings we left behind and need to decide what to sell and which things need to be shipped up to AK. The second week in WI I'll be heading to Canada fishing with my dad and uncles Lee and Larry. I'm really looking forward to that.
We continue to hit the salmon fishing hard. We've built a smoker outside of our new cabin and have been freezing and smoking as much as we can. The sockeye run is winding down now, but is just starting on the Russian river (about an hour away). Seward is known for it's large silver salmon run, that will start in August and continue thru September. Yesterday I was able to get out with the dogs on a 3.5 mile hike to an alpine lake with good grayling fishing. I brought the fly rod along and the weather was perfect. I landed a few and lost a few, but as I stood in the sunshine, casting into the bluish green waters, I looked around and was amazed at Gods creation. The fact that this type of scenery and solitude is still available for us to enjoy is unbelievable. There were four Dall sheep Rams bedded on the side of the mountain above me watching. It was a great day and a good way to tire out the pups.
We have some friends that will be watching the dogs while we're gone, hoping all goes well with that. They're growing fast! Brooks and Denali have become best of friends and rarely stop playing together. Denali's sled harness arrived last week and she is already comfortable with it on. We had her pulling some light weight this week and continue with their command training.
Last Saturday we took our first hike up the Mount Alice trail with the dogs and our friend Josh. It's a fairly intense hike with a lot of elevation gain in a short distance. Once we cleared treeline, the views were spectacular. From the crest you can see all of Resurrection bay, Seward and up the Resurrection river valley. I chose not to bring my rifle and bear tag along since the foliage is so thick right now it's hard to spot the bears on the mountainside. Bad move! Shortly after sitting down to rest and glass the opposite mountainside, we spotted an extremely large boar black bear. He worked his way down to the valley where we lost sight of him. Soon after, I looked to our right and he was standing 50 yards away looking at us. He bounded into the alders and disappeared. We figured he was headed away fast. It turns out that he really wanted to get around us and ended up reappearing and crossed the open hillside 100 yards away. Very exciting. Kris and I decided to head back up there on Sunday. This time I brought the hunting stuff. Of course we didn't see any bears. We did continue around a rock ridge on a different trail and ended up walking the rock spine that leads to the Mt. Alice peak. It seemed relatively safe until I walked over to the edge to see what kind of slope was on the other side of the spine, it was a straight down cliff of about 200'. We kept the dogs on a leash until we were safely away from that area. Great day, great hike.
Kris was finally able to start her new job on Tuesday. She could tell right away that it's going to be a great fit with great people. I've been enjoying the summer so far. Lots of fishing, and working around the new cabin. On rainy days we've been working on building a dogsled. The sled is nearing completion and will be waiting for the first significant snowfall.
The plans for building our new cabin are coming along well. I met with an excavator this week and he'll be digging the hole in late July. We're hoping to get the foundation in and the first floor deck on by winter. Next spring we'd like to begin framing it up. The 200 sq. ft. cabin we're in right now is cozy, but the long winter may change that ;).
I'm going to sign off now and head out for some more salmon and then final packing. Hope to see you all soon. God Bless!
We were so thrilled to have Jake and Casey visit us, especially since this was their first time in Alaska. Fun to share the Last Frontier with our kids for nine days. Unfortunately, it had been such a dry winter and spring that there was a large wild fire burning through the Kenai Peninsula. There was lots of smoke and ashes in Anchorage but did clear up near Seward. The fires have since been put out, but did end up burning 200,000 acres. Thankfully, no homes or lives were lost.
Doug and I had been looking for Alaskan Husky pups for some time with no luck. Of course the week before the kids arrival, we received an email from an Iditarod racer/sled dog rescue we'd emailed. She was looking to find a home for one puppy. We were happy with this news, making plans to meet on the weekend we were to get the kids. Then she emailed again asking if we'd be interested in an 8 month old pup who's owner couldn't find an apartment in Anchorage that would allow dogs. We had intended on getting two sled dogs at some point and decided to get them both. Kind of comical going to Anchorage the two of us, heading back to Seward with the six of us. The young pup is Brooks, the 8 month olds name is Denali.
Our first full day together, we hiked on Lost Lake trail. It is a beautiful hike with the potential of seeing black bear to hike after. We decided to take Denali along hiking since she has a lot of puppy energy. It went well, she was a little nervous around new people and dogs, but adjusted quickly. We've come to the conclusion she may have been mistreated at her previous home due to the fact she freaks out when we get out the broom and gets scared easily with men and other new people. She's been with us two weeks now and has really settled into her new life. It's been exciting watching her relax and trust us more and more.
The red salmon run is on in Seward. The four of us went out for the first time, a learning experience for us all. Lots of people lined up, ripping a treble hook/sinker through the water, trying to snag a salmon. The guys caught a few, Casey and I decided to go back to cabin to pack and play with pups. Doug and I have since caught about 40 fish we've gotten in the freezer. Feels good to get fresh healthy meat and put it up for winter.
Spent part of our time packing up and moving to our new cabin. The four of us plus two puppies packed into 200 sq. ft. was kind of comical. Luckily, it was only for three nights. The move went well, took a little longer then I had anticipated. Casey was a huge help with a positive attitude which kept me going. Often times the guys were out fishing or hiking rough terrain in search for bear. They had some exciting stories but no bear, memories were made.
Casey and I spent an afternoon going to Turning Heads Kennel for a tour. They are located on Exit Glacier Rd, and were kind of our neighbors. Travis and Sarah Beals run the kennel and train their dogs for racing. Travis has run the Iditarod now three times. Sarah is hoping to run her first Iditarod next winter. Sarah gave us the tour and then a nice dog sled ride through trails in their woods around kennel. A really nice family and operation.
We also hiked later in the week to Crescent Lake. It's a 7 mile hike with a Forest Service cabin to rent and spend the night at the lake. It was a great hike, off the beaten trail with lots of amazing mountain views. We didn't see any other people and were able to take both dogs off their leashes and just let them run along. Fun to watch, lots of puppy energy! On the way out the next day, Brooks was tired and we put her on top Casey's backpack. So cute!
The next day we had to get the kids to the airport for a 5am flight. We enjoyed having them, and are looking so forward to seeing them more in a couple weeks. We are excited to visit Wisconsin and to see many of our family and friends! Will be hard going through all our personal belongings and trying to decide what to keep. We will then be having a moving sale at Doug's parents home June 27-28.
We were blessed to have Larry and Jean Kappers along with Daryl and Judy Hoffmann pass through Seward. They were here from Saturday night to Tuesday morning. We enjoyed having them join us at church, they came over for a tour of our cabin, we hiked out at Exit Glacier, went to Le Barn Appetit for their famous crepes and then to Avtec for a tour of Doug's work area. Monday we enjoyed a Wildlife Boat tour and dinner at Ray's. It was lots of fun! Neat people we got to know a little better. It was a real treat to see familiar faces!
Doug has wrapped up his semester with students. Graduation went well and he was happy to meet the students families. In fact, one family went on a halibut charter and brought over some fresh fish for us. This week he is finishing up a few extra prep days, Friday will be his last day.
I'm finishing up my time with the courthouse this week. I continued to keep my eyes open as it wasn't a great fit. I will be working full-time at the Providence Medical Center here in Seward in the billing department. I'm excited about getting back into the medical field. I loved my job and coworkers so much in WI that they've set the bar quite high and it's tough to find that same kind of feeling anyplace. Hopefully Providence will be a better fit for me. My good friend Cece works there already and told me about it, will be nice to work with her.
We have sold our house in Wisconsin and closed on that last week. Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen things, we won't receive as much payment as we were hoping for from the sale. It was still good to sell and figure out where we go from there. We did find a nice piece of land to buy about 6 miles out of Seward. It has a 200 square foot cabin on it that we will stay in until we are able to afford to build a modest cabin. It may take us a bit longer, but hopefully between us both working fulltime it won't take to terrible long. Never thought we would downsize from 400'! Crazy! We will be moving into the new shack in the next week or so. Shouldn't take much as we've been renting a furnished cabin. We just need to move our personal things. Will then need to figure out what else we need to get for the new place. I know we'll for sure need to find a stackable washer/dryer and a small chest freezer to store our fish.
The salmon haven't started running as of yet, but hopefully soon. We've heard the Sockeye usually start running middle of May or so. We can't wait to catch our own meat and start putting it in the freezer. I've had a hard time remembering the different types of salmon up here, and learned an easy way from the boat captain yesterday. Look at your hand, your pinkie is first and that is for the Pink Salmon, next is the ring finger which often times has silver on it, so that's for the Silver Salmon. Next the big middle finger, the King of fingers, for the King Salmon. Next is the finger you'd use to sock someone in the eye, the Sockeye Salmon. Lastly, is the thumb which rhymes with Chum, for the Chum Salmon. Bam! I now can remember the different species of Salmon up here in Alaska:)
We experienced a second earthquake about a week after our first. It was a 5.5 out of Anchor Point, which is about 50 miles away. It happened in the early morning while we slept. Felt strange waking to the shaking of our cabin. We weren't too concerned as it was a pretty mild rattle/shaking. Still kind of a neat thing to experience as we've never felt these before in our lives. Apparently, Alaska can have up to 24,000 earthquakes a year!
We are so excited to have our kids coming up here for a visit. They will be coming in on Sunday, May 25. What is extra great is we are both off work the next week as I'm starting my new job the following week and Doug will be on his summer break. We are looking forward to some good quality time together, hiking, fishing, bear hunting and just enjoying the beauty around us.
Thanks for the continued love and support! We pray all is well with you. Blessings!
Can't believe it is May already! Time has flown! Doug is wrapping up his semester by having a cookout with his students today for lunch. Then tomorrow is graduation. Several students have family traveling here from other areas of the state for the ceremony and to enjoy Seward for the rest of the weekend.
Work for me as a Deputy Clerk continues to go better the more I learn. I am the traffic/jury clerk. So I process traffic citations, receipt money, set up people for trial that want to contest a ticket, update jurors according to their questionnaires, also in-court clerk at traffic trials, etc. Its been kind of neat to put faces with the names of the different Alaska State Troopers whose tickets I update. Sadly, just last week a couple of Troopers were in Tanana(remote village) with an arrest warrant. During the arrest process they were fatally shot. It was a sad week throughout the state.
Last Saturday I was able to run in the Pink Cheeks Triathlon, as a member of a relay team. Because Tim and Cece are both from Washington, our team name was the "Cheese Hawks"! It was a beautiful day, high 50's to low 60's and lots of sun. Most years it is apparently sideways rain and 40's, so we were happy to be part of the exceptional weather.
After that we came back to the cabin to pack for an overnight backpacking trip. Since the forecast was clear, we decided to go for it. We hiked into Tonsina creek, then 'bushwacked' our way through a valley that led to waterfalls. We were scouting for bear for Casey's upcoming hunt. We went through lots of Devil's Club, deadfalls, and rivers. It was a journey with lots to see. We were even lucky enough to see a couple sets of brown bear tracks here and there. Not enough to worry me, but kinda cool to see. Better the tracks than the actual bear;) When we got near the falls it was amazing to see the force of the water coming down the mountainside. We also noticed an old gold miners abandoned cabin. Can't imagine the work that went into hauling materials and building something in there, so far off the grid. We set up camp on a sandy, gravel bar between a couple splits of river back towards Tonsina. Beautiful to sit around our campfire while glassing the mountain sides around us. We were happy to see at least one nice black bear feeding up there, although it was a distance away, fun to watch. We slept well, and packed up camp by 8am. Another journey getting out as it had been so nice the previous days, causing lots of melting, which made the rivers deeper and tougher to get through. Needless to say we ended up pretty wet from the knees down, Doug was smart and wore his gators which helped him. We had been nominated for the cold water challenge so we decided to do it while we were wet and dirty already. We plunged into Resurrection Bay, unfortunately the tide was out, so we had to go extra far over slippery rocks to get to deeper water. Oh well, added to the invigorating experience I guess!
We then spent the afternoon with laundry and hanging things out to dry. We spent some time with our neighbors and friend Josh came over too. Nice just hanging out relaxing and chatting. About 9:00pm we felt the whole cabin shake. It took just a second to realize we were having an earthquake! Alaska apparently has many, but this was our first noticeable one. Luckily, it was 40 miles away and a 4.9, so wasn't a big deal here.
Blessings to all!
We've been slacking on updating the blog, for that we apologize. The weather here in Seward continues to get better and better every day. We had an extremely easy winter here and as the days grow longer the weather is getting sunnier and warmer each day. It's been anywhere from 45 to 60 degrees here the last week or so.
The school year is flying by. As I write this, there are only 7 class days left before they graduate. It's been a great semester, very rewarding and enjoyable. With the end of the year comes alot of extra work, writing up training summaries, filing records, and of course trying to fit in the rest of our curriculum. May 9 is graduation day, and it will be a small
'ceremony'; that takes place in our classroom with snacks to follow.
This weekend Kris is participating in the Pink Cheeks Triathlon. She will be running the 5K portion, CeCe will bike 10K, and Tim will swim 600 yards. I offered to be the coach:) It should be a fun day Saturday.
Easter was quite different for us this year. We attended the community sunrise service where Kris sang in the community choir. After that we went out for breakfast with Josh, Emily is still living in Newtok fulfilling her teaching contract. Then it was on to the 11 AM Easter service which was very nice. After church we decided it was fitting that we hike the Resurrection River trail. This was a new trail for us and unfortunately we didn't bring our ice cleats. After a half mile of careful hiking on an icy trail we decided it best to turn around. About halfway back to the trailhead we had to ascend a section of trail that was all ice and extra slippery as it began to rain. I made the top of the hill and was extending a hand to Kris offering her help when it happened. She was one step from the top when her feet went out from under her. She proceeded to pull me off my feet and with her help I was propelled past her for a wild ride down the icy hill. We slid down the trail, over the edge into the forest, down the hill towards the river and I stopped when I hit an uprooted tree and a split second later I was sandwiched between the tree and Kris. Even after we were fully stopped I had to ask her if she'd let go of my hand. Luckily, there were no injuries and we both laughed hysterically once we knew we were okay. In fact, every once in a while Kris would just start laughing again thinking about it. We returned to the trail Monday evening with cleats and conquered it!
Wildlife sightings have been decreasing, haven't seen a moose since Easter Sunday. We've been glassing the mountains daily looking for the bears that are starting to wake up, but have yet to spot one. There has been some big ones, both brown and black bears, shot on the Kenai Peninsula in the last week.
We have booked our flight back to WI for June 20 and will return to Seward on July 7. Looking forward to that! We have some family and friends visiting for a few days in mid May, we're really excited for that. Our kids will be coming up here on May 25 for 9 days. We get to celebrate their birthdays and spend quality time hiking, fishing and of course, black bear hunting. We have a forest service cabin rented for 1 night when they're here. It's a 7 mile hike in and is located on a beautiful glacial lake. A great area to fish, hike, hunt and explore. We are just excited to spend quality time together!
The daylight continues to grow. It is getting dark here around 10pm and light by 6am. Nice to be able to take a walk yet at 9:30 if one is so inclined :)
We've been seeing moose again the last few days. In fact, yesterday our neighbor Brooke and I were taking a walk around our loop, and she is paranoid about being attacked by them. As we were finishing our walk, talking about moose, low and behold there is one 20 yards off the road munching on branches looking at us. We now have a second bike and have been trying to use them as often as we are able. Last night we decided to go for a ride up Exit Glacier Road. On our way back we had to slow up as there were two moose on the side of the road eating. We were able to scare one off, the second one wouldn't leave so we had to bike fast by him. Doug is trying to decide how well he could shoot a handgun off a moving bike:)
On Monday evening we were invited to a cookout at our friend Josh's cabin. His wife Emily was visiting from the bush village of Newtok, where she is finishing her teaching contract. We had a fun night getting to know some new people in the area. We met a couple that lived in a treehouse in the hills of Eastern Tennessee for two years. They left Los Angeles to escape the rat race. The treehouse was 150 square feet and off the grid, with two young kids (our cabin isn't so bad).
Doug spent this week working on two community job sites with his students. Hanging and taping drywall at a church and a shop, both of which were great experiences for the guys. There is only three weeks left in the semester, lots to do in little time. Next week, Tim and Doug will be traveling to Palmer for a career fair. They will be setting up an AVTEC booth to market the programs they have to offer. Might even have to stop at the new Cabelas in Anchorage, it's Alaska's first one.
I've been continuing to learn a lot in the court system. They had a trial start last week Monday. I was very involved with the jury; setting things up for them, filling out paperwork, updating records and getting lunch while they deliberated the final day. Unfortunately, only one clerk is in the courtroom during the trial so I couldn't just observe. It was all very interesting as Seward typically doesn't have many cases that require a jury. It was fun for me to work with the jury and get know some more faces from the area. One morning I had dropped Doug off at work and had some time before I needed to be at work. I parked by the Sea Life Center to just enjoy the look of Resurrection Bay in the morning. I couldn't believe how many boats of all sizes were going by. When I asked about it at work, the judge went and talked to the Alaska Fish and Game Trooper who also works on the second floor. He said AVTEC had just completed a course about 'Oil Spill Response' and the boats were all part of a drill to see how they'd react. Fun for me to see.
Friends Tim and Cece were looking for a third person to be on their relay triathlon team, so I committed to running the 5K portion. I'm excited to participate as it gives me a reason to get out and exercise. Luckily, they are wanting to do it for the fun like me. Perfect!
I was thinking about Resurrection Bay and how it inspires us daily. We are so thankful for the sacrifice our Lord and Savior has made for us. To quote a card we recently received: Trees blossom, flowers bloom...we celebrate the empty tomb. Our Savior lives and reigns as King...let every heart rejoice and sing! May the beauty of the season and the miracle of Easter fill your heart with joy!
It's been a fun and crazy week here in Seward. On Monday they were doing an all day movie shooting at Lowell Point. They advertised for as many people to show up for extras as they could get. Kris had off due to an Alaskan state holiday, Seward's Day commemorating Alaska's statehood. I dropped her off at the shoot at 7:30 AM and went to work. She spent the day as a background extra in many search and rescue scenes, was able to watch a pod of Orcas swim past in the bay, and even got to meet one of the stars, Cary Elwes (Princess Bride and Liar Liar). About the time work ended for me she sent a text asking if I would drop by after work and hang around until 7:30 PM when the shoot was supposed to finish. I headed over after work and proceeded to dive into the leftover lunch that was set out for the extras. Around 5:30 they asked all the extras to assemble together to prepare for the next scene. The assistant director pointed at me in the crowd and asked if I'd come forward, of course I did. She told me I was going to be in one of the scenes and I needed to go to a second shoot on Wednesday afternoon wearing exactly what I had on then. The next one and one half hours I spent doing multiple takes with 5 of the movies main characters, Cary Elwes being one of them. It was an awesome experience, getting to know the actors and joking around between takes. The actors have been in many different TV shows such as Breaking Bad, Castle, CSI, Grimm and a few others. Needless to say after spending all day as a distant background extra, Kris didn't see the humor in me getting picked for that scene in such a short time. But to ease the pain I told her I'd bring her to the Oscars with me. My part in the movie was to help carry the of the characters off the mountain on a stretcher and place her in the ambulance. I carried the stretcher with the main characters of the movie. I was even able to hang out in the actors tent and have access to the "good" food. After that scene I headed up the mountain a ways and spent another hour filming a search scene with the same crew. On Wednesday we both showed up in a different location and watched some scenes being filmed and then took part in a few more search scenes. Wednesday's location was on an extremely steep section of Mount Marathon. It made filming interesting just trying to keep your footing as you went up and down during the takes. All in all it was a once in a lifetime experience and we're glad we had the chance.
Moose continue to show up everywhere now. We've had a cow and calf hanging around our yard almost everyday, sometimes bedding down next to the driveway. Fun to watch but we keep our distance. The moose drop to lower elevations at this time because the bears are starting to come out of hibernation in the high country and I guess they don't feel like hanging out with the bears, go figure.
Kris spent a couple afternoons ice fishing late this week with a lady she met at the photo shoot. It was nice to have fresh fish again.
Work is going well for me, only 4 weeks left, it sure flew by. I've built great relationships with the students and am excited about how far they've come in their construction knowledge.
Kris' work is going well also. She's getting set for a big trial going on this week at the courthouse. Part of her duties has been working with the jury pool, and since 120 will be showing up in the morning, she'll be busy.
We're becoming more comfortable and active in the Methodist Church. We were able to join the pastor and a few other members a couple weeks ago to worship with the residents at Rock Haven. It is a facility for the elders of the community. The local churches take turns leading a Sunday afternoon service for the residents. It was a nice way to help and feel more part of the church family.
We thank you for all the thoughts, prayers, and well wishes! God's blessings!
We've had several moose sightings...finally! I was lucky enough to see a cow moose munching on some willows, just before I got to the dump last Wednesday afternoon. As I approached, another vehicle was pulled over, man standing on the side of the road looking over into brush. I glanced to see what he was looking at, and saw her too. He and his family moved up here from South Carolina last fall. We both watched her and took a couple pictures. Yesterday, Saturday, we spent the day in Anchorage going to 'the Great Alaska Sportsman Show'. Just before we got to town, we could see 5 moose in Potter Marsh. Then, as we were leaving Costco, we watched as a moose crossed the highway....in the crosswalk! Had to laugh at that one, especially as it reminded us of the beginning of the TV show Northern Exposure. At the end of the day, we drove back to Seward. On our quiet road, about 100 yards before our driveway we come upon a cow and her calf. Nice to be able to see these moose from the vehicle, and get some pictures.
The Sports Show was interesting with lots of vendors promoting their products or services. They offered several seminars, we went to those that interested us. I went to canning and preserving wild meat, salmon filleting and first aid in the wilderness. Doug went to salmon flies, meat care in the field and float trip planning. It was a full day, especially with Costco and Fred Meyer in there too. On the was home, we noticed a stretch of mountains that had ski tracks coming down them. Apparently, avid skiers will backpack with their skis on their back to the top of these high peaks and ski their way down! It's amazing to think how much time and work it must take them to get up there.
We spend a few nights at the Seward library this week. Tuesday night was book club, we read 'Devil in the White City'. The book is about the World Fair built in Chicago in the late 1800's. On Thursday night, they hosted a night remembering the 1964 earthquake here in Seward. Many parts of Alaska were affected, especially along the coasts. Dan Seavey and a few others told of their memories and experiences of that time 50 years ago. On Friday night they had author Walter Stahr who wrote the book 'Seward, Lincoln's Indispensable Man'. He talked about William Henry Seward and his influence on Abraham Lincoln as his secretary of state. We learned John Wilkes Booth and his colleagues attempted to kill Seward as well as Lincoln the night Lincoln was shot. Seward was also responsible for the buying of Alaska from Russia.
Since it has been getting nicer, and we do only have one vehicle, we've been looking for a used bike. Fortunately, today we saw one online and met them this afternoon to look at it. We'd had church then a potluck to follow today. Worked out well since they wanted us to stop over after 2:00. We arrived at their house, turned out it was someone who goes to the same church we've been attending. We'd just seen them! Ended up with the bike, a couple fishing poles for snagging and a fishing net. Kinda funny!
We wish you all the best! God's blessings!
We just got home from the Methodist church, its a beautiful, sunny 40's kind of day here. Days are getting longer, light at 7:30am and sunset isn't until 9:00 or so. Loving the longer, light nights!
My job at the courthouse continues to get better each day. A very challenging job with lots for me to learn, lots of variety in a day. Luckily, my coworkers have been very patient and good teachers. I learned also the Clerk of Courts who hired me, attended Concordia in Ann Arbor, small world.
Doug had a day of meetings in Bethel this week. Bethel is a village of 5000 people, located 400 miles southwest of Anchorage. It's also a hub for 56 interior villages. He and a coworker drove to Anchorage one afternoon, boarded a plane and got to Bethel about 9:00pm. They stayed the night in a hotel, had a full day of meetings and didn't get back to Seward until 3am, in time to sleep a bit before class at 8am. He had a long day, but enjoyed getting to see Bethel and meeting some interesting people along the way. Ironically, he ended up meeting a man who's father was the Oostburg Christian School principle for 4 years back in the 60's. His last name was 'Oosterman' if that's familiar to anyone.??
We enjoyed following the Iditarod this year, especially since Dallas and Mitch Seavey's kennel is just up the road less than a mile from us. Dallas ended up winning the toughest Iditarod in history. Veteran's interviewed all agreed it was the craziest, toughest race they'd run due to stormy, windy weather and areas of dirt trail.
The last couple Saturday's we've enjoyed taking our coffee down to the Seward harbor, watching the sun come up over the mountains, boats, and sea life. Last week we watched a sea otter swimming and playing close up, then he swam up to part of the dock between a couple boats and jumped up on the carpet and fell asleep in the sunshine. So cute! As we walked around to the far docking area we came across a fishing boat uncovered with their fishing rods and tackle set up and nobody around. Not the norm. As we got to the other side of the boat we saw a sign on the side saying 'Sugar Mountain Charters' the name of the movie being filmed here! They must've been ready to film, kind of fun! I got to spend an afternoon as an 'extra' at a filming in a local church. I enjoyed seeing how much work goes into a movie. I also was lucky to meet more new faces. I sat next to our pastor and got to know him better, also met an interesting gal who lives up in Moose Pass. Turns out she works for the U.S. Forest Service and specializes in human/bear encounters. I told her I recently read Dan Bigley's story and she said he's a good friend of hers. Russian River is her main focus, and said it's eerie as she is often standing in the spot Dan's attack happened.
Yesterday the local animal shelter hosted 'Skiesta'. It was a four mile ski/walk up Exit Glacier Road(closed to traffic) with 6 Mexican themed unmanned stations. Each station had a game, piñata filled with birdseed, Macarena, chips/salsa or pin the tail on the donkey. Just nice being outside while supporting local organizations.
It's been awhile since our last blog. We were experiencing some computer problems, and are finally able to access the site. Much has been happening since our last post.
On February 22 Kris and I headed off to Anchorage for a day in the big town. Our plan was to stock-up at Fred Meyers and Costco. Bulk food, and new clothes for Kris's job were our main focus. But the day wasn't chosen at random, it was also the first weekend of the 2014 Fur Rondy. This has been a tradition in Anchorage since the mid 1930's. After our shopping was complete, we parked downtown and walked to the start/finish line to watch the world championship of sled dog racing. It was really exciting watching these sprint racers take off and head down the streets of Anchorage. They race for 3 days in a row, 25 miles each day, with the winner determined by the best aggregate time. After watching all the racers start, we headed over to watch the live fur auction put on by the Alaska Trappers Association. I've never seen so many people wearing fur in one place, it warmed my heart :). After spending time at the auction we went back to the finish line and watched the racers return. Most of the racers were unfamiliar to us as we have always followed the distance racers, however one of my students had a relative running and Lance Mackey(4 time Iditarod winner) were in it. We were able to watch Lance run his dogs to his truck/carrier and feed his dogs. He seemed to have such a connection with them. After that I attended a Dall Sheep judging seminar and Kris did a little more shopping. The seminar was very good, I learned many tips on determining if a sheep is legal size to shoot. A quick stop at Red Robin for dinner and it was back to Seward. We also stopped along Turnagain Arm and filled some containers with fresh spring water that is piped from the cliff along the road.
On Wednesday morning I left Seward at 3:30 AM and headed for the Anchorage airport. The department head and myself flew to Dillingham (on Bristol Bay) for a meeting pertaining to rural facilities maintenance. It was nice seeing the town, but I'm glad I live in Seward. We flew back on Thursday morning and I was back in Seward by 3:30 PM. I remembered why I don't like those twin prop planes, they're like sardine cans with wings, and really loud.
This past weekend we spent Saturday driving around looking at available properties, and in the afternoon I took a hike with our friend Josh. In the evening we went over to our friends Tim and Cece for dinner. On Sunday afternoon we finally got out to do some ice fishing. It was on Grouse Lake, which is about 3 miles from our cabin. The fishing was spectacular. We caught and released many fish, and ended up bringing our limit of 10 fish home to eat. We caught sea-run Dolly Varden, anywhere from 8-22" long. We were joined on the lake by Josh, Tim, Cece and Barney the Wonder-Dog.
School continues to go well. We have been spending some of our time working at a local church doing some framing projects.
This is Kris, I'll just chime in here and thank you for all the prayers. I started my new job at the Seward Courts as a Deputy Clerk. It's a bit overwhelming, but the gals I work with assured me they all felt like that when they started also. It's a lot to learn, but I can see it will be a great fit. Feels good to be productive in that way again, and meet new people.
The weather here continues to be anywhere from 25-40 degrees. The days are now about 11 hours of light, getting better and better. Hoping things warm up for our family and friends in the Midwest soon! Blessings to you!
Well, it happened we finally had a chance to see the Northern Lights in Alaska! At 9:30 last night a friend who relocated here from Illinois text Doug to let him know the 'lights were dancing'. We flew around grabbing our boots, camera, gloves....and headed north further out of town. We knew we'd see more once we got into more open overlooks and away from streetlights and signs. As Doug is driving, we are both leaning forward looking up through the windshield enjoying the view when a cow moose crosses in front of us! Thankfully, we saw it and had time to slow down. I can't imagine hitting a moose could ever end well. We had lots of moose tracks around our driveway after fresh snow Sunday, but this was the first moose I've actually seen here. It was awesome to have that experience on the way to see our first northern lights sighting as well. I had brought both our big camera and our little SONY cyber shot. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten how difficult it is to take pictures in the dark with either. I know it's possible, I need to research how to do it. Thinking we need to use a tripod and make a few adjustments on the big camera. Being in the southern part of Alaska we don't get to see the lights as often as you'd think, also it needs to be a clear sky. As many of you know Seward is typically a wetter climate, often cloudy,rainy or snowing. Will hopefully be prepared better next time we have the opportunity.
A week and a half ago, we went hiking into a Box Canyon with our friend Tim and his dog Barney. There wasn't much snow, just a little ice here and there. As we were hiking over lots of rocks and ribbons of water, we kept looking up the sunny mountain side in the distance for goats. It looked like the perfect setting for them with the sun shining against it for warmth. Nothing. As we're heading back out of the canyon, Barney was running ahead along the shaded, closer side of the mountain. We heard him let out a cry, and saw he'd gotten hit in the nose with a small rock that had come down the hillside with other stones. We made sure he was okay, and started on our way. Doug was curious why those stones had happened to fall and started looking closer. Here he spotted 4 mountain goats about 100 yards up! They were somewhat hidden in the spruces and rock, but when they'd moved a bit had sent the stones rolling. A really cool sight, so close, and no camera. I'm learning we see more when I do not have a camera along. When I'm prepared with a camera, I don't see much, go figure.
We were happy to get out cross-country skiing this past Saturday. A mile from our cabin, they gate off Exit Glacier Road. People can then use the snow covered road for snow machining, snow shoeing, skiing, dog sledding and walking. It's so nice to not worry about vehicles and enjoy the quiet surrounding you. The next day we went snow shoeing back into Box Canyon, beautiful. Of course because we had the camera along we didn't see any mountain goats.
Also, we are rejoicing because I was offered a job at the Seward Courthouse. A deputy clerk position, 20 hours a week, starting March 3. An answer to prayer! Also, as I was at the Job Center taking a timed typing test for the job, I heard there is going to be a movie called 'Sugar Mountain' filmed here in Seward. They start filming in March and are looking for extras. I sent in my email to say I'd be interested, we'll see. The town is pretty excited to have the movie being shot here.
The days continue to get longer, light at 8:00am and dark around 6:30pm. The temperatures are consistently between 15 and 35, not too bad.
We really appreciate you all! The notes, prayers, thoughts, messages and calls mean so much!!! God's blessings to you!
I can't believe we're 9 days into February already, the time sure has been flying by. For much of January the weather here in Seward was well above normal temps (many days in the 40's), but with that came lots of rain, even having flood advisories a few times. As January came to a close the rains stopped and the sun came out, offering a chance to enjoy some warm sunny days. This last week here we've crept back to normal daily highs, mid to upper 20's, and the sun continues to shine. This past Thursday forecasters were calling for 13" of snow and we were under a blizzard warning, however, we were blessed to wake up to 1/4" of snow and clear skies. Kris and I purchased cross-country skies the day we arrived back in October, and haven't been able to use them. If buying new skis is all it takes to keep snow and cold away we'll buy a new set every year. All kidding aside, some snow would be nice, so we could enjoy our skis and snowshoes.
Work has been going very well, each day I continue to meet new challenges. Getting to know the students has been a blessing, and watching them learn is truly rewarding. Kris is continuing to seek out Gods plan for her in the community, having submitted some resumes and interviewed for a couple positions. We continue to pray for Gods guidance.
We have been out hiking as often as possible. It's now getting light at about 8:15 AM and dark around 6:00 PM, we're gaining 5 minutes of light each day! Last weekend we hiked on the Iditarod north trail and took that to the South Fork of the Snow River. It was a beautiful hike with many moose tracks around. The following day we returned to the Tonsina creek area. This time we hiked to the second bridge and were able to walk out on the tidal flats. Yesterday we made a small loop on the Iditarod South trail. It was a beautiful day and very scenic hike, but the trails were glare ice with a dusting of snow on top. We took a few spills and have learned to do what we call a controlled descent, we're getting better at it! We did come across some fresh lynx tracks crossing the river, it's exciting as these are extremely shy animals and are rarely seen, so even finding the tracks was neat. Later in the day we went down to Resurrection Bay at low tide and did some beach combing. As we strolled down the rock strewn beach soaking in the sun, we were in awe of Gods creation. Craziest thing, as we picked through the rocks looking for what treasures the receding sea left behind, we heard what we thought was a boat heading for the harbor. When we looked up we couldn't believe we were watching a jetski ride past us. That confirms it, definitely NOT a normal winter here in Alaska. They're even discussing moving the start of the Iditarod race to Fairbanks due to poor snow conditions in South Central Alaska. The weather report for the upcoming week promises to be another great one, sunny and mid 20's. Well, I guess we'll sign off now, we're heading out hiking soon. Take care and Blessings to all!
Can't believe how fast the month has flown by! We continue to enjoy the new areas to explore. This past Saturday we met with our landlord/realtor and looked at a few different properties. One of them had a small cabin on 1.5 acres, the others were just land approximately 1 acre each. It's fun to dream and think about where we may want to settle and possibly build our own home. Not that the cabin isn't working, it's just hard to spend on monthly rent when we could put it towards something. In fact, the land with a small cabin on it is half the size of the cabin we're in, so it'd be 200 sq. ft. Manageable, at least for a while. We pray for God's guidance as He leads us, as we continue to seek His will for us.
We heard how frigid it is back home in Wisconsin, crazy! Once again we are on/off rain typically in the upper 30's to 40's. Temps were even recorded at the Seward airport yesterday at 62 at one point!!! Who would've ever thought it would be this much warmer here in Alaska!!! Doug talked to a someone yesterday who said he doesn't remember it being like this in 50 years. Definitely not the norm here. In some respects I'm enjoying the mild temps but at the same time would like some 20's and snow to get out cross country skiing and snowshoeing. There is certainly time yet, I'm sure it'll come at some point. Here there is typically so much ice, our driveway was about 2&quot; thick ice. Luckily, that's even close to melted for the most part. Because it's a coastal town apparently they usually have a foot or two of ice by the time spring rolls around.
Tonight I am going to book club at the library. The book of the month was "WILD: from lost to found on the pacific crest trail" by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir about her solo hike as she struggled to put the pieces of her life back together. The next book I want to read is called "Beyond the Bear" by Dan Bigley. I've heard many rave reviews from family and friends at home. Doug was lucky enough to meet the author and hear his story in person at the library a few months back. The book is about how he learned to live and love again after being blinded by a bear. Can't wait to start his story!
The days continue to get a little longer, it's now light about 8.5 hours. We're getting there. Can't wait to see what it's like in June, hard to imagine. People here tell me it's hard to stop what you're doing and go to bed, when it's so nice and feels like its still afternoon.
I continue to look and apply for jobs. Today I had a phone interview for a retail manager of a gift shop here in town. It's seasonal and would be April to October. After talking to the owner, I realized it was way more than I wanted to be doing in the summer. They wanted the manager to hire, train, stock merchandise, schedule, deposits...basically work about 60 hours a week. She wants to talk to me Thursday about working as a clerk in their store, much more flexible for me too. Sounds like a fun way to meet people visiting.
We thank you for your continued prayers, love and support. We appreciate the communications we get through cards, texts, phone calls, facebook and this blog. You always brighten our days! Take care, stay warm and God bless you all!
Since arriving back in Seward after the holidays, I've handed off the blogging duties to Kris. I decided I should put up a post updating all of you on how work has been going for me. Classes began on Monday, January 6. I have a total of 6 students this semester. The teaching has been going very well, I find it's something I really enjoy. There are LOTS of things I need to learn and improve on, especially time management. During my planning for each days class I try to gauge how much time lecture, labs and quizzes will take. So far these tasks have gone faster than I projected, leaving me with extra time. It's this extra time I struggle with, but each day I grow more and more confident in planning. The students have been a blessing so far. They range in age from late teens to mid 30's, from bigger cities to interior villages. As I write this, I too have homework waiting, so I need to sign off for now. Thanks for your support. Blessings to all!
It's happening, slow but sure I'm getting to know the area. I've never been good with directions and finding my way on unfamiliar ground, but I'm doing it. I've been spending time working around the cabin in the mornings, then taking a nice walk in the afternoon. Our cabin is on Old Exit Glacier Road, I'm able to take it to Exit Glacier to make a big circle going past a beautiful area of Resurrection River flats. Every time I walk, I see something new and exciting to me. Last week as I was leaving our driveway, I saw the Seavey dog sled team out training on our road. There they were a team of 12-16 dogs pulling a four wheeler in neutral with a man calling directions to them. They circled around in a neighbors driveway then headed back the way they'd come. I don't know if it was any of the athlete dogs that will be running the actual Iditarod March 1, but so exciting to see either way. The Seavey family/kennels are located within a mile or so of us, and that's been exciting to us because we've always followed the Iditarod and it's racers. The Seavey name goes hand in hand with the Iditarod. In fact, Doug was fortunate enough to meet Dan Seavey at a book reading as he'd written a book about the first years of the race. Dan last raced in it in 2012, but his son Mitch and two grandsons continue to compete.
I've also been able to see many eagles, never get tired of that. Right up the road, perched at the top of a tree, so majestic! That same day, I spotted two coyote cruising around in the river flats too. Funny, I couldn't quite tell if they were coyote or wolves. I decided they were kinda small to be Alaskan wolves and Doug agreed after seeing my pictures. Another day they were using explosives up on Mount Benson, I'm told they do that to prevent avalanches. I could just feel the earth rumble with each explosion.
When we got here December 30, Doug thought it would be a good idea to take the trapping bait, out of the freezer and put it on the outside porch to store. Last week while he was at work I could here scraping outside around that bucket of fish. Assuming it was a dog I opened the door to scare him away, there was nothing there or even within sight! I closed the door and within a minute I was hearing the noise again. I quietly pulled a chair up to the door so I could look down from the small top window. What I saw was the cutest little ermine, trying to get piece of fish loose. Every time I'd tap on the window, he'd dive down in the bucket under some covering so I couldn't see him, then he'd work his way up to peek and make sure the coast was clear again! Funniest thing!!!
The weather here continues to be pretty mild. Usually the temperature is between 25 and 40 with some rain or snow. If it snows, it's warm enough it sticks to the tree branches and weeds so beautifully. The days are continuing to get longer, getting light about 9:15 and dark about 4:45.
We had a very nice weekend. Spent some time moving new furniture into Doug's office after getting some fresh paint on the walls. Saturday we were invited to a coworkers home to watch some football, lots of fun! After the Seahawks game, we took a walk out to the river near their house, what a view! Even got to see some moose tracks, we thought it was pretty neat. They said she has had to use a bb gun to get a moose away from her car so she could get to work. Another time a moose got mad and kicked their truck as he left their yard. Needless to say, they aren't big fans of moose, understandable!
Well, we continue to be thankful for all your love, prayers and support! Take care!!!
I like to think of myself as a good sport, but fitting two peoples belongings into a 400 square foot space is a challenge. I never felt we had an overabundance of room in our house in Wisconsin, but now I realize how much we indeed had! It's all about perspective I am seeing. As a child I used to love the 'Boxcar Children' books, stories of how four siblings survived on their own while they lived out of a boxcar. Gathering berries and small game for food and finding items to use as dishes, etc. Not that we are living off 'the grid', but I do find us making due with things we have instead of buying more. For example, I cut a fleece blanket in half and hand stitched a pocket to slide onto the two rods in our bedroom for curtains. As Doug finished hand sewing the fur hat to give a coworker. We are looking forward to catching fresh salmon and picking different types of berries, to get enough to freeze or can to use next winter. We both appreciate this kind of 'living off the land' and feeling of accomplishment this type of living gives us. It used to be canned venison, ground bear, walleye, strawberry jam, canned pickles, canned pears and homemade salsa in Wisconsin. It will be exciting to find different kinds of berries, catch different types of salt-water fish and Doug may even try a bit of hunting at some point;)
Sunday we attended the Baptist Church service located right in Seward, nice people and a great message. We got home, grabbed our pot of chili, cheese(got to represent WI), sour cream and cookies, and walked next door to watch the Packer game. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out like we wanted, but yet better than it could've. More importantly, it was great getting to know the neighbors a little better. He is with the Coast Guard and will be leaving later this week for a few months to Ketchikan. I told her I'd be more then happy to help with baby anytime. My heart goes out to them both and the challenges they will have in the time apart, especially with a 4 week old.
We are sorry to hear of the bitter, frigid temps you are experiencing in the Midwest. We figured it was about 50 degrees warmer here in Seward, Alaska. Who would ever think that would happen!
Take care friends and family, stay warm!!!
Greetings! We arrived safely in Anchorage Monday at 1:40pm Alaska time. We gathered our 10 checked bags/containers and took a shuttle out to the long term parking lot. We crammed everything into the back of our Ford Escape and drove over to Costco to see how much more we could place into every available space. Then it was south to Seward, through fog here and there and darkness falling upon us we made it here safe and sound.
It is a crazy feeling coming to a place where you know nobody. I miss home; my kids, our family and friends there already. I need to get out of my comfort zone now and start getting to know the area and the people that live here. Everyone Doug has met has been very nice and friendly and I'm anxious to slowly get to know people that enter my life here as well.
New Years Eve afternoon our neighbors came over with their sweet little 3 week old daughter and invited us over for dinner. Was so nice hang out with them, hold baby, and eat lentil soup and homemade bread together. They seem they will be super neighbors. They also have Dish Network and said we could come over to watch any football games as they are avid watchers and tune in to any and all playoff games. May have to bring a pot of chili and join them for the Packer game Sunday after church.
Doug and I also spent a couple hours in the afternoon snowshoeing into Meridian Lake just north of town. Was about 35 degrees and I soon realized I'd dressed too warm. Hard to know until you hike in different temperatures with different layers on to see what works for you. It also started raining lightly, when dressed for it, it wasn't bad, felt refreshing. I'm excited for all the new experiences, challenges, and opportunities for growth here. We also checked out an area he would like to possibly trap at some point, but the river was still open. He had planned on having me check on the ice, funny guy:)
Today Doug and I spent some time painting inspirational quotes on his classroom walls and will continue that tomorrow. Nice having some productive things to do as well as exploring the town. As I am typing this, Doug is hand sewing a fur hat for a coworker who could really use it. Maybe not today in the 40 degree rain, but eventually when it gets cold like Alaska is supposed to be.
Thanks for all the love and support! Blessings to all!
Well the first week of December has brought some nice mild weather here to Seward. It's been 30-35 degrees since the middle of last week. From what I'm hearing, Wisconsin is getting a good dose of ole man winter. Thursday night I attended the holiday tree lighting ceremony at the Alaska SeaLife Center. Santa arrived out front on a dog sled. It was fun watching the kids waiting for santa, decorating cookies,and singing caroles outside. The SeaLife Center is an excellent place to visit, interesting and informative. Class preparations are continuing nicely. Friday I made a trip into Anchorage to meet individually with the new Advisory committee members I had recruited. The meetings went very well and they will all be great assets on the committee. One meeting was with the Director of Facilities at UAA. He was kind enough to give me a tour of the facilities department. It was a very informative and enjoyable tour. The drive to and from the city was quite scary, the city of Anchorage was shut down on Thursday with an ice storm. Since these meetings had been scheduled well in advance and I wasn't sure when it would work again, I decided to go ahead with them. What would normally be a 2 hour drive one way turned into a 3.5 hour drive. Thankfully the temps stayed high enough Friday to keep the rain from freezing. Saturday was trapline day, I had company (Josh) join me for this weeks check. Josh is an Illinois native who moved to Alaska in the summer with his new bride, both fresh out of college. His wife had accepted a teaching position at a native village near the Bering sea. Josh recently accepted a job at the Correctional facility in Seward and moved here last week. We connected on one of the Alaska outdoor forums websites. He posted that he was moving to Seward, and needed some help with trapping. Of course with my high success rate so far, who better than to me to give him advice (I hope you caught that sarcasm). Anyway, Josh went along and again I caught nothing.But all was not lost, I met a great guy who enjoys all the same things as I do. He will be here without his wife until May, so we could also relate on that. He had many interesting stories about his 4 months living the village life. The rest of the weekend consisted of Church and some additional exploring the forests around Seward. Blessings to all!
Thanksgiving weekend has quickly come and gone. I had a very nice Thanksgiving, I went to the American Legion Hall with a co-worker and his girlfriend. It was full of great food and fellowship. I spent half of the long weekend at work, just trying to make sure I have enough time to get everything ready by January. There was some time for enjoyment throughout the four days though. I spent part of that time working on my trapline. So far I haven't had any success in the form of catching anything, but I'm really enjoying those times exploring the wilderness. The weather has settled into more of a winter pattern. Temps are in the teens and sunny, it's cold but refreshing. The wind has been strong the last few days, and I realize now why people keep telling me I need to move north of town farther. As soon as you're 1.5 miles north of the resurrection river the wind drops off drastically. Thankfully my forays on the trapline are about 15 miles north of the river. The radio station that I've been listening to since I arrived thankfully started playing Christmas music Thanksgiving night, I love it. Holiday decorations are starting to go up around town, and with the snow hanging on the spruce trees it's very festive. This upcoming weekend is Sewards holiday festival, should be lots of fun. There isn't quite enough snow to break out the XC skis yet, but it's getting close. There are many miles of maintained trails around Seward. Kris and I purchased our skis when we arrived in October so we'd be ready. I still haven't witnessed the northern lights yet. Unfortunately the best time to look for them is about 2:30 AM, that can be problematic. I do watch the aurora forecast site. One of these nights when they are supposed to be bright I'll have to set my alarm. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Blessings to all.
Another week has quickly flown by here in Seward. The weather has been interesting to say the least. In the last week we've had temps close to 50, then high in the single digits, snow, then rainstorm, then ice storm (closing schools), 6" of snow last night, and of course just when I finished clearing the driveway it started raining again and continues to rain as I write this. Prepping for the upcoming semester continues to go well. Many more things to accomplish, but very satisfied with whats already been done. Spent more time yesterday exploring the forest outside of town, it was an enjoyable Saturday. I also did some repairs on the cabin for the landlord.I was hoping this snow would stick around for awhile, I'm anxious to do some skiing and snowshoeing. I'm sure by April I will have had my fill. Starting to notice some holiday decorations going up around town, that sure is coming on fast. Thankfully with todays technology I was able to follow the opening weekend deer hunting activities of friends and family. This is the first time since 1978 that I was unable to be at deer camp. Definitely missed the comaraderie. Short week coming up with Thanksgiving, much to get done at school in a shorter time. Enjoy your Holiday, Blessings to all!
Another week has quickly flown by here in Seward. Work continues to keep me very busy, but things are falling into place nicely. The weather is starting to feel more like winter. This week is supposed to bring daytime temps in the teens, but clear skies. There is the possibility of snow late in the week. Right now the only snow is found north of town 10 miles, north of the pass, there is about 5" there. I was able to get out and spend the day in the woods yesterday, setting some traps and breaking more trails. This past Thursday I attended the presentation by Dan Bigley on his book "Beyond The Bear". It was very enjoyable and inspiring. I continue to meet many new people, and forge new friendships. It's amazing the number of Wisconsin people I find here. Every day I meet at least one person who has their roots in the cheese state. In fact, on Wednesday I met a fellow Avtec employee that asked where in WI I moved from (he's from Green Bay), I said a small town named Oostburg assuming he probably hadn't heard of it. His reply was "Oh I know Oostburg, my cousin just married someone from Oostburg". Small world. Blessings to all!
It's been a few weeks since an update,so I'll give it a go. The new job is going very well. It's going to be a challenge, but very rewarding. My time began with cleaning out and setting up my new office. Once that was complete I started working on the curriculum, textbooks, and related course work. This has been quite an undertaking. Each day I try to complete a small goal, it makes the enormity of it all seem smaller. Tomorrow I begin work on setting up the course advisory committee. Once that's in place I will be ordering the textbooks. The other area that will be a challenge is getting the physical part of the course ready. This includes the shop, materials, and tools necessary. On a normal day I'll try spend at least one hour working on cleaning the shop (can only stare at the computer so long). All these things will fall into place as long as I remain diligent and focused.
Off of work, things are going well. I have met many nice people, the community is close knit and caring. On Nov. 9 I attended a book signing by local author Dan Seavey, chronicling his part in setting up and running the very first Iditarod race in 1973. When I thanked him for his presentation, he asked if he knew me, and of course I said "no I just moved here" where-in he said "we need to get together and get to know each other". An example of the community mindset here. On Nov. 14 I'm planning on attending another book presentation, this one by an anchorage man who 10 years ago survived a severe mauling by a brown bear (not far from Seward, Yikes). This book goes through the attack and recovery. How he has moved on, adjusted, and become a valuable part of society despite being permanently blinded by the ordeal. Looking forward to it! The weather is finally starting to level out. They are coming off of their second wettest fall in history, more than twice the normal rainfall. We've been seeing the sun much more this last week. Temps have been in the 40s. Many people have been inquiring if I've been doing any hunting or fishing. I haven't done either. The best fishing times are generally over. I do plan on getting out and setting up a snowshoe trapline eventually. I have done some hiking on the weekends. There are so many spectacular local trails. Last Sunday I did about 7 miles, seeing two different lakes. I really love hiking these trails, seeing fresh moose, wolf, coyote and bear tracks along them. I also spend alot of time just glassing the surrounding mountains, I never get tired of watching the numerous mountain goats as they jump from one cliff to another. Last week as I was making dinner, I looked out the kitchen window and there was an eagle sitting on the creek bank 20' away eating a salmon. Every time I looked out at him, he gave me that glare that said "back off", great time for my camera battery to be dead, ugh! Time to sign off, I'll try to update more often. Blessings to all!
Well, it's been a few days since my last post. Things have progressed nicely. The cabin is set up and cozy. Unfortunately I had to bid farewell to my best friend and wife until December 21. I will dearly miss her. As her and I thought about the time we would spend apart,we had a hard time comprehending the sacrifice so many men and women in our country have made and will continue to make as they said good bye to loved ones to serve their country. Our war vets made some amazing sacrifices leaving their families, THANKS TO ALL OF THEM! The weather here has jumped all over the place, from clear and sunny to snow to rain, all in hours, the sea sure does,"rule the roost" here. Kris and I were able to do some tremendous hikes before she left. There is definitely a learning curve to spending time in the outdoors here. It's clear that we're not at the top of the food chain. As Kris and I took off on a hike down a well maintained forest service hiking trail, we were excited. The trail went through moss covered old growth spruce and pines. It was absolutely beautiful. About 1/2 mile into the hike we noticed a days old Brown Bear track in the mud on the trail, about the size of a dinner plate. Since it was old, and there was only one track, we continued on. Shortly after we began to see many more tracks, and they were more recent. Since we didn't think to strap on our sidearms and hadn't purchased pepper spray yet, we decided to retreat (loudly).Needless to say, on all hikes after this, we were "packin heat".
Limited phone service, no TV (except DVD's) is something I will grow into. The local radio station has become my comfort, keeping me up to date on local, national, and world news. The music is awesome too (old country). Tomorrow I will begin to visit the local churches, there are 8 in town. Blessings to all!
We've been in Seward 24 hours so far and all is going well. The ride from Anchorage and moving in went very smooth. Our cabin is perfect, just the right size for us.As Kris was working on arranging the kitchen cupboards she looked out the window and noticed a silver salmon swimming up the creek 20 feet from our window.That was awesome!
It didn't take long for us to realize what an all encompassing role the sea plays in the life of this community. From the foods,to the weather,to the jobs,to the recreation. It's been raining on and off since we arrived,which we were informed was from the typhoon that struck japan 3 days ago and they just were hit by another that would track up here. Good thing Kris bought herself some brand new rubber boots this morning! Rubber boots are as common here as running shoes are in Sheboygan county.
Seeing "Tsunami Evacuation Route" signs through-out town may take some getting used,as will the frequent earthquakes.We always felt that the Oostburg area really had that small town feel about it,in fact we couldn't picture a place that felt smaller, until now.As I sat in the coffee shop reading "The Seward Journal", a small weekly newspaper, I came upon the section called "the police log". This section chronicled all the police calls received in the previous week period.These are very detailed reports including all peoples name, whether it was a warning for speeding, illegal parking,or over-indulging in late night fun. I tried to imagine how something like this would be received in Oostburg .Well I guess I need to sign off (gotta try to find the packer game on the web). Blessings to all!
Well, the day has finally arrived. My parents were kind enough to haul Kris and I and ALL our gear to O'Hare early this morning. Casey was home on fall break and able to join us. The ride and drop off went without a hitch. Bag check in was very quick,but security check point lines were long. We did have the enjoyment of watching our laptop get launched off the conveyor when it backed-up. Thankfully it was undamaged. Goodbyes are never easy, it's ironic,that as we said our goodbyes(to some that we only see once or twice a year)we realized how our mind finds comfort in having those we love close in physical distance, even though we may see them on rare occasions.Christmas break will be much more special this year as time spent with friends and family will be treasured.I must sign off now, boarding time is drawing near. Blessings to all.
Time has flown by since accepting my new career opportunity in Seward,Alaska .Kris,the kids and I have been living in a whirlwind. Packing, selling off our excess,winterizing things left behind, and spending time with friends and family. Through this crazy time we find ourselves realizing what an excess society we now live in. As we began going through our &quot;prized&quot; possessions it became evident how much we had accumulated, but more so, how little we needed a great percentage of these things.What a cleansing feeling it was to let this excess go. As I write this we are less than 2 days from flying out and God has been laying out our plans on a daily basis. Our housing is lined up, insurance and vehicle are getting close. We'll be flying up on October 18, Kris will return to Oostburg on October 25. I will fly back to Oostburg on December 21 to spend the Holidays with friends and family. On December 30 both Kris and I will fly to Alaska to live until returning to WI in June 2014 to see family and friends,then head back pulling a trailer up the famed AlCan highway. Blessings to all.