Monday, January 21, 2008

Backyard Bing

Sometimes, as parents, you just have to wait until the kids are in bed to really enjoy yourselves. Once they are tucked in and asleep parents can, being the adults in the family, enjoy some time together, doing things without the little ones around.

Tonight was such a night. The weather warmed just a touch, we had a short spell of drizzle followed by what can only be described as falling snowballs offering us all the makings of some good old fashioned late night parental fun.

And fortunately, we have photographic evidence.

My wife says he looks like Bing Crosby!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Proof Positive

We left Savannah Georgia on the 12th of December. Exactly 3 weeks later we arrived at Ft. Richardson, Alaska. Upon arrival we checked into the Army lodging and prepared for the required 6 year wait for a home on post. Buying a home here is not an option for us as our home in Georgia has not yet sold so we knew it would be an interesting wait until the housing office could find us a place. Imagine our surprise when I went in the next morning and they handed us the keys to a place for us to look at and see if we wanted to live there. Well, knowing that we are a family of 6, there is usually not much of a choice in these matters. So Tina and I headed over with the understanding that the next three years would be spent in a beautiful home built approximately 15 years before WWII. Typically, a home will only fit our family if the floor tiles are mix and match, creating something of a horrific plaid, and the bathroom is one big rust stain. This is the reality of military housing. However, knowing that we really had no other options, we swallowed hard and drove to what would in all likelihood become our home. The wheels of change move slowly but move they do. What we found is nothing short of miraculous...5 bedrooms a 2 car heated garage and space for all.

Once the tears of joy dried, the reality that we'd be living out of our suitcases for the next 200 months while we waited for our household goods to arrive set in. It's a nice home so we figured we would would have no problem living in a mostly empty house. Then the wheel moved again. Two days later we were informed that our stuff had arrived and was ready for delivery. The next day we had a million boxes strewn about. Still, we had our stuff and it seemed life would soon be normal again.

If I didn't mention it, we're in Alaska. It's cold here! Like Absolute Zero cold! Fortunately I don't have to walk far to work. Even so, if I do walk and leave the trusty Caravan for Tina, I can count on not feeling anything exposed and almost everything not exposed by the time I reach my destination 300 yards away. We shipped my little car the day we left Savannah and anticipated that it would arrive in Alaska on or about April 13th. But that wheel keeps moving. Only a couple of days later, my car arrived. So we drove the 5 miles to the pick up point and got it followed by a nice spin out on the ice resulting from a quick yank on the emergency brake while taking a deserted corner. I do not recommend this. It was, nevertheless, fun. And I have my car.

So our first week here has been nothing short of a logistical miracle. The Army does not move very quickly. But in our case it did. Many times I've told others that God is bigger than the Army. That He can do things the powers that be say can't be done. Like open a beautiful new home the day after arriving at a new post. Or like getting your household goods within a week. Or getting your car delivered 17+ years ahead of schedule. Now I have proof.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Yukon, Ho!

We finally landed at Haines Alaska yesterday just before noon and after getting something eat decided to spend the night and get an early start the next morning. As the day wore on I was struck by the absolute beauty of the place. It is simply gorgeous. I walked to the local auto parts store to pick up some tire chains to ensure we made it to Haines Junction today. As I walked back to the hotel I remember thinking, "Man, what a beautiful sunset. Awesome! Unbelievable! Hey wait, it's only 2:30pm!" So it was that we settled in for a long winters nap when no one could sleep. Keeping 4 kids and 2 dogs mentally intact in a small hotel room overlooking complete blackness is no small task. But we did it. And after getting everyone to bed later that evening we got some rest in preparation for an early start today.

This morning, we linked up with another couple headed for Anchorage and began the slow caravan to wherever we could get by evening. The roads were icy so I put on my chains and proceeded to head for the summit. All went well until we broke the 25 MPH mark. At that time the hounds of hell began to scream and they sounded remarkably like something trying to rip my front fender off from underneath. Living in the south for so long I'd forgotten that besides assisting with traction, tire chains produce approximately 3 billion decibels. And once I got past screaming to communicate with my wife riding shotgun, I began to enjoy the scenery.

Remember the time you were driving through the Yukon and you happened upon about 25 Bald Eagles roosting in trees and flying and feeding beside a nearby frozen river? Me too! That was this morning and it was surreal. And it was just the beginning of a day filled with new sights that I have only heretofore dreamt of. We saw Eagles, sled dog teams, scenic vistas that would make Ansel Adams stop in his tracks. We even saw some wild Canadians in their natural habitat. A very exciting day. We passed trough towns like Haines Junction, Beaver Creek, and Tok. All these places make you wonder why anyone would put a town there! At one point the gauge in our car said that it was 28 degrees below zero outside. That's not a real measurement until you actually experience it. We stopped and got out out for a second when it was a balmy -15 degrees and I actually felt my pancreas begin to harden. Within a few seconds, I couldn't feel my brain! So we jumped back in the car, cranked the heater, and within 3 hours began to thaw.

Finally we pulled into Tok, AK just in time to get dinner at the Grumpy Griz Cafe where they serve a pretty mean chicken fried steak. After dinner we got a hotel room, unloade the trailer and got busy getting ready for bed. As I think back on the sights and events of today, one lesson comes clear, rolling across the Yukon. At 28 degrees below zero, nothing in a U-Haul trailer is safe. Shampoo, hand lotion and even air freshener freeze solid. So, tomorrow we head on into Anchorage. With any luck, we'll arrive with semi-gelatinous toothpaste.