Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Licensed Alaskan Driver

Hitting milestones for Nolan has been a bit challenging as we full-time RV.  He did get his driver's permit and as soon as we arrived in Alaska, he made an appointment for the driving test. 

I know he could have done this about a year earlier if we had been near Alaska, and I'm grateful for his good attitude. Today he passed the test with flying colors and is now a licensed Alaskan driver.

As for those other milestones - first job, taking SAT - we're on it!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Moving to the Valley

Across the road - by the picnic table - is site 12....which has been our home at the Black Spruce Travel Camp on JBER for the past 28 days.  I loved the feel of being out in the woods - vs a paved parking lot.  Today, we moved. 

We discovered it is difficult to find RV spots in July/August in the Valley. Caravans RULE in Alaska this time of year!🐽 We needed two spots for the next day.....for undetermined amount of weeks. We needed a 3rd spot beginning on the 30th or 31st.  We had stayed previously in a park in the Valley. They remembered us, and after telling us there was nothing, they patiently listened to my sob story about still waiting to close on a house and our kids arriving in Alaska with nowhere to live. They are good guys. We moved back to "sardines in a can," "Green beans in a jar,"  or "sausage in a pack" camping. (Pick your metaphor.)

Image result for sardine can

Image result for sausage on styrofoam tray
 Yep, that's about right. 
Uchi packed in with folks beside and behind us - but nothing other than goats in front 
WHY did we choose this?  We only had 2 days left at JBER.  We needed more spots for the kids. The advantage of this park is that there are no bears in our campsite or at our picnic table. We may even grill if the rain lets up. I was alarmed by the screaming kids, until I realized we are across from the neighbor's goat pen. Stacia immediately wanted goats. After 24 hours of co-living, we have all decided we don't need goats. Stacia still thinks a milk cow is a good idea - but we don't have space for cows.

Rob and Dollie brought their trailer over and showed us all it's nuances. Cory and his father are very comfortable, right next to us. We are so grateful for their giving hospitality!
Uchi - Cory is in the Coyote
Ian and Becky have offered their trailer for BreZaak and babies until the middle of August. Please, be praying with us that we have closed before the middle of August. Fall schedules are beginning and we wanted a relaxed school year.

Stacia comments, "Since when has a school year ever been relaxed?"

PSssst - we've heard from the boys who are driving BreZaak's stuff up from OR. They have been rerouted due to wildfires. Please pray they are able to make up time and not have any further delays.

Mr. Gingerbread Man on the Move

What could this mean? I've been hanging out with Arielle (and the other women from the female Gingerbread competition team). She seems to think I want to perch here....
Should I ride to Alaska THIS way? 
I know CoRielle bought a new car, but this doesn't seem to have the comfort features, to which  I'm accustomed.

Come to think of it, their whole apartment is in an uproar....I know you'll find this hard to believe, but there is NOTHING.LEFT.IN.IT.  I'm not one to complain, but I do think I had more fun in Mexico, than riding on this wheel guard....

Ah, shortly after this picture was taken Cory and the Tahoe/trailer LEFT.  Arielle moved to BreZaak's apartment.

I've discovered oddities here as well. Arielle is a bit sad. The apartment here is aflutter. Boxes EVERYWHERE.....and then Josiah showed up. A few hours later Jamin "flew in." I'm not sure about this "flying" stuff, but that's what I heard. Do humans fly? I can tell you Gingerbread men DO NOT FLY. We are sensible that way, if God had meant for us to fly, he would have given us wings, so they say.

What? Izaak is loading a MATCHING trailer.  Josiah and Jamin have left. They've taken 95% of the things from BreZaak's apartment with them.  I hear a lot of talk about Alaska, I see a few tears and lots of laughter. I'm not sure what it all means.

And wonder of wonders - look what I discovered in THIS apartment. They have one of THESE small human models. He seems a bit worried about me, but I have decided I'll protect him. If I stick close to him in all this madness, I'm sure won't be left behind.
Gideon (2 months) & Mr. Gingerbread man
BTW, I've spent the year with FEMALES as they were the winners of 2017 Gingerbread Competition, I'm happy to have contact with this young male.  I'm a tad bit worried about where I will be taken next.....I feel safe next to Gideon.

Stay tuned...for more Gingerbread man exploits - click the "Gingerbread Competition" category in the side bar.

The Boys Make a Quick Trip

Josiah flew out of Anchorage early yesterday morning for OR. 
Josiah and Gideon 
 Jamin flew out a few hours later and arrived later last night in OR. 
Such a smile! 
They did have a purpose to the trip other than meeting Gideon and having breakfast with my parents. They picked up BreZaak's household goods and began driving them up the Alaska Highway this morning.
Image may contain: outdoor

They hope to be back here on Friday. Meanwhile, Cory and his dad arrived in the Valley this morning. Arielle, BreZaak and the kids will fly in next Monday.

Dear friends are loaning us trailers for each of the kids' family's to stay in until we can close on the house.....things are moving right along. 

I wouldn't say the plan is being flawlessly executed,  but none-the-less we are thrilled as family trickles in. 

Semper Gumby!

Monday, July 24, 2017

WooHoo, Jamin!

Some things in life require a lengthy interview process. Some goals take a long time to reach....such as entering the Air Force Chaplain's corp....or entering the MARINES.

Step one was passing some tests.

Step two was a physical and various records. 

Step three was a PT test....Jamin broke the record on the running portion...at this point we realized he was probably going to be selected. πŸ˜‰ He worked on the pull-up portion.

Somewhere along the line he had leaped over several hurdles and was sworn in to the Marine Corp - but not really. He took an oath and then had to take another PT test and then his name/package was submitted to a board which would look at all who qualified and determine whom they wanted to move to the next level of the "interview." 

We were all taken aback at how fast this moved - and none of us were there for this part.....he graduated from A & M and took this oath the same day. 
Oath one in College Station 
 Then he waited. The next board was 20 July. The Officer Candidate School he would qualify for would start in September. In the other branches you enter the Officer Training - already an officer - and unless you wash out - you're in. In the Marines, OCS is part of the interview process. He isn't really a marine until he passes OCS and is sworn in at graduation. There is a high wash-out rate from OCS - what I'm saying is, it's not a given to be selected or to pass all the phases of the process.  Truly, "The few. The proud."

Today, 24 July, Jamin received word he has been selected to attend the September 2017 Marine Officer Candidate School.  And we were with him.....He  was told he was one of very few selected from the area. I believe the total number nation-wide is 108.
On the phone with leadership from College Station, TX
 Still on the phone....as we pulled up to the airport, prepared to say goodbye to him, he took notes on all he needs to get for the Marines ASAP. Multi-tasking at it's best.

We are proud of Jamin. He will be in Alaska until 9 September when he will fly to Quantico, VA for Marine Officer Candidate School (OCS).  He hopes to use his graduate degrees and be assigned to something or other in the spooky field.  That's all unknown at this point.

Jamin's Grandpa was a Warrant Officer in the Marines during WW2. As we drove off, Michael and I couldn't help comment on how proud Grandpa would be of Jamin following in his steps.

When you've asked if all the kids are moving to Alaska, we've hedged. Until Jamin received the call yesterday, we weren't sure if he would be staying here or moving elsewhere. It's ironic that the military originally brought us to Alaska.We've all found our way back....except for two the military will call away....Jamin, in the Marines and Krista, in the Air Force. Michael and I will have lots of places to visit Space A as the  years go by!

Well done, Jamin.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Whittier - the day we stopped fishing and began CATCHING!

Skunked!!!! But at least the drive is beautiful from Soldotna to Whittier. 
Nesting


Uchi and family patiently wait while I take photos of mtns and seagulls

We've been asked repeatedly up here, if we were "fishing or catching?" Aha - anyone can come fishing up here - but we wanted to be Alaskan Catchers. This goal kept us moving.

To get to Whittier you must drive through North America's longest Vehicle Railroad tunnel - the Whittier Tunnel. For our 38Ft RV/motorhome it was $22 for a round trip ticket.

Next, began the hunt for a spot to park while we fished....Josiah was going home Saturday night, but we planned to sleep over. There are no Fred Myers, Walmarts or Cabellas nearby to boondock. We heard there was a spot up Portage Glacier Road, but we didn't want to take the time to scout it out.  My RV parky ap showed, "Whittier Parking and Camping," to be our only option. It turns out this used to be Creekside Campground. There are some great sites along the creek, which we'll try to score if we stay here again. This is dry camping - $20 a night.  The site wasn't level. It was shaded...and the view was of a mountain waterfall. All in all a win! 
Through my buggy windshield 
Looking down from the campgorund
 While we set up, Josiah went to find a local to glean advice. He struck up a camaraderie with her....they are both from large families. He told her he really wanted to make sure his baby sister caught her first Alaskan Salmon and asked for suggestions of spots. She rattled off a few. He then asked about these being easy for Michael to get into....she caved and gave him the two sites locals like to fish - which I will not publish here. See? I'm becoming a fisherman. 

This was it! Josiah had the afternoon left with us. They all headed out to fish. Yuuki and I set up the inside of Uchi and went out exploring. There wasn't room in Josiah's car for all of us to fit and the fishing hole wasn't in walking distance.  It turns out Josiah texted and offered to come get me, but by that time I was enjoying an Alaskan hike along a river and didn't hear the text.

My first Alaskan hike - some mountain behind Whittier 



It was beautiful. No, I wasn't alone, I had Yuuki. Her collar makes lots of noise and I talked aloud so we were fine. I had a great time and plan to do more of this. I meandered along and had no purpose other than enjoyment. Self-care is not selfish!

Fireweed
 I decided right here, on this hike, I AM planting raspberries in the rear of our property - see if they'll take over the Devil's Club.




Ice water on hot feet...perfect

 Yuuki and I turned our sights on the town of Whittier. A word about Whittier - it's small. It was built by the Army and many of the buildings are still in use around town. I found the history interesting.


Whittier is also a stop on the Alaskan Marine Hwy, as well as jumping off point for Princess Cruises. Many fishing and glacier cruises leave from Whittier.

There is a pedestrian tunnel which takes one from the residential side of town to the touristy/marine side of Whittier. We all walked it Sunday morning before heading back to Anchorage. 

BUT BEFORE THAT - the kids and Josiah and Michael were fishing! They did great at the local fishing hole. It's certainly a pretty place to spend an afternoon.

Nolan
Nolan! 
It wasn't long after they left that I got this video.  Stacia in the foreground, and Alex is catching his first in the background. He's much less expressive. 
video

Followed by this photo - Stacia landed her first salmon! 
Such JOY! So glad she didn't give up! 

Then she had two! 

 The boys did great too! 
First Alaska Salmons
At this point there were eight caught salmon - but as Josiah and Michal processed them - they brought in four more. 
Michael, Alex, Nolan, Stacia

Josiah devoted his afternoon to making sure Stacia got a fish....he did a lot of instructing and helping and managed to catch one salmon too. Michael caught two. Nolan and Alex each got three and Stacia got four.  Josiah weighed it before putting it in the freezer - 35 lbs of salmon - edible salmon minus the bones, heads and guts.

This is the day they went from Alaska fishing to Alaska CATCHING! 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Soldotna Sports Center

We've been in Alaska month! What a great way to celebrate.

The Fish and Game Warden told us to go to the Soldotna Sports Center. We would be able to park Uchi here, and there was a boardwalk down to the Lower Kenai river.  The fish will hit this spot BEFORE they hit the Russian.  There is a Centennial Campground, run by the city,  next to the sport's center - $26 a night; dry camping. We checked it out - but the campers in the overflow were so close together it looked miserable.  These young men were impressed with Uchi, "Nice rig!"  Note the disaster about to happen in front of us.

We went back to the Soldotna Sports Center.  RV's, tents, trailer were setting up all over. It's a friendly culture.  It's paved - and level.  it is also dry camping - but much more space. I think it was $21 a night; $8 for day use.
Must buy a dip net before next year
Many were dip-netting. Residents are allowed to this at the mouth of the Kenai. We explained we are "2nd class residents." We've been residents since 2013, but as we just retired from the military, we've not lived here 12 consecutive months. Therefore, we have to buy non-resident licences and are not allowed to dip net.  Next year.  We found a spot and claimed it....I made some dinner, Josiah met up with us....we were feeling hopeful.

Friends coming together parked in these formations - creating an inner "courtyard."  I guess the urge to fish hit in the midst of a move????? In reality, the U-haul was full of fishing gear.
Uchi and Cy's car

Walk around behind the building for a self-pay kiosk. 

The warnings made it a bit hard to relax and take care of business. 

After dinner the guys headed to the river. No ferries to pay. A beautiful boardwalk down to the river. Stacia was done with fishing and opted to hang out with Yuuki and I. We went for a nice walk and came back to Uchi to read and visit.

She's gotten much more relaxed since our arrival a month ago!



Josiah 

Nolan

Michael, Alex, Nolan and Josiah 



The Boardwalk 



We saw several hauling their limits out of the river. However, within 20 minutes of the guys dropping a line, all were saying there was NOTHING. They didn't get a bite.

Josiah and Michael hit the river by 0500 the next morning, Saturday.   Around 0830 they called it quits. Neither had gotten one bite, no one else down there had either.

We decided to pull up chalks and head for Whittier. Jared and friends had gotten quite a few Pinks (Humpies) there last weekend. At this point we simply wanted the younger three to catch a salmon before they lost all interest in this Alaskan sport.  Jared and friends were in a boat - but we were hopeful.

This will be a spot to revisit and explore more when we hear the Reds are RUNNING.