Monday, December 26, 2005
“Okay, kids Santa will be here in 10 minutes. Let’s go outside and line up to watch his
Wow, I thought! What happened to the reindeer? I finished my shopping and proceeded outside. Drawing near to the front door I hear native drums, a dinging bell and ladies singing ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ somewhat flat, monotone and in a very slow cadence. A group of ladies dressed in native wear and large Santa hats were gathered around the Salvation Army bucket singing away and beating the drum. Now that is some local entertainment!
We also finished up the “Road Kill” processing. After hanging for two weeks in a cool “meat locker” aka Mark’s shop, the moose was ready. This last Saturday, we went to Don and Ann Bailey’s house for a full evening and night of moose butchering. Boy, was it work! Jeff and I kept looking at each other in disbelief. They said this was a SMALL cow moose… and we ended up with 250-300 pounds of packaged meat. Don and Jeff would take each quarter, clean off the dried outer layer and then carve off large muscle groups. Ann, Suzie (a friend of the families) and I would then further clean the meat and cut it into smaller pieces. Depending on the amount of the sinew and look of the meat we would decide if it was stew, steak, roast or hamburger worthy. Jeff and I were never more thankful for our Boker knives...thanks George. They cut like butter!
We then took the cut pieces into the house and double wrapped them in saran wrap and then gave them a final wrap of butcher paper. I was the butcher paper and label-er. Jeff and Don then ground all of the remaining meat into hamburger and cut up the ribs for the church New Year’s Eve BBQ. The meat was divided three ways and Jeff and I went home with what we normally would have from one white tail deer alone. We ended the evening with ice cream and raspberry topping at about 12:30 am. Amazing! It was so much fun.
The next day I fried some back strap…delicious!!! There is nothing like fried back strap, biscuits and gravy and mashed potatoes. Yummy. Wish you were all here to enjoy. Tonight, I am taking some of the moose hamburger and making stuffed pasta shells with a meat sauce.
I hope everyone had a great Christmas!
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Now, many of you from
Recently, one of our new friends, Mark and Kathy, received a call regarding a large cow moose. A young mother and her kids were driving from Homer to Anchor Point one snowy night last week and up from the gully came a cow and her calf. Both were killed and the car totaled. Thankfully, the mother and children were fine. Mark went and was lucky to get the cow. However, Mark and Kathy are going to
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Mom has just come out of her second surgery and is in recovery. Dad says she is doing pretty good. She has had a lumpectomy and the removal of her lymph nodes on her left breast. We are hopeful, in that the cancer hasn't spread. Her liver and bones are clear. This has been a seriously challenging time for our family, but God has been increasingly good. It amazes me how much he loves us! In all interactions with nurses, care takers, friends and family, and even strangers we have seen the love of Christ evidenced. I thank you all for your prayers. They have been working. But, please keep praying. We aren't out of the woods, yet and tough treatments are to come.
On to Alaska news: We had a great thanksgiving, in spite of being far from family. Four different families invited us to share the holiday with them. We only made it to two stops, though. We ate the turkey and all the good fixings. I made my famous sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, Grandmother Becky's yummy dressing, and a pork loin. Jeff said everything was delicious. Since my return from Texas, we have been to the doctor and heard the heart beat again. The baby's heart was beating at a sound 150 beats/minute. The baby has also started to move around...especially at night. Nothing painful or uncomfortable, but definetly moving.
I also cross country skied for the first time yesterday. It was awesome! Here in Alaska there are open fields they call Muskag. In the spring and summer months they are fields of mushy, marshy grass that is kind of a rust colored hue. It is very difficult to traverse these areas in the warmer months, but in the winter they are filled with miles and miles of soft snow...perfect for skiing trails! Yesterday afternoon the Firth kids came down (6 of them at least) with skis and boots for me and Jeff. They had been making trails all day and were very excited about sharing. I only fell down a few times (always into very soft banks of snow and on my back or tush), and got the hang of it pretty quickly. It was as if I was skiing through a majestic painting. The sun was beginning its slow descent while flinging beautiful streaks of color across the gray sky, and the spruce trees were gathered in groups like big families out on the field. What a sight to see!
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
West Yellowstone, MT to Lethbridge, AB:
Montana day! By far the prettiest state we have been in, so far. We crossed over the Missouri River several times; saw golden grass topped hills with grazing cattle, and majestic rock formations. Oh, the colors! We began to see aspen trees. I love aspens. They are like the cottonwoods of the north. The wind through a cottonwood’s or aspen’s leaves is the best wind chime ever made.
We made a stop in Helena for gear. First, we ate lunch at a deli. The waitress (kind of a ditzy girl) suggested we go to Bob Erwin’s for gear…after getting turned around (what some would call "getting lost"), we finally found it. We spilled into the store looking for silkies, a parka, Carhartt’s, etc. What we found was over priced under armour and teeny bopper help. Ugh! Luckily, across the street was a Murdoch’s: amazing store! Great prices, great service…we had a woman that acted as our personal shopper. She lined Jeff up with every Carhartt item available in their "fall collection", as well as gloves, and some amazing boots for the both of us. We purchased these water proof pac boots rated up to -50 degrees F for only $49. They go up to my upper calf and with felt insoles added to the existing thermolite liner: they are warm. A little too warm for now, but I know I will appreciate them in the coming months. I feel like a true mountain woman now! I also purchased a Columbia parka (on sale) with three detachable layers.
We rolled into Lethbridge about 8:00 pm to the Howard Johnson: "yes, I do deserve the lowest rate!" Or at least that is what I am supposed to think when I look into one of their mirrors. Pretty good night sleep until the dogs alerted us to would be snoopers/thieves about 4:00 in the morning. We awoke to Link barking like mad and a group of Canadian teenagers cussing up a storm. Jeff rushed out of the room with nothing but shorts on to scare them a second time. I am assuming they were coming home from the bar…when Jeff came out, they were very apologetic to say the least.
Day 9 Saturday, September 17th:
What a great beginning to the day…Dad singing 'Texas, Our Texas' via cell phone. Yes, dad the second verse is the best. We made a pretty long haul to Whitecourt, AB today.
You can’t judge a book by its cover at the Green Gable Inn. Everything along the highway is dusty and "Ponca Motel" looking, but inside reside clean rooms, friendly staff, and usually great restaurants. We had the best meal, yet at our inn. The waitress treated us like celebrities. The restaurant was owned by a Greek. The menu was diverse to say the least. Amy ordered lasagna, I the Chicken Slovakia with a Greek salad, and Jeff the chopped steak with mushroom gravy. Yummy! We had a great night’s sleep, and got on the road early.
Day 10 Sunday, September 18th:
Unfortunately, with only three places of worship to choose from: one Mormon, one Catholic and one Anglican, we attended the "Rusty" church of Christ (aka our truck). We stopped at a pseudo-Walmart parking lot in Grand Prairie while the oil was being changed for some scripture reading, the Lord’s Supper and prayer. Our message was brought to us by Jay Don Poindexter and Rance: thanks guys! Great thoughts!
We drove to Dawson Creek and the beginning of the Alcan. Our true adventure has begun. Who needs Six Flags?!! Just take a drive on the great Alcan! The most astounding views, yet. The beautiful yellow aspen leaves against the green spruce along the roadside, sure puts a smile on this Texan’s face. Around 7:30 pm, we arrived in Ft. Nelson. Checked into a friendly Ramada Inn and ate a hamburger at A&W.
Day 11 Monday, September 19th:
Wow! Wow! Wow! Yes, that is three wows. The day is off to a great start. We started with the best continental breakfast on the continent; made by a rather large and super friendly Canadian. Imagine a portly fellow, with a smile as broad as his nose, clad in plaid and topped with long black hair and leather boonie. Fast with the jokes and jovial jabs, he made great coffee, biscuits with grilled ham and fried eggs, and doled out the hotel missus’ muffins (apricot and peach)…delicious! He even made Belgium waffles upon request, though no one quite had the gumption to ask for one. The hotel residents were all huddled into a small 10 x 15 foot room. A family from North Dakota, a divorcee driving south to North Carolina from Anchorage, a few cool cats from Abilene, and three hunting guides returning to Prince George from a week long elk hunt in the bush. We shared our breakfast and our stories from the road we were all on: the path to the future.
Today we saw the most wildlife, yet. While listening to the tunes of Dizzy Gillispie, Louis Armstrong, Willie Nelson, Wilco, and others, we traveled around majestic mountains, traversed the road teetering trail to look into vast valleys. We drove over emerald green rivers and around Caribbean blue lakes, all the while stumped for words to describe.
When the sign says, "Watch for Wildlife On the Road," they literally mean ON the road. It amazed me to see caribou, moose, mulies, mountain goats, and bison (Amy and Jeff saw these while I was asleep) all copping a squat on the yellow line. I personally think it is a racket. The villages’ chamber of commerce have a deal with the animals so the tourist will come on this crazy road. I can see them brokering the agreement now…"Okay, Mr. Moose, have your people at mile marker 472, center line from 1-5 today, and you will get extra feed this winter." Whether it is all a set up or not, I am sure that I haven’t had such a great experience in my 28 years. Thank you, God for great adventures and great people to go on them with.
One last thing, the divorcee from Anchorage gave us a packet of Moose sausage…good stuff! It is great when people share.
Day 12 Tuesday, September 20th:
We arrived late the previous night in Whitehorse, Yukon. We checked into the Airport Chalet, next door to a man and his family (four kids). They had moved from southern California and were on their way to Alaska. We went and ate the worst Chinese food ever known to man (luckily, the Won Ton soup was good), and settled in for the night.
Today, we got up and on the way to breakfast I threw up. Come to think of it…I have been feeling like crud the whole time! I have a bad cold and figure the drainage got the best of me. I eat my toast and tea and still feel quite nauseated. Just moving stress…has my immune system down. On the way out of town, I ask Jeff to stop at the Wal-Mart. There is no way that I am, you know "with child," but what they hey…it never hurts to check.
I don’t tell Jeff or Amy what I am doing..I just demand to be taken to Wal-Mart! Jeff asks, "Whatever it is, I will go in for you." "No!" I snap, "You can’t do this for me."
I tentatively approach the pharmacy section. Find what I need and proceed to the ‘washroom’, as they call it in Canada/The Yukon. I take the test and low and behold: two lines! No, I had to have done something wrong….this can’t be?! With shaking hands, I proceed to the parking lot. I jump in the truck, grab the nearest water bottle and turn it up. Jeff yells, "What?!" "I have to pee again," I say between gulps. I reluctantly tell them both the news. Jeff grins ear to ear. I am still not buying it…we can’t be pregnant. After the month we have had: no way! All day Jeff and Amy are thinking up baby names, how to tell certain people, etc. I am still not convinced. Besides, this was NOT how it was supposed to happen. In my vision, I was at home, having taken the test early one morning and emotionally gotten myself together, awoken Jeff to a nice breakfast and spelled out "DAD" on his pancake with chocolate chips…or something like that. Not in a Wal-mart parking lot in the Yukon! But, alas it is life’s little surprises that make it all interesting.
When we rolled into Tok, Alaska that night I purchased another test and sure enough: two lines…we are having a baby, folks!
Day 13 Wednesday, September 21st:
This was the worse day of travel for me, yet. After several stops on the side of the road, we made it into Anchorage late afternoon, early evening. I am starting to not keep much down. We are almost there. We can make it. I think we are all at the end of our rope.
Day 14 Thursday, September 22nd:
Just when you think you are at the end: the rope gets longer! Jeff took the truck into the shop and 8 hours later we find out the brakes on the front driver’s side were about to go out and we have a flat in the spare for the trailer.
With everything fixed we proceed to Lowe’s for paint and other materials. Finally, we pull out of town about 8:00 pm. And then, bam: we have a flat on the trailer. We made it over 4,500 miles without one flat and now bad luck strikes. Jeff, the master tire patcher, pulls out his plugs, a can of fix a flat and we are rolling.
We make it ¼ around the Turn Again Arm (imagine, mountain_road____sheer cliff___ and then water). The wind is whipping us around like a rag doll, and the rain is coming down in sheets. We aren’t making it over 45 miles and Jeff is worried about the tire, when I remember our friends in Girdwood!
I was blessed to meet a lovely lady, Mandy Hawes (the cousin of Erin Baldwin) this summer at Erin and Heath’s wedding. We graduated the same year from ACU. Mandy and her husband work at the Aleyeska Prince Hotel in Girdwood. She works in accounting and he as the night manager. I call her to see if she knows of a good place to pull off to change the tire that is out of the rain. She is so very helpful and encouraging. This is a time I am thankful for connections that can only come through Christ. She also offers to put us up at the hotel. As we pull into the gas station, weary and having gone such a short distance, we accept her offer.
We drive into Girdwood and to the hotel…wow! This is not just any hotel. Think Aspen lodge in Alaska. This is one of the premier skiing resorts in the state. It is gorgeous…4 stars at the very least! We gladly hop into our down filled beds and don our complimentary robes and slippers. Whew…this is the life after KOA camping and Ramada Inns. Jeff goes out to check the dogs and comes back in ashen face. He holds out a two inch gnarly looking piece of shiny metal. He says that it was in the front driver side tire. God is so good!! If we had kept going, we would have been in for a horrible night.
Day 15 Friday, September 23rd:
After Jeff made some snappy repairs, we pull ourselves reluctantly away from this "Isle of Lotus Eaters," and get on down the road. We pull into Anchor Point and our new home later that afternoon. I know the "journey should always be the destination", but this is one time that I am sooooo very glad to be "THERE".
Thank you, God for a safe journey, fun and stressful times with Amy and Jeff, and relationships.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Well, folks without cell service or email for the last several hundred miles, I am just now getting something on the ol' blog...hope you enjoy.
Day 1 Friday, September 9th:
Woo Hoo! We made it really far today…all the way to Lockney! We finally left at in the afternoon. I couldn’t believe how much we accrued since the movers came…all those “last minute items that we will quickly pack up” turned out to be a lot of STUFF! With our 16 foot trailer, loaded with kayak, jeep, welder, bike, air tank, extra gas tanks, mucho luggage, and of course our newly acquired metal bench made by a master welder, we set off…
The dogs were set up in the truck with their doggy condo, water and food. They had no idea what they were getting into, but boy, they were excited.
We pulled into Lockney at to a lovely fried fish dinner. Debora and Jay Don, the ever willing hosts were ready for us. Jaylee even told me that “her and momma spent ALL DAY cleaning and cleaning.” (Thanks, Deb J) Van, one of their elders and Glenn were also there for dinner. After much talking, praying, and talking, we fell into bed (ours was a lovely princess bed, complete with a net canopy) late that night at .
Day 2 Saturday, September 10th:
The next morning, Jeff and Jay Don went hunting while I went to Jay Don’s office to print out our route and research my maps. When I got back to the house, Jaylee let me know that she was sad about not sleeping in her bed. She did clarify though, she was not “serious sad”, but just “sad”. When asked, “what is serious sad?” She told me that “serious sad” was when your favorite doll got eaten by the dog, but “sad” was just “well, feeling sad.” I then gave her all of the change in my pocket as a tip for sharing her room and she was happy again. I am not sure if that was serious happy or just happy, but needless to say I was happy to see one of my favorite four year olds smile.
I called Van to ask about Manuelito Children’s Ranch in
Wow! Mary Gray has the set up. Thankfully, she was already in bed, but her “guest wing” was ready. We came in very late to a comfortable bed, turned down, a bathroom full of toiletries and fresh towels, and thank you cards with a pen on the desk. Her and Mike had just returned from a weekend church retreat, but were more than happy to have us as guests. A call from elder Van paved the way, I am sure.
Day 3 Sunday, September 11th:
We awoke to a lovely crisp high desert morning. Absolutely beautiful! Bible class was wonderful. We talked about Colossians 3:21 “Fathers do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” There was a wise man there named Dick Felts (cool, huh Dad?) that gave some of the most encouraging advise. He said that children need fences (boundaries), but all fences don’t need to be barbed wire.
The congregation was warm and loving. Almost everyone came and introduced themselves and welcomed us. We were greatly blessed by the saints at
We then went and spent some time with Merle and Annette and their kids. They are house parents at the ranch. What a couple! Thank you, Lord for people that love others like this couple. Merle is a
We got off from
We stopped along the way in
We pulled into the Moab KOA a little before .
Day 4 Monday, September 12th:
We awoke to an amazing sight: red rock formations surrounding our camp site with rustling cotton woods dispersed throughout the camp ground. We ate breakfast: oatmeal, strawberry bread, and hot tea. We made our way to
We ended the day at the Moab Brewery and Restaurant for a delicious Reuben, hamburger, and some kind of veggie enchiladas (Amy).
Day 5 Tuesday, September 13th:
We started the day with a larruping breakfast at the Jailhouse Café. One of the best breakfasts I have had in a long time. We finally rolled out at about and proceeded to
We got into Hoback after a loooong drive round . This was after we accidentally left our coolers on the side of the road. L The Hoback Junction KOA is the favorite so far. The cabins overlooked the
Day 6 Wednesday, September 14th:
In the morning we arose and drove to
Day 6 Thursday, September 15th:
Amy and Jeff took Link for a hike up “Elk poo” mountain. They were looking for a place to hike with Link. So far, all of the national and state parks we have visited don’t allow dogs on the trails. Jeff, the wooer that he is, stopped at a ranch that had a sign posted: “Positively No Trespassing!” He approached the rancher that was splitting logs and said, “We are from
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Saturday it rained, so we hung out in the Admiral Nimitz museum and toured a local winery with Hayley and Jeff. Sunday came with beautiful sunshine, so we decided to detour to Llano to swim.
Now, since the start of our marriage Jeff and I have battled over the best way to unwind. Jeff's definition of relaxation involves an ample portion of physical activity with a heavy dose of risk- taking adventure. My idea of relaxation involves minimal exertion, lounging, and a great meal to end the day. After years of compromising and dissatisfaction on both our parts at times, we arrived at the perfect solution!
With Jeff's recently aquired kayak, and my purchase of an $8 river raft at the nearest Dollar Store, we headed to the river...
As we approached the river, I was thinking "ahhh, what a beautiful body of water to float on..." Jeff was thinking, "Wow! Cool...let's see how far I can paddle upstream!"
Then brilliance struck, as Jeff offered to pull me behind the kayak. There I was, Queen of the Llano, with a rope tied to my ankle, he gently rowed me up and down the river as I read my Reader's Digest...can it get any better than that?!
Overall, the trip was wonderful.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Currently we are preparing for our move. Packing, planning, and praying. God has blessed us with everything we need. We purchased a great truck, and a trailer...both at a great price.
We will be pulling out of Abilene on Sept. 10th, to move to Anchor Point, AK. The trip is over 4,000 miles...but boy, am I pumped! When we reach the Canadian border we will only be half way. Amy Kay will be going up with us and then flying back home. We plan on heading to the "Four Corners" area first and then up through Utah to Salt Lake City, through Utah, Montana and then up through BC to the "Alcan" (aka the Alaska Highway), which will take us all the way to Alaska.
Please keep checking back for updates. Until then...I pray blessings for you and yours.