June 15, 2003
Chena Marina RV Park
Our Rating: 8.5
This RV park is located right on a float plane "runway".
The sight and sounds of the planes taking off and landing is amazing.
We are staying here a minimum of two nights. There's also the
chance that we could be staying here for much longer, depending
on what we find out at the housing office tomorrow.
Weather: 80 degrees and sunny. Finally - we're back in our warm
Here's the final photo of Steve before he goes and gets his hair
cut and shaves off the 30 days of beard growth he accumulated
over the last month
Nearly Midnight Sun
Our final stretch from Tok to Fairbanks was shorter than some
of our previous days have been. This gave us time to stop a little
more often to snap some photos.
Fairbanks is like any other big city. Immediately upon entering
the outskirts of the city (and while passing through North Pole
- which is just east of here), we began to see businesses we haven't
seen since leaving the midwest: Blockbuster Video, Wendy's, K-Mart,
etc. It is also congested here - especially after visiting towns
boasting populations under 500.
We found our campground and set up. Just then a float plane landed
on the "water runway" in front of us. This continued
all day and I enjoyed watching each time. Later on this evening,
Steve and I met a couple of people from North Carolina and ended
up sitting in their RV chatting until 11:30pm. It was impossible
to tell that it was late - the sun was still visible on the horizon.
BACK TO TOP
June 16, 2003
Chena Marina RV Park - Day 2
Brandon is HOME!
got back to the states on Saturday night! He tried calling me
yesterday, but we were washing the camper and missed the call.
When I saw the strange area code on my caller ID, I just assumed
it was a wrong number. Later that afternoon, I spoke to my sister-in-law,
Diane, and she told me that she had a message from Brandon on
her machine with the same area code. I am so excited and relieved!
Then earlier this afternoon, he called again. We spoke for nearly
an hour. Becky is flying back to NC from UT tomorrow night. In
the meantime, Brandon is trying to get his paperwork in order
(the Marines still don't officially know that Brandon and Becky
are married because they deployed so quickly and didn't have time
to submit them) He is planning a trip to PA to visit the family
and introduce Becky to everyone over the July 4th weekend. He
anticipates getting block leave sometime over the next month or
so and hopes to drive out to UT and meet his in-laws for the first
time. I am so glad he is home! I am also very grateful for all
of you who wrote or sent packages or just kept him and Becky in
your prayers. You were a wonderful support to not only my son
and daughter-in-law, but to Steve and me as well.
Today was a day of necessary exploration. Steve and I drove onto
Fort Wainwright to look around and locate the places that he/we
will need to visit once he signs into his unit on Friday. Steve
also got a hair cut (which he badly needed) and now is sporting
the practically bald look I am so accustomed to.
While on Fort Wainwright, we drove into Glass Park - the RV Park
located on Post. We discovered that there is a site coming available
tomorrow which we can have for a month if we need it. As much
as I'll miss the wonderful and exciting views of the float planes
landing and taking off right in front of me, I do look forward
to a bit more privacy. This campground is in a terrific location,
but they stack the campers fairly close together. When windows
are open you can hear the activity going on next door easily.
At Glass Park on Post, the sites are treed and the area is wooded.
And there is a lot of breathing room between them. There is the
possibility that we will be living in the camper for several weeks
- if not a month or more - depending on the availability of Post
housing. We'll find out the approximate wait time when Steve signs
in on Friday. Glass Park also has nice and clean private baths/showers
which is a major plus. There is also Internet hookup, but we haven't
determined if it's modem or LAN. (Keeping my fingers crossed for
the latter). I feel out of touch being away from an Internet connection,
and can't wait to get back on-line.
After driving through Post, we took a drive through "downtown"
Fairbanks. It doesn't really feel like Alaska to us yet. (I know
it will when the cold weather comes) It was comforting to see
some of the establishments I am familiar with. But I also saw
many businesses and small shops that aren't a part of the big
nationwide mix. I look forward to exploring some of them.
Another nice change is seeing foothills on the horizon, rather
than tall buildings. And knowing that only a short drive away
is some of the most awesome scenery in the country. We still feel
like tourists (and have been told that we aren't truly Alaskans
until we live through our first winter), and I've picked up countless
brochures highlighting activities and sights for the entire state.
We hope to see as much of Alaska as we can while we're here. I
am glad that Steve and I share that love for getting out on the
open road and driving until we can't go anymore. And I look forward
to delving more deeply into my photography.
I'm also looking forward to experiencing some of the local events
here in Fairbanks. This month (next week) is the Midnight Sun
Festival and the Annual Midnight Sun Baseball Game. By the way,
I think I saw on the news that the recent sunset was at 11:35pm
and sunrise was at 2:28am. On June 21st, it will be the longest
day of sunlight and then the days get progressively shorter again.
Although the long days of sunlight were a bit disconcerting to
us at first, we're finding that we are able to sleep through the
night without any problems. We did put a piece of cardboard on
the front door window of the camper and I stuffed some cardboard
in the skylight over our bed and that helps a lot.
June 17, 2003
We are moving into Glass Park Campground on Post tomorrow. This
morning we started our day with a visit to the local Denny's Restaurant.
I was craving a "Moons Over My Hammy" sandwich and hadn't
seen a Denny's in quite a while. The prices here in AK are higher
than the lower 48, but there is no sales tax (THAT'S a good thing).
After breakfast, we drove back onto Post to see if I could upload
my journal entries at the campground using their "free"
Internet hookups. When I connected my laptop using their LAN line,
I couldn't get online. After talking to the resident "techie"
I discovered it was a secure net and I couldn't get on using my
personal computer. I asked him if he knew of anywhere in town
that could give me Internet access - even if I had to pay - and
he pointed me to a few companies; one of them being the local
KINKO'S. He cautioned me that Kinko's might charge an arm and
a leg for the privilege. Surprisingly enough, it was FREE! Now
that I know it's available to me, I'll be able to upload fairly
regularly, but since nothing is really going on right now - I'll
probably limit my uploads to every couple of days. I can at least
access my e-mail free of charge at Glass Park Campground, so I'll
be able to keep in touch with friends and family on a regular
After uploading, we found the local SAM'S Club here in Fairbanks
to pick up a few items. It was comforting to walk the aisles of
a store we are accustomed to. We saw a lot of neat things - nice
packages of seafood and meats that looked great- but have to remain
cognizant of our limited refrigerator/freezer space in the camper.
We then traveled along a highway we hadn't explored yet - the
long way back to our campground. I've driven with Steve several
times since getting to town, and I still find myself losing my
sense of direction. It will be nice to get out by myself and explore.
I'll be able to do that after tomorrow - after I pick up my car.
It arrived here in Fairbanks on June 2nd. I'm assuming my household
goods are already here too - just waiting for us to tell them
where to deliver them. I hope we get housing soon...
June 18, 2003
The weather has been absolutely beautiful. It's warm during the
day- about 70 - and at "night" (what is night?) it goes
down into the 50's, which makes for great sleeping weather.
I have been in a blue funk most of the day. It's the 7th anniversary
of my father's death and I've been thinking about him a lot -
not just today, but since this entire adventure began. I know
he would think it is so wonderful an experience to get a chance
to live in AK.
We picked up my car... what a comfort to have it again. And how
strange it felt to sit in it and drive it. (It's so small compared
to the truck) Now I have mobility again and plan to explore Fairbanks
on my own until I get used to the location of things.
Tonight we took the dog for a long walk through the campground.
I was really hoping to come across the mama moose and her calf
that were sighted here only a few days ago. With camera in hand,
I kept an eye out for her. I wouldn't have done anything as foolish
as approaching her, but just to get a glimpse and maybe shoot
a photo would have been neat. No luck.
So I shot a few photos of some wildflowers growing in abundance
here (and all over town). And then we walked down to the boat
launch on the Chena River and played with the dog for awhile.
I took a photo because I wanted to show you what the sky looks
like when it's nearly 10pm here.
Our temporary home...
June 19, 2003
Still at Glass Park on Fort Wainwright
weather here today is gorgeous! Mid 70's and sunny. It's currently
9:14pm and the sun is still high above the horizon.
solstice is on June 21st - the day with the longest daylight hours.
This year the sun will set at 11:48pm and rise at 1:59am - for
a total of 21 hours and 49 minutes of daylight.
After he ran 2.5 miles on the bike path which circles the campground,
Steve decided to sign in today. We didn't have any plans anyway...
He went to the housing office and was told that we will get
keys to two houses on Monday. This is a good thing and hopefully
it means that we'll be getting a real roof over our head soon.
Tomorrow he has to report for PT at 6:20am.
I walked down to the campground office this morning and caught
up on some of my e-mail. While waiting to get time on one of the
two terminals, I spoke to some fellow campers. There was one couple
there who looked really familiar to me. The husband started talking
to me about driving up to the Arctic Circle. Finally the wife
said, "Aren't you the one we met at the Delta Junction Visitor
Center?" Then I realized that Steve and I had spent a good
thirty minutes talking to the both of them when we stopped to
take photos of the "end of the Alaska Highway" marker.
He's retired Air Force and was originally camping at Eielson Air
Base, but the 26 mile trip into Fairbanks was really taking its
toll on them. So, now they're here at Glass Park until Monday.
It's amazing how many familiar faces we have seen since getting
here. After making arrangements for Steve and I to meet them for
the Alaska Salmon Bake on Saturday night, I came back to the camper
to find Steve already home.
We took a walk around the campground (still looking for that
moose) and stopped to talk to another couple - he's retired Special
Forces who served in Vietnam. They have been living in their 5th
wheel for the past 6 years and have crisscrossed the country and
Canada several times. Most of their family is still in the southeast
(NC), so they spend a lot of time there. He invited us in to look
at his camper and we couldn't believe the spaciousness of it!
It's huge - 40 feet. He tows it with a Peterbilt truck which is
another 23 feet. I don't suppose they've ever driven through San
June 21, 2003
TODAY IS SUMMER
SOLSTICE - THE LONGEST DAY OF THE YEAR!
Fairbanks celebrates solstice with a huge "block
party" downtown. They block off an area about 4x4 blocks
and set up tents where you can buy crafts and food. Also there
was an exhibit of old cars - ranging from about 1920 to the early
70's. Some of the people even dressed for the era of their car.
Steve and I went downtown at 7pm and stayed about an hour and
a half. We visited some shops and looked at some of the wares
offered in some of the tents. Before leaving, we indulged in a
bowl of home-made ice cream with caramel topping. A JOHN DEERE
engine ran the ice cream maker - the engine was circa 1920.
A little dancing in the streets
Yesterday (Friday) was a lazy day for us. Steve went into work
for a little while and when he came home, we decided to take a
drive to downtown Fairbanks and pick up some information at the
Visitor's Center. We were looking for some hiking maps for trails
in the area, but they don't have them there. The nice woman working
the counter told us to go to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management)
for maps highlighting the hiking trails, but they were already
closed. We came back to the camper and just hung out the rest
of the night. I think being on the move for a month is finally
catching up to us...
We slept in this morning, which was very nice. After taking care
of some humdrum chores (like laundry), we decided to go to Pioneer
Park and explore. At Pioneer Park, we saw some historic buildings
(which now house gift shops selling Alaskan crafts, etc), toured
the S.S. Nenana sternwheeler, and had a nice leisurely walk. It
was a sunny day and it was nice to be out and about. Here are
a few photos I shot at Pioneer Park:
Pioneer Park Historic Buildings/Shops
Pioneer Park Historic Buildings
S.S. Nenana Sternwheeler
Captain Steve - S.S. Nenana
After spending some time at Pioneer Park, we decided to have
lunch at the Pumphouse. This restaurant was one we passed everytime
we left and came back to the Chena Marina RV Park we stayed at
last week. The food was OK; we had the lunch buffet. The waitress
was really a great wealth of information regarding hiking trails
and Nordic skiing in the area. (We love to hike and hope to do
some cross-country skiing while we're here).
Because it was still light out (even at 8:30), we decided to
go grocery shopping and pick up a few things. When we left the
grocery store at 9:30, the sun was still up and blazing. It's
just about 11pm and I'm turning in for the night, even though
the sun is still shining....
Weather today: Sunny and 75 degrees. I'm so sorry that all of
my wonderful friends on the East Coast are suffering with rain
and overcast days... wanna come visit?
June 22, 2003
weather today was 61 degrees when we left this morning, but dropped
into the 50's when we climbed in elevation. We drove through rain
for a short time, but the sun came out again when we got close
to Fairbanks on the return trip. The temperature here in Fairbanks
is in the high 60's/low 70's..
The day was beautiful and I wanted to explore. We had a light
breakfast and jumped in the truck for a drive up Route 6 - the
Steese Highway. The Steese Highway is paved until milemarker 44
and then becomes a gravel road. We didn't want to do the entire
route (we'll do that at another time), but we decided we'd drive
part of the way. There were several creeks we crossed over along
the way, and quite a few camping areas (primitive) where a person
can spend the night and cast a line in for some grayling or rainbow
trout. We'll definitely do that sometime, but the trailer will
probably stay home. Some of the trails are narrow and deeply rutted.
The truck with its 4-wheel drive did fine, but towing a trailer
could be an ordeal. We'll pack the tents and "rough it"
I don't fish (I used to, but it's not a big draw for me), but
I think I'd be inclined to cast a line if Steve works on me hard
enough. Even if I do, I plan to pack my artists' pencils and sketchbook
and spend some time concentrating on drawing. It has been years
since I've indulged in my art (besides photography) and it will
be nice to get back into it.
The drive was nice, even though we had to follow a pilot car
for a couple of miles towards the 50-55 milemarker. We made it
to Cripple Creek BLM Campground at milemarker 60 before turning
around and heading back. I took a few photos along the way...
Trans-Alaska Pipeline (milemarker
Reflections in a clear pond
Chatanika River tributary
Kokomo Creek Panorama- We saw
an EAGLE in the trees here!
we get the keys to look at two different houses here on Fort Wainwright.
There are some military wives I've been in contact with who have
been curious about the speed in which we've gotten keys to look
at potential houses. When you sign into a new Post, you get put
on the list for the date you signed OUT of the Post you left.
Because of this, we got on the May 15th list, since that is when
we left FL. In reality, we have been on the waiting list for 6
much as I've enjoyed camping, I'm looking forward to being in
June 25, 2003
Still at Glass Park
We didn't get keys to two houses after all. There was a mix-up
in the housing office regarding availability. Apparently the two
houses that were supposed to be ready still need some maintenance/repairs.
The bad news is that we will probably be camping here at Glass
Park another week (or more); the good news is that Steve is first
on the list for housing. I am glad that it is only us living in
the camper (and the animals). I can't even imagine how crowded
it would be if we still had kids at home to look after. We do
feel fortunate that we have a roof over our head. We heard from
a guy in Steve's unit that one family spent a month here at Glass
Park with a couple of kids and they lived in TENTS! The longest
I ever spent living in a tent was two weeks and that was probably
my upper limit. But... a person has to do what he/she has to do.
The weather has been nice and the campground is quiet. I enjoy
taking the dog for walks in the woods and still keep my eye out
for that moose. I haven't seen her, but I've seen her poop(!),
so I know she's still around. We've also seen some hoof prints
in the sand.
Steve and I visited The Cookie Jar on Monday night - craving
ice cream. He got a huge banana split and I opted for a hot fudge
sundae. It really hit the spot. We'll probably go back to try
some of the food on their menu. Before leaving, we bought a huge
cinnamon bun we could split for breakfast and a half dozen cookies.
Steve's been going into work every morning and I've taken short
drives into town to explore. Yesterday I had my car winterized.
Now I have a plug hanging out of the front. Steve's taking his
truck in tomorrow to be done. I can't even imagine how cold it's
going to be. For the past 12 years, Steve and I have lived in
a fairly warm climate. This is going to be one heck of an adjustment
We visited the Post library this afternoon and I got myself put
into the system. I borrowed some books on resume writing. It's
time to totally rewrite my resume reflecting my skills in web
development/design. I look forward to getting back into the work
force now that my schooling is complete. But I'm not ready to
pursue anything yet; I want to wait until we're settled into a
house. There will be a lot to do once we move in and get our household
goods delivered, and I don't want to have to worry about working
and setting up house at the same time. As far as securing a job?
The employment situation up here isn't the best, but I'm willing
to do anything to keep me busy - especially during the long winter
days (nights) - even if it's not in the design field.
June 27, 2003
Campground Footbridge & Sedona
After running a few errands, Steve and I drove to North Pole
(about 14 miles southeast of Fairbanks) to have lunch at a restaurant
called The Elf's Den. We
saw their menu in the Fairbanks/North Pole phonebook, and wanted
to see what North Pole was all about.
In North Pole, it looks like Christmas all the time (it's easy
to figure out why). There are decorations EVERYWHERE and even
the street light poles are striped red and white like candy canes.
Steve and I both agreed that if we lived in North Pole, we wouldn't
even want to put up decorations when Christmas came, because we'd
be sick of looking at them. I read somewhere that the residents
don't even notice the Christmas decor anymore. The Post Office
was a large building - probably to handle all the mail which comes
to North Pole over the holidays for that one-of-a-kind postmark.
Anyway, lunch was only so-so. We both got meatball sandwiches
and there was a lot of bread and cheese, but hardly any meatballs.
There are a lot of other things on their menu which looked appetizing,
but we're not sure if we'll go back and try having dinner there
sometime. The restaurant did seem to be doing a good business,
but it could be because there aren't very many sit down type restaurants
in North Pole.
When we got back to the camper, we took a long walk through the
campground with Sedona. Again, we saw signs of the moose, but
that's it. The sun is blazing today and my face is pink after
only about 45 minutes outside.
Tomorrow, we might take a drive towards Nenana on the Parks Highway
(which also takes you to Denali and onward to Anchorage). If we
go, we'll probably only go about 60 or 70 miles and then turn
around and come back. We want to explore some of the areas close
to us right now for fishing, hiking, and camping possibilities.
We plan to set aside a week or more later this year or early next
year to really do some exploring.
June 29, 2003
Taku Chief - this tugboat
plied the waters of the Tanana, Yukon, and Koyukuk rivers for
Ice Classic Tripod
Nenana is known for the Nenana
Ice Classic, an annual event which awards cash prizes to the lucky
winners who guess the exact minute of the ice breakup on the Tanana
River. The contest has been held since 1917.
When the surging ice on the Tanana River dislodges the tripod,
a line attached to the tripod trips a clock located in a tower
atop the Ice Classic Office, thus recording the official breakup
time. Last year, prizes in the amount of $301,000 were awarded.
There are many places throughout the state where tickets can be
This was just one of many gorgeous flowers that were blooming
in hanging baskets and flowerpots all over town. I have seen flowers
that I have never seen before, and can't wait to have a garden
The days are still long, even though they are getting shorter
as we enter the second half of the year. Steve and I are quite
accustomed to the long hours of daylight and have been sleeping
through the night without any problems at all. I do find myself
getting up earlier than I would normally (as early as 5am), but
I don't mind. I enjoy the peacefulness of the early morning and
take Sedona out for her walk while the rest of the campground
is still fast asleep.
Still... I can't wait to get into a house! Maybe this week...
Highway Scenic Overlook
Yesterday we awoke to a much needed rain. It didn't last very
long, but it has been very dry here and the rain was needed to
help with the fire hazard ratings in the area. I wish it would
have continued a little longer; the dust levels would have been
lowered as well. Steve and I were in a lazy mood and stayed in
all day. We cooked a great dinner on the BBQ, and watched a few
movies on video that we had packed.
This morning, we woke up to already warm temperatures. I think
we reached a high of 82 degrees while we were out exploring. What
a difference it is living here with practically zero humidity!
I certainly don't miss the hot, humid summers of Florida.
Our exploration today took us along the Parks Highway to Nenana.
Just outside of Fairbanks is the town of Ester (pop. 240).
Information taken from
Ester was a mining camp in 1906 and once had a population of about
5000 miners. In 1936, Ester Camp was built to support a large-scale
gold dredge operation. It stayed open for 20 years, before closing.
It opened again in 1958 as a summer visitor attraction. Ester's
heydays are relived in music, song and dance at the Malemute Saloon.
The Ester Gold Company complex also includes the historic bunkhouse
building, which houses a buffet restaurant and hotel. Several
artists make their home in Ester and active gold mining is still
under way in the area.
We drove the Parks Highway for about 60 miles, stopping along
the way to admire the view from the turnouts and scenic overlooks.
The sky was a just a bit too hazy to see the high peaks of the
Alaska Range clearly, but the faint silhouettes made us look forward
to visiting Denali.
Soon, we arrived in Nenana (pop. 435). Nenana is located where
the Tanana and the Nenana Rivers merge. The name Nenana is an
Athabascan word meaning, "a good place to camp between the
Information from the Milepost: Nenana
thrived as a trading center for the Natives of the region and
travelers on the vast network of interior rivers. Nenana boomed
during the 1920s as a construction base for the Alaska Railroad.
Today Nenana is the hub for the tug boat/barge shipping industry
that traverses the rivers of the Interior, providing goods to
Alaska Native Veterans' Honor
Railroad trestle bridge across
Nenana Visitor Center
Railroad Museum - Nenana Depot
Steve and friend
July 4th, 2003
We have a house!
Update on Brandon:
Brandon and Becky are currently in Philadelphia visiting the family.
Becky is meeting everyone for the first time. His drive from Camp
Lejeune, NC to PA took about 10 hours - you have to love the traffic
in the Washington DC area; he got stuck in a 10mph zone for about
an hour due to construction. I really wish I could be there to
welcome him home and give him a great big hug and kiss, but there
is just no way I could have left all this unpacking and organizing
the house to Steve. He's more than capable, but I (like most women)
like to take charge of where things go. I really hope that Brandon
and Becky can come visit us later this year, or next spring. In
the meantime, I have to be content to talk to them on the phone
once a week.
I probably won't be posting for a bit, while I'm trying to get
the house together. We don't have a phone yet (it could take two
weeks), but I'll let all you friends and family members know our
new address and phone number when it gets hooked up.
It's so good to have my stuff!!!!!!!!
I know it has been a long time since I posted. We have been going
nonstop since we took possession of our house on Wednesday. It
couldn't have come at a better time - the walls of the camper
were slowly closing in on both of us. We also knew that if we
didn't get into the house until after the holiday, we'd run the
risk of having to wait weeks for our personal belongings to be
delivered. (We found that out when we moved from GA to NC over
the July 4th holiday and had to live on an air mattress for three
weeks!) Anyway, as soon as Steve found out we were definitely
taking possession on Wednesday, he went to Transportation and
coordinated to have our household goods delivered yesterday! It
just so happens the moving company was having a slow week and
next week would start their busy season. What great timing!
We had more than 10,000 lbs of household goods and it took practically
all day to deliver it. As is customary, we ended up with some
broken items. Our computer desk is completely destroyed. Steve's
weed-wacker is missing. A few pieces of our furniture are scratched.
These are things we are accustomed to, but not happy with. Military
moves are brutal on your personal belongings. I'm glad that Steve
and I are not the type to have all top of the line furniture suites
or I'd be really upset. We decided a long time ago that the "good"
stuff will have to wait until we're settled in our retirement
home. It's not worth the risk.
We have a 3BR/2.5BA corner unit. Our stuff is a bit cramped,
but we're thankful for the garage. It's nice not to have to rent
a storage unit while we're here, but we will have to build some
shelving units to stack our stuff on, so my car will fit in the
garage. The house backs up against an ATV trail, as well as the
jogging/bike trail, so we don't have any houses behind us. We
don't have much of a yard, but we're OK with that. We'd rather
have the privacy. Our next door neighbor moved in the same day
we did, and got her household goods delivered yesterday as well.
Today we met our neighbors two doors down, but they are leaving
in two weeks for Fort Carson. That's a shame; they are really
nice. They told us that they loved it here, but also warned us
of the effect that the short hours of winter can have. Her husband
would come home from work and fall asleep on the sofa because
it was dark outside. I can imagine how messed up your body clock
can get... Here are some pics of the place:
kitchen is galley style, but is accessible from both the front
door and the living/dining area.
As usual, Airborne (the cat) is scoping out the place.
This is the living area portion
of the living/dining area. We don't have a formal dining room,
so we use the space totally for living space.
of kitchen looking towards table area.
July 6, 2003
When we took possession of our house, the
grass was already getting tall around it. On top of that, there
is a cottonwood tree in the next-door neighbor's yard and a portion
of our yard is inch-deep in the white cottony pods that blow around
like snow in summer. I can tell that Steve is really excited about
cranking up our lawnmower. (NOT!) He hasn't had to mow a lawn
since he left NC in January 2001. Ah, the joys of yardwork...
By the time I get these last two entries posted, a week will
have elapsed since I uploaded. Unpacking and setting up a "home"
is the most tedious and backbreaking work I have ever done and
I can't believe I was just doing this less than two years ago
in Florida. I remember telling Steve then that I never wanted
to do it again (of course, we anticipated spending the last few
years of his career in Florida). I have expressed those same sentiments
countless times over the last few days - and he is echoing me
now. I guess this means that we're going to have to fall in love
with Alaska and stay here forever!
There is one big advantage to moving to Alaska in the summer
months - unlimited daylight. We begin our day by 8am and we continue
until nearly midnight. We do take a few breaks here and there
- to grab a quick lunch and sit down for dinner. Last night Steve
barbecued hamburgers, corn on the cob, and baked potatoes. It
It's currently 5:20am and I've been up for a little while. We
didn't get to bed until after midnight, so I'm sure tonight I'll
be dragging. I'm happy to say the downstairs is pretty much totally
put together. Now it's time to tackle the bedrooms. My clothes
have been folded in boxes since May 12th. If gravity doesn't pull
the wrinkles out when I finally get them hung up again, it looks
like I'll be ironing a lot.
Moving really does suck...
A place to put our feet up. What a challenge to combine living
room and dining room furniture into one space and try to make
July 7, 2003
Pop Pop would have been 93 today
I spoke to both my sis-in-law, Diane and
my brother, Steve yesterday. They both said that Brandon and Becky's
visit to Philadelphia was a good one. Poor Becky is still wheelchair
bound when activities involves a lot of walking, but Diane was
able to borrow one from a friend. They all took the train into
Center City for the July 4th festivities. On Saturday, Diane and
Steve had a big BBQ and lots of friends and family came to meet
Becky for the first time and to welcome them both home from the
war. Diane said everyone had a great time despite the torrential
downpour that surprised them early on and the stifling heat.
I want to thank everyone who attended and
helped to welcome Brandon and Becky home. But most of all I want
to thank Steve and Diane for once again opening their house to
my son and hosting the celebration. I love you both!
It is 6:14am. I went to bed a little before midnight, so I'm
surprised I'm already up this morning. Steve's still sleeping,
but I'm sure the smell of the brewing coffee will have him up
in a little while. The cat and the dog are playing "tag"
with one another and if the coffee doesn't wake Steve, the sound
of their 8 feet running up and down the stairs soon will. Ahhhhh...
you just have to love the peacefulness of the morning.
Steve set our PC up on the kitchen table temporarily - until
we either get our desk repaired or replaced. It looks hopeless
to us. Screws are bent, dowels are cracked, tracks are bent, and
pieces are literally broken in two. We have to follow protocol
and have it looked at by a professional to see if it can be put
back together, before the claim can be processed in regards to
Our list of things which have been broken or scratched is growing
longer. Yesterday, we discovered that the lawnmower didn't work
because the carburetor had been smashed and the fuel line had
been cut by some other piece of lawn equipment. Steve began filling
it with fuel to mow the lawn yesterday and it was just pouring
out all over the place. He wasn't a happy man. We knew something
was going to be damaged when they opened that crate and we saw
the way our tools were thrown in. Oh, and they also broke my compound
miter saw; the one that used to belong to Daddy. Its worth to
me was more sentimental than monetary, and there's no excuse for
the carelessness of the moving company.
Today, I'm going out. I'm just running errands, but I need to
escape from the confines of this house. I have been looking in
tan boxes for the past 5 days and I don't want to unpack another
thing (at least until I get out in the fresh air and rejuvenate
myself). It looks like it might rain today and even that's OK.
Maybe Steve and I will go out to dinner. We both need a little
Some more pics of some of the rooms which are pretty much FINISHED!
Bedroom finally pulled together.
area turned "seating/ dressing area". There's an
art to finding a place for everything!
July 10, 2003
Steve's off for his second day at the mandatory Fort Wainwright
welcoming activities for new personnel and their families. It's
two days of being bombarded by information regarding housing,
the hospital, youth services, etc. Today they get to take a bus
ride around post and even off post to visit the hunting and fishing
bureau (or something to that effect). I was invited to attend
with him - and he said that about 50% of the other soldiers do
have their wives with them - but I still had a lot to do around
here and didn't want to lose two days. Besides, Fort Wainwright
is small compared to other posts we've been stationed at. I'm
sure I'll know my way around in no time.
I began working on my photo album, which is very tedious but
enjoyable for me. It's always so difficult for me to choose which
photos will make it into the album. Because I work in digital
format, I lay out and print individual photo pages which I place
in plastic sleeves and put into a binder. Having a good printer
and using the best photo paper is very important and I am pleased
with the quality of print I get with our setup.
On our 30-day trip (and in the weeks that we've been here in
Alaska), I've shot more than 2500 photos. Choosing five or six
to highlight each leg of our trip is difficult - and sometimes
downright impossible - but I'm managing. So far I've printed 18
pages and I'm only to northern California. I expect the entire
trip will fill more than 40 pages. I have my absolute favorites
and plan on having them printed professionally at 11x14 size.
My camera has a high-resolution setting which allows a print to
be enlarged to about 16x20 without loss of clarity. I mostly used
the highest setting throughout my trip. I also saved everything
to CD and filled twelve of them already. That's a lot of photos!
It's raining here today. It rained last night for a little while.
Even though we didn't hear the raindrops initially, Steve and
I could smell it. I love the way the air smells when it rains-
so clean. The downside to the rain is that it's dark in the house.
All the blinds are open, but without the sun, the inside of the
house is somber. I guess I shouldn't complain... in the winter,
I'll be living with somberness for months.
July 13, 2003
Hiking path to Angel Rocks
Steve standing on rocks
Fishing stream along Chena Hot Springs Rd.
What a weekend we had... Friday I was invited to join five other
wives for lunch for the purpose of welcoming the Command Sergeant
Major's (CSM) wife as well as myself to the battalion. We had
lunch out on the deck at The Captain Bartlett Inn. It was a beautiful,
sunny and warm day ( mid-70's). The other wives were very friendly
and I felt totally at ease with them immediately. It was nice
meeting the women, and I discovered that two of them live in the
same housing area as we do. I hope to get to know them all a lot
better over the next couple of years.
Yesterday (Saturday) morning, Steve and I began putting the second
bedroom together - the office - in preparation for Internet cable
hookup on Monday. I can't wait to be back on line again! I have
felt so out of touch with my friends and family and have a few
projects I need to complete before I begin my search for employment.
While unpacking boxes, we were listening to the radio and heard
that the weekend weather was going to worsen. Even though it was
already almost 2pm, we decided we wanted to get outside while
the weather was so nice. I had read about Angel Rocks Trail near
Chena Hot Springs and thought a scenic hike would be a great way
to spend the afternoon. We filled the backpack with water, our
rain jackets (just in case), insect repellent, and my camera and
headed down Chena Hot Springs Rd.
Angel Rocks Trail is about 50 miles from Fairbanks, but the drive
was a very scenic one. We passed a few campgrounds (no utilities/pit
toilets) located near gorgeous rivers and streams and pulled into
a few to check out the sites and the fishing. There were quite
a few people camping along the banks and a handful had their lines
cast. While standing on a rocky shoreline, Steve spied a salmon
swimming by. Now all he is talking about is going fishing.
We got to Angel Rocks about 3:30pm. It's a 3.5 mile loop trail
which leads to large granite outcroppings. The rocks themselves
are less than 2 miles from the trailhead, but the climb is steep
in many places and at times a bit strenuous for two people who
haven't done much hiking in a while. We took our time, admiring
the views along the way. I took about 50 photos most of them from
the top of the rocks, where the panorama was awe-inspiring. We
got back to the truck a little after 6 and decided to continue
on to Chena Hot Springs, where we had dinner at the restaurant
drive back to Fairbanks was relaxing and we watched the storm
clouds starting to gather in the sky. All of a sudden I caught
a glimpse of a moose cow grazing along a stream on the side of
the road. Steve turned around so I could get a photo of her. She
looked right at me as if she was posing for me. I can't ever imagine
seeing a moose and not getting excited about it.
July 20, 2003
Photos from around town and Golden
Casting a line
Downtown Fairbanks for Golden Days
Savoring the nectar
Sorry I haven't posted in a week. I have been extremely busy
working on my online resume as well as my "hard copy"
resume. I've also decided to create another web site where I can
post my web design portfolio for prospective employers or clients
to look at. It's time consuming, but I LOVE it! I spend hours
and hours working on it and never get bored. I guess that's a
good indication that I chose the right field of study.
Yesterday, Steve and I went into town and to Pioneer Park to
catch some of the Golden Days activities. We also took a drive
through the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) campus and discovered
a fishing lake and terrific bike, walking and ski trails nearby.
We can't wait to get back into biking again! The bike trail follows
Farmer's Loop Rd. - a road that skirts the northern side of Fairbanks.
There are great views from portions of the road and we stopped
to take a few photos.
We also drove Viewpoint Drive and Summit Drive, which lead up
into the hills to neighborhoods with spectacular views (and the
price tag to match, I'm sure). The lucky residents who have homes
on the hillside can see clear to the snowcapped mountains in the
distance. We fantasized about having a home with such gorgeous
views one day. (Hey, everyone can dream, can't they? *smile*)
After our little scenic drive, we went to the flower show at
Pioneer Park. Countless AK floral designers entered their creations
into the contest. There were several themes you could enter under
and each artist did a great job of portraying that theme. There
were solid color arrangements of bright orange or yellow - flowers
I had never seen before, but which packed a visual punch when
grouped together. Beautiful...
We then headed to downtown Fairbanks to catch the launch of the
rubber ducks on the Chena River. You could buy tickets with a
number on them and each of the ducks was numbered. The winning
duck netted the ticket holder a good sum of cash. The ducks traveled
about a quarter mile downstream before being herded into a chute
where they made their way to the finish line. In addition to the
duck race, there were food tents and entertainment and arts and
crafts, etc. It was a beautiful sunny day and after almost a week
of rain, it seemed like everyone was happy to be outside enjoying
Today is the Red & Green Regatta. Boats must be built from
scratch and each entry must have used DUCT TAPE as part of the
project. They are going to launch the floating "works of
art" from the boat launch at UAF. We're hoping to get over
there to catch the fun. Until next time...
Today, Steve and I had plans to go to the Red and Green Regatta,
but he got called into work to handle an "emergency".
I won't go into details; let's just say one of his soldiers is
in some serious trouble. The joys of being a First Sergeant...
So, instead, I worked on my online resume and portfolio. I spent
hours trying to get it to look the way I want, and I can't say
I'm totally thrilled yet. At least I ENJOY doing this type of
thing. The day passed quickly.
Brandon called today. He opened his conversation with "Mom,
you're a grandmom". (Now don't freak out - it's not what
you think!) He and Becky have decided to postpone their original
plans of having a baby right away and have adopted a boxer puppy.
They wanted to see how much responsibility there is with taking
care of another living, breathing, being. Her name is Pandora
and she is 8 weeks old. While we were chatting, I could hear Becky
yelling, "Babe... she just threw up on the carpet again!"
I couldn't help but chuckle...
Tomorrow starts another week. We have now been Fairbanksans for
more than a month. Yesterday Steve asked me if I felt like we
were in Alaska yet. When we first got here, it didn't really feel
any different to me than any other small city. But yesterday I
finally felt like I was in Alaska.
Maybe it was the view of the snow-crested peaks on the horizon
when we took the drive up the hill. Or maybe it was wandering
between the arts and crafts stands downtown and watching the ducks
float down the Chena. Maybe it was watching the man standing alone
on the banks of the river with his line in the water, waiting
for that bite. Perhaps it's the incessant daylight. Last night
at midnight, I opened the blinds and looked out at the sky. It
was a medium shade of gray and off in the distance I could still
see the orange glow of a sun which still hadn't set completely.
Yeah... we're not in Florida anymore...
BACK TO TOP
July 26, 2003
This morning when we saw that it was raining,
we decided to visit the museum at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
We had read only positive reviews about it. After having breakfast
at THE COOKIE JAR (a great little restaurant that we never leave
without picking up a huge cinnamon bun and cookies for later),
we headed for the museum. On the way through campus, we stumbled
upon an overlook with a diagram showing where Denali (as well
as a few other mountains) are located on the horizon. Of course,
it was too cloudy to see anything, but I made a mental note to
return on a clear day. After touring the exhibits, we sat in on
an informative talk about the Native Alaskan culture and arts
and even stayed after the talk to ask the speaker even more questions.
It was wonderful! Here are some photos:
Steve and his Kodiak bear friend
Native clothing & basketwork
It's a rainy day here in Fairbanks and it's also chilly outside.
The current temperature is 55 degrees and it's mostly cloudy -
as can be expected when it rains. It felt good to put on a sweater
when Steve and I went out to breakfast this morning.
Last night we went on a "cruise" aboard the Riverboat
Discovery II. The trip was sponsored by the AUSA and military
members got two-for-one tickets. The cruise wasn't the typical
one offered by the Riverboat. The typical cruise involves stops
along the way to visit a dog musher's camp, an Athabascan village,
and other things. But a typical cruise also doesn't include food.
We didn't get to visit any of the usual places and the cruise
only lasted about 2 1/2 hours, but we got a buffet dinner.
we got to Discovey Landing, the skies were already looking pretty
ominous. We drove through some sprinkles on our way and wondered
if the rain would come and mess up the night. The temperatures
were cool and I was glad that Steve brought both his denim jacket
and his fleece - which I carried. As we waited to board, a gorgeous
rainbow appeared on the horizon.
We soon met up with one of the other First Sergeants and his
wife Nancy. We chatted a bit before boarding and sat together
when we finally did get on the paddleboat. We opted for an inside
seat because of the weather and I'm glad we did. We could see
those poor souls sitting outside begin putting on jackets and
as soon as we got underway. It was downright cold! Soon we were
joined by another Sergeant in Steve's company and his wife. They
are true Alaskans - born and raised here; his wife in a small
fishing village (population 200) on the west coast and he in Anchorage.
They met in college when they both came to Fairbanks to attend
UAF. Although it took his wife a little time to warm up to the
conversation, she soon began adding to our comical narration about
the sights we were seeing while traveling the river.
House with grass roof
Log house with dock
House with float plane
There were incredible log homes - thousands of square feet in
size - with their own docks and boats and even float planes. Then
there were the smaller homes (with float planes). And then there
were the small shacks, older houses in disrepair, and dog mushers
homes - with their many dog houses lined up as if in their own
little village. It was a "neighborhood" reached only
by boat, plane, or gravel/dirt road.
Although the food wasn't anything to rave about
(overdone salmon, baked beans, cole slaw - which they ran out
of, potato salad, and cornbread - too dry and tasteless), we all
had a pretty good time and enjoyed the company and the float.
I fully intend to do it again - but this time I'll take the real
tour and experience the things we missed out on.
I would also highly recommend a visit to the museum
(see photos at left). I fully intend to include a trip to this
interesting venue when family and friends come to visit (IF they
decide to visit!)
|From this point
onward, I will be keeping monthly journals.
Click HERE to view my August Journal.
© 2003, 2004, 2005 Susan L Stevenson