Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meeting a Fish at a Seward, AK Aquarium

food, food, glorious food

Joelle is getting so much better eating "real" food. I put quotations on it because it's all pureed with the occasional corn pieces, noodles and puffs. I put just about anything in front of her now, of course it needs to be swallowable. We started her with the veggies and she used to love them. But now she has grown to have a sweet tooth (except she doesn't have any teeth yet at almost 8 months I guess she has sweet gums!) and it is so hard for me to get her to eat her veggies. I have to swap spoon fulls back and forth between fruits and veggies so she gets tricked into eating it. Last night she threw a huge tantrum since she didn't have any fruit with her dinner. She didn't eat as much either...I think she thought I would give in and give her the fruit. She definitely got the wrong mom for that! Poor girl. I can already tell I'm going to be a real stickler.

Here's Joelle with her tray full of corn I cut off the cob. She loved trying to get those pieces in her mouth!

caribou, moose, and BEARS--OH MY!!

Here we are in the metropolis of Anchorage, Alaska and we actually have to worry about bears. Since we have lived here there have been 4 known bear attacks on humans. Two of those were in public parks. One was on a woman who was running on a trail through a park with her dog. None of those attacks have been fatalities (thank the Lord!) but all have been in serious condition and hospitalized.

On Ft. Richardson/Elmandorf AFB you are not allowed to leave your trash out on the curb overnight due to the bear problem. Bears have been known to wander through the neighborhoods and rummage through the trash. You will git FINED if you live on post and leave your trash out. These bears are such an issue! As a matter of fact, the AFB set up a trap using Cinnabons and caught one of the bears. Pretty incredible, and slightly strange.

All of this has put a damper on my need to walk the dogs outdoors. We have learned that the dogs will not protect me, but we draw the bears towards me. Not what I'm going for! I figure if I walk in our Anchorage neighborhood I should be ok since our neighborhood is surrounded by main roads, but I don't know I'll find myself walking on the great trails throughout the city with the dogs. Kind of sad.

This picture is from the National Wildlife Conservation in Girdwood, AK. Notice the bear is behind a fence....otherwise I would not be this close to it!

At the conservation we also saw caribou, bald eagles, musk ox, buffalo and moose. Here's Joelle and Justin by a moose.

And like I said in a previous post, the moose are EVERYWHERE! We've seen at least four on post and have heard of many others on road ways. In our Newcomer's Brief (which I didn't stay for since it was 9am-5pm!) everyone was taught what to do if you encounter a moose or bear. Wow! Never thought I'd need to get educated on that!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Great Adventure: July 12-17

We started our drive from Spokane, WA to Ft. Richardson, AK on July 12. It really was a great drive that day. The weather was beautiful and on paper it was only a 6 hour drive, so reality for us was an 8 1/2 hour drive (two dogs and a baby really add on time, plus we had a long wait at the border). The rest of our six day drive consisted of 10 to 12 hours a day driving.

It was day two that we really saw the beauty in the BC Rocky Mountains. I couldn't believe how we were driving right through these gigantic mountains. It was unbelievably beautiful! As the days went on we really experienced the majesty and the beauty of the Lord's great outdoors. I am so glad we were able to see it.

We saw numerous black bears, buffalo, mountain sheep and caribou walking along the sides of the road. We were told about all the moose along the ALCAN but we only saw four and they were all females in the distance. But we've seen a handful since being here in Anchorage. And most have been on Ft. Richardson.

We were able to see a few glaciers in the mountains

The gas prices throughout this trip were unbelievable! If it weren't for the Army paying us for this trip we probably would have never gone. It cost us around $50 for almost 9 gallons of gas. Ouch! Of course we did drive two cars, so our gas totaled $2,000 for the trip. We thank the Army for picking up the tab on that one.

It was pretty interesting driving on the ALCAN and not really knowing when the next gas station would show up. They had road signs with towns posted and the kilometers left until we got there, but a town really consisted of a lodge and the family running the lodge. Most had a gas station but it was only one or two pumps. We had a rule that we would never let our gas tanks get below half a tank. We know people who actually did run out of gas because they got to the gas station too late in the evening and it was closed. Thank the Lord that didn't happen to us!

This was our first road sign that said Alaska! This was on day 5. We were so excited! The end was nearing!

At the end of the ALCAN right before you get into Alaska there is a 50 or so mile stretch of these "roller coaster roads". THEY'RE TERRIBLE! It really is a ton of little dips in the road that sneak up on you. You're constantly hitting the brakes, swerving, listening to your car crash to the was soooooo not cool.

On day 6 we finally made it into Ft. Richardson. Our cars proved to be faithful and got us there safely. On day 4 my CD player broke which was a huge bummer, but Justin brought his ipod adapter which uses a radio station so you can hear the ipod and we were both able to listen to the ipod if we were both on the same station. Pretty cool! I also got a ton of rock chips in my windshield and had to replace my brakes once we got to Anchorage, but besides that we were never broken down on the side of the road or had any car accidents. Praise the Lord! You really are out in the middle of nowhere without any cell phone coverage with hundreds of miles between "towns" and only the occassional passerby on the road.

Here's a picture of Joelle with one foot in the Yukon and one foot in Alaska

cute cousins...awww :-)

We were able to stay in Spokane, WA for almost two weeks. The best part was definitely seeing Joelle with her cousin Xander (Alexander). Joelle is two months older than him but he is much bigger than her. He's probably at least three pounds heavier! They are so cute together. Joelle has this thing where she has to touch people when she sees them.
Hello Xander!

So serious. But they are so cute!

My younger sister Erica, Me with Joelle, and my older sister Jill with Xander

Yellowstone National Park: June 30

We made sure to stop by Yellowstone on our way. And FYI: if you're on military orders (like we were) you can show them at the gate and get in for free. It'll save you $25.00

The park was pretty cool. The scenery is beautiful! We saw lots of buffalo, a few bears in the distance, beautiful waterfalls, played with snow in the mountains, and of course visited the geysers.
Here we are at Old Faithful

This is a beautiful waterfall with the constant rainbow. I loved it!

Of course, what's Yellowstone without a big buffalo right outside your car?

The day ended up being super hot, which made it hard to walk around with Joelle. And feeding her in the car throughout the day wasn't great either. But it was a fun trip and we are glad we decided to visit.

A Shout Out to the Bumbo!

The people who made Bumbo's are geniuses! Since we started Joelle on baby food right before we began our large move to Alaska the Bumbo became an essential part of our day. It became her highchair and playchair. I don't know what we would have done without that seat.

Here I am feeding Joelle in the frontseat of my car (which we did quite often)

As you can see, it didn't phase her one bit :-)

saying goodbye

I never expected it to be hard leaving Ft. Leonard Wood, but it ended up being a little sad. The Lord blessed us immensely while we were there. I was able to meet a handful of women who were having babies the same time as me. We were able to watch our babies grow together and share stories and learn from each other. It was priceless! I also had a large group of other friends that grew to be my weekly lunch group. And of course there was our great sunday school class at Westside Baptist Church. That was a wonderful group of people and our teachers, Tom and Robyn Crabtree, are wonderful and priceless :-).
Of course, nothing can compare to The Delafield Crew! We had so much fun being a part of it. Justin would occasionally "Catch the Bus" to school (the carpool). Also we would have our monthly (or so it seemed sometimes weekly) get togethers which was either a BBQ or out to dinner. We had so much fun on Delafield! It was hard to say goodbye to that group.
The Delafield Crew was so great and threw us a going away party. How wonderful are they!? We already miss you guys and hope that our journey's in the Army have us living by each other again (except...maybe not Jack Johannes since he's not airborne! Ha! Just kidding Jack :-) I would be your neighbor any day.)

I'm Back!

Hello Friends and Family!

We are now almost settled here in Alaska and I have found time and energy to update this blog. The bad news is that the high speed internet here is actually painfully slow. It takes minutes to upload pictures. I will do my best to recap our adventure but it could take me awhile. So I will blog in phases.

We made it to Alaska July 17 and in four days had nailed down a rental house. We were then able to hang out on Anchorage for awhile before we went back to Spokane, WA for my sister's wedding on Aug. 1. We moved into our house Aug. 6, which of course proved to be another military move with issues. The movers never give an exact time they will show up, just sometime between 8am and 5pm. We have a few moves under our belt now and NONE of them have happened before 10am. Justin had to go into work at 7am and we thought for sure he would be back before the movers. WRONG! At 8:30am a contractor showed up to continue painting the inside of the house (the house wasn't quite ready for us like it should have been), at 8:40am the moving truck shows up, at 8:45am Joelle decides she's hungry (and we're talking cereal...not a bottle). The next thing I know I hear lawn mowers going. The realtor had contacted a lawn service to cut the grass since it hadn't been done yet. Of course they opened the gate and the dogs went running into the front yard. So I now have a hungry baby on my hip, clipboard in hand checking off boxes as they come into the house, dogs running in the yard, and a contractor painting the house. The contractor thankfully saw I had my hands full and he left and came back hours later. I called Justin and he showed up around 9:50am. But praise the Lord for great neighbors! Our neighbor came by to introduce himself and noticed I had my hands full. He left and came back with a coffee his wife fixed for me and a bouncer for Joelle so my hands could be freed. I definitely felt taken care of :-)