Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dec. 21, 2011 Winter Solstice

It's here, the shortest day of the year.  Three hours and change of daylight.  The days have flown by.  We arrived in Alaska almost five months ago and the changes have been dramatic, physically and mentally.  Extreme daylight, extreme cold.
The reality of needing a job and working was not one either of us wanted to jump right into after the summer of fun.  I can say though, for me, I have found a job that I love and look forward to everyday.  I have been the "Lunch Lady Man"  for just over three years now.  It is a complete 180 from what I have been cooking for the ten years prior. Fine dining at Penguin Isle in Nags Head, Chateaux Bordeaux in St. John, USVI, Prima Italian Restaurant in Wilmington, and Chelsea's Wine Bar and Eatery.  I was able to work with dedicated cooks, the best ingredients, and cooked for celebrities.  I was able to develop menu items (the Heda Bruschetta, etc..) and basically do whatever I wanted with food.  I cooked in peoples homes, for thousands of dollars entertaining with my own creations.  All the while, I felt something was lacking.  I feel more fulfilled to cook for people who need the food.  It is the only meal some of those students get that day.  The food does leave something to be desired, but the choices veggies, fruit, milk are simple and straight forward.  I am working toward bringing something better to the table.  I don't know how just yet, there are obstacles, as with anything worth doing.  The people I have worked with, Shirley, Barbara, Sylvia, Sharee, and of course Linda have showed me the most important part of feeding people.  You gotta love what you are doing.  Do what ever you can to help the kids understand about the food they eat and hopefully be better students, people.  There are many programs that I like and what to be a part of, but the people I have the pleasure of working with show me what it means to serve.  Thank you Mandie, Sue, Whitney, Lyman, and Darlene.  The love you show helps me to keep getting up so early and walk done to that school.  Have a Happy Holidays  and may 2012 be your year to live your life your way...


Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15th #2

Today marks my and Trevor's second anniversary together(Oh and Mamma-mia-chaqita-banana-fana Happy Birthday to you too!). These last few years with Trevor have been a whirlwind of excitement. I'm happy to be with someone who see's the change around us as opportunity to opening new doors. We've been through many together already, and hope it never ends. He's a special person to all of us and I'm so lucky to be with him every day. With him, comes his family, whom I love and miss, and all the quirky things about him that make me smile. I would not be in this very spot in Time if it weren't for him.

Trevor, I'm not going to say what you already know......................okay, yeah I am...I love you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November = - degrees!

Hello everyone,

I wanted to post some recent pictures and show you just how much the landscape has changed.  These are from an early November Saturday morning walk with me and the dogs. The area is an undeveloped subdivision just behind M's parents house of wooded lots and gravel roads. The morning of the walk, the temperature is probably right around zero and actually nice.  The dogs usually lead me off the road to side paths with snow drifts that reach almost to my knee.  Now that we are nearing Thanksgiving, the overnight temps. are regularly in the -30 to -45 range here in North Pole.  I haven't been able to find the explitive that best describes the sensation.  Years of working in restaurants with walkin freezers did nothing to prepare me for this environment. The picture of me is in normal going out attire, just now it includes an insulated face mask.

Well, Marie and I just started taking boxes over to our new apartment!  We are living in Fairbanks within one half mile from my work and less than half the distance to Marie's Work.  It has been really nice and a blessing to be able to stay with her folks until we were able to get our feet under us. I trudged out to the camper yesterday to get some items and marveled at the fact that we lived in there for a month while driving all over this country.  We have been able to settle in nicely with welcoming friends and family helping us along the way.  It has made it seem like the trip was years in the past, but it was just this summer.  I encourage everyone to get out and see the country, go anywhere, you will be sure to meet interesting and memorable people and that is what I believe now is the best part of any journey.  We will post pictures of the new place as we get settled.  I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and eat some oysters for us!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mid November already?

As the holidays approach, I can't help but think of where Trevor and I were a year ago. It's flown by so fast! Tattoos and weddings. Thanksgiving at our little two bedroom home with 8 people and 5 dogs! Bridgewater Christmas in Greensboro and the snow drift(practice for us). This was when we were deciding when to tell family about our new adventure. I can still see the look on Mamma B's face when we "dropped the bomb". Knowing one of her children is going to some frozen far off place, I'm not sure how I would react with such brazen information. After the initial shock, she showed her support by giving me a book she's read a dozen times over by Nora Roberts "Northern Lights" and support comes in different forms. We wouldn't change any of these moments. We love & miss you East coast family and friends! By the way, who's on Skype?

Change. I look out the window to read the thermometer: -10. A friend mentioned it's suppose to be even colder by the end of the week(-30's!). We know our former residence is experiencing the typical "southern winter" with balmy 80's and probably rain. I don't miss it, but it certainly isn't 80 or rainy here! It's a ritual almost; dressing in layers. I equate being in those layers much like being in the womb. Warm and comfy, it can put you in a sleepy like state just as quick as eating a good meal, if you're too careful. Or, it's like a bear going into hibernation. Only, we have do this thing called 'making a living', so no sleep like the bear. Wonder when NatGeo or Discovery is going to come knocking and ask us to be part of a sleep study? ha!

We're all hanging in there. Maverick is in love with the snow. He's such a puppy on our walks. Sticks and stones don't have a chance with him. When he sees something sticking out in the snow he pounces on it and pulls it free whipping it in the air like it's some new toy he found. Mav's favorite thing to do is walk along the small bushes, pause, then gun it back onto the trail. I haven't figured out why this irritates Lucy, maybe it's just a game they're playing, but she patiently waits for 'the kill' and stands in the spot Maverick will most likely run through to catch him in mid stride with her ferocious toothy grip. Can you tell how much I love these two? Who dedicates a whole paragraph to their dogs right? Isn't there anything else in our lives happening? :)

Glad you're curious!!! Yes! Trevor's classes began this past week. He mentioned how the classes are on east coast time, and since we're 4hrs behind, 10p class is really at dinner time here for him. Wow, I've almost forgotten how late he had to stay up to be in these online classes. He's almost finished. We still don't understand what "Environmental Health: Ecolocigal Perspectives" still has to do with Health and Nutrition. I just randomly flipped to page 90..the top of the page reads: Consider the Cost: Dioxin in Tampons?..........Really?

He has this other book I'm curious to read that's been sitting on his class notes: "The Age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960's" by David Farber. There's inspiration! Trevor is also very inspiring. He emailed me a link last week to a series of "how to" business classes being held at UAF's community college the next 5 weeks. The first class was based on figuring out your passion and important questions one should self...when deciding to take on such risky endeavors. Being on a business adventure has been exciting. I felt like this class affirmed how right-on-track I feel. My boss asked for eggrolls for a group she's having over today. I'm very thankful for her support, letting me use her kitchen, and remaining On-the-Clock. Yeah, yeah...I'm already there, but still...Amidst all this eggroll juggling, I've found a yoga studio to attend during my time off work. Yoga's not as integrated in Fairbanks as it is in Wilmington, but there are people out there who are making it happen. The cold makes it a little difficult, but not letting it halt everything.

It's like I posted on facebook: 'not sure how all this craziness is going to pan out, but I'm still panning'. Is this how the gold miner's felt? Seeing that shiny golden nugget, knowing it was going to change their lives for better or for worse regardless the amount of effort put into the endeavor? This reminds me of a former boss I had at the D.O.C in Wilmington. After every challenge course we worked, he'd ask the group to share with everyone what their golden nugget was for the day. A practice still relative outside the circle. We all deserve happiness. Happiness is always right in front of you.

Peace, Love and Pumpkin Torte(it's a dessert I'm hooked on..thanks boss!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Delta Trip Oct2011

end of the runTent from Hell10011101021001110102aGood morning!In the night... A big footDinner?Close upfrozen bottleCoryfrozen stuff foliage Ready to ride!Crossing the creek.The line-upSnow capped mountainsReally?muddin' stuckWalter's coming throughbad assHe can see clearly nowThe Suzuki did well.1001111248

Delta Trip Oct2011, >click on link<

Our first Jeep Rally and the last one of the summer season. Trevor and I spent the weekend with the Fairbanks Offroad Lions Club in Delta Junction at Jarvis Creek for a jeep wheelin' birthday run.

Now in bear country, we arrived at our destination around ten at night. Dark and windy, the trip leader, Cory, scouted an area out of the wind and we unloaded the jeeps from the trailers and set up camp under the light of the camp fire and my dad's headlights from his CJ-5. At some point some of us heard a small crash near where the trailers were parked. As Cory walked towards the noise to check it out, he backed down thinking, in the dark, it may be something we all don't want to mess with.

The birthday girl let us borrow her propane generated heater for the night as Trevor and I bundled in our sleeping bags for some shut-eye. We slept on cots my dad let us use, while he opted to sleep on the ground. Staying true to his manly roots, I suppose. It was a bone chilling 20-something degrees by the time we went to bed, and I found myself rubbing my ice-cold toes around 430am thinking they were frost bit..false alarm.

The morning welcomed us with a spectacular view of the mountains, and also...bear tracks! They were so close to camp it sent the other kinds of chills down my spine(meeting up with a bear is one of my worst fears). There were plenty of armed men on hand in case a certain Ursus were to
break camp, bringing a little peace..a little. As I searched for a place to pee, I found a spot close to a canine carcass with the bear tracks twice the size of my hand. Thinking they were old tracks because of the carcass, I wasn't too scared until others went to inspect the area saying the tracks were fresh and probably from last night..explaining the crash. We figured the bear was
checking out the perimeter & its new found acquaintances...hmmmmmmmm.

Leaving the bear tracks behind, everyone geared up for the jeep run. Five hours of bouncing and mud slinging led us to some of the most beautiful scenery we have witnessed. This also marked a new trail to ride for future runs. Not knowing what to expect, the trail offered plenty and lots of testosterone! hahaha!! There were a few women in the mix too who held their own. I even saw some mud time..Just glad nothing broke while I was behind the wheel. I'm sure there's no perfect run and at least one thing must happen. For this run, the birthday girl had overheating problems, while one guy's tire just came off, as another became Sgt. Stuck in the Mud, but in all, we made it out unscathed.

A great weekend and a great first run. Trevor and I will certainly attend others in the future. There are runs during the winter, once a month. Right now the prospect of camping in the snow is out of the question, but you never know. Have a great week everyone.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

4-Letter 'S' word

One of our last bike rides took us to Chena Lakes. They have a great pathway about a mile or so from the recreation entrance where we discovered new bike loops along the lake. The pictures above are within 1 hr of each other; both equally astonishing...and it's just Chena Lakes! Looking forward to checking out their ice fishing houses this winter.

Last weekend we had people over for food and fire. Members of the Fairbanks Offroad Lions Club, friends, and neighbors attended as we enjoyed each others company. Roasting giant marsh mellows, and burning old turkey deep fry oil it was a good time. Who knows how old that oil was, but it helped keep the fire going. Disclaimer: It is NOT recommended using any kind of oil to burn (for fun) unless 5 or more coherent adults are present, so kids, just don't do it. The next day the coals were still so hot; even from a thorough water soaking; that another fire was easily started for one last burn..sheesh.
This week was a week of refocusing. Being unemployed has helped me look at my options and evaluate what my I'd like for our future. Maybe I should call those California psychics they keep advertising on tv..anywho. Having this time to think, has led me to other opportunities that will quite possibly help my food business adventure get rolling..heh heh.

I met a couple of dear friends who work at the University and was told there is a community commercial kitchen available to those who need it(check)....And with all the holiday bazaars coming up, and names to important people at the health department, there really is no excuse for this not to take off(check, check).

Getting a job is first priority, must have some sort of income to make this happen. So yesterday, after meeting a man selling a food truck(not quite what I'm looking for, but close) we drove 30 miles to Skiland where we briefly met a female moose and calf up the Steese Hwy. The fuse to my horn went out, so yelling at the calf and revving the engine not only didn't work in shewing the calf back into the woods, but we also received dirty looks from miss momma moose(she was no my little pony) we waited. You should be able to click on the picture and then hold the CTRL key while tapping the (+) key to zoom in; miss momma moose is in the pond to the left of the road. After arriving at Skiland, the owner, Brenda, gave us a grand tour of the facility and mentioned how employees can stay at the lodge for work if this too good to be true? The Mt. Aurora Fairbanks Creek Lodge is actually an old bunkhouse that was built in the 20's during Alaska's gold mining era. At first glance you wouldn't think this building was actually a lodge by the way the exterior seems to be hanging on with sheets of metal. However, walking in you are welcomed by a warm open space for dinner or entertainment for 20 or more..wood everything(almost i.e. floor walls, furniture)..very rustic. There are twelve rooms upstairs, each with at least two beds, no tv, six shared bathrooms, and each with an infrared light for viewing of the Aurora Borealis from your window. Brenda told us from August through October, Japanese tour buses come through specifically to view the Northern Lights. Between the ski hill facility and the lodge, there will be plenty to do. We are looking forward to spending more time here(work or not).

To tie in the title, what were the odds of us getting to Skiland and it snowing? A welcomed sign we were in the right place. It didn't stick, but it was enough to remind us, warm weather is now about 8-9 months away.We walked to a trail across the road from the lodge. It lead to an overlook that offers a breathtaking try to imagine it in white. There will be another picture of this in a couple of months.

It feels good keeping options open. When you give yourself permission to remain open to opportunity, life happens as it should. Right now, things are looking up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sept.12, 2011

With Labor Day a distant memory, fall has set in. The temperature today was a cozy 68 degrees F with the sun hugging us with her warmth. The lows have been constant at 40 to 44 degrees, almost $n%w weather!! haha!! The leaves are now yellow and are taking their time falling as mushrooms of all forms, shapes and sizes have seemed to take over.

We spent yesterday morning at Pioneer Park for the 10th Anniversary of September 11th. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years. I was in Alaska when it happened; and am here again for the 10th anniversary. As UAF's fire chief delivered his memorial speech, I couldn't help the tears that flowed knowing the families of the victims of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, & Flight 93 have struggled everyday to find solace since that tragic day. Some of us will never know the magnitude of their loss. But we can always help, by being present and supporting them morally with love and compassion, or by a simple thank you to 9/11's children who are now joining the services of our nation and to the service men and women who have been in before, during and after 9/11.

After the memorial service, Trevor spent the majority of the afternoon parting out 3 old bikes my dad had stowed away and putting together one nice working bike! Dee, you would be proud! So, with winter approaching, we now have two bikes to enjoy before the weather really changes.

Riding bikes is a favorite past time of ours. I will certainly miss it after old man winter moves in for the next 7-8 months. We enjoyed the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage for Labor Day weekend. Eleven miles of biking, we saw a moose and float planes land and take off at Lake Spenard. Our ride by train to Anchorage was pretty sweet as well. 12 hrs of never ending mountainous terrain. We got to see Dall sheep on mountain sides, and plenty of "swans on the left...swans on the left..everybody, there are swans on the left." There's plenty to do in Downtown Anchorage. If you ever find yourself there(during the summer) check out the Downtown Bicycle rental shop and the Anchorage Farmer's Market. The Marriot, The Hilton, or the Bent Prop Inn & Hostel(where we stayed) will be there waiting. We are looking forward to more visits south this might be warmer!

Labor Day 2011 Pictures >click here<

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Life in Alaska

It is Sunday August 21st and the weather is overcast with a constant slow rain.  The days are noticeably shorter than when we first arrived less than a month ago.  I was told that we lose 7 to 8 mins. a day.  Sunset is still late at 9:30 or so.  The temperature averages in the 60's with the sun poking out when it can.  I am ok with a rainy lazy Sunday. 

We have been working now for the past two weeks it has been nice in a way to get back to the real world. What hasn't been that great is the amount of paperwork and id showing it takes to get established in a new town. The dmv was a three trips in two days experience, because apparently valid driver's liscenses, social security cards, photo ids, and utility bills just isn't enough verification that I am who I say I am.  I wish they would get rid of the  boring paperwork and actually put hoops out in the parking lot to jump through.  someday..

I am getting more familiar with the area and Marie and I both are enjoying the almost unlimited hiking trails that are close by.  A great book our friend turned us onto is "Outside in the Interior" by Kyle Joly has been an excellent guide for day trips.  The University of Alaska Fairbanks has summer hiking trails and winter ski trails on the campus and they are amazing.  I have decided that this winter I want to take up cross country skiing and learn how to snow shoe.  There should at least be entertaining photos for people to comment on. 

For a combined birthday gift to each other, Marie and I will be taking the train from Fairbanks to Anchorage over labor day weekend and spending a couple nights in the big city.  We will probably rent bikes and do the tourist thing, taking photos, drinking beer, etc...  The train trip itself is a 12 hour rid that has stops along the way and travels through Denali Park. A little trip before the winter begins.  Yes winter and September I know. 

Well we hope everyone is doing well a we will post more pictures of the north as we get them.
Take Care
Trevor and Marie
Lucy and Maverick

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What's Fair?

That certain still in the air, an indication that winter is here…isn’t here yet. Although it has been rainy the past few days, we haven’t allowed the weather to stop us from our activities.

Yesterday, we went to a going away party. It seemed like every time someone pulled up, the rain would appear. With a great spread and a good crowd, we basically dined'n'dashed. Trevor found someone online selling a snowboard set, so we left to meet him at the university. Trevor is officially set for the winter.

Yesterday was also the last day of the Tanana Valley State Fair. I’m never too thrilled about the fair; droves of people, the rain, and the fact you just have to spend money-don’t I sound like an old bitty?!Ha! The food is always good and it looked like there was more variety than past years. Shrimp stands, cajun food, buffalo burgers..and chips on a stick? Something other than fried fried fried...Trevor opted for a plate of fried zuccini, I was just there for the band.

We went with my friend Dominic to see The Avery Wolves play. Our first encounter with this band was at a bar in North Pole called the Badger Den. The Avery Wolves describe their sound as Psychobilly: rockabilly mixed with punk. It works for them. They have their James Dean look and tattoos playing the drums, guitar, and base cello. Their one song at the Badger Den sounded really good; however, the owner shut them down. He didn’t like their sound. According to him they were “too loud.” In a bar now set up for live music, it was upsetting; well, except to the few loyal to place. Maybe they can do a Waylon Jennings mix next time. NOT! The band was able to play more than one song at the fair, so we were able to really see them in action. It was good to see a bigger crowd dancing away; I’m sure this and other stages will make up for 3 minute play time at the Den.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not too into crowds, but every once in a while you have to immerse yourself, or else, you really do turn into an old bitty. There are too many things to see and experience to be shut out from the world. At some point during the week there was a Lady GaGa look a like contest at the fair…Not sure this girl knew when it was:

It's SO evil to pick on people you don't even know! Who am I to judge this person, right? I think the question really is, what is this person thinking? At any rate, I’ll be judged by others, but not in a full leopard onesie at the fair. I know I’m going to hell, so save your breadth.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Canada/Alaska mix

burn viewSmith Lake, UAF AKfungi familycrazy treefireweedBerman Lake momentturdT + pupsadded these lateBFF's4eva!Quartz Quartz LakeMoose!DSCN7304Good morning Moon Lake!DSCN7297oh these dogs! Moon Lake SP, AKyes!DSCN7283DSCN7275Lion mavNearing Johnson's Crossing

Trying out Flickr. photos are mixed. If you can't view them, let me know. not sure it got all of them. too late to mess with organizing. Hope everyone's having a great week so far. love ya!