Tuesday, April 13, 2021

cannon beach

this photo and the header are of Cannon Beach in Oregon.  We will be taking a break and then posting old photos from Oregon where we lived after leaving Alaska.   Glad you enjoyed the Alaskan journey, it was fun for us too.

Monday, April 12, 2021

We woke up on our first morning outside Alaska in spectacular surroundings. We were in a pull-out area and right across the road were hills that had fog moving across them. Behind us was a gorgeous looking blue lake. I would’ve liked to gaze at those hills and see if it was possible to hike near the lake, but there were no facilities in the little rest area and the priorities were bathroom and coffee. So we took the dogs outside to do their business, got back in the truck and got back underway.

We were both tired all day, since we’d barely slept the night before. It was the wee hours of the morning by the time we found a place to stop and then Miki was stressed and needing attention. So when we saw a nice camp ground in the middle of the afternoon, we stopped. It was a lovely spot, the weather was perfect, and we set our tent up under a tree. The two people and the two dogs were thrilled. The dogs loved tent camping and were happy to settle into the tent on their blankets. As the journey went on, they got really excited when we’d stop and they saw us setting up the tent. Once we were done taking stuff out of the truck, we placed some food on the floor of the passenger side and the makeshift litter box in the space under the steering wheel, opened the sliding windows on the cab and the back of the cab, and let Pearl (the cat) out of her carrier. Once the four-legged furry kids were settled, Bill and I took turns in the showers. We’d been living without running water for the whole of the previous year and most of the year before that, so we weren’t really used to showers any more. Bill went first. He came back and said it cost a quarter to get the hot water, but it went on forever. I actually found this a bit stressful! I went in, stuck my quarter in the slot and the water began coming. I washed my hair and the rest of me and the water kept coming. There was no way to turn it off and I didn’t want to waste it, but I was unsure what else I could do, so in the end, I just decided to stand there and enjoy it. We made some supper and hung out with the dogs. It was a nice evening and we all slept really well. 

The next day, the rain came. It rained, rained, and rained some more. We didn’t want to set up the tent under the circumstances, so we stopped at a place with little cabins and hoped they’d let us in with the dogs. Bill went in and asked. The woman said she wasn’t really supposed to let dogs in, but considering the weather, she would if we promised to clean up well when we left. We did and were grateful. It was a cute little cabin with a small kitchen and bathroom and a very comfortable bed. 

It was quite an enjoyable trip south. We’d agreed we would not rush but wouldn’t dawdle, either. We were on schedule until what we thought would be the penultimate night. We were somewhere in British Columbia and planned to stay the night there, cross the border the following day, and stay somewhere in Washington before going on to our new home. We stopped at what looked like a beautiful camp ground—and it was quite breathtaking with big trees and a sort of deep ravine running through it. Bill paid for a site, but when we got to it and I got out of the truck, I was almost blown into the side of it by the wind! Clearly we were not going to be able to set up a tent under the circumstances, so we decided to walk the dogs and see if it eased up. It didn’t. We decided to leave, push on across the border, stay in Washington that night, and get to our destination a day sooner than expected. Back into the truck we all went. We stopped somewhere and got subs to eat later for dinner. We stopped for the day a few hours later than we’d planned and we were both so hungry that subs never tasted so good! 

Friday, April 9, 2021

leaving part 2

This realtor was a funny guy and a bit of a character. He had a round face with a prominent mustache. He had these commercials where he’d be standing with someone whose house he had sold, saying as he held up a SOLD sign, ‘If you want to have one of these on your house, (then holding up a company FOR SALE sign), you’ve got to have one of these on your house.’ Then the seller would say, ‘Jim sold my house in 3 weeks! Thanks, Jim!’ and they’d shake hands. As we sat upstairs in the cabin, having spent 5 minutes saying we wanted to sell and him deciding to buy it, I joked with him that this was way quicker than any of the sales in his commercials. He said, ‘Do you want to do a commercial?’ We agreed to do one, so a film crew showed up one day with Jim and his signs. He did his spiel with the signs and I said, ‘Jim sold my house in 5 minutes!’ Then Bill said, ‘Thanks, Jim!’ and we all shook hands. It was funny. No one had to know that he sold it in 5 minutes because he’d sold it to himself! We did get to see it once before we left. It was weird watching the news and then suddenly seeing ourselves in a commercial. 

And so we prepared to leave Alaska. It was bittersweet. I loved Alaska, but I knew it was time to go and I was excited to see what would happen next. It was painful to say goodbye to Bentley and J Frost E, but they went to a good new home together.

The two dogs and Pearl the cat were coming with us. Mikiruaq, the sled dog, was not good with change or being in a vehicle. She would get very agitated. The day we left, we’d gotten a later start than we wanted and it was afternoon before we were ready to get the critters and ourselves into the truck. First came Pearl. We had to get her into the cat carrier, so we played some sort of trick on her to get her in there. She glared at us in return, but she was safely tucked in, so into the truck she went. The black lab, Chunkman, was fine. He was very mellow and laid back. Miki the sled/bed dog was a different story, though. She was very agitated, even with the sedative the vet prescribed for her. She crawled under the cabin. We could not coax her out, even with food, although Chunk was happy to have a snack while waiting in the truck for her. Bill had to crawl under the cabin and get her. She kept backing up until something blocked her way and he was able to reach her. We got her into the truck and hoped she would settle in on the blankets and rest. She didn’t, but we were off. We crossed the border with no incident, but when we got to the place we’d planned to stay—the same place we stayed at the last night of our journey to Alaska a decade earlier, we found that they would not let us in with the dogs. So we drove on. It was late and just about dark when we saw the pull-out where a couple of RVs were parked. We pulled in there and tried to get a bit of sleep. We didn’t get much, because Miki was vocalizing a lot and we were trying to keep her quiet. When it got light a few hours later, I saw that our surroundings were breathtaking. There were craggy hills across the road with fog partially obscuring them. There was a bright blue lake behind us. It was some compensation for the twinge of sadness I felt at leaving the far north. We didn’t have time to linger and enjoy the views, though. We needed to find a bathroom and some coffee. Priorities, you know. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

leaving part 1

 As we regrouped in North Pole after our post-Fairbanks plans changed, we were still thinking about the same things that had led us to sell the house in Fairbanks. The issues had not changed and we still needed to figure out what we should do next. Once Bill had learned that he could get Irish citizenship by descent, he began gathering the documentation he would need. He first got birth, marriage, death certificates from the United States. Once we had those, it was time to try to get the documentation needed from Ireland. When we looked into how to do this, we discovered that we would need to send in a form with a year on it. They would look for records from that year and the year before and year after as well. We were left to guess a bit here, because we weren’t sure about his grandfather’s year of birth and while we had a date for his grandmother, we were aware that this might not be accurate, since somehow we learned that she had lied about her age on her marriage certificate as she was a bit older than her new husband. So we guessed for both of them and sent in the paperwork. They found nothing for that time frame for his grandfather. Records were often lost and at the time, Ireland was still colonized by the British, who were extremely brutal towards the native Irish people in many ways, including exporting food while Irish people starved to death. Birth records were easily lost or destroyed. It was suggested that we could try church records or submit another form with another year. This was not necessary, though, because they did find records for his grandmother. That’s all we needed. Even though we had all the documentation, we decided to wait until we knew what we’d be doing and where we’d be before sending in the citizenship application. It said it could take 18 months. Who knew where we would be by then? We were pretty sure it wouldn’t be in North Pole.

We went around and around about this until finally we had a plan. We called the realtor who’d sold us the place a year before and he came over to chat. We told him we wanted to sell and asked whether someone else could take over the contract or how we should go about it. He said he’d have to talk to the owner, but throughout the time we were sitting there and while we were talking and he was answering, he was looking around. Suddenly, he said, ‘Maybe I’ll buy it. Yes, I think I will. I’ll buy it!’ This was a surprise! He whipped out his calculator and tapped away. He looked up and offered us $5000 more than we’d paid for it a year before. Stunned, we accepted the offer. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

transfer station

photo courtesy of KUAC
When we lived in both Fairbanks and North Pole, there was no home garbage collection. Instead, we brought our trash to the transfer station, a fenced in open area lined with dumpsters. Shortly after we got to Fairbanks, in an effort to discourage dumpster diving and encourage re-use, they built a covered platform where people could leave things they no longer wanted, but could be used by others. One day when I wasn’t feeling well and was only half awake, I heard someone on the radio talking about the transfer station mall and my muddled mind struggled to figure out where that was. Then I had a chuckle when I realized what she was talking about.

We used the transfer station ‘mall’ both ways. We would sometimes find useful items there. Once, in North Pole, we had a funny experience. Daughter and I had a running joke for years about kitty couches. Patterns for crocheted kitty couches were all the rage at the time and she used to tell me over and over again that I needed to make several for our cats. I resisted. Not my kind of project and besides, they had many boxes lined with crocheted blankets they seemed to like just fine. By the time we were in North Pole, she had moved away from Alaska, but one day as we were driving out of the transfer station, I suddenly spotted something. ‘KITTY COUCH!’ I yelled, ‘STOP!’ Poor Bill jumped so high that he almost put his head through the truck roof as he slammed on the brakes. I jumped out and went to examine the miniature couch. I think this miniature couch was for children and not cats, but it could become a kitty couch and so it did. We brought it home and put it upstairs in the cabin by the door to the porch. Two of the cats, who normally did not want anything to do with one another, shared that couch, always one on the left side and the other on the right. A truce was called when the kitty couch was in use and each of them had their spot.

We also used the transfer station to leave things for others. When we were leaving the house in Fairbanks, thinking we would be going to Maine, we brought a lot of stuff there, including a set of dishes. I had them in a box and was carrying them to the platform when I was stopped by a guy just hanging out there, spending some time sitting on the tailgate of his large pickup truck. ‘Whatcha got there?’ he asked. I tilted the box so he could see what it contained. ‘Go ahead and stick it right in here, please,’ he said. So I did. He had other things in his truck, so I guess he’d been there for a while.

The woman I heard on the radio that day had picked up a beautiful doll house and many accessories at the transfer station—her daughter loved it. Of course, people put junk there, too, but mostly they were good about what they left there and it was always neat and clean. Because it was covered, it was protected from the elements. We could use such a place right now as the books pile up around us. We have boxes of books that we’ve read since the lockdowns began. We don’t want to keep them, but with charity shops closed and no wee free libraries in this town, we have nowhere to bring them. We have considered putting a box outside with a sign saying ‘free books, help yourself,’ but we have not had enough dry weather to do that yet. Meanwhile, new books somehow seem to keep coming and the piles keep growing! Every time we go to the recycling centre with our tins and glass, we think about how great it would be if there was a covered area for people to leave some of the things they bring up there. Many times we see perfectly good items that people could use, but they get rained on and ruined. Sad.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

the north pole

 when we first saw this, we thought it was funny, a north pole in North Pole but not The North Pole. :).

Friday, April 2, 2021

the cabin

the cabin in north pole

one side of the living room

the other side


one side of upstairs

the other side

checking the oil

I love this shadow from a candle holder we had

a filet crocher dog that Shari made