Welcome to North Pole, Alaska!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Moose on the Loose!

Let me explain this title:
Yesterday afternoon, I was chatting with Shannon (my neighbor and good friend) in her living room. I was listening to her story, facing the window, when suddenly I see a very large moose in her backyard aka OUR backyard! I jump up, we throw open the backdoor, and begin the gawking, phase 1. (Our backyard runs into a woods line and there is a large metal fence that separates our backyard from the woods line and eventually the school which sits on the other side of the woods). This moose was on OUR side of the fence, six feet away, a first moose-in-the-yard sighting for me! We then see a large man, dressed in his uniform, with a .357 magnum (says Andrew) in his right hand. He yells to us something like "Mama just jumped over the fence (a 7 foot fence!) and this one got left behind...ya gotta be careful and I'm armed" (ya clearly!) So, apparently Mr. Moose was really Moosie Jr., scared out of his mind looking for Ma. So...the plan was to chase this moose around the fence out of our neighborhood and into the woods- a happy mother-child reunion! Hmmm...quite a difficult task.

Mother moose are quite protective of their children and they are also diurnal so basically they have two things in common with us, human-folk. However, when we do leave our children behind (not often) we usually do everything we can to reclaim them even if we have to scale a fence. To our surprise, the mom headed into the woods and stayed in the woods...
Meanwhile, the baby moose ran frantically around the neighborhood causing clueless (at the time) mothers to quickly lift up their muddy toddlers from the near death trap of a moose barreling around the garage corner (REALLY!).

Shannon and I are definitely at our gawking, stage 2 phase, as we are now in the front of the neighborhood watching the scene(trying not to act like Alaskan-newbies). Shannon turned around, glanced back at the fence, and said "OH MY! Mama is back!" or something like that, and YES, a HUGE Mama with googly (quite stupid-looking) eyes glaring towards her poor junior. Ah, the fence, so close yet so far, and we were thankful for that man-made barrier. After many minutes of the moose race, the baby moose and the mother moose met up with the fence between them and it was HEARTBREAKING! Shannon and I definitely agreed that they were talking, saying their last words, and shedding tears. They needed to get the baby moose out of our fenced-in neighborhood because we surely didn't want Mama trying to get back in!

ANYWAYS, Shannon's husband and Andrew came home from work and joined in on the mooseitarian effort. Next thing I know, Andrew has a metal baseball bat in hand, and is frantically running the baby moose towards the fence. And yes, he was CHARGED by the baby moose, and he promptly took a batting stance and the moose withdrew. It crossed my mind more than once that I might be driving Andrew to the hospital with a broken tailbone (being charged and thrown) or shattered shin-bone (being kicked and stamped on)...ouch. Soon enough the little guy (at least 900 pounds!) was out of the cul-de-sac and up on a hillside, waiting for his mother to find him. At school today, the students were out skiing (They cross-country ski in gym class!) when they saw Ma and Junior grazing by the trees. Mother and child reunited at last!

It might not sound as exciting on the screen but it was an exhilarating experience! I did take pictures and lots of video but the quality is poor and I need to work on it more until I can post something worthwhile to look at.

Now...our fellow moose neighbors are not as massive as this guy...but you can only imagine how big the Mom was if this is the size that some really are...

Tomorrow I am headed to Kenai, Alaska! I volunteered to be a chaperon for a 6th grade overnight field trip. Free trip down through beautiful Alaska...I'll take it! I also really like the group of 6th graders that I work with so it's a win-win situation! We are headed to Kenai, a tiny little town on the western coast of the Kenai Peninsula, just south of Anchorage. It is a 12 hour drive one-way via a nice comfy (and probably a bit smelly) tour bus! The students are learning about space and the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska (in Kenai) provides opportunities for simulated space and earth missions. We even sleep in "space-like" dormitories. It sounds like a pretty cool field trip (imagine: 6th graders, nice tour bus, two nights with friends, away from home...it should be interesting). I am the official photographer of the trip so I will post plenty of pictures upon my return.

Of course, Andrew is well-prepared for my absence. He has a Tombstone pizza in the freezer, pepsi, chips, salsa, and cheese sauce, and all of his evenings free to himself...
He is venturing to a Lez Zeppelin concert on Thursday (yes, I spelled that correctly) with friends. They are a female tribute group to Led Zeppelin. He doesn't work on Good Friday so I expect some cleaning, dusting, and building (I have a long list of wood projects) by the time I arrive back at my castle! He's such a prince :-)

It is time to pack and to enjoy my last hour with another adult over the age of 12 until Friday comes. Also, if you are sick of reading my blog, consider creating your own blog, because I would love to read about the whereabouts and happenings of our friends and family! I never thought I would be a blogger but I have to say, it is quite introspective and relaxing! I know I will love reading this ten years down the road too!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thank you!

Lastly, thank you to everyone for all the birthday well wishes via facebook, phone calls, text messages, and the postal system! Andrew surprised me with flowers and a Wii system! I also bought myself a present: a sewing machine! I'll let you know when I sew something worthwhile to look at.

Also, in the most recent issue of InTouch magazine, Lindy happened to pop up in a photograph (bottom left corner, curly hair, beautiful smile!). Living in New York City and having friends in the pr/advertising business really has its perks! I miss our visits to New York but mostly I miss my sister :-)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our first visitor!

Last Wednesday we ventured to the airport to welcome our first visitor, my Mom to Fairbanks! It was also my 22nd birthday (I know, old, right)so we ate dinner at a local Chinese restaurant, Pagoda, which was DELICIOUS! With my mom visiting for only a few days I knew that the four hour time difference would be hard to adjust to. It took Andrew and I a few weeks to get used to the time especially because we arrived at the height of winter when the sun was only out for four hours, if that! If my mom had a motto for the week it would be early to bed early to rise, as she was up by 6:00 each morning and down by 9:00! It was a great visit and I just wish my dad was along for the trip!

Hmm...Mom's leather coat might not be as insulating as she once thought! I sent her out to get the mail!

Also, just an FYI to everyone...if you are ever traveling and want a hassle-free visit through security...DO NOT wear two coats at once! My mom found this out the hard way. Although she looked quite innocent, security had her profiled because she was wearing two coats...less to carry! Also, she was carrying a "flaming muffin"in her carry-on bag according to TSA. Please see the below picture to view the "flaming muffin." It was really a fake cupcake with a tiny light bulb on top! Very funny!

It is never wise to drive your car around with a cracked and leaky power steering wheel line (which of course we did for six days), so on Friday morning, with Mom in tow, we took the car to Doctor Diesel (yes, really the name). Our nice little Ford needed a few hours of work and a lot of bucks, so we dropped it off for the day and hitched a ride with the owner of Doctor Diesel to the nearest car rental. We spent the majority if the day hitting up the Fairbanks hot spots (Fred Meyers, gourmet kitchen store, Sears) in our new and abused Subaru. We decided to meet up with Andrew at the PX (a store akin to a giant Rite Aid on-post) for lunch. My mom had been anticipating the visit to the PX and the Commissary (grocery store on-post). Upon walking into the mini-mall-like format of the PX, she exclaimed "They have a hairdresser here, too!" She was so excited about it and I couldn't contain the smile on my face...too cute!

Friday afternoon was spent in the kitchen. We decided to have a small party in a belated-celebration of Saint Patrick's Day and my birthday. My mom made a delicious pot or Irish stew, I took care of the dessert, and Andrew was put in charge of the beverages. It was a great Friday night and it was a great way for my mom to meet our Alaska friends too! Catch Phrase (the game) is a MUST at a party too!

The weather was the warmest that it has been since we have lived here! All week and weekend it was in the high teens and mid-twenties...beautiful! We didn't even wear coats on Sunday! The mid-twenties here is definitely not like the feeling of the mid-twenties anywhere else! With the sun shining it really feels nice, and with a sweater it is definitely bearable. On Saturday we headed towards Fox, Alaska, a nice LITTLE town (village) of a street or two with a really good brewery and a bar. It's about fifteen miles from Fairbanks. We went for the brewery (great food and beer) but ended up disappointed since we didn't have a server visit out table for over twenty minutes and we left. It turned out to be best because we discovered a great little Italian restaurant whose slogan happened to be "Say yes to garlic!" We all LOVE garlic, and their pizza (with lots of garlic) was the best we have had while living here!

On the way to Fox we pulled over on the side of the highway to visit the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Andrew I didn't even know it was there since every time we had driven to Fox it was dark outside! Take a look below at the pictures from the visit! For those who do not know this, part of the revenue from the pipeline goes towards the Alaska Permanant Fund. In other words, any resident of Alaska, gets a big fat check (the amount depends on the year, etc.) up to $3300 just for living in the state! We considered setting up our residency in Alaska but then just found that it would be a big hassle. We know that we are not going to visit Alaska every six months (a stipulation of being a resident there) once we move! I'll leave the money to the real Alaskans...because really, we are just good ol' Pennsylvania folk and I hate to think of turning residency on my home state!

On Saturday night, we headed to the store, and purchased some GIANT Alaskan King Crab legs! They were huge and delicious but certainly annoying to crack open. I had never bought them before for two reasons: 1. Their price (about 13 bucks a pound and most of them weigh atleast a pound each!) 2. Their price AND the fact that I don't know if I would prepare and cook them properly and I could possibly be flushing my hard-earned money down the toilet! So, I left the preparing and cooking to Chef Kimberlay and it was a success! With a side of sauteed scallops, we had an Alaskan seafood feast!

Early Monday morning I drove my mom to airport and choking back tears (I hate good-byes) waved her away. Andrew and I loved her company (and her decorating tips and her willingness to cook and clean). She had a long journey ahead of her to get back home, flying into Washington D.C. My dad was anxious to get her back home and we were ready to fend for our ourselves once again. This is the real world now where I can no longer say I am a dependent of Mr. and Mrs. Wallick, or that I live at home, or that I live in Pennsylvania! I am happily married to the greatest man, living in Alaska, making new friends, and loving life...but I do miss my family and friends back home! Visits are always welcome and appreciated!

Goodbye for now!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

We did it!

It has been such a great break (over seven days for me!) and I hate to see it end...but such is life. Andrew and I are particularly proud of ourselves for tackling our first woodworking project...a sawhorse table. It was a success (for the most part)! Andrew had off on Friday so it was the perfect day to shop for our lumber (what I have resorted to shopping for since there are NO clothing stores!) and pick up a few tools. Although tools are a bit pricey, we searched for the best deals, used a coupon or two, and crossed our fingers that we would get some use out of the buggers for the next twenty years! Total cost of lumber...about $79 bucks...not too bad for what we made (considering a sawhorse table at West Elm is about $500!). With three bedrooms upstairs, two are pretty bare. I wanted a table where I could put my arts and crafts projects, and just STUFF in general, so it would no longer be scattered around our kitchen table and island. I thought a sawhorse table would be perfect for that and it we could fit it in a guest room!

So, after HOURS of tool assemblage on Friday, it soon became Saturday. On Saturday morning we were up at the crack of dawn (7:30 for us in Alaska) and out in the garage measuring, cutting, and learning the do-s and don't-s of tools, wood, and the roles taht we would each play in creating our first project. I was the official "check-the-measure" girl and "double-check-the-measure" girl. I liked to refer to myself as Heidi from Tool Time with Tim Allen (remember that family favorite). I pranced around with a hammer in hand (not that we even used a hammer) and delivered tools to Andrew with a drunken-smile and giggly laugh. It was oh-so-fun for the first five minutes and then I realized we were working with some very loud, scary, and powerful machines and I needed to PAY ATTENTION and STOP GOOFIN' AROUND. So, for the next three hours, we worked together to build a beautiful and sturdy (although not quite perfectly aligned) sawhorse table. We only had to run out once to the local hardware store to get longer screws ("...NOT Nails" as Andrew reminded me about ten times that day). For some reason, I constantly referred to the screws as nails, eh, minor term in the scheme of things. Andrew handled the tools well and had the patience to teach me a few things. He was the cutest woodworker I've ever seen ;-)

We live in the middle townhouse of a row of four. It is also -10 degrees out (not fun) and therefore, we work indoors, inside of our heated garage (only in Alaska are the garages heated). We waited until 9:00 to actually start the cutting as a measure of politeness to our neighbors on both sides. It's not like our neighbors ever make any noise...

After the construction of the table was completed, Andrew and I admired the beauty, ran a few errands, admired the beauty again, ate a small dinner, admired her again, headed to our friend's Saint Patrick's party, and called it a day! I even made mini chocolate cupcakes with green frosting, and everything at the party (even the beer) was green! It was a fun evening with a great group of people. We even played the largest group game ever of Catch Phrase (H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S).

Sunday brought us a day of doing a bunch of odds and ends. I tackled the job of sanding, painting, and staining our table. I had a tough time waiting for each coat of paint or stain to dry but nonetheless I knew it would be worth it in the end. Andrew worked on a few computer things and eventually set us up on a server that links all three of our computers (which all have different operating systems). It was a time-consuming task and difficult to sync the three systems but he found a way. I found ways to disturb his geeky moments by calling him into the garage to look at the latest streak of stain I put on the tabletop, or to admire the way I brushed the polyurethane on the sawhorse leg, or to give me advice about getting stain off my hands. He then laughed at me and pointed to the bag of rubber gloves. Whoops, I had forgotten about those things and my fingers and palms of my hands were the color of dark mahogany...YES! Luckily, I did take off my rings, or else that would have been a disaster. I also attempted to wash out the stain-ridden paintbrush in our pretty white ceramic bathtub. That was mistake number two. Thirty minutes later, an empty box of baking soda, an almost-empty can of OxiClean, and almost bleeding fingertips, and our tub was smiling pretty. I've learned my lessons. Gloves and brush washing in stainless steel areas only.

It is going to be a wonderful week! My mom arrives on Wednesday, just in time for my birthday, and at a good time to make it to our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner. We cannot wait to see Kim in Alaska! Happy Monday everyone!

BEAUTIFUL and what's even better, WE MADE IT!
Made in U.S.A. :-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

VI am overdue! It is spring break right now for the school employees so that means one week of r&r! Being already Wednesday, I have dedicated myself to cleaning, cooking (a little), and of course, rejuvenating! Yesterday, my friends and I went out to lunch and shared some laughs. We then hunted down an antique store that we wanted to visit but of course, it (along with every other antique shop in town) is only open Wednesdays through Saturdays! Also, every store of convenience in Fairbanks doesn't open until 10 am, something that I have been finding out the hard way (i.e. driving 15 miles to get to various places that AREN'T open!). It has become rather frustrating and each time I pull into an empty gravel parking lot with a tiny CLOSED sign in the corner of the window, I give out a yell, pity myself for a minute, and then realize how stupid I am for not checking the store hours ONCE AGAIN! Today was my fourth and my last time of trying to visit a store before and after hours and as you can tell, I'm still healing. Since Andrew and I share a car, I like to drop him off at 9:00 and do my errands but it is difficult to be productive at that time of the morning in Fairbanks, Alaska. Oh well...I will live.

Andrew is on duty tonight, meaning he attempts to stay awake all night, head-bobbing and all, on-post in an office. It isn't very much fun for him but it is part of his job and he has duty about 2 or 3 times a month. That means I am at home, watching FOX, eating leftovers, and making chocolate covered strawberries (Yes, really!). Although chocolate covered strawberries may be associated with romance...the only romance these berries are seeing is my stomach. I was so excited to see fresh, red, strawberries at Sam's Club for under $7.00 so I bought them and convinced myself to smoother them in chocolate...delicious!

Being home alone isn't very frightening when you live in a townhouse because I constantly hear people coming and going from their homes. However, I did hear a particularly loud female yell through the wall and then I heard footsteps stomping and running around the home, then the door slammed, and then a car peeled out of the driveway (by this time I had my eyes and ears peeled out the window). That particular situation makes me a little bit nervous so I'm going to be nosy and pay close attention to who comes and goes from their door. Andrew told to not hesitate in calling the police, so need be, I will dial! (The neighbors do make me a little nervous to begin with...if you live near me, you know why.)

So, I mentioned on my last post that Andrew and I had a future endeavor for the summer months! Here is the story. I have become quite interested in reading peoples' blogs about home decorating, crafts, remodeling, etc. Well, in our Sunday (Sun-dee as my folks from PA like to say) newspaper a few weeks ago, there was a cover story about a young housewife who has taken it upon herself to create the plans for and build furniture in the most beautiful and simplistic ways. Her furniture is inspired by Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, and stores of that like...some of my favorites! In fact, the majority of her furniture plans, once completed, resemble the beautiful pieces that can be found in the store-brand catalogs! The major difference...the cost of the pieces! Of course you have to work hard to achieve the look but how satisfying to build your own furniture! Visit her blog and take a look at what she has created for herself and others! It is Knock Off Wood! She is quite talented and I can only dream of having her skills, but for now I thank her for giving the less talented, but equally eager people an opportunity!

I became so motivated after looking at her website and my motivation soon rubbed off on Andrew, when we both realized, HEY, WE CAN MAKE STUFF LIKE THIS TOO! The very cool thing too, this woman lives only about 45 miles away from us so we have the same resources out here in the last frontier! So, on Saturday, we ventured to Lowes and Home Depot (yep, we have these stores!) and surveyed the tools sections. Knowing that tools are a hefty investment (but will be well worth the cost) we are going to take our time in acquiring them. We purchased a circular saw and a small table stand for starters. I learned more about tools on Saturday than I have in my entire life but it was exciting! Since I am doing a few crafts (currently on our kitchen island) Andrew and I have decided to build ourselves a nice little sawhorse table THIS WEEKEND! I just can't wait any longer! Andrew has off on Friday, as do I, so we are going to get ourselves a miter saw (quite important apparently!), the other tools, and the building materials, and set up shop in the garage (with the car pulled out of course). It is our first official "Knock off Wood" project but we are up for the challenge...where there's a will there's a way! Cute, painted sawhorse table, here we come :-)

Now, for some pictures from the week.

Andrew making his delicious German Schnitzel :-)

Andrew was in the post paper! I tried everything to flip this photo around but it will not upload correctly! Andrew was on the range...what a model profile shot!