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April 2nd - Happy Homecomings!! Joined at the Hip. :)
have been living on Cloud Nine ever since Steve stepped off the
plane just after midnight early Wednesday morning. When I got to
the airport, the terminal was full of passengers waiting to board
the red eye flight out of Fairbanks. I took a seat and tried to
contain my excitement; watching the minute hand on the clock move
slower than molasses. A few more military spouses showed up. It
was easy to pick them out of the crowd with their huge grins, perfectly
styled hair and makeup, and outfits chosen especially for the day
they would finally see their husbands after seven long months. I
took extra time with my own hair and clothes, but I doubt Steve
would have even cared what I looked like when he got off that plane.
We saw lights touch down on the runway, and two of the other wives
yelled out "They've landed! They've landed!". I felt my
stomach lurch and my heart pound in my chest, as my eyes filled
with tears. Finally, the door to the ramp was thrown open and I
stood up, looking down the long hall, waiting for the passengers
to start coming out. I knew that Steve was in the 7th row, which
meant that he'd be one of the first soldiers off the plane. When
the passengers from First Class started coming up the ramp, I craned
my neck looking for him. I knew he'd be doing the same thing.
then, there he was! The next few moments passed as if in a dream.
I saw his face and a smile stretched from ear to ear. The smile
was immediately replaced with tears of joy as he dropped his rucksack
and took me in his arms. His eyes were also wet with happy tears
and the rest of our surroundings disappeared as we held each other
A cheer went up, and then applause. And people started yelling
out "Welcome home!" It was so surreal. I couldn't believe
he was finally walking next to me, his arm draped over my shoulders,
pulling me close as we made our way to baggage claim. Several people
extended their hands in a handshake - thanking Steve for his service
to our country. Others also welcomed him home. I must say that Fairbanks
sure knows how to show support for the troops. How proud I was (and
always am) to be married to an American soldier.
first two days Steve was home, we slept a lot. My constant battle
with insomnia, coupled with his severe jet lag, were the perfect
reason to just curl up together and sleep until we were fully rested.
We slept more than 14 hours the second day he was in town. It was
wonderful. (I just had to put my Hubby Doll next to Steve while
he was sleeping. He's going to kill me if he knows I posted this
On Friday, we decided to take a drive up the Steese Highway about
70 miles. We were both itching to get out and enjoy the beautiful
landscape of Alaska. After months of not being able to take long,
leisurely drives, Steve couldn't wait to hit the open road. We popped
a few CDs in the player and took off into the sunshine. The roads
were in great condition, and we stopped a few times to just take
in our surroundings and breathe the fresh air (high 30s).
Steese Highway Steep Grade
Steese Highway Lodge Shed
Pregnant Moose Cow
Pregnant Moose Cow
On Saturday, after a leisurely breakfast, we decided to take a
drive up to the top of Murphy Dome. We were both looking forward
to being 'on top of the world' with a view in every direction. The
weather was perfect - in the mid 40s when we started the drive,
but dropping down to the mid 30s when we reached the summit. We
decided to take a short walk along the snowmachine trail. We weren't
the only ones out enjoying the warm weather (by Alaska standards).
Snowmachiners were out in full force, and we met another couple
strolling on the trail. I saw my first willow catkin of the season,
which was a welcome surprise. Green Up should arrive in
about a month.
On the way to Murphy Dome
Atop Murphy Dome
View from Murphy Dome
View from Murphy Dome
Murphy Dome Radar Facility
Tors Rocks Murphy Dome
Fox on Murphy Dome
Steve and Me
Murphy Dome Panorama (800 pixels
We went to breakfast this morning at The Cookie Jar. Afterward,
we came home and relaxed - watching movies and savoring some beef
and caribou stew that I had simmering in the crock pot all day.
The sun was shining, so we decided to take Sedona out for a long
walk along the ATV trails behind our house and through the woods.
I hoped to see a moose, but the only sign of wildlife was a curious
squirrel, who allowed me to snap a few photos before scampering
higher into the trees. Steve enjoyed throwing snowballs at Sedona,
who tried to catch them in her mouth. I think she likes having daddy
Sedona playing catch with snowballs
Now, I am sitting next to Steve on the sofa, as he watches a movie
and I update this journal. Our legs are touching, and it's taken
me quite a long time to get this much done, with all the cuddle
and kiss breaks. They're my favorite interruption, so I'm not complaining
at all. It's so nice to have the love of my life sitting right next
to me, where I can reach out and touch him. We quite enjoy being
joined at the hip and intend to savor every moment of this time
and I don't have anything planned for the rest of our time together,
except for perhaps a long drive down to Black Rapids. I've always
enjoyed driving the Richardson Highway - especially when the range
is visible on the horizon. Besides that, we're just playing it by
ear, and spending every moment together. In a little over 4 months
this will all be over, and Steve will be home from Iraq for good.
It can't come fast enough.
Before I end this entry, I wanted to send a public Thank You to
our friends Carmen and Gip. They surprised us with a beautiful bouquet
of tulips to celebrate Steve's homecoming and our upcoming anniversary
on the 5th. Fourteen years.... and hopefully fifty more.
April 7th - 'Chilling out with the Love of my Life' and Another Road
Today is a 'chill out' day. Steve
is laying next to me on the sofa, while I sit cross-legged on the
floor downloading photos and updating this journal. He's watching
his "Band of Brothers" DVD collection (why he wants to
watch war movies is beyond me - must be a guy thing. *grin*) It's
OK though... I like having the opportunity to play catch up with
my photographs, while still being able to reach out and hold his
hand, or kiss his fingers, or flirt with him. I love that just being
in the same room with him fills me with such love and joy.
we celebrated our 14th Wedding Anniversary. I made Steve a 'cyber'
card and emailed it to him. It was fun to go looking through old
photos and find one of us on our wedding day. I still remember how
I felt that day. I never imagined I could love a man so much. And
now, fourteen years later, I realize that what I felt then was only
a fraction of the love I feel for him today. It just keeps getting
We enjoyed a light breakfast at home (cinnamon rolls from The Cookie
Jar - YUM - and coffee) and Steve presented me with more gifts.
He's been giving me gifts since he arrived last week - and I feel
really special! Let's see if I remember everything... he gave me
a a diamond solitaire ring for my right hand, a 4'x6' hand knotted
wool & silk Turkish rug (we'll display it on a wall), a jar
with lid - hand carved from Meerschaum, a Celtic wall cross (click
here to see it) that he got on his stopover in Ireland (he also
picked up a Guinness magnet and Guinness bottle opener), four decorative
Native trivets (click
here to see one of them) that he picked up during his stopover
in Seattle, and a new fleece jacket with the logo of his army unit
(he always remembers the practical too). I had already given him
his new Craftsman stackable tool boxes which elicited a "Tim
the Toolman" grunt of appreciation from him.
We decided to celebrate our special day with an afternoon movie
and an early dinner. We saw the new movie, Inside Man with
Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster - which we both enjoyed - and
then dined at our favorite Italian restaurant here in Fairbanks
- Gambardellas. It was delicious! We were home early enough to snuggle
up and watch a DVD and then later snacked on strawberries and polished
off a bottle of champagne. It was the perfect way to celebrate fourteen
years of marriage. I'm so happy that we were able to be together.
we decided to take another long drive. Instead of heading down towards
Black Rapids on the Richardson Highway, we decided to drive the
Elliott Highway towards Minto. We haven't driven that far since
our first year here - when we took a trip to the Arctic Circle on
the Dalton Highway (a.k.a. "The Haul Road"). The road
passes over many rolling hills which get bigger and bigger as you
approach the foothills of the White Mountains. At the split where
the Elliott Highway merges with the Dalton Highway, we continued
on the Elliott - our first time going in this direction. The road
isn't paved, so it was a little slower going, but fortunately there
was enough snowpack still on portions of the road to keep the bumps
to a minimum. On the map at left, you can see our route on Highway
2. If you look at one of the photos I've posted above - taken from
the top of Murphy Dome (click
here to see it) - you'll see Sawtooth Mountain far off on the
horizon. Yesterday, we drove even closer to this beautiful snow-covered
mountain. The trip was amazing, and when we reached the "top
of the world", we were awestruck. I would love to do it again
when the arctic tundra is blooming with wildflowers.
Study nature, love nature,
stay close to nature.
It will never fail you.
~ Frank Lloyd Wright~
April 13th - Driving to Denali, A Special Birthday, Roadtrip to Chena
I'm sure you can
see the underlying theme of Steve's R&R visit: Road Trips. I
can't say enough how much we both enjoy taking long drives in the
gorgeous Alaska countryside.
read that the road into Denali National Park was open to mile 15
- Savage River (indicated by the light red square on the map at
left). This is the news we look forward to every spring. Driving
into Denali before the park opens for the tourism season - before
the tour buses start running - is always an amazing experience.
This year, the tourism season opens on May 20th. By the end of this
week (hopefully) the road will be open to mile 29.5 (the yellow
star on the map at left). I definitely plan to go back and drive
in that far too.
Steve and I decided to make the drive on Sunday (4/9). We got up
early, and a look out the window showed a dreary and overcast morning.
Regardless, we decided to follow through with our plans. Here in
Alaska, the weather can change within only a few miles; we were
willing to take our chances.
were a mere 10 miles outside of Fairbanks on the Parks Highway,
when the slight snow flurries became large and heavy. The road quickly
became snow covered, and slippery areas appeared almost immediately.
The closer we got to Nenana (about 60 miles southwest of Fairbanks),
the more discouraged we got. It didn't appear as if we'd be seeing
any blue skies and beautiful scenery, and certainly not the mountain
we got through Nenana, we saw a bit of blue on the horizon. Was
it possible? Could it be clear in the Denali area? We kept our hopes
up as we drove on. And then the range came into view. It was still
a good 20-30 miles in the distance, but we could see it. After driving
more than 80 miles in snow and clouds, to say we were excited is
always, we both scanned the horizon and the landscape on each side
of the road. No matter how many times I see a moose (or a moose
family), I am thrilled. They are just awesome creatures, even though
some may say they have goofy faces. I think they're cute myself
- especially the babies and yearlings. Out of the corner of my eye,
I saw three long-legged figures nibbling on some birch trees. Steve
was driving fast, but put on the brakes and made a U-turn so I could
go back and get some photos.
As is usual, my view was mostly of moose bottoms, rather than pretty
faces. I asked Steve to whistle - hoping the sound would at least
get them to turn toward us. The shrill sound definitely got their
attention, and all three turned in unison to see where it was coming
from. While I still had a nice view of mom's rear, I at least got
to see her lovely face as well. In about a month or so, if I'm lucky,
I'll catch a glimpse of newborn calves.
Snow flurries started again as we got closer to the park entrance.
We hoped this didn't cause the rangers to close the gate, and were
happy to see that the gates stood wide open. It was still cloudy
and visibility wasn't good at all, but we thought we'd make the
most of the drive anyway. And then, about halfway to Savage River,
the clouds thinned and blue skies peeked through. With every mile,
the skies got clearer and bluer. It was simply awesome!
At Savage River, we got out of the truck and stood for a good fifteen
minutes, just enjoying the peacefulness of our surroundings. We
heard ptarmigans calling to each other, but even with the binoculars,
Steve couldn't spot any. They're very adept at blending into the
landscape with their pure white feathers. But I was pleasantly surprised
to see one as we made our way back out of the park. He ran under
bushes and flew across snowdrifts, making the task of photographing
him much more difficult, but I managed to pull it off.
The drive home was under much clearer skies. As we drove through
Nenana, I could see the tripod on the Tanana River. The tripod is
erected for the Nenana Ice Classic. From the web: The `Nenana
Ice Classic' is a betting lottery which began at Nenana, Alaska,
back in 1917 and has been run annually ever since. In January each
year the townspeople mount a tripod out on the frozen Tanana River
which runs through the town. The tripod is secured firmly to the
ice and a rope run from the tripod to a clock mechanism at the shore.
When the ice breaks up in late April or early May, the tripod gives
way, gets carried only a short distance, finally tripping the clock.
The time is then recorded. The lottery organizers take bets from
people all over the world, the winner being the person who can make
the closest prediction of the actual date and time of breakup. (Last
year 46 winners split $285,000)
On Monday, Steve had an appointment to talk to a career counselor.
Although the point of R&R is to relax and have some downtime,
with retirement imminent, Steve and I decided to set aside a few
days so that he could talk to personnel in the ACAP (Army Career
and Alumni Program) office. He received a lot of informational handouts
as well as important info about post-retirement employment. We're
both very nervous about life after retirement, but there's no point
in stressing out about it now. First we need to put this deployment
behind us. Then we can focus on life after the army.
(4/12) was my father's birthday. It's always a very melancholy day
for me. If he were still alive, he'd be 72 years old. I imagine
what life would be like with him still in it, and I get sad. I know
he would have loved to visit Alaska - and I would have loved to
have shown him around. I can't believe it's been almost 10 years
since he left this world. While I don't dwell on his passing quite
so much any longer, and most of my memories are indeed happy ones,
there are still those moments when my eyes fill with tears because
I miss him so much. I still 'talk' to him. I want to believe he
is looking down on me and my family and playing the role of guardian
angel. I feel his presence around me often and I savor those moments
when memories of him pop into my mind.
took another drive yesterday. Our destination was Chena Hot Springs
Resort. We've been out to the 'resort' many times, and we make the
drive purely for relaxation and scenic purposes. Chena Hot Springs
Rd. is usually a good drive to see moose. Yesterday wasn't a good
day for wildlife sightings. Well, except for Snow Buntings - and
there were lots of them!
Just as a test, I'm going to attempt to show a video I made here.
I took my old Canon G2 with me because it has video capabilities.
While we were driving to Chena Hot Springs, I shot short spurts
of video with it. Then I merged them together into a longer movie.
I have no idea how long it will take for this video to download.
If you're on dialup, I'm going to assume it's going to be a lengthy
wait. I apologize for that. I also apologize for the pure goofiness
of this movie. I guess you could say that we've been totally 'drunk'
on happiness at seeing each other again. (The quality isn't all
that great either - sorry!)
More photos from Chena Hot Springs Resort:
I'm going to end this long entry on a couple of sad notes... We
lost three Fort Wainwright soldiers in the last week. In addition,
the local community lost a soldier who was from North Pole, AK and
was in Iraq deployed from Hawaii. This makes 11 soldiers from our
Stryker Brigade since they deployed last August. While I understand
that many - too many - lives have been lost during this war, when
it hits home like this it really rocks the community and brings
forth all the fears we have as military families for our loved ones'
well being. Please keep all of our troops in your thoughts and prayers.
Secondly... my visit with Steve comes to an end tomorrow. The past
two weeks have just flown by. We had the best time together, and
there were no adjustments whatsoever (except he took his side of
the bed back!). It's as if Steve's always been here with me despite
the seven month separation we just went through. Only about four
months to go now and we'll be done with this deployment. We can't
wait until it's over.
One more thing before I end this entry: Mom had her first round
of chemotherapy yesterday. I haven't had the opportunity to talk
to her or my sister-in-law yet, so I don't have any news on how
she fared. I will update when I know more. Thank you for your continued
thoughts, prayers, and healing vibes.
April 19th - Farewells, Easter Celebrations and Visions of Spring
I'm sorry it's been nearly a week
since I updated this journal. I've sat down to do it twice over
the last six days, and then found my attention being diverted, or
my spare time being swept away. I've also been on a bit of a 'low'
lately, as I try to adjust to not having Steve home any longer.
The first few days were the hardest, but I'm doing much, much better
Steve is back at his FOB (Forward Operating Base) in Iraq. He called
me twice as he was traveling and got online last night to let me
know he had arrived. The poor guy is exhausted due to jet lag and
not being able to sleep on the planes. He misses me too; I know
that feeling all too well. The house is so quiet without him. *sigh*
Our farewell was heartbreaking, but my anguish was caused more
by his sadness at having to return, than my own sadness at having
to say goodbye. He knew what he was going back to. He knew
there'd be no more sleeping late in the morning, or napping in the
afternoon. No more lazing out in front of the television watching
movies. No more scenic drives into glorious countryside. I, at least,
get to stay here - where I am safe and surrounded by beautiful things
and friendly, loving people. It is times like these that I am especially
thankful for the freedoms we have as Americans.
chose not to go with him to the gate. Instead we said our goodbyes
in front of the airport. We wanted those final moments to be private.
I also didn't want his last vision to be of me standing at the gate
with tears streaming down my face. It was hard enough saying goodbye
in the truck. And it was very depressing to come home to an empty
house. There were memories of him all over. A few clothes in the
laundry hamper. A glass in the sink. His hiking boots in the guestroom,
where he left them when he put his uniform on for the trip back.
We have less than four months now. I hope the time flies for both
Just before heading to bed on the night he left, I glanced out
the window and saw the lights dancing in the sky. They were in the
sky the day he arrived too. A beautiful send off, but a bittersweet
Fairbanks is slowly but surely casting off her snowy winter
coat and coming back to life. It's officially break-up and the sound
of drip, drip, drip sets the background music each day. There's
still a lot of snow out there - but it's mostly on the grassy areas.
The well-traveled roads have been free of snow for weeks. Where
there is snow, it's melting rapidly - leaving behind a
slushy mess. While I used to be able to walk on top of the snow
when out walking with Sedona, I now find my foot sinking sometimes
as much as a foot into the wet mess. I'm glad my hiking boots are
waterproof! To add to the difficulty in walking, there are still
fairly slippery spots - especially early in the morning before the
sun comes up and warms the air. The earlier we go out walking, the
more apt I am to do the 'penguin shuffle' to keep from slipping
and taking a fall.
The best part of all of this thawing is that the sun has been making
regular appearances, and temperatures have warmed up into the 40s.
While that probably sounds a bit chilly to some of you, for us it's
definitely spring-like weather. With the warm weather, comes exercise!
It's time to get rid of those winter pounds a lot of us have picked
up. My friend Rachael and I started walking officially on Saturday
- the day after Steve left. We walked 5 miles with the pups. I paid
for it later that evening with sore, cramping muscles. I know I
shouldn't have jumped into such a long walk so quickly, but I'm
determined to get fit so I can do some hiking this summer. On Sunday
- after Easter dinner - we walked more than 3 miles with the dogs.
Rachael's out of town for a few weeks, but I've been sticking with
a walking program, even though I'm only walking 2.5 miles alone.
If I don't stick with it while she's gone, I'll be hurting all over
again when she gets back.
The original plan for Easter was to book a reservation at one of
the local restaurants hosting an Easter buffet. No one was interested
in cooking, and Steve had just left two days prior, so I wasn't
prepared to host dinner at my house either. Well, the early bird
gets the worm, as they say, and we were not early birds. There wasn't
a place in Fairbanks that wasn't already booked up. So I ran to
the grocery store and managed to find a ham. Then I combed my cupboards
for side dishes. It sure wasn't an all-out sumptuous feast of meticulously
prepared side dishes. All I can say is thank goodness for the Jolly
Green Giant and instant mashed potatoes!
had Rachael over, as well as Susan and her father-in-law, Butch.
Rachael brought the veggies and Susan brought salad, bread, and
an ice cream cake for dessert. Here in AK, there isn't much that's
'formal', and I certainly wasn't going to demand my dinner guests
wear their Sunday best. But I did want dinner to be at least a little
special, so I pulled out the table cloth and napkins and decided
to at least set a pretty table. I even folded bunnies out of the
napkins, which were a big hit! And of course, we had to include
our 'husbands' at dinner too. I wish they could have been here in
also brought me a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers in various
shades of pink and purple, yellow and white. They are absolutely
gorgeous and really added a nice touch to the kitchen. It seems
that my favorite feline Airborne thought they'd make a nice snack.
I had a feeling she'd be on the table checking them out, so I grabbed
my camera and walked softly into the kitchen. Nabbed in the act!
The geese have returned to Creamers Field. They're not there
in great numbers yet, but more and more arrive each day. I took
a drive over there today to get some photos. The fields are muddy
and there are still piles of dirty snow everywhere. But the geese
don't seem to mind at all.
It is such a joy to see the world coming back to life. Catkins
have opened up at the tops of the trees, buds have appeared on the
branches, and I even saw a hawk circling above me as I walked Sedona
the other day. I remember last year around this time, when the dandelions
bloomed. How thrilled I was to see yellow! I look forward to the
arrival of color.
In closing, here are several more photos:
April 25th - Another Special Birthday, Drip Drip Drip, and a Trip
to the Greenhouse
Sunday (23rd), my eldest 'baby' turned 27 years old. How quickly
time passes! I don't believe any mother forgets the day her firstborn
is handed to her. While the birth of every child is a wonderful
blessing and exciting moment, those first moments when you make
the transition from carefree young woman, to mother are filled with
such a myriad of emotions. Joy, love, and amazement... as well as
fear and worry over all the responsibility that comes with caring
for such a tiny and helpless being.
I made the graphic at left in celebration of Chris's birthday.
I spent hours looking through old photo albums, even after I chose
the ones I wanted to use here. I am so proud of both my sons, but
looking at photos of them when they were little is always a bit
melancholic. Happy Birthday, Christopher!
landscape in Fairbanks is getting a lot worse before it gets better.
This is to be expected, but it doesn't mean we have to like it.
The snow is melting quickly, and the ground is still too frozen
to absorb all the water. So it stands on top of the ground in puddles
and makes its way to runoff ditches in small streams. I need a drawbridge
to get over the moat in my backyard. Wet ground means mud. And soupy
mud is even worse. There's a reason that it is an Alaska custom
to remove your shoes when you come into a house. Unless of course
you want to be shampooing your carpet several times a week.
few days ago, I strapped on my camera backpack and went in search
of photographs. I was desperate to shoot, and walked with Sedona
through the woods for a while. Nothing caught my eye. I came home
feeling more depressed than when I left the house. I stood in the
yard and watched the water dripping off the roof and into the puddles
below. And then I had one of those "A-HA!" moments and
decided to shoot the water. It's not easy to stop action at just
the right moment, and I shot about 40-50 frames to get a handful
of clear and sharp photos.
One of the highlights over the last week was a trip to two of the
local greenhouses. My friend Dianne and I first visited Holm Town
Nursery. It was my first time there, and as soon as I walked in
the door, I felt like I was back in FL again. The humidity levels
were high - as they needed to be - and it was warm. So warm, that
the employees were wearing shorts and t-shirts on the job. There's
a cafe inside the nursery called Petunia's Cafe, named after the
resident feline. While we didn't eat at the cafe, we will certainly
go back in the future and sit for a while.
there we drove to Plant Kingdom. This nursery didn't have the array
of garden accessories that Holm Town Nursery had, but it had three
separate greenhouses full of beautiful plants and flowers. The herb
and vegetable greenhouse was a real treat with the many aromas of
mint and basil and oregano. The best part of all was the fact that
this nursery doesn't use man-made pesticides. Instead, they use
nature's own pesticide - in the form of hundreds and hundreds of
ladybugs. It's not uncommon to take a plant home and have one or
two hitchhikers on it. I just had to take some photographs of all
the colors to warm my spirits while waiting for Fairbanks to officially
the sweetest things God ever made and forgot
to put a soul into.
~ Henry Ward Beecher~
April 30th - More Birds, Puddles, Still Waiting for Spring, and Another
I've been busy the last 5 days
or so. So busy, that I barely have time to download photos - let
alone update this journal. I'm going to blame it on the gorgeous
weather we've been having. The mornings start out on the chilly
side, but once the sun is up for a few hours, it's just beautiful.
Beautiful at this time of year, means reaching temperatures in the
40s. And we've been doing that. I've seen some Fairbanksans rushing
the season - wearing flip flops and capri pants, short sleeved shirts
and t-shirts, and even shorts! Not me... I still feel that morning
chill, and I'm quite content to wear at least a light fleece when
I'm out walking.
Field is now abundant with birds. Besides the Canada Geese, there
have been several pairs of swans. Also, a pair of cranes finally
touched down a few days ago. There are probably more now. For all
intents and purposes, "Cranes = Spring". But not for me.
I want to see those tiny buds on the trees unfurl, before I believe
it's spring! I want to see dandelions take over the lawn. And big
fat bumblebees! And I want to hear more songbirds in the morning
when I wake up. Here are some more photos of the waterfowl at Creamers
Snow continues to melt, and puddles continue to grow. Fortunately,
the ground is beginning to thaw a little deeper each day, so the
water is being absorbed a little bit faster. This doesn't mean that
the mud has gone away - nor the huge lake sized puddles - but we're
making progress. I don't have to mention that the shoes get kicked
off at the door now so I don't end up with footprints of mud through
love the reflections in these puddles. I noticing reflections everywhere.
Whether it's the blue sky and billowy clouds, or the mirror image
of architecture, it's nice to see these duplicate images 'on the
ground' rather than white stuff.
The other day, I drove all over town and here on Post, in search
of interesting puddles to photograph. I didn't have to look very
hard. I was surprised to come across a moose cow who was happily
grazing on some birch twigs. She actually stood still for a minute
or two - amongst the trees - and allowed me to snap a few photos.
path in the open field near my house (where I walk Sedona) is now
obstructed by a small pond. There are still a few smaller piles
of snow which need to melt, and these puddles (and mud) are everywhere.
Needless to say, a walk isn't quite an 'even-paced' exercise routine
at this time of year. I spend a lot of time dodging puddles, and
gingerly making my way through the mud. Birch Hill still has several
piles of snow on it. It certainly doesn't look anything like it
did during the winter months. In a few weeks, we'll be able to climb
it again - one heck of a glute and thigh workout. After a long winter,
I think all of us feel a lot better getting some exercise. I know
I made my way to Pioneer
Park (aka Alaskaland). On the way, I passed St Matthew's Episcopal
Church. St. Matthew's was built in 1905. The church was built along
with a new hospital--the first in Fairbanks--which began to admit
patients in 1904. The church burned in 1947, and was replaced with
the current simple, log building patterned after the original, but
slightly larger. You can read more about St. Matthews HERE.
The right hand column on that page, has some interesting facts about
been to Pioneer Park hundreds of times over the last three years.
If you've been reading this journal, you've seen many photos from
different times of the year. Yesterday, I went in search of puddles.
They weren't hard to find, but I came upon other things to photograph
as well. This plane stands outside the Pioneer
Park Air Museum. While I have been to Pioneer Park hundreds
of times, I have never gone into the museum. I think a visit is
new museum which is opening at Pioneer Park is the Tanana
Valley Railroad Museum. This also looks very interesting and
definitely warrants a visit. Tanana Valley Railroad Engine #1 is
the feature display in Pioneer Parks' newest facility. Assembled
in 1899, Engine #1 is the oldest operating Steam Locomotive in Alaska
and the Yukon Territory, and the oldest Gold Rush Era artifact in
Although it's still the 'off season', the park was full of laughing
and playing children and their parents, taking advantage of sunshine
and playground equipment. Here are some more photos I took while
wandering through Pioneer Park.
Me looking through the glass
in a door reflected in a mirror inside the cabin
Soon these shops will be open
The lattice has last year's dead
growth but will soon be replanted.
Denali Observation Car
Tomorrow is May 1st. While normally I'm not one who is happy to
see time rushing by, I am thrilled to be through another month and
closer to having Steve home for good. It has been a very difficult
month for the Fort Wainwright community. We lost four soldiers this
month. Our most recent loss was PFC Raymond L. Henry, 21, from Anaheim
CA. PFC Henry was a member of Charlie Co. 1-17 (nicknamed The Diablos).
Steve was the 1SG of Charlie Co. for about a year and a half, after
we arrived in Alaska. He had/has a bond with these soldiers, who
he still calls "his boys". The loss of PFC Henry was the
first for the 1-17, and being a soldier from Charlie Co, it touched
Steve very deeply.
In addition to PFC Henry, our community is saddened over the loss
of SPC. Kenneth D. Hess, 26, of Asheville NC, SPC Shawn R. Creighton,
21, of Windsor NC, and SPC Dustin J. Harris, 21, of Bangor ME. My
condolences go out to their family and friends, and I continue to
pray for all of our troops, that they may come home safely.