Life as a Musical…

Have you ever watched a musical and wondered what it would be like to have your life accompanied by music? It would be like being married to Fred. Fred likes to narrate our life with nonsense songs that he makes up on the spot. Sometimes he is more careful about the tune than others. Sometimes he pays more attention to rhymes, sometimes he doesn’t bother. Sometimes we alternate parts.

Some of these songs get sung fairly often, so sometimes I start them. Which works for some, but can get a little strange. Like Fred’s favorite song: “This is my wife! She is so pretty! She makes me happy, and I love her lots!” He sings that one a lot so I do too. Is that weird? Maybe, but when your life is a musical, you sing!

It’s one of my favorite things about being married, seeing the ways our habits and idiosyncrasies blend and shift over time. Some things become both of ours, some things we accommodate in the other. Some things we enable. And some things we encourage and work to keep. I pray that God always gives me the grace to work for our marriage and that He continues to give us a joy in each other that overflows in silly songs!

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Long Days…

Summer is here! The island is green, the sun sets but sits below the horizon for awhile so that it stays light forever, the days alternate between sunny and cloudy, flip flop weather and rain boot weather. This is the time of year we’ll miss most! Beautiful wildflowers, vibrant undergrowth, surprise animal sightings and bird songs everywhere, special times.

Having the daylight for most of 24 hours makes for some definite time confusion. You have to pay extra attention to the clock, because the sun will deceive you by several hours. It makes evening bonfires and hikes easier and more fun.

Summer is also transfer season, when Coast Guard friends move on. So each year we lose some friends from our circles and add new friends. This year much of our circle is dispersing, coasties and townies, over just about a calendar year.

I hate goodbyes. Passionately. But I thank God for friends special enough to make the goodbyes hard. For people we love enough to miss. They make me long for Home, an eternity of days spent in the Sonshine. But in the meantime we are enjoying the long days and time with friends while we have them!

Making the most of the time

Moving sounds like a waste of precious time, especially since we are hopefully moving back to the lower 48 early next year. But it has already proved to be worth it. We moved out of the trailer we rented when Janessa moved in with us and into an apartment in a 4-plex. It is bright, the neighbors are nice (our last neighbors were too), we have a dishwasher, and my allergies are already better. Worth it!

We are in a precious time, looking at friends leaving (again), looking at leaving ourselves. Looking at last experiences before we move. Last Crab Fest. Last Kodiak summer. Last chance to do things on the mainland before we move. Time feels short and we are trying to make the most of it.

It is bittersweet. We are excited, restless, anxious to be close to family and friends in our other homes again. Eager for game nights with siblings, walks with parents, visits with dear elders, zoos with nieces. And we are sad to be leaving great coworkers, special workplaces, a wonderful community and favorite, beautiful mountains and beaches. We’ll miss the wildlife, the abundant eagles, the intimate community, our small groups, long summer days, Alaska fashion.

This is home, as much as anywhere on earth can be, and this is precious. So we try to number our days and we keep living, holding the tensions of conflicting longings and thanking God for the blessing of this time. For over six years here in Kodiak.

(If you wanted to visit us before we leave, get your plane tickets soon!)

Crab Fest!

It’s Crab Fest! That’s the major Kodiak event, bigger than the fair. Jennifer was here for the beginning of it, which was fun! We enjoyed her visit greatly and already miss her a lot. We did some shopping, ate some great food from the booths, got soaked. Twice. See, this is spring/early summer and that means lots of rain. Which is good, it’s the reason we are called the Emerald Isle. Swollen rivers and ditches now, mud everywhere, means green is coming soon.

It looks like it will be a good summer for salmonberries, there are lots of bushes and they have lots of blossoms already. The last two years there have been hardly any berries, so this should be a great last summer. At least in that way. Assuming we do actually move next winter/spring. Which is still the plan.

Crab Fest isn’t very big or impressive by most standards. There is a small carnival, two aisles or booths with food, information and items for sale. But most of the community goes through at some point, often several times. It’s kind of like a family reunion, only for the whole city. And while Kodiak isn’t perfect, it is very much like a family. We will miss it.

Also, here’s a picture of Jen and Crystal. Jen was here when we got Crystal and Pepper. She walked up to a cat perch, Crystal climbed off of it onto her shoulder, and we adopted her. This visit she claimed Jennifer again in the first five minutes of Jen being here. This is not normal for here, usually this cat hides in the bedroom when we have company of any kind for the first while. She likes quiet and consistency. But old or not, she remembered Jen!

Back to Anchorage

Monday we drove back to Anchorage, ate lunch at Moose’s Tooth (yummy!) and then flew back to Kodiak. Thank God, our flight made it on time with minimal turbulence! We enjoyed our time driving, and had a few surprise extra animal sightings! In addition to more snowshoe hares, our in abundance this trip, we had a moose encounter:

One on each side of the road! A little further we saw four caribou!

And interspersed through the day were more great mountain views!

Sleeping Lady, across the bay from Anchorage:

Denali Adventures – Sunday

Sunday we started bright and early, ate at the lodge and then drove to the bus depot at Denali National Park (just inside the entrance). We had reservations for the 7am shuttle bus. Which I had of course gotten wrong in my head, so we got there for the 7:30 bus instead. Fortunately there were plenty of seats on that one, so we didn’t have to wait for a later bus to have room. And we had a great driver, so it worked out well! We were expecting frigid temperatures and cloudy skies from the weather reports I had seen in advance. Instead we got partly sunny and bearable cold, a very pleasant surprise!

Denali is well worth the visit, so very worth it. I’m going to give you a photo dump, some photos will have captions. Brace yourself!

This was our first view of Denali itself (Mt McKinley until recently). It is the bright white mountain in the middle, looking smaller than the other from this view. Because we were very far away. The road into the park (the only road) runs through a valley. To the south is the Alaska mountain range, to the north is the Outer Range.

Over the course of the day we saw a lot of animal, mostly too far away for a good picture. Some, though were very close! Here is a ground squirrel and a ptarmigan:

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Here’s a better view of Denali:

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And us with Denali behind us:

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And one of several caribou we saw that day (all too far away for a good phone photo):

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Mountains

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Us, our bus

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Dall sheep (again far away, look for the horns on top of the hill)

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Denali again and an panorama of one view of the range

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The closest we got to grizzly bears!  We saw several from a distance, but these were on the side of the road about 10 feet from the bus.  A mother and her yearling cub, they are digging for roots.

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The cub is standing up to get a better of the bus passing us, and them.IMG_5963

After the bus tour we hiked trail to Horseshoe Lake, a pretty easy hike near the entrance of the park.  There are several beaver dams:

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A different view of the Nenana River and the resorts on its’ banks:

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Better view of the lake (we saw a beaver earlier but didn’t get a good picture):

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Such a great day!  The next day we got some good wildlife views on the drive back to Anchorage, so that’ll be its own post also.

 

Denali Adventures – Saturday

Jennifer is here! She is my next younger sister and we get her for a week! We decided to adventure in the rest of Alaska with her a little, because she has been to Kodiak several times and all of us wanted to go to Denali National Park, so Fred and I flew up to Anchorage Friday evening, miraculously with only a slight flight delay and little turbulence. We met her flight Saturday morning and picked up the rental car.

After a quick visit to Title Wave Books (a large used book store), Kaladi Brothers Coffee and Safeway (for snack food), we hit the road north. It was a beautiful day!

We enjoyed talking to each other, then listening to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from Audible. And we took in the mountain views. If you haven’t been to Anchorage, it is surrounded by mountains. And the highway north has mountains on both sides. It is gorgeous. Truly.

We were having a blast and weren’t even there yet!

We stayed at the Denali Princess Lodge. The first evening we walked to the Nenana River and explored the shops in the Lodge complex and on the boardwalk across the street.

Sunday we were headed into the park itself!