Sunday, June 25

Talkeetna with Grandpa

One afternoon while we were at the cabin, we loaded up and headed into Talkeetna.  We wanted to grab some groceries and show Grandpa some touristy stuff.  Talkeetna is full of fun stuff to see!

We walked around town a bit, stopping at shops and things along the way.  This old Mercedes is pretty neat!  The we stopped at this shop that was clearly a summertime shelter, but the proprietor had taken the time to cover it in these tree cookies!  They made a neat background for photos...

We walked around town, stopping at the Talkeenta Ranger Station.  It was pretty neat for Stacy because she got No Summit Out of Sight for Christmas which tells the story of Jordan Romero, the youngest person to climb the seven summits.  She loved the book!  She had me read it too and it was a pretty inspirational story for a kid!  She's pretty much recommending it to everyone she knows. At the ranger station they had some crampons on display and she immediately recalled the book and was excited, "Is this what Jordan wore?", etc.  The climber board was pretty neat too.  It shows how many people are on the mountain, how many have summited for the season, etc.  Crazy that there are more climbers on Denali than there are year-round residents in Whittier!

We also went to the Susitna Salmon Center which was basically an art gallery and gift shop that supports salmon stream restoration and study.  They had some fish tanks upstairs to educate folks as well. There was some neat art that I was really interested in, including this beautiful mosaic salmon totem pole (of sorts)!

As we walked around town we also saw lots of interesting people and vehicles!  I wanted this camp trailer.  It would look good behind my 1954 Chevy Nomad, wouldn't it?  According to the side of it, it had been restored in Colorado.

Dad also liked this bikebus.  We stalked it around town so we could get a picture of it!

We also visited and saw several historical sights around town.  The Talkeetna Historical Society has been busy!  Their centennial was last year and they did a nice job pulling things together for it.  I'd like to go back and visit their museum some time...

This is a cabin they're in the process of readying for display.

This is the inside of another cabin we came across while walking around town.

We had dinner at the famous Mountain High Pizza Pie.  My kids love that place, and who is going to argue with their huge outdoor eating area?  And good pizza on top of it!  It was a fun afternoon, even if I did forget to take a picture of the kids and grandpa eating ice cream on the bench outside of Nagley's!

Friday, June 23

Grandpa is Retired!

My dad retired on June 2 and came to visit us on June 8.  We were sure exited to see him!  We picked him up at the airport and headed up to the cabin.  Dad was looking forward to checking out our new place and we were anxious to show it off!

We spent lots of time outside over the next week...

We worked on a couple of projects as well.  Scott and Dad added skirting to the bottom of the house on three sides.  It serves to enclose, protect, and insulate under the house a bit as well as stabilize it.  Since it was built on stilts, every time someone moved in the house the whole place shook.  It's much less shaky now.

Dad and Scott also put in our removable dock for the summer.

Dad tested it out later...

I did a whole bunch of weedeating which my dad thoughtfully documented for me!

Dad helped the girls plant some seeds and broke ground on a potato plot for me.  The ground up there is easy digging...once you chip through the root layer on top.  He had to chop through tree roots up to 2" in diameter.  Hard work!

Grandpa and Kelsey made a swing!

Stacy and Grandpa made a bow!

We enjoyed work time and play time!

We also took a few side trips that I'll tell you about separately since this is approaching the longest blog post ever.  My mom retires at the end of August...come on up, Grandma.  The t-shirt is right...

Monday, June 5

Memorial Day at the Lake

School was out on May 24 (no pics this year...sorry!) and I was off work May 26, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.  We headed up to the cabin in two cars, Scott towing the quad that he'd been working on. He had to come back for work on Tuesday, but the girls and I stayed on for a few more days.

We did some work on the place this weekend, moving some beds around--swapping Kelsey's queen mattress on a broken bed frame for our double and box spring on a perfectly good frame.  Now we're sleeping on the queen on the floor while we plot building a platform bed for storage and she's got a bed that doesn't bang on the floor and wake us all up when she gets in and out of it!  I also further culled the kitchen items (microwave in an off-grid cabin?  nope!) and Scott did some work to clean up some electrical wiring he wasn't real comfortable with.

The girls did some building over the weekend, too.  They took apart the broken bed frame (it was part of an old futon frame) and used it and a few scavenged boards to build a tree house! It was fun to watch them get so involved in a project!

At one point I did haul out the ladder and help them with the horizontal supports.  It was either help or they get hurt and when you're hours from a hospital that's a real easy decision!  It's so fun to watch kids get an idea and bring it into being.  It's so easy to look at these pictures and think that this was a smooth and idyllic process.  Nope.  We had lots of opportunities to work through frustration, have discussions about communicating, and learn about the impact of tone of tone of voice on your message.  Good life lessons and I have already seen the fruits of them in some conversations I have listened to between them.  Parenting big kids is so fun!  It is challenging as well, don't get me wrong, but it is very rewarding at the same time.

I am reading this book right now which I absolutely recommend to anyone who works with or is parenting girls over 10.  Mine aren't quite there yet, but I can see glimpses of it coming and see it daily in girls I work with.  I love the respectful tone of the book.  So much of our culture is down on teens, but we were all there once and we all turned out to be fairly decent human beings.  Is it any wonder that teens are down on us when we're down on them?  Not a real great message to be receiving from adults who love you!  Anyway...if you spend time with pre-teen or teen girls, read it!

It was a damp and drizzly weekend, but Tuesday evening the sun came out and we had a couple more sunny days before we headed home.  It was fun for the girls and I to spread our wings and stay on our own for a bit.  We loved it and are already looking forward to our next trip up!

When we returned the girls were off to survival (day) camp in Girdwood.  They had a lot of fun learning about making shelters, making fire, finding safe water, finding food, etc.  It was a two day camp and well worth it!

Wednesday, May 10

First Weekend at OUR Cabin

After Stacy's birthday we headed up to our cabin.  We were all very excited, including our friend and special guest, Lindsey!  Stacy spent the two weeks leading up to the trip planning what we should all bring (it should all fit in one bag) and how we should pack it (in a backpack) and what we should eat and...yeah.  She's a planner, that one!  The excitement of the cabin overshadowed her birthday excitement even.  Kelsey was excited too, but she's a quieter planner.

We weren't sure exactly what we were walking into (yes, driveway yet...), but we loaded up our stuff, our quad, and our sense of adventure and headed off.  It's still freezing at night here and we weren't sure about the heat situation, so we packed warm PJs, slippers, sleeping bags and we went for it.

We arrived Friday night and since it is Alaska, it was still light!  We took our loads up stuff up to the house and settled in.  It was a bit chilly in the house without heat (mid 50's) but we all slept just fine.  In the AM we discovered that the stove and oven were indeed working, so we made coffee and cocoa to go with our breakfast.

Our seller arrived on Saturday mid-morning to pick up some things he wanted to take home with him and to give us a run-through of the systems.  The cabin has a 500 watt solar panel and a 12 volt battery system with a kerosene heater on the first floor and a propane heater on the second floor.  We learned how to turn on the heat (the kids were happy with this!) and began making a very long list of things to bring up.  I worked on cleaning the place and purging expired food and things we didn't need while Scott and Lindsey surveyed and marked property lines on both of our parcels.

It was such a fun weekend and one we'll always remember!  By the time we went home on Sunday we had 8 bags of trash, and a bag of things to give away.  We arrived home happy and full of plans for our next visit!

Monday, May 8

A Cabin of Our Own

We did it!  We have been looking for several years now.  We had a general location in mind and Scott had been contacting current owners in the area periodically.  Then all of a sudden, SURPRISE!  One was ready to let go!  On April 20 we signed the papers and now it is all ours!  We've spent a good chunk of time up there so far this summer...I'll tell you more about those trips soon.  For now, here are a few shots of our place!

The inside looks a bit different now...we've hauled off some of the things that were left that we didn't want or need and of course we've added some things of our own as well.  When we bought it though, this is what it looked like...

Coming in the door.  Kitchen on your right, dining straight ahead, stairs to bedrooms on your left.

Standing in the dining area, looking back at the kitchen.

Living room area.

The view from the couch.

Master bedroom...

Kids' bedroom...

Looking back on these pictures I realized lots of things have changed in a short time!  I'll tell you about them soon...