Monday, December 14, 2009

It has been getting colder recently...well below zero with significant wind chill. I had to bundle up in my fur parka and heavy cold weather gear to make the 6.2 mile drive out to the Pioneer Oooguruk Drill Site (ODS) for my spill response training yesterday.

Sometimes I pull a sled so I can bring a load of firewood home, but this time I drove my Skidoo without a sled. It is usually about a twenty minute drive. The stars were out, despite heavy frost falling like snow in my headlight. Once I get all my gear on, you certainly couldn't see who I was, unless you knew ahead of time. Even my face is completely covered with a mask and goggles and surrounded with a wolf ruff. I'll share a picture next time I write if I can remember to have one taken.

I got some Christmas lights up in our kitchen window. Then I added a little tree. This will probably be the extent of my Christmas decorating.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Adak Visit in Nov. 2009

I was on my way for a week’s visit to Adak to see Isaac, Crystal, and Rhianna at their home in Adak, on an island midway down the Aleutian chain.

I left home by snowmachine Monday morning, and drove the five miles across the river and tundra to the drilling pad where we park our truck.  I parked and covered the snowmobile, transferred my luggage to the truck, and then drove on east in the truck along the gravel road system to Prudhoe Bay. It takes about 2 hours driving time for me to reach Deadhorse, the service area for the greater Prudhoe area.  I had some errands to do, such as a stop at the post office, fueling up the truck, plus extra time before the afternoon Alaska Airlines flight to Anchorage. I generally leave the truck with friends near the airport.  In winter, I have no way of knowing how cold it may be when I return and I don’t want to leave the truck sitting in the Alaska Airlines parking lot with no way to plug it in and warm it up should the temperatures drop below zero.

I was headed to Fairbanks for a few days before continuing on down to Adak, and had to fly all the way to Anchorage first, then take a different flight back up to Fairbanks.  It is always a long day of travel.  My brother Mark picked me up and I stayed three days in Fairbanks with him and Denise.

I never have enough time in Fairbanks to do all I’d like to do.  First, was a short drive over to Jay’s home for a visit with Amy and my three oldest grandchildren, Natasha, Melody and Elisha.  It doesn’t take much arm-twisting to get Grandma to read books or play board games with the kids. They don’t get visits very often from the grandma who usually comes and goes from the airport, so it is special time for all of us.  This trip, I got to meet Charlotte, the new pet Ginny pig.  We had dinner one night and more special times over the next couple of days.

Jay took time off work to help me with a job needing done at his grandparent’s house.  My niece Krysta took time from her busy family of three boys to give me a home hair perm one afternoon, I went for my routine medical checkup, enjoyed visiting my youngest brother and wife, Eldon and Debbie, and squeezed in a few other activities.

Before I knew it, Thursday arrived and I was headed back down to Anchorage to connect with the flight to Adak.  Unfortunately plans got high-jacked when the Fairbanks to Anchorage flight got delayed over an hour and I missed the Adak flight by only a few minutes.  Adak flights run only twice a week, so the next flight wasn’t until Sunday.  I called my youngest son Aaron in Wasilla, Autumn and Aaron_FAIand he drove down to the airport to get me.  I suddenly had extra time to spend with Aaron and Autumn, which turned out to be a pleasant change of plans.  Plus I got to attend a nice dinner with live music one night, a dinner with friends I hadn’t seen in ages, visit my sister-in-law, and other things in the Palmer/Wasilla area. 

Sunday I was back at the airport and this time I made it to Adak by late afternoon.  It is over a three hour flight to reach Alaska’s furthest west and furthest south town.  I took a few pictures as we flew by the islands southeast of Adak Island.  Adak_11-16-08 001 

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Isaac was at the airport to greet me…but of course he would be…that’s his job. The Customer Service Manager greets and sends off every plane.  Crystal and Rhianna were there too, so I soon had a baby girl in my arms. I spentAdak_11-16-08 007 as much time as I could during my stay with Rhia.  We played, read books, and went for walks on the beach…Rhianna riding on my back, peeking around my shoulder and looking at all the plants, birds, waves, and other things of interest I would show her.  She usually fell asleep before we would get back from a walk.  Below are some of the winter beach plants, sand patterns, and outcrops:

Isaac took Rhia and I on a drive one day and visited several locations I had yet to see on previous trips to Adak. It was a blustery day, so we stayed inside the warm vehicle for the most part.  Winter or summer, Adak has beautiful landscapes and so much to see and enjoy.  Eagles are everywhere.  I could practically reach out the window and pet this one.

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Rhianna loves going for rides with Daddy as you can see.

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Here are more pictures of Rhianna’s  first birthday party:


My Adak time went by way too quickly and I was on the jet back to Anchorage 5 days after arriving.  This time I flew straight back to Deadhorse after spending part of the night at the airport.  I then had to reverse the order of my departure from homeJim walks Ruby& Toby_11-2-09 by driving the truck west across the oil field, transfering to my snowmachine and sled and then driving back across the tundra and river to home.  Another tiring day, but it is always so nice to have my crew waiting to greet me: Jim and two very excited dogs to have me back home.