September - October 2011

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5

September was pack and travel month for us. I started packing and was doing fairly well until the combination of an Emmaus Weekend event that I was leading and Cat’s surgery cut out a week of packing time. God and the MARC family came to the rescue. Saturday, 3 September, several MARC men and their sons showed up to move all the packed boxes out of the house up the 30 deg hill to the garage. Now we had a place on the lower floor to put Cat’s hospital bed. On Wednesday Hospice called and said they had just had a hospital bed returned we could use. Neighbor, Bob, helped me lug in the bed and set it up. Starting the following Wednesday, 14 September, when Cat arrived home, hot suppers began showing up cooked by MARC wives. This continued through the time Cat stayed with the Bruxvoorts to 30 September. While we were in Anchorage Sue Martin came in and packed up all the kitchen/dining room stuff. We brought Cat home on Wednesday, 14 September and installed her in the hospital bed on the lower level. On Saturday, 17 September, it just didn’t look like we would get all the packing complete when the Hess family showed up and said “what can we do?” They packed all Saturday and came back Sunday afternoon and made a big dint in the living room, closets and master bedroom. Monday I feverishly completed the packing. On Tuesday the van showed up along with a forklift from Samaritan’s Purse and men from MARC, Emmaus and church. We had enough that we were able to send four guys to help Tom Turner (the other scheduler) who was loading the same day. We were done by 3 PM with the only hiccup being that the MGBGT, my sports car, did not make it on the van (the kitchen boxes went instead). On Thursday and Friday we dealt with arranging for a Samaritan Purse aircraft mechanic, Jose Reyes, to house sit the lower level and Greg Crawford’s family, a new pastor to Alaska, to rent the upper two levels. We believe this is God’s way of providing for us to be able to escape the California heat and come to Alaska for the summer months as Jose only needs accommodation through March 2012. On Friday Bob Martin came from MARC and helped take the hospital bed apart, transport it to Bruxvoort’s and helped set it up. With Cat installed at Bruxvoorts I packed the van with kitties, all the boxes of fragile things out of the MGMGT and the last 2 boxes and hit the road at 3 PM.

Day 1 of the trip started out on a gorgeous sunny day (weather that was to follow me all the way to Haines). The 150 miles from Soldotna to Eagle River, just north of Anchorage, was uneventful. The deciduous trees were gorgeous in their yellow leaves as seen in the picture to the right. Getting the cats into the hotel was a challenge. The luggage cart ramp into the hotel left only 1” on either side to the large dog carrier we are using to transport the 2 cats and their litter. The manager had to help me negotiate the turn to get through the doors. Once in the room I made the mistake of letting MiniMe (who has a pension for hiding under things in strange surroundings) & Trouble out of the cage. Trouble was no trouble but MiniMe found a hole in the material under the box spring and got up inside the box spring. No amount of coaxing would get him close enough to the hole that I could get him out. I had to take the mattress off and tip up the box spring to get MiniMe to the bottom side where the hole was. After getting him out I attached a leash to a chair and hooked to his collar. Mistake 2. I did not watch him closely and 10 minutes later I saw the leash stretched out towards the bed and the harness lying empty. I still don’t know how he got out because the latch was still taped shut. Fortunately I was able to get him out from under the bed.

Day 2 dawned partly cloudy and by 10 AM I was on the road with a full tank of gas. The 300 miles from Eagle River to Tok was uneventful. On the hillsides snow was visible - a harbingert of winter being on the way. Traffic was very light and the road condition was good. About an hour out the scenery changed dramatically as all the deciduous trees had lost all their leaves. At one point I was looking down on a pair of geese (there was a lot of up and down on this road). About a half hour later he spotted five different pairs of geese who were forming a flock to head south. I was able to watch them for about 15 minutes as they all joined up. After the incident in Eagle River we had decided to leave the cats in the car. After dinner I got on the internet to investigate AT&T’s U-verse. This is their new product that gives you TV (with DVR recording capability) & Phone over the internet using fiber optics. I need this capability to continue my mission with MARC. Technology is wonderful but it took me 2.5 hours chatting with Shayne to get all his questions answered and an order for installation completed (whew). To bed at 11:30 PM.
Day 3 dawned to clear skies. The 300 miles from Tok to Haines Junction, Yukon, Canada was uneventful. Traffic was very light again (in the six hours I drove I met 49 vehicles, passed 7 and had 10 pass him) and the road condition deteriorated. At 9:30 AM he was on the road with another full tank.

Driving out of Tok the view in the rear view mirror of the snow level on the mountains indicated it was time to head south. This was reinforced by a couple of the lakes that had ice around the edges. At the border station I stopped to use the men’s room and was told to hurry as a military heavy lift helicopter that he saw approaching was going to land and close the road. Upon exiting the building all I saw was a large cloud of dust thrown up by the helicopter. Thankfully he had landed on the US side of the station and I was able to continue my trip. Immediately after going through Canadian Customs (about 30 miles into Canada) the road deteriorated rapidly. There was a half mile portion that was gravel & posted at 45 MPH but I had to slow down to 20 MPH. When the pavement resumed there were initially signs warning of dips in the road and signs indicating where the dips were. About half an hour later there were so many that they resorted to just telling you dips for the next so many kilometers and letting you guess where they were. I got to use the whole road driving on whichever side was least dippy. Traffic was not a problem. Because the temperature went down to 28deg F in Tok and was forecast to go down to 22deg F in Haines Junction, I decided to move the cats into my room with the help of Frank & Debora who were also on their way to the ferry from Fairbanks.
Click on any picture to see it and others at Flickr.com

This time Minime could be let out because the box spring was mounted on a wooden box that he could not get under. However I was awakened once by Trouble at 3 AM and then half an hour later by MiniMe howling at another cat through the window. A coat hanger holding the curtain closed solved that problem.
Day 4 dawned partly cloudy. The 150 miles to Haines was a pleasant drive. At one point I climbed up through the snow level and drove through a snow shower (maybe leave a couple of weeks earlier next year). After crossing the border into the US it was like someone had flicked a switch because all the trees had their gorgeous leaves again. After lunch at a bar with internet I toured the thriving metropolis noting hotel options for future trips. Back at the bar for Monday night football and a meal. At 8 PM I walked out to the car only to find I did not have his keys – I had 45 minutes to get to the ferry. I asked the bar tender to use his phone to call AAA but was told no AAA here. Mechanics would charge $400 to unlock the car. The bar tender offered to try. I had checked the driver side doors but he was able to walk around and open the passenger side sliding door – why it hadn’t locked I don’t know but am very grateful. Had I missed the ferry the careful house of cards we had planned to get Cat would have crumbled. I was never so grateful.
Day 5, 6 & 7 on the ferry with no internet or cell phone – ARGH. But I made it.
Because of where I was parked, I was the second last car off. The ferry docked at 8AM and I got off at 9:30 AM. Even so, I made good time to Seattle, and with the help of some friends by 1:30 PM I was winging my way back north on Alaska Airlines. All went smoothly, I made my connection in Anchorage and arrived in Kenai at 5:30 PM. Seven days to go down and 6 hr 30 min to return. After a comfortable night at Bruxvoort’s, who had been taking care of Cat during my 7 day jaunt, Cat & I were on a plane arriving back in Seattle at 5:30 PM. Unfortunately our luggage did not make the same flights as we did. Sunday about noon they were delivered. Although Cat was recovering fairly well from her surgery we spent Sunday with friends resting. Cat and Donna went out to do some shopping but when they got to the pharmacy Cat could not find her wallet. We searched everywhere but never did find it. We have been checking our account since but there is not unusual activity after a week and a half. We started off at 12:30 PM and drove 4 hours before stopping in Salem, Oregon. The next day was similar this time stopping in Ashland. We got a nice room and were very fortunate as Ashland has an 8 month long Shakespeare Festival and the prices were reduced by 40% starting the next day. Wednesday we drove about 6 hours and pulled in to a friend’s place at 5:30 PM. I did not notice the consistency in arrival times until just now. On Friday I took the cats and drove to Turlock. The only incident that happened here was that I put my laptop on the roof of the van and then drove a mile cross town to where I was staying. While we were unloading the car someone from a second story vantage point informed us of the laptop on the top of the car. Whew!! Saturday the truck arrived at 8:30 AM and with the help of the church youth group and some additional adults we had everything off the truck and in the house by 12:30 PM. All this week it’s been unpack, unpack, unpack. We are about a third of the way through the boxes. We have the bedroom pretty well done. The kitchen is operational although we are missing our large spoons and spatula. The living room is getting there and the office is set up for my return to work. The big item was the installation of internet/phone/TV that I need to communicate for Alaska. And wonders of wonders it works! All we really have left is to unpack the remaining boxes and decide what goes and what stays. The house is basically full so anything that stays will displace something else – this may take a while. We have 4 boxes of stuff that we can’t decide on – in a year, if we haven’t used it, it’s history – that’s the plan anyways.

With Much Love

Cat ‘n Don