Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Funny story, right after bath we tried to get Jason to put his pajamas on and he had an absolute meltdown. He absolutely did not want to put on the pajamas because "The Grinch is a scary bad guy and so mean." Every Grinch on the pajamas is smiling and happy but Jason was sure that the Grinch was mean all the time. We finally bribed him into the pajamas and then showed him the last few minutes of the movie to show him the Grinch is a good guy. After that he was fine with his new pajamas.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
See December isn't the ideal time to visit Alaska. The days are short and the nights are long and dark. The midnight sun won't be out for months. The temperatures can be sub zero for days on end making it somewhat undesirable to do much outside. I would much rather have first time visitors come in the summer and see how truly beautiful Alaska is but my in-laws didn't want to miss another Christmas with the grandkids, I can respect that, so north they come.
Assuming the weather is corporative I have a few really fun activities planned for their visit. I want to take them to the Winter Ice Park in North Pole. I also think it would be fun all of us to go to the fireworks display that the University has on New Year's Eve. I've never been, mostly due to not wanting to fight crowds, so if we are going to go now seems the time! I also want to take them to the muesum, which isn't dependant on the weather.
Overall I know we will have a great time. We've already had a deep freeze in November and recently the temperatures have been pretty mild. I'm hoping that the weather will wait to bottom out until the day they leave. That way they can say they've experienced -20 but we can still enjoy some of the winter activities.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Miles traveled: 437
Total miles traveled: 1983
There is absolutely NOTHING else anywhere near the Northern Rockies Lodge, and they know it! After we woke up and packed up we took a look at the restaurant menu and decided breakfast wasn't worth THAT much. A bowl of cereal was almost $6 and that didn't include the milk. We had granola bars, juice boxes, and water bottles in the car. So we agreed to skip breakfast, get on the road and eat a big lunch in Watson Lake. By cutting breakfast out we ended up getting a much earlier start than we had planned, which was very nice.
Muncho Lake was absolutely beautiful. The cloudy skies didn't allow for a great picture of the dazzling green of the water. We spend a few minutes enjoying the lake and then we were on our way.
There is lots of wildlife to be seen along the highway. One animal we were hoping to see was the Wood Bison. Just outside Muncho Lake we got our wish. First we saw this big guy on one side of a two lane bridge. It was both amazing and intimidating to see such a large animal up close.
On the other side of the bridge and a little way up the road we found this group of Wood Bison sunning themselves in a large, open, grassy area. We pulled off the road and took several pictures, a video, and made sure the boys got to take a good look at the herd.
Watson Lake is home to the famous Sign Post Forest. The sign post forest has been in existence since the Alcan was being build. Story goes that in 1942, during the construction of the highway, a homesick construction worker put up a sign showing how many miles to his home town. Many other people followed suit and so the forest began.
It's pretty amazing to look at. There are population signs, welcome signs, license plates and other forms of signage from all over the world. The boys ran around checking out all the cool things and looking for familiar signs. It was a nice stop to stretch our legs and burn of some energy.
Another view of the signpost forest. The place was immense and quite interesting. If we'd had more time we might have taken a closer look. However we were wasting no time so after a brief investigation we were off to gas up and hit the road.
Now keep in mind we have now been in Canada for almost 10 days. We've been filling up on gas daily, staying in hotels all over Canada, eating out and shopping. Most, if not all, of this spending had been done one one credit card. We hadn't had any problems at all until Watson Lake. When I went inside the convenience store to pay for our gas the card was denied. We figured it was because of the unusual activity, although we were all a little surprised it had taken this long to happen. The real problem was that the lady in the store was not at all patient or understanding of the situation. In fact she was down right rude. We paid with a different card and left quickly.
After leaving Watson Lake we made very few stops, mostly because there was NO PLACE to stop, on our way to Whitehorse. By the time we arrived in Whitehorse the excitement and anticipation of reaching Fairbanks tomorrow was almost unbearable. We were all ready to be done with the driving, done with hotels, done with eating out and off the road. ONE more day and we would be DONE!
Catch up on Parts 1 - 9 of our Adventure to Alaska
Monday, December 12, 2011
While we were making the cookies we had a talk about fractions and I was astounded at just how much he really understands about how fractions work. He knew exactly how many quarters would be in 2 1/4 cups. He was also able to break it into halves and quarters. Each measured ingredient he was able to talk about in at least two ways. He's in the first grade! I'm pretty sure I was in fifth or sixth grade before I understood fractions.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
When I saw the Lego City Advent Calendar in the store it was a no brainer to buy it and bring it home. And so I did, in September. For the last 2+ months the calendar has been sitting in the top of my closet waiting for December 1 to roll around. I wrapped it up and put it under the tree for a few days (yes I had my tree up and decorated before December 1) and the anticipation from my two boys grew each day. To say they were excited about the calendar would be understating their emotions. And honestly I'm excited too. I have absolutely NO idea what we will end up with after we open all 24 little doors and I can't wait to find out. It has been so fun each day opening the door, building the piece, and watching things taking shape.
Here is what we have built in the first 7 days of December: two people, what looks like a jail cell, a snowball launcher, a skateboard, two packages and a Christmas tree. I'll make sure to post a picture of everything once we've opened all the doors.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
It wasn’t on this December day.
No school in the morn,
A tree to adorn.
Let’s have some fun
While we get the job done
And enjoy an ice day
A very nice way.
Ok so I may not have a career in poetry but we sure did have a fun Sunday and Monday. There isn’t much that causes school to be cancelled in Alaska but freezing rain and icy roads is one of those things. Sunday evening we got the call that there would be no school on Monday due to poor and deteriorating road conditions. Sunday’s we usually have family dinner at my parent’s house and this Sunday was no different except that we had come prepared to spend the night. It had drizzled off and on all day and drizzle plus frozen ground is a recipe for poor road conditions.
Once we got the call that schools would be closed on Monday bedtime went out the window and we set about decorating my parent’s Christmas tree. Every year we each get a new decoration to put on my parent’s Christmas tree. It’s always an ornament that has some special meaning to the person who receives it. This year was no different.
Jonathan received a moose in a cocoa cup from Lenox. Before Jonathan was born we chose a moose theme for his room. He has moose galore. Stuffed animals, blankets, pillows, shirts, sweatshirts, books and pictures, you name it he’s got it. Cocoa is a big thing in our family. None of us, except my dad, are coffee drinkers but we all LOVE cocoa.
Jason got a little bear holding a cup of cocoa from Lenox. Jason’s bedroom theme was bears and for every moose item Jonathan has Jason has a bear item. And like I said we LOVE our cocoa! These were the two most perfect decorations for my boys.
Dan got an Oregon decoration. The old White Stag sign is an iconic Portland landmark. It’s right along I84 and you drive into downtown. Dan saw this sign every morning on his way to school and it’s something that really reminds him of Portland. While we were in Oregon this summer I found a decoration that depicted the White Stag sign and knew it was the perfect decoration for mom to give him. He was thrilled with it and the meaning behind the decoration.
I got a moose holding a teddy bear riding on a sled from Lenox. There is a story about me and moose which you can find here.
After we opened our decorations Mom took pictures of me and the kids hanging ours on the tree. Not sure how we missed Dan but we did. Sorry Babe! We still love you I promise!
Jonathan hanging up his moose. His expression is so serious.
Jason was having some difficulties hanging his decoration on his own so I gave him a hand.
At some point in the evening mom snapped this pic of the boys and me. I think it’s pretty darn cute.
We spend much of the afternoon on our "snow day" decorating the tree and now the job is done. Mom said this is probably the earliest we've ever finished the tree. We always have it up Thanksgiving weekend but decorating it can take several weekends. It's nice to have it done because now we have more time to enjoy!
Monday, December 5, 2011
In other news we are home from school today due to severe ice. School doesn't get canceled for much up here but freezing rain will bring town to a near halt. We are out at my mom's house waiting out the weather. We came out for our usual Sunday dinner but looked at the weather and decided we better come prepared to spend the night. So we will spend our day off sipping cocoa and decorating the Christmas tree at my moms. Should be a fun, unexpected, three day weekend.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Jonathan has excelled at Tae Kwon Do. Its been wonderful for him to have such a positive outlet for his boundless energy. In addition to self defense skills they also teach life skills. We have seen a dramatic improvement in him behavior wise since starting Tae Kwon Do. In February, about a month after starting lessons, he earned his first belt promotion, white belt to yellow stripe. In mid October he tested again and was promoted from yellow stripe to yellow belt. We are all so proud of him!
Looking all serious for the group photo after the test. The serious expression and his stance makes him look so grown up, sniff.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Being a working mom is tough sometimes. I love my job but it often means that I miss fun activities at Jonathan's school. Jonathan is pretty understanding but it's lame having to disappoint him so often. When he asked if I was coming to his feast I knew I'd have to disappoint him again. He took it well but was noticeably bummed at the news that I would not be coming.
As it turned out that Wednesday was a VERY slow day at work and I decided to take advantage of a slow day and sneak away for an early and longer than normal lunch. Jonathan was absolutely thrilled when I walked in the room. The look of excitement on his face was absolutely priceless.
His teacher, is fantastic but I'll blog about him later, had a turkey dessert craft for the kids to do and I got to help Jonathan and a few of his friends complete the cute project.
Jonathan's turkey project. He ate exactly the way he put it together, once piece at a time. Several friends tried to eat theirs in one bite. That was amusing to say the least!
His teacher asked the adults to prepare plates for each of the kids that way there weren't 22 1st graders walking across the classroom with paper plates full of food. The kids were so sweet when their food was delivered. Everyone said thank you and several kids even gave me a hug when I served them.
Jonathan's joy that I showed up is absolutely transparent on his sweet little face. I'm so glad I was able to get away and make his day!
Thursday, December 1, 2011
I'll be back! I PROMISE!
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Miles traveled: 384
Total miles traveled: 1546
Leaving Fort St. John we had two choices: drive 384 miles, an 8 hour drive, and stay at the Northern Rockies Lodge on Muncho Lake or drive 555 miles, a 12 hour drive, to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, Canada and find a place to stay there. Obviously an 8 hour drive, plus stops, was much preferred than a 12 hour drive, plus stops, so we opted for staying at Muncho Lake. Of course all this was dependent on the Northern Rockies Lodge having a room or rooms available. If they had nothing then we would have no choice but to press on to Watson Lake.
Thankfully when when we called the Northern Rockies Lodge had a room available. One room, two full beds, one twin and a private bathroom. Good enough for the five of us. And so we set off toward Muncho Lake.
Between Fort St. John and Muncho Lake there was Fort Nelson and that's about all. Honestly other than beautiful views, scenic vistas, wildlife, and road construction there is nothing between the point A and point B. So we drove and drove and drove some more. We stopped in Fort Nelson for lunch, not necessary because we were hungry but more because there was a Subway there and we had NO idea if there would be any food again. Fortunately we were smart and had a cooler of meat, cheese and condiments as well as bread, chips and some desserts stowed in the car. As it turned out that would be our dinner that night because upon arriving at our destination we discovered food was outlandishly expensive and it would have cost a fortune to feed a family of five!
There was another guy in a red pick up that we must have seen four or five times. Same deal, we pass him, we pull off, he passes us and then we pass him again when we get back on the road. He actually pulled into Muncho Lake to get gas just moments after we got in line to check into our room. Needless to say mom and I had a good laugh about that one. And I bet you can't guess who we saw when we got to Tok. :-) We still chuckle about that every now and then!
Jason after throwing a rock into the lake.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Miles traveled: 412
Total miles traveled: 1162
Leaving Edmonton signaled the beginning of the second half of our trip. The trip from Pullman to Edmonton had been a sightseeing trip. We took it slow, took in the sights, enjoyed the drive, and basically treated it like a driving vacation. We covered 710 miles in 7 days and it was, by comparison, a pleasure cruise.
The second half of our trip, Edmonton to Fairbanks, was where the rubber hit the road. The necessity of getting to Fairbanks in a timely manner coupled with the sparse places to stay the night meant we had to cover some serious miles every day. We had just 4 days to cover 1,826 miles. Vacation was over, it was time to get to work. We filled up on a good breakfast and hit the road.
Somewhere just outside of Edmonton we stopped at a little roadside market. They had fresh produce as well as souvenirs and ice cream. There was also a tipi that was open to explore. Of course the kids thought it was pretty neat to go inside and look around. Jonathan had a hard time understanding just how someone could live in something like this, especially in a place with cold and snow.
The road to this point was so much better than I had expected. We had four lane, divided highway for quite a while out of Edmonton and when the road did go down to two lanes it was still a very well maintained road. And so far we had not yet found any of the infamous Alaska Highway frost heaves. That would change!
Friday, July 22, 2011
I'm not one for thrill rides. I'd even go so far as to say I hate roller coasters. They scare the heck out of me. I don't even really like watching them. I get this knot in my stomach just thinking about them. That said I LOVE water parks. They are super fun. Twisting, turning and splashing is my idea of a really fun thrill ride. Needless to say from the moment we decided we were going to Edmonton the water park at the mall was on the agenda.
We had a blast! Mom doesn't really do water but she went with us and took some pictures, read and relaxed. The kids splash area had a really great slide that kids could do alone or with a parent. Both boys had so much fun. There were knobs to twist and valves to open and close that all changed the direction the water was going.
Jonathan was having a blast!
Playing with one of the foot water controls. Very fun for small kids.
Jason just splashing around.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The West Edmonton Mall has a huge amusement park. They have several roller coasters, some thrill rides, kids rides, and a train that goes through the whole park. Since we were spending several days at the mall we decided to spend part of one day at the amusement park having fun with the boys. Jason wasn't able to do a lot of the rides because he was too small but he had fun one the ones he did get to go on. The ride operator of the hot air balloon ride even let all 4 of us on for the price of 1. It was pretty cool. I'm sure if they had been super busy that wouldn't have happened.
Jonathan and me on the hot air balloons.
Jonathan on the airplane ride.
Jason ridding the purple zebra... or something!
All of us on the train ride.
The sea lions doing one of their tricks.
We also ran into Cosmo, the mall mascot. Jason wanted NO part of him!