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Short overview of Alaska trip

August 17, 2010

Sunday evening after church, our team loaded up into a few vans and headed to LAX for a late departure to Anchorage. When we arrived, the missionary and his summer helper picked us up and we drove up to Palmer where we would be based out of during the whole trip. I think we arrived at the “house” somewhere around 3 or 3:30 in the morning – all I remember is I finally dropped into bed at about 4:30 after creating some sort of order to the chaos we now called home. (Moving wood out of rooms, picking up ubiquitous nails that threatened to pop our air mattresses, sweeping sawdust, etc. Some of the girls also tacked up blankets to cover open windows – it was freezing in there!) We were staying in the missionary’s still-being-built house, thus the chaos.

Notice the open window to the left - some mornings we woke up shivering. =)

The next day or so is a blur so we’ll skip all that. (oh yeah, I think this was our day or two of “run around Anchorage and see how many hunting/fishing stores we can go too, multiple stops at the same store perfectly acceptable.” After heading inside one or two of them and exploring, we girls ended up just staying in the car (mostly) and amusing ourselves. I am still laughing about the one time we exited the store when we saw the guys get in line at the cash register and then not 5 seconds later the missionary comes running out the door saying we have to leave right now. We had been teasing earlier that the guys just kept stealing stuff from these stores, so when this happened we laughed even more. I was like “Seriously, did we just steal a tent or something? I mean, they were just at the back of a long line and now they are racing out of the store and pealing down the street!” Okay, you probably had to be there for that to make much sense but it really did make me laugh. A lot. They could spend hours in these stores, slowly, methodically browsing and chatting up each employee, but boy when it was time to go, it was time to go. Hang on to your hats!)

On Wednesday half of our group (the female half – and “Father Norris”) and headed 6 hours north to Fairbanks. The plan was to get in to town in time for church, then spend the night at church and head out the next morning for Steven’s Village by way of the Yukon River. We got into town in plenty of time to stop by the Powell’s house for a yummy dinner of lasagna, garlic bread, salad and cheesecake for dessert. (Unless you are a guy reading this, then we had bread and water for dinner. We were not spoiled in any sort of way up there.) Then off to church we hurried (we did lots of things in a hurry on this trip, except coffee stops, guess you gotta get your priorities right sometimes ). After a unique service, and half the girls getting beat up (okay, not really, but they went to the youth service and played games in which I think they learned the true meaning of “mountain women” – wow.), we decided to stay at the Powell’s house for the evening instead of at the church, Thank you Heidi! It was soooo incredibly nice to take a mostly warm shower and have clean hair! Father Norris and the missionary stayed back at the church for the night. In the morning we all hurried (of course) to pack up and be ready for when the missionary and Father Norris got back. Okay, I gotta stop calling him that, makes it sound like I was on a Catholic trip. Mr. Archer.  However, plans changed again (surprise!) and we were now in even more of a hurry to leave. Not sure why, but we were. (I mostly spent the whole trip never sure of anything, but hey when you are all in the same boat… (or not?)…it doesn’t matter a whole lot, we probably all had confused looks permanently plastered on our faces.) I was sure of one thing though, and that was the fact that we were having fun. I hadn’t expected the trip to be so much fun, but it was. So that was a good thing!

So goodbye Fairbanks, now we were headed south back to Anchorage, full steam ahead. Until we passed the boat store. Screeeech, stop. I soon learned that the modus operandi of the trip was either hurry up, or stop, never any middle ground. So here we stopped .And stayed. Which was fine with me (not that anyone was asking, mind you, but…flexibility rules the day). We walked down by the river. And ate raspberries. And looked around the store. And walked down to the river. And ate raspberries. And looked around the store. And….yep, we did. And then it finally started raining (real rain, not sprinkles like in Palmer) and I think I heard the loudest thunder I have ever heard in my life. Directly overhead. Alrighty then, time to move on. We piled into the trucks and off we went, driving down through Denali and trying to find CDs we wanted to listen to. The girls wanted to listen to Patch the Pirate and I begged them to pleeeeease find something, anything else. (okay, only one of the girls wanted to listen to them, but I won’t say which one.) =) So Sarah found a CD and we popped it in and I loved it. After a few times through, our driver who shall remain nameless decided he had had quite enough of that CD (we’d only gone through it twice too) and took it out. And I finally agreed to let them listen to Patch the Pirate, and then I stuffed ear buds into my ear and cranked up some nice, soothing music. Which didn’t stay soothing for long as Pixie Pirate (?) began screeching in her highly whining and annoying way. Ahhhhhhhh. Thankfully we finally pulled that CD out. Whew, not agreeing to that again. Somehow we were able to get the first CD back in for a few more times and I think by this time the whole car had agreed that they liked it. This CD later turned out to be a team favorite and we seriously listened to it nonstop after that. And I think most of us have it on order now. =) I totally recommend it. “He Ran to Me” by David Smallwood. Love it.

Okay, so now that we would not be heading up the Yukon to Steven’s Village, the next plan was to go get the guys in Palmer and head 5 hours south to Homer. I think we got into Palmer on Thursday night and on Friday we left for Homer. It was such a pretty drive! Along the way we made the requisite stop at a coffee shop (we made a million and one stops at various coffee shops and itsy bitsy coffee stands throughout this entire trip.) We also took lots of breaks to “stretch our legs.” Okay, maybe not lots, but a few. I guess lots of coffee = the need for lots of stretching.

One of the many little coffee stands we stopped at

One of the coffee shops in Anchorage that we stopped at

Back on the road again. Lunch stop in some tiny place that totally looked like Switzerland. Don’t remember the name but I think I (and one of the girls) narrowly missed setting up permanent residence there. Too bad. My family would have loved to come visit. Oh, okay, according to my credit card bill it’s called Girdwood.  It was near here that I saw my first eagle of the trip flying overhead. Would have missed it had “Sir” not pointed it out. Sometimes I think he made up animals just for us to miss seeing (Oh, there was a moose back there. Did you see that goat up there?) So I tried it myself and everyone got mad at me when they realized there was no bear (or whatever it was that I was “pointing” out to them). I just figured two could play that game.

We got down to Homer Friday evening and after deciding not to head over to Seldovia till the morning, we headed to the church where we were going to crash for the night. After getting stuff set up, and getting some food, we wandered around and took pictures of the beautiful scenery and sunset-lit clouds. There was also a bald eagle nest down near the water and so of course we had to get pictures of that. (Side note: Pastor at this church gets major bonus points for thinking I was one of the teen girls. Major points.)

Here's the daddy eagle

Mommy eagle on her nest

Saturday we headed down to the dock and the first group of us launched out for Seldovia. That was one of the most exciting boat rides I have ever been on! Soooo much fun! We saw several sea otters playing nearby as well.

When we arrived in Seldovia  we did some doorknocking and when our second group made it over we had lunch and made balloon animals for the kids and passed out lots of tracts. Then one of our groups headed out for Port Graham, the Native village that we all were trying to get to, and while we waited for the boat to come back for us, the rest of us continued doorknocking and soulwinning. Once our time to meet the boat arrived, we headed down to the dock to wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Since the boat had had electrical problems once we arrived in Seldovia, I thought maybe they had had problems again when they arrived in Port Graham. Or, as another random scenario, I thought maybe they had gotten some bad weather and instead of coming for us, just took the first group straight from Port Graham back to Homer without coming to get us. (I’m psychic) After waiting for a few hours, we finally got word that they had taken the first group back to Homer and would be coming for us in a few hours. At least now we knew what had happened and that everyone was okay. So we hung out and ate yummy French fries that the local coffee shop owner had gotten us. (We had basically camped on her front porch and inside her coffee shop all day whenever we weren’t doorknocking, so she probably thought we were basically like family now.)

Hanging out on the coffee shop porch and making balloon animals

Once the boat finally came for us and we had a happy reunion, we had an uneventful ride back over to Homer. We had a great time of fellowship with everyone afterwards and we were all rejoicing that Leanne was able to lead a lady to the Lord in Port Graham. It was neat to see how the Lord led us there for that specific reason. It was rewarding to see fruit for all the efforts of everyone who made this trip possible. And I was so blessed to be along to experience it. Was it worth all the time off and the nonexistent paycheck next week? And the thousands that others had invested? Totally! Such a small price to pay.

Sunday morning we went to morning services and then zoomed off to Anchorage for an evening service “show time” of 5 pm. Pedal to the medal Mr. Sir Robert Grumps-A-Lot! Even with squeezing in a quick McDonald’s lunch stop, and a photo stop for the girls, we made it with time to spare! Although we didn’t realize (I’m sure Sir realized, but we didn’t) that they have a testimony time before their service, so it still felt like we were late as we walked in.

Monday and Tuesday we did….something….can’t remember what, it’s all running together now, but I know we were doing something. (Not that you doubted that) And Wednesday we packed up and caravanned down to Anchorage for lunch and then off to the airport. Time to say goodbye. Sniff…

Okay, that’s a really quick, super condensed version of some of what went on while we were in Alaska. Oh, and I cleaned the dirtiest oven I’ve ever seen in my life. (I know, I am sure there are worse ones but I don’t get out much 😉 Wow. The combination of oven cleaner and fish oil build up inside that oven was…..powerful….I seriously hope I never smell anything like it again. I almost threw up once and had to take several fresh air breaks so that my eyes would stop watering. But it was very nice and rewarding to see it come clean! Thank heaven for Easy-Off oven cleaner! I might still be in Alaska right now otherwise…

It was such an awesome trip! It was great to get to know the missionaries and their kids, get to see the work there and help out a little bit, get to spend time fellowshipping, and see beautiful Alaska as well. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go (hehe I can say that since we didn’t have to go camping  – seriously though I was looking forward to that trip, it would have been a neat experience. And staying in that house was sorta like camping, to me at least.) When we got back to the church and I got ready to head home, the first thing I did was try to put my car in reverse and ended up turning on my windshield wipers and spraying my windshield. In my sleep-deprived state I was a bit confused as to what was going on. Then I realized that this was not the ancient big blue church van, nor was it the big Excursion, but it was my little car and my gear stick is not located on the steering wheel. Wow. I knew I was forgetful but…

After a week and a half in Alaska I felt so at home there. It’s interesting to me how adaptable the human spirit is. I could have just stayed there. It felt weird to be going home. But it’s nice to be home now and getting caught up on things. And no more trips for 3 months! I have to say I am happy about that, weird as it sounds coming from me.

The rest of my Alaska pictures are on my picasa site, so any of you team who wanted pics feel free to copy them.

A few random highlights of the trip:

1. Blackberry shakes at Arctic Roadrunner!

Hannah finishing off Sarah's blackberry shake

2. Finding my first moose. =)

I did finally see a real moose though. A few of them.

3. And finding my first bear. Besides Chloe, and the ones I saw one people’s walls, this was the only bear I saw. Oh and the one at the airport.

Saw this bear at one of our many man store stops.

4. Finding the cutest mushrooms!

Not that I took any pictures of them....

5. Stopping in Wasilla – woohoo!

Hi, Sarah!

6. Taking a million boot pictures

Guess whose boots?

7. Stopping to take a bunch of pretty scenery pics

Matanuska Glacier in the distance

To be continued when I have time! =)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2010 9:16 pm

    Sounds like a great trip, Jen!

  2. jenmarie permalink*
    August 23, 2010 10:21 am

    It was so great!

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