Alaska Trip: Day 7 thru 11

Ok – sorry to rush these last few days, however its been a while and I don’t want to lose the memories altogether. I will post one more blog about the Alaska trip titled Alaska Trip: Day 12. It will address the chapel service and the flight home. Until then, here are days 7 through 11:

Days 7 and 8: The process, Things were going well until…

The Process

From here out it was a lot of work. The truck showed up on Day 7 and Jeremy and I were able to unload most of it the first day by ourselves. It was between 30 and 50 below zero the entire time. Jeremy and I wore long johns, jeans, long sleeve shirts, heavy coats, gloves, and ski masks.Frozen hinge At 50 below, you have to address unloading a truck in a special way. Most movers will tell you not to touch a heavy item more then once, meaning when you pick it up, don’t put it down until you have it where its going to go. That won’t work at 50 below. If you have your garage open, and your house door open at 50 below, you are going to freeze you house up. I don’t mean your house will be cold. I mean your pipes will freeze, your toilets will freeze, and the warmest part of your house will be in your fridge! This picture is of the ice on the door hinge – it was 70 degrees inside, but the hinge is also outside at 50 below…

So, how do you unload a truck at sub-arctic temperatures? Well, you have to open the garage while keeping the house closed up tight, even then you turn on the water in the house because there are pipes in the garage. You unload the truck for about twenty minutes at a time, placing all your boxes and furniture in the garage. Then you close the garage and let it start to warm up. You open the house and move things into the house. After you have moved everything in the house, you close up the house, reopen the garage and start the process again.

We took Dana and Logan back to the hotel, but we both wanted to keep moving so, against Dana’s advise, we went back and worked another couple of hours. We actually got more than half the truck unloaded.

Things were going well until…

Things were going well until I pulled when I should have lifted. We were moving his VERY expensive therapeutic mattress which was frozen solid even after being in the garage over night. It has a great warranty unless you tear the handle. The term handle is a misnomer. It has a handle-looking piece of cloth sewn onto the underside of the mattress. I knew not to grab them, but when I slid my hand under the mattress to pull it onto the bed, I really meant to lift it up so Jeremy could push it on the box spring. The tearing sound made me realize that I must have pulled much more than I thought. I felt horrible, but I think Jeremy felt almost as bad for me as he did about the bed… almost.

Days 9, 10, 11: Finally some help, The Kitchen, Some down time

Jeremy unpacking the kitchenI’m not sure which day it was, but Jeremy finally was able to bring home some of the base guys to help us finish up the move. Two of them are also his neighbors. It didn’t take long to get the remaining furniture off the truck and into the house. One of his neighbors also asked that we assist him in getting a heavy TV upstairs for him, so after we got everything in Jeremy’s house, we helped the neighbor move the furniture there as well. The next several days were spent pulling the boxes in from the garage to the house, unpacking the kitchen, etc. By the way, Jeremy has more kitchen trinkets than anyone I know; several pizza cutters, cheese graters, potato pilers, and a cherry de-pitter. It seems like no matter how many boxes we pulled in from the garage for the kitchen, there were more boxes for the kitchen. Ok – I’m exaggerating, it wasn’t that bad, but it did seem never ending.

sewer backupWe did have an unexpected sewer backup in the garage. Apparently, a few months of being empty wasn’t good on the plumbing. But, Jeremy is renting so it was a stress free fix – call the land lord. A plumbing and thawing company was out in no time and we felt like we were on “Dirty Jobs” watching him do his work.

Ice SculptureIt wasn’t all work. We did go out to eat where I confused a rerun NFL game on the screens at the restaurant as current – it was the Patriot playing the Giants and the Giants won. I thought I had just witnessed New England loose a perfect season. We also went to an ice sculpture park which was right next to Santa’s House. It was very cool and I got to slide down an ice slide with my nephew (I wanted to slide down it anyway, but having Logan in my lap made me look less like an idiot). At one point, Jeremy and I boiled water and threw it in the air like we had seen in many youtube videos – it really did evaporate before hitting the ground- some of it turned into a snow like ice that fell to the ground – very cool!

TreesThis was a great trip. A lot of work, but still a trip I will always remember. I was glad I was able to be a part of helping Jeremy get moved and I really enjoyed spending time with Logan who by the end of the trip was calling my uncle. Forget all the Master Card commercials, that’s Priceless! I also got a few really great pictures (like this one that I took from Jeremy’s new back yard).

Alaska Trip: Days 6 Left over Day 5 issues, More driving, Proof of Insurance, The Hotel

I don’t think I mentioned on the Day 5 post the issue with the car. During the Yukon drive, the hose to the radiator overflow came loose and I lost a lot of antifreeze. Now normally, I would have smelled that quickly but still fighting a sinus infection, I couldn’t smell a thing. What I did notice was that the heat seemed to stop working. We had stopped a few times, so at first I assumed that the car was cold from opening the cab at 30 below, but after several miles and still no heat, I realized there must be an issue. I hit Jeremy up on the walkie and we pulled over. I was shivering from the cold and Jeremy showed more concern for me than the car – for which I am grateful. He jumped out of the SUV and started to pull out the travel heating blanket his wife had purchased despite Jeremy’s hazing her for it.

“I’ll plug this in so it can start to get warm, you can sit in the SUV to thaw out” He said. Jeremy even offered to trade vehicles for a while since the heat wasn’t working. I was more concerned about the car. We popped the hood and I noticed the hose. Now I don’t think Jeremy quite understood how bad it was, but he knew it wasn’t good. I figured the car had lost enough fluid that it couldn’t circulate through the engine to keep the heat going, but it also wasn’t cooling the engine. And I have no idea what these temperatures would do to the car, the thermostat, etc. What I do know is that we don’t have any antifreeze and pouring in water at 30 below would be bad. Thankfully, a couple of motorist stopped by and offered to assist with a bottle of antifreeze. We were only 30 or so miles from Tok but the car was so overheated that we waited in Jeremy’s SUV while the car cooled down.

So back to Day 6 – we stopped at the gas station in Tok and had the attendant top off the radiator with the proper water mix for these conditions. We stopped at the local restaurant for breakfast, but missed it by five minutes and had to order lunch instead. After that is was all road ahead.

Proof of Insurance Issue:

To get into Canada and back into America, Jeremy gave me several pieces of paper, including proof of insurance for Canada and the US. apparently, during the boarder crossings I misplaced the proof on insurance card. You cannot drive onto base without it, so when we finally got into North Pole, we had a problem. We are parked in front of the visitor center when I notice the paper is not in the glove box. Jeremy and I had both seen a couple of long days and were exhausted. As I looked for the card, Jeremy must have said how important it was that we find it 3 or 4 times before I snapped at him. I was tired and cold but I knew the card had to be in the car and it would just take some digging to find it amongst the cargo in this over stuffed car. But in the back of my head I was thinking, “its not that big of a deal – he has insurance and we can always get another card printed”. What I said was “Jeremy – I get it – I know how important it is!” I felt bad about snapping at him, it was entirely my fault that it was missing and he has a lot more invested in this trip than I do. Luckly, only moments after snapping at him, I found the card and all was forgiven.Logan Sackrider

The Hotel:

Dana and Logan were already on base waiting when we got there. Logan seemed very happy to see his daddy! The hotel on base was likely a very nice room as far as hotels go, but felt extremely small when trying to fit three adults and one toddler along with several bags. We ate dinner from the left overs that Dana had at the hotel. I think Jeremy and I went out to meet the Realtor and his new home, but it may have been on Day 7. I know that Jeremy and Dana went to a friend’s house on base (Dana met a friend online a year earlier that lived on this base), allowing me some wind down time to just relax.