07-Alaska Trip

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).

07-Alaska Trip

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.

07-Alaska Trip

Alaska Trip: Day 5 – Juno, iPod issues, the Border Patrol, the Road, the Lights


Jeremy taking some picturesWe got into Juno at 4:30am. Jeremy took Kyleigh out but I wasn’t feeling well at all, so I stayed in bed. My sleep was broken by a phone call from Jeremy – he wanted me to bring out a camera – “if you are coming out” he said. I wasn’t. Then I heard the agitation in his voice, but it wasn’t about the camera – it was about his iPod.IPod - Diag Mode

The iPod:

Well, yesterday I used a program called WinAmp to load songs to his iPod – songs he owned and wanted on his mp3 player – but because he wasn’t able to get to his desktop computer (its on the back of a truck on its way to his new home) he wasn’t able to load the songs that he purchased. I have iTunes on my laptop – but for those of you that own an iPod, you know that you cannot load songs to an iPod unless it only syncs with your iTunes. When you plug it into a second computer, it asks if you want to delete all songs on the iPod and sync with the new computer. If you say no – you cannot load new songs. This is Apple Computer’s best attempt to stop illegal song stealing. Anyway, WinAmp (freely available from allows you to sync any mp3 player with any computer – And it doesn’t mess up your iTunes account or you iPod. At least, that’s what I read online when I installed it.

Jeremy’s agitation was about his iPod – which was now in a diagnostic mode that he had never seen before – neither had I. “um… Dale – my iPod isn’t working. Its on some sort of a diagnostic screen and nothing works – I told you not to mess it up”. All the while, I’m half asleep and fully congested. “Ok, when you get back in I’ll take a look.” I don’t think that comforted him at all. When he finally brought it in, it was a matter of selecting the reset option, which brought it up into normal operation. I don’t know what put it in the diag mode, but I’m convinced that it was a fluke and the WinAmp upload was not the cause. In any case, all is well now and he has those additional songs.

The Boarder:

Welcome to AlaskaAfter we left Juno, it was a few short hours before we were at Haynes – our final port. Jeremy and I drove off the boat, took a few pictures, and hit the road. It was maybe an hour before the boarder, we stopped to put together a trailer hitch and off load some of the cargo we had in the cars – like gas cans. We filled up both cars and the cans – if you get stranded in the middle of nowhere at 30 below zero – your ‘running’ car is your only hope – I’ve seen Ice Road Truckers.

We started up the road a full hour after most of the ferry caravan traffic had gone ahead. We weren’t going to rush – this is a one time trip. We stopped to get pictures of the mountains, the scenery, and my favorite – Bald Eagles. Not one or two – dozens. It was amazing. Then we hit the boarder – where we caught up with the entire ferry caravan.Bald Eagles

Although I’m not exactly sure what the real story is, the rumor was that the woman at the front of the line had a marijuana conviction from when she was 19. We sat there for a few hours – which wouldn’t have been so bad except we lost the only day light we had left.

The Road:

Amazing AlaskaAfter we left the boarder, it was all road all night. There was a bright moon and no city lights, so the landscape was light up pretty well, and it was beautiful! At times it was even overwhelming. Jeremy and I both had two way radios so that we could signal each other when we needed to. There was one point where the view was so large and open with valleys and hills and mountains that I felt very small in comparison – Jeremy called me at that moment and said “how can anyone see this and not believe in God!” I agreed – Creation screams of its Creator.

Jeremy and I stopped at a dinner in Haynes Juncture where most of the ferry caravaners had decided to stay the night. We might have done the same, but despit the fact that it was pitch black outside, it was only 5pm and we both felt like we could push through. We ate at a dinner famous for its burgers, but they were sold out of burgers. It was nice to see familiar faces from the ferry and we enjoyed the company. After dinner, we hit the road and heading on to Tok, AK.

The Lights:

After about an hour or so of driving, we noticed a circle of light around the moon. I later learned this is due to ice crystals in the air that are under 20 microns (I have no idea when, how that happens) but the air was full of them and the moon reflects off them – so we see a perfect circle around the moon. What made this so impressive was that there was another circle of light over our heads and it intersected the circle around the moon and where they touched, they were almost as bright as the moon itself. Then as if this light show wasn’t enough to show off God’s artistic side, I noticed a pale green light rolling through the sky – it was dim, but it was there. We got back in the cars and headed down the road, but quickly pulled back over when that pale green light, popped on like someone flipped a switch. Northern Lights - I did not take this pictureIt was now a bright green light rolling back and forth, stretching itself across the sky as it went, slowly reaching from one side to the other like an animal waking after a long slumber, stretching its arms out as wide as it could. That went on for about thirty minutes, but it was about 30 degrees below zero, so we got back in our cars and headed down the road, catching a glimpse every other turn of the road or so of this majestic light show.

We finally reached Tok at about midnight. We checked into the hotel and plugged in the cars and grabbed some sleep.