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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Alaska Marine Highway

Surprisingly enough we made it through the entire list of things we wanted to do while in Washington before catching the ferry in Bellingham. The ferry leg of the journey went very well. The ferry is nice (although very different from cruise ship). Our stateroom is quite cozy but we've made it work so far.

We left Bellingham at 7PM on Friday afternoon and made our first stop in Ketchikan on Sunday morning. The town was interesting. We made the 5.5 mile round trip walk into town to explore. Nothing was open! We finally found a place to eat lunch and it cost us $45! We're definitely not in Missouri anymore. We took pictures of some of the totem poles, the welcome sign and Creek Street, famous for stilted houses.

The ferry set sail again 4 hours later and made two very short stops but before reaching Juneau this morning. Juneau is a very beautiful city with much to offer. The people are very friendly and helpful. We explored Mendenhall Glacier, visited the UA campus, toured downtown and drove across the channel to Douglas Island. Douglas Island was the original tent city during the Gold Rush.

Tomorrow we board a new ferry to make the cross gulf trip toward Anchorage. We will make one stop in Yakatat before docking in Whittier. We'll send more pictures as soon as possible.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Michigan-Colorado-WY-UT-ID-OR-Washington

Well we made it safely back to Colorado after spending time with the Fox family in Michigan. The weather in Colorado was definitely more inviting at 50+ degrees (MI=13). My Dad picked us up from the airport and took us home where Mom had made a farewell feast and invited everyone over. Once we were stuffed and all the bags loaded we headed west. We spent Sunday night, December 7th at Hill AFB in Ogden, UT and got up early to finish the drive. We encountered heavy snow fall just north of the city but beat the storm and had nice travel weather all the way to Seattle. We have to let you know that we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch stopover in the town of Baker City, OR. We ate at a hoppin' diner called the Oregon Trail Restaurant! The food was great as well as the prices. Stop there if you ever get the chance.

We arrived at Jay and Elizabeth's place around 9PM on Monday and enjoyed a week full of fun!

Tuesday: Pike Place Market, Starbucks, Fresh Crab and Puroskys. Then we met up with several Fort Lewis/USMA friends on Tuesday night for dinner. It was great to see Collin, The Lesters, Jon and Woody (in order of appearance).

Wednesday: Dan had an emergency root canal (yippee), lunch at the Steilacoom pub with Corey, Jon and Collin. A long and intense trip to the commissary and class 6. A nice home cooked dinner in Seattle at Jay & Elizabeth's home.

Thursday: Snoqualmie Falls, IKEA, the jewelery store, Johnny's seafood, our "arrival" pic from Fort Lewis, cooking expedition and drinks at the neighborhood pub.

Friday: We pack up, tour a winery (purchase a case of wine) and head to Bellingham to pick up an engine block heater and battery warmer before driving onto the ferry and shoving off toward the last frontier.

We will be on the ferry for 6.5 days with a stopover in Juneau, AK on December 15th. We will arrive at the port of Whittier, less than 100 miles south of Anchorage on December 18th! We can't wait, but for now it is back to packing, loading the car and applying Sea Sickness patches!

Pictures will follow soon -- As soon as we can find a cable to download the camera!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Visiting Michigan

We arrived late Tuesday night at the airport in Detroit. Wednesday Dan and Dad went duck hunting while Amanda and Mom gathered ingredients for holiday treats and preformed a recon of a nearby Christams tree farm and successfully harvested the tree. They were able to get in set up and in the house before the boys returned home from their adventure.

Dan and Amanda then drove down to St. Clemens to visit Dan's friend Eugene and his family. We enjoyed the visit with the entire French family and playing with Eugene and Krstal's 13 month daughter. It was great to caught up!

Thursday we spent most of the day at home baking cookies and working on Christmas lights. We spent the afternoon and early evening with Aunt Brenda, Uncle Jerry and baby Lauren! What a beautiful girl...although she had not slept all day and had no intention of napping. We really enjoyed seeing them and meeting Lauren. She'll be so big the next time we are able to make it back home!

On the same road (without any turns)....

We left Jewell very early Thanksgiving day. We made sure that we filled up on gas at the first opportunity. No one wants to run out of gas driving through Kansas in the dark, off the main highway on a holiday. By about 5:30 (still dark) we were both getting sleepy and pulled off the road to catch a few zzzs. We hit the Colorado state line about 8:00AM. We kept driving and soon the the low fuel light came on! Little did we know there were no fuel stations on highway 36! We went nearly 55 slow and agonizing miles before we found a gas station! Oh, I forgot to mention that we had not seen another vehicle in either direction for at least 300 miles. So, it would have been a long walk had we completely ran out of fuel.

We made it to the Prall family cabin at Indian Mountain, CO just in time to make the mashed potatoes and eat Thanksgiving dinner. Afterward we set off to cut Christmas trees in the forest.

Mom, Dad, Amanda and Dan stayed at the cabin until Saturday taking in the scenery and solitude and headed back to town for Aunt Frannie's 92nd Birthday party.

We had a jammed pack stay in Colorado taking family pictures, visiting friends and family and touring Colorado School of Mines. On Tuesday afternoon we caught a flight to Michigan to visit the Fox's.

On the Road Again...

The moving process is both chaotic and draining. We left Fort Leonard Wood on Tuesday, November 25th around noon. It was later than we anticipated but with a few changes to the plan we were able to driving to Pontoon Beach, IL to drop off Dan's truck for shipment before we headed west toward Colorado. We hit St. Louis just in time to get stuck in rush hour traffic. After careful consideration we decided to call and cancel our reservations with our very gracious friends the Eggars and called up Amanda's great aunt in Jewell, KS. We arrived in Jewell around 1:30 AM and quietly crawled in bed for a few hours of sleep. Little did we know that the tornado siren sounds promptly at 7:00AM, 12noon and 5:00PM each day and it is located right outside our bedroom window. Surprise!

We stayed in Jewell all day Wednesday visiting with Amanda's family. Cousin Sara had driven in from NM early in the week and we help her with projects around the house. Aunt Jeanine made a wonderful breakfast and "dinner" for us. We visited the town, walking both to "Scoops" the icecream parlor and to the grocery store. We enjoyed playing cards and hanging Christmas lights before many cousins, aunts and uncles arrived to the Thanksgiving feast! We hit the road early (3:15AM) heading to Colorado for Thanksgiving dinner.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So long, farwell...


Well we officially leave Missouri today! The last week has been maxed out with packing, shipping, cleaning and out processing. Dan is tying up all of the loose ends this morning and if all goes well we will be heading out of Fort Leonard Wood within an hour. Then we will start the journey west by heading due east to drop of his truck for shipment. Before we know it we should arrive at our friends the Eggar's house for the night. Thank God for the Eggar family and there continued hospitality...we truly appreciate it! Then we'll head to Colorado in time for Thanksgiving. We hope that you all have a safe and warm Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our move!


Today the movers arrived to pack our belongs in preparation for shipment to Alaska. Time seems to have flown by in recent weeks and even months. When we first arrived in Missouri I thought our time here would never come to an end. Now that we have gone settled in and made some great friends it is time to say goodbye once again. We will certainly miss everyone at FLW and look forward to seeing your again in the future.


In the mean time...Dan is still at Sapper school and should finish on Friday. Just in time to miss all of the moving and cleaning! Although, he has worked very hard to earn his Sapper tab and I will have thoroughly missed him. Next time I hope to make the "move" together.


Included are some pictures from our time at Fort Leonard Wood!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Well as the month of October comes to a close we are quickly approaching the end to our time at Fort Leonard Wood. Dan has officially started Sapper school; 30 days of hooah training in the woods. While he is gone it is up to me to coordinate the shipping of his truck to Alaska, attending moving briefs, organize our home and separate anything we may want from the remainder of our household goods before the packers arrive. After that has finished I can work on closing out our house here in Waynesville. Moving is always more work than anticipated.

However, when we have loaded up the Outback we'll head west to the mountains of Colorado to celebrate Thanksgiving. The holiday will immediately be followed by a trip to Michigan and then the long drive to the Pacific Northwest. We are looking forward to our time back in Seattle/Tacoma as a chance to visit those we left behind last winter. After we've visited and said our goodbyes once again we will board the ferry in Bellingham for our 6-1/2 day ride to Whittier, AK. But before we get there Dan has to graduate Sapper school and I've got lots to do...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Near the End of FLW

Our time at Fort Leonard Wood is slowly coming to an end but not to worry we still have 6 weeks to enjoy our time here. Dan graduated from Missouri University of Science and Technology on October 3rd with a Master of Science in Engineering Management. Yay! No he is fully engaged in his train up for Sapper school which starts at the end of the month.

My career as a barista in building 470 was short lived (by choice), however, it was nice to have another pay check once again. So for now it is back to substitute teaching.

We said goodbye to our good friend Joe this morning. He is on his way up to Alaska to prepare for our arrival! Seriously, we have been blessed by his friendship and are excited to continue our military careers together at yet another duty station.

As for our move to Alaska. The last frontier has us all excited...we have researched and anticipated and can't wait to make the move in mid December.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Misery. Oh, I mean Missouri

Dan is in full swing with grad school...hours and hours of homework each day! What happened to the break from duty? Anyhow, the summer is quite nice. The best season this area has to offer. Only one problem -- THE BUGS! With the amount of bug spray I use I should be alarmed for our health. After all the bugs are still around and biting. Last weekend Dan's parents came down and we spent the Fourth of July weekend bbq, doing fireworks and canoeing. We had a blast. Now it is back to normal routine: Get up, drink tea, check the internet for news, check the garden, check email, start homework, eat lunch, finish homework, check the garden (just in case something magically grew in the past 4 hours), watch a movie, make dinner and eat, read and go to sleep. There is no variance in this schedule expect for the amount of homework and the number of times a day I check on the garden. I have made the move outdoors for my movie viewing. Oh, how I will have to adapt when we move to Alaska.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Our 1st Anniversary

Well today marks one year! We made it...
Really there has been little turbulence, although it did take a while to adjust to marriage and living together. This year has brought many blessings and adventures. We are so blessed to have a wonderful family and support network. We've made it through 2 cross country moves, floods, avalanches, tornadoes and many other trials. We have grown together and grown in faith and are more than excited for the future.

Speaking of the future -- we still don't know anything about our orders but we are now planning on leaving Fort Leonard Wood around November 23rd and spending Thanksgiving with our families. If we are going to Alaska we will probably arrive there around Christmas day! Looking at the calendar we should hit it on the mark. So, please pray for our journeys!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Long time no talk

Wow! I have really slacked on my posts. It has been 3.5 months since I have written anything. Life here in Missouri is good. Dan finished his military course last week and now is overwhelm with graduate work! So much for the wonderful summer they had us believing in.
I finished off the semester with a 4.0 and have started an online class for the summer. After that I have to make the decision whether or not finish this degree remotely or transfer to the University of Alaska. I am leaning toward the latter.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Job!

Also, I forgot to mention that I finally found a job! I was hired on with Waynesville school district last week as a substitute teacher. So that is a blessing...hopefully I will soon be making a little bit of money and staying occupied so that I'm not driving Dan insane (imagine me not being able to sit still?).
I am also taking the Miller Analogies Test aka the MAT on Friday...this will determine if I am fully admitted into the graduate program that I've already begun! Cross your fingers -- I certainly am.

Our first two months at Fort Leonard Wood

Well we are approaching the end of our second month at Fort Leonard Wood. Things here have improved and I have started to adapt to my new environment. We experienced tornadoes the first week we arrived, then snow, then a few ice storms. Needless to say, I am excited for spring and the departure of permafrost!

Dan and I have both started masters classes. I pursuing a MA in Education and Dan in Engineering Management. It has turned out to be a blessing that this town is far slower paced and has offered us our educational opportunities.

We have been able to see quite a few people during our time here. We had dinner with some of Dan's career course buddies, his USMA classmate Karl and our friend Joe. There are a ton of Dan's workmates from Fort Lewis attending schools here at Fort Leonard Wood and we've been able to have Mac, Donahue, Cornwell and Braum over as well.



We are excited to have Sara and James (Dan's sister) out next week for their spring break. We've got some fun activities planned and a trip to St. Louis to visit the Arch, take a riverboat ride and eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. Plus another trip to Costco!! Woohoo!

Later in the month Chris, my brother and my Mom will visit.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Moving Continued

So, I am going to condense this story a wee-bit.
We were able to leave Tacoma on the scheduled day. However not the scheduled time of 10:00 AM. Dan had forgotten to sign out on leave the day prior so we had to stop at Fort Lewis and sign out. Conveniently, the Holiday Party for the 14th Engineers was at that very location. We grabbed some food, said goodbye yet again and headed out! It was 6:00 PM!
Thankfully, I-5 had re-opened, although HWY 101 through Washington State our desired route was still closed. We made it to Vancouver, WA and stopped for gas. This is the last town before you enter Oregon. Oregon has the law that you cannot pump your own gas and we wanted to see if we could boycott fueling up for the duration of that state. We stopped at a very cute resort called the Shamrock Lodgettes. It was voted as a top weekend get away by Sunset Magazine.
From there we traveled down the Pacific Coast Highway sight seeing at the Heceta Head Lighthouse and the Sea Lion caves. We were so excited to reach the California state line before the low-fuel light came on! We had succeed in our challenge. However, that was short lived, as we pulled into the gas in Northern California, we saw that the gas prices had shot up by nearly a dollar a gallon! Gulp!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Our Moving Adventure Part I

We are starting this blog with the hopes of keeping our friends and family up-to-date with our adventures. Dan and I spent the entire month of December moving from Tacoma, Washington to Waynesville, Missouri. It was quite the trip. In the end we came to the conclusion that even newly weds cannot survive in the car together for more than a month without crankiness infringing.

So here is the story of our travels:

Background: So one of the benefits of being in the army is getting to see the world, right? Dan spent three years with the 14th Engineers at Fort Lewis, Washington. It is an absolutely amazingly beautiful part of the country and provided much recreational entertainment. Three years is the typical amount of time people spend in any one particular duty station...so, it was time for us to keep pursuing career goals and move on. In order for Dan to keep progressing within the Army and take have a company command he needed to attend the Captain's Career Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. This course is 6-months long and can be done in accordance with a MS at Missouri University of Science and Technology taking an additional 6-months. Fort Leonard Wood is a training post a therefore does not meet the typical guidelines for assignment length. However it is considered a PCS, a permanent change of station, so we had to move all of our belongs across the country for 2008. One of the benefits of being in the Army is that they coordinate and foot the bill for moving. Although, they don't move personal vehicles...which is where our story begins.

December 2nd: Dan and I had seriously considered and pretty much decided to ship one of our vehicles to Missouri for the move. We were moving during December, had a laundry list of things we wanted to do and thought that it would be the most idyllic solution. However with 6 days left before our departure in the mid-afternoon of December 2nd Dan thought that it would be better to drive his F150 straight to Fort Leonard Wood from Tacoma, WA. What he failed to realize is that HE didn't have the option of doing this and only I had the flexibility to do so. Yippee Skippy!

Fort Leonard Wood (FLW) is 2125 miles away and takes about 31 hours to drive to.

That meant that Monday I would start driving and magically get to FLW by Wednesday miraculously find a place to store the truck until the beginning of January and make it back to Seattle by dinner. That wasn't going to happen! I agreed to drive the truck to Denver and store it at my parent's house. Then we could drive in separate vehicles from Denver to FLW after Christmas. This was the plan.

We spent most of the night packing to items that movers with not move, getting the truck weighed empty and full. The Army doesn't pay for fuel expenses to move privately owned vehicles but with pay about $1.40 per pound moved. So, we carefully figured out how much weight we needed to break even and set this plan in motion.

December 3rd: Driving Day! Before I could leave WA for CO we had to attend a going away luncheon at noon. From there I would drive down I-5 through Olympia to Portland across Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and into Colorado. This route adds a few miles but cuts out a big mountain pass in Washington State that can be hazardous which was closed that day due to an avalanche.
We were behind schedule...it was raining...we missed the lunch. I started driving. I went about 30 miles and came to a stop on I-5. Major flooding! Major, MAJOR flooding. 20+ miles of highway was under more than 10 feet of water. I was stuck there for nearly 4 hours before I could go 1 mile and turn around to head back home.

So, that night we reevaluated. It looked as though we'd have to not only drive two cars on our "fun" road trip but we'd also have to delay our trip all together because the flooding was so severe that they highway was not scheduled to re-open for several days.

December 4th & 5th: I woke up a decided to check the possibility of taking Snoqualmie pass. Luckily they had worked all night to clear the avalanche (since it was the only route from Seattle to Portland that was even remotely passable). I decided that I would try it! Drive straight through to Denver...I changed to my flight from Denver to Seattle to a later time on Wednesday. The entire time line was incredibly dependent of weather. (March of 2007 I was stuck in Wyoming for 3 days because I-80 was closed due to blizzard conditions). However, I did it...
I made it to Denver drove straight to the airport where I met my mother and sister. Mom jumped in the truck, dropped me off, I checked in with 5 minutes to spare before the cut-off. I made it back to Seattle in time for a very important dinner date.

December 6th & 7th: This was moving day! The movers arrived just after 9 AM and after some complaining about how we had too much junk and they were understaffed they began working. It is a great privilege to have the Army move you from one location to the next. However, you will find that the government has contracts with hundreds of moving companies and not all are to the caliber you would require or that the military requires. We were stuck with a company that should have their contract revoked. They ate our food then wrapped up half consumed items and trash and packed them in moving boxes. They forgot about a closet and refused to pack it because was a Friday and pay day and that I should either move it myself or throw it away. They even sprayed grease (lots of it) through out the entire living room as they moved our grill. On the inventory sheets they marked all of our "new" furniture as extremely damaged and soiled. However, anything that they didn't pack they offered to take home themselves.