Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A little adjustment to the Comments

I've now had three people tell me they're having trouble commenting on Jim's Wild Ride with the security measures in place that help me weed out any spam messages that come along. I'm (at least temporarily) doing away with the extra steps those security measures add to the process of commenting, and we'll see how that goes. I may put them back later, but for now, it should be easier. Let me know, okay? Maybe in the comments?  ;^) 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"What are you making?"

I'm repeatedly reminded of a story I heard when I was still in my teens, a story told by a traveling pastor who was guest speaker at my church. He said that when he was a small boy, he liked to go to visit his grandma's house. His grandma liked to embroider and cross stitch, and he would sit at her feet and play with his toys while she worked.

Sometimes he would look up at the back of her fabric, where the colors of threads passed over and under one another, and the thread tails would hang down in a tangled, jumbled mess. And he would say, "Grandma, what are you making?"

Then his grandma would turn the work around so that he could see it from the right side, and it would be a beautiful picture, colorful and pleasant. He said sometimes we wonder what God is making, when we see what appears to be a tangled jumble, but that's because we're not seeing it from the right side, the finished side. God is working a beautiful picture in our lives even when we can't see it yet.


The carpet stretcher man came today to repair the carpet in our classroom upstairs. Now, this is a very large room, almost the size of two bedrooms together, and when we no longer needed it for school, it became The Room For Homeless Stuff. If we didn't know what to do with something, that's where it went. And I'm such a packrat. Needless to say, even with literally days of sorting and packing under my belt in that room alone, it was still crammed full as of this afternoon, when the carpet man said it aaaaaalllllllllll had to go out.

Now, the entire upstairs - seriously, the whole thing - looks like the classroom threw up on it. 

I refuse to put these, um, priceless items back in the classroom, so I'm going to sort them where they lay. But I am looking at the tangled, jumbled mess and having a complete and tearful meltdown. I want to ask God what He's making sometimes, but I have to trust that the picture will be beautiful when He finishes with it and lets me see it from the right side.

Losing a battle to win the war...

If you're like me, when you consider moving into a new house, one of the first things you try to figure out is where the Christmas tree will go. I love Christmas. I'd leave my Christmas decorations up four or five months if I could get away with it, which I can't, because Jim and James think, for some reason, that Christmas decorations shouldn't go up before Thanksgiving and should come down before Valentine's Day. Sheesh. So restrictive.

For the last 10 or 11 years, we've been using an awesome Barcana artificial tree that is every bit of nine feet tall. Just gorgeous. Our last two houses have had raised ceilings, and the tall tree looked really good in those houses. Being the Christmas freak that I am, I've also had as many as seven fully-decorated trees of smaller sizes scattered around this house, but I donated all but two (I think) of those extra trees to the thrift store when I was paring down Christmas decorations for the move.

So, okay, here's the problem:  There's only one place in the new Alaska house with a tall enough ceiling to accommodate my lovely gigantic tree - the dining room. That's also the only place Jim's dream wood-burning stove can go. Hm. Dilemma. 

Since we're also trying to cut down the amount of weight we have to ship with the movers, and since the big tree is a heavy sucker, we've decided that my nice Barcana is not making the trip to Alaska. In exchange, I've decided to hit the Fred Meyer store hard as soon as the Christmas stuff goes on sale and go back to blanketing the house in smaller 4' or 6' trees.

Heh heh heh.

You're welcome to come visit us around Christmas time, but be prepared to have to sidle down the hallways and squeeze sideways through the rooms, because I'm thinking it may take, oh, maybe eight or nine trees to make up for the loss of the big one. 

My plot to populate the world with Christmas bling has taken a step forward. Mwahahaha.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

FAQs get answered!

I often like to say that moving to Alaska is like moving to another country, but one where they speak the same language and use the same currency. I'm not sure how much more different Alaska and Texas could be in some ways, but the differences with this area of Texas and our part of Alaska aren't really as dramatic as frequent watchers of the Discovery Channel might believe. Yes, parts of Alaska really are very wild and really do try to kill you, but rest assured, we're not going there!

Maybe this will help answer some of the questions that you might not feel comfortable asking - although believe me, other people have asked them! LOL

Do you have to live in an igloo?
No. In fact, the closest thing to an igloo I've seen in our area is a yurt, and they're really not all that similar. We get to live in a regular house just like you do.

Is it really dark around the clock all winter?
Not where we're going. The pictures below were taken in the middle of December. They show the road on our property. We will have about five and a half hours of daylight in December, with an extended period of twilight.

Is there bright light all day in the summer?
It seems like it! But no, the longest summer day for us will be just under nineteen and a half hours. It's no wonder that Alaskans get a lot of gardening done during their growing season!

How much snow do you get in the winter?
I'm still looking for an average annual snowfall, so I can't tell you that right now. When Jim went to visit the Plan B house in March, he said about 5" of snow fell during his three-day visit, and there was three feet of snow in some places.

How cold is it? Or how warm does it get?
Summers can reach into the lower- to mid-70s, and the winters can dip into the negative 30s for brief periods. Click here to read more about weather in different parts of Alaska.

How big a problem are moose and bears?
We are going to a relatively urban area, so the bears won't be the problem that they might be in more remote areas - but they're still nearby and do need to be watched out for. Moose strikes are common and drivers need to be careful not to hit the huge animals on the roadways. Moose are really very large animals (they're not cow sized, they're much, much larger) and they can do a lot of damage or even cause death if you hit one with your car or are attacked by one.

How big is Nikiski? How big is the nearest larger town?
Nikiski has a very small population of around 4,400. The next town over, Kenai, is considerably more populated with 6,700 people. Anchorage, by contrast, has 281,000 people. For Texas readers, you can compare Nikiski's population to that of Murphy, Texas, where South Fork Ranch is located. The people are packed fairly close together in Texas, whereas in Alaska, there is quite a lot of room to spread out, so that's what people do.

Will you say hi to Sarah Palin for me?
No, sorry, Sarah Palin is nowhere near us. She's most likely to be in Juneau (over 1000 miles away) or Wasilla (200 miles away). And we don't have much of a burning desire to go look her up.  :^)

If you still have questions, feel free to ask them. We're getting used to it by now!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"I'm beautiful inside!"

I admit it that yesterday I didn't care to see the For Sale sign in the front yard, so I didn't look at it until I left the house to run errands this morning.

In the place where (hopefully soon) the SOLD sign will go, there is a placeholder sign that reads "I'm beautiful inside!" Underneath it is the normal real estate sign with a smiling photo of our realtor. At first glance, it struck me as the realtor proclaiming himself to be a beautiful person, regardless of how he looks on the surface.

Which is pretty cool, actually. Especially in the stress of the upcoming weeks, I'm going to use that as a reminder to stop and inventory the things that are right about me, and right about my family, and right about my friends. 

Because YOU're beautiful inside, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

There's a sign in the yard...

Well, that's that. The realtor has been here and our current house is now on the market. The MLS listing goes "live" on Friday night, and then I'm sure there will be a parade of lookie-lous in and out of here. I'm not looking forward to the Saturday morning tire-kickers coming through, but in this economy, I have to accept just about any appointment that comes our way. Maybe we'll be very blessed and the first few people through will yield an offer.

I can hope, can't I?

I spent the last two days cleaning like a crazy woman. I don't mind admitting that I'm completely exhausted. I've scraped, shoveled, dusted and decluttered until my eyes are crossing, but we did get some very nice photos of the main rooms for the MLS. Now we just have to keep it this clean, and not only that, but finish cleaning the rest of the rooms that haven't gotten the whole treatment yet.

A house for sale needs to be "staged" to show it off best. It needs to have enough homey touches that a potential buyer understands the purpose of the spaces and feels comfortable in them. But you shouldn't have a lot of personal items around. You want the potential buyer to imagine *their* stuff in the space, not look at yours. I completely understand that.

And yet, I can't quite get past the thought that the house looks so... sterile. Many of the things that make me smile are headed for boxes, not to be seen again for three months at best. So, I've got to get creative, and make my smile objects look unobtrusive enough so that I can leave them out.

They can be our sneaky little secret, okay? Okay.

Monday, April 20, 2009


No, it's not Talk Like A Pirate Day, it's just some frustration at all that has to be done before Wednesday.

What's so special about Wednesday, you ask?

Wednesday is the day our current house goes up for sale.

Jim and I have been packing boxes and taking them to the storage unit to make room here in the house, and also to start recording the weights of the boxes in case we go with a shipper who charges by the pound. But there's also the cleaning and sprucing up of the house to make it appealing to potential buyers, and that's a LOT of work. We live here, so we have things the way we like them, not the way that a stranger would necessarily think is the best way to use the space in the house. So, no more recliner in the breakfast nook (pout, pout) and the dining room table is going to have to look like a dining room table, instead of a place for me to work on cake. Right now, getting photos ready for the MLS listing will probably mean moving stacks of boxes, etc. from one room to another so that we can photograph the rooms while they're relatively empty, and then put stuff back again.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

The history lesson is over now

Well, I think I've caught everyone up on the events leading up to our move and our change of plans regarding the houses. From now on, the posts will be "real time," so to speak. But that doesn't mean our excitement is over by any means. We're packing boxes every day, have a date set to put our current house on the market, and are trying to plan a family trip to see the new house when it's time to close the sale on it in May.

I'll keep you posted!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy birthday, Jim!

With a list of houses to look at, Jim booked a flight to Alaska. I couldn't go because I had work. So, Jim booked a ticket for one, and then waited to see if Mount Redoubt would allow him in. Stupid volcano. Right up until he left, the airlines were canceling and reinstating flights around the volcano's erratic ashy burps. We even had a little scare at the airport when the person in front of us in line was told his flight was canceled, but it turned out he was flying right over the volcano in the direction that the wind was blowing most of the ash, and Jim's flight was still (at the moment) scheduled to take off.

Once he got to Anchorage, however, the waiting began. He boarded the puddle jumper flight to Kenai but the plane turned back to Anchorage within sight of the Kenai airport, due to the ash cloud. Frustrated with the delay, Jim rented a car and rounded up as many other airport strays as he could fit into it, and they all drove to Kenai. [shaking head] The airport is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get. Fortunately, Jim picked up decent and helpful strays who were happy to share their stories about coming to Alaska, and how to cope with the changes involved in moving there.

However, the delay with the flights caused Jim to miss his appointment to see the Plan B house, so our realtor had to reschedule that. Jim looked at several other houses when he was in town, and they all had problems. Problems ranging from too big a house built on too flimsy a foundation, to walls too thin to efficiently heat during the winters. One homeowner said their house was messy and wouldn't let Jim view it, even though he would be out of town later on. They still said no. Evidently they weren't in a hurry to sell that one!

Jim called home after he'd seen the Plan B house. He said it was older than it looked in the pictures, but cuter than it looked in the pictures. None of the other houses could compare to it, though, and Jim and the realtors hacked out an agreement.

As of April 1 (no joke!) our offer on the Plan B house on Dossow Street in Nikiski has been accepted. YAY!!

Jim took a few photos of the house while he was there.

This is a cuter, snowier view of the back of the house than we had before:

This is the side of the house that you see when you drive down the road toward it:

This is the other side:

And this is from the dining area in the prow of the house looking towards the mud room at the front entry:

Click here to see where the house is located.

Since Jim was there over his birthday, it was a little sad for me and James left here at home without him.

Not at all sad for the Birthday Boy, though! Our neighbors on CharVic Lake kept Jim occupied all weekend, when he wasn't looking at houses. They took him on his first snow machine ride (do not say snowmobile when in Alaska) where he drove really fast, scraped up his shin when he crashed, and had the time of his life. Then they took him home and fed him prime rib. Thanks, Pete and Linda. Jim will never forget that birthday!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

They gots it, but I wants it.

We have a history of making decisions based on first impressions, and that works for us, because we know what we like and generally think things through carefully beforehand.  (Okay, so the Metropolitan wasn't really thought through, but it worked out in the end.) Even with our track record, though, we always shop around before plunking down a wad of money on anything.

But every other house we looked at had something lacking.

The one thing I wasn't willing to give up as we progressed to Plan B - buying a house rather than building our own - was a view. I can't see moving all the way away from a lovely view in Texas to no view in Alaska. Well, that narrowed our choices right there, let me tell ya. Most people with lovely views aren't willing to give them up, and I don't blame them. Yet still, we looked around. We asked our realtor to help us look. We did pick out a few other houses that could work, but we kept coming back to this one.

Then we started to notice some things about it... Things that seemed to show us that God's hand was in the delay of our building and in the finding of this already-standing house. I'll put it in chart form here, and for ease I'll refer to the houses as Dream house (the one we would like to build) and Plan B (the house in the listing).

Dream house: Timber frame, but we had considered logs
Plan B house: Logs, outfitted inside to look like timber frame

Dream house: four bedrooms, plus loft
Plan B house: four bedrooms, plus loft

Dream house: walk-out basement
Plan B house: walk-out basement

Dream house: one of the bedrooms separate downstairs for guests
Plan B house: one of the bedrooms separate downstairs for guests

Dream house: wood floors
Plan B house: wood floors (with some ghastly carpet in the basement)

Dream house: gorgeous view over CharVic Lake
Plan B house: gorgeous view over larger Wik Lake

Dream house: southern exposure
Plan B house: southern exposure

Dream house: kitchen in green (which is my favorite color)
Plan B house: master bedroom suite in green

Dream house: wrap-around balcony
Plan B house: roomy balcony on the back and full-length porch in front

Dream house: built-in commercial bakery downstairs
Plan B house: well, you can't win 'em all

The Plan B house is smaller than what we planned to build, but we knew all along that the Dream house was bigger than we needed. Plan B is only one mile from our property, and while it doesn't have a garage, we could build a garage on our land to keep the Metropolitan in, and maybe also the bakery. That structure would satisfy the requirements of the electric company. This house had been on the market for 10 months already, and the realtor said it had been marked down in price twice. 

Hm, could it have been waiting just for us?

This is the back of the house - what you would see looking at it from the shore. The current owner is the person on the balcony.

This is the front of the house.

A wintery view over Wik Lake from the balcony:

I'm a little baffled that someone felt the need to put a bar sink in the island so close to the regular sink. Speaking of sinks, I find the blue color of both of them a little entertaining. Not exactly lovely, but entertaining.

The loft in the Dream house would have been mine. So, naturally, I feel compelled to claim this one for myself. It's got the best view in the house, and [singsong voice here] built-in bookshelves!

I totally want this house. It seems so perfect. I'm trying not to get too excited about it around Jim, though, because if something goes wrong and we can't get this house, I don't want him to feel bad for me. I need this to be a positive experience for him, so I'm playing it cool. Sort of. But dude, that's MY loft.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

... But is another door opening?

I love it when James has his Irish musician friends over for a home practice session. We never know exactly who's going to show up, so I may meet someone new, or I may just get to update myself on how the regulars are doing. Not that I see them often myself, but the mom in me likes to count noses and see that everybody's okay. I know, I'm weird. Plus I get to cook and plan food. Somewhere in my ancestry, there must be a Jewish grandma, because the urge to put out a lot of food sometimes gets the better of me.

Once I see that people are settled in and know where the food and beverages are, Jim and I go out of the way and let the musicians do their thang. I happened to walk past Jim's office, where I noticed he was looking at the Alaska MLS listings online. I admit the first thing that popped into my less-than-charitable (at that moment) thoughts was: "He's doing it AGAIN." Even while planning our dream house and going forward with plans for it, Jim enjoyed looking at the homes for sale, seeing what was available and what we could never hope to afford and where the good views were. Seeing that our house was slipping away from us, I was a wee bitty bit irked that he was "shopping" again.

But this is the house that he had on the screen at that moment:

Now, I know not everyone does, but I believe in love at first sight. Been there, done that, married him. I didn't fall in immediate love with this house, but the unmistakable pull towards it was there before I even got a good look at it.

What on earth is happening?

The door slams shut...

It's funny, not really but sort of, how things work out sometimes.

I finally started to let go of some of the unease I had about making the move from Texas to Alaska and was beginning to see the changes in attitude that I'd been praying for.

And then it looked like it was all going to be for nothing.

Not only could we not get on the contractors' schedules for 2009, we were running into problems everywhere. You know how in the action movies, there is a blast door closing before the hero can get to it, and he's about to be caught on the wrong side of the door with the Scary Thing he's trying to get away from, but at the very last second he squeezes through the crack just as the door clangs down?

That was SO not us.

Okay, let's review...

We can get the basement dug, but we can't get a contractor this year to put the decking on. That means no floors, which in turn means no house. If we put the exterior walls up it would just be a silo.

Conflicting reports from the electric company have us confused as to what exactly we need to do to satisfy their requirements to avoid a huge surcharge for putting in the line to our property.

The timber frame builder could get the frame done, but without the decking, what's the point?

And probably the final straw in the process is trying to sell the house we're in. It's a lovely house with a golf course and lake view, but in this economy, well, we're going to lose our shirts on it. We had originally planned to be able to sell our Texas house for pretty close to what we paid for it, and thereby build the Alaska house without having to shell out much money. But as we all know, things changed in the last year, and our Texas realtor told us to expect to lose in the neighborhood of $100,000 on this house. Now we can't afford to finish out the new house if we wanted to. The best we could hope for is to get the shell of the house up next year, and live in it unfinished until such time as we could afford to put up interior walls.

We considered renting a house for a year, but there simply are no houses to rent there. In a fluid population like we have here in Dallas, that seemed very odd to us, but it's true. We looked. We asked our Alaska realtor to look. There's nothing. 

And so the blast door closed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why is this so hard?

We have everything all planned out...

We have house plans. We have the timber frame builder on retainer. We have a road excavated and graveled. We have a water well installed, and we have electricity to the property.

And then we start to hear the squealing of the brakes being applied to our momentum.

It's hard to build a house from 4,000 miles away, and we knew it would be, but we didn't know how hard it would actually get. We are very happy with the contractors we picked out, but getting ourselves onto their schedules became difficult, and coordinating them all together while doing everything through email or phone calls to a three-hour difference in time zones became its own little mini nightmare. And I was having serious misgivings about the move, period. Nothing I could really put my finger on, but enough to cause some arguments. I do sort of believe in "women's intuition" but that in itself isn't enough to call a halt to the plans we've worked toward for so many years.

Soon, we began to find out that we couldn't get ourselves onto the contractors' schedules for 2009 at all. 2010 would be the earliest we could hope to build the house. Disappointment began to set in as some hard decisions had to be made. Would we postpone the move another year, or fall back to a Plan B?

Jim and James are the first to camp on our land

Jim managed to go a while without making a trip back to Alaska, but in 2008, he decided it had been long enough. He and James headed back up, just the two of them, with plans to camp on our land and do a little sight-seeing.

This is the view from one edge of our property looking towards the other edge. The water is so calm, and the trees are so pretty in the reflection. 

Here's James, working on the camp site. All that Boy Scout training comes in handy in the real world sometimes.

For example, when you want to light your camp fire:

The guys also went on a kayak trip on the Kenai Lake.

And they made the now-traditional hike up Round Mountain.  Here's James, at Lower Fuller Lake.

Also while in the area, they spent time with our neighbors and visited the Sea Life Center in Seward. There's always more to do than there's time to do it in.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Planning our dream house

Planning the new house to go on the CharVic Lake property (I forgot to tell you that's the name of our lake) was a lot of fun for Jim. I'm not really into that sort of thing myself, so I was just as happy to let him go to town on it. 

At first, we weren't sure if we would rather have a log house or a timber frame house. Eventually we decided on timber frame, because it's just so doggone pretty inside, and the exterior walls could be made of SIPs (structural insulated panels) to help reduce the heat loss and make construction go quickly. Jim found a floor plan that we liked well enough, but it needed some tweaking to get it just the way we wanted it. There is now a view over the lake from almost every room. On the ground floor, the kitchen opens onto a sunroom area, with the living room and dining room between it and the master suite. Upstairs would be James' room over the kitchen, a loft area for my crafting space, and Jim's office. Downstairs in the walk-out basement, on the west side, is a guest apartment. A common room is in the middle for maybe a pool table or a den or something, and to the east side would be the bakery. Yes, the bakery.  :^)  My husband spoils me.

Jim loves blueprints. It's crazy, but he does. I can barely read them and they could be inside out and upside down and I wouldn't know the difference. That's why Jim input all the data of the house into an architectural rendering program complete with animated walk-throughs of every room. I won't attach the interior renders here, but I will show you what the outside of the house would look like.

Below is the way the house would look as you drive up to it. Jim added a photo of the view over the lake behind the render of the house, and yes, from the interior renders, if you look out a window, you can see the lake. The house appears to be two story from the front, but because of the gentle slope of the land, we can have a walk-out basement.

This is the way the house would look from out on the lake, looking back toward the shore. The windows on the top floor are Jim's office. The windows on the middle floor are (from left to right) the sunroom and kitchen, the dining room and living room, and the master bedroom. The basement windows are (also from left to right) the guest apartment, the game room/den area, and the bakery window with its separate entry. Check out the wrap-around balcony. Niiiiiiice.

Now we just have to get the thing built..........

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection Sunday, 2009

"And they shall eat the flesh [of the lamb] in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
And thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and  ye shall eat it in haste.
And the people took their dough, before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon  their  shoulders."
Exodus 12:8, 11, 34

Our Easter feast has always been designed to remind us of various points in the tale of the Exodus and the Passover.  We eat lamb roasted on the grill, we eat spinach salad to remind us of the bitter herbs, and leeks to remind us of how the Israelites complained about missing the luxuries in Egypt.

This year, though, as Jim cleared the boxes out of the way so that we could eat at the dining room table instead of with our plates on our laps, he was reminded that there was one more similarity we could observe this year:  We could be reminded that the Israelites were freed from bondage quite suddenly and had been warned by God to have their bags packed and ready to go when the time came to leave Egypt.  

Our bags are being packed, too.

May we be open to God's leading on our journey as well.

Exploring more of the area...

In 2006, I made a trip up with both of the guys to see our land and do some exploring. On the morning of the day we met with the grading contractor, we took a hike up Round Mountain. The guys had already made this hike all the way to the top of the mountain on their scratch-and-burp trip in 2004. Time restraints kept us from getting all the way to the top, but we did hike a good ways.  Here, James and I point to the trailhead sign that describes the trail as "strenuous" and warns of bears.

Jim and James on the trail:

Our property is only about 15 minutes from the ocean at Cook Inlet. The beach is not pretty at all. There is no sand, and the beach is a mud flat that can trap you and you can drown in the tide, so for safety's sake, you can only walk where there are gravel and rocks. But ocean is ocean, and we're right near it, which is still pretty cool. We walked the trail at Captain Cook State Park there, which was very pretty and wooded. Right outside the park, we saw a small black bear, but it hurried into the woods before we could get our cameras out and take its picture. Here's me and James on a high rock on the beach:

As a little bit of proof that bears really ARE roaming around all over the place in Alaska, here are two of the ones the guys saw when they were fishing. Fortunately, the bears were far more interested in fattening themselves up than they were in any of the humans nearby.

It seems there's a limit on the number of photos I can put on each entry, so I'll have to add the next couple pics separately....

Exploring more of the area, Part 2

Also on this trip, we drove to Homer to meet with the timber frame house builder. He was building a house there and we could see the construction in progress. Homer is devastatingly gorgeous. We walked out on The Spit to the tourist shops before heading to our B&B there in town. The guys were planning an ocean kayak trip for the following morning, but fate intervened in the form of food poisoning, and they spent the next day erping. Ah, fun times. But it explains the lack of pictures from Homer.

This is the view from the house-in-progress that we visited there:

The photo below is Portage Glacier. It's on the way between Anchorage and Kenai, and often there are so many eagles fishing along the stretch of water that borders the road that seeing them becomes commonplace. Can you imagine? Seeing so many wild bald eagles in one place that you don't even bother pointing them out to each other? Unless you have a good telephoto lens on your camera, pictures of them sitting on rocks in the water aren't very interesting, so we didn't take many.

While in the Nikiski / Kenai area, we stayed in a B&B on Daniel's Lake. Jim and James availed themselves of the canoe and paddled the lake. 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Jim makes a big purchase

Everyone knows Jim has been to Alaska more times than James or I have been, and I've been there the fewest times. I'm a homebody and am usually more than happy to let Jim go places and bring me back photos.

The next time Jim went, it was in 2004, and he took James and Big Jim.  They hiked, camped and fished - a typical scratch-and-burp guy trip. Sometimes I'm glad I don't go along on their guy trips.  Okay, so I'm usually glad I don't go along on their guy trips....

Well, you remember I mentioned the four years I wanted to have in the new house in Texas before moving to Alaska, right?  The four years passed the year we had our 20th wedding anniversary in 2005. We decided this was the year to "go for it" - we each had things we wanted to do before we got much older, so we should go ahead and do them.  We may have wanted different things for our dreams, but each supported the other and without much further ado we had taken steps to put feet to the wishes.  I did the relatively sane thing and bought myself my dream car - my 1958 Nash Metropolitan. Which is a story in itself, but that's for some other day. Jim headed back to the Kenai Peninsula (alone for the first time), where he bought five acres on a small lake outside of Nikiski, Alaska.

From the middle of the property, from about where the house would be whenever we get around to building it, this is the view across the lake.  The area to the right of the picture is land set aside for wildlife, and the rest of the lake lots are already owned by as many people as will probably ever live on it.  Our nearest neighbors on the left are lovely people, and their grown son has the house next to  theirs. We have a southern exposure to take advantage of the most daylight. Southern exposures are very sought-after, and we're happy Jim found this place.
This is the view from our neighbors' land, looking at our own shoreline. 
This is a link to Google Maps that shows the location of our property.

Some people are surprised I'd let Jim go all the way across the continent and buy a piece of property that I'd never seen and expect me to go live there. Um, yeah. No one knows me better than he does. And he's a pretty level-headed guy. I trust him.

Perhaps I should back up a bit...

It occurs to me that not everyone is aware of how long this move has been in the works. The short answer is: a long time.

The first time Jim showed a marked interest was way back in 1993, when Reader's Digest published a story about a husband and wife who moved to Alaska and lived in a cabin for a year or so. It seems that ever since then, Alaska has been in the back of Jim's mind.

Our first trip to Alaska as a family was in 2001. We spent a week fishing in Soldotna, on the Kenai River.

Okay, actually, Jim and James fished. I don't like anything to do with fish or fishing or any of that slimy stuff, so I brought a yarn stash and knitting needles and spent a happy week in the quietness, watching the river go by.

This moose cow and her twin calves walked right through the yard!

It didn't take long for Jim to fall head-over-heels in love with the area, and before the trip was over, he was asking to move there permanently. I said okay, but first I wanted to live four years in the new house we were building. Turns out it took a lot longer than four years for us to get to the point of actually leaving Texas.

The moving actually began today....

The first boxes were sealed and left the house today.

Okay, so they didn't go far, only to the mini warehouse down the street. But as of this afternoon, as James loaded the boxes into the car, it occurred to me that we are moving out of our house in earnest, as of now. The process has begun in a real, tangible way.

We're moving to Alaska.