Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Epic Eighth Anniversary Trip!

Disclaimer:  This is a long post with a lot of pretty amazing pictures.  Prepare to spend some time!

I can hardly believe it has been 8 years ago when I convinced my beloved to "just get married!"  We semi-eloped to a friend's place who had the most beautiful grounds, and asked our closest family to join us while we said our vows and pledged each to the other.  It was the most special day!
Little did I know what was ahead!

For the traditionalists, we did go through the formal ceremony in July when we had set a formal date.  It was also beautiful, but in retrospect, the first was the all we needed (though it was fun to wear a fancy dress!).

Every year, we try to celebrate our anniversary by doing something fun and usually outdoors.  This year was a take 2 on getting a storage barrel to our bear camp up in the mountains and to do a spring black bear hunt.  We had tried the week before but kept loosing our trail in the snow and getting our feet snowed in.  We had high hopes that the snow would be much less.  It was, for a while.  We trudged our way through drifts of snow, winding back and forth to and from the trail.  I can't adequately describe how fabulous this was.  *Sarcasm!*  Then we hit this:
Fortunately, my loving husband chose this moment to suggest we bail.  I had been trying to think positively while tromping through muck, mud, & snow while tripping and sometimes falling through the snow and over hidden branches into running water below.  Finally, I was just trying to be quiet.  "If you don't have something nice to say..."  Yeah, I was not going to be saying anything nice!  My husband became my hero when he said we should just quit.  Then he really pulled out the stops when he produced a tiny bottle of wine to drink with our cheese!  It was very fun!  Suddenly, I had no problem thinking positively!

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, he suggested we go down and head to Seward to take a Kenai Fjord tour!  This is something I have been asking to do for years but the interest just hadn't waxed as much for Pat.  I was so excited and I think he was too!  We promptly finished our lunch and made our way to Seward.  We had no bedding and were wearing matching camo clothing, so I suggested we try a thrift store to remedy both situations.  We found a lovely comforter and pillows with bed mats for cushions, and I did find a nice sweater to add to the old pair of jeans I had in the car.  Crisis averted!  Since I had "new" duds, we also hit the town and saw a movie!  It was quite possibly the most interesting movie theatre I've ever been in.  It had fascinating decor, and  I was a bit in awe of the Christmas lights around the curtained screen.  I wish I would have had my camera as it was somewhat indescribably, well, quaint!  We had a rather cool night camping in the car (we did use the automatic start to warm it up a time or two!), and made it to our dock at the appointed time.  I was very excited!  Pat looked a tiny bit tired, but he was excited, too!
From our second deck window seat, we had a great vantage point to see the first of many wildlife sightings.  The first was the Sea Otter.  There were many who were just reclining in the midday sun.  
Then came the Dall Porpoise.  We called them the Killer Dolphins.  They have coloring like the Killer Whale but are porpoise and like to play in the boat's wake.  They chased us a couple of times, but we remained safe!

(O.K., this wasn't my photo, but I thought I should show you what was splashing in the photo previous to this!)
We did come upon a couple pods of Orca's, the Killer Whale.  There were several young and female with one larger male.  It was quite obvious to tell the difference!  I kept waiting for our deckhands to lean over the deck with a fish hanging from their teeth, but I suppose these guys haven't learned those tricks just yet.  It was pretty spectacular to see them for "real!"

We were having a ball running back and forth from our cozy table inside to the upper deck to see more.  It was a little breezy up there, and the wind made it a bit chilly, so we chose not to stay outside for too long of intervals.  
We were approaching this glacier, Holgate Glacier to be precise, and this other tour boat was ahead of us.  I thought it was good to give perspective!  We followed suit and slowly advanced on the slightly calving wall of packed snow/ice.  I had never heard the calving before, and it was truly thunderous.  We only saw smaller pieces fall and it was booming, so I can only imagine what a huge chunk would sound like.  

True to form, Pat was on the lookout for bears and found 4 black bears crawling around near the glacier.  We also saw many mountain goats with cute little babies, but the real draw for Pat were the bears.  He is, at this moment (in the photo and in present tense), planning his next bear hunt, since this one proved to be a bit different!
The Orca's abound!  This is one of the male leaders of one of the pods.  They were fascinating.
The whales are what I was most excited to see, since we've seen all the other animals before.  After seeing all the Killer Whales, we began to have sightings of Humpback Whales!  They were either solitary or in a pair, and it was extraordinary to see them!  The captain of the boat would get as close as we safely could, then turn off the main engine to achieve as much quiet as possible.   You could hear them blow out as they surfaced and then slid back down.  Everyone on the boat would gasp with excitement with each fluke.  It was amazing!

Spectacular!  I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Sunday, worshiping in creation!
We did come back pretty tired.  It seems that even our dogs were exhausted and we all just crashed with pleasant, peaceful rest!  That was truly the best bear hunt on which I've ever been, and one of the most memorable anniversaries yet!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hello? Hello? Can you hear me now?

This spring, we removed a large tree stump from between our house and garage.  It was no small feat.  In fact, it took a friend's backhoe (yes, we have a friend with his own backhoe) to dig out the surrounding soil, frost included, loosen up the roots with an ax, and then pull it out.  It took hours.  We then had a ton of backfill to do with the pit-run we had delivered earlier.  We had used this pit-run to create a positive drainage situation from our driveway to the backyard, without nearing the house or garage.  To say the least, there was a lot of pit-run.  In case you are not aware, pit-run is a "dirty sand" mixture used to form a base of buildings, driveways, etc.  It's heavy.  It settles.  It worked very well for our purposes.

Well, come to a couple days ago when I got home to find our phone not working.  It said on the receiver, "no line."  Strangely enough, my internet still worked.  Until the next day.

I called the phone company and they suggested I test the line from the exterior box and that they'd put a request in to repair it in a couple of days.  Super.  They did forward my line to my cell phone so I wouldn't miss any calls, which was nice.  

I came home from work and pulled out the princess phone; you know, the one with the "lanyard!"  I took it under the deck and opened the box and plugged the phone line into it.  Nothing.  Well, it looked like they'd be paying for the repairs, right?  Nope.  My handyman hubby came home and realized that our pit-run had pulled the main line out of the box as it settled.  Dang.  It was our fault.  The weight of our solution to our water issue had created a new disconnection.  

I hate it when that happens in my "real" life.  

I have felt so disconnected lately.  My husband can hardly believe that since I am so tied to my computer and phone.  It's not the same, though.  You know.  I wish I had been watching my "phone line" while setting up my solution for my "drainage problem."  Yeah, that's vague.  Sorry.  I'll clarify.  I have a great need to be connected to my family.  I love them tremendously.  They are incredibly valuable to me.  All of them.  I have not been able to spend time with them for a year and 3 months.  I was so set on solving the "problem" of when to come to help my sister with their travel needs to Africa that I pulled the plug on my connection.  This is all my doing.  I don't remember praying about or seeking a way to keep that connection solid, because my focus was on the other.  There's nothing detrimental about it, fortunately.  Just like our phone connection, it can be reconnected and resumed.  I'm just waiting for that to happen!  My connection is vital for me, not because I put them above my husband or that I don't rely on Jesus to meet my needs, but it's because I love them and I want to be a part of their lives.  I miss all the little things, and it's not the same to have to celebrate/grieve/live through big events through the airwaves.  I'm looking forward to the day I walk down the aisle at the airport to see familiar faces, some growing up, and I can feel a bit more connected.

In the meantime, I have been in this holding pattern waiting for our house to sell in order to see what God is going to have us do!  I was shown through our study of Experiencing God, that I need not wait.  He is working right now around me and all I have to do is join Him.  What am I waiting for?  Again I'm focusing on the weighty solution for one issue and it's disconnected me from the most important relationship.  This is a disconnect that can be immediately remedied!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lucky Number 13!

Oh how I wish I could show you all a picture of my new nephew!

My sister got her referral on Tuesday and I have been just enthralled ever since.

That day was interesting, as I had accidentally left my phone in the house as I drove away.  I realized it shortly after I left my driveway and after a split second thought of "What if today is the day?" I rushed back to get it.  I am so glad I did!  I don't remember exactly what time it was, but my day at work hadn't gone too far when my phone began to vibrate.  With my very dirty hands (I was transplanting flowers), I fumbled to pull my phone out of my pocket and see who was calling me.  I was already a bit excited thinking it may be my sister, but when I saw that it was, I just about jumped out of my skin trying to remain calm as I answered, "Hello?"  It was her and she said it was IT!!!!  I immediately began to bawl and ran outside where I could be alone in my jubilant tears!  Plus I wanted to run around and jump and scream!  After hearing the few details, I tried to go back to work, all the while telling everyone I could about it.

As much as I'd like to pity myself for not getting to share in person this fabulous moment, I can't!  My joy is overflowing and I am so happy, it doesn't matter where I am!  I love that I live in the days of technology and can share moments over a phone and computer!  So is my husband, or I'd have never left the "midlands!"  I now wait with gargantuan amounts of anticipation for the day I can go to Kansas and bawl all over again when I see my sister and we can send them out to pick up their son!  I will likely bawl when they get home and we embrace (figuratively if not literally!) the little guy into our family.  O.K., we already love him to death, just like the previous N&N's!  I'm so excited!  Can you tell?  I will have the joy to meet two new nephews on that trip!  Remember my brother's little guy?  He looks like he's ready for some Aunt Meli time, too!

Well, I just wanted to share my joy wave for this week!  I can't wait to share pictures and all that sort of thing, but if you weren't aware, that is not allowed until the process is officially complete and he is theirs.  I knew you'd understand!  Whew, 13 N&N's!  Love it!