Eielson Air Force Base and the Surrounding Area

I have decided that Eielson Air Force Base is the bomb (I can’t believe I just used that terminology – but so it is).

The gym (or field house) alone makes it worth being stationed here. It is big. Really big. There is an INDOOR soccer stadium the size of a football field and a full-size basketball court. Along the sides of the soccer stadium are rooms with glass windows full of work-out equipment; the basketball court has a few bikes and eliptical machines lined up on one side. Thus I can take the kids with me and exercise while they play – and it is highly encouraged (I guess they do all they can at this base to keep the suicide rates down low in the winter time).
There is a large indoor pool that is open year-round that is free for military families. The community center has a large indoor play area (kind of like a super-sized McDonald’s play land).
The commissary is a bit pathetic but there is an army base (Ft. Wainwright) about 25 minutes away with a fabulous commissary that is worth traveling to two or three times a month. With Alaska prices on food I will be taking the time to travel north to the army base when I need to do some major grocery shopping.
Some of the items that seem to cost the most around here are: gas (currently about $3.79 per gallon), milk, meat and produce. Off base everything is quite a bit more expensive (at least in grocery stores) – restaurants seem to be about the same. Fairbanks does not have any sales tax. There are no malls or department stores for a couple hundred miles (gotta go to Anchorage). The main shopping places withing a thirty minute drive are Fred Meyer, Wal-mart, Safeway, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sportsman’s Warehouse (Peter’s happy about this), and well, that’s about it. Fast food restaurants are aplenty but larger chain ones are few.
The city of Fairbanks seems to be close to the size of Price, UT. It ain’t big at all – only about 35,000 people. Once you drive around it once or twice you can find your way around and through it with no problemo.
The city just to the north of us is North Pole. It is between Eielson Air Force Base and the Ft. Wainwright/Fairbanks area. This is where our ward chapel is. This city includes city streets such as St. Nicholas Drive, Santa Claus Lane, etc… The light poles on Santa Claus lane look like candy canes. There is an RV park called Santaland and a few other local businesses with Christmas names or themes. You can go to Santa’s “house” and sit on his lap at any time of the year.
People around here wear what they want whenever they want. Tidy hair and new clean clothes are not mandatory to fit in around here. Camping and hunting wear are the norm with the locals. Almost every truck (and believe me folks, there are tons of them) have a dog sitting in the front seat. And they aren’t little dogs either.
The radio stations are awesome. I found a “country” station that plays the most random songs – not just the 20-40 most popular current songs, but many oldies and other less-known country songs. Sometimes the stations plays songs that aren’t country. I love it!
There is a huge anti-establishment culture in the area. Almost every truck, trailer, and RV has bumper stickers railing on government and the current administration. Also are MANY funny ones about guns, trucks, snow, moose poop, etc…
After all is said and done, I think we’re going to like it here.

School

While I was in Utah I found out that it is possible for me to finish a Bachelors degree online through Utah State University. Peter and I took a day and traveled up to Logan to meet with a counselor. In just two and a half years (taking two classes at a time) I will be able to finish a Liberal Arts degree. This is one of those degrees for people who don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.

What this degree helps me with is simply finishing a degree so that later on if I want to do a Masters then all I have to do is take some pre-requisite classes before beginning graduate coursework instead of having to worry about finishing (or even starting from scratch) my bachelors.
These next couple of years are going to be a little busy between homeschooling during the day and studying at night but thankfully Peter’s new job seems to be a good one with fairly regular hours (except during the summer – but I won’t be doing classes then).
A frustrating aspect about finishing via distance education is that I will be simply taking classes that are offered each semester that will help me plug in the holes for the requirements I need to graduate. I won’t necessarily be taking classes that are of the highest interest to me. But I believe it’s important to try new things and keep learning – I have found that sometimes a brief introduction to a new subject sometimes reveals a hidden interest.

Home

Today we found out that we will be moving into our house this Friday (July 2nd)! Yeah! And even better than that is Peter has that day off since it is right before the July 4th weekend so it doesn’t even mess up his work schedule.

The annoying thing is that we have to move all of our crap to a new hotel room on Wednesday and then haul of that crap plus more to the new house on Friday. I think right now would be a good time to count my blessings…
I will send out an email soon with our local phone number and address soon.
The top floor of the house includes three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The first floor includes a family room, a living room, kitchen. half bathroom, and dining room. And BONUS – the BASEMENT!!! – with enough space for the treadmill, my sewing table, Peter’s tools and all of our other misc stuff. It also includes a two car garage which will certainly be nice during the winter here in Alaska; both of our vehicles will be able to get out of the elements and not completely freeze at night.
Tomorrow I am going to sign the kids up for swimming lessons. I am also trying to hunt down a good piano teacher – there are not many to be found in “The Last Frontier” (at least not all the way up here in the Fairbanks area – most everything in this state happens down in Anchorage). I emailed a piano teacher at the local university and he emailed back a list of his students that teach in the area. The university does not have a program for young children. If this doesn’t pan out then I will continue to teach them while we live here.

We Have Arrived

We arrived at our destination in Alaska on Monday, June 21st; the longest day of the year and the most difficult to find a hotel in the Fairbanks area. June 22nd was our planned date of arrival and we already had arrangements in temporary base housing so Monday night we ended up staying in the family camping area on base. There was no room at any inn for miles due to midnight baseball games and marathons (summer solstice is a big thing out here since it stays light practically all night).

So far we have thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful scenery; pine and maple trees making Peter and I feel as if we are at home in the Uintah Mountains. We have yet to see a moose but from what we understand it shouldn’t take long…

There is a house waiting for us and we were able to go and look at it last Tuesday. Housing thought it would be ready for us but it had been empty for almost three months and somewhere in that time a squirrel got in the house and caused some havoc before dying behind the refrigerator. Gross. They said it would take a couple of days to clean up (translation: many days) and get it ready for us to move in. Granted, this is the moving season and the maintenance crew is taking care of getting many houses ready right now so we must just be patient and wait our turn to move in.

The drive from Florida was long. There is no other way to put it. I hope to never have to do that again. But I know better… We did take a few pictures along the way. I will try to post some later when life is normal again. The frustrating thing about driving along the Alaska Highway was that when the scenery was the most stunning I had to pay attention to the road more carefully because it usually meant we were riding along the edge of a river or cliff. There were sections of terrible pot holes and loose gravel. My poor mini-van was covered in dust and bug guts by the end of it but we arrived safely with no car problems.

Driving along the higway in Alberta and British Columbia, Cananda, my wind shield had a constant barrage of insects; but not just any insects – beautiful butterflies! Usually when a bug hits the wind shield I would reply in my mind “good riddance” but it was heart wrenching watching all of these striking yellow and black butterflies’ guts splash against the glass. Oh well, such is life.

Well, today is my birthday (31 years old) and we are getting out of this rotten little one-bedroom teeny-tiny hotel room to enjoy some scenery.