Tuesday, February 28, 2012
As we spent the money and Frank was going to be in the field, it made sense for us to stay in Tn with my mom until he is out of the field. So we are flying back to Alaska on March 29, arriving on the 30th.
My mom isnt working right now, she is in between jobs and this will be the first time she hasnt work since Nathalie was born! We get to spend the month with her, hanging out on her 18 acres of woods, sitting on her back deck and enjoying the great space of her 2800 sq ft house! In which the kids will sleep in the sewing room and I will sleep in the guest room and I wont hear them when they get up! I dont like to be away from Frank but he wont be here so it was good timing.
Living in an RV on a piece of property with all of our things (goats, chickens, shooting range, etc.) wouldnt be hard. It is kind of hard to live here without all of those things. It is hard to live in this small space without a lot to do. You can only go see so many movies, and play so many board games. We knit a lot, which is fun, but still... as he wont be here, I will be very happy to be in my moms home with her equipped sewing room, a huge wonderful kitchen that she will be MORE than happy to let me be in total control of... oh the cooking I will do!!!
Then we will return and close on our house 3 days later, and 4 days later GET OUR BAGGAGE!!! I miss my sewing stuff! Nathalie misses her toys. Frank misses shop stuff.
Mom will take great photos for me to put on the blog. I will see you later!
Sunday, February 26, 2012
My mom was married with 2 babies when she was 21, my dad, my biological dad got into some drug problems. They ended up divorcing. She remarried a couple of years later and had 4 more children, her husband was nice, I loved him. Then he got hooked on something drug-like, a man made religion. Their marriage went downhill with his new rules. They ended up divorced because she chose us over his rules.
When I was in highschool, she remarried again. She married a 58 year old man who was retired from the navy. He had 3 grown sons that he had raised himself. His name was Winston Wells, he married my mom with 5 children and he adopted us soon afterward. He raised us, the rest of the way with my mom.
He developed non-hodgens lymphoma when Nathalie was a tiny baby, he fought cancer and won but the chemo therapy badly damaged his heart. He has been going downhill slowly since then. He had massive heart surgery which helped some but there was no cure for the damage. He ended up on dialysis and developed diabetes. He began struggling with respiratory problems.
This morning he passed away in a hospital with one of his sons with him. He was tired and ready to be done. He leaves behind a legacy of children who benefited from his kindness and love, children that he didnt have to take on. Many grandchildren were cared for by him, including my children. He will be missed and I know that he is somewhere better.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I miss this sky. I think it is what I miss the most, I miss the wind but the sunsets and sunrises, and my friend Amanda are most missed. I was going through picture folders on my computer, getting rid of pictures that were not worth keeping and came across these. I took several pictures of the setting sun a few evenings before we pulled away from Ks. I do not really miss our house often, I guess I miss the house and land when we cannot find anywhere that we like to buy here. It was a nice place, a nice state. It is hard to move so much, I guess we move less than some military families but it is still hard.
We put a bid on a house here, but it was a low bid and it really made them angry. We didnt mean to, we just have a budget. the people responded with, we will give you a counter offer tomorrow but this was an insulting offer and we will not consider another. Our counter will be the only option. So...we will see. If their counter is within our budget, then we sign. If not, then we will tell them thanks anyway and keep looking.
Things are pretty high priced here. We find stuff that looks ok, but either its in a subdivision or its just really broken in some way that we cannot buy. We have to use VA or conventional loan, we do not have the cash to do owner finance. Many of the homes are not to code, so cannot be traditionally financed. If we buy one, we have to fix it in order to resell easily, but some cannot be fixed by us, or we cannot buy because they are asking too much. You have to have a pretty big down payment for owner finance.
For now we will keep praying and looking, I know that God will lead us right, in the meantime, I am homesick.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
This is RV life continued. There are things one comes to accept as a full time RVer. One thing is this, my life is way better than a hotel room life. Also though, if you have ever been in an RV park, you may have noticed that during daylight hours, many RVers leave their window shades up. You may see a lot of stuff lining the edge of that window. That is something we come to accept. Cabinets in RVs are often up high, I guess bc you are so close in to everything that tall people would bump their heads. That also means that the children and myself need a step stool for everything that is not on the lowest shelf of the lowest cabinet. So we line the window edges, along counter and table tops with things we will regularly need. Because we dont want to get the step stool out.
Next, the trashcan lives in a place that is in the way if I want towels, hot pads, potatoes or onions. I have accepted this, with patience I move the trashcan each time. I dont mind it anymore, but I would mind a trashcan in the middle of the floor to trip on. Which is what happens if my other 3 family members need a towel, hot pad, potato or onion.
We have accepted the laundry hanging about. We wear a lot of wool, some is washable/dryable but we have learned that wool works best for a long time washed only. We dont have handwashables save one wonderful sweater that mama bought for me. That would be too much work. So we wash, then hang. So wool long johns hanging from the edge of the counter where the dishes are drying, are not a big deal.
And now, extension cords. We blow a breaker if we use too many things on one, so if the plugs we need to use are all on the same breaker, we use short extension cords. I mean industrial orange/yellow cords. Not pretty, they string about. One of them often lives plugged INTO an open cabinet above my head, because that is the microwave plug and it has ITS OWN BREAKER!!! How fair is that? So we use it for a small electric heater. It works, and the color orange is nice.
And last is the books. We accept them as they lay about lazily all over our home. We accept this because we are glad for the library so we dont have 15 x more books spread about, and because we like that all of our family members are avid readers.
Thats not really last, just last on this list. I really dont mind the RV life, there are pros and cons as said before and one pro is the rent cost. We are looking at housing and seeing that our rent may do a whole lot of increasing. Rent is almost prohibitive living in a house that is decent, and a mortgage wouldnt be much better and then we have to sell that house when we move. Just like the one on the market in Ks. We do not want to rent as we love our space, our animals, some land or "dirt" as our realtor calls it. We want a shop, Frank needs a shop for my/his sanity. Tad needs space, Nathalie desperately wants her animals back.
basically we are praying, looking, hoping for the right house in our budget and whatever we find will be good. We know it will, it always has. The biggest question is budget. Just because you are qualified for it, doesnt mean you should spend it. Frank is in love with a home right now that is higher than I had hoped to spend, so I am leaving it with God and waiting for my sign.
Ok I will go take photos of something. My orange cords. Or the laundry room we use here. Or... maybe I can get a moose to stand still.
Friday, February 17, 2012
So tomorrow we look at a log cabin on 10 acres, its beautiful. Has a lot of woods, barn, woodshed, large heated shop, large house and a nice chicken coop. We will see how it turns out.
On another note, here are some pros to the RV park.
Our rent is 350$, electric about 100$ and our trash, water, sewer are all included. we buy our own propane and it costs around 10$ a wk in such a warm environment.
Laundry does cost, it is 80$ a mo for all of our laundry. That sounds like a lot of quarters right? I found from a family of 6 when using their dryer (vs clothes line) laundry costs around 100$. Wow sounds like a lot, use a line! She does... We did too in Ks. We will buy a front loader at our new home if one isnt there, and we will use a clothes line but in the meantime, 80$ isnt bad.
Next, this is very nice. I can do all 6 loads of laundry AT ONCE! We, or I, carry it all over literally a few truck lengths away to the laundry, then I sort/load and come home. 45 min later put it all in dryers, an hr later its done. That is less than 2 hrs to do all of our families laundry for a 12-15 day period.
We wait a long time because we have enough clothes and towels, and have 2 sets of sheets each. The loads cost the same, full or not.
I dont have the clean the showers. We use the RV showers because they are large, long and we dont have to empty the tank. As we cannot dump on site, we take advantage of that.
Another pro, my house is super easy to clean. There is so little space!
It is easy to do school in here, we are all so close together we just get started after breakfast, and get done pretty fast. In a big house with land, I lose my son sometimes during the school day.
My husband likes it here, though he misses the shop. My daughter loves it here because she likes small things. My son...well he misses the outdoor space a lot. We are working on that.
We have a long wkend starting today, we have things to do each day. Today we scouted properties, tomorrow we will go see them and go shopping at best buy for a mp3 player that Tad has saved up for, go to the commissary and then on sunday afternoon, we go see a sno-go race. Monday... I dont know. spend the day with the loan officer if need be-assuming we find a house we want to bid on.
I will get pictures later, I simply dont have anything to take a picture of at this time.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The first realtor we called said, I cant find anything under 200 thousand. Sorry. Oh ok well, um. We called a new one, she said, you are wasting my time. Oh uh... So we called the retired army guy in Anchorage. We were trying to talk to realtors in the outer areas (the mat-su valley) because we want to buy out here.
This realtor is a good guy, he found some stuff but it really wasnt good. Amanda discovered some glaring errors in one place, and on top of that I had bad feelings about it. I always get a good/bad feeling, and as I pray for God to lead me I always listen to those feelings.
Next we talked to the realtor's favored lender. Well, a certain bank but also a specific loan officer. We called her, she found out what we wanted and she told us about a repossessed home that we might consider. We will be seeing the inside tomorrow, today we drove past and it is exactly what we want, it may be a little high... waiting to see, there is no sure price yet as it is bank owned. I mean, they know but we dont know. It is a 5 acre llama farm, fully fenced and gated, largely wooded with a nice home and shop. It will be higher than we wanted we are sure, but we simply cannot find what we actually wanted in our price preference.
Today we bought an SUV, it is an Isuzu Rodeo. Small, 5 speed, 6 cylinder, 4 door. Will get better fuel economy than the big truck, and we really need 2 vehicles. The children will start gymnastics this friday/monday as we now have 2 vehicles. Tad will start guitar lessons, Nathalie says she likes the ideas of music but doesnt want to commit. Because she doesnt like to commit.
It would be nice if we can buy this place, it is closer to Frank's work than the other country spots we had found, and it is literally right off of the main road that runs past the library and the gym. Oh, and really close to the grocery store.
So here is hoping that this place is right, and affordable!
Friday, February 10, 2012
This is a post all about how we live in a space that is about 120 sq feet. We lived in 3800 sq ft in Ks, on 6 acres. We also had 4 vehicles. Now we have 1 vehicle, we live in an RV park and we have 120 sq ft of space. These photos look pretty messy, but this is just life. Living stuff, it has to be out. I could clean up and put everything away, and take pictures but I will just wait till we move next. Because then, I have to do that. In this picture, you can see our kitchen table and benches, the left bench holds sewing machines and herbs, the left one is school supplies, books and games. The door can be opened for daily need items for school, we keep them just inside. The benches are otherwise opened by removing the cushions. We use the 50 lb flour bucket for an extra seat at the table. Nathalie's loft ladder and the couch can be seen here too. The TV cabinet behind the ladder is now a food shelf, we dont have a TV. The ugly curtains are because they help when we move, things fall out less easily this way.
We put up thermal curtains with sewing pins everywhere, windows and doors. There is a padded cloth decoration over each window/door so it is easy to pin thermal fabric or curtains temporarily, and when it is very cold out we drop these, and they save on propane/elec heating costs, they make our home an avg of 15 deg warmer. They stay down at night. You can see my dish drying area, a flour bag nearly empty and, well, my entire kitchen. The step stool allows me to reach all of the neat storage areas in this RV.
Back room, this is a toy hauler RV so this room is a garage. It has a door and 2 windows, and the back folds down like a ramp-thus the muddy footprints. Tads bed is back here, and under his bed you can see the edges of boxes. He has 3 low boxes that slide in and they contain his clothing. Their toys are all back here too, and trash waiting to go out. Tad and Nathalie enter our home in this room because our boots are big. We use the front door. The back left corner here has a bean bag, a shop vac and some other junk that will move to our storage unit tonight. We rented one for all the extra stuff we carried, this way the kids get a room.
This is from the outside of my bedroom. There is a door that closes right here, so you have to open it to get to the shower on right, toilet room on left. Just past that is a heavy curtain we can pull across which means the sink is in our room. The kids open the door to go potty at night and wash hands at the kitchen sink so that we have some privacy.
View from our bedroom, above kitchen/LR area and into Nathalie's loft. It continues back on the left side. It is a queen size bed with the cabinet and then a large "shelf" where her red back pack is. The cabinets are for her clothes, her stuffed animals live up here with her. There is little room left after them! Her little travel toys and a few art things live in the backpack.
Again from our bedroom, RVs are built with a large amount of cabinet space. My friend Amanda probably has the same amount of space in her regular house. They will remodel their home, that is continue, but in the meantime I dont think I have a lot less space, so if she can do it, so can I! You can see our tacky pinned up curtains, I wont take them down till spring. We like to have them at night, but we NEED the sunlight so we open them up (almost all) during the day, and then open the blinds.
Another shot of the kitchen. I am trying to use up the 25 lb bag of flour, because the 50 lb bucket is full as is the small 3 lb bin that I refill from the bucket. The 25 lb bag ended up getting torn, so we had to use it from there.
This is our bedroom. It is a pain to make the bed unless you are up in the pillow area. Most mornings I pull it up when I get up, but didnt today. You can walk around it, we get in from the bottom. It is a real mattress, not a temperpedic but something similar so it is larger and heavier, and more comfortable than what the RV came with. The whole mattress lifts up along with the plyboard underneath, but bc this mattress is heavy the shocks wont hold it up. So Tad holds it up, we get things from it, or someone does. Our knitting things and all of my extra fabric and sewing supplies are under there.
The shower, you definitely are confined within it but I am tiny, it isnt difficult. We can use it, and likely will soon. On our trip, we had to conserve water and we hated short showers. So much. As the showers at our current park are free, close and hot, we walk over and use them. This RV has frozen hook ups. As in, we cannot do a constant hook up for water and sewer. In the summer, you put sewer hose from your gray and black to the dump, and you constantly dump. Water, you put a hose to your city connection and thats it, full time water. But since they are frozen, we fill our 110 gal fresh water tank with water, and then monitor it from a panel that shows us levels of fill in freshwater, kitchen and bathroom gray water tanks, and the black water tank. Because we have no on site dump, we use what is called a smart tote (ours is 27 gal or Tad and I couldnt do it alone) and dump our waste into it (this is completely contained, nothing on us or ground) and pull it to the 1 main (not frozen) dump. We did this yesterday, took about an hr for 4 runs with the tote, Frank did the first run with me and then Tad and I did 3 while Frank and Nathalie hooked hoses together and filled our fresh tank. It takes about an hr as a family every 10 days or so.
Another view of our room, we brought our printer with us (frank's idea) which we have been so glad for. Great for school, taxes, Frank's job, many items. Oh and we can scan and email which is easier than driving somewhere to fax. These 4 drawers hold our clothes, then we use the closet of course and we have a lot of storage in the closet as well.
Our closet has stuff like this at both ends, 2 shelves in corners plus of course floor space, and a whole shelf all the way across. Things we do not use daily go in here, like extra towels. I do laundry about every 2 wks, because we can go that long. It is a long time, but the washer/dryers cost the same amount full or not, so we make sure we are full.
More cabinet space, lots of things go in here. We need a flow chart showing us what is stored where! would make life easier when we lose stuff. The cord you can see is plugged into a 12 volt inverter, giving full time power (even when going down road because only 12 volt works then) to the most exposed water pipes under the RV, these have a heat tape. The heat tape is what allowed us to have water even in the Yukon at -65 degrees. We can likely unplug it now, it only kicks on if the pipes get below 40. It isnt very cold or windy here, and we are sitting still. always warmer than moving breeze. Frank is going to drill a couple of holes so we wont see this cord next winter but for now, we have water unlike any other person in this park!
You can see we have a lot of windows, which is a must for me in the winter. I really need my sunshine. Tad is doing his typing program here, homeschool is really easy in here. The kids dont magically disappear while I am doing dishes! Just kidding... it was more me than them, I got distracted in a big house. Here, I really dont. You can see our library books as well, we stack them here. We have been going so far 2x a wk, we need a lot of books. We are depending wholly on the library except for a small trunk of books we brought that are in our storage room. We dont have space for all of our stuff with comfort so we moved them. The library is nice, and the kids love the variety of books.
Just another window. We shrink wrapped all of our windows, most RVs have single pane windows. This one does, and adding the plastic (sticky tape, plastic, blow dry) allowed us several more degrees of warmth.
We put in this chest, kept our spare tires under it during our trip and today the last one will move to the storage. We dont need them here. The chest includes a drawer for Tad's stuff, whatever he wants (Nathalie has a shelf in her room), one drawer holds hats/gloves and other winter stuff, and the other 2 are Frank's. Tools, flashlights, batteries etc. Tad's guitar is, well what he plays daily. He starts lessons as soon as we have a 2nd vehicle. This chest is in Tads room, or otherwise the back room of our house. We have only 4 rooms IF you count the bathroom as a room.
Another view of his room, this room isnt as well insulated. We are going to insulate the floor, when there is less icy water under our home. This radiator heater runs all the time in his room, unless we need to run some other thing that draws too much, so we switch it off for a couple of minutes. We run a small blower heater in his room at night as well, off of the microwave socket (unplug microwave to do so) and that keeps it warm. It doesnt have vents like the rest of the RV.
Oh see, thats darling! Nathalie doing her math in front of his heater, which she has switched on. It isnt cold in here, its probably 65 degrees.
Oh but see, thats a pretty picture! The oranges and apples on left are out of the fridge because our fridge freezes some things solid. Really bad for produce. We have 2 coolers outside and they hold our excess cold goods. no one steals them, which is neat. Other people have a small box freezer outside, which would be nice. I dont completely trust the coolers to not thaw too much, and let my meat spoil.
Ok so thats it for now. Lots of other facts and interesting things but will share more later. I PROMISE to try to blog, but I have to also pass my college classes which I dont feel up to right now. So maybe I can blog once per assignment... good incentive.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
In this place I have seen what our Native people saw. It is unchanging except for the icy road and occasional telephone poles or a cabin. Very little electricity even runs out here, there is no one to use it. It is a raw, harsh beauty. The kind of beauty that can pull you in despite its dangers. It is an icy wonderland, I feel no sadness that I havent seen it in the summer. Winter and all of its sharp edges have always drawn me in. Even in -65 degrees this is my current favorite place. My previous favorite was a favorite for 13 yrs, so I dont change lightly.
The mountains, the trees, the snow, the wild animals are all part of the mystery of the Yukon. Even the name sounds remote, as if it is a name given by someone who cannot describe it. Upon our arrival in Anchorage, we all felt homesick for the place we had just been, this place. As well as the rest of Northern Yukon that we have yet to see. It is a truly amazing place. Had we been moving up here, free of any binds (the army) we would have stopped there and found a piece of land, built a cabin and stayed forever. Somehow the Yukon is untouched, like no one is willing to try to take it. I wouldnt take it, I would live with it.
Saturday 27th we leave Whitehorse and head for Tok. Drove all day many long hours, slow going because the roads are icy. Drove till 3 hrs after dark and spent the night at Buckshot Betty’s Café (Town of Beaver Creek), in the parking lot. She had RV hookups but none were working, there was fuel right down the road, they would open at noon. We went to fill our truck but their pumps were frozen. -65 degrees that night. Propane failed due to cold, propane stays a liquid below -45 degrees, we had to plug in a battery blanket (around the propane) to make our house warm up.
Sunday 28th leave Beaver Creek and go 20 miles to next fuel station, they had fuel. Drove mostly without event to the Tok Cutoff road. Took many pictures of Kluane Lake which was beautiful. Stopped at a small fuel station and store and spent afternoon and night relaxing and not going anywhere.
Monday 29th left the little lodge and headed down the Tok Cutoff for Richardson Hwy to Anchorage, Ak. We crossed into Alaska, many cheers were heard from the back seat. Once we came to the Richardson Hwy, we learned that the mountain range just inside of Alaska, is absolutely laughing at the Rocky Mountains in Canada. I mean, really laughing. These mountains watch people coming over the Rockies, huffing and puffing and say quietly to each other, we will kill them if they are struggling over the little Rockies! And yes. They tried. They did some work on our transmission. It took nearly 8 hrs to go around 200 miles. These mountains, were Wicked. I think (by map) they are called Wrangell Mountain Range.
At a stop off section of hwy, we pulled over for late lunch and the transmission threw up about 1.5 qts fluid on the ground. Because it is red, it looked like the truck was bleeding. The transmission was tired of the steep ups and downs pulling 27,000. Frank refilled the transmission and we tried to go forward, we had only 84 miles left to the RV park in Anchorage. We limped in slowly at around 8 pm and found that the park was crowded, dirty and full of weird people. I mean really scary.
At midnight, we experienced a fun marital fight happening next door. The neighbors came out screaming at one another, threatening to murder each other and the man was sobbing and crying. Then he asked the woman, yelled rather, why did I have to *&^%$#@ marry you!!! Then he spent some more time wailing. Doors slam. Insults hurled.
Morning came, I emailed Amanda and she found a RV park out in the country for us. It is on the edge of Palmer, Ak heading towards Wasilla, Ak. It is beautiful, and costs 350 vs 870 and we are allowed to use electric heaters. The other park allowed only our propane heater which is a wet heat, and doesn’t keep us warm enough. The wet part just means condensation inside of our RV whereas the electric heaters help to dry that out.
Tuesday we scouted the new RV park, and decided we wanted to come here. The lady assigned us a spot and we came Wednesday morning. The only drawback is that this park wasn’t ready for winter hook up living. So, the other RV owners who live full time do not have any running water. They use their toilets (not all of them) after pouring a jug of antifreeze in it, and then they dump it using a smart tote and dragging it to the main dump-the only thaw one.
We maintain water in our rig because we have tank and pipe heaters, and insulation. We shower in the shower house because that is the bulk of water use and we have to dump it in the smart tote wagon, pulling 27 gallons of liquid across snow isn’t fun. It takes us about an hour to dump our tanks and refill our fresh water by hooking several hoses together.
We like it here a lot, its cheaper and has nice neighbors. A lot of kind people who go out of their way to be a good neighbor. Our kids have made friends and snow tunnels, made forts and used the big hills for sledding. We will start looking at houses this weekend and hope to find some land.
So that’s it! Our big Kansas to Alaska trip in small print.Pictures of Kluane Lake to follow.