Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Alaska...So Far

What a trip so far. We got here Saturday night and feel like we have squeezed about as much into the few days we have been here as possible. We caught up with Dave Wolfe, a great guy I taught as a missionary 9 years ago, and his family. Dave was recently baptized and we wanted to visit the old ward, my first area on Sunday. I was amazed as I visited the Chugiak Ward at how many of the same familiar faces there were. It was a great memory flooding experience. I was able to stand in the confirmation circle of the young lady Dave and Doniel have recently adopted. They are such a great example to all (Dave and Doniel have recently adopted two wonderful children to provide them with a great life in addition to the four children they already had).

Dave is the PA announcer for the Mat-Su Miners, a prep baseball league for college players. We were able to attend the Miners opening day and it was great to see Morgan taking after dad with her love of the game.

Yesterday and part of today, we were all over the map of Alaska. After many hours of driving (surprisingly Morgan was a gem, she slept most of the time) we ended up at the North Pole. It was a very surreal feeling to get out of the car at the North Pole and have it be 79 degrees. I know in the past, I may have had tendencies to exaggerate, but this is the entire truth. I never thought one could sweat in the North Pole. It was nice to visit Santa's House/Workshop. Unfortunately, Santa was done for the day, so I had to fill in.

Kim and Morgan making sure they are in the good graces of Santa and his helpers. I believe their names did appear on the jumbo list appearing in his hands.

After the North Pole, we ventured down to Denali National Park. The last visit we had there, we didn't run into much wildlife, except the seagull who we fed a McDonald's breakfast burrito to gather information about where the wildlife was hiding. This time around was not much different unfortunately. We didn't see a whole lot of anything, but to the park's credit, you really need to take the 8 hour bus tour deep into the park to be able to wrestle with the bears, caribou, etc. We figured that everyone on the bus would have hated us had we brought Morgan along for that long of a time. So we chose to drive the 15 miles you are allowed to drive without having to pay.

Here is the wildlife we saw in Denali National Park. Unfortunately, his pal ran away when the tour bus passed by.

This is the cabin we rented just south of the park. This is by far the best deal in town. I was very apprehensive to rent something that was so much cheaper than everything else. The last time we did that, when we got to our "camp spot", it was a gravel pit next to the outdoor restrooms. But I must say, I was very impressed with this establishment. They are called McKinley Creekside Cabins.

This is the view out in front of our cabin.

Here is a picture of Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America. We were grateful that the rain from the night before had blown over so we were able to get a good picture of the mountain.

Well that is it for now. We are planning on doing Hatcher's Pass tomorrow and fishing later in the week. It has been a blast thus far and we are hoping that our following activities will provide for some good memories.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Where is Tim Allen when you need him?

As we are in the process of finishing our basement, I have decided to do most all of the work myself to save a little coin. It is nice to have a brother to take the blame when something goes wrong down there. Currently, we have the whole basement framed and the electrical is run to each room. So the next step is to get the HVAC work done. It appeared to be a simple process of cutting a few holes and attaching a few elbows to the duct work, however after 5 hours, it was a much different story.

I tried to be cheap by using tin snips to cut into the duct work and it was a major mistake. Finally, I broke down and went to the Home Depot to get a tool that cuts nice clean circles into the ducts. It appeared at that point that some progress would be made for the day. As it turned out, we were not experts at using the $60 tool and while it cut some nice holes in the ducts on the bottom side of the duct, the drill was too short to cut the desired hole on the top of the duct to attach the necessary elbows. So after another trip to Home Depot and another $50 spent on drill attachments, we did manage to make some progress.

So for those of you who have the desire to finish your entire basement, my advise would be to let professionals do their jobs, no matter the cost.