Sunday, February 5, 2012
Its been a while since we've posted on here but know that we are all well. We've continued to post on our facebook page, www.facebook.com/faithtothe49th as it's been easier to keep things updated as they happen using that site. We appreciate all of your positive comments, letters, thoughts and prayers. They mean so much to our family. For those who are reading this back in TN, know that we miss you all but we have no doubt this is where the Lord wants us for now. We think of all of you and pray for you often!
Christmas and New Years have come and gone and so we start on this new journey that is the year 2012. January was cold and snowy as everyone would expect Alaska to be with lows some nights reaching between -25 to -35 and wind chills from -35 to -45. According to the locals this has been one of the coldest and snowiest winters they have had in our area in many years. All of that being said, we have really enjoyed out time hear. A few weeks back we traveled to Seward to watch the Polar Bear Plunge and to visit the SeaLife center which the entire family enjoyed! We liked it so much we decided to spend the night and when we awoke the next morning, there was a over a foot of new snow that had fell during the night. While we were there we visited the Seward Church plant that our home church in Soldotna sponsors and were even invited back the next Sunday to preach for them. The drive over from Soldotna to Seward takes around 2.5 hours but the drive itself is extremely breathtaking. Snow covered mountains all around you with frozen and snow covered lakes and rivers around each turn.
In addition to our trips to Seward we experienced our first Dog Sled Race at the Tustumena 200. Our landlord Paul Gebhardt (Iditarod Competitor & 2 time runner up), participated in this race and ended up finishing fifth. It was cold the morning of the race with the temp at the time of takeoff hovering around -27 degrees. We were able to help with Mr. Gebhardt's dogs for a few days and even got to help out another musher, DeeDee Jonrowe as she lost one of her dogs during the race. We were fortunate enough to find her dog (Ophelia) on our way home from town later that night. Here is part of an email I sent a friend of the events of that day...
"Every day in AK is a great day... but today might just be the best or at least one of the best and most interesting days we have had since getting here. We started the day off by getting up at 9am and driving a few miles out to watch the start of the Tustumena 200 Dog Race with our friend the Burrows and the Starbucks. It was -27 when we got there... to say it was cold would be a mild understatement. We watched our landlord, Paul Gebhardt, take off first with his team and then the rest of the competitors including, DeeDee Jonrowe. We left and came back home for a bit to warm up and grab some extra clothes before heading over to Kasilof beach to see the view and then on to Soldotna for the Winter Games, some 25 miles away. We ate lunch there and then walked around and let the kids enjoy some of the games and activities they had to offer. We then headed back to the Burrows house around 3:30 where we heard that one of the racers, DeeDee Jonrowe had scratched as one of her dogs(Ophelia) had got loose just 6 miles into the race and was now missing. We all wondered where she could be and Robin and I even joked that it would be funny if we found her on our way home. After sitting around for a while, we decided to go see a movie where we ran into some more friends. After the movie we were able to see some of the fireworks from the Soldotna Sports Center on our way to take the Burrows back home. We dropped them off and headed home, as our landlord had ask us to feed his other 50 dogs for him while he was competing in the race. It was now dark and once again -25 degrees as we drove 25+ miles back to our home. Much to our surprise as we turned onto our road, we spotted a dog running. The closer we got, the more we realized this was Ophelia, the missing dog. At this point, you might be asking, "How did they know this was Ophelia?" Well it's not often you see a snow dog with a hot pink strap and booties running down the side of the road. :-) We turned around to follow her, then pulled in front of her to try and stop her but she turned around and would not let us catcher her. We contacted race headquarters via FB and let them know we had found her as we now continued to follow her in the opposite direction. Headquarters contacted DeeDee to let her know we had found her and soon DeeDee was calling wanting to know where we were. We explained what was going on and she said she would meet us at the other end of the road some 10+ miles away. Let me take a moment to pause her and just say that this dog is a machine... I've never seen anything like it before. She had been running since 11am that morning, it was now 7pm, we had just followed her on our road for over 8 miles and she was showing no signs of slowing up! We eventually met DeeDee as she had came in from the other end of he road. After a couple of failed attempts by both of us to stop and catch Ophelia, we finally forced her off the road into the deep snow where she continued to run. We followed her tracks in the snow along the bluff of Kasilof beach in snow that was 3-4' deep for about 300 yards before finally finding her stopped and laying at the bottom of a large snow bank... she had run out of space and no where else to go. DeeDee was overjoyed she had gotten her baby back and we were just happy that we could help reunite them. Ophelia was cold and had ice and snow hanging from her eyes, nose and chin but she was still ready to run. We waded back through the snow on our way to the trucks where DeeDee and her baby warmed by the heater. Happy that we had been successful in our attempt to help but still in shock that we actually did find the dog we had joked about finding just a few hours before, we headed toward home. Once there, we fed and took care of remaining 50 dogs of Mr. Gebhardts, which was a lot of fun! Now here we sit discussing the crazy events that were our day and trying to type it all down before we forget. No half page of written word could ever truly capture the excitement of the day but as least now you have some idea. Only in AK could one have such an eventful day! We were so blessed today in so many different ways... Good Friends, Good Times and a Good Ending! God is Good All the Time!"
This past week we have spent our late evenings and this past Saturday working on our snow cave / igloo. Me and the boys have worked a couple of hours each night and 4-5 hours on Saturday digging a hole into the HUGE pile of snow in the middle of our driveway. It's been a blast! We plan to keep working on it this week and hope to be able to spend the night in it by the coming weekend or the weekend after that.
Below are links to our photos and videos from the past month. Check them out and let us know what you think. Also remember, you can see more photos and videos like these by going to www.facebook.com/faithtothe49th and liking our page. Be sure to post your feedback on our FB page as well.
God Bless & Safe Travels!