Sunday, December 30, 2007

Back in Alaska...

On the afternoon of the 26th we flew from Riverton to Denver. Luckily we didn't have our itinerary with us when we checked in at the commuter flight from Riverton so they didn't check our bags all the way through to Alaska. When we got to Denver our flight was delayed getting in so we were going to miss our connecting flight in Salt Lake and the next one wasn't until 9pm the next night. We decided to rent a car and drive up to Cheyenne and spend the night at Sandi's Grandfather Jim's house. The roads on the way up were great, they were dry all the way to Cheyenne but then it snowed all night and the trip back to Denver was a little nerve racking. Not so much because of the snow on the roads but more due to the other people on the road. We made it to DIA without incident but witnessed a bunch of accidents on the way. We made our flight out of Denver to Salt Lake with a seven hour layover and then finally made it into Anchorage. Unfortunately we found out when we got to Anchorage that if you have a layover of seven hours or more that Delta doesn't check your luggage all the way through. It would have been nice if they had told us that in Denver!

In any event we made it home and it was about 15 degrees warmer here than in Salt Lake City so I can't complain. I just wish we had a lot more snow here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas.......

It has been an exciting fun filled week here in Lander. We have had two snowstorms and a lot of blue sky. Thane learned how to ice skate at the town rink (terrible ice) and I had to remember how to skate, it has been at least eighteen years since I have been on ice skates. I don't know how long it has been for Sandi but she was rustier than I was and very unhappy when anyone grabbed a hold of her while she was moving.

After the first snowstorm a snowman was made on the railing of Tim and Stefani's front porch. Sometime afterwards, two pointy ears were added and then he was referred to as snow bunny, but after two days of intense sunshine snow bunny ended his own life and dived off of the railing into the snowy abyss below. In my grief I created snow bunny two. I thought he resembled a real rabbit much more than the first snow bunny did; however everyone here referred to him as "Snow Pig". An unfair name in my book since Snow Pig was very cute and loved by all. Unfortunately on Christmas Eve when Tim and Stefani went to the store to get supplies for Christmas Dinner, Gran and I took the liberty of stringing Christmas lights all over the front of their house (so much for their non decorating tradition) and also found a nice Christmas candle for Snow Pig to hold. Once lit and forgotten about, Snow pig was badly burned to the point of requiring snow skin grafts. After the second snow storm and again an intense day of sunshine Snow Pig also dived into the snowy abyss beyond the railing of the front porch. Proving that snow is no match for the intense sunshine of the great Rocky Mountains.
So in reality it has been a little slow around here. Slow but nice, with a lot of food to eat. I have never been so tired from doing so little. I keep trying to convince myself that it is the altitude that is making me feel lethargic and not all the junk I have been eating.

We had a good Christmas Day but unfortunately Thane had some sort of virus on Christmas Eve that had him up sick about every twenty minutes all night long. Instead of listening for Santa he was listening to his stomach to tell him when he needed to make for the bathroom. Poor little guy was wiped out this morning but was still ready and excited to open presents. Kids are amazing.

It snowed all night, about six inches in all. So after breakfast, presents, and a little visiting we headed outside into the sunshine for a little snowball fight. Ever wanted to whop your Mother-in-Law with a snowball? I didn't either; but I will admit I might have accidentally walloped her at least one good one. My (possible) direct hit was nothing however compared to Thane's sacking her on the edge of the porch. His body weight hit her a little low and she went sailing. It was definitely Superbowl material! Aside from that we had a nice quiet day with way too much food and great company.

Unfortunately it is time to head for home tomorrow but we really enjoyed our stay and the time to relax with family in the wonderful Wyoming sunshine.

Thane on his first day of ice skating.

A little tired but still on his feet.

Sandi, Thane, and I on an outing in the great Wyoming sunshine.

Some Alaska Wildlife in Wyoming.

Thane's loot from Santa.

Snow Pig before the required Snow Skin Grafts.

Stefani, Gran, Sandi, and Thane lazing about on Christmas day.

Thane, the center of attention on Christmas Day.

Thane's Sacking of Gran, not bad for a 48lb little guy.

A blue sky day in Lander Wyoming after a whole night of snowfall.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cowboy in the family......

Well, Thane found an old straw cowboy hat of Tim's and has laid claim to it. He also has borrowed a belt and holster for the pistol that Tim cut him out of a scrap piece of mdf. We went up to Dubois this morning for breakfast at the Cowboy Cafe and Thane fit the part. In fact he was the only one in the whole place with a cowboy hat. Then on the way home we stopped so he could herd some cattle on his trusty jackalope.

Cowboy Joe and his trusty broom horse Ben

Two free range eggs overeasy, please

Hanging out with the sheep

All American Cowboy 2007

Hold on tight, Jackalope are known to buck

End of the Trail; Cowboy putting books back into his backpack

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Into America....

Well, when I woke up this morning I was in Wyoming. I had about four days at home to try and get my bearings and try to figure out what day was what. I'm still not sure which time zone my body is currently using. We are in western Wyoming (Lander to be exact) for Christmas with Sandi's family. Today we went in search of a Christmas tree. Unlike at home where you can just walk out into the woods and take whatever tree suits you; here in civilization you get a permit from the forest service and then go onto forest service land and find a suitable tree. I could have saved us all a bunch of time as I picked out a really nice (already decorated with lights and everything) tree in someones yard on the way from the airport last night. Since nobody really liked my idea off to the forest we went.

On the way to find a Christmas tree.

Yup, I was pretty sure it was Wyoming but this proves it....

Into the trees we go.....

Sandi, Thane, and Stefani on break from tree scouting..

Sandi and Dawson De Dawg

As Tim puts the saw together for the task, the tree gets nervous.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Out of Africa.....

Two weeks after my last post I managed to find my way out of the Sahara. In total I was there for six weeks. I don't know if I'd want to work a regular rotation out there (especially when it is 135 degrees) but it was a good experience.
On the way home I got to spend two nights in London to sight see a little. I think there are somewhere around 7 million people in London and I'm pretty sure all but a few of them were on one of the trains we tried to get on while we were downtown. To say that London is a really busy place would be a huge understatement. I can't imagine trying to commute to work on a daily basis into downtown. However I will say that they have a really good commuter train system.

I had a whole list of things I wanted to see but I think I'd need more like a week just wander around downtown. If you take in a museum it pretty much wipes out a whole day. I was with Hans (my Swiss-Texan Engineering Companion) and we walked all over and still didn't see as much as I'd hoped. We toured the Tower of London which took four hours or so, and it was a whirlwind tour at that. The Tower of London is actually a castle with walls and at one time a mote. It is where the Crown Jewels are kept on display. There are some pretty impressive pieces in the collection, let me tell you. I think I took more pictures of doors than anything, I love the old gothic style wooden doors.

Growing up in Alaska doesn't give a person much of sense of history so it is pretty awe inspiring to be at a site that was first built on by the Romans in the second or third century and added to ever since.
We were blessed with a blue sky day which is rare I think for London in December. The days are pretty short there also, I think it started getting light about 7am and dark between 5 and 5:30. It is a little hard to tell when you are amongst all of the tall buildings though.
London is definately a place I want to visit again.

Here are a few pictures on my way out of Algeria and while in London.

The Flight out; a welcome sight.

A drilling rig amongst the dunes.

Why it is called the Sea of Sand.

The flares from the refinery at Hassi Messaoud.

The southern coast of England.

Flying over England.

Heading down into the Tube.

The streets of downtown London.

Wandering about downtown.

London Bridge.

Tower Bridge over the Thames River.

The Tower of London.

Inside the Tower of London.

One of the gates once inside the original drawbridge.

Makes you feel pretty small on the time scale.

One of the original walls, even before the English.

Tower built on the same Roman Wall.

One of many suits of armour on display.

I don't remember for sure but somwhere near Piccidilly Circus.

On our walkabout.

The train we passed trying to squeeze onto, twice! This wasn't even rush hour.

AHH, to be home again!

The dunes were beautiful but this is my favorite view!

No sand, no traffic, no people, a nice relief.

The sunset was something I missed also!