Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hanukkah Day Eight 2011

Hanukkah Day Eight - 2011

The last day of Hanukkah came with even more snow and we watch the growing piles and snowdrifts with a bit of fear and trepidation.  Today we planned to have company for dinner and that required us to go forth from our cozy little "Nest" and drive to the supermarket.  Not such a big deal on an ordinary day as we live little more than a couple of miles away, but with icy roads to navigate the task becomes a little more than ordinary.  

There are two routes from our place to the main road.  Both of them require us to make it up an incline to the stop sign before turning onto the highway.  If we're forced to stop short because of traffic ahead of us, the question stands as to whether we'll be able to get going again.  If we use our momentum coming up the hill to get us to the stop sign, the equally important question at the top is whether or not we'll be able to stop AT the stop sign.  Both concerns weigh almost equally on us no matter which route we chose to take so going anywhere in this snow is no small matter for us.  

To make matters even more interesting, just getting the truck out of it's parking space can be a little bit daunting depending on where and how the snow has drifted.  We have a narrow run between our rig and a large fence to navigate.  There's no room for fast moves or any kind of "craziness".  There's also almost no more room for snow as we try to find places to shovel it aside.  However, in the end, we did manage to get to the store and back without incident and dinner was on as planned.  

One of our friends brought Challah bread that he had baked himself especially for this occasion and our other friends brought pumpkin pie and whipped cream.  We shared a nice angel hair spaghetti dinner and the story of Hanukkah and then enjoyed watching the candles burn down on the last day of our holiday with our new friends.  

One of the things that has intrigued me the most about our Torah life and celebrations of the feasts and festivals given to us by YHVH Elohim has been the importance of food to fellowship.  Sharing meals with friends and family is so much a part of the human experience and it's easy to forget that this is the way that our FATHER has seen fit for us to share fellowship with HIM also.  If you do a word study on the Scriptures just on the words, "bread and wine", you come away with a very different picture of HIS idea of "table fellowship".  Bread always tastes so much better when it's shared with others, don't you think?

Happy Hanukkah!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hanukkah Day Seven ** 2011

Hanukkah Day Seven - 2011
This morning we woke to even more snow and it was beautiful to behold.  Alaska, or maybe it's just Homer, seems to take the business of clearing the roads not too seriously.  This snow required plowing, but ofttimes, there's just some small effort to put out some sand and little else.  The roads are never plowed to the pavement and no one seems to mind.  

I've eavesdropped on more than one conversation about tire chains and studded tires, but there's no consensus that they're really necessary to get through the winter here.  People with four wheel drive seem to put a great deal of faith in that, but for the most part, people drive without anything beyond all weather tires.  

We don't have four wheel drive, tire chains or studs and our winter driving skills are a bit rusty, but we're doing okay.  My biggest challenge occurred in a school parking lot that was coated with ice.  I had backed into a parking space with my rear wheels up against the parking curb.  When I came out to go home, I couldn't pull out of the space.  My wheels were just spinning uselessly on the ice and I couldn't back up because of the curb.  

This is where you need to pull out your handy dandy shovel and bucket of sand, but of course, this isn't a part of my gear.  As I considered this problem, I noticed that my floor mats were full of sand and gravel since cleaning the truck hasn't been a priority lately.  I thought that I might get enough from there to gain some traction.  Pulling out the floor mat revealed only a little sand but it gave me enough light to think to just throw the mat down on the ground in front of the tire.  

That worked very well and my problem was solved and YES!! for all you guys out there who are wondering....I did stop and pick up my floor mat and put it back into the truck.  Besides, who knows when I might need it again to get out of a jam!   

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hanukkah Day Six

Hanukkah Day Six - 2011
The sixth day of Hanukkah came with quite a bit of snow.  It was good for us that we didn't have to go out anywhere further than necessary to satisfy Ariela's needs and I say "we" more out of sympathy than reality as DannyLee is my hero in this regard.  He's the one that is most apt to be at the other end of her leash much to her delight.  

She seems to have gotten used to the feel of snow and ice on her feet and has learned to do "her business" quickly and then make a mad dash for home with her tail waving smartly.  Their last trip before bed brought them both back frosted with snow from head to toe.  I had to laugh at the sight of them though DannyLee wasn't finding it all that funny.  

We have "officially" passed over the winter equinox and I say that somewhat "tongue in cheek" as there's a bit of confusion on my part as to what day actually constituted the exact time that this happened.  I'm used to the date being December 21st, but the Anchorage paper reported that here in Alaska, it's more like the 23rd.  No matter.  The good news is that our days from here on out will be getting longer.

In Homer, we never did reach the point where it was dark for an entire day.  The sun always managed to find it's way over the tops of the mountain peaks to the south of us at least for a short time.  While I enjoyed the summer days where it stayed light almost 24 hours, I'm not sure I would really enjoy 24 hours of darkness.  I have enough trouble trying to keep my days straight as it is.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hanukkah Day Five - 2011

Hanukkah Day Five - 2011
These are our "new" Hanukkah candles.  While they lack the personal touch of "Danny's Hands", the light they give warms our hearts as we are able to continue celebrating this year's Feast of Dedication.  It was very sad, the last few days, to think that we might find ourselves unable to complete the festival.  Our hearts are much lighter this evening as we watch the candles burning once again.  

There is much for us to contemplate this evening as we had listened to an interesting teaching on Friday evening.  Eddie Chumney was the surprise guest teacher on Lion & Lamb's weekly Torah broadcast.   He brought out a very intriguing overview of the importance of Hanukkah for those of us that are carefully watching and waiting for the return of our Messiah and King, Yeshua Ha'Mashiach.  

As he contrasted the events that led up to the revolt headed by the Maccabees with the news items that are front and center in the assault on believers today, our hearts ached with yet another confirmation of the days and times that we live in.  

He listed the "evil decrees" put forth by Antiochus Epiphanies and pointed out the blatant similarities to the religious practices embraced by many today.  These decrees included bans on studying Torah, honoring Shabbat and the other appointed Feasts of YHVH and the ritual of circumcision. He required the eating and public sacrifice on YHVH's altar of unclean animals, namely, pigs, and that all people would follow the laws and customs of the Hellenistic Greeks abandoning any and all other forms of worship and government.  

As we move closer to the Tribulation events, those of us that find ourselves alone and set apart in a world that hates us because it hated HIM, will find ourselves targeted by many that call themselves "believers".  The thought is sobering and we struggle to focus our hearts on what must lie beyond those events when we are gathered with HIM into HIS Kingdom in Yerushalyem.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hanukkah Day Four

Hanukkah Day Four - 2011
With one day left to solve our candle wick problem, we sat together on the bed and tried to think of options.  I had a vague idea from the candle wick recipes that maybe we could use melted wax to "prime" the wicking material that I had stripped the zinc wire from and get it to burn correctly.  We had plenty of wax from the candle making kit that we could use for this attempt.  The problem was in finding an appropriate container for melting wax.  The RV life doesn't lend itself well to having things like old pans or other such containers tucked into the back of anywhere.  

DannyLee came up with the idea of using birthday candles and that gave me the idea of using them as the core for our honeycomb beeswax candles.  This would solve our wick problem and look beautiful too!  The only question was if the two different types of wax would actually work together or somehow melt apart making another mess.  

We once again set off on a mission to visit the Salvation Army in search of an old pan for melting wax and to find birthday candles at our new favorite hardware store.  A quick search of the Salvation Army store came up empty and we left there "sans a pan".  While I'm definitely in need of new pans, buying them at this point just isn't in the budget so the idea of melting wax moved to the backseat.  It looked like birthday candles were our only option at this point.  

Heading to the hardware store or any store at this time of the year is an exercise in restraint.  Both of us have struggled with the long and difficult process of extracting ourselves from the miry clay of religious traditions and social customs that are in direct opposition to being in a close relationship with our FATHER YHVH Elohim and MESSIAH Yeshua.  We still struggle with an appropriate response to those that cling to such things.  We find it far easier to avoid going anywhere so as not to cause offense to others even as we struggle to try not to be offended.   We steeled ourselves for another unwanted trek into "shopping hell".  

Slipping in the back door of the hardware store to avoid the "ringers of bells" at the front, we headed over to the greeting card/party section of the store.  Here we found several options in birthday candles that just might work to solve our wick problem.  Turning to head for the registers, we found ourselves face to face with...........LO and BEHOLD!!....a Hanukkah display that had one box of small candles, one box of larger candles, several sets of hanukkiahs and various kinds of decorations for the holiday.  

YAY!!!  Problem solved!!  We grabbed the box of small candles and headed to check-out.  After paying a small price ($1.99) for our candles, we headed home with a sigh of relief.  It was time to hunker down for a long quiet weekend!  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hanukkah Day Three

Hanukkah Day Three - 2011
A quick search of the internet revealed various "recipes" for candle wicks.  One variable that came up in each version was the amount of soaking and drying time required to make wicks.  Some required hours, others days, and a few even longer.  Having only two days before my candle supply would run out, I wasn't up for experimenting.  

The other hitch was a similarity that all of the recipes shared, the need for "boric acid".  I'm not much for chemistry experiments.  Especially during the winter months where we live in an enclosed space with limited ventilation.  I'm not familiar with boric acid or why it would be necessary to make a candle wick and a quick call to the local pharmacy wasn't encouraging.

They didn't have any and suggested another place as it's mainly used to kill ants.  Playing around with something used to kill other living things isn't my idea of fun or a viable option.  It was back to the drawing board!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best-made Plans - Hanukkah Day Two

Hanukkah Day 2 - 2011
Today we went off in search of candle wick in our little town of Homer.  There weren't a lot of places to look.  We were scrambling to think of anything that could be used as an alternative.  I even tried lighting various bits of pieces of string and linen cloth on fire to find another way.  No luck with any of that!  

We started with the most obvious place which is a hardware store that far exceeds the simple basics of hardware.  They even play host to a quilting/fabric shop tucked in a far back corner to my surprise and delight.  Tucked in a corner of this back corner, a surprised and  perplexed store clerk led us to 3 reels of candle wick tucked onto a high shelf on the back wall.  He also had no idea that such an item was carried in their establishment.

After carefully reading the labels on all three reels, I finally made a selection.  My new concern was that all of the wicking material had a zinc wire at the core.  This didn't seem to be a particularly healthy burning material and I was not too keen on this, but need drove us to give it a try.  

We went home and started rolling up more candles with the new wicks.  The wire core made the job much easier, but that didn't work out to our advantage.  

Lighting our candles on Day Two presented a very unhappy and unpredictable result.  As the candle burned, the wire heated up and coiled itself into a circular pattern that ripped through the side of the candle causing wax to spill and the candles to melt haphazardly.  It was quite obvious that the candle wick was not right for this job at all.  

In a flash of "brilliance", I decided to try pulling the wire out of the wick on the other candles that we had already made.  This simply took away the function of the candle wick and the remaining string only burned to the top of the candle and went out.  

It was back to the drawing board on how to get more candle wicks.  We had enough of the original candle wick to get through Day Three and Day Four, but timing was working against us with the season.  I started searching for instructions on how to make candle wicks, but that's a story for another day......

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hanukkah - Alaskan-style!

Although Hanukkah is not one of YHVH Elohim's commanded feasts, it is a feast that we know our Messiah Yeshua celebrated during His life.  (John 10:22)  Following the traditions that have been handed down to us from our "fathers" has been a long, difficult and ofttimes, painful process of sorting out what is right, what is totally wrong and what really adds nothing to our walk before our FATHER.  Following in the footsteps of our Messiah, helps to simplify at least some of the confusion we have about how to keep all of the feasts.  Our Hanukkah is a simple celebration as we find ways to make our own traditions.

Danny's Hands

Here you can see DannyLee making the little candles for our Hanukiah.  This is our first attempt at making our own candles so we bought a candle making kit.  The little kit came with an instruction booklet, 8 sheets of beeswax and a minimal amount of candle wick - very minimal!  We only had enough wick to make 14 candles, far short of the 44 it would take for all eight nights of Hanukkah.  

Not quite up to the faith levels of our brothers, the Maccabees,  we found ourselves setting off on a search for more candle wick, but that's a story for another day.  Fourteen candles are plenty enough to get our holiday off to a great start.  Here you can see the first day of our Hanukkah lights!  

Hanukkah Day 1 - 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sukkot 2011 Alaskan Style

Celebrating Sukkot has become a serious challenge to us somehow.  Because we live in what is considered a "temporary  dwelling" all the time, it's hard to think that we need to move to a "more" temporary dwelling to keep this feast.  In years past, we've wondered that maybe we need to move ourselves into our tent.  Being in Alaska, however, put that idea right out of our heads.  

Of course, our "Nest" is a lot more luxurious than the succa's that we are instructed to build for ourselves in the Scriptures.  This year made us even more uncomfortable with trying to keep Sukkot as we've been instructed, as our new location has made it necessary for us to make some changes to our rig in order for us to survive the winter cold and because we have no land or space of our own, building another structure isn't permitted.  

This "skirting" that we've added to our rig is designed to reduce the amount of cold air/wind that is coming up through the floors and under the slide-outs.  Although it can be removed when the time comes for us to move on, it will still be a major task.  This creates a very real barrier to any thoughts of just changing our location on a whim.  Of course, any real snow and we're going to be staying put anyway.  This just puts a visual to our new loss of nearly instant mobility.  This was our "building project" for Sukkot.

Again, as we find ourselves in a new location without any fellowship, the joy of keeping Sukkot by ourselves is rather muted and sad.  This is a sentiment that is echoed by many of those that we've met on our travels.  We're all left with a longing in our heart for that future day when we will be gathered into HIS Kingdom to celebrate Sukkot together.  Until then, we pray that your Sukkot was a blessed and happy event!  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Observing Yom Kippur

 Yom Kippur is the first of the "feasts" mandated by YHVH Elohim.  It's not actually a "feast" although it's included in the list of feasts.  It's a time of fasting.  It is also the first Biblically mandated feast that I ever tried to observe when I first came to be drawn to live a Torah-centric life.  

This was back in 2006 while I was still living in Thailand.  I didn't have a lot of knowledge or instruction in Torah at that time so all I knew to do was to go without food or water for 24 hours. 

 My strongest memory of that event has colored every Yom Kippur that I've observed since then.  All during the fasts my most predominant thoughts have been about food and what I would be eating once my fast was over.  I can't claim to have any kind of spiritual superiority in me.  

This year was different.  
Shabbat Moon

Over the years, I've learned a lot more about what it means to observe Yom Kippur and some of the traditions that are associated with keeping this fast.  I've added to my fast a time of abstinence from my computer and other electronic toys and we try to maintain a time of personal quiet without music and excessive talking.  

One of my favorites involves the act of throwing stones into a body of water.  This is a symbolic act of casting away my sins that have been forgiven by the blood sacrifice of our Messiah Yeshua.  It's supposed to help us to loose the bonds of any sins that are still trying to cling to us (or so, as I understand it).  This isn't in the Scriptures.  It's just a tradition that some chose to include in their time of Yom Kippur.  

In Israel, many people observe Yom Kippur that don't even believe in YHVH Elohim.  I was able to read some of their reasons that they chose to observe this feast and wonder at that.  One person felt that it made them a part of the larger community and another felt that it somehow connected them to their more religious family members.  I think that being in Israel where this is a widely observed time of quiet makes such thinking more prevalent.  

Here in Homer, it was NOT quiet where we were at all!  There was constant noise from nearby construction and heavy traffic noise from the intersection outside.  The beautiful sunshiny day had a lot to do with the noise as we live on the road that accesses the public beach.  The noise and the constant activity around us made the day a lot more stressful and forced us to work much harder to maintain a sense of inner quiet.  

As we're in a crunch to get our rig prepared to fend off the winter's cold, the thought that we needed to be out and about kept pulling at us.  It took a lot of effort and commitment to stay focused on the purpose and meaning of the day.  

In the afternoon, DannyLee took Ariela down to the beach for a stroll and found a couple that had buried their car to the frame in the soft sand.  He was faced with the question of whether or not it would be right for him to embark on a rescue mission.  The Scriptures concerning Shabbat and the need to pull your neighbor's ox from the ditch on that day came to mind and he drove off to do his good deed.

I was sitting in the rig considering whether or not I wanted to walk down to see this for myself when Ariela started barking like crazy.  I looked out the window to see what all this noise was about only to see a large moose about 10 feet away.  It was standing in the middle of the intersection appearing to be trying to make a decision as to which way to go.  The drivers at the stop signs waited patiently until a left turn was chosen and the intersection was cleared.

As I said, this year Yom Kippur was different for me.  Although the noise and activity around me caused me to feel stressed, I can say that for the first time ever observing this fast was actually a delight to my soul.  I wasn't thinking about food the entire time.  In fact, food was way down on the list of my thoughts.  I was mainly focused on being quiet and just resting in HIM as I waited for HIM to speak to me if HE should so desire and if not, just to wait.  

At the end, I was glad to be a part of something that is significant to all of YHVH Elohim's peculiar people.  Although many of us find ourselves alone and lonely as we crave the fellowship of like-minded people, there are things, such as the feasts and Shabbat that bind us all together into one community.  We look forward to that day when our Messiah Yeshua returns and brings HIS people into one community in one place - Y'srael!  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

No Man Knows............

Blowing the Shofar
"Watch therefore, because you do not know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Adam is coming,"  Matthew 25:13

Unless you've been taught the Scriptures from a Torah foundation, you may not know that this verse is a direct reference to this particular appointed feast - Yom Teruah, or Feast of Trumpets.  This particular holiday occurs at the sighting of the New Moon as are all of the first days of the new "moonths" on the Hebrew's calendar.  

As it is taught, Yeshua's return will be a fulfillment of the Fall Feasts as HIS first coming was a fulfillment of the Spring Feasts of Pesach (Passover), Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits and Shavuot.  HE will return with a mighty shout and the sound of a trumpet blast.  Thus, we prepare for HIS return with a mighty shout and the sound of the shofar as we keep watch for the signs that mark this generation in a way that has never been seen in history before.  

Today we celebrated Yom Teruah as sundown arrived with a visible new moon in the sky.  We consider it to be visible at 2% or greater and it was greater than 2% prior to sundown both here in Alaska and in Jerusalem on their Wednesday sundown.  We didn't actually get to observe the moon here as it's been cloudy and overcast for several days now so we used the data at our Moon Phase widget and at a second sight as a confirming witness.  

Of course, using the moon as our marker, we once again found ourselves out of step with the rest of the Messianic movement and this is as always very grievous and frustrating.  It  has been suggested that we should all just go along with what "everyone else" is doing but following that advice, why not just go back to the church and sit in a pew and stop trying at all?  (Sorry, this really is very difficult and frustrating.)

Unfortunately, this puts us out of step on the following feasts of Yom Kippur and Sukkot also, but this isn't a new thing.  For us, it's just the way that it is for those of us scattered in the nations and trying to keep HIS Torah.  We can only look forward to the day when HE puts all things back into their right order and teaches us how to walk properly.  

For our celebration meal we enjoyed au gratin potatoes with turkey sausage and a hearty oatmeal bread with ginger honey that we found in Jerusalem in a little shop on Ben Yehuda Street.  It was pricey, but saving it for this special occasion made it even more special.  

“Lashana Tova Tikatevu!” 

("May you be inscribed [in the Book of Life] for 

a good year”)

Friday, September 23, 2011

What is "Home-r"?

Welcome to Home-r!
 People like to have a place called "home".  It's a deep-seated need to have a place where you can go and feel like you belong there.  We have our "Nest".  It's been our home for the past 2+ years, but it's a "home" where the view out the windows is always changing.  We love our "Nest" and although we tried to imagine ourselves living somewhere else, if even for only a short time, it never works in our hearts.  This is our "home".  

There have been many times in our travels when we've come to places that we thought we might like to stop and look at for a while.  I'm very fond of soaring mountain ranges and ragged seascapes.  DannyLee seems to share my love of such things.  Sadly, those places didn't have what it takes to keep us there and we often found ourselves moving on long before the sights became ordinary to us.  

Wosnesenski Glacier
Winter in Alaska, however, is something that has to stop us, at least for a while.  Cowboy DannyLee at the helm of this rig blasting his way through a blizzard or outracing an avalanche is something that I'm not all that interested in having in my list of notable experiences.  The days of affordable gas and finding a readily available job are long over and life doesn't seem all that sure anymore.  It has truly come to be a time when "right now" faith is the foundation of our daily walk.  
Across Kachemak Bay

This is what has brought us to Homer, AK.  Now, this begs the question, "Just what is Homer?"  It's described in a variety of ways by the locals and the not-so locals.  The sign coming into town says that it's the "Halibut Capital of the World".  Mileposts describes it in a strange medley of ways:  "the little drinking village with the big fishing problem", "the end of the road", and "where the road ends and the sea begins" are some of my favorites.  

Dordshin Glacier?
                                                          All of these have endless imaginings to be worked on in the coming days, but none so much as the one that says, "the end of the road".  This thought has caught a hold of us far more than any of the others, not being inclined to either fish or drinking.  Why has FATHER brought us to "the end of the road"?  I don't know, but we have time to wait on HIM and let HIM tell us for HIMSELF.  Let the pictures tell what they can for now.
Holland America Cruise ship in Homer

Homer Spit from the bluff

To see what we could sea.......

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Centennial Park - Site 99
Are we there yet?  That's the thought that came to mind when I put the caption on the photo.  Here we are for a night at Centennial Park in Soldotna, and the best place we could find to park out of 170 spaces was site 99.  Hmmm..........

The road has been long and stressful and it's time to pull off and have a quiet night.  There aren't any Wally Worlds down in this neck of the woods so we opted for the city park.  They don't provide any hook-ups, but dry camping is getting to be one of our more useful skills.  It makes us really appreciate making that investment in our solar set-up.  Now if we can just figure out a better way to have heat!

Highway One is a two-lane twisting, turning, up and down maze of driveways and blind turn-offs.  We were warned by our friends that head-on collisions were frequent and ofttimes, deadly.  While our biggest concern has been moose, bear and caribou, the "local yocals" are far more of a hazard.  The highway planners were aware enough to put "truck lanes" or turnouts at key points along the way.  DannyLee has become very skilled at using them to allow cars and trucks to get past our rig.  Far better to have them in front of us going about their desperate business then to have them trying to pass us in no passing lanes or worse.

However, there's always someone that just can't wait and their importance exceeds any consideration for safety or common sense.  It's not like we're going slow.  Here the speed limit is only 55 and we're moving along at that speed with the occasional slow down for traffic and such.  The roads are wet as it's raining sporadically and here "he" comes.  One idiot in a red sports car decides to pass on a blind curve not only us but the 2 or 3 cars behind us.  Needless to say, the oncoming car that "he" ran off the road onto the shoulder was probably happy to be alive that day, as were we.  (Mind you, I say "he" as a general use.  Fortunately, we never had to have a "face to face" with that one!  It could have been ugly.)

This last picture is the view of the river from our campsite in Soldotna.  This is a pretty good sized town and with it's proximity to Homer, it's a comfort to have access to some of the larger stores.  There isn't a Wally World, but we're learning to do without.  Fast food has pretty much fallen off our table also, so we're seeing some progress in getting "Egypt out of us".  Are we ready for the "Greater Exodus" yet?  I don't think so.

As we woke up and prepared to continue our journey south to Homer, the phone rang.  DannyLee had a lovely surprise as he found himself chatting with an "open door".  A new business venture in Homer was interested in meeting with us and talking about our entertainment options.  This opportunity raised our hope to a new level and we found ourselves leaving our "redoubts" in Soldotna that morning and heading for Home-r, AK.  What an incredible, amazing, awesome Elohim we serve!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Past Hope, Finding Mt. Redoubt

Mt. Redoubt
 Continuing south from Anchorage on Hwy 1, eventually brings you to the Kenai Peninsula.  This is an area where everything seems to be FOR SALE and yet, ordinary people like us would dare not ask the price.  As any real estate agent would tell you, "Location, location, location!"  The views are beyond fabulous!  

We've firmly decided to make the drive south all the way to Homer.  I'd put out some "feelers" for possible winter engagements and there was nothing to be done but wait.  Looking at the signs as we drove along, one of the first towns we passed was Hope, AK.  Even as we struggle with our faith, it was hard not to feel a sense of hope as the scenery unfolded before us.  

A sudden glimpse of the mountain shown here caught us momentarily off-guard.  As I'd said, we hadn't spent much time in our Milepost in this area and had no expectations as to what we were going to encounter here.  In a brief moment of confusion, DannyLee asked if we were seeing Mt. McKinley from here, but a quick check of the map nixed that idea.  What we were looking at was equally as exciting as when we first caught a glimpse of Mt. McKinley.  Mt. Redoubt is a volcano - a real, live volcano with an active history!

We had made it to the Pacific "Ring of Fire" which puts a whole different spin on "Johnny & June's" song.  There wasn't just one volcano to be seen, but there are several in this area.  The currently most active one, Mt. Cleveland, is not here in this cluster, nor is it visible from this part of the Kenai Peninsula.  That's only a small comfort if volcanoes are of any concern.  All of the volcanoes in this area are fully capable of "going off" at any given moment and have a history that isn't all that long ago.  

The name of this particular volcano, Mt. Redoubt was quite appropriate as we continue to await HIS direction and an "open door" for our winter location.  The silence around us and above us seems deafening.  

Mt. Redoubt

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Finally Anchorage!

Anchorage Airport
We left the busyness of Wasilla for the overwhelming busyness of Anchorage.  While the magnificent landscapes of Alaska are prominent no matter where you go, the hustle and bustle of "city life" is very evident here.  Traffic is heavy and the roads, while clearly marked, can be a challenge with their sudden turns.  

Yahoo Maps gave us a convoluted path through Anchorage that was supposed to help us avoid something.  Instead we found ourselves on a one-way street, in the wrong lane, with orange cones separating the lanes.  As the cars in front of us started diving through the cones in order to make the upcoming left turn, we were horrified.  Not making this turn would clearly take us straight into downtown Anchorage, all 51 feet of us!  NOT!!

DannyLee made an "executive decision" and decided to run down a few orange cones as he made a desperate pass to get into the left turn lane.  Oh, well.......... it's not like they were blocking anything like wet concrete or big holes or a "work in progress".  They were just "there".  Well, not after we went through.  Hmmmm.......

Since we're not "big city" kind of people, we basically just rushed through Anchorage as fast as the traffic and the traffic laws would allow.  It was strange to see the Anchorage Airport right in the middle of town.  This plane in the photo caught my eye as planes are very much a part of Alaskan life.  I guess it's because much of Alaska is only accessible by plane.  One interesting factoid is that the planes used in Alaska are an aging fleet and many of them aren't made anymore.  It's getting harder and harder to repair and maintain them because of this - something to consider before jumping on one of those "puddle jumpers", eh?

After we made it through Anchorage, we didn't know what we were going to see.  We hadn't spent anytime perusing this part of our Milepost.  We were suddenly surprised to find ourselves "seaside".  It was like finding a whole new perspective on Alaska.  The road south is basically squeezed between the mountains and the sea.  As we twisted and turned along the way, our minds twisted and turned with the question of just where we were going and where would this journey end............

Friday, September 2, 2011

"We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight"

Cantwell RV "Park"-ing Lot
As we continue to head south, the weather has been great for traveling.  The sun keeps shining and there isn't too much wind though it's a bit chilly when we stop for a break.  We decided to spend a couple of days in an RV parking lot in Cantwell.  They call it an RV park, but that's definitely a "misnomer".  

As we were preparing to leave, the park owner mentioned that she was heading down to Homer for the winter.  She said it's a nice place to spend the winter, much warmer than Cantwell.  I quietly stored away another mention of Homer as this town has been brought up to us more than once.  

At this point, we feel the pressure of concern about the coming of winter even as we continue on in prayer seeking HIS Will and HIS provision in this matter.  We've been struggling with unbelief about staying in Alaska for the winter from the beginning.  It's just not a logical thing for full-time RV'er's to do, or so we think, as our thoughts tend to fly south.

Now that the time has come for us to settle in and prepare for that winter, we hear the roar of silence and we're left to wonder - did we hear wrong?  Our faith is on the line and the magnitude of what lies ahead of us hasn't escaped our imaginations.  We go back and forth from what HE has done for us in the past to the reassurance of HIS promises and yet, there's nothing to do at this point but watch and wait.  

After a brief respite in Cantwell, we head south to Wasilla to meet up with friends.  Even with the tension that we are struggling with, it's important to us to walk out our ministry and try to be an encouragement to others.  Sadly, our timing wasn't the best as our friends were out of town much of the time we were there.  We were able to share a wonderful meal with them on our last evening in Wasilla.  It was time to get back on the road and head south.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Denali National Park

Today finds us on another long and winding road heading south from Fairbanks.  We left Fairbanks under fair skies.  Our planned route would take us from Fairbanks to Anchorage through Denali National Park.  Needless to say, the camera was kept close to hand.  

The road stretched before us as we passed through endless forests and mountains that seemed barely touched by the hands of men.  The road was the only constant reminder that many others had passed this way before us.  It's funny to me how we find ourselves traveling down these nearly empty roads with the faith that somehow we would arrive at a place that we really wanted to be.  

The fall colors are coming forth in a dazzling array of golden yellows, brilliant oranges and deep maroon reds.  This is a side of Alaska that the summer tourists all miss in their haste to be gone before the snow flies.  It's also a powerful reminder of how fast time flies and how quickly the winter snows will be upon us.  I find myself thinking of an old fable about an ant and a grasshopper quite often these days.

As we marvel at the landscapes that are unrolling before us, we suddenly find ourselves face to face with the "granddaddy" of Alaska - Mount McKinley! There are mountain vistas and mountain views and glaciers and valleys everywhere we've traveled in Alaska.  Many of the mountains have kept their "snow bonnets" or perhaps a light dusting of snow throughout the summer.  The beauty of mountains has long been one of my favorite vistas.  None of this has prepared us for the magnificence that suddenly lies before us! 

As we drive southward through Denali National Park, we find ourselves playing "peek-a-boo"with this incredible mountain.  The road winds in and around the lesser peaks as the rivers and creeks play alongside.  The trees are thick along the roadside and we find ourselves craning our necks to see through every small break.  Each roadside pullout is a potential for a shot, or NOT! and the clouds add to the frustration of the game.  At any moment, a view could open up that would be completely obscured with passing clouds.  DannyLee is doing his best to try and catch every opportunity and we're grateful for the lack of traffic.  Anyone trying to follow us could have grounds for a serious case of road rage. 

We're amused to find that we're not alone in this game as we play leapfrog with other "photo hounds" seeking that one "perfect shot".  As we're heading south, we come upon a group of cars and photographers all standing in the middle of the road with these huge cameras.  Our rearview mirrors fail to reveal the "object" of their intense scrutiny and we could only know that it was Mt. McKinley that held their attention. 

I can't say that we got the "perfect shot", but we're satisfied with what we've got.  Everything managed to come together (or apart (clouds!)), as they say and Mt. McKinley shined forth wearing it's beautiful white snowcap.  It was a beautiful day! 

Mount McKinley

Monday, August 29, 2011

We Saw IT!!!

Yay!  YAY!!  We saw IT!!  We finally got to see IT!!  Happy, happy, happy day!

O.K! O.K!  I know you're wondering just what is "IT".  This is the one thing that we really looked forward to seeing from our first thoughts of coming to Alaska.  

No, it wasn't a polar bear.  (Though I would be interested in seeing one if the chance to do so arises.)

Enough stalling......................we finally got to see the Northern Lights!  

We were in Fox, AK which is north of Fairbanks.  We were staying in a little campground that was in a small valley and we were surrounded with mountain ridges on all sides.  About 1 a.m., DannyLee went outside to take Ariela for her final walk of the day.  It wasn't long before he came back and told me to come outside too.  I had an inkling that I was in for a treat and I wasn't disappointed.  

The sky was full of dancing green and blue rays to the north and there were these ribbon-like clouds all around our location.  The clouds to the south and east were white and it seems we might have missed the best of the show already, but for our first time, we were delighted and stood outside in simple wonder.  It was funny for us that we had just seen our first Alaskan rainbow the day before while in Fairbanks.  

It felt like YHVH Elohim was giving us a solid reminder that HE alone keeps HIS promises! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Another "Hope" Fulfilled!

While floating about in a pool of hot water puts a smile on my face, nothing does it for “my darling” like a vast expanse of perfect green grass dotted with “holes” – 18 of them, that is!

Alaska probably isn’t the first place that one would think of as a “golfer’s paradise”, but there are more golf courses here in this state than there are in the whole land of Israel. 

While that little “factoid” probably doesn’t mean much to the average person, to a “golf-nut” it can really be a determining factor.  However, having more golf courses doesn’t bring down the high cost of “playing a round” and the North Star Golf Club in Fairbanks doesn’t offer much in the way of a discount no matter what day of the week you play. 

Sometimes, you just “gotta do what ya gotta do” though and this was DannyLee’s first time back on the links since Knoxville, TN almost a year ago.  Considering that, his expectations for a great game weren’t all that high.  (Wi Golf just doesn’t do all that much for your golf swing!) 

He settled for nine holes and a walking cart to carry his bag and in the end, all I got to hear about was the cute young lady working at the clubhouse named Stephanie.  She was more than happy to help him with taking some pictures to commemorate his special day and she made quite an impression!  (YES!  I heard all about it!)
An Alaskan "foursome" for golf anyone!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The "Luxury" of a Hot Bath!

There aren’t a lot of roads in Alaska especially considering the vast size of the state.  Lots of people have warned us about the conditions of the roads and while it’s true that there are some really bad secondary roads and even some bad places on the main highways, we’ve been on far worse highways down in the lower 48.  The best advice for dealing with bad roads is the kind of advice that would work well for most of us anyway – slow down!

Since they have to build really long roads here, it seems that every road leads you to someplace that you just might want to go.  This road leads to the Chena Hot Springs Resort.  This is a very good road to go down.  The resort is located about 56 miles east of Fairbanks and the drive is truly worthwhile.  The one thing that always impresses me about traveling around in Alaska is that no matter where you go, city or country, you never lose sight of being in the wilderness of Alaska.  We really like that!

Now, I must confess that the real attraction to traveling down this road wasn’t just the beauty of the drive.  I’ve been hoping for a chance to make this trip since we came to AK.  I haven’t had a nice long soak in a hot bath for a very long time and the RV life doesn’t often provide for such things.  We couldn’t get there fast enough!

The hot water was hot.  The valley view was impressive and the cost of $10 a person for a day pass wasn’t that extravagant.  We really enjoyed having a dip in the “pool”.

One of our thoughts since we came here was to do a “mikvah”, but the icy waters of the Alaskan lakes and rivers combined with the leeches that inhabit such places kept us dry.  We were able to carry out our plan here in the clean and comfortable water.  What a joy to come before YHVH Elohim in such a way!  We were deeply blessed.
Chena Hot Springs Resort

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Wally World" campground in Fairbanks, AK?

"Wally World" campgrounds?
Heading north to Fairbanks for a welcome break from our summer's singing engagement was a real change from the cooler weather moving into the Tok area.  We were excited to be back on the road again even if it's only for a short time.  DannyLee's gotten a lot more comfortable with my more laidback "wandering" style of letting things come.  When we first hit the road, he'd work out detailed itineraries showing every gas stop and overnight place along the way.  This trip saw us on the road with only our Milepost close to hand. 

When we arrived at the "Wally World", we were both surprised to see what appeared to be electrical hook-ups in the parking lot.  AND the number of rigs parked across the back of the lot was pretty amazing too.  We couldn't see anywhere where anyone was actually "plugged in" and never having experienced winter in Fairbanks, the actual purpose of these plug-ins escaped us.  I "had to ask"!

So, here we are on our big shopping excursion and I make my way to the service desk.  The very helpful young man behind the counter carefully explained to me how 70 degrees below zero was death to a car.  He gave me a long story of how he managed to blow up two starters before he caught on to using an engine block heater to keep his car warm enough to start.

This wasn't some interesting way for "Wally World" to cash in or even provide any kind of "service" to their RV-ing "friends".  It was really all about taking care of their employees and who can fault them for that.  (Now, if those "Wally Worlds" in the lower 48 can catch on to this idea, how about providing some kind of shade in the parking areas.  We had that in Thailand and it's not all that hard to do AND much appreciated!)  

We definitely enjoyed our stay at "Wally World" and I'm happy to say that we even learned something new.  That always feels good!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's a "dog's life!

Alaskan Ari!

Rufff!  Rufff!!  It’s me – “Alaskan Ari” coming to you live from the wilderness!  I know it’s been a long time since you’ve got to hear from me.  My mom said she was going to let me have a say every now and then.  I guess she forgot.

SO!  Here I am in the wilds of Alaska living a “dog’s dream” life.  I had no idea what kind of adventures I was in for when the Whittle’s adopted me, but I haven’t wasted a minute being sorry.  I love my “gypsy life”!

Riding in the truck always brings new things to smell and new places to pee.  Going to Alaska has opened my eyes, ears and nose to so many new smells that it’s hard for me to stay inside the rig when we’re all at home.  I love to be outside watching and sniffing anytime that I can.

Chasing squirrels and rabbits is great fun and the few times that I’ve been allowed the freedom to run has been great.  I live for those moments.  I have seen some very large animals from the safety of my seat in the backseat of the truck.  I’m not sure I’m all that interested in getting a closer look.  All in all, I’d have to say in my eyes, life is good!