Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Hanukkah 2014

I woke up this morning with the idea that we needed a "family portrait" for Hanukkah.  HA!

Just imagine trying to MAKE the cat AND the dog cooperate for such a thing.  Neither of them were in the mood for doing anything that we wanted them to do.  (Of course, if we had gone into the bedroom just to sit on the bed by ourselves, they both would have been eager to join us......)

Then, as we're trying to figure out how to place the camera here and there, (since we're only two people and I actually wanted to BE in the picture too),  we couldn't get a single picture with both of us doing the same thing at the same time (we gave up on the "family" part after a couple of "wrestling matches" with the "kids").  

Every time I ran over to "jump" into the picture, I messed up my hair or one of us was looking the wrong way and I'm trying to give DannyLee instructions the whole time that only confused and confounded him.  

AND, of course, the camera battery chooses this exact same moment in time to declare "death is imminent" and since we were dependent on the flash........

THEN I figured out that the only programs that I have on my sub-computer won't support JPeG files so I had to do the little banner (and hopefully, NO ONE will notice the alternative spelling of "Hanukah" there (except ME!)) and then print the photo and then photograph the print to get a JPeG file that I could upload to the blogsite.  (Thankfully, I managed to "fix" this part of my "mess"!)

Hmmm.....(maybe I should have gone into ya think?)

Bottom line is:  "I tried"!
Hopefully tomorrow, I'll wake up with a better idea!

Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quilting in Alaska Part Two

Making my first quilt made me very aware of my personal faults and my limitations.  I like making things, but I'm somewhat of a perfectionist and I can get very frustrated when I can't do things exactly right.  That has led to lots of unfinished projects that got set aside when they didn't go the way I wanted them to go.  Since I started these quilts with the intention of actually finishing them, I had to push through that character flaw.  

As for limitations, my equipment is pretty basic and well-used.  The rail fence quilt required me to sew strips together and then cut them into 6-inch squares.  That seemed simple enough until I came up against another personal problem - I HATE ironing.  I will do anything to get around having to iron anything and with quilting - that's a BIG problem!

I quickly learned that not ironing every seam out as I went along caused my 6-inch squares to be anything but 6 inches and there was no way to "fudge" my way around that.  The only thing that saved me from having a horribly "skewed" quilt was that it was only a baby-sized quilt. If it had been any bigger, my end result would have been far worse than it turned out.  

The other problem that tripped me up right away was the only way I had to cut my squares was with scissors and a school ruler.  When you're working with small pieces, a miss-cut can also skew your quilt blocks.  I figured the only way around this problem was to choose a different quilt pattern for my second quilt.  

I went back to Liz's quilt pattern e-book for inspiration and picked the simplest pattern - the stripey quilt.  To add more interest to my new hobby, DannyLee asked me to make quilts for his new grandson and his granddaughter too.  Still glowing with the success of making a baby quilt, I happily agreed.  YIKES again!

I had a lot of thoughts in the beginning about Liz's description of this quilt being "simple" and they weren't happy thoughts.  You start this quilt by sewing forty 42-45" strips of cloth together end to end.  I ended up with a big LOOONNNGGG strip that I didn't know how it was ever going to become a "quilt".  It wasn't like I could just lay this all out on the floor (You can do the math here! My "math brain cell" goes to sleep at midnight.).  I managed not to panic.

As I walked out the instructions, (with LOTS of ironing!), I started to see a quilt emerging and I got really excited.  On one hand, I could see that I was making a quilt.  On the other hand, I couldn't see anything about it that was really special.  So, I decided to unleash my "creativity brain cell" on this project and see just how far I could go with this quilt. 

One of the fabrics had little monkeys on it and I had some "bits" left over from cutting the squares for the rail fence quilt.  As I looked at my "bits", suddenly I saw little pockets.  I LOVE pockets and pockets on a quilt?  Why not??  I had found something that would make my quilt special.  I designed little pockets and backed them with flannel so that toys and papers and such would be more inclined to stay inside.  I also quilted the pockets before I sewed them on the quilt face.  

I didn't make a bed-sized quilt.  The instructions said it would be something like 50"x 64".  I never actually bothered to measure it.  The picture below has DannyLee on his knees on our bed holding it up and he's 6'3" so it's plenty big enough to me.  

"Monkey Shines"

I didn't have a big enough piece of flannel for the backing, and I didn't want to cut up a blanket as I wanted this one to have the same kind of look and feel as the baby quilt as they both went to the same branch of the family tree.  I did have two pieces of flannel that I liked so I decided to piece them together in a more interesting way that just sewing them together with one seam.  

The back of "Monkey Shines"
I did put an edging on this one and after I did that, I tried to "quilt" the thing using "stitch in a ditch" like I'd done on the baby quilt.  "NO GO" on that!  If you look closely at the back, you can see how that went "south" on me right off the bat.  The flannel is too soft and stretchy and I couldn't keep it from slipping away from me.  I fell back to using bits of yarn to tie it all together which was far more fun.  

I was sad at this point that I had "ruined" all my work but the truth is that it wasn't a fatal error and unless you put the quilt down and smoothed it all out to look for my mistakes (or I told you), most people probably wouldn't even notice (or so I can hope!).  Anyway, it's only my second quilt and I've learned a lot from every mistake.

Happily, my great-grandson probably won't care and with the little toys and gifts that I put in each pocket for him, I highly doubt that the quilt will get all that much attention anyway.  So, I'm back to my sewing machine and I'm already well on my way with quilt number three with big plans for quilts number four and five!  

Happy Quilting!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quilting in Alaska - au Natural!

 So, here I am in Alaska and it's winter and I'm wondering what am I going to do to keep myself busy and as I'm wondering, a phone call from my son reveals that I'm about to have a second great-grandson. 

That got me to wondering what I could send him as a gift that would be special from "me".  And that led me to think about all the things that I loved about my grandmother and that got me to thinking about QUILTS!

The 1st Quilt my Grandmother Made for me.

My grandmothers all made quilts and quilting in Alaska is a natural pairing in my mind.  I love to sew and I sewed a lot when I lived in Thailand, but one of the biggest challenges was the heat.  I always found myself sweating all over my "projects".  Making a quilt just never made any kind of sense.  But here in AK, keeping warm is a bonus and sewing definitely keeps you warm.  It can be a lot of work!  

The 2nd Quilt my Grandmother made for me.  This is called a "wedding ring" quilt.
The funny thing is that as I started learning how to quilt, I found that it also was a fun way to think about my grandmother and her life and all of the quilts that I have and have had in my life.  A quilt is not meant to be just some old blanket.  It starts out as a labor of love (I'm talking about real quilts made in homes here not factory products.) and probably carries far more weight in memories for the maker than anyone realizes.  

As I agonized over the "how-to's" and the little mistakes and the BIG mistakes, I also considered the parallels of life and the mysteries of the ages.  I'd say it's not a hobby to be done while sitting mindlessly in front of the TV.  My brain and my body both had to be totally engaged every minute or disaster lurked in the folds and seams to be discovered at the point of "too late" and "how do I fix that"!

My first beloved quilt came from my step-grandmother who lived in Indiana.  I can't really say for sure that she made it or even how it came to be in my possession.  I just know that old roughly made quilt meant a lot to me.  It wasn't beautiful or soft.  It was made of a coarse, scratchy material like old work shirts in shades of brown, gray and black backed with a piece of red and black flannel.  It was tied with bits of yarn.  I treasured that quilt for years until it finally fell apart.  It passed from my life but its memory remains.  

My Mom is a "collector" of quilts and has quite an eclectic collection of her own.  I was very happy to find this "treasure" in my Mom's pile of quilts last winter.  It's not particularly beautiful and she had no idea who made it or where it came from at all.  It's obviously homemade from a rough polyester fabric (like old work shirts!) and the backing is an old blanket that's soft and cuddly.  Finding this one was like getting my old "favorite" back!

This is my "go-to" quilt and stays on top of my quilt pile......

when I can wrest it from "the cat"!

As my second great grandson prepares himself to come into this broken world, I decided I better do something simple in the hopes that I could get it made before he entered high school.  The idea of using "jelly rolls" caught my fancy just by the sound of the name alone "jelly rolls" - what's not to like about that!  I never had the chance to learn anything about quilting from my Grandmother so it was up to me and my internet skills to figure this all out.

Fortunately, I stumbled across a website by Liz Katsura and she provides a wonderful set of patterns and instructions and even help for the helpless though I didn't have to push that "button".  I sent in an order for a few rolls that had a "boy" theme and some color.

I picked a simple looking "rail fence" pattern for my first quilt.  I decided that denim was going to be my "signature" so I used that as my "anchor".  I wanted my quilts to be unique to my own personal style.  I also love the idea of soft and cuddly so I went to the thrift store in Fairbanks and bought up a bunch of Snuggly fleece lap blankets for the backing.  

It was time to snuggle up to my Grandmother's sewing machine and put all of my skills to the test.  I didn't have any fancy quilting tools.  It was just me, the machine, a pair of scissors and an old gummy ruler from school supplies.  YIKES!

My First Quilt!

Of course, this story just can't end here.  I made this little quilt for my second great grandson.  That got me to thinking that I better make one for my first great grandson too.  However, he's five now so I knew I wasn't going to be able to just make him a baby quilt.  

Making the baby quilt took me three weeks (NOT in actual work time) and I feared the lessons that I learned here weren't going to help me with a bigger quilt.  I did know that I liked quilting, but I still had a lot to learn.  It was back to the drawing board for the next design and a story for another day............

Friday, December 12, 2014

Time Stands Still or Life Goes On?

A Warm December Day in Alaska
 You haven't lived until you've sat in your easy chair and listened to wolves howling in the darkness outside your house!  There's nothing quite like that!

As the days continue to grow shorter, it almost seems as if time has come to a standstill.  We have our daily tasks of hauling wood and keeping up with the house and the "kids" and then, there's everything else......  

We're down to a few hours of daylight at this point but as you can see, we still have some beautiful "sunshiny" moments. The weather has left us with little to complain about as the snow has come in manageable amounts and despite the reading on our silly thermometer, it's really been quite warm for this time of year.  (Our thermometer is off about 10 to 15 degrees or so.)  Our postman says that he's still waiting for winter to arrive.  We're just happy with what we've got right now. DannyLee says that he can live with this.  

Our Pellet Stove
 We've had a lot of fun "doing projects" around the house and as this is my first "own" house in a long time, I'm having a great time redecorating (which for me means moving stuff around to make it all look different!)  

This summer we moved our pellet stove into the kitchen (with a little help from our friends (okay, okay, a LOT of help!)), to push a little more heat towards the back of the house where the bathroom is located. There's nothing fun about getting up in the middle of the night and finding that the pipes in the bathroom have frozen up (like last year).  

I'm doing a lot more home cooking as it's too far to go anyplace where someone might cook something for me and that's been a lot of fun.  It's really changed the way we eat AND the way that we think about food.  We've also given up soda pop and artificial sweeteners and processed food.  It basically means that I have to do a lot more food preparation, but cooking meals in bulk and freezing them in portions is a good way to add more heat to the house.  

We've replaced soda with kefir water, but we're not giving up our iced tea.  Making kefir water is kind of like having another "pet" in the house as the kefir grains have to be fed and kept warm and washed and then you still have to make the kefir water itself.  I've finally gotten it down to a simple routine.  They love "snuggling" up to the warm woodstove, but not too close!

On a sad note, my old laptop that I bought in Thailand in 2006 finally gave up the ghost.  I did manage to save all my pictures, artwork and documents, but all my programs are just plain gone and they're irreplaceable.  I confess that it really hurt, but life goes on and for now I'm working on this tiny little notebook.  It basically has internet access and a dinky little keyboard that makes typing into an adventure, but it's good enough for me.

Losing my computer has caused me to take up a new hobby and I'm really excited about it.  I'll be talking a lot more about that in my next post.  As an added incentive, I'm excited to announce that soon I will be a great-grandmother for the second time.  My dad asked me if that makes me feel old.  I don't think so!!

DannyLee is busy working on his music between mauling and hauling firewood.  He's very excited with the new songs that he has written and practices them several times a day!  We're trying to figure out a way to make them available via the internet if we can actually record them with the equipment that we have here.  All I can say is that he hasn't lost his touch!  
DannyLee Working "It"!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sukkot - The Last "Great" Day

Where or where did the summer go...............
 This sad little picture is Ariela's good-bye to summer which mirrors our sadness at coming to the end of Sukkot.  She doesn't understand the cycle of the seasons whether they be natural or spiritual and she's not a big fan of snow and ice (ditto for DannyLee!).  Her love is the freedom and the adventure of the outdoors.  Alaskan winters can be a trial for anyone, even a dog!

We celebrated the last "great" day of Sukkot with a "feast" of roasted turkey, baked squash, stuffing and gravy and pumpkin spice cake and my favorite little pumpkin rolls.  

Sukkot 2014
We're grateful to be able to put such a feast on the table at a time when so many are doing without and going hungry.  It's hard not to think of the suffering in the world these days.  When we fasted for Yom Kippur, we experienced only a few hours of hunger and it was uncomfortable, but only uncomfortable.  We can only wonder at how we will endure during the Great Tribulation when the urge to complain will seem overwhelming as 3 1/2 years in no way compares to a single day.  

Our thoughts on this last "great" day caused us to question what have we learned during this Torah cycle and how has it changed our lives.  We both agreed that this year was more significant than all the years before as we caught the confirmations over and over again for the Greater Exodus.  Each year that we study the Torah, it has changed us and drawn us to a deeper love of our FATHER in heaven.  

We struggled with so many questions this past year about our path and the difficulties that we seem to have to face over and over again.  We've wept and rejoiced and found ourselves overwhelmed time and time again as HE answered our fears, our concerns and our questions through each Torah study.  

The bottom line for us is, however, that as we face the start of a new Torah cycle, our feelings are joy, excitement and anticipation for the new things that HE will be revealing in this coming year.  So we find ourselves back to "In the beginning..." and we turn our faces forward to see just how HE will once again reveal to us "the end from the beginning".  

Be strong, be strong and be strengthened!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sukkot 2014 Alaskan Style

It's Sukkot - our season of joy!  And as to be expected, we're dealing with lots of snow at this time.  One of the first tasks that DannyLee faced was to dig us out a path to our sukka.  We don't have enough propane to keep our sukka warm for more than a few hours a day so we're spending that time in there reading aloud the Book of Deuteronomy.  As we sit in there enjoying our reading time and memories, it's clear to both of us that we haven't outgrown our RV and would welcome HIS call at any time to get back out there "on the road again".  

The rest of the time, we find ourselves dealing with the daily tasks of hauling wood from the woodpiles to the house as the temperatures slowly slide down the scale towards winter.  Some silly "scientist" tried to make "news" out of saying that winter was coming early to Alaska in October.  We've had snow since mid-September.  I'm not sure where these "so-called scientists" get their "facts" but it's not from the most basic of scientific skills called "observation".
Taken 9/22/2014
 This year we're going to try to generate as much of our own heat from our own trees as possible.  We have a large wood storage shed, piles and piles of cut logs all over our property, dozens of fallen trees just waiting to be cut into logs and dozens more that are still standing till that next "big" gust of wind comes blasting through.

This is the first time that we've taken out the chain saw and actually taken down some of the more dangerous "leaners" that threaten to take out anyone aimlessly walking through the woods.  It's not the most fun activity, but we're trying to be very careful and safe as we learn how best to fell these "beasts" without becoming a casualty in the process.  

DannyLee has become quite proficient with the "maul" and has worked his way through half the wood shed and several piles of cut logs in the months of August, September and a bit of October.  It's harder to maul wood with snow on the ground, but as we try to figure out just how much wood is going to be "enough", it seems that he may have to spend some time out there in the snow too. 


He has already broken the head off of our first maul which was a gift from our friends Jim & Dine in Louisiana.  Don't worry ya'll!  He managed to get a lot of use out of it before he finally broke it's "neck".  We've replaced it with a maul with a fiberglass handle and bought a new handle to repair the other one when I can get to it.  

I have to confess that I don't quite have the "knack to whack" that he's got.  It can take me 10 or more hits/misses to break a single log which makes me pretty much useless in that area.  I make up for it by doing more of the hauling and loading and stacking work.  

We've managed to build up quite a stack on two sides of the garage which we've given over to storing wood and wood pellets for our pellet stove.  It's just not worth it to try and "shoe horn" in the gold truck when the snow makes it impossible to get the doors fully open and the burgundy truck is definitely a "no way"!

In honor to this time of "feasting", I'm concentrating on preparing "campfire" types of gourmet meals.  So far we've enjoyed roasted chicken, chili burgers and tuna sandwiches.  We plan to end the feast with a large turkey dinner.  My best creation has been a honey lemon cake that nearly brought tears to our eyes it was so "over the top" good.  Also on the list for the coming days are homemade humus and pita bread and tamale pie.  Food is a big part of the "joy of feasting" for us!

The "kids" sure do enjoy a good fire!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Slipping Past Purim into Pesach Preparations

 There's something special about coming into the springtime!  Spring is actually my favorite change of all of the seasons.  That old saying "Spring is in the air" has held true no matter where I've lived.  

Warmer days, more rain, more sunshine....this is the time of year when I can actually feel myself looking for a fresh start, a new beginning, and seek improvements in myself, my home and the weather.  

Here in Alaska, it's not the weather although I have to admit that temps like these here are becoming a thing of the past as we're more likely to see that needle more inclined to hang around the zero mark.  While we're not getting much above freezing at this point, anything above zero seems like a nice day to us.  

We can't really complain about the weather this year as we've seen one of the warmest winters ever since we've been here.  That needle did drop down real close to that "T" a couple of times, but nothing like we were forewarned could happen.  Everyone wanted to share with us the dreaded days of 70 to 90 below that has been recorded in this area in the past.  

Going into the winter for the first time in the Interior, we had to deal with some very real fears:  "Could we keep the house warm enough?  Would the electricity go off leaving us without heat?  Did we have enough wood pellets and diesel to survive?  Did we have what it takes to make it through a long, cold, dark winter on our own?  The answers are obvious as I'm here to make another post on our blog.

The greatest joy of springtime, however, is the advent of the spring feasts.  Purim is the wake-up call that Pesach is only a month a way and preparations for Pesach must start NOW.  The house must be cleaned and matza must be stocked up for the Feast of UnLeavened Bread.  The lamb or goat that we will have for our meal must be sought out and that's not always an easy task with our limited choices.  It's not like that's something I can just order on the internet like matza, eh?

The Scriptures must be read and re-read in order to determine what's leaven for us this year and how has our understanding changed on this after another year of Torah study.  We'll dig out our Haggadah from last year and check our notes for all the little things we'll need like bitter herbs and the makings of charoset (the mortar).  

On top of all of this, we have to consider whether or not this Pesach finds us prepared to face the Greater Exodus or have we been given the blessing of another year to refine our plans and preparations.  As we've moved another year closer to the return of our Messiah and King, we have to stop and ask ourselves are we more ready than we were this time last year.  

AND, as we watch our cat lie down and play with our dog, we have to wonder what it will be like in the Kingdom when the lion will lie down with the calf.............


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Moving Up to Four Wheel Drive

One of the first lessons that we learned in our first winter in Alaska was that although we loved our Ford pick-up and it was great at pulling our rig wherever we wanted to go, two wheel drive just wasn't going to make it for getting around in the snow and ice.  

We made it through our first two winters by using chains and limiting our driving to just around town, but that was a bit frustrating and dangerous. More than once, the chains would work their way loose and even managed to slip off a couple of times. 

The situation became even more troublesome when we found ourselves moving away from the "Banana Republic of Alaska - Homer" to the Interior where the weather and the snow was known to be far more of a problem.  There's no way to avoid having to drive many miles on snowbound and/or icy roads let alone the basic challenge of getting out of our own driveway to get to the road.  Staying "home" all winter just wasn't going to be possible or all that practical.  While the internet helps a lot in creating lots of ways to buy simple necessities, it still requires a trip to the post office to complete the deal.   

SO, we decided that it was time to look around and find a four-wheel drive truck to add to our family.  There was never a question (in my mind, DannyLee is a little more open-minded on this issue) that we would buy another Ford and since we already have a diesel and like our diesel truck that we would look for another diesel engine.  

We originally started looking for another 7.3 liter engine, but the age factor and their popularity along with the fact that we already had one made us look for a newer model.  The cost of trucks these days is outrageous and they seem to be holding onto their value as the newer trucks become even more expensive and extravagant.  

In the end, Elohim kept this truck before us until we were ready to buy and this became the one that we drove home.  You can see that washing the truck has not yet become a priority as it's not as easy as rolling out a hose in below zero temps.  

The first modification that this truck required was the addition of two more heaters on the batteries and the transmission to ensure that it would start when we needed it.  We have a great mechanic that knows a lot about trucks and is very familiar with ours as DannyLee is keen on preventive maintenance.  

The last (hopefully, for a while) modification was the installation of our new Sparebumper.  I learned about this little safety device on one of the Ford forums and I just had to have one.  Tailgaters and careless parkers are high on my list of "pet peeves" and this little addition is supposed to be a deterent to both.  I hope that we never have to fully find out how effective it is, but it's there if we need it.  (Thanks Jeff!)   

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Winter Weary Writing Wonders!

Writing has always been an important part of my life.  

When I lived in Thailand, I wrote down my thoughts in dozens of journals. Sadly, those journals were destroyed in my return to the States. Countless times I've wished that it could have been otherwise, but my circumstances in those days were difficult.  

I've truly enjoyed writing out the stories of our travels, trials and testaments here in our Tsiyon Bound blog.  Our blog doesn't have a wide circulation or lots of "followers" to talk about, but it's ours and we delight in it.  

Our efforts to share our Torah thoughts and studies on our Torah Time blog have been a lot more challenging and have seen a lot less fruitfulness.  It hasn't been the study tool for us that we had hoped it would be.  It's out there though, and there are a few people that have browsed through it.  

The "crown jewel", however, of all of my blogging experiences is my "book".  

The story of how I came to believe in the Torah and how it changed my life is chronicled in my book/blog:  "Torah-morphosis - Transforming A Life With HIS Word". 

This is my personal story that spans years of searching for truth and relationship with the CREATOR - YHVH Elohim and HIS Son Yeshua HaMaschiach.  I began this blog in 2010 as a way of reaching out a helping hand to others that found themselves struggling to learn the "Torah-walk".  

I wished that it could have been a book or that it could have been more widely shared, but FATHER knows HIS plans and HIS purposes so all I can do is try to be faithful in writing.  So, with that in mind, I wanted to post here for those that might be interested in knowing more about Torah that I have been spending some time updating and expanding my "book".

I pray that it will be a blessing to those that need a blessing in this day!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Traveling the AlCan in Winter

Driving in winter is rarely fun from my perspective since the worst conditions always seem to be connected to the "need for speed".  There wasn't any room for "speed" on this trip since "safety" was always at the forefront of our thoughts.  

Trying to get somewhere in a hurry with roads like this is madness. Trying to drive over 4,000 miles gave us a whole new perspective on insanity.  To compound our stress level, we added a new (to us) vehicle with all the peculiarities that come with it.  'Tis far better to be familiar with the mechanics and foibles of your truck before taking it on a long, hazardous journey.  (Ah well, another life lesson that got left in the ditch somewhere along the way.)

Time to take a lesson from the buffalo as they plodded quietly alongside of the highway with the simple worry of finding grass enough to fill their bellies.  These fine animals appeared to have no interest in all of the cares that we dragged along the road.  

Traveling from Tennessee to Alaska in the summer is a very long drive.  It can be a wonderful drive.  There's a wide variety of scenery, lots of animals to discover and an interesting array of natural and manmade things to stop along the way to check out.  The first time we made this trip, we took months and stopped many times to camp, visit friends and explore a few things here and there.  Our blog is full of stories of our first trip up the AlCan (Alaska Highway).  

This trip was quite different.  We were pressed into a winter trip by circumstances beyond our control.  The things that we could control didn't include the timing and our need to get back home ASAP.  The other thing that wasn't under our control was the weather and it was basically against us as much as possible.  

We faced snow, wind, icy roads and extreme cold.  

In Missouri, we experienced for the first time ever the "joy" of "diesel jelly".  After spending 2 1/2 winters in Alaska, this came as a surprise even though we know that such a thing can happen, it hasn't ever happened even at 40+ below.  To have it happen around zero degrees was baffling and a bit unsettling as we knew that far colder temps were ahead of us.  

Fortunately, we froze up on the highway right outside the town of Wright. To say that we were in the "Wright" place at the right time wouldn't be an understatement.  

From the trooper that stepped up and kept us safe on the highway until the tow truck could reach us to the mechanic at Tony's shop (pictured below) that got our truck "ungelled" and got us back on the road, we are very, very grateful.  So a very heartfelt thanks goes out to that trooper and Daryl (the tow truck driver) and his boss that got us to Tony's shop and his mechanic that went the extra distance to make sure that we would get back out on the road safely.  

Our adventure didn't end there, that was only the beginning of the challenges that we were destined to face.  A freak snowstorm hit us in Wyoming and caught us and everyone else completely off guard.  We'd made it past Cheyenne and were hoping to make Montana when it started to snow heavily.  

Traveling up a steep road, we suddenly found ourselves sliding down the highway sideways.  Knowing what to do, I took my foot off the gas and turned the wheel into the slide.  We continued to slide.  So much for knowing what to do........

We eventually slid to a stop in the ditch with the truck and the trailer unharmed.  As the LORD was watching out for us, within minutes, another "angel" appeared to help us back onto the road.  Much to our chagrin, although chagrin in no way compares to the gratitude we felt, a Chevy truck hooked up to our tow hook on the front of our Ford and jerked us back onto the pavement.  Our thanks again goes out to this young man and his wife that cared enough to stop and help us get back on our way.

I could probably stop here and let you think that the rest of our journey was uneventful.  Well, no, that wasn't the case.  There's way too much road left and no one could think that we'd learned enough "lessons" yet.  It seems that the one lesson that we can't get away from is the one that dogged us at every turn.  

From the buffalo to the ice, there was one overriding thought that kept chewing on our tail - take it slow and easy.  While we felt extremely pressed to try and get home as quick as we could, there was no way to change the facts on the ground.  Speed wasn't going to work in our favor.  
We had started the trip with a plan, a daily allotment of miles that would get us home in five days.  From day one, we found ourselves falling farther and farther behind our "plan".  Our only concession was that HIS timing is always perfect and we can't always see the reasons that HE has for the delays that come along in life.  

Our desire to get home really kicked in when we reached the Alaska Highway.  The options for stopping really thin out after Fort Nelson and gas becomes the overriding concern.  There aren't many places to stop for gas and wisdom dictates that you carry some along with you.  We had 20+ gallons of diesel as a backup.  

We made the decision in Fort Nelson to press through the next 1,000+ miles tag team driving in order to make up for all of our delays.  It was a bad decision in hindsight as neither of us dared sleep for fear that the other would fall asleep too.  We ended up way over tired and found ourselves very glad to have the road basically to ourselves.  We had to keep pulling off the road to take little naps that didn't last long enough.  

By the time we got to the Yukon, temperatures had dropped into the 30 below range and the truck started acting up.  The transmission refused to shift out of first gear so we found ourselves traveling through the wilderness at 20 mph.  The slow speed warmed the transmission and it would work again for a short time and then freeze up again.

With the deadly temperatures and the isolation of the wilderness, we dared not stop so we crawled across the frozen terrain with prayer on our lips and peace in our hearts that HE was watching over us at all times. We made it home eight days after we set out on our journey.  It's always good to go home, amen?