Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wesley Scott

Yesterday at 6:12pm after a LONG delivery, my sister became a mom. 
My mom became a grandmother (Marmie).
I became an aunt.
All for the first time.

Weighing in at 9lbs - a healthy baby boy - welcome to the world Wesley Scott Zimmermann!!

I can't wait to meet him!

Thursday, October 28, 2010 is so much different in the Alaskan winter. I cannot deny that by the time that we arrived back at the car I felt overwhelming relief.

It started by Adam, a co-worker/friend/neighbor/Bible study partner of Matt's, our new "wilderness" friend (I officially dubbed him that title) invited us to go camping on top of O'Malley Peak just outside of Anchorage. Matt cautiously asked me...assuming I'd quickly reject the idea (now why would he think that??)...but I decided it'd be fun and add to our Alaskan experience. Plus, we'd be hiking up to where the snow was residing. It would be great views of the city at night and I was assured that now is the perfect time to out in the back country because the bears are quickly stowing themselves away for hibernation. Wonderful. Let's go.

Friday after work and a quick bite for dinner, we packed the car. Adam, Kelly, Matt, myself and Mocha. My pack consisted of every winter apparel item I owned, some hot chocolate, bear spray, sleeping bag, a thermarest and about 3 nalgens full of water. Nothing like the essentials.

Gearing up to go!
About 6:30pm (a little later than planned) we start up the trail. It's dusk and darkness was quickly falling upon us. Since our eyes adjusted as we headed up, the headlamps were not essential until we got to the top. It was cold, but once we got moving we had to make frequent stops to shed the excess layers.

And then to my wonderful surprise a park ranger came strolling up past us on the the trail...

"Just wanted to warn you folks that there are a couple brown bears a little further up the trail. You guys be careful. Make some noise."

Yes, brown bears. As in grizzly bears.

And again a frequent thought in my head as of lately, "are you freaking kidding me!?!"

I thought they were going into hibernation. Not chilling on the trail we are hiking along.

My trip quickly went down from there. Or shall I say my mind games began spinning out of control. Every bush, rock and noise I heard of course I assumed it was the bears stalking us trying to figure out the best way to attack us by surprise. Funny enough, nobody else seemed even bothered by the announcement from our park ranger friend.

Fortunately, after a grueling hike up (only about 2 hours) we arrived at a fabulous place to set up camp. I have to say it was beautiful. The snow covered mountain tops were reflecting the moonlight on one side and the city lights were illuminating into the night sky on the other.

The wind was blowing really hard, so setting up the tents wasn't the easiest thing to do. We had to hunt and find boulders to anchor the tent down so it wouldn't fly away. After we got both tents set up, we had a party. We invited Adam and Kelly over to our domain.  Adam brought milk and his nifty little stove and we enjoyed some delicious hot chocolate and music (via iphones) as we were bundled up in our cozy tent. After a couple hours of just relaxing and enjoying each others company we headed to bed (aka - our respective tents and sleeping bags).

The view at night

Then when the morning finally came
I didn't think that the next 8 hours ahead of me were ever going to end. The cold was only a slight problem in the big scheme of things. I realized when the sun came out the next day that my thermarest had completely deflated during the night which may have contributed to my chilled-ness. I actually had dreams about waking up with the sun shining, hikers walking by and I was overjoyed. It saddened me when I got startled and realize that nope, it was still pitch black outside, everyone was sound asleep except me and then wind was still howling. I could swear that a bear was about to jump on top of our tent and attack.  At least my racing heart kept the blood flowing and my body warmer. :) There is a bright side to everything.

After about 2 total hours of sleep and 13 hours of darkness, the sun finally started rising about 8:30am and I woke Matt up and told him I couldn't take it anymore. Being the wonderful husband he is, he woke up with me and we decided to hike to the top of the next peak (with bear spray in hand) to enjoy the sunrise together. Our compadres were still fast asleep, so we journeyed up alone (with Mocha, of course). We hiked through the snow and found a big rock to enjoy the view.

Did I mention is was cold? Below freezing. Brr.
It was beautiful and made me forget the night I just endured.

Once our friends woke up, we heated up some hot water for coffee and oatmeal, packed things up for the day and said goodbye to our campsite. 

Wouldn't be complete without a photo shoot to document:)

the whole gang
Matt, Me, Kelly, Adam
(and Mocha)

Hiking the ridge line back

The steep climb down
We were back at the car by lunch, just in time to get home and showered before our Saturday of activities began.  Though I was terrified at moments, I'm glad we went!  Truly was an experience, one I'm sure will be repeated before our time is up in Alaska.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Four months

Four months since we stepped off the plane into the bright 11pm sunlight to which we would call home.  Four months since we checked into our dirty, mirror-filled wall, too gross to walk barefoot motel room "home".  Four months since we traded in our hot, humid climate and fast-paced city life for cold, rainy weather in a small, mountainous community.  Four months since we could jump in the car and drive to any loved one's home as our hearts desired to now needing to financially plan a 10 hour flight to get anywhere familiar.

Nothing like losing all comforts. 

Some days I realize that I live in one of the most amazing, beautiful places on Earth. 

Other days I don't know how I'm going to survive the next several years ahead of me. 

People ask us all the time how we are adjusting since moving from Houston to Anchorage.  It would be hard to beat more a diverse change within the US.  Our typical response to these people is "we love it!" - then we talk about some recent adventure we just experienced.  I believe that the more positively you speak the more positively you'll think and visa versa.  I'm not lying when I say we enjoy living up here, but I won't neglect that there are challenges either.  The problem with social media is that it allows life to be portrayed in any way you want it to appear no matter how accurate it actually is...
Life isn't perfect like it can be made out to be.
(Though complaining all the time doesn't help anything either.)

I'm one who treasures real people.  So here's my realness.

I wouldn't say moving to Alaska has been bad.  It's just been different.

Different is good.  I love change.  New places and experiences.  It's exciting.  It's adventurous. It's also humbling and challenging.  It strips routine, familiarity, comforts.  It forces me to cling to the God who in six days created all this unfathomable beauty outside my window. 
So as the days get shorter, the weather gets colder and the realities of living in Alaska set in, I have to decide how I am going to handle it.

I want to embrace it.  Live like a tourist, but invest in a community.  Keep focus on who is in control of it all and that He is good and has a plan.  It's only going to last a short while, as everything here on Earth does. I want to look back and see how God used this time in our lives to shape us individually and as a family.  Because I know He will.  And that alone will make all this worth it...and having fun while doing it never hurt anyone. :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

It's coming...

...winter, that is.  Slowly (or shall I say rather quickly) it is heading our direction.  Thankfully, fall has been absolutely beautiful. 
It snowed a couple weeks ago in town (in September!), just flurries, but it still counts in my book.  The mountains are now covered with "termination dust" - Alaskan lingo for the terminating warmth. 

Alaska has some strange lingo. 

Like if you are going "outside" they don't literally mean outdoors, they mean traveling outside of Alaska, such as to lower 48.  And who knew that they had a beef with Texas?  I guess people up here think Texas is trying to prove itself as a big and better state forcing Alaska to fight back - but born and raised in the Lone Star State I never heard of such rivalry. Alaska might be big, but I can contest that there is not much up here except these beautiful mountains! However, I could get you a t-shirt or two about the rivalry, if you so desired.

The longer I'm here the more I realize how different it is in so many aspects - sometimes I feel like I'm living in a foreign country. 

Anyways, here is a picture from Matt's office building downtown.  Would make spending 8-9 hours a day there a little easier, right?  There is more snow on the mountains now.  Each day the white is moving down and closer.  Rather pretty, but I'm not sure if my perpetually cold body is ready for this Alaskan winter. On the bright side, here in about a month we'll be able to use our new skis!
A fire burning in the living room fireplace brings my heart joy.  Not much else can make a place feel as cozy.  So it's a good thing we stocked up on firewood - or as much as our little backyard could hold. We've gotten pretty good at this building a fire the second we walk through the door from work routine.  Not sure how long this stash will last, but I'm sure enjoying it until then.

I'm not sure what time that picture was taken, but the days are getting shorter and shorter and shorter.  I try to not pay attention to what time the sun comes and goes (denial is easier at times), but I can tell you that it doesn't stick around as much anymore.  Happy Light? Yes, please.

Then I realized on a walk the other day we were the only chimney with smoke coming out of it.  I'm not ashamed.  Though I think our neighbors might think we are a bit ridiculous, being it technically hasn't been below freezing yet.  That's ok with me - as long as I'm warm. :)