Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dry Cabin "Plumbing"/Daily Life

Wyatt & Oak in the tub playing with cups

 We live in what is refered to as a dry cabin which means that we have no running water. Therefore we have no conventional plumbing. We actually set up the kitchen sink this summer to drain into a grey water tank but that wont work in the winter as the line going out just freezes. Heat tape would work but requires more power to run than we have available. You can see that the kids are bathing in a galvenized tub. The sink has a container with a spigot on each side for water and a conected drain going down into a bucket which must be emptied. The honey pot or thunder mugs have been set up to slide into a wooden frame with cushion seats. We made them at two levels one for the boys and one for Lisa and us big folk. Ken and I are still using the outhouse with the exception of late night calls. We also have a training potty seat upstairs and one downstairs for the boys. The one downstairs is used as a little boy urinel because Wyatt prefers to pee standing up. We just leave the lid and seat off it for him. You can kinda see it in the picture it's sitting behind the lower honey pot. Water for bathing and washing dishes is heated on the wood cookstove.

Kitchen Sink

Honey Pots in a Frame with cushion seats

For entertainment we watch movies usually on one of the two 7" screen dvd players. These are the kind that you mount on the back of your car seat so that the kids in the back can watch them. they are 12V and we have them hooked into a battery that sits on top of the propain stove that is currently just an added counter/cabnet space. I also have a small MP3 plyer that I hook into some little battery powered speakers so that we can dance around the house. This is of coarse when we aren't outside playing in the snow. Taking turns being pulled on the sled behind the ATC. It's all good fun, for a sled we've been using the old hood off my 69 chevy it's all good until you crash ;)

If we are feeling like a treat we'll watch a movie on the "BIG" 19" screen instead. This TV is hooked into the 6 battery bank located in the breezway. It is charged by a set of RV solar panels and or a generator. Off of this bank we run: the "BIG" TV, charge my computer, charge other baterries, and run our only electric lights wich are in the kitchen (2 LED Lights) which use a total of 5 Watts. I've asked Ken to build me a stationary bike generator so that I can help creat power durring the winter. All he needs is to find an alternator thats in good shape. Even the kids could help by pushing the petels around for fun.


RV Solar panels on front porch
6 Battery Bank inside front door

2 LED Light 2.5W each
We've been working hard gathering wood. We found a patch near the back of the property of standing dead. Ken went back and cut some and I helped by hauling the logs out on a sled. Talk about hard work, I'm even more determined now to get at least one sled dog. This week Ken is in Manley taking an ETT class which is pretty easy for him so far as he was already a nationaly certified EMT but he let his certification expire just before we left AZ. It gives him a week off from the heavy lifting ;)

 I do alot of cooking and baking though not as much as I would really like to do. I make homemade breakfast bars and or muffins once a week to eat in the mornings. Lunch is usually something simple like sandwiches and crackers. Dinner I try to make a big meal because Ken is always starving. Two of my favorites lately have been Moose roast that you could cut with a fork and Sweet and Sour Chicken. I'm hoping to start baking bread but I've been kinda lazy about it since we've had store bought sliced bread in the freezer. I need to start baking some fresh bread though to make the sandwich bread stretch. Maybe today after I wash the dishes. We'll see what other chores I can find for myself.


The roast I slow cooked all day on the woodstove in my dutch oven. I lowered the oven into one of the removable burners and burnt a low fire all day. I put in olive oil, a can of evaporated milk, water, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a handful of dried chopped onion, garlic and sea salt. I also added a can of sliced carrotts and some cubed potatoes.

Sweet & Sour Chicken With Fried Rice Bush Style

The Sweet and Sour chicken was an adaptation of a Betty Crocker recipe. I chopped 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts. I put in a fry pan: the chicken, olive oil, dried bell pepper (handfull), and dried chopped onion (handfull). The juice from the chicken and the olive oil plumped up the peppers and onions. Then I took a can of Pinnaple drained it set the juice aside. I mixed with the juice 2 Tbsp Cornstarch, 6 Tbsp Vinager, and 2 Tbsp of Honey. Then I added the pinnaple and sauce to the chicken and cooked a couple minutes until it was warmed and the sauce had thickened. I made with this Fried rice. I just cooked the brown rice as usual accept I added soy sauce to the water and added a can of peas before removing from the stove. I cooked 2 eggs worth of dried egg product (per container instructions) and mixed into rice after removing from heat. Vwalla Sweet and Sour chicken over fried rice Bush Style.lol...

Breakfast Bars

My breakfast bars I use a base and then I add different things to it to make different flavors. Here is my base and some suggestions for add ins. 2c rolled oats, 1c apple sauce, 3/4c milk, 1/4c honey, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 egg. Add in that I've tried that are good: Nuts, dried fruit (ex: raisins, craisins), flax seed, chia seed, chocolate chips, marshmellows, peanut butter. Some things that you can swap honey can be replaced with real maple syrup or Agave nector, Milk can be replaced with pretty much anykind of juice, you can add white or brown sugar  to taste if it's not sweet enough for you. I really like to make a fruit one with raisins, craisins, dried currents, walnuts and flax seed. I also really like a smores style one with chocolate chips, marshmellows and walnuts.

 After a long day of hard work/play, a nice hot dinner and an evening movie we're all relaxed and ready for a good nights sleep.

Wyatt/Blue, Ken, Oak/Camo

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fairbanks trip and Halloween

WARNING: This might be a long post so grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. :)

Chapter One: A thought while on the road

      The other day durring a visit our friend and neighbor Jennine made a coment "we're not friends, we're family". I thought this was a great comment as we have kind of adopted eachother into our families. For some reason this comment came into my head as we were driving and my mind took it to a whole new level. Our new community here wich includes Manley Hot Springs and Eureka has a population smaller than the number in attendance at our wedding. As I thought of it in reality the community has in effect become our new family. They have welcomed us with open arms and gone out of their way to make us comfortable and to help provide for us durring our first winter. Knowing that we could not hunt or fish until we reached our residency Joe Redington Jr (http://www.joeredington.org/) provided us with several Salmon, His wife Pam with veggies from her garden, Butch and Tannis provided a large portion of Moose meat, Art and Denise let the kids pick lettuce in their garden, and Sabi and Espen have given us Jackets, overalls and clothes for the kids. Countless others like Connie and Big John(http://www.manleyhotspringsproduce.com/csa.html) who have given Ken work and our family friendship. Mark and Jennine have been here for us in so many ways helping us build, helping cloth the kids, picking up items when they go into town etc..... Not to mention helping keep us sane just by letting us vent once in a while. Even our new out of town "family" Lori, Georgeanne(http://cloud9doula.wordpress.com/), and Susan (http://susanstevenson.com/blog/) who have helped us through our transition from counseling me prior to the move, welcoming us when we arrived, and driving the long distance to pay us a visit and spoil us with luxuries that can only come from town. Here in our village family there are cousins: people around our age that are fun to hang out with and talk to. Aunts and Uncles: That are great to be around, that you want to learn from. Grandparents: that you sit and listen to about how things used to be. Even a few of those relatives that your not quite sure about but you keep things civil knowing that because they are family their here to stay and you will see them around weather it suits you or not ;) Such a small Village is such an interesting dinamic that I can only equate to the large spread of family that I came from in Arizona. We have a strange family were devorced folks still get along and are accepted in the family in a new roll so our family is large with complicated connections, but when it comes down to it we all looked out for eachother and were always right there to help out when anyone needed it. While I miss my big family, my mom, step dad, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc...etc...etc..... I feel so fortunate to be a part of this new family who seems equally warm and welcoming. I look forward to taking my place and to the oppertunities to give back to those who have helped us in so many ways. To those of you few that might read this THANK YOU  from the bottom of my heart in which you all have a new home as well.

Chapter Two: The 3 day 2 Night Trip

Day 1: We left the house about 7:40am actually got off to a little bit of an earlier start than we had planned which was nice. We saw an entire group of Moose which was cool. The drive it's self went smooth. The kids slept most of the time so it was nice and quiet. The first stop when we got into Fairbanks was the DMV and thats when things got hairy. We had to change over the title and registration on Ken's truck. Seemed like it would be simple enough, but the title showed a lean. Even though it has been paid off for many years they had to get a lean release. Ken barrowed a phone from another guy in the lobby and called the bank in AZ. The bank tried over and over to send it via fax but it would not go through. The lady we were dealing with (who was not very nice) went to lunch. A new gal came on who was very nice she let Ken use her phone to call the bank again. They tried e-mailing it that didn't work. The lady that was working with us felt bad for the kids who by now are starving. She gave them a bunch of cheez its, which calmed them down a bit. Finally a fax got through and we were able to get out of there. We went to Sam's club had some lunch and went shopping. We went to Walmart and Woodway. We had a hard time finding the hotel passed it and ended up turning around twice trying to get in to it. We stayed at the new Best Weastern. It was very pretty and clean, the gal at the front desk was very nice. Went up to the room to find NO bath tub! I went back to the front desk and asked if we could have a room with a tub. The hotel has no bath tubs in any rooms! How are people supposed to give kids a bath. We went across the street to the Fred Meyer and got some fried chicken and took it back to our room to eat. We had a hard time getting the kids to go to bed and the boys kept falling on the slick bathroom floor. The people below us started banging on the ceiling upseyt with us because of the kids. Why they put people with kids on the top floor I'll never know. When I worked front desk I always put families on the bottom floor when I could for this very reason.

Day 2: The hotel breakfast was good. They had bisquits and gravy, waffle making station, scrambled eggs, sausage, bagels, cerial, toast, etc... We had our fill and decided to leave the trailor at the hotel (with the pramission of the staff) while we did our morning running around. We shopped at Lowe's, Homedepot, Sportsman's Wearhouse, Petco,  and Fred Meyer's were we also picked up sandwiches for lunch. We picked up the trailer then we headed to pick up the meat for Joe and Pam. On the way we started eating our sandwiches. I noticed that Lisa's lip started to swell. I took her sandwich away, her upper lip was over double in size and she started getting blotches around her mouth. I had her drink a whole bunch and watched her. We picked up the meat that they loaded with a fork lift. Lisa started to look better the blotches went away and the swelling started to go down. I read over the ingrediants in the sandwich but couldn't see anything that should have caused a reaction. We took the trailer to Ken's bosses house in North Pole were we dropped it off. Then we ran back into Fairbanks to run more errands. We went to the woodstove store to pick up some parts for our neighbors then to The Prospector to get mittens for the kids and boots for Ken. Then we went to Napa and spent over an hour. It was way past supper time and almost bed time and the kids were tired and hungry always a bad combo. When we finished there we headed back toward North Pole and stopped and ate supper at Wendy's. Then we went back to Big John Darts were we spent the night. They were very welcoming and made  us feel at home.

Day 3: John and his wife Kris fed us breakfast and visited before we loaded up and headed back to Fairbanks. On the drive in Ken noticed that the alternator was not charging. We dropped the trailor at Walmart. We went back into Napa were we spent another long time while Ken changed out the alternator. Then we went over to Alaska Fire and Safety were we got a few odds and ends and some Gloves for Ken and Mittens for me. We ran back into Woodway and then back to Walmart. We picked up a couple last minute things hooked up the trailor and headed out around 3pm stopping at Hilltop Truckstop for fuel in the truck and the gas cans. Around 8:30pm the Transmission went out in the truck about half way up ptarmagin hill. Luckily we were on the Fairbanks side of the Minto cut off so there was traffic going past heading to Minto. The first car that we stopped we asked to call my dad. The second truck offered to pull us to the turnout at the top of the hill so that we were out of the road. We stopped every car that came by and asked them to call my dad. My dad showed up to pick us up around 10pm. We left pretty much everything in the truck even the car seats and dad drove us home. We got home about 11:55pm. 

So needless to say it was not the funnest of trips, full of stress and it at times felt like we were torturing the kids. I hate pushing them to that point were their over tired or extreamly hungry. I was so glad to be home and I have NO desire to go back into Fairbanks anytime soon. Here I was hopping to have a relaxing time at the hotel getting everyone a nice bath and maybe to have a chance to get together with our Fairbanks and North Pole friends. All the time that could have been spent doing those things was spent working on vehicles or otherwise sitting in the Napa parking lot or the DMV.

The next day Ken and our neighbor Mark took the semi and pulled the truck and trailer back home. This process took from 12pm to around 8pm. Jennine and I went out looking for them at around 6:30pm when they had still not returned. We found them limping their way home Ken in the semi with the trailer behind and the truck behind the trailer with Mark in it.

Chapter Three:

Our first Halloween in Alaska: With Ken's truck down and the meat still needing to be delivered to Joe and Pam the plan was to take the Semi in to Manley with the trailer, drop the trailer and then take the kids trick or treating. Ken had the semi running and loaded the kids car seats in it. Then he turned it off to change the anti freeze. It came time to go and the truck would not start. He pluged it in and it still would not start. We swapped the car seats back into my car and I headed out alone with the kids. The plan at that point was to meet Ken at Joe and Pam's later. I stopped at their house first and let them know what was going on. Pam drew me a map to give me an idea of what houses to hit. We ended up going to only 9 houses. Getting all three kids in and out and teking them through the snow to each house then loading them back in the car to drive to the next was a bit of a chore by myself. Next year when they can at least climb in and out on their own will be a bit easier and hopefully Ken will be with us to help out. I decided to head back to Joe and Pam's to see if Ken had made it in then I figured we could hit a few more houses. When I got there they said that Ken was still unable to start the truck so we decided to just head home. The kids had a ton of candy most of which was on the floor of my car. We got home and I cleaned out the car and dumped all their goodies on the table to sort out the hard candies and such that they don't eat yet. I could not beleive how much candy and goodies they had from just those 9 houses. We could have hit three blocks in AZ and not had that much candy. Not to mention the full size sets of Crayola markers, glow sticks and other little toys. The kids had a good time and when it comes down to it that is after all the point so overall I would say our first Village Halloween was a big sucess. It was also a big change in that you dont just grab your candy and dash you get a chance to go in and visit for a few minutes which I enjoyed.

Chapter Four: THE LOAD:  Monday Joe, Pam, Linda and Brian all came out here to pick up the meat. We loaded 3 pickups and one trailer and they had to make one more trip back out for one last pickup load full. I felt terrible that we didn't make it all the way into Manley with the meat and they had to drive all those vehicles out here then load and unload twice. It was a releif though that they finally had the meat and we weren't under as much pressure to find a way of getting it the rest of the way into town.

Chapter Five: VOTING: Tuesday was time to go in and Vote. Since I was already in Manley to take the kids trick or treating I couldn't afford to make a third after going in to vote. So, I made the most of the trip. Ken left early with my dad and Mark to head into Fairbanks to drop my dad off at the airport and do a bit of running around. The kids and I left later in the morning. We stopped first at the dump and tossed the trash into the stove. The next stop was the Washateria were I put two loads of wash into the two washing machines. Then I went up to the well and filled our jugs, then to the post office and picked up the mail and a 3T jacket and snow pants for the boys from Diane Gurtler. We went into the community hall to vote and they had all kinds of yummy things to eat, baked goods and even chillie and rolls. The kids were playing shy and it took some arm twisting to get them to even take a cookie (weird kids). Connie gave us some bags of food that had been given to her that she was passing on. Frank Gurtler came in to vote and told me to stop back by the post office so I went back in and picked up another package that I had missed. Then we went back to the washateria and picked up our wet but clean clothes and headed home.

Needless to say it was the busiest week we've had in some time that I hope to not repeat anytime soon and now we have the aftermath of all the broken vehicles to deal with. Welcome to life in the bush eh.

On another note all together please send posative thoughts and prayers toward my step dad who is experiancing a whole slew of medical issues and my grandpa Jack who is undergoing procedures for his heart.

Blessings to All, and thank you to all of our wonderful New and Old friends and family.

Sarah Sue