I was so innocent and idealistic about living in Alaska. My first winter here was a very real education. It was an education both in hard lessons and the generosity of the human spirit that lives in Alaska. I arrived in the late afternoon of October 31, 2008. Snow was already covering the ground and cold temperatures were the norm. Winter was already at hand in Alaska. My son had arrived in Alaska with his dad in late September. It had taken me 6 weeks to sell our house and pack up. I drove to Kennewick, Washington from Houston, Texas…about 2500 miles. I spent 10 days in Kennewick staying and visiting with friends. Next I drove to Seattle, put my car packed with the comforts of life on a barge and boarded a plane with our 2 dogs bound for Anchorage. I was greeted in Anchorage by my husband and a magical beauty that I would come to know as home.
We chattered on about things while driving to our apartment. It was small and very meagerly furnished. We had only 2 folding tables with 3 folding chairs, a TV stand and our old TV in the living room. We had a queen size air mattress on the floor of our bedroom and our son also slept on an air mattress on his floor. We were truly starting a new life…from scratch. It was at the same time, both thrilling and scary.
Our country had already started down the economic free fall of which we are still in the midst. My husband informed me after that first night that he was concerned about being laid off. He was employed by the Denali project. Denali is a new pipeline being built for natural gas. The existing pipeline pumps crude. It was supposed to be something that would create more prosperity for Alaska. It was not the ideal time to be starting a new life. It was not an ideal time to be an engineer. We were entering the winter months seasonally, economically and personally.
My first night in Alaska was all about family. My son had invited his new friend over to spend the night. It was Halloween and we had candy to pass out. There would only be single trick or treater that night. We watched a movie, ordered pizza and got caught up on each others lives. We were used to being separated like this. My husband would always go ahead and start work while I was in the rear..selling the house, packing up, and moving to our new location. Only one thing was different this time. My husband had taken our son with him. Aron had been lonely and was unused to coming home to an empty house. There was quite a bit of excitement for our reunion that first night. It was sweet.
The very next day we had to get new cell phones as our current carrier did not service Alaska very well. I would find out that cell phones are quite necessary in Alaska. You never know when they will be needed to help someone out or could actually be necessary for your survival. I googled Walmart in Anchorage and got the address of the closest one. Once we had cell phones and groceries we could go home and cook a homemade meal. My husband and son had sorely missed me and had learned to appreciate a woman’s touch. It was a bit tedious trying to cook without proper cooking utensils. I had only plastic forks and knives and I was making chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy from scratch. The plastic kept melting. I couldn’t wait for my car to arrive. I had packed it with all the necessities for a comfortable life.