I am not really sure how to go about telling about this whole experience so I am just going to do my best. I may ramble on a bit or be a little out of chronological order or off by a day or two. I will do my best to be accurate.
Joe and Norma were due to move on 1-2-12, Alaskan weather made sure that did not happen. The arrangements were for the Iditarod Air force to fly out there belongings and them. The Iditarod Air force is a group of private pilots that fly supplies and people for the Iditarod dog sled race each year. Joe and Norma Delia have hosted a checkpoint for the Iditarod every year since it's inception in 1974. It took a few days for the weather to cooperate enough for the planes to fly and be able to come to Skwentna. When they were finally able to get here a few of us loaded our freight sleds and toboggans with Joe and Norma's boxes of items that they were moving and take them across the river to the air strip. It took 7 planes loads to get all of their boxes out on the planes. By the time the last plane took off with moving items the weather had changes and Anchorage got fogged in and no more planes were able to fly that day. Joe and Norma and their two adult kids that were here were unable to fly out. It took three more days before the weather cleared enough for Joe and Norma and family were able to fly out. I think it was 1-9 when they finally reached Anchorage. The Air force had made arrangements for a U-Haul for Joe and Norma's stuff and everything was ready for them to take to their new home.
The day Joe and Norma finally flew out was Extremely challenging for me and others. While Myra and I have not lived here in the bush very long, it was very easy to develop a special relationship with these extraordinary people. Myra and I spent each day with Joe and Norma while we waited on the planes to be able to fly. During the final morning waiting on the planes everyone started experiencing various emotions. There was nothing to do but think, talk and wait. The plane was delayed for a few more hours because of a heavy snow fall and the runway had to be cleared before they could fly in. a very nice face-book post came through that stirred a lot of emotion, saying fair well to Joe and Norma. Then the time came for the trip to the air strip. We got out Joe's snowmachine for him to drive to the plane. After more than 60 years of Bush living this man drove himself to the airplane for what is in all likelihood his last plane trip to town. We all loaded on snowmachines and followed Joe to the airstrip. I could not stop myself from crying on the trip over. I was following an icon, a living legend out of the territory and it tore me up. It stirs me deeply as I type this now. My respect for Joe and Norma can not be spoken. Live well you two, best wishes for a good quality of life in town.
Myra and I did not pack a thing or move an item until the day Joe and Norma flew out. We now only had a few days until Myra was doe to fly out for Ohio. Myra and I headed home and packed some clothes and personal care items and came back up river with the dogs. Hans happily ran the whole eleven miles and Jeff rode on the snowmachine about ten of the miles. Over the next few days we managed to move most of the food and items that should not freeze and we got the cats here etc. Most all of the furniture was left here as well as most household furnishings. We basically only have to bring items we want of our own as Norma left the home almost fully stocked and equipped. We did bring Myra's favorite cooking ware and our recliners. We will bring more items as time and weather allows.
Myra spent the rest of her time here sorting threw the kitchen cupboards etc removing items we won't use and packing them up and organizing the place the way she wants. I spent almost a week in the work shop going threw box after box after coffee can and box after coffee can full of misc. stuff. I now have a work bench to work on and some additional floor space to work in. I still have many boxes and cans to go threw, mostly full of hardware items now. I was barely able to find a tool when I got here, now I have large boxes of screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers and more. the hand tools were all mixed in with the boxes of stuff.
We will package and label all of these items and put them away. I will be bringing my tool boxes etc on here. I will only leave or take tools to our cabin to do projects that I want to accomplish there.
We have our work cut out for us here for a while. There are several repair and maintenance items that need attended to along with all of the sorting of a collection of 50 years of stuff. Norma has instructed us to treat the place as if it is our own so we will be making a few adjustments around here to become more comfortable.
I have been ask many questions about the "house" we live in now. I will do my best to describe it for you. I will post pictures some time in the future. this is not a "Picture" type of post.
The "New House" is what we are living in. Joe built this home for Norma fifteen years ago. It is primarily log construction with some plywood and lumber on the second story. The walls down stairs are full exposed logs inside and out. they are quite beautiful. The cabin is approx. 26' x 30' and has a full upstairs. The only divided off rooms are the bathroom and a couple of walk in closets. YES Phyllis, there is a well, running water, a flush toilet and a washer & dryer. No, we don't have a dishwasher and I really miss Myra right now!!!! Guess what needs done. For all intense and purpose this is a very modern bush home. There the "Old Home" over closer to the river. Joe had built that one about 30 years ago. That home does show its' age some but it is still functional for today's use. The old house needs work where it is settling. The old house is now the Iditarod headquarters during the 4 day race event that happens here and it has a lot of storage in it. There is a "Guest Cabin" out behind the new house. The guest cabin is very nice inside but the foundation needs re-worked as the building is settling and is becoming fairly un-even. There is a Generator Shed / workshop that is pretty nice. The building is heated by the water cooled generators that are inside and it has a basement area for the water system and other storage. The workshop will be quite nice when I get the shelving built and things organized. there is also Five diesel generators in there and only 2 of them function so some decisions have to be made about the old ones. There is an above ground (approx. 10') cache building for storage. This cache was originally for food and meat items to keep them out of reach of the animals out here. Today the cache is just for misc. storage. Then there is the Post Office building about 200' from the new house, out near the property entrance coming off of the river.
It is different living here as a change from our cabin. We are closer to the river so the dogs detect more snowmachine traffic and react to that. The Post Office is in the front yard so there is traffic right in the yard. As of now there is no Battery system so if you want power the generator must be running and there is no fuel oil back up heat so someone must be here every 8 hours maximum to stock the wood stove or the house gets pretty cool. Those are a couple of changes that I am going to try and make to modernize the house some more. It is not like there is a ton of traffic but, any traffic is more than what we had before so it is different.
I have been hauling freight the last few days and have been gone up to 12 hours. The house has gotten down to 43 degrees one day and that took all night to get the temp back up, of course it was 27 below zero that day. I am going shoveling up to Shell Lake this week and get some more exercise and make a little money in the process.
I have some pictures and stories about hauling freight and the weather etc but that is for another time.
Thank You for allowing me to share with you!
I will talk to you again soon,
Take Care and God Bless,