Archive for the ‘Alaska 2020’ Category

The Arctic Circle

If I ever had a ‘bucket list,’ I don’t really know. When I was a home schooling mom, I often wondered what it would be like to home school where no one could ever question your motive or your lifestyle. The only place I could find far enough away was Barrow, Alaska, the government seat of the North Slope Borough. Barrow, like Mt. McKinley, are now known by their natives names: Utqiagvik (Inuit) and Denali (Athabascan) still, I never imagined when my children were young that I would ever visit Alaska nor have the opportunity to travel north of the Arctic Circle, but not quite all the way to Utqiagvik.

This summer during my husband’s rounds at the campground, he met a bicyclist camper named Tim. Tim loved the Kenai Peninsula, the Kenai River and just the campground itself. He stayed as long as he was allowed. My husband learned that Tim was a tour guide above the Arctic Circle in a place called Coldfoot. Neither of us had ever heard of the place before and it took a while for the name to stick in my head. Before Tim returned to the ‘land of the midnight sun,’ he invited us to visit Coldfoot and allow him to give us the grand tour via Northern Alaska Tour Company. We made plans for October.

The Alaskan Staple of Driving

For those wondering, we did not take our 5th wheel. We were warned by many Alaskans that the road above Fairbanks to Coldfoot and beyond was not suitable for a trailer like ours. So, we invested in a little car, one that seems to be the staple of life for Alaskans – a 2001 Subaru Outback. We made sure it was in good running condition so we would not find ourselves stranded in the great vast unknown. But that becomes the ‘rest of the story.’

We set out on our little vaca heading north toward Talkeetna. For the past four years I had returning campers who offered us a place to stay if ever we were in the area. We took them up on their offer and made our way to their homestead with a guest dry cabin south of Talkeetna. We were not disappointed in their hospitality nor their off-the-grid lifestyle! In fact, we asked them why they even go camping?! They love to fish and the come to the Kenai when the salmon are running. Otherwise, they remain at their home on 80 acres with a breathtaking view of the Talkeetna range and their dog, Stud.

We loved the little dry cabin that at one time was a musher’s cabin. It had some propane heat, electricity from a battery, and no water. We had a ‘honey pot’ for our personal use rather than the outhouse sweetly painted with fireweed, and a nice, warm cozy bed. Who could ask for more?

We left their niche in Alaska on a crisp, cool, clear morning anticipating a view of Denali. We were not disappointed. The ‘great one’ loomed large and distinct through the windshield. We had to stop many times because its grandeur wanted to be captured at every curve or straight-away. Eventually we found an overlook for a phenomenal southern view. I finally saw the highest mountain peak in North America with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level. And I thought Colorado’s 14ers were high!

Our final destination for day two was Fairbanks. We had traveled through the city when we visited Alaska many years ago. We had reservations at a hotel which required masks – something I just don’t wear. And, I didn’t. No one said a word even the girl wearing a mask behind the long plexiglass barrier. I had no worries as many other guests were mask-less as well.

We also know other campers who live in Fairbanks who told us to call when we got into town. Unfortunately, they thought we were going to be there when I first contacted them so they were out of town when we arrived. We had hoped they would know a good place for dinner; we ordered lousy Chinese food that was delivered.

The next morning the real adventure began. We made it out of Fairbanks via the Elliot Highway until we transitioned onto the Dalton Highway. This 414-mile road begins north of Fairbanks and ends at Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and Prudhoe Bay.

Prudhoe Bay has the largest oil field in North America. In 1970 the Alyeska Pipeline was built taking oil from Prudhoe Bay 800 miles south to Valdez. The oil takes about one week to travel from the Bay to Valdez. The field was operated by BP with ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips until 2019 when BP sold its assets to Hilcorp.

The State of Alaska owns the actual land and leases the area to the oil companies. This is why Alaskans receive compensation for the oil produced in the oil field in the form of a Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). For 2019, the dividend was low due to the world oil market prices and fewer barrels being pumped out, but it was still $1606.00 per person.

The Dalton Highway is also known as the Haul Road because it is on this road that trucks travel from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay hauling necessary supplies for the 1900 or so people who live and work there. In fact, we have met many people who have worked or do work on ‘The Slope.’ It is a major employer for many Alaskan families with people working weeks on/weeks off or even months on/months off. We had one camper who studied X-rays of the pipeline for fractures.

There are driving rules on the Dalton Highway, the most important being that trucks have the right of way. Every place we read about using this highway we were reminded to always pull over to allow trucks to pass in either direction. This allows them to get their job done, but the road is also mostly gravel. By pulling over there is less chance of having rocks thrown at your windshield – even though a cracked windshield is a symbol of a true Alaskan vehicle. We bought ours with the cracks in it!

Following alongside the Dalton Highway is the Alyeska oil pipeline. It goes up and down mountains, crosses under the road in multiple places, snakes underground in areas where animals like moose and caribou migrate, crosses rivers and streams with its own bridge, zig zags up and down hills to allow it to move where there are earthquake faults. It is an astonishing feat but, as we learned, it is 40 years old and in need of repair. Though it is inspected on a daily basis via ground and helicopter, there is corrosion happening in the pipeline giving rise to the possibility of serious cracks at any time. Of course, I have to mention the pigs.

When inspecting or cleaning the inside of the pipeline, devices called pigs are inserted into the line at a ‘pig launcher’ or an oversized section in the pipeline. The pressure of the oil pushes the pig down the line until it’s caught. Who thinks of these things?

There are many side roads to the pipeline every few miles and some of them have ‘headache’ bars. These bars keep oversized vehicles from getting close to the pipeline and knocking into it. There are pump stations that regulate the flow of the oil along with helping to stop the flow of the oil when repairs are being done.

Yukon River Camp

While driving toward our destination of Coldfoot Camp, we made a couple of stops. The first was Mile 56 at the Yukon River Camp. We have seen the source of the Yukon on the Alcan Highway and viewed its magnificence in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Now, we watched it flow in Alaska. On our way to Coldfoot, the weather was cold and windy, but on the way back, it was frigid transforming the Yukon River from free-flowing river to being filled with chunks of ice floating their way toward the Bering Sea.

One of the reasons we stopped at the Yukon River Lodge was to use the rest rooms. We entered through two arctic entrances before we got inside the actual lodge. The place was deserted except for the two of us and one other woman who was wearing a mask. Yes, I keep bringing this up because of the nonsense of dealing with ‘masks’ on this trip into the middle of nowhere. The restaurant area was roped off so there was no one there either. The woman asks if I have a mask and I say ‘no.’ She tells me to leave. I ask why I must mask up when there is literally no one in the place. She stands her ground. I returned to my car and put a scarf around my head like a Muslim woman would wear with the capacity of pulling it over my face. I returned to the empty lodge and pulled the scarf over my face until I passed the woman. I removed it from that point on, even leaving with it off my face. They had a wonderful gift shop and though I saw several things I would have wanted to purchase, I did not. Such foolish requirements doesn’t deserve my financial support. When we returned on the way back, the woman wasn’t there and the two people working were not wearing masks. Why is that?

One last thing, check out the price of gas at this lodge! On our way back, we realized that we had enough in our tank to make the whole trip without buying gas or anything else from the Yukon River Camp.

Finger Mountain

We stopped at Mile 98 and took a small half-mile hike at Finger Mountain. Mostly this was to get some exercise since the drive was nearly 8 hours from Fairbanks. Finger Mountain is not actually a mountain. It is a hill named for Finger Rock, a granite rock protruding from the surface. The trail to the ‘summit’ has alpine tundra and views of granite tors, jutting rocks formed by the freezing and thawing of the ground.

The Arctic Circle

Our second stop was at Mile 115: the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle passes through the Arctic Ocean, Norway, Finland Sweden, Russia, Canada, Alaska, and Greenland covering 4% of the earth. By arriving at this place, I stood where only 2% of tourists ever go and was still 300 miles from the Arctic Ocean and even further from Utqiagvik.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Roxanne with Steve Martin, you may understand the sandwich photo. The handsome dumb dude meets the ditzy bar gal and they discuss San Francisco. He says that he loves to go to the Redwoods and just be. He always takes a meat sandwich. So, we went to the Arctic Circle to just be. We had a PB & J.

Gobbler’s Knob

At Mile 132 we stopped at Gobbler’s Knob to view the magnificent Brooks Range not to spot a Pennsylvania groundhog. Gobblers Knob provides the perfect place to view the ‘land of the midnight sun.’ Though the Brooks Range blocks the sun for a short time, a hike up the hill on the summer solstice will provide 24-hours of daylight.

The Brooks Range stretches 700 miles from northern Alaska into the Yukon Territory. While the range is mostly uninhabited, the Dalton Highway and the pipeline line run through the Atigun pass on their way to the oil fields. The only settlements in the range are Coldfoot, Wiseman, Bettles, and Chandalar – all of which we would soon come to know.

Coldfoot Camp

By 4:30 in the afternoon, we arrived at Mile 175 – Coldfoot Camp – and the adventure continued. I don’t remember what the temperature was, but it was very chilly though clear and dry though while we were there, the weather turned colder and it snowed.

We walked the path and went into the café to retrieve the keys to our five-star lodging. When the highway was being built, numerous trailers were brought in for the workers. Once the road was completed, the trailers had no more use – or did they? Our room-with-a- view consisted of one of those trailers with twin beds, a small bath and very tiny closet. But, it was warm. And when temperatures hover between -9 and 9, warm is good and hot showers are very good.

We met up with Tim to plan the evening’s activities. We ordered dinner from the café which had to be takeout due to some virus that is causing the tiny population in the Arctic to fear becoming sick? Because it had been a long day, we decided to take a nap and wake up about 2 a.m. to search for the Aurora Borealis.

The northern lights this far north are called the Aurora Borealis because you don’t look north to see the lights, you look overhead. This was the main reason I wanted to go to Coldfoot – to see the Aurora Borealis. I had never seen the northern lights, ever.

We did rise at 2 a.m. and walked a very dark and unknown to us path. Eventually, we looked up and saw a green snakelike light waving in the sky. It had a central bulge that grew and shrunk until the whole event ended. Because I was ignorant of all of this, I though that was it for the night. We should have stayed out in the frigid temperatures longer, but we went into our warm cozy room to sleep instead. What I did learn that night was iPhones are not sufficient to photograph the Aurora Borealis.

Part 2 – Tour Day One

Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

This Season Ends

Our final week of camp hosting at Cooper Creek during the crazy covid summer of 2020 has arrived. Fire pits are shoveled, bear boxes/food lockers are cleaned out, all of our firewood is sold, flags are folded, and mostly everything that needs to be put into hibernation until next year is ready to be inventoried. One more paid camping weekend and then we pack our trailer and move it to storage.

There we are!

We will once again rent the suite where we lived last winter. Our fulltime RV life has become 6 months rather than 12 and it makes us sad that we cannot live in our trailer through the winter. Not only does it get cold (which I think we could survive), but no one offers water or sewer because of the frigid temps. So, we will pack up everything that could freeze and make the suite our new warm and cozy home.

Our ‘new’ vehicle

We are also in process of making a residential transition from South Dakota to Alaska. We bought an older Subaru for commuting in winter weather conditions rather than using our Ford Truck. We will register it this week with our Alaska IDs taking another step forward to make this last frontier our residence. We don’t know for how long we will remain here, but for now it seems the right thing to do. We have been here long enough to take advantage of some of the perks of being Alaskan. I only wish this state wasn’t so far away from Colorado and Nevada, but it is. And, I wish that CCV hadn’t made traveling so impossible (with masks) and difficult (not knowing if sudden changes will not allow us back). I wonder if I will ever see my other adult children again. Make it so, Yeshua.

Just One Day In the Life

I will continue to work a couple of days per week cleaning the post office as I have this summer and did last winter. My husband will hopefully be re-hired as a ski instructor at Alyeska Ski Resort. We both know that working conditions will be bizarre with all the nonsense surrounding the virus that daily becomes more obvious stupidity. I will continue to attend the women’s Bible study that has been such an incredible blessing and encouragement to my spiritual life. I am ever so grateful for God’s Hand in me living in this incredibly beautiful place. I could never imagined His plan when I felt ‘stuck’ in Nebraska. Oh, ‘stuck’ is a ‘world’s view,’ ‘waiting’ is His view.

I hope to snowshoe this year and maybe get to know some of our campers better outside of a weekend hello. There are a few who are very special and it would be fun to spend personal time with them. And, of course, I will spend time with my growing grandchildren since they will live only a 100 yards or so away. We will have to find interesting activities to fill the short daylight hours because some of our favorites now require masks and none of us believe wearing them is actually about health – especially for children.

As for the rest of the autumn season, we are making plans to go above the Arctic Circle to see the Aurora Borealis over our heads. Though we won’t be going quite as far north as Utqiagvik (aka Barrow), we will be heading to Coldfoot Camp. Stay tuned for that adventure!

©2020 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Yom Teruah, 2020

I have celebrated the Feast of Trumpets in so many places over the years from Denver to Philadelphia to Chappell, Nebraska to Whitecourt, Alberta in campgrounds, backyards, churches at different lakes, rivers, and even large rain puddles, but I never expected to celebrate along the Kenai River in Alaska, never. But God.

Answered Prayer

The day before Yom Teruah the weather was horrendous in Cooper Landing with high winds and torrential rains. Kenai Lake looked like a churning ocean and I waited to see a whale breech out of the whitecaps. The Bible study women prayed for good weather for our celebration with hope and faith. We all rejoiced and praised Yeshua for what he gave us on Tishri 1 in Alaska, a phenomenal sunset.

Sunset on the Kenai River

In His faithfulness, God brought together a group of people to listen to and learn the sounds of the shofar as each of us prepare for the coming of Messiah Yeshua. In these days, it seems as though the signs of his return in clouds of glory is closer than ever and to know those shofar blasts is not only necessary, but have prophetic importance and vision. The tekiah calls his people together, the teruah convicts his people of their sins, the shevarim prepares them for war, and the tekiah gadolah, the final one, is a reminder of the one who is Immortal is returning with the shofar blast and will transform the saints from mortal to immortality.

““I will gather those of yours who grieve over the appointed feasts and bear the burden of reproach [because they cannot keep them]” (Zephaniah 3:18).

As Yeshua’s shadow looms over us we can see evidence of prophecies coming to pass – the separation of the sheep and goats – especially with the growing lawlessness around the world. Even in Isra’el the holy days were halted causing grief to everyone worldwide who understands the severity of such a decision even IF there is a pandemic. In these end times, we each have to choose whether to obey God’s commandments or man’s deceptions. We each have to choose whether to remain in the world or ‘come out from among them and be separate’ (2 Corinthians 6:17). We each have to choose to purify ourselves from all the burdens of sin that stain our wedding gowns and become a pure, spotless Bride for Messiah Yeshua.

Our day of remembering and blowing the shofar was filled with autumn leaves, young children, and a group of faithful believers who desire to understand the ‘appointed times’ of our God. The Ruach blew through a conche shell toward the north, south, east, and west to remind sleeping virgins to put oil in their lamps before the Bridegroom comes and closes the door.

Tekiah, Teruah, Shevarim, Tekiah Gadolah
Teaching by the Kenai River

Tashlich – Casting Away

No Feast of Trumpets would be complete without Tashlich or the ‘casting away’ of our sins. Everyone collected and threw stones into the turquoise river as a reminder that our sins through the blood of Messiah have been ‘cast’ into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19) and are as far away as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). The children, too, threw stones that had sins written on them: disobedience, jealousy, anger, envy, and idolatry. All the same sins that we adults should have been throwing into the depths of the sea along with guilt, lashon hara, and so much more with thanksgiving to Yeshua for taking on these burdens that can weigh on us like stones or heavy rocks.

L’Shana Tova 5781

Every ‘appointed time’ of Yahweh, except Yom Kippur, has food and fellowship. With Yom Teruah also being Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the civil new year for crowning kings, we had a lot of sweet food for a sweet new year. And, of course everyone learned some Hebrew by shouting ‘LaShana Tova!’

Chag Sameach, L’Shana Tova and Bo Mashiach Yeshua. Happy Holiday, Happy New Year and Come Messiah Yeshua!

©2020 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Autumn Changes

Kenai River as Autumn Arrives

Since beginning this nomad life four years ago, we have traveled south for the winter leaving Alaska to the Alaskans. Last year we abandoned our campground early because of the raging forest fires that daily rained ash on everything. Smoke burnt our eyes and we needed fresh air. Wearing masks to breathe was too claustrophobic for me and not wearing one made me cough with the intense smoke. We headed south for Colorado (a son and daughter live there) to travel eastward to Pennsylvania (where my family lives) and then back west to Las Vegas (another son lives there). During those travels we had issues with our Forest River trailer and decided to order a new one. While it was being ‘made,’ we stored our cracked and nearly broken trailer in Las Vegas and flew back to Alaska to spend several winter months with our daughter and our new granddaughter.

March 15, in the height of COVID in Seattle, we flew through Seattle back to Vegas to pick up our new Grand Design home. After a month in Vegas with our son, we began the northern trek back to Alaska for our summer job managing Cooper Creek Campground on the Kenai Peninsula. After a week or so of ‘set apart’ time, we jumped exhaustedly into the routine of camp manager. It is now autumn and we are finishing our last big hurrah of the summer with Labor Day weekend campers. According to my daily calculations, we have 24 days left to clean bear boxes, firepits, and pack ourselves up.

After the fires last summer, we could never imagine the craziness of this year and the ‘dreaded virus.’ With all of the ‘mandates’ (not laws) for travelers, we knew we wouldn’t be meeting too many tourists this year. We also wondered how the campground would fare with only Alaskans. They came out in droves and really kept the summer economy afloat. They fished, camped, floated, biked, hiked, and made more messes than any other year. Some had never ever camped before and we found the evidence in discarded rubber bands and abandoned receipts for tents and sleeping bags. Some Alaskans asked if we were happy (as they were) there were no tourists. Honestly, tourists respect and honor Alaska than most Alaskans. We had more toilet paper (and tampons) in the trees, trash in the fire pits, dogs off leash and pooping everywhere, people cutting trees, and campers selling their sites on Facebook pages. I had more issues with campers over reserved campsites than ever and I called the no-help- whatsoever-law enforcement more times than the previous three years combined.

On the flip side, we met many new Alaskans who were true campers, true Alaskans, home grown and native. I met natives from Utquiagvik, the highest point in the Arctic Circle (a bucket list place I want to go). Another man, a tour guide from Coldfoot, invited us above the Arctic Circle to see the Aurora Borealis overhead in October. I met people from Fairbanks to Juneau, and some who pass by here from Anchorage to Homer always calling to see if we need anything. Anything included going to RV places to bring us supplies because we had no time to do it! Or even Oreos! Or ice cream! We were given flowers, wine, sake, brownies, halibut, salmon and FOOD, FOOD, FOOD! Some campers we have known for the past 4 years gave us sour dough starter from the 1920s and invited us for caribou steaks. I even had one camper bring me a nice big rock for holding the door open when I clean my toilets! These are the people we enjoy in our campground. These are the real memories. They are the blessings in our daily lives.

We still had a lot of tourists from Maine to Georgia to Tennessee to Boston to Las Vegas to Nebraska to California and Arizona as the summer progressed. Each person talked about their journey to get to Alaska whether they had to drive through Canada with their stringent rules or via an airline that required a mask for 12-15 hours. From each of their experiences, I came to understand quite quickly how much of the Covid19 information is deceptive and even wrong, especially when it comes to the outcome of tests. In spite of all their struggles, everyone was grateful to be here, breathe fresh air, and enjoy the 20 hours of sunshine!

If I’m completely real, this year was tough, especially tough when we realized that we literally had no law enforcement back up for anything. For all of those cities wanting to be without law enforcement, let me tell you, it’s not cool when someone threatens you and you have no recourse. Then there was the bear that removed a cooler from someone’s truck and they shot off a firearm to scare the bear. We did call law enforcement, but they never followed through to tell us what exactly happened. And, what exactly happened was that my husband could have either been shot or attacked by a bear while hauling water from the creek to put out a raging fire an irresponsible camper left at 10 p.m. at night.

Love this job!

Will we do this again? We are waiting on the LORD for that answer. We love what we do. We love 99% of the people, but we would really like to have water, sewer and electric rather than boondock all summer. We may have some options if the fear over the virus ends and nothing else bigger happens, but we’re not hopeful for that. There are too many political entrapments with this whole event and other ‘Plandemics’ so we have no idea what will happen next summer. We also know Biblical prophecy and what is promised for the world and ‘lawlessness.’ Yet, we could return to Cooper Creek and continue to make new acquaintances and friends. I know the regulars who depend on us will really miss how we manage this campground!

We will have the entire winter to pray about it. We are not leaving Alaska this fall. As the leaves on the Cottonwoods change, we will be packing up and winterizing our nomad home to store here in Cooper Landing. We will be renting the same suite we lived in last year near our daughter and our grandchildren. I will also work a few days cleaning the post office as I did last year. My husband will be working at Alyeska Resort as a ski instructor if all goes well with this ridiculous virus that was supposed to last two weeks to a month.

The most difficult part of these changes is not seeing my other children. Neither of us have any desire to fly wearing masks – remember I wore them last summer and it was claustrophobic for me. We also have no desire to travel through Canada again with their rules when the Yukon has zero cases. They are actually fining people who stop along the way! We hope maybe we can fly in April, but it seems that the whole population has been programmed for masks and then a vaccine – something else I will not accept. So, in the realities of the ‘new world order’ in which we are living, I may never actually see my other children and it grieves me deeply.

For now I will be here in the Last Frontier helping my daughter teach her son to read, watching my granddaughter grow and learn to walk and talk, meeting locals in the post office, going to Bible study with some of the wisest, oldest women I have ever known, and having time to continue writing, studying Revelation, and preparing my heart and life for what is coming on this world.

“Just one thing have I asked of Adonai; only this will I seek: to live in the house of Adonai all the days of my life, to see the beauty of Adonai and visit in his temple. For he will conceal me in his shelter on the day of trouble, he will hide me in the folds of his tent, he will set me high on a rock” (Psalm 27:4-5).

I will probably ride snow machines around the mountains or out on the frozen lake, play a little ice hockey with my grandson on their neighbor’s rink, and maybe this year I will finally try snow shoes. I never ever imagined one moment in my life that I would ever visit Alaska, let alone say I’ve spent four summers here (and visited the two summers before that) and actually have an Alaskan ID. So as the autumn changes take place on the trees and the rose hips and high bush cranberries ripen, we too will be making transitioning to remain here and not return to the Lower 48. Life is always an adventure as a noman and with Yeshua at the helm, there’s always a plan that we take step by step. For now, however, reflecting on this past summer and all of the wonderful memories warm this chilly fall rainy day.

“This is what everyone faithful should pray at a time when you can be found. Then, when the floodwaters are raging, they will not reach to him. You are a hiding-place for me, you will keep me from distress; you will surround me with songs of deliverance” (Psalm 32:6-7).

©2020 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

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