You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2009.

I go to work next Monday! I’m excited! And nervous–the first few months at any new job are stressful, and I feel like I have extra to learn, this time, somehow. But I have a crate of decorations (won’t the other Systems folks be surprised when I decorate for Halloween after work on my first day ;)) and mugs and tea and such, so I’ll be more moved in, my first week, than I was for probably the first six months at BAH.

Other things on my mind: I’m still not unpacked. It’s hard to get up the motivation to do it, after getting so close at the last apartment and having to pack it all back up again. Also, I need more hangers, so a Target trip is in order. I may go after I finish this post, actually; I haven’t left the apartment, yet, today.

I met the group I’ll be gaming with, over the next couple of months. It’s hard to know whether a new group is particularly pleased to meet you, but I was definitely super excited to meet them, anyway. A number of them remind me of people I know and like in Pittsburgh and DC, which is simultaneously really neat and really strange. Dale was impressed that I so quickly stumbled into a group that includes SCAers and [some of] the remnants of the now-defunct [at least, as far as I can tell from Internet research] Anchorage Camarilla. I’m pondering SCA as an activity, though I haven’t decided, by any stretch. (Comment and sway me one way or the other, if you’re so inclined. :)) So I am getting Dale to email me Queen of Spades–a parlor larp [think “host a murder mystery”] by Shifting Forest Storyworks–and I’ll read it over a bunch of times and offer to run it, both because I think they’ll get a kick out of it, and because I feel like my gaming karma’s kind of weak, not being willing/able to run a real campaign of anything (at least not soon). Also, because Mirror Room is much too much for a first parlor larp–I know, because it was mine. :D

So, if you remember, there was what I thought was a broken garbage disposal; it was actually a very messed up set of kitchen pipes, which took the [very nice Cake fan of a] maintenance guy multiple days to fix. I celebrated having my kitchen back by making chili–and then I took a picture, to share with you; note Darth Vader’s head (that’s Dale’s) and my slowly regrowing spice collection. My Facebook friends will already have seen it, but I also carved a pumpkin. The pumpkin seeds came out awesome, and poor Mr. O’Lantern is already wilting pretty sadly; clearly, at least one more pumpkin will be needed. Maybe I can talk a few coworkers into having a pumpkin carving party, so I can make one for work and one for home? :)

I don’t think my solar-powered Christmas lights are quite going to cut it, in the winter. They’re already fading by 1am, now, when it’s light out until 8pm. I may have to supplement them with more conventionally-powered lights. (Anchorage recommends that everybody have white Christmas lights up during the winter, to help brighten things up a bit. It doesn’t look exactly universal, this early in the year, but I’m betting people leave them out after they put them up for Christmas, anyway.) Also, I hear the university rents out SAD lights and gives you those spiky things you strap to your shoes when you have to walk across ice–we’ll see whether that’s just a rumor, soon, though.

Summit Spice and Tea is going to bankrupt me. But I’ve started drinking echinacea tea (and eating vitamin C gummies) in preparation for going to work at the university. I’ve dealt with fewer people, over the last month, than I normally do, and I worry that it’s left me with less immune system than I’m used to, even as I live alone and would have to take care of myself. (Maybe I’ll buy some canned soup while I’m out, as a backup.) I haven’t taken the flu vaccine, but plan to do so this week, sometime. (I guess I should get on that.) And when the H1N1 vaccine comes out, I’m definitely doing that, if there’s no age limit. I don’t function well when I’m sick, and if it comes between going out for orange juice or staying home and doing without, I know which I’ll do.

It’s been getting cooler. I think I saw frost on the cars when I looked out last night, though it may just have been dew. If my weather widget is to be believed, it’ll stay above freezing for the next couple of days, but may dip down to 31 degrees on Thursday night. During the day it’s mostly been in the high 40s, though I swear it dipped down into the 30s when I was driving down to Portage.

My one really important and incomplete moving-related task is dealing with the car. I’m beginning to get a little concerned about it, honestly: I don’t have the Pennsylvania registration, because I left so soon after buying the car–and it never came to Dale, anyway. Sure, I have proof that I bought it, but the registration hasn’t come yet. So I can’t get an Alaska registration, bureaucracy being what it is. And, while I have 90 days, sort of, the PA tags expire tomorrow. The plan is for Dale to register it online and mail me the stickers when they come. I’ll print up the form they give you, to prove that the registration happened. And, as soon as the paper registration comes (Dale will overnight it), I’ll have to go to the DMV to get my AK driver’s license and tags. I could just wait until Dale gets up here, which is only a tad illegal, but I want an AK ID before the end of December, so I can apply for my Permanent Fund Dividend in 2010. Also, I need to call the insurance company, in case something happens, as it is wont to do in winter; I can’t go living in Alaska, when they think I’m in Pennsylvania.

So I’m a little stressed about that car thing. But I hope it’ll all work out.

Never did find my iPod. And I’ve unpacked enough that it’s pretty much a sure thing I lost it for real. :/ So I may go to the Mac Store (it’s not a proper Apple Store, as such, but it seems like nearly the same thing), sometime soon. After my first paycheck, if I can hold off that long.

I didn’t mean to include those photos in this gallery, but there’s no obvious delete tool, so you can see my army of knitted pumpkins, as well! And a not so good photo of my porch at night. :)

Today–despite the cold and bluster and, later, rain–I drove down the Seward Highway, past Girdwood. If you look at a map of Anchorage, you can see it’s on Cook Inlet, and if you zoom in, you can see the Seward Highway runs along it. I drove down to (but not past) the point where the highway turns and runs back up the inlet for a bit. I think I saw a glacier at Portage, but the clouds were so thick, it wasn’t worth trying to get a picture. I may head down to Homer early next week, in which case I’ll get a picture then. I’ll also stop at more than just Bird Point and Beluga Point, to get pictures, since they’ll turn out nicer. (Saw birds, did not see belugas.)

I did, however, stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, to see moose, bears (I didn’t actually see any bears, though there was a very, very large dropping outside the bear enclosure), caribou, elk, eagles, and bison. I thought I’d be clever and walk around, rather than driving. And I did get a few better pictures, that way, than I might have if I’d needed to get out of the car and turn on my camera. (They’re below. Mostly moose and elk, because those were the animals that stood still and had babies with them.) But I also got soaked. And terrified when I saw the aforementioned dropping, since it was in one of the more remote areas of the park. I hustled back to the car, singing the theme song from Indiana Jones (not sure how I picked that), so as not to surprise the bear. On the way, safely within sight of several cars and buildings, I figured I’d walk over to see the eagles, but I surprised one of the moose, who started snorting at me. Rather than bother the moose further–and thereby trust the fence to hold up to a moose charge–I walked over to the car, after all, and saw the eagles from the warmth and dryness of my vehicle. They were very nice that way.

I also drove back to the Alyeskan Resort(?), by Girdwood. I was too chicken to look into riding the chair lift up the hill–maybe I’ll do it, if Dale really wants to, when he’s here–but there were some pretty views back that way. Also, the bakery at the Tourist Trap (no, they call it that!) at the intersection of Alyeskan and Seward has awesome pecan coconut bars. I recommend splitting them three ways; that was my lunch, over several hours, and I still have about a third of it left (along with a rumble in my tummy for something made not entirely from sugar).

Anyway, it was about 100 miles, all told, and the pictures are definitely not as fabulous as they would be if I’d had nice weather, but I’m so glad I went. It was a really nice drive.

Since I’m doing a big batch upload of pictures, anyway, I’ll go ahead and include my (not awesome, but you’ll get the idea) pictures of the mountains around Anchorage, covered in “termination dust.”

And, on the homefront, the handyman here is very nice but will have to remove pipes from under my sink tomorrow. They don’t pay him to work overtime, and it was awfully close to 5pm by the time he got here to look at the garbage disposal. Snaking didn’t do it, so the pipes have to go. Bleah.

The sunken trees are kind of cool… and creepy. They used to be part of a forest, but they sank in the 1964 earthquake, then died when the salt water crept up around them.

With moving and not having non-borrowed wireless access (which not only do I feel guilty using, especially now that I know there are usage caps on GCI Internet accounts, but I also don’t like because it’s really sporadic), I’ve been somewhat lax about updating. But the bulk of my stuff’s put away, and the cable guy came today; so, I’m back.

Moving backwards in time… I bought a folding table and chair, which has improved my quality of life significantly, just in these few short hours. I also bought a couple of lamps, because the bedroom and living room are without fixtures. The birds also have a night light now, since Phoebe had a night-time freakout the other night and damaged 5 blood feathers. (That’s gotta be a world record. I didn’t think she’d make it, honestly.) This means I know where the emergency vet is, anyway.

My first Costco, Target, Lowes, and Fred Meyer trips are out of the way. I have a modular couch that folds down into a bed; it’s pretty terrible, as far as comfort factor goes, but it beats the floor. It was also on sale, so that it cost less than an air mattress. Moving has been expensive, but other than the shipments Dale’s sending, it’s pretty much done for now. There’s some unpacking left to do, and I’d really like to get a few more pieces of furniture, such as an actual bed, bookshelves, and a TV stand (with a TV!), but I have a more or less functioning household, here. Bed aside, I can live without those other things for as long as I need to. And it’s nice to have the really big grocery trips out of the way! Once my garbage disposal is fixed (my own fault; I figured it would work like the ones I’ve always had, even though the community manager specifically said not to put carrot peels–or much of anything else–in), I will be able to make a really fantastic pot of chili. Until then, my kitchen’s kind of terrifying.

Speaking of terrifying, the zombie walk was excellent. There were zombies (and one vampire) of all ages, including a few adorable kids in princess costumes, pink bunny slippers, and cute sweaters, all with zombie makeup. There was even a zombie dog! And a zombie Palin! I was surprised at the number of people who had memorized the moves to Thriller. (Watch out, CL folks! I’m dragging you along, next year! Dale’s already agreed to learn part of Thriller with me–maybe we can do a zombie book cart thing…) It was fun to watch the zombies mob certain [volunteer] non-zombies. And the dad teaching his daughter how to shamble was just too cute. I’ll post pictures of it all after I finish blathering on with news. ;)

The zombie movie, Død Snø (“Dead Snow,” in English), was kind of terrible, but in the fun and entertaining way. I think they must have spent a lot of prop money on a rubber intestine; it got used a whole lot. My table was lively, and one of my tablemates talked with me at length (before the movie) about chinchillas, pikas, and related animals, which is always good. ;) Really, I enjoyed the whole theatre pub experience and will definitely be going back to Bear Tooth, possibly very often, in the future.

I bought my first pumpkin today! (I say “first” because I’m going to carve it sometime in the next few days, because, obviously, I have no patience. Clearly, it won’t last until Halloween, so I’ll have to carve another one. Two, if work has use for a carved pumpkin somewhere. [Anyone want to carve pumpkins with me in October?] I’d been cooking with my pocket knife up until now, but I did purchase an actual knife for pumpkin carving. Priorities!) It’s definitely fall; on the day of the equinox there was snow on the mountains (around here, it’s sometimes referred to as “termination dust,” though it was awfully thick to be called “dust”), and I saw a raven. Knowing it’ll soon be too cold for such shenanigans, I took the luggage carrier off the top of the car, today. I’m rather pleased with myself for managing it, not because it’s so very heavy, but because it was up pretty high, and it’s a big, bulky thing. For lack of a better place, I’m storing it on the balcony.

I still haven’t been to UU church. Last week, I was out late with the zombie thing, and given that I’d tried to sleep on the floor, after moving several carfulls (cars full?) of belongings, I was super exhausted, even pre-zombie walk. I was practically among the living dead when I got home. It’s hard to say if I’ll make it this week, either, since I’m going to go make characters, paint Warhammer figurines, and play Rock Band with the game group this Saturday. (I’m excited! Gamers! And I’m nervous! New people! What if they don’t like me? … But I got along with the person who’ll be running the upcoming game. He reminded me a lot of one of my friends from Pittsburgh, actually, so I’m pretty hopeful.)

You know, I have more to say, I’m sure, but let’s just go ahead and move on to pictures. This post is already too long! :) Bonus picture: the mountains being pretty, pre-snowfall. Next time: the mountains being pretty, post-snowfall.

I’ve got the car partially packed for my move tomorrow. Most of the kitchen stuff is still “put away,” in the current apartment, and needs to be packed up to be moved. But since I’m meeting my landlord at 8am (yeah, that’s 7 hours from now), I should have plenty of time to get everything from here to there and turn in the keys. If I had a vacuum, I would run it over the carpets, here, to be sure all the bird seeds are up, but I don’t.

Tomorrow night, unless my gaming group is getting together, I’m just unpacking and reassuring the birds. And, if I run far enough ahead of schedule, I might stop for groceries and cook. (This isn’t entirely likely. More likely: I’ll figure out how people without Internet order Chinese food, I’ll do so, and I’ll collapse in an exhausted heap, to watch Gilmore Girls. [Don’t judge!])

Saturday morning: more unpacking, and then, Saturday evening, there’s the zombie walk and movie!

On Sunday I really might try to go to the UU church; I meant to, last week, and just forgot. Or I might be tired and covered in zombie makeup, in which case I’ll probably just hang out and unpack.

I really do plan to go to Girdwood, though I’m not even really set on what I’m doing there. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to try to get to Seward or Homer, or just wait until spring; there’s still a fair bit to do in Anchorage, including the zoo, the Imaginarium, hiking the Coastal Trail and Green Belt, looking into these high-up cranberries (I forgot what they’re called :)), general exploring, and using that cool bird-watching map I picked up. Plus all the errands I have left, such as giving the bank my address, getting an Alaska ID, dealing with the insurance company and car registration and all of that good stuff, getting Internet set up in my apartment (I’ve realized that’s a utility like any other), and maybe finding a little bit of furniture. I’ll get a futon or fancy bean bag for the short term, but now that I have space I can invite people to (a 1-br, rather than a studio), I want to get a table and chairs for games.

Winter to-do list: learn about container gardening in Alaska (in preparation for spring), learn (at least in theory) about fishing and cleaning fish, learn to shoot, learn to sew (with a machine, for quilting and clothing repairs), and learn a little more about canning jams and jellies. That last one will be taken care of in the fall, if I find some of those cranberries to pick. I’m pretty excited about that, honestly, so I hope it works out!

This post is very image-heavy. Apologies for that, but I kind of ended up with a backlog…

If the preview and final order remain the same, what we’ve got, roughly is:
1) the sign at the Continental Divide – I was really hoping there’d be a nice one like the US has, but no
2) and 3) the longest bridge on the Alaskan Highway – metal grating is weird to drive on, by the way
4) some of the evergreens that are all over the place – I like them, though if they’re waving in the wind ahead of you, you know to grip the steering wheel pretty hard
5) the bay (“bay”?) the bridge above goes over
6) I jokingly titled this “how the windshield got broken,” or something like that, but it wasn’t really one of the patches of road like this where it happened–it was a fairly normal patch. Still, this wasn’t an entirely uncommon sight.
7) some pretty mountains, possibly out the side window? (should have posted pictures sooner…)
8) those deciduous trees – aspen?
9) and 10) the mountain view from outside my hotel room in Haines Junction – intimidating! but awesome!
11) I just thought this was a pretty picture, the little building and creek – it’s outside Anchorage, in a place called (if I’m not wildly mistaken) Arctic Valley. It’s where we were going to try picking berries….
12) Believe it or not, this is a ski slope
13) Here’s a view from near the top of the mountain at Arctic Valley. If you squint, you can see downtown Anchorage. Or..
14) … you could just look at this picture, which is zoomed in.
15) I thought this bridge with fishing pole decorations (permanent, as far as I can tell) was hilarious. It’s down the street from where I live, today and tomorrow. :D
16) This is Sleeping Lady, from which the brewery gets its name. (The mountain has a real name, but I haven’t yet learned it.) I actually took the picture from the rooftop patio at Snow Goose/Sleeping Lady.

I found a 1-bedroom (saves me $125 per month over a 2-bedroom, which is still a net gain even with the $150 moving charge to a different apartment in the same building when Dale gets here). No covered parking, but there’s a plug-in. Gas is covered. And it’s walkable to downtown, albeit not a short walk–actually, it’s not all that far from where I’m currently staying. It’s also walkable to BearTooth – the theatre pub – and therefore Bosco’s – the game and comic shop – and Kaladi’s Coffee. So, woohoo! And if I ever learn to cross-country ski, I could theoretically get to work that way.

So that’s a weight off my shoulders. I’ve got to pull together enough cash to pay the down payment with a money order, but I can do it.

I also have a bank. They’ll be really pleased when I show up with a lease tomorrow or Friday, because they didn’t like giving me an account with only a Pittsburgh address.

I technically have a lease right now. It’s for September 11-18.

I hate to jinx it, but it’s almost like things are coming together…

I’m off to find an ATM and a place to buy money orders. And then back to sign the lease. Yay!

Seriously, if I can find an apartment to move into before I have to sign a lease here, I want to do so. I’m unwilling to set up utilities for two stinking weeks, and I’m angry that the verbal agreement I made with my agent is not being honored. Since I’m planning to drive to Girdwood after my Subaru appointment, I won’t be available to sign the lease tomorrow, anyway. But I’ll come back in time to view apartments, if there are any to be viewed.

I’ve emailed a few places, and I have a few ads open on my computer, to be called from the Subaru dealership, while I wait for them to work on my car. We’ll see how it goes.

I’d listen to non-Weidner referrals, as well…

So, I’m looking for an apartment. I need to be able to move there by September 30 (or find somewhere to store my stuff overnight–I’m not sure it’ll all fit in the car, what with the new birdcage and all). Since I’m not willing to move again, I’m looking for a year-long lease, 2 bedrooms, either a townhouse or first floor apartment, with washer and dryer in the unit. It would be nice if it’s a short drive or even walkable(!) to work. It would be extra nice if it’s walkable to downtown or some selection of fun things (coffee shops, cafes, breweries). Clearly, it has to allow pets.

Weidner Properties aren’t entirely organized, it turns out, and the apartment I originally applied for was super nasty, after a smoker lived there (non-smoking building, but poor enforcement), so the agent I’d been working with put me into the other (nicer) building and promised me the apartment, parking space, and a couple of the utilities (I don’t know which of them; she was talking to me as I drove through some valley, and then she was eating dinner when I got here, so everything’s a little garbled) for $90 more than the other apartment would have been. We didn’t sign a lease Friday night, and over the weekend she got very sick.

Yesterday, somebody unlocked my door and started to come in, then saw that I was living there and left. (I was sitting on my bed, and I didn’t see them, or them me.) It turns out, that was one of the agents here, trying to show what he thought was an empty apartment. I wasn’t in their records. They have no record of my application–I had a copy, which I think they have now photocopied–and presumably no record of my check, either. They don’t appear to have cashed it, but I sent it through online banking, meaning I can’t access that money until I figure out how to issue a stop check or the check expires.

Now they want the price she quoted me (which I had to fight for–it was originally going to be $135 more than that), plus $75 for parking, plus all the utilities. I told them I’ll be out by October, so it’s 3/4-month lease, at this point.

Honestly, I’m tempted to try to find something before we sign a lease tomorrow. I’m so frustrated. I feel baited and switched. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m open to them.

The car’s empty! Even the luggage carrier on top. (Though if any Alaskan reading this has a stepladder and a few minutes, there could be cookies in it for you, to help me take the carrier itself off… It’s not super hard; it’s just up kind of high. Unrelated, but also a question for Alaskans: any bank suggestions?) The apartment is very full of things that need to be put away, but it’s nice to have all my stuff in there. In the kitchen I’ve got Christen’s dishes and some bowls and baking dishes from my mother and grandmother and my new favorite mug. And a bottle of Root. ;) I need to pick up a colander, silverware, knives, and a cutting board, in addition to groceries.

That said, I made dinner tonight. Without salt or a colander, pasta’s both tricky to make and a little plain-tasting. But the birds liked the pasta I shared with them.

The living room will be a lot nicer once I can empty my wooden crates, to make “shelves” out of them. But I have a few things out just to be pretty. I’m debating trying to find some kind of chair-like furniture, for sitting and reading. Or maybe a clip lamp, and I can just sit on the bed and read…

Anyway, the apartment’s coming together, slowly but surely.

I stopped by the library to pick up my relocation check. (Win some, lose some. If anyone was curious, a parking ticket there costs $35. I’ll see if it can be forgiven, but I kind of doubt it. Who knew the “Park and Pay” sign meant you had to pay to park?) I thought it might be a half-hour trip, but I ended up talking to people for several hours, all told. It was really nice; I’m excited about starting there! And now I have dinner with a couple of fun people on Thursday, a zombie buddy for Friday (both the walk and the movie afterward), and someone to call when I am bored and want a tour of town. :)

Denali was out today. I couldn’t see it from my office window(!!), but I could see it from Special Collections. (It’s clearly huge. It’s over 130 miles away!)

Phoebe broke yet another blood feather. I’m hoping the vet can tell me what to do for her. She’s such a clumsy bird and always has been. But she can’t afford to hurt herself so often! Grace and Francis are good. (It was really sweet. People at the library kept asking about the birds. :) I do promise, I’m not usually such a crazy bird lady. It’s just that I’m worried about them after the trip, and I feel guilty for putting them through that.)

(The first part of this was written in the morning. I’ll denote where the second part, written after a rather full day, begins.)

I spent yesterday slowly unpacking the car–slowly enough that it’s on the agenda for today, too–and shopping for various things I needed, like a shower curtain and laundry detergent. (Showering in the morning was an adventure.) I also got a couple of things I wanted, like candles and a pottery mug–my giant one is too much commitment for some beverages, and it’s still somewhere in the car, anyway. :) Target has these candles with wooden wicks. I love them so much. They crackle as they burn.

Anyway, I think the birds are starting to settle in, too. Phoebe’s broken blood feather finally fell the whole way off. She looks a mess and seems a little woozy, but I think she’s healing. I’ve got some vitamin-fortified treats in there for her. Grace is continuing to heal. And Francis is experimenting with his new squawk. He used to be such a nice, quiet bird. They all spent the day being really needy and really screamy, with little breaks for walking around the apartment and finding things to try to chew on.

Part of my shopping was, as I mentioned, at Target. Very standard move-in stuff. But the better part was at the Anchorage Market & Festival. This is the last weekend for it, and I wanted to see it before it ends for the season. That’s where my mug came from. Also, some vegetables that are now in my fridge (including a very large zucchini), some birch syrup, and a salmon quesadilla for breakfast. (I’d been up for hours, playing with the birds and by turns carrying boxes and putting things away. Mostly playing with the birds. And I hadn’t eaten, before I left for the market. Which, by the way, I found from memory!) It was pretty fantastic; I’ll go back when they reopen, next year. I posted this pic to Twitter, and people were amused:texas
I still don’t have much furniture–a Murphy bed comes with the place, and I bought a barstool, so I can sit at my counter–but I’m making do. One of my Rubbermaid-type boxes is serving as a plant table. (The plants may pull through. It’s hard to tell. I should buy dirt and a pot today, for the Christmas cactus.) And I have a couple of pretty things on there, along with the plants, as well. The spices I brought with me–an odd assortment based on their ages more than on what I’d do with each one–are all set up by the stove. It’s nice.

My landlord–or, well, my agent for the property company, who won’t be for long, because she quit (it’s all very confusing)–was super nice. She let me borrow some sheets and a coffee maker and a towel, when I moved in. That saved me buying sheets for a different-sized bed than I’ll be buying in 4 months. And her friend lives on the same floor I do, and we’ve chatted a few times. I think we’re going to breakfast this morning! (Which reminds me. I should wrap this post up and get a shower. My clothes will be out of the dryer soon.)

Looking at my last post, I meant to tell you some other things. One is that the gas station right after you turn off of the Tok Cutoff onto the Richardson Highway (it looks like it used to be a Texaco, and the owner just put together some of the letters to spell “ECO”) is pretty nice. Their gas is the standard high price for gas along the Alaskan Highway System, and they have an outhouse (with electricity!) instead of a running-water restroom (also fairly normal), but the owner is a super sweet guy. We got to talking–in part because I asked him if I could get to Anchorage by dark–and he welcomed me to Alaska and gave me a print of some sled dogs (two of them, twins), drawn by a friend of his who is the Iditarod artist. So I’ll get a frame for that, because it’ll make me happy each time I look at it.

The Glenn Highway isn’t at all like the Alaskan Highway. I had gotten really used to the former–and the Tok Cutoff is enough like it that I sort of lump them in my mind–so I was feeling pretty confident, and then all of a sudden, there were these really tight curves, 30-40mph dealies. It was a little hair-raising, because of course nobody in the opposite direction was going that slow. And just as I was beginning to adjust to that, I got dumped onto the freeway into town. I was totally unprepared for driving in civilization, which was more or less what I needed to do (although there’s some argument about whether anyone else on that freeway was exactly prepared for civilized driving, either, that night). It was all very strange and disconcerting.

The final trip mileage was 4202.6. The last day of that was between 600 and 610; it looks like it never made it to my Twitter stream, and the phone is in my room. I’ll look it up.

(This part is new.)

Today, I went to breakfast at Middle Way Cafe with my neighbor (the friend of my landlady’s I mentioned above). Great brunch location, with tasty (and mostly pretty healthy) food, as well as fresh juices. Then we decided to try picking berries, though that sort of failed–there were a few left, but only after a pretty long walk up a pretty large hill, which we might have tried to do, only we had no cell coverage, and she was on call. Earlier in the season, next time! But we went to get dinner at Moose’s Tooth, where I got a 4-beer sampler. Everything was good, though I got distracted and forgot to pick up a growler. Tomorrow, perhaps!

Around the end of dinner, a local gamer I’d been in touch with over the Internet called, and we agreed to meet and talk about the game he’s starting, which I’ll be playing in. Call of Cthulhu. It’ll be on Saturday afternoons for the next few months (unless that’s when my reference shift falls)! It sounds like a good group of people. And he gave me a whole bunch of advice and tips about living in Alaska, everything from “go ahead and buy that bear bell” to what kind of reel is easiest for newbie fisherpeople to what kinds of people to expect to run into around Anchorage. It was pretty great. I feel like I owe him cookies. :)

The birds are a little less whiny, despite my not giving them as much attention today–because I was out. I think Phoebe’s recovering, and Grace definitely is. They both seem alert (well, as much as Phoebe ever is) and curious and generally more like themselves, though maybe a tad needier than normal. I may ask the vet if I can come in on Wednesday or Thursday, so they have more time to really get situated and de-stressed. As much as I want Phoebe’s wing looked at, I just don’t have the heart to put them in the car. It’s going to kill me to do that to them. And it’s going to make them trust me less.

Other errands: getting George’s mechanic appointment set up, since the 3000 mile mark is pretty far gone. Signing a lease and getting a parking spot officially assigned and calling the utility companies. Getting an Alaskan license and registration (though I may put that off for another week or two), as well as dealing with Geico. Getting a pot and dirt for the cactus. Grocery shopping–and man is it going to be a big trip. Finishing with the car unload, including getting the stuff down from the luggage rack. I’m not relishing that thought, short and uncoordinated as I am.

But I still have two full weeks before I start work. I should be able to get all of this stuff and a fair bit of exploring out of the way before then. (Also, I’d like to look at some Web development books. And maybe tune back in to what’s going on in the library world. The mental break has been great–and will continue to be great for at least another few days–but I’d like to be sharp when I start.) I’m pondering driving down to Seward and/or Homer, after the car’s had its checkup. I’d like to collect some glacier water, which I can do on the way, though I don’t have enough vessels to get enough of it for brewing. (I also don’t have enough bottles. Or other ingredients. But the water’s pretty time-dependent, I would guess, what with freezing and all.) Also, I plan to go to the zoo and maybe the Imaginarium. And the Ulu Factory. And I’ll have to pick up a tourism guide to see what else I need to check out. Dale said he wanted me to “have seen everything, so [I] just share the good stuff,” by the time he gets here.

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