North to Alaska IV – Taking Possession

Mrs. Animal and I have been planning this for twenty years.  We’re now at the light at the end of the tunnel stage.  Here is the next installment of the story of our planned move from Colorado to Alaska.

Day 1

Having flown in from Denver the evening prior and stayed in Anchorage (our last night in a hotel in Alaska, unless it’s by choice and not necessity!)  We got up early Saturday morning to drive up to Willow, meet our realtor, get the keys, and enter our new Alaska home for the first time as owners.

And this was it.  The moment we had been planning for, working for, saving for, for over twenty years.  For a while, we just stood in the living room and looked at this big empty house.

But there was plenty to do.  Having flown up, we only had a few bags, but some of the stuff stored in Wasilla had to come up to the house, and we had to get some elementary fixings to be able to sleep and work here, so we took the bags out of the rental truck, put them in the living room and headed back to Wasilla.  First order of business:  We needed groceries.  And table and chairs, so we have a place to eat and, until some furniture was in place in the office outbuilding, a place to work.  At the moment our bed is a mattress on a plain frame with no head or footboards, but we can live with that for a while.  We did find a table and chairs and, unexpectedly, a sectional reclining sofa set, so we at least have a place to set and a place to eat.

We also dropped by the Home Depot to order a gun safe, which turned out to be out of stock.  Fortunately we found a bigger, shinier, better safe at the Sportsman’s Warehouse in Wasilla.  A phone call to the folks who delivered our living-room set revealed that they move gun safes, too, so we bought the massive 1,000 pound Browning Hell’s Canyon 65-gun safe.

Getting stuff that has to be shipped to Alaska from the 48 can be a problem.  But it’s a problem we’re willing to deal with.

Day 2

Sunday was spent buying some more supplies, putting together our dining table and chairs, and making some plans.   We’ll need some equipment:

  • Another pickup to replace the inestimable Rojito, now in the capable hands of loyal sidekick Rat. Unlike Rojito, this will almost certainly be a Super-Duty Diesel, to carry a slide-in camper and tow a boat, as well as handling other chores.
  • A snowplow blade and mount for the pickup, to deal with the considerable winter accumulation.
  • An ATV and a snow machine (these are called snowmobiles in the 48; don’t ask me to explain the reason for the difference, because I can’t) as well as a trailer for same.
  • Possibly a small tractor, which would take over the snow-moving chores (obviating the need for a blade for the pickup) and some other things that need done. Partly dependent on whether or not we are successful in buying any adjacent lots.

We decided to name her Jenny.

The high point of the day came just at sunset (so, about 4:45PM) when a young cow moose wandered through the yard, browsing on our bushes.  She was likely a yearling and on the skinny side, so we were hoping she makes it through the winter; lots of young animals don’t.

Day 3

Internet day!  Also, my first workday at the new house.  The early morning was marked by the reappearance of last night’s visitor, who spent some time browsing around our little office building.

Prior to this point we had internet access only through our phones.  The local internet provider has only DSL at the moment, but we signed up for a business package that should handle our streaming services and the VPN requirements for my work.  Interesting note:  This company is the only internet service provider for a stretch of Alaska approximately the size of the state of Maryland.  Alaska is an interesting place in lots of ways.

Now we have the DSL turned on and have good wireless connection in house and the office building.  We still have no television/Roku box to watch, but that will come in time.

Then, in the afternoon, we went over to Palmer, to the Alaska DoT.  We now have Alaska driver’s licenses!  It’s even more official!  To celebrate this, we went to the outstanding Palmer Ale House for an early supper, then went back out to the house as (almost) full-fledged Alaska residents.  Some of the benefits of Alaska residency, like resident hunting/fishing, Permanent Fund eligibility (in case that becomes a thing again) and a few other things, require a year of residency before you are eligible, but that will happen soon enough.

Big empty rooms.

An interesting side note:  Because of where we will live in rural Alaska, licensing of vehicles is somewhat different.  Our “company car,” a 2013 Ford Edge, gets permanent plates for a one-time fee, as it’s over seven years old.  Ditto for our trailer, as it’s not a “motor” vehicle.  Mrs. Animal’s 2017 Expedition doesn’t qualify, but since she’s a 100% disabled veteran, she gets her plates for free.  No more annual vehicle registration fees for us, unless we buy another vehicle that’s less than seven years old.

I’m enjoying Alaska more and more all the time.

The Rest of the Week

With these things done, the rest of the week settled into the kind of routine you fall into when you’re in a big empty house with almost no furniture.  Working during the day, enjoying the peace and quiet during the late afternoons and evenings.

Something you forget when you’ve been living in town or in suburbs for a long time is just how peaceful a rural home can be.  It’s even more so this time of year, in the great northern taiga that we live on the edge of.  In summer you have birds singing, more activity in general from the wildlife around.  Some of that wildlife will hopefully include grandchildren playing in the yard in the summer.

But, right now, in these first few nights, what we are enjoying is that the winter evenings up here are just so quiet.

We love that already.

Tuesday, we got the living room section sofa-thingie delivered.  It’s big, but we have a big front room.  Lots of room for folks to sit and shoot the breeze with the two big windows right in front, or to watch movies, once the TV is in and set up.

Mrs. Animal is already planning how to fill it up.

And, finally, on Thursday, our enormous Browning 65-gun safe was installed.

Friday evening, we went over to the Willow Trading Post for dinner.  It’s a fun little local place, with decent bar food, a good drinks selection and a leavening of colorful Willowbilllies.  It’s a fun hangout; we’ll be back.

One of the things we’re mulling over is a name for the place.  I’m inclined to think up something that includes “taiga” in recognition of these great northern forests that circle the pole, from eastern Canada to Scandinavia.  I wouldn’t mind working “Animal” in there somewhere, but not sure how.  A name will come to us eventually, I’m sure.  An unrelated name we thought of was “Odin Wald,” but not sure if we like it.

What’s Next

On Saturday, we will drive back down to the airport for the red eye back to Denver.

I’ll be flying back up on the Friday after our return to haul another load of firearms up and spend the weekend; then, two weeks later, Mrs. Animal and I will fly up again to haul more stuff courtesy of free checked baggage, including the last of the firearms that would have required advance permits to take through Canada.  The plan then is to drive the AlCan at the end of March with our big Expedition and the trailer, with the rest of the (Canada-Unrestricted) firearms and a big load of household goods and office equipment.

This is still only the beginning of our Alaska adventure – but we’re approaching the end of the beginning.  I remain convinced that the timing of this move could scarcely have been any better.