The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of holidays, family visits, weather, and sleepless nights. Our Christmas was quiet and simple with just Joe and I out at the lodge. While often, it’s a struggle to focus on the true meaning of Christmas in the madness of holiday shopping, presents, family and food, this year the celebration of the greatest gift ever given was on the fore front of our minds. On a quiet, snowy Christmas morning, we read Luke 2 and gave thanks for God’s gift of his son Jesus. We kept the tradition from Joe’s family and had homemade ravioli for dinner, which frankly, was delicious! We had planned on going sledding in the afternoon, but a blizzard rolled in and we lost our motivation. It’s not as fun to think about going outside when you have to wear goggles just to make it to the outhouse. (Hmm…how bad do I actually have to go???) We spent the next few days shoveling and re shoveling our paths to and from buildings, since once we were finished the wind would drift snow back into all our paths. It felt a little pointless at times. I watched once when Joe was shoveling the deck and as he threw a shovel full of snow over the railing the wind blasted it all back in his face. I was torn between laughing and feeling sorry for him.
Once we got our paths in order, it was time to haul water. When Joe went down to make a snow machine track to the water hole and get things uncovered, he sunk into the 6 inches of slush and water under the snow. The weight of the snow on the ice had pushed water up through the ice hole and all the cracks. Since there was still a foot of ice underneath, and two feet of snow on top the slush and water, we had a mess. When I went out to take Joe another shovel and help out, I noticed Howie sitting on the porch. This wouldn’t be abnormal if Joe wasn’t down working on the lake, usually Howie is right beside us anytime we leave the lodge. I got down to where Joe was working and he just looked at me and said, “ I am not going to say anything because I want to swear!” I quietly went to work and looked enviously at Howie on the porch. You know you’re in a bad spot if your lab doesn’t even want to hang out with you. After, a few minutes of shoveling slush and water, as it seeped into my boots. I realized I was keeping my mouth shut with the same disgruntled look on my face as Joe. Well, no one ever said life out here was easy! We eventually got a path cleared and waited a couple of days to haul water to give it time to freeze.
New Years rolled around and we spent the day prepping for Joe’s brother, Zac, and his wife, Alyssa, to come spend a night with us. Zac and Alyssa own the lodge, so the boss man was coming!!! Joe and I snow machined out and met Zac and Alyssa at the trailhead and then we all snow machined back into the lodge. We spent the time having important business meetings and getting things ship-shape…. just kidding, we went sledding and played like kids. It was so nice to have some time with them, just enjoying the beauty all around us and planning and dreaming for the future of the lodge. The next day, after a hearty breakfast of biscuits and gravy, we all snow machined back out to the trail head. Joe and I put on 50 miles of trail in 48 hours, we were pretty exhausted by the time we got home.
The last few nights have been filled with sleepless nights as the northern lights have danced overhead. We had every intention of going to bed early each night, only to become mesmerized and end up staying up all night. Last night, we actually made it into bed before we saw all the activity out our window and climbed out of bed to watch. Its been worth every sleepless moment.
Yesterday, we decided to go out and explore on the snow machines. It all started out wonderful, we saw three bull moose and the day was clear and sunny. However, things quickly headed down hill after Howie cut his paws up on the ice and had to ride behind me. Then, Joe’s snow machine steering broke and we had to tow his machine back to the lodge, dumping it over twice, while trying to navigate a hillside without steering, and almost running over Howie who had fallen out of the basket. I was so relieved when we finally pulled into the lodge, it was one adventure I was ready to see end!!!
So, its been a month filled with celebration, family, struggling against the elements, and earning a little more of that sourdough grit that is required for life in the Alaskan bush.