Currently living/working: April was another doozy of a month. It included a pet/housesitting gig in Healy, a funeral, and three trips to Fairbanks. Work-wise, we’ve been busier than all winter (yeah for income!). Our joint gear project is underway for Outside Business Journal and wrapping up mid-May. Justin is rocking quite a few new gear roundups for OutdoorLife & GearJunkie (lighters, men’s pants, parkas, winter tents, camp toilets and more—honestly, his list gives me anxiety). As for me, I’m still cleaning Airbnbs of course, and working on my own writing projects, including my first travel narrative essay for Adventure.com. Enlivening month work-wise!
Current mood: The spectrum of emotions has been jarring. On one hand, we both feel invigorated by our latest content projects. However, the dismal lows—specifically a family death and complicated yurt improvement projects—have been a major buzzkill.
Currently thankful for: My Aunt Diana passed away this month, somewhat unexpectedly. This was my aunt (and Uncle Fred) who live 2 hours away from us in Alaska. She had MS and just turned 70, but has been declining the last few months after being plateaued with MS for many years. We had dinner with her and my uncle 4/7, she went into the hospital 4/10 and she died 4/15. Justin & I have been so lucky to have them as our crutch while transitioning to a life in Alaska. They’ve lived here 40+ years, so have a world of wisdom. We have been so grateful to share so many meals, do laundry, shower and store our vehicles from time to time. It’s not often that people become closer to their aunts and uncles this late in life, but I was fortunate to have that opportunity. And no matter her battles with MS, Aunt Diana was always smiling. We’ll definitely try to give Uncle Fred more attention as he navigates life without his love.
Currently excited for: Smelling the Earth, seeing fifty shades of green, and packing away my AK uniform (long johns, boots, traction). It’s been a long winter with record snowfall and snow depth! And this is saying a lot since we even escaped Alaska from Nov-Dec.
Currently not excited for: As thrilled as I am for summer, my mentality is more like the lingering snow piles: not ready for the full throttle of the summer circus. There’s an overdrive and boundless energy connected to summer in the land of the midnight sun. I preserved work-life balance so much this winter that tipping the scales toward work (i.e., necessary income) and home improvement projects feels daunting. Justin thrives on (and craves?) chaos. I do not. I am actually nervous and worried I (and Justin) took on too much. But it’s go time!
Currently amazed by: The yurt is booked for 81 nights so far for our summer season (out of a possible 120)! We’re pretty darn pumped for our first-time seasonal rental. However, there have been quite a few upfront costs and things on our to-do list to get it ready for our first guests May 27. Have I mentioned there’s still a lot of snow everywhere? Thankfully the road to the yurt is partially plowed and the rest is melting, as is the yurt’s driveway. We need to still move the outhouse in place, and bit by bit, we are digging out the spot. We (actually not me, but Justin & friends) are also still in the process of installing a water system, so our guests can properly wash their dishes. And that’s been a huge headache to say the least. Oh, and the icing on the cake is that we planned to offer WiFi to guests, and apparently it will cost $7,700 to extend the service line from the closest neighbor. Ruh roh. We are working toward solutions for all the roadblocks, but holy guacamole, there’s been a lot of fitting square pegs in round holes.
Currently regretting: I’m pretty sure Justin is regretting agreeing to put in an on-demand water system for the kitchen sink in the yurt. Have I mentioned how everything in Alaska is complicated and costly?
Currently proud of: Justin clearly still loves writing about gear, and while I still take on gear-writing projects, I’ve been branching out. I feel like I’ve cut my teeth into travel writing already with my book and my blog, but to have article pitches be accepted is amazingly gratifying.
Currently worried about: Our $700 summer beater we purchased last year (Chevy Cavalier) has been stored in snow all winter. Will it start start? Will the gloopy oil reinvigorate after a long, cold winter? Will it get us through another summer? No one knows until we fully unearth the beast.
Current guilty pleasure: Does anyone else think cell phone screens are so delicate these days? Justin’s SE iPhone is only 1.5 years old and my SE is only a year old, but both screens were unreadable in their short lifespan because of cracks. Thank goodness we had the Zagg InvisibleShield Glass Elite Screen Protectors on them! We finally replaced them this month, but with a different brand, and hopefully these other screen protectors protect just as well as the Zagg ones did.
Current confession: This summer, we were supposed to be cat-sitting for Ted, a 9-year-old female cat, for like 5-6 months, as the owners were setting off to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. This was going to be a test for us to see how a cat does in our 300-square-foot cabin. I was so fired up for my “temporary cat!!” Justin & I pet sit a lot around Healy, so we get doses of snuggles. But this was going to be a cat for months on end in our cabin. Of course I am disappointed, but surely not as disappointed as the owners who can’t do their hike because of a life obstacle popped up.
Currently watching on Netflix/Hulu/HBO Max/Starz/AMC: We binged through the 5th season of Better Call Saul, and now are on its 6th (and final) season. I think we’re going to have to rewatch Breaking Bad after this. Violent drug lord series aren’t for everyone, but we love them. We’re also simultaneously watching season 6 of Outlander, but I’ve said this before, we’re really losing steam on our interest in the series and wish it to be over.
Currently reading: I read Into the North Wind: A Thousand-Mile Bicycle Adventure Across Frozen Alaska by Jill Homer. Jill & I connected via the blogosphere years ago, and I’ve always LOVED her writing. I think she’s authored 7 books now, and I don’t know what took me so long to read any of them. In any case, this one is about her 2016 bike ride on the Iditarod Trail. For those that don’t immediately know what that means, let me paint a picture: She rode 1,000 miles on a bicycle across Alaska IN THE WINTER, you know, across snow in -30 degrees with wind making it more like -50. Jill is known for her outlandish adventures—most of which I cannot fathom attempting. The 2016 Iditarod bike ride was the first of many human-powered Iditarod races for her. But more than anything, the book demonstrates Jill’s seemingly limitless endurance and persistence. She is endlessly inspiring, and her writing is so lively and detailed, making me admire her even more. I’m definitely going to read all her other books at some point.
A friend lent me Winterdance by Gary Paulsen. Actually, I’ve had quite a few people recommend this book, and while I did like it, I have to say it took awhile to get into it. I suppose my expectations were too high!! The first half is really about how Gary got into dog mushing, and that story isn’t often told, so it was a unique perspective. I just thought it was a bit slow-going. The second half was about his first Iditarod race. Gary endured a lot of mishaps, to say the least, and he really made light of them. Definitely humorous storytelling!