January through March 2009

December 29 thru January 4
The final plow bracket repair. All cut back to good steel and overlapped with many layers from many angles. Quite a week of learning about stick welding but we are pretty confident that when the plow bracket breaks again, it won't be in this spot.

The thermometer has been hovering between -25 and -30 F this week so we've spent a lot of our time indoors. One of the indoor projects (between short snowmobile rides) is fixing a couple of broken snowblowers.

On the more hopeful snowblower, the issue was a worn chain sprocket. Karl welded new material where the teeth were worn and then ground the sprocket to accept the chain and now this machine works. Hopefully we can borrow it to use to dig through some snow banks at the transmitter site that may block drainage in the spring thaw.

The other snowblower has a classic thrown piston rod in a Tecumseh small engine, this one will be more of an adventure. Rather interesting clues. The machine has a perfectly good dipstick, why exactly are there gnarled up bits of dipstick in the crankcase with the chunks of rod?

January 5 thru January 11
With the snowblower freshly repaired we got to give it a try. It did well in the looser snow that had not been thawed and re-frozen. We got somethings cleaned up with it at the studio and at our house before taking it over to the transmitter site. At the transmitter site some solidified snow is blocking some critical drainage paths. This solidified snow caused the stress that broke the plow mount. The hope is that a snow blower will be able to slowly chew through this stuff to make an exit path for the spring thaw water. Well between the stress of pushing into the hard snow bank and a few rocks mixed in with the snow the snow blower isn't fixed anymore. Here is a picture of the snowblower hitching a ride back to the shop.

The next big thing was finding out that the septic feed at the studios had frozen. After trying to use a small steamer to thaw out the pipe, we found that the length of the pipe we were thawing was too long for this small steamer to provide heat at the point of the frozen blockage.

Karl came up with the idea of using the hot water from the building's hot water heater, piped through airhose to deliver heat to the blockage. The biggest drawback to this method was all the warm water that came back to the building that we needed to haul out of the basement. In these pictures you can see us feeding the hot water line (extra air hose) into a small cleanout. The hot water method, combined with a thaw tracer wire to keep things from freezing back up when the hot water isn't flowing, payed off after ~ 36 hours.

During our week of septic ordeals life continued with our regular duties at the station. Here Kristofer is driving to work.

This week Kristofer got his first haircut. Now when he eats popcorn with mom and dad he can actually SEE the movie.

January 12 thru January 18
Well as the temperatures came up, we finally got out on the snowmobiles a little bit. The -30 temps were just too cold, especially for Kristofer when he is barefoot.

We are planning to be away from home for almost a month so we took this opportunity to add some heating oil to our tank to make sure things stay warm in our absence.

On Wednesday we headed into town to get Jerry. He is making our trips possible by keeping things going at KAGV and at our house. While we were in town we picked up the woodstove we ordered for our basement. OK at the store they have a forklift. At home, no forklift so how exactly to get this heavy thing out of the truck? Well first we take out all the fire brick to reduce the weight, then we tie a rope around the base.

Then with a ramp in place, we slowly work it down the ramp with the rope friction keeping it from accelerating. What a relief to finally have our Blaze King!

Then on Friday we get up early to catch our flight to Bethel.

The morning flight was cancelled because the thaw had left the runway in Bethel without any traction and strong crosswinds. They give us our luggage back and book us on the afternoon flight.

Kristofer walked and walked and walked. Some fellow travellers saw him and were talking to eachother. Traveller A said "boy he is a cutie." Traveller B replied "That kid is gonna sleep good tonight, he must have walked 500 miles in this airport today!"

Well the afternoon flight was cancelled so we called our chauffeur. Before the weekend was over Jerry had driven ~ 180 miles(while keeping KAGV going at the same time) of the 360 miles we travelled back and forth to the airport. The thaw flooding messed up a lot of things, here is the Wal-Mart parking lot under water.

Speaking of flooding we did finally break through the snow bank that would prevent drainage at the transmitter building. Just in time, the combined efforts of snowblower and plow made way for the thaw. Unable to book another flight to Bethel until Sunday we got a "free" Saturday to hang out. Here are some grouse we spotted. Such a cute couple, we decided not to break up the family to make stew.

Another opportunity afforded by our "free" Saturday was that a package arrived from Grandma and Grandpa. Some Kristofer sized glasses and some yummy yummy apple bits.

Some of our "free"Saturday we spent working on the details of the drywall in our basement, finishing the strip in the middle of the wall and doing detail work in the closets.

Back to the airport on Sunday. Here we are getting into the plane we thought would take us to Bethel. After 20 minutes in the air we were back at our favorite spot at the Anchorage airport relaxing while they brought a plane out without panel indicator failures.

Feeling right at home in the Era terminal Kristofer decided to relax and read a little more about sport fishing. OK finally we found a plane that took us to Bethel. It was great to see Palmer and Bonnie and be back in Bethel again.

January 19 thru January 25
With Palmer and Bonnie going to their home for a two week vacation, we quickly stepped into their places to keep KYKD going. In some areas we came up shorter than others.

A few weeks ago one of the potable water storage tanks at the KYKD apartment sprung a slow leak. In order to make a better plan on how to resolve this we need to find the leak, so here Karl heads down into the tank to get a better look. With all the rust, it is difficult to find where exactly the leak is.

Well here Karl is scooping and blowing the rust deposits to get a better look at the surfaces and the seams.

Between choruses of "I AM IRON MAN" Karl managed to remove a great deal of rust from the tank. The next step is to dry out the tank and come back with a wire brush and a vacuum to look along the seams for any small holes.

Bethel is different than our home. It is a land of high winds and high prices.

We are having fun and we are glad for the opportunity to catch up with our friends at church here. We have missed the folks we got to know last summer.

January 26 thru February 1
This week started like many other weeks. Having fun together, wrestling, trying marshmallows for the first time. Oh the calm before the storm.

The mission vehicle broke to the point that it would die everytime it came to a stop and was very difficult to restart. That quickly became irrelevant as a day of high winds (wind chills to -40) built up a 3 foot snow drift across the driveway trapping the broken vehicle.

We did call a service to clear the driveway but only moments after this picture was taken, the loader died further reinforcing the blockage of the driveway. Well really most people from around here prefer the snowmobile for transportation anyway. Actually if this machine could turn on ice it would probably be much quicker and cost effective to run errands by snow machine all winter.

Oh yeah, we had guests in the upstairs apartment last week. Through no fault of their own, these guests were not familiar with the water conservation that is a practical part of everyday life here in Bethel. Even after they chipped in for an extra septic removal and water haul, when they left there was only 100 gallons left of the 1000 gallons that usually last 2 weeks. With 6 days left to our next water delivery we finally broke down and hauled ~90 gallons from the studio building so we could bathe and wash clothes.

We actually were surprised at how convenient the snowmobile was for getting around town, from shopping to getting the mail it actually makes sense. This weekend was the Bethel Classic Basketball Tournament. And we did take a break and we got to root for the Togiak girls as they triumphed over the Bristol Bay team.

At the game, Kristofer made some friends while making his way through the stands. Speaking of friends, we finally got to catch up with KC, a highschool friend who is teaching middle school at a village a short snowmobile ride down river from Bethel.

A sudden realization Friday night that if we couldn't move our vehicle out of the driveway, then the water truck couldn't get into the driveway with the water we were begining to need badly. Well, many thanks to the city equipment operator that answered our call and was able to finally free up our driveway just hours before our early morning delivery.

Each time we come to Bethel Kristofer has some new milestones. This time he is grasping the skill of using utensils to get food into his mouth. It takes concentration but the pay off is big.

February 2 thru February 8
The Bailey's came back from vacation on Monday.

They have provided two new things. Kristofer got a fork designed especially for him and KYKD got a small generator to heat up the big generator during winter power outages. Kristofer seems to have a pretty good idea of how to work both of these new things.

With the Bailey's back faithfully serving at KYKD it was time for us to pack up and say goodbye.

Not so much waiting at the airport going back from Bethel to Anchorage.

Winging our way away from Bethel and over many mountains to get back home.

Really feeling quite at home at the Anchorage airport Kristofer had to get in some good walking. Then at our own home he got caught up on some tractor riding after two weeks away from his tractor.

Well one short sno-go ride before we pack up to go to Nenana. This time the luggage restrictions are rather liberal; and the tractor comes along.

The drive north had many different road conditions.

With a tower light outage at KIAM, here Karl is inspecting some of the wiring at the base of the KIAM-AM tower. We started right in on repairs and upgrades to help the KIAM radio facilities operate more efficiently.

We really enjoy our time together with the Blairs. Working, eating and playing all great things to do with friends.

For the first time in a few years KIAM broadcast local basketball games for the tournament hosted in Nenana. We enjoyed attending the games and letting the folks at Small Schools Broadcasting do the hard work.

February 8 thru February 15
Quite a few projects in Nenana were started and were left unfinished. Here Karl is starting the wiring necessary to re-install the backup transmitter for KIAM-AM.

We had fun working alongside Bob Eldridge (VFCM Founder) while tackling some of these projects. Kristofer can never pass up the opportunity to sit at the helm of motorized equipment.

At the studios quite a bit of progress was made with help from the Blair kids.

Tuesday, Karl drove into town with 3 Blairs and 3 dogs. Gwen is Brian's guide dog. Bo and Cooper are guide dogs in training that Gabrielle and Elliot are training. While picking up supplies, Brian also took the opportunity of being in town without Laurie to get her some beautiful roses for Valentine's day.

We drove home Friday night in time to take Jerry to the airport Saturday morning. On the ride into town we discovered that Michaela Blair must have been teaching Kristofer her new writing skills. Finally at the airport we said our many thanks and goodbyes to Jerry. It is the service and support from folks like him that are keeping the Gospel going out on the 4 stations of the I Am Radio Network.

We found the Barnes and Noble to match Kristofer's Christmas gift card. Kristofer enjoyed shopping.

A book with wheels and its a John Deer at that, a must have! Put it on the card.

This next Wednesday we are expecting a team of three guys coming to help us with our house. Got to keep 'em fed so we are off to Costco.

February 16 thru February 22
Well, the week started out just like normal . . .our 15 month old started. the snowmachine and fell asleep while eating.

On Wednesday, Jeff, Brent, and Chet from our sending church in Washington showed up to help us work on the house. It's been tape, mud, and more mud ever since. Even Kristofer is getting in on the act.

Jeff also has a "grease monkey" inclination, so he tore into VFCM's Mitsubishi in the hopes of removing the malfunctioning alternator.

With beautiful weather this weekend, we took the opportunity to play in the great state of Alaska. Saturday we went for a nearly 40 mile snowmachine ride. All six of us were able to go as Karl and Kristan took turns riding behind one machine in the sled. Sunday after church we went to the ice races on Big Lake and the three visitors got to take a ride in a small bush plane.

February 23 thru March 1
The guys got a lot done this week. Here we are working on finishing up the garage walls.

Evenings are a good time together with the Lake City team. Here Kristofer is making some cookies and checking out uncle Chet's Macintosh laptop. "Uncle Chet, why doesn't it say "Intel Inside"? Is this really a computer?"

Lot's of progress downstairs too. Nothing like sanding to bring out the best in us.

Kristofer got in on the action too.

With all the guys here it was a real good opportunity to get the new woodstove downstairs. All the extra hands and backs made quick work of what otherwise would have been a very daunting task.

Back in the garage, lots of drywall going up.

Before we knew it, it was time for Jeff and Chet to pack up and head home. Thanks for your great work! Come back any time, before long we should have beds for you that aren't in the living room.

Here Kristofer is checking out tools at Sears. He never misses a chance to drive.

At Spoprtsman's Warehouse the whole family is finding rest in an ice fishing shack. Back home Kristofer is getting the call of the "Go", Sno-Go that is.

The three guys got all bundled up (Kristofer even got body warmers this time) and we went out on a guys only snowmachine ride. On our ride up the Little Su we spotted this small piece of Disney. This little town of Houston, AK always seems to have new surprises for us.

March 2 thru March 8
Kristofer is learning more and more skills. Here he is helping his mom make a cheesecake and then in her office he is spinning some worship tunes on the CD player.

Brent stayed on with us and he is helping out in many ways. From continuing with the drywall work to getting firewood and working on the snow blower it is great to have him working with us.

On Wednesday, Karl and Brent went into Anchorage to get press passes for the Iditarod sled dog race. Afterwards they got to attend the last night of this year's Native Musicale complete with parka parade.

Well the mission's plow truck gave up the ghost this week, with the transfer case no longer transferring anything anywhere. Just in time, Brent's work on the snowblower paid off. Even though reverse isn't functional, a snowblower that moves forward and blows snow is the essential part.

With the guys working, Kristofer chose to join in whenever possible, letting mom catch up on some things at work.

Saturday we went to the ceremonial start of the Iditarod sled dog race. Here we got lots of interviews with mushers.

While waiting for a chance to talk with Big Lake musher Martin Buser, Sarah and Todd showed up to wish him well. Well the dogs were off to Nome (via Willow's restart) and we were off to get back home.

But not until after we had a visit with our friend Pompi where we enjoyed some great Philipino food and ice cream. At home Kristofer sometimes has meals of no particular culture or tradition. Here he is eating pasta with a side of mustard and chased with a glass of half and half, and enjoying every bit of it.

March 9 thru March 15
After one last sanding, Karl and Brent got the texture sprayed. A task best done without interuptions except for a quick calorie break.

With the plow truck in the shop, Brent got to work clearing snow with the freshly repaired blower. But the local shop was quicker than expected replacing the transfer case so before we knew it Brent was learning the ropes of plowing snow at the KAGV facilities.

It came too quick, it was time for Brent to pack up and return to Washington. Thanks for the good work and companionship.

As a young person, Kristofer experiences "firsts" on a regular basis. Here Kristofer is checking out his first band-aid and watching his first episode of Gilligan's Island, some major milestones.

Saturday was an intense day of paint work, putting on a coat of primer over the textured walls downstairs.

Kristofer helped out too but tired a little quick.

With Karl working on corners and walls and Kristan taking on the ceilings the facial paint wasn't distributed exactly evenly.

Some more firsts for Kristofer. A ride in a Home Depot racing cart and a ride on a shovel.

Who knew shovels could move snow in addition to giving good rides. We took some time out in the beautiful sun to dig out our old digs. Then finished off the week with a video call to grandparents.

March 16 thru March 22
This week we have had many moose sightings around our house and the radio studio. Here are a few shots to try to convey the size of these animals. Still . . .the pics don't do them justice.

The garage window that was broken a couple of weeks ago arrived and Karl took the time to replace the styrofoam insulation with glass.

Lately, Kristofer has developed a very cool fascination with books. He likes to have us read to him over and over again and he likes to pretend that he is reading outloud with his pointer finger and a bunch of "cute" but unintelligable sounds. While Karl brought the snowmachine inside the garage to work on it, Kristofer thought it would be a good time to get in a little fun.

Always the adventurer, Kristofer is shown here soaking up a few "first day of spring" rays and dreaming about the day when he will be able to reach the peddles.

On the house construction front, this weekend we were blessed to be able to get the first coat of real paint on the basement walls. We hope to get the second coat on sometime this next week.

March 23 thru March 30
When not at work we spent our time this week getting ready for a short vacation trip to a remote cabin. Here Karl and Kristofer work on getting the sno-gos in shape and then Karl is shown clearing the snow off of our snowmobile trailer.

A 5 minute highway trip got us to the trailhead, where we unloaded our snow caravan.

A quick 6 mile ride (compared to 19 directly from our house) and we made it to the cabin we rented. We took in a little of everything for the first night.

With the wood burning in the stove to heat things up we settled into our little cabin.

Here Kristofer is checking out the facilities. After a quick look, he says "no thanks" to the potty training offer, and makes the decision to stick with diapers for the weekend.

Our cabin although only 12x12 has a wonderful view of Lynx Lake and we enjoyed all the comforts offered including SPAM and eggs.

On our second day we took a trip back to the truck for fuel. More gas and more wood to keep the cabin warm.

We enjoyed relaxing. The camping stove popcorn eaten while listening to our wind-up radio was especially good.

We gave ice fishing another try to no avail. Seems we need someone who actually knows how to fish in order to succeed.

On our second full day we took time to explore the rest of the park snowmobiling. Some of the trails were a little too exciting to take any pictures. However here Kristofer seems to be a little under-excited. On a late afternoon excursion Kristofer and his dad explored the route back toward our house. Here Kristofer is posing next to the sign where we turned around a few weeks ago when we rode out here with the Lake City crew.

Back in the cabin we just hung out a lot enjoying being a family.

Before we knew it the time came to pack up and say goodbye to the little cabin that was ours for three nights.

On our last night in the wilderness, Mt Redoubt (a volcano about 125 miles away) blew ashes our way. When we got home it was a mess.

We got our cars as well as the sno-go trailer washed off. I think this is a first for us to wash cars in the snow.