TWO HUNDRED THIRTY NINE…buffalo, moose, and bears oh my

1,390 miles

14 hours per day

For 96 hours (a total of 4 days in case your like me and suck at math)

On Highway 2

That’s right friends we made it

A L A S K A

The final frontier

If you want to go back and re-read the introduction from beginning to end with your best Will Arnett vocal impersonation I encourage you to do so. I just did it in my head and I must say, It sounded amazing. And one more thing, when you read the line “The final frontier” make sure to use your lower register and move your eyebrows up and down in a really sinister way… just try it. It really helps in getting the message across.

Hmm where to begin. Do I start with the 4 days driving on half gravelled/half paved spine crushing roads. Should I open with a bragadocious piece of information about my finishing 3 audible thrillers within four days. Maybe I should begin with how overly enthusiastic we were when the trip began and how our attitudes for adventure quickly waned by the end of the second day. Or maybe, just maybe, I start with the end of the story where we were all willing to give Cecilia her own Tobagon complete with a group of Alaskan Huskies so that when she yelled, her directions would not only be welcome, but expected.

I guess it doesn’t really matter where I begin, as long as I accurately convey that 1,390 miles of half paved/half gravelled spine crushing roads will test the patience of even the most enthusiastic of road trippers and potentially jam your vertebrae together to pinch a large collection of nerves. We put in 12 sometimes 14 hour days on highway number 2 and it was every bit as treacherous and beautiful as they say.

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Along the way we had lessons in Science everywhere we looked, with all the wildlife roaming free around this vast landscape. We saw moose, buffalo, and many many bears. It was something to see these animals up close. It was intimidating to see how big they were and we were in an RV…which sits up pretty high.  The girls were enamoured with the animals facial expressions. We thoroughly entertained ourselves with made-up inner dialogues of each group:

Abby suggested the moose needed to cross the road to meet up with other moose peeps for their journey to camp…moose guarding camp of course.

Groups of buffalo looking to change-up their scenery would begrudgingly follow the leader of the pack. According to both Phoebe and Abby their dialogue went as follows:

Buffalo number 24 says to Buffalo Number 25 all the way in the back of the pack, “Do you know why Fred is going back this way?”

Buffalo Number 25 answers, “Fred pooped his pants and needs new underwear.” But it doesn’t end there, continue to repeat the poop line six or seven times and with every proclamation as if on cue, high-pitched giggling ensues.

We ran into some luck and actually saw a buffalo pooping on the side of the road, so that was the highlight of the day. Who am I kidding, it was the highlight of the entire trip…for the girls.

Both girls agreed the buffalo were heading to the nearest mall…for the Buffalo underwear…don’t want to be caught with turtle tracks in your undies!! The conversation went on for a lot longer than I care to record here. You should feel secure in knowing hours of “belly gas”  conversation which led to both topics of  belching and the always popular farting were discussed at length. Or more like ad nauseam. I hope with all of the “issues” those poor buffalo were afflicted with, they have finally recouped from their flatulent bellies. Fingers crossed on that one folks. Fingers crossed!

Of course all along our journey we saw several families of mamma bears and their baby cubs going scavenging and foraging for the upcoming school year. “They are hoping to find new satchels, computers, and shoes” that was my contribution. Not quite as exciting and scandalous as gaseous buffalo and camp-bound moose, but by the fourth day I wasn’t overly concerned about my creative responses. I just wanted to get the BLEEP out of the asylum on wheels.

Greg even swears he saw a reindeer with big fuzzy antlers which my friend Elena and I have named Boots. Unfortunately my friend Elena isn’t with us on our journey, but I pretend she is by texting her every five minutes to give her updates on our tremendously exciting lives. She’s super jealous.

Just kidding. She’s not jealous.

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For the first two days of our journey Thursday and Friday, I drove the entire time just because it was a workday for the hubs. So he used one of his many audible tokens to give me a 13.5 hour audio crime thriller by Author Gillian Flynn called Dark Places. This is the same author who wrote Gone Girl.

From the moment the book began to four hours later, I took my first bathroom break, which is unheard of for me. I’m usually an every two-hour potty break kind of girl. I drink a lot of water.

A LOT OF WATER.

Needless to say, I finished the 13 hour book just as we were pulling into our first stop-over on our very first day. I was dumbfounded for an hour or so, still completely enveloped in the world created by the author. I then promptly begged Greg to get the authors third book Sharp Edges.

The next day, Friday, 9 hours came and went and just like that. All the characters I had become so invested in, were gone. Poof. Into thin air. Never to materialize into the film going on in my mind. I had to shake these characters off. I was too tightly wrapped up in their world. I was too affected. Too emotionally involved. Attached. Invested.

It was time for a third crime book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The summer of 1999, after graduating from my undergrad program, I moved to New York. I was terribly lonely and subletting a room with fellow classmates from previous years. I stole In Cold Blood from my roommate Jonathan, and read it on my subway commute to midtown everyday…because reading crime novels is a great way to lift your spirits. I wanted another book like Gillian Flynn’s previous two. So this is the book I picked. Let me just say, it was creepy in the summer of 99 and it was creepy this past Sunday when I finished the 14 hour book in one day.

In between listening to books, Greg and I would pause to solve all of the worlds problems and try our very best to ignore the screaming, whining, crying jags from the girls.

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After the first 14 hours of driving on Thursday Cecilia was over all the cool coloring books, crafting supplies, small fun little toys, and little books we had bought specifically for this trip.

Abby and Phoebe are old enough to switch from one activity to another but Cecilia really likes it when I am at her beck and call sit with and show her how to use the stickers and color in her coloring books, when I read books to her, and finally when I play with her.

I love getting her started on all activities…but then I am ready to let her play/practice on her own. She was not down with that philosophy…at all…and would frequently yell loudly voice her protestations.

And after the second day of her declarations, we were all over it. Honestly, I am surprised I still have hair. BUT, we made it.

We are in ALASKA.

I’ve waited my whole young adult life to visit this land. I keep pinching myself, it’s so hard to believe. I’ve built it up so much in my mind…what the trees would look like, the crisp weather, the fresh smell of that crisp cool weather, the sound of nature, miles upon miles of untouched non-homogenized lands, and of course the people who call this unspoiled state home.

As soon as my spine heals, I am going to soak up everything Alaska has to offer. I want to experience everything. But not if it’s dangerous. No danger here folks. If the bears, buffalo, and Moose could just sort of…I don’t know…maybe hang out around the perimeter while the Spranger’s are here…that would be great. Totally awesome. Seriously, completely awesome.

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TWO HUNDRED THIRTY EIGHT…ADD = Awkward & Abrupt

I don’t know what I ate last night but I woke up at 4 am ready to take on the world. My ADD is in full effect. I woke up thinking about our upcoming trip to Alaska, a collie dog, Cecilia’s birthday which is ten days away, new shoes, a new computer because my computer and I are in a huge fight right now…the list goes on.

Because my ADD is in full effect, you’ll have to give me some space to ‘get it all out there’. Most likely this post will not have a cohesive linear flow…it will be choppy. Not that my posts ever have a cohesive linear flow. But, I just wanted to give some context up front.

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It’s a cool 62 degrees this morning in Minot, North Dakota. We have all of our windows open…all ten of them. We have some fresh cool air breezing through our humble abode and I feel so alive and refreshed.

I cannot believe in one day we will be starting our adventure to Alaska. Since I was in high school I have had an inexplicable intoxication with Alaska. A love affair with a location I have never been too. Most people dream of a tropical island…not me. I dream of frigid, isolated, vast landscape filled with friendly small towns. Clearly I watched too much Northern Exposure when I was a spring chicken. My brother loves Seinfeld, I love Northern Exposure.

I tried to convince my mom to let me drop out of college my junior year so I could work on a fishing boat in the elusive state. I’m glad she didn’t allow me to forgo the amazing education I was lucky to have, especially now that we are going to experience it first hand for a whole month.

I’ve been doing some research and “The land of the midnight sun” is going to blow my mind literally. I’ve always been so curious about the daytime hours in the summer up there. Being in North Dakota, it is hard to become accustomed to the sunset not happening until the 10pm hour. I think the whole going to bed with the sun blaring through our windows is going to be very difficult for the Spranger clan. I’m not sure how Phoebe will be able to wind down with the sun being out until a quarter till 12 am and then rising at the 4 am hour. Thank goodness our rig comes with blackout shades.

My mind is going to explode. I CANNOT WAIT.

And of course, I woke up thinking about Bear.

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Our beloved dog who passed away over a year ago. It really hit us hard.

Phoebe likes to say the blessing before we eat dinner and she always prays for Bear. She always asks for Bear to have a, “New chew toy and some really good food.” It breaks my heart every damn time. I hate to think about getting another dog, to “replace” Bear. No dog could ever live up to the ridiculously high standards he set for us.

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But I am ready to open our home and my heart to a new family member. It’s certainly not going to be in the form of a human baby, that ship sailed long ago. But I think I am going through some sort of “Oh Wow I’m out of the baby stage” as a mom. Instead of dealing with those emotions, I want to quickly replace them with a fluffy canine.

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I find myself lately doing research on different collie types. Growing up, my family always had Golden Retrievers. So naturally, when it was time for Greg and I to adopt our first baby, we met Bear a 6-week-old golden. I know and am so comfortable with the breed. I was 100% confident a Golden would be great with kids. They fit our lifestyle with their love of being outside and being active.

Greg grew up with a mix and later a Sheltie who had the best temperament. So I am expanding our horizons. I always said, “while we’re living our gypsy life, we would not get a dog.” But I truly miss the companionship a dog brings. I miss taking long walks, brushing, throwing toys, and the physical relationship a dog brings.

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I think I am finally ready.

And I think Cecilia would absolutely love having the responsibility of all that “taking care of a dog” brings. Seriously. I am not trying to make excuses. She is my little helper. She always helps put the dishes away, helps me put the clothes in the washing machine and then transfer them to the dryer, throw away her trash and even pick up after her sisters. She also thoroughly enjoys slapping dead flies with the fly swatter. She is such a funny little person.

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Which brings me to my next point, in ten days Cecilia is going to be six years old. I am so excited. I absolutely miss our kids in the infant and toddler stages, but it is awesome being able to get to know and interact with them as they grow. I love the relationships I have with all my girls.

It’s so much fun to talk with Abby and Phoebe about and help them cultivate their interests. They are each so different.

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The older Cecilia gets, the more we can do together. She loves grocery shopping with me. Yesterday, we travelled to a ridiculously expensive health food store. That was redundant wasn’t it…”a ridiculously expensive health food store”…is there any other kind? Anyway, Cecilia demanded to be allowed to put items into the cart and of course when we were in the check-out lane, place the carted items on the belt.

Her eagerness to help always garners affectionate responses from onlookers, which of course I love. She plays it up too…she’s such a little ham. Yesterday, our cashier asked me if it was ok to give Cecilia a “sugar-free” sucker. Cecilia looked at me and then at the cashier and said in her high-pitched voice, “Oh it’s fine” and with excitement showing on her face she reached out her chubby little hand and promptly said, “Mmm, Thank you!”

I also love it when people understand her. It means her speech is becoming more clear. The days where Greg and I interpret for her are fading more quickly. Yet another reason to love the fact she is growing up. We get to have conversations with her.

Like all toddlers, she says the funniest things. Her, “Oh Mommy, you’re okay” “you stop that now” “you are being a bad girl/boy Mommy/Daddy” “Use your fork Phoebe” “Come here Abby, you’re mine, go away Phoebe” “No this is mine, get away”, or just “get away”. I know there are some more nuggets in there I am leaving out, but these are the ones she uses on a regular basis. Coming from Abby or even Phoebe at their current age, it would definitely be offensive, but from the mouth of a five almost six-year-old, it’s the funniest damn thing.

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I tried to figure out a creative segue into the topic of “shoes” but it proved to be too much work for my little ole brain. So I am just going to dive right in…my husband and a dear friend of the family, Laura Brewer, are forever giving me “helpful” ideas about shoes. I am notorious for picking out “clownish” shoes that would look awesome on petite females with an equally petite foot size. My feet are not petite in any way. Finally at the age of 40,  I am figuring out, in fact, I cannot get away with the shoes I really want to wear.

 

Goodbye Keens. Sayonara long-tongued Converse. It was great knowing ya bright pink pointy toed flats. The dark cocoa colored Ugg boots which have provided so much warmth in the colder climates, we almost had it all. I think the goal now, is to draw attention away from my feet. Not with a new “homely style” been there done that, but something a little more subtle and female oriented. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. I am on the lookout for an appropriate shoe in this next phase of my life. When my computer is cooperating and working with me, I am viciously scouring and pinning ideas on Pinterest. I’m close…I can feel it.

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Which brings me to my final topic this morning…my computer. We have a tumultuous relationship. When I want to use it, it won’t cooperate. When I’m just looking for something to kill the time, it’s always available.

I’ve put so many raw picture files on this hard drive it takes an honest to you know what 45 minutes to boot up and by that time I have completely forgotten why I wanted to use the damn thing in the first place. We have been together for a solid five years now. It’s an Apple…and you know what they say about Apple products…”Once you go MAC, you never go back”.

I’m not quite ready to make the monetary commitment an apple product requires. I just can’t justify spending a small fortune this time of  year. We are end of the year heavy with birthdays and holidays. My bank account charges my brain $2.00 each time I THINK about the following six months.

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And just like that…I abuptly end this post. It was both fun and therapeutic to get this off my chest. Happy Wednesday…or as we say in the Spranger household, happy camel hump day!

 

TWO HUNDRED THREE…missing our furry side

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What do you do when your 9 year-old wants a puppy for her birthday…but your not quite ready? You gently explain, “Daddy and I are not quite ready to fill those big holes in your hearts just yet. The day will come…just be patient. I love you. Pick another gift.” Playing the mean mom today. Continue reading

FIFTY-FIVE…my little turtle

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I would like to preface this post by giving props to the band Two Door Cinema Club and their song, ‘something good can work’….makes me wanna dance like I haven’t changed 6 poopy diapers…like I haven’t swept/mopped my kitchen, dining … Continue reading