My last nights in Colorado, then, were spent most appropriately, first with the Sweeneys, and then with Dave Cialone. Even with all the craziness of everything that happened during those last days, I remember thinking that Cathy did not have the benefit of the extra “goodbye” time that I did, and I do most appreciate that I got that time.
Finally, the time came; Dave C dropped me at the airport with the rest of what I had in the world, and I flew to Alaska to bring up the rear guard of Team Wilmachek’s great northern adventure. Cathy met me at the airport (homecomings are nice!), we managed to cram the rifle case into the back of her Jeep (not an easy task) and poof! I was an Alaskan.
For a week we worked out of the Grand View Inn, during which I got started with Davalen, and suddenly we moved into the Nelchina Drive house, rented from Tony & Julie. Now ordinarily, this would have been an unequivocal step forward, but you must remember that what we have with us at this point is one Jeep, a desktop computer, a rifle case, some business papers, and a few clothes. The rest of our stuff is on the barge, somewhere in the North Pacific.
That became the mantra of the next several weeks: “Uh…yeah, we have one of those…it’s on the barge.” Then, we found out that the barge had been waylaid a week somewhere in the Alaskan panhandle, due to weather, so our timing was put off by another week. We did manage to get a kitchen table and a mattress into the house pretty quickly, but it was really Keith and Meaghan who rescued us with the loan of a few important items like comforter, towels, a couple dishes and utensils, and a cookpot. Then, they rescued us again when we managed to run out the Jeep’s battery without realizing it; we had the tools we needed, but they were “on the barge.” It’s humbling to feel so exposed; you know what to do and even have the means to do it, but you can’t get to it because it hasn’t arrived yet. This is where we noticed that there was nothing in Cathy’s Jeep that we normally have in there: winter kit, emergency gear, even things like a tire gauge and the attachment to the winch that allows us to use it as an air compressor. Factor in that this is wintertime in Alaska, with the temperature below zero outside, an eight-month-pregnant Cathy, and this is our only means of transportation. Yeah, we apparently like livin’ on the edge.
Finally, the barge arrived, and a truck dropped our shipping container in front of the garage. It was only then that we saw the next problem for what it was: the container was still mounted on the trailer, some five feet off the deck, with no loading ramp or anything of the sort. This was no problem for the pallets, which I just disassembled in the container; Cathy and I just carried the boxes into the garage one by one. Thing is, what to do about the piano. Oi.
In the end, we ended up hiring a service to come out, use their own ramp, uncrate the piano in the container (to be able to use the piano’s built-in handles) and manhandle it down the ramp and into the house with brute strength. Cost a little cash, but we felt a lot better once that thing got into the house and we confirmed that we had it all unloaded. And of course now it looks great in its ideal spot in the living room. Hooray!