Friday, July 18, 2008

The Squirrel Has Left The Building!

That's me, breathing a sigh of relief. That. Stupid. Squirrel. has AT LAST been captured. And she didn't have to get turned into a nice fuzzy change purse either.

So, my landlord finally got a REAL squirrel trap from the animal shelter. And much to my chagrin, That. Stupid. Squirrel. even initially managed to SOMEHOW evade capture in the trap. Seriously, nothing is more frustrating than to come home and see That Stupid Squirrel happily running in and out of the set and baited trap, carrying peanuts from the trap to the roof. The trap was malfunctioning.
My first thought was: WHY didn't I buy a gun at Walmart when J was oohing and ahhing over the Bear Blaster 9000 and convincing me that it wasn't "just" a rifle but an important accessory to our Alaskan ensemble.
I couldn't stand it anymore.
It was time for something drastic.
I silently unlocked the back door and waited. It wasn't long before Bushy made another trip to the trap to confidently gather more peanuts to store in my roof.
With a rebel yell, I threw open the door and ran outside, screaming my Squirrel Hunting War Cry, scaring the ever-living-you-know-what out of Beans, who had been minding her own business inside playing with blocks. Ordinarily I would feel very bad about terrifying my own child, but in this particular case, her screaming in terror helped. Bushy was petrified, her prized peanut falling to the ground in slow motion as jaw went slack like a cartoon character. I ran out the door and my stomping on the deck made the trap door slam shut. I screamed and began a Squirrel Capture Dance. I am sure my neighbors probably think I've gone off my rocker or assume I am trying to do cheap imitations of tribal dances, but I couldn't help but celebrate.
As I jumped up and down, hootin' and hollerin', Beans finally realized that Mommy was making happy noises and stopped screaming and started laughing at me. I scooped her up and we went out on the deck for a closer look at our victory. One very angry, freaking out, scared out of her mind squirrel, who was desperately seeking an escape plan.
The landlord came over immediately to claim and relocate the squirrel. Thank goodness, though I still think relocating the squirrel is a very dumb idea. And if she happens to relocate right back to her roof, I will be returning to walmart for the Bear Blaster 9000.
If I had known we were going to capture Bushy today, I would have bought a celebratory beverage while I was at Safeway today.
Instead, I am celebrating with an entire box of (very overpriced) Mike and Ikes.


In other news: today was a FABULOUS day! I met Susan Stevenson out at Dalman's Family Restaurant for breakfast.

First, I have to explain Dalman's.
What I love about it: As Alaska restaurants go, the food is actually pretty good, and even worth paying for. In the mornings, it's full of men who look like they just walked off the set of "Deadliest Catch" or "Tougher In Alaska", or families that look like they just came out of the Bush for a day in town. These dudes are tough, unshaven, Grizzly Adams type men. They look tough, they talk tough. And that's just thier kids.
Yeah, it's awesome.

And then, today, I discovered that the really tough, grizzly-looking guy that bought me and my husband breakfast last week (compliments of Beans flirting like a pop star) is actually a YOGA INSTRUCTOR.
Yeah buddy. It's tougher in Alaska. teehee.
Ah, I digress. So, Beans and I met Susan for breakfast where I basically talked her ear off for most of it. Beans did her best to smear greasy homefries on Susan's pants, and Susan was graceful enough to accept this.
We had a really good time. Ever meet someone you feel like you've known for years? It was kind of like that, a good fit as far as friends go.
We must not have been horrible company ourselves, because after breakfast, we all loaded up into my van and went to Chena Lakes Recreational Area.

This is where I should mention a good "survival" tip to anyone else new, visiting, or wondering about Alaska. Today, I decided to do something "Alaskan-ish", and that was: Never Let the Weather Dictate Your Day.
Today was rainy and drizzly, and kind of chilly. Back in the lower 48, I would have considered it a good day for indoor activities, or maybe even not getting out of bed. If you do that here in Alaska, you will pretty much never get out of bed again for the rest of your life. Seriously, on my way to the dump today, still rainy and cold, a family was having a picnic at the park. You have to just get out there.

So we gathered up the "rain gear". Our "rain gear" consists of my "fancy" tourist styled jacket for "crummy but not too cold weather" (bought at Fred Meyers), and Beans' Land's End full body rain suit that we found at the dump with the tags still on it. (I LOVE treasure hunting!) Oh, our "rain gear" also consists of the frame backpack for carrying Beans, and two barrettes for my hair, which I don't even remember if I bothered to brush before going out this morning.

So, Chena Lakes is a BEAUTIFUL place. It's actually part of the flood plains. There was a huge flood here in the 60s that covered everything in town except the college. Everyone lost everything. After that, the dam was built. The recreational area goes all over the place. There are hiking trails, lakes, places to rent canoes in the summer and icehouses in the winter, a swimming lake, a few fishing spots... it's an outdoor paradise.
After taking us on the grand tour and getting the lay of the land, Susan directed me to a parking area where we left the car, suited up, and headed out on our walk.

PAUSE. I want to add a side note that another thing I love about Alaska is that you can find outhouses/porta-potties just about everywhere. And amazingly enough, most of them are pretty clean and well cared for. I know, you guys were all wondering about the potties in Alaska. So I thought I would share.

So, like I said, we suited up and headed out. I have no idea how far we walked. We actually stuck to a paved trail and observed a lot of wildflowers. Susan (who knows a TON of gee whiz information about these flowers!) pointed them out to me, naming them off like a botanist. I'd be lucky to even remember the name of one of them. But she also showed me a nice wildflower identification guide, which I purchased this afternoon at Safeway as well.
ANYHOO... along the trail was some wild rasberry, with a few berries just about ripe. I nibbled one and they tasted delicious. I really hope they were raspberries, and not poison berries. Good news is: I'm not dead yet, so I guess they were ok.
Along the way, we also saw some kind of owl in a tree. And some other birds that we think were maybe domestic chickens. We were hoping for a moose spotting, but no such luck today.

We chatted about life, our backgrounds, and other "getting to know you" kind of stuff. And I had a really good time. Like I said, it kind of gave me the "running into an old friend" kind of feeling. Beans was slightly less cooperative with the walk back. Maybe due to her top teeth trying to break through, but also maybe because by the time we turned around, she was hungry, wet and cold, and facing into the rain for the walk back. Susan and I chatted above her screaming, which she continued to do on the way back to Dalman's as well.

You can check out what Susan had to say at her blog:
as well as some great pictures of me and Beans.


I had a really good time. I DO want to mention that when I shared my story with a couple locals today, I was highly advised to never go there again without a rifle or a pistol, preferably a .44.
I was skeptical about this, especially considering that Susan was not even slightly concerned about bears, so I asked my landlord when he came to retrieve That Stupid Squirrel. He agreed that it was not very smart to meander through Chena Lakes without a weapon, and gave me a pseudo-scolding for traversing a few trails at Chena Hot Springs without a rifle as well.

Well, all's well that ends well. I didn't get eaten by a bear. I didn't even SEE a bear. I survived my first couple walks in the "woods" in Alaska. So I feel kind of tough.
Even if I am still a cheechako.

Oh. I also learned that Alaskans do not have snow mobiles. They have snow MACHINES. And EVERYONE will know I am still cheechako if I say snow mobile.

Tomarrow's agenda: we apparently did not offend Susan too much. Beans and I will travel to Fairbanks tomarrow to check out the Farmer's Market, then meet up with Susan to go watch the Rubber Ducky Races and check out some of the vendors and festivities in town for Golden Days.

A note on that: Next year, I am TOTALLY going the first day of the festival. People in town dress up as pioneers and they do a big reenactment thing of some guy taking his gold to the bank, and then a contest with the costumes. I am TOTALLY going to dress up as a pioneer woman, and dress Beans up as well.

Another note on being "tougher in Alaska". I passed another rite of passage here last night. In stoking my fire in the wood stove (yes, it IS still chilly enough at night to use the wood stove!), um, I grabbed the wrong part of the stove door handle. I am now the "proud owner" of a 2nd and 3rd degree burn to my hand. That's right, folks... I burned it pretty good. A small area, but charred and without sensation. I called my husband panicking, with tears welling up in my eyes, wondering what to do. He promptly reminded me that I'M the paramedic in our family.

The best thing about being a paramedic? Being able to look at my own injury and say, "Yep, that's a 3rd degree burn on your hand, alright."
The good thing about a 3rd degree burn? Well, it doesn't hurt, except for the area around the burn that is only a 2nd degree burn.

I certainly hope the remaining rites of passage to being "Alaskan" are not nearly as painful (or scarring) lessons.


Alright. Time to find a way to get the Teething Wonder back to sleep. Looks like she has three cutting in at the same time. Poor girl!

Stay tuned for our adventures at the Farmer's Market, attending the ducky races, and the excitement of festivals!

Happy Moose Trails, y'all...

1 comment:

Susan Stevenson said...

I have never carried a weapon "into the wild" while here in AK, and have seen plenty of bear scat (in Valdez) and continued my meandering in the tall brush regardless. I've been going to Chena Lakes for years, and the most I've seen is moose. OK, so granted, perhaps someone's been chased by a moose - or maybe even seen a bear there - but sheesh... carrying a weapon is not a mandatory thing - at least not in my opinion. Call me stupid.

I had a great time, and was excited this morning (5:30am) to see some patches of blue which seem to be disappearing. That's a real bummer as Golden Days is much better enjoyed under sunny skies. This will be the first year since I've gotten here that I think it's rained. (I think).

Anyway... see you later this afternoon!