We are staying with close friends in Seward, Alaska: Jan and Amy (as well as Rick) were once inhabitants of the Goat House. Jan picked us up from the train depot around noon on Wednesday with the kids, Evie (4 years) and Ollie (1.5), strapped in their carseats. As expected, Evie greeted me as “Goat.” She had a surprise, too. For reasons known only to her, she dubbed Rick “Duck.”
After unloading our gear and getting familiar with the house, Rick and I joined Jan on a run to the dump and the grocery store. Amy was at work, so Ellen stayed home and watch Evie and Ollie during our errands. After depositing our trash and recyclables, we loaded ridiculously large logs into the trailer. I got to meet Mike, the hard-looking and gruff-talking transfer station operator. He initially reacted to my snapping photos with, “Come closer and I’ll add your camera to the pile.”
He warmed up considerably, however, when I extended my hand and introduced myself as a garbage geek and proud to have worked in the same profession as him. “Well, alright then. I bet this place is different than what you know down in Florida!” Well, yes. We don’t have to worry about grizzly bears stalking the back forty. (No kidding: Mike warned that five brown bears have been hanging around the dump this summer.)
After the dump, we hit the grocery store and returned home to unload our bounty. Ellen and the kids joined us outside for playtime and log splitting, which was immensely satisfying work. As city-folk, Duck (aka Rick) and I eagerly took turns with the axe. Having endured the snowiest winter on record, Jan was glad to watch us build up his stash. He went to pick up Amy from work and returned to kindle a fire in the pit outside, which added to the ambiance — and more importantly, kept the mosquitoes at bay.
We toasted Florida with mojitos and cooked up a feast fit for a family reunion. Rick, Ellen and I had only been in Alaska three days, but all agreed that it felt like a week. I tried writing, but quickly zonked out. Good thing: Our next days in Seward would be busy…