Ginger and Ken drive to Alaska from Texas, through Wichita, Madison, Chicago, Corpus....

We decided to make a lifestyle change and move. Following are tales of our trips, packing mishaps, beautiful drives, visitations and more! This is Texas2Alaska2 because it is my second time to make the drive.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Distractions in Wichita

My sister has a wonderful house on a little over an acre in southwest Wichita. The yard came with a huge producing pear tree, a Jonathan apple, a couple of cherry trees and a few crab apple trees. Being someone who loves to cook, I could not bear to see that fruit go to waste. So I was constantly looking up recipes. I made apple pie, apple strudel, apple jelly, and pear-ginger butter. In between taking care of the baby, oh my gosh, there was so many more important things to do than pack! 

I also tried to keep food prepared for the tired mommy and daddy. Being in Kansas, there was lots of meat and pork to be had. Daddy spent a good deal of his adult life in eastern Idaho so potatoes were a must. Mommy and I tried to make large batches of stews, spaghetti, stir-fries and more. But with so many stomachs to feed, and mommy needing extra calories to nurse, it was hard to keep food for long. Thankfully we live in a time where the grocery store is a quick trip away and many prepared foods can be found eliminating cooking time. 

I would like to share some tips for those who have thoughts of making apple jelly. It takes a long, long, time. I used an old version of Fanny Farmer for the basic recipe. These recipes were not written with modern juicers in mind. I would recommend running the apples through a juicer before cooking. We cooked the apples but afterward had to run them through a sieve. Just cooking juiced apples would take a lot of time off the process. Now the pear-ginger butter was an old fashioned recipe but this time we used the Champion Juicer to reduce the pears to mush in order to cook them quicker. 
The apple pie was not so great, it was made with a store brand frozen crust that was horrible. A Pillsbury roll-out crust found in the cold section near butter was much better. Thanks to my friend Michael, a trained chef, who gave me that tip. Previously, I would have tried to make the crust from scratch. With a baby in the house, there is just not the time to dedicate to something so time consuming. Apple strudel was the most successful treat. By this time I had rejected Fanny Farmers which I had used for years. The apple strudel recipe came right off the pastry dough web site. It turned out so delectable, I highly recommend it. My sister does have internet service with a wireless modem. That made recipe look-ups easy and easier to cook with the instructions right by your side. 

Here is the apple jam final product with some of the sample Jonathan apples

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Long Interim in Wichita with the Baby

My sister’s baby was born one month early. He was a little boy and at that point being so thin, I thought he was pretty. Everyday was different with the newborn little one. My sister was very protective, but this made her very tired. Unfortunately, neither her nor her husband had a mother still or any other family nearby that could help. I was very glad to be close enough to help not only for her but so I could play with a baby too! 
The little one doubled in weight the first month. Everyone was so happy for him. There were all kinds of challenges, figuring out schedules, clothes and diaper sizes, gas and screaming and stuffy nose. Mommy and daddy slowly figured things out with help from our cousins who have had children. Ken and I were great baby sitters and his child rearing experience was of great help too. His chest was the biggest help, the little one loved sleeping on his belly. Mommy had one month off with the baby but dad had to keep working. So Ken and I at first had to pry the baby away from mommy so she could sleep. After a few weeks, it became easier to let others help especially once the baby was comfortable with a bottle. I know it seemed early, but it was breast milk! 
Ken and I spent days plotting and planning, evaluating and reevaluating our rig. Looking for new rigs, filtering trough possessions to decide what to take, and baby sitting. The baby sitting took most of our time. We both dearly love the baby and wish we could have packed him away with us. It was always a game to figure out what position or what distraction could calm the baby when he became bored or disturbed. Really what was happening was the baby was casting a spell on us. He was the center of the universe, I could not stand to leave him and was just as concerned about him when he was in a different room. If I could not hear him breathing I would get concerned–something you would think was good because that meant he was sleeping! 
After mommy started back to work, she and daddy arranged a work schedule were daddy works Friday to Sunday and mommy works Monday to Thursday. This way someone is always home with the baby. When mommy went back to work, Ken and I would pickup baby duty at about 8am until dad woke up in the afternoon and mom went to work at 3pm. Daddy would perform home chores and we could snuggle with the baby most of the day. Then daddy would take the baby at night. Mommy would usually nurse when she got home from work at 2am. 
Ken and I unloaded, sold and otherwise dispersed of pounds of personal belongings before moving to Wichita. Once in Wichita, we decided we still needed to relieve ourselves of many more items in order to make a smooth move with the rig we had. Our constant test was what was most important to have in Alaska for weather. What items were important for outdoor activities or work. What items would be difficult to buy in Alaska. What items would be too expensive to replace, and what items could be shipped economically. Think about moving so far away, what would you absolutely need to take? Here is our rig: 2002 Lexus RX300 with a 5x8 enclosed trailer.

Below: my sweet nephew in one of his favorite spots, on Ken

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Now we entered the transition period

At the beginning of September, Ken and I made the official move to Wichita. I had been up two times previous with the trailer taking family items to store at my sister’s. The trailer would be fairly full with plastic containers labeled with their contents. I also brought my own shelves as these came from the original storage. I had come into possession of lots of family history when my mom and her father (grandfather) passed away within a month of each other. Yes there were lots of collectible items, old items, household things, but most of all there were lots of photos. I had always thought I would have these catalogued and shared with distant family. That may still happen, but at a later date. At this point, I am so glad my sister seems to be stable with a house with plenty of extra room to share. 
On the day of the ultimate move, it became apparent the remaining items of mine and Ken’s would not fit in the little 5 x 8. We enlisted my brother to help with his truck pulling a 6 x 10 enclosed UHaul trailer. This made all the difference and we were able to haul out of Austin with one more load. I rode with my brother and Ken drove the Lexus. The little Lexus had been a trooper pulling the trailer to and from Kansas. After all, its is a slow climb from 600 feet above sea level to just about 1000. This trip it too when with no problems the 10 hours and 550 miles asked of it. 
Our drive was on a perfect day, clear skies and no wind. I was thoroughly elated to cross that Red River. 

Below: me, sis Vic, baby Andy, brother Butch. Notice the art prints, she and daddy are A&P mechanics.