*Names and identifying details have been altered to protect the innocent people who could sue me.

January 28, 2011

Day 5

Dear family,

The nice thing about moving to a new place on the first day of the year is that someone else is always doing the counting for you. Today is January 5th, so I have been here 5 days. Here is what I have accomplished so far:

Sunday was Chester’s birthday. Because it's so warm the snow is melting and then freezing into ice, so it wasn't safe to climb any mountains. (Though when we eventually do, I will be singing Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Climb every mountain," but probably only in my head.) We drove to the "outskirts" of Anchorage and took a tourist-y trail that basically just wound around one side of Turnagain Arm, a stretch of water that Captain Cook explored while looking for that elusive Northwest Passage. Not finding it here he, appropriately, "turned around again" and went back out to sea. (Hm. Come to think of it, maybe the body of water was named after him and not the other way around.) It was windy, wet, and cloudy - felt like Cape Cod weather and made me feel right at home. We left the path for a minute and went up on a ridge so I could see it all spread out -- Anchorage at one distance and the mountains in the other (that's the Kenai Peninsula where Chester grew up - about 15 minutes by boat or plane, but 2.5 hours by car on account of the mountains and the snow). The picture here shows me facing the direction of Anchorage with the mountains behind me and the water and the Kenai peninsula to my right. Since the tide was out there were also huge stretches of mud flats, not to be confused with beaches because you can't walk on a mudflat -- you'll get sucked down and die. "Not a very nice way to die, suffocated by mud," I said. "Oh no, you don't get pulled all the way under, you just get stuck," Chester replied. "But, then you die from hypothermia." So, I guess I'll stick to icy mountain paths when I want to take a walk outside.

Since we were hungry, had only Christmas cookies in the car, and hadn't been food shopping, we went to another local restaurant for garlic/cilantro fries, which are pretty much every bit of good as they sound. Chester’s mom came up for his birthday so we went over to his sister's house for cake and to watch his absolutely adorable 2 year-old nephew explain the world to us. The child does not stop making noise, ever, but unfortunately he has a speech delay (he was born preemie) so he's completely unintelligible most of the time. That doesn't stop him from narrating everything to you, though. Except to me - also unfortunately, he appears to be absolutely petrified of me. At one point he tripped, face planted on the floor right next to me, and was so scared of me that he forgot to be scared of the fact that he'd slammed his face against the floor. He just got up and backed away, watching me warily. Oh well - so far his mom, sister, and sister's boyfriend seem to like me. You can't win 'em all.

We also met up with some of Chester’s friends for drinks, which was both fun and exhausting since my time-zone-change still hadn't adjusted. So far his friends seem to like me too - so I guess it's just the two-year-olds I have to watch out for.

Chester’s been at work 8-5 this week so I've gotten some good downtime around the house now. I've been reading and working on writing, and I even did some unpacking, so I guess I'll stay for a while. In other good news, yesterday I had lunch with a new friend (Chester’s cousin's girlfriend) and she also really, really, really wants a dog. I'm going to work on my Chester Tree-Hopper and she's going to work on her Chester Tree-Hopper and between the two of us, somebody will have a dog before too long.

Love to you all --

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