We spent much of the year, especially the latter half, as a family of 3. The HICKORY was busy. Much busier than the average buoy tender. They were gone all summer to the Arctic to supervise Shell's oil drilling that never actually happened, back for 3 weeks, and then gone for 7 more. After arriving home just in time for Halloween, they had to turn around and head out yet again for a couple more weeks of work. We were able to spend Thanksgiving together (and even managed to squeeze in a trip to visit friends in Juneau), before they left yet again. You know it's not normal when they have to request a waiver from the higher-ups for the number of days they have been away from homeport this year. We were lucky enough to also be together for Christmas (we haven't missed one yet, surprisingly) and even set out on a post-holiday ski vacation at Alyeska Resort. The ship was on standby, so of course it was recalled about 12 hours after we arrived. Back four hours through the mountain passes and icy roads we went (curing me of ever wanting to drive to Anchorage again in the winter!) so the ship could go assist with a rogue oil drilling rig that came free from the tug towing it. Across the Gulf of Alaska. In the winter. In a typhoon. Thanks yet again to Shell for their lack of knowledge of operating safely in Alaskan waters. They have been the main drain of our family time this year, not to mention what they have cost the Coast Guard. More on the latest, holiday-interrupting incident here. I have grown to really despise Shell, if you couldn't tell.
Our weather has been completely different than last year's. After the early October snow, we didn't get any more until Christmas Eve. We spent all of November in the single digits, with plenty of ice to contend with. It warmed up in December, but that led to rain. After the nearly two feet of Christmas snow, the rain returned in a big way. The snow is all but gone and the roads, yards, parking lots...everything... are all coated in ice again. We are actually looking forward to school starting back up so we have something to do again, other than watching movies and playing with play dough.
I know it may not sound like it, but we do still really love living in Homer. I'm actually a bit appreciative that the weather and ship schedule have not been very cooperative lately, as it helps make thinking about leaving not quite as terrible. For now anyway. I'll leave you with a few pics of our November and December adventures. The ship has just pulled back into the bay, so we are going to dress up and treat the LT to a fancy New Year's Eve family dinner out at our favorite restaurant, the Mermaid Cafe, since he has been out in 20-foot seas and 60-knot winds for the past 72 hours. I can't think of a better way to ring in 2013 and all the new adventures it will be bringing us.
Homer in Early November:
My very favorite people:
Thanksgiving in Juneau! Mendenhall Glacier, which is open year-round. We had such a great time hiking there in the snow. We had less fun trying to fly out of Juneau in a surprise snowstorm. Similar to living in Kodiak, the only way out is plane or ferry. The city itself is really fun...good thing, since it's on our list of possible places to move.
Winter Solstice, December 21, 10:40am. A balmy 5 degrees.