Planes and Powerstrips

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Officially on our way!

Today is the day! We left Camden New York this morning at 9:30 to truly begin our adventure. We got to stop at one of my favorite local diners called Flo’s. It is known as the home of the 10ยข coffee, and features all of your favorite traditional diner fare. I think that is what I am going to miss the most outside of family; really good (and cheap!) diner food.

We have left the land of cheap anything for sure. I joked with Nathan that when we come back airport prices are going to look good to us!

I brought a power strip in my luggage after reading some tips for travel online, and it is truly a lifesaver. You would think that large airports like Chicago would have more plugs, but they are rare. I’m sitting now under a bank of pay phones at the sole plug in my area. It is placed far from the seating area of course.

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Does anyone use payphones anymore?

This has proved beneficial in more ways than one though. I am meeting people and hearing their stories as they share the plugs. In particular, a family of 10 all headed to vacation in Italy just unplugged to go board their flight.

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Extra plugs at the airport!

Our flight path for the day takes us from Syracuse to Chicago to Seattle, and finally to Anchorage, arriving at 1:29am: more than 16 hours after our first boarding. Our longest layover is here in Chicago for more than 6 hours. Thankfully the weather looks good across the country despite some thunderstorms early this morning in Central New York. Hopefully everything stays on track!

For now I’m going to go in search of some good coffee!

Moving Day!

Thank goodness I had a head start on packing, and that my mother insisted on coming down to help pack and drive a car for us. When we moved to our apartment back in November, I really thought that we would be staying in this adorable two bedroom. It was almost perfect, and we had a heck of a time moving all of the books we owned from our previous apartment. This was supposed to be it. So of course I have been accumulating more and more stuff: furniture, small kitchen appliances, craft items, and of course home decorations. Now having to choose what is really important enough to pay to ship all the way to Alaska, and what I could live without was a challenge.

Logically speaking I could have just pared down to things we had before we moved, but I simply couldn’t part with some things- I mean my immersion blender may be new but it has mad cooking certain things so much easier! Into the shipping box it goes!

Speaking of shipping boxes, we mailed a total of 2 uhaul dishsaver boxes, 1 uhaul large cardboard box, 1 poster tube, 1 TV box (the most expensive to send), 6 27gal plastic shipping totes and 5 18gal Rubbermaid roughneck totes. Overall it cost just about a thousand dollars. That is insane. For the basics for two people. I keep hearing about people who think it would be great and inexpensive to UST move up to Alaska and live off the land as a cheap alternative to living in the lower 48. I guess if you are just taking a suitcase then sure its cheaper, but then you have to have a job and all the essentials and a way to avoid dying of exposure. This move is taking a lot of time, money and planning. Thankfully we have a great school district that helps with a signing bonus, and a really great air miles credit card with Alaska Airlines.

All of the rest of our stuff that we haven’t shipped had to be donated, thrown away or packed into a uhaul and put into storage. We are storing everything in my grandmothers barn and my parents house. They will also be taking care of our cars while we are gone. I had hoped that we would be able to pack everything into the truck and drive all the way to central new York (5 hours away) in one day. That turned out to be really optimistic. We did get everything packed (use a hand truck or dolly when moving!) And made it to Clark’s Summit PA. Booking a room via hotwire was the best idea at that point; we were tired and sore from all the moving we had done. After a good nights sleep we were back on the road to CNY!

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Goodbye empty apartment!!

Last day at Sears

I have been working at Sears as an appliance sales associate for almost two years now. It was a great flexible part time job with great earning potential because it was a 100% commission structure.

Tuesday was my last day before moving to Alaska, as we are packing up the Uhaul tomorrow morning and heading up to Central New York to my parents house. I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of thanks, gifts, baked goods and goodbyes. It really goes to show that you can really make an impression even if you are only one person.

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Three Amazing Cakes from Jeanette!

It has only been a few days since then, but I keep finding myself telling stories from work. I even had to go into the small appliance store on Main Street here in Camden to satisfy my curiosity. It hasn’t really sank in yet that I am officially done with work for at least the next nine months or so, and I must work for myself now! But first- Vacation!

I am really going to miss everyone!

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Goodbye Dinner at Applebees

Packing Part Two- Shipping!

We have begun to ship our belongings to Napaskiak AK where we will be spending at least 9 months of our lives.

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Lots of Stairs!!

I went to the post office myself with the majority of the totes. I had to take them all the way down our stairs from our second story apartment and into my car. Moving in steps I was able to do it. I left the tote full of books for when Nathan was home though- that one was weighing in at 65 pounds on our scale at home, and that was too much for me to carry! Everything just barely fit in my car anyway.

At the post office, everyone was so nice and helpful. People held doors and chatted with me. People seem really shocked whenever I tell them that we are moving to Alaska- like it is a different country, and they can’t imagine ever doing it. What is really crazy though is that I ran into a man who was shipping his stuff and moving himself and his family back to Bangladesh! We wished each other luck, and he was off to the airport. And I thought the shipping costs were going to be high for my packages- at least I don’t have to worry about customs and international charges! I was a little annoyed that I had to lift all of the totes high up onto the counter ( about 4 1/2 feet!) to get onto the scale. I thought that they might have a larger lower scale like the airport, but no dice. It was funny to see them try to balance the totes on the little scale without bumping into their computers or other items.

Thankfully, our scale at home was pretty accurate so I had a good idea estimating the cost on the USPS website. They make it easy enough to put in the measurements and weight, and then give you a cost estimate. All of our boxes were too large to pay for postage at home (you can save money that way) and had to be verified by a postal worker. If you are planning to move to rural Alaska, be prepared- a 45lb tote costs about $80 to ship from the east coast. And we had five totes to send in our first batch. Hopefully we will only have about three more to send, but it is not a cheap thing to do. This is why most school districts offer a signing bonus or some form of reimbursement. However, the reimbursement is only really meant to cover the costs of ONE person moving, and in this case it is the two of us, so we obviously have more stuff despite donating and sorting and paring down everything. I couldn’t imagine doing this with a whole family!

Next on our list was to send ourselves some canned goods. The school district instructed us that it is cheaper to send yourself flat rate boxes full of canned food than buying it at our sites. In a flat rate box, “if it fits- it ships!” so they are ideal for shipping compact but heavy items. A can of soup can cost $5 at the local co-op in Napaskiak, so we went to Aldi (a really great discount grocery store) and got a whole bunch of cans:

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It felt like we were stocking up for some sort of catastrophe! I found myself apologizing to the cashier for the sheer amount of cans, but I’m sure they see a lot of people coming through and getting things in bulk because of the really low prices.

We tend to buy a lot of our staples there anyway, so I know that they have consistently low prices, even when you factor in shipping costs. We used the Click and Ship option on the USPS website to save on postage for the flat rate boxes, and I was even able to schedule a pickup so that we just had to pile them down by the mailbox in our lobby!

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In the end, this method has just about doubled the cost of each item, as we have spent just a little more on shipping than we did on the actual groceries, but because of the low prices here we will have still saved money in the long run.

Now we just have to keep packing everything that we will be putting into storage. The only things left to send to Napaskiak will be the kitchen and bathroom things that we will be using right up until we leave. Thankfully we are going to be visiting friends and family for about two weeks before we leave, so our boxes will have time to arrive before (or sometime close) to us. The school advised sending things 3-4 weeks ahead of time, but the post office gave us arrival dates of only 2 weeks away. We have tracking on all of our stuff, so we shall see!