Christmas Cards are Coming!

December 14, 2011

I know I’ve been horribly delinquent in updating my blog and for that I am truly sorry.  So many weekends I mean to get to it and just don’t find the time or the energy.  The easy answer is that my transition to Texas has not been all together smooth.  But now it’s been months since I move to the Lone Star state and still my blog sits stale.  And even now, tonight, as I write this I do not have time to fully explain, update or even begin to get into a real post.  Instead, all I can do is promise that Christmas cards are on their way from Shutterfly, a Christmas letter is being drafted and a stop at the post office for Christmas stamps is high on my to do list.  So updates are coming by snail mail and a real, post-Chrismas post is coming.  But until then, as I live and breathe in this state that is really just too big for me, I share a link to a Christmas card from St. Olaf.  There are things that have changed about the school that I don’t love, there are things about the school that I will always love, and there will be requests for money I will always avoid (can I please owe less than a bazillion dollars in student loan debt before I have to pay for someone else’s magical college experience?) but the one thing that broke my heart in this video was the snow.  I wore shorts today.

http://www.stolaf.edu/multimedia/streams/special/xmascard11.html


The Grand Forks Firecracker Run and So Much More

July 4, 2010

Today I ran the Grand Forks YMCA Firecracker 10k.  There are a couple goals I try to keep in mind everytime I run a road race.  Not being last is one.  Not a tough goal but it’s important to have attainable goals.  Also, as part of my goals I have a list of people I’d like to beat or at least pass at some point.  This list includes girls in tiny running outfits I wouldn’t dare step out in public in, bigger girls in the same outfits who shouldn’t have stepped out in public (are capris so uncomfortable that it’s worth subjecting all of us to watching you pick your shorts out from between your legs every couple of minutes?), beefy looking guys who spend so much time in the weightroom they’ve lost all traces of a social life, and finally, happy couples (how dare they?). 

Today was a day of mixed results.  I passed a few happy couples, including one I paced with for a lot of the race and then pass in the last half mile.  I had several of the tiny outfit girls pass me but also took down a couple of my own.  There was one group of bigger, tiny outfit girls that had jostled their way to the beginning of the pack before race time and subsequently had too much of a jump on me and I never did catch them.  I also passed a couple athletic looking guys and managed to not be the last one in.  Mission accomplished. 

Besides unfairly stereotyping road race participants, I’ve been up to so much more.  Starting chronologically, several weeks ago I had my first (not counting the expertly managed garage sales of my childhood) yard sale.  It turned out to be more of a porch sale but a success none-the-less.  I made nearly $100 and unloaded a lot of things I was not interested in trying to move in the all too near future.  My next door neighbors may have been my best customers so some of the stuff didn’t go too far but I really don’t care so long as it’s no longer my problem.  Here’s what a porch sale looks like at 104 4th Ave. S.:

As with any good sale, advertisement is key.  Don’t worry, I didn’t get another cat.  That was just my first customer of the day.  Though after he scaled the tree, he lost interest.  Apparently he did not need a pair of used Asics or a broken microwave.

My next logical summer adventure was meeting my best friend at the headwaters of the Mississippi at the northern most tip of Lake Itasca in Itasca State Park.  No, Elizabeth and I did not come up with meeting there as some sort of symbolic gesture capturing the roots of our friendship along the banks of the Mississippi in the Quad Cities.  Though that does sound kind of like us.  Instead it was really convenience more than anything else.  She was coming up to see me, I wanted to do something other than sit in Grand Forks for 4 days and the Mississippi just happens to start it’s journey towards our childhood stomping grounds just 2 hours east of Grand Forks.  So we met, we camped, we hiked, we got ticks, we got sunburned and were generally very outdoorsey.  We even waded across the Mississippi.  Elizabeth fell once but that was that little girl’s fault.  She had no respect for slippery rock decorum.  I didn’t capture the fall in pictures but did get some of the other highlights:

On our way back to Grand Forks we swung through Bemidji because I love Elizabeth way too much to let her get this close to Paul Bunyon and not pose brazenly in front of him. 

And as with most things, Elizabeth was the one brave enough to ask the tough question when signing Paul’s giant guest book:

I rounded out the month by going on an incentive flight on a KC-135.  For those of you who didn’t immediately google Grand Forks AFB’s mission when you heard I was coming here, our mission is mid-air refuelings which enhances the Air Force’s Global Reach and Global Power which is an integral part of making us the most powerful air force in the world.  No biggie.  The KC-135 Stratotanker accomplishes this mission daily.  The day of our ridealong they were refueling F-15s on a training mission over Mountain Home AFB in Idaho.  We got to lay in the back with the boom operator.  The boom operator, as the name implies, lowers the boom to the plane that is being refueled.  If the other plane approaches too quickly or can’t maintain the appropriate distance and speed, the boom operator will disconnect to avoid accidents.  I’m not sure any of that made sense so how about some pictures to supplement my rambling.  This first picture is of the boom hanging from the belly of the KC-135 tanker we’re on:

Then one of the F-15s approaches:

Then, if everything goes according to plan, the F-15 will hook up and begin to receive fuel:

Then off he goes about his Air Force mission, refueled thanks to Air Mobility Command and Grand Forks AFB.  You’re very welcome, sir:

And just to prove I was actually there:

So that’s about it for the summer so far.  It’s been busy and suddenly very hot in Grand Forks but so far I’m surviving.  I did have a couple traumatic trips to the hair salon but I’m recovered from that for the most part.  Curry Comb here I come!  I’m also coaching a soccer team of U16 girls and have quite a few weekend tournaments.  As if having Kurt a million miles away wasn’t enough torture for the summer.  But they’re starting to get it.

If you’re at all interested in reading my latest attempt at journalism and some really boring AF law to boot, here’s a link for ya:  http://www.grandforks.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123211854.   

As always, my door is open up here in Grand Forks, sometimes quite literally as it is right now, and I promise I’ll even wash the sheets.


Check out my entry on Shutterfly Summer Freedom Contest.

July 3, 2010

Check out my entry on the Shutterfly Summer Freedom Contest..


The Waters Are Rising

March 21, 2010

It’s flood season in Grand Forks (and all of Red River Valley) which may be the only thing worse than January up here.  But Grand Forks learned its lesson years ago.  Grand Forks is now a town protected from the flood waters by walls all along the river.  Yesterday when I went for a run I took my camera with me and caputred some of the rising water and the walls that protect us from it.  Standing on top of the wall which would normally over look miles of river front running and walking trails, I saw this:

These trees give you a pretty good indication of how high the waters are but this might help too:

For those of you who have come to visit me and know what downtown looks like, this is what the entrance to the bridge to Minnesota looks like now.  You can probably guess we’re taking a different route into East Grand Forks these days.

As the waters get higher (and they will) they keep adding metal slats.  This is what it looks like just on the other side of this gate:

If you look a little closer you can see the marker for the big flood they had in 1997.  We’ve still got a little bit of room…

As I was taking this picture, a cop was walking toward me with a somewhat grim look on his face.  Don’t worry though, I’m about as law abiding as they come and I was just on the right side of this sign:

So I smiled, waved, and ran away.  I did nothing wrong.  At least I’m assuming so since he didn’t chase me.  

So that’s the flood.  So far the impact on me has been limited to a slightly wet basement floor and running trails that abruptly end in water.  This biker was confused:

 But don’t worry, I haven’t just been sitting around watching the water rise.  February was an action packed month, mostly because I spend a couple weekends out of the state.  Valentine’s weekend I headed to New Ulm for a brewery tour and a visit with Hermann the German.  What says romance more than beer and a slave chieftain named Armnius the Cherusci (later re-named “Hermann” by Martin Luther) who turned against his masters and led a ragtag army to victory over three Roman legions, thereby saving Germania from conquest?  Nothing.

The following weekend I headed back to Chicago for Elizabet’s long planned and awaited bachelorette party.  After a delayed flight out (thank you once again Grand Forks International Airport) I made it to Chicago for a day at the spa, dinner at Fornello, and a very entertaining evening at the Kit Kat Club.  As with any mass gathering of girls there were some hiccups but they were mainly logistical which is much more manageable than most other girl gathering hiccups (aka drama).  Then my amazing friends stayed up with me and drove me to the airport at 4am so I could catch an early (very early) flight to Montgomery.  A couple birthday suprises and another delayed flight later I was flying first class back to Grand Forks.  By some small miracle I made it back to Grand Forks on time with the most major upset being that I wasn’t able to finish my Sandra Bullock comedy before we landed.

Since the end of February it’s been all work, all the time.  I’ve moved to Chief of Military Justice which is great because my focus now is completely on prosecutions and handling disciplinary actions and discharges which are my favorite things but they make life hectic.  People find new ways to get in trouble everyday and sometimes they just fall back on the same old ways such as drinking and driving.  Keeping busy with work keeps me distracted and makes the time move faster.  In about a month from now Kurt will be on his 6 month trip, Elizabeth will be married, and my cats may fear for my sanity.  I’m just hoping work will keep the time moving at a nice clip then too.

Thanks as always for tuning in and here’s hoping we all stay dry this spring.


Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

November 17, 2009

When I joined the Air Force, I knew, just absolutely knew, that it would lead me to great adventure and excitement.  Hence the name of the blog.  I knew I would see new places and things I would never have dreamt of.  And I was right.  100% right.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d end up visiting Houghton, Michigan. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely not complaining.  Instead my point is that you can’t always predict how exactly you’ll be surprised.  Saying you’re ready for whatever life, or in my case the Air Force, throws at you is one thing but saying you’re still willing to swing for the fences when they lob you a softball is another.  My recruiting trip to Duluth and Houghton was a softball by all accounts but I made it my adventure.  Here are the beautiful sights I saw in my trek through the northern regions of our fine country.

Houghton, MI – On the UP, this beautiful city nestled in Michigan’s Cooper Country has a population of about 7,000 and can boast of being ranked one of the 100 Best Small Towns in America. (yeah, my source is Wikipedia)  Houghton is also the home of Michigan Technological University which is why I went.  I visited their ROTC Detachment, a visit which included a lot of engineers trying to stay awake while I rambled on about loving my job.

Duluth, MN – Although I actually stayed in Superior, WI, I did most of my major sight-seeing in Duluth.  Duluth is just a short 3200 miles from the Atlantic Ocean via the Great Lakes and a few canals.  I was there on a cold, rainy, post-tourist season day but still found it to be a lovely town to walk around.  This was not my first time in Duluth and I can only hope it will not be my last.  I visited the ROTC Detachment at the University of Minnesota Duluth and again gave a few cadets the extra shut-eye they so desperately need.

And finally, Bemidji, MN – On my way back to North Dakota, I couldn’t resist stopping in Bemidji and I think from the picture it’s obvious why.  Unfortunately, besides Paul and Babe, I didn’t see much else.  I didn’t have time to make it to the mouth of the Mississippi, which, having grown up on the muddy waters, I may have really blew a chance to visit my roots.  Oh, hold on, I’m actually going to be stationed in Grand Forks for at least another year and a half so maybe it’s too early to say all hope is lost.  Adding that to my To-Do List…visit roots.

So lots of other little things have happened since my last post (in August, oops) but I’ll just cover some of the highlights.  I completed my first courts martial.  Guilty plea but that still counts.  The Company Grade Officer’s Association (of which I am the secretary) hosted a killer post-ORI extravaganza (no, not a party, an extravaganza).  Katie Forsberg is now Katie Hendrickson and I wore a blue dress to commemorate the day.  So did Kristi and Herby.  Katie wore white.  Maybe a picture would help:

The wedding was absolutely gorgeous (though a little toasty at times) and the reception was perfect too. 

Also, I had my 5 year reunion for St. Olaf.  Not a lot ot talk about there.  It was a good time but I always feel like pictures say it better:

No, Joe did not just smell something bad and no, Kurt did not go to St. Olaf.  Kurt did however get to learn and see more than he ever cared to of St. Olaf.  Apparently you have to have gone there in order to think wearing St. Olaf gear and singing your school song daily is cool.  Weird.  Oh, and yes, we absolutely sang it at Katie and Kristoff’s wedding reception.

The final and most recent thing that’s gone in my life is that my parents took on their own adventure and again came up to visit their daughter in her North Dakota apartment.  We had Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night since I won’t be home this year.  My mom cooked and we were joined by my sponsor, Capt Ian Holzhauer, and his family.  It was a great meal and night.

Now although I won’t be home for Thanksgiving this year, in very short order I will be able to tell you what a Indiana Thanksgiving is like.  At this point I’m assuming it’s magical.

Well, I think that brings me to bed time.  Work has been a bit of a bear lately and it’s apparently causing my brain to try to escape through my temples.  The good  news is that I’ll hopefully have 2 more courts under my belt with in the next few months.  Here’s hoping I can pull them off without damaging my brain any further. 

Thanks for tuning in and I look forward to hearing from/seeing/talking to you all in the near future.  Remember, it’s the holidays, an effort must be made.  I’m taking suggestions on how to move forward with Christmas cards without my best friend.  I’ve already considered moving to Des Moines but AWOL just looks so bad on your permanent record.


The Almost After and So Much More

August 23, 2009

So to answer my mother’s question, no, I have not “given up” on my blog.  The last few months have been, as most of you know, interesting.  And I chose that word carefully.  There have been ups and downs.  Hills, valleys, sunshine, rain, the gamut.  What I’m left knowing is that everything is going to be ok.  One way or another.

And at this point you’re probably all thinking, spare us the melodrama Anna, show us the pictures of your apartment.  I am at your service.  We’ll start upstairs this time because the least has changed there.  What was once a guest bedroom is, for now, an arts and crafts room:

Spare bedroom

Boring, I know.  Bring on the scrapbooking jokes.  I plan on getting a new bed pretty soon and when that happens, my old bed will go in here for visitors.  Though I feel it must be said, I have been very lucky to have as many visitors as I have so far.  Elizabeth drove all the way up from Des Moines alone and my parents have been up, my mom doing the trip twice.  Not to out-do Elizabeth but she drove the whole way from the Quad Cities alone…that’s slightly longer.  The reason my mom came up the second time was to pin me on as a captain.  Yes, after continuing to draw breath for 6 months I got the obligitory JAG promotion to captain.  It’s great because we get paid more, we get salutes from a handful more people, etc.  It’s terrifying because now people expect us to know what we’re doing which I can safely say, 75% of the time I’m still only making a somewhat educated guess.  So here’s a picture of Lt Col Harding and my mom pinning on the captain’s bars.  Please don’t ask why I’m making that face, if I knew I would have avoided making it.

Promotion Ceremony

So back to the apartment.  The only other new thing upstairs is the curtains in the study which honestly, is so not worth a picture.  So let’s move downstairs.  First, try not to fall over the cats.

cats stairs

Quick question, is the look on Jonesie’s face a little too similar to the look on my face during the promotion ceremony?  No?  Good answer.

The living room has probably seen the most dramatic change.  For one, there’s furniture.  And lamps.  And art. 

Living room

And from there, into the dining room:

dining room

On to the kitchen:

kitchen

A lot of changes in all of those three rooms so I’ll just give you a minute to flip back and forth between the before pictures in the old post and these.  Awed?  Good, then the basement is going to blow you away:

basement

basement

Don’t worry, although you can’t see all of the 4th Ave. Drinking Team label anymore, everytime I walk down into that basement, I’m reminded of my roots.  Once you move in, being a part of that team is in your soul.  A few bins of holiday decorations covering the lower portion won’t change that.  Nothing can change that.

Moving on something closely related to being on a drinking team, it’s the basement bathroom.  Still mostly gross but usable on very limited emergency type occasions:

basement bathroom

And now back upstairs.  On the way up, make sure to take note of the cats’ new water and food dishes.  They’re extatic.

cats'fooddishes

All that remains is the great outdoors.  In the next couple months I’ll post anew with the changing weather but today was absolutely perfect and if you don’t mind, please just think of Grand Forks as such.  Somehow, pretending winter won’t ever come makes each day a little better.

Front:

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Back:

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To the left you can see the air conditioning unit that I have not yet had to turn on.  Yes, that is a hint of pride you detect.

Alright, so that’s it.  Those are the digs currently.  What else has been going on with me?  So sweet of you to ask.  Well, tomorrow at 8am I’ll hop a plane out of Grand Forks and head down to Scott AFB, which is in southern Illinois down by St. Louis.  Hopefully while there I will learn a great deal about 18th AF’s philosophies on military justice and more importantly, see some of my family.  It’s sad when I’m close because I’m only 6 hours away.  So I’ll be at Scott all week and then after a quick jaunt to Maxwell AFB in Alabama, I’ll be back home in Grand Forks.  That’s right folks, Grand Forks is my home.  I haven’t been there much this last month which the cats have been more than a little irritated with me about.  And unfortunately September isn’t looking that much better between recruiting in the Twin Cities, a wedding in St. Paul, and my 5 year college reunion in Northfield, MN, my weekends are pretty full.  But at least they’re full with things I’m going to really enjoy and heck, maybe even see some of you! 

And as my parting gift to every last one of you, I give you the Peddle Pub:

Peddle Pub

It’s exactly as it sounds.


Back in the Windy City and then on to the Snowy City

May 1, 2009

Before I get into my new exploits in North Dakota, I wanted to fullfill a promise.  I told my friends in Chicago that since I spent a week with them that I would blog it so all my Air Force friends could read about them.  Kind of the reverse of what we’ve had so far.  So here goes.  I spent 5 nights in Chicago and somehow managed to wrangle up enough people to go to Cubs games 2 of those nights.  Actually, my awesome friends worked out all the details so all I had to do was sit back and enjoy the games.  The first night we did so from a rooftop.

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The down side of the rooftop is that it was a little chilly and windy but we struggled through…because there was an inside section with a buffet.  But just to prove that we did go outside at least once:

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Did I mention it was windy?  Also, quick shout out to Christine (pictured above with wind tussled locks) who just got engaged earlier this week.  Congrats guys!

The next night we actually headed into the park to watch the game.  Unfortunately, unlike the first night, the Cubs were not able to pull out a victory.  We still had fun though.

dsc_0592

Besides a quick trip to John Marshall and a few dinners with friends, the last thing on the Chicago agenda was a Costco sponsored party for Tom and me.  Per usual at 4022 N. Sheridan, there was tons of food (stellar beans as always, Liz, cheesey potatoes to die for, Elizabeth, and enormous quantities of meat courtesy of the newly engaged)  Unfortunately I took no reasonable pictures that night so your imaginations will have to paint the picture of the last night I sat, wind swept and merry, on the balcony of 4022.  A picture is not necessary to cause one solitary tear to role down my cheek.  Too dramatic?

The next morning Tom and I packed the car, the poor little red Kia that has seen so much, to its fullest.  Despite my desperate pleas to save my dying plants from their brown thumbed captors, Tom would not let me pack them all.  Only one plant made it to North  Dakota…only time will tell the fate of the rest.  So with only one plant in tow, we headed to Minneapolis were we spent one night.  One great evening catching up with friends and a 7 mile (nice and easy) run with Tom’s sisters later, I was on my way to North Dakota alone.  Well, not fully alone.  Jack and Jonesie (for those of you just tuning in, these are my cats) were nestled safely in their carrier somewhere in my car admist suitcases, dufflebags, boxes, and one plant (can you tell I’m upset about the plants?). 

We made it to North Dakota.  Although it rained as I drove through Fargo (yes, it’s still mostly under water), the skies cleared and the rain stopped by the time I got to Grand Forks.  The base is about 15 miles outside of the actual town.  At the gate you are greated with the large painted words, “Warriors of the North.”  I checked in, got the cats settled in and then met my sponsor.  For those of you new to all this (as am I), a sponsor is someone assigned to you prior to your arrival at any new base who is responsible for getting you settled in and acclimated.  So I met my sponsor, Capt Ian Holzhauer (Naperville native – go figure!),  and he took me to dinner at his neighbor’s house in the on-base housing.  Not only did I get a home cooked meal out of the deal, I also got a plate to take home which lasted for 2 more meals.  As we were eating, something strange started to happen…by the time I returned to billeting that night, this is what I found:

snow

That’s right.  This was my welcome to Grand Forks AFB.  The cats were confused.  I dropped my phone in the snow.  I think I saw a squirrel run backwards up a tree.  Just one short week ago I was safely in the warmth of the Bible Belt, and now look at me.  But on the upside, my room at billeting is huge. 

GFbilletk

GFbillet1

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So now I’m here.  I’m looking for a place to live (which is actually proving to be pretty difficult – Grand Forks does not equal pet friendly), getting in-processed on base (only 4 shots so far…), and starting to figure out what kind of job I’m actually going to be doing (apparently something legal).  Everyone here is great (so far so good anyway) and I have my own office with chairs and everything!  Once I get it spruced up a bit I’ll throw a picture up here.  I know how you all love pictures of really mundane things. 

I think that’s all I have for now from Grand Forks.  I miss everyone but don’t worry, I’m doing fine up here in the north country.  Though my o’s seem to be getting a little longer…