Ah, so last I wrote, Bobby was on his way to Alaska, I still had my Friday to get through, and then I was planning on sticking around for another week to finish out and then maybe do some traveling around the United States before heading home.  Well, here’s what happened.  Friday was awful.  One of my coworkers couldn’t get her shift changed so I did the 9 to 5:30 shift instead of what I wanted, which was the 6 to 2:30 pm shift.  That meant Bobby would be arriving and then spending quite a few hours by himself while I was still at work.  Oh well, at least I wasn’t working until 10 pm.  I finally got one of the packages I was expecting, which was good because it had my National Park Passport booklet in it (if you haven’t heard of these, look it up, they are so cool and totally worth checking into!), but the rest didn’t really matter because it was bed sheets and such that I wasn’t planning on sticking around long enough to use.  The work day was terrible and only got worse in the last few hours, so I couldn’t even read the texts I had from Bobby saying that he had made it and was in his hotel room.  Finally though, the day was over and I could start my weekend.  I grabbed my stuff and met up with Bobby, he showed me his hotel room and I showed him where I was staying while I packed my bag for the weekend.  He had already found the post office by himself and once I pointed out the two gas stations and the direction of the powerplant and mine, that pretty much covered his tour of Healy, Alaska. 

Next, I told him the plans of tomorrow with the bus ride into the park and about the other tours we may try to go on and then I showed him wear I work and we went to Prospector’s Pizza for take out dinner to bring back to our room.  It was really good, but we were so tired and had such an early morning the next day, that we pretty much came back and collapsed. 

Saturday began at a wonderful waking hour of 3:30  am (still light out though of course) and we got stuff together and headed down to meet the bus into the canyon at 4:30 am.  We didn’t think things through well enough though because we definitely were not wearing enough layers.  We got on our bus and got into the canyon and then walked the rest of the way into the park to meet our park bus at 5:45 am.  We took a brief tour of the visitor center, bobby bought a long sleeve, I refilled my water bottle, and then our bus arrived.  Thank goodness it had heat.  We handed in our tickets and boarded for the 6 am trip into Denali National Park to the Eielson Visitor Center…..and boy are we glad we did 🙂 On the way out to the visitor center we saw Mount Mckinley in all its morning glory, unclouded and beautiful (yup, we’re now a part of the 30% that actually get to see a glimpse of the mountain!).  We also saw Dal Sheep, a Marmot, caribou, a grizzly bear, a wolf, some snowshoe hares, and tons of other stuff!  My camera was on 48X zoom the whole time, but still….it was exciting!  The bus driver gave us some information about the park and its animals while we tried to spot wildlife.  We were so glad that we took the earliest bus because nobody else that day saw nearly as many animals or a good view of Mckinley.  We made it to Eielson and immediatly hopped on another bus that was heading to Wonder Lake.  Unfortunately, the weather was turning more cloudy and less likely to present good picture opportunities.  It was still nice to see and our new bus driver was so chock full of information and really really talkative.  On the way back we saw four more grizzly bears, moose (one right next to our bus outside the main visitor center), a fox, more sheep and caribou.  We really hadn’t slept much and got back to Healy around 3 pm.  We tried to find meat to put on the gril outside, but couldn’t find a steak no matter what. 

Sunday, we even slept in slightly later and then awoke to figure out plans for the day…..the first being finding me a way home.  I realized after Friday that I didn’t think I could make it through another whole week in Alaska.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it all weekend and we both knew that the sooner I got out of Healy, the better.  So, with both of us on the phone, pacing around the room, and plenty of people at home helping out, we managed to book me a seat on the same flight home as Bobby.  We would leave Healy on Monday, take the shuttle five hours south back to the Anchorage airport, catch a flight to Philly, and then get a ride home with his mom from there.  I only had to quit my job, pack everything I had thought I would need for four months into three bags, and get home in one piece.  Tall order? Nah, just the Miller way.  So, we both breathed a sigh of relief that we would both be heading home together on the next flight out of dodge. 

So, we turned out sights to other things to experience while we were still there.  Unfortunately, the only thing that panned out was the Jeep Safari, and frankly that worked out really well, because it started pouring after we got done and being on ATV’s during a rain storm would have sucked.  THe jeep safari was fun.  It wasn’t very active, but it was just enough of an off road trip that it was exciting, but yet you could enjoy looking around and seeing stuff.  Speaking of seeing stuff, we saw a mother moose and her baby right on the side of the road just as we set off!  They were sooooo cute!  After that, we made it to the end of our fun filled trail and got to have meat stew and lemonade before heading back! 

After that, we headed into the canyon to buy fudge (best fudge I have ever had, really…..there was a cappicino to die for!), and finding another duffle bag so I could try to stuff all of my crap onto the plane.  We came back and wound up spending most of the evening watching Stina attempt to fit a mountain of stuff into a mole hill of a duffel bag.  Bobby had already packed what little he brought, so he pretty much just laughed at me while I acted like a girl and managed to fit everything in except a hair brush and my laundry detergent.  Not bad, huh? 

Monday morning, we took our incredibly stuffed bags, marched them down to the Totem Inn to wait for our bus, and I sucked up my spare reserve of courage in confronting my manager.  Of course he wasn’t there and a coworker had to call him over for me while I grabbed a few sandwhiches for the road.  Unfortunately, I was scared I would miss my bus so I didn’t exactly give him the larger piece of my mind that I had wanted to.  I simply told him that I quit and was on my way to Anchorage to catch a flight home.  He was shocked needless to say and wanted to know why.  I told him this job hadn’t turned out the way I wanted it to and that even though I give my hundred and ten percent everyday and work my butt off, it never seems to be enough and I was coming home exhausted every night.  I didn’t need that for my summer job so I decided to leave.  He told me I had put him in a bind because of the short notice and I casually replied that he had practically threatened me the other day by stating that he had willing bodies lining up at the door for my job.  He still didn’t like that because it was too short of notice.  I shrugged my shoulders, told him to have a good summer, and walked away.  I keep playing it over in my head, thinking what else I might have said if I had had more time, or if I should have given him even less information.  This was the first job I had actually quit at because it was a bad job, at least the first one that I didn’t stick out for a year and give my all before calling it quits.  I know I did it for the right reasons and I am so glad to be home and away from Alaska and that job, but it’s just the kind of person I am.

So, we spent a very long five hours in a car, then abuot eight hours in a plane, then about three hours in another car before stopping to meet some of Bobby’s mother’s side of the family (who were really fun!), and then another three hours in the car before finally arriving home. I was so happy when I saw my first cow, I think I made Deb and Bobby go deaf in the front seat for a few minutes.  When we arrived home, I started unloading my stuff and then Bobby and I went to the Shaw’s in Fairhaven to get some real food.  Both of us have been deprived of anything resembling real meat and good food.  We bought pork loin, baby carrots, beer, and then soaked the pork loin in maple syrup and brown sugar on the grill while we pan seared the carrots in butter and herbs.  I think we both just about died from the sheer pleasure of allowing our tastebuds to have a decent meal. 

Wednesday we got off to a slow start, which was lovely, putting pictures on FaceBook, checking emails, enjoying tea on the porch in the nice weather.  Eventually we made it up to Rutland and did a full day of errands.  That was also when we were able to purchase the necessary ammunition for our vanalization of a fellow friends car, which was left in our driveway while he was away on vacation.  After all, he didn’t write Bobby any letters in basic and wasn’t around for Bobby’s few days of leave, so really, how could he have expected us to leave his car alone?  Needless to say (as the pictures on FaceBook say a thousand words), it was…..well, redecorated in various shades of pink, glitter, hippy statements, and flowers. 

We had a wonderful dinner at Bobby’s father’s house, I played pirates with his little sister, and then we finally came home and collapsed from exhaustion.  Thursday, we had a nice breakfast on my porch, taking our time and enjoying being back in Vermont.  We eventually dragged our butts out of the house and made it over to the Keller’s store for sandwhichs and took them out on their dock to eat and relax.  We stayed there for hours talking and enjoying the sun and lake Bomoseen before we realized that we might burn to a crisp.  We went home and took a nap on the couch for an hour before Bobby went off for guys night, something he hasn’t been able to do since he left for basic.  I took the opportunity to hit up Rite Aid in Granville to print pictures for Bobby’s new photo album that he was taking with him to his new duty station.  I ate dinner at McDonald’s while the photos developed, which may not sound very glorious, but everything I have been able to do this week has been enjoyable because I actually have the ability to choose to do it.  I once thought that Vermont and New England for that matter was boring and dying.  After spending almost four weeks in Healy, Alaska, I realize that it’s a lot more alive then I have ever given it credit for.  I’m not completely dissing Alaska.  I’m just saying that there is nothing like leaving a place you once despised to find a place that is less than ideal and then returning to find ways in which your own views on life have changed. 

Anyways, Friday came all too soon and after heading to Bobby’s mom’s house to pack up his things, we headed home to put our devious car plans into action.  It took a few hours, but we are nothing but proud with our dedication to destruction.  While we were inflicting painfully pink lessons on this car, we found out that my father, sister, and her boyfriend would actually be coming home early because of car trouble…..so we would be able to both witness the reaction to his car!  I wish they weren’t coming home early for car trouble, but I was glad that Bobby would be able to see them before he left for duty.  After messing with the car, we took off for wing night at the lakehouse and enjoyed some time with friends over good wings.  We eventually dragged ourselves away to have dinner with Bobby’s father and step-mother again.  It was really good food and I got to hear some family stories which was fun.  We got home around 9 and my family had made it home from New Jersey safely.  My sister’s boyfriend secretly loved the effort we put into our practical joke, but he did take all of our hard work and use it against me….let’s just say, I had some cleaning up to do with my bed before I could get in it that evening.

This morning, at 5 am, Bobby and I set off to meet his mom, who took us to the Rutland airport where Bobby was flying out of for his trip back to Kentucky.  It went smoothly on his end, a little more roughly for his mom and I 🙂  Still, silver linings and all that.  It won’t be anything like basic (we hope) and I’m just glad I got to spend so much time with him during his leave.  I miss him already and it’s going to be hard, but I’m also very proud of him and I know the Army could not have gained a better soldier.  For now, it’s just a lot of texting, praying, and good thoughts. 

I have no idea what my plans are now for the summer, but I want to feel like I am actually home for a bit first, see some friends and family, and then I will figure out my next move.  I’m not too worried I guess….after all, I am an Alaskan survivor now, right?  More later, even though this was probably enough to make most of your eyes cross.  My apologies, but a lot has happened in the course of a week.  I still can’t really believe all that’s happened, but I guess that’s how life works a lot of the time…..summits of happiness, valley’s of depression, right?  Come, let us pussyfoot.