Jill and John Travel to
Ketchikan, Alaska, for Lola's and Jefferson's Birthdays
9th through the 16th,
Written by John
When we had been home from our mission about 10 days, and John was
having trouble adapting to the post-mission life, and had caught a
cold, the first one in over two years, we packed our bags again and
flew to Ketchikan, Alaska, where our daughter Joy, her husband, and
their two children live. Lola was going to have her first birthday on
April 10th, then Jefferson was turning three on the 13th. Just
like our own sons, Jordan and Jansen, who had their birthdays just a
week apart, but Jansen's first, though two years younger, Jefferson
had a hard time allowing Lola to have her birthday celebration first.
It's one of those things he'll probably never get over!
We arrived about 5:00 PM on Wednesday the 9th, and Joy came and
picked us up after we rode across on the ferry. The airport
is on an
island separate from Ketchikan, so you either ferry or swim. It isn't
very far, but it was a bit cold for swimming this
time of year. Since Ketchikan is the rainiest city of the 50 states,
it's a good bet that it'll be raining at any particular time, and such
was the case when we arrived, when we returned, and for most of the
week. That's okay because they have beautiful forests as a result.
Since Lola's birthday was on
Thursday, Joy was busy making Lola's birthday cake. Joy is an
expert at making cakes, and does it a lot, sometimes even making a
little side money at it. So it wouldn't do to have anything
but the best cake for Lola's first birthday.
Joy has a tradition
that on a child's first birthday they get a huge portion of the cake on
their high chair tray to do whatever they want to with it.
Jill asked where the tradition got started, and Joy was
surprised at the question, being of the opinion that it was in our
family all the time she was growing up. We decided that she probably
had seen a picture of her older sister, Julie, with a cake on her
tray at her first birthday, but that was only for the picture and maybe
the candles. I think it was that particular cake whose top
half slid off on the floor after the picture was taken. But, of course,
Joy's cakes wouldn't do that. Anyway, the tradition is real
now in Joy's family. So here Lola is daintily fondling her
cake, but that didn't last for long. As soon as she realized she had
full control of this huge yummy morsel, her hands quickly made their
way half-way through the cake.
John made a video of the candle-blowing-out and Happy Birthday before
the cake was bisected. Click on
the picture here to see the
On Friday night we were invited over to Jessie and Sarah's for dinner.
Sarah is Joy's cousin who followed Joy up to Alaska several
years ago, and now lives there with her husband and two children, Maya
and Sophie. They made a nice lasagna dinner, and Joy made bread sticks.
It was a yummy dinner and we had a good time with them.
On Saturday the 12th
Joy's band was scheduled to play for the community dance at the Coast
Guard facility. The band's name is Paddy's Leather Breeches and they
have a variety of instruments. They make a nice sound. Joy is
really getting into fiddling these days.
Part of the activity that night was a birthday celebration for the
kids, who had a great NOISY time.
on the picture of the band to see a video of one of their
songs. In addition to their instruments, you will also hear
noise from the children whooping it up as well.
Jefferson and Lola got out on
the dance floor as well, but Lola had a hard time keeping on her feet
since she had just learned to walk on her birthday, three days before.
Jessie, Sarah, Maya and Sophie also came to the dance. Here
Lola is reaching over to Sophie to give her a kiss. She must think
she's cute just like all the adults do.
You might get the idea that the
required dress for the dance was black tops, but, there
were lots of other colors as well beyond these three. Joy
said, when Jill asked
her what the dance dress was, that it was "Alaskan," which apparently
means anything goes.
Here are Jessie, Sarah and Jill keeping their eye on either the band or
the children. Or maybe both.
On Sunday we all attended church at the Ketchikan
Ward building. We had been there ten years ago and still remember the
unique all-cedar construction of the chapel. Attending there is like
being in a giant cedar chest! Joy and Jefferson are coming out after
the meetings. You can
sort of see the cedar exterior. It's like that all around.
The interior is also almost all cedar except for some
classroom areas. Here Joy is letting Lola explore a little in
the cultural hall.
after church was of course time to celebrate Jefferson's birthday.
Finally it was here! Joy made a train cake for Jefferson, at his
request. This shot doesn't show the train details very well, but
it's the best picture Jill could get under the emergency conditions
at the time. You see, the weight of the train on one side caused the
cake to crack down the middle and it was rapidly falling
had to hold it together for the pictures and the Happy Birthday. Chris
said that drastic circumstances call for drastic measures, so we'll
have to eat the cake first. But Joy just separated the train from the
lower portion, and we were able to eat the regular meal first.
Jefferson had requested hot dogs for his birthday meal, so that's what
we had. We also had some brats to augment the simple hot
and Joy had made some whole-wheat buns. So Jefferson is three
now, and was happy about his birthday celebration.
was feeling quite a bit better from my cold by Monday the 14th, so I
decided to take a walk up the hill. Ketchikan is an island
steep sides going down to the ocean. And only about a quarter
mile from Joy and Chris' home was a dense forest and a nice hiking
trail through it. I enjoyed getting out and getting some exercise for a
change. At the end of the trail were stairs coming back down to the
road, where I got this shot of the rock Ketchikan is built on.
I was walking along the path through the forest I found a great view of
the city and area
below. This view is looking to the north. The airport is on
other island on the right side of the picture. Joy and Chris' home is
in the foreground, but I couldn't place it exactly. Joy used to give
tours to tourists coming in from the cruise ships and said that the
portion of the city that is mostly flat now used to be under water, and
they gradually built the city out into the ocean.
is a beautiful view from the hiking trail looking to the
Ketchikan is off the picture on the left. You can barely see
area where the cruise ships dock. The sea plane in the bottom right had
I was walking back on the road I saw a bald eagle land in this tree
about 100 yards away. Alaska has lots of wildlife readily visible, and
eagles are one of these that can be seen right in town, as shown here.
Tuesday Joy suggested we go on a picnic at Ward Lake, a few miles to
the north of Ketchikan. It is a beautiful area.
arrived it was fairly warm and calm. We hiked the two or
miles around the lake, enjoying the trees and moss and the lake and
rivers along the way. I couldn't believe the size of the trees, with
trunks up to 10 feet in diameter! When we got back to the starting
point I built a fire to roast hot dogs (left over from Sunday). By then
it was getting cold and windy, so we didn't stay too long after the
fire died down. While on the side of the lake from which this picture
was taken we saw an eagle who appeared to be trying to steal a meal
from a loon. He dove quite a few times toward the lake, then
off with apparently nothing in his claws. I tried to get a
of all this, but it didn't turn out very good. Sorry!
Then on Wednesday morning we had to wake Joy, Jefferson and Lola early
to take us to the airport. The reason we all had to make the trip was
because Chris was in California taking an air brakes class. We
about lots of stranded travelers over the past week, but fortunately we
weren't among them and our flights were right on schedule. We had
a good time visiting Joy and her family and hope we can get back up
there again before long. Maybe next time in the drier season (do they
have such a thing?).