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Rachel's Notebook
October Entries...

Friday, October 22nd

Dear Friends,

Welcome back! I do hope that this page will be helpful to you. Most of you know that Brian and I are terrible at writing letters (and just a little better at writing emails consistently!), and so here you can check in and see how we're doing.

Winter Weather

We've had many questions about winter in Fairbanks recently from some of you. Winter is definitely here. The snow is here to stay, and it seems temperatures are dropping daily. Trust me, though, you really do get used to it. These days it's about 15 to 20 degrees during the day, but after last winter, this doesn't feel that cold to me. Once it drops below zero, it feels cold! I think that our bodies become somewhat used to the weather, and people here dress warmly, as well. After a few days of total stress driving on the icy roads, I'm now used to that too. My new little car is handling the roads quite well.

Brian's Training

Brian is out and about again--this time at Fort Greely, which is just a couple of hours south of here. Thankfully, he returns home this Tuesday. In November, I believe he has just a few days of training away from home. He'll also be going to a SCARS training camp, which he is very excited about. SCARS is the type of hand to hand training that he has been studying for years, and so this is a good opportunity for him. You can check out the SCARS website to learn more about them by accessing Brian's page. I think that he is doing extremely well as a Platoon Leader. He's kind of the veteran Lieutenant in the company now, as others have changed jobs, etc. He sometimes works twelve hours a day (when he isn't in the field--when he is, it's 24 hours a day!), including physical training in the mornings. I know that I couldn't do it like he does. I'm really proud of him.

The Holidays

I have also had a lot of questions via email regarding the holidays. Are you worried about us being lonely up here in the Frozen Wasteland (which is what I, rather fondly, call Fairbanks)? Not to fear--we have made plans. For Thanksgiving, we have decided to take a mini-vacation to Anchorage. We'll stay the weekend down there and have Thanksgiving dinner at a nice restaurant. We both love Anchorage, so we're looking forward to that. For Christmas, we will be flying down to the LA area to visit Brian's parents and his brother, Kevin, sister-in-law, Annette, and our nephew, Nicholas. I am looking forward to meeting Annette and Nicky and to being in the warm weather! Then for the New Year, we'll drive to Colorado with Trudy and Nicky to visit with the rest of the family. I believe that most of the Stramels will be gathered there, and so that will be an exciting time! Unfortunately, in January, Brian will be gone for most of the month (to Louisiana) upon our return. But, of course, there is a lot to look forward to before that! I won't think about that just yet!

Whatever it is that Rachel Does All Day

As for me, I'm doing well. My new job is definitely picking up, as I'm starting new groups and activities for the youth. They keep me on my toes, that's for sure! I especially keep busy while Brian is gone. In fact, I intentionally schedule more for the youth during those times, so that I don't go crazy and so I don't have to be away for too many evenings and weekends when he's home. (I hope those kids don't mind following his training schedule!) I've also continued to work on my other webpages to keep busy, and I've been trying to get out of the apartment and go exercise, as well. I think that one has to have tremendous self-discipline here in Interior Alaska to remain active during the winter. It's hard to make myself drive across town (on the ice), for example, just to exercise or something. But it's worth it. It will definitely be worth it in the dead of winter, when it is darker and much colder. I think that the absence of light and the bitter cold affect people here more than they realize. I have also started writing a bit, realizing that our "Wedding Weekend" was an experience to remember, in more ways than one! So, we will see what comes of that.

Well, that's all folks...the latest news from up north. I hope that I haven't bored you terribly! Thanks for visiting our website, once again. I have heard that it helps some of you feel as if we are not so far away, and I'm glad for that. Maybe some of you should get your websites up and running so that we don't feel we are so far away!

'Til next time,


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