Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Great Land: My heart's second home

My heart has two homes, really.
I am in LOVE with Missouri.  The mid-west really.  But I love Missouri.

But my heart is in love with and loyal to another place as well.  A place found 3,676.85 miles from here.

It is sometimes known as "The Great Land."
Otherwise known as Alaska.

And in  is called "Soldotna."

I know.  Tricky name.  Break it

Anyone from there has had to pronounce it more that once on the first go around.

Next question...  What kind of name is that?


Late 1980s

Rumor it is a russian word for soldier.  Who knows?  Maybe Allan Miller, the town teacher of Russian.   The real Russians all live about 80 miles away and they aren't too friendly when they come to town so they aren't telling.

You can read about the Kenai Peninsula in "1,000 places to see before you die" book.  It is listed as one of the most beautiful places on the earth.  It is true.

My dad moved to Soldotna in 1961.  He left for a while for a little reason called the "draft" and eventually we moved back.  I was turning 5 that year.

I lived there until I moved to college.  Then I moved permanently when I married Mr. Fun, who is also from Soldotna. He moved there in the 9th grade and in my mind, the Andersons are still "new" to town.  That was almost 30 years ago.

I was just barely older than this when we moved

A bar and garage.   Sounds about right.
My parents have a booklet about the history of Soldotna which I learned some stuff.  For you Slowtowners (nickname for Soldotna is Slowtown), I thought you would like to learn as well. 

Burton Carver owned the local buses we rode to school everyday.

The Bear Den bar is a landmark. 
Across the street from the Dairy Queen,
which sadly burned down just last week.
It is all over the facebook.  :(

Soldotna was settled by many World War 2 vets
who wanted cheap land to homestead.

My dad used to snow plow out Vera and her variety store.
Her store was soooo packed and crazy
it would be featured on one of American Picker shows.

Remember the Quonset hut?  By Soldotna Elementary?
They sold cinnamon oil and toothpicks and if we were lucky,
we could stay after school with our friends and get some
and play on the playground.
I learned they moved the hut over from Seward.

Can you imagine...a traffic jam in Soldotna?
With no motor homes?
Soldotna Clinic.

Sheri Bradford Dean was born there
(she is a Sterling girl), ourbest friend
from Soldotna who I just talked to
two days ago.

Eric Derleth is an attorney in that building now....
I doubt he is delivering babies.
More ironically, if you KNOW Eric Derleth,
you will appreciate the irony that he is an attorney.

Sheri, a couple years ago with Tom


We are headed "up" tomorrow.  :)

This trip to Alaska will be different.

For example, we have never gone home when
my dad's orange boat wasn't there.
They sold and moved to Missouri to be by us.

These are my mom, Grandma, and Uncles.
(This was taken in the front yard of my old house.
Which is now a thrift store.)

We haven't seen them in almost 13 years. 
We are not close (obviously), but I ADORE my uncle
and I cannot wait for him to meet the kids.

While I will not be doing any fishing---hate fishing--
fishing will be done.

Soldotna's claim to fame is it is the official
"King Salmon Capital of the World."
Here is why:

Local Les...owned the gas station
when you first came into town

We might see this.
We call it "combat fishing."

I doubt I will be doing or holding any of these.
Moose horns.
See that chicken wire cage on the left?
My brother's outside play pen...
shout out to you, Son

We will be seeing this...a float or two in the
"Soldotna Progess Days" parade.  :)

And here is your last lesson about the history of Soldotna:

(Modern is up for interpretation and
reds are spawning salmon)

There will be plenty of stories.
Can't wait to share them.

Hey Alaska!  I'm coming home.  :)