Saturday, August 30, 2008

Angel Rocks

Today is the first day of a three day weekend!!! I have a lot of things to do at school, but I thought I needed at least one full day off so I went for another drive with my camera (still no bear.) I drove up to a place called The Chena Hot Springs. If you have ever heard of The Blue Lagoon in Iceland...this is a smaller version of that. Basically, the way the hot springs work is the ground water is deep enough to be heated by the internal temperature of the earth, and comes out through a spring at, in the case of Chena Hot Springs, about 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Like Iceland, the place smells like sulfur! Wouldn't it be great if I had some pictures of the hot springs so you could see what I am talking's too bad I left my camera in the car (I b smrt) Anyways, I went inside and asked about some cool hiking trails. The lady asked me if I wanted steep or easy...I said I wanted pretty. She suggested that I check out Angel Rocks. It was about 9 miles back the way I came so I jumped in "The Swamp Donkey" and headed for for the trails. When I arrive at Angel Rocks, it was a little chilly, so I put my jacket on over my hoodie and start walking. It was a VERY tough walk....for me. Apparently I am quite out of shape since at the top of the 900 ft elevation change I saw a 70-something year old man hanging out with his, I'd guess granddaughter, looking like he just woke up from the worlds most refreshing nap. Compare that to me, who felt like I've just been dragging a dead ox through seven inches of mud for over 15 miles (in other words...I was tired.) At this point I REALLY wished I would have left the jacket and the hoodie in the car...I was very warm (I'll just mark that one as "things to do different next time #348") I sat down for a while on a big rock an enjoyed the view. It was very pretty, but EVERYTHING up here is very pretty so I am having problems truly appreciating it. It's like eating fillet mignon everyday for dinner...yeah it's really good, but after a while it just starts tasting like meat. I was having more fun admiring the little things I would find along the path than the overview of the that strange? have read enough. Here are some pictures:

Here is the view from on the rocks

The trees this far north are already starting to change:

This is the closest thing to a bear I have seen:

Here are a few pictures of the little things on the side of the trails:


(edit: It turns out these last two photographs are Fireweed. Remember the pretty purple changes to a cotton-y type plant. sort of like dandelions, and turns a cool red color. I can see why it is called actually kinda looks like it's on fire!)

Finally, for family and friends, here is another shot of my beautiful face. (I still hate all photographs of myself. This is the last serious one you are getting. From now on I am only making stupid faces! These look too much like senior pictures.)

Well, I guess that's it. I have nothing else going on this weekend other than working on lesson plans and MIDI tracks for choir.

Have a good weekend!!!!
~Mr. Lockwood

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Week two...Still breathing =)

I am almost finished with my first full week of teaching students...and I feel pretty darn good! I think I am starting to get the feel for things. Classroom management for a first year teacher is always tough, but I had some GREAT role models while student teaching, so I think I am actually doing alright (Marsha and Darrell both ROCK at classroom management.) It is very easy to become more of a "buddy" and less of a teacher, especially when you have awesome 7th and 8th graders who are so funny!!!! I believe the key is respect. If you show the students that you truly care about what happens to them, and show them respect while expecting it in can build great relationships with students while still holding a position of authority. I try to make my expectations very clear and be quick and consistent with consequences when the expectations are not met...and it's all good =) Did I mention they are HILARIOUS!!! The things 7th and 8th graders say and do are great. I have lunchroom duty 3 days a week so I get too see them on their own turf. Just sitting back and watching them interact with each other has to be one of the highlights of my day. I have no idea where they get all of that wait...I take that back. I think it is from those "Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars" they all eat.

Well, I was planning on writing a lot more about this week, but my oven just beeped at me telling me my pizza is ready. No reindeer on this one...just pepperoni. I have to go and cut it with a hunting knife, because I realized after I put it in the oven I do not own a pizza cutter OR scissors.

Speaking of exotic foods, I had Swamp Donkey for lunch today!! It was fantastic. The beast is real and quite edible. Also, I changed my mind about shooting a bear while I am here in Alaska. My original goal was after I had proof that they actually do exist, I was going to shoot a bear and eat it! I was talking to a few people at lunch today (over my pipping hot plate of Swamp Donkey) and they said that bears make a pathetic crying sound when they are shot. I thought to my self, I could never shoot something that starts crying afterwards. I have decided that I will stick to my back-up plan and just wrestle a bear or two with my "Bear Fighting Suit" I am building. The suit consists of chain mail armor covered with hockey pads. That should put us on a level playing field. We'll see who is crying after we are done!

Ok, my pizza awaits. Have a great evening and I will post again soon!

Rock on
~Mr. Lockwood

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Few Pictures for the Birds:

Good evening everyone =) So, my new apartment is next to Creamer's Field...a place where a lot of birds go and hang out. When I first got into town, I saw these huge birds flying around and I had no idea what they were. I later found out that they were (and still are) Sandhill are a few pictures of them:

This is a Sandhill Crane:

I sat and watched these guys for about an hour tonight. Every now and then a large group of them would jump in the air. I didn't get a good shot of a "mass jump" but I get a pretty nice one of a fight...oh yeah, it seems they like to fight:

It is hard to tell how large the cranes really are until you see them fly. I can't believe that that much bird can fly with such ease

At Creamer's field, there were more birds than just cranes...there were many geese and probably some ptarmigan as well but I couldn't tell from the distance I was at (The willow ptarmigan is the Alaskan state bird) Here is a shot of a couple of geese that where happy to pose for a few pictures

Then I took a picture of a blue flower. I do not know flower blue is all you get:
(edit: I have been told that this flower is a Delphinium in case you were wondering)

Like I said, Creamer's Field is only about half a mile from my new place, so next time I am bored on a weekend I think I'll walk down there (I drove this time.) As you could probably tell, I used the larger pictures again...I like them bigger. Let me know if one way is easier than the other to view on your computers.

Alright, tomorrow is my first full week of classes and I need to be well rested so I'm off to bed. If I do not post for a few days do not worry, I'll be back =)

Have a great week!!
~Mr Lockwood

Friday, August 22, 2008

Here is it...My First Week as a Real Teacher!

Well, I wanted to post a day by day update for you all...but things got crazy busy. Imagine that, a first year teacher being busy...who'd a thunk it?

I'll try to sum up of my first 3 days with students. So much has happened, I'm sure I will leave things out and remember them later.

It starts Aug 19th, the day before students show up:
So students started on Wed. I had a TON of planning to do, so I didn't get to bed 'till around 11:30 - midnight. The College Inn sucks, but it is usually very quiet...on every night EXCEPT the one I need my sleep. The guy in the room next to me starts playing his "Contemporary Christian Gansta Rap" at about 11:45...LOUDLY!! He is not only listening to his rap, but he is joyously yelling his praises to God at the top of his lungs. BTW, the walls of the luxurious College Inn are paper thin, so yeah...I heard him. He finally goes to bed at around 1-ish and I fall right asleep. Do I get a good night's sleep after that? Of course not! My phone in the hotel room starts ringing at about 3:15 in the morning!!!
Only one other person in the world knows what room I am staying in and that is the lady at the front desk (you know...the one who can't fix a deadbolt lock) and I was pretty sure this was not her, so I was confused why I was getting calls. Also, I have never heard a phone ring that loud before. Helen Keller could have heard that phone ring...and not only is she deaf, SHE IS DEAD!!!! I answer the phone and the voice mumbles, "is ??????? there?" I have no idea who he is looking for. He repeats himself, "is ?????? there?" I still cannot make out the name, but at this point I could at least comprehend the fact he was not asking for Bobb. I tell him he has the wrong number and hang up. I fall back asleep and what happens? THE PHONE RINGS AGAIN!!! It is the same guy asking if a different un-comprehend-able name was there. A you can guess..I am very happy at this point! I tell him no. He asks me who I am. I tell him I'm Bobb and he does not know me so stop calling. My alarm goes off at 6am and I get up to go to work. The school day went well. Students seemed to be too afraid of their new environment to act up the first day, so I had very few issues. My students seemed nice, but I could already tell I might have a few management issues with one of my bands. After school, I was exhausted. I got back to the hotel at about 6, and fell right asleep. I slept for 12 hours!!!!!

Day two:
...was pretty uneventful. I woke up around 6 and went to school. I am usually the first or second car in the lot every morning. It is nice that the days are still long enough up here so the sun is up! During the day, I handed instruments out to my ensembles. Not realizing how little time that actually takes, I was left with a lot of class with nothing planned! Not good!!!! Luckily, my first period are angels!! They recommended a fun name game. We played it, and life was good. Second period played the game as well...not as good. Much more "chit-chat." It was rough, but I never felt like I was unable get them back on track, so I chalked that up to another successful class. In Choir, we were already working on literature. It went fine. My last class went alright...not great, not horrible. The class is large and the name game got a little boring...but they dealt with it pretty well. I went home, planned, and went to bed.

Day three (today):
The day started well. I stopped at Micky D's for breakfast/coffee and got some things done before school in my office (that is so cool...I have an office!!!!) Friday's schedule is different, so I saw my Orchestra first. WOW was that a learning experience. We had instruments for the first time. Every student had something book, broken string, instruments WAY out of tune, couldn't find a bow, etc. I also learned that 90% of my Orchestra has no idea how to tune their instrument....this is good to know. I also had violin players breaking strings because they accidentally grabbed a viola. They were trying to tune their E string, which on a viola is actually an A. The added tension of tuning the thicker string a fifth too high snapped them like dried out rubber bands. (ok...Mr Lockwood confession time...I also did this once today. With all of the craziness of everyone needing help right away, I made that very mistake and snapped a viola string...but at least I learned something from it) I spent 45 minutes of class going around the room tuning instruments. I have no problems helping students tune...I just need to find a more efficient method. I'll be making phone calls to my orchestra friends this weekend. We finally played one scale together, and class was done. I then had my first Band....same thing as orchestra. EVERYONE HAD SOMETHING WRONG!!!! I thought I could fix these issues since I am very comfortable in a band setting...but it was all problems like: no instrument, no reeds, broken ligature (the thing that holds a reed on)...etc. I couldn't fix the problems. We finally get things figured out and opened our warm-up books. We looked at the first exercise and I had at least two students yell out, "I do not know how to play any of these notes!"...this is also good to know. I had to hand feed notes and rhythms to a few students, which I actually have no problems doing if that is what is needed to get started...HOWEVER, during this time, I had a lot of students acting out because the rest of the class had nothing to do...which is not good for middle schoolers. There were more fun times when we practiced our fire drill. "Fire Drill" was misinterpreted as "I get to go outside and talk with my friends" time. This was the first moment I felt like I lost control...not a good feeling at all! However, class ended and I was still breathing, so I guess there is another small success to celebrate. I then had choir. Choir was wonderful! Today was a staff member's birthday so I took them down to the office to sing. It was so cute! After that, we went to the music room and I listened to some of the students sing one on one for voice placements. I was a little worried about this because I was in the practice room listening to individuals sing while everyone else was out in the classroom...but they were GREAT!! There is a window in the practice room, so I was able to keep half an eye on them as well. After choir, I had my second band. It was awesome!! They were helpful, understanding, and eager to learn! They asked some great questions and we made some music together! It was a wonderful end to a crazy day.

I am now writing this blog post from my NEW hotel!!!!!!! I checked out of The College Inn and I am now staying in the hotel section of the Wedgewood Resort. I move into the extended stay section tomorrow. It is beautiful here!!! I am very happy to be out of the College Inn...which SUCKED. Have you ever been woken up by a smell? I was this morning. I have no idea what it was, but I couldn't breath. It was AWFUL. Oh well. I am out of that place FOR-EV-ER!! (a little Sandlot reference for y'all)

This place is great! I have a kitchenette with a full sized fridge, a bathroom with a tub, two queen sized beds, a living room with couches and chairs, two TV's, and free internet. I like it =)

Alright, that about sums up my first couple of days. Things are tough, but I feel that it will get better - and it will get better soon. I am now at the stage where I have a basic idea of where my ensembles are and where they need to be. It is now my job as a teacher to get them to that next step.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and I'll be posting more soon.

Rock on
~Mr. Lockwood

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tomorrow is the Big Day!!!!

Man the 20th got here fast!!! Tomorrow is my very first day of school!!!! This post will be short because I still have about 13,972 things to do and only a few hours to do them (I need to get some good sleep tonight, sorry Andrew, no on-line cribbage this evening.)

I set up my listening area/recording studio in the classroom today, and it's pretty sweet! My computer hooks right into the system for easy access to music playing and recording. I also received a LCD projector from the school so we can watch videos on the big screen! Tonight, I need to finalize seating charts and prerecord some midi tracks for accompaniments. Piano is not really my forte (get it...piano forte?), so I am using cakewalk/sonar to play back the accompaniment for me. This way, I can be in front of the choir instead of behind a piano. I can also separate parts so if the choir wants/needs to hear just their line they can, or I can play just the piano accompaniment, OR I can play piano and voices together to help students hear how everything fits together. I LOVE TECHNOLOGY!! (I got this idea from a wonderful teacher in River rock Lori Moe!!!) I would like to thank everyone in the music department at Meyer Middle School in RF for all of the help and support during these stressful days of preparation. Also, I need to thank Darrin (the other Supertonic.) He has hooked me up with a TON of resources for getting my string program off to a running start! I should probably be more nervous than I am, being a first year teacher, but due to all of the help from my friends and fellow staff here at Randy Smith, I am WAY more excited than scared. Things should go very well!

OK, I'm off to get some work done. I will post here tomorrow letting my "Faithful Blog Readers" know how things went.

Keep your fingers crossed!!
Rock on
~Mr. Lockwood

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Everyday is an Adventure here in Alaska!!

So today was interesting...but I'll get to that in a moment. First, I want to start with my story from yesterday (I tried posting it last night, but I couldn't get pictures to upload):

I was bored yesterday, so I jumped in "The Swamp Donkey" (that's what I named my car) and I went for a drive. There is a little town called Circle about 150 miles NE of Fairbanks, so I decided to take a little road trip. Just to warn you...every time I grab a camera, the rain clouds show up. This time, however, I think the dramatic sky adds to the shots!

Enjoy (I know these are a little bigger, I hope they fit on your screen. This website still will not let me upload photos, so I had to use a different hosting site...I hope it works):

This was taken on top of a mountain. I didn't come across too many tall ones on this drive (no snow.) This was at about 3000ft. It's kinds cool that once you reach a certain elevation, trees stop growing.

This one is of an old road. I thought is was a cool sight and the picture turned out very well in my opinion.

I usually HATE pictures of myself, but since I am thousands of miles from friends and families, I thought I'd post a few self portraits from time to time. I don't want all of you who are living "Outside" to forget my purdy face (Outside is apparently what Alaskans call the lower 48)

Here is another shot from atop the mountains. I am starting to teach myself about HDRI photography. It is VERY neat. Here is a link for more information on HDRI if you are interested. LINK

Here is a shot with a little green =)

So, I make it up to Circle and I found out first hand what the Alaskans mean by "The Bush." To my understanding, "The Bush" are very small towns in the middle of nowhere...places that are their own little worlds. There was a gas station/grocery store, a post office, and an airport with small 2-4 passenger propeller planes in town...THAT'S IT. I went inside to pay for my gas and the lady asked me, "How much?" I didn't realize that they do not have the equipment to access that information, so I went outside and checked. Talk about a trusting community! I guess that in a town of less than 40 people, you know where everyone lives. After filling up "The Swamp Donkey", I needed a sandwich...there was NOTHING in Circle, so I went driving back (oh yeah, gas was $5.30 a gallon here. Ahhh...the joys of supply and demand!!!) There was another very small "Bush" town about 35 miles back the way I came and I remembered a grocery store/gas station/bar there. I REALLY hoped they had food because the next town was about 110 miles away and I was getting very hungry.

So I get to the grocery/gas station/bar in Central, AK and I find out they serve food. I sit down for a hot sandwich and out of nowhere it starts raining....HARD!! The roads for the next 80 miles or so were going to be dirt and I did not want to drive on un-paved roads through the mountains in a torrential down pour, so I sat and people-watched for an hour or so. What an experience! I have been in small towns before, but it is somehow different up here. There were a few kids in the bar (I'd guess high school aged) and several older people. Everyone knows everyone. I over-heard a conversation about school starting...they have 11 students this year attending the school in Central; not in their their SCHOOL!!! I guess two students are coming down from Circle to attend this year and I do not know if they were counted in the total of 11 or not. Well, the rains died down enough to the point where I felt safe to drive, so I hit the road back to Fairbanks. Nice drive, I highly recommend doing it...once.

So about today
I'll make this part short and sweet because I realize this post is getting quite long. I'll try not to ramble too much to cater to the needs of my ADHD readers.

Today was new student orientation. I was excited to meet some of my students, so I woke up early to get a fresh start on the day. I get to my car, turn the key...and nothing happened. I found out that I left my lights on the day before (I am a GENIUS!) I had my lights on during the day since I was driving through rain and I wanted to be safe (and follow common traffic laws.) What do you do when you are 3000+ miles from anyone you know and your car won't start walking. I grabbed my laptop and started the 3+ mile hike at 7 in the morning. I thought to myself, there is no way I am making this walk without some food and a cup of joe, so I stopped at a local coffee shop. I walk in the door and who do I see, the teacher who is in the classroom right next to me!! Since we were obviously going to the same place, she offered to give me a ride.

The rest of the day went very well. I met some students, talked with a few parents, and got my classroom a little more organized for the 20th. After school, one of my co-teachers (I like the sound of that better than co-workers) was able to give me a ride to my hotel and jump my car. "The Swamp Donkey" is back and kicking =)

Tomorrow is a work day, so I am excited to get everything set up for Wed.

Have a great night everyone!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Day Three of Teaching in Alaska

Hello everybody!!

Things are going well again. I probably seemed a little stressed out in my last post...well, I was, and I will be for the first year up here teaching...but I have been given some GREAT advice from a lot of people. My problem is that I want to know EVERYTHING!!! I am a very curious person who loves to learn. I am asking tons of questions and everyone in the school is giving me TONS of great information...but I am on overload. I have way too much info coming in and not enough cognitive capacity to comprehend it! I sat down with the assistant principal and he helped me out a greatly! He helped me put some time tables in place and assisted me on prioritizing everything I need to do. I just need to take things one step at a time and only look about a day or two into the other words, stop trying to plan the whole year out before the first day! Monday is 7th grade orientation, so I will be able to meet some of my students...that's pretty exciting =)

I wish I had more time to explore the town and post some pictures...but I have been too busy. Don't worry, they will come =) I went down to The Pump House again for dinner tonight...MAN I love that place. Everyone who visits me will be eating there, just so you know! This weekend will be spent mostly at school getting my syllabus written and preparing my classroom for the first day of school. I am very excited!!! Still nervous, but pumped to get things rockin!

I hope everyone out there in "Blogging Land" has a great weekend, and I will be posting more stories and hopefully a few pictures sometime next week.

Rock on!
~Mr. Lockwood

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day Two of Teaching in Alaska

I left today MUCH more worried than yesterday. Aug 20th is getting closer and closer every second. It is not the material I am worried about, it is the 36,542,897 things that teachers do OUTSIDE of the classroom that worry me.

I know how to teach music, I just have no idea how to be a teacher.

It is all of the little things that worry me: how to create a syllabus, how to schedule a concert, how to use a budget,...etc. I am sure I will be fine once things get rolling. I am not the first person to ever get a teaching job with no experience and very little help...but the stress levels are a little hight right now. It's funny, Stephen left Anchorage this morning and sent me a text message saying, "About to leave now have 41 minutes to change your mind and we can start driving back LOL."'s a good thing his plane didn't leave late this evening =) I am not seriously wanting to leave...but it's starting to get a little scary.

I know I'll be fine. Like I said, I am not the first person to ever start a teaching job...but to say it is not stressful would be a lie. Once the school year gets going and I find a system that works for me, I am positive things will go very smoothly....I don't mean to sound egotistical, but I am a smart guy who adapts well to change and I will be able to figure it out soon enough.

I was once told that the only job of a first year teacher is to NOT QUIT! I tell myself that daily. After a year or three of this I've been told it becomes second nature...I can wait.

Have a great night everyone! Thank you all for your positive comments and support! It is appreciated more than I will ever be able to express.

Rock on

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Some Random Pictures from the Drive to Alaska

So I've been pretty busy since I have arrived in AK. I really did not get a chance to take a lot of good pictures. Most of my photos where taken from a moving vehicle and did not turn out as crisp as I would have liked...but c'est la vie.

Here are two pictures of Fireweed taken in Alaska. I actually got out of the car for these. This flower is EVERYWHERE up here:

Here are a couple random shots from the drive that didn't turn out too bad:

Next, I have a few pictures of Canadian signs. Those crazy socialists need to learn how to spell:

Well, that's all for pictures right now. Stephen and I got ripped off when it comes to wildlife. We saw a few deer, two bald eagles, a moose, three bison, and a bunch of crows. Still no bear. I have actually come to the conclusion that bear do not exist. Everything you see in print or on TV is created digitally...and those "bears" you see at the zoo are actually genetically engineered dogs! For anyone who knows someone who claims to have seen a bear...go and slap them for lying to you!!

Have a great night everyone!!

My First Day Teaching in Alaska:

So in-service started today. For those who are unfamiliar with in-service, it is basically the week teachers have to get the classroom ready for the students' arrival and to receive thousands of handouts on information about the school year.

Today started with a great breakfast provided my the PE (physical education) department and the kitchen staff. During breakfast, we went around the room and introduced ourselves and went over a few procedures for the year. After that, I was set loose to do my thing. For the first two hours in my classroom, I felt like a blind man playing clue what's going on. I had no knowledge of what the previous teacher had done the year before, I had no idea where things where, and I had no idea what student played what instrument. I figured I should be doing I went through the music library. On first inspection, I noticed the literature in the library is mostly crappy pop "Crowd Pleasers" and mid '90's Disney tripe. The jazz band literature is actually pretty solid and the orchestra stuff is not bad, but I have a lot of searching to do if I am to find something decent for my choir and varsity/concert bands to play. At around 1pm, I left to grab lunch and to pick up some computer speakers from my hotel room...I was having a very difficult time functioning without music to listen to. When I returned to the school, I popped in a CD of Yair Dalal (if you like world music, go out right now and buy everything he has ever written!!!!) and got to work. The previous music teacher showed up around 3:30 and we went over some information that was VERY helpful. I finished up the day around 5.

After day 1, I feel surprisingly calm and confident; however, I am sure that will fade as August 20th gets closer day by day (the 20th is when the students show up.) Tomorrow is a lot of workshops with the whole district, so I will have the opportunity to meet many new people who's names I fill forget several seconds later!

Rock on

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Mystery of the Elusive Swamp Donkey is Solved?!?

Alright ladies and gentlemen...I have undeniable proof that the Swamp Donkey is real!! On the drive up to Fairbanks, Stephen and I were lucky enough to catch a brief glimpse of this mystical beast and I now have photographic evidence of it's existence.

Here it is...the Mystical Alaskan Swamp Donkey:

The picture is a little blurry, but I promise you this is the real thing!! The Swamp Donkey, much like Big Foot and "Nessy", has been a beast of legend up here in the Land of the Midnight Sun. I will be tracking this elusive creature closely and providing you all with more evidence of it's existence, so keep checking back here for updates.

Rock on

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fun times at the College Inn!!!!

I need to write a little about this Hotel I am staying in. So, I was told about The College Inn last night by one of the bartenders at The Pump House...a great bar. She said it is very cheap and they are use to people needing long term rooms. She did, however, warn me it was quite ghetto. Stephen and I found the hotel and I checked in for a week (I won't say the price, but so you get an week here is less than two nights at a "normal" hotel in Fairbanks) Stephen and I took a little tour. Night time security, shared bath and shower room, small kitchenette down the hall, and microscopic living's like UWRF Crabtree Hall all over again!! I figured, I can do this!...oh just wait...

After I brought some of my stuff up to my room, I took the things I actually care about over to Stephen's Hotel...the nice one. (Now I do not want anybody getting mad at Stephen for dumping me into the run-down dirt hotel while he laps up the life of's fine with me. I can afford this, and in a few weeks I'll have a beautiful apartment one mile from the school I'll be teaching it's all good!) Anyways...back to last night. I go out to buy an Ethernet cable so I can have internet in my room. I go to plug it in....and nothing happened. I go down to the front desk and it is closed. The security guard tells me I need to pay for the internet. I figured I'd wait 'till morning and see how much it is. I wake up, go down to the office and ask about internet. The lady working tells me, in a very thick accent, that internet is included in the price of weekly hotel rates and all she has to do is turn it on. So she does her thing and I go back up to the room to do mine. I plug my computer into the wall.....and nothing happened. I go back down stairs to see what's up. The lady working says, "go and plug it in again, sometimes the cable is not all the way in." I think to myself "I know how to plug in a freaking cable!" but I placate the woman and go back to the room to check it out. I plug the cable in and take it out several times...and nothing happened. I look at the desk where the phone is connected to the same small box I am plugging my computer in to. I notice the two cables coming out from the box...but only one going in to it; the phone line. So I follow the phone cord along to the closet ('s not as much a closet as it is a large box with a cheap latch on it) and what do I find? A ripped out blue internet cable, wrapped up neatly lying on the floor.

I tell the lady at the front desk and she lets me switch rooms. I move into my new room and I am happy. The internet works, I can see my car from the window, and it does not smell like someone lit a dead cat on fire. Also, the door is kinda tough to open. I figured...I'll take that as added security....well, it kinda worked.

I always keep my door locked; in the room or out. I have been on the internet for most of the day, updating the blog, checking e-mails -you know, the usual stuff one does on the internet. After several hours of "Al Gore's Invention", I needed some fresh air. I shut down the computer, put away my stuff, unlock the door, and turn the handle to leave....and nothing happened. I was locked IN my hotel room. I realize that the added security of a tricky door, was actually a faulty deadbolt keeping me prisoner in a room about the size of a walk in closet! What do you do when you are 3000 miles away from your friends/family and you are locked in a hotel room? text the one person in town you know and laugh! I told Stephen about my imprisonment...and he laughed. Don't worry, he was laughing WITH me...not at me. I thought it was hilarious! I figured if I couldn't get the door open, at least I'm on the ground floor and could always climb out a window.

I finally get the door open by using a knife to push the deadbolt back into the door (don't worry, I already checked to see if this could be done from the outside and it can not) I go to tell the lady at the front desk that the deadbolt to my room is not working and in broken English she asked, "can you fix it?" I was blown away! She actually wanted me to take the dead bolt apart, find out what is wrong with it, fix it, and put it back that is exactly what I did. I took the lock off, found out that the reason it was not working was because they chiseled too much wood out of the door so the bolt was moving around. I found something to stick inside the door to hold the bolt into place and I put it back together. I now have a perfectly functioning door....I RULE!

Well, I need to go meet up with Stephen, who was at the movies during my "deadbolt debacle," so I gahts-ta-go! Have a great night everyone. I have more stories and pictures from the road I need to post, so y'all come on back now...ya hear

Rock on
~Bobb (prisoner # 655321)

We made it to Fairbanks!!!!

Well, we are here! We arrived in Fairbanks yesterday, around 1:45 local time. What a drive!!! The stretch of road from Whitehorse, YT to the Alaskan border SUCKED!!!!! Don't get me was BEAUTIFUL!! However, it is so wet in the area that the roads warp and buckle quite a bit. I think my car caught some air on the larger bumps =) We had no problems with the border either, which was one of my concerns. I do not have anything illegal with me, but those border patrol officers are usually very intimidating. Luckily, Stephen and I had a cute little blond lady check us in. I am pretty sure the site of two sweaty, sleepy, stinky, Americans who have the spent the majority of the last 3 days in a car looked VERY she just let us in.

Here are a few pictures from the drive:
This one was taken after being on the road for about an hour...we left at 5am, so that gives you an idea of what time the sun was up. Also, if you look very can see some deer!!! (click on picture for larger view)

You didn't see any deer did you? They are pretty away far in the background. I put yellow stars to mark the deers' location so you can find them easier:
This next one is probably my favorite picture so far (well, it is tied with the picture of the road) This was right before the rain started to come down. It never rained hard, just non-stop drizzle. I think this is a picture of Kluane Lake, but I'm not sure.

As we continued Northwest, the moisture in the air was crazy. I'm sure the humidity was close to 235% The area was very swampy and the mist sat low on the surrounding hills. (This is in Black and White...I figured I haven't posted too many B&W's, so here's one)

Finally, we went through the border and entered Alaska. Here is a picture of my new home =)
(it was pretty nasty outside, so I didn't get too many good pictures of Alaska, but I'm sure there will be other opportunities in the next year to take a few pictures)

About Fairbanks:
As soon as we arrived in Fairbanks, the first thing we did was find a place to have a celebratory cigar and a beer. We found a great place called the Pump House, where we each had a local beer, brewed outside of Fairbanks, and a Padron 80 year (if you are a cigar understand what a treat that was! Thank you Jay and Todd for the cigars!!!)

As we were sitting there, I took the most amazing picture. I need to stress the fact that this was NOT done digitally, although I am sure most people will not believe me. I promise you I did nothing to this photograph other than adjust the levels and crop it. I was trying to take some pictures of myself in the mirror blowing smoke rings and as I was reviewing the pictures, I noticed that the rings formed together to spell something out...let's see if it is as obvious to you as it is to me what they spell:

(edit: After talking with people, I guess it is not as obvious to others as it is to myself what it spells
so here is a hint...look right above my head for my name...all capital letters)

So after the bar, I found a hotel to stay at for the next two weeks. Something temporary until I can move into my apartment. This place is pretty ghetto, but has a bathroom/shower room down the hall, a bed, and internet...that's all I need. Stephen is staying a few days in town, then I'm on my own. I have a friend who gave me a name of a guy who lives here in Fairbanks and I think we are getting together tonight for a town tour. After the weekend, I start on Monday with a new teacher work shop and then in-service starts the 13th!

My blog posting will probably have less pictures for a while, since I'm sure I will be too busy to shoot, but keep checking back for some stories!

Rock on!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fort St. John, BC to Whitehorse, YT

A.K.A. Bobb and Stephen's Quest for the Mystical Swamp Donkey

I feel great right now...sleepy...but great. I had some Arctic Char for dinner and I am now sitting in my hotel finishing up a cocktail. I am excited to spend my last night on the road. I should be arriving in Fairbanks around 3:00 local tome (that is 6:00 Central So, the drive today was a little long (12.5 hours) but it was BEAUTIFUL!!! I took tons of pictures, but time is not something I have a lot of, so I will have to post most of them later - but like promised, I will post a few now =)

Again, we were up at the crack of dawn. The sun is up a little after 5am this far north!!

We were on the Alaska Highway the whole was beautiful!!!!!!

I liked this sign......and I guess they meant it =)

We hit mountains pretty early in the day and had an amazing view!

oh yeah...I started a check list of all of the wildlife we have seen so far.
Deer: 7
Swamp Donkey: 0
Bison: 3
Wild Horses: 2
Crows: 17,835
Abandoned Vehicles: 3
Bear: 0

I have a few others on the list that are at zero, but I didn't feel the need to tell my readers about the wonderful thing we did NOT see. All I know is that I better see a freaking bear tomorrow or I am going to walk up to the Canadian government and punch someone in the throat! Oh yeah, a Swamp Donkey would be great to see as well (That is actually what I named my new car...The Swamp Donkey!)

Have a great night everyone!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day Two...Saskatoon, SK to Fort St, John, BC

So I am in British Columbia...and I am still tired. Today's entry will be short because I NEED sleep. We pulled into town pretty early, 4 o'clock, when to the bar for a drink and cigar, came back to shower, and then find food. The food was great, but due to the lack of sleep, the high stress of moving, and the awful gas station food I've been eating all day...I am feeling a little sick. Apparently, I am now TWO time zones away from MN/WI, so my times are all messed up as well. I hope to share some great stories when I have more energy and feel better (I do have some great stories!) but in the mean time you'll just have to deal with a couple of un-touched up photos taken from my car =)

You guys rock and I miss you already!

Well, I didn't like the layout of the last post (I am still learning how to "Blog") so I'm just going to post a few pics without a story...just a caption.

Up before the sun again =)

I learned something on this trip...there is fog early in the morning. I am usually not awake before 8, so this is new to me

My all time favorite sign so far =)

We couldn't have made it in such great time if it wasn't for a few tools =)

Have a great night!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day one...Afton, MN to Saskatoon, SK

I wish I had more time to write today, but I was up at 3:30am this morning and sat in a car for over 14 hours...I am tired. I have a few pictures to share from day one. I have more, I just do not have the energy to post them. Maybe once I'm settled in.

Please keep in mind all of these picture were taken out the window of my car (don't worry, most of them were taken while I was not driving) so the quality is not the best. once we hit the Alaska Hwy, I think we are going to allow us some stopping and looking around time...but we just wanted to make as much progress the first day as we could. Over 900 miles is pretty good progress if you ask me =)

So we got up before the sun and started our drive:

As the sun was coming over the horizon, we experienced a LOT of fog. I am still learning the best way to shoot in fog, so these pictures did not turn out the best. (I'll tell you what is NOT the best way to shoot in the fog...sitting in the passenger seat of a car going 65 mph) However, I have a few cool ones. I'll post this one now, maybe more later.

After the sun dried out the morning fog...we hit North Dakota. It was flat and boring!!!

I thought, yeah, it is a beautiful day, but what could be more boring than flat, lame, North Dakota?

Flat, lame, Southern Saskatchewan! LAME!!!! Oh well. At least I had great company =) I am super sleepy now, so I am going to bed. I may not post tomorrow since we are going to be at Fort Saint John, British Colombia tomorrow, and it looks like that is a pretty small town. Perhaps when we reach Whitehorse, Yukon Territory the day on Thursday I'll have time to post. Otherwise, you may have to wait until the weekend.

Take care everyone!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Welcome to my Blog =)

Ok, this is my first attempt at "blogging," so please be gentile. I think the word "blogging" is ridiculous, I think the idea of "blogging" is very narcissistic (hey everyone...come read a whole bunch of random crap about ME!!) and I think the amount of time wasted on reading "blogs" is pointless...however; if there ever was a time to start a blog it is now. I would like to start off by saying I AM NOT AN ENGLISH MAJOR!!! There will be spelling errors, there will be grammatical errors, there will be words that are spelled right but do not make any sense in context...that's the way I write. I hope you can get use to it =)

If you are reading this, you probably know me. I am Bobb. I am moving to Alaska to teach music. I am the new 7th - 8th grade band, orchestra, and choir teacher at Randy Smith Middle School in Fairbanks, Alaska. I thought it would be a fun idea to set up a site where all of my family and friends could visit to check out what's new 3000+ miles away. As most of you probably know, I LOVE photography. I will try to post many pictures from my adventures here along with a few stories. I will also try to keep this as "Family Friendly" as I can so you can share this site with your kids =)

The adventure starts tomorrow (8/5/08) a little before sun-up. I plan on taking lots of pictures during the drive to Alaksa, so come on back and check them out.

Rock on