Category Archives: Uncategorized

Final Push to Alaska

We crossed into the State of Montana while we were still in Yellowstone National Park. That shows you how big the park is. There were wildfires through the State and visibility was highly reduced in some places due to smoke. Montana is beautiful with high mountain passes and very scenic landscape. We loved it there and the 80mph speed limit was a plus too. 

We briefly crossed into Idaho which had a French sounding city called Coeur d’Alene named after a native American tribe. Soon after we crossed into Spokane,  Washington which to my surprise was a flat Savannah-like, dusty grassland. I don’t know why but I’ve always thought of Washington State as a green and rainy kinda place. I was so wrong. 

Seattle was next on our itinerary. Crazy traffic,  cyclists everywhere,  many bodies of water,  bridges, ferries and islands best describe this city.  We were able to get the car on a 30 minute ferry ride to Bainbridge Island. What great hidden gem so close to the big city. The view of Seattle from this island was amazing. Luckily it wasn’t raining while we were there. We also had the car serviced here ready for the final leg of the journey. 

We had to cross into Canada to start our final push to Alaska. The thing is when  Canada customs learn that you are military, they want to search your car for guns. Luckily they had already searched the car the last time we crossed into Canada enroute to Montreal. They quickly let us go this time round. We went into Vancouver and headed for the Capilano suspension bridge.

It was an interesting experience hanging on a suspended bridge with at least other fifty people swinging side to side while carrying a baby.. quite a balancing act I tell you. 

From Vancouver we headed towards Calgary stopping in Smoky Kamloops due to wildfires and the most beautiful part of Canada in my opinion: Banff and Lake Louise. The small town on the base of the mountains and the nearby lake are so scenic, words cannot begin to do justice to this place.

We took a break in Calgary, Alberta for a few days.. it was such a welcome do-nothing-but-eat-and-sleep kinda break. After two days we headed towards Grand Prairie via Edmonton. This was the last city in civilization before we hit the bunduz of Canada. 

We hit the the start of the Alaska highway at Dawson Creek and we were truly in the wild wild west of Canada. Hundreds and hundreds of miles a day before we got to these cities in the middle of nowhere: Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, Haines Junction. The accommodation options in these towns was only slightly better than the lodgings we have in rural Kenya. A bed,  shower,  a small TV and…. heater. I guess due to the harsh winters. No breakfast,  air conditioning.. basic being the key word. Fuel was being sold in remote lodges in litres. Between $1.20-$1.40 a litre. It was expensive. Along the way we stopped asst the famous Liard hotsprings in British Columbia too.

Food was limited and we survived on what little lodge cafes and gas station delis had. There were so many recreational vehicles (RVs) on the Alaska highway. So many people, mainly retirees make trip every year. But we saw bears,  bison,  mountain sheep even though they looked like goats. Those sheep can climb rocks.. wow!!

We finally made it to the Alaska-Canada border after 2.5 weeks on the road. They say it’s either winter or the road construction season. We were held up on numerous occasions as we had to wait  for escort vehicles through construction zones. Rural Alaska is very remote with only a gas station,  motel and restaurant in some places. 

We headed to Fairbanks for a well deserved second break. While there we took a trip to the Denali park where we saw some grizzly bears and Caribou. It was surreal to see them feeding in the distance. 

After a few more days of rest we headed into Anchorage,  our home for the next couple of years.  We had covered 8,700 miles or 14,000 kilometres. The trip of our lives. The car had performed amazingly well and the wife and young feels had been such great sports for such a long trip. We’ll do it again at the end of our tour God  willing. 

Advertisements

Roadtrip Pt 2

We crossed the border back to the US and headed Southwest along Lake Erie. We went through Pennsylvania to Ohio then on to Indiana. I’d never been to Michigan so we stopped in Kalamazoo downtown and checked it out. We averaged about 300 miles a day so it wasn’t too crazy on most days.

We stopped in Chicago, took a boat around downtown and took a tour of Willis Tower formerly known as Sears Tower. The views from the 103rd floor are stunning to say the least. The ledge experience was exhilarating. At 1353 feet above the ground and 4.3 feet off the ledge was a nerve of steel. The traffic in Chi town is not too be underestimated. 

We headed northwest and made stops in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where we tried squeaky cheese curds, Minneapolis we tried some Somali food and got to see a friend. We continued on to Fargo,  North Dakota just because I’d never been to that state. There wasn’t much to see there but Bismarck had bison farms and Dinosaur museum. It was also the longest leg of the trip at over 500 miles.  Enroute we went through the Standing Rock reservation which was at the center of protests by the Indian Sioux tribe against the Dakota pipeline. It was quiet when we drove through. Our destination was Mount Rushmore where they have a massive sculpture of 4 US presidents. There were too many activities nearby to be accomplished in a day. 

We then headed into Wyoming and into Yellowstone National Park, another huuuge recreation area with tonnes of activities. We saw more bison, bears, Yellowstone, hot springs and crazy traffic.. and crazy hikers amidst the bears.  It’s a 3,500 square mile park (it spans 2 states,  Wyoming and Montana) and a few hours didn’t do it any justice.  We ticked it off our list but we’ll be back soon to explore some more. 

Roadtrip Pt 1

We are on the road headed to Alaska.. driving. Life is too short not too take advantage of such opportunities. The Air Force has given me 13 days to get to my new base. I added 2 weeks so with about 4 weeks, I’m touring around. 

My stuff was shipped a couple of weeks ago,  it should get there after we arrive. They shipped some unaccompanied stuff which we’ll need as soon as we get there like uniforms and baby stuff.

We drove wife’s car to Norfolk,  Virginia and it was shipped. Should get there before we do. 

We did a dry run to the Carolina mountains and unfortunately the Audi did not meet the test. The back was too small to fit wife and baby comfortably on the road for 4 weeks. I was able to get a Saab station wagon and a roof luggage box. And it is a 6 speed manual transmission. Just the way I like them. 

We started our trip from North Carolina heading up north. We stopped in Annapolis, Maryland. It’s downtown area is beautiful and classic, it’s by the bay and it’s home to the Naval academy.

Our next stop was Montreal, Canada. It’s the French speaking part of Canada. We didn’t like it much. People were cold and snobbish, the roads were horrible and it sits by a huge river that you have to cross back and forth with only 2 bridges. Crazy traffic. The one interesting thing we saw was bringing your own bottle of wine to a restaurant and just paying for food.. random culture. 

We then headed to Ottawa the political capital of Canada. It’s beautiful,  lots of people doing outdoor stuff everywhere,  has old cathedrals and buildings and even has mass yoga sessions twice a week outdoors by this European style old building. It was thousands of people in this square when we passed thru.

Next stop was by Toronto, the financial hub.  it’s a big mess traffic wise. Too much traffic and small roads for its size. We didn’t explore much here. It sits on the edge of Lake Ontario which gets it’s waters from the Niagara falls.

We headed to Niagara falls,  it’s all its described to be especially on the Canadian side. It’s scenic,  huge, smoke rising from the falls. It’s a wow moment seeing it the first time. There is a skydeck from where you can have a bird’s eye view. We loved it but there was a storm while we were there and we got soaked a good one. 

The U.S side is a state park where you see the water before it hits the falls. There is a island and some caves behind the falls that you can hike down to but you don’t have the full view of the falls. 

We’ll bring the baby back when he’s much older to appreciate the beauty of this God given wonder.

The trip continues.. 

Orders to…

So i’m changing bases from my current base in North Carolina to…Alaska. WTH? Yes ..A Kenyan in Alaska will be my new slogan.  Yes,  I’ll be moving to Alaska soon. Everybody keeps asking about the cold up there in the Last Frontier as they call it.  I don’t know what to expect but I know it’s gonna be fun. Snow not withstanding. That’s what all my colleagues who’ve been based there tell me.  Everyone I talk to tells me about the cold up there but apparently it’s much warmer than the northern states i.e. North Dakota,  Minnesota e.t.c. The Air Force is sending this Kenyan to the last frontier originally bought from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million our 2 cents per acre back then. 

I don’t know what to expect up there but what’s guaranteed is 24 hr sun during summer and nearly 24 hr darkness during winter. I’ll tell you about how true that is once I get up there. 

I googled Kenyans in Alaska and instead found out there are Somalis in Alaska. Good enough. Somali food is delicious. 

I’m awaiting my orders from the Air Force to get this show on the road.  The trusted Audi unfortunately won’t be making the trip. We dry ran it the other day 5 hrs from base and it didn’t make the cut for wife and baby.. it’s too small.  In its place we are getting a SAAB..Yes,  a Saab. I didn’t know much about it either but it’s a kick ass car. A Swedish car manufacturer bought out by GM who then took it under.  There aren’t many of those babies and I got one out of Massachusetts. 6 speed manual transmission 2.8 V6 Turbo.. who knew?? The Swedes don’t play. 

I haven’t seen it yet but the reviews are amazing. 

Anyway,  that’s what’s happening.  Hopefully I can get done with my Private Pilot License (PPL) before I PCS (Air Force lingo for Permanent Change of Station). If not that’s fine.  My new base has an Aero Club. I can fly on base.  

Wish me luck on this cold winter thing hanging over our new outdoor paradise 😁😁😁

Random Chopper moment

So I was at the local airport building my solo time for my private pilot license..clear sunny evening,  calm winds.. just what a student would love to perfect his landings in. I had done 2 landings in the pattern. Then as I was coming in for my third landing I heard on the radio and saw a Marine Corps V22 Osprey conning into the pattern to land. The V22 is a tiltrotor military aircraft with vertical landings and takeoff capabilities.. meaning it comes in to land like a fixed wing plane would but touches down vertically. He circled and landed,  I had to keep circling in the pattern until the chopper departed the runway. Which they did after a while but my instructor on the ground was uncomfortable with me the student being around the chopper so he called off any more landings. I landed the third time and that was it. 

Fortunately the Osprey remained in the pattern and performed a couple more landings. It was so cool to watch at close range as the the pilots hovered in place. 

Here are short videos of the maneuvers 

Babies are work..

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Babies are a lot of work..a lot.  Especially in America. It’s very different having a baby in America. We were blessed with a baby boy in February.  It’s been a lot of fun and “fun” ever since. 

Having a baby in a new country is different. In Kenya you have all the relatives helping out and also getting you a househelp or a “mbotch” as we say in Kenyanese 😁

Luckily my mother-in-law flew in to help us with the bundle of joy. She has been of immense help for the two months she’s been around. She went back home last week. We are eternally grateful. Mothers are saviors.

In America unfortunately you cannot have a househelp as its  very expensive. We’ll take him to daycare once he’s old enough. Daycare It’s not cheap either running at around 200 bucks a week. Yes a week..

It’s been a rollercoaster since he arrived on this beautiful earth. He’s fed, cries, sleeps,  poops and repeats hundreds of times. It doesn’t get easier. He sleeps well on some days,  he cries endlessly on some days.. and we are are always tired and sleepy due to the reason above. 

I’ve learnt to catch snoozes whenever I can.. be it half an hour,  an hour I’ll take it. When mum was around we could hand her the bundle and catch a few snoozes. Not anymore.

Whenever I wasn’t working or in school the wife and mum would take a break. It can be overwhelming for mothers  and they need breaks every so often to recharge.

Did I say diapers are expensive.. oh yea,  the single most expensive item this far. Luckily there is online shopping and there are always deals so that helps. 

And who knew babies can scream that much and loud and don’t seem to run out of steam.. You worry the neighbours might call the cops on is for all the wailing.  One late night he cried for so long that neighbours started banging our walls, they couldn’t sleep.  Luckily they didn’t  call cops. The crying drives me crazy sometimes but we made the bed of roses now we gotta sleep in it. 😊😊😊 Everything I do to try calm him doesn’t work and sometimes I just sit and watch him cry..a little crying never harmed anyone. That’s how some of us toughened up growing up. 

Insurance that the Air Force has us on has been helpful but complicated to navigate. It’s really helped considering prenatal and postnatal care. Healthcare is expensive in this country. It’s not a joke. 

He’s growing fine and we are blessed to have him. He’s touched our lives in amazing ways and we look forward to him growing into a young God fearing man.. despite driving us crazy at times. 

It’s been a great journey thus far, I came to the US a single man,  i married a wonderful woman and now we have a son, we are a family.  It’s a blessing and we are thankful everyday. I wish my mum was alive to see her grandson 😞😞😞 All glory to God.. 
NB.

We’ll be moving soon from the east coast to a new base. The Air Force journey continues.. Guriix US journey continues.

Blessings

The new year began well. Wifey has been getting her bearings of the new town. It’s a small rural town with many military retirees. She’s figured it out with the help of Uber as I’m working most of the time. 

We had a new addition to the family this month. We thank God for blessings. The bundle of joy is quite a handful. Many nights with only a couple of hours sleep is the order of the day. He’s loving it at our expense. 

It was only two months before birth when wifey got here but the military insurance has been a blessing. It’s called TRICARE and to say its sorted us out would be an understatement. It’s been there for prenatal visits for the two months, delivery and now the paediatric visits. I’m be forever grateful to the Airforce for being there for me when I needed it. Insurance is ridiculously expensive here. 

Some people have asked about insurance options here. I didn’t have insurance for the year before I joined the Air Force. Luckily  I didn’t make a lot of money to be penalized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when I filed my taxes . You are penalized according to your income at the end of the year for not having insurance. Luckily for me the $300 a month deductible wasn’t an option. It was too expensive and I thank God I didn’t need to go to hospital during that period. 

Flying is going on well, I just completed my first solo flight. I take flying lessons once a week on the weekends and so far it’s been good. It’s a great experience. Combining college classes for my undergrad aeronautics  and flying hasn’t been easy and is kicking my behind. They said chasing dreams has never been easy so will keep working at it.  

Financing the flying is affordable too so I’m grateful for the endless opportunities moving to the US brings. It’s the main reason we made the decision to come here. 

There is a new Sheriff in town but so far it’s been ok for Kenyans save for a case I read about a girl being sent back to Nairobi after landing in Chicago. They went thru her stuff,  checked her phone and denied her entry and put her on the next flight out. 

The military loooooves the new Sheriff but as an immigrant there is alot of negative anti immigration vibe going around. There must be an uneasy feeling for those who are here illegally as they don’t know what the future will bring. The dreaded Immigration & Customs Enforcement aka ICE have been making the rounds detaining illegal immigrants and initiating removal proceedings. Even for legal immigrants holding green cards,  they must be on their toes about the fine print in the travel ban. I did refugee resettlement for many years back in Nairobi and the refugees admitted here are more than what the rest of the world does combined. The security checks by US security agencies is sometimes frustrating to the refugees but they are necessary in today’s insecure world. It’s been a country of immigrants and believe it’ll continue to be in long run despite the current situation. 

One year down,  three to go in my Air Force contract. It’s been a good year. To another great year ahead and what it brings.