August 25,2006

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


There are some days when parents are ready to deposit their children's things on the curb and wish them well in the big cruel world. I was never one of those parents. Raising three girls to adulthood has been a pleasure for my wife and I. In many ways we are sorry it is over, in so far as our ladies have been away enjoying the life-enriching world of college. Many college kids do manage to make it home in the summer, but for our girls that has been the exception. Most found summer employment at or near college more to their liking.

With two graduating this past spring from their respective colleges, we have started to enter the next phase of parenting. That phase is when one's children are ready to permanently fly away from the nest. We thoroughly enjoy our children, so would love to have them fly away someplace close. However, in this big world that is not really an option. If Ely had a vibrant economy more children could stay, but with our economy basically at a stand still, leaving is most common.

The first bird to fly away is our oldest daughter Alexa. She enjoyed her life in Ely, especially being by the lakes and woods. One of her favorite summer jobs was being a guide for the Girl Scout camp outside of Ely. Musically, Ely and other range opportunities were a rich environment for her pre-college days. She had two excellent band teachers - Mr. Klein and Mr. Lhotka to inspire her to go into music education.

Alexa's dream for at least five years has been to teach up in Alaska. During last spring break she flew to Anchorage and attended the Alaska teachers' job fair. Within a week of that she was offered a job teaching band for the Juneau School District. This is how Project North started for our family. Moving to Alaska for a young teacher is a complex project, especially Juneau, which is not accessible by road. One can only go to Juneau by plane or boat. Moving one's stuff, which cannot all fit in a car, requires military planning.

She checked out renting a Uhaul trailer for the one-way trip, but that turned out to be frightfully expensive. Having a five year old Kia sedan limited what she could tow. In fact, the car manual stated no towing. However, I assured my apprehensive daughter that her car could tow a small trailer. I told her I thought we could probably find a used trailer for less than what Uhaul would demand. I spread the word around the family to keep an eye out. Unfortunately, as time moved on, all we could find were a few run down trailers that were only fit for a one way trip to the dump.

Luckily, we came upon the idea of a trailer kit. At about half the cost of renting, Alexa and her handy boyfriend James were able to put together a 4x8 trailer with railings made out of 2x4s. I told Alexa that the key was to limit the height of the trailer to be at least a foot lower than the top of her car. The biggest tax on a car's engine and transmission is the drag caused by high trailers. Kits are never fun to assemble, but with diligence and some extra reflectors it was ready on time.

To complicate the move, our daughter decided that she wanted some company in the car. Namely, two young puppies. One was a chocolate lab named Chase whose primary goal in life is to eat. The second dog was a shy blue eyed Husky named Thor. Why Alexa could not wait until she was in Alaska to buy dogs, I do not understand? As a parent, I tend to be too practical according to my daughters. And of course, her houseplants had to all come as well.

Most parents would realize at this point, that despite the trailer's added capacity, we would still end up storing a lot of stuff. Small things, such as her 26 inch television, her bed, her futon, cross country skis, computer desk, and about thirty boxes. Alexa has been living in an apartment in Superior for the last 4 years and moved back to our house only 2 weeks before she was to drive to Alaska. Our garage was taken over as the staging area to sort, box and choose what was to come and what was to stay with her lucky parents. My guess is her big clunky TV will become a museum piece before it ever gets to Alaska.

So you parents with young children. Be careful what you buy for them, because you may have to store it for a long, long time. Thank heaven for Christmas, which is an excellent time to put a big bow on some of those storage boxes and give them back. Again!



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