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Fabulous folk in Fairbanks

It was Saturday morning and we were only in the MacDonald’s Restaurant in North Pole using the free WIFI in an effort to try and locate someone who could attend to that beeping propane alarm that had been going off in our camper all night. Despite removing the fuse, it had kept us sleeping with one eye open all night ensuring we didn’t wake up dead! It was a restless night, lying with the windows open while battling monstrous mosquitos hoping there wasn’t really a gas leak somewhere.

I was furiously trying to locate some help using the skype on my phone and a lousy pair of headphones. It appears my kiwi accent is quite thick and coupled with the fact I have been known to speak at ninety mile to the dozen, there is no wonder I have experienced the odd translation problem even in this English speaking country.

The couple eating at the booth across the aisle were going about their business and as they got up to leave the pretty blonde approached our table holding a business card. She was on some type of scooter vehicle that allowed her to be mobile on one leg, whilst using the other to propel the machine. We were to learn later that she is battling with a broken foot and the scooter is only a temporary measure while the 5th metatarsal in her foot heals.

On the back of the business card she had written the address of an RV specialist she knew in the area. She couldn’t help but overhear my loud telephone discussions – I come from a long line of deaf buggers and when I talk on the phone seem to speak at a few thousand decibel higher than required for the normal human ear. This is something I am told often by my children anyway!

The right side of the business card was awesome. It was quirky, slightly humorous and on further inspection contained the families contact details. I knew in that instant that Diana Reamer and I were cut from the same cloth. I think she is slightly mad in an awesome way, gives life a nudge and a great communicator. As we chatted her husband Darrell wandered over. He appeared to be standing there taking it all in and listening to the conversations we were having. As Diana used her own phone to combat the sound of my voice echoing in the restaurant to locate the repair place she had recommended, she was disappointed to learn from the answer service on the phone that they weren’t open for the weekend. I noticed Darrell working quietly away in the background on his phone at the same time and was to find out later that in the ten minutes we stood there chatting, he had phoned every RV service agent within 100 miles of North Pole to try and find some help for us without success.

Disappointed they were unable to help further, r they did leave us with directions to an automotive shop in Fairbanks they knew would be open on a Saturday morning which we did eventually visit.

During those ten minutes, I learned much about that amazing couple . You see that is the thing when you engage with people, they all have their own story to tell and I learnt a long time ago that it’s better to be interested than interesting. People share when you are interested and I was hooked the minute Diana started talking about their amazing life together.

She met her DOM (dirty old man), her words not mine, in ,92 while they were both in active duty as intelligence operators for the US Military. She was a linguist, he an analyst. They dated exactly three months, got hitched at the beginning of ’93 in San Antonio, Texas and their life together began. She glowed as she talked about how intelligent and smart Darrell was, about the path his career had taken him on and about their shared love of music –in particular the bag pipes. They must be passionate about those screeching things all right ,as once when travelling to London for work they bolted to Edinburgh for the day, saw the Royal Dragoons marching up the Royal Mile before downing a shot of scotch and deploying!

Following their marriage, Darrell then pursued a full scholarship through and army program title “Green to Gold” (enlisted to officer.) They both got degrees in Nursing and the unusual kilt Darrell was wearing standing in McDonalds that morning bore the 4 patches representing his Army specialties. EFMB – expert field medical badge (combat triage expert), Airborne (parachutist with weapons), Air Assault (loading up helicopters without electrocuting yourself and the machine for transport), and the longer badge at the bottom of the kilt represented a Flight Surgeon (able to assess, monitor and ensure safe flying of pilots). He has also flown helicopters thanks to his flight surgeon status & friendly demeanour.

They moved to Alaska initially in November of ’99 and flying in from balmy temperatures of 76 degrees F in Texas with the family (Aven, now 17 and 13 year old twins Thaelen & Kaeda ) to a temp of -56 degrees F in Fairbanks where they now reside, must have been a shock to the system for all!

They have lived all over since then, Texas, Tokyo, Japan, Kentucky and the list goes on .

They have jumped out of airplanes, bungy jumped in Gunma, Japan and paraglided near Mt Fujiyama. They have dragged those kids white water rafting and ridden some of the craziest roller coasters in Japan and I expect have instilled a love of adventure in them as large as their own.

Darrell is presently a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) in the US Army serving as a Nurse Practioner in Family Practice. Having worn many hats over the last 24.5 years serving his country. He looks forward to retiring and taking a well-deserved rest in July next.

Diana would have you believe her life these days is confined to being a homemaker and mom to her family. She has home schooled the children for a bit, but discovered that wasn’t her strong point. She’s a Girl Guide leader, volunteers for various roles within the community and loves collecting memories. By her own admission is a “social media tramp” and I expect is the engine room behind this amazing family. Meek and mild she definitely is not despite the fact she would like you to believe it.

I’m not real fond of the bag pipes – unless the piper is standing on a mountain and I am down the valley a couple of km’s away listening to the sounds echoing but I name dropped and said I am closely connected to bagpipe royalty in the south. That’s true, my Uncle Trev has piped for the real Queen Elizabeth as the Queens Piper in his heyday. I am however very fond of men in kilts!

When they finally make it to NZ I will be sure and hook them up with some of my bag piper friends so they can experience the warmth of home the same way we did in their country.

I feel ever so lucky to cross the paths of wonderful, interesting folk in my travels and this pair are definitely no exception.

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