When the idea was first proposed to me, I didn't want to. I'm 30 weeks pregnant, I'm enormous, less mobile than normal, and tired. But I said yes, knowing that I would regret it if I didn't. So we took off for the weekend and went to the state fair in Palmer. My in-laws met us there with the motorhome and we all camped out together.
Really, we only spent one day (Saturday) at the fair. And that was plenty. At one point I went back to the motorhome to take a nap (it was rainy, so I hadn't even sat down in 5 hours) and my MIL asked, "Did you find anything you couldn't live without?" I thought that was an interesting way of putting it. Certainly there were things which were lovely and would be useful. Sweaters that I think are gorgeous, beautiful pottery and artwork, yarn from local animals and dyes. Plenty of crap, of course, designed to get you to spend way too much money on something you'll throw away as soon as you get it home. Or as soon as it breaks, a few hours after purchase. But something I couldn't live without? No, of course not. The only thing I was even somewhat tempted by was the pottery, and even that desire died as soon as I thought of how small our kitchen is, how many mugs we own and how few of those we regularly drink out of. (More in the winter than in the summer, but we still own more than get used.) Yes, the pottery was pretty. The mugs were the style I like, a bit bigger than average and perfect for wrapping your hands around. But I can most certainly live without them.
The older I get, the less I enjoy the fair. I remember going as a kid and being SO EXCITED. Rides! Toys! Food! Ok, I'm still way too excited about the food. (Which, it turns out, is the only thing Shane and I spent any money on. And I felt like a glutton for how much I ate, even though plenty of it was shared among several people.) I never really understood why my mom said no when I begged for just about every toy you could find at the fair. We got to go on plenty of rides, but hardly came home with anything. Now I understand. The fair is really just designed to get people to spend money. Probably more money than they can reasonably afford, especially with prices so high. Shane's cousin brought her family, and her older daughter (age 4) is both big enough to go on rides and to feel the pressure to purchase. With the rides, the husband took the daughter on one ride and Erika told us, "$10 on one freaking ride for 5 minutes of entertainment. How ridiculous." Thankfully, they had pushed rides off until late afternoon, when the little girl was tired, so they could go on just a few and then leave. Worse was earlier in the day, wandering around among the booths and hearing her say, "I want this! Mommy, we need this!" At four, this little girl decided that they needed 2 hottubs, one for kids and one for grownups. Of course, her parents have too much common sense to actually say yes to these demands, but I thought it was sad how pushed to consume our culture is that even kids who aren't allowed to watch much (any?) T.V. absorb so much of it. At what age are kids able to start understanding the differences between wants, needs, and luxuries?
As I said, we only spent one day at the fair. We got to see a great (free) concert by a band that Shane and I have enjoyed on Pandora for quite a while now (Young Dubliners), and stayed to watch the silly Lumberjack Show (also free). My MIL and I saw the gorgeous crafts that people have submitted and won awards for, we wandered around the animal pens and watched the two little girls pet some of the animals. ("Why are these baby chickens in a box? Why can't we hold them?") We had a great time, mostly because of the time with family.
Sunday we went to Costco in Anchorage, since we were so close and had people with a Costco card to take us. Woo! I do love Costco. Shane's mom was surprised by what she called our "restraint". We spent about $340, but we were careful about finding good deals. Cheese that's almost $4/block cheaper than Fairbanks, toilet paper, reindeer sausages at half the price we can find them here, etc. All non-perishables, really, since it would be over 24 hours before we had access to a real refrigerator. (The few things which needed to be refrigerated were stuffed in the motorhome's fridge, then in a cooler for the drive home.) We now have stuffed cabinets and shouldn't need to buy more than perishables for the foreseeable future. I <3 Costco.
After that it was to the cousin's house to camp out for our last night and to have a BBQ with even more family. The newlyweds, whose wedding we went to earlier this summer, showed up so we got to congratulate them once again. Learned more about family history, chatted, ate too much (again) and had a fantastic time.
What would an Alaskan road trip be without the wildlife? I drove most of the way home (Shane had trouble sleeping on the air mattress, so he napped a good portion of the way home) and at one point, when it was pouring rain, I screamed a bit and slammed on the breaks, waking Shane up. A fairly large black bear climbed over the guardrail and ran across the road right in front of us. Sure does get the heart pumping. Thankfully, I stopped in time and the bear ran off pretty quickly, so it was fine too.
Despite how much fun it all was, I was happy to come home. It was exhausting, and my digestive system seems much happier to be back to my normal eating habits. The pets, also, are happier. The dog went with us and the cat stayed home. So now we have a dog who's content to once again be around everything familiar, and a cat who's busy showing us just how much he missed us. It's good to be home.