Cold snap makes you wonder: Why do we live in Fairbanks?
By Tim Mowry
Fairbanks Daily News Miner
Published Thursday, January 8, 2009
Why do I live here?
That was the question a hitchhiker I picked up on Chena Hot Springs Road last week posed as we descended down the Steese Highway into the cloud of ice fog that has been disguised as Fairbanks for the past 10 days.
Even after more than 22 years in Alaska, I didn’t have an answer for him.
Cold snaps like the one we have endured for the past week and a half are really the only time that I wonder what I am doing living in Fairbanks.
What am I doing living in a place where you have to cut your way through the ice fog with a chainsaw?
What am I doing living in a place where thermometer watching is considered a spectator sport?
What am I doing living in a place where I have to dress up as if I were skiing across Antarctica just to drive to work?
What am I doing living in a place where I spend half my time hauling, cutting and stacking firewood in the summer and the other half time unstacking, hauling and burning it in the winter?
What am I doing living in a place where I have to fill and haul five-gallon jugs of water at 45 below?
What am I doing living in a place where you’re happy when the weather forecast calls for a high temperature of 35 below.
What am I doing living in a place where you can’t see a stop light that’s 10 feet in front of you?
To be honest, I’m tired of it.
I’m tired of fighting my wife, Kristan; 10-year-old son, Logan; and three Labradors for space around the wood stove.
I’m tired of seeing nothing but two dashes on my indoor/outdoor digital thermometer, which “only” goes down to 30 below before the dashes appear.
I’m tired of wondering when the only one of our three vehicles that is still running will break down.
I’m tired of bolting upright in bed every time the furnace comes on in the middle of the night, which is my Pavlov-conditioned cue to go stoke the wood stove because the temperature in the house has fallen below 50 degrees.
I’m tired of wearing bunny boots for slippers because the tile floor in our house is so cold you’d frostbite your toes if you didn’t.
I’m tired of letting my car warm up for 20 minutes only to climb in and find the seats as stiff as plywood.
I’m tired of not going skiing because it’s so cold I can’t muster the motivation to do so, even though I know it won’t be that bad when I get out there.
I’m tired of watching movies from Blockbuster because it’s too cold out to do anything else.
I’m tired of wearing polypropylene underwear 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I’m tired of having square tires every time I park somewhere for more than an hour.
I’m tired of waiting for the renters who live in my old cabin to call me and tell me their water pipes are frozen or the Monitor oil heater stopped working or the door is frozen shut or some other cold-related problem that I will have to try and fix.
I’m tired of everyone you talk to on the phone who doesn’t live in Fairbanks asking what the temperature is.
Most of all, though, I’m tired of people like me griping about the cold and wondering when the cold snap will break.
This is Fairbanks and for some crazy reason we choose to live here.
I’ll let you know when I figure out why, but first I’ve got to go start my car to let it warm up, assuming it will start.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Why do people want to live in Alaska?
I found this article on a Fairbanksan's facebook links, and I can't figure out how to link to the newsminer story but it's too good to not share with all the people here who've asked me "Why Alaska?" Anyone who's ever lived in Fairbanks, as I did for many years, will appreciate this. Anyone who's ever wondered about my choice of living where I do now (where the temps get just as low... only not lately!) will understand when I say "I got out of the ice fog." If only I could find a way to explain communitarianism as well as Tim Mowry explains an interior Alaskan winter. Enjoy!