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Freezing Nose Hairs 11/14/2003

Greetings from Ft. Yukon! Today is Friday, November 14, 2003. It is 23° below zero @ 8:30AM.

Every day now is a new personal record for coldest we've ever experienced. We've been watching the thermometer closely as it dipped from 9, to zero, to 5 below, and now to 23 below. It doesn't feel as cold as it sounds, though. It's been very manageable because we have the right gear to handle it. We've got the heavy coats, bibs, boots, gloves, etc. We were toasty walking to work this morning. The house has been nice and warm as well. Our heating unit went out two weeks ago. We had to pull it out and put it on a plane to Fairbanks for service. We used our wood stove for nearly a week while the heater was gone. The wood stove works well, and it's good to have as a back up. Back ups, and back ups for your back ups, are the standard around here. Now our heater is back again, and it's time to cut more wood!

You can tell when it's zero out, because right around zero, your nose hairs freeze as you walk outside. I didn't know what was going on the first time this happened, and thought I had some boogers up there making my nose hairs stick together. I figured it out though, and the next morning as we were walking, Stephanie turned to me and asked, Do I have something in my nose? (That wasn't exactly what she said, but she doesn't want it written that she uses the word 'booger') I laughed because I knew what she was talking about, and told her it was the cold.

There are moments that I would love for all of you out there to be here and see the strange sights that occur on a regular basis. About a month ago now, before there was any snow on the ground yet, Stephanie and I were walking to the post office. It was a clear afternoon and we were already in a good mood. From around the corner came Richard Carroll, one of our local dog mushers, with his dog team running in full gallop, tongues lolling, running in double-file lines that stretched twenty feet in front of Richard as he sat on his four wheeler! It was great to see his dog team pulling that four-wheeler through town. That is a common way of getting the dogs trained for winter pulling. We've since seen that same scene play out many times with other mushers, but none so thrilling as that first one.

Seeing our first snow machine (AKA snow mobile, AKA snow go) was also a weird sight. They are very loud and people drive them much faster than they normally drive their cars or four-wheelers. They can be a hazard to us pedestrians, especially as we walk in the ever increasing dark.

A few weeks ago we had a spell of rain and cloudy weather in the thirties. The temperature dropped quickly to around zero, and triggered an "ice fog." It lingered a couple of days and prevented any planes from landing. It was amazing to us to see the ripple effects of having no planes for two or three days. The post office had a hand written sign on the front door that read: "No plane. No mail." And anyone who happened to be here when the fog rolled in stayed here until it rolled out again, regardless of their intended schedule.

It started snowing here early in October. I sent out a picture of the snow, but I don't think it made it to everyone. It doesn't snow a lot here. We are told that about two feet is a normal winter total, most of which falls in November. It has only snowed maybe three or four inches here so far, but every surface is covered, and none of it is going to thaw any time soon. The walks are slick in places, and after a couple of unfortunate spills, we had to buy some studded cleats for Stephanie that clip onto the bottoms of her shoes. She loves them. Now, temperatures are dropping enough to preclude the possibility of further snow fall.

We seem to have settled into a bit of a routine, as is probably inevitable when you go to work everyday, no matter where you live. After a long day at work, of course it's nice to have some time at home to decompress. Then, by the time dinner is prepared, consumed, and cleared, it is often 8 in the evening. It is about that time that we think, "I'd sure like to call so-and-so and say hello." Unfortunately by that time it is 11PM in Texas and midnight on the east coast. So if any of you night owls are ever up late, feel free to give us a call. We also (at long last) finally have an answering machine that works, so you can call and leave a message at any time (hint hint).

We flew to Fairbanks two weeks ago now, in order to buy groceries, do some more shopping, and to treat ourselves to dinner out and a movie. We spent some time getting our car battened down for the winter. Now it's parked at the airport in Fairbanks, and we've abandoned it to the cold for the winter. We don't plan on driving it again until things thaw significantly in March or April, and I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that it will be in good condition when we return to it in four or five months from now.

The days are getting short. The sun rose this morning at 9:43AM and went down at 3:12PM for a total of 5 hours, 29 minutes of daylight. The stories about the mind games played by the lengthening and shortening days are not exaggerated. As the sun has begun to set during the three o'clock hour, getting very dark by 5, I feel weird still being at work. As I look outside and see twilight fading to darkness, it feels like it's 8 or 9 in the evening, and I look around wondering why I'm still at work, and why all these other people are still at work walking around and talking to each other like there's nothing wrong.

Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 at 08:30AM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | CommentsPost a Comment

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