We piled into the car yesterday morning and the heat wouldn’t start. Drew called work and told them he’d be a little late and we drove to the car rental place. Halfway there, our seat warmers kicked in. The bottom half of my body appreciated this, the top half (particularly my hands, which were clutching the iPhone that was navigating us to said car rental place) were not amused. Poor Lukas, who had no seat warmer, endured the ten-minute drive by falling asleep.
It was -21 degrees.
Drew, Viktorija, and Lukai...welcome to Alaska!
Yesterday morning we quickly learned that when the temperature regularly takes nosedives into the negative double digits, driving around with no heat in the car is a downright painful experience. The car rental place switched out our small Jeep for a tank (otherwise known as a Ford Expedition) and the day got back on track, with Drew getting dropped off at the hospital and Lukas and I heading home for breakfast. It was an interesting start to the day, to say the least.
Our bright, mustard-y yellow Alaskan license plate says “Alaska, the final frontier.” As corny as that sounds, it feels very true. This town is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The majority of the streets are inches thick with snow. It’s hard to tell what’s a turning lane, what’s a normal lane, and hey, can you see where the entrance ramp is for that highway? The car needs to be plugged in two hours before it’s driven, otherwise you’ll need to kiss your outing goodbye. Anything above zero degrees feels (surprisingly) fine. A long sleeved tee and my heavy winter jacket are all I need. But when we reach -20 degrees, it’s time to start layering. I pull on a second pair of socks, a fleece jacket is sandwiched in between my tee and the winter jacket, and I consider throwing on a scarf. I’ve quickly realized that leggings are preferable to jeans. I’ve been wearing a pair of fleece-lined leggings underneath a normal pair of black leggings. Two to five seconds after stepping outside, my nose hairs freeze. It’s the oddest sensation. I wish I could ask Lukas what he thinks of it.
He’s bundled in a bright blue down snowsuit, his hands and feet snugly tucked inside pockets that flip over to keep fingers and toes toasty. I think he’s still wondering how he went from balmy Ft. Myers, Florida, to freezing Fairbanks, Alaska, in the span of one week. The first day in Fairbanks I couldn’t coax a single smile from him. But on the second day (when it was 30 degrees colder), he flashed a few grins our way.
As crazy as things are here, it’s also surprised me how quickly I’ve gotten used to the lack of sunlight; the amount of outerwear we have to put on just to stick our noses outside; and the crazy driving conditions (okay...if we're being completely honest here, I'm not used to that part yet. And it's not ideal having so little daylight). We are a loooooong way from North Carolina…a fact that was driven home to me today when I realized it's about 110 degrees colder here today than in Durham.
Are we crazy or what?!