Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

My Photo
Location: United States

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

"I'll give you a winter prediction: It's gonna be cold, grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life."- Bill Murray, Groundhog Day

Above is the Denali Highway. Well, actually, above is the Denali Highway as it looks from above. Soon, the Denali Highway will be closed, not because of environmentalists, but because the environment - they don't maintain this highway in winter. You can drive on it, but, good luck. The 20' of ice and snow might be a slight deterrent. You can click on it for larger goodness.

There are a few interesting terms in Alaska - one of them is the name of the first snowfall - Termination Dust, some call it.

Why Termination Dust? Perhaps it's because it was on the first snowfall in 1971 that a robot from the future, looking just like a California Governor (Jerry Brown) came to Alaska to search for Adam Sandler so he could kill him to keep the remake of "The Longest Yard" from being made.

Nah. Termination Dust is just when construction folks get fired, since you aren't going to pour much concrete when it's -40F. It gets hard, but that's from the freezing. Another reason why car dates don't lead to too many teenage pregnancies in mid-January, you know, the hard parts freezing.

What else happens in Alaska when winter hits?

We don't use salt on the roads to kill the ice. Why, might you ask? We can't. Salt on a road really depresses the melting point of Ice. It makes Ice sit around the house watching Oprah and eating frosting straight from the plastic tub wishing it could get a date. Very depressing for Ice, but, salt only gets you so far. And, Fairbanks Ice needs a lot more depressing than that to turn from Ice to water. It gets cold here.

So, in the war for some sort of road traction, we spread gravel about willy-nilly like the Kennedy family spreads indictments money around on Spring Break. Gravel is nice - it is pointy, whereas the ice is smooth. Pointy parts hold on to tires - smooth parts don't. All of this thought and care is nice when your car begins to spin toward a batch of trees that had the gall to grow right where the tyranny of inertia combined with the lack of friction would like your car to go. Short answer - gravel combined with snow and ice forms our road surface for six months of the year.

While we're on cars, winterizing your car means something here beyond your mechanic wanting to make an extra buck. All of the cars up here have (at minimum) car engine block heaters. This prevents your oil from being as thick as a Tom Clancy book.

Some cars have pads that heat the batteries. Some have heaters for transmissions. Many have auto-starts, which allow you to sit around driking coffee while your car gets toasty warm. The result of all of these electrical devices is every car has a dangly extension cord hanging off the front - summer or winter. Most public places have plug-ins for the dangly bits from your car. If you have dangly bits, you know how important it is for you have a place to insert them.

Many cars are left running when folks go shopping. Not good for gas mileage, but good for when it's -55F and you don't want to freeze your hiney off. And I like my hiney.

Also, it has to be the zenith of suck when you can't get your car started.

And you're attempting to start it.

At -60F.

Ugh. That's got to be as frustrating as attempting to teach Eminem to read.

Enough (for now) on cars. Most new parents swaddle their newborns in enough blankets to choke a horse when it's 50F above. Here, my five year old wanders around outside in a t-shirt and jeans (for an extended bit) at 20F without complaint. We do start to swaddle the infant, but only at about 30F. Gotta toughen The New Boy up sometime. It's gonna get 80 degrees colder than 30F.

I'll give some more change-of-season information next time. For now, I've got to go and frolic in the relatively balmy 20F before it gets a bit nippy out.


Blogger Coldfoot said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Coldfoot said...

I got one of those automatic seat warmers for the really cold days.

I call it Rover and I picked it up at the pound. I have to let it out a couple times a day, which isn't much of a problem. Darn thing fogs up the inside of the windshield, though.

I'll take the trade off.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Lady Luck said...

Wow! It is 62 degrees here and people are saying it is going to be chilly today! LOL!

7:50 AM  
Blogger Carl Oberg said...

I am really looking forward to following a winter in Fairbanks through you, John. This might be the deciding factor: should I move to Alaska or not.

11:35 AM  
Blogger GoGo said...

Speaking of being depressed.

I have to go to the dentist.
I hate it.Every time i go there my tongue gets depressed.

Get it!!!

Get it!!!

1:10 PM  
Blogger Garry Nixon said...

What that Carl said, though I probably won't move to Alaska, because of the immigration difficulties, being British and having eaten beef in the last 25 years.

And I'm trying to learn Fahrenheit, having been educated in Centigrade, so your weather reports are educational.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...

Alaska was sounding like a great place until this post. Keep it going, I'm interested in reading more about survival techniques in Alaska.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Hilarious post, although I don't think it was written by the Mrs. Too much talk about hard parts and dangly bits. Guy things...

9:21 PM  
Blogger Garry Nixon said...

And this word 'hiney'. I understand from the context what it means of course, but I've only encountered the word twice: here, and in a Frank Zappa song (Bobby Brown Goes Down).

It's a good word. What's the etymology,d'you reckon?

1:38 PM  
Blogger the Witch said...

"If you have dangly bits, you know how important it is for you have a place to insert them."

Could this BE any funnier?

Me thinks not.

John - this is priceless.

4:22 PM  
Blogger John said...

Yeah, it may be automatic, but if it's anything like mine, it costs more than building a garage . . .

lady luck,
Yeah, 62 is lukewarm. For water. But it's downright frigid for coffee. Here, when you've been outside dinking around at 15F or 20F for two hours, and you come into a 62F house, it's like a friggin' sauna!

It's like Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network - not for everyone. But if you like it, man, you like it.

The Mrs. took The Boy to the dentist this week. Now he's about the brush the enamal off of his choppers. He's like a tooth-Nazi, all elated and such.

We do recognize our colonial forefathers up here. I mean, of course, the United States. England is like our Grandpa. We would love to have you, though.

My theory on the metric system remains that it's a plot to soften us all up for communist rule. Despite the fall of the Eastern Bloc, I'm stickin' to that one.

Mmmm, beef.

duck hunter,
Yeah, there will be more about that. Weather right now is okay, but in a while it gets serious. Not for the weak at heart.

The Mrs. is very good with dangly bits.

Heh! I have that on CD. Great song. The only (free) entry on hiney suggested that it's American slang. I'm betting that some guy named "Heinz" is still blushing.

Thank you. It might become funnier, but I'll have to drink more.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was stationed at Ft. Richardson, I bought a 1968 GMC 4x4 from the Alyeska Pipeline Co. This was 1972. It had an electric dipstick heater and an electric water pump. Battery pads might have been around, I just don't remember them. I do remember countless times I had to give people a jumpstart when I lived off-post. That, and the "frozen-foam" bench seat, and the 8-track player that made Loretta Lynn sound like she'd been taking testosterone shots.

3:03 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Silktide SiteScore for this website
Blog Flux Directory Blogarama Free Web Counters
Web Counter
Search Popdex:
Humor Blog Top Sites Top100 Bloggers
Top100 uscity.net directory