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..

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Location: United States

Saturday, November 05, 2005

"No, I said it was cold, as in, 'Oh, my left arm has snapped off like an icicle and shattered on the floor'!" - Londo, Babylon 5

Is it proof of bigfoot? Of Fairbanks Man? Or, just proof that The Mrs. and I were out barefoot at -17F?

It’s finally starting to get a bit chilly outside.

We began our plunge below zero on Sunday, but since then we’ve managed to hit even colder temperatures. For instance, The Mrs. and I went hot tubbing the other night at –17F.

Hot tubbing in –17F is, like many things Fairbanks, different. First, there’s getting in to the tub. The Mrs. and I popped the top and jumped on in. We didn’t linger in the fifteen or so feet between the doorway to the cabin and the tub, but, you can’t sprint on ice, so we gingerly made our way to the tub. Quickly.

The hot tub cover is made of a plastic/woven fabric material that’s fairly floppy. Looks like a similar material to the vinyl seats in an old GMC pickup. At –17F, the stuff is no longer floppy, and the ice makes cracking noises as you flip the lid up.

The Mrs., in her wisdom, has noted that there is one way to make a 62F house hot in a hurry. Go spend five minutes outside at below zero temperatures. When you come back in, 62F is balmy. That’s an easy way to quickly heat a house.

The hot tub is no different. Getting into a 100F hot tub when you’re surrounded by –17F air is a good way to feel warm in a hurry.

The Mrs. took a soda to the tub, I went without a beverage. Normally, I’d take iced tea. The last time I’d taken iced tea into the tub in similar weather, it was just ice in a matter of minutes. Besides, you don’t really have to worry so much about overheating when your head is dumping so much heat to the environment. In fact, from time to time I’ll put my entire head under the water to warm up the bits on my face that are starting to assume ambient (frozen) temperature.

The downside of this strategy is that you soon have wet hair. Unless you’re a freakish mutant in the X-Men who has the power to self heat your own hair with brainwaves, soon your head will be swathed in a protective covering of frozen hair as rock-hard and concrete-like as Pamela Anderson’s implants. Not as bad as it sounds. I mean the hair, not the implants. I imagine the implants are just freaky. Plus there’s the hepatitis. Anyway, football was invented in Fairbanks because, well, everyone already had an ice-helmet, so, why not. Another notable invention from Alaska was the water-powered car. No gasoline, no emissions, and 20 miles per gallon of water. We abandoned that invention when all of our fuel kept freezing. Now we use gasoline, and as a bonus, we still get to sell you oil.

The best thing about the hot tub in winter in Alaska is the sky. It’s beautiful. Given the darkness, given where we are at the top of the world, whenever we’re in the tub on a clear night we either see the Aurora, shooting stars (not the Christian Slater with a gun kind, but the meteorite kind), or satellites. Tonight, it was shooting stars – three of them.

The other great feature of night skies in Alaska is our flag. It’s there when you look north. This picture should explain.

Not only is our state bigger than yours, it’s got a better flag. Plus, ours was designed by a 13 year old. Yours was designed by a bunch of old guys wearing wigs.

When it was finally time to get out of the tub, we walked to the door, steam rising from our bodies like it was attempting to escape from a PETA meeting wearing a fur coat. As a polite husband, I let The Mrs. walk in first, after opening the door for her. The doorknob, at –17F, acquired an instant affinity for my wet hand. My hand froze, briefly, to the door knob.

So, in the spirit of all things stupid, after getting my wet feet on our carpet, I reached out to close the storm door. You know, the one with the metal handle? My hand really stuck this time, and I had a vision of being stuck to the storm door all winter long, like if they’d left that kid with his tongue stuck to the flagpole in A Christmas Story all winter long. In Alaska.


Blogger michaelm said...

Interesting blog.
I'll be back.
I have you blogmarked!


5:25 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Our flag has a bear. We probably took the bear from you. Ransom is three gazillion barrels of oil.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know... we Arizonians have a pretty damn cool looking flag!

6:41 PM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...

our flag has a crescent moon. Kinda goes with your flag. People here are extremely proud. Most cars have a sticker of the flag in the back windshield.

I also want to know how this story ends. How did you unstuck yourself? Just waited until you warmed up, or are you still holding that door?

8:43 PM  
Blogger Garry Nixon said...

Puts me in mind of those Japanese monkeys in the hot springs. Sounds like a hoot.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Jill Homer said...

I still think it looks a little like a six-year-old's bed sheet. But then again, Alaska's flag beats Utah's
- jill

12:01 PM  
Blogger John said...


Keep the stinky old bear. We've got millions more, like we have millions more barrels of oil. Mmmm, money.

But, you also have McCain . . .

Yeah, that's a nice one, too.

Oh, the unstuck part? I did a McGuyver with my Swiss Army knife and removed the handle. Still stuck on my hand though. Good thing I'm ambidexterous . . .

monkey=recipie for fun. Hence the barrel of them we keep in the basement.

well, yeah. The Boy loves the flag. But, I guess there's that six-year old in me, too.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Wildefrost said...

A BIT cold.... -17f??? Holy cow!

3:37 PM  
Blogger John said...

Yeah. Still gonna get another 40 degrees colder than -17F . . .

5:36 PM  
Blogger Lady Luck said...

Okay, I am all for hot tubs in the winter, but I am not all for -17F! That is insane!

*Insert chill bumps from thought!*

11:00 AM  
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11:17 AM  

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