Adventure

The perils and whatnots of a snowy winter from a first-timer’s point of view

Spent my first snowy winter (December-February) in Juneau, Alaska. I’ve spent a number of winters in LA and it wasn’t as bad. I must admit, this time it wasn’t all fun, well except for the ski trips we had every weekend, and the Northern Lights, of course. But when one has spent most of his/her life in a tropical climate, avoiding the sun as much as possible for fear of getting burned, winter then gets to be pretty depressing. I was in LA in December and when I got here by the end of the month, it was snoraining (a term I probably invented to describe both the snow and the rain that fall simultaneously, otherwise known as wet snow). And it went on for a whole month, December 25-January 30 to be exact. By the end of January I was on my knees praying and crying for the Lord to give us sunshine. And He did. We had weeks of endless sunshine with occasional snowfall after that. They say that it was the warmest winter in Alaska by far. I’m glad it was, for me at least. While most of the continental US froze with record-high snowfall, we were blessed with sunshine. And the sunshine was a good thing for me. Sam did notice drastic changes in my mood that inadvertently coincided with the weather. As if RA flares, a shoulder injury and then surgery, plus no job, don’t at all affect my mood. So, aside from my weather-coinciding depression (which is not a peril at all), here’s what I found out about the perils and such whatnots of winter (in Juneau):

  1. It gets dark. Having large windows and more lamps at home would help. Oh, and don’t forget the Vitamin D supplements. Although I’ve heard about Vitamin D deficiency being linked to clinical depression, I’ve learned that it’s still inconclusive. I’d like to research on that too someday.
  2. Layer. The first time we learned how to layer clothes in winter was when we went to Beijing, and it wasn’t really effective because we didn’t consider the kind of material our clothes were made of. Technology has allowed manufacturers to create warmer and lighter layers so we don’t have to carry all that bulkiness with us, especially when skiing.
  3. The skin gets really, really, really dry. So apply moisturizing lotion as often as possible. I learned this the hard way. I neglected my skin, especially my face, and my face broke out really bad. I’m still trying to resuscitate it at this moment.
  4. Waterproof boots. This is a staple in every Alaskan’s wardrobe, especially if you live in Juneau. Believe me, walking in cold wet shoes is no fun at all.
  5. Shoveling. Sam lived in a farm most of his life so he’s been used to shoveling dirt, stone, gravel and sand. Shoveling snow is no different, wet snow and ice that is. Well if you shovel freshly fallen snow then it could be easier.
  6. Studded snow tires. We didn’t have to change our car’s tires since they were already all-season and we were told that Subaru’s build and tires usually do great in the winter. They really are great, well, except for that one time when we were driving through an inclined parking lot that was frozen and very slippery and Sam mistakenly hit the brakes, and the car slid sideways, all the way to the left.

I don’t recall everything for now so I’ll just add up to that list in the next few days.

So it’s officially spring, and it’s been warmer and more sunny, which is good. I would definitely try to avoid spending next winter here in Alaska again. Keyword is “try.” Of course I still don’t know if my husband would be ok with that, and even if he would be, I don’t know if I could stay away from him that long.

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We went snowshoeing, and my boots got wet. This was at Mendenhall Lake, which was frozen, so we could actually cross over to the glacier, but we didn’t. I’m the one in pink (of course). And the one in blue is Michelle.
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See, even the Northern Lights get depressed in winter, especially when the clouds cover them. Photo by Sam.
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