Is this snow ever going to melt!?!
It might seem weird for someone like me to live in a place like Alaska. I am very cold natured. I have a blood flow problem that makes my hands and feet abnormally cold most of the time so if I’m outside in the freezing temps for long, I am absolutely miserable! While everyone else is out snowmachining (not called snowmobiling up here), snowshoeing, and skiing, this girl is snuggled up inside by the fire under a blanket. 🙂 While I don’t get out to do much in the winter, there are some fun facts about it that get me through.
FACT: We get about 6 hours of daylight during the winter from 10AM to 3PM.
What!? That’s fun you say? Well, it’s better than Barrow (now back to it’s original name called Utqiaġvik as of last year) who has 67 days of total darkness. I’ll take that 5 hours a day…thank you! When we get a good snow cover on the ground it’s quite bright out actually, so that’s cool.
We generally get our first snow before the end of October. It’s been several years since Alaska has had a true Alaskan winter but this year it showed off for us (3rd times the charm!) and just dumped snow. We had so much snow that my husband had to dig tunnels through our yard so our daughter could go out and play. It was just as tall or taller than her, so about 3 feet high in our front yard! That’s the most snow we’ve ever seen. It was pretty cute to look out the window and see her bright little Peppa Pig hat bouncing around. 🙂
Here’s one of my favorite things about the winter here. Since it’s so dark for so long, we get to have our Christmas lights up sooner and longer! Everyone puts them up the first of November and leaves them up well into the new year. It’s almost April and both us and our neighbors still have ours on! (Did you catch that? April!) At this point I’m not sure if it’s a competition to see who will cave first and turn them off or what, because this is just getting embarrassing. That or it’s just because there is still a lot of snow built up so no one wants to get out there to put them away. Either way, I think it’s awesome. 🙂
Spring break up is finally here. Everything has been melting at a furious pace…that is until we had second winter come through yesterday. We could see the swings on our swingset and now they are back under the snow! We might even get one more snow in April but I hope everything starts melting again, and fast because we are getting anxious for summer! Let me tell you guys something, the main reason why the winter is bearable here is because the summers are……AMAZING!!!
In Summerrrrrr!!!!! This makes me think of one of my very good friend’s little girl. She is one year old and loves to sing Olaf’s Summer song from Frozen. She does it everytime she sees a snowman, so she reminds us all up here about summer quite a bit. 😉
This is a photo at the sand dunes. I think it’s pretty funny to have sand and snowy mountains in the same picture. 🙂
I would say it’s 3 months of great weather although it’s probably more like 5. Remember, I’m cold natured. Even in the summer you will see me dressed up like it’s a crisp Fall day. My Husband on the other hand LOVES it. When that beautiful sun is shining it can get into the 70’s. That doesn’t seem very hot compared to other places but when that sun is beating down on you all day it can get toasty, even in Alaska! Most houses don’t have air conditioning up here so when that sun is shining on your house all day (almost) it gets very hot upstairs.
How long is all day you ask?
FACT: For Anchorage about 4AM to 2AM.
For Utqiaġvik (Barrow) the sun doesn’t completely set for almost 82 days! This makes summer very fun and also very tiring as it’s hard to want to go to bed. The daylight makes it extremely hard to put babies to bed. In the summer they don’t want to go to bed because the sun is still up and in the winter they get up crazy early because it’s always dark and they don’t know what time it is! String lights on timers and the OK to WAKE clock have been great for letting the little ones know when it’s ok to be awake. (Not that they pay attention to them anyway, but we try)
With Summer time comes…
There is simply too much to talk about with this subject. Whatever your heart desires to do, you have it here. Exploring Glaciers and ice caves, rock climbing, bore tide surfing, wind surfing, camping, boating, flying, hiking, fishing, hunting, animal watching, tourist watching….the possibilities are endless. I’m 100% confident I am in some Asian people’s Alaska trip photos as a group of 15-20 tourists stormed the beach, saw me out in the water, and all raised up their cameras to take pictures of me in my kayak and then left in a hurry. I didn’t quite know what to think. I guess I should have just smiled and waved! It was awkwardly awesome. 🙂
Last year we camped about every weekend and I loved every minute of it. It can be stressful with little ones sometimes, but it’s all worth the hassle. Something we learned though is to reserve, reserve, reserve!!! Not only are tons of Alaskan’s itching to get out of the city and into the beautiful scenery but so are all of the tourists. So campgrounds are full! You can generally get lucky if you don’t, it just might not be the best spot.
We haven’t done a lot of hiking because of having little kids but we did hike Flattop Mountain. Let me tell you another little tidbit. When you look up Alaska hiking trails and it explains the trail as easy, what it really means is, YOUR’RE GONNA DIE! Ok ok, so I didn’t die, but I will say that I definitely didn’t think it was easy though. Maybe it’s because I was carrying a 1 year old on my front the whole way. It was easy as in there is a well groomed path for the most part and there are stairs built into the mountain because it’s one of the most popular hikes close to Anchorage. I will say this, I don’t workout, I chase toddlers. So you might find it easier than I did if you are on the more fit side of things. 🙂
FACT: Sadly, lots of people get lost, hurt, and disappear up here. If you are going to go hiking, plan for it to be harder than what you expect and for it to take longer than what it says. Be careful and take lots of supplies. Always let someone know where you are going and how long you plan to be. Also, learn what the mudflats are when the tide is out, and stay off of them. We seem to hear every year of someone getting stuck in them and sometimes it doesn’t end well.
Want to know another exciting thing that can happen to you while you hike? You can run into a cute little black bear eating dandelion fuzz. I’m just glad someone tipped us off that there was a black bear ahead. Well, let me rephrase that. I’m glad that as my Husband purposefully pursued said bear with Wife, Baby, and dog following behind him, that the dog didn’t decide to go crazy and make the cute little bear a mad, mean, defensive bear. AH! I saw my wild bear and now I’m good. I was just glad it was a black bear. I never ever want to happen upon a brown bear. They probably won’t be so cute and chill.
You also get to run into these big guys. It’s a little intimidating staring at him stare at you because you just ruined his snack. All you want him to do is go on his way so you can pass and get back to your car!
Oh, and remember me saying something about giant Mosquitoes? It’s true. They are almost as big as Crane Flies. There is a joke up here that they are the state bird. You want to know why it’s the perfect environment for them?
FACT: Alaska is part swamp/wetland and part rain forest.
Weird right?! That is something we definitely didn’t realize till we got up here. Between all of the snow and rain I can see why though. If you look up Alaska on Google Earth you can see the tons and tons of bodies of water everywhere. My husband found this out when he went flying to look for areas he could land a bush plane. So after that, he decided to get his Float Plane endorsement. 🙂
If you aren’t afraid to get into a small aircraft, you should definitely go on a flight tour. It’s truly amazing how being in the air makes everything even more beautiful. I am lucky that we get to go up together as a family to go check out a glacier or look at the mountains. Last year we went looking for moose sheds. It was cool seeing all of the moose tracks in the snow. We bought our second daughter her first headset so we are excited for summer so we can introduce Miss Piper to the world of Aviation!
If you aren’t into flying then maybe take a Glacier Cruise. Glacier Water is my favorite color. It’s beautiful. You are likely to see whales, porpoises, seals, and lots of birds.
That is just a few tidbits of information I have to share with you right now.
The last FACT is: If you have the opportunity to come to Alaska, do it. I had never seen mountains before moving up here and when I woke up in the morning and my husband took us to IHOP for breakfast, I was astounded and breathless. They are magnificent. God is so good and so is his wonderful creation! It’s something I will definitely have a hard time parting with if we ever leave.
Check out my last post Living In Alaska: A Lower 48er’s View for some insight on day to day City living.