Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Confusing Weather

This week has seen record high temperatures in my little arctic village. Today it was a high of 34 degrees! It is amazing how quickly my body has adapted to the arctic temperatures. Today I went outside without a jacket because it was just too uncomfortable to wear one! The warm temperatures bring some concerns of a blizzard moving in. The winds have been really high. I got blown across the frozen, icy snow yesterday as I left my building. It was actually a funny moment in time, especially since I didn't actually fall. Just got scooted several feet. This morning I noticed that just a wee bit of increase in temperatures can cause some serious melting of the snow piles out here! The snow here is not normally a slick, icy kind of snow. When the temperatures begin to rise, the snow begins to melt and it becomes slushy and very slick in spots. The thing that surprises me the most is that it is actually RAINING today. It is still so cold that ice is forming as soon as the rain hits the snow, but it is RAINING, not snowing.
The roads have almost cleared in the past 2 days. I think they are chip seal, but not sure. I haven't seen any other color than white on the roads since I got here. I actually saw the yellow stripe in front of a few of our stop signs. It is amazing what just a little bit of warm weather has done! The wind has still been frigid though!
The sun continues to enthrall me. There are days that it makes it over the horizon and other days that it just doesn't. It seems that it "rises" and "sets" almost in the same area still but just a bit farther down the horizon. We are getting about 6 extra minutes of daylight everyday, or so they tell me. Now it is beginning to get light outside around 1030am or so and it gets dark around 530pm. My job allows me to fly fairly frequently into the surrounding villages. I carry my sunglasses with me now because once you move a little either North or South, the sun can come blazing into the plane even if it hasn't made it over the horizon in my little village.
One delightful thing about the suns' continuing confusing travel is that sunrises and sunsets are really long.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Village Trips

Being so new to this area, I have been a little hesitant to actually make up mind about my village. It has snow covering everything, naturally this time of year, so therefore it is a pretty little village. It has also been dark much of the time, so kind of hard to tell for sure. However, being from the mountain I miss the trees surrounding me. There are almost no tree's around me here, but there are some beautiful mountain ranges within easy reach and I assume they must be covered in beautiful evergreens! This will be proven in the next few months. I managed to make it up to one of the neighboring villages today. It was truly beautiful! It was just the outskirts of the village, but it still made me think of all those postcards that you see showing Alaska scenery. Snow covered evergreens surrounded the entire area, a breath-taking frozen river cut across our path and the sun was doing its best to display an awe inspiring sunrise, by the way it was around noon. I realize that each village around me will be splendid in its own way. My little village is on the coast and therefore will be full of wildlife from mountains and sea. My co-workers tell me that from the windows of our building we can watch the seals and whales in the spring. I will be keeping you updated on that one!! I am sad that I did not remember my camera this time, but this is not the last time I will be there. For my job requirements, this will be a common destination for me. Today I was luck enough to have a few of my expectations come true. Well, here is a picture that I got outside the window at the Anchorage Airport a few days ago.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sunrise and Shopping, both can be confusing

Today has been really informative. I had previously thought that I could not see the sun due to cloud cover. I was wrong. I have learned that the sun was previously just kind of hanging out below the horizon. This morning around 10am I noticed that the sunrise was lasting a very long time. It was pretty, but kind of subdued.It is a beautifully clear day. I was starting to wonder when the sun was actually going to come up when my new friend here advised me that it might not actually make it up today. The sun is moving around in a pattern that does not resemble anything I have ever seen. Much to my delight the sun did come up and has continued its horizontal type orbit. I don't really know what to expect today but it doesn't really seem to be going down yet and it is about 3pm now.
I went to the grocery store today. Shocking and not so bad at the same time! I noticed that anything that has any weight, like canned foods, are really about 3 times what I am use to paying for it. The produce looks ok, but the variety is very limited. Nothing organic! Kind of spoiled by my previous state. The milk is just expensive. Meat, and the other dairy seems pretty reasonable. I spent about $70 on a few bags of groceries that I would normally have spent around $20.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

First Day

I have come to the wonderful state of Alaska to start an adventure, oh yeah and a new job. When I knew that I was going to be moving to a small town in the arctic circle, I did oodles of research. After discovering as much as I could about the area, I felt ready for anything that might present itself once I finally got here.
Due to one thing or another, it took me 4 tries and almost 2 weeks to get to my final destination. I flew in on a night flight so really had no chance to see my town as I came in. I did find it a wee bit unusual that the pilot circled 2 times and proceeded to increase his speed as we descended onto the airfield, but what do I know, I am not a pilot.
I had the fortune of being met by my supervisor and his wife. Not real hard to find people in this airport. It is basically the size of a Subway Sandwich Shop. I was the new kid on the block so people automatically knew who I was with. As they showed me around the town, I realized that some of my research was a bit off. It is mid January and I expected the temperatures to be, well frankly a lot colder. I found the wind cold, but not unbearable. My home state is currently sitting at negative temperatures and here in Alaska it is actually not terrible! All of my cold weather gear from home was TOO WARM. Every place you walk into has the thermostat set at like 80 degrees! Sure its cold outside, but heat stroke can be a problem if I am not careful!
I had done some research about transportation and knew that ATV's and snow mobiles were very useful here but due to maintenance cost, their use was supposed to be limited. Everywhere I looked, kids and teenagers were zipping around on snow mobiles up and down streets. I did not get the impression that their use was limited at all!
As far as shopping goes, I knew there was a grocery store but was not prepared to enter it yet. Scared of the prices. However, I found a 24 hour "convience" store not far from my apartment. Nope still haven't been there yet either. Seems most people will make the effort to buy things via Internet and so on for their basics. Watching the grocery store traffic, I am surprised at how busy it is considering all my "research."
Oh, and the whole "days and days of night" nonsense....I knew that it was not quite true, but still wasn't sure what it would be like. Apparently in December there are 20 days of night 24 hours a day. Well, now it is like an early dusk around 10am and then seems to be a heavy cloud covered daylight around 2pm. Gradually the sun leaves again and it is night around 5ish, give or take. They tell me that we are getting 6-7 more minutes of daylight every day.
Tomorrow is a city holiday. I hope the grocery store is open because I think I am going to try going over. I will continue to inform as things advance. I must say, I really like the town so far. Haven't met a lot of people yet, but it seems small town friendly.