Thursday, January 14, 2010

All Apologies!

I was reminded by one of my most faithful that I was a tad insensitive towards my southern and midwestern folks in the Lower 48.

I apologize for that, as she is correct, they are watching crops dying day after day and farmers loose millions of dollars.

My OJ costs will probably sky rocket because of this, as shipping here is always high but with this, it will soar things higher. I feel for farmers, as I grew up in a farm state and it is not an easy profession. The weather is never your friend.

I also was reminded that Floridians especially don't heat there homes, because for the most part, theres not a need too. So when it's frigidly cold, obviously that is an issue.

And when you live in one of the most warm states in the nation.. you don't always have a parka handy!

So, big apologies Floridians, southerners, most sincerely... I do not wish to offend. I see how my post was a tad brash. I completely get where I was wrong.

What I would say, not in defense, but just to throw out there..

is that sometimes it gets frustrating to feel like nobody realizes that there are 600,000 people who deal with this weather each and every winter. It gets frustrating to watch national news outlets like The Weather Channel and never be mentioned. It makes you pretty much feel like the USA is only 49 states instead of 50.

No amount of clothes, heat, car accessories will get you prepared for -40, 50 or 60.
It gets to a point when cold is flat out COLD. There is no way around that. There aren't enough parka's in the universe for that kind of cold not to penitrate.

Fairbanks is one of the most frigid parts of Alaska. I wouldn't say the coldest, but it's probably in the top 3.

Our pipes freeze, just as yours do. They burst all over the floor, flooding our homes. I have a friend who once had to stay up for two solid days just to keep moving around heaters under her sinks to be sure her pipes kept together.

We hate driving on icy roads, just as you do. We hate icy roads, snowy roads, snow butts, ice fog, the pitch black night. Winter tires here are expensive. VERY expensive. Not everyone can afford a new set of Blizzaks. Our roads do not get treated as yours do and at the same regularity. The road I take to work has been icy for a solid month. You just go slow and try to navagate through it.

Many Alaskan's home heat is generated by fuel oil. Depending where you live that can range from 3.00 to 8.00 per gallon. Sometimes more in the bush. I've been told that tanks for a semi small to medium size houses can range from 250 gallons on up. So at 3.00 per gallon, that is 750.00 to fill it up--- at minimum.

Housefires triple when it is wintertime. People can't afford fuel, so they burn wood via fireplaces and woodstoves. People sometimes don't know, or understand how to properly burn.. what to do, how to clean..etc And what happens next?

Bye Bye house.

Alot of houses are heated by electricity, which isn't cheap, trust me, I work for the electric company. Our power is not generated like the lower 48. We have to buy energy from hydroelectric plants in Anchorage, burn coal and try to generate some of our own power via a small power plant. AND of course part of the pie is that we have to burn fuel to create electricity.

And as previously discussed, fuel is high.

So a 500 power bill is not uncommon here.

Plus you have to plug in your cars, which is like having 15 refrigerators plugged into your house at once. And if you have more than one car..

You get the picture.

Groceries have to be bought at a more frequent pace. You can not "run out" of anything here that you need for staples. At -60 you can run to the store, but you aren't going to want to. And those things cost more money at the store in Alaska than say, Missouri. If you are looking for items that are "out of season".. well be prepared to lay down your first born for them. For instance, bananas. I got them this summer for about 2.50 per bundle. (is that what you call them?) I bought bananas yesterday at North Pole Safeway for 4.00 for about 5 of them.

I don't complain, because I wouldn't want to even come close to paying what people in Kotz or Barrow or Nome or Bethel pay for groceries. I have it good. And you my lower 48 have it stellar.

Vehicle gas is 3.35 per gallon in Fairbanks, Alaska right now. You burn a RIDICULOUS amount of gas living in this cold weather. I would say, since I don't have auto start, I spend probably 2 hours of my day getting bundled up, going out starting my car, unplugging or replugging, waiting 20-25 minutes for it to warm up and heading out. When it is very very cold, you have to keep your car running when you go in the store because if not, you will come out and it will not start. There isn't always places to plug your vehicle in here. That's something I didn't realize til I got here. But plugging in costs money and someone is paying for that plug, so they don't just have them out everywhere. It's just the way it goes.

All of this drains vehicle gas. 3.35 per gallon is cheap. Just 12 miles down the road in North Pole, the price jumps to 3.61. 50 miles down the road in Nenana, Alaska, it's 4.61. The bush.. 7.00 on up..

Why am I telling you this?

Well quite simply.. to just say that nobody knows exactly what is going to happen in the winter months. You just deal. You do what you have to do to survive. You help your neighbors, you help your friends and family. You learn to do things you never thought you would have to do, just to get to the next day.

Do I feel sorry for people in the midwest and the south.. Absolutely. Completely. Because they had a month of very very crappy hard core weather. Mother Nature is a cruel girl. And I hope as things start to warm up for them they can dig out and save what they can. People are resilant and always tend to find a way.

However, our crappy hard core weather will last another 4 to 5 months. We will see what happens in May-June, when we start to warm up and get ready for summer.

Maybe the Weather Channel will talk about us if we have 90 degree weather in the summer?

Probably not, since we aren't a state and all.

Happy Friday Eve!


  1. Well said, friend. People often tell me that I shouldn't complain because I have "chosen" to live here...and I'm NOT complaining. I wouldn't live here if I weren't willing to deal with ALL that you mentioned. It is a TOUGH way of life...Jeff and I have lived in a lot of places...including Houston, TX which is warm year round and out of all the places we've lived...this place is HARD. In the winter, it is all about just surviving in a harsh climate- year after year after year....People say Alaska is the wealthiest's also one of the costliest states to live in. We didn't move here to get rich..haha!
    well...I could rant and rant and rant. But I won't. I love it here....I love the hardiness of the people...there is NO place on earth like Alaska!

  2. Well to me, it sounds like an amazing place...coming from the tropical climate where I live. I would love to see it sometime..