Ready or Not

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When I woke up this morning, something wasn’t right with me – I just couldn’t put a finger on it.  I had a bit of a headache, feeling more stuffy but not sinusy.  I had a headache since about 6pm the day before.  I thought it was from the work outing we had on Friday – either from the paintball shot I took off the head, or the drinks where I showed off the paint still in my hair from that shot.  I got home about 6:30 last night and went dead to the world shortly after.  I got up around 8:00p but couldn’t talk myself into doing anything but watching TV until I could crawl into bed.

I have had the shades drawn, something I don’t normally do, because of some window cleaning happening at the apartment this week.  I was tired, grumpy, stuffy, needed coffee, and most of all hungry. I  could hear that the roads were wet, and knew I needed my rain gear if I was going for a hike; so I slipped on my rain jacket and just thought to get me breakfast first and pack my day hike bag after.

I opened the door … and this is what I saw:

Let the record show, first snowfall of the year in Anchorage City was on September 29th.

This is the point when it all made sense.  The air was thick with moisture, and the cold just added to it – and in that first snowfall of the year where the snow is heavy and meaty, you can feet it in your body.  The temperature outside is about 36° (2°C), just warm enough to keep the snow intact before hitting the ground.  But it is sticking to roofs, grasses, cars.  When I got outside at 8am, it had already put a good inch or two down, and it continued (and spottily continues) throughout the morning.  What would stop it isn’t as much that its warming up out there, but the clouds are beginning to clear.

After that first few minutes of shock — and I am not kidding, I was in shock there for a bit — I strapped up the shoes and said “alright, its no longer ‘when the snow flies’, that ‘when’ is ‘now'”.  I took care of the immediate needs right away – Breakfast at the City Diner, including the Rainer (Pronounced “Rain – Er”) the most unique breakfast I have had in years — eggs benedict with thin sliced ham instead of Canadian bacon, French Toast instead of english muffins, and a side of … wait for it … cheesy grits.  But enough of that, time to get to work.

I stopped by the neighborhood I am moving to to meet a neighbor, who happens to be the guy replacing my roof.  We talked neighborhood, but mostly the right roof for this weather.  He is getting to work this week to beat anymore snow, but will have to hope this melts off.  I also got some leads on where to get studded tires too – cause guess what, I need to get them pretty quick now too.

I stopped by an outfitter to buy a new pair of waterproof casual shoes and a new pair of waterproof hiking shoes.  I have great shoes for both – but the snow will kill both of them.  I stopped by wal-mart to buy steel tipped work boots, heavy jacket, hat, gloves — mandatory gear just to get on the plane to the North Slope starting on Monday (though I am not on schedule to head there until late October).

As I went through the work this morning, I realized that I was doing things I intended to do for weeks.  I was waiting for the weather to turn, and just because we got a little fluff today – I took the shock of the day to get these things done.  All the things that Alaskans do to prepare, I had to do too, and and to get hopping on.  Finishing up though, I was once again reminded why we put up with this, why I wanted to be here.  I turned the corner towards the east and the sun was breaking over the Chugach Mountains, and this is what I saw:

I saw that, but didn’t take that picture right away.  I wanted a good shot, but couldn’t find a parking lot that had a clear view – until I made it to the end of a Denny’s.  But stepping out of the car, I saw a guy who’s truck had broken down right in the busy road.  He was pushing it by himself towards the same parking lot I was in but barely getting it going.  As I wondered if I could hide, take the picture, and get out of there as quickly as possible it hit me — Alaskan’s take care of people in trouble, I have seen it over and over again; I am doing things all morning to do things everyone else does here.  Ready or Not, I had to do what a good Alaskan would do.  The next ten minutes, he and I got that truck safely off the street, and with a wave and thanks I could now take this picture.

Heading out this afternoon towards the Mat-Su valley to see if I can get in a hike still.  Don’t know if I will find snow or cold, but I think I am going to be ready for it.

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