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Archive for January, 2011

An Alaska Adventure . . . Baby, it’s cold outside!

There are many great things about how I make my living!  One of the best things is that I get to spend time with my “peeps” (as Ellen Degeneres would call them).  Other fiber folks understand the excitement that a great fabric or yarn can insight. Plus, when I travel to other places, I get to have unique experiences I wouldn’t have in my own backyard.  Another thing, I get to learn new things . . . whether or not I want to.  Last week I headed off to Alaska to teach a workshop . . . and to this native of the Pacific Northwest . . . Baby, it was bloody cold outside!

I went up a couple of days early to spend some time with my brother, Mike, who lives in Wasilla . . . Yes, the very same town as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.  The weather was in the teens and low 20’s, but the wind was howling outside and with the wind chill it was nearly unbearable to stay outside for more than a few minutes.  The wind was coming off of the glaciers and bringing “glacier grit” with it.  I never knew there was such a thing as “glacier grit”.  It’s pretty nasty stuff . . . kind of like big sand.  I learned an important lesson . . . when you’re outside and the wind is blowing glacier grit around, keep your mouth shut!  On more than one occasion, I exfoliated by mouth.  Yuck!  Fortunately, my brother lives on a lake (frozen this time of year) and there was a beautiful view I could enjoy while staying snug and warm inside.  There wasn’t much snow on the ground because the wind blows it away . . . I’m just not sure where it goes.  Probably with the socks that disappear while doing laundry.

After a few days with my brother, I headed to Eagle River to where my host, Clydene, resides and with whom I would be staying while I taught a three-day workshop for the Anchorage Weavers and Spinners Guild.  On our way to the workshop on the first day, you know it’s cold when the person you’re staying with says We’re up to minus-6 degrees.  Negative temperatures are not something I’m use to.  On the second day, there were three of us in the car and it was colder . . . minus-15 degrees!  To prove it, I’ve provided a picture of the dashboard readout below (upper right hand corner).  As odd as it may sound, it was more comfortable at 15 degrees below zero than 20 degrees above zero with 50-knot winds blowing off of a glacier.  There also wasn’t the pesky problem of glacier grit.

The workshop was great . . . I even stepped outside a few times to take in the sun . . . and learned another lesson . . . When it’s 10 degrees below zero, don’t go outside and suck in a deep breath of air.  My lungs confirmed quickly it was cold outside.

After the workshop ended, I was sorry to leave such a magnificent place.  I’ve been to Alaska before, but never in the winter.  Yes, it was cold . . . but, even the people that lived there said it was cold and it made me feel better!  To conclude my trip, at the airport in Anchorage, I found myself laughing after I passed through their TSA security screening (rarely do I find myself laughing after I pass through TSA security) . . . I found myself looking upon a rather assertive polar bear (stuffed, of course).  Perhaps this is why Alaska remains so safe.  After all, you can see Russia from Alaska.  Right?

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