Spring Break was closing in on us. We wanted to go and do something for Spring Break and show Davin some of the state. I had my eye on Chena Springs which is up by Fairbanks. I also have a friend that lives in Fairbanks and planned on visiting with her also. I began to call and make plans and reservations. Fairbanks is considered by Alaskans an easy drive north from Anchorage. Most people from the lower 48 think it’s comparable to driving to Dallas from Houston, a four-hour drive. It is a seven hour drive on a good day! And, I had never made the drive before.
We had what was called a “faux” Spring in February. It seemed like the great meltdown, honored every year here, had begun early. It wasn’t an early Spring at all. That of course, is when I first heard the term “faux” Spring. Though we had mild, sunny days in February and had started melting, it didn’t last.
We had our plans set and were going to Fairbanks. The boys wanted to spend the first weekend of Spring Break hanging with their friends so we decided to leave on Monday of Spring Break. It was a clear, mild and warm weekend. Well, that’s warm for here. The weather forecasters can never get the weather right for some reason. Even the website, Intellicast.com can’t get it right very often. Intellicast is the web site that pilots use to plan their journeys. Everything looked good until early that Monday morning.
I got up early to pack and make the last-minute preparations to leave. As I was making coffee, I kept hearing a whistling noise. I looked out the window and couldn’t even see across the street. It was snowing outside and the wind was blowing at gale force. The snow was not coming down as usual but blowing completely side ways. It was a white out!! There was no way we were leaving for Fairbanks during this. It would be extremely dangerous at best. The boys were still sleeping, so I decided not to tell them till they woke up. No point in bringing unneeded grief on yourself!!
I really didn’t expect the blizzard to last more than a day. This was the first real blizzard since I’d been in Alaska. They weren’t that common in the Anchorage area. Since Anchorage is a bowl, it is hard for weather to clear the mountains and move in and conversely, it’s hard for the weather to move out.
Needless to say, the weather held on. I really expected to be able to get out on Tuesday. That was 24 hours after the blizzard hit. Finally, Wednesday afternoon, the blizzard let up. I opened the front door to go and check the mail and we were truly snowed in. There was a three foot wall of snow and ice in the doorway. The wind had apparently blown the snow up against our front door. I had to kick the ice wall down just to get outside. Everything was frozen in place. Tree limbs were down. The car was just about buried in snow. Though I had started it by the remote starter it hadn’t even begun to defrost the capsule of ice around it in the first ten minute cycle. I started it again. The remote starter will only let you run two cycles of ten minutes each. This is so you don’t run out of gas. If these attempts to de-ice the car didn’t yield results towards breaking out of the capsule of ice, I would have to do it by hand. This risks breaking windows in the extreme cold. The glass and mirrors become extremely brittle under these conditions.
While the car was running through its second cycle, I decided to walk down to the mail boxes. The mail station was a mound of snow and ice. If you didn’t know the mail boxes were there you would pass it by. I wondered how the mailman had delivered mail if he couldn’t open the mailboxes. The mail would have to wait.
I had some ice melt left in the house. I used this on our sidewalk when the apartment didn’t get around to shoveling our sidewalks. I put sprinkled some on the front hood of the car and let it work a few minutes. I got the snow brush and started wiping it off. The heat from the engine was working from the other side and I was able to clear off enough snow to actually see the hood of the car. The doors were still under the snow and ice so I couldn’t access the inside of the car. With extreme care I began to knock off the ice around the driver’s door. After about ten minutes of gently beating the snow and ice off I finally was able to get to the inside of the car. Now I could put the key in and keep the engine running longer than ten minutes. After about a half an hour I finally was able to drive the car.
First order of the day was to go to the grocery store and replenish what I had used while snowed in for almost three days. It had been just another storm in Alaska.