The week of Thanksgiving came. We were anticipating the holidays and dreading the grocery shopping that would have to be done. My son was doing everything he could to persuade me to let him out of school for the whole week. The schools only had Thanksgiving Day and the next day, Friday off. I was determined he would go to school as I didn’t need him underfoot. We got up Monday morning at 6 a.m. as usual and went about getting ready for our day. At 6:45 a.m. I opened the blinds to remote start the car and saw that it was raining ice. It wasn’t sleet, it was ice! And it was big chunks coming down too. This didn’t look good at all. I knew that driving in the ice was the trickiest of conditions.
When the car had warmed up for ten minutes I went outside to wait for my son. I could barely get to the car without falling. The ice was thick. I couldn’t even get the car door open. It was completely encapsulated in it. As the heat in the car continued to work its magic I went back inside and retrieved an ice scraper. I had to hold on to the hood of the car while scraping since every attempt to scrape forward sent my feet sliding backwards. I felt a twinge of fear creep into me as I thought about the drive to school. As I was finishing up the scraping my son came out and slid to the car, complaining the whole way about the stupidity of going to school. Now and then, as a parent, once we have laid down the law we are called upon to stand our ground even if it’s tinged with stupidity. I was silently agreeing with my son and yet he had already missed enough school. So I stood there in the raining ice with my pride intact and reaffirmed he would be attending school.
We pulled out onto the main street only to slide into position behind all the other cars. Our top speed was 10 miles per hour. In Anchorage there are many hills. Having to come to a complete stop on one of these hills would mean I wouldn’t be able to get going again. I carefully picked my way through traffic and hills. The traffic was completely snarled and the car pool line at my son’s school was backed up onto the street. Hopefully, everyone behind me would be able to come to a stop and not cause a huge pile up. After what seemed like an eternity we made it to the front of the school. I began the long and dangerous trip back home.
I arrived back home 50 minutes after I had set out. Normally, it took 20 minutes round trip to drop my son at school. Along the way I had seen cars spinning out of control, plowing into other cars and careening into the side ditches. This was insanity!! I had already told my son he might have to ride the bus home since it would be safer for him and for me. He didn’t like this at all. Within minutes of arriving home my son sent me a text telling me to come and pick him up. He said only 30% of the students had come to school and many teachers had not made it. I had no intention of getting back out and going to pick him up. I was hoping the ice would let up, the gravel and sand trucks would treat the roads and I could get back up there by school’s end to pick him up.
I turned on the news and watched as the weather man talked about this ice storm that was history making. Almost the entire state was affected. They didn’t expect the ice to let up until Wednesday at the earliest. This was not good at all. Alaska has many weather events that keep us indoors but this one was a first for me and many, many Alaskans. Ice this late in the year is unheard of.
I was unable to get back to the school to pick my son up. He had to walk to a friend’s house and stay there. We were being warned to stay off the roads unless it was an emergency. Though I would miss my son I knew it was better that he also stay put. As all teenagers, he was going to enjoy this emergency.
The superintendent of the Anchorage schools was on TV. She regretted not closing the schools and said that schools would be closed on Tuesday. As the weather man predicted the ice continued raining down. The daytime temperatures would get high enough for the ice to melt, over taxing the drainage system. When night came again the run-off would refreeze, plugging drains and causing yet another problem. Tuesday morning our chimney was covered in ice. We had a smoky start to our morning fire.
Once the temperatures rose above freezing on Tuesday I went and picked up my son and his friend and brought them to our house. There would be no school on Wednesday as well. Nothing like three days stuck indoors. Everyone was getting cabin fever but there was nothing to be done. I had decided to wait on grocery shopping for Thanksgiving. We would make do with what we had. It is always a good idea to stay stocked up on groceries in Alaska as you never know what can happen. Fortunately the things I needed from the store could be obtained from the greedy mart around the corner.
Thanksgiving Day dawned and I awakened to a massive down pour of snow. This was a much welcomed change. You can drive in the snow but only slide on the ice. It snowed literally all day on Thanksgiving and turned our massive mess into a winter wonderland. Not many complained about the snow. Instead, we went for a walk and gave thanks for the much appreciated snow!! Only in Alaska!!