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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It IS scary!

The weather has continued to be weird. After we finished with all of those crazy blizzards last week, things seemed to calm down a bit. For the first few days of the week this week, we had a few fresh inches of snow on the ground each morning, cloudy skies, and mild temps with little wind. Pretty much what I remembered to be standard winter weather from last year. Then yesterday we woke up to a thick layer of fog over the city and hoar frost all over the trees.
I love the way the hoar frost looks on everything. It is so cool! You can tell just how foggy it is. Those two dumpsters in the background are only a couple hundred feet away and you can barely see them. In the white space between the bush and the pole just left of center in the picture, there is actually a little playground for kids.
Check out the way the hoarfrost grew on these icicles by clicking on the picture. It looks way cool!
The day before yesterday, I had been talking to a friend on the phone when Avery got back on the snowmachine from dropping his friend off. Her and I got to talking about how scary it is that a 13 year old drives around town on a 700 pound machine capable of going over 100 miles per hour. I agreed that IT IS SCARY. It was especially scary the first few times I let him ride on his own. I made him call me as soon as he got there and before he left to come home and told him that if I didnt hear from him in 10 minutes, I would come looking for him. We still have that system in place, but it is a bit more relaxed now.

So, it is very scary to give him such a huge and potentially dangerous responsibility. BUT...i think we have taken a pretty wide array of steps to ensure that he is safe. First of all, we both always wear helmets. Second, Avery has had first aid and winter survival classes with the Boy Scouts. Third, we keep a first aid kit on the snowmachine. Fourth, Avery knows how to pull start the machine in case the electric start does not work and he knows how to change the belt in case it were to break. Fifth, he has had quite a bit of practice this year with me, with his friends, and with other responsible adults. I gave him a more freedom with the machine just a little bit at a time. Sixth, he doesnt leave the comfort of the heavily used trails around town unless he is with me.

In the afternoon the next day (yesterday), I went to run some errands and I drove the snowmachine. And just as if mother nature wanted to remind me of just how potentially dangerous riding the snowmachine is even around town, she threw a complete and total fog blanket over Bethel while I was out. On my way home from the post office, I could only see about 20 feet in front of me and everything was completely white. No way to tell where the sky started and the ground ended. The only way to get home was just to follow the trail and hope that it was going in the way you wanted. So, I got on a trail that seemed to head in the right direction, but knew that I needed to be going a bit more to the right (north) to get to my house. My heart pitterpattered a little bit knowing that there was a chance I could get lost. I didnt want to leave the comfort of the heavily used trail though, so I stuck with the trail that I was on and ended up pretty far to the west of where I wanted to be, but eventually crossed a road that I could follow back to my house. I certainly would not have wanted to have been very far from home when a fog like that rolled over. That fog ended up lasting the entire day. Not a single flight made it in or out of town that day.

But at the same time that it is scary, it is also fun, and exciting, and beautiful, and just basically a part of life here in Alaska. The snowmachine is the most widely used form of transportation around these parts in the winter. All of the kids grow up riding them and by the time they are Avery's age they have been riding them for years. Avery has had a much better year this year and having a freedom like the snowmachine has helped with that. It has helped to make him happy. It has helped him to appreciate a bit more of the unique environment in which we live. It is also very convenient. It is so nice to be able to allow Avery to run his friend home or to drive himself to the basketball games at the high school. Also, kids get their drivers permits here when they are 14. So, it will be only a matter of 9 months before Avery will be able to drive a car legally (with an adult). Now, THAT'S SCARY!

Back to the weather...

When I am at school, I can always tell if the weather is very bad by whether or not I can see town. On a normal day, the main part of town can be seen right across the tundra out of my window.

On a day when there is heavy snow or fog, all I can see out of my window is white.Today, we woke up to rain. Lots of rain and 36degree temps. Enough rain to melt quite a bit of snow and turn the streets into slush factories. We had to drive the truck for the first time in a week because there was too much water for the snowmachine. Some parts of the road were a foot deep with water. It rained and rained all day and now it has started to blow. I think spring has sprung. She sure is a finicky thing, isnt she?

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