Amongst the chaos and unchartered territories we are all navigating with the virus, I hope my blog post can be a temporary distraction. One thing I’d like to note, it seems Alaskans wrote the book on socially distancing and self-quarantining ourselves (cabin fever is our calling card). Thankfully, we also don’t have to travel that far to get outside and enjoy nature, because I think nature is still safe?
Bottom line, we really have thoroughly enjoyed our winter-over in Healy. I’ve said it before: you can’t let the cold hold you back from having fun, especially in Alaska.
Real conversation with a neighbor, who we bumped into while traipsing through the woods in our “back” backyard.
Neighbor:Are you collecting wood?
Us: No, we don’t have a wood stove.
Neighbor: So what are you doing out here in the cold?
Us: Just getting some exercise.
(Granted, everyone’s hearing is a little diminished with all the layers on.)
Us: Exercise. We just wanted to capitalize on the decent temps and get a little exercise.
Neighbor (after a long pause): Exercise. Wow. You don’t meet many people going outside just for exercise.
It is true the sound of squeaking snow and click-clack of snowshoes has been the soundtrack of our life these last few months. I keep telling Justin I just want to hibernate and be lazy. But with both our XC ski and snowshoe gear up here—and a backyard suited for either activity—he is raring to go nearly everyday.
We’ve been out XC skiing quite a few times, mostly on Otto Lake with our new friend, Donna. The lake is our favorite place for skiing, as long as the wind hasn’t wiped the snow layer away. We all decided that -10 was our limit. Because we are merely gliding on a flat surface, it gets cold quick!
We’ve probably done more snowshoeing this season than XC skiing. We sometimes go in our “back” backyard, and other times, we drive into Denali National Park. The road to mile 13 inside the park has been open often during the past month, and we like to go to the Mountain Vista Rest Stop parking. There is a 1-mile loop that we have both skied and snowshoed, and is sometimes packed down. But we also like to traipse around Savage River, Savage Cabin and Savage River Campground (closed for the season of course). Thanks to Interior Alaska’s deep snow this winter, and the fact that we are often breaking trail, snowshoeing has been akin to dragging an anchor across a sandy beach while sinking hip-deep occasionally. It’s been quite a workout, to say the least. We also have done the the 2-mile loop at Horseshoe Lake in the front country of the park, which was nice and packed down. I think we’ll continue to get out these next few weeks, especially since the temps have stayed above 0 for over a week now and the days feel so long.
While it’s not surprising that there’s been plenty of outdoor recreation, we’ve been pleasantly impressed at the amount of indoor recreation going on in this town of 1,000 people. There’s been the occasional Bingo night, “Tundra Tales” (the spoken word monthly event at the bar) and poker nights. Every Friday, the library hosts trivia nights at the Totem Bar (the only bar open in the winter). Justin has occasionally filled in the role of emcee (and therefore coming up with the questions, a hobby he has come to love). Justin & I have played on a few different teams (even by ourselves), and have done quite well. We walked away with 2 wins! You win a pizza, which doesn’t bode too well for our mostly dairy-free life, but we still get bragging rights!
Of course, all this has changed given the recent environment and recommendations, so nearly all our gatherings have been cancelled. Given we are a small, rural community without any medical facilities open in the winter, and all of us typically fly through Seattle when we travel, it seems prudent to be diligent.
To end, for funsies, I thought I’d post a few of Justin’s trivia questions (crime, music). Some are multiple choice, some are fill in the blank. Maybe you can play with your families while you are self-quarantined??? I’ll put the answers in the comments.
#1 – In Atlanta, GA, it is illegal to tie a giraffe to what? (A) another giraffe (B) a telephone pole (C) a parade float (D) a tree
#2 – How many U.S. presidents have been assassinated?
#3 – How much does a gold-plated grammy cost to make? (A) $1,260 (B) $3,250 (C) $6,200 (D) $9,300
#4 – What is the most profitable song of all time, bringing in an average of $5,000 in royalties each day.
#5 – This artist is the only person to be inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 3 times.