‘Tis the Season for a Snowpocalypse

Much has changed since my last post way back in September. Fall was short lived, and I bade farewell to all the summertime lushness. Around mid-October we got our first snowfall and winter was on! It took a while to really gather steam, however. There were 2 or 3 mild snowstorms that left a few inches on the ground through October and November. The main problem for a while was when the temps hovered around freezing for a few days (30 degrees feels balmy to me now by the way) and there was a bit of snowmelt during the daylight hours. After dark it refroze and turned the entire city into one giant ice rink. I seriously didn’t know how cars could handle being on the road. I could barely cross the road on foot without busting my ass! It wasn’t too big of a deal though, I managed to adapt to getting around town in what are conditions I’ve never had to deal with before.

I chuckle every time I see this on my walk to the bus stop in the mornings. It’s the only cactus you’ll see outside up here!
I was all good with my cold weather ensemble by the time of the first snow. I really appreciate my new Eddie Bauer parka, it was 250 dollars well spent.

Then December arrived. Right off the bat we got a foot of snow. The town pretty much shut down for a day as everyone had to dig themselves out. Over half of the people at my job had to miss work for a day or two as the underfunded city snowplow crews struggled to get the streets taken care of. It took folks a while to dig out their driveways, not to mention the snowplows took a while to reach all the neighborhood streets. A couple of days after the big dump, I hopped on a plane to go back to Santa Cruz to grab some things and see my tribe down there. I was worried that the snowfall would mess with my departure, but the airport never missed a beat and I was able to get out without any problem.

I had to take a picture of this massive 20 ft snowpile out on the tarmac at Anchorage International. The amount of work needed to keep the runways clear during winter storms must be massive.

I only spent a weekend down there, where I had the great timing to experience the biggest storm of the year so far. I got stranded up at Jacob’s place an extra night due to the storm felling trees up on Shelby Mountain in Last Chance. The Beast is parked on his property, so I stayed in my truck that night without any of my cold weather gear and it was incredibly miserable. I could have stayed in his trailer, but I missed my Beast and hard-headedly insisted on staying in my camper. We all got beat up by the conditions, but I still managed to grab the things I needed to grab and see all my friends. Overall, the trip was a great success.

Scenes from around town after the first deluge. I thought this was a big deal at the time.
The ocean seems to be halfway frozen out around Fire Island right off the coast from the airport. There are some nice sized ice floes forming there.

I knew that it had snowed while I was gone, but I didn’t think much of it. Upon landing here in Anchorage, I was amazed by how much more snow had fallen in the 3 days since I had left. The snow on the ground had doubled at least! I had a hell of a time getting out of the airport as the buses weren’t running, and cabs and rideshare options were few and far between. After a couple hours of waiting I finally managed to get a 50 dollar Uber to take me the 5 miles back to where I am staying. On the way back it seemed like utter chaos had consumed the city. Cars were stuck everywhere and everyone seemed to be walking around with snow shovels attempting to dig themselves and every one else out. Turns out that Anchorage hadn’t experienced so much snow at once in 25 years. Around 3 feet of snow had fallen in a week! People were having a real rough time dealing with it. The main roads had been somewhat plowed, but the side streets and sidewalks were still waist deep.

Thankfully they finally got around to plowing a hole in the berm at my bus stop. I feel sorry for the old people and infirm who have to wade through this stuff to get on and off the bus.

I had to go back to work the next day. To get to my bus stop, I had to walk down the middle of the street. The snow berms thrown up by the plow were nearly head high, which made getting on and off the bus quite the adventure. After a couple of days back, I wound up getting really sick and had to miss two days of work. The first day I missed, we got hit with yet another storm, and we got another foot of snowfall! It was brutal, even the buses couldn’t run. It was a good day to be sick I guess, since I couldn’t have made it in anyway.

For a couple days I barely left my room, I was sick as a dog. I had the chills and sweats really bad, not sure if it was COVID or just another run-of-the-mill flu. I really wanted to get out and see what the world looked like under all this new snowfall, but I was too ill to be out there traipsing through it. By the weekend, my condition had improved to the point where I decided to take a walk down to the Coastal Trail and see how things were down there. It was astonishing at how different everything looked. The sidewalks had been cleared somewhat, but walking down them was like walking through a tunnel! The snow had built up on the sides of the road where it was only a car width wide in places.

The view from the front of the condo. This is around one in the afternoon, the sun barely peeks above the horizon these days. The lighting is actually really nice this time of year for photography, it’s like the Golden Hour all the time.

The sidewalks were clear at the beginning, but as I made my way down the hill, it turned into a foot trail. Wading through the snow was tough in my weakened condition, but I really wanted to see what it looked like further along towards the coast. It was really cold as well, with temperatures in the single digits. As I made my way along, I started getting passed up by people on skis. That is definitely the way to go when you’ve got substantial snow on the ground!

Going down the ‘ol snow tunnel sidewalk.

The big lagoon at the bottom of the hill has long been frozen solid. I’ve been having fun walking out around on it, it’s a novelty to me to be able to walk around on a frozen body of water. The snow was too deep to be walking around out on it that day though. I did see work crews with heavy machinery trying to clear the snow in certain spots. I think that they want to have clear patches for ice skating and hockey games, they had a lot of snow to clear first in the meantime! I lingered down by the lagoon for a bit, but as I was still pretty week I decided to head back. It did me a lot of good to get out and about though, and it was a great day to get some snow photos.

Not too long ago you would see ducks and geese frolicking here at Westchester Lagoon. It’ll be a while before they can do that again!
A world of blue and white down on the Coastal Trail.

Besides all the snow madness, things have been going all right. I’ve been working for Great Northern Cannabis Manufacturing since September. It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I just go in, get my assignment for the day and package candy until quitting time. I can get super stoned and listen to podcasts all day. My co-workers are awesome and there is zero stress. I get paid time off and actually got a Christmas bonus for the first time in my working career, so that was pretty cool. I get 30% off all items at our retail store, which really helps me financially.

What we are known for is that all our products contain a ratio of 1:1 THC to CBD. Having the CBD in there rounds out the high nicely. It also not only takes away most of the anxiety I usually get when eating edibles, but really helps with the pain management aspect. I get bad back pains hunched over tables all day, so a gummy or two really helps to take the edge off of that. The management is great, they are always kicking down 50 dollar off coupons and samples of our products for quality control. For the time being, I mostly package and label our gummies and chocolates. Soon I’ll be trained on actually making the products, which I am looking forward to. It’s amazing to actually not dread having to go to work every day, that’s really been a rarity in my life. Being treated decently by my employer is something I really appreciate as well.

Man, I wish all of these were part of my personal stash!

The only thing that is a major drawback is that I only make 17 bucks an hour. Even at full time, I can’t live on that in Anchorage. My personal bills and food costs alone run me around 1200 dollars a month. There’s no way I can afford my own place and to maintain a truck with what is left over from that, so I’m going to have to find something that pays more here before too long. I just found out the other day Ingrid wants me to leave by February, so that adds the pressure to increase my wages soon. One bedroom apartments go for around 1000 dollars a month, which is a lot better than I’m used to. It is just out of reach of affordibility with what I am making right now, however. I’ll probably have to have to live with a roommate, which I absolutely dread. Living with people causes me immense stress. I got along really good with Ingrid though, and this spot is in a prime location close to the bus lines and businesses I utilize. It’s a real bummer I have to relocate, it’s almost certain to be a major downgrade in my living situation.

Unfortunately wages here are a lot lower than Santa Cruz, around twenty dollars an hour is about all I can hope for without a degree or specialized training. If I can just make it to the summer and get that sweet sweet fishing money for a grubstake I’ll be good. I can use that to get my truck up here which will really open up a lot of job and housing options for me. Believe me, seeing people whizz by in their nice warm comfortable vehicles while I wait for buses in sub-zero temperatures really makes me miss having a way to get around. It’s super frustrating to be stuck in one tiny corner of Alaska without any way to get out and see things as well. I can’t wait to get a nice camera and have the ability to get out and get some good photos. The northern lights are starting to rev up good and I can’t get to anyplace I can get a good view of the sky to see them! It’s aggravating to say the least.

Even if I had my truck, it’d be hard to find parking at my job. This is what our parking lot looks like these days.

I’ve really been cooking up some incredible grub the last few months. I cook a couple of big meals a week so I’m not spending so much on food. I’ve really perfected my fried rice, and alternate between Asian and Cajun cuisine. It’d be great if I could get hold of some local wild game so I could really cook Alaskan style. I heard from a guy on the bus that back in the 80’s they would actually give people on food stamps haunches of moose meat! Someday when I’m settled up here I’d love to get back into hunting and fill a deep freeze full of moose steaks. When I grew up in Louisiana, my grandparents would fill up their deep freezes with fish in the summer and venison in the winter. I’d love to get back to that and live the way most Alaskans do. Anyways, here’s a couple pics of some incredible dishes I’ve made recently.

Green gumbo with reindeer sausage.
Red curry with crawfish and pineapple. I can get Chinese crawfish tails from the market next door. It was an experiment that was an incredible success!
Bethan and her mom got a new puppy! His name is Jasper, I really like the little fellow. I think he’ll grow up to be a good dog. He’s some kind of doberman mix, I think.

So that’s pretty much all that is going on in my life. It’s a pretty boring life actually. I just get up, go to work, and come home. I take walks around the neighborhood occasionally. While the weather conditions are tough, every day I still marvel at the fact that I’m in such a unique corner of the world. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to try and carve myself out a life up here. I really feel like I can be myself in Alaska. I don’t think I’ve ever been aligned with a land and its people as much as I am now. As I mentioned before though, I really want to get out of town and be out in the real Alaska. A joke around here is that Anchorage is a great town, it’s only a half hour drive away from Alaska! One good thing about living the Anchorage life is that the weather is the mildest here anywhere in this part of the state. Up towards Fairbanks they are dealing with -30 and lower temperatures and much more snowfall. They don’t get any sun at all this time of year up towards the Arctic Circle, that’s got to be rough for those folks up north. We’ve got it good here in the so-called Banana Belt of Alaska! Well, I hope all of ya’ll had a Merry Christmas and I wish ya’ll good tidings for the new year. Until next time!