Monday, March 26, 2012

Surviving Our First Homer Winter

It's been so long since I've updated the blog that you may think we got buried by a blizzard.  While that is technically true (more than once, in fact), we have officially survived our first Homer winter.  Honestly, at times it felt like the darkness and snow was swallowing up our days, but we managed to get out and enjoy lots of unexpected Alaskan winter surprises. Now that the days are (much) longer, we have a new appreciation for the extra hours of sunshine that we took for granted last summer.  While we still have a couple of feet of snow at our house (and about 7 feet at the top of the mountain behind town), we can feel spring coming in the mud puddles (ponds?) on the streets and the need for fewer layers of clothing.

This winter we learned that we had never truly experienced cold before.  We thought we had in New England, but Alaska was hit with an especially cold and snow season this year.  The entire month of January was spent below zero.  Sometimes TWENTY below.  For Homer, that's unusually cold.  We also had a ton of snow (maybe it followed us from Connecticut, where we had record snow last year?).  Anchorage is thisclose to getting record snowfall for the year.  Anything above 10 degrees now feels warm.  Crazy.  The LT escaped to Hawaii on the ship for "training" for seven weeks of winter, during which we had several back-to-back blizzards.  School closed once.  I learned to drive in whiteout conditions with drifted snow that felt like sand dunes.  I love my Honda Pilot.

Snowshoeing on Christmas...3 degrees

Post-blizzard Homer harbor

Right about the time that I couldn't take another morning spent plowing through the 5-foot drifts on our driveway and chasing hungry moose away from the preschool door, we joined The LT for a week in the sun in Honolulu.  What a fabulous family vacation...we lived in bathing suits and went through three bottles of sunscreen.

Top of Diamond Head
We went from a world of gray and white to Technicolor
All of the snow has its pluses.  Our whole family learned to cross-country ski this year.  Homer has a surprisingly fabulous network of groomed ski trails, with our favorite starting just 5 minutes from our house.  We also saw some spectacular sunrises (even if they weren't until after 10am).

Also a rarity for living this far "south", we we able to get the kids out of bed at night to see the Northern Lights.  Twice!  And I learned how to photograph them.  But photos don't begin to describe it.  You'll have to come visit in winter and see for yourself.

Now that we're back in the light, I have started planning our summer adventures.  We are already due to move again next summer, so we have to treat this summer like it could be our last in Alaska for quite some time.  The LT will be spending much of his time cooling off in the Arctic Circle (see this article and this article for more on that), so I will be going solo with the kiddos as the Adventuresome Three to see all that this huge state has to offer.  Stay tuned for our itinerary.