WINTER has descended

With flakes of snow, surprising a sleeping city, it is confirmed that winter is upon us. The weather forecasts all said, "no snow," on Monday night October 29th. I stayed up late (yes, 10:30 is late at my house!) just to watch. Reassured that we had no worries, the city of Anchorage slept soundly, expecting to find things as we left them in the mornings light. Although, the morning light, would not actually happen until much later.

"It snowed," were the first words I heard early that morning. My husbands tone was solemn and matter of fact.  Alas, the dreaded four letter word and even more dreaded, the ground already frozen and now blanketed with 3 inches of the white stuff. It would make for a frenzied and somewhat dangerous drive to work for those that must go. That first snow was always tricky. Everyone seems to forget how to drive between the months of May and September!

The school buses would still arrive on time and everyone is expected to keep scheduled appointments and deadlines, you just have to do it while trying not to slide off the road! The roads are plowed, mostly, but there is still a lot of snow. Here's my first drive of the season! (I made it safely to work, but it took me much longer than usual.)



                                                               Yes, that is the moon!
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 


COFFEE ANYONE???

I thought I knew a little about the coffee craze, being an avid fan and connoisseur myself! But here, in the midst of some very serious coffee drinkers I feel like quite the novice. Alaskans are definitely serious about their coffee! I mean face it, in the south, it isn't unusual for people to give up coffee during the summer months and switch to a cold caffeinated beverage. Even I would have to cut down on my consumption when the heat and humidity caused me to reach for something cold much earlier than usual. Of course, my morning still started with a couple of cups of those rich, dark and freshly ground beans even when the day starts out in the 80's.

The heat or cool of the day is not the only issue though. All year long, people in Alaska deal with either very long days or extremely short ones. YIKES!!! Can we have one or the other, please? A cup of coffee is ALWAYS in order...you're either trying to stay awake because you stayed up until dark-which happened to hit after midnight! Or, you are trying to get through the second half of the day and its already getting dark and it's only  3 o'clock in the afternoon! What constant transition!




Thank goodness for the little life saver coffee houses. They are more like a hut or a shack that you drive thru on both sides. Even if you weren't planning on it, your car just seems to make that turn and you find yourself in line with everyone else, waiting for your turn at the window. And yes, there is ALWAYS a line, even though these cute little coffee drive-thru shops are EVERYWHERE!

I love driving around the city and spotting the little coffee shacks. Each has their own adorable personality, catchy name and enticing headline. Who could resist?? And why even try?





It had seemed to me, that in the south, Starbucks had the market on the coffee industry pretty much in the bag. With their easy to spot logo's and conveniently located shops, it was kind of a status thing to have a "Starbucks" cup in hand. But here, they are just one in the many and not necessarily the label to be sporting.

Alaskans are big on "organic" choices and most of the local coffee companies offer it in large quantities. As far as I can tell Starbucks just doesn't make the cut in that area. Although they have added an organic option recently.

Alaskans are also very supportive of everything local. The option for local over something trendy will usually win out from my experiences.









So here, in this winter wonderland of snow, ice and freeeeeeeezing temperatures, the little no name coffee shacks with big bang coffee will continue to line 'em up!!



  


    








I have been collecting pictures since I first arrived and I think this will be an ongoing hobby. I just can't help but to admire them!



SNOW, SNOW, SNOW! A City under Seige!












Diamond Dust and Sun Dogs


In keeping up with the weather in my hometown of Birmingham this winter, I am continuously envious of the mild temperatures that have presented themselves this year. On the other hand, here in Anchorage and all across Alaska, we are having one of the hardest (and might I add loooonggggest) winters that most remember!

Those southerners catching me complaining have politely reminded me, "you do live in Alaska, you know!" Well, Alaska or not, I am not happy with the ongoing condition of below zero temperatures, day after day. Then, when it does warm up to above freezing, it begins to snow and snow and will not relent until it has dumped its weight of revenge onto us. This is my third winter here in this great state and I am now in full understanding of the term "snow bird". Wouldn't I love to be able to fly south for the winter!!

Thought it's been extremely cold and I have seen more snow than ever in my life, I have also seen some very interesting phenomenon this year. Yesterday, in the late morning, I was leaving my office to make an appointment a couple miles down the road. As I headed to the end of the parking lot around the building towards my car, the sun hit me and I realized that the tiny flakes in the air were not snow, but ice crystals. I stopped in my tracks and held out my hand; they were like diamond dust floating in the air and with the bright sun on me the colors of the rainbow were reflecting on each one. It was a beautiful sight! I wished I had the time to stop and try to capture this diamond dust in a picture, but it just wasn't going to happen now.

Returning, about thirty minutes later, I met one of my associates going into the office. Being a southern girl herself from Georgia, she has been thrilled with all the snow that has arrived for her first winter in Alaska. She giggled as she said, "it's snowing again." I told her I didn't think that was snow. "It's more of a crystal. Heck, it's sunny with no clouds, I don't know where the stuff is coming from," I said as I realized this couldn't even be coming from the sky. We went to the window and pulled the blinds to investigate this strange event and then we saw it. There was a beautiful rainbow to the left of the church across the street and in the middle of the rainbow was a "sun" reflection. We both gazed in wonder and then realized that there was yet another rainbow on the other side of that church and it also had a reflection of the sun right in the middle of it! At that moment, with our mouths hanging open we realized that it was a true circle of a rainbow. The sun shone brightly right in between that huge glowing arch, it was a gorgeous sight! I have never seen anything like it.

Jodi, frantically started to run out to get a better look, so I handed her my camera as I had to take an incoming phone call. While she was outside she ran into another onlooker and they explained to her that this phenomenon is called "snow dogs" or " sun halo".






The pictures do not do this justice! The sun was so low and bright that it made it hard to look toward it for very long.
But, there was definitely a full circle of rainbow colors with two sun spot reflections around the sun!
I read an article about snow dogs and it said that the ice crystals in the air and the sun halos are connected and usually happen simultaneously.
Just another exciting part of living in Alaska!