Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hi there!

Greetings from the 49th state! 


Land of cold, snow, ice, and incredible views.

Now -  I live here, but I don’t do much outdoorsy stuff. In fact, my son, Benjamin --- (who is getting married in Peru next summer, which will turn me into a tourist at Machu Picchu) --- Ben has informed me that what I do is pretty much portable. I write. I need a laptop. I’m portable.

He’s right.

However, if you’re considering (or already deep into) a career as a writer, there is one thing you probably don’t consider, but need to. Your health. Trust me, nobody else is going to make sure you get exercise and eat right. Except maybe a personal trainer. Which brings me to the rambling reason for my BLOG today: 

Alaska. In November. And outdoorsy stuff.

First, I want to introduce you to Coal.  He’s eleven. In dog years, he’s what…closing in on 70? You’d think he’d be slow. Easy-going. Ready for his nap. 

When I took this photo, he was hiding under his “I’m a very nice dog” exterior. Looks harmless, right? 

Oh. You would be so dead wrong. When it’s time for one of his walks, Coal makes a personal trainer look like a marshmallow. He has zero patience. And gets ready with a collar and leash. He doesn’t know what my problem is and why I take so long. And he chews me out as I get dressed for stalling him.

Now,  I like walking. I’m in great shape. (or so they tell me at the yearly physical) And I really do like taking Coal for his walks. He loves it. His tail is always wagging. And we meet all kinds of other people during walks when the weather is nice. 

Babies in strollers. Other dog-slaves (also known as owners). Joggers. Hand-holding couples out for a stroll. 

And I have to tell you. The views are incredible. 

I bought a really nice camera a couple of years ago just so I could take photos of the gorgeous views. 

Here’s one I took last month. 

Thirty days ago. What a gorgeous autumn day. Isn’t it nice?

My camera works great…except in winter. 

I discovered a few things. The little camera buttons are impossible to find and push with gloves on. Everything is blurry because it’s really hard to keep from shivering - especially if you take the gloves off. 

It’s hard to do anything in the dark, since I use one hand to hold the leash and one for an LED flashlight thing. If I go flash-less I get great shots of big black nebulous stuff. And if I keep the flash on, I get shots of the closest subject at hand, which turns out to be Coal’s behind. 

I had given up taking winter photos (due to the above) even when the full moon is hovering atop the mountains or the aurora borealis is making colored stripes in the sky. The views are incredible. Breathtaking. But alas. I don’t have the right camera.

Then came November 2013.

What is going on with the temperatures? I’m trying to write an inferno type setting for my next Vampire Assassin League novella. It’s hot. The cover is hot. Everything about it says heat.

It’s already January temperatures up here. We have a solid ice shelf to walk on. Temperatures are in the negatives. 

I managed to get this shot, not to advertize any businesses, but to show I’m not making this up. 

It was -5 (Fahrenheit) the other morning.  That’s like -20 something in Celsius. 

You might also notice the incredibly colorful mess of light in the frame. That must be another issue with using my digital camera in freezing conditions. (No need to call the UFO people. It really wasn’t there)

Now. I carried mail in Wyoming for three years. I was on a walk-out route. That means I walked for six hours every day, in all kinds of weather, carrying up to 35 lbs of mail in a satchel. 
I do recall days outside that had a wind chill factor of -60. (They were brutal) 

I realize now, however, that those days were good training for my work-outs with Coal. Ah. Coal. My physical trainer. He makes me take him three times a day. Twice for 20 minutes. Our last walk in the evening is 30 minutes. This is not optional. He just gets his way. And he knows it.

So. It’s Alaska. Winter temps. 

I’m going outside for a bit. I know what to do. For this kind of weather, you just need to dress right. Start with all kinds of light layers (at least two on the legs. Three on the upper body. I even have a snowsuit for January but I just started wearing that.). 

To get ready for our walk, I start with my ear head-wrap. Then the uber-thick cowl my daughter made for me. Then the neoprene face mask. Then my Eagles hat. I figure if it keeps NFL football players warm, it’ll work for me. My goggles. Up here, freezing my contacts to my eyes is a possibility. (For our night walks, I wear my own real, thick glasses) 

Here is a close-up. 

I look pretty much like a sci-fi creature. 

I’ve now advanced to my next-to-the-thickest gloves. Two pairs of socks – the outer pair is extra large - and I have snow boots with such heavy-duty cleats on them, they weigh over 2 lbs each. 

I know. I was complaining. My hubby weighed them. He told me to think of it like I’m wearing ankle weights to work out. And I’ll be in fantastic shape for Machu Picchu. Ha. Ha. Ha. (He is such a comedian.)   

Here is what Coal and I look like just starting out on during our daylight walk.

  And here is a pic of those boots and our path.

You’re probably wondering why on earth I do this. 

Well. I’ve got some great reasons. 

I really love my Labrador – and he is worth it. 

It’s really great exercise. You have no idea how good it feels to come in where it’s warm and snuggle beneath an afghan. 

And the views really are breathtaking. 

I decided to try to get some images again. This time I took them during the day walk. And nobody else is out here walking. So. What do you think?

Anyone want to join us?

--- Jackie Ivie


DeNise said...

Brrrrr: I'm shuffling from my back door the the door of my writing room. The cup stays warm even in -8 degrees. You can keep Coal, I have a treadmill in my room"-)

Jae Awkins said...

Double brrrrrr....but your recent daytime photos are beautiful! :o)

Jae Awkins said...

Double brrrrrr....but your recent daytime photos are beautiful! :o)

Anonymous said...

Our furry buddies make us better people.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

I agree that layers work wonders. But I don't have a neoprene face mask, might need to get one of those….

Terri Rochenski said...

Wow Wow & more Wow. What beautiful scenery to enjoy everyday. Even if it IS freezing cold. THIS is why I don't have an animal that requires I take it outdoors every day.