A meandering blog with no clear topic. You will find me talking about knitting, building, kids, social and economic issues, Alaska, and lots of other stuff.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
I grew up in Maryland, the southernmost Northern state. In climate, it's pretty much a southern state. We did get snow occassionally, but it never lasted long. Big snow falls were the stuff of legends. I still remember the huge snowfall the winter of 1976, when the Chesapeake Bay froze. But when I learned to drive, I never really had to drive in the snow, except maybe once or twice a year. And when I did, it was just a matter of crossing my fingers.
Then I moved to Colorado, and later Utah. It snowed a little more often, but generally melted off the road within a day or two, usually helped by vast quantities of salt. The other consideration is that even in winter, the sun shone for many hours a day, and was still relatively direct and strong. I hated driving in snow, and did the slow, white knuckle, creepy-crawl every time I had to drive in it. The idea of going down even a small hill would make me nervous.
But in 2004, I moved to Alaska. I specifically decided to move Labor Day weekend because I thought we would be less likely to encounter snow in the Yukon early in September. We did get snowed on, but nothing major, and none while we were in the mountains, for which I was grateful, as I was pulling a heavy trailer with my truck.
So, we got to Alaska just in time for winter. Imagine my shock when I discovered that the snow didn't melt. It started snowing in October, and that first winter, the roads never cleared until March. Because the sunlight is not direct enough, strong enough, or long enough to melt anything, and it stayed cold, the snow on the roads simply compacted down into ice. Everything was covered in ice, several inches thick. And to compound the issue, I got a job in January requiring lots of driving all over town. To make a long story short, I learned to drive on ice and snow. By the end of the winter, I wasn't as frightened of driving on it. By the end of my second winter, I had slid off the road twice, and I learned from it. Fast forward to now, and I find myself today driving 300 miles to Fairbanks on roads like you see above in about five and a half hours, including a couple of potty breaks. Note that the trip from where I live to Fairbanks involves a fair amount of hilly terrain. No major mountain passes, but lots of hills and winding around the bases of mountains. Before living in Alaska, I would have said, NO WAY. But today, it was a nice drive, with no white knuckle moments. I will head home on Tuesday, assuming that Mt. Redoubt doesn't spew ash all over the place, making driving truly hazardous (It's very slippery, and it ruins your engine).
I guess my point is, people acclimate. When they have to, or choose to, people can adapt relatively well to changing circumstances. And circumstances are changing. Resource depletion, global warming, etc. will all affect us, and change our lives. There are plenty of predictions of chaos and collapse. But, if we are careful, we can adapt as things change. Hopefully, we will.