[at-l] Final Thoughts fromMudbutt

Jan Leitschuh janl2 at mindspring.com
Mon Feb 19 06:42:05 CST 2007

"Well, it is time to send one final missive from the Arctic Circle and I can't
tell you how sad that makes me!  I came here with so many fears that turned out 
to be completely unfounded.  Fear of really tiny airplanes, fear of cold, the likes
of which I have never seen, fear of careening through the woods on a snow mobile,
and millions of other fears.... is my gear good enough, am I good enough?  That 
is the big one....
Well, I learned a great deal this week and turns out that, like most adventures,
a big smile and a willingness to laugh at yourself will get you very, very far! 
And I have come very, very far.....
    After getting up this morning, I decided to forgo the long underwear under my
jeans cause I was getting on a plane soon and would be indoors all day.  Then Melissa
and Brian asked if I wanted to go say good bye to the dogs.  It was only 23 below
so why not?  :)
     (and just for the record, I was told that it got down to almost 30 below last
night so I think that is officially the coldest temperature that I got to experience.
That is ok....I don't need it to be any colder!!!)
    So we walked through the village to Max and Rachels and before I knew it, I 
was being jumped on by lots of happy sled dogs.  It was great and I don't even
mind that I seriously smell like wet dog...and I mean SERIOUSLY.
On the way back my eyes were watering due to the wind and little balls of ice kept
appearing on my face.  Brian said, "Hey Anna...look at Melissas eyelashes!",
and they were frozen!!  It looked very pretty with them all covered in white frost.
When I reached up to rub my eyes, I discovered that mine were frozen too, and then
when I reached back to brush my hair off my neck I felt these long stiff things 
sticking off my head!!  Turns out that I didn't quite get my hair dry after 
my shower and yep....my hair was frozen!  I think it is time to go home.

    The rest of the morning was spent thawing out my legs, packing and saying goodbye
to the wonderful people that are here.  Linda and Dan who are the owners and who
treated me with such kindness, Marcello, who watched me dig myself out of way to
many snow banks and who, come to think of it, was the reason that I ended up in 
each and every one of them!!  :)  Robin, the mouthy, irreverant chef who kept me
laughing for three whole days, and Soh, the wonderful young guy that took me out
for my first view of the lights and offered my cappuchino every morning.  These 
people were kind to me, patient with me, and in a very short time became very dear
to me.  I will really miss them!
    I will leave you with a few short tidbits that I learned that I think you will
find cool.......
    1.  First off.....the cold.  Believe me when I say to you, it is not that bad
cause it is a dry cold.  Seriously!!  Stop laughing!!!!  I learned that if you have
good gear and dress well, it is really no big thing.  Of course, it is a constant
that you always have to deal with, and I imagine that living here is a lot more 
difficult than living anywhere warmer, but it is do-able nontheless.  :)  And as
for myself, Despite all my jokes about landing in snow banks and lying on my back
to see the stars...all of which I did.....I was very, very respectful of the cold.
And because of that.....it wasn't so scary.

2.  Did you know that we are so far up North that any satellite dishes that you 
see are pointed towards the ground!?!  How wild is that?  And there is no doctor,
but there is a nurse and if you go to her little building, there is a giant satellite
dish that connects her to Fairbanks so that the Doctor can examine you over the 
air.  Cool, huh?

3.  Everything here is on permafrost, with just a thin deposit of soil on top, so
no matter how far you bury the water lines, they would still freeze quickly.  So
water is always in motion.  They have loops between buildings and they have copper
wire that twists around the pipes.  If they have to, like when it gets to 60 below,
they can heat them up, but it is VERY expensive.  And quite a few folks here have
outhouses rather than indoor plumbing.  Needless to say, no matter how difficult
potty issues could get on the AT, it could not compare to having to visit an outhouse
in 60 below!!!

4.  I thought I would see a ton of high-tech clothing here....Gortex and such, and
I thought for sure, that I wouldn't see blue jeans!!!  But the locals dress 
just like us!!!  These Alaskans can heat a building fabulously, so it wasn't
unusal to see folks in jeans and tee shirts while in their houses.  I even saw a
few in flip flops!!!!!

5.  I am officially a horrible person cause while I was here I not only ate Bullwinkle,
but I also ate Rudloph!!!  Yep....moose and reindeer and let me tell you...that 
reindeer sausage was GOOD!

Well, that about wraps it up and I am going to head into Fairbanks to see what there
is to see.  I will be flying home tomorrow and am looking foward to seeing my dog
and cat!!!  I will see you soon!!!
Love, Anna aka Mud Butt

"When all is said and done here at the ending of the day, I look out on this
world and it still takes my breath away..."
"Robin's Song" Small Potatoes"

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