Palm trees and polar bears

My sister is an Army wife too. For the last year (or is it two?), she’s been living in Alabama. Before that, it was North Carolina and before that it was temperate Monterey, California. She hasn’t seen much snow in the last five or six years.

My BIL, her husband, has just finished one school and is doing another short course, but then they’ll be off to their next assignment. They’ve been waiting for weeks to find out where the Army would send them. Their top pick was Hawaii, and I think even I was beginning to envision a tropical island vacation in the future.

No such luck.

The other picks on their list were Colorado and Kentucky, but they didn’t get them either. Nope, sometimes you just go where the Army wants to send you.

Like to Alaska.

No other state is as diametrically opposite Hawaii than Alaska. But being a good soldier’s wife, my sister is embracing this new adventure with good humor.

Did I mention he reports in January?

Looking on the sunny side, all four hours a day of sunny side that there will be in Alaska in January, they will get there when it is coldest and darkest, so things will only improve. My husband was up that way in June, and he said it was stunning. And since the sky is still pretty bright at 10 pm in the summer, you have plenty of time to see it all.

Of course, living in Alabama, resources for cold weather gear are pretty scarce, and so I offered via email to see if there were any winter coats for her kids at the thrift store here. She emailed back that she was going to do some research since winter temps can get to 50 below and most winter coats for those of us living in the Continental US just won’t cut it. Even the squall coat I’ve offered to loan to her is only rated to 35 below with a sweater.

Nonetheless, having a normal winter coat, especially if I can find one for only a few bucks, is probably not a waste of money. After all, I emailed her, the kids need something to wear in the spring and the fall.

Ahem. Perhaps it is only her older sister who is truly in a good humor about her husband’s assignment?

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10 thoughts on “Palm trees and polar bears

  1. Oooh! I wanted to go to Alaska, too, even though I know I’d absolutely hate the winters. Still, I’m always up for a good adventure, too, and all of our living situations are only temporary, right? David said no dice, though. 🙂

  2. Despite the apparent “tongue-in-cheek” report of my enthusiasm, I am quite excited by this assignment. Alaska was our first choice months ago and only gave way to Hawaii because I wanted to see volcanos. Oh, and that we have NO winter clothes at all. We haven’t heard one bad thing about Alaska. And, by the way, Michelle, not all of us can live in Kansas.

  3. There are volcanos in Alaska, too!I’m jealous, honey. I added the picture because it really is BEAUTIFUL!

  4. OK I am not jealous….But very happy for her, if she’s excited about it!Even if I WAS born in NY and lived there until I went to college in sunny CA, I am an official southerner now, and start to shiver when the temps dip below 65.Plus, only 4 hours of sun?? I couldn’t do it.I know, “wimpy wimpy wimpy!”; PYour sis should check out L.L. Bean or Lands End for those heavy duty sub zero coats!

  5. I am in Fairbanks now. Its not bad in the winter once you get acclimatized. However, it can actually get down to -60. If you don’t have the proper antifreeze mix then your antifreeze of all things might freeze.

  6. So jealous! I’d love to go to Alaska. The history of Orthodoxy is incredible.

  7. Ha ha…no seriously, we’ve got two new members in our homeschool group (here in the desert NTC) and they just came from Alaska. They seemed to like it. Though one said she got really screwed when they moved out of housing up there…so just start your PCS clearing savings account and you should be alright. (but I can say the same thing about this place too). Need an angora sweater? Angora is 7 times warmer than virgin wool. So go angora! They’re some places on the net that sell angora underclothes. I would so try that!

  8. I just got a fundraising letter from the Diocese of Fairbanks. Most of their parishes are in towns not accessible by road. I find that oddly appealing.However, having spent one very depressing winter in England (I was there a week before I saw the sun at all, and that gave new meaning to that song “Here Comes the Sun”), I strongly recommend you invest in some cheerful colors and full-spectrum bulbs. :-p

  9. Oh! Let me know if there’s something I can contribute. What are her kid’s sizes and ages? I live in MN and am totally prepared for 40 below and know what kids need in this crummy cold place. My sis is in Alaska right now, maybe I could ask her to ask the people there for some tips to surviving all the dark and cold? Email me if you want!

  10. I grew up in Anchorage – is that where they’ll be? If so, no worries. It’s warmer there than in a New England winter. Really, the cold isn’t that bad because it’s dry. Most people in Anchorage wear normal winter gear. I think I wore a wool pea coat for most of high school.It is beautiful, and it grows on you quickly. You should visit your sister in summer while she’s there!

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