Little House on the Tundra

It’s currently 11 degrees in Chicago (feels like -7, according to weather.com). In the last three days, I have only gone outside to shovel the front sidewalk and play with the dog in the backyard for a few minutes before my hands turn into icicles inside my Thinsulate mittens. Most of my Facebook feed is either threatening to move to Florida or posting Hoth/tauntaun/North of the Wall memes. Some who live in warmer climates are sharing screenshots of their weather apps with sunshine icons and temps in the 70’s; these types are kindred spirits to the people who purposely eat ice cream cones on the sidewalk in full view of Weight Watchers meetings. Schools, businesses, and airlines are shut down, hunkered down, and grounded. People might as well change their out of office emails to “currently on Netflix lockdown.”

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I have a strange love of extreme storms and weather conditions, mostly due to a childhood obsessions with the Little House on the Prairie books. When Mother Nature gives us the business, I like to think I can tough my way through it. During these bleak winter days when polar vortexes descend on my city, I look at them as training. Not for some Snowpiercer-esque future apocalypse, as you may be thinking, but for my retirement days.

Kurt and I like to kick around the ridiculous idea of someday retiring in Alaska. We spent 10 days in an RV driving around Denali, Anchorage, and the Kenai peninsula in the summer of 2012 and both of us fell in love with the breathtaking scenery and the way of life. Since then, we’ve become hooked on a TV show on Destination America called Buying Alaska, which follows couples as they house-hunt in the Last Frontier. We like to talk about what trade-offs we’d be willing to make (could I live with an outhouse as our main bathroom if we could routinely see orcas breaching in the bay from our living room window?). I like to picture a cozy log cabin with big picture windows overlooking pristine nature. I’d have a comfy chair next to the wood burning stove where I’d read books all day and watch for moose or caribou passing through the yard. Kurt would do all of the shoveling. We’d grow vegetables in a greenhouse and store Alaskan beer in our root cellar. The only tough part would be getting through those long, brutal winters.

The tough weather we’ve been having recently give me a small taste of what an Alaskan winter would be like. Could I really deal with -30 degree temperatures, 80″ of snowfall, and 20 hours of darkness? I’ll let you know in a bit.

If not, I could also do Vegas.