Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fur Rendezvous 2007

Fur RendezvousWinter in Anchorage is six months long--from about the middle of October until the middle of April, give or take a month--and it can be rather tedious, even with a season of great skiing like we've had.

The days are getting longer however and something about having the sun coming up over the mountains as I'm driving my children to school at 7:45am makes me feel like I can survive anything. Bring it on, I've almost made it through another winter.

Which brings me to Fur Rendezvous. This local festival started, the story goes, from hunters and trappers meeting to trade furs and stock up on supplies after the cruelest part of winter had passed. Now it's an opportunity for Anchorage-ites to find something to celebrate in that home stretch towards spring--an excuse to get outside to enjoy more of that rare winter sunlight that's finally coming our way.

For one thing, Fur Rendezvous hosts the World Championship Sled Dog Races. On Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage, after plowing snow off the streets for four months the city hauls in snow back in to cover the pavement and provide a race track for the sled dog teams as they wind their way through the urban district. Then they plow it all up again. Go figure.



But that's not enough--at Fur Rondy there are snowshoe softball games, parades, arts and craft exhibits, Alaska Native cultural experiences, snow sculptures, a dog weight-pulling contest, ice skating exhibitions and of course the outdoor carnival. Rather like a state fair only in frigid temperatures that normal people wouldn't think of facing, even for the sake of the Tilt-a-Whirl.

Fur RondyAnd cold it has been--the coldest temperatures all winter I think. Now in Texas or California that might mean 50 degrees or (heaven forbid) a light dusting of snow in the morning. Here it's means hovering around zero for a week during bright, clear, thin sunny days, then plunging down in negative double-digits at night as what little heat you picked up during the day scatters into the atmosphere without a cloud cover to keep it in.

I'm freezing my giblets I tell you. But we hardy Alaskans, does that stop us? Never. When on Friday I announced to the family we'd be attending the Friday night fireworks (it was 8 below) it merely meant we would be dressing in more layers than astronauts facing a moon walk.

Fur RondySaturday morning was a little easier with the sun out but still the temperatures were below zero. The kids still wanted to try the carnival rides which meant that with the wind chill factor of flying through the air on The Gravitron they'd be facing temperatures of Antarctic proportions. Here's a clip of Andrew with the kids riding one of the rides. I was worried one of them would inadvertently rest their face on the metal bar and be permanently frozen in place until the spring thaw.

After an hour we had to call it a day and limp back to the car for hot chocolate and a chance to thaw our toes but it was worth it. What else are you going to do on a Saturday in February in Alaska?

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21 comments:

Ally Bean said...

I love layers of clothes so I'd tolerate the weather to go have some fun. It's interesting how your event is a "rendezvous" while the same sort of event here in the midwest would be a "festival." I wonder why that is.

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

It is so beautiful there...But I could never survive...it snowed here 3 times and I'm ready to jump off a bridge...

Viscountess said...

Hot Chocolate never tastes as good as when your cheeks are a little chapped from the cold wind, and the warmth of the cup brings the feeling back into your fingers. Some of my fondest memories are of standing back to a bonfire, with my hands (and most of my face) wrapped around a cup of hot chocolate after a day of tobogganing.

That being said, it would take a direct sign from God to bring me back to it, now that I've tasted true warmth. :-)

Jane said...

Burr! That Gravitron ride film had me freezing here on my couch!

I am origionally from Rochester, NY which has only 80 days of sun a year. The winters are cold and I can remember trick or treating in the snow (always a fat costume w/ the snowsuit under it) and also hunting for Easter eggs in the snow. I would go to the carnival too! Even freezing beats being board again inside.

chelle said...

Although I have never lived as far north as Alaska, growing up in Canada meant putting on the layers and heading outside! I miss that so much.

Snow Envy!

wheresmymind said...

I can't imagine the amount of griping I'd get from my wife if we lived in AK! lol

Damselfly said...

I'd go out in those temps if it meant hot chocolate at the end of it, too.

Amy W said...

Now I am off for some hot chocolate as I am cold just reading about it!

Yes, you guys are definitely stronger than I to be in the cold like that!

This October, come to Raliegh for the State fair and fried coke.

Kristina said...

I think my crew and I are in the background of your dog sled video. We had never seen a dog sled race before, VERY COOL.

We've been to the snow sculptures twice thus far, they are awesome as well.

And we braved the carnival yesterday. We also only stayed an hour. LOL

My oldest son summed it up quite well when he said "Are you SURE this only happens once a year?? Oh maaaaannn...."

Carinne said...

I was commenting to Kendall yesterday that seeing as how I'm 9 1/2 months pregnant...its actually been nice because I've barely been cold or even chilly the past few weeks. If I have a sweater on, I usually don't even wear a coat. See, what you need to do is get pregnant...then you'll be warm. In fact, I think I'm going to wear a t-shirt today.

wayabetty said...

So basically sticking your tongue on the metal pole would not be such a great idea, huh?! Sounds like you all had fun but I'm freezing here just reading about it.

We are enjoying a heat wave here in Mass, around 38 degrees today. Whoohoo!!

girlymama said...

you are such a cool mom. there is no way i would have let my kids out of the house when its that cold, nevermind ride rides. 'course my husband grew up in a DESERT, so we have a very skewed defination of cold.

really cool pics! i love when you show us pics of alaska!! they're so pretty :-)

Goslyn said...

Wow, that looks like so much fun, but I can't even imagine temperatures like that.

It's been in the low teens and down around zero at night here, and I am freezing to death!

scribbit said...

Yes Carinne, I've heard that pregnancy is a helpful survival skill. Not ready to go that route though, thanks. :)

Heather said...

Can I just say, "Brrr?!"
We've had a cold winter, too, but you'd never see this light-weight on a carnival ride in it. My kids and hubby, however, would have been right there with you.

Blondie said...

That looks like so much fun. I wish the Alaskan festival would come to Chicago. You can have our week-long Taste of Chicago festival as a trade off. Eh?

Cece said...

Very cool stuff!

Hey, its hard to live in CA & not be cold when the temps drop to 50's & 60's. Brrrr....

Catherine said...

I hear ya, sister. I'm not in Alaska, but I do live in one of the coldest places in the continental U.S... generally the coldest place in Colorado. Six months of coldness hear, too. Which is hard for someone who grew up in southern New Mexico. I'm freezing my patootie off!!

JAM said...

Yikes!

Well, at least y'all prepare as best you can an get out and do stuff anyway. I've never experienced cold that deep.

laughing mommy said...

This looks like so much fun. I live in the Pacific Northwest and won't even take my kids to our annual Christmas Festival of Lights because I can't handle the 35-40 degree temperatures. I'm impressed that you brave such temperatures to have fun.

polliwog said...

I so enjoyed this post! I love the Fur Rendevous. I have fond memories attending it with my parents and then later my husband. Thanks for putting a smile on my face. I'm homesick for Alaska although I must be insane because living here in PNW for 10 years has made me a wuss when it comes to the cold!