Make flat February a time for fantastic fun
As winter rolls toward a certain spring – and, yes, it will arrive – Alaskans become divided into two groups: Those who are dreading the melting of the snow and those who are counting the days until it is gone.
Here? Or Here? February is often guilty of playing tricks with your head. Whether your mind is taking you to the warmth of Mexico – as son Roan and author Melissa DeVaughn enjoy the Sea of Cortez – or the fresh powder of a late-winter ski – as Colleen Mueller encounters at Manitoba Cabin – don’t feel alone.
Photos courtesy Melissa DeVaughn
As much as I love winter and snowy sports and the outings that come with living in a place like this, I have to admit I’m one of the latter. Especially toward the end of February, I begin to smell spring in the air, although I’m pretty sure that’s my imagination. I begin to think about running without studded shoes and of cookouts on the deck and fresh salmon and sunshine. While I’ve fully enjoyed winter, February begins to weigh heavily, and the snow overstays its welcome. It’s a yearly challenge that I’ve yet to overcome.
I try to remind myself that it’s quite possible it will still be snowing in May, and that February is nowhere near the end of winter in Alaska – that I’m setting myself up for disappointment. Every year, though, it’s the same thing: I’m somehow hard-wired to think spring as soon as the calendar flips past January.
With this mental tug-of-war going on, February can be exasperating. On the one hand I tell myself, “This is the perfect time to hit Alyeska!” and on the other, I think “I wonder if there are any cheap flights to Mexico right now?” I’m both invigorated by the longer days and exhausted by the snow, piling foot by foot along our plowed driveway.
I don’t think I am alone in this daily flip-flopping of loyalties; this is no big epiphany. The folks at Fur Rendezvous sensed its locals going a bit stir crazy this time of year almost eight decades ago and devised a way to keep Alaskans entertained. The annual festival features competitions, exhibits, entertainment and more to help Alaskans get out from underneath their blankets and outside and in their community, communicating and having fun. This year’s festival promises more of the same – including the GCI snow sculpture competition, Rondy Yukigassen (think snowball fight on steroids), Running of the Reindeer and the annual Frostbite Footrace. (Read more about this year’s Fur Rondy fun on pages9-10 and 16).
The hardcore outdoors-lovers – those snow-worshippers who would live on a glacier year-round if they could – also will tell you that February is the height of wintertime fun. The days are getting longer, the snow is at its most plentiful, and while there still may be some frigid days yet to come, the dog mushing, winter biking, Nordic and alpine skiing is sensational. Alyeska resort kicks off its annual town race series and holds its Frostbite Festival, and dog mushing heats up as well – February is crunch time for Iditarod mushers preparing for their races.
So, resist the temptation to start thinking spring quite yet – I promise I will try as well. There are still days to be treasured, northern lights to be sought after and fresh powder to wade through.