I arrived in Haines shortly before Christmas, spending the holidays with my parents at their farm 37-miles out the highway. After 7 years of living in South Florida, any snow seems like a lot of snow, but this really was a lot of snow. They've had over 20 feet fall out of the sky already this winter, and with many winter months still to come it looks like it's going to be a dramatically record breaking year. Through Christmas until New Years involved hours every day of moving the white stuff with my dad, making paths to the animals and clearing buildings so they wouldn't collapse under the ever growing weight. Perhaps the extra exercise sufficiently counteracted the extra eating I was doing thanks to being spoiled with mom's home cooking -- all my favorite dishes, many multiple times (including potato salad four times, my personal favorite).
I'd lived at 37-mile alone for three years about a decade ago, so it was familiar country. I got out snowshoeing as much as possible with friends, visiting with wonderful neighbors, and simply taking in the impressive beauty of the area.
The front door
We had no shortage of snow at 37 mile. This is a view of the house, with drifts making it possible to simply walk on top of the buildings.
Haelo spent the first 8 years of her life living in South Florida, and yet didn't have the least bit of difficulty adjusting to life in snow country. She does seem to get cold quicker than my parents' dogs, and hasn't quite figured out how to properly pick snow out of her paws when it gets warm and sticky, but she was having a great time. She'll be calling 37-mile home for a while as I continue my travels.
A night's snow
I drove into town three times the month and a half I was staying at 37-mile. There was no such thing as simply jumping in the car and driving off. First you had to shovel it off, scrape the windows, and warm it up. In this case, I'd prepared my car the night before, but I'm not really sure why -- the night's snow dump covered it again. In the picture I'd only cleared off enough snow to drive it down the driveway a ways where it could sit and warm up.
It's hard to not be impressed by the natural beauty of Haines, the Alaskan town I grew up in. I appreciated it to some degree when I was younger, but after having lived in a flat and comparatively bland place for the past seven years I find it all the more beautiful when I come back to visit.
Lee, Shanah, and their wonderful three year old son Ocean. Lee and I were roommates in college, and we even both dropped out at the same time. It was great to have some time to hang out and catch up with them, and to attend Ocean's third birthday party.
Christmas Eve Gambling
It's a tradition to get together with the neighbors throughout the winter and play some poker. This particular game happened to be on Christmas Eve. With three games during my stay, I was happy to have managed to come out a little ahead with each.
Friends a couple miles up the road had been gone all winter, welcomed back to a tremendous amount of snow. It took them about 20 hours with a Bobcat to clear their driveway, the end result well worth getting out of the car to take a few pictures.
Up at 40 mile near the Canadian border, my dad standing in front of an impressive snow berm in the yard of some friends.
I tried to get out snowshoeing as often as possible, my favorite winter sport. This is one of my favorite valleys, leading off of my parent's property away from the highway. Branching off from the valley is a small hill leading up to a beautiful natural amphitheater. Adrian and I continued up from there straight up the mountainside to another ridge line that we'd not hiked on before, following it until night fell, then dropping back down to my parent's farm below.
Another good snowshoeing adventure, Rebbecca, Tully, my dad and I all hiked across the river and up the Glacier Creek valley. It was a beautiful sunny day, though our hike took us into a shady valley. Perhaps something to do with the grass being greener (or the snow being whiter in this case), whenever the river freezes over there's an instant draw to explore on the opposite side of the valley.
My once home, a school bus now parked on my parent's property. Give time for the image to load, and you'll get some perspective on how much snow has already fallen, as it fades from a picture taken during the summer into a picture taken this February. It's a standard sized 30' school bus, surrounded by berms from shoveling snow off the top to keep it from getting crushed -- but the snow has to be thrown up not down, as it's that deep!
This chart runs from December 1'st, 2006 until January 31'st 2007, two months of impressive snowfall at 37 mile Haines Highway. When I arrived shortly before Christmas they had a modest 7 feet already, but as you can see that quickly changed, adding up to over 20 feet and still counting when I left.
Mom and Dad
My parents spoiled me thoroughly during my winter visit. They're also watching my dog, Haelo, while I continue on my travels.
On our way to town so I could catch a ferry to Juneau we stopped in Klukwan, a Tlingit village 22 miles from Haines where we lived when my parents were school teachers there. That's me standing next to some trees I planted outside the school as tiny saplings some 20 years ago, impressively healthy and tall two decades later!