January 8, 2009

Winter Blues

Who knew it was possible to have the winter blues while living in the desert? I know it could be a lot worse. I've experience a lot worse, but I miss the warmth and sunshine. We've had quite a few cold and dreary days in the last month. I've had enough. Summer can't come soon enough. At least, it looks like the latest cold & cloudy spell is on it's way out.

Gosh, I have no idea how I survived Chicago winters. There's no way I could tolerate them today. I think back on my winter horror stories and my whining over 40 degree temperatures seems silly.

One year, it must have been December 1999, Frank and I headed up to Minnesota a few days before Christmas. We were under 21, but we already had sights set on gaming, we had been to Vegas a few times at that point. During, our underage days, we made trips to Indian Casinos nearby. Our favorite was Treasure Island in Red Wing, MN. We also frequented Ho Chunk and Casino Windsor.

That December, we thought a getaway to Treasure Island and Christmas shopping at the Mall of America would be fun. The drive to Wisconsin was trouble-free, it started to rain once we crossed the border. Roads were a little sloppy, the further we drove the colder it got, Frank was driving through sleet and then snow before we knew it. As we approached the MN border, it was blizzard like conditions. Traffic slowed, and a few cars and trucks had accidents and slid off the road. Considering everything, we made fairly decent time, we got to the hotel, stepped out of the car and we were greeted by a frigid blast of cold. The actual temperature was zero with a wind chill of 30 below or something insane like that. My car was covered in ice, it didn't melt the entire time we were there. I'll never forget the crunch the deeply frozen ground made.

The hotel's pool was indoor and they had a hot tub. The pool area had huge floor to ceiling windows looking outside. I remember sitting in the hot tub staring out at giant icicles and snow covered ground, thinking how nice it was to be inside. Heat is a marvelous thing!

We had a lot of fun that trip, despite the frigid cold, it only got colder during our stay. The one night the actual temperature was -16F. I don't recall what the wind chill was, all I know is that I have never experienced cold like that. It was brutal! Shopping at the Mall of America days before Christmas wasn't bad at all, I suspect the cold had something to do with that. We left Red Wing, December 23, temps had begun to warm, if I recall right the high was 10F. Almost 20 degrees warmer than what we experienced a day before.

Wouldn't you know it, it started to snow as soon as we got on the road. Again, we encountered blizzard conditions, but this time was far worse. I remember counting 16 vehicles in a ditch, we saw at least another dozen cars flipped over or in accidents. Our max speed was 30mph. It took us nearly 8 hours to get to the Wisconsin Dells. That is normally a 3 hour drive. By then, Frank was exhausted, we found a hotel in the Dells and stayed the night. We paid $80 for a room that goes for $300 in high season. I don't recall the hotel, but it had very nice accommodations.

We left the following day, roads were plowed and traffic moved. We made good time back home. We arrived just before we had to leave to our families Christmas celebrations.

I don't know how Minnesotans do it. I thought Chicago was cold, and we sure had our fair share of brutal winter storms, but I never remember it being that bad.

On the flip side, the hottest temperature I've encountered was in Bullhead City, AZ. We had 126F on our thermometer. When you stepped outside it felt like you were stepping into an oven. The heat absorbs your body's moisture in seconds. It felt like my eyelids melted to my eyeballs. Not the most comfortable feeling in the world, but I'll take it. I can do hot, but cold is whole other story.


Hurricane Mikey said...

I'm with ya, Kellee--I've lived in the desert for the better part of the past 20 years, and my blood is way thin now. I get all pissy and moany when it get's below 40 degrees here in Vegas. But my wardrobe doesn't help--I don't really have much in the way of cold weather clothes.

On the other hand, I can handle the heat up to about 105 degrees--beyond that, I hate it. Especially when it's like 112 for two weeks straight. Ugh.

I don't know how I survived three winters in Idaho and six months in Alaska back in the day. I guess that's what drove me to live in the desert.

Kellee said...

I actually broke down and bought a winter coat this year. Past years I've gotten by with a sweater or hoodie. I swear my blood thins a little more each year.

At least, we only have three months or so of weather that's too hot or too cold, each year.