How it Started

When I was 12, I found a blank ledger book. It was a treasure beyond treasure to me. I debated and debated about what to do with it - it had to be something special. Finally I decided to make a list of things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see in my life and then cross them off when I had accomplished them. At first they were simple things, but soon I was adding dramatic things, impossible things, but things still worth dreaming about. Oddly enough, putting them on the list somehow made them attainable. I have kept the book and updated the list my entire life. Here is the story behind some of the entries - successes and failures, embarrassing and proud moments, laughter and tears - the ridiculous to the sublime!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Go Outside in Minus 40 Degrees - DID IT

It was only -36 but I'm counting it anyway. Once it gets that cold a few degrees more or less doesn't really matter.  Also, I have no idea why I specified -40.

Here's how it happened.  I had just started working as a flight attendant and in the middle of my first winter I was assigned a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska.  As we landed, the pilot announced that it was "minus 36". I couldn't wait to see what that was like.  As soon as the last passenger left the plane, I dashed into the jetway, threw open the access door and stepped outside.  I took a deep breath.... oh, it burned, it burned my lips, burned my throat, burned my chest and burned all the way into my lungs.  The exposed skin on my arms hurt in just the time it took to take one breath - being new to the concept of Minus Forty, I hadn't bother to put on a coat.  The moisture in my nose froze - I had actual snot-sickles!  What's a "snot-sickle" you ask.  You know you have them if you squeeze your nostrils together, the frozen snot crystals stab the inner surface of your nose.  One breath, that was it.  I ran straight back into the warm aircraft.

After the crew finished laughing at me, one of them showed me the coolest trick.  Take a coffee mug full of hot water outside, toss the water up into the frozen air.  It explodes in a puff of white steam.  It freezes in mid air and vaporizes. It even makes a little "Pouff" sound.  Nothing appears to fall to the ground.  Weirdest thing!  I do not know how people live in that environment, but those who do seem to just shrug off the temperatures.

All of my following trips into the Minus Zero environment were performed while wearing a full-length thermal lined coat, boots, wool sweater,wool gloves, wool hat, muffler and silk long underwear - the best insulation around!

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