Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cold weather trips past and future

For Christmas, we are going to be in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am excited not only because I'll be seeing my cool in-laws, but because it will be my first white Christmas. This is what it looked like today.

I've raised the prospect of eating lutefisk (dried cod reconstituted with lye) and was promptly shot down. As a compromise, I will be bringing a bottle of Norwegian aquavit as a housewarming gift. I had no idea it needed to cross the Equator twice.

I had been to Minnesota once before, in 2003, when I visited the SPAM museum in Austin (home of Hormel). The whole town smelled like canned meat. Look at these photos, taken with a Canon 3-megapixel camera!

Going to frigid Minnesota also made me try to recall the coldest weather I had ever experienced. Nothing too bad, actually.

The absolute coldest temperature I had ever lived through was 3 degrees F. It was in October 2007 in Fairbanks, coming back from my trip to the Arctic Circle. It wasn't so bad because I was prepared and wearing warm clothing.

It was probably just in the 20s, but my night in a yurt in Karakul Lake in Xinjiang felt the coldest. We were 12,000 feet up, so I was battling altitude sickness as well. We stayed overnight in this poorly insulated, crappy yurt next to the lake. I remember uncomfortably and dizzily walking out at night, into the pitch black, to the outdoor squat pit to piss. I was too disoriented to put on shoes and just walked out in my socks. It was pure misery.


steve-vh said...

oh, you're going to love the Midwest...... over the weekend St. Paul was colder than Antarctica. We've got well over a foot of snow in the past week........The Twin cities are cool though.

Sanchez said...

I've got the exact same bottle of Linie Aquavit from my Swedish friend when we studied in Italy. I had asked him to bring me some traditional food and he got me this. Remember the oily taste and that I consumed less than half of it cause I did not like it. Weird but now that I remember the taste I would like to get another bottle.