I was up there to work, of course. Because I was, at the time, the only single engineer at my company, I got to do all the traveling. I liked it. I'd already spent half a year in New Orleans, and I'd probably never have made it there otherwise. Double-ditto for Alaska.
My days always began at about 6:00. I'd get all bundled up and I'd go outside to start the car. Then I'd go back inside, take a shower and stuff like that, while the car heated up and the windows de-iced. If I was lucky, I'd be able to do all of this without the old man shuffling down and knocking on my door. He always asked me if I wanted any coffee, but I never wanted any.
During that time of year, the Sun wouldn't make an appearance until 10:00 AM or so, and then it would be gone again by 2:00 PM. Anchorage lies South of the Arctic circle, so it never quite gets down to zero hours of daylight in the Winter, and it never quite gets to twenty-four hours of daylight in the Summer. I know that those four hours of daylight did me a world of good. Just knowing that the Sun was shining outside, even if I couldn't see it from my windowless room.
Anyway, I'd go to work. This particular project was interesting to me, but probably not to anyone else, so I won't dwell on it. Except to say that static electricity and computers don't mix, and that Alaska in the Winter is so cold and dry that static electricity is a huge problem. I felt like some kind of super hero, the way the sparks were constantly shooting out of my fingers.
I totally forgot to mention the snow. There was about three feet of the stuff on the ground. Whatever had fallen since September or so was still there, joined layer-after-layer by new stuff. It was Alaska in January. Of course there was snow. I'd actually been expecting more, but people said it had been a dry Fall.
What got me to thinking about the snow was the seagulls.
You know how, back in the real world, when it snows they plow the parking lots and they usually leave a pile of snow somewhere kind of out of the way? Well, in Anchorage they do the same thing, except the resulting piles of snow are usually two stories tall and fifty feet in diameter.
One day I was standing outside work, smoking a cigarette, and there were some seagulls playing on the wind currents around one such mound. That's the only word to describe it - they were playing. Hovering at the top of the pile, where the wind was strongest, then diving down the other side, sometimes even turning somersaults in the air, and then going back and doing it again and again. It really was a cool thing to watch, and I bet I stayed out there for an hour, wishing I was a bird, because that really looked like fun.
Working all day was, of course, annoying. There I was in fucking Alaska and I couldn't do any sightseeing because it was always dark when I wasn't working. So my excursions to check out the natural beauty of the place would have to wait until the weekend. My weeknights were mostly spent shooting pool at the Billiard Palace. Back then, I would occasionally gamble a few dollars on my pool games. I'd win some and I'd lose some. Mostly I won, I think, except for this one dude who was a lot better than I was but I kept playing him because he was a friendly sort.
Remind me to tell you about all the earthquakes.