The timing couldn't have been better. The conference was at the same time as Fur Rendezvous, known as Fur Rondy. It is a 10-day winter festival held in Anchorage every February. It was started in the 1930s to give the residents of Alaska some social fun and was scheduled to coincide with when the trappers and miners came to town with their yields. Since then it has grown bigger and more popular. So while Tim worked each day, Kaylee and I took advantage of all the festivities.
Saturday, Feb 21, we attended the parade, which was right outside our hotel. I have never been to a colder parade in my life. We were completely bundled up, winter coats, hats, gloves, and still freezing. I found it amusing to look around at all of us "crazy Alaskans" who will come out to a parade in freezing temperatures just for fun. I'm glad I wasn't marching in the parade; some of the uniforms and outfits didn't look very warm. I think most people who march in parades worry about overheating, not hypothermia.
Alaska is a small state: not geographically, but socially. When we returned from the ice skating performance and got back to our hotel room, I looked out of the window just in time to see our former neighbor/coworker from Togiak crossing the street. I wasn't quick enough to open the window and yell down to Mike, but I texted him and he came to visit us that evening. This was not the first time that we have run into someone who lives in Alaska, but hundreds of miles away from us.
That afternoon we walked around downtown and found ourselves in the middle of a full-on carnival, with rides and funnel cakes and everything. I laughed to myself as I watched the kids all bundled up in their winter coats waiting in line for a ride and then trying to get buckled into the ride with all those puffy extra layers on.
We were able to watch the blanket toss while at the carnival. A native man was there with a big blanket made out of leather. It was constructed and used a lot like the parachutes we used to play with in elementary school. The man would yell for volunteers to pull until there were enough people surrounding the blanket and holding onto it. He would then make them practice saying 1, 2, 3, together and pulling on the blanket on each count. He then let the kids line up and one by one they climbed on the blanket and were tossed high into the air on "3".
Monday I took Kaylee shopping. One thing about living in the bush is you have to take advantage of your shopping opportunities when they come. Afterward we headed to the zoo. I don't know why, but I've always wanted to go to the Anchorage Zoo. I pretended we were going for Kaylee, but really we were going for me. Unfortunately it was on 10 degrees Fahrenheit at the zoo and we were freezing. The zoo was nearly empty and of course all outdoors. Kaylee cried much of the time, I'm sure because she was too cold. My fingers and toes felt like they would fall off. Kaylee did like the snow leopard though and it was cool to see some polar bears.
We had lunch at McDonalds. Kaylee had never been there before and it was fun to order her a happy meal. Although she only ate some fries and that was about it. When we got back to the hotel I took her swimming in the pool. It was also her first time in a pool. She seemed a bit nervous. I'm not sure if it was the size of the pool or that she didn't like the cold water, but we had a great time playing in the hot tub.