Life up North

These days, the weather in Whitehorse barely crests over 10 degrees. At this point I’m having trouble coping with these low positive temperatures, so I can’t even imagine living at 40 below with about 5 hours of daylight would be like. In just a few short months though, this will be the reality for Whitehorse and other northern communities.

It’s got a lot of folks busy doing the last chores for the winter. Wood is being hauled by the truckload, fruits and vegetables are being canned and jarred and folks are stocking their chest freezers full of moose and other meat. All of this keeps things manageable from a money perspective. Wood is cheaper than propane or oil, moose is cheaper than store-bought meat, and the more you do yourself, the less expensive everything can be.

The one thing I never considered though, is how hard it is to actually keep a car going in those temperatures. When it’s 40 below, you can hear your breath because it freezes as you exhale. Imagine what it does to all those fluids in your car! The Firebus would just would not even run!

We’ve learn’t that heaters are standard equipment on all cars of the north (even before they’re sold new). We’re not strangers to the idea because we have lived in snow before, but it was always just a nicety, not a requirement. Pretty much all cars have three heaters in total: a block heater, a battery blanket and an oil pan heater. Though, even this can’t cope with extreme temperatures. In a negative 40 situation, if your car is running and you want to keep it that way, you just don’t turn it off. If you do, you wont get it going again until temps warm up. Crazy thought.

2011 09 21 Three block heater system2011 09 21 Plug inAt the moment, nothing is frozen, although you know its coming. We have been really lucky to hang out with our friend over the past few days and get to see what life is really like out here. We’ve particularly been enjoying the wood burning stove – Andrew’s new favourite thing. He even asked if we could fit one in the van but somehow I don’t think it would be quite the same.

Speaking of the van, we were going to start work on the radiator today but it didn’t quite happen. Today turned out to be one of those days that just didn’t want to end. Work was one thing after the other and we ended up not making it out to the stores before closing. Tomorrow is another day..