Bonne Année

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Happy New Year, everyone! Ottawa has been a blast – a good late night party last night, and a day of sleep and recovery today. We’re just lazing about watching Super 8 after all-you-can-eat sushi. My New Years goal of getting down to a tentative “goal weight” will begin when we return to Montreal on Tuesday. The food in Ottawa doesn’t conduce itself to dieting.
The weather here has dropped considerably in the last few weeks. It is the rare day that the temperature is above zero. The snow is starting to pile up. Ottawa salts a lot, which I have heard is terrible on your shoes. Luckily it seems Montreal salts less and uses gravel instead. It is more of a pain in the ass for cleaning, but less destructive.
This extreme of cold is something I have never experienced. Thursday afternoon the temperature was -18 Celsius (0 Fahrenheit) and the wind chill dropped it down to -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit). Cold like that causes weird, unexpected changes in your body. A capillary in my nose broke at -15 C, and I had a small nose bleed. My poor west coast nose, what a wuss! Another weird nose-phenomenon: once you hit -10 C, any moisture in your nose freezes when you inhale. Basically it feels like you suddenly have big giant boogers in your nose. So weird.
Last Thursday was the most insane. The locks on the truck froze, and were completely encased in ice. We tried de-icer, then warming them up with a lighter. Note: de-icer is just isopropyl alcohol and ethanol, but even fuel-and-fire didn’t work! Finally, we went to Shaika and got a glass of hot water. Worked like a charm, but froze really quickly afterward. It froze so quickly, in fact, that when we threw the rest of the water out, it froze mid-air!
I’ve handled the cold pretty well, actually. I’ve got these old sweaters my grandmother made many years ago. She was a mountaineer, and the sweaters show she understood what worked for cold. Layered with thermals, a 100% wool coat, hat, scarf, and mittens, and I’m pretty tolerant of everything we’ve encountered so far. The hardest part is the face. Your face gets unbelievably cold. Luckily, after 5 minutes or so, your face is so numb it isn’t a problem.
For someone who hates cold, I am surprisingly not miserable. I would take the -18 C days over the +2 C days, no questions asked. Most days are either sunny and crisp or cloudy and snowy. Even with the gray of the clouds, the snow reflects the light. It’s much less gray than Vancouver. I can feel my body physically reacting to the light. My first winter back in Vancouver is going to be an adjustment.
Tomorrow we’re planning on going rock climbing (indoors of course). We’ll head back to Montreal on Tuesday, as there’s no snow in the forecast. Our windshield wipers are also west coast grade. They will need replacing before we are confident enough to brave the snow and crazy Québécois drivers!
I hope you all had a fun New Years Eve, and I wish you all a prosperous and joyous 2012!
-W-

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