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Snowmachining while social distancing

Stories and Updates

A lot has happened since my last blog post. The University of Alaska Fairbanks extended spring break by a full week and made the decision to finish the rest of the semester virtually due to COVID-19. All students had to move out of the residence halls, which meant I had to move out of my Cutler apartment, but I was set on staying in Alaska until August.

When I first found that I had to move out, I was worried because I wanted to stay in Alaska but was not entirely sure where I was going to go. I have some distant relatives up here that I have spent some time with, but I was not sure if they would be willing to host me for a couple of months. Luckily, I was able to stay with some of them for a little while. With everything going on, knowing that I have to isolate and stay inside without seeing people, I figured that I would rather be stuck in a house in Alaska than back home in Minnesota. Plus, I can still go outside and experience Alaska, even though I cannot see people from outside of my house.

I had some last plans with a few friends before they all left campus. That was honestly what I was the most upset about. I had quite literally just started to make friends and I did not even get two weeks to get to know them. I ended up having a really fun last night with a few of my friends. I am going to try my best to stay in touch with all of them over social media. I have video chatted some of them multiple times already in less than a week. Some of them are still in Fairbanks, but others are in Anchorage and Sitka and various other places. They are all still within the state, but Alaska is not like Minnesota. It is a lot bigger, so it is kind of like if you are in Minnesota and you have a friend in Detroit. You’re going to be driving for a while or taking three plane rides.

I am hoping that all of the craziness with COVID-19 passes by at least midsummer so that I can try to go visit some of my friends around Alaska. It is looking like I cannot even visit Minnesota when I was planning because of all of the restrictions in place until further notice, so I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to travel within Alaska in a few months from now.

In the meantime, I have been practicing social distancing. A really great way that Alaskans can do that, according to my cousin, is snowmachining. I said in my last post that I was hoping to have another weekend getaway and I was able to have a trip to Cantwell which is about two and a half hours south of Fairbanks. We went out snowmachining with friends for about four hours. I drove my own machine and it was an incredible experience.

There were a few times where our speed got to over fifty miles per hour and it was exhilarating. I was driving pretty well and it may have gone to my head a little bit and not to be dramatic, but I almost died. The first time I was going too fast over some bumps in the trail and lost control of the snowmachine and drove into some small trees. I came out with some pretty sick battle scars; a few big bruises, and a gash on my leg on top of a goose egg of a bruise.

Having learned from the first accident, I slowed down to go over the next large bump in the trail, but right after the bump was a mound of snow that I did not see. It acted sort of as a ramp for the snowmachine and I was thrown off into the air. I flew about eight feet high and fifteen feet forward. Luckily snow is very forgiving and I did not use my hands or arms to break my fall so I came out of that one almost completely unscathed other than a small bruise on my rear.

I enjoyed experiencing more of Alaska with my relatives and their friends. I do feel kind of cheated out of an amazing experience this semester at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, so I have decided that I am going to come back up for another semester on exchange in spring 2021. I look forward to the rest of the time that I will get to spend in Alaska and to the time in the future when I get to come back and see it all again. Even though we have to be quarantined and stay away from “outsiders,” there is still plenty to do here that I think will be able to keep me occupied when I am not busy with school work. All in all, this COVID-19 situation really stinks but I am going to try to make the best of it since I am in Alaska!

Submitted by Sarah Staedy

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