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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

40 below: what it feels like



Landing in Cleveland Monday after a nonstop USA3000 flight from the Dominican Republic was an abrupt reminder that Northeast Ohio is snow country. As we left, a small band serenaded us beneath the Punta Cana airport's palm trees. As the plane swung over downtown three hours later it was easy to tell some of my fellow passengers had never seen snow before. The landscape below was white, vast Lake Erie had already begun to freeze and winter was not yet even three weeks old.
For them winter was probably as much a shock as my wintertime visit to northern Minnesota a few years ago. I had hoped to go dogsledding and winter camping, but when I arrived in Duluth it was 40 below and the plans were canceled. We were told that it was just too cold to assure our safety. The condensation from breathing can result in wetness even inside an igloo.. and moisture can be a killer at 40 below.
"Temperatures like this sure cut down on the riff-raff," said one native. Cars not kept in good running order aren't shelter for very long if they break down, he explained. And those who go out without a hat, coat, gloves and scarf will very quickly have frostbite on any exposed skin.
Parking places have outlets to plug in the car battery to keep it from freezing, and entryways everywhere have vestibules with doors on each end to keep the cold from entering the interior space.
My nose tickled in even the quickest walk from the car.
At 40 below, my nose-hairs froze.
Until I learned to cover up my entire face with my scarf it kept happening. My scarf captured my warm breath and kept my face from feeling so cold, but billowed up from underneath.
And then my eyelashes froze, and my eyebrows became frosted.
Today's Cleveland temperatures are balmy by comparison. But I'm betting those folks from the Dominican Republic don't think so.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Janet's observations are always fun. I'm amazed at what she puts herself through in the name of travel writing. I'm happy to just read about it in my nice warm, comfy chair.

January 15, 2009 at 8:58 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We folks in Florida don't think Cleveland temps are balmy either. I'm putting on long sleeves when it's 70 degrees.

January 16, 2009 at 10:07 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will never forget that sensation of feeling the inside walls of my nose freeze on the intake and unfreeze on the exhale. That was a great descriptor for the 40 below experience.

January 16, 2009 at 11:16 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, this most certainly makes me feel glad to live in the South!!! I'm sending this to my cousin down in the Islands. She & her friends will definitely appreciate this!!!

January 16, 2009 at 2:00 PM 
Anonymous Tango. said...

I visited Minneapolis once, and wondered at the "human habitrails" that linked many of the buildings downtown.
40 below is a good reason to have things like that!

January 16, 2009 at 3:28 PM 
Anonymous Jordan said...

I'm from the Northeast originally, and I remember growing up with winter like that. I even miss them, living down South. I guess I'm still a Northerner at heart.

January 16, 2009 at 4:38 PM 
Anonymous Tama said...

One of my friends was just in Montreal where it was -30 and he was not happy. He hates the cold so much that when he was leaving home to go to college and then to find a job, he only applied to schools and for jobs where it was warm. That was how he came to live in Florida after growing up in Colorado.

January 17, 2009 at 10:14 AM 
Anonymous Ann said...

I know that recently you went to the Dominican Republic. Have you been to Santo Domingo on a past trip? That seems an interesting place from what I have seen on the Travel Channel.

January 18, 2009 at 9:16 AM 
Blogger News-Herald Blogs said...

No ann, I haven't been to santo domingo. This was my first trip to the Dominican Republic. I'd just finished reading "The Brief & Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," which is partially set in the DR, so I had few expectations. Others among the writers joining me on this visit went to Santo Domingo for the day, but since it is a 3 hour one-way trip from Punta Cana and I had just 36 hours for this visit, I chose to stay in that area . I hope to go back and experience more
Janet

January 18, 2009 at 10:56 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Janet Podolak's one-of-a-kind insight in all of her writing, especially when globetrotting to places most people never dream of seeing, seems to be the only rewarding reading in this newspaper.

Her style of bringing each subject or place to the reader's eyes and imagination -- exactly what local newspapers need to delay their deserved demise -- is unnmatched by any other writer in Cleveland.

The overkill of inauguration coverage, coupled with the endless, pointless drivel every week in News-Herald writers' Sunday columns, must reflect the rudderless leadership of the paper.

Why not move more of Janet's work to the front page and give readers a diversion from the carousel of politics, government analysis and bad news, for which there is no shortage on cable news 24/7?

Thank you, Janet for being you, enduring the dumbing-down of journalism around you, and reflecting the heart of every community in which you set foot -- whether in Northeast Ohio or halfway around the world.

Write on!

January 18, 2009 at 7:59 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that you have this blog online so I am able to keep up with my home town and your adventures even tho I have moved away. Just reading your story about the cold makes me remember how cold it gets up north! Brrr

January 21, 2009 at 8:31 AM 

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