I have mentioned more than once on this blog how much I prefer Washington state weather over the rest of the country (especially where its way to hot and way to humid most of the time (Georgia for ex)). I can ride year round, summer, though too hot for my liking, doesnt melt me, and winters, though chilly, can be survived with just a heavy windbreaker and a gortex hat.
I do need to now offer a clarification, it’s the western Washington weather I like so much!
To explain I should describe Washington State. The state is split in two by the Cascade mountains shown by the red oval on the map below.
On the west side where I live, we have the Puget Sound (red rectangle above), an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, which helps keep our temps moderate year round. The mountains help hold the clouds, which act as a blanket at night, and the sound keeps us warmer in the winter. So even with this arctic blast hitting the nation, the Seattle area is not being hit that hard.
However, this week I am in Spokane, in the far east of the state far away from Puget Sound. Folks, let me tell you, it is pretty
However, it is BUTT biting cold!
Add to it constant 15 – 20 mile an hour winds, and the windchill is down to almost zero! At high noon, with the sun out, it is tolerable hell, even comfy, but here it starts getting dark at 330, so the temps drop early. It was 23 degrees by the time I got to the hotel from work today!
You might be thinking “DUDE? Your website is mountainstroh.com, what the hell are you doing complaining about the cold??”
Well, I’ll tell you. I did come prepared! For the last 8 years I have had a softshell jacket made by Mountain Hardwear. I have had many winter trips to Spokane, to the mountains and epic snowfalls in Seattle, and that jacket has carried me through thick and thin. But all week I’ve been hearing how cold it will be. So I went for the layering system, adding a thick REI vest to it. The combination of the two, zipped up, keeps me toasty.
I also brought Mountain Hardwear gloves, and for once threw in something warmer than a baseball cap. (Our buddy Sean got this for me!)
I was rarin to go! BRING IT!
So, last night, I finished a GREAT meal at the Italian Kitchen (I think I am going there too often, all the servers know me, and wonder where I’ve been the last week!) I left , turned the corner and walked into the intense headwind! WOW that was cold!
No worries! I just need to zip up the coat all the way. So I went to do so and heard “SNAP!”
Yep, after 8 years it gave up the ghost… The zipper broke. Now, in the past, I have had the pull break, and more than once I have used a paperclip threaded into the zipper slide to work for months. On this jacket, it was the SLIDE itself that broke, sheared clean off! I am able to still zip it, but it aint easy. DAMN! Loved that coat!
In the past it would not have been to big a deal, I always had 3 or 4 coats stashed in the hiking backpack. However, over the years, these have been pilfered by the Manchild and Mathmajor, and subsequently lost in the black hole that is middle and high school. Consequently, there is no back up coat any more.
Well, I got the zipper up, and started into the wind again, cussing a bit, when I felt the face start to go numb! The head was warm, but the face was taking the brunt of the wind. Yep by the time I got home my teeth were almost chattering!
OK, time to fall back on superior fire power and warmer clothes! It was time to stop at the local mountaineering store (GOTTA love Washington, there’s always, a mountaineering store close by, maybe not as common as Starbucks, but at least as common as Krispy Kreme donuts and MUCH healthier for you!)
Now normally I am a cheap bastard, but not when it comes to coats, I only go go for the best. Looking at what they had, it was just too rich for my blood right now, especially since I can still make the jacket work, so I skipped getting a new coat. I will admit though, I did look long and hard at this:
I am not sure Michelle woulda let me out in public if I bought it! But, I think I’d need it if I wanted to bike commute in this weather!
I did address the issue of the face freeze though, which can even happen on the bike ride home in Seattle this time of year. Once again Mountain Hardwear comes through!
On the way back, I decided it was a night to stay in and stay war,. I got a subway sandwich, a bottle of water, went home and hit the gym for 40 minutes. Since then I’ve been sitting on my ass in the room, toasty warm, and not even thinking about the cold outside (though I can hear the wind blowing).
It will colder as the week goes on, but I feel ready to deal with it. It just makes me appreciate MUCH more where I live. However, I will survive coldmageddon 2014, and have to just say “Bring it on!! Takes more than cold and wind to stop me!” (Of course the heated drivers seat in the rental car is NOT a bad thing on the way to work…..)