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From time to time, while visiting Flagstaff, Arizona,(*) for Christmas, I would take Kayenta for a walk. Not very often, mind, because she could take care of her needs in the back yard, but she was so used to walks by now that it sometimes seemed like she would explode without one. And since that would have left a terrible mess to clean up, off I went!

Now, when I went to Flagstaff in the winter for the first time, I came prepared. Steeled. Ready to face blizzards, ice and rainbows made of pure snow and hate! You know, the kind of weather I would have expected of a place like Flagstaff. But, none of that; it rained and rained and rained. It rained so much that six houses got washed away further down the mountain. I felt right at home!

Meanwhile, in The Netherlands, it snowed and snowed. Record snowfall was recorded. A once in 50 years experience for some parts of the country. Over 16 inches of snow may not seem like a lot to Flagstaffians, but it brought the nation to a standstill. Fortunately, I was over in sunny (and rainy) Flagstaff. That was good timing for a while, until the weathergods realised Beedoo! was over in Flagstaff again, picked up all their snow and dumped it down on us, where it belonged.

I learned a lot about weather that vacation: for instance, Dutch people think 21 degrees Fahrenheit is incredibly cold, but that's because of the moisture in the air, and the constant wind ready to help you cool down. In Flagstaff I walked through temperatures of -10 degrees Fahrenheit, all the while noticing that this was not the coldest I'd ever been at all. Though it was kind of a novelty to have my nose hairs freeze up.

All in all, it was pretty interesting. Watching how people in Flagstaff dig through the snow with snow shovels (or, in Beedoo!'s dad's fancy case: a snow blower!), or how snow ploughs clear the street. My country came to a standstill, but these guys just got up, got going and had everything running before lunch.

But then, we don't have houses floating down our rivers, do we now? :) (**)

(*) - Beedoo! assures me that comma should be there. I doubt.
(**) - Beedoo! disagrees on account of the fact that we have house boats. "That counts!"

This dragon wasn't even there...

Indeed I wasn't... being either flat on my back with strep, recovering from such, or was just not ready to go when Arno and the dog were.

La Nina brought the Netherlands some really out of the ordinary weather this year, to the point where people were wondering if the Eleven-City-Tour was going to happen; an iceskating event in which participants skate to eleven cities via the ice on the forzen canals. The ice has to be very thick for this, obviously, and the freezing temperature has to hold long enough for the ice to be solid enough and remain so during the duration of the event. Being by the sea means the climate stays warmer than inland, so a freeze this hard is rare. Alas, it apparantly warmed up again once we had left the country, and with one warmish rain, all the snow and ice dissolved, as did all hope of the Elfstedentocht. So, bummer.

The weather in Flagstaff, however, was really out of the norm for me. A few days before Christmas, Arno and I drove to Sedona to see a lighing display at Los Abrigados (Red Rock Fantasy). On the way down, I encountered a huge, thick bank of fog... and fog is one of those things that "just doesn't happen" in Arizona. (And probably not even real fog so much as a cloud that had forgotten a map.) It made for a very tense drive, with hairpin turns and 350-degree curves right beside a very deep canyon outside the window, obscured somewhere ahead of me in the gray blankness. Headlights only penetrated about 20 ft ahead of me. NOT a recommended drive!

On top of that, once we reached Los Abrigados, we learned that the day's rain down there had shorted out most of the light displays. We were told that everything should be fixed by the next night, but we had other plans at that point, and so didn't get back there until after Christmas.

Plus, after that, I had to drive back home through the dense fog bank again, though this time I took the highway through Sedona, and back to Flgstaff up the I-17... which was still harrowing, given the low visibility, but probably faster and safer than the switchbacks.

A few days later, Arno DID get to experience a good, heavy snowfall (about 18" or 40cm total) and got to see his first snowplow, and Dad let him try to use the snowblower, which was also a novelty to him. With the Netherlands rarely getting snow at all, the country doesn't have such things... for one thing, many of the older streets are made of brick and cobbles, and a snowplow would demolish these in an instant (and probably the plow-blade as well!) I think with the snowfalls of the past couple of years, which have taken the country by surprise, they have gotten some snow shovels and road-salt, but a few inches of white stuff still devastates their mass transit system, and much of the country is shut down for the day, whereas the only excuse you have for not arriving to work on time in Flagstaff is that you can't dig your car out by noon. Yay for snow? (I don't care... I still hate the cold either way!)

Continuing with our trend of missing the most extreme weather, we also got out of Flagstaff before a low temperature which tied the record for Flagstaff's all-time low of -30 degrees F! No thank you!