In preparation for his trip into Fairbanks, G-Man headed off into Manley to gas up Sonja. Just a short little trip because we had to do a massive deadite patrol so I'd have plenty of firewood while he was gone. Maybe an hour… 90 minutes, tops, since the weather was getting bad.
Well, I puttered about the 'Stead moving lumber, clearing out stumps that keep trying to kill us, and basically tidying up the bucking area so it would be safer for me to buck a wahootey-load of deadites while he was away. It's a bit brisk outside and it's snowing a little. An hour goes by and I'm not too concerned. Two hours go by and I'm starting to get a little worried (and running out of piddly chores to do). Three hours go by and I go inside to check on Charlie, feed the fire, and get some hot coffee to warm up before striking off into the woods to get trees by myself.
I no sooner throw some logs on the fire and pour my coffee and WHAM! I get a horrible sense of foreboding. It's snowing pretty hard by now and visibility is low. Gungnir has already wiped out on that road once and, with the weather being bad, not too many people are out driving. If he'd ditched it somewhere, it could be hours before anyone found him.
So I filled the stove to brimming and banked the fire down, then threw on a few extra layers of clothes and started Willow up. Now, keep in mind that I have not ever actually driven Willow before… hand-operated vehicles and I do not get along. Frankly, driving a 4-wheeler down a country road when it's 20-odd degrees out and blustery is not my idea of safe entertainment. I did have the presence of mind to wear my bright green coat and my flaming red head sock to hopefully improve anyone's ability to see me on the road. I also grabbed the goggles because, unlike Gungnir, I don't like the feel of my eyeballs freezing.
I trundle my way towards town, freezing my freakin' butt off (well, my hands more than my butt), scanning the road for any signs of an accident or someone wiping out into the trees. Nothing. Just tooling along at 20 mph was causing me mortal terror (really, I am petrified driving motorcycles and ATVs). Every mile I contemplated just turning around and going home. Maybe he was just visiting someone in town. But, no, he knew we had stuff to do before he left town... so I soldiered on. Maybe he was wrecked just around the next bend or just another mile away.
I make it into Manley without seeing him on the road or in anyone's driveway. I stop in at the Trading Post (cum Post Office, cum Gas Station) to regain some feeling in my hands and to check if anyone had even seen him come in earlier. Yes, he'd been there, a couple of hours ago. I couldn't think of who he'd be visiting that I hadn't passed on the way in; so once my hands thawed out, I struck off back home. Good news, the snow was letting up… bad news, it was letting up because it was getting too cold to snow anymore.
On the way back, risk of frostbite and hypothermia overruled any of my normal vehicular concerns. I was cranking along at 40mph (about the speed when I start to lift off the seat) and kept praying that I'd either see G-man just ahead or he'd catch up with me… anything, just let me get inside somewhere warm! But no dice… I made it all the way home, expecting him to be waiting for me, but the driveway was empty. My hands were so cold that I could barely get the keys out of the ignition or get the tent open. I fumbled with the damper and opened the firebox to let the fire blaze full blast… which only served to make my hands go from numb to screaming in agony. I swear to God, it felt like someone had smashed my hands with a sledgehammer. I knew I had to get my gloves off so my hands would warm up, but I couldn't make my fingers work and I was afraid to bite the fingertips of the gloves to yank them off since I couldn't tell if I had frost bite or not. I just curled them up to my chest and started crying.
And that's when G-man pulls up outside. Seems that he'd stopped in to ask Jimmy a quick question and got trapped in a long-winded conversation. He was surprised to find that I'd driven into town on Willow looking for him because I was worried… he just figured that I'd started cutting down trees and was crying because I'd mangled myself on something. I guess my concern touched him because he helped me get my gloves and cold clothes off and put on warm ones, then made me some coffee while I shivered for about an hour… yes, I was mildly hypothermic; but, no, I didn't have frostbite.
So, let it be known to all who might doubt it, that I do love my husband enough to risk life, limb and freezing temperatures just because I'm worried about his safety.
Note to self: wear the arctic mittens next time, or get some heated riding gloves! Definitely bring more HotSnapz.