Icy challenges & warm friends

The half-filled ice rink in our backyard. Just another few thousand gallons of water to go.

Dear determined reader,

I have come to an important realization — trying to build an ice rink when you haul water is a little insane.

Two hundred gallons seems like a lot of water until you dump it out of the tank in the back of the truck and into the 20×22-foot boarded ice rink. Then it looks like a couple of gallons, a couple of gallons that is leaking out the seams in the plastic.

But, crazy as it sounds, we are undeterred.Ā  Sam sealed the seams with slushy water that quickly turned to ice in the subzero temperatures, and the 200 gallons last night actually stayed inside the rink.

Later in the evening, I made the spirit-crushing error of looking online at instructions for building your own outdoor rink. We seemed to be right on track — build a frame, line it with plastic … then fill it with 12,000 gallons of water. TWELVE THOUSAND GALLONS! Let’s see. We get 200 gallons for $5 each fill and a 60-mile roundtrip drive, so we should have it done in about two months, 3,600 miles, and $300, not including gas for the truck. Brilliant!

Thankfully, our rink is small compared to the ones described online. I’m hoping that with another 1,000 gallons and a few more weeks, we might be able to strap on the skates. Fingers crossed.

I also came to another important realization — your comments on my blog make me happy, even as an ice rink sits like a half-finished, frozen curse in our backyard.

This last week, I heard from friends and neighbors Mr. Baer, Mr. Jim, and fellow Alaska authors AdriAnne Strickland and Vivian Faith Prescott — who all agreed that the weather has been chilly up here.

Bunny boots

But I also heard from Sarah in London, who says November has been mild, and from Mrs. Penfold in Australia, who wondered what kind of boots we must wear to keep our feet warm. (Many Alaskans love “bunny boots,” military-style winter boots made of white rubber. Myself, I prefer Sorel boots and SmartWool socks.)

And earlier in the week I had comments from Portland, Melbourne, Chickaloon, Palmer, Chicago, and Buffalo. It really is a delight to hear from all of you!




17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mr. Jim
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 13:46:42

    …and you live how far from an existing lake for skating? Just wondering.

  2. Mr. Baer
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 14:05:55

    I’ve always been of the mind that Chickaloon has an abundance of off the wall characters. Not that this is bad, as it reinforces the mind sets of the lower valley population to beware of the Chickaloonies and I like to keep this wonderful place to our select few. Congratulations, you have just gone over the top (or edge) with the ice rink!

  3. Nathan Dunbar
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 16:08:42

    And more from Chicago… šŸ˜‰ We’ve had great weather so far, staying in the 40s and 50s all month so far. I haven’t even turned my heat on yet!

  4. Vivian Faith Prescott
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 16:19:02

    Some day your children will laugh and talk about the winter you all built the ice rink. Yes, you’re insane but it makes for a good memory. And as far as boots go, my XtraTuffs have a crack in them (because they were in a box for nearly two years while we were living in Puerto Rico) so I’ve been wearing my Keen hiking shoes with wool socks. I need new boots!

    • Eowyn Ivey
      Nov 22, 2011 @ 07:15:08

      I love Keens, too. And yes, I think you’re right — our two daughters will surely remember their crazy parents trying to make an ice rink šŸ™‚

  5. Sue Mathis
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 18:29:47

    Your ice rink is twice as big as the one we had. I think ours was about 15X15. We have a well, so hauling water wasn’t necessary, that made it a lot easier. We also didn’t frame ours or put plastic sheeting under it. There was a pretty big and even indentation in the ground, so we waited till the ground was frozen enough and set the garden hose in it. It worked out just great for Lydia and her friend, but they were pretty little. No grown ups out there taking up space!!!! Good luck with yours!!!

  6. A Baer
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 20:39:24

    When your daughters are your age, they will remember having an ice rink around their house, just as you did. Then when they attempt to build it, the realization will come that such a project may be entirely more work than they want. Thus the cycle continues…

  7. Betty Rachel
    Nov 21, 2011 @ 21:17:20

    You could rent that out for ice time and recoup your costs! BTW – your house looks amazing! Can’t wait to see the inside.

  8. sarah davis
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 00:38:32

    wow such hard work but it will be fantastic once it is done. Many thanks for the information on footwear very interesting. Life is so different in Alaska than it is here in London

  9. sarah davis
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 00:39:57

    oh i forgot to mention i lent my copy of the ‘snow child’ to one of my colleagues who is a childrens librarian and she loved it! Best wishes Sarah

  10. Eowyn Ivey
    Nov 22, 2011 @ 07:12:12

    Mr. Baer and Mr. Jim — Just wait. Once the rink is done, we’ll host an amazing sledding/ice skating party, just feet away from a warm house and cold beer. And I wonder who might show up? Some of those crazy retired Fish and Game guys from Sutton and Chickaloon šŸ™‚

  11. Trackback: Catching up « Letters from Alaska
%d bloggers like this: