I Survived the Polar Vortex (But Didn’t Even Get a Lousy T-Shirt)

Well, that was fun.

My first Polar Vortex was actually a bit underwhelming. Sure, it was cold. But Rapid City never even dropped below zero. We came close: it was 1° Wednesday morning. When I woke up and looked at the thermometer, I was actually disappointed. Hey, if it’s going to get cold, it might as well get really cold, right?!

I am probably a little nuts.

We were on the western fringes of the Polar Vortex. The farther east you went, the worse it was: Sioux Falls dropped to -25, but that was downright toasty compared to places in Minnesota and Wisconsin. It’s safe to say we dodged a bullet here in western South Dakota! That didn’t stop concerned friends and family from checking in on us, which was certainly appreciated. I almost felt like I was letting them down by telling them Rapid City hadn’t even touched zero.

One thing we did not miss out on: frozen bubbles! Tara and I had seen pics of this phenomenon and were determined to create our own. A little Google sleuthing (Googleuthing?) told us that temperatures needed to be “well below freezing” and ideally “in the single digits or below zero F” for bubbles to freeze before they pop. Armed with this knowledge, we bundled up as though preparing for the Iditarod and stepped onto the front porch in the frigid dawn cold yesterday, cameras in hand, fingers exposed and numb, with vials of store-bought and homemade bubble solution. It was worth the near-frostbite, though!

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Things are back to normal today. In fact, our high temperature will be pushing 60° by Friday. And back down to 20° by Monday, but we’re getting used to these wild swings by now. If Polar Vortex II does show up next week, I want to emulate another popular video I’ve seen circulating by throwing boiling water into the air and watching it vaporize into instant snow.

Who says cold weather is no fun?!


I am thinking about a new mode of transportation to compensate for the wintry driving conditions here, but I’m not sure how seriously I’m actually considering it. When the weather is dry and warm, as it’s forecast to be the next few days, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But when it turns snowy and icy again – and it always turns snowy and icy again – I start to think, yeah…this hatchback ain’t cuttin’ it as my tires struggle for traction and I start fishtailing.

As much as I’d love to buy a Jeep Wrangler, I’d have to sell a kidney in order to afford one and I’d rather hold onto all my major organs, thankyouverymuch. I’m thinking about a Mazda CX3 instead; it’s got AWD, has excellent gas mileage for an SUV, and I could take advantage of all kinds of customer loyalty rewards and trade-in points for my Mazda 3. If I’m going to pull the trigger, now’s the time to do so, when I’m essentially bringing home two paychecks at a time. But…I don’t know. When the weather’s bad, we carpool in Tara’s 4WD pickup. And ironically, the more money I have, the less eager I am to spend it – especially when there are credit cards bills to pay a house to save up for. I  can relate a little now to those cheap bastards you hear about who have worn thrift-store clothing, driven clunky old beaters, and recycled Saran Wrap all their lives, whose relatives have been shocked to discover, when they die, millions of dollars in their bank accounts they have been squirreling away all their lives. Not that I’d ever go to such extremes myself, because hey – you can’t take it with you! Also: I’m a solid $996,000 away from having that problem.

In all likelihood, it’s going to take a dramatic incident to spur me into action, like sliding into a ditch or something.

KNOCK ON WOOD.

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9 thoughts on “I Survived the Polar Vortex (But Didn’t Even Get a Lousy T-Shirt)

  1. I’m not sure how cold it got here. The lowest I saw on my car thermometer was -4 during the day. We had our bathroom vanity doors open, as we’ve had frozen pipes in the past. Thankful nothing has ever burst.

    But yeah, a few donuts in the road and you realize AWD is a must. We are on our third Honda CRV and are fairly happy with them (a few minor issues). My oldest has a Nissan Rogue and has had problems with a/c and starter, so I wouldn’t recommend that. If you can get by with carpooling with Tara, then I guess I’d wait if out!

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    • I will probably wait until after we buy a house at this point – a new car would count more against our DTI numbers. But I reserve the right to change my mind should the weather really take a turn for the worse!

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  2. Glad you survived. So sorry for your disappointed (admittedly, I’d feel the same). Thanks for the bubble pics. That’s pretty cool. I’m one of those cheap bastards, but don’t see myself having absurd wealth when I die either. Good luck on the car-buying decision.

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  3. Mark, your frozen bubble pictures are AMAZING. WOW! I’ve never seen anything like it. I had no idea that bubbles would freeze in extremely cold temps. VERY cool!

    Yeah, we were supposed to get very cold temps yesterday, but it didn’t get nearly as cold as what was predicted. However, you would have sworn that it was Antarctica the way most of the Philly people were bitching and moaning, “OMG…is sooooooooo cold, I can’t stand this!” Meanwhile, I was outside all day basking in the glorious 12 degree weather; wishing it were colder.

    Same here, later next week temps are expected to go back up into the 60’s. This has been the strangest winter.

    I don’t own a car, but when I did, I always bought a used car with a monthly payment of no more than $200.00. I’m one of those (cheap) people who never saw the point in buying a new car and then having payments that were almost the price of my apartment rental. I never cared if the car only lasted me 2-3 years because I’d usually have it paid off by then.

    Have a FAB weekend, my friend!

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    • “Glorious 12 degree weather.” Ha! You crack me up, my friend. And I happen to agree with you! (So long as the wind isn’t blowing, of course).

      Hope you’re enjoying your weekend. I would imagine it’ll be much quieter out your way for the Super Bowl this year.

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  4. I’m glad ya’ll survived!! I’ve been feeling a little guilty because we used to live in Minnesota before moving to Florida, so while all our friends have been turning into icicles, we’ve been complaining about the “cold” here (it’s been in the low 60’s this week).

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    • That just goes to show how it’s all a matter of perspective. There’s a chance it might snow back in Portland today and tonight and it’s funny to see how everybody goes into panic mode when out here, we just call it a typical Monday. Enjoy your FL warmth!

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