Quick cures to combat winter blues

When the fall semester ends, students will either be retreating to Hawaii or to distant relatives in the lower 48. But for the few students that will be staying in Alaska in between fall semester 2008 and spring semester 2009, there must be an array of activities to distract students from the darkness and subzero temperatures. This list has the capability to save a student’s mind from boredom.

Snow creations:

Yes, snow creations; whether it is snow people, epic forts, or snow angels, these child-like projects have the ability to entertain for hours. And feel free to get creative! What limits were imposed as a child are now lifted with better motor skills and stronger limbs. Make warring snow people camps, make ice palaces, or even take a leaf out of the Calvin and Hobbes comics and make creatively destructive snowman scenes.

Photography:

Everyone has a little shutterbug somewhere in them, and if the calling ever comes, winter photography is a good way to eat up time. Whenever a new snowfall comes in or the hoarfrost covers everything like icing, the outdoor scenery is perfect for taking a few pictures, and even though some fingers may get frozen in the process, the creative satisfaction is enough to brighten any gloomy winter day.

Snowboarding and downhill skiing:

With the five star ski resort known as Alyeska a 45 minute drive away, it would be insane to not visit for some mountain carving over break. Ski and snowboard shops dot Anchorage like pimples on a nervous teenager, and mainstream companies lie REI or Sports Authority have a broader selection of fine downhill equipment for those who have none. But for students looking for cheap fun, equipment in the rental shop of the upstairs Student Union is available. Snowboarding and skiing are a great form of exercise and fun for the day, but knowing where to go makes it even better. Hilltop Ski area is an excellent place for beginners and for people looking for a trick park. Alyeska is the home of the pros, and Hatcher’s Pass offers good back country shredding.

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Ice skating:

For those who are looking for something less labor intensive, ice-skating still gets people on their feet and can be done at an indoor or outdoor rink. Again, the Student Union rental shop has skates, but some rinks have their own rental service provided with admission. The Dimond Mall rink is nice enough for maneuvering through little girls in ice princess costumes and jumping over the aggressive five-year-olds in hockey pads, but there are better places such as Westchester Lagoon, Goose Lake, or even the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing:

These winter activity may be underestimated, because snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are true workouts. The cross-country ski trails around Anchorage such as the hillside trailhead or Kincaid are good places to head out and try the sports, and it is truly a work out, so be prepared. Those who take this for a leisurely activity are sadly mistaken. Show shoes and skis are available in all sorts of rental shops including the Student Union. It is also noteworthy to mention that the activities are fun to bring a pet dog along with.

Movies:

If the cold is too much, movies are an excellent way to eat up anyone’s time. There are many theaters in town like the Century 16, Fireweed, or Totem theatre on Muldoon, but there is also the Bear Tooth, which will show movies that do not make it to the big screen and movies that have already left the big theaters. The Bear Tooth also allows food and a drink with the show. If heading out is not what’s in mind, then renting a horde of movies from Blockbuster or elsewhere is a good idea. Movie nights with friends offer all sorts of entertainment, and it is guarded from the frigid outside weather.

Plays and shows:

There is always something happening indoors around Anchorage whether it be a concert, play, comedy show, or anything else. Cyrano’s Off-Center Playhouse is always guaranteed to have a wonderful show playing and tickets usually stay at $15, a surprisingly low price for quality performances. Beyond that there is the Alaska Center for Performing Arts, which offers a more highbrow brand of musicals, symphonies, and opera.

Relaxation:

Certainly to not be forgotten, relaxation can be the best way to spend an afternoon whether it be with a cup of hot chocolate in a Lazy Boy armchair or staying in bed with a book. This is the hard earned break from excruciating finals at school, so sit back and enjoy it while it lasts.

Sledding:

This age old activity can be one intense and wild ride. For those who think sledding is for kids, think again and just try to refuse this golden opportunity. Tucked off the Glenn Highway, there is a one-mile long sledding hill with curves and turns that put it on par with a rollercoaster for fun. Just take the Glenn Highway to the Arctic Valley exit and head east towards the mountains. Go until you pass a pump station, the only building out there, on the left and drop your sledders off at the “biathalon range” sign. The hill is an old road, the new one curving around it, so make sure to have someone waiting with a car at the bottom of the old road to drive you back to the top or for a quick getaway. Other sledding areas include Service High School, Kincaid Park, and any Eagle River neighborhood on the mountain side.