The saying goes that everyone gets the same amount of ice. The thing is, the rich get theirs in the summer, and the poor get theirs in the winter.

I’ve also heard it said that in Texas, summer is what we endure to get the mild winters we experience.

My wife and I are back home now in overheated Texas, but after taking a June vacation in Alaska and Canada, it’s my conclusion that the permanent residents of those northern climes have much the same attitude about extreme weather conditions. They endure their frigid winters in order to enjoy the mild summers.

I guess it’s a mixture of opportunity, fate, and perhaps even choice that determine where you call home.

That’s not to say Texans must venture that far north to escape the heat. For example, on Tuesday morning this week, the temperature in Butte, Montana, was 11 degrees cooler than it was in Anchorage, Alaska — 46 to 57 degrees. Much closer to home, and I know “closer” is relative, morning and afternoon temperatures in the mountains of New Mexico, with elevations near 9,000 feet, frequently match those in Alaska towns near sea level.

Before I make this statement, I must remind myself that I’m still basking in the memory of 10 days with lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s. But truly, folks, the conditions here have been brutal. I hope you’re staying safe outside.

Even so, our bodies adapt. Every spring after one of our “mild” Central Texas winters, I sometimes wonder how I’m going to cope with 100-degree-plus temperatures when 85 seems hot. Then July and August roll around, and I’m dealing with it. We race from our air-conditioned houses to our air-conditioned vehicles, and then to our air-conditioned offices or stores. Many have outside jobs, and various coping mechanisms help prevent heat-related ailments.

Eventually though, seasons change and temperatures drop. Without your car’s air-conditioner on high, the radio can be heard again.

You have to really want to get to our 49th state if you’re traveling by vehicle. It’s not direct, and it’s not necessarily easy, although the tour guides we encountered who drive that route round-trip every year say the highways are much improved over what motorists found a generation ago. It also takes a major investment in time. The quicker modes of transportation are by air and by sea.

In fact, if you’re going to Juneau, the state’s capital, air and sea are the only ways to get there. A proposed highway between Juneau and Skagway has been slowed by environmental studies, until more recently it was shelved due to budgetary constraints.

Stops at those cities, along with others on the touristy Inside Passage, were included in the cruise we took with several other couples sharing ties to Howard Payne University. It was our first cruise, and first visit to Alaska and Canada, and our many friends who’ve been before were right.

Everything they said about taking a cruise was true, and the scenery was breathtaking. Likewise, while the people we met along the way are dependent on tourists for their livelihoods, they were universally happy to see us.

There was one negative. A store in Ketchikan featured a T-shirt with the silhouette of Texas overwhelmed by its placement inside that of Alaska, with the question, “Isn’t Texas cute?”

They didn’t have to rub it in.


Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at