Daydreaming Away the Dog Days

Author: Alecia Pirulis

Denali National Park

It’s mid-August in Atlanta, with a string of record-breaking 100-degree temperatures to show for it. As the dog days of summer drag on, I’m daydreaming of cooler places …

International Falls, Minnesota … as I type, it is a refreshing 64 degrees in this quaint town on the Canadian border. International Falls sits on the shores of Rainy Lake, a large lake popular for ice fishing. Voyageurs National Park is the nation’s only lake-based national park and contains over 200,000 acres of lake and islands. During winter, this is a great place for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. International Falls is nicknamed the “Icebox of the Nation.” The average temperature is a downright chilly 36 degrees. Imagine snowshoeing through the six miles of trails in Voyageurs National Park … eagles soaring overhead, the distant call of a wolf in the background, and a moose standing majestically in the falling snow.

If you still aren’t reaching for a sweater, let’s move on to Alaska – specifically, to the farthest northern point a person can reach and still be within the United States … Barrow, Alaska. It is a downright brisk 43 degrees in Barrow right now, and the average temperature for August is 44 degrees. The record high in Barrow? A whopping 73 degrees set back in 1923. Barrow is a small, seaside community, located on the Chukchi Sea. Barrow is polar bears, icebergs, fishing boats, and acres of beautiful, snowy landscape. Put on your snowshoes and gloves and explore this amazing location of whales, archeological sites, and beautiful ocean views.

Fairbanks is another cool Alaskan city, with an average temperature of 36 degrees. Today it is 61 degrees – but Fairbanks weather is extreme, and it can reach 90 degrees in the summer. During winter, it can reach -50 degrees. (Yes, that’s 50 degrees below zero.) And the rainfall average is less than 10 inches a year. Fairbanks is northern lights, midnight sun, and glaciers. It is a beautiful area just two hours from Denali National Park, right in the heart of Alaska.

Imagine standing in front of an eight-foot block of ice carved into an intricately-detailed mermaid statue … or dueling knights on horses … or King Kong. The absolutely amazing displays can be seen every March at the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, where you can also enjoy ice slides or catch a live show on the ice stage.

Someplace you’ll need a just sweater — and not a parka — in August? Okay, dialing it back just a little … how about Grand Forks, North Dakota? It can reach 80 degrees in the summer, but there are theaters and galleries, shops and restaurants to enjoy. It is consistently ranked one of the most livable cities in the country, and is one of the safest and least expensive places to live. There are farmer’s markets, Red River State Recreation Area, museums, antique stores, historic sites, and a great little downtown to explore. And in winter – eight miles of cross-country ski trails and several snow-mobile trails.

There, that was refreshing … now it’s back to warm Georgia sunshine, ice-cold lemonade on wide front porches, paddle fans, balmy breezes, pecan pralines, and peaches. Because even as I plan my virtual vacation to someplace cool, it’s always nice to find a way back home.