Five tips for any Floridian heading into the freezing cold
I've had the very fun opportunity this week of reporting on the presidential caucus craziness in Iowa for PolitiFact. Stationed in the capital of Des Moines, our three-person team has hit the (sometimes icy and very scary) road to see Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Carly Fiorina beg Iowa voters for their support in person.
I wasn't nervous about any of that before the trip. But two words made me verrrry uneasy: "6 degrees."
When the captain of my plane out of St. Petersburg announced the on-the-ground temperature, somebody actually booed at the cockpit. You could tell the plane was chock-full of Midwesterners coming off toasty family vacations. They knew what waited for them in Iowa, and I did not. This Florida-born woman only felt panic, and it showed: I went through TSA security in not one but down jackets, a puffy vest, and tights under my skinny jeans, even though the weather outside was in the 60s, as in Iowa's weather multiplied by 10.
YES, I AM INSANE. But you know what? I managed to pass TSA scrutiny AND stay warm as the snow came down. So I thought that made me enough of an expert to come up with some tips for any native Floridian heading into the cold prairie tundra.
You have friends from not-here, right? Use them. And by that I mean meekly explain you're heading to Iowa, and you're very nervous about freezing to death. If they are true Midwesterners, they will immediately offer anything they can to help you not die. For this five-day trip, I borrowed two winter coats, two thermal long-sleeved shirts, a hot pink puffy vest, a man's pair of wool socks, a knit hat and an Under Armor cap, and two pairs of gloves. Everyone recommended fleece-lined leggings, but I did not pick those up in time.
2. CLOTHING IS LIKE CAKE
The more layers, the better. Haha, Katie, duh, Katie, you might be saying. Not so fast! As I type this, I am wearing red tights with silver leggings over them (which I put on after showering, thus earning my trip to the Olympics, see you in Rio), and a thermal shirt with a sweater dress over that. Oh, and some thin cozy socks over that inside my boots. And that's just for indoors! It's *warmed up* to the 20s today, so I am wearing my cute knit headband over my ears instead of full cap coverage, and I have a vest and wool coat (which I love because it has a hood and hits my thighs instead of stopping at the waist) over that. Max warmth!
A couple days ago, it was super-duper cold, around 10 degrees. I know I looked silly Tuesday wearing two hoods with two caps, but my head didn't freeze and fall off next to a statue of John Wayne near his birthplace in Winterset, Iowa.
3. BLANKET SCARF
One helpful item I brought from my own closet is a cozy blanket scarf I got for Christmas. It's a huge, soft, um, navy plaid blanket that you're supposed to fold into a, um, scarf. I haven't figured out how to do that, because I am lazy and would rather complain. I can tell you, though, that the wearable blanket has kept me warm on car rides and stuffed around my neck in the parking lot of a Pizza Ranch.
One way to not look dead: Take the time to enliven your lips. It looks so perky against a grey backdrop. I haven't been good about this, but my stylish reporting colleague Lauren Carroll has been putting me to shame with her Mac Ruby Woo lipstick. She said she tried all of the $2 lipsticks at the drug store before finding the shade she wanted, which she then brought it to the Mac counter for a match.
5. REMEMBER THIS LINE
Of all the things I'm wearing, I think I wear "I'm from Florida!" the best. This disclosure goes a long way in helping kind Iowans understand my wintery cluelessness.