Augustine let off a little steam today, prompting a rush of calls to the Homer Tribune in the late afternoon. After about a half dozen calls I could practically hear my co-worker grinding her teeth through her usual cheery receptionist voice: "No, sir, we've already confirmed it isn't an eruption ... No, it's just steam venting ... We got that from the AVO (Alaska Volcano Observatory) ... Yes, I believe there is a difference ... No, sir, we can see it too ... Well yes, it does look like an eruption is coming, but ..."
People around town are on pins and needles right now waiting for this thing to blow. The scientists still have the Augustine alert on yellow, but these stubborn Homerites are convinced an eruption is imminent. Last week, my office took a poll on the date it will go. My boss has her money on Jan. 6 ... tomorrow. I'm last on the list, with what I thought was a conservative guess of Feb. 20 (This is probably more optimism than an educated predication. On that date, I'll be hunkered down 300 miles north of the nasty ash plume, sleeping off the Susitna 100. Then, not only will I not have to buy a face mask, but I'll also have a lot more recovery time from the race, stuck in Palmer as I'll be.)
Today I did a light training day - 50 minutes of "sprinting" intervals on the trainer. Perhaps I'll do a two-mile run before bed. My friend Dane's bivy sack arrived in the mail, which means the only gear I have left to acquire before the race is a liquid fuel stove, neoprene socks and a sleeping bag rated to -20. We're required to carry all of our camping gear even if we never use it - which adds a whole new layer to my training that I'll need to start on soon. But if the volcano goes off, I'm going back to bed.