Saturday, April 15, 2006

Enough already

Date: April 14 and 15
Mileage: 23 and 27
April mileage: 171
Temperature upon departure: 28 (Friday) and 33 (Saturday)
On the iPod: "Modern Romance" ~ Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yesterday was Geoff's 30th birthday. Today is tax day. Tomorrow is Easter. Talk about a strange holiday weekend.

I sure do get lazier on the weekends. I blame stressful weekdays. And late Friday nights. And disconcerting weather. I'm starting to understand why many Alaskans, even us soft-skinned southcentral types, start to become a little, well ... touched ... as time goes by. I mean, we do live on the edge of the world amid vast amounts of uninhabited space. But I think it's the whole nine months of winter that really gets to our collective psychological health. Pretend for a minute you're a person from California, approaching this place on a plane. Outside is a brilliant, burning sun, still hours from setting at 7 p.m. On the ground, you see people milling around in shirt sleeves, which makes sense to you because, well, it's April and it's an incredible sunny day. Then you see this crazy cyclist bundled to the nines in full winter gear and face mask, and that makes sense to you too, because, well, Alaska is known for its crazies. After the plane lands, you step outside to the full blast of gale-force winds whipping freezing spray off the ocean, the temperatures hovering in the low 30s, the 25 mph wind driving the chill to bone-freezing depths. Suddenly, your entire first impression is flipped.

What's the deal with those short-sleeved pedestrians? The answer: It's the driest, and therefore sunniest time of year in these parts. They've been bundled up in Carharts and flannel for seven months. So as far as they're concerned, it's summer. They'll thaw out their digits when they get home.

So what's the deal with that cyclist? She's fighting this freezing blast of headwind with just about every piece of gear she remembers using during some of her tougher December rides. Now that it's April, she has to admit that she's a little tired. She's learning to adapt to this cold place. She even thinks she's doing a good job of it, but she has to admit it's gotten to her, just a bit. She hasn't seen an outdoor thermometer reach 50 degrees since her first month in Alaska, in September. She came from a place where April meant new life, tons of green, chirping birds ... the whole package. Then she moved to a place where April means dry wind and dust and crusty snow that refuses to melt beneath a glaring sun that refuses to give warmth.

Maybe she just needs to get used to it. Maybe she, too, will be tooling around in minimalist clothing within the year. Maybe her problem is she's just not crazy Alaskan enough.