Thursday, June 15, 2006

Catching up

Date: June 13 and 14
Total mileage: 60.1
June mileage: 303.2

Yesterday I put in what I thought was a pretty good ride - rode the "hill loop" thrice, for a total of 36 miles with about 3,500 feet of climbing, a 10 mph west wind and an average speed of almost 14 mph. It was a good ride because I felt like I could put in several more of those loops. How many more ... I don't know.

I'm basically just tricking myself into believing I could possibly train for what I'm about to put myself through in the 10 days I have left. Really, I have what I have. And you know ... that's gonna be good enough. Because it has to be.

I've spent the past week showing my Utah-bound family the strange and beautiful side of this state that I love. They got the weeklong deluge that was our first wet weather in a month, but their rain luck was counterbalanced by unbelievable wildlife luck. If you squint hard enough at this picture, you can see the dorsal fin of a whale that rose and dipped alongside our little glacier cruise in Resurrection Bay. It's either an orca or a humpback. I don't remember, because we saw about a half dozen of each. Later that day, we hiked up to Exit Glacier and crossed paths with a mother black bear towing three tiny cubs (no larger than 20 pounds). Less than 50 feet in front of us, they ambled across the trail and each stopped to climb up a little interpretive nature sign that marked the path and drool all over the post about spruce trees. Of course, the only picture I took of that moment turned out like crap. Even worse than the whale picture, I'm afraid. This is what I get for throwing all of my faith into a 3-year-old digital camera with at least a 3-second lapse from button push to shutter click.

Besides that, they also saw a mother moose with a new calf trot through my back yard, a huge flock of sandhill cranes, sea otters on their halibut charter boat, stellar sea lions, puffins and mountain goats on the glacier cruise, more shorebirds, salmon, unidentifiable tide-pool critters, bald eagles, and another black bear on the bluff above the Cook Inlet. In short, in a week, we saw more wildlife than I've seen in my previous nine months up here. Go figure.

You know what's the best part about having your family visit you (I mean, ahem, besides the joys of family togetherness)? They show you all the ways in which your everyday life can be a vacation. Not that I didn't already feel that way. But I convinced my entire family to go on a 9-mile bike ride on the Spit; I convinced my mom to go hiking in the mud; I convinced my youngest sister that catching a big, bloody, and - in her mind - disgusting halibut would be ever so much fun. By the end of the trip, my dad was taking 30-mile bike rides on his own time; my mom was proposing muddy hikes that started at 10 p.m., and my sister was sampling grilled fish and telling me that Homer, with its fashion-challenged rubber boot fetish and shopping options limited to Safeway, hardware stores and useless tourist junk, was "pretty cool." It's funny ... all of my friends up here seem to dread the inevitable Outside family visit to Alaska. But I thought it was fun. (And I'm not saying that, ahem, because my family reads my blog. Ahem, ahem.)