Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Missing Homer

Date: August 23
Mileage: 21.1
August mileage: 301.3
Temperature upon departure: 54

Another day, another ride, another road silt shower.

The air is saturated with rain so light it doesn’t fall, and mist so thick it doesn’t settle. Low-lying clouds roll down the mountainside like ragged curtains, ripped into powder-puff patches by the tree tops. Riding out Douglas Island on a day like today is like looking through a windshield with the defrost turned off - squinting at a ghost world masked in featureless gray. But in that otherworldly way, it’s beautiful.

Water spalshing up from the road hits my face, so I look forward until the mist stings my eyes. I close them for several seconds, open to check for road hazards and close my eyes again. The darkness feels oddly liberating, like diving underwater to suddenly find yourself breathless but weightless. I open my eyes for little gulps of light, but I savor the thrill of riding stretches of this remote road blind.

So it hits me as a little surprise when I round a bend and realize that I’ve emerged from the cloud cover. A slate of gray water stretches beyond the channel. And in the distance, actual distance, I see snow-covered peaks. I feel like I’m looking at the Kenai mountains across Kachemak Bay, the same sight that greeted me every morning for nearly a year. There’s a moment of blind confusion, and then the creeping realization that I am a long, long way from my comfort zone.

That was the first time that homesickness really hit me since I left Homer three weeks ago. That little bend along a waterlogged road was so eerily familiar that it reminded me how unknown everything is, how far I’ve really wandered, and how I'm really not going back. There's a time to embrace new adventure, and there's a time to mourn the world left behind. They're both rewarding in their own way.