Wednesday, January 10, 2007

5.7 Earthquake

Date: Jan. 9
Mileage: 25.1
January mileage: 231.7
Temperature upon departure: 18

This is the second time this has happened to me. During the darkest part of the morning, right before dawn, the bed lurches forward and jolts me awake. My initial reaction is to squint at the alarm clock, 6:49. But the creeks and groans grow louder and the mattress continues to rumble beneath me. So I freeze in position and hold my eyes shut, hoping against a frightened child's hope that if I just pretend I'm not here, it will go away.

But then the tremors subside and the semi-conscious disorientation fades, and I can drift back to sleep with the comfortable assurance that it was only an earthquake.

This was the largest one I've experienced yet: 5.7, but its epicenter was 120 miles north of here. A lot of my coworkers didn't even feel it. My neighbor thought it was a gust of wind ... a 5.7 earthquake ... which I think is a good indicator of how bad the wind really gets here.

Any time Juneau skies clear up a bit, strong wind is pretty much a given. Some of the gusts create chills I don't even know how to describe ... they burn in their intensity. They burn in such a way that when I take off my outer shell, my top-most base layer is coated in ice ... frozen sweat. But I need the shell to block the wind. And so we dance.

Nearly every time I ride out Douglas Island around noon, I see the same pedestrian on the side of the road that I call "Backpack Guy." He saunters down the road with a walking stick and an external frame backpack bursting at the seams with all kinds of gear ... clothing and shoes and canvas stuff that looks really heavy. He walks against traffic and so we cross paths windburnt face to windburnt face, squinting against the icy sting of errant ocean spray. He always just smiles and I nod. I like to think that he's out here training to climb Rainier or Denali or some far-off, scarcely-charted ridge in the Himalayas. That while he's building his shoulder muscles, he's steeling himself against the unforgivable ravages of exposure and elements and cold.

And I can't help but wonder what Backpack Guy imagines I'm doing out here.

5 comments:

  1. I name the regulars on my commutes. There is "poodle guy", "runner dude", the "Michael Jackson couple", "walker guy", "stalker man", "that man I thought was a woman last winter until summer came guy", and "hardcore biker man".

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  2. I just discovered your blog. I live just north of the Florida line in Georgia and have never experienced snow before, much less the conditions that you have in your neck of the woods. Enjoying reading your blog!

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  3. Anonymous4:50 PM

    Ha, I was also in bed and felt the quake. I swear it lasted a couple minutes - but down in Haines (50miles from it) they said it lasted only 10 seconds or so. A bit freaky. I had time to get shaken around a bit, wake up, turn on the light, look around at things shaking... then it stopped. Wild!

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  4. Anonymous5:34 PM

    I've slept though a 4.7 in CA....

    Scary stuff....

    I have a backpacker dude where i ride alot too...

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  5. Anonymous9:18 PM

    Jill,
    (Even though this has nothing to do with this post.)

    I want you to know that I try to refer to you as inspiration to ride more. Here in Va I think it's cold at 30-40* and tell myself that I can ride in a day or so when 50-60's hit again.

    Meanwhile, you keep going when 30* is 40+ degrees warmer than you have it.

    That helps to put a new spin on cold!

    At least you have some gorgeous scenery to keep you going! And please keep posting those great photos, they are simply awe inspiring!

    Your fellow south-eastern blooger friend.
    ~Jay
    CyclingCentralVa.org

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