Saturday, March 10, 2007

Reason to believe

Today was one of those days when it felt like a bad idea to get out of bed. I have very few of these, and I never know what to expect from them.

I spent two hours in the morning on the elliptical trainer at the gym, dripping sweat all over a borrowed book. It just feels so good to work some energy out, and when I move without expectations, it doesn't hurt.

After Geoff came home from work, we ate yet another meal of leftovers from the lunch counter (I swear, I am going to become very fat eating organic wholesome hippy food from Rainbow Foods.) Then he convinced me to go cross-country skiing at the glacier campground.

On the drive there, we approached a mass of traffic that can never be a good sign in this small city. Geoff let off the gas as I squinted in the distance for flashing lights, but saw none. Before we even knew what was happening, we found ourselves in the middle of a vehicle mosh pit. Cars were spinning in circles behind us, fishtailing beside us, veering directly in front of us, slamming into guard rails and into each other. Geoff wove his 1989 Honda Civic through the twirling cabaret of rubber and metal. I sat as rigid as a statue in the passenger seat, clinging to my hip belt and staring wide-eyed at the carnage ... almost beautiful in its slow-motion flow, like some cracked-out Disney on Ice dance where the grand finale is not exactly happy. By some divine hand, Geoff navigated his rust bucket over the ice untouched, and we slipped by the front of the storm ... a thick pileup of about a dozen cars in various states of crumpled. Didn't seem to be any injuries ... just a lot of business for the body shops in town.

"What just happened there?" Geoff asked after I started breathing again.

"I think we just avoided a 30-car pileup," I said.

After that, I couldn't imagine anything I wanted to do less than ski in the valley, but there was definitely no turning back at that point. Once on the trail, I did about a mile of grumpy kicks before I decided it was time to turn off my mind to how monotonous and tedious I think Nordic skiing is. Instead, I started chanting. "Kick ... Glide ... Kick ... Glide." I closed my eyes and felt the tracks slip backward beneath my feet. "Nordic skiing is great," I told myself. "You don't even need to be able to see." So I turned on my iPod and scooted along until I reached camp site No. 6. I always stop there when I ski by. I like to spend a minute beside the mound of snow that was once a picnic table and look at the sweeping view of a now-frozen swamp that was once so lush and clouded by mosquitoes. It was, after all, my first Juneau home. I feel a strange sort of comfort there.

Because I often fill my iPod shuffle at random from an amassed music collection of about 3,000 songs, I definitely have faith in the serendipity of shuffle. As I stood among the snow-masked memories of camp site No. 6, iPod chose to play an old song - one I downloaded back in the Napster days and don't think I've even heard in years: An Aimee Mann cover of a Bruce Springsteen song:

"Struck me kinda funny ... Seem kinda funny sir to me.
Still at the end of every hard day people find some reason to believe."


  1. Nordic skiing is the most fun with some friends and a little bit of alchohol...

    I didn't even check the bivy for missing parts--- Glad you found some!


  2. Camping at site #6 sounds fun in the snow. Was anyone there camping?

  3. That pile up sounds pretty scary. I don't know how you guys move around in those icy conditions! I remember trying to walk late at night in a Oslo, it was winter and I had never had any experience of ice! While others were trudging along happily I spent most of my time on my ass! I was walking all wrong but couldn't figure out how!
    Love that melodic version of 'Reason to Believe' Aimee Mann and Michael Penn. That Badlands album has some cool cover songs.


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