Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gone 'til November

My weekend ride:

Geoff's weekend ride: (photo by KanyonKris)

Date: Oct. 28
Mileage: 36.4
October mileage: 609.8
Temperature upon departure: 42
Rainfall: .29"

A couple of weeks ago, Geoff was eating breakfast and staring at a slate of gray outside the window as I rattled off the day's weather report. I don't remember the weather report. It probably contained rain and wind and a whole lot of windy rain. Then I began the half-hour-long process of suiting up for the day's ride as Geoff calmly walked over to the computer, called up his Delta Airlines account, and spent every last one of his airline miles to reserve a plane ticket to Las Vegas. "If I don't get out of here soon," he said in his calmest voice, "I'm going to snap."

On Thursday, Geoff left for his I-can-no-longer-tolerate-Juneau-in-the-fall vacation to the Mountain West. The premise of the trip was a bit shaky - a chance to visit friends in St. George, a White Rim ride with strangers he's been communicating with on an Internet forum, a Halloween party in Springville. He tried to talk me into coming. "I can't afford that," I said. "I was just there." Then later, in that eerie calm voice, he wondered aloud: "So what would you do if I didn't come back?"

"I don't know ... move to Anchorage, find an Alaskan sugar daddy to buy me blinged-out bikes and plane tickets."

"No, seriously."

Fall in Juneau is enough to make anyone snap, especially as the temperatures keep notching up a degree and the mountain snowline retreats into the monotone sky. Every day is Groundhog Day, except for it's windy, and rainy, and chock-full of rainy wind, and you know there's a whole lot more than six weeks of winter ahead. So I don't blame Geoff for escaping to the White Rim, to watch the October sunrise stretch across a limitless horizon. I would do the same, and have, with the Grand Canyon, a month ago.

But to go as far as to seriously consider leaving Alaska forever? I can hardly bear the blasphemy. But I can, and do, as raindrops patter on my PVC jacket and the duct-tape patches on my rain pants rub against my cold skin. I think of the desert, and I wonder, what if?


  1. The oppressive heat and glaring sun are overrated.

  2. I guess thats the reason bars are so populated this time of year in Alaska, and in Minnesota. I bet St. George has a fairly steady bar population year round.

  3. Jill,

    Alaska can be a real relationship killer. I would take the threat seriously. It forced me out of Alaska twice. Once too late. Alaska is a hard habit to break, though. Good luck,


  4. Love the stories and pics from Alaska, but I am a desert junkie and kinda think anyone who chooses snow and rain over sand and red rock is a little nutty - but in a nice way!...=-)

  5. Weather drove me out of Portland, OR before I qualified for my own Buddy Holly frames.

  6. Jill,

    Juneau is a hard pill too swallow! (I am a transplant to Anchorage via 5 years in Juneau) It does eventually grow on you and you learn to cope with the gray, rainy, cold days. Juneau is definitely a love hate kind of place…………………................

  7. don't worry jill, i'm coming back as planned on thursday. i'll call you later tonight.

  8. Hi Jill - just wanted to say thank you for opening me up to the world of the Clif Bar. Though I'm not nearly as active as you, I always find packing food difficult, and have never been able to stomach other energy bars. I feel like I'm on a whole new plane of awareness! Ha.

    In response to this particular post - that weather would probably make me insane within a year, so I give you guys kudos for holding out this long, at least. And you don't sound too, too serious about even considering leaving anytime soon. :)

  9. I'm pretty sure I couldn't take Juneau. I like the sun too much. Anchorage might be doable. My sister just moved from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Actually she moved back to Colorado for 3 weeks in between. I'm not sure I could take Fairbanks either. Here we have fairly mild winters but aren't far from deep snow.

  10. I don't think I could handle Alaska either. But, one of the main opportunities for employment in the 48 states is in a large city like SF or Boston and escaping to the epically beautiful riding that you post about daily is nearly impossible.

  11. Juneau is beautiful.

  12. After a few years in Flagsatff I'll be good in the Pacific Northwest for a long time, I expect. Though some friends and I have talked about going further north, I don't really see it happening.

    Y'all be sunny to each other in the gloom...

  13. Either warm or cold, I need the sun to survive.

  14. Just randomly surfed into your blog. I'm a Rocky Mtn native thinking about a move to Alaska (actually just sent an application off to a job in Palmer). I'd take the snow/cold/wind/rain to the opressive heat and sun day after day after day.

  15. I like Anchorage because I think it's a middle ground between Juneau and Fairbanks...both latitude wise and weather wise! Everything is also a lot more accessible here -- it's easier and cheaper to get flights out, but you can drive to a wide variety of outdoor activities. Not that I'm biased or anything!

    That having been said, Juneau really is beautiful and has a wonderful small-town friendliness you don't find as much here. I considered moving there but realized I just couldn't take the gray.

  16. Couldn't you guys move to another town in Alaska, where it rains less and the biking, running, hiking, etc. would be better?? Not that I know enough about your job situation (and Geoffs) but you always sounded more content in Homer....
    But then again, it is easy for us (far away) to tell you, what s right for you...

  17. I think a lot of people, including myself, have romaticized the idea of moving to Alaska, believing it to be some other-worldly dreamland that will leave us coated in bliss. Many of us, again including myself, have never even been there, but still have the dream that is Alaska. In the dream Alaska is just this mythically beautiful place - bigger-than-life snow-capped mountains, water everywhere, grizzly bears, wolves, caribou, etc. Sounds and looks like a little slice of heaven! Load up the truck!

    The problem though, is that dreamland doesn't include seemingly endless periods of gray sky, rain and cold, not to mention long periods of too much light or too much dark. I think once you experience the reality along with the dream, you then have to ask yourself, is the dream powerful enough to justify the reality? That may be where you two are right now.

    Or perhaps I'm being overly melodramatic and you both just needed an escape to the desert for a little sanity check. :-)

    Good luck!

  18. Juneau IS beautiful. But Fairbanks has roads.... and $600 RT plane tickets to Europe ( summer).

  19. This photo of you is photoshopped, and fake! Yet again!

  20. Well it was chilly here this morning in St George. I rolled out to ride Paradise Canyon with Nate, Geoff and Dave wearing arm warmers. It took a good 10 minutes of riding to warm up enough to take them off. Geoff was smiling in the direction of the sun...

  21. ...huh...and yet Alaska has brought many people the ones without whom I wouldn't exist...

    Alaska isn't for sissies with weather phobias, that's for sure!

    ;) (wink, wink)

    But the desert is nice, too, in its own way - there is a time and place for everything...


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