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?