Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy at home

Date: Aug. 19 and 21
Mileage: 52.4 and 44.3
August mileage: 425.2

I was working my way through one of many cattle shoots at LAX early this morning when a man behind me pointed to gray mass hovering over the airport outside the window and asked "is that smog or fog?"

"It looks like fog to me," I said. Then the woman in front of me turned around and said, "Oh no, that's smog." I just glanced out the window again at the cloud, somewhat amused that, regardless of what it actually was, I was in a place where it's hard to tell the difference.

And with that, I left California after what feels like a short lifetime but was actually just a long week of fun in the sun.

My cute family on the Matterhorn. My 26-year-old sister, Lisa (not pictured), was deeply traumatized by this ride when she was 4 years old. So the mechanized abominable snowman has made its way into family lore, and the ride is now a fam favorite.

So after my mom informed me they had purchased Disneyland tickets for the whole fam-damily, I did not admit to her that I was not excited about going ... especially on my birthday, especially when I had acquired a perfectly good if flat-prone bicycle that, despite the fact I ride all the time, I really just wanted to take out for a long day of exploring. But my mom loves Disneyland. Don't get me wrong ... I loved it too, as a kid. But my adult paradigm started to run against that grain and now I feel uncomfortable around all of the excess and crowds, who, as my dad quoted from an article, "single-handedly prove that the American economy is doing just fine when all of these people are paying so much money just to amuse themselves." Disneyland really plays up that "When You Wish Upon A Star" theme, which I think could serve as a thinly veiled slogan for the most toxic edge of the American Dream - that we should have everything we want handed to us out of thin air. That said, I'm certainly not a poster child for eschewing all over-consumption, and I can enjoy excess with the best of them.

After an ill-advised trip down Splash Mountain, my sisters get a small taste of what it's like to be a cyclist in Juneau.

Plus, Disneyland is just so nostalgic. It took me a while to get over the hump of herding myself through masses of humanity and exhausting my energy reserves by standing in long lines, but I finally hit my stride and started to really appreciate the time I could spend with my two sisters, who I never see anymore, and just enjoy the oddball way in which two 50-somethings and their three grown, childless offspring can enjoy a warm day of youthful amusement.

I don't know about the "Happiest Birthday on Earth." The crowdedest, maybe.

Thursday was a much more even day. I crawled out of bed early and rode my borrowed bike up the coastal highway to Long Beach, only to discover that the coastal highway through Long Beach is a high-traffic commercial zone that veers pretty far inland. Live and learn. We took a surfing lesson in the afternoon, where I learned how to get thoroughly battered in small waves by something that is considerably heavier than a boogie board. I was finally hitting my stride and nearly standing up on the board when the lesson ended two hours later. I'll likely never try it again - it's too hard for me to work through my irrational fear of moving water just to get out there in the first place. But, as my sister Sara said, at least we can knock "Try surfing" off our bucket list.

Oh yes, I took a picture of the picture.

I flew back into Juneau at 2 p.m. Friday. As usual, the city was obscured between a predictable but almost comforting blanket of fog. I was sleepy and mentally exhausted from 10 hours of airline transit, but I couldn't wait to suit up over my sun-blistered lips and unusually tan face and head out for a ride in the rain. I couldn't decide where to go. Muddy Perseverance? Sloppy Eaglecrest? Soggy trip to the glacier? They all sounded so appealing, and I feel like I haven't been here in weeks. I'm sure that feeling will wear off soon, but for now I will head out an enjoy it. In the same way I warmed up to Disneyland, these first few post-vacation rides in Juneau may prove my theory - that novelty and nostalgia are the perfect combination.


  1. "...the most toxic edge of the American Dream - that we should have everything we want handed to us out of thin air." I'll be thinking about that for a while.

    Nevertheless, I enjoyed Disneyland with my own children. Fortuanately they've seen the real thing enough to grok that the simulated experiences are only 2D. Luckily not a lesson you need, either.

  2. I happened to go to Disney's Epcot Center last year when I was stuck at a business conference next door for a week. The last time I was there, I was eight and it all seemed so much bigger and cooler.

    Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed myself but I think the 'Magic of Disney'!

  3. Jill,
    "Disneyland really plays up that "When You Wish Upon A Star" theme, which I think could serve as a thinly veiled slogan for the most toxic edge of the American Dream - that we should have everything we want handed to us out of thin air."

    Sitting here in Ketchikan, windows open, listening to the gurgle of rain in the downspouts, and reading your blog...that above is the quote of the day.

    Welcome back to rain. As was said, oh so often in the Army, "If it ain't raining, we ain't training."


  4. Thanks Hunter

    I'd say "If it ain't raining, we ain't training" is the quote of the day. I'm taking it up as my motto for the oncoming fall.

  5. Are you throwing devil horns on Space Mountain? Rock on! I'm surprised they didn't ask you to leave or at least blur them out in the photo.

  6. Wow...I almost didn't recognize you in that picture...something wrong with the color tones...or is that a tan? Say it ain't so! Val

  7. I spent last night in Juneau and tonight I'm in Ontario, CA. Wow, the juxto feels really weird. I still don't understand that people WANT to live here. so it goes


Feedback is always appreciated!