I'd be lying if I said my ferry ride into Juneau wasn't filled with a dull sense of dread. There's just a lot I'm going to miss about my all bike, all the time lifestyle, and there were a lot of unknowns waiting for me in Juneau. I know I shouldn't treat my real life like a credit card payment, but that's how it seemed as the familiar profile of the Chilkat Mountains faded over the northern horizon. I had my fun and now it's time to pay up. I really am looking forward to working at the newspaper again and excited to see my friends here, but it's hard to give up a life of adventure, even when you know it's not sustainable.
I spent as much time in Whitehorse as I could justify on Wednesday. Sierra and I swam sans wetsuits in a Yukon lake until my blood was nearly the same temperature as the water, and then I shivered away the rest of the rainy day eating falafel, bumming around the bike shop and watching the Tour de France. I drove the final leg to Skagway in the evening, planning to sleep in my car at the ferry terminal and catch the boat early in the morning.
As I neared White Pass, I noticed a faint double track climbing away from the highway. The swim and subsequent rewarming had left me feeling wiped out and the clouds were still dripping rain; still, I couldn't help but unload my bike from the roof and set out to see where it went. The road faded to loose singletrack and continued to deteroriate until it was little more than spongy tundra and sinkholes. Eventually I was just slogging through the muskeg on foot, splattering mud all over my jeans and swatting at mosquitoes, but it was so difficult for me to turn around. I knew the minute I returned, my adventure would officially be over. There would be no more new trails to explore, no more miles left to traverse. I was going home.
The ferry arrived in Juneau at 2 p.m., and I was back to work by 5. My co-workers all gathered around my desk to welcome me home. They made a banner to commemorate my trip - all 86 days I was away since I clocked out on April 22. I'm not entirely clear on the math they used to come up with 6,121 miles - I think that was roughly the mileage I covered to make it back to them since I left Banff on June 12. But it was a fun surprise. Everyone signed it, of course. I got a big laugh out of "Welcome back to the daily miracle!" and "Welcome home I missed you ... Pugsley." Our legislative reporter, Pat, even referenced my blog, writing, "Welcome back to the 'vague void,' as you call it." (For the record, Pat, the 'vague void' was a reference to all of the unknowns I'm facing right now. My job is one of the few tangible things I have.)
I'm super glad I still have a job. I wasn't going to believe it until I was actually back at the office and greeted with open arms. Not only was I greeted with open arms, my coworkers sprung for a 36-pack of Diet Pepsi, peanut butter cups, goldfish, and gummy worms. I was feeling the love. Thanks, guys.
And I'm just about ready to be done being lazy. But pretty much everything I do feels lazy these days. Even when I was worn out from the long drive, exhausted by hours of mountain biking and staying up late to visit friends, I would fall asleep feeling guilty for putting in such a lazy day. My body is tired but my mind is used to 12 hours a day of riding compounded by the constant work it took just keeping the engine running. I'm starting to wonder if my life will ever seem anything but lazy again. But I did enjoy a four-hour hike with my co-worker, Abby, to Gastineau Peak. It was technically an interview since she is working on a sports story about the Tour Divide. The wildflowers were out in full-color force and I'm amazed how far along summer is. The fireweed is in bloom, the mountain snow has nearly faded, and cruise ships are clogging the harbor. It's a different world than the one I left in April.
I unfortunately brought the rain back with me. While I was gone, all my friends here could talk about was how amazing Juneau's summer has been, how sunny the skies were, how many times the temperatures reached the 80s, and how little it's rained. Now it's mid-July and the rainy season is just a few short weeks away, unless it decides to hit early. I can't believe I missed one of Juneau's most spectacular summers on record to experience one of the wettest summers on record in the Rockies, but that's the price we pay for adventure. I wouldn't give it back, even if it rains every day in Juneau from now until November.
It's hard but good to be home, just the way I like it.