Thursday, March 11, 2010

Leave the city, part 3

It broke my heart to know you waited
I had so many things to do
It's true as far as a lot of stuff
You could have had a little better luck
But with you, I'm not givin' up
Tonight I'm not givin' up

— Magnolia Electric Co. "Leave the City"

It's one of the great cliches in life coaching — if you had a million dollars, what would you do? It's the kind of question people usually laugh off, but if you are stalled out and genuinely unhappy about your situation, I think it's an important one. The answer has always been very easy for me — I would live in a place where I had access to a lot of different adventures — good singletrack, long open roads, mountains and extensive winter trails. This place would have a community of like-minded souls — snow bikers, endurance athletes and mountaineers — that I could look to and learn things from. It would preferably be a small town, but I could stomach a mid-sized city. If you think this sounds like Salt Lake City, you're right, but I have another, most important requirement — it has to be in Alaska.

And what would I do for a non-recreational occupation in this place? That answer is even easier. I'd write. I'd interview interesting people and attend intriguing events, and I'd write about them. I wouldn't spend a whole lot of time writing soul-sucking query letters seeking publication, but I'd probably do a little of that, because it's always more fun to write for an audience (Hence my four-plus years of keeping a public blog.) And I would buy a nice camera, and take photos. And I would buy an art store out of their pastels and markers and paper, and I would start drawing again. I'd probably also buy a piano and renew that hobby — just to really round things out.

But here's the next question — what if I didn't need a million dollars? Nix the piano, camera and pastels, because that stuff is pretty expensive. And just cut it down to the basics — a place where I can sleep, store my bicycles and house my cat. A few spare dollars for lube, tubes and gasoline. Enough left over to buy rice and beans and Sour Patch Kids. Not forever, but just for a while. Maybe those soul-sucking query letters would even help pad the rice-and-beans fund. But even that wouldn't be fully necessary — at least for a while. One of the great secrets of life is that it's actually quite simple to follow dreams — as long as you follow them simply.

So here is my plan: My last day at the Juneau Empire is March 31. From there I'm going to make my way north and west. I'm moving in with a friend in the big city — Anchorage. During the month of April, I plan to fly to Salt Lake City. I want to visit my sister and meet my first nephew, who was just born last month. I want to visit my baby sister in Huntington Beach, and a few friends in between, hopefully in the form of a bike tour. This will probably take up most of the month. After that, it will be springtime in Alaska. I'm not sure exactly what will happen. I'm going to just ride the wave and see where it takes me.

So why Anchorage? Because, for better or worse, Anchorage is the center of Alaska. The city offers easier and cheaper access to so many places, from the Kenai Peninsula to Denali to the Brooks Range. There are many things I want to see and do that, if I stay in Juneau and continue working 50 hours a week, I will probably never have a realistic chance to experience. Moving to Anchorage will also be easier than moving to a random city because I have several friends in the Anchorage area already, from Kim, who has agreed to take on my cat and me as roommates, to Craig and Amity, a couple of my oldest friends from Utah. Having several familiar faces in town definitely helps ease big transitions. And Anchorage does have a great community of cyclists.

Plus, Anchorage is the state's center of commerce, so there will be more opportunities for income should the funemployment fund run dry.

So why didn't I just do this a year ago, when I first said I was going to? Well, there are a lot of reasons I stayed after I first "quit" my job in November 2008. One is my passion for newspaper journalism and my loyalty to the Juneau Empire. I realize the newspaper business is a slowly sinking ship, and that by opting out of my current newspaper job, I may not find another opportunity to re-enter this market. The Empire has done a lot for me over the years and I feel guilt about leaving. Another big reason is that I genuinely love Juneau. It is definitely a little bit of a "love-hate" relationship, especially during long stretches of snain (similar to the one we're currently in.) But Juneau is a place that grows into you like moss, filling the bare surfaces of life with brilliant green beauty. I can definitely see myself returning someday. In fact, at this point, I'm all but counting on it.

So, then, why am I leaving? Because I have been unhappy for a while now. This series of blog posts have been the exploration of the root of my unhappiness. It may seem I'm blaming a lot of it on my environment, which of course isn't fair, but my environment does make it extraordinarily difficult for me to make any real changes in my life. When more casual acquaintances ask me why I'm leaving, I tell them it's because I "need a change of scenery." It sounds frivolous, but there a lot to that statement. The change of scenery I need is within the landscape of my own mind. If I continue to plow through my routine, and the only change I make is acquiring a Prozac prescription or taking up skiing, then I will always be haunted by the knowledge that I ignored an opportunity to make more meaningful change. The truth is, I don't really have a lot to lose.

As I discussed this move with my closer friends and family, no one was surprised. My closest friends in Juneau all said, essentially, "We'll miss you, but, yeah, you should do this." My family has expressed their unconditional support, even for my funemployment (which will be entirely self-supported and health-insured, by the way.) It means a lot to me that people who know me best have shown so much support, and has sharpened my belief that this is the right thing to do.

I am anxious and excited, nervous and scared. I am still planning to travel to Fairbanks next week for the White Mountains 100. I'm trying to buffer the expense by hitching a ride with a Juneau friend who's driving north for a crazy winter climbing trip. Then I will fly back to Juneau, solely so I can spend a week training my replacement (yes, this is purely for loyalty to the Empire, because it would be a whole lot easier just to drive north once.) I am hoping to get a few last mountain trips in Juneau before I go. I will truly, deeply miss this place.

But I have to go.

94 comments:

  1. Yes! I'm glad you aren't giving up on Alaska. I'm also glad you are able to believe in yourself as a writer enough to take this leap. My prediction is you will exceed your own expectations tenfold. Go Jill!

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  2. Anonymous1:04 AM

    Jill,
    Have been wondering where this heartfelt and, at times, heart-rending writing was going, and where would all end, for the last couple of days and, now, at last, we know.
    When you gotta go, you gotta go.
    May your new life plan, your movements, your family, your new (and old) friends, and Anchorage itself fill you up with all the fun, the excitement, and the happiness you've been searching for.
    And, please, do keep all of us who follow you, on whichever road you choose to travel, up to date on how the journey is going and what the view looks like from wherever you may be.
    james

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  3. Anonymous2:10 AM

    All I'm gonna say is your blog has been boring ever since the Great Divide race was over. It was fun reading about snain and lousy weather at first, but endless stories about crappy weather got real old. Even reading stories about the mountain climbs were interesting at first, but after about the 10th time of the same old dead end bike trails, and seeing the same views from the same barren snow covered pile of rocks, that got old too.

    For the past year you've just been living in the past, trying to keep yourself amused by coming up with new ways to keep your mind occupied, but in reality not going anywhere. It's been like watching a dog chase its tail around in circles.

    Oh, and I like the long drawn out 3-post thread on the decision to move out of town, it certainly fits your writing style and adds to the melodrama of the situation.

    I was getting ready to pull the plug on reading your blog, but this move to a new city might keep me around a little bit longer, but only if there's some kind of bigger goal your working towards, like finishing your book, or training for a new race or adventure.

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  4. Good luck with the next stage of your journey, I'll be looking forward to following along.

    Justin.

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  5. Godspeed, Jill. Best in all your ventures. And thanks for the reminder about simple dreams.

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  6. Jill, I am so excited for you and your new life adventure. Congratulations on your decision and I wish you nothing but the best.

    I look forward to seeing and reading about the rest of Alaska through your eyes and your words. Keep your face towards the sun and enjoy the ride.

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  7. Anonymous3:00 AM

    Good luck to you Jill - go for it! :)

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  8. YAY!! I miss Anchorage. You are right, it is the hub, and there is so much to do in every direction. I cannot wait to read about your adventures up there. You, go girl!!

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  9. Anonymous4:27 AM

    Comes right down to it, it's all about love and being loved isn't it?

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  10. Anonymous4:28 AM

    Congratulations! I've been hoping you'd do something like this for a while--I can't wait to tag along!!

    ~Heather in Pittsburgh

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  11. Scott4:28 AM

    Good for you! I'll hate to see you move from Juneau (because I won't get the awesome photos and updates on my adopted hometown), but it sounds like it's what you need to do.

    I've never met you, but have read your posts for a long time. You appear to have a hell of a lot more going for you than you think. Best wishes!

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  12. Good luck to you Jill in your new adventures. I look forward with great anticiaption to your new endeavors. NORTH TO THE FUTURE!

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  13. Jill - it sounds like you're doing the right thing! Every place you've been, every adventure you've taken, every relationship that has come and gone has helped you clarify and nourish who you are, what you want to be, what your passions are. You've gained a lot from Juneau, but it's time for the next step.

    It also sounds like you've got the logistics worked out intelligently and you've got lots of support for when things go wrong.

    I'm excited for you! Good luck, and I look forward to reading about the next stage in your life! Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  14. Anonymous5:28 AM

    Good for you, Jill- Follow your heart, and it'll take you great places!

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  15. Hello from Holland

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  16. Yay! Fun new life adventure! This is what living is all about, best wishes girl :)

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  17. May you find what you are searching for and thanks for sharing the journey with us!

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  18. I understand your situation and thought process completely. Good for you!

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  19. Anonymous6:35 AM

    Best of luck in your move, young lady. I'll be sending all my extra good karma your way.

    Steve Z

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  20. Anonymous6:38 AM

    It looks like all that thinking in the mountains did you a lot of good..;) Good luck on your journey and your new adventures!

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  21. I know that feeling completely, and godspeed Jill. Change is never easy, but when you make it of your own volition it's also never bad.

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  22. And another chapter begins!

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  23. Sounds like a good plan to me.

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  24. Sounds perfect, congratulations Jill! Anchorage will be lucky to have your residence.

    Thanks for filling us in on the events and thoughts that shaped this decision. Your loyalty also runs deep for your blog readers.

    Sure would appreciate you keeping us along during the transition and next phase in the life of J. Homer – Adventurer Extraordinaire.

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  25. Congrats....I hope the new adventure provides you with many smiles....=-)

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  26. dinglearm7:46 AM

    Jill: Change is always hard and uncertain no matter how much you plan. I have no doubt you will have the adventure of your life...keep us tuned in.

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  27. Go, and be well. Change and new perspective are two of the greatest things we can create for ourselves. Only some, however, realize the importance of this and honor it. Take care.

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  28. Good for you. Good luck.

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  29. Anonymous8:13 AM

    Interesting. To be honest, I've mostly followed your blog to see how your life will go, since your...restlessness...resonates with my own on some level. I was curious to see how you would resolve it, partially since I hoped it could perhaps provide me an answer as well.

    I grant you that a change in environmental scenery can facilitate a change in mental scenery, but I can't help but wonder whether you, like me, get stuck on hoping that by searching, either externally or internally, you will someday reach that "thing" that makes everything go *click*. I've been searching for that for years, often by over-analyzing my own life, much like you seem to do. I still haven't found it.

    Perhaps there's too much "meta" and not enough "physics"; perhaps there's sufficient doing, but not enough of the right things; perhaps there's too much hoping and not enough embracing. Whatever it turns out to be, I hope you find it and find a way to express it.

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  30. I hope you will continue to blog from Anchorage.

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  31. Good luck with your move and new adventures Jill!

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  32. Awesome Jill! Follow your passion and you can't go too far wrong. Becky and I hope to spend some time with you in the wilds during your trip "out." And we may just be joining the Alaska migration before long.

    Chris

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  33. Hey, I have encumbrances that limit my ability to follow suit, but I sure miss Alaska and would move there again in a heartbeat. Enjoy this now, before you accidentally find yourself tied down.

    I truly admire your choice and you'll LOVE how easy it is to find a hike, a climb, or a ride (at least in the summer) around Anchor-town. Definitely get up Wolverine Peak as soon as you can and give it my regards!

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  34. One of the great lines of all time...I'm going to remember it: "One of the great secrets of life is that it's actually quite simple to follow dreams — as long as you follow them simply." I'm very happy for you. Anchorage would be my choice as well, as long as I could live on the outskirts of town and only go into the city when I choose. It certainly is central to everything Alaska. I wish you the very best. Good luck, Jill "from" Juneau!

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  35. I was born and raised in Juneau- but I left for many of the same reasons. It really does do something strange to your insides.

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  36. Anonymous9:12 AM

    Good for you. In a cool town like Anchorage you can have your cake and eat it too. Plenty of adventures, and plenty of cosmopolitan attractions too. Plus a lot of eligible young guys - what's the ratio, like 3:1? As someone who recently made a similar move, the change will jump-start your brain and your enthusiasm. I think you'll thrive up there.
    - Joe Durango, CO

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  37. Hell,yeah! Go for it Jill, it's all one big adventure.

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  38. Jill, I don't know you, but I have been reading your blog for awhile. I had to post because I felt the SAME WAY after living in Sitka for seven years. Loved the people, loved the ocean, loved the wildness, but I had to go. I wanted sunshine and backpacking, as opposed to bike riding. I do think happiness can be tied to environment more than people realize.

    Though I miss Alaska, I am now in the place where I'm supposed to be. I wonder--how come you are limiting it to Alaska?

    Ride on, and I hope you keep blogging.

    http://mountainsskin.blogspot.com

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  39. Good luck Jill. I will certainly miss you being here in Juneau, even though we have never met. You have opened up the trails and mountaintops to me!!

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  40. Anonymous9:52 AM

    NO!! Say it isn't so!! We will miss you Jill....you've been a great ambassador for Juneau. I have really enjoyed seeing my home through your photos and through the eyes of your readers. God Bless you and here's to more adventures. Until you return....Kathy in Juneau.

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  41. You must do what u feel in your heart is right... Everyone can give u advice but ultimately u are the one who will have to live w/whatever decision... After u leave Alaska and find that u may not like where u are at, Alaska will always be there... that place will be wherever you feel most secure and comfortable...u will know it in your gut...

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  42. "If I continue to plow through my routine, and the only change I make is acquiring a Prozac prescription or taking up skiing, then I will always be haunted by the knowledge that I ignored an opportunity to make more meaningful change."

    Wait, it's possible to do something more meaningful than skiing? I'm not so sure...

    But seriously, we'll be lucky to have you in Anchorage, Jill. I look forward to seeing you on the trails!

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  43. Anonymous11:01 AM

    Ahhh Jill...I've been following you for quite a while now (thanks to Fatty). I don't comment here much but I LOVE to read your posts. You are SUCH an amazing writer...I hope you can make a go with the Funemployment for a long time.

    I guess you are facing head on the question that most of us never truly face. What do do with your life. Seeking the magical blance of all that you want with the realities of life. But I think the magical balance is inside us. Home can be anywhere (well...most anywhere). By looking for WHERE to live first, and THEN looking for a way to make a living is probably a better way to do it. So many of us end up 'where we are' due to finding said employment...and everything else taking 2nd place.

    I've never lived in Anchorage, but I've passed thru a few times. It seems like a great place with lots of opportunities, recreational AND occupational. I wish you the best of luck, but I firmly believe we make a lot of our 'luck'. You are an amazingly strong person...you WILL end up where you are supposed to...of that I'm certain...wherever that is. But thanks for taking us along for the ride (hike).

    A loyal reader;
    Matt

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  44. "I have to go."

    That pretty much says it all there.

    Good luck.

    E

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  45. Anonymous11:28 AM

    jill, omg come to akron...this town needs you! i rode thru two winters with you. you rock da house! allbest, ken

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  46. You should have a "Jill's nice camera fund" tipjar on the side of your blog.

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  47. Anonymous12:21 PM

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    I have followed your blog for some time and thoroughly enjoy it. I have been tempted to leave a comment many times, but doing so seems like a cheesy and self-serving action. Well this three part series has pushed me over the edge and I find myself leaving a self-serving comment.

    I have related to much of what you have shared in this blog, as I am sure most of your readers have. At times, your blogs have felt like my personal memoir. It has caused reflection and some pain. I find many of your posts to been the blog version of a NPR driveway moment. I have found myself so engrossed in a thought provoked by one of your posts that I catch myself momentarily lost. Your writings have been a bright spot during a frustrating work day more then once.

    I too am in the need of change and your most recent post has been a great dose of change fuel.

    Here’s to reading about all the positive change and great adventures in front of you.

    A sincere thank you!

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  48. Congrats on your decision Jill! I have been following your blog since your Homer days and have occassionally left a comment here and there (my blog is WAAAAAAY out of date...I'll catch up just as soon as my activities die down a bit). I have even seen you in Anchorage for various races, but never said hi b/c I felt like some weird blog stalker. But guess that's what all of your readers are, except for the few who actually know you. Anyway, long way of saying this, but I for one am happy to see you change your life's direction, and hope our paths cross in Anchorage. I LOVE it here, and while it is more of a big city than Juneau, you're right on...it makes up and then some for being a "city" by having access to amazing places. And loads of bike trails! Enjoy your last stint in Juneau, your travels in the lower 48, and let's bag some peaks when you get up here.

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  49. You should talk to the people at the Alaska Dispatch; I've been enjoying their articles lately (they would be lucky to get you.)

    Good luck with the move; I've lived off the road system, and it was a special time. But Anchorage has some things going for it too! :-)

    Enjoy the journey.

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  50. "But I have to go."

    Yes, after reading the whole thing, I believe you do. Enjoy the new adventure.

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  51. Sounds like a smart move. Good luck!

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  52. Wow, Jill, I only know you through this public space, and I saw this coming. A dear friend, now in Cambridge, MA, lived for three years in Juneau. She loved it, and knew it was not forever.

    Way back when, I had a lead for some volunteer work I wanted to do after college, in Anchorage, Alaska. Too far away, in the end, for this Northeast US girl.

    I know it will all work out good for you, with one adventure after another. I want to say Congrats!! I hope that's okay!

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  53. Things may or may not be simple. Simple minded people are complicated and vice verse. In the grand scheme of things your perfect world seems at arms length. Live, talk, interview like minded people. Alaska is full of them. Share stories of similar but different snow covered trails you've ridden or raced. That's fine but it doesn't make for interesting reading. (to me). At some point if you don't get out of your comfort zone your pictures and writing will all blur into 1 big story with no paragraphs or commas.(much like this) As sad as it was, I was very intrigued about your time after you and Geoff parted. I know that almost everything you do is physically out of your comfort zone. Trust me, I respect what you do and your ability to suffer. I was riding this week at lunch and I dropped into 1 of our trails that still had snow. And I thought, 'What would Jill do'...no kidding. But me being me, I put my bike on my back and climbed out of that ravine /icebox to a dirt road. I guess my message would be that if you wanna be a writer/photographer the most interesting thing is when you are 180 degrees from what you are used to. Otherwise, write for the local paper because after awhile, like minded people are ...the same ol, same ol...Tom Petty is a great songwriter but sometimes he could just fax the show in. This is written with a serious amount of respect and I hope no offense will be taken. Scott(carson city, nv)

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  54. Woohoo! We're going to the city!

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  55. I guess you only want like minded comments...oh well...cheers to you anyway....

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  56. Jill: That rocks. We'll sure miss vicariously sharing your ridge line experiences, but hopefully you can find time to share some of your new exploits..good luck next weekend!

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  57. I'm another one who thinks that happiness is connected to one's environment - even if not entirely controlled by it. Sounds like a great decision, Jill. And now I have an excuse to get to Anchorage - which I have been wanting to do.

    Have fun visiting your family.

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  58. ex-alaskan4:56 PM

    I was in agreement with someone who posted yesterday - you seem to be extremely depressed. So I'll be the voice of dissent, encouraging you to give up on Alaska. It's lovely to visit but just soul-killing to try to live there. I lived in Juneau for a year and that was by far the worst - a dead end if there ever was one - but Anchorage was a drain after a while too. People (especially guys) are just too sketchy there. Why limit yourself to such an isolated, borderline-backwards place?

    Alaska seems to turn independent, accomplished women into introverted, depressed, wandering lost souls, wondering what's wrong with them. My girlfriends who live there always seem to be so lonely and sad and thinking it's something wrong with them. If I had a nickel for every time I said "It's not you, it's Alaska!"....

    But if you decide to go for it and try to date someone there, I have some friendly advice - ALWAYS check court records. They are public and available online in Alaska. You CANNOT be too careful in Anchorage. Oh, and never go biking or running without a weapon. It's just a predatory place and I ain't talking about bears.

    As you can probably guess, I left Alaska in disgust after many years there and almost immediately met a great, non sketchy dude with no sordid past, no ex wives, no children, no past restraining orders - and am much happier! There is absolutely no shame in coming to the realization Alaska is not for you. I found that there are a lot of great things about Alaska but not enough of them for me.

    I'm sure I will be accused of being bitter and so be it. But I really had enough of the sketchy culture there. I got tired of having to ferret out my suitors' secret lives (and they ALWAYS had them, whether it was a wife, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a warrant, a felony conviction, you name it).

    Good luck to you! Have fun in Anchorage but if you still feel depressed - it's not you, it's ALASKA.

    And remember, check their court records!

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  59. Thanks, ex-Alaskan, that comment left me laughing out loud. I gave a lot of serious thought to leaving Alaska while I was down south for the summer. I eventually decided I was not ready to leave a place that still has so much to offer. From the landscape to the culture to the people to even the crazy politics, this state really does feel like "home" to me.

    And I'm not looking for the magic road to happiness. I'm under no delusion that everything I find outside of Juneau will be gumdrops and rainbows. I genuinely believe what Sunshine Girl said ... "It's all one big adventure."

    This is just the adventure continued.

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  60. Anonymous5:29 PM

    Whew was so glad to read your last installment...I was seriously worried about you. Good luck in your new home town- and I look forward to reading more

    Mary from NC

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  61. If it gets hard for you, remember that you have more options in front of you than the vast majority of people. You're young (but old enough to have gained some gravitas through education and experience), you're strong, intelligent, a gifted communicator, and not encumbered by romantic entanglements, children, a mortgage, etc. Not that I'm against any of those things, I'm happily encumbered myself, but having the freedom & wherewithal to go just about anywhere with your life is a rare and valuable thing, even if it is lonely at times. I truly wish you well.

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  62. ex-alaskan10:04 PM

    Glad I could help. And in all seriousness, good for you for getting out of Juneau. It seems that it is definitely the time to go. And if you were having fun kicking around the mountains there, you will LOVE Anchorage. It's a much bigger playground (with more MTB trails, too).

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  63. Congratulations on your decision, Jill. I also would like to see a "nice camera fund" tip jar added to the blog. After all, we are the beneficiaries of your great photography!

    Best wishes for your new adventure,

    Aaron

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  64. Anonymous9:00 AM

    Thomas Wolfe

    Perhaps this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America - that we are fixed and certain only when we are in movement.

    In the arc of life we crest a ten year window where we can see our past/future and our mind and body work in concert.The passage of time is more noticed and understood as relentless.

    I join all the others in this community you created and wish you well on your journey of"pedal strokes" so to speak in the untold days to come.
    Jeff

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  65. Jill,

    I am glad you aren't giving up on Alaska, but it still sounds like you are leaving it. Don't they have all the "Anchorage is a suburb of Seattle and we don't count them" jokes in Juneau? Anchorage does have a lot to offer, but it is a (largish) city, with all the associated problems. Including the soul crushing solitude in a place full of people that cities are known for.

    I'd really encourage you to look towards the interior, just enough civilization to be liveable and lots of access to awesome wildness (with a shorter drive than you need from Anchorage). Also our paper is desperately in need of talented writers (just my opinion).

    Good luck in your decision and travels!

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  66. Los Anchorage! Isn’t that what they call it? Sounds like a freeing decision you’ve come to. It will be great to follow along as you encounter all the new terrain around your new home. Good luck. Ride on!

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  67. Just looking at that picture is making me shiver, hope your move turns out great!

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  68. nice skier4:12 PM

    Los Anchorage isn't so bad. After all, it's just a 30 minute drive to Alaska from there. ha ha! Juneauites will have their Skankorage jokes. Seriously, good luck up there. If I were young, single, and unhappy with my job I'd consider a similar move, I'm sure, just to get out into the broader population for a change. I will warn you that if you think Juneau has "skier snobs", you ain't seen nothin' until you've encountered the raging ski population of Anchorage. After all, this is where US Nationals for both nordic and alpine have been held over the past few years. Last week 1700 skiers raced in the Tour of Anchorage. They do love their skiing, god bless 'em. Good luck! Hope you find what you're looking for.

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  69. Anonymous5:00 PM

    Not to start a big Anchorage vs. Juneau fight, but Juneau is not at all much different from Anchorage IMO. It's not on the road system, but you have the same crowded-in feeling, the same feelings of isolation in a city full of people, the same suburbia (mendenhall valley - ugh), the same ultra conservative vs ultra liberal crowd, the same Alaska rednecks. However Juneau, as Jill points out, is a literally a dead end. No place for a bright, young, talented person IMO. If it weren't the capitol, it would be a dead town, and it seems that much of the populace has sold their souls to supporting capitol and cruise-ship-related stuff. It's not a self-sufficient place and it really comes through when you move there from somewhere else.

    So don't worry that you're going to some massive urban center, Jill; it's 300,000 people, just barely a mid-size city. I don't really get the knee-jerk negativism from Juneauites about Anchorage; but I wonder if that is one reason you didn't take this step sooner. I think you'll be glad you did.

    Personally I found that I felt much more isolated and miserable in Juneau. I lived there for a year and hardly met any friends; people there are very insular. I found it to be an extremely isolated and isolating place. Anchorage is, too; but that's just Alaska in general.

    nice skier is right, though, that skier snobs are out of control in Anchorage.

    Wow, lots of people - including me - have a lot to say about this post, Jill! Hopefully it will work out for you, and you'll have a fun adventure getting to know Anchorage. How does it feel to have so many people with an opinion on what you do with your life? ;)

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  70. Anonymous8:03 PM

    Alaska dead end. A move is a move. What about a move to Boulder?

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  71. Anonymous8:09 PM

    Taking a huge leap..even with your eyes wide open, takes some guts..

    Im looking forward to reading about each and eveery one of your new adventures.

    BTW..thanks for the inspiration.

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  72. Anonymous8:56 PM

    I find it interesting that people think their own experiences equate to "the norm"....I'm willing to bet there are alot of people (besides myself) who live(d) in Juneau and Anchorage that do not feel like "ex-Alaskan" or the last long-winded anonymous. Alot of folks do not consider it a dead end and alot of folks that met all kinds of people and had a great time living there. Personally I think it has more to do with the individual than the towns.

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  73. Sometimes a change is exactly what we need to start a new chapter in our lives. I wish you the very best. You'll make it! Take care and please keep up the writing in your blog. :-)

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  74. Anonymous5:00 AM

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  75. I can feel that this is right for you Jill.

    -B

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  76. Good for you. IMO, not enough people follow through on the direction their heart is pulling them. You are to be commended. Good Luck.

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  77. An observation based solely on your writing and a hunch: You will like it up here in anchortown. Certainly there's the bad of the city, but so much more freedom to explore and places to explore. Lived in SLC myself, ANC is similar in that so much is within 1/2 day drive. See you on the trails. Don't laugh too hard as you pass me.

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  78. Anonymous12:26 PM

    "I find it interesting that people think their own experiences equate to "the norm"...."

    No one else's experience is the norm, but yours is? Oh, okay.

    Juneau is a transient place, people tend not to stick around. Like it or not, that's the norm. Don't you remember the recent article about how Juneau has been completely stagnant, growth-wise, in the last decade? People just don't want to live there. There's no point in taking it personally.

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  79. Anonymous2:13 PM

    You will like Anchorage. I really enjoyed living there, but stumbled into a situation similar to the one you are in now.

    I too moved north and now live in Fairbanks. I like it very much here too.

    I miss certain things about Anchorage, certain conveniences, cheap movies at the Bear's Tooth, a burger and milkshake from Tommy's, Indian food, but I love the space, serenity, and consistent winter cold of Fairbanks (watching the snow melt away under warm temps and rain during a January Pineapple Express in Anchorage made me a thousand times more depressed than the 4 hours of mid-winter daylight here in Fairbanks).

    When Fairbanks wears off, who knows where to next, but I am happy now. As you said, that is the most important thing.

    Good luck with your move. Have a burger at Tommy's for me.

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  80. I hope you have happiness wherever you end up calling home.
    www.trilingualdiva.blogspot.com

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  81. Anonymous6:53 PM

    Bought a box of books from a used book store and a paper back titled

    The Hero Within
    Six Archetypes
    We Live By
    By. Carol S. Pearson,PH.D
    Harper collins pub.

    Seemed to really fit the thread here IMHO.

    Jeff

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  82. Anonymous8:49 PM

    Keep writing! You're awesome!

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  83. Julie in Alaska9:58 PM

    Hoorah, Jill. Good move. Juneau is so...Juneau. You know. Hope your move is great and April is lots of fun with family.

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  84. can't wait to see ya jill! good luck with your move, i'm sure it'll be a fun adventure!
    xxoojen

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  85. Chris5:27 AM

    Good for you Jill!! There have been a few times in my life that I have felt the same way and when I finally gained the courage to make the changes you have the I found the entire world opened up to me.

    Good get 'em my dear!!

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  86. Anonymous1:34 PM

    I clearly remember asking you what Juneau was like when we first met(you were eating a burger on my back deck after the 24 Hours of Light). You said it was like Prince Rupert only maybe a little wetter. I choked on my burger.

    I've since had the chance to discover that Juneau has some awesome people and decent beer, but jeeeeezus the weather!

    You'll knock 'em dead wherever you decide to crash land. You are, after all, extraordinarily awesome.
    Just remember to save the tasty bits from the burning wreck of your former life.

    I look forward to an Anchorage visit with the lovely and talented Jennoit.

    Whitehorse Ben

    PS I did notice the uncanny similarities between the things you want in a home town and our Yukon abode. Of course, Mountain Dew has no caffeine here so you could never immigrate.

    PPS Don't move south, the cold makes you strong.

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  87. Welcome to Anchorage. We'll be glad to have you. I've been more of a road cyclist the past few years, but will be doing more mountain bike riding this summer. I'll look for you around.

    Also, I second the recommendation to contact the Alaska Dispatch for a job. Their news coverage is actually better than the Daily News many times and they've scooped up many of the top columnists and reporters from the ADN and other news outlets. They are one of my first reads each day.

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  88. I can understand, from a different place in life, a bit of what you're going through. Good luck to you!

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  89. Excellent decision.....have fun wherever you land Jill!

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  90. I think this will be good for you. I think you have been lacking a challenge since the end of the Tour Divide. Back to the same job, same dead-end roads, the same (however beautiful) mountains. Did you notice how at the top of every mountain you were so happy being above and beyond Juneau? Good luck with the new adventure!

    Bob

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  91. change is good. who's to say why things/people/places work for a while... and then they just don't anymore. you can only stay somewhere "trying to make it work" for so long. been there. better to move on- see & experience new places, people, & adventures than to stagnate somewhere where you don't feel happy anymore. at least that's what i tell myself!
    :)
    ps- got your book & really enjoying it so far- you've got a great writing style!

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  92. New journeys are tough. However, I think you will do great-keep us informed.

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  93. People think Juneau is a dead end? I moved down here from Nome. After living there, Juneau feels like New York Freakin City! Now that I've aclimated a bit I'm thinking of Anchorage too. Safe travels!

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  94. How would one get in contact with you Jill? Can you contact me through the contact section of the site linked with my name? Thanks ---Zach

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