Friday, April 09, 2010

Go Anchorage

I arrived in Anchorage on Wednesday evening. For all the times I have visited here, I still have no concept of the layout of this "big city." I drove in increasingly larger circles for nearly 20 minutes, looking for my new place. The street I live on is called Juneau Drive. It's fitting.

I arrived at home just as the setting sun cast its pink light on the Chugach Mountains. It only took me an hour to unload my car. By midnight, I had my room mostly arranged the way I will probably keep it. In four hours, my whole life, transferred. This is who I am, and for the most part I love living a somewhat transient, simple lifestyle. But I also must cope with the uncertainty and perpetual disorientation of it all, which is where I am right now.

I set out on my bike for most of the afternoon Thursday, trying to get a sense of the place. The greenbelt trail system is mushy with slush and soft snow, but for the most part still rideable with my "skinny" studded tires on my Karate Monkey. Although I tried to force myself onto the busy streets so I could get an understanding of the different parts of town, it was difficult not to drift back onto the trails when I saw them. And just like that, I was back in the quiet part of Alaska, birch trees and snow-swept muskeg.

I followed the Coastal Trail from end to end, but got stopped just short of Kincaid Park because there was a cow moose on one side of the trail and her calf on the other, and neither of them were moving. Earlier, I had waited for 10 minutes for the moose in this photo. I couldn't bring myself to pass her until I watched three joggers do so. Moose don't live near Juneau, so that's another thing that's going to take some getting used to.

So what will I do now that I'm in Anchorage? It's an excellent question, and one I'm pretty freaked out about right now because I'm not even sure. I intentionally set out into the unknown without much of a plan, and now I will have to forge a path. There are a lot of directions I can go. I plan to meet with several editors I have already been in contact with, in Utah and in Anchorage, and get a few projects set up. I hope to pursue an outlet for this book project I already have going, because I think it's a worthy project and it's not getting any better just sitting here on my computer. I'll probably peruse job listings daily and keep my ears open in case something awesome opens up. But I do hope to find the time to tour around and do several of the trips I have always wanted to do, especially as summer opens up new terrain. I hope to do some bike tours, visit Homer and Valdez and Fairbanks. I am the type of person who needs a job - or at least some kind of structure, even if it's just training for a big bike race - to stay happy, so I have to keep reminding myself that I am taking this chance because, for better or worse, I have to freedom to do so right now, and even if I fail it won't be the end of the world.

Right now I am still having problems with my right knee. It gets unhappy after just an hour or so on the bike, and after four hours yesterday it was downright livid. My knee became stiff and inflamed enough that the swelling came back for a few hours. I'm a little frustrated about that, but I'm trying to keep some perspective on it. Long bike tours might be out right now, but at least I can ride a little, and hiking and even mild running doesn't seem to hit it too hard.

But for now, right now, I am going to take advantage of this transitory period to travel down to Utah to visit my family and my new nephew. I'm actually leaving Saturday morning. Pretty soon, but that's just the nature of the available standby tickets. When I get back here, I'll do something. Still not sure exactly what. I guess that's a big source of the anxiety, and the excitement.

At least Cady seems happy at home. All is forgiven.


  1. All that car time couldn't have helped your knee. How's the cat?

  2. My grandma once saw a moose up near our family's cottage in Ontario. She came home all excited telling us about the "ugly horse" she had seen! When we asked her if this ugly horse had horns, she realized her mistake. We still tease her about it to this day. ;)

  3. Juancho, the cat is doing great. She's already asserted her dominance with my roommate's pit bull and has settled in nicely. I added a picture.

    I thought the driving probably didn't help the knee. I have a five-hour flight Saturday, and that's not going to do it any favors either.

  4. Welcome to Anchortown! It might not seem so at first, but it is a fairly bikeable city.

    As for a Valdez ride, may I suggest the 200 flavor of the Fireweed 400? I'm signing up for sure.

    The road up and through Far North Bicentennial Park is a great, quiet climb. And a great view from the top.

  5. Are you kidding me!!? I lived on the corner of Juneau and 28th!! I think it was Juneau Street though, not Drive, although I think it's just on the other side of the Chester Creek! We could have been neighbors!!

    I have a feeling you are going to make me miss Anchorage big time!

  6. Welcome to Anchortown. I ride a lot here (mostly in the summer) and some roads are definitely more rideable than others. If you would like some hints on good places to ride, drop me an email or just check out the Anchorage Bike Plan (Google it) and look at the "ratings" for various roads and trails. I found their map to be pretty accurate about which roads I felt comfortable riding on.

    Check out the Arctic Bike Club webpage too. Lots of races and rides all summer long.

  7. Here is a direct link to the bike plan. See Figures 13 and 14.

  8. Welcome to moose country.

    Statistically, they're more dangerous than bears, but then there are lot more moose and they hang around populated areas a lot. But you do need to take them seriously.

    That said, they're pretty easy to read. Ears up and hackles down? They're not upset and the biggest problem is they may not want to get out of your way. I skijor, and will see a moose up ahead and stop, with the dogs barking. The moose will often turn and look, seemingly saying "oh, just a guy with sled dogs" and go back to eating with its rump out in the trail. I'll scream and holler and try to find the right annoying voice to get it to move off the trail, but sometimes end up going back.

    The good thing is that unlike bears, they don't have a built-in instinct to chase prey. So if they do start chasing you if you do sneak past, they'll probably stop once you're just a ways past them and a calf, if they have one.

    Ears down, hackles up? Snorting or pawing? Don't get close and back off.

    Even more dangerous than a cow with a calf is a moose that's been harassed by dogs or people. An elderly man was stomped to death on the UAA campus several years ago when he was headed up to a building past a moose kids had been throwing stuff at.

    Good time to get out of Anchorage--things will be much dryer when you get home.

    Tom in Fairbanks

  9. Hi.

    I think you should get a Sat Nav, lol.

    I hope your right knee gets a good rest and is better soon.

    Oh...and I wonder, not that I am an expert over disclosure...but, should you be talking about where you live and then say you are going away for a spell? I was a little concerned when I read that. Please keep safe. xx

  10. Hello, I'm not sure how I found your blog - but I'm glad I did. As a former resident of Anchorage, and if you are a coffee drinker - head to Kaladi Brothers coffee for a fabulous cup o' joe (or latte, or whatever your preference :-)

    Gotta say, it tickled me to see this photo of the moose - ahh the memories.

  11. Hi there, glad to have found your blog. You so inspire!
    with love Caroline x
    Ps. More pics of purr-fect Cady please!!

  12. Enjoy this time right now, sister. The first month I was in California, I didn't know what to do with myself...All the free time...enjoy every minute of it. Get lost. Find your way home. Eat at new restaurants, because you can. Talk to people. Sleep in. Find the city. Walk down Main Street (maybe bike it). Play with Cady. Read. Write. And be proud of yourself.

    From one pack-my-life-in-my-car-and-move-to-a-completely-new-place girl to another, Love you,

    (PS- say hi to UTAH for me!)

  13. Enjoy yourself Jill, and make the most of your time with family.

  14. Have fun with your sister and nephew! That photo of Cady is too cute.

  15. just love your blog spots so much - they're constant reminders of the need to enjoy the simplicities pf life and sometimes do what you've done: venture into the unknown with an open mind and heart.

    It's also been a little bit of geography lessons. Anchrage, I believe, will be a blessing to you.

    Cute kitty.
    Safe journey to Utah.
    Be sure to post.

  16. We lived in Anchorage for 10+ years and I still managed to get lost...It's just who I am and what I do!! :-) Be safe!!

  17. Hi Jill,
    Just finished reading Ghost Trails - I reviewed it in my sidebar. I see you've moved and are still doing endurance races. Good luck to you!

  18. Well there you are.. in Anchorage, an entirely new adventure for you.

    Drop an anchor there and see how it turns out.

    I think "Cady" will appreciate it, as will you.

    I'd say "Good Luck", but we all know better. It's not about luck at all know is it?..

    You'll do well wherever you wind up.

  19. Love the photos in this post. Take care of yourself, the knee, and your cute cat!

  20. hi! I just discovered your blog, and it brought me good memories of my stay in F'banks in my previous life as a non triathlete. thanks!

  21. Hi Jill! I'm new to blogger but not to your blog!

    I am moving to Juneau in May on a six month work contract. I started a blog to photodocument my experiences. Your blogging about Juneau makes me feel a little bit better about making the move there, so thank you stranger! Haha.

    I'm def a rookie to the outdoors but am just simply in love with it. I look forward to following your adventures in Anchorage. Hope you follow along on my adventures too!!

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