Friday, April 23, 2010

When it rains in Utah

Compared to Southeast Alaska, the weather in Utah is so boring, except when it's not. As much as I've lamented the frequent lack of UV light in Alaska, the truth is I'm inclined to feel sun-fried much faster than I feel the effects of seasonal affective disorder. And as soon as my lips are blistered to the point where I can't even eat medium salsa without crying (and believe me, I try everything - from slathering my lips with SPF 60 to continuous applications of SPF 30 chapstick - and they still burn) ... I start to wish for a few clouds.

But the clouds weren't particularly welcome on Wednesday, when I was going to meet up with a couple of my Utah friends that I had yet to see, to go mountain biking in Draper. "I don't know about today," my mom said when I told her about my plans. "It's going to be wet."

"What you guys think of as wet is not wet!" I exclaimed. "Maybe you get rained on for a minute, but you're dry before you even look up."

Still, because I (I mean my parents) live in Draper, my friend Anna called me before coming out to get the weather report. I walked to the front window and looked outside. "It's not even bad," I said. "It's dark overhead, but I can see sunlight to both the south and north. There's hardly even a breeze."

"What do you think?" Anna asked. "Is it going to clear out?"

"Well," I said, drawing a long breath as a loud howling sound approached like a train from the north. Flowers and bushes started to whip wildly and trees bent over backward. "It does look like the wind is starting to pick up."

Before I even emitted a closing breath to indicate to end of that sentence, the sky opened up. A blast of hail pellets rained down like bullets, pounding the roof with such violence that I had to raise my voice over the racket. "Now it's starting to hail! They're the size of marbles!" Before the barrage of ice balls even stopped, a solid sheet of rain slammed into the ground. In seconds, the storm released enough water to fill many hours of those seemingly endless misty drizzles in Alaska. The waterfall stirred up the solid white blanket of fallen hail like so much popcorn in an air popper.

"Yeah, now it's raining."

And, perhaps it's needless to say, but my friends decided it was not a good day for a bike ride. I ventured out about three hours later, hoping to check out the state of the sandy trails around Corner Canyon and perhaps still coax a meet-up. It continued to sprinkle and although the hard-packed trails yielded only the faintest track, I still felt self-conscious about trammeling trail etiquette. So I ventured onto dirt roads and even then hardly got splattered by mud. As I had predicted to my mother, everything was already mostly dry, despite the moisture still falling from the sky, and the rolling thunderstorms seemed to have abated.

I tried to call my friends out again, but it was too late. According to them, riding in the rain, even on pavement (my idea), demanded a "hardcore" disposition, which of course both of them have but neither felt like yielding to a silly thing like a Wednesday afternoon bike ride. I just kept riding for another couple hours in intermittent sprinkles, with both my hair and clothing magically becoming dry mere minutes after the rain stopped, in air that was warm and downright pleasant, grumbling to myself about how "hardcore" just doesn't mean what it used to.

And all the while, I kept a wary eye fixated on the dark clouds in the distance, wondering when the sky was going to open up and unleash all its fury again.

I was disappointed when it didn't.