Thursday, June 17, 2010

Going, going, gone

This week has been one of those rare instances (for me at least) where life is happening faster than I can write about it. I'm the kind of person that puts journaling before things like eating and sleeping; after all, memory is fickle and life has a way of getting away from you. Well, life is getting away from me right now. I don't even have time to post this particular blog post, but I figured it was important to let my family know that Geo and I have made to Banff, Alberta, so only a half day of driving on a high-traffic highway with lots of services lies between me and my new home in Montana. (My family will be ever so happy to hear this bit of news, as the old Geo was never intended to make one trip between the Lower 48 and Alaska, let alone four.)

Yes, I've left Alaska. Right now I'm in a state of mourning that has been partly tempered by excitement for my new opportunities in Montana, and further numbed by 42 long, long hours behind the wheel in a 60-hour span of time. Despite the endurance driving, the trip has gone quite well so far. It's about 2,100 miles from Anchorage to Banff, and with a loaded-down Geo on the narrow Alaska Highway under heavy summer construction, I'd be surprised if my average was over 50 mph. (Also, I have a cat with me that hates to travel. Luckily, she is also a world-wise animal and knows when to resign herself to the inevitable.) Together, the old car, the irritated cat and I just ground away at it, and when I wasn't driving, I was trying to squeeze in a few last-minute adventures.

My last official Alaska adventure was a simple camping and clamming trip in Ninilchik. I went on the trip because I wanted to spend one last weekend with my good friends and their daughter. I'd never before been interested in clamming - to me it looked like wallowing in mud, soaking up a stiff seawater chill and wrestling sharp, slimy objects that really aren't all that tasty even when fried up in butter. But clamming actually is fairly fun. Those slimy little creatures really do fight, and you really do have to get in their with your hands and dig fast.

I had all these hopeful Chugach plans on the burner, but they were swiftly pushed out of reach by the realities of packing and moving. I left Anchorage on Tuesday morning, picked up my passport that had just arrived (just in the nick of time) in Palmer, and hit the road. By Tuesday night, I was 750 miles away in Whitehorse. I delayed my Wednesday start so I could enjoy one last Yukon mountain bike ride with my friend Anthony. We stayed out for nearly three hours and I didn't get back on the road until after 1 p.m. From there, I've pretty much drove straight through to Banff, more than 1,350 miles down the bumpy, winding road. I took a car nap for a few hours outside of Grand Prairie (it was by that time 7 a.m., full sunlight, and hot.) I also stopped on the Icefields Parkway for a hike up Parker Ridge, a place that I had hiked in January. It doesn't look all that different in June - still snow covered, rocky, and mountainous. But the big push was worth it. I now have a full two days to spend in Banff before I have to return to the United States and, ahem, start working for a living.

There's really not much I can say right now about leaving Alaska. My fatigue is cutting through my sadness and anticipation. It's almost as though I rammed in the long miles and cranked up the iPod just to temper the runaway freight train of thoughts and emotions about it all. Now all I have left on the surface is a vague sense of forward motion, and a sparse handful of pictures ...

From the mountains,

To the prairies,

To the icefields, white with snow.

God bless Canada; I'm almost home.


  1. Sorry to see you go, glad I got to ride with ya. Best of luck!

  2. I hope you find what you looking for in Montana and you have a stress free move.

    Thank you for brightening my dark Pacific Northwest days with your pictures!

  3. Good luck to you Jill. I feel sad and excited for you and it's not even my adventure!

  4. Well that is an interesting change of events, no more Alaska.

  5. I am going to miss reading about your adventures in such a beautiful land, but since your moving to my all time favorite state (so far) it will still be great to read about your adventures. Good luck on your new job.

    Ithaca, NY

  6. I've been a "lurker" following your adventures in Alaska for a long while and wanted to wish you the best of luck.

    While I certainly enjoyed seeing and hearing about Alaska in your posts, it wasn't Alaska that kept me coming back to this blog -- it was you. So, I'll be just as happy hearing about "Jill in Montana" and I hope you'll discover happiness and fulfillment too.

    Best wishes!

  7. Are you going to rename the blog or just put it to rest?

  8. WOW!! I leave the world of computer land and see what happens. You have made a big jump into a new future. Lots of good luck and good times in "Big Sky" country.

  9. Banff is awesome. You'll be glad to have two days there but it won't be enough.

  10. Good luck in Montana! I have been enjoying your blog for years and I am de-lurking just long enough to let you know that you are world famous! I am from Colorado, but I am currently in the French Alps doing some road riding. Three days ago I matched pace with a Brit while we were both nearing the top of the Alpe d'Huez climb. We got to talking and he told me he was planning on riding next year's Tour of the Divide. I told him he should check out the blog 'Up In Alaska' and he answered "You mean Jill Homer?"

    So, as I said, you are world famous. I might have to renew my subscription to 'Adventure Cycling.' Bon chance from France!

  11. Wahooo!! You are now officially a Montana girl! I really hope you love love Missoula. It is really a great town (I grew up in the Bitteroot Valley just south of Missoula) which has lots of outdoorsy opportunities. Good luck with your new job and I hope you grow to love Montana as much as you did Alaska.

  12. Well...

    I guess it's going to be "Up in Montana" from now on!

    Good on you for making the jump Jill.

  13. I hope your new adventures are just as wonderful as your past. I am also hoping that you don't stop your blog, I love reading about the beautiful worlds you are exploring and your love for them!

  14. Jill, glad to see you broke 2 million hits on your blog. In my opinion, you have the best blog on the planet. The second best is Le Blog de Brigitte in the French Alps. You both have stunning photographs of your outdoor adventures. I just wish I understood French.

    Can't wait to buy your third book about Montana...

  15. Yep, World famous!

    I Follow the blog from The Netherlands

    And I even buy a Surly Pugsley


  16. Have fun in Banff. Beautiful area! I expect to see some pictures!

  17. Let the new journey begin....lots of surprises and fun I bet..........

  18. I'm envious of you, and while this chapter is ending, another chapter is just beginning for you in Big Sky Country. My journeys have taken me to southeastern Alaska, and I can't begin to describe the beauty of this immense state. Hopefully, I can do my thing here as you have, with success and good tidings.

    Good luck. I hope that your blog finds a continued life in Montana. Good luck and God speed.

  19. I did not have a clue you were leaving the state. At least you are moving to a place that is almost as cool as up here. I am being forced to move to L.A. Yikes!!

    Alaska will always be here. You just have to make sure you find time to come back every once in a while.

  20. Best of luck in Montana, Jill, from one of your avid readers in Juneau.

    Alaska is obviously special, but I don't have any doubt that you can take the same spirit of adventure -- maybe the essence of Alaska -- to another outdoor paradise.

    I'm going to take a close look at Adventure Cycling because of you.


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