Thursday, March 03, 2011

The journey reveals more along the way

This week, I went for bike rides. I went for bike rides the way I used to in the summertime, when there was daylight to burn, and I had no agenda, and the miles and space slipped away like so much dust in a warm breeze. I just wanted to ride, to somewhere. I usually didn't know where, until I got there. They were always amazing places, these summertime places, bathed in pink light and the pungent aroma of pine. They helped me leave Alaska behind, for a while, and reminded me that happiness is not a place; it's a series of moments. The moments come and go like the summertime wind. Following happiness is like following the wind. Sometimes you will go miles in a strange direction; other times, you'll weave erratically back and forth in the same place. Eventually you may realize that the place you are seeking isn't a place at all; it's the movement itself. Happiness isn't carried by the wind. It is the wind.

On Monday, I rode through the crowded part of town and headed up Grant Creek Canyon, into the opague edge of a sleet storm. As pellets of ice pelted my face, I attempted a jaunt up the Ravine Trail. The narrow packed-snow singletrack was too slushy and soft to gain enough traction, so I turned around.

On Tuesday, it snowed. I looked for more trails in Pattee Canyon. Mount Dean Stone had been reduced to a single ski track beyond the gate. Crazy Canyon Road wasn't much more feasible. The descent was a full-body shower of gray slush and little bits of gravel. Winter is losing its battle, but it's still strong enough to block out the expansiveness of summer. I felt like I was on the front line, trying to choose sides. Do I seek solitude and tranquility, or energy and expansiveness? On Wednesday, I rode in pursuit of both.

Butler Creek Canyon — a seldom-used utility route for power lines and TV towers. It's not trafficked by the general public. Finding a rideable snowmobile trail was a far-away chance, but I took it. I rode my snow bike 10 grinding miles into the wind just to see what new kinds of places existed on the far side of town. It had been four months since I last came here.

Despite temperatures in the high 30s and waning but strong streaks of sunshine, the lightly tracked trail was in decent if soft shape. The grade is relentless, even in the summer. I rode to the limits of my endurance for a blistering 4 mph until I was ready to blow up, then pushed until my sore feet started to complain. It was a good, happy slog, my best since Susitna. The cool breeze chilled the droplets of sweat on my face, and the sun warmed my soul.

Far, far up the mountain, the direction I wanted to go abruptly ended. There was a single ski track, no trail. I could slog through thigh-deep snow for two miles to Snowbowl Ski Resort, or I could go back the way I came. I had this vague feeling that I had been here before, in a long-ago moment in the summertime. In the midst of a 50-mile evening ride, I came to this junction from the Snowbowl side. Darkness was coming, and I was afraid of the unknown path ahead. Did it dead end? Shoot out on the wrong side of the mountains? I wanted to go back the way I came. But something pulled me toward the setting sun. I launched down the Butler Creek Canyon side, with no idea where I might end up.

I am moving to California. I am moving there to follow happiness, my relationship and my adventures with Beat. It is a long story that is impossible to tell in a blog post, but the details have been here all along. I made a life-changing decision to leave Alaska; then the winds changed, and I had to choose again. There are so many things I have to leave behind ... a good job, great friends, amazing mountain biking, regular access to winter and the brilliant expansiveness of summer in Montana. It is hard, and yet beyond the narrow focus of dismantling my entire life, again — I feel only optimism. I don't know where this wind will take me. But if I don't follow it, I will spend a static life always wondering where it went.

57 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:00 PM

    you maybe leaving some things behind, but so MUCH to go TO! and MT, AK, UT aren't going anywhere... and new amazing experiences and places are waiting! congratulations, Jill!!!
    kristin

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  2. Best of luck. I have been reading your excellent blog since you were in Alaska. I am the father of two daughters, one close to your age. I'm struggling with what advice I would give her in your situation. Probably I would just let her go and follow her dreams after telling her never to give up her own accomplishments for a man.

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  3. So excited and happy and tingly for you! I figured the change was Beat-oriented and that's why I've been stalking your blog the last few days :) I'm bummed about you leaving Missoula but then again, I was sad that you left AK. It's silly for me to feel that way as you find fabulous things wherever you go. Adventures are good and they comes in more than just the athletic variety. It's none of my business but I feel in my bones that this is such a great, great move for you. Now...when do you go?

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  4. Anonymous10:51 PM

    Girl, you so crazy! Beat one lucky man. Hope this turns out OK for you, seems like you were in a good place with job and scenery. CA is too full of people and broke of money, lots of smog too. Hope it works out tho. Maybe go to Seattle next, who knows. Beat is a funny name too!

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  5. james3:33 AM

    Jill, following your heart, wherever it leads you, takes you to places your head can never go. Kudos to you and Beat for moving forward together, and never leaving one another behind. May you always have the wind behind you.

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  6. Good call lady. He seems like and awesome guy and if you really need it, good jobs don't run away.

    I'm sure you'll manage to enjoy yourself in Ca. Maybe join us on the triathlon circuit? Cool and wet followed by hot and sweaty. It can get adictive!

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  7. Congratulations Jill!
    Following your heart Beat is wise (sorry, couldn't resist).
    You revel in below freezing temps and nasty weather like no other. But with your adventurous spirit and new wisdom of love, happiness and smell the roses no matter your address, I am sure you will acclimate to the California climes and the unique landscape out your new back door. The Sierras await you.
    Please keep on posting!

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  8. I'm so excited for you! California has so much beauty beyond its cities, and in some places you can even find snow! NO JOKE. :)

    Best of luck to you in your new journey.

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  9. Congratulations--I've been hoping things would work out for you & Beat. I can't imagine you not finding your niche in California. Mazel tov!

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  10. Some time ago I followed my heart and left my beautiful Oregon and moved to Texas (hey, ain't you feeling lucky now?). Sometime ago Bryon left DC and moved to Yosemity. And many stories more...you do that, girl. You always follow your heart. It's the only one we've got.

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  11. Good for you. Your tribe will follow you anywhere.

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  12. Anonymous5:57 AM

    I knew it! Go girl, write your book, follow your heart, never stop. Beat looks like the kind of guy that cares a lot about you. Your future is always safe, go ahead without fear.

    El Animal

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  13. Hate to be the naysayer here....
    Big mistake. Geoff all over again. Montana is sooo much better than Cali, on so many levels. If it's real, how come these guys don't move to be with you?
    That being said, I wish you only the best and sincerely hope I can say to myself, "You were wrong".
    I'll be watching and hoping.

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  14. I wondered how long it would be before one of you moved! It's beautiful to see how your relationship is blossoming and how your passions are growing together. That is an awesome way to start a partnership. California will be a big change - less snow, more sun. I can't wait to read about your next adventures! Best of luck to you!

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  15. Durango Joe6:38 AM

    Climatcially, scenically, geologically, California is one of the most amazing places on the planet. It's also got a lot of people. Slipping thru the cracks, you can find near-city adventures, and with a little travel, you can still access true wilderness. One more adventure.....

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  16. I am a Missoulian who loves your blog and shares your interests. My wife and I just made a similar decision to leave this beautiful place to raise our children closer to family. These decisions are so difficult and not everyone can understand. You have to follow your heart and embrace the adventure.

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  17. z-man, I don't know Geoff but I know Beat fairly well and he's a kind, goofy, funny, gregarious and fabulous guy. I've spent time with Jill and Beat together and think they will be super happy together -- (not apart in the same space, which is how it seemed to be in her prior long-term relationship). Not that she needs others' approval, but I am quite certain you are wrong. (Though I am sad she's moving away from me).

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  18. Love is fantastic! Follow your heart! Go make more wonderful memories together!

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  19. Oh and there are virtually no jobs in MT, which is why he couldn't move here. Especially given what he does -- he's really sort of stuck in CA for awhile.

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  20. How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm once they've seen Karl Hungus?

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  21. Jill I am very excited you will be in silicon valley. There is a LOT of wild country in CA for you to play in. I have been following your blog for years and you are an inspiration to me. I dont do quite such wild things as you do, but my freinds think I am crazy.... Glad you are following your heart. My wonderful husband is a great cook, perhaps you two could stop by for dinner sometime? Jennifer

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  22. Exciting news! It's weird to be thrilled for a total stranger, but I am. I wish you both all the happiness in the world. Adventures can be had anywhere you look for them. I never understood your affinity for snow anyway :)

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  23. Congratulations Jill. Long time follower - it is a good thing you did not change the blog name to Up in Montana! Does nto really matter where you live as you make the magic happen wherever you are. Ancious to follow the Cali adventures. Ride - and now run - on.

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  24. Been following a very long time, don't know either one of you and even I can see you and Beat are made for each other. Follow your heart, it will lead you to a lifetime of love, fun and adventure. Here's to new travels.

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  25. Okay, a very selfish and self-absorbed response: Now Jill can hike the JMT with me in 2012! Even though I've never met her! I'll just make her carry all the stuff!

    Seriously. I hope it all works out for the best. I have had both good and bad experiences following my heart, but I don't regret a one.

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  26. Welcome to California. Montana's loss is our gain.

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  27. Anonymous8:50 AM

    z-man,

    Wrong. As a former Californian currently living in Montana, I can say that both have incredible beauty. Cali has the Sierra Nevada, one of the finest mountain ranges on earth. Then there's the Mojave Desert. And finally, there's also that thing called the Pacific Ocean, which ain't too shabby. I'll concede that it's filled with people, but some of them are downright nice.

    Snakebite,

    Best. Comment. Ever.

    - A Fella In Montana

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  28. Jill, I know you'll miss the cold and snow (well, there is White Mountains coming up), but we welcome you to the land of sun-worshipers! Once you guys are settled in, I'll dust off my old mountain bike and we can all head up one of the local hills for a proper baptism into our religion...don't forget the sunscreen ;-).

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  29. Kristin9:28 AM

    Good for you, Jill! Montana will be sorry to see you go, but you and Beat seem to be a perfect couple and you've got to give that relationship a chance to (continue to) blossom.

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  30. Anonymous9:38 AM

    California is a funny place....I hate it and love it 10 times in a given day. I've tried to leave here almost every year since I was 18 but have never been gone for more than a few months.

    Take the time to figure out what you enjoy doing out here and how to escape. It's taken me many years but I feel like I know how to get away from it all when I need to.

    It's a wonderful place, I think you'll love it. Steph and I always have floor space for you if you wind up in Orange County for any reason. We even have some snow riding right now:-)

    Brian Blair

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  31. Lizzy TF10:58 AM

    Jill

    I follow this blog now since finding it randomly last summer - I have never added a comment before but enjoy each and every one of your posts - feel inspired by your energy and drive and just love the photos of the moments you capture. I live in way off West of Scotland but have lived and worked in West Coast BC and travelled small parts of Alaska and love those mountains . . . I think you can only follow your heart. You seem an amazing lass and Beat a fantastic guy - just go for it! I met my husband on the West coast Canada and we had many airmiles under our belt before we finally realised that we needed to be together . . . 15 years later, wouldn't change it for all the tea in China!

    All the best

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  32. Anonymous11:16 AM

    I've been following your amazing blog for the past two years. It's a little strange being so thrilled for someone whom I have never met before. I'm so happy for you and Beat. You both are like two peas in a pod together. Perfection! I'm looking forward to reading about your future adventures with Beat by your side! Many blessings to you both.

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  33. What?! You're leaving Montana to go live with Beat in California?! What a shock!!!! ha ha, not really. I think most readers probably saw this coming maybe even before you did. I've been reading your blog since your first Iditabike and these past few months have revealed the happiest posts you've ever written. Best of luck in your new relationship. You and Beat will travel enough to feel like you are not "stuck" in California, I'm sure.

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  34. Congrat's! I thought that might happen. Now maybe I'll get to meet both of you in CA. BTW, I'll be doing 2 trail runs mid-late March with CTR (Redwood Park) and Brazen (Diablo) (that could change to PCTR-Pirates Cove). Let me know if one or both of you will be in the area! Ann

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  35. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Congrats, wishing you all the very best in this adventure! Yall will have so much fun exploring all the wild places of ca, together!

    After dating almost 4 years, I finally moved to be with my now hubby and we couldn't be happier. No more wasted play time travelling! I miss the more outdoorsy area very much, but wouldn't trade the move for anything. The playing is not the same here, yet it is so much better to be able to play together, every day.

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  36. I wanted to add that shared wilderness experiences help you get to know the real character of a person quickly. My husband and I shared a number of intense outdoor adventures together and with every adventure we had a chance to see each other at our worst and at our best, as I'm sure you and Beat have done. We've been together over 30 years and are still enjoying an adventurous life together - I wish the same happiness for you.

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  37. Anonymous2:30 PM

    Yep, most of your loyal readers already knew what was next for you... but I for one was *really* *really* hoping you'd be with Adventure Cycling a lot longer, and that you and your beau could do the weekend travel-thing for awhile longer (I did it for over two years, and HE moved to ME).

    My hubby is a recovering Californian, and every time we visit CA (and I mean virtually everywhere in the state) there is one phrase that comes to mind: TOO. MANY. PEOPLE. Its exasperating! Probably with him by your side, you'll be able to get past the population and culture shocks. Best of luck!

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  38. Snakebite- That's hilarious.

    We at the Bigringcircus salute you and wish you and the fine gentleman well for many adventures to come!

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  39. sharon roes4:23 PM

    Jill, best of luck to you - I suspected this would happen sooner or later - either you would go there or he would move to Montana - good choice to be together. Your relationship can move on now. Keep up your blog - I read it every day.

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  40. Have to agree with Betsy...saw this coming. Something had to give. Your happiness since meeting Beat has shown so brightly through this blog. Happy for the two of you, a little sad for Adventure Cycling.....and Pugsley.

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  41. Go Jill Go!
    Never surrender!
    Live...
    Laugh...
    Love...

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  42. Anonymous7:46 PM

    z-man is a punk
    and very wrong
    you chose your own attitude
    all your life long

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  43. Put me in the "yeah I thought this might happen" category. Congrats to you and Beat.

    Now if I have this right, isn't there a really cool job that's becoming available in Missoula? Whose going to fill those big shoes?

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  44. Follow it Jill! You will only live this life once.

    "Life is Good" I wish you all the best.

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  45. Ronbomon3:41 AM

    Jill, great post. You have the courage to follow your heart & spirit. People like me might do well to try that now and then...

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  46. Thanks Anon but maybe I know a thing or two about life you don't.

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  47. I'm so happy for you, and excited to read about the new adventures that will ensue! Let me know if you need a new slog, I've got a couple here in the south bay.

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  48. So happy for you and Beat! Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in CA!!!

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  49. z-man

    If I remember correctly, Geoff did follow Jill from Homer, AK to Juneau, AK when she took a new job.

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  50. Julie in Alaska6:44 PM

    You only go around once and you have always lived with heart and gusto! Have a blast you two! You'll soon be traversing all over the place together, I know.

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  51. "They helped me leave Alaska behind, for a while, and reminded me that happiness is not a place; it's a series of moments. The moments come and go like the summertime wind. Following happiness is like following the wind. Sometimes you will go miles in a strange direction; other times, you'll weave erratically back and forth in the same place. Eventually you may realize that the place you are seeking isn't a place at all; it's the movement itself. Happiness isn't carried by the wind. It is the wind."

    As someone who has recently moved from Alaska and had (and still has) a hard time leaving it behind, this paragraph made me really stop and think. You are absolutely right, it's about following the wind. I'm glad you continue to follow the wind, even if it's the tougher way to go.

    If you ever make your way to the Eureka area, look us up. :)

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  52. Sister... I NEVER thought I'd see the day when you would move to this state! I just googled it (thanks to Beat, right?) and we are only about 6 and half hours away from each other now :) I am seriously happy for you and can't wait to be closer to you!

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  53. I second what Jerry said: Montana's loss is our gain. I'm a Northern California girl, surrounded by gorgeous mountains and glassy lakes. It's a state full of beauty and adventure, both ready to be explored by you. Welcome!

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  54. From what I've learned from others who study these things, every relationship goes through an infatuation stage that lasts approx 18-24 months, where you just can't get enough of the other person. So I don't think it's a good idea making such wholesale life changes at this point in your relationship. But I don't presume to tell you how to live your life...you've done a good job so far! And like every other person who follows your blog, I sincerely hope that this works out wonderfully. Beat seems to be a great guy and we all want to see you two live happily ever after! We're all in your corner. Maybe I'm just disappointed because your scenery take a downturn in every new locality... :-(

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  55. I too would like to thank Beat for helping to make the Google.

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  56. You go girl. Holy shit is right! And you'll be able to visit Leslie and Keith even more often! Maybe one day I'll meet you too.

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