Showing posts from November, 2014

Thank you notes

I headed out to Utah again, to visit my extended family for Thanksgiving. The whole Homer clan is still invited for the spread, even as the number of great-grandchildren increases on an exponential scale. I like to make the journey because Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. Lower expectations, lower stress, and all the same cognitive dissonance when that cousin I still remember being 3 years old shows up fresh from her own journey across Alaska. Cousin Erick makes the famous potatoes, Uncle Steve makes the fresh cranberry sauce, and my mom bakes the pies. She always makes the pies, with their crisp, flaky crust and years of creme filling perfection, and no one seems to notice when she fusses over keeping the whipped cream chilled and cutting fresh banana slices. I love my mother's pies. They're a reason to go home for Thanksgiving, among many. Everything was delicious this year. Inexplicably, nothing contained Jell-O. 
 Friends and family already know by now that I …

Cone Peak getaway

While blogging about Alaska for the past three weeks, I've had a full November here in California, including rapidly expanding my range of mobility, exploring new bike routes, and relishing the freedom of running again. There's really no better way to gain new appreciation for something then to have it taken away, even for a short eight weeks. I'm slowly gaining confidence in my knee stability and have worked up to eight-mile runs. Even on my boring old routine trails from home, I feel an almost manic buzz when returning from a run — along with tight IT bands. Eventually both of these things will balance out, but I'm enjoying the fun while I can. 
 On Sunday my friend Leah and I stole away for an overnight bike trip in the Big Sur region, climbing to Cone Peak and then looping around the Coast Ridge back to Highway 1. I have a tendency to fixate on planning larger trips, and all too often neglect quick getaways from home. After chatting with Leah earlier this week, we…

Iditarod Again, part nine

As dusk faded, a thick, subzero cold oozed back into the Kuskokwim Valley, as though daylight had been the only force holding it at bay. We were coated in frost by the time we arrived in Nikolai, barraging the Petruskas all at once with five hungry walkers who hadn’t stepped inside a building in three days. The house was just a few notches below roasting thanks to a cavernous wood stove, and we clustered in the doorway as we raced to remove as much clothing as possible before the sweat glands kicked in. 
Anne had already returned to Nikolai and flown out — we waved to her from the ground as her husband's small plane passed overhead. Steve was there and had been for a few hours, but he was already packing up to leave again. It was just after 8 p.m. and this night promised to be insidiously cold. There was much commotion in the room, and I was about to tease Steve for being antisocial, when he informed us that he just learned his father had died. He’d made phone calls and determine…

Iditarod Again, part eight

My post-bison-mud-bog outburst drained away whatever reserves of energy I had left to spend on angst. Despite continued concern about the Farewell Lakes, I no longer cared whether I fell through a crack in the ice and drowned, or not. The Zen of resignation. The silent self-coaching did continue, however. I decided that, minute for minute, this section of the Iditarod Trail in these conditions had been the most continuously strenuous thing I had ever tried. PTL was tough and frequently scary, but it didn’t have twelve solid hours of hauling a refrigerator up a steep mountain slope. This was sort of like that.

I couldn’t help but look at my watch. “It’s been twelve hours since we left Rohn,” I lamented. “We haven't even hit the Farewell Lakes yet, not even 25 miles.”

Beat just shrugged. I already knew our average pace had fallen below two miles an hour, but the math was discouraging. 
We reached the edge of the first Farewell lake, which is called Low Lake, rendered a bottomless s…