Monday, April 25, 2016

Eastward home

 I warned Beat that Los Altos to Boulder is a really long drive. I explained that I genuinely enjoy sitting in a vehicle for hours on end, sipping gas station coffee and watching empty landscapes roll by, but I don't expect many people share my ability to do this and not become painfully bored. I also reiterated the high potential for weather-related drama along the mountainous route, although by late April I thought the worst would be over. Google would have covered Beat's flight, but he insisted he wanted to join me on the land route. We planned a two-day blitz of I-80 with a layover day in Salt Lake to visit my folks.

Beat decided to document the driving journey. Friday morning, we said goodbye to our last Bay Area traffic jam(s.)

A large storm front was barreling east on top of us, and the morning deluges became snow at Donner Pass. Chain controls and more traffic. So much for minimal weather drama in late April.

 It kept getting worse. Secretly I wanted to pull off the highway at Castle Peak trailhead and go play in the wet powder. I didn't voice this desire to Beat, but I wondered ... if I was alone, would I have given in?

The hills outside Reno. I've never seen them this color — usually they're a dull shade of sienna.

Outside Wendover, Nevada, a road sign warned of crosswinds gusting to 75 mph. Weather drama was high as we dropped onto the wide-open Bonneville Salt Flats, where gusts rocked the car violently, tumbleweeds shot toward us like cannons, and visibility dropped to less than a single car length at times. It looked like a white-out, but we could hear something gritty pummeling the car. Was this a sand storm in the fog? When visibility improved a bit, we could see a ground blizzard of sorts streaming across the pavement. Beat asked, "is that snow?" The temperature outside was 74 degrees. "No, I think that's salt," I said. "I think that's all salt."

At least I wasn't riding a bike. A 75-mph crosswind salt storm would probably be even worse than Alaska's sea ice in a 30 mph headwind with 40 below windchills (maybe.)

The visit to Salt Lake was fairly noneventful. We had lunch with my sister and then went for a short, soggy run in Corner Canyon. We were hoping to hike Mount Olympus, but the weather discouraged anything ambitious — heavy rain in the hills, wind, and a snow line that dropped below 7,000 feet. We were effectively following this storm east.

So of course we continued to tail the storm on Sunday. We chose to follow it along I-80, which turned out to be the wrong decision. While I-70 enjoyed a relatively nice, dry day, we got slammed with heavy rain and sleet outside Rawlins, Wyoming. The highway had only just opened after being closed all morning, and there were trucks jack-knifed along the road as 50-mph crosswinds pummeled us. Beat was annoyed with me because I advocated heavily against I-70. I maintain that he wasn't there with me in November when a not-so-large storm resulted in being stuck in traffic for eight hours between Vail and Boulder.

We were relieved to finally reach Boulder on Sunday evening. The weather was calm, dry and pleasant when we arrived at our empty house in the hills. I imagine many people moving 1,300 miles away would pack a car with clothing, dishes and other essentials, but Beat and I crammed the Subaru with our five most favorite bicycles (The three titanium fat bikes, my beloved Mooto-X mountain bike, and Sworxy the Specialized Roubaix.) The moving van with a small apartment's worth of stuff doesn't arrive until next week, so we are camping out at home with an air mattress and REI camp chairs.

Today I went about the tasks of switching accounts over and picking up necessities (draining my checking account for a cart full of cleaning supplies was not the most fun shopping spree.) I had a couple of hours to venture outdoors on a jaunt from home to the summit of Green Mountain, which is only eight miles round trip. The altitude is a challenge — as usual, it feels like there is an invisible bag of bricks hanging off my shoulders and pressing into my chest as I attempt to run. My experience with moderate altitude (6,000+ feet) is that it continues to get worse for a while, and I haven't spent enough time at these altitudes to know when it gets better. One must assume it eventually will.

The permanence of this move also hasn't sunk in yet. It's strange to walk around a building and ponder what I might do with a space, as though it's my space. Today I stood on the rear balcony and watched animals play out a veritable musical of activity — chipmunks chirping as they chased each other, rabbits hopping through the grass, some kind of raptor swooping low, and birds collecting twigs near the backyard ponds that I just discovered contain koi fish. Just as I was thinking, "This is a nice place to visit," it occurred to me that I'm not visiting. It hasn't sunk in, though.

Still, there is much excitement. The things I look forward to most are exploring the local trails on foot, scheming big bike routes when I can finally ride again, starting on some art projects, and dragging these camp chairs out onto the balcony to write. I imagine somewhere in there we'll buy some furniture and start settling in. But first things first.

15 comments:

  1. You should have taken a pic of the Subaru fully loaded...I was chuckling all along at what I pictured your 'load' to be...(and I was pretty close in my guess). That seems to be quite the house...and what a 'back yard'! Keep taking pics and letting us live vicariously thru you two...it's only a dream to pack up and move to the mountains. Enjoy the settling in and getting acquainted with your new HOME!

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    1. Thank you! I forgot to take a picture of the loaded Subie. It wasn't that exciting — stuffed to the brim with frames and wheels, and a small bike box strapped to the roof.

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  2. Welcome To The Front Strange!! Look Forward To Crossing Paths Soon!!

    Cheers

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    1. If you recognize me out on a trail, be sure to say hello.

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  3. Ha! when we moved to CO in our loaded Subbie, I thought hard of how to pack the fat bike wheels into the car, so the movers can't trash them. In the end, the toddler's stuff won out

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    1. I suppose that's understandable. ;) That's also why we wanted to pack our bikes - Beat didn't trust the movers wouldn't damage them. There were still a few that had to be left behind.

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  4. Wow, the house is huge! Once I moved from Florida to Oregon and the movers showed up with a ginormous truck only to find...a futon and a desk. I had warned them but apparently they didn't listen. I did many, many seasonal moves with everything I owned in a Chevette.

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    1. This is my first move where all of my belongings didn't fit into a Geo Prism (although I did always cheat a little by sending myself a few bins via USPS Parcel Post. This is especially a deal moving to or from Alaska!)

      The house is big. We were set on a mountain location and found a perfect spot in a unique, well-built house where the only drawback is the square footage. It's built to be low-maintenance, and I don't imagine we'll ever stuff it to the brim with furniture, so upkeep should be simple enough. But I've only ever rented shared homes or apartments, so this is bold new territory for me.

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  5. Time to ponder buying snow removal equipment??? Congratulations on the new home...what a lovely home and location. You will be feeling a part of the place and community before long! Congratulations again on your trip to Nome!!!

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  6. Others have commented on the house, bikes and setting, all thoughts Ive had, but as tropical living Aussie I was gob smacked by the weather conditions you travelled through and it is nearly May! Have fun and I am so looking forward to all your new adventures.

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  7. I moved from the midwest to the Longmont area several years ago and did so in midwinter, in the midst of a "polar vortex" (I think it was the first year the media started using that term). We drove through arctic temperatures, fierce crosswinds, and whiteouts the whole way (until about 100 miles from our new home, where it turned sunny and mild). The crazy weather certainly made an otherwise dull drive quite interesting! Glad you made it to your new home safely. Looks absolutely gorgeous, enjoy!

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  8. Love the "through the windshield" pics. They really show the variety of environments you guys traveled through. But I'm most impressed that you guys got 5 bikes into the Subaru. If you do that again, promise that you'll film the process and give us a speeded up version. It would be like watching magic show in reverse!

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  9. Hope the moving van has a really low first gear to get up there.

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  10. I second Eric's idea of filming the loading the car w/ bikes, and then taking that video and speeding it up by say a factor of 5 or 10...that would be PRICELESS! (or to simply save a TON of memory space, just set a camera up on a tripod and have it take a shot every 5 seconds, then put all those into video form). My Sony ActionCam can be set to take still shots every so many seconds...I'll have to try that myself one day.

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  11. Anonymous11:36 AM

    lucky, many would give everything for such a view...

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