Except that there is nothing worse than spring in the Yukon.
Let me explain. By the time spring officially arrives (March 20 this year) the Yukon is awash in all sorts of lovely light and outdoor activities are frequently enjoyed under the most spectacular of blue skies. Cross-country skiing or snow-biking or even just walking on our local trails makes me think that I love winter when I do these things in March. We accept, here in Whitehorse, that our spring is a little later than it is for folks south of 60 and that's okay. We don't mind the snow sticking around..... to a point. But only to a point and April 26th is considerably beyond it.
This April has been nothing short of shite when it comes to the weather.
For awhile, the snow biking was okay. And by okay I mean that the trails have been fairly well-packed and as the days have gotten longer it has been easier to ride after work. But only okay because we have also had several days of snow (which makes the trails slippery or unrideable until they get packed down again). In a desperate attempt to enjoy being outdoors on a really sunny Saturday last weekend, we went to Fish Lake. Usually an awesome, hard-packed highway along the lake was, this time, a morass of new snow with a crust on top. We walked our bikes around for about half an hour before giving up.
And the road riding has not been any better. While a couple of days have been acceptable (read: +5C and sunny) the majority of them have been closer to 0C, sometimes below, complete with grey skies or worse, snow. My first attempt to ride on the road this year came on April 9th. It wasn't warm, but it was clear.... until I got on to the highway. But heck, Sierra and I were already out there so we stayed.... through a sideways snowstorm and a road that quickly became a slushy mess.
Does this look fun?
Fun-ny maybe, but it wasn't fun.
Even this week, walking my bike through the snow and ice that is my driveway seems... well, wrong.
But at least, as I look to the weather forecast for the last few days of April (coldest night -14C, warmest day +4C), I can pat myself on the back for having made plans - waaaaaaaaaaay back last summer - to spend my birthday in San Francisco. Tomorrow I leave Yukon "spring" for 10 days of sun, friends, bikes and wine in California. And I can't wait. Perhaps when I return it will be summer.
Hi. It's been awhile. We're back to 12 hours of light (yay!) but are still in the grips of winter temperatures. It was -29C this morning when I left for work. Brr.
Two weekends ago I went on a really amazing fat bike trip with friends along the Denali Highway in Alaska. And by really amazing I mean jaw-dropping scenery/hospitable accommodation/intelligent and humourous company/breath-taking proximity to wildlife/deep silent wild kind of amazing.
And yet I haven't bothered to write about it.
Maybe it's because my riders in crime, Jill M, Jill H and Sierra, have all given hilarious and vivid versions of our trip. I'm not sure I have anything to add. Jill writes so beautifully about what it is like to be out there that even though my journey wasn't identical to hers I still feel that I experienced the days as she did. The other Jill - the cynic as she called herself - captured the nuts and bolts of at least half of how day one felt when she wrote "most of the way up this climb...required an endless mix of pushing and riding, neither of which was pleasant or efficient." And Sierra, my beloved bike-wife who saved me from losing my shit at the 18km mark when she started carrying my backpack, described each of us as dogs which may sound insulting but instead was full of affection and made me laugh.
Basically, I loved their versions of our three day trip and I haven't felt like I needed to write my own. And besides, I document the crap out of everything with my camera anyway. So there has been less blogging in my blogosphere lately.
But I have been thinking about one thing since I got back. Actually, I was thinking about it when I was out there, mostly during one of the first long climbs when we were alternating between riding and pushing our bikes uphill. When I was sweating my ass off and my heart rate was making my eyeballs thud just a little bit inside their sockets. When I was thinking to myself that perhaps I wouldn't make it the 42 miles to MacLaren Lodge - at least not in daylight. I've been thinking about why I choose to do this. Why go off on long bike rides that make me slightly uncomfortable only to immediately forget about the parts that sucked and think that it was the best experience in the world?
I guess the obvious answer is what I just said. As soon as the bad parts are over, I tend to forget about them. And it's not as if I ever thought that we were in peril or that we would not be able to make it to our destination. It's just that there were hard parts. They were real. And yet, once they were over, it's almost as if they never existed. It's as if the Denali Highway bike trip was 100% easy-peasy, comfortable, luxury travel. But it wasn't. At least, not all of it. At least, not for me.
I believe that it is important to experience the uncomfortable as fully and as acutely as possible. I try to feel, to listen and to pay attention to the minutes during excursions like this when I am genuinely not having a good time. When I am super tired or when a little voice inside my head pipes up about how being where I am at that moment is less than ideal and perhaps I should do something about it. Like stop.
But somehow, in trying to access and make myself available to the annoyances in a journey like this, the good parts are made even better. It makes the sky seem even more impossibly blue and the awe of being in the middle of absolutely-fucking nowhere even more astounding than I thought possible. Finding a low - and letting it sink in - makes the coming high even sweeter.
So ya, our Denali Highway trip was amazing. And I survived. And it wasn't that hard. But it was just hard enough to make me think... and to dream about what adventures we can get up to next year.
The phrase Fit for 40 started being tossed around by Monika (who crosses into her 40s a mere 23 days before I do) a few months ago. I figured it was time to make a list. 40 goals for turning 40. Blending athletic and more... cerebral? experiential? goals I figure that completion of these things sometime before I turn 41 will make for a pretty fabulous 17 months.
Some of these I am working on now (#1, #38), some are ongoing resolutions (#14, #17, #40) and some of them are event specific (#3, #9, #10). Several have been lifted straight from Woody Guthrie's 1942 New Years Rulin's (#19, #21, #33) just because I liked them so much. Only one of them (#37) might be unreasonable in its challenge and logistics. Learning to spell tomatoes correctly didn't make the list but the embarrassment of posting the spelling error publicly should mean I'll never make the same mistake again.
Happy end of Dressember! I think I am a little bit in shock that I actually made it.
Today marks the thirty-first day of me wearing the same dress. It was partly as a personal challenge, mostly as a fundraiser for Right To Play. You people AMAZE me - at the end of all this nonsense we have raised over $800 for a really great charity. In case you need a little extra encouragement to make a donation before January 2nd (the day my fundraising effort ends) here is what RTP does and why I think they deserve our support. Right To Play's mission is to use sport and play to empower children and youth. In their own words "play is NOT a luxury; it is a tool for education and health. It can bring entire communities together and inspire every individual. A game of football can teach children about tolerance and peace, and a game of tag can teach about malaria. Play helps teach important life lessons and develop skills like cooperation, leadership, and teamwork." I want to thank each one of you who donated and I need to send a shout out here to the one donor I do not know personally. I have no idea how you found this blog but, Adele, thank-you.
Even though I have no big plans for tonight, I tried to make my last outfit the littlest bit spiffy. That is, if you consider the inside layer of a dress purchased at Value Village to be fancy.
Dress - Vero Moda
Headband - Reitman's, I think
Crinoline - Value Village, Richmond. Used to be part of a dress until I dismantled it
Tights - Eek, I don't remember!
Shoes - Nine West
Happy new year everyone! I am looking forward to 2013 (and being able to wear jeans).
Dressember 30th has kinda snuck up on me. Only one more day left in 2012? Woah.
To be honest, this year has been rougher than most. Nothing super specific - or at least nothing I am going to detail on a blog. My year really hasn't been that interesting but I certainly experienced some pretty significant lows. But everyone experiences ups downs in life. I do figure that the deeper the downs, the sweeter the ups will eventually taste.
I must say that a big positive for the end of the year has been this whole Dressember project. I have been so touched by the generosity of others. I've never really tried to fund-raise for anything - at least not since the days of grade school chocolate almond door-to-door sales. Thanks for being so kind, friends.
If this is your first visit to my blog and you are wondering what this whole Dressember thing is, you can check out my opening and explanatory post. If you have been reading and thinking maybe you'd like to contribute to Right To Play on my behalf, take note that there are only three days left in which you can do so. I will wear this dress for one more day and my giving page will remain active until January 2nd. It would be pretty awesome if we could double my $400 goal. I'm already at $775 but an even $800 would be amazing.
Love the bike print on this skirt and I love that I have figured out a way to winterize it! Never underestimate the usefulness of layers!
Dress - Vero Moda
Skirt - Spruce Clothing, purchased at Fresh Collective in Toronto
It has *finally* warmed up. It was a balmy -9C when this photo was taken. It was also super windy which I why I am holding the edges of my cape down.
I wore this quite briefly today, out for an excursion to Canadian Tire. Ben and I are patching and painting around the house this weekend and I have spent much of the day in fleece pants and a sweatshirt. It's not cheating though - remember my dressember rules. When it would be a hindrance to an activity, I don't have to wear the dress.
I can hardly believe how quickly this month has been passing. I'm keen to stop wearing this same dress in three days but I would do it all over in the month of January if I knew I could raise the same amount of money for Right To Play. You, dear readers and friends, have been so generous to my cause this year. Thanks again so much. It really means a lot to me.