Friday, June 27, 2008

Big photo dump today. It’s from 2 rolls of film, yes film, that I started on the drive up here and finished last weekend on a casual ride on the coastal trail here in Anchorage. I usually spend a few dollars when developing film to get the cd for easier flickr posting, but when I got the pictures back from Walmart there was no cd and only something scrawled across the envelop: “We CD machine not work today.” Ok, so I had to scan them in and some are a bit crooked. That explains why it looks like a crackhead did it.

This weekend will be Arctic Thunder and hopefully the Matanuska Glacier, if the weather cooperates both days. I’ll be ready to go with a new roll of film that is planned to see development before the end of summer.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Like most people (hopefully), I’m constantly trying to shed bad habits and look at life changes as for opportunities for rebirth, etc. It is so hard to break so many habits, but leaving a city for a fresh opportunity is a decent amount of momentum to steer in that direction.

I had pretty good luck when I moved to Madison in dropping a great deal of my takeout food habits. Chicago is such a great town to eat in and having lived in the same neighborhood for 29 years, it was so easy to grab a burrito, some sliders, a pile of sesame chicken, or a Big Baby from Jacky’s on my walk home from the Pulaski Orange Line or my more often pedal southwest down Archer Ave. Living there so many years made it an easy afterthought to just grab a bag of grease. Moving to Madison was a chance to not make friends with any grease pits and be forced to cook at home all the more often. If I don’t know where to stop on the way home from work, then I just have to eat at home (though I did succumb to a Teddy Wedger a handful of times – “Hey, it’s summer and I’m riding a lot, I can handle one.”).

One can always do better when it comes to eating properly, so I’m trying to get even better habits here in Alaska. There is no $1 menu at McDonalds here to buzz through, but rather a $1.50 menu to pick through. I’m a cheap bastard when it comes to many things, so this is good motivation to cruise on by and just head for home. I try and look at takeout and other greasy food and their prices and visualize what the cost could equate to. If I eat at home for a while I could easily afford a new wheelset, another wool cap from Lyle, bar tape, more Vampire Counts, or some metal vinyl.

I figure it’s part of an endless march away from bad habits towards better conversations, more a better books read, more and better movies viewed, more miles pedaled, more weight lifted, more models painted well, fewer hours wasted in front of mediocre television, better food, etc, etc, etc. Stay on the path and live long and strong.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I don’t miss most of the things I expected I would when I moved. I knew I would miss people and I certainly have, but thanks to friends like Lora dipping their toes into the blogging world it will be a little easier to keep in touch. I anticipated missing some of the Madison food, but that hasn’t happened (though I do miss the Wisconsin prices). Real Chili already closed long before my move. I’m on an endless Halibut and Salmon diet when dining out – no complaints.

Leaving Madison I figured that the lost cycling opportunities would be high on my list, but they have turned out to be relatively low now that I’ve settled into the trails and back roads of Anchorage and Chugiak. There are plenty of trails to whiz down and birches and spruces to speed by, smelling the fresh air along the way.

I am amazed at how much I miss my gym though. I always knew I was extremely lucky to have a great gym in Madison. It did have some drawbacks, but they were really blatant signs of just how great a gym Ford’s is. You sometimes had to wait a bit for the dead lift platform or one of the squat racks, which while that may have been inconvenient for 5 – 10 minutes, it fostered a priceless environment of proper training, focus, and competition. The proper exercises and muscle groups were always at the top of most people’s training routine – lots of squatting and dealifting with minimal attention to” beach muscles”. I found myself constantly throwing a few more plates on the bar when lifting there just to avoid any sense of complacency. Ford’s was also one of the friendliest groups around. If you looked over at the people endlessly squatting you were apt to ask why you weren’t squatting today, and when you were going to squat next. You were sucked into a friendly vortex of competition and encouragement in the exact exercises that too often drift into the ditch in other gyms. I’m now a 5 day a week guy at the World Gym here in Anchorage. It has a lot to love about it – open 24 hours, sauna/steam room, and no waiting for the squat rack or dead lift platform. You do have to wait at times for the preacher bench or to bench press. There are even a few guys that I see everyday to the point where I have correctly deduced their workout routine: Day 1 is chest, Day 2 is biceps and triceps, repeat. There may be some abdominal work thrown in, but there is certainly nothing beyond that slipping in. There are many people there like that, but also more than a few that work their legs and back as part of a wise routine. All gyms have both types of members, but Ford’s seemed to swing towards the better side of that ratio. The real answer is that I can do all the exercises I want here so it’s up to me (as it always has been). I will miss some of the chit chat at Ford’s: “Throw a 45 on it for you?” (I was planning on adding a 25) “Yeah, let’s do it.” I had the same environment when I skated with much better skaters. I was happy landing 360 flips on flat, but Pete did them faster, over hips, and then switch. Before you know it you’re pushing harder than before. Strength training is ultimately a solitary pursuit, which is probably why I love it so much. You have to embrace the constant, linear nature of the pursuit. Benching 225 is still 225 lbs, whether in Madison or Alaska. Just remember to add some more weight on for the sake of the cheeseheads that couldn’t be here.

Life is pretty good. Housesitting brought forth the following amazing comment: “Eat anything you want from the freezers and fridges. Just don’t eat the crab legs.” “All of the halibut and wild salmon?” “Yep, we have too much anyway right now.” A steady diet of wild Alaskan seafood on the grill is hard to complain about. The Chris from Madison that bought farm raised salmon as a treat now seems like an alien. I even have my own crab legs to eat ($8/lb). I suppose I’ll get tired of salmon someday and long for Northern Wisconsin walleye, but that day isn’t here, and I’d love to try and get to that day. Sounds like a good problem to have.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I feel settled in, yet I’m 3 times removed from having a permanent place. Let me explain. The majority of my life is sitting in a storage facility in South Anchorage, right off Dimond. A small subset of that is at Becky’s tidy apartment – clothing, 2 bikes, a pile of books, scrabble, and hero quest. For the past 2 weeks and the next 4 I’ll be house sitting in Chugiak, AK. It’s a longer drive to work everyday, but the house is nice and big and there are many great cycling opportunities nearby. But, now a subset of my stuff at Becky’s is now out there. My stuff is in 3 places, none of which is anywhere near close to being a permanent home. Oddly, it doesn’t bug me. I have bikes, clothing, and books. Perfect.

I didn’t get a King Salmon on the Kenai last Sunday but “we” (our boat) did – just over 20 lbs. It’s always nice not to get skunked and even better to be on such a beautiful river spending the day, but I really want to catch one of my own. Maybe next weekend.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I guess I’m settled in Alaska now. It feels like I was in Madison a year ago, and word from Chicago and Wisconsin about 90 degree days seems beyond belief. I’ve heard that people in Alaska get a touch of “island fever” at times and I can see how that might be true. Since I am living in 50-60 degree days with 19+ hours of sunlight while surrounded by mountains, green birches, the smell of spruce, and plenty of bike trails (cross and road) – why do I care what is going in the lower 48, outside of the lives of friends and family? So it appears I have a sense of an island, though in a thoroughly positive and embracing way. I suspect that will change over time, particularly in the middle of winter. But for now all is new, happy, and perfect.

Most of my life is stacked indefinitely in a storage facility. When I say most of my life I mean stereo, vinyl, cd’s, warhammer models, dvd player, kitchen stuff, and all of my gaming stuff. Given the weather and beautiful surroundings I don’t miss the miniatures and music yet, though that will change when the weather trainwrecks in the fall. I have my clothing, bikes, lots of books, and a fishing license. Becky’s kitchen and dressers handle me just fine. I have everything I need. How come I still feel like I’m in college though? Even in Madison my little apt had such a small amount of stuff in it. Being at UIC for all those years makes old habits die hard.

The plan is to start the house hunting process in a few weeks. I hope it goes smoothly and quickly, but as long as I start down that path I’m sure it will work out. It seems to be a downhill run once you crack that door open.

Indy 4 was a B-, though I suspect it will get better over time. It delivered though.

No luck fishing the Little Susitna Memorial day weekend. It looks like Sunday we’ll be trying for King Salmon on the Kenai River. I really want to catch one of those beasts. So much tasty meat and so much fight.

My repaired Orbea arrived this morning from Madison! As I’m house sitting in Chugiak for the next 5 weeks I’ll be tearing it up along the Glenn Highway towards Eagle River and Anchorage.