Location: a mansion, in a forest, near an endless spread of potato fields, near Driggs, Idaho, near Grand Targhee, Wyoming. Basically, the middle of beautiful nowhere. This sign greeted us at the airport:
However, before discussing the melancholy, old-America greatness that is the state of Idaho, the last few days deserve a more detailed update.
I am currently experiencing the painful consequences of my way-too-ambitious actions, aka Nic and Acacia Classic Ski The 50-Kilometer Tour Of Anchorage. The night before the race, I witnessed a grown man use the word “retarded” in reaction to our plan. In his workplace. This is because that length of race is designated for skateskiers. Skateskiing is immensely faster, therefore 50 kilometers only takes a few hours. Classic, everyone said, is close to suicide. Nonsense, we said. We´ll be fine. Looking back on this, all we can do is laugh.
Instead of using the classic wax recommended on the Tour of Anchorage website, we decided to use StartTape, an infamous invention which gives the user great kick, in any conditions, for 150 kilometers. It´s like wax tape that you tape on your skis, pull off the paper lining, and voila, it never comes off until you have, in fact, skied those 150 kilometers. Naturally, it doesn´t allow for any considerable speed, but who cares? We could walk up hills. It was great.
After donning the most eye-catching, slightly hideous spandex we could find, we set out to race at 14 degrees Fahrenheit. At least we looked fast. The race course went first up a mountain, down a bit, up to the top of a downhill ski area, down it, through a huge piece of park land, into the city, across the city, to the ocean, along the coast, and up a hill to the finish. We were worried about the first part, which is mostly uphill, but it went fine – we made the one o´clock cutoff to the Native Hospital bridge, continued on, everything was going pretty good. For the most part.
After about 30 kilometers I realized that the tendons behind my right leg were grinding together in a rather worrying way, but we´d already made it halfway through, so I just ignored it and carried on. We reached the sea and ventured into coastal forest (i.e. middle of nowhere). We were doing great until the 42nd kilometer. Then we hit the wall. However, as we say often, you´ve gotta do what you´ve gotta do. And we did it. I got last place. It took us five and a half hours.
I´m currently uploading a video to youtube which documents our epic race. It was truly the perfect farewell to Anchorage and all things Alaskan. On the way we passed a moose, had to yell at another to get out of the trail, passed some dogsledders, iceskaters, skijorers, and much more. The weather was, for the most part, idyllic.
Unfortunately, when I awoke at 3 AM to go to the airport the next morning, I realized that those tendons I so wisely ignored made it suddenly very difficult to walk. The day was spent hobbling from gate to gate, plane to plane. I could barely move. The flights, however, were beautiful to the point of being artistically inspiring.
At last, we arrived in Idaho falls, where we were instantly supplied with a variety of Mormon paraphernalia. My mom liked this.
We then spent many hours lost in Idaho´s wintry countryside in a 2-wheel-drive minivan. Imagine a neverending oblivion of vast potato fields, cows, and abandoned houses withering away atop empty fields and gently rolling hills. One of those places that could either be immensely beautiful or just really boring and ugly, depending on your point of view. What a life. After a long series of phone calls and handwritten directions, we arrived our destination. Some family friends (dentists, naturally) own a huge log-cabin style mansion in the middle of nowhere, which makes a great base camp for downhill skiing at nearby ski resorts Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole. You can´t not love it here.
Since walking alone was giving me enough problems, I opted out of joining the family on the slopes and instead slept for thirteen hours before spending the day soaking in an outdoor hot tub, stretching, and drinking coffee. Apparently the ski conditions were awful; you couldn´t see more than 3 feet in front of you. For those of us who like to ski fast, this presents an intense danger.
Tomorrow, however, should be sunny.
US departure: 5 days.