Pavement Ends. Travel Strongly

Mar 29 2012

Hazardous Conditions

It’s been a while. Very briefly… we’ve got union contract problems this year – and I volunteered to be a building rep. After bargaining for more than a year, we’ve officially come to an impasse. Aggravating. And time-sucking. Additionally, I’ve got a classroom full of 12-year-old attitudes. At night, I flop on the couch and try to hold my eyes open wide enough to read.

An important part of my personal program is that I run or ski every day to keep sane and steady. The weather is getting warmer – up in the 40′s (F) and gloriously sunny the last two days. And there is still a hell of a lot of snow to watch melt. It’s invigorating. My favorite time of year to be outside.

We had our spring break a couple of weeks ago, and my son and I went down to Girdwood with our snowboards. We stayed at the resort, and were lucky enough to be there for a big snowstorm. Two feet of powder fell overnight, the most I’d ever been in. The best thing, for me, was that the falling didn’t hurt. Unfortunately, all I could do was fall. And getting back up in that much snow is murder when you end up with your butt lower than your snowboard-encumbered feet. Stuck. Which is why I quit the slopes early each day, and went running instead of snowboarding. I can stand only so much humiliation.

I ran on the Cat Trail and the Winner Creek Trail with my snowshoes a couple of days. But toward the end of the week I was up for something a little easier, so I ran down along the bike path to Crow Creek Road and turned up there, not sure what I’d find this time of year. At least it was a road! Turns out that it’s not officially plowed past the first half mile, but someone has done a fabulous job of opening a single lane beyond the State Maintenance Ends sign.

It was kinda funny, I saw a Hazardous Road Conditions sign, but the snow blocked my view of the bottom of it, so I only read the Travel Strongly part. I thought, Cool! But a little strange. DOT does not usually encourage aggressive adventure travel. I forged on. After all, I was a runner! And this is Alaska. We travel strongly! It was a beautiful sunny day. The footing was smooth. It was quiet and peaceful. I ran up the road for about 15 minutes before I decided to turn around. Really, really, a nice break from the wacky powder frenzy up on the mountain. I ran back to the hotel and soaked in the hot tub. It was a good hour and a quarter run.

The next day I did the same thing. But I got a better look at that sign, and I realized that with the part I didn’t see the day before, it actually said, Travel Strongly Discouraged. It was a WARNING, not a recommendation to proceed with fortitude. Ah! Figures. Still, I had another good run.

But I started thinking how odd it is that the state puts up these Pavement Ends signs, and No Maintenance Sept-May, and they warn people against going there. But with schools, the state flat-funds the education budget and expects us to Deal With It. We don’t even get a sign. Instead, we just get tests, “tougher” standards, and a bunch of flack. I liked the idea of a sign that says Travel Strongly, even though it’d be better to not have to navigate the piles of obstacles that come with having too few resources and too many useless policy directives. Why do they pretend they can improve schools by allocating fewer resources, but with roads, they warn people off of them when they’re unmaintained?

Other signs I’d like to see:

Attacking Teachers Attacks My Future

Protesting Scott Walker

I may sometimes be absent. But I’m not gone.

2 responses so far

  1. Hey!
    I teach, I run, I love your blog.
    Solidarity from Washington state! Travel strongly indeed.

  2. Maren, having quiet places to run after school does help keep the nonsense in perspective. Good to hear from another trail runner!