Saturday, May 26, 2007

Welcome Winds

Run 6 miles

Cruise ship season is in full force now in Juneau. On a typical day there are 3 or 4 of these mammoth vessels docked up along the downtown waterfront. With names like Coral Princess, Norwegian Sun, and Zaandam they tower beside the city with often times 1/3 the number of people aboard as live in the entire city. These ships come and go every several hours but it seems like there's always at least 2 of them here. When one leaves another arrives often within minutes.

Normal weather has returned to Juneau. In other words it's raining, windy, and 50 degrees. This after more than a week of calm, warm, sunny weather.

When the cruise ships are docked up they don't shut down their engines as one might think. Just because they aren't moving doesn't mean that they don't need to power the thousands of cabins, hundreds of hallways, dozens of pools and hot tubs, and who knows how many restaurants, clubs, casinos, movie theaters, etc.

Before I moved to Alaska I lived in Salt Lake City for over 5 years. Salt Lake City often has very dirty air. Especially when an inversion sets in and doesn't let any pollutants leave the valley for several days at a time. Often at these times you could get up into the Wasatch Mountains with nothing but bright sunny skies above and look down at an impressive "cloud" of crud trapped in the valley below.

As these cruise ships sit in port bluish gray smoke constantly spews up into the mountains around town. When the weather is calm like it has been so much lately this smoke just gathers against the mountains and builds thicker and thicker throughout the day. After several days without much wind the whole area becomes washed over with cruise ship exhaust. This is the way things were by yesterday afternoon. Looking across the channel from our apartment you could see layers of this smoke drifting around above town.

The winds came back today though and the air has cleared out mostly. I typically have no tolerance for wind, but it was very welcome today. I'm also not typically as bothered by smog as some people. In Salt Lake it would get really bad sometimes, but I felt as though it was just part of life in the city and there really wasn't any way around it. Here in Juneau though it's much more frustrating to me because the pollution is not a result of hundreds of thousands of different contributors, but rather 3 or 4 boats that dock up for half a day and then head on their way, leaving a nice "cloud" of crud behind that doesn't seem to have time to clear out before the next boat pulls in and begins adding to the filth.

Totals for the week: Run 74 miles; bike 49 miles in 14.5 hours.