The next day, “Up in Alaska” went live. I styled the blog after a song by Modest Mouse, “Grey Ice Water.” The lyrics tell the story of a lonely person who “got a job up in Alaska” to escape a bad relationship. My reasons for moving to the forty-ninth state were different — I wanted to pursue a relationship with a man who had been my on-again, off-again boyfriend for four years, Geoff. Both of us were stuck in something of a quarter-life crisis, wondering if we were indeed pursuing our ideal adulthood. Moving to Alaska was initially my idea, although Geoff was the one who latched on to the plan and kept the spark burning when I stated to lose my nerve. Eventually we relocated from Utah and Idaho Falls to the tip of the Kenai Peninsula, with only a job offer and a Geo Prism loaded with belongings. The sentiments of “Grey Ice Water” were similar to mine — new start in a strange place. The song ends with quiet repetitions of the line, “On the Arctic blast.” I always heard the words “Arctic glass,” and imagined islands of blue ice floating in a colorless sea. Even after I learned the correct lyrics, “Arctic glass” stuck out as the image I see in my mind when I think of Alaska. So I assigned the address of my Alaska-based lifestyle blog to arcticglass.blogspot.com. I subtitled it “Jill’s subarctic journal about ice, bears, and distant dreams of the midnight sun.”
Unlike most blogs that loosely follow their stated purpose until the writer eventually loses interest, Up in Alaska quickly took on a life of its own, growing into something far more extensive than I intended. Simple musings for my friends and family captured the attention of readers from around the world, who encouraged me in my half-serious ambitions to pursue winter cycling. What followed is a transformation that even I wouldn’t have predicted the day my blog went live, when I was still a twenty-five-year-old newspaper editor whose timidity often prevented me from embarking on relatively benign adventures. I couldn’t have foreseen a growing passion for the outdoors and endurance challenges, or comprehended becoming an athlete who completed a twenty-seven-hundred-mile mountain bike race and crossed three hundred and fifty miles of Alaska’s frozen wilderness under my own power. Along the way, I also developed a passion for writing and photography that continues to drive my pursuit of adventure. Without the introspection my blog facilitated and the community it exposed me to, I believe my life would have taken a decidedly different track. Arctic Glass was the reflection I needed to develop into the best version of myself.