traciwentling

Inspiration Day

Saturday, June 16 – Utility Day

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Motel room clothes line. That’s me blogging behind a wet pair of bike shorts.

This morning as we woke up it was raining and it continued on and off until about 2:00 and then we actually saw blue skies up until now.  Rain looks like it’s making a comeback tonight, but our tents are up and we’re tucked safely inside.

Today we went to REI to buy some necessities.  I forgot my camp towel.  Good grief!  I only have three or four of them at home.  I have a check list for bikepacking adventures.  How did I miss putting one of them in my bags?  I’ve also decided that some hand-warmer packets will be smart so I bought some of those too.  The year that we rode to Alaska was very cold and rainy also, and I remember putting warmers in my chest pockets under my rain coat and it was quite effective in helping keep my torso warm enough.

What else might I wish I had?  I brought my two North Face waterproof bags.  The rules state that we can have two bags not weighing more than 25lbs.  John helped me weigh them before I left home and I could, if I wanted to, add more stuff.  Experience tells me though, that having more stuff is not necessarily a good thing.

I have two Big Agnes Tents, a one-man and a two-man.  I brought with me the two-man tent and I’m very glad that I did.  I can put both of my bags into my tent with me every night.  It is the ultimate in convenience and makes this tenters life so much easier to not have to be in and out digging in bags, often in the rain.

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Our tents set up for the night

My biggest concern that I can do absolutely nothing about at this point is that I may wish that I brought one of my touring bikes with wider tires and fenders.  On the other hand, my bike will be light!  Sue took her bike to the bike shop this morning to have fenders installed.  While we waited, we went downtown to the Rockford Coffee Shop and had a cup of really good, really dark drip coffee.  I kinda sorta would have loved to get a raisin oatmeal cookie, but I exhibited a remarkable amount of self-control.  Not so much control tonight though as after supper, the caterer brought out some gooey brownies.  It would have been a crime to not have a bite and I am, if nothing else, a law-abiding citizen.

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Afternoon coffee break

At the meet and greet this afternoon we found out there are 49 of us.  I’m guessing the ages of most of us are 50’s and 60’s.  I haven’t really looked at the various bikes yet to see what most people are riding.  When we checked in, they asked us to take our bikes to the tour mechanic and he looked at mine and said “I’m not going to have any of those special spokes if you break one”.  I’m not too worried about that happening.  Once he looked it over and asked if I had any mechanical issues with it, I told him no and then walked it back to where the Yukon will be parked for the next week and locked it up for the night.  No sense in leaving it out in the rain when the vehicle is so close.  After tonight though, it will be exposed to the weather just like everybody else’s.

There is a couple here from Corvallis, Oregon and I told her I had relatives in her neck of the woods.  She then told me that they bicycled through Dodge City last September on a tour.  There wasn’t much time to visit, but we will definitely know each other better before the week is over.  During supper we visited with a couple from Colorado.  The main topic of discussion among everyone is quite naturally bragging on past tours.  I have to admit, I love to tell of my adventures and Sue and I tell the story of how we met in 2012.  It’s such a great story, but of course, you all know it.

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Flowers of the day ❤️💛💜

It’s beginning to rain and the temperature is dropping quickly.  Time to crawl into the warm sleeping bag. I’m anxious to see what tomorrow brings!

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Friday, June 15 – Travel Day

 

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Flower of the day: Since we don’t know what it’s officially named, I’m calling it “Pretty Ain’t It!”

Today we left Whitefish and headed south and east to Bozeman.  On the way, we stopped at the little town of Bigfork.  Sue and I were here in 2014 as we bicycled that year from Missoula, Montana to Denali National Park in Alaska.  The day we passed close to Bigfork, we wandered into town in search of B2 (second breakfast).  Today we stopped at the same downtown cafe called Pocketstone.  This morning was the first time since leaving home that I ate something…shall I say…really really naughty; a delicious cherry scone drizzled with orange rind icing.  So delicious and SO worth the calories.

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Breakfast and journaling at Pocketstone Cafe

Next door to the cafe is a little business in a quaint old house called Eva Gates Homemade Preserves.  So I’m kind of assuming that the little tiny containers full of deliciousness in my photo most likely comes from next door.

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Eva Gates Homemade Preserves

After breakfast, we made our way down to the Swan River and walked about four miles along the river trail.    I may have burned off a few of those scone calories in the process.

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Ho hum, another photo of Swan River

We finally arrived in Bozeman late afternoon and checked into the motel, went to supper (by golly you CAN find a sweet potato in Montana!) and then began two huge loads of laundry.  This is our last night in a motel as our bicycle tour officially begins tomorrow with a meet and greet and supper at the campground.  We begin riding on Sunday.   I hope you can stick close and I’ll do my best to convey each day’s happenings!

 

 

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Wednesday, June 13 Going-To-The-Sun Road

We decided to ride today even though our original intent was to hike these four days.  Sue has had it on her bucket list to ride this highway for at least as long as I’ve known her.  The weather was supposed to be warm even at higher altitude and there was very little chance of rain.  Well actually…the forecast said there was “20% chance of rain with zero rainfall.”  we took that to mean what we wanted it to mean even though it made no sense.  We loaded both bikes onto Sue’s bike rack and headed into the park and up and up and up we drove to Avalanche Campground where all vehicle traffic was required to stop.  I had to do the actual driving to keep my stomach happy during the multitude of mountain curves.  Mission accomplished.  The traffic was bad and finding a place to park took a long time, but at last we squeezed into a tight spot and unloaded just as the clouds were building.  Do you know where I’m going with this story?

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Charming guard rail

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Flower of the day: Glacier Lily

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Unbelievable beauty

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Um, it could be a long fall backwards

We only got to ride eight miles before the road was closed even to bicycle traffic, but oh my, it was an incredible eight miles.  Just as we approached the top, it began sprinkling and the temps dropped.  We didn’t dilly dally long and headed back down in the cold rain.  By the time we got back to the campground, 80% of the other vehicles had vanished.

As you can see, we stopped for pictures and you just can’t take the smile from me.  It was a great day!

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Tuesday, June 12 Let’s Hike!

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Rocky Point lunch stop

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Shadows in the creek

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Flora of the day: Western Hemlock

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Sue planning which trail to trek

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Lake McDonald Lodge

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Flower of the day: Penstemon

img_0113Have you ever been to Glacier National Park?  Today was a first for me except in 2012 when I skirted the edge on Highway 2.  My adventure that year had the option of going into the park and riding the “Going to The Sun Road”, but because the road had just opened for the season and because I was riding solo, I made the decision to forgo the high altitude climb for fear of having to be rescued.  Today, we were in my Yukon and I would have loved to drive the highway, but it’s not yet opened at the top due to heavy snow.

So, we donned hiking boots, “Bug Away” pants and long sleeve shirt, a backpack full of necessities, and set out for what ended up being nine miles of hiking.  The views of Lake McDonald were spectacular.  A good portion of the trail was through burnt forest (2003) but even this portion had its charms.  The furthest away point of the trail was called Rocky Point and there we took our lunch break of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and coffee.  Yes indeed, I carried a small thermos of dark roast coffee almost five miles (because hiking rules stipulate you should not venture out without all the essentials).

With tired feet and sore toes (too small of boots) we loaded back up into the Yukon and drove five more miles up to Lake McDonald Lodge and took in the sites there.  The traffic and road construction caused delays and detours but we took it all in stride (hiking metaphor).

We made a long full day of it and are adequately exhausted.  Just this short blog to let you know we didn’t sit around today eating bonbons 😎

 

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Surprise!

Hello friends and family!  SURPRISE!  I am in Silverfish ‘er Whitefish, Montana and I’m going to attempt to blog for the next couple of weeks while Sue and I trek here and there and yonder.  It all began with the idea that “when I’m healthy again”…

I’m here to say, I AM INDEED healthy again!  So, Sue and I began tossing around the idea of an adventure “not too dangerous and not too long”.  Since Montana is our go to state, it only made sense to meet here for the Big Sky Montana Bike Tour.  The tour begins this coming Saturday in Bozeman.  So what are we doing 300 Miles north of Bozeman?  Stay tuned!

We both arrived this morning.  Me leaving Dodge City Saturday morning and Sue leaving the west coast on Sunday.  We drove in within two minutes of each other to the Downtowner Inn.  Do you remember our history of this quaint tourist town?  First in 2012 when I first met her and we began the Northern Tier together in Anacortes, Washington.  That was the year I rode right into a storm grate in front of this motel and sank my recumbent’s front wheel up to the hub.  We rode through here again in 2014 on our way to Alaska.  

Today we hauled are gear and bikes up to the second floor and then went to breakfast, walked to Whitefish Lake, tried to get a bit organized, ate supper at the Mackenzie River Pizza, took another long walk along the river, then decided, yes…we would blog.  Let the fun begin.  Let the memories commence!

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Whitefish Lake

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Mackenzie River Pizza

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My gear My mess

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June 30

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The Bow River in Banff

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Bow Falls walking distance from Banff

Such unwanted excitement with United Airlines. Flight cancellations, rebooking and rebooking again left me with three hours of layover at Chicago O’Hare Airport. Texting conversations with Sue kept her informed of my new arrival time. What is it about me and airports? I’m always hungry.

A small world encounter happened on the plane from Wichita to Chicago when a young man sitting right across the isle from me asked where I was headed to bicycle. He said he saw me at the ticket counter with the unusual sized box and wondered if it might contain a bicycle but then saw my tee shirt with a bicycle drawing on it. Safe to assume I was off to cycle somewhere. Turns out he races gravel in the Wichita area and since the bicycling community is fairly small, we know many of the same local cycling icons like Marty Johnson and David Ham. We frequent the same bike shops. I just had to laugh when he told me that Mark Moerner of Apostle Bikeworks told him that a woman had returned a Brooks Cambium saddle. That woman was me as I struggle with saddle issues. Anyway, visiting with him made the flight “fly” by 😎

Once I finally got on the plane to Calgary, the co-pilot announced something that I had a feeling was important, yet I couldn’t quite make out his words due to the muffle of the intercom combined with his strong oriental accent. About that time, the steward began passing out something which turned out to be a Declaration Card. I got hung up with the question of whether I was bringing in various foods. “meat, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy, fruits or veggies, seeds or nuts”.  Did my unopened jar of Skippy Extraordinarily Crunchy Peanut Butter fall into one of those categories? What about the various unopened MRE’s? I finally decided that yes, they meant those things too. Gosh I hoped they didn’t confiscate them! Or perhaps even worse, decide I was an international smuggler and warrant that I could not enter Canada by any means.  But then another question, am I “carrying weapons such as pepper spray, guns or switchblades”. The first thing that came to mind was a gun. No, don’t have one with me (yet). Bear spray? Nope, will buy it in Banff. So I mark “no” but then remembered, I have a pocket knife buried deep in one pannier. I would not consider it a weapon though as I expect to cut rope, or a juicy Fuji Apple at some point, but a weapon? I don’t think so, and yet, I scratched out my no and marked yes instead. I wonder if my scratches indicating that I changed my mind might trigger extra scrutiny?

A painfully slow process at Canadian Customs left me constantly watching my watch but when my time finally arrived, it was a few quick questions about which foods and what weapons I was carrying and I was waived off as ho hum another crazy bicyclist.  I was finally on my way to pick up my box and duffles at the luggage carousel but the porter had already gathered my gear and was patiently waiting for me. After casually mentioning to the shuttle driver that I get motion sickness, I was offered shotgun seating for the 1.5 hour trip to Banff.

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Two peas in a pod

 

How absolutely thrilled I was to walk into the YWCA and see Sue coming towards me. I think we may have actually screamed our delight! After spending an absurdly large amount of time putting our bikes back together and sorting our gear last night and again today, we feel we are ready to set out tomorrow.

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YWCA where we are staying

We briefly met most of our ride-mates in front of the YWCA last night and are planning on having supper together tonight and one last sit down breakfast in the morning before taking off. One more gal is arriving late tonight. All is well as we anticipate our official start tomorrow. Please stay tuned!

 

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A Time of Preparation

“Uh oh” I announce to my aunties who love me like a daughter…I’m going on another adventure! It doesn’t officially begin until July 1st, but the preparation and training are well under way. Why you ask? Why in March am I writing about a ride that begins three months from now? Because dear readers, it will be the most physical, the most remote, the most dangerous adventure of my life. Truly EPIC!

I’ve been thinking about this ride for years but it was really just a dream until two years ago after finishing my ride to Alaska. This year’s adventure will take me from Banff, Alberta Canada all the way across the U.S. (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico) following the Continental Divide (called the Great Divide in Canada). 2,770 miles on a bicycle with no vehicle support. That means carrying all my gear and enough food to last sometimes five days.

I would need a new bike. And, according to my beloved husband, I would need companions. No solo adventure for me on THIS route. So, I placed a “Companions Wanted” ad in Adventure Cycling Association’s magazine and website and have seven or eight women who will at least begin this adventure with me. Ages range from 29 to 69. It’s very hard to find women who can dedicate a whole summer away from work, school and family. At this point almost all of us plan to ride the whole distance. One gal plans to venture off to see friends before finishing up the trip so we will lose her somewhere in Montana. The youngest, who says she is joining us, isn’t very vocal so I’m not sure if she will really be there when we leave Banff. Another woman plans to ride about three weeks with us then has other obligations so will also be leaving us somewhere in Montana. I think it’s possible that the physical aspect of this adventure might also have a few more dropping here and there, but for now most are in preparation to ride the whole distance.

I will be writing my blog as I go, knowing full well that I will only find wifi when the route takes us through some civilized areas. There maybe a week of no blogs and then BOOM, they will all come through the same time. I suspect my blogs will be shorter, with perhaps less stories. I don’t know how much energy I will have at the end of the day to write. But, write I will! For one thing, it is an ORDER from John 😎

I’ll share more in other blogs between now and July 1st, but for now…planning and training is in the works and excitement builds with each passing day. The preparation continues…

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Reflections of my Adventure

Beautiful view out my front door...

Beautiful view out my front door…

Ralph Waldo Emmerson wrote:

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”

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My ride-mates

My ride-mates

What in the world gave me the idea that I could ride nearly 3,000 miles; some of it more of a physical challenge than I thought possible and days and days without shelter other than my tent walls at night…

Sleeping in a ditch in the Yukon Territory

Sleeping in a ditch in the Yukon Territory

It is human nature to forget the pain of something. I believe God gave us this ability to forget so that we can move on to what is next without fear. In giving me the Grace I needed for each day, He also gave me just enough strength that I needed for that same day. No matter how absolutely spent or how sore that I was at night, He gave me what I needed to do it again. His healing of the body overnight is an awesome thing that no one on this planet can explain.

We climbed it!

We climbed it!

Patience, I had to pray for daily. Often, in dealing with different personalities and people with different moral standards, a good deal of patience was required on everyone’s part. A profound truth that I have discovered is that there is only one thing in this world that a person can have complete control over and that is how we react to situations. Even if that reaction is at first dishonest to our heart, we still have control over what is reflected out towards the rest of the human race. In many cases, our first reaction to a circumstance is not what we feel days later anyway.

Just one of the many amazing bridges crossed

Just one of the many amazing bridges crossed

I look back and peruse the thousands of pictures and it helps me remember the thousands of moments of joy and awe of nature as displayed by God. From the full orchestra heard only by me while riding the Columbia Icefields to the beautiful lyrics imagined in my mind while meandering along a lazy rural back road filled with the stories of the folks who live there.

Colombia Icefield

Columbia Icefield

Along the Icefields Highway

Along the Icefields Highway

A back road in B.C.

A back road in B.C.

Along a back road in B.C.

Along a back road in B.C.

From the awesome vistas of Mt. Robson or Mt. McKinley to the massive views of the multitudes of running rivers or the still waters of the lakes.

Mt. Robson

Mt. Robson

This is Mt. McKinley!

This is Mt. McKinley!

The Bow River

The Bow River

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake

From the green grass or tall sweet clover in which I could pitch my tent to the small cafe where I could order a pancake.

Marabelle loves sweet clover...

Marabelle loves sweet clover…

Great little cafe out in the middle of no where

Great little cafe out in the middle of no where

From the rugged danger felt and seen while riding through the Yukon Territory to the scenery of the untouched mountain tundras of the same.

Preparing for the inevitable?

Preparing for the inevitable?

A rare day that many of us rode together for awhile

A rare day that many of us rode together for awhile

From my best riding buddy Sue to the surprise encounters along the way.

Sue, a few miles down the other side of Sinclair Pass

Sue, a few miles down the other side of Sinclair Pass

Grizzly and her cubs

Gertrude Grizzly and her cubs

Millie the Moose

Millie the Moose

Hey, I know this gold panner!

Hey, I know this gold panner!

These are things I will remember and hold in my heart even if the elusive memory of my mind might fade away someday.

Double rainbow while still in Montana

Double rainbow while still in Montana

Thank you to each and everyone who commented on my blog. Words of encouragement coming in from the outside kept my spirit high and you just can’t imagine how much those words meant to me.

Mabelline and her Click-Stand.  My most valuable pieces of equipment.

Mabelline and her Click-Stand. My most valuable pieces of equipment.

In every regard I am glad this Adventure is over as I have no desire to ride on. For now, I have no yearning to see more. My home state of Kansas, complete with the heat and wind, feels comfortable to my soul. And lastly, may I not be remiss in thanking you for lifting me to The Lord in prayer and for the encouragement of my loving and faithful husband, John. I am home sound and safe and acclimating to my wonderful life as a wife and mom and “Grammy”.

I bid you adieu…until my next big bicycle adventure begins to tickle my fancy 😎

Your blogger at work

Your blogger at work

Stats of this 2014 Adventure

Total miles: 2,880
Total ascent: 98,588
Total riding days: 47
Total rest days: 9
Average miles per riding day: 61
Total nights spent in my tent: 54
Total nights spent in a cabin/motel/hostel: 6
Total peanut butter sandwiches: 67
Total days away from home: 70

P.S. Did you know that the tree line in Alaska is only at 2,500 to 3,000 feet while the tree line in northern Colorado is about 10,000 feet? Did you know that a beaver can weigh 100 lbs in Alaska? Everything gets more and more extreme the further north we go on the globe…

PPS: This is Lindsay, the dog who ate my orange shirt 8-/

Yep, she ate it

Yep, she ate it

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Denali National Park to Anchorage (August 13, 14 & 15)

Playing the Glad Game

Here comes the train to board!

Here comes the train to board!

All aboard!

All aboard!

The inside of our train car

The inside of our train car

I suffered a little separation anxiety as I let Mabelline get loaded next to Sue’s bike in a crate bound for an out-of-touch railway car somewhere nearer to the engine. The Alaskan Train was only the second train I have ever been on. The first was somewhere in Colorado for a very short ride when our kids were very young. This ride was 7 1/2 hours long and I was worried about my motion sickness, so took a dose of Dramamine. Thus…I slept on and off for the first five hours. Every time I would wake, I would think I was hungry and would eat something that I had stashed away. First, a Butterfinger Bar. Second, my pbj. Third, my turkey and cheese sandwich with a bag of Doritos. I drank two plastic bottles of orange juice and a Coke. I’m pretty sure I ate five or six Oreo Cookies too, but I wouldn’t swear to it. THEN…we got an open call to eat supper in the dinning car, so four of us dined on roast beef and mashed potatoes. So I slept and ate…slept and ate…slept and ate…slept and ate… Good grief!

Scene out the windows

Scene out the windows

Looking out the glass windows at Hurricane Gulch

Looking out the glass windows at Hurricane Gulch

The good thing about having to get up out of my seat to move to the dining car, I became aware of the open air window between the cars, and it stood there for about 30 minutes finally blowing the remainder of the fog out of my brain and allowing me to wake up for good. It was also at that location that I was able to snap some great shots (absent the glare of glass) of the stunning scenery that we had been passing all those hours.

Hanging out the opening between the cars

Hanging out the opening between the cars

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OMGosh, it's Richard!

OMGosh, it’s Richard!

As we pulled up to the train station, I said to Sue, “my gosh, that person standing there looks like Richard”. Sue looked at the guy standing just outside the door of the station and we both said in unison, “that IS Richard!” Richard, who left out group on July 5th, took a much shorter route and arrived in Anchorage on his bicycle just a couple of hours before we arrived by train. Because he knew our schedule, he came to greet us and it was very good to see him again. Unfortunately there was no time to dilly dawdle, as Sue and I were on a mission to gather our belongings so we could find our hostel since it was already 8:00 p.m. A quick hug and goodbyes to all our fellow ridemates and we mounted our bicycles and headed out.

Mark, Traci, Sue, Nelson.  Time to say goodbyes...

Mark, Traci, Sue, Nelson. Time to say goodbyes…

The Anchorage Backpackers Hostel met our meager needs (even if it is about the crumbiest hostel we have ever stayed). We pulled out our sleeping bags and our own pillows to protect us from their semi-looking clean sheets. It was Sue’s turn to tackle the top bunk and I was too tired to laugh out loud at her clumsiness to climb the steps up. I was NOT too tired to laugh out loud in the morning as she attempted to climb down facing out rather than facing in towards the bed. I wish I had had my camera handy.

We found a trendy breakfast cafe called the Snow City Cafe on the internet and headed there for breakfast. We had to wait about 30 minutes to be seated, but the breakfast was good and it was a cheerful bright cafe which was good for our moods. The good coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice might have helped too.

Snow City Cafe

Snow City Cafe

After breakfast, we made our way to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and ended up riding almost 30 miles round trip. The trail followed the shore line of Cook Inlet on the right side of us heading out. At the beginning of our ride and to our left were nice homes with a view to die for, but soon the trail headed into a beautiful forest like none I have ever seen. The floor of the forest was covered in plants with huge leaves and beautiful red berries. Rain threatened, but we never really got wet, although I was constantly cold since I was way underdressed for a cool weather ride. Heading back to the city, we rode to the bike shop and left the bikes to be disassembled and boxed for the flight home.

Chugach Mountains over Anchorage

Chugach Mountains over Anchorage

Double K barge in Cook Inlet

Double K barge in Cook Inlet

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We are learning and using the Anchorage bus system to get around the city. Right now we sit at the beautiful municipal library and try to make all our logistical arrangements for getting back to Missoula. We took an extra day here so we wouldn’t be rushed, but now we are both regretting it as we have too much down time. Making the most of it and playing the Glad Game.

Raw beauty of the Gulf of Alaska...  Pic had not been enhanced or retouched

Raw beauty of the Gulf of Alaska… Pic had not been enhanced or retouched

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Days 57 & 58: Denali National Park (August 11 & 12)

Your trusted blogger in the field

Your trusted blogger in the field

Nothing to do. Yea! It’s a good thing!

Sammy terrorizing our camp

Sammy terrorizing our camp

This morning I tried to sleep in just because I could. I had no plans. Everyone except Nelson and I were scheduled to jump on a very early morning bus ride to Wonder Lake. As it turns out, my tent is pitched too close to the breakfast table and I was awakened early and heard everything said for the next hour or more. After the time had come and gone for everyone to be on the bus, I heard the familiar voices of Sue, Nelson, Mark and Giovanni. I wasn’t surprised that Sue had decided not to go since she didn’t feel good, but I was surprised to find out that Mark and Giovanni also decided not to make the long bus trip. So five of our team are gone with high hopes of seeing a great view of Mt. McKinley and I…your trusted blogger, will not have as much alone time as I originally thought.

Hanging out in the laundry mat because it was the warmest place to be this morn

Hanging out in the laundry mat because it was the warmest place to be this morn

Glacier Run Off quilted wall hanging by artist, Ree Nancarrow

Glacier Run Off quilted wall hanging by artist, Ree Nancarrow

It’s cloudy and rainy and cold some of the time and at other times, the sun sneaks a peek and I rip off my coat and still it in my stuff sack only to stop and bring it back out a few minutes later. Such is the nature of this sub-arctic climate. Four of us walked a mile or so up to the Visitor Center/museum just for something to do. I spotted this most beautiful quilted wall hanging that I stared at in amazement and adoration at the intricacy of the piece. We walked to the little on-site cafe hoping for pancakes, but instead had to settle for pastries.

Not alone after all

Not alone after all

Rain in Denali National Park

Rain in Denali National Park

Tonight we went to a talk given at the amphitheater by Park Ranger, Jeri. She spoke on “a year in the life of a moose”. We learned more than that though. We learned that the floor of the Boreal Forest is 90% covered in Stair Step Moss which fixes the Nitrogen in the soil. This, in turn, allows all the plant growth even though there is only an average of 10 to 12 inches of rain per year in Denali National Park. Rain stays on the ground rather than draining into the soil because of the permafrost. The trees that grow in the Boreal Forest survive because they “harden” during the nine winter months. Green up in the Spring can happen in one single day.

Jeri the Park Ranger

Jeri the Park Ranger

During the spring, the moose birth their babies (usually having twins each weighing between 25 and 35 lbs); during the summer, it is feeding time with food literally only available for 12 weeks (babies must gain approx 450 lbs to make it through their first winter); autumn is rutting season; and winter is all about survival. The author of “In the Company of Moose” (Victor Van Ballenberghe) coined this phrase concerning a moose’s winter survival: “Live if you can and die if you must”.

The growth of a male moose’s antler is directly related to the amount of sunlight they receive. A moose has no upper teeth in front; can see 180 degrees; and its hearing is its best sense. A moose can stay under water for a full five minutes and can live up to twenty years.

Morris was about 200 ft away when I got the pic taken safely out of the bus window

Morris was about 200 ft away when I got the pic taken safely out of the bus window

It was great to learn all these facts, but what was REALLY amazing was that we had another “small world” encounter. The ranger started by asking us where we were from and I suppose that might have been one trigger, but then we mentioned that we had bicycled here from Missoula, Montana and a woman across the way asks if we know “Traci”. I spoke up and said I was Traci and she said she has been following my blog. She explained further that a friend of hers from Hutchinson, Kansas gave her the blog address. That person who lives in Hutch is Carol and who I actually have never met, but she is friends with a good friend of mine, Mary (whose husband, Wes, races with my husband, John). So…sitting at a ranger demo at Denali National Park in A-La-Ska…I meet someone who has been following my blog. Is it a small world or what!?!

Now,,,let me tell you more about this woman and her husband, Donna is a photojournalist and has bicycled extensively herself and is the author of two books. She and her husband live in Colorado and are here at the exact time and place that I am. If I had taken the bus tour to Wonder Lake, I would have missed meeting in person this wonderful couple. Just another awesome moment orchestrated by God.

Tuesday

Oh ya...I got on s bus.  Go me!

Oh ya…I got on a bus. Go me!

After breakfast, Sue, Mark, Nelson and I decided to take a bus tour which would allow us to see another glimpse of Mt. McKinley. I was worried about my motion sickness, but I did decide to give it a try. They sell Dramamine around here at the stores, but it is the kind that makes me drowsy and I didn’t want to sleep through the trip, so I braved it hoping for the best. The trip was well worth it because we saw a huge bull moose from about 200 yards away, a grizzly and her cub, AND the mountain. The driver of our bus, said it was pretty rare to see all three in such a short ride. I did get queezy, but my stomach settled down after we unloaded. We then went for a hike to see the train bridge (we’ll be crossing over tomorrow on our way to Anchorage) and a walking suspension bridge. These activities bring us to about 4:00 in the afternoon. We are waiting for the other five of us to return from Wonder Lake and we will have one more celebratory meal together. Tomorrow as we board the train, it will be the last time we see Wally as he will continue on his long long bicycling trip to finish up in about ten more days.

Another view of Mt. McKinley

Another view of Mt. McKinley

The last person I want to introduce you to is our tour leader, Wally Werner. He is a software writer by trade, but he is also the President of the Adventure Cycling Association. This adventure for him began March 20th when he dipped his rear wheel in the Gulf of Mexico off the most southerly point of the Florida Keys and he won’t be done until he dips is front wheel in the Gulf of Alaska. His trek will have logged him well over 6,000 miles. Go Wally!

Wally Werner

Wally Werner

Some miscellaneous and random facts and trivia for you:

You might find it interesting that in this group of ten riders, we have three distinct pronunciations of the word “pannier”:

The Canadian amongst us pronounces it: pan-yea
The Seattleite amongst us pronounces it: pa-near
The Kansas amongst us pronounces it: pan-yer

Here are some interesting facts about Alaska: 1) It is one-fifth the size of the United States which makes it larger than Texas, California and Montana combined 2) There are more than 3,000 rivers and over three million lakes here 3) There are more active glaciers and ice fields in Alaska than in the rest of the inhabited world 4) Of the 20 highest peaks in the U.S., 17 are here in Alaska. There are 19 peaks over 14,000 ft and Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America is over 20,000 ft.

I hope to have some great pix for you after tomorrow’s train ride 😎

Suspension bridge we crossed on our hike

Suspension bridge we crossed on our hike

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