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Daily Journal: Alaska
Valdez, Alaska to
Canada (July 1 - 13, 2008)
July 1 Valdez to Blueberry Lake Campground 28 m (47 km) We packed
up rather easy, I guess we have done this a few times. I felt grateful to
have the opportunity to stay with my family for two months. Without
their help we would not have finished our second book. With all the
daylight hours in Alaska, (sunset at 11:30 pm and sunrise at 4:00 am)
I managed to function with only 5 to 6 hours a night and finish the last bit
of work. So when we shoved off we had very little training in our legs and
an above average load of food in our panniers. The first 19 miles were pretty easy, a
great tailwind, flat roads, sunshine, and stunning scenery. Valdez is
in a valley with snow covered peaks all around and after 19 miles we had to climb Thompson
pass (2,700 feet) that's a lot of climbing for rusty legs. I have to
say it was a painful push up to Blueberry Campground at an elevation of
2,000 feet. It was great to find my brother Ed at the campground with a fire
going and ribs on the Bar-b-que. Yumm. It was nice not to have
to cook. It was $14 a night to camp in a stunning area with a pit
toilet provided, but no shower, bummer.
July 2 Blueberry Lake Campground to Billy Mitchell Rest Area 24 m (40 km).
We rode over the pass and to Worthington Glacier. I was disappointed to see
that it had shrunk since the last time
I was here. We had a nice 7.5 mile downhill ride but into the wind.
After yesterdays hard push when we
came to Billy Mitchell rest area we decided to stay. Boy is it nice to
be on the road again. OK the aches and pains are annoying but I know we will
limber up quickly. So far the traffic has been light and the roads
well paved and with a large shoulder. The drivers are polite and give
us lots of room.
July 3 BM Rest Area to Tosina River Lodge at 79 mile, 31 m (50 km).
It is nice riding weather cool but sunny, we came across the Tiekel River lodge and
stopped in for breakfast, we could have camped there for $5. The guys in the dinner said that tourism is
down 50% but the number of cyclists on the road is up. We passed
numerous pristine streams and the wild flowers are amazing. I hope to
have a full page on them soon. We arrived at Tosina lodge and camped
for free, we paid for a shower at $4. But oh they had free wifi and Tim was
very happy about that.
July 4 Tosina River Lodge to Glennallen 36 m (60 km) Cherie and Scott
joined us for breakfast and they brought Riley the dog with them.
Breakfast came with free coffee, ketchup, mustard, and Tabasco sauce.
We have a new saying, the US is the land of plenty. There is free
coffee everywhere we go.
Tim was overjoyed to see everyone including Riley, he secretly wishes we
could have a dog with us. We had a short steep climb right out of the gate,
a guy was walking up the hill and we were riding about the same speed. We
stopped at the Wrangell/St. Ellis Mountain National Park headquarters and
watched a free movie and looked at all the exhibits. Nice, I would
recommend a visit here. We had one more climb before Glennallen and I
was over heated by the time we hit the top, I guess 82 degrees is hot for us
at the moment. In Glennallen we stayed at the Northern Lights RV park
and paid $15 for a site. There was free wifi but we had to pay for the
shower, 2 for $5. Oh do we miss the camp kitchens we had in Australia and
New Zealand. We were lucky to get our tent up before a thunderstorm
dumped a short hard rain.
July 5 Glennallen to 24 mile Rest Area (36 m, 64 km) I
picked up more food supplies at the grocery store here, the prices are a
fair bit cheaper than Valdez, ok it is nice to get some cheap food. The
weather is nice at 74 degrees and we have a tailwind. I have been
having a hard time keeping up with Tim, the tailwind makes it difficult so I
have taken to riding out front to slow him down a bit. Even though we
have been in the States for a few months now I still get confused at times
on which side of the road to ride on. I still think in kilometers and
I am reluctant to go back to miles again, but I have no choice all the
distances are in miles. Well we will be riding in Canada soon and they use
kilometers. Measurements like inches I find tedious and when we saw a
sign that said rest area 1500 feet, Tim and I were bewildered at how far
1500 feet was. Yikes we have been away for a long time. Our rest
area came at just the right time, we set the tent up before the afternoon
thunderstorm hit. We were not so lucky for dinner, we had to cook dinner in
July 6 24 mile Rest Area to Midway Point at 61 mile (37 m, 61 km)
The morning was foggy but at least it wasn't raining. We waited a bit
to dry our belongings and started down the road again. We are really out
there not much human development anywhere. The smell of the
wildflowers are sweet and the spruce fresh. We look around for animals
but we haven't seen anything big yet, just bald eagles and other nesting
birds. It has been warm during the day so I guess everything is hiding
from the sun. The thunderstorms are developing again, we can see them
way off near the mountain peaks and they look like they are coming our way.
So we pushed on to Midway. In the milepost book, Midway advertises
free camping so we thought it would be a good place to spend the night.
When we arrived Jay the owner said, why don't you stay in our old school
bus, it has bunk beds and a table and chairs. We were thrilled to have some
space and unloaded our gear in the bus. Little did we know it was about to
rain for the next two days straight.
July 7, 8, 9 Midway Point It began to rain on Sunday night
and didn't stop until Wednesday afternoon. We did take nice showers and did
laundry at the store, worked on the stuff on
the computer. Jay and Debbie the owners were great hosts. They are
avid hunters and have skins of grizzly bear, black bear, coyote, fox, lynx,
and wolf. They live in an area where wild life outnumbers humans by a
long shot. The weather here can get down to 40 below 0, now that is cold.
What an interesting lifestyle, not for me, it is way to cold to ride a bike
but they sure enjoy it.
July 10, Midway Point to Tok 63 miles (104 km) The weather finally
broke and we are on the road again. I couldn't think of anything
better to do than ride my bike on my 47th birthday, my how time flies when
your havin fun. The terrain was rolling and the pass was not too bad.
As we were cruising along we saw a fox laying on the side of the road so we
stopped and watched him for a while he was really playful like a dog.
While we were stopped three vehicles went by and they didn't even see the
little guy. I love riding through the spruce trees it smells so fresh.
We had a great tailwind until we were 10 miles from town and the thunder
head over us opened up, we were sucked in and we couldn't pedal out, we had
a head wind and rain too. No use fighting it we just pedaled along,
boy can the weather can change fast here.
July 11 Tok. We stayed at the Salmon Bake Campground and spent our
time at Fast Eddies Restaurant. All you can drink coffee, haven't had that
in a long time, well I have to admit I drank a little too much of the stuff.
We finally made the announcement that our book is finished. It
still hasn't sunk in yet but oh what a relief. Now I can concentrate
on my journal and ride, ride ride.
July 12 Tok to Lakeview Campground 90 km. With a tailwind and
rolling hills it started out as a pleasant ride and then around noon the
thunderhead built up again and to add to the misery we hit our first
construction zone. It started raining when when we put our bikes in
the Pilot car and it rained the entire time we sat in the back of the pick
up truck. Yuck! wet, cold, and windy, we waited for the rain to let up and
started off again. Along the way we met up with a Dutch couple touring from
Anchorage to Seattle, we are heading in the same direction. Another
construction zone and another ride in a Pilot car and the rhythm of road was
We finally arrived at Lakeview Campground, at first it was the Dutch
couple and us. The campground is on a beautiful lake, has toilet with
hand sanitizer even!, a fire pit, and tables too. The price was right
too, no fee.
In the middle of the night I got up for my usual evening trip to the
bathroom. When I was just about asleep I heard someone walking around
outside our tent. so I unzipped the door and took a peak outside and my
heart skipped a beat, it was bear and he was 100 feet from our tent.
My first thought was thank god we don't have any food in our tent, my second
thought was wake up Tim. The first time I shook him and gently
said, Tim there is a bear outside our tent, he just laid there, then I saw
his entire body levitate off the ground when I said again, "Tim there is a
bear outside our tent", and he sprung into action. Ok he quietly got up,
grabbed the camera and bear spray (pepper spray specifically designed for
looked out the tent door and by that time the bear was gone. whew! The nice
thing about Tim is that he doesn't panic, something he has been trying to
teach me forever. Needless to say it took a little while to get back to
sleep. The moral of the story, don't keep any food in the tent and most
likely the bear will just walk by.
July 13 Lakeview Campground to Beaver Creek, Canada 90 km. We
cleaned the bikes up a bit today because they were caked in mud, we will
probably see more mud but Tim likes to keep the chains clean, one thing we
learned from being on the road so long is that components wear down and the
better we take care of them the longer they last.
It was hillier than we expected today and we were slower than we liked,
we pulled into the Teltlin Wildlife refuse visitor center and took a long
break, the Dutch couple were already there and we enjoyed lunch together.
The weather looked like rain again, great. We pushed on into no man's land
between the US and Canada border. We were cruising down the gravel
road at a good speed when Tim's back tire went flat. There was barely
anyplace to pull over and change a tire. On the bright side when we
got Tim's bike all put together we noticed a moose in a pond not too far
On the road again I pedaled up to the top of the hill and shifted into a
higher gear and snap my shifter cable broke. The first time ever for me and
the cables were replaced in New Zealand, so it only had 6000 km on it. So I
only had my front chain rings and had to pedal slowly on the flats. We had
25 km left and it seemed like eternity until the Canadian border. On the
bright side, we missed the torrential downpour that occurred at the border
before we got there.
We rolled into Beaver Creek happy to get a camp site.