I got 8 hours of good sleep in a nice bed. We are staying in the Slate River Inn. The inn is a series of small rooms down 2 long hallways. Each room has two single beds, a sink, small bathroom, and an even smaller closet. Everything is very clean and well kept; they even have a small rec room with tables for reading, assembling puzzles, and a shelf for swapping books.
There are a lot of long distance motorcyclists coming through. When I say long distance, I do mean long distance. There was a whole group of them from South America that have ridden all the way up and several others that came over from Europe to ride across the US. These roads must take a toll on their butts, because more than one motorcyclist has passed us standing up going down the road. The motorcycle of choice seems to be the BMW.
At the moment I am back in the Sourdough Cafe eating a little breakfast, watching all of the truckers come and go, and trying to catch up on posting pictures and videos. The WiFi up here is all satellite, which is slow, slooow, slllooooow. All of the South Americans and Europeans coming through here probably explains why the TV is constantly turned to the soccer channel. I was lucky yesterday to switch one of the TVs to the NASCAR Nationwide race.
There are several old buildings around the area; some of them are the original Coldfoot structures which have long since been replaced due to the increase in oil field business, traffic, and tourism. Nothing is cheap: gas is over $5 per gallon, the main buffet dinnner is $22 (well worth it), and one night inthe Slate River Inn is $200. On the plus side, everything has to be trucked in from Fairbanks which is 250 miles away. Most of the workers around here are college age students, from all over, earning money for school. The are very nice and friendly but seem to be VERY busy.
I was able to make several land line (yes, you read it correctly) telephone calls; as the sign says, ‘Coldfoot, one of the last places where your cell phone does not work.’ You can only make calls using a credit/debit/phone card using a push button wall phone. The problem with calling out like this is most people have cell phones and the number they see when you call doesn’t look like anything they might recognize, soooooo, they may not answer.
In an earlier post I mentioned a fellow bicyclist from New Zealand named Andrew Cheyne. Andrew left Deadhorse AK the afternoon ahead of us. Well, last night I received an email; he has already made it to Fairbanks. That is 520 miles in 6 days. Considering the road conditions and all, that amount of mileage is almost unfathomable. Talk about a real biker. Wow, I am impressed.
There is an impressive BLM building displaying information about the area just across the highway from here. They have several videos explaining various aspects about the area, the pipeline, and Alaska in general.
One interesting fact is the caribou and polar bears are able to survive the harsh cold winters because their the hairs on their fur are hollow, thus providing insulation an additional layer of insulation. Also, the individual tubes of hair on the polar bear are clear, not white. The hairs pick up and reflect the light around them so that they appear white.
Some other interesting facts: many animals, and the little vampire blood suckers, survive below the snow; it can be 70 degrees below zero on top and 50-60 degrees warmer underneath. Moose eat the small branches from willows and caribou scratch through the ground to eat lichen. Some insects purge water from their body to minimize the chance of damage due to freezing. I guess everything works to live another day.
Well. tomorrow morning we head out for Fairbanks. At least we don’t have much more dirt road on the agenda; I am guessing about 120 miles. The last 100 miles or so is pavement and there is supposed to be some in another area, also. Both of our bicycles are muddy messes and sorely in need of some maintenance. This type of riding sure takes its toll on gears, chains, and shifters. I use clip shoes/pedals and have had to clean the cleats and pedals out on several occasions so they will engage.
The man and his daughter (Larry and Katy) that camped out on Atigun Pass with us pulled in a few minutes ago and recognized our bicycles. It turns out that his family is avid bicyclists, and recumbent/trike riders to boot. They have done a lot of trips in the lower 48, particularly in the south east during spring break time. It was nice talking bike stuff with them. Larry lives in North Pole, down Fairbanks way, and said to contact him if we make to that area.
Next, a fellow from the Netherlands, Menno Dekhuyzen, pulled in on a recumbent similar to ours. He left from Deadhorse AK a few days behind us and is leaving tomorrow, also. Looks like we may have a traveling friend as far as Fairbanks, provided we don’t slow him down. Menno is taking 6 months off from surgery nursing and pedaling to Panama. Six years ago he came over and did the northern ride across the US. It has been great fun talking to him and comparing recumbent type notes and information. I have picked up several good ideas already. Everyone has their take on what works and what doesn’t.
Bears have been spotted south of here, both on the side roads and around the highways according to people passing through. Both of us have bear ‘proof’ food containers, and we will need to be more diligent about preparing our food and using the containers. Up to this point there really wasn’t much of a problem and nobody gave a thought to bears. Now it will be different.
One of the biggest problems in bear country is you are supposed to cook and eat away from your tent area so there is no food residue. Unfortunately, eating in the tent gives some respite from those flying leeches. Let’s see: eaten by a bear or eaten by blood suckers. I guess it is not much of a choice, huh?
Well, I gotta get going. Need to eat dinner and get my stuff packed so we can get on the road after a good night’s sleep. Another good night in the sack will certainly be welcome to this tired old body; I am still feeling somewhat bushed even after a day and a half in Coldfoot. Communications will be limited (non existent) until Fairbanks, sooooo, take care . . . . . until we talk again . . . . .