Day 12 – Deadhorse AK USA

day-12-welcome-to-deadhorseThis is our final day in Deadhorse AK; tomorrow we pedal south down the Dalton Highway for 20 days heading toward Fairbanks.

Tom and I have a fairly good idea about how fast we can travel on paved roads; unpaved roads, like the Dalton Highway, may not be as predictable. Soooo, it may take a few more days to reach Fairbanks; who knows!

Lisa - Post MistressThere are several obligatory photo opportunities here and we took advantage of them just to show everyone that we are really here and not sitting in some Arizona Resort.

One location is THE store that advertises the end of the Dalton Highway even though the Dalton Highway actually ends about 2 miles earlier. The Post Office is located in THE store and Lisa, the post mistress took our picture and posted it on the bicycle board along with one of my website cards. It is now official; we have become ice road bicyclists.

Coldfoot AK 240 MilesJames Dalton Highway

End Of Dalton HighwayThere are several other spots where photographs must be taken; one is the official ending of the Dalton Highway (or, in our case the beginning), the sign saying Coldfoot 240 miles, and the official Dalton Highway sign. Who says we are not tourists who ride bicycles.

If you will notice, the Coldfoot 240 miles sign also says Next Services 240 miles. Yes, regardless of how rugged or cold or unpleasant the trip becomes we have 240 miles to go before the next town. We will be eating prepackages foods, filtering our own water, and tromping off into the bushes when mother nature calls.

Along the way to Coldfoot AK we will be spending the night at such places named: Happy Valley, Pump Station 3, Toolik, somewhere along the highway, and Gold Creek Turnout. A few Hail Marys and an occasional Our Father would definitely be appreciated.

Prudhoe Bay National ForrestWe took a ‘tour’ to Prudhoe Bay today which required passing through a security checkpoint. The tour has to be booked several days in advance so a minimal security check can be done. Before boarding the tour coach IDs are again checked.

If you haven’t gathered it by now, this area is flat; drop a marble on the ground and it would look like a major hill. Well, to improve the scenic opportunities around the area Halliburton has established, with tongue in cheek humor, the Prudhoe Bay National Forrest.

Oil WellsThe Alaska oil fields are the biggest thing going around here and employ 4,000 – 6,000 people. Most of these people work 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off; companies provide housing and meals for their employees plus fly them to either Anchorage or Fairbanks as part of their salary. Most of the workers are men, with only a small percentage being women.

Collection PipesThere are well heads running down 7,000 – 8,000 feet sitting next to every little house in the above picture, and there are more wells and drilling further off in the distance. Individual pipes run to common collection points all over the landscape. It is truly impossible to describe the area; you have to be here and see it.

At Prudhoe BayWe finally made it to Prudhoe Bay. There is a lot of dark sand that has blown over from the Sag River and plenty of gravel from the oil operations. Almost all of the ice has melted, however, there was some still backed up in a protected cove or two. Just about the time we arrived some spitting rain developed but that did not deter a few of us from exiting the tour coach and walking the 100+ yards down to the bay for a photo.

There was plenty of ‘I dare you’ statements issued to everyone about stripping down and doing a polar bear dunk in the water. Finally, a fellow from New Zealand stripped and did it. When I say stripped down I do mean stripped ‘alllll theeee wayyy down’! He jumped in , went underwater, and came back up. To quote Rudyard Kippling, ‘. . . you are a better man than me Gunga Din.’

Andrew CheyneAndrew Cheyne was a fellow bicyclist that we met this morning at THE store. He had just flown in and was heading down to South America. Andrew has been on the road for quite a while and has bicycled in Russia, Mongolia, Asia, some of the middle east, and South Africa. He was quite likable, and very knowledgeable, and willing to share his ideas on solo bicycling around the world. He was somewhat of a natural born cut-up so it did not surprise me at all that he was the one to jump in to the bay sans clothing.

I am happy with my decision to switch bicycles and had forgotten how much I enjoyed riding the Bacchetta Giro 20. This immediate area is filled with substantial amounts of loose gravel, which can be difficult with a recumbent, however the bike is doing just fine. I did put a 1.75″ Schwalbe Marathon Plus on the Front and a Tour Plus on the back which adds to the traction. A trike really has some advantages when going slow up hills, and we will be experiencing some hills, however, I feel the Bacchetta will do just fine. Anyway, the die is cast and tomorrow I will see.

 

 

Days 69 – 70

Colorful BuildingOur ride on Day 69, the next to last day of our cross country trek, took us 28 miles in to Ellsworth ME. Since the first week of our ride we have managed to avoid serious rain, but not today. It started raining shortly after we left Bangor ME and continued for the entire ride. The good news was we had our rain gear, the bad news is with all of the hill climbing and sweating we ended up just as wet on the inside as the outside.

All of us together.We did see a lot of interesting things along the way: flowers, colorful buildings several old cemeteries, and a classic car display. Tom’s wife, Dixie, arrived in Ellsworth ME in the afternoon; so tomorrow we will finish the ride and can celebrate our accomplishment. We got together for supper to discuss our upcoming Tuesday ride and begin reminiscing about things we had seen and done. Our family members ended up looking somewhat blankly at us as we smirked and laughed at funny stories that only someone on the ride would understand.

Dipping In The PacificOne year ago I agreed to do this cross country bicycle ride with Tom. Between late August of 2012 and early June of 2013 we planned the ride, put our gear together, and prepared ourselves both mentally and physically as much as possible. No amount of advance planning properly prepared me for the stark realization that this great adventure had begun as standing on the Oregon beach, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean behind me and 3,600 miles of roadway in front of me.

It is now 9 weeks later, and we were preparing to head out for Bar Harbor ME on the last day of cross country bicycle ride: P2A (Pacific to Atlantic) as it were. As at the beginning of the ride, no amount of planning or thinking about this day prepared me for what I was feeling. Happiness at getting back to family and friends, sadness that the daily routine we had established was coming to an end, and curiosity at how my life will respond to the things I seen, the people I had met, and stories I had heard.

In the Atlantic OceanWith our family cheering us on we pedaled out from Ellsworth ME toward Sand Beach in Acadia National Park. The ride itself was a blur as the entire focus was on getting our first glimpse of the beach, which occurred at high noon. There is no easy entry to the beach for bicycles or any other wheeled cart or vehicle. It turned out that several sets of winding stairs provided the only access to the beach. After negotiating the stairs and a beach full of people staring at two guys pushing loaded bicycles across the stand and into the water our journey had come full circle.

All of us at dinnerThe next item on the agenda was getting together in the evening for a lobster fest dinner to celebrate our accomplishment. But, a surprise awaited us. Our son, Eric, and daughter-in-law, Laurie, created special shirts for us with our pictures on the front and a list of each day and the mileage we rode on the back. What a special way to close out the day and the trip.
Dixie and Margie

I do want to thank everyone that supported us on the trip through prayers, blessings, and comments on Facebook or through the website. Without your constant encouragement this trip would not have been the success that it was. And, a special thanks to Tom’s wife, Dixie, and my wife, Margie, for holding down the home front and giving us the summer to make our dream come true.

Days 65 – 68

Umagog Lake in NHToday’s ride, from Errol NH to Rumford ME was short (45 miles), just like the time remaining on this grand adventure. In fact, we now have less than 200 miles to Bar Harbor ME and the finish. We have averaged 65 miles per day since leaving on June 20th and could finish the ride on Sunday or Monday. Both of our wives are coming to see us finish, and our original completion date was August 27th. Sooooo, we will be able to take it easy for the next few days while our wives and family members arrive, which makes it nice since the roller coaster hills through Maine are somewhat brutal.

Whoopi Pie Roadside StandPaul, a very talkative guy we met on the road several days ago told us to be sure and stop at the Puzzle Mountain Whoopi Pie stand on Highway 26 heading out of Errol NH. Well, stop we did. What is a Whoopi Pie? Around here, a Whoopi Pie is, well, imagine a McDonald’s hamburger bun made from chocolate cake, and the meat patty made from white icing. Now, that is a Whoopi Pie. They looked so good and filling that we ended up splitting one between us.

A Moose MuckPaul also told us about ‘Moose Mucks’ along the roadside, and we finally found one. A ‘Moose Muck’ is a low wet areas along the road that has different grasses and other vegetation that moose like to eat. These areas also contain salt deposits that accumulate from the run-off when the roads are ‘de-iced’ in the winter. The salt attracts the moose (and other animals) much like a salt lick in a horse pasture.

Leaves Turning ColorsOur ride along Highway 2 from Rumford ME to Skowhegan ME was pretty uneventful. We stopped a few places for drinks and a little food, but overall there was not much to see or stop for. The day did feature a lot of climbing and a strong wind in our face.  We have begun to see a few trees and some sumac turning into their fall colors. In June, when we left, we found some people just putting in their spring flowers, now we are seeing some vegetation turn toward fall.

Our ride, tomorrow, will put us into Bangor ME for the weekend. There is only a few days left to savor this cross country experience.

FishingThe ride from Skowhegan ME to Bangor ME turned out to be very nice even though there were a lot of Maine hills to climb. Much of the day involved shifting gears up and shifting gears down.

There were some pretty sights along the way which helped to pass the time between changing gears.

We entered Bangor ME on Highway 2, which turned into I 395 before we realized it. Fortunately we had ridden on interstate highways out west so were somewhat prepared for crossing over at the entrance and exit ramps. The exit for downtown Bangor ME turned up after about a mile so we were able to gracefully exit (pun intended) and found ourselves heading into Bangor ME and right past their annual American Folk Festival, which we attended on Sunday afternoon.

Legendary Singing StarsMy wife and brother-in-law arrived in town late Saturday with our car and were able to provide transportation around town during the weekend which was quite nice considering the hilly environment around the area.

The folk festival was very nice, and on Sunday they featured a number of gospel groups in their outside stage. One group, The Legendary Singing Stars could really lay out some wonderful songs with a blues undertone.