This is our first update in a long time and our first post while on the road. We've been in Alaska a week now and have experienced so much it will be difficult to convey the eventful week we've had.
We flew from Heathrow airport to Seattle on Monday afternoon, arriving in Seattle we were pretty tired and spaced out, we ended up eating a very surreal meal of fish and chips while watching the sunset, jetlag does funny things. After that we checked into our Alaskan Airways flight and slept until it was time to get on.
The flight over we got to see some faint Northern Lights from the window of the plane which were beautiful flickering greens. We arrived in Fairbanks last Tuesday at 3 am, to be greeted by some seriously cold weather and lots of snow. Our bikes arrived in one piece which we loaded into the back of an enormous taxi which took us to our hotel.
After some much needed sleep we headed into town to do a bit of last minute shopping for a GPS tracker and some bear spray to help us to fend off the hungry bears. The shops were massive, similar to an aircraft hanger with a till at one end. After a day at the shops, buying food at Wallmart we hitched a ride back to our hotel with a father and son who filled us in about our route ahead and what to watch out for. At this point we were still planning on leaving the next morning.
Getting back to the hotel we microwaved ourselves some traditional Alaskan Chinese meals and started assembling our bikes and getting ready to leave. By the morning we still weren’t ready to leave so spent another day in Fairbanks getting the last few bits sorted, followed by a meal at Pizza Hut.
We left on a bright cold morning heading South East along the Richardson Highway towards Delta Junction. Leaving on our bikes was such an uplifting experience after spending three days moping around in Fairbanks.
After cycling into the afternoon in freezing temperatures with icicles forming on our clothes we found somewhere to camp and setup our tent in the snow for the first time. We ate 100m from our tent downwind and then pulled all our food and cooking equipment up a tree another 100m away (after many attempts) to prevent bears from attacking us or eating our food. That night we slept pretty much straight through in temperatures that can only be described as cold, waking up with all your water frozen and a thick crust of ice around the mouth of your sleeping bag is a pretty novel experience.
We set off towards Delta Junction quite late that day and ended up cycling till 8pm that night, after looking for somewhere to camp for a few hours we ended up getting so desperate we made a sign and stood in the road hoping someone would take us the last 20 miles into delta junction. After a few attempts, a lovely lady and her grandson stopped and helped us load our bikes and 24 bags into the back of her car and drove us along the Richardson towards Delta Junction explaining lots about the local environment and the oil pipeline; it was great to be in the warm and have some local knowledge. We were dropped off at a steak house in Delta Junction were we spent the night in a single room not much bigger than the bed with a shared bathroom setup, at this point we felt like we were really experiencing America.
After a good nights sleep and stocking up on copious amounts of energy bars we made our way onto the snow covered Alaskan Highway with the intention of making it half way to Tok. For lunch we took some shelter from the cold in a gas station with a back room filled with various stuffed animals. We cycled on 50 miles or so and then started our favourite game of searching for a camping spot without 3 ft of snow, this game went on for another 15 miles at which point my (Cemal) feet were frozen and desperately needed some warming up. We decided to cycle onto Dot Lake, a small place on the map we hoped would have somewhere we could shelter. Rounding the corner to Dot Lake we spotted a small Church which was open which I sheltered in while Martin went off to look for signs of life elsewhere. Martin returned 15 minutes later with a smile on his face and news that he’d knocked on a door and a kind man had agreed to let us stay in his summer cabin for the night. After a night thawing out in a picturesque log cabin we spent the morning drinking coffee & chatting with Jim who converted the old Dot Lake shop into his home (and still runs the post office there) about everything Alaskan.
After saying good bye to Dot Lake we cycled onwards to Tok along roads which just got better every mile. For lunch we had a bowl of cereal with frozen ice pieces on top (our water bottles had frozen).
We made Tok with lots of time to check into a cabin and go and grab some food at Fast Eddys, the local restaurant in Tok. So here we are, sitting in our log cabin trying to plan our next move, the thought of more cold weather and freezing nights is making us reconsider our route downwards, we’ll update you as soon as we can with how the next few days turn out.
Thanks to friends and family and the kindness of strangers who’s efforts have helped us get here and helped us along our way.
More updates soon, we promise.
Cemal & Martin
30 April, 2013Tweet