Friday, June 5, 2009
Day 15 - Hatcher Foundation arrives at the Hatcher Pass! Northbound portion of trip complete.
Day 15– Thursday, June 4, 2009
Start: Tok, Alaska
End: Anchorage, Alaska
Trip Miles Today: 364
Total Trip Miles: 5323
Well, the weather held on for one more day and I was able to complete the Northbound segment of my ride to Alaska without having to crawl in to my rain gear a final time. While I did have times of cold and wet, I really don’t think I could have hoped for any better at this time of year, in this place!
The 364 miles today was pretty straightforward. South from Tok Junction on the Tok Cutoff, briefly to the Richardson Highway, then to the Glenn Highway into the Anchorage area. This is Alaska Route 1 the entire way and it would be hard to get lost. The scenery is pretty non-descript for the first 50 miles or so but then you get an excellent look at the Wrangell-St Elias National Park and the Wrangell Mountains – most notably Mt. Sanford at over 16,000 feet. After the turn onto the Glenn Highway at Glenallen, most of what can be seen is the glaciated North side of the Chugach Mountains and this range remains in view all the way into Anchorage as the highway follows the Matanuska River Valley. I did make the side trip up to the Hatcher Pass, above Palmer as The Hatcher Pass was the symbolic goal for my charity raising activities for The Austin Hatcher Foundation. Fortunately the weather was decent as it can still be pretty nasty this early in the season.
As has been the case throughout, the bike ran just fine, though it did do its little idle die-out trick a couple of times. Tomorrow it will be deposited at the BMW dealer in Anchorage for the motorcycle version of a week at the spa.
No recent day would be complete without the mention of wildlife. An early morning highlight was a very good look at a moose, up close and personal. A large cow (shown in the pictures) was grazing on the right side of the road. The good news is that I saw her in time because apparently my movement, or light, or noise, caused her to do the obvious thing – move into the road directly in front of me. Oh well, it makes for great photo ops! These animals are not PhD candidates. I did see one other moose standing in a lake well off the side of the road. However, THE most amazing sighting came at about 4:00 PM, inside the city limits of Anchorage and not a mile from the International Airport. I was sitting at a stoplight, amongst all the other cars, and here come a moose mommy and her two calves walking slowly and deliberately up the median. This sort of thing is not seen very often in the part of the world where I live!
I sit here tonight asking myself how it went by so fast. It was 15 days, and 5323 miles ago, that I was standing in the surf at Ocean City, NJ. When I checked in to my hotel this evening I felt tired, the normal result of a long hard uphill push. Less than an hour later, though, I found myself with maps spread on the bed – contemplating the return trip and how to make it a worthy partner to the northbound trip I completed today. I am both somewhat weary, but amped up at the idea of a return that follows a different route and is longer yet! I achieved all the goals I set out for myself for this segment. I arrived at the Hatcher Pass, in the Talkeetna Mountains, just north of here, near Palmer, with a minimum of fuss. This completed the “Hatcher Foundation to the Hatcher Pass” element of my trip which has been so important to me as a fund raising activity for The Austin Hatcher Foundation. In fact it was made even more fun when I added a visit to Austin, Minnesota and the Spam Museum so I could call it the Austin (Mn.) to Hatcher (Pass, AK) ride. OK, maybe only fun for simple minds like my own. I was also able to accommodate one of my most important supporters, RevZilla Motorsports, by being able to also claim “RevZilla to Wasilla.” I was, however, mightily disappointed this afternoon, as I stood on Main Street in Wasilla, and discovered that I could not actually see Russia. Perhaps if I were a little taller.
I do not intend to do daily entries as I spend the next 10 days or so traveling with my wife, Lisa, and friends Don and Sandy Verdiani. I may make entries from time to time but, not to worry, I will be back to a (hopefully) daily entry to cover my return trip starting on or about Tuesday June 16.
More pictures from today ride, as well as from the entire ride can be seen at http://jackb1.smugmug.com
The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by
RevZilla Motorsports at RevZilla.com and by Hermy's Cycles in Port Clinton, PA