Happy Birthday Bill!
From the hangar we head to the inn. We have a nice breakfast sandwich; designed by Bill: tomato, cheese, egg and bacon, all on a grilled bun. Delicious.
Thank you Trapper Creek Inn!
And off we are; on our new rims. We're glad we were able to get the new rims this quickly. We'd like to make it to Denali National Park by the beginning of next week. As we ride on the shoulder we realize it was great timing for the rims to break where they did. Every 50 or 100 feet or so there is a deep crack in the shoulder. Bump... bump... bump... We don't think the old rims could have handled it.
It's a cloudy day, but it is still dry. We pedal on. Slowly we climb. Little by little. The broad pass lies ahead of us in the next days. An elevation of 2400 foot. We must be climbing part of the way already.
Enjoying the lates trick. After all, Amarins and Cheyenne are on the bicycle too!
We're not quite sure of our destination today. We're going to ride to milemarker 133, where there are several options to camp. If we want we can ride on to Byers Lake Campground; a family name and thus an appealing stop.
The ride goes well. It is good to be on the road again. The girls are happy and are humming away. Cheyenne has her eyes on the scenery. That does not go unrewarded! She spots a porcupine right next to the road. The sounds from our excitement spur it on to disappear in the wood line. But not after all of us have gotten a good view of it. What a big one it is. What a beautiful sight.
A Mary's McKinley view lodge we take a lunch break. There are no more places to eat after this one until we reach Cantwell. We're taking advantage of it while we can. As we're waiting for a table to come available, the clouds move away from Mt McKinley just a tiny bit to make the peak visible. Our first sighting since Anchorage.
On and on. The sky is breaking open. A great day.
That was a good break. We feel rested and ready to go to Byers Lake Campground. It's 14 miles from here and we still have most of the afternoon available. 3-2-1 go!
We cross several creeks. Each time we look for salmon and bears. But it is not to be today. We keep on climbing hill after hill.
When we cross Byers creek, we see a place across the road. It is Byers Creek Lodge. A sign for cold drinks lures us in. A good choice. There are two little girls to play with, bicycles to ride (out of all things), and indeed the cold drinks too. We strike up a conversation with the owners and find out they have lived for several years in Mount Vernon, Kentucky! What are the chances of that.
Making new friends at Byers Creek Lodge.
The girls hit it off together. When the owners offer us a cabin to stay in for the night (with bunk beds mind you), the girls don't need to think long. Yes, yes, yes! Of course they want to stay!
Our cabin for the night. It's about the size we're looking for for this winter.
We're staying at Byers Creek Lodge, at milemarker 144 on the Parks Highway.
The sun is dancing with the clouds.
Today 0 miles, Total 6,343 miles
We're staying for almost two weeks here in Denali National Park. It will give us a chance to enjoy the park. It will delay our arrival in Fairbanks. It will ommit the inevitable ending of our cross country bicycle ride for almost two weeks. It will also give Bill the chance to visit with his children back east; Adam is finishing his Advanced Infantry Training in Fort Benning, Georgia. Congratulations Adam!
Caribou Loop is our loop!
Our spot at Riley Creek Campground. Right across from the bearboxes and bath house.
Camp Pedouin. We're ready for rain. A big tarp covers the front of our tent and the picnic table.
Coming back from a day in the park we find this huge pile of wood in front of our tent. Thanks to our friends in Trapper Creek! Jasmine is hard at work carrying the wood for daddy to stack.
A time for breakfast.
And a time for supper.
At the campfire.
The after ice cream look.
Riding the shuttle buses
We're taking advantage of the shuttle buses. A car seat is provided for Robin. We can pick one up either at the Visitor Center or at the Wilderness Access Center. The bus drivers are very friendly and share a lot of information about the area. Whenever we see a wild animal we yell "STOP". If it's safe to stop the bus driver will stop and we can observe the moose, caribou or occasionally a bear, for a while. It's a great system. The free shuttle bus takes you all the way to Savage River, 15 miles up the park road. There you can enjoy the gravel bars, the 2-mile trail or a hike up to Savage Rock. Mount McKinly is visible from Savage Rock; weather provided.
Exploring Denali starts with the bus stop.
Jasmine and Cheyenne enjoying the busride.
All body parts need to remain in the bus... In the excitement of seeing a caribou up close, those rules are easily forgotten.
Jasmine gets a chance to sit in the driver's seat.
Going on a raft adventure
Thanks to Jim at Denali Raft Adventures; Bill, Cheyenne and Jasmine get to go on a ride of their life.
Bill, Cheyenne and Jasmine are going on a raft trip.
Having a blast!
Savage River is our favorite spot to visit. There is always wildlife to spot during the ride there. When we get off the bus at mile 15, we can leave the car seat at the ranger post. Then off we are. Whether it is walking the trail, climbing up to Savage Rock, or playing on the gravel bars in the river.
We're proud to be the parents of these troopers.
Looking at rocks in the river.
Enjoying nature in its simplicity.
Climbing up the trail.
Picnic with a view of Mt McKinley.
On the gravel bar. Ready to build dams and dig holes.
Loads of fun in the gravel.
Robin is checking the strenght of the dam.
Flowers in Denali National Park
Grass of Parnassus flowers.
Jasmine discovers the Larkspur.
To Eielson Visitor Center, mile 66
At the busstop for Eielson. It's not the right day though. We're not going until tomorrow, the 31st of July. Let's hope the weather is as clear as today and we'll see Mt McKinley from upclose.
Up early, but ready to go. Backpacks full, car seat available. Now all we have to do is wait for the bus to take us to Eielson.
The girls are ready for the long ride to Eielson. Armed with a discovery pack; each filled with a pair of binoculars, a compass, a tape measure, a journal (to keep), plant and wildlife identification guides, casting material and much much more.
Three girls and a view.
Just a couple of miles before reaching Eielson Visitor Center, the clouds open up just so slightly. There she is. Barely visible, but unmistakenly there. The mountain. Denali. Mt McKinley. A beauty with many different names.
A fox walks up to the bus.
A picture of the mountains in the distance results in a very interesting question. Why is it that Mount Eielson is higher then Mt McKinley? Isn't Mt McKinley the highest mountain on the North American Continent?
A great question deserves a great answer. In this picture: Robin is Mount Eielson, Jasmine is the north peak of Mt McKinley and Cheyenne is the south peak of Mt McKinley. This picture clarifies a lot. Robin is taller then Jasmine and Cheyenne because she is closer to the camera. The same principle applies to the mountains in the distance. Mount Eielson is much closer to us, thus looks taller then Mt McKinley.
Armed with flower guide and binoculars we're ready for the trail. Our heavy backpacks we leave in the lockers at the visitor center.
When a grizzly bear attacks: drop dead and protect your neck with your hands. If you're carrying a backpack, leave it on to protect your back.
Riding up to the Polychrome Pass.
Pit stop at a creek.
Old friends and new friends
Camping is a great way to make new friends. It is also great for old friends to come and visit, since we're staying here for a while.
Chelsea and Jacob are ready to roll. They are heading back south.
A day in the park with Jennie and Jason. Enjoying ice cream in the sun.
On the Savage River trail with Jennie and Jason.
Back at the bus stop.
Thanks for playing Abby!
More ice cream! Enjoying the evening with the Musick family.
On the prowl for animal tracks. With the help of Bill and Becky and their children we learn how to make a cast and lift the prints of a lynx, a caribou and a bird.
Reunited with Owen and Erin (aka www.AKontheGo.com).
Supper with David and Martha. Robin is not quite sure whether she wants to pet the duck or not.
Thanks for having us over!
At the Murie Science and Learning Center
A skeleton, computers, coloring supplies, puzzles; there is a lot to see and do at the learning center.
Cheyenne is all into dinosaurs.
Jasmine is Miss Arts&Crafts.
Robin is engrossed in coloring.
Jasmine on task.
Visiting the dog kennels
Three times a day there is a dog sled demonstration at the dog kennels. The shuttle bus takes us right to it. After visiting for several times, we're getting to know some of the dogs by name. On in particular has our interest: Keta. Keta is pregnant and will have pups any day now. New strenght for the kennel. The dogs are very important to the park. During the winter months the wilderness area of the park is patrolled by rangers on dog sleds.
The dogs are barking and jumping full of excitement that they get the chance to run during the performance. As soon as the brakes are off, all sounds cease. All energy goes to running.
Cheyenne is an eager volunteer to show the crowd what the ranger needs to wear to stay warm in the winter.
Keta has given birth to three male pups! We can't see them yet. Visitors who come next week will be able to see the pups.
Visiting Denali town
Several businesses in town have a free shuttle bus to take you from the campground (or anywhere near the visitor center) to town and back. We take advantage of this several times.
A few days early, but we're celebrating our one year on the road with a breakfast at the Salmon Bake in Denali town. Since we're celebrating we also celebrate another wedding anniversary. Bill will be back east on those dates.
Yummy pancake toppings!
Powdered sugar overload!
On the boardwalk...
Another ice cream day.
We're walking back from town. About 2 miles to the campground. The path takes us over the wild Nenana river. The trail to the Riley Creek campground leads us to blueberry bushes.
Joining in the ranger programs in the amphitheatre
Every evening at 7.30 pm you can attend a ranger program at the amphitheatre at Riley Creek Campground. We've attended four evenings. We've learned about the lynx, the grizzly bear and black bear, geology and raptors in the park. A great way to learn more about the residents of the park.
At the lynx program. The lynx is also known as the Shadow Cat. The girls each hold an article that is to explain one specific feature of the lynx.
At the bear program. Jasmine strokes the fur of a grizzly bear. It's as close as you ever want to get to a bear...
At the geology program. Robin is looking around to find out what a hankerchief has to do with geology.
It's a blind fold. One partner out of each group gets blindfolded. Then a rock is given to them. Using the sense of touch they get to familiarize themselves with the rock. Later with the sense of sight they have to find their rock back. Very interesting.
Wildlife in Denali National Park
We have seen an abundance of wildlife during our stay in Denali National Park. Wildlife in its natural environment is a beautiful sight.
Staying clear from wildlife is one of the first things you learn when you're in the park. It makes it hard to get good pictures if you're not equiped with a very big zoom lens. For ourselves we have enjoyed seeing the animals with our eyes, eventhough the picture opportunities were not always there. It's a beautiful experience to be here.
The proof of moose: moose nuggets.
Cheyenne is observing an arctic ground squirrel.
Fox in the tundra.
Caribou at Savage Rock.
A moose alongside the road.
Ptarmigan behind the tundra rose bushes.
Becoming Junior Park Rangers
The girls have worked hard with their discovery back packs and their ranger booklets. They are deserving of the Junior Ranger Badge.
Don't feed wild life!
Junior rangers in the making.
Another junior ranger in the making.
Robin and Amarins are going on a special assignment.
Robin has found a flower. Let's see if it's on the list.
Learning about skulls.
A park ranger checks the girls' work.
The girls are taking the Junior Ranger pledge.
Our stay in Denali National Park was a long one; compared to the usual one or two days visitors come to spend in the park. It has given us a beautiful opportunity to see the park, to feel the park, to enjoy as many of the programs available. Still we feel we could have spend another month there. There are so many mountains, rivers, valleys still to explore. We'll be back for more. That's for sure!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Today 24 miles, Total 6,367 miles
Time to load up for the last little bit. Only 120 miles to go to Fairbanks. Hard to believe. Bill arrives with Jennie and Jason after his weeklong visit in Tennessee. Amarins and the girls have already packed up and are ready to go. They've had a little scare too this morning. Our camp neighbor's dog acted up and the neighbor believed there was a bear in the vicinity. The girls bravely hid in the bathroom until the coast was clear again.
We're ready to head out on the last 120 miles to Fairbanks. Thanks Jennie and Jason!
Before we totally leave the area, we're having lunch with Jennie and Jason at the Salmon Bake in Denali town. Delicious.
The raft company who gave us a raft trip!
Through the canyon north of Denali National Park.
A leisure week in the park and we're out of shape.
The first town north of Denali National Park has a pretty sign.
We're almost in the double digits!
A break here and there, beautiful weather to enjoy. A good day for a ride.
A perfect day for a ride.
Into the Wild... Stampede road.
Robin shows her sticker art.
A drawing of Denali by Cheyenne.
Our camp for the night at Mile marker 260.
At mile marker 260 we find a nice wide spot in the road. Perfect for our camp site for the night. There is no town in the vicinity and we've traveled further than we thought we would.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Today 29 miles, Total 6,396 miles
Bill lets the girls explore the area while Amarins breaks up camp.
wild, rugged, beautiful.
Jasmine and Cheyenne enjoy the company of Owen on the fish wheel.
"This is the book I want," Cheyenne says.
Robin is on the loose.
Greetings from Colorado!
Instead of staying on the Parks Highway, we've decided to stay with a family in Anderson, six miles off the road. We aim to arrive in Fairbanks on Friday the 13th and we have time to spare and to enjoy some side scenery.
The day isn't over untill its over. We're going out for a four wheeler ride through the woods and bushes, looking for some High bush cranberries. Lots of fun and delicious too. Thanks Allen and Erika!
On a 4-wheeler ride in the evening light.
Bill picks high bush cranberries.
What a sunset. Breath taking.
Amarins holds on tight as Bill gets ready to cross the water.
Cool bus! Perhaps this will be the one to drive down to the lower 48.
Erika is aleady driving away in it.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Today 27 miles, Total 6,423 miles
Allen and Erika's son takes a turn to ride. Amarins rides a single bike (swerving all over the road, not being used to the steering anymore).
Next it's Allen's turn.
Road workers paved a beautiful new road. We were almost not allowed to ride oon it, since it wasn't totally finished yet. They offered to put our bicycle in the back of a pick up truck, but we firmly declined.
We're heading into Nenana. The left arm will take us across the Tanana River tomorrow.
These folks were almost going out for a spin.
We finish the day with Allen and his kids, eating pizza at Kristi's Cuisine.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Today 26 miles, Total 6,449 miles
Jasmine starts the day with beautiful flowers.
We're crossing the Tanana River.
Heavy clouds are looming.
Less than 50 to go...
Robin and Jasmine enjoy some very sour berries!
Cheyenne enjoyed her share.
Enjoying a break in a fairly freshly mowed field.
This is life. We're going to miss this.
As we ride along, a dragon fly lands on Jasmine jacket and travels with us for a while.
The last hills before Fairbanks.
Hopefully the last time the chain comes off.
Playtime in the gravel while Bill fixes the chain wrap.
A rainy arrival in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
Setting up camp at milemarker 331.
The sun is out again.
supper with Ms Lou. She found us camping here along the road on one of her evening drives. Offering supper, we didn't refuse. On her way back from town she brought back her son Joe, who was curious to see who his mother had found along the road.
Thanks Ms Lou and Joe!
Jasmine plays with her happy meal box in the tent.
Then it's time to sleep. Half off their sleeping mats of course.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Today 19 miles, Total 6,428 miles
Amarins packs up for another time. One of the last times.
Roadside play time.
Time for breakfast.
Group shot, about 30 miles from Fairbanks.
Hills surround us.
Bill surrenders under all this feminine pressure.
We're curving and winding our way through the hills.
We're getting ready to go downhill.
Arrival at the Ester Community Center. The girls are off the bike and on the playground before we know it.
Robin enjoys the toys.
We're setting up camp six miles from Fairbanks. We didn't want to go all the way today. We want to arrive somewhat fresh at the city sign.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Today 11 miles, Total 6,439 miles
The final day!
It is bitter sweet. We don't really want it to stop, but it has to end somewhere. And somewhere happens to be in Fairbanks for us.
The last Camp Pedouin (of this journey that is...).
Breakfast is served.
Robin helps one more time taking down the tent.
a fresh boiled egg from Calypso farm is a nice addition to our breakfast.
Ready or not, here we go.
Barbara gets to help push it up the hill.
Then it's Laurie's turn.
Then it is up to us once more to finish what we've started.
The tailend of the bike.
And the middle.
The final mile is not without a challenge. We have to cross the highway if we want to get to the city limit sign. And that's where we want to get.
We have done it! Crosscountry on a five person bicycle. One year and thirteen days! What an accomplishment.
We enjoy sitting at the sign for a little while, soaking it all in. Wow, we did it. All the way from Mount Vernon, Kentucky to Fairbanks, Alaska. What a challenge it was. Something we'll never forget that 's for sure.
The girls are behind the sign! They're in Fairbanks, Alaska!
Time to let the bottle go round. Robin gulps a bit too fast and gets the bubbles all over her.
A kiss to seal the finish line.