Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 13, 2015. Mile 224 to Nenana, AK. 73 Miles.

This day started out sunny and bright, and stayed that way! We had beautiful blue skies and a light breeze as we headed north toward Fairbanks.

The main entrance to Denali National Park was on our route and we stopped there for a photo opportunity. Shortly after that we entered a construction zone. The flagger was Ray, and he told us his life's story while waiting for the pilot truck to come pick us up.

Finally the truck came, we loaded the bikes in the back, and the four of us (Steve, Dianne, Connie and I) piled in the front. We were glad to be shuttled through this area--it was certainly impassible by bike!
The young woman in the pilot truck told us her story too. I think they get lonely out here and are glad for the company when we take the time to talk with them. They take a lot of abuse from people who don't like waiting to pass through the construction area.
We descended far more than we climbed today, coming down out of the Alaska Mountain range. There was another area of missing pavement, no flagger this time because they were not actively working it. There are signs at the pavement breaks warning motorcyclists to use extreme caution--no mention of the rest of us on 2 wheels.
We had a break at an overlook for the Nenana River and I could see rafters far below in the fast-moving silty water. We passed by Nenana Canyon and had to wait at the only traffic lights between Wasilla and Fairbanks (and they are only operational in the summer).

We had another section of construction, and this time we loaded the bikes and got in the van. There are 2 seasons in Alaska, winter and construction.

We crossed the Jack Coghill bridge into the interior of Alaska. By then we were in the flats.

Steve warned us of a wildfire ahead of us, and we could smell it--it was very far off the road, and a helicopter was hauling water from a roadside pond and dumping it on the fire. The whole state is in a drought and there are fires all over--I saw a map in a local newspaper and there are hundreds of active fires in Alaska right now.
We had a headwind in the afternoon, and Dianne and Connie invited me to join their pace line, but I declined--I wanted to look in every forest break and pond for moose and bear. Finally it paid off! I heard a splash and there was a female moose right beside the road as I entered Nenana and neared the end of the ride. (Unfortunately she saw me too and trotted off into the woods before I could get my camera out). There was a flagger at the bridge over the Nenana river, but she allowed us to come out of the line and ride on the newly paved protected side of the cones.

We loaded the bikes and got in the van for the ride into Fairbanks. We stayed at a real hotel there, and drove out to dinner at the Pump House, a refurbished building that used to house the pumps that supplied water to the goldmines just outside town.

No comments: