Today we are riding to Denali, where I suspect that the countryside will just explode, and kind of look like what you expect Alaska to look like? Kev encountered his first flat tire on the highway today. It is fairly amazing that this is our first flat in 30,000 miles! Kev quickly snapped out across the radio…"Gotta flat". I immediately pulled over to the side of the one laned highway and waited for the traffic to pass and headed towards him. We had passed a small driveway just a few yards back and decided that it would be better to handle this situation with a little more room. Kev awkwardly managed to maneuver his loaded, and now very unstable ride, slowly over to the driveway. It looked as though his rear tire had completely melted away, and this once stable rigid ride, was now riding like a wet noodle! We unhooked the panniers, pulled the bike up onto the center stand and checked out the situation. I was really impressed as Kev reset the bead, found the puncture, repaired the tire, and, had us back on the road in 30 minutes or so. Not bad, stud!
"Now this is Alaska", I thought as we rode into the Denali area. We plan on spending 3 days here to rest, explore, and soak it all in. We visited with 4 time Iditarod Champion, musher Jeff King at his Husky Homestead. We cuddled Alaskan Husky puppies, learnt about the musher lifestyle, and enjoyed listening to the amazing stories on the Iditarod Trail.
We spent the next day exploring Denali National Park. An old school bus outfitted with somewhat comfy seats shuttles you from the information center to various areas of the park, where you may get off at any time to hike, explore or pick wild blueberries if you like. We shuttled for 8 hours and were very privileged to experience many animals in their natural environment. Our first sighting was a huge bull Caribou, tongue out, panting as he hoofed it down the gravel road. We watched a female grizzly intently grazing on the close mountain side while her 2 cubs rolled, wrestled and tumbled around. They were having way too much fun to be interested in important things like eating. We saw a couple of Golden Eagles glided the thermals in the higher elevations. A couple more brown bears were woofing down berries and foliage. They were stuffing as much away, as possible, in preparation for winter. Many caribou were traveling along the rocky river ways and grazing the tundra. And we also saw several moose, one who decided to cross the road right in front of us. It was a lucky day! The weather gods were kind and granted us perfect viewing weather. We were able to view magnificent Mt. McKinley, in its entirety, continually throughout the day. This was the icing on the cake so to speak. Mt. McKinley is usually not visible and only about 30% of the visitors that visit Denali National Park actually get to see it. It was a very cool day!
We also ran into fellow biking adventurers that we had befriended on the ferry ride from Price Rupert to Haines. It was absolutely fabulous to catch up the Dave, Mike and Mira, visit, share our experiences to date and laugh a lot! We also ran into "the texas 4", as I call them…once again! They seem to think that we are following them since arriving in Haines….hmmmm, could be? Tomorrow we are moving to the hostel cross the creek, away from "texas 4"…ha ha ha. We plan on having a down day to catch up on laundry, downloads and stuff.