June 8, 2012
Anchorage, AK Ė Denali National Park, AK: 224 miles
Gary made another fantastic breakfast. Sourdough pancakes and spicy sausage with Birch syrup and homemade blueberry and currant jam. It was an epic delicious feast.
I took my time packing up. I didnít really want to leave. But I knew if I was going to see everything I wanted to with the little time I had, I needed to head to Denali.
I wanted to camp in the park but the same problem struck me as before. I didnít want to leave my bike with all my gear on it sitting in a parking lot while I was off in the wilderness.
Not only was I worried of a person ripping off my gear, but also the bears. I had heard the bears around Denali were notorious for breaking into cars. I can only imagine the damage one would do to my little Radian.
When I was at the motorcycle campground in Tok, I had noticed a poster on the door of the privy while concentrating on my morning post-coffee business. It was a list of all the hostels in Alaska. Haines and Denali both had one.
I wrote down the contact information in my journal and called the Denali Mountain Morning Hostel from Gary and Debís. Thankfully they were not booked, so I went ahead and made a reservation for the night.
It was only going to be a little over 200 miles to get there. I decided to spend a little more time visiting with Gary and Deb and take my time leaving Anchorage.
We drove over to the BMW dealership just to look at all the pretty bikes. I was talking about how much I wanted a G650GS or F650GS for this trip but couldnít afford one or even find a used one in my area. I hadnít even sat on either of them, but from what everyone told me (other than Bee) it was the bike I should of ridden to Alaska on.
They had a G650 in stock but not the F650. I sat on it and loved it of course. It felt perfect in every way for the trip I was doing; upright positioning, light bike, good suspension with high clearance, large gas tank, dual sport tires and practically designed for carrying luggage efficiently.
I compared it to the Radian. Yes, it was a vintage cruiser style street bike not meant for this adventure. The peanut tank only got me 80 miles at a time. The side cases got pinched in the shocks on bumpy roads that were developing holes I was beginning to duct tape on a daily basis. My backpack strapped on top made it difficult to access the side cases and open the tail case. This just made me pack differently and I got used to it. My tires werenít made for unpaved roads but they did just fine when I slowed down.
Regardless of the lesser perks and luxuries the Radian had, I still loved it more. I loved it for its individuality, for its fortitude, and its constancy on indefinite terrain. All the imperative things necessary for such a trip existed despite what it was made for almost thirty years ago. And, I got it for $1000.
We went back home and Deb decided to ride with me part of the way to Denali. She got ready while I finished packing the bike I said goodbye to Gary. He gave me some leftover sourdough pancakes rolled with peanut butter inside for a tasty snack later. I was going to miss his cooking.
Deb and I left Anchorage on the Parks Highway. I felt I was missing a lot of Anchorage by leaving too soon. I wanted to see more. I just didnít have enough time. I really would love to move there someday to have the opportunity to explore more.
We rode as far as Wasilla where Deb decided to head back. We refueled and shared some coffee before saying goodbye. It was very sad leaving. I felt a lonesomeness come over me as I headed towards Denali alone on the road again.
The rest of the ride it rained and the mountains were socked in. It only took me a few hours for me to get to the hostel but it was long enough for me to be depressed, sick of the rain and wanting to just rest somewhere warm and dry again. I just wanted to see blue sky and mountains for once in Alaska.
The hostel was cute and quaint with friendly people that cheered me up some. I stayed in a little bunkhouse next to a river with soothing sounds to sleep next to. There was a beautiful wooden cook cabin where I made dinner and could use the internet from my Droid. The shower house had warm water and there was a free shuttle to Denali National Park I could take the next morning.
There was a bar across the street that I went to with a few people from the hostel. It was a small pizza joint playing live bluegrass music. I suddenly felt I was back in Virginia near the Appalachians that echoed with old time folk and banjo that I missed so much.
I walked back to the hostel around 1:00am under the midnight sun. I still couldnít get used to the evening light in Alaska. I slept feeling less lonesome and looking forward to Denali tomorrow. Pray for sunshine. Please let the sun shine.