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June 22, 2020: Ride Day # 2 – Outskirts of Ester to Nenana

I envisioned this bicycle ride being like rides past. While riding, I’d focus on random thoughts, expanding on some which might materialize on the page, in the form of short dispatches or full-blown essays.

Again woke up to the sound of rain, this time on the shell of the old camper where I’d spent the night. I was soon inside Fran and Sarah’s cabin. There I ate breakfast and together we talked about various things, including the previous evening’s you tube videos. I had them take a look at Paul McCartney’s Car Karaoke video – one of the songs was when I’m 64. When I was a kid, I thought it was funny. When I was an adult, I thought it was an excellent example of dark humor. Having watched it last night, at age 64, I thought it was sadly apt, for here I am now, at that very age.

I kept hoping that the Bundtzens would encourage me to stay put, but no, they gave me a gentle push out the door at 10:30 a.m. Skip, Fran’s brother, offered to put my bicycle on the rear of his truck trailer, and take me up the hilly, now muddy road, back to the Old Nenana Highway. A younger me would have said no, I’m riding the entire way. Now an older me said yes, I’ll take the ride. This was because the road was seven miles distant, and I did want to get as far as Nenana by nightfall. Additionally, I now saw no sense in having to deal with what would be a muddy slog.

Skip and Fran dropped me off. I was worried – if say, my repacked load was unbalanced I’d have to get a car ride home. I got on my bicycle and headed downhill. There was some wobble, but not as much as before. As I always do in such instances, I broke into song. Yeah, I sang Beatles tunes as for the rest of the day, I dealt with rain, a headwind, heavy truck traffic, and the infamous Nenana Hills.

I ate lunch at the midway point, Skinny Dick’s Halfway Inn. I went inside, got water, used the rest room, and got out quickly. The bar patrons, dry and warm, sat close to one another. I asked, and was told (take your choice), that Nenana was 46, 26, and 20 miles distant. None of the customers were wearing masks. Quite obviously, there were no worries about the virus being communicable.

I ventured outside. The inn had a fenced in yard and a picnic table with an umbrella. I ate my lunch and prepared for my next uphill ride. I so badly wanted, at 2:11 p.m., to call it a day and pitch my tent, but I didn’t feel safe at Skinny Dick’s.

It was a long, grueling afternoon. The hills seemed endless. I’d get up one, start down and then see another. The traffic did not slow down – several times, I was drenched in a spray of water from the tires of the larger vehicles. It occurred to me then that if I got a flat tire, I’d call it quits for this would push me over the edge.

Stopped at a rest area, and in the rain I ate second lunch.

The Nenana Bridge came into sight at around 6 p.m. I was concerned that it might be a bit narrow, but as it turned out, there was enough room to allow three semis to pass. Still, on the far side of the bridge, I breathed a sigh of relief, for I’d arrived safely at my first day’s destination. And though I was cold, shivering, and slightly hypothermic, I was none the worse for wear.

A sign indicated that a camping/RV Park was a few blocks distant. I made a beeline for it. The place was like an oasis for it had everything I needed, a grassy patch where I might pitch my tent, a picnic table and shelter, and – a shower room with free showers. Once again, all was right with the world.

Next: 174. 6/23/20: Day Three, Heading to Healy

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