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June 25, 2020: Are We Having Fun Yet?

I cannot, by any stretch of the imagination (and my imagination is like silly putty), say that today was fun. Challenging, yes, fun no. It is like my high expectations went sideways. This morning, while at the Carlo Creek Campground, I talked with the motorcyclist who spent the night in the adjacent camping area. He came over and talked to me. I just have been feeling anti-social.

He told me that he had started out the previous day from Anchorage and found the road construction areas to be challenging. I asked him if it was fun, and he said no. As I talked with him, I realized that motorcyclists, like those driving vehicles, can cover a considerable amount of distance in the day. And so, they generally get the primo tent sites. This hardly seems fair.

Byers Lake Lodge


So in comparison, I cover far less ground. It was 13 miles to Cantwell, there at the convenience store, a woman not wearing a mask, said that it was 30 or so miles to the Byers Lake Campground. It was then 12 p.m. She suggested that I go up to the Denali Highway Road, turn right, then check out the Cantwell RV Park, which all total was 5 miles distant.

I kept going because I felt okay and because I didn’t want to add an additional 8 miles to my route. Once again, there were strong headwinds. However, because my socks were dry, I felt energized. It was slightly overcast, but mostly sunny.

I was worried because in the a.m. I’d been feeling queasy. I hoped my problem was that I wasn’t drinking enough water, and so I began drinking more. My lunch time destination was the now defunct Igloo Motel. I’d wondered if I’d passed it when, after an hour or so, there was no sign of it.

I saw a man standing in a pull off with a photo tripod – such individuals are always friendly, which was why I asked him how far the Igloo might be. He said five miles. This man was an optimist for sure. Smiling, he said I was fortunate to have good weather when I remarked that I had been dealing with strong winds and a gradual uphill grade. Bearded, with soft eyes, he reminded me of my friend Sarah’s husband, Neil.

The Igloo, as always, deserted, was a welcome sight. For me, it’s a power site. If I could purchase it and have it fixed up (in the past, I’d have said fix it up) I would. Its . . . iconic. I would dispense water, trip information, and sell peanut butter sandwiches.

I happily sat on a bench outside the defunct filling station and ate my lunch. Benches are right up there with picnic tables. After, I walked around and took photos of the graffiti.

There was no place to camp or I would have stayed put.

In the afternoon, I rode, and rode and rode, the road ahead slightly winding and seemingly never ending. My ride day was broken up when I arrived at the first of three construction sites. The flag girl, from the get-go was very paranoid. She was wearing three masks, and so far distant from me that she had to shout. She told me that because of Covid rules, that I’d have to put my bicycle in the back of the pilot car and ride with it. I said, no problem, and while I waited for the vehicle, I dismantled it.

I asked, and was told, that I could have a bottle of water, which was in the back of her truck. I poured it into my water bottle and tossed the empty back into her truck. She yelled at me that I needed to dispose of it – Covid rules. Her two huskies, under her vehicle, looked longingly at me as I drank up.

The truck ride, about three miles, was far too short. I bumped along happily, glad to have been given a ride.

I reassembled my bicycle as the long line of cars and trucks, going the other way, filed past. I had asked the pilot car driver if she knew of any campsites up ahead, she said there was one a mile up the road, but to be careful of the grizzly bears.

The search for a site was now on. I stopped at Denali View North, it was set up for RVs, paved, no water. I stopped at Denali View South, same thing. A kindly fellow, quite young, and I got to talking – he said there was a turnoff a few miles up road. I thanked him and headed on. A mile out he pulled ahead of me in his pickup and then stopped a hundred yards ahead. I then followed his vehicle to an off-trail site. It was ideal, except for the fact that the mosquitos were really thick. I set up my tent and dove in, dismayed about the bugs but grateful to have found a place to spend the night.

Next: 176. 6/26/20: Do It, Just Do It, Just Do it, Damnit

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