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July 2, 2020: Full Day

Last night I pitched my tent at the edge of an Alaska State Park Camping area, adjacent to the Gold Mint Trailhead. I chose an out of the way area, at the furthest corner of the campground, off the asphalt, in a dandelion patch. It was one of the softest tent beds ever.

I got to bed late because I was assisting Sarah in searching for the cellphone that she lost a few hours before. Then we hung out at the campground in her car for a bit and chatted. We would have sat at the picnic table, but the mosquitoes were out in force.

I got up at 7:15 a.m. and noticed a car in the space next to my site. It had a pull down window over the front window. I discovered that it was occupied by two young woman as I was making breakfast. I smiled at both, but they looked away when they saw me looking at them. What gives? I wondered, I no longer had a black eye and I was only moderately disheveled. It must be, I decided, that I appear to be older than they are, and being older and bicycle camping makes me suspect. Yes, bicycle touring is an older person’s game, but there are more older people touring now than there are younger ones.

They headed off in the direction of an adjacent campsite as I was eating. There were numerous tents and several good looking guys milling about. I noticed that the trail entrance had a sign that read Trail Crew, so perhaps all mentioned thus far were going to do trail work.

Across from the tents were three, then shortly thereafter, four First Student school busses. There were a handful of individuals, some wearing vests, talking and keeping an equal distance apart. None of them were wearing masks. One was working on the wheel bearings of one of the buses.

I later discovered that those hanging out were school bus trainees. This is because I saw a sign in the back of one of the buses when I was on my way downhill – it read Bus Driver Trainee. Must be a perk, I thought, to start the trainee day up at Hatcher Pass, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Ahh, but going down, one driver slowed to a crawl behind me and would not pass. I had to stop and wave the driver on. Needs to spend time driving on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway, I thought.

It was an incredible ride down the Hatcher Pass Road, memorable in that there were drops and then gentle rises. So I did not, as I thought I might, gather speed and then keep going. The only downside (no pun intended) was that portions of the road were patched, and there were also potholes. Had the road been maintained, it would have been a perfect ride.

No, I thought, there are not many days in life like this one.

I continued on. I was now technically in my own backyard. On the other side of the range to my left was our place.

Stopped at Turner’s Store, a local landmark. Disappointed to see that there was no picnic table. Perhaps they wanted interlopers such as me to move on.

It was a simple route – Palmer-Fishhook Road to Farm Loop Road, Farm Loop Road to the Glenn Highway, the Glenn Highway to Buffalo Mine Road, Buffalo Mine Road to Murphy Road, Murphy Road to Oceanview Road.

I took note – in being away a week, the cow parsnip had grown taller and the roadside vegetation was more lush. The wild geraniums were in full bloom as were the wild roses. The Spring Creek Farm hay had been baled, in round bales with blue green plastic wrap. All I could think was that this was a waste of plastic.

Traffic was heavy going from Palmer-Fishhook Road to Farm Loop Road, and on the Glenn Highway to Buffalo Mine Road. Hardly any traffic on Buffalo Mine or Farm Loop Roads.

I arrived home two hours after leaving the Alaska State Parks campground. I surprised myself, I figured it would take four hours.

I told Pete about the hay situation at Spring Creek Farm. He immediately called John DePriest, who sells us our hay. This evening we went and picked up 80 bales off the field. Then we brought it home and put it in the barn. Most definitely, a very full day here at Squalor Holler.

Next: 184. 7/3/20: I want to Take a Nap

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