After I had asked the noisy neighbour to shut off their generator (which was outside their big RV!), we had a peaceful night, without any bears. Even the wind had stopped and in the morning we had a great view over the Meziadin Lake.
The way to Stewart is only about 65 km and with the sun in our face, it was a pleasant ride. The scenery is very impressive, with huge glaciers hanging on to steep walls. The road itself climbed steep for a while, but leveled out in front of the famous Bear Glacier.
Not only well-known for being one of the most accessible glaciers (the road passes right in front of the lake), but also as a backdrop in the movie Insomnia (with Al Pacino & Robin Williams). Though even in the short period since, it has retreated visibly and for the first time the glacier is no longer touching the lake directly.
The strong headwind was pretty cold and soon we continued our way: downhill! Through beautiful scenery, we freewheeled all the way back to sealevel, the first time since we started at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, a few months before.. Read more
‘Now you be careful and watch out for that bear! He’s is not afraid of no humans, look at these pictures!”
Mr Cook had a new knee, his wife just recovered from lung cancer.
‘We do not know if we make it through another winter, but we love the place’.
In winter they move South, to the lower 48.
Mr Cook gave us a big chunk of moose minced meat. ‘We are not going to finish it.’
David had been a pilot, flying small planes around Fairbanks. David and Karen had saved for a long time to go on their road trip.They had a normal sized campervan/RV, meaning all you need in a very compact model, half teh size of the usual 30ft buses we see on the road..
They shared their campspot with us and even made us pancakes the next morning…
It was time to leave our friend named Alaska and meet another partner for the next few months, named Canada. We had so many good times and many bad times. It is funny how even a fictional line on a map can define a relationship. We felt like we had to say goodbye to family…
We had stayed another day in Tok, it was just too perfect to camp for free, behind a 24/7 gasstation and next to the supermarket. We had to take care of our belongings as there was a group of drunk locals nearby. We have noticed this often lately: small groups of native Americans, who walk or sit around with paperbags or just with a bottle of scotch. It is a sad sight and a result of many bad political decisions in a long row.
We met a few other travelers who stayed the second night on the same camp; a young cyclist from Quebec, who was on his way home and a couple from Argentina (www.amunches.com) who were at the end of their 6 year journey. It was nice for Ivana to speak some Spanish and to drink some mate, but also interesting to see that they were clearly tired. Tired of travelling, tired of telling their story. The next morning they left early, but they had left Ivana some rainpants, though they were not really suitable for cycling as we would find out soon..
We left with dry weather, but quickly the hills and the rain started. Ivana’s pants ripped and one leg came off. We stayed at a very wet campground near a lake that probably was very pretty if you could see it. Only a few days later (fortunately) we read the report of fellow cyclists Tim & Cindie, who had seen a bear while camping here. We had been less ‘bearanoid’ as we had simply not seen any bears in Alaska outside Denali park, which in some ways is more like the Serengeti than the ‘real world’…
The next day we were completely soaked again and Ivana was ready to quit and fly home to sunny Argentina… Just in time we passed a visitor centre for the Tetlin National Wildlife refuge. Two ladies, who lived all their life in the native village of Northway and worked as volunteers, came to the rescue. They gave us tea, let us dry our clothes and even prepared a few delicious sandwiches with salmon. Just before we left, they even gave some chocolate. It is people like these that we will take with us in our heart when leaving Alaska.. Read more
Ivana poses with the two lovely ladies at the Teslin National Wildlife refuge info center. They talked Athabascan between them, while working on some nice handicrafts. Visit the center if you can and say hi from us
Carl gave information in the free admissible Pioneer Park in Fairbanks.
‘A picture of me? Ehm, sure, but why? I am just a normal guy?’
That’s exactly why, Carl.
Just before reaching Fairbanks, we saw a guys sitting in a foldable chair, next to the road. Behind him was a driveway, half overgrown with trees, and for the other half covered with trash.
I saw Jesse coming out of the bush when we were cycling on the Elliot Highway. He waved and I noticed his dog jumping in the back of his car.
An hour later we stopped for lunch and he passed and stopped to chat. Jesse had been picking blueberries and offered us many handfuls of the delicious fruit. He had been scouting for a place to spend the winter. He will pass the dark days in a shelter or tent, together with his dogteam, of which Minto is one of his best buddies.
Jesse did not have much, but shared his berries and also his place in Fairbanks with the other biketravellers.
Joe Carlson is a wonderful person. Joe and Nancy have adopted about 15 children, which supplemented their 8 ‘homemade’ (their own description) ones. They raised all 23 kids in their homestead, which they built from scratch. He is an entertaining person, which comes in very handy when the tourbuses come in. The sale of souvenirs is his main income, so when the large buses stop in front and a few dozen of mostly grey-haired pensioners on an Alaska tour come in, he switches on his salespitch. he greets all people in their home language, talks about the store, about Alaska, gives away free coffee and sell the souvenirs. 10 minutes later everybody is gone and he switches back to his relaxed mode.
They are a great family and their story is extraordinarily. When you are in the area of Fairbanks, do go up to mile 49,5 and visit Joe and listen to their history. Get a free coffee and a cheap delicious muffin and see what you can build up if you have determination and a free spirit.