Day 47 Seattle to Anchorage, 2k air miles. Anchorage to Cartwell, 239 miles
"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else."
(PP!)Alaska Airlines hooked me up. I booked flights through (PP!)Priceline.com, and got it all set. Seattle to Juneau, layover a few hours, Juneau to Anchorage, landing twelve minutes early. Flying is so wonderfully convenient- except for the degrading treatment by the TSA. No matter,we landed and I was jonesing to get on the bike!
(PP!)Alaska Motorcycle Adventures did their job too, picking me up, taking care of the paperwork (did you know riding a motorcycle can include hazards? That's what the contract said) and making sure I knew how to operate and take care of the scooter. Then off to adventure!
First get out of this big city and into the country. Even while in the city, mountains surround me, a huge gathering of giants towering above the valley.
The bike is completely ying to the (PP!) Gold Wing's yang. Light and nimble, yet lacking in creature comforts. The engine, a long stroke single cylinder 650, pulls from 2,000 rpm to... more. First gear is really high and takes clutch and throttle control. The speedo seems ridiculously optomistic.
Riding into the wild, the landscape changes from mostly deciduous trees to narrow, columnar spruces. The mountains around bear old snow drooling down the slopes like melting ice cream on a sugar cone.
A sign tempted me right to Takeetna, 14 miles off the path and worth it. Takeetna is a frontier town and doesn't have to pretend. Buildings made of plywood and logs assemble along the street, luring tourists with antiques, tours, drinks and eats. The dust in the street is real.
On impulse I stopped at the Denali Brewing Company because it was busy ( a good sign), people were eating on the patio, and they had prime rib for seventeen bucks. Oops, my bad. Prime rib sandwich. Ouch, those Alaska prices. But dinner on the patio in the sunshine watching the people touring and shopping, very nice indeed.
I met Ken and Cecil, two gregarious Canadians, touring with their wives via cruise ship, bus and train. They hail from Newfoundland, way back east. After hearing my story, they told me of a friend killed in a motorcycle accident. Thanks!
Back on the steed, and it's eight o'clock with a hundred thirty eight miles to go. Hmm. Well, it doesn't get dark until eleven, so why not?
Sure enough, I wind up in Cartwell, just outside Denali National Park, at 10 p.m., full sun. Amazing. I found the Backwoods Lodge, a beautiful log cabin type motel tucked in the woods.
Then, Mr. Cheap hears those words, " A hundred thirty four dollars." Wow! It's Alaska. In their defense, it sleeps five, has fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and satellite tv.
It is now 11:30 p.m., and the sun is setting.