Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 235/236/237/238 - Anchorage - Kenai Peninsular - Anchorage

Distance travelled (by bike):  34,670

In the pouring rain i left Anchorage, heading out to Whittier, not nice riding, to get to Whittier you have to go though the Anton Anderson Memorial tunnel, this is only one vehicle or train wide, both the rail and vehicles share the same tunnel alternating in times. You can only go though once an hour, i was waiting for a while. luckily i was under cover, as a bike you have to go last and are purposely delayed allowing you to go faster or slower than the designed speed limit, i was told to travel at whatever speed i felt most comfortable. 
Arriving in Whittier, i boarded a tourist boat to se the glaciers, the reason i had come to whittier. Being a deep water channel its also the home to a lot of major cruise liners. Leaving the bay i got seated next to another englishman, Simon, who worked for BP and was based in Anchorage for a few weeks. The weather was horrific, the cruise amazing, stopping to see loads of the glaciers around Prince William Sound. Fact: Alaska is home to about 50% of the worlds glaciers. The Glaciers appear blue in parts, this is down to the way it absorbs the light, unlike normal ice. 
When the tourist cruise was over i headed out of whittier. I ended up staying at a hostel where all the other residents were participating in the ;fungus festival', basically people who get hugely excited about picking and eating and cooking every mushroom they can find, as you might imagine, it was a strange night.

Heading down the kenai coast to Homer was stunning, passing through small fishing towns and a lot of forest. Homer is apparently the Halibut capital of the world, after my drive i had to indulge in halibut and chips! Homer is characterised locally as, A quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem.
From Homer i drove back north to Kenai trying to find somewhere to stop for the night. Driving a little further i got to Stirling, I stopped in a store to buy some beers, when doing so i got speaking to a guy called Ray. When he asked me where i was staying i said i didn't know yet, he told me to come stay with him, he had a bunk house i could use.
Turns out Ray is an old Cowboy, the pictures on the wall are testament to his bronco and bull riding days. It also turned out that the bunk house was more of a cabin, took 4 years to build and he had built it all himself. Ray was also a hunter, with loads os bear, lynx, cougar and other furs i couldn't identify hanging on the walls, The house was littered with various guns, from a magnum  and a .44 through to a goose gun, all guns were kept loaded!
Ray decided to call his friend Bob, Bob was a fellow biker, a few hours and beers later Bob had invited me to go flying with him tomorrow - amazing.
After a typical cowboy dinner of refried beans and a few more beers i headed to the bunk house (cabin) for some shut eye. 
I know that Ray is computer illiterate, but a huge thanks to him for opening his house and giving me, especially when he'd only met me for 5 minutes, a place to stay, food to eat and beer to drink.

Early mooring coffee with Ray, then a short drive to Bobs. As i parked outside i mentioned that i needed to replace my chain and sprockets soon. Amazingly Bob happened to have a set that fitted my bike! The weather was amazing, Bob decided that it would be the best thing if we got up in the air as soon as possible. Leaving the bike behind we drove to the airport. After the preflight checks, short taxi to the gravel runway (the plane has bush tyres fitted allowing it to land pretty much anywhere, but are better on gravel than tarmac) they up and away. Amazing, flying over Alaska with a personal guide getting to see huge herds of Caribou, more bears that i have seen in my life, about 17! and lots of sheep and goats.
I got to fly low over the glaciers, through valleys and into the wilderness of the Alaskan interior. Great morning!
After lunch we got started on the bike. Bobs garage is better kitted out than most professional places. with the bike up on the lift the rear wheel dropped off easily, with a bit of ingenuity and time, the new chain and sprockets were fitted. This bought to my attention the fork seals, i knew they were leaking a bit, but in the last day they have exploded, fluid streaming dow the forks and into the brakes, not good, but not life threatening, i could still ride.
Reluctantly i left Bobs, i was offered a bed for the night, but the forecast looked and for the following day so i decide to head for Sewart while the going was good. 
An hour and a bit later i was parked on the sea front in Sewart, the rain just beginning to fall.
A enormous thanks to Bob for everything, the plane experience was truly amazing, that includes the crazy 90 degree,180 turns. The time and help you gave getting the bike back in one part and for selling me the parts i needed. Again massive thanks.

I was going to stop and look around Sewart, but the weather was foul. From Sewart is was a few hours ride back to Anchorage and straight to the only garage that stocked the fork seals. They said they could fit new ones that afternoon. Then it was just a matter of waiting, the garage is near nothing, so i used the time to dry my stuff and curled in the corner and got some sleep. 

ray's 'bunkhouse'

bob and his plane - notice the massive 'bush'tyres - $3000 each!


just in case we got into trouble

flying over the glaciers

quick repair

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