Finally I am on the plane. The first of 4 that will eventually get me to Prudhoe Bay after a very long day of flying. But I'm glad to have all my heavy and awkwardly packed gear out of my hands. I just hope it can withstand the many changing hands it will endure today. It was sad leaving my mom at the airport. Though I think being up at 5am kind of changes emotions like sadness to stress. The more I get used to leaving loved ones, the more I wonder if there is a best way to say goodbye. Iíll miss my family, but I am confident this is the best direction for me at this time. I am excited and eagerly anticipating the experiences that await me. I know there will be ups and downs. A rollercoaster of emotions that I cannot yet predict. I am looking through my oval window, saying goodbye to Miami as we pull out of the terminal. I didnít get a wink of sleep last night, tonight, this morning, whatever. I hope to get a few hours as I bounce across the country. Arms spread eagle, ready to take on what lies ahead! (Gear weight = 164 total lbs including boxes, bike, trailer, and packing material)
Still only 4:30pm as we approach Anchorage International Airport, cruising over the Chugiak Mountain Range. The sun is shining bright and it reminds me how I probably wonít be experiencing the moon or much darkness for a while.
On to Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse:
While in the Anchorage airport, I remembered a couple things I have forgotten. I knew it would happen. I left behind my AK fishing license (not that big a deal) and more importantly, my long cycling pants. I can only hope that my nylon pants keep me warm enough if I need something while cycling. I got a message home to send these items to general mail in Coldfoot, but who knows if that will happen.
So less than one hour to touchdown and I am wondering if the few hours of sleep Iíve managed to get on each of the past 3 planes will keep me from suffering any ill effects tomorrow. By the time I get to Deadhorse, it will be around 9pm but past midnight to me. I got zero sleep last night trying to sort things out for this journey. Iíve been flipping through Zinnís Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance which had been useful. Iíll be sending it home before I take off tomorrow. Iíve actually started to create a small mental list of extras I might be unloading soon. Iím sure the list will grow in the next few days. I might even look into the possibility of sending a few things to myself down the road, such as my weighty food. Weíll see.
I started to feel butterflies as we approached the Deadhorse airport. Iím looking out the window at nothing but vast tundra covered by lakes and veins of water. The pilot says itís a brisk 42 Degrees (F). Wow, a little cooler than I expected. I could see the pipeline stretched across the land. I also was amazed of how spread out everything is. Lots of unfamiliar buildings and structures. I can only guess are related to the oil industry. The wind put a little chill on my feet as we walked off the airplane. I still had my flip flops on! Well, I am finally here, whether I like it or not, I am way up in the middle of nowhere, ALASKA. Amazingly, my gear made all for connections and was delivered to me at baggage claim after a very short wait. Now I decide what to do. Its 9:30pm and I have unpacking to do. I pulled everything out after deciding I might as well do this sooner than later. I got a few questions from some guys in the airport going south on the plane I just came in on. I also found out that about 3 weeks ago, a couple other cyclists came in to begin a similar journey.
So it took me a couple hours to get things sorted out. Man, I brought a lot of stuff! I greased up every single screw before putting back together my bike. I am happy that everything seems to be working on my Blu Stallion before take off. I set up my tent and start to repack my gear. Clothes in the panniers, the rest of the gear in the Yak dry bag. I discovered a tuna fish leak which made me pretty upset. That smell is the last thing I need floating around me out here. I imagined getting woken up by bears during the night. Speaking of night, there really is none here. As midnight approached, it became cooler and overcast, but it was still light out. I wonder how Iíll sleep.