What a great day for our finish; Blue skies with a few scattered clouds, cool morning with favorable winds. Both of us can sense the unspoken drama of the day as we prepare for both the 12 mile bike ride and the RV drive into Dawson Creek. Soon I am on my way, wind at my back fairly floating into the town of Dawson Creek. I was so hyped; I think it must have been downhill all the way. The road bike was the choice of the day, about 45 minutes later I was there, done, finished, nowhere to go, it’s over. Betty was waiting with the RV by the “Mile Zero” sign. Seventy-nine days ago, Betty, Brendan and I were photographed at this same spot. It is hard to believe it is over, we took lots of photos; maybe to record that it has really happened, so when we wake up we will have proof. No more hills to pump over, no more headwinds to fight, no more miles to countdown before day’s end. For Betty; no more narrow bridges to cross with closed eyes, no more winding mountain roads with steep drop-offs on one side and falling rocks on the other, no more waiting for hours before I finally drag in for the day, no more hooking up the car to tow, no more hooking up utilities at campgrounds. We were both floating with elation; glad that we did it, glad that it was done and happy to move on. It was still only mid-morning, we walked across the street to a coffee shop for a maple long-john and a cup of unneeded coffee; we almost never do this, maybe it was just to unwind. Later, we went to the Alaska Highway House a local museum that has excellent displays and chronicles the building of the Alcan during 1942 in great detail. It makes me very proud of the U.S. Army Engineers for the monumental task they completed in just nine months; unbelievable.
Finally, we load the bikes in the back of the CRV and drive to Wal-Mart for resupply and to park for the evening. I purchase and install a new battery for the Honda, the old one had been sluggish for several weeks. We had dinner at the White Spot restaurant. In their parking lot we saw a small van with a sign we had seen earlier parked at Mile Zero, “Just Married, August 9th, 50 Years Ago”. As we walked into the restaurant, Betty immediately spotted them; we struck up a conversation with Nancy & Stan Schriner from St. Clair, Michigan. They are a very interesting couple on their way to Alaska as part of their Anniversary celebration. They have reconfigured their van into a camper and love to travel. As we leave the restaurant we notice several things: it is much cooler, the wind has increased and it is now dark so we can readily see that I have left the lights on. The new battery has passed its first test.
It is late and we are retiring for the evening as I read over these notes:
I already miss it! We will be leaving one of planet earth’s special places; the vastness of the wild forests that still have not been touched by construction equipment, not been sapped by the petroleum industry’s long tentacles. We will miss the opportunity to see wildlife still in its wild home. We will miss climbing to a high crest and seeing panoramic views, mountains, valleys and wild rivers. I will miss the exhilaration of the downhill run, hearing the rush of cool air streaming by my ears, the challenge of climbing to the next mountain pass. I’ll also miss being able eat all I want (especially ice cream) and still lose weight, the feeling of being fit, seemingly, without trying. And, the ravens, I will miss the two ravens that I see every day, (surely it is the same two each day?). They take short flights just as I get close, then do it again and again. Sometimes, they fly by really close, sometimes they talk to me in their deep raspy voice. Nevermore!
In a day or two we will recap the Bike Trip with dates, cumulative mileages, etc.