The solstice is fast approaching in Alaska and the days are virtually unending. We took advantage of the sun-filled days to bike across the Denali highway from Paxson to Cantwell, a 135-mile gravel-and-rock road that passed some of the most spectacular mountain vistas I have seen in Alaska. I drove the rig and the car with the bicycle rack, offering a rest and cooked meals along the route for all.
We drove five hours from Anchorage to get to the Denali Highway, determined to get some road time in before sunset. The four set off on the road at 8 p.m., pedaling uphill from forest to tundra until they caught up with me 12 miles ahead.
The intrepid cyclists, Mark, his two sisters, Janis and Margo, and his brother-in-law, Jerome.
The next day we continued west, against a backdrop of the Alaska Range and Amphitheater Mountains. The region was dotted with archeological sites from the hunting grounds of the first people who roamed there 12,000 years ago. Along with the craggy rough peaks, we found graceful trumpet swans swimming in beautiful lakes along the way.
There were a half-dozen or more places to stay overnight or get a meal along the 135-mile trip.This sod-and-horn-covered shelter was one of the places, next to the quaint Sluice Box bar.
We stopped at a couple of places to get water, including the Alpine Creek Lodge, where you can go out hunting and trapping in the wilderness year-round. Mark settled for a ping-pong tournament and handily defeated the father, the son and his best friend.
Bob, the 14-year-old son of the lodge owners, proudly showed off the muskrat and ermine pelts that he had trapped and put up for sale at the lodge.
Back on the road, the gravel got even more rocky and one of the tires blew a persistent hole. Roadside assistance amounted to whatever tools we had.
The isolation and sheer natural beauty all around us made this three-day journey extraordinary.
Unaware that we had busted a tire on our tow car we dragged it for miles down the highway.
As we look back, the busted tire appears as a small calamity on a breathtakingly beautiful road trip.
Listen as Johnny Cash & Lynn Anderson tear it up.
Where we are today.