Thursday, June 15, 2006

North to Alaska

I know that readers of this blog(both of you) are anxious for an update, so here is a brief account of recent events. After much late-night revelry to mark Garder-Broder nuptials, I left Vermont and made the drive to Providence to catch a flight to Chicago, then Seattle. My mother and Rich happened to be at O'Hare Sunday afternoon, a wonderful coincidence. So, after some great family time and a nap on the plane, I was back in the greasemobile heading north to Bellingham. Waited for me there was no less than 60 gallons of delicious tempura juice from Osaka and Wasabee, two local Japanese restaurants. With one more filtering session and a repacking of the car I bid farewell to Heather and Joe and baby Pearl and pointed Flo north for the 900+ mile epic to Prince Rupert , B.C. Luckily the Canadians officials at the border didn't question my strange cargo. I drove north along the Fraser and Thompson Rivers, gawking and the huge waves and boiling eddy lines. There was still tons of snow in the mountains, that plus the blooming lupine and rushing rivers made for some spectacular views.
I drove and drove, watching the kilometers click away as the little industrial hub of Prince George drew slowly closer. This is always a big landmark on the way to Alaska, a major crossroads where I'd hang a left for the little 750K spur to Prince Rupert and the ferry. The sun refused to set and the grease just kept flowing. Nothing could go wrong.
Within an hour of that foolish thought, I made a wrong turn, darkness fell, big, four-legged creatures started playing chicken with Flo, and a fuel filter began to clog. I wanted to pull over and sleep, but needed to get closer to Rupert. With a Coke, some short naps, a prayer to the deer and elk, and some massaging of the fuel system I made it through the night. At 5:30 AM I found myself changing a filter at a rest area in the Skeena valley, a bit delirious from the drive and the blue sky and snow capped peaks. From here it was a mere 250K victory lap to Rupert and the ferry to AK. Now I just need to figure out how to make this work in the cold, wet hills of Ketchikan......
Trip stats:
3, 520 miles
190 gallons of waste vegetable oil
12 restaurants
$27 total fuel costs

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Kayak Legend Nigel Foster Tops Off the Tank

Vancouver Island

I left Flo at a shop in Anacortes and loaded some essential in paniers on my bike. From there a combination of ferries and rainy, beautiful rides, and a chance encounter with Mr. A. Keshoggi, brought me to Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island. My friend Glenn owns a kayak shop there and lives nearby with Caire and their 3.9 kids. This was homebase for some island explorations by bike and kayak. We also made it to the Vancouver Island Whitewater Festival, and I was able to run the swolen Puntledge River a couple times. The return trip was sunnier and fantastic. I just barely caught the only ferry of the day between VI and Anacortes, and was lucky enough to see a big pod of Orcas on the way back.