11 - 17 June 2014
Ed was nice to take me to the airport so I didn’t have to struggle with the big bike box that we got from Amtrak on the way. We arrived early so I had time to repack everything into my check-in bag and bike box. I had made several inquiries beforehand to make sure about maximum box-size, price, etc. so I was surprised when the woman at the counter told me it was USD 90 for the bike because it was my second bag. I had been told it was USD 50 but now it turned out it was only if I had no other luggage – not really likely; who travels with a bike without luggage? Anyway, I managed to convince her it was USD 50 despite the box being 18 kilos (40 lbs) overweight (this I didn’t tell her).
We boarded on time but left half hour late with no explanations given. After an uneventful flight I was happy to receive my luggage – especially my bicycle – in one piece. I knew the sun would be up late here far north but I was still surprised it was light at midnight. I was going to couchsurf with Gavin, Savannah and their 3-year-old son Orion and Gavin was very kind to pick at the airport despite my very late arrival. As it turned out a lovely little family - very helpful, hospitable, generous and interesting to talk to; and little Orion being so cute, talkative, curious and very well behaved.
One day we all went hiking at Eagle River a bit northeast of Anchorage – a nice little walk through the forest, crossing small creeks and along the river and as it’s early Summer a lot of flowers were blooming. This afternoon - as well as most of my time in Anchorage – it was overcast and about 15C (60F); very pleasant for walking and biking but of course the views were less impressive with the clouds hanging low over the mountains. A few afternoons the weather was beautiful so I exploited the opportunity and went biking around Anchorage – the city center itself was not very interesting but there were some decent bike trails through and at the outskirts of town, along creeks and the ocean, around lakes and through parks… It was the beginning of the salmon season so many locals were out trying their luck…. As always I met a lot of people and I used every opportunity to get recommendations for what to do with my 2 months in Alaska - I got a lot of great suggestions but to my surprise a lot people born and raised in Alaska had never travelled around the state!?! Based on the recommendations I decided first to do a trip around southern Alaska - first over the mountains to Valdez, ferry rides first to Cordova and later to Whittier where I would bike around the Kenai Peninsula (the trip covers the three following sections)...