Sunday, May 31, 2009

Prudhoe Bay Ride - Day 4

We got up the following morning and went into the oil field worker's dining room for breakfast. We'd also eaten there for dinner the night before. It is a no frills place, but the food is heavenly! Bobby took the time to take a couple pictures of the dining room.

and the kitchen where they make all the good food happen along with part of the window dining room.

After breakfast we rode to "town"

where we got gas, then rode over to the NAPA store that marks the end of the Dalton Highway.

After buying a couple stickers at the NAPA, we went over to the Arctic Caribou where we took a tour of the oil fields. The windows in the bus were small and dirty so we didn't really get much in the way of photos. We saw a lot of birds, different species of geese, swans, arctic terns, etc. and more Eskimo cotton.

After winding through the oil fields we finally reached the Arctic Ocean and were allowed off the bus.

We'd have gone in all the way if we'd had the ability to change. that's my story and I'm sticking to it... We did get the certificates to prove we've at lest touched the Arctic Ocean.

When they were first developing the North Slope many people were afraid the development would harm the caribou herds. Instead, the caribou use the gravel roads and pads as a place to escape the worst of the mosquitoes. Caribou have the right of way on all the roads, and if that means oil transport vehicles have to wait for an hour while a large herd passes, then that is what they do. No one can honk their horns, or in any way try to move the caribou along. The caribou have obviously learned this and completely ignored us.

After the tour we got back on the bikes and turned South for home. It was a grayer day than the day before, and had rained over night. As we left Deadhorse it was in thick, freshly laid gravel. I was doing ok, then all of a sudden found myself in a berm, plowing through the gravel rather than riding on top. The bike went into a major tank slapper and I came VERY close to going down. I focused on the horizon though, and gave it enough gas to stay up right. Whew! That was too close for comfort.

Shortly before I decided to ride in the berm...

The wind was calmer today, and as a result the mosquitos were on patrol. The picture shows several swarming my helmet but is an understatement of what was there. We learned on our tour that the mosquitos are so bad, they'll take 1/3 of the caribou's body weight in blood every summer.

It felt like a different road today. The weather was more challenging, and every time the light changes, the view changes completely,

and the road was a little less friendly also.

I love riding in mud! I get a big grin every time I make it out without a crash!

The beauty of this area never lessened.

Eventually we got back to Atigun Pass. As I reached the top I looked back and saw one of the most beautiful scenes yet. The Pass was rainy and dark, while the valley behind me was bathed in sunlight. Unfortunately the road was very steep and I was on a blind corner where I didn't feel safe stopping.

After the Pass we went through an area with gorgeous rocks off to the side of the road.

Even while the weather on the road was dark, we could always see the promise of sunlight at the end. I think there is a life lesson in that, and maybe in this whole ride. The road isn't always easy, but the difficulties make the beauty so much more worthwhile.

We were spending the night back at Wiseman, but wanted to go back to Coldfoot for dinner. I don't know how these guys got here. All I know is they didn't have much of a smile on their faces when they pulled into the parking lot shortly after we sat down to eat dinner.

Just look at those tires! No wonder they weren't feeling like being conversational!

After dinner we went back to the B&B. We stayed in the smaller cabin this time. It was great being greeted by the owner's children. Leo liked my helmet. His sister looked on with typical sibling disgust and tolerance...

Once again, by the time we were showered and crawled in bed we fell asleep immediately. The down comforters are absolutely to die for!

to be continued...

1 comment:

HBAR said...

Nice to see a woman's perspective! Wonderful scenery!