Day 8 – Homer, AK to Talkeetna, AK

Distance: 368 miles / 592 kilometers
Time on bike: 9:30am – 6:00 pm
Temp: Nasty cold, rainy – 8-10 celcius all day

Well, right from the get-go this morning it was a challenging day. It was drizzling rain when I put all the gear back on the bike. Then about 10 minutes into the ride it stopped. With the coastal winds and the low temperature the morning ride was quite cool (only 8 celcius with massive winds).

Before I left I had a pretty good chat with a family from Kodiak island who had to spend an extra night because of a mechanical issue with one of the ferries. Alaskans are very, very friendly and accommodating. I’ve had nothing but positive contacts with them thus far.

One guy, a ‘dude’, came by after and was looking at the bike and the plates – “dude, that’s an f’n sweet bike. Dude, you rode that all the way here. Sweet! Dude, you’re so awesome. Then shook my hand and off he went.”

Hazy, cloudy and foggy meant there wasn’t much to see on the way out and back on the Sterling Highway. No animal life to speak of except wild drivers. It’s a fairly narrow road and very well traveled so again today there was nearly bumper to bumper all the way to Soldotna.

Stopped to warm up and have some lunch. Finally things started to warm up outside and I even saw the sun. It’s beginning to feel like riding in the Pacific Northwest (North ‘wet).

The weather held until I passed the Portage Glacier again and turn towards Anchorage. In the distance (looking towards Anchorage) I could see the looming storm. Ugh! More rain riding. And did it rain! Epic rain all the way to my end of day destination. It rained cats, dogs, sheep, goats, and elephants.

By the end of the day I was looking forward to lodging and a meal. I though Trappers Creek would be a good place to stop because of its proximity to Denali National Park. Unfortunately, there’s nothing really there – a 24 hour gas station with lodging – and they were full.

I back tracked to Talkeetna to have a look. This added about 50-75 kilometers to the journey but was it worth it! What a cool little village. It’s all artists, artisans and has a unique hippy culture.

I stayed at the Talkeetna Motel and Restaurant. Very simple accommodation that was like staying in a relative’s basement. Outdated furniture and decoration but it was very clean, comfortable and was a little self-contained suite. The owners are especially friendly and helpful. She gave me the low-down on where to eat, what to do and a bit of history of the area. It’s a bit pricey for what you get but I’m guessing the tourist season in this neck of the woods is short. Plus I don’t mind helping out small businesses and these types of mom and pop operations.

Had some pizza by the slice at a cool little shop – Mountain High Pizza. Really good pie and reasonably priced.

I bunked in and listened to the rain which continued to pour right through until the morning and beyond….