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August 2004 Archive

Rumble Strips and Urban Sprawl in Alaska

posted by DL Byron on August 31, 2004

rumble We rode to the right of the rumble strips, sometimes side by side, but mostly in a single line. We’d take long turns at the front and occasionally chat. Alaska doesn’t use chip seal on their roads and that was a relief for our hands and bodies. Chip seal is great for rural roads, but not great for cyclists riding long miles. The vibration goes right through your hands, feet, and body.

About 4 cars an hour passed us. All of the drivers were courteous, giving us plenty of room. We did have one close call with a semi, in the rain, climbing up a small hill. With a car coming in the opposite direction, he had nowhere to go, blew his horn, and we bailed into the gravel. We paused for a moment after that, looked both ways, and continued down the road.

Nearing the end of our tour, back towards Anchorage, we rode into the urban sprawl of big-box retailers, fast food, and other franchises. There in the land where the ice age never left is a civilization establishing itself. An hour earlier, we took photos of a moose eating grass by the side of the road.

Anchorage is the worst planned city I’ve ever visited. They’re addressing that with a plan to “thwart sprawl, ease traffic congestion and improve air quality.” But until then, when you visit, expect to see a town that doesn’t look like it was built there. It’s like it was shipped in from Dallas, when the town was flush with oil money, and it sprawled in every direction. Given that, it’s remarkable how cycling friendly the town is. There are bike paths everywhere. Now, the paths may take you right through a crack-fueled ghetto, but the paths are there for you to ride.

Alaskans spend 9 months a year inside. So when it’s summer, they’re out, friendly and happy to see you. We found them to be happy in general. Outside of the city, you’re with fellow travelers that look out for each other.

I’ll remember those rumble strips, the landscape, and the urban sprawl. And we’ll return for another ride. This time towards Denali.

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Hundreds of Miles in Alaska

posted by DL Byron on August 26, 2004

chugack After climbing for 6 hours, spinning into a steady headwind, on our way to Valdez, I finally understood how big Alaska is. I saw it when we turned a sharp corner, descending from Thompson pass, and looked straight into the striking peaks of the Chugach National Forest.

At that moment, I realized just how much terrain I had seen. Pam and I had been riding for 6 days, for hundreds of miles, and had seen all sorts of peaks, glaciers, trees, and wilderness. However, that was only a small percentage of Alaska, a 10th of the state. It was one of those, “I’m meaningless moments,” a speck in time, I was just dust floating by this grand landscape.

Before we started the bike tour, I attempted to read Michener’s Alaska, I fell asleep each time, but distinctively remembered how he described Alaska, how it had been formed by tectonic plates, in the ring of fire, over millions of years. Looking up at the peaks, I tried to visualize that process, how the peaks got so high, how the glaciers formed, and how the streams flowed.

Then Pam whizzed by me, grinning, rushing down the pass, challenging me to catch her and I snapped back to our ride. We had two hours to go and I needed to focus on getting us to Valdez.

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P and B Reception

posted by DL Byron on August 23, 2004

rick scotch Continuing the photographic coverage of our wedding, the reception gallery is now online. We enjoyed a mellow event, cruising around Lake Washington aboard The Accord, an 85 foot, Monk McQueen yacht.

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Cab Elvis Marriage Ceremony

posted by DL Byron on August 20, 2004

The Cab Elvis photos gallery has been posted. When looking for a wedding officiant, we thought, “who better than Cab Elvis!” Besides being a cab-driving Elvis impersonator, he’s also a Reverend of the Universal Life Church and married us in our backyard treehouse.

He read canned vows from a book provided by the church and the kids thought the first ceremony was too short, so he randomly picked another one and it was the Apache-blessing version. That was pretty cool. Something about trees and keeping the teepee warm at night.

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Powerbook Palm Rest

posted by DL Byron on August 19, 2004

The palm rest of some Aluminum Powerbook can corrode and become pitted with black specs or dots. This is caused by the sweat from your hands oxidizing the anodized surface. Several Apple Discussion forums debate the problem at length. Early on, I had decided to just deal with it by occasionally wiping the palm rest surface with water and a clean cloth. During our recent vacation, I forgot to wipe the surface down and returned to a palm rest covered with white streaks (and pits) that I couldn’t remove. After a long search, I found a polish called Flitz that safely cleaned and polished the surface and now appears to “repel” some of the sweat. It doesn’t repair of fill the pits, but it’s does make them less obvious.

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Travel Slideshow

posted by DL Byron on August 17, 2004

Pam put together a cheezy slideshow (click start slideshow) of our vacation/honeymoon/bike tour of Alaska. Coming up is the Cab Elvis photos and a travel log.

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Cab Elvis, Alaska, Nachos, Brown Bears, and Fudge Buttons

posted by DL Byron on August 05, 2004

Tonight Cab-Elvis will visit, marry us, drive us to dinner, then back, and then we leave for a bicycle tour of South Central Alaska:

  • Riding around Anchorage - 50 miles
  • Anchorage to Palmer - 50 miles
  • Palmer to Sheep Mountain - 80 miles
  • Sheep Mountain to Copper Valley - 50 miles
  • Copper Valley to Valdez - 100 miles
  • Valdez to Anchorage - 50 Miles
  • Anchorage - 50 miles

The Alaskan 511:

We’ll pack everything into Carradice SQR Bags and ride our Davidsons. While pedaling along, we’ll frequently think of Nachos and French Fries. We may file trip reports. We may get chased by an angry, big-ass brown bear. We expect to return to a blog full of spam and hope a big Clip-n-Seal deal closes.

We’ll also remember how we fell in love, while another couple fell in love, and ate fudge buttons.

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