The Washington Times - July 10, 2008, 01:54AM

By Nancy Sathre-Vogel, Donne Tempo Magazine

Do you realize how rare this is a woman asked. She had just pulled up next to us in an overlook parking lot. I drive this road every single week and have been doing it for years now and I only get a view like this once a month if I’m lucky.

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The entire Alaska Range spread out before us, showing off it splendor as though in a beauty pageant.

The row of rugged, snow-capped mountains stood out in stark contrast to the crystal clear, bright blue cloudless skies above. It was yet another fabulous day of cycling in Alaska.


Nancy on the Alaska Highway (Photo by John Vogel)


We pulled out of Fairbanks having no idea what kind of adventures the great state of Alaska had in store for us.  It didn’t take long to find out.

That night we followed our typical routine of pulling off the highway to pitch out tent in the woods.  All food was stored in dry bags and stashed hundreds of feet from our bikes – the last thing we wanted was a visit from Mr. Bear.

A few hours later I was awakened by the crack of a branch and the rustling of some type of feet a yard or so from my head.  John and I, with hearts nearly leaping from our chests, sat in our tent in panic.  Moose?  Bear?  Do we pack up now, at 2:00 in the morning, and take off?

In the end we figured our nighttime guest, regardless of the brand, had moved on and we stayed put to let the boys sleep.

The next day we hit the road bright and early and within a few miles were rewarded with breathtakingly spectacular views of the mountains.  The best part, however, was the knowledge that we would not be cycling through them.  For miles and miles we pedaled parallel to the range, basking in their beauty.

But perhaps the best part of Alaska so far has been the people.  It seems each bend in the road brings yet another friendly face more than willing to help us out.

One couple took our empty water bottles as they passed us, then returned them filled on their way back home.  In an area where all the rivers are filled with glacial silt and impossible to filter, the gift of water is something not to be underestimated.

Another evening we pulled into a small, native village at 10:00 pm after fighting a stiff headwind all day.  Utterly exhausted, we stumbled up to a couple playing cribbage at a picnic table.

“Is there any place around here we could pitch our tent?” we asked.

Their response floored us – “Sure!  Pitch your tent in that field by the pond, there are showers in the village laundromat, and we’ll cook you sourdough pancakes in the morning.”

My theory is that, here in Alaska, life is tough in many ways, and people truly understand they can only survive with the help of others.  There’s an understanding of the human spirit here that one doesn’t find in most places on earth, and each person reaches out exactly as they would want others to reach out to them.  I feel privileged to have been on the receiving end of their generosity.

 

Read all about Nancy’s Journey at:

On the road again – Part 1

On the road again – Part 2

On the road again – Part 3

On the road again – Part 4

Finding Santa Claus - The Vogels Reach North Pole, AK