Bob's to Akaska: A Dark and Stormy Day - Undaunted Porridge - CycleBlaze

June 19, 2018

Bob's to Akaska: A Dark and Stormy Day

By Jen

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The weather on June 19th was actually quite delightful. Overcast skies, temps ranging from 57 to 73 degrees, and mostly single-digit wind speeds. "Where was this dark storminess, then?", you ask.

The dark and stormy day was in my head! Apparently I had not fully recovered from the hell and damnation of June 18th, and shortly after we started riding I began to cry. It's challenging to ride a bicycle while crying, and I don't recommend it. It's hard to see the road through bleary eyes, and harder yet to ride in a straight line while continually wiping a drippy nose.

I pulled over to see if a snack would help and broke into a full-on wail. You know, shaking shoulders and the whole bit. Fortunately Ron rode up a couple of seconds later and, like the stellar spouse he is, offered comfort and a sympathetic ear while I spiraled into an ugly rant. "This is stupid!" I screamed. "Why the blankety-blank are we doing this??!!"... and "I want to go HOME!!" And then with increased volume and melodrama, "Oh, wait ... We don't have a home!!"

This whiny-complainypants-ness* lasted another 30-40 minutes and both Ron and Gay were the pillars of stability and empathy I needed until the storm passed. That's the great thing about emotional outbursts. Even though they feel like they'll last forever, they're just temporary weather systems.

We made it to Akaska, mostly with me limping behind Ron to block the wind. What finally pulled me out of the dark clouds were some curious cows and a lonely tree. Most cows run away when they see us, but this brave group walked towards the fence, stretching their heads upwards as they sniffed our peculiar fragrance. We stopped to watch the cows as they watched us. And then I looked over and saw the lonely tree that seemed to say, "Get over it, girlfriend!"

Once in Akaska, population 42, we rode down the 3 blocks of Main Street, past the 6-room motel and down to the Bait Shop to see what they might have for lunch. Surprisingly, the restaurant had about 15 tables and a susbstantial menu. I went for the 1 item that included vegetable matter, an omelette, and the menfolk opted for meat. A decent meal also helped to improve my outlook.

Bait Shop AND bar and grill. It was excellent.
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Dee ForteCan't go wrong with Bait AND people food!
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2 years ago

After lunch Gay went over to the attached bait shop to get a soda. As he walked through the bar area he stopped to talk with Tim, the restaurant owner, who was watching a show about helicopter hunting on the big screen TV. Ron and I ambled over there, too, and before we knew it Tim offered to let us camp on the lawn at his Mansland Hunting Lodge - for free! He gave us access to a giant garage/ bunkroom for bike parking/gear storage and to the adjoining bathroom & shower. The area where we set up our tents was flat and shady, so, all-in-all it was a great deal, considering that the fee at the town's only campground was $40!

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Once again we were humbled by the random kindness of a stranger. We probably didn't share his opinions about the merits of shooting animals from a helicopter, but that really didn't matter. Tim's generosity and hospitality were just further evidence that it's a good idea to travel outside of our ideological bubbles once in a while.

To conclude the comforting calm after the storm, The Three Amigos enjoyed a delicious rice/chicken/beans hodge-podge sitting in the cushy patio chairs on the Mansland front porch. And then, in a phone conversation with my mom, she encouraged me to develop a list of daily affirmations to help me cope with bumps in the road. This is a fun ritual I started with her a few months ago to help remind her of her awesomeness as she deals with the challenges of being 86 years old. We end most of our conversations with her daily affirmations. 

How's this, mom? "I ride through the wind, not against it. I believe the hardship:easyship ratio will remain in our favor. And I will keep moving until I experience something that breaks up the storm clouds."

*The term 'complainypants' was coined by Mr. Money Mustache.

Our tents at Mansland Lodge
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Cooking dinner
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Gay talking to a local in the park.
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Robin egg
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Li LaBeautiful nature. Thanks for sharing your adventures and capturing them visually and in funny words. Stay safe.
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2 years ago
Scott AndersonOn the upside, just think of how much richer your sense of this country will be. I’ve never viewed the heartland the same since biking across it myself forty years ago. Imagine living in such places!

And, you’re coming away with some incredible memories to rehash and share, and some beautiful photographs.

I really feel for both of you. There is absolutely nothing as dispiriting as fighting endless headwinds. Rachael and I think of both of you daily, praying for some breaks to go your way.

And no, Ron, $100 is not better as an emergency tire repair, unless it’s a hundred singles in a wad. Surprised you didn’t know better.
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2 years ago
Jen GrumbyTo Scott AndersonOk, but if I leave the tirelever safely inside the inflated tire, will that help?
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2 years ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyCreative idea, but unfortunately not. And, it’s an annoyance if you’re unlucky enough to flatten the other tire too. What really does work well though is a stainless steel bottle opener, in case you’ve got one of those handy.
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2 years ago

Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 720 miles (1,159 km)

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Rachael AndersonSorry to hear things have been so difficult for both of you. You have put up with a lot more than I have and have showed amazing fortitude. A good cry sure can help. A couple of my mantras are “whatever doesn’t I’ll you makes you stronger” and “I am women here me roar”. I also sing the Rocky theme to myself. But never forget you can change your plans. You have nothing more to prove since you have already proved you are super tough. May the winds be at your back!
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2 years ago
Jen GrumbyTo Rachael AndersonThanks for the encouragement, Rachael! I will adopt your mantras and may even try a roar or 2. ;0)

Sounds like you and Scott have had your share of challenges with hills and heat. Thank you both for inspiring us keep pedaling.
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2 years ago
Steve LilleyI appreciate the honesty of this post. It's not all fun and glamour, I'm sure! I feel like we humans are pretty tied to routine, and your routines are all completely different now. I imagine that can be difficult at times to deal with.
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2 years ago
Jen GrumbyThanks Steve! The fun generally outweighs the moments of despair. And it's pretty cool that ordinary things like a field of cows can be entertaining and fascinating.

Thanks for the encouragement and support!
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2 years ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesThe thing about headwinds is that it is like going up a neverending hill. You struggle and struggle but never reach the top. It csn really suck the joy out of you while it blows. Glad things seem to be improved today. Thanks for honest sharing of your voyage. The Dodie half of The Grampies
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2 years ago
Jen GrumbyThat's it! The uphills are uphill, the flats are uphill, and the downhills are uphill when you're riding in headwinds.

Thanks for reading and for your support!
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2 years ago
Debbie GregoryYou are a brave women! I am impressed every time I read your posts. Not many of us have the dedication and guts it takes to actually take on such a feat. If you have the mental fortitude to take on the tangle and “stupidness” of samples financials, you can tackle anything! I love your affirmation, Elkhart would be dazzled.
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2 years ago
Jen GrumbyTo Debbie GregoryThanks Debbie! Bicycle touring definitely takes mental fortitude and I'm glad my desk job helped prepare me to stick with it out here!
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2 years ago
Sue PriceTough days on the road really do suck it out of you, but it sounds like you have a great supportive (and funny) partner which makes such a difference! Thank you for sharing so honestly - it's good to know that we all have days like that out on the road.
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2 years ago
Jen GrumbyTo Sue PriceThanks Sue! The solid support I get from Ron is a big part of what keeps me going. Also wonderful that we met up with Gay, who has such a valuable perspective as a veteran cycle tourist. And the encouragement from family, friends, and readers is also quite awesome!
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2 years ago