I awoke in the claustrophobic confines of my tent, my breath crystallizing in the morning air. I rolled out into the grass running along the natural gas fields I had camped next to. Thirty feet to my left was a busy two lane highway cutting through the middle of Wyoming. I shivered in the strong winds and gulped down some food before hopping on my bicycle and hitting the road. I was 1200 miles from my home and still had 2800 miles to go to my destination, Fairbanks, Alaska.
I worked at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge for a year in 2009 while finishing up my BA at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. After relocating back to my home state of Kansas for about a year, I decided to move back to the Last Frontier. I figured it would be a good adventure to take a few months off and ride my bike back to Alaska before starting on the work treadmill again. After a year of planning, I set off from my front door on April 4, 2011 with about 70 pounds of gear loaded on my bike. For the next 77 days I battled headwinds, surly motorists, unseasonably cold weather and massive mountain ranges. I camped next to busy roads, under bridges and drank scotch huddled under a wooden shelter during a freezing rainstorm. I avoided buffalo and bears, gazed down on sublime mountain vistas and woke up to snow in June. I met some nice people and some not so nice people, and learned the best way to see a landscape is at 10 miles an hour.
After all that and a whole lot more I rolled into Fairbanks two and half months after I started. Three days later, I was back at work waiting tables at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge for people on their vacation to Alaska. I’ll be here for now, looking back on those cold days and dark nights when I wended my way across the continent wtih little on my mind other than what my nest meal would be and where I would sleep that night.