Day 20: Wet Day
I knew eventually our relatively good weather-related luck would run out. Sure, we’ve had hot days, cold days, and damp days. But today was the first WET day, from start to finish. Frog strangler wet. Soaked to the skin wet. Cats and dogs wet. Drown a fish wet. Noah wet. Wet.
A cold misty drizzle fell on us as we loaded our bikes in Talkeetna and sagely covered our exposed packs. Not only did the day demand heated jackets and rain gear, it also brought the long johns out of storage. A glance at the weather forecast and weather radar strongly intimated our day would get soggier as it wore on.
Mark has been plagued with leaky rain pants on the few days where we had rain and one early effort to repair them failed. So, 15 miles after we left Talkeetna, we stopped at a hardware store so he could buy some Gorilla tape to attempt the same fix I put on my hydrologically challenged rain pants. With tape hastily added to some of the seams, we squished back onto our seats and went splashing down the road.
From Talkeetna to Anchorage, rain was light and episodic but getting heavier as we motored south. The real challenge, though, came when we passed through Anchorage and headed east along Turnagin Arm (an extension of Cooke Inlet). There the deluge began in earnest and the harder the rain fell, the harder the wind blew into our faces, making seeing and steering problematic. Gusts of 40 mph or better forced the rain into any still-dry portals inside our rain suits, and the location of the seams on our suits could be traced by the dark stains on our increasingly damp shirts and pants. By the time we reached the end of Turnagin Arm, we were ready for hot coffee and a hot sandwich fortuitously available at a small shopping center.
As we stood dripping unceremoniously on the covered sidewalk, passersby repeated all the standard but not-very-funny cliches about riding motorcycles in the rain. Fortified with the soon-to-be-realized promise of hot coffee and food, we took their well-intended jibes in stride. At this chance stop, we encountered the German woman we breakfasted with two days ago in Talkeetna and for 15 minutes we renewed our brief intercontinental acquaintance before parting ways again. Coincidences like that happen with amazing regularity on road trips. Weird.
Moderate to heavy rain pelted us as we finished the final 90 miles to Seward. Checking early into our motel (a step up from our previous pitiful lodging), we removed wet gear, changed into dry clothes and began the job of trying to dry pants, shirts, gloves and rain gear.
Mark’s early morning repair work failed to stem the unidirectional flow from outside to inside his rain pants, so he has more work to do in the next couple of days. My biggest issue was the seams in the arms of my rain jacket, which seem to have lost their waterproofing characteristics, soaking not only the sleeves on my shirt, but the sleeves on my heated jacked as well. I think I’m just going to cover the outside seams with Gorilla tape and see how that works. Eventually I may replace my rain suit with Gorilla tape.
Despite the day’s difficulties, I thought as I rode along in the rain and the fog and the mist and the wind that I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for another day in an office or at a desk or even in sedentary retirement. This is the stuff adventures are made of, and I’ll cherish the wet days as much as the dry as I tell mostly-true stories about my two-wheel travels.
The day ended on a positive note in Seward when I returned to Chinook’s Restaurant where Marilyn and I dined three years ago the first Alaska Adventure. This time I had the halibut with which she became gastronomically enamored. The fare was way over my food budget, but way worth every
penny dollar. The halibut was absolutely delicious, perfectly seasoned and chased with a cold glass of Chuli Stout from the Denali Brewing company I learned to enjoy last night in Talkeetna. Add a view of the moored boats in the harbor in Resurrection Bay with mountains across the water sporadically emerging through the moving mist, and it was a good end to a wet day.
Our plans, never fully set in stone, may change over the next several days as the forecast calls for rain on the Kenai Peninsula all week. Hiking up a mountain tomorrow, for example, may be replaced with a drier exploration of the Alaska Sea Life Center, an aquarium owned and operated by the state. And fishing trips planned for Sunday and Tuesday may be reconfigured to accommodate the weather. But the Adventure will continue, wet or dry, and I look forward to what comes next.