Was the picture worth it?
I had to ask myself this question as I lay on the rocky terrain with Annie’s weight pinning my right foot to the ground. In the quest to record the view that perfectly sums up Alaska, I may have gone one hill too far.
I was greeted by sourdough pancakes made from scratch. Naturally I was curious about the sourdough, so Megan opened this jar and showed me. I’m not sure whether what I saw was animal, vegetable or mineral; but I’m pretty sure that pungent paste had a measurable IQ. Whatever it was, it was super tasty.
I had a difficult decision to make for my activity for the day. Matthew and Megan were heading to the annual Scottish games, an event rife with kilts, log tossing and bagpipes. It sounded like a lot of fun and I wanted to spend time with them, but I decided instead to take a drive down to Seward which is South of Anchorage on the Kenai (Kee-Nye) peninsula. I was still in search of the picture that would define “Alaska” in the song (Verse 4, Line 4).
(I’m going to try something new and embed a map below. You can zoom in or move it around if you like. I may make this a regular thing if the formatting works OK. Let me know)
The day started cloudy, but they parted an hour or so into my ride. I think the best course of action is for me to just shut up and let the pictures do the talking.
Being stuck in construction is a pain…..but there are definitely worse places to be stuck: 🙂
Annie and the Exit Glacier:
I got to Seward and talked to my friend, Adam, while standing on an old dock. He is one of those friends who always sees the best in others. It was a very encouraging conversation. (Ok, Adam, you made the blog. Now put down the computer and go spend some time with Natalie and the girls.) During our talk I got to watch a whale out in the bay. Don’t ask me what kind it was. Remember, I’m from Nebraska. It was such a beautiful spot: Mountains, blue skies, aqua waters. I knew this was where I wanted my Alaska picture to take place.
I bounced Annie down the rocky path, set up my mini-tripod (my big one was left in Saskatchewan) and took a picture.
I have a couple of others, but this is probably the best one. It was then I realized that in my haste I had neglected to plan an exit strategy. The footing was not good. Slick, flat rocks sitting on top of almost dusty dirt. I tried to slowly walk Annie up the path, but the rear wheel just dug in. I knew my only option was to start at the bottom and get as much speed up as possible.
I still don’t know what happened. I thought I had plenty of speed to crest the hill. Nothing went in slow motion, instead time skipped forward and I found myself prone on the rocky ground alongside Annie. Compounding matters, I found that my right foot was stuck underneath the side case with most of Annie’s weight resting on it. I tugged my foot to no avail, but thankfully some idiot mounted this ridiculously large trunk to the back of the bike. I used this to lift just enough to free myself. With some effort, I righted Annie. By this point, three guys who had just arrived to go fishing were present and willing to lend a hand. They helped me push Annie up over the last hump.
Me: “Gosh, thanks so much guys. I shouldn’t have gone down there. That was really stupid”
Guy pushing from behind: “Yeah, especially for a guy who has been everywhere.”
They were really nice. I suppose a lesson should be learned, but looking at the picture….I would do it the same way again 🙂 That was the first time I had laid Annie down in over two years and the first time ever not on snow/ice. It was also the first impact one of my side cases has ever taken. I engineered them to have a break point right at the joint, which is a $5 part that I carry spares of. To my surprise, it did not even look bent. The only apparent damage was Sonic running a bit bow-legged. He bent back in to place without much hassle. Hopefully the first and last crash of the trip!
For supper, Megan baked a beautifully seasoned salmon. At this point I’m getting so spoiled that I don’t know how I’m ever going to go back to Nutella tortillas. We had a chill evening with more great conversation.
Sunday! I was glad that it worked out for me to able to go to church with them at First Covenant. We decided to be a biker gang for the day as Matthew and Megan rode their Magna 750. I told Annie that she doesn’t need to be as shiny as that bike for me to find her beautiful.
It was a great service, focused on forgiveness. The message was a different perspective on the story of the paralytic who was lowered through a roof to see Jesus. The theme was that Jesus’ initial forgiveness offered to the man was a greater miracle than his healing. After the sermon a lady in the congregation shared the story of her path to forgiveness following the murder of her brother. I don’t think there were many dry eyes in attendance. An impactful, challenging service.
I met some more neat people and finally got to get a picture with both Matthew and Megan.
We went out for lunch at a pizza restaurant called the Bear’s Tooth. I was glad about this, mostly because I would get a chance to pick up the bill to at least partially repay my hosts’ generosity. Unfortunately, I found out too late that Megan is part mongoose. She snatched the bill the instant it hit the table, leaving my fingers grasping naught but the mozzarella scented air. I have been so well taken care of.
After lunch we took a ride to the West side of Anchorage, there are some neat views from here. West overlooks the bay, while east gives a panorama of the city. (My pictures didn’t turn out too well though.)
When we got home I did some maintenance/inspection to Annie. I found that I was missing two nuts for my luggage cases. A quick trip to Ace hardware rectified the situation. My biggest concern at this point is the wear on my rear tire. It has worn surprisingly fast and I will be lucky to get another 3-4k miles from it. This might result in me swinging through Nebraska sooner than anticipated.
Take a load off, Annie:
After Annie was squared away I did some writing/updating. Knowing that I was headed back to the land where internet goes to die, I wanted to be as up to date as possible before my departure.
The final order of business was to ask my hosts if they would accept the honor of crossing out Alaska on my sign. I wanted their approval that I had sufficiently experienced their state. Megan took care of the map, while Matthew checked off the box in Verse 4:
I went to bed that night thinking about the theme of burdens. How my muscles had strained as I struggled to right my fallen motorcycle. She feels so light and nimble while breezing down the highway, but on the ground she felt like a ton of bricks. Though it was a difficult task, I surely carry internal burdens that are exponentially larger.
I’ve promised not to preach in this blog, but I think the power of forgiveness is one that people from all beliefs can embrace (or am I the only who always cries during Act I of Les Miserables?). Is there someone in your life who has wronged you and you can’t let it go? Like a motorcycle on its side, a grudge can make it difficult to move on. This task of forgiveness may be strenuous, but the straining effort it takes will be worth it. I would invite you to think about what burdens you might be bearing that are keeping you pinned down.
Motorcycles work best when they are upright. So do we. 🙂