The ride from Talkeetna was wet – the kind of pissy rain that won’t go away, and though it never bounces off the pavement, it soaks everything you own and leaves you shivering to the core.
It started falling as soon as I hit the Parks Highway junction yesterday, and continued into the soggy grey night around Nancy Lake. My tent was so wet that I didn’t even bother to set it up – I just unrolled my sleeping bag on a picnic table and did the best I could to get some sleep.
I woke up at 6:30, partly because I had a mosquito up my nose and partly because I’ve never met a State Park camp host that gets up before seven. I ate an unreasonable amount of oatmeal, grabbed some water from the lake and headed back out into the rain.
But it was more like a mist, and I thought, “Hey, today is going to be alright.” Fast forward two hours to find me standing in the Wasilla Wal-Mart bathroom, wringing my cycling shorts under the hand dryer. I was utterly soaked. I think folks thought I peed my pants, and they probably nodded to their wives and whispered, “pant pee-er” when I finally left the facilities. Oh well.
I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, and I even considered getting a hotel room if only to have a warm shower and snivel in solitude. The very thought was over my budget, though, so I got cozy with a McDonald’s counter and ate a Big Mac instead. Call it a caloric hug.
There must be a shot of good luck in the secret sauce because when I emerged from the mega-sized shopping centre – with dry shorts, I might add – I saw a clearing blue sky and puddles drying on the ground. It was an odd place for my day to turn the corner, but I wasn’t about to argue.
From there, I took a detour off the Wasilla main street because, frankly, the avenue was so tarted up with big box stores that it was wrecking the view. Things looked much nicer from the trunk road two miles to the north. I gawked my way to Palmer, arriving at the library with shining sun and beaming face. How’s that for a schizo day?
Now, for the first time on my trip, I’m heading east. For the geographically challenged, that means I’m skipping Anchorage. Last night, it was pointed out to me by a lady from Utah that it’s “just another city,” and I’ve already had my fill of those.
Show me the sights, not the stores.