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Category: USA (Page 1 of 2)

Road Tripping Utah, Arizona & California

In Ridgway we say goodbye to Debbie and cycle back to Montrose to pick up the rental car the next day. The ride down is so much more fun in the sun and with tailwind than the ride up with all the rain and headwind a few days ago. We do the same stretch in less than half the time.
Despite we booked the car from the next day we cycle straight to the car rental company. Maybe we can pickup the car already. On arrival at the rental company we notice they’re closed already. To bad.
But when we hang out a little longer in front of the rental company to figure out where to stay for the night a guy comes out off the building to close it down for the night. When he sees us he asks us why we’re here. We tell him our story and an hour later we drive our car out of town... up to Moab, the mountain bike capital of the country. 🤘

We rented the car for a week and in that week we did 3200km road trip, two time zones, six National Parks, three times snow, many dessert, two dogs and loads of other fun things. Just check some pictures below;

First night sleep in the car near Moab

Desert breakfast

Road into Arches NP

Fallen Arches. They come and go.

We always do option #3 but here it's not aloud 🙁

Water in the desert.

The most famous one.

Wall paintings from long long ago in Capitol Reef National Park.

Sleeping in the car.

Cowboys on the road.

Lost dogs at Bryce Canyon National Park

Looks like in Holland.

Bryce Canyon... Bad weather 🙁

Snow...

Wild roads after wild camping

In the bus in Zion National Park

Zion!!!!!

DCIM100GOPRO

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The American dream?

North Rim Grand Canyon National Park

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Somewhere in the desert

Colorado River brigdes

No Jumping from bridge??

DCIM100GOPRO

Horseshoe Bend... Realy an amazing place.

South Rim Grand Canyon National Park

DCIM100GOPRO

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I got my kicks on Route 66

Someone knows which movie this is in?

Route 66

Living the dream?

Bagdad Cafe. If you've seen the movie you will recognize, if not, watch the movie 😉

Cooking in the desert.

Joshua Tree National Park

DCIM100GOPRO

"Into The Wild" Salvation mountain.

Emptying the car before return in San Diego.

Bye bye San Diego.
Mexico here we come....

Cycling Colorado

We start off cycling Colorado from Vail. To get there we took a 29 hour shuttle bus from Jackson, Wyoming. The bus ride is boring with lots of half sleeps and midnight wake ups for stop overs. When we finally ride into Vail we’re glad we can go off.
Vail is in a ski area at around 3000m high. We figured out already, there are no campgrounds nearby and from all the Warmshowers contacts we tried to make contact with, no one responded.
In Vail we reassemble our bikes, eat a burrito at the local Mexican in the bus transit center and start cycling. It’s 18:30 already so we want to go just out of town to find a wild camp. As always we find one, definitely not the best one but it’s dark already so we’re not to picky. It’s 10km out of town along a old railway.

Arriving in Vail

Bikes outside the boxes, have to built up again.

Done 🙂

When you arrive in the dark you see the next morning where you really are.

The next day we ride into a small village for some coffee and groceries before we continue cycling south over highway 24. The road goes uphill into the mountains, the scenery is beautiful and very different from what we’ve seen for so far in the north. It’s more red and some places look like dessert. We cycle through canyons and along empty ghost towns and a no longer in use railway. At the end of the day we find a state campground along Turquoise Lake.

Another Ghost Town

Autumn colors

View from our tent

Our neighbors aren’t very quite but there we have earplugs for.
The next morning they’re up very early because they had frozen their asses off. They left the campground earlier then we even got out of bed🤣
The ride today starts with us coming out of to mountains heading to Buena Vista. In Buena Vista it’s warm, perfect for a midday break.
We end the day at a recreation area found by our iOverlander app. The spot is in a kind of small canyon where the first cactuses can be found. So watch out with our air mattresses.

Staying on BLM land in a small canyon.

First cactus spotted. From now on watch out where we put our tent.

Sunset

Knitting my first hat.

When we start off the next day we expected to go down hill. The first 15km we do actually but from there it’s just climbing, climbing, climbing. We just go straight up with a max of 8kmp/h for four and a half hours in a row. The road is narrow and quite busy. We take lots of extra breaks. The top is another continental divide pass. When we hit the top at 3.450m it’s already 18.30h so we have to find ourselves a camp spot for the night before it gets dark. Just a few minutes after the top we see a small dirt road going into the woods. Nice one, that’s gonna be our spot for tonight. Because we’re still quite high in the mountains the night is cold but filled with millions of stars again.

Next morning; first hat - Done

Nearly at the top

One of the highest passes so far on this trip.

On top we see this sign... Got Oxygen? Yes we do.

For breakfast we have a 15km long 6% grade down hill ride. For a cyclist, that’s a pretty nice breakfast 🤘
The wind is pretty strong from the west the rest of the day... and guess what, we’re going west. We’re really done with the headwinds by the time we hit the town of Gunnison.
At the local supermarket we bump into AJ & Sarah, a couple who’s here for hiking in the mountains. They hear our stories and are super enthusiastic and wanna support us by getting us a few cold beers. Thanks guys 🙏

Wearing my jacket inside out to be more visible in the mad traffic down the hills.

That's far down again 🙂

One of the many dump yards on the way

Autumn colors

Beer from AJ and Sarah 🙂
They fit right in our holders.

In town we found a free spot for camping on our app but on arrival we see a “No Camping” sign. Hmmm bummer. When we cycle back to the main road a guy in a truck passes us with 🤘 out of his window. When we pass him again we stop and start a small talk. He introduces himself as Bryan and he appears to be the owner of a festival ranch which we just passed. Bryan is into cycling as well and invites us to camp at his I Bar Ranch tonight. He tells “there will be a wedding tomorrow but by the time it starts you will be gone already.”
Funny detail: we have our first wedding anniversary tomorrow.
The festival area is setup for the wedding already and looks great. We bet it’s gonna be an awesome party.

I-Bar Range

When we break up the next morning we speak Bryan again, he wishes us a nice trip and safe travels. We wish him a kick ass party.
In town we hop into a small cycling shop with a coffee bar to post another blog and hang around online for a while. It’s already in the afternoon when we leave town, up to Blue Mesa Reservoir, a large lake with a campground at the end. The wind is still strong and from the west and we’re still going west. Really killing and demotivating. When we finally hit the campground we meet Nicky and her husband. After a talk they offer us a beer and when we put up our tent Nicky comes over to offer us a meal as well. Lovely 😊
No cooking and Mexican beer for us tonight on our wedding anniversary.

I see a bad moon a-rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin'
I see bad times today - CCR

Going straight or going up the rim?

Our view from the bike:
Music and Navigation is all you're need.

Anniversary Mexican beer

Anniversary dinner

But not everyone is so kind to us today. When the park ranger comes along he tells us we’re not allowed to stay where we pitched our tent and we have to move it to the other side of the campground. What the #%*$, who cares, the campground is nearly empty this time of year. It’s already dark when we move our tent.

Our spot after we moved

The next morning our friendly neighbours are gone already when we cycle along their space. We head on to Black Canyon today witch means a lot up and down. We know at the end of the day we have to finish the day with a 10km straight up climb to Black Canyon. At one moment we're already at the same altitude as the National Park so we try to find a straight way through the mountains without have to go down again and avoid the final climb at the end of the day. We find a small country road over gravel on our gps which we can take. When we cycle in the road, just a few hundred meters a farmer shows up in his truck. He doesn't smile at all and sends us back to the main highway because we're on his private property and there is now way through the mountains to Black Canyon... he says...

Back on the highway we go down all the way we came up in the last few hours to go up again at the end of the day.
The 10km climb took us a hour but it was worth the climb as you can see below. Black Canyon is stunning, even with all the rain we've got.

Camp in the rain

Deep

Colorado River in the deep

Looking over Black Canyon

Painted wall

Amazing views up here, even in the rain.

Look deep.

After all the rain we have to go down over the same 10km road we came up over to go to Black Canyon. The road down just takes us 10 minutes. Wow, we think back at yesterday...it took us 60min to go up and for today it is only 10min to go down again!! We cycle into the city of Montrose where we've organised a Warmshowers host. Quite nice after all the rain and bad weather.

At John, Laura and Jemma. Thanks guys !!

We stay for just one day because we're a bit in a hurry to go south because the winter is coming and our visa is expiring in a few weeks already.
The next day of cycling is in the rain again and strong wind ahead. After we did some shopping in town and left Montrose for what it was we head south to Ridgway. After a hours cycling as we're standing on the side of the road a car stops right in front of us. A lady jumps out and starts waving at us. When she's coming closer she asks us where we gonna stay tonight. "No idea yet" is our answer. She invites us in her house in Ridgway because all the rain. Probably we looked very miserable at that moment 😉
She introduces herself as Debbie, gives us her address, jumps in het car and off she is again.
Funny how things can go unexpected. In the first place we didn't plan to stay in Ridgway at all but we end up with Debbie for two days, eating pizza, hiking and replanning our whole trip thought the rest of the States.
We figured out, even with the bus trip we did a few weeks ago we're not gonna make it in time to the Mexican border unless we go straight south from where we are now and skip all the National Parks. And even then we are not gonna end up in the Baja California but on the Mexican Mainland.

So we booked a rental car from Montrose (yes we have to cycle back for that) to San Diego, just a few miles north of the Baja California. Together with Debbie we figure a doable route through a lot of National Parks. Hopefully it works out. Will be continued...

A front door like this promises more style inside.

And for sure there is...

View from our balcony

Hiking up

The most easiest pass so far... by Debbies car 😉

Hiking down again

How many do you count?

Thanks Debbie

Cycling Grand Teton National Park

After we left Yellowstone behind us in the north, we cycle down to Teton NP. Teton is just a few kilometers south of Yellowstone but we planned to camp in between in Flagg Range Campground. When we arrive there the friendly guy at the office tells us “camping is $40 per night, no matter you’re in a big RV or a small tent”
We look at each other “to expensive”
“But....” the guy says “just a quarter mile south from here is free state campground”
We guess marketing was not his best class in high school but it sounds good to us. So we go.
At the tiny campground are just six campsites with two available. It’s just 3 in the afternoon so we relax the rest of the day in the nice warm sun.
The night that follows is cold again. -5C with again; our millions of bright stars.
When we wake up the temperature rises fast up to nearly 30C in our tent so time te wake up. We stay an extra night on this campground so we take it easy. Kim does knitting and Arjan some bike maintenance. In the afternoon we cycle back the quarter mile to the Flagg Range grocery store. We eat something, hang around and are finally able to book the shuttle bus from Jackson, Wyoming to Vail in Colorado. The internet in Flagg Range is one of the slowest ever but the booking works out good in the end.
Because we’re running out off visa we gonna skip the more boring South Wyoming part to have more time in the National Parks in the south of the country.
The next day we leave early in the rain. First breakfast burritos at Flag Range and then the road south through Grand Teton National Park to the town of Jackson. It’s a 95km ride but there’s quite a lot to see on the way so we leave early.

Breakfast

First lake of the park.

Euh... nope, no WiFi over here. Just a nice view.

During the day we stop at several places to have a look around. On nearly every place people ask us questions and nearly every conversation is like this;

“We’re you cycled from?”
“Alaska”
“ALASKA?? No way!!”
“How long did you take that?

“About four months with some detouring”
“Wauw, amazing”
“Where you going to?”

“Al the way down to Argentina”
“NO WAY... ARGENTINA??? WHAT THE HELL. That’s amazing. Good for you!!”
“How long will that take you?”

“About one and a half year, till November 2019”
“We’re you guys from?”
“We’re from Holland”
“Oh yeah, people from Holland like to cycle, don’t they?”
“Yes they do”
“Have a nice trip then and be save!!”
“Thanks, have a good trip yourself!”

This kind of conversations we had a lot already on this trip but today it’s extreme, so many people asking.

Ready for another small talk?

The Grand Teton NP is beautiful with a long mountain range and lots of lakes to follow.
In the end of the day we enter Jackson.

To the mountains

Moose

Moose coming after us. Made this picture backwards while cycling hard away for it.

A racing cyclist joins us the last few kilometers into town with the same conversation again as above and warns us that Jackson is expensive and it’s hard to get a place to sleep. But he says also, go to the visitor center and they can probably help you. “Bye”
At the visitor center, it’s closed already so we move on to the city center in search for a Starbucks so we get WiFi and can search a campground or so online.
When we park our bikes outside the Starbucks an eight year old boy turns up with some questions what we’re doing. “Oh no.. same conversation again?” No, this conversation turns out very different. The boy is quite surprised about our stories and his younger sister and dad also hear our stories.
Dad asks “We’re you gonna stay tonight?”
“Yeah, good question, we don’t no actually and wanna go on the Starbucks WiFi to search something”
“Oh.. you can stay at our place, we have a back house we’re you can stay”
“Really? That’s awesome”
He introduces hisself as Sean, son Enzo and daughter Ivy.
We’ve bin amazed already a lot of time how friendly people can be but just being invited to some ones home by a total stranger on the street didn’t happen before.
Together we walk to their home nearby.
On the way Sean explains that Jackson is indeed quite expensive because it’s a touristic destination with lots of outdoor possibilities, a ski area and two National Parks closely. Campgrounds are hard to find and Sean and his family did invite cyclists to their house before, also pickups from the street. Their not into technology so their not on Warmshowers but have heard about it.
When we arrive at their house he shows us the back house and introduces us to Laura, his wife.
Before we even settled in they invite us to have dinner with them. How awesome!!!
The night that follows is full of good stories, Thai Curry and good Californian wine made by Seans family over there. They’re super outdoor minded and traveled a lot. They’re also quite familiar with South America and particularly Argentina/Patagonia so have a lot of good advices for when we are going there.

Our stay for the next three days.

Making new friends

The next day we explore Jackson. We found it a nice place. Together with Fairbanks and Whitehorse one of our favorites so far.

In town

In the evening Laura & Sean invited us to go with them for dinner in town with friends, Ian & Bef.
They also have tickets for a live concert afterwards but because the concert is sold out we can’t go with them there.
Dinner is gonna be Thai Curry (again) the restaurant is partly outdoors, the atmosphere is chill and the food really good.
After the dinner we walk up with the four of them to the concert theater to say good bye to them over there.
Outside the theater a guy offers us a free ticket because his friend can’t go. Another girl shows up with a left over ticket as well for the regular price. So in the end we have two tickets half price 🤘
The band/artists who are playing are unknown for us but it turns out we like them a lot.
Joshua James as kickoff artist and Gregory Alanisakov as main act. We have an unexpected great evening and drink some beers with Bef and Ian in the back house at the end.

The next morning, the sun is on already and pretty good weather. We supposed to organize things for tomorrow morning when we take the shuttle bus to Vail, Colorado at 9 am. But because the weather is so good Laura asks us to go with them to a nice lake in the national park for some canoeing, sub-boarding and relaxing. “Sounds good to us, we can organize later in the evening”
On our way to the lake Laura calls a few bicycle stores to hear if they have leftover cycle boxes. One has one box... hmmm so one to go.
We decide to pick up the box on the way back and make a second box out of carton from the recycle depot. For now, the lake is calling☀️
The lake we’re going to is in the mountains and we’re expected it should be crowded because the nice weather, but it’s not. We’re the only one there... awesome 😎
The rest of the day we fill with relaxing and paddle boarding. Bef & Ian, and their kids Zoey & Cabo come enjoy us as well. Later on a few more friends come over too.

Boarding...

On the beach

When the sun goes down we drive back to town and pick up the bike box and some carton.
At home Arjan starts dissembling and packing the bikes. Kim and Laura go shopping for some food.
They also go checking some spots in town for a second bike box and luckily they find one.
We pack the rest of our stuff, eat Mexican style lasagna and Sean points out some spots on our South America maps were to go when we’re there.
The next morning Laura and Ivy drops us off at the bus stop at nine.
So sad we have to say goodbye to so many people we really like...

Say goodbye 🙁

Our shuttle bus will take us to Vail in Colorado. The ride, including three stopovers, will take 29 hours. From Vail we will cycle through Colorado, west to Utah to ride a lot of famous parks like Bryce Canyon, Zion NP, Grand Canyon, and so on... Will be continued...

Cycling Yellowstone National Park

When we arrive at the Wagon Wheel RV Park in the town of West Yellowstone we’ve been promised we can camp on a small RV spot. The campground office is a bit of a mess since the Chinees owner is in China at the moment and a Spanish lady has to organize the campground while the owner in China also takes reservations and puts them in the booking system. The Spanish lady is very friendly but stressed out about everything what’s going wrong.
We end up in front of a permanent caravan, hidden between some trees for the coming two nights.
We’ve planned a day without cycling before entering the park and we spend our day off with some site seeing in West Yellowstone. It’s quite a large village with lots to see. As in the rest of Montana it’s has a bit of a Wild West look.

WiFi / Wiefie at the bookstore

The day after the plan is to cycle to the Madison State Campground, just 25km inside the park so we take it easy. First we check the internet in a small cosy bookstore with a coffee bar. That’s where we also meet Ben. Ben is an Australian guy, living in the US and is cycling through Yellowstone on a two week trip. His plan for the night is also Madison so we will meet him again.
The road into the park is nice but still filled up with cars. This park sees 4,4 million visitors a year but luckily we’re a bit off season so it’s not as busy as it used to be in high season.

Going into the park also means entering another state.

Off the beaten tracks

Fisherman

Kim starts knitting her first project.

Ranger Stories at night.

Trying to warm up in the morning.

Should they expect some food from the bearbox?

At Madison a sign says “Campground Full”.
We try to check in anyway because we have a small tent. The nice lady behind the desk tells us “we never turn off hikers and biker so we have a spot for you. And in the morning we will have coffee and tea for you as well” Awesome👍
She shows Kim our camp spot, which is right behind the office and in the mine while Ben shows up as well on his racing bike with panniers. After he’s checked in as well he takes the spot right beside us. We chat a lot and in the evening, together we go to the amphitheater close to the campground for a park ranger talk about the beavers in the park.
When we wake up the next morning we head to the office for hot coffee and tea. The guy at the office is very friendly and he makes good coffee.

Ben from New Zealand (living in the States)

The Old Faitfull is our destination for today. It’s the most popular geyser of the park and a small village is built around it with gift shops, hotels and restaurants. It’s about 30km from Madison but on the way there is a lot to see. Thermal springs, geysers and other thermal activity. We take the scenic ride along a river full of waterfalls. Halfway we meet Dan and Dora from San Diego, near the Mexican border. They like cycling as well but are now here with their camper van. They invite us to come over to their house for a nice meal, a bed and a shower when we close by. “Then you can go into Mexico clean and well feed” Dora jokes. That’s a nice offer.

We swap address and cycle on. After a while we find ourselves on a cycling trail between lots of big bisons. Some are pretty close to the trail and are scary to past since they can be unpredictable and are huge! We survive the bison challenge and see the first colorful hot springs in a distance coming up. And after this first one even more hot springs and geysers come up. It’s really an amazing landscape as you walk on the moon.

The small ride takes hours and hours because we stop so many times to look around everywhere.
It’s already late in the afternoon when we arrive at the Old Faitfull. We know there’s no campground around here so we have to decide what to do. Rush around Old Faitfull and cycle on till late to the next town behind two great divide mountain passes and camp there or try to get a cheap room in one of the hotels and spend an extra day around Old Faitfull tomorrow. We choose option two and check the prices off the rooms. Luckily we find a room that fits in our budget. It’s a room in the stylish Old Faitfull Inn. The largest wooden structure in the world, more then hundred years old. The rest of the evening we hang around in the hotel where is so much to see due the magnificent style of the building.

Our stay for tonight

Photo editing...

Live music

When we wake up the next day the sun is shining already. A nice to see all the famous geysers and colorful hot puts in the area. We spend nearly whole day wondering around but with in mind that we still have to cycle over the two great divide mountain passes at the end of the day to reach West Tumb/Grand Village.
When we’re done with all the thermal stuff we hop on the our bikes again. The next town is calling. It’s really a wonderful ride and the two mountain passes? We take them for granted. When we finally reach the campground the road to it is blocked with a sign “Area Closed”

Rainbow colors

The Old Faitfull Geyser is populair

On to the first pass

First pass

Second pass

Empty campgrounds are a bit spooky.

We have no other choice than to go on the closed campground.
It’s quite a big campground and it looks like a ghost town when nobody it there. We find ourselves a nice hidden spot to camp on and start cooking. In about 100m we see elks passing by over the campground. Wow!!
The night that follows is dark and freezing cold with millions of stars above us. We hear the elks walking around and making elk noises all night long. Sometimes they sound pretty closely, than we turn on a light so they can see our tent and don’t walk over it. In the morning squirrels start to try steel food out of our tent but there isn’t any food in our tent, it’s all safely locked up in the bear box outside.
It’s still freezing when we pack up our tent to leave the place early so we don’t get words with a park ranger or so. When we pass the “Area Closed” sign again, this time from the other side a worker just rides up the campground, followed by a park ranger. We got out just in time 😬

Food in the bearbox

Freezing at night

Closed? Not for us 🙂

We didn’t had breakfast jet so we head to the store. At the store we meet two other cyclists. Or actually three, they carrying a nine month old baby girl with them as well. Wow, another cycling baby in just one week time. They are Stephan from Germany and Monika from Poland. The little girl is called Hanna. We sit in front of the store for nearly a hour having a great time chatting and swapping ideas about bicycles and traveling. They started their trip in Jasper, Canada a few months ago and planned to ride till December somewhere in the south of the US.
They told us they had the same camping problem as we had last night but they went to the ranger station and one of the rangers took them home to sleep there. Stephan and Monika wanna hitchhike to the Old Faitfull today to have a look around there and wanna hitchhike back at the end of the day so they’re a little bit in a rush now and we swap contacts and say goodbye. Nice couple, we hope to meet again.
We drink another tea and coffee at the shop and start cycling south to the exit of Yellowstone National Park. While we cycle we hit another great divide mountain pass and many beautiful lakes, waterfalls, winding rivers and deep canyons. Bye bye Yellowstone, Hello Teton National Park, which is just a bit south of here.

Yellowstone Lake

Monika, Stephan and nine month old Hanna.

Another Divide Mountain Pass

Empty beaches along beautiful lakes along the road.

Blue
Red
Green
Yellow
Autumn 🙂

Hidden Canyons

Grand Teton NP in a distance... Will be continued!!!

Cycling Montana

Our next destination after Glacier National Park, were we are now, is Yellowstone National Park, about 700km south of here. We don’t have an exact time schedule when we want to be there but we don’t want to take it to long. The road out of St. Mary starts climbing straight away, out of the valley.

Long lonesome roads.

Native art along the road

We leave the big mountains of Glacier NP behind us and as we cycle the landscape changes quite fast from real mountains into a dry hilly landscape filled with low grasslands in autumn colors. In the late afternoon we ride into a construction area so we have to take a pilot car. We have a flashback to Alaska where we’ve bin put in pilot cars multiple times because road constructions. 🚧🚧🚧
The pilot car is just a two seater so Arjan has to be in the trunk with the bicycles. As we ride we see a grizzly crossing the road. Our first grizzly in a few months cycling in the north.

In the Pilot Car

The Pilot Car is just a two seater, guess who has to go in the back...

Made it.

After the five mile lift we move on. Trees are hard to find in this area so just hiding a tent along the roadside is gonna be difficult today. We head for the small town of Browning. A town filled with native Indian people. (The pilot car driver was from Browning as well and belonged to the Black Food Tribe and told Kim all about it)
When we arrive in Browning we see a big sign with “Lone Wolf Campground”. When we enter the place just one caravan is camping there and the reception is closed with a sign “When we’re not there, find yourself a spot and we’ll see you in the morning”
Hmmm ok, no problem. A nice spot along a small water is found easily and we put up our tent, take a shower, cook and wonder the amazing sunset above the mountains in the distance.

Amazing Sunsets

Follow, follow the sun
And which way the wind blows.
When this day is done.
Breathe, breathe in the air
Set your intentions
Dream with care
Tomorrow is a new day for everyone,
Brand new moon, brand new sun - Xavier Rudd

In the morning there’s still no one there at the reception and even when we leave at 11am the reception is still closed. Weird but thanks for the free campsite.
When we cycle through Browning it looks like a Wild West Movie but with some year 2018 ingredients like cars, roundabouts, neon signs and supermarkets. Fun to see and we like the style. We imagine how Clint Eastwood shoots one of the bad guys in a gunfight.

Wild wild west.

We leave town and a windy wild west landscape is gonna be our view for the rest of the day. We’ve no idea where we will end up today but we got used to that insecure feeling a while ago already so we don’t care at all and paddle just so far as we want and can.
During the day we pass a small country shop. We stop for a drink but when we go inside the lady with the long grey hair seems to have also a separate part in the shop for knitting. She tells they grow their own Merino sheeps and the wool of them she sells in the shop in hundreds of different colors. All this reminds Kim on the knitting she did with her grandma when she was a kid. Kim had the wish for a while already to pick up the knitting again but while on the road it’s not that easy. This little shop is the solution for this and Kim buys some fine merino wool, knitting sticks and some instructions since her last time knitting is maybe already thirty years ago or so. She has to learn it again.
When we leave the small country shop Kim feels like it’s her birthday with nice presents.

Kim happy in front of the knitting store.

We ride on to the town of Choteau were we find a campground. It’s already late when we arrive and the lady at the reception offers us to camp in the tipi which was supposed to be available anyway. That’s a nice offer. We don’t have to put up the tent and we feel like Hiawatha.

We don't no why but here a bunch stuffed animals.

Road works but no pilot cars this time

Taking photos

Sunset

Is this Africa?

We might be watch out for cowbows tonight.

Arjans first flat tire after 5000+ km

When we start cycling the next day we have lots of headwinds and we go slow. On the maps and on none of our navigation apps is some kind of campground or so to see. The coming night will be a surprise again. We ride on and ride on... slowly.

Bike problems

In the afternoon, with just 40km on the counter we past the small Wild West town of Augusta. The town seems to be pretty laid back with not much to do or to see but with a pub halfway and the sign “campground”.
When we park our bikes in front of the pub the owner comes outside and asks us if we need a camp-spot or a bed for the night. That’s a nice surprise, a hidden campground which is not known on any map our navigation app.
As we go inside the pub the owner makes himself known as Adam and he tells he bought the whole place; pub, restaurant and campground just a few months ago.
The atmosphere in the pub feels good and we order a beer. It’s Saturday afternoon so it’s a good time for it. We chat with some random people and after a while Adam offers us to eat with them. There is enough for everybody and we don’t have pay for it. The lasagna tastes good and in the meanwhile Adam tells his story about colored people, Mexicans, why he hates ex president Obama, guns and America who’s saving the world all the time without getting a thank you. We guess, he definitely likes Trump.
On the dinner table are also two guys who are walking the Continental Divide Trail which leads from the Mexican to the Canadian border. Nemo from France and George from South Korea. They’re having a few days off in this small town. We like the interesting stories they have to tell.
After dinner Adam shows us our camp spot. We put up tent, shower, hang around a bit and go back to the pub.

George who's is walking the Appalachian Trail. The AT is a classic American walk in the woods, stretching 2,185 miles from lowly old Springer Mountain in Georgia to the grandiose summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

Our backyard for tonight

The night that follows is fun and with an interesting mix of Trump fans, native Americans and Mexico lovers. With honey IPA’s, tequila shots and Johnny Cash on the jukebox.
The morning after we’re still good and go out early. A long ride to Helena is ahead of us. The most interesting part is, we have to take 60km of freeway to get in Helena and technical seen your not aloud to cycle on freeways. Maybe we sleep in jail tonight, maybe in Helena. As usual, we never know where we end up at the end of the day.

Going down. I Like 🙂

Lonely Roads

After the first 60km on the highway we see the freeway in a distance. We don’t see a sign of “cycling not allowed” or something like that so we move on. Freeway it is, hopefully we don’t see any cops for the next 60km.

Saloon at Wolf Creek.

Riding on the Interstate / Freeway

The freeway is quite good cycling. The traffic is a little bit faster than on highways but the shoulders of the road are much wider so it’s safer to cycle on in our optic.
The road winds though a constantly landscape. Hills becomes mountains and becomes hills again. We have long stretches up and a long stretch down into the city of Helena. We make it to Helena without seeing any cop so we have to find a campground rather than sleeping in a jail 😬
Campgrounds in and around Helena seems to be a bit of a problem. It’s quite a big city so campgrounds are far out of town and the ones closer by are closed down. Since we did quite a stretch today we don’t feel much for another many kilometers for some sleeping.
After searching on different maps we find some info on the Great Divide Mountain Bike maps about a fairground with spots to camp on. We give it a try. The fairgrounds are quite big and it takes us some time to find the camp spots. It’s nearly dark when we put our tent and cook some dinner. We fall a sleep straight after.

Camping on the Helena Fairgrounds

On the Helena Fairgrounds

Fairgrounds breakfast

Farewell to the fairground
These rides aren't working anymore
Goodbye to this dead town
Until the ice begins to thaw. - White Lies.

Because it was quite a long day yesterday we take it more easy today. After just 55km we settle down in Townsend, along a beautiful but windy lake.
Because we arrive early we just hang around a bit the rest of the afternoon.

Lake...?

Packing up... again

When we’re on the road the next day, in a distance we see some cyclists along the road with a bicycle trailer behind one of the bikes. When we’re close by we stop to make a chat. It’s always fun and interesting to hear others stories and cycling plans. It’s seems to be a couple. The guy with a cowboy had stands at his bike with trailer, the girl sits along the road in the grass with her back facing to us. When she turns around we see what she is doing. She is giving breast to a very small four month old baby.
And their story; Havi from Spain and Sunny from Taiwan planned to cycle from Canada to Argentina but Sunny got pregnant and Ferdinand came two months before they took off for their big cycling trip. And now they’re cycling with the three of them to Argentina in two years time.
We found it quite crazy and amazing story and they were thinking about a second baby while traveling 😲 Wow amazing.
We chatted for a while and got each others contact info. Since we’re going the same way maybe we meet again down south.

Check four month old Ferdinand on her back.

When we moved on with just the two of us we discus the whole little baby thing in a bicycle trailer along these busy and sometimes dangerous roads.
So many amazing people we meet with most of the time crazy, funny, interesting and unique ideas about traveling, about life.

The plan for today is to sleep in Manhattan. No, not in New York but here in Montana. A small town but with a RV Park according our map.
The road leads through nice places but when we arrive on the RV Park in Manhattan the lady tells us they don’t do tenters anymore. “But” she says “maybe you can free camp in the local park our at the school where are some bushes to hide in”
“Euh, yeah right, thanks”

Farm entrance

Sometimes a nice cycling pad just end up in .... nothing

New York... New York...

When we cycle back in town, no idea where to go we see a police car with the window open and a cop inside.
Arjan stops at the car and explains the whole story to the cop in hope he has some better ideas.
They guy is very friendly and helpful but doesn’t have any useful suggestions in the end. We move and decide to try to find a spot along a river about 5km out of town. Since all land in the area is private owned it’s probably not allowed but hey, we have to sleep somewhere. We wait till it gets a little darker before we head to the river and indeed we find a nice spot for camping. We hide a much as possible and don’t use our flashlights. The railroad is just 50m from us and so now and then it sounds like a big train is running through our tent.
When we wake up the next morning some guys are already working just on the other side of the narrow river. We pack up our tent, they don’t see us and we sneak away.

Our illegal spot along the railway.

Breakfast at the supermarket

From here we go back in the mountains. Yellowstone NP is just a two days cycle from where we are now.
The start of the road south is full of heavy road constructions and also there’s a lot of traffic on the narrowed roads. In a flash I see the Spanish guy and the Taiwan girl with little Ferdinand in the bike trailer on the same kind of roads and I get the girders at that thought.
Into the mountains the road gets better but keeps narrow. The traffic stays pretty busy which makes the cycling uncomfortable.
After some nice hills we finally reach Red Cliff Campground. A pretty nice spot.

Amsterdam... Rechtsaf!

Tiny Housing; quite populair in the US.

The road to Yellowstone

Just a farm

Autumn colored landscapes

From here it’s not a very long road of cycling anymore till we reach the town of West Yellowstone, the gate to Yellowstone NP, but the many days of cycling in a row, the sometimes long days and the mountain passes on the last day to West Yellowstone make the last kilometers pretty though.

Yellowstone, not the real entrance but we're coming close.

Wildfires coming up.

Wildfires

We definitely need some rest. In town the first thing we do is going to the visitor center to do some internet research about campgrounds in town. We find out there are RV Parks but again, they don’t take tenters. The nice lady at the visitor center comes up with a solution. She called around a few RV Parks for us and founded a RV Park who has a small spot for a small RV where we may camp on. 👍
At the Wagon Wheel RV Park indeed we get a spot, not at a RV spot as promised but on the veranda of a permanent camper. We don’t care, we have a spot for the coming two nights that’s all what matters. 😊

Our spot before we enter Yellowstone National Park

Hiking & Biking Glacier National Park

After checking in at the KAO campground in St. Mary with one of the most unfriendly ladies behind the desk ever we set up our tent. “Hmmm Holland... is that somewhere in Germany?” She asked. “Euh, no, World War II ended up the good way lady!” 🤨
Anyway, we sit in front of our tent and discussing the rest of our route through The States. A man with a dog passes by and starts a chat with us. He explains, he wants to go hiking tomorrow to a glacier in the National Park but he doesn’t wanna go up just by himself and is looking for company. He invites us to go with him. He has a car so moving around on the mountain roads is no problem at all. We agree.
When he’s nearly leaving, he introduces hisself as Ray from South Africa.
Ray and his wife Jacqui and two little daughters came to the US on greencards to immigrate from South Africa to the United States. But before they really are going to settle here somewhere they bought a big camper van to live in for a while and they’re now driving around the states for more then a year already seeing the country and make a decision were to settle. We make an arrangement with Ray to be at their RV by nine in the morning to go out for some hiking.

Our campground in St. Mary.

When we arrive at their RV the next morning we meet Jacqui and also the two daughters Mila and Sophia.
They stay around the RV today for the first day of homeschooling for this season. Ray packs his backpack and we’re off to the visitor center for some hiking information in the area. We decide to go out for a hike to Grinnell Glacier. The car takes us there in a 30min drive. The 8,5km hike is quite nice with great views over lakes and valleys. It goes quite steep up. The total elevation is 550m up.
Ray is pretty fit for someone who drives the whole country in a big RV, at some parts we can hardly keep up with him. We’re cyclists, not mountain goats 😲

Start Hiking...

Mirror mirror on the wall...

In a far distance you can see the Grinnell Glacier, our destination today.

Ray...

Lower Grinnell Lake

Steep stairs up

Lower Grinnell Lake

On the edge

At the top of the trail we’re sitting along the Grinnell Glacier lake. Pretty awesome for a lunch.
Ray hiked in the same area yesterday with his family but not up to the glacier. He tells he wants to run down to watch for a doll his daughter left behind along one of the lakes. When Arjan hears this story he remembers a doll laying along the first lake we saw down in the valley. Ray regrets he didn’t tell this story earlier.
Anyway Ray still runs the whole 8,5km and 550m down to find that doll for his daughter.
We hike the trail down to meet him again at the car. Glacier NP is really an awesome area for hiking.

Grinnell Glacier

Upper Grinnell Lake

No, that's not us 😉

Climbing up and down

When we meet Ray again he gladly found back the little doll.
On the way back to the campground he invites us to have dinner together with the whole family. The night together was great with good conversations and the Thai food they cooked was awesome. Even Arjan did eat salmon and liked it.

Dinner in the RV

Ray, Jacqui, Sophia and Mila ready for taking off again.

Bye bye... save travels guys!!!

The next day we move just a few kilometers to another campground inside the Glacier National Park. We are early so now there is a free spot for us. The weather is great and we take the free shuttle bus to the Logan Pass, deep inside the park. Normally the shuttle bus does the whole park but because the wildfires half the park is closed down. From the pass we hike to Hidden Lake and from the viewing point over there we see the wildfires burning in a distance.

Classy Transport

Hiking to Hidden Lake

Pink mountain flowers

Another trail visitor

Wildfires in a distance. Hidden lake in the front.

At the end of the day we take the shuttle back to the campground.
The nights over here are dark because there is hardly any lightning in the area from cities or so. Tonight the sky is clear and the moon is not there. Thats why the nightly sky is filled with millions of stars and the Milky Way can be seen clearly tonight. Amazing ✨✨

Amazing nights

The next morning we wake up while the sky is still clear, not with stars but with clear blue and sun.
We take it easy today, pack up and go to the visitor center for the last time to check our email and social media stuff. After that we do some last grocery shopping and hit the road again, this time to Yellowstone National Park about 700km from here.

Packing up again to hit the long road to Yellowstone NP.

Cowboys and Blood Tribe Indians

We recovered a few days in Banff before we took off on the GDMBR, The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. The longest mountain bike route in the world.... they say...
It starts in Banff, or at least it started in Banff till 2017, now it starts even more up north in Jasper. But we start the route from Banff. The route follows the great divide south. The great divide divides the US continent in two parts. On the west side of the great divide all rivers flow out in the Pacific Ocean, on the east side all rivers flow out in the Atlantic Ocean. Through this massive mountain range the GDMBR winds 4400km over gravel and single trail tracks all the way to Mexico. It’s not our plan to stick to the route all the time but to visit as much National Parks close to the GDMBR as possible. More south we probably even completely leave the route because we wanna end up in San Diego at the west coast so we can go over to Mexico’s Baja California.

But before all that we’re still in Banff and slowly cycling south to find the start of the GDMBR. There aren’t any signs to or along the route, you have find it yourself by maps or gps. We’ve loaded the complete route in our gps so finding the start, at a parking just behind a luxury hotel, is no problem.
The route immediately winds over a small track up into the woods, following a stream up. After just a few hundred meter we decided to take out our to warm jackets and take some photos.

GDMBR kick off

An older couple comes down on mountain bikes at the same time and starts a conversation because we’re not cycling on standard mbt’s but on fully loaded bikes and that makes people always curious.
We’re telling our story and they tell they’re from Queenstown, New Zealand and are here in Canada to visit family. They also tell they travelled al lot over the world with their kids in the old days, giving them home schooling along the way.
After saying goodbye we wind further up into the mountains. The scenery is beautiful but the track is rough and hard to cycle. We hope it’s gonna be more easy otherwise we’re not gonna make it into Mexico before the beginning of November when our long term US visa is ending.
After a while the track becomes even tougher but happily ends up on a wide gravel road after that.

On the GDMBR

Since we’re still in a National Park we’re not allowed to camp just wherever we want so we have to go on till a campground is found. Our app shows a small campground along a big lake. That’s gonna be our goal for today!
And indeed, after loads of gravel we find the nice back country campground along a beautiful lake.
As usual it’s a self register campground again. When we’re putting up our tent and start cooking some dinner another couple cycles into the campground. They’re not on normal bikes, not on mountain bikes, no they’re on a tandem mountain bike, packed with panniers and all other stuff. Amazing. They tell us they’re cycling the GDMBR as well and they’re kicked off from Hinton, near Jasper. Today they started in Banff as we did. We can’t believe you doing such a trip on a tandem but they’re happy with it for so far. But in their stories we can hear they walked and pushed up the bike a lot today. Again, amazing!

Along the lake

Dinner

Our Campground

Have a good look to see the tandem riders.

In the morning we say goodbye to them but halfway the day we see them again when we have some lunch along the road.

Fully packed tandem on the GDMBR.

Because of the rough gravel road we still go slowly, to slowly, so we decide to look for a faster route going south. After searching on our maps and in our gps we find an alternative, parallel at the great divide a bit more to the east but over asphalt roads.
“Cheat Mode On” 🤘

Goats...

Bears? We didn't see any!

Bye

As soon we hit the asphalt the road starts to climb up and up, and even more up. What the 🤬!!!
The higher we go the stronger the headwind becomes and we find out after a long time of climbing the top of the pass is at 2286m.
At the top we nearly blown off our bikes and a little rain starts.

Up up up!

Finaly the top of the pass

So rain jackets on, head down and go go... down hill in full speed. After 10km from the top we find a spot along the road, behind some bushes to set up our tent for the night. We cook, eat and fall asleep. Somewhere in the middle of the night we hear some wolves in a distance. We turn around and sleep further.
When we wake up the weather is good and since we’re still coming from the pass the road down goes fast, very fast.

Find our tent.

Hi...!

Going down fast.

Half way the day we drink some at a lonely gas station and we go further down in high speed. This day is definitely the opposite from yesterday. Fast and sun instead of slow and rainy. Because we cycle out of the mountain range we hit more farm land and in the beginning of the afternoon we hit Highway 22 again. The Cowboy Trail which we left further up north to cycle a big detour through Banff National Park.
In Longview we find a nice campground and because we drove so hard it’s still in the afternoon so we have some nice spare time to do.... nothing ☀️

Cows on the raod

Doing some dishes

Alberta Beef

Back on the Cowboy Trail

Next day: What goes down has to go up again. We descended a lot yesterday so we have to go up again today on the Cowboy Trail. The wind is ahead and the road south is busy. It’s warm weather, it’s Friday and it seems everybody in Calgary, north of us, wants to spend the weekend in Waterton Lake and Glacier National Park, south of us. The whole day the road is so busy and noisy we hardly speak each other. Not the best day of cycling, at all.

Count the caps. There were five meadows with these caps... maybe a few thousand caps.

Farms along the way

Range Entrance

Because all the farmland, wild camp along the road is not an option. We find a small campground along a nice river to camp on. It’s a simple state campground with just a pit toilet and no showers but we can sleep after all the noise of the day and that’s all what matterZzz...

Tiny campground after a noisy day.

The day after the roads goes along in the same way but with lesser traffic then yesterday. Our goal for today is Pincher Creek, a bit bigger town with proper stores and a campground called Sleep Hollow.
The owner of Sleep Hollow tells us the winter is coming soon now and in wintertime it can get as low as minus forty degrees celsius here.
Hmmm... I guess we have to go south fast and soon!!
We camp along the small river which turns into a small glacier in wintertime if we may believe our campground owner.

Sleep Hollow Campground

The next morning we depart late and after just one and a half hour cycling we see a Mexican restaurant in the middle of nowhere. A good one for a cup of coffee we guess. Inside it’s quite busy, it must be good then. When we stay inside and discuss some a guy on the bar next to us starts talking to us in Dutch. He introduces himself as Harry from Emmen in Holland. He and his wife Anja moved to Canada with their two daughters about eight years ago. All four of them were sitting at the bar waiting for being seated. We move outside with our coffee and Mountain Dew.
After not even five minutes Anja comes outside to invite us to join them inside for good stories and a big plate of nacho ships.
Because we started late today, the road is slow and we wanna make it till close to the US border tonight we’re in doubt to go inside with Anja.
But as we always say in Dutch “Gezelligheid kent geen tijd” we go with her. I think we sat there for nearly two hours, much to long according to our schedule, but we had a really good time with them and laughed a lot about all stupid Canadian things. Harry & Anja, we hope to see you guys again someday, somewhere!!!
After big goodbyes it’s five thirty already and we still have fifty kilometers to go with a big climb at the end.
But with good feelings about this day and the nice people we met, and after the nice nachos off course we just go. Go till the end, till we make it. We ride through Blood Tribe Indian country and the sun sets behind Chief Mountain with great views over the beautiful lakes of Waterton National Park. It’s already dark when we arrive at Belly River Campground just four kilometers before the border. But we have made it. What a day 😊

Look at my horse
My horse is amazing
Give it a lick
Ooo, it tastes just like raisins

Kim bitten by a...

Waterton Lake NP in a distance.

Long shadows in the evening

Blood Tribe Indians Country.

Chief Mountain

Sunset over Blood Tribe Indians Country

At the border the next day it goes quite easy. The big officer with a German accent asks us not to much and we’re in. In the US 🇺🇸 again, after our Alaska adventure.
When we started cycling this morning the weather was quite warm so we started in shorts and shirts. From the border the road goes down and the lower we come, the colder it gets. By the time we’re out of the mountains it’s just nine degrees celsius with a bit of rain ahead. We won’t stop now in the cold, we will stop in warm place so we move on, half frozen.

US Border

Hello Montana

At the tiny village of Bapp we find a Mexican Restaurant (Mexican again) for a coffee and a hot chocolate. When we see the menu we order big warm burritos as well. To warm up again we sit in the container build restaurant for nearly two hours before we hit the road again for the last small stretch to St. Mary. St Mary, the gateway to the eastern part of Glacier National Park and the start of the “Going-to-the-Sun Road” our destination for today.
When we arrive at the visitor center of the National Park the lady tells us the campground in the park is closed for tenters because of bears and the campground just before the park is full. “But in town are some commercial campgrounds” she says.
We end up at the KOA campground, indeed commercial and way to expensive for what you get.

Campground in St. Mary, the gateway to Glacier National Park.
We stayed here for a couple of days. Stories are coming soon 😉

The Rough Denali Highway

From Healy to Cantwell

Tuesday, May 29
We pack the tent that we placed in the garden of Peggy. (Peggy is a friend of Robin our warmshowers host drom Fairbanks) Unfortunately we did not see her and her husband anymore. They had gone camping in Homer and would come home late with their camper. We expected them to come back around 10 o'clock in the evening, but eventually it was not until about 3 in the morning. Because we did not see them when we leave around 10.00 am we put down a thank you note with two twowheelfreedom straps.
Before we leave Healy we first go to the post office. We have chosen things that we will no longer use or what we expect not to use at all. We send them home permanently so that we can save weight on our bikes. It is pretty busy at the post office on a regular Tuesday morning, but in the end it is arranged pretty quickly. Outside we are addressed by a woman who is curious about what we do. We tell that we are cycling from Alaska to Argentina and she likes it very much. She used to live in Wiseman and she always used to see many more cyclists like us over there. Since she lives in Healy she does not see many cyclists anymore and that's why she thinks it's all the more fun to see us. She wishes us success after which we say goodbye.

The Healy Post Office

Arjan and I get on the bike for the first stage towards Cantwell.
Fortunately, it is nice weather. In Cantwell there is a Campground where we still want to stand before we go on the Denali Highway the next day.
The sun is shining today only there is a strong head wind that gives us a hard time. The road is also good to ride in terms of mountains. If the wind alone would not be so hard we could be a lot faster, but okay we cannot complain to much.
Somewhere half way the route is a nice parking lot with a viewpoint where we can sit in the sun and out of the wind. We enjoy that nicely. We take some afternoon food here: bread with Mayonnaise, cheese and lettuce and keep a short siesta.
It is time to go further. Just before we arrive at the Denali parkroad (road that goes into the Denali national park to see the Denali Mountain) we go through a kind of mini village with lots of merchandise shops, lodges, restaurants and hotels for all tourists who are visiting the Denali park.
We have already decided that we will not enter the park because "just" cycling back and forth to the Denali Mountain will take us more than two days. Plus the Denali Highway is also so beautiful that we think it will not have much added value for us. When we are about 12.5 miles (20 km) away from Cantwell we see a nice Lodge with a nice terrace where we have a drink and enjoy the sun. It is so nice here in the sun that we definitely sit and enjoy an hour here. We start at the last stage to Cantwell.

The first mountains showing up.

From Healy to Cantwell. Still paved road but not so long anymore.

We are almost at the Campground and then Kim gets another flat tire. The second one already this trip! To bad, especially because we are less than (3km) 1,9 miles away from the campsite. We change the inner tube again for a new one and it has to be fixed again later. Once at the campsite we set up the tent and Arjan starts cooking. Kim prepares the sleeping stuff as usual and then goes to the repair the pinched inner tube so that we can use it again. We also have neighbors at the campsite who are also on bicycles, but unfortunately they are not very talkative. After dinner we wash and brush our teeth.
We dive into the tent for a wonderful night's sleep.

Arriving at the campsite

Camping in Cantwell

"I will be your chef today, please place your order"


Off on the Denali Highway

Wednesday, May 30,
We start the day with a delicious shower. This will not be possible again in the coming days because same as the Dalton Highway there are not enough facilities on the Denali Highway. Again it will not possible to stand on the campsite every day and that is why unfortunately showering is not possible. We speak to one of the two girls who are next to us briefly. She comes from California and cycles from Cantwell with her not so talkative friend to Healy and probably further on to the north. She tells us that her friend has been coming from Anchorage and we understand that she has been on the bicycle for some time. The friend in question clearly does not want to talk to us so unfortunately we do not know how and what else. It is a pity, usually cyclists among each other are always interested in what the other person is doing, so it is very odd for us to see that it also can be different.
We pack our stuff again and Arjan cuts Kim her hair for. That was already necessary months ago so now a big part of her hair has to be cut off.
We decide that we want some bread for breakfast. We go to the local supermarket along the road where we passed last night. Having arrived there, they unfortunately do not have what we want. Kim will get a coffee to go of course! So then we eat the sausages from the night before only with some lettuce and left over mayo.
After breakfast we cycle to the beginning of the Denali Highway. The first piece is still paved, so it is easy to cycle. We are told that you are not allowed to camp the first 10 miles because that is part of a native reservation. We are going over that easily today so we do not worry about that.

Bye Bye Cantwell.

The route along this road is indeed impressive as promised. Beautiful nature and beautiful views with snowy mountains in the background. The gavel road is good to cycle but the stones and the sand is a lot looser than we are used to from the Dalton Highway. Not surprising, of course, because there is also much less traffic and let alone mega trucks. This is mainly a tourist route where mainly campers, cars and cyclists like us go over. That also gives the advantage that it is nice and quiet cycling.
Unfortunately it gets a little rainy in the day.

Denali Highway map

Just out of Cantwell, heading to the mountains.

The Alaska Range Mountains

We are on a mountain and one of the cars that passed us earlier also stops with us. A young guy gets out. He is interested in what we do. We tell what we do and he finds it completely cool. He tells us that we are standing in the middle of a historic point where the native tribes used to come to hunt for caribou. This is because at this point they had a nice view to see the caribou. The point where we are is also exactly the separation between two areas. It is the separation between Denali Borough and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. He also tells us that the king salmons swim up against the current from Anchorage and they follow the Susitna River. Those salmon swim up to the Yanert Glacier, where the Susitna River is formed.
He also asks us what we eat and whether we have lost a lot of weight. He shows us that he has just picked from all kinds of plants (or parts of plants) that are good to eat. He shows us that he has picked ferns that are not yet budded. You have to cook these first, then they are the tastiest. He also has Devils club. These are prickly plants where at the end there is a kind of bud that you can take off (but look out for the thorns!) You can eat this as well so we taste a bit. It tastes surprisingly good. You can also boil or steam this plant. He also has Fireweat. All these plants contain a lot of protein, making it a good natural supplement to your diet here in the outdoor of Alaska. Nice to talk to this guy and especially very interesting. His name is Tim, he now has a seasonal job at the airport of Anchorage as a wildlife expert. In the autumn he goes back to school to continue his education and finish it. Tim goes into the field where the caribou hunting used to take place. He hopes to find some horns from caribou there.

Native drawings

Tim Bembenic; Met on the Denali Highway. Awesome guy and with great knowledge of nature, wildlife and geographic.

We continue our journey on the bicycles in the rain. From now on, it will continue to rain. Arjan suddenly sees something crazy moving and asks Kim; “What is that!” It is a porcupine. How beautiful! The porcupine quickly runs away from the road, but is still so curious that it stops and looks back to observe us. Arjan has been standing with his camera in his hand for a while and is able to so get a picture from the front. Awesome!

Porcupine

Moments later Tim passes us again and again later he is standing on a super nice viewing point. He gestured to us that he sees a moose. We step off of our bikes and climb up on the viewpoint. The view alone is phenomenal! We are looking but it is difficult to find the moose. So it is a long search and we spend a long time looking together and enjoying the view. And yes!! We see some movement. It is unfortunately not super good to photograph, but we do an attempt anyway. Then they start moving a bit more so we get a little better view. Super cool to see of course. Tim tells us that the moose is very protective when they have youngsters against. The bears hunt the youngsters. When bears try to attack the moose stamp very hard with their front legs to scare off the bear. The moose are also the only ones of the hoofed animals that can kick ahead so that if they are attacked by a bear they can sell them a proper kick.
We are starting to get cold because we have been in the wind for a while now with our thin cycling clothing. Tim says he is driving to Paxson and we decide to cycle a bit before we set up our tent. We still see beautiful mountains with foothills of glaciers. We are also at a height of more than 900 meters and do not seem to be able to fall to just below. We are already above the tree line again. After a while it starts raining so hard that we decide to set up the tent. The find a super nice spot where we decide to camp. We have a view over the West Fork of the Susitna Glacier.

Susitna Glacier

The wind blows very hard and Arjan secures the tent with some extra straps. He also puts some large boulders on the pegs so that we can be sure that they stay in the ground. Eventually we are in the tent after a while. Wet and cold. Kim makes the bed ready and puts on dry clothes. When the rain gets less Arjan cooks the water for our meals. In the meantime it is already about 20.30. Arjan then also changes his clothes and we crawl into our wonderfully warm sleeping bags. It takes a while before Arjan is warm again. He remains shivering and trembling for a long time, but in the end he finally gets warm again

Camp with a view.


Big Mooses and great views

Thursday, May 31.
The day starts super nice. The sun is shining. Our coats and other things are hanging to dry outside. Arjan has some "hobby" projects that he is working on this morning like making a mudguard at the bottom of Kim’s bike. We also found a license plate of Alaska along the road. This uses Arjan to pimp his own bike with. Kim is writing a bit about what we have experienced in the past few days. We start the day super relaxed and we leave very late. Around noon we are ready to go on the road again.
We enjoy beautiful views while cycling and the road goes up and down slightly. We will stay around the 800m to 900m altitude. We see some motorcyclists who pass us and we wave to each other. Some have a license plate from Alaska but there is also one with an Australian license plate.
After cycling some 15.6 miles (30 km) we see a gas station with a nice lodge. “Clearwater Mountain Lodge” is the property's name. This lodge was not mentioned on the information signs or on the internet so we are pleasantly surprised. We therefore decide to take the opportunity to have a drink here. The bar looks shut so we decided to cycle towards the reception of the lodge itself. There we are beckoned through the window by two young boys and a girl. We are more than welcome and can take coffee and tea. They ask what we do exactly and they are familiar with cyclists like us. Every year there are a few passing by who, like us, cycle the entire route down to Ushuaia Argentina. One of the guys named Sean told us enthusiastically about the lodge. They have built almost everything themselves. He told that this lodge was always the dream of his father, but that he unfortunately passed away. His brother and he both used to work in a different lodge so they already had experience with the work and when their father passed away they started helping their mother with their own family lodge. He tells us that he actually has a degree in IT. Over the years he has learned to do everything around the lodge like being a plumber and how to make tables and even how to build this lodge. Whatever you can think of that has to be done they do it all themselves. You almost have no choice living in such a remote area. In the past when he was still living in Chicago for his studies he was also crazy about mountain biking. He was the chairman of the mountain bike club where he organized trips to Moab for. (Moab seems to be the mecca for mountain bikers we have already been told by different people)
Since he helps his mother in the lodge, he hardly cycles anymore. Partly because he simply does not find the time for it, but also because his rim and tire of his fat bike are broken. We have already heard that in parts of Alaska it is more difficult to get stuff and there is a lot of second-hand trade. It is also often much more expensive to get there because some places are so remote.
We ask him if they get a lot of guests through the year. He tells us that in the different seasons they have a few peaks. In the summer they have many tourists from Europe, in the winter many people who ride with sled dogs and in the autumn they have many hunters as guests. We had understood that in winter the road was closed to traffic, but this information turns out to be wrong. (despite that our map indicates, “Highway closed in the winter.”) Sean says that there is certainly traffic in the winter. If the snow is not hard enough then they drive with snow machines. The road is maintained by some kind of snow machine like they use at a ski area. When the snow has become hard enough he even drives over with his "normal" car. Well with special tracks around his tires.
Every Alaskan may shoot one bear a year. That is because at one point in Alaska there were so many bears that the bears killed calves of moose that they did not even eat but just used to mark their territory. Geologists who did research found that this was due to overpopulation of the bears here. Sean says that Alaskans are not trophy hunters, so when they shoot an animal they use them entirety. We ask if they also serve the meat to their guests? That is possible, but then the meat must first be sent to Anchorage to be inspected and that of course costs a lot of money. So basically they use this meat mainly for their own consumption. The same applies to the blue berries that will soon be good and where you can pick thousands from at the side of the road. You can use this for your own consumption, but as soon as they want to use it for commercial use, it must first be checked according to the law.
When we leave, we can take two more apples and we do not even have to pay for the coffee and tea. Really very sweet! He asks us what we eat as there are not many occasions along the way where you can get food. We tell him that we have freeze-dried meals with us. He asks us if we have made it ourselves and tells us that his brother often does it for them. The meals in the store contain a lot more calories. But that does not matter to us. We really need these calories with all those distances that we cycle is also his conclusion. Unfortunately we have to say goodbye to this friendly guy and get back on our bikes.

Clear Water Lodge

We are not yet on the bicycle or it starts to hail and then rain and that continues for a while. But not much later it gets better again. The weather here between these high mountains is so crazy and changes so quickly. Occasionally you can see the rain coming from a distance. You could not possibly give a good weather forecast in this area, so changeable is the weather here. We are not going very fast. After about 28 miles (45km) on the counter we come across a lodge again. The Alpine Creek Lodge. We decide that if possible we can eat an nice dinner here. We see the Australian motorbike and the other bikes at the lodge. The guy with the Australian motorbike just arrived. He recognizes us from earlier today and we make a chat. He is also called Sean (how coincidentally!). The guys with the motorbikes eat and sleep in this lodge tonight.
Arjan walks in to ask if we can get some dinner here. That is possible, it is an "all you can eat" concept says the lady in question. Her name is Jennifer. That is great we really would like a good big meal! We take a drink first and sit outside for a while. The lodge has a great view! Plus the sun is back again so we enjoy it. Jennifer tells us that dinner is ready so we go inside. On the menu is rice with corn and beef. It tastes fine and we both take a second round. Then we get a tasty dessert; cake with cream and blueberries. It is very nice, so also take a second piece of this. We no longer see motorcyclists (from Australia). They are all in the bar that is in the lodge here. The bar was not open officially but the motor guy have closed a deal with Jennifer. They want to stay overnight, but only when the bar is opened.

Leaving in the rain

When we are ready to leave, it rains and rains again. We decide to wait for it. Fortunately, it takes about half an hour before it clears up again. In the meantime it is 19.30 so decide to cycle as long as we feel like doing. The route is super nice and cycling is easy again. Probably it is also because we have full stomachs so we have good energy again. We see a some kind of bird on the road. It looks like a pigeon, but when we get closer it is a chicken chasing a female chicken. They are disturbed by us coming so they go away. Less than ten meters further down the road we suddenly see two moose. It is a moose with a young. They are standing on the road facing each other. Eventually, when they get see us they walk slowly into the bushes. They move very slowly so Arjan can make some nice pictures. What a super nice animals. Very impressive! It gives us a lot of energy being in this beautiful environment and seeing all these beautiful animals.

Moose...

Eventually we arrive at Clearwater Creek Wayside. It is a nice spot to set our tent here. We have already cycled 12.5 miles (20 km) since dinner. The point is right after a bridge on the water. Little birds fly over the water and catch insects. They seem to be family of the swallow, but they have orange belly’s . Beautiful!
There are also toilets on this spot. Furthermore, there are no facilities here. There is also a rental camp where a guy is walking. He says something to us and turns out to from Belgium. He tells us that he is on vacation for a few weeks with his girlfriend. They have a few days before they have to go back to Belgium. He is going to take a walk. We decide to walk to the river and to the bridge to take some nice pictures. A little further down the road we see a porcupine walking. Unfortunately it does not walk in our direction. The sun disappears behind the mountains and it gets colder. Time for bed!

Campsite

Camping with a view.

Sunset


Over the Pass

Friday, June 1,
Kim did not sleep that well this night. Her toes did not get warm. Arjan says that he also looked at the thermometer in the night and it was around the freezing point inside the tent. We have not jet beenthat cold inside the tent to our knowledge.
The morning starts again very well. The sun is shining and the sky is now crystal clear again. We eat a heavy breakfast, wash some clothes in the river and brush our teeth before we leave. Today we have a mountain pass on the menu for the second time this trip. This mountain pass is slightly lower than the Atigun pass we had on the Dalton Highway but it still promises to be a nice climb. Today we only pass the Maclaren which is 4084 feet (about 1350m) high. But we did not camp directly in front of the pass so we first have to cycle a few miles. The weather is fortunately nice but the miles are not very fast. We mostly cycle uphill which makes us slow ...

Frozen lakes

Frozen lake

Just before we climb the mountain pass there is another river called the Maclaren River which means that we first have to descend a bit before we have to start the high climb to the top.
Let there be a lodge here too! So we take a rest here for a while. We drink coffee and chocolate milk so that we can get ready for the climb. In the bar area inside the lodge there are dollar bills hanging on the ceiling and walls with greetings from people who have been staying in the lodge. Tracy, the woman who manages the lodge here, tells us that it is originally from the time when there where saloons in the Wild West. She says that the people who had a drink in a saloon in that time first had to give money to the barman and that their name was written on it after witch it was pinned to the ceiling. This of course, to prevent that once they were drunk they would not be able to pay. Very funny fact.

Dollars on the walls.

Once ready for a good climb we step back on our bike. Shortly after we leave we see another moose with her young. It is always a great experience to see these beautiful animals.
The climb is not too bad. He goes up nicely gradually. You would not think you were cycling a pass. The passes we have cycled so far have always been much steeper than this one. That is a nice windfall. Somewhere halfway through the pass we meet a French couple in a rental car. They have seen us arrive cycling and the woman has already got off and makes pictures of us while we cycle upstairs as if we were celebrities. Very special but also funny experience. Meanwhile, the man has also stepped out and he is the one who still speaks some English. He tells us that they both like to cycle and that they have cycled mainly in Europe just like we do here now. They have been in Alaska for some time and have been close to Anchorage on the coast in Homer and Seward (everyone in Alaska tells us that it is super nice) They also went to Vancouver in Canada and Vancouver Island. In Vancouver they have unfortunately been deprived of all their belongings except for a small backpack that they had on their backs. Luckily they have friends living in Whitehorse where they can finally borrow clothes and other things. What a story! We hope that that will be saved during our one and a half year trip. We say goodbye and continue with the pass.

Meet the France

Almost on top is a sign with the height of the pass where we of course have to take a picture. We continue to cycle quite high after the pass. In this area we see a lot of ground squirrels. Every time they cross the road just in front of our bikes. Occasionally they stand on their hind legs to watch us, and when we get too close they run away. They are really super cute to see and it is a nice diversion when cycling!

Pass... not so high but we did it.

Find the squirrels

Eventually we arrive at Tangle Lakes where there is also a Campground. At first we want to camp here but when we find out that there is no shower we decide to save the money for food later somewhere. We finally camp at a general camping spot along the road where we also light a small campfire. In principle there are enough places along the Denali Highway where you can camp for free and we make full use of that. We eat some more at the campfire and dive into the bed.

Kim making our first campfire.


The last stretch to Paxson (and beyond)

Saturday, June 2
Today we cycle the last stretch of the Denali Highway. The sun and is shining and we're going downhill. We cycle towards Paxson where the end of the Denali Highway is. We had hoped we could do some shopping here, but we have been told that Paxson is a gost town. That's not too bad, we can still cycle a few miles to the next gas station where they hopefully have something to eat. We turn off at Paxson on the Richardson Highway.

On the road again

Along this road is also a Roadhouse which means that you can get something of hamburgers anyway and there would be a grocery store. Eventually after a lot of miles cycling there we also like something to eat. There is indeed a store but mainly candy and cake. Not really much to make a meal out of. So we decide to eat something so that we get a reasonable meal. We are here a decent time to recover. The lady who runs the Meiers Roadhouse at mile 170 tells us that this one was put here years ago and in 1906. She tells us that the purpose for which the Roadhouses were built at that time was mainly for miners who came by. They could then stay overnight if they passed here. Every 25 miles there was such a Roadhouse. We get a book from her where some pictures and the history of it.
She asks where we are from and when we tell her that we are from the Netherlands she tells us that her son also lives there with his wife and her 4 grandchildren. Unfortunately he has never come to Alaska to visit with wife and kids she tells us. She herself can not go anywhere because she is open all year round. Her daughter is in the kitchen and also makes all kinds of home made cookies and other delicious sweets.
The burgers we take taste great. We find it a shame that if you can eat something along the way, it is always hamburgers and never anything else. But the food here does taste very good. We have WiFi here and find out that some things at home have not gone as we had planned. We have send some e-mails to this and that. Hopefully it can be solved. Then only a third cup of coffee for Kim and another glass of water for Arjan. Finally finished with all the things to do, we walk through the miniscule shop and we buy two clif bars (our favorite candy bars) and six home made cookies.
On to Sourdough! If all goes well they have a supermarket nearby where the campground is. Sourdough is still a long cycle trip but it is al lot downhill from now. Eventually we arrive there but unfortunately no supermarket. We decide to stay at the campground. Here they have drinking water and toilets. We have to pay $6 for this, We have 95 km in the legs now so we are done with cycling for today. Fortunately we still have three freeze-dried meals where we eat two of them tonight. The campground is nice here. There are even food containers against bears where you can put your food and everything that smells. There is therefore no need to hang out food in the trees. After dinner we crawl into the tent again.

No food to find

Sunday, June 3
We have breakfast with the cakes that we have left. Arjan has put some tea. We searched for supermarkets or stores on the laptop last night, but at the Gacona Junction there should be something of a store. Sourdough to Gacona Junction is about 19 miles (30km) cycling. Along the way we see an oldtimer car on the road that is for sale. Eventually when we arrive at Gacona Junction we are disappointed again. Here too there is nothing open and it seems as if the people have already left. On to Gecona itself. Here there would be a Roadhouse, restaurant, Lodge and a shop. That should go well, we hope. Still a few miles further. Once arrived there are people who are busy fixing up. A man who comes walking from the lodge asks where we are going to. He says then you are probably Dutch since the national activity is cycling and skating. He guessed right! They are unfortunately not open he tells us but we can get water. Here too there is no shop yet and not even something to eat as we have hoped. We can take a look around and relax on the picnic benches in front of the bar. We will sit there for a moment. Meanwhile a woman comes out of the lodge with a plate of sandwiches. There are also three kids. Two boys and a girl. She asks us where we are from and if she can do something. We ask if they know if we can find a supermarket somewhere or a store where we can get food. The nearest one on our road is about 30miles (48km) away. So hmmm, that is still a long way without food. We will not be able to go that far from here without lunch. The woman proposes to make some sandwiches for us. We are of course completely happy. The man we met first paints the bar and chats nicely with us. He proudly tells us that they are from a family with seven brothers and that they have all been in the army including his father. The other man who comes to eat his sandwiches is one of his brothers. They are fixing things up here. The bar and restaurant are not open now because they are waiting for the government on the water samples that have to be taken every year. If they are approved they may only receive and serve guests. He also wants to open a store for cyclists like us who need some parts but that will only happen next year. Then his family will also come to Alaska in the summer. Meanwhile, we eat our well-filled sandwiches with turkey lettuce and tomato and some potato chips. We also put on mayo and mustard we get with it. The more calories the better! It tastes delicious. We get to see the sled dogs of the painting brother and he himself is also a bicycle fanatic, so he also shows us his beautiful cannondale racing bike. He has taken this from home but has not yet found time to go cycling. He is here the handyman he tells us so there is always something to do!
We ask them what they want for the sandwiches and we get a total of $12
In the end we pay $10 and we pay the rest with some change in euros and Icelandic crowns. One of the children saves foreign money. He is very happy with it. We give them a number of twowheelfreedom straps and go on our way again. Looking for a store with food! Still "just" 31 miles (50km) cycling so. This piece is a bit less nice. Head winds and finally a big rain. The last miles are heavy. We arrive in the village called Chistochina where there is another Roadhouse with a Campground. The store is 3.5km away. We decide to first cycle to the store. Once there, it is 7 pm and the store is closed at 6 pm on Sunday. Unfortunately bad luck again.

Sadly closed... still hungry 🙁

We can already see through the window that they have enough products that we can make a meal out of. We rest on the sidewalk for a moment and decide to return to the Campground with Roudhouse 3.5km back. Here we can camp and shower for $15. Nice, finally a shower again. The owner of the campsite guides us around. Unfortunately, we can not get food in the Roadhouse here, it is not in operation. We decide to prepare our last freeze-dried meal that we share together. Then we take a shower and sit at the reception because we know we have Wi-Fi. Short contact with the home front. There it is now early in the morning while it is half past 11 in the evening here.

Chistochina Logde


Finally something to eat

Monday, June 4
Arjan is up early because he wants to make a video call with the home front. Kim is now writing the blog of to catch up on the last few days. Then we start cleaning up so that we can go to the store to eat breakfast and buy food. The owner of the campsite comes to say goodbye to us. He has to work he says, what means that he probably has to do some shopping and things like that. He gives us some information about where we can get some food along the way and that we cannot camp at the next Roadhouse. Always good to hear this kind of information. We already found out that the info you get from local people here is always the best. We say goodbye to the camp owner. We pack our last stuff and leave.
On to the store! Food!!
Once arrived, the store is now open. There is a nice woman behind the counter who says to us that when we want to eat and drink that we can sit inside for a while. There is a long table near the coffee machine and the other hot drinks. We first do our shopping that we put on the counter. Then we take coffee and chocolate milk and warm our morning burrito in the microwave. (The microwave is also one of the things we often see at gas stations with shops here in Alaska) We have a delicious breakfast. The lady comes to sit with us from behind the counter to have a chat. She says she has two jobs. One as a cashier here and another job as a cleaner later in the afternoon. She tells us that her salary is low and that she would like to have more hours. She has a family with two children who are mainly with their father and uncle during the day. She tells a lot about her two daughters. As every mother is proud of her children.
In the end we are ready, so we pay and say goodbye. It is already half past one in the afternoon so we really have to go cycling now. Today it is mainly uphill we know because we are cycling towards a pass again. The pass we go on will not be very high so the climb is not too steep. Because of this we can still cycle through quite a bit and still make many miles. On the left we constantly see the mountains of the Alaska Range and on the right we look at the Wrangell Mountains which creates beautiful views.

Hi there...

End of the day we find a nice camping spot on a river. It is an official resting place which means that there are toilets and a picnic bench where we can eat nicely. The bikes and tent we put a bit more hidden on the bushes because we are on a somewhat busier road. Arjan makes a delicious meal from the stuff we bought.

Making Dinner

Camping on a hidden place along the road.

The last stage to Tok

5 June
We wake up in time because we hear a family who has sat down at the picnic table. When they discover our tent they are rather scared. They don’t know how fast they have to get in their car again and leave this scary place! Arjan and I have to laugh. We decide to get out of bed so that we can leave on time this morning. We first have breakfast with bread and cheese and then we leave.

Breakfast... I Like 🙂

A few miles away is the Roadhouse where we could not camp, but we can get excellent coffee and warm chocolate milk here and nicely fill our water bottles. Once there we get in conversation with the owner. A super happy man. They've had an earthquake here a few years ago and on the walls are all newspaper clippings about this fact. It had been very intense he tells us. It was so violently that in the bar and the shop everything from the cupboards and scraps had fallen to the ground. It was one big mess. On the newspaper clippings we see a picture of cracks in the asphalt that are so big and deep that a few children around the age of 12 almost can disappear in it.
He asks us if we have seen bears but no we have not seen them yet. He tells us that a few days ago they unfortunately had to shoot a bear who came back to the Roadhouse for food every time. He let his neighbor kill him because he has an official license and he likes to eat bears meat. He himself is not really crazy about bear meat so win win situation for him and his neighbor. He shows the claws of the bear that he got from his neighbor. He always told his sons that it is not the bears that you have to watch out for, but the moose. This is because if you do not pay attention and they feel threatened you can be kick hard by them. We tell him that we have cycled the Denali Highway and that it was so beautiful. He also made a trip there with his family and his father, but they had a caravan behind the car that and had three flat tires because the road is so bad there. We laugh and can confirm that the conditions of the road are indeed not the best. In the end it is time to say goodbye.
Time to cycle the pass again...
The pass is so equal that we do not have to put a lot of effort into it. Unfortunately, we have a lot of head wind so we do not really benefit from going downhill. But it is going quick. At noon we take a long break in the lovely sun. The miles are going fast. We are going to make it to Tok today easily. Unfortunately the weather changed so we cycle the last miles in the rain. Once in Tok we go looking for a place where we have WiFi to check if we have a warmshowers sleep address. We see a store where outside is already indicated that there is free WiFi so we go there. Outside the store we see the first two bikes that are also packed as ours. Once inside we see the people who are the ownership of the bicycles. It is Denise from Holland and Adam, her American boyfriend. We have seen them before at the beginning of our journey.
On the same day that we started on the Dalton Highway in Prudhoe Bay / Deadhorse they have been a lot less fortunate than us. Adam suffered from his knee so they had to return to Prudhoe Bay for the Atigun pass. They rented a car so that Denise could still cycle the last part of the Dalton Highway while Adam as support car drove behind her. He could then let his knee rest so that they would be able to cycle together again at a later time. They tell us that they have been cycling together again since Fairbanks. And today have had a rest day. Tomorrow they want to continue cycling towards the Canadian border. Outside it has started to rain very hard and the store is closed. Ultimately, we are waiting there nicely with his four until it gets dry. Denise and Adam know an affordable restaurant where we can eat. They have already eaten here the night before. Mr. Fast Eddy's. We decide to defy the rain to eat together. The food is good and it is also nice to chat with other cyclists who know how life is on the road.

Stoves Campground

After dinner we go to the cheapest campsite in the village. Denise and Adam still have to go shopping and want better WiFi so they go to another campsite. We say goodbye to each other but we will undoubtedly meet again this trip!
Nobody is at the campsite at the reception, but we can just pitch our tent. You pay here by means of an envelope where your money source does. This shows you when you arrived and how long you stay. It is a small campsite but the facilities are fine. Here we can sleep well for the next 2 nights. We pitch the tent and go for a nice shower, after which we take a look at some pictures of the last days and after that jump into bed again.

Some people wonder when we do all the writing for our website. Here Kim is at the office, writing text on iPhone Notepad. After this is done we copy and paste it on the website when we have WiFi.


Warmshowers, hiking & drinking beer in Fairbanks

We had breakfast the first day of our stay. We stay with Robin and Jessica who really live in a super nice house in the mountains near Fairbanks. Unfortunately Jessica is not there this weekend, she has a wedding on the west coast.
That should not spoil the fun because Robin is also a super sweet and friendly girl! She wants to drive us everywhere if we need something or want to do something.
In the morning we wake up reasonably early because there are some workers who are building a garden fence for Jess and Robin in the garden. Robin tells us that they suffer a lot from moose and that if she plants something in her garden with vegetables it is eaten every time.
Arjan and I are going to have breakfast and Robin has the coffee ready. Delicious! Kim is of course super happy with the coffee!
Robin has already eaten and goes into the city to buy plants at the hospital. The proceeds go to a good cause, hence it is at the hospital.
In the meantime, we are busy working on our report of the past two weeks for the website. We also do the laundry, which is also necessary. From two weeks only washing things in water streams, it is obviously not as nice to clean as with a washing machine.
In the afternoon when Robin is back we decide to eat together and do some shopping at the local supermarket. We end up eating deliciously at a Mexican restaurant after which we are super satisfied. Apparently the waiter can serve us because we get another dessert on the house. Typical American cake with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. It tastes good so we still eat it even though we are already super full. For now we do not have to eat anything anymore ... We have Kodiak (the dog) with us and he is still waiting for us in the car so we decide to take a long walk along the river. It has become super nice weather and so we can nicely excite the food.
In the evening at home we drink a beer on the couch and we show Robin our pictures of the past two weeks.

Hiking around the Chena River

On Sunday there is a second hand bike exchange sale for second hand bikes and bicycle parts. Very nice to see. Kim buys a slightly larger mirror for her bicycle.
In Fairbanks, regular sales of this kind of second-hand sales seem to be marks for anything and everything. Robin explains that this is because in Alaska it is more difficult to get certain things and therefore more of this kind of sales are organized. We really like it and most used stuff is often almost as new.
After that, Robin and two friends agreed to go hiking in the woods in the mountains around Fairbanks. Erin and Robin are colleagues and Wes is her husband. They moved from Kentucky to Alaska and just like Jessica and Robin they now are living here for nearly a year. After the hike we go to a viewpoint on one of the mountains above Fairbanks. Wow, super!

Hiking in dense woods

Viewing point full of shotgun shells

shotgun shells

Kodiak our roommate of the last few days passed out

It is dinner time again and we all decide to have a beer and big pizzas at a typical American pub. The pub has a lot of choice in terms of beer, but of course we are in Alaska so we decide to go for one of local ones. The pizzas are not just regular pizzas but big American style pizzas (16inch / 40.6cm). We still have Nachos in advance, but they are mainly because it is good. With the five of us we couldn’t manage the two big pizzas that are on the table now🍕🍕
Everything tastes delicious and what we have left of course goes home in a doggy bag.
After this we go home. We would like to spray and prepare the bikes and bags for the next stage and Robin would like to plant vegetables in the garden now that the fence that must protect the vegetables is finished.
We put a new chain on Kim's bicycle. The old one had already had 5000km and was quite stretched. New rear brake pads must also be replaced. Arjan his bike just needs little maintenance.
On the Dalton Highway we found out that our bikes where packed to heavy so now we organize our panniers again and send the rest back to Holland.
After we drink another beer in the living room with the three of us, we go to sleep.

Today (Monday, May 28) Memorial Day in America. Hereby all war veterans are commemorated. This means that Robin also has a day off. Arjan and I decided that we are going to cycle the Denali Highway. We doubted because we did not know if we wanted to cycle so many mountains on gravel road again straight after we finished the previous one, the 414 mile / 666km of gravel on the Dalton Highway. From what we have heard it must be very beautiful down there so we decide to cycle along it instead of doing the much easier Alaska Highway to the south. Robin has already said that she wants to drop us a bit south of Fairbanks so we can skip the boring part and start in Healy. She has a friend there, Peggy with whom she arranges that we can camp in her garden.

Camping in Peggy's garden

In the afternoon when we arrive in Healy, Robin goes for a walk with Kodiak and we put up the tent and do some shopping and relaxing in the sun. In the supermarket we meet Robin again and we eat and drink something in the 49club brewery. The weather is nice so we can sit outside on the terrace. Here is also a replica of bus 142 of the film Into The Wild, which is well-known to most people. It’s time to say goodbye to Robin. It almost feels kind of strange to say goodbye when you’ve had such a great time with someone if you think you might not see each other ever again. Well who knows maybe Robin and Jessica will decide to come biking with us somewhere further down the road..😉 Well girls you will be more than welcome!

On the road again...

At the Brewery

Who's that dude on the left?

BEER!

Hey dude!!!

"Into The Wild Bus 142"

"Into The Wild Bus 142"

Bus 142

Bus 142

Bus 142

Thanks Robin for letting us stay!!!

The stories about us cycling the rough Denali Highway are already written but will be posted later on... stay tuned!!!

Visa

Hoe gaat een B1/B2 Visum / ESTA aanvraag in zijn werk?

B1/B2 Visum voor de VS

Omdat we op de fiets in het uiterste noorden van Alaska (Deadhorse) beginnen met fietsen hebben we een B1/B2 Visum voor de Verenigde Staten nodig voor de tijd van 6 maanden.

Normaal als je voor een toeristisch verblijf naar Amerika wil heb je als Nederlander geen Visum nodig, wel moet je daarvoor aanmelden op de ESTA-website en mag je dan zonder problemen, mits je natuurlijk niet gaat werken, 90 dagen maximaal in de VS verblijven.

In ons geval konden we helaas niet van deze 90 dagen regeling gebruik maken. In eerste instantie hadden we nog de hoop dat dit wel het geval zou zijn omdat we natuurlijk vanaf Alaska eerst nog weer Canada gaan doorkruizen maar helaas wordt Canada in de tijd dat we fietsen meegerekend. Waarschijnlijk is deze regeling bedacht zodat mensen niet even een dag de grens over gaan om vervolgens weer opnieuw 90 dagen in Amerika kunnen verblijven. Deze regeling geldt trouwens ook zo aan de kant van Mexico.

Bij het aanvragen van een B1/B2 visum hoort ook altijd een interview bij het consulaat voordat je überhaupt goed of afkeuring voor het visum krijgt. Als je reist met en partner dan kan je dit aangeven op het DS-160 formulier zodat je later ook samen het interview kan doen.
Voordat we de aanvraag van het B1/B2 Visum konden beginnen hebben we bij een erkende fotograaf pasfoto’s laten maken die voldoen aan Amerikaanse ESTA pasfoto eisen.
Daarna zijn we pas begonnen met de aanvraag op de website (ceac.state.gov), Dit heeft als voordeel dat als je later voor het interview op de consulaat komt je zeker weet dat je niet gehaast in Amsterdam een fotograaf moet zoeken die uiteindelijk nog de vereiste pasfoto’s kan nemen. Plus het is een hoop minder gestress om nog weer op tijd terug bij je afspraak op het consulaat te komen.

Het DS-160 formulier:
Dit formulier vul je online in en moet uiteraard volledig en geheel naar waarheid worden ingevuld. Als je begint moet je bovenaan eerst aangeven in welk land je de aanvraag wil doen. In ons geval was dit dus in Netherlands, Amsterdam.
Het zijn behoorlijk wat vragen o.a. over je familie, wat voor werk je doet en of je bijvoorbeeld van plan bent in de VS te gaan werken en noem maar op. Het lijkt oneindig door te gaan, maar neem van ons aan de vragen houden een keer op en zijn prima te beantwoorden. 😉

Afspraak maken bij het consulaat:
Nadat je het DS-160 volledig hebt ingevuld ga je naar de website waar je de afspraak kan maken.
In ons geval hadden we een tussenpersoon ingeschakeld die de afspraak voor ons regelde. Zij hadden daar van ons het DS-160 nummer per persoon/aanvraag voor nodig en een lijstje met dagen /tijdstippen wanneer wij in Amsterdam konden komen i.v.m. het plannen van de afspraak.
Wel is het nog belangrijk om de betaling van het visum en bevestiging van de afspraak uit te printen. Het kan zijn dat ze deze willen zien tijdens de afspraak bij het consulaat.

Wat namen wij mee naar het interview:
Het komt helaas nog steeds voor dat er mensen worden afgewezen omdat ze niet goed genoeg voorbereid naar het interview gaan en niet de juiste informatie kunnen aanleveren tijdens het gesprek. Je moet vooral kunnen aantonen dat je binding hebt met Nederland en dat je voldoende financiële middellen hebt om niet te hoeven werken. Alles wat bewijst dat je een bepaalde binding hebt met Nederland en dat je kredietwaardig genoeg bent is handig om mee te nemen.
In ons geval was dat het volgende:
- Paspoorten
- Pasfoto’s (voor een VS Esta, dus 5x5cm en witte achtergrond)
- Bevestiging van de afspraak
- Confirmation Ds-160 formulier Arjan
- Confirmation DS-160 formulier Kim
- Koop overeenkomst huis
- Verhuur overeenkomst huis
- Rekeningoverzichten van de bank met stempel en handtekening van de bank. (zorg wel dat je echt de afschriften bestempeld krijgt waar bedragen op staan, niet alleen een formulier bij de bank dat je kredietwaardig bent dit is namelijk niet voldoende)
- Jaarstukken eigen bedrijf
- Jaaropgave + laatste salarisstrook
- Intentieverklaring van werkgever (indien van toepassing)
- Betalingsbewijs visum
- Globetrotter verzekering polis
- Route die we door de Verenigde Staten afleggen
- Tijdsplanning door de Verenigde Staten
- Budget overzicht
- Internationale trouwakte
- Geboorteakte kind

Ons interview op de Amerikaanse consulaat:
Op 16 april was het dan eindelijk zover. We hadden een afspraak op het consulaat in Amsterdam en wel om 8.20u. Nogal vroeg als je helemaal uit Almelo moet komen rijden, dus hebben we er maar van de nood een deugd gemaakt en hebben de nacht ervoor in het Botel aan het IJ geslapen zodat we de volgende morgen op tijd op onze afspraak konden zijn.
Handig om te weten dat je je telefoon gewoon mee naar binnen mag nemen, deze moet je bij binnenkomst aan hebben staan en moet je de beveiliging kunnen laten zien dat je bij de instellingen je bluetooth hebt uitgeschakeld. Helemaal je telefoon uitschakelen mag niet. Als je dit dus wel doet moet je weer opnieuw buiten je telefoon aanzetten voordat je weer naar binnen mag. Laptops echter zijn verboden om mee naar binnen te nemen. Mocht je deze bij je hebben, dan moet je zorgen dat je deze, of achterlaat in je auto, of ergens anders tijdelijk ziet op te slaan. Met laptop wordt je onder geen beding binnen gelaten!
Eindelijk binnen moet je door een metaaldetector (net als bij de douane op Schiphol) en je bagage door de X-ray. Wij moesten onze tas achterlaten bij de ingang die we bij vertrek weer op mochten halen.

Als eerste kom je in een ruimte waar aan de linkerkant een balie staat met een Nederlandse medewerker van het consulaat. Zij checkt je DS-160 formulier en vraagt waarom je de aanvraag komt doen. Vervolgens stonden we in de rij voor het volgende loket waar we weer door een Nederlandse medewerker werden geholpen. Zij nam onze paspoorten in, de losse pasfoto's werden gecheckt en er werden vingerafdrukken van al onze tien vingers genomen. Daarna moesten we in de wachtkamer wachten totdat we werden omgeroepen voor het definitieve interview.
Na een tijd gewacht te hebben mochten we bij het loket komen waar een Amerikaanse medewerker ons een interview afnam. Hij wilde weten waarom we de aanvraag kwamen doen, of we wel of geen werk meer hadden en hoe we dit dachten te bekostigen. Na ons antwoord dat we daarvoor gespaard hadden wilde hij heel graag onze getekende bankafschriften zien. Hij wilde er zeker van zijn dat we inderdaad wel genoeg geld bij ons hadden zodat we in Amerika niet zouden gaan werken. Wat we na Amerika in Mexico zouden doen maakte hem niks uit grapte hij nog en daarna wenste hij ons veel succes en konden we gaan. Hij zei dat we onze paspoorten met visum binnen 3 werkdagen weer thuis bezorgd zouden krijgen en dat was ook zo.

Het werkelijke interview duurde hooguit 10 minuten maar alles bij elkaar hebben we zeker een dikke twee uur bij het consulaat besteed.

Onze uiteindelijke ervaring bij het Amerikaanse consulaat was goed. Bij ons verliep alles volgens plan en we waren niet al te zenuwachtig meer toen we eenmaal daar waren. De dagen ervoor waren daarentegen wel zenuwslopend, maar vooral door onze goede voorbereiding voor de tijd ging het op de dag vol zelfvertrouwen met een beetje gezonde spanning.
We waren wel super blij toen we de good luck van de medewerker te horen kregen!

America here we come!!!
America here we come!!!

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