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tom and bridgette

Any action on the side of the road immediately attracts a travel weary cyclist’s attention, so a caravan in a pull-out ahead, clearly with goods for sale, has me instantly wondering what the potential is. Food is constantly on my mind so an array of jerky is like a gift from heaven – classic and flavoured beef and more exotic elk, salmon, buffalo are all displayed to their best advantage – it is a hungry biker’s dream.

A guy on a bike is talking to the proprietor but she turns her attention to the new prospect. Her sales pitch is practiced and she offers me a taste. I sample some elk and enquire how much – twelve dollars is, unfortunately, out of my price range and I, regretfully, make to leave. The guy rummages in his handle-bar bag and without a word hands me half a bag of salmon jerky.

“Where are you going?” We exchange particulars – he is on a day ride to Talkeetna, where I have just come from. I am still uncertain of today’s destination not knowing where, exactly, to break my journey to Anchorage. He draws a map to his house in Palmer – I’m welcome to stay. He adds a floor plan of the house detailing important facilities such as the bathrooms. If I arrive first, I can just let myself in; “The door is open –  have a shower, help yourself to some food.”

I am amazed at such openness, trust, generosity and perhaps, in some way, unequal to it, since I pocket the map without commitment. We discuss cycling trips a little further and then pedal off in opposite directions. I wonder if he will pass me again on the road on his return trip by car.

Indeed, some hours later, Tom, and his wife Bridgette, pull up in their car when I am still about twenty five miles from Palmer. They offer me a lift but, tempting though it is, I only unload my gear into their car – now I am definitely committed.

An hour and a half later, at a critical juncture in the route where I might have become confused about the way, Tom is waiting to check on my progress and reiterate his offer of a lift for the final eight miles. Heroically, I refuse, wishing the moment his car disappeared that I had accepted. Finally, after a total of ninety-two miles cycled that day, I arrive to a warm welcome, a cold beer, a hot shower and a good meal.

Tom and Bridgette made me welcome in their home for two nights – a much needed respite at a difficult time in my journey – they fed me and provided me with a comfortable bed but best of all, sitting on an expansive green lawn in the uncommonly warm summer sun drinking gin and tonic, we talked of our lives, our adventures and dreams.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Lucie | July 28, 2009 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Hi Anna, great that you had 2 nights in a friendly and comfortable home, it must feel wonderful! I find meeting people and realizing that strangers might be so welcoming and helpful, is one of the greatest things on traveling. But you, too, are a special person, so I’m sure it wasn’t just altruism from their side:-) Enjoy biking, I am following you!

  2. julie | July 28, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    It’s little wonder that people are showing kindness and hospitality to you – they must be simply in awe if your incredible courage and detirmination and hanging out to hear your story. And what a story it is already turning out to be – the isolation, the immense physical endurance, the wild animals, the quirky incidents along the way, the scenery, the interaction with people and getting to know yourself day in day out on your incredible journey. Glad to hear more news at last. Lots of love x

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