I have decided to sum up the rest of my days in Alaska in this one post. Since I was now traveling by rental car, the experience was not the same. However, this was the best part of the trip from a scenic perspective and I don’t want to lose that.
The plan for the day after the crash was for me to meet the group at the hotel in Valdez. On my travels from Palmer via Highway 1, I saw the Matanusk Glacier which the group would visit again the next day. I was stunned by the peaks that were visible as I neared my turn off on Highway 4. I thought I had taken photos with my phone of them but they seem to be missing. So, you’ll just have to trust me that the views are fantastic!
This drive was about four hours and I mostly remember it as stopping as I needed to for stretching and water. My cell phone battery was dying as I navigated and the charging port in the car didn’t work, so it was lucky for me to encounter one of the ladies I had ridden with at a construction stop. I had a chance to say hello to her before the pilot car lead us through the area and then we caught up on the other side. It was such a relief to be able to follow her since she had the group’s directions and stops for the day!
It wasn’t long before we found the rest of the group and had a chance to see some glaciers and waterfalls on our way into Valdez. I was so relieved when we arrived at the hotel since I’d had barely any sleep in the past 2 days. I grabbed some food at a nearby grocery store and was in bed by 8 PM! It’s too bad I was so tired and in pain because what I saw of Valdez, I absolutely loved!
The next morning was my birthday and I woke up feeling as though I’d been hit by a truck! I was expecting this, having worked in the insurance industry for 10 years in my younger days. I knew that 2 days after the accident is when you finally feel all the damage. One of the other ladies on the tour was at a breakfast place near the harbor and I managed to drive there to meet her. After some coffee, breakfast and ibuprofen I felt like I would function and we walked around Valdez for a few minutes. I saw enough to know that I certainly want to return one day and finish the trip I started!
Our destination for that day was a hotel in Sutton. It was strange for me, driving a car behind the bikes and at the first construction zone we were separated as they went up front with the pilot car. I had the GPS directions so I was able to follow along to each stop along the way. This day was mainly retracing my drive from the day before, but it was still nice to see the sights.
The hotel in Sutton may be my favorite of the entire trip. It has beautiful fields of flowers surrounding it and a sense of calm and peace that I was so in need of during those last couple days. I was sad to leave it the next day knowing that we were on our way back to Anchorage.
One of the coolest experiences of the trip happened at our last stop before everyone turned their bikes in. We stopped at a lake that we’d visited at the beginning and had some lunch and a chance to relax. As I was sitting at the picnic table pondering what was next for me, I looked down and saw a penny! During the entire trip I had been asking my dad to send me a penny and none had shown up. After the crash I was feeling very disappointed and like this trip had just been a bad idea – then the bright penny showed up to remind me that he is always with me. Always.
I started to feel very disconnected from the group when I joined them in Valdez and that feeling continued for the rest of my time in Alaska. Even before the accident I had decided this would be my last tour on a motorcycle unless it’s a small group I personally know. I enjoy the camaraderie of riding and supporting each other, helping each other when needed and celebrating the great miles together. I simply didn’t experience that with this group, despite being open to and hoping that would occur.
I would like to return to Alaska at some point, but it will be a trip that I design and plan. Maybe I’ll go solo or with one or two trusted friends. Even before the accident I felt like this trip was not at all what I had expected. There are no regrets, because I learned a great deal about myself and know where my training needs to focus next. I also saw parts of a beautiful state that I’d never experienced before and will carry those memories for a long time. But now I know for certain that groups like this are not for me!
I have spent the last three weeks healing mind, body and soul. The good news is that I see progress every day and am encouraged that I’ll be back on a bike yet this season. Hopefully there is little to no hidden anxiety waiting for me, but I can’t really know yet. So far, I haven’t been able to physically endure helmet shopping due to neck injuries, so riding at this point is still out of the question.
As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by and read. I’m looking forward to sharing more of my journey with you all soon!