Tomorrow we ride
Now that the clock has just chimed twelve it isn’t even tomorrow that we leave. It is today. We is Hercules, my bike and I. At 10 am Alaska time (1900 BST) on Saturday I shall touch the hand of the tall stony chap of the Seafarers’ Memorial on Homer Spit and then start pedalling. We have a long way to go, bound for the Atlantic coast. The clock is already ticking as winter waits in the wings and I am keen to get munching miles. I set up Hercules’ bike computer today with the miles from London so far and we have a cheeky 16000 clocked already by land and sea. In pure longitude (i.e. miles East to the Greenwich Meridian) there are 9000 or so.
Memories over miles
More important than any mileage to me is the folks and stories I have met along the way and the things I have learned from and shared with them. As ever I have met with huge kindness and warmth and folks have taken me under their wing to help me get ready for the road or share their lives with me. My time in Homer and Anchorage this last few days has added more special folks to my human scrapbook.
Hig and Erin (of Groundtruthtrekking.org) and their family and friends in Seldovia across the bay, reinforced that convention shouldn’t dictate our lives and that there are many ways to live. We scrambled through forest to the beach where we picked tartly sweet red currants and shared stories of adventures and ways of living. Their young children reminded me to keep my imagination vital as we hiked back through the alders pretending we were on the most distant planet in the most distant galaxy.
From Russia with love
Yesterday a young girl from Nikolaevsk School told me how my story had moved her and inspired her to ‘Do Something’. That made my day, as did the earnest excitement of some seven year olds at the anticipation of seeing my shark picture. I chuckled when an 8 year old told me to ‘Say Hi to Elizabeth!’ as she left the classroom, meaning, of course, the Queen herself.
25 miles out of Homer, the village of Nikolaevsk is a relatively new community built on Russian traditions, set up in 1968 by a group of ‘Old Believers’ of Russian Orthodoxy. In some ways it felt like I was back in Russia, Cyrillic script sitting alongside English words on the school wall and the dress and accents a mix of American and Russian, a blend of old and new fusing into something special. My only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer and learn more. Such is the double edged sword of a journey – progress and immersion are sometimes mutually exclusive as the clock ticks on towards distant goals.
North America is going to be full of surprises and stories and contrasts, I am sure. For those stories and people I am yet to meet I am excited and I am already hooked on the sights of mountains and forests which will lead me out of Alaska.
Next shout from the road.
For now, I would like to remind you that my L2L journey is supporting four fantastic charities : CoppaFeel! Jubilee Sailing Trust, MND Association, WaterAid. Please help me smash my targets and support the causes. DONATE HERE http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=SarahOuten
Finally, my thanks to Scott and Debbie Cameron, Jill Fredston, Liz and Billy Pepper, Tammy Taylor, Nikolaevsk School, The Ocean and Islands Centre, Pat and Kath of FreeSpirit Wear, Hig and Erin, Chun, Bjorn Olsen and Smokey Bay Air.