Every bicycle journey has a theme song. At least all of mine do. A tune that fits the mood of the journey … or describes the place you are pedaling through … or sometimes it’s just the tune that is incessantly playing on every radio.
“White Bird” by It’s a Beautiful Day became the theme song of my first bike trip. Why? Because our Adventure Cycling maps (then Bikecentennial) listed a big climb ahead. White Bird Pass. My buddy Thomas sang a snippet of White Bird six million times before we climbed that pass. It still rings in my head.
Johnny Clegg’s Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World was the soundtrack of my five month trip in South Africa. Anyone who listens to Johnny Clegg’s music will yearn to travel in that country.
Macarena by Los del Rio haunted us throughout our bike trip in the Balkans simply because it was playing on every radio in Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia at the time or our trip. The one time we had access to a television in Bulgaria, we turned on CNN, and there was Al Gore … dancing to Macarena at the Democratic Convention.
Kat and I recently pedaled the Golden Circle, a route from Haines, Alaska, to White Horse, Yukon, to Skagway, Alaska. For the first time our trip theme song was provided by live musicians. Bonfire At Home was playing at the Skagway Brewery the night we pedaled into town. Loved their music.
The next morning we encountered the group playing outside the Alaskan Sojourn Hostel. I recorded them playing their tune, Ally’s Face.
That tune has already spun through my mind a hundred times. There is a lyric in the chorus, “You went out of your way.” I don’t know exactly what Andrew and Tyler meant by that line when they wrote the song, but it speaks to my traveler’s soul. For that is what travel is all about. Going out of your way to see parts of the world that others speed by.
Thanks Bonfire At Home for providing a great tune to accompany the amazing images and memories of our brief journey in the wild north!
Haines – Haines Junction – Whitehorse – Carcross – Skagway. The golden circle, traveled first as trading routes, then by gold miners seeking fortune, followed by cyclists with computers and dri-wick clothing, remains golden.
We certainly couldn’t have timed our ride around the golden circle any better. But it didn’t feel like anything short of the gods smiling on us – a gift from the universe to make our way easier. The rains cleared, sun came out, mosquitoes called it quits, bears were more interested in berries than the turkey jerky in our kit. The grades over mountain pass have been tamed, worn down over the millennium by those who came before us. The landscape seemingly barren of civilization was sprinkled with friendly waves and easy conversations where people congregate. Fresh baked treats, fair-trade coffee and spruce-tipped beer were welcome rewards.
The golden circle gave us a taste of northern grandeur, a small bite we’ll savor until we return again.
Willie, Carole and Lou hike in the Mt Roberts rainforest
The Yellow Tent is in Alaska! Touched down in Juneau and got swooped up by friends Lou and Carole, whom Willie met years ago as a bicycle tour guide. Carole and Lou treated us in “Alaska-style” feasting on halibut for lunch and Carole’s amazing crab cakes for dinner accompanied by Lou’s fresh-picked garden salad. With hosts so good to us, we may never leave this place. But there’s a bicycle adventure to be had!
Willie and I have lived in the Seattle area for nearly 30 years, but neither of had ever ventured north to Alaska. This last couple of weeks we would gleefully announce to each other in our goofiest awe-shucks voice, “We’re goin’ to Alaska!” As much as we’ve traveled and camped, something about this big, wild state makes me feel like an awestruck city kid. In the morning we board the ferry to Haines, where we point our bikes on the only road out of town, keep turning right when we come to another road, and 9 days later we will end up in Skagway. With directions like that, we’ll have to work harder to get lost.