Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Extra legs

September 20th, 2011

Extra legs from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Wilderness bound, Ken’s trusty steed has extra legs. The addition of a waterproof dry bag behind the saddle, filled with food. Provides extra range. And handy for lobbing up trees, away from Goldilocks and her mates.

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Warmth in a cold climate

September 19th, 2011

The ride north out of Anchorage had given me chance to reflect on my time in the US, or Alaska at least. Two things had really struck me. Firstly, the relative ease with which I’d been able to get myself and all the kit over from Australia. Admittedly there’d been quite a bit of planning. Days in fact, if I’m honest. But, for all that, you still have to satisfy Customs and Border Protection on entry that you’re a bone fida traveller. But that too had been remarkable for being unremarkable.

Secondly, the hospitality I’d been shown. I don’t mean the Have a nice day sort, the obligatory niceness. An expression, incidentally, I’ve yet to hear. Rather, the genuine welcome, the generosity, the warmth I’ve experienced in little over a week. Whether this holds true for other parts of the US – the Lower 48 – I’m not yet sure. I’ll find out in a little while.

I’ve been particularly intrigued by the friendliness of everyone, even amongst officials I’ve met, because I do think there’s a perception abroad that the US can be a bit officious, with a politeness often lacking in conviction. Am sure there’ll be the odd blip over the next few months, but what matters to me is the broader picture. And, so far, I must admit I’ve been hugely impressed.

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Final flurry in Anchorage

September 19th, 2011

Final flurry in Anchorage from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken prepares to depart Anchorage. Canada bound.

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Close shave

September 18th, 2011

Ordinarily I’d have rebuffed him more forcefully. But he’d a number three razor in his hand, in the midst of trimming my hair. Didn’t seem wise to rial him too much. Friendly banter in a small, very traditional, barbers shop in downtown Anchorage. He was German, as fond of football as he was asserting all
English fans were hooligans. That, I quickly retorted, was a contradiction. Struggling to resist the temptation to point out that roaming amok around Europe was very much something his fellow countrymen knew far more about than the Brits.

But he wasn’t the first German I’d met since I’d arrived in the US. There’d been a teacher, staying in the hostel with me in Hawaii. And Christine. She’d also been staying with my host in the suburbs. More friendly banter. We’d vehemently disagreed over which you preferred, Australia or New Zealand. An all the more passionate exchange given we’d both spent a decent amount of time in the Antipodes. Both of us holding what we firmly believed to be very informed opinions.

She was leaving shortly for Berlin. Then off to John O’Groats and a trek down to Lands End. I offered to help her carry some of her luggage to the bus stop the next morning, gently teasing her about the lack of Germanic precision when she seemed a little unsure as to when we’d need to leave the house.

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Mountains ahead

September 17th, 2011

Mountains ahead from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken stumbles on a topographic map of Alaska and North America. Noticing there’s quite a few mountains ahead…

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Interview with Justin

September 16th, 2011

It was meant to be an interview but ended up being rather more of a chat. Good couple of hours. Justin was a journalist with Alaskan outdoors magazine Coast. It’d chanced on a recent copy at the airport when I’d returned there to clear my bicycle for release with Customs. A well-written publication, lots of interesting articles, I’d been particularly looking forward to our meeting. Another event arranged by John, the Bent Prop Inn Hostel’s inexhaustible manager.

There were copious notes. Page after page. Keen, Justin explained, to have plenty of quotes. Photos we would do a little later. We’d often wander a little, sharing anecdotes, before struggling to recall where we’d left off. Sometimes it was just advice, suggestions. Thoughts exchanged on the possibility of writing a book. Firm agreement that if it was ever to be successful, it needed to offer something different to the plethora of other travelogues. I alluded a little to an idea I had, but not the details. Early days.

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Introducing Reggie

September 16th, 2011

Introducing Reggie from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Reggie, handyman at Anchorage’s Bent Prop Inn Hostel, shares some candid thoughts…

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Mayoral welcome

September 15th, 2011

Dan Sullivan, the city’s Mayor, was out of town. Not back before I’d be riding out of Anchorage. So Darrell Hess, his representative and something of a cyclist himself, had been dispatched to welcome me. I explained I was delighted to be in Alaska, eager to crack my fourth continent, and quite astounded at the generosity and hospitality of those I’d met. Careful to really emphasize this last point, for it couldn’t possibly be overstated.

There was a thoughtful gift from the city, a small metal broach attached to the Mayor’s business card. A practical, considerate present, something I could carry with me. I thanked Darrell, added once more how much I’d been taken aback by the welcome, before we headed out into the rain. A nearby lock-up to introduce him to my trusty steed.

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Dave at Downtown

September 14th, 2011

Dave at Downtown from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Like John the manager, Dave had started out at the Bent Prop Inn Hostel as a guest. Thoughtful and unassuming, his was a calming presence. Years running a homeless shelter, he’d also had his own blues and jazz show on local radio, and spoke German fluently.

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Bent Prop Inn

September 13th, 2011

Bent Prop Inn from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

His first hostel stop in the US, Ken explores Anchorage’s Bent Prop Inn. Curiously drawn to the on-tap strong coffee…

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