Alaska AIDS Vaccine Ride, 20-26 August 2000
What an adventure!!!
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August 27th -  Day 7

The final installment in my Alaska AIDS Vaccine Ride travel journal.

I woke up at 7:00 am, after 5 hours of sleep, grabbed breakfast and walked back to the Closing Ceremonies site to start loading bikes onto the truck headed back to DC.  About 20 of us showed up to help load the bikes, which was 10 more than had originally signed up, most of us were functioning on little sleep but lots of adrenaline left over from finally being back in civilization.

What could have been a tedious job of loading several hundred bikes onto a semi truck turned into a post ride party, complete with singing, dancing, and bad Ride jokes.  It was also very dirty work as none of our bikes even closely resembled clean after 6 days of snow and rain, but no one cared since none of us had seen a washing machine in a week — what's a little more dirt.  As soon as I get home my bike is headed to the Elizabeth Arden Spa for Bikes (okay so that's a stretch, it is headed to City Bikes for a much needed tune up).

After we finished loading the bikes (shortly after 1pm) we headed to Humpy's, a local restaurant, for lunch, by this point we were all a little punchy from lack of sleep and lack of food, we sat outside  (under the heat lamps) and looked at photos from the over achievers who had their film developed that morning.  Almost all of us were from DC so it wasn't too hard to say goodbye to everyone as we left.

I wandered around Anchorage for the rest of the day taking in the sights, I even found a Russian store and bought some more Russian pop music (Alla Pugachova)!

The flight home was MUCH better than the 5 city flight going to Alaska.  I flew from Anchorage to Atlanta, then Atlanta to DC.  Shortly after we took off from Anchorage the pilot came on the loud speakers to let us all know to look out the windows at an incredible view.  There were NO clouds anywhere, it was possible to see Denali (Mt. McKinley), the entire Denali Park and on into the Yukon territory of Canada, we could even see the glaciers along the coast.  The pilot (Delta Airlines) said that in his 21 years of flying this route neither he nor the copilot had ever seen it so clear, he told us it was virtually a once in a lifetime event.  He was so impressed with the sight and wanted the entire plane to be able to see the sights that he contacted air traffic control to ask if he could deviate from the flight plan and turn the plane.  We were the only aircraft in the sky so air traffic control gave the pilot permission and he turned the plane so that the left side folks could have a great view, then turned it so the folks on the right side could see, wow.  It was a very large plane with a set of 5 seats in a center row so the folks sitting by the windows were getting up to let those in the center section look out their window.

As it was late in the day and we were flying away from the sun it turned dark quickly.  It had no sooner turned dark when the pilot came back on and told everyone to look out the windows.  We were treated to the most amazing display of the Northern Lights that he had ever seen.  There was a brilliant green glow stretching from behind the plane to as far forward as we could see.  Once again the pilot turned the plane and once again everyone played musical seats to all the passengers could see.  There was a child like sense of excitement and amazement on the plane, it was like we were all little kids going to Disney Land for the first time.  The beauty of the lights in the sky was almost incomprehensible, it almost did not look real the colors were so intense.  After spending a week in Alaska seeing some of the most amazing natural beauty on the planet this was simply over the top, a great way to end my Alaska AIDS Vaccine Ride adventure.

Thank you for letting me share this journey with you, I hope it gave you a flavor for the trip and helped you feel a part of the adventure.  I never could have made the trip without the incredible support of all my friends and sponsors, thank you, thank you, thank you!

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