First of all, this is the last post about my trip to Alaska. Hooray! Last I left you, Amanda and I had barely survived our hike up a giant mountain and committed to going to a local bar for karaoke that night. It’s basically impossible to explain how much sober Danielle hates the idea of karaoke, so it was very fortunate that Alaska has a huge amount of craft beer, because I was going to require a lot of liquid courage if I was going to be forced to sing my heart out in front of a group of strangers. But we headed to Yukon’s because really, how much more absurd could this trip possibly get?
The bar was totally packed with locals when we walked in, and we attracted a lot of attention in about 30 seconds. It was not a good kind of attention. We started looking around for Eric, who had invited us, but he was nowhere to be found. We figured we would sit at the bar for a second and wait and see if he showed up, and as luck would have it, we ended up sitting next to a very nice and very cute guy from the Coast Guard who was stationed on Kodiak Island and was about our age. He was pretty friendly, but happened to be sitting next to Amanda, who happens to be very shy. Joe was talking to Amanda about something or other when all of a sudden, a very intoxicated man in his mid-40s or so decided to walk up to Amanda and I and rub up against her back – which is exactly as gross as it sounds – while looking at me and saying “Hi, I’m drunk!” Oh geez.
He kept saying “I’m sorry, I’m drunk!” and then laughing. I was highly unamused but attempted to not be a total bitch as he increasingly moved in on both my and Amanda’s personal space. He tried to start a conversation with her, but she was so horrified and was turning 50 shades of red while simultaneously giggling and trying to ignore him. She really didn’t know what to do, and the guy was relentless, so I tried to distract him so he would leave her alone, and quickly enough, his attention was on me. I tried to make jokes with him that still encouraged him to get out of my face, but it wasn’t working.
Drunk Guy: “So, where are you from?”
Me: “South Carolina. We really value our personal space there.”
It was pretty clear that he got the hint but just didn’t care. Meanwhile, I’m burning a hole into Joe’s head, but he’s clearly not getting the hint and just keeps watching with amusement. Drunk guy kept coming in closer to me and getting his face way too close to mine, so I firmly pushed him back and asked him to keep his distance. That worked pretty well for about 2 seconds, until he started making this horrible reaching motion with his arms and it became very apparent that he was about to grab me and possibly attempt to kiss me or something else equally awkward. At this point, something came over me and I discovered a more forceful Danielle than I had known to exist. I stood up and I shoved him – HARD – and quite literally told him “Don’t fucking touch me.” Sorry for the language, but necessary. He definitely got the message when I followed that up with “Touch me again and I’ll punch you, I swear to God.”
For the record, I’m not a confrontational person at all, and I’m definitely not good at holding my ground despite many years of experience with creepy guys in bars (I do not mean that the way it may sound, but you get my point). Something about Alaska made me brave, and this trip has taught me that I can do anything – run a marathon, catch gigantic fish, climb a death trap mountain, and stand up to a creepy drunk guy, apparently. And I’m not kidding. I really would have punched him. I was actually kind of disappointed that I didn’t get the chance, and I was only half a beer in at that point. Joe and Amanda were duly impressed.
After that, I needed a drink or two, and it wasn’t very long before Amanda had roped Joe into our karaoke adventure. We also ended up seeing waterfall-repeats guy from the day before, and he was extremely drunk and totally game for karaoke as well. And thus began the process of trying to figure out a single song that met the following criteria: 1) The bar actually had it (nothing after about 2003) 2) Amanda knew the words (3 total songs, apparently) 3) The guys weren’t totally ashamed to sing it. I’m pretty sure we looked at the song book for two hours trying to figure out which songs Amanda knew the words to. We eventually realized that if it was not Whitney Houston’s timeless classic “I wanna dance with somebody,” we were out of luck, because that did not meet criteria #3. So you can see how this process went. Joe and I figured out very quickly that he and I knew pretty much every word to every song in the book, and somehow, we ended up with Alan Jackson’s “Chasing That Neon Rainbow.”
Guess who didn’t know any of the words, after all that debate? If you guessed Amanda, you’d be correct.
Upon finishing our karaoke, the four of us decided to head to a townie bar next door that promised pool and ping pong. Sol the waterfall-repeats guy was trying pretty hard to hit on Amanda, which was mostly hilarious to me because she had now had a whopping 4 beers and was as drunk as I’ve ever seen her, which is to say not drunk at all for a normal person but quite drunk for her. It was a big trip for our friendship. Meanwhile, Joe spent a lot of time trying to convince me that we were soul mates because we’ve both been divorced. It wasn’t very effective after I started using the word “boyfriend” a lot. Amanda and I ended up staying out til 3:30, which was a really good idea since we had to be ready at 8 am for our next adventure the following day.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like adventure. At least, I like adventure in theory. Generally speaking, when I’m on vacation, I want to do something active every day. If it’s outside of my comfort zone, then all the better, and bonus points if it’s going to be a great workout. So when Amanda and I had to suddenly change our plans after the mosquito apocalypse incident of 2013, we went from our original plan of 8 hours of kayaking and white water rafting (I know, SO AWESOME) and we had to come up with something that would be an adventurous, awesome workout on the fly. So what did we choose? Intense mountain biking, obviously.
The obvious questions you may be asking:
- Danielle and Amanda, have you ever mountain biked before? The score at the time was Danielle 1, Amanda 0.
- If you have only mountain biked once and Amanda never has, is this a good idea? Probably not.
- Isn’t Amanda afraid of falling down and hurting her knees? Yes. Isn’t this something that has a high probability of happening while mountain biking? Yes.
And you’re all like “Ughhh, not again, Danielle. This is a bad idea.”
So as you can see, the plan was solid gold, right? When I called our guide, he asked which tour we were interested. Our choices were threefold – the 1.5 hour easy ride, the 3 hour intermediate ride, or the 7 hour master ride. Because I’m not completely stupid, I told him we were in for the 3 hour intermediate ride and like, not to worry, because we’re marathon runners and we totally climbed Mt. Marathon the day before so like, no big deal.
Well, within about 5 seconds of being picked up by our very nice tour guide, we found out that he was planning to run the Mt. Marathon race this year. It would be his first time, and he was expecting to finish in under an hour. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE IN ALASKA? Anyway, he confirmed that we were up for the challenge of the intermediate trail and we headed out to the woods. So far, Seward had been a mosquito-free haven, but our luck was about to run out. As soon as we got on our bikes, naturally, there was a swarm. Even Karl, our guide, was shocked and said he had never seen anything like it. We sprayed ourselves down with our hardcore Alaska bug spray and continued on, but my guard was up and Amanda’s was too. She also didn’t quite have the hang of the whole bike riding thing. As in, were it not for the fact that we’ve ridden our road bikes together many times, I would swear the girl had never ridden a bike before.
To be fair, the trail was kind of technical and had these difficult sections with really steep and quick uphills with lots of roots. And we didn’t exactly have control over the bikes. I was fairing a little bit better than Amanda, but I was getting off the bike to push it up hills much more often than I would have liked. It wasn’t so much a matter of not having the strength to get up the hills as it was that we couldn’t really control the bikes over all of the roots and around the trees and stuff. I was fine going downhill and on the flatter parts and even going over some of the sections that had steps built in, but Amanda was getting off her bike and walking pretty much every 10 feet. It was not a good situation, and it appeared our 3 hour ride was on the verge of becoming a 6 hour ride. There were definitely shrieks and possibly even an utterance of “the s word” a time or two.
I had been talking with our guide a good bit while we would stop and wait for Amanda, and it was apparent that she was becoming more scared and more hesitant, so I suggested that it might be best if we headed back and maybe tried the easy trail instead. Hey, I’m not too proud to admit that we may have overshot a bit when we went after the intermediate level ride. No big deal. I’m pretty sure Karl was relieved.
So we headed back over to the easy trail, during which time Karl proved his worth as a guide by nonchalantly mentioning that the easy trail was very near Exit Glacier, which was just a short hike from the roadway. It’s almost like he knew that Amanda had been dying to visit a glacier since we got to Alaska! He gave us the choice of biking on the easy trail or taking the bikes along the road and riding over to the trailhead for Exit Glacier and then hiking up to the glacier and taking pictures. I think by this point our sense of adventure had been sufficiently depleted, because I didn’t even hesitate to tell Karl that I thought biking on the road would be the best choice.
Not much of a mountain biking adventure, right? But sure enough, Amanda and Karl and I parked the van and then biked a couple of miles down the road to the trail head. It was a really walk of a little over a mile, although I’m pretty sure anything would have felt like an easy hike compared to the evil Mt. Marathon. In no time at all, we had arrived at the glacier. My inner nerd personally really enjoyed the little signs posted along the roads and trails that showed the extent of the glacier at different points in history. It was amazing to see how much the glacier had receded over the past 150 years, but it’s still beautiful, even if it is a little dirty.
That was pretty much the end of our mountain biking adventure. Clearly, it was for the best, and I’m super glad that we didn’t go on a tour with like a billion pro mountain bikers, because if we had had to continue on that tour, I think it would have ended really poorly for everyone involved. So maybe it wasn’t the workout that we were hoping for, but if I learned one thing during our trip to Alaska, it’s definitely to expect the unexpected. And I think that’s a pretty good life lesson, don’t you?