Scenic 150 Ride to Save Lives

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“We conclude that blood lives of itself and that it depends in no ways upon any parts of the body. Blood is the cause not only of life in general, but also of longer or shorter life, of sleep and waking, of genius, aptitude, and strength. It is the first to live and the last to die.”

-William Harvey, 1651

         Of course we understand that’s not true, but Harvey knew something we all intuit. Blood is unparalleled in importance and defining of life; and death. We use it to invoke or posses birth, ancestry, optimism, loss, and passion. American Indian Tribes and Los Angeles gangs adopt it as their title and identity. We have used the word for 500 plus years, and it hasn’t lost its value or vitriol. We understand it to mean life. How pernicious, then, are diseases which pollute and corrupt our most lasting and meaningful representation of life?

           

By the time you’ve read to this point, it is likely someone in the US is getting the news they have a blood cancer. By the time you finish reading this blog, it is likely someone has died from blood cancer. These deaths will likely account for ~10% of all cancer related deaths in 2017. Absolutely appalling. That means, world wide, we will lose enough people to fill Lambeau over 9x in one year. That’s nearly 152x the personnel we lost in combat in all post 9/11 conflicts. They will be our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and children. Cancer does not care. It is an indiscriminate killer. Due to that, we aim to eradicate it. You can help.


Please donate $1, $5, $20, $1000; whatever you can afford and I will ride 150 plus miles along lake Michigan’s shore caring my tent and gear with me as I go. Those who know me, know this isn’t out of character riding, but keep in mind, those funds will likely save someone you love. They may even save you.

           Please donate even the smallest amount and help us save at least one more life this year. Thank you for your time.

-Dan Roberts

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References

“Cancer Mortality”. Aicr.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

“Facts And Statistics | Leukemia And Lymphoma Society”. Lls.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

“‘Over 5,000 US Soldiers Killed Since 9/11’ – Marine Corps General”. RT International. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

“Packers.Com | Lambeau Field – Stadium Info – History – Lambeau Expansions”. Packers.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.


Alaska – Alyeska – Day 4 and 5 (Avoiding repetitive redundancy)

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This mountain is reflecting off the Turnagain Arm of the Cook Inlet while the tide was in. In a matter of hours the water completely receded and silt and ice chunks are all that’s left

Video link of the Cook Inlet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZqW8AV7CtE)

In an effort to not beat a dead horse (you get it. We skied) I am going to consolidate the last few days. Saturday and Tuesday I spent in Anchorage. It’s, to say the very least, a unique city. Sprawling, vast, populous, and seemingly unaware of it. Frankly the only thing that truly reminded me of a larger city was the traffic. There are over 300,000 people living in Anchorage, which is about 40% of  the entire population of

Twice the size of Texes

Twice the size of Texes

Alaska. The city became important during the ’30’s and 50’s as an air transportation hub and grew to what it is today largely for that reason. While it is primarily white population, I was amazed by the diversity. I met people from all regions of the world. More than once people told me they were also from Wisconsin, and those who weren’t said, “Oh, you’re from Madison. Where is the other city in Wisconsin?”, meaning Milwaukee of course. Talk about getting an outsiders perspective on where you live. The hotel Josh and I stayed at had two very cheery and amenable native women working the desk and when we got to our room someone had taken all the batteries out of the remotes (classy) so we called the smiling clerks. They sent a man who I believe was from Japan with batteries. Anchorage doesn’t strike you as a large city but rather a bunch of mid-sized cities clustered very close together.

This is the stand alone mountain the print was based on

This is the stand alone mountain the print was based on

The people are friendly and move at a glacial pace. Everyone speaks slowly and wants to chat. I deposited a check at the bank and it took nearly twenty minutes. Not because the teller wasn’t good at her job. She just wanted to talk about anything and everything. We stopped at information center, where a very classy and distinguished woman gave me vague landmark based directions to local artist galleries. Josh and I did find a charming local artist’s store just down the road called Sevigny Studio where I got a beautiful matted print reinterpreting a local mount called The Sleeping Lady.

I attribute their pace of life to being at the mercy of the elements so often. It’s hard to get road rage at an avalanche. The music is blend of hippie and southern and all the cars are big tired and four-wheel drive. I even saw a Saturn sedan with a three-foot lift kit. Overall I really liked it there, but I would have a very tough time slowing down to match pace. Anchorage was wonderful place to visit, but I’m not sure I would want to live there.

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Sun trying to peak through on the wooded part of northface

The final days on the hill had our group thinning. The conditions on Sunday were quite nice, but most of the great snow had been chewed up. We were also fatigued and slowly but surely the Stizmark claimed more and more of us. Josh, Kelly, Brandt, and I finished at the average time and met Byron who had decided to catch up with friends after lunch at the Sitzmark rather than go back out on the hill. We sat and drank and chatted. They began clearing the main dining area for a bag toss tournament. Awesome. By the time we left Josh’s Jeep was the only vehicle left in the lot. He and our D.D. jumped in and since it was loaded with gear Brandt and I walked the few blocks back to the house. I was beat and fell asleep sitting up on the couch. Josh wasn’t going to stand for it and roused me with left over pizza from Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria we had bought earlier. If you are ever in Anchorage, check that place out. Great great ‘za, they brew their own beer, and since everyone knows beer tastes best straight from the tap, they sell half-gallon growlers to go. Just great.

Eventually we succumbed to the sand man.

On the last day, most of the snowboarders had left for Minnesota and only the skiers remained. Byron, Brandt, and Kelly had to catch a flight back to their respective homes and I flew out the next day. We gathered up our gear and cleaned up the house. The owner called Jackson and let him know we didn’t have to be out at the normal time since there was no one coming in after us. So great, and we had that much more time to fix the disarray a dozen guys create in a few days. To be honest Josh did most of it. He took Kelly and I to the hill and went back to house to play taxi for our other compadres and finish picking up. The power had gone out that morning and when Kelly and I got inside the shop there was a line wrapping around the bend since the computers were down. The night before the kind employees of Alyeska Resort had taken my rental skis off the racks outside the chalet before I came down from the Sitzmark. I became concerned I would not be able to get my skis since there were so many people waiting to rent. I walked up to one of the aimless listless employees at the rental counter and explained what had happened. Lucky for me they weren’t able to check them back in  because of the power outage. They made sure my boot still fit and handed them back over. Hurrah silver lining. The lifts obviously weren’t working without power, but by the time Kelly and I suited up, it was just a fifteen minute wait and off we went one more time into the fray.

Kelly on our "blue bird day"

Kelly on our “blue bird day”

It was what everyone called a “blue bird day”, which in skiing terms seems to mean it is lovely out. Why they call it this I don’t know. I did not see any blue birds. It is possible blue birds are inverse vampires who only can come out in sunlight. In any case it was gorgeous. On the southface the ungroomed runs were pretty chewed up and rough so Kelly and I kept to the groomers and northface.  It was fun to ski the groomers after spending so much time on more intense back country and double blacks. You could lean back and cruise. According to my sport tracker app Kelly and I were reaching speeds of around sixty miles an hour. Two sticks and gravity. Who woulda thought. We skied at a leisurely pace and enjoyed our final looks at the majestic scenery surrounding us. Once our legs were worn through, we went back to the

On the trail by Josh's house

On the trail by Josh’s house

Sitzmark one last time for one last beer while we waited for Josh to come and shuttle us to Anchorage.

Kelly and Brandt said their good byes and headed to the airport. Josh had just moved to Anchorage and had not a stick of furniture in his wood floored apartment. That was not going to cut the mustard after a week or so of hard skiing, so we hopped in the car and headed over to the America’s Best Value Inn Executive Suite Hotel. I know, someone really likes adjectives. The room was cheap and neat. The bathroom fan was annoyingly louder than a jet engine and the TVs (two) were bolted down 19″ console boxes, but beds were in separate rooms giving privacy and guaranteed a solid night’s sleep.  Not to shabby for about $30 a person. The next day we went on a short hike close to Josh’s apartment and meandered around Anchorage looking for moose, a common sight in the city, but of course when you are looking for something you never seem to find it. Interesting fact about moose: More people are killed every year by moose than bears. They are not friendly and will charge you. If that should happen try to get behind a tree and they will probably lose track of you since they have poor eyesight. We did however see some reindeer in someone’s yard. It appeared they were being kept there as pets. I ate my final Alaskan meal at Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant, another place you need to try if you are ever up there. Then it was to the airport for the red eye flight. Happily the fight is shorter on the way back largely because of jet-steams, but also impart due of the rotation of the earth. Also, the movies were free on the way back. Go Delta! Jackson picked me up in St. Paul about 6 am and we went back to his house and I crashed out until 1 PM.

All and in all just a wonderful trip and I highly recommend going to Alaska for the view, the people, and most of all the skiing. Unparallelled.

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Alaska Is Happiness

Drive fast, take chances, and thanks for reading.

-Danger


Alaska – Travel – Day 1 (2000 miles in a day)

To cover nearly 2000 miles in day is not much of a feat anymore involving mostly sitting for 10 or so hours. However the moments between movement merit telling. I started out from Madison at 9 AM in my fly whip (a 1994 Mazda Protege) Imageheaded toward Minneapolis. I had done some work on it the days before and the lower ball joint had the nut chiseled off, but after a few hours of banging at the rust it held fast. Good enough for me, so in the hands of fate and tire back on I rolled off. Along with the suspension having some issues the hood had begun to come unlatched at high speeds. Not open mind you, but slightly elevated like when you pop your hood. Disconcerting to say the least. I stopped and bought a bungee cord. I shut the hood with gusto and It seemed latched so, not wanting to look the gift horse in the mouth, I didn’t pop it to attach the bungee. 100 miles later the hood popped and wobbled in the wind once again. Having made more than one stop to fuel up (did I mention the gas tank leaks if I fill it all the way) I decided to test fate further and continue on to make the flight. To my relief (and anyone else on the freeway noticing my jalopies condition) I made it unscathed and in good time. Jackson Morgan (sounds like a pirate’s name, awesome), Josh’s cousin, let me ditch the gear I opted against bringing and car at his place. Being a frequent flier he briefed me on what to expect at the airport. Honestly I was a little anxious about the whole ordeal. Turns out the airlines and TSA have a bad rep for little reason as far as I am concerned. Jackson dropped me off at St. Paul’s International Airport, and after a few words of advice we parted ways.

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Pretty much how Josh always looks

Although the airport is more or less idiot proof, I still was confused about what order to do everything. The attendants were helpful and courteous. After registering for the flight and checking my bag I had to go through the dreaded T.S.A. Seriously America, what. is. the. big. deal? I am not a terribly wholesome looking person (it didn’t help I was wearing a t-shirt with a riot depicted on it) but the TSA employees were nothing if not calm, accommodating, and efficient. The full body scan took all of 3 seconds. I was expecting a rubber glove, but seriously… 3 seconds. Getting a preferred buyers card at a mall is more invasive. After reinserting my piercings and strapping on boot and belt I was off to my gate. I had some time to kill so I sat down at a pub within eyesight of the gate, got a shot of Jack, a Sam Adams, and fish and chips. Expensive no doubt, but it served to prep me for the prices in Alaska. After an hour or two of web browsing on the slow but free airport WIFI I boarded. While there is nothing inherently magical about the chute they herd you down to the plane, I think everyone remembers the first time they climbed into a sky-bound metal tube. I had a window seat and goddam, those things accelerate like a bat out hell. Having only been in prop planes I was grinning ear to ear as we climbed past 10,000 feet in moments. I of course didn’t shut down my phone so I could film the wings on take off. Happily this didn’t cause us to fall out of the sky. A word to the wise. If you are flying over a different country you departed from, don’t buy the in flight WIFI. I felt so bad for saps who had since the majority of the direct flight was over Canada and WIFI was not available. Flying is comparable to riding in a cramped train through Nebraska except with clouds instead of corn. The ride was smooth and we landed in Anchorage’s Ted Stevens International Airport (fun fact: Ted Stevens was an Alaskan Senator who ironically died in a plane crash) ahead of schedule and without complication. I had to wait a moment for my bag which gave Josh, who was just getting out of Whittier due to an avalanche blocking the road, enough time to get the airport. There was another guy in our party flying in a few hours later so we went to an Irish Pub in Anchorage to kill some time. There was a traditional Irish folk band playing at the pub, banjo, washboard and the like. Josh and I started hashing out plans for the week when the bartender overheard us talking about needing lift passes. He sold us two lift tickets for half the price they would be on the hill. Gotta love the Alaskan Irish. Still having time to kill we hit the grocery store. Two bags of basic groceries cost $75. Amazing. If you go to Alaska, double your food budget. I got a handle (1.75 Liter) of Jack Daniels for $20 off and it was still $7 more than in Wisconisn. We snatched up Byron from the Airport and it was off to Girdwood through a snow storm on one of the most dangerous highways in North America.

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Byron (L) and Kelly (R) waiting for the Tram

We got to our beautiful rented house mere blocks from the hill around 11 PM (mind you its 1 o’clock for me since I lost 3 hours) where the rest of the crew had partied themselves to sleep, save two. Byron, while currently a white water rafting guide, had previously been ski patrol at Alyeska Resort for about 12 years and was itching to reunite with the locals. Kelly and Brandt, the two left standing (or more accurately, swaying), joined Josh, Byron, and myself to the Silvertip affectionately known as “The Dive”. Personally I didn’t find it to suit the nomenclature. After drinks and making some new friends we more less closed the bar and started stumbling home. At this point I decided to tackle Kelly, a poor choice since he had several inches and pounds on me.  As Josh later put it, he gave me a face wash using only his index finger. Byron had the same idea and tackled me, except it wasn’t me for I was already embattled with Kelly. Byron had tackled some poor guy on his walk home. When the hapless bystander came up swinging Byron very quickly realized it was not me. After much apologizing and slurred explanations the random attackie gave his forgiveness and walked the rest of the way with us. Arriving home we had a night cap and shuffled off to our much welcome beds.

In summation, it took me about 10 hours of travel from Madison, Wisconsin to Girdwood, Alaska, TSA has an undue bad rap, Alaska has a severe (however warranted) food cost mark up, and make sure you know who you tackle on the street.

Drive fast, take chances, and thanks for reading.

-Danger