"Mike? You made it!!!" I looked up to see a jubilant Clare inch through the cramped cafeteria to give me a hug. Sam smiled from the table and rose to shake my hand. "I'm happy you two are okay!" I replied. They explained that they arrived the day prior and had wet but not nearly as snowy conditions for their 240mi push. I introduced them and Charles to Ken and proceeded to devour my plate, returning for seconds.
Well fed and warming, it was time to pay for the extravagant meal. I was ready to pick up Ken's tab when he handed the clerk his credit card and paid for, not only the room, but also my meal! I was speechless. No matter of money pushing or protest would be accepted. He wished to treat me, the idiot who rode there on a scooter. I felt guilty and humbled all at once. We both fought the weather that day yet deep in his heart he held the capacity to care and be generous to me, a complete stranger. That day, Ken changed my life. I would be sure to pass it forward in the future whenever possible. Wow.
I unloaded some gear and quickly made my way to the showers. Steaming hot water thawed my weary bones. I moaned in absolute elation and release while my skin changed color back to normal as blood began to flow more freely to the whitened extremities. I savored the heat until it hurt then towelled off and retired to the single bed. Ken and I shared a few stories and events before fatigue overtook me. "I feel like I've been running on adrenaline for hours and it finally ran out" said Ken shortly before drifting off to sleep. Rainstreaks patterned the glass and ticked off the metal roof. I was safe, warm and dry. I had survived the trip from Coldfoot to the Arctic. I had achieved my "goal" to ride to Prudhoe Bay. A well earned smile stretched across my face and I fell fast asleep.