I’m biking across America this summer and taking a picture
of everyone I meet.

Patty Ryan-Staples

Patty Ryan-Staples

At a grocery store in Kenny Lake, we asked the cashier if we could make dinner on the porch. “Sure,” she said.

I was mid-way through cooking the rice when the owner of the compound barged towards me and yelled out “You are so rude! Why would you think it would be okay to do that on my property?”

I calmly explained that the cashier inside told us we could and that we would move to a nearby picnic table. 

“It’s $15 to rent a picnic table.”

Erik and I promptly moved our picnic across the street to a pull out and tried to laugh off the situation.

The next day was a total 180º. That was the day we met Patty. 

We woke up on the side of a church and decided to get coffee at a lodge across the street.

We walked in and found Patty, a soft-talking, sweet woman in her 70’s behind the counter. She would quickly became our second trail mother (shout-out to Donna Strange, our first trail mother!).

Everyone in a 50 mile radius knows who Patty is. She’s the owner of JP’s Golden Spruce Cabins. Her husband John, a prolific woodworker, passed away this January. Patty’s eyes light up when she talks about him. His memory lives on in the intricate wood carvings and cabins he built by hand. As we packed up our bikes to leave, she told us how much she appreciated seeing young people taking advantage of life.

We pedaled away and agreed that we needed to find a way to stay at her lodge on our way back towards Valdez. And we did! A few days later, she treated us to a cabin on the house. We learned more about her story and interviewed her for the film. When I told her about our habit of making G.O.R.P. (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts), a DIY trail mix, she made sure to gift an addition of apricot seeds.

We hugged goodbye for a good 30 seconds.

“You can’t leave now, you’re family!”

Billy Smith

Billy Smith

The 17th CSSB Army Unit

The 17th CSSB Army Unit