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Old 06-21-2011, 01:33 PM   #61
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Around to Valdez

The next day we decided to go check out Valdez. The highway around, Richardson or whatever they call it, just blew us away and was probably the most memorable strip of road for the entire trip for Tina and I. Not in the sense that I wished I was riding the bike because the curves were still around 35 MPH over Thompson Pass if I remember correctly so it didnít meet my preferred pavement riding of 10 MPH switchbacks or less (according to the yellow sign of course) but itís beauty was beyond belief. But, I wonít waste your time trying to describe it, Iíll just let my camera do the talking again.









































The Rat-dog was obviously enjoying the scenery.






















That is maybe not the safest thing to do though, but I suppose neither is taking pictures while riding and I like doing that tooÖ.it just looked so cool in my rear-view mirror, too bad that didnít come out better. I do condone such dangerous behavior of course.



















































More beautiful than the most beautiful piece of artwork could ever hope to be if you ask meÖ











Öand these are just cheap copies of it.



































































































































After a good solid day and a half of driving, give or take, we made our way through the last canyon. We stopped at the falls, Bridal Veil again if Iím not mistaken, all socked in with fog giving it an eerie and enchanted feeling.











Then we drove on and headed into Valdez, decided to check out the harbor, boardwalk, and beach then look for some lunch.

























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Old 06-27-2011, 09:30 AM   #62
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The Glacier of Valdez

Speaking of socked in with fog creating an eerie and enchanted feeling, after striking out looking for employment in Denali, Homer, Seward and now Valdez, we decided to check out the glacier. It was just a little out of town and the road turned to dirt at the end. We drove to the end and took some pictures of the little bay.



























There were some sea kayaks getting back from their charter so we decided to drive off a little bit and find a little more secluded place to park. I noticed there were quite a few little dirt trails leading off the main road in that looked like exactly my type of riding, so I threw on my trusty MSR Gore-Tex, or whatever he is using these days, unloaded the bike and set off to investigate. Tina was content to chill in the truck so I popped the top for her and set off.

















There were a ton of little dirt tracks throughout there, they mostly all dead-ended into a place someone cleared out to dump their trash. They made for good riding, I was a little concerned with picking up a nail and getting a flat though.

















I love just putting around with nowhere to go, just taking every interesting little side road and track leading off to simply see where it ends. I was circling around the bay, just to see how far I could go, plus it was nice and rocky, and then I ran into a cool little cairn someone erected so I decided to take some more pictures.














Then I took this little side-track that went around for a little ways and put me out in a wash where I found some nice flowers, so I decided to take some more pics.


















(I couldnít tell which one I liked better so I put them all in, hope that is OK)


Then I navigated the slick boulder field to get a little closer to the river.







I turned around and noticed someone had a bad day many years ago out there, or simply couldn't find a better place to ditch their old junker.








Snapped a few more slightly redundant shotsÖ











Then I went over to see what the fat KLR could do on the little motocross track someone had built out there. It was kind of hard clearing the doubles, but the tabletops werenít too bad (yea right), and after a few laps in both directions I then headed back to the truck, loaded up and headed out after a quick meal and some extremely good riding.



Apparently, on the way out we saw some sort of a tunnel.








And, also another glacier, its crazy how just a slight change in light really brings out the blue.












But I do remember the magnificent painting in the sky.
















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Old 07-01-2011, 07:03 AM   #63
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McCarthy, But Especially Kennecott

Back when we first arrived in Denali a few days prior, we found out that Tina had some issues with signing up for her classes. Being summer and due to bureaucracy, resolution of the matter was slow and agonizing. Tina had been emailing but had not received a response so she wanted some internet time to send some more emails. We found a good campsite not too far off the road to McCarthy next to a hotel/restaurant/Russian Bath House with Wi-Fi; perfect for Tina, they also had Русский Стандарт (Russian Standard Vodka), perfect for me.


Since she was going to be occupied most of the day, I set off early in the AM, well not that early since it is freezing at 8 and I donít have any fancy heated gear, packed up with lunch and set out.












I stopped for the waterfall, but I didnít climb in the pool like some hooligan dirt bikers I know.











Thought this was interesting, I especially like the park about Railroad Spikes, I was looking but they are kind of hard to see at 65+ I suppose. The road out is nothing special, beautiful yes, but just graded dirt.



























It is crazy how much water there is, the rivers are massive and make navigation of the land extremely difficult unfortunately, lots of cool bridges though.



























But that one has seen better days.











Then across the discriminatory bridge for a quick stroll around. Apparently the residents didnít want cars driving into town so they put up a bridge just wide enough for an ATV to pass, making the tourists walk. I did see another bridge, but was gated, but it didn't matter for me.

















































































In August 1900, two prospectors, Jack Smith and Clarence Warner, spotted a green patch of hillside that looked like good grazing for their pack horses. The green turned out to be part of a mountain of copper ore. They, together with nine friends, formed the Chitina Mining and Exploration Company. Shortly after this time, a U.S. Geological Surveygeologist found a sample of ore that analyzed as containing 70% copper as well as silver and traces of gold. Stephen Birch, a mining engineer just out of school, was in Valdez when members of the Chitina Mining and Exploration Company arrived in the fall of 1900. Birch, who knew wealthy people in the northeastern United States, bought the prospectors' interest in the mine for $275,000. Within twenty years, the find proved to be the richest known concentration of copper in the world.


Development of the mines began immediately. Ore was taken out by pack horses on a trail to Valdez. Political battles over the mining and subsequent railroad were fought in the office of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt between conservationists and those having a financial interest in the copper.


In 1903, additional financing for the mining came from the Guggenheim family and J.P. Morgan, who formed the Kennecott Copper Corporation in 1903. The corporation and company town were named after Kennicott Glacier, which was situated in the valley below the town. The glacier was named after Robert Kennicott, a naturalist who explored in Alaska in the mid-19th century. Due to a clerical error, the corporation and town used the spelling of "Kennecott" instead of "Kennicott." It is occasionally also seen as "Kennycott."


Kennecott had five mines: Bonanza, Jumbo, Mother Lode, Erie and Glacier. Glacier, which is really an ore extension of the Bonanza, was an open-pit mine and was only mined during the summer. Bonanza and Jumbo were on Bonanza Ridge about 5 km, (3 miles) from Kennecott. The Mother Lode mine was located on the east side of the ridge from Kennecott. The Bonanza, Jumbo, Mother Lode and Erie mines were connected by tunnels. The Erie mine was perched on the northwest end of Bonanza Ridge overlooking Root Glacier about 6 km (4 miles) up a glacial trail from Kennecott. Ore was hoisted to Kennecott via the trams which head-ended at Bonanza and Jumbo. From Kennecott the ore was hauled mostly in 140-pound sacks on steel flat cars to Cordova, 196 rail miles away on the Copper River and Northwestern Railway (CRNW).


On April 8, 1911, the first ore train hauled $250,000 of 70% copper ore. In 1916, the peak year for production, the mines produced copper ore valued at $32.4 million.


In 1925 a Kennecott geologist predicted that the end of the high-grade ore bodies was in sight. The highest grades of ore were largely depleted by the early 1930s. The Glacier Mine closed in 1929. The Mother Lode was next, closing at the end of July 1938. The final three, Erie, Jumbo and Bonanza, closed that September. The last train left Kennecott on November 10, 1938, leaving it a ghost town. In the 27 years of operation, except for 2Ĺ years of shutdown, Kennecott produced 4.625 million tons of ore averaging 13 per cent copper valued at roughly $207,000,000 with an estimated profit of $100,000,000. In addition, the silver by-product from this operation brought in another 4Ĺ to 9 million dollars in revenues.


From 1939 until the mid-1950s, Kennecott was deserted except for a family of three who served as the watchmen until about 1952. In the late 1960s, an attempt was made to reprocess the tailings and to transport the ore in aircraft. The cost of doing so made the idea unprofitable. Around the same time, the company with land rights ordered the destruction of the town to rid them of liability for potential accidents. A few structures were destroyed, but the job was never finished and most of the town was left standing. Visitors and nearby residents have stripped many of the small items and artifacts. Some have since been returned and are held in various archives. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennecott,_Alaska>






Fun stops there right?
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Old 07-12-2011, 08:51 PM   #64
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The Fun Had Just Begun

When I was down in the little gift shop at the bottom I talked to Ranger Rick, he happened to be on an ATV so I figured he would give me the straight story. He said yep, 100% it is legal to ride, and that was good enough for me. I also figured that if my bike happened to fall 20 feet below the trail he would be able drag my fat pig back up if needed too. You always need to consider your outs, especially when riding by yourself.


So with that I headed up, and up, and up. There are a few houses at first and the trail is fine, but then it turns to an ATV trail and gets better. Well most people would probably use a word more like worse, rockier, steeper, nastier, gnarlier, etc., but I still say better.




























It was a bit annoying having all the hikers in the way but they seem to know who will win, so they were good at getting out of my way. Actually I am just joking, if you ever decided to try this, first drop your panniers because you wonít want them, but second and most importantly, be courteous to the hikers. For some reason they donít usually like bikers and they like to wine like little babies and are good at getting our trails shut down. SO PLEASE IF YOU TRY THIS (or any time you encounter them), KISS THEIR ASS, SLOW DOWN, WAVE AND SMILE.


It was good riding, probably the best of the entire trip as far as Iím concerned, the trail just kept climbing and climbing. I usually try to get to the end then explore the side-tracks on the way back. So I kept climbing until I ran into a nasty shelf trail with nothing but watermelon sized rocks the last half mile or so to the mine, then sat there and thought long and hard about trying it. After 18k miles the handlebars hadnít yet touched the ground and I didnít want to start there. The inside line was significantly more jagged and if I made a mistake on the outside line my fat pig would be real tough to get back up on the trail, impossible by myself.










So I decided to turn around. I thought about hiking it but I was just having too much fun riding.



















































I had passed a few turnoffs on the way up so I obviously had to investigate.



















































That one didnít go too far, but on the way up I saw an overgrown path off to the right. I then went over to it and had to think about it for a few moments. It looked pretty sketchy. It was mostly off chamber and the wet undergrowth had mostly reclaimed the narrow 2-track. My mirror got smacked and started spinning right off the bat and I was a little concerned about the mud. I have to say, my radiator shrouds did a good job of pushing the brush away, and I talked myself into continuing on.











I was a little too busy trying to keep the pig moving down the trail to take too many pictures, at one point I almost didnít make it. I was on the outside line romping it over the giggle-bushes through a particularly overgrown section and almost got bounced off the downhill side, I barely was able to hang on. But I made it to the old mining buildings.









































I was kind of sweating making it back out, riding the KLR through the rough stuff is different. The power isnít a problem, sure you canít really lift the front but you can un-weight it enough to get by. The biggest problem is the weight vs. the suspension. Maybe if I dumped a grand into suspension it would be different but mine is stock and so is my other, however the bigger problem is really just the sheer mass. It is a lot to stop. One time an inmate tried to tell me that the Ď07 and prior are better than the new gen Ď08+. Mine doesnít have enough suspension or breaks even with the one mm bigger front forks and bigger calipers, and I donít care how flimsy the plastic looks. Just donít drop it hard. Really, the key to riding the pig is to keep it smooth. Dirt biking is all about momentumÖmo-mo-mentum. But you have to be extremely careful to not beat the fat pig to death and to make sure you can stop in time. You just need to keep moving that mass down the trail as smoothly as possible, kind of like margarine.


After I made it out, I headed back down.




















But I had so much fun on the climb up to the shelf I had to do it again.


There is nothing like a good hill-climb.






























On my way back down I ran into a nice looking couple in their late 50ís walking their dog. I slowed down and waved like I always do, but this one waved me over. I should have just ignored him but in a whiny voice with granola breath, he started shaking his finger and telling me I am breaking the law. I should have just said sorry and ridden off, but I said ďLook Sir.Ē ďYou have it all wrong.Ē ďI talked to Ranger Rick and he said it is my right to ride, just like it is yours to live here in my ParkĒ (maybe not exactly).


He said, ďOh you did, did youĒ


I said ďYes I didĒ


Then he whipped out his pen and paper and proceeded to whine; ďwho did you talk to, what did he say.Ē I politely said he was wrong, after a bit of sniffling and a bit more whining, he then admitted it, it was all a lie and just his wishes.


I told him I appreciated where he was coming from but we really are not bad people, then wished him a good day as I started my bike and putted downhill.


I still had another turnoff to explore.



























































I saw a yellow Forrest Service post signaling the end of motorized access so I promptly turned around. The hiking trail looked cool, but that was not what I was there for.

On my way back the whiny granola-breath was huffing and puffing down the path hopping to catch me past Ranger Rickís line. I simply smiled and waved as I putted past. He signaled me over again but I kept rolling.











After one more shot at the bottom, I headed back over the discriminatory bridge and blasted back down the road.





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Old 07-13-2011, 05:49 PM   #65
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The Fun Had Just Begun (Contd.)






























After awhile I was back to the old railroad bridge that had seen better days.



I then saw a little path that seemed to lead up to it.











And it did. Almost. I just thought to myself, what would Julien Dupont do?




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwhgZ3gQEHk&NR=1



I think one of the road workers driving by thought I was actually going to try it because he pulled over after he looked up at me. I simply turned around and proceeded back down. But there was another trail down so I checked it out too.





















Then continued on again.





















At one point, I found another little sidetrack that needed exploration. It led me to some puffballs, but at the time I wasnít positive what they were.











Too bad because I could have had a good addition to dinner, at least I found some real good riding.































It didnít go too far and after just little bit, it dropped into a bog I didnít dare test out. However, by that time, it was starting to get dark and it was time to high-tail it back. At least the process takes hours in Alaska.



























































































What an excellent day in the saddle.
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Old 07-19-2011, 11:05 AM   #66
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So there I was, talking crap last week about how you just shouldnít drop it hard, and what do I do? Go off and slide the fat pig down the fast lane on I-70 down on the last hill headed East into Denver last Saturday, with Tina on the back none-the-less.

Yea, no bueno.

So Tina and I headed up to Rollins Pass on Saturday Morning. Tina loves the wildflowers up there and she hasnít been on the KLR yet this summer, due to a super crazy schedule with school and all, and we are about to head off on a 6 week honeymoon ride here in a month or so; so we figured it would be good to get out. On our way up to the ďtopĒ, we got a flat. Oddly enough, it was only 2 miles after my bike turned 24,000 miles old and it was the first flat tire I have ever had on it. No biggie, I propped it up on a couple rocks and my kickstand and threw in my spare 21 into the rear 17. We do it all the time; George rode 4 days in Baja like that a couple years ago on his dirt bike; it shouldnít be a big deal.



With the tire fixed, we headed to the premature end, the snow covered one of the narrow cuts and blocked you out a few miles from where they have it blocked off. So we turned around, got some food at the Last Shot and then headed into Central City and out the little Jeep trail that leads down and out to the Saint Maryís Glacier road. Then we went into Idaho Springs and around the Mount Evans road and cut back over to I-70 on the windy residential road through the expensive houses in Genesee, and came out to I-70 again.



We then decided to head back; Tina wanted the direct route so I headed down on I-70 for a while. I was about to hop off and come down Lookout Mountain but decided to keep going on I-70. I almost got off at Morrison but didnít get over in time, so I went back to the left lane. It is either the far inside or the far outside right?

Right then I had a horrible feeling and remembered my 21 inch tube in my rear tire, and started thinking I really should have gotten off at Morrison. Not 3 seconds later I fell my rear tire start to shimmy, I knew right away what had happened. It was like I was expecting it.

So there I am going with traffic on the Saturday rush back to Denver in the fast lane, 55 mph according to the police report, and my rear tire goes flat. I got on the front brake as hard as I could in an effort to scrub off as much speed as possible. At first, it wasnít too bad but the more I slowed down the more the rear tried to pass the front, back and forth, back and forth. It probably flopped 10+ times in total before I couldnít hang on any longer. For some reason I usually low-side it on the left, not sure why but it feels more comfortable to me, this time I laid it on the right side and there we were sliding down the fast lane on I-70 in the middle of traffic. I am kneeling on the bike, practically surfing it, while it is sliding but I then look down and realize Tina is not completely out from under it so I jump off to run it out, just after that Tina dropped her elbow, slows down and separates from the bike.

I would assume we couldnít have been going much more than 25mph when I laid it over because we didnít slide for too long and I didnít fall on my face when I tried to run it out. I must have been able to wrestle it and scrub off a good amount of speed before I couldnít keep a hold of it.
I looked up the hill, after we all came to a stop and I made sure Tina was OK and off the road, and there was all of I-70 stopped there behind us, at a standstill looking straight down on us. They must have seen the bike flopping back and forth and slowed way down, I am incredibly thankful that they were paying attention and we werenít run over.

After we stopped I saw Tina moving over to the side of the road and she was OK so I picked up the bike and pushed it off the road with a huge smile, WE WERE OK!!!!! A couple guys behind us did us the favor of calling 911, they did the right thing but I wish they didnít, and a minute or two later the ambulance, fire, Golden police and state troopers showed up. Tina ended up with a raspberry on her lower back and some road rash on her elbow (her old-school MSR GoreTex Jacket didnít even have a hole in it though). But her pants did:



But I came out completely unscathed other than a defective vehicle ticket.


The cheap looking, flimsy plastic didnít fare too bad though:




But the handle-bar tip, what-ya-macall-it took a new shape:



I took a bit off my exhaust pipe:


And luckily my axle nut still came off:



After it happened, I called up ArvadaGeorge. For one, my parents were out of town, but George lives close, had tubes in his shop, brought full-sized tire irons, a jack and his compressor. I have known him as long as I can remember and even worked in his shop in high school, and he was happy to help. He was there in the median between the Morison on-ramp and the C-470 exit in 20 minutes and got me back on the road.

It was weird; the steering was even still straight. But my keys werenít so luck, they ended up falling out of my pocket and laid in the middle of I-70 for a minute or two:



Tina was a little shaken up so George gave her a ride to his house while I rode home to get the car. The craziest part was when I looked at the tube the next day. I saw this one on the side of the road:



But didnít notice this little guy till the next day:




Now I donít want to get all religious and sidetrack this little story about Alaska, but it is kind of hard not to get religious after something like that. Tina said my smile was as big as she has ever seen after we stopped, while I was pushing my bike off the road, and she asked me why. I said that I was just ecstatic that we were OK after what had just happened. I will just say that it makes you feel so helpless and out of control, no matter how much you want to be in control and plan ahead. The fact of the matter is that you canít control your birth and donít control your death, but it is easiest to forget how little control we have in the middle too. Like the analogy in church the next day, we are just a little dot in time, experiencing everything through a continuous series of moments. We can only see ourselves as a snapshot in this instance, and we have no clue what our next series of moments will have in store for us. There are a lot of different explanations on how this whole life and existence on this little blue planet happened and why it happen and I guess you have to choose one. I understand how people get so many negative feelings stirred up inside them over religion and point to all the horrible things done, distorted by the sinful flesh, in the name of Christianity. I suppose you have to choose something to believe in, and I, personally, have decided to choose the one that at the heart of it believes all you need for salvation, is a relationship with Him. Tina asked me what I thought about the situation and if I was scared and basically, I feel like Godís plan for me may be to die tomorrow, or at 95, either way I have no control over it and whether or not I decide to ride motorcycles in the meantime, His plan for me will not change. And for now, until my end, I will try and drink in every series of experiences to its fullest.

I will get back to the story soon, Tina is fine and we are still planning the honeymoon ride. She is a trooper. However, I came to the realization a while ago that there is just no way I am going to be able to finish this before we leave. I am probably not even half-way done yet and things are just going to get more hectic for me over the next month. But that is OK, thank you for coming along for the ride and I will figure out if I want to try and juggle two at a time or if I should just put this one on pause until winter. I figure there are plenty of other Alaska stories at the moment to keep you guys entertained anyhow.
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Old 07-19-2011, 04:37 PM   #67
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Wow, thanks for sharing.

You know you have hundreds of AdvRider's scratching their heads with their
$2,000 and $3,000 camera's in hand compared to yours.

I don't miss Alaskan Ride Reports, and these are the best pictures I've seen, bar none.

Please excuse me while I do an ebay search for a Panasonic Lumix.
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LewisNClark screwed with this post 07-19-2011 at 05:11 PM
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Old 07-23-2011, 10:17 AM   #68
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LewisNClark, thank you thank you thank you, that is a huge compliment. It is pretty amazing how well they came out, but some are a bit grainy. It was better when I wasn't trying to zoom, that is where the high-end SLRs really show their advantage I think. The colors and lighting was just spectacular up there, all I did was try and capture it as best as possible; glad you are enjoying it.
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Old 07-23-2011, 10:28 AM   #69
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Man, this page is really starting to take a while to load. I guess I need to make my posts shorter.
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Old 07-23-2011, 10:57 AM   #70
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From there we headed to Hatcher Pass. On the way, we stopped and try to get up to the glacier, but we couldn't. There was a little subdivision overlooking it, so we pulled in.

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Old 07-23-2011, 10:58 AM   #71
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See how grainy it gets when zoomed in
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Old 07-23-2011, 11:02 AM   #72
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I found a decent angle on the hill and took a couple shots of the glacier. It wouldn't be a bad view to wake up to every morning, that is for sure.

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Old 07-23-2011, 11:07 AM   #73
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Like margarine?
 
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Now that is a bit less of a zoom, but still zoomed in, and quite distorted. But keep in mind that my Lumix is 4 or 5 years old and it was one of their mid-range models, not their top-end.
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Z_HARSH screwed with this post 07-23-2011 at 01:31 PM
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Old 07-23-2011, 01:42 PM   #74
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We also stopped on the way, and found another river.

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It is definitely the land of rivers, there is no denying that. It would have been something else trying to explore it in the early days.
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Old 07-23-2011, 01:46 PM   #75
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Ok last one, I should be all queued for the next page now, next stop Hatcher Pass.
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OHV AREAS ARE DISAPPEARING& WE NEED YOUR HELP
Go to COHVCO.ORG to purchase an SOS sticker and become a FRIEND OF COHVCO
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