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Old 06-05-2011, 10:55 PM   #1
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You Don't Have To Go “All The Way” For It To Be Enjoyable

Another chapter in the saga of Traveling With HayDuchessLives – And Surviving

Summer has once again arrived in Alaska, and that means those of us who survived another winter are on the loose, ready to commit mayhem wherever our bikes will take us. Memorial Day weekend being the traditional start of the summer season up here, and the weather on the Dalton Hwy promising to be favorable, the decision was made to repeat last year's successful conquering of the Haul Road (chronicled here: HayDee Is No Longer A Virgin)

The original plan was to meet in Fairbanks, spend the night at the UAF dorm, then get an early start Saturday morning for Deadhorse, going “all the way” together. HayDuchessLives (hereinafter called, simply, HayDee) wasn't terribly enthused about doing the 495 miles to the northern end in one push, as she does not consider herself to be a real hard core distance rider, even though she had managed the roughly 480 mile round trip from Wiseman to Deadhorse and back last year at this time quite capably. That was the trip where she went “all the way” (to Deadhorse) with Beamertwin, losing her Haul Road virginity in the process.

So when yours truly had a typical flash of brilliance (hey – it's my story, and I can embellish it all I want to ) while riding down the highway a few days earlier, an executive decision was made (with the appropriate fear and trembling, I might add) to alter the plan. We would now ride up to Wiseman for Saturday night, and then, since neither of us had ever done so, ride to the small town of Manley at the end of the Elliott Hwy on Sunday, and enjoy a liesurely day there, in addition to taking a soak in the hot springs for which the small town is known. To my amazement, HayDee concurred, so reservations were made, and planning continued along the new lines.

Two friends who are in the midst of a 23,500 mile circumnavigation of North America were a couple of days behind schedule, and meeting them along the Tok Cut-Off on the same afternoon I was scheduled to be in Fairbanks left this rider looking at arriving in that city far behind schedule. Not a serious problem in itself, but having made the mistake of admonishing HayDee to be there early, it would not do to be late myself. The risk was too great and I certainly didn't want HayDee berating me for the entire weekend. Fortunately, there was an abundance of rabbits to be found almost the entire distance, and the City on the Chena was attained in record time, much to my relief.

Might mention here that the temperatures in Interior Alaska were soaring, with the lowest between Glennallen and Fairbanks being at the summit of Isabel Pass when the thermometer indicated 69°. Scooting across the Mitchell Expressway en route to the UAF dorms, at the Peger Rd intersection the thermometer showed 91°, the highest on this trip.

Even being in a hurry, there was time for a quick snack stop along the Richardson Hwy and a photo of the Delta River valley looking back toward Black Rapids -


After a quick check-in at the dorm, we walked over to the home of AKBeemer and “Spousal Unit”, arriving only fashionably late, delighted to find Mr & Mrs Solarmoose there as well. SU was busily grilling marinated beef, while AKB was tending to liquid refreshments. Conversation ensued, naturally. To add to the enjoyment, shortly after HayDee and I got there, the legendary George Rahn and his S. O. showed up. Having heard about him for years, it was a real pleasure to finally meet, and converse with, this talented and knowledgeable gentleman. Oddly enough, although we are both motorcycle buffs, most of the conversation centered on vintage Hudson automobiles. Really enjoyed the time, and am thankful to Beemer and S. U. for putting it together and inviting us.

All too soon HayDee and I had to return to the dorm in order to get some shut-eye before the alarms sounded in the AM. Despite eliminating the need to ride all the way to Deadhorse, we hoped to make it to the top of Atigun Pass before returning to Wiseman for a night's rest.

Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny. The temperature had dropped overnight, which made sleeping much more comfortable, but the rising sun gave promise of another warm to hot day, especially for those of us unaccustomed to temperatures much above 70° F. To augment the supplies we each had carried from our respective homes, we made a quick stop at Wally World to get a few last minute items, including ½ gallon of milk for breakfast Sunday morning. Then it was off to Hilltop Truckstop for gas and grub.

Following the sterling examples set by previous ride report authors, we decided that it was time to add some food porn to a ride report otherwise cluttered with photos of boringly beautiful mountains, valleys, and other natural attractions. Her breakfast order (recognizable scrambled eggs and homefries, plus something unrecognizable , but I assumed it was something HayDee deemed healthy, as she likes to eat healthy) -


Mine (easily recognizable as scrambled eggs, homefries, wheat toast, and scorched reindeer sausage) -


It started out innocently enough, but while I'm sure HayDee's mother told her not to play with her food, it was a lesson quickly forgotten, as can be seen throughout this report. The first example -


Always thinking ahead (at least when it comes to dessert) a little recon was in order -

and -


Outside Hilltop, the two bikes waited patiently, ready to get underway -


From Hilltop it's just about 65 miles to the start of the Dalton Highway/Haul Road/AK-11 at Mile 0. Along those miles are hills, potholes, sweepers, tight curves, and a lot of other enjoyable features for a rider headed for fun on a sunny summer morning. We turned in to the large pull-out across from the Livengood turn-off to air down our tires and check the bikes over before hitting the gravel just three miles up the highway.


While HayDee professes supreme confidence in her Dump... her, uh, Lovely DR, it seemed she was giving it a stern talking to as we prepared to get back on the road. But then... I think she may have realized what she just did, and appeared to be begging forgiveness. Then again, she might have been praying that the pitiful little KLR wannabe would not break down in front of the proudly masculine bike standing tall behind it (her).




After that, it was onward and northward; next stop: The Yukon River for gas and a pit stop.

HayDee's DR having a smaller tank than that on my KLR, HayDee topped it off with gas at Yukon Crossing's pump. With an ongoing thread here on ADVrider entitled “Show us your bike @ the bridge“, we felt compelled to get a few shots of our bikes on the Yukon River bridge, being that we were right there. HayDee patiently complied with my instructions, both as bike rider and photographer. The following two photos, which can be viewed in about 2.1 nanoseconds each, are the result of over ½ hour of grueling labor under the intense heat of the noonday sun.




(Please post favorable comments even if you think they look like crap. )

Next, it was up to Hot Spot for a quick snack. HayDee said she wasn't hungry until I mentioned that I was buying. So we had a couple of root beer floats and enjoyed walking around in the aptly named breezeway, looking over the wide variety of gifts and tourist “momentoes”. HayDee had to touch, as well as look, but I managed to stop her from filing a complaint just in time.


From Hot Spot our next planned stop was the Arctic Circle wayside, where we would get the obligatory photos in front of the sign, despite already having quite a collection with various bikes from previous rides.

Around Mackey Hill, Mile 87 or so, we ran into wet gravel and mud, as DOT was watering and grading from there to the beginning of pavement at Mile 90, so we got to enjoy a couple miles of slop and soft spots to make us appreciate the pavement even more.

Before we reached the Arctic Circle, however, another bridge loomed ahead, over one of my favorite rivers. This time HayDee did the honors with the camera, and yers truly was the one wasting gas.


That little chore done, it was time to climb over the next ridge, drop down the gravel hill that is Beaver Slide, and dodge a few hundred potholes as we rode the few more miles to the Arctic Circle wayside. A tour bus driver was kind enough to snap a few photos of HayDee and me as we posed with the bikes, none of us looking quite as clean and tidy as we had when we departed the UAF dorms that morning.

Then back on the road to accomplish the enjoyable paved (for the most part) miles to Coldfoot.

For several years there has been a patch of gravel on a decreasing-radius corner at the bottom of a slight grade right around Mile 126.5. The patch took up over 2/3 of the outside lane, and I would warn any riders accompanying me to be aware of it. This year it sported its own, identifying sign, although HayDee appeared to be unsure of the reason behind the name -


Over Gobbler's Knob without stopping for any photos, down across some more potholes, past Pump 5 and through the fun curves mingled with the bridges over Jim River, then once again beginning to climb. Just past Grayling Lake the blue sky, sunlit mountains, and general beauty of the place compelled a stop for a photo -


And just a few miles farther, still more, with HayDee already stopped to photograph the South Fork of the Koyukuk with the highway and pipeline crossings -


Being that the view from that hilltop is one of my favorites as well, yers truly snapped a couple of shots too -


Photos taken, we again pushed on, thoroughly enjoying the warmth and the beautiful scenes unfolding ahead as we traveled. A stop at Coldfoot to fuel up again and to check the buffet schedule to make sure we wouldn't be reduced to eating granola bars tonight, and we set off to get checked in to our lodging in Wiseman.

That done, a few things unloaded that didn't need to go any farther with us, we headed for Atigun Pass. The heat was still overbearing, at least for a couple of Alaskans who rarely get a chance to acclimate to such elevated temperatures (without traveling to the southern South 48 states), so we welcomed the slight drop as we continued north, with increasing elevation. At the end of pavement, now Mile 195, DOT was watering and grading, but mostly just smoothing the surface, and only for a few miles, so this did little to slow us down, or to coat our bikes with the usual snot. Sukakpak came into view around Mile 194, and by Mile 200 it was too good to not stop for more photos. HayDee was obviously a bit slower than me this time -


Even the scenery behind us was acceptable -


Continuing up the Dietrich Valley we just enjoyed more of the same -


HayDee stopped around Mile 236 and got a shot or two of the climb to Chandalar Shelf, but I waited 'til we got to the top and were able to look out across the Shelf to the east -


After that, it was just another 7 or 8 miles to the top of the pass, where the temperature was a delightful 54°F. Cool enough that there were no mosquitoes or other insects, and we took the time to shoot a few more photos. One looking down to the Atigun Valley on the north side -


And another of HayDee photographing the cirque at the top, no doubt planning a future climb up to the top of the ridge to get a better view -


So that was how we both "got on top” (of Atigun Pass, that is). Next installment: Going A Little Farther Than We've Ever Gone Before.
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The Lure of the Dalton, The Lure of the Dempster, Haul Road Chronicles, My Evening Rides, Alaska Primer
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Alcan Rider screwed with this post 06-06-2011 at 05:05 PM Reason: It's my keyboard's fault
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:53 PM   #2
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niiice
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
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Can I post some of my photos too??!!
Of course! If you didn't, I was planning on berating you.

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Originally Posted by HayDuchessLives View Post
She's tough, spirited, determined, and loves getting dirty!
We talking about the bike? Or the rider?

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Old 06-06-2011, 09:25 AM   #4
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Was great to meet up with you two at Akbeemers temporary abode.
I'm sure it was a slip of the finger; it was George Rahn (not rahm) you were
conversing with.
I like the first bridge picture. Like something out of Blazing Saddles, or was it The Good The Bad and The Ugly...
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:53 AM   #5
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I'm sure it was a slip of the finger; it was George Rahn (not rahm) you were conversing with.
Thanks for the correction. This keyboard has been misspelling a lot of works lately. Fortunately, my smell chucker is still working flawlessly, although it can't help with pooper nuns. The keys have begun sticking, which may be a contributing factor. Putting it in the dishwasher didn't seem to help. Do you think I should run it through again?
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:06 PM   #6
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I kind of like "The Good The Bad and The Ugly," as the Good obviously refers to me, and the Bad must be the Geezer (), but I sure as heck don't know what's Ugly.
A hint: What's black and white and rode all over?

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I am referring to my bodacious bike! I am definitely purchasing another DR some day and storing it in Montana.

Yeah. Riding a DR, it's probably a good idea to have a spare.





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Old 06-06-2011, 05:03 PM   #7
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Part II: Going A Little Farther Than We've Ever Gone Before.

Before we headed down off the pass, HayDee felt she had to give my KLR one of her infamous hugs. For those who aren't familiar with those, any bike that HayDee hugs, sits on, or sometimes just hovers near – is likely to suffer incapacitating mechanical or electrical failures. It seems she can't understand why my KLR hasn't succumbed to her “power”, and keeps trying to work her evil magic upon it. It's the only way her DR will ever be made to seem superior.


Down we went to Coldfoot for the dinner buffet, where we were so busy enjoying the steaks and trimmings we forgot our vow to capture lots of food porn. Maybe next time. Then back to Boreal Lodging at Wiseman for a good night's sleep so as to be ready for the trip over to Manley – farther than either of us had been on the Elliott Highway.

Next morning the sun was already well up in the sky (if it had ever gone down) when we walked outside a little after 7:30 AM. Having eaten a late dinner, we agreed that the Hot Spot would be a good place to stop for brunch that would get us all the way to Manley for dinner. So at 8:15 HayDee was loading the side boxes on her DR in preparation for a leisurely departure. One set of guests had departed earlier, but there were still two more sleeping in.






Rather than the 16 miles of gravel that had to be traveled to Coldfoot in the past, there were now 3 miles of gravel out to the highway, then 13 miles of fresh, new asphalt, which we thoroughly enjoyed.




Being that it was breakfast time, the parking lot at Coldfoot had quite a few northbound trucks parked together, while the drivers sat inside and swapped lies. Sort of like when a bunch of motorcyclists get together. Southbound drivers would be leaving Deadhorse after breakfast up there, and arriving in Coldfoot in time for lunch.


We topped off our fuel tanks here in Coldfoot, then hit the road southward. As was the case on our northbound leg, we reached the area near Mackey Hill where DOT was doing what they have become notorious for – rearranging the bumps through the use of enough water to float an aircraft carrier, and graders to turn the hard surface into a quagmire. Being close enough to witness HayDee's DR wiggle its fanny in delightful female fashion, I dropped my speed to something near that of walking. HayDee dropped hers – briefly – to the speed limit. While my KLR slithered on, the sheepskin seat pad vacuumed up into a region where there is no danger of sunburn (to which I can attest, having had my own head there a time or two), my hands firmly clutching the handgrips, with my brain screaming “let go and jump, you fool, while there's still a chance for survival”, HayDee was disappearing off into the distance, completely oblivious to the slick mud.

Unscathed, we rolled into Hot Spot not too long after it had opened in the morning (Hours: 10 AM 'til midnight) and sat down to another enjoyable meal. This time we remembered the cameras. Hers -


Mine -


And both absolutely delicious!

I believe HayDee thought she might have dropped a piece of pickle; decided she'd try to find it and save it for lunch -


Seeing that this wasn't her day...


...she went outside to take some pictures -

(Just between you and me, I think she keeps trying to find the right angle to make her DR look like a decent bike. Talk about hopeless... )

As we pulled out of Hot Spot at 12:45 in the early afternoon, a glance at the thermometer on my handlebars revealed that it was already up to 85°F. Here we were, just 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle in late May, and it was heading for 90°. Hot Spot was certainly living up to its name! (NOTE: Since 1983 Alaska has been on double Daylight Savings Time during the summer, so our clocks are 2 hours ahead of the sun. This means that at 12:45 PM, the sun is still over an hour from being at its zenith, or “high noon”.)

Once again, we stopped at Yukon Crossing so HayDee could top off her fuel tank. Yers truly rode across the highway to make use of the facilities BLM has provided for travelers.

One of the things I noticed on this trip were all the surveying gadgets set up along the Haul Road. As long as we were stopped, I got a shot of one -


And then – since we were back at the Yukon River bridge, we got another bike-on-the-bridge shot -


With that finished, we headed on south again.

A couple of years ago, curious about the old, abandoned section of the Haul Road between Miles 18 and 23, I took the loop. Not another soul anywhere in sight, and it was an enjoyable diversion. So as we worked our way toward the turn-off, I got in front of HayDee and stopped where the old road meets the new pavement. A brief discussion to assure her that we could turn back if it got too rough, and off we went.

Having followed HayDee as she successfully negotiated mud, sand, gravel, pavement, tight turns, long, lazy sweepers... totally nonplussed by any combination thereof, it was evident she was capable of something a little more challenging and I was convinced she could handle this. Fortunately, whoever has a mine or cabin back in there had dragged a dozer blade over the worst of the ruts and ridges. Still, it was loose shale under our tires as we climbed, and we climbed, and we climbed... as did my temperature gauge. In first gear for 95% of the distance, occasionally bottoming the forks at the bottom of a sharp dip, or bouncing the skid plate off a tall rock. The rear TKC80 digging for traction in the loose shale at times, the front tire at alternate times suggesting a direction other than the one chosen by the rider. But as the trail decreased its grade near the top, with a smooth gravel surface, we stopped for some photo-taking, both with wide grins. Despite her few years as a rider, HayDee is very competent, and I wouldn't hesitate to take her anywhere... except maybe, out in public, but that's a story for another time.

Photos from near the top of the hill -




And from the top. Ahead -


Behind -


and -


The section of old road that we just came up -


Looking out across the Hess Creek valley, the turn-off that we took to get here is visible, while above and to the left of that is 25 Mile Corner -


This view is toward the new highway, the bare gravel in the lower center of the photo being the large parking area that overlooks Hess Creek around Mile 21 -


And then it was back to the gravel, with just 18 miles left before turning west onto the Elliott Hwy to see what lay in store along that route. But first, we had some weather to contend with.
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"I am in the prime of senility." Ben Franklin
I'm so old I remember when the gallons rose faster than the dollars on gas pumps.
The Lure of the Dalton, The Lure of the Dempster, Haul Road Chronicles, My Evening Rides, Alaska Primer
Haul Road Primer

Alcan Rider screwed with this post 06-07-2011 at 09:48 AM Reason: To add some more senseless blather.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:46 PM   #8
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Part III: We Shall Have Weather, Whether Or Not

Gonna back up here, just a bit, and throw out a challenge.

People come from all over the U.S. - from all over the world, actually – to ride to Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse on their motorcycles. For some, it's just to say they have gone as far north as they can on a contiguous highway system in North America. For others it's the start (or finish) of a ride to (from) the farthest south point. Still others are just out to see all they can from the seat of a motorcycle. For years it has been done on virtually every type of bike, from heavy cruisers never meant for such treatment, to bikes that seem purpose built for exactly this kind of riding. Most riders feel that accomplishing the ride, whether up and back, or just one way with the bike being carried back down to Fairbanks in a plane or in the back of a truck, makes them a true adventure rider. And most of the time I would agree with that.

But... with the Dalton Hwy getting minor improvements nearly every year, and bikes getting better as well, the trip is becoming less challenging. It's time to make it a bit more difficult in order to get it back to something worth bragging about, as it was 10 or 12 years ago.

So here's what I suggest: If you're on a dualsport, riding to Prudhoe Bay, you should be willing to take the section of old highway between Mile 18 and 24 either northbound or southbound on your ride. This isn't aimed at those riding cruisers (although I know some Harley riders who could take their bikes through it just fine), nor sport-tourers, crotch rockets, or scooters. Just dual sports. For some, who actually take their bikes off road once in a while, it will be a cakewalk. But for others, who spend thousands of dollars outfitting their bikes to turn them into “adventure” bikes, and then find themselves afraid to ride those bikes on a good gravel road, it's going to be a real challenge. So... are you an Adventure rider... or a poser? Show us – with pictures.

And now, on with our travels.

As we (HayDee and I) drew closer to the south end of the Haul Road, we were noticing the buildup of some ominous looking clouds ahead of us. Coming down a rather steep grade about 20 Mile, I could see what looked like fog over the road. When that spot was reached, however, it turned out to be rain mixed with hail, coming down in buckets, bouncing off helmets and clothing like ball bearings being thrown from a tower. In a matter of seconds we were both drenched! This continued for about 3 miles... and then we were back in sunshine. The temperature under the cloud dropped from 87° to 62° in less than half a mile, there was that much downdraft along with the rain and hail. The warm sun, about which we had both been complaining earlier, certainly felt good once we had it on our faces again.

In no time at all we were back at Mile 0 of the Dalton. But this time, instead of continuing straight ahead onto the pavement toward Fairbanks, we turned right and continued on gravel, heading west on the Elliott Hwy toward Manley.

For the first few miles, this road was just another tree-lined gravel road, and we both felt we could have been in any number of northern states – Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maine, etc. No mountains could be seen from where we were, and it was just gently rolling countryside. Then, as the road gained elevation, trees became more sparse, we could see for a greater distance, and once more there were mountains on the horizon. At one spot, looking off to the north, I was reminded of places in Wyoming, HayDee's home state, with mountains visible across vast expanses of open plains -


Still further up the road, the view to the south was of the vast Minto Flats region, reminiscent of Minnesota's “Land of 10,000 Lakes” -


We'd been riding for a while since brunch at Hot Spot, so while we were pulled over, HayDee dug into her side boxes for some snacks. Looked pretty good...


...until she opened them -


Did I mention that the Elliott was dry and dusty? Well, it was. Following HayDee, it was necessary to fall back a quarter mile or so to avoid having my faceshield covered with a layer of dust. As we were approaching the more interesting steep hills about halfway to Manley, we met several vehicles coming down a twisting grade, marking their progress with clouds of dust -


About 30 miles from Manley we came on pavement once more, which was a welcome change from the extremely dusty gravel. But it only lasted for 17 miles or so. After that, it was back to gravel. But here the road wound back and forth through dense foliage, and took this rider back in memory to the early days of the Alcan, when for many miles north of Watson Lake the road twisted and turned in much the same manner.

Being that the gravel was dry, any vehicle, our motorcycles included, raised a noticeable cloud of dust. Following HayDee down a dry gravel road is very much like watching an old Roadrunner cartoon in which the title character is no more than a speck zipping along, with an ever-expanding plume of dust billowing skyward in his wake. Staying far enough behind HayDee that my KLR and I were not enveloped in such a cloud, quite often the only proof that it was her DR that was kicking up all that pollution was the sighting of a tiny dark pipsqueak at the point of a huge tan plume of dust, as she disappeared around yet another curve.


It was as we were playing fox and hare on this stretch that this thought came to me: There is a saying, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Now I'm not suggesting, nor implying, that HayDee is a fool. Far from it. But when she reaches an area where those of a more timid nature would hesitate, she merely kicks it down a gear, grabs a handful of throttle, and charges on, relishing the adventure. It's fun to travel with a person who is suitably cautious, but not afraid to try new things.

Soon... we reached civilization once again, with speed liimit signs, along with warnings not to shoot, as we were now in a residential area. Proof of that were driveways running off to both sides of the highway, with increasing frequency. Then it was across the old bridge over the Hot Springs Slough to be greeted by the sighting of the Manley Roadhouse on the other side.


The roadhouse has been well cared for, and is in pretty good condition inside and out. Having been in a few of these over the years, I knew what to expect, to a degree. But this one was exceptional. I'll let the pictures taken in the lobby speak for themselves -








HayDee entertaining us with some tunes -


In order to enjoy the hot springs, it is necessary to reserve them in advance. Having no idea of our schedule for that day when I made them, my guess was that 7 to 8 PM would work. As it turned out, it did, but barely. In the roadhouse, supper is served until 9 PM, so if we hurried back from the hot springs we could change into our finest (which meant something without mud coating our pant legs) and get to the dining room before closing time. When we got there, families were still seated around the tables, the waitress was still frantically trying to get everyone served, and we had plenty of time. Our orders came in a little while, and we both enjoyed fine dining, here at the end of the long, dusty trail.

Once again, the food porn. HayDee's choice -


And mine (the steak was nice and rare, just the way I'd ordered it) -


Alas, HayDee and I agreed that there would be no cameras allowed in the hot springs, so no photos of that unusual place. It actually consists of 4, approximately 8' x 8' concrete tubs, maybe 30” high, that have hot water flowing through them, so the water is constantly being refreshed. In addition, there is a cold water hose that can be put into any one of the tubs to hold the temperature down if the temperature is a bit too hot. All this is in a visqueen-covered greenhouse, which is filled with a multitude of plants, most of them tropical, and grape vines growing all across the top, clinging to the metal framework that supports the whole affair. From what I could see, it appears the hot spring water is fed through heat convectors (finned tubes) located all around the perimeter, during the winter to keep the plants from freezing. Sure wouldn't mind having a hot spring on my property in Slana.

As it was still quite light outside, an evening stroll with the camera seemed in order. With the trees fully leafed out, and the temperatures at full summer level, it was difficult to imagine how this town would look at 50 below in the dead of winter -


The sun was slowly descending toward the horizon as it traveled around to the north, and the smoke in the atmosphere was filtering out all but the orange rays as it shone through the branches -


For a person who enjoys historic towns and buildings, this was certainly an attractive place in an attractive setting -


And then, having had a rather full day, and the late meal serving to prompt relaxation, it was time to hit the sack to be ready for another day of travel on Monday. Thankfully, a slight breeze helped to cool the building from its earlier high temperature and it didn't take long for yer humble scribe to start sawing logs.

Next installment: The Home Fires Are Still Burning
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The Lure of the Dalton, The Lure of the Dempster, Haul Road Chronicles, My Evening Rides, Alaska Primer
Haul Road Primer

Alcan Rider screwed with this post 06-08-2011 at 01:04 PM Reason: To Add Mo' Pitchers
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Old 06-10-2011, 10:56 PM   #9
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Part IV: The Home Fires Are Still Burning

With the sun providing early daylight, I rolled out of bed to check the weather outside. Peering through the window, HayDee was spotted jogging back across the bridge from a run up to the hot springs and goodness knows where else. Checking the time, and seeing that it was only 5:30 AM, I, unlike HayDee, had enough sense to crawl back under the covers to await a sane hour to become active.

When that time came, we headed down to the roadhouse lobby to sample their offerings. Once again photos were forgotten in our haste to imbibe sustenance. All that I can recall of the breakfast is that, once again, it was very tasty – and HayDee played with her food.

Before leaving, a few photos were taken of the accommodations inside the roadhouse. (They also have private cabins, but those still did not have running water this early in the season.) This is one of the single bed rooms, with the restroom down the hall -


And a large two-bed room with private bath -






We were just about to pull out of town when the buzz of a watercraft approaching in the slough took us to the bridge to watch. A young couple was enjoying the ride – and no dust where they were. When they saw us with our cameras at the ready, a few extra zig and zags were thrown in -








When I told HayDee we were going to have to travel another 80 miles of dusty gravel, she lost it and threatened to jump off the bridge -


But then I reminded her that part of that was paved, and she could ride in front again, so she climbed back down and proceeded to create another huge cloud of dust for me to follow -


On the way back toward Fairbanks there was a short loop of the old road left when the Elliott Hwy was straightened a few years ago, and HayDee suggested we follow that.


HayDee also took our stop as an opportunity to step off the road and ...uh, inspect the native vegetation. While it is difficult to tell for sure with the full face helmet, I believe she was wearing a contented look upon her face when she emerged -


Seeing little use these days, brush along the loop was closing in from both sides so visibility was limited ahead, and to either side. Where we came back out looked little different from the spot we had turned off the pavement, but at least we now knew what was back there. Looking back toward Manley -


Looking ahead, toward Fairbanks -


At one of the higher points along the road, we stopped for a few more photos, even though the smoke from forest fires was beginning to interfere with visibility -




And then HayDee took off down the road, once again leaving this ol' geezer in the dust – literally -


To complete our exploration, we took the 11 mile side road to the village of Minto, situated on the shoreline of a large lake with tentacle-like arms reaching for miles in virtually every direction across Minto Flats. HayDee's employer has a generating plant supplying electrical power for the village, and HayDee had hoped to pay a brief visit to the plant operator while we were in the neighborhood. Alas, he was not at home, but she still got to pose in front of the building for a photo -


You know how it is with little boys and mudpuddles. Well... it's the same with HayDee whenever she gets near a body of water that isn't frozen (although that doesn't always stop her either) -


With the warm weather, a steady breeze, and blue sky (except for the smoke haze), it was really a beautiful setting, and we were both glad to have made this little side trip.


And a panorama -


We talked with a young couple walking their dogs along the boat launch area, and he told us how far it was (in hours, not miles – typical of our way of measuring distances up here) to the Tanana River, Nenana, the Chena River, and a few other places. Considering the distance one has to drive from the village to Fairbanks, it is easy to see why traveling by boat might be preferred this time of year.

And then it was time to get moving toward Fairbanks again. But not without stopping for a little more playful activity. At one of the highest spots along this section of the Elliott Hwy (around Mile 94 if my memory serves me) we had passed a snowdrift on the way in, and the temperature had dropped as low as we would see it for several days. So it became necessary to make a planned stop here, and shake out any stiffness from the previous miles.

First a shot of the bikes -


And then HayDee enjoying herself again (what can you expect from someone who plays with her food?) -


Just before she slid to the bottom on her butt -


Guess I need to get the videos of her actually sliding down the drift uploaded and embedded.

She had a good time, and I enjoyed watching and taking pictures.

Once moving again, it seemed to take almost no time at all to get back to the intersection that marks the beginning of the Dalton Hwy -


As we drew closer to Fairbanks – perhaps some 60 miles from the city, we started seeing smoke rising from hills on both side of us. The closer we got, the more burning hills, and the more smoke. About 40 miles from the city we spotted one hill with a multitude of fires, one area producing huge clouds of smoke. We were glad the wind was blowing the smoke the other way -




After that, it was back to the UAF dorms. We got checked in, then rode down to Airport Way for dinner at Lin's Asian Bistro, across from the Super 8. Very good food! As we were getting up to leave, a gentleman at a nearby table, spotting our motorcycle gear, asked if we knew about the Dalton Hwy – whether it was rough, with potholes and loose gravel. We assured him it had that, and probably considerably more. He spoke with a British accent, and I thought he might be from Down Under. He mentioned that he was on a “scrambler”, so once we were on our bikes we took a tour of the Super 8 parking lot to see if we could spot his bike. Saw these two, that looked like they had been getting dirty on the Haul Road -


And then spotted this Triumph that we felt must belong to the gentleman in the restaurant -




It appeared he was well setup for the Haul Road.

The next morning, before HayDee and I separated to go our divergent paths to our respective homes, we got together for breakfast at Denny's. True to form, HayDee had fun with her meal -




And then it was southbound down the Richardson Hwy for this rider. Fueling up in Delta Junction, I spotted this beautiful '56 Dodge parked at the gas station -


South of there, near Fort Greeley, smoke from the numerous forest fires was obscuring the view of the Alaska Range across the Tanana River, but it was still scenic -


Farther south, nearing the summit of Isabel Pass, thick ice remained on the Delta River..




...and Summit Lake was still 99% ice-covered, and with a strong wind blowing across its surface, brought the temperature along the lake shore down to 52°. After spending a few days with temperatures in the 80's, that felt cold.

And so ended another little ride, with more to come, hopefully.
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:05 AM   #10
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Great stories, you two are, uh, interesting travel partners.
Remember the Clint Eastwood film, what was the name again?
oh yeah, but here's a different take on it:
The Good dirt, The Bad pavement and the Ugly (something.

Thanks for the pictures, I've seen Manley in the winter but not summer.
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HayDuchessLives View Post
Here's a couple of reflection shots taken from the bridge.





Here's some sunshine highlighting the cool bridge.
Those are beautiful photos. You need to post them a little larger to show them off better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HayDuchessLives View Post
Some antique objects at the Manley Roadhouse. Some of these relics are still probably younger than the Geezer.
THAT is gonna cost you, young lady!













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Old 12-12-2011, 01:48 PM   #12
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Thanks for the great ride report and pictures.
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Old 12-12-2011, 03:40 PM   #13
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Great report and pictures. Looks like ya'll had a great trip!
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Old 12-12-2011, 04:10 PM   #14
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Jack. Great to read this report. Just out riding is an adventure!!
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:11 AM   #15
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Truly a wonderful RR. Many thanks.
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