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Old 09-10-2012, 08:42 PM   #226
straight to hell
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Originally Posted by ScootTour View Post
obscene number of floating advertisment thingy with people all over the place, that is what I have to say about large sponsered events.
agreed!! not to mention the jacked up prices for poor service and product.
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Old 09-11-2012, 10:12 AM   #227
Knee deep in snow.
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I'd like to say thanks for letting us follow your journey. It really gives me the bug to try something like this someday.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:23 PM   #228
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Originally Posted by Bluebone View Post
perhaps its time to invest in a couple of these:

just having a place to sit comfortably can be quite a luxury for folks with your lifestyle.
You mean one of these:


If you're referring to why I'm sitting inside the tent blogging, it's because that picture was taken late at night while it was raining outside. Most sites have a nice picnic table you can use for eating/blogging.
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Old 09-11-2012, 12:24 PM   #229
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When we met Veronica in Merritt, BC last week, she pointed us to a spot on her map called the Highline Trail and told us that it was a great dual-sport road with amazing views. So we took her advice and rode up there. The Highline Trail starts at a town called D'Arcy, at the end of Portage Road which runs off the Sea-To-Sky at Mount Currie.

Anderson Lake, D'Arcy, BC

While we were adjusting our tire pressures for the gravel road in D'Arcy, a few residents drove up to us in their trucks and ATVs and recommended that we just ride around the corner to the lake and hang out at the docks. We were glad to take their advice because the lake was beautiful, clear and blue and the waters were just as refreshing as they looked. We ended up putting our swimsuits on and stayed for a couple of hours, sunbathing and swimming. If this was one of our normal "Cant Stop! We're on a Schedule!" trips, we would have totally missed out on the lake and a great rest stop.

Bonsai! (tree?)

This was the neighbourhood dog, Scout, who trained me very well to play fetch with him

The Highline Trail climbs rapidly from D'Arcy, and you soon can see Anderson Lake from a high vantage point. Open only in the summertime, it is only recommended for 4WD vehicles. Or 1wd...

Beautiful, but distracting view of Anderson Lake from Highline Trail

Parking in the Lillooet Fire Zone. Wonder if we'll get tickets here as well... :(

If you look closely, you can see Neda riding the trail on the left side of the picture

The trail was a great dual-sport road as promised by Veronica. And the views were amazing! Hard-packed gravel and lots of elevation changes had us moving our body weight back and forth on the bike.

Rounding the bend on the Highline Trail

Rounding the bend part II - don't look down, steep drop on the right!

30 kms later, we stopped for a late afternoon lunch at the Highline Pub in Seton. It seemed like the only business in town and we stayed for a couple of hours because they had wi-fi. When I asked the owner what the roads were like back to Lillooet, she replied that it was another 70 kms of the same gravel but worse (worse? cool!), so we decided to head out before the sun robbed us of visibility.

Sun is setting on the Highline Trail

The road to Lillooet had steep switchback climbs where had amazing views of the man-made Carpenter Lake. We saw some great wildlife, I should say Neda saw some great wildlife, since she was in the lead. I just got to hear about it on the intercom, "Oh my god, a bear!"... "Where? Where?"... "Oh, it ran off, I scared it away"...

Neda returns to the BatCave after a long day fighting grime.

The trail follows Bridge River for quite awhile before ending up in Lillooet

We reached Lillooet as the sun disappeared behind the hills and we set up our tent in the dark. What a great day of dual-sport riding!
Gene R1200GS
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Old 09-12-2012, 02:07 PM   #230
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From Lillooet, we rode to Cache Creek in the searing heat of the BC drylands. Temperatures soared to 37C and we took shelter in any available shade we could find. Although not technically a desert in terms of rainfall, the BC interior is semi-arid with its terrain of sagebrush, grasslands and rolling hills. It reminded me a lot of the climate and terrain of the south-west US.

Obligatory riding shot through the BC drylands

View of Highway 99 and Fraser River on the way to Cache Creek

Deserted antique farming equipment arranged as artwork on the plains of drylands

More views of 99 winding its way next to the Fraser

Laundry day. Neda forbid me to show any of my underwear on religious grounds. They're a bit holey...

At Cache Creek we camped next to a guy who was coming down from Alaska. His name was Gene too! What a co-incidence! And he provided us with maps and advice on traveling north. This must be a sign that we are headed in the right direction. Prior to coming out west, we had no idea where we were going, Taylor from Island BMW told us there were two ways north, the Cassiar Highway and the Alcan (or Alaska Highway). I was just going to follow the GPS, Highway 37, which was the Cassiar, and Taylor told us it was the more direct, but the more scenic route, despite the pavement being not as smooth, when there was pavement (!)...

Who is this handsome chap peering out from the back of the RV in front of me...?

The weather was getting oppressively hot and we stopped at a lake on the way to Prince George to go swimming. We met a few motorcyclists who also had the same idea, many were dipping their T-shirts into the waters to get the evaporative-cooling effect while riding in the heat. At Prince George, we took TransCanada 16 west to try to make it to the beginning of the Cassiar Highway before nightfall.

Came across an interesting site on the way to the Cassiar

Some of the Wet'suwet'em First Nations tribe set up a fishery in Moricetown Canyon, just north of Smithers, BC. It's the tail-end (pun intended) of salmon spawning season, and the fish were jumping upstream into the waiting nets of the fisherman to be tagged and then released, presumably to help planning the numbers for the season's crop of fish.

Waiting for the fish to jump into the nets. If only fishing were this easy...

HEY! It is *this* easy!

Trying to figure out which fish they tagged and which they just released without tagging, the fish that were the most interesting to them were the ones that jumped straight into the net.

Made it to the bottom of the Cassiar Highway!

We made a friend at the Cassiar campgrounds

At the campgrounds in Kitwanga, at the beginning of the Cassiar Highway, the owner asked us where we were going and we replied, "North!". He scared us a bit when he said we were heading up kind of late in the season and were going to run into cold weather. Hmmm... Oh well. The next morning, his dog Dahlia greeted us at the tent door. Her cuteness factor was high and she delayed us for over an hour the next morning as she taught me how to play fetch with her cloth frisbee.

I taught Dahlia a few tricks as well...

We're steeling ourselves for colder weather ahead!
Gene R1200GS
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Old 09-13-2012, 02:50 PM   #231
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I had no idea there were so many cool places to ride up there. Awesome RR.
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Old 09-13-2012, 08:19 PM   #232
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When we met Veronica in Merritt, BC last week, she pointed us to a spot on her map called the Highline Trail and told us that it was a great dual-sport road with amazing views. So we took her advice and rode up there. The Highline Trail starts at a town called D'Arcy, at the end of Portage Road which runs off the Sea-To-Sky at Mount Currie.

Glad you guys made it to the Highline. One of my favorite rides. Hope to see you in Van when you get here. I will have a few more to add if you have time.
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Old 09-14-2012, 01:52 PM   #233
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The Stewart Highway (aka Highway 37A) runs east/west off the Cassiar Highway. The scenery along the way is a mix of dense alpine forest and mountainous terrain. It's only a 65 km detour to visit the town of Stewart, BC, at the end of the 37A, and we are rewarded with amazing views of glaciers, terminating just a few hundred meters from the highway.

Bear Glacier, on the way to Stewart, BC

A snow cave on the side of the mountain

Bridge crossing on Stewart Highway

Gorgeous motorcycle scenery on the way to Stewart

Weather is cold and wet, rainsuits on for most of the day

Stewart, BC is a working town, home for plenty of miners and the BC Hydro workers who are working on the nearby dam. The US border is just 2 kms away and when we told the owner of the Cassiar Campsite last night that we were going to visit Hyder, Alaska, just across the border, he questioned our sanity, "Why on earth would you want to do that? It's a dump! Nothing there but a bunch of draft-dodgers!"

Well, he was right. The town was a dump. I don't know why anyone would want to visit Hyder, yet it's one of the most popular motorcycle destinations amongst the Iron Butt Association and long-distance riding clubs. But looking at a map, it's obvious why. Hyder is the southern-most city in Alaska accessible by road. There's way more bragging rights in saying, "I rode all the way to Alaska!" than, "I rode all the way to the middle of British Columbia!"

But now you know: Hyder, Alaska = Fake Alaska...

What the..? We're in Alaska? When did that happen?!

The town is such a dump that even the US government has forgotten about its existence. Our ride over the "US/Canada border" was heralded by nothing but a sign proclaiming, "Entering Alaska". No passport control, no customs, no immigration. Just a sign. Oh, but there was a Canadian border patrol on the way back to Stewart, BC. No doubt to stop those draft dodgers from sneaking into Canada. We talked to a guy whose sister forgot her Canadian passport when entering Hyder. Canadian customs wouldn't let her back into the country and she had to have her passport couriered to Hyder to get back in!

One of the more prominent buildings in Hyder is the US Postal Office, and there is a large sign on the side of the building, "Apply for your US Passport here". Presumably if the draft dodgers ever wanted to rejoin mainstream America, they could do so with an explanation at the US Postal Office.

Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum at the Hyder General Store

We heard a funny anecdote about the stateless nature of Hyder. Supposedly, once a month, a state trooper from Ketchikan, AK flies into Hyder, and during the week that he's there, nobody drives their car - all their licenses and registrations have long since expired! Dodging the draft, dodging the DMV, same thing, I guess!

With nothing much to see in Hyder, we tried to find the bear viewing area at Fish Creek. The Hyder General Store is run by a huge mountain man, 8 feet tall, 360lbs, with a grizzled, grey Alaskan beard straight out of Grizzly Adams. We were scared to ask for directions, for fear that he would pop us in his mouth and swallow us whole, but he turned out to be really nice and pointed us a few miles down the (very gravelly) road.

Getting educated on the difference between black bears and grizzly bears. Did you know you're not supposed to run from bears? Given my natural flight-or-flight instinct, I'm really screwed...

You can see down the length of Fish Creek from the bear viewing area. Lots of naturists set up telephoto cameras and video equipment at the far end

The US Forestry Service built this special viewing area to keep tourists safe from the bears that wander the shallow stream at feeding time. From this sheltered vantage point, we were supposed to see them swatting at salmon as they swam tiredly upstream to spawn and die. All we saw was a bunch of dead salmon, seagulls picking at their corpses; no bears, though. I think we came too early in the afternoon. We must have stayed for over 3 hours just sitting, staring at dead salmon and gluttonous seagulls.

Pretty much all we saw the whole day

Of course, the minute Neda leaves to go to the washroom, a baby black bear saunters into the parking lot, sniffs around and leaves!

Not wanting to ride back in the dark, we left for Canada empty-handed just as the sun was setting, and at our campsite in Stewart, our next-door neighbour who was also at the viewing area told us that a couple of bears came out to dine after sunset. Grrrr!!!!

Log teepees on the Cassiar

A warning sign of some sorts...?

Gravel section of the Cassiar

You can see in the picture above newer trees growing in the sections where previous forest fires have cleared the area. This is part of the natural cycle for forests, and small signs are erected on the side of the highway displaying the year of the forest fire in that section.

We traveled north on the rest of the Cassiar Highway in cold, foggy and overcast conditions - very different from the desert-like interior of BC that we left just a couple of days ago. Most of the length of the 874 km highway was paved, with the exception of a couple of long stretches of gravel. We shared the road with logging trucks and the odd RV and it really felt like we were riding in the deep forest of the province as the Yukon Territory loomed ahead of us.
Gene R1200GS
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:13 PM   #234
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Really enjoying your RR and photos

Thanks for taking me along. Looks like you two are having an amazing time!
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Old 09-14-2012, 06:48 PM   #235
Well there it is..
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Loving this report!
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Old 09-15-2012, 09:25 PM   #236
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We're now at the north end of the Cassiar Highway, as it terminates at the Alaska Highway. The full name is the Alaska-Canada highway, or Alcan Highway for short, but most people refer to it as the Alaska Highway. The road was originally built by the US Army to provide a way to get troops and munitions to defend Alaska against the Japanese immediately after Pearl Harbor.

More importantly, we're in the Yukon Territory! I've never been here before, and I had to look up what differentiates a Canadian Territory from a Province. From Wikipedia:

"The major difference between a Canadian province and a territory is that provinces are jurisdictions that receive their power and authority directly from the Constitution Act, 1867, whereas territories derive their mandates and powers from the federal government."
Watson Lake is a small town just east of the Cassiar/Alcan intersection and that's where we decided to camp for the evening. Upon entering the town, we saw an unusual sight: thousands of signs on posts erected on the side of the road. Not just a row of posts, but a whole forest full of them! We got off to investigate.

Signpost Forest in Watson Lake, YT

At Watson Lake's visitor centre, we found out that this all started with an American GI stationed at the Alaska Highway during WWII who got homesick, so he nailed up a sign from his hometown. Others started doing the same, and now tourists from all over the world bring signs from their home to nail them up at the Signpost Forest. There are over 75,000 signs today. Seems there are more thieves in this forest than Sherwood...

Saw a few Ontario signs here. Good to know kleptomaniacs from our province are well-represented...

While at the visitor centre, we overheard one of the staff talk to a guest in fluent German! It turns out that Whitehorse, which is the capital of Yukon and only 4 hours drive away from Watson Lake, is quite the hub for trans-continental flights. This is due to a shorter distance for northern hemisphere countries to fly over the Arctic, than it is to fly latitudinally over the fat part of the globe. In fact, there is a direct flight from Frankfurt to Whitehorse. This would explain all the German tourists in rented RVs that we ran into wandering around the Yukon Territory.

Neda gives up counting the signs at the Signpost Forest

We camped for the evening at Watson Lake, and again, talking to the owner of this RV Park, he told us we were traveling very late in the season and made up some fancy, scary stories about snow and frost if we were to journey northwards. So the next morning, we journeyed northwards. :)

On the way to Whitehorse, we stopped in Teslin, a small town right on the Alcan, for a break. There we met Young, a Californian who rode his Trumph Speed Triple up here. He had just gotten his rear tire replaced, and he was in Teslin trying to find the local who helped him when he was stranded on the side of the road earlier. Young just left us a note on our guestbook! Cool!

From Whitehorse, we rode the Klondike Highway north to Dawson city, the same route that over 100,000 prospectors took to travel to the Yukon after gold was discovered in 1896. The journey for them was long and arduous and they had to carry everything they needed on their backs. For us, the 500km ride was scenic and our trusty motorcycles carried everything for us!

Pretty sure none of these buildings actually existed at the time of the Gold Rush, they were built for the Tourist Rush.

Dawson City is one wild-looking town straight out of all the Wild West movies. There are still some original buildings from the turn of the century, but most of the stores and businesses are built and decorated to reflect the town's rich history. By the time most of the prospectors arrived in the Yukon, most of the gold claims had already been staked so the majority came all the way for nothing. Still, some worked in the mines for companies and started businesses catering to the continuing influx of new prospectors, and this was where Dawson City was born.

But do they sell an oil filter for a 450 EXC? Didn't think so...

We treated ourselves to a couple of nights in a local bed and breakfast, it was pricey, but it was soooo luxurious sleeping in a real bed again! During the day, we strolled the wooden boardwalks around town. It was the end of the tourist season so some of the stores were closing soon and the town was not as busy as it was just a few weeks ago. During its heydey in 1898, Dawson City housed so many prospectors and businesses that it was the largest city in Western North America north of Seattle.

Row of pretty coloured buildings

These guys look like they just came from Crankworx 2012!

Neda is busy making new friends to replace all the human friends we left behind

I've been meaning to grow a dodgy-looking 'stache my whole life.

Fiddlin' away the time in Dawson City

After the glitter of the Gold Rush faded and news spread that most of the claims in the Klondike had already been staked, prospectors left Dawson City in droves, some looking for gold in Alaska, others returning home with their pockets empty. Still, the infrastructure for a large city had been built and over time, Dawson City escaped the fate of several Gold Rush ghost towns. Just a couple of decades later, it re-emerged as a new mecca for entertainment, drawing in the wealthy and affluent on large steamships to spend their time and money here.

Original buildings kept untouched as a historical display

The original buildings were built right on the permafrost land during the summer of the gold rush. However, once the winters came, the warmth of the floor melted the waters of the ground underneath and caused the first structures to cave in on themselves. Later buildings were built on raised supports.

The fake front facades that look like they came straight from a Hollywood set were propped up to mask the cheaply-built buildings behind, as they were hastily erected to service the rush of gold prospectors. The facades were ornately painted to give a sense of permanence to prospective customers. All the modern tourist stores are built in the same tradition on raised supports and fake facades, as you can see in the pictures above.

I can just imagine two gunslingers facing each other at opposite ends of this street at high noon. DRAW!

We learned so much about the Klondike and the history of Dawson in the couple of days that we spent there. I'm really enjoying this meandering by motorcycle, it's a lot more enriching than just spending the entire time on the road and seeing towns from behind a visor, while missing out on all the culture and history.

But tomorrow, we ride!
Gene R1200GS
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Old 09-15-2012, 11:50 PM   #237
Out there...
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Great pics and wonderful travel log. Have fun and keep it coming.
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Old 09-16-2012, 06:46 PM   #238
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Thanks for posting all of the updates and pictures.It sure Looks like a great time.
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:41 PM   #239
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It's a grey, overcast morning as we leave Dawson City to head west. Just outside of the city, a tiny ferry called the George Black waits to take us over the Yukon River. It only fits about 4 RVs at a time, but it runs quickly - taking just 5 minutes to cross the river. And the price is right - it's free! During the winter, the ferry stops running and residents just drive or snowmobile across the ice to get to the other side.

Boarding the ferry from Dawson City to the Top of the World Highway

Across the Yukon River, the patchy pavement quickly turns to gravel and starts to climb up above the timberline. We're on the Top of The World Highway, one of the most northern highways in North America. It probably got its name because most of the road rests on the spine of the mountains that overlooks the Yukon to the north and colourful valleys on both sides of the ridge.

The view is duplicated on the other side of the road!

It's hard to choose which side of the road to look, all the different coloured trees in the valley look like they've been painted by Seurat. The gravel is fairly hard packed, but is only open in the summer. There is very little traffic on this fine Sunday morning, but half-way through the ride, a red R1200GS Adventure blasts by us like we were standing still. I manage to glance at his plates as he passed us and was surprised to see another Ontarioan! What are the chances?

Trying to see the pointillism of it all

Top o' the World to ya!

Looking down into wonderfully coloured valleys

About 100 kms in, we reach the Canada/US border where I experienced the absolute most friendliest border crossing! The border guards were all, "Sure take a picture", and "Yeah, you can rest right over there"... It didn't seem like they saw a lot of traffic, but when they did, they told us there were a lot of BMW motorcycles in the mix. As if to prove his point, the red 1200ADV from Ontario was parked right up behind the building. We chatted with Brian, from Huntsville, ON, he was on an 18-day round-trip from Ontario to Alaska and back! Wow, that's a lot of riding!

Brian is waiting for his two other riding buddies that he left behind in the gravel dust, he told us to watch out for them

This border crossing is interesting, it's one of the few customs buildings jointly run by both the US and Canadian governments. The RV on the left is coming into the US and the minivan on the right is crossing into Canada.

More BMW motorcycles at the border

Neda went over to chat with the new GS riders, two 1200s and an older F650GS. Turns out they were from Florida, flew into Anchorage, rented BMW motorcycles and were on their way to Dawson City.

Neda chatting with the Floridians

It's official! This trip is now INTERNATIONAL!!!

From the US border, or Boundary, Alaska, as it's named, the road turns into the Taylor Highway. Same gravel, same twisty, mountainous cuves, same amazing scenery, and once again, another BMW motorcycle from Ontario blows by us! This time, an R1200RT! Oh, the humiliation! I intercom Neda, "Seriously!?!" :) This was presumably one of Brian's riding buddies, he was a big man and he made the gigantic RT look like a small bicycle underneath him!

50 kms later, we see the sign for Chicken, Alaska. I'm not really sure you could call it a town, just a collection of buildings in a big gravel lot. We pulled in and saw Brian and his riding crew as well as a couple of Harleys. Motorcyclists seem to make up the majority of the tourists at this stop. We had lunch (fish and chips, not chicken) with Brian, Heinz and another 1200ADV rider, all from Huntsville, ON, as well as Baltimore Jim and his partner Phylis from Aspen, CO, who have both put on a gajillion miles on their Harleys. Had a great time exchanging travel stories!

Heinz pulls out of Chicken on his miniaturized RT

Did you know the residents of Chicken originally wanted to name their town, Ptarmigan, but they didn't know how to spell Ptarmigan! Chicken Ptarmesan?

After another 100 kms, the Taylor Highway reaches the Alaska Highway at Tetlin Junction. We don't get passed by any more BMW motorcycles from Ontario, although at this rate, I fully expected a C1 to come zipping in between us. We keep on riding north until we hit the North Pole. North Pole, Alaska, that is!

Not sure why Giganta-Santa is wearing pasties...

North Pole, Alaska is nowhere near the magnetic north pole, but they play up the whole Christmas theme with roads like Kris Kringle Drive, and all the poles that their road signs are mounted on are striped white and red like candy canes. Jeez... We do fall into tourist mode though and stop into the Santa Claus house to see their real-live reindeers and pose with several dozen SoDS (Santas of Differing Sizes).

And not one of them with a red nose

Given how cold it's getting, this seemed entirely normal

As we ride north of the North Pole (is that even geographically possible?), we enter Fairbanks as the gloomy weather has now turned to rain. Wonder where we can go from here...?
Gene R1200GS
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Old 09-18-2012, 06:16 AM   #240
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Having ridden Top of the World Highway in July, I marveled at the colors you and Neda enjoyed along the ride - simply gorgeous!

If you need ANYTHING for the GSs while in Fairbanks, make sure you connect with Dan Armstrong of Adventure Cycleworks - 907.457.4259 or He's a top-notch guy who will go the extra mile for travelers. If nothing else, drop by for a coffee . . . promise you'll learn something! Tell him Sean "Spade Bit" from Denver sent you.

If you're tired of shopping for groceries, drop by Turtle Club for dinner. I'm not at all a prime rib fan, but it was the best I'd ever had, hands down.
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