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Old 01-15-2013, 08:54 PM   #16
motobiko OP
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Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Colstrip, Montana
Oddometer: 74
Day 10 7/16/12 5435 miles on the odometer. Time for bus tour #2.


The rain continued off and on throughout the night and into the morning. Although i had a tarp over my tent, the sides still got wet and each end of my sleeping bag was wet. I hung my jacket under a thick spruce tree to keep it out of the rain. It stayed fairly dry. I got up early at 7am to get going. Still a bit disgruntled about the park's lack of selfregistration for camp sites. Good thing they didnt do a check before i left. No $12 camp fee from me!

I pushed the bike about 250 yards up a slight grade out of the campground to the road. People get grumpy hearing my nearly straightpiped 650 going early in the day. The park only allows tourists to drive in about 15 miles into the park. The rest of the 90 mile dirt road is open for bus tours however, and people were waiting at the road for a bus to pick them up. I rode in to the visitor center and signed up for the 8hr tour through most of the park. It didnt leave until 9am, so i had time for breakfast and a walk. I had to purchase food for lunch since there wasnt anywhere to really eat along the way. The door at the visitor center was open and some type of small bird(finch?) was hopping around various rooms eating crumbs off the floor.

We left the visitor center in an old schoolbus with about 20 people onboard. Not too many, i had my own seat to myself. The tour guide was a man by the name of Wayne Iverson. He was a former train-hopping hobo who wrote a book Hobo Sapien, which was described a book where 'Garrison Keillor meets Jack Kerouac meets Mahatma Gandhi'. I read through a little of it while we were driving. I liked what i read and was going to get a copy of it, but havent got around to it yet.

Along the way we saw 4 grizzly bears, about 30 Dall sheep, a lynx, some caribou, and various other small critters. One herd of Dall sheep was about 27 strong! Not something you see everyday, thats for sure. The guide told us that once during a tour he saw a pair of golden eagles attacking a wolverine. The wolverine must have gotten too close to the eagle nest, and they were dive bombing him as he lay on his back swatting at them. Now there is a once in a lifetime event. The other buses would see various critters and the drivers would give each other hand signals as they drove by to relay what was ahead. Needless to say, we stopped quite often during the 9 hour tour. I over heard another man on the bus mentioned North Dakota, wherei grew up, so i asked him if that was where he was from. He told me that indeed he was from Devils Lake, ND, a mere 3 hours from my beloved childhood home. He was about 22 and worked in si resorts in the winter and was working at a hotel by the park this summer. We talked about the old country, snowboarding, and various aspects of Alaska.


Much to my dismay, the sky was rather cloudy, blocking any view of Mount McKinley above 7000 feet elevation. The mountain is only visible about 30% of the time i later learned. After the tour was over i took the tarp off my motorcycle, for it sprinkled off and on all day. I was itching to hit the road by now, so off i went after getting a pic in front of the park sign. I rode for about 2 hours south before stopping for gas at Trapper Creek. They were shutting down the grill at 9pm, so i just barely missed dinner. I had to buy some snacks at another gas station. But for some reason i went back to the first one to see if they had better snacks, and while i was there i inquired about the cabins outside. The gal at the counter told me they were $50 and they had 1 left. I didnt even have to think about that one. After sleeping in a soggy tent and having wet clothes, a bed inside sounded real good. Plus only $50 instead of paying $170 for my last hotel room was practically a steal.


mr bird in the visitor center


Denali




















Who is hiding?









27 Dall sheep









Mr Lynx


Dont sit here.




A pulloff south of Denali. That may or may not be McKinley in the background.


139 miles today.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:52 AM   #17
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Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Colstrip, Montana
Oddometer: 74
Day 11 7/17/12 5574 miles on the odometer.

Today I woke up with the sun shining in my window. A beautiful day outside indeed! I ate breakfast first thing in the café, then I headed south towards Anchorage. The two-lane highway turn into a 4 lane divided highway, also known as a interstate, but even so, it wasn't really very crowded. Much like the North Dakota interstates, long miles with not very many people. I pulled into Anchorage and took a picture by the sign before driving down to the library to upload some pics for Facebook . The Anchorage library is really quite nice, multiple levels, lots of books and computers. I decided to use the guest computers like three times because there was only several computers available for non-members. After that I went to Walmart pick up some oil and a couple other things. I needed an oil filter so i had to track down the location of the Kawasaki dealer. I bought some oil and a filter and talked to the guys there for a while. I inquired about some new tires such as Avons or Shinkos, I was considering trying a 705 out. My Avon was getting a little low and I knew they would be more expensive in Canada. They didn't have any unfortunately. They looked pretty busy. A lot of bikes there are being worked on from lower 48. In the for sale row, they had an electric bike there which looks pretty cool. Spendy though, so I wasn't going to buy it.

It was rather warm today, probably about 75°. I was getting a little sweaty standing around in my jacket. My cousin called me from Colorado to see what was up. He had been up to Alaska a few years before with his buddy, they flew up and rented a car and drove from Homer up to McKinley. I got too warm talking to him, so after a few minutes i just had to get riding again. Left the town of Anchorage which has half of Alaska's population in it. I headed south to Homer after this. The highway going south right out of Anchorage is pretty neat to ride, it follows right along the bay and there's a railroad track between the highway and the bay. My bike hit reserve going out of town about 10 miles. As much as i didnt want to, i had to stop and paid extra 40-50 cents a gallong for fuel. I think the cheapest i saw in Alaska was $3.89 per gallon in Anchorage, and the place I stopped at was more like $4.30. Thankfully I only had to put in approximately 5 gallons.

The rest of the drive Homer was rather uneventful and I went nonstop until arriving in Homer, where I stopped for fuel, got a snack, and grabbed a phonebook look up some fishing charters. I wanted to do some halibut fishing since i was right there. My pastor used to live in Homer for 3 years, so before I left Colstrip I inquired about some good fishing charters. He give me the name of his friend there to ask, so I gave him a call, but he was gone and his wife wasn't particularly familiar with them. I ended up booking with Bob's trophy charters out of the milepost book. They had an opening the next morning I signed up for. That was after I called a few other ones first, but only to find they are all full for a week or more. I rode out on the spit, Bob's bookie told me I could camp right behind their office, so camp there for free three nights i did! After setting my tent up I decided to go for a stroll along the highway through the shops. Probably about 11 o'clock at night I walk into a restaurant to eat, but they were closed it just forgot to lock the door. The staff was just sitting around talking, they snickered when i walked in. Down the street nothing was open except for the Salty Dog Saloon.

I walked in there for a beer and see if they have any food. No grill there, just the bar. I had to settle for one of Homer's locally brewed ales, which was not too bad. I met a local fisherman was probably in his 30s he worked on a commercial halibut charter and had quotas to meet. Such a job was dangerous and long hours when they were out, but making $180,000 in 6 months wouldnt be too bad. He traveled south in winter months to warmer areas, then came back to Alaska fishingin the summer. I also met a gal I'll be there mid 30s from Wisconsin she came up to visit her sister up there. I told her about my trip and she wanted to follow me on facebook, but never seen added me. Her name was fairly common, and i couldnt find it. Oh well.

I stayed out till after two, then started walking back to my tent. Along the way there were a few people cutting up their fish that they had caught earlier in the day. The Homer spit had multiple public fish cutting tables, which were set up at various spots along the spit. I also saw an eagle sitting over on therestroom watching the people cut up fish, waiting for scraps. I got about within 30 feet of the big bird. That's the closest I've ever been to a eagle in the wild. Just as friendly as robins back home.

The Seward highway going out of Anchorage to the southeast. Just beautiful.








World Famous Salty Dog Saloon, Homer, AK.


Mr. Eagle in Homer around midnight.


The midnight Homer beach.


357 miles today.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:27 PM   #18
bobw
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Fun ride so far!
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:31 PM   #19
Reverend12
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Great ride report and the pictures are awesome!
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:21 PM   #20
motobiko OP
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Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Colstrip, Montana
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Originally Posted by bobw View Post
Fun ride so far!
I'm just getting started!

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Great ride report and the pictures are awesome!
Thanks! I only took 4000 pics on this trip, nothing too serious.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:22 PM   #21
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Hey Luke,

Glad to see you made time to put up a ride report. Glad you mentioned my name as the guy in Fairbanks. Looks like you had a great trip and I am glad you called me when you get back to town, I always worry about people heading north on the dalton. Anyways if you make it south to Texas you have a couch to sleep on and a dr pepper with your name on it. FYI I will be in alaska for D2D and you are more than welcome to join us for that shindig.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:01 PM   #22
motobiko OP
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Location: Colstrip, Montana
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Originally Posted by crash!!! View Post
Hey Luke,

Glad to see you made time to put up a ride report. Glad you mentioned my name as the guy in Fairbanks. Looks like you had a great trip and I am glad you called me when you get back to town, I always worry about people heading north on the dalton. Anyways if you make it south to Texas you have a couch to sleep on and a dr pepper with your name on it. FYI I will be in alaska for D2D and you are more than welcome to join us for that shindig.
Hey Ryan, glad you found me! I figured there was a chance you might see this. If not, I was going to send you a text with a link to it when I was done writing it. I can't remember, did you go over the Top of the World highway later in the summer after I saw you? Or was it before? Good thing you mentioned it, I decided to ride it as well. Had to ride through some rain, but it was well worth it. Definitely a road to ride in Alaska. I'm about to get there in my thread in 5 or 6 more posts.

I doubt I will be in Texas anytime soon, haven't been there since day 29 of this trip. Thanks for the offer though. Maybe next year if my brother gets into Texas Tech for his geology masters, ill consider a ride down there. Lets know if you ever come through montana. You are more than welcome to stop by.

What/when is D2D? There is a chance ill be up there in August.
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:09 PM   #23
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Good report. You have posted pics of your journey that I have not seen in other reports. Thanks for the great read and love to see plenty of pics. Looking forward to more.
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:05 PM   #24
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Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Colstrip, Montana
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Days 12-14 7/18-20/12 5931 miles on the odometer.


During these 3 days i camped in the grass outside of Trophy Bob's Charters office. For $130-250 day for half or full day charters, it was the least they could do. I spent my free time during this first real 'break' on the trip to catch up at the library on facebook, my family and friends back home wanted to hear how i was doing. I rode around town a fair amount as well to explore. Homer must be about 5000 people. Mostly a fishing town. Many charters there offer salmon and halibut fishing.

The first day of halibut fishing we had calm waters. Fished in about 190 feet of water with 2lb weights. I could only keep two per day, but i kept fishing until it was time to leave. Probably caught 15 the first day. My arm was sore afterwards from all the reeling. I met a guy in his 50s from the lower 48. His wife was from Indonesia, where i spent 4 weeks a couple winters ago. I still remembered a few words of the language, which i tried to say in their accent much to her amusement. The skipper, John, had been doing this for many years. He lived in Hawaii in the winter and did this in the summer. There were two deckhands on board, James and Teeto. They were all real helpful, they did all the baiting and grabbed any fish i pulled up. During the trip back to the dock, they would gut each fish and throw the carcasses over the side. A flock of seagulls was never too far behind. They knew there would be food.

The second day was far more turbulent. Wind, rain, the tide going out, and 4 foot waves fought us the whole way. At least half the people threw up. Three children were on board today. I felt bad for them, some of them didnt even try to fish, they were so sick. The cabin was too small for everyone to sit down. It was a full day with 3 crew members and 17 fishing. I stood out on the deck most of the way out to our fishing spot. Another gentleman from Vancouver also stood out on deck with me in the rain and wind. He was originally from Germany, he still had a noticable accent. I think he hadnt done much fishing before, but was on vacation and decided to give it a go. Cracked me up, watching him just stand out in the rain with a big smile on his face. Too bad he got sick later on and missed most of the fishing action. I caught my limit today as well. Nothing too big, just 15 pounders.


Friday, the 20th, i went for a Seaside Adventure guided sea kayak tour. The guide, Rick Harness had been in the area 30 years or so, he even knew John, the skipper from Bob's Charters. I went with 4 other people from Homer on a water taxi across the bay to the south. We arrived at low tide outside the Harness' home. They had an eagle nest above their house in a tall spruce tree. One of the birds went on a shrieking spree. I've seen many eagles throughout the states, but this was the first time i had heard one shriek for sure. Considerably more high pitched than i expected.

Rick and his wife took a double kayak, as did the other two couples along. I got a single kayak. We went around the bay for about 8 hour that day and saw various eagles, sea otters, starfish, and other odd sea creatures. Going along the rocks and small islands during low tide revealed many types of starfish clinging to the sides as if hanging on for dear life. Our knowledgable guides gathered various types of seaweeds and herbs growing on the beaches and combined it with some salmon to make us soup for lunch. A little weird, but it tasted good. One of the coupes was from Anchorage, they were getting married in a few months. The guy has gone to UND in my home state, so we talked Fighting Souix for a bit. The other couple was from Las Vegas, the two women had know each other from somewhere.


I packed up and left Homer early evening after i ate supper. Didnt ride too long tonight. I camped at Deep Creek state park along the beach off the Sterling highway. The camp host had MT plates, but he lived in Florida. 10 days in Alaska and i have yet to meet another montanan. At this point i've seen 6 or 6 other Mt vehicles, but alas no fellow montanans. Good thing i have more roads to ride before leaving.

A camper bus parked on the spit in Homer. And yes, those are real shingles on it.


The bay to the east of Homer.


My Halibut.





The bay to the south of Homer where i went sea kayaking.


Big leaf!


sea creature.


Sea otter.



sea plants.


I found some kelp to play with.




The kayak guide had a real gold nugget necklace.


What i wish i could have gone to Alaska on....
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:27 PM   #25
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Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Colstrip, Montana
Oddometer: 74
Day 15 7/21/12 6025 miles on the odometer.

The day started with light rain that turned to heavy rain later in the morning. I headed north towards Whittier in a heavy downpour. I had to stop halfway there to get some breakfast at a little cafe along the way. Most people there were in light jackets, except for me. I had my rain pants and big ol' riding jacket on, dripping all over the place. The waitress asked if i was on a motorcycle, and exclaimed surprise with a look of concern on her face when i affirmed her question. Needed some coffee too to warm up. By the time i had gotten to the turnoff to Glacier Portage Highway to go to Whittier the rain had stopped for the most part. The drive to Whittier is really quite neat. Its July out and there is plenty of snow off the sides of the road, even though the highway is not very high elevation-wise.

The last part of the highway decending into Whittier is a 13,300 foot long single lane tunnel. Originally the tunnel was used primarily for trains, but with no other way to get in other than boat or plane it was eventually converted to a road with traffic alternating going through every 20 minutes or so. My bike only cost $12 to go through. There were at least 6 lanes lined up, with buses, rvs, cars/pickups, and bikes going through at various stages. Since they didnt want to have a major pileup due to a dropped motorcycle, i had to go last. The lady at the toll booth explained to me it would be much easier to get a fallen biker out with no one behind, as opposed to 100 cars waiting to go through. She had to explain all this to me when i paid my toll. The car behind me for some reason had a rather impatient driver, she honked at me several times. I dont know what the hurry was, the cars were not even going through yet.

After about a 25 minute wait, i finally got the signal to go through. I think the speed limit was only like 15mph. The railroad still sent trains through periodically, so the tracks are still there. Approached from the west, the tunnel slopes down to Whittier. The tunnel wasnt real big either, so i had to drive downhill, between the railroad tracks in a wet, slimy tunnel with inadequate ventilation for 2.5 miles. Doesnt get much better than that! Whittier is just a small coastal town. Evidently most of the town lives in one huge building that also has the school in it as well as several other services.

Several days prior i had arranged a ferry rider over to Valdez. The bike was about $80 to ship and my ticket was around $85. I had a couple hours to kill, so i took all my wet clothes inside and hung them up at various points around the ferry terminal lounge area. A short while later they started letting people drive on the ferry. the gal in the office told me i had to supply my own tiedowns. I only had one 1'' tiedown, but did have plenty of rope. Then about the time i got my bike all tied down to the floor in the storage area on the ferry, one of the workers told me they had plenty of tiedowns on board. next time i will ask before i tie anything down. The office lady must not have known that.

The ferry ride lasted about 6 hours. Parts of the deck were open for the public, so i spent some time outside. The weather was still overcast with light rain. Might have been 60 outside at the most. I met a couple guys who were riding their bicycles across the americas. North to Alaska by ferry, then ride down to the southern US, then fly to south america and spend the summer there riding back up to the states. Sounded like fun to me. One of them told me they were taking a year to do it, and would run them approximately $20,000. Im sure they will have some excellent stories by the time they are done with that.

Upon arriving in Valdez, i unloaded the bike, then drove around town a little bit before stopping at a kayak outfitter to sign up for some sea kayaking the next day. Only cost $229 per day. The day out in Homer ran me about $150 for sea kayaking, but they didnt have a glacier field to go through. There was a campground right in town with showers and laundry facilities, so $20 later i was setting up camp and getting some clothes washed and dried out. The bicycle guys were also there, so i talked to them for a bit. There were some other guys there trying to split firewood with a machete. I let them borrow my hatchet, which worked much better. It rained more that evening and continued into the night, but i got to sleep nonetheless.


Deep Creek campground.








The town of Whittier.


Pics from the ferry ride from Whittier to Valdez.






Whales!

Sea Lions!


July Iceberg!

The bike all tied down onboard the ferry.

Crab boats.

Valdez!





For some reason Valdez had an overabundance of black rabbits running all over town.


161 miles today.
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Old 01-22-2013, 04:39 PM   #26
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Location: Some of the best roads in the east..
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You sure got to see a lot of cool Critters !!!
What a fun RR... Thanks for sharing
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:35 PM   #27
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Great pics and a lot of good memories from last summer came back ....
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Old 01-25-2013, 07:48 AM   #28
TigerXC
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Nice RR, long days in the saddle, I understand why you wanted the 'doublewide' seat. You have very full days, great pictures.

So, did you make it back to Colstrip? (I was there last year, was detoured north at Lame Deer due to the wild fire east on 212...stopped at the Exxon!).

what happened next?
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:02 PM   #29
motobiko OP
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Location: Colstrip, Montana
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Nice RR, long days in the saddle, I understand why you wanted the 'doublewide' seat. You have very full days, great pictures.

So, did you make it back to Colstrip? (I was there last year, was detoured north at Lame Deer due to the wild fire east on 212...stopped at the Exxon!).

what happened next?

I made it back to Colstrip well after the fires were done, so i missed all of that. The one by Ashland burnt close to 400,000 acres, and the one on Rosebud Creek, between Lame Deer and Colstrip, burnt around 180,000 acres. We were about 50% under what our moisture normalling is for the year leading up to that, and 100-105 degree temperatures didnt help. I dont think anyone died, but a few people lost their homes. Some people lost 100+ cattle. Others had to ship them to Iowa or somewhere greener.

So, what did you think of our lone gas station, the prestigious Town Pump Exxon? Im working on the rest of this slowly, but surely. Sorry, im just not a fast writer. Hopefully ill have it done by march.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:09 PM   #30
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Day 16 7/22/12 Sea kayaking through glaciers!

The previous night brought rain and more rain. I had to pack stuff up wet and put it away so i could make the 8am depature date for kayaking. The weather was still cloudy and the forecast didnt look much better. I knew it wouldnt be the best day for going out, but didnt get the opportuntity to go to Valdez just any old day. Before i left the campground i talked to another biker ther from Missouri. He had pulled a motorcycle camper trailer up from St Louis on his Road Star 1300 with his wife on the bike too. That motor got a workout thats for sure.

We left Valdez and went west for about an hour on a water taxi. The guide was originally from Wisconson. He did kayak tour in Alaska in the summer and the Carribean in the winter. Not a bad idea. There were 5 other people there, a father and son from Tasmania, touring Alaska, a young coupel from Omaha on their honeymoon, and a dude from germany. I was lucky enough to get a double kayak with the german guy. He hadnt kayaked much before, so i jumped in the back(i've gone quite a bit). We toured the shoreline for a while, going in and out of streams, bay, then we went through the glacier field. Stopped on the bank and walked through them for a while. When the tide goes out, the ice chunks rest on the shore, if they are close enough. I got to walk through a field full of ice chunks in July, when it was around 50 degrees. The Columbia glacier would have been visible, if not for the fog. Thats 2 things ive missed due to clouds/fog(McKinley too).


Kayaking with a complete stranger proved to be somewhat of a challenge. Previously experience has taught me to paddle in sync in order to avoid hitting each other's paddles. This guy didnt get that memo. He would make long stroke on one side of the kayak with the double paddle, then stop for a second, look at the other side, then power through the other side. I found this to be somewhat frustrating, i prefer to alternate side to side with no hesitation, just smooth transitions. I guess it didnt matter that much, we werent racing. It was really cool to go through hundreds of ice chunks up to house sized.

The guide provided these mitten-like covering that went over the paddle handle, but when its 45-50 degrees out and the water is closer to freezing, once you hands get wet, they dont really warm back up. I had my ski gloves along, but once they were wet, i didnt bother with them anymore. We were out in the kayaks about 6-7 hours. That was more than enough for me. If it had been 60 and sunny, i would have wanted to stay out all day. Maybe next time.

The rain was still coming down a little back in Valdez, so i checked the weather, and it wasnt going to let up that day. I got the cheapest hotel i could find in town. Only $90, but better than taking off in the cold and rain with wet clothes. My ski gloves just werent doing the trick, i found some orange insulated rubber gloves for $18 in an outdoor store and some handwarmers for the next day. I ate at a burger at a local restaurant and then went to buy some groceries at the grocery store, where i met a guy from Cody, Wy in a camper. I told him i had rode through a couple weeks prior to today. After that i went back to my hotel and started drying out clothes

A sea lion napping. How he got up there i have no idea.


A whale we saw on the way out to the kayak spot.


Clear as ice!


Not so clear.



Black ice!


Nothing like Some authentic Alaskan food in Valdez.
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