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Old 08-28-2013, 10:10 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by clintonl View Post
...While I was in the bar a guy who was about to ride the Denali the next day came over and asked if I'd just ridden it and "How was the road?"

I responded "Oh, It wasn't that bad at all!"
Clinton - how soon we forget....

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Old 08-28-2013, 01:08 PM   #32
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... AWESOME ... just waiting for the next set jaja..
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:39 AM   #33
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At this point I was faced with a decision to either ride north via the Denali national park and on to Prudhoe Bay or head south.
I'd weighed the pros and cons of doing the Dalton vs Dempster prior to leaving and eventually decided on the latter for a number of reasons. Someone had also mentioned that the national park scenery was basically what I'd just experienced on the Denali Hwy but with endless tourists in buses mixed in.

I still had a lot of riding to do and so it was a pretty easy decision for me to push south on the George Parks Hwy toward the Kenai Peninsula.

Granted the service was a bit slow but I still rate this motel a solid C+ !

South of Ancorage the Seward Hwy winds itself around the Turnagain Arm of the Cook inlet. This wonderful two lane road boasts scenery that's stunning even by alaskan standards.

Trainspotting isn't nerdy if the trains are effing cool right ?

Rode through the Maynard mountain into Whittier via a super cool single lane hole in the rock that's shared by trains and cars.

It's certainly a good test of ones focus to ride down a 2.5 mile slippery band of concrete and steel knowing that if you contact the rail either side you're going down. Just to keep things interesting they've installed a few jet turbine fans for that surprise crosswind blast.

Apparently motorcyclists come unglued on a regular basis in this tunnel so to avoid them becoming speed bumps for the trucks they make all bikes travel at the end of each scheduled opening.

(Yeah I got busted for stopping and taking that picture.)


I'd previously read about Whittier in Klancher's book on Alaska — in it he has a colorful photo of a nice looking cafe and describes the town as having a "stunning setting with funky places"

I arrived in Whittier on one of the few wet and foggy days I've had on this trip. I'd just spent a very damp night camping at the base of a glacier so I must admit my expectations were calibrated for something completely different as I exited the tunnel. My mind was set on finding the funky cafe in Klancher's book and stopping for a nice hot coffee and croissant or something.

I never really found that cafe but as I rode around what I did discover was one of the weirdest towns I've visited in awhile. Whittier was built by the US military as a strategic shipping port and is now home to about 180 people. Two huge decaying buildings basically dominate the place.

One of them, the Begich Building, houses 85% of the town's population plus the police station. From the outside it looks like the kind of dreary high-rise you would've found east of the Berlin wall

The other is the 270,000 square foot, 6 story Buckner Building. Once the largest building in Alaska it was built to house thousands of military personal as "a city under one roof." It contained a cafeteria, classroom, radio station, jail, hospital, library etc. Abandoned after the '64 earthquake it's now just a decaying shell full of asbestos — vandals have pretty much broken everything they can get their hands on. Too cost-prohibitive and logistically difficult to demolish and remove it just sits there as a memorial to the cold war.

You can find a brilliant video of a guy skiing through it here:

To be honest it doesn't take much of a ride about town on a grey rainy day to understand why the residents refer to the town as "Shittier" — However I liked it's stark contrast to the jaw dropping beauty of the Alaska I'd experienced so far.

I wished I'd researched more about Whittier's urban decay prior to arriving and taken some photos while I was there. I think my only regret for the whole trip was choosing to have (an albeit delicious!) lunch at the Inn At Whittier rather than explore the Buckner Building ruins.

Kinda kills me to see what I missed out on:

After heading back through the whittier tunnel the weather cleared up and I was once again immersed in the beauty of the Seward Hwy

Jerome Lake just before the Sterling Hwy turnoff.

Set up camp next to the Seward harbour, lit a fire and spent 3 glorious days just taking a bit of a breather from the trip.

Seward is a really nice spot to take a break in. The town is cradled by beautiful mountains and the campsite is within walking distance of interesting bars, restaurants and cafes. Down the end of the main street is the Alaska Sealife Center which is worth a visit but not cheap to get in at $20.

I spent an hour there trying to get a decent picture of a puffin flying underwater. Not easy given the constraints of trying to capture a fast moving animal through thick glass under low light. I must have taken 50 pictures and really the best I have to show for it is this somewhat blurry shot:

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Old 08-29-2013, 04:59 PM   #34
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Clinton - what are you shooting these great pictures with?
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:16 PM   #35
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Heya Clinton

Good show mate, awesome trip and great to see it, keep waving that Kiwis flag high.

I too would love to know what weaponry your are taking the pics with.

Cheers dude

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Old 08-29-2013, 07:35 PM   #36
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Hey Clinton, truly beautiful photos, and interesting/informative narrative.

Thanks for sharing.

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Old 08-29-2013, 08:12 PM   #37
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North to Alaska!

Awesome RR, I'm in!!

Safe Ride.... just jeff
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:40 AM   #38
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Thanks guys glad you're enjoying it.

The photographic hardware I used to shoot these images was a combination of:

• Nikon D7100
• Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S Lens
• Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Lens
• iPhone 4S + post processing
• Sprint Pro II GM Tripod (b/c its lightweight and fits into my Zega Case)
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:58 AM   #39
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Great report. Beautiful pics.
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Old 08-30-2013, 12:02 PM   #40
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Homer, AK

The characters on this trip have been an absolute highlight for me. I spent a few days in Homer which is home port to the fishing boat "Time Bandit" from the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" TV show.

One morning I was taking a shower when this burly fisherman started singing in the cubicle next to me:

"If you like Pina Coladas… and getting caught in the rain…"

(In super high voice) "If you like makin' looove at mid...night"


(In a super deep husky voice) "hahahaha... oooonly in Alaska!!"

Now if I was typing my memoirs I'd tap out "life complete." at that point and reach for the carriage return lever.

Sometimes you just have to think outside the grid system.

Camping on the beach at the very tip of Homer spit.

I just took this picture for the Halibut.

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Old 08-30-2013, 12:22 PM   #41
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This is fantastic. Bravo.
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:30 AM   #42
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Homer is the end of the road as far as the Kenai Peninsula is concerned. Normally I try and avoid retracing my steps if I can but this time I was looking forward to riding the around the Turnagain Arm again — I just found it to be so beautiful.

As I rode up the Seward Hwy I decided to make a brief stop in the small community of Indian, AK. There I met Mary Lou, an absolutely amazing 80 year old lady who has managed her late uncle Jim's crusty old log cabin liquor store for 50 years.

Ok I'll admit I stopped because of a cool faded neon sign advertising "hardcore alaskan gifts". Now Alaska being the wild untamed place it is I was kinda intrigued to see how "hardcore" was defined in their Funk & Wagnells you know? I wandered in half expecting a dumb dudes store but what I discovered was the polar opposite.

Mary Lou greeted me in a pristine beige lace dress straight from the prohibition era, fastidiously applied makeup and lipstick the colour of salmon roe. For the next 30 minutes we had the most delightful conversation about life growing up in Alaska: the winters, the earthquake, and her proudest achievement: the extended fight to save her neon sign from the Feds who wanted it removed to "improve" highway access. "I was prepared to chain myself to it... like Jesus Christ" she said with classic alaskan fervor.

She showed me the most amazing photos of her life with her dad when she was young. Hunting, bootlegging and even some '50s glamour shots of her leaning against log cabins, mining equipment and other alaskiany things. The black and white prints were all satisfyingly dog-eared, cellotaped and annotated in her shaky handwriting. My god. They. were. amazing.

I tried my best to sweet talk her into letting me take a photo of her and her past life however unsurprisingly she held fast and said "No I want to keep it all a secret". She did make one concession though, I could take a snapshot of this shit balls amazing painting of the time she was chased by a grizzly bear.

In the end I did discover how alaskans define "hardcore" — It was Mary Lou.

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Old 08-31-2013, 09:27 PM   #43
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Absolutely amazing shots, waiting for more!
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:21 AM   #44
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Great report and awesome pics!
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Old 09-01-2013, 05:12 PM   #45
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As mentioned by many others....amazing photographs
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