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Old 09-09-2013, 01:33 AM   #1
jwolff OP
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Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Eek Alaska in 3 Weeks

Hey all.

I'd thought I would share some of the adventures that Gregg (a fellow inmate) and I had on our brief (but awesome) trip to Alaska.

I've already written quite a few posts on my personal blog so if you're impatient feel free to skip ahead.

--

This post came from here.

--

Background:

Due to the nature of Gregg's job we only had 3 weeks to complete our ride. We started from San Francisco and rode all the way up into Alaska. We did some "basic" planning (how to get there and how to get back) but that was it!

By the end we rode about 7081 miles. (and on the same Tourances we started on as well)

The bikes:

Both Gregg and I both own the BMW R1150GS (both 2000 model year). I was apprehensive about upgrading from a 2002 F650GS at first because of the [/B]size but was soon convinced after purchasing that it was one of the best decisions I made for this trip. The 1150GS is meant for long haul trips over gravel, dirt and, of course, pavement. The model year design was moderately simplistic compared to some of the newer bikes. (2002-2004 versions have servo brakes which are known to cause problems, etc.) One of the main benefits of owning the same bike is that we have the same gas mileage and the fact that we can easily carry one set of emergency replacement parts should we need them.


BMW 1150GS Top Of The World



Moto Maintenance




Bay Area Moto Shop Logo


We did all our prep work at Moto Shop. Run by our friends Wilder and Aleks, Moto Shop enables local bay area motorcyclists to come in an wrench on their bikes. Whether it’s to do a oil change or change a clutch you can do everything here (for a price of course). Feel free to check out their website to reserve a station or more info. Make sure you tell them I sent you!

Some of the maintenance we did included:

  • Full tire changes (Metzler Tourances)

  • Oil Change

  • Valve Adjustment/Check

  • Air filter change

  • Brake fluid flush

  • Clutch fluid flush



We've generally always done maintenance on our own bikes. Unfortunately there isn't much space out here to wrench so this gives us an excuse to get away from the girls for the weekend.

Packing List


I’ve included a detailed list items that we packed. I’ll go into detail later about what pieces of equipment became invaluable and what items we could have done without.

JandG Alaska Packing List

We ended up splitting the items between our bikes in this way:

Jared’s bike:


  • Clothing and toiletries in the right pannier

  • Tools, octane booster, straps, alcohol fuel, etc. left pannier

  • Books and food in top case

  • Extra oil and tire repair kit in “hidden” compartment underneath top case



Gregg’s bike:


  • All camping items in the black Wolfman bag

  • Greggs clothing in the Wolfman bag as well

  • The tent and sleeping pads in the orange dry bag

  • Stove and wind break in left pannier

  • Go pro gear in the right pannier



The Ferry
Lastly (but not least) we debated whether we wanted to take the ferry up, back or both ways. We ended up on settling to take it back from Haines. (Now having done it was the definitely the best plan.) As stated in an earlier post we both spent $815 dollars. It was a bit pricey but overall worth the trip (especially the fact that you’re plopped in the middle of Alaskan wilderness for 4 days on a boat!). I’ll discuss more about the Alaska Marine Highway later on.



Alaska Marine Highway - M/V Columbia



--

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy!

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 09:44 AM
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Old 09-09-2013, 03:53 AM   #2
Oldone
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Awesome!

I'm always ready for Alaska trips since two of our kids have lived there for 20 years....and.....how I'd love to ride up there someday too. Thanks.....

Gary "Oldone"


Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Ride

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Old 09-09-2013, 10:41 AM   #3
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Day 1: The Long Haul

Originally posted here.

---



Alaska Trip Calendar Reminder


It’s 4:30am and you’re stumbling around in the dark attempting to prevent the weight of your eyelids from pulling you back into a deep slumber. The motorcycle gear seems harder to put on. (“Did I snap those damn buttons incorrectly, again!?”). In your head you know you’re ready for what is about to come next but you aren’t quite ready to leave. You feel the sharp vibrations of your phone in your motorcycle jack pocket; you know it’s time to go.

Soon enough, around 5:30 am PST we were on the road for Tacoma. Gregg and I planned this day to be (one of) the longest. The rationalization you ask? Portland/Seattle are relatively close compared to Alaska, we knew that we could always organize trips to those states/cities later on. We were focused on the prize: Alaska proper.

Daily report:


Total distance traveled: 816.3 miles

The Route:






Day 1 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.



07:50 - first stop in Orlando, CA. We filled up on gas and also rolled down the street to the Subway. We ended up buying some breakfast and a foot long sub each so we could munch on a half as we continued to make our stops.

Tip: requesting the Subway employee to wrap the halves separately made consuming them in stages more efficient. Especially when your hands are gross from your gloves and fueling up.

11:20 - stopped in Ashland, Oregon to get fuel. One of the main things I didn’t realize was that the northern part of California and the southern portion of Oregon is quite pretty (especially in and around Mt. Shasta National Park).

17:54 - stopped in Winlock, Washington for more fuel. Here’s where we made our first boo boo: as we pulled off the freeway exit a motorcycle cop happened to be coming in the other direction. I thought nothing of it and headed toward the gas station. By the time I pulled in the gas station I looked around and the cop behind Gregg on the side of the road with his lights on. (Ut oh.)

The officer proceeded to ask Gregg where we were coming and where we were going. He explianed to Gregg that it’s a $140 dollar ticket in Washington to roll through a stopsign (or in our case perform a California Stop). “You wouldn’t want that ticket would you?” he asked as Gregg replied “No sir!!” He proceeded to tell Gregg to cut it out until we get to Canada. And with that admonition, he got back on his bike and rode down the road in the same direction he was originally traveling. (Wew, trafic ticket averted.)

Tip: Most of the local governments and even state governments are hungry for revenue. Be careful while riding through these states!


1150GS Fueling Up in Winlock Wa


Anyway, we pulled in fueled up and took off for Tacoma shortly after.

19:00: last stop! Tacoma, Washington. We decided to rock the Howard Johnson for the night. (Figuring we would do about the same amount of miles the next day) We dropped off our stuff and rode down to Patty’s Burgers. It’s too bad I didn’t know about it before but Patty’s is particularly known for their “Cake Burger” with is composed of 7 hamburger patties! I ended up settling for the Reuben but maybe next time Patty…

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Old 09-09-2013, 02:11 PM   #4
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4 of us from TX rode up to Alaska and can honestly say the Alaska Ferry trip up was a high-lite of the trip. We were all on BMW GS's, the best bike in my opinion for that epic ride.

We took the ferry up and enjoyed every second. Need to do it again. The road from Haines was one of the best parts. That and alot of other miles...
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:03 AM   #5
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Hard to say

Hard to say what our favorite part was. I think my first choice would have to be the Denali Highway.

I definitely have to agree the part to Haines was one of the better ones. We ended up missing out because it was foggy that day. (gah!)
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:21 AM   #6
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Day 2: "What's in Alaska?" "Adventure."

Originally posted here: http://bit.ly/19EGQDh

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The Best Place On Earth



We were off and running early in the morning. We knew it was to be another long day in addition to crossing into Canada. See the route and log below for more info.

Tip: One thing that I decided to do second day was to develop a checklist to ensure we had everything when we were about to leave. (Learning my lesson from leaving my sunglasses in our Howard Johnson hotel room). It is not a happy time when you just remembered you left your passport in the hotel you stayed at which is 600 miles away. (luckily we had no such problems! the power of checklists!)

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 690.8 miles

The Route:




Day 2 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.



9:31 - Everson, WA: We stop to fill up before the border. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Tip: gas is quite expensive in Canada compared to US prices. Always fill up before you hit the border! (Doesn’t matter as much for 4~5 gallon fill-ups but for those with 4 wheeled vehicles you will thank me)

9:50 - Border time: we hit the border shortly after our gas stop. We took some time here to get some pictures. The town right before the border is outrageous.

Once we got to the customs booth I got waved in to play the game of 20 questions. The agent started asking the normal questions. She especially wanted to know why I had so many stamps for China and Hong Kong. (A guy has to work right?!) After giving me a hard time with that she asked why we were going to Alaska I answered "For adventure." Completely valid response. I guess at that point she deduced that I was harmless, waved me through and proceeded to give Gregg the same treatment. So welcoming.



Welcome to Sumas!



11:00 - Hope, BC: We got our first taste of tall mountains and beautiful waterways. We decided to stop here snap some pictures and grab some, you guessed it, Subway.



Beautiful Hope BC



Tip: when ordering your Subway sandwiches avoid getting them toasted. They will end up being soggier than if you don't toast them when you leave them in your top cases/panniers for a while. (YMMV)

13:40 - Cache Creek, BC: More gas. The temperature here was hot compared to how cool it was when we first arrived in BC. We were thrilled to get rained on as we got going again.

17:53 - Quesnel, BC: More gas. We also managed to find a Wal-Mart. I ran in and got some snacks and then we headed to Boston Pizza. We had seen some of their restaurants as we made it though BC and thought to give it a try. Bad choice: the decor was weird and the food wasn't that great. (and it was expensive too). We ended up getting one of their pizzas but it really wasn't like the pizza you could get back home. (Gregg worked for a pizza place back home so he knows his pizza.) Wouldn't recommend it especially if you have some more local/divier choices.

22:15: Vanderhoof, BC: Last stop for the night. We attempted to get to the local campgrounds but we didn't make it in time. A native offered to put us up in his front yard but we passed on the offer (a little on the sketchy side). We ended up going down the street from where we gassed up to the Siesta Inn. The inn came recommended by the Milepost so we thought we'd try it (and we were tired of riding by then). It turned out to be moderately decent experience. Pricey ( $93.50 for two single beds ) for what you get but it did the job.

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Old 09-10-2013, 06:53 PM   #7
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Ok, Im waiting for more, sounds good so far! Have fun!
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Old 09-10-2013, 09:50 PM   #8
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Well written so far. Looking forward to the rest
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Old 09-11-2013, 06:30 AM   #9
jwolff OP
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Day 3: Another day, another glacier.

Originally posted here: http://bit.ly/15jC7Yf

---



British Columbia Is Beautiful! No lie, No lie.



We had our eye on the prize, Yukon territory. It was a bit of a stretch from Vanderhoof but we were naive. So we packed up our stuff and headed back out on the road not knowing what the day would have in store for us...

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 658.9 miles

The Route:




Day 3 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.



10:20 - Smithers, BC: First stop of the day was in a cool town called Smithers. This is where we initially wanted to stop our second night but we didn't quite make it. (Roads in BC are not quite as straight and fast as I-5 in California!) We grabbed our Subway sandwiches and gas and started rolling down the road. Not too far out of town we saw the first glacier of our trip. See the picture below.



Taken by Gregg: Glacier Just Outside Smithers, BC



Things started getting exciting for us because we knew this is stuff that Alaska was all about. In my ignorance I didn't quite realize that most glaciers live up in mountains in "bowls" surrounded by high peaks. For some reason I always thought that glaciers floated around in the water (which some do when they calve but not all!).

Things had been slow going since Smithers. The roads were much more twisty and we started encountering more construction. This was also the first point in the trip where we rode large portions of the highway without any other people/cars/rvs in sight. Very opposite to riding in the Bay Area!

This was the first point in the trip where we pushed the fuel consumption of our bikes. At the intersection of route 16 and 37 we realized that we may not have enough gas to make it to the next known gas stop. We pulled out the Milepost and were relieved to see a gas station much closer than we originally thought. Instead of taking a side trip to Prince Rupert we pressed on knowing that if we did run out of gas we had an extra two gallons strapped to my bike. No problems! Gotta love the Murphy repellent.

15:15 - Bell 2 Lodge, Vernon, BC: On arrival my tripometer indicated 235.4 miles(!). This makes sense since the 1150 gas tank fits around 5 gallons but we had never pushd our bikes that far before. Edit: We filled up (for the first time since we left) on 87 octane. We came prepared though with some octane booster to keep our bikes happy. (I guess they were designed optimally to be run on 93 octane. Crazy.)

Warning: If you own a 1150GS I do not reccomend you run that low on fuel. Ever. Reasoning? The 1150GS has a submerged fuel pump. As with most submerged fuel pumps the gas acts as coolant for the pump. Once that coolant is gone you run the risk of burning out the most important motor on your bike. (it's also a PITA to change) Further along in the trip we made it a point to make more gas stops. We were no longer in a rush to get anywhere.

We ate some our sandwiches and pressed on north. As we continued we encountered beauty on every turn. It was hard not to stop everywhere and take pictures. If we did stop for pictures we knew they would turn out awesome like the one below:



Another from Gregg: Route 37 BC



Nothing motivates you like a beautiful lake and rolling pine covered hills!

19:00 - Dease Lake, BC: We stopped in Dease lake to get some gas and then pushed on, our eyes wide with anticipation.

We ran into more construction and gravel roads. Looks like we were starting to see a trend. -_- Luckily our motorcyles were made for this stuff and handled nicely. Here's another picture of the northern portion of Route 37.



Route 37 Construction and Rain



As we started riding though the hill though the sun started playing peek a boo and it was dark at some points. We decided it would be best not to ride into moose (or elk, or bears.. ) and call it a night. We were tired and decided that a little alcove off the side of the highway would serve us best for the night.



Route 37 Camping -- Smile you're on camera.


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Old 09-12-2013, 10:07 AM   #10
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Day 4: Yukon Territory

Post originally posted here.

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Yukon Territory - ALCAN



Our first night of camping went well. Especially for the fact that the mosquitos were all over us within 2 minutes of arriving. We made friends with one of the locals whom had found Gregg's bike most intriging. (See picture below)



A fox comes and checks out Gregg's bike.




Luckily we had no run in's with bears, yet..

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 364.2 miles

The Route:




Day 4 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.




10:00: BC/YT Border - We took it a bit slower than the past 3 days. It was nice to sit back and enjoy the scenery a bit. It managed to sprinkle on us a little as we rode into YT. Nothing to complain about. (We had on our triple digits just in case!) We took some victory pictures, got bit by some mosquitos, took some more pictures and then beat feet out of there. Destination: Whitehorse!



Yukon Territory Sign




10:30: We hit up the gas station at the corner of 37 and the ALCAN (didn't realize it was there until we got there). If my memory serves me right they did have 91 octane. As we got further along though higher octane fuels became scarce.

13:19: Yukon Motel, Teslin, YT: We stopped for lunch and some 87 octane here. As you can see from the picture below the view was beautiful riding in.

Warning: Motorcyclists beware of the long metal grate bridge. Ride slow and carefully!



GG Original: Teslin, YT



The lunch was pretty good. Gregg was inspired and ordered some poutine. All in all a nice warm meal that our bodies hapily digested. (Nice change from Subway..)



Yukon Motel - Sliced Beef and Gravy on Toast




18:17: We decided to take a brief detour and checkout Marsh Lake. We had ridden beside it for a bit and found that they had a swimming area! Once we got closer we were blown away at how clear the water was and how the scenery had our jaws open most of our time here. If you are riding the ALCAN don't pass this place up. It will blow you away.



Another GG Original: Marsh Lake, YT




We, of course, jumped in the water. It was a bit cold but completely worth it. Good thing we brought our bathing suits. After we played with the go pro in the water for a bit we packed up and ventured toward Whitehorse.

19:30: Stoped here to get gas. We went to the Real Canadian Superstore also and stocked up on food. Our landing spot for the night? Takhini Hot Springs. Turns out they have a campground area for R/Vs and moto campers such as ourselves. We rode out of Whitehorse and down the street (practically) to the hot springs. The side road, no surprise here, was under construction so we had to ride through a mile or two of soggy gravel.

Once we arrived we found a neat little campground off to the side of their main building. The price was modest and the ammentities were a plus (free wifi). Once we settled at our camp spot we walked over and took a soak for an hour. The "springs" only seemed to be a concrete pool with hot water but I guess you have to believe that there is a hot spring there.

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Old 09-13-2013, 02:25 PM   #11
jwolff OP
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Day 5: Final Stretch

Originally posted from here.

Note: feel free to click on the images for bigger copies!

--

"I can smell Alaska from here.."



The road to Dawson.



After another night of successful camping, we were on the road again. Destination: Dawson City.

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 346.7 miles

The Route:




Day 5 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.



We were on our way around 10 am. While driving down the road we noticed a bird and instead of scaring it off I decided to roll in stealth mode and say hi. I managed to get some cool pictures.



Making friends with the locals.



Once the bird was bored with us we rode down to find an abandoned run-down cabin by one of the (many) lakes.



Abandoned Cabin



Here is a picture of the lake.


Abandoned Cabin lake



The scenery was getting even more beautiful as we rode along. This trip was getting legit and luckily the weather was cooperating all the way!



Gregg's Bike



13:17: Soon enough we arrived in Pelly Crossing, YT. I was hungry so I managed to put together a "sandwich" composed of sweet Italian sausage links and left over bread. (Not recommended.)



Jared's Sammich


After that horrible escapade, we got going. Dawson city in 165.5 miles!

Soon afterwards we encountered our first real construction zone. The way construction works up north is that they provide pilot cars to navigate you through the construction zones. It's a good idea since, most of the time, the whole road is torn up and machines are all over the place.



First Pilot Car Experience



We made it through without a hitch and continued onward to Dawson.



The Road to Dawson City



19:30: We arrived in Dawson soon enough. We parked and walked around taking in the vibe of the old town. Gregg decided to get some fish from Riverwest Bistro while I settled for a sandwich from the deli inside Bonanza Market. Once we refueled our bodies and bikes we headed to the campgrounds on the other side of the river. And what better way to cross the rapidly flowing Yukon River? Why by ferry of course!



Dawson City Ferry



What was most impressive about the ferry ride was the magnitude of the current of the Yukon river. Once the ferry left the shore it was sideways fighting the current as it traversed across the river. I don't know how the steamboats ever got anywhere when they used to run up and down the Yukon from Whitehorse. Crazy.

We rolled around the campground and settled in on one of the spots farther away from the water. The campgrounds were great and they even had free firewood for campers to use. A+!



YT Campgrounds Dawson City



It was a good day of riding and we needed the rest so we could tackle the Top of the World highway the next day. Alaska, we have you in our sights.

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Old 09-14-2013, 12:51 AM   #12
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Day 6: Top of the World

Originally posted here.

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Top of the World Highway



Top of the World highway was reccomended to us from the guy who originally owned Gregg's motorcycle. He said "if there is one thing you shouldn't miss don't miss the Top of the World Highway." So if it's not obvious enough, we chose this to be our experience entering Alaska for the first time. More info past the break.

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 206 miles

The Route:




Day 6 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.



We were on our way around 10 am. We knew that it would take a bit longer to go the 100 or so miles on the Top of The World Highway. Plus now that we were almost in Alaska it was time to sloooow it down.

Tip: The top of the world highway has no outhouses until you get past the border into Alaska. Don't forget your TP!



Top of the World Highway





Top of the World Highway



The gravel was pretty packed. We had no issues riding through it. We were probably traveling ~50 mph the whole time. As we got further and further away from Dawson we noticed the musk of burnt wood and the fog of forest fire smoke. Forest fires this time of year are quite common. Luckily for us we were no where near the direct flames.

Just before we hit the border we met up with some reindeer. Gregg was excited enough to chase them off the road only to almost get stuck. He did manage to get some great shots in the process though!



Reindeer Before The Border - Top of the World




We arrived at the border in the early afternoon and quickly scuttled across. The border agent checked our passports and with little question waved us through. We made it.



Alaska Border - Top of the World Highway





2x1150GS from San Francisco to Top of the World, Alaska



After a copious amount of picture and video taking we were on our way again.

Tip: Don't have a tripod for your SLR? Why don't you use one of the boots you packed as a stand?

Just around 13:00 we rolled into Chicken, Alaska. Chicken got its name because the local residents wanted to name the town after the multitudes of indiginous ptarmigans but couldn't spell the word. They did know how to spell chicken though. Thus, the town of Chicken was born.



1150GS at Downtown Chicken Alaska




On our ride into Tok we encountered another (smaller/closer) forest fire. This one seemed to be closer to death than the other one. We arrived at a construction zone and asked the flagger how long has the fire been burning. Her reply, "It's been burning since May." She proceeded to tell us that because it was wet for a while a couple weeks back it had died down but now that it was dry again it was picking back up. (No good.)

One interesting tidbit was the fact that in YT and some points in Alaska (if my memory serves me well) they post where forest fires have occured in the past. "Fire of 1990" they read. It's most obvious when the fire has been recent because the landscape looks like theres just a bunch of broken toothpicks standing out of the ground. It's facinating to see the transformation the land takes after coming up against the destructive forces of fire.

We made it into Tok around 17:00. We fueled up at the Shell and were pleased to find higher octane gasoline (91 octane). We shuffled over to the Three Bears Grocery and got some food for the night. After leaving the store we happened to meet one of the local BMW enthusiasts. His name was Carroll Johnson (CJ) and he was super knowledgeable about the area. He gave us some tips and pointed us in the direction of the local accomodations. He suggested we stay at Thompson's Eagles Claw Motorcycle Park run by his good friend Vanessa.

After parting with CJ, we rode over to the spray power washers next door and hosed down our bikes. They were covered with mud and bugs from the trip all the way up so it was time to take care of it. We've heard some nasty stories how the soil in the area (especially on the Dalton) is akaline to the point where it will eat into everything on the bike.

Once the bikes were washed we decided that turning in for the night was a good idea and rode to the the moto park. Upon our arrival we were hailed with a friendly greeting and waved in. "Find any spot you want!" Vanessa exclaimed. And we did just that.



Thompson's Eagle's Claw Motorcycle Park




We also managed to make some friends across the way:



Moto Friends From Germany



Turns out it was a couple from Germany riding their BMWs from Alaska to Baja. They left their jobs and comfy lives in Germany to do this all. Inspirational indeed.

We cooked some chili with some bread on the side, lit up some celebratory cigars and checked out for the night.

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Old 09-15-2013, 12:01 AM   #13
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Day 7: The arctic circle

Originally posted here.

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Top of the World Highway



Rumor had it it was raining in Anchorage. Rain is a good thing but not when you're riding your motorcycle through it. We decided to book for Fairbanks. Our final target: The Arctic Circle.

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 437.2 miles

The Route:




Day 7 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.



We packed up at the campsite and got going around 10:30. We rolled up toward Fairbanks in a semi-relaxed pace. As we rode we noticed that lots of the trees to the left and right of us had been burned (recently).



Forest Fire Aftermath Alaska Highway



We also got a kick out of the higher mountains that lay in the distance. Unfortunately as we rode, they disappeared. Where were all the mountains going?!

We kept riding and noticed the now familiar smell and appearance of a distant forest fire. This was the most intense fire we had seen so far.



Forest Fire Smoke Over The Sun



It's crazy that people in Alaska have to live through this stuff every year not knowing when a fire could come rip through their towns. I guess it's the price you pay!

As we continued to ride the smoke began to dissipate but by our arrival at Fairbanks I realized that we would have to live with it some more. We rode into downtown at approximately 14:13 and filled up our bikes (90 octane aw yes). With our stomachs about ready to implode on themselves we decided to stop at the Cookie Jar to get some much needed sustenance. What was on the menu? Country fried steak. With no internal (or external) negotiation we both immediately ordered two plates when the waitress addressed our table. Worth it? Every penny

We did some further planning here. Debating whether or not to aim for Deadhorse or be conservative and aim for the circle. We wanted enough time to see everything and, from what we heard, there wasn't much to see in Deadhorse once you get there.

Once our bellies were full we fired up the bikes and rode up the Eliott Highway to eventually connect with the Dalton. It was moderately fast to get to the beginning of the Dalton (mostly all halfway decent pavement).



Dalton Highway Sign



But as we began our trek northwards there was pavement no more.



Dalton Highway Twists and Turns



The smoke continued to dissipate as we rode further north. We both started getting excited because the Dalton, despite its drawbacks, is pretty! Occasionally we would pass a trucker or another car or the occasional bicyclist (and people thought we were crazy). Mostly though, we were on our own cruising on this packed dirt road in the middle of the Alaska wilderness.

Tip: Always move over more and slow down for the truckers (and they will for you too). Both Gregg and I got pelted with some rocks that got kicked up by the trucks. Not a happy time. I also recommend putting down your face shield when getting close to semis and pickup trucks. You'll thank me later.



Dalton Photo Stop



Dalton Photo Stop



After taking longer than we expected, we arrived at Yukon River Camp. There isn't much to see here but if you're hungry and need gas this is the only place to get it until Coldfoot.

Tip: You have to walk inside to the restaurant in order for the pump to be turned on. Leave your credit card with the cashier in order to proceed.



Yukon River Camp - Gasing Up The Motorcycles



We filled up our bikes taking note of the odd smelling gas we were putting in our tanks. A little extra octane booster for you... and for you..

Once we paid we got rolling down the road. We weren't too far from the circle and we had plenty of daylight.



Dalton Highway and the Alaskan Pipeline



Of course, the trip up the Dalton wouldn't be complete without a mention of our encounters with the Alaskan Pipeline. The pipeline and the road seemed to interweave with each other. Sometimes they would run parallel or sometimes they would diverge in slightly altered paths. It was cool too see and imagine all the hard work that had to be done to put it in.

We continued to ride and found one rough patch of gravel right before arriving at the Artic circle. Just before our crossing, a semi and a pickup truck, got into a (big) fender bender. The dust that the semi picked up threw off the driver of the pickup and he ended up driving right into the semi's trailer. Good thing no one was hurt. (makes for a bad day though!)

Finally, around 21:00, we made it to the Arctic Circle sign.



Dalton Highway Arctic Circle Sign



After some pictures we headed to the campgrounds right behind the Arctic Circle sign. Even though it was late there was no sign that the sunlight was waning. We set up camp and decided to eat food across the way. We made dinner on one of picnic tables. What was on the menu? Peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches.

Tip: Always a good idea to cook away from your tent. No matter how careful you are you will spill something on you, your gear or the ground. This will definitely attract wildlife (especially bears!).

We hit the sack knowing we would have a long run back the next morning. Kickass.

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 06:42 PM
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Old 09-16-2013, 06:08 PM   #14
jwolff OP
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Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Day 8: Denali Highway Beginnings

Originally posted here.

---



George Parks Highway


We woke up to sun to subtle drips and taps on the top of the tent. (Ugg. Rain.) We had enough of the Arctic Circle. We packed up with haste and began our journey back down to Fairbanks (and beyond). More info about Day 8 after the break..

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 401.2 miles

The Route:




Day 8 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.


We donned our Aerostich Triple Digit covers and cruised down the Dalton. Luckily the only thing the rain did was keep the dust down. Smooth sailing..

We reached Yukon River Camp about an hour and a half after leaving the circle. We topped our tanks off and bid the tank of stinky gas adieu. Before we left the area we did manage a couple photos of the Yukon River Camp bridge. I definitely have respect for anyone who built a bridge over this mindblowingly powerful river.


Dalton Yukon River Camp Bridge


We, now understanding how packed the gravel was, hightailed it down the Dalton. We were able to reach Fairbanks around 3 hours after leaving Yukon River Camp. Not bad..

We stopped for gas, gave our bikes a scrub at the self car wash (near 514 Old Steese Hwy, Fairbanks, AK), and grabbed some Subway (yum).

Tip: Prepare to spend at least 5-6 dollars per bike at the self wash. If you are washing multiple bikes at the same time I recommend putting them in the same bay. It is a more efficient way to manage your time on the spray clock.

Tip: It's almost guaranteed you will always find a smidge of dirt after you have washed down your bike. Suck it up. It will get dirty again. :)

We sat and pondered our next move while we munched on our sandwiches and bruised apples*. We checked the weather around the state. It appeared the rain down south was breaking up.

* Tip: We didn't have much luck packing the food in my aluminum top case without our food getting pulverized. (Picture pulverized teddy grahams, leaky peanut butter jars, leaky apple butter jars, etc.) It may be best to use a separate ruck that you can strap onto your bike. If anyone else has suggestions feel free to chime in!

Google: Weather - Denali AK --> Partially Cloudy.

Looks like we had our answer right there. The Denali Highway was another one of the most recommended roads in Alaska to adventure on. If you were planning to take a trip without riding this road you need reprioritize. (Will make sense in a paragraph or so..)

So with our bearing set, our stomachs full and our bikes (mostly) clean we headed out for the George Parks highway. Unfortunately for a good portion of our ride it was smoggy from the forest fires and rainy. We were missing out some possibly awesome views. We kept trucking looking forward to seeing some of the best views in Alaska.


George Parks Highway Sun Peeking Through The Rain Clouds


After riding for a while in and out of construction, the mountains and hills started getting larger. There were more streams and rivers running by the road as we proceeded along our route. It felt like, for the first time this whole trip, we were entering the threshold to the real Alaska. No doubt that it was beautiful on the Dalton and the Top of the World but the closer we got to Denali the less we remembered about how much we loved the routes we had already traversed.



George Parks Highway Beauty



George Parks Highway Mountains with Snow



We reached our final fuel stop around 18:38. We ran into a bunch of other adv. riders passing through. They had heard that the Denali was in fair shape (according to now our good friend @ Motoquest). They also recommended taking a ride to Kennicott if we had the chance. We took a mental note. We said thanks and parted ways. Things were looking good for the Denali. We were ready!

We hopped back on the George Parks and not 2 minutes down the road from the gas station in Cantwell we found the entrance to the Denali Highway. We took a left turn to our Alaskan destinies as we barreled down the paved road. We had arrived.


Denali Highway - The Beginning from Cantwell



Our Bikes on the Denali Highway



Denali Highway Mile 155


We continued to ride managing only to stop about every 20 feet to take pictures. This place is amazing. I couldn't find anyone else on this road that didn't have a smile on their face. I would dare to argue that people calling Disneyland the happiest place on earth are misinformed. I saw some happiest kids spending time with their families camping out along the sides of the road. We even got a few waves!

We rode about 38.7 miles into Denali when we finally called it quits. We found a good spot that was elevated above the road. We had a full (cloudy) view of the area and the snow peaked mountains.


Denali Highway Motorcycle Camping == $0


Gregg got some really great shots:


Denali Highway Mountain Views



Denali Highway Mountain Views



Denali Highway Mountain Views


Unfortunately though, McKinley (aka. Denali) was not viewable. It was covered in clouds, which were rolling in from the south. Luckily we would be able to see it later in our trip..)

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 06:43 PM
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Old 09-16-2013, 09:06 PM   #15
Dan Diego
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: San Diego, CA
Oddometer: 557
Really enjoying your RR! This ride is something I totally plan to do.

Question: Are you guys a couple? I hope that's not too personal.

Keep it coming, fellas.
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When I finished high school, I wanted to take all my graduation money and buy myself a motorcycle. But my mom said no. See, she had a brother who died in a horrible motorcycle accident when he was 18. And I could just have his motorcycle.
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