Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Epic Ride Reports
User Name
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 09-17-2013, 07:02 AM   #16
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Not a couple. Though, we act like one sometimes. Just long time friends from school.

Thanks for reading!
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2013, 07:38 AM   #17
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Day 9: The Kennicott Circus

Originally posted here.


Denali Simple and Pretty

80% of the pictures I took with my cell phone didn't really serve justice. Just take my word for it it was beautiful.

We survived a night camping out on the Denali. It definitely got the coldest here that night. We were prepared though with lots of warm clothing (and worst case, our motorcycle gear). By the morning the clouds rolled in and we couldn't see much. So, after a light breakfast we begrudgingly broke down camp.

The plan for the day? We decided to take the advice of the riders we met the day before and head for Kennicott. But what we didn't know was that it was going to be one of the longest days of the trip...

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 391.4 miles

The Route:

Day 9 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.

I was almost sad leaving the Denali highway. The views were beautiful at each turn and we couldn't get enough of it. Soon enough the clouds parted enough to let the sun peek through. We thought it was a good opportunity to take a few pictures so we stopped and did just that!

Both our Bikes on the Denali

Denali Mountains and Glaciers

More Denali Mountains and Glaciers

After the picture party, we continued to truck east (and sadly) found the end of the Denali highway. We hung a right onto the Richardson and aimed for Glenallen.

Tip: There isn't much of any type of civilization on the Richardson. There are a few gas stations that carry only 87 octane on the way so be prepared. Always carry extra gas!

Tip: Not bringing a gas canister? Think again. Always carry extra gas.

At around 15:18 (about 4 hours of riding from the Denali) we hit our first gas stop in Gakona. We had ridden 203.2 miles and there was some concern about our range. We knew better quality gas was not to far so we only filled up with 1.5 gallons and got back on the road.

Just about 30 minutes later we made it to the Spoke of Alaska: Glenallen. We pulled up in the gas station to find a myriad of vehicles waiting for gas. We picked a line and stuck to it. (Unluckily for us, it was the weekend so the gas station was busier than any of the other times we had passed through there.)

Once we got to the pump we filled up with 90 octane and pulled off to the side to eat and plan. We had no idea what Glenallen had to offer (turns out not much) but we did encounter our first food truck of the trip parked right next to the gas station. It was a Thai food truck and we were glad, at first, to see it. Gregg ordered the Pad Thai and I ordered the green curry with chicken. We dug in and soon realized that this wasn't San Francisco Thai food. I kept eating as Gregg slowly gave up on his meal. You win some you loose some I guess. (Soon to be the motto of the day)

After refueling our lives, we were heading south again on the Richardson. As we continued down, we soon found ourselves facing one of Alaska's still active volcanoes: Mt. Wrangell.

Mt. Wrangell

Again, my picture does not do this beautiful landscape justice.

It was pretty exciting to see considering I thought all the beautiful views were in Denali. Luckily, this is Alaska and there was always more to come.

Mt. Wrangell and the road to Chitina

We came upon the Edgerton and swung a left. We rode for about 8 miles to find a quaint little gas station in Kenny Lake. Did we stop? No. Should we have stopped. Yes.

Tip: A cardinal rule for motorcycle trips is to fill up, even if you've used a couple of liters ( or quarts -- what ever tickles your fancy), at every gas station. (unless you have a GSA with a 7.9 gallon tank) You don't know what's down the road so it's better to be cautious with a full tank than to be panicking with an empty one.

We continued down the road. Pushing toward our destination. We knew we still needed to get to Chitina but we also had to combat another 60 or so miles of gravel road to Kennicott. (Keep in mind we already had done 70 miles of gravel on the Denali only a few hours earlier) Gravel is taxing; it is slow going and most of the time not fun.

We arrived in Chitina about an hour later. Gregg saw something and pulled over. "There's a moose in the water!" "Whaat?!" (Earplugs still in) "There's a moose in the water!" "Oh!"

Moose in the Water in Downtown Chitina

It was the first moose we had been able to capture on camera. He must have been hungry because what ever he was munching on probably wasn't too tasty.

We hopped back on our bikes and continued to roll down the road. We passed through a one lane "tunnel", followed by some twisties adjacent to a rock face to the left. The view then opened up to a larger body of water sprinkled with fishing wheels. I didn't quite realize what those little machines were or what they were doing at the time but they looked cool. (Reminded me of oil pumps)

We rode up a hill now adjacent to a rock face on our right overlooking the river. "This place is pretty." I thought to myself as I found myself wrangling my handlebars. We had found our old friend, gravel. It seemed to be worse at the beginning of the ride to Kennicott but got less irritating as we continued to ride further in. We managed to stick to the ruts in the road created by cars trying hard not to deviate and get mucked by a dastardly pile of rocks.

The Road to Kennicott

As we proceeded on slowly we found a one-lane bridge high above what is known as the Kuskulana River. Even though it said not to stop we slowed and peered over the edge. We were hundreds of feet in the air. Cool.

The Kuskulana River Crossing

Not all of the road was curvy fortunately. We were able to pick up speed on the straightaways. They were mostly packed so it made higher speeds possible.

Road to Kennicott Straight Away

At last we make it to McCarthy, the town just before Kennicott. One of the interesting things about McCarthy is that to get to Kennicott we needed to take a "foot bridge" to get over one of the rivers. We had already heard from multiple sources that it was ok to ride on so, without a second thought, we scurried across the bridge.

Kennicott River Bridge

The bridge is designed for heavy things. We saw people riding their quads across the bridge as well.

We did come along a second bridge but the water level here was so low we were able to ride on the dirt road adjacent to it. We took a right and cycled down the road past the bridge. We were almost there! Then I saw something. I slowed down to a crawl. It was a baby moose and its mother! Gregg grabbed his camera and got some pictures.

Kennicott Moose Baby and Mother

We attempted to get closer but as we inched nearer they both hobbled into the woods and out of sight. Darn.

Just another minute down the road was the entrance to Kennicott. What a cool place.

Kennicott Downtown

As you can see in the picture, the Kennicott glacier is off to the left while the old mining town looms to the right. The state of Alaska is slowly in the process of refurbishing the old mining town as it's becoming a tourist attraction.

Gregg walked up the hill and also got a picture looking down.

Kennicott Looking Out

The interesting thing about those little mounds is that were formed by the glacier. Overtime with the weather they will erode. At least for now they will be an indicator of what once was.

Tip: I do want to make a point here that the glaciers are really melting. They won't be around much longer. So take a trip to Alaska before it's too late!

We go back on our bikes and poked around town. We got to the end of the main road and saw a dirt path. Lightbulb. "Hey we've done these before. Lets go!" We got up on the balls of our feet and started riding down the trail. We found a tiny (no railings) footbridge, checked it out, and proceed to ride over it. (no problem.)

We continued to ride along the trail as its width slowly crept toward the sides of the motorcycles. We kept going up until we realized maybe this was a bad idea.

Jared Freaking Out In Kennicott

Stuck Bikes in Kennicott

Turns out the left side of the path filled with trees and brush decided to disappear. We were up a semi large hill with no easy place to turn around. (Fun!) We did get close to the glacier so to take advantage of the situation Gregg got some good pictures.

Kennicot Mountains and Glacier

After some panicked brainstorming on my end, (Gregg was mostly calm and collected. I thank him for that.) we decided to pick up the rear ends of both bikes and flip them around. And so, we did just that, unloading our luggage, turning the bikes around and packing them back up.

Easy peasy. We road in the other direction careful not to make any mistakes. We continued to traverse the path we had just blazed minutes before. On the balls of our feet and arms loose taking the bumps as they came. I was the first one to the footbridge. I gave it some gas and at that moment my handle bars cocked. I was heading toward the edge of the bridge. (queue dramatic music)


I came to a brief and dramatic halt. My front tire had landed off the side of the foot bridge tipping the bike to the right side. My wind shield had shattered into a million pieces, I had no front brakes, my turn signal cracked apart and my luggage/rear frame(aggghhhh) seemed to have sustained the rest of the damage. And to top it all off the bike was laying sideways across this stinking bridge. Luckily, injury wise, I managed only a bruise on my right knee.

Tip: Always wear the appropriate gear. There are no excuses.

After Gregg was done watching this mess unfold in front of his eyes, he came over. We put our heads together to think how the heck we were going to get my bike still partially on and partially off this bridge completely off this bridge. It took a little elbow grease but we managed to slide it over enough to get it upright. We rolled it on to solid ground and assessed the damage. Besides the problem with the brakes it seemed everything else, at least mechanically, was in good shape.

Gregg got out the tools as I grievously picked up the shards of windshield plastic from the ground and placed them in my side pannier. The brake problem seemed to be related to one of the hex screws attaching the brake line to the brake reservoir. It only took a slight tightening to get feeling back in my brakes. I then hastily wiped the stray brake fluid that had been leaking from the now tightened bolt and we began repacking up my mess.

Tip: Brake fluid will destroy your paint. Wipe it off quickly or pay the price!

We now had to get out of there and figure out where to sleep. It was already about 20:00 and we knew we only had about 2-3 more hours left of sun.

So, once everything was packed up, we rallied and rode back to McCarthy. We rode over that first bridge and stopped to develop a game plan. We volleyed suggestions back and forth to each other. One of the locals rode by and attempted to help (he knew the owner of the local hostel) but to no avail we were out of luck.

Irritated and aching we wanted nothing more to do with Kennicott. So we decided to ride back to Chitina and figure things out there. So, for the next couple of hours we battled the same gravel we had encountered in the beginning as the sun slowly faded. We met some other cars on the way and followed. We had already traveled 180 miles at this point and the concern for fuel grew. We knew that there was no gas in Chitina. The thought of asking for gas crossed our minds. I knew though that we could at least get to Chitina with what we had in our tanks. So we pushed on to Chitina.

We arrived in Chitina around 00:00 the next day. We were tired, moderately hungry and just need some place to sleep. The town was dark and it felt like as if it was abandoned. No people besides the fishermen we saw a while back were around. I looked into the Milepost and after reading I found that there was an RV park by the airport. The concern about our range was still high (I think Gregg went a few more miles than me at one point) so, for the first and only time of our trip we used one gallon of our emergency gas between the two bikes and pushed on to the Airport.

Just before getting there we managed to ride aside a rather large moose (As according to Gregg. I totally missed it). We pulled in to the RV park and started setting up camp. Our spirits were low but we knew we'd be spending the next day recovering. Were we done with the wilderness? (No.) Were we fed up with each other? (Miraculously no.) Where we going to sally forth and see the rest of Alaska? (You bet your ass.)

So that ends the tale of our trip to Kennicott.

Lessons learned:
  • Always use caution planning trips that involve gravel. They take twice as long and take twice as much energy out of you.
  • Always wear your gear. (Always always always always)
  • I'm not going to discourage going down random paths (as you may never know where they lead) but knowing something about the area before you go down random single track is highly encouraged.

As for the rest of the night, we settled down to sleep and figure out our next move our thoughts pointing toward civilization: Anchorage.

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 06:43 PM
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-17-2013, 08:21 AM   #18
The Examiner
ClearwaterBMW's Avatar
Joined: Jul 2005
Location: Clearwater, FL USA
Oddometer: 5,972
That was a terrific thread with great pictures and wonderful stories to go along with them. Thank you very much for sharing all this with us.

I never grow tired of reading about Alaskan adventures. Thanks for bringing yours to us
'11 R1200 GS Adventure with a DMC M72DX Sidecar
'14 R1200 GS & '14 R nineT (march, 2014)
Live life like you mean it... but take your family and friends (and DOGS) along for the "ride"
ClearwaterBMW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2013, 07:46 AM   #19
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
No problem. Hopefully it will be useful for other inmates still yet to take the trek to Alaska.

Still more to come. Kennicott was just a long day.
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2013, 07:56 AM   #20
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Day 10: Day of Rest

Originally posted here.


Chitina RV Park

After survivaling a day of hell, we knew we needed a break. Our target destination for the day: Anchorage.

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 253.7 miles

The Route:

Day 10 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.

Still a little weary from the day before, we packed up and got back on the bikes. We then proceeded to ride back the way we came. Back to Glenallen, back to that darn Thai food truck.

First though, we needed to address our gas shortage. At around 10:59 we arrived at Kenny Lake and filled up partially. Gregg made a comment about how the guys inside the store looked like Duck Dynasty. They sure did..

We got going again with only one short stop for more pictures of Wrangell. We arrived in Glenallen shortly after. We filled the bikes and the empty fuel canister the rest of the way with 90 octane. The instant after we gassed up we both grabbed some food from my top case and munched. We confirmed our route and figured we could make it all the way without stopping. Smooth sailing.

We got on the road again a few minutes later. We looked forward to some rest but also some new views. We managed to stop a couple times so Gregg could get some pictures.

Mountains We Ran Into on the Way to Anchorage

Mountains We Ran Into on the Way to Anchorage

At some points in the ride we found ourselves navigating twisties barriers on one side and rock clifs on the other. We often saw signs for falling rocks and took caution. I was still tired from the night before but concentrated on the riding and our goal for the day. 250 miles. It's nothing, notta, zilch.

We stopped outside Achorage in Eagle River and grabbed some more gas. It was only 15 miles to Anchorage. I wiped my decrepit windshield, headlights and turn signal to remove the bugs and muck. This was a common theme throught this trip. I would be curious to see what some of the 18 wheelers look like after running up and down Alaska a few times. Yum.

We reached Ancorage around 17:00. Our first view of the city included airfields to the left of us and industrial buildings to the right. We kept moving inwards and hotels and business buildings started cropping up. Anchorage isn't much of a city but it has its own unique charm that can't be ignored. We made a left turn on L street (aptly named) and finally found our destination for the night: Inlet Tower.

The hotel had been reccomended by Phil's book so we thought we would give it a try. For some reason the portion of the book describing the hotel stated that the hotel had underground parking. When we got there though there was no underground parking to be had. I even confused the girl at the counter asking where it was. Luckily they still had a parking lot where we could rest our motorcycles for the night. (we had to lug all our crap in though) We were concerned about the price ($160) but as it turned out we were staying at the cheapest hotel in "Downtown" Anchorage. All the other hotels wanted ~$300 even with a AAA discount. (aaaggh)

Once I got up to the room, I took a couple shots and sent them to Gregg. He, at the moment, was calling around getting prices of the other hotels. The room wasn't one I would normally fork over $160 but we were beat and needed some good rest.

Inlet Towers Bathroom

Inlet Towers Beds

Inlet Towers View of Our Bikes From the Room

Once all our stuff was hauled in we both took really long showers.

Darn glorious.

We coordinated dinner and decided to walk (I mostly hobbled) to the brewhouse down the street. The place was packed and we weren't sure if we were going to get seats (or food). We did mange to amble over to the bar where there was open seating and found some seats. I ended up getting their Pilsner (if my memory serves me right) and Salmon for dinner. Gregg was inspired and ordered the beer sampler. The beer was good but nothing to go crazy about.

Glacier Brewhouse Beer

Glacier Brewhouse Food

Dinner was great. Beer was great. It's just what the doctor ordered.

We took a detour and walked around a bit before heading back to the hotel (there wasn't much to see). We made it back to the hotel a few minutes later. Gregg flipped on the TV and I passed out. It had been a long 48 hours.

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 06:43 PM
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2013, 01:53 PM   #21
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Day 11: Down to Seward

Originally posted here.


Camping In Seward

Day 11 was a bit of a rest day. After sleeping about 12 hours we did decide to keep trucking. There was much to do and not enough time to do it all. More after the break..

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: ~145 miles

The Route:

Day 11 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.

We woke up with rather large todo list:
  • Recharge Macbook
  • Upload photos
  • Change fog light
  • Laundry
  • Clean mess kit
  • Air out tent
  • Glue turn signal
  • Books for boat

We had our hands full for the morning. The main concern was getting the laundry done. Gregg found a laundry mat and brought everything over while I spent time fixing my turn signal, cleaning the mess kit and researching where to go next. He returned and I headed out to go take the clothes out of the drier. Gregg managed to tackle his always malfunctioning fog lights while he was at the laundry mat. On my way over I noticed another manual car wash. I made a mental note and headed over to the laundry mat. Lucky for me the machine was just finished when I walked in the door. No problems here.

After heading back and things seemed to be in order we headed out for breakfast. Where to? Why the Snow City Cafe of course. The restaurant was back downtown but they served all day breakfast. Booyah. We find some parking spots and pay the meters. But for some reason all of the other meters with cars parked next to them were not paid for. Odd. We walked over to the restaurant and waited for a few minutes. This place was packed and busy. "Food must be good!"

As soon as we got a table we ordered some food. I ended up getting the Heart Attack on a Plate.

Breakfast at Snow City Cafe -- Heart Attack on a Plate

The description from their online menu is as follows:

Hash browns, bacon crumbles, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, sour cream (veggie bypass has no bacon) Half order 7.95 | Full order 9.95 | With two eggs, add 3.00

Mmmm nom. Nothing like a healthy plate of Heart Attack.

From what I remember Gregg got some french toast, eggs and coffee.

Once we finished breakfast, we hopped on the bikes and headed to the car wash. The bikes needed a good washing for the third time. Got to keep the bikes clean!

We then headed over to Title Wave Books where we both bought a couple books to entertain ourselves on the boat. I managed to find "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz and "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. (both are good books and are highly recommended)

Finally, after all our errands we headed out onto the Seward Highway taking it all the way down.

Our first stop involved wildlife! We slowly pulled up on lots of people off to the side of the road taking pictures. Turned out that there were beluga whales romping around in the turnagain arm. I grabbed my phone and Gregg grabbed his camera and we shot a bunch of pictures.

Turnagain Arm and Mountains

I spy a beluga!

Standing by the turnagain arm.

Unfortunately the whales were far enough away to not get great pictures. Sneaky little aquatic mammals.

We managed to stop a little farther down the road to appreciate the beautiful views. Gregg got another nice shot.

Seward Highway Mountains and Glacier

On our second to last stop, I saw a sign for jerky so we hung a left into the parking lot. It had been a dream come true because we had been searching for specialized jerkies the whole trip. (reindeer jerky, venison jerky, etc.) Sadly the guy wasn't at his jerky cart so we resolved to stop on the way back up. Gregg though managed to take some pictures. He has a particular affinity for seaplanes.

Sea Plane off the Seward Highway

We finally made it into Seward around 19:49. We stopped at the Seward Power Stop! and got gas. Gregg bought some firewood. We then took our bikes next door to the Safeway to get some beer and food. We then took a brief tour of town. Stopped in the downtown Hallmark to get some goodies and post cards. Once we had enough of the Hallmark, we booked it out of there and back the way we came.

The plan was to camp out at the campgrounds somewhere on Nash road. After some confusion on where it was exactly, we finally rode down there and set up camp. The views of the bay and surrounding mountains were great. We set up a fire on the beach and made dinner. What an awesome place.

Camp Fire at the Nash Road Campground

Tip: For some reason in Phil's book it states that this campground is free. (it isn't) It's $10 a night for tent campers. The kiosk is on the right side as you make your way in.

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 06:44 PM
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2013, 02:23 PM   #22
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Left Coast
Oddometer: 498

nice write up !

- you guys made very good time
- the Stewart-Cassiar must have been a little challenging ?
- come on, it's called the Alaska Highway .....

.... want to do this next year ... tired of riding to Califohnia every year ... not !
hwunger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2013, 10:34 AM   #23
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
The Stewart-Cassiar was a bit mind melting by the end of the day. The biggest thing that had us worried was the patches of (unmarked) gravel. It was the first place where we really ran into those.

Highly recommended you go. Just make sure you bring a mosquito net and rainproof gear.
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2013, 10:47 AM   #24
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Day 12: Homer Spit

Originally posted here.


Mt. McKinley from the Kenai Peninsula

A preview of things to come. We enjoyed Seward but there was much more to see. More about Day 12 after the break..

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 216.5 miles

The Route:

Day 12 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.

Staying in Seward was relaxing and well worth the ride the day before. We had plans to see the rest of the peninsula but first we needed to handle some things in Seward.

We needed to find the post office to send our post cards and then grab some food. After the post office, we set out to the Smoke Shack Restaurant to get some grub. This restaurant was housed in a retired Alaska Railroad train car. The food was normal. Gregg was hoping for something smoked but it appeared the "Smoked" was just a play on words in the restaurant title.

Chicken Sandwich from the Smoke Shack Restaurant in Seward

I ended up getting the chicken sandwich (pictured above) and Gregg got the ribs. Everything turned out pretty tasty.

Next on our checklist for the day, the Seward Exit Glacier. We grabbed our gear and rode back up north on the Seward Highway. The turn was to the left just outside of town. We rode in admiring the beautiful landscape. We finally caught a glimpse of the glacier in the distance. It was still there! (Great!) We arrived in the parking lot and proceeded to change out of some of our moto stuff and walk up the path to get a closer view. The walking path takes about 30 minutes if your young (or young at heart). We, of course, took some pictures as we got closer.

Gregg at the Exit Glacier

The saddest part about this visit though was the fact that the national parks people posted signs indicating where the glacier was in relation to time. The sign that Gregg was standing next to was indicating that the glacier was up to that point back in 1998. It has melted back quite far since then.

After pictures, we headed back down to the bikes. We saw what we wanted to see in Seward. We were off to Homer!

Our first quick stop involved the jerky cart that we had passed the day before. The owner was there and we were ready to check out what he had to offer. He gave us some samples and Gregg ended up getting some of his venison jerky. Happy day.

Gregg at Jerky Cart

At about 18:00 we reached Sterling, AK where we filled up. After some credit card confusion with the attendant we were back on the road stopping a couple more times on the way. We were especially excited about the fact that we could see Denali from where we were. Gregg managed to get the first picture in this post of Denali that day. It made up for the fact that everything was clouded over while we were on the Denali Highway.

After encountering some construction traffic we made it out onto the Homer Spit around 20:15. The Homer Spit is an interesting piece of land. It juts out into the Kachemak bay from main land and, for what ever reason, the locals decided to build buildings out here (mostly tourist traps).

We found a camping spot on the beach. It was located on the western portion of the spit. At that point in time it was uncomfortably windy. We had some other choices of camp spots but we felt like this was the best one at the time.

Homer Spit Camping

Fortunately for us the wind died down later that night. We set up camp and made dinner. We had to shield my stove from the wind using my improvised wind cover and also some rocks. The menu for the evening you ask? Why tri-colored rotini with sauce.

Gregg managed to get some pictures of the town before it got too dark. Definitely worth the ride.

Homer Spit Marina

Panorama of the Homer Spit Marina

No trip to Homer was complete without taking a trip to the Salty Dawg Saloon. They only serve out of bottles here so we decided to take one down.

Ouside the Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer

Inside the Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer

We soaked in the decor. The place was covered with dollar bills (and other pieces of currency) from people all over the world. That made up for the lack of their tap and beer choices. After our beer it was time to head back. We wanted to get some rest for what laid ahead.

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 06:44 PM
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-21-2013, 12:47 PM   #25
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Day 13: Hope, Whittier and Anchorage

Originally posted here.


Aqua Blue Rivers Caused By Glaciers

It was another beautiful day in Alaska. We had just concluded our one night stay in Homer. We had figured, by this point, we were sufficiently far enough away from Haines that we should slowly head back (almost 1000 miles). There was still much more to see though! There were a few stops left on our list and both were worth it. Day 13 here we come.

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 298.5 miles

The Route:

Day 13 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.

We got off to a late start this morning. We had our disassembly process down to a science and soon we were on our bikes rolling down the road. We stopped for gas around 11:19 and hit the Sterling Highway with a vengeance.

Riding the Sterling Highway

We didn't make many more stops for pictures on the Sterling Highway going back. The weather turned out much nicer than the day before. (on our way down it got pretty cold. on the way back not so much). I did manage some more rolling pictures:

Riding the Sterling Highway

Around 13:21 we did stop in Sterling for some gas. I knew that this could get us up to Hope and back and possibly even to Whittier. Our plan from here was to get to Hope and have some lunch and then figure out the rest of the day. So we got back on the bikes and rode for Hope.

Once we got to the Hope Highway, we were greeted with nicely paved twisty roads. Nothing our bikes couldn't handle. It was a nice change of pace and the scenery was a great complement to the fantastic riding.

We arrived in town around 15:00 and found a table at the Seaview Cafe.

The Seaview Cafe in Hope

Phil's book suggested to go there for the chowder so we ordered just that! Gregg got a bowl while I got a cup and a sandwich. (turned out to be the better idea). The sandwich was good but the chowder left something to be desired. (Phil why are you letting me down man!) Once we ate, we walked around. We found the creek that runs through town low and behold there were fish scurrying around in there. Gregg grabbed his GoPro, extension and dunked it in the water. He got some neat video.

Once we had enough of the fish, we packed up and decided to head out and over to Whittier. Interestingly, the only way to get to Whittier is by boat or through the approximately 2 mile one lane tunnel. The tunnel is multi-purpose serving both vehicles and trains (train tracks built into the ground).

We soon arrived at the toll booth. Turned out it was $12 a piece for motorcycles. (we were under the impression it was $15) We paid our tolls (cash or credit card) and were instructed to stand by the bathroom (for some unknown reason). We waited, we waited and we waited. "What the heck. I'm not sure why we are waiting here." So, we decided to get rolling. But the second we got moving the barriers to prevent entry went down (whoops).

As we stopped, a couple of the tunnel guys pulled up and explained the situation a little better than the girl did at the booth: Motorcycles always go last. I assume this is more of a safety precaution but also to keep things on time. I could imagine riders have taken some tumbles in the tunnel because of the railroad tracks. "Ohhh. Ok. That makes sense."

Soon enough they let us through. The tunnel was damp and dark. I did manage a picture:

Whittier Tunnel Alaska

We rode down the middle as recommended. It did get annoying as we proceeded past the exhaust fans but we made it in once piece.

After emerging, we rolled toward town. It turned out this place was much smaller than I imagined. Off to the right you could see the giant concrete building which used to house the whole town (hospital and movie theater included). We parked at the end of town, grabbed some ice cream and found a seat over on the break water. I pulled out my camera and got a picture of the bay.

The Whittier Passage Canal, Whittier Alaska

We walked around some more. Though the town was small it had its own little charm that both Gregg and I appreciated. Gregg got some shots of the Marina.

The Marina in Whittier Alaska

We walked down the entrance and toured all the boats. One thing we thought was fascinating was the fact that the water was crystal clear. To the point where we could drop little pebbles and see them fall 8-10ft down to the bottom of the marina. Gregg got a great shot of one of the boats. There was stuff growing all over the hull.

Boat Hull Adjacent to the Marina Entrance in Whittier

We soon wrapped up our tour. Next stop: Anchorage. Up the road we went and back to the entrance of the tunnel. Just before passing through Gregg got another shot of the glacier to the right side of the eastern entrance.

Glacier Right Before the Eastern Entrance to the  Whittier Tunnel

We couldn't go anywhere without seeing them.

Moments later, after all the cars had passed through, we were waved in and we rode the tunnel back to the connected world. The moment we were on the other side we pulled over and took some pictures of the floating pieces from the Portage Glacier across the lake.

Portage Glacier

This had been our first views of the results from glaciers calving.

We hit the road again up to Anchorage. We were planning on staying at the House of Harley Davidson as they offered free motorcycle camping to the side of their building.

The ride back from Whittier was short and uneventful. We needed gas and food though so we stopped off the highway and Gregg Yelped for a restaurant. He shortly found a restaurant and we were on our way again. We navigated the roads until we found what we were looking for: Arctic Roadrunner It's an order-at-the-counter type place serving all types of fast food sandwiches. It's just what we needed after a long day of riding.

After dinner, we headed over to the House of Harley. As we pulled in and parked we were greeted by one of the Motoquest guys. It turns out that Motoquest shares the same camping common area as the House of Harley. We were also greeted by one of the other campers. He had been riding from Florida on his BMW 1200RS. We got to chatting about our adventures and he gave us some tips about what to check out in the area. He was planning on taking the same route we were taking down to Haines but a week later. We hooked him up with the Vanessa's campground info (Thompson's Eagle's Claw Campground) for good measure.

After we set up camp we were invited to come hang out on top of the MotoQuest roof. To get there we had to climb up a large pallet that scaled the back wall. (cheap ladder) We met some of the guys and they offered us some beer. We spent an hour or so getting to know each other. It sounded like they have awesome jobs. (but it could be stressful sometimes -- especially prepping for back to back adventure rides)

After hanging out for a bit it was time to turn in. Thanks again to Brenden, Ovi, and everyone else at Motoquest for being so welcoming. Also thanks to House of Harley for hosting!

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 06:44 PM
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2013, 01:53 PM   #26
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Day 14: Back to Tok

Originally posted here.


Glenn Highway Riding North to Tok

After a restful night at the campgrounds behind House of Harley, we got packing. We were to make a Wal-Mart stop and then hit the road for Tok. Our riding portion of the adventure was almost over..

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 332.5 miles

The Route:

Day 14 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.

Riding back to Tok was simple as it could be. We would have to ride back up the Glenn Highway. We hadn't ridden this portion of road yet so we didn't know what to expect. One thing we did run into though was these wonderful patches of gravel.

Road Construction on the Glenn Highway, Alaska

The short patches of grit appeared inconsistently as we rode along. They may have tripped us up at the beginning of our adventure but no longer. We flew right over each and every one without a problem. Our tires holding up even ~6000 miles later. Pretty amazing! (By the way we both ran a fresh batch of Metzler Tourances.)

Tip: The best way to deal with these patches, as long as you are on a straight portion of the road, is to maintain your speed and roll right through them. You're less likely to get goosey and at higher speeds you will "glide" across the gravel instead of sinking into it.

Selfie on the Glenn Highway Alaska

We stopped a couple times to take pictures. (of course) The Glenn highway had its own characteristic beauty. It was great to ride down and we practically saw no other people or traffic.

We made a fuel stop in Glenallen at our favorite gas stop with our favorite Thai food place. (buh) We filled up and got out of there. We were on a mission!

Glenn Highway - Gregg and His Motorcycle

More pictures along the way. The above is one of Gregg admiring the mountains around us. He even got a picture.

Glenn Highway Beauty

We rode on some more and also managed to get some rolling pictures as well:

Thompson's Eagle's Claw Campground Cooking Setup

Besides the random gravel patches it was a great cruise up to Tok. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day!

Then, when we were about 20 miles away from Tok we noticed some Harleys on the side of the road. Gregg slowed down and asked if they were good using hand signals and in a slight bout of miscommunication he took off thinking everything was ok. (it wasn't)

I pulled up aside them and it turned out the woman had gotten a flat tire (bummer!). The gentleman was asking if we had a pump (and of course we did). I did let him know that my alcohol container had exploded over it so it may seize up but it's worth a shot! By this time, Gregg had come back and figured out that there was something wrong. So he pulled over and we got to work.

By that time, they had already patched the hole in the tire so all we had to do was fill it up. Gregg first attempted the CO2 cartridges that come with our patch kits. The first one shot in ok but the second one didn't fare as well. We decided to go for the pump so we hooked it in to her bike and let the pump do its job.

While we were chatting it turned out that the woman was a director at Harley Davidson and even more interestingly the gentleman was the previous owner of the House of Harley in Anchorage. (The place we had just stayed the night before!) They explained that they and a cohort of riders were heading to the big 110th Anniversary celebration in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

After some continued conversation, we finally got the back tire up to a good pressure. Their friends had just arrived with a can of fix a flat but it appears we had fixed it (at least temporarily). So with that I offered to follow them in to make sure they at least made it to Tok. We hopped on the bikes, let everyone pass us and took up the rear. I did manage to get a rolling picture as we got going.

Adventure Motorcycle Ride into Tok Accompanied By Harleys

What an awesome feeling to get when you can help somebody in need. I was glowing by that point.

We arrived in town with everyone in one piece. She came over and thanked us again. We chatted a bit more as we filled up our bikes. After a bit more conversation it appeared that her tire wasn't going to make it to Milwaukee. She would have to get her bike towed to Fairbanks to have a new one put on. (agg) We said our goodbyes and wished them good luck on the rest of their journey. I hope they made it!

Gas Selection

Tip: I took a picture of the gas pump up in Tok. This is an example of what's offered up there. In most places we were able to get 90 octane (and the bikes ran pretty well on it).

We headed next door to Three Bears Grocery and bought ingredients for Sloppy Joes. We were going all out this night. We made another stop at the liquor store down the street and then we headed to the campgrounds.

Once we arrived I attacked the food while Gregg started setting up camp. I even got a picture of him in action sporting our beloved head net.

Gregg Wearing a Mosquito Net Setting Up The Tent

Vanessa has an awesome set up for cooking and cleaning. They even provide a propane stove, cookware, and tableware to use (and wash afterwards obviously).

Thompson's Eagle's Claw Campground Cooking Setup

After some finishing touches it was time to eat!

Glenn Highway Beauty

And it turned out pretty good! There is nothing like a good sloppy joe on the road. After a rejuvenating dinner we settled in and mentally prepared for our last leg in Alaska. It was time for Haines.

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 06:45 PM
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2013, 09:06 AM   #27
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Day 15: Haines

Originally posted here.


Alaska Highway Riding East Before Haines Junction

Our ride from Tok to Haines was horrible and beautiful at the same time. I guess it was too much to ask for perfect weather the whole three weeks. Nevertheless we trucked on. To Haines!

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 475.2 miles

The Route:

Day 15 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.

Tip: when you have a long day of riding ahead get up when the sun does. (We already knew this but for some reason we didn't think of it.)

We got up rather late and proceeded to clean up our mess. I walked around the campground to get some picture proof we were there. (But also to show off this awesome campground.)

Thompson's Eagle's Claw Campground Teepee

Thompson's Eagle's Claw Campground Converted Ambulance

Thompson's Eagle's Claw Campground Cabin

Thompson's Eagle's Claw Campground Parachute Gathering Area

As you can see this is a unique place. If you stay the night you won't be disappointed.

We were on our way by 13:00 PST (aghhh). I almost suggested waiting another day there considering we still had some leeway before the ferry left. (Too late oh well.)

We left Tok in a rush. The roads turned rough but still paved to the border. The pavement was composed of a mishmash of different materials supposedly deposited over the years. It looked as if someone decided that the best color would be alternating between grey and brown.

It was slower going past that point especially because we couldn't tell if the chip seal was chip seal or gravel waiting to make our day horrible. Fortunately we didn't run into many patches of gravel between Tok and the border.

In addition to the unique pavement, we had our first real run in with rain. At first it started off soft but soon enough we knew that we would have to stop and throw on our Triple Digits. After passing a bicyclist gearing up we decided to do the same.

We made it to the border and passed through without a problem. What a crummy send off. Thanks, Alaska.

Wet Motorcycles at the Alaska/YT Border

I took a quick picture of the bikes. Gregg was more wet than I was. It turns out his Kilimanjaro Jacket lost its waterproofing a long time ago.

We got rolling again only to be greeted by our old friend gravel (and lots of it). We rode through about 10-15 miles of loose slippery aggregate in the rain. Needless to say it was a fun time.

We finally broke free from the gravel and continued trucking southeast on the ALCAN. We passed by some little towns (of which we probably should have stopped for gas) and kept our eye on the prize.

It still was raining and cold at this point. I had all my layers in, my sweatshirt on underneath my jacket and my handlebar warmers set to kill. Gregg was very much in the same situation. Turned out he had his heated gear set to roast and was still cold. Fun times.

We rolled past an older gas station and pulled over. We were nearing the point of no return on our fuel range so we decided to turn around and fill up. The owner and her dog made her way out to the pumps and we started chatting. It sounded like they were having a good year and hopefully we made it even a little better.

Koidern River Lodge Gas

Don't be so angry bro.

We gave the lady some cash and geared back up. The rain had stopped at this point but I kept my triple digits on.

As we rode we started approaching some really beautiful scenery. We stopped for pictures a couple times (including the picture at the beginning of the post.) Glaciers were everywhere around us. I was awestruck at how blue the water looked from afar. It made up for all the undesirable riding we had just experienced a couple hours before.

Alaska Highway Riding East Before Haines Junction

Glaciers East of Haines Jct on the Alaska Highway

The road was in better shape during this portion of the ride. Although, there were many more bumps in the road caused by frost heaving. This was a new concept for us but it didn’t cause too many issues.

As we rode and hit the bumps I could feel the rear tire rubbing (ut oh). It was during this time that I saw that my orange dry bag was hanging off of the back of Gregg's bike. (!!!) We pulled over to inspect the damage. Gregg was quite lucky that it didn't get caught in the wheel or else we would have had a really bad day. Luckily for the tent inside (and us), the bag took most of the damage. The only other damage was to the tent's compression sack and a slight hole in the tent's rain fly.

Once we finished that investigation, I also looked into why my back tire seemed to be rubbing while going over those bumps. It had turned out that the frame was off enough from my day in Kennicott for the tire to rub on the inner wheel well. Gah. I pumped up the preload on the back shock and readjusted the black cylinder on the right side enough so it was out of the way. Perfecto!

Alaska Highway Open Roads

After battling the frost heaved highway we finally made it into Haines Junction around 19:09. We fueled up at the gas station on the left and then hit up the Northern Lights Restaurant across the way.

Northern Lights Restaurant Lunch Haines Junction

In the restaurant, we had a beautiful view of the mountains around us and a half way decent meal in front of us. The meal turned out to be a bit more expensive than we had hoped but there wasn't much bargaining to be had since this seemed to be the only restaurant within miles.

After dinner we moseyed out to the bikes. We still had a bit (170 miles worth) to go and the sun was playing peek-a-boo behind the clouds. We got back on the bikes and aimed them south. Haines or bust.

We rode through the rolling hills noticing the beauty that surrounded us. We also realized that we were to see the sun no more. It kept getting darker, colder, and, to top it all off, foggier as we got closer to Haines. We had to slow down when all we wanted to do was speed things up. We rode through some dense patches of pea soup fog at some points slowing to a crawl. We were almost there but Mother Nature kept warding us off.

Finally we arrived at the border crossing. As we motorcycled past the Canadian portion the border officer came out and waved. We headed down the road and stopped at our final border crossing! After a few questions like "Do you have any weapons?" we were on the other side.

We followed the twisty road into town attempting to navigate in the dark and cold. We hit the middle of town around 23:00 and proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes attempting to find a suitable camping spot. After some confusion and deliberation we rode down Mud Bay Road to the Chilkat State Park where we hastily pulled in and attempted to find a good spot. (It had started raining again). We erected camp in the dark and the rain.

As the rain fell around us we reflected on the day. We knew, that from this moment on, we were in relaxation mode. There was nowhere to be but Haines for the next 48 hours. It was time to look forward to our next days of the journey.

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 06:45 PM
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2013, 03:09 PM   #28
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Left Coast
Oddometer: 498
Originally Posted by jwolff View Post
Originally posted here.

- After some finishing touches it was time to eat!

And it turned out pretty good! There is nothing like a good sloppy joe on the road. After a rejuvenating dinner we settled in and mentally prepared for our last leg in Alaska. It was time for Haines.

Labbatt's Blue !!! ...... whoo hoo

My old man's favourite beer

hwunger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2013, 07:39 AM   #29
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
We were excited to see it up there. Can't get it in Cali.
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2013, 07:53 AM   #30
jwolff OP
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: San Francisco
Oddometer: 32
Day 16: Haines Day 2

Originally posted here.


Glaciers Chilkat State Park Haines Alaska

Rain. The Bringer of Life. Rain. The Bringer of Flash Floods. Rain. The Bringer of Wet Socks. Rain. The Bringer or Boring Days.

Rain. We woke up very much the same way we fell asleep with rain tapping on the roof of the tent. We still managed some adventure once the rain broke. Day 16 is here!

Daily report:

Total distance traveled: 26.3 miles

The Route:

Day 16 - Alaska In 3 Weeks

Click to view in Google Maps.

As you may have guessed we spent most of our day relaxing reading the books we had purchased for the ferry. No worries though as the rain didn't last forever. By late afternoonm, a break in the rain made us hopeful that we had the chance venture out into town to check things out. We took some pictures as we went along.

Camping in Chilkat State Park Haines Alaska

Above is a picture of camp. You can barely tell that things are damp but don't worry you can take my word for it.

We decided to ride into town to get some firewood and food. On our way we happened upon some beautiful glaciers popping out of the mountains to the west of us. Gregg got the amazing shot from the top of the post.

Glaciers Chilkat State Park Haines Alaska

I also managed to get some pictures with my phone:

Glaciers Chilkat State Park Haines Alaska

Glaciers Chilkat State Park Haines Alaska

Also, earlier down the road Gregg succeeded in to get a good shot of the Chilkat inlet. As you may see in the picture the inlet is also adjacent to the mountains with the glaciers.

Chilkat Inlet Haines Alaska

After our picture stop we pulled rode down towards town. We saw a gas station right off of Mud Bay so we decided to fill up the bikes. The gas was expensive ($5+ a gallon!) but I’ll be darned they had 92 octane. Can't get that in the lower 48 can we..

Super Unleaded 92 Octane Gas Haines Alaska

We took a quick tour of town and even cycled down to the ferry dock.

Tip: The ferry dock is a couple miles from downtown Haines. It's not a very easy walk.

We got some food and firewood at Howser's IGA (the only grocery store in town) and some beer across the street. Gregg was real excited when we came across Langunita's Special Shut-Down Ale. Anything that is special or limited in the bay area seems to be the most sought after (and often the most unavailable). So cheers to nice surprises!

Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-down Ale in Haines Alaska

We headed back admiring the views as we lingered along the the twists and turns of Mud Bay Road. It was nice that the weather was cooperating. (At least for now..)

Drying Feet in the Fire While Camping In Chilkat State Park

We built a fire and cooked our food. I attempted to get the fire going but it appeared to be a formidable foe. It seemed as if the moist ground was the main culprit. Luckily, after some iterations of chopping tinder and kindling, we finally got the fire going.

Nothing like a camp fire, a beer and some warm food to end the day!

jwolff screwed with this post 12-29-2013 at 06:39 PM
jwolff is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Times are GMT -7.   It's 10:55 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2015