Call of the wild 2011

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by sasho, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    Dicky's phone woke us up awfully early. Somebody from back home was calling him, not having a clue that he was several time zones behind. Since we woke up anyway, we started getting ready for the day. The plan for us with Cyle was to get to Dawson City. Dicky had to get to Anchorage to meet with friends.

    My bike needed an oil change, and I started looking for a place where I could get that done. The guys at Auto Parts in Whitehorse supplied me with everything, even with tools and an oil pan:

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    I thanked them sincerely. Turns out the guy who helped me is also a rider, he had a street bike. We said our good byes with the guys at Auto Parts and went sight seeing in Whitehorse. I saw the mighty Yukon river up close for the first time:

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    You may notice that the river is half-frozen--we were seeing people walking around town in flip-flops :eek1

    There was the Klondike on dry dock, having carried so many people and their dreams to Dawson:

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    We also visited the information center, where we inquired about whether the Alaska border was opened. Turns out, the border was still closed, but we learned that it is expected to open in 3 or 4 days, weather permitting. We scratched heads, wondering whethere we should continue towards Dawson. After all that was one of my main wishes for this trip right? Even if we have to wait at the closed border...

    Some photos from the Visitor's Center:

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    We signed the guest book :)

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    We returned to the hotel to clear out of the room. This scared me--is it really all going to fit on our bikes?!?

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    #61
  2. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    Around noon we finally headed for Dawson... The ride seemed monotonic, and I was falling asleep. At one time I woke up to find myself headed for the side of the road... I started to ride along side Cyle, just so I could remain awake:

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    During one moment I saw a bear on the other side of the road. We did the "gotta have a picture of that bear" turn around maneuver:

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    This was our first grizzly sighting during the trip. The bear got up on rear legs, but I missed the shot. The bear sized us up, decided that we are not interesting and headed for the bushes. We got our picture, but if he headed towards us we would be in trouble...

    We reached the Five finger Rapids, a group of small islands on the Yukon river. A lot of boats in the past had problems trying to cross these rapids:

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    We noticed that we had company along the Klondike Highway--a couple in a car passed us occasionally and we passed them as well. We greeted them at some point when we were all stopped.

    You can tell that we are getting close to Dawson:

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    Finally, we got to Dawson!!!

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    Already in town, we looked around while thinking to find a place to eat:

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    This is probably the most famous hotel in Dawson, home of the "Sourtoe Cocktail":

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    We stopped at Sourdoe Joe's to try the famous Fish 'n Chips, these were halibut:

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    I got scolded by the waitress that I am playing with the phone... I wanted to check email, but I only succeeded in showing my bad manners.

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    We found the Bonanza Gold campground and decided to stay there. We even met our restaurant waitress--turns out that she is our neighbor, and lives in a little camper here during the summer while she works in Dawson.

    The wind was simply brutal. This photo was taken sometime around midnight. We had the work together as a team and tie the tents to palettes:

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    This is how our 6th day ended--bikes, grizzly, fish n' chips, Yukon Gold... Some stats for the day:

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    #62
  3. dogger54

    dogger54 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Florence, Montana
    I was once, I declare, a Stone-Age man,
    And I roomed in the cool of a cave;
    I have known, I will swear, in a new life-span
    The fret and the sweat of a slave:
    For far over all that folks hold worth,
    There lives and there leaps in me
    A love of the lowly things of earth,
    And a passion to be free.

    To pitch my tent with no prosy plan,
    To range and to change at will;
    To mock at the mastership of man,
    To seek Adventure’s thrill.
    Carefree to be, as a bird that sings;
    To go my own sweet way;
    To reck not at all what may befall,
    But to live and to love each day.

    from A Rolling Stone by Robert Service

    My poor fuel economy was frustrating me, I was getting a cramp in my wrist from nursing the throttle and I longed to be able to twist the throttle once in a while. I was bothered that Sasho’s bike wasn’t loaded much different than mine and he was still getting better then 50mpg. At one point I had spent about 30 miles tucked into the dirty air behind a semi doing about 70mph, when we filled up I got 33mpg, something wasn’t right.:baldy

    When we were getting ready to load our gear in Whitehorse I took advantage of not having the boxes on the bike which gave me access to the air filter...I removed a filter skin I had installed before leaving home in anticipation of the dust on the Dalton. I nursed the throttle as usual until the next fill up and discovered I was back up to 50mpg:clap…from then on there was no more nursing the throttle and I averaged in the mid 40s to 50s much of the time.

    The temperature was in the low 40s with a raw wind when we woke on day six…people are hardy in northern Canada…I was decked out in all of my gear and freezing while they were walking around dressed like it was mid summer.
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    Sasho met some great people at the auto parts store and took care of some bike maintenance.
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    The Harley shop was just across the lot from the auto parts store
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    Sasho and I did a bit of sight seeing, some information about the Yukon and the river boats
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    While we were checking out the Klondike sternwheeler I noticed this beaver making his way down the Yukon River.
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    We headed out around noon and caught the Klondike highway to Dawson City just west of Whitehorse. The highway had a very aggressive chip seal and I had the impression that my tires were being chewed to bits.

    Both Sasho and I got very road weary at times and had trouble staying alert, :snorewe would stop and rest but sometimes we pushed harder than we should have and had some close calls…I know I scared Sasho a few times while he was following me.

    Some Yukon scenery seen from the Klondike highway.
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    Dawson City was a welcome sight. As we pulled into the outskirts of town we passed a couple of helicopter tour businesses…my hear sank thinking the place was going to be overrun with tourists but it turns out we were on the leading edge of the tourist season so the place was still pretty low key.
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    Here’s a shot of Sourdough Joe’s where we had supper. Seems many of the people working in businesses around Dawson City are seasonal, the campground hostess and her husband were retired and had been doing this summer gig for a few years.
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    Outside the Sourdough Saloon
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    Our home for the next couple days was the Bonanza Gold camp ground, a Good Sam’s campground with showers and toilets for $13/night. I think they smoothed out a tailings pile to set the camp ground on, a good sweeping was in order to get rid of the stones before pitching the tent and a good sleeping pad was essential. This photo was taken at about 12:30am…when we started out the sun was up about 15 ½ hours, now it’s up for 19 hours…the sun was sure messing with my biological clock.
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    I don’t know what time we got to sleep, but it was well after midnight.
    #63
  4. Shadow5

    Shadow5 Adventurer

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    :lurk
    #64
  5. frijole

    frijole Clickin'

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    Great RR :clap. Brings back some good memories.
    #65
  6. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    During one of the Day 6 breaks for which we pulled by the side of the road, dogger54 says:
    "I gotta buy headphones or something--I can't talk to myself anymore, I ran out of things to say..." :rofl

    That had me laughing in my helmet for days during the whole trip. :lol3
    #66
  7. D-Pow

    D-Pow Adventurer

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    I am loving this road report! :clap
    #67
  8. dogger54

    dogger54 Adventurer

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    That reminds me - by day three I had Willie Nelson’s "On the Road Again" stuck in my head and on continuous loop…thing was, I could only remember the words "On the road again" and could only hum the first two verses…I did this over and over for the next 6,000 miles.:rofl


    I guess the tune became my mantra…come to think of it, there was something kind of spiritual about the open road and the vast spaces.:hmmmmm
    #68
  9. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    Dawson City

    The plan for today was to sight see around Dawson. But, as Cyle already mentioned, nothing happens before my coffee in the morning!! If you can imagine the brutal wind coupled with my need to have coffee--the only way to fulfill my morning addiction was to make it in the tent on my little alcohol stove:

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    I am embarrassed to admit it, but it happened. If something other than the already burning stove went on fire in the tent, my tent would have gone up in flames in a second...

    After I satisfied the morning addiction, we headed to the Midnight Dome--a place overlooking Dawson and the Yukon from the top of the mountain (http://www.yukoneh.com/dawsoncity/parks/dome.htm). The place was suggested by our waitress fro the previous night, neighbor, and now a tour guide. Why can't I remember her name? Embarrassing... :uhoh

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    I also tested the macro on my camera:

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    The story of the Midnight Dome:

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    Coming back from the top, I barely avoided going down the steep grade, and the sharp turns didn't help either... We both installed Heidenau K60's before we left, because they had a reputation of a long lasting tire. Hmmm, not so--2000 miles later both our rears were almost smooth, and thread was non-existent. I know there are quite a few people who swear by them here and what I say might upset strong beliefs, but I wouldn't pick this tire again.

    Again in Dawson, we looked around the town:

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    We then visited the Gold Show that was going in Dawson at the time, mainly fair for gold mining equipment. We ran into the couple that accompanied us on the Klondike Highway. The lady said that we were absolutely out of our minds to ride bikes to Dawson, she was even scared in the car... :huh
    Cyle and I looked at each other thinking that it was a normal asphalt road, if a bit uneven with a rare frost heave.

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    Afterwards we stopped by the river to learn about the Keno, the other famous steamer on the Yukon:

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    #69
  10. aDave

    aDave Lovin' Life!

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    the Ozark suburbs
    Got in on your intro with the wonderful mosaics...now 5 pages in and your report is great.:clap

    Really enjoying the pics and the dual narrative.

    Keep going...:ear

    Dave
    #70
  11. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    We also looked around the Visitor's Center in Dawson:

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    Here I read for the first time about Robert Service--an English writer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_W._Service). The map of Dawson that we got from the Visitor's Center had a list of things to see around and in the vicinity of the town. One of them was the cemetery up the mountain. We decided to head there. We parked the bikes, and started walking up the hill, heavy bike gear and all... We had some difficulties finding the place. Short story long, by the time we got there, I was ready to lay down in a grave myself!! :yikes And did I mention the heat?!?! :knary

    Cyle meanwhile is zipping up the hill. He is one tough dude--he runs ultra marathons :super:thumb. I'll let him add the photos from that part of the day.

    After the cemetery, we headed back to town to visit Robert Service's cabin:

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    As you can see, this historic site was being repaired :D
    We met David, who was doing the restoration having only black and white photos as a reference point, nothing else!! He categorically refused to have his photo taken, but I am happy to have visited this place just to meet him. If you can picture a big guy over 6' tall, dark hair and eyes, mostly First Nations heritage--that was David.

    We continued to look around:

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    This is the favorite chair of the writer which David restored. I love the little personal touch that he added:

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    Cyle should have held a smoke pipe too :bubba:

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    #71
  12. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    We said good bye to David, and headed to Jack London's cabin, finally :clap!! Although he lived somewhere outside of town in the mountains, the cabin he rented has been discovered. It has been split in 2, one half moved to San Francisco, and the second half remaining in Canada. At present exist 2 replicas of this cabin, one of them in Dawson.

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    Refrigeration Yukon style:

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    I was humbled by the conditions in which he created his writings, moreover in -50 degrees outside temperatures:

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    "Downtown" Dawson, where the "hoards of people" were pretty much Cyle and I:

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    We were ready to get something to eat.

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    We stopped at the Downtown hotel and sat at the bar. After this much walking we felt lazy in the hot afternoon, and the cool place and drinks were a great relief. We started talking to the bartender, Simon, who was a heck of a nice guy:

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    The food was also good--nothing more than the regular bar fair, but we were hungry. I had beer too. :freaky

    Things around the place slowed down to a stop--the definition of lazy.

    Not for long...
    #72
  13. dogger54

    dogger54 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Florence, Montana
    First thing, check the wear on the Heidenau K60 Scout rear tire - looks like the center has about 50% tread remaining after 2200 miles.
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    After Sasho had his coffee, it was off to the top of Midnight Dome to get a bird’s eye view of Dawson and the surrounding area.

    Looking up Bonanza creek where gold was first discovered…the dredges have been hard at work. Bring your gold pan…there are claims up Bonanza where you can pan for free.
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    Sasho checking out the Yukon River on it’s journey north…did we bring floats for the KLRs?
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    Some shots of downtown Dawson...Diamond Tooth Gerties gambling hall
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    A shipment of starter plants had arrived and were set up outside the gold exhibition…it doesn’t look like it here but it was like sharks during a feeding frenzy.
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    Trying to catch the lean of the buildings and the boardwalks, nothing was plumb or square.
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    We stopped for lunch at Cheechakos
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    I had a nice pulled pork sandwich
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    Some more shots around town
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    Sasho keeping the trailer from rolling away.
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    The post office
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    The famous slide
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    I was wondering if the slide was recent but it wasn’t until I read Robert Service’s The Trail of Ninety-Eight that I knew…here’s the last verse of the poem where after the arduous trip from Skagway the men of the gold rush reach Dawson,

    There were the tents of Dawson, there the scar of the slide;
    Swiftly we poled o’er the shallows, swiftly leapt o’er the side.
    Fires fringed the mouth of Bonanza; sunset gilded the dome;
    The test of the trail was over – thank God, thank God, we were
    Home!

    Here’s a house we passed on the way to the cemeteries…I’m guessing the ladder is to make it easy to clean the chimney…looks like the ladder has seen better days. What’s up with the moose antlers displayed on so many houses?
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    Here’s a cabin on the way to the cemeteries…it’s decked out with a bunch of moose antlers…most of the cemeteries are located on the top of a hill…quite a walk on a hot day.
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    I think this is the Catholic cemetery, the oldest graves are all the way in the back…people were buried next to each other in rows in the order that they died…the first to die was a fellow who passed in 1898 from something like cholera or dysentery. A grass fire burned many of the old markers so the information was sketchy. There were some great epitaphs and I took a few pictures but then I began to feel odd about doing so and ended up deleting them.
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    It was interesting that there were so many cemeteries dedicated to different religions and organizations.
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    Here’s another cemetery in town just up the street from Richard Service’s cabin.
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    Sasho has already shown a few shots of Robert Service’s cabin, here are some of the pictures David used to help him restore it
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    Now if Sasho only had a big cigar and a beer in that cup holder he’d be set.
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    Some of the renovation work on the cabin.
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    Jack London’s cabin
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    Next stop - the Sourdough Saloon at the Downtown Hotel for some much needed beer and eats…Simon fixed me up with a great chicken quesadilla with cream of broccoli soup and some fantastic beer.
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    I’ll let Sasho take it from here.
    #73
  14. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    The next moment a guy and his girlfriend walk in. It seems that the bar was mostly empty, however they sat near us. The guy shouted at Simon: "Hey where is my free beer? It's my Birthday!!!" Cyle and I doing the polite thing, raised our glasses and wished him "Happy Birthday". Of course, we start talking. The Birthday boy asked us what we're doing in Dawson, and we told the story of our trip. Turns out he's from California originally, and moved to Dawson when he was 19. I asked him what made him move up here, upon which he looked at me and said: "Jack London, man!!!" My eyes just about popped out and in one that instant we became friends. Please meet Rick and his girlfriend, Veronica:

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    Rick invited us to his Birthday party at his cabin. Directions where something like: "Go on this road about this many kilometers... After that turn left, you should see a gray Toyota. After that you go up the mountain for this many more kilometers. If you get to a mine, you've gone too far, so go back."

    We returned to the campground, where I slept off the afternoon alcohol. After that we returned to Dawson to buy beer for the party. On the way out of town police had blocked off the road and was checking drivers for alcohol. I got stopped, but after a few questions I was let go. I barely avoided trouble this time--even the lady running the campground told us to absolutely avoid alcohol when on the bikes. The fines are stiff, court appearances follow, bike will be confiscated and so on... Serious business.

    We headed to Rick's place and of course we promptly got lost. We went through a mine. Cyle had his ammo boxes on and that caused all sorts of trouble when we got ourselves in the gravel. I'll let him fill you in on the details from the gravel pit. We found the road, however, and got to Rick's cabin after zig-sagging up the mountain:

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    We abandoned the bikes on the bottom of the hill. Once we killed the engines we heard cheers from the top of the hill. The last stretch up the steep hill was on foot. If you notice in the photo, there's a cable for a wagon to pull up that hill. I don't think any other transportation can make it up that hill, especially during winter.

    Once on top, we met our new friends, from left to right: Sarah from Ottawa, Lulu from Ontario, and of course Veronica and Rick:

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    Also Willy and Nora, brother and sister Eskimos who on this day see each other for the first time in 13 years:

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    Willy is a fiddler, and Nora lives on an island somewhere in the Arctic where is almost always frozen. When the ice melts, they wait for the current to carry driftwood so they can make fire.

    This is pretty much the whole gang:

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    Rick talked about his way of life: he is an equipment operator in the gold mines if I remember right. Paid $60 for 10 year lease on this parcel. He built his cabin on it, and after 10 years will renew his claim to continue to live here. Completely off the grid, he depends entirely on himself and his friends.

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    Rick is building a Swedish sauna:

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    We didn't have to wait for the ice to thaw in order to have a fire, and Lulu started making dinner--moose steaks :evil :1drink:dg

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    #74
  15. sasho

    sasho Dual Personality

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    The dogs were incredible guards. The smallest noise from the surroundings had them check things out. They knew when there was wildlife nearby and immediately warned us. Always look out for bears.

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    Can I have some moose too? :D

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    The parking sign was hilarious: :rofl

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    Sarah works at the bar in the Midnight Sun. She invited us the next day for beer.

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    The dogs got stuffed toys. The interesting thing was that to them these toys were like something they caught. They chewed out the eyes right away.

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    Rick opens his Birthday presents:

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    We're all sitting around the fire: :kumbaya

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    Tannis, the long haired Rubens-type beauty next to dogger54 was dead-set on going home with him :) I'll let him fill in the details if he wants to, but by the end of the party she just about had 2 hands around his waist , and wanted him to "take her home." You should have seen the disappointment on her face when he said that he is on a motorcycle...

    For dessert we ate homemade éclairs, which Rick made. He even authored a short film in silent movie style, where he shows how to make them. The film is awarded several short film competition prizes, and it's absolutely hilarious and excellently made.

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    All good things come to an end... At the end of the evening we admired the sunset. This was close to 1am:

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    On our way down we saw this horse statue. Turns out that Veronica is an artist:

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    Cyle shouted up the hill: "Hey Rick!!"
    From up above: "Yeah!!"
    Cyle: "What's with the horse?"
    Female voice: "Be careful!!!"
    Veronica: "I made it..."

    Oops, we almost got in trouble... :doh

    So we start the bikes to leave. More precisely, I start the bike to leave. Cyle has forgotten his lights on, and the battery is dead. As luck would have it, we go downhill and he bump starts it easily. I noticed something out of the ordinary, but didn't know about this until he clued me in later at the campground.

    After I was in my tent, I couldn't go to sleep for a long time, thinking about what happened during the day.
    #75
  16. dogger54

    dogger54 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Florence, Montana
    Sasho has covered the rest of day 7 pretty well…it turned out to be a long but fun day.

    Not much to say about the gravel pit Sasho refers to…while looking for Rick’s road we took a wrong turn into an area of sun dried rutted mud, a rut took the front wheel out from under me…no bike damage but some sore ribs for a few days...this was the fourth time down for the bike.:rofl

    Rick’s cabin is located near the top of the hill in the foreground…if you look carefully you can just make out part of the road to his place near the top on the far side of the hill.
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    Rick constructed his cabin from fire killed spruce trees at least 10 years dead. He used a chain saw mill to cut the trees into the square logs used to build the cabin. Here’s the jig Rick used to cut the dovetails with his chain saw.
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    If you look back at Sasho’s pictures of the inside of the cabin, Rick decorated the cabin with tree burls that he left on the logs when he milled them, he also left some branches to be used as hooks for hanging things, Rick and Veronica’s creativity was amazing.

    Much of what was used to construct and furnish the cabin and sauna was salvaged. I think bottles were used to create the colored glass around the sauna window.

    Rick and Veronica had a number of edible plants and I think even citrus trees growing in the cabin. The romaine lettuce for our salads was grown in the cabin.

    As Sasho mentioned, Willie is a fiddle player…we were told he has played around the world and even the Grand Ole Opry. Willie grew up in Inuvik while his sister grew up in Sach’s Harbor on Banks Island some 320 miles northeast of Inuvik…they were both delightfully down-to-earth people…I love this picture.
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    Here’s another shot of some of the group celebrating Rick’s birthday, that’s my gal Tannis on the right…what a sweetheart. Sasho thinks she was smitten with me but I think she was just a typical friendly Canadian needing transportation off the hill.
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    That about does it for day 7, it’s hard to believe we’d only been on the road for a week, there was so much packed into each day that it seemed much longer than that.

    Sasho’s in Russia for a couple weeks so I can’t promise many new posts for a bit.
    #76
  17. PacificPT

    PacificPT Long timer

    Joined:
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    This RR continues to get better and better; thanks for taking the time to share it with us.
    #77
  18. dogger54

    dogger54 Adventurer

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    Nov 7, 2009
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    Florence, Montana
    PacificPT - Thanks for coming along and for the feedback, Sasho and I are enjoying writing the RR, it's giving us a chance to re-live the ride.

    Cyle
    #78
  19. RockyDS

    RockyDS Lost in the wilderness

    Joined:
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    I agree. Especially the great photo's too. Maybe I'll follow in your tire tracks one day.
    #79
  20. dogger54

    dogger54 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Florence, Montana
    RockyDS - It's good to hear from you. I hope that some day you get the opportunity to take the trip - you won’t regret it!

    Cyle
    #80