D2D, Dust 2 Dawson '08, Solstice In The Yukon

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by AKDuc, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Yeppers, that time of year again! Solstice in the North country. :choppa

    This was my second D2D and I was looking forward to it with great anticipation.

    How 'bout we start off with a photo of this year's tee? Awesome totemic design by ADV'r ArcticFlyer. Notice the "DIID" at the top and the opposed Beemer cylinders on the sides. :brow I hope you can read the words around the outer perimeter as they most aptly describe the "flavor" of this far north gathering (it AIN'T no rally!). They were penned by the most lyric of advr's, the great 'legion'. :thumb

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    Parting shot outside the house Wed morning. Like me, I think a few more D2D'ers were leaving a day earlier to spend the night in Tok before heading into Dawson. No, Comet didn't go. I think he probably enjoyed hangin with the folks more than hangin on for dear life for more than a thousand miles. :wink: And yeah, I do tend to travel kinda light. :D

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    Met up with ADV'r Beezer, aka Tom, before heading up to Wasilla to hook up with ADV'r Wheeldog, aka Roger. Tom is a big player in all our tech days up here. He's also an Airframe & Power plant instructor and that's his homebuilt airboat in the background. Yeah, he tends to travel a bit "heavier" with tools to lend anyone a hand. :thumbup

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    So after picking up Roger we head north on the Glenn Hwy.
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    Right into the construction about 100mi north of Anchorage. For those of you traveling the Glenn, be forewarned, it's closed between midnight and 6am Mon-Fri. And remeber, motorcyclists are encouraged to go to the front of the line.

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    It's good to be at the front. :evil You may notice Wheeldog, like Beezer, likes to travel a bit "heavy."
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    More and more straightening going on. What's left of some of my favorite 'ol sportbike twisties paralleling the Matanuska River.

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    Lion's Head on the left and Matanuska Glacier in the distance on the right.
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    A bit farther north lies Sheep Mtn. I've always loved the colors in these rocks.
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    "Rest Area." :lol3 I like to remind visitors to the North that there are many dirt roads leading to areas like this or gravel pits that make nice secluded places to camp. This is just north of Gakona on the Tok cut-off of the Glenn Hwy. That's the Copper River on the other side of us.

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    We caught up with a group of Goldwing riders who were headed to a big rally in Whitehorse.
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    Some of them were towing a trailer and really slowed down for the gravel patches in the road. Being the silly dual-sport riders we are we couldn't have any of that and passed them in pretty short order. :evil

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    Then, low and behold, WE were caught by a couple of my REI Co-op workmates, ADV'r BlueRider, aka Dan, on his wee-Strom and my new next door neighbor John on his 1150GS. After this weekend I'm pretty sure John will probably be joining Advrider. :wink:

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    I hadn't made any definite plans on where I was going to stay in either Tok OR Dawson. I thought I'd probably go ahead and just camp so as to be able to do even MORE socializing. :lol2

    Many of us ended up in the relatively new Thompson's Eagle's Claw "motorcycle only" campground a mile south of Tok. GREAT place!
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    Last year only a few people stayed at the Eagle's Claw. THIS year the place ended up being totally packed with tents overflowing into the soft moss surrounding prepared the gravel pads. The place is owned by an older Harley couple who were so excited to have so many riders staying there that they let all us late comers stay for free! Not that it was that much anyway at only $10 a night per site which can normally be shared by two. Many of us donated $ anyway. Riders kept trickling in till the wee (but still light) hours of the morning. I think the last of the crowd around the campfire finally hit the hay shortly after 3am or so.

    There isn't any running water but plenty of supplied good tasting potable well-water. The owners have their own mill and are building bunkhouses, sheds, tipi's, and the like, which makes for PLENTY of free firewood! There's also a free group sauna/steam they built. I imagine the gathering here of D2D riders will become part of the annual highly anticipated good times! :brow Great place, great people: http://www.thompsonseaglesclaw.com/

    I'm glad I woke up at around 6am to answer "nature's call" so I could get this shot of all the bikes lining the driveway. Awesome.

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    More soon, Mark H. :D
    #1
  2. Dr. Horrible

    Dr. Horrible easy to make

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    Looks like a helluva good time, Mark.

    Keep the pics coming.

    :lurk
    #2
  3. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Alrighty then, after a wonderful night in the Eagle's Claw Campground I was looking forward to more good food at Fast Eddy's! :yum

    Joining me for a late breakfast were ADV'rs Pastieman (Brian), Whitney, and Jim Spies all from Anchorage. Jim and Whitney are on their way down to NY and points farther south after Dawson before heading back up.

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    Since it's only about 170mi between Tok and Dawson, albeit a lot of it dirt, we could afford a very leisurely breakfast. :evil

    Between Tok and Dawson lies the little community of Chicken, AK. Supposedly named Chicken because back in the day someone thought it too much trouble to spell Ptarmigan, our State bird. :scratch No photos of this stretch because it was intermittent showers complete with a little hail mixed in up in the higher elevations. Got a few nice photos of the area on the return trip tho so read on. :wink:

    Waiting for some of the better known LONGTIME Alaskan D2D'ers was none other than Dick Van Nostrand, the owner of the Dawson Downtown Hotel. He had come over the Border the night before just to tend bar for a fun filled night in Chicken. :freaky He's holding up one of those finger mounted squeegies for added visibility when riding thru the dampness surrounding us. FYI Chicken is the last U.S. gas stop and this "slightly less fanciful" establishment charges 40 cents less per gallon than the much newer place down the hill. Tho truth be told tho, the lower one does have some very nice amenities and such, IF one desires or is in need of such pleasantries.

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    Now what's that warning sign about? "BEWARE OF ATTACK CHICKEN?!?" :lol3
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    Heading out of Chicken begins the more serious dirt. It was on this stretch that I caught up with my good bud and ADV'r Jim and his 10yo son Mason. It was Mason's first trip ever to Dawson. Jim on the other hand did D2D last year and has been on many of the snowmachine rides/tours between Tok and Dawson in the winter.

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    Jim is the ADV'r with whom I got reacquainted with last year after 20+yrs when he joined Advrider and pm'd me saying he was buying a GS Adventurer. :thumb Here's the ride report on our reacquainting and first ride together last year: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=222366

    I've heard of some pillions having trouble staying awake on longer trips like this one but Jim told me how MUCH Mason really was enjoying the trip and kept up quite the commentary thru their in-helmet communications.

    Jim also made mention numerous times about how glad he was that he'd put a pair of TKC 80's on for this trip. Yep, pretty much the tire of choice up here for those traveling many dirt roads especially if it gets muddy. I'm sure the added traction really helped make for a much more relaxed trip for Jim, especially hauling such valuable cargo. :D

    Here they are in the even smaller Boundary just a few miles before the Border.
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    Notice how isolated the showers were in the background.
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    Three amigos on the Top Of The World Highway.
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    This year's Top of the World pose. :shog
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    Down to the Border we go. Hope we get through. :lol3
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    Next: Dawson. :choppa Mark H.
    #3
  4. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    :thumb

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  5. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    YAY, just look at that blue sky! The weather improved greatly as we came down out of the mountains. You can just see Dawson down below along side the mighty Yukon River.

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    Since I'd hooked up with Jim and enjoy his company so much, I took him up on an offer to share their room in the Downtown Hotel again this year. So there we were, back on Main Street again. Mingling with the masses. :brow

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    See the gal in the red seeming to be demonstrating her prowess at one legged balance? :lol2 That's Voni, up from Texas. She's the holder of MANY BMW mileage awards over the years. I was very glad to meet Voni because we're both over on http://www.yearroundriders.com/ as well. The June issue of 'Rider' magazine even has a wonderful article written by one of the founders of the 'rounders site. And much to my glee, the article contains 4 photos of me riding my KLR with studded tires around our lovely winter wonderland in the "Great White North!" :wink: So if you'd like to see even MORE photos of my little KLR, but this time surrounded by pristine but kinda cold white stuff, take a look at this thread: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6897373#post6897373

    Had to get a photo of me and Voni! :D She probably hugged more people than anyone else there that weekend! :feelgood Voni and her husband Paul had already been touring AK and were now making their way back south.

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    I really shoulda carried a notebook around with me and taken a photo of every ADV'r I met on this trip! There were many! Over 150 riders this year. Pretty cool. Of course I think it's nice to meet people but I got really excited whenever I met someone with and ADV "handle" I recognized and maybe even posted in one of their threads! :brow

    Of course getting together at eating establishments is also a fun activity at these functions and there are a lot of good places to "grub up" around Dawson. One of our favorites is Klondike Kate's. It was at Kate's last year that Jim and I had the first of many pieces of their Bumble Berry Pie. Both of us exclaiming "best pie we'd ever had." :yum Dang it, now I'm hungry again just talking about it!

    Here we are sitting around sharing that delectable delight with ADV'rs curty aka Curtis, from Atlanta, GA on the right in the foreground next to Mason and Jim with fellow ADV'r and Anchorage'ite Reverend Don Deitz behind me.

    I met Curtis when started a thread in the Alaska forum titled 'May Need A Place To Stay'. Eric, also of Atlanta, one of Curtis' 5 other travel mates had crashed on the way into AK. :eek1 Luckily Eric was unhurt but they had to wait a few days for parts to arrive. I enjoyed putting them up and showing them around the Anchorage area for a few days. Curtis used to work for REI and Eric still does. I mention this because including the 3 of us from the Anchorage store, it makes for a total of at least 5 REI employees attending this motorcycle function. :thumb Not bad for such a supposed "green" bunch, eh? :evil

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    Coming up: Bike Games in downtown Dawson. :evil Fun, fun, fun, Mark H.
    #5
  6. legion

    legion Spider Bark

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    I love your reports, Mark ! Keep 'em coming... PLEASE !

    Oh, man. Thank you, Sir :thumb

    After a comment like that I'm going to have to buy a new hat. :lol3
    #6
  7. CruisingRam

    CruisingRam Frankenbike builder

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    Nice report Mark- thanks for the call today- I will post my report later in the week, once I shrink down the 300 pics! :D
    #7
  8. curty

    curty Sum'a bitch

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    Yes good stuff, it's fun to read about something, that I also did. And now that I know most of these people it's great.
    Keep it commin, stay up later than your normal time. Let Comet type for a while.
    Thanks again.:clap


    we are in Dawson Creek tonight headed for Jasper BC.
    #8
  9. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Thank you, all. I'm glad to be able to share it with you. :D

    Another fun filled D2D activity is the Poker Run that takes you up and around many of the active mining claims in the area as well as up to the top of some surrounding mountains for some amazing vistas. I did the Poker Run last year and had a great time but this year I really wanted to spend more time taking in the rich history found around town.

    Seems others had a similar idea in that there were many riders just wandering around town taking in the sights. Nearly a dozen of us met up by chance up at the old cabin of Robert Service just in time to hear an informative but yet very entertaining Park Service employee do his 30min presentation on the literary great. And remember, compared to today's population of about 1,800, back in 1898 there were upwards of 40,000 people in Dawson during the gold rush! I would imagine that would make for a lot of material for people like Robert Service to put to pen. :wink:

    Here's the sod roof cabin of Robert Service.
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    About a block farther down the street was the cabin of Jack London with a slightly more modern Park Service building just beyond. Hey, look who's on the boardwalk. It's Barb, Mason, and Jim B.
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    Want a slightly more modern log cabin? How about this one located between the cabins of Service and London? :wink:
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    Being on the banks of the Yukon, travel by the area's waterways played an important part thru history. Sternwheelers like this one were common back in the day.
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    And here's a paddlewheeler that takes people out on daily tours.
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    Had enough history? Okay then it's on to the Games! :super

    Well to start off with, I think I was anticipating the bike games a bit TOO much this year as I was fraught with excitement and was very shaky and bombed out of almost every event straight away! :huh :lol2 I meant to practice the less than common maneuvers after last year's competition. :ricky But even bombing out didn't keep me, and everybody else for that matter, from having an absolutely GREAT time! :oscar

    So just what are these "games" of which I speak? How about a slow bike race, a cone slalom, ball drop, and BLINDFOLD riding for solo riders! :evil And for 2up we have the balloon toss and weenie bite contests. :wink: :lol3

    And here's some photographic evidence of just some of the silly riding done up in the land of the "midnight sun." :brow Of course my photos of the solo competition is a bit limited as I was a very trying and active participant. :lol2

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    ADV'r LostAussie took this one of me in the Blindfold Competition. :huh Silly fun! :lol2
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    I got a few more of the 2up competition. :evil

    Here in the foreground are ADV'r Ace aka Jim H. and his pillion Alida (from Eagle!) and Jim B. and his son Mason beside them.
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    Let's start with the balloon toss. As you might imagine, if the balloons aren't caught, there's a pretty good chance of bike and riders getting a bit wet which can of course be very entertaining.

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    Hey, who's this?!? Why it's the great ADV'r Katoomer, aka Larry, and a lovely pillion who rode her own motorcycle up from California. Nice form! :wink: And would ya take a look at that photog getting himself right there into the action! That's ADV'r warp7, aka Will Rindom, who probably has about a million photos to go thru before his presentation.
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    Now what's this about a "weenie bite?" :huh Well, here's how it's done by the award winning husband and wife team consisting of the renowned Hackymoto, aka Chad, and the beloved MotoMamma, aka Jeanne. :thumb They're at the end of a 9,000mi trip around the States and on their way home in Anchorage, AK.

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    The games are a lot of fun and I look forward to next year's. MAYBE I'll even give the 2up a try. :D

    Coming up: An awesome Solstice sunset up on the Dome then the trip home.
    #9
  10. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

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    Great event, great ride, and great report!
    #10
  11. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    I strongly encourage anyone interest in seeing more about D2D and the surrounding area to check out some other ride reports and some of the threads and posts in the 'Alaska' Forum. I've already seen some WAY awesome photos that others got. :thumb

    Following the games this year's D2D stickers were passed out by ADV'r GlacierCraft aka Scott. They have the same awesome design as the t-shirts.

    By now it was a little after midnight and the sun was just beginning to set. This is what it looked like in town.
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    Many of us got the idea of running up to the top of the Dome behind town for what we were sure was going to be a very spectacular Solstice sunset.

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    It was still pretty light when we got up there. That's Dawson and the Yukon River down below.
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    As it grew darker we were treated to one of the most impressive sunsets I've ever see. Awesome! Know that these photos are totally unretouched in any way other than being resized.

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    Next: Homeward bound.
    #11
  12. junebugak

    junebugak I fall down...

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    Awesome pics Mark- I was kicking myself for leaving my camera down in town. Amazing sunset and great personalities to spend it with, so thanks for posting these and hope everyone made it home safe.
    Cheers :beer
    -Jaimie

    PS They'll be great to show friends in the Lower 48 why they call it the "land of the midnight sun".
    #12
  13. Spicy McHaggis

    Spicy McHaggis Darth Peach's cracker...

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    Those aren't Beemer heads on the logo...they are Ural heads...! :lol3
    #13
  14. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Cool! Hello and welcome ADV n00b junebugak! :wave Jamie rode pillion on her dad's GS to their second D2D.

    Thanks for the compliments, Jamie. We'll have to try to hook up so you can see the other shots I got too, if you'd like copies.

    That's junebugak and her ADV dad John standing in front of the orange 'Motorcycle Friendly' sign. This photo was taken when ADV'r Jammin aka Jay had just arrived into Dawson from Chicago!
    'Alaskan Indian meets East Indian'. :D
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    #14
  15. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    :thumb

    :lurk
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  16. funhouse

    funhouse Overdue

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    lots of effort, much appreciated.......bruce
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  17. kootenay kid

    kootenay kid Lets Ride

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    Looks like fun. I'll make it there one of these years.
    #17
  18. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Got up early the next morning to escort Jim and Mason back into Anchorage in one shot. Doing it all in one day that direction is a lot easier since all the dirt is first when you're still "fresh." :evil

    Just by chance it turned out to be nearly the same group as last year in that Barb and Vic showed up at the ferry at the same time! For those of you who didn't know, for years now Barb has been into wearing a florescent orange helmet for higher visibility. :wink: And that's ADV'r alaskaOE on the left who was heading all the way back to Girdwood just south of Anchorage.

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    The free ferry just drops this ramp on the dirt bank and you load or off-load. Beautiful morning!
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    We really lucked out in that there weren't nearly as many RV's on the road this year as last. Last year there was a HUGE line waiting to get thru the Border and this year we just pulled right up to the gate with nobody in front of us. Also remember last year we had some crazy RV'r drift over on each and every one of us as we passed him. :eek1 We all thought it was an isolated incident till we started comparing notes. :huh

    Man, I really had a LOT of fun runnin the dirt this year! It was great. I think I was even more comfortable in the loose stuff from runnin the studded tires on the snow thru the last couple winters. Fun! :ricky As soon as we hit the dirt I just took off having a good time. Eventually I let Jim pass me and stay out front just to stay closer to them and not dust him and his son. :wink: Wanted Mason to have a good of trip as possible it help insure his wanting to come back. He, like everyone else, had a great time! :choppa

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    Back up the Top of the World Hwy.
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    The road coming into Chicken is way up high on a very steep hillside.
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    Jim pulled over just to exclaim how pretty the view over the edge was JUST as I was thinking the very same thing!
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    Back thru the burn area before Tok.
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    My lovely little KLR and it's light little load.
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    I took a few more photos going this direction since we were lucky enough to have nice weather.
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    Yep, Jim and Mason were having a GREAT time!
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    The photo below shows the long straights coming into Tok. It was here that Jim pulled over at a weigh station just outside of town. Turns out they'll weigh you for free. They just hold up a card up to the window with your weight written on it. He was curious about his total weight being 2up and all.

    Take a guess at what it was..........


    A fully loaded GSA 2up....................


    Oh and he also was nearly on empty....


    Come on...................


    980lbs! :eek1 With a nearly EMPTY tank! :eek1

    So then I did it.

    Take a guess.

    600lbs. :wink: Oh and my tank was nearly full. :lol3

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    Okay, so after ANOTHER meal at Fast Eddy's in Tok we head south back towards civilization and the big city of "Los Anchorage." :lol2 Hey, who is that comin up behind me wearing a bright orange helmet?
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    One of the numerous intermittent gravel stretches along the highway. Jim's standing up stretching his legs and trying to stay awake. We were both kinda groggy after our delicious but kinda late brunch. Notice off in the distance the fresh snow on Mt Sanford from the weather days previous! Man, I'm glad we got to experience some warm weather in Dawson!

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    Heading up towards the Eureka area.
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    And then back back down into the construction. Eh, it's nice weather, feels good to stretch the legs, and time for one last visit before getting back to the "big city."
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    Another glorious adventure. Wonderful journey. Putting even more faces to names. New friends. Shared joy and good times. Fun. Many many thanks to all who attended and contributed towards making this year's D2D another resounding success.

    And of course, thanks also to my trusty little steed that got me there and back and is ever ready to head out in search of even more fun filled excitement. :D
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    Like others are saying, I too am already looking forward to next year's D2D.

    Take care. Have fun, Mark H.
    #18
  19. Mr. Fisherman

    Mr. Fisherman PROUD 2B Riff Raff!

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    Thanks a llot.... you are going to talk me into making this trip sometime.... rats :lol3 :1drink
    #19
  20. gunnr

    gunnr optimsm

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    Nice, I am putting a trip up there together. Looks like a great ride. Nice pics. Thanks:thumb
    #20