My 2009 AK ADV, Naco Mexico to Fairbanks and a bit beyond

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bisbonian, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    It all started sometime around August of 2008; I don't even know what brought the idea to ride to Alaska into my brain, one day it just sounded like a good idea. I made my way over to ADVrider and checked out a few Alaska ride reports and they all looked like everyone was having a good time so why couldn't I expect to have similar wonderful experiences? Karen and I headed up to Tucson and came up with a few maps, travel books and the current issue of the Milepost and we were pretty much set. I set my main route by seeing what looked like the most fun in some ride reports and it gradually came together. The plan was to keep it less than 500 miles a day, camp as much as possible and just have an epic trip.
    While planning the trip I realized that I would have to go somewhere fairly close to my buddy Chapa's house in Idaho. I emailed him to let him know what I was doing and that I'd appreciate being able to stop overnight at his house and get a good meal before heading to the Great White North. A couple of days later another guy at work, Houston, comes up and says, “so I hear we're riding to Alaska!”
    Excuse me? I didn't realize my one-man adventure was going to be open to guests!
    Gradually the plan came together, the day got closer, and Chapa decided he couldn't go. Cool except that Houston took that as a sign that his girlfriend DD should go in Chapa's place.
    Finally the day came! Well actually the day before I was to leave came. The plan was to take the trip through three countries, living literally less than 10 miles made this a natural. Originally on the first day of the trip I was going to shoot down to Naco, then head back north to wherever I was planning on spending the night. Karen suggested we head down to Naco the night before so that I could get that part of the trip out of the way without having the bike completely loaded down, in addition it would give her a chance to join me on the first leg of the journey.
    Day -1 of the great 2009 Alaska Adventure saw the two of us on the Strom heading down to Naco and get a couple of pictures.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> So here's the route map for the first leg of the journey. It's not much to look at and it was only 10 miles in distance, well we had to go back home as well so I guess it was really 20 miles...
    We messed around the border for about 20 minutes and took a few pictures to commemorate the beginning of the journey!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We made it home in plenty of time for me to get mostly packed up and ready for the next step in the morning.
    I got up the next morning and realized that I had way more stuff than I had space to put it in. I tried to be honest with myself regarding the amount of clothing I was going to need and finally put that dress shirt back in the closet. I figured that as I consumed the food that was in my luggage I'd get more space anyway so the tight quarters would only last a couple of days.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> After a bit of trial and error I finally got everything packed mostly where I wanted it. I even managed to squeeze on the camp chair so I'd have a comfy place to set my behind after a long day in the saddle. Notice the impressive size of the tank bag, it would come back to make itself known before the trip was over.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Yes, here I am finally ready to go. It's already getting hot out and I'm wondering what I was thinking with these heavy riding pants and jacket on. As I stand here Karen asks me how far I have to go today, of course I tell her that I'd specifically planned for the first day to be a relatively short 400 miles.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I then pull out my Day 1 route map and show her where I heading out to, Jacob Lake which just happens to be 520 miles away. I quickly realize that it's actually 9:00 and I have to ride 120 miles more than I'd thought and I'd better get on the road!


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    #1
  2. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
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    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    So I'm off and running, so to speak, but I feel I'm way behind where I need to be by this time and I'm not even out of town yet.



    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Of course no matter how late I'm running it's a sort of tradition to stop at the top of the Divide and get a picture, c'mon it only takes a minute.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The first half of the day is just bebopping along through places I've ridden and driven a hundred times. It's not really all that interesting to me but then many people haven't been out here and seen any of it yet, so I took a few pictures.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> It was hot coming through here, I tend to forget that as you get into Tucson and then further North to Phoenix you get warmer; what sort of screwy state is this? It's sort of topsy turvy!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Things were going well, I went through my mental checklist after a couple hundred miles on the road; not too tired, check! Bike running well, check! Butt not hurting (too) bad, check! How can it get any better than this?


    Stupid self shouldn't get too uppity on the first half of the first day of such a journey. As I came through Flagstaff I noticed the skies getting darker. As the road turned the storm went into and out of my route, would my luck hold out?



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> About 20 miles past Flagstaff it started to sprinkle and the wind began to pick up, oh and I was running out of gas. I needed to stop for gas but the wind was getting so strong that I was afraid I would fall over if I stopped. Finally I had no choice and stopped.


    As soon as I got back on the road I realized the storm was getting worse. The wind was coming straight at my left side and I had to lean into the wind, every time a car came by the other direction it would interrupt the wind flow and I would veer into oncoming traffic until I could regain control. The rain started coming down and I decided to pull over and put my rain cover on over my jacket. As I slowed and started to turn onto a side street I realized that the wind had blown my huge tankbag over against my right arm, when I tried to turn the bars they locked up against the bag. The next thing I know I'm rolling along the street and the bike is taking a nap. I pick myself up and take stock of my condition; other than my pride nothing seems to be hurt, now how am I going to pick this big beast up?
    I start unloading all the gear that had taken me half the morning to pack. Traffic continued by as if nothing was going on (move along, nothing to see here!) and I was still wondering how on earth I was going to pick the bike up. Just as I got the last bit of externally packed gear over into a pile a good Samaritan pulled a U-turn and stopped to help me pick up the bike. Thank you sir! Even if I have now forgotten your name you deeds will live on. Looking over the bike I found I was the victim mostly of scratches and scrapes. As my adrenaline tapered off I considered whether this journey was really the best idea I'd ever come up with; after all this was the first day while I was still fresh and I was on a fairly nice paved road!
    Of course I got the bike packed back up, put on my rain cover and headed back out. I rode in that same scary wind for another hour before the weather began to break. After the weather cleared up I got to ride for about 20 minutes with nice clear skies until it got cloudy again.



    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I could see the storms ahead of me but kept hoping that the road would take me away from them. Alas it was not to be and although the wind never picked up the rain was harder than ever.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I turned onto Hwy 89A the skies began to clear. This is just a beautiful part of the country! I only wish that the sky would've been a little clearer to make better pictures.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The sun finally began to come out and the road began to dry. Wonderful time for it to happen as I really hate setting up camp and cooking in the rain, although at this time I don't really know that yet.





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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I rolled into Jacob Lake USFS campground with plenty of daylight to spare and prepared to luxuriate in the new bath houses I'd been told had just been installed. Well evidently in this part of the world a pit toilet is considered a bath house. No shower tonight.



    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I set up camp and had some dinner (stovetop with some canned chicken breast). I learned that I really need to put a little extra water in with the stuffing as it was soaked up immediately and the stuffing had the consistency of hard little chunks of iron. At least it was warm. I walked over to the gas station because I felt I could really use a beer at this point only to find that they only sold gas, can you imagine?


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I came back to camp and set about assessing the damage to the motorcycle from my previous tumble; would I need to have Chapa order me up some parts?


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> At first glance the damage didn't look bad at all!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I looked a little further I found that the upper fairing had been scraped up pretty well...


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    My saddlebag got scraped up, but probably saved a good bit of damage to other parts of the bike.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> My highway peg took a good bit of the weight of the bike from the fall. This peg should stick out at a 90 degree angle from it's mounting point, I'd give it a good 45 degrees right now. Oddly enough I found that this new position was MUCH more comfortable for me. I began thinking about falling on the other side to bend that peg to a similar angle.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As the sun went down I realized that my solar flashlight didn't work so I went to bed. At least as the trip would wear on I knew that nighttime would be less of a factor.











    #2
  3. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
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    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    I awoke Thursday morning bright and early and decided to have a little breakfast; not much, just a cup of cocoa and an oatmeal bar. I slept really poorly last night and was cold for most of it. When I decided to get up it was 6:45 with temps in the mid 40's, but it was a beautiful morning. There's something about starting the day with a warm meal that gets you off on the right foot. I'd planned on getting everything packed up and on the road by 8:00, it didn't work out all that well for me but I managed to be gone by 9; I'll do better tomorrow.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Today I'm heading up to Willard Bay State Park, fairly close to the Great Salt Lake in Utah. This is a state I've never ridden in before so that's always exciting. In addition at the end of the night I'll get to put another state sticker on the bike as I'm entering my first real geographical change! This is more the mileage I was thinking about yesterday, 400 miles isn't too bad but I'll lose an hour.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The road wound through some higher wooded areas for the first bit of the morning. It was nice and twisty and the air had a bit of a bite to it.



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    Soon enough I got back down into the lower elevations and crossed a fairly wide plain. It was getting warmer rapidly and I made an excuse to stop in town and call Karen as soon as I got a cell signal.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> It's funny, you really don't expect the landscape to change just because you enter a different state but that's the way it seemed when I entered Utah. The redness of the rock dissipated and more of the white/tan colors came out; a very pretty state, just different than what I was used to.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Just before I shot this picture, I stopped for gas. As luck would have it I almost repeated my tumble from the day before as I turned into the gas station and the tank bag locked me up; I managed to save it and I don't think I lost too many cool points along the way. Other motorcyclists have begun to notice that I'm loaded down and appear to be on some sort of camping trip. While at the gas station a group of guys on Victory's came riding in with a bit of luggage. One of the guys came up an asked where I was headed; when I told him Alaska he almost fell down. He said they were on their way to Jackson Hole for a Victory rally and were feeling pretty tough because their trip was going to last 5 days. Amateurs.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I wasn't quite so uppity 30 minutes later when I realized I had totally missed my turn-off and had to backtrack 20 miles, during which time I passed the Victory guys coming the other way. As I got on the right road the clouds began to look threatening. I decided that today I would pull over sooner to get my raingear on if it in fact began raining. Sure enough the rain started to come down. I began to realize that this rain was different than what I'd experienced yesterday; then it hit me, it's hail! It kept on raining sporadically for the next couple of hundred miles so I kept my rain gear on.

    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I stopped at a gas station up a ways to have my usual lunch of beef jerky and nalgene water when I noticed the view. Why can't we all have this outside our living room windows?


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Utah was pretty good to me but it really did start to get a little warm in the afternoon. Of course it never helps when you hit Salt Lake City in the middle of rush hour. I really wish they'd standardize the car pool lanes so all states are the same. I used it but I'm pretty sure I used it in a manner that's not approved by the State of Utah.
    I began to get close to Willard Bay and the excitement of stopping began to creep in. My directions told me that I should get off on exit 360 and I started counting down, exit 357...exit 362? What's going on? I pulled into a gas station and called the park for directions; sure enough exit 360 is correct, I must have just missed it. I get back on the highway the other direction and sure enough, there's no exit 360. Luckily just as my last straw was breaking I see a sign for Willard Bay at exit 357.



    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I pull into the campground, find my site and set up camp under a huge cottonwood tree. The sky has cleared up and it's a beautiful night! I cook myself a little Chili Mac then go have a look around. I'm right on the bay and the scenery is not to be believed. I check out the bathrooms and find they leave a bit to be desired but I guess I've used worse, or at least I'm sure I will at some point on this trip. At least there're showers.




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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Right next to my campsite I came upon this little rabbit. He was black! He really didn't look like a wild rabbit, more like someones pet. I wonder if he's heading back to his people on the other side of the bushes.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As the sun sets on the mountains it really lights them up...


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Some guys are still out on the Bay trying their luck.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I walked around a bit more, got lost in the campground (how on earth do you do that?) and made it back to the campsite before it was full dark. Haven't given the flashlight another chance, just decided to go to bed while I could still see.











    #3
  4. syntec4

    syntec4 Long timer

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    great start..... Keep it coming. :lurk
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    60,387
    Looks good!! :thumb

    Got lost in the campground? Well, don't go to the KOA near Mt. Rushmore! I spent half an hour looking for my tent and bike! :lol3

    :lurk
    #5
  6. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

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    :lurk
    #6
  7. Rangerrat

    Rangerrat Adventurer Rat

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
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    Tampa
    Yammy, Yammy, Yammy, man, give us some more of that downward move!!:rofl Good stuff. :clap






    Roads impede my adventure, so why have them!!
    #7
  8. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    Heading up into Montana today. Woke up this morning to find that the outside of my tent was covered with earwigs; it must've been being that close to the water. Kind of gross but I brushed them off and packed up. Sometime during the night it hit me, wouldn't it be a better idea to NOT situate your campground next to a main highway? In addition to the droning of traffic all night a freight train came through sometime while it was still dark. To top if all off I came to the realization that I was in one of the worst smelling places I've ever visited; a quick shower proved that I wasn't just smelling myself.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> A bit of a longer day today at 458 miles but still not that bad. Turns out it's a beautiful day, at least the skies are clear which is something new on this trip.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Even with the sky being clear and sunny the temperature really hadn't warmed up that much, I was still looking at mid 50's and low 60's for at least the first few hours. Even though I was heading to Montana tonight I forgot that I had to enter Idaho to do it, 2 states in 1 day!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The scenery didn't change much throughout the day and I just kept on plugging away. Around noontime I stopped for gas, it was lunchtime and there was a restaurant attached to the gas station that advertised home cooking so I decided to forgo my usual lunch of beef jerky and have something at the “Cowboy Up Cafe”. I carefully backed into a spot in the mostly empty lot so that I'd be able to get out easily. As I get situated some kid on a new Sportster pulls in right next to me; he must have left me about two feet of space. I just kind of looked at him; any fool could see that I need at least three feet to get off this overloaded pig. He just walks into the cafe; I managed to extricate myself without pulling anything but I think we were both lucky I didn't fall on his Sportie.
    After a lunch consisting of a fair burger and really poor fries I got back on the road; should've stuck with the jerky. A couple of miles down the road my GPS gave me the a message that I'd lost power to it; no problem, I just pushed on the plug to reseat it into the receptacle. Too bad it didn't help. I pulled over and a few minutes later decided it was the fuse in the plug that had blown; I put in a new fuse but still no love. At least I have batteries I can use.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I didn't know this before I left for this trip but evidently I have an unreasonable fascination with bridges. This one was off the road but it's almost an impossibility for me to pass or cross a bridge without taking a picture. Honestly, you'll see.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The ride across Montana was pretty uneventful. Of course Montana is a wonderful ride, at least on the West half, so it wasn't really surprising. At one point I stopped at a state part right off the highway to use the bathroom; of course I had to take some pictures, not of the bathroom though.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Was this going to be my first dry day of the trip? Well I can count it as my first dry riding day but as I pulled into Chalet Bearmouth I could see the clouds were threatening and I didn't hold out much hope for a dry night.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> It's surprising how different a place can be from what I was led to believe from the website. Chalet Bearmouth wasn't the worst offender in this manner but from their name I just expected more.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> It started to rain as I set up camp; I pitched my tent under the only trees in the area, I only hoped it would keep the worst of the coming storm off me.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Somehow I chose another campground situated right on a major highway, I guess that's just the way it is.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I decided that I was going to continue my one day old tradition of taking a walk around the area before it got too dark. Since it was sprinkling rain I'd already decided I wasn't going to fire up the stove and cook dinner but rather see what the lodge had to offer so I could take my time a little. Good thing I'd packed my raincoat! Chalet Bearmouth was situated right on a pretty good size river, this makes for some decent picture opportunities. In addition it was at the base of a hill, some might even call it a mountain but maybe that's stretching it a little bit.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I walked down to the bridge where I'd come in, probably not more than a mile, and decided I could do better to get an overview of the area. I looked up the hillside and figured it couldn't be that difficult to climb up at least halfway and get a good picture. Sometimes I wonder how I come up with what constitutes a good idea. I got about halfway up to where I wanted to get and realized that this hill was not only a lot steeper than it looked from the ground but it was covered in a loose rock that was a bit slippery. I came to the conclusion that I was plenty high enough and snapped my picture.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I like the ability to shoot a panorama of this camera.


    I stopped in at the lodge for dinner before heading back down to my tent. I sort of decided that I could do some sort of taste-test while on my trip comparing burgers at different locations. Since I'd already had a bad one today my prospects looked a little better for dinner. I decided to skip the fries and instead opted for the homemade chips they served, this proved to be a fortuitous decision as I can still picture and taste them as I write this, yummy!


    I got back to my campsite and realized that my choice of location may not have been the best ever. I was under the trees which I still think was a good idea but evidently I was the only one in the campground that noticed that there were real bathrooms up under the lodge. When I pitched my tent I'd thought that the proximity of the porta-potties could only be a good thing since they were a lot closer than the real facilities at the lodge. How was I supposed to know that these delightfully convenient little toilets were also a kid magnet and would give the local children hours of fun as they played whatever games kids played in portable toilets? If they would've been quiet it might have been a little better, at least they drowned out the noise of the traffic. I don't know how late they stayed up playing reindeer games as I finally dropped off to sleep. When I awoke the next morning I seriously considered shouting and blowing my horn as I passed their sleeping camper but showed what I thought was admirable constraint by not doing so.


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    #8
  9. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    I think I was supposed to change time zones when I entered Montana but really have no idea. My cell phone looked like it changed when I first got in but then changed back. I guess it really doesn't matter at this point. I got up at 7 but still seemed to take forever to get packed up and on the road, even without a shower or breakfast I didn't leave until 8:30. It was cold this morning, 47 degrees but I figured on it getting nicer as I got underway as it had for the past couple of days. I figured wrong.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> This was truly a miserable day for riding but I only had to go 200 miles which I guessed would take me around 3 hours at freeway speeds; I wouldn't even have to stop for gas! I didn't feel like taking any pictures as I was just too cold to care; I looked forward to entering Idaho as for some reason that line on the map makes me think everything will be different. Well I was right since as soon as I crossed the line into Idaho it started to rain. If there's one thing I hate more than riding in the cold or rain it's riding in the cold AND rain. I stopped at a ski resort and put my raingear on, here's the only pictures from today, I paused on the bridge getting back on the highway to snap them.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I got both directions so you can see it was equally miserable from either way. Even though I ended up stopping for gas and to warm up a little I still got to Chapa's house by noon, of course my cell phone had been screwed up so I had woken up and hour earlier than what I'd thought anyway.
    For some reason whenever I stop an someone's house I've become really bad at taking any pictures, or even unpacking the camera so you'll have to bear with me. Houston and Desiree had turned up about 30 minutes before me so we were all ready to get our stuff together. After some basic housekeeping and packing tips Chapa took us out to get a gander at Post Falls. I was really surprised to see that it was not the backwards middle of nowhere'sville that I had anticipated but was more like a bedroom community for Coeur d'Alene (you have no idea how many times I had to look that up to spell it correctly). We went out to lunch at Hot Rods and then checked out the chopper shop next door. Afterward Chapa and I headed out to try and find a replacement power cable for my GPS. We wound up at Radio Shack who didn't have what I needed but tried really hard to sell me a new GPS; they almost succeeded but the one they had didn't have Canada so I couldn't see the point and settled for the economy size pack of AA batteries. By the time we got back I was pretty bushed and we had grilled PB&J for dinner and watched Wipeout on Tivo, I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Chapa planned to take us all out for breakfast the following morning then accompany us to the Canadian border, no further as he didn't have a passport.
    I have no idea what time we got up and moving but we went to some place called GW Hunters or something like that (didn't write it down) for breakfast. I don't know what it is with these places in the Pacific Northwest but they had a bunch of stuffed animals all over the place.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We were greeted outside by this little guy.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> However we felt he needed a little something to get us into the spirit of the day so we added...


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> He looks much better now and we can go inside and enjoy our meal.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We entered the door to find this fearsome guy there to greet us. Actually I think he looks like he's got a little gas. If the bears in Canada are anything like this one then I've got nothing to worry about; regardless this is the first bear of the trip so I had to get a picture of him.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The food here was pretty normal and since Chapa was buying no one scrimped. It felt good to have everyone together just hanging out again for awhile.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Coming out of the restaurant I came upon this beauty, can there ever be too much camouflage?


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Before long we were loaded up and on the road, next stop the Canadian Border!








    We had roughly 100 miles until we reached Canada, I didn't think about it too much but I new that we had almost 500 miles to make today and we'd gotten a late start. Traffic was pretty heavy for a little while but before long is sorted itself out.




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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As we continued north the pine forests took over and before long we felt like we were the only ones on the road; it was quite tranquil.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The next thing we knew we came around a corner and bang! There was the border crossing!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We all sort of messed around for a little bit and took turns standing with one foot in each country. The most interesting thing to me was that the border was even carved into the forest, perhaps those lines in the map aren't just imaginary?



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We made sure to get a group picture, something tells me either I over packed or Houston under packed seeing as how my gear is for one person and he's set up for two, better safe than sorry I guess.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Chapa was a little miffed that this was to be the end of his part of the Adventure so he went into the U.S. Customs office to see if he could get some sort of day pass into Canada, they told him that as long as he came back the same day they'd tell the Canadians he would be allowed back into the country; silly border guards don't know a perfect opportunity when they see one...
    We were instructed to go through the gate individually, I was the last to go. They asked the normal sorts of questions regarding weapons, alcohol and length of stay in Canada then asked if I was traveling with the other two bikes who'd just gone through. Of course I told them yes, they then asked me why we all had different answers to how long we were going to be in Canada. I began to draw a total bland but came up with the correct answer of, “those two up there are a couple of idiots who don't know what our schedule is.” This seemed to satisfy the gate guard and they let me through, probably glad to be rid of the lot of us, and now we were in Canada!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I don't know why but it immediately felt cleaner on this side of the border, the downside was that I had to do math in order to figure out how fast I was supposed to go and how far until the next town. It took a little practice but really wasn't that difficult; simply multiplying by six got you close.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The weather was beautiful and it was an excellent day to ride. Unfortunately 100 miles inside of Canada Chapa had to take his leave of us. 200 miles riding with us meant 200 miles riding home and he wasn't on vacation. I know Chapa would've preferred to continue on, I could see it in his face.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> After Chapa left the day just seemed a little darker, of course it could be that the rainclouds on the horizon had something to do with it.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We stopped for gas just outside of the town of Radium. I asked Houston what he'd do if we came upon a bear while camping and he told me he'd pretend he was Bigfoot and show that bear a thing or two. I'm truly not sure that he'd be pretending...


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Directly after leaving the gas station we went through this gap in the cliffs and entered the Radium Hot Springs National Park, otherwise known as Wilderness Wonderland in Adamspeak.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Luckily Houston had suggested we don our raingear at the gas station since as soon as we passed through the portal it started to rain. Immediately a large herd of elk crossed the road in front of us but I was just too slow with the camera to get a picture. Even with the rain the majestic pine forests on either side were something to see, I didn't see how it could get any better.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I discovered that if there is anything better than a bridge that I like to take pictures of it's a tunnel, unfortunately there's not that many of them.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Finally we entered Banff, where Radium had grand pine forests Banff had soaring cliffs and mountains, most with snow still on the peaks. It was in Banff where we saw our first (live) bear, a little guy by a stream. Again I was too slow for a picture but I guessed that I'd get my chance later. The rain kept up but it wasn't too bad.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The weather teased us, it would be overcast with rain for about 20 minutes then, without warning, the sky would clear and we get these wonderful views. This kept up for some time and the scenery just got better every time!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Eventually we came to the Icefields Parkway leading through Jasper National Park. Strangely enough I had no idea that it was some sort of toll road and it wound up costing $20 for the 3 of us to use it. It started out nice and clear with our spirits high but the mood soon plummeted along with the temperature.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Before long the rain was non-stop and the temperature eventually fell to 41 degrees. Miserable doesn't even begin to describe it. The scenery was breathtaking, or it may have been the cold, but it was difficult to take it all in between the shivers. Finally Houston pulled over after 150 miles of this stuff; I screamed to myself, “but we're almost there! Couldn't you wait another 30 minutes!?”


    He'd run out of gas. Luckily we'd taken a one gallon can from Chapa before we left and were prepared for just such an eventuality.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Directly after refilling Houston with some gas the skies cleared and the sun started shining! Oh what a glorious sight! We rolled into Whistler's Campground in good spirits after one of the most challenging days I've ever spent riding, both physically and mentally.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We set up camp, in the dry thank you very much, and all started to get our happy thoughts together. I have to say that if you're going on a camping trip and a Special Forces guy is good to have along as he can start a fire with ease, something I still have yet to figure out. I was talking with Karen on the phone, regaling her with tails of how hard we'd had it when we had some visitors in our campsite.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I shouted at her, “we have moose in our campsite!” only to realize a second later that they were actually elk. What can I say they're still the biggest things I've ever seen. This was the perfect end to a hard day. Well almost...







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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> If you're going to take a Special Forces guy with you don't listen if he offers to dry your clothes over the campfire. This is Houston watching his pair of socks go up in flames, evidently they're a little dryer than he wanted. He was lucky as he came close to drying his gloves and boots a similar amount.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As we cooked our dinner we realized that the frigid wetness that was Father's Day was but a distant, painful memory but a warm fire and dinner was the reality.


    All is right again.
    #9
  10. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    Another beautiful albeit chilly morning. I decide to go find the shower house while the other 60% of our trio work on just getting smellier. The shower house is alright but nothing special, at least I'm clean.



    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As we're getting ready to go we find that Houston's new motorcycle boots are quickly shedding their nether-regions. No problem, I knew there was a reason I picked up that roll of duct tape!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Today's not too bad of a day, well hopefully it's not too bad of a day anyway. Mileage-wise we've got about 380 miles, it's chilly but my weather-eye tells me that it should warm up fairly quickly. It doesn't really look like rain but why should today be any different than what I've put up with every single day of this trip so far.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I decide that it'll warm up soon enough that all I'm going to wear is my t-shirt under my riding jacket. Please understand that although that jacket appears to be quite substantial it really isn't, wind and rain tends to blow right through it. We find our way to Hwy 40 which is billed as a scenic route to Alaska; it's nice but doesn't hold a candle to the things we saw yesterday. Of course my attitude could be tempered by the fact that it's getting progressively colder and all it needs is to rain to be truly horrible.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Of course the weather does its usual teasing and we great stretches of blue sky with light fluffy clouds. When this happens the temperature rises a couple of degrees, just enough to give the condemned man hope before dashing his hopes; what's the phrase, “abandon all hope ye who enter here”. It fits.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Just as I feel like I can't take another moment and I'm going to lose it we come up to the town of Grand Cache and a Mini-Mart. It takes awhile but eventually I'm able to move my fingers enough to turn off my ignition so I can make my way into the heaven that's the Quicky Mart. I take a minute to don my sweatshirt and rain cover to help block the wind and head inside. The proprietor of the store tells us we should have come through last week as the temps were in the 30's. I replied that I was glad we missed it before I realized she was talking Centigrade! She then tells us the scenery between Grand Cache and Grand Prairie was the equal to that in Banff and Jasper. She lied.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> All along Hwy 40 I'd been seeing signs warning me of logging trucks. As we're messing around in the Quicky Mart I snap a quick picture of one in the parking lot as I hadn't seen one yet.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Unfortunately we spent a little too much time warming up and the logging truck beat us out of the lot. Don't you hate it when trucks are slow as molasses when you can't pass but speed way up when there's a passing zone? We passed as soon as we could but it took a little bit.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Of course as soon as we put all our cold weather clothes on the temps started to rise and it became quite nice out. I really miss all the green and water that isn't just there for a few short months in monsoon season.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Surprisingly Houston and DD decided we needed a sit-down meal for lunch. In keeping with my burger rating experiment I go for the cheeseburger. Here's where I get a sort of shock; in Canada fries are served with a side of brown gravy. It was very tasty!



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The route from the restaurant to Dawson Creek was pretty uneventful. After awhile even beautiful scenery gets old and we weren't riding in beautiful scenery. However one of the high points of the trip came in Dawson Creek as we came to mile zero of the Alaska Highway! Now I'm thinking the adventure's really starting because I'm head all the horror stories of poor road conditions, cars having to be towed off the Alcan and mosquitoes that will deflesh a cow faster than Piranha in the Amazon. The first breakdown came quickly after we got on the Alcan as my first set of headphones bit the dust.




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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Honestly I think the dangers of the Alcan are overstated, at least today I found it to be a delightfully smooth road with wide, although gravelly, shoulders with nice woods on either side. Sure there're patches of road construction but they manage to keep traffic moving fairly well for the most part and before long we're coming up on our stop for the night at Charlie Lake Provincial Park.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As we enter the campground we see the sign to the right. On one hand I'm very excited as I'm thinking I'm going to get to see a bear up close and personal. On the other hand I'm pretty nervous as I'm thinking I'm going to see a bear up close and personal. The park is set up as a small loop with about 30 campsites in all.





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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> After riding around the whole campground we choose the first site right in the entrance because it has a grassy area. Of course it also has the added benefit of being right on the highway so I'm keeping up with the aura that most of my campsites have had so far with plenty of road noise.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Houston and DD are pretty serious about staying in shape as you can see. Calisthenics before bedtime was a common occurrence. In this picture it's probably pushing 9 pm. This is the first night I've noticed that the sun is setting much later than what I'm used to and I finally have to use my sleep mask to be able to drop off. Now if I would've thought to pack earplugs I'd be doing okay.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Finally a day without rain! Is it a sign of good things to come?


    Tomorrow's a big day as we head to the Liard Hotsprings Provincial Park and hope to get a good relaxing soak in!
    #10
  11. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    I wake up to the sound of Houston telling DD that he's going to start kicking my tent to get me up, this is at 6am. I finally drag myself into daylight at 7 and proceed to heat up a cup of cocoa. It's fairly cold this morning and a little something to warm me up will be good. As usual I don't get all packed up until 9 or so.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Today we're heading up to the Liard River hotsprings, a place I've heard great things about and am looking forward to mightily. We have about 420 miles to go today and while I'm hoping we can get there a bit early in the day I don't want that to include me getting up and moving real early, I'm on vacation after all.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I wake up to the sound of Houston telling DD that he's going to start kicking my tent to get me up, this is at 6am. I finally drag myself into daylight at 7 and proceed to heat up a cup of cocoa. It's fairly cold this morning and a little something to warm me up will be good. As usual I don't get all packed up until 9 or so.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Right before we get on the road Houston voices his concerns regarding the route from Dawson City to Fairbanks. I blow it off and we get moving. One of these days I'll learn to put on my sweatshirt before we leave; we'll see how that works out for me tomorrow. Right now I'm just cold.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> For some reason Houston passes up the first gas stop opportunity. As we ride through miles of wilderness I start doing the math for the next town I know will have gas. Just as I figure that I'll be pushing my bike for 10 miles with Houston having to push an extra 20 our salvation strikes in the form of the Pink Mountain.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The further north we get the more chainsaw sculptures we see. This one is pretty representative.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We gas up at the Pink Mountain and the proprietor gives me a chart of where we can get gas and the mileage between stops.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Somehow on every vacation we go on Karen and I find a cat that seems to channel one of ours. I don't know this guys name but he's a dead ringer for Oliver so I took a picture.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We get our warm clothes back on and hit the road.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The RV traffic hasn't been as bad as I'd been told to expect. Even so once you get behind one it's hard to pass. In places the AlCan is pretty twisty and there's just not a lot of passing zones. Of course there are places where it's straight for as far as you can see.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We make good time and at our next stop in Fort Nelson I'm thinking we'll be in Liard plenty early.


    Houston has decided that he's beginning to get the hose by paying with American cash everywhere we stop. He's at the point that he's getting even money for his greenbacks so he stops at the bank and exchanges some U.S. cash for Canadian.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> While Houston's in the bank I cruise the strip and see the Legendary Fort Nelson Hotel. I've never heard of it either.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Getting to Liard early starts to slip away as we spend 45 minutes at the gas station. For my trip mascot I brought the “Poo Bear”. If you don't know the significance and really want to hear it let me know and I'll send you the story. There's a bit of humor involved.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Once we finally get rolling it's through some seriously pretty country. We're getting back into mountainous country, it's green and the sky's clear.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Well the sky's clear for a little while anyway.


    We start getting into river country again and you know what that means; bridges! Almost all the bridges we crossed has that metal grating as the road surface. I don't like it in a car, I hate it on the motorcycle and I really hate it on a motorcycle with a knobby tire on the front.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> At one point coming around a corner we run into a flock of some sort of mountain sheep.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Later we run into road construction and have five miles of loose gravel road; and it starts to rain.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As we get through the construction area we run into a small herd of big-horn sheep. Actually we almost run into the RV as he comes to a screeching stop in the middle of the highway and starts throwing food out to these guys.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I take this picture my camera battery dies, of course I don't take the time to put in my spare battery. Just as we come up to the campground we run across a herd of buffalo – stupid camera.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We get to the campground to find that they have no record of my reservation. Luckily I had the printout showing my reservation but they didn't have a whole lot of sites left and we couldn't get one with any grass. At this point I was just glad to have a site. We did our best to make our site comfortable, just as we got set up it started to rain again.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> After the short rain we headed out for the hotsprings. I was a little perturbed as we followed the trail through what looked like muddy swampland.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Soon enough the trail took a turn for the better and we were walking through lush greenness. Of course it was still a little swampy off the boardwalk but at least it was green.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> There are two hotsprings areas along the trail. The first one you come to is the cooler of the two and attracts lots of families with kids. It was sort of a resort setting, well as much of a resort setting as any I'd seen on this trip so far. We decided to take a pass, in addition to being loud there was the distinct odor of sulfur in the area. I smelled bad enough at this point and didn't need any help.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> A little further up the trail was the “adult” hotspring. This one was much quieter with no kids. I found out why it was quieter as I entered the water and the heat took my breath away. Everyone but the crazy guy across the pool hung around the base of the different stairs leading down into the water. The trick was to not touch the bottom of the pool as it was natural and a bit muddy. In addition there was some sort of moss on the bottom and it was easy to dislodge if you stepped on it; the moss tended to float to the surface and wasn't very attractive. I couldn't stay in very long due to the heat and got light-headed as I got out of the water.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The sky was still threatening as we walked back to the campground but I took the rainbow to be a good sign.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> After returning to camp I went on a search for water, finally finding a spigot halfway across the campground. I came back and cooked up some Chili-Mac. As I headed up to the registration shack a few minutes later I discovered this water tap. It wasn't any closer than the other but it did benefit from the extra feature of the warning sign. I asked the gatekeeper what the boil order was all about and was it only this spigot? No, all the water in the park was under the boil order as their cistern hadn't passed inspection by the state this year. Now I'd heated up my water for my Chili Mac but there was no way I'd boiled it for 5 minutes, my stomach gave a lurch as I thought of the possibilities.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I came back to the campsite to find the last bit of wildlife for the night before turning in. I swear I wasn't the one feeding the little guy peanut M&M's.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> At this point I learn that Houston and DD are talking about not coming up to Dawson City. They haven't made a decision yet but better do it soon as we're only two days out. Once you get up to Dawson City the only way to Fairbanks is over the Top of the World Highway or back down the Klondike to the AlCan and up.
    #11
  12. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    Awoke to the sound of raindrops on the tent so you know that's another day to get rained on. Today we're heading up to Whitehorse, the capitol of the Yukon Territory some 405 miles away. I've begun to worry about the condition of my rear tire and I'm thinking that Whitehorse may be my best bet for a replacement.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Before breakfast Houston lets me know that he and DD aren't coming to Whitehorse today, instead they'll be heading south on Hwy 37 just past Watson Lake.


    After breakfast Houston lets me know that he and DD will be coming to Whitehorse but DD will stay in the hotel in Dawson City while he and I ride over the Top of the World Highway to Fairbanks where he will immediately turn around and ride back to Dawson City. Craziness.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I finally remember to wear my sweatshirt and am quite happy when we get going. Upon leaving the campground we come across a herd of buffalo and I'm able to get pictures.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Soon after the buffalo I see a bear off on the left side of the road and come to a screeching halt on the wrong side of the road to get some pictures.


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    Not 20 minutes later I see another one and have the same reaction.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> In all today I see four bears, the last two sort of snuck up on me and I didn't manage to get the camera around for pictures.



    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> After the rainy beginning to the day it's turning into a nice one. Other than the bears there's not a whole lot going on other than just enjoying the scenery.


    Believe it or not at one point I'm trying to take a picture and get a bug right in the center of the camera lens. How on earth do I get so unlucky to have a bug his this little ¾ inch circular area? I have no idea.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> A bit less than halfway to Whitehorse we come to Watson Lake, home of the signpost forest. This whole thing started with a worker on the AlCan construction crew who erected a signpost with distances and directions to his gang's hometowns, sort of like the one on M.A.S.H. As you can see his small sign has now grown to this “forest”.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> My few pictures can't even begin to catch the size of this place.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We continue on and just revel in the scenery. You'd think it would get old rather quickly but I have a couple thousand pictures that lead me to believe that I was always seeing something that was amazing to me.


    RV's were on the road but still nowhere near the numbers I expected.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style>
    We started seeing mountains again as well.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We stopped at the Continental Divide for gas; I have no idea if we're actually at a continental divide or if it's just the name of the gas station. It turned out people were raving about the cinnamon rolls here so of course I stopped to have one. Unfortunately they have raisins in them which I hate.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Houston asks one of the women working there if she'd heard anything about the condition of the Top of the World Highway and she tells him it's pretty much impassable. He says he'll ask someone in Dawson City for more up-to-date news on the road condition when we get up there. Her response was classic as she tells him that none of those people are going to know anything unless they just came off it. I can't help but wonder how she came up with her impassable news.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> A ways further up I look over and I'm greeted by this lovely vision.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> This has to be the longest bridge I've seen to date (okay I don't get out much). Of course it's that steel grating on the road surface so I'm clenching my cheeks together the whole way across as my tires try to follow some track that's different than where I want to go. One of these days I'll learn to relax and maybe it'll go smoother but I've just got to the point where I don my sweatshirt on a cold morning before I leave so I'm not holding out too much hope this'll go easier soon. We stopped at the gas station on the other side of the bridge, not necessarily because we needed gas but we definitely needed a breather after the bridge.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Construction is getting a little more common but we still make good time.












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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Houston and Desiree don't seem to mind it that much!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We got into camp fairly early but we still need to work on gas stops as we're averaging about 40 minutes.


    The campground is ice, although the campsites are mostly dirt. I took a shower that only cost two loonies and did a little laundry while I was in there. Houston is still determined not to shower until he reaches Fairbanks and I've taken to making sure my tent is upwind of his. I go to the camp store and decide I want an ice cream cone; nothing looks all that great until I come across a flavor called Tiger Stripe. I stared at it for a little while then decided to go for it. Tiger Stripe is orange with black licorice stripes. I know it sounds horrid but it was really quite good!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> There's a ranger program going on so I stop to see what it's about. The topic for the night is bears and how to prevent an attack; I'm all ears. Evidently there're two types of bear attacks that you need to watch out for; the defensive attack and the offensive attack.
    The defensive attack comes about because the bear feels threatened by you and wants to scare you off. The bear will likely charge but you can tell that it's not really serious by paying close attention to its body language. If the worst happens and the bear actually attacks you, lie down on your stomach with your hands clenched over the back of your neck. The idea is that your skull is too large to fit in a bears mouth, at least a black bears mouth, so you don't have to worry about them grabbing and crushing your skull. However the bear can easily fit your neck in its mouth and snap it so lacing your fingers across your neck will protect that from happening. The ranger guaranteed us that although we might get scalped and have some of our fingers torn off and eaten we would probably suffer no lasting damage. In addition during a defensive attack you're supposed to remain absolutely silent and not fight back; if the bear rolls you onto your back you're to keep rolling until you're back on your stomach. Eventually the bear will decide you're no longer a threat and just leave. I almost got up and walked out when he came up with the “remain silent even though you're being scalped” part.
    An offensive attack is different; in a offensive attack the bear sees you as food and is going to try to kill you and eat you. In this case you're to yell and scream, punch, kick, stab, etc. until the bear decides it's too much trouble to eat you.
    Keep in mind that the way to decide between the two types of attack is to observe the bears body language and try to divine its intent by the way it holds its ears. Of course if cubs are involved then all bets are off. I think I'll just try to keep my distance, I'm glad I got my bear bell on the first day in Canada. You know what they say, the way to avoid a Black Bear is wear a bell and keep pepper spray ready to defend yourself; but you know you're dealing with a Grizzly if you come across its scat, it'll be full of bells and smell like pepper.
    Our campground is nice but evidently it's where all the locals come to smoke dope; coming back from the bear pep talk I almost got a contact high from the amount of cannabis in the air, at least they'll all get tired and probably be quiet for the rest of the night. Houston wants to get an early start in the morning so we can get to Dawson City before nightfall, I suggested shorter gas stops but we'll see how it goes. I'm still a little jealous of my morning time as I'm on vacation, if I wanted to get up early I might as well be at work.
    My camera card crapped out on me tonight, hopefully the pictures will be there when I try to download them at home. At least I have three more cards!
    #12
  13. syntec4

    syntec4 Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,535
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    :clapGreat stuff.
    #13
  14. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    Today we're heading out to Dawson City, it'll be our last day in Canada for awhile and we're leaving the Alaska Highway for the Klondike Highway. It's 330 miles to Dawson City, I sort of wanted a shorter day today as this is the first day of the Dusk to Dawson Adventure rally in Dawson City.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Houston's been throwing nuts to the squirrels all night and now they've decided they have free rein over our campsite. As we're getting packed up I make some cocoa and have an “Oatmeal to Go” bar (quite tasty). I set my breakfast down for a second to do something and the next thing I know I see this squirrel running across the campsite with my breakfast in its mouth. A few minutes later he comes back to see what else he can steal, finding nothing left he takes the wrappers off the table and throws them on the ground. Houston and Desiree decide that since we're close to an actual town they're heading off to Starbucks and I can meet them their, sounds good.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I head off to the bathroom I look over into the common area; what is that? It was a fox sitting not 20 feet away! The ravens in the area are going crazy and as I watch the fox starts throwing what I thought was a rag up in the air and catching it. I soon figured out the fox was playing with a squirrel, a squirrel that no longer cared that it was the foxes toy. After getting my camera I found the fox going around the campground raiding peoples screen porches. I managed to snap this incredibly bad picture before he took off.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As you can see Whitehorse is an actual town, after all it is the capitol of the Yukon! I finally found the correct Starbucks (there were two!) and we all loaded up and got on the road again. The map showed the distance to where we turned off onto the Klondike Hwy to be rather short, or course one of these days I need to look at the map scale as well. But finally we came to our intersection and turned our backs on the AlCan.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Honestly there's not much to say about the Klondike. The road feels quite a bit narrower than the AlCan, I think it's because the trees are permitted to come right up to the edge of it instead of having a 30 foot swatch cut back.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> There were also a lot more construction zones on the Klondike, and they seemed to not only last longer but the road surface was a lot looser than anything we'd encountered so far. On this particular section the road was newly graded, the dirt and gravel was quite deep and I know I was worried the whole time that I'd get spit off. This section lasted 5 miles and I figured if we could make it through this then the Top of the World highway would be a piece of cake.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> At one point we were following this slow pickup truck down the road when we came across this Mountie; we all pulled to a stop, what else would you do if a policeman is in the middle of the road out in the wilderness? The Mountie has the guy in the truck get out and starts running his information; oh great, I guess we're next. In the middle of dealing with the truck driver he looks at us and waves us on, good deal!


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We stopped for gas in the town of Carmacks, now the “towns” really consist of a gas station, maybe someplace to eat and a few houses. While we're stocking up on the essentials (Malteasers and Aero's) another group pull in and ask if we were riding with the guy who'd pulled off the road a while back. As we talk we find out that this other guy was tooling down the road and a bear just walked right out in front of him. He had to brake hard and swerve but managed to miss Ursa Major but ended up pulling over a bit further up, probably to change his shorts. All this happened about 10 minutes behind us.
    As we come up to Dawson City I see what I think is a hawk perched on a traffic sign on the side of the road. As we pass it I can clearly see that it's an owl sleeping on the post, Too Cool! I wanted to get a picture but it would've entailed a u-turn on a narrow street, I just wasn't up to it at this point.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Coming into Dawson I immediately think it's very similar to Tombstone; plenty of dirt roads and a lot of history.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As we pull up to the Downtown Hotel, our lodging for the night, it's hard to miss the long line of ADV bikes parked down the street. Mostly BMW GS's and KLR's but I saw one other Strom. The room was much more modern than I expected, but then when I realized what the rate was I don't know why I doubted...


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I walked around town for a little while and soaked up some local atmosphere...


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Tomorrow morning we have to cross the Yukon River; the only way across, other than swimming, is the ferry.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I was walking back toward the hotel I saw this guy taking his dog for a walk. Seriously, he drove slowly and the dog stayed right next to him the whole way; I watched him continue on down the street.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> And of course if you're doing a lot of camping where there are no campgrounds there's still no reason you can't have a comfortable toilet seat.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I had dinner at Sourdough Joe's, fish & chips made with halibut (mmmmm, tasty), then went down the street and got an ice cream cone (Tiger Stripe again!). Lastly I retired to my room where I did a little sink laundry and watched my first TV of the trip only to learn that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett had both died today – what a shocker!


    Well tomorrow we're cross over into Alaska, the weather was beautiful today and I look forward to more of the same!
    #14
  15. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    Today we finally get in to Alaska! Dawson City was wonderful; from the lovely walk around town in the evening and fish & chips at Sourdough Joe's to a bit of TV and a good nights sleep in a actual bed.
    Waking up was a different matter as the sky was completely overcast. I met Dennis on the porch of the hotel and asked him about the “Top of the World Highway”. He said the Canadian side was gravel, but good, and the American side was dirt and needed some work. We'd be okay, he said, if it didn't rain. I eyed the sky skeptically.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The first order of the day was to find some gas before we headed out to the ferry. Strangely enough there was none to be found in town and we wound up heading back down the road for about 5 miles to find a gas station. Once we gassed up we rode back down through Dawson City to the ferry stop.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I was pleased that I'd made the trip down to the ferry dock last night as I'd been able to see what the procedure was to get a ride. The entrance to the ferry was gravel, but at least it was well-packed from all the RV's that routinely make the trip.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I was surprised at the smoothness of the ferry ride, quite nice actually. The good part about being on motorcycles was that we were able to wonder around the deck instead of being trapped in a car.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I was a little nervous about the docking procedure as all I could think of was a sudden stop and being thrown forward with my bike on top of me. The landing was as smooth as the rest of the trip had been and we rode down off the ramp, across the gravel and onto the Top of the World. Unfortunately just as we landed I felt the first raindrops on my face.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We started out on some relatively nice asphalt and I was beginning to think that the condition of the road had been blown way out of proportion.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Soon enough, however, the road surface began to deteriorate and we were in serious gravel. The rain began to come down harder and the temperature began to drop.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> This day was rapidly becoming one of the most miserable that we'd experienced so far. At least the scenery, which would've been better in the dry & sunny, was still excellent. At this point it was still at least in the lower 40's.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> After what seemed like forever I finally saw what had to be the border crossing up ahead.







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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As we sat at the border waiting for the guards I looked at my thermometer and saw that it was 39 degrees. Coupled with the rain I was completely miserable, it made the whole border crossing experience just not as enjoyable as I'd anticipated.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We huddled up for warmth and took some pictures. Poker Creek is the northernmost land border crossing into the United States. I'm guessing that the border guards live up here on some sort of schedule as the closest town is Chicken, some 43 miles distant. While we were there we noticed a Canadian who appeared to be a bit disgruntled. Evidently he was from Ontario and was a smoker; he had quite a few cartons of cigarettes stashed in this motor home, for personal use, and the border guards were giving him trouble. He finally got across the border but had to pay some sort of import tax for his smokes, I'm guessing he'll think twice next time. This border crossing is only open from 9:00-9:00; we also ran into a couple of riders who'd left out from Dawson City the night before and tried to make the border. They rolled into Poker Creek 5 minutes after the border closed. No problem, they just set up their tents and camped until the border opened up the next morning. They awoke early, cooked some breakfast and basically did all the things that you do in the morning. Just as one of them dropped his pants to take care of a little business off the side of the road Motor homes started pulling up. He said he now understood what zoo animals had to deal with.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As soon as we get back into the US we realize that the road is much worse than it was on the Canadian side; I wouldn't have thought it was possible. At one point I noticed that my load had shifted, I got off to secure my stuff and found that I'd lost one of my Nalgene's I was using for carrying fresh water – Bummer.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I rode along I found that I was getting quite a bit of mud kicked up into my face. Combined with the poor road conditions this just added a little bit of “excitement” that I really didn't need.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> We finally arrived in Chicken, thoroughly soaked and unable to enjoy it. The one bright spot was that a guy had found my Nalgene on the road and brought it down. He also found a SPOT locater and was looking for its owner as well.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Our spirits low we headed back out. So far we'd made 112 miles in just over 3 hours; only 266 to go. The next few hours are a blur of cold wetness. I saw us get down to 37 degrees at one point as we rode through a cloud. We finally made it back to the Alaskan Highway and stopped at Fast Eddies in Tok for lunch. We all had an Alaskan burger to celebrate. I decided if the weather didn't clear up by Delta Junction, in another 110 miles, that I was going to pull over at a hotel and wait for morning. Amazingly, about 30 miles before Delta Junction the weather cleared and the temperature went up 15 degrees. I still vowed to get a hotel, only now it would be in Fairbanks.
    Upon arriving in Fairbanks I started looking around for a hotel. We pulled over into an empty parking lot to talk about our options. Houston decided he wanted to check into Post housing on Fort Wainwright, it didn't sound like what I wanted to do so we said our goodbye's in the parking lot and went our separate ways. I don't even have any pictures.
    I really had no idea where to find a hotel but I remembered from my planning that there was a Comfort Inn in the same area as the campsite I'd originally planned to stay in. I finally came across the hotel, out in the middle of nowhere with an empty parking lot. It looked good and I was dreaming of a hot meal and a soak in the hot tub until I found what the nightly rate was, $150! A little more checking found an Extended Stay for $135/night. I asked the desk clerk if there were any such thing as a cheap hotel in Fairbanks; she asked me what my idea of cheap is and then laughed when I told her anything under $100. Isn't it amazing how far up your idea of cheap can go? All of a sudden $17 for a campsite got really attractive.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> If I disappear and someone finds my notes, I'm at the Ice Alaska Campground and I think they serve people as stew. Seriously, the place is spooky.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I pulled into the campground I noticed that there were a few campsites that were occupied but I didn't see any people. As I made my way toward the rear of the campground I came upon one person; at first I thought she worked at the campground since she stopped me and asked me if I was looking for a campsite. I told her yes and she pointed out some nice ones. Later I decided she was just a friendly person who was not quite all there.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I cook my dinner the family down the way has already started a shouting match and the bath buildings are a warren of darkened rooms & dead ends. There's a noise that sounds disturbingly like an industrial bone saw. I finally see one other camper and he just gives me a glassy-eyed stare.


    We'll see what tomorrow brings...if I make it through the night.
    #15
  16. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    Well I'm awake so I didn't get added to the Sloppy Joe's during the night. I didn't sleep really well; at one point I woke up thinking there was a Harley right outside my tent revving the engine, I looked outside but didn't see anything. I got a really late start, 9:30, but really didn't care as there was no one to push me. I'm still undecided on whether I'll try for Deadhorse, the rear tire situation is a bit worrying as yet; I guess I'll wait and see how the Dalton Highway is before I make the call.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> At least it was a dry night, but the sky's overcast this morning and I'm a little apprehensive about my road today. The Dalton Highway is supposed to be quite treacherous and I guess I'll have to see if I'm up to it. I can't see how it can be any worse than the Top of the World but there you have it.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The first interesting place I come to is the Alaskan Pipeline Visitor's Center. It's just starting to sprinkle as I pull in but I have to check it out. For many people this is the only part of the Alaskan Pipeline that they'll ever see, for me it's just the beginning. My goal for today is Coldfoot, just over 250 miles.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The pipeline isn't as big as I'd thought it would be. I'm not exactly sure what the little antenna-looking things are for.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Here you can see the extent of the Alaskan Pipeline, quite a nice display.


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    I'll let the signs tell the story about the pigs.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I'm entering the land of the Midnight Sun. As you can see I'm only getting a bit over 2 hours of dark at this point. It's nice but a little disconcerting as I have to force myself to go to bed, I just don't feel like sleeping in the daylight.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I continue on the rain sticks with me; why should today be any different than every day so far?


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I finally arrive at the Dalton Highway.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Truthfully, I'm nervous as I encounter the first gravelly section but the road's nowhere near as bad as I'd expected. It's dry and dusty as I start off but I'd get sporadic rain throughout the day. I'd been told to expect a large amount of semi-truck traffic but it really wasn't that bad either.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> This really is the wilderness on either side of the road. I'm really hoping to see some antelope or moose along here somewhere, I feel it's really my best chance. Otherwise there's plenty of interesting plant life to see.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The pipeline pops out all along the road. There are times when it goes underground but for the most part it runs parallel to the Haul Road. At times the road is so smooth it's easy to lose track of where I'm at. At one point I'm cruising along this smooth asphalt, as I get comfortable my speed increases. The next thing I know I'm coming over a rise in the road and it turns into deep, loose gravel and it's all downhill. This is the Beaver Slide and the pucker factor is extreme. I concentrate on slowing down but I'm not sure what the best way of accomplishing this is. I'm overloaded, going too fast; finally I decide the best way to handle it is to just let off the gas and downshift as I work not driving right off the edge of the road.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> At the first gas stop I decide that I'm going to see what sort of mileage I can get to the next one in Coldfoot, 120 miles away. It's about 240 miles from Coldfoot to Deadhorse with no gas stations in between. Whether I can make it on fuel will be one of the deciding factors on the push to Deadhorse tomorrow; my onboard tank holds almost 6 gallons, I'm not sure how much is usable, and I'm carrying an extra ½ gallon in my MSR bottles strapped to the frame.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The turnoff for the Arctic Circle is sudden and somewhat hidden, I end up having to turn around and get back to it. I've been told that the mosquitoes really start getting nasty here but I'm not having any issues. There's a bus full of tourists here, they take my picture for me.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The Haul Road exists only to supply the oil fields up in Prudhoe Bay, trucks run on it every day, year round. In the winter rather than using asphalt or gravel to fix potholes they just fill them with water, at 40 below it turns to ice quite quickly and fills the hole.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I got to Coldfoot and took 2.85 gallons of gas for about 42 mpg. With the extra half-gallon I'm carrying I think I can make it. However after talking with a guy on his way back I'm not so sure. Evidently the road gets way worse after Coldfoot. He was with a guy on a V-Strom who bent both rims on a pothole; he was able to put in a tube for the front wheel but not the rear. He was lucky that a pickup truck came by and gave him and his bike a ride back to Fairbanks, that's going to be expensive.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I've decided to camp at the Marion Creek Campground and see what decision a good nights sleep brings regarding Deadhorse. This is a wonderful little USFS campground, $8 a night and free firewood; this is a far cry for the $150 a night for a room at the Coldfoot Camp. I met a guy who is bicycling with his dog up to Prudhoe Bay but his bike is broken down. He's looking for a ride to Coldfoot for parts, I really don't think he'll find anything before Fairbanks but you never know. I really don't understand what his plan is regarding his ride; he's from Oregon, he got a ride to Seattle where he got a flight out with his bike to Fairbanks, he's riding from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay where he plans on getting a ride back to Fairbanks where he plans on riding back down to South America. I'm still trying to figure out a few things about his itinerary. He's purchased the cheapest mountain bike he could find, he truly believes that's the best choice. His problem is that he's barely 200 miles into his ride and he's broken down. He's run into a bunch of Scots while he's been on the road; he's met up with all of them in the toilets along the side of the road, where they're camping. He's now dubbed these toilets “Scottish Hotels”.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I chose a campsite that had a platform to set up my tent on, not realizing that I wouldn't be able to stake it down. Luckily I'm equipped with a bunch of bungees so I should be okay. I'm not worried about the tent flying away while I'm in it but rather while I'm off doing other things.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I can see storm clouds coming over the mountains so I decide to go get some firewood, start a fire and then cook some dinner. I can't find the free firewood until I notice the sign on the front of what I thought was a bathroom, they all look the same around here.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I was pretty proud of myself, I've carried this hatchet for thousands of miles now and this is the first time I've used it. This fire burned for about 5 minutes, I really suck at making a fire.


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    After I ate I took a walk around and took some pictures, it's really nice up here.



    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> It's probably about 9pm right now but it's still daylight.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The bathroom situation is rustic, but at least they're clean. There are locks on both the inside and outside of the doors so that you can lock the bears out. It would be a great place for a group camping trip so you could lock your buddy in there.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Of course with those great big holes in the walls the privacy aspect leaves a bit to be desired.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The rain is coming and as I go over my bike making sure it's ready for the push to Deadhorse tomorrow it begins to sprinkle.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I'm checking the tires and adjusting the chain when I find that my rear sprocket is absolutely cashed. I can only imagine that the front sprocket is in as bad or worse shape. It looks as though the decision to press on to Deadhorse has been taken out of my hands, my rear tire is in need of replacing and now I don't trust the chain & sprockets to not leave me on the side of the road; at this point the best idea is for me to head to Fairbanks tomorrow and find a place where I can get serviced on a Monday, this is going to be expensive.


    Ah yes, I have a nice infected toe! It's been red and swollen for a few days so this morning I went after it with my Gerber. Beautiful green pus comes spurting out! Now all I need is to have left a mosquito in the tent and this day will be perfect.


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    #16
  17. scopedr

    scopedr What have I done???

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Thanks for the story of your trip to Alaska. It has been enjoyable to read and the pictures are wonderful.

    Thanks
    #17
  18. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    I woke up this morning with the whole bottom of the tent wet. Since I had a platform I didn't bother using the ground sheet – big mistake. As soon as I crawled into the tent it had started to rain...Hard...and it continued most of the night. Even with the rain it felt like it was brighter all night long, above the Arctic Circle and all y'know. I woke up around 1 am. And it was brighter that it had been all day.



    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The mosquito's were out in force this morning, the worst I'd seen so far on the trip covering the tent underneath the fly. As I broke camp they were like flies on honey, I must be sweet...


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I woke up deciding that I would go to the Atigun Pass then turn around and head back to Fairbanks, camp for the night and find a dealer on Monday. My platform was awash and mosquito's were everywhere; it's not that Alaska mosquito's are bigger than their southern counterparts, they're tenacious.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I got packed up it started to rain again. Since the Dalton is mostly some weird super-slick dirt, when it gets wet it's even worse and I decided to skip the Atigun Pass and just head back.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The decision proved to probably be a wise one as what was a fairly easy road yesterday is now a real butt clencher.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> In addition to the rain it was getting a bit cold again; not as bad as it had been on the Top of the World but cold nonetheless.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Of course I got cocky on the smooth sections again and before I knew it I was going way too fast up the Beaver Slide and trying to figure out how to slow down in deep gravel without going off the side of the road; one day I'll learn. I saw the sign for the Arctic Circle and decided to see if it was empty of tourists so I could check it out on my own.



    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The mosquito's were out in force, it was unbelievable how they chased me around this place. I couldn't wait to get out of there but still hung around to see what's up.


    The front of the sign is quite nice and unblemished.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The back of the sign is where everyone leaves their mark.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> A little way up I saw an interesting rock formation off the side of the road and decided to go see what it was all about.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Turns out it was a little area called Finger Rocks. It was nice enough to look at and the rain stopped for a little while.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> It rained on and off for the entire 180 miles of the Dalton and I was soon covered in mud. This truck passed me a couple of times and managed to coat me in slime every time.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I stopped for gas and realized just how muddy I was, from the knees down I pretty much looked exactly like my bike did.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> In addition to gaining a nice covering of mud (I just imagined I was in a spa) somewhere along the way I lost my headlight cover; I could've gone back to look but sometimes you've just gotta cut your losses. Once I got off the Dalton the rain really started to come down; before long I was wet through to my skin. As I got back into Fairbanks I felt a little lost as I had nowhere planned to sleep and the Ice Park was probably pretty muddy; setting up camp in the rain wasn't that attractive either. I called Karen and she got me hooked up with a hotel on Hotwire, turns out it was the same one that cost $135 two nights ago and was now $72. Strangely enough Karen booked me a hotel right next to a “club”.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> While the room was okay, the view left a bit to be desired, I was amazed that the curtains were open when I came in as I would've done anything to not show my guests the mess next door. Of course I may have just been in the room reserved for the Hotwire customers.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I set all my stuff out to dry and watched some quality TV. Into the Wild is on and feels a bit relevant. I also got to watch a bit of some show about truckers on the Dalton, I could only nod in sympathy as one of the guys went down the Beaver Slide too hot and almost lost it.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I'm planning on getting to the dealer when they open at 9 and see what happens. Even though I felt like a failure today for not going all the way to Deadhorse I can still buck it up. The rest of the trip will be fun if I'm not worrying about tires and sprockets.
    #18
  19. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    Glad you're enjoying it; I think it took me longer to write it all down than it did for the actual ride :deal
    #19
  20. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,110
    Location:
    Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
    Today, other than getting up to the Chatanika Lodge I need to work on getting a new rear tire and chain & sprockets. I should have plenty of time to get to Chatanika, it's only 30 miles away! I wake up at 7 so I can get all my now dry gear packed up and get to the Suzuki shop when they open at 9. I'd reconnoitered last night so I know the way to the shop and don't have to worry about getting lost. I pull up in front of the shop at 8:30 only to find that their summer hours mean closed on Monday, I should've known. I make my way to the Kawasaki dealer just on the off chance they might have something in stock for a Suzuki, no luck there. I re-find a phone book and see an add for an independent shop who claims to work on all brands of motorcycles and snowmobiles but of course they don't stock any parts, however the owner told me that he might be able to come up with something and he'd give me a call later. I went back to the Kawasaki dealer and had a new rear tire installed, luckily those are not brand specific. I thought I was getting a good deal; they had a “used” Michelin Anakee in the size I needed that had only been ridden around the block, I think the sale price was right around MSRP without any Alaska Pricing added in. Being a wise consumer I asked if it would be cheaper/faster if I left the wheel on the bike or took it off myself, the service guy advised me that bringing in just the wheel would be a lot better for me. I got to work with the meager toolkit from under the seat and had the rear wheel off in no time, I then wheeled it over to the garage and sat back to wait. An hour later the mechanic rolled the wheel out, I quickly installed it on the bike and went in to pay my bill, feeling very smug about saving a few bucks. As I pulled out my wallet I got my first look at the invoice, how the heck did this bill get to be almost $300? I noticed the labor charge was $90 and guessed that I knew where the mistake had been made. I explained to the service manager that the wheel was not on the bike and that they must be charging for removing the wheel as well. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “That's the price!” Knowing that I had no choice in the matter I decided that this was a lesson learned for the next time and perhaps I should've just bought the tire and changed it out myself, after all I'd brought along tire irons but was just too lazy to use them.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I met up with another guy who I'd seen on the Dalton yesterday and we went and had some lunch. Instead of eating at a chain, which I'd been avoiding, we decided on a local place, the Bakery Restaurant; this was a big mistake. Not only was the service incredibly slow but the food was average at best, I think they could tell we were from out of town. After lunch I got a call that the independent shop had managed to wrangle up my other parts so I made sure I had the tools needed to swap out the sprockets and rode back over there. The proprietor of the store was great and told me that he'd even managed to come up with Genuine Suzuki chain and sprockets. My heart dropped as I realized that this meant he'd got an endless chain which pretty much meant I couldn't replace it myself. I informed him of this and he didn't have any better ideas so I assumed that he wasn't really set up for it either. Going on the premise that new sprockets would be only half as good as having all new parts but twice as good as what I had now I paid him for the sprockets and went on my way.


    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As the afternoon was beginning to slip away from me I made my way to the Chatanika Lodge; this was one of the places Chapa and I had made a “must see” on the trip, if only to see the fat dog. What a wonderful, rustic place! I checked in at the bar and was shown to room number 3. I asked where the best place was to do a little work on my motorcycle and she told me just to pull it under the canopy with the picnic tables and such, I could leave it there all night in case it rained.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I wondered around for a bit and took some pictures before I got to work; evidently there is a big sled contest at some point which the Lodge took very seriously, it was a bit disturbing.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> First I tackled the front sprocket but it was way too tight for the tools I had on hand. I tried everything I could think of but still couldn't pop that puppy loose. Again using my huge human brain I decided that the front really didn't look all that bad and at least getting the rear on had to make my situation half as bad as what it was right now.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I decided to go for a bit of a ride and see what was around. The bike felt a little bit smoother with the new rear sprocket, it really was cashed but I'm not denying it could all be in my head. I noticed a big thundercloud above me while I was out and it sprinkled a little bit but by this time a little rain was no big deal.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> There are a lot of what appear to be government installations up here and I began to feel a bit like Fox Mulder as I checked them all out. The first place I stopped had this well-maintained sign identifying it as some sort of antenna array. I looked around a little and
    found a gated dirt road from where I could see what looked like a big set of bleachers.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> It's a good thing the people that run the facility put this sign up on the gate because it really made me think twice about breaking through the gate to get a better look at the northern Area 51.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> After all that gate really was secure and I don't know if I could've gotten around it without really exerting myself, or at least getting my shoes muddy.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> A little further down the road was what looked like a SAM missile blasting off, of course I had to stop and see what this was all about.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Again it was more research, but their sign was much better than the last place.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> They had a sign that was much similar to the last place so I knew they were serious about keep the rabble out.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The gate here was a little more impressive and even had fence attached to it.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> A closer look revealed that the fence here was really only for looks, of course I couldn't have ridden around it but anyone could hike down there. A little closer examination revealed that I was indeed on candid camera so I guess they're a little more security conscious than I give them credit for. I gave the camera one last wave and turned back to the Lodge.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I made my way back to the lodge I noticed what looked like a big derrick across the street. I parked my bike and decided to head on over to see what it was all about. There was a trail leading that way so I figured I couldn't be going anywhere too mysterious; and besides all these secret government facilities up here had got my curiosity piqued.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> It was a short hike but after 13 days of mostly sitting it was still a bit of a climb. As I got closer I realized that I was looking at an old dredge, I'm guessing for gold but maybe that's just my romantic side coming out.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I got closer I started to get interested. If you look closely you can see the ladder in place to board the dredge, or course I had to traverse 3 feet of cold water to get to the foot of it. Luckily there were some boards around that served that purpose nicely.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> This thing had definitely been around for quite a while without any sort of care. I really wanted to go out to the end of the gantry but realized that if I fell through the floor there was no one to help me out, and besides it would only be worth it if someone was on this end to take my picture so I decided to give it a pass.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I made my way inside where I found that a lot of the equipment was still in place. I'm guessing maybe the stuff was just to big and heavy to worry about taking out. It was quite dark inside and I had to make my way around carefully.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I amused myself by trying to figure out what everything was for, there were a lot of motors and pulleys; I was lucky that the flash on my camera did a nice job of picking stuff out.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Of course here I had to pretend that I was driving the boat and messed around with the controls for awhile.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> It really was like a maze inside and while I think I did a pretty good job of exploring I wasn't able to get everywhere that I knew I could get.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Finally I made my way to the top floor at the opposite end. I would've liked to see if I could get up into the big chute but again, no one to take a picture.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> This was as high as I could get. I think there's a way to get up onto the very top of the dredge but I couldn't find a staircase or a ladder that would get me up there. It started to rain while I was in and the pattering of the raindrops started to be a little freaky. I swore that I could hear voices and I began to wonder if this thing was haunted. I could imagine the reason the dredge was sitting in this bit of nowhere was because it got stuck in the ice some winter and the whole crew died of exposure, when the ice melted the dredge was towed into this little backwater but the spirits of the frozen crew kept it from every being used again so it just sat and decayed.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I left without soaking myself too bad and gave one last look as I left; I think I may have seen something in one of the windows as I gazed back one last time but I'll never know if it was spiritual or solid.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I make my way back to the Lodge, it was raining a bit by this time but it was definitely a local shower and I knew it wouldn't last long. I wondered around for a bit and took some pictures.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Sometimes I wonder if this is what Karen and I look like when we're out and about.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> These knotty pillars are all around up here. I saw a place that sold them but didn't stop as I was afraid that I'd find something that I really couldn't do without and I'd have to explain why I bought this huge piece of wood and had it shipped home. Maybe next time.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The guest portion of the lodge was old but clean. I think there were 6 or eight rooms and we all shared a common bathroom, well at least one for men and one for women. It is a hunting lodge that's open all year round so they're not really big on luxury; but I guess when it's down to 40 degrees below zero just being somewhere out of the cold that has central heating (and beer) is a luxury.




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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Velvet paintings are all over the place, and I thought the fake hanging plant in my room was a nice touch.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I made my way out to the common area, these people seem to like animals quite a bit and I especially like the turtles.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Yes that's Santa and Mrs. Claus back there, now you know where they stay in the summer.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Not only is it Christmas year round at the Chatanika Lodge but they like all parts of the animal, live or dead they'll find a place for them.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> Unfortunately this is the only moose I saw on the whole trip.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I think by the hump on the shoulders that this is a grizzly bear. Now, can anyone tell me by his body language whether he's a threat? Thankfully this was the closest I got to a bear on the whole trip.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> I sat down in the bar for what turned out to be a one of the best meals of the trip, I'd heard the rumors but you know how that goes. As I was waiting for my food the fattest beagle in existence waddled out to keep me company. I petted him for awhile and he settled down for a nap next to me. I hate to say it but I'm not sure this dog is long for this world. As I was eating he would constantly make this sound like hocking up a loogey, I'd look over just to make sure he was still breathing but if the food would've been a bit less tasty he may have put me off my dinner.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> The entire inside of the bar area is papered with dollar bills that people have written their names and short messages on. I can't believe I didn't get more pictures of the inside but perhaps I did and they were lost to my faulty photo cards. As luck would have it this one was right next to me at my table; I was going to be staying with my friend Melissa in Seattle, she's been called Sweet Melissa at least once so I felt like perhaps a person I knew had sat where I was sitting at one point.


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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> As I was walking back to my room I passed what just may be the most disturbing picture of the Duke that I've ever seen.



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    <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> My room was small but comfy, it had a bed, a chair and a sink in it. Of course it also had a TV and I was looking forward to killing some brain cells for awhile. I soon found that although my TV came with a remote it was not much good for much other than turning the TV on and off and changing the volume. It appears that the Chatanika Lodge has only one satellite hookup and it's fed directly into the bar area. I had no control over what channel I was watching and was completely at the mercy of the bartender. I now know what Karen goes through when I'm in charge of the remote; I'd be getting interested in whatever was playing and all of a sudden the channel would change. Finally they settled on a channel showing movies from the 80's and I drifted off to sleep accompanied by Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines.


    For a day that started out pretty rough this turned out to be one of the best so far.
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