Of Moose & Men....an epic journey to Alaska and the Top of the World

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SpecialAgentNancy, Jul 13, 2013.

  1. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    597
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Spent day 5 relaxing in Seattle and woke up early for the first of many ferries to come. Bainbridge. It was slightly drizzly and I had knots in my stomach. The previous summer, my ride had many ferries and they were always unpleasant. Get their early and then wait a long time....

    This was no different...although as a commuter ferry, that wasn't necessary. I met a couple of guys who were headed there for the weekend on a Triumph.

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    The view of the Seattle skyline from the ferry was beautiful.

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    Made it to Port Angeles where my dad helped me find a nice place for lunch and I made my way to the next ferry.
    Guess who I ran into??? Aaron. One of the boys from the Mt Rainier loop I did a couple days earlier where I tried to deter them from taking the 25 which was closed. This is when Aaron told me the whole story and we had a good laugh about it.
    Another fella also came up to me and asked if I was SpecialAgentNancy and offered up that he'd been following my thread on the Alaska forum trying to find a riding partner and then asked what made me change my mind from taking the Anacortes ferry to Sydney.


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    Contrary to how it usually works, we were loaded last.

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    Aaron and I shared a bench with a nice couple on vacation and once we arrived in port, went to visit his wife (they run a kayak business together).

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    Aaron offered to give me the tour of Victoria on his V-Strom so off we went.

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    Sometimes it's fun sitting on the back....take better photos that way.

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    Gorgeous neighborhoods.

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    Now I might be partial because I'm originally from Montreal but it always seems to me that no matter how 'low-income' a neighborhood is, the yards are always well groomed compared to U.S. cities.

    We rode around different neighborhoods and the university.

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    Lots of harbors with boats. This is Jim Clark's yacht.

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    Aaron offered me a place for the night but I had an invitation from Yatman just outside of Victoria.

    This was my room for the night. Flannel sheets and super soft comfy bed.

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    Marleen cooked burgers and made a delicious salad for dinner.

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    That night, Wyatt's mom came over....what a pistol she was. Very beautiful still, full of pep and vitality and a strong personality. I enjoyed chatting with her but the eyelids were heavy and I headed off to bed.

    The next morning we had a hearty breakfast and got ready to leave.

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    I had nearly 400 miles to go to get to Port Hardy for my ferry the next day and Wyatt and Marlene rode about a third of the way with me to Nanaimo.

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    I didn't really stop much....to be honest, I was rather disappointed with the whole Vancouver Island. I'd read a lot of RR about how amazing the ride along the island was this or that but all the way to Campbell River, it was just a 2 lane divided highway without much in terms of scenic views.
    Perhaps what everyone was talking about were all the smaller dead end roads that branch off from the 19. Once past Campbell River however, the road went down to a 2 way, single lane road with some twists and Port Hardy itself was a cute, sleepy town.

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    Some gorgeous flowers, in fact, a veritable flowerhouse.

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    Checked into my 'anti-septic' hostel. Squeeky, metal bunkbeds with a cheap, thin plastic mattress.

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    Hit a little bit of rain but nothing too heavy. Walked along the waterfront.

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    Went to bed early as I needed to be at the port by 5am for the ferry to Prince Rupert. Some funny events were to come....
    #21
  2. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    538
    Location:
    Pacific NW
    Thanks for the great ride report so far. Will be following you as you travel and enjoy your ride.
    #22
  3. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    597
    Location:
    San Francisco
    My first big, long voyage ferry where I was warned tie down straps are a must. Port Hardy to Prince Rupert.

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    I was also looking around for all those 'other motorcyclists' I was told I would see in increasing numbers as I rode North. Ahem, none yet....just one lonely Tiger and his horned helmet rider S.A.N. The deck master came up the ramp and looked at the lanes of vehicles waiting to board. We were all waiting a really long time. 3 hours in fact.
    Anyway, he actually called my big boy a "scooter". That's right. My 500 lb Tiger 800 XC, a scooter. So the ladies at the top of the ramp directing the traffic and I had a good chuckle because when it was time to send me in, they told him they were sending the "moped" in.

    After the disappointing ride on Vancouver Island, I was wondering if this $400 ferry ride was hyped up too. The actual ferry was a modern, sleek and comfortable ship. So I found a reclining leather chair, kicked up my feet and plugged in my ipod.

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    The clouds were fluffy and colorful with enough sun peaking through to make good photos.

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    and this inside passage was as impressive, if not even better than anyone had said it would be....I got a bit hungry and headed to the fancy restaurant.

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    I ordered wings....yes I love chicken wings. My favorite chicken wings are Hooters 3 mile island, drumsticks only, breaded, wet with blue cheese.
    Just thought I'd mention that since you've seen this before already.
    I also change my diet a bit when I ride. Fruits for breakfast or a salad for lunch just don't cut it for me when I'm riding 300 miles a day. I am a steak affectionado. Give me plenty of bacon with my breakfast too....

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    During the voyage past sleepy coastal towns and both manned and un-manned lighthouses, we passed a Disney cruise ship which billowed the Disney theme at 1,000 decibels. Imagine you are the parent of two hyper-active kids kooked up on a ship for a week with that Disney tune blaring over and over all day long..... no thanks.

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    Arrived in Prince Rupert at 9pm and it was still bright out.

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    Rode straight to the hostel.

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    Checked into my 3rd story (asked for 1st floor so I wouldn't have to shlep all my gear upstairs) back facing room (asked for front, street facing so I could see my motorcycle). These people can't follow instructions worth a damn...and here again, another painfully low ceiling.

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    I will say that it had its comforts though and a kitchen clean enough to cook in.

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    So I bought some groceries, including that thick, fatty rib eye steak I was craving and made breakfast the next morning.

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    I had a day to kill in Prince Rupert because the Alaska Marine Highway didn't depart for Haines until the next day so I walked around and acquainted myself with this cute town.

    City hall was art deco with the motif's being indigeonous.

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    Learned that Prince Rupert accounts for 70% of the Asia-North America ocean container business.

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    Went to a museum where I saw this cool 'wood turned' box made with a single piece of wood.

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    And Kul Mom on my ADV thread suggested the fire house museum too, where they had a real REO Speedwagon!

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    What is the "riot act"
    really?

    Didn't crop this photo on purpose...would have been a cute play on the eyes though to see a boat floating in the water at sunset with the tail of a whale like that....

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    The original train tracks through town to service the ocean freight business.

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    And wandered into this cute store and found my favorite nick nacks....Hello Kitty!

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    Met up with Tim back at the hostel later in the day, he was going to catch the same ferry to Haines the next morning. We talked a bit about tires and bikes (the usual ADV secret handshake stuff) and agreed to go together the next day.
    The next morning had some more fun in store that involved some fried chicken and the ship's captain.
    #23
  4. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,494
    Location:
    Antigua , Guatemala
    Great RR, brings back lots of good memories .
    Keep it coming and be ready for the best : Alaska and the Alaskans :freaky
    #24
  5. grumpybear

    grumpybear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    Oddometer:
    371
    Location:
    Rural NE Alberta
    Nice to see pictures of Prince Rupert in the sunshine. PR has the distinction of having the fewest sunshine days in all of Canada.

    Enjoying the RR.
    grump
    #25
  6. mario94901

    mario94901 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    55
    Location:
    Northern Ca, Motorcycle Heaven
    It was great riding with you Nancy. Glad to see the trip went off without a hitch :D
    #26
  7. IVAN38

    IVAN38 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    Veyrins , FRANCE
    Hello Nancy,
    It is a great pleasure to look at your photos :lurk
    They are magnificent
    Thank you for this report
    Continuous like that... change nothing :thumb

    See you soon and safe journey
    #27
  8. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Oddometer:
    3,094
    Location:
    Corral de Tierra CA, Ketchum ID
    Nice trip so far.
    #28
  9. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    597
    Location:
    San Francisco
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    I promised some funny shenanigans. Here we go. Woke up early and had breakfast but discovered Tim had already left. Perhaps he went for breakfast before the agonizing 3 hour wait in line....so I headed to the ferry terminal and was waved on through. I parked and checked in to get my ticket and sticker for the bike and took my place in line #7 behind a bunch of cars. I spotted these old timers. Two couples with dogs heading to Prudhoe Bay. I told them to be careful when those trucks wail by them and watch out for fist sized flying rocks.

    Meet Dave. He's a musician and brought along this ukulele. Judy his wife was making sandwiches and then the unmistakable smell of fried chicken wafted over....I went nearly mad with hunger, my mouth was salivating and I began to consider knocking on the doors to all the campers, convinced someone was making fried chicken while we all waited....

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    Now let me take a moment and talk about Dave and Judy. Nice folks and by golly, I ran into them twice over the next couple of weeks. There are only so many roads in Alaska so it's inevitable that you'll see the same people again. I experienced this after the D2D event, pulling into gas stations or camp grounds and seeing familiar faces and bikes....I'll mention Dave and Judy again twice when I saw them next.

    I walked back to my bike as it seemed we were getting close to boarding and a nice man in a white shirt came over to me to say hello. I joked with him that I was about to lose it over the smell of fried chicken and he assured me that the ship's cook was making it. I gave him a cranky 'I haven't eaten in 3 hours look' and he assured me that I would have fried chicken.

    I told him if he was pulling my leg I was going to personally come and find him. He smiled and walked off. Turns out that man was the ship's captain. Captain Rudini to be exact.

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    Once I secured the bike, dropped my bags and heard over the ships P.A. system...."would specialagentnancy come to the purser's office". I followed the first mate to the ship's mess hall.

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    Yep, that's 2 plates of fried chicken you see there on the table. I had 4 pieces of fried chicken and boy was it delicious!

    Tim gallantly offered to share his cabin after I told him I was going to the solarium and a little nervous about that. We agreed on a sufficient amount and I offered to buy him dinner in addition to that. He got a cabin with a view.

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    I had the top bunk

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    And our tiny but clean bathroom (something I ate in Prince Rupert didn't agree with me so I was grateful for this).

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    Settled into the observation lounge for even more coastal beauty. The ferry was quite a bit older than the BC ferry I took the day before but it had it's charm. No wi-fi so we had to actually talk to each other and socialize like human beings. Met this interesting man who was native tlingit, pronounced "clinket" who carved silver and gold jewelry. He was humming a native american tune that had me enthralled and after some conversation offered me half of his Moose sandwich! Like I said, this trip was all about trying and doing things I couldn't here and not only was seeing a moose at the top of the list, but so was eating one.

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    The ferry was 5 hours late leaving Prince Rupert due to mechanical issues....and this was fortunate and unfortunate as it allowed us to navigate through the famous Wrangell narrows during daylight and pushed me to go straight through through to Skagway to save time.

    This is called the green island lighthouse. Seems this 52 year old attendant is looking for a wife.

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    Came into Ketchikan just before sunset.

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    So I put together a group of passengers; Judy, Dave, Tim, Scotty and Larry and we all piled up in a taxi and went to Saxon totem park.

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    and we all know this famous outline....

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    Next stop Skagway!
    #29
  10. Animal Instinct

    Animal Instinct Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2013
    Oddometer:
    778
    Location:
    Wichita Falls, TX
    ....here in the drought-stricken, roasting, Texas panhandle. Our forecast is in the 100's for the next 10 days. Your report is a lifeline. Thanks for bringing us along!:clap
    #30
  11. merczephyr

    merczephyr Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
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    Location:
    Plattsmouth, NE
    Subbed! And nice Tiger. That's my favorite color!
    #31
  12. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    597
    Location:
    San Francisco
    The Alaska Marine Highway changed Alaska in important ways. Captain Rudini told me how whole towns would come out to the docks to cheer the ferry's arrival. Here is a great shot of one of the other ships.

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    We arrived in Wrangell

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    On board they have park rangers who hold talks on Alaska. The wilderness. The wildlife. The towns we dock at. Thanks to her, we found that some very old stones with pictographs were just across from the dock in front of the library.

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    Rushed back to the ferry....still trying to make up time from the late departure and missing the tide. Next was the Wrangell Narrows and I had a first row seat on the bridge.

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    The view from my seat

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    The first view of the narrows.

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    Over 50 navigation markers and usually traversed at night. It must be impressive when you only see the green and red markers and the coast dotted with sleepy homes.

    Here is one of the markers up close.

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    I spent a lot of time watching the water for whales and other marine life and was surprised by how many logs were floating in the water. This somewhat explains it.

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    Another small community.

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    Mark in Anchorage told me to ask for Stan. Turns our they are related. Stan was a sweet sweet man. In fact I made friends with nearly the whole crew over our 2 day voyage and was excited to learn that my return ferry would be the same ship and Rudini would be there.

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    Finally arrived in Skagway. The original plan was to arrive in Haines, stay the night and then ferry over the next morning to meet up with my childhood girlfriend Courtnay. Turns out, the delay made it a wiser choice just to go straight there and ride North from Skagway. It added 50 miles to the total trip to Tok but they were a gorgeous 50 miles.

    Coming off the ferry nearly last.

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    With my very special home made moose antlers.

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    According to Courtnay, when her friend taking these photos saw me, she immediately said, 'Yep, that looks like one of your friends'.

    What a cute town Skagway was, dirt roads and wooden sidewalks.

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    And some things just don't change...for example, Courtnay's love affair with big sunglasses.

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    For those of you who know Skagway...you'll certainly know this building. Her husband Brad built it and told me how many pieces of wood he used. (as a good accountant on sabbatical, I immediately forgot what that number was)

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    And my darling friend.

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    She has 4 dogs, most of them lap.

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    And this lovely lady...

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    Brad is a hunter (big surprise) and loves Cllint Eastwood. Yep, all those guns are family heirlooms.

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    Yep, he hunted this bad boy. I even had a mountain goat burger for dinner.

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    She brought me to my hostel.

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    Big, comfortable house. bottom bunk.

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    Big clean bathroom.

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    The first thing she took me to visit was the brothel house at the Onion.
    This red lantern outside signified the type of establishment it was.

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    The main saloon where patrons were received.

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    Some fun signs

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    The money hole. Copper piping that ran downstairs where the working girls would drop the gold.

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    Actual bed from the day...alarmingly small.

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    Read the original use of Lysol and cringe.

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    Meet Margot. Buxom beauty with big red curls.

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    Next thing we did was take the whitepass summit train ride. View of Skagway from halfway up the mountain.

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    And a view of the train tracks to come up above.

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    Brad came along and brought his binoculars. He immediately spotted probably a dozen mountain goats and tried patiently to point them out to me.

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    This mountain top looked like a mouthful of broken teeth.

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    All I can say is thank god we didn't go over this old rickety wooden bridge.

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    Got to the top and the frozen lake at the border and turned around.

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    She's gonna hate me for posting this one....

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    It was a great day. We also visited the gold rush cemetery after dinner which was very special with all the old 1898 tombstones. The next day would prove to be the most difficult in terms of distance and problems with the bike but I did have an angel watching over me, two in fact...
    #32
  13. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2001
    Oddometer:
    1,973
    Location:
    in The Cloud
    Nancy,

    I'm really enjoying your RR. I love Victoria and really liked the pix. Keep up the excellent work, and ride safely.

    Steve
    #33
  14. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    597
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Russ, my riding partner partway home is from Texas and hit quite a bit of heat coming to Alaska while I seemed not only to avoid cold but also rain which I was frequently warned about.
    #34
  15. Jimmer

    Jimmer emboldened lurker

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    33
    Location:
    Moreno Valley, CA
    Subscribed :clap:clap:clap
    #35
  16. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    538
    Location:
    Pacific NW
    Looks like a great tour of the Skagway area! Keep em coming and ride safe! Thank you!
    #36
  17. B50Paul

    B50Paul Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2010
    Oddometer:
    204
    Location:
    Salt spring Island the Hawaii of Canada
    Nancy keep it coming , a five star report !
    Was in Skagway in 1974 on the SS Prince George a small cruise ship . Through Wrangel Narrows many times , picked up 10,000 tons of logs there in 1999 on the logship Haida Brave .
    #37
  18. McRuss

    McRuss Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    248
    Location:
    Texas Hill Country
    Hi Nancy,

    Enjoying reading about, and seeing great photos of, the first days of your ride. It is HOT here in Tejas now, 100 plus every day, so photos of cool stuff helps!
    #38
  19. MoToad

    MoToad Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Nelson BC, fer now.
    Hey Nancy,
    Good for you girl. AK is the only part of my Continental ride I have yet to complete. Curious about your route. Do u have a map to show us your route?
    Toad
    #39
  20. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    597
    Location:
    San Francisco
    No which is why I post in each thread the route and road numbers. I might go back and put in a map but in the meantime you can see my route through the posts.

    For example, my first post had this at the beginning.

    So we chose to go the long way round: 32 north from Chico > 36 East > The the Mooney Road 'shortcut' which started as gravel but quickly went to pavement > to the 44 West and 89 South to Manzanita Lake campground.
    #40