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. UncleRandy

    UncleRandy Adventurer

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    Eagle River, Alaska
    Special Agent Nancy, thank you! Awesome report about your adventures and your personal experiences along the way.
    #61
  2. VFR

    VFR Been here awhile

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    Finally caught up on your latest adventure. I've never thought about riding to Alaska but it sure does look great in your pictures. Enjoying your trip from afar...
    #62
  3. DaFoole

    DaFoole Pacific Avenger...

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    Great stuff. Keep it comin'!
    #63
  4. riverbound51

    riverbound51 So many roads. So little time

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    Looking to make it up there next year. Definitely taking notes on highways, routes and stopping points for the night. I never thought about hostels. Thanks for sharing this!
    #64
  5. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    Let me tell you that the color pink had a profound effect wherever I went in Alaska. The choice was a very practical one; it's made of terry cloth so I could put it on right after a shower and not have to bother with a towel, it's soft enough to double as PJ's, and most important of all, after being stinky, or sweaty, or bundled like the Michelin Man all day, it helped me to feel feminine again, at least for a little bit.

    It stirred many men to act a bit weird....Mark shared with me a saying in Alaska...because there's such a different ratio of women to men, if you're a man, just get in line...

    I'll also mention for any women wishing to travel there, they should know that social norms just don't exist here. Men are polite and helpful but they are also rather forward. I'll give a couple of examples. I was coming out of a cafe and eyeing the tables around me for a place to sit, all were taken but a nice fella jumped up with his coffee in hand and just grabbed my arm and shoved me down into his seat. Later that day, after getting my hair done, I walked over to some people I knew and chatted with them about it and some random guy I don't know just ran his fingers through my hair without even saying hello first.

    Both events were good natured but by general definition could be pretty creepy too. So I guess I've now addressed my "men" part of the title.
    #65
  6. vicster

    vicster Long timer

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    He's right, you know. I was a kid living in Sitka when the ferries started running and it was a HUGE deal. The whole town turned out for the Malaspina (??). I'm retired now and hoping to make it back there next year.
    #66
  7. hwunger

    hwunger Been here awhile

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    "....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..."


    You must have stayed on the newer Hwy #19 and not taken the 'scenic route' which is by the water, known as Hwy #19A ? .... that's where you find all the little shops, etc.

    Nice AK write up ... but no Stewart-Cassiar or Alaska Hwy ? .... guess it's a long way from San Francisco eh ?

    :)
    #67
  8. McRuss

    McRuss Been here awhile

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    She did a little of the Alcan, from the junction of the Klondike Hwy and the Alcan to Delta Junction and then back from Tok to Hainse Junction, had the pleasure of the worst frost heaves TWICE.
    #68
  9. C-Stain

    C-Stain Long timer

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    :lurk

    Is there more? I'm really enjoying your RR. I was going to make a comment about the pink...but somebody beat me to it. :lol3

    Anxiously awaiting more...
    #69
  10. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    Yes yes, about 2 more weeks of fun....just need to set some time aside.
    #70
  11. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    Meet Russ from Texas. We had breakfast together and discussed the rest of the trip together at some length. We were going to share the ride back all the way to the border of BC and WA. Russ is from Texas and known as McRuss on ADV.

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    I decided to leave Dawson City earlier than he was ready to leave because for once it was clear and sunny and it was important to me to ride on dry roads. So I met up with the other Russ from Seward and his gang of misfits and off we went. We got rained on a bit but nothing to whine about.

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    Nice shot of Russ coming around a bend. He was always racing ahead of the group to get action shots of the rest of us. I liked that he too stood on the footpegs rather than sit. The Top of the World highway is super easy dirt, nothing to be concerned about. Most riders went 70+mph on it but as a general rule, I stand on the footpegs when on any dirt or gravel....you just never know. Plus it's easier for me to steer with the footpegs.

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    Not a particularly beautiful photo but one worth showing...the RV's in Alaska are as bad as the mosquitoes.

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    They are everywhere. They are driven by foreign and domestic alike. And they all have one thing in common....no experience driving these things. So take all your turns as far from the center because most likely there is one of these moving houses on the other side of the turn hogging the center of the road.

    We went back to Tok and stayed at Thompson's Eagle where I was a sissy and took a shower at the campground next door for $5. It was much more quiet as most people just pushed on through back to their homes in one day. McRuss arrived about a couple hours after me and said he got dumped on almost the whole way...the rain is so unpredictable in Alaska.

    We woke up early the next day and headed to Delta Junction where I noticed that younger women in Alaska really like eye shadow and stopped for breakfast. Sorry no photo of the cute girls with garish eye shadow, you'll have to go to Delta Junction for that.

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    Hemmed and hawed about whether to get the full or half order of biscuits and gravy. I was burping for hours after this.

    We took the Richardson highway 4 South from there and finally saw the pipeline!

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    My father came to Alaska to work on the pipeline when I was a kid. I vaguely remembered seeing it but I was only 5 at the time.

    Then we rode by a frozen lake (Summit Lake) and saw these beautiful avalanche slides.

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    The boys in Alaska sure do like their guns.

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    Turned off on the Denali Highway 8 heading West. Met up with other riders at the last gas fuel up where the road turned to gravel. Got the 411 on the road; soft shoulders, stay in the center, some large loose gravel from wash outs. One rider that had just come through got a flat....bet she was riding "dual-sport" tires. *sniker*
    Confident on my TKC's, a good night's rest, a reliable riding partner and enough food in my stomach to regurgitate to a hungry cub we set off on our last stretch of dirt. 100 miles of it.

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    The weather held but it was dry and dusty and we rode a good 2 miles apart just to keep it bearable. I've ridden on dirt with groups enough to know that the perfect speed is between 40-45 to keep the dust down, stay constant and easy on the throttle and for chrissakes don't pass then stop then pass again, then stop again. You make everyone else eat your dust constantly, it's just plain inconsiderate. (you know who you are)

    We stopped once, halfway through at the sluice box.

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    Nice photo of Russ coming up behind me.

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    So this road was a lot less fun. Russ told me he had the handlebars tank slapping more than once. There were a fair number of patches of fist sized loose gravel in long patches of 100-300 feet at a time. No fun. Thinking back, I'm a bit surprised I didn't take a spill but then I think the formula is 1/3 skill, 1/3 equipment and 1/3 nerve. Sometimes you just have to ride it out and hope for the best.

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    Made it through and found our hostel/campsite. This was by far the cutest place I'd stayed out in Alaska.

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    Right by a river.

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    In the shadow of the Denali. Boots of failed hiking attempts?

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    Russ got one of these tents. Complete with mosquitoes.

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    I rented a bunk in the female dorm.

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    Take your shoes off when inside.

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    The rock stacking thing is big in Alaska.

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    And the ice cold stream shrunk my feet back to their normal size.

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    Walked across the street to a pizza joint that made a darned good pizza.

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    This marked my furthest point on the whole trip, from here on out it would be going home. I was a bit sad but also felt grateful that I'd made it, had a wonderful time, met many fun and zany people and had nominal challenges.
    But there was still some adventure to be had....
    #71
  12. BcDano

    BcDano One Lucky Dude

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    Nice RR, loving the write up and photos. Laughted my ass off when I saw your tag line "in search of pork".
    #72
  13. zoid

    zoid Dirty Old Hippie

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    Where the N stands for Nowledge

    Who needs pictures of young women with garish eye shadow when you have a picture of biscuits and gravy! :lol3. Enjoying your RR, photos, and writing style.
    #73
  14. SA Moose

    SA Moose Adventurer

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    Johannesburg, RSA
    Somehow your story caught my eye - have no idea why...:D
    #74
  15. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    Any good ADV'er knows that a good ride always includes either bacon or BBQ
    #75
  16. curlesw

    curlesw 05 RT n00b

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    Location:
    Round Hill, VA
    Enjoying your ride report, good pictures and narrative. No doubt your are eating well..your report makes me hungry and want to go on a ride...keep it coming!

    Wayne C.
    #76
  17. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    NomadGal sent me a PM saying she's be darned impressed if I was able to stick to my schedule. It was a 35 day trip and so far so good.

    After having done 5 multi-country/state rides over 3-6 weeks each time, I can say that my level of success and enjoyment is directly proportional to the effort I put into research and planning ahead of time.

    Adventure riding is not a vacation. It's work.
    It can be minimal if you aren't bothered by missing something historical or beautiful or sleeping in a tent behind a gas station or missing your flight home if your bike breaks down.
    It can take months if you want riding partners, see important things along the way and enjoy good accommodations and food and have back up plans for emergencies.
    This ride to Alaska as you all know was my first long distance solo ride. I did it because of special considerations like, US speaking, USD and CAD currency (simple and easy to get), I knew people about halfway there, I had a base camp in Anchorage with Mark and also some homestays from people on ADV along the way. I had a solid back up plan with points of exit (places to store the bike and access a bus or flight home all along the way) so whatever could go wrong, I had options.

    But enough about that....time to talk about one of those wonderful home stays in Wasilla with J&K on ADV.

    Their massive house.

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    Got to wash the Tiger. It was incredible how much mud came off my bike and I hardly rode in any rain!

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    My room downstairs with my own private bath.

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    Met the in-laws who were excellent hosts and we ate delicious homemade dumplings.

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    And meet Jade and Kelly

    Kelly's baby.

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    Jade's baby.

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    and meet Stella. The sweetest dog I've met yet.

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    She was very shy but I eventually got her to relax enough to let me scratch her tummy.

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    They had a really good washing machine so I threw in everything including my boots because the zipper was so packed with dirt and mud that I was worried about breaking the darned thing if I kept forcing it.

    I had a great night of sleep, avoiding going into Anchorage and had plans to meet up with Russ at Sheep Lodge for one last serving of that 3 berry crisp.
    We agreed to ride from Anchorage all the way to Beaver Creek in Yukon and skip Tok to get as much miles as possible covered. We had a ferry to catch in 2 days time and no room for error.

    It was mostly uneventful. No cool animal sightings. Some good food again at Fast Eddy's. A light rain just before the border. The same 5 miles of dirt right after crossing then arrived at a campground and pitched camp.

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    The thing I was pushing for was to make Kroschel's the next day.

    Get ready for some amazing photos.....
    #77
  18. mikeprod92211

    mikeprod92211 Desert Rat

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    589
    Sure enjoyed your trip report so far...
    I attempted a trip in that direction more than 30 years ago..... keep telling myself..... must do it again!
    Thanks Nancy for great write up!
    #78
  19. SpecialAgentNancy

    SpecialAgentNancy & your little dog 2!

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    By this time, I had Russ equally excited about Kroschels and happy to wake up early to get on the road and get to Haines as quickly as possible.

    Steve Kroschel told me he had an organized tour for 11:45 and 1:45 and it would cost $50. If we didn't make it, the cost for just the two of us would be too expensive. We had about 300 miles to go from Beaver Creek to his special place, some of it under construction....where I got my flat. We made it to destruction bay pretty quickly and once past the dirt sections, stopped for breakfast at the gas station/hotel/restaurant.

    The unfriendly girl at the register had a funny accent that I thought might be from my home of Quebec...turns out I was right and in her defense, I'd be pretty cranky too if I had a gas station job in the middle of nowhere with a population of under a hundred.

    We made good time to Haines Junction and went through the high elevation pass in some heavy fog with only a few cars going the other direction. Passed the border back into Alaska and found the turn off for Kroschel easy enough. There was a small group of people waiting out front and we parked the bikes and grabbed the cameras and made the first tour.

    Our first experience, meet Isis the wolf.

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    What a pretty face!

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    As you can tell from the blury image, she was very active and didn't sit still long. Russ told me later that when I left the group to go get my second camera because the battery was drained from my Sony NEX that Isis got very agitated and Steve commented that she knew I was leaving and was not happy about that. I got back in time to get a few photos and participate in the group howl that eventually got a $2 howl out of her.

    Next, a gorgeous hawk.

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    He explained how their actual eyeball isn't a ball at all, it's more of a wiener like a hot dog that burrows to the back of their head. That's why they have to turn their heads so much to see as their vision is limited to what is directly in front. Someone look that one up....

    My father is always saying this to me. In fact all of the buildings had important life messages written on them.

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    Next was the foxes. I did see one fox just outside of Whitehorse on my way to Haines Junction but here we had a couple. Poorly posed again. Friggin digital cameras and their stupid delay. Still kicking myself for draining my battery on the Sony NEX overnight.

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    And let me tell you that the smells emanating from these different animals so far was so thick you could taste it. Sure added something to the overall experience. Zoo's are sterile and the animals lethargic. Not at Kroschel's. This was to be a common theme with Steve, lots of kissing.

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    Next the bobcat. Look at those hind legs. Seems they only hunt snowshoe rabbits so their legs are proportionally as strong to jump in hot pursuit.

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    Sooooo sneaky looking.

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    Meet Kitty. A ton of gorgeous grizzly behind a rickety fence.

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    Now this little thing was about as cute as my grindle teddy but not nearly as cuddly....unless you touch her belly, which was in fact quite soft.

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    When he gave her this leaf, instead of eating it, she propped it up in front of her face as if to hide behind it then frozen perfectly still until he nudged her gently to let he know it was ok to move again.

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    Contrary to popular belief, porcupines can't project their quills.

    This was a mink.

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    AND here friends is where the "Moose" part of my title comes in. I kissed a moose!

    The one on the right is the lucky recipient of my lips.

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    Look at those long legs, they come up to my shoulders!

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    BTW moose love banana's just like the minions in despicable me.

    I think this was a stoat, and there was no kissing, in fact this little bugger moved so fast that I could hardly photograph him.

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    The second to last beauty was this silver fox. Companion to polar bears.

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    Now get ready....a real live wolverine!

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    Looked like he was being attacked doesn't it. Nope....Steve kissed this monster right on the mouth over and over and wrestled playfully with it. He even massages the gums with his fingers! That's right, he puts his fingers in that fanged mouth. It was so clear to everyone that not only was he a very special person but he'd spent his life cultivating these very important relationships.

    That's right folks, killer on a leash.

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    I've got some video of Steve playing with this one....but not sure how to get this up on ADV. PM me your personal email if you want the clip. It's quite a sight!

    This is the main area of Kroschel's.

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    The overall place was probably much bigger and the way I understood it, we only saw about 20% of the total animals housed there. If you go to Alaska, this is the one MUST SEE. I can't stress it enough, everything else on my trip just pales in comparison. It was a magical 2 hours that I will never forget.
    #79
  20. VFR

    VFR Been here awhile

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    Now that's what I would call an adventure!!! You are correct, the zoos & wild animal parks pale by comparison. Great trip, I'm following along for this one too.
    #80