Tanning A Ginger Tip-to-Tip

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by SeanPNW, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. rboett

    rboett posser noob 205

    Joined:
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    nwa
    Thanks for taking me along, virtually, I don't take up any room and weigh zero pounds!:clap
    I did the alcan in '72 in a jeep when most of it was dirt, great memories! (maybe one day I'll get those 35mm slides digitized)
    :lurk
    #21
  2. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

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    Saweet, you should definitely get those slides digitized! When you do you should post them up on ADV:thumb
    #22
  3. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
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    Dust-2-Dawson is the name of the motorcycle 'event' that we were going to and the name seemed fitting as we literally went from dusty no-mans land to all of a sudden winding up in a town in the middle of nowhere called Dawson. We finally got in around 9pm and although we had gotten up at 4:30am and been riding for 15 hours we were both pretty stoked to have made it in time for the start of the 20th anniversary of the Dust-2-Dawson meet-up, it seemed like our exhaustion was all but forgotten. The history of the meet-up – and it is in fact a meet-up “NOTA rally”, is important to understanding the significance of the gathering I want to paint the picture. Seeing as it has already been well described before I’ll let the people who truly know about it do the talking.

    The quote below describes the background of Dust-2-Dawson as seen by one of its original founders who goes by the ADVrider inmate name “Fighter”:

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    Ca$h Register, along with Jim Coleman and myself are the original founders of the Dust To Dawson (D2D) “gathering” back in 1992. It was hatched over a few beers in the Dawson’s Midnight Sun where we first met.


    A little pre-history.

    In Spring of 1990 the Alaska Last Frontier BMW Club here in Alaska receive a letter from an Oklahoma rider by the name Ca$h Register. In that letter Ca$h related this story:

    Ca$h and his long time riding buddy Jim had planned a mega-trip to Alaska for 1990 and were going to attend our little local rally. They had pre-paid their entry fee and about a month prior to lift-off Ca$h collapsed in a restaurant. Heart attack.


    Jim was with him at the time and tried in vain to resuscitate his best friend. Paramedics on the scene weren’t having much luck either. At Jim’s insistence they hit the go button on the paddles a third time and Ca$h’s heart lit back up. Obviously their much anticipated trip to the North was on hold. OBTW, to this day… Ca$h’s business cards include the phrase “You only live twice” Our local club, upon reading that tearful letter and hearing the story, sent a refund to Ca$h and Jim and included for each of them a club license plate frame.


    Fast forward to June of 1992.

    I was on a solo run to Dawson City, YT and saw two well decked out PD’s parked in front of the Midnight Sun. The Oklahoma plates with the LFMC frames caught my attention immediately. It didn’t take me long to determine who owned those two GS’s. Ca$h and Jim had finally made it to the North country after an extensive rehab. Doctors to this day are at loss to medically explain what had happened.

    I introduced myself to these two holligans and another chapter or two was written.

    That evening over a few adult beverages the three of us hatched a plan to tackle the Dempster and try to make the 500 mile run to Inuvik. The road had been closed for several days due to high water on the Peel River. Lack of gas at Eagle Plain was most definitely our main issue. We waited a day or two for the road to re-open and made our break. The three of us had a wonderful ride. I remember Ca$h standing on his head at the Arctic Circle. It was his 60th birthday. Both Ca$h and Jim were excellent riders as I later substantiated on my visit to Ca$h’s hometown of Dill City, Oklahoma… the summer after we all met. Two walls of Cash’s shop were smothered with trophies and plaques that both of them had earned.

    Jim’s life was tragically cut short on Halloween eve 1994 while returning home from Cash’s place…… his R100GS was no match for the Suburban.


    On the original 1992 Alaska trip Jim and Ca$h had taken a side trip to Eagle and both were so taken by the beauty and solitude that they made a pact with each other. The deal was struck that when either of them died, the survivor would return to the North Country with the remains of the fallen. A year later Ca$h gave me a call from Whitehorse.


    “Fite… I’m on my way! Got Jim with me in the tank bag. We were doin’ a hundred on the Casiar and Jim was laughing his head off”.


    I will never forget that call, nor the one I had received on the previous Halloween night.


    Ca$h was retracing the exact route the two of them had taken in ’92. He camped in the same places, hit the same cafes, took pictures from the same vantage points. Had a beer at the “Sun”. Jim’s final ride with his life-long riding partner Ca$h was just as it was the first time they came north.


    Ca$h (with Jim in the tank bag) rounded a hard right hander about 10 miles south of Eagle and there on that windswept mountainside stood a single tree. The anemic looking black spruce, that had survived a myriad of brutal winters, stood tall against all odds. The view was spectacular. Ca$h later told me that when he rounded that right-hander, thoughts of Jim were so vivid that Ca$h began to weep uncontrollably. The thoughts of his lost riding partner were so intense… and the pain so near…. he could barely keep his PD upright. It was on that lonely road with its breath-taking view and scrawny tree that Ca$h said his final good-byes to Jim Coleman. An emotional two man private ceremony gave way to the Jim’s final send off and a plaque being posted on the tree. Ca$h turned around and headed back to Dill City.


    For many of us it has been a long time D2D tradition to make a side trip into Eagle, Alaska (on our way to/from Dawson City) and to stop at Jim’s Tree. We do it for Jim AND Ca$h. You can see in the photos where a brush fire has swept through the area. That fire, along with brutal weather conditions wouldn’t dare “mess around with Jim” The tree has been visited and annointed by many of us and the memories of both Jim and Ca$h are alive and well. It is my hope as “keeper of the Tree”…. that the tradition continues.

    Carry On.
    Fite

    _______________________

    I originally read about D2D on ADVrider when I was looking for things to see on my way through to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. After I read the above description I knew that it was something that I wouldn’t want to miss. The two day event is chock full of activities. In addition anytime 200+ adventure motorcyclists pull into a fun old mining town like Dawson City there is always a good time to be had.

    We camped at a campsite across the water where a small ferry operates 24-7 bringing everything from foot traffic walk-ons to big
    rigs across the briskly flowing Yukon River.

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    After getting set-up, pops and I split up to go explore the area. I was oblivious to the fact that it was the summer solstice that day (the longest day of the year) and we just so happened to be in an amazing location to witness it (pretty far North and access to a great look-out spot). I met some younger Dawson-locals originally from Germany who said that “if there is ever a party in Dawson, tonight is the night” and that the top of "The Dome" was the place to be. They asked if I wanted to tag along and of course, I like to party.

    [​IMG] So I hopped on my bike and followed them up a winding steep road just outside of town. I saw another local pedaling up the steep road on a bicycle, there was only one place he could likely be going slowed down and pulled up next to him and offered a tow to the top. He looked at me and the bike with surprise and then excitedly looked for a good place to grab onto, the pannier worked great. Once we got to the Dome a few of us road our bikes right to the tippy-top where we had 360 degree views. People began showing up and getting lively for the show. A small plane was doing some pretty fun looking stunts for the crowd too.

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    From this vantage point later in the night you could watch the sun dip ever so briefly behind the mountain ridges to the west and then come back up about an hour later slightly to the right.

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    When the hour for the sun to do it's dip came, there were lots of people hanging out having a good time and celebrating this unique day so far North in this remote, but rowdy little town.

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    By the time I hopped the ferry back home I had been up for almost 24 hours, 15 hours of which was spent riding, and I should have been pretty beat. But with the sun never setting, being stoked about finally making it to Dawson City, and getting to see and be a part of an awesome Solstice in a unique little place, I was pretty impressed with my lack of overwhelming lethargy.

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    After a solid sleep, the next two days were full of riding, tom-foolery, and sometimes just shooting the shit with other riders who have all made the same crazy trek to the same out-there spot. There's a great energy about being around so many people that all love to do the same thing.

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    On Friday night there is a Biker Banquet where everyone gathers to eat and give awards out for things like youngest/oldest attendee, most crashes, furthest distance traveled to get here, etc. The organizers also talk about the history of the event which is so routed in the group of guys that 'started' it.

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    After food and drink the biker games begin and people get rowdier. The games start around 9 and go until after midnight. All of the games focus on rider skill and technique. There are Blindfold riding contests, Slow Races (those who have the best balance and can ride the slowest from start to finish line win), Ball Drops (dropping tennis balls in consecutively smaller containers while riding), and Slalom events. If you enter a “Two-up” event there is the Water Balloon Toss and Hot Dog Bite (apparently only co-ed teams or lady teams allowed).

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    And of course, don’t forget to do the Sourtoe Cocktail at the Downtown Hotel so you can join the ranks of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club. Story goes that the original toe was lobbed off after a Dawson City local came into the bar with frost-bite on his toe. They dropped it in some alcohol to preserve it and then things get weird and people start doing shots with the toe in the shot. Now it's a thing and you can do a shot with the toe as well, provided you buy strong enough liquor to preserve it with :lol3.

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    [​IMG]Well I can't pass up an opportunity to join the ranks of the sick and twisted so I had to do it.

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] For anyone wondering, the texture is like rubber.:1drink

    Next up is riding the Top Of The World Highway passing over and out of the Yukon and back into ‘Merica to head to Fairbanks.
    #23
  4. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
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    Chicken, Alaska, the biggest little town in eastern Alaska was where we had our sights set next. It was our first destination after heading out of Dawson City and would be our first stop in Alaska. We had heard that the home-baked pies crafted up by Susan were crazy good and I am not one to pass up top notch baked goods, especially if they involve berries.

    Before we headed out we wanted to do a few touristy things that we hadn’t been able to get around to yet the past couple of days. I wanted to snap a few photos of the infamous Dawson City and we also wanted to do a tour of one of the old dredges used during the big Klondike Gold Rush. These things were used to dig for gold and could move and process amounts of earth in search of gold on an unimaginable level. The one we really wanted to go see was called Dredge No. 4. What they were able to achieve in terms of infrastructure, engineering, and sheer determination that long ago is mind boggling to think about. The lengths they were willing to go to make it happen makes it so unique as well. If you stim-out on history scope the link above, it’s pretty impressive. In essence though these enormous gold-digging monstrosities floated on a small pond of water that they were constantly digging up earth in front of, sifting through and removing the gold from, and then re-depositing the sediment out the back as they inched further and further forward, zig-zagging there way through whatever area of land they wanted to dig-up.

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    On our way out I snapped a photo in front of the downtown hotel and snapped a few more around town. What it was like in the late 1890′s with 40,000 people in it at the height of the gold rush I can only imagine.

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    We milled about a bit, fueled up on gas, picked up food for the next couple days, and rode our bikes onto the small Dawson City ferry to take us across the Yukon River. We were now turning East to start heading towards the Alaskan border. The route from Dawson back to Alaska is via the Top Of The World Highway and the name is very fitting. The road cuts across a mountain ridge-line for several hours of dirt riding and eventually crossing the border out of the Yukon and into Alaska. You definitely feel like you are up on a highway in the clouds.

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]There was a feeling that this border would be more relaxed than most so I asked the border guard if he would snap a couple pictures for us. There are only two guards stationed here to watch over this border, just two. One for entering the US and one for entering Canada. They each live in two separate cabins right next to each other. The guy said he is stationed there for 72 days straight then he goes back home for a bit. I wonder how often they crack beers together and ignore the rules, because rules in a place that seems so far removed and remote such as this just seem silly. Who's gonna tattle on you, the single other human that's there with you?

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    We continued on East and the 'Murica side of the Top Of the World Highway was just as nice.

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    Eventually the road slowly dropped in elevation and we began to fall into a valley.

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    When we came across the town called Chicken there was no confusion as to whether we had found it or not, on top of that, there wasn't anything else anywhere near it so it's hard to miss in spite of it's size.

    Here are some handy facts about Chicken, this was written up and posted on the saloon door:

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    This is it in all of it's glory.

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    We stepped inside the Chicken Saloon and ordered a drink from the bartender....

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    We then took that drink outside and walked one building over into the Chicken Cafe and ordered some BBQ chicken, served up by the none other than the same guy who was our bartender just a minute earlier, he had just walked out the bar and into the cafe so he could serve us food as well!

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    We followed the food up with some of the home-baked goods that others so raved about. Some BBQ chicken, couple beers, followed up with some pie and my Dad and I were feeling preeeeetty damn good about our decision to come here. The food did not fail to impress.

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    We camped for free in the gravel parking lot and spent the rest of the night shooting the shit with the handful of travelers and locals that gather around this glorious small little spot. The local group of folks (4-5 people) and us sat around telling stories, mostly them telling us about Chicken and its eccentricities, us gawking at the holes in the saloon door that were blown out with their home made “panti-cannon”.
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    With the reluctant donation of a willing ladies thong we even got a showing of the fabled panti-cannon and they got to tack another gunpowder-obliterated undergarment to the saloon’s ever growing ceiling collection. With a thong packed in on top of two and a half shot glasses of gunpowder, the blast and subsequent concussion was deafening.

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    They lit another one off around 3:30am after a fair bit more drinking that had even more gunpowder in it, along with another donated thong as well. Not a single person in town batted an eye, then again, everyone in town was just them.

    - – - – - – - – -

    As exciting as the characters of Chicken and the panti-cannon were, it was another traveler that captivated my interest the most. He was guy in his late 70's probably, traveling with his wife in an old pick-up with a camper on the back. He didn't seem like the RVing grandparents type though and at first I had him pegged as a local, or at least a local an Alaskan, he didn't seem like a tourist or a traveler in the same way that we were. He seemed at home here, or at least in this sort of traveling lifestyle. He had a fairly quiet demeanor and spent most of the initial evening time just sitting and enjoying other peoples conversation, sipping on his beers. He had a warm look on his face and a smirk-y grin, I got the impression that he seemed like a chill guy and one of those people that has stories under his belt, and that's why he's so quiet and content to just sit and enjoy listening to other people tell stories. Me being me I got to chatting with him and that was that. With some intrigued questioning and nudging of conversation he eventually over the course of a couple hours and several beers told me all about the things he had done throughout his life, his life story was by far the most varied and extensive history I had heard from any stranger before and I found him absolutely captivating. Sort of like when you get a bit older and you realize just how fucking cool your grandpa is and how it's fascinating hearing all the things they have experienced in their long life. Everything from winning the famous Omak Suicide Horse race, sailing in St. Marks, flying bush planes in Alaska, to getting bored and deciding to train to do the famous Iditarod sled dog race at the ripe and spry age of 63. When he decided to try and race the Iditarod he moved to Alaska, built a home himself to train out of in the boonies, and 3 years later successfully completed the Iditarod race (he broke his neck the 2nd year so it took him a bit to rehab before he could successfully race it to completion).

    Through talking with him I also learned that his name was Jeanne. I also learned that he was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer 2 years ago. He was very frank about his prognosis and outlook and he openly said that he would be surprised if he was still around in 2 years. He still had such a sense of calm about him when talking about this though, and his spirit was just as perky and happy as when he was talking about the other things that he had done in his life. I knew that I had to ask him more questions as it's rare that you meet someone like Jeanne. I asked him "For a guy that has done so much with your life already and always lived with a drive and passion for doing what you were interested in that moment and flying by the seat of your pants, is there anything that you know you really want to do before your time is up?"

    He thought about the question pensively, but only for a moment, and then laughed and smiled with the same smile he had so easily brought forward throughout our long conversation, and said that "If there was anything left that I desired to do I'm sure that I would get out there and be doing it already!" (he was still actively traveling the world and flying his plane regularly) I drew from this that the thought of "What do I do now that I know I'm going to die soon" never really crossed his mind because he always did the things in life that he wanted to do, he never back burnered anything. Living his life up until this moment in that way allowed him to - now knowing that he doesn't have much time left - live out the last of his time in comfort about what he has and hasn't done because he always lived his life to the fullest.

    In the morning I walked over to where him and his wife were camping and talked with him again over camp breakfast. Before we parted ways he said that after we had all gone to sleep he had thought more about my question that I had asked. He said that although he hadn’t come up with anything that he has yet to do or wished he'd done differently, he wanted to explain that he did understand why I asked the question. He understood that I was asking the question from a place of interest being that I am young and (hopefully!) have a lot more living to do, and was seeking any wisdom from a man who had so obviously lived his life to its fullest.

    He said that if he can impart any wisdom that he has learned through his his long list of life experiences, it is that:

    ” there is no point in spending your life doing things you don’t want to do and that don’t give you joy. You can make all the money in the world but you need to learn how to have fun. You MUST learn how to play. Since I was diagnosed with cancer 2-years ago I haven’t had a single bad day. I simply don’t have time for bad days, so I make every day a good day. Life is short and if you can get started with that mentality young, you’ll do just fine.”​

    With that he ended our conversation and left me to digest. With his joyful attitude, piercingly insightful eyes backed by many years of a life well lived, he looked at his wife with a smile - who had been sitting next to him quietly sipping her coffee mug held with both hands for warmth, and said simply that they should head out and get going, saying "We have things, to go do."

    If I had any question about finishing up my work in Seattle and heading South in the fall, Jeanne and his wise words sure stomped them out.
    #24
  5. HighRiver

    HighRiver taking the checkered

    Joined:
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    Great work ginge!!! Keep the great write ups coming!!!
    #25
  6. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
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    Thank you kindly, sorry they are staggered but more are a-comin. Not a bunch of interwebs up here :clap.
    #26
  7. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
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    Somewhere in Latin America
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    The next morning we headed out of Chicken. This place, in all of its little eccentricities, is quite the joint. If you are going over the Top of The World Highway in either direction, it's worth a stop-off for sure. Maybe it was the people, maybe it was me having no expectations, whatever it was I left with a full belly of food, as well as good times. It's a quaint little place that isn't trying to be anything it's not, and it'll likely never be anything much at all considering it's far out there location and character, and that's just the way it should stay.

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    We were heading for Tok, a junction of sorts, where you can either head West towards Anchorage or head North towards Fairbanks. We were en route to Fairbanks at this point to meet up with my friends Sophie and Thaddeus so we would be taking the northly route.

    With all the pretty scenery and seemingly endless sunlight we quickly found ourselves burnt out and falling asleep. Nice thing about Alaska is everything is so rural that you can pretty much pull off the side of the road anywhere and more or less not be bothered. We took this as an opportunity for a quick nap and recoup on the way to Fairbanks.

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    When we eventually rolled into Fairbanks we had some bike maintenance to do and needed to source some parts so we went to the shop who’s name we had heard about most often from people at the Dust-2-Dawson meetup and who’s shop came highly recommended, ADV Cycle Works over on the North end of town in Fairbanks. After being in and out for several days and getting a glimpse of how they do things over there, Dan and Shawn Armstrong are quite the duo, they sure do know their way around ADV bikes, and their outfit is a great example of how a local shop should be run. Hats off to you guys:thumb

    My friends Sophie and Thaddaeus now live in Fairbanks and they have been kind enough to offer up what space they have in their cabin for my Dad and I to crash there for a few days while we re-collect ourselves and then make a dart north to ride the Dalton Highway. My pops is flying back to Seattle on the 1st of June and so we are planning to do the ride to Prudhoe Bay via the Dalton Highway before then. After some last minute bike fixes (blown rear axle bearings on my Dads bike) from ADV Cycle Works we were ready to head out.

    The Dalton Highway (also known as the haul road) is a predominantly dirt road that stretches from just north of Fairbanks 414 miles up to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay. It was originally built to haul goods etc up to supply the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in ’74. If you follow it all the way it takes you first up into the Arctic Circle and and then you get to continue on up to the Arctic Ocean. Where the road ends is the furthest north you can ride in the Americas. Although with the first leg of this trip my goal was only to have a good time, get a feel for what traveling via motorcycle was like, and iron out the mechanical kinks etc, I had definitely made it a personal goal to make it to the top so that I can hopefully ride to the bottom at some point as well, thus riding "Tip-to-Tip".

    On the first day we waited until the afternoon in Fairbanks debating if the weather would clear. We deliberated for a bit, sat around staring at the sky twiddling our thumbs as if trying to bag an alpine summit while reading the whether seeing if a window will open up.

    Fuck it, it wasn’t going to clear, my Dad only had about half a week left, and we weren’t going to let the weather sully our chances of making it to Prudhoe Bay. We set out from my friends cabin in Fairbanks and the roads progressively became more and more dirt. It's kind of cool because there is a blatant cut-off where the road just stops being paved, you can see it in the picture below. All dirt and gravel from here on out.

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    The further north we got the more the weather and road deteriorated making the ride a lot more fun. Man I hate super slab, at least have it be a dirt super-slab like this thing:evil

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    And of course, on came the rain making everything nice and sloppy, again though, way more fun.

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    Around 9pm we made it into the Arctic Circle and snapped our photo’s with the famous “Arctic Circle” sign. I felt pretty touristy doing this but it was sweet to finally pop a squat in front of the sign that I had seen so many other riders take photos at as well.

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    My dad seems to take pictures like he's in the 1800's now, you know how you never see anyone from old photos smiling? He's all laughs and good times until a camera comes out, then it's Stone-Cold steve austin, no smiling allowed. Maybe it's a blue steel sort of thing...I'll work with him on it.

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    We rode until around midnight and got just past a 'place' called Coldfoot. This is the only point between Fairbanks and Deadhorse where there is a place to get gas and a place to eat and it's at about the halfway mark. We fueled up for the last time before finding a place to camp and rest up before tomorrows 230 mile push to Deadhorse. The next morning we awoke early along with birds, they seemed to be pretty into the camp scene and know how to get a snack. Kind of a wet and mangey looking chirper.

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    We continued on, pushing North. No need for a GPS anymore, only one road. If we loose it, we probably shouldn't be out riding motorcycles anyways. There are still trees but they are getting smaller and smaller. Although our altitude isn't very high, the winter seasons are just too harsh and long this far north that trees can't get a hold and grow. I was told that eventually we would pass 'the last tree' and then there wouldn't see anymore until we came back south again.

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    We started heading towards Atigun Pass which is a part of the Brooks Range and is the highest pass in Alaska that is maintained throughout the year. I've seen my share of mountains and passes but after so much flat it commanded much more presence and awe than I would have expected.

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    As we climbed higher it got wetter, colder, and the road got worse. Visibility was pretty low and you never really knew when you would see a big MAC truck coming downt he road in the other direction. All over you could see where trucks had run-off the road, either from poor conditions like this or from lack of attention. You can see in the photo below that what they have in place as a guard rail has been ripped out when a truck went over the edge. Not surprised though those things would barely keep a bike from going off the edge. On the 650's we can cook along at a pretty good pace, a truck would definitely not be going that quick though.

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    After a few more hours of riding I switched the page view on my GPS to show a map of where I was instead of my usual digital read-out of mileage, heading, etc. For the first time since I left Seattle I saw coastline and a big blue mass of ocean come up on the screens readout! Having grown up on an island in the pacific northwest and spending much of my childhood on a boat, I now seem to have a set of sea-legs and my head gets all weird and uncalibrated if I'm away from the ocean for too long. It was GREAT to see that coastline on the screen, even if it was just a digital image, I now knew where water was and everything was right in the world again. I kept the GPS on this view for the next 2.5 hours, watching the little arrow creep closer and closer to the blue water on the map.

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    Now that we were out of Atigun Pass we were now on the tundra. There was nothing but vast open expanses of nothingness and no more trees where to be seen anywhere. These ridges on the east behind my bike were the last geographical features to see anywhere.

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    After only a few minutes of being stopped Alaskas state bird, the mosquito, where on you like stink on shit and it was time to boogey on away from wherever you were. Where the hell do they come from? What could possibly be out here that has enough blood to feed the bagillions of these fuckers that seem to come out of the woodwork no matter where you are? They are like zombies that haven't seen blood in decades and they all flock to you immediately. I say burn'em, burn'em ALL with fire. (you can see how many of them there are in the bottom-left photo)

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    We pushed on and within the hour we had made it to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. I finally found out the discrepancy between calling it Deadhorse and Prudhoe bay. As a handy little info pamphlet held in a box at the 'entrance of town' told me, calling it Deadhorse is like calling New York city “The Bronx”. Technically Deadhorse is a place in Prudhoe Bay. Either way though the information seemed fairly suspect and sounded like there was an ongoing dispute about zip codes and titles, so take that factoid with a grain of salt.

    At any rate, we made it to the top but there would be no swimming in the Arctic Ocean for me. The entire area is controlled by BP and Conoco (HUGE oil companies for those that don’t know) and they have a tight reign on everything that goes on up there. Oil is big business here...hah actually the only business that goes on here, and they don't want you in any part of it. Seeing as it is a work camp and by no means a tourist town you feel like an outsider butting into people’s business from the moment you roll into the work camp. People eye balling you left and right, looking at you like you are most certainly lost, I have never felt like such a tourist than in this place. Essentially though this is precisely what you are doing, it’s a work camp, not a tourist destination (barring the few crazies that decide they want to go as far north as they can while riding a moto). There is a sign as you enter the area that reads something to the ilk of this is no longer a public area, you are allowed here but people have shit to do, rigs to drive, and places to get to, so stay the fuck out of the way’. Obviously this isn’t verbatim, but it is clear that you are a guest at best, and it would behoove you to mind your business and not impede anyone else's.

    To get to the real ocean you have to go onto BP and Conocos land, because you would be on their land and in close proximity to their oil operations, they are worried that if us non-employees were to get all self-riotous and try to fuck with their oil operation it would be bad news money-bears for them, and thus you are required to obtain a security clearance pass and a background check that takes at least 24hours. Well we weren’t keen on staying in this odd place for much longer than we needed to so we made the best of what we had.

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    Honestly the whole place gave me a fairly eery feeling, if you have ever seen the movie Waterworld staring Kevin Costner you’ll understand what I mean. That movie was all I could think about while I was here and all of Deadhorse reminded me of it. The similarities where just too striking. Deadhorse's bustling industrial activity, being located in a super remote place literally in the middle of nowhere, set in a harsh and barren environment where all of it’s inhabitants are completely entrenched with searching feverishly for a single highly valued resource that their society needs to survive, in this case oil.

    Funny enough though that resource, which we also need to run our bikes, was $5.35 a gallon here!

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    As always though, the ride is the fun part, if the destination is nice, it's merely a bonus. So we got our pictures, fueled up on gas and food supplies, as the next place to get either was back the way we came some 240 miles, and then got back on the road towards Coldfoot being glad to be back on the tundra.

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    #27
  8. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    Somewhere in Latin America
    After another day and a half slog-fest in the mud down the Dalton Highway back to where we had come from we made it to Fairbanks. The weather was about the same and it was fun slogging around in the mud on the way back. With relatively light bikes, although they aren't no scooter, we made good time and it was pretty straightforward sailing.

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    When we got back to my friends cabin in Fairbanks I snapped a few photos of pig in all her muddy glory before I cleaned her up.

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    After the mud had dried I noticed that there was still a peculiar wet spot on my right fork, boot, and pant-leg. Guess my right fork seal had had enough and decided it would be easier to die than do it's job. In the process it went out in a fanfare and puked it’s innards everywhere. I added new fork seals to the fix list to get done while in Fairbanks.

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    The last few days have been spent doing laundry (I’m traveling realitively light though so don’t really have much), eating a ton of food, hanging out with Sophie and Thaddaeus, lounging in the local hot springs, scoping out the wildlife by my friends cabin we are staying in, and trying to be a bit more Alaskan and shooting some guns.

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    Unfortunately my Fasha (pops, dad, etc) flew out on the 1st to get back to work so this leg of the trip together with him is complete. It's been a blast Dad and I'm stoked that we got to together and see this part of North America together! On the bright side he'll be tagging-in my buddy Koshal who will be riding the next few weeks and back down to Seattle with me. Kosh is flying in Wednesday night to meet-up with us here in Fairbanks for the 4th of July which will be sweet. After that we’ll both continue on riding South towards Anchorage and probably meet up with one of Kosh's friends from undergrad who's family lives there. Then(?)…well we’ll see where we want to go from there when the time comes. Not having a fixed agenda or plan sure is nice. For now, I’m going to continue enjoying this interesting and wild little oasis up in the north of Alaska.
    #28
  9. Kimball76

    Kimball76 I'll take one of each.

    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    Oddometer:
    24
    Location:
    N. Carolina, USA
    Fantastic report so far! I made my wife read it so she can hopefully 'understand me better'! (I know... fat chance!)

    I wouldn't mind hearing about your riding equipment (boots, jacket, pants) and how they're holding up thus far.

    Keep it up!
    #29
  10. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Brownie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    5,444
    Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Pleasure meeting you two in Dawson!
    #30
  11. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    Somewhere in Latin America
    Thanks Kimball! We all seem to originate from different backgrounds here on ADV/in the general motorcycling community but in the end we all have a mutual understanding/affinity for travel on two wheels. Hopefully the thread helped her get a small taste of it for her!

    I'll be doing a write-up on the gear and how it held up etc but likely not until I get back home to Seattle Overall I'm pleased but I do have some comments about the set-up and changes that would be desired.

    #31
  12. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    Somewhere in Latin America
    Thanks man, you as well, hopefully I'll be putting several more thousand (shiny side up) miles through the ol' helmet. Awesome event, thanks for helping put it on!

    #32
  13. theofam

    theofam Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    456
    Location:
    Denver
    Sean, DonnyO and I enjoyed meeting you and Koshal today. Sorry we lost you after the ferry in Skagway. We checked in to our hotel and went straight to the Red Onion in hopes you two were there. You weren't. We saw you a block away as we walked back to our bikes, but we couldn't get your attention as you headed down State Street.

    Hope you guys have a great ride the remainder of this week! Take care, Sean
    #33
  14. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    Somewhere in Latin America
    Hey Sean sorry we missed you guys at the Red Onion! Hope you guys have a great rest of your trip and look forward to reading your Father + Son + Arctic Circle = Bliss Pat Duex ride report. Maybe catch you guys out on the road again.
    #34
  15. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    Somewhere in Latin America
    [​IMG]
    My dad's work responsibilities were beckoning so he had flown back home to the real world and left his bike. It was time for my friend Koshal to tag in and ride the rest of the trip back down to Seattle.

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    I hadn’t had a working phone since I left Seattle, WA (Seattle pictured here before Kosh left) so coordinating the pick-up of said person was left up to email transfers via stolen wifi and intermittent cafe use in Fairbanks. Although it’s been great to disconnect from all the digital plugs we are constantly hooked up to during our normal daily activities, not having these basic electronic connections, such as a cell phone, make it slightly more cumbersome to plan logistics. Luckily though the air-drop went fine and we eventually connected up, Kosh had arrived. Here he is trying to be a gangster at the airport.

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    We spent the next day going over the bikes together and hashing out what we needed to do before we got back out on the road again. We wanted to bump up my Dad’s (for the next couple weeks Koshal’s) bike’s gearing so it cruised at slightly lower RPM while running at highway speeds. I had been using a 16-tooth front sprocket since I left Seattle and was pleased with it overall. Even in the slick stuff and loaded up with gear it seemed to truck on just fine. His bike was running a 14-tooth sprocket up front which added up to about a 1,500 rpm difference between my bike and his at speed. Seeing as both bikes could use new sprockets we ended up putting new 16-tooth front sprockets on both bikes along with new chains and new rear sprockets as well (good to change the chain when you replace the sprockets and vice versa). Both of our chains were riveted rather than set up with a handy quick-connect master-link so we commandeered Dan out at ADV Cycle Works to grind the pop-rivets off with an angle grinder. Once we had both chains off we could do the swaps.

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    My clutch has also started to slip a bit and seeing as I was at the end of both my barrel adjusters up on the handlebars and down on the case I figured I would replace my clutch pack as well rather than risk another 3,000+ miles on one that may-or-may-not be wearing.

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    After getting the side of the motor opened up and pulling the clutch plates, the plates themselves looked to probably still have a few thousand miles left in them. Since I already had the whole thing opened up I just went ahead and finished the job and packed new plates and springs into the clutch basket and bagged up the older plates to keep as a spares.

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    While we were putting things back together we ran into a few Brazilians who were just starting out on a vacation ride from Oregon to…well, wherever they could get in 4-6 weeks. They had flown into Oregon from Brazil, purchased several new KLRs, and had been burning up the coast for a week or so before getting into Fairbanks. They would continue riding for several more weeks until their vacation time was up, store the bikes in Anchorage (or wherever they ended up), and then fly back home. Then the next time they all got vacation they would fly back to wherever they stored the bikes and continue on the next part of their trip heading elsewhere. By the next leg they wanted to finish somewhere on the East coast of the US so they could then ship the bikes to Europe where the bikes would sit and wait for them to return to later. Sounded like quite the plan to me and it’s surprising how often I now hear about people doing this. Sounds like a ton of fun. If you only have a couple weeks at a time to travel this is the way to do it.

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    Although we had squared up the bikes and gotten a lot of maintenance done we still had one further issue that needed to be remedied. A couple weeks back my dad’s aftermarket muffler had snapped one of it’s mounting brackets while we were clicking on down the road and the muffler had rattled off. When it came loose it hit the ground and got kicked up in the air like a whirling tomahawk. I pulled out my Mario Kart skills and dodged it like a ninja. After circling back to pick it up with my hands. I failed to grasp that it would likely be searing hot since it just fell off a running motorcycle and it melted the tips of my winter gloves right off. We cooled the muffler with some water and strapped it to his bike. We carried on down the road with his bike now sounding like a drag chopper. Eventually I had to pass him and ride in front as that 650 motor wound out at down the road was unbearable. We ended up getting a welder to weld the two broken pieces of the bracket together but inevitably it rattled loose again a few thousand miles later while we were punishing the bikes on the road up to Deadhorse. When we got back to Fairbanks I did some interweb sloothing and found another muffler from flea-bay that would work and overnighted it up to Fairbanks. Of course though everything takes longer to get up here in Alaska and seeing as the 4th of July was this week we knew we had some time to kill.

    We spent the 4th hanging out at Sophie and Thaddaeus’s cabin with friends and dinning on homemade caribou sausage, moose burgers, and delicious beverages. Just as Americans of the far North should.

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    A moose arrived late to the party, I guess when the sun never sets it’s hard to judge time and be punctual.

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    Sadly the time had come for us to get ready to leave Fairbanks and head onward. It’s been a blast getting to see Sophie and Thaddaeus again, hopefully we’ll be seeing them sooner than later now that they’ll be moving down to Portland for more grad school adventures. But until then, stay classy you two.

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    #35
  16. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    Somewhere in Latin America
    We have been waiting for a part to be overnighted to us for several days now and it has finally arrived. We were getting it shipped to our friend’s University of Alaska PO Box. Since it was July 4th holiday mixed with funky campus hours the package arrived a few days later than we had intended. Having that time though did allow us to kick back, eat some great food, tour around Fairbanks a bit, and spend a couple more days with Sophie and Thaddaeus.

    But now a new day had come, the muffler had arrived!

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    We put the muffler on right in the parking lot of the UA-Fairbanks parking lot. In two shakes of a lamb’s tail we were ready to roll and get on the road.

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    We said our good-bye’s and bombed on down the road heading South towards Anchorage. We had 6-8 hours of riding to do so we figured we would break it up and have a stop-over in Denali National Park along the way.

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    After Denali we headed on down the road passing through more and more great scenery…

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    …helping another rider find his son who disappeared after hitting this old caribou carcass strewn across the road…

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    …and shooting the shit with other riders at rural gas stations. When there’s only one spot to fill up for many miles gas stations become common watering holes for people passing.

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    [​IMG]We made it into Anchorage around 11pm and had made plans to meet up with one of Kosh’s friends from undergrad, Ali, who’s family lives in Anchorage. We pulled the bikes in through the back gate to park them for the night. We scoped out her little brother’s sweet backyard play-land complete with giant trampoline, enclosed fort with climbing holds surrounding it, and a sand pit. He was rocking quite the set-up. We stayed up for a couple hours talking and catching up before sleep beckoned and we passed out.

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    In the morning, Ali was kind enough to feed us a ton of food before we headed out. I dig milk and will never pass up a tall glass o' the good stuff. I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff in my short few years on this earth and have yet to brake a single bone. I believe it's the milk shield I keep well fortified.

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    When we were back in Fairbanks Kosh and I were thinking about what we wanted to do for the next couple weeks and mapping out where we wanted to go. Our buddy Jacob was working for his dads fishing boat for the summer up in Kenai. This sounded like the perfect excuse to go surprise him and ride around the Kenai Peninsula, so that was our plan. Before that though, I had a new front and rear tire waiting for me to get picked up in Anchorage so that was our first stop. We mounted the front in the parking lot in Anchorage and stashed the rear at Ali's house. We are gonna be back in Anchorage later so I'll swap the rear then. Before heading to the Kenai Peninsula we had been warned by Ali’s parents that the road was notorious for fatal accidents due to the road conditions, small lanes, and distractingly gorgeous scenery. So we put our game-faces on and headed out with caution.

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    After several hours we made it to Kenai and the town docks where our buddy Jacob "Poppa" Perkins said we could find him if we were in the area. If of course he wasn’t out on the boats catching shit-tons of salmon. We hadn’t solidified any plans and instead just decided to show up and surprise him. A few quick questions to some people walking around the docks and we were directed to where we could find the one and only, “Poppa-Perkins”.


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    He had no idea if/when we would be coming aside from a brief “Wait…are you guys riding your motorcycles around Alaska?? You should come to Kenai!” message sent to us a week earlier so he was pretty surprised for us to just roll on in to his camp. We shot the shit for a bit and met some of the other fisherman in the camp. We started talking with Poppa-perk’ and his Dad (who’s boat he was working on for the summer) about our next few days of riding and where we were planning on going. Initially we had planned to hit Kenai, say hey, then push on to Anchor Point and then stay in Homer, which is down on the far tip of the peninsula. After that we would head back to Anchorage, pick up my stashed rear tire and then make a two day ride to Valdez on the Southeast coast. After running it over with them they suggested a great alternative. Take the ferry from Wittier, which is on the Kenai Peninsula a couple hours from where we were, directly to Valdez. This would save us half a day of riding and allow us to see a lot of the coast. The only problem being that the boat only has one sailing a day around noon out of Wittier. To get to Wittier you have to pass through the longest railway-highway tunnel in North America, which is only open one direction at a time and it cycles directions throughout the day. The alternative route would only pan out if we could get to Wittier in time, otherwise we would lose an entire day. Seeing as we had less than 2 weeks left, a day is a lot to us.


    We thought about it briefly, realized if we made it to Homer and then back to Kenai tonight (about a 3hr round trip), we could maybe make the turnaround happen. We would have to get up really early tomorrow to make it up to anchorage then back down to Wittier in time for the fairy though. It would be close.

    "Fuck-it, let’s do it", and booked the nonrefundable tickets over the phone. People were BBQ'n so we grubbed down and then pushed on down the coast Southwest to Homer. On the way we stopped by Anchor Point which is the most westerly highway point in North America.
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    Growing up on an island in the Pacific Northwest I am quite fond of the coast and couldn’t pass up the chance to ride my bike down the beach for a bit.

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    We eventually made it to Homer which sits out on the very tip of the Kenai Peninsula. Jacobs dad said we had to grab a drink at The Salty Dog Saloon so that was our destination. As always we snapped a few opportunistic photos along the way.

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    As the peninsula thinned and we headed further and further out into the water we knew we were getting close.


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    At the end of the peninsula sits a very humbling place built to commemorate the sea for the prosperity it brings to some, as well as to pay it respect for the lives of others that it keeps at it’s depths.

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    A sea bell memorial: “This Bell Tolls For The Souls Set Free Upon The Sea”


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    There was a placard with this poem on it.

    The sea tells a story.
    It tells of the life it brings,
    And the lives it claims.
    Its deep dark waters are home to some,
    A final resting place for others.​

    The sea tells a story.
    It tells of the cycle of life
    Running through its waters.
    Fish, spawning, dying, sinking to the ocean floor,
    Returning to the circle that engulfs all life.​

    The sea tells a story.
    It tells of prosperity,
    Yet how that prosperity can be unforgiving.
    Nearly everyone will experience its vastness.
    But some will remain there forever.​

    - Ryan Bundy
    1996

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    Close to the memorial we found The Salty Dog Saloon and had our drink.

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    We caught one last picture before leaving Homer. I wish we had more time at this special edge of Alaska, but we had places to go, and more things to see.

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    We got back on the road, the same road we had far to recently been just coming the other direction on. We were now headed back north, back up the coast en route to Kenai. After a soberingly close encounter with a large moose running across the road, we were reminded just how careful and alert you must always be when riding, especially on these roads as the 'deer' in alaska can weigh over half a ton. Aside from the near moose collision the ride back up to Kenai was nice and the weather a nice crisp 52 degrees . We made it back into our friends boatyard camp in Kenai shortly before midnight. Upon which time a large fire was just getting going, subsequent [​IMG]-runs and merriment were had, and the long early ride to be had in just a short few hours was all but forgotten about.

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    Of course, Poppa-perk threw two giant fillets of fresh caught salmon onto the fire. With nothing more than a few lemons, couple turns of pepper, and splash of olive oil, that salmon was some of the best I had ever had.

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    We stayed up late into the morning getting salty, swapping stories, and listening to the decades of experience that these men had out on the open ocean.

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    [​IMG]Eventually the morning caught us and we called it a night. We needed to get at least a few hours of sleep. With any luck, in 11 hrs we would be boarding a ferry in Wittier, and on our way to Valdez.​
    #36
  17. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    Somewhere in Latin America
    Not long after we shut our eyes to get some sleep my alarm woke me up. The inside of my tent was bright with early morning sun. I had purposefully not unpacked my bike, with the exception of my tent and sleeping bag, so that I could sleep as much as possible before we needed to head out. Kosh had played it smart and crashed in one of the campers that Poppa-perk was staying in. I like to think I have become attached to my tent, but it could also easily be attributed to stubbornness.

    It took us 30 minutes from the time my alarm went off to when the bikes were packed, warmed up, and ready to ride. This was about 30-45 minutes faster than we usually take, even if we weren’t cooking breakfast.

    I’ve noticed when you get on the road this early in the morning that you kind of operate in auto-pilot for a bit. It isn’t until a few miles into the ride that your brain starts to boot-up and do more than just the basic functions that are necessary for navigation and staying upright. The previous night didn’t help with this mental frost layer either. We had a great time last night. Once our brains shook off the early morning stale I think we were both feeling the repercussions of yesterday evening’s chosen form of re-hydration.

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    It could always be worse though and as long as there isn’t any major downpours of rain this morning we’ll be just fine. Lucky for us though the weather was looking promising as we headed onto the Old Seward Hwy.

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    Our goal was to ride back up the Old Seward Hwy, avoid having any accidents on the notoriously accident prone road, make it to Anchorage to pick up my new rear tire that we had stashed at our friend Ali’s place, spoon the new tire on, double back onto the Old Seward Hwy, again avoid having any accidents, and make it to the Wittier Tunnel at the right time when traffic is flowing in the right direction of Wittier.

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    It would be tight, but we were making good time so we took a pit-stop to coffee up.Coffee truck pooch greeted us with a stick expecting us to play. We obliged

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    We got to Anchorage and rolled into Ali’s parent’s place. I had pulled my bike up onto the center-stand and begun removing the rear tire assuming we would have time to mount my new tire in her parent’s driveway. Ali’s dad scoped out the scheduled openings online and saw that the next opening in our direction was coming up quickly. There was no time to replace my tire if we wanted to get to Whittier and not miss our boat. With this new information I strapped my tire on the back of the bike for later and we said our good-byes to the ever hospitable Chard family.

    This time the sun was shinning so we had to stop for at least one photo on the gorgeous Old Seward Highway.

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    Luckily we didn’t stop for any longer than we did because by the time we got to the tunnel we were the last people to be let in just before it closed. We even had to wait to get clearance to since they were so close to closing it.

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    They had a speed limit in the tunnel....

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    ...but we were the only ones so tunnel blasting was a must, the sound is just too good.

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    We got into Wittier, confirmed our tickets…

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    …and scoped out the town for a few minutes before we boarded our new floating home for the next 7.5 hrs.

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    Kosh and his bike almost lost a battle of physics involving slick wet steel and a heavy bike vs. gravity. Gravity almost won but Kosh managed to keep it together. The deck hand helping people load didn’t appreciate the miracle on ice Kosh had just performed to avoid running him over. The rest of the boat then loaded up and we got our bikes strapped down before heading upstairs.

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    The boat was pretty big and there was ample space to walk around the various decks.

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    ‘Merica

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    After eating some food and getting a lay of the land I passed out for a while to regain some sleep that we hadn’t been getting much of the last few days. After a good rest I woke up and saw this kid killing his boredom by spitting on his hand, letting it drip onto the window sill, and then catching it back in his mouth after it slid off the edge.

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    Parent’s didn’t seem to notice/care as they had 4 other little munchkins that they were trying to keep from jumping overboard. Whatever though, he’ll probably survive the next super-bug when we all get sick. After a few hours of gorgeous scenery, whale sightings, and beautiful icebergs we were slowing down and entering into the Valdez. Along the way we saw a few of the now famous Alaskan crab fishing boats from the Discovery channel hit “The Deadliest Catch”. They were headed out of port to go get some crabs.


    Once we got to shore the first order of business was some food, the ferry food wasn’t anything to write home about. We had heard that The Fat Mermaid was the place to go for some good grub and a pint so we sniffed it out.

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    After eating some bomb pizza and relaxing for a bit we asked the waitress where people such as ourselves could crash for the night on the cheap. She said that there is a spot just out of town where the local teenagers go to party by a river. She said we could probably throw up our tents there and not be bothered by the local rozzers. Cheap and hassle-free, perfect.

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    After a short windy trail we found the river bank that the waitress had spoken of. There were a lot of birds swarming over the water feeding close by. This meant there must have been a lot of fish in the area. In light of this we did a quick once-around on the banks to look for bear tracks that would indicate if our chosen tent spots doubled as the local bears breakfast table. Not seeing any, we decided to set up shop right on the bank and get some rest.

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    I love falling asleep hearing flowing water and waking up to the fresh cool breeze that it brings. Tomorrow we were heading Northeast towards Tok Alaska where we will then turn Southeast and try to make it over the border and into Canada. After that….? Well we’ll see how far we get tomorrow.

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    Onward
    #37
  18. GISdood

    GISdood Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    803
    Location:
    Prince George, BC
    Loving this RR, and the pictures are awesome! Keep up the good work! :thumb

    If you wind up coming through Prince George before the 10th of August (when my wife and I depart for a 10-day trip of our own) let me know - we've got over an acre of lawn for free tenting, a spare bedroom if you need a break from the great outdoors, and an ample supply of cold beer always on hand.
    :beer
    #38
  19. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    Somewhere in Latin America
    Thanks GISdood, I'm having a blast writing it:wink:

    I would totally take you up on the camp spot and beer but I'm already past Prince George. I didn't have time/internet to go through pictures and post so I'm just now getting to it. If you are ever in the Seattle area I have space for bikes and camping. Probably could even scrounge up a couple cold brewskies too.:beer
    Have a blast with the wife on your trip!

    #39
  20. SeanPNW

    SeanPNW Water Bear

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    494
    Location:
    Somewhere in Latin America
    I've been MIA on updating this ride report but I am now getting to it, hopefully late is better than never.:bueller

    More coming...
    #40