Texas to Alaska, and mostly back

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TxLoneRider, Aug 8, 2010.

  1. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    Time to write the report, got the pictures uploaded to smugmug, and time to share my experiences. I will start with a brief summary, and then add a post for each day.

    This is about the 8th long motorcycle trip (longer than 2k miles). And previous to this I've been fairly lucky, all things considered. This trip had it challenges, all of which I could have avoided. Lessons learned, and I will ride again.

    So, for the interesting statistics, 4 (different) border crossings, 8825 miles, 2 provinces, 1 territory, 8 states, 2 tires, 1 tube, 3 flats, 1 low beam bulb, 1 chain, 6 hotels rooms, 7 camp sites, 1 "Cabin" over the course of 15 days.

    The original plan was to go to Prudhoe Bay, got a set of TKC80's to put on the back of the bike. When finally packed the bike, and got on the bike my wife noticed I was using a bit more of the suspension than I might have wanted to, at least sitting still.

    The first thing to go where the tires and spare tubes. Got back on the bike, and much better. So with some route changes loaded onto the GPS I was about 5 hours late leaving. Lets see what I can go with a set of Distanzi's

    I did not make it to Prudhoe Bay, and am disappointed, but if I went up there I doubt I would have gone to McCarthy or Valdez, which were quite cool on there own. More on those destinations later.

    so here goes it
    #1
  2. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    Off to the races, (days picture gallery)

    Got off to a non eventful start, said good bye to the wife and kids, and got going. Heading west I saw a train coming towards me, Jake loves trains, so time for a few pictures.
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    Cool, eh! Well when the train had past I was head back to the bike and there was a decent gust of wind, something that happens frequently in west Texas, and the bike gets blown over. As Brian Dilworth would say "ONE!".

    Well, got the bike up, and I guess I left my luggage key in the right bag. Well, when I down the road to a Sonic for lunch it was gone, argggg. At least I had a spare.

    Continued along and up in the pan handle saw a few really good storms on the horizon.
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    And got a cool picture getting the rain gloves out
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    Well continued north, with a few LARGE systems to the west, and a couple of notable to the east I managed to split the gap, with only a few sprinkles.

    Hit a motel, and talked briefly to few people who where really disappointed in the weather, guess the region is normally dry this time of the year and their family had a planned outdoor wedding the next day. Hope it dried up enough for them, at least the weather in the morning was nice.
    #2
  3. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    (Click here for the day 2 gallery)

    So the weather in the morning was pretty good. Got a decent breakfast down the road from the hotel.

    As I headed North towards Denver, more clouds, the a few more systems on the horizon, again, shot the gap, barely road on wet pavement.

    Had some fun riding some of the hills
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    Turns out that pass was the high point of the trip, at least as far as altitude.

    Went through the Eisenhower tunnel, both ways
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    And that was pretty cool.

    Now, having toured on a ZX9r, Sprint ST, and FJR1300 being light on power was never a problem.

    With my 260lbs, plus 100lbs of luggage, the KLR650 did present an issue I had never experienced before, having to down shift going up a hill to maintain 60-65mph :eek1

    Anyway, saw some great scenery, and got some rocks for Abby.
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    After this pic was taken, I pushed it a bit, and actually had to hit the extra gas I was carrying. This was the only time during the trip I needed to hit any of the 1-2 gallons of extra gas I was carrying. Well after dark got another hotel room.
    #3
  4. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    (For the days picture gallery click here)

    Big day, good day. Started out grabbing breakfast at a lodge, all you can eat, amazing omelet, great bacon, fruit, OJ, way good. Turns out the chef works in the area all year round, summer time as a chef, winter time as a dog sled lead.

    Grand Teton park was pretty cool, but with the traffic, it was pretty hard to spot and take pictures. This and Yellowstone are not really parks to travel through and take pictures. But I did catch old faithful.
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    But Glacier National park was truly amazing! Wow!
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    Well, in the park I had sporadic cell signal, and after leaving the park I was going to ride until I got one, well, the first one I got was in Canada
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    About 20 miles up the road, and after calling Stacy, I could the moon rising over a farm house
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    #4
  5. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    (Daily gallery here)

    Going through a town, caught the "Bomber Command Museum of Canada" on the opposite one way street, doubled back to take some pictures.
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    Would have been cool to go in, but opening time was hours away.

    Wound up having breakfast in Calgary. Bought some socks at a Marks Work Warehouse, and headed towards Banff and Jasper.
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    Very cool parks to drive though, got a few shirts for the kids at the Roots store in the town of Banff.

    More cool train pictures
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    And a couple of cool waterfalls
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    Had a pizza in Jasper, wow, that town is a tourist trap, you name it, it was expensive. Here was the view from the roof top patio where I ate
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    And the cool bridges started
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    #5
  6. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    (Day 5 gallery)

    Had to stop to take a picture of the big beaver.
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    Went to the W.A.C. Bennett dam. When I got off the bike to take a few pictures, a couple of the visitor centre staff came out to greet me. Guess they where board. Talked me into taking the tour, very cool.
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    Further down the road would up riding with 3 Harley riders. Met at a closed gas station, I was looking for a pay phone, hey needed gas.

    Followed them up to the next town, one or two of them where pretty worried about their gas. Having an extra 1.5 gallons I followed them to make sure they made it to a gas station. They invited me to hand and camp with them, cool. But they said they where going to grab some beer. Don't have anything against beer, just not when I am trying to keep moving.

    In Fort Nelson met 3 other riders, Woody and Cheryl on a Goldwing and Jim on a FJR1300. I would ride and camp with them for the next 2 days.

    Good folks, and I finally met people who where more ride focused more than I. They where very serious. They also road with run flat sport car tires on the rear and rear sport touring tires on the front. Interesting set ups, and supposedly good for over 15k miles.
    #6
  7. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    (Day 6 gallery here)

    Day 6 say the most miles in a single day, 910 or so.

    The first stop was in Watson Lake. I had no idea to the Sign Post was as big as it was. The story goes there was a worker who got home sick, and put up a sigh from his home town, and it started to grown. Now the town maintains the park, wow!
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    Took over 20 unique pictures there, many more in the daily gallery.

    Other than the "Sign Post", did not take too many pictures, Cheryl on the back of the Goldwing took a lot of pictures in flight. She will be sending me the pictures when they get back.

    It was great riding with them.

    Further on down the road we came across a couple on their bikes on the side of the road having some bike problems. The bike had run out of gas earlier in the day, and was now pouring gas out of the carb when running. The collective guess was dirt keeping the needle valve open. With a couple of well hones tapes from the plastic end of a screw driver Woody and Jim got the bike alive.
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    We grabbed some Chinese in Haines Junction. It was too early to call it a day, so we continued west. Jim/Woody where talking to a rider that had come from Tok and said the traffic had been slow and the border was really busy from 10-4 or 5 with RV traffic.

    Anyway, we kept on going, and when it was time to look for a place to camp, not much was to be found. By the time we had found a decent place, we had crossed the border and where fairly close to Tok.

    I definitely want to go along the stretch of road from Haines Junction to Tok again, the area around Kluane Lake was simply amazing. And I am looking forward to to seeing the pictures Cheryl took!

    And today had the next oops, somewhere between the first and second fill-ups the straps loosened. In the processes I lost one of my dry and folding stool. In the dry bag was a borrowed air mattress, tire spoons, pillow, other tools, lantern, and one or two other things. As we passed through Whitehorse I hit Canadian Tire and got a new mattress, flash lights and tarp. Also replaced the front tire at the Honda Dealership. Turns out 30lbs of pressure is a bit low for a Distanzi front, and it had cupped badly.
    #7
  8. barefoot2k

    barefoot2k Banned

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    Montreal, QC, Canada
    wow, what a truly amazing view in so many of those photos! looks like you had a blast!!!
    #8
  9. aktwventure

    aktwventure Adventurer

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    Nice RR TX. Keep it up. :clap
    #9
  10. teachnsurf

    teachnsurf Bonnie Adventurer

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    S-u-b-s-c-r-i-b-e-d:d
    #10
  11. GR8ADV

    GR8ADV Pow right in the kisser

    Joined:
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    881
    Location:
    Northwet
    Great photos, great weather, great ride in the making. Ya gotta love it up there.

    thanks for the rr. Im in.
    #11
  12. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    Forgot to add in a bit of detail about day 5. After I left the dam, the GPS told me of a shorter route. Turns out that route was partially constructed by an oil/gas and forest service road. It was about 40-50 miles of poor dirt road with trucks coming the other way every 5 or 10 minutes.

    Here is a bridge along the way
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    About 1/2 way along the road I really wished I had taken the slightly longer route.
    #12
  13. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    (Complete day 7 gallery)

    Day 7 started packing up the camp site
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    Then came the decision, wanted to complete the trip with a single rear tire, and so far the Avon Distanzi was doing great, I could not do it all.

    Jim and Woody had to do Prudhoe Bay, it was the title of their mission. Was mine as well, but they also have more time to play with than I.

    When we got to the info center in Tok we learned the Dalton and Top of the World HWY where both open, but only recently. But the Dalton had been closed, and as recently as 5 or 6 days prior they where turning back anything on 2 wheels except for full on dirt bikes, more or less like my KLR650.

    So fresh after the slog on the forest service road I decided to head down to McCarthy, Valdez, and go back via Top of the World HWY.

    So we split ways, Jim, Woody and Cheryl went off the Fairbanks, and I was off to McCarthy. Really enjoyed their company, and hope hey made it safe and sound to Prudhoe Bay, hopefully in the next week or so I will hear from them.

    One of the things that I had heard is the north was hit somewhat hard from the gas prices of a couple years ago, saw a few places that had obviously hit hard times.
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    After turning off Hwy 4 onto Hwy 10 (Edgerton Hwy) any regrets where pretty well quelled. Might not be the Dalton, but the scenery was simply amazing!
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    The non-paved portion of the Edgarton HWY started with this one lane excavated channel
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    There was a bit of pavement on the other side, but not very much. The road had some washboard, pot holes, but there where sections where it was safe for the KLR to bop along at 60-70mph.

    Going along I caught a glimpse of a large single lane bridge
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    Must have been 150-200ft long and over that distance in height over a river. Very cool, more pictures of it in the gallery.
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    A little bit later when i was stopped taking pictures of another bridge I was told that a bridge down the road was closing at 7pm for repairs. It was 4, so if I was going to see McCarthy I had to scoot.

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    Got to the town and crossed the bridge. Now the bridge is a "pedestrian" bridge, but they don't mind when motorcycles cross (this was me on the way out of town)
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    The town was really cool, had a couple of B&B's/Lodges, gave tours and such. Wish I had more time to explore, and I will be back, with more gas and more time. Here are a couple of the better pics of the town, more in the gallery.
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    Once I knew I was going to get out, I slowed down a bit and took my time to get a few more pictures, pretty happy with this one:
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    After I passed the damaged bridge, I got back to the old mining era railroad bridge
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    Also a few more of that large single lane bridge
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    All in all, the road was a lot of fun to ride down
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    Then I started to head down to Valdez to stay for the night. When I was about 30 miles from Valdez it started to get cold, dark, and I was tired.

    Did not take to many pictures on the way day, but the scenery was absolutely amazing.
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    It is a must ride road if you are ever in AK! Here is one of the many waterfalls along the HWY
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    Got into town, it was wet, I was tired, I had no clean clothes and it had been at least 3 full days of riding without a shower, so I rented a cabin, cheapest place to rent in town, at about $120.

    Had a shower, did laundry and had a good nights sleep.

    (Many more pics in the day 7 gallery)
    #13
  14. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    (Complete gallery from Day 8)

    Here's a pic of the cabin
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    Took a lot of good pictures, Valdez was really cool. Would have been interesting to walk around a bit more, but still got a really good sense of the town. Looked to be a lot of hard working people here. They lived in a lot of rain, and snow.

    Before breakfast I went around the town taking pictures, several of the bay and docks
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    Went and had a decent breakfast, and went off to see the salmon run. Tis the season. Again if I had more time it would have been cool to hang, heard a bear and her two cubs went down to snack on salmon every day around 2 or 2:30pm.
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    Again amazing scenery, and it turns out I was pretty lucky with the weather, they had just ended a streak of about 7 days of rain. Kind of amazing when you think about it, McCarthy is only about 150 miles away as the crow flies, but the weather was completely different, the Pacific/Gulf of Alaska and mountains must have a huge effect on the weather.

    On the way out of town talk briefly to a Flaglady, turns out they set a snowfall record this past year, just like Dallas did, except where Dallas was like 14" of snow in a 24 hour period, they had 14' in a 48 hour period.

    So, here I was, time for another decision, do I take the Ferry over to Whittier and head over to Homer, and then up to the Denali HWY???

    After a check of the weather, Denali down to Homer all had about a 50% chance of rain, north it was, to Dawson, YT.

    On the way out from Valdez I took a bit more time to take pictures
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    And back to Tok, AK. Hit the info center and found out the border on the Top of the World HWY was open from 8 to 8 AK time, it was about 4:30 at that point, they said it could not be done. I can do it.

    Talked to a local officer for a few minutes, really liked the bike, and said I should be able to make it, so off I went. And was rewarded with more great scenery
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    Made it to Chicken, and was pretty comfortable that my speed over the paved sections ensure I would be sleeping in Dawson.
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    Got my wife a Chicken, AK t-shirt which she very much likes and continued on. The scenery was truly greatHere was a picture of a damaged section
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    With 40 minutes left, it was cool to see the border
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    It was great to be back in Canada, the tundra was very neat, very spongy to walk on, and the views amazing
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    Made it to Dawson, hit the "Top of the World" golf course to get a hat for my Dad
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    Dawson was a pretty cool little town
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    So waited for the ferry to cross the river
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    And all was well, until I got onto the ferry and realized the bike was not standing quite right, eck, the rear was loosing air. By the time I got to shore it was flat.

    Wound up finding the RV/camping park in the middle of town. All of the tent sights where taken, but a young lady up from Whitehorse for the weekend was willing to allow me to squat. So I parked beside a K1200GS on the next lot, and set up my tent. Went off and get $400 out of the bank and checked out what was available.

    Now, the flat tire would not have been so bad, if it was not for gettising my tire irons off the back of the bike 3 days earlier! :baldy

    Time for sleep.
    (Complete gallery from Day 8)
    #14
  15. AZ_ADV_RIDER

    AZ_ADV_RIDER Demons In My Helmet

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    Unusual use of PVS pipe! Is that in the TouraTech catalog????

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    :D

    It was originally designed to support spare tires and a gas tank, but still worked well to hold the jerry can and camping gear. And it all cost less than $20, including new glue (last can dried up)
    #16
  17. fatboy

    fatboy Been here awhile

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    I've got an '08 klr and would love to hear more about how you setup the bike, lessons learned and so forth. Tnx -FB
    #17
  18. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    I'll get there working on the last few days :D
    #18
  19. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    (Complete Day 9 picture gallery here)

    So, woke up early, and no, the tire fairly did not fix the rear. So I took the tire off and went to the gas station, nope still won't hold air.

    Can't remember where, but it was suggested I look up Dick, the former owner and acting manager of the Downtown hotel. I was told he was a motorcycle enthusiast and will help a wayward motorcyclist. So off I went.
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    Talk to the nice Australian ladies at the front desk who called him up. He agree to come by and pick me and my tire up. We went to the local napa store to pick up some glue and a couple of patches and back to his place where he patched the tube.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Dick is a great guy who DISLIKE big cities and loves motorcycles.

    Dropped me off at the campground where I put the bike back together and packed.
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    Went, under KLR power back down to the Downtown hotel to buy some t-shirts and have some food. Had a great conversation with a couple up from the Vancouver Area
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    Went across the street for a few more shirts and off towards Whitehorse, taking a few pics as I left
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    And talked briefly with an Irishman, named Patrick who shipped his Africa Twin over.
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    On the way down to Whitehorse stopped and talk to this gentleman for a few minutes
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    A civil engineer, without a wife or mortgage quit his job to ride. And was heading south from riding Top of the World HWY and up to Inuvik. He was saying he rode about 80 to 150 miles per day, and also discussed camping and such. I saw a fair number of people doing some serious touring on bicycles, very cool.

    Not the most amazing road, but still very pleasant
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    In Whitehorse picked up a few things, like more earplugs, drill bits to release my hwy pegs, and bag of Cadbury Smarties. Weather was coming and I bolted east. Got wet. Wound up finding a hotel room.
    #19
  20. TxLoneRider

    TxLoneRider Been here awhile

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    (Day 10 gallery)

    Dy 10 started out pretty normally, nothing really noteworthy, weather was decent, and got off on my way. The Cassiar HWY was closed due to a forest fire, but was open with pilot car. After waiting 15 minutes there he was to lead us south. Although he took off pretty quickly, oh well.

    Before I got to the fire area, I got my token shot of a black bear
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    A few shots of the fire
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    In general pleasant hwy, but did not compare to some of the other sights seen, so I did not stop that much to take pictures. But still got a few
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    A few gas stops down the road, after having a nice chat with an RCMP officer, where I got a $138 souvenir, I met Paul. Who had ridden his formerly perfect VFR750 up to Prudhoe Bay
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    Camped with Paul that night, good to have the company.
    #20