Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Parepin, Feb 13, 2011.
Enjoying the story so far parepin.
Looking forward to the next installment...
Thanks for the cleanup GB even if my thumbs up post got swept up with the mess... :)
I think I met you on the road somewhere once, parepin. Great story, it jogs a few my own memories.
Maybe WestFest last summer, Klay?
well, this is a Parepin thread
ARE YOU HIGH?
No, but I remember riding north in British Columbia many years ago, really cold, in the rain, feeling homesick, and wondering why I was still riding north, and parepin captured that feeling exactly. I also really like the pictures of the camping spots on the plains.
What in the hell have I missed? Some sort of drama? If someone has something to say, or some questions to ask, go ahead. But if that was just some troll that passed through, I thank the collective for driving him away and the cleanup that followed. Anyone care to clue me in?
I havn't forgotten about this thread. In fact, it's been bothering me that I havn't gotten around to updating it in awhile. Life gets in the way some times, but I'll have some fairly interesting posts coming shortly.
Got up the next morning and packed up. Ian was hanging around for another day or so, but I was getting antsy just laying around in the tent or wandering the neighborhood. We exchanged goodbyes and I headed south, probably no earlier than mid-morning. It's kinda hard to get lost in Alaska. After all, there are maybe all of 10 highways, half of which dead end. This particular route was known as the Seward Highway, one of the deadliest roads in Alaska. And I realize why. The views were amazing as the road snaked along the coast and into Turnagain Arm, but this was a narrow two lane highway with very little shoulder to speak of. On top of that, being the only road going south, all traffic from Seward to Homer and back up to Anchorage had to follow this route. RVs, vans, trailers, and Alaskans came flying around every swooping corner, and you can bet that a good portion of the tourists weren't looking ahead. I wasn't in a constant butt-pucker, but I didn't want to fuck around. With the day fading fast, I pushed forward, determined to take the highway as far as I could. That, as it would turn out, would be the town of Seward.
The road wound along the rocky coast and gave way to gravel before long. I pushed on until I hit sand, black sand. What a beach. What a view. I burned one and toured some of the trails, but for the most part I just hung out on the beach. I took this opportunity to get in what photos I could, and even managed a half decent panorama. I watched the fishermen on the shore cast and reel, cast and reel, being sure to keep a steady pace, although I didn't see very much come in. At one point, a man with a fairly large pack came down along the beach and plopped his gear down just in front of me. He started unloading what looked like a large amount of red canvas and a collapsible oar. Curious, I just sat back and watched as he slowly began inflating the canvas one pontoon at a time, and in short time he had a fully inflated kayak. Wow. I strolled over and picked his brain a bit about this odd contraption. The kayak had apparently been loaned to him for testing purposes by the company that manufactured it. He had never been in an inflatable kayak before, and wasn't really sure what to expect. Looking out over the small whitecaps that lapped at the shore, I wasn't totally convinced that it was going to be sturdy and stiff enough to plow through them, and I was right. As he set out, the entire kayak seemed to flex and flow over the waves rather than slicing through them. Now, keep in mind I know next to nothing about kayaking, so I have no idea how this effected the handling. The guy took it all in stride, however, and shot out into the bay. I soon lost sight of him and what interest I had in his little tour of the bay. Brushing myself off, I gathered my things and trudged back to the bike.
Turning back, I passed down the same sandy road that brought me here, along the shore and back to town where I fueled up and grabbed a quick bite to eat. At the intersection next to what smelled like a fish cannery, I pulled off to the side and studied my GPS. In the background, I heard what sounded like another KLR blow past me. I glanced up to see a rider in a high-viz vest double back and cruise down the sidewalk towards me. I motioned back towards the parking lot and pulled ahead, looking to get out of traffic if this was going to be another encounter. He pulled along side me and cut his engine. Through his full-face I could barely make out the words Are you from the forum? I chuckled to myself. Which one? It didn't matter. I nodded. Where are you headed? I replied with my usual shrug and indicated that I was just interested in finding a place to camp for the night. He motioned with his gloved hand that I should follow him before starting up the '08 and pulling back out onto the highway. Sure, why not?
Same bus, different time, different bike.
So I found myself doubling back, heading north now, following this mysterious stranger on a shiny new KLR. A dozen or so miles out of Seward, we hung a left into a self storage facility. Pulling in around back and up a gravel embankment, I was led to a transit bus oddly located back in the woods. With a chuckle I pull up next to my fellow rider and dismount. Here is where handshakes were exchanged and he introduced himself as Billy. This was his bus, finished on the inside with a queen size bed in the back, office in the front, hardwood floors and cabinets all around. Very impressive. He didn't live here, but he stayed here often as it was closer to work than his house was. Well alright, my kinda guy. Shortly there-after, a woman on an older KLR, all camouflaged, pulled in alongside Billy's '08 and dismounted. She introduced herself as Rae, and the two of them were shacked up together. Good stuff. I was given a large piece of cardboard to lie out beside the bus and pitch my tent on. As I set up camp, Billy and Rae looked over my monstrosity of a KLR. They questioned me on this and that, and couldn't get enough of the air horn. Beers were passed and steaks were cooked up, and I felt right at home in the company of this couple. Once again, good people. We spent the remainder of the evening exchanging stories and looking at pictures, knocking back a few as we did. With the beer taking it's toll, I took the opportunity to say goodnight and crawled into my bedroll for a solid night's rest.
Someone was bagging on something you said. He was called out, berated by the collective, and the mods dropped by and cleaned it up for us all.
I don't know if I was "fret"ing, I'm just kinda disappointed that I missed out. I love a good dog pile. Anyhow, good on the ADV crowd. It's uncanny how well you guys can gang together when this shit goes down.
I awoke the next morning to dew covering my gear. I slept in. When I eventually rolled out of bed, Rae was there with a plate of fruit to help me greet the day. She stayed outside with me and kept me company as I packed up my gear. I was told I should head towards Homer, considering the weather was still fairly nice and that if I made it there in good time I would be rewarded with quite the view. Content with this I nodded and had me next goal in mind. With my gear packed back up, I took the opportunity to steal a few hits before hopping back upon my plastic steed and followed Rae back into Seward where we met Billy at his work, the great Alaskan Railroad. We exchanged goodbyes and I assured them that they would be hearing from me again. With that, I headed north out of Seward, then west towards Homer.
The ride was fairly uneventful, but quite pleasing. The weather was holding out, but I could see clouds on the horizon creeping in. I worried that I wouldn't make it before the weather moved in, but reminded myself that in the end, it was really no biggy. Don't rush, you'll miss out on the ride. And so I didn't. I took my time, plenty of pit stops to fuel up and get my head straight. I did eventually make it to Homer in the late afternoon, but by then the sky was full of clouds. The air was still clear, but everything by now had turned to different shades of gray. I cruised on down to the shore, following the road until you couldn't follow it any more. This little spit was a mess. Little huts lined the road on either side, cashing in on everything from cheap seafood to kayak tours to The Deadliest Catch cafes (no shit). A lot of people. I putzed around a bit, scoping out the fishing boats and cruise ships that stayed just off shore until the tide provided the depth needed for a timely offload. I even remember poking around someone's odd collection of ancient fishing trollers, nets, bouys, fake castle spires, old autos, you name it, this guy had it. Made for a very interesting back yard. Satisfied that I had seen what homer would have to offer today, I doubled back and headed east towards the mainland, hoping to dodge whatever weather the skies were determined to bring down upon me. I don't remember where I camped, but I know I didn't make it back to the city in time.
I came sailing into Anchorage in the early afternoon the next day. I remember it being a sunday, and it had been drizzling all day. I headed straight back towards the House of Harley, where I knew I'd find shelter for the afternoon while I planned out my next move. I stopped at a Pizza Buffet along the way to dry out and stuff my face and pockets with as many slices as I could. As luck would have it, when I finally reached the House of Harley, the whole company was out back having a quality BBQ. Awesome. Wally, a fellow from the retail section of the shop with whom I had befriended the last time I was here, called me over for some steak and potatos. Awesome. I was sure to reward him with a hell of a space cruise to let the grub settle before retiring to my tent where I listened to the drizzle continue. I spent my time mooching WIFI, watching videos and pouring over maps to plan out my next move. As I mentioned before, this was pretty easy in the great state of Alaska as there were really only a handful of established roads as options. I knew I had to go north, and apparently that's all the info I needed. Munching on cold leftover pizza, I dozed off watching the last few episodes of The Long Way Round.
Thanks for coming back to this man. We've been patiently waiting.
Yeah, I haven't lost interest. Just lost track of time. Thanks for stickin with it.
As the daylight broke over the urban landscape, I shook the dew from my rainfly and packed in the bedroll. I showered, sent out a last few emails before breaking out onto the highway north with Fairbanks in my sights. I don't remember much from this day. There's not a lot on this highway. Plenty of wilderness, but in the end the highway all looked the same. The day was socked in with low flying clouds, blocking out the sunlight and obliterating any hopes I would have of a clear view of the mountains. Nearing the Denali Highway turnoff, I remember it being cold. Real cold. Like, really fucking cold. The win kicked in pretty viciously and at one point I sought shelter in what appeared to be a giant... foam... igloo. There may still be black skid marks in the road when this building came into view. I poked around a bit as I tried to dry off. The combat boots I bought for the trip proved to be very much NOT waterproof and at this point had incorporated garbage bags into my feet layering. I poked around what turned out to be known as Igloo city for a bit and contemplated building a fire in one of the trash barrels. I even cruised around towards the back of the property where I found a collection of standing hunting cabins. I must have checked every door in hopes of finding one unlocked. I was so cold and miserable by this point that I would have gladly crawled in through a window to get out of the weather and off the endless highway. I wouldn't have broken in of course, and had planned on leaving a $20 and a note, but let it be known that I would had a wood stove toked in no time. But, no luck, so I reluctantly slid back onto the sun-bleached seat pad and pulled back out onto the highway.
I didn't make it much further. As a matter of fact, I stopped at the very next stop opposite the entrance to the Denali Highway. I mooched some coffee and hot chocolate at the gas station and picked the owners brain a bit about the igloo down the rode. The story goes that was another gas station and the owner had built the igloo to be a hotel, known as Igloo City. Apparently he didn't do much research, or for whatever the reason he hadn't added enough fire exits or some such and it violated building and safety codes. I walked around the water-logged and unfinished interior a bit before. I remember an open center with three or so circular floors along the outer walls, each with several small rooms branching off. Imagine three doughnuts of rooms stacked on top, covered in foam. I didn't get any decent pics, but I hope that's clear enough. Anyway, it was all abandoned and now just sits there absorbing the abuse every year since. Alrighty then, I gassed up and pulled into the rural road just down the highway. I scoped out a campground and a few side trails before settling on what looked to be an abandoned homestead. The house was toast, but the yard provided an adequate spot to pitch camp. I got a good fire going, even with the wind blasting me through the night. Ate some decent MRE and passed out with the wind-socked tent creating a half-decent white noise.
Got up the next morning in much more pleasant weather. Don't get me wrong, it was still gray and drizzling, but the wind had stopped goddamnit. I packed up my stuff, discovering in the meantime that I had pitched camp in one hell of a pile of moose shit. Awesome... I cleaned up the best I could and got my gear together. I was back on the highway before I knew it. The trip into Fairbanks was fairly uneventful. I stopped plenty to do what I do, took my time and just enjoyed the ride. Pulling into town, I headed straight for Alaska Fun Center, one of the few Kawasaki dealers around. I grabbed some carb cleaner and a few other parts for the bike I had broken along the way and crossed the street to some random campsite. Awesome. I would make camp here for the day and tear into the bike. I still had problems with the carb overflowing and was determined to sort it out before attempting the Dalton Highway. With a cheap turkey tin from wally-world, I pulled the carb, disassembled it and gave everything a good hose down with carb cleaner before taking the whole tray back to Alaska Fun Center to get a second opinion. The parts guy looked through the jets, needle, floats, all that crap. What we settled on was a worn float needle, and lucky me, they had one in stock. I grabbed a new needle amongst a few other parts and hiked back to my campsite to get everything back together and go for a test run. So far, so good. On this test run I happened to notice a building under construction just up the road and took the opportunity to dig through their dumpster and stock up on firewood. I had fun flyin down the highway with such a load. Got a roaring fire going, dried out what I could and crashed relatively early that night, determined to get an early start in the morning.
Got up and got out early the next morning, heading north towards the Dalton Highway. The ride north was pretty fun. Lots of twisty roads winding up and into the wilderness. Good views and a glimpse of the pipeline off to the side every now and again. Before long, I passed the massively over-stickered sign to the beginning of the Dalton Highway. The dirt came quick and I flicked over my odo. With a stock tank and a not-so-jetted right carb, I really had to keep track of my fuel on this run. More so now than I ever had before. The road begins with a fairly entertaining ride. It reminded me of a dirt rollercoaster as the path followed the terrain rather than dominating it. At one point I pulled alongside several hunters and picked their brains a bit as far as the fueling situation. Content with the feedback, I continued on. To be honest, there isn't much to talk about. Imagine just a never ending, winding rutted road cutting through the forest with an occasional semi truck hauling by down the center lane. The terrain seemed to switch back and forth between compact dirt, loose gravel, and broken asphalt with no rhyme or reason. I continued on, crossing the Yukon River for my first gas stop and a caffeine fix, then hopping back in the seat to follow the pipeline north. Made a stop at the Arctic Circle for a few photo ops, which seemed a necessity. I made camp that night in Coldfoot, right along the Koyukuk river on the far side of the airfield. Had a mighty tasty rice and sausage dinner and spent the night scavenging driftwood and getting a solid bonfire going.