Another chapter in the saga of Traveling With HayDuchessLives And Surviving Summer has once again arrived in Alaska, and that means those of us who survived another winter are on the loose, ready to commit mayhem wherever our bikes will take us. Memorial Day weekend being the traditional start of the summer season up here, and the weather on the Dalton Hwy promising to be favorable, the decision was made to repeat last year's successful conquering of the Haul Road (chronicled here: HayDee Is No Longer A Virgin) The original plan was to meet in Fairbanks, spend the night at the UAF dorm, then get an early start Saturday morning for Deadhorse, going all the way together. HayDuchessLives (hereinafter called, simply, HayDee) wasn't terribly enthused about doing the 495 miles to the northern end in one push, as she does not consider herself to be a real hard core distance rider, even though she had managed the roughly 480 mile round trip from Wiseman to Deadhorse and back last year at this time quite capably. That was the trip where she went all the way (to Deadhorse) with Beamertwin, losing her Haul Road virginity in the process. So when yours truly had a typical flash of brilliance (hey it's my story, and I can embellish it all I want to ) while riding down the highway a few days earlier, an executive decision was made (with the appropriate fear and trembling, I might add) to alter the plan. We would now ride up to Wiseman for Saturday night, and then, since neither of us had ever done so, ride to the small town of Manley at the end of the Elliott Hwy on Sunday, and enjoy a liesurely day there, in addition to taking a soak in the hot springs for which the small town is known. To my amazement, HayDee concurred, so reservations were made, and planning continued along the new lines. Two friends who are in the midst of a 23,500 mile circumnavigation of North America were a couple of days behind schedule, and meeting them along the Tok Cut-Off on the same afternoon I was scheduled to be in Fairbanks left this rider looking at arriving in that city far behind schedule. Not a serious problem in itself, but having made the mistake of admonishing HayDee to be there early, it would not do to be late myself. The risk was too great and I certainly didn't want HayDee berating me for the entire weekend. Fortunately, there was an abundance of rabbits to be found almost the entire distance, and the City on the Chena was attained in record time, much to my relief. Might mention here that the temperatures in Interior Alaska were soaring, with the lowest between Glennallen and Fairbanks being at the summit of Isabel Pass when the thermometer indicated 69°. Scooting across the Mitchell Expressway en route to the UAF dorms, at the Peger Rd intersection the thermometer showed 91°, the highest on this trip. Even being in a hurry, there was time for a quick snack stop along the Richardson Hwy and a photo of the Delta River valley looking back toward Black Rapids - After a quick check-in at the dorm, we walked over to the home of AKBeemer and Spousal Unit, arriving only fashionably late, delighted to find Mr & Mrs Solarmoose there as well. SU was busily grilling marinated beef, while AKB was tending to liquid refreshments. Conversation ensued, naturally. To add to the enjoyment, shortly after HayDee and I got there, the legendary George Rahn and his S. O. showed up. Having heard about him for years, it was a real pleasure to finally meet, and converse with, this talented and knowledgeable gentleman. Oddly enough, although we are both motorcycle buffs, most of the conversation centered on vintage Hudson automobiles. Really enjoyed the time, and am thankful to Beemer and S. U. for putting it together and inviting us. All too soon HayDee and I had to return to the dorm in order to get some shut-eye before the alarms sounded in the AM. Despite eliminating the need to ride all the way to Deadhorse, we hoped to make it to the top of Atigun Pass before returning to Wiseman for a night's rest. Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny. The temperature had dropped overnight, which made sleeping much more comfortable, but the rising sun gave promise of another warm to hot day, especially for those of us unaccustomed to temperatures much above 70° F. To augment the supplies we each had carried from our respective homes, we made a quick stop at Wally World to get a few last minute items, including ½ gallon of milk for breakfast Sunday morning. Then it was off to Hilltop Truckstop for gas and grub. Following the sterling examples set by previous ride report authors, we decided that it was time to add some food porn to a ride report otherwise cluttered with photos of boringly beautiful mountains, valleys, and other natural attractions. Her breakfast order (recognizable scrambled eggs and homefries, plus something unrecognizable , but I assumed it was something HayDee deemed healthy, as she likes to eat healthy) - Mine (easily recognizable as scrambled eggs, homefries, wheat toast, and scorched :huh reindeer sausage) - It started out innocently enough, but while I'm sure HayDee's mother told her not to play with her food, it was a lesson quickly forgotten, as can be seen throughout this report. The first example - Always thinking ahead (at least when it comes to dessert) a little recon was in order - and - Outside Hilltop, the two bikes waited patiently, ready to get underway - From Hilltop it's just about 65 miles to the start of the Dalton Highway/Haul Road/AK-11 at Mile 0. Along those miles are hills, potholes, sweepers, tight curves, and a lot of other enjoyable features for a rider headed for fun on a sunny summer morning. We turned in to the large pull-out across from the Livengood turn-off to air down our tires and check the bikes over before hitting the gravel just three miles up the highway. While HayDee professes supreme confidence in her <s>Dump</s>... her, uh, Lovely DR, it seemed she was giving it a stern talking to as we prepared to get back on the road. But then... I think she may have realized what she just did, and appeared to be begging forgiveness. Then again, she might have been praying that the pitiful little KLR wannabe would not break down in front of the proudly masculine bike standing tall behind it (her). After that, it was onward and northward; next stop: The Yukon River for gas and a pit stop. HayDee's DR having a smaller tank than that on my KLR, HayDee topped it off with gas at Yukon Crossing's pump. With an ongoing thread here on ADVrider entitled Show us your bike @ the bridge, we felt compelled to get a few shots of our bikes on the Yukon River bridge, being that we were right there. HayDee patiently complied with my instructions, both as bike rider and photographer. The following two photos, which can be viewed in about 2.1 nanoseconds each, are the result of over ½ hour of grueling labor under the intense heat of the noonday sun. (Please post favorable comments even if you think they look like crap. :huh) Next, it was up to Hot Spot for a quick snack. HayDee said she wasn't hungry until I mentioned that I was buying. So we had a couple of root beer floats and enjoyed walking around in the aptly named breezeway, looking over the wide variety of gifts and tourist momentoes. HayDee had to touch, as well as look, but I managed to stop her from filing a complaint just in time. From Hot Spot our next planned stop was the Arctic Circle wayside, where we would get the obligatory photos in front of the sign, despite already having quite a collection with various bikes from previous rides. Around Mackey Hill, Mile 87 or so, we ran into wet gravel and mud, as DOT was watering and grading from there to the beginning of pavement at Mile 90, so we got to enjoy a couple miles of slop and soft spots to make us appreciate the pavement even more. Before we reached the Arctic Circle, however, another bridge loomed ahead, over one of my favorite rivers. This time HayDee did the honors with the camera, and yers truly was the one wasting gas. That little chore done, it was time to climb over the next ridge, drop down the gravel hill that is Beaver Slide, and dodge a few hundred potholes as we rode the few more miles to the Arctic Circle wayside. A tour bus driver was kind enough to snap a few photos of HayDee and me as we posed with the bikes, none of us looking quite as clean and tidy as we had when we departed the UAF dorms that morning. Then back on the road to accomplish the enjoyable paved (for the most part) miles to Coldfoot. For several years there has been a patch of gravel on a decreasing-radius corner at the bottom of a slight grade right around Mile 126.5. The patch took up over 2/3 of the outside lane, and I would warn any riders accompanying me to be aware of it. This year it sported its own, identifying sign, although HayDee appeared to be unsure of the reason behind the name - Over Gobbler's Knob without stopping for any photos, down across some more potholes, past Pump 5 and through the fun curves mingled with the bridges over Jim River, then once again beginning to climb. Just past Grayling Lake the blue sky, sunlit mountains, and general beauty of the place compelled a stop for a photo - And just a few miles farther, still more, with HayDee already stopped to photograph the South Fork of the Koyukuk with the highway and pipeline crossings - Being that the view from that hilltop is one of my favorites as well, yers truly snapped a couple of shots too - Photos taken, we again pushed on, thoroughly enjoying the warmth and the beautiful scenes unfolding ahead as we traveled. A stop at Coldfoot to fuel up again and to check the buffet schedule to make sure we wouldn't be reduced to eating granola bars tonight, and we set off to get checked in to our lodging in Wiseman. That done, a few things unloaded that didn't need to go any farther with us, we headed for Atigun Pass. The heat was still overbearing, at least for a couple of Alaskans who rarely get a chance to acclimate to such elevated temperatures (without traveling to the southern South 48 states), so we welcomed the slight drop as we continued north, with increasing elevation. At the end of pavement, now Mile 195, DOT was watering and grading, but mostly just smoothing the surface, and only for a few miles, so this did little to slow us down, or to coat our bikes with the usual snot. Sukakpak came into view around Mile 194, and by Mile 200 it was too good to not stop for more photos. HayDee was obviously a bit slower than me this time - Even the scenery behind us was acceptable - Continuing up the Dietrich Valley we just enjoyed more of the same - HayDee stopped around Mile 236 and got a shot or two of the climb to Chandalar Shelf, but I waited 'til we got to the top and were able to look out across the Shelf to the east - After that, it was just another 7 or 8 miles to the top of the pass, where the temperature was a delightful 54°F. Cool enough that there were no mosquitoes or other insects, and we took the time to shoot a few more photos. One looking down to the Atigun Valley on the north side - And another of HayDee photographing the cirque at the top, no doubt planning a future climb up to the top of the ridge to get a better view - So that was how we both "got on top (of Atigun Pass, that is). Next installment: Going A Little Farther Than We've Ever Gone Before.