Alaska 2014: Hotel Budget Zero

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jfman, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. HighFive

    HighFive Never Tap-Out

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    Holy smokes......simply fantastic, jfman! :clap

    Love seeing you winging it solo.

    HF :thumbup
    #61
  2. jfman

    jfman Long timer

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    Location:
    Montreal (traveling Americas June '17 to May '18)
    DAY 17 (Whittier)

    Travel tips for this part: Follow the speed limit on the Kenai peninsula

    As I hinted earlier I woke up rather hung-over from the night before; the kind where you have to lean against a tree or pray to your ceramic gods. A lot of the folks at the cabin went to watch a World Cup game at a bar in town but I just went to the laundromat in town to sip coffee and wash my clothes(after 17 days, not many clean undies left) The laundromat had a café in it and they also served breakfast.
    I always enjoy this kind of art.

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    After that I went back to the cabin to pack my tent and then stopped at the bar where people had gone to say my goodbyes. I could see a storm was about to roll in and I wanted to leave town before the rains came. That day I was also supposed to go to Homer and check out a piece of land for a board member but all that went out the window when I checked the weather on my phone.

    One last look at the bay before heading out.

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    On my way out of town I did stop to check out Exit Glacier.

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    Even better in the parking lot was this awesome rig from Europe.

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    On the way back to the main road, while overtaking a view blocker, I mean a minivan, I met this guy.

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    There is a ton of cops on the Kenai and I kept my speed in check for most of the ride, just bad luck here. He gave me a little break on the speed. Size wise hat ticket was the biggest one I have ever gotten. I think they pack a full size printer in their cars in Alaska.

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    Weather now on my side I decided to check out Whittier.

    Chunks of ice in Portage Lake

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    The Whittier tunnel is a single lane many miles long pay tunnel you have to cross to get to the harbor. A batch of cars will go thru one way while the other side is waiting for the last car to come thru. They make the motorcycle guys wait until the last car has rolled in to get in the tunnel. I guess so we don't get run over if we crash on the railroad tracks inside the tunnel.

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    The view inside the tunnel

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    On the other side all there is are some cruise ships and a few restaurants. If you are rolling thru the area it is worth checking out but I would not plan a day around it.

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    Stopped for dinner here.

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    Mostly for the view.

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    After Whittier, I decided to go check out the firehouse in Girdwood to grab a gift for my buddy who is a volunteer fireman.

    They had this nice setup to carry the injured.

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    There was a hippie festival of some kind going on in Girdwood.

    I agree with only 66% of this sign.

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    On the way out of Girdwood I passed this sweet caferacer who I thought had run out of gas.

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    Turns out this rider had gone down and was waiting for a tow. He was not wearing a helmet and was very lucky. After I made sure he was ok, I gave him my version of the helmet saves lives spiel then I got back on the road.

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    Went back to House of Harley Davidson for another round of chatter with other travelers.
    #62
  3. Smithers167

    Smithers167 Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    That little tan truck you saw is camping next to me on the salcha river right on the alcan.
    #63
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  4. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Awesomeness!:clap
    #64
  5. scudrunner82

    scudrunner82 combustion addict

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    Keep it comin!

    That ticket is just souvenir. :D
    #65
  6. murdock84

    murdock84 Been here awhile

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    Its been three days. Time to add more to this!
    #66
  7. advmoto66

    advmoto66 Ride On!

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    :super I like your style. Awesome pics great narrative.
    #67
  8. Oldone

    Oldone One day at a time!

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    #68
  9. hvilla

    hvilla Been here awhile

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    Aztec, NM, USA
    Thanks for taking us along...lovin' this!!! :clap
    #69
  10. #1Fan

    #1Fan Been here awhile

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    Lakewood, CO , USA
    :dj:dj
    #70
  11. johnnywad

    johnnywad Out to Lunch

    Joined:
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    One of the better ride reports/adventures I have read. You do know how to travel ........:freaky
    #71
  12. Zencyl

    Zencyl Been here awhile

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    East Texas
    Enjoying the report, thanks for taking us along!
    #72
  13. AKDuc

    AKDuc Alaska Born Ducatisti

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    Anchorage, Alaska
    Very nice to have met you. Great ride report and thank you very much for sharing.

    Like many have said, you sure know how to do it right embracing your good fortune.

    Thanks again and here's to continuing happy trails, Mark H.
    #73
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  14. Direktor

    Direktor Been here awhile

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    Great!:clap
    #74
  15. ak bike

    ak bike Been here awhile

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    alaska 55 years or so
    Great ride report ,well done . Who was that guy on the Harley with all the bones showing ???? :0)
    #75
  16. jfman

    jfman Long timer

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    Thanks for all the comments guyz.


    I would haved loved a ride in it. :D

    Nice to meet you too! I almost ran into you in Seward on the way back from Safeway but we were going opposite directions.

    Our very own Akduc, two posts up from you :D
    #76
  17. jfman

    jfman Long timer

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    Location:
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    DAY 18 (Revisiting Hatchers Pass and another unexpected spot)

    Travel tips for this part: camping hack at the end

    This day was a day of repeats: After a second time on this trip ordering the country fried steak at the retaurant in front of House or Harley Davidson, a few of us were considering our options for the day. The big factor here was that it was a rainy day.

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    At first I was going to leave with a group of 3 riders to ride the Denali highway but I was a lagging behind on packing up and the thought of riding a whole day in the rain on a dirt road pushed me to look a shorter, easier ride for that day. The evening before I had met Frederico along with a bunch of other great riders. Frederico is a rider from Argentina who has been traveling from South America all the way to Alaska. Frederico is a fun and laid back world traveler and is quite the minimalist. He rides a little Honda 250 and pretty much everything he carries is handed down stuff. I explained to him that I had missed out on Hatchers Pass earlier in the trip and we decided to go check it out.

    We came in from the Wasilla side and rode East.

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    In this spot Frederico decided to go test his off road capabilities.

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    The fog being thick, you can barely tell you are heading towards some nice mountains.

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    Climbing up, there were a few spots where the fog was beginning to dissipate.

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    Now we were hitting the good stuff. Must be even nicer on a clear day.

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    This part was brand new top soil and was slicker than snot. Frederico was on street tires and he was sliding all over the place.

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    This little lake is beautiful.

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    This fall, cascading thru the snow wasn't bad either.

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    Now on the Palmer side of the pass, I showed that previous Archangel camping spot to Frederico before we left the area.

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    Enjoying the scenery on the main road.

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    We went to Palmer to warm up and eat some good Mexican food at a local restaurant then we hit the road towards Valdez. As soon as we left the restaurant the rain picked and picked up hard. This was going to be a painful ride.

    Fourty miles out, we spotted a stranded Ural on the side of the road so we pulled over to check things out. Having read a lot about Urals, I thought he was going to be broken down but turns out he just needed a little gas to get home. I have to give this brand more credit.

    You meet the most interesting folks on Urals.

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    The original plan was to camp on the Nelchina River trail. At this point we were only about 80 miles away but with the rain still falling, we were tired, soaken wet and the temperature was falling below 10 celcius. After a bit, I spotted a familiar snow pile on my right thru my fogged up blurry visor. It was the Matanuska Glacier overlook from day 12!

    I remembered that there was a roof there so we ducked for cover while we would talk about our options. We also chatted a bit with a guy from Switzerland who was camping there as well. He was biking all the way from Alaska to Argentina. When you think your are a tough traveler think about pedaling all those miles with camping gear: Insanity.

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    At first, I was aprehensive about camping there, at a tourist overlook. Seemed like a sure way to get an expensive fine.

    In the end Frederico's bohemian ways, and our near hypotermia won over our desire to obey the law.

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    I dont think we could have done better in the pouring rain.

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    All of our stuff was wet so I broke out my hack, a little home made tent furnace. All it is is a Coleman/Stanley pot from a 15$ cookset[/URL] that you drop two large size sterno cups for fondue[/URL] into. The cups fit snuggly in there. You put one at the bottom (empty or full) to insulate the bottom of the pot so the heat the doesnt get to the tent floor. The cup on top is lit and warms up the area. You can also carry it around with you using the handle.

    Not Smokey Bear approved but it works. Just leave it lit for 10 minutes and the whole tent is warm.

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    Maybe we were supposed to throw the lid back on before the fumes affected our judgment.

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    We went to sleep dreaming of warm sunny days.
    #77
    RJ44 and greatbeard like this.
  18. pazzo

    pazzo Been here awhile

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    What a great ride and report! Congrats and thank you.
    #78
  19. Conundrum29

    Conundrum29 Unter den Linden

    Joined:
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    Montreal, Canada
    Inspirational.:clap
    #79
  20. jfman

    jfman Long timer

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    DAY 19 (Valdez)

    Waking up at the overlook we had to lay our stuff over the pavement to get it to dry.

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    What a difference a night makes.

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    When this pulled up, we knew it was time to leave.

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    A little further East

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    Self explanatory

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    No paddles needed

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    I am developing a taste for planes on this trip

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    You know you might be in Alaska when

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    Getting close to Glennallen

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    Wildlife sighting on the way to Valdez

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    Now approaching Thompson Pass

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    We arrived at this curve in the road

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    I decide to stop and walk back for a few shots while Frederico stayed there

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    I walk back to the bikes and I cant find my new friend???


    Then I hear a voice from above.

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    Turns out someone has installed a climbing rope on this hill. I climbed up there as well to check things out. Both Frederico and I thought this could a great spot to camp.

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    Further on the Thompson Pass we pulled over to photograph this glacier

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    These two girls wanted us to take their picture by the glacier. I didn't tell them that I would make them famous.

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    We stopped to check the Bridal Veil Fall on the other side of the pass.

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    Arriving in Valdez we rode around for a bit then we checked out the harbor.

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    We were there just in time to see people coming back with their catches of the day.

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    These guys are everywhere hoping to snag a filet from the fishermen. I spotted one who got lucky but most of them have to settle for scraps.

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    They are quite plentiful and they don't mind your presence at all.

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    We had been told in Anchorage that the place to see in Valdez was Dayville road, on the other side of the bay. The Pink Salmons come back to hatch there and that attracts bears, sea lions, bald eagles and sea otters.

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    Here are the salmons making their way to the hatchery.

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    The sea lions stand back and take their turns at catching a snack then rejoin their buddies.

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    So much salmon that you cant see thru the water. They go nuts when a sea lion swims by.

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    This salmon is catching air to save his life.

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    Are you here to represent freedom or are you here for the food?

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    And your buddies?

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    It is getting late so we go to Safeway for food and we ride to a trail on the other side of town. It is a trail that runs alongside a river and if my memory serves me correctly it is called Mineral Creek road.

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    There is 10$ camping in town but we set up camp here on the trail.

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    Tomorrow: We go fishing
    #80