Alaska 2018 - I only celebrate my birthday every 60 years

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Ozarks Rider, Jun 26, 2018.

  1. Phoenix101

    Phoenix101 Long timer

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    we only do passports... makes it a quick in and out even when we have to do the paperwork for a shotgun...
    #81
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  2. hjerry59

    hjerry59 Adventurer

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    Inspiring ride report, makes me think I need to do something more special for my 60th in 2019! Thank you!!
    #82
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  3. Zencyl

    Zencyl Been here awhile

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    Enjoying the report so far :lurk
    #83
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  4. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

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    Thanks! As I mentioned earlier, I was inspired by all those that went before me and got a lot of information from these ride reports as well as YouTube. My 60th birthday was just an excuse. Whatever it takes to make this trip or any other adventure is all good!
    #84
  5. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

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    Much appreciated! Thank you!
    #85
  6. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

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    DAY 11 ---------- Banff National Park, BC to Dawson Creek, BC__________470 Miles/756 km

    July 9 - Day 11.jpg

    Peaceful and uneventful night’s sleep. Woke up to about 55 degrees/13C and got packed up. It was a nice little spot and I wouldn’t have minded staying a bit longer but six days and counting before Dan gets to Anchorage and I begin the second leg of the journey.

    The first thirty percent of the day’s trip was absolutely amazing scenery. Icefields Parkway and Hwy 93 up through Jasper National Park on Hwy 16 is a must-ride area. If you are fortunate enough to get nice weather as I did, the stretch between Banff and Jasper is not to be missed. Had a deer run across the highway from my left that was closer than I would like. He was already at full tilt when I saw him coming across the road and fortunately, he leapt over the guardrail on my side and was gone without incident. This would be the only real encounter that was this close to presenting a problem for the entire trip. I saw plenty of animals alongside the road but all were pretty well balanced.

    But, the remainder of the day’s ride up Hwy’s 40 to Grand Prairie and Hwy 43 to Dawson Creek is entirely forgettable. Rolling scrub and dusty, plenty of construction, and my low energy level wasn’t helped by the fact that I was waiting for some interesting place to pop up for breakfast that never happened. My other personal shortcoming is when I pass by a perfectly good place to eat, I will debate about whether I want to stop and go back, but after ruminating about it for a minute or so I figure there isn’t any point because now it’s too far back to turn around. No matter how many times I promise myself that I won’t do that anymore, I can spend an entire day doing this and getting really really hungry in the process!

    A lot of big truck traffic on Hwy 40 and there also seemed to be a lot of service trucks who were in a hurry to get somewhere. It felt like it was the end of a work week, but it was a Monday, so maybe it’s like that every afternoon. Most were going the same direction as myself heading for Grand Prairie, except one guy who was passing a big truck from the opposite direction and possibly didn’t see me until he was committed in my lane and barely got over in time. I didn’t see him right away either but was able to grab the far-right side of my lane. In a four wheeled vehicle it would have been much closer.



    I had an RV park lined up without a reservation for a place to camp in Dawson Creek, BC that night. But I had not written down the address and I didn’t have any data at the moment. I came into town and saw the famous sign for the southern terminus of the Alaska Highway (aka The Alcan) so I pulled in there to get some pictures. The sun was headed down and the light was perfect. No one else was around to begin with so I got out my trusty tiny tripod so I could get in the picture with my bike. Took a few snaps, and was finishing up when a car with a couple of people and another motorcyclist were pulling in. I had moved my bike out of the way in case anyone was to show up while I was figuring out my next plan of action to locate someplace to camp for the night.

    I offered to take a picture of the couple and then got talking to Keith from Missouri who was riding a Goldwing. I took a couple of pictures for him and we continued to share some stories from the road. He was heading up the 1400-mile route the following day so we discussed running it together. I was glad to have some company, especially about hearing the accounts of how desolate it can be and the lack of services along the way. I also mentioned that I needed to try and locate some way to look up an address, and he offered me the use of the internet access at his hotel. Then he added that he had two beds if I was interested, he’d be happy to give me a place to crash for the night. My immediate response was that it sounded like a good idea, and I’d be happy to split the cost of the room with him. I’m many things, but a hypocrite I’m not.

    2018 Alaska MC trip 012A_Plain Alaska Hwy sign_Manip.jpg 2018 Alaska MC trip 010_Keith Alaska Hwy sign.JPG Mile '0' marker Dawson Creek_IMG_2653.jpg

    Went over and took a picture of the official milepost marker to add to the collection and then back to the hotel to clean up. Then off to get some grocery supplies and a futile attempt to find a small propane canister for my cooking stove at Canadian Tire and then Walmart. The internet wasn’t great at the hotel but we ate at an A&W Root Beer and their internet was incredibly fast. I’m not a frequent visitor of fast food establishments so it never crossed my mind to look there for internet. Time to hit the hay and get some much-needed rest. Long day.
    #86
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  7. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

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    DAY 12 ---------- Dawson Creek, BC to Liard Hot Springs, BC__________470 Miles / 756 km

    July 10 - Day 12.jpg

    Arose uncharacteristically early, around 530am, and had breakfast in the restaurant associated with the motel. It was a prearranged menu but it was breakfast and who’s complaining? Temperature was actually pretty decent for such an early start and a beautiful day ahead of us.

    Traffic was surprisingly heavier than I would have thought to start, but once we got north of Ft. St. John it all but disappeared. We stopped in Wonowon and Keith put on fuel, he had also gassed up the night before in Dawson Creek. I hadn’t put on gas since Grand Prairie the night before and was still looking good. Can you see where this is going?

    I had not just one, but two fuel stops pegged in my trusty BMW Nav V. But when we got to them, they were overgrown with weeds and brush! They looked like they had been closed since the Eisenhower administration/Louis St. Laurent administration (I’m trying to convert everything). With 21 miles / 33km showing on my range forecast, and 49 miles / 79km to the next guaranteed fuel in Ft. Nelson, my first instinct is “I don’t want to be that guy. That would be a euphemism for idiot. The 2015 BMW R1200 GSA holds about 8 gallons. I briefly entertained the idea of having some sort of auxiliary fuel source, but I was pretty sure with a range of roughly 300-320 miles / 480-515 km that I should be okay without one…IF I JUST STOPPED AND GOT GAS ONCE IN A WHILE! The good news about a large tank is it gives you plenty of range without auxiliary fuel canisters. The bad news is it lulls you into a false sense of complacency that you always have enough to make it to the next fuel stop!

    I wasn’t too worried from the standpoint of getting stranded. I had never run out of fuel before so I wasn’t sure just how accurate the range indicator was. Also, I had a towing strap with me and figured if I came up short Keith could help me out. Only one way to see how this was going to turn out, we get back on and ride. Interesting side note to this is that when you are desirous of something, it seems like everyone but you have it. To my point, it’s common for cars and trucks to carry jerry cans of gas along this route, and it seemed like every southbound vehicle had a jerry can lashed to their roof or trunk. Honestly, if there would have been a naked woman playing the piano on the hood of a car passing us, all I would have seen was whether they had a gas container of some sort. Every stinkin one did!

    As the range is winding down, now below 5 miles remaining, I’m thinking at least it doesn’t seem to be overstating my range. Not that it would have been that much of a consolation, but in these matters even the smaller victories are worth something. Then 0! I was fully anticipating the bike shutting down and me holding on so I didn’t lurch over the handlebars. But no, we were still good. This gave me a little time to finish hatching a plan I had been working on, which was to look for a car or truck in one of the pullouts and see if they might be able to spare me a gallon of gas. After all, if all of the cars southbound had a gas can, why wouldn’t northbound vehicles be the same? At around 12 miles /19km below 0, I spied a semi (not likely much help) and an old pickup hooked to a trailer. I didn’t have any way to communicate with Keith but I was in front so I pulled in. No one was in the pickup, so I pulled up alongside the trailer where the door was open. It was dark inside so I just said “Can I buy a gallon of gas from you?” A voice inside responded, “Sure for $20!”. To which I replied with relief, “Whatever it costs”.

    It was a Father and son team headed for Anchorage and turns out they had plenty of gas because their old pickup only got five miles per gallon and they were stopping frequently to reload along the Alcan. I put some gas in but I was trying not to take too much as it was only another 20 miles to a fuel station. I pulled out a $20 bill which they initially refused but I was insistent, as avoiding the alternative method for getting to a place where I could fuel was worth many times that. I took a picture of these fine gentlemen but of course that is among the lost photos. Along the way I began thinking that maybe I should have taken every bit of a gallon and I had potentially discovered yet another way to look like an idiot if I somehow managed to run out of gas even after I got this infusion! Or for all I know I might have made it without stopping. We will never know.

    Keith and I proceeded, after filling up in Ft. Nelson. We went past Muncho Lake which is a highlight of this segment. We caught it on a particularly nice day and the package deal was spectacular.

    Later down the road we stopped at Toad River Lodge for lunch. The road makes you work a little bit through here so we were ready for a break. Mid sandwich an older gentleman walks up to our table and says “Hey there’s a couple of bikes out there that just got run over”. This almost never fails to irritate me because it’s way more than likely that this is some people’s idea of humor, but then ‘one Mississippi, two Mississippi’ I realized it’s our benefactors with the gas can! So we laughed and laughed… This does highlight one aspect of the Alcan, and that is you get used to seeing the same people over the duration of the trip as you leap frog each other between gas, food, and lodging stops. There aren’t many alternate routes along the way so most people are either going north, or south.

    Our destination for the day was Liard Hot Springs where I had made a reservation. It’s a very popular stop along the Alcan so in the dead of the season, don’t plan on getting in to camp without a reservation. However, you can camp nearby and purchase a day pass to come in and use the hot spring. If the latter is the best you can do, by all means make a point of going. We checked in, found our spot, set up tents, and made our way to the hot spring. Our site wasn’t too far to the wooden plank walkway that is installed above a wetland that leads to the spring. Despite the popularity, the hot spring never seems that crowded. There was some knucklehead playing a guitar who seemed more intent on annoying everyone rather than serenading people. The park rangers addressed him after a bit and that was mercifully done.



    I can lounge around in a hot tub for hours but Keith gave up much sooner. Then as I was counting the wrinkles in my fingers and toes, who do I see but the Gas Men! Yes ladies and gentlemen, a trifecta! Got to speaking with them a bit more and the odyssey they were on was a great story. Briefly, the truck was from the 60’s I think and had been in Iowa for many years. The son who is a bush pilot in Alaska wanted to bring it up and his sister made him a deal on the trailer. His retired Dad in Texas decided to join him on the trip. This pickup hadn’t been moved in many years and was providing one calamity after another. They had rockauto.com on speed dial trying to get wheel seals, electrical components, etc. as these components failed. This was actually their second attempt as they ran out of time the first attempt and had to leave the rig in a self-storage facility until they could come back to continue. I have to say that they were pretty handy at diagnosing and repairing the old girl on this pilgrimage. In Colorado they were experiencing a power deficiency and finally the truck stopped. They were fussing with the ignition but couldn’t get the truck to stay running which they attributed to a short. Along comes a man who is some sort of administrative official in the next town, and he very kindly arranges to have one of his guys come out and tow them into their town garage-on a weekend! After a few hours of trying one thing after another, it turns out they were just out of gas! They had been dealing with so many other issues that they sailed right past the easiest and most obvious! Imagine, people who run out of gas…

    2018 Alaska MC trip 016_Dave riding in the distance.JPG 2018 Alaska MC trip 022_Toad River Cafe inside.JPG 2018 Alaska MC trip 023_Toad River with bikes and Penguin.JPG

    Although it didn’t seem that late because the daylight was lasting longer the farther north we went, it had been a full day and it was time for bed!
    #87
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  8. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

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    DAY 13 ---------- Liard Hot Springs, BC to Whitehorse, YT__________421 Miles/677 km

    July 11 - Day 13_NEW FILE.jpg

    Time to begin another day. This one had all sorts of cool things in store for us. Keith was nice enough to make some coffee to start the day. I have coffee with me but never seem to get around to making it. I’ve never needed or used it to get me going in the morning, but if you put a cup in front of me, I’ll drink it just about any time. A wee bit cool and foggy but weather was otherwise pretty nice.

    There is a campground across the street that has a small convenience store, a restaurant (I think) and it definitely has fuel. We BOTH put on fuel this morning! You can only fool me three or four times! Our first destination was going to be Watson Lake and the Sign Post Forest. I have stickers that I carried for various signs and such, but I also made up one from aluminum just for this purpose.

    Well before we made it to Watson Lake, we saw quite a bit of wildlife. First a large herd of bison walking on both sides of the road initially, then the group on our left decide to catch up with the guys on the right side and Keith got stuck behind them. We also came across one little guy, maybe a year or two old, who had been struck on the highway. It was interesting to seem him up close, but not the way I would prefer to do it in all honesty.



    It’s amazing how you are riding along and then all of a sudden you see a bear. Equally as interesting was when they head off into the woods, they are barely past the first tree and they seem to just vanish before your eyes. Easy to see why they recommend making a lot of noise when you walk in the woods because you can walk up to or by a bear and not even know it.



    Later on down the road we saw a black bear just minding his own business alongside the road having some lunch.



    Pulled into Watson Lake and the Sign Post Forest is on your right when headed north. Pretty easy to spot, and I think anyone who has seen it will tell you it’s much bigger in person than it seems from the pictures. I would guess that it’s at least an acre or more with the vintage construction vehicles left over from when the Alcan was built. You can spend 30-60 minutes or even longer just looking at all the signs and attaching yours if you brought one. I placed mine in an unassuming location that was available, although after thinking about it, it will probably be covered with snow each winter so who knows how long it will hold up. That task handled, time to catch breakfast at a little place across the street.



    S10C0100_Watson Lake adding Penguin to collection_2666.jpg

    Shortly after Watson Lake we passed the northern end of the Cassier Hwy. I would be coming back that way in several weeks to head towards Hyder, AK on my way back home. After that was the town of Teslin which is known for their metal bridge which wreaks havoc with motorcycle tires, and their fake Canadian Mountie car made of plywood. I crossed this bridge once in each direction. On the way north I had a rear 50/50 MotoZ tire that I could definitely feel going across, but it was a combination of that along with a stiff cross wind off my right side which wanted to push me across the surface that is none too wide for starters that had me paying full attention. The more pronounced your tread is to off-road, the more you will feel the grating as you cross.

    Fake RCMP car in Teslin Alcan Hwy_IMG_2665.jpg

    I had read about a couple of places to camp in Whitehorse. One sounded like it might be a bit dodgy to leave your gear unattended, and the other was an RV park that people seemed to like. I opted for the latter although I hadn’t made a reservation before leaving as I had with some places. A lot easier to slide in to most places with a tent, so if you don’t have to make a reservation, I would suggest letting weather and fatigue determine where you stop whenever possible. This place was serviceable and convenient, right off the Alcan, but it wasn’t much more than that. Mostly RV’s, very narrow space for two tents much less any type of larger apparatus. Set up tents around dinner time and decided to make a run into downtown and see if we could find someplace to have dinner.

    Campsite_WhitehorseIMG_2659.jpg
    #88
  9. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

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    DAY 13 ---------- Liard Hot Springs, BC to Whitehorse, YT__________421 Miles/677 km (CONTINUED)


    After crisscrossing the city grid for 20 minutes or so, with most restaurants looking fairly anemic or lacking energy, we came across the Klondike Rib & Salmon Restaurant. We arrived at the height of the dinner hour, but it turns out that this doesn’t matter. There is almost always a formidable gathering of people waiting their turn for a table and it can be an hour or better. It’s worth it, and this from a person who virtually never goes to a restaurant when I have to be on a wait. It has character, history, and incredible food. They have benches outside and around the sidewalk so I got into a conversation with a couple of local women who gave me some background about the area and their personal lives which went back some eighty years. Keith was less amused so he walked around looking for a light bulb he needed replaced for his high beam. Once inside, amazing food and an ambience that feels like a movie set from the early 1900’s. I ordered their signature offering of ribs and salmon, complimented with this amazing Italian bread. I ate too much trying to sample several things and not having any way to take leftovers with us.

    Klondike Rib & Salmon_IMG_2655.jpg Klondike Rib & Salmon_IMG_2657.jpg Klondike Rib & Salmon_IMG_2658.jpg Klondike Rib & Salmon history_IMG_2654.jpg

    Headed back to camp around 10pm and really appreciated how the light had begun to stay around longer. This would be the case for the next several weeks as I continued north even though it was after the Summer Solstice which was in late June. Struck up a conversation with the two guys in the trailer next door. They were utility workers from somewhere in Newfoundland and the other from Vancouver. Apparently, it’s common to bring some people out from other provinces each summer to bolster the local workforce and expedite projects that couldn’t be finished without outside help. It was nearly 11pm when we were talking but it felt like 6pm! Adapting to the evening light took some work. If I waited to call home based on the way the light would be at home, it was 10pm before I knew it and my wife was already way off to bed central time. More than a few times in the early going that I missed the evening check-in!
    #89
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  10. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

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    DAY 14 ---------- Whitehorse, YT to Tok, AK__________390 Miles / 627 km

    July 12 - Day 14.jpg

    Well this would be the big day, to see if I can get back into the US without my passport. I had contacted my wife when I was at the border and asked to please send my passport ahead. The tricky part was where to send it. FedEx could overnight it to Anchorage, but could not literally “overnight” it to Canada despite shipping it express due to the latter being an international package that would have to clear customs. I labored over this decision but only briefly because there really wasn’t a great place to send it in Yukon, but the bigger issue was that I was on a schedule to get to Anchorage in time to meet Dan in two days (and counting). I decided to have the passport shipped to our hotel in Anchorage where I knew it would be as safe as possible and would arrive in time. First things first, time to get back on the road.

    It wasn’t raining when we got up, but it looked like it wanted to. I have to say I had remarkably good weather up to this point. Extreme heat to set out the first day, poured on rain for a few hours the second, but since then just a little short-lived sprinkle a couple of times and very comfortable temperatures overall. Just north of Whitehorse we ran into some moderate rain up through Haines Junction and a bit farther north of there. Nothing to slow us down however.



    I had brought my mesh jacket to begin the trip and I had a package waiting at Motoquest in Anchorage with my Klim Badlands and some other items I figured that I would want up north without having to schlep all of it up with me. I would ship other items home in the same box. It was starting to get a little cooler and especially with the rain. I had been using a Frogg Togg over the mesh which worked as a little more insulation as well as water-proofing, but I needed my heated jacket now to stay comfortable. I didn’t need to turn the heated jacket on just yet, the layers were working well.

    Another observation is that all of the stories that I had heard about how desolate the Alcan was, wasn’t really matching my expectations. Granted we were going up in about the middle of the summer driving season, but there was always a car coming along one way or the other every few minutes in most cases. But north of Whitehorse the road starts to feel a little more remote and less traveled. A little more. You still want to watch your fuel but it isn’t anything extreme by any measure.

    Made it to Haines Junction and we decided to stop in a Chinese restaurant for breakfast. There is also supposed to be a very good bakery there, which we saw, but it didn’t look open. I have since read several accounts saying it’s very good though. The bakery is on your right as you go north. Spoke to a gentleman from Texas who was riding an Indian and was doing some hellacious miles on it. Dirt, pavement, nothing was stopping him from going wherever he wanted. Impressive rider and a very nice guy.

    Rider Haines Junction on IndianIMG_2661.jpg



    After eating and getting gas, I was in the lead as I was throughout and proceeded to head up the highway…the wrong way. I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to figure it out, but fortunately Keith was paying attention to the massive overhead highway sign that I had completely neglected to notice while looking for everything else. I barely made it down the hill past the turn when I noticed that Keith wasn’t coming along. He was right behind me when we pulled out, so I thought that maybe he had a mechanical issue or worse. I turned around and he was waiting for me at the junction pointing the correct direction. Whew!

    Still a bit cloudy and chilly when we set out, but by Kluane Lake we started getting the sun back and a little warmer. Stopped at Destruction Bay for gas and just north of there, if my memory serves, there was an interesting memorial that we checked out.



    We stopped in Beaver Creek for our last fuel stop in the US. It’s about 10 miles or so from the border crossing. While Keith and I were taking a break out front of the store, we got into a conversation with a guy on a Harley who was riding south to exchange weather information. Through the course of our discussion, and a casual reference to where I lived and worked, it turns out that he is an electrician working in the same city in Arkansas. But wait, there’s more! More incredible than that, his ex-wife used to do work for our company eons ago! Oh, yeah, and it’s raining south of here…

    Before you get to the actual border crossing there are the obligatory “Entering” signs and various landmarks. We stopped to get some pictures before heading up the hill to cross into Alaska. This would be my 50th state to step foot in between motorcycles and trucks.



    I was fairly confident that with modern day computer systems and a valid driver’s license that I would be able to figure something out. Otherwise it might be FedEx to the rescue and I spend a night at the border. I had already told Keith what was happening and we set him up to go first, but the border officer waved us both to come up at the same time. Keith produces his passport, and I hand the officer my license. “Do you have a passport?” she asks. “Well, there’s a story behind this” I say. She looks at me, ready for some crazy account, and says “Okay, lay it on me”. After I told her what happened, she said “But you do have a passport, right?” “Yes ma’am” I say. She takes my license and asked us to wait while she went inside because she was pretty sure that I would be in the system. Less than a minute later, she had us on our way! As we were getting helmets back on etc., the officer came out and got in her car to leave. Perhaps arriving just a few minutes before the officer wants to go home unwittingly worked in my favor too.

    2018 Alaska MC trip 118_Alaska port.JPG

    Your introduction to Alaska highways is an interesting one. Between the frost heave and the potholes, it’s a fun ride for pavement! We also encountered road repair where they will put down a tar substance and then pour gravel on top of that. In a straight line it isn’t an issue but I would be careful leaning into it too much. Rained pretty good for a part of the remaining miles, but by the time we got to Tok it was a beautiful evening. Keith was headed for Delta Junction where he was visiting a friend. I was only going as far as Tok because I was heading south from there to Anchorage. I had the time and could have run down a different way, but I was headed right back up that way in a few days with Dan. Keith and I both had enough for one day and decided to get a motel room for the night. On my own I would have camped, but on his own Keith said he probably would have pushed on to Delta Junction. The motel was next to Fast Eddy’s Restaurant which is pretty much it for the town but a good place to eat fortunately. A call to the wife to see how things were going and a call to Dan to make sure he was ready for the big day. Time for bed!

    #90
  11. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

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    DAY 15---------- Tok, AK to Anchorage, AK__________318 Miles / 511 km

    July 13 - Day 15.jpg

    Took my time getting up. Keith and I had talked about getting breakfast but I was feeling like taking my time, not having to be in Anchorage at any particular time; and Keith wanted to get moving to see his friend in Delta Junction. The road was parting for us. It had been a good ride with him and we packed quite a bit in for a few days. I was ready to be back on my own. It was a beautiful day.

    Started off by talking to a guy who was rising back from Seattle, WA on a Royal Enfield he had purchased there. Apparently that was the closest place he could find a dealer. Nothing wrong with that. Farther the better. He recommended a glacier to explore on the way down. Noted, but I did not see any point in paying $35 to see a glacier you can see from the highway and there would be plenty more to come. If you're fortunate enough to have good weather as you start down the Glenn Highway, you will treated to some beautiful views of the north west end of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Reserve. To get to Anchorage by road, you are essentially going all the way around it because there aren't any roads through it from the east. It's sort of a "Welcome to Alaska" introduction. There is a brief pause in the first video. Look to the left when it stops briefly and you will see snow capped mountains in the background through the trees. These brief snapshots happen often and it's simply impossible to watch the road and all of the amazing scenery in all directions at the same time.

    DSCF0929_Bike _Hwy 1 into Anchorage south of Glennallen.JPG S10C0003_Hwy 1 mountain in distance.JPG S10C0005_Hwy 1 me in mirror.JPG




    For whatever reason, I was feeling pretty tired for part of the way down. Maybe skipping breakfast, or the fatigue of the first two weeks catching up with me, I needed to get my second wind. Made it down to Glennallen which is the first major fuel stop, and is generally a cluster at the main gas station. If a bus unloads or it happens to be rush hour, don't get in a hurry to use the restroom. As you make your way down to Palmer, the road gets very pedestrian and you're just working on getting where you're going. Palmer is what I think they consider the outer limits of the greater Anchorage area.

    It was later in the evening when I arrived and I was tired. It was chilly, possibility of rain, and I wanted to be done for the day. I was going to camp at the little camping place next to Motoquest operated by the Harley Davidson dealer, but there wasn't anyone else there and I thought that I would be running some errands and the Motoquest guy didn't offer any encouragement that my stuff would be safe and secure. Maybe I was just a little paranoid, I might do it differently next time, but Paula found me an RV place with tent sites closer to downtown and right next to some train tracks that would do for the night.

    First, on to a self storage locker I had prearranged. I needed a place to secure gear that wasn't needed and my bike while Dan and I were on our loop, and once we rented a car for a few weeks it would be helpful to have less unnecessary items to pack in the car. It took forever to get the locker organized. To begin I had to get someone there to help me because it apparently isn't usually manned, and then there was a load of paperwork to get through. Very nice guy, but he really enjoyed his job and it was an agonizingly slow process. The locker was just big enough to fit the bike, but you couldn't beat the price. They offered a "Move In Special" that reduced the $100/mo price to $30 for the first month. I had explained that I was only going to need it for a month or less but they insisted that was the deal. It also included the lock!

    In for the night, I beat the rain which didn't materialize as much as forecasted, and I was ready to be done! I called Paula to finish up with what was going on with her and then laid my head down around 8pm to relax and pretty much slept through the night!
    #91
  12. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    158
    Location:
    NW Arkansas
    DAY 16----------Anchorage____________No Miles

    Slept in until 10am before starting to get up and around. Packed up a soggy tent and headed straight for the storage locker to start. Weather was much better too after a very rainy night. Took all of my camping gear and anything else that I wouldn't need for the next week on the bike-staying in Airbnb's and cabins-and put it in the locker. Spread out the tent to dry as much as possible.

    First stop was the BMW dealer where I had arranged to have a new rear tire ready. I had 5000 or so on the new rear I installed and it still had life in it, but it would be getting closer to the end of its life when I wasn't in a position to replace it as handily. I had run my from tire all the way up that I had been considering replacing before I left, but it wasn't too bad and I thought I might get it changed out on the way up. Being that it was a Saturday, there wasn't much chance of getting the tires changed unless it was an emergency. It really wasn't. I was leaving the next day for a week with Dan and then returning when I wouldn't need the bike for two weeks. Set both tires aside and made arrangements to return in a week. The only caveat was that we were getting back on a Sunday when the dealership would be closed, and taking off the next morning on Monday when they would still be closed. The shop manager kindly offered me his cell number and said to call him on Monday morning so he could let me in to drop off the bike, and leave it with him for the two weeks so he could work it in as they had time. This meant that I wouldn't need to put the bike in the storage locker because when I got back I would need the bike again and be leaving Anchorage for the last time. Very helpful, and I have heard of other similar stories about this dealership. Well done.

    DSCF0930_At storage locker in Anchorage.JPG

    Then, after I jettisoned some of my unneeded gear at the storage facility, I went over to Motoquest to pick up a box that I had shipped to them. They were kind enough to receive it for me despite the fact that I wasn't renting a bike from them, however Dan was.

    Dan's box on my bike at Motoquest_IMG_2669.jpg

    Next, down to the hotel, The Lakefront Anchorage. All of these places were on Spenard Road which was really convenient. The airport was just around the lake 5 minutes away. I stopped in, too early to check in, but I wanted to gather my passport and make sure it arrived all right. All in good order, no more issues in that department. Went back down Spenard and found a Village Inn to get breakfast and kill some time before heading back to check in. Once I checked in, I took everything I had for laundry that I could spare and threw it in a washer. First decent bath my clothes had since leaving home.

    Relaxed a bit and waited for the time to head to the airport to meet Dan's plane. The shuttle runs free of charge (except tip) day and night to the airport. I went out front to see when the next one was coming and ended up walking right onto one that was leaving. But I was about an hour early so I went to the bar and had a drink while watching some obscure basketball game and listening to some crank complain about his soup not being warm enough. Called my Dad and checked in on him trying to squeeze a call in but then I looked at the arrival area and there was my 'ol pal Dan in the flesh! Went to retrieve his two bags and flag the shuttle down and we were back at the hotel in no time. Went through Dan's luggage to see what he needed for the first week on the bike and what we could throw into the locker. He was tired from the flight, as anyone should be, and I was ready to be done for the day as well. With getting his things organized and getting the bike checked out, we had some chores in the morning after breakfast before heading up to Tok for the first day on the road.

    IMG_2671_Anchorage_Dan just arriving in airport.jpg IMG_2675_Anchorage_Dan's first day_in hotel room.jpg
    #92
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  13. 68vette

    68vette Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2015
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    SC
    I think I followed that same guy on the Indian into Glennallen and he was traveling no where close to speed limit. I dropped back after he started to run 90+. He saw me stop for gas and doubled back and asked if I wanted to ride with him but he wanted to do a lot more miles than me that day. I was calling it a day in Tok. I believe this was on July 11. Nice guy. Enjoying your RR
    #93
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  14. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    158
    Location:
    NW Arkansas
    Thanks for following! He seemed like quite the character. Didn't ride with him as we were going the opposite direction. Hearing about his travails it didn't sound like any moss was about to grow on him! I referred a friend who rides an Indian to him to see if he's ever passed through NW Arkansas he would most likely be an interesting and inspiring speaker.
    #94
  15. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    158
    Location:
    NW Arkansas
    DAY 17————— Anchorage, AK to Tok, AK__________318 Miles / 511 km

    July 15 - Day 17.jpg

    Say what you will about Dan, he’s no slouch in the morning. It might have been jet lag, but he was up way before me every morning either making or searching out coffee. Such was the case when I woke up this Sunday morning about to embark on Phase 2 of the Great Adventure. More specifically, Phase 2 involved Dan picking up his rental from Motoquest down the street from the hotel, getting it prepped, and heading for Tok, AK where I had come through just a few days before. Dan hasn’t ridden a lot, has never ridden an adventure bike, and had definitely never ridden for a week long trip. I did however, have every confidence in him. I tried not to schedule anything too ambitious either in terrain or duration. No days were longer than 350 miles and most were much less. A couple of dirt stretches but Level 1 in technicality.

    I designed a loop that would take us to Tok the first day, then into Yukon to Dawson City via the Top of the World Highway, Whitehorse, up the Alaska Highway to Snag Junction (just short of Beaver Creek and the Alaska border), to Delta Junction at the end of the Alaskan Highway, then south to McCarthy, Valdez, and then home base in Anchorage. I had intended for us to take the ferry from Valdez to Whittier south of Anchorage, but I wrongly assumed that the ferries ran every day in the summer and turns out they do not. Once back in Anchorage we would meet up with my wife Paula, who according to plan, would arrive the day before at the hotel and get a good night’s sleep.

    I located Dan and we headed for breakfast at the hotel. I pre-bought some breakfast vouchers that saved about $3 each and it was very convenient. Cooked to order breakfast which was ample and if it’s a nice day you can see the float planes through the windows coming in to land. We had plenty of time to get cleared out and over to Motoquest to get the bike. While Dan went through the rental process, I shuttled some of his gear to the storage locker, again it was just down the street. The forecast was for intermittent rain or drizzle but we were on our way no matter what the weather threw at us.

    IMG_0001_Motoquest Office.jpg


    Unfortunately the weather wasn’t as nice as it had been for my ride down. It is amazing how much disappears when the weather is poor and there is a low ceiling. Massive mountains vanish behind a curtain of clouds and if that was your only time through that area you would have no idea of the splendor you were passing by. We would pass this way going south in a week so I hoped that we would have better weather on that leg of the trip. Meanwhile, we had a little bit of rain going to Tok but not more than a nuisance and it wasn’t constant. That became the norm where you might encounter rain on any given day during the ride, but you were also very likely going to have sunshine during parts of the ride as well if you were traveling any distance for the day.

    Arrived in Tok where we had a hostel booked. Had a hard time finding it at first despite the town being pretty tiny, because it was set back off the road a bit and there wasn’t a sign worth anything unless you were looking at it. We thought that maybe it was part of a camping area but after a phone call we discovered that it was a small house. Pretty typical if you have ever stayed in a hostel. Dan and I were sharing a very small room with two single beds. Barely enough room to land all of our gear but we managed. There was a community kitchen and bathroom so for $25 each it was shelter and peaceful enough. We were just down the road on the same side of the street from Fast Eddie’s so we walked there for dinner in the rain. Pretty wet when we got there, but the food is very good and we dried out in time for the walk back after the rain stopped.

    I think this is the last of my missing pictures so this stretch wasn’t well documented. Enough excitement for one day anyway. First leg of the circuit went off without a hitch. No problem falling asleep tonight!
    #95
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  16. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    158
    Location:
    NW Arkansas
    DAY 18—————Tok, AK to Dawson City, YT__________186 Miles / 300 km

    July 16 - Day 18.jpg

    Dan was up and at it first thing again this morning. This man must have his coffee! He walked across the street to the gas station/convenience store to get a cup while I slowly dragged myself out of the sheets. Not a bad night’s rest, albeit a stark contrast to the hotel in Anchorage. Saddled up and a quick coffee and Cliff bar, gas for the bikes, off to Chicken for lunch.

    Overcast but no rain, found the turn off for Chicken and managed to dodge the assorted potholes along the way. As we crested the hill coming into Chicken, I assumed that there was one Chicken. I had seen pictures and had an idea what I was looking for, but it had never occurred to me and I hadn’t seen any mention that there are two parts to Chicken. There is the upper part which requires a right turn on a small road, and the other Chicken which is pretty much right on the main road. So we proceeded to the Chicken that I could see, but that really isn’t the Chicken you want to go to. There was a new looking general store and a restaurant off to the side. Camping around the back. Dan and I went inside after saying hello to an older German couple riding two-up on a GS who returned our high spirited hello with a stern snarl and cheeriness worthy of “American Gothic”. Maybe there’s a “German Gothic”? We were pretty hungry and it was a buffet sort of setup. The woman working in the kitchen was very pleasant so we had lunch. We weren’t hungry when we left, but I couldn’t help feeling that we were just not in the right place or I was missing something from the pictures I had seen. There were a couple of big roosters in the center by the gas pumps, but maybe the rest was around the back?

    After lunch Dan got gas. Motoquest recommended gas around 200 miles / 320 km for that bike, but we were only running less than 200 miles for the day and had barely started so I passed on fueling feeling pretty certain on this one. Afterwards, we went back up to the street we passed to see what was there, and below us lay the egg of Chicken! I knew something didn’t seem right! We passed through the little area but there wasn’t any point to eating obviously and decided to head on for Dawson City.



    ...to be continued...
    #96
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  17. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    158
    Location:
    NW Arkansas
    DAY 18—————Tok, AK to Dawson City, YT__________186 Miles / 300 km (CONTINUED)

    The pavement, such as it is, ends just after Chicken. There had been a little rain but the road wasn’t too bad. This was Dan’s first shot at off-road under any circumstances so we were taking our time. Between the extended daylight and not having to be in Dawson City at any particular time, we had plenty of time. This section of Top of the World Highway is forested and much of it runs along a river. Again, not my image of the road, but it was early yet. We didn’t divert to Eagle but stopped for a break at the turn off.



    As you get closer to the border things get more stark. Trees are limited in size due to permafrost, the landscape becomes desolate in places, and you can see for miles in almost any direction. There is an amazingly paved road on the US side leading up to the border for approximately 15 miles (don’t quote me on that distance but it's in the ballpark) which is as refined a road surface as you could ask for. I wanted to take a few pictures at the border before approaching the entry, but was waved up by the officer so I figured I would mosey up. The sign you see so many people post is on the US side coming in from Canada. You can see it on the left across the road by the motorcycle coming into Alaska. Had the basic questions crossing the border, no problem…for me. Dan however seems to incur the curiosity and/or wrath of all border officers on either side and so he was back there for a little bit. He has a license that is tattered and he thinks it looks suspicious. Personally I think Dan looks rumpled and suspicious. Either way, he eventually manages to get through. There was a small air strip near the border that is most likely used to ferry officers back and forth. Somewhere I remember hearing that these posts are coveted and they are up for a month or so at a time during their stretch. This particular one is closed in winter for all of the obvious reasons.



    Once you get into Yukon the road is dirt but well maintained and a fun ride. Nothing really too challenging if taken at a reasonable pace. Not long after crossing we came across a herd of elk (Dan says reindeer) or Caribou something similar to both. We encountered one herd as we were coming up a hill, then another a bit later that seemed confused as to which way we were going-so they could go the other direction. Fascinating to watch for as long as we could. That was all the wildlife we saw other than a moose from long range on the US side that disappeared by the time we got closer.

    You will see other bikes and campers on this road but not a lot. It was pretty quiet for us anyway. As you get closer to Dawson City you descend the mountain to reach the Yukon River where a free ferry is operated to get people going in both directions. It’s interesting how they play the strong current to line up with the earthen ramps that are constantly being rebuilt. We lined up for the short wait before moving down to load. We were asked to wait on the side while they loaded larger vehicles and then we snuck on the tail end. Some RV’s and longer vehicles have difficulty navigating the angle of the ferry ramp and the docking area. I think 5th wheel trailers and larger motorhomes are particularly susceptible.



    Once on the other side, maybe 10-15 minutes in total, we set out to look for our night’s lodging in a makeshift yurt-ish style cabin. It was only a block or two from the ferry at the north end of Dawson City. Close enough to walk into town in just a few minutes, but far enough away to get some peace and quiet in case the bars were active. Very nice couple who owns an eclectic lodging arrangement. Some rooms inside a big house, and then tent cabins in the back with a community flush toilet and shower. Very comfortable accommodations and reasonably priced. After we settled in, we headed into town for dinner. We ate at The Drunken Goat which was recommended by our host. The food was good, but you pay for every bit of it. We finished at around 830pm and it looked like noon! Bright sunshine almost difficult to see around if you were headed towards it.

    We found the Sourdough Saloon and went to the bar to have a beer before participating in the festivities at 9pm. If you don’t know about the Sourtoe Cocktail, just Google it and you will get much more colorful information than I can provide. The key is to watch for a person dressed in a captain’s garb (male or female) walk through the front saloon doors right at 9pm and head up to a desk on the same landing that the bar is on. Although the individual ritual only takes a few minutes per person, there is a formidable line that forms quickly and stays busy until they quit at 11pm. You provide your own booze in a rocks glass so that it’s big enough to house the digit, Yukon Jack is popular but it’s anything you want to provide as far as a spirit, and then you’re all set once it’s your time. I went before Dan and it was fairly straight forward, but for some reason the captain presented the toe to Dan prior to dropping it in the glass so that he could give it a smootch, but Dan thought that he was supposed to take it from her and drop it in the glass himself. So after some brief confusion involving Dan trying to grab the toe and the captain deftly avoiding his grasp, Dan was having none of the pre-blessing of the toe, and it finally went wee-wee-wee all the way into his glass. I believe you can hear him in the video say, in an unamused manor, "Just put it in the glass". I laugh every time I watch this!



    That ritual completed, several beers and a few shots of Yukon Jack later, we aimed for the accommodation for a night’s sleep.
    #97
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  18. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,562
    Location:
    Fly over zone
    I really enjoyed the TOW highway when I went through. I started towards Eagle, but didn’t have time to go all they way up and back. Just beautiful views along the way. I wasn’t as fortunate as you guys. I never saw a caribou. Many many bears, but not a single caribou. Also, I was alone on the ferry. I thought they’d wait until someone else showed up to make the crossing more practical, but nope. Took me across alone. Wish I’d have found your hostel to stay in. I was in the bunkhouse. It was really warm in there. Windows open what they would, but little air in the tiny room. I hope to be back up there next August. Great RR, by the way.
    #98
  19. Ozarks Rider

    Ozarks Rider I'd never join club that would have me as a member Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    158
    Location:
    NW Arkansas
    Thanks for following along! Appreciate the kind compliment as well.

    You see wildlife when you least expect it sometimes. The longer you ride, the better the chances, and I doubt most people see the same things in the same places. Makes the trip really interesting because you have to be ready all the time. I've never seen a ferry leave with only one vehicle but it probably happens a fair amount at certain times of the day. Initially I looked for a place downtown but there wasn't anything available. Didn't seem the busy when we were there so not sure why that was. But one of the places that was full (or possibly just unavailable) recommended the place we ended up staying at. It was very comfortable, quiet, and convenient.
    #99
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  20. BC Biker

    BC Biker Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2018
    Oddometer:
    34
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Very much enjoying your ride report Dave. I hope to do a similar Alaska/Yukon trip this summer. Thanks for all the great information...Very helpful.