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Discussion in 'Alaska' started by Alcan Rider, May 6, 2012.
I was thinking about the Kenai for a night or two and an aerial tour of Denali.
Can I ask how realistic it is not to camp in Alaska? Planning (some might say dreaming) of a second trip to USA/Canada, and I was considering next year, but found out about that highway extension from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, so I'll wait for that. Since I'm in the other corner of the world it's a bit more than just popping out the door for a few weeks...
Anyhoo, I'm not much of a camper, but accept it gives you more freedom - but more stuff to carry, which I'm not too good with already. Accommodation only would be less stuff to carry, but would booking then be advised (and therefore more planning of day to day). During the summer is it that much of an exodus to your fair lands? Do small towns have accommodation or is it more of a hike to larger ones (which then dictates days)? Don't worry, I avoid hotels, just the bed/shower type, so truck stops etc are fine (and useful as it's everything in one)!
I was thinking of basing myself in towns for a couple of days or as required, to drop most gear then do the interesting routes much lighter...
Should be NO problem at all!!! Most of the small towns have a hotel....
Pick up a copy of The Milepost book... It lists EVERY single hotel, gas station, truck stop, campground, gravel road section, etc....
The book is great to have with you while you experience your Alaskan adventure - can check it throughout the day to see where you want to make it to that evening.
I spent all of my 6-week trip to Alaska moteling it in both Canada and Alaska and never had a problem. But I did start on June 1st and was back in the U.S. by July 1st. I had done some research in advance and in many places I had a recommendation or place in mind. But for most I depended upon advice from people I met on the road, or what I found out in many of the local visitor centers. I got this in Watson Lake Campground and Gas Station Guide (to the AlCan). See post #74 in my ride report. There are many "road houses" along the way with rooms and food (some called 'lodges') and I found all of them good clean basic accommodations and food.
Cheers guys, plenty of reading and research still to be done... guess I'm moving at the same rate as the highway extension
Similar question to aGremlin's, but this one about food: I don't mind tenting, but I'd rather not be cooking any meals. I don't want to be carrying any of that equipment; takes up valuable beer space. I'm not a fussy eater, no allergies, will always eat what's put in front of me with no complaints. I only need one square a day, plus a few snacks. Any diner is good enough for me, it doesn't have to be fancy.
No problem, I hope?
Thanks for the great thread.
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During my 4 week trek up there I had no trouble finding places to eat everywhere I went. Most of the time the prices were reasonable. I did spurge for a great halibut dinner in Homer. Also found a great fish taco place at Denali NP (in tourist shops across the street from the park entrance) that had great salmon & halibut tacos. Actually ate there twice, it was good & very reasonable. Canada meals & groceries however were more expensive, but still okay. Fast Eddie's in Tok was also a great place to eat. Even enjoyed a caribou sausage sandwich from a street vendor in downtown Anchorage (next to the visitor center).
I too had no problem finding food, but still have a good freeze dried food source with you. There was a couple of times that I got in late either past the time the closest restaurant was open, or just to damn tired, or it was raining to go back out for food. Same for breakfast a couple of times. Other than that, there are more mom and pop places and food trucks than you can possibly sample. Plenty of good eats!!
So everyone keeps bringing up that Canada chow and lodging is a bit more expensive, isn't that something to do with the difference between currencies? The US dollar spends better but since you are using Canadian currency does that not account for the higher price? I would imagine that if one did the math it would even out.
I've never done the trip and am heading that way this summer, so I could be completely off. Does anyone know better?
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The US dollar is worth about $1.30 Canadian. The room I reserved in Dawson City was $119 CA or $84 US....pretty nice.
You can go here for the current exchange rates.
A lot of Canadian merchants also have no problem taking US currency, not preferred, but they will take it ... at a 1:1 exchange rate.
Even with the favorable currency exchange rates it is still slightly to moderately more expensive in Canada.
Also, make sure your credit cards have the new chip technology. Gas pumps & ATM machines in Canada have trouble with non-Canadian issued cards that don't have chips.
Ignorance Is Bliss
Tonight, driving home from Glennallen, I met a pair of motorcycles - obviously traveling up from Outside - at about Mile 38 on the Tok Cut-Off. With virtually no other traffic in sight, these two were crowded so close together their oncoming headlights looked like a single car. Maybe where they came from this is the way everyone rides. But here in Alaska, it shows an utter ignorance of the hazards.
If a moose were to suddenly dart out of the brush and into the path of the first motorcycle, there would be two motorcycles and riders down. People who have never seen a moose at a trot have no idea how fast they can move. One can be invisible one second, and a second and a half later it is right in front of you, and you're staring up at an animal that weighs as much as you and your bike put together, and this thing can kill you if you piss it off.
Knowledgeable riders, when in moose country (pretty much the same when caribou are migrating through an area, and in deer country down south) will be far enough apart that if the lead rider hits something and goes down, the second rider has room to stop before running over his buddy, and can usually offer assistance rather than needing it himself.
Just because you haven't seen any wildlife doesn't mean it isn't there. People not used to seeing our wildlife will often miss it until they are very close because they don't know what to look for. But getting a close-up view of a moose's flank dead ahead at 50 mph is not the way to find out.
Y'all ride safe up here. We don't want to read about the end of your trip in the newspaper. Stay safe and do a ride report.
Last year in Alaska, I came up on a slow moving pickup truck and thought "WTF get moving buddy", so I swung out left to pass and there she was, the largest prehistoric horse, aka moose, I'd ever seen trotting down the middle of the road; needless to say, I backed off pretty good and eventually she turned off to the right and down into a meadow/field. They are very big and faster than I ever expected!
Whatever advice Alcan Rider gives for surviving Alaska, listen and learn. Thanks for the reminder. I ordered my tires and oil for my Yukon Territory adventure coming up in July. For Alaska, I'm only planning to dip into Tok and Hyder as my primary objective is Inuvik. Stay tuned and true!
Question for @Alcan Rider or anybody else who has been up there - What would your thoughts be on the Dalton 2up?
I am planning an Alaskan trip and obviously came across a lot of opinions about the Dalton.
It would take a very special kind of person to enjoy riding up there 2-up, especially as the pillion. If you are considering it, then make sure the rider is very competent in dirt and mud, and that the pillion is experienced as well and is well prepared for what awaits.
Illustrative story.... Annie and I are riding to Deadhorse from Fairbanks. Along the way we run into a couple on a Wee Strom. They were in their 60s, had perfertly matched riding gear and, as we learned later, had towed the bike up from the states. I noticed they had no panniers or tank bag on the bike. Only carrying capacity was a small Coo case on the rear. It also became evident that they had no heated gear or underlayers to add as they got further north. It was near 70 in Fairbanks when we left; 24 in Deadhorse when we got there. About 30 miles before we got to Deadhorse we stopped for a Kodak moment and the couple pulled in. The tension was thick as she strained to utter a perfunctory greeting. It was then that he opened the Coo case and I saw the contents.... a single one gallon fuel can. They had nothing but what they were wearing and it was suitable for much warmer temperatures. We continued to the hotel in Deadhorse and they arrived shortly thereafter. She made a great show of taking of her helmet and in a loud voice telling her husband. " Here, I won't be needing this ever again." She then said in a voice for all to hear, "Anyone know how I can get a ride to the airport?" She did and was never seen by any of us again.
Not just here but anywhere.
Yes, moose can move pretty damn fast & somehow, big as they are, they can be hard to see at times even in broad daylight.
You probably don't have worry about these types too much as they are fairly rare.
On the other hand these are not that rare.
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Several years ago there was a fairly large group of "riders" of a particular brand who came from Georgia to Fairbanks to ride the Dalton Hwy together. Some rode all the way up and back, others (probably more accustomed to trailer week at Daytona Beach) shipped theirs in a single large semi chartered for that purpose. A few never made it as far as the Yukon River before turning back. The majority made it up to Deadhorse and most of those also managed the return trip relatively unscathed. A few of the bikes didn't make it back home.
The following year I met one of those couples at the annual Iron Butt party in Jacksonville. This pair had made the entire trip two-up. But - and this echoes KHuddy's warning - they had been riding two-up together for years, and not always on smooth pavement. They also were friends with the first woman to ride Key West to Prudhoe Bay. In other words, they were both highly experienced and well informed.
More recently, headed north at a single-lane construction site north of Atigun Pass, I spotted a Harley headed south with rider and pillion. It would be my guess that this couple, too, had many two-up miles behind them and more than a few of those on gravel roads.
All-in-all, just as with a single rider, the level of experience makes more difference than bike, tires, weather, or road conditions.
Lots of practice on substandard surfaces ahead of time, close to home where it's easy to turn around and find a more comfortable place to ride, pays big dividends.
Here's a great website for checking current conditions. http://avcams.faa.gov/