Another Rookie Went to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by 72 Yamaha RD350, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 6 - Fairbanks

    This Denny’s food was actually good and the restaurant was decorated to the brim with old photographs and memorabilia of Fairbanks and the Yukon.

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    There is a combined BMW/Harley/Honda/Polaris dealership in Fairbanks that carries some clothing and accessories, but don't count on them having a specific item you need in the correct size. The women behind the counter were courteous and helpful. This is possibly the only place in the world one can see HD swag right next to BMW swag which by itself makes it worth the stop. I picked up some poker chips for fellow riders back home.

    While in Fairbanks we hit up the Wells Fargo for more Canadian currency. I rarely carry cash - even on business trips to Europe or Asia - relying solely on plastic to work. But I felt more confident crossing the remote parts of Canada with currency in my pocket. WF has a maximum $500 conversion unless you notify them three days in advance. Not every branch does conversions so you have to contact them.
    #81
  2. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 7 - Fairbanks
    Friday, June 21 – 0 miles – 85F Sunny

    Who would ever imagine that one of the largest and collections of pre-Depression era cars anywhere is in Fairbanks, Alaska? This was the biggest surprise of the trip. If you love antique cars - don't miss this museum. Plan to be there for 60-90 minutes.

    Fountainhead Auto Museum of Pre-Depression Era Automobiles
    The styling of this 1931 Cord rivals any vehicle ever made.
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    Rick rested and recuperated back at the hotel while I was at the Fountainhead. Besides the strained pectoral muscle, the days of riding in the rain and cold had worn him down. He considered his options for shipping the bike home and flying out but ultimately decided to stick it out. The next few days were all low mileage and would give him time to recover before the long ride home.
    #82
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  3. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 8 – Fairbanks to Cantwell
    Saturday, June 22 – 150 miles - Sunny 85F – 3,172 miles from home

    Two days of rest in Fairbanks was what we both needed but it was time to move on.

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    #83
    rubline likes this.
  4. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 8 – Fairbanks to Cantwell

    The first stop of the day was at Pipeline Park.

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    There is a woman in Kyoto, Japan, who cannot speak English who has a picture of herself with my motorcycle on her phone. Apparently she has a thing for Harleys with teddy bears.

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    #84
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  5. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 8 - Fairbanks

    Remember what I said about museums? Our second stop was the Museum of the North on the campus of the University of Alaska - Fairbanks. I didn't take any pictures inside, but it is a fine art and cultural history museum. Plan for 60-120 minutes if you stop here.

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    I regret not stopping in time to get a picture of "Skinny Dick's Halfway Inn" billboard and property on the outskirts of Fairbanks. [Google is your friend.]

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    #85
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  6. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 8 – toward Denali
    Tanana River Crossing at Nenana

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    #86
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  7. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 9 – Denali NP
    Sunday, June 23 – 0 miles – 65F Overcast

    We booked the camper cabin at the Cantwell RV Park. Eileen and her husband were wonderful hosts. I paid them $50 to take us roundtrip to Denali so we could leave the bikes at the campground.

    I'm a big National Parks buff. I had never expected to go to Denali, but since I was in the area there was no way I was going to miss it. We took the 8 hour Tundra Wilderness Bus Tour and saw four grizzlies total and various other wildlife. We spent about 45 minutes watching the bear shown below as he crossed the road adjacent to the bus. This would not be my last close encounter with a grizzly bear.

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    #87
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  8. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 9 – Cantwell at Midnight

    One of the lesser reasons I wanted to go to Alaska was to see the midnight sun. [There is a Midnight Sun Festival in Fairbanks which may be of interest to some of you. It includes a 5k run through town where residents sit in their front yards and cheer on participants.] These are pictures of the Denali Highway in Cantwell at midnight.

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    #88
  9. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 10 – Cantwell to Talkeetna to Trapper Creek
    Monday, June 24 – 157 miles – 73F Sunny – 3,178 miles from home

    I travel a fair amount without Mrs. RD but I started buying her jewelry on my travels a few years ago. I usually aim for something unique and reflective of the location - in this case items with grizzly bear motifs.

    Talkeetna is a tourist town and the streets are largely unpaved. I dropped the RK while doing a u-turn - the front tire washed out in the mud. I had it upright before Rick found a place to park.

    Traffic was stopped on our way to Trapper Creek. A 2500/3500 series pickup truck towing a travel trailer had left the roadway and scattered substantial pieces of the trailer across an acre of the roadside. The truck was on its side still hitched to the trailer.

    We arrived at Trapper Creek and filled up at the pump before going to our room. Rick was unable to mount the AT to ride it around back to park it near the room. After parking the Road King I climbed aboard the AT. Being a lightweight, the suspension did not compress and my toes barely touched the ground. The Honda was predictable though and I rode it the only time for the trip a distance of 100 yards.

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    #89
  10. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 11 – Trapper Creek to Anchorage
    Tuesday, June 25 – 116 miles – 73F Sunny – 3,138 miles from home

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    #90
  11. RJ44

    RJ44 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2015
    Oddometer:
    323
    Location:
    Thunder Bay, Ontario
    Very enjoyable so far. I love that you kept the planning very simple. Looking forward to hearing the rest of the story.

    Rob
    #91
    72 Yamaha RD350 likes this.
  12. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 11 – Alaska Transportation Museum

    This is a guy's museum. Planes, trains, automobiles, boats, helicopters, snowmobiles. Plan for 2-3 hours if you want to see everything. Don't expect sophistication. A collection of photos of every item they have would be larger than a Sears-Roebuck catalog.

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    #92
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  13. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 11 – The Anchorage Museum

    Like the Museum of the North, the Anchorage Museum is a combination fine art and cultural history museum. Plan for 2 hours.

    We were there for the special exhibit on the Franklin Expedition to discover the Northwest Passage. One word: morbid.

    https://www.anchoragemuseum.org/exhibits/death-in-the-ice-the-mystery-of-the-franklin-expedition/

    One of the reasons I go to museums is because I never know what I'm going to learn. I've learned things in museums I'd never learn anywhere else. I certainly don't have the background to appreciate all the art I see. On occasion there are items on display that don't clear my bar for art but I'm not the final arbiter for what is art and what is not.

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    We left the Anchorage Museum for a stop at Alaska Leather Company where Rick picked up an AirHawk seat pad for his AT. A few blocks away is Anchorage Harley Davidson where we stopped to pick up some poker chips for fellow riders back home. In retrospect, since the weather was good we should have camped overnight at Anchorage HD.
    #93
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  14. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 12 – Anchorage to Chistochina
    Wednesday, June 26 – 228 miles – 74F Sunny – 2,910 miles from home

    We left Anchorage to begin the return trip home. Since we had endured heavy rain through northern Rockies, the itinerary for the return allowed time for us to stop and see things we missed. The Glen Highway was a riding highlight of the entire trip. We were fortunate to be there before forest fires filled Alaska with smoke.

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    #94
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  15. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 12 – Matanuska Valley

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    #95
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  16. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 12 – Matanuska Glacier

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    #96
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  17. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 12 - Chistochina

    I've watched Tim Tewster's and 1956Ted's YT videos over and over again. They helped shape my ideas of what I wanted my Alaska ride to look like. For the return trip I booked a few places that Tim recommended and wasn't disappointed. Red Eagle Lodge has the largest, cleanest bathhouse you'll likely ever come across anywhere.

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    #97
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  18. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 13 – Chistochina to Haines Junction YT
    Thursday, June 27 - 380 miles – 73F Sunny - 2,529 miles from home

    An unexpected highlight of the trip was the views of Wrangell-St.Elias as we headed east.

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    #98
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  19. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Day 13 – Chistochina to Haines Junction YT

    We probably rode a total of 50-100 miles of road construction. This one was the longest and the most sketchy. They had excavated to install a ten foot diameter culvert. Fortunately we were going the direction with the easier entry whereas it would have been a difficult exit coming the other direction as it was steep and muddy.

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    #99
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  20. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    827
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
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