Mike, Jay (and Shelley) go North to Alaska and ride around a little.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by AMEretired, Nov 29, 2014.

  1. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Thinking to myself “Crap, not another Alaska ride report”, who the hell is going to read this? Would I read this?
    Well, I like riding (quite a lot actually), traveling, talking about riding and I do enjoy reading about other people’s travels, so perhaps, yes, I would.

    This is the ride

    Departed Calgary on the 6th of June 2014 and returned finally to Calgary on the 17th of July.
    Total distance ridden was 12,127 km.
    Number of Alaska ferries used 3.


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    Why bother?
    I’m a 66 (67 as I write this) year old from Calgary who’s discovered rather late in life that I REALLY like traveling and also that I am very fond of traveling by motorcycle. I also know that you can buy things but you cannot buy time, so, it’s time to get my ass in gear while I can still find it.

    Also
    - It would be nice to know that at least some of my inner hooligan remains.
    -I don’t want to be the only person with a motorcycle who hasn’t been to Alaska.
    - I would like to prove (to myself) that I belong to this community and not off racing mobility scooters somewhere. That might be fun, just not yet.
    Or, perhaps I just want to run away for a bit.
    Or, maybe I just want to share some pictures.
    Or, perhaps it’s all of the above.

    With a little luck I’ll be able to motivate some other old fools to take a perfectly serviceable motorcycle, abuse it some, get dirty, possibly get banged up a bit, meet new people, see some incredible sights, learn a bit, and maybe even laugh like an idiot again.
    There will be pictures (actually quite a few pictures), some video, a few people, some pain, definitely some regret and laughter. In other words, just another ride report.

    The participants.
    I conducted the bulk of the ride with our friend Jay; my wife Shelley joined me for the Vancouver to Calgary leg. Jay’s wife Leanne, unfortunately, had to work and could not participate.

    This was the longest that Shelley and I have been apart in 32 years!

    And a 2013 R1200GSlc named Frigg.
    Named (by Shelley) after the wife of Odin. Frigg is said to, amongst other things, control clouds and to sprout wings when necessary, all of which seems rather useful. It’s a great name, and particularly appropriate when Frigg and I disagree on the application of gravity.


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    Looking back at this picture and at the packing, I feel like yelling “pack another tire you idiot, and while you are at it leave some of that crap at home. Oh, and while you are off doing that, sync the time on the cameras, it’s going to be a pain in the ass later if you don’t”. Oh well, no fool like an old fool.

    Day 1
    Calgary to Whistlers campground, Jasper 413 km.

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    Nice day for a ride with temperature of 10 to 12c all day.

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    Ice on the lakes along the Icefields Parkway in June! This will be quite a different picture by the time we are on our way back in July.

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    I've been on the Icefields Parkway a number of times but the affect is never diminished. This is truly one of the world's beautiful places.

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    Nice campsite, clean with good facilities. I'm glad I didn't arrive later than I did as some types of sites were already full. surprising for early June.

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    #1
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  2. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    A little cool in the morning. This is the closest to home and the lowest temperature I'll see on the entire trip. Seems a little strange to go north to get warm.

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    Cool, yes, but nice day.

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    Day 2 route.
    Jasper to Beaumont provincial park
    519 km

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    Stopped at the Mount Robson Provincial Park visitor's center. Very pretty spot, but what you really need to know is that there is free internet. Just see the desk for a password.

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    Found myself riding along at a rather sedate pace as I was early for my meeting with Jay in Prince George. Along came a Harley trike, passing me by. Stopped a while later at the Purden Lake RV resort restaurant, said trike was there. Turned out the trike rider was a fellow from Alberta, the pillion his girlfriend, visiting from Singapore. Sat and chatted with them over (a good) lunch and was still enjoying dessert when they bid me adieu.
    Finished my lunch, went to pay. There I was-- a victim--of a random act of kindness. The couple on the trike had paid my bill. Couldn't even say thank you. Very kind.


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    Met up with Jay and a workmate of his at Timmy's in Prince George. Jay's friend, my bad, do not remember his name, rode with us for a while and then headed home. We continued to Beaumont Provincial park and set up camp.
    $7 CDN seniors rate for the site with 2 tents !!

    Here I will introduce you to Jay, friend and outdoorsman.


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    Day 3
    Beaumont park to Meziadin provincial park
    495 km

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    Stopped for breakfast at the Country Grill

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    Also known as. Always knew there had to be one.

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    Turning north on the Cassiar !!!

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    That's just typical. Rain, wind and sun all at once.

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    Stopped for ice cream at Hazelton. I thought the mountain in the background would have some exotic name with spiritual meaning. Not so much. it's "Roche De Boule", basically ball of rock.

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    Set up camp at Meziadin provincial park. Great camp site, even if they would not give me the seniors rate.

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    Here we met Alex from Holland. Now Alex had departed TDF 18 months or so prior on a pedal bike. He was traveling to Anchorage where he would catch a flight home. Makes my adventure seem rather pedestrian in comparison. Here's hoping that Alex made it home safe.
    We donated a head net to him as he was discovering the mosquitoes.

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  3. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Day 4
    Meziadin to Bell 2 Lodge
    285 (or so) km

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    Bear glacier. That is one big air conditioner with the wind blowing off it.

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    Met this group of riders at Bear glacier. Lets see if I can get this right. They are Gene, Travis and Corey, 3 riders from Washington and Oregon. Travis (in the middle) had his bike fail earlier in the ride. They went to a dealer, purchased a new bike, changed everything over and continued on. Now that is commitment.

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    With a motto of "Deadhorse or dead", they definitely were committed to achieving their goal.I hope they made it (and back).

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    Beautiful downtown Stewart BC for lunch.

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    Actually, quite a nice bakery.

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    Next stop Hyder and our first crossing into Alaska. It feels seriously strange to enter Alaska with no customs presence at all. On the way back there is Canada Customs. Feels weird.

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    The humble little building on the left has some serious history.

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  4. Spaggy

    Spaggy Long timer

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    I'll tell you who is going to read this? ME! Need an Alaska fix.
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  5. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    The building is storehouse #4, one of 4 constructed by the American corps of engineers during an expedition in 1896. Like it says on the display board. "This humble storehouse was Alaska's first masonry building"

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    But wait, there's more. The biggest surprise to me was who was in charge of the expedition and the construction of storehouse #4. Turns out it was this guy.

    Lieutenant Colonel David DuBose Gaillard

    President Roosevelt appointed Colonel George Washington Goethals the new Chief Engineer of the Panama Canal project on February 26, 1907. As a military officer, Goethals was bound to the assignment by duty, but he was also personally determined to see it through to completion.
    When Goethals went to Panama in 1907, he brought Gaillard along. In 1908 Gaillard was placed in charge of construction of the central portion of the Panama Canal, crossing the continental divide. He was in charge of the notorious Culebra Cut through the backbone of the isthmus. Gaillard succeeded in his mission, but did not live to see the job finished. He returned to the US suffering from what was thought to be nervous exhaustion brought on by overwork and died of a brain tumor on December 5, 1913. The Panama Canal opened nine months after his death. During the years of the US Canal Zone (c. 1915–2000), the Culebra Cut in the Panama Canal bore his name in his memory.

    The picture on the first tablet in this post of Colonel Gaillard and his wife having tea in Panama is the same picture commonly seen in Panama Canal history books.

    You might consider stopping at this place as it really is a cool bit of history.

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    Next stop Salmon glacier !!

    This is from Wikipedia

    The Salmon Glacier is a glacier located ~25 km (16 mi) north of Stewart, British Columbia, and Hyder, Alaska, just on the Canadian side of the border. The glacier, one of hundreds in the Boundary Ranges, is notable for its major potential as a natural hazard. Summit Lake is located at the northern end of the glacier and every year around mid-July the lake breaks an ice-dam and then flows under the Salmon Glacier into the Salmon River. This causes the river to rise approximately 4–5 ft (1.2–1.5 m) for several days.

    The glacier can be accessed by road from Hyder, Alaska, from early July to late September.

    The road starts off like this.

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    Then this.

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    Then this.

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    Then this.

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    And this.

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    Early June and it's still rather snowy up here.

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    One of the arms of Salmon Glacier.

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    We reach the lookout feeling modestly adventurous.

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    Only to find that, of the 3 other vehicles at the top, one is a VW bug from Australia and one is a VW microbus . The couple in the bus had purchased it in South America and were on a world tour. So much for feeling adventurous.

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    Jay's body language in this picture speaks volumes. "I want to go tooooo !" it says. And he probably will in the future.

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    Time for a few more pictures before heading down.

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    A little video of the ride down. Probably best not to go off the side here. Please excuse the poor camera angle.




    Back down through Hyder and Canadian customs (still feels weird) to Stewart and on to the Bell 2 lodge and camping for the night.

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    Cool place and a good camp site. Shower building, wifi and a restaurant in the lodge.

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  6. StinkyCheese

    StinkyCheese Long timer Supporter

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    Good start. Looking forward to this. :clap
    #6
  7. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Day 5
    Bell 2 camp to Boya lake provincial park
    563 km

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    I will admit right off that we erred today. We thoroughly enjoyed the telegraph creek road but stopped 25km short of Telegraph creek as we felt a bit of time pressure.

    Continuing up the Cassiar. Regardless of which way you look, the weather up her is going to have it's way with you.

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    Starting off toward Telegraph Creek.

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    At this location there were a number of bear carcases scattered around. no idea why. if anyone knows please chime in.

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    This is not an ugly place and well worth the ride. Just don't screw it up like we did. Go all the way to Telegraph Creek.

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    A little video from the road to Telegraph Creek



    Back on the Cassiar heading north.

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    On this trip I was using the simpler(read cheaper) Spot tracker. Jay was using the Delorme Inreach which allowed him. in conjunction with his iPad, to never be out of communication range. This is either the best thing, if you always want communication available, or the worst if you seek solitude. I'm undecided.

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    Camp at Boya lake

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    #7
  8. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Day 6
    Boya lake to Laird Hot Springs
    320 km

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    Camp the next morning.
    Hard rain all night causing Jay a bit of a tent issue.
    The Redverz is a great tent with tremendous space, but, it's not freestanding. in the middle of the night the ground softened, tent pegs loosened, wind blew tent down around Jay, no fun. So, there he was, out in the middle of the night, in the rain, putting his tent back up. I , apparently slept through the whole thing. Felt rather bad about that. In the morning I couldn't figure out why he didn't want to get up. Can't blame him, if it had been me I would have been total shit.

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    #8
  9. prometheus rising

    prometheus rising Ghost In The Machine

    Joined:
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    Great start, outstanding pictures :thumb:thumb
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  10. Rockhammer

    Rockhammer Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Thoroughly enjoying your report and pics, it's bringing back many memories from my trip up there in August!

    Don't feel bad about stopping short of Telegraph Creek, at least you got to experience that road. I was shut out of it completely due to non-stop rain, now I must go back!
    #10
  11. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile Supporter

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    I’m enjoying the ride also, want to take some of the same route myself. Thank you for letting us ride along!
    #11
  12. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    :thumb:lurk
    Great start. Looking forward to more..Dave
    #12
  13. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    A new Territory today !!

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    On down the road to Watson Lake and the signpost forest.

    I did find the signpost forest and it's history interesting.

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    Even more interesting to me was the display of construction equipment used in the construction of the Alaska highway.

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    After lunch and a bit of re-supply in Watson Lake it was off down the road to Laird hot springs provincial park. Laird was around 200 km in the wrong direction for us but the hot springs were calling :D. The distances up here being what they are, 200 km was beginning to seem like a ride around the block.

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    Your trivia for the day from Wikipedia

    The wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) or mountain bison (often called the wood buffalo or mountain buffalo), is a distinct northern subspecies or ecotype of the American bison. Its original range included much of the boreal forest regions of Alaska, Yukon, western Northwest Territories, northeastern British Columbia, northern Alberta, and northwestern Saskatchewan. It is currently listed as threatened on Schedule I of the Species At Risk Act.

    The wood bison differs from the plains bison (Bison bison bison), the other surviving North American subspecies/ecotype, in a number of important ways. Most notably, the wood bison is heavier, with large males weighing over 900 kilograms (2,000 lb), making it the largest terrestrial animal in North America. The highest point of the wood bison is well ahead of its front legs, while the plains bison's highest point is directly above the front legs. Wood bison also have larger horn cores, a darker and woollier pelage, and less hair on their forelegs and beard.

    They are all over the place between Watson lake and Laird Hot springs. Probably best not to run into one.

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    A little way out of Watson lake I passed a large hand made sign that said " beware of the horse", seemed strange. Shortly after that I passed a horse on the side of the road. Looked in my mirror and said horse is running in the same direction as I was. Perhaps a coincidence but I was not about to stop and find out.

    Camp at Laird hot springs and a chance to dry out from last nights rain.

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    To access the hot springs you walk down the boardwalk.

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    laird is my new favorite hot springs. I will spare you the visual of me in the water.

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    #13
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  14. bergy

    bergy Adventurer

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    good report, this is on my bucket list!
    #14
  15. Hevy Kevy

    Hevy Kevy ADDRider

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    So great. Thanks for putting your RR together. :*sip*
    #15
  16. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Day 7
    Laird hot springs to Whitehorse
    640 or so km

    We had originally planned a route from Watson lake to Ross river/Canol road but were cautioned off it due to road conditions. As it turned out we could have used the route and would have enjoyed it greatly. However, if we had done so we would have likely not backtracked to Whitehorse. Not going to Whitehorse would have denied us a good visit and a great day ride. On balance, we made the correct choice. The Canol road (or the Canadian oil road if you will) can wait for another day.



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    After a long day on the slab we arrived, or should I say floated, into Whitehorse, the rain hammering down.
    Jay called a friend in Whitehorse. It's fair to mention here that Jay is a much more social creature than I am and as a result knows way more people than I.
    This would come to serve us well another time as well.
    Anyway Arlan to the rescue , providing us with accommodations for the next 2 nights.
    And a garage for the bikes!! And a place to dry out!! Thanks Arlan!!

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    #16
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  17. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Day 8
    Whitehorse to Skagway return
    366 km

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    Well, you may remember (or not) that I should have packed a second tire. The TKC80 had 3300 km on it and would not last the rest of the trip. I really like this tire and knew better. Oh well. So, after calling around we found that Yukon Yamaha in Whitehorse keeps a stock of 150 Heidenau k60 in stock. Headed on over there first thing in the morning and had one installed. This would, I believe, bite me later. For now, however, I was a happy camper with a new tire and a spare to carry.

    I highly recommend Yukon Yamaha in Whitehorse. Great service, fair price. Really, they were excellent.

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    That business completed, we set off on a day ride to Skagway.

    Right off I will say that the Klondike highway to Skagway is a beautiful ride and not to be missed if you are in the area.
    I have been to Skagway before ( on a cruise ship), approaching from land has a completely different feeling.



    Stopped at the town of Carcross population approximately 300.

    The baker has a great come on. Free coffee even if you don't buy anything. Pretty safe as the bakery is hard to resist.

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    The restoration of the Tutshi did not go all that well as she burned down before restoration was completed.

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    Now this is all that's left. Sad.

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    Other items of interest.

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    And back down the road to Skagway.

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    And into Alaska for real this time, customs and all !!

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    We had dinner plans back in Whitehorse, so a quick coffee in Skagway and back on the road. Another time I would stay overnight there and explore it's history.

    Back in Whitehorse for dinner at the Sanchez Cantina, which, according to Arlan, is the best restaurant in Whitehorse. I cannot argue as it was bloody good. Reservations please as it's popular.

    Had to scrounge a photo from the net.

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    #17
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  18. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Day 9
    Whitehorse to Dawson city
    532 km

    Nice ride up to Dawson city but didn't take many pictures.

    Lots of flowering wild flowers along the road.

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    Not all of the local residents were happy to see me.

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    A little video of the day. The tailing piles are from the time of dredge mining.



    Dawson city!!!!

    Checked in at the Klondike hotel for a 2 night stay

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    #18
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  19. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
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    Day 10
    Dawson city
    Distance ridden 0

    Dawson city is quite a community . I could definitely spend some more time there.

    One important stop was the NWT visitors center to ascertain the state of the Dempster.

    Well that's good news!!

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    I was a little excited about this part.

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    Lots of good information here.

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    Here we met Evelyn. A very interesting, very well traveled lady with a good sense of humor. She drove a VW van to South America long before it was normal for a single female.

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    At one point in this conversation one of us expressed concern over the state of the Dempster. Evelyn just laughed at us and started clucking like a chicken.:rofl

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    During the Yukon gold rush this old slide wold have come into view just before the prospectors arrived in Dawson city. Must have been quite an event considering all the preparation required for such an expedition.

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    The Dawson city visitors center where we caught up with a tour run by Parks Canada. Parks Canada has quite a large presence in Dawson City and the tour they run is both cheap ( CDN $7) and extremely interesting. The tour aims to show what daily life was like in the area during the gold rush.

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    Several buildings have been renovated and are used in the tour. One of the tour guides playing the part of a gold rush resident.

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    Photos from the rush era.

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    #19
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  20. 1stgenfarmboy

    1stgenfarmboy The Sherpa Man

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    awesome trip report so far, I dream of a day my bride and I can make the trip up there.

    thanks for taking me along.
    #20