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Stranded in Iowa 07-28-2006 11:57 AM

Renting Alaska
Day 1: 7/16/06
Well going to Alaska on a motorcycle has always been a dream trip of mine. But unfortunetly my job will only give me two weeks of freedom. Sure I could have "Ironed Assed" my trip, but I wanted a real vacation with some real R & R time. So, I hooked up with "Alaska Rider Tours" and they set me up on a 2004 KLR 650 for eight days. Eight days that I wouldn`t have had if I rode my own bike to Alaska. I was so extremely excited. I got to AK Riders soon has they opened for business. They had my rental bike freshly washed and ready to roll. I was also pleasently surprised because the bike ran like a champ. Phil Freeman, the owner of AK Riders was even helpfull in getting me some extra tie down straps that he called "boat straps". I packed up my bike and was ready to hit the road. At Alaska Rider Tours you can even UPS yourself your equipment so you wouldn`t have to carry it on the plane, and that`s what I did.

I think I packed too much crap? But it was everything I needed for eight days and being on my own. So off I went. I met up with a few other ADV. Riders from this site just north of Anchorage and I showed them how NOT to mount a fully loaded bike :lol3. They rode with me to Eureka Road House on the Glenn Highway and they bought me lunch:dg . Thanks!

We said our goodbye`s and off they went back to Anchorage. Now I`m completely on my own. I promptly jumped on my bike and headed east to Valdez,AK. Fantastic scenery!!

The Worthington Glacier.

Up on the Thompsons Pass, I ran into some very ugly weather. It was so foggy (I was in the clouds) and I couldn`t even see my hand in my face, it was raining, and seriously cold. There was no way I was going to camp at the Blueberry campgrounds has planned, so I proceeded onto Valdez having no idea what to expect. While taking a photo of Bridal Falls (waterfall) a white truck come up behind me screeching to a halt then does a 180 and tears out of there (Starky & Hutch manuever). What the heck was that about?

I finally got to Valdez about 9:30 pm and found a $21 dollar campground
that would let me pitch my tent. There were other riders there too. All on Goldwings from Minnesota.

Stranded in Iowa 07-28-2006 01:28 PM

Day 2: 7/17/06
When I woke up, it was raining. I should get used to this, because it rained on me every day. Another thing I had to get used to is all that daylight! I thought it was about 8:00 pm and it was actually 12:30 am. I better put the bottle :1drink down and get some sleep. I didn`t actually have a route plan, or any plan. Wherever my bike takes me, I`m there. I left Valdez and headed north. Next thing I know, I`m getting gas in Paxson and I`m headed west across the Denali Highway. The Denali Highway is a 135 mile gravel road and your completly on your own. This turns out to be one of the biggest highlights of my trip. Even though it rained on me, it was one of the most scenic and exciting rides I ever undertook. I admit that I was really nervous because I was alone and have no experience in fixing a flat tire or repairing a bike if it broke down on me. I always have had good luck in that deptartment (so far). Again, I had no idea what to expect? I`m so glad I got to experience the Denali highway.

I couldn`t begin to describe the feeling of traveling on this road. It was incredible. About 5:00 pm or so I came across the Gracious House. . A lodge thats located about fifty miles or so from Cantwell,AK. Has I was sitting there in front of the lodge and having a smoke break and checking out the scenery, this lady comes walking out of the restaraunt and asked me if I was a part of the AK Rider group tour thats supposed to come through and stay overnight in their cabin. No, I wasn`t, but I wanted to say, yeah, that me! I told her no, and even though this bike comes from AK Rider, I`m not on a group tour. Just on my own with my tent.

The lady just informed me that she just got done baking a fresh hot apple pie and if I would like to come in and have a slice. Um, now that you have mentioned it, I am kinda hungry, tired, cold, and wet. She proceeded to tell me that they have a full service restaraunt, cabins for rent for $140, or I could pitch my tent behind the bar for $10. I decided to pitch my tent behind the Sluice Box. That was after I ate two big bowls of chili and a slice of apple pie ala mode.

After dinner and pitching my tent. I made my way to the Sluice Box for a few beers. I didn`t stay up too late. I actually went to sleep a little early. The Gracious House really surprised me, it`s an oasis out in the middle of nowhere. Their electricity is ran off of generators that run 24 hours a day. They have everything there, even a flight seeing operation, two planes and one float plane with another campground that`s really secluded. Did I mention that the views were incredible? Here are a couple of short videos of the Denali Highway. Just expeirmenting with my camera, sorry no sound. Not really worth watching either. I like them though.

Video 1:

Video 2:

Stranded in Iowa 07-28-2006 02:10 PM

Day 3: 7/18/06
This was a very long day. Has I said, I have no plans. Whatever happens, happens. Nor did I keep track of daily milage or cost. I woke up at the Gracious House and had a big hearty breakfest, and settled my final bill. I got on the road and finished up the Denali Highway trip. I wanted to go back and do it over again, unfortunetly that didn`t happen.

Towards the end, near Cantwell. I ran into two germans who were riding what else GS1200 adventure BMW`s (well, one of them was, don`t know what the other BMW was?). They barely spoke english. They shipped their bikes all the way over from Germany to ride Alaska, but they wouldn`t tell me where they were heading. I believe they said Dawson City, but they wouldn`t tell me what their plans are or anything else. We got to talking and it was just funny in what they were telling me. They were telling me that my bike is junk and I should buy a BMW F650 Dakar. Normaly I would take offense to this but since it wasn`t my bike, and knowing that I already fell off once (that would have cost big bucks on a BMW) I thought the KLR was perfect for me. Can`t hurt it and it`s inexpensive. I just thought it was funny that they kept telling me that I needed to buy a BMW. Germans. :loco

I got to Cantwell and decided to fuel up. One thing that kinda struck me about Alaska, are the convience stores. There are none when your out of the big towns. All I saw were the Tesoro gas stations, some had empty shelves and others were catured to tourist. But I never could find what I needed, except for the major things like water, gas, and smokes. Better have what you need before you leave Anchorage. I headed north up the Parks highway. I stopped in at the Denali Park and rode for a few miles before I turned around.

I didn`t get hardly any photo`s this day. Think maybe I forgot about my camera? I can`t really explain about what happened but when I got back to the Parks Highway, I just hauled ass for the longest time. I made it to Fairbanks. I was supposed to stop there and maybe go to the Arctic circle. I didn`t do it, I kept going. I even shot past the Santa Clause House, and I wanted to stop there. O`well. I don`t know what it was, I got to Fairbanks and I just wanted to keep rolling. No offense to anyone, but I just wanted to get back out of town. I pretty much didn`t stop for anything that day untill I got to the Motorcycle campgrounds (Thompsons Eagle Claw) on the Tok Cut-off in Tok. I had a few surprises before I got to Tok. I was traveling behind a white station wagon. The wagon driver saw a moose & calf standing on side of road and he blared his horn. Next thing I know, the moose comes charging out onto the road, almost like it was saying "who said that?" and started to charge at me. I had to slam on the brakes and do the worlds fastest 180 on a bike. When I looked back, the cow ran off into the woods chasing after her calf. Dang, that was too close. I never did see that station wagon again. I am looking for him! :fight About twenty minutes later in the Tanacross Flats, I had a couple of moose that ran out right in front of me. I`m not making this up!! I rode right between the two of them. Believe me, I wanted to break and do another 180, but I couldn`t stop in time. I should have held out my hands and slapped the both of them has I went by. When I did stop, I wanted to take a picture of them two, one of them got mad at me, ears were flat on it`s head and started to trot towards me. Yeah, call me a coward. Screw the camera, screw the picture, I`m out of here. I found the motorcycle campgrounds (which wasn`t to hard) and I went to pitch my tent. The owner came out and told me I could use the teepee he had set up since he wasn`t having very much business, for the same price has tent camping, $10. Even though this campground has no showers, this is a very nice place! He set up a bath station to where you can fill up and heat a small tub of water so you could clean yourself up if you wish. I was very impressed with this campground. Alot of woodwork, very clean, and a great host. I highly recommend this place to anyone. Thompsons Eagle Claw Motorcycle campgrounds.

GSgal 07-28-2006 05:30 PM

Glad you had such a good trip! MikeO and I just spent a week riding some of the same roads you were on, but a week ahead of you from the sound of it. We had a lot of rain too, but that's Alaska for you.

Two years ago I rented a bike from Phil at Alaska Rider Tours and had a great trip on the Kenai. Phil was immensely helpful and friendly. I'd work with him anytime.

Thanks for your report! :clap

Stranded in Iowa 07-28-2006 06:18 PM

Day 4: 7/19/06
Today is a good day to ride to Chicken,AK. I made quick work with the Taylor highway, That was alot of fun with all the sweepers, curves, and hills. I shot past alot of RV`s has if they were standing still. There were remnents of a huge forest fire that was going on, a few smoldering places and the forest was burnt black. I saw an airplane do a nose dive right above one of the fires. I couldn`t see if it dropped anything but I think it did. It was really cool watching it dive into the valley below me then pop out right above my head. Sorry, didn`t have my camera ready for that one. I thought Chicken was really neat, but on the other hand it`s just another tourist trap.

There`s a cannon inside the saloon. I`ve heard that durring the nightly festivities in the bar, they will shoot womens unmentionables across the bar. I would have liked to have seen that one, but I have miles to cover.

And of course, I had to go chicken sledding. Poor little chickens.:cry

I would have liked to travel over the Top of the World Highway to Dawson but I just didn`t have the time. Of course the gravel road out of Chicken is just has spectacular. I guess?

I went back to the campgrounds and picked up my luggage and proceeded to haul butt to Anchorage but I only made it to forteen miles west of Glenallen at a Campgrounds. The Tok-cut off was a nightmare. One construction zone after another. You would finally get free of one and travel for maybe half a mile then there is another construction zone. It wouldn`t be so bad, but in Alaska (I`m no expert here) they close off the entire road and make you wait for a half hour for a fifteen mile an hour pilot car/truck.

And more construction zones.

I was finally able to safetly take a few photo`s of a moose & her calf while on the Tok cutoff.

Has I said, I only made it to Glenallen that day. I have a RV campground book and the book gave excellent marking for this campground just west of Glenallen. Maybe it was my mood after all that construction, but I give that campground low markings. Not only the host were rude, but that place sure was full of skeeters. I didn`t have any problems with them though. I set up my tent and in I go. Coin operated showers too, better have enough change with you or you`ll end up with soap in your eyes. It would have been nice to have a 30 second warning before the water shut off.

silverbandit1 07-28-2006 06:32 PM


tedder 07-28-2006 06:45 PM

holy shit! I use the same tent.

Stranded in Iowa 07-28-2006 06:49 PM

Day 5: 7/20/06
I left that crappy campgrounds and for the first time, and last time the mosquitoes were annoying me. Trying to pack up and they were just every where. I hurried up and got everything packed up and off I went. I took the long way back into Anchorage. First I had to go over Hatchers Pass, it was on my list of must do`s. Hatchers Pass was very awsome. The views were tremendous. This is another must for anyone going to Alaska!

Has I was flying along somewhere near the top of Hatchers Pass, I saw something pass me on my left. What the hell is that? It was a huge metal basket and it was about ten feet off my left side. What the heck? It was a helicopter carring a metal basket and it soon landed (dropped the basket next to a huge radio tower) and flew off. I`m kinda freaked out about that because I thought it was too close for comfort. Sorry, I didn`t have my camera ready for that one either.
When I got to the end of Hatchers Pass there was a break in the trees and I got a view that made me crap myself. Yes, Mt McKinnley, the full monty.

I wish I was in closer to Talkeetna, otherwise I would have done one of those flight seeing tours. I had my chance a few days earlier, but the mtn was socked in. I have no time to waste. I got a long ways to go and things to see.
I went back to Anchorage and stopped off at AK Riders and I had them go over my bike, top the oil and kick the tires while I relieved myself and my luggage. I think I was carrying way too much stuff. I didn`t need an extra set of cloths and etc, etc. I only got three days left anyhow. I got finshed with all that and the next thing I know, my bike is taking me into Seward,AK.
Oh man, was it cold and wet out that day. Jeez. I broke down and decided to get me one of those $140 a night hotels. I must admit, it was a real nice place and it had a great view.

Across the street there at Ray`s. I had my first real seafood dinner (does Long John Silvers count?), I had a halibit dinner. That was really, really good. I`m still thinking about it. I woke up in the morning and looked out my window and I see that during the night a cruise ship came in and docked.
None of the less, Seward.AK has got to be one of the most scenic town I ever seen. Very beautifull. Too bad it doesn`t have the Homer Spit style camping.

Stranded in Iowa 07-28-2006 06:56 PM


Originally Posted by tedder

I like the tent very much, but when it`s cold and windy, that mesh at the bottom sides next to your head really lets the cold air blow in on you. Too much ventilation in that thing.:huh

SGrider 07-28-2006 07:05 PM

Great report, I hope I can ride around Alaska someday. For now I will stick to the lower 48.:thumbup

brockster 07-28-2006 07:05 PM

Neat ride. Mysterious pickup trucks, black helicopters slinging secret baskets at you? They're after you , man...:huh

Stranded in Iowa 07-28-2006 07:19 PM

Day 6: 7/21/06
Has usual, I woke up and I showered, shaved, and packed the bike down.
I`m off to my final destination, Homer,AK. I wanted to spend my final weekend in Alaska on the Homer Spit. Again, I hauled butt and got to Homer has quickly has I could. It was Friday, and I wanted to make sure I got myself a choice campsite before the crowds got there for the weekend. I got my campsite right on the beach (city campgrounds) for $8.00 a day.
It was really nice.

I took a little nap after I set every thing up. It was only about 10:00 pm and I was off on a mission. I gotta get me some beer! The beer store on the spit was closed. Damn. So I went into Homer and went into the nearest convience store, I couldn`t find any beer. WHAT? Convience stores don`t sell beer in Alaska, double damn. Where the liqour store? Off I went. Liquor store is closed, triple damn. There`s another liquor store in town, I got the directions and I couldn`t for the life of me find the place? Quadruple damn, damn.
Damn, I`m in the best camping spot in the world and I have NO BEER! Dammit! There`s an old saying, improvise, overcome, adapt. So I did just that. Some people were having a party on the spit next to my campsite and I noticed that they have beer :eek1! So, I decided to go introduce myself. Well, I finally got me some beers. :clap :beer :dutch :freaky:slurp :loaded:D

gatkinson 07-28-2006 07:23 PM


Originally Posted by Stranded in Iowa
I found the motorcycle campgrounds (which wasn`t to hard) and I went to pitch my tent. The owner came out and told me I could use the teepee he had set up since he wasn`t having very much business, for the same price has tent camping, $10. Even though this campground has no showers, this is a very nice place! He set up a bath station to where you can fill up and heat a small tub of water so could clean yourself up if you wish. I was very impressed with this campground. Alot of woodwork, very clean, and a great host. I highly recommend this place to anyone. Thompsons Eagle Claw Motorcycle campgrounds.

Hey, that tee pee looks familiar:D I did have to move about 10 inches to the left about half way through the night due to rain drops falling on my face.

Very nice folks there. That was about 4 weeks ago, man what a time!

Stranded in Iowa 07-28-2006 07:42 PM

Day 7: 7/22/06
Wanna talk about a lazy day? I am the King of Laziness. It was a seriously a cold ass day and it was raining kinda hard. The rain and wind wasn`t going to let up. I had planned on waking up extra early and hoping to get on one of those halibit fishing excurssions. I`m not a fisherman, but I thought it would have been a great thing to do. I`m not that hardcore in going out on a lousy day like this. So I sleeped, and sleeped. I woke up, and went back to sleep again. About 5:00pm the rain stoped and I woke up kinda hungry. So I went out and had dinner at a mexican sea food restaraunt. It was OK but nothing like Ray`s in Seward. After dinner and last nights nightmare in trying to find some beer, I thought I better get on the ball!

That Alaskan Amber fits really nice on the back of a KLR 650!! So does two bundles of firewood! Now, I`m all set for another night of Homer Spit camping. :freaky

I took a little walk with my camera before I started my celebrations and found this dumpster, I thought it looked rather interesting. Yum!

I made a few friends that night and had a good time. It was weird to see the sun go down and come back up another hour later??

treysmagna 07-28-2006 08:12 PM

Having no beer sucks!:(: I carried a bottle of crown on me at all times. Most nights, if you can call them that, we would stop and buy a six pack or so before we made camp. We stayed at the camp ground in Tok right as you come into town. It had a bar and even the internet and a washateria and showers. I would highly recommend it. Did I mention that I hate not having beer?

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