Of Moose & Men....an epic journey to Alaska and the Top of the World
It all began here....
I posted on ADV to find a riding partner to go from San Francisco to Dawson City Yukon for the D2D event.
Normally, every year I fly to Bulgaria where my second motorcycle is stored, and tour a month or more through multiple foreign countries, braving questionable food and gas, all kinds of invasive searches at border crossings (don't ask about Turkey) and cross places off my list of things to see. But this year, I decided to visit my favorite place as a kid. Alaska.
I remember being perplexed when my father, who worked on the pipeline, came and found me playing with some other kids to tell me it was 1 a.m. and time to go to bed and the sun doesn't set here in summer. (no wonder I was so darned tired)
I remember taking a cruise out to the glaciers and covering my ears when the ship blew the horn to make some ice crash down into the water and watched in awe as the waves slowly made their way to the hull of the ship and rocked us gently.
I remember also catching my first fish and when the crew saw it was a "junk" fish, threw it back in without another word, leaving me with balled fists and sniffling.
I remember the microscopic flowers that grew all over the the ground in wonderful pastel colors and loved them so much, my father later sent a whole bunch delicately dried and pressed in an envelope back when the postal service took "do not bend' seriously.
SpecialAgentNancy rides again and this time to Alaska June 1st from San Francisco. She will ride solo and with new friends.
She will eat all manner of meat. Elk, Moose, Raccoon, Caribou and yes even Bear if she can.
She's called "The Hobbit" and it's not for the hairy feet. (I'm going to have my second breakfast when I finish this).
My first partner in crime was Mario, a rider I met at a dirt rally in Mendocino National Park in May. He's got impeccable taste in bikes!
We rode that day together with our Tigers and had a great time!
So a few weeks later it came together and my boyfriend Arka, my riding partner for that day Mario and I all met for breakfast June 1.
Had an excellent meal (as always) at Cafe Aquarius in Emeryville and took the first important, "before", photo of the epic month long journey to come.
We took a winding path through the hot central valley towards Chico for a lunch stop and discussion about route. The south entrance to Lassen Park was still closed. Fortunately, 8lives helped us by telling in time.
So we chose to go the long way round: 32 north from Chico > 36 East > The the Mooney Road 'shortcut' which started as gravel but quickly went to pavement > to the 44 West and 89 South to Manzanita Lake campground.
With promises of chicken roasted over an open fire, we rode all day in hot weather punctuated from time to time by farmland irrigated with water that helped to cool the air down a bit.
As my stomach began to growl as loudly as the bike we arrived at our campsite.
Where Mario didn't dilly dally and got things started right away!
The smell was positively mouth watering....
We discussed the debate of 100 deet or not....and the ride we did. This is my favorite part of riding with partners...it's worth the hassles in my mind. I love nothing more than to discuss the fun, strange things you've seen and the overall feelings about this very special kind of travel.
We were expecting a visit by Highplains Drifter but it wasn't meant to be. The campground "police" told us he was camped there the night before and mentioned that I'd be arriving and to look out for me and say hello in case he didn't make it back. Heck, they even brought us firewood. I collected an armful myself walking around and got myself good and dirty in no time.
Went to bed with a fully tummy and felt great about my decision to ride 3000+ miles alone. Into Alaska, the last frontier.
It's more or less clear about moose.
says most we need to know, except the close encounters.
The men, it's more interesting i guess.
And Alaska, of course.
Looking forward to this report. Just back from riding up to the Yukon, Skagway, Top of the World and D2D.
:lurk Let's go!
I'm in too though I have no idea why, having been there for about 1/4 of the miles associated with this RR!
Although my efforts to find a suitable riding partner failed I decided to go anyway. A lot of things were in my favor. I knew people halfway along the route so I could stop off with friends and visit. I had sent a whole heck of a lot of PM's to the attendees for Dust 2 Dawson and got some extra offers of help once I was in Alaska and I was determined to do a trip this year.
Normally I fly to Bulgaria where I have an F650 Funduro stored and tour there but I just didn't have it in me this year. It's a lot of hassle and work. Packing for a journey of this kind is already difficult in that it takes weeks of preparation on top of researching the route itself, the roads, the weather patterns. A friend suggested Alaska and the idea took off.
As Mario and I pulled out of Lassen campground and fueled up, I was beginning to feel anxious. I would experience this a few times over the next week. Thoughts of "what am I thinking" kept rattling around in my head. Women are wired differently. Sure we seek adventure (I've toured over 20 countries by motorcycle over the past 5 years) but doing it alone is daunting. "What if" was constantly cycling though my head. I realize now looking back that it was merely a fall out from last year's ride. 14 countries, 10,000+ miles, 30 days. We had 3 weeks of bad weather and I rode one of those solo and came upon some difficulties that I could have done without.
But back to the fun stuff! Mario made his turn and I continued on solo towards Crater Lake. The plan was to go through Klamath Falls (there aren't actually any falls there...)
Mt Shasta followed me all the way. 89 North > 299 NE > 139 North through Modoc National Forest > 39 North
First it was Northwest of me, then West, then South were I stopped to take these photos.
Got to Klamath where I would stop for lunch and let the attendant at the gas station hand me the gas pump because well it's too dangerous for me to do that myself. Found a BBQ place called Wubba's and ordered some great ribs and contemplated my options for that night.
Within minutes another motorcycle pulled up and parked next to me. There is an unspoken code when it comes to riding; one of those is that we trust each other to find good BBQ. In fact, it was so delicious, I had the leftovers for dinner over my campfire that night (in bear country) and stopped here on July 3rd on my way back.
I wove my way through beautiful lands and saw plenty of horses grazing. This foal and mother were fun to watch.
Shortly after seeing them I arrived at the south entrance to Crater Lake via the 97 North > 62 North.
Interesting formations from the volcanic history.
And then I arrived at my campsite. When I stopped at the entrance to pay my half price admission fee and flipped up my visor, I was accosted by a swarm of mosquitoes. A few minutes later as I pulled up to the office to check in and pay for a site, it was even worse. It became even more interesting when the ladies at the office explained that only 3 of the 10 sites were even open due to large amounts of snow still left on the ground.
As I rode around trying to choose my site and finding only 2 other people (both in RV's) thoughts of the vehement warnings by the ladies at check in of the 'extremely' active bear country I would be in plagued me.
They had me so paranoid that I put everything, and I mean everything in the bear cabinet. I made a fire as it was plenty chilly and got read the riot act by the patrol which happened to come by during the 1 minute I stepped away from the campsite (and active fire) to pee.
Even the water was cloudy and murky from being so cold....so I filled what my boyfriend calls my "old lady hot water bottle" and went to bed with a bear can spray and 1 million volt stun gun and just hoped that things would be all right. At least, I thought, I can piss off any bear enough that it won't play with it's "food". Me.
can't wait for more!
I wonder if anyone as ever used a stun gun on a bear? Sounds as if you were ready to find out.
Glad you went north, it is wonderful. Just showed my daughter a sugar packet from Hotel Tartini in Piran. She enjoyed the story. I'm heading back to europe next late april/early may for awhile.:D
Remember that movie when the killer arctic frost settles over North America?
Well one of those woke me from a dead sleep right before dawn. I was shivering so hard that I had to grit my teeth shut so I wouldn't bite my tongue. I bundled up and piled my gear on top of my sleeping bag, ignored my unhappy bladder and went back to sleep. I decided to sleep in late as I didn't want to run any risk of black ice. Left camp after a pretty good omelet and finally arrived at Crater Lake.
What an amazing color of blue.
This is the volcano tip sticking up inside the lake.
Plenty of signs sternly warning of getting too close to the edge and falling to your death. Ignored those and sat at one.
I have a policy of kicking large rocks out of the road. From large pebbles to fist sized rocks. I've pulled over a few times in my life to pick something ridiculous out of the road like a 2x4. I ride to enjoy a scenic ride and I know that day and route will see plenty of other riders so I'm just looking out for my fellow rider. As I wound my way along the crater on the West side, I came around a rather sharp blind turn and saw a fist sized rock that had tumbled down from the cliffs above. I promptly aimed my boot and kicked it off the road and just about twisted my foot right off. Forgot, I was wearing street boots. I almost always ride with off road boots and for those of you who do, know that you could kick just about anything and not feel it. Boy did I feel like an idiot later in Eugene with ice packs on my foot.
But the universe was kind and I found this place halfway to Eugene for lunch.
139 North >97 North >58 West.
I knew it was my kind of place when this sign was on the front door.
And discovered how delicious Broasted chicken was
I decided to circle into Eugene to visit with Danny. I rode with him the prior year in Europe for a month. Dad, helped me find this cute hostel near the university where it was safe to park the bike outside.
My room was bunked with abnormally low beds (this would seem to be a theme on the trip and I bumped my head way more times than I care to admit) but I was smart about this time. I stuffed my teddy bear under the slats above my pillow so when I did get up in the night, I hit something soft first.
After most of the swelling went down, Danny came by to see the bike and say hi.
Had a great night of sleep and met Danny for breakfast the next morning. It was shortly after that I realized I didn't have my Spot tracker on my arm.
Thus began the unpleasant calls to spot to warn them to ignore any 911 and tell me if they could turn it on remotely because I wasn't getting a signal. Turns out I dropped it at the hostel and a benevolent soul picked it up and put it on a high shelf where no one would ever find it. Except I did, when I went back and did my best sherlock holmes....
I did have, quite possibly, one of the best espresso drinks ever at the Glenwood Cafe so go there for breakfast if you ever pass through Eugene.
nancy. glad to see you made it back and with a good story to share.
Left early and wound my way through some lovely farmland on the 99 that parallel's the I-5.
It was a pretty short day, not too hot....and let's talk about that for a minute. It's it always about the gear. True, when adventure riders get together, the conversation seems to always start with tires but I'd say for me, choosing the right gear is the hardest part. Since I was going to Alaska...and AKDuc warned me incessantly about the rain and cold, it was a pretty clear choice to wear my BMW winter gear lined with Gore-Tex. I wasn't going to get caught in terrible, wet, cold weather again. In general, my choice proved to be the right one but there were some days that I was in my own personal Gore-Tex sauna hell.
Came into one small town and obeyed the speed signs...good thing too, patrol car was hiding behind this big equipment.
Arrived in Portland and visited with a classmate Brooke, from USF a decade earlier. We figured out her son was pretty excited about being on my bike...this is the only photo out of 6 that he paid attention to us.
My comfy bed for the night.
My dinner....blackened snapper and veggies. It felt good to cook. I, for one, can only tolerate so much restaurant food.
Had a great night of sleep and another short day of riding ahead of me....since I got some help from hvman that the 25 North was still closed.
He met me at a gas station off of the I-5 and helped me plan my route for that day....I-5 N> 12 East > 7 North > 706 East
But not before some jet fuel.
Off the 706 I found a special place....Dan Klennert workshop
I met this nice lady (his wife) and heard their life story of travelling the world finally to settle right back in WA where they were from, in the shadow of the Mt Rainier.
Even the chairs were cool!
And this is to help you see the scale of these things.
And this one for my boyfriend who loves dogs
Shortly after that I arrived at the park entrance...where I went 35 mph as I was supposed to do with some idiot pushing me from behind constantly.
(this photo was taken mere seconds before the area before was swarmed by Asian tourists) See me taking the photo in my side mirror?
The clouds parted and the angels started to sing and I saw Mt Rainier.
Pulled into Paradise and decided to have lunch at the fancy restaurant.
After I choked on the prices, I opted for some wings. Boy were they terrible.
When I came back I struck up a conversation with a group of 4 riders travelling together. I asked them where they were headed and when they said "Carson"....I thought, carson, carson...I know that. Oh! That's at the end of the 25. "Hey guys, the 25 is closed."
Turns out later when I ran into Aaron on the ferry to Victoria that the gang decided I didn't know what I was talking about and headed that way anyway, only to turn back. Now what Aaron said later when we rode Victoria together was that he said to the group that I had a GPS, a map, a spot tracker and a plan....if I didn't know whether or not a road was closed he'd eat his helmet. Well that's the story anyway.
So I started heading East to catch the 410 N and when I found these ladies, I asked, how far to the next gas station. (I had plenty of fuel, just wanted to know) and this nice lady insisted I take some of her gas from her can.
Well I made it to Seattle right around rush hour, fortunately for me I was going against the flow (into downtown). I arrived at my friend's place near the water in a swanky condo on the 16th floor. My room.
And took the knots out in the Jacuzzi.
The view from my room.
My boyfriend is a Seahawks fan so I went to their store and got this beanie and posed in front of the needle.
I had a day to run around and stock up on things I forgot and since the door to the room was literally falling off the hinges, and being the good "son" that I am to a father that was an electrician and fixed everything around the house himself, I fixed it.
That door is never coming down. Used thicker, longer wood screws and epoxy glued the hinges on to the door and the frame. Never coming off.
Had a great time with friends
Then went for very expensive steak with a view.
What was tricky about this part of my trip was that it was the last point of contact with people I knew. The next morning the real adventure would start. Knowing I had an invitation to stay with Yatman in Victoria was a great comfort to me but getting up that morning to catch the bainbridge ferry (one of many to come) was unnerving.
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