Wow, a bit late. There was a distinct lack of photos and journal entries to use as reference for this post, so it's all by memory. As a result, quality may have suffered a bit.
I got up early the next morning and hauled ass west towards Anchorage. It was gray, wet, and cold. I remember pulling alongside a logging road to get my head straight and take care of... business. As I went to slide my glass chillum in my inner jacket liner, in my haze I forgot which side had the pocket. I did the old slid-in on the wrong side and dropped my pipe down along the liner and to the gravel below. A sickening crack broke the evening air. It echoed through my head as I realized I didn't have any papers. Lame..... Satisfied with my buzz, I hauled ass into Anchorage to retrieve my tire. I scored my new Kenda, as well as an adventure sheepskin and a few balaclavas from Barb at Alaska leather. We had a nice chat and she told me a bit of her travels on a KLR. I also got some very useful information, the location of the nearest head shop and a free place to camp at the House of Harley. Score! Cruised on into town to nab a fresh piece and doubled back to the House of Harley. This place is great, free place for moto-camping and free hot shower. I very much recommend the place. There was another bike already there, with a tent pitched in the far corner. An older Africa Twin, absolutely covered in stickers. This thing was a monstrosity, it looks like it's been through hell and back. So I make myself at home and waited for my new neighbor to show.
A shower and some half-decent Wendys leaves me wandering back to the campsite, where I find an older englishman. Hmm... He introduces himself as Ian Coates, a world traveler. He apparently left his home in England for a three month road trip.... that was eleven years ago. He hasn't been back. Amazing. We shoot the shit for a bit and he entertains me with stories of his own adventures. Just before nightfall, a loaded V-strom pulls alongside the fence in the upper parking lot. The rider flips his lid as he kills the engine and asks us how the hell we got past the gate. Jogging around, I threw it open as the newcomer coasts down into the rear parking area. Introductions were passed, his name was Danny, and as luck would have it, his top case was full of beer. I knew I was in good company. We spent the remainder of the night chatting and drinking. It turns out that Danny recognized Ian's ride, and already knew quite a bit about Ian's travels. This dude is a damn celebrity on the Horizons Unlimited forum, he's been everywhere, bumming about the countryside and working on farms and metal shops in exchange for some food or a place to stay. The key, he informed us, is to do much more than what you're asking for. Chock full of wisdom. As the sun dropped in the late-evening skies, Ian quickly disappeared into his tattered tent, leaving Danny and I on our own. Chillums were passed, beers consumed. All in all, it was a good night.
Over the next day or two, I just kind of hung out. We all did maintenance on our rides. Oil changes, filters cleanings, tires mounted. I threw on a cheap set of grip-warmers in an attempt to stave off the cold. We even got in a few rides around town, in quite an odd fashion. Ian threw on his high-vis coat, but left on his way too short-shorts. I remember watching as people on the highway would tap the glass, pointing out the crazy Brit to the others in the car. They got a good laugh, and Ian couldn't give less of a fuck. If there's anything I got from this guy, it was a “Just do it. Fuck 'em, just do it” attitude.
I even spent a good hour or so shooting the shit with some of the folks at the neighboring adventure rental place, Motoquest Tours. I remember Ben, specifically. He seemed pretty interested in the mods I had done to the KLR. I tossed the keys his way to take it on a test run. A good twenty minutes later he comes baja-ing back into the parking lot with a big grin on his face. He seems pretty satisfied with what I've done and picks my brains a bit. The front dive? Progressive springs. 685 kit? Schnitz Racing. That kinda stuff. He jotted all this down and seemed pretty eager to give some of these upgrades a try to some of the rental vehicles. Pulling me towards the back of the shop, he showed me his own personal ride. A Ducati of some sort. I don't remember what specifically, but it was a fairly impressive ride. Shortly there after, he turns to me and smirks. “Well, I rode yours, you wanna give this a shot?” I grinned but declined. I didn't have nearly the mileage under my belt to feel comfortable riding someones bike, especially in a congested and still fairly foreign city. With that, I headed back to the campsite to plan out my next route. I was already this far, I might as well continue heading south. That's the way that Danny had headed earlier in the day, and it was enthusiastically recommended seeing as there was a brief window of a couple of days where the weather would stay relatively clear. And so that was that, I had a heading.