Got up the next morning and packed up. Ian was hanging around for another day or so, but I was getting antsy just laying around in the tent or wandering the neighborhood. We exchanged goodbyes and I headed south, probably no earlier than mid-morning. It's kinda hard to get lost in Alaska. After all, there are maybe all of 10 highways, half of which dead end. This particular route was known as the Seward Highway, one of the deadliest roads in Alaska. And I realize why. The views were amazing as the road snaked along the coast and into Turnagain Arm, but this was a narrow two lane highway with very little shoulder to speak of. On top of that, being the only road going south, all traffic from Seward to Homer and back up to Anchorage had to follow this route. RVs, vans, trailers, and Alaskans came flying around every swooping corner, and you can bet that a good portion of the tourists weren't looking ahead. I wasn't in a constant butt-pucker, but I didn't want to fuck around. With the day fading fast, I pushed forward, determined to take the highway as far as I could. That, as it would turn out, would be the town of Seward.
The road wound along the rocky coast and gave way to gravel before long. I pushed on until I hit sand, black sand. What a beach. What a view. I burned one and toured some of the trails, but for the most part I just hung out on the beach. I took this opportunity to get in what photos I could, and even managed a half decent panorama. I watched the fishermen on the shore cast and reel, cast and reel, being sure to keep a steady pace, although I didn't see very much come in. At one point, a man with a fairly large pack came down along the beach and plopped his gear down just in front of me. He started unloading what looked like a large amount of red canvas and a collapsible oar. Curious, I just sat back and watched as he slowly began inflating the canvas one pontoon at a time, and in short time he had a fully inflated kayak. Wow. I strolled over and picked his brain a bit about this odd contraption. The kayak had apparently been loaned to him for testing purposes by the company that manufactured it. He had never been in an inflatable kayak before, and wasn't really sure what to expect. Looking out over the small whitecaps that lapped at the shore, I wasn't totally convinced that it was going to be sturdy and stiff enough to plow through them, and I was right. As he set out, the entire kayak seemed to flex and flow over the waves rather than slicing through them. Now, keep in mind I know next to nothing about kayaking, so I have no idea how this effected the handling. The guy took it all in stride, however, and shot out into the bay. I soon lost sight of him and what interest I had in his little tour of the bay. Brushing myself off, I gathered my things and trudged back to the bike.
Turning back, I passed down the same sandy road that brought me here, along the shore and back to town where I fueled up and grabbed a quick bite to eat. At the intersection next to what smelled like a fish cannery, I pulled off to the side and studied my GPS. In the background, I heard what sounded like another KLR blow past me. I glanced up to see a rider in a high-viz vest double back and cruise down the sidewalk towards me. I motioned back towards the parking lot and pulled ahead, looking to get out of traffic if this was going to be another encounter. He pulled along side me and cut his engine. Through his full-face I could barely make out the words “Are you from the forum?” I chuckled to myself. Which one? It didn't matter. I nodded. “Where are you headed?” I replied with my usual shrug and indicated that I was just interested in finding a place to camp for the night. He motioned with his gloved hand that I should follow him before starting up the '08 and pulling back out onto the highway. Sure, why not?
Same bus, different time, different bike.
So I found myself doubling back, heading north now, following this mysterious stranger on a shiny new KLR. A dozen or so miles out of Seward, we hung a left into a self storage facility. Pulling in around back and up a gravel embankment, I was led to a transit bus oddly located back in the woods. With a chuckle I pull up next to my fellow rider and dismount. Here is where handshakes were exchanged and he introduced himself as Billy. This was his bus, finished on the inside with a queen size bed in the back, office in the front, hardwood floors and cabinets all around. Very impressive. He didn't live here, but he stayed here often as it was closer to work than his house was. Well alright, my kinda guy. Shortly there-after, a woman on an older KLR, all camouflaged, pulled in alongside Billy's '08 and dismounted. She introduced herself as Rae, and the two of them were shacked up together. Good stuff. I was given a large piece of cardboard to lie out beside the bus and pitch my tent on. As I set up camp, Billy and Rae looked over my monstrosity of a KLR. They questioned me on this and that, and couldn't get enough of the air horn. Beers were passed and steaks were cooked up, and I felt right at home in the company of this couple. Once again, good people. We spent the remainder of the evening exchanging stories and looking at pictures, knocking back a few as we did. With the beer taking it's toll, I took the opportunity to say goodnight and crawled into my bedroll for a solid night's rest.