Meet Russ from Texas. We had breakfast together and discussed the rest of the trip together at some length. We were going to share the ride back all the way to the border of BC and WA. Russ is from Texas and known as McRuss on ADV.
I decided to leave Dawson City earlier than he was ready to leave because for once it was clear and sunny and it was important to me to ride on dry roads. So I met up with the other Russ from Seward and his gang of misfits and off we went. We got rained on a bit but nothing to whine about.
Nice shot of Russ coming around a bend. He was always racing ahead of the group to get action shots of the rest of us. I liked that he too stood on the footpegs rather than sit. The Top of the World highway is super easy dirt, nothing to be concerned about. Most riders went 70+mph on it but as a general rule, I stand on the footpegs when on any dirt or gravel....you just never know. Plus it's easier for me to steer with the footpegs.
Not a particularly beautiful photo but one worth showing...the RV's in Alaska are as bad as the mosquitoes.
They are everywhere. They are driven by foreign and domestic alike. And they all have one thing in common....no experience driving these things. So take all your turns as far from the center because most likely there is one of these moving houses on the other side of the turn hogging the center of the road.
We went back to Tok and stayed at Thompson's Eagle where I was a sissy and took a shower at the campground next door for $5. It was much more quiet as most people just pushed on through back to their homes in one day. McRuss arrived about a couple hours after me and said he got dumped on almost the whole way...the rain is so unpredictable in Alaska.
We woke up early the next day and headed to Delta Junction where I noticed that younger women in Alaska really like eye shadow and stopped for breakfast. Sorry no photo of the cute girls with garish eye shadow, you'll have to go to Delta Junction for that.
Hemmed and hawed about whether to get the full or half order of biscuits and gravy. I was burping for hours after this.
We took the Richardson highway 4 South from there and finally saw the pipeline!
My father came to Alaska to work on the pipeline when I was a kid. I vaguely remembered seeing it but I was only 5 at the time.
Then we rode by a frozen lake (Summit Lake) and saw these beautiful avalanche slides.
The boys in Alaska sure do like their guns.
Turned off on the Denali Highway 8 heading West. Met up with other riders at the last gas fuel up where the road turned to gravel. Got the 411 on the road; soft shoulders, stay in the center, some large loose gravel from wash outs. One rider that had just come through got a flat....bet she was riding "dual-sport" tires. *sniker*
Confident on my TKC's, a good night's rest, a reliable riding partner and enough food in my stomach to regurgitate to a hungry cub we set off on our last stretch of dirt. 100 miles of it.
The weather held but it was dry and dusty and we rode a good 2 miles apart just to keep it bearable. I've ridden on dirt with groups enough to know that the perfect speed is between 40-45 to keep the dust down, stay constant and easy on the throttle and for chrissakes don't pass then stop then pass again, then stop again. You make everyone else eat your dust constantly, it's just plain inconsiderate. (you know who you are)
We stopped once, halfway through at the sluice box.
Nice photo of Russ coming up behind me.
So this road was a lot less fun. Russ told me he had the handlebars tank slapping more than once. There were a fair number of patches of fist sized loose gravel in long patches of 100-300 feet at a time. No fun. Thinking back, I'm a bit surprised I didn't take a spill but then I think the formula is 1/3 skill, 1/3 equipment and 1/3 nerve. Sometimes you just have to ride it out and hope for the best.
Made it through and found our hostel/campsite. This was by far the cutest place I'd stayed out in Alaska.
Right by a river.
In the shadow of the Denali. Boots of failed hiking attempts?
Russ got one of these tents. Complete with mosquitoes.
I rented a bunk in the female dorm.
Take your shoes off when inside.
The rock stacking thing is big in Alaska.
And the ice cold stream shrunk my feet back to their normal size.
Walked across the street to a pizza joint that made a darned good pizza.
This marked my furthest point on the whole trip, from here on out it would be going home. I was a bit sad but also felt grateful that I'd made it, had a wonderful time, met many fun and zany people and had nominal challenges.
But there was still some adventure to be had....