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Old 06-22-2008, 09:31 PM   #1
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D2D, Dust 2 Dawson '08, Solstice In The Yukon

Yeppers, that time of year again! Solstice in the North country.

This was my second D2D and I was looking forward to it with great anticipation.

How 'bout we start off with a photo of this year's tee? Awesome totemic design by ADV'r ArcticFlyer. Notice the "DIID" at the top and the opposed Beemer cylinders on the sides. I hope you can read the words around the outer perimeter as they most aptly describe the "flavor" of this far north gathering (it AIN'T no rally!). They were penned by the most lyric of advr's, the great 'legion'.

Parting shot outside the house Wed morning. Like me, I think a few more D2D'ers were leaving a day earlier to spend the night in Tok before heading into Dawson. No, Comet didn't go. I think he probably enjoyed hangin with the folks more than hangin on for dear life for more than a thousand miles. And yeah, I do tend to travel kinda light.

Met up with ADV'r Beezer, aka Tom, before heading up to Wasilla to hook up with ADV'r Wheeldog, aka Roger. Tom is a big player in all our tech days up here. He's also an Airframe & Power plant instructor and that's his homebuilt airboat in the background. Yeah, he tends to travel a bit "heavier" with tools to lend anyone a hand.

So after picking up Roger we head north on the Glenn Hwy.

Right into the construction about 100mi north of Anchorage. For those of you traveling the Glenn, be forewarned, it's closed between midnight and 6am Mon-Fri. And remeber, motorcyclists are encouraged to go to the front of the line.

It's good to be at the front. You may notice Wheeldog, like Beezer, likes to travel a bit "heavy."

More and more straightening going on. What's left of some of my favorite 'ol sportbike twisties paralleling the Matanuska River.

Lion's Head on the left and Matanuska Glacier in the distance on the right.

A bit farther north lies Sheep Mtn. I've always loved the colors in these rocks.

"Rest Area." I like to remind visitors to the North that there are many dirt roads leading to areas like this or gravel pits that make nice secluded places to camp. This is just north of Gakona on the Tok cut-off of the Glenn Hwy. That's the Copper River on the other side of us.

We caught up with a group of Goldwing riders who were headed to a big rally in Whitehorse.

Some of them were towing a trailer and really slowed down for the gravel patches in the road. Being the silly dual-sport riders we are we couldn't have any of that and passed them in pretty short order.

Then, low and behold, WE were caught by a couple of my REI Co-op workmates, ADV'r BlueRider, aka Dan, on his wee-Strom and my new next door neighbor John on his 1150GS. After this weekend I'm pretty sure John will probably be joining Advrider.

I hadn't made any definite plans on where I was going to stay in either Tok OR Dawson. I thought I'd probably go ahead and just camp so as to be able to do even MORE socializing.

Many of us ended up in the relatively new Thompson's Eagle's Claw "motorcycle only" campground a mile south of Tok. GREAT place!

Last year only a few people stayed at the Eagle's Claw. THIS year the place ended up being totally packed with tents overflowing into the soft moss surrounding prepared the gravel pads. The place is owned by an older Harley couple who were so excited to have so many riders staying there that they let all us late comers stay for free! Not that it was that much anyway at only $10 a night per site which can normally be shared by two. Many of us donated $ anyway. Riders kept trickling in till the wee (but still light) hours of the morning. I think the last of the crowd around the campfire finally hit the hay shortly after 3am or so.

There isn't any running water but plenty of supplied good tasting potable well-water. The owners have their own mill and are building bunkhouses, sheds, tipi's, and the like, which makes for PLENTY of free firewood! There's also a free group sauna/steam they built. I imagine the gathering here of D2D riders will become part of the annual highly anticipated good times! Great place, great people:

I'm glad I woke up at around 6am to answer "nature's call" so I could get this shot of all the bikes lining the driveway. Awesome.

More soon, Mark H.

AKDuc screwed with this post 07-06-2008 at 01:58 PM
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Old 06-22-2008, 10:52 PM   #2
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Looks like a helluva good time, Mark.

Keep the pics coming.

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Old 06-23-2008, 12:35 AM   #3
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The Next Day

Alrighty then, after a wonderful night in the Eagle's Claw Campground I was looking forward to more good food at Fast Eddy's!

Joining me for a late breakfast were ADV'rs Pastieman (Brian), Whitney, and Jim Spies all from Anchorage. Jim and Whitney are on their way down to NY and points farther south after Dawson before heading back up.

Since it's only about 170mi between Tok and Dawson, albeit a lot of it dirt, we could afford a very leisurely breakfast.

Between Tok and Dawson lies the little community of Chicken, AK. Supposedly named Chicken because back in the day someone thought it too much trouble to spell Ptarmigan, our State bird. No photos of this stretch because it was intermittent showers complete with a little hail mixed in up in the higher elevations. Got a few nice photos of the area on the return trip tho so read on.

Waiting for some of the better known LONGTIME Alaskan D2D'ers was none other than Dick Van Nostrand, the owner of the Dawson Downtown Hotel. He had come over the Border the night before just to tend bar for a fun filled night in Chicken. He's holding up one of those finger mounted squeegies for added visibility when riding thru the dampness surrounding us. FYI Chicken is the last U.S. gas stop and this "slightly less fanciful" establishment charges 40 cents less per gallon than the much newer place down the hill. Tho truth be told tho, the lower one does have some very nice amenities and such, IF one desires or is in need of such pleasantries.

Now what's that warning sign about? "BEWARE OF ATTACK CHICKEN?!?"

Heading out of Chicken begins the more serious dirt. It was on this stretch that I caught up with my good bud and ADV'r Jim and his 10yo son Mason. It was Mason's first trip ever to Dawson. Jim on the other hand did D2D last year and has been on many of the snowmachine rides/tours between Tok and Dawson in the winter.

Jim is the ADV'r with whom I got reacquainted with last year after 20+yrs when he joined Advrider and pm'd me saying he was buying a GS Adventurer. Here's the ride report on our reacquainting and first ride together last year:

I've heard of some pillions having trouble staying awake on longer trips like this one but Jim told me how MUCH Mason really was enjoying the trip and kept up quite the commentary thru their in-helmet communications.

Jim also made mention numerous times about how glad he was that he'd put a pair of TKC 80's on for this trip. Yep, pretty much the tire of choice up here for those traveling many dirt roads especially if it gets muddy. I'm sure the added traction really helped make for a much more relaxed trip for Jim, especially hauling such valuable cargo.

Here they are in the even smaller Boundary just a few miles before the Border.

Notice how isolated the showers were in the background.

Three amigos on the Top Of The World Highway.

This year's Top of the World pose.

Down to the Border we go. Hope we get through.

Next: Dawson. Mark H.

AKDuc screwed with this post 06-23-2008 at 01:12 AM
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Old 06-23-2008, 05:20 AM   #4
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Old 06-23-2008, 01:42 PM   #5
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YAY, just look at that blue sky! The weather improved greatly as we came down out of the mountains. You can just see Dawson down below along side the mighty Yukon River.

Since I'd hooked up with Jim and enjoy his company so much, I took him up on an offer to share their room in the Downtown Hotel again this year. So there we were, back on Main Street again. Mingling with the masses.

See the gal in the red seeming to be demonstrating her prowess at one legged balance? That's Voni, up from Texas. She's the holder of MANY BMW mileage awards over the years. I was very glad to meet Voni because we're both over on as well. The June issue of 'Rider' magazine even has a wonderful article written by one of the founders of the 'rounders site. And much to my glee, the article contains 4 photos of me riding my KLR with studded tires around our lovely winter wonderland in the "Great White North!" So if you'd like to see even MORE photos of my little KLR, but this time surrounded by pristine but kinda cold white stuff, take a look at this thread:

Had to get a photo of me and Voni! She probably hugged more people than anyone else there that weekend! Voni and her husband Paul had already been touring AK and were now making their way back south.

I really shoulda carried a notebook around with me and taken a photo of every ADV'r I met on this trip! There were many! Over 150 riders this year. Pretty cool. Of course I think it's nice to meet people but I got really excited whenever I met someone with and ADV "handle" I recognized and maybe even posted in one of their threads!

Of course getting together at eating establishments is also a fun activity at these functions and there are a lot of good places to "grub up" around Dawson. One of our favorites is Klondike Kate's. It was at Kate's last year that Jim and I had the first of many pieces of their Bumble Berry Pie. Both of us exclaiming "best pie we'd ever had." Dang it, now I'm hungry again just talking about it!

Here we are sitting around sharing that delectable delight with ADV'rs curty aka Curtis, from Atlanta, GA on the right in the foreground next to Mason and Jim with fellow ADV'r and Anchorage'ite Reverend Don Deitz behind me.

I met Curtis when started a thread in the Alaska forum titled 'May Need A Place To Stay'. Eric, also of Atlanta, one of Curtis' 5 other travel mates had crashed on the way into AK. Luckily Eric was unhurt but they had to wait a few days for parts to arrive. I enjoyed putting them up and showing them around the Anchorage area for a few days. Curtis used to work for REI and Eric still does. I mention this because including the 3 of us from the Anchorage store, it makes for a total of at least 5 REI employees attending this motorcycle function. Not bad for such a supposed "green" bunch, eh?

Coming up: Bike Games in downtown Dawson. Fun, fun, fun, Mark H.

AKDuc screwed with this post 06-25-2008 at 06:33 PM
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Old 06-23-2008, 05:12 PM   #6
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I love your reports, Mark ! Keep 'em coming... PLEASE !

Originally Posted by AKDuc
I hope you can read the words around the outer perimeter that most aptly describe the "flavor" of this far north ADV function (it AIN'T no rally!). They were penned by the most lyric of advr's, the great 'legion'.
Oh, man. Thank you, Sir

After a comment like that I'm going to have to buy a new hat.
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Old 06-24-2008, 05:26 PM   #7
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Those aren't Beemer heads on the logo...they are Ural heads...!
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