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Old 09-17-2012, 07:13 AM   #16
DarkRider
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Oh yeah!!!

Although all those pics would look sooo much better with a bumble-bee GS sitting next to yours.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:47 AM   #17
PersonaNonGrata
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>That night, I sleep in a former bordello on Stewart's main drag. The floors and stairs are creaky hardwood and it's not hard to imagine the antics that took place here decades ago.

Pioneer Hostel - Prince Rupert, BC<

See or experience any "Spirits" in that place?
BTW, Very cool thread, well done!
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:52 AM   #18
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Hey selkins! Thanks the heads-up link to your RR, subscribed, bookmarked, and eagerly awaiting more!

I wound up getting at least a partial shot of you and the beemer in line at the ferry and another waiting to unload... and I say partial because... well, you'll see.

Waiting in the early morning light to board the Northern Expedition:


If I didn't have a huge noggin' and my helmet were smaller, I might have actually gotten a better shot!

Waiting to unload as we approached the dock in Prince Rupert:


Hah! It appears I'm not the only one with a massive brain bucket!

On second thought, you look kinda familiar... maybe from a 90's TV show?


Ok... /hijack off. Carry on with more awesome pics, please!
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Old 09-18-2012, 05:33 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by PersonaNonGrata View Post
>That night, I sleep in a former bordello on Stewart's main drag. The floors and stairs are creaky hardwood and it's not hard to imagine the antics that took place here decades ago.

Pioneer Hostel - Prince Rupert, BC<

See or experience any "Spirits" in that place?
BTW, Very cool thread, well done!
Hey, PersonaNonGrata, thanks for following along. I didn't sense any spirits in Stewart or Prince Rupert, but I'm not very attuned in that way either. One place I did feel a sense of unworldliness was in Dyea, outside Skagway. Probably because the calm and quiet of that place is such a stark contrast to what the scene was a century and more ago, and the bits and pieces of the old town you stumble on are pretty eerie.

If you're in to hunting spirits, I'd say there are a lot of likely spots in old mining towns scattered around the Yukon and Alaska. Go check it out!

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Hey selkins! Thanks the heads-up link to your RR, subscribed, bookmarked, and eagerly awaiting more!
Thanks, Kelly. I like those shots - maybe I should make a theme of being partially obscured! I hope your's and Brandi's later ride went well.
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Old 09-20-2012, 06:53 AM   #20
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August 23 – At a gas station in Tok I chat it up with a Harley rider. Ron is 65-years old, a self-described “bush baby,” born and raised just outside of Tok and now living in Eagle. I’m playing with the idea of visiting the town, which sits well north of Tok on the Yukon River at the end of a 65-mile dead-end dirt road. Ron has other destinations on his mind: “My wife passed away two years ago. We’d been married for 40 years,” and since he’s retired he’s spending much of his time down south. “Last year was the first time I’ve ever been in the Deep South. It felt like home! Everyone owns guns. Hunting is a way of life.” He particularly liked Southerners’ friendly disposition. “It’s like the people get cooler the further north you go.”

Anyway, Alaska is a big state for sure, but it doesn’t feel that way this morning. From Tok I could head southwest and hit Anchorage by mid-afternoon, or I could head northwest and be in Fairbanks even earlier. Instead, I decide to backtrack a short ways on the Alaska Highway and head north, on the Taylor Highway.

The Taylor runs 160 miles from outside Tok, up to the mining-town cum tourist-mecca of Chicken, and then on to Eagle. As far as Chicken the road is paved, and past there it is well-graded gravel as far as Jack Wade Junction, where it meets up with the Top-of-the-World Highway. Early on, the Taylor runs north through rolling, forested hills, the heart of the ranging grounds of the Fortymile Caribou Herd. I keep my eyes peeled for a sighting on the way up to Chicken, but no dice.

Past Chicken, the Taylor jogs east and winds up into higher hills. I pause at Jack Wade Junction (there's no town, just a gravel road intersection). North to Eagle? East to Dawson? I could go either way. I decide it’s nice to leave things to newly explore the next time, and head east.

A few miles after crossing back into the Yukon I see an inuksuk on a nearby hilltop and pull off the road. The fall colors have become vivid at this higher elevation with bright red, yellow, rust and pale green, punctuated with small, pale purple flowers and fluffy, white seed-heads. Brightly colored mosaics of lichen cover much of the exposed stone. A ¼ mile walk to the inuksuk takes ½ an hour as I pause to take in the colors underfoot.

A nice surprise when I walk back down to the bike: four caribou come over a rise less than a hundred yards away across the gravel highway. They see me, back down the hill and work their way up the road, again about a hundred yards away, where they cross over and move on down the slope. They seem relaxed and in no hurry, just wanting to give me enough space, with the biggest occasionally looking my way. I ride a bit further down the road, waiting at a stretch where they’re grading fresh gravel, the flag waver tells me that earlier she had seen forty or so caribou in the distance, silhouetted on a ridgetop.

The Top-of-the-World Highway winds its way around high hilltops with every curve revealing a new panorama stretching far into the distance. I stop frequently, and the 80-mile ride takes almost three hours. Finally, the road drops down to the Yukon River, where a ferry takes me across to Dawson.

I’m seeing a handful of ADV rider types in Dawson, and in the evening share beers with two of them in the Downtown Hotel bar. Sean, RJ and I are all of an age, and we swapped stories of mid-life, divorce, love, career and motorcycle adventures. Sean told stories of growing up in remote, northern BC, in and around Dease Lake. Monthly, two-day grocery shopping commutes to Prince Rupert; days of wide open, outdoor freedom as a young boy; and a morning of bone-shaking cold with windchill of -73 degrees Celsius (-100 F). “My dad left the truck both idling and plugged into the block heater all night. In the morning he drove it across town, and the radiator froze by the time he reached work.”

I settle into a small room in the annex of the Triple J. Hotel rooms are pricey here, and you don’t get much for your money, but I’m planning to ride the Dempster and I’m willing to pay for a good rest.

A southern section of the Taylor Highway



Hilltop inuksuk



Alpine fall colors







Caribou keeping a wary eye on me



Top-of-the-World Highway








August 24

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy – I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it –
Came out with a fortune last fall, -
Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn’t all.

No! There’s the land. (Have you seen it?)
It’s the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
Some say it’s a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there’s some as would trade it
For no land on earth – and I’m one.

- Robert Service, opening stanzas from “The Spell of the Yukon”

I decide to take a rest day in Dawson. There’s an arts school, a healthy cast of local characters, and a perfect, walkable size. Best of all, it’s in the middle of nowhere. People come here by intent, not accident.

In the last three years of the 19th Century tens of thousands of men flooded into the lower reaches of the Klondike River and its tributary streams with the intent of digging up a fortune in gold. More through sheer mass than ill-will, they forced the native Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people to move a few miles downstream from this traditional fishing camp site. Klondike is a bastardization of Tr’ondëk, which means ‘hammerstone,’ a rock used to pound stakes. Dawson was born.

Robert Service came, first to Whitehorse and later to Dawson, well after the rush had died down and he never dug for gold (he was a bank clerk), but he found inspiration in the stories he heard first hand from the miners. The poems he wrote captured something in the spirit of the times, and he became the late-Victorian equivalent of a rock star.

Service lived in a comfortable two-room cabin in Dawson off-and-on over the course of just three years before leaving the town for good in 1912. (Lacking central utilities, who would really want to have to heat something larger through the Yukon winter?) Almost immediately it became a shrine of sorts and remains a well-preserved historic site today. Set in a grassy yard on the east side of town, it feels cozy and tight. It’s easy to visualize Service scribbling away on the front porch on a day like today, or crawling under heavy blankets in the narrow bed with a fire stoked in the cast iron stove as winter closed in outside.

21st Century Dawson is still a mining town. Dozens of families continue small-scale placer mines up and down water-ways, some of them direct descendants of original Klondike migrants. It’s also a town of tourists, with big Holland America buses rolling into town on a daily basis in the summer, disgorging passengers into the ticky-tacky Westmark hotel. Dawson is a town of many others as well – trappers, merchants, Rainbow Family members, artists, and more. It’s a great place to kick back and sample the local flavors.

Robert Service Cabin



Dawson Buildings







A popular sign in Dawson



Downtown Hotel and Dawson with Moosehide Slide dominating the background



Looking south from Midnight Dome over Dawson



Padded backrest courtesy of Yarn Bomb Yukon



Tok to Dawson

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Mid-America -- Ozarks (Darkrider) -- Lake Superior Circle Tour -- NW US -- Labrador -- Big Bend (Darkrider) -- Yukon/Dempster Hwy -- WTX/NNM/SCO
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Old 09-20-2012, 09:20 AM   #21
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Old 09-20-2012, 10:06 AM   #22
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Thanks for the time and work to share your journey. Hope someday I can get up to that area. As per battery on my '02 1150, the abs light would come on when starting was the first sign of the battery going out. Dealer in Baton Rouge replaced it under warranty way back in '03 I think. One of the most comfortable bikes I've traveled on.
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Old 09-20-2012, 02:12 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by DarkRider View Post
What he said...
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Old 09-20-2012, 05:02 PM   #24
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Thanks for the time and work to share your journey. Hope someday I can get up to that area. As per battery on my '02 1150, the abs light would come on when starting was the first sign of the battery going out. Dealer in Baton Rouge replaced it under warranty way back in '03 I think. One of the most comfortable bikes I've traveled on.
Yeah, the bum battery was an aftermarket that I had dropped in just a few months prior. I was just happy that it failed three miles from the dealer. About the most convenient location possible on this trip.


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Originally Posted by THX_337 View Post
What he said...
Thanks THX_337, it's always nice to hear from happy readers!

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Originally Posted by DarkRider View Post
Thanks, bud. BTW, what ever happened to your RR? Inquiring minds want to know.
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“How do I stay so healthy and boyishly handsome? It's simple. I drink the blood of young runaways.” - Shatner

Mid-America -- Ozarks (Darkrider) -- Lake Superior Circle Tour -- NW US -- Labrador -- Big Bend (Darkrider) -- Yukon/Dempster Hwy -- WTX/NNM/SCO
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Old 09-20-2012, 05:23 PM   #25
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Thanks, bud. BTW, what ever happened to your RR? Inquiring minds want to know. [/QUOTE]

One of these days, I'll get motivated and finish it off. I'm just so stinkin' jealous of your photo quality, I'm concerned no one will read mine...guess I could add lots of cross-posts at a later date...just sayin...
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Old 09-20-2012, 06:29 PM   #26
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One of these days, I'll get motivated and finish it off. I'm just so stinkin' jealous of your photo quality, I'm concerned no one will read mine...guess I could add lots of cross-posts at a later date...just sayin...
Sooo, you're rethinking your smartphone-as-superior-to-DSLR perspective?
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“How do I stay so healthy and boyishly handsome? It's simple. I drink the blood of young runaways.” - Shatner

Mid-America -- Ozarks (Darkrider) -- Lake Superior Circle Tour -- NW US -- Labrador -- Big Bend (Darkrider) -- Yukon/Dempster Hwy -- WTX/NNM/SCO
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Old 09-20-2012, 06:48 PM   #27
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Sooo, you're rethinking your smartphone-as-superior-to-DSLR perspective?
It was never about smartphone vs DSLR...it was about crappy point-n-shoot vs smartphone. You've proven quite thoroughly that the sensor size on DSLR is so much larger than PNS that to settle for a PNS is worthless vs a smartphone. That said, if choosing between random "photos of the moment" on a really good smartphone (like mine or the next iteration about to come out that I'll hopefully own) vs a PNS, I'll take the risk and keep the DSLR holstered and the smartphone for random photos that make RRs more special...like mine...so there bastage...

Now get back to the fookin' ride report do0d...
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Old 09-22-2012, 08:34 AM   #28
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Interlude

The Yukon

The Yukon is really big and incredibly wild. Emphasis here: It is difficult for a person from the middle latitudes to accept with credibility just how wild the Yukon is. For perspective: The Yukon Territory (pop. 34,000) is pretty much the physical size of Colorado and Utah combined (pop. ~ 8 million), or Germany + Switzerland + Austria (pop. ~98 million). About 70% of Yukon’s population resides in one town, Whitehorse.

In the lower 48 we think of Colorado and Utah as sparsely populated western states. Their shared population density is 235 times greater than the Yukon. Outside of the “metropolitan” areas (Denver region, Salt Lake City region and Whitehorse), the population density of the two states rises to 500 times that of the Yukon.

Alaskans like to think of their state as wild. It’s certainly big – more than three times the size of the Yukon. But it’s also relatively crowded, with eight times as many people per square mile. (Not a terribly illustrative measure, since for both Alaska and the Yukon we’re talking tiny pieces of a person per square mile.)

So, again – really big, incredibly wild.

For you East Coast Americans out there, you can think of the Alaska Highway as the I-95 corridor of the Yukon. It’s difficult to get a sense of its wildness if you just travel that route. So, I’ve decided to get as remote as I can on a big R1200GS. I’m heading up the Dempster Highway.

The Yukon



The Dempster

A few facts about the Dempster before turning back to the trip. Its southern terminus lies 25 miles east of Dawson, on the banks of the Klondike River. It covers 457 miles, mostly north, to Inuvik, which lies on the east side of the expansive Mackenzie River delta in the Northwest Territories (which, it should be said, puts the wildness of the Yukon to shame). Excepting a few miles on each end, the entire road is unpaved. Coming from the south, it’s 229 miles to your first fuel stop and overnight shelter at Eagle Plains. Twenty-two miles further north you cross the Arctic Circle, and about 50 miles after that, the Northwest Territories border. Past that and before reaching Inuvik, you pass two small First Nations villages, Fort McPherson and Tsiigehtchic, near the banks of the Peel and Mackenzie Rivers, respectively.

The Dempster passes through two major mountain ranges, the Ogilve and Richardson (the Richardson Mountains are considered the furthermost northern end of the Rocky Mountain spine). It crosses two major rivers, the Peel and the Mackenzie, by means of public ferries in the summer and ice roads in the winter. About two months a year the Dempster is closed to through traffic as the ice forms and breaks up on the two rivers. The Dempster also passes through the wintering range of the famous Porcupine Caribou Herd, whose annual migration to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge draws comparisons to the legendary migrations in Africa’s Serengeti. A big chunk of land along the middle part of the Dempster was, surprisingly, unglaciated in the most recent Ice Age, due to low precipitation.

The plan to construct the Dempster was unveiled in 1958. Prior to that time, cargo and supplies were transported to the far north by means of “Cat trains,” strings of sledded cargo hauled hundreds of miles through the wilderness by tractors (get it? ‘Cats’ = Caterpillar tractors) in the winter months. Highway construction stalled in 1961 with only 71 miles of road completed. Arctic oil and gas discoveries eventually prompted a restart of construction and the road was formally opened in 1979.

A defining feature of the Dempster is its elevated construction. It is overbuilt on top of massive quantities of stone and gravel in order to keep the heat generated by road traffic from melting the underlying permafrost.

To this day, the Dempster is the only public roadway that crosses over the Arctic Circle in North America. The Dawson Highway, leading to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, is a privately owned and constructed road.

The Dempster Highway

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Mid-America -- Ozarks (Darkrider) -- Lake Superior Circle Tour -- NW US -- Labrador -- Big Bend (Darkrider) -- Yukon/Dempster Hwy -- WTX/NNM/SCO

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Old 09-23-2012, 08:07 AM   #29
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What would Shatner do?

August 25 – I woke up to thick clouds and an overnight rain that was just breaking. After a hot breakfast in town, I rode the 25 miles out to the Klondike River Lodge at the base of the Dempster. The overnight rain had been light above the river valley, leaving the Dempster dust free but firm.

The scenery picks up quickly as the highway heads up into the Ogilvie Mountains, and after fifty kilometers or so enters Tombstone Territorial Park. Close to kilometer 60 I pull off the road into a small parking area with a few cars and trucks, and head up the Grizzly Lake Trail.

The trail goes deep into the park, but my aim was a viewpoint about two miles in. After a mile of forests and muddy single track the trail hit steep grades and gained about 1,500 feet in elevation. By the time I reached the overlook I was winded and hot, but the view was everything I had hoped for. I hit the small window of alpine fall color, and clouds swept by with splashes of sun brightening up the orange, red, gold and green around me. I could see the Dempster down below to the east, dwarfed by the landscape, and to the west a long valley, ending in the jagged gray peaks of Mount Monolith.

I probably turned to leave three or four times. Each time I turned back and reveled in the view for a few more minutes. I had visualized being here for months, and now it was real, present and fantastic. A peak moment. After close to an hour alone enjoying the view, I spied a small group of hikers coming up from below and started my way down.

At the beginning of the ride report I mentioned that movie I saw many years ago. Honestly, that memory hadn’t come to mind for several years prior to this trip. But there is a high point on this lower stretch of the Dempster, somewhere between the northern boundary of Tombstone and Eagle Plains, where an overlook gives you a view of the upper reaches of the Peel River, bending from south to east with the Ogilvie Mountains beyond. As I stood there taking it in, the sun peeked through some clouds and a bright bit of rainbow arced down to the flats below me. I saw that and the image from the movie came immediately to mind and I thought, “I’m there.” I found a place that captured that same sense of wonder and beauty that sparked my imagination more than thirty years ago.

By the time I reached Eagle Plains it had been a long day. The ride itself was probably no more than five and a half hours, but it had taken me twice that time to cover the distance. As I was unloading the bike, Angus rides up on his 1150GS. He’s come from Inuvik and we’re both keen to talk, but it’s close to 8pm, when the kitchen closes, and he needs to eat. We make a plan to meet up in the bar later.

The Eagle Plains bar is a treat. The walls are festooned with the largest, most diverse sampling of taxidermy I’ve ever seen: two huge moose heads; wolf, bear, and muskox among the many furs; a complete, stuffed caribou; and much more. The place is large and well lit, with spaced tables, easy chairs, and a pool table. The bar is decently stocked. The people all seem friendly and approachable. Big picture windows look out over the wilderness to the west as the sun slowly arcs around the horizon. The overall impression is exactly what I would hope: a sense that you’re in a warm, inviting space at the edge of the world.

Angus is a native of Aberdeen, now living in Houston. He’s a big, gregarious guy with great stories to tell. He works in international sales for an energy-related company. Divorced a few years ago, he has paid the toll for a life lived on the road – 250 days a year by his estimate. “I used to always wish I were somewhere else. When I was in Florida with my girlfriend, or in Shanghai with a prostitute, I wished I was back home with my wife and kids. When I was home, I wished I was in those other places.” Now he’s seeking to bring better balance to his life, and to make choices that he feels good about. As he put it, “I’m learning to fully embrace the American weekend.” This trip is a part of that change. “I’ve been riding most my life, but this ‘adventure riding’ thing is new to me. But when some of the people I know at work suggested it, I thought it sounded like fun and said ‘Sure!’”

From their larger group, only Angus and one other rider decided to attempt the Dempster, and 65 miles heading south out of Inuvik his partner lost control and went down. Broken bike and broken ribs meant that after a tow back to town, his partner had to fly out. You can see all of Angus’s and his friends’ adventures here.

The rooms at Eagle Plains aren’t cheap or fancy, but they’re comfortable and clean, and after a full day it’s easy to fall asleep.

Starting up the Dempster



Looking to the East from Monolith Overlook in Tombstone



Looking to the West, Mount Monolith in the distance



More from Tombstone Territorial Park





Tombstone Visitor Center



Peel River Overlook



Eagle Plains



Angus - Cribbed from his riding buddy's blog



August 26 – From Eagle Plains you continue to pass through dramatic scenery of hills and mountains up until you cross the Peel River. From then on through Inuvik, the landscape flattens into low taiga. If you’ve traveled the Trans-Labrador Highway it will look very familiar – long, straight stretches of road, scattered small lakes, and mile after mile of stunted, black spruce bogs.

Also in these flatlands are the First Nations villages of Fort McPherson and Tsiigehtchic. Shortly after crossing the Peel River ferry I stop at the visitor center of a small park. The guy at the front desk is a native elder, he asks me if I’ve seen any caribou. “No,” I say. “Just a few with the Fortymile Herd back near Dawson, none with the Porcupine Herd.” I asked when they migrated through here.

“I don’t know,” he says with a frustrated shake of his head. “I used to know, but it’s all messed up now. They used to come through in September, but this year July! The whole world is screwed up. All of it. We may not know it, but the animals do. They tell us.”

“Is the herd healthy?”

“Yes. But the muskox up at Sachs Harbour are dying! Who knows what will happen next.”

A short way further down the road I fill up with gas in Fort McPherson. A local G’wichin man is filling up his truck next to me. “Where you from?” He asks.

“Minnesota.”

“What you pay for gas down there?”

“About $1 a liter,” I reply.

“See? We pay $1.65! You people should stop whining,” he tells me. “I read about your whining in the papers, but you got it easy!”

We chat a bit more and he finally says, “I’m going to my camp. Fishing.”

I ask: “Is the fishing good?”

“Yeah! Arctic char. Best fish in the world. You like it?”

“Yes, I like arctic char. I also like salmon. You?”

He wrinkles his nose. “Salmon? No, too greasy. Too much fat.”

I roll into Inuvik and after a few passes through town set up my tent at the campground in town, overlooking the Mackenzie delta. It’s Sunday and most of the shops are closed as I walk back through town in the early evening. There are boys playing baseball, skateboarders trying new tricks, and I get to see landmarks like the igloo church and community greenhouse. At the edge of town is a 3-hole golf course. Kids from nearby come into the campground to play and ride bikes.

That night, 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the sun just keeps creeping northward along the western horizon. It sets around 11pm, but I wake up briefly around 2am and the sky is still light. The forecast for the next two days is rain.



Foothills of the Richardson Mountains



The long flats between the Peel River and Inuvik





Inuvik's "Igloo Church"



Campsite overlooking the Mackenzie delta



Dawson to Inuvik

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“How do I stay so healthy and boyishly handsome? It's simple. I drink the blood of young runaways.” - Shatner

Mid-America -- Ozarks (Darkrider) -- Lake Superior Circle Tour -- NW US -- Labrador -- Big Bend (Darkrider) -- Yukon/Dempster Hwy -- WTX/NNM/SCO

selkins screwed with this post 09-28-2012 at 06:35 AM
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Old 09-23-2012, 06:45 PM   #30
Oldone
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Great photos........

Little did I know when I put this in my bookmarks and went back later just how interesting this would be with such great photos! Thank you for taking the time for our enjoyment. This is really great!

Gary "Oldone"

Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Ride
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