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Old 03-03-2010, 06:59 PM   #1
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My 2009 AK ADV, Naco Mexico to Fairbanks and a bit beyond

It all started sometime around August of 2008; I don't even know what brought the idea to ride to Alaska into my brain, one day it just sounded like a good idea. I made my way over to ADVrider and checked out a few Alaska ride reports and they all looked like everyone was having a good time so why couldn't I expect to have similar wonderful experiences? Karen and I headed up to Tucson and came up with a few maps, travel books and the current issue of the Milepost and we were pretty much set. I set my main route by seeing what looked like the most fun in some ride reports and it gradually came together. The plan was to keep it less than 500 miles a day, camp as much as possible and just have an epic trip.
While planning the trip I realized that I would have to go somewhere fairly close to my buddy Chapa's house in Idaho. I emailed him to let him know what I was doing and that I'd appreciate being able to stop overnight at his house and get a good meal before heading to the Great White North. A couple of days later another guy at work, Houston, comes up and says, “so I hear we're riding to Alaska!”
Excuse me? I didn't realize my one-man adventure was going to be open to guests!
Gradually the plan came together, the day got closer, and Chapa decided he couldn't go. Cool except that Houston took that as a sign that his girlfriend DD should go in Chapa's place.
Finally the day came! Well actually the day before I was to leave came. The plan was to take the trip through three countries, living literally less than 10 miles made this a natural. Originally on the first day of the trip I was going to shoot down to Naco, then head back north to wherever I was planning on spending the night. Karen suggested we head down to Naco the night before so that I could get that part of the trip out of the way without having the bike completely loaded down, in addition it would give her a chance to join me on the first leg of the journey.
Day -1 of the great 2009 Alaska Adventure saw the two of us on the Strom heading down to Naco and get a couple of pictures.

So here's the route map for the first leg of the journey. It's not much to look at and it was only 10 miles in distance, well we had to go back home as well so I guess it was really 20 miles...
We messed around the border for about 20 minutes and took a few pictures to commemorate the beginning of the journey!

We made it home in plenty of time for me to get mostly packed up and ready for the next step in the morning.
I got up the next morning and realized that I had way more stuff than I had space to put it in. I tried to be honest with myself regarding the amount of clothing I was going to need and finally put that dress shirt back in the closet. I figured that as I consumed the food that was in my luggage I'd get more space anyway so the tight quarters would only last a couple of days.

After a bit of trial and error I finally got everything packed mostly where I wanted it. I even managed to squeeze on the camp chair so I'd have a comfy place to set my behind after a long day in the saddle. Notice the impressive size of the tank bag, it would come back to make itself known before the trip was over.

Yes, here I am finally ready to go. It's already getting hot out and I'm wondering what I was thinking with these heavy riding pants and jacket on. As I stand here Karen asks me how far I have to go today, of course I tell her that I'd specifically planned for the first day to be a relatively short 400 miles.

I then pull out my Day 1 route map and show her where I heading out to, Jacob Lake which just happens to be 520 miles away. I quickly realize that it's actually 9:00 and I have to ride 120 miles more than I'd thought and I'd better get on the road!

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Old 03-03-2010, 07:20 PM   #2
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So I'm off and running, so to speak, but I feel I'm way behind where I need to be by this time and I'm not even out of town yet.

Of course no matter how late I'm running it's a sort of tradition to stop at the top of the Divide and get a picture, c'mon it only takes a minute.

The first half of the day is just bebopping along through places I've ridden and driven a hundred times. It's not really all that interesting to me but then many people haven't been out here and seen any of it yet, so I took a few pictures.

It was hot coming through here, I tend to forget that as you get into Tucson and then further North to Phoenix you get warmer; what sort of screwy state is this? It's sort of topsy turvy!

Things were going well, I went through my mental checklist after a couple hundred miles on the road; not too tired, check! Bike running well, check! Butt not hurting (too) bad, check! How can it get any better than this?

Stupid self shouldn't get too uppity on the first half of the first day of such a journey. As I came through Flagstaff I noticed the skies getting darker. As the road turned the storm went into and out of my route, would my luck hold out?

About 20 miles past Flagstaff it started to sprinkle and the wind began to pick up, oh and I was running out of gas. I needed to stop for gas but the wind was getting so strong that I was afraid I would fall over if I stopped. Finally I had no choice and stopped.

As soon as I got back on the road I realized the storm was getting worse. The wind was coming straight at my left side and I had to lean into the wind, every time a car came by the other direction it would interrupt the wind flow and I would veer into oncoming traffic until I could regain control. The rain started coming down and I decided to pull over and put my rain cover on over my jacket. As I slowed and started to turn onto a side street I realized that the wind had blown my huge tankbag over against my right arm, when I tried to turn the bars they locked up against the bag. The next thing I know I'm rolling along the street and the bike is taking a nap. I pick myself up and take stock of my condition; other than my pride nothing seems to be hurt, now how am I going to pick this big beast up?
I start unloading all the gear that had taken me half the morning to pack. Traffic continued by as if nothing was going on (move along, nothing to see here!) and I was still wondering how on earth I was going to pick the bike up. Just as I got the last bit of externally packed gear over into a pile a good Samaritan pulled a U-turn and stopped to help me pick up the bike. Thank you sir! Even if I have now forgotten your name you deeds will live on. Looking over the bike I found I was the victim mostly of scratches and scrapes. As my adrenaline tapered off I considered whether this journey was really the best idea I'd ever come up with; after all this was the first day while I was still fresh and I was on a fairly nice paved road!
Of course I got the bike packed back up, put on my rain cover and headed back out. I rode in that same scary wind for another hour before the weather began to break. After the weather cleared up I got to ride for about 20 minutes with nice clear skies until it got cloudy again.

I could see the storms ahead of me but kept hoping that the road would take me away from them. Alas it was not to be and although the wind never picked up the rain was harder than ever.

As I turned onto Hwy 89A the skies began to clear. This is just a beautiful part of the country! I only wish that the sky would've been a little clearer to make better pictures.

The sun finally began to come out and the road began to dry. Wonderful time for it to happen as I really hate setting up camp and cooking in the rain, although at this time I don't really know that yet.

I rolled into Jacob Lake USFS campground with plenty of daylight to spare and prepared to luxuriate in the new bath houses I'd been told had just been installed. Well evidently in this part of the world a pit toilet is considered a bath house. No shower tonight.

I set up camp and had some dinner (stovetop with some canned chicken breast). I learned that I really need to put a little extra water in with the stuffing as it was soaked up immediately and the stuffing had the consistency of hard little chunks of iron. At least it was warm. I walked over to the gas station because I felt I could really use a beer at this point only to find that they only sold gas, can you imagine?

I came back to camp and set about assessing the damage to the motorcycle from my previous tumble; would I need to have Chapa order me up some parts?

At first glance the damage didn't look bad at all!

As I looked a little further I found that the upper fairing had been scraped up pretty well...

My saddlebag got scraped up, but probably saved a good bit of damage to other parts of the bike.

My highway peg took a good bit of the weight of the bike from the fall. This peg should stick out at a 90 degree angle from it's mounting point, I'd give it a good 45 degrees right now. Oddly enough I found that this new position was MUCH more comfortable for me. I began thinking about falling on the other side to bend that peg to a similar angle.

As the sun went down I realized that my solar flashlight didn't work so I went to bed. At least as the trip would wear on I knew that nighttime would be less of a factor.

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Old 03-03-2010, 07:36 PM   #3
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I awoke Thursday morning bright and early and decided to have a little breakfast; not much, just a cup of cocoa and an oatmeal bar. I slept really poorly last night and was cold for most of it. When I decided to get up it was 6:45 with temps in the mid 40's, but it was a beautiful morning. There's something about starting the day with a warm meal that gets you off on the right foot. I'd planned on getting everything packed up and on the road by 8:00, it didn't work out all that well for me but I managed to be gone by 9; I'll do better tomorrow.

Today I'm heading up to Willard Bay State Park, fairly close to the Great Salt Lake in Utah. This is a state I've never ridden in before so that's always exciting. In addition at the end of the night I'll get to put another state sticker on the bike as I'm entering my first real geographical change! This is more the mileage I was thinking about yesterday, 400 miles isn't too bad but I'll lose an hour.

The road wound through some higher wooded areas for the first bit of the morning. It was nice and twisty and the air had a bit of a bite to it.

Soon enough I got back down into the lower elevations and crossed a fairly wide plain. It was getting warmer rapidly and I made an excuse to stop in town and call Karen as soon as I got a cell signal.

It's funny, you really don't expect the landscape to change just because you enter a different state but that's the way it seemed when I entered Utah. The redness of the rock dissipated and more of the white/tan colors came out; a very pretty state, just different than what I was used to.

Just before I shot this picture, I stopped for gas. As luck would have it I almost repeated my tumble from the day before as I turned into the gas station and the tank bag locked me up; I managed to save it and I don't think I lost too many cool points along the way. Other motorcyclists have begun to notice that I'm loaded down and appear to be on some sort of camping trip. While at the gas station a group of guys on Victory's came riding in with a bit of luggage. One of the guys came up an asked where I was headed; when I told him Alaska he almost fell down. He said they were on their way to Jackson Hole for a Victory rally and were feeling pretty tough because their trip was going to last 5 days. Amateurs.

I wasn't quite so uppity 30 minutes later when I realized I had totally missed my turn-off and had to backtrack 20 miles, during which time I passed the Victory guys coming the other way. As I got on the right road the clouds began to look threatening. I decided that today I would pull over sooner to get my raingear on if it in fact began raining. Sure enough the rain started to come down. I began to realize that this rain was different than what I'd experienced yesterday; then it hit me, it's hail! It kept on raining sporadically for the next couple of hundred miles so I kept my rain gear on.

I stopped at a gas station up a ways to have my usual lunch of beef jerky and nalgene water when I noticed the view. Why can't we all have this outside our living room windows?

Utah was pretty good to me but it really did start to get a little warm in the afternoon. Of course it never helps when you hit Salt Lake City in the middle of rush hour. I really wish they'd standardize the car pool lanes so all states are the same. I used it but I'm pretty sure I used it in a manner that's not approved by the State of Utah.
I began to get close to Willard Bay and the excitement of stopping began to creep in. My directions told me that I should get off on exit 360 and I started counting down, exit 357...exit 362? What's going on? I pulled into a gas station and called the park for directions; sure enough exit 360 is correct, I must have just missed it. I get back on the highway the other direction and sure enough, there's no exit 360. Luckily just as my last straw was breaking I see a sign for Willard Bay at exit 357.

I pull into the campground, find my site and set up camp under a huge cottonwood tree. The sky has cleared up and it's a beautiful night! I cook myself a little Chili Mac then go have a look around. I'm right on the bay and the scenery is not to be believed. I check out the bathrooms and find they leave a bit to be desired but I guess I've used worse, or at least I'm sure I will at some point on this trip. At least there're showers.

Right next to my campsite I came upon this little rabbit. He was black! He really didn't look like a wild rabbit, more like someones pet. I wonder if he's heading back to his people on the other side of the bushes.

As the sun sets on the mountains it really lights them up...

Some guys are still out on the Bay trying their luck.

I walked around a bit more, got lost in the campground (how on earth do you do that?) and made it back to the campsite before it was full dark. Haven't given the flashlight another chance, just decided to go to bed while I could still see.

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Old 03-04-2010, 12:47 AM   #4
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great start..... Keep it coming.
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Old 03-04-2010, 03:40 AM   #5
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Looks good!!

Got lost in the campground? Well, don't go to the KOA near Mt. Rushmore! I spent half an hour looking for my tent and bike!

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Old 03-04-2010, 07:37 AM   #6
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I'd rather die living than live dying.

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Old 03-04-2010, 11:02 AM   #7
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Tank Bag Down

Yammy, Yammy, Yammy, man, give us some more of that downward move!! Good stuff.

Roads impede my adventure, so why have them!!
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Old 03-04-2010, 04:17 PM   #8
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Heading up into Montana today. Woke up this morning to find that the outside of my tent was covered with earwigs; it must've been being that close to the water. Kind of gross but I brushed them off and packed up. Sometime during the night it hit me, wouldn't it be a better idea to NOT situate your campground next to a main highway? In addition to the droning of traffic all night a freight train came through sometime while it was still dark. To top if all off I came to the realization that I was in one of the worst smelling places I've ever visited; a quick shower proved that I wasn't just smelling myself.

A bit of a longer day today at 458 miles but still not that bad. Turns out it's a beautiful day, at least the skies are clear which is something new on this trip.

Even with the sky being clear and sunny the temperature really hadn't warmed up that much, I was still looking at mid 50's and low 60's for at least the first few hours. Even though I was heading to Montana tonight I forgot that I had to enter Idaho to do it, 2 states in 1 day!

The scenery didn't change much throughout the day and I just kept on plugging away. Around noontime I stopped for gas, it was lunchtime and there was a restaurant attached to the gas station that advertised home cooking so I decided to forgo my usual lunch of beef jerky and have something at the “Cowboy Up Cafe”. I carefully backed into a spot in the mostly empty lot so that I'd be able to get out easily. As I get situated some kid on a new Sportster pulls in right next to me; he must have left me about two feet of space. I just kind of looked at him; any fool could see that I need at least three feet to get off this overloaded pig. He just walks into the cafe; I managed to extricate myself without pulling anything but I think we were both lucky I didn't fall on his Sportie.
After a lunch consisting of a fair burger and really poor fries I got back on the road; should've stuck with the jerky. A couple of miles down the road my GPS gave me the a message that I'd lost power to it; no problem, I just pushed on the plug to reseat it into the receptacle. Too bad it didn't help. I pulled over and a few minutes later decided it was the fuse in the plug that had blown; I put in a new fuse but still no love. At least I have batteries I can use.

I didn't know this before I left for this trip but evidently I have an unreasonable fascination with bridges. This one was off the road but it's almost an impossibility for me to pass or cross a bridge without taking a picture. Honestly, you'll see.

The ride across Montana was pretty uneventful. Of course Montana is a wonderful ride, at least on the West half, so it wasn't really surprising. At one point I stopped at a state part right off the highway to use the bathroom; of course I had to take some pictures, not of the bathroom though.

Was this going to be my first dry day of the trip? Well I can count it as my first dry riding day but as I pulled into Chalet Bearmouth I could see the clouds were threatening and I didn't hold out much hope for a dry night.

It's surprising how different a place can be from what I was led to believe from the website. Chalet Bearmouth wasn't the worst offender in this manner but from their name I just expected more.

It started to rain as I set up camp; I pitched my tent under the only trees in the area, I only hoped it would keep the worst of the coming storm off me.

Somehow I chose another campground situated right on a major highway, I guess that's just the way it is.

I decided that I was going to continue my one day old tradition of taking a walk around the area before it got too dark. Since it was sprinkling rain I'd already decided I wasn't going to fire up the stove and cook dinner but rather see what the lodge had to offer so I could take my time a little. Good thing I'd packed my raincoat! Chalet Bearmouth was situated right on a pretty good size river, this makes for some decent picture opportunities. In addition it was at the base of a hill, some might even call it a mountain but maybe that's stretching it a little bit.

I walked down to the bridge where I'd come in, probably not more than a mile, and decided I could do better to get an overview of the area. I looked up the hillside and figured it couldn't be that difficult to climb up at least halfway and get a good picture. Sometimes I wonder how I come up with what constitutes a good idea. I got about halfway up to where I wanted to get and realized that this hill was not only a lot steeper than it looked from the ground but it was covered in a loose rock that was a bit slippery. I came to the conclusion that I was plenty high enough and snapped my picture.

I like the ability to shoot a panorama of this camera.

I stopped in at the lodge for dinner before heading back down to my tent. I sort of decided that I could do some sort of taste-test while on my trip comparing burgers at different locations. Since I'd already had a bad one today my prospects looked a little better for dinner. I decided to skip the fries and instead opted for the homemade chips they served, this proved to be a fortuitous decision as I can still picture and taste them as I write this, yummy!

I got back to my campsite and realized that my choice of location may not have been the best ever. I was under the trees which I still think was a good idea but evidently I was the only one in the campground that noticed that there were real bathrooms up under the lodge. When I pitched my tent I'd thought that the proximity of the porta-potties could only be a good thing since they were a lot closer than the real facilities at the lodge. How was I supposed to know that these delightfully convenient little toilets were also a kid magnet and would give the local children hours of fun as they played whatever games kids played in portable toilets? If they would've been quiet it might have been a little better, at least they drowned out the noise of the traffic. I don't know how late they stayed up playing reindeer games as I finally dropped off to sleep. When I awoke the next morning I seriously considered shouting and blowing my horn as I passed their sleeping camper but showed what I thought was admirable constraint by not doing so.

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Old 03-04-2010, 04:55 PM   #9
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I think I was supposed to change time zones when I entered Montana but really have no idea. My cell phone looked like it changed when I first got in but then changed back. I guess it really doesn't matter at this point. I got up at 7 but still seemed to take forever to get packed up and on the road, even without a shower or breakfast I didn't leave until 8:30. It was cold this morning, 47 degrees but I figured on it getting nicer as I got underway as it had for the past couple of days. I figured wrong.

This was truly a miserable day for riding but I only had to go 200 miles which I guessed would take me around 3 hours at freeway speeds; I wouldn't even have to stop for gas! I didn't feel like taking any pictures as I was just too cold to care; I looked forward to entering Idaho as for some reason that line on the map makes me think everything will be different. Well I was right since as soon as I crossed the line into Idaho it started to rain. If there's one thing I hate more than riding in the cold or rain it's riding in the cold AND rain. I stopped at a ski resort and put my raingear on, here's the only pictures from today, I paused on the bridge getting back on the highway to snap them.

I got both directions so you can see it was equally miserable from either way. Even though I ended up stopping for gas and to warm up a little I still got to Chapa's house by noon, of course my cell phone had been screwed up so I had woken up and hour earlier than what I'd thought anyway.
For some reason whenever I stop an someone's house I've become really bad at taking any pictures, or even unpacking the camera so you'll have to bear with me. Houston and Desiree had turned up about 30 minutes before me so we were all ready to get our stuff together. After some basic housekeeping and packing tips Chapa took us out to get a gander at Post Falls. I was really surprised to see that it was not the backwards middle of nowhere'sville that I had anticipated but was more like a bedroom community for Coeur d'Alene (you have no idea how many times I had to look that up to spell it correctly). We went out to lunch at Hot Rods and then checked out the chopper shop next door. Afterward Chapa and I headed out to try and find a replacement power cable for my GPS. We wound up at Radio Shack who didn't have what I needed but tried really hard to sell me a new GPS; they almost succeeded but the one they had didn't have Canada so I couldn't see the point and settled for the economy size pack of AA batteries. By the time we got back I was pretty bushed and we had grilled PB&J for dinner and watched Wipeout on Tivo, I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Chapa planned to take us all out for breakfast the following morning then accompany us to the Canadian border, no further as he didn't have a passport.
I have no idea what time we got up and moving but we went to some place called GW Hunters or something like that (didn't write it down) for breakfast. I don't know what it is with these places in the Pacific Northwest but they had a bunch of stuffed animals all over the place.

We were greeted outside by this little guy.

However we felt he needed a little something to get us into the spirit of the day so we added...

He looks much better now and we can go inside and enjoy our meal.

We entered the door to find this fearsome guy there to greet us. Actually I think he looks like he's got a little gas. If the bears in Canada are anything like this one then I've got nothing to worry about; regardless this is the first bear of the trip so I had to get a picture of him.

The food here was pretty normal and since Chapa was buying no one scrimped. It felt good to have everyone together just hanging out again for awhile.

Coming out of the restaurant I came upon this beauty, can there ever be too much camouflage?

Before long we were loaded up and on the road, next stop the Canadian Border!

We had roughly 100 miles until we reached Canada, I didn't think about it too much but I new that we had almost 500 miles to make today and we'd gotten a late start. Traffic was pretty heavy for a little while but before long is sorted itself out.

As we continued north the pine forests took over and before long we felt like we were the only ones on the road; it was quite tranquil.

The next thing we knew we came around a corner and bang! There was the border crossing!

We all sort of messed around for a little bit and took turns standing with one foot in each country. The most interesting thing to me was that the border was even carved into the forest, perhaps those lines in the map aren't just imaginary?

We made sure to get a group picture, something tells me either I over packed or Houston under packed seeing as how my gear is for one person and he's set up for two, better safe than sorry I guess.

Chapa was a little miffed that this was to be the end of his part of the Adventure so he went into the U.S. Customs office to see if he could get some sort of day pass into Canada, they told him that as long as he came back the same day they'd tell the Canadians he would be allowed back into the country; silly border guards don't know a perfect opportunity when they see one...
We were instructed to go through the gate individually, I was the last to go. They asked the normal sorts of questions regarding weapons, alcohol and length of stay in Canada then asked if I was traveling with the other two bikes who'd just gone through. Of course I told them yes, they then asked me why we all had different answers to how long we were going to be in Canada. I began to draw a total bland but came up with the correct answer of, “those two up there are a couple of idiots who don't know what our schedule is.” This seemed to satisfy the gate guard and they let me through, probably glad to be rid of the lot of us, and now we were in Canada!

I don't know why but it immediately felt cleaner on this side of the border, the downside was that I had to do math in order to figure out how fast I was supposed to go and how far until the next town. It took a little practice but really wasn't that difficult; simply multiplying by six got you close.

The weather was beautiful and it was an excellent day to ride. Unfortunately 100 miles inside of Canada Chapa had to take his leave of us. 200 miles riding with us meant 200 miles riding home and he wasn't on vacation. I know Chapa would've preferred to continue on, I could see it in his face.

After Chapa left the day just seemed a little darker, of course it could be that the rainclouds on the horizon had something to do with it.

We stopped for gas just outside of the town of Radium. I asked Houston what he'd do if we came upon a bear while camping and he told me he'd pretend he was Bigfoot and show that bear a thing or two. I'm truly not sure that he'd be pretending...

Directly after leaving the gas station we went through this gap in the cliffs and entered the Radium Hot Springs National Park, otherwise known as Wilderness Wonderland in Adamspeak.

Luckily Houston had suggested we don our raingear at the gas station since as soon as we passed through the portal it started to rain. Immediately a large herd of elk crossed the road in front of us but I was just too slow with the camera to get a picture. Even with the rain the majestic pine forests on either side were something to see, I didn't see how it could get any better.

I discovered that if there is anything better than a bridge that I like to take pictures of it's a tunnel, unfortunately there's not that many of them.

Finally we entered Banff, where Radium had grand pine forests Banff had soaring cliffs and mountains, most with snow still on the peaks. It was in Banff where we saw our first (live) bear, a little guy by a stream. Again I was too slow for a picture but I guessed that I'd get my chance later. The rain kept up but it wasn't too bad.

The weather teased us, it would be overcast with rain for about 20 minutes then, without warning, the sky would clear and we get these wonderful views. This kept up for some time and the scenery just got better every time!

Eventually we came to the Icefields Parkway leading through Jasper National Park. Strangely enough I had no idea that it was some sort of toll road and it wound up costing $20 for the 3 of us to use it. It started out nice and clear with our spirits high but the mood soon plummeted along with the temperature.

Before long the rain was non-stop and the temperature eventually fell to 41 degrees. Miserable doesn't even begin to describe it. The scenery was breathtaking, or it may have been the cold, but it was difficult to take it all in between the shivers. Finally Houston pulled over after 150 miles of this stuff; I screamed to myself, “but we're almost there! Couldn't you wait another 30 minutes!?”

He'd run out of gas. Luckily we'd taken a one gallon can from Chapa before we left and were prepared for just such an eventuality.

Directly after refilling Houston with some gas the skies cleared and the sun started shining! Oh what a glorious sight! We rolled into Whistler's Campground in good spirits after one of the most challenging days I've ever spent riding, both physically and mentally.

We set up camp, in the dry thank you very much, and all started to get our happy thoughts together. I have to say that if you're going on a camping trip and a Special Forces guy is good to have along as he can start a fire with ease, something I still have yet to figure out. I was talking with Karen on the phone, regaling her with tails of how hard we'd had it when we had some visitors in our campsite.

I shouted at her, “we have moose in our campsite!” only to realize a second later that they were actually elk. What can I say they're still the biggest things I've ever seen. This was the perfect end to a hard day. Well almost...

If you're going to take a Special Forces guy with you don't listen if he offers to dry your clothes over the campfire. This is Houston watching his pair of socks go up in flames, evidently they're a little dryer than he wanted. He was lucky as he came close to drying his gloves and boots a similar amount.

As we cooked our dinner we realized that the frigid wetness that was Father's Day was but a distant, painful memory but a warm fire and dinner was the reality.

All is right again.
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Old 03-04-2010, 06:44 PM   #10
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Another beautiful albeit chilly morning. I decide to go find the shower house while the other 60% of our trio work on just getting smellier. The shower house is alright but nothing special, at least I'm clean.

As we're getting ready to go we find that Houston's new motorcycle boots are quickly shedding their nether-regions. No problem, I knew there was a reason I picked up that roll of duct tape!

Today's not too bad of a day, well hopefully it's not too bad of a day anyway. Mileage-wise we've got about 380 miles, it's chilly but my weather-eye tells me that it should warm up fairly quickly. It doesn't really look like rain but why should today be any different than what I've put up with every single day of this trip so far.

I decide that it'll warm up soon enough that all I'm going to wear is my t-shirt under my riding jacket. Please understand that although that jacket appears to be quite substantial it really isn't, wind and rain tends to blow right through it. We find our way to Hwy 40 which is billed as a scenic route to Alaska; it's nice but doesn't hold a candle to the things we saw yesterday. Of course my attitude could be tempered by the fact that it's getting progressively colder and all it needs is to rain to be truly horrible.

Of course the weather does its usual teasing and we great stretches of blue sky with light fluffy clouds. When this happens the temperature rises a couple of degrees, just enough to give the condemned man hope before dashing his hopes; what's the phrase, “abandon all hope ye who enter here”. It fits.

Just as I feel like I can't take another moment and I'm going to lose it we come up to the town of Grand Cache and a Mini-Mart. It takes awhile but eventually I'm able to move my fingers enough to turn off my ignition so I can make my way into the heaven that's the Quicky Mart. I take a minute to don my sweatshirt and rain cover to help block the wind and head inside. The proprietor of the store tells us we should have come through last week as the temps were in the 30's. I replied that I was glad we missed it before I realized she was talking Centigrade! She then tells us the scenery between Grand Cache and Grand Prairie was the equal to that in Banff and Jasper. She lied.

All along Hwy 40 I'd been seeing signs warning me of logging trucks. As we're messing around in the Quicky Mart I snap a quick picture of one in the parking lot as I hadn't seen one yet.

Unfortunately we spent a little too much time warming up and the logging truck beat us out of the lot. Don't you hate it when trucks are slow as molasses when you can't pass but speed way up when there's a passing zone? We passed as soon as we could but it took a little bit.

Of course as soon as we put all our cold weather clothes on the temps started to rise and it became quite nice out. I really miss all the green and water that isn't just there for a few short months in monsoon season.

Surprisingly Houston and DD decided we needed a sit-down meal for lunch. In keeping with my burger rating experiment I go for the cheeseburger. Here's where I get a sort of shock; in Canada fries are served with a side of brown gravy. It was very tasty!

The route from the restaurant to Dawson Creek was pretty uneventful. After awhile even beautiful scenery gets old and we weren't riding in beautiful scenery. However one of the high points of the trip came in Dawson Creek as we came to mile zero of the Alaska Highway! Now I'm thinking the adventure's really starting because I'm head all the horror stories of poor road conditions, cars having to be towed off the Alcan and mosquitoes that will deflesh a cow faster than Piranha in the Amazon. The first breakdown came quickly after we got on the Alcan as my first set of headphones bit the dust.

Honestly I think the dangers of the Alcan are overstated, at least today I found it to be a delightfully smooth road with wide, although gravelly, shoulders with nice woods on either side. Sure there're patches of road construction but they manage to keep traffic moving fairly well for the most part and before long we're coming up on our stop for the night at Charlie Lake Provincial Park.

As we enter the campground we see the sign to the right. On one hand I'm very excited as I'm thinking I'm going to get to see a bear up close and personal. On the other hand I'm pretty nervous as I'm thinking I'm going to see a bear up close and personal. The park is set up as a small loop with about 30 campsites in all.

After riding around the whole campground we choose the first site right in the entrance because it has a grassy area. Of course it also has the added benefit of being right on the highway so I'm keeping up with the aura that most of my campsites have had so far with plenty of road noise.

Houston and DD are pretty serious about staying in shape as you can see. Calisthenics before bedtime was a common occurrence. In this picture it's probably pushing 9 pm. This is the first night I've noticed that the sun is setting much later than what I'm used to and I finally have to use my sleep mask to be able to drop off. Now if I would've thought to pack earplugs I'd be doing okay.

Finally a day without rain! Is it a sign of good things to come?

Tomorrow's a big day as we head to the Liard Hotsprings Provincial Park and hope to get a good relaxing soak in!
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Old 03-05-2010, 07:32 PM   #11
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I wake up to the sound of Houston telling DD that he's going to start kicking my tent to get me up, this is at 6am. I finally drag myself into daylight at 7 and proceed to heat up a cup of cocoa. It's fairly cold this morning and a little something to warm me up will be good. As usual I don't get all packed up until 9 or so.

Today we're heading up to the Liard River hotsprings, a place I've heard great things about and am looking forward to mightily. We have about 420 miles to go today and while I'm hoping we can get there a bit early in the day I don't want that to include me getting up and moving real early, I'm on vacation after all.

I wake up to the sound of Houston telling DD that he's going to start kicking my tent to get me up, this is at 6am. I finally drag myself into daylight at 7 and proceed to heat up a cup of cocoa. It's fairly cold this morning and a little something to warm me up will be good. As usual I don't get all packed up until 9 or so.

Right before we get on the road Houston voices his concerns regarding the route from Dawson City to Fairbanks. I blow it off and we get moving. One of these days I'll learn to put on my sweatshirt before we leave; we'll see how that works out for me tomorrow. Right now I'm just cold.

For some reason Houston passes up the first gas stop opportunity. As we ride through miles of wilderness I start doing the math for the next town I know will have gas. Just as I figure that I'll be pushing my bike for 10 miles with Houston having to push an extra 20 our salvation strikes in the form of the Pink Mountain.

The further north we get the more chainsaw sculptures we see. This one is pretty representative.

We gas up at the Pink Mountain and the proprietor gives me a chart of where we can get gas and the mileage between stops.

Somehow on every vacation we go on Karen and I find a cat that seems to channel one of ours. I don't know this guys name but he's a dead ringer for Oliver so I took a picture.

We get our warm clothes back on and hit the road.

The RV traffic hasn't been as bad as I'd been told to expect. Even so once you get behind one it's hard to pass. In places the AlCan is pretty twisty and there's just not a lot of passing zones. Of course there are places where it's straight for as far as you can see.

We make good time and at our next stop in Fort Nelson I'm thinking we'll be in Liard plenty early.

Houston has decided that he's beginning to get the hose by paying with American cash everywhere we stop. He's at the point that he's getting even money for his greenbacks so he stops at the bank and exchanges some U.S. cash for Canadian.

While Houston's in the bank I cruise the strip and see the Legendary Fort Nelson Hotel. I've never heard of it either.

Getting to Liard early starts to slip away as we spend 45 minutes at the gas station. For my trip mascot I brought the “Poo Bear”. If you don't know the significance and really want to hear it let me know and I'll send you the story. There's a bit of humor involved.

Once we finally get rolling it's through some seriously pretty country. We're getting back into mountainous country, it's green and the sky's clear.

Well the sky's clear for a little while anyway.

We start getting into river country again and you know what that means; bridges! Almost all the bridges we crossed has that metal grating as the road surface. I don't like it in a car, I hate it on the motorcycle and I really hate it on a motorcycle with a knobby tire on the front.

At one point coming around a corner we run into a flock of some sort of mountain sheep.

Later we run into road construction and have five miles of loose gravel road; and it starts to rain.

As we get through the construction area we run into a small herd of big-horn sheep. Actually we almost run into the RV as he comes to a screeching stop in the middle of the highway and starts throwing food out to these guys.

As I take this picture my camera battery dies, of course I don't take the time to put in my spare battery. Just as we come up to the campground we run across a herd of buffalo – stupid camera.

We get to the campground to find that they have no record of my reservation. Luckily I had the printout showing my reservation but they didn't have a whole lot of sites left and we couldn't get one with any grass. At this point I was just glad to have a site. We did our best to make our site comfortable, just as we got set up it started to rain again.

After the short rain we headed out for the hotsprings. I was a little perturbed as we followed the trail through what looked like muddy swampland.

Soon enough the trail took a turn for the better and we were walking through lush greenness. Of course it was still a little swampy off the boardwalk but at least it was green.

There are two hotsprings areas along the trail. The first one you come to is the cooler of the two and attracts lots of families with kids. It was sort of a resort setting, well as much of a resort setting as any I'd seen on this trip so far. We decided to take a pass, in addition to being loud there was the distinct odor of sulfur in the area. I smelled bad enough at this point and didn't need any help.

A little further up the trail was the “adult” hotspring. This one was much quieter with no kids. I found out why it was quieter as I entered the water and the heat took my breath away. Everyone but the crazy guy across the pool hung around the base of the different stairs leading down into the water. The trick was to not touch the bottom of the pool as it was natural and a bit muddy. In addition there was some sort of moss on the bottom and it was easy to dislodge if you stepped on it; the moss tended to float to the surface and wasn't very attractive. I couldn't stay in very long due to the heat and got light-headed as I got out of the water.

The sky was still threatening as we walked back to the campground but I took the rainbow to be a good sign.

After returning to camp I went on a search for water, finally finding a spigot halfway across the campground. I came back and cooked up some Chili-Mac. As I headed up to the registration shack a few minutes later I discovered this water tap. It wasn't any closer than the other but it did benefit from the extra feature of the warning sign. I asked the gatekeeper what the boil order was all about and was it only this spigot? No, all the water in the park was under the boil order as their cistern hadn't passed inspection by the state this year. Now I'd heated up my water for my Chili Mac but there was no way I'd boiled it for 5 minutes, my stomach gave a lurch as I thought of the possibilities.

I came back to the campsite to find the last bit of wildlife for the night before turning in. I swear I wasn't the one feeding the little guy peanut M&M's.

At this point I learn that Houston and DD are talking about not coming up to Dawson City. They haven't made a decision yet but better do it soon as we're only two days out. Once you get up to Dawson City the only way to Fairbanks is over the Top of the World Highway or back down the Klondike to the AlCan and up.
My 2009 Alaska Adventure

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Old 03-05-2010, 07:56 PM   #12
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Awoke to the sound of raindrops on the tent so you know that's another day to get rained on. Today we're heading up to Whitehorse, the capitol of the Yukon Territory some 405 miles away. I've begun to worry about the condition of my rear tire and I'm thinking that Whitehorse may be my best bet for a replacement.

Before breakfast Houston lets me know that he and DD aren't coming to Whitehorse today, instead they'll be heading south on Hwy 37 just past Watson Lake.

After breakfast Houston lets me know that he and DD will be coming to Whitehorse but DD will stay in the hotel in Dawson City while he and I ride over the Top of the World Highway to Fairbanks where he will immediately turn around and ride back to Dawson City. Craziness.

I finally remember to wear my sweatshirt and am quite happy when we get going. Upon leaving the campground we come across a herd of buffalo and I'm able to get pictures.

Soon after the buffalo I see a bear off on the left side of the road and come to a screeching halt on the wrong side of the road to get some pictures.

Not 20 minutes later I see another one and have the same reaction.

In all today I see four bears, the last two sort of snuck up on me and I didn't manage to get the camera around for pictures.

After the rainy beginning to the day it's turning into a nice one. Other than the bears there's not a whole lot going on other than just enjoying the scenery.

Believe it or not at one point I'm trying to take a picture and get a bug right in the center of the camera lens. How on earth do I get so unlucky to have a bug his this little ¾ inch circular area? I have no idea.

A bit less than halfway to Whitehorse we come to Watson Lake, home of the signpost forest. This whole thing started with a worker on the AlCan construction crew who erected a signpost with distances and directions to his gang's hometowns, sort of like the one on M.A.S.H. As you can see his small sign has now grown to this “forest”.

My few pictures can't even begin to catch the size of this place.

We continue on and just revel in the scenery. You'd think it would get old rather quickly but I have a couple thousand pictures that lead me to believe that I was always seeing something that was amazing to me.

RV's were on the road but still nowhere near the numbers I expected.

We started seeing mountains again as well.

We stopped at the Continental Divide for gas; I have no idea if we're actually at a continental divide or if it's just the name of the gas station. It turned out people were raving about the cinnamon rolls here so of course I stopped to have one. Unfortunately they have raisins in them which I hate.

Houston asks one of the women working there if she'd heard anything about the condition of the Top of the World Highway and she tells him it's pretty much impassable. He says he'll ask someone in Dawson City for more up-to-date news on the road condition when we get up there. Her response was classic as she tells him that none of those people are going to know anything unless they just came off it. I can't help but wonder how she came up with her impassable news.

A ways further up I look over and I'm greeted by this lovely vision.

This has to be the longest bridge I've seen to date (okay I don't get out much). Of course it's that steel grating on the road surface so I'm clenching my cheeks together the whole way across as my tires try to follow some track that's different than where I want to go. One of these days I'll learn to relax and maybe it'll go smoother but I've just got to the point where I don my sweatshirt on a cold morning before I leave so I'm not holding out too much hope this'll go easier soon. We stopped at the gas station on the other side of the bridge, not necessarily because we needed gas but we definitely needed a breather after the bridge.

Construction is getting a little more common but we still make good time.

Houston and Desiree don't seem to mind it that much!

We got into camp fairly early but we still need to work on gas stops as we're averaging about 40 minutes.

The campground is ice, although the campsites are mostly dirt. I took a shower that only cost two loonies and did a little laundry while I was in there. Houston is still determined not to shower until he reaches Fairbanks and I've taken to making sure my tent is upwind of his. I go to the camp store and decide I want an ice cream cone; nothing looks all that great until I come across a flavor called Tiger Stripe. I stared at it for a little while then decided to go for it. Tiger Stripe is orange with black licorice stripes. I know it sounds horrid but it was really quite good!

There's a ranger program going on so I stop to see what it's about. The topic for the night is bears and how to prevent an attack; I'm all ears. Evidently there're two types of bear attacks that you need to watch out for; the defensive attack and the offensive attack.
The defensive attack comes about because the bear feels threatened by you and wants to scare you off. The bear will likely charge but you can tell that it's not really serious by paying close attention to its body language. If the worst happens and the bear actually attacks you, lie down on your stomach with your hands clenched over the back of your neck. The idea is that your skull is too large to fit in a bears mouth, at least a black bears mouth, so you don't have to worry about them grabbing and crushing your skull. However the bear can easily fit your neck in its mouth and snap it so lacing your fingers across your neck will protect that from happening. The ranger guaranteed us that although we might get scalped and have some of our fingers torn off and eaten we would probably suffer no lasting damage. In addition during a defensive attack you're supposed to remain absolutely silent and not fight back; if the bear rolls you onto your back you're to keep rolling until you're back on your stomach. Eventually the bear will decide you're no longer a threat and just leave. I almost got up and walked out when he came up with the “remain silent even though you're being scalped” part.
An offensive attack is different; in a offensive attack the bear sees you as food and is going to try to kill you and eat you. In this case you're to yell and scream, punch, kick, stab, etc. until the bear decides it's too much trouble to eat you.
Keep in mind that the way to decide between the two types of attack is to observe the bears body language and try to divine its intent by the way it holds its ears. Of course if cubs are involved then all bets are off. I think I'll just try to keep my distance, I'm glad I got my bear bell on the first day in Canada. You know what they say, the way to avoid a Black Bear is wear a bell and keep pepper spray ready to defend yourself; but you know you're dealing with a Grizzly if you come across its scat, it'll be full of bells and smell like pepper.
Our campground is nice but evidently it's where all the locals come to smoke dope; coming back from the bear pep talk I almost got a contact high from the amount of cannabis in the air, at least they'll all get tired and probably be quiet for the rest of the night. Houston wants to get an early start in the morning so we can get to Dawson City before nightfall, I suggested shorter gas stops but we'll see how it goes. I'm still a little jealous of my morning time as I'm on vacation, if I wanted to get up early I might as well be at work.
My camera card crapped out on me tonight, hopefully the pictures will be there when I try to download them at home. At least I have three more cards!
My 2009 Alaska Adventure

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Old 03-06-2010, 09:46 AM   #13
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Great stuff.
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:14 PM   #14
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Today we're heading out to Dawson City, it'll be our last day in Canada for awhile and we're leaving the Alaska Highway for the Klondike Highway. It's 330 miles to Dawson City, I sort of wanted a shorter day today as this is the first day of the Dusk to Dawson Adventure rally in Dawson City.

Houston's been throwing nuts to the squirrels all night and now they've decided they have free rein over our campsite. As we're getting packed up I make some cocoa and have an “Oatmeal to Go” bar (quite tasty). I set my breakfast down for a second to do something and the next thing I know I see this squirrel running across the campsite with my breakfast in its mouth. A few minutes later he comes back to see what else he can steal, finding nothing left he takes the wrappers off the table and throws them on the ground. Houston and Desiree decide that since we're close to an actual town they're heading off to Starbucks and I can meet them their, sounds good.

As I head off to the bathroom I look over into the common area; what is that? It was a fox sitting not 20 feet away! The ravens in the area are going crazy and as I watch the fox starts throwing what I thought was a rag up in the air and catching it. I soon figured out the fox was playing with a squirrel, a squirrel that no longer cared that it was the foxes toy. After getting my camera I found the fox going around the campground raiding peoples screen porches. I managed to snap this incredibly bad picture before he took off.

As you can see Whitehorse is an actual town, after all it is the capitol of the Yukon! I finally found the correct Starbucks (there were two!) and we all loaded up and got on the road again. The map showed the distance to where we turned off onto the Klondike Hwy to be rather short, or course one of these days I need to look at the map scale as well. But finally we came to our intersection and turned our backs on the AlCan.

Honestly there's not much to say about the Klondike. The road feels quite a bit narrower than the AlCan, I think it's because the trees are permitted to come right up to the edge of it instead of having a 30 foot swatch cut back.

There were also a lot more construction zones on the Klondike, and they seemed to not only last longer but the road surface was a lot looser than anything we'd encountered so far. On this particular section the road was newly graded, the dirt and gravel was quite deep and I know I was worried the whole time that I'd get spit off. This section lasted 5 miles and I figured if we could make it through this then the Top of the World highway would be a piece of cake.

At one point we were following this slow pickup truck down the road when we came across this Mountie; we all pulled to a stop, what else would you do if a policeman is in the middle of the road out in the wilderness? The Mountie has the guy in the truck get out and starts running his information; oh great, I guess we're next. In the middle of dealing with the truck driver he looks at us and waves us on, good deal!

We stopped for gas in the town of Carmacks, now the “towns” really consist of a gas station, maybe someplace to eat and a few houses. While we're stocking up on the essentials (Malteasers and Aero's) another group pull in and ask if we were riding with the guy who'd pulled off the road a while back. As we talk we find out that this other guy was tooling down the road and a bear just walked right out in front of him. He had to brake hard and swerve but managed to miss Ursa Major but ended up pulling over a bit further up, probably to change his shorts. All this happened about 10 minutes behind us.
As we come up to Dawson City I see what I think is a hawk perched on a traffic sign on the side of the road. As we pass it I can clearly see that it's an owl sleeping on the post, Too Cool! I wanted to get a picture but it would've entailed a u-turn on a narrow street, I just wasn't up to it at this point.

Coming into Dawson I immediately think it's very similar to Tombstone; plenty of dirt roads and a lot of history.

As we pull up to the Downtown Hotel, our lodging for the night, it's hard to miss the long line of ADV bikes parked down the street. Mostly BMW GS's and KLR's but I saw one other Strom. The room was much more modern than I expected, but then when I realized what the rate was I don't know why I doubted...

I walked around town for a little while and soaked up some local atmosphere...

Tomorrow morning we have to cross the Yukon River; the only way across, other than swimming, is the ferry.

As I was walking back toward the hotel I saw this guy taking his dog for a walk. Seriously, he drove slowly and the dog stayed right next to him the whole way; I watched him continue on down the street.

And of course if you're doing a lot of camping where there are no campgrounds there's still no reason you can't have a comfortable toilet seat.

I had dinner at Sourdough Joe's, fish & chips made with halibut (mmmmm, tasty), then went down the street and got an ice cream cone (Tiger Stripe again!). Lastly I retired to my room where I did a little sink laundry and watched my first TV of the trip only to learn that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett had both died today – what a shocker!

Well tomorrow we're cross over into Alaska, the weather was beautiful today and I look forward to more of the same!
My 2009 Alaska Adventure

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Old 03-06-2010, 04:42 PM   #15
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Today we finally get in to Alaska! Dawson City was wonderful; from the lovely walk around town in the evening and fish & chips at Sourdough Joe's to a bit of TV and a good nights sleep in a actual bed.
Waking up was a different matter as the sky was completely overcast. I met Dennis on the porch of the hotel and asked him about the “Top of the World Highway”. He said the Canadian side was gravel, but good, and the American side was dirt and needed some work. We'd be okay, he said, if it didn't rain. I eyed the sky skeptically.

The first order of the day was to find some gas before we headed out to the ferry. Strangely enough there was none to be found in town and we wound up heading back down the road for about 5 miles to find a gas station. Once we gassed up we rode back down through Dawson City to the ferry stop.

I was pleased that I'd made the trip down to the ferry dock last night as I'd been able to see what the procedure was to get a ride. The entrance to the ferry was gravel, but at least it was well-packed from all the RV's that routinely make the trip.

I was surprised at the smoothness of the ferry ride, quite nice actually. The good part about being on motorcycles was that we were able to wonder around the deck instead of being trapped in a car.

I was a little nervous about the docking procedure as all I could think of was a sudden stop and being thrown forward with my bike on top of me. The landing was as smooth as the rest of the trip had been and we rode down off the ramp, across the gravel and onto the Top of the World. Unfortunately just as we landed I felt the first raindrops on my face.

We started out on some relatively nice asphalt and I was beginning to think that the condition of the road had been blown way out of proportion.

Soon enough, however, the road surface began to deteriorate and we were in serious gravel. The rain began to come down harder and the temperature began to drop.

This day was rapidly becoming one of the most miserable that we'd experienced so far. At least the scenery, which would've been better in the dry & sunny, was still excellent. At this point it was still at least in the lower 40's.

After what seemed like forever I finally saw what had to be the border crossing up ahead.

As we sat at the border waiting for the guards I looked at my thermometer and saw that it was 39 degrees. Coupled with the rain I was completely miserable, it made the whole border crossing experience just not as enjoyable as I'd anticipated.

We huddled up for warmth and took some pictures. Poker Creek is the northernmost land border crossing into the United States. I'm guessing that the border guards live up here on some sort of schedule as the closest town is Chicken, some 43 miles distant. While we were there we noticed a Canadian who appeared to be a bit disgruntled. Evidently he was from Ontario and was a smoker; he had quite a few cartons of cigarettes stashed in this motor home, for personal use, and the border guards were giving him trouble. He finally got across the border but had to pay some sort of import tax for his smokes, I'm guessing he'll think twice next time. This border crossing is only open from 9:00-9:00; we also ran into a couple of riders who'd left out from Dawson City the night before and tried to make the border. They rolled into Poker Creek 5 minutes after the border closed. No problem, they just set up their tents and camped until the border opened up the next morning. They awoke early, cooked some breakfast and basically did all the things that you do in the morning. Just as one of them dropped his pants to take care of a little business off the side of the road Motor homes started pulling up. He said he now understood what zoo animals had to deal with.

As soon as we get back into the US we realize that the road is much worse than it was on the Canadian side; I wouldn't have thought it was possible. At one point I noticed that my load had shifted, I got off to secure my stuff and found that I'd lost one of my Nalgene's I was using for carrying fresh water – Bummer.

As I rode along I found that I was getting quite a bit of mud kicked up into my face. Combined with the poor road conditions this just added a little bit of “excitement” that I really didn't need.

We finally arrived in Chicken, thoroughly soaked and unable to enjoy it. The one bright spot was that a guy had found my Nalgene on the road and brought it down. He also found a SPOT locater and was looking for its owner as well.

Our spirits low we headed back out. So far we'd made 112 miles in just over 3 hours; only 266 to go. The next few hours are a blur of cold wetness. I saw us get down to 37 degrees at one point as we rode through a cloud. We finally made it back to the Alaskan Highway and stopped at Fast Eddies in Tok for lunch. We all had an Alaskan burger to celebrate. I decided if the weather didn't clear up by Delta Junction, in another 110 miles, that I was going to pull over at a hotel and wait for morning. Amazingly, about 30 miles before Delta Junction the weather cleared and the temperature went up 15 degrees. I still vowed to get a hotel, only now it would be in Fairbanks.
Upon arriving in Fairbanks I started looking around for a hotel. We pulled over into an empty parking lot to talk about our options. Houston decided he wanted to check into Post housing on Fort Wainwright, it didn't sound like what I wanted to do so we said our goodbye's in the parking lot and went our separate ways. I don't even have any pictures.
I really had no idea where to find a hotel but I remembered from my planning that there was a Comfort Inn in the same area as the campsite I'd originally planned to stay in. I finally came across the hotel, out in the middle of nowhere with an empty parking lot. It looked good and I was dreaming of a hot meal and a soak in the hot tub until I found what the nightly rate was, $150! A little more checking found an Extended Stay for $135/night. I asked the desk clerk if there were any such thing as a cheap hotel in Fairbanks; she asked me what my idea of cheap is and then laughed when I told her anything under $100. Isn't it amazing how far up your idea of cheap can go? All of a sudden $17 for a campsite got really attractive.

If I disappear and someone finds my notes, I'm at the Ice Alaska Campground and I think they serve people as stew. Seriously, the place is spooky.

As I pulled into the campground I noticed that there were a few campsites that were occupied but I didn't see any people. As I made my way toward the rear of the campground I came upon one person; at first I thought she worked at the campground since she stopped me and asked me if I was looking for a campsite. I told her yes and she pointed out some nice ones. Later I decided she was just a friendly person who was not quite all there.

As I cook my dinner the family down the way has already started a shouting match and the bath buildings are a warren of darkened rooms & dead ends. There's a noise that sounds disturbingly like an industrial bone saw. I finally see one other camper and he just gives me a glassy-eyed stare.

We'll see what tomorrow brings...if I make it through the night.
My 2009 Alaska Adventure

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