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Old 10-02-2011, 09:02 AM   #16
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Cool2 "This is what happens when you leave home. You meet... people."

Let's take a brief intermission for a couple of shout outs…

1) Although we've been back for 4 months, James is still on the road. He came down to Vancouver after Alaska, across Canada, down the east coast to South Carolina, across the US to Seattle, and is now in transit to California for the Horizons Unlimited meeting later this month. After that he'll head down to South America and Tierra del Fuego. Whew! Expected to wrap up his trip sometime in March next year.

Interested peoples can learn more about James and his ride...

James also recently completely a Part I video of the northbound Dalton journey, where he's taken the epic directorial style to the Haul Road. Great stuff. Recommended viewing for the soundtrack alone.

2) Rich - aka Kujo1967 here on ADV - has a pre-trip planning thread about his Kawa Concourse here and we're keen to hear more about his ride when he revs that up. His point of origin was Oklahoma City. Funny thing about those Connies, Rich was always the cleanest one among us after a rainstorm.

We will now continue with our regularly scheduled programming.

chrome bandit screwed with this post 10-02-2011 at 09:04 AM Reason: amp'd up the audio mix
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Old 10-02-2011, 09:49 PM   #17
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cool RR planning to go next year and the information is GREAT
Don't blame me for this mess I voted for McCain

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Old 10-03-2011, 12:04 AM   #18
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Cool2 Thanks...

...for the kind words and following along. More to come!
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Old 10-03-2011, 12:11 AM   #19
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Cool2 Terra incognita

Deadhorse sits on the edge of the continent, in a coastal plain with gray curved roads and few road signs to guide the way. It requires tribal knowledge to get around, and most anyone you ask for directions will point the way with a finger, and you have to figure out how to get over there. To call it a town would be charitable, it is really an industrial construction site built to support the extraction of natural reserves.

First order of business upon arrival: gas up the bikes and spare containers.

Gas station in Deadhorse: although Prudhoe Bay is the home for about a dozen oil fields, there are no refineries, so all gas for vehicles is trucked up from Fairbanks.

Prudhoe Bay is home to the largest oil facility in the US and North America, which means it's also a strategic asset - access to the Arctic Ocean requires a background check with 24 hour advance notice, as you must use a guided tour for access. While this appears to be common knowledge among the locals and here on ADV, apparently lots of people continue to show up in town expecting to have immediate beach access & ocean vu.

Tip: 2011 may be the last year for guided tours, as the hosting Arctic Caribou Inn is shutting down after this year due to increasing maintenance bills and competing housing alternatives. When we were there in July, no other hospitality companies had yet committed to picking up the tour for next year. So anyone interested in dipping their toes into the Beaufort Sea in the future should research this ahead of time.

Upon arrival at the Caribou Inn, your name is looked up on an Excel spreadsheet to confirm the background check, you pay the $40 tour fee, view an 10 year old video in dire need of a refresh, and hop on the bus to see the production facilities, local wildlife, and finally, the ocean.

Tundra transport: when the tires are inflated, it can roll over someone without causing injury (!)

Oil transport: used to move liquids from fields to processing

Arctic fox on the tundra - look closely above the lake.

Land's end: the edge of the continent and entry to the Beaufort Sea.

Water temperature was 38 degrees. I lasted 10 seconds.

The five mouseketeers: Rich, Brady, James, Jun, and Craig

We spent the night at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel, complete with excellent wifi, 3G, and an over-achieving buffet. The hotel likes to keep the carpets clean, so guests have to wear baby blue booties over street shoes to prevent grime creep. Very stylish, and disposable. James liked his booties so much he wore them on the southbound trip, as you'll see in the next video.

Dalton grime on the 1200gs. It doesn't come off easily.

Posing at the General Store.
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:16 PM   #20
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funny when I saw James I remembered when you all got back to the dorms James and I were chatting and you guys were sooooooooooooooooo hungry.... We kept on talking..sorry about that!
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:50 PM   #21
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Cool2 No worries

At that point we had a good lead on a place to eat, which is coming up shortly, along with another one of your favorite topics.
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:53 PM   #22
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Cool2 "For a limited time only"

We headed out of Deadhorse in the morning chill, temps in the mid-40s, which the locals would call 'balmy' conditions. It's all relative. The first 50 or so miles cut across the tundra on a layered gravel top, relatively hard in the tire wells, with increasing stone accumulation toward the edge of the road. Without any notice, the road turned to deeper gravel, 1-2 inches high, and the bikes became squirrelly. Jun was in the lead, I was right behind, our bikes both started to slalom. We reduced speed and plowed ahead. I looked in my side mirror, and saw everyone behind me had stopped. Someone had gone down.

Jun and I circled back. Everyone was standing when we reached the group, and were huddled around Brady's bike. Turns out Brady got caught up in the high gravel on the edge of the road, and wasn't quite able to get out. Brady is an experienced rider who vacations in Baja with his F650, so we knew he must have hit a bad patch and couldn't squeeze out. Given the conditions of the road, I'm thankful more of us didn't go down, it was a nasty surprise. Brady was up and standing, no injuries, something else to be thankful for, it was time for damage assessment on the bike.

All good after a tumble, no injury. Notice the S turns on the upper left showing the path

Damage assessment: no left blinker, no left mirror, no front fender and beak

You can see more of the bike and road conditions in the southbound video, which I'll embed at the end of this post.

Although the bike was rideable to Fairbanks, we later learned that without a front fender, rain & road spray off the front wheel would come up and hit Brady right on the visor, essentially blinding him with water and mud. So James and Brady rigged a temporary fender that worked through the brief showers we ran into on the remainder of the southbound leg.

The infamous Atigun Pass sign is on the north side of the pass

Dalton Highway runs from Atigun Pass through the Brooks Range

Dalton Highway just south of Atigun Pass

We ran into Matt and Jason at the Hotspot Cafe...two brothers from the UK now living in Atlanta. They have their own ride report in production here.

Matt and Jason on their BBT Tour 2011

3 shot composite of the Yukon River

Short three minute video of the southbound ride, including the accident. Check out the skeeter swarm and James' booties while we assess the bike. This is my favorite video of the entire trip, primarily because James and I exchanged footage when we got back to Fairbanks. Also love Brady's ADV salute en route.

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Old 10-03-2011, 07:05 PM   #23
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I'm loving the report. Brings back memories. I will video some of my next trip. Cool stuff...
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:22 PM   #24
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Cool RR

Nice job on the RR. Top drawer on the vids.

04 HONDA CRF 230 F
08 KTM 450 EXC (R)

"We are all going to die of something if we live long enough!." My Father
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:26 PM   #25
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Cool2 "Gas-Food-Lodging"

Upon landing in Fairbanks, we immediately gas'd up and headed over to Adventure CycleWorks to clean up the bikes and attend to oil changes. It's important to get the calcium chloride off the bike as soon as possible, as it will harden and do a vulcan-merge meld thing with the bike metals. Dan and Shawn run a nice shop there, highly recommended. Check out their site for more info.

Shawn shows us what to power wash - make sure all the little holes in the wheels are clear.

Nice shop!

We used the following day as 'McGuyver' Day to attend to Brady's bike and catch up with shopping. We scored a $5 replacement fender (!) from the spare parts bin at the Trail's End dealership, and picked up a left blinker and left mirror. I also needed a new blinker cover which was taken out by a flying rock from a truck passing on the Dalton. As we camped in the Trail's End parking lot with our tool kits spread out, we had some wonderful exchanges with passing folks. One elderly gentleman stopped by, said he was one of the first truckers up the Dalton, had awesome stories of being stuck on the ice, helicopter coming in with food, he had to stand on top of the cab with waters rising around him, great stuff.

Another biker stopped by, mid-30s, on a 1200GSA, this was going to be his last season in Fairbanks, he was done with it. He performs MRIs for a living, been up here for seven years, it's too cold in the winter, the local vendors are too expensive, and heating months are 7-8 months of the year. He's single, moving back to the lower 48 next year. Okay then. (If he's reading this, didn't catch his name, definitely a longer riding season here in Seattle.)

TIP: always carry safety wire. We used it to keep the fender on the bike for the rest of the trip. It rocks. I'll highlight another gem...lots of people like to carry duct tape, I carry gaffers tape instead - it doesn't leave residue on the attachment surface. Handy stuff, but a little pricey, available at your local camera dealer.

Fixed and ready to go

Also worth a mention of two of Fairbanks finer dining establishments…

Java da Hutt

And dinner at Geraldo's on College Ave, excellent pizza and beer, and just 10 minutes down the street from the college. Two thumbs up recommendation from the staff behind the desk at UAF.

Watch where you park at UAF...bikers were getting tickets due to construction zones. James managed to get a $60 ticket down to a $3 daily parking pass.

A few of us were housed at the lower dorms while the bikes had to be parked at the upper dorms. Not so convenient when loading/unloading the bike, but it's not going to stop me from recommending the university to future travelers. This is when we ran into Leslie and the white Tigers (ride report here). Also ran into another woman riding solo to Deadhorse on a F800. Apparently she took a spill at Deadhorse, and Adventure Cycleworks patched up the bike before she headed off to the BMWOA rally. Didn't catch her name. Good fun with the three Brazilians on KTMs and a F650, they helped James go to battle on the parking tickets. Hope they conquered their battery issues.
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:52 PM   #26
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you warned us about the tickets and we got the pass...and you met Leslie the White Tigers...

Great report...believe me I know how much work they are....thanks!
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Old 10-05-2011, 07:21 AM   #27
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Cool2 "The secret is in the dirt"

Let's just get this out of the way right up front: Denali Highway became an immediate nominee on my top ten list of most scenic highways in the US. Immediate. Nominee. I've been on Going to the Sun Road, Coastal Highway 1 in Big Sur, Trail Ridge in Colorado, Broadway in Manhattan (don't dis it until you've tried it!), Windy Ridge to Mount St Helens, and now the Dalton on this trip. Denali Highway is spectacularly beautiful, and I ran out of superlatives to describe it.

Denali Highway history lesson: it opened in 1957, and was the only highway to Denali until the Parks Highway opened several years later

You could sit all day and watch the weather go by

Alaskan taiga stretches for miles

Denali Highway hilltop

We entered on the western side from Cantwell, which apparently is the wrong way to go, as Denali Mountain is then at your back as you travel eastward. It didn't matter on this day, as the mountain wasn't out during our passage. We danced with some rain clouds and more slippery construction zones, and even caught a rainbow.

Rainbow crosses the highway

We took our time going across, and eventually settled down at the BLM campground at Tangle Lakes. Half of the campground was closed to construction, looks like they're putting in new sites and tables, and the construction trucks continued deep into evening with an incessant beep-beep-beep signal of reverse drive. The wind had kicked up was the kind of wind that puts whitecaps on the lake and makes your tent flap all night. It also kept the bugs away.

The wind was moving strong through Tangle Lakes campground, couldn't leave any fabric untethered.

TIP: The town of Healy appears to be the tourist capital of visitors heading into Denali National Park. It's an insane juggle between RVs, tour buses, and cars looking for places to stay and grab some food. But tucked in between the buildings and RV camp are two food trucks, one for Chinese food, the other for Thai. Both had delicious entrees with heaping portions, although a little overpriced. Recommended.

Here's a short 3 minute video of some riding highlights...

chrome bandit screwed with this post 10-05-2011 at 07:24 AM Reason: crossing some T's, dotting some I's
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Old 10-05-2011, 08:25 PM   #28
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Cool2 "Go west, young man"

We were warned about Glennallen, just down the road from the eastern side of the Denali Highway. Be extra careful about speed traps. The area is close to Alaska State Trooper training ground, where speed enforcement training is in regular operation. On this run, however, the only thing we had to worry about was the rain. A few drops had turned into a steady drizzle which turned into a steady downpour, and the temperatures were dropping into the low 50s. Although I had planned for temps down into the 30s for the trip, I had yet to toss on the long johns, and the prospect of taking off the suit and pants to get an underlayer on seemed too much.

We continued to forge west on the Glen Highway, hand warmers on full blast, and then little patches of blue appeared in the sky. Matanuska Glacier appeared to the south, the pavement began to dry and turn a few twistys, and we found ourselves staring at Anchorage and Wasilla road signs. That wet and cold combo was one of the most uncomfortable weather segments of the trip, yet when I compare with other road trips this summer, seems we should be thankful it wasn't worse. Anchorage was then under our tires, and we made our way to the Harley dealership for a tent spot and shower for the night.

Let me give HD Anchorage a shout out for the free campground and nice shower facilities. And free wifi. Most appreciated.

Anchorage Harley Davidson

Tent space at HD Anchorage

After taking care of supplies and bikes, we headed south the next day, embracing the scenic Route 1 around Turnagain Arm and down into Sterling as we made a beeline for Homer. But first, we had an important stop to make - perhaps this is common knowledge to all the local Alaska folks, it never occurred to us to hunt down the point of the most western highway on the continent. We had to stop at Anchor Point. It's a couple of miles off the main highway on Anchor Point Road, there is no signage to indicate the way. (But the Chamber of Commerce folks are happy to give you directions.)

Look for volcanos across the Cook Inlet

Think I can get into the Aerostitch catalog with this...?

And for an extra surprise, we were lucky to enjoy the Anchor Point version of docking a boat. No piers or boat slips here, they just run a tractor out into the surf, the boat races in with the waves, a deck hand ties up to the trailer, and the tractor emerges from the water and up to the parking lot. Fun to watch on a calm day, and I'm thinking this takes on turbulent proportions in serious weather. Here's a short photo sequence of a pick-up while we were there.

We chatted with the staff after the above extraction, apparently they have more videos on YouTube. The manager didn't want to talk much about the maintenance costs on the tractors with the salt water, upkeep is a bit pricey, even by Alaska standards.
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:43 PM   #29
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Cool2 "A quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem"

We established camp at the Homer Spit campground, where we caught up with showers and laundry amid view of the beautiful Kachemak Bay. Wonderfully scenic.

The campground scene on the Homer Spit

Seafarer's Memorial at Homer

Laundry hut at the campground

We paid homage to the Salty Dawg, admiring the dollar bill decorations on the ceilings, and getting a decent playlist out of the jukebox (U2, Journey, Guns and Roses, must have been an early 90s moment).

Thinking this may make for good desktop wallpaper...? Probably better suited as stock photo for a motel lobby.

By sheer luck of geography, and perhaps a little bit of fate, we noticed that the campground was close to a ferry terminal. We had considered taking a ferry during the trip planning, and couldn't quite get the timing right, so we were planning on riding back to Seattle. We looked at the schedule at the terminal, and didn't recognize any of the destinations on the list, except for Dutch Harbor because of the TV show. Then we realized that ferry terminal serviced the western part of Alaska, out to the Aleutians. So we looked across the street, noticed a ferry travel agent office. 45 minutes later we were booked on the Columbia going down the Inside Passage as long as we could get to Haines in a couple of days.

About a thousand miles over two days? No problem.

This embedded map is supposed to show the full route, something about the Google embedded viewer doesn't like the HTML rendering with ADV edition of vBulletin. Just click on the link for larger image if you really want to see the detail here.

View Larger Map
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Old 10-07-2011, 06:36 PM   #30
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Cool2 "Light one out, get the lights."

True story: we stopped at the Safeway in Homer for breakfast, and an elderly woman stopped by to vent.
"Those eagles, I hate them!"
"They took my cat."
"They took my cat for lunch!"
"Sorry to hear that."
"I'm going to shoot them."
"Um...isn't that illegal?"
"I don't care. I'm going to get them!"

We skedaddled out of Homer back up to Anchorage onto the Glen Highway, heading east back to Glenallen.

Rest stop at Mantanuska Glacier

Rode late into the day onto the Tok Cutoff Highway, where we could see the broad landscape at the foot of the Wrangell Mountains, although it was too dark for pictures. Eagle Trail State Park was home for the night.

$12 site for the night, $18 if the Ranger has to come by to collect.

Here's a short video clip of road highlights from Homer and just past Tok…

We were back on the ALCAN the next day, forging through 2 significant storm cells, one of which caused water to sneak into my previously impenetrable 5 year old Darien pants. Nothing like sitting with a wet butt. Fortunately it dried in a couple of hours.

My mud guard sheared off on the bumpy ALCAN.

Back in Canada...time to start doing mileage math again

We hit Haines Junction in late afternoon, attended to food and fuel, and were mindful of the 8pm cutoff time when the border closes getting down to Haines. And lucky for us, the setting sun drenched a glowing light across the mountains and road most of the way down the Haines Highway.

Haines Highway outside of Haines Junction

Sunset light along Haines Highway

Haines Highway...this is one of my favorite shots of the entire trip. It's a 3 shot HDR, 1 stop over and under.

Truly spectacular and quite majestic, it was a real treat. We rolled into Haines just as it was getting dark. It would be our first dark sky night since we first started the trip.
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