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Old 06-15-2012, 04:03 PM   #16
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Seeeaa-toownn!

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Originally Posted by gage View Post
super awesome man! I live in seattle too! Good luck have fun, enjoy yourself. And keep us posted!
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:26 AM   #17
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5: Off to a "swimmingly" good start

Cruising down the super slab at 60MPH in torrential downpours was what the majority of the day yesterday consisted of. The Pacific North Wet lived up to it’s name and graciously dumped for several hours giving the bikes as well as ourselves a good rinse. Seeing as I was so stoked to be on the road for the first day I didn’t seem to care too much.

The night before I had replaced the breaks all around and put a new Continental TKC80 on the rear rim and adjusted a few minor things. A cold beer really helps with this process.



Fiona, the resident Frenchie roommate (I live with 6 other people in a big house we rent together) took a photo-op on Koshal’s bike. He'll be leaving the hell-raiser here though when he flies in.



I had planned to wake up at a reasonable hour, wrap up some last minute stuff at the house and be gone by 9am. Of course, this was foolish of me to actually believe would happen because I had done the reasonable thing the night before and gone out drinking with my friends that I won’t see for a month. We kicked a quite a few back and had a good time which lead to a fair bit of sleeping in.



There wasn’t a big rush to make a ton of ground though that day since my Fasha-ling (Dad, father, giver of life, etc)- who is riding his KLR650 for the first 2 weeks of the trip, had some paperwork to sign in Vancouver BC that same night. Eventually though I did get under way, met up with my sister to say by as the local kids wondered what planet I was from. I entertained their intrigue, informed them I was from mars, and shared some energy bars that I had made, however energy should have been the last thing these kids needed.



My dad met up with us there and then we got underway. Leaving Whidbey Island and going over Deception Pass it was hazey, just beginning to mist, and absolutely gorgeous. I have crossed it many times, usually appreciate it, but for whatever reason it was in one of it’s prettiest states I had seen it. Maybe I can chock it up to the good mood.

It started raining about this time and absolutely dumped rain for the rest of the day. That was the wettest I had been while riding and felt like we were literally in a swimming pool. We burned up I-5, rolled through the border, and 40 minutes later we were at our friend Shiela’s house in North Vancouver. Got a drink/food at a local pub, caught a bit of the soccer game (football for the rest of the world) and then packed it in. It felt like a long day by the time I crawled into my sleeping bag but in reality I think it was more of general decompression after several days of running around, getting stuff in order at work, and kicking it with friends before heading out that really got me tired.

Next stop, Squamish, Whistler, and then…well we’ll see where we get. Glad to be on the road again.
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:37 AM   #18
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6: Miles To Make

Like a school kid putting off homework, I felt that the miles that we hadn't been doing due to our late starts where beginning to pile up. My fasha has been pretty busy with getting stuff in order before he left so there have been some bike maintenance/changes to his bike that we have prioritized doing over worrying about it later. Seeing as we had the use of a garage it was smart to do the tasks there but has meant that we haven’t been able to put in as long of days as we would have liked. With all the wet that we had yesterday we took the chance to grease bomb our boots. This Hubero's Shoe Grease is the jam, pops said he used to use it when he worked in a logging camp back when he was in college. We'll see how it holds up to modern day rain and wet.



We did get underway though and got into Squamish BC and saw The Chief . I’m a climber and had still never made a trip to Squamish so seeing it for the first time was pretty impressive.



While in town we picked up a few food items and fasha picked up some raingear to through over his riding jacket. After the downpoor the previous day and the subsequent demise of his phone he was keen to ameliarate that problem. While ringing up his items he commented to the cashier that he knows as soon as he buys them it’ll stop raining, she chuckled and responded that they had already had there one sunny day this month.

We headed out again and rolled through whistler a bit later. We were making good pace cruising along the scenic road that goes through whistler and then heads north when I got a nice speed-woble via my rear tire blew out and the tire-bead separated from the rim. I was able to slow the bike down and come to a stop without dumping the bike along the side of the road. The feeling of your bead coming off the rim is a very distinct feeling and I new immediately that I had gotten a flat, though it was alarming as to how fast it had happened?! This meant to me that it was unlikely to be something small and must have been a large object or something more egregious.

I limped the bike to a better spot about 100meters down the road as we were currently on the apex of a narrow shouldered turn and began taking the rear tire off the bike.



As I removed the first half of the tire I could see that the valve stem of the tube had almost completely ripped clear of tube and was only hanging on by a thread.




This was an irreparable fix and was going to need a new tube rather than a patching. I had a spare front tube but no rear and so my dad set out to see if he could find a place in the nearest town. Seeing as it was Sunday & Father’s Day though we weren’t ambitious. I stayed with the bike and began trying to see if I could jerry-rig something to get us to a place to camp for the night until Monday when stores would be open.

Shortly afterward two people pulled over and offered me a hand and tried contacting a few of the local shops to see if anyone was open. No luck on the shops but I got some addresses of places to check tomorrow and jotted them down. Thanks for the stop Nathan and Lindsey, hope your hike at Nair Falls was nice!

I figured as I was stranded there on the road I mind as well do some maintenance and be productive so I bled my rear break as it hadn’t been biting very well since I changed the pads so I assumed I had gotten a small air bubble in the line causing the hydraulics to not work. After that I adjusted my shift lever to fit my big ass enduro boots and adjusted my rear break lever to better suit my right foot as well.

Another motorist, Dave, pulled over and asked if he could help, he happened to own a Suzuki DR400 and just may have a spare tube back at his house that might fit. He kindly offered to go check and I got back to McGivering a plan B. I took my spare front tube which is for a 21″ rim and began stuffing it into the 17″ rear rim. I packed it in, evened out the bends etc as much as I could and then pumped it up. It was fairly rigged considering but the bead wasn’t exactly set and the tire sure appeared wobbly.

I heard the distinct brrraaaaaapp of my dads KLR returning in the distance.



As he pulled up though it was a thumbs down, valiant effort though thanks dad. Dave returned shortly and he had brought his tube although it was a slightly different size. It was MUCH closer to spec than the front tube that I had stuffed in there but we heard there was a place to camp a mile down the road so we just decided to ride what I had there and wait for the local shops to open in the AM. We all got to chatting and it turns out that Dave and my Dad grew up near each other (my dad is a Canuck and grew up in Vancouver) and went to neighboring schools, and had several mutual friends! Small world “A”? Small world in deed.



They say that it is common to want to put miles under your belt the first few days and that until that happens, people sometimes get a bit antsy. As our second day ends and we still have many more miles to go until Dawson City Yukon, with not too many days to do it before Dust-2-Dawson begins, I was definitely feeling antsy. Though as we rolled into our quaint and groomed campsite for the night and cooked up a hearty dinner, a strong feeling of simple appreciation washed any negative feelings of being antsy away. Appreciation for the simple enjoyment of just being out and riding, the great roads, and the kind people you meet along the way were the only feelings I had as I went to sleep.

Looking forward to tomorrow.


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Old 06-27-2012, 10:54 AM   #19
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7: The Swing of Things

"Finding your stroke" or "Getting into the swing of things" is something that has to be found as you go along when you are doing something new, you never start out with it already in your pocket. For me, traveling long distances day-in and day-out is not something that I'm super familiar with, yet . It always seems to take a few days to work out a pace and find your “flow” as they say. For me it seems like Monday, our third day, was closer in that direction.

We woke up early after a solid - albeit short, sleep so we could swing by the nearest town to try and procure a tube that would fit my rear tire as soon as the local shops opened up. I stayed back to pack stuff up and remove my wheel again and have everything ready in hopes that a tube could be found and we could be underway asap. A bit later I here the cheerfully revving brraaaap braaap of my dad coming back into the campsite throttling his motor, signaling to me that he had found something that would work. The tube was slightly the wrong size but it would get the job done until we found a larger town which would likely have more options. I promptly stuffed the new tube into the tire, mounted it, filled my Camelback up on water from the hand-pumped campsite well and we were on our way.

The day was showing promising signs of bearing good weather and (provided we didn’t have any troubles) we were hoping to make up some miles today. "Miles", and how many of them we needed to make up for the last two days of slow-going, had been on my mind heavily. But the morning rolled on, the fog lifted, and we started making consistent ground. I felt my thoughts slowly shifting, not just my focus and dwelling on making up miles, but my overall mindset and mental state. That feeling of relaxing and settling in to the groove had pushed its way through to the front of my mind and was setting up shop. For as long as I get to just be out riding my bike I'm thinking it'll be a permanent new location for it.

In the afternoon we gassed up at a small town. My dad used to work on a river rafting outfit when he was a kid where you would get flown in way up river and then spend 7-10 days rafting down the river. Apparently this little town was where it finished and my dad hadn’t been to it since he was working that job as a kid. He said it hadn't appeared to have changed a wink in those 40 years.

The Fraser river, which is a predominant river running through BC going South down through Vancouver has been so swollen due to the rainfall this season. So full that they have had evacuation warnings in some areas where the river water is at risk of overflowing and breaking through the banks. The small town seemed to be handling all this extra water and its issues in stride though and making the best of it.



We headed out again and took what appeared to be a short cut on the map that went through a more adventurous section of the map taking us up a couple thousand feet of elevation and then also switching to dirt. This was a welcome occurrence and I was more than eager to get Keepa dirty and put her through her paces a bit.



With the altitude came a bit of condensation and light sprinkling causing the road (which is actually considered a hwy on the map) to get nice and slick with thick mud, exactly what I was hoping for. The sky broke, the sun came out, and the scenery began to open up.



We were in cattle country and there were many ranches sprawling as far as I could see adjoining one after the other. Apparently we went by one of, if not the, largest cattle ranch in Canada. There were many cattle guards and signs that read “open range, cattle at large”. At reading this I pictured gangs of roaming bandit cows lurking around unseen bends, waiting to ambush our little caravan like in the old west. The most that happened though was pop’s already bent pannier coming loose from all the bouncing around on the bumpy road and going for a tumble in the mud. The bikes performed great and I really enjoyed taking that shortcut. We eventually got spit out in a small town and we proceeded on our way north.

We rode for the rest of the day, passing through more and more towns of varying sizes and characters but all with a progressively more relaxed demeanor than the towns before. This seems to be a common trend as we head further North, if it proves to hold true it’s a good sign for places to come.

If a traveling ‘groove’ must be found only with distance and time on the road, I feel like we are slowly sinking into ours. At the end of the day I was cruising along open roads with my feet kicked up on the highway pegs, one hand slouched on my hip and the throttle locked at a steady open click, my mind starting to feel just as relaxed as my body. For the rest of the day the only thing to be seen for as far as as the long rays of the setting sun could stretched to, was the passing of vast expanses of open scenery, lush forests, meandering lakes, and open pockets of farm land scattered in between it all. Bends in the road brought on new expanses around each turn.

All of the scenery though did have a common aesthetic to it, a common 'feel' or auroa about it. As we carried on down the road covering mile after mile, all of the terrain seemed to have a sort of leading sensation associated with it that gave you the feeling of be funneled in one direction, North.

As I sit back and soak it in, if this is what it’s like to travel via motorcycle, I feel like I could get used to this. A picture that I snapped earlier in the day sums the feeling up nicely.




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Old 06-27-2012, 11:01 AM   #20
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8: Now Searving: "Miles" - Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner



For the next two days, we ate miles, looots of miles. They were served up in every way from “early morning wear-everything-you-have-almost-below-freezing” to "sweltering afternoon-sun-too-hot-to-be-sitting-still-in-riding-gear”. We were hoping to try and make it to Dawson City - which is in the middle of the Yukon, for the start of the adventure motorcycle meet-up which was in its 20th anniversary this year. To do this though we had lots of miles to ride, and so we set out to get it done.

When you are riding a popular motorcycle route around the North of America you end up running into a fair number of other motorcyclists. More often than not you continue to bump into the same people at gas stations as you push on further down the road.

Along the way we met Darby, she is a bull mastiff and was traveling with her family in her own cart/container all the way from Ohio. She seemed content chewing on plastic water bottles for amusement while her owners filled up their bikes. When it was time to roll out she would just jump right back into her deluxe trailer and cruise on down the road.



We proceeded to burn further north, passing through plenty of fog, rain, and clear blue skies.







The next day we were up at 5:00am to break camp and get to boogey-n. We didn’t stop for breakfast for a few hours but by the time we did I sure was ready for it. They say the best seasoning is hunger, and good ol’ Red River hot cereal - cooked on the back of my bike by none other than the 2nd best Red River porridge maker my dad (1st best is his dad), had never tasted so good.



As we burned further north, stretching the day into ever longer periods of time in the saddle, we started seeing more and more wild-life.











We passed from town to town riding all day long. There were hat collections (this one had more than 8,000), sign collections, and giant cinnamon roles to be had.







The cinnamon role was bomb and the owner of the only restaurant/gas station in the town was super interesting. In the winter time the Yukon Quest sled dog race goes right through this small “town” and all of the dogs/racers have a check-point at her establishment for rest and sleep. Several hundred antsy sled-dogs howling and looking to get running again must be quite the sound.

This old dog though I think was more beet than us.



We rode for 12 hours the first day of our push and 15 hours the second day to finally roll into Dawson City in the middle of the Yukon around 9pm. With the sun never setting and just going around in circles above you it’s pretty easy to get lost in time and forget about exhaustion. We had finally made it to our first main destination, the whole reason for rushing, and to catch the start of Dust-2-Dawson.

Onward.



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Old 06-27-2012, 11:21 AM   #21
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Thanks for taking me along, virtually, I don't take up any room and weigh zero pounds!
I did the alcan in '72 in a jeep when most of it was dirt, great memories! (maybe one day I'll get those 35mm slides digitized)
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:51 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rboett View Post
...I did the alcan in '72 in a jeep when most of it was dirt, great memories! (maybe one day I'll get those 35mm slides digitized)
Saweet, you should definitely get those slides digitized! When you do you should post them up on ADV
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:05 PM   #23
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Wicked 9: From Dust-2-Dawson

Dust-2-Dawson is the name of the motorcycle 'event' that we were going to and the name seemed fitting as we literally went from dusty no-mans land to all of a sudden winding up in a town in the middle of nowhere called Dawson. We finally got in around 9pm and although we had gotten up at 4:30am and been riding for 15 hours we were both pretty stoked to have made it in time for the start of the 20th anniversary of the Dust-2-Dawson meet-up, it seemed like our exhaustion was all but forgotten. The history of the meet-up – and it is in fact a meet-up “NOTA rally”, is important to understanding the significance of the gathering I want to paint the picture. Seeing as it has already been well described before I’ll let the people who truly know about it do the talking.

The quote below describes the background of Dust-2-Dawson as seen by one of its original founders who goes by the ADVrider inmate name “Fighter”:

_____________________

Ca$h Register, along with Jim Coleman and myself are the original founders of the Dust To Dawson (D2D) “gathering” back in 1992. It was hatched over a few beers in the Dawson’s Midnight Sun where we first met.


A little pre-history.

In Spring of 1990 the Alaska Last Frontier BMW Club here in Alaska receive a letter from an Oklahoma rider by the name Ca$h Register. In that letter Ca$h related this story:

Ca$h and his long time riding buddy Jim had planned a mega-trip to Alaska for 1990 and were going to attend our little local rally. They had pre-paid their entry fee and about a month prior to lift-off Ca$h collapsed in a restaurant. Heart attack.


Jim was with him at the time and tried in vain to resuscitate his best friend. Paramedics on the scene weren’t having much luck either. At Jim’s insistence they hit the go button on the paddles a third time and Ca$h’s heart lit back up. Obviously their much anticipated trip to the North was on hold. OBTW, to this day… Ca$h’s business cards include the phrase “You only live twice” Our local club, upon reading that tearful letter and hearing the story, sent a refund to Ca$h and Jim and included for each of them a club license plate frame.


Fast forward to June of 1992.

I was on a solo run to Dawson City, YT and saw two well decked out PD’s parked in front of the Midnight Sun. The Oklahoma plates with the LFMC frames caught my attention immediately. It didn’t take me long to determine who owned those two GS’s. Ca$h and Jim had finally made it to the North country after an extensive rehab. Doctors to this day are at loss to medically explain what had happened.

I introduced myself to these two holligans and another chapter or two was written.

That evening over a few adult beverages the three of us hatched a plan to tackle the Dempster and try to make the 500 mile run to Inuvik. The road had been closed for several days due to high water on the Peel River. Lack of gas at Eagle Plain was most definitely our main issue. We waited a day or two for the road to re-open and made our break. The three of us had a wonderful ride. I remember Ca$h standing on his head at the Arctic Circle. It was his 60th birthday. Both Ca$h and Jim were excellent riders as I later substantiated on my visit to Ca$h’s hometown of Dill City, Oklahoma… the summer after we all met. Two walls of Cash’s shop were smothered with trophies and plaques that both of them had earned.

Jim’s life was tragically cut short on Halloween eve 1994 while returning home from Cash’s place…… his R100GS was no match for the Suburban.


On the original 1992 Alaska trip Jim and Ca$h had taken a side trip to Eagle and both were so taken by the beauty and solitude that they made a pact with each other. The deal was struck that when either of them died, the survivor would return to the North Country with the remains of the fallen. A year later Ca$h gave me a call from Whitehorse.


“Fite… I’m on my way! Got Jim with me in the tank bag. We were doin’ a hundred on the Casiar and Jim was laughing his head off”.


I will never forget that call, nor the one I had received on the previous Halloween night.


Ca$h was retracing the exact route the two of them had taken in ’92. He camped in the same places, hit the same cafes, took pictures from the same vantage points. Had a beer at the “Sun”. Jim’s final ride with his life-long riding partner Ca$h was just as it was the first time they came north.


Ca$h (with Jim in the tank bag) rounded a hard right hander about 10 miles south of Eagle and there on that windswept mountainside stood a single tree. The anemic looking black spruce, that had survived a myriad of brutal winters, stood tall against all odds. The view was spectacular. Ca$h later told me that when he rounded that right-hander, thoughts of Jim were so vivid that Ca$h began to weep uncontrollably. The thoughts of his lost riding partner were so intense… and the pain so near…. he could barely keep his PD upright. It was on that lonely road with its breath-taking view and scrawny tree that Ca$h said his final good-byes to Jim Coleman. An emotional two man private ceremony gave way to the Jim’s final send off and a plaque being posted on the tree. Ca$h turned around and headed back to Dill City.


For many of us it has been a long time D2D tradition to make a side trip into Eagle, Alaska (on our way to/from Dawson City) and to stop at Jim’s Tree. We do it for Jim AND Ca$h. You can see in the photos where a brush fire has swept through the area. That fire, along with brutal weather conditions wouldn’t dare “mess around with Jim” The tree has been visited and annointed by many of us and the memories of both Jim and Ca$h are alive and well. It is my hope as “keeper of the Tree”…. that the tradition continues.

Carry On.
Fite

_______________________

I originally read about D2D on ADVrider when I was looking for things to see on my way through to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. After I read the above description I knew that it was something that I wouldn’t want to miss. The two day event is chock full of activities. In addition anytime 200+ adventure motorcyclists pull into a fun old mining town like Dawson City there is always a good time to be had.

We camped at a campsite across the water where a small ferry operates 24-7 bringing everything from foot traffic walk-ons to big
rigs across the briskly flowing Yukon River.







After getting set-up, pops and I split up to go explore the area. I was oblivious to the fact that it was the summer solstice that day (the longest day of the year) and we just so happened to be in an amazing location to witness it (pretty far North and access to a great look-out spot). I met some younger Dawson-locals originally from Germany who said that “if there is ever a party in Dawson, tonight is the night” and that the top of "The Dome" was the place to be. They asked if I wanted to tag along and of course, I like to party.

So I hopped on my bike and followed them up a winding steep road just outside of town. I saw another local pedaling up the steep road on a bicycle, there was only one place he could likely be going slowed down and pulled up next to him and offered a tow to the top. He looked at me and the bike with surprise and then excitedly looked for a good place to grab onto, the pannier worked great. Once we got to the Dome a few of us road our bikes right to the tippy-top where we had 360 degree views. People began showing up and getting lively for the show. A small plane was doing some pretty fun looking stunts for the crowd too.





From this vantage point later in the night you could watch the sun dip ever so briefly behind the mountain ridges to the west and then come back up about an hour later slightly to the right.



When the hour for the sun to do it's dip came, there were lots of people hanging out having a good time and celebrating this unique day so far North in this remote, but rowdy little town.



By the time I hopped the ferry back home I had been up for almost 24 hours, 15 hours of which was spent riding, and I should have been pretty beat. But with the sun never setting, being stoked about finally making it to Dawson City, and getting to see and be a part of an awesome Solstice in a unique little place, I was pretty impressed with my lack of overwhelming lethargy.



After a solid sleep, the next two days were full of riding, tom-foolery, and sometimes just shooting the shit with other riders who have all made the same crazy trek to the same out-there spot. There's a great energy about being around so many people that all love to do the same thing.







On Friday night there is a Biker Banquet where everyone gathers to eat and give awards out for things like youngest/oldest attendee, most crashes, furthest distance traveled to get here, etc. The organizers also talk about the history of the event which is so routed in the group of guys that 'started' it.







After food and drink the biker games begin and people get rowdier. The games start around 9 and go until after midnight. All of the games focus on rider skill and technique. There are Blindfold riding contests, Slow Races (those who have the best balance and can ride the slowest from start to finish line win), Ball Drops (dropping tennis balls in consecutively smaller containers while riding), and Slalom events. If you enter a “Two-up” event there is the Water Balloon Toss and Hot Dog Bite (apparently only co-ed teams or lady teams allowed).











And of course, don’t forget to do the Sourtoe Cocktail at the Downtown Hotel so you can join the ranks of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club. Story goes that the original toe was lobbed off after a Dawson City local came into the bar with frost-bite on his toe. They dropped it in some alcohol to preserve it and then things get weird and people start doing shots with the toe in the shot. Now it's a thing and you can do a shot with the toe as well, provided you buy strong enough liquor to preserve it with .







Well I can't pass up an opportunity to join the ranks of the sick and twisted so I had to do it.



For anyone wondering, the texture is like rubber.

Next up is riding the Top Of The World Highway passing over and out of the Yukon and back into ‘Merica to head to Fairbanks.
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Old 07-01-2012, 08:13 PM   #24
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10: Little Chicken, Big Character

Chicken, Alaska, the biggest little town in eastern Alaska was where we had our sights set next. It was our first destination after heading out of Dawson City and would be our first stop in Alaska. We had heard that the home-baked pies crafted up by Susan were crazy good and I am not one to pass up top notch baked goods, especially if they involve berries.

Before we headed out we wanted to do a few touristy things that we hadn’t been able to get around to yet the past couple of days. I wanted to snap a few photos of the infamous Dawson City and we also wanted to do a tour of one of the old dredges used during the big Klondike Gold Rush. These things were used to dig for gold and could move and process amounts of earth in search of gold on an unimaginable level. The one we really wanted to go see was called Dredge No. 4. What they were able to achieve in terms of infrastructure, engineering, and sheer determination that long ago is mind boggling to think about. The lengths they were willing to go to make it happen makes it so unique as well. If you stim-out on history scope the link above, it’s pretty impressive. In essence though these enormous gold-digging monstrosities floated on a small pond of water that they were constantly digging up earth in front of, sifting through and removing the gold from, and then re-depositing the sediment out the back as they inched further and further forward, zig-zagging there way through whatever area of land they wanted to dig-up.








On our way out I snapped a photo in front of the downtown hotel and snapped a few more around town. What it was like in the late 1890′s with 40,000 people in it at the height of the gold rush I can only imagine.



We milled about a bit, fueled up on gas, picked up food for the next couple days, and rode our bikes onto the small Dawson City ferry to take us across the Yukon River. We were now turning East to start heading towards the Alaskan border. The route from Dawson back to Alaska is via the Top Of The World Highway and the name is very fitting. The road cuts across a mountain ridge-line for several hours of dirt riding and eventually crossing the border out of the Yukon and into Alaska. You definitely feel like you are up on a highway in the clouds.





There was a feeling that this border would be more relaxed than most so I asked the border guard if he would snap a couple pictures for us. There are only two guards stationed here to watch over this border, just two. One for entering the US and one for entering Canada. They each live in two separate cabins right next to each other. The guy said he is stationed there for 72 days straight then he goes back home for a bit. I wonder how often they crack beers together and ignore the rules, because rules in a place that seems so far removed and remote such as this just seem silly. Who's gonna tattle on you, the single other human that's there with you?





We continued on East and the 'Murica side of the Top Of the World Highway was just as nice.





Eventually the road slowly dropped in elevation and we began to fall into a valley.





When we came across the town called Chicken there was no confusion as to whether we had found it or not, on top of that, there wasn't anything else anywhere near it so it's hard to miss in spite of it's size.

Here are some handy facts about Chicken, this was written up and posted on the saloon door:



This is it in all of it's glory.



We stepped inside the Chicken Saloon and ordered a drink from the bartender....



We then took that drink outside and walked one building over into the Chicken Cafe and ordered some BBQ chicken, served up by the none other than the same guy who was our bartender just a minute earlier, he had just walked out the bar and into the cafe so he could serve us food as well!



We followed the food up with some of the home-baked goods that others so raved about. Some BBQ chicken, couple beers, followed up with some pie and my Dad and I were feeling preeeeetty damn good about our decision to come here. The food did not fail to impress.



We camped for free in the gravel parking lot and spent the rest of the night shooting the shit with the handful of travelers and locals that gather around this glorious small little spot. The local group of folks (4-5 people) and us sat around telling stories, mostly them telling us about Chicken and its eccentricities, us gawking at the holes in the saloon door that were blown out with their home made “panti-cannon”.


With the reluctant donation of a willing ladies thong we even got a showing of the fabled panti-cannon and they got to tack another gunpowder-obliterated undergarment to the saloon’s ever growing ceiling collection. With a thong packed in on top of two and a half shot glasses of gunpowder, the blast and subsequent concussion was deafening.





They lit another one off around 3:30am after a fair bit more drinking that had even more gunpowder in it, along with another donated thong as well. Not a single person in town batted an eye, then again, everyone in town was just them.

- – - – - – - – -

As exciting as the characters of Chicken and the panti-cannon were, it was another traveler that captivated my interest the most. He was guy in his late 70's probably, traveling with his wife in an old pick-up with a camper on the back. He didn't seem like the RVing grandparents type though and at first I had him pegged as a local, or at least a local an Alaskan, he didn't seem like a tourist or a traveler in the same way that we were. He seemed at home here, or at least in this sort of traveling lifestyle. He had a fairly quiet demeanor and spent most of the initial evening time just sitting and enjoying other peoples conversation, sipping on his beers. He had a warm look on his face and a smirk-y grin, I got the impression that he seemed like a chill guy and one of those people that has stories under his belt, and that's why he's so quiet and content to just sit and enjoy listening to other people tell stories. Me being me I got to chatting with him and that was that. With some intrigued questioning and nudging of conversation he eventually over the course of a couple hours and several beers told me all about the things he had done throughout his life, his life story was by far the most varied and extensive history I had heard from any stranger before and I found him absolutely captivating. Sort of like when you get a bit older and you realize just how fucking cool your grandpa is and how it's fascinating hearing all the things they have experienced in their long life. Everything from winning the famous Omak Suicide Horse race, sailing in St. Marks, flying bush planes in Alaska, to getting bored and deciding to train to do the famous Iditarod sled dog race at the ripe and spry age of 63. When he decided to try and race the Iditarod he moved to Alaska, built a home himself to train out of in the boonies, and 3 years later successfully completed the Iditarod race (he broke his neck the 2nd year so it took him a bit to rehab before he could successfully race it to completion).

Through talking with him I also learned that his name was Jeanne. I also learned that he was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer 2 years ago. He was very frank about his prognosis and outlook and he openly said that he would be surprised if he was still around in 2 years. He still had such a sense of calm about him when talking about this though, and his spirit was just as perky and happy as when he was talking about the other things that he had done in his life. I knew that I had to ask him more questions as it's rare that you meet someone like Jeanne. I asked him "For a guy that has done so much with your life already and always lived with a drive and passion for doing what you were interested in that moment and flying by the seat of your pants, is there anything that you know you really want to do before your time is up?"

He thought about the question pensively, but only for a moment, and then laughed and smiled with the same smile he had so easily brought forward throughout our long conversation, and said that "If there was anything left that I desired to do I'm sure that I would get out there and be doing it already!" (he was still actively traveling the world and flying his plane regularly) I drew from this that the thought of "What do I do now that I know I'm going to die soon" never really crossed his mind because he always did the things in life that he wanted to do, he never back burnered anything. Living his life up until this moment in that way allowed him to - now knowing that he doesn't have much time left - live out the last of his time in comfort about what he has and hasn't done because he always lived his life to the fullest.

In the morning I walked over to where him and his wife were camping and talked with him again over camp breakfast. Before we parted ways he said that after we had all gone to sleep he had thought more about my question that I had asked. He said that although he hadn’t come up with anything that he has yet to do or wished he'd done differently, he wanted to explain that he did understand why I asked the question. He understood that I was asking the question from a place of interest being that I am young and (hopefully!) have a lot more living to do, and was seeking any wisdom from a man who had so obviously lived his life to its fullest.

He said that if he can impart any wisdom that he has learned through his his long list of life experiences, it is that:

” there is no point in spending your life doing things you don’t want to do and that don’t give you joy. You can make all the money in the world but you need to learn how to have fun. You MUST learn how to play. Since I was diagnosed with cancer 2-years ago I haven’t had a single bad day. I simply don’t have time for bad days, so I make every day a good day. Life is short and if you can get started with that mentality young, you’ll do just fine.”

With that he ended our conversation and left me to digest. With his joyful attitude, piercingly insightful eyes backed by many years of a life well lived, he looked at his wife with a smile - who had been sitting next to him quietly sipping her coffee mug held with both hands for warmth, and said simply that they should head out and get going, saying "We have things, to go do."

If I had any question about finishing up my work in Seattle and heading South in the fall, Jeanne and his wise words sure stomped them out.
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:01 PM   #25
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Great work ginge!!! Keep the great write ups coming!!!
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:40 PM   #26
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Great work ginge!!! Keep the great write ups coming!!!
Thank you kindly, sorry they are staggered but more are a-comin. Not a bunch of interwebs up here .
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:50 PM   #27
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11: Looking for a Dead Horse



The next morning we headed out of Chicken. This place, in all of its little eccentricities, is quite the joint. If you are going over the Top of The World Highway in either direction, it's worth a stop-off for sure. Maybe it was the people, maybe it was me having no expectations, whatever it was I left with a full belly of food, as well as good times. It's a quaint little place that isn't trying to be anything it's not, and it'll likely never be anything much at all considering it's far out there location and character, and that's just the way it should stay.



We were heading for Tok, a junction of sorts, where you can either head West towards Anchorage or head North towards Fairbanks. We were en route to Fairbanks at this point to meet up with my friends Sophie and Thaddeus so we would be taking the northly route.

With all the pretty scenery and seemingly endless sunlight we quickly found ourselves burnt out and falling asleep. Nice thing about Alaska is everything is so rural that you can pretty much pull off the side of the road anywhere and more or less not be bothered. We took this as an opportunity for a quick nap and recoup on the way to Fairbanks.



When we eventually rolled into Fairbanks we had some bike maintenance to do and needed to source some parts so we went to the shop who’s name we had heard about most often from people at the Dust-2-Dawson meetup and who’s shop came highly recommended, ADV Cycle Works over on the North end of town in Fairbanks. After being in and out for several days and getting a glimpse of how they do things over there, Dan and Shawn Armstrong are quite the duo, they sure do know their way around ADV bikes, and their outfit is a great example of how a local shop should be run. Hats off to you guys

My friends Sophie and Thaddaeus now live in Fairbanks and they have been kind enough to offer up what space they have in their cabin for my Dad and I to crash there for a few days while we re-collect ourselves and then make a dart north to ride the Dalton Highway. My pops is flying back to Seattle on the 1st of June and so we are planning to do the ride to Prudhoe Bay via the Dalton Highway before then. After some last minute bike fixes (blown rear axle bearings on my Dads bike) from ADV Cycle Works we were ready to head out.

The Dalton Highway (also known as the haul road) is a predominantly dirt road that stretches from just north of Fairbanks 414 miles up to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay. It was originally built to haul goods etc up to supply the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in ’74. If you follow it all the way it takes you first up into the Arctic Circle and and then you get to continue on up to the Arctic Ocean. Where the road ends is the furthest north you can ride in the Americas. Although with the first leg of this trip my goal was only to have a good time, get a feel for what traveling via motorcycle was like, and iron out the mechanical kinks etc, I had definitely made it a personal goal to make it to the top so that I can hopefully ride to the bottom at some point as well, thus riding "Tip-to-Tip".

On the first day we waited until the afternoon in Fairbanks debating if the weather would clear. We deliberated for a bit, sat around staring at the sky twiddling our thumbs as if trying to bag an alpine summit while reading the whether seeing if a window will open up.

Fuck it, it wasn’t going to clear, my Dad only had about half a week left, and we weren’t going to let the weather sully our chances of making it to Prudhoe Bay. We set out from my friends cabin in Fairbanks and the roads progressively became more and more dirt. It's kind of cool because there is a blatant cut-off where the road just stops being paved, you can see it in the picture below. All dirt and gravel from here on out.



The further north we got the more the weather and road deteriorated making the ride a lot more fun. Man I hate super slab, at least have it be a dirt super-slab like this thing



And of course, on came the rain making everything nice and sloppy, again though, way more fun.



Around 9pm we made it into the Arctic Circle and snapped our photo’s with the famous “Arctic Circle” sign. I felt pretty touristy doing this but it was sweet to finally pop a squat in front of the sign that I had seen so many other riders take photos at as well.



My dad seems to take pictures like he's in the 1800's now, you know how you never see anyone from old photos smiling? He's all laughs and good times until a camera comes out, then it's Stone-Cold steve austin, no smiling allowed. Maybe it's a blue steel sort of thing...I'll work with him on it.



We rode until around midnight and got just past a 'place' called Coldfoot. This is the only point between Fairbanks and Deadhorse where there is a place to get gas and a place to eat and it's at about the halfway mark. We fueled up for the last time before finding a place to camp and rest up before tomorrows 230 mile push to Deadhorse. The next morning we awoke early along with birds, they seemed to be pretty into the camp scene and know how to get a snack. Kind of a wet and mangey looking chirper.





We continued on, pushing North. No need for a GPS anymore, only one road. If we loose it, we probably shouldn't be out riding motorcycles anyways. There are still trees but they are getting smaller and smaller. Although our altitude isn't very high, the winter seasons are just too harsh and long this far north that trees can't get a hold and grow. I was told that eventually we would pass 'the last tree' and then there wouldn't see anymore until we came back south again.



We started heading towards Atigun Pass which is a part of the Brooks Range and is the highest pass in Alaska that is maintained throughout the year. I've seen my share of mountains and passes but after so much flat it commanded much more presence and awe than I would have expected.



As we climbed higher it got wetter, colder, and the road got worse. Visibility was pretty low and you never really knew when you would see a big MAC truck coming downt he road in the other direction. All over you could see where trucks had run-off the road, either from poor conditions like this or from lack of attention. You can see in the photo below that what they have in place as a guard rail has been ripped out when a truck went over the edge. Not surprised though those things would barely keep a bike from going off the edge. On the 650's we can cook along at a pretty good pace, a truck would definitely not be going that quick though.



After a few more hours of riding I switched the page view on my GPS to show a map of where I was instead of my usual digital read-out of mileage, heading, etc. For the first time since I left Seattle I saw coastline and a big blue mass of ocean come up on the screens readout! Having grown up on an island in the pacific northwest and spending much of my childhood on a boat, I now seem to have a set of sea-legs and my head gets all weird and uncalibrated if I'm away from the ocean for too long. It was GREAT to see that coastline on the screen, even if it was just a digital image, I now knew where water was and everything was right in the world again. I kept the GPS on this view for the next 2.5 hours, watching the little arrow creep closer and closer to the blue water on the map.



Now that we were out of Atigun Pass we were now on the tundra. There was nothing but vast open expanses of nothingness and no more trees where to be seen anywhere. These ridges on the east behind my bike were the last geographical features to see anywhere.



After only a few minutes of being stopped Alaskas state bird, the mosquito, where on you like stink on shit and it was time to boogey on away from wherever you were. Where the hell do they come from? What could possibly be out here that has enough blood to feed the bagillions of these fuckers that seem to come out of the woodwork no matter where you are? They are like zombies that haven't seen blood in decades and they all flock to you immediately. I say burn'em, burn'em ALL with fire. (you can see how many of them there are in the bottom-left photo)



We pushed on and within the hour we had made it to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. I finally found out the discrepancy between calling it Deadhorse and Prudhoe bay. As a handy little info pamphlet held in a box at the 'entrance of town' told me, calling it Deadhorse is like calling New York city “The Bronx”. Technically Deadhorse is a place in Prudhoe Bay. Either way though the information seemed fairly suspect and sounded like there was an ongoing dispute about zip codes and titles, so take that factoid with a grain of salt.

At any rate, we made it to the top but there would be no swimming in the Arctic Ocean for me. The entire area is controlled by BP and Conoco (HUGE oil companies for those that don’t know) and they have a tight reign on everything that goes on up there. Oil is big business here...hah actually the only business that goes on here, and they don't want you in any part of it. Seeing as it is a work camp and by no means a tourist town you feel like an outsider butting into people’s business from the moment you roll into the work camp. People eye balling you left and right, looking at you like you are most certainly lost, I have never felt like such a tourist than in this place. Essentially though this is precisely what you are doing, it’s a work camp, not a tourist destination (barring the few crazies that decide they want to go as far north as they can while riding a moto). There is a sign as you enter the area that reads something to the ilk of this is no longer a public area, you are allowed here but people have shit to do, rigs to drive, and places to get to, so stay the fuck out of the way’. Obviously this isn’t verbatim, but it is clear that you are a guest at best, and it would behoove you to mind your business and not impede anyone else's.

To get to the real ocean you have to go onto BP and Conocos land, because you would be on their land and in close proximity to their oil operations, they are worried that if us non-employees were to get all self-riotous and try to fuck with their oil operation it would be bad news money-bears for them, and thus you are required to obtain a security clearance pass and a background check that takes at least 24hours. Well we weren’t keen on staying in this odd place for much longer than we needed to so we made the best of what we had.





Honestly the whole place gave me a fairly eery feeling, if you have ever seen the movie Waterworld staring Kevin Costner you’ll understand what I mean. That movie was all I could think about while I was here and all of Deadhorse reminded me of it. The similarities where just too striking. Deadhorse's bustling industrial activity, being located in a super remote place literally in the middle of nowhere, set in a harsh and barren environment where all of it’s inhabitants are completely entrenched with searching feverishly for a single highly valued resource that their society needs to survive, in this case oil.

Funny enough though that resource, which we also need to run our bikes, was $5.35 a gallon here!





As always though, the ride is the fun part, if the destination is nice, it's merely a bonus. So we got our pictures, fueled up on gas and food supplies, as the next place to get either was back the way we came some 240 miles, and then got back on the road towards Coldfoot being glad to be back on the tundra.

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Old 07-02-2012, 06:11 PM   #28
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12: Chilling in Fairbanks

After another day and a half slog-fest in the mud down the Dalton Highway back to where we had come from we made it to Fairbanks. The weather was about the same and it was fun slogging around in the mud on the way back. With relatively light bikes, although they aren't no scooter, we made good time and it was pretty straightforward sailing.







When we got back to my friends cabin in Fairbanks I snapped a few photos of pig in all her muddy glory before I cleaned her up.









After the mud had dried I noticed that there was still a peculiar wet spot on my right fork, boot, and pant-leg. Guess my right fork seal had had enough and decided it would be easier to die than do it's job. In the process it went out in a fanfare and puked it’s innards everywhere. I added new fork seals to the fix list to get done while in Fairbanks.



The last few days have been spent doing laundry (I’m traveling realitively light though so don’t really have much), eating a ton of food, hanging out with Sophie and Thaddaeus, lounging in the local hot springs, scoping out the wildlife by my friends cabin we are staying in, and trying to be a bit more Alaskan and shooting some guns.











Unfortunately my Fasha (pops, dad, etc) flew out on the 1st to get back to work so this leg of the trip together with him is complete. It's been a blast Dad and I'm stoked that we got to together and see this part of North America together! On the bright side he'll be tagging-in my buddy Koshal who will be riding the next few weeks and back down to Seattle with me. Kosh is flying in Wednesday night to meet-up with us here in Fairbanks for the 4th of July which will be sweet. After that we’ll both continue on riding South towards Anchorage and probably meet up with one of Kosh's friends from undergrad who's family lives there. Then(?)…well we’ll see where we want to go from there when the time comes. Not having a fixed agenda or plan sure is nice. For now, I’m going to continue enjoying this interesting and wild little oasis up in the north of Alaska.
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Old 07-05-2012, 05:07 PM   #29
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fantastic report

Fantastic report so far! I made my wife read it so she can hopefully 'understand me better'! (I know... fat chance!)

I wouldn't mind hearing about your riding equipment (boots, jacket, pants) and how they're holding up thus far.

Keep it up!
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Old 07-06-2012, 01:13 AM   #30
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Pleasure meeting you two in Dawson!
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