|08-05-2012, 11:19 AM||#31|
Joined: Apr 2009
|08-05-2012, 11:46 AM||#32|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World I.14 – Even more of Alaska Highway
We reach Watson Lake, a small but very nice town. Probably it is known the most due to it Sign Post Forest. A place where people started to hang all kinds of sign posts, most of them from “back home” (wherever that might be ) And with time, the place developed and become a landmark not only for the small town but for the all the region.
The notebook received in Romania as a gift before departure, found it’s own place for a snapshot.
Because the idea of leaving a sign post was becoming more and more popular, they even prepared for people who didn’t came with a sign post. So now, you could have a peace of wood and some paint and you could make your own sign right there. We didn’t do that, but instead decided to leave a more discrete sign.
Rock and Roll!
At the Information Center we find also a nice map of Canada and of course, we had to see how far we’ve traveled. Look mom, I am here!
We don’t stick too long there as we had to press on. As we leave we see an interesting sign, one that would be more common in Romania. Oh well, here there will be 200 km worth of “variations”. I wonder what kind of variations they might be…
We do not need to wait 200 kilometers to find out what’s all about. It was obvious anyway right? If when we past the sign, there was tarmac, the only variation could be that there will be no more tarmac…
A little bit of gravel dancing doesn’t hurt anyone. And the road? Well just fallow the cloud of dust. The car in front must know where it is going…
And, in worse case scenario, we have our trusty commpas ready to assist.
I know it looks like shit there, but hey it was a 1 dollar investment and it shows me where I am heading. That is good enough for me. I am only upset about the goldish look of the clip. But hmm being from Yukon I guess it had to have something “gold”.
The good thing of not starting very early in the morning is that (as I was told) animals tend to wonder less on the road at noon time. For example at about 11 AM we reach a road block.
A motorcyclist hit a bear that was crossing the street and now it was evacuated by helicopter. As the police officer told us, the guy was OK, just a little bit shocked by the encounter.
I was just thinking that since we started the trip in the North, there was no day when we didn’t see at least one animal on the road or near the road. Big or small, there was always something there. For example have a look at this picture and tell me quickly how fast you see the “things” in it.
1 second, 2 second, enough so you could break in time? And you saw them both, right?
Luckily, these two Stone Sheep were not on the road. But we’ve encountered other which were.
With the picture taken, we can do some post-processing so we have it better. Here we go.
We also saw bears. Two of them. Black. No pictures of them as by the time Andreea was getting the camera ready I was long gone from there.
But we did stop to see this gentleman:
He didn’t cared too much about us and he continued his siesta. I do not know if he was there on the look-out (if yes, he was not doing a very good job) as just half a mile later we met the hole family.
Most of them seemed peaceful but I wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of this guy for example
Hmm and if you are bored with wild animals, here you go, something that is more common on the streets also back home, in Romania
These horses were not tied and had no markings but still, I do not think they were wild horses. They looked to be cared for….
And yes, finally we see a moose. Or at least we think it is a moose. She ran off quickly in the forest with her cub. Just managed to take this snapshot.
So, is she a moose or an elk?
Besides the big ones, we also see all the time small animals crossing the roads. Squeals and chipmunks. They are harder to catch in a picture but during one of the breaks we’ve traded some peanuts for a photo session with this little one.
SO this is the thing with animals. They are here omnipresent. you have to get used to that. And pray to God none will just jump in front of your motorcycle in the last moment. And of corse, go slooow.
Besides these wildlife we also encounter on the road other kind of “mammoths”. But these ones are more predictable.
We reach Whitehorse and we meet Pat and his family. We will stay with them for 3 days and enjoy a short break. They are wonderful people and take very good care of us. We also have “short” walk and the mosquitoes from the area take good care of everyone. So we hide as good as we can.
Pat is a motorcyclist too. He has a very nice KLR and we have short ride together. Sadly he cannot join us up North and we have to move on. But we will be back in Whitehorse when we will return from Alaska. Thank you so much for having us!
Next time we will reach a town which is stuck in time. And also Gunnar will have to handle it’s first long gravel road. Stay tuned!
The route covered by this post:
Whiten from the same Gulliver’s library. This time without chocolate. In 30 minutes we’ll be on the road again!
|08-05-2012, 12:23 PM||#33|
Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Farmhouse Inn, Tellico Plains, TN
yes indeed that was a moose. Moose are larger than elk, and all dark brown. Elk have bodies light brown colored like white tail deer, but have dark brown head and neck.
Here's an elk for ya..
|08-07-2012, 07:49 PM||#34|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World I.15 – Dawson City and the road to Alaska
Yeee so it was a moose. Thanks for clearing things up :)
From Whitehorse there are 2 majore ways into Alaska. One is to continue on Alaska Highway towards West. The other way is a little bit longer and tedious and is going North towards Dawson City first and then turn Westwards.
We took of course the later route. Not just because we wanted to take the longer way but because a lot of people told us that Dawson City is a place to visit. So we change the road but not the particularities. Same woodsy views, same nice curvy road to enjoy. But wait, there is something else. It is getting COLD! And we are in August so mid summer. But it must be below 15 degrees Celsius. When sunny. So we stop to put on us as much as we can.
We pass through little settlements like this one:
And these people were eating ice cream and staying out only in T-shirts. No wonder they were so few. And we must have been a sight for them, all dressed up lie we were going to North Pole. But for us was really cold. And to think that back in Romania there are 40 degrees Celsius right now…
During my last post I was telling you about all the animals we’ve met on the road. Well, I missed one. And is one of the most common in these parts: the mosquito! It could very well be a local mascot. We were told that if it is a good year for mosquitos and they are at their highest it is so bad that people think twice if they really need to leave the house (even with all the repellant). Well a picture with the mosquito we do not have but hey, here’s one with a “statue”. If you cannot get rid of them you might as well build them statues, right?
We reach the Dempster Junction, which as probably everybody knows is a 670 kilometers gravel road to Inuvik, up North. And then it is dead end. You have to turn back the same 670 kilometers of gravel. Even back in Romania we were thinking if we should include this road in our trip or not.
It was a decision which could be postponed yet another day as now it was getting late and rain was coming fast on our tracks. So we moved on to Dawson City for the night.
And for the first time in our trip, we caved in and went to a Hotel. At least it was a nice hotel (and not too expensive)
Yeap, the entrance had even the small swinging doors that you can see in western movies. We are parking Gunnar on the side street, right near other “steeds”.
A VStrom 650 and three BMW GS 1200. Gunnar is not in a bad company at all. Two out of those 3 GS went around the world and so Gunnar would have a thing or 2 to discuss with them.
And I was going to do the same with the owners which I met inside. Two guys from Vancouver (one of them a long overland traveler al around the World) and the third one from South Africa, just on hi last leg of a huge trip.
Dawson City is a quite isolated city. There are only 2 main routes that go in and out the city. One is route number 2, the one we took to come up from Whitehorse. And then there is route 9 that heads towards Alaska, the Top of the World Highway.
We knew from our friends that the city is nice so the next day we took out the camera for a walk in the city.
You almost start to believe that the cars are out of place here. Where are the horses?
Horses we are not able to find but we do see other motorcycles. Close enough…
And as we were just wondering on the streets, we meet Rodney who was just riding his Tenere from South America to Alaska. You can check his webpage here. He is from Australia and on the road for a year now. Wow, he’s coming from down south so of course we have a lot of questions. We start talking right in the middle of the street and we get a long well. He was just returning from Dempster Highway and he confirms me that on a wet surface it is not fun at all. I think about my options. Should we go on Dempster? If it will remain sunny we should be fine. But still there are 670 kilometers there and 670 back on the same road. Argh… I am not really digging that. And also on the weather forecast they were saying that from tomorrow the weather might change for the worst with clouds and even some showers.
You know what? I think I want to skip Dempster Highway. I am sure that Inuvik is very nice. But I don’t feel that my first adventure on gravel ever in my life should be 1340 kilometers long. Andreea fully supports the decision. And also Rodney becomes very interested when he hears about the weather forecast. You know Top of the World Highway is also gravel… Not 670 kilometers but still a good 200 and something. If the weather is going to get worse, we should take advantage now and go.
We look around and we decide to go. Rodney is kind enough to travel with us. He says I shouldn’t be alone on my first adventure on gravel roads! And he is right! I am very glad that we will ride together.
I tell him that I am a beginner and also, on gravel probably will be even slow. he motions me to ride ahead and he will follow.
We are also reminded that there will be a Customs to clear and we should mind our time.
And we venture out on Top of the World Highway. Before getting there I was really doubtful about the name. But man they are so right naming it Top of the World. Everything around is beneath us. Clear views for miles and miles. And the white clouds are SO close! Extraordinary. I would just like to say that our pictures really do not do justice to those places… Still, here we go…
The dry parts of the road are very good. I mean it is almost like tarmac. But when we get to some wet parts, well let’s just say that the bike starts to dance in all directions. Not funny at all.
For the first time in my life, I think I am slower than the “Follow me” car, on that mud.
After what seemed like a long time (but only 150 kilometers really), we reach the US Customs and some tarmac as a reward.
It was the easiest border crossing into the US ever. The Customs building was just a wooden lodge with only two guards. One asks me “Where is home?” “Home is Romania” I reply. I see he is trying to locate that in his mind and I just hand him the passports, specifying that we have visas. A big smile, a short check of documents and that was it. No endless questions about family, job back home, income, how much money we have and so on and so forth. Just “Welcome to the United States of America”. The atmosphere is so relaxed that we are even allowed to take some pictures
And we are in Alaska. IN ALASKA! Wow, just 1 year ago and we could only dream about reaching this far away place. And now it is happening. And we’ve entered after riding such an amazing road. And we were not alone. Meeting Rodney was such a nice surprise and we were happy to ride together.
Until the camping site we still had some few gravel miles to go but that is for the next post. Stay tuned!
Distance traveled since last posting: 642 km
Writen with my hands still smelling of engine oil. Gunnar just had his oil and filter changed and he is good to go for another 6000 kilometers
|08-10-2012, 12:45 PM||#35|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World I.16 – Meet Alaska!
The road from the border post onwards continues to amaze us.
Corner after corner, stunning views of “nothingness”. This is a wild country indeed.
First settlement we find in Alaska is Chicken. Yeah, that was funny for us, especially since close by there is also one called Eagle. I wonder if they had in the past some special games or festivals.
We are feeling hungry so we stop for lunch. We don’t play along and we do NOT order something with chicken. Hehe… I guess the locals are so tired of all the jokes. Or maybe not as we see some funny signs put up.
While at the table, we are not alone during our lunch. We find a new friend on the chair next by:
We have some shots but using other, more “serious”, requisite.
For the night we do not have a clear destination so we continue as long as we can
We end up in Tok where we sleep in a camping right by the airport. That was the end of a good riding day with no problems!
|08-13-2012, 03:18 PM||#36|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World I.17 – A bit of North Pole and a lot of Alaskan hospitality
Next morning we realize that we slept exactly near the airport. A little bit closer and we could have pitched the tents under the airplane wings.
Last evening we discussed over dinner what should we do once we reach Fairbanks. Dalton Highway and it’s endpoint Deadhorse is indeed a very popular point, especially for those who travel all the way on the North-South route. Very similar to Dempster highway, 650 kilometers of gravel ending up in a Oil camp. Hmm we postpone the decision for later, depending also on the weather we will find in Fairbanks
In Tok we meet Thomas, a German guy who bought a pick-up car, and was spending his vacation in Alaska. When he heard we are going to Fairbanks he commented “Why are you going to Fairbanks, if not for the Dalton? And the road from here to there is sooo boring!”
“We don’t know yet… but we are going”.
And yeah, he was wright, the road to Fairbanks could be considered quite… uneventful. But on the other hand it is all in the eye of the traveler. For example we went again through acres and acres of burned forest.
It was interesting to find out that these trees burn very quickly leaving nothing but scorched roots. And the speed the fire is traveling could be very high. Even 40-50 miles per hour. So one cannot run from it. You could take refuge in a lake. Of course you would have to share the space with all the animals in the area that can swim…
Seems that fires are a too-common event in the great North. They even have warning levels for fire hazard.
On a more happy note, during one of our stops, Andreea found these.
And yes, she can eat them without taking the helmet off. She can do a lot without taking her helmet off when it is cold outside
And when we were close to Fairbanks we had to stop yet again as we just entered… North Pole!
In the visitors center we found a map with pins showing the places where visitors were coming from. So we had to stick one in Bucharest on the map. We were the first ones from Romania it seems.
We reach Fairbanks and we start to look for accommodation. We had a host from CouchSurfing but the problem was that we were too early in the city and we were not sure if he was at home or if we could stay at him and Rodney as well. Rodney decides to check out the University Dormitories which during summer when the students are away one might find a clean room. Me and Andreea remain behind to have lunch and try to find out if our host is in town.
I was feeling quite off after the ride and having a small headache, I propose to have a cafe. Just across the street from the pizza place, there was a book store named Gulliver’s, and at the second floor we find some refuge with hot cafe between the books.
It was getting late and we still didn’t knew where we will sleep. We were starting to think about joining Rodney at the dormitories when something happened.
A guy came to our table and said “sorry, you will have to move from here, we need to rearrange the tables as from 7 we have a presentation”.
“OK, we were about done anyway. No problem”
“But you could stay at the presentation, it is about K2 peak”. “we would love to, but we have to go and find a place to sleep, we just got in town”. “hmm for how long you need to stay in Fairbanks? You could stay at my place”
…. “are you serious?” “Yes, my name is David, and I am the owner of this bookstore. You see that house? It’s mine. You can stay with me for 1 or 2 days, I have a spare bedroom”
We look at him in disbelief but he was very serious. So, what else could one say? Thank you! And in this way, we got to have a place to stay, we met a great guy, David, who was very happy that he was only 2 months to retirement and making plans to travel himself. And as a bonus, we got to see the presentation about K2 peak and meet a Sherpa native.
Alaska is cool!
Next time we get to see if we end up on Dalton and which will be the Northern most point of our trip. Stay tuned!
Written from a nice bakery where the best product is heat.
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|08-13-2012, 05:42 PM||#37|
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Belton, Mo.
2009 KTM 300 XCW
2007 KTM 990 Adventure
2003 KTM 300 EXC
2003 KTM 50 mini adventure (boys)
|08-16-2012, 02:30 AM||#38|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World I.18 – North of Fairbanks
A soft breeze scatters the sun’s light across the deck. My boots are laying beside, and I’m standing bare feet and watch as white mountain peaks fly by in slow motion while the ferry moves through the fjord. It is warm and nice lie it hasn’t been since a long time. It is summer. But my mind is racing back to some colder days. Just a few days and 1000 miles back, when we were “North of Fairbanks”.
So the question was, how far should we go on Dalton Highway. Should we go at all? We decide we will not go to Deadhorse, but if the weather is good, we should go, at least for a while. We weak up and see that the weather is good. This means it is not raining. It is still heavy overcast and is cold. But hey, it is not raining. So we are good to go.
And after a few minutes, things change. To worse. It rains now. But hey, at least we have tarmac in very good condition!
We climb in white clouds and again we change the conditions to… damage road.
With all this changes, we almost totally missed a very important milestone. Gunnar past his 30000 kilometers mark. Uhuuuu celebration!
The scenery remains gloomy, which of course has it’s own appeal.
And then again we “downshift” again to off-road. Well in fact to “off-tarmac” and on wet dirt road.
We lose the tarmac but we find a traveling buddy. In fact the one and only reason this road exists, the pipeline is carrying crude oil from the far North to the town of Valdez, down in the South.
We realize that in Livengood there are no services so no gas for us. So we decide to press on to Yukon River crossing as I remember from advrider.com that there is a gas station there.
In from of us we have this:
And behind us pretty much the same:
Wild, gloomy and endless. Here is a perfect place to feel alone. And you would be wrong. We are not alone!
At least they were speeding on their side of the road. But these guys on the other hand, were coming “full spead ahead” (hehe) on our side of the road. Now that was a sight, seeing me trying to scramble on the opposite lane…
But we find compassion from other 2-wheels travelers
We advance slowly and cautiously. We keep looking ahead expecting to see the big water. Well, we do see water but in a different form. It was not Yukon.
After what seemed like an eternity, we reach the mighty Yukon. Wow, what a sight! The river is truly magnific!
We have fun on the inclined bridge and we fuel up with some very expensive gas. It was almost the same price as in Europe. Sigh!
We have lunch there and think what to do next. Wise would be to return. But also wise would be not to ride again in the rain. And from where we just came, everything was dark and gloomy. Further North though, things were looking better. And the Arctic Circle is only 60 miles away. Let do it!
The decision seems to be a good one. After a while moving North we even see a small wonder!
Like any wonder, it doesn’t last long, but the sky remains OK. We finally reach the Arctic Circle. We are happy like little kids in Christmas Eve.
Yes, I know that I’ve been to the Arctic Circle last year. And even much more to the North. But somehow it doesn’t feel the same. Last year it was tarmac all the way, during a very nice day, and when I got there, I found Santa’s home, Post Office, Souvenir Shops and tons of tourists. Here there is just a sign in the wild, no Santa, no shops, no nothing. Good! It is very good like this.
We take out our national costumes and the flag. They deserve a picture here!
On our return trip, we remember each one of the 180 miles back to Fairbanks.
The most anticipated point from the return trip was the beginning of tarmac.
From now I knew that the most difficult motorcycle ride I ever had so far was going to end OK. From now on, I knew that we will reach home safely.
The alarm sounds sharply and the captain informs us that we are minutes away from our destination. We can already see the big cruise-ships docked in the port. It is time to put my boots back on and go to the car deck where Gunnar awaits. It is time for another ride. But this story will follow in another day.
|08-16-2012, 12:20 PM||#39|
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Baja Sur Mexico, Newport Beach
Good Job... Your RR is fantastic I really have been enjoying your Adventure... And love your perspective...Also kudo's to you both for Riding a Wet Chip Seal Road 2-Up... I know it can get your attention at times.. I had wet conditions on the Dempster in 2010 ... Keep posting waiting for more.......
|08-19-2012, 12:26 PM||#42|
Joined: Nov 2009
The New World I.19 – The Tall One
Wow! I am so glad you are following. I imagined that for you guys, a trip here is just a trip in your "backyard" so nothing too special. But let me just tell you that we are amazed by these places. Incredible.
So let's go on...
What’s the big deal with this mountain? Well it is the tallest in America. North America that is. Hmm and they say it is very hard to spot it’s peak as most of the time it is surrounded by clouds. For example in 2012 a guide told us that there were only 6 clear days when you could see it. Hmmm I am thinking this might be just a “marketing” tactic coming from all the tour operators. If you see the mountain then you feel very special, and if you don’t (of course there are also som cloudy days) then at least you console yourself with the idea that it is very very hard to see it.
When we start from Fairbanks the sun shining and the sky is clear. Surely, 150 miles South it will be the same. Or not. As we approach the Moutain Range things get gray.
Hmm, maybe all the story with the Denali weather is not mambo-jambo. And as indifferent as I might want to look, I know inside that I would be very sorry to come all the way from Romania to here and not see Denali. Not even the monsters we see on the road do not cheer us up.
Of course there is a national park around the Mountain. And you could spend there days doing all the activities they have prepared for you. For the right time and money. Or at lest you could take the bus tour and see the animals. Unfortunately we do not have the time to do that. Also sitting for 6-8 hours in a bus is not that appealing. Why do that when you could ride for 6-8 hours?
We press on but we see that the situation on the sky remains gloomy
But as we haven’t stopped in Denali Park we have time for goofing around. Can you spot Gunnar in this picture?We reach the Southern observation point. Very nice place, for viewing the mountain. if the weather permits. But in our case…It was kind of funny as where we were it was nice and sunny. But still over the Denali a big cloud.
We wait around for about an hour, changing impressions with some Chinese tourists which just got of from a bus, everybody hopping for the same thing. Which it did not happen. Feeling also out of place there and under-dressed, we decide to leave. We did see part of the mountain but not the peak. And we settled for that.
That night we were supposed to reach Talkeetna, which is a very small and VERY touristy town. Luckly for us, we didn’t had to play tourist as we had a host waiting for us. He was very nice and relaxed. Living outsite the town in the woods, he showed us around. At some point he said I can take you to a place from where you could see Denali. Really, you can still see it from here, even if we are 150 miles away from it? OK, let’s go. Probably it will still be in the clouds like 2 hours ago but we might as well see the view. And we go. And then, we see this. we see IT!
Wow! We are speechless. For minutes we just stare silently. We are more than 150 miles away but still we get this view. I do not think any photo could do it justice. More than 20 000 feet tall, Denali, “The High One” is indeed impressive. Tallest mountain in North America. More than 1000 people try to climb it each year. About half of them summit it. But figures are not so important. The view is spectacular.
This place should be on the list of “Places to see in your lifetime”. Bogus or not, we are happy that the story with “not so many days of clear weather” worked out for us in the end. We spend there a good deal of time just gazing to the horizon. This mountain pushes you to dream high.
I’ll let our Nikon to finish the story. It will do it much better that I would. So here it is…
Voi lasa Nikon-ul nostru sa incheie aceasta poveste. O face cu siguranta mult mai bine decat as putea sa o fac eu.
I wish you high dreams! And then go fulfill them!
|08-19-2012, 09:03 PM||#44|
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Charlotte, Y'all
Good writing, great pics! Subscribed...
|08-20-2012, 04:11 AM||#45|
Joined: Mar 2003
Location: Jennings, Louisiana
Beautiful! Keep it going! Great pictures of the mountain.
A '00 KLR 650 40,000 miles, A '07 1250S 74,000 , A '03 5.3L Chevy Truck 78,000 + '43 style dude , Simper Fi ;-)
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