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Old 09-29-2005, 03:06 PM   #61
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Hard Work - Riding and Writing

sorry to keep you guys hanging. but it's coming. i swear, it's coming. I'll bet by the end of the weekend we'll be right up to date with more characters, photos, pending disasters, broken parts, hot babes and much more...

thanks for the good words. Trying to make this fun and interesting. Takes time sometime, and shitty internet connections frost me to no end...

smiles
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Old 09-29-2005, 03:29 PM   #62
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So What If I Did Make A 300 Mile Wrong Turn?

So What If I Did Make A 300 Mile Wrong Turn?

Riding into the sunset sounds alluring, romantic and paints a seemingly scenic word picture, however the reality of such an activity on a rocky, dirt and sandy road is far from the wonders and thrill of an Alaskan motorcycle ride especially after riding a long 6 hours on the same road.

Riding the same road twice sends a particularly disdaining emotion through my nerves particularly when there are only a handful of roads in Alaska and I aim to ride as many as possible. But there I was riding into the sun tempting fate on the wheel bobbing and jerking rocks when pulling my left hand off the bar to shield the sun from my eyes. The occasional wind, car or truck would cast a fog of dust which filtered the sun into beaming and blinding streams of light.





Yet with all this complaining the beauty still surrounded me. Fields of fire weeds, these beautiful purple flowers, lined the road and as the road once again twisted through Eagle Summit I gazed to my right to see this stranger following me. Mimicking every move I did yet absent of detail, emotion or clarity. Who was it? The shadow crept along side of me as the sun made its move. My shadow. A stranger or my intimate friend. The further I rode, the larger it grew until it became larger than me. Bigger than life. Who is that? And why is he following me?

When I walked into the bar at Chatanika Lodge some 130 miles from my chance meeting with Dick Hutchinson, the utility entrepreneur and northern lights photo kingpin of Circle City Alaska the sun was gone and the sky was a murky and dusty grey. My body sore, eyes weary and muscles tired. Two things were on my mind. A beer and a bed. Food wouldn't be bad either.






I explained to Carol, the owner of my misfortune and crazy wrong turn that sent me on a 300 mile goose chase to the Chatanika Lodge see sympathized. But unfortunately every room was occupied by the construction crew that has been working on the road for the last month or so. But a beer was no problem and while the cook had already taken off his apron and was ready to belly up to the bar for his own beer, he tied the dirty cloth back around his waist and asked "whatever you want?"

It had been Mexican Night at the Chatanika Lodge. I had recognized the pattern earlier in the trip as I made my way into smaller and smaller settlements in the wilderness. With typically just one cafe or restaurant in each town, the menu is diversified through ethnic nights. Chinese night. Mexican night. You get the idea. A burrito and a beer sounded good to me. Done.

Carol suggested that I ride another few miles down the road and see if a room was available at a neighbor lodge. But seeing the despair in my face when the thought of hopping back on that bike she offered to let me crash on the couch in the lodge's living room. I accepted.

That's when Buck Smith and his son walked into the bar. With a round and disarming face, Nearly 70 years old, clad in leather, wearing deerskin gloves he slams his fist on the bar and in a confident voice asks "you serving whisky in here?"

The short female bartender who had been showing off her custom personalized billiard cue stick pushes her face toward his and says "depends on what you're looking for?"

Buck grabs the bar with both hands looks straight into her eyes and says "Give me a diet coke!" His short stuffy fingers leafed through his wallet while I sensed confusion and bewilderment as he rifled through the bills. He pulls out some cash and lays it on the bar.

"I think my mom's been into my wallet again," he says shaking his head. He shows me his 1500cc cruiser, a Suzuki Intruder, that he converted into a trike. Shiny, clean and a monster it's the antithesis of my bike. But the two bikes standing next to each other with the respective owners in contrasting leather and high-tech fabric riding suits we are still of the same ilk. We love to ride.

"I better get going now," he tells me after chatting for 15 minutes. "Before my mom worries about me."

I chuckled at the thought of a 70 year old man who's mom borrows money out of his wallet and who must be home before curfew. Then I thought to myself. It's time I call my mom. I'm sure she's wondering about me.
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Old 09-29-2005, 03:41 PM   #63
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Legendary Lodge In Alaska For Sale - Wife Too?

Legendary Lodge In Alaska For Sale - Wife Too?

The construction crew got up much earlier than me. Careful not to wake me they grabbed coffee to go from the pot brewing in the living room and went to work on the road.

Rubbing the sleep from my eyes I wandered into the bar area where Ron, Carol's husband, was shooting the breeze with one of the locals.

"Coffee?" I nod. He points to the Bunn burner and pot behind the bar. "Cups are below." I gesture for cream and sugar and Ron simply sits on the stool and points and shouts directions. I love this. Feeling local I just help myself.

"So you're the guy that made the wrong turn, huh?" He bellows out a grunt of a laugh as he busies himself cleaning the bar and restaurant area. "That's funny."

I explain that I gotta get on the road and thank him for the coffee and couch. "You're not going up there until you have some breakfast," he asserts. "Come on you need something to eat." I agree and while the eggs are cooked he tells me about the Chatanika Lodge.





The first lodge he built in the 70's and when it was destroyed by fire years later, he built it again. "I'm tired. Done. Ready to get out." The Chatanika Lodge is for sale. Handcrafted with some of the most amazing collection of burl wood and other native Alaskan Timber. The lodge has soul. From the bar, to the rooms, to the game room and to the cordoned off room that displays Ron's pride and joy: a 1955 Ford Thunderbird convertible. Flanked by life-size cardboard cutouts of Marilyn Monroe and other icons of the era, I'm sure Ron is ready to ride this during the Alaskan summers rather than tend to his lodge.

"I'm a slave to this place," he reveals, "this is better for a younger man. "Yep, the place is for sale, and depending on the price, the wife goes with it."

I'm not sure where it started, but somewhere norther of BC I heard more and more men simply refer to their lifelong partner as "the wife". If you know someone looking to get away from it all, check out the Chatanika Lodge just northeast of Fairbanks in the last frontier.

Bidding my new friends farewell, I head to meet my fate on the legendary Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle and Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean.
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Old 09-29-2005, 03:48 PM   #64
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Good stuff! Thanks for sharing!


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Old 09-29-2005, 09:02 PM   #65
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I love this local stuff...This is really what Adventure riding is all about...not just riding by but stopping and being a part of it. Good stuff my friend...really good.
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Old 09-29-2005, 09:29 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by KTM265
I love this local stuff...This is really what Adventure riding is all about...not just riding by but stopping and being a part of it. Good stuff my friend...really good.
Bingo Dr. KTM. It's not about just riding by, taking a picture and riding to the next landmark to check something off the list. Though there are some days I'm just looking to chill. I'm having a lot of fun riding, writing and talking to the locals.

Stay tuned!
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Old 09-29-2005, 10:21 PM   #67
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Arctic Circle or What?





Seriously. If you were heading in the direction of the Arctic Circle, which way would you go?
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Old 09-29-2005, 10:32 PM   #68
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To The Arctic Ocean - Dalton Highway Day #1

To The Arctic Ocean - Dalton Highway Day #1

If you've been following my ride for the last week or so you're undoubtedly sick of hearing about this Dalton Highway, or the haul road as it was called before it has become something of a tourist attraction for the adventure minded looking to brave it to the Arctic Circle and for the perhaps suicidal who wish to venture beyond to the Arctic Ocean.





The Dalton Highway begins 84 miles north of Fairbanks and ends 414 miles later in the town of Deadhorse on the Arctic Ocean's Prudhoe Bay. This road goes further north than any other road in North America.

About the same time our astronauts were exploring the lunar surface of the moon, geologists and oil company engineers were exploring the tundra of Alaska's north slope. And while Armstrong and Aldrin didn't find cottage cheese on the moon, in 1969 oil was discovered in similarly desolate terrain. This at a time when Alaska's economy was still trying to recover from the boom days of the gold rush and the massive earthquake that rocked the southern part of the state in the mid 60's. Oil would revitalize Alaska but the process of getting oil from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the motorhomes, automobiles, plastic processing plants and more would prove to be a major challenge for Alaska and the rest of the United STates.

The oil flowed directly under Native land claims. And environmental groups were extremely weary about oil company claims that precautions would be taken to minimize disruption. Finally after claims were settled, environmental groups pacified and investment dollars in place, the Trans- Alaskan Pipeline was approved in the early 1970's.






Overcoming permafrost, mountain ranges and the wacky and winding waters of the Yukon River, the pipeline and the Dalton Highway were built in just three years between 1974 and 1977. This pipeline would send the valuable oil nearly 1,000 miles south to Valdez, just east of Anchorage.

The truckers who make riding this road a menace to motorcyclists and automobiles a like still call it the Haul Road. After all, it was built for truckers and still is their road.



And you can tell by the way they drive it. For the first 4 or 5 years until after its completion the road was open only to commercial traffic. It's called the Haul Road, because everything needed to support building the oil fields, the pipeline and the road itself was hauled on this road on giant tractor trailer trucks. But in 1981, the state of Alaska named it after James B. Dalton, a lifelong Alaskan and expert in arctic engineering who was involved in early oil exploration efforts on the North Slope. The road at this time was only open to milepost 211. Finally, just ten years ago in 1995 the road was opened for public access all the way to Deadhorse, the industrial oil camp at Prudhoe Bay.

Eager to wet my feet in the Arctic Ocean I finally turned onto the road I thought I was riding early yesterday, the James B. Dalton Highway. Dick Hutchinson assured me this would be easier than the long ride to the end of the Old Steese Highway, which I soon learned was my fabled 300 mile rocky dirt wrong turn. Here the road turns to packed dirt and gravel.

Within the first 10 miles I ride through the charred timber from the Erickson Creek Fire which burned for more than a month and burning nearly 118,000 acres. But signs of life in the radiating fireweed that blankets the ground scattered with burnt stumps and sticks.






Planning for this ride I knew that fuel could be an issue. With only two gas stations between the start of the highway and Deadhorse at the end of the road, it's important to take advantage of every fuel stop. My first would be at the Yukon River crossing. With a little cafe and gift shop I topped off the tank and met a fellow adventure ride, Ramon. Riding a KLR650 he was returning from the ride to the Arctic Ocean and would eventually make his way down through the lower 48. Without an itinerary or agenda he was simply on his own solo adventure. His biggest regret would be not getting a good jacket. Cursing his First Gear riding jacket for chafing his neck and the velcro strap belting him in the face, he hoped to find a shop to get something good. A reminder of those who try to adventure with gear that may suit a weekend or weeklong journey, but for extended adventures the importance of a good relationship with gear and clothing you'll become all too intimate with can't be overstated. I was happy with my riding suit though in dire need of a cleaning -- this would have to wait.

As I continued up the road a few large big rigs had me eating dust and construction crews watering the dirt and gravel had me side-winding like a snake through the slick mud. But overall the road wasn't as bad as my previous day. Confident and thrilled to be riding fresh and on the road north, I kept the throttle rolled and my eyes on the road.

Soon I found myself on a steady incline as I rose to feast my eyes on the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, the smoke from fires burning nearby in Fairbanks had blown my way and any wildlife had long migrated away from these flats. I continued winding my way through Tundra and brush when I was treated with a surprise -- pavement. After nearly 100 miles of gravel and dirt, I was happy to crank up the speed and make more time while taking in my first views of the Arctic summer.

Then I crossed it. The Arctic Circle. A milestone that had been on my list for years and one that I thought I'd check off yesterday, but here I was standing on the Arctic Circle. Perhaps slightly anticlimactic save for the photogenic sign and sense of accomplishment, but after a few snaps of the shutter I was eager to get to the Ocean.





As I rolled closer to Coldfoot Camp I blew by the first entrance and then the second. I wasn't clear to me which way to turn. So I slowed watched a big rig approach me from the opposite direction and slowly started to make a U-turn after it passed. Then it happened. And I'm not sure how. But as I made my u-turn and crossed the crest of the road my bike started to fall. Going to slow and spacing on goosing the throttle the bike fell to the high side. I stuck out my bad and broken foot to try to catch it, but the weight and the pain bolting through my foot sent me down. All at a couple miles per hour. The young guy in the rusted out old Pontiac Sunbird helped me get on my way. But I felt a setback to any healing of that foot and the weight of the bike and its gear pushed the Jesse bag closer to my gas cap making it impossible to open it wide enough for refueling. Ahhh. A mild predicament.






The second gas stop is exactly 240 miles from Deadhorse, the only other gas on this road, is in Coldfoot. Coldfoot Camp proudly touts its claim to fame as the northern most truck stop in the world And it is a truck stop. Dusty, dirty, noisy and expensive. But it's got gas. And with a riding range of just over 200 miles, I'd have to plan my continued ride to Deadhorse carefully. With two 1.5L spare fuel cans, I'd have no problem getting to Deadhorse.

In 1900, early prospectors early prospectors got cold feet as the winter set in and left this camp which has taken on the name Coldfoot. Nearly 8pm and tired from riding 200 miles and breathing the dust from the road and smoke from the air, and with an aching foot and obstructed gas tank, I figured this would be a good reason to call it a day here in ColdFoot Camp.

For $45 the small mechanic/hack shop in Coldfoot managed to help me straighten the bag and rack slightly enough to get the fuel cap open. Shelling out another $145 for a room, beers and some grub I once again the captive audience is taken advantage of and pays its price -- there was no way I'd set up my tent with the pain still shooting through me previously healing broken foot. Such is life on the Dalton Highway - Day 1.

----------------
Stats:
Chatanika, AK to Coldfoot Camp, AK 8-10-05
Moving Average: 45.4 mph
Maximum Speed: 72 mph
Moving Time: 5:45:55
Total Miles: 262
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Old 09-29-2005, 10:37 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by Elefant 900 Rad
So Worldrider, I just skimmed the last part of your post about Alaska. I take it you didn't do the Haul Road to Deadhorse ??

I did it a few weeks ago, it was a blast and well worth doing. That ride seemed to be a little adventure in itself.

Enjoying your write-up, keep it coming.

Thanks,
Nope. I made it. All the way to the top. And back again. Just got the first day posted. So go check it out: Thanks or the good words. I'm having fun with this.
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Old 09-30-2005, 10:26 PM   #70
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OK, so what is the story with your foot? I'm not sure what boots you are wearing but I would recommend getting some sort of high support boot...MX boot, Alpinestars...etc. If you can find a local doctor...many have air splints however you can also find these at Walgreens or even Wal-Mart and avoid the medical expense as well as the evil eye you'll get from the doc.

Good luck, keep up the reports...
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Old 10-01-2005, 03:01 AM   #71
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Im enjoying your entertaining journey. I was at Prudohe Bay on 22nd June. You had me thinking when you went past Eagle Summit on your way north, I thought this guy has taken a wrong turn. I made a lot of wrong or missed turns on my journey but you end up in places you hadnt planned to go to and meet some of the nicest people. Good maps help and read them at every stop. If your going thru Anchorage call in at Alaska Leather , Barb will give you a good deal on some good boots and tyres if you need them. Ride safe Cob and keep it upright. We got a bed in NZ when you get here. Cheers Toddy
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Old 10-01-2005, 11:11 AM   #72
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Originally Posted by KTM265
OK, so what is the story with your foot?


OK, so what is the story with your foot?
Oh, the foot. Yeah, that troubled limb that gave way in Seattle. Check it out here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KTM265
I'm not sure what boots you are wearing but I would recommend getting some sort of high support boot...

I'm actually wearing the AEROStich Combat Touring Boots. They've got quite the support! But with that broken foot, it makes riding a bit challenging.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KTM265
Good luck, keep up the reports...
More coming later today!
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Old 10-01-2005, 06:14 PM   #73
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To The Arctic Ocean - Dalton Highway Day #2

Dalton Highway - Deadhorse Day #2

"Can't buy it or sell it; and if we catch you drinking it we kick you out."

It was a humble and welcoming greeting I received after riding 240+ miles to Deadhorse through the winding roads of the arctic tundra and north slope dodging hunters and holding on for life as haul trucks spit gravel, dust and rocks in my face as I sucked in the thick chewy smoke from whipping wildfires. All I wanted to know was where could I find a cold beer.

"Deadhorse is a dry town," the redhead sporting an "Italy" sweatshirt. "Actually, it's a damp town. You can bring it here, but you can't drink it this hotel." Calling the Prudhoe Bay a hotel would be a very liberal use of the word. It's more like a dormitory. Share bathrooms, a cafeteria the serves hot food only during posted hours and pay phones at the end of each corridor. It's only one of two places to stay in Deadhorse. The Caribou Hotel was booked.

"It's just not worth it for these guys to risk a $120,000 a year job." Her skinny lips and freckled jaw kept spewing out the garbage I didn't want to hear. Okay. I get it. "You better not have any." I'd been warned.





Today's ride was the splendor I'd hoped. It was still smokey so I was unable to experience the Brooks Range and the Atigun Pass in its full glory. At several points the road approached the roughness of the ride to Circle City with large rocks, and washboard coming down from the pass. Good news is I didn't need to use my extra fuel. A conservative ride today yielded me 72 mpg and the reserve light popped on just one click outside Deadhorse.

Rolling into Deadhorse reminded me of driving past Carson on the west coast or Bayonne, New Jersey on the east. Smelly, industrial and ugly. If I were a polar bear, I'd run far from here. And I guess most have, but often enough one rears its body in the ocean near the oil fields.

I managed to find the what I thought was the only gas pump in town. Following signs to the "gas station" I was confused as it didn't take on the appearance of even a wacky Alaskan outpost fuel stop. Nope. This was the extreme north and the gas pump was simply a hose hanging on the side of a temporary building. Walking inside I had to validate my credit card to get the pump working and return for my receipt. No island. No convenience store. Just pure industrial fuel.

Walking out of the dorm bathroom I spotted two guys carrying helmets and stomping down the corridor in motorcycle boots. They didn't speak a stitch of English, but using the Spanish I knew would need to be honed prior to crossing the border into Mexico and Central America I gathered that they were from Ushuaia, Argentina and had their bikes shipped to Seattle then trucked to Fairbanks. Beto and Pepe were aiming to do what many North American and European motorcycle riders dream of -- riding the world from the top to bottom. Deadhorse to Ushuaia.






The next morning I met the couple and their son who were taking him on one last adventure before he would be shipped off to Iraq. And their goal? To secure their status as official members of the Polar Bear Club -- those who've braved the Arctic Ocean for a quick swim.













The Prudhoe Bay two hour tour and trip to the Arctic Ocean starts at the Caribou Hotel where in a utility classroom our tour guide runs through the rules of engagement and forces us to sit through a 15 minute video of oil company propaganda and history of the Trans-Atlantic Pipeline and North Slope oil fields. We're then ushered onto a school bus while we take a 15 minute ride past the guard gates of the oil company compound and to the ocean where we have 15 minutes to go for our swim, collect rocks, feathers and shells if you find them. Today no polar bears greet us and only a lone Caribou in the distance is our sole wildlife encounter here in Deadhorse.

Two young couples in addition to me and the marine and his father take the plunge into the ocean. The girls strip naked and hand me their camera so I can catch their naked boobs, butts and brush in the Arctic Ocean. Towels are provided by the bus driver and soon we're back and ready to brave the 414 miles of the Dalton Highway one more time -- just for good luck.


----------------
Stats:
Coldfoot Camp, AK to Deadhorse, AK 8-11-05
Moving Average: 39.6 mph
Maximum Speed: 60.5 mph
Moving Time: 6:09:06
Total Miles: 243.4
Fuel Economy: 72 mpg*

*Moving average and fuel economy are obviously directly related. I tried to keep RPMs between 3500 and 4000 so to maximize fuel efficiency. It worked. Tomorrow will be a different story.




Photos:
(1) Not a good view of the Brooks Range due to wildfires near Fairbanks; (2) Deadhorse Gas Station; (3) ) my lovely dorm at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel, "it's a damp town"; (4) Classroom training before you cross the oil companies' lines; (5) Going through security to Endicott Oil Field for a view of the arctic ocean; (6) Father of marine takes his polar bear dip seriouisly.
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Old 10-01-2005, 10:37 PM   #74
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Now that is not fair...you used their camera, come on, let see some of that eye candy!
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Old 10-02-2005, 09:13 AM   #75
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Great report, keep it coming and ride safe.
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