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Old 08-22-2013, 07:34 PM   #316
jdrocks OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siyeh View Post

I enjoy your prose Mr JD
thanks, it must read a little different for you...memories of many of the same places and roads you've seen yourself.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:38 PM   #317
aDave
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Nice job!

Really enjoying this.

What camera did you use?

Please continue

Dave
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:51 AM   #318
jdrocks OP
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Originally Posted by aDave View Post
Really enjoying this.

What camera did you use?

Please continue

Dave
thanks, i'm just using an inexpensive Nikon. man, i wish i had a better camera and knew how to use it. a better camera would mean 3x more photos.

my advice, as always, for these trips...don't leave home without a camera that has a big optical zoom. you can't get much of that country without the zoom.
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Old 09-09-2013, 09:16 AM   #319
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Had the bike parked, strangely no D2D bikes stopped for a snack, and as I was going through the doors, hayzuess willy, a two toothed dude staggered into me coming out, must have soaked up a whole pint of peach schnapps with that stack of flapjacks, if he had belched near an open flame right then, Fast Eddies would have been reduced to a pile of toothpicks. Being a nice morning now, plenty of people out and the café was packed, looked like locals, except for the Alaska Trooper who missed that drunk by 10 minutes. If he had been here earlier, yeah, I would have served that guy up, I’d done it before.

If the waitress was surprised by what I ordered, she never let on, and just kept bringing the plates, coffee too, and by the time I was done, the world had never looked rounder, a bright day ahead, and I actually knew the way to Valdez. The road happened to be another up here where I damn near ran out of fuel, ya tend to have those seared into your brain. Could be other reasons for remembering this particular road, ain’t tellin’ no details, but one memory involved a two legged creature that smelled like a sack of dead cats. Don’t ask.

I talked with a 12GSA rider out front before I left, he asked if I had come over from Dawson and wanted a road report. He wasn’t interested in the D2D event, and was a self described “go it alone” rider, not on any forums, so I was puzzled when this supposedly self sufficient dude was quite put off when I said the road could be a little muddy before the border. Wasn’t that GSA supposed to be a RTW mount, like go anywhere?...maybe he just washed it.

The Tok Cutoff runs 125 miles southwest to the Richardson Highway above Glenallen and is the main connector to the Glenn Highway for those continuing west to Anchorage. I was headed to Anchorage, no sense making it easy, and my route was through Valdez, then a ferry over to the Kenai. The Cutoff follows several river systems and runs between the Alaska Range to the west and Mentasta Mountains to the east. I had seen some of the same mountains from the opposite side on my way north to Haines Junction earlier.





I had my mind set on Valdez, the real action was farther south in the mountains, so other than looking for moose in the usual “moose looker” ponds along the highway, I was down to the Richardson quickly after a spirited post breakfast run, then over to Glenallen for fuel. The fuel stop and quick mart located at this intersection was always busy, it catches traffic from all directions, no different today, and I’d had more than one adventure at this crossroads. You wouldn’t think this Alaskan quick mart would be chosen by someone practicing santaria, but there are no limits for weird, certainly not for evil, must go hand-in-hand with all the drugs in circulation around the area.

Got in line, fueled the bike, talked with a 12GS rider on the way to Eagle “Because I’ve never been there”, and I didn’t mention Butch blocking the road since he was riding all the way to Eagle on the Yukon River. This BMW rider wasn’t worried about getting his bike dirty, big guy, made the GS look like a 250 when he hopped on board.

Things get interesting south of Glenallen, the highway following the famed Copper River and peaks in the Wrangell Mountains in the 16,000 foot class.





I was on the lookout for moose, bears, or anything else that could jump out of the wild flowers everywhere along the road.



I remember these flowers from stopping along here to contemplate the fuel situation after riding past Glenallen, then finding my next fuel stop boarded up, closed, done, like so many others in the ever changing north. Face it, I’d nearly run out of fuel just about everywhere it seems, including on this trip, but since nearly doesn’t equate with actually, I’d squeaked through, my circus net had caught me more times than I could count.

Farther south, there were things worth seeing, and after deciding on my chosen circle route, I was more convinced that it was the way to see the world up here, although I hadn’t completed the full circle since this mission ended in Anchorage.







The weather was holding, although enough was happening to make me wonder a few times, with random weather ahead across the mountains. Like most of the other roads already traveled, little traffic out here today, and I settled into a brisk run and gun, sorry about those brake pads Mike, ‘cause I made some smokin’ stops when I simply had to get a shot.





The grade going up to Thompson Pass is gentle, exactly like some of the other low passes in Alaska, Atigun being the exception, beautiful country and a very good bike road.



Worthington Glacier can be seen long before you actually get there, always a noted landmark along this road.





Once past Worthington, the Pass was ahead, rugged country to cross in the old days, although native peoples had crossed this gap in the Chugach Mountains for centuries. The trail was named and became famous in the gold rush era as miners came north from Valdez. It only snows about 50 freakin’ feet per year here, don’t ask me to hang around, ain’t going to happen, be like talkin’ to a deaf dog, and I used that pass as a launch ramp, I was flying to Valdez.



(to be continued…)
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Old 09-10-2013, 06:21 AM   #320
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Crossing the pass, the highway crew maintenance building has doors on the second floor so the DOT guys can get out, yeah, it can snow 5 feet on occasion so doors on the lower level aren’t worth much sometimes. Snow poles on the edge of the road, not uncommon, and it’s hard to believe that the road has been open for travel all year for 65 years. Naturally, when the authorities decided to keep the road open, the Pass got 80 feet of snow. I think that was the year that all the plow operators relocated to Baja.



It looked pretty interesting on top, wintry, with plenty of snow still up high.











Down the long grade off the Pass, Blueberry Lake State Park on the right, and when I got to the bottom, I remembered the machine gunned car I had seen there five years earlier, never have seen anything like it along a major highway before or since. The thing looked like it was hit with a mini gun, just plain shredded.

I had to stop next to the Valdez sign, man, I’d come quite a ways over the last 10 days, and the sign was a reminder that the trip only had one more leg.





The Richardson runs along the Lowe River flats in this area, obviously subject to flooding, and in extreme cases, the highway has been cut, isolating Valdez. When I looked out over the flats, it was hard to imagine the volume of water it would take to flood the whole area, but it happens.



There are waterfalls along the road, much photographed, still interesting and today I was one of only two stopped with a camera out.







I was anxious to get to Valdez, call my XO, and find out if and where she had found a motel room. Those snowy brownish mountains had me thinking bourbon on the rocks all afternoon, I do have a good imagination, bank on it. Wouldn’t hurt to take a shower either, I had to get on a plane the next day, sorta.

I’d been in Valdez a couple times and knew my way around a little, so I cruised around town to see if there were any major changes, nope, but I did find a three member group of riders from Gillette, Wyoming, parked at a café. They had just come down from Deadhorse, two KLRs and a Sportster, good road conditions both ways. When I said “Now you’re already planning the next trip” they laughed, “Yes, we are”. Valdez was the location of their defining turn, the turn for home, safe travels, only 4500 miles to go.

I called my XO, she named the motel, and when I turned around, heck, I could have hit the motel sign with a thrown rock. Rode over, parked the bike in a “No Parking” slot, wrangled a room on the first floor because “I think I have a sprained knee”, hauled in all my junk, hopped in the shower, and proceeded to use up every gallon of hot water in Valdez. I had a handicap room, bad knee, so that huge freakin’ ADA shower was quite nice…did the laundry in there while I was at it.

Now that I was more or less presentable, I wandered down to the motel bar, had a couple beers and some little nacho thing for $25, but I did get entertained by the bartender at least. Darn cute, and just relocated from the California ski resorts to run or market a heliski operation in Valdez. Apparently, people from all over the world come to ski here, good luck with that, I don’t want to see ice unless it’s floating in alcohol. Without her at the bar, I think the place would have been empty, thanks darlin’, but I’ve got a 4AM wakeup on order, gotta run.

Back in the room, I left my cell out, the backup to the wakeup, had the early ferry to catch over to Whittier, and missing the boat, so to speak, would be a major complication. The room had that bombed out look, crap scattered everywhere as I reorganized and separated gear again, not to mention wet laundry hanging from any suitable hook. The next day, I would embark on a major expedition to the Outside, the East Coast, and little did I know that it would make getting to Anchorage by moto the easy part.

(to be continued…)
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Old 10-04-2013, 02:34 PM   #321
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By the time I hit the sack, I had more or less given up on trying to figure out how the time scenario was to play out as I changed time zones, except it was very late local time, and very early in the Mid Atlantic. So, I got a couple hours sleep, got up at 4AM in Valdez, added four hours, and it was 8AM in Virginia…write that down, ‘cause it looked like a damn long rocky road home. Yeah, no freakin’ kiddin’, did someone say Zekes?

I was packed and gone in minutes, forget those socks I’d been wearing for 10 days, tossed ‘em in the trash lest PITA file a complaint about some bomb sniffing dog being forced to sniff them. I didn’t see another human being in the motel, not even at the desk, damn, I should have brought a big ass towel down to wipe off the bike. Anyway, I was on the loose, looking at the journey, and in full flight. The ferry system had a check in regulation to make sure you showed up with plenty of time to spare, but it must have been from the prehistoric era when the ferries were loaded with RVs or other space eating vehicles, because I was the only vehicle present and accounted for when I got to the terminal, everyone else ignored the reg, slept in, hold that boat, be there in a minute or two.



There was a mist over the water, no wind, but always something to look at for those interested. After checking in with the terminal employees on duty at this early hour, one half awake, the other half asleep, sorry, no WIFI at the terminal building, and yes, traffic was way down, I could walk around a little, check things out.









One of the few vehicles there was a pickup driven by a 20 something gal who turned out to be the attendant for the old guy passenger, very frail, but still a twinkle in his eye that said “Hey buddy, will ya look at this cute young girl I’ve got on my arm”. They were on a big looping road trip from Alaska, out through Dawson and Whitehorse, then back. Looked to be a journey through time, a retracing of certain steps, the last waltz. He’d chosen his dance partner wisely, the girl was both very attentive and very kind. Genuine kindness can’t be faked.

I got a visit from one of the ferry girls checking on the vehicles boarding this morning, and when she said that the fuel can would have go in the paint locker on the ferry if full, that was all I needed to hear, and emptied it into the main tank.

Some commercial fishing boats were heading out, looked rigged for seining, but I wasn’t 100% sure what they were after.



The folks at the counter in the terminal said the ferry was sailing on schedule, but there were not many vehicles in line until 30 minutes to departure and loading was started, that’s when the scramble to get to the ferry apparently started. Vehicles were arriving until the very last minute, some of the drivers in a panic, never fails. I was first to board, the bike was parked in the corner and strapped down, not optional on this longer trip, and I was able to make my way to the upper deck, looked like most of the passengers were Euros, maybe a few Aussies…and some others, damn, it reminded me of the airports, there were zombies on the ferry too. Weird mofos, no doubt, lucky there was only a partial load.

I walked around on deck, glad it was a nice morning, and I was even more certain that this was the way to go, mark it down in the jdrocks route planning guide, especially since I had been on different routes previously. As a matter of fact, I’d been on parts of the ferry route previously, both fishing and touring, so I found what I expected, just more of it, spectacular.







The ferry zigged and zagged to dodge small ice flows from one of the glaciers, much receded over the past 20-30 years, can’t scratch the paint. Seals were hauled up on most accessible rocks, to far to get a good photo.





I had a front seat in the main cabin, great for scenery both port and starboard, maybe take a nap, but there was a 400 pound Sasquatch snoring so loud that the noise from the ferry’s diesel engines was lost in the background. He was also itching and scratching, fumbling around, and I knew one thing for certain, my local country sheriff would arrest him on the spot for doing that kind of stuff in public. Nobody, and I mean nobody, was about to go over there and wake that dude up, me either…I had ear plugs, but no bear gun.


(To be continued…)
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Old 10-04-2013, 02:41 PM   #322
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Some of those Euros must have burned up a couple camera cards during the trip, good for them, some had pretty fancy gear. The docks at Whittier came in view, easy to spot with that cruise ship tied up. Actually, the cruise ship itself was bigger than Whittier, looked to be a smaller version of Skagway, oh boy. I asked one of the locals about what happens when passengers don’t show up when they’re about to sail “First we check the bars, then…”

A bow picker style landing craft was hauled out in the main parking area, waiting on repairs, or a season to start.





Still dominating the area is the old Buckner Building, a federal government structure broken and abandoned since the big earthquake in 1964, it looks like an award winning example of vintage Russian architecture, might have made the cover of the Eastern Block version of Architectural Digest. Tax dollars at work, it was once the biggest building in Alaska, despite limited access.



I still had to get over to Anchorage, didn’t feel like mingling with the cruise ship crowd anyway, so I rode over to the famous rail tunnel, ingress and egress for Whittier, but on a schedule since it operates alternating one way.





Had to read the tunnel instructions, of course.



Then over to talk with the raven haired Native girl who was supposed to be keeping order in the lined up traffic lanes, except there wasn’t any traffic. Bike traffic in the tunnel was a big headache, and from what she said, daily wrecks were pretty much the norm. “Don’t look down”, and she repeated it only about a dozen times in a short conversation. “Bikes go last, so you don’t get run over”, my my, how very thoughtful.



I had a few minutes before the tunnel was open for west bound traffic, so I took a look around that end of Whittier, ya know, get the full experience, can’t miss anything. I’d go spelunking in the Buckner Building, but someone said a bunch of bears had moved in, they couldn’t read the asbestos hazard signs.



Pointing the camera back toward “downtown” Whittier, there was an incongruity evident in the frame, at least for me,



while the view in other directions was more like it.



More tax dollars at work, but someone had to remove a name from the sign, couldn’t have that guy take credit for a new set of taxpayer funded pit privies.





By far the most interesting event underway was a scheduled helicopter lift of building materials to some remote mountain location. The operation was flying a prefab metal building piece-by-piece, and things were going smoothly until the ground crew couldn’t figure out the proper way to rig a steel beam.





The pilot hovered for a long time, way too long, then landed in frustration, ran over, gave the guys hell, then showed them how it needed to be done.





The missing part of the rigging was an improvised kite tail, necessary to prevent the beam from spinning in flight, and they used some kind of fabric bag that had been packaging for aggregate or Portland cement.





I watched a Whittier cop give a “Thank you for visiting Whittier” speeding ticket to a car parked in line, then it was time to ride the tunnel, an interesting experience, no wrecks, and I popped out on the other side of the mountain, looked wintry over there.







Quite a few cruise ship people were on this side of the mountain, lots of organized activities underway, both land and water.





I had to put the camera away, I was going to be getting into Anchorage later than I wanted to be, and was looking for a spray wash to clean up the bike, which was scheduled for a tire change and service. Clean would help.

Hit the main drag, Highway 1 or Seward Highway, and it was full of traffic, the same as always for me, plenty of law enforcement present. I had already stowed the camera, but got it out again for some photos along Turnagain Arm, tidal flats showing, the windsurfers confined towards the end.





Generally north on the last little piece of road to Los Anchorage, this could have been any metro area, same traffic, same stores, blah, blah, and I made my way to the drop off location, no problem, but no spray wash, so I was delivering a somewhat dirty bike although I had seen way worse.

Got my gear squared away, hung up Mikes tent to make sure it was 100% dry, and also opened up the panniers just for insurance, don’t want any mildew on the gear. Changed clothes for the airport, and I was good to fly. Oops, should get a photo of that Dempster tire, and I got out the camera for one last trip photo.



When I arrived in Anchorage, I called my XO and got a price quote on the cab fare to the airport, a modest $9, not bad, called Checker, and after promising the cab would be there in 10 minutes, the dude showed up 50 minutes later. Lucky I didn’t have a flight departure on the clock, and it should have been no surprise that the fare was $17. Somebody hit the fact check switch, that cab might have been driven to the airport via Wasilla for all I know.

That starting block fiasco set the tone for the race back to the Mid Atlantic. I got up at 4AM Alaska, or 8AM Eastern on Saturday, and arrived at my destination in Virgina at about 3AM on Monday morning. Yes, I had been traveling that whole time, and yes, I was ready to find a bed, don’t set the freakin’ alarm.

I could write 10 pages about what happened between Anchorage and Dulles International, but I’m faced with time constraints at the moment…however, I do have notes. I also have another bike to build, so the question will always be “Where’s the adventure?”, and not “Where’s the remote?”.



I can’t close without a special thanks to Mike, the dude who trusted that I would deliver his bike to Anchorage as promised. Thanks for the opportunity to ride, my friend, it was a wonderful trip.

THE END…UNTIL NEXT TIME.

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Old 10-04-2013, 07:01 PM   #323
MTrider16
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Another trip report "in the can" as the movie people would say. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed it.

You report makes me think I think I should take the fast bike next time I go up and ride the ferries back to Prince Rupert. There certainly are a number of roads and options one can take travelling the north country.

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Old 10-05-2013, 06:30 AM   #324
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Originally Posted by MTrider16 View Post
Another trip report "in the can" as the movie people would say. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed it.

You report makes me think I think I should take the fast bike next time I go up and ride the ferries back to Prince Rupert. There certainly are a number of roads and options one can take travelling the north country.

David
man, took a long time to finish that report, i was busy with other things. without notes and photos, there's no hope.

the ferry system allows planning a route without much backtracking, although some riders wouldn't like adding a schedule constraint or two. in previous years, there was a risk of not getting on without a reservation in advance, but it doesn't look like the case now.

i wouldn't take the fast one, still some gravel up there...of course, "fast" is a relative term.
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:39 AM   #325
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i wouldn't take the fast one, still some gravel up there...of course, "fast" is a relative term.
The Beemer is more suited for the roads than the VFR, but there is a lot of pavement also. I'll have to weigh the options, I don't think it will be a 2014 trip so we have some time to figure out a plan.

Be sure to save some pics of the new bike build, lots of fans waiting to see what you come up with next.
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Old 10-06-2013, 05:45 AM   #326
jdrocks OP
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Be sure to save some pics of the new bike build...
yeah, i need to get going on that build, nothing to ride at the moment. unlike some people i know, there's no early snow on the ground here, more like 90F.
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Old 10-06-2013, 01:33 PM   #327
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So - you 'flogged' the rat-bike...?
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Old 10-06-2013, 03:28 PM   #328
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No snow here. Rapid City on the other hand has plenty.
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Old 10-07-2013, 05:18 AM   #329
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So - you 'flogged' the rat-bike...?
i keep tellin' ya to stay away from the Blue, so i have no idea what you're talking about. the only thing i have left of the V649HP is a bunch of photos, unless i count the memories. that bike had been some places.
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Old 10-07-2013, 05:46 AM   #330
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No snow here. Rapid City on the other hand has plenty.
you missed out on 36".
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