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Old 08-05-2014, 06:02 AM   #1
Kimi OP
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Location: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
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Aussies riding Alaska

Gee there are so many reports on riding Alaska, this is our trip from some folks down under with my strange fears and foibles and a patient husband to help me and have a heap of fun in this most amazing land.

This ride report is part of a long held plan to visit to my girlfriend who has lived in Juneau for over 20 years having married a great guy and this is my first visit to her new home.
It is also a birthday present for my husband who I hope will also plan and equally awesome trip for my birthday

First up - the flight from Adelaide - Sydney - LA - Anchorage- erk
next time take a full day off in LA, jet lag really knocked me and the bizarre Anchorage daylight that goes for hours and hours and hours, totally strange to me coming from a cold wet wintery dark Adelaide

We hired some bikes from Phil and delayed the pick up by a day as we were still getting our heads around the driving/riding on the right side of the road ..... one of those things that gives you pause for thought but really quite easy once you actually get on the bike and hit the road and just follow the traffic.
Also the bike was much bigger (to me)than my 2000 F650GS BMW, the hire bike was a F650GS (800CC twin) with ABS and loaded to the gunnels with gear.

After about 20 minutes on the big big road heading out of Anchorage heading to Tok, we took the turn to the Old Glen Highway to get used to twisty stuff, gear changes and braking/turns etc... WOW this bike is bloody fun


Here's photo of my husband, the most patient person in the world, I am not really fast and he puts up with my bizarre ideas, like riding motorcycles in Alaska


This is me, the mad woman, with a grin from ear to ear, this place is just amazing, every turn has another amazing view.

Funny how you make all these plans (like accomodation - I had booked only 4 days in advance) we stayed at none of them, just rang and cancelled and just went with the flow

My first glacier


The view immediately to the right of the glacier

Yes there was a bug on my camera, go to Alaska and get a face full of bugs on your visor in about 20 minutes of riding, goes with the territory.
Oh and they have Bumble bees too, big fat arsed things that at 100 kmph go splat and you have to stop ....

We took it pretty slow the first half day, and didnt get nearly as far as we planned but I dont really care. We also found out interesting things like when you go for fuel (petrol) the normal Green handle is for Diesel and the Black handle is for Petrol - the complete opposite of Australia......

They also have these really cool coffee/food places to stop at the side of the road - this one I had a great lunch of salmon salad croussant and the the old boy had a reindeer hot dog....


The road to Tok with the Alaska Range in the background


I am a bit of a plant nut and the most amazing thing was happening (well to me anyway) the local Black Cottonwood trees where shedding their "fluff" and we went through continuous "clouds" of this stuff floating on the air in drifts and waves.


This is a pic of the fluff in a muddy puddle, too hard to take a pic of it in the air.

It had a quite sticky sweet smell too, totally different to the gum tree smell of Australia..... funny that you don't really think about how a place "smells" until you go somewhere so far from home.

The goal was to get to Haines so after Tok we headed to the border of Canada and so came the rain, all our gear was proving very warm (not that is was really cold) and waterproof. And it rained
And it rained and photos of wet roads are not really good so we didn't bother.
Stopped at Beaver Creek and it continued to rain
So changed our plans, rang my friend and said that we will catch her later on in the month at Juneau (we were meant to meet for 4th July at Haines)
Also reports on the 100 miles of roadworks was a bit offputting for me on the bigger bike, maybe if it was dry but the next day was pretty wet too..

So we headed back to Tok and stopped on the way at the Tetlin Wildlife Refuge


The log cabin Visitor Info centre was a work of art, wildflower meadow roof for insulation, just great, really good interpretative material inside and I saw my first moose grazing in the wetland (all 300,000 hectares of wet marshy stuff)
Rain back to Tok, but easy riding, just still wary of moose from talking to others of moose about......other stuff seen on the roadside was the really nice "wildflowers"

my computer is playing up so I will put some more pics up later

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Old 08-05-2014, 08:10 AM   #2
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Hi Kimi
Looking forward to reading the rest of your RR.
Hope you get the computer sorted soon.
How will he be able to top that Swiss Alps maybe

Very Envious

Cheers Gotawee
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Old 08-05-2014, 08:10 AM   #3
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Fantastic!,going to follow this rr with interest.
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Old 08-05-2014, 02:52 PM   #4
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Good stuff Kimi, looking forward to the rest if it it.
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Old 08-05-2014, 05:33 PM   #5
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Old 08-05-2014, 11:06 PM   #6
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Go guys and thanks for the picks. I am an Aussie down the other end of the US just riding around. I am going to head north in the next couple of weeks so Ill be checking out your RR to see what I got coming.
Enjoy your trip and stay safe.
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Old 08-06-2014, 02:16 AM   #7
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yep, nice work so far..!

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Old 08-06-2014, 03:55 AM   #8
Kimi OP
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Originally Posted by Questor View Post

Hey Questor, I am reading your report too, all my shots (as you will see) of the ride to Valdez are not nearly as lovely as yours !

But it was still the ride of my life

So the wildflowers at the side of the road -stuff I would love to grow in my GARDEN the Lupins


wild roses everywhere


native geraniums


and the fireweed too


So we shot off to Fairbanks via Delta Junction

and took some shots of the end of the Alcan (even though we only did a little bit)


and the local mozzies turned up while we were there

and then on to Fairbanks to get a new comms unit (our sena packed it in)
the rivers were huge and were even flowing more on the way back due to rain the previous few days further up the system


and go do some tourist things like visit the Museum of the North (for the fossil mammoth tusks and mastodon tusks and other good stuff ) Creamers Fields for the sandhill cranes and of course to do boring stuff like laundry - I had only packed one t shirt and so just bought tourist ones
We also hung around for july 4th and did some more walking and touristy things in town but left on the Saturday for Valdez, planning on staying about half way and arrive in Valdez on the Sunday when all the people would (hopefully) be heading home to Anchorage and we could some cheap accomodation

So we stayed at this very ordinary cabin
and proceeded to get eaten alive
could not leave fast enough the next day....... have I mentioned that night only lasts a few hours ? So if you wanted to you could easily get up at 3 am and load up and go..... very tempted this day for sure

But the best was to come, fuel up at Glenallen, and head off to Valdez.....

Wrangell St Elias NP is on the left on the way to Valdez, simply stunning..... a quick side trip to Copper Centre to get some more clothes on cos we could see the rain a'coming......


you can never have enough shots of the fun machines can you ?


Note to Aussies - see no safety barriers, no nothing, so unlike us "safety" freak road people...... we kept forgetting what the speed limit was.... very few signs, no elecrity poles just beautiful country .....


me heading to Valdez, this is the Worthington Glacier in the background..
Go and check out Questors page, he has awesome shots of the road IN THE SUNSHINE

but you know I had a ball, even in the showers, there were "hung" misty clouds, the blue water was raging and the waterfalls at Bridal Veil falls were just awesome...... so good we didn't take any photos cos we were in magic motorcycle riding land......


another shot of the glacier....
about 5 km out of Valdez a brown bear gently loped across my path, I was almost in tears it was all so beautiful......


this was the great b and b we stayed at and spent the rest of the day and next discovering this great town


great harbour and good food at the Fat Mermaid
Next day up early for the ferry to Whittier


5 hours of ferry and again totally different scenery from the boat, my husband ( a keen wildlife person) was rapt, stellar sea lions, puffins, bald eagles, otters.... all for $184 per person incl bike...... great value in comparison to the "commercial" tours


more glaciers


arriving at Whittier and the locals were amazed - the sun was shining and it was really quite warm (for Alaska) [IMG][/IMG]

there is a really interesting history to Whittier - it was established by the military and they all lived here


Stopped for Halibut and chips (yum) at a great little cafe and then the dreaded tunnel - to Portage
I have no idea why I was so nervous - ride 2.6 miles in a dark wet tunnel and do not go anywhere near the parallel railway lines either side......
just got me a bit freaked - I spoke to the "Controller" (bikes go last after all the traffic) and he even got them to turn the fans off for me... what a sweety


This is me at the other end - having a minor freakout event, it was quite scary and I think I just over thought the whole thing - fortunately we met XXMe from the Alaska ADVrider forum and I had to behave normally for him and his wife and family.......

This forum is just amazing, what are the chances of meeting someone ?
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Old 08-06-2014, 05:50 AM   #9
Not the Messiah
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Nice work Kimi, thanks for sharing
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Old 08-07-2014, 06:37 AM   #10
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Great trip, Kimi !
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Old 08-07-2014, 07:08 AM   #11
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It's always interesting to see your own place through another set of eyes.
Thanks for sharing Kimi - I hope you have a terrific visit.
What if there were no more hypothetical questions?
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Old 08-08-2014, 05:46 AM   #12
Kimi OP
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Location: Adelaide Hills, South Australia
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I think Alaska is just such an amazing place, so unlike anything we have in Aus.....I love Aus, the forests, deserts and wildlife but Alaska truly is just incredible...... we ran out of words to describe what we were seeing and experiencing.....

so this is the last bit and I know it is meant to be about riding but we had such a good time with my mate I am including a few more pics to whet the appetites of others to get their bums over to AK

We stopped in Girdwood overnight, after leaving the sun of Portage the wind picked up along the Turnagain Arm (Seward Hwy to Anchorage) and I was pretty shattered (not just after the tunnel but the lack of sleep the previous nite as the local fisherfolk had stayed up drinking and wandering the street of Valdez until 4 am and we had to be up at 5 for the ferry)

The news on the idiot box said heavy rain for the next 3 days ......ergk

So we got up early and even though we had 3 more days of bike hire the traffic heading to Kenai Peninsula and the heavy rain had me thinking time to stop ...... so we returned the bikes and grabbed a cheapo bomb and went back to Kenai
Did some more touristy stuff (Dinner of Halibut at Thorns Showcase Lounge at Seward, visited the Sealife Centre and proceeded to get really soaked at Exit glacier...... I love riding but the weather really turned to crap and the traffic was pretty huge in comparison to what we has seen so far..... little did we know it was the beginning of the dip netting season and everyone was heading down to K Peninsula


12 days of fun on that bike, mmmm should I buy one .....??

so here are some shots of our time in Juneau - not strictly anything to do with riding bikes but I reckon (nearly) as much fun.....actually it was great

view from my mates place at Juneau


our new form of transport - to Admiralty Island.....


we walked along this beach to the cabin, we saw bears along here, they walked away in to the long grass........


forest.......... kinda quiet and a bit spooky ....... you have to make a bit of noise cos their are bears in there.......


me and my girlfriend walking back to the boat in the moring, we took the "inland" route


leaving that beach and heading to another at Olivers Inlet Admiralty Island


Olivers Inlet Admiralty Island...... we had to catch the tide to get in ....


The cabin we stayed at for 2 nights, there is a little trolley you take (push with all your gear on it) to get there..... no vehicles, nothing..... magic


view from the cabin


mmmm what is this I see that has walked along this beach this morning ????


we left Admiralty after a few days and as we left really early to catch the out going tide we stopped for a nap and brunch at the southern tip of Douglas Island while my mates husband trawled for salmon

my husband went with my mate to Pack Creek to see the bears the next day via float plane (I cant do small planes due to previous bad time on one)

here you can see them up kinda close (only under controlled numbers with permits etc...)


What can I say about Alaska ?
Just go

We are heading back probably in 2 years, we didnt get to see Denali, and there are some spots that others (ie Questor) has shown me that we rode right past........ and I still need to get to Haines to see my gals place and then maybe get a ferry to head south and.......

start saving and go !
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Old 08-08-2014, 01:31 PM   #13
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I so love these Alaska RR's and having two of our kiddos living there sure helps keep the interest up too. These photos are soooo very interesting and the memories that you've piled up must be awesome! Thanks, thanks!

Gary "Oldone"

Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Ride
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Old 08-08-2014, 02:15 PM   #14
Aussie Trev
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A great way to have my morning coffee Kimi - reading your report. Cheers
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Old 08-11-2014, 04:01 AM   #15
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Hi Kim,

Well I'm really jealous - stunning country and brilliant photos. Thank you so much for a great report.

Cheers and all the best
Finally - Livin the dream !!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)
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