Day 39 – Ferry from Sitka to Price Rupert, BC

Day 39 – Ferry from Sitka to Price Rupert, BC      09/28/10     Mileage: Ferry ride  

Sleeping out on the covered outside weather deck was great and not to cold at all. I got up around 7 and made some oatmeal for breakfast and then went up to the forward observation lounge to take in the view.  

View from the observation deck of the Matanuska


Another from the observation deck...


Getting close to Ketchikan...


We saw this floatplane come in for a landing right next to the!


Nice landing!


Phil and Kelly soon joined me and it was long after that we made port in Ketchikan around 10:45. The ferry didn’t depart until 1:15, so that gave me a chance to get off the boat and have a look around.  

Downtown Ketchikan


The wharf in Ketchikan


Phil, Kelly and I settled on a place called the Arctic Bar which turned out to be the oldest bar in Ketchikan. Paula, the owner, was great and even suggested we get behind the bar for a picture in front of here “happy bear” beer tap.  

The Arctic Bar in Ketchikan...


Behind the bar at the Arctic Bar in Ketchikan


The bear’s on this beer tap were happy not because of the beer, but because they were humping…which seems to be a bit of a theme up here!  

The "happy bears" tap...


 Phil and Kelly were staying in town until tomorrow, so after a few beers and some great halibut fish and chips…I bid farewell to them. It was great having some friends to travel with the last week…I’ll miss them on the road.  

Looking back at Ketchikan...on the way to Prince Rupert...


Back on board the Matanuska I worked on my laptop for a bit and settled in for the final leg to Prince Rupert, BC around 7 hours away.

Day 38 – Sitka, AK – Ferry to Prince Rupert, BC

Day 38 – Sitka, AK – Ferry to Prince Rupert, BC     09/27/10     Mileage: Ferry ride 

The rain was still coming down, so I was in no rush to leave. The room came with a continental breakfast that was really a nice spread for a budget hotel. After stuffing myself with the free eats, I took a shower, packed up the bike and headed for the ferry terminal. The ferry was the Matanuska…the same boat I took from Haines to Juneau. 

The KLR strapped in for ferry ride #3


Goodbye Sitka...


Kelly and Phil were also on this boat…so I got to hook up with them again! They had got on in Juneau the night before, and were getting off in Ketchikan for a few days before continuing on to Prince Rupert. I am now booked straight through to Prince Rupert, but at least we’ll have today and tomorrow morning to hang out on the ferry. Once on board, we grabbed a bite to eat for lunch and then I retired to the solarium…which is a covered open air deck on the back of the boat. 

The solarium on the Matanuska...


The solarium has lounge chairs and even ceiling heaters…so it’s quite comfy even in the cool damp air. Kelly, Phil and a few others had slept out there the night before, so I decided to “camp” out there as well by putting my sleeping pad and bag on a lounge chair…very comfy! After dinner we watched two movies, then called it a night.

Day 37 – Juneau, AK – Sitka, AK

Day 37 – Juneau, AK – Sitka, AK     09/26/10     Mileage: Local mileage and a ferry ride! 

Morning came too soon as I had to be at the ferry terminal by 6:30am for an 8:00am departure to Sitka on the M/V Fairweather. Boarding and tying down the bike went smoothly and soon we were off. 

Bike is strapped down for the ferry ride...


The M/V Fairweather


The Fairweather is a catamaran type fast ferry and is more than twice as fast as the larger but slower Matanuska that I took from Haines to Juneau. The trip to Sitka was only took 4.5 hours but took us through some amazing scenery…including the Peril Straits and Deadmans Reach. 

The Fairweather is fast...36 knots!


...and this is why it's fast...jet drive!


Great scenery on the way to Sitka


The shore was so close at times you can almost jump off and not get your feet wet!


The Peril that is a tight channel!


Once we arrived I was off to explore Sitka on the bike….and that didn’t take long for sure! The ferry terminal is about 7 miles north of town and the road goes maybe another 10 south and east of town….so it’s fair to say I hit the end of the road in just over 15 minutes. 

Lake near the end of the road...


Downtown Sitka


Nice house perched on a rock in the middle of the harbor.


I spent a while longer exploring the downtown and then parked in front of the only restaurant open besides McDonald’s! It was a Mexican/pizza place….but they did have a tasty enchilada. It began to rain soon after lunch and the forecast was for rain straight through until tomorrow. I had wanted to camp, but given the current and forecast weather, I got a room at the luxurious Super 8. The room was actually quite nice and squeaky clean. I made a tuna sandwich for dinner, listened to the rain pound on the roof and watched a bit of boob tube…a rare “treat”. After my fill of movie reruns…I was off to sleep.

Day 35-36 – Juneau, AK

Day 35-36 – Juneau, AK     09/24-25/10     Mileage: 0 

The past two days have been a nice break from the daily riding. Although the weather was cold and rainy, I still got to see the sights…and was glad to not have to ride in it! I ran some errands, tracked down a new headlight bulb for the bike and got a haircut. Juneau is a great town with a very walk-able and cool downtown area. I walked around with Phil, Kelly and Rebecca (and Fiona) and went to the Alaska Brewery to sample the goods! 

Sampling the goods at Alaskan Brewery...


L to R: Rebecca, Kelly and Phil at the Alaskan Brewery


Walking around downtown Juneau...


Walking around town...Rebecca and Fiona


I got to spend time with Dori and lots of her Forest Service friends which was great fun! They are a great bunch of people, all very friendly, adventurous and with interesting personal stories. 

Dori and a lot of her Forest Service friends...


She also took me to an “end of the tourist season” party at a local bar…well, end of the season save for one smelly biker! The Mendenhall Glacier near town was also spectacular despite the weather. 

The Mendenhall Glacier near downtown Juneau...


Tomorrow morning it’s up early and off to the ferry terminal to catch the fast ferry to Sitka.

Day 34 – Haines, AK to Juneau, AK

Day 34 – Haines, AK to Juneau, AK     09/23/10     Mileage:  Local mileage and a ferry ride! 

Morning came and it was not as cold as it had been and was also dry. After cooking breakfast, Phil, Kelly and I made our way to the ferry terminal to hopefully catch the ferry to Juneau! 

Haines Ferry Terminal


Rebecca and Kevin (the biker from NY I met yesterday) already had confirmed tickets, but Phil, Kelly and I would have to play the waiting game. 

Kevin and his FZ6...all the way from NYC...


The M/V Matanuska


 A ferry this size takes a long time to load, but after 3 hours of waiting…we got the OK to board…sweet! 

Strapping the bike down for the ferry ride...


After boarding and strapping my bike down, Kevin, Rebecca, Phil, Kelly and I had a bite to eat and then adjourned to the bar for a few drinks. 

L to R: Rebecca, Kevin, Phil and Kelly


We didn't see a single whale....from the bar. Go figure?


Enjoying the great views from the top deck...


Looking back towards Haines...


The scenery was spectacular as we were surrounded by mountains for the entire 5 hour trip. We passed a few lighthouses and several gushing waterfalls….but no whale sightings. 

Nice lighthouse along the way...


Phil, Kelly and Rebecca were all staying a few days in Juneau to see the town, and with the “”Sea Alaska” pass I bought (at the recommendation of the ticket agent) I had that option as well, so I decided to do the same. I can also stay over in two other ports on my way to Prince Rupert, which after reading up on Sitka and Ketchikan, I’m planning on hitting at least one if not both of those…we’ll see. Dori (the gal I met in Denali) also lives in Juneau, so I’ll try and catch up with her as well.

Day 33 – Haines Junction, YT, Canada to Haines, AK

Day 33 – Haines Junction, YT, Canada to Haines, AK     09/22/10     Mileage: 153
Today was going to be a short run from Haines Junction, YT back across the US border to Haines, AK to hopefully catch a ferry south. The morning was chilly and overcast but dry, which is always welcome. The scenery was good but got better the closer I got to Haines.


View from the road to Haines...


View from the road to Haines


View from the road 2 miles from the Canada/US border...


View of the Chilkat River near Haines, AK


Glad I never stayed there....or ever had a reason to! 😛


I passed Kelly and Phil (the two Aussie’s  I camped with back in Seward) on the side of the road who had their camcorder pointed at a bald eagle. They were already on the stand-by list for the ferry tomorrow, and that’s what I needed to still do. Once in town I went straight to the ferry terminal to get on the stand-by list…..and was glad to see I was number 2 on the list behind them. At the terminal I also met another biker from NY on an FZ6. His name is Kevin and he’s doing a big loop around the US and Alaska…and is also on the ferry tomorrow.  

View of the fjord between Haines and the ferry terminal...


Haines, AK


Haines harbour...


After that I went to the Lighthouse Bar for lunch and a beer. Phil saw my bike parked out front and stopped in to tell me where they were camped, and given the hotel prices, I was going to cap with them.  

The Lighthouse Bar - Haines, AK


It's never to early for a Jagger....


They were off to do a hike, and I went down to the end of the bay to a creek where there were supposedly a mama grizzly and 3 cubs feeding on salmon. Sure enough, at the creek there was one mama grizz with three cubs and another with one cub…all gorging…or already gorged on salmon. That was a very cool sighting and I’m glad I got to see that before I left Alaska.  

On the way to see the salmon buffet...


Mama grizzly doing some fishing!


Mama and the tree cubs...


Mama grizz and the cubs...


Wouldn't I feel stupid getting attacked in front of this I stopped to take a picture of the sign that says not to stop!


Then it was back to the campground which also had a hotel with wifi in the lobby. In the lobby I met Rebecca and her Doberman Fiona. It turns out that she already knew of Phil and Kelly as they had been playing road hopscotch passing each other on the way to Haines. Alaska is a big state, but with so few roads….you bump into the same people time and again which is kind of funny. Kelly and Phil made a nice hearty camp dinner for the 4 of us, and I capped it off with some 12 year old scotch that Phil was carrying…nice!  

Nice work Phil and Kelly!


 Rebecca had gotten a room for her and Fiona in the hotel and retired early for the warmth and clean sheets. Phil, Kelly and I stayed up as long as we could until the cold chased them into their van and me into my tent for the night.

Day 32 – Glennallen, AK to Haines Junction, YT, Canada

Day 32 – Glennallen, AK to Haines Junction, YT, Canada     09/21/10     Mileage: 443    

This morning may have been the coldest yet as the bike and the ground had a thick layer of frost. The temperature was in the 20’s, but it’s supposed to warm up to the low 50’s by the afternoon. Given the cold morning air, I waited until 10am before setting out for Haines Junction. Once on the road it was all business and I was hard on the throttle to make time. I did stop for one token picture, but because most of today was backtracking over ground I had already covered, I wasn’t compelled to stop for pictures despite the good scenery.    

Token picture of the mountains above Haines Junction, YT, Canada.


Once in Haines Junction, I found a room for $50 CAD. After updating the blog, I called it a night.

Day 31 – Seward, AK to Glennallen, AK

Day 31 – Seward, AK to Glennallen, AK     09/20/10     Mileage: 374
The morning was overcast but at least not as cold and damp as the last two nights in Homer. I said goodbye to Phil and Kelly and finished packing the bike. I had intended to go to Whittier and take the ferry to Valdez, but I completely misjudged how far Seward is from Whittier…so I quite literally would have missed the boat! Damn…I was looking forward to that. Now my only option was to backtrack through Anchorage to get back up to the Alcan and head south. My other ferry plan which I was considering was to catch the ferry from Haines to Price Rupert….which would not only cut the corner and avoid a good bit of backtracking down the Alcan, it also follows the inside passage which is supposed to be spectacular. It also makes several stops along the way and affords the opportunity to have a look around at some of those towns, most (if not all) of which are only accessible by boat or plane. Without the pressure to make the Whittier ferry, I also now had the opportunity to check out Exit Glacier just outside of Seward. It was well worth the stop and the short hike up to the glacier.  

Exit Glacier just north of Seward, AK


Exit Glacier


Exit Glacier


In 1951, the Exit Glacier was at this it's a mile away in the background.


Getting closer...


Exit Glacier


The sun was backlighting the glacier, too bad it did not really come out in the picture.


Scott and Becki had also recommended the town of Hope, so that was going to be my next stop. It’s about 15 miles from the main road and is a very quaint little town…and I mean little. I’m not sure home may houses are there, but let’s just say there is only one bar/restaurant, a café and a library….nothing else (that I saw anyway).   

Hope, AK


The only bar in Hope, AK...and it's closed...damn!


With that checked off the sightseeing list, now it was time to get on the gas and make tracks back up through Anchorage towards Tok Junction and the Alcan.   

The Matanuska River and Valley


I made it was far as Glennallen before night and the cold air that comes with it caught up to me. I found a “camp” style room for $59 at the Caribou Lodge. The shared bathroom was down the hall and the room had heat…kind of…but it was good enough for tonight. And, after 3 nights out in the tent with no shower, I was beginning to scare the wildlife when I rode by, so a shower was also part of the plan.

Day 30 – Homer, AK to Seward, AK

Day 30 – Homer, AK to Seward, AK     09/19/10    Mileage: 181  

 Morning on the spit was just as damp, wet, cold and foggy was yesterday…perhaps even a bit worse.  

This is a picture of a picture of the Homer Spit when it isn't covered in fog!


I decided to just pack up and head straight back to the Cosmic Kitchen for another breakfast burrito. So with the bike packed and helmet on, I thumbed the starter and…..nothing. I adjusted the choke, and tried again….nothing. Luckily I knew right away what was wrong….I’ve been meaning to clean my air filter after all those dusty dirt roads, but just kept putting it off. So, off with the helmet, out with the tool kit and when I pulled the air filter, it was caked with dirt. While all this was going on, my camp neighbor Curt (and his wife Deb) who I was talking to last night saw I was having trouble and came over to chat. We got to talking again and it turns out he is a retired California Highway Patrolman….a real life CHiP! He’s got over 500,000 miles in the saddle without an accident….amazing! He asked where else I was heading and I said down the west coast into Baja Mexico….etc. Just then he said “Baja…I have a place in Baja…you should swing by when your down there!” We exchanged info…and I sure hope the timing works out, it would be great to have a contact down in there. Not to mention that he’s a pretty interesting guy and he and his wife Deb are super nice. I sure am glad my bike didn’t start.  

Curt and Deb


So back to the task at hand…I poured some gas from the stove on the filter to clean it off, re-oiled it and put it back in the air box. This time when I pushed the magic button, my trusty KLR roared to life. With the bike re-packed, I said farewell to Curt and Deb and headed for town. The Cosmic Kitchen was closed, but I did find a place that also had a great breakfast burrito. So with both me and the bike full of gas, I started backtracking north up the Kenai towards Seward. The fog was still thick and the going was slow, but 80 miles up the road veered away for the coast and came out from under the fog into the glorious sunshine. The road then made its way into the mountains past the aquamarine waters of Kenai Lake.  

Kenai Lake


Once over Moose Pass the road descended into Seward with great scenery all along the way.  

View of a lake close to Moose Pass on the road to Seward...


Mountains above Seward, AK


View from the town of Seward...


Another good view from town


I pitched my tent in the town campsite right along the waterfront and then set off to find some wifi to update the blog.  

Camping in Seward, AK


Once done, it was back to camp for some tuna strohgenhoff…which you will not see on any menu anywhere for good reason. It was however hot and filled the hole in my stomach. My camp neighbors tonight were Phil and Kelly from Australia and were great fun to talk to!  

Phil and Kelly


They have been working in Banff the last two years and are taking a few months off to travel around Canada and Alaska. I asked if they know Webble…but they didn’t…though I will make the introduction! It also turns out we might be looking to get on the same ferry in Haines…that would be cool. So after a few hours of good conversation, we all called it a night.

Day 29 – Homer, AK

Day 29 – Homer, AK     09/18/10     Mileage: Local mileage  

 The cold fog that enveloped most of Homer last night came back with a vengeance this morning. The Homer Spit where I camped is a thin ribbon of gravel with few buildings that juts out into the open water. The tent fly was soaked with condensation and everything was damp. I decided to stay another night on the spit, so I left my tent up and went back to town to find some breakfast with a side of wifi.  

Here comes the fog...


The fog rolling in...


Looking down the Homer Spit...


My camp on the spit...


I stumbled across the Cosmic Kitchen which not only had wifi, but also the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had! After getting caught up on the blog, I did some grocery shopping and went to the hardware store for a few items. After that I went east out of town on a road appropriately named East End Road, as it was recommended to me by several locals.  

View of the bay from East End Road...


View of the bay from East End Road...


Looking across the bay at the glaciers...


Looking across the bay from East End Road


It turned to dirt near the end and went over a cliff down a series of steep switchbacks that brought you down to the waters edge.   

On the beach after the steep switch-back trail...


Just beyond where I stopped there were some Russian villages…which I think are holdovers from when Alaska was part of Russia.  It was well worth the trip as it also offered great views of the mountains and glaciers on the other side of the bay.   

Another view across the bay...


View of the bay towards Homer...and the fog...


After returning to town, I fueled up and went back out to the spit to the Salty Dawg for a beer (or two).  

Inside the famous Salty Dawg Saloon...


Back at camp I took in the great sunset, cooked some noodles and tuna for dinner and called it a night.  

Sunset on the Homer Spit...


Nice sunset at my camp on the spit...


Tomorrow I’ll backtrack north on the Kenai towards Seaward and Whittier.

Day 28 – Chugiak, AK to Homer, AK

Day 28 – Chugiak, AK to Homer, AK     09/17/10     Mileage:  253 

The last 2 days visiting with Scott, Becki and Glenn have been great, but the road beckons and I’m compelled to move on. I am so grateful that they welcomed me into their home, and I am humbled by their boundless generosity. The same can be said for Glenn as well, and I am glad to call them all my friends. 

Scott and Becki


Scott and Maggy, their black lab


So after yet another hearty meal, and a Billiken pin from Becki for good luck, I fired up the KLR and pointed it south towards Homer, AK on the southern Kenai Peninsula. Scott and Becki both gave me some great recommendations of things to see and do along the way down to Homer. The weather was cool but sunny and it was nice to be on the road again. The scenery, which is never bad it seems anywhere in Alaska, was spectacular on the road to the Kenai south of Anchorage. The soaring mountains plunge straight into the water called the Turnagain Arm at the north end of the Cook Inlet. 

The Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage...


The Turnagain Arm


It has the 4th largest tidal range in the world and is the largest in the US at over 30 ft.! Once up in the mountains of the northern Kenai, I stopped for lunch at a great overlook and put the new stove to use. 

Table for one...


Farther down the road I stopped for gas and got to talking to another biker on a really nice Honda VTX. After chatting for only 10 minutes, he offered me a spare room in his house and the garage to work on my bike if I needed it….I didn’t even know his name yet. 

Scott also showed me a great side road!


Mountains on the Kenai...


Taking in the view on the Kenai...


The weather was still great, but it was not to last as 20 miles north of Homer the pea soup they call fog up here rolled in off the water and the visibility became dangerously limited. Gladly I didn’t have too far to go, sand I was able to find my way out onto the Homer Spit to the Salty Dawg…a famous dive bar. 

The Salty Dawg


The Salty Dawg


After a quick beer, it was off to set up camp on the spit for the night.

Day 27 – Chugiak, AK

Day 27 – Chugiak, AK    09/16/10     Mileage: Local miles  

I arrived at Scott’s house around 8pm last night and was greeted by him and his wife Becki. Glenn was also there and it was great to see those guys again! After telling more stories and lies, Glenn left for home and I turned in soon after. In the morning, Scott had already left for work and I chatted with Becki over coffee for a bit before heading into Anchorage to run some errands. I went to an internet cafe for breakfast and to start getting back up to date with the blog. Next I went to REI for a new camp stove which cost me over 2 days of travel. I’ve begun to measure expenses over $65 (my daily average budget for all expenses) by how many days it shaves off the trip. The new stove cost $138, so I just shortened my trip by 2 days….bummer. The upside is saving money instead of eating out when I want a hot meal, so hopefully it will pay for itself and then some. After REI I went to the local Kawasaki dealer for some tech advice. I spoke with Shannon, who was a big help not only with advice but also helped to adjust my engine balancer chain tension which was well past the service interval.  

The Motorcycle Shop in Anchorage, AK


The other problem is that the tires were not balanced very well by the dealer in Fairbanks, and I’m getting a fair amount of vibration at highway speeds and some front end shake in high speed corners. The shaking and discomfort I can deal with…I just wanted to be sure I wouldn’t chew up my wheel bearings. After that it was back to Scott’s house for dinner. Glenn also came over and Becki cooked a great meal, complete with a blackberry crisp for desert.  

L to R: Glen, Scott and me


Next I tried on some local Alaska fashion…a beaver fur hat, vest and mittens…..stylish indeed!  

Local Alaska fashion...beaver fur with walrus tusk adornment…


More fur...I think the only endangered species in Alaska are the people who work for PETA! LOL!


After a good laugh mostly at my expense and more good conversation, I called it a night.

The difference between a trip and an adventure…

It is said that you are truly not on an adventure until something goes very wrong on your trip. I am fortunately still on a trip….but my friend Mark who I met on the big yellow Goldwing in Fairbanks, is officially on an adventure!

Here is an email I received from him yesterday:


Hello. I am in Smithers BC about 70 miles east of the southern terminus of the Cassair HWY. My new rear tire is being flown in from Vancouver this morning and the Harley Shop in town will install it. I had an interesting trip down from Fairbanks. I only encountered rain in the northern part of the Yukon. After a night in Whitehorse I got to HWY 37 (Cassair HWY- named after the big asbestos mining town that is closed down here near Jade City). I camped out on Dease Lake and headed south after about an hour I decided to put a piece of electrical tape on my face shield to act as a visor for the low hanging sun up here. This is a pretty remote place and no real shoulders on the road so I pulled over on the side of the road opened my saddle bag and got the tape out and as I was cutting the tape I saw my motorcycle go over and I mean over on the down sloping side of the road. I had seen bears on this road and there was no traffic. I tried to get the motorcycle back up and could not. I had picked this motorcycle up once before and its not that hard even though its about 1/2 ton with my stuff on it. So anyway here I am stuck on the side of the road in hungary bear wilderness.  After about 20 minutes of negative thinking and heavy self recrimination along comes my guardian angle diskized as Chuck and Kalyn in a motor home. Chuck helped me get my motorcycle back up and gave me a can of ” fix a flat”. Since they were probably from heaven (they said they did not have a redicence) they sure did know about the flat tire I was to have the next day. Anyway after surveying what is to be about $700 damage off I went to Stewart BC and on over to Hyder Alaska where I got Hyderalized (dank an once of grain alcohol which I needed) . Next day after thinking my tire gauge was broken I discovered that my rear tire was flat. Stewart is 210 miles from the nearest motorcycle tire shop. The guy at the only gas station in town said I could make it to the next intersection and top off the air there and make it on to the motorcycle tire shop in Smithers. I was thinking of the next intersection at 40 miles and he as it turns out was thinking of the intersection at 147 miles. Well when you hear air coming out of your tire you are not going to make 147 miles. I made about 52 miles and was back in hungary bear country with a flat tire no traffic. 3 cars did pass me but did not stop. Later the locals said they must have been tourist. I was able to get the” fix a flat” to finally partially seal the leak enough to get back to where I had seen an abandoned village. There I found an old man who did not speak english but lots of german. He had a compressor and after filling the tire several times and riding back and forth on the road several times to get the tire hot I got the tire to seal enough to make it back to Stewart. I  have Rescue Plus Insurance from the Goldwing Road Riders Organization I belong to and they pay for towing. But they only pay for 100 miles! I need a tow of 212 miles which the Goldwing people said would cost an additional $300 dollars ! So in the mean time I order a tire form Smithers Harley Davidson at $480!!! That’s for one tire. I could live my life in India for that price. Back at the gas station I told the owner who I hadn’t spoken to before I was desperate and he got his tire man on the tire and fixed it in 2 minutes with a plug. Turns out they had had some bad experiences with some motorcycles and weren’t too eager to help I guess. after spending another night at the campground in Stewart and noticing the tire pressure only went down 5 psi I drove to Smithers where I am now. That’s the end of the story. I have been out of wifi range for some time. That’s it. Bye Mark

Day 26 – Maclaren River Lodge to Chugiak, AK

Day 26 – Maclaren River Lodge to Chugiak, AK     09/15/10     Mileage: 253 

Just in case you didn’t know, it’s much easier to get out of bed in a warm hotel room than it is to get out of a warm sleeping bag in an ice cold tent. Dori and I met for breakfast and had some funny conversations with the local hunters, in particular one who went by the nickname Bing. Out on the road, we met up with him and he showed us how to spot moose and caribou….which is much harder than it seems. I’ve been getting a real education on hunting and fishing up here! We passed more stunning vistas of the ever present Alaska Range to the north of the road.  

Alaska Range


Dori looking for caribou


View from the Denali Highway...


Still more Alaska Range...


At the end of the Denali Highway, we turned south on the Richardson Highway…Dori to catch the road to Tok, me to catch the road down toward Scott’s house in Chugiak….just north of Anchorage. The scenery did not let up the entire way down to Chugiak, with towering mountains, fast flowing rivers and glaciers…including one that came within a half mile of the road.  

Wrangell Mountains along Rt 1


I think this is a "beaver"(?) plane...landing just 10 feet from the road!


The Chugach Range


Glacier in the Chugach Range...very close to the road!


Glacier in the Chugach Range...


 Tomorrow will be running errands in Anchorage before setting off for the Kenai Peninsula on Friday.

Day 25 – Denali National Park, AK to Maclaren River Lodge, AK

Day 25 – Denali National Park, AK to Maclaren River Lodge, AK     09/14/10     Mileage:  160  

After returning last night to camp it was time to plot my next move. Scott had recommended the Denali Highway the week before, which is actually a 135 mile dirt road that connects Denali National Park on the west end with the Richardson Highway to the east. One of my campsite neighbors, Dori, was also traveling that way and had also heard that it was a spectacular drive. We decided to travel the road together, so after a quick stop for coffee, we made our way for the Denali Highway….her in her SUV and me on the KLR. The scenery along the way was amazing, perhaps even better than inside the park itself.  

Mount McKinley from the Denali Highway...


The Alaska Range from the Denali Highway


Looking towards the Alaska Range


Yep, more of the Alaska Range...


And another...


Around 40 miles up the Denali Highway, we were flagged down by a hitchhiker from Germany. Karen has been on the road for 19 months and has some amazing stories…including rafting down the Yukon on a homemade log raft and hitchhiking all the way up the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse! Apparently I was in Deadhorse only a few days after her…and people think I’m crazy! Anyway, I of course had no room but she hopped in with Dori and we all continued on.  

Dori and her SUV, now with Karen riding shotgun...


Crossing the Susitna River with the Alaska Range in the background...


The Denali Clearwater Mountains...


Nice lake reflection of the Alaska Range...


After another 60 miles of desolate dirt road and one breathtaking view after another, we came up to the Maclaren River Lodge. It was a rustic but cute place complete with a heat, a restaurant, flush toilets and…a stocked bar. After two cold nights camping in Denali, that sealed it for me….I was forgoing the tent tonight in favor of a hot meal, a cold beer and a warm room with plumbing.  

Maclaren River Lodge


Maclaren River Lodge


Unique art pice of a salmon made from beer caps. The winters are very long up here.


The Maclaren River and Alaska Range in the background


A little after dinner pool....


 Dori also got a room and Karen set up her tent just across the road. After dinner and a few beers, it was off to bed…as tomorrow I had a long ride down to Anchorage to see Glenn and Scott.

Day 24 – Denali National Park

Day 24 – Denali National Park     09/13/10     Mileage: 0
The morning was coldest of the trip so far and there was a heavy frost on the tent. Fortunately, the skies were clear and the forecast was for it to remain clear and slightly warmer than normal….so I’ll take it! I caught the 8:30 bus out to the Eielson visitor’s center…an 8 hour round trip! There are no personal vehicles allowed…so the bus (aside from a 4 day hike) is the only way to get deep into the park and close to Mount McKinley. Normally I’m not one for guided tours or being led around by the nose, but I learned more and saw more wild life than I would have ever seen on my own…so it was well worth it. For the first time on the trip, I felt my point and shoot camera was wholly inadequate for the scale of the scenery and task at hand. Others on the bus with SLR camera’s and big telephoto and wide-angle lenses were getting much better shots of the landscape and of the wild life in particular. The power and grandeur of the scenery in the park and elsewhere in Alaska is not so much in the limited view of the camera lens, but in the scale of the scenery that goes uninterrupted from horizon to horizon. So, what you are seeing in the photos below is Denali as seen through a soda straw. That being said, I’ll let the pictures to the talking…  

Denali, Mount McKinley in the background...


Looking across the Teklanika River


Doll sheep


Polychrome Pass


View of the Alaska Range from Polychrome Pass


View of the Alaska Range from Polychrome Pass


Mommy grizzly and 2 cubs!


Looking towards Mount McKinley


Grizzly on the run!


Mount McKinley from Eielson visitors center


Mount McKinley from the trail above Eielson


Me with the Alaska Range in the background


McKinley from the ridge above Eielson


Alaska Range from above Eielson


Me with McKinley in the background from the ridge above Eielson

More posts coming soon…

Hi All!

I’m currently staying with Scott (the caribou hunter I met camping near Deadhorse) and his wife just outside Anchorage. I didn’t have access to wifi the last few days, so I will get caught up on the blog today. Thank you for all the great comments!


Day 23 – Fairbanks, AK to Denali National Park

Day 23 – Fairbanks, AK to Denali National Park     09/12/10     Mileage: 123 

I spent the morning updating the blog while I had a good internet connection. So, at the crack of noon, I set off for Denali National Park…..fortunately it’s only an hour and forty-five minutes down to Denali from Fairbanks. 

A funny sign on the way to Denali. I really like the two polar bears humping, that's a nice touch.


 The weather was spectacular…bright sun and cool…and the road followed a ridge overlooking two valleys and was a great ride! 

View from the road on the way to Denali from Fairbanks.


Had lunch at this place...the Monderosa...actually quite good!


Inside the Monderosa...


Looking across the river into Denali NP


I pulled into Denali and got a campsite for two nights. I also signed up for the bus to take you deeper in the park…$30..ouch. I’m sure it will be worth every penny. 



View from the park road...


View from the park road...


The Alaska Range from the park road...


Denali (Mount McKinley) in the distance from the road...a rare treat!


The Alaska Range


On the way to the campsite, I could see Denali (Mount McKinley) in the distance which from what I understand is a rare treat, as it is often cloud covered even on the clearest days. My mother must really be in good with the Lord! LOL. Tomorrow I should get a better look at Denali…I’m looking forward to it! 

Day 22 – Camp on Arctic Circle to Fairbanks, AK

Day 22 – Camp on Arctic Circle to Fairbanks, AK     09/11/10     Mileage: 190  

The morning sky was gin clear and the air was warm and dry. It’s ironic that the best weather I’ve had since leaving Colorado two weeks ago has been northern Alaska!  

Camp on the Arctic Circle...


Along the road back to Fairbanks...


They call this Finger Mountain...not sure why...


My mother, being worried as you might expect, said she would pray for good weather for me. Well, apparently her prayer on my behalf was answered…so thanks mom! After packing up I continued south back to Fairbanks, enjoying the great weather and views the whole way.  

On the Dalton Highway heading south...


View from the road could easily by Vermont...


 Once back in Fairbanks, I collected my gear from the hostel, found a self-service car wash to get the corrosive road grim off of the bike and then settled into an internet café to catch up on some calls and email.

Day 21 – Camp south of Deadhorse to camp on Arctic Circle

Day 21 – Camp south of Deadhorse to camp on Arctic Circle     09/10/10     Mileage: 368

Glenn and Scott had invited me over for coffee the night before, and I wanted to take them up on it. I asked what time and they said 5:30…I forgot those hunting types are early risers!  

Looking south to the sunrise on the distant Brooks Range


So, at 6am…I got up and wandered over to their camp for coffee and some hot water for my oatmeal. They were packing up to leave and head back to Anchorage.  

Glenn and Scott packing up camp...


They invited me over to their homes in anchorage for a shower, laundry and whatever else I need which was very gracious of them! Twelve hours ago we were strangers in the wilderness, now they have invited me to their homes…I think that is pretty cool. I sure am glad to have met them. So after bidding farewell, I was off to ride the last 60 miles to Deadhorse. As I got closer to the arctic coast, the weather turned foggy and overcast, but I was still in good spirits as the goal of reaching Deadhorse was within my reach! A little over an hour after leaving camp, I was there…Deadhorse, AK…the northern most “town” accessible by road in North America!  

Welcome to Deadhorse, AK!


I put town in quotes as nobody actually lives in Deadhorse. It does have a zip code, but it’s really a large industrial complex of buildings and support structure for the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Everybody there is working directly for the oil companies or for a company that services and supports them. That is of course except for me, the one lone tourist on that day.  

Paul would be in heaven up here...he likes snow machines...and they have every conceivable type up here!


More snow cats...


"Town" of Deadhorse...


The drilling process


The lavish Prudhoe Bay your heart out Fairmont Banff Springs


Fueling up at the gas station...


Drilling rig...I think...


So, after taking the requisite “trophy” pictures, there was nothing left to do but to head south! Next stop, 18,000 miles south of here in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.  

On the arctic tundra heading south...


Not a curve in sight...


Heading back to the Brooks Range...


Entering the Brooks Range from the north...


The Brooks Range


The Brooks Range...


The weather once again cleared as I left the arctic coast and the riding weather was great. I crossed back over the Brooks Range, fueled up and had a bite to eat in Coldfoot, then continued south.  

Real food...yum!


On the road south...


I setup camp right on the Arctic Circle and enjoyed another great sunset. Tomorrow, it’s back down to Fairbanks.