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KTMrad

Rad's AAA - Awesome Alaska Adventure

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Here is my trip write-up about my 3877 mile, 11 day Alaska Adventure.

It's long with lots of photos.......

Introduction:

A big part of the adventure on this trip was meeting loads of new people, and it all started on the plane flight up. I left San Diego on Saturday, August 20th. I talked to the woman sitting next to me and she and her family were from Anchorage. She was a college student there and ended up staying after marrying a guy in Anchorage. Then, on the next flight from Seattle, I met an older couple, Bill and Jeanette from Eagle River, just north of Anchorage. We had a great time talking and joking around, they even invited me to stop by their home if I had time on my ride, thought that was cool.

I got to Anchorage and GusGus was waiting for me outside the gate. We had never met before, but have been talking in the Great White North forum, and we exchanged photos so we would recognize each other. We went to baggage claim and got one of my bags, then we waited....and waited.........and waited til we were the last ones. My second, large bag with all my riding gear didn't show up, DAMMIT !! Went to the Alaska Airlines baggage desk and found out my bag went to Spokane instead and would come in the next day about 11:00am. This ticked me off a bit, but didn't let it ruin the start of my trip !! GusGus and I went out for a couple of beers. GusGus later dropped me off at the motel and he headed home at about 3:00am.

Next Day, Day One:

I finally got my bag at the airport and then got to the rental place (Alaska Rider Tours) at about 12:30pm. Fugawi and Legion were waiting for me. It took me awhile to pack up the V-Strom 650, I worked as fast as I could since they were waiting on me. Finally, we departed and headed north to GusGus's house where we all met to go on a ride he had arranged for some of the local Alaska ADVriders and I. As we left Anchorage, it started raining pretty good. It dampened my spirits a bit (we're so spoiled in Southern California), but when I met everyone and it was time to ride, I didn't care about the rain anymore !!

The bikes at GusGus's house

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The Alaska ADVrider crew, Ready to Ride !! L to R - Me, Legion, Fugawi, GusGus, KL5A

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They took me on some fun twisty roads as it rained on and off, we ended up for a photo opp at this river. They said it's usually blue and clear, but I guess the recent rains made it a raging river....

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Are these guys having any fun ?!! L to R - Fugawi (Don), GusGus (Don), KL5A (Chris), Legion (Mike)

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L to R - Don (R1150GS), Mike (KTM 950), Don (R1200GS), my rental V-Strom, Chris (Aprilia Pegaso)

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We headed up to Hatcher Pass, a fun twisty road that turns to dirt, with great scenery

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Road through Hatcher Pass. I needed to get the feel of the little V-Strom in the dirt, so I opened her up to see how she worked.

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The crew near Hatcher Pass.....since we got a late start, it was late afternoon....I couldn't decide if this was lunch or dinner ?!!

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Photo Opp at another overlook on Hatcher Pass Road

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These critters were running all around our feet.

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We rode down into the valley and it started raining hard again. GusGus was leading, I was behind him and we were moving along at a pretty good pace. I was getting comfortable with the V-Strom and how well it was working, even through potholes in the dirt road. We got down to the main road, where we had to part ways.

FYYFF......the Adventure Rider Salute !!

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As you can see the dark clouds behind us, I was headed into a lot of rain going northbound on the Parks Highway.

Shortly after leaving the group, I saw my first 2 moose of the trip on the side of the road, but no time to get a photo of them. After a couple of hours of rain riding, I needed a break and stopped at Trapper Creek Inn, near the Petersville turnoff.

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I thought about heading down the Petersville Road, but it was 8:30pm and knew it would be at least a 2-3 hour round trip, so decided to pass it up this time. One local woman in the tavern said "the only man in here on a bike ain't on a Harley"....I laughed to myself, thinking a Harley would not be my choice for riding all around Alaska. I got back on the bike and continued north.

Took some photos of the first mountains I could see along the Parks Highway, through the clouds at about 10:00pm at night......still light enough.

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My destination was Cantwell. I got to town at 10:30pm, found a lodge to stay at. The owner was asleep, but I rang the bell and I got the last opening, a nice little cabin for $105 (ouch !!). I found out what I heard was true, this was the average price during the summer in AK.

I went to the local tavern at the Cantwell Lodge, after throwing some groceries down my neck. I met and talked with the locals and had a good time :)

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I asked the bartender how much the rooms were and he said I could have one for $25......dammit !! It was too late to worry about it, and I knew my cabin was a lot nicer anyway.

Back at the cabin, I draped my riding gear and rainsuit all over the cabin to let it dry out overnight. Total mileage for the day was 290 miles, and the Adventure was just beginning...........

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Guest Lorrac Craig/Baja Designs

Randy,It took a couple of hours to go through the whole post, but man, it was worth it!!! Awesome pictures and story telling!!! And I am extremely jealous!!! I felt like I was on the trip with you, but somehow not!!!! I can't even imagine wanting to ride Ocotillo after all that! To bad there wasn't more single track though, but I guess you are already in the middle of nowhere. Thanks again for sharing your trip.

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Day Two

I woke up in the morning and put the coffeemaker in the room to good use. I stepped outside, it was 42 degrees, so I relaxed in the cabin, wasn't in a rush, and vegged out watching a Star Trek movie. Finally loaded up and got on the road about 10:30am.

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I went north and took the turnoff into Denali National Park and rode to the gated entrance to the park, where you can't take a vehicle. You must take a bus further into the park, so I turned around.......no busses for me this trip !! I was lucky to get a view of Mt. McKinley, far off in the distance........

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Rad Adventure Rider Posing with Mt. McKinley in background

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Back out on the Parks Highway, I continued north and took a photo of typical Alaska landscape......lots of lakes and rivers

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I had to go through some road construction zones. Most of the flagmen (uhhh, that would be "flagpersons" to be PC) directing traffic were women, wish I had gotten some photos of them, they all talked to me and were real friendly, and had no problem with me passing all the cars to the front of the line.

North of Fairbanks, I was headed up the Dalton Highway and my destination was Coldfoot tonight. I saw many dirt roads off the main road, and just had to explore some. I followed this one for a few miles as it paralleled the main road...

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The Alaska Pipeline in the distance

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The V-Strom on a Ridge......yes, I took photos of a RENTAL bike, but what the heck, it was mine for 11 days :clapping:

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Going up the Dalton Highway, there were forest fires burning for weeks..........

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Start of the Dalton Highway where it turns to dirt for about 80% of the rest of the way to Deadhorse

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Which way should I go ??

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Guess I'll go this way........

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Ahhh, nice to see this sign........

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But wasn't too crazy about this one.........

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I was delighted to hit this dirt road that I knew went on for hundreds of miles, the infamous "Haul Road" (Dalton Hwy.). I had fun gassing it around the corners, and getting the rear to slide a bit in the loose gravel in some areas. This road was built before they built the Alaska Pipeline, and is now used to haul equipment and supplies up to the oil fields at Deadhorse, Prudhoe Bay and the North Slope. The road runs along the Pipeline for hundreds of miles. Here, I went around a gate to get a couple of photos........

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Those tubes with fins on top of the pipeline supports, are heat exchangers. They refrigerate the poles underground to prevent the frozen tundra from defrosting.

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At the Yukon River

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This woodplank bridge was built specifically for the Haul Road to get to Prudhoe Bay, the only bridge in the U.S. which crosses the Yukon River.

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Dual Sporting on the banks of the Mighty Yukon....

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Turned around here, beyond this point the riverbank got narrower, and too soft...me no want to get stuck !!

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Mighty Yukon Rad Explorer

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Met Takeshi and Junko from Japan, on their honeymoon in Alaska. They originally were students in Los Angeles. He asked when I was going to Japan to go riding ? They were cool, we exchanged e-mail addresses............

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Interesting sign........they close the road for planes to land, the runway is right next to the road

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Here, I'm much closer to the forest fires........the pipeline is visible through the trees........

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Here's a burned out area from previous years.......the forest floor was covered with these blooming, bright flowers (fireweed)........it went on for miles, quite a sight to see !!

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On one section of freshly graded dirt, it was wet, but it wasn't raining out. I realized they had wet down the road to keep the dust down. Earlier, I was hauling at a good pace, but now the dirt got very slick. I felt the rear of the bike squirming around, so I slowed down to about 30-40mph for a few miles until it dried up again.

8:30pm at the Arctic Circle. LOOK........here's where I am...it's just a stinkin' sign !! I don't see no Circle ??!!

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I talked with Mike and Denise from Connecticut, in a motorhome at the Circle. They were envious of my bike trip, since they ride a Harley back home.

I arrived at Coldfoot at 9:50pm, the only services beyond the Yukon River on that 360 mile stretch of the Dalton Highway.

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I was ready for a hefty burger at the truckstop.......

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Coldfoot Camp.

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After dinner, I was going to camp right across the parking lot in a grass field, where I saw 2 other bikes parked. But when I heard the truckers parked out front with their diesel's running, I asked the waitress if there was another campground nearby. She said yes, a BLM campground up the road a couple of miles. I went there and picked out a spot at midnight. It was still light enough to not need a flashlight. I was the ONLY one in the campground, besides the campground host.

Crawled into the tent after a long, but fun day.......enduring the first part of the Haul Road. Total riding was 470 miles in 12 hours.

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Day Three

I woke up in the tent and heard it raining outside. Oh well, a little rain mixed in with some Adventure Riding sounds good for the day !! I rolled up the wet tent and tried keeping my riding gear dry as I packed everything up.

A lot of Alaska is arctic tundra, soft and wet in the summer, frozen in the winter, so most roads are built on gravel across the tundra......even the campsite was built up on gravel. It was so hard I couldn't use tent stakes, had to secure the tent and tarp with rocks........

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I went back to Coldfoot to the truckstop again for breakfast. I was talking to the waiter, trying to decide if I was going to do the Bonsai run all the way to Deadhorse. He offered to go get a gas can I could borrow if I was going to do it, since it's 240 miles with nothing in between. I declined, thinking I would only go to the end of the Brooks Mountain Range beyond Atigun Pass. As I filled up at the pumps, I ran into a guy named Randy and his son Ethan, I had seen them the previous day at the Arctic Circle. I told them I was heading up to Atigun Pass, and they said they were going to head that way also.

I got on the road at noon in the rain and headed north. It rained for the first couple of hours as I reached Atigun Pass.

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The Strom Posing alongside the muddy road......

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The road up Atigun Pass, up high on the left side of the mountain in photo

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I went up over the pass and noticed how the guard rails on the side of the road were thoroughly beat up, looked like they were well used by the haul trucks. Here's one of the big rigs, they are not 18 wheelers, but many are 22-28 wheelers !!

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Many of the truckers were courteous when passing me, and when I was stopped on the side of the road for photos, I would hear them downshift to slow down while going by, but some continued on at their normal high speeds right by me. I saw many people waving, even some of the truckers, as they passed me going the opposite direction, so I started waving to everyone (isn't that cute ?).

The Brooks Mountain Range after crossing Atigun Pass

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Jagged mountains as the Brooks Range dissappears into the arctic tundra

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As I went to the end of the mountain range, a little voice in my head was telling me, "go all the way, go all the way to Deadhorse".........Yep, I decided to finish the Bonsai Run even though I figured I wouldn't make it on the gas I had. I was really enjoying this ride, and the little V-Strom was working well at high speeds, hauling ass up the Haul Road !!

An area called "Ice Cut", a glacier probably carved this through the tundra

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I stopped on the side of the road to see the same bikes I saw camped in the field the night before in Coldfoot

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Jason from Anchorage, and his dad from Montana, were out riding around on a little XR 250L, and a DRZ400. They looked at the comfy seat on the V-Strom, and the rain gloves and booties I had on, and said "wish we had all that stuff, your ride looks more comfortable" !! Yep, I'm sure it was :P They had a gas can strapped on their bike and said if they found me on the side of the road, they'd make me a REALLY GOOD DEAL on the 1/2 gallon they had left........ :D

I continued on, my eyes scanning the dirt road ahead for rocks and potholes. On some of the paved sections, all of a sudden I would come across broken pavement and loose, deep gravel where the road had buckled. This was quite unnerving at high speed, so I decided to stand up a lot more, especially when going over a rise, so I could see further ahead. Slowing down a bit while standing, helped get through those gravel patches.

I came across a group of about 6 Caribou in the road. When they saw me, all but one ran off into the tundra. The other one decided to casually jog down the road ahead of me, so I followed him, trying to get a photo, but was not successful. He seemed lost since he was separated from the rest of his group. He finally also ran off into the tundra.

Further down the road, there were many bowhunters out hunting Caribou (you can't shoot a rifle within 5 miles of the Alaska Pipeline). One truck had five, 5 gallon gas cans on the back, so I turned around. I walked up to them, they ignored me for a minute as they talked, but then asked "what's up? " I asked if all their cans were full, they said yes. Asked if I could buy a gallon or two, they said sure. So I poured a gallon or two in the tank and they asked, "are you sure you have enough ? We don't want you to get stranded" I said yes and offered them some money, but they refused, So Cool !! I asked if I could get a photo.........

Dale and Martin, bowhunter Superheroes who saved the day !!

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The road went on for about 100 miles on rolling and flat, wide-open tundra. I rode on the banks of the Sagavani River

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and the colors on the sides of this plateau were similar to the Painted Desert colors in Utah, seemed odd to see those colors in this landscape.........

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After many miles of hauling, I pulled into Deadhorse at 5:30pm

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At the Self-Serve gas station, thought this was classic !!

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Airport in Deadhorse

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I went to the souvenir shop to buy a T-shirt that says, "Dalton Highway, Mission Complete - 415 miles of Adventure". I asked if anywhere had beer.....they said "NO". I asked, "How about a bar?", No was the answer. The guy said no alcohol up there. Man, after that long ride, I was looking forward to one, Oh Well !! I had a gatorade and then bought a 2-gallon gas can for the ride back, so I wouldn't have to rely on someone else for gas :clapping:

There wasn't much to see in Deadhorse, but it was still interesting to me. I imagined what it must be like in the dead of winter. It was 42 degrees when I left. Stopped to take a photo of these tracked vehicles for winter use on the north slope, there must've been hundreds of them in the area.......

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Also got a picture of what the tundra looked like for miles around

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Just as I grabbed my camera out of the side luggage, the bike started leaning over on the off-camber shoulder. I tried to hold it up by grabbing the lid of the pannier, but it didn't work. The Strom fell over on it's side and broke a front turn signal. I hoped this would be the only "tipover" of the trip.

Heading south now, back towards Coldfoot, I was scanning the tundra for animals and saw these, some extremely large beasts.........

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I couldn't quite make out what they were, thought they were Grizzlies, but didn't think bears hang out in groups...I zoomed in with the telephoto

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Later, I asked some hunters and found out the huge beasts were Musk Oxen, they live out on the tundra. Very cool, I've never seen that animal in the wild before.

On the Haul Road going south

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Colorful, rolling tundra as far as the eye could see........

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Only in Alaska.....this sign would be Politically, and Environmentally Incorrect anywhere else :good:

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Starting to get late, and darker.........

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Heading back through the Brooks Range towards inclement weather near Atigun Pass........

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As I rode up into Atigun Pass, the pass was obscured by clouds and I could only see about 10 feet ahead as I crawled along at 10-15mph. I tried to follow the shoulder and rocks on the right side of the road. At one point, I was startled by the headlights of an oncoming big rig, luckily he was over towards the center and I was on the right edge. On top of the pass, I needed to put on my rainsuit again, and filled up the gas tank with the 2 gallons I had in the gas can. The rest of the way back to Coldfoot was wet and dark, muddy and slippery. At one point, a trucker turned on his super bright floodlights before he passed me and blinded me with his lights !! That sucked.

I rode over 2 hours in the rain and arrived back in Coldfoot at 1:00am. Whew, that was quite a little day's Adventure !!

507 miles in 13 hours.

The big rigs out in the parking lot.......

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Back at the truckstop, the kitchen was closed, but the waitress was nice enough to warm me up a bowl of soup with some bread.

I was NOT setting up a tent after the long day, and in the rain, so I had to get a room in the old workers camp for $145 !! I didn't care at this point. The rooms are small, like a mobile home room, or a travel trailer. I unpacked my tent and tarp, wet from the night before, and sprawled everything out all over the room to dry out overnight.

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Time to pass out in the little, twin bed and snore the night away. :D

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Day Four

Woke up, packed up my stuff and went to the Coldfoot truckstop for the fourth and final time for breakfast. After a huge omelette (great grub at this truckstop !!), I remember a sign from Snowrider's Alaska trip report, and I had to find it and get a photo.......

Found it in the lobby of the so-called motel

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Little sidenote about Coldfoot.....they had low recorded temperatures of MINUS 81 degrees F, and a high of 90 degrees F, that's a 171 degree temperature swing !!!! WOW !!

Gassed up the bike and headed south on the Dalton Highway. I can't remember if it was raining, but I know it rained again later on in the day.

Here's a photo looking north, back towards the Dalton Hwy. in a valley with the pipeline running along the road

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Couldn't resist a photo of this sign....What a name, eh ?!! :clapping:

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The ride south on the Haul Road was wet and muddy again, with some more rain. After many miles of hauling on the Dalton in the previous 2 days, I realized if I stood up while riding through the slick, wet dirt, I could keep up a faster pace, 50-60mph instead of 30-40mph the 2 days before. It did 2 things: One - while standing on the pegs, I didn't FEEL the bike squirming around under me as much. Two - The bike handled better while standing on the pegs and it didn't squirm around as much. Later, I stopped at the Yukon River for gas again.

Muddy bike after many miles of wet, muddy road.

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Muddy boots. The Aerostich Boot Covers came in handy.

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Miles down the road, riding through more slick mud, I stopped for a photo of the slippery road

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As I walked back to the bike, I noticed this.......ROH ROH !!

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So, I dug out the tire plugging kit (which came with the bike), and my $80 Cycle Pump from Aerostich from inside the panniers. I had to strip the wires on the cycle pump so I could connect it to the battery. I pumped up the rear and couldn't find the hole. I thought maybe the tire slipped on the rim and broke the bead, but upon further investigation, I found the puncture. Earlier on I had ridden through a freshly graded dirt section, the dirt about 3" deep and all the rocks were scattered throughout. I could not see them or avoid them, that's how I figure I got the puncture. As I started working on the tire, a rain cloud moved in, and wouldn't you know, it started pouring on me. After plugging the tire, I pumped it up and it held air, so I packed everything up again. As soon as I was done, the rain cloud moved away !!

I figured I would take it easy the rest of the trip, riding with a plug in my rear tire, but that only lasted a couple of hours. Soon, I was riding at my normal pace again, not worrying about the plug !!

Finally I was near Fairbanks and stopped at the Hilltop Cafe and store. I met Roger Smith and his wife from Fairbanks. I asked them of a reasonable motel, and he suggested the Golden North Motel in Fairbanks.

Roger's Kawasaki Concours and his riding buddies....

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I asked the guy with the Triumph Tiger if he had taken it up the Haul Road yet, and he said no.....judging by his look, I don't think he would want to, the bike was all shiney and purty !!

I arrived in Fairbanks, had enough wet riding for the day after 272 miles down the Dalton Highway. This was the earliest stop for the evening so far, it was 8:00pm. They only had one room left at the Golden North motel for $95. I chewed him down to $80 for a nice double room, with a spare room where I hung my stuff all over again to let it dry out. Tonight I ordered pizza for delivery and passed out early for the night.

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Day Five

I woke up and had some coffee, juice and danishes at the continental breakfast in the motel lobby. I decided I needed to rinse the bike off, the oil cooler and radiator were plugged with mud and the engine and wheels must've had 10 pounds of mud on them. I used a motel hose and she looked a lot better afterwards. Mainly, I wanted the bike to run cooler and didn't want the mud wearing on any parts unnecessarily. I left Fairbanks at 11:00am (my typical starting times on this trip were running 10:00am to noon, I was in no rush, especially since I was riding about 12 hours a day most days).

I crossed this scenic river and canyon on the way down south on the Parks Highway (I had to go back the same way I had ridden before, quite a few times on this trip).

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I stopped in the tourist trap of a town called McKinley Park and had brunch. After eating, I was on the road and I started to get sleepy, don't know why. I couldn't control it, I was starting to nod off, shaking my head to desperately try to stay awake. I finally pulled off the road near a little cafe, put down the sidestand, sat on the bike, leaned back against my stuff and took a nap. It must've looked pretty funny to people driving by.......what the heck is that guy doing sitting on his bike, not moving ?? :D

I woke up, don't know how long I napped, maybe a half hour. I felt refreshed (power nap) and got back on the road, destination: DENALI HIGHWAY !! I've heard so much about this 134 mile road, mostly dirt, going from Cantwell to Paxson. Needless to say, I was just a weeeee bit excited !! :D

Start of the Denali Highway

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Heading east on the dirt road..........Yep, you guessed it, MORE RAIN !! :good:

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I didn't care, I was having a blast, riding through some spectacular scenery.

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Awe inspiring........

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The bike wasn't clean anymore........

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I love snow covered mountains, and the weather produced some fresh snowfall on them......

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About half way down the Denali Hwy., I saw this place.....I needed a beverage after all the rain.

Nope, this wasn't it.............

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Oh Yeah, I found it !!

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I walked in, my wet gear making puddles on the floor as I stripped it off. I hung everything near the stove. There were about 4 guys, a woman and the bartender. They all looked at me like they felt sorry for me. I turned to them with a big smile, and said "How's it going?" We started talking. Come to find out, these 3 guys were renting some KLR 650's from Alaska Rider (same place I rented from).

L to R, Yours Truly, Pat, Kevin, Mike

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Pat was the father of the 2 brothers, Kevin and Mike. They were having a great ride so far. They were from the Sacramento area in California, so we talked quite some time. They were serving the beer since the bartender had to run out to tow in a broken down motorhome. Surprised he trusted a bunch of Californians with the beer cooler !! :clapping:

I told them about the Adventure Rider website. Even though they never heard of it, they told me to tell y'all,

FYYFF !!

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As you can see, we were having a great time !!

They tried convincing me to get a room there, where they were staying, but I wanted to cover more ground tonight and start heading south after the Denali Hwy. They understood :cry We exchanged e-mail addresses, and we will certainly stay in touch. Kevin said there's some great riding up by where he lives.

Somewhere near the end of the Denali Road, the clouds started to break up.

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Ahhhhh, a little sunshine between the clouds and rain.

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I was having fun, moving along at a really fun pace, but still wary of the sharp rocks in the roadway. This was not as well maintained as the Dalton Hwy. I was a-swervin' and a-weavin' to avoid them, lovin' every minute of it.

I rounded a corner and saw this.........

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Look, it was Jo' Momma taking her kid out for an evening jog. You'd think she would teach her kid better manners, to stay out of the roadway.........some parents, I tell ya !! :P

A couple of Moos-asses

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I yelled to see if they would turn around to pose for me....

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Using the telephoto........she was a BIG MOMMA !!

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They moved off into the woods after a few minutes.......time for me to move on too.

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Summit on Denali Hwy. Most passes that you can take by road, are not very high in Alaska, but you feel like you're 10,000 feet up due to the awesome mountains around you.

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Awesome view of low-lying areas with mountains in the background

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Sunset on the Denali Hwy.

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A Glacier in the distance, at about 10:00pm

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I got to Highway 4 at the Paxson Junction. Saw a ratty looking motel, but figured I'd check it out. There was a R1200GS sitting out front, but nobody was around in the motel. It was raining again and I decided to continue south, and would hopefully find a place to stay soon. At 11:00pm, I found Atwater's Motel at the Meier's Lake Roadhouse, and man, was I glad !! Another 316 miles and 12 hours of great adventure !! Room was reasonable at $100, restaurant closed, so I got some packaged Tuna and crackers to eat for dinner at the room. Guess what......again, my gear was sprawled all over the room to dry out for the night :P

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Day Six

After coffee and breakfast at Meier's Lake Roadhouse, as I was packing my gear on the bike

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I checked the front tire. The knobs on the TKC-80 tire were getting REALLY low. I noticed the first day (after I left AKrider) that the tire probably wouldn't make it the whole trip. Today, I decided I would have to do something about it.

Heading south, I stopped at the Gakona Junction at a store with a payphone. I called Phil from Alaska Rider Tours and told him my dilemma with the front tire. I was expecting some friction from them, but instead I got nothing but cooperation. Phil said he would call around to try to find me a tire.

As I was waiting to call Phil back, I met little Mickayla

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She talked my ear off the whole time I was there, asked where I was from and where I was going, she was so cute and kept me company while I waited.

After about an hour, Phil called me back and decided the best option was to meet me about an hour away, and we would swap bikes. I said, "sounds good to me".

So I rode an hour west from Glen Allen, phil rode another bike 2 hours from Anchorage to meet me at the Eureka Lodge. As I waited in the cafe at the lodge, a guy working there told me I must see Top of the World Hwy. and Dawson City in Canada, and stop at the Chicken Saloon. I said I was thinking about it, and he reinforced that I must try to make it up that way this trip.

Phil showed up on the Blue V-Strom (I liked the blue better !!) about 3:30pm. The knobby on the Blue Strom looked good, but the rear tire on my bike was better than the one on the blue bike, so I helped Phil swap the rear wheels.

Phil (owner of AKrider) swapping wheels.

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Phil said he'd give me an extra free day on the rental, I said awesome, and I even decided to extend my trip another extra day on my own, since I wanted to see MORE !! A big thumbs up to Phil and Alaska Rider !! He said their goal was to make my trip enjoyable, safe and hassle free.

After talking quite a bit while swapping tires, Phil said since I told him at the start of the trip about the ADVrider website, now he couldn't get his people at the shop off the website :clapping: They were into all the photos and trip stories.

We parted ways, I thanked Phil and I headed east again. I was doing about 85mph and a Trooper lit me up as he passed me going the opposite direction. Dammit !! I watched in my mirrors and didn't see him turn around, then pulled over at a turnout. Waited a few minutes......he never came back, he must've just been giving me a warning...cool, lucky me !!

At the Glen Allen Junction, it looked like nasty weather heading north, so I turned south on the Richardson Hwy.

Wrangell Mountain Views along the Highway.

Mount Drum - Elevation 12010 Feet

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Mount Sanford - Elevation 16237 feet

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Mount Wrangell - Elevation 14163 feet

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Further south, it looked dark towards Valdez, so when I got to the McCarthy turnoff, the weather looked clear heading east. I took the 95 mile road towards the mountains to McCarthy.

Stopped at Liberty Falls

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Then at this Historic Bridge

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You're not supposed to stop on the bridge.........

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The gorge below

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Looking straight down from bridge at the sheer rock walls and river below

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Sunset on the McCarthy Road

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This road is about a 70 mile dirt road to McCarthy, and is known for sharp rocks and old railroad spikes protruding up from the surface. I was movin' along at about 50-60mph. It started getting dark and I thought to myself, "don't be an idiot, Slow Down !!" This road was different than the Denali and Dalton Hwy. This one was much narrower and the trees came right up to the sides of the road, so if an animal ran out I would have no time to react. I slowed it down to 30-40mph as it got darker.

After 192 miles on the new, blue V-Strom, I arrived in McCarthy at 10:00pm and got a cabin at the Kennecott River Lodge. He wanted $100, but again, I chewed him down to $75. Only thing in the cabin was a bed, futon, gas heater and gas lamp. First thing I did was ride across the river on the walking bridge to find something to eat.

As I pulled into the tiny town, I saw a bunch of bikes out front.

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I met a few of the riders as they were heading to their rooms. They were the other group from Alaska Rider. I had now met everyone renting bikes from AKrider on my trip......too cool !!

The Golden Saloon was open, kitchen closed, but they still made me a sandwich with soup. I met and hung out with some of the crazy upstate New Yawkers who were riding the KLR's.

L to R Me, Dennis, Tony

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Whenever I mention the ADVrider salute, they are always happy to oblige !!

Good Alaskan Ale

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Bartender Rebecca and her pooch

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Scott, (originally from upstate NY) a local living 10 miles down the dirt road. He's been riding a Harley up and down the rough dirt road for years. He loved hearing about my trip.

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We all had a great time until we got kicked out at closing time. I rode back across the river to the cabin. Today was the first day I didn't even wear my rainsuit, so all my stuff was dry. I went to bed, looking forward to another fantastic day tomorrow.

Rad

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Day Seven

I woke up and looked out the back window of the cabin....WOW !! Nice scene and blue skies !!

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Cabin

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The only way I could ride the bike to the cabin was up this single track trail through the trees, my only single track of the whole trip, a whole 200 feet long :good:

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Off to breakfast across the foot bridge

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View from bridge up the Kennecott River

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Breakfast in McCarthy

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M & M - Margaret (Ohio) & Megan (Palmer, Anchorage)

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I enjoyed talking to them during breakfast, they both work up there during the summer. Margaret had her laptop out, she said it's the only way up there to stay in touch with the outside world. Megan said she'd lived in Alaska for 8 years, and I'd seen more of the state so far on my trip than she had yet, poor girl.

Old buildings in McCarthy with awesome backdrop

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After a good buffet breakfast and talking with the girls, I hopped on the bike and rode the dirt road for 5 miles to Kennecott mill and mine site......

The mill & mine was more than I expected..........

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The richness of copper ore here sent the Kennecott Corporation on it's way to becoming a multi-national giant

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Inside the buildings, I saw scaffolding, planks and worker's tools. They are shoring up the buildings to prevent them from collapsing. The mine and mill was closed in 1938.

I saw Randy & son Ethan from North Carolina again, who I had seen in Coldfoot a few days before.

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They couldn't believe they ran into me here !! They never made it to Atigun Pass on the Haul Road a few days ago. I told them I went to Deadhorse, they laughed because when I saw them in Coldfoot, I said I wasn't going all the way to Deadhorse.

Glacial Moraine, which is debris leftover from when the glaciers carve their way through rock. The woman at the National Park booth said below all that debris is ice about 200 feet thick.

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Mountain and glacier view from Kennecott

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After an hour in Kennecott, it was time for me to head back.....destination today was Valdez.

Typical scenery and road surface on the McCarthy Road

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These stacks of rocks are what's left after a glacier carved through the area :D

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Breaktime under the bridge at the Kuskalana River Gorge

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When I got out to the main road, I headed south for Valdez on the Richardson Highway. I got to the Worthington Glacier and had to stop to check it out.

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Closer view

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I guess I'm a Glacier Nut......too many photos here, but I think it's cool.........cool, get it ?!! err err err :clapping:

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Up close and personal with the glacier

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The valley below that was carved by the glacier over thousands of years

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Close-up of rock showing scrape marks as the glacier moved across it.

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Glacial Ice is at least 40-50 feet thick here.

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Glacial Rad Explorer

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Looking down at the very bottom of the glacier, where it grinds through the rock as it slowly moves across it.

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I found this all so interesting and amazing to be so close to it. This glacier has been there for who knows how many thousands of years.

Leaving the glacier, I saw a dirt road and had to explore it, I couldn't make it across this stream.......

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At an overlook on the pass, I saw a two-track jeep trail going over a ridge, so had to check it out

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View from top of ridge towards valley below, leading down towards Valdez

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Spectacular view from top of ridge

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I think I was having a good time here.....

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Scenery posing with Me....

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From the top of that ridge, I saw another two-track trail heading down a ridge towards the valley, of course I had to go down it......

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I had to turn around because it got rocky and the little V-Strom didn't have enough ground clearance.

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Stream crossing

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Back on pavement towards Valdez, Bridalveil Falls

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I heard the scenery on the way to Valdez is great, and I was not dissappointed !! The road through a canyon on way to Valdez.

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Roads end, as far south as I could go in Valdez.

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Oil Tanker terminal at end of the Alaska Pipeline.

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View across the bay.

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Ferry coming in.

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Before I went to dinner, I called GusGus's house to let them know all was going well. His wife Mary answered and said he and FriarMike were on their Saddle Sore 1000 Ride today. I said I was in Valdez and she said they were ending up there today. I rode around town for 15 minutes looking for them, but figured they had already come and gone, so I went to dinner at the Totem Inn. I had an awesome Teriyaki Salmon dinner and talked with a few people sitting at the bar. Afterwards, I decided I was going to head north while it was still light out, and cover some more miles.

On the way out of town, I saw 2 Beemers heading into town....I realized it was GusGus and FriarMike, COOL !! I hung a U-turn and we pulled over, they were glad to see me, as I was to see them. Friarmike led the way to his favorite restaurant, "Mike's Place" :D

FriarMike and his BMW

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I talked while they ate dinner

Friar, Rad, Gus

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Posers out front of restaurant: Mike, Randy and Don

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Friar and Gus saluting as they were homeward bound, 2 hours ahead of schedule on their Saddle Sore 1000.

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After hanging out with Mike and Don, it was late and I realized I wasn't doing any more riding tonight. I stopped at a local dive bar and hung out with some scruffy, tough local fishermen and oil workers. Had enough and then rode a few miles out of town to the Glacier Campground and pitched my tent. The clear night sky was full of stars.

Total mileage today was a mere 235 miles. I just couldn't believe that the scenery could keep going on and on.......and on and on, it was almost overwhelming, but that's not a bad thing.

More to come............

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Day 8

Woke up and got out of the tent about 7:00am, it was pretty chilly out. I was glad to see clear skies and this view from the campsite

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It was nice to pack up a DRY tent in the morning. This was the second and last night of the trip I would camp.

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Went to the Totem Inn for breakfast. Met Greg and Dennis from Los Angeles on rental Harleys. As I ate breakfast, talked with Ted from Idaho, who goes to Alaska for the winters to drive a big rig. He told me I should go check out all the dead salmon on the other side of the bay, so that's where I headed after breakfast.

Thousands of dead salmon in the water and along the shore as they die after they spawn.

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Some salmon still flopping and jumping around before they die.

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Left Valdez at about 10:00am and headed back the way I came. More waterfalls along the road norhtbound.

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Up near the Thompson Pass, I saw a big helicopter in a gravel parking lot off the road. I stopped to get some photos.

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I wondered what they were doing, so I rode down to talk to the crew.

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They had just lifted a 10' x 24' building up onto the high mountain above us. As they loaded up the chopper, I told them their photo would be posted on ADVrider and people from all over would see it.

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Another chopper coming in for a landing.

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I hung out until they were taking off. The co-pilot was motioning something to me. I pointed, asking if he wanted me to move, I was only about 100 feet from the chopper. He shook his head NO. He kept motioning something to me, I couldn't figure out what he meant. As the blades rotated faster and faster, I figured out what he meant. I started getting pelted with sand and gravel from the turbulence created by the blades. I ran for cover behind the bike, and had to hold the bike from falling over. First my gloves blew off the bike, then my new helmet blew off the bike and went rolling across the gravel. I didn't know any better, I bet they were thinking what a DORK I was !! :clapping: I got this on video, but don't know how to post it.

After wiping the dust from my camera, face and eyes, I hopped back on the bike and continued north. Destination today: Top of the World Highway towards Canada.

After covering over 200 miles, I needed a break and stopped at this overlook with a historic sign about Allen's expedition through the area.

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I sat and pondered what it must've been like 150 years ago exploring the valley below.

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I got up to the Tok Junction later in the afternoon. After gas, I saw a guy ride by on a fully loaded BMW. I had to follow him to find out if he was from ADVrider and just to meet the guy. Met up with him in a store parking lot.

I said, "Looks like you're on one hell of a trip".

He said, "Looks like you're no slouch yourself".

Me: "Where you headed".

Him: "Top of the World Hwy. and Dawson City".

Me: "I was headed up that way also !!"

Him: "Looks like I got a riding partner."

Chris was from Ontario, Canada and had been on the road 3 months since May 1st........too cool !!

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We rode east to the Tetlin Junction, then north on the Taylor Highway. I wanted a photo at this sign.

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We continued north as the pavement turned to dirt and had to stop at the World Famous Chicken Saloon.

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As we checked the place out, the bartender, another Randy, asked where we were headed. We said into Canada, and he said, "The border crossing closes at 8:00pm sharp, it's an hour and a half drive there. You're not going to make it, so you might as well pitch your tents, stay the night and party at the saloon". We laughed, it was 6:30pm and we knew we could make it the 70 miles to the border.

We got on the bikes and hauled ass up the dirt road. This road was in pretty good shape. I stopped to wait a couple of times, make sure he was doing OK on his heavily loaded 1150GS. He was never more than 15-30 seconds behind, so I opened up the V-Strom to a blazing pace.

Next stop was at a turnoff, where I decided to hide my Ruger .454 Casull cannon under a rock in the woods. Chris pulled up a couple minutes later, he was a little further behind this time since I had railed those last few miles.

We got to the Canadian Border at 7:45pm with 15 minutes to spare, we rode 70 miles (mostly dirt and gravel) in an hour from Chicken !!

Chris pulling up to the border

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Canadian Side of Border

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Female Border Guard: "Do you ever carry a handgun on your motorcycle?"

Me: "No" :D

Guard: "Did you stop anywhere before the border to hide a gun ?"

Me: "Nope" (I had to stop myself from laughing) :good:

Guard: "You have any alcohol with you?"

Me: "Yes, a couple of beers in the cooler".

Guard: "How many is a couple, 2 , 3 or 4 ?"

Me: "Let me think...I guess there's 3 left in the cooler".

Guard: "OK, you're free to go".

Funny how she wanted exact answers.

We continued towards Dawson City for 58 miles on the Top of the World Highway.

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Since we weren't in a rush anymore, we took a little break and talked more. Chris was a retired dentist from the Canadian military, so his nickname was "Doc".

Doc with his 1150 Adventure.

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Sunset on Top of the World

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Crossing the Yukon River on the ferry to Dawson City

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We were going to camp for the night, but it was 10:00pm, I didn't feel like pitching camp, and since Doc hadn't had a motel room in 3 months and no real shower in 12 days, I offered to pay for a room for the night. He was pretty happy with that idea !!

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After getting a room, we went to Bombay Peggies

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The band was packing up, but the singer sat and talked with us for awhile

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I forgot her name and didn't write it down, but she and Doc are in a deep discussion here

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We later headed to "The Pit", where it was crowded with younger people dancing to the live band. After having a little bit of fun, we headed back to the motel about 2:00am. We talked more until it was time to pass out.

It was a long, 480 mile day of fun, awesome riding and meeting new, interesting people along the way.

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Day 9

I woke up the next morning with a bit of a headache, maybe it was from too much fun last night ?? Chris and I talked for a bit, but we both napped off for awhile longer. We got up to start loading up the bikes about 11:00am. Doc thanked me for paying for the room and he got his first real shower in 12 days.

New friends posing with the bikes

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Doc's FULLY loaded GS-Adventure

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Doc had put on over 10,000 miles so far and today would slowly start to work his way back through Canada towards Ontario.

Breakfast at Klondike Kate's

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We talked more at breakfast, we both had a lot in common. I found out what an interesting character Doc is. Since he's a retired dentist from Canadian Military, one thing he does in semi-retirement; he goes to 3rd World Countries, Bolivia and the Phillipines, for example, and donates his time to do dentistry on poor people's teeth.......the guy has a big heart !! I told him he should check out the ADVrider website, and he said he does not do the computer thing......I said, "Good for you." That's pretty unique nowadays also.

Doc paid for breakfast, then we went to get gas. He wanted to fill my gas tank up, but I said he didn't owe me anything for the motel room last night. I went to pay for my gas, but Doc was stretching the gas hose from his bike to mine and already filling up the tank. He said, "California, your american money's no good here". What a guy !! We said our goodbye's and both headed into town to look around.

Dawson City is quite the place, right out of an old western movie, I'm glad I went there.

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They have refurbished a lot of the old buildings, and anything new is built to match the old.

Think this sign says it all.............

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Surprisingly, they're still standing

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Ferry crossing the Mighty Yukon River

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Back on the Top of the World Highway

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It feels like you're riding to nowhere on Top of the World

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Back at the Border

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Rocket Man (what Doc called me after we blazed up to the border day before) on the US side of Border Crossing

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Historic Jack Wade Gold Dredge

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Back in the nothing of a town called Chicken, Alaska !!

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Susan, the owner of the Chicken Saloon, Mercantile and Cafe

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I only planned on staying a short while, but as they mentioned, many people get SUCKED IN to the whole Chicken Scene.......guess what, I got sucked in. The more people that came in, the more stories kept flying, and the longer I stayed :good:

They have a steel pipe they use as a cannon and shoot panties, toilet paper, etc. out of it.

Panties and other undergarments previously fired from cannon, hanging from ceiling :D

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Bartender Randy

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Tucker, the 3 legged hound dog

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These 2 couples I saw in a motorhome on the ferry at Dawson City, came in from Toronto. They were all originally from Estonia, some country near Finland. They were a hoot !!

Olaf, Ann, Anu and Sulev

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Seems we all missed some action when the night before, a 76 year old woman shot her panties out of the cannon :D

Met Louis and Joy from Knoxville, Tennessee, they ride Harleys back home

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After getting sucked into the Chicken Scene for 4 hours, at 8:00pm I left and headed south towards Tok. I passed up the opportunity to top off with gas in Chicken, since we had made it all the way from Tok to Dawson the previous day. That proved to be a mistake.

I was doing another blazing pace down the Taylor Highway to Tetlin Junction, the fuel gauge getting very low. The bike started sputtering as I approached Tok and within a half mile of a gas station, the bike came to a stop. I laughed, thinking that was pretty stupid !! :clapping:

I pushed the bike down the side of the road to the gas station. After only 200 miles and a great time spent in Chicken, it was 10:00pm and the Young's Motel was across the street. A guy named Steve from South Carolina asked me "how is it ?"

I asked, "what, the bike or the trip ?" He asked about the V-Strom and where I rented it. He rode an 1150GS back home so was real interested about the rental and my trip.

Afterwards, I got a room after dinner at Fast Eddy's. It had been an easy day of riding after a great time in Dawson City and Chicken, AK !!

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Day 10

Today would be a long riding day, but not much to report and minimal photos.

I first had breakfast at Fast Eddy's and saw a K75RT BMW sitting out front. I met Roger from Fairbanks, who was just returning to Alaska from a trip to Washington State. I saw him sitting alone at a table so we started talking and had breakfast together. Then it was time to hit the road.......

Roger from Fairbanks

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I headed south from Tok on Hwy. 1 (again) towards Glen Allen. It looked like rain when I left Tok, but didn't put on my rainsuit, thinking positively for the day. But less than an hour down the road, I had to stop and put it on. At Glen Allen, I rode west on the Glenn Highway towards Anchorage. It started raining pretty good. I felt the bike hydroplane every once in awhile across the puddles in the road. At one point, I had to pass a Convoy of about 20 Military vehicles.

I stopped for some photos of the Matanuska Glacier off in the distance on south side of the road.....

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When I got to the town of Sutton, I needed a break after hours of rain riding. I stopped for a beverage at a local tavern. Nobody but the bartender was real friendly there. I decided to call Moosekiller from ADVrider in Anchorage, but he wasn't home. I continued on towards Anchorage. I ended up passing that same military Convoy about 3 times. On one section, I passed the whole Convoy on twisty, wet roads, over the double yellow, going through the canyon on the way to Anchorage. I just couldn't sit behind them doing 30mph for miles !!

When I got to Eagle River, I decided to see if I could find the house where the couple lived that I had met on the plane flight to Anchorage. I couldn't find their house easily, so I gassed up and continued towards Anchorage. I thought I might spend the night in Anchorage, but upon further contemplation I decided I needed to ride my ass off and see the town of Homer on my last day. So I passed through Anchorage heading south on Hwy.1.

Outside of Anchorage, the scenery gets really good and the road parallels the shores of the Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm. I was treated to some awesome mountain views along the inlet.

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Sun starting to go down......

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I saw some cars pulled over on the shoulder of the road, and people looking into the water so I had to see what was up. Besides the sunset, there were Beluga whales swimming just off the shore. Couldn't catch them in any photos.

This is definitely one of the best sunsets I have ever seen.

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A Wee Strom Sunset.........

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I took about 15 photos of the sunset (I won't post them all here) because the photo opps were so spectacular. I continued south in the rain and saw many places to stay for the night, but it was too early to stop. I kept on riding, and then it was getting late. I hoped to find a place by 10:00pm, and sure enough, at 10:00 I rode into the town of Cooper Landing and pulled into the first motel and restaurant I found. Room for $100, restaurant closed, but they warmed me up some soup and made me a sandwich.

I retired to the room after 441 miles and 11 hours in the saddle.

One more day left................

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Day 11

Last and Final Day. I looked out the door of my room at the Sunrise Inn to see rain clouds around the mountain across the street. Yep, raining again.

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Had breakfast at the restaurant and enjoyed talking to Bob from Yuma, Arizona. It's a small world, he was visiting Alaska to see his daughter in Anchorage, and also going on some wildlife photography tours. He has another daughter in San Diego, just a few miles from where I live.

I also talked with the cute waitress who had a good story about the bachelorette party she went on with some friends. Their party consisted of hiking in the mountains, where they encountered a bear up close. One of the girls shot a .44 magnum in the air, the bear didn't even flinch, they were yelling and waving their arms, the bear just casually turned around and walked off. I guess that's what you do in Alaska for fun !! :blink:

At 10:00am, I got on the road heading south down Highway 1. Later on, I was being followed by a State Trooper for a few miles. I got tired of having him tailing me, so I pulled off to let him go by. Where I stopped, I saw this sign and thought it was funny.......think he's trying to make a point ?!!

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I got to the southernmost town on the Kenai Peninsula about 12:30pm. Finally it cleared up for a bit and stopped raining.

Uhhhh, here I am again.

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View from Overlook above Homer, with the piece of land called the "Homer Spit", jutting out into the bay.

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On the shore of Kachemak Bay, Road's End on the Homer Spit.

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View from the Homer Spit across the bay.

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My friend John in San Diego used to work a lot in Alaska, he told me if I make it to Homer, I must visit The Salty Dawg, so I did.

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Inside the Salty Dawg....

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Enjoying a local "Homer Brewed Ale".........I should've called this trip, "Bar Hopping Alaska" :drinks:

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Met more people, these 2 guys were renting a 4x4, touring Alaska, Bob and Bill from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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And guess who I ran into.........Kevin and Pat, who I had met in "The Sluice Box" on the Denali Hwy. a few days earlier. :friends: They had already turned in their rental KLR's to Alaska Rider and were down visiting a friend from Homer, then going on a wildlife plane flight to photograph Grizzlies. They couldn't believe I was there and all the miles I had put on. They had an awesome ride on their trip also !!

When I said I had to get a photo, first thing Pat said was, "Are we doing the SALUTE ?!!" :D

Me, Kevin, Pat........

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After running into Pat and Kevin, it delayed my departure from Homer back towards Anchorage by an hour. They said, "You're flying out tonight, and have to be back at Alaska Rider by 6:00pm ?!!" Yep, I was pushing the limits. I left Homer at 2:00pm and had 4 hours to go about 225 miles.

I headed north again on Highway 1 and knew I had to make some serious time. It started raining again, so had to stop and put on the raingear. Luckily I encountered no Troopers, at the pace I was going.

I arrived in Anchorage at Alaska Rider Tours to return the rental Wee-Strom at 6:02pm. Whew !! I just made it after 371 miles in about 6 hours of riding.

As I was unloading all my stuff from the bike at Alaska Rider, Rob and Nicole saw me pulling all my stuff out of the Panniers on the bike and said, "Man, you sure made good use out of the Panniers. You keep pulling more and more stuff out of them".

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Rob and Nicole

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I rode 3877 incredible, awesome, spectacular miles in 11 days, and I toasted the tire on the rear that was brand new when I left.

I highly recommend if anyone wants to ride Alaska, to look up Alaska Rider Tours in Anchorage.

They had a shower to use after I unloaded, so I took advantage of it before Rob drove me to the airport for my 9:30pm flight out.

I still didn't stop meeting people. At the airport cafe, I talked to 2 women, one was Maddy from eastern Washington. She's an Alaskan Native, who moved to Washington State. She still works in Deadhorse, doing catering in the summertime. She has 2 Harleys back at home.

Maddy

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On the flight from Anchorage to Seattle, a guy named Kevin sat next to me. He was a bush pilot who lives in Seattle, but works in Alaska, flying supplies and picking up locals to air-taxi them into towns so they can go shopping. He had some interesting stories and was quite the character.

On my next flight, after a 4 hour layover in Seattle, I slept most of the way on the plane from Seattle to San Diego and arrived home at 9:00am Thursday morning.

Cody Boy was happy to see me.........

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Words can't even describe how great this trip was and all the interesting people I met, and the new friends I made. The scenery was spectacular and this is a trip I'll never forget.

For anyone thinking about going to Alaska and doesn't have the time to ride up, I highly recommend renting a bike from Phil and the folks at Alaska Rider Tours....they're great people !!

"And that's all I have to say about that."

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Well, I sat down at the computer to do the bills and all and figured I'd check to see if there was anything interesting going on . . . :friends:

Great write up Randy and excellent pictures too!! Sounds like you had an incredible adventure with minimal problems. Makes me want to go!

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I really enjoyed your write up and pictures of your trip!! Great write up and super cool pictures!! :blink: It's kind of inspirational for me (noob on the adventure riding experience)... I sure would like to try that some day... :D but, then, there's just so many places I want to explore before I pass on... :friends:

Thanks a lot for sharing!!! :drinks:

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I had plenty of time to get my next appointment, now I'm late because I sat and read the whole thing....dang it Randy :friends: I got to get up there on the uberpig now...see what you've done :drinks:

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.

Hey ..Randy........... Did anyone ever tell you, that you .................

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.

Oh , never mind...I'm sure your tired of hearing that...

.

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Great writeup Randy, trip of a lifetime, eh? Nice story and nice pics, really captured it.

Thanks guys....

Larry, every trip I go on lately, seems to be the trip of a lifetime....they're all good !

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