Saturday, May 7, 2011

Way Up North

July 3

This morning started with a sunny smile. We packed up from our "side of the road" spot and rode a couple miles for breakfast from a restaurant. Getting tired of oatmeal the egg and cheese sandwich with French toast was a real treat.

Today we are on the Alaska Highway and will be on it until Fairbanks.

Leaving the restaurant after breakfast

He spectacular views never ended the whole day. From one range to another, the snow capped mountains were with us the whole day.

Then the construction started for 20 k's. From loose gravel to pavement Athens back to gravel. Speeds slowed considerably and dust was everywhere.

We pushed it as far as we could until the bikes decided to stop for fuel. Having planned for this, it was a welcomed break. W pulled off the road and added the extra fuel

Then we were back on t he road towards Destruction Bay

We were greeted by Kluane Lane and it's turquoise water at the base of a rocky mountain range. It was hugh and everywhere you looked was amazing. It required a stop...

At our last gas stop for the day we were told that the road ahead was slow going with a lot of construction. We decided to stop and camp, get a good rest and tackle the gravel tomorrow. We found an old campground that seemed run down, but had a huge white tent on the grounds. No one was around and it seemed like a great place for us! With some rain approaching we parked our bikes inside a wooden enclosure nest to the tent and had supper. We will walk to a nearby lodge to have a $4 shower and use the Internet.

This ends day 9 for me. I have passed 5000 miles and am almost to Alaska.
Tomorrow we arrive at Fairbanks, change to our dirt tires and ride the long sought after Dalton Highway!

Friday, May 6, 2011


This morning we crawled out of our tents cold and a little sore. The wind had whipped the big white tent around all night, keeping us from a deep sleep. Non the less we packed up and continued north.

We trekked on towards Fairbanks knowing that just ahead there would be mile after mile of construction on the Alaska Highway. It would be slow going for about 80 miles of so.

The construction started and the road was covered with a loose gravel. Speeds went down to 35 as we negotiated our way through.

I even got an escort because of my wide load!

The views were still very beautiful although we could not focus on anything except the road ahead. One wrong line, or slip up would mean disaster. We gripped the handlebars and battled the roads until we became more comfortable with them. A few places were hairy and we had to slow down to a crawl and stabilize our bikes with out legs in order not to fall. Once that was gone we were happy to take a well need rest

Then we saw it....15 miles to the border! What a great sight that was. We moved on with a new urgency wanting so much to cross the border, not only to finish another piece of the puzzle, but to turn our cell phones backup on!

We still had another couple hundred miles to go so we settled back and rolled on. We turned off the intercom and each listened to our own music to make the time move on. We passed moose, bear, and evens porcupine. We kept the speeds down to avoid an up and close encounter from a crossing moose.

Break time.....

We crossed a bridge over a wash way and decided this was a good place for a break. During the thaw, this place is a torrent of ice cold water, flowing from the snow capped peaks.

It briefly rained, laying a thin coat of water on the dusty surface. But soon the cloud had blown east and the blue sky was out again.

We stopped by to see Santa at the north pole, and got a ho ho ho from him. He is busy wrapping presents for this years run. The rain deer are building up strength also.

We arrived at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and checked into our dorm room we reserved. We get to take a break from the tenting and get a well needed hot shower and breakfast!
Tomorrow we will change tires and head up the Dalton! Another dream come true!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Arctic!

July 5
This morning we woke to the sounds of a stupid crow kawing outside the window. Unfortunately we had to store the shotgun at the police station, or....
We had a lot to do before we left on the Dalton. Both of us had to change to our dirt tires and run by the store for more food. Keith decided he would have the service center change the tires for him since he has mag rims that can damage easily. I on the other hand decided to change them in the parking lot.

It took me about an hour to swap both tires, but longer to fill othe rear one with air. The CO2 cartridge I had failed me and I was stuck trying to seat the bead with a small air pump. I took one of my Rachet straps and era Ed it along the edge of my tires and tightened it, trying to seal the area between the tire and the rim. Slowly it worked and SNAP went both sides. Now that the tires were done, I had to scramble to get all our stuff out of the dorm room before the 11:00 late checkout time. It was 10:59 and I still had a 5 minute ride. Oh well. I was able to use my charm to sweet talk us out of t he extra $80 they wanted to charge us. Keith was still not back do I had to make multiple trips with all our stuff. Man we have a lot of stuff!

Finally we were off. The Dalton highway, also known as the Haul Road is the only road that connects the northern most town in north America, which is also the beginning of the Alaska pipeline.
It is over 500 miles of dirt, gravel and paved road.

Finally after about 60 miles of nice paved road, It turned into a dusty winding road that lead between hills and valleys, winding it's way to the arctic ocean.

There were paved sections that would break up the dirt sections, which were a welcomed sight.
Despite being a dirt road, we found that it was very easily traveled on. We kept up the highway speeds on most of it, only slowing down to negotiate our way around graders fixing small sections.

We crossed the Yukon River which had a smooth wooden bridge connecting both sides.

The scenery was a big change from what we had experienced the last several days. Instead of big snow capped mountains, we saw green hills and valleys. The farther north we went the fewer trees we saw.

Suddenly we crested a hill and were faced with a long downhill slope, with a steep uphill at the other side. Also known as the "Roller Coaster" a name well suited, the bottom drops away giving you a feeling like you are descending in an airplane, or on a ride at Disney World.

I have been wanting to ride that section of the road for a long time so I turned around and rode it about 4 times. The pictures can't capture the steepness of it, but it is something I really enjoyed.

Finally the moment I have been dreaming of for years became a reality!

We made it to the arctic circle and were continuing north. What a great feeling this was, realizing that a dream had just come true!

We drove the last 30 miles to Coldfoot, where we juiced up with the $5.35 a gallon fuel. We around Marion Campground about 5 miles north of Coldfoot where we s topped for the night

I had bought some corn on the cobb and we went right to work getting some coals ready! What a treat it was eating roasted corn way up north.

Right now it's midnight and the stars are nowhere to be seen. In the distance you can hear the occasional roar of a truck heading south to fairbanks.

Tomorrow we will complete our mission and reach the arctic ocean. I. Will be a long day, roughly 500 miles of mostly dirt roads. We will try to make it back to this camp again tomorrow depending on the time of the tour which will take us to the ocean. Unfortunately we can't drive up to it. We have to pay $45 to see it, but since we came so far you bet I will be up there? If it is a later tour, we may be forced to stay up there somewhere for the night.
We will cross that bridge when we get there. Right now I am going to lay back and cover my head in my sleeping bag an try to get a peaceful nights, or days....sleep!