Thursday, August 31, 2006

Valdez Alaska, Aug 29th

The Pipeline Club in Valdez Alaska…you know the place, it’s where captain Hazelwood got lit up before running the oil tanker ashore. Well, not sure how much it’s changed since, but never been here before and I can see why someone might have a few drinks, not much else going on in town. Last nights camping gig wasn’t bad at all and although the riding is cold, the sleeping weather is great. The Harley shop woke me up with the music, but time to get some things done today before moving on. With that, I have a lot of people to thank for helping me out and getting me on the road today prepared for more of what Alaska has to offer. A big thanks to Steve and Ashley, the pharmacist in the family for getting my drugs transferred from Walgreen’s to Costco, no Walgreens in Alaska that had to find someplace to refill my needed drugs and that also includes the gang at Costco, Scottie for ringing me up, Sam for taking my order and listening to my story and Alysia for tracking down the transfer…I’ll be ok now that I’m medicated. Next stop, Best Buy to get myself another camera since I can’t wait until Whitehorse to replace another broken camera, too much Alaska to see and as long as Canon isn’t any help, maybe Best Buy will be and according to Mark, if I buy the extended service, they will give me a new one on the road incase the camera fails on me. Ok, so maybe I’m making a mistake getting another Canon, but according to Mark and the rest, this one on sale, $50 off is the best you can get and some of the problems I had with the SD450 should be resolved with this one…we’ll see about that, but I believe in the 3 strikes you’re out so’ll have to see how this holds up and as long as Best Buy would replace it, can’t go wrong with that. I guess that will also be a wait and see since I’ve gotten a different story from a number of Best Buys, but Mark said, just give him a call and he’ll take care of it…oh, and thanks for shipping the rest of the package home for me.

Before purchasing another camera, called the Whitehorse camera shop to let them know the one they sold me went out to make sure I can return it and thanks to Corey for taking care of me and calling Canon. Told him to have them look up how many times I’ve called with a complaint about a camera to see if that’ll make a difference, but the camera shop has a 7 day return policy and since I called and it’s only a couple of days past the 7 day mark, they should be able to take care of me…will find out when I get to Whitehorse, but it must be happening for a reason – that reason to get me back to Whitehorse and I know one place I’ll be visiting, the Harley shop. Next on the list was David and Turtle, remember I talked about Turtle my last time thru Anchorage, but didn’t get a picture that got him in this one. They helped me with directions and David told me of a lodge between Glenn Allen and Valdez worth staying at, but for $114, not sure I want to spend that kind of money, but will at least check out the place…and Turtle, it would’ve really been a big help if you had packed my tent by the time I got done with my errands, but maybe next time. Ok, still have to buy some more stuff to keep me warm and as long as one beanie is worn out, time to get another that Cara took care of me with some help from Mark - he gave me that discount I asked about, you know the 20% off Tuesday? it never hurts to ask and if you do it nicely, it seems to work.

Finally after all that running around time to say good bye to Anchorage and see what the trip to Valdez has to offer and you wouldn’t believe it, didn’t get a good chance to see Mt Denali going thru the Denali park, but come to Anchorage and you might get a good shot…pretty sure that’s it in the picture, but so many mountains around here that you never know…well, someone might be able to verify it for me. When I did pull over to take the picture another biker, a chick on a bike pulled over to make sure everything was ok, and although I didn’t get a picture of her, since I had to pull up to where she stopped I know what she was after, she just wanted to follow me to the Alaska State Fair. I didn’t pull in when she did, but I have a ways to go to Valdez and need to start heading north to Whitehorse yet today that I better boogie. The Glenn Allen highway that I’ve heard so much about is definitely a beautiful ride and you can see some of that by the pictures that I took. A curving road running along the river which is a wash from another glacier which caught along the way and it is quite the ride…again, the only way to soak it in is on a bike, but if you don’t believe that by now, you should really try it.

Made it to the Glenn Allen junction and captured a picture of the mountains toward where I need to go and it looks like the mountains are going to have weather of their own, and so far, haven’t been rained on although I’ve hit some wet roads, just missing the rain that what will the rest of the ride bring? Well, headed south toward Valdez and one of the things you have to get a picture of, is the Alaskan pipeline. May have pulled off somewhere I shouldn’t be, but got a good picture of it and that reminds me of what a number of cops have done to me along the way. Have run into a number of them going the opposite way than me and remember I like to pump it up a little, the speed that is, that they just turn on their lights so I can slow down instead of pulling me over…but hey, I have people to see and places to be – wait, maybe not people to see, but places to be that it’s a lot better than getting pulled over. Ok, so I couldn’t give the trooper those bedroom eyes and sad story that the females get away with, but maybe my travel story will work…that is unless I run into a female patrol, then I’ll use what he women do to get off, a little of the opposite sex charm – works for most.

You can see from the clouds and since mountains have a mind of their own, that there’s a good chance I’ll get rained on and even though yesterday was just a spitting, there’s no way I can go a day without any precipitation, is there? of course not…remember this is Alaska. I will say I was fortunate enough not to hit the heavy stuff which obviously came thru by how wet the roads were, but did get spit on again and kept riding because I wasn’t getting wet enough to don the raingear and can see there’s clear weather ahead…on the other side of the pass that I’ll take my chances. Saw another glacier that of course have to check it out and these are one of the few that don’t have a tour to the toe, but a hike at your own risk that of course I’ll check that out. It was a long walk that at this point pictures will work because just want to get to Valdez to see what that is like. Well, eventually pulled into town, but only after some more incredibly viewing along the way of mountains, rivers and waterfalls…enjoy since I’m connected again – you know, the third digital camera in less than 120 days. It’s already late enough, 8:30 and have forgot to mention since being in Alaska, that although it’s not light out 24 hours, it’s pretty late, after 11:00 before it’s dark and light early, about 3:00 that you do lose track of time pretty easy, and for me, the bike is still central time that I have a little math to do, subtract 3 hours. Found a Wisconsin/Minnesota connection at the Aspen Inn, but for $120 there’s gotta be something cheaper that they pointed me to the Keystone Hotel. Ok, so the room may not be much for what it costs, but my bike is under cover just outside my bedroom window that it won’t get wet tonight…works for both of us and let’s see, has been 12 days of either rain or getting spit on that what’dya think tomorrow will bring? Gonna head toward Whitehorse that tune in and see what the weather as well as travels east have to offer. Valdez Pictures.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Kenai Fjord National Park, Aug 28th

Anchorage Alaska, again, and tonight I’m doing the free stay…camping at the Harley dealership in town. Not sure if I mentioned that my first night in Anchorage, but the shop has a small park next door and a bathroom and shower for motorcyclists, which I fit the bill. My free stay at Larry and Allen’s bed and breakfast didn’t workout since they were full tonight, but if I stay another night, they’ll have a room for me. Thought about the hostel again since it’s within walking distance of the Glacier Brewhouse, but with the doors locking at 1:00 and since I found something for free, may be out a little late tonight. Have a few things to take care of in Anchorage that decided to make the two hour drive from Seward after the boat tour and what a beautiful ride…with the sun for a change. Still can’t claim a rain free day since got spit on along the ride, but getting a little spit compared to the rain where the rain gear is mandatory is much easier to handle.

What a beautiful day to do the Kenai Fjords National Park boat tour out of Seward and it’s really too bad that I didn’t have a camera to capture the sites…they are incredible. Woke up to sunshine, well, by alarm since if going on a boat tour, should do the 8.5 hour tour which leaves at 10:00, and after last night could’ve easily slept in. Since it was picture perfect out had Suzanne book the tour for me, remember that 10% discount and I’m set, now if I can just get this digital camera to work. Tried what worked for Best Buy, remember that lens cleaning kit I bought? well, that didn’t make any difference that today is for my eyes only, but like so many other things I’ve taken pictures of along the way and have tried to describe, it still comes down to the pictures would not do this place justice, it’s definitely a must come see on your own.

Before boarding the boat, decide to give Canon a call to see if there’s anything they can do for me and I should know better after having called them 5 times with the other camera only to get the same story…gotta send it in before they can do anything about it. Well, did tell them how unhappy I am with their product and that I’d like a manger to call me back to see if there’s something they can do for me because of my situation and if not, everyone who reads this blog will hear how I recommend…’Don’t buy Canon’. My situation is now finding another camera that can use my SD cards since it is something usable in a number of different products although some brands have their own proprietary memory sticks.

Now to try and describe everything that I saw without pictures to back it up, but it was s day full of sunshine, a lot of wildlife and some beautiful mountains and glaciers to take in. The first animal we saw on the way out of the harbor was a Sea Otter lying on its back in the water cleaning its face after breakfast. It’s something how they just lay there on their backs and float as well as they do, but pretty cool to get close enough to watch what their doing. Some other animals we saw on the way out were 4 porpoises who decide to follow us and like the captain said, make some noise because they like putting on a show, oh and these are some of the fastest swimmers around, hell they were doing circles around us. What next, except for some hump back whales and the deck hand Katie came on to tell us everything about them since she spends her time out of Alaska in Hawaii studying them…what a job, summer in Alaska and winter in Hawaii – sounds like the perfect thing to do, but have talked to a lot of people getting ready to leave for the winter to spend somewhere warm....found out the captain heads to Mexico after working the summer in Alaska just to play – that’s the kind of job I could handle. Well, the one thing we kept watching for with the whales was the tail and sure enough we saw it a few times that it would’ve made for a great picture, but for me, something I won’t soon forget having been able to see it live.

Saw a number of Sea Lions sunning themselves on the rocks and a lot of birds along the way of all sorts from the Puffins, to the Seagulls, some others I don’t remember, but the Bald Eagles were some to see. Remember the Puffin, the bird that flies thru the water with its wing instead of web feet? that’d be the one and where there were a number of different birds all huddled together on the water, it’s where the diving birds were feeding, but all the others, such as the Seagulls were hanging around cuz the diving birds were scaring fish to the service for the flying birds…that’s eating off from someone else, but nothing compared to a couple of birds battling it out over the water. Don’t remember what the two kind of birds, but the one chases the other around that pretty soon the one getting chased gets sick and looses it’s lunch, which is what the other bird is after…the others vomit – oh man, were there chunks in that batch?

There are glaciers all over around the Kenai Fjord Park, but it’s something else when you park a boat next to one that is standing a mile tall in front of you with chunks falling into the water. We did have to keep our distance incase a large enough chunk might break loose causing a tidal wave, remember seeing that one boat that almost capsized because of that, well, did stay our distance, but the thing to capture when the chunks are falling into the water are not only the pictures, but the sound…sounds like a gunshot and I’m not talking any wimpy gun, but a hell of a gunshot – now that’s something worth seeing.

Can’t forget to mention that we did get fed on this trip, both lunch and dinner and either you’re doing seafood all day with Halibut and Salmon or like me, a little chicken and
Salmon for dinner, but it was pretty good food. Oh, and the other thing, did meet a lot of people on the cruise, can’t say everyone which would be like me, but the majority of them. One interesting group was from Germany on a 4 week vacation, remember Come and Laetitia from Denali and Homer, like they said most European countries have 2 months of vacation and although they work 10 hour days most of the time, that definitely sounds like something us Americans could learn and maybe introduce, work a little longer to be able to vacation more. Anyway, they were interesting to talk to although I had an alterative motive when I saw their daughter, but hey, if I can make it to Germany for Oktoberfest, may have a chaperone and they thing a lot like those Canadian women, they don’t care about age, they are just looking to have some fun.

Well, like I said, pictures would not do what we saw today justice, but you have to experience it on your own and it really has me pushing to everyone, don’t wait until your old and grey to do an Alaskan vacation, do it sooner than later, you won’t regret it. Oh, and before I forget and it goes with my message to all of those with an RV or camper who just setup camp in their home state, you should really be using it for a trip to
Alaska and if you look at the pictures from Seward yesterday, you can park right along the bay, best view in the bay. Ok, still daylight out and although it looks like clouds between me and Anchorage, called Larry at the B&B and found out the weather is great in Anchorage that as long as I have things to take care of in town and it’s only a two hour trip, might as well go for it. Yep, just got spit on which may not count, but figured I should make the trip because have heard from a number of people that should start headin east because the season is coming to an end, and unless you want to ride thru the snow,
East is the way to go. Ok, making it this far should get me to Valdez tomorrow for a visit, but that’ll depend on how long it takes me to get things done in town before heading east, about an 8 hour trip I found out, but like I’ve heard, definitely a ride worth doing…only other thing’ll be whether I have a camera to share the ride or not....and have decided that need to make a return visit to Whitehorse even though thought about skipping it, but since I bought the camera there and I have Selina to visit with, why wouldn’t I. Let’s see if tomorrow shows us a different Alaskan day – no rain or spit. Sorry no pictures, even I'm disappointed. Few pictures from disposable camera.

Seward Alaska, Aug 27th

Sitting in the Yukon bar in Seward Alaska with Marybeth and Heather listening to Hobo Jim, Alaska’s official balladeer. Heather’s description is a little Jimmy Buffet Alaskan style and it’s great music…sorry can’t share pictures, but can you believe it, this new camera has already gone out on me and it hasn’t even been mounted to the bike and I’ve been taking extra care of it, but for some reason it decided to give me trouble after dinner at the lounge. Now if I don’t get it figured out or fixed before tomorrow and the boat tour to the glaciers, I’ll be missing a lot of pictures that’ll be worth having. I’m not happy with Canon at all at this point and these cameras should be lasting longer than 10 days.

I thought I was transported to another state waking up to sunshine, but can you believe it, my first sunrise in Alaska and hey, it’s gonna be a great day. Started heading north toward Anchorage before my turnoff to Seward and it looks like nothing but clear sailing that I might finally be able to claim a day in Alaska without rain. Well, got to Seward late enough that can’t do an afternoon boat tour, at least one that takes you by the glaciers, but tomorrow is a new day and the couple from France, I mean Chicago as well as others have mentioned that have to do the boat tour, that lets see what tomorrows weather has to bring. Well, you can see some more incredible Alaska scenery and it’s unbelievable how you go from one area to the other thinking that you can’t top what you’ve already seen and sure enough, you have more great scenery to see that although I should be heading home soon, I hear nothing but more places that I should visit, that it’d be nice saving it for the special share, but hell, at this point, you only live once that I’m gonna soak in and see as much as I possible can…sorry honey, but this is my trip and if you’re gonna be like me, you better be adventurous, cuz that’s what I’m all about.

Said goodbye to Homer in the sunshine and packed the rain gear away, but made a stop at the Harley dealership in Soldotna and they said it was raining in Seward, their on the other side of the mountains that the weather I had yesterday, remember the rain Halibut fishing? is gonna be what they have today, that’s great, another day in Alaska and rain. Oh, and you wouldn’t believe who I saw at the stoplight in Soldotna, the St Louis group that I met at the dealership on my way down to Homer. Thought stopping at the Harley shop might be able to hook up with them for some riding, but they must’ve pulled in somewhere for breakfast because didn’t see them go by that it’s time for me to move on. Oh, well was nice meeting them the other day that they can checkout my seeing them although I know one of them recognized me…it’s that I see you, you see me biker signal that we’ll give each other, which is a whole other story depending on what kind of bike you ride.

Continued on and it’s unbelievable what Alaska has to offer and in the sunshine, even more spectacular viewing than ever. Saw some great mountains, rivers, lakes and everything else that Alaska has to offer, that if I don’t get that camera working soon, you’ll miss everything I get to see as well as me not capturing pictures of this unbelievable trip. Made my way to the Seward hostel since I heard they setup boat tours and made sure they had a bed for me for tonight that if I can do a half day tour yet and see the glaciers I’ll be happy, but ok, the 3:00 tour ended August 20th that I’m a little late and according to Suzanne running the hostel , the 8 hour cruise is the thing to do, because you get to see glaciers a lot of wild life and that much more beauty Alaska has to offer, and better yet, they feed you lunch and dinner with a Salmon bake on one of the islands…that’ll be a treat - oh yea, and the other thing is booking it thru the hostel, I get 10% off.

Stopped for lunch at the at the Marina restaurant where I met Diane, a local during the summer who suggested a number of places in town to visit and guess what, met John and Tom again, met them 4 days earlier in the Perch in Carlo Creek where they were going salmon fishing while I was heading south toward Anchorage. It’s unbelievable how you meet the same people along the way, but apparently during tourist season, that happens a lot. Found out that John and Tom had a great time salmon fishing and when I told them about my halibut fishing tour and how everyone caught something, doesn’t compare because halibut don’t fight, it’s just dead weight your reeling in while the salmon will put up a fight…that’s my kinda fishing, put up a fight and pretty soon, you’ll succumb to our charm…ok, it’s still early and working on this blog, that give me time.

Diane suggested I checkout the Marine center which I did and it was pretty cool seeing some of the wildlife that live around these parts. Some of the pictures of the sea lion and those big eyes were something else and even caught a video clip of him which is worth seeing, sorry I can’t show you thru Kodak, but next time I’m around and my computers handy, then I’ll share. Was also interested seeing a diving bird called a puffin that swims thru the water with its wings using its feet as a rudder, quite different than the webbed feet type. And check I out, if I go the right way in Alaska, I’ll only be 53 miles from Russia, that they must have a ferry connecting us, wouldn’t you think that that might be my best way to get to Europe.

Well, the other thing to do while in town is visit a glacier, Exit Glacier, and it’d be nice being able to claim having stood on another glacier, that it’s only a couple of miles out of town. You can see more great scenery along the way and this glacier is going to be quite different than the Columbia Ice Fields in Canada. Took the guided tour hoping to see bear and moose, but no luck with the wildlife, just their droppings…can you believe how small Moose poop is? looks like little pellets and like the guide said, if you aid wood all day, you’d be constipated too. They had signs along the way just like Columbia showing where the glacier use to be that I thought sharing a picture of where it was in a good year, 1961 and where it is now was worth capturing. It’s about half a mile if even that so hasn’t moved too far in the last 45 years. Made it to the glacier and they have one of those signs which are just telling you, come closer that I did just that. Hey everyone else was that I don’t think it made much difference but is just warning you are on your own when you cross that line. Got a good boot shot and me standing on the glacier and guess who I met, 3 couples from Minnesota, Le Sueur visiting the Last great frontier. Visited with them for a while and Tom, the tall one with the hat was telling me how he has a motor scooter and how you can see so much more while riding…that just goes to prove what I’ve been saying all along, there’s no better way to see this country than on a motorcycle. And guess what, yep, got rained on, not heavily while visiting the glacier, but ran nonetheless, that yep, I’m still in Alaska.

Back to the hostel to make my bed and met one the ladies I told you about from the Fairbanks hostel and before the night was over, met the other 2; remember the ones I got to share a room with? Well, their not traveling together, but I guess our routes are about that same that’ll probably keep running into people that I have met along the way until I start heading east, but than again, that could be the same story. Time for dinner and according to all the locals have to check out Thorns Showcase Lounge for Halibut pieces which is just what I did and according to someone’s description, just like an old lounge back in Wisconsin and Minnesota, that now I feel at home. The Halibut was really good and I’m definitely having my share of seafood on this trip, but according to the marine center, this area, the Bering sea is the most abundant for seafood in the world that when in Rome, do as the Romans would do…I mean Alaskans. Ok, I might have figured out why my camera stopped working, it was the last picture of the inside of the lounge that broke my camera…you know like some people do?

And that brings me to the Yukon bar, that before the night is over with, met up with more that have already seen along the way, but sorry, no pictures. Ran into Shawn who I had partied with one night at Panorama Pizza in Carlo Creek, remember, Ivan’s place? He’s a tour guide and that’s why he was at Carlo Creek and is here, one of those tours where they take the group around showing them Alaska and tenting all the way. Had me thinking I could do something like that, but even better, make it a biking tour. Well, they already exist so nothing new, just have to look for a different spin. Oh, and the other interesting person I met tonight was Loui who was sitting next to me and watching my laptop while I had to use the bathroom, he said he goes by ‘FBI’, Fuckin Big Indian…hey, I know someone else who’d fit that description. More fun to have and tomorrow, let’s see if I’m still in Alaska or not…you know, the rain. More incredible Alaska pictures.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Homer Alaska fishing, Aug 26th

The Salty Dog and it’s one of the few places in Homer Alaska that has a high speed wireless connection and on my way down, was wondering whether I’d run into anyone I knew or not…remember last night and meeting Alek again? Well, sure enough was sitting here working on my pictures watching a little football when a couple that I met Tuesday at the Denali Hostel showed up, Come and Laetitia who are originally from France living in Chicago where work has taken Come. I remember when I first met them in Denali, didn’t talk to them too much, but Paul and I, remember Paul the biker from Utah, commented on how they finished off a large pizza while we had a couple of pieces left of ours…ok, now you remember, him vegetarian and me a meat eater. Well, have spent the last couple of hours talking to Come and Laetitia and they may have me talked into the Europe trip on a bike after all. They were telling me all the different places I should visit and what the hostels along way are, not all as nice as these, especially in India, but an experience all the same. They’re in the same hostel tonight as me, the Homer hostel which I’m spending an extra night at since today was about the fishing.

You know it wouldn’t be Alaska if I hadn’t woke up to rain or rode in the rain which was just the case this morning, but had to finally set an alarm for something, a 7:00 fishing charter that I have to be on the boat by 6:30. Hey, a half day halibut excursion that I don’t care, I can sleep any other time that since in the Capital of Halibut fishing, you have to experience it. Put on the rain gear and it was probably a good thing that it started out raining because that way I had it with me for the boat trip and we did nothing but get wet out fishing. Ok, we have a limit of two fish and I got my lucky numbers, 1, ok, maybe not my lucky numbers but good numbers nonetheless that I feel some bites coming on. Well, you can see the first one I caught was definitely a keeper and it wasn’t too much longer before I caught my second, only to be talked into keeping it since it was a slow day instead of waiting for that record breaking catch.

I had a great time on the boat and the first couple I met were from Michigan where they were able to stay to fish another day although their son and his wife had to fly home They came out fishing yesterday but weren’t able to go out since the winds were too bad, that today and the rain, a good day for fishing. Met four guys, two of them from here and two visiting, Gary, Iosif, Leonid and Irmil who invited me to share some beers with them and what else better to do than drink beer while fishing. Had a great time visiting with them and fishing and two of them are brothers, one a brother-in-law and two of them are commercial fishers in the area…does that help you figure out who’s who? Well, Gary caught the biggest fist on the boat, a 60 pounder, but being a commercial fisher, he better have…ok, you got half the puzzle figured out, but the other, I don’t know whether his fishing was as good as the rest of ours or not.

Captain Art took us to about four different spots 16 nautical miles out, which is about 25 road miles and the last stop was probably the best for fishing, but me, was already done at that point with my two. Adam and Reed were the deck hands and setup everything for us as well as bait our hooks, bleed the fish and you can see on the trip in, filleted them for us. That works for me that all I’ll have to do is figure out how to get my fish home, which not a problem, that can be taken care of on shore. Hey, met Adam who was sitting next to me last night at the Salty Dog while I was showing Alek some of the pictures that I’ve captured along the way, especially the Sturgis pictures, and he’s out fishing on the same boat as me with Hilary and his mom who lives in Anchorage. He’s from Kentucky and when we started talking he reminded me that he was the one talking with Alek and me about Tiger Woods and how he’s doing this weekend in the tournament he’s in…like I’ve had anytime to watch TV, which I haven’t, but it looks like tiger is hot.

Forgot to mention that I did catch three fish today, but the first was a shark, a lot like the one others caught which were just the small ones, but I did get to see and feel what one of those felt like. Only did a half day trip, but it was well worth it and wouldn’t you know it, got rained on the entire time…thank goodness for rain gear – and good gear at that since it keeps me dry on the road which has been my riding experience thru Alaska so far. Ok, got about 15 pounds of fillet to be flash frozen, vacuum packed and shipped home and that’ll cost me another $100, but think of this, the kind of party I’ll be able to throw eating fresh, or at least Halibut that I caught? it’ll be great eating. Ok, although I had my fun fishing and thanks to the guys, my share of beer, had laundry to get done that took a walk to the laundry mat 5 minutes from the hostel. They’d do my laundry for $1.45 per pound, but at 18 lbs of dirty cloths I can do it myself which more or less turned into them doing it for me cuz the guy told me to just leave some quarters for him and he’d throw the wash in the dryer which is just what he did. When I showed up an hour later, my cloths were dry and almost folded, but hey, I saved myself a little cash not having them fold it and for those who know me, I have a certain way of folding things my own way and on this trip, they have to be just so, so they fit my tbag for traveling on the bike.

Had a great dinner at the Café Cup which I missed a picture of, but their fillet mignon was on special and very tasty, the owner a lady from Cape Cod that her and her husband moved to Homer 7 years ago and opened a little restaurant, café which has become a big hit in town. It’s surprising how many people I’ve met from the east living out here, but only met more because remember those from New York I mentioned yesterday, but met one from Vermont and another from somewhere east, but don’t remember where now.
Ok, time to have a few drinks with the locals and things are already getting wild, but probably more non locals than locals like Roger from Medicine Lake who is here on business and Dave from Lodi, Wisconsin that is who has been living up here for a year. Tomorrow, let’s see where the Alaskan rain leads me…Seward is what I’ve heard. Fishing Pictures.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Homer Alaska, Aug 25th

Homer Alaska at the Salty Dog and you wouldn’t believe who’s sitting next to me…Alek, remember the guys from Michigan that I was following thru Denali? Well, this guy sat next to me and said my voice sounded familiar that after a little question and answer, hey, we met in Denali Park. Alek and his buddy Brian were the ones I was following and just to verify that they were in the same spot as me, you can see their picture with my bike in the background…the picture of them that I took. And to correct my mistake the other day, Alek is heading to Kodiak and it’s not for the army, but Coast Guard…ok, my mistake, but I didn’t remember that the other day, hell I didn’t even get their names or pictures since I was following them all day. Ended the night last night at Darwin’s theory and had a lot of fun with Debbie, Leah and Tanya, like Tanya Tucker and hey, I might have another place in Anchorage to stay. Tanya would let me stay on her couch and no her boyfriend wouldn’t have a problem with that because he loves bikes, that it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s great making all these connections since my other Anchorage connection fell thru, but hey, things do happen for a reason and if I can change how they happen, than all the power too me…right? Oh, and before I forget, can you believe the Salty Dog has a wireless high speed internet connection?...definitely my kinda bar.

Woke up today to rain and if it hadn’t been raining, I would’ve thought I was someplace other than Alaska, but remember, it’s rained on me every day since I’ve crossed into this state. I keep asking the natives…no not the Indians when it’s going to stop raining and keep hearing how wet a summer this has been and remember, August isn’t a good time to visit this state since it’s the rainy time of year. Ok, I’ll deal with it again so strapped on the rain gear and made my way to REI to get that $30 off on my jacket I bought yesterday. Incase I didn’t mention it, it was going on sale today that although they couldn’t give me the sale price last night, although I tried working it, just have to come back with my receipt and they’ll give me the sale price. From there, where else than the Harley shop and the nice thing is, they have a place to park bikes out of the rain. Ok, I can hang out here for a while and starting bothering more of them working, so got a picture of them, Jenny, Dia, Trevor, Maggie and Rocky so was able to waste sometime and figure out my plan for the rest of the day. Since it’s raining here in Anchorage might as well head toward Homer and when I called the Hostel to see if they had a bed available, Will told me the weather was sunny south so I’m heading south. While packing up for my trip, met Richard who was dropping off some bikes and found out he was from Soldotna a town just north of Homer and it wasn’t raining where he came from that how about loading my bike and giving me and the bike a ride to there so I don’t have to ride in the rain. Ok, not even I’m gonna cheat that if I’m going to Homer, I’ll ride rain or shine, but he will be able to help me out because I asked if he could haul my t-bag so I don’t have to worry about that getting wet, which he said, not a problem would love to do that for you. Great, I only have to worry about me getting wet and not my cloths or other things in my t-bag, even though I have wash to do.

Heard the Seward highway was temporarily closed, but should be able to get thru on a bike that time to head south and what a beautiful ride. Can only imagine how beautiful this scenery will be on a clear day, and maybe if you’re lucky, my return trip to Anchorage heading home will be a clear sunny day. Saw some moose along the way, a cow and her calf which was worth capturing as they were crossing the swamp and tried taking as many pictures of the Turnagain Arm as I could, but remember, riding thru some cold rain that only got pictures when I stopped to share…so at least appreciate that much. Stopped for lunch at the Summit Lake Lodge and you can see how beautiful the landscape is just around here. Still over 100 miles from Homer, but had to at least stop for the pictures and it turned out to be a good time to eat.

Still heading south and guess what I encountered, sunshine, yippee, out of the rain and the first time this trip that I’ve actually had sunshine to ride thru, that it felt great. Met 3 guys from St Louis, Shawn, John and Chris that drove up to spend some time salmon fishing and Greg was making sure we were taken care of and our bikes ready to ride. While at the Soldotna shop, also met some guys riding thru from Juneau so got their take on what ferries to take to Juneau and although I wanted to take pictures, they were colored and not all having very good standard to cross the border thru Canada that their bikes were hauled to Anchorage before they started riding south. Ok, when I say colored, it’s a biking thing that a lot of biker bars will have something on not wearing your colors…association to a particular biker gang. Well, Richard showed up with my t-bag, bone dry that I was ready to pack the bike and head south to Homer, with even more sunshine and since this isn’t a helmet state, although I’ve wore my helmet every day to stay warm rode the rest of the way without that it feels funny with hair…to use to the wind blowing over my bald head than thru my hair that eventually had to put on my derby.

More beautiful scenery to see along the way and I’m glad I made the trip down here, even though I thought about heading toward home with the rain that I woke up too, but why cut this experience short since you never know, could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Alaska…well, not if I have any control over that because will definitely be back. Made my way to the hostel and Will set me up with a bed and directions to the spit as well as making reservations to go out Halibut fishing tomorrow, that’ll have to try to get some sleep to be able to get up early to fish. Something a lot of people have mentioned I should do, Halibut fishing, that Homer is the Fishing Capital for Halibut. Stopped at the local Safeway on my way to the spit to get my one day fishing license and before dinner, had to get pictures of the Salty Dog where I’m ending the night, but made my way to Finn’s for some great pizza and while there met a family and friends from New York, hey I was thru there about a month ago, that some of them live here during the summer for the fishing and the others are visiting, and again, sorry no pictures, but it’s just the story…and that brings me to the Salty Dog where Alek and I hooked up, and met a lot of other people from Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Well, when you have a Harley shirt from Wisconsin on, someone hears you mention Minnesota and others hearing Michigan, all of a sudden you are making more friends before the nights over with and that’s what this trip is all about, the friends I’m making along the way.

Have been thinking of what that lady at the Jasper Hostel said to me how life is an adventure, and I’m living life high right now. Alaska is a beautiful state and definitely something that should be on everyone’s top 10 things to do in life. Me, I get to check that off, but still have a lot more to shoot for before this life is over. Seward Highway Pictures.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Anchorage Alaska, Aug 24th

Anchorage Alaska at the local tourist hang out, the Glacier Brewhouse and they have some pretty tasty beer. Just found out from Christine and Jen that it’s the tourist hangout during the summer and should be at Darwin’s Theory that I’ll capture a few of my thoughts and make a trip over there to see how the locals party. Said good bye to Carlo Creek and although I was in a tent for the night, not only did I get a good night sleep, but my tent partner didn’t say anything about my snoring…well, sorry to say, no tent partner tonight, but still working on it. Got a late start, but with a little over 200 miles to go and it was drizzling this morning, maybe if I wait the rain will pass and I’ll have a dry ride, which was the case by 10:30 this morning. The road was dry so packed the rain gear away hoping I wouldn’t need it today, but hey, this is Alaska and anything can happen. Oh, that reminds me of something Zlatna said last night, also from Bulgaria and a friend of Zara’s who you met the other night, but she said those who come to Denali park or visit the mountains seem to be more adventurous than those that go to a beach, that when you think about that, she’s probably right. The beach weather is more predictable and even if you get some rain, you know it’ll still be warm, but in the mountains the weather and surroundings are so unpredictable that you might have to deal with something new every day…something I’m definitely learning about riding thru Alaska, but loving every minute of it – even in the cold rain.

Got a number of pictures along the way heading south toward Anchorage and finally pulled over in Sunshine for a little something to eat…was a gas stop that someone was telling me they were hungry that the family restaurant next door will work. While there a couple of bikers from Anchorage stopped in so I asked what the weather south was like and they said nothing but rain, but I was able to give them good news that I didn’t get rained on from Denali at all. Ok, it’s still not raining that I might as well wait with the rain gear, but I guess I should’ve listened to those guys because it wasn’t more than 2 miles down the road when I hit the rain so had to don the rain gear. That makes every day I’ve rode thru Alaska a day riding in the rain, and still have almost 100 miles to go. Oh, well, it warms me up a little with the rain gear on, my face is taking a beating…ok, I know there’s a joke in there somewhere, but save it.

That explains the lack of pictures before getting to the Anchorage Harley shop, but did make a stop at the Wasilla shop, thought it was one of the ‘Mother Load’, but found out it’s associated to Anchorage who has a 3 t-shirt package…ok have those two of the way that what’s the third that maybe I’ll have to get that bag of shirts too. The reason for hitting the Harley shops along the way is I feel safe and in good company and that has been the case with every one of them that I’ve visited…and Selina, you have a lot of admirers here in Alaska. You wouldn’t believe who I ran into at the Anchorage dealer either, Paul from my first night in Carlo Creek. He rode the 15 miles into Denali yesterday and headed to Anchorage to visit some friends and just happened to be at the Harley shop getting parts for his BMW…remember Bruce needing Harley tools to get a Honda going, well even BMW’s need some better parts. He helped me with some suggestions as well as Heather getting what I need and although a heated vest would be great, I’ll put that on my wish list that a wind breaker for under my jacket and warmed gloves will do today. Well, they happen to have my size wind breaker which will help under my jacket when not wearing the rain gear, but like Paul said there’s an REI just down the road that I might be able to get the same thing there and as an REI member, maybe cheaper.

Ok need a place to stay and Turtle from service as well as Crystal and Clay helped me out with that. There is a hostel right downtown that’ll put me within walking distance of this place, but there is also a small park next to the dealership where they let people, like myself camp for free with a code to the bathrooms which also have showers. Hey, it’s free, but with the rain, I think I’ll try the Hostel. Trevor set me up with some things to do while in town and with the state fair going on that might be the thing to do, but for being 40 minutes away in the rain…might have to take a rain check. Well, once again, met another person with the same name in a day and that was Paul and guess what, another Minnesotan. He’s been in town for a day and was riding with a couple of other guys from Minnesota that decided to bail and head home because of all the rain and cold in Alaska, but remember some of us aren’t quitters and like he said, he still had two weeks that he wasn’t gonna cut it short. Well, was nice talking to him, and you might not have noticed, but had a Green Bay Packer hat on…thata boy. Did make my trip to REI and what’dya know, they have just what I’m looking for and it’s on sale, tomorrow, but I can buy it now and come back in the morning to get my discount and it’s much like this jacket I got for Christmas that I just love…same kind of material so it should cut the wind and help keep me warm on these cold days.

Eventually made my way to the hostel and this is going to be another interesting place to stay, but in a room with two Russians and lock down is 1:00 - first time I ran into a place that locks the doors that I’ll have to call it quits early tonight. And that brings me to the Glacier Brewhouse where who do I get to share a bar table with other than, Amy, Hernan, Bruce, Denielle and Chuck and we found out just how small a world it is. Amy and Bruce are from Milwaukee and Denielle a small town north of there, Slinger, but like I told her, have been there to party a number of times since have a friend with a house on Big Cedar Lake…yep, what a small world. Hernan is from south of Colorado Springs and Chuck from a small village south of Homer that the only way to get there is to fly, that he’s retired his wife working in the medical field and he’s here to pickup a friend at the airport coming to visit from the states. Had an enjoyable talk with them all and the four, Amy, Hernan, Bruce and Denielle were leaving to go to another place for dinner, but Chuck and I enjoyed some awesome fish, him the blackened salmon and me the grilled Halibut that it was a great meal…and that brings me to the bar where I met Christine and Jen who I’ll have to see whether I can hook up with later or not…remember Darwin’s Theory.

While sitting at the bar a few others joined me and got to meet Larry and Allen who run a bed and breakfast in Anchorage and told them if I would’ve known, maybe could’ve stayed at their place for a discount. Well, a bit more than the hostel, but Allen being from Park River North Dakota, a small town near Grafton where one of my curling teammates is from, would let me stay free if I made a trip thru Park River on my way home...ok, which do I get to do first, stay free and promise to make a trip thru there or make the trip first and hope for a return trip to Alaska. Well, did decide to ask and like Allen said, can stay for free tonight if I want because they do have a room open…ok bikes unpacked that do I really want to pack it up in the rain and make the trip, that I think I’ll take a rain check…hey, maybe that free room will be available when I come back thru Anchorage. Ok, going to see what Anchorage has to offer and’ll let you know first thing in the morning, or at least my next available connection. Kodak back up, pictures to come later.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Denali Park Alaska, Aug 23rd

Carlo Creek Alaska at the Panorama Pizza Pub, mile marker 224.17563 of the George Parks highway…hey, same place I was last night. Took the tour of the Denali park and needed a place to stay that although the hostel didn’t have a bed for me, Seth set me up with a tent…cheaper and saves me setting up and tearing down my own tent. Today’s tour took me thru some of Alaska’s most beautiful county in search of the tallest mountain, Mt McKinley, wait, Mt Denali…well, more on that later. It was a cold and thankfully not rainy ride to the park, but it always looks like rain and at the Denali visitor center, their summer forecast is overcast with a chance of rain and apparently it’s been the same every day this summer. Watched the video on the establishment of the park and building of the road and had to decide what bus tour I wanted to take and their all going to take some time. The next shuttle to leave for the farthest point, or at least close to it, Wonder Lake leaves in 15 minutes, but it’s an 11 hour round trip that won’t put me back here until 10:30 that not sure I want to take that tour today. Did find out I can drive 15 miles into the park although the farthest point is 90 miles in and takes a lot of time going that far. Well, bus has to make a number of stops and they always stop for Wildlife for people to get pictures of. Well, for me, not only do I want to see the wildlife, but I want to see the tallest mountain and today might be the day because it looks like the clouds are trying to break, but around here you never know. Well, before I got up to the front desk, Wonder Lake was taken off the board since the bus was full and the next bus tour was to Fish Creek, Mile 63 and an 8 hour round trip leaving at 2:00. Ok, gives me plenty of time to drive the 15 miles and decide whether to take a bus tour or not.

I got some of my best pictures riding the 15 mile stretch and was following a couple of guys from Michigan and talking with them at every photo stop. They both drove up and one of them is flying home tomorrow since the other is in the army and stationed at Kodiak that they decided to drive up and do a little site seeing and even like they said, some unbelievable sites to see. Well, the weather looks like it might be breaking that was thinking although it might be worth saving the bus tour to share…ok, have talked about that before, figured you never know whether I’ll get another opportunity like this that I might as well go for it and take the bus as far as I can since it’s the last tour of the day…sorry honey, but I did save Wonder Lake and Kantishna for you. Even the ranger said today is one of the better day’s weather wise that I just might be able to see the mountain. Ok, did get a couple of shots of the mountain peaking out, but you have to look really close and for me, it helps being able to zoom in, but caught a glimpse of Mt McKinley, I mean Denali in pics 8946 and 47…right in the middle of the picture. Ok that looks promising that the tour will be the thing to do. Oh, and for the little rodent eating one of its own, asked the ranger if they kill each other that it’s survival of the fittest, but apparently they eat road kill…poor guy, this is the last he gets to eat her.

Our bus tour guide Don is from south Minneapolis and the entire back of the bus ended up being from Minnesota. Talked to three guys, 2 from the cities visiting their friend from the North Pole and I feel really bad for missing those pictures when I drove thru the North Pole on my way to Fairbanks, but believe me, there is a town called the North Pole and like the guy from there said they’re milking Santa for every thing he’s worth. Well, the older gentleman sitting behind me is from Hibbing so when I told him I go there every year for the Last Chance Bonspiel, he knew exactly what I was talking about…but hey, the Last Chance is probably the biggest thing to happen in Hibbing since Kevin McHale. Well, the one problem with taking the bus is not being able to take pictures of the scenery whenever you want, because they only stop for wildlife…I suppose if you asked they would stop more often, but for an 8 hour round trip the way it is, do you really want to keep stopping?

Kept hearing from buses coming back from the earlier tours that the mountain isn’t visible that although it is clearing and the range can be seen, the tallest mountain itself is being evasive. Oh, and for the name of the mountain…it was first named by the Indians as Denali which meant the tall one (I believe it was tall, if not the ‘big’ one) but when the Europeans came over, they gave it a different name and no I don’t remember the name. Well, the way it was named McKinley was before McKinley even became president and it had to do with setting our currency either by a gold standard or silver, which McKinley had a lot to do with. Ok, so the park was first name Mt McKinley park but the name eventually changed back to what the natives called it Denali and they’ve been trying to change the name of the mountain, but because McKinley was from Ohio, the Ohio congressman always votes no for changing the name that to most of us, we think of Mt McKinley whereas the Alaskan’s and natives have always called it Mt Denali…and that’s the rest of the story.

You can see by the pictures that saw some Caribou, Ptarmigan and Moose, but kept looking for the grizzlies that would really be worth seeing and Don’s suggestion on what to do if you encounter a bear would be pretty tough to do, but don’t run, just stand there waving your arms making noise, even if they do charge you and if they get within arms length, get the first shot in and cold cock him in the nose…ok, maybe not the punch, but at that point roll up into a ball and play dead. I think the hardest would be standing your waving your arms making noise when they charge you than anything.

Well, decided I still needed a room for the night and wasn’t going to make the trip to Anchorage today, but also didn’t want to drive late tonight that time to head back. Remember, every bus coming back said you can’t see the mountain that I’ll save it for my return trip to share so took the first one back I could…at least the one at the latest potty break, and check it out – a brake pedal on the floor to flush. It was fortunate I took the bus I did because 4 hikers joined us and I made some new friends. Shellie sat next to me and her husband Hoyt close by, that she was telling me how they are retired and making a trip from Phoenix Arizona during the hot time of the year…well, hot there, but cold and rainy here. They are touring some of the country and doing this Alaska trip with their friends Wayne and Ruth. Had a great time talking with them and they have a blog site that their family and friends are living vicariously thru them even though I told her my friends and family are living precariously thru me…ok, close enough to the same meaning that we can use both. Anyway, like Shellie said, at least I’m living life and enjoying it by doing something that everyone would love to do, but few would ever consider doing. You only have one life to live that you might as well make the most of it and do with it what you can while you can…some save their entire lifetime to do a trip like this instead of just doing it...and I’ll tell you, Alaska, the last known frontier is definitely worth doing as soon as you can. That reminds me of Kathy suggesting I take the shuttle buses so I can get off and hike instead of the old grey hairs…that’s those people who have saved their entire lives for a trip like this instead of doing it when they were still young and healthy enough to enjoy it. There’s only so much time to life that you might as well live it to the fullest when you can…and now is my time. Denali park pictures.

Carlo Creek Alaska, Aug 22nd

Carlo Creek Alaska at the Panorama Pizza Pub, mile marker 224.17563 of the George Parks highway…you know, hwy 3 so I’m not lost. Well, it’s about 14 miles south of the Denali National park which I hope to tour tomorrow, but can only ride the bike 15 miles into the park, and than have to be on bus, by foot or bicycle…ok, so it’s a motorbike, does that count? Today was a day spent at a Harley shop, remember Indianapolis where I spent 8 hours there for my 20,000 mile maintenance, well about 7 hours at Fairbanks and not for normal maintenance…more on that later. Ok the hostel wasn’t the greatest place to stay, not very clean, but the sleeping arrangement wasn’t bad at all…wish I would’ve known when I crawled into bed last night that I was the only guy in a room for 4, but didn’t find that out until woke up this morning and found 3 other women in the room. An older lady that’s traveling on her own, but a couple of young ones, Aussie’s and apparently they didn’t sleep very well last night cuz someone was snoring…hey, I got a good night sleep. I told them the same as others, just throw a pillow at me and one of them said she tried rocking the bed, but it didn’t make any difference….just as long as it doesn’t catch up to me that people start warning other hostels about me, but hey, I’m not the only one who might be snoring – remember the Jasper Hostel? Well, they were saying a lot of the women would rather sleep in the coed dorm because the snoring isn’t as bad as the female only dorm…we all know that’s probably the case.

Got up early to get to the Harley shop to see what Shane had to say and either get the bike fixed or be on my way to Denali Park. Well, he had nothing but bad news for me, cuz according to Harley my regulator is out and needs to be replaced and it’s not a good idea for me to take a chance and ride because it could strand me in the middle of no where. Ok, well, just put a new regulator on and I’m ready to go, but another problem, the regulators for these new bikes are on back order and no shop in the states have one that it could be a week before they get one…just what I need to do with the cold weather coming, spend a week in Fairbanks. That had me thinking that’s why so many people come to Alaska and end up staying here to work; they get stranded and have no choice but to get a job before they can get outta here. Well, time for me to work the service manager Jerry and suggested taking a regulator from another bike so I can get on the road, Indianapolis did the same thing with a stereo for me, that they must have a bike they can hock a regulator from…just sell it later – the bike without a regulator. He had to run it by the powers to be and thankfully they agreed, with some convincing from Jerry that’d it be the thing to do to get me on the road. Ok, should be outta here in an hour until problem 3 had to come up - the wires to the stator are worn thru with all the dirt and riding I’ve been doing that that needs to be replaced too, the good news is they ordered one a few weeks ago and it’s in UPS’s hands so should be delivered today, the bad news is, they don’t make their delivery until the afternoon that right now Jerry hopes to get me on the road by 3:00 at the earliest.

Well, guess where I’ll be hanging today and spent more time talking with Kathy and Jessica and got to know pretty much everyone before the day was over. Some would ask me if they were getting me on the road soon, so they must be waiting for me to go away…not really, but Kathy was a big help with more info on the roads to Anchorage, the weather and how to do the Denali park tour. It also gave me some time to get caught up on some things so clipped my nails, which I’m sure your happy to hear, but made a number of phone calls to some I haven’t talked to in a while…one because I have the time and the other is haven’t talked to many because of the lack of phone service in Canada. Oh, and forgot to say the other day just how old it gets listening to the same cd over and over again when going thru a desolate part of the country, it wasn’t until I got close to Fairbanks that I actually started getting a radio single…great more country music. Hey check out the mileage and how far home I have, only 3476 miles, but I’m taking the long way home. Oh, and today is TC’s birthday, he’s the one with all his sisters pictures hanging on the wall…good thing they don’t have a problem with sexual harassment around here or being politically correct, but maybe they realize at 61, he deserves to look at pictures like that while working.

Ok, something that every one from Alaska has been telling me and that none of us from the states realize is July and August are the rainiest months in Alaska and not necessarily the time to be visiting. Before July is good and September, but most places, especially the roads and parks close by September 15th, hey a day before my birthday, incase anyone needs to be reminded and that’s not too far away that I need to get on the road, and soon. Made a call to the Denali hostel so I have a bed for tonight, so the sooner my bike gets done the better that once I saw the UPS truck leaving, did get a picture and had to check whether my part was in or not and look what Jerry and Shane have, great I’ll be on the road in no time. Shane got the bike put back together in record time and it even got a bath, Austin came after school and did a great job washing it for me. Yep, school just started this week in these parts and he came from school to do a few washes and apologized for not polishing it, but like we told him, no need to detail it since I have to get on the road to Denali.

You can see it was a wet ride again today that it was a good thing I packed my rain gear at the shop only to make a stop and put it on a few miles down the road. Oh, before I forget, my Fairbanks connection fell thru because my friend said his brother wasn’t too interested in a guest, someone he doesn’t know, but did hear him on the radio since he’s a DJ and tried calling the station, but you know how they are, a busy signal all the time. Made it to the Mt McKinley Harley-Davidson shop to buy a t-shirt, but they didn’t have any left with the good logo on the back and although I wanted one from the ‘Mother Load’, they don’t sell those individually, only in the ‘Mother Load’ bag. There are 5 Outpost shops, so you can get a bag with a t-shirt from each for $150 or $90 for last years shirts, but like I told them in Fairbanks, that’s cheating that unless someone buys you a shirt, you can’t buy one from someplace you haven’t been, so I’ll only be able to buy that ‘Mother Load’ bag after I visit the rest…ok, two down and 3 to go which are going to be the toughest of the 5.

Made it to the Denali Hostel and met Paul, another biker that just rolled in that there is a pizza joint across the road that we can split a pie and tell stories. He’s been traveling thru Alaska and has to head back the way I came that we both have info the other can use. Ok, he’s a vegetarian and I’m a meat eater, but Zara from Bulgaria can make a half and half so we’re in business and that’s what brings me here to Ivan’s families place, the Panorama Pizza Pub. Sounds like its clearing tonight so might be able to see the Northern lights which were something else to see around here last night, but I wasn’t here then. Need a clear day for great viewing of Denali Park and let’s hope we get that tomorrow so you have some pictures to see. Alaska Highway 3 south pictures.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fairbanks Alaska, Aug 21st

Fairbanks Alaska at the local bar, ok the basement of the Marlin owned by Rick with Liz tending bar, her first night on the job. First question of everyone coming in is whether they have their ID on them or not…good thing with Rick sitting there, but not on me, in my jacket if that works. Forgot to mention yesterday that I gained another hour when I crossed the Alaskan border which you’d think would help since I can sleep that extra hour, but right now as tired as I have been many nights after a long ride. Ok, the ride wasn’t too bad from Tok to Fairbanks, mile wise since it’s just under 300 miles, but in the cold rain it takes its toll. Kept looking out the window this morning waiting for the rain to stop, but it’s obvious that ain’t going to happen and after yesterday have to get to the Harley shop for them to checkout the bike. For some reason when coming into Tok it started acting up with the idle running high and the electrical system going screwy that want to make sure it’ll get me home. That reminded me of a couple I met at Whitehorse and how they bought their bikes. A couple of guys were returning from Alaska and didn’t’ t want to ride anymore that they were going to have their bikes shipped back, but when they found out how much that was going to cost, just decided to sell them to the shop…thus this couple bought them. That had me thinking for as cold as it is and the rain, will just have my bike shipped home and fly myself…now that ain’t like me – not a quitter so I’m going for it. The other thing I remember this morning is listening to the weather channel and how so many places need a break from the heat, but hell, they never talked about how this is one of the coldest summers around Alaska and a rainy one at that…has me longing for the heat spells I’ve had along the way.

Not a lot of pictures on my way because of the rain, not much to see and the camera is packed away, but did notice a mountain that wanted to get a shot of that looked for a stopping spot to share – share a picture with you that is. Was good timing when I did find a spot because it happened to be when Fred was walking by. Stopped and talked to him on what he was protesting and he left last Thursday from Fairbanks and is walking to Haines…not sure how far that is, but looks like a long way on a map. He’s protesting the government’s use of the tobacco money toward other special interests than cutting health care costs and like I told him, we have the same thing in Minnesota with the tobacco settlement the state got….health care costs just keep going up. Ok Fred, now your protest is on the internet, but that’d take a lot more people checking out my blog to make a difference. Oh, the other thing is the snow on that mountain which I did get a picture of, the first snow there this year according to Fred…it’s getting cold fast and I still have a lot of state to see.

Made it to Delta Junction and it’s a good thing I pulled into the visitor’s center, by accident, but it turned out to work out perfectly since this is the end of the Alaskan Highway and I better get a picture. Thanks to a family from Indiana for taking my picture and I was thru that state, over a month ago, but you can see how bundled up I am with the cold and rain, but still cold. Why by accident is because most visitor centers will not recommend a preferred place in town to eat since they are their to represent all of them equally that I thought I’d just stop and get gas and ask the attendant where they’d have lunch, but got turned around that thought, that’s what a visitor center is for, to make a recommendation. Again, the same thing, there are four places in town that would be good and not going to recommend one over the other. Ok, went to get that gas and asked them which pointed me to Poor Boys. Oh, and met some guys riding south from Fairbanks to Seattle on some Seattle rally that I heard about yesterday when I was going thru Chicken. They started with over 20 bikes, but lost a lot along the way that just headed home because of the cold and rain…ok; these guys are like me, not going to quit that easily.

Well, Bobby at Poor Boys makes a pretty good burger and moved here from Ohio, but Hanna and Abby are from here. Oh, and then there was Jack and Marcy who helped me with directions to the Fairbanks Harley shop and yep, Marcy’s hiding from someone that doesn’t want her picture taken…have run into that a number of times, someone hiding from someone else, but at least they’ve gotten away and left it behind them…that change of environment that some of us might need to move on with life. It just doesn’t want to stop raining around here, but still was able to make a stop and take a few more pictures to share. Ok, I’m seeing a lot of scenery, but probably not as much as I would on a clear day, but am making an attempt to share some of what I’m seeing along the way. Forgot to mention that when got going this morning the face was numb in a couple of minutes that when I do make a stop, it warms up a little, the face that is, but numb in a few minutes. Hope that can’t lead to frost bite, but the temp is about 40 degrees, so imagine a wind chill at 70 mph.

Made it to the Harley shop, the Farthest North Outpost and while Shane is trying to figure out what’s wrong with my bike, Jessica and Kathy are going to help me out. Jessica with gloves and a heated vest I’d like to buy and Kathy with where to stay, eat and how to travel the Denali Park. Ok, so no heated vest and found a pair of gloves that’d be perfect, but not my size that won’t be getting warmed up from here to Anchorage…Jessica did make sure that Anchorage holds on to a pair for me though. Kathy set me up with a bed at the local hostel and how to travel the park as well as any other travel information I needed, she use to be a travel agent before working here, but I may be in a little bit of a pickle. With all the rain they’ve been getting the road between Denali and Anchorage is closed that unless it opens when I’m done doing the park, I’ll be backtracking which’ll either add another 300 miles to get to Anchorage or at least 190 taking the Denali highway back toward Tok which might not be in the best of shape. Lets hope they get that road open, and soon. Ok, Shane found the error codes showing up on the bike, but can’t call Milwaukee this late, 3 hour time difference that no calls after 2:00 that’ll have to bring the bike back in the morning to find out whether they can fix it, how long that might take or whether I can ride on without worrying about being stranded…oh ya, have to get a new fuel filter that might make a difference on the poor gas mileage I’m getting and since Whitehorse which didn’t have one and Fairbanks doesn’t either, but Anchorage does, that will have to stop there for maintenance anyway.

So the hostel will be an interesting place to stay and took a blanket off from one of the other beds…kinda liked the yellow and pink that that’ll make me feel right at home tonight. Kathy suggested the Red Lantern for dinner so headed there and met Clarence and Liz at the hotel desk…yep the Red Lantern is in a hotel which we know is usually for tourists that asked them as locals where would they go for a good meal. Hey, not only is this another day I’ve met two people in the same day with the same name, Liz from Marlin’s, but this Liz is from Zumbro Falls, just south of the twin cities. Had to tell her about my story with the meat market in Zumbro and she knew the one, but that’s a whole other story that has me thinking I need to make another trip down there when I get home. So they send me to Aviator steakhouse, but guess what they’re not open that I’m right back here to eat at the Red Lantern…ok, and that’s all it was, just ok. Having fun talking to the locals hanging around in a bar, but what else is there to do around town but sit in a bar. Found out that a lot of people come here from the states to work and just don’t get that, but apparently the winters aren’t that bad. They do close down some things during the winter, like some of the roads I’ve rode, but told them how there are places in Arizona, Nevada and California that were closing because it was summer. Ok tomorrow morning lets see what Milwaukee says about my biked and, Rain, rain go away and where is the warm weather. Wet Pictures.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tok Alaska, Aug 20th

Tok Alaska, so I’ve made it to our 50th state, north the rush is on. Well, guess I was already where the rush was on in Dawson City, the gold rush, but the song is for Alaska, so it’ll work. The sleeping at the hostel wasn’t too bad, at least I didn’t hear anyone snore, but should’ve used my sleeping bag instead of the hostel sheet and blanket, cuz the blanket didn’t cut it for a cool Dawson City night. Decided to sleep in cuz after yesterdays run and going in the afternoon after things had a chance to warm up thought that might be the ticket today since it rained most of the night. Yep, was wet when got up so if I can just wait a few hours before going, just may clear up. Ok, this morning I had to work for my shower, I mean cowboy bath since there wasn’t any fire in the shower room and no warm water. Had to cut some wood and start a fire to warm up the place as well as the water, but man, what an experience taking a bath/shower where you just pour the water over you, soap up and pour it again to rinse off. Did remind me of the shower in Sturgis where I said two was better than one and worth sharing with someone, that hey, you could have a hell of a party in a room like this.

Had time to waste and gas to get that had to take the ferry to town and can you believe the only gas I could find was 2 miles out of town, the way I came in yesterday, but didn’t bother paying attention to that yesterday and figured I’d fill up in town. Ok, back to Klondike Kate’s for breakfast cuz at this time of day it’s the only place still serving breakfast and look who I met, Melinda…never did ask if she goes by Mindy, but that’s a whole other story. She was there with her son Josh who was flying to Vancouver while she was heading back to camp, mining camp, but had a great time chatting and thanks for picking up my breakfast Melinda, you didn’t have to do that, but it was greatly appreciated. Weather still looks questionable and according to the visitors center, today is suppose to be overcast while tomorrow is rain that I should really make the run to Fairbanks sometime today. The lady at the visitor center suggested watching the videos on the area to kill some time and they were definitely worth seeing instead of having to head to each site and have them try to describe it. Ok, so that took about an hour that if I can wait until later in the afternoon like yesterday, I’m sure the sun will be out and it’ll be a great day for a ride. It was at least starting to warm up, which might make a difference riding the next few days to wait a while for things to warm up to ride thru. Figured I better hit the road soon since it hasn’t started raining and down the valley looked like it might be clear that headed toward the ferry where I noticed everyone heading up the hill that I asked a couple of ladies if that’s where the party was and sure enough, they had a bog run going on. Never seen one that ok, kill more time and it ain’t gonna get any colder, but warmer and maybe I can still count on that sun coming out. So, the bog run, or the little of it that I watched wasn’t worth it, that it’s time…time to make my way toward Fairbanks.

One last ferry ride in Dawson City and it didn’t take me long to figure out why they call this the ‘Top of the World’ highway. Felt like all I was doing on the way out of Dawson City was climbing and pretty soon could see why cuz it looked as though was at the same level as all the mountains in the distance and the valleys below, well, they looked awesome. Ok, I’m sure the pictures would be something else had I had a sunny day like yesterday afternoon, but the scenery is definitely worth seeing. For me, pretty cold that today might be a day to leave the soul behind and see the scenery in comfort, but hey, I’m doing something that most will never do or experience, riding it by bike. So someone said that 40% of the road is paved, but they must’ve been talking about all the way to Fairbanks cuz I haven’t seen much pavement since Dawson City and the weather isn’t getting any better. The more climbing the colder it’s getting and I’m still looking for pavement and fortunately the rain is holding off, but not for long. I must’ve hit the peak cuz there were some stretches that the wind was blowing so hard and with the little drizzle felt like a thunderstorm that it was time to don the rain gear and hey, I feel warmer already cuz it keeps the wind out…maybe I won’t need that heated gear after all, cuz the rain gear’ll do. All geared up and finally made it to the US border which I thought would give me break from the riding to warm up and dry out, but can you believe there’s nothing there, but a building for both border patrols and a couple of shack’s, well, believe it. The patrolman asked for id, but I just wanted to warm up first, but was able to pull it out of my pack…it would’ve been really nice if they had a shelter you could drive into to take care of what you have to, but just tried to get out of the rain and wind to answer his questions. Ok, I have a question, how far is that road I see ahead of me go, a clay road and can you imagine how slippery that might be when wet?…his answer 40 some miles – which I thought, rain, rain just go away. Ok so you don’t get a lot of pictures but while riding thru the rain with rain gear on and these cameras really don’t like the rain, just deal with it cuz I have to ride thru it. You cannot imagine how slick a clay road can be in the rain until you try riding it by bike and I was on edge the entire trip. So 40 miles doesn’t sound too bad, but when you’re holding on for dear life, even at only 30 mph, you’d know what I mean.

Finally made it to Chicken so gassed up and have to check out the Chicken Saloon. Heard too much about it to pass it up even in the rain and hey, I think I recognize that bra hanging from the ceiling. Everyone apparently leaves their mark so I had to do the same. Like the lady said anything from underwear to bras, panties and business cards, that today, my card will do. She was interesting to talk to and wished I would have gotten her picture, but ok, sometimes you just want to talk with someone than always asking them for a picture and that’s what I was enjoying right now. Did ask how much more clay I had to ride and she said will hit good road about 2 miles up that I’m gonna head for pavement. Finally, pavement, but again in the rain can’t get going too fast and check out how muddy that clay road left things, not only my bike, but a good thing I have those gators otherwise these boots would still be a wet mess.

Am cold and wet that Fairbanks can wait so Tok will be the place to stay that all I have to do is checkout the visitors center and find a dry room for the night…hostel, don’t even think about it cuz it’s dirty, cheapest hotel is $70, but the B&B just outside of town is only $50, even though they are dog musher’s. Ok, is that a bad thing, but apparently they are just different that ok, I’ll drive out there and check it out and they are an interesting couple. He’s in to old cars and is working on a 67 Impala and she’s into birds of prey, a couple of killer owls, and they are both into dog sled racing that when I was pulling up, heard all the dogs making noise and there are a lot of dogs. Had an interesting visit with both, but told them I was going to stay closer to town cuz I’m still wet and cold and just want to relax in a dry warm place that I don’t have to worry about making a mess in, a hotel room. That’s because tonight is the first time I’m washing my rain gear, but after the clay ride, it needs it. Ok, the best place to eat in town is Fast Eddies which was good, and next door, the Husky Lounge. Ok, so now the locals are comparing who can do the splits and one hand pushups in the lounge and the lady next to me is making sure I say how crazy people from Tok are, but hey, the scenery in Alaska is amazing, even in the rain and hopefully tomorrow will be a dryer day that I can capture more pictures for you…for me, they’re up here – the main head. So Tok is a muddy mess like Dawson City, but tomorrow’s a new day…without rain would be great. Alaska Shots.

Dawson City Yukon, Aug 19th

Dawson City Yukon and I’m sitting in the Midnight Sun Lounge a little wet and it had nothing to do with riding, but the ferry from one side of the river to the other. Not a good thing when the deck is slippery and you end up falling off the side into the river…ok, if that had really happened; do you think I’d be writing this blog? Well, the ferry part is true and it was crossing the river from the hostel back to downtown when the rain came. I was able to ride all the way from Whitehorse without any rain and the bike is parked rain free tonight, but me taking the ferry when I did got me soaked to the bone. At that point doesn’t pay to go back to the hostel and change, so I’ll deal with it for the night. Got a good night sleep at the Beez Kneez Hostel and it is the nicest I’ve stayed at so far. I don’t think everyone in my room got a good night sleep though, cuz remember getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and three of the beds were empty and the guys on the couches downstairs…yep, someone was snoring something bad, and this morning John said it was me – oh well, I got a good nights sleep.

Got up early so I could get the bike to the Harley shop by 10:00 when they opened for my 30,000 mile maintenance and got ready a little too early that figured I better checkout the fish steps that I heard so much about last night. Also heard that if go there between 9:00 and 10:00 might see them catching some of the fish for the hatchery which, guess what, just in time – there’s that timing thing again in the right place at the right time. Tried to get a good picture of how big some of those Chinook salmon were, but not as much luck as catching the guy milking one…ok, getting some eggs, but don’t they still refer to it as milking? Made my way to the Harley shop and Red still wasn’t in and Patrick had another quick job he was going to do that it gave me some time to hit the bank and get some more of that Canadian currency which seems to go fast…it’s surprising how expensive things in Canada are, but as long as I’m paying with American, thru the bank exchange rate, might not sting as bad – ok, still stings cuz things are getting spendy. Hey, there’s a festival in town for the long weekend, remember me talking about that yesterday, but I still hope to hit the road toward Alaska. Still not sure what to do cuz someone else mentioned to me last night that I should do the ‘Top of the World’ highway, that I have some deciding to do.

After dropping off my bike headed to the nearest eatery, if you want to call it that and had a little breakfast. Figured that’d hold me over for how long the day might be and gave me some time to work on yesterday’s blog which didn’t get written amongst all the partying last night with some of the anthropologists. Had a great time with them last night hitting some of the pubs and grub at Klondike’s and it was a pleasure meeting ya’all - keep in touch. Back to the Harley shop to do some more chatting with Selina and maybe you can’t tell, but I’m a little taken with her. Told her how much of a pleasure it’s been meeting her and that I really appreciate her friendliness, personality and attitude about life in general. Also read the story about her and Dozer, the shop mascot which was written up in the local papers which just says more about what kind of person she is. There’s also something about many of these Canadian women that I’ve met that they don’t seem to have issues or hang ups that others seem to have. Not sure what it is and whether that is the first impression thing that once I got to know them I’d think otherwise, but for some reason I don’t think so because they just seem to have a different attitude about things. The way Selina put it yesterday, maybe because their free and aren’t as hung up or stressed out about things as the Americans seem to be. Oh well, guess we’ll never know for sure, unless there’s been a study done on it, or I hook up with one, but have been having a great time with many of the Canadians I’ve met along the way, and keep forgetting the ‘eh’.

Ok, still debating whether I should head north and do the ‘Top of the World’ highway because of the gravel I’ll have to deal with, but according to everyone else that has been thru the shop that I’ve talked to about it, they’ve said if they had the chance or as soon as they did they’d do it, that ok, I’m convinced that it’ll look good on my resume saying I did the Top of the World highway that depending on when Patrick gets my bike done, will take that 5 hour trip to Dawson City…guess what, I’m here and it only took me a little over 4 hours. Ok, when they talk kilometers, my calculation is a 90 kph speed comes out to 80 mph…maybe a little skewed, but haven’t seen a cop on the road since hitting the Alaskan highway and have seen many vehicles pass me as though there isn’t a speed limit. Had some great scenery along the way, this time I can share, but it still doesn’t compare to what I saw from Fort Nelson to Whitehorse that too bad the camera broke, cuz it’s definitely worth seeing and like I’ve already said, for anyone making a trip to Alaska, you should really do the Alaskan highway so you can say like me, ‘been there done that – and want to do it again’. That reminded me of something that Steve, one of the Nemo crew said while in Sturgis that you can ride a road and take in all the scenery in a car, but once you do it on a bike, it’ll move the soul and I’m finding that with all this riding because so much of what I’ve seen couldn’t be seen or felt the way I’ve felt it other than on a bike…I’m getting a lot of soul, oh and that feeling thing is how cold it gets around here this time of year.

Dawson City and the hostel is more like a rustic hostel without showers and electricity, but according to the guy checking me in, the bathhouse is the way most in Europe still do things. The bathhouse doesn’t have showers, but is heated and has cold and hot water that you mix together and poor over yourself to bathe…kinda like the old west you’ll see in the movies except that their using a bathtub and in this case you poor the water over you and not in a tub…should be quite the experience and ya gotta experience it all on a trip like this, right? Checkout some of the pictures of Dawson City and guess what I saw getting rained on while crossing the river, a double rainbow…reminds me of the one I saw walking along the beach in Cozumel at the beginning of this journey, that it must be telling me something. Hit a number of the places in Dawson City worth seeing and had a good meal of Char at Klondike Kate’s, it’s a fish very similar to salmon and was pretty good. Also heard have to hit the Snake pit so made a stop in both, the Snake Pit as they call it where drinking starts at 9am and the pit where everyone moves to when the snake pit closes early. Tomorrow, if the rain holds off, it’ll be the ‘Top of the World’ baby…stay tune. Dawson City Pictures.

Whitehorse Yukon, Aug 18th

Whitehorse Yukon another territory city and although I was planning on just passing thru…well, ok didn’t have a plan, but it’s working out just fine. Stopped into the Harley shop for the 30,000 mile maintenance, but Red, the guy I talked to yesterday about getting my bike in and out wasn’t in that if I can leave it tomorrow, they promise to get me on the road then. Ok, had thought about staying the night in Whitehorse even if I would’ve gotten the bike done today, but more on that later. Just found out that Whitehorse is the capital of Yukon so it is a good place to spend the night. Last night’s party was ok, but in a small northern Canadian town with not a lot going on, what else is there to do, but sit in a bar and drink…kinda like any small town and you can tell the ones that’ve been there most of the day – their the ones who can’t talk and stumble on their way to the toilet – as the Canadian’s would put it.

The hotel wasn’t bad and since it was raining they had a place for me to put the bike to keep it dry which really helped. Woke up early and figured since still have about 4 hours, maybe longer to get to Whitehorse and the maintenance’ll take 5 hours, better hit the road as early as I can which is just what I did. There was a chill in the air so I put three layers on, but man is it cold. Was wrapped up as tight as I could be, but with no sun out on an overcast day thru the mountains it gets down right cold and remember no pictures, so that helped that I didn’t have to try to snap shots for as cold as it was. Had me thinking that as soon as I get to Whitehorse I’m gonna go ahead and invest in a heated vest and another pair of gloves, cuz the ones I have just aren’t warm enough. Hit a little drizzle and thought about putting on the rain gear, but it was only a couple miles worth that just rode on and did see something worth seeing, a beautiful rainbow leading the way for me. More beautiful scenery along the way with more mountains, flowers, trees, rivers and lakes, but any pictures of that will have to come from another trip….but all definitely worth seeing which had me thinking, everyone who ever makes a trip to Alaska should really take the Alaskan highway just to soak up what the Northern Rockies have to offer. Oh, and all those people with campers should really be making a trip like this, beats just going north Minnesota and Wisconsin all the time….that is unless you have a cabin which’d be a little hard to tow along.

Have seen a lot of bikes and campers coming from Alaska than heading there that I hope I’m not too late. Well, that brings me to Whitehorse and made pretty good time, getting here about 12:30 which’ll give them plenty of time to get my bike done and like I said might as well just stay the night and head out tomorrow. Ok, so no Red, but look who I was greeted by, Selina and the dealer’s mascot, Dozer. Man, another one of those hot Canadian women and I’m really impressed with this one, only problem, she’s only 17, but great to talk to…got any older sisters that look as hot as you? Well, since can’t get the bike done today, Selina will help me find a place to stay and make suggestions on what else I should checkout in town so she asked if I wanted to stay in a hotel or what and when I told her as cheap as possible, she asked about a hostel. Sounds great to me, but thought after having left Jasper’s hostel, they had told me there weren’t any north…well tonight it’ll be the Beez Kneez Backpackers hostel and it’s gonna turn out to be a great place to stay.

Next on the list, I need a heated vest and some warmer gloves that Selina showed me what they had, but none for me today, only an extra small and a double extra large that neither’ll do and no warm gloves my size, maybe when I get to Fairbanks and if it’s still as cold than, can get what I need there. The next thing on the list, how’bout a camera store or electronic store which she pointed me to the one just across the street and even mentioned Walmart…yep, maybe in the middle of northern Canada with not much else around, but they do have Walmart’s up here. Checked out the electronic store, but they couldn’t help me out so went to the camera store downtown and guess what I bought, yep another Canon and would’ve gotten the same one had they had one, but got the next best thing, and it better be for $500 Canadian. Well, figured want something that I can use my battery packs and SD cards in that not much else other than a Canon and this was the cheapest one they had that would accommodate. Ok, once this trip is done and get a replacement for the dead one, can sell one if not both if their still workin…that or give one away as a gift - slightly used’ll do. Richard is going to do be a big favor and ship the box as well as my dead camera home for me which really helps since I don’t have the room on the bike.

Ok, on to the Hostel and like I said, it’s gonna be a great place to stay for the night. There is a group of 10 from the Carolina’s that ok, I may be a Yankee and them from the south, but at least we have one thing in common, we’re from the states. They are on a 3 week field trip just coming back from Alaska where they were studying the Hwech’in Indians, and yep, a bunch of anthropologists, but I’ll tell you I’ve learned more from them in a night than I have from a lot of others along this trip. Well, you can see some of the gang which unfortunately didn’t get pictures of all of them, but still had a great time. Once I got settled in, Jordon told me about a brewery that he went to try and tour, but the tour was just getting over and I could head down there to taste some of the local brew, which is the same stuff I’ve been drinking most of the way since Calgary, Yukon beer, so made my way down there and Jordan met me so I could pack some beer he was going to buy and haul it back for him…only to the hostel, not the states. Well, Ken had just given the tour so they were doing the taste test and they have some pretty tasty beer which might explain why that’s been my beer of choice along the way. Ok, more hostel pictures and Collyn is one of the ladies that runs the place and once I unpacked the bike, headed to the nearest pub with some of the gang to have a little something to drink and check it out, Shenanigans, I remember that place from my school days at UW-Eau Claire, but this is Canada so a different place and definitely different setting from what we had in school. Once again, got to meet some more of the locals, Michelle and Kathrine who’ll serve us up and Steve, a local dentist that has family in the states. His brother born in Seattle, him in India and I don’t remember the rest of the story, but he’s here, that at least counts. Oh, caught some guys doing the thing around here to do…a Robie (sp) shot. You throw 3 coasters at the bottles of booze behind the bar and whatever they hit is the mix you get in a shot…don’t know what was in the one they did, but they don’t look too happy with it.

Ran into some bikers on the corner that I saw in Liard Hotsprings that chatted with them and found out they are heading to Alaska too, didn’t catch where they were from, but maybe our paths will cross again. Time for dinner and according to Selina and others in town, Klondike Rib & Salmon BBQ is the place the go, the oldest operating building in Whitehorse and what a meal. You can see some from the hostel joined me and I had to try the Muskox stroganoff which was great. Can’t quite describe what it tastes like, but it was great and to top it off had to split some sourdough bread pudding, alamode with the gang…the largest piece they had and it didn’t last long at all. Oh, and Tammy and Dona are sisters who own the hostel we’re staying at and Tammy also helps out there, the hostel that is as well as took great care of us at Klondike’s.

Forgot to mention when talked to Michelle at Shenanigans about having some of the local salmon at Klondike’s, she told me that the Chinook salmon, better known as king salmon have the longest salmon run in the world and you can’t fish them in Whitehorse because that is the end of the run and by the time they reach here, they aren’t any good any more – just mush because of what they’ve been thru, oh and ready to die after they get past the fish ladder to their spawning area…what a way to go, but I bet a bitchin of a trip. Ok, something else that these anthropologist told me about one of the Hwech’in Indian’s they met, Shawn Bruce and how he really accepted them in and told them so much about the Indian lifestyle and so many of the things he has seen in his life. One of the things he said was how a name is a shortcut to thinking. We use labels on people instead of getting to know them and describing them by other than name. In our first 5 minutes of meeting each other at the hostel, we found out each others name and where we were from than really describing ourselves and getting to know each other better. That goes with how first impressions are important and most have an impression of a person in the first few seconds of meeting them and sometimes that impression is based on who or what kind of person they are. Ok, like Shawn Bruce and knowing he’s a Hwech’in Indian, they had in their mind an impression of him before they even met him, but learned a lot more about him and had that initial impression changed. One other story Shawn Bruce shared was how when he was in the states saw a homeless person that know one would help out and what he did is took the guy to a local restaurant and fed him and gave him some money to help get by…like he said, you’d never have something like that amongst his group because they’ll all help each other in need…kind of like willing to give your shirt off your back to help a fellow human being. Ok more partying tonight and one other thing…notice how most of the guys haven’t been shaving because of the trip to Alaska – that’s the same call I made in Sturgis…no more shaving until after Alaska that we’ll see just how hairy I get and it’s not all grey, not yet. Yukon Capital City Pictures.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Watson Lake Yukon, Aug 17th

Watson Lake Yukon, in the Yukon Territory…yep, that’d still be Canada and my first territory on this trip and maybe only, but don’t start selling the trip short – not just yet. What a beautiful ride thru the Northern Rockies and the pictures once again don’t do the scenery justice. Wait, for my eyes only because I didn’t take any pictures to share, but more on that later. Got an early start which is normally the case when camping cuz once I wake up got so much other on my mind that can’t sleep so just gonna get ready to roll, that is once everything dries off enough that I can pack it and get showered. Ran out of gas right out of the gate and that was getting from the campground to the nearest gas station which I was fortunate enough to be able to coast into. With just that and for as bad as the gas mileage has been the last few days, definitely filling up the gas can I have along and strapping that to the bike for the trip along the Alaskan highway. The pictures you do get to see are me leaving Fort St John’s behind, the beautiful flowers along the road, my odometer and the deer I almost hit…yep, this one deer, but saw more than my share of Caribou along the way. Had to get a picture of the bike turning over 30,000 miles and you can see that that was the last picture taken with this camera before it shut down for good. Not happy about it either cuz the scenery along the way, especially from Fort Nelson west is suppose to be incredible that’ll have to see what I can get done on the way.

Well, even though the picture doesn’t do them justice the flowers along the road to Fort Nelson are beautiful with vibrant purples, yellows and whites in clumps all the way along. Not sure if they were planted at some point or common foliage in the area, but having caught a picture of the purple plant on top of Lake Louise Ski area would suggest native plants to the area, right? The ride from Fort St John’s to Fort Nelson isn’t much except for the Northern Rockies in the distance and with a few spots of construction took a little longer than hoped and the nice thing, any of the construction areas where we had to follow a pilot vehicle, bikes got front row priority, not for the reason you think either. Thought it might be because I’ll be going faster than the rest and won’t have to try and pass them, but the lady with the stop sign said a bike went down last week on the loose gravel and it wasn’t until the last car came thru and let them know before they could get a paramedic to them, that they decided from that point on to have the bikes right behind the pilot vehicle so they can keep an eye on them…thanks, just what I wanted to here. While waiting the Greyhound bus driver, Rick came and asked me if I wanted to swap vehicles, which of course not, and started telling me about the bike he just got an how he wants to ride Hawaii sometime, been there done that a couple years ago that told him the best way to do it, so hey, maybe I helped him out today. He returned the favor because I asked about an electronic or camera store in Fort Nelson that might be able to help me out and he suggested I stop at the bus station and talk to Michelle about that…ok, thanks and’ll check it out.

Ok, ran out of gas for the second time already today and that was even taking Rick’s suggestion to stop at most of the gas stations along the way and topping off, but once again, fortunate enough to be able to coast into a gas station and remember, I do have a gas can full strapped to the bike, but lets hope I really don’t need it too often along the way. Instead of stopping into bus station and seeing Michelle, just asked the attendant where the electronic store was and headed there to get the camera fixed. Nothing they could do, but would sell me a really cheap one, normally $230 for $199, boy what a deal, but I’d really like to get this on fixed or one that can use the memory cards I’ve already purchased for this trip. Ok, no help that they sent me to the next place and same story, nothing they can do and don’t have cameras that could use that might just have to wait until I get to Whitehorse to take care of all of that…the camera and my stop for the 30,000 mile maintenance the bike could use before hitting Alaska. Called them from Dave’s pub, was lunch time so had to have a little something and my phone barely works in these areas, that was happy to at least let them know I’ll be in tomorrow so they can get the work done…how’bout this, hope to make it by tomorrow. Stopped into the visitor’s center to find out about accommodations at Liard Hotsprings and really wanted to get a picture of the curling club building that the visitor’s center is in, but oh well, maybe the next trip.

Now you know why you don’t see any of the scenery from Fort Nelson to here, Watson Lake and it is some incredible scenery through the Northern Rockies. If my writing were better would be able to describe what I saw, but that’s pretty tough to do with out the pictures and was trying to think of another area to compare it to, that there just isn’t anything that I’ve seen that compares. These mountains look like they haven’t been touched with all if not most of the trees still in tact and some other incredible vegetation growing up the mountain which is different than the rest of the Rockies that I’ve seen, you know the western Rockies in the states and the Canadian Rockies…well, they’re all different and all definitely worth seeing. The road along the way wasn’t in the greatest shape and hit a lot of gravel spots, but guess that’s how they patch the roads around here that if I can just get in front of the rest, don’t have to eat there dust which I made sure happened…no, not me eating their dust, but them eating mine. Ran into a lady along the stretch which just wasn’t having a very good day cuz her car was still smoking as the fire department was putting out what was left of it from the fire that it caught. Didn’t stop to ask how it happened, but she didn’t look to happy, but was taking pictures of her adventures – sure hope it worked out for her. More gravel spots and this time along some of the most scenic road so far…if you can imagine the walls of the Rockies skying above the road on one side with a lake and Rockies off the other side that it was a great curving road to ride and not one that you’d want to run off from, well, ok, on one side you’d hit the wall, but the other, you’d be wet.

Listened to Rick on this stretch of drive and hit most of the gas stations along the way until Liard Hotsprings and according to everyone I’ve talked to, have to check them out which was definitely worth the $5 to get in, put on a suit…no, not like the hot spring in Colorado that the ladies sent me to, and take a dip which was pretty cool…ok, what’s that word they use, not bitchin, but ‘wicked’ and that it is. Since it’s a river the further down from the start you go the cooler it is, but you can work your way upstream which is just what I did to the hot water. It is definitely a place worth stopping and wish I had more time cuz I could stay in longer for as great as it feels…ok, does stink of sulfur, but that just adds to the adventure making you a little high on sulfur…right? Talked to a guy from Bemidji since he saw my plates and found out he is heading back to school in Arizona coming from Alaska where he spent the summer working. Have heard a lot of people talk about working in Alaska that maybe I’ll have to check the job market out when I get there…ok, we’ll see about that. Oh, also met another one of those hot blonde Canadian rangers, Darla and she suggested make the trip to Watson lake since there’s nothing that goes on around the hotsprings at night…I think she was just trying to get rid of me.

Did start making my way toward Watson Lake cuz want to get closer to White Horse where I’ll be getting the bike maintenanced and although some said don’t drive it too late because of the animals, figured once I hit the rain, probably don’t have to worry about them being out and about as much, which reminds me, saw a lot of Caribou, smaller than the ones from yesterday on the road from Fort Nelson to Liard and they just can’t make up their mind which way to go, because everyone of them that I came up to standing on the road starting running in the direction I was going on the road until I’d goose the gas a couple of times which would send them into the ditch…what better way to get them outta the way than with the sound of a bike – a Harley that is. Ok, back to the rain and put on the rain gear to make it here the restaurant/bar in the Belvidere hotel and once I pulled in was too cold to even sign my name, but hey, they have a spot to park the bike so it doesn’t get wet tonight…like it already hasn’t been thru a wash getting here. Tomorrow, that much closer to White Horse that while their working on my bike, I’ll have to go and purchase another digital camera. Yea, called Canon once again which I don’t know how may times have called to see if there is any way they can help me out, but keep getting the same answer that can’t go thru Alaska without pictures…have to prove that I was there although I though about just heading home since I don’t have a camera to capture the trip…right. Let’s just see what tomorrow brings as their kicking me out of this bar, but did tell me to show up where the party is at, just down the street…ok, let’s see how Watson Lake parties. Handfull of pics.