Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 22 the end of an era

Today marks the last day of riding together. We had a warm sunny morning to ride from haines junction to whitehorse....an easy 1.5hr drive. However, we both now had concerns about our bikes so our first stop was at a bike shop who promptly told us it was a 3 wk wait and no way no how could they even look at the bikes. Next stop at the honda dealer, a nice man came out and at least gave us an opinion of what the prob might be. Mine was leaking oil from somewhere (not a great feeling to see that) and del was hearing a clunk in his chain somewhere. (Also not great to hear). However, it was concluded he could manage  with good chain care.  I, on the other hand, had lost about half a litre of oil overnight, and it was pretty concerning, so my next option was to call a very nice guy at the yamaha dealer who told me if I went and washed it down and brought it over he would look at it. (Despite it being a suzuki) long story shorter, he opened up a panel to find a lot of dalton concrete (as we fondly refer to it now) around a seal. After cleaning it.....it seems to be better....fingers crossed.
So we were then able to spend a relaxing rest of the day sightseeing etc in the city. Its quite a pretty little town.
So tomorrow we will head in different directions. Del is staying on the alaska hwy to dawson city and then thru jasper etc as he heads south east towards kansas.
I am headed to skagway where I will catch a ferry down to port hardy on vancouver island and drive home from there.
What an adventure.

"When you see someone put their big boots on,  you know an adventure is about to happen " -winnie the pooh

Monday, July 14, 2014

Day 20 & 22 the journey towards home

We spent a lazy morning cleaning our bikes etc and left fairbanks headed south. Our first stop was north pole where we visited santas house. He wasnt home but we got to see a few of his reindeer.  Then an easy ride in variable weather to the end point of the alaska highway amd on to tok where we stayed with vanessa again in her cute little cabin.

Day 21
We drove north on the "top of the world hwy" to chicken ( im telling you, these towns are for real) for breakfast . But after hearing such poor reports about road conditions amd tires getting slashed on granite etc we decided to call this one a miss and drove down along the alaska hwy instead. Not that it was fantastic roads let me tell you. The minute you cross the border back into yukon, the roads turn to crap. Frost heaves and pot holes galore. And construction.
But near the stunning destruction bay area it evened out a bit and we made it into haines junction for night.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 17-19 ...the adventure

Well...where do we even start? We left fairbanks (thanks patty! ) under sunny skies and headed north to the infamous Dalton highway. Now don't be confused with the word highway. There are very few paved miles due to permafrost damage and the road was only built to reach the oil drilling in prudoe bay. Therefore....this road is a mix of just about every surface imaginable and is a constant stream of construction equipment and oil related trucks. And then there are us crazy tourists that try to conquer this road in our various modes of transportation.
Surprisingly and (debatably) thankfuly, we had blue skies and warm sunshine on our way up. The first 60 miles to yukon river crossing were feeling like a breeze...easily riding at 50mph over packed gravle and spotty pavement. The tiring part is constantly dodging the potholes. And we met the examples of getting lazy for a second and breaking a rim on one. So you have to be en par the entire time. We fueled up and fed up at yukon river and met much of the same kinds of roads to the arctic circle. After the obligatory pictures we saw a couple of dudes roll up..one on a shiny big harley. (In case you're wondering, this is NOT the kind of bike you want on this road) He had his bike parked in front of the sign and with no one near it, the thing just fell over. So we all helped to lift it back up with smirks on our faces.
Anyhoo...60 miles of nicer pavement and gravel we made it to coldfoot, thinking this road wasnt so bad when its dry. ;)
We met another adventure biker there who told us about a camp another 100 miles north, and feeling as good as we were, we decided to carry on. That way we could set up camp a little closer to deadhorse and ride up and back without so much gear on. We camped in a beautiful spot near galbraith lake just over the atigun pass, which we would have enjoyed more if it werent for the swarms of mosquitoes that flew into every open orifice. 
That night I tried to get a picture of the midnight sun but unfortunately the clouds had rolled in. :(
By morning the clouds were rolling in but we managed to get to Prudhoe bay dry ..and quite a bit cooler. The bay had only thawed 2 weeks prior and we got our feet in the arctic ocean! ! We saw lots of birds, a couple of Caribou, a fox family but no polar bears (they dont come till aug apparently) or muskox.
By time we left deadhorse after supper the rain had started and our 140miles back to camp turned into a cold wet and very mucky ride.
The rain continued thru the night and after packing up camp wet we inched our way slowly thru this packed road which turns to muck slipperier than snot (the snot theme I carried on thru the whole day). 100 miles took about 3.5 hrs while we constantly tried to keep the bike upright. The atigun pass was completely socked in and we could barely see 2 feet in front of us while our face masks fogged up and we had to ride thru the driving sleet with our faces bare. Then more muck.
We all managed to make it back to coldfoot wet and cold and a little bit shaking.  We enjoyed lunch and hot coffee with a table full of other bikers, swapping stories and getting the scoop on road conditions.
We saw a slight cloud malfunction and made a dash south. The first 60 miles outta coldfoot were drier and more pavement, which felt soooo good. What one thinks are bad roads becomes very relative. ;) on a hill, del noticed his bike was overheating.  We pulled over and he saw his radiator was caked with mud. In the attempt to scrape some clean he also managed to spring a leak. We tried patching it up but even after some help from another couple of bikers it was still dripping. So we loosened the rad cap and limped our way to hotspot...a cafe joint just outside yukon river again. Along the way the silty dirt again had turned to completely amd utterly slimy greasy muck. We both nearly dumped a time or two.. one of mine being right in front of a truck. But we made it to yukon and had a bite to eat at the cafe, where all the truckers hang out. One of whom walked by me and said "I thought you were going down there" (the truck from earlier peril). My reply was "so did I! "
Del also managed to make some friends that had a radiator repair fluid they let him have. So far it works!
So very thankfully, the last 60miles were MOSTLY dry and we hit pavement with huge sigh of relief.  We wound our way along a very nice hwy back into fairbanks where we gratefully showered and slept.
Some TCL for bikes today and we will make our way south again.

Setting off again.. (day 16)

So after a week of finding our own little adventures around anchorage, del and I have set off again....still headed north. We are so thankful and grateful for the searls family that so willingly let us crash at their house, coming and going for a whole week!
This morning we had an appt at the bike shop for a new tire for del. The shop was supposed to open at 10am. So we were there by 0940. The workers showed up at 10 but they didnt start working on any bike until after 11 am.....so we were stuck hanging around there until close to 2pm. But the silver lining is del got a new tire.
We headed north towards fairbanks...hitting a bit of rain which stopped just before Denali but sadly it was under cloud as it is most of the year. :(
However the evening broke into a beauty as we rode thru some gorgeous land of the Denali national park. Del nearly met a moose head on, which has him going thru some PTSD now but hopefully it wont be too severe ;)
We are now enjoying the warm hospitality of a friend connection just outside of fairbanks.
Tomorrow......coldfoot. and the journey to the artic ocean begins.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Yesterday (july 5) I headed down to the little town of seward. The weather in anchorage promised to be another stunner and I headed down a blustery beautiful road along the ocean and surrounded by mtns. By time I arrived in seward a few hrs later the clouds had rolled in and it was cool and raining. This made me hesitant about what kind of day we would have out on kayaks in the morning .
The morning clouds had begun to break and by time we were on our water taxi heading out, the sun was shining!  We saw numerous humpback whales, porpoises, seals, puffins, sea lions and sea otters, all just on the water taxi ride out to the bay! We had perfect weather to kayak our boats out to a glacier, dodging large chunks of ice that always looked like something else (like cloud watching) and barreling thru a small ice field. We saw the glacier calve numerous times and heard the "white thunder" of things shifting. The seals and otters were happy to hang out on pieces of ice too...curiously watching us. The water was an incredible turquois blue and calm as glass. As we approached the beach again at the end of the day, the clouds had started to roll in amd it started raining just after our boat took off back to harbour.

What an incredible day. I only snapped a couple shots with the phone from the boat so you'll have to wait for the rest.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rest days

So del and I have been in anchorage for two days. His wife michelle has arrived and the two of them have wisked off on their own little adventure.
I have been catching up with the past and stretching my legs.
Yesterday I met up with a childhood friend whom I havent seen in prob 20 yrs! ! We recently reconnected on facebook and I found out she was living up here so we arranged to meet for coffee. It has been so wonderful to "meet" her again and now also meet her new baby and her husband.
Today she showed me the must do hike in anchorage. ..flattop. the afternoon weather was stunning and I got some amazing quiet mtn time out there today when andrea headed back and I went a climbed a second peak in behind flattop. Just cause its there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

And on the eighth day they rested

We woke up this am to........wait for it.........
After struggling back into our damp gear we hit the road again. We made a stop at matanuska glacier where we could actually walk up onto the glacier. It was cool and slightly unnerving to see and hear water flowing beneath the blue clear ice!
After some really great mountain curvy roads we finally came down into the anchorage area and low and behold....the sun was shining! It felt so good to have warmer air drying our fingers and toes a little!
Our first stop was the spinard roadhouse to try the 'bacon of the month' ...today we had a caramel apple compote on large chunks of bacon. Then add coffee porter and we were two very happy campers!
Except we're not camping now. Del had some connections here and we are staying at friend's house! Home cooked meal, craft beer, hot showers and stunning scenery right ourside their door.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The best laid plans...day 7

Today was wet. Cold. Miserable.
Thats it.

No, kidding. (Well actually im not but I'll tell you stories anyway)
In the am we made a quick visit to folks del knew thru work and by time we hit the road the rain had started. And it did not let up for even a second the entire day! We were riding thru and past what we assume are gorgeous mtns but alas, the clouds wouldn't let us see them.
As a pit stop to warm up, we ended up at a rural grocery/general store kinda in the middle of nowhere. There we met the ma and pa running the place. An interesting couple that stuck smack dab into the centre of my alaskan stereotype. The store was full of taxidermied animals and furs hanging on the wall, beside all the hunting photos. A couple of men came in while we were there...bought smokes and beer....
When we arrived at the glenallen turnoff we stopped at the visitors centre and met a young couple who had been travelling on their bikes for years already! The man was dutch and said he started out 5 yrs ago!
The rain continued as we headed down toward McCarthy. By time we reached Chitina at the end of the paved road we were soaked! And to top it all off..there was no gas station...contrary to the milepost book we were planning off of. Thankfully we found a man at the tire repair shop who was able and willing to see us some gas. After a cuppa to warm up, we headed down the unsealed road toward McCarthy. ..a dirt/gravel road full of potholes, washboard and mudslides that brought trees down. As the clouds seemed to sock in even deeper...we decided 120miles on this road for a destination we wouldnt even be able to see (the weather forcast was the same for tom) just wasnt worth the misery. So we turned around and headed back into glenallen...arriving back at the little visitors centre where the super nice lady helped us find a lovely b&b where we got deliciously hot showers and we're attempting to dry out our saturated gear.
"Oh the places we will go" (or not go in this case)

Day 6

Our day started under a canopy of cloud and drizzle. But within 10 mins of hitting the road we spotted a mama grizzly and two young cubs by the side of the road. As I geared down to stop, mum reared up for a min, but after I stopped and pulled out the camera, she seemed to settle down and just walked her babies into the tree line. However...after a short video I realized she was staying right along the tree line and I got to sit there and watch these three meander back out into the open. (Sorry folks, for those photos and videos you are just going to have to wait)

The rest of the morning we spent visiting mother nature's car wash, trying to get off the dust and bugs from previous beautiful days.
We made a pit stop at a gas station/cafe for a quick warm up and became a spectacle for a bus load of touring americans who apparently had never seen motorcycles like ours.

The roads at this point deteriorated to frost heaves that I was bottoming out on, and construction zones of slightly packed gravel.

By mid afternoon we finally broke free of the cloud hanging over us and came to the border of Yukon and Alaska. Again we were greeted by a very friendly customs officer and amazingly superb highway conditions.

We soared the rest of the day into Tok and snagged an awesome cabin at an amazing biker campground run by a freakin stellar lady: thompson eagle campground. If you're ever in tok, you MUST stay here.
So here we sit, sipping a beer I carted from spirit lake, in the sunshine, with hardly a mosquitoe, grateful for another safe day of riding .

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Four and five

Ok. Time for a little catch up due to lack of wifi and charging abilities yesterday.

Day 4:
We left hyder (where we had to stop at the canadian border crossing to present our passports. Which we didnt do going into hyder, usa. She wanted to know if I had bought anything in the US. I wanted to say "have you been to hyder?" .) Hyder seemed to be a grouping of delapitated buildings, mostly closed/shut down and one hotel and one place to eat! Stewart, on the other hand had several cafes, stores, and even a toaster museum. Yup. I know you're jealous.
Moving on....
We left the valley under a blanket of clouds and some rain but after about an hour, the skies cleared and we ride thru stunning mountains and along lake after lake!
After lunch in dease lake, the road started going to pot. Literally.  Pot holes galore! Pretty brutal on the back, but then we met a young korean from vancouver doing the ride on a crotch rocket loaded down. I felt the need to stop complaining and buck up a bit. ;)
We made it to watson lake by supper time and had a wander thru the expansive sign post forest where del added our hesston college touch.
We camped just outside the town and had our first taste of northern mosquitoes! Del s attempt at using citronella generally failed but he did give it a valiant effort . I, on the other hand, moved on to 30% deet and toques.
Somehow we both managed a decent nights sleep in our tents, undisturbed by animals. Speaking of which, at this point we have a dismal count of sighting.
Bears (black): 2
Beavers: 1
Caribou, elk, moose: warning signs
Actual Caribou, elk or moose: none.
I am mildly miffed and irked at the seeming lack of roadside wildlife. Or even roadkill! Maybe all our animals are finally learning to use the wildlife walkways!

Day 5:
We were blessed with a dry night and clear sunny skies in the morning. This was the first day on the official alaskan hwy. We wound our way across the yukon/BC border thru snow dusted mtns and across the continental divide. (We stopped for petrol and coffee and managed to catch the crazy shoot out between chile and brazil today! )
Just before whitehorse we turned south and made our way thru the most scenic drive yet I would say. To skaguay, ak. turns out we missed the one vehicle ferry to haines by 15 mins! ! And next sailing being 3pm tom! Unfortunately, our schedule does not allow for that delay, so we turned around and went back to the yukon....towards Whitehorse again to go around instead.  What kills me is that both times going into the US has been a cake:
"Where are you going?"
"Prudhoe bay eventually"
"Great!  Have a great trip"

Coming back into canada:
"And how do you know this guy?"
"He is a friend thru my brother who also lives in kansas"
"And did you buy anything in the US?"
"No...we actually just missed the ferry so I was only there for less than an hour"
With reluctant suspicion..."oookkkkk....go ahead"

Today we crossed between yukon and BC three times and then of course across and back from alaska!!
We have now foubd ourselves at the spirit lake resort, where the water smells like sulfur but at least we can charge all our electronics (which I now realize is a bit much) and post this on wifi we can get outside our room door. Ahhhhh. Yukon.
(Two new places I've never been...alaska and yukon! Whoop!)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Third day

Today dawned as another gorgeous sunny warm day. We meandered thru the town of smithers, trying out the dutch pastry cafe for breakfast. Had a short stop at k'saan village...of long houses and totem poles. And finally turned north on hwy 37, ending up in stewart bc and crossing over into hyder alaska. (No passports required here) we took a little jaunt outside of town, riding 22 miles down a gravel, cliff edged, snow lined road (sounds good right??) To salmon glacier. The sun was bright and glacier was stunning.
Our day ended with sampling alaskan beer and halibut for supper. Tonite we're staying in a hotel...a far cry from our beautiful hosts so far but it'll have to do.