ooh er miss’s
I am sitting in an ambulance writing this on my right I have loads of buttons a beacon a flasher a horn etc. It is quite comfortable as well and away from those pesky mosquitoes. I am in Tok Alaska and my accommodation tonight is the back of an ambulance in great little place called Thompson’s Eagle Claw Motorcycle Park. I was aiming for Fairbanks but I ran out of steam and as there is nothing between Tok and Fairbanks and I got chatting with the old guy in the tourist info who directed me to the this place. I was hoping for a bed in a bunk house but that was full so I opted for the ambulance as the Tee Pee looked a bit cold yes you can stay in a Tee Pee as well! Why I had run out of steam well it had been a hard day in the saddle on the Top Of the World Highway which is about 80% dirt road and it had been raining a lot so quite muddy and sloppy in places. Every turn turned up a different road surface from mud to tarmac to pebbles to gravel to huge potholes soI really had to be on my game if I was going to stay upright. The upside to too all this was that every turn turned up a fantastic vista with magnificent views and scenery which I kept getting glimpse of when I was not keeping my eye on the road. So it was extremely knackering and tiring but in the end very rewarding.
Top of the world highway
The border crossing into the States was very simple I was expecting it to be more complex and more paperwork for the bike but as I was not exporting all they needed to see was the papers and $6.00 admin fee and I am allowed to stay in the US till the 6th of October so that fits in with my current plans.
Alaska I have made it!
Again I have no electricity and hot water but who needs it when it never gets dark but the batteries on my kit needs a recharge at some point soon. I managed to get 30 minutes in a shop but I am not sure If I was able to get this published and updated I also grabbed a nice Thai dinner from a stand next door sitting on the side of a dusty road I am very hungry as I only had a chocolate biscuit for lunch and breakfast as there was no place to eat all day except for a place called chicken but the lady in the café had a right attitude on her and I was not going to eat there and let that miserable cow spoil by good vibe buzz life is to short for people like that. All in all an excellent day and I am now off to chat with a guy called Hugh who been biking round Alaska for years and who knows all the good place to go. It turned out it was his first time in Alaska but a good evening shooting the breeze taking about all thing bike and travel related.
Home for the night 🙂
Last night I went to bed at 11.30pm but a latecomer arrived at about 12.30pm waking me up a young American chap called Matt and I stayed up chatting for him for ages nice bloke and an interesting dialog. He had left before I was up heading up the Dempster Highway on old CX 500 I hope he makes it but he had driven to Chile on old CB175 so I think he probably will.
Road to Fairbanks
A great night sleep in the ambulance I even managed a bit of a sleep in. I got up and the sun was shining and I had a cold shower no hot water same as the last place you need to light a fire to get hot water this was offered to me last night but I prefer me washing in the morning and a cold shower on a sunny day is invigorating. I was the only one around so slowly packed me kit and headed out I met Hugh as I was leaving and said Tata and was on the road. Decided I did not want breakfast yet and would stop up at the first place on the way which was 100 miles away I keep forgetting there are loads of distance here with nothing in between. Oh yes I have now converted my speedo and GPS to miles instead of km but this just make places a lot longer to get to and it seems slower I have no idea what Fahrenheit and miles per US gallon is in real money but it helps me know if I am breaking the speed limit and distances on the signs match the speedo and GPS but it will take a while to get used to this. The road from Tok to Fairbanks is fairly dull after yesterday it is straight and long and flat with a view of the mountains in the distance but the sun was shining which always makes a difference to my mood. I had a Philly Sandwich for lunch slash breakfast just because of the name and I have found something else that is fattening and bad for me to add to things I like oh my poor leathers. I got to Fairbanks at 5pm after a short stop at the North Pole where I saw Santa and his reindeer. This place actually exists and I had to chuckle when I saw the sigh and had to stop when I saw the visitor center. The story is that some entrepreneur wanted to start a toy factory in Alaska and he convinces the folks in town to change the name of the place to North Pole so that he could label the toys manufactured North Pole Alaska. The toy factory never materialised I think but the locals are making a nice little business out of the name there is Santa Claus House a huge Santa Claus and all the street lights are in the shape of Candy sticks. So well tacky but a most amusing distraction it made me smile.
I found a hostel in Fairbanks but it was a bit out of town so I walked to Safeway to get some dinner about a 5-mile round trip and I have electricity and WIFI so I am charging up all my electrical equipment and updating me blog. I was going to stay in Fairbanks for another day but I am not sure if it it is that interesting and it did not grab me when I came through today so I may do a run to the Arctic Circle dependant on the weather so I will be doing the famous Dalton Highway.
huskies in training!
Cor Blimey guv Arctic Circle I made it!
Wow what a day it was absolutely the bee bollocks. I was a bit apprehensive about doing the Dalton and I was going to pull the plug at any excuse but I did a fair bit of it and this is how it happened. The road out of Fairbanks to the beginning was great tarmac awesome scenery bendy with only the odd bit gravel and bumps in the corner so a biking nirvana (I exaggerate for dramatic effect) and then I see a sign for James W Dalton Highway and the road turns to dirt with a blink of an eye bugger and its been raining all night so muddy as hell I knock of speed ASAP down to about 25mph buttocks clenched bike moving around all over the shop. I Decide I will give it a couple of mile and if this is still bad I will pull the plug and turn round and give the Arctic Circle a miss. Then in front of me was a large duffel bag in the middle of the road with a couple of old bungee cords the few cars and RV that where around was just driving around it but as it was in the middle of the road so I stopped to check it as it looks like it had fallen of the back of another motorcycle.
The Bag on the Dalton !
So I decided to see if I could find the owner so I strapped it to my already well loaded bike which I was already not happy with how she was handling the road never mind adding more baggage. So set of in hot pursuit well pretty slowly actually but over time as confidence grew I started picking up speed and as the sun was shining the road and the mud was drying making it a lot more easy going and soon in some place I was doing 60mph+ over the muddy roads Stefan Peterhansel eat your heart out a new Dakar star is born. The scenery was breath taking when I dared take my off the road or when I pulled off to take the some piccies unfortunately I am not sure the photos or my descriptions does not do it justice but take my word it is pretty shit hot nice up here.
The James W Dalton Hwy
I did about 40 miles waving and signalling to any bikes coming down the road just in case it may be them looking for there duffel bag they must of thought I was mad. I got to the fuel stop place at Yukon River Camp there were a couple of bikes around and I asked if anyone had lost any luggage or knew somebody who had. Nope So decided to dump the bag in the restaurant as I was sick of lugging it turns out that an old Harley rider had lost it and had not realised till I walked in with it so one happy grateful chap and he insisted on giving me some money but I refused but he put some in my top pocket and would not take no for an answer turned out to be a $20 bill so my good deed got me not only lunch but a long way down the Dalton as I nearly thrown in the towel before I saw the bag. I filled up the bike with petrol and then grabbed huge burger at place called Hotspot which I was told was at the beginning of the Highway not 45miles in I was planning to have breakfast there it was now 2pm so it became lunch instead I was starving Marvin. I had seen a sign saying that the Arctic Circle was only another 60 miles so with me new found confidence I decided to go for it and I am glad I did a great ride on drying mud roads and a laugh with the folks all trying to get there mandatory picture of the artic circle sign. Bit of a party atmosphere there where 4 Argentinean guys who driven from Chile to here in old Argentinean built Renault so I had a good laugh with them about the Falklands and the Hand of God (Maradona) Building bridges me I got invited to one of the guys Raul birthday party on the 21st October in Argentina so I had better get me skates on. There was a couple who had a huge old Airstream Caravan and I love them but I have never seen inside one so blagged me self a grand tour off there’s. Nice way to travel me thinks when I get to old for the bike 🙂
I had decided I had pushed my luck getting this far so decided to head back to Fairbanks before it rained again and I got stuck in a muddy quagmire it was 4pm but as it does not get dark here I had plenty daylight left to do another 200 miles and I was in the zone. Got back to Yukon River Camp no problem found an info place I had missed on the way in and got a certificate saying that I had been to the Arctic Circle with loads of official stamps on it as well. I was getting all confident and then it started to rain bollocks my worse case scenario that I was trying to avoid just happened I struggled into my waterproofs and took a deep breath with all my confidence disappearing as the road turned to mush maybe no Dakar this year or only if it does not rain. The rainstorm was short but the roads remained muddy but they started to dry in places so I was doing varying speeds depending on the conditions then I hit the tarmac and I had lovely run in on the now dry roads back to Fairbanks 100 miles I was a tired little bear but a very proud little bear I had done a little over 400 miles in about 11 hours the bike was filthy you could not read the number plate as everything covered in mud including me but what a glorious day they do not get much better than this and I had just ridden to the Arctic Circle Cor Blimey Guv!
Denali National Park
I got to bed quite late after calling Skypeing the folks at home I had a whole dorm (tent) to myself which was nice and was very tired so I did not wake up till 9am I had a shower which cost a quarter a minute and you had to feed it one at a time and you guessed it as always it stopped when you are all soaped up or at the most awkward moment. Leisurely load of the bike which is filthy and went round a couple of motorcycle dealers looking for some oil for my chain lubricator I got some eventually not sure that it will work, I did write a note to OSCO the manufacturer but as yet I have heard nothing from them and I am sure they are going to say that there oil is specially engineered and others will not work in the system but I have got some BMW branded Scott oil so when my does run out its going in and bugger the consequences. I have always hated chains and chain maintenance on a motorbike there has to be a better design I know how about a belt drive like on my old bike I do miss that low maintenance solution. I had a late breakfast early lunch at Safeway and also found a hose at a petrol station so gave the bike a good hosing down as it was covered in mud from yesterday.
A bit of a dull road out of Fairbanks but the sun was shining but a I guess after yesterday everything is going seem a bit dull however as I enter Denali National Park it went back to being spectacular. I spent the rest of day at the Park but unfortunately you could only take your own vehicle 15 miles into the park and if you wanted to go further you had to get a bus or a tour and it was late in the day and I did not fancy this so just mucked around in the area that I was allowed in which was very pleasant.
I finally pulled myself away and headed to hostel down the road and unlike last night this is full I got the last bed in a dorm. I went for a pizza, which is huge so I guess that breakfast sorted as well. Tomorrow plan is to head back into the park and watch a sled dog show but after that I am in bit of a quandary of whether to head down to Anchorage and or start back towards Canada via the Denali highway which I heard excellent things about so its decision time I will decide on this in the morning.
What can I say about today except cold cold bloody cold. Brrrrr. I got up and it was drizzling so I got a shower packed the bike and had cold pizza and coffee for breakfast mmmm there is something about cold pizza. Plan A was to go and see the sled dog demo and after that I had not got a clue I had thought about going to Anchorage the long way round via the Denali Highway but the weather was not cooperating so I decided to wait till after the husky demo before deciding on what to do. The demo was great fun and you where able to get real close to the dogs and pet them and they are really friendly maybe I should get a dog when I get back as I do like them.
It was dry at the Denali National Park which was 10 miles away from the hostels so I decide to do the Denali Highway and I will decide after whether to go North to Canada or South to Anchorage that does not sound right but its correct I have to go a long way north to get back into Canada. Denali Highway is another dirt track and I knew it was a bit rough for the first couple of miles in and the last couple of miles out well it turned out it was crap and hard going for the first 30 miles no real track to follow and huge stones boulder all over the place and they had let one of those stupid huge road smoother loose on the road which in my view make the road worse for motorcycles as if left alone there is a natural single track which is easily followed but when smoothed there is no track and it is like driving in treacle.
The road improved but then it started to rain so it turned slippery and then it started getting cold as I mentioned before I had changed all my gauges to American so my temperature gauge was hovering around the 42 Fahrenheit range but later as I started to climb and I went into the clouds when suddenly a big yellow light on my dash started flashing which shook me for a while as it was cold and wet and I was in the middle of nowhere and I realised it was ice warning light the temp had dropped to 37 Fahrenheit which I had no idea what that was in real money but I knew it must be near freezing as my flashing yellow light was telling me.I have just looked up the temperatures and 37 is 2 centigrade and 42 is 5 centigrade so its brass monkeys weather no wonder I had lost all feeling in my fingertips and to top it all cold wet slippery no visibility the rain had turned to sleet and the sleet had turned to snow.
37 Fahrenheit 2 Centigrade!
So this was supposed to one of the nicest roads in Alaska and I was trying to hang on for dear life except I had lost feeling in both me hands and had not felt me toes for quite some while and I was getting near to the end of 137 miles road which I knew was supposed to be bad and if anything like the beginning I was in for a hell of ride. I think because of the weather I could not see the road so I was just ploughed through everything and before I knew it was on tarmac again on the other side. First thing I did was find a café ordered a coffee and a Philly Sandwich and sat there dripping and shivering and trying to get some feeling back into my extremities.
Decision time, which was pretty easy it looks like the weather, had turned cold and Anchorage was another 350 miles away I decided to head to the border which was North to get me back on a southerly trail and hopefully warmer climes. I had a name of a hostel which was 170 miles away so I put back on my wet gear and batten down the hatches and I just got stuck in. Wet and cold and road works but looks like my off road skills are improving as I was able to keep up with the pilot car through and a long stretch of muddy road works so all the practise I been getting is doing me good or I am just numb and brain dead from the cold and oblivious to anything the bike is doing. I got to the place where the hostel was supposed to be but I could not find so plan D headed for Tok and I hoped that the ambulance I stayed in before was free. This was another 60 miles down the road not what I wanted to keep on going but it had stopped raining and visibility had improved so I had a quite a nice run into Tok even though my legs had stopped functioning and I had no feelings in my hands and even though it had stopped raining my wet kit was starting to dry and as the water evaporates this causes cooling so I was cold to the bone when I finally reached the campsite. Bugger Ambulance taken but fortunately they had a walled tent which is a hut frame with a canvas skin empty and that is where I am now I had a sort of a sauna and poured a bucket of hot water over myself so feeling a lot warmer and the Hut is reasonably large so my stuff is hanging up drying all over the place. Two of my panniers had leaked I am not sure if that was down to me not making sure the seal was clear or they are just crap I will have to keep an eye on this but the inner bags and the waterproof computer bag did there job so no biggie. Back into Canada tomorrow so the Alaska part of my adventure is over. I would have liked to seen a bit more of the south of Alaska and would have liked to see Mount McKinley in all its glory but I did not fancy freezing my nuts of to do this and have to make a call and live with the decisions that I cannot do everything even though I would like to.
Back in the Yukon
Well I am back in Whitehorse why? because they have two Tim Horton’s there that is why. Not really just a happy coincident. I had a great night sleep I had pulled my long Johns and thermals out as I was expecting a cold night but I was very toasty so it was difficult to get up. The sun was shining and it was warm a total contrast to yesterday I slowly pulled my kit together and headed to a place called Fast Eddies and I had missed breakfast by 15 minutes why is it that they cannot serve breakfast type food all day it is beyond me it cannot be that difficult and some of us can eat breakfast type thing at anytime of the day not only in the morning so I ended having a teriyaki chicken burger for breakfast. I missed the café when I was leaving town so had to do a U turn and the site I saw made me regret my decision on leaving Alaska so soon blue skies snow covered mountains oh yes that was the reason why I was leaving snow!
Why am I leaving Alaska
A beautiful day in the saddle after a late start a good road except for the odd roadwork’s but you had perfect black tarmac, purple flowers on the side of the road, green forest, turquoise lakes and snow covered mountains either side of the road as well it does not get much better than this and it was like this for most of 600 plus km I did today.
Back in the Yukon
Oh yes I am back to the metric system and it was between 18-22 degrees centigrade all day total opposite of yesterday but a most enjoyable day in the saddle. I headed for the same hostel I stayed in last time but this was full so went to another one just round the corner which was just as good it was 9.30pm when I got there but I had gained an hour coming back into the Yukon so I walked out to Tim Horton’s for my fix as its been more than week since my last one and I will be going there for breakfast tomorrow as well I am heading South to the Cassiar Highway to see how far I get along it but if anything like today I am happy to ride forever with scenery like I have seen today so do I regret leaving Alaska maybe but Canada is also tops as well