Grizzly bears: Cuties or Crazies? You be the judge.
I camped another night at AnchorageÔÇÖs House of Harley and then it was time to begin the (slow) ride back home. And whatÔÇÖs the best way to begin to come home? With a detour, of course!
Several people had strongly recommended that I ride the Denali Highway, a 135 mile stretch of (mostly) gravel road that runs east/west from near the park. So I headed north on the Parks Highway once again and took a right a couple hundred miles later onto the Denali Highway. I was not disappointed!
Bob at the Harley shop had described the road as the perfect place to run a large engine dual sport bike, which happens to be exactly what I (and he) have. All but the first few and the last twenty miles are gravel, but mostly not so deep that youÔÇÖd wash out at speed. ItÔÇÖs the ÔÇ£mostlyÔÇØ part that makes it so fun!
I was also treated to a great view of Denali (Mt McKinley) on that very clear day.
I spent that night near the east end of the Denali Highway, where the view was wonderful, particularly in the very early morning. For no good reason, I woke up at 4AM and took a look outside, to the north. This is what I saw.
What a great example of the nighttime sky in the northern latitudes! It works like this: in the mid-morning, the sun is visible to the east. As mid-day approaches, the sun rises a bit more, but mostly swings to the south. Toward evening, the sun appears from the west. And during the heart of the night, the sun is below the north horizon, but it continues to light the sky; dusk and dawn sort of blend together.
Growing up, I always thought of mid-day as being a time when IÔÇÖd have no significant shadow, as the sun would be ÔÇômore or less- directly overhead. Not the case toward the arctic circle(s)! In the extreme northern (or southern) latitudes, you will always cast a shadow, unless it is cloudy or you are infinitesimally short, in which case you probably wouldnÔÇÖt be too worried about this point.
Yesterday I rode nearly all day, covering about 530 miles. Perhaps not a full dayÔÇÖs mileage, but considering that I traveled through (literally) hundreds of miles of construction (read: gravel, mud, frost heaves and potholes) and considering that I got dumped on with rain for most of that, I did pretty well. . . .and donÔÇÖt take any of this as a complaint; it was all awesome fun!
By dayÔÇÖs end I reached Haines Junction, where the Alaska Highway meets the road leading south to Haines, Alaska (I took that road five years ago on my way to board a ferry heading south ÔÇô but this time IÔÇÖm going to drive it all. . .)
Another item about yesterdays ride: I had traveled with two cans of beer in a luggage case. I even declared the two cans as I passed through Canadian customs. But immediately after customs, I stopped to get something out of the case only to discover that one can had ruptured and exploded everywhere. In some ways, I had lied because I actually only had one can of beer (another potential topic for debate). But of more importance to me was the havoc played on other of my belongings. It was ugly. With (appropriately) limited respect for a certain Oasis song, this incident will forever be known to me as the ÔÇ£Molson Supernova.ÔÇØ
Today is July 1, at least for another few minutes. It is Canada Day and I am somewhat disappointed that there hasnÔÇÖt been more visible celebration of the holiday. But as one person notes, fireworks would appear lackluster against a sky that does not get dark.
Tomorrow (soon today) is July 2nd. It is my 41st birthday. I have many wild things planned, beginning with a fresh change of clothes. Then perhaps a ride down a road I was afraid of five years ago. . .
Fantastic pictures Paul! Just makes me want to get up to AK even more. Keep riding safe and having fun and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
Even the AGATT/beemer Gals glowed like madonna space angels -redclfco
Your trip has provided motivation to learn a few skills (notably how to fix a flat out in the middle of nowhere) and then trek north to visit my sister, her husband, and their four kids in Anchorage. I think the ride from Seattle to Anchorage and back would be a hoot - even on an RT.
Yep, knowing how to plug a tire would probably be good. And to that same point, bring a little air compressor (I use mine all the time to re-inflate after letting some air out to ride off pavement.
There are more experienced people on this forum than I, but PM me if you have any specifics you'd like to discuss. I tell you all I know. And then you'll really be in trouble!
The Stewart-Cassiar Highway has intrigued me for the last five years. Running south from Watson Lake into central British Columbia, the Cassiar provides an alternate route to the Alaska Highway. I wanted to take this road when I visited five years ago, but two things convinced me otherwise:
1) While at the summer camping trip for the then-active Anchorage Hash House Harriers, one person told me about their experience on the road. While driving at a reportedly-reasonable speed, she ran over an aggressive frost heave, causing her to break an axel and lose two hubcaps. At a standstill, she also was visited by a bear. My takeaway was that the road is spooky.
2) The front drive shaft on my 4-wheel drive RV was rattling something fierce and I sensed that my miles were limited.
So I whimped out and boarded the ferry from Haines to Prince Rupert (and then had the front drive shaft removed a few days later).
On my way up north three weeks ago, I planned to take a ferry to Prince Rupert and then ride up the Cassiar, but as you may recall there was a road wash-out that caused me to re-route my trip.
My next chance to take the road was today. But alas this darn rain will not let up. And having heard that the Cassiar has some significant dirt sections, I opted out. I donÔÇÖt mind gravel and I donÔÇÖt mind dirt. But when deep dirt turns to deep mud, I mind a lot.
So dammit, that highway remains untraveled, at least by me. Perhaps one day I will return with a hardy riding pal and conquer the roads that have recently confounded me.
But this birthday was not without event. In the morning, Elizabeth and Michael, the owners of Watson LakeÔÇÖs Air Force Lodge recognized my birthday with a nice card and candle (which at first I welcomed as food, only to realize that breakfast would be best found down the road).
My second-choice route proved to be rainy and chilly. But my rain gear works well. As does my heated jacket. And this road was paved. And my MP3 player played only the best randomly-selected songs. So all was well.
There were a number of animal sightings including caribou and deer. And the there was a most interesting encounter with some buffalo and a semi truck. Want to hear about that? No matter, because IÔÇÖm going to tell you.
From about a quarter mile, I saw two formidable specs of brown on the road ahead of me. I slowed. And hen slowed some more, stopping about thirty yards from two enormous buffalo who seemed in no hurry to leave their lane, which also happened to be my lane.
A car approached from the other direction and stopped on the other side of the two roadblocks. I decided to pull over to the shoulder of the oncoming lane in case someone pulled up behind me and noticed the animals more than they noticed me. Other vehicles did indeed arrive from both directions. Two queues were formed, both waiting on two disinterested buffalo.
After a couple minutes, a car or two approaching from the other direction decided to ease forward and pass. They were successful, passing between me and the buffalo. The buffalo stayed put. Approaching next from the oncoming lane was an eighteen-wheeler. Because IÔÇÖm smart, I recognized opportunity. If I were to advance past the buffalo in the oncoming laneÔÇÖs shoulder while the very long truck also moved, the truck would provide a barrier between me and the animals while I passed. No time to think; time to act!
As the truck approached, I pulled forward. I did notice that one of the buffalo was heading toward the truck, which meant that I had better move quickly or the truck would be gone before mr. buffalo and I would be quite close to each other. So I pulled the throttle. A lot. With a nice spray of mud and rocks, I passed by the truck with a foot or two between us.
By the time I reached the end of he oncoming truck, I saw the buffalo also rounding the truckÔÇÖs backside. While I was pulled the throttle, sprayed rocks and listened to REO Speedwagon, the buffalo galloped and snorted, both of us about twelve feet apart. I looked in my mirror to see one dejected buffalo. He wanted my bike, I just know it.
Remember how I described myself as smart a moment ago? I might also describe myself as sarcastic. IÔÇÖve created a little graphic to help explain the spacing and timing.
ItÔÇÖs now 8:30PM in Fort Nelson and IÔÇÖm going out to grab a bite to eat. If a buffalo burger is to be had, IÔÇÖm all over it.
Welcome to the second of three performance review reports. This covers the June ÔÇÖ07 performance period and also gives trip-to-date summaries or averages as I may consider appropriate or convenient.
IÔÇÖll start again by recapping my goals:
1) ride one huge loop around North America;
2) run 360 miles and
3) raise $3,600 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Now to report on progress toward those goals and several other metrics.
RIDE ONE HUGE CIRCLE:
Last time I mentioned that success in this category would involve a route that does not return to itÔÇÖs origin by significantly repeating its ÔÇ£outwardÔÇØ path. As of June 30th, I can quite safely say that although IÔÇÖve begun the trip back southeast, I have repeated very little of my outward path. ItÔÇÖs too early to claim victory on this one, but I bet that IÔÇÖll do pretty well. And if not, IÔÇÖll gladly manipulate the facts until they fit my idea of a good story. Here is the output from my GPS for the trip so far (Late April through EOM June):
RUN 360 MILES:
This is a dicey category for sure. I am very pleased that last month I introduced the concept of the RME, or the Road Mile Equivalent. IÔÇÖm quite sure that IÔÇÖll need it. IÔÇÖll allow a small table to give status on this item
The infinite flexibility of the RME will certainly pick up any slack should I not happen to run 158 miles in July. So again, I predict success!
Thank you again!!!! . . .to those of you who have given gifts to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Their goals are important to me as they perform research for cures to cancer and provide assistance to those affected. In memory of my father, I decided to support this organization and IÔÇÖm pleased that many of you have decided to show your support as well.
JuneÔÇÖs nine additional gifts contributed $900 to the total, our net values are now $4,065 across 26 gifts. Thanks again!! Clearly, more clicks are welcome - if interested, the link to the donation page is HERE
Total Motorcycle Miles:
Average Miles per Gallon: 41.35
June: 38.69 (decrease primarily attributed switch to to knobby tires)
States Visited (no double counting from prior period):
Provinces Visited (no double counting from prior period):
Years Aged (as measured by birthdays)
Average: one half hear per month
Close-Calls with Buffalo:
July: 1 (projection)
Hello now from Missoula Montana. This town has engaged me and IÔÇÖve decided to set some root here. Those roots will last no more than thirty six hours, but that is my longest run in one place sine Dawson City three weeks ago.
I pulled into town yesterday afternoon because the bike needed (big surprise) a new rear tire. From here to home, IÔÇÖm going with street tires as they last at least twice as long as the more-fun-but-less-efficient knobbies.
But to jump into the details of Montana would be to shortcut a few experiences since my earlier-this-month encounter with a couple massive buffalo. . .
After flinging dirt and fear at a dejected buffalo, I flung my way down to Dawson Creek where I enjoyed some much welcome sunshine and even went for a run of non-trivial distance. In confidence of the Super 8 desk attendee, I learned that the police activity I witnessed when in the same town weeks earlier was a response to a drug-related gun killing. I was glad to learn this detail after I had completed my runs, both prior and more recent.
My return to mile zero of the Alaska Highway represented ÔÇôfor me- the end of the ÔÇ£oh man, you are way out there!ÔÇØ part of my ride. From there on in, all things would be resourced and calculated, right? Perhaps.
I rode the next day to British ColumbiaÔÇÖs Jasper park. Jasper is at the north end of the Icefields Parkway which reaches southeast down to Banff, by way of Lake Louise. Wanting to allow ample time to enjoy these adjoining parks, I opted to stay overnight in Jasper. With very good weather, I set up my tent and headed out for a run. Funny ÔÇôhow even after a day of mind-cleansing riding- a run can really set everything right with the world. Great scenery doesnÔÇÖt hurt.
Ok time for a couple photos, first of the riverside trail, then that eveningÔÇÖs river. . .
The next day I made good on my plan to ride the parks. As many report, the scenery is exceptional. The mountains are dramatic and usher glaciers downward form icefields that are unseen from the road ÔÇô yet their cooling winds are felt. Parked at one moment, I could have sworn that a certain glacier has plans on encapsulating me and my bike. But realizing that it would take many centuries for the glacier to reach us, I acted ÔÇôin relation- like lightning when I pulled away forty-five minutes later.
Leaving the Jasper/Banff area, I headed south toward the US. Wait, on more photo from Banff. . .
Entering the lower 48, I headed directly for MissoulaÔÇÖs BMW shop. Having made plans to stay there (here), for the night, I became enamored with the town and decided to spend a ÔÇ£day in placeÔÇØ so that I could enjoy the townÔÇÖs amenities including highly-great running trails, lovely brewpubs and an opportunity to do a ÔÇ£star-wars volume 4ÔÇØ caliber clean-up of the bike.
Remember how in the very first released star wars, droids R2D2 and C3PO both received a good cleaning at some point mid-movie? It wasnÔÇÖt the thorough cleaning they got before the movieÔÇÖs end, but it was pretty darn good. ThatÔÇÖs the treatment my bike got earlier today, while I got a back-load of sunburn. In other words, all is well!!!!
Exceptional scenery indeed.