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Thread: North to ALASKA!

  1. #61
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    53 sMiles south of Alpine, TX USA
    Maintaining order? Now that's a tall request ; )
    They did have a record 167 bikes or so, and 135 for the steak dinner. What fun!

    We may not have most miles, but certainly the most sMiles!

    The ticket story is a good one! But Dick could describe drying paint and make it fascinating!

    This morning we have been on the road exactly one month. My time can fly! Today we are doing laundry. Well, actually, yesterday and today we are doing laundry. I packed nice dry clothes in my tankbag yesterday, and the 200 miles of steady rain washed them pretty well. So today they are hanging all around the cabin we are in - drying.

    We spent four nights at Dawson (City), Yukon Territory: The first two nights in the campground (no bear the second night) and the next two in the Whitehouse Cabins in a room arranged for us by Barb from Alaska Leather. "Dust to Dawson" was Friday. It is not a rally! They insist on that! We had a great steak dinner Friday night; field games in the (closed off) street in front of the Downtown Hotel started at 9:00 p.m.; but the main event was taking daylight photos at midnight on the shortest night of the year. The "sunset" over the Yukon River at about 12:45 was spectacular - both by its beauty and by the time of its happening. It rises again so soon that it never really gets dark at all! Voni sleeps with her hat pulled down over her eyes.

    But, as vagabonds must, we have moved on. We left Dawson on Saturday morning and rode south to Whitehorse. Stopped at the Hi Country RV Park and Campground. It was sprinkling but no real big deal as far as rain was concerned. Monday morning we went to Walmart and changed oil in both bikes. My favorite oil - Castrol 4t 4 stroke, SG rated, motorcycle oil - was available and priced 48 cents a quart less than the comparable GTX car oil. Voni asked if we could dispose of oil at the auto center and they said "sure - we can supply a pan and a funnel if you need them." Kudo's to the Whitehorse Walmart.

    We left Whitehorse about noon and headed east (southbound) on the Alaska Highway. From Whitehorse to Teslin was a fine ride. As we approached Teslin, with the Yukon's longest steel grate decked bridge it began to sprinkle. We bought fuel for something just north of $6.00 a gallon and headed on after a good lunch. In short order it began to rain - and the unrelenting, unrepentant rain continued unabated for the next 196 miles. At that point we called it quits at "Nugget City" - a campground, cabins, store, restaurant, and refuge located just west of the junction of the Cassiar Highway and Alaska Highway - 12 miles west of Watson Lake, YT.

    Since the forecast (and reality all morning) for today is steady rain we are spending an extra day here before heading on. Besides, the laundry isn't done yet anyway. Our cabin is dry and warm. And we have a platoon of fellow refugees. Yesterday as we climbed slowly to an elevation just over 3,000 feet above sea level I was watching the thermometer closely. Rain is one thing! Cold rain is another. But freezing rain is in a league all of it's own. But the temperature never dropped below 37F and it warmed to 48 as we headed back down hill to Nugget City.

    I had Barb (Alaska Leather) haul a new front tire for Voni's bike from Anchorage to Dawson for me, along with a new spare tube for the rear tires to replace the tube I shredded between Tok and Chicken. I intended to change that tire last night - might even yet today if it continues clearing here. There is wifi here at Nugget City so Voni is perfectly happy, yes indeed!!

    More as we know it or think of it.

    Pictures here:

    And here:

    Paul and Voni
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Live fully. Laugh deeply. Love widely.
    BMW MOA Ambassador / FOM / Roving Forum Moderator/
    Selected Friends of Wile E Coyote/ A Million BMW sMiles

  2. #62
    From our trip to Alaska seventeen years ago I have many somewhat foggy memories and several very distinct ones. Among those is the Robert Service Cabin and the ferry in Dawson City, the museum and old cars in Fort Nelson, and one specific roadhouse. I've been looking for that roadhouse again this trip since heading south from Fairbanks. Yesterday I found it!

    What I distinctly remembered was that we had started the day and ridden an hour or two, and then stopped for some food. They had magnificent fresh baked bread. With some cheese we had, it made the perfect lunch! I remember the young lady saying, "The bread truck doesn't come along up here very often so we bake our own every day."

    Tetsa River Outfitters is located about 70 miles north (west actually, but along the highway everybody talks about going north or going south) of Fort Nelson. See: Now they advertise as the "cinnamon bun center of the galactic cluster." And it's true. We had some. Tetsa River Outfitters at Mile 375 remains an old-time highway roadhouse: rooms, camping, fuel, some food, some supplies. We met Cliff Andrews who explained that his new ad in the Milepost will specifically welcome motorcyclists. He showed us the pavillion and the log building both being improved for the enjoyment of motorcyclists - especially in rainy weather. This is a must stop along the Alaska Highway!

    Many times when we tell local folks we were up here 17 years ago they say, "Sure has changed, eh?" To which I could write a book for an answer. The road is the same - or worse, or better, depending on the miles post and depending on the weather. About the same amount of construction, and crappy in the same spots too, I'd say. But the road has lost some of its adventure, and charm.

    Fuel is less available today than 17 years ago. Back then you could find fuel about every 40 miles, at a roadhouse with food, fuel, generally a few rooms, and a spot to throw a tent. Now there are RV Parks instead of campgrounds, and the remnants of closed if not abandoned roadside businesses. In their place are "new construction log style motels". The one-pump roadhouses are becoming lost in the past. It is still a marvelous trip - but not the same.

    The museum at Fort Nelson is still a "don't miss" spot. We are camped next door. The outdoor displays can take hours to explore and the inside contains even more. Voni and I spent a couple hours there - taking pictures of course. And, to nobody's surprise, none of our photos duplicated each other. Funny how that works.

    Paul and Voni
    Last edited by PGlaves; 06-26-2008 at 04:32 AM.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  3. #63
    Greetings from the Northwest Territories!

    Well, not quite. We are back from the Northwest Territories and camped again at Fort Nelson. There are three or four roads that go to the Northwest Territories. Up from near Dawson City to Inuvik is one. North of Edmonton up to Great Slave Lake is another. And the Liard Trail north from near Fort Nelson to Fort Liard is another. So we headed north to see what we could see.

    The guidebooks caution to be on the lookout for wildlife. Compared to the Alaska Highway between Watson Lake and Fort Nelson, where we saw Bison, Moose, and Stone Sheep it was a little tame but we did see several Bison. Huge brown lumps standing beside the road grazing. They look so benign but can be so nasty when aggravated.

    BC 77 to the NWT is a decent chip-seal coated road. Water ran over the road in only one spot. The gravel breaks and huge potholes were limited to an approximate 5 kilometer stretch near the border. The road to Fort Liard from the border is gravel and being reconstituted from a tough winter. We stopped and had lunch - fresh bakery bread, some cheese, and a few other snack items.

    The bridge over the Fort Nelson River is the longest Bailey Bridge still in use. Named after its inventor, a Bailey Bridge is composed of several steel trusses pinned together like a giant Erector Set. The trusses go lengthwise, with I beams as cross beams, and wooden planks laid lengthwise. The sign said, "Slippery When Frosty." My thought was, "Well, isn't everything."

    Now we are back at Fort Nelson.

    A "caravan" came in. It seems that just like with the wagon trains of old, folks in certain RVs cluster together for safety, security, and conviviality as they adventure northward. Day before yesterday it was 47 RVs traveling together that swamped the campground staff. Tonight it was only 19 or 20. You can be sure it is a very dangerous world when travelers in quarter million dollar RV buses have to travel together to feel safe and have fun. And in contrast, I found the solo bicyclist with his mummy bag and bivy tent, riding alone up the highway, camped right next to a big RV. Life is great, on the road, when you let it be so!

    Paul and Voni
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  4. #64
    It is Monday, June 30. We entered Washington State in the "Lower 48" at
    8:30 this morning. Our great northern adventure thus comes to a close.
    We'll continue to travel for a while but North to Alaska (and back) is
    now over. We are now headed by a most indirect route to the BMW MOA
    Rally in Gillette, Wyoming - planning to arrive in Gillette on Monday,
    July 14 for Camp GEARS for young riders, which we are hosting again this

    Picture links:


    While traveling in the north country there are a few things we learned.

    We learned:

    1. It was hotter (105 in the Okanagon) in southern British Columbia
    today than it was in Alpine, Texas.

    2. The unpaved portion of the Top of the World Highway in Alaska is
    better than the "paved" portion in the Yukon.

    3. To Voni, "living off the land" means buying fresh 12 grain bread at a
    bakery and strange cheese at a deli or grocery. To Paul it means a can
    of soup and some of Voni's last-week's bread.

    3. A sign that says Caution - Loose Gravel" means many different things,
    ranging from one guy with a shovel patching a pothole to 3 inches of
    marble sized and shaped rocks for the next 24 miles. You don't know what
    it means till you get there.

    4. A BMW F650 is a marvelous long-distance back-roads touring motorcycle
    - almost 10,000 miles since we left Texas with nearly no bike problems -
    burned out brake light bulb, one flat tire, one loosened electrical

    5. The roads in the north country, especially the Yukon and Alaska, chew
    the tread off tires at a very rapid pace. We changed 3 tires in
    Anchorage and the forth a few days later. Tires are available at good
    prices at Alaska Leather in Anchorage. And they have great sheepskin
    seat pads too!

    6. Drivers in British Columbia don't pass. They hurtle along as fast as
    they can until they come up behind a slower vehicle. Then they just get
    in line and tailgate. Soon there are 4 or 7 or 11 or 14 cars, all packed
    up like Kipper Snacks in a tin can, trundling along together. The second
    car won't pass the lead car, and the third car won't pass the first two.
    Everybody from there back can't pass the three or more, and there is no
    room to pass one at a time. Luckily, the government comes to their
    rescue every so often with a passing lane. Even then, half of them still
    just tailgate their way along, happy to have somebody else show them how
    fast, or slow, to go.

    7. If any major highway in any state in the United States was as bad as
    the Alaska Highway between Destruction Bay and Beaver Creek in the
    Yukon, the governor would be impeached. But given that the frost level
    goes down several feet into mucky soil, even having a paved road at that
    location is a bit of a wonder.

    8. Fuel costing as much as $6.50 a gallon does not keep motorhomes and
    big RVs from traveling to Alaska. Everybody wants to take the "trip of
    their lifetime" now, before it gets worse.

    9. When the warning sign for a hairpin turn says 30 kilometers per hour,
    and your brain fails to translate that into miles per hour despite a
    couple of weeks on metric roads, things get very interesting very
    quickly. Clue: you are going about 9/5 the speed you want to be and your
    knee gets very close to the ground.

    10. Mosquitos are bigger, meaner, and more plentiful late in June than
    early in June. So is traffic.

    11. The good people in the world vastly outweigh the few bad ones. We
    met many nice folks and none of the scoundrels you constantly hear about
    in the news.

    12. About one day after riding most of the day on dusty gravel roads,
    the mechanism on a flip-up helmet gets really cranky. And, about two
    days after you clean the mechanism with WD-40 the screws loosen and
    might fall out. And, even though Canada is a "metric" country with
    kilometers and liters, none of the several hardware stores between Fort
    Saint John and 100 Mile House have any small metric bolts.

    13. Whenever you park two motorcycles, when you check the air in the
    tires, at least one valve will be unreachable without moving a bike.

    14. Figuring fuel costs in Canada is easier than it used to be. You
    still have to convert liters to gallons and kilometers to miles but you
    don't need to convert cheap Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars any more.
    They are both cheap now. Which explains why the the gas isn't.

    15. The most important thing to bring along on a trip is TIME. Time to
    stop, time to photograph, time for one more side trip, time to stay an
    extra day, time to sit, and time to stare off at the horizon.

    16. If you are thinking about it - just do it!

    Paul and Voni
    Last edited by PGlaves; 07-03-2008 at 05:07 AM.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  5. #65
    Enjoy the Ride jjlawrence's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Wonderful trip. I really enjoyed the story and pictures. Thanks for taking us along for the ride.

    Jim L.

  6. #66
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    53 sMiles south of Alpine, TX USA
    The more the merrier!

    Here's my last pictures, from Prince George, BC to Lacey, WA.

    Thanks for sharing our fun!

    Live fully. Laugh deeply. Love widely.
    BMW MOA Ambassador / FOM / Roving Forum Moderator/
    Selected Friends of Wile E Coyote/ A Million BMW sMiles

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