Day of Chores- Laundry, Maintenance, Catching Up

June 26, 2012

I found WIFI today, so I have posted several days Journaling.

I was tired last night.  I slept till 8am here.  If you know me, you know that is not normal.  But I feel great today.  If you are looking for pictures, there are none today. I did not use the tracker on the SPOT since I was only running around Fairbanks all day.

Today is a day of catching up.  After getting up this morning, I start packing to leave the hotel.  Steve tries to leave to do his laundry but something is wrong with his bike.  His clutch isn’t working right. After looking it over we decide it is low on clutch fluid.  I lend him my bike and he runs to the auto part place.  More fluid fixes it. Good thing it didn’t happen on the haul road at sometime we pulled over for pictures.

I inspect my bike and lube the chain for the millionth time.  I find a nut missing that helps to hold on one of my side cases.  I continue packing.  Once that is done I head to the laundry place near the university.  I do my laundry and while I am there strike up a conversation with a couple from Sweden that is hike across Canada and Alaska.  They figure is will be about another month in Alaska, then back to work in Canada.  They are looking at going up to Prudhoe Bay. It starts raining.

After the laundry, I find a hardware store to get a nut and washer to fix the side case mount. But I don’t put in on because now it is pouring down.  I find a place to eat at Dans Sourdough Café.  I get the special. This is a quarter pound hamburger with a slab of ¼ inch thick ham, 2 fried eggs, 6 slices of bacon, onion and tomato slices on a sour dough bun.  With a side of potato salad of course.  It tasted great.  The food maybe expensive up here, but they believe that you should not go away hungry.

Since it is still pouring down rain, I find a little coffee shop/café on the second floor of a book store that has free WIFI.  It is only a few blocks from the University of Alaska campus.  Now I can get caught up on the journaling.  While I am there, I meet a couple of motorcycle riders and some bicycle riders.  We exchange information.  I meet some of the local people who give me ideas of what to see and where to go to avoid the major tourist.

I now plan to find a camping place to stay the night and hopefully the weather will be clearer tomorrow.  With the rain today, visibility was only about 1 mile, so I would not be able to see some of the things I wanted to.  I will try again tomorrow.  I am thinking of heading toward Whitter, Homer and Valedez.  Maybe some pictures can be taken tomorrow.

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Heading South to Fairbanks Alaska

June 25, 2012

It rained all night, but I stayed dry.  As I wake, I can see the mosquitoes through the netting on the tent.  So I put full riding gear on before getting out of the tent.  The temperature is a warm 52 F.  Of course it is light.  I meet with the other riders for breakfast.  It cost $12.95 for buffet or off the menu.  After eating breakfast, I pack up a few fresh vegetables and fruit for lunch from the buffet, they do this for the workers.  It still looks like it is going to rain more.

We are off for Fairbanks with a stop at Hilltop for gas.  It is 247 miles to the next gas station.  The road is much smoother on this section of the haul road.  We have about 90 miles of pavement. We average 56mph.  The curves and mountains are fun and beautiful. We stop a couple of times along the way.  The first time for a outhouse stop. The second time for a lunch break and the 3rd time is Hilltop for gas.  All but Karen, her GS1200R runs out of gas going up the hill to the station short just a few hundred yards, and she has to put a little in to get to the station.

At Hilltop we part company.  We talk about going to dinner together and then decide we are all too tired to be good company.  We exchange good-byes.  I head to Adventure Cycle shop to get the Calcium Nitrate washed off.  That stuff will eat brake pads and aluminum up.  Dan power washes it for me, gives me some advice on how to clean it better, and gives me a takeoff tire so I can make it home without having to buy and new rear tire.  So now I am carrying a tire on the back of the bike with me.

I go to the motel that I am splitting with Steve.  I order Chinese and have it delivered.  So the planes, and jets of all shape and sizes are going over while I eat and try to journal.  I am just to exhausted mentally to journal.  I dry out the camping gear, then fold it up and go to bed.

Steve and I will say good-bye and part ways tomorrow morning.  I am headed south.  The temperature is warm enough that I don’t need to sleep under a blanket tonight.

Well a little bit of bad news. The CF card in my camera got corrupt so I lost the last 43 pictures I took.

But  here is a link to all the pictures I took on the haul road over the last 3 days.

In the Arctic Ocean and a Good Day on the Haul Road

June 24, 2012

Today starts with packing the bike them into the café to grab a large  breakfast.  Find our way over to the tour bus. It is 36 F and the ice fog has rolled in.  I got to stand in the Arctic Ocean.  A guy from Texas probably in his late seventies stripped down to his skivvies and dived in.  We all cheered.  The beach was round rocks.  Not far off shore is the ice.  You can see it through the ice fog..  I did not get to see a Polar bear, but they are in the area.  They have polar bear cages around the building and work areas. The cages are for people to get in if a polar bear is in the area and they can’t make it to a truck or building.   The tour guide is a native Indian that is a police officer here.   He was quite interesting to talk with. I was one of the few who found the tour itself interesting, Next we go back to the motel and grab a hot lunch and pack a sack lunch to go.

Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay  is in a arctic desert.  They get less than 10 inches of moisture a year.  There are sand dunes that the bears like to dig in to hibernate for the winter.  But it is also in a swamp, so there is water all over the place.  The tundra moves.  The dirt shifts and turns with the freeze thaw cycle and plants and flowers were everywhere.

On the road back I saw Musk Ox, Fox and Cariboo.  Along with Arctic Goose and many water fowl.

Well it is time to head back down the haul road. I sort of dread it.  The group I am traveling with all agree we should stop at Cold Foot for the night.  So that is our destination.   We take off.  The road is totally different than yesterday.  Many of the potholes have been filled, the wet slimy calcium Nitrate has be crushed in to make a firm smooth bed.  There is still some loose gravel.  The big rocks are crushed down and it is firm over the top of them.  It really wasn’t to bad.  I got to look around at the scenery.  About 30 miles from Cold Foot I run into rain that is really coming down.  Speed slows to 10mph to see the road and stay on it.  The Slick slimy stuff is back.  Only lasts for maybe ½ mile.  Then dry again.  17 miles north of Coldfoot  there is construction.  The semis in front of us pack ruts in the dirt/gravel mix  about 1 ½ foot deep.  Steve and Bill take the high route not in the ruts and sink the bikes about 5 inches, but can power through.  I don’t have dirt tires so I take a rut and get through but have to step down 10 times to balance.  Karen takes a rut and one of her panniers catches the side, this causes the rear tire to climb and over the bike goes at about 20mph.  The only thing broken is a turn signal and she is sore but OK.

We get into Coldfoot and fuel up first thing encase they run out of fuel again.  Steve and I rent a camp site and set up our tents among the mosquitoes. The little device I brought for the bugs works, but it takes about 15 minutes to clear the area of them.  The Storm we went through is catching up.  We hurriedly finish setting camp.  The mosquitos are thick enough to be a cloud.  I set the tent up in full riding gear so no skin is available for them. This is the first tent camp site that offered me towels, shampoo, and soap with the shower.  Karen and Bill rent the cheapest room for $200.  We all meet at the café for a meal and a beer while setting out on the deck and talking about the last couple of days adventures..

It starts raining while we eat and talk.  Around 11pm I head off to the tent.  You can hear the wolves barking, growling and playing in the woods outside camp.  A moose cow and 2 calves wandered thru by the tents.  It is raining and daylight at 11:30pm as I lay down to go to sleep. The mosquitoes are even t in the rain.

For those that are interested, ColdFoot  has no telephone, internet,  or cell reception.  It has a 75KW generator to run all the electrical in the town.  Whiles I was there, it had a population of 210 people and 2 dogs.  Most of the people are road construction workers. These workers have 10 hour days for 14 days then off for 14 days.  The room and board is paid for by the company that hires then.

Farthest North and No Fuel

June 23, 2010

Today I go up the haul road.  Last night I got reservations for the Arctic Ocean tour at 9am Sunday morning.  Got everything packed to go this morning. As I travel to get to the Dawson Highway (North Shore Haul Road),I run through twisting turns around the side of the mountains.  The curves are fun and the scenery is gorgeous.

At first the haul road is good.  Nice asphalt, or groomed gravel.  As I go further the gravel becomes loose like sand and the asphalt has cracks up to 8” wide along with pot holes that are 10-12” deep.  They are rebuilding in one area so we get to follow the road through the ditch and back out.  Steve missed his fueling point and did not think he could make it to Coldfoot, So we start riding in fuel conservation mode.

I am carrying a gallon in case he would run out.

244 miles to the next gas

He made it only to find out they have not gas. I got 69 miles per gallon, the best I have ever gotten. We stop at the arctic circle for a picture.  This is where we meet Bill and Karen for the first time.  Karen is a 5 time cancer survivor and wanted to do this ride with her husband of 30 years.

The fuel truck is due to arrive today sometime.  They are currently out of gas.  The temperature is in the 70s.  The road hasn’t been to bad.  Very rough and some very loose gravel.  Only a little mud.  I had a $10 burger and fries.  The burger was very large, good and filling.  The fuel truck arrives at a little after 6pm.  The original plan was to be in Prudhoe Bay by 7 pm and it is still 244miles away.  We get in line for gas and we are off.

The daylight will be no problem because the sun doesn’t set at this time of year.  The road is getting rougher.  There is stretches of gravel that is the size of your fist.  They are applying calcium nitrate to keep the dust down.  The dust become so thick when a heavy truck rolls thru that you can’t see the front tire on the bike or the road.  You hold your breath becaue the salt in the dust burns. It is very slick mud when first put down.  The wind is picking up at about 20-30 mph.  It is getting colder. The temperature drops to 38 F. Even if the sun doesn’t go down it gets colder as you go far enough north.  The sun is at its lowest point in the north sky and we are headed north.  You can’t see if the road is wet and slick, or the potholes of the cracks or the deeps.  It is miserable riding, but we push on along with 4 other riders at slower than normal speeds.  I don’t see the scenery, I concentrate on the road. I would only see an animal if it was in the ditch or in the road.   Any little mistake will have major consequences.  I am over 500 miles from the nearest hospital.  Both the metal and physical stress wears on you.

Gas is getting low, The strong winds and bad riding conditions are eating it up.  Steve has to stop 22 miles from Prudhoe Bay to put gas in, Karen has to stop 16 miles out, Bill adds some to his at this point, I have enough to make it to the gas station.  I as running the smallest bike.  The others are 1000 and 1200 CC bikes.

I arrive in Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay a little past midnight.  The sun is still 20 degrees above the horizon. Prudhoe Bay  is an oil camp town.  Everything has a function or it isn’t there.  The gas station is built to serve industry not the tourist.  The gas hose had double shut offs and a catch pan is required to fill up.  The card reader is inside the building, only the hose was outside. It took a while to find the place, because the industrial town is spread out over several miles.  And there is no signs for us tourist to follow.  Then it is time to find the hotel.  The hotel looks like every other building in town.  A bunch of modular units put together.  At the Prudhoe Bay Motel, I split a room with Steve so it only cost $110 each per night.  But because it is a working oil camp, food is served 24 hours a day and come with the room.  Really it is not a bad price considering you can eat about $30 in food in a single meal at what food costs up here in the north.

My legs hurt from holding having to stand and balance on the pegs. My arms and hand ache from fighting the handle bars trying to hold the track. My back aches from the stress it is in.  I have a headache from concentration on the road looking into the sun for hours. It is a wonderful feeling.  I finally made it to the top of the USA by road.  I need to sleep , but I am giddy like a little kid.  Wide awake, because only 6 hours from now I get to go to the arctic ocean.

Finally in Alaska and it is 80 degrees

June 22, 2012

I made it to Alaska today.  In fact this morning.  Guess what? NO RAIN today.  It was a short day as far as riding goes, only 350 miles today.  Over 3400 miles total.  We got some bad gas in Delta Juntion.  Steve’s bike quit running at the Golden North Motel in Fairbanks. As luck would have it the Harley dealer was just across the street.  They knew the problem and fixed it at no charge.  They were not even open, they had closed 5 minutes before.  I went and got my oil changed at Adventure Cycle in Fairbanks. They run there shop out of their house garage and do a good business.  They had 7 customers from around the world come in for something while I was there.  . When I got back, I drained the tank and put in fresh gas, along with a cleaning additive. Oh yeah, I am in Fairbanks Alaska and it is over 80 F here.  The locals think of it as a heat wave.  No one has air conditioners.

We got a late start this morning, it was around 9am.  I had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. They had a buffet for the tour bus guests.  I got there about the time it was leaving and only had oatmeal with fresh raspberries.  I help the staff by cleaning the table before I set down.  Then talked with them since I was the only one there.  I ended up get the breakfast for what they charge the staff, so it was only $2.95 and that included the coffee.

I watched some squirrels this morning after breakfast.  At first I thought it was a baby since it was only about 5 inches long including the tail.  But after watching for a while and seeing many more of them around that size, I think it was full sized.

I took time to stop and smell the roses today. Even took a picture of them.  Also took a picture of a damsel fly (they eat mosquitoes).  This was by a large lake that was glass still.  It had trumpeter swans on it, but they were too far away for a decent picture.

The speed limit in Alaska is 55mph.  We have been warned several times to watch for moose.

Made reservations for Sunday to go to the Arctic Ocean, you have to do it 24 hours ahead of time, so they can do a background check on you.  You cross the North Shore oil fields. Tomorrow we start up the Dalton Hwy or Haul Road as it is called here.  Some 500 miles of mixed payment, rock and mud we will be at Prudhoe Bay, Deadhorse Alaska. There is only a low chance of rain along the route for the next 3 days.  It is good to go.

My days/nights/time is all screwed up.  The sun sets, but it doesn’t get dark.  So when does you day stop and the night begin?  I am now 3 hours difference from my home, that is one hour past pacific time.

A little shower on the longest day of the year.

June 21, 2012

Today was another wonderful day.  The scenery was fabulous again. It was dry most of the day  I got an early start, but stopped at the café in Watsons Lake.  Had a 3 egg ham and cheese omelet with coffee of just under $10. A real reasonable price for up here and it was good.

At breakfast I talked with Chip and Linn from Chicago, who were riding the Alaska highway put doing less than 300 miles a day. Meet up with them later at Tesslin.  Also met up with Steve again, he is from Colorado.  We partnered up to ride together since we are both headed to Deadhorse.  He rides a VStrom also, but the 1000.

I saw more mountains, trees and wilderness, and now at a higher altitude, there is snow still here.

Came across a couple of grizzly bears.  Actually saw 3 grizzlies and 1 black bear today.  Not many other animals.

That ain’t wet asphalt. That is mud where they are making repairs.

We were following a rain storm so the road was wet and muddy where they were repairing it.  Decided to push on to camp, but found it closed and had to go even further.  This put me in the rain storm for about 150 kilometers.

That ain’t wet asphalt. That is mud where they are making repairs.

We end up stopping at Beaver Creek and staying at a motel. I am splitting the cost of a room with Steve.  The warm shower felt good after driving in the cold mountain rain storm for so long.

This is the summer Solaris, the longest day of the year.  I know the sun was up at 3:30am and it is still up at 1:15am.  I am not sure how long the day is.

A Wonderful Ride, but No Place to Camp (at first)

June 20, 2012

Today started dry.  It was a wonderful change.  It got up to 20.4 C today.  Only a few short showers all day long.

I hit the mountains today.  The scenery is great.  Today was worth all the seat time.  It was like a mix of Tetons and Yellowstone without the traffic.  There were animals that are not tame like the ones around Yellowstone.  If you stop to look, they disappear into the forest.  I saw 5 moose, 9 bears, 10 bison, 3 herds of mountain sheep, and one caribou. I was unable to get a picture of the caribou.

Went to some turns off and saw a big waterfall.

It is incredibly beautiful.  Hard to put it in words.

I am camping at Watson Lake. I had a walk through the sign forest.  It is interesting.  Look it up on the web.

I couldn’t find a campground that would take a tenter, only RVs, so I talked with a local (Garman-Wilson) who offered his back yard for tent space. He told me the tent campground in town was run by the government and flooded earlier so they will not be using it this year.  So I camping in his yard.  Just prior to meeting Garman-Wilson, I met 3 guys from Iowa and now they are camping there also.  Garman-Wilson game me a flag of the Yukon Territory and would not accept payment for staying at his place.  He opened up the house for use of the bathroom and shower if we wanted.  And of course a hot shower is nice after a long days ride.  Interest fact: the whole Yukon has less than 50,000 people in it.  But has 150,000 moose.

I had MREs for supper, it was pretty good.  I ate that because the local restaurant and store both closed at 8pm and it was about 9pm by the time I got camp set.  So I had to eat what I brought.

I stayed up late into the night enjoying the comradely.  At midnight the sun was still up. You can easily loss track of time here with so much daylight.

Hopefully this link will work it is to all the pictures today.