Sunday, March 30, 2008

Paxson Gas Station

This is the Gas Station in Paxson. Its a long way to the restaurant where you pay for your gas, and if you don't know how to use the pump it might take a few walks between the two before you get to pay.

Paxson is on the East end of the Denali Hwy and I wanted to get fuel so i could take any detours I might have found and still make it to the other end with out having to push.

The lady that took my money wasn't in the greatest of moods, maybe it was because I couldn't figure out how to pump the gas. But I met three guys who were riding through from the lower 48. They were wearing mosquito nets over their heads because of the bugs but I didn't think they were actually that bad. Their plan was to either ride the Denali Hwy or go up to Fairbanks depending on the weather.

I rode on to Tangle Lakes and got a room at the lodge because by the time I got there it was raining pretty good. In the morning I took my time getting ready just in case they rode by, but i didn't see them along the way so they must have gone to Fairbanks. Oh well, their loss. It might have been foggy, but it was still beautiful.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Yukon River Ferry

For some great reason the only way to cross the Yukon River to get to Dawson City is by ferry. Its a pretty neat and it reminded me a lot of the Drummond Island car ferry.

This ferry is kind of like a landing craft. It just grounds it self on the bank, lowers the ramp, and you ride on. Same thing on the other side but you ride off. The ferry isn't that big. I think you could fit 3 or four RV's on it. Maybe six cars max. There is also a bulldozer on one side, and a loader on the other, I assume, to shape the bank so the ferry can land after the bank changes.

This was the night I rolled into Dawson City, probably around 10:30pm. The sun was low, as you can see by the shadow of the hill behind me casting onto the hill in front of me. You'll notice the person on the bench with their hood up. I wouldn't say it was cold, but it was refreshingly brisk. I ended up riding across the river with the fuel truck I had passed a lot earlier in the day. He took up about all of the ferry, but there is always room for a motorcycle or two in front or behind the pilot house.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dawson City Breakfast

I had a good night sleep in the campground across the river and decided that it was time for some breakfast. While I was waiting for the ferry a guy on a V-strom pulled up and introduced himself. Turns out he was on a 6 week Alaska tour from Price George, BC and had just returned from the Arctic Circle on the Dempster Hwy.

The nice ladies I met from Ontario the night before said that Klodike Kate's had good food, so we decided to try it out. Its funny how things work out because the to women from the night before were having breakfast as we walked in. We all chatted for a while, telling stories about home, our trips, and people we had met along the way.

The food and conversation was great and a nice way to start the day.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Yesterday (2-22-08) a bunch of the local KLR owners got together for a Tech Day. Tech Days are nice because many of us are able to address maintenance issues that we might not want to tackle by ourselves. However when you get a few people together, and usually at least one person who really knows what going on (Thanks Beezer) you can do anything.

And of course, after you do maintenance and modifications, you have to go test them out. Plus its Easter, and if you can't celebrate this wonderful time with family you might as well go for a motorcycle ride and take in the beauty provided for us to enjoy.

Since it was kind of cold, 32 degrees F, I decided to run down on Girdwood which is only about 35 miles. The roads were dry and it wasn't that windy. I road a little way into town from the Highway but the road was a little wet. Worrying that there might be ice hiding below the moisture I was careful and took my time.

I would have had a bite to eat at the Double Musky. My friend Josh has told me that its a great place but it never seems to be open when I'm in town. The sign said they'd be open at 4:30 but I couldn't wait around that long. No matter how good the cheese cake is.

Its probabaly good I didn't get to sit down and eat because by the time I made it back to the Gas Station on the Hwy it had started to snow. By no stretch of the imagination was it a blizzard but I figured it would be worth my while to get on the road and see if I could get ahead of the weather.

As you can see I was faster than the snow. This is looking west up the Turnagin arm towards the snow.
This is the same spot looking East. As the road followed the water you could see the sun shining on the Chugach Mountains. If you look at a larger version you may be able to see them to the left of the tree.

Even though it took me a while to warm up after I got home it was really nice to get out and put some miles on the beast. There are still a few things that need to get done so we're both ready for this season but this was a good start.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The second weekend I had the KLR I rolled out of bed, which was actually an air mattress at the time, and thought to myself "Self, where should I go today?". I checked the weather in Whittier and decided I'd better go because a nice day in that town only happens three times a year.

As I was leaving town on my way to the portal of the tunnel I noticed this cub at the airstrip. As they were loading up their gear it looked like they had just finished a good day fishing.

Waiting in line at the tunnel I heard the plane take off and make its way through what I assume is the pass out of the fjord. A small plane like that might be most fun way to travel around this state, but the motorcycle is a really close second.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I was sitting at home last saturday thinking how much I wanted to go for a ride. So I put some cloths on and headed out the door to get the insurance back on the KLR. Lucky for me I got there right before they were going to close and the deal was done.

Where do you go for Mid March ride in Alaska? I went and paid my electric bill.

As I was writing the check I saw this statue on the side of the building. It actually startled me at first because I thought there was a guy climbing the ladder. Its a pretty neat statue. I wonder if there are more around town as some sort of series.

I also took a trip around the very frozen Lake Hood. There are three turns along that road that are pretty fun at 25mph. There is a Cessna 185 in the background there and if you look close you can see some planes on skis sitting on the lake.

It was nice to get in the saddle again. I actually felt like part of the moving experience, leaning into the corners, and smelling the diesel fumes from the pickups at stoplights.

I can't wait until the overnight low is above freezing so I can ride to work again. Hopefully it won't be too long from now.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Yep, it rained on and off on my way back. It wasn't all bad, and the scenery was just as good on the way out as it was on the way in. In my haste I managed to hit a big pot hole going about 55. The jarring I got from bottoming out the suspension reminded me that I should take it easy and live to ride another day.

I came around a corner nearing Chitna and saw this. Of course my picture doesn't do it justice but the intermittent rain and black clouds made for spectacular views that were constantly changing.

Just outside of Chitna headed towards Glennallen the low sun was shining through the lower clouds.

It was getting dark, and cold, by the time I made it to the Richardson Hwy. When the road took me up out of the valley I could see Mt. Sanford and Drum to my right. When a pullout presented itself I had to stop to get a picture.

Shortly after, I found myself at The Hub gas station in Glennallen where I saw a WAY over loaded KLR. So I went in to get something to eat and saw this guy in the below pictures. I think his name is Gabe, sorry if I got it wrong I'm terrible with names.

I struck up a conversation with him and I learned he was moving back to Oregon. It also turned out that we knew the same people in Talkeenta. He asked me if I knew of a free place to camp for the night, which was something I was looking for too. Lucky for us I knew a guy who was living at the airport.

This picture was taken the next morning. We stayed up late talking with our host who made us pancakes with fresh blueberries for breakfast. The coolest part about staying there was that we got to sleep in a room full of SuperCub parts.

That is a pretty sweet Helio Courier right there.

On the way back I ran up Lake Louise road. And found this spot over looking a glacier with a large lake at its terminus.

Then it was back to Anchorage. The trip had everything you'd expect on a good ride. Rain, scenic views, friendly campground owners, and friends of friends you meet at a gas station.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I made it to the end of the McCarty Road and over to river to McCarthy. Not to far from town is the old Kennicott mine. From what I understand they got a lot of really high grade copper out of it. Of course it wasn't as pure as the stuff from the Copper Country, but you can't really compare the two. For more detailed information check out the article on Wikipedia.

This is the visitors center. Right around the corner of the building is a Segway for disabled persons to use. Maybe its just me but I think thats weird.

A different angle of the main building. I missed the last tour of the year and had a little trouble understanding the map I was able to grab at the visitors center. I would like to make this trip a three day weekend this summer. Ride in one day, the the next day tour the mine, take a hike, hang out with the the locals and leave on day three.

I really liked the pirate flag under the Alaska state flag. Looking out over the river valley you can see that it was still raining in spots out there.

This is was I assume used to be part of an airplane. It was just hanging out next to a building in McCarthy. Hope everyone walked away from its last landing.

Another piece of art I saw in town. I didnt' know Studebaker made pickups. It looked like it was in really great condition for how old it must be.

I had planned on camping in McCarthy and heading back to Anchorage the next day. But for some reason I got all antsy and needed to get back on the road. So thats what I did. With that strange urgency in the back of my headed back towards Chitna along the pot holed road I had ridden in on.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pictures Along the McCarthy Road

There were lots of pot holes, but it wasn't too bad if you took your time. I had run into a guy at the Brown Jug in Anchorage who told me about a soft patch of gravel at mile post 10. I almost forgot about the warning until my front tire got all squishy feeling. A rhyme ran quickly through my head "When it doubt, wind it out!". So even though I didn't really want to I forced myself to twist the throttle and I powered on through.

Much of the road passes through low swampy areas. There were strange wooden disks sticking up out just at the surface of the road. I'm assuming they are pilings driven down to support a old railroad structure that might have been there before.

If it wasn't moose season it was getting close to it. For some reason I have the feeling thats what this plane was doing here. No matter the reason, can you imagine landing on such a narrow strip next to the road like that? I can, and I bet it would be a lot of fun. Mostly after you were on the ground.

On a side note: In Alaska airplanes have the right-of-way on all Highways, and all roads if I remember correctly. Don't forget to look up before pulling out into that intersection.

The weather was changing the whole way. Sometimes there would be sun, other times rain. There was a lot of contrast between the sunny spots and the areas covered with ominous dark clouds.

Here is another abandoned trestle. And what may have been the nicest graded curve of the whole 65 miles. I felt as if the curve was begging me to power slide around it. To bad I'm not that good, otherwise I would have.

Getting close to McCarthy. You can kinda see part of the glacier near the tops of the tress. And if you look close you can see a rainbow just under the low hanging clouds.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Past Thompson Pass headed North towards McCarthy I found a old section of the Highway. It was getting kind of overgrown and there were more piles of moose poop than I had expected to see. But after I thought about it, if I were a moose I'd walk down this old road too. I mean there are no trees or rocks to get in the way, it'd be pretty easy going.

Anyway, I followed it for a while until I hit a spot where a river had washed it out. Dead end or not it was a pretty neat detour.

The road isn't in too bad a shape if you ask me.

This is the beginning of the McCarthy Road. There is a short section of paved road after the cut and from there on out its 60+ miles of gravel road laid over an old railroad bed.

This bridge is the end of the pavement, and is also serves as an important marker. From what I understand North of this bridge is where Native Alaskans can use fish wheels to catch salmon running up stream. If you've never heard of a fish wheel you should do a search and check it out. They are very spectacular, and if my opinion one of the coolest contraptions ever.

Tomorrow I'll post up more pictures of the highway and we'll get to McCarthy and the Kennicott mine.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Valdez/McCarthy (Part 5)

So the lesson I learned going to Valdez is that you shouldn't go on the last weekend of the fishing derby and expect to find a campsite in town. Back home in Michigan I'd be comfortable camping outside of a campground. But this being my first year up here I figured I'd stick to the campsite more camped at.

When I rolled into town it was getting dark and I made a B-line to the first campground I saw. Turns out they were full but suggested I could check at the other one in town. When I got there they too were booked but I think the lady behind the counter took a little pity on me and allowed me to set up on a piece of grass that wasn't really a site. And to top it off she let me use the campgrounds spare tent. It was a self standing Eureka dome tent that was already set up behind the conex. It was really nice to use their tent because I wouldn't have to pack up a wet tent in the morning. She even shared some pizza that they had left over from dinner with me.

The next morning I took a little look around town and saw this display.

This is a pig used to clean out the Alaskan Oil Pipeline. I unfortunately didn't get any pictures of the pipeline terminal, but I need an excuse to go back anyway.

On my way out I took a left to check out the local glacier.

This would have been the best place for me to camp. It was a large open space, not too far from town, and quiet. The other thing about camping in town during the derby is that you get to hear all the fish stories ALL NIGHT LONG!!!

This young rider and her mom came over to say hi while I was looking at the glacier. I thought it would be cute to get a picture of her on the KLR. Turns out I was right. It looks to me like she's giving the "I'm #1" hand sign.

Enough of Valdez, my goal for the day was McCarthy and the Kennicott Mine.

A view of the road on the way out of town. For some reason I can't take a picture that isn't blurry down in that canyon. That is Bridal Falls in the background there.

On my way through Thompson Pass I found this primitive campground that I missed in the fog the day before. The weather was a little better this time, but not that much better.

The view from Thompson Pass. I've seen pictures, and on a clear day the pass is amazingly beautiful. Guess this is another reason to make the trip again.