Monday, July 26, 2010

Deadhorse to Fairbanks

Yeah, that's right, we went all the way from Deadhorse to Fairbanks in one day. That wasn't the original plan. We'd planned to stay in Wiseman again but we'd gotten an early start. Part of the reason we'd started early is because I miss-read my watch and we got up at like 5:30. I watched a bit of the Wimbledon final and then we got started. We were in Coldfoot by about 1:30 so we decided to just go all the way to Fairbanks. This gave us an extra day on the trip to play with. There was already one extra day built into the itinerary so now we had two extra days.
This is one of my favorite pictures. It was right outside of Deadhorse. It was a small body of water and it's hard to tell where the water ends and the sky begins.

Here I am on the pipeline. There are many signs that say not to climb on the pipeline. I decided it was worth the risk...not too many cops along the Dalton!!

This was Atigun Pass. Mike wanted a picture of how the guardrail has taken a few hits over the years.

Trust me, that brown blob is a grizzly bear. Well, it was definitely a bear of brown color. I'm going with Grizzly!

Here's my sweetie...after we'd conquered the Dalton.

The ride to Fairbanks was pretty long. We got in about 7:30-8pm. It rained a bit on the way back. We stopped to get some lunch/dinner at the Hot Spot (at the Yukon Bridge). It was yummy. We met a nice guy from London that was riding his bicycle. That's right, I said a bicycle. He'd been to Deadhorse and was on his way back to Fairbanks. Could not imagine!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wiseman to Deadhorse

After a good breakfast, we were off to the end of the Dalton Highway. The day started off good. The weather was nice and the road was still good.

This is just a picture from the road. You can kind of see the pipeline on the right of the picture.
This is a view as we went over Atigun Pass. This Pass is always made out to be very dramatic for the Ice Road Truckers. I'm sure it is tough when the road is covered in snow and you're driving an 18-wheeler, but it really wasn't too tough. It may not have been tough but it was really pretty. In fact, the scenery along the entire road was very pretty.

You can see the pipeline a bit better in this picture. It's on your left here. It would switch from one side of the road to the other. Sometimes you'd go over the pipeline on a bridge. Other times, the pipeline would go underground and pop up on the other side of the road.

We didn't see too much for awhile. After we got over Atigun Pass, it got really foggy. You really couldn't see much of anything. I bet there was a herd of muskox right along the side of the road and we missed them!!

It did clear up eventually. We stopped for a lunch along the side of the road. Contrary to what you may have expected, the farther north you went, the worse the mosquitoes got. As soon as we'd get off the bike and take our helmets off, the mosquitoes would converge. We didn't get bit because we'd brought OFF with 98% deet. This is a picture to try and give you an idea as to just how many there were (look closely). During our lunch break I had the pleasure of using a shrub as a restroom. Luckily I'd had the forethought to bring some TP just for this stretch of the road. There was one outhouse close to Coldfoot but I didn't have to go then!! So, I can just imagine the mosquitoes on my tush as I went to the john!!

As we got closer to Deadhorse, the road became pretty slippery and tough to drive on. Road crews were putting down fresh...stuff, don't know for sure what you'd call it. We got right behind the machine that was putting it out and it hadn't been scrapped across the entire road yet.

This is the work crew. We did at one point get stuck on the right side of the pile. That stretch wasn't too much fun.
This is a pretty sad picture of Prudhoe Bay.

We did finally make it to Deadhorse. This is Mike getting gas. I like the gas pictures because you can see the quite unique gas pump.

Just to prove it, this is the bike in front of the famous sign at the Deadhorse General Store.

This was our room at Deadhorse. The hotels are expensive because you have very limited options. This little slice of heaven cost $190/night!! These were originally housing for the pipeline workers. It appeared that the oilfield workers stayed here as well. Not only was the decor excellent, the smell was to die for. The whole place pretty much smelt like pee. Oh well, what are you gonna do? We did have a bathroom in the room and surprise, surprise...a TV!

The only option for dinner was the buffet offered by the hotel. This too was expensive. It was $20/person. That night was Mexican night. It wasn't too good. The cafeteria did have a very large TV and it was showing the NASCAR race at Daytona!! That was kind of humorous. All the way at the top of Alaska and we're watching NASCAR!

This was a fun day and was just exciting being there. We didn't actually see the Arctic Ocean. I know, I know, we went all that way and didn't even see the ocean. If you want to see the ocean you have to take a tour of the oilfield. We didn't plan on doing this but inquired about it once we got there. You have to allow 24 hours in order to clear security. Apparently many a tourist has tried to sabotage the oilfield?? We decided to pass.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fairbanks to Wiseman

This was the day that the trip really began. This was the reason we were on this trip. Mike wanted to ride the Dalton Highway. A road made famous, or semi-famous, by the show Ice Road Truckers. I think the road was always famous among so called adventure riders.

The road starts not far north of Fairbanks. The road is about 500 miles of mainly dirt. It's final destination is Prudhoe Bay or Deadhorse (much cooler name). There is only gas three places along the route with the final gas stop before Deadhorse being Coldfoot, which is 24o miles from Deadhorse. This distance is no problem for a car but it would be close on the bike.

We didn't really know what to expect and were hoping for the best. We planned to ride to the halfway point of Wiseman. I've got lots of pictures...

This is Mike getting gas after lunch at the Yukon Bridge. You can see how dirty the bike already is. It rained that morning.

The road ran parallel to the Alaskan Pipeline. You can't see it in this picture but I'll have pictures later. I thought seeing the pipeline was pretty cool. The road was better than we expected and at some points Mike was able to go as fast as 70mph. There wasn't too much traffic (as you can imagine) but it did have more traffic than I imagined it would.

Here we are crossing the Arctic Circle. Alaska had people stationed there to take your picture.

This was the bike after our first day on the Dalton!!

We stayed in Wiseman. The hotels are pretty expensive and are kind of dumpy in Coldfoot and Deadhorse. Mike had heard that we should stay in Wiseman, which is 18 miles north of Coldfoot. We had to mail a deposit to Igloo #8, so I wasn't sure what we would find when we got there. As you can see from the above picture, we were not disappointed and definitely came out better than staying in Coldfoot.

This was one of the highlights of the trip. Wiseman is a very unique community. I'm not sure how many people live here but I'm guessing about 15. There are a few houses. The family operates a bed and breakfast. Their home is on site and the guests stay in one of two guesthouses. One house has two rooms and a shared bathroom. The other (ours) is a cabin unto itself with it's own bathroom. It was very nice.

The family was very unique and friendly. The mother was from Munich, Germany and met her husband (from Wiseman) while he was on vacation in Germany. They have two children I'd guess to be 12 and 10. The family used solar panels and generators for power. The kids are obviously home schooled as the nearest school is over 250 miles south in Fairbanks. They had 4 huskies that they tie to themselves while cross county skiing. I couldn't imagine living this life but they truly seem to love it!!

This is a moose leg. Each dog had a leg to gnawl on. They said that they try to kill about two moose each year. They of course eat the meat.

This was just a short walk from the house in Wiseman. It was beautiful.

They were having 24 hours of daylight while we were there. You'll have to take my word for it but this picture was taken at midnight. It was pretty weird. You'd just pull the curtains and try to sleep.

This picture isn't clear but I love it. One of the dogs was very jumpy around people. We eventually became friends. She even rolled over and let me rub her belly. She was a sweetie!!

I was very leery of this part of the trip but was pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Anchorage to Fairbanks

Mike and I just returned from this year's vacation. Mike talked me into riding a motorcycle up the Dalton Highway in Alaska. The rest of the time we explored Canada. We went to the Yukon Territory, British Columbia, and Alberta. We ended in Seattle. Mike tells me that in 14 days we drove about 4,700 miles.

The trip was very nice and we luckily had good weather (mostly). These pictures are in reverse order of what I intented. I'll have to fix that problem on the next post.

We got into the hotel in Anchorage at like 5:30am East Coast time or 1:30am Alaska time. Got up after a descents night sleep and went to pick up the used rental bike we purchased. The shop recommended that we take a slight detour on our way to Fairbanks. They suggested the Hatcher Pass. This was a dirt road and it was beautiful. It was a very good recommendation and got the trip off to a good start.

Mike tried to ruin that good start by losing our tank bag after a gas stop. Upon realizing the bag was missing we retraced our steps and couldn't find the bag. We went back into the gas station and no one had turned it in. There was another gas station just a short distance up the road so we stopped there too. By some miracle, they had our bag!!!! Someone saw it drop off the bike and thought we'd come from that gas station. They took the time to stop and turn the our bag into the store. What a super nice thing to do!!
I think this is on the way to Fairbanks.

Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass

And we're off...this was the cleanest the bike would ever be!!

Mountain peaks as seen from the plane.