We rode into Anchorage in the late afternoon, as the sun was still high in the sky.  Summertime in Alaska is amazing.  On the first freeway in over a month, coming into Anchorage, traffic was at a standstill.  A moose was hanging out in the road.  As we were to find out, this is a normal occurance here.

Harper had a friend of a friend's address, we had shipped some stuff to their address.  First order of business was to swing by, say hi, maybe have a beer or two and go on our way.  We showed up @ Brad and Emily's place, to find them on their way to get take-out pizza and beer from the Moose's Tooth.  They had planned to throw a real nice dinner for us, and get us drunk so we couldn't leave for a week!

Nicest, most awesome, super coolest people ever.

There is something neat about hanging out in the backyard, having beers with good people, at midnight, and it still be sunny out.

Did I mention that Brad and Emily rock?

We enjoyed their company, a Bruce Lee film, the longest tennis match ever, some great food, stories about AK and otherwise over lots of MGD.  They both grew up in Wisconsin, and have a soft spot for Milwaukee beer.  can't say I blame 'em, its good stuff.

We ended up changing out tires in the front yard to get ready for our trip up the Dalton Highway, to the most northern point of the USA accessable by road.

super-knobbies for $8 total
We never did get any pictures with Brad & Emily, I suppose when you are having a chill time with cool people, you don't really think about it at the time.  Looking back, I wish I had taken some.  You'll just have to trust me that they are rad.

Recovery Day

After 36 hours of sleep recovering from the firejumpers, some physical activity was required to make sure all our  extremities still worked.  So we did what any person in Alaska would do and hiked to the top of a a mountain.  Nothing big just a mountain...

from the top, we could see the village where the previous shenanigans took place

all the above photos from Harper.
the delay in my posting was caused by virus infestation on my computer.  re-install one operating system, and its all good.  whew!


The Firejumpers post. Alternatively: Don't party with people who jump out of planes onto the burning earth for a job post.

Due to the crazy terrain, lack of pavement, pull-outs, and wildlife in Denali, the Park Service does not allow private vehicles along the one road into the park.  All tours must be by bus or on foot.  this was a good thing for me because I was having trouble walking the morning of my tour, and certainly was in no position to drive.

We met some firejumpers in the parking lot since we had to walk into camp.  They had been on the job in the brush for the past few months.  Due to heavy rains they had the weekend off and came to see Denali and take part in the bluegrass festival.  They were real dudes, super cool and hooked us up with some beer jerky.

We set up camp and decide to grab the shuttle bus to the nearby pizza joint to eat, have a chill night and wake up early to go on our pre-purchased tour.  Along the way we saw the firejumpers again, apparently the bluegrass festival was a bust.  Now its a group of dudes headed to the Bar-grill chugging beers, with pocket reserves.

The shuttle driver wouldn't let us take beers on the bus, something about responsibility? So we did the responsible thing and chugged a few each.  Ordered food, round after round came through.  Next thing we know, the firejumper is taking off his shirt and dancing.  Then trying a shirt nailed to the wall on for size!  Each and every girl comes through our table.  morebeers, more shots and we are sitting in the middle of a wedding party.  after seeeing the brides (there were 3 right?) we decide its time to go, the firejumpers are still the life of the party... waiting outside in the rain for the shuttle bus, not sure which way is up. all the sudden someone steals the shuttle van!  people are running and yelling outta the bar.  The wedding party can't wait to get back.  Can't blame 'em, I guess.  somehow we make it back, not quite sure how.

Sometime the next morning I make it to the Denali Park tour bus, as seen in pictures here.  Thankfully I could seperate myself from the families during this time.  I get back @ 9 pm to find Harper still sleeping in the tent, and this on my motorcycle, courtesy of the firejumpers....

A big, hearty Thanks, firejumpers.  You guys rock, all the important things to make our life, a HighLife.  Also, Thanks, US taxpayer, for supplying us with the above necessities via firejumpers.

finally, a note to self and suggestion to you, don't party with people who jump out of planes onto the burning earth for a job.

Denali National Park

If you haven't been here, go.  At the soonest time possible, I think they have some flights available tonight.

because these pictures don't do it justice.  In fact, if you haven't been there, why are you looking at them?  You should be on your way to the airport.

Denali is just behind those clouds underneath the blue hole. supposedly, according to Ranger Rick

Upon entering the tour bus only section of the park, we see Dall Sheep waaaay up in the mountains

and carnivore central

the days solo, hungover bus ride

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update: entire trip map located here

Last Smelly Meal

We'd been subsisting mainly on beans and rice, but in a moment of cold-induced weakness bought some overpriced bacon and eggs aka comfort food.  Before Entering Denali Nat'l Park, we though it would be wise to eat all the smelly, powerful scenty, bear-attracty food.

It was sunny and we made it to Denali Nat'l Park with no bacon and a six pack.  nuff said.

the day's route about 80 miles.

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Breaking News... Dirtbag Challenge

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program for this breaking news...a dirtbag challenge broke out today in San Francisco.  Being a true scumbucket, I was drawn to the bike-building beer-swilling brunout-making tire-burning wheelin'-in-circles punk-rock-singin' custom-trophy-winnin' event.  The only regret is that a scumbucket didn't win the dirtbag.

custom made winners trophys

4-way stop
more spoils

The Best and Worst Day on Denali Highway

We woke with Denali covered by the looming rainstorms.  We quickly packed up camp and started heading towards the Denali Highway.  No breakfast today, the rain immediately commenced and the temperature plummeted.  We rode alongside the pipeline for the first time, and stopped along the way to admire it and wring our drenched socks.  Afterwards we lined our boots with plastic bags.

Arriving in Paxson, AK we were freezing cold, hungry, and out of gas.  The only store in town has a monopoly on everything... although I wouldn't suggest, ordering anything there (in fact I recommend going hungry) or purchasing the most expensive gas we saw on the trip... we did.  Learn from our mistake.

Luckily the Denali Highway's views and great riding quickly erased any memories of Paxson from our minds.

Do stop @ milepost 42 for the Maclaren River Lodge, Mmmmmm Hmmmmmmm.  In fact, go out of your way to stop by there, friendly service and the
best fresh made bread ever.
best warm soup ever.
best hot coffee ever.
basically the best ever.

Mmmmmmm Hmmmmmmm!

@ EOB June 19th

The neatest thing about this day was after we got settled in camp a kid on a bicycle waved at us as he rode by.  The rest of the evening, he rode his bicycle around camp making motor noises, ala "On Any Sunday" introduction.

The day's route: 190 miles


We made it across the border and into Alaska at the most northern border crossing of the USA.  It was a  beautiful sunny day as we rode along a pleasant stream, hoping to get to the town of Chicken, AK where we could find some water.  Along the way we decided enough is enough; we had no water, 4 days without shower, no breakfast... .

It was time to stop and drink, eat and swim in the stream.  Turns out it was a very cold mountain stream (was that an ice chunk that just drifted by?), which had lots of particulate to clog the water filter.  Bellies full, we made the decision to ride towards Denali National Park.  It got late, so we ended up camping somewhere along the side of the road, it had an alright view...  no water or room service though.

Mount McKinley, about 200 miles away as the crow flies

 the days route:

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Wake up in Canada Again

when we open the tent in the morning to this

and step outside to this

its hard to leave the Top Of The World

The Top of the Top of the World

With our stomachs full, we hiked to the Top of the Top of the World highway, and were the best of the best of the best.

and practiced bear protection

Finally Alaska?

Time to get a move on, the AK border crossing closes promptly @ 9pm.  Its 7:30pm, and 60 miles to Alaska.  We gotta full tank a-gas, half pack a-smokes, its never getting dark out and we’re wearing helmets.  HIT IT!

But then we get sidelined by the views.

Which means 5 minutes late at the border, therefore… No Entry.  We gotta sleep in Canada again. dang, it woulda been nice to make it, especially because the only campground was 60 miles back, near the Yukon River.  Since the scumbucket motto is never go back, we find a wide spot alongside the road.

Also, time crunch that we were on to pass that hitchhiker and make the border, we forgot to fill the water bottles up.  We only have about a half-liter of water between the two of us for the night.  On the Top-of-the-World Hwy, there is no water because the whole road is on a ridge.  All our food is the dehydrated variety, except the few packets of Indian food that Mama Z set with!!!  Curry, whiskey and a side of mosquitoes it is.

the evening's route: 106 km

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You know you’re taking your time when…

After a night of changing tires, and a rainy morning of pushing my flooded bike around without spark-plugs to clear the cylinder out (I need to remember to shut the fuel valve OFF when I stop), we got rolling towards Dawson City.  We need to jettison some excess tire weight.

We don’t see any other vehicles for about 60 miles, this is remote country.  As we ride into Dawson City we pass miles and miles of huge fan like-morraine-looking things along the side of the road, they are the dredgings from the gold mining.  They now build houses on top of them!

At the last fuel stop before we enter Alaska, we see that same hitchhiker and his dog again.  You know you’re taking your time when you get passed by a hitchhiker.  We quickly grab a cup-a-joe and jump on the last ferry across the great Yukon.

 the days route 352 km

The Alcan

We hobbled through the end of the Cassair Hwy  and entered Yukon Territories from rainy British Columbia, after what seemed like a month in BC.  It was actually seven rainy days now that I look back.  Huh, time flies when you’re having fun… fixing blown out tires, gingerly riding through packs of bears, rain that only lets up for snowstorms, enduring cheap Canadian whiskey and nursing worn out tires the entire way.

It was here that met the famous Alaska Hwy.  Compared to the Cassiar it was a two lane freeway, what with its smooth pavement, wide shoulders, rest stops and traffic.  We talked to a guy on a bicycle who had ridden from Montreal.  He was planning to go to Prudhoe Bay and then south to Tierra Del Fuego on that bicycle.  It made our trip seem like a breeze, even on waning tires that were down to threads with 1,100 km to go to Anchorage.

On the first sunny, hot day we experienced so far on this trip, we hobbled into Whitehorse, YT, only to find no over-priced tires in Harper’s size.  Tires in Canada are ridiculously expensive.  Not even any realistically priced tires.  After speaking with the parts guy, we convinced him to let us see the pile of used tires out back.  We found a used rear tire for Harper, plus two complete sets of perfectly good super-knobbies for the Haul Road!!!!  Threw the parts guy $2 for each tire, YES!!!

We packed up and headed up the Klondike towards Dawson City and it got remote again.  At a fueling station we saw our first hitchhiker, whom had a dog with him and thought the rides must be few and far between on this road.  At camp, Harper started the magical change-out, aided by the ever-handy firewood/bike stand multi-tool.


The Canadian whiskey burned, especially more with each swallow down our throats.  After enduring enough of that, we decided it must combust pretty good in the fire too.   It takes some terrible whiskey to have a couple scumbuckets shooting fireballs from their mouths.

As we progressed northward the days got longer.  At the end of the day, the lower angle of the summer sun resulted in longer sunsets, thus more time for sun-downers... as the sun goes down, so does the beverages.  I don’t remember seeing a sunrise, because it followed that the morning-risers occurred later each day.  Slowly the scumbucket daily routine was shifting about a half hour later each day. 

Especially when there is no need to wake up early when the first thing you see is a gallows pole-like bear food hanger in a creepy campsite.  I’ve always been curious as to what happens when a bear figures out the food is up there, after attempting to climb up, or bat at the bag unsuccessfully, what if there is a determined bear who will sit underneath the food bag until if falls?  Imagine the surprise a camper would experience when they attempt to retrieve their food in the morning…

The morning routine involved the requisite coffee and oatmeal with raisins breakfast, thankfully we aren’t growing tired of it.  Followed by a stop at the first (and only) filling station in the nearest village to top off the gas, fill the oil, and check the tires.  Harper was hoping to make it to Anchorage on his tires, where he had a brand-new set waiting for him.  Unbenounced to us, chip seal pavement makes motorcycle tires wear-down at a rate quicker than teenage girl fashions go out of style.  

June 13, 2010 - truckers & snow

Harper and I continued north on the Cassiar Highway through Northern British Columbia.  After the turn-off to Hyder, it gets even more remote and desolate.  This is not a place that one would want to have a break down or accident.  We had just begun to grasp the secluded isolation we were entering in, as we turned the corner and saw this scene.

Apparently, falling asleep while driving on the Cassiar can be a problem, who knew?  A passerby told us it just happened a day ago, and the driver was alright.  The scene left us with something to think about regarding "drowsy driving" and we continued north, at a very sane pace.  The overcast sky, somber scene, and desolate roadway results led to reflection and contemplation, mile after mile... or kilometer after kilometer, since this is Canada, eh?

The road turned to gravel as it led down a valley into the river bank.  The enduros were handling well on the first stretch of gravel, so we started thinking less and riding more  Especially once we rose out of the valley and saw a storm front trying to head us off at the pass.  We kicked up the pace again in order to outrun the rain only to find... SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June snow storm

We waited for it to pass.  Worth it.