Arctic Ocean Round Trip, day uh

Dalton Hwy, check.

scumbucket hoooooo!!!!!!!
scumbuckets wear sunscreen

even the engine is scummy

Arctic Ocean Round Trip, day 4 and-whatever

scumbuckets are continuing south.  still light out when we reach our previous nights, or was it days campground.  No need to think of what time it is, its light out, we're not wearing sunglasses, we gotta half pack of smokes, full tanks of gas.  Hit it!!!

Near Galbraith Campground
scumbucket shadow
what looks like a smudge is just a big mosquito
when they made the roads up here, alot of the supplies were flow in with helicopters.  due to the distances and weights, they needed to be re-fueled after dropping supplies.  A few got filled up about half way, before the construction crew realized that it wasn't a helicopter, just a big mosquito.

looking forward to Atigun Pass again
Every mile further south, the flora became taller.  No trees, but taller grasses.  We made the mistake of stopping, the mosquitoes tried to take me away.  Good thing I had 15 extra pounds of "food" in my stomach from the Arctic Caribou Inn, they couldn't get me airborne.  We couldn't even keep our visors open they were so bad.

The pass was shrowded in death clouds again.  As we approached, they cleared to let us through.
well used guard rail on Atigun Pass
But once we had stopped, the death clouds sensed another couple of victims, so they closed back in upon us in two seconds flat.

We sped out of the grasp of the death clouds and continued south.  There started to be trees!  That furthest north spruce tree again.  Every mile we could feel the weather getting warmer, the trees getting taller, the animals getting bigger.  many Moose, um Meece? Mooses? Meeses? Mice?  they are early risers, we see.  Is certainly morning, we begin t see cars.  Dang, we need to be in Seward, AK in 36 hours.

I'm trying to figure out how we are going to make it there.  I was told there would be no math on this trip, but it seems prudent to attempt some algebra now.  So if two motorcycles with scumbuckets are heading south at 50 mph, and they have 750 miles to go, can they make it in 36 hours?  I think to myself we need to just ride though the night... wait we already did that!  We need to ride through the day!  man, our schedules are messed up, that's when we should be sleeping.

We stop to eat breakfast and discuss if riding through the day is a good idea.

One bite into our typical beans, rice, cheese & hot sauce burrito, we realize something isn't right.  Could just be the long night, uh, day?... whatever.  A sip of coffee could help maybe.

BLEH!  nope, same taste.  what the hell?

We figure we need to ride the entire way without stopping to make it to Seward on time.  We think more of that awful taste.  Then we realize that Harper's awesome old-school stove was stored on top of the food and has leaked gasoline into everything.  the burritos, coffee, cheese, even the raisins taste like gasoline.  We are so hungry though, we force it down.  Uh.  Don't pack stove fuel and food in same saddlebag.  Uh.

Arctic Ocean Round Trip, day 4

I guess go south now. lame-a-tron.

brooks mountain range

scummy shadows

It was cold riding south too.

Arctic Ocean Round Trip, day 3 1/2

Deadhorse was neat, but uneventful.  It is a 100% work-gets-done-here-now kind of place.  The people are there for one reason - to extract oil from the ground.  That is, unless they are crazy scumbucket motorcyclists.

Anyways, we got there in the late afternoon, filled up the tanks wit expensive gasoline, and wondered "huh.  what now?"  food?  No bars up here to celebrate with, all alcohol is banned.  We were trying to figure out where to get food... all there is around there is raised gravel roads (the tundra itself can't be driven on with normal vehicles), work shops, drilling rigs, neat crazy tired tundra rigs, barracks to house the workers and that is about it.  No real maps are available, and everything is pretty well closed up tight, its not like a guy can walk up to these shops.  They need to keep out -60F weather with 60 mph winds in the winter!!!!

We were trying to figure it out, when a dude in a pickup pulled up and started a conversation.  Turns out he is a bush pilot who hauls scientists out to study whatever they study.  He gave us directions to a steak feed taking place tonight - $50 a head, but the best meal in town.  We opted for door #2, the Arctic Caribou Inn buffet.  But scaled back to salad and dessert only... $12.  It was the best tasting crappiest food I've ever had.

white-greenish thick paper to put sugary red salad dressing on followed by spongy yellow cake-like cushion (I think I'm going to use this as my next motorcycle seat) covered in bright red colored strawberryish gooey sauce topped by miracle whip?  no musta been cool whip... who knows.  I ate at least 3 servings of each.  Plus the first milk I've had for a long time.

Way. Too. Much. Food.

Rolling out of the place, I thought I was going to hurl.  Need to walk it off.

oil rig

arctic ocean redwood tree infront of oil rig

Everything up on the tundra is smaller, for instance the rare arctic ocean redwood tree as seen above.  The ducks in the water could fit inside the palm of your hand.

It was about time to start thinking about heading south.  weird.

Arctic Ocean Round Trip, day 3

Waking up in difficult and terrible, but exiting the tent this afternoon to a warm, slightly breezy day which keeps the mosquitoes at bay was a welcome start to the day.  Just like this terrible coffee...
Where's the starbucks?
Well deserved breakfast
more north = smaller flora and fauna
more north = awesomer trucks

The road has went from hard packed to gravel mush.  The huge awesome trucks roar by at high speeds kicking up the 3/4- gravel rock and making huge ruts.  It is our goal to stay in the hardpacked ruts, but when the trucks come by we pull over to yield the way.  It is best to maintain a steady throttle and speed, not to upset the bike chassis on this road.  But the trucks will always win, so we heed way.

Transitioning from the safety of hardpack ruts to towards the non-existent shoulder, which is a 4 foot drop to the soft wet tundra, involves riding through gravel mush.  Slowing down, or entering the mush, or speeding up makes the bike become unsettled, swapping from left to right.  Its like knowing you are going to trip - you see the obstacle, attempt to miss it but don't, know its happening and then wait for the pain... and wait...  It feels as though the ride through the gravel mush is one long 100 mile crash waiting to happen.  Good thing the nearest hospital is 500 miles away.

The Franklin Bluffs are the only sort of topography on the Arctic Tundra.  A better image of them is here.  Being on a machine for days over crazy terrain, its nice to have flat nothing broken up by the awesome mineral colors of them.  it distracts us from the slow crash we know as riding the Dalton Highway.

Uneventful and unassuming, we all the sudden see "civilization" if you can call it that - of Deadhorse, AK.

Now we made it to Prudhoe Bay, the Arctic Ocean.  What are we going to do now???

Gratuitous oil rig picture at 10 pm

We got to see these awesome tundra crawlers...

such a cool place!!!!!!!!!!

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Google is amazing.  There is street view of Deadhorse, AK.  why did we even drive there, we coulda had such a warmer time with a beer in our hands infront of a computer.

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Arctic Ocean Round Trip, day 2 1/2

Atigun Pass = Death Pass.  

Its like riding up into hell at 3 am.  The approach through the valley is pleasant in the sun, but looking ahead darkness and cold are present.  Passing the furthest northern spruce tree, one notices how difficult life is this far north, its only a few feet tall.  The pipeline is dwarfed by the surrounding mountains, and appears to be a toothpick between the car seats.

The road up Antigun pass appears.  Satan's been through here, clawing and gouging the sides as he scrapped his way up.  The sunlight disappears in the land of 24 hour sun, it being covered by low level black clouds.  Swooping down they bring rain and cold.  Blowing wind makes the scorched rocks tumble down the grade.  The hard, cold, black earth appears to be on fire, smoldering black with mist and clouds.

We didn't die on the pass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

looking back towards the pass
looking ahead towards the north
rolling into Galbraith campground and airstrip @ 4:30 am we celebrate by having some whiskey while dodging kamikazie mosquito bombers setting up the tent.  exhausted.

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Arctic Ocean Round Trip, day 2

We should have known it would be a bad omen to wake up in a bed… we couldn’t imagine what the rest of the day would hold for us!  Upon reaching the U of A – Fairbanks parking lot, Harper had lost his key and my bike had leaked out some horsepower in the form of motor oil.  So we did what any good scumbucket would do, cook a big ‘ol pancake breakfast on a picnic table @ campus.

Luckily, some of the other bikers found the key, and placed it on Harper’s bike.  Lost key, check.

First stop, auto parts store to get an education on Alaskan politics and a new drain bolt crush washer.  Parking lot repair, check.  notice the oil drops on the ground, my bike had only been there for a few minutes.

 Second stop, glorious photo op, check.

Third stop, Harper runs out of gas.  Luckily we prepare and bring extra, as we know this is going to happen.  We notice a radio tower.  Figure we might as well climb it.  Amazing sky in this country, if you don’t like how the sky looks, turn around and it’ll be different.  

This is 180 degrees from the previous picture.  Sunny, with big clouds everywhere, even on the ground?  Well, that’s where those firejumpers must be now...

Lunch at the Yukon River Bridge.  We met some fighter pilots from Italy, who were, um, cough, there, training.  Flew fighter planes from Italy to AK, how awesome is that?  And we thought we were in for an adventure!  Notice the old-school awesome stove that runs on gasoline...

This was our first opportunity to get up close and personal with the engineering marvel, business cash cow, and some would say environmental hazard known as the pipeline which has constantly been alongside us.  Notice how un-impressed Harper is.

It is huge, and they are thinking of putting another one right next to it.  We love oil.  I know it makes my daily life easier. 

Scumbuckets @ Arctic Circle

Once we crossed the Arctic Circle, it would be 24 hour sunlight.  The wildflowers were busting with color, due to the short growing season up here, they all bloom close together time-wise.  It is amazing and you should probably check it out.

Coldfoot, AK.  Last truckstop before the oil fields, it was midnight-ish.  The big rigs around here are no joke.   Need coffee to push through Atigun Pass to our campground, its getting pretty cold, maybe 35F.

Coldfoot, AK

Do you take your coffee like an Alaskan?  sugar, non-dairy creamer, and mosquitoes to make it tolerable....

tiedown hell

Arctic Ocean Round Trip, day 1

We wanted to get to the North Slope oil fields, located on the Arctic Ocean.  From Anchorage it is about 2,000 miles round trip.  Half of which is on the Dalton Highway, or North Slope Haul Road, made famous mostly by its awesomeness, but also in popular culture by the ice road truckers.  Since we had a fishing trip to planned for the evening of June 29th in Seward, AK, we had four days to do the round trip.

The only people who normally make this trip are paid to do so.  Paid alot.  We met one trucker who gets $1,200 to haul a single axle truck with propane up.  So a 18 wheeler?  one can only guess...  Of course, the scumbuckets are doing it for free, but we got nearly free tires so its cool.

We left Brad & Emily's in Anchorage after sufficient pizza nutrition and beer hydration.  We drove past Denali again, this time in the sun!  The sky got big as we passed The High One, and large friendly stratus clouds escorted us northward...

Top Gun crazy eyes already?
After we passed Denali, the ominous storm clouds scared away the friendly stratus clouds as we started towards the alley of rain.  The air began to reek of rain and wind, not allowing us time to take shelter.  Before we knew it, we were wet, the temperature plunged and one motorcycle started acting funny.  hmmmm, maybe this isn't a good idea?  nawww, it'll go away.  Onward, scumbuckets!!!!

Mt McKinley, maybe?

We approached Fairbanks the storm clouds left, and the sun began to set.  At 12:47 AM.  June 26th 2010.  Every sunset seems better than the previous.  I can't say anything about the sunrise, because we were usually sleeping by the 3 AM sunrise.  every day, riding a little longer into the morning and sleeping a little later into the afternoon.  Nearly 24 hour sunlight has made schedules obsolete.

We spent the night (or morning, actually) in the University of Alaska - Fairbanks dorm rooms... easy to find, cheap, clean, showers, on a beautiful campus.

first day of North Slope route
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