Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

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ClarkA
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Wed May 28, 2014 10:37 pm

:| Fatigue and hunger were foremost in our minds as we rolled into the morning rush hour of Fairbanks en route to "the northernmost Denny's" to slake or needs. We consumed the standard bill of fare and sought the refuge of our beds after enduring the "UDF" by answering the questions of a group of Soldiers from Fort Wainwright. following a good days nap we awakened to the need to answer a pressing question, what's for dinner? Having been to Fairbanks in the past I knew of a good barbecue joint down by the river , called Big Daddy's. We arrived at the dinner hour and after we tired of waiting we seated ourselves and hoped to be noticed by the waitstaff. When we were noticed we managed to order or meal which while delicious , it was a somewhat parsimonious serving from what I had received on prior visits. We returned to our lodging to plan our departure the next day for Haines , AK to make our absolute deadline of catching the Alaska Marine Highway ferry to Bellingham, WA in 3 days. Yes, I said ferry, long before leaving home we had decided that the 3 1/2 day ferry ride to Washington from Alaska would be a great way to rest and take a break from the saddle but still be moving towards home. I cannot overstate how enjoyable this option can be for the saddle worn rider looking for an effortless experience "while on the road". The ferry gives you a good selection of accommodations ranging from sleeping on the floor/deck or grabbing a sofa, there is an open deck where you can set up a tent or stake out a chaise lounge and for the wussies there are staterooms of 2 or 4 berths some with private showers and toilets. For the adventurous types public toilets and showers are available along with washers and dryers to help you rid yourself of road funk( if so desired). The ferry has both cafeteria type dining and a for real sit down place with white table clothes too boot, yes there is a bar for those who feel the need. The rules say no alcohol outside of the bar or your stateroom, although a certain son was seen with a bottle or two or Red Stripe on the aft deck.
Now getting back in sequence ; we rolled out of the UAF housing heading for Haines at a leisurely pace planning a stop in Delta Junction for lunch with a friend.Riding down the Richardson Highway we entered the town of North Pole , which you can imagine what the local tacky tourist trap might be........Ding ding ding we have a winner, yes The Santa Claus House is the correct answer and you know what we did! The obligatory stop for pictures, postcards and interrogation by tourist and locals alike about the bike and our travels. The good thing is the post cards can be mailed right there and that ensures a North Pole , AK postmark on them so the little ones will be a little more believing in Christmas for a little longer.......
We remounted the rides after mailing the post cards and escaping the question crowd of German tourist and re-entered the Richardson Highway soon to pass the flight line of Eilson Air Force Base , home of the Arctic Aggressor Squadron whose F-16's can be seen from the road. The ride back to Delta Junction wasn't anywhere as fatiguing as our northbound ride a few days earlier and a lot more enjoyable. We rolled into Delta and caught up with my friend who operates a Yak farm on the outskirts of Delta and she promised us a gustatory treat of Yak burgers for lunch at her place! I did make a request that she allow a slight delay and detour to the Buffalo Drive in for one of their hand made Cherry milkshakes to bust some of the dust from my throat. Sated by the refreshingly tasty milk shake we followed he to her home a few miles south of Delta where we were greeted by a Yak calf being hand raised after being rejected by it's mother. The friendly critter took a liking to my son but not enough to ignore Mary when she produced a bottle of formula for him. After as visit to see "the old motorcycle my husband asked me to buy him" which turned out to be an original condition 1967 R-69S in a connex. We sat down to a tasty meal of Yak burgers, with Mary explaining the Yak were raised for their healthy lean meat along with their hair being much prized by weavers.The subject of our lunchtime attention WAS a particularly ornery bull that had inflicted serious injury on her husband, resulting in it's demise. Our hunger sated and old friendship renewed along with time passing we gave our thanks and struck out for Tok, AK as our next refueling point 100 miles to the south.
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SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:43 pm

Well I've been slacking in completing my ride report so I will get back to the task at hand. My son and I were tooling along the ALCAN southbound after a meal of Yak burgers with the goal of spending the night in Tok rather than flogging ourselves to get to Haines Junction, YT. We were traveling along taking note of the topography when I spied a rather large ungulate ambling towards our path , sounding the rather feeble horn of my bike failed to make an impact on the creature so I started to downshift and slow my speed to avoid becoming a news article in the local papers. Wildlife remains a major threat to one's health when riding through Alaska and western Canada. As we approached Tok we were compelled to stop at on of the hokiest places I've ever seen, Muktuk Land!!

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After a brief chuckle we resumed or ride to Tok. Anyone who has ridden the ALCAN knows that Tok is a wide spot in the road intended to support the tourist travel along the ALCAN. I understand the name evolved from a mascot of Soldiers building the ALCAN in WWII a mongrel dog called Tok. We rolled into town and partook of a good meal at Fast Eddies and retreated to our lodging for the night with the plan of taking a leisurely ride to Haines Junction the next day.
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We spent a quiet night in the Tok Motel a clean inexpensive 60's vintage motel complete with free Wi-Fi and TV, I highly recommend this motel having stayed there previously on business. The next day dawned too early for a 60 year old guy but I rallied to the call of the road that sunny but cool morning. We stopped for a quick meal at guess where and encountered a group of young men on "old school choppers" talking about riding the haul road to Prudhoe Bay along with some of my contemporaries trapped in a minivan with wives w@*ing nostalgic about riding to Prudhoe Bay 'some day". Without being too negative I mentioned to the young guns that those peanut tanks would seriously impact on a ride up the haul road not to mention the rigid frame of their choppers ! We wished them well and headed for Beaver Creek, YK after filling up to gas tanks on both bikes. The ride towards Canada was scenic and pretty uneventful and passed all too quickly. We sailed past the US Border onto the spine and kidney rattling road construction zone that welcomed us to the Yukon! Clearing Canadian customs was uneventful even with my shotgun in the boat my "transit permit" was examined and we were sent on our way.As I mention before Beaver Creek, YT is the last true population center for over 200 kilometers so we availed ourselves to the food and fuel there, to include buying a losing lottery ticket. Next to the gas station was an eatery we had read about for more than a few miles ,Buckshot Betty's and nice well appointed Mom & Pop place with friendly staff and good food. The greatest part of this stop was what these pictures show!
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Following a good meal we remounted our rides and resumed our leisurely ride south towards Haines Junction.

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The ride southbound was during daylight with clear blue skies reasonable temperatures across some pretty rough road surfaces at times, since we had plenty of daylight and no need to rush the ride was enjoyable and we actually stopped many times to just take in the scenery.

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We didn't encounter much traffic in either direction but we spent some time shooting the breeze with some BMW riders heading for Dawson in Destruction Bay while refueling and fighting mosquitoes! The ride's scenery improved as we approached Kluane Lake making the 66 mile ride to Haines Junction across smooth pavement even more enjoyable. We found ourselves approaching our nights destination sooner than expected which allowed us the time to leisurely find lodging for the night in Haines Junction. We procured a room at the Raven Motel very nice well apportioned lodging for the sum of $240. US for the night.
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SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby berger » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:04 am

Excellent trip, and something I hope to replicate someday....but on two wheels. :clap:

I know you may have read this many times before...and it is almost as bad as an oil thread, but 89oct in North America is just fine, especially when burning it up on the road. As you discovered while still in the US, the 91oct fuel is used far less by the masses and may be contaminated or just old. If octane is a real concern for you for future trips, carry a few small bottles of Octane boost.
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Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby RichardM » Mon Jul 07, 2014 10:06 pm

Too bad you passed on the best breakfast place around to go to Denny's!? The food at the Hilltop is great and the best pies in town. Another great place is the Hot Spot Cafe a few miles north of the Yukon River Bridge. Great burgers!

I'm enjoying your ride report...
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:18 pm

My bad, had we known we would have grabbed a meal at Hilltop.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:40 pm

So another day on the road began with us fighting mosquitoes as we loaded the bikes in preparation for the days ride to Haines to catch the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry to the unenlightened) for the 3+ day trip to Bellingham, WA. We scouted around and found an excellent place that served good coffee and wonderful fresh baked goods and keeping with my pledge to name names, Village Bakery & Deli is well worth the stop. We revisited the local BP for a fill up with 92 octane then pointed ourselves south! One thing that I am so happy with was the 24 hour self service gas station we encountered all along the ride. If you have a major credit card or the appropriate gasoline card you are golden 24/7.
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The ride south was excellent in terms of weather, road condition, and again the scenery. There were many sections of gentle curves and gradual hills that were perfect for Ural speed travel and plenty of turnouts and overlooks along the 150 mile ride. There isn't a lot more to say about the ride except the US Border Agents spoke to us in a pretty unfriendly tone for reasons I've yet to understand.

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SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:40 am

Well, we made it to Haines and being me, I had no idea where the ferry dock was located, what time it was departing! As we rode through the narrow busy streets of Haines I spied a blue and white ferry sign and followed the arrow. The ride along the bay was itself a nice ride at a reasonable speed encouraged by tailgating locals not enamored by tourist on the road. As we rounded a curve there sat a very large blue and yellow ferry, docked next to a very large parking lot with many types of vehicles including motorcycles queued up for loading. I immediately rolled into line with the motorcycles and headed for the ticket window ignoring the multiple UDF attempts to delay me. As I stood in line nervous and a guy without change outside a pay toilet, eventually I was called to the window and announced my name and destination, to learn that we were 6 hours too early! With the self inflicted burden lifted from my shoulders , I returned to the bikes and informed my son we had plenty of time to explore Haines and actually get some sit down food before boarding the ferry.We leisurely rode back to the city center and explored the old Army post of Fort Haines which overlooks the harbor then visited some of the local souvenir shops to buy the obligatory presents for my grand daughters and my bride. We demurred on entering the Hammer Museum when we spied the $10. fee, heading for the local Ace Hardware to get our tool fix for free. Being midday and with nothing else better to do we sought out food, ending up in a place that advertised "the best halibut in town". Being my age I should have known better but haste and impatience over ruled caution, resulting in a less than so so meal of halibut chunks which even tabasco couldn't spice up. The meal was so bland service so detached, I can't even remember the name of the place. Upon exiting we met another rider looking for a meal and offered him a quick critique of the gastronomic flop we had just left. Having exhausted the sights of Haines, we returned to the Marine Highway Terminal to await our ferry arrival. We encountered many other riders awaiting the same ferry to include a couple of the "young guns" on choppers that we had last seen in Tok. In conversations these two guys had peeled off from their friends after realizing that riding the Dempster Highway on choppers wasn't a very smart plan. The rider we warned off of a bad meal was there with some other riders who also had ridden the ALCAN and were on their way back to California and Arizona.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby Tin Man » Tue Jul 08, 2014 1:20 am

Clark, good stuff, keep it coming........ :thumbsup: :lurker:
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby offroad » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:25 am

Thanks for sharing this great ride report, Clark. The time and thought put into this report is inspiring. Good luck, Jim
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby HKsMike » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:39 pm

Great report. I was completing my tour at Ft Wainwright at the same time you were there. During my tour I had the chance to drive the ALCAN twice and ride it once. Your description of the route, stops, and towns are spot on. Thanks for the great read!

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Fri Jul 03, 2015 10:54 am

Thanks I've been planning to finish up..........
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Fri Jul 03, 2015 12:32 pm

Well friends and followers , I am back to try and finish the saga of my ride. It's been a year since my last entry which is the result of work & family obligations , distractions due to illness and my recovery all blended in with sloth. As the last post indicated , my son and I had boarded the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry system for the not so cool) vessel Columbia a very large and well apportioned ship for or trip down the inland passage. Our stateroom contained 4 berths private shower and toilet along with a sitting area with a view of the bow/front. Why the commodious accommodations you might ask? As you may recall this trip was planned long before our departure to include two other riders , who bailed on us due to work or family obligations (been there done that too).We decide to explore the ship after offloading the bikes and starting a load of laundry, yes laundry I can't stand carrying around dirty clothes in my bags. We started with a stroll down to the dining facilities to check out the evenings bill of fare , when a group of folks wearing riding gear hailed us and insisted we help them empty a pitcher of beer. Reluctantly we helped finished the pitcher of beer, with them before deciding another pitcher could not remain untouched. As any rider knows you can't just drink beer unless you exchange the tall tales of your travels and misdeeds on the road along with wrenching advise and comparing what you wished, used to and would never ride bike and places visited. The boat ride was as expected relaxing and allowed for us to excel at what I enjoy sleeping without anything that must be done intruding on my sleep.I had my first "senior discount" meal on the Columbia where the young lady taking my order sheepishly inquired as to my eligibility for the %10 discount offered in the main dining room.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby Red Dwarf » Sat Jul 04, 2015 3:09 pm

Great stuff, Clark!
Glad you didn't have any close encounters with the wildlife.
Really appreciate your traveling on the Marine Highway.
Don't believe those clowns on ADVrider who would rather travel the long, long highway thru BC. :wink:
The Columbia is the best! [Anyways, it's the best we have.]
Let's all help keep the ferry system healthy!
[this public service announcement is approved by me, Red Dwarf] :foilhead:
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby WEGUNTER » Tue Jul 07, 2015 2:04 am

Outstanding Ride Report. Was wondering where you ended up and if you made it home. Keep it coming.

Bill

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Tue Jul 07, 2015 1:22 pm

Well my friends the ferry ride to Bellingham , WA was punctuated by stops in a few in cities/towns along the "Inland Passage" so on our second day we took a brief excursion into the former Russian Territorial Capital of Sitka, Alaska. The ferry docked in the mid morning and we were offered transportation into town for a $10.00 fee roundtrip from the dock. Some of you may know that Alaska was formerly a Russian colony until the US purchased it in a deal often called "Seward's Folly" at the time as the resources and strategic location of the area hadn't been recognized by the public.We arrived in the sunny historic downtown of Sitka and proceeded to explore the historic site, gustatory opportunities and fulfilling our obligation to buy presents for my grandchildren and bride. The town of course has plenty of places to purchase the obligatory sweat & tee shirts along with trinkets made in China or Vietnam documenting your lack of taste using heavy green or plastic. The central area of town displays a restored fort from colonial days built to protect the colonist from unhappy locals and to serve notice on European visitors that this was the seat of the Czar's government and would be defended. We passed the St. Michael's Cathedral sitting in the middle of downtown Sitka , the earliest Orthodox cathedral in the New World, it was built in the 19th century by Russia colonist. on our trek towards beer. We found ourselves at the harborside Cascade Inn where we sat in the sun watching boat and airplanes pass as we emptied a glass of two of Alaska IPA while having some tasty deep fried halibut chunks . We ambled back to the bus stop with both our hand and stomachs full and ready to continue the trip south.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence


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