Alaska (1)

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A special thanks go out to all the guys at Northern Power Sports in Fairbanks, AK
Thanks for taking the time out to help me with my bike

Also thank you to my friend Jeff Littlehale of the News 11 Center, KTVF in Fairbanks, AK
It was a pleasure meeting you and talking to you and I hope I didn't look like a dork, too much.

 

Starting on August 28, 2002, 8:27:54 PM

Coming east from the Yukon across the Alaska Highway was one treacherous journey. As you could read has got to be the worst ride of my trip so far. I did, however, get to meet some wonderful people and see some incredible things. So on up the highway into Alaska and highway 2. The Alaskan highway is considered to be highway 1 and changes right across the border. A friend told me that I couldn't get lost in British Columbia, the Yukon, or Alaska because there's just not that many roads up there. I could see by the map that this was somewhat true. Alaska has only a few primary highways to choose from, highways 1, 2, 3, and 4. After my entry into Alaska I headed north on highway 2 towards Fairbanks.

Finally into Alaska the landscape seemed to change immediately into a totally different world. A fascinating and enchanting place. But I could feel the cold creeping in. Due to the adverse weather conditions I had been keeping my camera concealed within the safety of my gear and bags and all wrapped up. But after a while I became frustrated with losing so many potential shots, so I finally devised a plan that would keep the camera fairly accessible. By keeping a plastic bag in my back pocket I would keep the camera close to the front of the bike, behind the small wind shield and when the rain got too bad I would stash it in the bag and under my coat and multiple layers of clothing.

 

After seeing quite a few moose I finally was able to get some pictures of this one and her calf. She was very aware of me and seemed quite protective of her calf so I stayed at a fair distance, kept the bike running and in gear, and was ready at a moment's notice to stow the camera and run.

Another sunset revealed itself through the clouds for a moment. The sky seemed like it might be forgiving to me and let up which it did until later that evening.

I found the water to be everywhere up here. Much like Newfoundland there seemed to be ponds and lakes and streams around every corner. After the sun had set the water became rather calm and looked like glass. In some of the pictures it looked like a mirror and would be difficult to discern whether the image was upside down or not.

I had stopped in Fairbanks and was in need of some repairs to the bike. It was at night so everything was closed. The next morning I found a bike shop. Everybody was too busy trying to get all the four-wheelers out for all the hunters so nobody could help me. I was able to do the work myself and the guys at Northern Power Sports were kind enough to let me use their shop and tools to replace my chain, my back brakes, oil and filter.

Right around the corner I notice local TV station so I stopped in to see if they'd like to do a story on my trip. They did but I'm not sure if or when it will air. I will, of course be long gone by then.

My plans to head north to Prudoe Bay became extinguished by all the horror stories of the road. Being there at the bike shop I was informed by many of the locals that the road was much worse than I had anticipated. Also with the lateness of my adventure the winter had been already setting on the northern slopes. I took their advice and reluctantly decided not to go after all. Besides, I had so many more things to explore on this trip. I will have to make that journey to the Arctic Ocean some other time, when I actually have more "time".

I did, however, go through North Pole. A small town along the highway, just past the Eilson Air Force base, North Pole looked to be quite cute. Although is was night time when I passed through I could make out some interesting things. I saw a huge statue of Santa Claus and a few quaint little buildings all lit up, made out to look like Santa's workshop and/or home.

After making my repairs to the bike I was finally on my way again and now down highway "3" towards Anchorage. Along the way is the Denali National Park. A series of surreal mountains and awesome landscapes, this place was quite interesting.

 

I wasn't able to see any wildlife as I probably wasn't there long enough and didn't explore further into the park interior.

 

Just like much of my adventure I didn't have the time to fully explore this region but I'm sure that it is quite spectacular. There were many tourists there and right up the hill from the park was a town with lots to see and do and plenty of places to stay.

These bright plants were growing all along the side of the roads up here. Quite brilliant with their almost neon fall colors they stand out and create much of the color out in the open areas and landscape.

Down the highway further were more and more mountains. Each one just as splendid as the last.

Here I got a picture of a crevice in the mountain where the water just seemed to come out of nowhere, run down the hill and help to create the river below.

 

It almost seemed like the mountains were getting taller by each mile. I was compelled to stop around every corner to get yet another breathtaking picture.

One right after another the scenery kept revealing itself to me, forcing me to take more and more pictures.

Occasionally I would look out into the distance, across the grass and tundra and wonder if there were any animals that I couldn't see. Because of all the various colors there could be so many creatures hidden and camouflaged. They could be right there in front of me and I wouldn't tell. However, I believe that these swans were in the wrong place. With their white feathers you could make them out for a great distance and they surely looked as if they didn't belong. 

This next shot really got my attention. As I was driving I could see the clouds above and then the puffy clouds below. The sun was shining through the upper clouds and onto the clouds below. It was quite an incredible view.

So I am sure that I am also one of those things that don't belong. Many of the trees up here have already changed their colors and it looks as if fall is upon this northern land. I must head south soon before I become an arctic ??

Here you can see the bike and all my gear covered up by the tarp in a very creative manner. Like I have said before, it looks much larger than it actually is. All my gear only weighs in at less than a hundred pounds, which is surely less than a passenger.

This view took me by surprise as I came across the bridge and looked down into the gorge below. I surely wouldn't have wanted to be on the crew that built this bridge.

More road construction creates more mud. The bottom of the bike was getting pretty bad. I will have to say that the Alaskan roads are in pretty good shape taking into consideration the weather conditions. It must be quite a chore to maintain these roads. But there is also not that many highways in Alaska so I guess they can focus on the few that they have. A friend told me that I couldn't get lost because there's just not enough roads.

What's this?!? Is that a tornado in Anchorage?!? From a distance it definitely made me take a second look until I could tell it was obviously a vent stack from a nearby power plant.

Finally into Anchorage I focused on something to eat and updating my web site. I also stopped by the local newspaper and a few TV stations but had no luck as everybody was out on assignment. For a while I thought to my self, "Don't they know who I am?" "Haven't they heard of me?" Then I looked at my driver's license and realized, "Oh, its just me." What was I thinking?

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