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Thread: San Francisco to Alaska, and back. July 2012.

  1. #17
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    "That evening a few of the lads went to the nature reserve at Fish Creek while the rest of us set up the Hotel's BBQ. The locals claimed that the salmon were
    running, which should bring the bears out to feed, and there are high level walkways where you can watch without being too close. To prove his camera was
    working, and his skill behind it, Mark took THE perfect shot of a Grizzly snatching its supper from the water."

    Thank you for kind words Big Mark, here's the picture,
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  2. #18
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    Good effort Keep it rolling
    still no deid

  3. #19
    Appreciating Scotland Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    ".......and Geoff saw a beaver......"

    So that was Chris and Geoff both saw beaver
    '83 BMW R100
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    '69 BMW R60 US

  4. #20
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    We all saw quite a lot of beaver, but that's later on........
    Mark
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  5. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by earthmover View Post
    We all saw quite a lot of beaver, but that's later on........
    Mark
    some more than others

  6. #22
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    Saturday

    As we left, one of the locals that had been holding up the bar the previous evening, was holding a stop/go sign for the grader levelling the road. I stopped for a brief chat with him, whilst the others rode on. When I said goodbye to him, and turned onto the grandly named “International street” a black shape appeared from the left and walked casually across the road. It was too big to be a dog, and I held my breath as I switched the GoPro on. My first sighting of a bear! I didn’t get too close, as I didn’t want to scare it (or me!) so it appears as a tiny speck on the wide angle view of the camera. Through the border crossing, who weren’t in the least bit interested, and on into Stewart for breakfast with the others.



    Cassiar Highway

    Leaving Stewart by the same road we'd arrived on gave us another chance to admire the scenery as we rode through a steep sided valley. Waterfalls cascaded
    down the sides, and deep green forest lined the road. It was a damp morning, low cloud clinging to the tops of the mountains, so a steady pace.
    Back on the Cassiar Highway we again turned North, further into the Yukon Territory. There were quite a few stretches of roadworks to contend with, I'm
    guessing they try to get everything patched up before winter comes. At the first set we watched as they used a helicopter to move piles of logs. As soon as it
    was clear we were waved through, and a bear ran across the road in front of us! The next set coincided with a fuel stop at one of the few motels along the
    route, and this fragmented the group as we were waved through at different times. It only takes a couple of minutes of riding faster, or slower, than the
    others for you to have a long stretch of road all to yourself if you so desire.



    Like Easy Rider, but different.



    We also had our first encounter with steel grid bridge decks. These are best taken at a steady speed, with a relaxed grip on the bars, as the tyres follow the undulations in the steel mesh.( Not too relaxed a grip, obviously! ) It can be very disconcerting to look down though, as the effect of speed makes it seem
    as though there is nothing beneath you but river! At some point we crossed the Continental divide, but this was marked on my map, not on the ground so I didn't really notice.



    Don't look down!



    Mine's quicker than yours!

    Gaz and I swapped bikes for a while, for no other reason than we could, and we rode through a section of recently burnt out forest. The majority of the foliage
    had been burned away, leaving the only the blackened trunks stuck up like so many toothpicks. Rather eerie. It was also noticeable that the further North we
    travelled, the trees got shorter and scrubbier. Gaz was ahead of me when his (my?) brake light came on unexpectedly. It was only a slight bend, what was he
    playing at? Then I saw the Bear at the side of the road! We turned around, and I switched the GoPro on. The bear completely ignored us, though Gaz did suggest chucking rocks at it to see what it would do. I didn't think that was the best plan, but the bear must have heard him and wandered off into the bushes.



    Watson Lake was our destination for tonight, quite a large town by current standards. At one end was a "Signpost forest", but we were staying at the other
    end in the Air Force Lodge. Chris has stayed here before, and warned us about the somewhat eccentric owner. We were required to take our boots off before
    walking beyond the entrance. Fair enough, big stomping bike boots are not good on your best Axminster, but this was for any outdoor footwear, and the carpets were nothing special. The owner also liked everyone to listen to his talk about the history of the Air Force lodge, before he gave you the key!In its favour, it was clean and inexpensive, but a bit too eccentric for Little Mark, Geoff and Clive. They got rooms in a motel a little further down the strip, where Gaz, Chris and I joined them later for a beer. We rode everywhere
    though, as the town was very spread out, and the other side of the street was 200 yards away! An early night, as Chris had an early start planned with 100 miles before breakfast!
    Mark
    Last edited by earthmover; 07-12-13 at 19:31. Reason: Wrong photo again!
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  7. #23
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    Really enjoying this and looks such a great ride!

    Oh, and good piccies too

    Andres
    Doris doesn't give a fuck...be more like Doris!



  8. #24
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    Sunday
    Today was Bob's birthday, and we set off good and early on Highway 1, the Alaska Highway, otherwise known as the Alcan. This was described by Chris as a "heads
    down" day. The road was good and wide with long sweeping bends, and huge sweeping vistas before you. It is possible to OD on scenery!



    A slight misunderstanding about the distance to the breakfast stop (is that in miles or kilometres?) saw our first fuel error, as Gaz tried to freewheel the last 10 miles. This plan fell at the first incline, so the siphon pump was called to the fore (available at Adventurebikewarehouse.com) and Johno was swiftly relieved of half a tank of unleaded. I think he's still waiting for it to be repaid!



    A small settlement called Rancheria was the fuel and food stop, a stereotype of the truckstops that keep these kind of roads operational. The petrol pump was some way from the office, and the couple that ran the place, so you were trusted to tell them how much fuel you had put in! You then pay for it at the same time as you order your food. Ten bikes arriving at once can cause some confusion though. Gaz was pleasantly surprised when his order of ham and eggs arrived within seconds, Bob was hacked off to find that his ham and eggs, the very first order, arrived last. And on his birthday too!
    We were by now riding in smaller groups, but with Gaz and I nearly always towards the back, so when we caught up to a few of the others parked on the wrong side of the road we stopped to see what was happening. Down in the margin, as the Yanks call the verge, was a black bear enjoying its own breakfast. It soon got tired of the attention and wandered off. Not much further, and there was another bear, on our side of the road this time. I pulled alongside Alex (on the opposite side to the bear) while we filmed it eating berries off the
    roadside bushes. As it came to within 10 feet of us, Alex leaned over and asked if they were dangerous. "Don't know." I said, "but you'll find out first!"
    Needless to say, the bear didn't give us a second glance.



    A brief dip back into British Columbia, as the line didn't follow the road, then back into Yukon. We crossed the longest steel deck bridge yet, at Teslin, which must have been 200 yards long! At the other side was a Motel and petrol station, a chance to check out where we would be staying later on in the trip.



    As we neared Whitehorse the road skirted a large body of water, shown as Marsh Lake on my GPS. The shoreline looked odd, but as I got closer I realised that it was a line of RV's parked along the waters edge. The roads were full of these, ranging from quite modest, to absolutely huge! I can see the appeal over there, less so in the UK. We stopped for lunch at a truckstop opposite Whitehorse International airport and to regroup. There is a small museum at the airport, and an old DC3 on a swivel as a wind vane, which some of the lads went to look at. Chris, Gaz, Little Mark and I went instead to look at one of the old paddle steamers that used to ply its trade on the Yukon River. There was a brief film show in a marquee next to the boat, and between that and the joggers using the park we were kept entertained for half an hour before heading further.



    Continuing on the Alcan out of Whitehorse, the road seemed wider and the countryside more open, and the mountains seemed to be getting closer and closer. The already 'Big' scenery switched to 'Huge'.



    Cruising along, iPod singing away merrily, and I see a couple of bikes up ahead. Little Mark stopped at the side of the road, Chris a few hundred yards further doing a U-turn. "Not another black bear?" Thinks I, switching on the GoPro, "or is it a breakdown?" Little Mark appeared to be hunched over the tank, but as I rolled up to his back wheel I saw that he was carefully getting his camera out, so I followed the direction it was pointed........
    The biggest Grizzly bear I have ever seen (in real life) was standing in the trees at the side of the road. I nearly fell off the bike in shock. It turned
    and walked back into the undergrowth, and I started breathing again. It's one thing to see these magnificent creatures on film, but to have one 20 yards away with nothing between you is something else entirely! I U-turned myself and joined Chris, who confirmed that that was one of the biggest bears he had ever
    seen.(Those weren't his exact words, if you watch the video you'll understand!) Sadly for my credibility, the video footage shows nothing but some rustling leaves,
    but Marks photos do. A couple of miles further on was a sign for camping!

    We stopped that night at the Alcan Motor Lodge in Haines Junction. "The management" had procured a few cans for us to celebrate Bob's birthday so we congregated around the bikes in the car park as the last of the suns warmth settled behind the mountains. Other riders staying at the motel wandered over with the now customary "hey, where y'all from?" and such, and we chatted with them for a while before wandering off for food.



    That's the view from our Motel, stunning!



    Johno thinks so!

    Mark
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  9. #25
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    I think Marky d may have got a reasonable picture of the huge Grizzly. It was definitely the biggest bear I've seen and I've seen a few up in the area over the years. Feckin mahoosive would just about cover it
    www.unchainedtours.com

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    With hope, one can think, one can work, one can dream.
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  10. #26
    The Shenanigator Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    A great write up and pics. Looks like a fantastic trip.

  11. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damien View Post
    A great write up and pics. Looks like a fantastic trip.
    2015.....???
    www.unchainedtours.com

    "Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so powerful as hope.
    With hope, one can think, one can work, one can dream.
    If you have hope, you have everything."



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  12. #28
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    lovin' it. cmon Mark, MORE

  13. #29
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    Excellent young man


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  14. #30
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    Monday



    This should have been with yesterday's photos.

    Chris had us up and out early, wheels rolling at 6.00am! It was quite a fresh morning, cold enough for me to put the heated grips on and fasten all vents. The sunrise cast long shadows and glorious colours over the mountain range to the West of us, and I stopped to try and capture it on camera.






    And Bob tried as well.


    We pulled in at Destruction Bay for breakfast, a name to conjure with. It was a larger than normal truckstop, with rooms and a gift shop. The breakfast was excellent, and a few extra stickers appeared on the bikes before we left. According to my map, the highest peak in Canada, Mt Logan, was in the Wrangell mountains which we were running parallel to. The road out of The Yukon and Canada seemed to suffer from being at an extremity, the Tarmac was badly broken up and in some places all but disappeared. In a shallow lake to the side of the road, we saw what we thought to be a Moose, but it was too far away to be sure. Passing through Beaver Creek had everyone’s head on a swivel, but surprisingly we didn’t see a one! A photocall at the sign for the Canada/ Alaska border was a must, as was passing through the border control.





    Gaz mugging for the camera.


    I was last through, and as Chris had sent the others ahead we had a spirited ride to catch up. This was hampered slightly by the very haphazard road repairs on the American side, which seemed to delight in leaving patches of gravel on the apex of bends! Our lunch stop was at Fast Eddy’s, which made me chuckle, thinking of the enduro series back home. This was another large truckstop, with more great food. An old boy was seen stocking up at the salad bar with two six guns on his belt. We were amazed, salad?
    Chris warned us that the next 200 miles were straight and boring, so my ipod took the strain. It had warmed up again, so by the time we got to Delta Junction we were all ready for an ice cream. According to the sign, this was the end of the Alaska Highway, we were now on plain old Highway 2.



    From Delta the road got a few more curves to it as we passed through a number of Recreation sites and Park areas. Gaz, Jon and I stopped to take pictures of a Moose at the side of the road, Jon’s camera battery pack fell off and he nearly got wiped out by a truck as he retrieved it! Gaz switched on his Gopro and challenged the Moose to a race, unbelievably it took him on!



    As we neared Fairbanks, there was a sign for The North Pole. Thinking it was a joke, I was surprised when there were more, and even more so when Chris led us off the now dual carriageway and into North Pole. Even more surreal was riding up to Santa Claus’ house, complete with giant Santa, and some tame reindeer. Apparently this is where all the letters that kids send finish up.
    Cultural highlight over, we blatted the last few miles to Fairbanks and to the University Campus that was to be our home for a couple of nights. The University let out the rooms in the Halls of residence when the students aren’t there. They are clean, comfortable and inexpensive, and would also store all our gear for us while we tackled the Dalton.

    The downside is lack of food facilities when the University is closed, and its a fair walk into town. This was duly taken, and we somehow ended up in a bar where they served beer in old jam jars. Little Mark treated us all to Pizza, ordered in from Domino’s, much to the bemusement of the locals. It was “open mic night” for storytelling and anecdotes in this particular establishment that evening, and after a couple of reasonably amusing tales from our host, he asked if anyone would take up the baton. Oh dear.
    If you’ve met Gaz, you may have an idea of what happened next. If you haven’t, I’m afraid this ride report would take too long if I went into detail. Suffice to say we were all crying as we’re trying to keep a straight face, but some of the audience were crying genuine tears at the plight of those poor orphans.
    I was sat between Chris and Little Mark, so if it had turned ugly I should be pretty safe. I still had my eye on the door at the back of the bar as my emergency exit though.....
    Mark
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  15. #31
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    More video, same style as before, but with a bit more local interest!




    Mark
    Just when you've got this rat race licked, here come faster rats!

  16. #32
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    Thanks for posting, this trip always appeals and one day soon I plan to do it, very entertaining reading,

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