Pictures: Day 14 - 16

Day 14 / Wednesday, June 25, 2008

And voila, I made it back to civilization. The bike was sputtering and not sounding very good towards the end of the night. I figured water in the fuel system was the main culprit. We went straight for the car wash after buying some Calcium, Lime and Rust remover from a nearby store.

I was informed earlier to wash off the calcium chloride as soon as I was done with the Dalton Highway, because it could cake onto the hot parts of the bike and affect cooling performance of the engine and other parts. They spray calcium chloride down on the road to keep it from freezing in the winter.

My exhaust fully covered in mud and the screw that I put in about 8 days ago to hold the end cap on was working itself loose. The carbon buildup around the loose rivets and the end cap opening was indication that all was not well in the engine.

The bike wouldn't start after getting her fully cleaned and I figured the best option would be to take her to the Suzuki dealer in town and get her fixed, but I would need a tow somehow. Luckily, in the next car wash bay was Perry with his Toyota 4Runner and he asked if I needed any help. He said he was a rider too and just bought a Yamaha cruiser and made his first big trip down to Anchorage a few weeks earlier. Upon hearing I needed a tow to the dealership, he said he would go back home and get his trailer to help me out. It was his day off and he said he was glad to help another biker. Here we are emptying his trailer at the local garbage dump. He told me there's no at-home garbage pickup and residents have to take their own trash to the dump.

A plea to keep the garbage dump clean.

Putting auDRey in the trailer.

Getting her serviced by Doug at Northern Powersports. This dealership is run by great people and knowing of my situation, they got me into service right away. I was surprised by how busy they actually were. Doug did find water in the fuel and thoroughly cleaned the carbs, air filter, and fuel tank. She fired up and sounded good. I thought my problems were over.

I made it down to Denali National Park and would be staying with Paul, who I contacted through ADVrider's Tent Space list. Paul owns the Rapid Exposure photo shop and the Subway in front of the park entrance. It's only open during the summer and that Subway is constantly full of tourists. He said that Subway takes in more revenue in just 3 months than any other Subway on the West Coast does in a year. Paul moved out here from the North-East after spending some time and really liking it here.

This is Paul's log home that he's building on cheaply purchased land right next to Denali. He rides his KTM 525 dirt bike over numerous trails into the woods around here and he's thinking of setting up a dirt-riding tour company of some kind. In the winter, he heads down to the Lower 48 and rides where it's warmer. He's got a great gig set up.


Day 15 / Thursday, June 26, 2008

An awesome thing about staying with Paul was that he's good friends with one of the local rafting outfits and they help each other out with goods and services, and friends are included. So, I got the chance to go on a 2 hour rafting trip with the Denali Outdoor Center on the Nenana River through some Class II and III rapids. Far out. That's me on the right-front of the raft.

These pictures were taken by Paul and he sells them to the rafters, just like photographers at theme parks and track days.

I love white-water rafting and wish I could do it more. Our guide, Ben was very cool and very good at guiding. He's an architect in Colorado working for someone who understands the thrill of rafting and lets him take off 3 months in the summer to guide and enjoy. What a great setup.

Getting a Glacial Facial. This is all melt water from the glaciers in Denali and is full of sediments thoroughly mixed in the rapid water. Yes the water was cold, about 40 - 50 F but we had on full dry suits (that cost about $600) with only our head and hands exposed and with the adrenaline pumping, you don’t even feel the cold. It actually felt great to be splashed in the rapids.

Woo hoo, what a great time. The other 5 people on the raft were a family from Colorado and we all got along well. Now, onwards with the riding towards Anchorage.

Looking down at the Nenana River that I rafted down. You can see the gray color of water filled with glacial sediments. To be rafting up in the wilds of Alaska was a great experience. Thank you Paul.

I didn't have time to go through Denali National Park and I heard you have to actually sign up a few days in advance to get on one of the park buses to go deep into the park and since I was planning on spending two days in Yellowstone, I carried on.

Coming across a massive over-sized cargo on a really long trailer.

It's a piece of equipment for a gas station that now has to carry ultra low sulfur diesel.

High gas prices near the tourist hub of Denali. The prices dropped by a dollar just down the road in Anchorage.

The view from the George Parks Highway heading down to Anchorage.

Stopping at a look-out where you can view Denali (Mt. McKinley), if she decides to show herself. The actual peak is probably behind all the clouds in the back. Denali is over 20,000 ft tall and is the tallest peak in the area and thus creates its own weather system, which results in cloud cover of the peak for the majority of the time. On the few clear days that the peak is exposed, the locals say, "the mountain is out today." And I hear you can see the peak all the way from Anchorage, 150 miles away, on a clear day.

In Wasilla (now famous for Sarah Palin), I saw this sea-plane hangar right by the highway. Interesting to see for real how common bush planes are to Alaska (it's a larger interior area).

In Anchorage, I was staying with my friend, Mark that I met up in Dawson City a few days ago (whom I know through a common friend).


Day 16 / Friday, June 27, 2008

We went to a local breakfast place and I got the Reindeer Sausage plate. Mmm mmm good. It's caribou meat and very tasty. So nice to eat other kinds of meat.

This is Comet, Mark's dog and I found this pretty funny. He would hop up on the dash and just hang out there. He braces against the windshield under braking and has grip on the carpet during acceleration. Awesome.

Stopping by the famous motorcycle store in the adventure community: Alaska Leather run by Barb. She's very helpful to all the traveling motorcyclists through Alaska and allows them to do oil changes in her shop and I believe camp for free, and help you get on your way. I had to finds parts to make an electrical connection for my heated vest to the bike (I lost the original) and she threw in a few parts for free.

That's a really good price for all that gear. I hear she's all for getting riders into proper riding gear. Kudos to her.

This is a famous sticker that Barbs gives out to everyone and you can see it on lots of adventure motorcyclists' bikes in far off countries who've passed through here. I got mine too.

I went to visit the local BMW Motorcycle dealership for a few parts and saw this old and dusty 1980s BMW R series and with stickers of various countries on it.

And this is her owner, Michael from Switzerland who's traveling around the world since April 2006. He's been through Asia and Russia and just flew into Anchorage and is going to do the whole Americas down to Argentina, ship to South Africa and ride back home. Wow.

He was doing some maintenance, getting ready to check the valves.

Look at that, he's ridden through Iran in this day and age. Nice to know it's doable. Funny, but he said of all those countries so far, India was the worst for actual driving. Notorious chaotic Indian traffic.

Not sure about the stick; he said it was a joke from a friend to fight off the bears??

I believe that dirt is from all over Asia. Dirt is a theft deterrent mechanism and it makes the bike look cheap and run down. Note the smiley face on the brake light. Regarding the fuel he was carrying, he said in general you need a maximum range of 600 kms (375 miles) to make it through the longest stretches without gas in remote areas.

Next: Day 17, Riding the Glenallen Highway into Valdez

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