Pictures: Day 18 - 19

Day 18 / Sunday, June 29, 2008

Stopping by Worthington Glacier on my way back into the Interior.

The Chugach Mountains near the glacier. Elevation is not very high but the high latitudes keep the snow on the peaks almost throughout the year.

The brighter side of the micro climate of the Chugach. It was damp and rainy yesterday and nice and bright today. While the town of Valdez itself wasn't that much to see, the ride down and back is definitely worth coming this way.

Looking out at the Wrangell Mountains from the main highway heading towards Gokona and Tok.

This is where the trip started going off-track for me. So I had to remove my muffler end cap the day before, before it ripped itself off and I was running with no end cap. As you can see, I believe the packing material for the muffler has been eroded away. These lightweight dirt-bike mufflers need repacking of the muffling material every 3 months or at least 1,000 miles. I should’ve learned about this before and installed a muffler that doesn’t require repacking, as it doesn’t make sense for touring. Lesson learned.

Just near a remote gas station on the way to Tok, the bike died and I rolled it in to the station and started taking things apart to figure out what the problem was. Good thing I had a spark-plug removal wrench in my tool kit and figured out why the engine was dying – the electrodes were being bent in leaving no room for a spark to ignite the fuel. I had spare plugs and put them in but still hadn't figured out the cause.

I figured not having the end cap on was bad for the exhaust back pressure and with the help of another rider there, I found some old telephone wire next to the station and stripped the copper wire out from it and made a cage to hold the end cap on. I also put on JB Weld on the seam.

The owner of the station said there was an airplane/bike owner a few miles up the road who would have some tools to help me out. I pulled up and Thumper and June came out and offered to help. He's a Harley rider and keeps his bike down near Seattle and flies down to ride often. He also thought what I was doing was crazy but understood and helped me out.

He attached some metal strips to hold in my muffler end cap. What a pleasant couple. The kindness that I came across all over this state has definitely been reassuring in the greater goodness of humanity.

On the way to Tok, I caught up with these riders who recognized my bike from their trip up the Dalton Highway and were concerned as to how I was getting along.

The last picture of auDRey in the wild all setup as a DR650 Adventure.

Heading to Tok where the Alaska Highway heads south and east into Canada.

The bike died again just outside of Tok and I figured I better strip the engine down and try and find the culprit before heading off into 400 miles of wilderness to Whitehorse.

With luck still running high on this trip, Professor Nick in the cap here happened to stop at the same camp site and pitch up right next to me. He was the one who helped me finally get my tire problems fixed out on the Dalton Highway and I also met him earlier in the trip in Dawson City. I told him I was having engine issues and he said I was certainly very lucky as he's actually an applied physics/automotive professor working with the Big 3 car companies in Detroit. We set out root-causing the problem. The guy in the foreground is Constantin, a German diplomat who was touring around Alaska with a diplomat friend from San Francisco and they offered to help with whatever tools they had.

Nick's ingenuity: using the rear view mirror to look between the carburetor and the intake port of the engine to see the condition of the intake valves. We were trying to see if anything was obviously bent or damaged. We didn’t find anything damaged and not wanting to open up the cylinder head out on the road, we couldn't tell if the insides of the engine were damaged.

With no option besides putting her back together and seeing how she holds, I put some exhaust bondo to better seal the end cap and hoped it would hold. We waited a day for one of Nick's riding friends to show up before heading south into Canada.


Day 19 / Monday, June 30, 2008

That evening, we hung out at the local bar and quickly became friends with these guys. The guy on the left, Pete is a local motocross champ and he loves to ride his dirt bike in the woods. The guy on the right, Mike is an animal trapper by trade. He traps Lynx and other animals over the winter and sells their fur. If he makes good money, he doesn't work in the summer and just relaxes. These guys just totally love the wilderness and their strong small community and they were very jovial.

Pete said he could do handstand pushups and really wanted to show us. Nick is making sure his head actually touched the ground.

And Nick joined in with all the bravado and tried his hardest to upset our man here. Good times.

Next: Day 20 - End, The Journey Ends

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