Sat – June 30 – Anchorage

I know, I know…I am going backwards here…

Because I left immediately after the picnic in Anchorage, I had no time to make an entry for one of the best days of the ride – the gathering/picnic in Anchorage!

The Anchorage “Escort”

About 10-12 riders met up at the House of Harley in Anchorage on Saturday about 2pm to show me the way to the Alaska Native Medical Center.  It was a great group of folks – a good mix of Harleys, Ducatis, BMWs and everything in between.  Some had attended the D2D earlier in the week and others were connected to the Medical Center where the picnic was to be held.

Because we had a little time to kill, the group took me on a little tour of Anchorage and Seward Highway.  I have to admit, I was not too worried about where we were going, just enjoyed the scenery for a change and followed.  We stopped off at a pull-off to enjoy the scene – king of made me wish I had spent more time in Anchorage than running up the Haul Rd.

After chatting for a bit at the stop, we headed back to the Medical Center to meet the folks there and some of the kids who would deign the bike for the trip back to Philadelphia.  We were created by 20-30 folks at the center that had everything set-up/  Grills, food, tents of shade and the works.  Was very nice.  But, the special part was meeting some of the kids and having them sign the bike.  Seems like kids always react the same to motorcycles…  A little scared but itching to sit on it to see what it feels like. Unfortunately, I don’t remember everyone’s names and by this time – my mind was a little toasted from being on the road for 3 weeks.  Anyway, kids loved it and certainly re-inspired me.  Sometimes you need to be reminded why you are doing what you are doing.

The Signing!

 

Things wrapped up about 6pm and of course, I was itching to get moving.  The group presented me with a token to remember them and a “thanks” for the ride – made from a ’76 Chevy – Very Nice!  Hanging right above my desk:

Was a great gathering and special thanks to Kristin Helvey and Chris Mandregan (of the Center) for setting all of this up.  Thanks also to the Haldane family (Mark, Sandy and Corbin) for helping in any number of ways.  Word has it that there will be a special donation to the Ride coming which should amount to $1,500 – I’ll wait to name the donor as not to put any pressure on…

The kids in Alaska have it even a little tougher than the lower 48 kids with JA.  Most of the best technical/medical help is in Seattle, an expensive plane ride away.  Many don’t have insurance that covers this trip, so the parents must come up with this out-of-pocket or just wait for treatment – tough call.  Things are getting better though.  A camp for kids is coming up in a few weeks – the 1st one.  I can only hope that the kind of attention that I may have garnered speeds this process along a bit.

Wrap-up

Looks like I have two more scheduled events related to the ride, then will be wrapping things up.  On July 17, I will be visiting the kids at Camp Victory to recap the Ride, then on July 20, I am meeting the kids at Hopwood camp to talk about the ride.

In closing – was an inspiring event.  Can’t wait to share this with the  kids at Camp Victory in a few weeks – I am sure they will think it was “awesome.”

I will do one final blog entry after all of this with some reflections on the trip, the best parts, what I would change and the perceived impact n me,and those who participated.  For now, I am going to nurse my tired and sore body back to its pre-ride condition, contemplate the previous 4 weeks a bit and maybe have a beer or two in a self-toast to another once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Home! Thursday, July 5, 4pm

Mileage Today (and Yesterday): 1,822 miles (36 hrs)
Odometer Stop: 39,884 miles
Odometer Start: 28,621 miles
Total Distance: 11,263 miles
Miscellaneous Info: 2 oil changes, 1 air filter, 2 sets tires, 1 headlight bulb – no mechanical issues
Funds raised:  Just over $10,000 – exact count  pending
 

Weyburn, SK – Home

I will be doing some post-dated posts on the activities of the last few days in Alaska, but for now, just letting everyone know I am safely home.

After getting stranded in Weyburn, SK by my 3rd set of violent T-storms, I decided to push for home at 4am on Tuesday morning.  I was trying to time it so that I made it through Chicago about midnight or later to miss the traffic – WRONG!!!!

I forgot that it was the 4th of July and hit Chicago about midnight – 4-5 lanes of traffic all night long.  I had left Weyburn about 4am, so had been on the bike for nearly 22 hrs when I hit this mess.  I was not a happy camper to say the least. Man, and I thought Philadelphia traffic and drivers were bad! Then there were the construction delays…  more later.

Anyway,  was finally on the PA turnpike about 2 pm on Thursday cruising about 80 mph, when I caught sight of a couple of crazy people waving and jumping around on the side of the road!  It was my sister, Georgia and her partner Ron with their own version of “Welcome Home.”  What a surprise!  I have to admit being fairly delirious by this time after almost 34 hrs of straight driving, but a welcome sight! Thanks Guys!

Writing this from home and will update the blog later this week-end so check back.  Epic journey to say the least.

More coming… Eat, Sleep, Ride…

Hang in there – on the way home and limited time to blog.  Eat, sleep, ride as they say…

Currently in Grande Prairie,  AB – to Minot, ND tomorrow… (1000+ miles)

A sneak preview:

Day 19 and 20 Fairbanks to Anchorage (Wasilla)

Mileage today: 393 miles
Total Mileage: 6,881 miles

Bit of a boring post today.  No pictures,  nothing too noteworthy.

Spent yesterday on maintenance – prep for the ride back.  Once again, Rich of Northern Moosed Campground stepped up and offered me his place and some hands to get the stuff done.  Needed to change the  oil and filter as well as clean the Haul Rd. dust from the air cleaner.  I wish I had taken a picture of the dirt in the air filter.  No wonder I am in respiratory distress!  Must been a 1/2″ of dirt in the filter – and I was breathing this stuff for 14 hrs!

Went to see Friar Mike today to get my street tires put back on.  Feels pretty weird – no more singing of the Continental TKC80s.  Still think that Sally needs a little TLC once I get home.  Hermy’s team will take care of much of that.

Fairbanks to Wasilla, AK

Tomorrow, meeting some other riders at the “House of Harley” in Anchorage and riding to the Alaska Native Medical Center for a little picnic for the kids.  Hope to get some pictures of them signing the bike for the ride home.  The show starts at 2pm and I am hoping to be out of there by 6pm to begin the ride home.  Hoping to make 300 miles to Tok to get a good start on things, but that might be a push.  Anyway, ready for the last leg – but, will be good to see the kids and families that I am riding for – a bit of inspiration.  Will be fun to show the kids at Camp Victory the shots of their counterparts in AK signing the same panniers…

Signing the Panniers – “Your Name is Going to Alaska!”

Day 17 and 18 – Prudhoe Bay back to Fairbanks

 

Odometer: 35,109 miles
Miles today: 532 miles
Total Miles: 6,488 miles

Alaska Pipeline

Yesterday I left Prudhoe Bay about 5am intending to make it back to Wiseman to stay for the night, then on to Fairbanks on Wednesday.  The day started with its challenges.  Temperature was 36 degrees with heavy fog.  In fact, once I got started on the Haul Rd south, I couldn’t see more than about 50 yds in front of me for almost 25 miles.  A bit scary when you see the truck headlights appear out of the fog and in the center of the road… Oh well, builds character.

Haul Road Climbing Thru Atigun Pass

I was determined to get some pictures on the way down, as I took none on the way up.  By the time I got to Atigun Pass, the weather had pretty well cleared and the sun was actually shining.  The pass rises through the Brooks Range to about 4,700 feet via a very steep climb.  The pictures I took do not portray the rugged nature of the mountains here.  As I mentioned before, in several spots the guard rail was missing, indicating an accident of some type.  Apparently an area of frequent avalanches in the winter.  Ice Road Truckers and all…

The bike had no problem with the pass, easy climb – not so much for the rider  on the other side though.  I really didn’t like going downhill in that loose gravel and wet Calcium Carbonate.   Just waiting for the rear to start sliding – guess that’s an impossibility with the traction control.

The ride was becoming very pleasant – but the mosquitos smelled fresh meat – aggressive little buggers…  All of the photos were pretty rushed because of the blood suckers. Within 30 seconds of stopping,  hundreds would be buzzing around my face.  Always kept the helmet on until just before taking the picture.

Another Moose

Muskox Along the Haul Rd

I got a good shot of this guy munching on flowers next to an access road.  He wasn’t too worried about me, but he knew I was there.  The muskox gets its name from the smell emitted from male to attract females during mating season.  These guys are survivors of the ice age – the sure look prehistoric.

I had to do one self portrait proving my presence along the Haul Rd.  This was shot about 9am and the weather was truly spectacular.  I was having thoughts about continuing all the way to Fairbanks – was just having a good time.  By now, the gravel didn’t bother me too much and the roads were dry, making very good time except fro stopping for the photos.  Got to Wiseman about 11am and stopped in to see Clutch at the Gold Rush Camp.  Spent a few minutes chatting, then headed back on the road.  For a couple of hours the weather held, then it went bad – really bad.  Cold and raining for 4 hours back to Fairbanks.

It is hard to describe the character of the Haul Road when it goes from dry to wet.   The dust is gone, but replaced with the sloppy, slippery muddy mess that coats everything.  You can see the clouds building here and the road surface – I didn’t stop to take any shits of the wet stuff – too busy staying right-side-up.

Anyway, got back to Fairbanks – to Rich and Steph’s place – about 7:30pm – over 14 hours on the road.  I was cold and wet and Rich graciously offed to have me stay with them rather than finding a hotel.  I picked up a terrible cold along the way and had a miserable night fending off a sinus infection – my telltale symptom of exhaustion.

The next day I spent 48 quarters at the car wash trying to clean Sally up a bit.  I got most of the slim off, but I think the Haul Road dirt will be showing up in the oddest places over the next few years.

Tomorrow is an easy day – probably change the oil, filter and some other maintenance  and get ready to head home.  One more stop to Anchorage then back to PA!

Outgoing Trip Summary

So here is the summary of the trip to Prudhoe Bay:

Departure: 6/10/12  Odometer: 28,621 miles

Arrive Prudhoe Bay: 6/25/12 Odometer: 34,577

Total Mileage: 5,956 miles

Riding Days: 12 days

Rest/Activity/Layover Days: 4 (Stewart, Dawson City, Fairbanks)

Average Mileage: 496 miles/day

Outgoing Route

Proposed Route Home:

Mileage: 5,185 miles

Route Home

Ride home starts tomorrow!

(stops in Fairbanks for maintenance and Anchorage – ANMC function)

Day 15-16, June 24 and 25 PRUDHOE BAY!!!!!

Odometer Reading: 54,577
Mileage Today: 239 miles 
Total Miles: 5,956 miles

Day 15 (June 24, 2012)

Road from Fairbanks to Wiseman (just above Coldfoot) after stopping by the Northern Moosed RV Park and Campground to meet with Rich Welliver (owner and Arthritis Foundation contact).  Rich helped out by making arrangements for me to stay at the Wiseman Goldrush Camp in Wiseman before heading to Prudhoe Bay.  Wisemand is about 250 miles south of Deadhorse, AK (Pruhoe Bay) via the Haul Rd.  Thanks for your help Rich!

Headed north from Fairbanks about 8am and crossed the Arctic Circle about 11am that morning.  The Arctic Circle is partially defined as the place above which the sun does not set – and I can testify to this.  I am still having trouble dealing with bright sunlight at 1:00 in he morning. But, a good night’s sleep the night before hitting the road has made all the difference in the world. Felt good and the reputation of the famous Haul Road didn’t seem as intimidating.

Stopped off in Coldfoot for gas and guess who came running out of the restaurant? Roger Patterson of Areostich Tours fame!  Roger lead the tour of Patagonia that I did about 2 years ago.    For all the details on the “End of the Earth” tour, see the Patagonia Blog or check out the Patagonia video.  Roger had tried hard to talk Aerostich into sponsoring the Ride to Alaska, but I guess it kind of bucked the company policy.  If any of you riders out there has an interest in doing one of Aerostich’s tours with Roger – do it, you won’t regret it.  Roger was leading about 28 riders from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay and back – they were on the return trip.  Was good to see him and we both committed to staying in touch.

Made if to Wiseman about 2pm and met Clutch Loundsbury, owner of the Wiseman Goldrush Camp.  Quite a character and heard many interesting stories over the next few hours when we ended up going back to Coldfoot for dinner.  Clutch donated the stay at his place to benefit the Juvenile Arthritis cause.

Day 16 – June 25, 2012 – Wiseman to Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse)

Well, everyone I talked to about doing the “Haul Road” on moto cautioned that gets pretty tricky only if it rains.  The calcium chloride used by the road crews to keep dust down gets really slick when wet.  Well, of course, the clear warm weather trend of the last week or so decided to change just in time for my push to Deadhorse.  It rained most of the night and temperatures dropped to about 50 degree F.  It had stopped raining by the time I actually got moving, but the damage was done – the dirt roads were wet and slick.  Very, very big space up here. Miles and miles of tundra and nobody else around, especially at 5am.  the bike danced on the gravel and slid on the wet smooth sections.  Just about the time my confidence grew, I would hit a patch and almost loose the bike – needed to be very attentive on this ride.

Passed over the Atigun Pass after about 55 miles – pretty amazing and kept the adrenaline flowing.  Not sure how steep the decent is over the other side, but couldn’t imagine doing this in winter.  This is the spot of all of the drama in the Ice Road Truckers series.  I saw evidence of past catastrophes in the damaged/missing guardrail at 5000′ ASL.  Dramatic plunges to the valley below.

Prudhoe Bay (note the ice on the Bay)

Anyway, by abut 11am, I pulled into Prudhoe Bay. Outside temperature was about 43 degrees and the wind was howling.  Impressive place – even though it is mainly industrial buildings.  As one who works in the industrial environment, I can only imagine the work it took to establish this industrial complex, all to satisfy the insatiable thirst for oil – makes you wonder…

So, I made it.  Now begins the long trek home, after a good night’s sleep and a few meals.  Heading out by 5am tomorrow.  Supposed to be about 35 degrees out.  Will be chilly for the 1st 2-3 hours.   Just hope the rain quits.  Depending on how I feel, I might just continue on the  Fairbanks – would be a 12-14 hour ride.  However, if it is warm and dry by the afternoon – I am finding the dirt/gravel road kind of fun.  Dirty though – thorough cleaning needed  – both me and the bike…

Sally Needs a Bath!