Kelly's 2011 Alaska Journey

Day 15 - Saturday, 6/4

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If it weren't for the fact that there have been so many adventures in the past two weeks, I'd say "Today the adventure begins." While everything experienced so far has been great (well, almost everything), this is the stage to which everything has been leading.

Support truck
"Jethro"
Bikes ready
for trip
Last night we had the welcome dinner, but today we hit the road on the way to Prudhoe Bay. We're a small band of riders- seven customers/participants, and two guides. Our guides, Brenden and Dan, are like everyone at AK Rider. Friendly, helpful, cheerful, and beyond competent. They'll trade off between leading the group on a motorcycle, and driving the support truck named "Jethro." The truck will carry not only most of our gear, but spare parts, maintenance fluids and fuel, and two spare bikes. Sadly, Jethro has had a hard 24 hours- Last night someone shattered the left rear passenger window to rifle through the stuff inside (nothing was taken, not even the expensive satellite phone!), and today it caught a rock on the windshield that left a colossal spiderweb just to the right of the driver's field of view. Even maintenance trucks need maintenance!

The rest are guys from different walks of life, from different parts of the U.S. and beyond. We have Paul and Jack from New York, Jeff from Ontario Canada, Vic from Oregon, and Juan and Juan-Antonio from Espana, or Spain. It figures that the Californian (me) is the only one wacko enough to ride to the launching point in Anchorage; the rest flew in.

Downtown
Anchorage
Seven guys, all strangers to each other (except for our two Spaniards), with one significant trait in common- The drive for adventure, the searching for the last frontier. Too melodramatic? Perhaps, but it's not any less true because of it. You see, this isn't your average adventure tour- We'll cover all sorts of terrain in all sorts of weather, in some of the most remote places on earth. We all seemed to get along instantly, and initial indications are that our personalities and riding styles are compatible, if not similar. Yep, this is going to be fun.

Mirror Lake
An Alaska
'Freeway'
Hwy 3 to
Fairbanks
Open
Road
Today's jaunt was the easiest and longest, a paved road from Anchorage to Fairbanks. True to everything I've come to expect from Alaska, the scenery was beautiful.

Snow-capped mountains, lush green meadows, scenic rivers and birch and pine forests were the views the entire way. As we crossed into the Denali area, I noticed that the pine trees were getting shorter and scrubbier. Most were only 2-3 times as tall as I am. While that trend changed a bit further on, I've got to imagine that we'll get into tundra without trees in the next day or two. I suppose that makes this today's botanical thought.

North Pole, AK
Santa's house
Upon arriving at the very nice hotel (no doubt the more luxurious end of the range of the places where we'll be staying), we unpacked, and had a nice dinner. I opted out of the dinner- I met with a business contact and his wife. We also had a very nice meal at a different place, and they treated me to a little sight-seeing around Fairbanks. We stopped in a the little town of "North Pole, AK." It's a cute little hamlet, with about every pole decorated as a candy cane: Light poles, fence poles, etc. We stopped at Santa's house, and saw their team of reindeer (also known as caribou).

Santa's
Reindeer
Candy Cane
poles
When I got back to our hotel, I saw that Brenden's and Dan's day was not yet done; They were busy doing chain maintenance on the bikes, including mine! Have I said before that these people are great?

I got back to the hotel about 10:00 pm. It wasn't just light outside, it was broad daylight. It felt like the middle of the afternoon back home. We clearly headed virtually due north today. Sunrise in Fairbanks is at 3:25 am, and sunset is at 12:13 am. It'll be interesting to see what the GPS says once we get to a place where the sun doesn't rise or set! As I type this, it's 11:00 pm. Fortunately this hotel has the darkest curtains I've yet seen, though it still isn't dark in the room. My sleeping was better last night, and the cold is going away. Another good night of sleep will help a lot.

Color in
Fairbanks
Being that it's so late, I won't have time to sift through the photos taken by the camera and helmet cam. I'll do so tomorrow, and post some shots in today's writeup as well as tomorrow's.

We lucked out with the weather today- The forecast predicted rain in Anchorage, easing up as we approached Fairbanks. It was cold though- A number of us put on the electric clothes; I was no exception. Fortunately the temperature climbed as the day wore on. Tomorrow we may not be so lucky- It looks like we're in for some real rain on Monday. We'll see how it actually turns out.

Total riding distance today: 362 mi / 583 km   Running total: 4264 mi / 6862 km

Stay tuned...

-K

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