Kelly's 2011 Alaska Journey

Day 19 - Wednesday, 6/8

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It finally happened- The weather didn't hold, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. There was a light sprinking most of the day, which both cleaned some of the caked mud from the bikes, but made the packed dirt roads both messy and slippery. A couple of times we hit some loose, squishy patches which made the bikes very hard to control. I'm almost surprised that nobody dropped their bike. But still, it could have been loads worse.

One aspect to all the good weather we've been having is that the mosquitoes seems to have flourished in the two days from when we left and then returned to Coldfoot. They were absolutely relentless. We all have numerous bites, and the bug spray is now flowing freely.

Back south 
to the Arctic
Heading south, we paused once again at the Arctic Circle sign. MotoQuest needed a good group photo at that spot. No doubt we'll be part of some marketing materials!

It was somewhat a "Day of smells," if there is such a thing. Early we enjoyed the smell of a wet forest after the rain, but it soon turned to the smell of dust from road. As trucks would drive towards us, they'd kick up a huge dust cloud that not only filled the lungs, but also completely obscured visibility of the road. It was best to just pull over and wait for the cloud to dissipate. Now, I'm not advocating the strong crosswinds from yesterday, but a simple breeze would have helped clear the dust immeasurably.

The last smell of the day was a large forest fire nearby. It was quite thick, and got heavier as we descended into the valley. Fortunately it had mostly cleared by the time we'd gotten to the end of the day's ride.

I don't mind saying that after today's ride through the wet, slippery dirt, I'm looking forward to spending more time on stable pavement.

A lot of
views like
A good
brewery &
I can't
tour it!
As for my own mechanical issues, I still have that annoying squeak in the front wheel from the accident. We expect it's a bearing; though I was thinking it's a pinched speedometer cable. Either way, it'll last until I get home and can tear it all apart. My new ear plug/headset seemed to have broken in the same way as the last set did. As we had cell service for a time, I called the manufacturer and told of the design flaws. While that'll work out for the long run, it seems that I'll have only one ear's speaker functional for the remainder of the trip. On the bright side, I had the forethought to bring another pair of earbuds. While they won't be good for riding, they'll be fine on the 4-day boat ride. Later I realized it wasn't the headset at all- It had simply pulled out slightly from the jack on the bike, so the right ear wasn't working. Oops! Apologies to Marilyn (the owner of PlugUp! custom earpieces, the manufacturer)! On the GPS front though, I've noticed (and documented) a number of real bugs in the software on the new Zumo GPS. I'll work with Garmin on them.

Chatanika Lodge
The Bar
We're staying at a quaint little place, the Chatanika Lodge. It's a rustic place, brimming with personality. It has a '57 Thunderbird inside the bar next to the pool table, hundreds of one-dollar bills stapled to the ceiling, and a massive gold dredge across the street. The lodge seems to be all personality and little functionality- Everywhere one looks, there are loads of things to see. It's rather fascinating, but the rooms and communal bathrooms are not particularly great.
The Bar
The facilities at both
Gold dredge
Coldfoot and Deadhorse were better, if more stark and utilitarian. As luck would have it, the kitchen was out of about everything interesting to eat. (though someone outside our party ordered a pork loin for breakfast, and they had it. Hmmm...)

The day was fairly uneventful, with enough extra time towards the end for some to head to Fairbanks in search of BMW parts. Jeff, Vic and I relaxed in the bar, and took a stroll out to see the dredge.

Total riding distance today: 267 mi / 430 km   Running total: 5300 mi / 8530 km

Stay tuned...


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