Kelly's 2011 Alaska Journey

Day 20 - Thursday, 6/9

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Morning report:
Last evening we hosed off the bikes- It wasn't a full "wash," as no soap nor scrubbing were involved. Still, it removed probably about 5-10 pounds of dirt from each. The mud was caked on so thickly that it probably interfered with the balance of the wheels! It was a complete surprise that the radiator would hold SO much dirt in its cooling fins; it took five minutes of constant spraying before the water had removed all the dirt.

Instead of staying up late, I hit the hay early, and slept for 8 solid hours. As is starting to feel natural, once again I was awake at 4:00 am. But I was able to get even a little more sleep before the alarm went off. After getting up, the melodic strains of falling rain became noticeable. It looks as though this is one of those long, soaking rains. Unless the weather changes on the ride, it'll be a very wet day. We're heading east today, so the likelihood of the weather changing isn't very high.

Evening report:
As it happens, the weather was more interesting that simply soaking us. While there were the times when it was a bit of a nuisance, it never really rained hard enough to be irritating. There were even long-ish stretches where the skies were clear and we made progress on drying out.

Nature
and Tech
Fortunately the mileage today was light, as we both stopped for loads of photos and also getting out of the rain. We saw a few moose, but they were only cows, no racks of antlers at this point. The scenery was as amazing as expected- Loads of vistas with snow-capped mountains, green trees, winding roads. One of the stops along the way was another viewing point for the Alyeska pipeline again.

Moose
Despite our having looked at it for days on end, it was still worth pulling over and looking at the information kiosk. As weird as it sounds, this particular viewing point was quite scenic- The pipe routed through a very pretty area.

My mechanical issues were a little more pronounced today than in previous days. On the bright side, the front end squeak that's been driving me nuts made its source known in a rather bold way- It seems that my speedometer cable snapped. It'd have been annoying any other time, but it was a definite relief to know not only what the issue was, but also that it wasn't anything serious. Had it been a bent axle or something like that, it could have been dangerous. My other issue was a little more frustrating, and potentially threatening. My front brake has been losing pressure. This makes it much harder to stop, seeing as 75% of a motorcycle's stopping power comes from the front. At a gas stop, I picked up a bottle of brake fluid, and we'll top it up after dinner. Hopefully there aren't any air bubbles in the line to be worked out.

Interesting
slide area
Our route went east and south of Chatanika, ending westbound on the Denali Highway- Which, as it turns out, is a milestone "prize" as well. It is a spectacular road, fun, beautiful scenery.

Photo of
a photo
We passed Summit Lake, which is still mostly covered with ice. Speaking of summits, it turns out I'll have been over the three highest in Alaska tomorrow. I went over Thompson Pass by Valdez, which is the highest summit that's paved, and the third-highest in the state. We went over Atigun pass twice on the way to and from Prudhoe Bay, which is the highest pass in the state, and it's unpaved. Tomorrow we'll go over MacLaren pass, which is unpaved, and the second-highest pass in Alaska.

We're staying at the Tangle River Inn, a quaint place only 20 mi / 32 km west of the eastern end of the Denali highway. My room is the "Wolf room," which used to be the assay office for the regional mining operations. Somehow it seems only fitting that someone named "Cash" stay in the room where the gold was counted!

Dramatic
cloud
cover
Tomorrow we'll finish the Denali Highway, and should the weather ease up a bit, maybe we'll get a view of Mt. McKinley, or Denali, in the local vernacular. Weather (and enthusiasm) permitting, we might take some side trips which include water crossings.

As we head south, the days are getting shorter, but they're still much longer than they are back home. Tonight's sunset will be at 11:41 pm, and sunrise tomorrow will be at 3:43 am. It occurs that there's no "golden hour" for photography- Since the hour immediately after sunrise and before sunset occur during hours when sleeping, there are no golden glows in the photos!

As with yesterday, the internet connection is quite weak. I'll be lucky to get the text uploaded; The likelihood of getting photos up too is quite slim. I'll do what I can, when I can. We'll be in Cantwell tomorrow, then back to Anchorage on Saturday. I'll try to catch up with photos then.

Total riding distance today: 220 mi / 354 km   Running total: 5524 mi / 8890 km

Stay tuned...

-K

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