May 11, 2003 GMT
18. Alaska - Deadhorse or bust!

Having convinced Rob he may as well go as far north as possible – we set forth like madmen on a mission towards the top of Alaska, aiming to get there before we froze on route.

Of course, nature reminded us who’s the boss, as we were ravaged ( no overstatement ) by the meanest mob of mongrel mosquitos you’ve ever imagined near a place called Dot Lake. The only way to avoid ‘getting bit’ was complete coverage – as Rob demonstrated with his travel accessory I would have normally laughed at…


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Beautiful headware Rob...


En route we were stunned by a performance of the Northern Lights - just awesome to lie back and watch the most amazing show of surreal light dancing across the sky. Not able to catch it on camera – but incredible. The only thing I could compare it to is the image from the movie Solaris starring George Clooney, just a little less colourful.

We continued on through via a town called the North Pole ( couldn’t find Santa though ) – and even got treated to a display from the US Airforce showing off it’s A-10 tank buster planes, impressive trainspotting I can tell you.

Next milestone was camping out at Latitude 66’ Longitude 33’, otherwise known as the Arctic Circle. Very very cold night, and very nearly had a second one as road works blocked the road not two minutes after we’d done our pose….


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Finally made the Arctic Circle - click here for a larger image

Travelling along the Dalton highway really brought it home I was closing in on completing the Pan American proper. The scenery travelling along the Alaskan oil pipeline road had us taking photos like Japanese tourists….


The Alaskan Oil Pipeline
The Alaskan Oil Pipeline, Dalton Highway - click here for a larger image


As we neared Deadhorse, the colder riding conditions made me thank other riders who’d suggested the electric vest, and that we were truly lucky it wasn’t so cold that we’d freeze solid on the bikes. A week or so later it would have been a real mission. Call me soft if you like – but Rob and I both had to stop and thaw out by holding on to our exhaust mufflers and doing ridiculous versions of Jane Fonda’s work out tapes. The reality was out hands were getting so cold ( even me with my heated grips ) that we were losing the ability to control out hands. As the blood returned each time we stopped it was excrutiating…

We made Deadhorse close to dusk , 2nd September – absolutely shattered from out efforts. It’s a mining community servicing the pipeline, and is essentially a network of insulated containers modified into living quarters. Not much to see really, a bit of an anticlimax it has to be said, as since 9/11 the road to Prudhoe bay is closed to the public. STILL, it was pure and distilled satisfaction to reach the Northernmost point of the Panamerican….


I do believe that fat lady is singing!

Just to prove it...



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A very celubrious puff...


To celebrate we booked ourselves into the very expensive accommodation that is the camp, but it promised warm showers, very good ( all you eat food ), and a solid nights sleep. Rob thought about setting up camp in the car park, but I shouted the accommodation seeing as I’d dragged him all the way up there. Bliss !

As we rolled around in luxury, fed, showered and warm ( amazing how the basic things become treats ), we got the word that a bear was molesting our bikes just outside. I grabbed rob in time to see that a police officer was peppering a brown bear with plastic buck shot from his shot gun, and he warned us to stay inside ( doh ! ) until ‘toby’ had left.

Rob had left some bread in one of his panniers – and the bear tossed the bike like salad dressing, leaving Rob a wee momento.


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Lucky you weren't camping outside me thinks !!!


So there you have it – a bear called toby wrestling a BMW R80 – a fitting climax on reaching Deadhorse.


Posted by Jeremy Andrews at 05:09 AM GMT
 


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