July 29, 2008 GMT
Alaska july 08

Following Blog is for friends, fellow travellers, people in the UK / Europe looking for inspiration and anyone else bored with life.

Alaska - not sure why, but I like it.

Where to start - Anchorage? Flew out from Glasgow with FlyGlobespan - good value at 312GBP for one way ticket to Vancouver. Alaska Airlines up to Anchorage. Got my US Visa stamped for 6months on leaving Vancouver. Slightly confusing, as part of Vancouver airport is US territory (even though Vancouver is in Canada).

Picked up the new bike Tuesday 15th July. Nice and shiny 2008 model Kawasaki KLR 650, Alaska registered. I think this will prove a good choice as time goes on, rather than the BMW 1200GS which many seem to favour. Many thanks to Keith at 'The Motorcycle Shop' in Anchorage for making it possible. It was remarkably easy for those looking to do something similar, with all equipment and luggage fitted and ready to go.

For bike techies, equipment is SW Motech and came from twistedthrottle.com. Boxes are Zarges, from newworldcase.com. All purchased in the states, but available in the UK (All of German origin). I would fully recommend and I think gives a good setup.

Anchorage is a nice town - fairly typically American low rise and spread out. Not great for walking - definately a car (or rather truck) city. But loads of facilities (Wallmart!!) so a good place to start. Being slightly underprepared, this was good in terms of getting camping gear etc together. Being July, lots of daylight also, which is nice. Stayed in the Alaska Adventure Hostel - very friendly, with private rooms at $45 per night.

Initially headed down to Seward, just to get into the bike. About 125miles south of Anchorage. Would have been a nice run had it been dry and warm. Unfortunately wet and cold was to be the norm for the next 10 days - basically all of Alaska. Good news is that my new Held waterproofs (also German I think) are excellent and a great last minute purchase the afternoon before I left home. Have also adopted some guidance from my brother to put plastic carrier bags over my boots - I find Wallmart ones work especially good. I reuse so dont feel bad about wasting the environment.

Seems like everyone here is taking about the weather - they reckon worst summer in 30 years. Oh well!! Lowest temp has been 40deg F - about 5deg C I think. Lots of coffee stops have been in order.

Have also settled nicely into camping. Hotels / B and B's are kind of pricy here - typically from $90 upwards. Fine for a 2-week break, but not for 6 months. Options for camping are 1)side of the road, 2)state park, 3)private park. The side of the road is cheap, but options / facilities limited. Also feel exposed to the wildlife. State parks are good and plentiful, costing $8-12. But no showers. Private is best having everything including lots of people, so at least you feel safe (or safer) and not so exposed. At $20 per night, good value and worth it just to get a shower. Did find a good B and B in Fairbanks, the Front Street B and B (tel 907 452 6523). This offers an "eclectic collection of bizarre art and alaskana", including nanook the polar bear on the roof, all for $45. Well worth a look.

Bike has now covered 2000miles zig zagging around Alaska. Considered the run to Prudhue but stopped short at the Arctic Circle. Have done the Arctic Circle in Scandanavia previously, so seemed to make sense. Word locally suggested that the Dalton highway is great in the dry, but nasty in the wet - something to do with the binder they use to seal the gravel (I think its called mud!!). Based on the weather at the time, another 300miles of nothing, slip sliding along at 20mph wasnt appealing. The forecast of snow at Prudhue also helped nail the coffin shut. Heading south (California?) seemed like a better proposition.

People here are great. Everyone wants to stop and talk - locals and tourista alike. Most inspirational are the cyclist (push bikes, not motorbikes). Stopped with Henri and Elena from Holland / Argentina respectively. They are on a two and a half year mission to cycle from Deadhorse (Prudhue) to Argentina - makes my trip seem really easy by comparison. Also the Swiss couple who have motorcycled from Argentina on their BMW's - good source of info for me.

Some interesting facts:
i. In Alaska, gas (thats petrol) comes from the black pump. Diesel comes from the green. Confusing, but I need to remember that.
ii. Just about every road junction has a STOP sign - why?
iii. If you can afford an RV the size of a bus - do you not think that you could afford to sleep in a hotel? Apparently 10mpg is good perfamance and it costs $350 to fill the tank. God that must hurt!!

Now the 25th July (not sure which day - seem to have lost track). Sitting at Tok Junction, waiting to head for Dawson City and Yukon Territory - Canada.

Photos here - http://cid-cd6e48a90bbe6a6c.spaces.live.com/photos/

Posted by Graham Shee at 09:19 PM GMT
 


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