July 08, 2003 GMT
The Bike Arrives and I Head North

At last my bike arrives in Anchorage. Have had a good time hanging around Girdwood. Lots to do, I have even been initiated into the way of guns. My friend Chuck took me out with an arsenal of weaponry that we fired at targets. Very enlightening and real good fun. My shoulder still pangs me 5 days after it! After a day on preparation I hit the highway bound for the most norhterly accessable point by road, Deadhorse in Prudhoe Bay. One hell of a ride to one hell hole of a place is the best way to sum it up. (am trying to work out how to post pictures onto the site, coming soon bear with me. Technology never was my strong point!!!)

I finally left Girdwood my home for the last two weeks to rain that even the English wouldn't have gone out in. Good test of rider and gear. Headed up to Talkeetna which is where all the would be Mt McKinley climbers hang out, or so they say, cos I saw none of these dudes whilst in town. Carried on north past Denali Nat Park and to be honest saw nothing but rain, will see it I am sure when I am headed south again. The distances here are long and the butt suffers substantially. Made the Dalton Highway at midnight but up here that is cool as it doesn,t get dark. The Dalton seems to have a bit of a reputation as a boneshaker full of huge trucks screaming down and up it. The road is 414 miles to the top, mostly dirt of varying degrees of quality. The longest section is the top one from Coldfoot to Deadhorse, 240 miles of dirt with no services and only the Trans Alaska oil pipeline to keep you company. The ride was superb, no hassles with trucks just loads of top quality scenery and fantastic riding. The idea of riding 250 miles above the Arctic Circle has a certain appeal. The scenery goes from rolling hills to the mountains of the Brooks Range to the North Slope which is a huge expanse of tundra. Plenty of wildlife to see, Bald Eagles, Arctic Caribou, Arctic Fox and more mosquitoes than ever. 50 around you head at any given time is not uncommon! Still no bears I am disapointed to say. (seen from a healthy distance of course) When I fianlly made it the to Deadhorse I was a little surprised at what a hole it is. Nobody lives there, they all just work the oil fields. Nowhere is there anything but plant and oil drilling machinery. I did however get to swim in the Arctic Sea and get a view of the polar ice cap.
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I have come as far north as I can get, now just have to cruise on through south to Tierra del Feugo! Now Back down in Fairbanks for R & R then back up north for some more dirt roads.

Posted by Peter Slarke at 02:21 AM GMT
July 26, 2003 GMT
Gone bush and back, got a fish and got me a woman!

You click into first and pull away. You have 20 tunes lined up on your MP3 player. Fifty miles into the dirt road leaves you with 40 more to go to the small town and gas station. The sun is blazing down, very few other people are on the road. The road starts to climb from the valley full of Spruce trees towards Eagle Summit Pass, the highest point on the road. The scenery and sky is getting bigger and bigger as you leave the tree line behind. When you arrive at the summit the vista is too good just to ride through so you stop to take it in, thinking of the cold beer you will have when you reach the town. Have you started packing your bags yet to come and join me? Only 400 quid for a one way ticket!

I arrived in the town I was headed for, Central after a blast to go see the Yukon River again. Hit the 1 bar in town, as this was the place to get the lowdown on things from the locals. Ended up being offered a room in a closed down hotel with a real bed in it. Offer too good to refuse and an excellent chance to meet the locals and find out what Central was all about. Even thought the bar was closed it was still a meeting point for lots of folks. In Central the only legit way to earn a crust is goldmining, and this bears no resemblance to a man by a stream sifting the contents of a bucket. We are talking BIG machinery to dig and shift dirt. Ron who adopted me for my stay in the town took me to see how it was done. 12 hours a day in a digger aint my idea of fun but it makes money. On our way back from the mine we went and played with some toys. I had selected 3 out of the 25+ guns in Rons cabin and I was off fulfilling my Clint Eastwood aspirations again. Good fun but wouldn't want to get to the point of sleeping with my gun like these guys do. I can think of a lot better things to share my bed with!

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I hung out in town for 5 days, and then decided to hit the raod to go south. Central is the most isolated non-native community up here and it has a lawless feel to it. No Cops for 125 miles and 1 road in. These guys are tough cos you have to be to make it there. They were however super hospitable. Would recomend anyone goes there, if you do go find Ron X and then enjoy your stay.
Back in Fairbanks I got adopted yet again by Arron and Treena. They had just been to Sth America in a 4WD. Great to be fed a real meal and get the lowdown on the road south. Folk over here have really surprissed me with their hospitality and interest in strangers. Wouldnt/doesnt happen like that back in good old blighty I am sorry to say.
Back in Anchorage I hooked up with a Pom who had just climbed Denali and in my new mode of transport, a Subaru sports car (courtesy of my saviour Chuck) we cruised down to the Kenai River for 3 days of Sport Fishing. I have read that it is an activity that is wholesome and ideologically correct for vegetarians to partake in. Anyway stuff your morals, the chance of catching and eating a monster Alaskan Salmon was too good to miss. The first evening resulted in no salmon but we did see a big Grisly Bear feed straight across the river from us. Very cool to say the least. The rest of the trip resulted in us landing about 35 fish between us, three of which we kept to eat. These fish are not small by any count, most are over a foot long and average weight is about 8-10 pounds. They put up one hell of a fight on the line which of course morally I didn't enjoy one bit! I then cruised back to Girdwood for a very exciting event, yup I went and picked Jess up at the airport. For six weeks I have the company of the other half, and she gets the pleasure of sharing the arse numbing seat of my bike.

Posted by Peter Slarke at 02:59 AM GMT
 


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