Wed, 6/24, Day 12, 484 km/296 miles, Eagle Plains to Arctic Circle to Dawson
Ate breakfast at EP - show service. Didnít get on the road till about 9am - had started drizzle by then. Rode north to the Arctic Circle monument, took photos and headed south Then road from EP to AC looked very slippery - did not test it. Drizzle continued for about half the way back with a couple of showers. Saw another fox - this one seemed bigger. He was starting to cross the road and then darted back into the bushes. Road was in good shape - a couple of places they were grading - no problems. Was zipping along on the lower half. At one point I let a faster truck go by. His dust just hung over the road, trapped between the trees on both sides. There was no breeze to clear it out. Did the car wash at the junction and got most of the mud off. Checked into the campground and had dinner at Klondike Kateís with the same folks I had had dinner and breakfast with in Eagle Plains.
Thursday, 6/25, Day 13, 0 miles Dawson
Found Les and made arrangements to share his room. Checked out of the campground and moved. Went shopping and to museums. Checked out the locomotives for the RR in Dawson. It serviced the mines but did not go anywhere else. No train from Whitehorse - just riverboats. They must have brought the locomotives on the paddlewheelers! Quite a feat, thinking about how much freight the boats must have hauled - all of the rolling stock and rails, the machinery for the dredges, and supplies for the town folk - Dawson was a regular Victorian town from 1900 till 1910 plus. There were at least 4 dredges in Dawson; I read that there were 37 dredges in the Yukon. Lousey lunch. Great dinner at the Greek restaurant. Had lamb chops - marinated and grilled - absolutely wonderful. Our waitress was from Buenos Aires - she didnít know how to tango but she bellydances at the restaurant Fri & Sat evenings. Tomorrow there will be a poker run, banquet and motorcycle games/contests.
Friday, 6/26, Day 14, Dawson
Sure glad Iím not camping out right now. Cold and totally overcast when I woke up. Itís been raining for the past hour or two. Iím at an internet cafe, catching up on this blog, uploading photos and checking email.
Written several days later: I was cold when I was done - the door was open and I was next to the door. Almost didnít go on the D2D poker run because I was cold but realized that 1) my heated vest would warm me up and 2) I had wanted to ride the route that the poker run was taking and I wouldnít have any other time to do it. So I got signed up at the last minute and was running last thru the check points. The route went up Bonanza Creek to Dredge #4 - didnít have enough time to look it over - and up over King Solomonís Dome, back toward Dawson, Up Midnight Dome, and to a Ďsecretí place in town - identified only by GPS coordinates. Had a lousy poker hand; AK9762. About 120 at the D2D banquet, good steaks and veggie burgers for us veggies. Lots of raffle prizes - I won a $20 gift certificate at a motorcycle shop in Anchorage; I guess Iíll have to stop and spend it. Some awards and some laughs.Furtherest distance award went to a young man from Croatia - 19 years old - traveling around the world, solo. After dinner was motorcycle games in front of the Downtown Hotel: slow race, blindfold stop, cone weave and ball-in-the-bucket. Two up - balloon toss and wiener bite. Some good bike handling and lots of laughs - I just watched. Several of the Ďlocalí girls volunteered for the two-up events. At midnight was the posting (awarding) of D2D fender stickers. Finally to bed at 1am. I had bought a new watch just before the trip; one with large digits, a light so you can read it in the dark, an alarm and a timer. Itís been really helpful; because you cannoy sense the time from the sun - because itís always light.
Sat, 6/27, Day 15, Dawson to Tok, 189 miles/ 300 km
Sky was clear this morning when I got up, and when I left town about 8:30. By the time I had crossed the Yukon on the ferry and and had gotten 10 miles up the Top of the World Highway it was totally clouded over. The road is dirt from the ferry to just past Chicken, Alaska. Some sprinkles and wet road to Chicken - some slippery sections. Fog at the top, at the border crossing, for more than ten miles. Stopped in Chicken for lunch and to buy a shirt. The special was BBQ chicken - it was pretty good. Sun was shining so I ate my lunch outside. Overall it was a cold ride; 35 deg to 42 deg. Mostly pavement after Chicken - wet and cold - I donít think I saw 50 deg. Had been planning to camp - got a room at Youngís Motel and ate dinner at Fast Eddyís - highly recommended by other motorcyclists - there were at least a dozen there that night. Going to bed early.
Sun, 6/28, Day 16, Tok to Brushkana CG, Denali Hwy, 285 miles.
Went to bed about 8, got up at 7 - needed that sleep. On th road at 9 - 50 deg and dry, cloudy. Got to partly cloudy and 58 deg. Took the Tok Cutoff toward Anchorage and then turned north on the Richardson Hwy to Paxton. Got a good photo of two moose grazing next to the highway. Many amazing vistas with snow capped mountains - treeline and snowline about halfway up. Pulled up to the gas pump at Paxton and surprise - no gas. The low fuel light had been on for twenty miles already. Found out that the closest fuel was twenty miles in the direction that I was traveling. The bikeís computer was predicting that I had 23 miles to go before I ran out. So after I had some lunch I headed up the Denali Hwy - fortunately the first 21 miles are paved. I took it easy on the throttle, watched the fuel usage readout on the computer, and applied my fuel minimization theories. I was sweating it. Got to Tangle Lakes Resort and filled up. It took 3.9 gallons - the tank holds 4.2 gallons. I know that I cannot count on that extra 3 tenths. Also formulated a new rule: Figure out where the next gas stop for a full tank would be, and then fill up at the stop before. The road then turned to dirt - pretty good but lots of small potholes - probably would have been miserable in a car. Then it started to rain - afternoon shower - light rain but enough to get the road wet, and slippery in spots. Stopped at the campground at mile 105 of the Denali @ 5:45, was tired, CG had been recommended by other m/cs. Some mosquitos - not bad - the breeze is keeping them away. After yesterdayís ride I was a bit discouraged by the weather - even wondered if I should cut the trip short. This morningís ride made me feel much better - but I will check the weather report before heading to Deadhorse. When I checked it last night it looked favorable.
June 29, Day 17 Brushkana CG to Fairbanks, 285 miles
Good ride finishing the Denali Hwy - view of mountains to the west - the tops were in the clouds - I suspect it was Mt McKinley. Rode into Denali Park as far as allowed. The mountain was in the clouds; they were so low that couldnít be sure where the mountain was. Saw several rabbits by the road. Stopped and asked a tour bus driver what they were stopped for. He pointed out the caribou - I would not have seen them without his helf - perhaps a quarter mile away. As I rode north from the park the clouds started breaking up, and it started warming up - partly cloudy & 60 deg by 50 miles north of Denali, and 68 deg in Fairbanks. I think Iíve seen 60 deg only once this trip. Forecast for Fairbanks is mid 70s for the next 5 days and partly cloudy with possible afternoon showers. Road report is ďfairĒ, no problems. Checked out the HD/BMW dealer - not impressed - and the Kawasaki dealer - better. Staying tonight with Alanís folks - they took me to dinner and showed me the University on the way home. i know where the dorm is, for future reference.
6/30, Day 18, Fairbanks to Coldfoot plus 5 miles to Marion Creek CG, 274 miles.
The weather today was like I had been expecting for the whole trip - Hurrah! 50 deg and clear sky when I started, soon it was up to 60 deg. Afternoon was partly cloudy and low 60s. The sun was so warm that I had to sit in the shade to eat my dinner. Itís now 7:30 and 73 deg & almost too warm sitting in the sun. The is very good. The first 87 miles from Fairbanks is the Elloit Highway and is paved - I knew that. What I was not expecting. What I was not expecting was more pavement. There was 12 miles that was quite lumpy - the dirt was better. For 85 miles into Coldfoot was good pavement. Thereís 27 miles of pavement north of here - Iíve been told that it has lots of bad potholes - donít hurry thru it. The dirt is well graded, packed, treated and smooth. Speed limit is 50 mph - I usually run about 45 - a motorcycle could go 60 or 70 if so inclined. Great vistas, no wildlife. Should see caribou tomorrow. My GPS thinks it is nightime - it has changed to night display and I cannot read it. I think this happened about the time I crossed the Arctic Circle. Fortunately I have the ownerís manual on my computer - found the settings and fixed it! (edit: it stays fixed for a couple of minutes and then goes dark - past 0% darkness to ď__Ē. Bah!) Itís almost impossible to use this computer outdoors - the reflective glass on the screen makes it very difficult to read. I have visited several times with a French couple several campsites away. They are traveling by motorcycle, he does not speak English, she speaks a little. Conversation is difficult, but an interesting challenge - for me anyway. I think my few French words were of some help. Set up my tent on a platform - trex boards - no stakes, the rainfly stretched out to rocks. Hopefully itís better than sleeping on gravel. Iím 80 road miles north of the Arctic Circle. Too many mountains around to verify that the sun doesnít set; maybe tomorrow night at Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay.
7/1, Day 19, Marion Creek CG to Mile Post 374, 194 miles. 40 miles south of Deadhorse.
Another beautiful day. Lots of steep hills, with extra steep sections at the bottom. Saw a group of Dall sheep as I was climbing Atigun Pass. Very steep pass; probably steeper than most jeep roads in Colorado, but well graded dirt. Did not see any caribou or muskox - probably wasnít looking hard enough in the distance. Vast vistas - at one point I think I was seeing all the way to the Arctic Ocean - but probably wasnít.
Begin Part 2 of the journey:
Suddenly I was in loose gravel 4 inches deep and the front wheel was doing a tank slapper. Then I was down and my right shoulder blade and back was killing me. My guess is that I did a tuck-and-roll, landing on my right shoulder blade. Almost immediately there were two guys there helping me; they may have even seen me fall. They stood up my bike, helped me gather my valuables and transported me to Pump Station 2 where they thought there was a first aid station. There wasnít, but guard called for an ambulance and a helicopter. It was probably an hour of bad pain before they arrived. After some good drugs they took me by chopper to Prudhoe Bay. The hospital there took xrays and talked about putting in a chest tube but didnít have good enough xrays and not enough time before the med-evac jet would be there to take me to Anchorage. They flew me in a Lear Jet - smooth ride - to Anchorage Providence Hospital. There they took xrays and cat-scans, and determined I had broken ribs, right side, broken left thumb, and a partially collapsed right lung. They installed a chest tube and gave me ďon demandĒ pain killer. Many thanks to Doug from Alaska Leather who brought me a charger for my cell phone. I had bought a policy from MedjetAssist which provides transportation from hospital to home hospital in cases like this. They picked me up at the hospital in Anchorage about 6pm Friday 7/3 and delivered me to Longmont United Hospital about 4am on Saturday. LearJet 360. More xrays and cat-scans. Changed the chest tube: pain 14 on a 1-10 scale. Had trouble sleeping because on a rash, at first on my chest, back, and arms, but later all over. The rash didnít itch but would flush, making me very warm and causing me to sweat profusely. About the time that I was fully drenched the flushing would stop so my body would cool down plus the sweat would cool me off and soon I would be cold and shivering. Cover me up and program would repeat. Finally got better Wed am. They pulled all of tubes and sent me home Thur 7/9, morning. Getting better every day. Many thanks to Les, who I had met in Hyder, Alaska, and many other places along the trip. He paid cash to get my bike towed to Deadhorse and spent extra time to make sure it happened. My MedjetAssist coverage includes shipping my bike home so it should be here in a couple of weeks. Iím now resting at home, getting better each day. Iíve loaded some more photos to the album:
August 18, 2009 Progress report
It will be seven weeks tomorrow since my crash; I have made good progress.
Several weeks ago I went to ibuprofen only for pain relief; now I don't need it til late in the day. My ribs don't hurt when I get up in the morning though by the end of the day they may if I've been on my feet a lot. And they don't hurt when I sneeze, at least not any more than before the accident.
The cast came off and the pin came out of my thumb yesterday. I have a very small range of motion for my thumb - I start PT Thursday.
My bike is back and at the dealer for repair estimate - much higher than my guess. Mostly scratches but these items will have to be replaced: Panniers, rear subframe, front brake lever assembly, mirrors, turn signal, and windscreen.
Here are two photos taken before the bike was transported to Deadhorse.