June 13, 2011

Day 9  Written and saved as no internet connection.  Sent after arriving at Deadhorse.

Another unique day. Left Tok at about 7 (late for us) on the Alkan towards the end of the Alaska Highway in Fairbanks. Lots of terrific scenery along the way. Unfortunately my heated vest stopped working again. Fiddled with it and got it going again. Brrrrrr! Saw two moose but they ran away and were not a threat. Only close call was a kamakazi ground squirrel that couldn’t make up it’s mind and darted back and forth across the road missing 99 and the Old Girl by inches. Quite funny from an observers point of view. Arrived at Fairbanks which is actually a quite large and cosmopolitan city. It has two freeways - although no traffic. Replentished our supply of Cliff Bars at a local grocery. Checked over the bikes, got gas and headed out to the Elliot Hwy. north. This road is about 50 miles of twisty curvey road that runs up to the start of the Dalton hwy. By the time we got to the Dalton it was raining heavily with little tiny hail. OH JOY. Anyone who has been on a high arctic road will tell you that everything is fine .... unless it rains. The first 10 miles of the Dalton were a mud bath. The bikes now look all brown with caked and hardened mud. Just before we actually started up the Dalton we stopped at a pull off to fiddle with my electrics some more and a fellow came in with a Honda ST1300 motorcycle covered in mud He had started up the Dalton and went down in the mud. He said it was slippery as ice. He was abandoning his ride and returning to Fairbanks (?) I think he was emotionally shook up and decided he and the Dalton were not compatable. A very wise decision. Lots of people just push on and come to grief because of lack of sense enough to quit while the quitting is good. We plodded on and sure enough encountered lots of very slippery mud. The secret to conquering this situation is to simply go slow. So we did and after about 10 miles of this it became hard packed dirt with pea gravel on it. Still wet and slippery but not the wheel grabbing kind. Our information was that the portion of the road to Coldfoot was paved. NOT! The pavement is intermittent with none lasting more than 10 miles or so except for the final 25 miles into Coldfoot. Surprisingly we saw no critters of any kind. They are obviously smarter than us and stayed in out of the rain. I would estimate that it rained about half of the time. Lots of big black clouds always hovering but we missed a lot or only got some of the showers.

We arrived in Coldfoot and stopped at a very elaborate tourist bureau (regional) and found a truck stop/restaurant/motel just off of the highway. Coldfoot is very small with a local population of about 30 - 40 in total. Checked in to our $200.00 room and you can see from the photos that it wasn’t exactly the Ritz.

Our $200.00 room.  Note the natural finish chipboard.  Stylish, don't you think?

Fine art at the Inn at Coldfoot/Trucker's Cafe
Walls of bare chipboard and the size of a large closet with no actual closet. Wow - it was lovely and a great place to be after the day we’ve had. Lots of other biks with their tales to tell. Interesting people in these places. Some wealthy some not. but all on an ”adventure”.

Some of the other bikes on the way up and down the Dalton.  The old girl and 99 in the foreground.
Dinner was $20.00 for all you could eat smorgasborg. Really not a bad one with lots of fresh vegetables etc at the salad bar. When you consider that everything here had to come up the highway in trucks it is a bargain.

No more pavement tomorrow. Oh did I mention that people coming down from the north said it snowed heavily this morning when they were leaving Deadhorse! We estimate 7 - 8 hours to cover the 240 miles to Deadhorse from here in Coldfoot. there is no services between the two so we have to be fully gassed up and will use both the main tanks and the fuel cells. Here’s hoping for good weather.



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