June 14, 2011

WOW, what a day.  To cut to the quick (for those who don't want to slog through all my rambling) we made it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    The day started with a cold dreary just rained atmosphere.  Uncovered the bikes and the first person walking by is a young girl who said.  Ooo, what a cute little bike. I could almost hear 99's hackles go up but as the key was off she was speechless.  The girl said "I could just hug it"  Unfortunately Charles was there and not being one to pass up an opportunity he immediately said "go ahead and I'll take your picture"  Oh pu-leeze!  Sure enough she did, and he did.  99 bore up well and didn't shed mud all over her, which I thought most charitable.
Charles, taking "Jennifer's" picture hugging 99 and 99 being stoic about the whole thing.

    Before I forget.  I didn't mention that yesterday we passed over the Arctic Circle.  This makes Charles an official Sourdough.  Here is the obligatory photos.  There was no one around except for 14,237,985 mosquitoes all lusting after our blood, so we each took the other's photo.
Charles and Bob becoming mosquito food at the Arctic Circle

Anyone know what this is?  It was behind a log cabin that was once a little museum

Land of the midnight sun.  Charles holds up my watch to show that it's still light at almost 10 to midnight
They knew we were coming.  Actually the corner wasn't that bad (for the Dalton, that is)
Ok - so much for stuff I forgot to include in yesterdays entry.  On with the good stuff that happened today.  Good stuff.......not really.  But we did finally make it. 
    Started out with us having to make reservations to be allowed to take the "Oil Fields Tour" by making our passport numbers available 24 hours in advance.  Must be to make sure we're not going to do anything nefarious to the oil or the Beaufort Sea (Arctic Ocean).  First few miles were paved to lull us into a sense of security.  Then the REAL Dalton took over.  It started to rain again and the road of course got slimy and slippery. 
Scenic photo just before the S... hit the fan. Snow that is.
Soon we noticed fresh snow on the mountain tops. Charles stopped to take a photo just to prove that it was cold enough up there for fresh snow. Little did we know that soon we would be up there and that it was still snowing. On the way up Atigun Pass it started to snow but wasn't sticking to the road. It continued however and soon the entire landscape was covered and so were we. Near the top at 4739 feet it was coming down hard enough that the road was covered in slush with fresh drifting across the road at over 6".

About half way up.  The photo doesn't do justice to the height and steep drop off to the valley below.  You can see the road in the right center extending to the right.
Real exciting to drive in on a mountain road with no guard rails and steep drop offs of over 500 feet on one side and straight up on the other
We got real busy about here and couldn't slow or stop to take more photos of the real heavy stuff as we were concerned (youbetcha) that we may have trouble getting going again. That is muddy slush on the road.  Somewhat slippery.  Then it became just nice white snow.
Once we were down off the pass we stopped to recover our heartbeat a little and to remedy the call of nature that surprisingly seemed to have overcome both of us. When we went to leave 99 all of a sudden quit on the way back to the road.  Turned out that mud had jammed the spring for the kickstand open and when flipped up it fell off as mud jammed in it caused it to become slack.  Miraculously Charles found it in a large gravel area and I was able to lie down in the mud to re-install it and clean it. In actual fact I believe it was just 99 expressing her displeasure at being forced to go through snow and slush.  She's not that kind of girl after all.

The errant spring.  You don't need to know the details of 99's ancestery as suggested while I lay in the mud trying to stretch it back in place.
   So - off again.  Over the next several hours the scenery deteriorated as we entered the costal plains area.  It is also called the North Slope by the Oil and Gas folks.  We saw only Caribou for wildlife which is unusual in this area.
Solitary Caribou on the tundra.  Saw many more in small herds.
About half way we came across this off the side of the road.  No one around.  We had seen this bike yesterday in Coldfoot and it's rider was travelling with a couple of others and left before us.  It is a BMW GS series bike and extremely capable in these conditions and equipped  to the "nines".  There was no one around as we searched in the underbrush and tundra for a body.  No one. Interestingly there is no sign on the road as to why he went off.  Just the tire track veering towards the drop off and no signs of even heavy brake usage.
It's hard to see from these photos but it stopped rather abruptly at a trough of rock and it would appear that it won't be going anywhere soon - if ever - after they drag it up to the road again.  No idea what happened to the rider but all of his gear was still on it or scattered around.
Unfortunately there was nothing more we could do so we carried on in a somewhat somber mood. EDIT: found out later that they air evacuated the rider and he was still alive.  No other info. The remainder of the trip was simply a long 25 to 30 mph (real scary fast under the circumstances) slog to Deadhorse.  The trip took over 9 hours to go 255 miles.  Every one of those miles was, it seemed, earned the hard way.  Slow and steady persistence overcame the rain and cold.  It paid off with the wonderful sight of civilization again as we neared Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay)
You may not believe this but it IS a glorious sight.  It had finally stopped raining but the temp was about 2 deg. above freezing.
We arrived and it took some time to find a source of fuel as things here are not like a town at all.  It is strictly an oil field "camp"  There is no provision at all for tourism and everything is geared towards the workers who are hear on a rotational basis of a few months on then off again.

Bob gets the all important "clock stopper receipt by getting gas and a receipt showing the date, location, fuel amount and time.  Good thing all were on this receipt as it is an unmanned "cardlock" type of station.
After getting the clock stopped we went to our hotel and checked in for the night.  $110.00 per person, but it includes a real good buffet with everything else you could imagine and even allows take outs.
  So it's 12:26 and it's been a long day.  Suffice to say it has been an interesting one.  Charles said he wanted an adventure.  Tonight he's not so sure, and I've never liked adventures. I like to plan around the "adventure" part. Sometimes however you just have to take what happens.
   If this entry has spelling and grammar errors you can email me.  Tomorrow please.
Goodnight oops, there is no night as it is broad daylight outside.
from beautiful (in the eye of the beholder) downtown Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse)

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