The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Sunday, June 24, 2012

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Fairbanks, Alaska

I have been riding with Ron and Les ever since I met them in British Columbia. We had camped in Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory, and then we rode up along the Yukon River to Dawson City, the second largest town in the Yukon Territory.

Not many years ago, the only way to get from Whitehorse to Dawson City was by riding the stern wheeler which is now docked in Whitehorse. Back then, the road did not exist.

The boat ran off wood, and they cut down trees all along the river to feed it. When they built the road we traveled up to Dawson City, they started letting the trees grow back. They are still young, though, and the ride is not all that pretty. There is not a lot to recommend it, at least not compared to all the beauty we have been riding through on the rest of this trip up north.

Dawson City was a rip-roaring town back in gold rush days. Today, it only has about 1200 people. It isn't much of a town, but every year bikers from all over North America descend on the place for the Dust 2 Dawson Rally. When that event happens, the population of Dawson City goes up by hundreds of bikers.  It is kind of a famous event, sponsored by the Adventure Rider "Club" which I happen to belong to.

And there is Odysseus, tucked away among the hundreds of motorcycles lined up on both sides of main street.  Do you suppose this is what the horses once looked like back in the day that cowboys came to town?

I really enjoyed Dust 2 Dawson City.One of my favorite activities was the Poker Run. It was the first time I had ever done something like that. The route of the Run went up gravel roads and across mountains and past mining sites. It was a dusty, fun experience.
Here is one of the stops on the Poker Run. Not all the stops were up in the mountain. This one is actually pretty close to town. Can you see the woman on porch of the brothel. She is waving and welcoming us to town.
And this is at one of the Poker Run stops up in the mountains. I was not very lucky drawing my poker cards, but I was lucky to have met these four guys (Actually, I met them much earlier in British Columbia, but I got reacquainted with them here at Dawson City). They are Bob from Wisconsin, and Kevin, Nick and Rusty from Indiana-- four very fine riders and equally fine friends. They were all riding Dual Sport bikes.
The Dust 2 Dawson Rally was filled with activities to do. At midnight, there were contests on main street (riding straight lines and riding blindfolded and so forth. There was also a huge banquet in the town's hocky rink (which was ice-less at this time of year).
This is Ron and Les at the banquet. The food was excellent, but first we needed to polish off a beer or two.

I had planned to stay at a hotel in Dawson City, but that didn't work out. Forunately, there is a nice campground just across the Yukon River. Bob was camping there too. There is a free ferry that takes vehicles across the river.  I took this picture on the ferry as I was going to my campsite about 11 p.m. one night.


It never gets dark here at this time of year. That makes it a little hard to sleep. Here is a picture I took of my tent in the woods at midnight. I did not use a flash.

People seem to stay awake all night long up here. It is so easy to get your hours mixed up when there are 24 hours of daylight. I wonder what people do in the winter when there are 24 hours of darkness. Hibernate, maybe?

The last of the Dust 2 Dawson activities ended long after midnight on the final day, but I was too much of a wimp to stick with them. I went back, got into my tent, covered up my head to block the light, and went to sleep.

Early in the morning, Kevin, Nick and Rusty came over on the ferry. Robert and I were at the entrance to the campground, waiting for them, and the five of us headed over the mountains across the Top of the World Highway toward Alaska. 
The Top of the World Highway is not actually a highway. It is a gravel road. We rode along with our bikes just a-skittering around under us. It is like trying to ride a fish.  But lookie, lookie------------

Odysseus and I are in Alaska. Hooray!

And now I am in Fairbanks.  I get to sleep in tomorrow morning. I wonder if I will be able to.

More later,