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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Good Morning from Fairbanks, Alaska

I am still riding with the Indiana/Wisconsin guys. We wanted to go up the Haul Road (Also known as the Depster Highway). It is the one made famous in the Ice Road Trucker TV shows.  It has a reputation for being very hard, so first I had to get new tires for Odysseus. My old tires were worn bare.

I bought my tires at the Harley shop. They won't work on a Suzuki, but they would sell me tires and mount them on the wheel if I would take them off the bike. The other guys did most of the work. Odysseus looks a little strange here with no legs.

But soon we were on the road again, and before long, just north of Fairbanks, we reached the Arctic Circle.

Of course, we stopped and took each others pictures. This one may have to go in a frame and get hung on a wall at home.

The road is dusty and broken in places, rocky in other places, but paved and nice quite often. They don't like this dust, so they run water trucks up and down the road. This turns it into slime which is slick as goose droppings on a hot griddle. The dust coated our bikes and turned into a solid, rock-like substance. And when it rained or when they watered the road, we would slip and slide all over ther place. You just have to let the bike squirm around underneath you and go with the flow. It doesn't do to try and fight it.

After awhile, we had to go up and over the rugged Brooks Mountain Chain. It got foggy and misty up there, and it was hard riding with water and dust over the visor of the helmet, and the road all slick and broken. I dropped down out of the fog once, and right there in front of me was a big mama moose with her young calf. Quite impressive (but moose are not very pretty, I hate to say).

When we dropped down out of the mountains, we were in the famous North Slope -- famous because it is here that they drill for all the oil.

It is cold and frozen up therer on the North Slope, all tundra and Caribou and musk oxen (which did not put in an appearance for us), and tons of mosquitoes (which did apperar in hungry clouds). It is pretty though. The big caribou herd (thousands of animals) is due to arrive next week. They will have missed us. I bet they will be sorry about that.

The gas stations are far apart. We stopped and topped off each time we came to one. Notice the price: $5.39 a gallon. They take all that oil from up there, pump it to Valdez. Truck it to a refinery. Then truck the gas back up the Haul Road to the few gas stations like this one. Whew!

They work on the road all the time. I didn't enjoy standing in the mosquitoes waiting our turn to drive through the rocky, torn-up road. It was quite a challenge.

But after a day and a half or riding, we reached the great industrial complex of Prudhoe Bay. Quite a place it is. Oil well companies every where. They showed us where the oil enters the pipeline. Here I am in this picture standing in the Arctic Ocean.

About that time, my bike got so it wouldn't shift anymore. I had to get it fixed, but I had to do that back in Fairbanks, 500 miles away. So, I got up early in the morning, leaving the other guys in their soft beds, and started my slow, lonely trip back.

Once back in Fairbanks, I went immediately to the Suzuki dealership. Both Odysseus and I were filthy dirty, but the guys in the dealership dropped everything to help us out. In less than an hour, they had fixed my shifter, put on new brake pads, tightened all the bolts and replaced those things that had fallen off on the haul road, and changed my oil.  All for $125.00. I couldn't believe it. I am so appreciative.

Some friends of friends, Phillip and Josie, had been kind enough to store a bunch of our gear for us as we rode the Haul Road. When the Indiana riders finally caught up with me, we went to Phillip's and Josie's home to retrive our gear. Surprise, they had a fantastic meal of caribou appetizers, spaghetti, and moose meatballs waiting for us. What great people.

So, after a good nights sleep, I am typing this, doing some laundry, and getting ready to head for Denali. The sun is coming out. Should be a good day. 

More later,