Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Uraling in Alaska - Day 51: A Ride in Ketchikan


Mellow day of riding the ferry today.  Used the ship's laundry facility/shower room to cleanse both myself and my clothes in the morning, a leisurely lunch and then spent the first part of the afternoon reading a book.  Tough travel conditions, I know.

 Mount Edgecombe, an extinct volcano

Here's some of the photos I've taken of the scenery available to one when traveling the inner passage by ferry.  We've apparently been sailing under incredibly unusual and nice weather conditions.  Southeast Alaska apparently is known for its rainy conditions instead.

Here's also a couple of pictures of Bruce and our rigs during a stop in the ferry stop before ketchikan.  It was a brief stop so I didn't go ashore to take pictures.

The plan when we arrive at Ketchikan at 3:30 PM today, is for me to ride Bruce's rig to his nearby home so I can report how it feels to me.  I am, the only other URAL rider he's met and for some reason, he wants my opinion.  He'll then bring me back to the ferry before it departs after we visit for a while at his house near the ferry terminal.

Typing this now at Bruce's place, nice log cabin by the water, about 11 miles from the Ferry Terminal in Ketchikan.  His rig rides nice!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Uraling in Alaska - Day 50: Ferry Ride Day 1

We boarded the Haines-Bellingham Ferry last night starting at 11:15 PM.  Interesting process for the most part, especially watching the tractor-trailer driver deftly maneuver the cargo rigs into the ferry's hold with no issues and quite fast I must say.

First though, a picture of Deb and Gary in front of the Hammer Museum in Haines, as we all waited for the time to head over to the ferry terminal.

Deb and Gary at the Hammer Museum

 Martha says I need to diversify in terms of photo subjects, so here you go.
The harbor in Haines

Flowers near the Hammer Museum

I was in line by 8:00 PM I think, I used the time to drain the remaining gas in the spare gas cans into the main tank and otherwise clean up the packing  setup on the rig.  The ferry folks were having "issues" getting the lights in the parking light to come on, so most of the loading was done in the dark.

A tractor trailer being backed into the car deck of the M/V Columbia

Finally, it was our turn to board and all five of the motorcycles in line got parked on the forward end of the ship, on the port side.

The bikes being secured to the deck

I had to dismount my spare gas cans, even though they were empty, and store them in the ship's paint locker; otherwise no issues and since Valencia is a sidecar rig, I didn't have to tie her down like the two-wheeled motorcycles were.  I found my way upstairs to the Solarium deck and walked into a darkened area with manyl lounge chairs deployed with folks already sleeping in their sleeping bags.

I found an open corner spot next to one of the doors leading back down and set up a spare lounge chair with my own sleeping bag.  I crashed quickly and it was nice and warm through the rest of the early morning while we steamed towards Juneau.

Around 5:45, I was awakened by the ship's P.A. announcing arrival at was of course already quite bright out so after debating it for a bit, decided to get up and go find the head.  That took a bit but finally found it two decks below the solarium.

Breakfast was with Gary, Deb and another rider we met yesterday in Haines, David (KLR650) in the ship's Dining Room.  The food was good though the waitress got my order wrong, oh well.

 The sleeping area I staked out for myself

 The view forward
Back or Aft

As to the scenery one can see while on the ferry cruising the inland passage, it's pretty but so far, not very photogenic to my jaded eyes.  Lots of forested terrain, with very small amounts of snow at the tops of far off mountain peaks.

It doesn't take long to explore the whole ferry, while searching for accessible power outlets to charge one's devices.

There's even a small movie theater where folks have decided to camp out with their sleep gear, pretty sure the gear is supposed to be "stowed" during daylight hours but the policy is not enforced that I can see.

The first car deck call came along as I was relaxing on my lounge chair, reading a book.  This is when passengers can go down into the car decks and access their vehicles, take care of pets, etc.  I ran into one of the ship stewards by Valencia as I was retrieving my laptop and he mentioned there was a blue and white URAL rig on the opposite end of the ship!

Of course, I headed over there and found the rig:

Bruce's Rig

Jeff, one of Bruce's riding buddies was getting gear out of his Harley Davidson and he and I talked.  Jeff then led me over to where Bruce was on the forward observation deck and we spent the rest of the morning and lunch talking about our rigs and getting to know each other a little bit.

Bruce's rig is a 2011 model like mine, he bought it second hand from Jim of Raceway Services.  Kind of sad story actually, the rig had been originally bought by a rider suffering from leukemia, and that rider had been having Raceway Services outfit it special for him to ride as part of a bucket list.  Unfortunately, the poor fellow passed away shortly before the rig was ready for delivery.  The widow didn't want the rig around, had Jim sell it for her and that's how it ended up in Bruce's hands via a craigslist sale.

Bruce lives in Ketchikan, Alaska and with a varied background in education, is now a commercial fisherman specializing in Salmon I believe.  His rig's name is Baby Blue.  Bruce is a former medic with the US Army, and he wanted me to mention here for Martha: He was a 91C Super C.

What are the odds right?  Two URALs on the same Alaskan Ferry, on the same trip?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Uraling in Alaska - Day 49: Haines Junction, YT to Haines, AK

Shortly before 10:00 AM, Valencia and I motored away from Haines Junction.  Deb and Gary would not be far behind me.

A couple of  pictures of  Haines Junction from last evening.

Mount Martha Black, today.

Mount Martha Black back on April 21

I didn't make much fast progress away from town, the scenery starts almost immediately and demands that one stop and take pictures.

 Looking back towards Haines Junction

 Note the swirl patterns made by the snow that remains unmelted

I made a brief stop at Lake Kathleen, nice spot for picnics, one is surrounded by mountain peaks and the lake itself is quite nice.

 Near Lake Kathleen on the Haines Highway

Lake Kathleen

Following are shots of mountain views taken while still cruising through the Yukon Territory portion of the Haines Highway,  I remember thinking how nice and pretty things were....that it couldn't get much wrong I was.

The scenery got even more awesome as I crossed into British Columbia.  The road though, which had been mostly smooth as glass from Haines, turned into standard bumpy Canadian/Alaskan chip seal road.

 Things also got more snow-covered as Valencia and I approached the 
Haines Highway Summit

 My favorite mountains of today's ride.

 The mountain is located next to the Three Guardsmen Lake

Looking south at more mountains.

The mountain scenery kind of ended just before we reached the US/Canadian border.  Once we were through customs, the view was of forested highway and the Chilkat River.  I elected to stop at the Chilkat Eagle Preserve's first turnout parking lot to shed some layers.  Minutes later, Deb and Gary showed up as well and we made rendezvous.

The warm temperatures were something Bob and Deb were not used to,
being Anchorage residents and all. 

Break over, we headed in for the last 24 miles or so to Haines.  We arrived and after tanking up, cruised through town in search of a wifi spot.  We finally went to the town's visitor center and were pointed at the "Bamboo Room" as the only place probably open for meals with wifi.

The Bamboo Room turned out to have great burgers/food and fast wifi, which is what I am using to do this posting.  Deb and Gary went for a walk while I worked on this posting.

The ferry doesn't allow boarding until around 11:15 PM I think, so we have time to kill. We'll probably explore the vicinity of the Hammer Museum, and then just hang out at a nearby state park close to the Ferry Terminal.

Hope you liked the pictures, I'd stack up the mountain scenery along the Haines Highway against any other the scenery of any other highway I've ridden in my life.  It's definitely a road that should be on any motorcyclist's bucket list.

No wifi on the ferry so probably no postings from me for the next few days.  The ferry arrives in Bellingham, WA Friday morning of this week so that's when postings will resume I guess.  Y'all can still track me via the spotme/spotwall links located at the upper right corner of the blog of course.

Here's pictures of my tires, not much left.  I thought I'd be cutting it kind of close, but you can see I had plenty to get me to Haines, and once in the lower 48, to Everett where new tires await me.

 Front Tire (16,463 km and counting - 9877 miles)

 Sidecar Tire (18,159 km and counting - 10,895 miles)

The "new" pusher, with perhaps 2000 km on it, probably a bit less.

Valencia's gone over 14,100 kilometers (8640 miles) since we left Centennial
for Flagstaff, Arizona....seemingly a long time ago.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Uraling out of Alaska - Day 48: Haines Junction

Deb, Gary and I motored out of the small town of Tok shortly before 10:00 AM after breakfasting at Fast Eddie's Diner.  The plan was that they'd ride together and I'd ride my own ride, basically expecting to hop scotch each other as we collectively made our way to Haines Junction in the Yukon Territory of Canada.

90 miles or so later, after all of us surviving the really bad road conditions in the stretch of 20 miles between the US and Canadian Customs checkpoints, we were in Canada with no fuss.

 The initially overcast skies would turn into bright blue ones with lots of sun and warmth.

Gary and Deb, paying the first $6/gallon tank of gas.....I had
tanked up just before leaving Alaska so was able to delay this cost till 
I got to Destruction Bay.

The road to Haines Junction was as bad as I remembered it, lots of frost heaves, potholes, badly repaired/patched sections of really have to pay attention or risk losing a wheel to a big pothole!

Saw several motorcycles heading towards Alaska, doubtlessly starting their own Alaskan adventure as mine was winding down.  I found the scenery not as magical as when I transited this same stretch of road last month when there was more snow on the mountains.  LINK to last month's post.

Still, though the mountains only wore the tattered remnants of what used to be glorious coats of snow, there was scenery to be had when the light was right.


 April 21
 May 26

After tanking up at Destruction Bay, I tried to shoot pictures from the same spots where I had posed Valencia before when there was more snow on the nearby mountain peaks.  I didn't find the area as beautiful as when clad with snow, what can I say, I guess I am bent that way!  :)

 That's not dust, that was like a cold fog being blown from one of the inlets

April 21
 May 26


April 21
May 26

View of Destruction Bay

Haines Junction is about 108 Kilometers south of Destruction Bay.  The road is quite nice at this point and as one gets closer to Haines Junction, a new set of mountains present themselves for one's viewing enjoyment, below are parts of the Saint Elias Mountain Range I think.

I would end up getting to Haines Junction a bit later than Gary and Deb did.  They found the Parkside Hotel and I got myself a room next to them.  It's a small hotel, with luxury suites.  Very nice, a bit pricey, but very nice.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon in town, hardly anyone on the streets.  The first place we tried for dinner though had been pretty much cleaned out by customers who'd just come from a beer fest.  Not much in the way of choices so we wandered over to the town's "fast food" joint: Frosty's.  Burgers were ordered all around and they were pretty good!

Back to the hotel we went, a late start is planned for tomorrow as we've plenty of time to cover the 156 miles to Haines, Alaska.  The hotel owners recommended a couple of spots to check out along the way, we'll see what we find I guess.

Good day of riding, Valencia did great, even when being hit by strong headwinds starting at Destruction Bay and almost all the way to Haines Junction!