Sunday, May 05, 2013

Uraling in Alaska - Day 26: Back on the road and in Wasilla.

Due to "difficult driving conditions" reported by the Alaska 511 website, I delayed my departure from Fairbanks until close to 11:00AM.  Plenty of time therefore to properly pack up the rig, say my goodbyes to RichardM and his family, such great hosts to be "marooned temporarily with", don't you agree?

Left to Right:
Tim, Holly, Talon, Yours Truly, RichardM, Kyle and Bridget

Of course, I took the wrong turn out of RichardM's neighborhood and added about 20 minutes of travel time to today's route.  I was headed to Wasilla, AK and I was projecting 7.5 hours of road time.

I finally got on Alaska Highway 3 on the west side of town and started heading south.  The road was a bit ice-covered/slushy at the higher elevations, wet otherwise all the way to nearly Healy.  Valencia was running strong and when we both made it past Healy, we both breathed a sigh of relief I think!

The weather got clearer as I motored south, with the sun occasionally breaking through the mostly overcast skies of the day.  In fact, the weather would be pretty good, with dry roads most of the way between Healy and Trapper Creek which was my last gas stop before reaching Wasilla.  It would rain pretty good on me the last 20 miles or so into Wasilla though.  Oh well.  The rain gear did its job, keeping the wind and rain off me.

No big issues to report, though Valencia did have some idling issues at times when taking that she wouldn't hold idle but then she'd be fine the next stop.  I'd seen that behaviour before so not too worried yet.  She did however, not like the rain that welcomed me into Wasilla.  Not the same rough-running behaviour as before though, just a bit hard to start and had to blip the throttle at times to keep the idle up.  I'll check her out tomorrow but not too worried as of yet.  I am guessing perhaps the air filter got wet.

I hope you like today's pictures, it's good to be back on the road and riding....sure it was cold from a low of 19°F it would soar to 42°F!  Sure it was overcast and icy at first but it would be dry roads most of the day with the sun warm on me at times.

 First picture stop was at Nenana to photograph the tripod that sits out 
on the Tanana River, more details here but basically there's
a pool as to when the ice breakup on the river will occur.  
It's apparently quite the event!

 Once the weather cleared up south of Healy, I was able to get some 
nice mountain shots.

I passed by Denali National Park on the way south on Alaska Highway 3, what a beautiful area, replete with long mountain ranges on both sides of the Nenana River Valley.  The above are just a sample of the magnificent views one enjoys while riding this road.

 A rather strange sight is this huge "Igloo House"
More information here

 Nice mountain view along the George Park Highway aka Alaska 3

At the Southern View Overlook, one could see Denali in its glory today.
Of course, to get this angle, you had to wade into knee deep snow for 
several feet!  I hope to get back to this view point when the snow has been cleared
so I can pose Valencia here.

I reached the middle of Wasilla around 7:15 or so, realized I'd almost traveled through the entire city!  I got on my phone's GPS, found the address of the folks I was staying with tonight and I was at their place shortly after 7:30 PM.  Such nice folks to invite me to spend some time at their home, we'd never met before today and they aren't fellow bloggers (yet) like the other's I've stayed with are!

Bob and Sharon are their names and they've a marvelously decorated home in Wasilla.  I get to stay in their "garage".  

Garage you say to yourself, well just check out the following pictures:

 Filled with collected treasures found by Sharon here and there,
this two car garage was transplanted onto their property from elsewhere
and converted as part of the living quarters for a relative: Uncle Danny who
has since passed away.  Is this a cool place or what?  I am sitting 
where you see the laptop below, writing this.

 Not only do I get the full run of the above garage but there's 
adjoining rooms that include a small bedroom, kitchen and small living room:

I am still a bit overwhelmed by Bob and Sharon's outstanding generosity
in inviting me into their home and they're also eager to show me around
the Wasilla area!  Bob and Sharon ride a 2009 BMW GSA with a Dauntless Sidecar rig.

Well, it's late, must get some sleep, tomorrow I'll do a quick checkout of Valencia, and then we shall see what the weather is like.  Sharon and Bob have laid out some interesting adventures for us to do if the weather cooperates.


SonjaM said...

Brillant pics, glad you're back on the road. I have seen Denali from a little float plane once, and it is a mighty 'piece of rock'. Very impressive.

I am not too surprised that you experience the hospitality of two complete strangers. The more remote you get the more hospitable people tend to be, and even though they might not be bloggers, they seem to follow yours, and last but not least, they are motorcycle riders... Good people are everywhere, especially if they are riders ;-)

Wishing a continuous safe journey.

Greetings from Germany, SonjaM

Canajun said...

It's great to see you back on the road again. Isn't Wasilla Sarah Palin's stomping grounds?

whythedevilnot said...

Your accommodation looks awesome.

GlennandSun said...

'Morning, 'twas 84 degrees west of Seattle yesterday, we were wishing that we were in Alaska with you! Your photos magnify our itch to make the trip up ourselves, looks like a unique world. Our plan called for early May 2014....but given your experiences, Sun & I are thinking early June. interested what the locals think the best time frame is?
Eric asked about the head/seat process, as a professional mechanic and machinist I can help with that answer. Heads are cast, usually cast in a sand mold, than machined to tolerances. This involves drilling, reaming and milling, for head bolt holes, sealing surfaces and cutting intake and exhaust valve seating surfaces. Next the head is precision ground to tight tolerances in the seat area, so the valve "mates" tightly (and uniquely) to the valve guides holding the valve stem and valve to seat contact area. Quality engines have a diamond cutting paste thinly applied to the seat valve mating surface and are "lapped" by circular motion to polish the mated valve and seat to a perfect sealing finish, ensuring higher compression with longer engine life. Engines of lesser tolerance merely lock the head in a jig, and use a spindle milling cutter to cut a valve seat to tolerances so that any valve off the parts shelf will fit....with lesser tolerances, but with plus side of ease of repair or replacement. Such engines tend to be very reliable as long as RPM's are kept lower (say under 5k). It is very likely that the ural heads arrive in a pallet, are individually placed in a jig to cut the exhaust valve seat, put back on a pallet to be jigged for the intake seat milling cut as a separate operation....somewhere in that repetitive, boring process one of the heads missed that process, and ended up on Dom's bike. QC would only catch the missed cut if they inspected each head prior to dropping in a valve, springs and keepers. Like earlier said, this would be an exceptionally rare occurrence, and the 30K km travelled speaks very highly of the design.
The bad side is it happened to Dom in beautiful Alaska. The good side is it could be repaired under an Army ponch in a driving snow storm on the side of the road with common hand tools (once parts were on hand). The repairability of this line of bikes is why we bought ours.....also, what incrediable people own and use them!
Love your blog Dom....GlennandSun

Motorcycle Philosophy said...

Don't miss out on Wal-Mike's, just up the 3 from Wasilla. It's a really awesome junk and antique store on the side of the road.

RichardM said...

Beautiful photos of the trip down and you got a spectacular photo of Mt. McKinley. Today is a blue sky, sunny day with temperatures in the mid-40s.

BTW, the fairing still shakes...

RichardM said...

To: Glennandsun:

May is on the early side with many roads and tourist facilities not even open until mid to late May. By June, tourists are running around all over the place (that could be good or bad depending on your perspective). But the most crowded time is early to mid-July. I would leave mid to late May and plan on spending the early part of June in AK. Sort of depends what you want to do.

Keith - Circle Blue said...

Yay! Glad you are back on the road. I wish you weren't still experiencing a few little problems. But, as you don't seem worry, yet, I won't be either.

Too bad you have to stay in the garage :^) So much kindness in the world. It is always good to be reminded of that.

redlegsrides said...

SonjaM, riders are indeed a breed's Germany?

Canajun, yep, am in Sarah Palin's hometown.

John S: the "enchanted cottage" is something else!

GlennandSun, hope RichardM's info on when is best time to get to Alaska works for you. He would definitely be "in the know". Thanks very much as well as to the detailed processes involved with casting heads and how valve heats get cut or in my case, uncut.

Motorcycle Philosophy, I believe John Sharp stopped at that place when he rode his 2007 Ural in alaska last year. thanks.

RichardM, darn it, I really thought we had it with those rubber what? the left lower fairing removal?

Circle Blue, yep, good to be reminded that this world of ours is not filled with evil only. Thanks for commenting.

Unknown said...


good to see you "on the road" again but it was certainly nice to have been part of RichardM's family for a week or so. I think you are not considered a local. They are all going to miss you at morning coffee.

Bob and Sharon are Good people, glad you managed to "find" them

Nice snow and mountain photos as usual

Riding the Wet Coast