I decided to document an IBA ride so I could go to their banquet held at Daytona Bike Week. My wife gave me a hug and I'm off for Key West, FL in the Conch Republic and the southern most point in the USA. The quickest way is via the Florida Turnpike. However the tolls total $20 each way.
After a cameo visit to the Conch Republic I did an R&R (rest and refuel) stop my house as it is along my chosen route. I turned on the weather channel and noticed a big red area of dangerous precipitation all across the region I intended to cross. So I spent an extra night at home waiting out the thunderstorms in the in the dry comfort of my own home and in my own bed.
I left sweet home Alabama on a rainy Tuesday. I got my motor running and headed out on the highway I65, looking for Nashville, TN. There I turned west onto I24. It continued to rain all the way to to Paduca, KY. There I filled up with gas, stowed my rain suit and continued on I24 until just inside Illinois where I caught I57 north. I turned onto I74 at Urbana, IL. From there I cruised I74 to Bloomington, IL where I stopped for a burger. While in the restaurant some civilian stole the gas can I had lashed to the luggage rack. I say civilian because I feel no biker would steel a brother's gas can. Luckily there was an auto parts store nearby where I bought a "non vent" gas can. And then on to I39 and Madison, WI. I bedded down in Madison, WI for the night. I noticed a faint smell of gasoline as I unloaded my duffle bag and stowed it in my room. My duffle bag was lashed directly to the luggage rack with the gas can held on on top of that with a cargo net. I didn't think much of the odor at the time.
Wednesday I cruised on I94 to Fargo turning north on I29. I crossed into Canada between Fargo, ND and Winnipeg, MB. At the Canadian welcome center a pair of Canadian Customs Officers put on rubber gloves and took everything I had and put it on a bench. I commented that during the last examination I had undergone where the examiner put on rubber gloves, I was required to turn my head and cough. They didn't see the humor or irony in my observation. Over the next hour and a half they proceeded to open and inspect each and every item I carried. They carefully confirmed that the clear liquid in my USGI canteen was indeed filled with the water I had claimed. They gratuitously helped me repack everything and we parted with them saying "thank you for your time". I found out later these intense and invasive searches were targeted at Harley riders because a certain notorious Motorcycle Club had been caught smuggling drugs on their motorcycles. You know the aces and eights (a.k.a. the dead man's hand in poker).
In Winnipeg I turned west onto TCH 1 and stopped for the night at the Days Inn in Portage La Prairie, MB. Thursday morning I awoke and rode headlong into an Alberta Clipper as I rode the three hundred miles from Portage La Prairie, MB to Regina, SK. The 50 MPH headwind slowed me down to a max. of 60 MPH WFO in fourth gear. With temps in the high 30s I had to run my electric vest and gloves on a rather high setting for summer time. At Regina, SK I took the Yellowhead Highway or TCH 16 to Edmonton, AB. I parked my scooter at a four flea hotel in Edmonton, AB for the night. For the uninitiated, one flea is equivalent to one star and goes down from there. Friday I turned off of the Yellowhead Highway and onto PH 43 and headed for Dawson Creek, BC and Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway. The most interesting scenery on this part of my journey was the diversity in the numbering of the roads. Hence the reason I've included them here.
I turned onto and followed the Alaska Highway into Fort Nelson, BC. I stopped there for some fuel and overnight for some sleep. I cruised along keeping my eye out for flora and fauna. I cautiously watched a baby grizzly bear gallop from the brush on my right across the road and into the brush on the left. The next section of road had been blasted into the side of a hill with sheer drop-offs on the left and vertical cliffs on the right. Around the bend was a dozen families of big horn sheep taking their morning breakfast along the edge of the road. Saturday night I stayed in the Talbot Arm Motel the only motel in Destruction Bay, YT. I paid $1.18 Canadian per liter (at 3.85 liters per US gal. that's works out to about 3USD per gal.) to refuel there. The desert like low humidity had caused me to start a nose bleed earlier the previous day. My face was blistered and peeling from the previous 4 days of wind and sun. The hotel clerk asked if I had been in a fight and did I want to see their on-call nurse?
Sunday, five days after leaving Alabama, I crossed the border into Alaska where the temps were in the 80s. I had a very enjoyable conversation with the female US Customs Agent who checked my paper work as she inquired as to the reasons for my visit to Alaska. I told her my cover story which was that I was coming up to visit my cousins in Anchorage which I hadn't seen in thirty some odd years. We continued to chat about guns while holding up traffic for over half an hour. Funny how no one honked their horn to congeal me to hurry up while we idly chatted and blocked this the only port of entry across an international border. I must have still been something of a sight even after attempting to clean up at the motel that morning. She too asked me if I had been in a fight.
Later that afternoon I rolled into Wasilla, AK to rendezvous with the MTF and eat some BBQ. I didn't know it yet but the friends I was about to make at the pig roast would make the forty-two hundred miles well worth the effort! After the BBQ I rode over to my cousin's place and spent the rest of the day catching up. I hadn't seen her since around 1973. I stayed with her and her husband that sunday night. Monday she took me out for a breakfast of reindeer sausage which I enjoyed and the story of which my children still don't believe!
Monday I proceeded to Fairbanks, AK. I stopped in Trapper Creek, AK Mile 115 Parks Highway at the Trapper Creek Trading Post for some fuel. As I walked across their porch my legs felt unusually wobbly. I figured I was more strung out from the road than I had budgeted for. I later found out that the porch was wobbling due to an earthquake centered in Trapper Creek and not my motorcycle sea legs acclimating to the firmament. That evening I again rendezvoused with the MTF for dinner at the Musher's Roadhouse Restaurant housed at the Captain Bartlett Inn. I slept monday in Fairbanks, AK amidst the festive summer solstice revelry.
Tuesday and I'm off on the MTF Haul Road Adventure. I'm riding the Elliot Highway to the junction with the Dalton Highway. I then turn on the Dalton and head for Prudhoe Bay on the north slope. But first had to buy some fuel after crossing the Yukon river. Next services is the furtherest north truckstop in the world located in Coldfoot, AK. But first a photo op at the Arctic Circle. The next services sign at Coldfoot, AK, the northernmost truck stop in the world, kinda suggests I should refuel there regardless of how empty my tank is.
I almost finished an UCC. I crashed at MM84 at Happy Valley Camp on the Dalton Highway (a.k.a. Haul road) or 151 miles north of Coldfoot, AK or 400 miles north of Fairbanks, AK. As the concussion induced fog begins to burn off with time, I'm starting to put together plans for a 2005 return trip to Alaska.
Visit 2004 MTF Ultimate Coast to Coast for more images.
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