Arctic Circle

Arctic Adventure Day #14

Today was supposed to be a boring day, heading almost 500 miles down a road we just drove up a couple of days ago… By the end of the day, it was probably the most exciting day of the entire trip.

We got an early start out of Inuvik – the weather was supposed to turn soon, so we wanted to get as far down the Dempster as we could while it was still dry.

The road was in great shape, we did get a little bit of rain between the two ferries, but it didn’t slow is that much.

When we were in Montana, we borrowed forks from Kim’s sister and told her we’d take some pictures with them, so we stopped at the Arctic Circle sign.

After lunch at the restaurant at Eagle Plains, we continued South on good roads. We were commenting on how we hadn’t seen any big animals in a few days when we see a fox on the side of the road… Ok, not exactly big. Then just north of Engineer Creek, I catch something out of the corner of my eye, slammed on the brakes, and backed up 50 yards to get a picture.

We never did see Mom around. Probably hung out for 10 minutes or so before he took off.

There is a lake called Two Moose Lake on the north end of tombstone park… We joked that it was called no-moose lake because there was nothing in it on our way north. We wondered if there would be something on the way back. As we approached we were looking at a big rock in the middle of the lake and it lifted it’s head up! We pulled over to a viewing platform to get some good pictures.

It was interesting, the birds were following it around… We watched the for a bit and then went back to the car to get the 360 camera – we were parked back away from the viewing platform because we didn’t want to spook him. Kim stayed at the car while I grabbed a 360 shot from the platform.

While I was getting this picture, a cow and a calf ran into the lake. The cow was looking at the shore and there were noises coming from the bushes. I ran back to the car to get my camera before a second calf came out. Kim tells me to stay near the car… You should ALWAYS listen to your wife (my mother needs to stop reading here). Of course I ignored her and went back to the viewing platform because it was a better camera angle.

(Really mom, stop reading, this is your last chance) Then I heard some huffing noises back towards the Jeep… Apparently the noises in the bushes were not from a second calf… This guy was barrelling down the road as fast as he could.

Kind of a blurry picture, but can you blame me, he was between me and the car (did I mention the bear spray is in the car?)… This is where I stop taking pictures for a bit because there is a very large grizzly bear running towards me (did I ever mention grizzly bears are fast). Well, I start waving my arms and speaking to him as calmly as I could. He decides I am interesting and slows down to check me out, walks up to the entrance of the viewing platform less than ten feet away, and stands up on his hind legs and decides to talk back to me. He was very tall, 7′ maybe. I think he would have been able to stick his nose in the door of the tent on top of my Jeep.

After I thought our conversation was over, he takes a couple of steps away and then stands up to check me out again.

All this time, he keeps looking over at the moose calf, which fortunately for me seems to be good preferred choice for dinner.

After what seems like forever, but probably has only been a minute, he walks down the road away from the Jeep and into the brush. With the best out of sight, I slowly back up towards the Jeep and then do a mad dash for the last 10 feet.

Well, it turns out he was not done checking us out… He had looped around the lake side of the viewing platform and did a lap around the Jeep… Which allowed me to take some more photos from the safety of my car.

All the while he kept his eye on the moose calf. Eventually he started running again, and we watched him run all the way to the other side of the lake.

This was all about a half hour from our campsite. We’re debated driving all the way to Dawson City since I was all amped up on adrenaline at this point. We decided to stick to our original plan of the Tombstone campground. Once we were in a spot, I grabbed a ranger as he was walking by to let him know about the bear in the area.

Here is our hopefully bear free campsite.

We have been in the road for two weeks at this point, and we both have the “getting home disease”. We are going to hot the sights at Dawson City tomorrow and then probably start to push hard for home.

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Arctic Adventure Day #12

Lots of milestones today. We made it to the Arctic Circle, Northwest Territories, and Inuvik. It is really hard to describe the landscape up here, particularly when we were in the mountains. You could see forever – the landscape seems larger than life.

The road was fairly mucky up to the Arctic circle, and slowly improved as we moved north. The last 100 miles, dist was more of an issue than the mucky roads. And the last few miles into Inuvik are actually paved!

Here is the Arctic circle sign.

Selfie

We really haven’t seen too many animals the last few days. On this leg of the trip we saw a bunch of rabbits, a grouse (or some kind of game bird on the road), and tons of Ravens (they are really loud). We also saw this guy begging for food at the Arctic circle.

360 at the Arctic circle

Northwest Territories

Selfie

360 view

Peel River ferry

Fort MacPherson visitor center

MacKenzie River ferry

Dirty Jeep in Inuvik

(Mostly) clean Jeep in Inuvik

There is either 12 hours or an instant of darkness here… My bet is that it just stays light all the time. Don’t think I’ll stay up all night to verify.

Arctic Adventure Day #1

We are on the road! The trip started out with a bit of a hiccup – I fat fingered something on my GPS and it reset the driving profile. It took me a few minutes to fix it… Fortunately I didn’t lose any of my route data.

Day #1 was pretty unexciting for us. Most of the drive covered areas we’ve been through many times. The weather was kind of mixed… Sprinkles here and there and some gusty winds to add excitement to the driving.

We stopped for lunch at the Blue Lake rest area, just South of Sun Lakes State Park. This whole area is very rugged.

A few miles down the road, we made another stop at the Dry Falls Visitor Center. It wasn’t real big, but it was very nice. There were displays that discussed how the coulees in the area were formed, as well as a lot of history about how the catastrophic flood theory came to be accepted. It also had a great view of Dry Falls.

From there, we motored on to one of the ferries crossing the Columbia. We did not time things well, and just missed the ferry, so we had to wait a bit for it to return. I did take a picture of Tundra the polar bear enjoying the ride once we made it on.

When I rode my motorcycle to the Arctic circle a few years ago, I took a picture of my GPS with the sunrise and sunset of the current location every night. I figure I’ll do the same this time… Hopefully we’ll make it to the point with no sunrise our sunset – hopefully Garmin tested this case.

We are camping at the Gifford Campground on Lake Roosevelt for the night. We spoke with the campground hosts to buy some firewood, but apparently they are not allowed to sell things at national forest campgrounds. Fortunately, they were kind and gave us a couple of logs from their stash.

That’s about it for today. No internet here, so this probably won’t get posted until later in the day tomorrow.

Alaska Ride – June 8th – Day #14

Two weeks on the road! Today we are heading back down the Dempster and continuing our journey toward Alaska. We got out of bed a 7a and went on over to the hotel restaurant for a quick breakfast. Then it was time to pack our bikes and begin our journey.

Right before we left, I grabbed a shot of the two BMWs that are heading back down on a truck tonight. They didn’t have the greatest tires on for the conditions.IMG_0411

We took it slow to get some confidence back after the crash the other day. My dad was pretty tentative yesterday on the whole trip to the Arctic Circle and back. We stopped at the first two rest areas, got off the bikes, and assessed our situation. The road was in good shape, although we could see some showers forming to the south (our direction of travel).

We stopped for lunch at Engineer Creek again. The black muck that was there last time had dried up, although i don’t know that I would want to stay there except in an emergency.

The road is pretty dusty to this point, and there seems to be more traffic in both directions. I was letting my dad set the pace – I stayed quite a ways back to stay out of the dust. Eventually, the rains did come. Just enough to keep the dust down on the road, but not make the road too slick.

The scenery heading southbound into the Tombstone area was much more interesting than on the way up. The mountains were in front of you the whole time. We didn’t stop to take any more pictures though.

We stopped at the Tombstone campground for a quick rest and to put some fuel in the bikes. It was such a nice place we decided to spend the night here. We have a very nice spot that has plenty of room for both our tents and tarps.

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It is right on a creek.

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And has great mountain views!

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We got rained on a bit as we set up our tarps, but nothing too serious. Once everything was squared away, we went up to the cooking shelter to make dinner – they have a shelter set up away from the campsites so you don’t attract bears to your tent 🙂

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They also had a food locker right next to the shelter, so we left our food and stoves. We’ll just walk up in the morning and make our breakfast.

Alaska Ride – June 7th – Day #13

Never, ever, ever take two Advil PM at midnight if you want to get up at reasonable hour the next day. I learned that from experience when I didn’t wake up till 11a this morning. While I was sleeping away, my dad went over to the shop and fixed his dented up pannier. Almost as good as new!

We arranged for a late checkout since checkout time was 11a, and loaded up the bikes. The old man is in good spirits after his crash yesterday, but his ribs are really bugging him. The plan for today is to slowly head north and see how it goes. One of the major goals for the trip is to get to the arctic circle and we are soooo close.

We checked out of the hotel and topped of our tanks. I aired down my tires a bit – my front didn’t grip as well as I would have liked in the mud yesterday. Then we were off!

This section of road had tons of very loose gravel on it…they either just added some or recently graded the road. Airing down my tires didn’t seem to help any here, it felt like I was going down a loose gravel road. Nothing too scary. I let my dad set the pace, and we went pretty slow. He was riding way too tentatively and I was worried about another crash. We finally made it to the Arctic Circle without incident.

A picture with the bike…

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A picture with the me…

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Panorama of the landscape…

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I took a picture of my GPS with the Sunrise and Sunset time since this was the farthest north we’ll be coming. Not quite sunny 24hrs a day…only happens here on the longest day of the year.IMG_0406

The weather at the Arctic Circle was starting to worsen, particularly to the north (we saw some lightning on the ride up). My dad is riding too tentatively and I think he may have cracked a rib in the fall yesterday. I’m worried if he takes another spill on that rib, something very bad could happen. So, I made the call that we would not be going any further north – time to get him back to some pavement. At this point, I’m assuming we are done with unpaved roads for the trip. We’ll see how much confidence he gets on the way back to Dawson City…

We made our way back to Eagle Plains to get another hotel room for the night. They give people this nifty little certificate if they make it to the Arctic Circle.

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Now we get to the part of the blog where young children need to look away – it is time to have a discussion about my motorcycle boots. At one point in time, very long ago, my motorcycle boots were waterproof. They are no longer. In fact, they have been waterlogged many times. On top of that, I have pretty sweaty feet. The net result – my boots smell really, really bad. So bad, that you really don’t want them in the hotel room because the room is filled with the smell. I’ve been shutting them in the bathroom and turning the fan on. Now, my feet have been in these boots for the majority of the day for the last two weeks. I feel like the smell has been permanently infused into my feet. They now feel like the smell smells (does that make sense?). So I decided to soak in the bathtub. I’m not normally a bath kinda guy, but it was really worth it this time around. Unfortunately I have to stick my feet back into those boots tomorrow…

Once I was all clean and my feet don’t stink anymore (at least to me). We head of to the lounge for some dinner. We grab a couple of beers and order a plate of nachos. After another beer we decide that the nachos were enough for dinner.

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There have been a few bikers coming through. I spoke with a couple of guys yesterday that were returning from Inuvik and were on their way to Deadhorse before heading to South America. Makes my little adventure seem, well, little. He fell at 100kph (so he claimed), and just slid with the bike for a long ways. There is another nice couple who rode up on BMWs with street tires on them – they barely made it here the day my dad crashed, and are waiting for a truck to haul their bikes back. This is not the easiest of roads to ride.

We are going to try for an early start tomorrow. The rain seems to develop in the afternoons, and the road isn’t bad while it is dry. I’ll let my dad lead the way again, so we can go at comfortable pace for him. We also may stop and fish along the way, so it could be a couple of days before we get back to Dawson City.