Halibut

Alaska Ride – June 20th – Day #26

Today is halibut fishing day! We woke up to blue skies and no wind – it doesn’t get any better than that. We walked down to the charter office to check in and get our licenses and derby tickets. There are only 6 people going today, so they are putting us on a smaller boat. We walk down to the boat an meet Monica the bait girl. This is only her second trip! We’ll try to be nice 🙂

It is a 1 1/2 hr ride out to the halibut fishing spot, but there was still tons to see along the way. Lots of sea otters – didn’t get any good group pictures, but did get this ok shot of an individual.

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There were also views of several volcanoes. Don’t remember their names though (I suppose I could go look at a map and figure it out, but I’m a bit tired and lazy tonight)

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We get to the spot and the captain anchors the boat. Put my line down and I get the first fish on! Which I promptly lose – we are using circle hooks and it is bad to try and set the hook. We re-bait my line and I get another hook up right away. First fish on the boat! The limit for halibut is two, but one of them needs to be less than 29”. This fish counted as my “small” one.

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There was a little bit of a lull, and then I was on fire. I probably caught the most fish on the boat. I lost track of the number I was throwing back – my goal was to catch a “big” one for my second fish. Eventually I get a pretty nice one – the captain said it was 25#, so I’m gonna believe him. I think it ended up being the 2nd largest fish on the boat. This also sets me as the first person with a limit.

Meanwhile, the old man can’t catch a thing. He keeps getting strikes and no hook ups. The captain was worried that the boat was going to run out of bait. Eventually, he does finally catch his fish.DSC03594

about to come aboard!

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we took a picture on the way back in. The fish closest to us it the largest one…it doesn’t look that much larger in the picture, but it was.

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Once back in port, we had a fish processor come down to the boat and pick up our fish. They will vacuum seal it in 1# bags for us, flash freeze them, and then FedEx them home. Although, it is probably cheaper to just buy the fish at Costco (the whole process ended up being ~$12/lb)

After taking showers, we went down to the Salty Dawg Saloon for a beer. It is a pretty cool place, but the beers were expensive.

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We moved on from the Salty Dawg to a restaurant and had a nice shrimp dinner. After a 15 minute walk back to the hotel, my dad realized he forgot his camera at the restaurant. So, we got a little extra exercise tonight.

Tomorrow we start pointing our bikes toward home! Right now it looks like we should be home right around the end of the month.

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Alaska Ride – June 19th – Day #25

Woke up in our stinky room – smoking rooms suck. We quickly dressed and went out to breakfast at ihop. After we finished up, it was off to get my tire installed.

We showed up at the motorcycle dealer, and they had the shop door open waiting for me. They got right on the tire and it took 1/2 hr max to get it installed. Then we hit Fred Meyer for some supplies – we need lunch for the halibut fishing trip tomorrow.

We drove the 2 hours back to the Harley Dealer, and picked up some beer for the guys along the way. Once we were back at the shop, it was time to mount the tire. There is a spacer between the wheel and the brake caliper mount that was a bitch to get in. We eventually did it though. Then it was time to pack the bike.

I also had to get the rental car back to the airport (and then back to the HD dealer). Turns out they needed to pick up a bike near the airport, so I drove the rental car to the airport to return it, and the truck swung by and brought me back (did I mention these guys rock?)

Now it was time to go. Got all geared up and said good bye to all the guys at the dealer. Did a couple of laps around the parking lot to test out the rear brake. Once I decided all was well, it was time to head off to Homer.

Dropping into Homer is really cool. You approach on a downhill toward the town. You can see the spit with mountains and glaciers as a backdrop. Even after all of the mountains we’ve seen on the trip, this was still one of the coolest views.

We checked into the hotel with no issues. Once we get the bikes unloaded and our gear in our rooms, it was time to head out to dinner – we haven’t had any food since breakfast! We ate at the restaurant in the hotel, which had some spectacular views of the mountains and people fishing on the spit. We even had a Bald Eagle buzz by and land on the roof just above us.

Mountain views from the restaurant.

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Zoom in on the glacier

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More mountain views.

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This dinner was our “end of the road” celebration. Once we leave Homer, we are officially on our way home. There are still some cool adventures we haven’t done yet, but every mile we travel is a mile closer to home. So, I splurged for dinner and got King Crab legs.

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And Chocolate Lave Cake for dessert.

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after dinner, we walked down the spit to find the halibut charter office. We found it, and it seems to be about a 15 minute walk away. We chatted with the ladies working the desk – our check in time is at 7:30a tomorrow morning. The limit is 2 halibut, and one of them must be less than 29” long.

On the way back to our room, we walked along the marina

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Back at the room, my dad booked us a ferry for part of the trip back. We’ll be going from Haines to Price Rupert via ferry. We may take the Prince Rupert to Port Hardy ferry after that, or we may just ride home from Prince Rupert, we’ll probably decide on the fly. Given the ferry dates, we should be getting home on June 30th or July 1st.

Alaska Ride – June 15th – Day #21

Happy Father’s Day! I got to spend today riding to Denali National Park with my dad…but let’s not jump too far ahead.

There was lots of construction around the dorm that we stayed in last night. As a result, we parked our bikes in a lot across the street. My dad got up this morning to move the bike closer to the building to load it. He tried to get back into the building and his cardkey didn’t work! He stood under our window and yelled till I heard him – I went downstairs and let him in. While we were down there, we gave my key a shot. It didn’t work either! Apparently they didn’t program our keys properly. At least we didn’t go out at the same time – it would have been a bit of a walk to get to the office.

My bike fell over again today – this time I wasn’t even on it! I was rocking it up onto the center stand so I could check the oil. I didn’t quite get enough momentum to get it up on the stand. When it rocked forward, the front wheel was turned away from me, and I slowly let the bike down to the ground. Bummer.

We rode the Parks Highway from Fairbanks to Denali NP today. It was a great day for a motorcycle ride – blue skies and warm. The road had a 65 mph speed limit, and had plenty of corners to keep it interesting. There were a few construction zones but nothing too scary.

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There was a big line to register for a campsite. Probably took us 45 minutes to get through it. On our way to the campground after registering, my tire pressure monitor alarm went off. My rear tire was down to 26psi and slowly falling (ok it was at 24 when I stopped a couple of minutes later). Popped the bike on the center stand (didn’t push it over this time). Spun the rear wheel around, and this is what I saw.

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That doesn’t look very good. Unloaded my toolkit and grabbed a pair of pliers to pull it out. Well, it kept coming, and coming, and coming. The stupid thing has to be about 4” long. it appears to be some kind of restraining pin.IMG_0474

It also left a pretty gnarly large hole in my tire. Good thing I have tubeless tires – I could repair it in place. I grabbed my handy dandy plug kit and went to work. I’ve never done this before, so it got kinda interesting. Every time I tried to pull the plug tool away from the plug, I kept pulling the plug all the way out…well I read the directions a little better and figured it out after the 3rd or 4th try. This has got to be just about the largest hole I can fix with the plugs that I have. Here is the plug sticking out, before I trimmed it down to the tread. IMG_0477

I took the bike for a short test ride, and the plug seems to be holding ok.

Once we were settled into camp, we went to the store to make bus reservations for tomorrow. You can’t actually drive into the park very far on your own, you have to take some kind of tour bus. They have several different options – we decided on the cheap option. No tour guide, but we can get on and off the busses where ever we like. On the way to making the reservations, a fellow camper pulled us aside and asked if we wanted to see a moose. One was bedded down right near their campsite. I got out my zoom lens and took a picture without getting too close.

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Our tour bus departs from the Wilderness Information Center. We didn’t know it’s exact location, so we walked over to check it out. It isn’t too far away, maybe a 10 minute walk from our campsite. While there,  we watched a movie about the construction of the park. Really, I did stay awake for most of it.

Back at the campsite, we have cell service. So, I called the charter boat company in Homer and finalized our halibut trip for Friday. We could go on Thursday, but they didn’t have any openings. We gave them my cell phone number in case they have cancellations.

Alaska Ride – June 14th – Day #20

It rained again last night, however that didn’t stop my dad from forgetting that we were in a new timezone. He was up at 5a breaking camp, around 6:30a or so he started banging on something, maybe he was splitting wood? I dunno, I had to yell at him to be quiet because he was waking up the entire campground.

Rain showers came and went while I was cleaning up my half of the camp. The rain stopped just in time for the ride. I have to say, we have been really lucky with the weather on this trip. Based on previous ride reports, we expected days of nonstop rain. So far, we have only had one day where we rode in the rain all day long. The second worst was probably the day my dad crashed. We’ve been hit by quick showers here and there, but mostly has been dry with a ton of sun. Hopefully I didn’t just jinx us 🙂

We stopped in Delta Junction for fuel. Delta Junction is significant because it is the official end of the Alaska Highway. Not sure why that is…the same road continues on to Fairbanks, it just isn’t called the Alaska Highway anymore.

Just outside Delta Junction a moose ran across the road in front of my dad. My video camera is always going in a rolling loop, so I got it on camera, but it looks pretty small because of the wide angle lens…can you find it in the picture?

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I’ll help you out a bit…

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Like I said, not that good. I thought it would come out ok because I could see it crossing the road while I was riding. The camera is mounted lower on the bike (than my head) and I was riding staggered so my dad’s bike blocked the view. I suppose this is a good reason to use a helmet mounted cam. Since my nice new helmet isn’t so nice and new anymore, I may play with that when I get home.

This was one of the shortest days of riding, but it seemed like the longest. I can’t really pin down why…my dad thought the same. I think we were expecting a really short day and it took us close to 2 1/2 hours to get to Fairbanks. The views were so-so today as we moved away from the mountains. The rivers you cross are kinda cool – a lot of them appear to be glacially fed, so they have gigantic gravel channels with small rivers randomly snaking through them.

Our plan for housing in Fairbanks was to stay at the University. They rent out dorm rooms to tourists. They are doing a bit of construction on campus so it took us a bit to find the office. Once we found it, we were presented with several options for rooms. Our first choice was $40 each for single rooms, but they were sold out. Then it was $80 for a double room, which seems kinda lame. $100 for a double suite, or $110 for a quad suite (don’t quote me on these prices, but they are close). So of course we went with the quad suite. The advantage of the quad suite – we end up with 2 different “bedrooms”, a common work area, and a private bathroom.

Sprawled out in my “bedroom”

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Common work area

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Also included in the price was laundry and showers. Laundry was the first order of business – I wanted clean clothes before I took a shower. The challenge – how do I wash all of my clothes without walking naked down to the laundry room? I put on my swimsuit (that I haven’t used at all yet) under my riding pants and wore my down jacket with no shirt on underneath. Not exactly comfortable, but got the job done.

We spent some time researching Denali and how to go about the busses (we head there tomorrow) as well as various fishing trip options. We walked to a local restaurant for dinner and discussed our end game for the trip. We decided to spend two nights in what looks to be a fairly nice lodge in homer (Land’s End Resort) which is walking distance to a halibut charter. We are going to book our fishing trip for the 20th and start the long road home on the 21st.