So I Went to Alaska…

DSC_0096.jpgWay back in 2007, just before my 40th birthday, I had planned an epic road trip on my motorcycle. Originally, the intent was to leave from Vegas and head up the coast, visiting places and taking my time, exploring the scenery. I wanted to take the Canadian highway and head up to Alaska and then maybe put the bike on a ferry and see how far I could get out into the Aleutian Islands.

That’s not what happened.

Instead, I rode the bike south a bit and started my road trip at Disneyland then up to Seattle, hung out with friends then grabbed a plane to Anchorage where I vacationed for a few days before meeting up with Joan for a cruise back down the inside passage. All told, it was about 3 weeks of fun and sight-seeing and I blogged it all. Not with the intensity or detail I currently use when I blog my travels, but I did a fair write up of it all. Then it all went away when Apple closed down their website and hosting services so I lost it all.

Recently, through some sort of Internet archive program, though, I recovered some of it. So I figured I’d put it up here to share it with future generations. Naturally, there are a few gaps but that’s to be expected. But rather than try to fill in the spaces or adjust things, I thought I’d just present it as is. With pictures, of course.

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Road Trip – Day Six – Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Woke up bright and early and walked across Highway 101 trying to find a signal so I could do my radio bit. Today we did a “where in the world is Skids?” contest. It was fun, DSC_0006.jpgbut I wasn’t ready so my clues kinda sucked. Next time should be better.

After that, I went to the Trees of Mystery. It was very cool and absolutely impossible to photograph. These trees were huge! At the end, there was a Tall Tale section where they talked a little bit about Paul Bunyon. It made me want to read more about the American West Mythos. I haven’t read them in a while and there might be some good stuff in there for stories and such.

Left there and hit Ocean World in Crescent City. It was a nice, small aquarium with lots of sharks and a few sea lions and some bat rays. I got to pet the sharks (5 foot leopard sharks).

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After that, it was pretty much driving until I got to a hotel. Okay, that’s not exactly true. there was a stop or two for pictures and then gas stops and a nice little diner which had perfect diner food (watery when it should be thick and thick when it should have been thinner).

Road Trip – Day Seven/Eight – Thursday, May 17, 2007

Woke up and had a breakfast at Denny’s on Wednesday morning. I know, Denny’s? It was free – came with the room. So I ate and hit the road. A short hop up the highway and I was into Washington State and stopping in Olympia to see Marcy, an online friend whom I’ve now met in person. We ate lunch at this very cool little brew-pub then she left to wander downtown and I headed up north, finally getting to Janna’s place around 4pm

We were originally going to go see Michael Chabon at Elliott Bay Book Company, but decided against it and instead went to REI so I could get a duffle bag for Alaska and then stayed in, ordered pizza and had most of a bottle of wine. It was nice to catch up and just relax.

This morning we decided against going to Mt. St. Helens and instead headed east to Soqualmie to see the falls and the train museum. This was the place where they filmed Twin Peaks (of which, I admit, I am quite ignorant). We had lunch at a great little diner, took a lot of pictures and then came back to town to see the Ballard locks. We watched a few boats go through and tried to see salmon spawning, but no such luck. Wrong time of year for that. Then it was dinner and now I’m sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight to Anchorage.

I’ll arrive there just before midnight, local time. Tomorrow, I’m in Alaska!

Alaska – Day One – Saturday, May 19, 2007

What happened in Anchorage?

Well… I suppose we can say that the first day really started the night before. As the flight from Seattle took off, it was dark out. The further North we went, however, the brighter it got. By the time we landed in Anchorage, it looked like twilight. In fact, after two nights here, I’ve yet to see the sky look completely black. Ahhh…Summer in the 49th!

So anyway, I get my rental car (upgraded since they didn’t have any compacts – complete DSC_0045.jpgwith auxiliary plug for my iPod!) and headed out for the hostel. The 26th Street Hostel is located in a neighborhood called Spenard, which, evidently, is Eskimo for hooker. It’s in a house and when you walk in there are travelers from all over the world just hanging out. I meet the owner, who sets me up in a room, and then I proceed to also hang out for an hour or so. I talk to several people about various things and we never exchange names. It’s like a vacuum where the only thing that exists is the adventure itself.  Certainly makes me rethink all those D&D adventures where we started out in the Tavern looking for trouble.

DSC_0016.jpgSo on Friday morning, I’m up and hitting Anchorage with a vengeance. 9am and I’m at the museum, checking out a new exhibit on Native Art as well as a whole thing on the history of the state. 10:30 I board a tour bus and get a glimpse of the city sights. After that, I wander around on my own a bit, get a reindeer sausage, then decide to hit the zoo.

The zoo wasn’t great, but I did get charged by a Musk Ox! Seriously! The musk ox was just standing there and when I walked up to take a picture it decided it didn’t want that so it charged at me. And yes, I know it was me since there was no one else there. And he did it a few times. Weird!

Then it was dinner at a place called the Sourdough Mine, which I can certainly see as the kind of place you go for your birthday when you’re twelve.

After this long day, I figured to just go back to the hostel and hang out, maybe get to sleep early. But first, a stop at a local bookstore with a cafe with fast wireless access.

So I stop in and I’m looking around for a plug and these two girls (Brittany and Grace) graciously offer me their table (which is the only one in the place near an outlet). As a thank you, I offered to buy them a cup of coffee so then we ended up talking and they were going to party and I got kidnapped into going.

It was fun! We ended up at Brittany and Russell’s having dinner then off to Kate’s for the party. There I met Ivan, who plays guitar in an eskimo/funk band and Finn, who also married a freaky woman too quickly (the difference is that in his situation HE is the Brit). Got to bed at 2:30am… not bad considering I had to be up at 7 for the trip to Fairbanks…

Alaska – Day Two – Sunday, May 20, 2007

Woke up with only 3 1/2 hours of sleep and headed North.

The ride was very pretty…Denali is incredibly impressive. Even from a hundred miles away it’s a huge mountain! I took pictures from the road.

When I got to the park itself, I decided not to go on the guided tour but instead drove myself a little ways into the park and took lots of pictures and was just in awe of nature.

Then it was on to Fairbanks. Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with Fairbanks. It’s no Anchorage, that’s for sure. But as long as I was already this far north, I decided to go even further and took a flight to the other side of the Arctic Circle. We went to a place called Port Yukon, which is a small indian village (pop. 500) with no road access.

Back to Anchorage tomorrow.

Alaska – Day Three – Sunday, May 20, 2007

Okay, I guess I didn’t mention all the hassle about getting a hotel room in Fairbanks. I’ll fix that now.

When I got to town, I called a B&B, talked to the owner, and made a reservation. Of course, I couldn’t go there right away because he wasn’t home until 7pm. So I ended up booking the flight to Fort Yukon and wasn’t going to get to the room until after 10:30. I called and left a message to tell the guy this. When I landed, there was a call from the guy explaining that since I wasn’t there at 7, he gave the room to someone else. Fine. Now I have to find a room. I’d seen a Super 8 motel and figured they’re cheap, I’ll go there. $140 bucks a night is what they were charging! Seems “the season” had started. So I asked them if there was any place less expensive in town and they directed me to a brand new hotel. I went there. Their “season” didn’t start until the next night so I ended up with a room for $59. A nice room. A brand new room with wifi and everything!

The next morning I hit the road back to Anchorage…but not before stopping in at the world famous Alaskan pipeline. It may seem strange that I went out of my way to see a piece of civil engineering, but it’s one massively impressive piece of pipe!

On the drive back, I stopped in Talkeetna, a small town supposedly the inspiration for “Northern Exposure.” It was very cool. I ate lunch at great little place called The West Rib and did a little sight-seeing before continuing on my journey.

That night I met up with my new friend Grace again and we went and explored some of then nearby trails. we could do this well into the evening because the sun doesn’t go down until very late and it was still bright out at 1am. Of course, this was a problem when trying to get something to eat, since at 10 or 11pm it was bright daylight out and all the restaurants were closed. We eventually found an open bar where we could grab some fish and a beer.

Alaska – Day Four – Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday was a casual day. Drove around a little bit, got in some last minute sight-seeing (the above picture is from the ceremonial start of the Iditarod) and bought a swimsuit for myself and for Joan. Then it was off to the airport to return said car and wait for Joan to get there.

There were issues with her travel. Her plane was delayed from Vegas, so she missed her original connection in Seattle, which meant she was going to be very late getting in to Anchorage. So there was a fear of missing the boat. Fortunately, that fear was allayed because the very narrow tunnel, which is the only way to get to the dock, was closed for several hours due to an electrical problem. So even though she was late getting in, we still had to wait a bit before getting to the boat itself.

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After that was the cruise and then the bike ride home back to Vegas. Great trip! Can’t wait to do it or something like it again.

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