Friday, June 17, 2005

Tok RV Campground...Encore

Thursday Morning

Bird Creek Campground was the worst! My tent was no more than 100 feet from the highway centerline. In addition, construction commenced at 7:00 a.m., or earlier, and then there was the train. I refused to pay for this abuse. Packed up and moved on by 7:30.

Drove back to Anchorage and set up shop at "Kaladi Brothers" again. This time, I actually tapped into the free wireless service from the ice cream shop next door. Exchanged e-mails with Anne, and learned they would be at the BMW dealer today. I was planning to go later on as well.

"The Motorcycle Shop" on West Potter Drive seems to be the gathering place for adventurers in Alaska. I first met "Brad" from New Zealand (who is riding with Anne's group), then Sacha showed up and finally Anne arrived. It was good to see her again!

"Brad", who was riding an underpowered BMW 650 with a bad steering crown bearing, was multi-tasking. While stripping down the front end completely, to save the mechanics from having to do this, he was also arranging to buy an R1200GS in Montana (tax-free) to finish out his trip.

Sacha was replacing his rear tire. He also did most of the work, handing the mechanics the rear wheel so that all they needed to do was mount the tire. That seems to be the way this place works, so overloaded are the mechanics.

Another in the cast of characters, I was introduced to Ivan Pisarenko. He shipped his bike from Buenos Aires to Seattle and is riding to Prudhoe Bay, then to Tierra del Fuego.

"Eric", a salesman, was very patient and tried to appease frustrated customers. The mechanics were not so.

When they asked what I needed, I said "the 12,000-mile service." As with my car, I assumed they just had a standard list of checks performed at this interval. But I got a blank stare.

"So, what do you want us to do, change the oil?"

"I guess."

I had planned to have them change out the rear tire, but considering their workload for the day and my decision not to travel to Inuvik, I told them not to bother. It still has some life in it. As an afterthought, asked them to check the taillight failure warning. They replaced the bulb, even though it hadn't burned out. "The bike's computer is sensitive."

Then, after more thought (I'm not going to Inuvik, but I AM going over "The Top of the World Highway" to Dawson), I decided to purchase a rear tire and carry it along. "Who knows if I'll be able to find one of these tires when I finally need it." But it was quite costly: $213 friggin' bucks! (And that's U.S. bucks!)

Anne had been by yesterday to have work done on her bike, so she just had a few small tasks to do in the parking lot. Tried to assist as best I could.

As Brad and Sacha were in it for the long haul, and it was hot, and we were hungry, Anne and I went downtown for some lunch at "Humpy's", taking a table out on the back patio. Almost too warm here!

Annoyed later that I failed to take photos of the gang outside The Motorcycle Shop.

After lunch, bid farewell to Anne. She was on her way up to Denali. Their group would assemble in Fairbanks again, for the assault on the Dalton! (See Anne's website: Link)

Minutes after leaving "Humpy's", I was stuck in a traffic jam. In Alaska! I was incredulous. "This place is too damn popular!"

Turned east on the Glenn Highway. The heat was barely tolerable in my suit. Stopped along the way for soda and drank it standing in the air-conditioned store.

The Glenn Highway is a tricky road, with varying surfaces, narrow stretches, surprisingly abrupt curves and some exciting precipices!

The Chugach Mountains and Matanska Glacier field provided an awesome backdrop for the ride. I felt I should linger in this country for days, but I was also drawn to keep moving on toward Dawson.

The afternoon grew chilly (in dramatic contrast to this morning), as I drove towards Tok, a northwesterly wind blowing across my path. Late in the afternoon, I came upon a spectacular view of two mountains, Sanford and Blackburn, massive sentinels of the Wrangell Range. Each over 16,000 feet in height, they appeared to stand on a flat plain, their peaks capped in helmet-like clouds.

A long damp run into Tok seemed to drag on and on, and the cold was wearing me down. Reached town at 11:10. The Tok RV Campground office was closed, but I just took a site.

A warm shower felt great.

Plugged into the internet and worked until 3:00 a.m.

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