Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Trip to Denali 2016

Our trip to Denali N.P

Earlier this month Sharon mentioned she always wanted to visit Denali National Park. We've lived in Alaska awhile and had only driven up to the park once. And we wanted to spend a little time there so we decided on a short overnight,

Six years ago when I first put the sidecar on my bike, we took a ride across the 
Denali Highway. 

Denali Highway

Denali Highway
Denali Highway is a lightly traveled, mostly gravel highway in the U.S. state of Alaska. It leads from Paxson on the Richardson Highway to Cantwell on the Parks Highway. Opened in 1957, it was the first road access to Denali National Park. Since 1971, primary park access has been via the Parks Highway, which incorporated a section of the Denali Highway from Cantwell to the present-day park entrance. The Denali Highway is 135 miles in length.
  • Length: 135 miles (217.26 km)
  • Formed: 1953
And we stayed at a real nice place that was situated on the Denali Highway and was real clean and reasonably priced but unfortunately I didn't remember the name of the of the place. 

So I went to AirB&B to see if I could find a place to stay, I typed in Cantwell and this picture showed up for the cost of $ 70.00 per night. Generally the prices around Cantwell run $70 at the low to $180. for the high, we're just looking for a place to sleep, $70 sounds pretty good

Follow Link for information on Cantwell

The place we stayed in six years ago was the the Backwoods Lodge  which is at
 .2 mi. on the Denali Highway and the other is 2mi on the Denali Highway. I pulled into the Backwoods Lodge and was told there were no rooms available and that I never made any reservation with them. I immediately called the number I had on my phone and found out that I really messed up and I should have been at 2 miles on the Denali 

Follow link to where I thought we were going to be staying

The place we actually ended up staying

The building we stayed in is actually a refurbished Man Camp that was gotten off the north slope. The owner added quite a bit of money and time at covering the outside with wood so that it looked less industrial.   

Below is a actual man camp on Prudhoe Bay the building we stayed in is 200 ft long

Sharon wasn't that impressed with the accommodations

There were two doors in each rooms and Sharon thought they were bath rooms but then realized that they were closets  

The bathrooms were way down the hallway

I didn't have any problem sleeping

The Raven was right outside the window

But we're just sleeping here for one night

Inside the visitors centers they have some beautiful dioramas 

Denali and the Alaskan Range View from the South

Definitely the best view to see Denali is from Talkeetna on a clear day

Picture taken from the end of main street Talkeetna Alaska

Looking at the Alaska Range from the park entrance

Our typical ride home with rain potential

Outside the park it really gets pretty commercial 

Follow this link

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rest Of The Story Part 3

I'm not really sure how long Chris's and friends adventure was going to be, but from the quick itinerary that was mentioned to me I figured it would be about 10 days. I received a call or a message telling me they were in Valdez and probably be at our place the next day. 

We were looking forward to hearing all about their trip. Afternoon came and so did all the riders, finally Chris and Rebecca pulled in with the Raven. We walked up to Chris and Rebecca and jubilantly asked "How was the Trip" (and they said, the sidecar broke.)

I just couldn't believe it, we had just come back from a trip to California, two days before Chris picked up the Raven I did a speed run over Hatcher Pass, Chris and his wife just came from Valdez Alaska via the state ferry and drove in to my front yard with this broken sidecar. 
We asked are you kidding?

Chris went on to explain that a weld on the sidecar had broken but that they were able to make some repairs to get it going again.

The broken weld happened on the McCarthy Road 

This is rough 60 mile dirt in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, making it a little more challenging now that tourist season was over so there is not a lot of traffic to be seen. Amazingly they had found a local fellow that had a shop and had a generator for   

Chris showed me exactly what broke loose and why, he then went on to explain that the repairs that were completed in the field, and said that he would send some pictures as soon as he was able to. And that we would keep in touch via phone and mail. I ask him if it was safe to drive, and he gave me a affirmative answer. And the more I thought about it after the break was repaired and the trusses installed it was probably stronger then when I gave it to him. 

The next day I received quite a few pictures of the sidecar and repairs from Chris, that and the crew of riders did. And I was surprised to see Steve and Mark a couple of friends of mine from Willow Alaska and were on a forum I follow were on the ride and did some of the repairs to the sidecar. After seeing the pictures I then decided to give Steve a call and get his side of the story He told me the breakdown happened about six miles this side of McCarthy and they were able to find a guy that had some power from a generator and a torch.  He asked me what I was going to do, and I told him I wasn't sure yet. I asked him if it was strong enough to ride, he said he couldn't see why not.

So we took a quick spin up to Eklutna village and lake I was so curious to see how it would drive 

September 29, 2014  Sharon and I take a quick spin to Eklutna village and then to Eklutna Lake w/old frame

The only thing missing since the wreck was the control of the electric trim/tilt control mechanism . this adjusts the bike/sidecar attitude on off camber roads. I had it out of adjustment the first time I attached the sidecar to the bike. So it's no big thing.

Chris not only sent me the pictures but he also sent them to DMC. And he kept constant at keeping me informed on how the progress was going.

It was during this time that a few folks in the hack community on ADV Rider were feuding  with DMC. It seem that there were a few breakdowns similar to mine and the owner  of DMC wasn't that straightforward telling or admitting to people that there was a problem with the frame. 
In fact Chris asked me not to post anything it on ADV Rider, I think so I wouldn't get caught up in it. but even though I never posted anything, I started getting e-mails and pm's from folks I didn't know. Wanting to know what happened I don't really know what went on between Chris and Jay, but I do know that when this whole thing happened I was way out of time any type of warranty. 

Jay called me up and asked  me what I wanted like to do, after giving it a lot of thought, I just asked for a new frame, completely powder coated. He said ok and he'll get right on it. I was shocked it was so easy. 

So in the beginning of November Chris gave me a call to check on the progress of getting my parts delivered. I told him I was still waiting. He went ahead and e-mailed Jay to check on the progress, and he explained that they had to make a type of hybrid to fit the older parts that I had up here in Alaska.   

So then it was time to continue riding in October it started getting a little chillier so it was time to put on the Hippo Hands 

October 2 2014 time to install the Hippo Hands (wind protectors for hand grips)

I received the new frame and fender and stored it temporarily until I took the time to install it. The weather cooperated that year so it was still time to ride. 
February 17 2015 Hatcher Pass still running the old frame

On February 23 2015 I decided it was time to get the show on the road and change the frame out

A good friend of mine that lives in my subdivision, graciously offered his help and his warm garage to do the work in.

Step 1 remove sidecar body

Step 2 Compare old frame to new frame

A bit of a closer look

You can see the upright tube now has a truss attached to it, and the rear tube now has a second piece of tubing installed.

All of the above were the same changes that were made by

Chris, Mark and Steve in the field at the end of a dirt road in the middle of the Alaskan Wilderness

Step 3 Put it back together

The only problem was the new fender that was sent was to small to fit
I took the measurements and took some pictures  and sent it to Jay at DMC in the meantime I bolted and ty-wrapped the old fender in place.

I received a new fender with-in the week

I can't say enough about Chris, Mark and Steve for the repairs they did under some of the worst conditions.

The Raven was able to be part of a two page photo layout

In OTL Magazine

Brought to you by Nomad Cinematics 

Again a special thanks to Chris Canterbury and Boxer Metal

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rest Of The Story Part 2

And then it was time to get back riding again, a couple of sidecarest friends of mine, one in Colorado and the other in Fairbanks (Dom and Richard) were supposed to be doing a Ural sponsored rally day. So I thought I would give it a go and take a short ride I ended up doing 89.7 mi which equates to 144.4 km .

It was great to really get back in the saddle, and all and all, it was a great day.

As most motorcyclist will agree I think, we all buy gear and gizmos that will improve our ride, make  us safer we think. But not everything works out. Before I put a sidecar on my bike, I bought some high tech weatherproof motorcycle boots. And since having the sidecar I changed my boots to something  a little lighter. So it was time to try to sell the boots that weren't doing any one any good.

 I posted the boots on Craigslist and a couple weeks before my ride up to Hatcher a fellow came by to look at the boots. He introduced himself as Eric Christensen who is a insurance broker that has his business in Palmer Alaska. He tried the boots on, but they were two large for him. While we were talking he noticed my sidecar rig that was parked in its portable garage. We talked a bit about it and then he went his way.

 I'm not sure exactly what day it was but on Monday or Tuesday I received a call from a fellow who said he was a friend of Eric Christensen and his name was Chris Canterbury. I recognized his name from a forum that I follow on ADV Rider, and I knew he made sidecars and in fact he even made a espresso unit for a sidecar he built.
He explained  the ride that he was coming up to Alaska to do and that he was bringing his wife Rebecca with him, as it was their anniversary. And he asked if I would let him use my outfit for this particular ride, as he would feel a lot more comfortable with a sidecar rig then riding two-up with his wife. I must have said OK because on Wednesday morning he gave me a call say he would be at my house in about an hour.

My wife Sharon asked me if this was going to be all right,  this was one of the few time during our marriage that she posed this type of question to me,  heck I bought the house we live in while she was in Chicago visiting her mom. And that turned out alright. But it did give me a start, so I wrote up a small agreement and made sure I had a copy of his drivers license.  

Unfortunately I wasn't even sure on how to spell Chris's last name, its Canterbury.
Anyway Chris and his wife show up along with about 8 other riders, and their time constraints took over, Chris signed the agreement and gave me a copy of his drivers license, I gave him the key and they all went on their adventure. I wish I would have been able to spend a little time with Chris and Rebecca. With that many folks it had to be like herding cats.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Rest Of The Story Part 1

              Please check the Hyper Links    Recap 2014

On  July 28, 2014 I posted this recap to this blog, I had been home eleven days since leaving California 

A fellow sidecarest from Fairbanks got in touch with me and told me about this fellow Mike and that I would really enjoy meeting him. I contacted him via the Adventure Riders Forum and invited him to some Alaskan Hospitality. We were fortunate to be able to spend a couple days August 11,12 and talk about his adventures. We do stay in touch and he is planning to try to come back up here during the summer of 2017

Mike Saunders with his Ruckus

August  14, 2014 The Raven came back to Wasilla

Eureka California    July 16, 2014 Pick-Up by Ship My Ride

Harley Davidson Dealership Wasilla Alaska August 14, 2014

It took about a month to get the Raven from Eureka to Wasilla which really isn't that bad considering it was on a barge from San Francisco. Now it was time to take it home and unload and clean everything up. As all our gear was still packed on it, damp tent, tarp, clothes, camping gear. riding gear, when we left to come home we only had the clothes on our back.

Friday, July 24, 2015

What to do if you have 10 days and want to see Alaska

Sharon made a connection with her third cousin via Facebook about a year ago. 

As time went on Sharon invited her up to visit. And to our surprise she accepted the invitation, and asked if her brother could come along with her.

Sharon was elated ! She went ahead and made up an itinerary that would cover the the complete time that her cousins were up here. She picked this little trick up from her sister when we would visit England, with an itinerary your sure not to miss a good attraction and to see as much as we can in 10 days.

Stacy is 25, and Cory is 28 both were born and raised in Arizona. And we had never met face to face before.

Leaving Arizona

On the way

Clear flying

Arrival in Alaska

Back yard around 10:00 P.M.
Bob and Sharons' guard dogs        Lilly and Lolly

They arrived in Alaska at 5:45 in the afternoon on Sunday July 12. We picked them up at the airport and brought them to Wasilla, had a quite dinner and learned a little about each other. We then went on to explain what our plans were going to be for their visit. And explained we're not going to have that many Down Days

 Iditarod Headquarters

Woke up early Monday morning and headed towards the Iditarod Headquarters which is in Wasilla.

Stacy and Cory
Cory found a new friend a real Alaskan Sled Dog

Sled Dogs are hard to pass up

Taking a dog sled ride with Ramie Redington, the son of Joe Redington Sr.
The father of the Iditarod


Palmer Alaska

Next stop was Palmer for a quick lunch and then a trip up to Hatcher Pass

Palmer Alaska

Matanuska River

The weather is starting to close in a little bit time to move up to the mountains

A historical center  refurbished by the State Parks

Mountain Rain

Moose Guard made of  branches

Stopped to visit a friend on the way back from Hatcher Pass
Day Two

Turnagain Arm Drive

The ride to Seward Alaska is just at 4hrs long. Our reservations with Kenai Fjords Tour Company was for the 12:00. Alaska is right in the middle of it's construction season, so we made sure we were on the rode a by 7:00 AM. It was raining the whole way to Seward, but thank goodness it stopped on our arrival.

Well we made with out to much time to spare

Sharon and myself

Kayakers just out cruising around

Fjords are mountains that come directly out of the sea.

Hanging Glaciers

Great Meal included Prime Rib, Salmon, for $12.00 Addit. Crab Legs. All you can eat

View off Porch you can eat outside weather permitting

Families skipping rocks together

Our meal at Fox Island,  all you can eat WOW

So our day started out at 7:00 AM,  we arrived in Seward for a 12:00 sailing.

The tour took about 5 hrs to complete. We had reservations at the Land's End Resort that evening. Getting to Homer going to be another 4+ hours

Day Three

View from our rooms at Lands End Resort

Infamous Salty Dog Bar in Homer Alaska

The inside of the bar is plastered with dollar bills  with names or sayings on them

And naturally Stacy and Cory added their dollar to posterity 

We had an additional stop to make before we headed for home base

Alaska Wildlife Conservatory

Beautiful setup  for seeing live bears

Yup thats a lounge bear

It's about the time for the bears to be fed, 3:30 for Black Bear 4:30 for Brown Bear

The next stop was home because we have in Talkeetna Alaska to ride some Zip Lines

Day 4

From left to right Bob, Cory, Stacy, Sharon, And another couple from Arizona 

Stacy getting wild

Hanging out in the trees

Short Rappel

Hanging out in the trees

One of Two Rope Bridges

Add caption

The whole gang
Zipping is over

The last ride

Next stop is Home and packing for the trip to McCarthy. This is going to be a modified camping trip we just need to get together sleeping pads, sleeping bags, one large tent small cook stove for coffee-hot chocolate. We'll be eating our meals in restaurants

McCarthy is about 300 miles away from our house, the last 60 miles of which is probably best driven at 20-30mph it is a dirt road. We have been going there since 1984 a year after a guy who used to live there tried to kill the entire town

Days 5-6

To get to McCarthy you have to travel up the Glenn Highway, there is always a lot of construction during the summer time. But this sign really caught my attention.

The drop wasn't that bad but you can never be to sure.

The Matanuska Glacier

This glacier carved out the valley we now live in.

An Alaskan tip. It's always chilly standing in front of a Alaskan Glacier,

Alaska Pipeline

Alaska Pipeline

Looking South

Edgerton Highway going to Chitna Alaska

About 17 miles on the road you get the opportunity to cross the Kuskulana River

When me and Sharon first came across this bridge it didn't have any guard rails. Just 12 x12 timbers on each side
Needless to say we never got out of the car.

Did I tell everyone the road that we were driving on was the roadbed for the railroad that took the copper from the Kennicott Mill to Cordova Alaska. They had to build quite a few bridges to be able to make that trip

Some history on this Bridge, Double click on this link

This Bridge was built in 11 days

A good friend of mine did some wild camping  here a couple of years ago

11 days to build that Amazing

Swans and their family         They bond for life

Since the Park Service took over they built quite a few way stations for people

And the interiors are clean and stocked

A beaver lodge on a pretty good sized lake

The town has changed quite a bit since we've been coming here but I think it's all been for the good

McCarthy the reality show on Discovery channel

Waiting for the bus to get to Kennicott

Stacy going native with her head covering

Kennicott History Click here to see

Kennicott was the copper mine and McCarthy was the place where the single men could unwind.

There is a separation of seven miles between the two. Today there is a shuttle service that will transport you from the bridge to McCarthy and back no charge. If you want to make the trip up to Kennicott the shuttle charges $5.00 one way or $10.00 round trip

14 Story Concentration Mill
The Kennicott  Recreation Center

The copper ore went from here to Cordova Alaska

I have always been amazed that those stacks never fell over

The building on the left is the Hospital it was originally whitewashed. The rest of the buildings were all painted red as the color was the least expensive

The Power House

This was Cory's very first camping trip

Our Campsite

Day Seven

We brake down the camp and are on the road by 8:00

Heading to Valdez to catch the ferry to Whittier

Along the way  we get to see a little wildlife

Some of the little guys have never seen cars or trucks

And it's evident, as to how close you are able to get to them

I told you a friend of ours, Mike Saunders did some wild camping on this spot

The amazing Copper River

On the way in to McCarthy while driving down the Edgerton Highway, we passed a very clean farm-ranch, but what caught my eye was the word Fithian that was carved in to a log sign and that was the only thing that I saw racing by at 60 mph. Sharon and I have been in Alaska for 35 years and during that time I have only met one person with that name, I told Sharon we're going to have to stop on the way to Valdez. Coming from the other direction on the road I almost missed it.

I pulled in to the front yard and there was a small cabin, but the main house was a little further in on the property. Now remember I've not set my eyes on this man in close to 30 years. I call out two or three times, hello anybody here. I'm just about ready to give up, when this guy pops out of the house tossing on a cowboy hat, Our eyes catch each others and we both call out to each other Bob. I couldn't believe it.

Bob and I both worked at the Independence Mine. I had come up fromWyoming, and he had come up from Colorado. He stayed in the mining industry and branched out to a lot of different things. His oldest son is 30 yrs. And he has 12 grandchildren. We swapped some stories and promised to get back together again

Two old Miners
It was great meeting up with you and Barb again.

One of many Yaks
I think this is a bull

Bob and his wife Barbaras' Ranch

Double Click on the link ( great clip of a yak stampede)

Alaska Yaks

Worthington Glacier in Keystone Canyon on the way to Valdez Alaska.

Summer Vacation Stacy and Cory

Bridal Vail Falls in Keystone Canyon 

I believe this is Horsetail Falls in Keystone Canyon

Bridle Vail Falls

Catching up 

Lunch at the Fat Mermaid in Valdez Alaska

Hard to believe anyone can bite into a burger like Cory

How to take a bath in a public washroom

Day Eight

Getting ready to get on the ferry that will take us to Whittier the only problem it is leaving at 7:00 in the morning And we have to be ready to board at 6:00.  So the four of us decide We'll just sleep in the truck, Note to self do not do again, we would have been better off just sleeping on the grass oh well live and learn.

The trip between Valdez and Whittier is a little over 4 hours, a very pleasant ride via the

Whittier Alaska

The only place to eat in Whittier Alaska

After a quick lunch at the Swiftwater Cafe, we are heading out for the Alaska Wildlife Conservatory
On the other side of the mountain, but first we are going to take a ride thru a 2.5 mile long Whittier Tunnel

We're going to be driving behind a camper unit

Here we go

On the other side of the mountain is Portage Lake. When we first came came to Alaska  you were able to see the glacier, but it has receded around to the left of the mountain in front of you. 

And this is just for your enjoyment

Live Bear-Salmon Cam From Katmai National Park

I hope you all enjoy please send comments