We made it to Fairbanks that afternoon. We didn't know anyone in town, but Cyrus found a couple guys that were working on a gold claim out in the middle of nowhere. A bush pilot named Les has been flying them supplies every week or so. We got in touch with him, who met us at a coffee shop in town. He's a really cool guy. Used to be a missionary in Africa, he's now a bush pilot in his early 50's. He just rode a brand new Harley Davidson from Ohio to Florida, to Alaska. That was in May, and he said throughout the entire trip he hit only 30 minutes of rain. That kind of upset me, since we'd probably been through over 20 hours of it already.
We'd never met Les before, but he said we could stay at his place that night, just outside of town. As we followed him on our bikes, Cyrus' throttle cable broke. I stayed with his bike while Cyrus took mine to a Harley shop nearby to find a new cable. Finally we got to Les' place, which was a really nice log house. We'd be staying outside in an old school bus that he'd turned into a pretty nice camper. We were invited inside to join the family in celebrating Les' birthday, so we got some free cake and ice cream, which was much appreciated. I got to use their washer that evening and washed my clothes for the first time in 20 days. That's got to be a new personal record. I only had two sets of clothes, and I was wearing every bit of it when it was cold. You'd be surprised how quick you get used to the smell when you're on the road that long.
In the morning I went looking for a new rear tire. The Harley shop didn't have one, but they pointed me to a smaller shop where I found one that would work. I then rode to Les' hangar nearby, where he let Cyrus and I work on the bikes. We both changed our oil and filters, and then used an engine hoist to raise my bike so we could remove the rear wheel.
At that point I realized I didn't have any way to get the wheel to the shop so they could put the new tire on. I just walked to the corner and stuck my thumb out. In 15 minutes or so, a guy with a truck gave me a lift to the shop down the road where I dropped off the wheel/tire and walked back to the hanger. A little later Les returned and we decided we'd like to spend a week with Cyrus' friends, out in the woods where they were panning for gold.
Les gave us a great deal by only charging us for the fuel that it would cost him to drop us off. We loaded the plane and took off from a small, gravel runway that was nearby.
He was a true bush pilot. Never filed a flight plan or got on his radio, just taxied down the road and took off. We flew for about 30 minutes to the south where they had personally cleared a runway 1800 feet long. The landing strip started at the edge of a cliff, which I could have sworn we were going to fly right into. But he pulled up at the last minute and set down on a grass strip, just wide enough for the wheels. The edges of the runway had lots of small trees and bushes that barely cleared the wings. The runway then went downhill slightly and turned a bit to the right, so he had to steer along it as we came to a stop next to a small shack.
That's the runway in front of the cabin, and the Totalanika River behind it.
I met William and Dan, two guys who were friends with Cyrus' family and had been working there for less than a week, checking the river for gold. They stayed in the shack in the picture above, and they had room for us, but we decided to stay in a different shack, about a hundred yards away, down an ATV trail. It was pretty cool; about 20' x 20' with four beds, a propane stove and a couple lights powered by a solar panel on the top of the cabin.
The cabin was covered with barbed wire to keep bears from getting too close and pushing their way through the walls... that was comforting.
There was no cell phone reception and no satellite phone. It felt great to be that secluded. We checked out the Totalanika River and tried fishing, but the water was still too murky from some recent rains.
Awesome article!!! Very inspiring and sounds like one helluva good time.
Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 11:26 AM
June-July 2010 I started on US-50 in Ocean City Maryland. Put my rear tire in the Atlantic Ocean and rode US-50 all the way to San Francisco where I put my front tire in the Pacific Ocean.
Then up the coast into Canada; back into Washington State; and home on US-2 along our northern border.
60 days, camping and cooking, just over 12,000 miles.
Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 6:09 PM
Great story telling. It is an adventure you will remember your entire lifetime. My husband and I are both retired Army and from one vet to another, thank you for your service. Not many are willing to risk all as you did. Well done and welcome home. Keep those wheels turning!
Fri Dec 9, 2011 at 9:13 PM
Awesome story bro. I enjoyed reading about your adventure. That's my kinda riding. Great trip and pictures.
Fri Aug 26, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Great trip...Great story!!! I'm leaving Afghanistan in June, will start my trip in Aug...I plan on taking
about two months also, but I'm going all the way up to Prudhoe Bay, and down to Anchorage, threw Fairbanks, and maby a ferry one way there, and drive the other way...THEN, I'm doing the 4 Corners Tour, with the Great American Motorcycle Adventure together, and plan on hitting all 49 states before I'm finished.
Starting at Fort Hood Tx, and Ending in San Diego, Ca. But probably have to go it alone. Should still be fun!
Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 5:35 AM
Great read - I've ridden from Alabama to Utah via South Dakota and Yellowstone, and need another long trip. You have inspired me. I've been chained to my desk for too many years.
And, most importantly, THANK YOU for your service to our country! We have the freedom to be able to ride because of you and all of those like you. An Air Force vet.
Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 6:35 PM
I was at a point where i was debating getting out of the service. ive loved every minute of it but am ready for a change. reading this article was a great influence. to be able to go out whenever without having to take leave. awesomely inspireing. thank you for serving.
*indiana born and raised
Wed May 19, 2010 at 9:47 AM
Really great travel log Trevor - truly inspiring. Thank you.
Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:45 AM
Thanks for all the comments guys, I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Check out the video at: www.trevstravelblog.com
I'm riding the Dragon in TN next week, and might be heading to Mexico this summer; best of luck to everyone taking on their own adventure.
Tue Mar 9, 2010 at 9:38 PM
Awsome, reminds me of Redline America
check it out if you haven't yet. Definately worth it.
Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 10:53 PM
Excellent, excellent, excellent!'
I'm riding from Key West Florida to Homer Alaska this June and I vicariously already made the trip thanks to your great article.
Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 7:21 PM
I had many such adventures thirty+ years ago. Well told on your part, live large. I'm thinkin perhaps I have one more left in me. Don't get chained to the wants of life, it will destroy your best. Ride, Ride, Ride!!
Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 9:29 AM
Im glad you got the opportunity to pull off an epic ride like that. I try to do that every couple of years. And now you have fired me up for my next ride! Very well written, I could relate with the different aspects of your ride as I am sure others can too. I often felt as if I were on the road with you guys. Im old Army and want to thank you, from one soldier to another, for your service. It seems vets really can appreciate the freedom of an epic ride for what it REALLY is, a chance to enjoy the freedom that we fought for and our buddies died for. Ride safe, ride long and always remember to ride for those who can't.God's speed brother.
Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 9:08 PM
Again, a great story. As I wait here in Georgia to get thru one of the coldest winters on record, I dream about getting on my new Yamaha vstar 1300 and doing something like this. I am glad you were able to do this after serving time in Iraq. Welcome home!
Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 9:42 AM
A buddy of mine and I are in the planning stages of an approx. 6-week trip from Charleston, SC to Denali park in AK and back, with lots of off-road routes through the wild wild West.
Great story - thanks for the insight on good stops through Canada, it gives us food for thought before we head out later this summer. Keep on with the Roads Less Traveled, they're definitely WORTH it!
*BTW, we are leaving my Honda VT800 and his HD Road King at home for this long ride - we're guessing about 10k+ miles roundtrip - and taking our new BMW dual sports bikes instead...F800GS & F1200GSA, respectively. Don't think our road cruisers would handle the trip as well as the Beemers. Also hope to post a good story & pics like yours when we make it back.
Thu Jan 7, 2010 at 6:50 AM
Just wanted to say what a great read. I've ridden further in one day but the riding conditions were about as perfect as could be. P.S. I hate being cold and wet!
Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 9:14 PM
Nice job, dudes.
Sat Nov 28, 2009 at 3:13 AM
Thanks for the ride friend. Felt like I was with you.
Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 4:53 PM
Sounds like the trip of a lifetime. It's been on my list of trips I want to take but will have to wait until retirement for the time needed but your story rekindled the fire.Great story and pictures, Thanx
Sun Sep 13, 2009 at 7:22 AM
Absolutely fantastic journey! Memories for your later years. Keep riding and ride safe!
Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 6:02 AM
Dude, thank you so much for the temporary escape from my desk. I am an Army vet and a native Montanian so I didnt have a very hard time relating.
Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 5:28 PM
Ride on Marine and great story! Semper Fi!
Mon May 25, 2009 at 8:01 AM
Looks like fun. Reminds me of what I have been cooking up in my twisted head for after I get out of the Navy in a year....
Sat May 23, 2009 at 4:07 PM
Outfrickin'standing!!! great journey, people, scenery, pictures, a brother to do it with and I'm sure lessons learned for the next ride!
Wed Apr 8, 2009 at 11:16 AM
Great story, Great trip. That makes me want to pack!!!
The pictures were awesome. Hope to read some more of your adventures.
Tue Mar 31, 2009 at 6:20 PM
I'm inspired - well done
Tue Mar 31, 2009 at 5:32 PM
I hope to get the chance to do a ride similar to this one day, after reading this it might be sooner than I planned! :) Loved the article.
Mon Mar 30, 2009 at 5:43 AM