So after about a week of messing around in the woods, Les came and picked us up on June 24th. Back at his hanger in Fairbanks, Cyrus picked up my rear wheel with a new tire and we put it back on my bike before riding back to Les' where we spent another night in his camper.
In the morning I stopped by the post office and mailed home some gear that I hadn't been using to make some more space in my bags, which made life a lot simpler. I even had enough room to fit an entire six-pack in one of my saddlebags, so that was pretty cool. It was a decent day as we headed south on highway 3. There was a fair amount of traffic on this stretch of road between Fairbanks and Anchorage. We came upon an area where at least 5 RVs had pulled off the road and their inhabitants were walking around, pointing cameras towards a lake. One RV driver stood on the shoulder, and as he saw us approaching, he began pointing desperately towards the lake, as though Jesus Christ himself had been seen strolling atop the water (I would have pulled over for that). But then he put his hands near his head like antlers, signifying that there was indeed a moose nearby. I just laughed inside my helmet as we rode by, imagining what the locals must think of these people.
We drove near Denali National Park to a huge resort called McKinley Princess Lodge where my friend Mark had been working as a waiter over the summer. We found him in the restaurant where he was having dinner before starting his evening shift. We joined him for a beer and talked out each other's summers before Cyrus continued south to Palmer, a city just north of Anchorage where he would stay with some family friends. I rode into a nearby town and got dinner and beers for the evening, then joined Mark when he got off work around 9pm. We walked down to a spot on the river where lots of the resort staff hangs out at night. Some other kids had a campfire going and we hung out there drinking for a few hours. I had a good time catching up with him and meeting several of his new friends. Mark found me a bed to stay in that night, which was great. In the morning, which happened to be Mark's birthday, we got some breakfast before I hit the road.
That's Mt McKinley on the left, North America's tallest peak at 20,320 feet.
Since Cyrus had spent the night in Palmer, we decided to just ride separately and meet back in Tok, at the same campground we'd stayed at our first night in Alaska. It was a pretty nice day, and I made good time riding through Wasilla and Palmer, then northeast to Tok. Once I got away from the cities, it was a really scenic ride. I arrived at the campsite a couple hours later than Cyrus who already had some beers chilling in the creek.
On June 27th, just outside of Tok we got on the Top of the World Highway, which took us north on another bad road. Lots of gravel, and it gained elevation pretty quick. It was cloudy all day, but the scenery was spectacular. Big hills as far as you could see. It reminded me a bit of Scotland.
The gravel slowed us down to less than 40 mph in most places, so we weren't making great time but it didn't really matter. We spotted a moose in a creek, just off the road. It's ridiculous how big those things are in person; like giraffes with shorter necks. They kind of run like giraffes too, just sort of float across the ground much more gracefully than you'd expect something that big to be.
We got gas in the town of Chicken, which was really small and seemed to survive on tourism, thanks to its odd name. Lots of goofy merchandise like the hat Cyrus bought with a picture of a chicken next to a broken egg that said "I got laid in Chicken, Alaska.' Eventually we made it to the border and after having our passports checked, we were waved right into the Yukon. The scenery just kept getting better. We seemed to be the only ones on the road, as we cruised up, over and around the most beautiful hills I've ever seen, with massive valleys in between.
I don't think we saw anyone else on cruisers during that ride. Most were on enduro bikes like BMWs and stuff. They could ride a lot faster on those roads, but I preferred to take it easy and enjoy the scenery. We got to the Yukon River, where a free ferry service took us to the other side. We'd heard that you can wait up to 3 hours, especially when there's a bunch of giant RVs waiting to get across, but there wasn't a line when we arrived so we got right on. On the other side of the river was Dawson City, which is easily one of my favorite cities of the trip. The town looked really old, but was in great shape. There was a kayak race going on that day, so a lot of people were in town. We got lunch at a bar & grill. Everyone was sitting inside, but the sun had just come out so we grabbed a table outside. A few people followed suit, but right after we got our food a cloud rolled in and brought some intense gusts of wind and a little rain. Everyone ran for cover but we just kept eating; it wasn't anything we weren't used to.
The roads improved a lot as we headed southeast and finished the Top of the World Highway. We kept riding until it got too dark, and did around 415 miles that day.
Campgrounds in the Yukon provide free firewood, which is pretty cool. It's not split though, just big logs, some with diameters over a couple feet. It's not easy to split them with just a hatchet, but we managed.
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