Thursday, May 14, 2015
Next inline on our route was Cullasaja Falls. This fall was unreachable by path but could be seen by the side of the road. Pretty but hard to see.
The road in this area were tight and curvy. I like that very much.
Up next and also right on the side of the road was Quary falls. The only issue I had here was parking the bike. The grade was steeper than it looked and I couldn’t find a spot to that would allow me to put the kickstand down. Finally, I turned the bike with the grade and left her in gear and she was parked. It was a little fall, but a fall that was worth seeing.
Dry Falls was next inline and my favorite of the day. You could walk behind this water fall and see the water falling off the ledge. This is a must see falls.
Silver Run Fall was next inline and the one thing to note here if your on a big cruiser, be prepared to wince when you see the parking. Nothing but gravel, on a 5 to 8% grade and 6 to 8 inch ruts. Then once you manage to get settled and parked, you have to exit. I pulled in parallel and then asked Lori to get off the bike. Then I started backing down the incline toward to the guard rail and turning at the same time. Can’t use the rear brakes because I’m not that good and needed my feet for balance. Front brake got to the point where they wouldn’t hold the 950pound beast from sliding backwards, so I put it in gear, slide extra support pad under the kickstand and left her where she was. I do not think Lori was to keen to sit on the bike while I got ready to bolt toward the road, but she got on. Looked left and right, and then let her rip up and over the 6 inch ledge on road and bounced to safety. hehe. The Falls, I almost forgot. This is the one the peeps go back to to swim. Nice little pool below the water fall is very calm. Was it worth the parking? Sure, that’s part of the adventure.
Bridal Veil was the next inline and was different in that you could drive underneath it and take pictures. There was not much water or much to see. The guys on the sports bike staying at the same hotel as us, just happen to be there the same time as us. I didn’t want to wait for all the posing, so I took a quick picture of them and left.
Last waterfall of the day was the largest of the day. Unfortunately there was no way to get really close. It was a 1/2 mile walk back to an overlook. Then the second overlook was a little further down some steps to a platform. I estimate that we were still 1/4 mile away in a straight line. Still an awesome sight but I really wanted to get closer.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Transition day. We woke up to a steady rain again this morning and it is exactly what I was expecting. So we ate, packed, and said our goodbyes to our host at the B&B. I actually talked to him about coming back March 2015 so we could witness the Northern lights. I’m going to consider this highly and I imagine I will make it happen. He told us he got married last January outside on a sunny day and the temperature was 10 degrees. These pure breed Alaskans are crazy.
Today we left Fairbanks by 9:30am and drove the entire 370 miles without a lunch break. We did have a snack or two in the car and we did take one gas break, among other things. :) We didn’t take but six pictures because for the most part we couldn’t see anything. Lori saw her moose run across the yard at the B&B, so our trip is complete.
Tonight when we went to eat at a Greek restaurant, the woman who greeted us to seat us did something that I’ve never in my 53 years of life seen. She actually greeted us both with a hug, smile, and a welcome before seating us. She had to be 70 or more. Great waitress and after dinner, she even gave both of us a hug goodbye. Even if the food was terrible, wouldn’t that make you feel great to be greeted that way? It wasn’t creepy at all. It was like my mother greeting us. I had Lasagna and Lori had Calzone and even though mine was a little bland, everything else was yummy. The bread was really good. Pizza Olympia was the place and if you fly into Anchorage, put it on your list if you need a hug and Greek/Italian food. :)
Tomorrow we plan on getting a slow start, checkout, and then roam around Anchorage all day until it is time to head to the airport. Out flight lifts off for Chicago at 10:06pm. Touchdown at Dulles around 11:30am. So I should have a day and half to get back in sync with east coast time.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I knew before I woke up this morning that I had a plan for rain and a plan for sunshine. I also knew that I had a 100% chance of rain, so the plan for rain won. So with it raining, there was no great hurry to get our day started, because the museums didn’t open until 9 and 11am. So we got ready, ate breakfast and then hit the road for the first museum around 9:30.
The University of Alaska of the North was first on the list and it was basically a museum that broke the state up in pieces and then showed the people, history, animals, and artifacts from different eras. One of the best items to see was the Grizzly that stood 8 foot tall and the estimated weight was 1400 pounds. It was stuffed and dead, so no close encounters happened. The next item was the mummified Bison that was dated back 36,000 years. This was also pretty cool because even though it was likely killed by a predator, the Bison’s body survived for some reason and was frozen until found some years later. Lot’s of years. After this part of the museum came the paintings or art stuff and I’m not really into that, so we kind of blew through that part. There are a lot of talented people out there, but I’ve just never been into paintings.
The next museum though was right up my alley. The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum was packed with old cars from 1898 to 1938. Every car on the floor ran, except 3, and was driven at least once a year to ensure that it is running and functional. What a gem! If you ever make it to Fairbanks this is a must see even if you're not really into old cars, the craftsmanship of these automobiles were incredible. Things we think today are new, are just rehashed ideas from days gone by. They had three electric cars on the floor built in the 10’s and 20’s that could be driven 70 miles on a single charge. Hell, even the modern cars today can’t hardly do that, with the exception of the Tesla. They had a Stanley Steamer on the floor. So how many miles to the gallon of water did they get? Any guesses? 1 mile per gallon of water. There was so much to see and so much to drool over that it was sensory overload. I did wonder, but didn’t ask, what was the value of all the cars together on the floor ?
Ok, so after these two museums, we called it a day and came back to the B&B to watch the final game between UVA and Vanderbilt. It was a very tight game and very well played for the most part, but UVA came up 1 run short. Tip your hat to Vandy on the win and maybe next year will be UVA’s turn.
Tomorrow we pack our bags and drive back to Anchorage to setup for Friday’s departure. So I doubt I will have many pictures tomorrow unless something comes up out of the blue. The other sad part is that it is forecast to rain from Fairbanks to Anchorage, so that will also make traveling fun. Friday we will tour around Anchorage all day and then catch a flight out at 10:06pm Alaska time or 2:06am east coast time. I bet we will be a couple of tired puppies when we touch down at Dulles at 11:30am Saturday morning. Temperature wise it will also be a body shock for us. I actually bought me a short sleeve shirt here just for the flight home because all I have with me is long sleeve cold gear made by Under Armor.
That’s it for now with the exception that right at this moment in time I feel like I’m trying to come down with a cold. Err, this will not make me happy. I will know for sure in the morning, but let’s just hope it’s allergies.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Today we awoke to overcast skies and temps around 60 degrees. The forecast was 60-70% chance of rain, but this was not going to slow us down. So we showered and then trotted over to the main cabin or lodge and ate our breakfast fixed by our host. They did not disappoint. Scrambled egg casserole with at least green peppers and onions baked in, bacon, and large variety of fruits and breads. The lodge was beautiful inside and was built and decorated with their personalities. The view out the windows was of the Denali National Park, which was at least 100 miles away. Still very visible.
The main objective for today was to reach Chena Hot Springs and checkout the springs. At first I wasn’t really thrilled about the idea of jumping in the springs, but after walking around the back of the building where you paid and then got dressed, we decided to give it a shot. It was a lot warmer than I expected. The sulphur smell in the area was there but not overbearing. We stayed in the water for a total of maybe 30 to 40 minutes, not continuous, but no more than a total of 5 minutes out of the water and I think we got a little overheated. It did feel incredibly wonderful, but I would not recommend staying in the water more than 20-30 minutes at a time. After sitting out for about 15 minutes I felt fine, but I could tell that the body temperature was higher than normal which makes you feel a little weird. Come to find out, the day before passed out in the pool because they became dehydrated and a bit overheated. No harm was done, but it was a little bizarre to hear that it happened. The picture below is an overhead shot that I got from the web. The place is worth seeing and checking out, but I think it would be better to see in the winter time.
After we did the pool thing, we moseyed over to the resort restaurant. I had my first Salmon BLT with fries. It was yummy. Lori had a Salmon burger and she seemed happy with her choice also. The highlight of lunch though was watching a squirrel race inside the restaurant, grab tissues out of the trash can, and then rush back outside to store stolen item in his or her nest.
The rest of the day was spent traveling back to Fairbanks just see what there was to see. Nothing really exciting on the drive by of the town, but I do have a couple of cute stories.
First, I decided to pull into a manual carwash and finally get the dirt and grim out of the rims, and also knock some of the dirt off the SUV so you wouldn’t get your hands dirty every time you reached for the door handle. If you brushed up against the SUV, you were guaranteed to get dirty. But before I started to clean, I walked over to the other bay and started a conversation with a dual sport rider. He was knocking all the dirt off the bike from driving partially up the haul road. I asked if he ran the entire 1000 mile round trip and he said no. He only made it to the Arctic circle, which was nothing. That’s only 400 mile round trip. Wimp!! :) I talked to this guy for a good 20 minutes and Lori was about to send out Search and Rescue, when I finally bid him ado, and walked back to my bay. I get lost in the conversation when you start talking motorcycles and adventure. Add a Dual Sport to the conversation, and I’m there for a hour at least.
Ok, so I basically just power washed the SUV and wheels with clear water and when I was done, it looked much better. Problem!! When we reached a speed 40mph of greater, the entire SUV started shaking rather uncomfortably. Lori thought we had a flat, but I knew what it was. Back to the carwash we go. So I put Lori in the driver seat, and I started power washing the rims again. Once I was happy, I had her put it in gear and roll forward until the wheels rolled 180 degrees. Then I power washed them again. Problem solved !! So much mud and muck was left behind the first power wash that they were thrown out of balance.
Those were my cute stories. Now the silly thing we did, was make sure we were back to the B&B in time to watch UVA beat Vanderbilt in the College World Series, game 2 of 3. They are now both 1-1, so tomorrows game decides the winner of the Series. Pretty cool stuff for both these teams because neither one has ever won the CWS. Of course I have to pulling for the home state team. Go UVA !!
Tomorrow we will visit at least 2 museums and if we have time, 3. Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, University of Alaska Museum of the North, and Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitor Center . This will also be our last full day in Fairbanks.
Monday, June 23, 2014
What a beautiful morning that greeted us today. The skies were clear and the temperature was right at 60 degrees. So after we ate breakfast, packed the SUV, we headed back to Denali National Park just to drive back to mile 15 and enjoy the views one more time. Who knows if we will ever make it back up to Alaska again. The only unfortunate part was that someone, me, forgot to charge the camera over night. So no new pictures from the park with the exception of a massive rock formation that I took with my Iphone. Denali, the mountain, was standing clear and tall this morning and I felt sad that I didn’t have a camera that was capable of zooming in a little better. From my position, Denali was 75 miles away, so the Iphone did it no justice.
Leaving the park, I was quickly re-introduced to Alaskan road repairs. Unlike the lower states, Alaska does a couple of things different. They will put up stop lights for long run repair work and you will sometimes sit for 10-15 minutes at a time. The other is the escorted with a pilot truck that normally runs 1-3 miles. So wait times can be very long. We ran into 3 stop lights and 3 pilot trucks along are travels to Fairbanks today. Also when they repair a road, they repair a road. They completely strip it down to the dirt, smooth, pack and resurface. Checkout some of the dual sport motorcycles I caught in picture today. Like good dirt bike riders, they were standing up. Good boys! I found myself a week or so ago, standing on the pegs of the Goldwing riding through 50 yard dirt patch. It worked.
The highlight today was food. We stop at a bar/hamburger joint on the side of the road that we almost didn’t see. It was off the path. Monderosa, checkout the reviews but do not follow the directions. The directions missed by some 5 miles. The cheeseburger I order was awesome. Juices and parts of the burger were dripping and falling out everywhere, plus it was about 6 inches around. This thing was huge, but I finished that burger. The fries? Not so much, but Lori helped finish those off. No dinner required tonight. What a gem to find out in the middle of nowhere.
So after lunch, we made an uneventful ride to the North Pole, Alaska so Lori could go to the Santa House. This is where they have to much stuff and all of it’s overpriced. Well, that’s my point of view. I turned the corner on one aisle and all I saw were eyes and people everywhere staring at me. Dolls out the ying-yang. Check out the pictures. Ok, luckily, I escaped the Santa House without Lori spending the remanding vacation cash on hand.
Lastly, we drove the last 12 miles to our B&B and setup roost for the next 2 days. It is very cute and private. We have working wifi that doesn’t work like dialup. Yea!! We even have our own kitchen if we dare think about cooking anything. I doubt that happens, but at least coffee and tea can be had at a whim. So here we sit on 230 plus acres, overlooking Fairbanks and the Denali Mountains. Oh, it’s also 71 degrees and sunny.
Tomorrow I scarcely have a plan, but we are going to drive to Chena Hot Springs and maybe take a dip in the pool. That’s a big maybe. Afterwards we will head back to Fairbanks and find a museum to see. I’m sure that I will find something for us to do and see. Basically, I’m here to relax, so that is the plan for the most part. Still undecided if I drag Lori out to Arctic Circle just so she can say she has been there. I will ponder that drive.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Well I’m sure most of you know, but yesterday, June 22nd was my 53rd birthday. It was also my oldest sons 28th birthday. Wow, I still feel 25, so where does all the time go? Don’t blink, you’ll be looking downhill Christopher just as I am at you today. Whew!
Today after we ate breakfast and donned our coats for the 46 degree wakeup call, we drove over to Denali National Park. There we walked through the Visitor Center and looked at all the displays and watched their 18 minutes movie on the wild landscape of Denali. After that we made are way down to the buses and got ready for our 8 hour journey back and forth through the Park.
It was an amazing ride through some of the most pristine land that I have ever seen. First thing to note that caught my eye was no garbage anywhere to been seen. I mean nothing. I was impressed because we humans are a disgusting bunch when you boil it down. I have been through many clean parks, but always somewhere along the ride you see where someone always makes our parks their personal garbage can. The other thing that was unusual was that after the 15th mile into the park, unless you were on a bus, you do not pass here. There are exceptions, but I do not know all the rules for passage. One of the big ones is if you are hiking. They will drop you off in the park and you can hike as long as you like and they will give you ride out when you are ready as long as the buses are running.
Seeing all the wild life was also right up there. We saw Grizzles, Caribou, and Sheep. We also saw something like a Prairie Dog, but they were calling it something else. Last thing to see and hope to see is Denali, (The Native name), or Mt McKinley. In most cases, with the winds pushing in from the south and the colder air on the northern slope, you rarely get to see the mountain fully. Today we got to see the mountain. It was an impressive sight. In case you do not know, Denali is 20,322 feet tall and the highest peak in North America. The ride back and forth took 9 hours with many stops for breaks, pictures, bathroom, scenery, and animals. Some of the riding was right on the edge of the road with 1,000 feet drop-offs and no guard rails. Lori just looked the other way, like that was going to save her if we fell off the edge. To me the most impressive thing about watching the driving was when two buses meet in a corner with the large drop off. You could hear the gasps and oh’s! To funny.
That was our day in Denali and well worth the ride inside on a National Park Tour bus. Tomorrow we are back on the road and heading to Fairbanks to roost for three nights in a Bed & Breakfast named, “A Taste of Alaska”. Seems fitting to me. Enjoy the pictures.