380 miles and 200 of those on dirt roads. And there are two seasons in Alaska, winter and construction. We found our share and parked in the road, waiting for the pilot car. Riding takes focus, as one must watch for potholes, ruts and dips that can upset the motorcycle. We rode hit and miss in the morning, stopping at a museum, lunch and a really cool auto museum in Fairbanks. It contained 87 cars, all but two owned by the man who put it all together. Each one, built between 1900 and 1939, had a story. Like the ugly little one, built by a local Alaskan kid who had never seen a real car, only photos. He built the frame, put two barstool seats in it, salvaged a two stroke motor from a sunken ship, and used a gas pipe for a steering tiller. He built it to impress a girl and it failed. She moved on, but he reminisced that she married three times, while he found a keeper and they lived happily ever after for 53 years.
Another car, a Dodge, was purchased by a man and shipped by boat to the Last Frontier, but he grew frustrated since there were so few roads. He sold it to a man who used it for a transport. People who rode in the car (the men, anyway) had to help whenever it got stuck, which was quite often. However, it was worth it, as it made travel so much faster.
Every car runs, and they drive them around the neighborhood and in parades to keep them fresh. Imagine looking out the kitchen window and seeing a 1927 Exelsior rattle past. Or a Stanley Steamer.
Onward we rode, to the Dalton Highway, the road to the top of the world. The road is a schizophrenic mess of paving, crushed rock and had packed dirt, yet speeds could be kept around 55 or sixty. Or maybe more.
We made it to the Yukon River and checked in to our 'motel'- really a logging camp with dorms and a common shower. No wonder the price was so cheap... $200 a night! After a quick check of the sparse room, we fired up again and headed north. The land is so remote and untamed that one can look every direction and see no power lines, no roads, nothing but forest- except for the Alaskan Pipeline, snaking mostly parallel with our route, carrying over 650,00 gallons of oil daily.
We arrived at the Arctic Circle waypoint and took photos of our victory. I remarked about the balmy weather, as it was sunny and sixty something, much warmer than we anticipated. On our return, the skies turned black and foreboding. Sure enough during a delicious meal of hamburgers at a restaurant made of trailers and shipping containers, the skies opened up and we rode the last five lies in rain. Not too bad, since it wasn't too long.
Two twin beds for Jim and me, and a nice floor for Mel. What a guy.