Man, the roads in Alaska are rough, torn up from frost heave. Like riding a roller coaster though, and you control the speed. Fun on a bike.
They say Alaska has two seasons, winter and construction. Lots of bright green outfits with reflectors. And pilot cars.
When Mel broke his ribs, we were riding on a back road, dirt, and having a blast. Suddenly our world changes and we're in the middle of nowhere, 20 miles of dirt road to the ranger station, and another 60 to some kind of civilization. Sobering.
All this talk about bears, we didn't see any, except in the park. Bears schmears. We saw one moose outside the park too.
I didn't know reindeer and caribou were the same, the one domesticated, the other wild. And when their antlers are velvet, they are sensitive. They grow new ones ever year, and are the same pattern, individualized, every year.
They say the state bird in the Last Frontier is the mosquito, and wow, in some sections they are thick. They are lazy, slow and don't bite. At least not me. I guess I smell or taste bad.
We learned to speak Alaskan. A four wheeler, a quad, is called a wheeler. A snowmobile is called a snow machine. Yee and Haw are directions for sled dogs. Yee means 'turn...' uh, left... or right. Haw means the other way.
It always amuses me that Alaskans pay four bucks a gallon for fuel while 600,000 gallons a day slurps by in their back yard. They should pay two-fifty or so, but 'put it to' the oil company in taxes. Looks like the oil company got the last laugh. The pipe in the line is kept warm to keep the oil flowing, and the stanchions are kept cold to stay frozen and strong for support. Weird.
If you don't like hunting or fishing, better not live in Alaska.Interesting that the native American Eskimos don't live on reservations, mix well with society, and seem pretty healthy, culturally. They look quite successful. But their music is terrible.
Call me a racist, but Maunel should not be a National Park bus driver. I'm sure they have a quota to make, and I have nothing against Manuel, but he could hardly speak English. With an older cross section of passengers, people couldn't understand him. An eight hour bus ride and he hardly spoke. Put him to work, but doing something else until he can speak the language. I bet it showed with his tips.
Alaska Airlines dropped the ball on our flight, switching gates,wait no, yes, uh... switching gates, and delays. They notify you by text, way after the fact. Oops.
The weather wasn't much, seldom climbing over 62, Mr. Sun infrequently making an appearance, and a couple of hard rains. Took a lot of fun and beauty out of many places, particularly Valdez.
Are all ERs ridiculously slow? Mel was the only one there for quite some time, than a local girl came in with her friends with a bad back. I think they use the emergency room for Friday night excitement. Pretty quiet town. Anyway, five hours for stitches, a couple of x-rays and a 'tsk tsk, you have broken ribs.'
The stupid iPad (the tool of Satan) screwed me again. I didn't even try loading photos, but simple text would climb up the page- and down- and I couldn't get to it to edit. It does so many things well, but blogging makes me want to use the 'fish bait' app.
Raves: Jim at the Dome Home provided excellent customer service. And the sauna in our room didn't hurt either.
Alaskans are super nice, friendly people. You need directions or a hand, they can help. Cool.
It's nice to wear good gear. I stayed pretty dry through all the rain, but the cold was challenging. When we picked up the bikes, I saw a plug hanging down. I could have plugged in my suit. D'oh! Left the thermostats and liner at home.
I liked the 650 Kawasaki. Great dual sport bike. A bit top heavy, but dependable and did both sports pretty well.
A tip of the visor to Mel Nason. The guy cowboyed up and rode, even with stitches and broken ribs. He said if he couldn't have ridden, he would have finished the adventure in a rental car. Mel, you da man!
I highly recommend an Alaska Adventure. Go in the summer by cruise ship, train, plane, car or motorcycle. Go in winter for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or even a dog team adventure. Just go! What a great state.
Finally, a huge shout out to Mel, the meticulous planner, who didn't miss a thing. Thanks to him, we stayed at great cabins, motels and B&Bs, ate at cool places, and saw way more interesting features that I would have missed. Great job, Nason!
Stay tuned, now that I'm home with a PC, I can do pictures. Ten a day, for... awhile. With clever captions. It's going to be fun.