In the days since leaving Whitehorse we’ve found fresh excitement on the road. It has been a whirlwind. To have crossed into our final state is a big deal. I've been thinking about Alaska for a long time now. A year, or something close to it. I haven't shared many pictures of our trip recently, so how about we switch things up a little ... shake the can and freshen the mix? Pictures, text, mild reflection. Disclaimer - I have no photo editing software. What you see here is uncut, unfiltered, primo photography from 10 mph on top of Q*bert, my Surly whip that's borne my bulk from Key West to here. Wide, proud lens from within a greasy GoPro casing.
600 smiles to Fairbanks, Alaska from Whitehorse, Yukon. Riding up through Kluane National Preserve, through the mountains and into the valley to Tok, Alaska before making the final push to Fairbanks. Tyler starts it off throwing up the deuces. This is before he's realized that his wallet is still in Whitehorse.
Tyler will have to leave his bicycle with a long-stay RV family at the Haines Junction campground and go through a series of hitchhikes to and from Whitehorse to retrieve his wallet. He will see bears, meet pretty girls, and pedal along the road - now reunited with his bicycle - the next night at two in the morning listening to Ratatat's Cream on Chrome on repeat 25 times to meet up with Keys to Freeze in Burwash Landing.
Brady rides into the sun. It looks like afternoon but it is really eight at night. The sun will set well after midnight and rise well before four am.
Destruction Bay. An aptly named lake. The winds here are devastating and blow with no semblance of reason. The gales circling the lake's edges first slow and then push us around, as if our bulk were little more than origami floating with the breeze.
And yet here is the other side of Destruction Bay, a dry and cracked patch of earth. This rests on the western edge of the bay, separated from the creamy blue waters by a land bridge. Here the wind kicks off a despicable amount of dust and pushes it across the road as we ride through.
My first moose sighting! From a safe distance I watch Mama Moose walk across our gravel highway with Baby Moose. Moose, in my eyes, look like skinny, prehistoric horses. To Brady they look like tall emaciated brown cows.
A burn sight after reaching Alaska. So far this year over five million acres have burned in the state. That's a little less than the size of Massachusetts. Boston would be a husk.
And then we made it to Tok! We stayed on this compound with Carroll Johnson, who goes by CJ. He is the handyman of Tok. CJ is a do-it-yourself industrial arts mechanic who has made a living in the Final Frontier working every sort of odd job from Denali National Park to Kulane National Park. After moving to Alaska from Pennsylvania over 20 years ago he has worked as a bus mechanic in Denali, a maintenance member of Kluane, a motorcycle technician in Tok, a competitive dog sledder in the winters, and a teacher on the northern slopes of the Arctic Circle.
CJ lives on a compound with 37 cars & trucks, 5 motorcycles, 2 buses, and 2 boats. I slept in one of his buses, a 1984 shuttle bus from Denali National Park that he bought for $400. CJ lives in Tok with White Fang, a mushing dog from a medal winning team. CJ lives for the people who travel through Tok. He has hosted fascinating characters coming through Alaska, many on far gnarlier trips than Keys to Freeze. He is a true Alaskan.
Our day off with CJ was much appreciated. I fell in love with White Fang, and spent a significant portion of my day with her.
But then .... BABANG! Little Meekus, the Meredinkus, the Carebear herself, Meredith Meeks joined on the team! Here to help with the documentary for the final 700 miles she's brought a fresh face and a whole bunch of energy to our group. Consider her introduction the moment that Keys to Freeze hit the reset button. The winds of change.
We rolled north to fatback Fairbanks, effectively ending our time on the Alaskan Highway. 1422 smiles. I met a lot of neat people, saw a lot of neat places, and now we continue onto the next highway. We now follow the oil pipeline to Prudhoe Bay.
And now we're in Fairbanks. We've made it 7,500 miles. Ahead of us lie the most remote stretch of highway in the United States. We have food for five people for ten days. The Dalton Highway waits.