Current News from the UK – We muddled our way through Christmas and spent the time off work in the best way we knew how, working really hard…..we decided to respray our camper-van silver so from Boxing day right up to 5th January we were sanding till our fingers bled (literally in Karen’s case), filling, sanding, grinding, sanding, welding, sanding and finally spraying, sanding, spaying, sanding, spraying. Oh and did I mention all the sanding that we did…..
The other news of note is that Kev started a new job building camper-vans on on 19th January with better prospects and pay. Karen has also increased her hours with Age UK as a home help. It seems to be all work this month so we are looking forward to some play time soon.
Our latest instalment is from both Canada and Alaska how we wish we were back there……
Blog 306 Tok 11th – 14th August 2013
This was the entry in my diary “we had a rubbish night’s sleep, the airbed has a big hole and went down in less than two hours so we had to push the bike close to pump it up two or three times in the night……”
Unsurprisingly we woke late but the sun was out so that was a bonus. Kev got busy making breakfast whilst Karen laid the air bed out on the picnic table to look for the puncture. It was a large hole in the side-wall so Kev got out the puncture repair kit. We took more photos of the trestle bridge before we headed back to Glenallen and although we were still retracing our route the sights were different again in the morning sunshine.
A chance meeting in Glenallen gas station saw us reunited with Roger again (we had stayed with him in Wasilla with his wife Jan) He phoned her and we all had a quick chat. Our next route was the aptly named Tok cut-off road a fairly long road punctuated by beautiful scenery heading to Tok. (pronounced Toke). Arriving in Tok at 7pm we headed straight for the local supermarket to treat ourselves to a bit of steak for dinner. Here we saw an advertisement for a motorcycle only camp ground called Thompson’s Eagle Claw campground. We had heard about the campground and had intended to visit anyway but didn’t know where it was, now that problem was solved. Thompson’s Eagle Claw was a superb campground and is a must visit for anyone on a bike in Alaska.
Vanessa the host and owner works full time but there was a sign in the kitchen area saying pick a pitch and help yourself to whatever you need I get home around 5pm. She heard us ride in and greeted us with “I have heard about you guys for months from lots of people and I thought I had missed you, I am so glad you are here.” What a great welcome.
Vanessa had thought of everything including a wood fired steam room which we were most grateful for. The added bonus was that our air bed repair looked to be holding so it seemed as though we were in for a much needed good nights sleep.
We had a lovely lie in next morning then looked around Vanessa’s site, her attention to detail was impressive. She had choices to camp in, a tipi, an ambulance, a trappers canvas tent and cabins. Our own tipi looked right at home here.
Although currently there is no running water on the camp site she filled containers from her home and kept them in the kitchen area. We had one of the poshest long drop toilets, no searching for toilet roll here. Here we are chatting to the other campers.
After Kev had done his facial maintenance he turned his attention to the bike, Vanessa also had a well equipped workshop which Kev made good use of, as during a regular check over on the bike he spotted an enormous nail in the tyre which would have spelt trouble.
Back in town at the visitor centre Kev tried to eat some fish while Karen did some research into Skagway and Haines our next two possible destinations. It would be a 250 mile detour with a ferry ride and two border crossings but after checking we discovered that if the ferries were still running regularly, it would be well worth it. We also saw we weren’t the only ones bothered by the mosquitoes.
We were reminded of the nearby fires in the night as in the wee small hours the tent lit up with lots of dry lightning, 20mins later the helicopters were in the air extinguishing the fires.
The air was heavy with smoke in the morning when we left town so we couldn’t see the views (luckily this first part we had travelled before). We left the USA really easily and stopped to take photos on the international border. Because this was the main route into Alaska it had a really impressive sign so we took photos of that as well.
Entry back into Canada was fairly pain free but the road was hell 10 miles of construction followed by 100 miles of frost heaves some of which were really big. This electricity pylon shows the effects of the frost on the ground.
Our free camp for the night was on the old road, the condition of this not far removed from the construction site we had been riding over. We enjoyed a pleasant evening until the no-see ums (sandflys, midges) forced us in the tent. We jumped forward an hour at the border so it was still light at 10.30pm.
We decided to check the bike over the next morning after all the shaking she received on the road yesterday. Karen drained and replenished the diff and gearbox oil while Kev checked on the tyres and shocks. We have fournales air shocks and we hit a problem when Kev was checking and topping up the pressures. The special high pressure pump had died and more air was coming out than going in.
The pump is sealed by ‘o’ rings which we have renewed several times in the course of our journey but this time all attempts to find a solution failed so we pushed as much air in with the ordinary tyre pump (we normally run the rear fournales at 210psi the ordinary tyre pump only managed 80psi.
We reached the delightfully named Destruction Bay and found the local tyre fitter, we used Charlie’s compressor to force about 110psi into the shock that was low, it handled better after that but was still imbalanced. In Haines Junction (Canada) we treated ourselves to a burger and fries with an ice cream pudding, fortified we set off towards Alaska (USA) once more hoping for no more construction work.
To our relief the tarmac afterwards was like glass and we had a smooth, beautiful ride stopping only to photo Dezadeash lake before arriving at Million Dollars Falls camp ground not far from the border on the Canadian side.
We checked out the million dollars falls and they weren’t quite a million dollars worth but impressive none the less especially considering the dry summer Alaska had just had.
Next up – We’re back in Alaska again.