Fair Well Dawson, Hello Alaska

20170617_000546-1The Dust to Dawson activities happened on Friday.  They consisted of a Poker Run through the gold country, a banquet and biker games.  The poker run has a set number of stops and at each stop the rider draws a card from the deck that has been split up for each stop.  The winner of the $500 prize had four queens.

I skipped the poker run to go to the free mining claim to pan for gold. The signs were hard to find and I may have been on the wrong claim, too bad.  I found a few flakes and a little nugget about the size of two sesame seeds.  I also found an interesting tiny silver-gray cube that is probably platinum.  After panning a while I then went and walked through some of the endless tailings from the bucket dredges.  Large nuggets that were washed out with the tailings are regularly found in these piles, which go on for miles.  I had no luck.  A metal detector would be good for this endeavor.  It is amazing how much ground was processed by these giant dredges from about 1920 to the 50s.  The tailings are pretty barren and there is not that much that grows on them.

The banquet was a nice steak dinner with baked spud and five different kinds of salad; I ate lots of salad.

The biker games had about three dozen participants and consisted of: a slow race; blindfold event where you had to stop on a paper plate, the crowd helped direct; and a slalom.  Then there was competition with a passenger.  The first test was to have the passenger throw two water balloons over a bar and catch them on the other side.  The grand finale had the passenger try and take a bite from a hotdog suspended above.  The passengers were female, so use your imagination.  The crowd thought it great fun; I am not so sure.  The favorite was a woman who has won it several times before by biting off the longest length of hotdog.  After 31 other contestants were eliminated a local girl was the challenger; in all of her twenty-something tattoos and piercings, and she won.  You might say that girl could inhale some weiner.

At midnight the official Dust to Dawson stickers were handed out.  If my bike is ever clean again I will put it on.  After that I went back to my tent cabin and went to bed at about 12:30; it was still broad daylight.  The midnight sun is nuts, the photo at the top is looking across the Yukon River at 12:15AM.

I got up the next morning about 7am and made ready to ride to Alaska.  The day was sunny with high clouds and was just perfect.  There is a ferry across the Yukon River from Dawson to the Top of the World Highway into Alaska.  I got some cool GoPro footage of the ferry ride; ther were about 20 bikes on it.  We hit the other side and rode the dirt rode about 100 miles to the border.  It really is on top of the world.

The road undulates up and down the low mountains that the lead to Chicken Alaska.  The spruce trees are small and are more like fuzzy sticks than trees and they peter out as the higher peaks get to about 4000 feet.  We rode between 1500 and 4200 feet above sea level on this route.  It was very scenic and I could ride at over 50mph in some places.  That is pretty amazing considering my scant dirt experience.  At the border crossing we waited over an hour, everyone is a suspect entering the U.S.  The cars and RVs were getting more scrutiny but the motorcycles were processed quickly.  The guard said ‘Welcome home’.

After the border we hit some rain and hail but it didn’t last long.  We skirted rain clouds on and off for a while into Chicken.  I stopped for lunch to have the famous chicken pot pie.  There is the ‘original’ chicken with the great pot pie, a little store with great stickers for one’s panniers and a bar/liquor store.  They had Lagunitas IPA, Elysian Space Dust and others.  I knew I was home when I saw real IPA.  I have been going through IPA withdrawal.  Sorry Canada, your beer sucks, it is fizzy yellow water.  Chicken exists only because there is gold being mined mined, it is a pretty rich area. In the winter the road closes and no one is there.  They did tell me that three people stayed the winter in the bush.  The pie was very good and I moved on toward Tok Alaska and am camped about 15 miles north at Moon Lake.  The dirt road in the U.S. is not nearly as good as in Canada, go figure.  Well, at least we have several thousand M1 Abrams tanks we will never use.

The lake is very scenic and my neighbor said there have been moose swimming across it.  I have not seen any.  There are a couple of families at the recreation area and they are very loud.  I sense that they are the types of families that are ‘wards of the state’.  I saw one kid that was maybe 12 smoking his pot pipe, great.

Tomorrow I head to Fairbanks and then to Prudhoe Bay.  I rode exactly 200 miles today.

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