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Archive for August 11th, 2009

Day 246– 11th August 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on August 11, 2009

Tuesday – Trapper Creek, Alaska

I woke up around 8.30 but couldn’t wake Simon, we were going to check the float planes at 9am, so I went across for brekky, very nice ham steak and eggs, hash browns and toast, beautiful 🙂

The weather looked a shocker, the fog bank was set in but it may break up a bit later, maybe!

We talked with the float plane people, but the only flight where we could see bears would be an hour’s flight at $450, too much with the possibility of it being bad visibility, so we decided to keep on going and check out the views at Girdwood where there is a Gondola. We had thought it was at Seward, but we had been given so many tips by Roger we had remembered most of them, but not always in the right sequence or location 😕 We headed off with the fog trying to lift, it was still very cool though and there were some high clouds, but we had heated gear, so who cares eh 🙂

Roger had mentioned the fact that there were many traffic holdups because of tourists etc, so they had installed signs to alleviate the blockages, like this one.

What this means, although it is disjointed English, is that if you are holding up 5 vehicles behind you then that is illegal and you must pull over into a lay-by and let them through. Now, I personally saw an RV with more than this and they went past two lay-bys, so where are the cops when they are needed? There was some nice views along the way back 🙂

We stopped at a servo where I fuelled up and we met a chap from Eagle River north of Anchorage called Steve, he directed us to the Gondola, so we had stopped at the right place 🙂 Nice meeting you m8, rubber side down 🙂

The ride up cost $18, you could hike up the trail and get a free ride down, now if it was a free ride up and hike down, well that appeals to me better 😛 The views from up top were great, the glacier was covered in ash from the bush fires, so that was helping the melt rate as well.

There were some people getting a ride on parachutes, or para glides or something, it looked like fun, but a long way back from wherever you land!

The next car was on its way up so we took the opportunity to head on down. There were some small lakes down on th ehillside, I was speaking with the Gondola operator and she told me that an avalanche a few years ago took a whole lot of trees out and dropped them into the lake, the lake was frozen so the pressure popped the whole is=ce cube out and shot it down the hill, that would be a sight 😯

Now, here is a side note, nothing to do with bikes, but it is to do with the area we are in. Check out the front of this car, it has a 110VAC plug hanging out of it.

Now, I know what you are thinking, battery tender, just like I thought. Well, nope, wrong, or to put it more politely, that does not seem to be the case 🙂 I have in the past built a few car engines and one of the things that goes wrong on occasion is a leaking Welsh plug. I have never known what they are for, but are on all water cooled engines I have seen, they just seemed to me to be a weak point, put there for a reason, which I never knew. Well, now I do, here is a picture of a Welsh plug, it is those round things that are just above the hammer, I took the photo from here

It turns out that these items are there for the cold countries, when it freezes, the water in the engine block will freeze and if it does the water will expand and pop these plugs out rather than crack the engine block, how cool eh! 🙂 So, what they do up here, where it gets to -40C or more, they install a heater into one of these Welsh plug holes and plug the car into the mains electricity, this keeps the engine warm and allows it to start even in the coldest weather.

Enough of the tech session, back to the ride, we headed off up north and back to Anchorage, I still needed to pick up my mail, I also needed to post some stuff back home, photos, T-shirts etc.

I got back to the PO, but when I got to the front of the line, she told me they do not do General delivery there, I would need to go to the main PO in town, grrr! I eventually found the place after negotiating one way streets and ‘no U-turn’ signs all over the place, I cheated in the end 🙂 Now, I was expecting two pieces of mail, my Gerbing heated socks had arrived, but my Pacsafe tank bag base had not, it was supposed to have been there by the end of July, how disappointing 😥 Well, nothing to do but give them a forwarding address and hope it arrives in California before I do, but the damm bag is nearly falling off the tank by now every day 😦 Anyway, I packed some gear and sent it home and we then went to the Suzuki shop, so I could get my headset bearing seen to, as it had not been looked at yet.

Well, the upshot of this was it was not just a quick “give me a socket and torque wrench”, apparently I have to remove the triple tree clamp and my handle bars and stabiliser, so this cannot be done today. I will plan on doing that at a later date, maybe at another rider’s workshop down south a bit 🙂 So, now we needed to head north to Trapper Creek, after getting out of the traffic jams in the city we were good to go.

Lucky for us the road skirted this storm as it would be horrible to be cold and wet, but with working heated gear, it was fine.

Another minor traffic congestion at Willow before the open road kept us running fast and smooth 🙂

We got into Trapper Creek junction around 6.30pm where I phoned Joe and got some directions to their place, we then grabbed a few beers from the servo and took some not so good roads to the house.

We met with Joe and Sandy and were soon sitting down for a drink and a chat, I forgot to take photos after settling in with the dog, but never mind 🙂

Joe has lived in these parts for over 35 years, he moved up from the lower 48, while Sandy is English and is an artist, painting, bronze casting etc. They have lived here since before electricity and phones and still love it. Joe has attempted the Iditarod 4 times and has done quite well, an 11th place on his first attempt, a 5th on his second a few years later and then in 1980 he won, great stuff 🙂 Now, to win this he mushed his dog sled team 1200 miles in winter and completed the distance in 14d 7h 11m 51s, excellent stuff and a belated congratulations.

Sandy had warmed up some left over dinner, mince tortillas and bread with salad, that went down real well, so thanks for that. We had a great evening chatting about life up here in the north and although I do not think I could live here, I reckon I would like to spend a few days up here maybe on a dog sled, just to experience it and see the northern lights into the bargain. Maybe before I head home next year, something to think about anyway 🙂 We crashed out later in the evening in the barn, which had a full on apartment up there, a very comfortable place to stay 🙂

Day 245 miles and 394 km
Trip – 30,198 miles and 48,599 km


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