Tuesday, December 3, 2013

No words can describe Bora Bora

Bora Bora is the island dreams are made of. It was perfect. Everything you see in the magazines… is what you get There really is a place where little bungalows sit about turquoise colored water… a place where the sunrise and sunset, stars and moon, are so loud you can’t help but watch the scenes play out like a movie that has captured your attention. You can sit for hours and stare at the landscape.

Time slows way down… you lose track of what day it is, even what month. No matter where you rest your head for a period of time, creating patterns seems to be what we gravitate towards. Here the pattern was rise and watch the sunrise, walk on the beach, eat breakfast (spend nearly two hours doing this), watch the fish, go back to your private deck, bask in the sunshine while you take a nap, wake up and turn, bask in the sunshine while you read, take an afternoon swim, take a walk, nap, have a beer, go indoors and snack, go back outside and nap in the sun, walk to the bar and get a drink. Discuss dinner plans, have dinner, drink, watch the sunset. Read. Get up and repeat 4 more days. Thus was the pattern of Bora Bora. We saw turtles, we kayaked under the bungalows (the bungalows had glass floors), we skinny dipped under the moonlight. I sunbathed topless…. Everyone spoke French… it was an amazing place, but warning: It is the most expensive place I have ever been. Save your pennies! Make sure you see this place once in your lifetime… we stayed at Le Meridian. Splurge and get the overwater bungalow.

The water was amazing. The service was amazing. The food was amazing. I can’t even begin to describe for you all what this place is like, you just have to come and experience it. The best I can do is share with you some of the pictures.

So with little words here is paradise through pictures; words another day.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Much to do on Huahine

We hired an archeologist to take us around to learn about the ruins and pre-contact culture. We visited a site at Maeve (primarily documented by Dr. Yosihiko H. Sinoto), one of the largest collections of ruins in the south pacific. We were able to see some of the marae* (alters) and put early migration into perspective based on current research. The south pacific is very complicated and migration patterns as reflected in the archeology and linguistic record could cover a lifespan understanding. We enjoyed learning a bit about the local history, as well as Captain Cook’s visits to this area.

Local archeologist/guide picked us up in his jeep
Depiction of Cook's arrival... note alter in back (with skull heads), and the ahu platform in front, with offerings (animals) - the human sacrifice near the bottom of the ahu may or may not be accurate for this area of Polynesia.
Maeve marae today
We then headed towards the fish traps to check out the process. Fisherman built large narrow rock passages, with a central round end… the tide comes in.. with all the fish. The fish swim over the walls, and when the tide recedes, the larger fish get trapped in the narrow channel…. Then it is only a matter of scooping them out, very ingenious. In addition to seeing the fish traps, we stopped along the way to see fresh water eels, and visited a vanilla plantation to pick u fresh vanilla.

One of the many fish traps located inland - tide comes in and fills traps with fish when it recedes
After the fishing experience, we headed to the motu (a reef islet formed by broken coral and sand surrounding an atoll/island) on the eastern side of the island. Motus are land ridges poking out of the water.  They act as a barrier on one side of the lagoons that general surround the mainland. The lagoon formed between the pieces of land is generally calm because of the protected waters.  The ocean on the other side of the motu is rougher and the tides hit hard there.  (If you saw Castaway with Tom Hanks, you get the idea of what it might be like to cross over these outer areas).

Bonita on motu
Marla enjoying the beach
 We walked into town and had vanilla smothered mahi mahi for dinner, and a tropical drink. We finished off the evening drinking at the beach house watching the sunset. I drank a bit too much and ended up needing a nap. Ryan kept handing me drinks…. Allow Ryan is quiet and a little soft spoken, I have noted that he is the instigator of the group. Everyone was smiling soon - Bonita was considering having the Tahitian Beer label tattooed on her body… (the one with the island girl citing with a red dress and lots of flowers)… we decided it didn’t go well with the rest of her tattoos.

I woke up with a bit of a hangover, and a decision to back off on the alcohol. I lasted 3 days of drinking heavily. The sun, the drinking, and the heat were catching up… more water please! Ryan came by with a glass of vodka and orange juice (at 7 a.m.) and asked me if I was ready to start the new day drinking. Ugg. I
The final day on Huahine, the gang scored a boat from a local French Guy and opted to go out along the motu and reefs and do a bit of snorkeling. I, still green in the gills from the night before, opted out. The last thing I needed was a boat ride. (Also recall that I am a little fraidy-cat when it comes to water). Instead, I took the car (the beach house comes with a car), and drove the entire road system of the island. It was roughly 28 miles. The drive was like traveling through a large garden…mostly coastal, with only two areas that rose about the ocean. When I say coastal, I mean coastal! It was like a thin narrow strip of tarmac along the rocky beaches. It was very curvy.. And there were no guard rails or street lights. (The French, like the Canadians, do not believe in guardrails). If you were driving at night and not paying attention, you could easily drive into the ocean (sometimes on both sides). 

Most of the island was remote, very little people, a few pensions scattered here and there. It was not until I got to the very end of the island that I came across another village, but no real services. The people would see me come by and wave and smile and say hello in Tahitian. 

The people here are very friendly
Huahine was a very quiet place to relax off the beaten path. The lodging was not that expensive, roughly $250/night to rent the entire house. We used the car, so we had to pay for the gas. 

Jeep ride around island
Snacks - fresh bananas

We caught an island hop and headed for Bora Bora, the place where all people dream of going someday….

*A marae (in New Zealand Māori, Cook Islands Māori, Tahitian) malaʻe (in Tongan), malae (in Samoan) and mālaʻe (in Hawaiian[1]) is a communal or sacred place that serves religious and social purposes in Polynesian societies. In all these languages, the word also means "cleared, free of weeds, trees, etc." It generally consists of an area of cleared land roughly rectangular (the marae itself), bordered with stones or wooden posts (called au in Tahitian and Cook Islands Māori) perhaps with terraces (paepae) which were traditionally used for ceremonial purposes; and in some cases, a central stone ahu or a'u. In the Rapanui culture of Easter Island "ahu" has become a synonym for the whole marae complex). -wikipedia

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Baguette boxes and butter...

The pace slowed way down, and we all adjusted accordingly. The sunsets were absolutely amazing, as were the sunrises. I made sure I got up every day to enjoy these special gifts. Usually this meant getting up at 4 am.  

Huahine sunset
Huahine sunset from the deck
The first couple days of the trip, we all got sucked into drinking heavily. I ended up being the lightweight and only lasting 3 days of drinking… before stopping, Bonita lasted 7 days, Marla took a break… and the boys… well they are still going at it (Day 11 is when I wrote this post).

Bonita and Marla enjoying don Julio's 1942
The beach house had kayaks, and we all brought snorkeling gear. Everyone was just soaking up the sun. We wandered in to town to catch fresh fruit from the market; we never figured out how the hours operated in town. It seemed like everyone was up early (most of the men left on fishing boats for the days, and everyone was up to see them off).  The rest of the time was baguette time… which meant that people timed their walk to town on what time fresh bread would be ready at the store. 
Selecting the right baguette is a very important thing... villagers spend time with this process...
The residences here have bread boxes on their porches to have baguette delivered twice a day (the mail is not delivered to the doorsteps though… they go to the post office to get that). 

Baguette box

Baguette time...
We quickly adapted and timed our walk to town accordingly. The walk was a dirt path that ran along the water… maybe 2 blocks long.

The gang walking to town along the beach trail.
 There are a lot of open-type markets and food trucks… and the tropical fruit is amazing; pineapples, papaya, mangos, vanilla, lychee, coconuts, watermelons, cantaloupes, grapes, and bananas.

Fresh fruit every morning...
Fresh eggs
Bananas and avocados
All the animals run freely here, which means that dogs are everywhere (and usually pregnant or nursing), cats are king, and the roosters/hens are always on the side of the roads. We all saw cows enjoying the sunshine. The dogs all look like they are the same one or two breeds. The people are very friendly and are always smiling and waving. The neighbors are always giggling like school children. It is a very pleasant place.
The town of Huahine
Most folks pedaled bikes
We learned early on that the boys could not be trusted with butter. Like in France, the dairy is amazing… and so are the dairy products. Whenever we go out to eat, along with the baguette you get these big chunks of the creamiest butter…. it disappears quickly.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A toast to dinner… even if we don’t know what we just ordered…

We all met in LA over a period of 24 hours. The group consisted of Ryan and Tate, a younger couple from Portland, Marla – also from Portland, myself, and Bonita from Austin. Marla, Bonita and I go back decades, but this was really the first time I have spent any time around the “boys.”  I have resorted to calling them the boys, since they are almost 20 years younger than the rest of us.

The boys choose to fill their idle time with drinking – needless to say, when it was time to catch the hotel shuttle to the airport, the boys were already toasted… from drinking in their hotel room.

We found Tate passed out on the lounger near hotel pool... notice he is still clutching the room key..
 We got to the airport, not entirely sure if we were going to make it through TSA/Customs with two drunk boys, especially after the recent shooting in the airport.
Tate, Marla, Ryan, and Bonita at LAX
Marla told them to be quiet, offer up no giggling, and pretend they were in court (they are both attorneys). It worked and we passed through security. The boys promptly found bar stools and drinks, and by the time they were deposited into their airline seats, both went out like light bulbs for the 8.5 hour flight.

We flew in to the island of Tahiti from LA. The largest city is called Papeete. We were only there long enough to make a connection to the island of Huahine. We were worried about the weight limitations between the inter-island flights. We all were packed right to the limit of 44 pounds, and we were carrying tons of booze.

Why were we carrying tons of booze you ask? Because we had learned that alcohol in French Polynesia was very expensive (right there next to suntan lotion, which incidentally costs $45 a bottle), and I am traveling with party animals. French wine is easily available throughout the islands, and not too expensive, but the travel tip was… pack it in if you want to drink it.

We hit the Duty Free store in LA and each of us bought the maximum amount of liquor you are allowed to bring into the country… 2 liters each.. (Times 5 people meant we hauled in 10 L. or equivalent of 21 pints)!

Lots of vodka, and rum, and one special bottle of Don Julio’s 1942 Tequila (at $140 a bottle)… off we went to the islands.

Marla making the inter-island connection from Tahiti to Huahine (notice the booze bag she us carrying)...

Huahine by air

Huahine is a slow-paced island with not a lot of people. There is only one grocery store on the entire island, and less than a half a dozen small villages, the largest being Fare.

Sing Sing picks us up at the airport
Ryan's arrival
We rented a beach house in Fare, and walked to the grocery store and loaded up the fridge. We stayed at Hauhine House (awesome), the owner, Sing Sing was a very likeable man that was very pleasant and laid back. The beach rental included a car, but we used it only once.

This place was amazing. It had a large covered patio attached to the house, then a separate patio in the corner of the back yard that overlooked the ocean. The beach was pretty private, and the toughest decision was deciding where to sit.  We rotated between ocean side on the sand, to the corner overlook most of the time. 
Huahine House

Huahine House deck overlooking beach
We spent the days sleeping on the beach, drinking, walking to town for baguette and fresh fruit (and very expensive ice cream sandwiches), snorkeling, kayaking, and reading. 

Most locals on the island spoke either French, or Tahitian… neither of which we did. Tate had a little bit of rusty French in his background, so he did the best he could to translate.  Needless to say, when we went out to dinner that first night, our first toast was to what we ordered for dinner… that neither of us really knew what we ordered…. 
What? This sounds good...  I think...

Local beer... at least we could understand that...

(It turned out to be skewered tuna fish roasted with vegetables – and pretty damn good).

Dinner was good.
We ate here....Guynette, Huahine - French Polynesia

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Blogging in French... umm where was that log-in button?

So I wanted to get a quick blog up before we left the island of Huahine, French Polynesia, and the damn blogger interface is in French!

Trying to recall where the buttons are on the interface.... it is interesting. Tonight I will fiddle with the dashboard.

Basically, we are traveling to 4 different islands and spending 4 nights and 5 days on each.
I actually cut my last island short on account of wanting a job when I get back; everyone else is an attorney and one person is self employed. Apparently attorneys can spend lots of time away.

Here is the run down for the trip:
French Polynesia is far from Anchorage! I stopped in LA to meet the group. We all flew in together. We are below the equator, and just east of the international date line. Roughly at the same latitude as northern Australia.

French Polynesia is broken up into 4 groupings of islands (together they span 1,000+) miles. We are going to the most north western group, known as the Society Islands. Within the Society Islands, there are still many islands, the largest being Tahiti. The largest city and airport are located in a city called Papeete. 
Once in Tahiti, we boarded a plan immediately for Huahine. After Huahine, we will go to Bora Bora, and then Raiatea, then back to Tahiti. My stay in Tahiti will only be two days.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


A different kind of adventure!

Years ago a seed was planted for getaway with friends to celebrate the milestone of 50. Now, I’m not yet at that milestone, but 2 of the three have crossed to the other side. The getaway destination, complements of Marla, was set for French Polynesia. 

(Fast forward in time to last night)

3 good friends, having traveled from all over the country to meet in LA – raised their glasses to a champagne toast for an adventure that has arrived. We depart tonight for French Polynesia.

I’m really excited, because I think this will be a different kind of adventure. Not one filled with motorcycles, or mud and bugs – no camping or rain that makes your skin shrivel up.

This will be lying in the sun doing nothing. Reading. Sleeping, ordering drinks.  Resting. Talking and chatting with friends and getting caught up. In one of the most beautiful places in the planet.

You know the place… they show those wonderful grass huts sitting out above the ocean…

The plan is to fly into Tahati. We leave tonight.

We then bounce over to Huahine for a 4 days, Bora Bora for an additional 4 days, Raiatea for 4 more days, and then back to Tahiti for a couple of days.

I am not sure if I will be able to stay connected on this trip. If I can blog, I will do that. Otherwise…


Saturday, October 26, 2013

100th Post of Wanderings - South Dakotans don't like me

Today is a special day, because it is the 100th post in my blog. I started out blogging in 2010. Just a simple idea to share a little bit about my adventures and predicaments I seem to find myself in.

Today, I am reflecting and sharing with you what the blog ride has been like.

I have posted on this site 100 blogs since 2010.
The number of posts per year has increased consistently since then:
  • 2010 yielded 17 posts
  • 2011 yielded 26 posts
  • 2012 yielded 29 posts
  • 2013 will yield 30+
Most of my posts have been about traveling, and most of those travels are by motorcycle. The two most popular posts have quirky titles that, I suspect,drive traffic accidentally to my site:

Sex, Motorcycles, and Leather (Most popular post)
Would you like some cleavage with your cappuccino (Far second most popular)

Most popular motorcycle adventure ride/locations are:

Montana's ride to Glacier National Park
The ride to Inuvik (Northwestern Territories, Canada - first attempt)
The audience/readers are mostly US readers who live in the western half of the US.
I have visitors from every state in the US but 4 (South Dakota, Arkansas, Alabama, and Vermont).
I have been visited from all over the world, Canadians being my largest, Indonesian second.
The post views for the last year are about 12,000.

Blog traffic for the last year of Bohemian Gypsy

What's next?
I'm going to keep blogging!
In my head I still have our recent travels to Manely Hot Springs.
I leave for French Polynesia in less than 2 weeks..
And next year is filled with plans!

I am also finally spending some real time and effort on my website. I have been busy building new categories, and add content. Still a rough gem, but when it is ready, I will start bloging there.

Although Blogspot has been a good free ride, I'm moving to the next level.

Thanks for being a reader!
Please provide me with feedback on what you want to see more of in the future!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Your zipper is down and I can’t help but smile

(a post-trip blog: the Denali Highway, Alaska)
I love Talkeetna. It is such a quirky Alaskan town. Aside from having a cat for a mayor, good taste in beer, and priorities consistent with mountain climbing, the people just know how to enjoy life. I have always thought if someone wanted to get a sense of Alaskans you should study their footwear, and Talkeetna always offers up the best of the best!

Talkeetna-grown "bumper" sticker of the Denali Dames Social Club

A local explanation for how beer is created...
Talkeetna beer line with all the boots made for drinking!

Our last day on the trip was going to be extra special. I have wanted to give the zip-line adventure in Talkeetna, Alaska a try since I heard about them last year. Here is what their website states:

“Denali Zip-line Tours offers a thrilling and educational way to experience breathtaking natural scenery and awesome wilderness.  From our “South side” perspective the panoramic views of the Alaska Range, and Denali National Park are amazing and the opportunity to see it from a tree-top platform with the boreal forest at your feet and Mt. McKinley at your brow is unbeatable. Our zipline canopy adventure tour is Southcentral Alaska’s first world class and farthest north canopy tour in North America!” 
It is 3 hours long adventure with 9 separate zip-lines, several rope bridges and platforms, and one small rappel.

Rope bridge leading to platform

Jaz was not up for zip-lining in a downpour, so we had breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse and bid her farewell.  I was having second thoughts, not because of any fear or apprehension towards heights or zip-lines, but because it was raining so bad and the tickets were so expensive ($150/person). I wanted my trip to afford a view of the largest mountain on the continent, and rain was dampening that experience.
We checked into the office and found the tickets were non-refundable – it was settled – zip-line in the rain. The group was very friendly, and informative. I was worried that my poor hearing would get in the way of critical instructions, but it became apparent that these folks were safe, relied on hand signals for the distances, and very thorough. They suited us up in interesting harnesses (more elaborate then climbing gear), helmets, and special gloves with heavy duty leather patches over the palms.

Me all suited up in rain and safety gear so I can swing through the trees

Our group size was only 6; on account of the platform size between lines, 2 were employees.
The ride was exhilarating! I do have a fear of heights that always makes my knees knock whenever I confront it, but even so, the ride was spectacular. The canopy was so thick, that even if it was a sunny day, all would only see a strip of blue at the tops of the trees. It was more like racing through the trees and forest than anything else. There is one small lake you cross, and Mt. McKinley can be seen on a clear day, but otherwise, this was a fast and furious through the trees. The lines get longer and faster as you go, so you get to work-up to not being scared shitless by the time you get to the fastest line. I say this, because unlike the zip-line I tried at Park City, Utah, this one is totally controlled by you.  You were responsible for your speed, stopping, and falling short of the platform.

It went like this:
You had a harness on with two hooks. When it was your turn you stepped up on a log and hooked onto a small cable skate, then sat down to put your weight on the cable. You put one gloved hand in front of the skate, and one behind. This kept you from leaving the platform before it was time.
When it was time to go, you put both hands on top of the skate. Gravity sent you down the cable. At some point, when you needed to apply brake, you put your left gloved hand on the cable behind the skate and used friction to slow yourself down. The harder you squeezed the cable the slower you went. If you stopped short of the platform, you need to hand-over-hand pull yourself the rest of the distance.

Sounds easy, right? It was easy in theory, but if you aren’t the most coordinated person, it takes a little practice. The cables were wet, so they were faster; your body could easily spin clockwise or counterclockwise, so you needed to be careful. But it was a blast! I highly recommend you do this when visiting Talkeenta, rain or shine. It made us giggle like children and it was well worth the money!

My philosophy – I would rather slow down too much and have to hand pull myself the last couple of feet than slam into a tree (apparently this has happened; it is simple operation that relies on you paying attention – no auto-stop here). 

It was a wonderful way to end the trip. Aside from a sheet of water hitting me in the face (when I was the first to do a long cable line that that still had a lot of water on it, the zip-line was perfect. We road back to Anchorage uneventfully, the rain stopped about 45 minutes outside of Anchorage. 

The entire garage was filled with drying gear for two days.

I woke up in a trailer...

(a post-trip blog: the Denali Highway, Alaska)
It was cold the night before… the campground was filled, tons of hunters roaming (and shooting) on the landscape, and the overall wet conditions prompted us to look for shelter.

Diane's bike - we were covered in mud from head to toe (Photo - Diane Mead)

The RV shelter in campground had a little trailer available for rent, the kind you would pull behind your pickup truck. It was cozy enough for 3 to dry out and the campground had hot showers… SOLD!

The morning after... waking up in a trailer!

We woke up with in a very relaxed state, repacked and ate breakfast out of the rain. The rain did not let up the entire trip, until the last hour back into Anchorage. Today we were going to split from Diane, as she was heading all the way into to Anchorage, and Michael and I were heading to Talkeetna for another night. Jazz was riding up from Anchorage to meet us for beer and dinner.
We packed up and headed out. It always amazes me how light Michael travels… and organized. I always look like a tornado went through my living space. It doesn’t matter if the space is small or large, or if I am coming or going… I just don’t have the discipline he does for order. This translates to… I never know exactly where anything is… and I always end up opening at least 2 or 3 bags looking for something.

Michael's pile of motorcycle gear is on the left... my stuff is everywhere else.

We hit the road; visibility was minimal, the rain was relentless, and idiot drivers were trying to kill us (with the down pour and visibility, our speed dropped from 65 to probably 55mph – too slow for folks in a hurry). We stopped at Mary’s McKinley View for lunch and bid farewell to Diane.
We pressed on to Talkeetna in the rain. Michael’s heated gear was no-longer heated. (It turns out that he had so much mud caked over the radiator; the air-flow was clogged, causing the fan to run most of the time. Between the fan running most of the time, the heated gear, and him charging his IPhone, it depleted the overall voltage and maxed out the alternator. The gear just wasn’t heating up properly with those conditions.) By the time we reached the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge we were ready for a beer!

Lobby of the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge

We checked in, a little odd to move from a campground to a luxury hotel, but we were not complaining. You know it’s a first class place when the hangers actually come of the bar in the closet! The lamp shades came in at a solid 3 (on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best). 

Lampshade grade 3... nothing special

We waited for Jazz in the bar; talking about the interesting things we saw and heard on this trip. I enjoyed the stream crossings the most. I have never had good luck crossing water. I can think of two times in the past when I have dumped a motorcycle in or near a stream. They always make me nervous. Fortunately on this trip, we all had success with water.  Not so for all; the night before sitting in the Sluice Box drinking coffee, the bartender told us about a group of guys that came through a few days earlier and tried crossing Valdez Creek unsuccessfully.  He said one rider headed straight across and hit a sudden drop off (invisible due to the murky water color). The front tire dropped suddenly and the entire rider and bike disappeared momentarily. The bike resurfaced with the rider on the side. The bartender said the saddle bags actually acted like floatation devices on the bike. Both rider and bike were salvaged. This story is my greatest nightmare with water crossings.  Now I have more information to rattle around in my head the next time I am approaching a water crossing.

Jaz arrived… time for beer.

Diversity in beer - Michael, Me, and Jazz

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Trail of Tipped Bikes

(a post-trip blog: the Denali Highway, Alaska)
It rained all night long. In the morning, I put all my heavy motorcycle gear on under the boughs of a tree. This was an attempt to minimize how wet I would actually be when I was finally riding down the road. Even though I had heated gear, it was cold. The temps dropped to the low 30s at night; we had frost on the bikes. 

The valleys along the Denali Highway are created by 3 river drainages
I slept cozy in my down bag, silk liner and knit hat, but riding all day in the rain was how the day was panning out. I did have trouble putting on my contact lenses. The rain was bad enough that any chance of getting them in correctly was non-existent. I rode with my eyeglasses to the first stop and took care of the contacts in the restroom. Eyeglasses add an extra surface for potential fogging when cold.

The first few miles of the Denali Highway are paved (from the Paxson side) and the road is mostly flat for the entire distance
We made it to the Maclaren River Lodge for more hot chili and bread. I purchased a beer glass from the bar with the intention of packing it home, but I left it on the table. The lodge was filled with people in warm gear and hats, mostly hunters taking refuge from the rain. We saw several successful hunters throughout this trip with Caribou parts tied to their vehicles for the long ride home to the freezer.

Lunch in the Maclaren River Lodge
The view was clouded over in the distance, but the shades of red were apparent in the tundra close by. We pulled over to take a snap shot of the fall scenery and Diane became tip-over #2 on this trip. She had parked on a slanted section and didn’t realize the bike was still in neutral. Between the uneven ground, the extra gear weight, and the bike not in gear, she went over. It took only a second to right the bike.  Both Michael and Diane looked at me and told me I was next. I made sure I was extra careful where ever I parked for the rest of the trip.

Although it rained the entire weekend, the fall colors across the tundra were beginning to show.
Cold and wet with a little bit of fog describes this trip well

The road is relatively flat and even with the rain, not much of a challenge. I knew there would be one section of glacial silt on the highway, but other than that area, the Denali would give us a scenic but non-technical experience. Knowing this would be the case, we planned to explore the Valdez mining roads near the Susitna River. If I am planning to ride around the world, then every opportunity to increase my technical skill is a good thing. All of this rain had flooded the secondary streams and  smaller trails north.  I did not think we could get back too far from the main road before we ran into the black mud that acts like grease (the same mud I ran into on the way to Inuvik the first time). If someone knows the story on this mud, please leave it in the comment. Either way, we were planning to only go so far up Valdez Creek area.

We started up with plenty of opportunities to test our water crossing skills, we all did fine.  Michael and I were riding tires a little bit more aggressive than Diane, but she did pretty good with her road tread in the mud (she slipped a little in the glacial silt on the main road later in the day, but still they did okay, and these were pretty wet conditions).

While out in the middle of nowhere, sure enough, we get pulled over by a cop. This time it was an Alaskan State Trooper. He was concerned we were illegally hunting while using a motorized vehicle. We chatted with him for a while, and when he realized that we had no intention of tying a caribou trophy rack across our handle bars waved us on.

Alaska State Trooper determines if we are a participating in illegal activity
No sooner did we leave the nice officer when we ran into a few gentlemen, we think, were trying to hunt. We weren’t sure. It probably started out as a conversation in a bar over beers and went something like this:

"Well, we can't take 4 wheelers into that area to hunt, and if we are successful it might be pretty tough to get the dead caribou back to the truck" and then another fellow says "lets build a cart that looks like it came from the Middle Ages and load it up with all our gear, including pedal bikes" and then, the last person adds "Great idea - we can then drag it out into the middle of nowhere so that when we kill the animal we can load it up and then push it for miles..." and finally "Oh and make sure we remember to bring coolers full of beer too"...

It looked like this:

The "Beer-Deer" cart (actually Beer-Caribou, but that doesn't sound as nice)
 We found lots of water to practice on...

Me riding my red KLR through a river that has flooded the trail
 Diane takes on another flooded area:

We topped off the water riding with a stop at the Sluice Box Bar for hot coffee... at Gracious House.

Michael and Diane enjoy coffee in a trailer converted to a bar.
After Gracious House, we hit the glacial silty section of the road. The rain made it a little unnerving, but all you can do is just look forward and ride it through. This section is an esker, a sinuous ridge of silt, sand, gravel and cobbles that were carried and deposited by a stream that flowed within the glacier and was confined by walls of ice. When the glacier melted away, these deposits were left as elongated mounds. Eskers along this highway are some of North America's outstanding examples of this type of glacial feature. They are also difficult to pedal or motorcycle through. It is a small section, but be careful.

We had planned on camping at the last campground on the highway, but it was packed due to the hunting season. We pressed onto Cantwell and spent the night there.