So last time I did an update I was in Grande Prairie waiting for my battery. Right now i’m Anchorage, some 6000km further with a new battery AND a fixed Macbook. So here we go again!
Pieter and I left Grande Prairie to ride the Alaskan Highway all the way up to the real start of this trip: Prudhoe Bay Alaska. The most northern tip of the Americas and the actual start of my trip. While riding the Alaskan Highway we camped most of the time; we saw a bunch of wildlife, stayed in a really strange hotel in Fort Nelson and kept on living off canned food. It came to a point where we travelled according to the world cup, so we would definitely have a TV to watch the Belgians play. We arrived in Watson Lake, where the world famous sign post forest is. For me a highlight of the trip. Further down the road we ran into a flock of bisons. Really bizar but oh so awesome. The cowboy feeling stayed a while. Our destination that day was the Liard Hotsprings where we stayed for 2 hours in really hot water while it was pouring rain. Perfect!
We planned to arrive near the Alaskan border the following day but that was until we met Neil and Jude who live in the Yukon (Discovery Channel has tons of shows about that area). They had a ‘Welcome ADV rider’ sign so that asked for an invite. The view they have is really unbelievable. Their house is on a hill so you look down and see rivers, and snowed up mountains as far as the eye stretches… One of the most perfect places ive seen. On one of the hills in the distance there was a really small dot, you could only see with binoculars. I asked Neil what it was and it turned out to be an abandoned fire lookout. If it was possible to hike there? Off course, Neil said, takes you 3 hours. So the next morning we set off to hike to the fire lookout. Soon it became pretty clear that there was no trail and we had to find our way trough the mountain pass and a river. I panicked because there were Grizzly footprints all the way but Pieter encouraged to carry on. Luckily. After 3 hours of clapping our hands and singing songs we arrived at the house and it was really magnificent… It was like someone just left the place to go for a pee but never came back. The newspaper on the table dated from 1985. The last sign of someone being up there was from 1999. So we were the first people there in almost 20 years! I don’t have to describe the view we had on this fire lookout but it was pretty amazing. If I ever get married this is where I will spent my honeymoon. After staying a few hours we decided to hike back in a straight line… 3 hours later again, a ripped pants and a lot of cursing we found our bikes back. Neil and Judie were really happy we did it so they could finally see how the place looked like from the inside. They served us Moose meat and tons of beer and some things you can smoke (sorry mom). Neil introduced us also to ‘The Last Trapper’. Apparently a famous figure and living legend. WWF made a documentary about him. Its really worth your time and gives a good impression of the scenery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfvYt3cuyAI. On one day we saw almost more black bears than human. Bear count in Canada was something like 17. Yukon, you’ve been really fantastic!
From there it went to Dawson City, a real cowboy feel like town, literally. They have saloons, barber shops, a casino and hell you can even pay with the chips from the casino! This is also the place where you can drink the famous toe cocktail. Jup thats right, they dip a real toe from a dead body in your drink. No Shit. So this town called for a party. The thing with Pieter and me and parties is that we’re hard to stop… After we went to see the can-can show we ended up in a bar with the barmaid who had been serving us before, and she took us to a home party with the staff of the casino doing casino stuff like in the movies. Things got out of hand again and we went to sleep at 6 in the morning. Two days later we took the trip to Alaska on the Top of the World highway. The name needs no explanation. The views here are really unreal and its everywhere! We just did the border crossing into Alaska and saw already a caribou. We entered the town of chicken, where they shoot women underwear out of a canon at twelve o clock in the night and met with Gert. A 64 year old German guy who conquered cancer and is now a round the world trip on his motorcycle. So here is the proof ladies and gentlemen, you don’t have to be young for a big trip like this.
We camped for 2 days with Gert in Tok and met a mechanic who is building his own plane. People in Alaska are weird, but in a good way.
We rode to Fairbanks to start the world famous ‘Dalton Highway’. One of the world most dangerous highways (according to discovery channel). Its a 804 kilometer one way (500 miles) and most of its gravel road. We decided to do it in 4 days. We got lucky with the weather on the way up and its a really weird feeling riding into this vast landscape. When you enter the töndra you can’t help yourself but to feel very small. Everything is really flat and like I don’t know, some 100kms back you can see the mountain range that is now 1 cm tall from your point of view. Truly the end of the world. We paid a hotel because it can snow and freeze up here, there is also the midnight sun, so it never gets dark. The ride back was pretty hard. Because its really flat, the wind can blow really severe and it was raining. For 400 km’s we rode with nothing to shelter in the rain, mud and gravel. Pieter got almost frozen to his bike. Together with an Argentinian guy, Raphael, and Sam, an American. They didn’t want to do it solo because of safety issues. Luckily for us, because Pieters bike broke down on this route and thats something you don’t want here!!! Sam could fix the problem se we were not stuck on the road. On the way down we saw a crashed motorbike and no one around. Not everyone can finish the Dalton apparently. I would never describe it as the worlds most dangerous highway, but it was challenging for us and the weather is everything. Back in Fairbanks we stayed with Jacob, a 26 year old pilot wo build his own shack in the woods to save costs. Really inspiring. In the city centre we also saw a Bikini Barista coffee house. I don’t know if you remember the reizen Waes episode, but you can order a coffee with some monokini ladies, the tips go the liga of Breast Cancer. Now we were really started!
From Fairbanks we wanted to ride the Denali Highway. Well, i’ve seen some mind-blowing landscapes so far and really nice nature, but I have to admit the Denali Highway is definitely top tree. Real BBC shit. The highway took us via a detour to Healy, the place where Chris MacCandless started his trip into the wild. Unfortunately we couldn’t do the hike because the river was too high. Absurd, i know. At the local brewery you can see the replica they used in the movie, which was also nice.
We stayed with Paul, an ADV rider who let us stay in his trailer for a while. Lucky for us, Paul takes the pictures for the rafting company in town so he could get us go rafting for free! Nice Paul!
From rafting for free it almost went to a glacier landing for free. But it didn’t… In Talkeetna we met the first weedshop owner, Joe. A 28 year old entrepreneur who sells a lifestyle called ‘The High Expedition’. The weedshop is also a museum of the first mountain guide in Denali park. (you can check it out in the VICE documentary made about him and the shop on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osT1ztbzFtU). I know no one will but you never know in a cowboy film, right Steven Vanhecke? So we stayed too long again at this place and went partying again. We saw the best gig so far and an amazing piano player, Mario Carboni. The whole bar was dancing and Pieter and I were feeling real good. Too good it turned out. The morning after we were on Stand-By for a glacier landing. This means you can go for free as long as the plane is not full. We told the company we were working as bell boys in the local hotel… Joe told us that could get us on the Standby List, which it did. The first day the planes were full and the second day, well, we never made it…
I really needed to drop off my laptop for repair so we went to Anchorage. You can camp for free at the Harley Davidson shop which is really cool! Met some cool people again and we ended up travelling with two Germans, Marcus and Olaf from Berlin. I had to wait for 7 days anyway for my Macbook to get fixed so we rode to Homer and stayed at Whiskey Gulch, for 4 days… Why 4 days? Well first, you stay on a beach where there is almost no one, and second, on the other side of the ocean you see tree volcanoes. One of those incredible places again. We had tons of campfires, Pieter got his bike stuck on the beach and we had ‘throwing rocks at empty cans’ competitions. There were also tree kids who stole our heart, well at least one did for me. The kids were playing alone on the beach while their mothers were cooking. The night settled quick and they were walking with the wind away from everything, into the dark. They couldn’t hear our voices anymore so Pieter and me ran for them. Gunnard, the smallest was walking in the sea all alone, totally disorientated and cold from the freezing water, crying for his mom. I took him into my arms and rushed him back while she was running towards us. She almost squeezed me to death to thank me.
The day after I wanted a portrait of a fisher who caught a salmon. He asked if I wanted it so that night we had fresh salmon with the whole bunch. Whiskey Gulch, i’ll never forget you.
I went hiking with the Germans to a glacier and saw some puffins. We wanted to meet someone in a local bar with a boat to go halibut fishing (Homer is the halibut capital of the world) but ended up with an adres to see some bears catching salmon. Not bad, I know. We decided to go to this place but the people we met weren’t there for the day. I decided to go back to Anchorage because my laptop would have been ready, but it wasn’t…. So Pieter and I split up for a few days. Luckily he could see a brown bear from really close!!! So now i’m sitting here in the Harley Davidson shop where there is a festival tonight. Next stop is the road to Valdez and McCarthey were we eventually will drive back to Vancouver where my solo trip starts.
My bike is still doing really good although I had some small panic attacks about oil consumption (its fine now) and Pieters bike is slowly falling apart, as how he describes it. I’m sure it will make it to the end.
Its really strange how you get used to things. Ive been sleeping in my tent for almost 2 months now with the small occasion of the opportunity to sleep inside on a floor, couch, trailer or a shitty bed in a hotel. And still loving it. Funny how my tent feels like home now. We keep meeting the craziest people and we’ve been told we have inspired other people as well. So far so good! Hope to leave soon again, because the call of the road is too loud sometimes. BRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!