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Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

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    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Alrighty, folks... we're home again!

    I think a retelling of this "S&P Adventure" is in order here, but will definitely have to happen in installments rather than one gigantic wall of text. Each update will undoubtedly get a million edits after I post it as I proofread and process my way through each day of the trip over the nexxxxxxxxt however many days it takes me to recount this whole journey and tell its stories. But it's definitely an adventure that I want to document and preserve, both for myself, and to share with you all, as it was easily the most life changing adventure I've been on yet. So stay tuned as this thread develops.

    If you followed along with my near-daily Facebook updates, you got a pretty solid idea of how it all went down in near real-time, but there were sooo many more details, stories and adventures that there was just no way I could post about them all.

    Cliff's Notes:
    Sylwia and I spent two weeks riding a pair of BMW F850GS Rally's from Anchorage, Alaska to Portland, Oregon. We spent the first night in a hotel and the last night in a hotel. The rest of the time we bounced around, never sleeping at the same camp site more than once. I ran out of gas... more than once. We saw the Northern Lights, Denali (the highest mountain peak in North America), Moose, Caribou, Elk, Whitetail Deer, Columbian Blacktail Deer, Dall sheep, Bighorn sheep, Grizzlies, Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles. We soaked in the Eclipse Nordic Hot Springs of Whitehorse in Yukon, walked through an EXPANSIVE glacier cave, met, rode with, camped with and broke bread with many AMAZING, truly fascinating people and had one big, spectacular, unforgettable adventure...

    Our final route ended up looking something like this: https://goo.gl/maps/AwJhMCngeV5sdPMj8 (click for "interactive")

    This journey was, for sure, immeasurably greater than the sum of our 4,000 miles traveled.





    So with that, I'll begin the full recap with Post #1 of.... many.

    Pre-Trip:
    Exactly one month ago tomorrow, and less than two weeks before our surprise departure, Sylwia, my fiancÚ, and I woke up in Maine to an email from a company some of you may already be familiar with called MotoQuest. That email started with "CONGRATU-FUKIN-LATIONS!"

    Okay, maybe not... What it actually said was something along the lines of "Thank you for submitting your rental request", yadda yadda yadda, "your timestamp has allotted you first right to refuse."

    Now that's a lot more boring than "CONGRATU-FUKIN-LATIONS!", but to us, that's how it felt!

    What we had done is submit a request that's sort of like a lottery... only so many slots and it's a first-come first-served thing.

    So with that, we quickly started planning out the logistics. Airfare, first night hotel, camping gear, riding gear, tools, equipment, route, stops, etc... We had to get ourselves and everything we needed from our home in Worcester up to Anchorage, AK to ride two motorcycles over 3500 miles. And all those logistics had to come together in less than two short weeks.

    Totally doable.

    Now the quickest & shortest way to ride from Anchorage to Portland can be done in just 2,434 miles. A hardcore rider could crank that out in 3-5 days easy peasy, but the shortest & quickest route just wouldn't cut it. Nah. We had two weeks to play with here, and bigger plans than busting it out in one quick shot. We wanted to ride to the Westernmost point in the North American highway system (Anchor Point, AK), Denali National Park, Top Of The World Highway (which, sadly, we had to skip), see some glaciers, some grizzly bears, Olympic National Park... there were a LOT of boxes QUICKLY finding their way onto our checklist. So ~2,500 miles and a few days simply wouldn't be enough. Hell, two WEEKS wasn't gonna be enough!

    So the planning commenced... Thankfully most of the riding & camping gear we already had. Only things we ordered were some Frog Toggs, overboots, a new camping tarp, a small tank bag, one bigass duffel bag to jam it all into and... well that was about it!

    Eventually we were all packed up and in the air on our way from Boston to Anchorage. Nothing too special about that, but... on the climb out of Denver after our layover we were gifted with a SPECTACULAR view of the sunset descending right behind a BIG but waning thunderstorm. It was stunning. Being a former small-time pilot and closet weather nerd, I was glued to the window. SO cool.

    Next stop: Anchorage!!!






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    Last edited by OreoGaborio; 09-22-22 at 04:41 PM.
    -Pete LRRS/CCS #81 - ECK Racing, TonysTrackDays
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    Newbie BrettG's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    1st - super happy that you are doing this. I am eager to learn from others and this is a great way for me to do that.

    2nd - beautiful picture!

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  3. #3
    Being A Dick PurplePackage's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    subscribed

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    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Since we went through Homer... I'm scrapping the phrase "S&P Adventure" and dubbing this an "S&P Odyssey"

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    -Pete LRRS/CCS #81 - ECK Racing, TonysTrackDays
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    Lifer obsolete's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Loved following on the Facebooks. You know Amanda and I love adventures and that one took the cake. PS you need a registry.

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    -Alex
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    How were the lights in person Pete?

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  7. #7
    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Quote Originally Posted by obsolete View Post
    Loved following on the Facebooks. You know Amanda and I love adventures and that one took the cake. PS you need a registry.
    Thanks, dude. Made me smile seeing how many people enjoyed following along. Glad ya liked it!
    As for registry... Eh, we thought about it... Maybe we'll get one when we get married and/or spawn, whichever comes first.

    Quote Originally Posted by tsorfas View Post
    How were the lights in person Pete?
    They were stunning... The display we were gifted with was spectacular. Those who have been lucky enough to catch it a few times in person would probably agree that it definitely wasn't the most intense Aurora Borealis that night, but still, we got a pretty decent one and, being our first time seeing them, it was a thoroughly goose-bump triggering event.

    The other crazy night-time display we got to experience was seeing the entire Starlink Train fly DIRECTLY overhead. We were just falling asleep when I flipped my SHIT and scared the crap out of Sylwia What made that moment even more incredible was that it was the ONLY NIGHT during the entire trip that I convinced Sylwia to leave the rain fly off the tent. More about that, and pics, to come.

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    Last edited by OreoGaborio; 09-22-22 at 04:43 PM.
    -Pete LRRS/CCS #81 - ECK Racing, TonysTrackDays
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    Lifer FirstDuc-1098's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Pete, I don't see the two pix. At least on my phone .

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    Shit Corey says:
    Quote Originally Posted by hondarider102 View Post
    I think that a smooth motor would help me be a bit smoother

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    Kosher Assassin Stoneman's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    It was awesome following your trip on the Facebooks. While not as vast as your trip, it's yet another trip I've always wanted to do. This has me thinking about it again.

    Pics aren't showing up on my workstation either...

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    Did you grit your teeth and try to look like Clint Fuckin' Eastwood?
    Or did you lisp it all hangfisted like a fuckin' flower?

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    Lifer ZX-12R's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    I too enjoyed reading your Facebook posts.

    Like Stoner and a few others, your pictures aren't appearing in this thread.


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    "...i would seriously bite somebody right in the balls..." -bump909

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    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    lol, okay thanks guys... Think I got it.

    Added a rough map of our final route as well.

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    Last edited by OreoGaborio; 09-20-22 at 09:39 AM.
    -Pete LRRS/CCS #81 - ECK Racing, TonysTrackDays
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    Lifer ZX-12R's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Much more betterer!

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    "...i would seriously bite somebody right in the balls..." -bump909

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    suburban ghetto living... black's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Did that drive in an SUV back in 2006. It was great and we didnt slab it i either. Denali highway other non direct routes. Hyder alaska, Tok were highlights. even made it to the arctic circle for a pic and drove back to seattle over 20 days

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    hmmmm......

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    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    That's awesome. What'd you guys do in Tok? All we did was hit up the visitor's center, eat at Fast Eddy's and meet Carston, who ended up riding with us for five days & became a fantastic friend. Other than that, we just ripped through.

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    Last edited by OreoGaborio; 09-20-22 at 12:49 PM.
    -Pete LRRS/CCS #81 - ECK Racing, TonysTrackDays
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    Lifer Pittenger5's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    So can you now confirm that the trip both started and ended at your house?

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  16. #16

    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Also followed along on the book of Face…proud of ya Pete. Stunning and worthwhile trip.

    A ride report with pics on here will be great…for you. You can re read it 5 years later and all the memories will slowly piece together in your mind like it was yesterday. It will be a lot of work, but rewarding. Commit to doing this thread right.

    We’d also like to hear about what you thought about the bikes..are you an ADV convert now?

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    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pittenger5 View Post
    So can you now confirm that the trip both started and ended at your house?
    We did indeed start and end at our house, smartass
    The bikes, however, only went from point B to point C

    Quote Originally Posted by breakdirt916 View Post
    We’d also like to hear about what you thought about the bikes... are you an ADV convert now?
    The bikes were great. They weren't without their flaws and limitations (like wind buffeting RIGHT at my face level, range and suspension) but overall they were rock solid. I wouldn't call myself an ADV convert only because I've always liked ADV's, just never had the opportunity to own or ride them much.

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    Last edited by OreoGaborio; 09-22-22 at 04:45 PM.
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    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Alrighty... DAY ONE: Anchorage & the Kenai Peninsula!

    We landed & got the shuttle to our hotel a little before midnight. The room was expensive... and shitty... and musty... But whatever, it was a place to sleep and it would be the LAST bed for who knows how long?

    We unpacked & organized all of our gear. Clothes, food, cookware, sleep systems, etc. and went to bed.

    The next morning we got up, made the quick walk to the convenience store to pick up a few small items, then grabbed our helmets & jackets and moseyed our way down the road to MotoQuest!

    Thankfully their shop was just a few hundred yards down the road from the hotel so we didn't have to get a car or anything. Super convenient.

    The guy was there and waiting for us, bright & early at 9am. Bikes freshly cleaned & served and ready to rock! About about an hour or so of paperwork and (MOSTLY) a million questions about recommended routes & stops etc. we were signing at the dotted line and taking the keys. Now the adventure REALLY begins!




    It took a bit to get all packed up with some semblance of organization, but eventually, a little before noon, we were off!!! Kenai Peninsula, here we come!



    As you can see, it was a little rainy. Locals said it had been wet & gross non-stop for the past two weeks... grrreeeeaaaaat... I was hoping we'd bring the sunshine, but no such luck on day 1. Street gear was sufficient for the first leg, but the skies opened up a bit more as we approached the coast and the rain gear had to come out.

    Thankfully we were still in VERY good spirits as seen here.




    We continued down the Sterling Highway South from Anchorage and traveled all the way to Anchor Point... the Westernmost point in the North American highway system.

    We past right on through and all the way South as far as we could go, to Homer, AK. There wasn't a whole lot to see there... we were hoping to get some hot food somewhere quiet but it was all pretty touristy. Lots of shops (a lot of fishing gear). Definitely a cute place, but unfortunately we were starting to run out of daylight and had to find a place to set up camp. So back North we went.

    We had dinner at a Thai restaurant (of all things... apparently Thai is super popular in AK ) and found a SPECTACULAR place to set up camp RIGHT on the beach back up in Anchor Point at the Anchor River Recreation Area... Check out THIS view







    The sun was setting later than back home. Not super late, but these were taken a little before 9pm.





    Next stop: Seward!

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    Last edited by OreoGaborio; 09-22-22 at 04:50 PM.
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    Newbie BrettG's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)-giphy-gif

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    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Alrighty... Day 1 complete. Anchorage to Homer and the West coast of the Kenai Peninsula had been checked off the list. Now we're off to check out a little bit of the south/eastern coast of the Kenai.

    Day 2:

    We woke up to more of what we went to sleep with - a beautiful view and improving weather. If you didn't catch it in my first post, the locals said it had been wet & gross non-stop for the past two weeks, so this was a welcome surprise.

    There was only a *little* drizzle... (Sylwia thought she caught a nice candid moment of me overlooking the ocean in the early morning sunlight... Spoiler alert: that was only half of what I was doing. )



    We packed up camp, took one last look at the mountains in the distance from our campsite and jumped on the bikes, making our way back up North along the Sterling Highway. Goes without saying, but... GORGEOUS views.





    Next stop, Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, AK. This was pretty much the Alaska version of the Boston Aquarium. Pretty rad little place!

    Here's a quick little video of a chubbeh little friend we made. https://photos.app.goo.gl/e43CHwBHCMEVSqWq5

    Even the parking lot was pretty.



    From there, we went to the Kenai Fjords National Park to check out Exit Glacier at the Harding Icefield. A quick little 30-40 minute hike brought us up the wash-out area (if that's what it's called) up to Exit Glacier and back to the bikes. Beautiful spot.







    And on the way out, one last look at Exit Glacier...



    From there, we worked our way North back towards Anchorage and of course.... more gorgeous views along the Sterling Highway.



    Eventually the sun was setting and we had to set up camp. We found a campground but unfortunately it was small and all the spots were taken. Thankfully there was an "overflow" parking lot a little down the street and we set up shop in the corner. Just two camper vans, the Nature Cops and us.


    Nighty night!


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    Last edited by OreoGaborio; 09-28-22 at 12:38 PM.
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    fuuuuuck....I try to do a big bike trip every year and this one has been on the list, but daunting to plan. Looking forward to following along!

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    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Quote Originally Posted by nick5446 View Post
    fuuuuuck....I try to do a big bike trip every year and this one has been on the list, but daunting to plan. Looking forward to following along!
    So Sylwia did pretty much all of the planning, but honestly, a lot of the stuff we planned beforehand went out the window once we got there, and a lot of stuff we DID do we DIDN'T plan... it was really a "wing it and see what happens" trip. Only things that were set in stone were our equipment, where we were getting the bikes, the start & end dates, a handful of "must see" destinations that determined our general route and our capabilities (daily mileage, navigation, exertion levels and such).

    It honestly made the trip so much better, not being all that planned out. You had a lot more freedom to do what you wanted. All you "had" to do was keep moving forward towards the final destination.

    If you wanna talk more about ZERO planning... wait till later when I introduce you guys to Carston and Pat! A couple of solo riders out there just doin their thing.

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    Last edited by OreoGaborio; 09-28-22 at 08:47 AM.
    -Pete LRRS/CCS #81 - ECK Racing, TonysTrackDays
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Quote Originally Posted by OreoGaborio View Post
    So Sylwia did pretty much all of the planning, but honestly, a lot of the stuff we planned beforehand went out the window once we got there, and a lot of stuff we DID do we DIDN'T plan... it was really a "wing it and see what happens" trip. Only things that were set in stone were our equipment, where we were getting the bikes, the start & end dates, a handful of "must see" destinations that determined our general route and our capabilities (daily mileage, navigation, exertion levels and such).

    It honestly made the trip so much better, not being all that planned out. You had a lot more freedom to do what you wanted. All you "had" to do was keep moving forward towards the final destination.

    If you wanna talk more about ZERO planning... wait till I introduce you guys to Carston and Pat!
    I hear you on that! Me and a buddy did Newfoundland this year on bikes. We booked our ferries a few months in advance, and literally nothing else. We both got so busy with work and life that a week or so before the trip we just said "fuck it, I guess we're winging it" and it worked out great.

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    Lifer typeone's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    O . M . G

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    Super Moderator OreoGaborio's Avatar
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    Re: Operation: Anchorage to Portland (an adventure recap in progress)

    Day 3: Off Kenai to Denali.

    We continued back North to Anchorage. We decided to stop by REI so I could pick up a new "just-in-case" sleeping bag to replace the 32 degree REI co-op bag that I was using... They weren't open yet so we found ourselves at the SteamDot Benson Coffee Bar to grab some breakfast and a coffee. This place was SWANKY! A coffee nerd's paradise. V60 pour overs, Chemex, aeropress, high end espresso machines... you name it, they could do it... Sylwia grabbed herself a nice tea, I had a bangin cappuccino and we split a couple of pastries.

    Once REI opened we popped in and I got myself a Nemo Disco 15* (600 fill down) for just over 200 bucks. (Thanks, Labor Day Sale! )

    From there we kept rolling North.

    About 100 miles later, on our way to Denali, we stopped for lunch in Talkeetna, a little town that's become a bit of a trendy touristy place, especially for those looking to spend some time hiking Denali. We poked around a bit, had a beer & a KILLER salmon burger from a food stand and continued on.


    Another 150 miles and we arrived at the Denali National Park Visitor's Center. There we poked around, got our park passes & camping arrangements and learned a bit more about where we could and couldn't go and what other services they offered. We decided to buy a pair of tour bus passes to get deeper into the park than we could ride ourselves and then went to set up camp.

    Pulling into the tent site (with our own motorcycle parking area) we see a BMW R1200 sport touring bike and a dude that I spotted earlier back at the Visitor's center. We ended up striking up a conversation and it turned out he rode all the way from NORTH FRIKKIN CAROLINA just a few DAYS before. His name was Steve and Alaska was the 49th and final US State on mainland North America that he hadn't ridden to yet and he finally crossed it off his list. He was a pretty cool dude to talk to. We hung out for a bit that evening & the next morning, and I'm a little bummed we didn't get a photo with him before we parted ways.

    That evening, after setting up camp, Sylwia had the brilliant idea to take a sunset ride into the park as far as we could go, so we took the short, but INCREDIBLE ~30 mile round-trip ride down the main Park Road to the Savage River Check Station. This ended up being as far as we could venture on private vehicles without an exception pass (only granted to visitors spending more than two-three days camping out deeper inside the park.)

    On this gorgeous sunset ride we ended up seeing eight.... EIGHT MOOSE! Needless to say, cars were stopped along the road and a lot of people were out of their cars getting pictures and we were no exception...



    I really wish we got more photos of the sunset, but we were having too much fun enjoying and admiring the sights & the landscape.


    Day 4: a day in Denali
    The next morning we ate breakfast, packed up camp & headed to the bus depot to jump on the tour bus. The tours went deeper into the park than we were able to ride the previous evening and the guide/driver lady was pretty funny.

    We ended up seeing more moose, a few more bald eagles, two Golden eagles, Dall sheep and two Grizzly bears. The bears were pretty far away, but with a little help from a pair of binoculars we could get (mediocre) photo proof.




    And... although she did choose to stay hidden for most of the day, we did get to catch a few glimpses of Denali's summit, the highest peak in North America.



    A few other choice photos from our day in the park:






    Before heading out we grabbed one more photo. The line for pics in front of the sign at the main entrance was a little long, so instead of getting photos of us with the sign we settled for the next best thing.. A photo of Sylwia with people getting photos with the sign




    From Denali we continued North through Fairbanks... all the way to the North Pole! (well... North Pole, Alaska, at least)



    We picked up some groceries, scoped out the local camp sites and found helluva spot to watch the sunset and sip a beer to round out the day.


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    Last edited by OreoGaborio; 10-03-22 at 02:02 PM.
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    GMD Computrack Boston | Pine Motorparts/PBE Specialists | Phoenix Graphics | Woodcraft | MTag-Pirelli | OnTrack Media

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