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Old 11-23-2013, 09:34 PM   #151
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Just sailed out of Salinas after provisioning for a few days of sailing. We'll head toward Vieques with a stop at Monkey Island to visit the feral monkeys. Then on to Fajardo to do some work on the boat.

The main sail is up and the jib is out. We are making about 3-4 knots. Moonrise isn't for another two hours, so we're sailing southeast toward the star Rigel for now. Eventually, we'll hang a left and start heading northeast along the coast. Should be at Monkey Island around dawn.

Yep, we brought some bananas.

Also discovered these exist while provisioning today:

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Old 11-24-2013, 12:26 AM   #152
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

I didn't see anyone answer this...

I believe the motorcycle warning sign was that there are steel grates on the road ahead, possibly used to keep livestock from crossing. When it's wet, any kind of steel grate or plate on the road is basically like ice for a motorcycle.
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Old 11-24-2013, 07:48 AM   #153
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In this case it was a bridge, but yes, that's exactly what it was for.

Rounding the southeast corner of Puerto Rico at dawn a couple of hours ago:

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Old 11-24-2013, 01:32 PM   #154
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A dolphin pod showed up about an hour ago and swam with us for a bit:

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Old 11-24-2013, 08:11 PM   #155
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

If you spend the evening in Vieques you could check out the bioluminescent bay there. You kayak out into a bay where the water glows when you touch it. Easy to arrange a visit from Esperanza. Years ago you could swim in it, but after a (minor, I believe) shark attack it's limited to kayaking. But I've heard if you find the right guys they'll let you swim. I assume you could also arrange it yourself.

Your trip sounds amazing, Thanks for keeping the thread going.
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:35 AM   #156
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We ended up staying in Fajardo for about a week. Got a slip at the Puerto Del Ray marina so we had shore power which was nice.

Rented a car for a few days while there and drove into San Juan a couple times to visit friends, drink sangria, and hang out. That was the first time in a month that I've driven a car. Also drove up into the mountains to Guavate with friends for lunch at a lechonera where they have a full pig on a spit. Ate a lot of roast pig.

Thanksgiving dinner was pizza, cheese bread, and chicken bites at a completely packed Dominos Pizza place. The only other options were subway and mcdonalds. We watched the Hunger Games movie afterwards at Caribbean Cinema. That movie is terribad.

Sailed out of Farjardo two days ago. Arrived in St Thomas late the same night and anchored at Brewers Bay about 1000ft from the airport runway. Was pretty cool to watch the planes arrive and leave from that close.

Motored over to Secret Harbour yesterday, went ashore for some ribs & drinks at Iggies in Bolongo.

We need to repair some of the fiberglass near the propeller. The owner also wants to haul the boat out and get it painted. We also noticed a tear in the main at the second reef point that needs fixing. That tear happened on the way into STT, the wind kicked up the night we entered and we didn't drop the main fast enough.

The plan is to decide on a repair spot, get stuff fixed, then on to Aruba.
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Old 12-05-2013, 10:45 AM   #157
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The pig at the lechonera:




Boat in PDR:




Sunset on the way to St Thomas:

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Old 12-05-2013, 05:30 PM   #158
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Just hauled the boat out in St Thomas for a cleaning, painting, and some repair work:



Looks like I'm a land lubber for the next few days.

On the plus side, there are worse places to kill time than the USVI.
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Old 01-10-2014, 03:47 PM   #159
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

OK, time for an update.

After the boat haulout, we lived on the boat for about a week in dry dock. Then we had a scheduling/safety issue that made me decide to skip the leg south to Aruba in favor of heading back early to D.C. for the holidays. I headed to D.C. and am still here visiting for another week. Will be leaving D.C. in a week to go live in Vegas for a month or two, then back down to St Thomas for more sailing in March. Still trying to decide if I want to rent a condo in Vegas or just live in hotels. I've asked for advice in the LVL forum. Also going to try to get a little sailing in on Lake Mead while I'm there if I can. If anyone is in Vegas and wants to meet up for a drink, let me know. I should be there through the end of February.


So when we last left our hero on the epic road trip, I was at Liard Hot Springs in the northern part of British Columbia.

After enjoying the Hot Springs for a few hours, I continued along the Alaska Highway where I saw this hitchhiker:





Recalling the anti-hitchiking laws, I did not stop to pick him up. I saw a few small (20-30) herds in this area, but this guy was just walking down the road by himself, not a care in the world. I guess when you have that much mass, you aren't really concerned about anything other than doing your thang.

Eventually, I made it into the Yukon proper:





and stopped at Watson Lake for the night, only to find there were zero hotel or motel rooms available. I stopped long enough to take a few photos of the signpost forest:





and then continued onward. Around 10pm at night, I spotted a wolverine walking across the highway. Luckily there was still a little light at 10pm, so I was able to take a photo. Unluckily, he had no interest in having his photo taken and trundled off the highway. I did manage to get this terrible blurry photo:





You'll just have to take my word for it. He looked like he was in a bad mood so I didn't try to get a better photo and I figured getting out of the car would not be in my best long term health interests.

I stopped for the night around midnight at some random pull off on the highway where there was a semi and another car parked, and slept there for the night. This was the first night sleeping in the CRV. The mosquito-proofing worked wonderfully and allowed me to keep a window open, but the CRV frame dug into my back even with a sleeping pad under the sleeping bag, so I decided I'd be getting a sleeping board at the next opportunity.

The next morning, I was greeted with this sight a few miles down the road:





Must have happened minutes before, as that blood was super red and fresh. That used to be a porcupine, if you were wondering.

The next stop was Whitehorse. I wish I had spent more time there. It's a great funky little Yukon town right on the Yukon River, and I really enjoyed being there. I'm not sure how to describe why I liked it so much, other than that it just had a really nice vibe. I spent the night there and pretty much all I ate was caribou or reindeer for the two days I was there.





I took a workman's special to go from that deli when I left. Caribou and reindeer sausage ldo.

One of the things I got a kick out of in Whitehorse was the first Northwest Territories license plate I had seen:





I've seen some interesting license plate designs in my time, but nothing can beat a license plate that is shaped like a polar bear. That is as good as they get.


Closing in on the AK border, I passed Kluane Lake which is a weirdly chalky shade of blue and surrounded by some sweet mountains:





It's mostly fed by glaciers, which means you end up getting a nice variety of smooth stones in the lake floor. I hung out there enjoying the view and skipping stones for an hour or so.

There is a tradition along parts of the Alaska Highway where people will leave messages by finding rocks that are a different color than the predominant rock color along the side of the road, and stack them to write things:





I thought about making one, but didn't want to ruin someone else's message and was too lazy to go find my own rocks.

For most of the trip along the Alaska Highway, I had read over and over again in the Milepost guide about all the swans that summer in the ponds along the highway. I had not seen a single one at this point and was nearing the Alaska border when I came across these guys:





which was nice, especially with the clouds reflecting in the water like that. This was about 2 miles away from the border.

The Alaska / Canada land border had a bunch of monuments and international division signs, but my favorite was this little bench:





Oh yeah, welcome to Alaska btw:





The customs station was significantly smaller than I thought it would be:





Only one of the two lanes was open, and there was only one car ahead of me. Big difference from the customs station entering Canada. There were no cars behind me so I hung out and chatted with the customs agent for a few minutes, but she cleared me in about 30 seconds flat. Also another nice change from when I entered Canada and got the full vehicle search.

I stopped for the night at a campground just outside of Tok. Tok is the junction in Alaska where you decide if you are heading south to Anchorage or north to Fairbanks. Having picked up a sleeping board in Whitehorse, the CRV was much more comfortable to sleep in, if a bit crowded:





I knew I was back in Alaska when I saw all the wolf pelts for sale in Tok the next day:






Next leg of the trip report will take us up to Fairbanks, and finally to the fabled Dalton Highway. Then on to the Arctic Ocean for a toe dip.

Last edited by chopstick; 01-10-2014 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 01-18-2014, 11:24 AM   #160
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Nice report! Thanks for taking the time to entertain us.
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Old 01-30-2014, 03:02 AM   #161
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

I didn't buy any traps or wolf skins. I was a little tempted by this:




but decided it wouldn't fit in the CRV. I spent the night at a local campground after picking up some food from the grocery store, then headed north the next morning. I had gone all of about 15 minutes before I saw this:





That was not what I wanted to see. The wildfires were pretty bad around there, though not as bad as when I went through Crater Lake. I decided to keep going because what else was I going to do? No way I was turning around after having come this far.

Made it up to Delta Junction without much incident. There was a lot of smoke and tons of burned out forest, but I never saw any actual fire. Once I got to Delta Junction, there were some mosquitoes hanging around:





Delta Junction is the end of the Alaska Highway. That was one hell of a long highway.





Looks like the Alaska Highway is very popular with Euros as well as Americans:





I put in a pin for St Thomas, then continued on to Fairbanks. Not long before Fairbanks is Eielson AFB. They host the 354th Fighter Wing. They were doing maneuvers when I drove past, and I got to see a bunch of sweet F-16s zipping around in the sky being awesome:






Made it up to Fairbanks not long after that. Tried to exchange my leftover lolCanadia money, but the exchange fee was like 20% of what I had left, so I decided to just keep it as a souvenir instead. lolCanadia money is far superior to US money. Did you know their money has pictures of people playing hockey on it? I'm not even making that up.





Pretty sweet, eh?


Had dinner with a friend near the river (mmm salmon soup), and stayed at some random hotel. Then up early the next morning, and on to the Dalton. It felt a little weird leaving Fairbanks because I knew that this was the final leg and that this was where if something went wrong, there would be no cell service and far fewer motorists. Of course, that's what I was there for, so off I went.






I can verify that the Alaska pipeline does indeed exist:






I took a few photos of it when I first saw it, because I didn't realize that the pipeline runs parallel to the Dalton for pretty much its entire length. Very quickly I grew tired of looking at it, and eventually somewhat irritated at it always photobombing me.

The entry to the Dalton isn't that far from Fairbanks, and the road texture definitely changes. Time to put lights on. For the next 425 miles.






Then there was this suggested speed limit:






I think I went 50mph for maybe about 8% of my total time on the Dalton. The big trucks can go that speed because their tires are like 6 feet high. I settled for an average of around 25-30mph due to the road conditions. Some lengths were paved, but even then they were covered in road dirt and would have random potholes. Lots and lots of rutting on the unpaved parts.





Deadhorse, here I come!






Look at those tires! Now those are some srs bsns tires, I tell you. Very very glad I put those on before trying to tackle this road.


Next up, driving the Dalton, camping at the Arctic Circle, that kind of stuff, you know how we do.
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Old 01-31-2014, 04:42 PM   #162
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Such an awesome thread, thank you again.

I'll actually be in Vegas (again) with The Girl Feb. 5-8. Maybe we can grab a drink somewhere. Could be a cool meeting-of-the-roadtrip-threads.
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Old 01-31-2014, 05:06 PM   #163
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Would love to get together and exchange road trip stories with a fellow vagabond, see you when you get here. I may even forgive you for going to Oahu instead of Kauai.
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Old 02-08-2014, 05:46 PM   #164
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

OK, let's get started down the Dalton Highway.

The first thing I noticed about the Dalton was how desolate it was. There was not much there besides me and the road, which stretched on and on:






Not more than an hour or so up the road, I started an elevation change, and the increased elevation brought on some fog. At first it was just a tiny little bit, but that changed quickly. It was a little nerve wracking because there are few vehicles on the road and most of them outweighed my CRV by many many tons as the traffic is primarily semis.






At one point the visibility was down to probably 20-30 feet. I did not stop to take a photo then because I wished to live to tell this tale, but here's one of better visibility:






After making it through the fog I ended up crossing the Yukon River yet again at mile 56:





yes, that's the pipeline photobombing me again. Get used to seeing it, it's going to be around for a while. No photos of the Yukon itself. Just imagine a curvy superhighway made of dark brown muddy water and you've got it. So much dirtier than back in Canada.

Fuel was pretty expensive all along the Dalton. I filled up here at the Yukon stop:





$5.20 still ain't that bad considering they can pretty much charge whatever they feel like charging. There was also a little cafe there but I didn't order any food, having stocked up in Fairbanks.

There was a little Alaska visitor center on the other side of the road that I stopped in at:





I think I had at least a dozen mosquitoes try to eat me before I made it to the door. This area was the most mosquito infested part of Alaska that I stopped at. The ground was super muddy and there were little pools of standing water everywhere. I hung out with the ranger at the station for a bit. She gave me a bunch of maps and stuff I didn't need, but I accepted them with a thank you as I think she probably gets to talk to about two people a day max. That job would be nowhere near as bad if you could walk around outside without instantly being drained by hordes of mosquitoes.

Parts of the Dalton have been given names based on their structure. This part at mile 76 is called The Rollercoaster:





It has a pretty sick grade, around 9-10%. I was very glad to not be trying to negotiate this when it was covered with snow and ice. There are some crazies that bike the Dalton (yeah, I know I'm also a crazy for driving it for no reason), I'm guessing this is not one of their favorite spots.

Here was one of my favorite spots:






Well, one of my favorite names, anyway. I like that they have a sense of humor up there.
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:14 PM   #165
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

300 miles from Deadhorse, and hey what's this coming up?






Sweet! The Arctic Circle!





There was a guy hanging out there asking people to fill out surveys for the state of Alaska. The state is trying to get an idea of just exactly what type of crazy person travels the Dalton for fun. I asked him a bunch of questions about the people who had come through. He said most people go no further than the Arctic Circle and he was pretty surprised when I told him I was going all the way to Deadhorse. He asked me a couple of times if I was sure I wanted to go that far, and that there was nothing up there but an oil camp.

There was another guy up there on a motorcycle. He had planned to do what I was doing, though he started from California. He made it about 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle before giving up and turning around due to road conditions. I felt bad for him, because that would really suck to get that far and have to turn around. I had thought about doing this trip on a motorcycle myself, but I've done long distance rides before and that thought didn't stick in my head very long when I remembered riding from Orlando to D.C. Great ride through the length of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah, but it takes a lot out of you.

There are about a dozen little campsites there, this was mine:






Did I mention how badass my tires were?





That little white line around the window is a set of 4 strip magnets that are holding mosquito netting in place so I could roll the window down and get some air while I slept. I wasn't sure how well that was going to work, but it worked great. Very satisfying feeling to see the mosquitoes trying so hard to get in and take a bite of me, and being denied. Sorry mosquitoes,





Got a decent night's sleep in the CRV and woke up to a nice chilly foggy morning. Was glad I invested in a warm sleeping bag and went with a quality air mattress. After some stretching and a cold breakfast, it was time to head out. I was the only one there, though survey guy had camped there that night as well. Guess he got an earlier start.


Speaking of sweet names on the Dalton...





This was one of the few places (the Atigun Pass would be another) where I was wondering if maybe I should have invested in a CB radio after all. They named it Oh **** Corner for a reason, there is very little visibility around that increasing elevation turn, and the turn itself is tight. Yeah, that's part of a tire hanging from the sign.
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Old 02-10-2014, 02:57 AM   #166
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

After rounding Oh **** corner, I kept heading north, and the fog went away, leaving nice blue skies:





Hunting is allowed (this is Alaska, after all), but only bowhunting within 5 miles of the road, due to the pipeline running parallel to it. They don't want anyone shooting holes in the pipeline:





That red foliage is fireweed. Here's a better shot without the sign:





This was a lot more fun to drive than the land of infinite fog and mud. I stopped a lot and took quite a few photos like the above. I'm not going to spam the trip report with them as you can only appreciate so many landscape shots, but they were all pretty sweet. Except for that damn pipeline constantly photobombing me.

Up around mile 175, I came across the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center:





They have a bunch of exhibits and some trails. I walked a couple of the trails and chatted with the rangers for a bit. They don't get many visitors, which is a shame, as the exhibits are nice.

Being here meant that I had made it to Coldfoot:






which is not very big:





I stopped in at Coldfoot Camp which is the big building on the left and had a local brew:





"America's most northern brewery" indeed. I had some lunch there as well. It was nice to have hot food again. Here is the menu if you want to see what they serve up there. I wrecked some biscuits with sausage gravy, they never had a chance.

There is a post office there, but it's only open 4 hours a day, 3 days a week:






I was going to mail myself a postcard but I managed to time my arrival on one of the days it was closed. The CRV was starting to get pretty dirty at this point:





Next service 240 miles. That is the long stretch. 240 miles doesn't sound like a lot, but when there is literal nothing the entire length, and the road is chewed up and rutted for much of it, 240 becomes a lot longer than it normally is.






They put up that sign about access to the Arctic because people were showing up and then getting mad that they couldn't access the ocean. Deadhorse is the oil camp at the end of the road, and the oil fields that you need to cross to get to the ocean are privately owned by the oil companies. They restrict access to the camp as well as to the water and the surrounding areas. The numbers on that sign allow you to book a tour for about $50. Yes, I booked in advance. No way I was driving all the way from Key West and not making it to the Arctic Ocean.

Time to head north again:


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Old 02-10-2014, 06:17 AM   #167
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Quote:
Originally Posted by chopstick View Post
There was another guy up there on a motorcycle. He had planned to do what I was doing, though he started from California. He made it about 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle before giving up and turning around due to road conditions. I felt bad for him, because that would really suck to get that far and have to turn around. I had thought about doing this trip on a motorcycle myself, but I've done long distance rides before and that thought didn't stick in my head very long when I remembered riding from Orlando to D.C. Great ride through the length of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah, but it takes a lot out of you.
You would need something like this to survive the roads?


Quote:
This was one of the few places (the Atigun Pass would be another) where I was wondering if maybe I should have invested in a CB radio after all. They named it Oh **** Corner for a reason, there is very little visibility around that increasing elevation turn, and the turn itself is tight. Yeah, that's part of a tire hanging from the sign.
Why a CB? In case you fall off the road? They only have a practical range of 7 to 10 miles, basically line of sight. What you would want is a satellite phone. Not sure they would work that far north though. You should have one anyway, considering all the remote places you go. They aren't all that expensive any more.
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:30 AM   #168
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

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Hunting is allowed (this is Alaska, after all), but only bowhunting within 5 miles of the road, due to the pipeline running parallel to it. They don't want anyone shooting holes in the pipeline:
Bullet holes in the sign. Morons are everywhere.

Quote:
Next service 240 miles. That is the long stretch. 240 miles doesn't sound like a lot, but when there is literal nothing the entire length, and the road is chewed up and rutted for much of it, 240 becomes a lot longer than it normally is.
Did you carry any emergency gas cans? It would suck to get up there, and for some reason not be able to get enough gas to come back. One of my pet peeves about my car is the stupidly small gas tank (11 gallons). It's a fairly big car and there's no reason not to put a decent sized tank on it. I had a BMW that was smaller that had a 16 gallon tank, but Ford in it's infinite stupidity puts small tanks on their cars. Even worse is a Mustang that has only about a 170 mile range.
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Old 02-11-2014, 02:51 AM   #169
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

I'd prefer a KLR for a long distance ride with poor road conditions. I do like the F650GS, rode 500 miles of the Pacific Coast Highway on one and enjoyed every second of it.

Speaking of KLRs, here I am on a KLR enjoying the Tail of the Dragon at Deal's Gap in North Carolina a few years ago:








I wish I remembered what kind of tires those were. I swear they were made of duct tape. Stickiest tires I've ever rode on, they were perfect for the Tail of the Dragon. If you aren't familiar with that road, it's one of the most fun and most challenging motorcycling roads in the U.S.:






The CB is BLM recommended gear for the Dalton to allow for communication with truckers. I decided to skip it, mostly because it didn't seem necessary and also because I didn't feel like mounting it and tuning it. Back when I was even dumber than I am today, I managed to ride it once without ever touching the brakes. Probably not the brightest thing I've done.


No satellite phone. Not a bad idea to have one, but I make sure any blue water sailing I do has a sat phone onboard, so mine would be redundant. Didn't see the need for one on the Dalton as there is a fair amount of truck traffic if I needed help for some reason. If I had gone far offroad such as on a hunting trip, I'd have brought one.

Did not carry any emergency gas cans. I was planning on doing so, and looked at a few in Fairbanks. I decided to to bring one for two reasons. First, there was no decent way to mount one for the expected conditions without significant effort, and I didn't want to have it inside the vehicle. Second, I had been paying close attention to the range of the CRV during the trip, and knew I was getting about 340 miles per tank. The tank was a nice large 15.3 gallons. The longest stretch with no fuel is that 240 mile stretch listed above, so I was comfortable with that kind of margin, knowing I'd be averaging around 25-40mph and not varying my speed often.
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Old 02-11-2014, 05:03 PM   #170
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

chopstick,

first, this has been a great thread. i'm curious what it is you do (did?) for a living that allows you the freedom to do the things ITT. Also, how old are you?
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Old 02-11-2014, 06:44 PM   #171
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Thanks, Bode-ist, glad you are enjoying the thread.

I'm in my late 30s. Semi-retired a few years ago after a career in tech / internet stuff. I do a little contract management consulting once a year or so if it's interesting enough, and enjoy investing and trading.

Right now I'm focused on enjoying my life as much as I can while my body is still able to do awesome stuff. I figure if I stay healthy and keep in good shape, I can maintain this kind of active adventurous lifestyle for at least another 15 years, maybe 20. Then I'll be content being a boring old man with some sweet stories. There are still a ton of cool things I want to do, and now I have the capital to do them and hopefully the maturity to survive them.
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Old 02-12-2014, 11:32 PM   #172
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

After fueling up body and car at Coldfoot, I went a little north to Wiseman (population: 14), which is a tiny little town a few miles off the Dalton. One of the families living there rents rooms, so I stayed there for the night. I thought I took a photo of the little lodge they have, but maybe I didn't. I also stayed there on the way back down, so maybe I'll find it in those photos.






Here's that confirmation for my Arctic Shuttle reservation. $50 sounded pretty pricey to me but considering the service and the location, and the complete and utter lack of alternatives, $50 it was.





Not too far up the road from Wiseman the next day, I ran into what was to be one of many stops on the rest of the way up. The road gets torn up pretty good due to all of the 18-wheeler traffic, and there are non stop projects to both repair it as well as update sections of the Dalton to asphalt. This group of bikes was directly in front of me waiting, and I felt bad for them, as it was pretty cold, probably high 30s Fahrenheit. Temperatures like that aren't so bad when are on a bike if the engine is running, because you can lean over the engine and get heat from it. When the engine is not running, you're basically just standing around in the freezing cold. I gave myself a little mental pat on the back when this happened for deciding to cage it in the CRV.





After about 45 minutes of waiting, we were cleared to move again. Here are the bikes heading north, and the pipeline photobombing me as usual:






The North Slope Borough is the name for the area that comprises the entire top 25% or so of the land in Alaska. It covers an area larger than 39 states, and has a population under 10,000 people. This is also where you basically stop seeing trees, and the endless tundra starts.





Oh, hello photobombing pipeline. Good to see you yet again.

This is also about the time that you start heading up into the Brooks Range:





Here's a look backward from the top of the road in the previous photo:





All the trees went away, but fear not, there was something new - snow:





This was also the point where I entered the Atigun Pass, which is the highest driveable pass in Alaska at about 4,700 feet. It's at milepost 244, over halfway to Deadhorse. When I arrived, it was just starting to blizzard. Wonderful.





Near the top of the pass, there was a pullover. I stopped and saw something moving near the dirt ridge. It was tough to see because it was foggy, windy, and snowing.





Don't see anything? Let's zoom in.





Yep, that's a wolf.

My first thought was "Sweet! I need to get out of the car to get a better photo!" which was then followed by "That is a wolf, maybe staying in the car is a better idea". He climbed over the dirt ridge after that second thought, so the ability to make a really stupid decision was luckily removed from my options. I did briefly think about following him over the ridge, but that's when I also remembered that most wolves travel in packs, and following him into the the side of a mountain in a blizzard was probably not a great idea.

It had been many years since I last saw a wolf in the wild. I'm a little sad I didn't get a better photo, but very glad to have been able to see one again.
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Old 02-17-2014, 04:15 PM   #173
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

After I came down from Atigun pass and out of the Brooks Range, there was pretty much nothing but tundra and mud until Deadhorse. Many fewer passenger vehicles, though that probably started north of the Arctic Circle. Lots more stopping and waiting for pilot cars, and lots more enormous road work vehicles:






Yeah, those tires are as big as they look, that's not a vantage point trick. Lots of tires that were bigger than me or the CRV. And here I thought my own tires were badass.

About 100 miles south of Deadhorse, I came across the first camp. It's named Happy Valley, but I think Dreary Valley is a more accurate name:





Not much down there aside from some trailers and construction equipment.

Another 100 miles or so later, I was finally approaching Deadhorse after seeing nothing but tundra and one bear so far in the distance I didn't bother trying to take his photo. Here you can see the rutting in the road that kept my speed down to 30mph or so, as well as one of my favorite signs on the Dalton:





What's this?





Are you telling me the quality of the roads might actually improve?


More importantly, I had made it. I was in Deadhorse, almost at the end of the cross continent trek. I had started out at 150150 miles on the odometer in Key West, Florida. Now I was at:





162334! Yeah, I know it's only 7-8k as the crow flies, but I'm no crow and took plenty of detours along the way. 12,184 miles for me.

First things first, I immediately fueled up the CRV. I thought I had taken a photo of the pump price but I guess I didn't. It was like $5.90/gal if I recall correctly. It was cold, windy, and gritty in Deadhorse, so the next thing I did was head over to my hotel:





the Prudhoe Bay Hotel. Yep, it's basically a big trailer. Those little black cords attached to the walls are to connect to engine block heaters on cars so you can warm your engine when it has frozen. Those cords were on pretty much every building in Deadhorse. Most of the people staying at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel are oil company personnel who are there short term for some temporary work.

My room was small, about 10'x8' with a bed and a small bathroom. Lots of the units just share a hall bathroom. I'm fine with that setup, but it was only like $15 more to have your own bathroom so I figured why not live a little. This is the view out my window from my room:





Hi, CRV!

All meals are included with the price of your room, and they have a little cafeteria that is open 24/7 with specific periods for the three hot meal times. When they aren't serving hot meals, there are coolers and cabinets full of food that you just open and take whatever you want:





Those little blue scrub things are what you have to wear if you want to keep your shoes or boots on inside the hotel because the ground in Deadhorse is effectively one big gritty mud pit in the summer. I was still wearing my Keens, as I had been driving barefoot the entire way, so I just slipped them off and carried them around with me.

The quality of the food was far, far better than what I was expecting. They eat very well up there, flying in food daily. Someone explained it to me as being that there are few things up there that can improve quality of life, given the desolate location, so they spare no expense on the food. I was really impressed by the quality of the fruits and vegetables. Here's my breakfast:





mmm biscuit with sausage gravy. For dinner they had like 5 different main courses, and it is always all you can eat. I ate better than I had eaten since leaving Fairbanks. It was a nice change from 3 days of jerky, multivitamins, and bananas. This is gonna sound a little crazy, but the Prudhoe Bay Hotel food really helped make the visit to Deadhorse worth it.
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Old 02-17-2014, 04:59 PM   #174
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Here's the road approaching Deadhorse:






And here's a nice zoomed out view:






Not quite as far north as possible, but as far north as you can drive:






The tour bus that takes you to the Arctic Ocean has a pickup in one spot, so I headed over there the next morning and found about 6 other people who were doing the same thing as me. All had come up to Deadhorse on a bus rather than drive themselves. All looked at me like I was pure crazy for showing up in shorts and sandals. They were probably right.

The little bus is basically similar to a hotel airport shuttle. We got in, and the guide took us around the camp, showing us various things. For the most part that just entailed trailer buildings and oil field equipment. That kind of thing doesn't really interest me so I didn't take many photos. I did take a photo of the Prudhoe Bay National Forest:





Who says Halliburton is pure evil?


After about 30-45 minutes of looking at oil camp buildings and machinery, we made it to the Arctic Ocean:





We didn't actually go off road, there's a small gravel road there that doesn't show up on the map image. The driver had to get off the bus first and verify there were no bears in the area. A grizzly had been seen the prior afternoon stalking a wounded caribou about a mile away, and polar bears hang out in the area as well. They aren't allowed to let us out of the bus if there are any large wildlife. My plan if they hadn't let us off the bus was to just stay in Deadhorse until they did. I wasn't leaving without walking into the Arctic Ocean after coming this far.

Lucky for us, the guide gave us the all clear, and we got off the bus:





and finally, the Arctic Ocean.





That little black line out in the distance is an oil platform.

I took off my Keens and walked barefoot into the Arctic Ocean to complete the journey that started with having my toes in the Atlantic down in Key West. It was an awesome feeling to have done this. It's something I always thought would be super cool to do, and here I was, having made a dream come true:






And yes, the water was really ****ing cold. 35 Fahrenheit according to the guide. My feet turned red pretty much instantly. I had brought one, but the guide had a bunch of towels with him because not only is walking in pretty popular, but there are some people who also like to dive in. This is remarkably stupid because the slope is very flat, and you'd need to walk pretty far out into the water before it drops off to anything more than a few feet. The guide warned us repeatedly not to try diving in, even after we all told him we had no intentions of doing so. He said that more than one person has done it and knocked themselves unconscious. Good to know there are people crazier than me out there.


Time to head back:


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Old 02-17-2014, 06:58 PM   #175
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Re: chopstick goes for a sail

Very cool.

No waves to speak of. Is that typical?

Was there a Deadhorse before the oil drilling? Is the oil drilling all that is there now?
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