I survive the Dalton Highway and dip my feet in the Arctic (Part 2)

When I left off yesterday I was almost at Prudhoe Bay, and was beginning to see sheets of ice laying on the ground.  I can’t remember it being cold as I approached, but once there it certainly was!  Rode into “town” – all the streets are gravel of course – but this is not a town in the sense of shops, advertising signs, street lights, or houses.  There are no houses there, nor are there any shops.  No-one actually lives in Prudhoe Bay; everyone is a temporary resident who is either a tourist, or an oilfield worker who does the fly-in fly-out thing on a three week rotational basis.  I hesitate to call the place a dump, it is more a functional kind of place.  Everything is there for a reason, rather than to look pretty.  

To show you what I mean, here is a typical Prudhoe Bay street:  

Prudhoe Bay Street

Anyway, I got there and a strong wind was blowing.  It was actually 0 degrees but about minus 10 with the windchill.  If this is summer, I thought, what the hell are the winters like?  I was really cold and glad to be there though.  Checked into one of two hotels in the place:  the Arctic Caribou Inn.  Sounds grand doesn’t it…  

There were two other bikes already there – BMW F800s which were ridden by a couple of blokes from Venezuela.  I first met up with them in Coldfoot and we had a short chat about the ride thus far and the bikes, and even though their English is limited and my Spanish non-existent, we were able to communicate well enough.  I was to meet these fellows on the way back too; seems as though they were just ahead of me most of the way.  I got a photo of their bikes and mine in the Arctic Caribou Inn’s car park; alas there was no valet parking:  

  

This is the Inn, another functional, rather than pretty, building:  

Arctic Caribou Inn

Arctic Caribou Inn

Anyway, I check into this place, and pay the, you guessed it, $200 for the night.  After the Coldfoot experience, and the look of this place from the outside, I wasn’t expecting a great deal.  But again, as long as it had a bed, shower, and was warm, I was happy.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Here is the room, and you will note the distinct absence of chipboard.  It even had a telly.  

Room at Arctic Caribou Inn

I opened the curtains to see what was outside.  Perhaps there is a nice scene worth photographing, I thought, maybe some blocks of ice or something.  There were blocks of ice alright, but the view…well, you be the judge:  

Prudhoe Bay - view from hotel room

Anyway, I had a shower and washed all the yuk off myself, and there was plenty of that too.  The usual, dust and mud.  Next was something to eat – hadn’t had anything since the egg/toast/coffee at Coldfoot that morning, so I was ravenous.  Dinner was buffet style.  On the menu was meatloaf, which looked delicious.  It was probably reindeer meatloaf, but I didn’t care.  I was starving and wolfed it down.  Bugger Rudy.   

Dinner over, I decided to watch a bit of telly.  They have quite a few channels up here and even, unbeknown to me, had wi-fi.  Too bad I didn’t bring the laptop so I could update the blog.  I ended up watching women’s softball.  It was the 2010 College World Series and featured UCLA (California) vs Arizona.  These are both seppo teams, so I guess the rest of the world had already been eliminated.  

It was entertaining watching this game.  Most of the ins and outs of softball are over my head; things such as strike rates of .333 or whatever, and top of the sixth, I don’t know much about.  The entertaining part was watching the behaviour of these 20-something women.  When the batter is up there doing her stuff, like striking and fouling and having balls, the rest of the team is sitting in the bleachers grooming themselves, combing their hair, gossiping, chatting on phones, and probably bitching about absent friends.  However, when the batter hits a home run, instantly the combs, phones, absent friends, et. al are forgotten, and these women very unladylikely are quickly over the bleachers, form some sort of a circle, and jump up and down and around the home runee.  Almost as suddenly as this begins they are back in the bleachers, and back to the phones/combs/gossip/bitchfest.  I can just imagine the conversations:  “She stole my boyfriend, the cow, but he was never that great in the sack and underendowed to boot, so who cares”.  

Hilarious, but after a while it sent me to sleep.  The next day was what I had been anticipating, and the main reason for doing the Dalton Highway.  It was to dip my feet in the Arctic Ocean, in keeping with My 3 Oceans Tour.  The tour bus, $40 US, left at 8 am, and promised a tour of the oilfields (yawn…sorry, but oil is not really my thing) and a dip in the ocean (yay).  It was actually quite an interesting tour.  Here are a couple of pics of Prudhoe Bay and surrounds:  

  

  

There are no trees in Prudhoe Bay and this is their national forest:  

Prudhoe Bay trees

 We finally got to the Arctic Ocean.  Here’s a pic on the way:  they actually have sand dunes up here!  

Prudhoe Bay sand dunes

Here is the Arctic Ocean.  There are six photos because I just couldn’t stop clicking.  Absolutely beautiful.  

  

  

And here is the reason for the 1600 kms there and back:  to dip my feet in this ocean –  

  

It was cold but not as bad as I thought…bearable.  

I rode back to Wiseman, just north of Coldfoot, and stopped for the night.  The next day, fueling up at Coldfoot down the road, I again met the Venezuelan blokes.  I left before them and didn’t see them again.  Good luck guys, wherever you are!  

First thing to do once reaching Fairbanks was to wash the bike.  The calcium stuff is corrosive to metal and my bike was covered with it.  Some before and afters:  

Bike before wash

Bike before wash

Bike after wash

Bike after wash

I was absolutely exhausted after that, but remained on a high for several hours.  What an experience, and something I will never forget.  I guess it was the most challenging part of the three oceans over with, as the Arctic was always going to be the most difficult to reach.  

It was more than the destination though, the getting there was half the experience.  That isolation!  That silence!  Those mountains, and the peaceful serenity of that part of the world is, and will always be, unforgettable.  What have we done with our world, that such basic facets of nature are the exception, rather than the norm… 

Next stop is Canada:  the Yukon, the Top of the World and Dempster Highways.  Stay tuned!

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6 Responses to I survive the Dalton Highway and dip my feet in the Arctic (Part 2)

  1. IT"S ME says:

    now I know why you were so keen to get the bike washed as soon as possible. How many people can say they had a paddle in the Arctic Ocean, ….. and lived to tell the tale ! I love the sound of the stillness up there, nothing like it in this crazy world we live in here.
    Well done, My Dear.xxxxxxx

  2. Janet says:

    I noticed neither of the BMW F800s had knobby tires. I’m surprised they actually made it all the way there! Wonder if, being lighter bikes, they would have been easier to handle (although both looked fully loaded) or if the mud/gravel/rocks would have pulled their bikes around more than your 1200… I suppose that would have been a bit hard to translate into Spanish, eh.

  3. Denise says:

    THERE ARE NO WORDS FOR THIS KIND OF AMAZING. I have a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Please take pride in this life altering event.

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