The day following the clean-up of the bikes, we headed to Soldotna, a very nice town in the Kenai Peninsula where Bill had a high school classmate named Peggy whom we were going to stay with for a couple of days. As many Alaskans will tell you, and we immediately came to the same conclusion, the best place to photograph Mt. McKinley is about 85 miles south of the National Park entrance from one of the many turnouts along the George Parks Highway. The Gods favored us this day and the mountain showed itself in all of its glory. It was a great site to look at the tallest mountain on the continent while standing along a highway in Alaska.
The day proved to be a beautiful day for a ride from Fairbanks to Soldotna. To get there we needed to take the George Parks Highway from Fairbanks o Anchorage which took us through Wasilla, AK. You may have heard of Wasilla as the place where Sarah Palin hails from, but more importantly, the town sits in a beautiful setting. We then navigated through the city of Anchorage and were soon working our way around Turnagain Arm a part of Cook Inlet on the Seward Highway. The drive on this day was just a series of gorgeous sights of the mountains that surrounded the arm. We slowly made our way round the arm and through much road construction to Soldotna and into a two car garage for a much needed rest for us and maintenance for the bikes (we maintained our chains religiously), and a thorough checking out of various items bent, broken or missing. The stop and visit with Bill’s friend Peggy and her husband Randy was a great way to mark the beginning of the ride home which would complete the part of the ALCAN we missed from Whitehorse, YT to Tok, AK. We would though, just north of Watson Lake, turn off the ALCAN and head down the Stewart-Cassair Highway to the turn off to Prince George. This alternate route is reputed to be much more scenic than the ALCAN, and we wanted to have a different riding experience on the way back home.
Part of traveling is developing a sense of humor about the unexpected and sometimes extraordinary experiences. As we made our way back to Tok to then turn south toward Whitehorse, we were able to enjoy one grand vista after another. We encountered as always road construction, which gives veracity to the Alaskan saying there are two season in Alaska, winter and construction. It is best to just say, “Amen”. We spent our last evening at Fast Eddy’s in Tok and said goodbye to Alaska at Beaver Creek.
Our way back was much more scenic beginning with a stay at the Talbot Arm hotel on Lake Kluane in the Yukon. The hotel had a fuel food and nice rooms. The surrounding area is quite scenic, but there are frequent winds accompanied by storm cells that cross the lake. We made our way to Haines Junction, which is a crossroad for those coming up from Haines, Alaska (many of the travelers having been passengers on the Alaska State Ferry that services communities throughout coastal Alaska including being a link to the lower 48 states with a route from Bellingham, WA through Southeast Alaska which terminates in Skagway, AK.) At this juncture we headed, still on the Alcan, over to Whitehorse and south towards Watson Lake, YT.