Quotes of the day

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
- Helen Keller

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep.
- Robert Frost

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Dalton Highway

Before getting to the Dalton, the Elliott Highway showered me with affection:
(Including lightning and thunder for special effects)

Right after the beginning of the Dalton, it turned to dirt (OK, mud).
I slowed down and allowed for the loss of stability - so far so good.
After 15 miles I entered a major construction zone (The Dalton is always being worked on).
Following the pilot car through the thicker mud and dodging heavy equipment added a new dimension.
It definitely had my undivided attention now.
Awkward, but I was coping. I was thinking "Hey - I can handle this big, bad DALTON!"
Then I hit the serious stuff. OMG
Here's how they maintain the dirt surface, a section at a time:

1. Water trucks come along and dump a bazillion gallons of water on it to "soften it up".
2. A grader follows along, gouging up the soft mud into a 3-4 inch thick soupy slop of mud and gravel. 

At this point, I thought the trip was over.The bike was now going where it wanted to, and I was just adding "influence" when I could. I was in first gear, 10mph, and trying to keep it upright.
The grader was coming my way in my lane, so I went into the left lane to pass. When I passed the grader, I saw that the mud was twice as deep behind it, and he had created a 6-8 inch wall of mud between the lanes.
Fortunately, I met no traffic until I found shallower mud to cross back into my lane.
I was ready to call off the Dalton challenge, but there was NO WAY I was going to go back through that slop!
I kept on slogging and wrestling with the bike, thinking "At least it can't get any worse...".
HAHAHAHAHA.  Yeah, right.
Then a southbound 18-wheeler came at high speed, and I could see the wall of muddy spray following him.
I braced myself, and got officially "baptized" by the Dalton, from helmet to boots.
Oh well. Might as well keep going north now. I'm sure not going back through that.
But of course, I will. That's the problem with a 415-mile dead-end road.

I ended up encountering many "grader slop" areas northward, and finally learned to cope at 15-20mph.
But none had mud as deep as that first section.

The bad section ended at the bridge over the Yukon River, and I stopped to fill up.
Here's a shot of the parking lot:

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