David made it to Alaska on his 2001 BMW after eleven days of hard riding, some days cold and rainy. He averaged about 425 miles per day.
After spending a couple of days in a government camp near Tok, Alaska, the road to Anchorage had finally opened. From Anchorage, he traveled to DeBarr. It was late Sunday evening when he arrived. He had no idea where he was going to stay that evening, there was only one campground in town and they did not allow tent camping. As luck would have it, he met another biker (on a Harley) while he was eating dinner at a Taco Bell Restaurant. He offered David a place to camp in his brother's yard. David took him up on the offer. Turns out, the brother was a GS BMW rider as well. On the road, it is common for motorcyclist to help one another out.
Next day, David took a trip to Seward, Alaska. He said this of his trip to Seward, "It was a beautiful drive, prettier that I had thought. I stayed a couple of hours there then headed for Hope, a very small town that looks like a ghost town. I had been to Hope in 1970 and I remembered an old woman who ran a whiskey and gold mining store. She was still there running her store. She told me she was in her eighties."
That evening, he camped at Resurrection Creek near Hope. Salmon run into the creek in July and that means grizzly bears. "After camping near the creek, the next morning I went back to Hope for breakfast. A local man was talking about a grizzly bear he had seen the night before near his home. The grizzly had actually come up to his window, and reared up. I told them where I had camped the night before and they thought I was crazy. I didn't sleep there again!" David recounts.
David went back to Anchorage. Each day he listened to the news and found out the fires were getting worse. He wanted to head up to Eagle, Alaska, to visit a friend. "The road to Eagle was still closed. I left Anchorage and drove to Palmer, where I found out Hatcher Pass was open. Hatcher Pass was about twenty-five miles of very rough gravel road, but a very beautiful drive. From there I went up the Fairbanks Road to Cantwell, turned onto the Denali Hwy, another gravel road. The Hwy. ended at Paxton. I headed south toward Glennallen. The weather, while beautiful, warm and dry, was the reason there were so many fires. The whole state seemed to be full of smoke and fires, and they were getting worse every time I heard about them."
It was late Monday evening when he arrived in Eagle. He looked up his friend and found out she had been working for the fire service, made big money in seven days, but was now laid off since the fires had calmed down. Tuesday, they heard the fires were springing up again. "We went down to the fire department and put our names on the list of people who wanted to work. In a couple of days, they put me to work guarding some equipment. I guarded the equipment for three nights, until most of it was distributed to the firefighters. The fire was getting very close to Eagle. Hundreds of firefighters had been called in to save this little town. From the town, you could see the fire roaring on the other side of the Yukon River. One fire was coming from the Canadian side and there was one coming from the north. The town's people had meetings each day regarding the fires. I went to most of the meetings; it was very interesting meeting the local folks, including the Indian Village people."
David continued to work for the fire department. "I was teamed up with Jim Dugan, a local who was about seventy years old. He was a gold prospector who had lived in the area for thirty-four years. A real character, who had been mentioned in books written about the town of Eagle. We were sent fifty miles out of town where the fire had burned up a road. We escorted traffic through the burned area. After the fires went down in that area, we were told to just drive up and down the roads to cut up and move any trees that had fallen onto the roads. This was a real hard job (yeah, right!). We drove up and down one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen, and making sixteen dollars and hour. We camped out with a group of Wyoming firefighters called the "hot shots," also known for being the best of the best in fighting fires. After four days, we were not needed there anymore and were told we could go. Jim had things to do to protect his home, and I was ready to be on the road again. So we went back to Eagle, I had had my adventure. I worked for seven days and had made over sixteen hundred dollars, not bad! I hung around town for a while, looking things over and talking to some people I had gotten to know, then I left out and hit the road."
David made several stops on his way home. He drove through Glacier National Park, a fifty-mile drive. He camped in Columbia Falls that night. The next day he went to Kalispell on the east side of Flathead Lake on Hwy 35 where David said, "There were a lot of cherry orchards. I bought three or four pounds and ate nearly all of them, they were really good."
From Flathead Lake, he drove to Darby, Montana, where the "annual logging days" event was going on. He camped there that night, and then headed for Idaho the next day. "I went down a long grade for several miles to the Salmon River and turned around, just to say I had been to Idaho. I headed back to Montana, then east to Dillon and then to Twin Bridges where Charles Kuralt had own a farm. His girlfriend still owns it. It was Saturday evening. There was a church there in Twin Bridges and a place to camp, so I stayed."
Sunday, after church, David drove up to I-90 and was on his way home. His adventure was over for the most part. It had been six weeks and two days since his trip began and he had ridden 11,500 miles. David is planning another trip to Alaska in the future. If you are planning a trip to Alaska, or are interested in knowing more about David's excursion, give him a call, he is in the book. David is more than happy to talk to those who are interested, and he has many good tips for travelers venturing upon a trip like his on a motorcycle.