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Day 15: Canada and Alaska

Sep 10, 2013 | Bojan Beran | Featured,Journal

When I started my journey I planned on writing an entry for every day I was traveling, but as you can see, that has not really been the case. Between my compressed schedule, massive amount of driving, a few fun activities and the nightly pursuit to get wet wood to light, I’ve had very little time and energy to actually sit down and write. The fact I’ve had to rush Alaska and drive back through Canada has left a few of the days here pretty uneventful so instead of writing daily entries I’ll try and give you guys recaps of where I’ve been and what I’ve done.

So, the last we left off I was still in Canada, and as I write this I’m back in Canada again. More precisely I’m lying all bundled up and writing in my tent on the shore of Dease Lake, BC listening to a babbling brook and gentle rain trying my hardest no to piss myself….fuck, brb.

OK, that’s better. So in the last 8 days I’ve delivered Kiko to the airport, saw Mt. McKinley, tried to see the northern lights and I surfed next to a glacier. Not bad for pretty hectic week. Oh and I’ve also driven over 2800 miles, which is more than going from LA to NY…so yey me. That shits cost me a lot of dough in gas, but totally worth it. Ok, so as I said, last I left you Kiko and I had spent the night at the Takhini Hot Springs. It was really nice relaxing in some warm water and getting another shower, and the campsite next to it was pretty decent. Interesting fact, the this hot spring does not smell like rotten eggs. Apparently the water is drawn from the nearby lakes and rivers into an underground chasm where the rocks themselves are hot enough to heat it before returning it to the surface. Fun!

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Anyways, the next morning we headed for Anchorage. The US border was way easier than the Canadian one. Go figure. One thing to keep in mind is that north of Prince Charles there is really NOTHING so the border just kind of sits in the middle of a clearing with a small support village where the border guards live. Its quite quaint. We didn’t quite make it to Anchorage that night so we stopped in Glennallen, only a few hours outside of Anchorage. The next day we took a more relaxed course and rolled into Anchorage around noon. We grabbed some food at a nearby diner and decided to walk around town. I won’t go into too many details but downtown Anchorage really struck me as strange. I got the feeling that its a very no nonsense, dock and military town but downtown was littered with those tacky tourist stores with Alaska sweaters and stuffed meese…mooses…moose? Kiko had been looking for a traditional Eskimo curved knife called an ulu but all we could find were really cheap tourist versions. Anchorage has a factory that pumps those fuckers out so finding an authentic one proved impossible. When we got back to the truck i found someone had tried to steal my bike off the back of the truck and had cut one of my straps but lucky they did not get anything. It did put me in a grumpy mood for the rest of the day, which Kiko can attest to. We went for a walk around the bay next but the rain started to come down harder so we decided to try and find a shower and clean Kiko up for his flight. We ended up a janky ass day spa but the steam shower felt amazing. I checked into my hostel and as a last act we headed to a local bar to grab some dinner and a drink. We lucked out as a really good blues/bluegrass band called Driftwood, from Colorado, seriously look them up, was playing. It was finally time to call it a night and i dropped Kiko off at the airport and retired for the night. I can’t stress enough how awesome it was to have Kiko with me for those first few days. It definitely made the drive easier and the trip more fun.

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The next morning i called the ferry operators to see what my options were for getting back to the continental US. The Canadians wanted me out by the 13th so my options were either cut the trip in Alaska short or take the ferry back. Well it seems like everyone is trying to get out of Alaska and the earliest I’d be able to grab a ferry was mid October, which is a little late and a lot cold. Drive back it is. So i had 4 days i could spend in Canada. I wanted to see Mt. McKinley, make it to Fairbanks and maybe see the northern lights. Surfing was not gonna happen, or so I thought.

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I drove up to Denali state park and camped out for the night. The fog was thick enough that I could not see the mountain, but the park was so serene and beautiful. I think there was only one other person camping on the grounds but I did not see or hear them the whole time. I took a short walk around the lake but didn’t want to venture too far cause of all the bear sighting warnings that were plastered around. That night i fell asleep to total science accented by a light rain. Sleeping in nature is way better than in cities.

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The next morning the clouds had lifted enough for me to glimpse at Mt. McKinley. Holy balls. The mountain is not close, nor is it that accessible but even from far away its breathtakingly huge. I tried taking pictures of it but I could not capture the astonishing sight. I started making my way up to Fairbanks when i stopped to pee in the middle of nowhere. As soon as I got out of the truck a van pulled up behind me and this kid yelled at me “Duuude, surfs back that way!” I thought he was joking with me but it turns out he’s a surfer from Texas named Tyler that lives in Healy, Alaska and he was referring to a massive swell in the gulf coming in the next day. So I booked it up to Fairbanks to try and catch the northern lights, but the plan for the next day was to get up early and get to Seward, 8 hours back from where I came.

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I got to Fairbanks at a reasonable hour, had some lunch, changed my oil and hunted for a dry camp site where I could see the lights. I ended up finding this back county road that let up high into the hills and peaked at the Ester Dome observatory. It looked like a spot where people partied so I figured I’d probably be left alone. I bundled up in the front seat, set my alarm for 12, 1 and 5 and put the Avengers on the laptop. Midnight came the rain was on and no lights were visible. 1 am, still no lights. The view on the city was pretty amazing however. At 5, with one bloodshot eye I booked it down.

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Somehow I managed to make it to Seward by 3, and I met up with Tyler at a campground next to the docks. I mustered up all the energy I had left, supplemented with an extra Red Bull and at 5 we boarded the good ship Viking. The boat was operated by Captain Scott Liska, a surfer and shaper based out of Seward and be set off for a 45 minute ride to Bear Glacier. Earlier in the day the swell was hitting well over double overhead (20+ ft) but the wind was on it hard so the few souls who went out earlier got more of a thrashing. When we went out, the wind had died down to nothing and the swell had dropped to a respectable 6-10ft. I had my fish with me, which I was assured would work well as the water at the glacier was mostly fresh and you needed the extra volume. The rest of the gear I rented. The suit barely fit me and the hood choked me, but when we finally got to the spot it was all worth it. Surrounded by amazing scenery, the water was glassy, the break mellow and consistent. At least way more consistent than anything I’ve ever seen in SD. 4 hours I spent in the water. I must have gotten over 15 rides, but unfortunately the GoPros batter sucked down quick and I was able to get a few choice images but nothing on video. I also got to surf with a honest to god sea lion. Some of the other dudes surfing got a little worried, but he looked like he was more curious than territorial, and after checking us out for a good hour, the little fucker started dropping in on us. It was freaking amazing. We ended up staying in the water till almost 10pm, well after the sun set and towards the end, it did start getting pretty cold. I can’t even begin to convey the stoke I felt surfing, and I can’t thank Tyler enough for pulling over and giving me the heads up, in the middle of fucking nowhere!

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That night I crashed hard and in the morning I had to bail pretty quick. I had 5 days left to make it through Canada and exit and I couldn’t spare a minute. I drove straight for what felt like 10 hours and made it as far as Tok, about and hour and a half before the border when I had to stop and sleep. The next day I reentered Canada, with a stern talking to about leaving by the 13th. I was exhausted by all the driving I had done the last few days so I stopped early and visited the hot springs again. Since I had extra daylight I went on a quick bike ride, gathered some firewood and actually set up the camp fully. I also got a curious visitor that night. After the sun had set, a Canadian fox started sniffing around the camp. I didn’t have any food out, but foxes are clever and he had to check. I had to chase him away a few times, but I really wanted to pet him. HE LOOKED SO FLUFFY!!!!

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That pretty much brings us to this morning. I packed everything up, refilled my water jug and headed back down to Dease Lake. This time, however I encountered another little critter. A fat black bear was just chilling in the middle of the road about a 1/4 mile away from the secret campsite Kiko and I stayed at last time, so I decided it would probably be safer to just pay to camp and surround myself with other folks. Also, the campsite had wifi, which is nice. I got in early enough today to get some more exercise so I went for a run next to the lake, which in retrospect seems stupid as the lake was deserted and the black bears close, but luckily I didn’t encounter Yogi again. I even managed to pull a Becca and go for a quick skinny dip after to cool off and “shower” off. So that brings us to now, and then I don’t know what happened. Stay tuned till next time campers!

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Boki


1 Comment »

  1. I really love reading these stories. It’s relaxing and the pics are beautiful. That’s so cool you swam with a Seal. Nice ass ;p

    » September 27, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

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