Homer - Glennallen

Trip Start Jun 28, 2008
Trip End Jul 19, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Thursday, July 10, 2008

Miles: 485
Weather: Cool, Mostly Cloudy

We didn't start out intending to travel 485 miles.  Our plan was to depart Homer, stop at Portage Glacier and spend the night in Palmer just north of Anchorage. 

We started out as planned - we departed Homer at 0845.  The ride back up the Kenai was great.  Alex spotted a cow moose with two calves running along side the rode.  They were really moving out.  Moose count so far: 5.  

We stopped for a break at the Seward/Homer intersection on the Seward Hwy and then headed to Portage Glacier.  We arrived at the Glacier Cruise dock just in time to jump on the tour boat.  The tour boat took us up Portage Lake around the 'corner' to the glacier.  The Portage Glacier has receded back to where it is not visible from the visitor center or road.  Apparently this is normal and the glacier's recession is actually below average.  Anyhow, Portage Glacier is cool literally and figuratively.  As we approached, I was impressed with it's size.   Not only is the face of the glacier large but it extends up and back I would assume for miles.  Portage glacier certainly doesn't look static.  It's shape lends itself to movement - 50' a year I think.  There are thousands of glaciers in Alaska most un-named.  Later in the day, Alex and I would see another even larger glacier the Matanuska Glacier.

After we disembarked, it was time to eat so I decided to head to Whitter ten miles down the road and through the mountain.  Actually, I wanted to ride through the Anton-Anderson Memorial Tunnel.  Not an easy feat since the tunnel is a 2.5 mile long railroad tunnel that is always cold and wet.   But if you want to visit Whitter you either go through the tunnel or fly or take the ferry.  So we staged with two other motorcyclists we had previously met a week earlier at Dawson Creek BC mile 0 ALCAN.  We got the green light headed through.  No problem but I could see why bikes going down in the tunnel is common.  The ride requires concentration in order to stay between the railroad tracks.  If a rider veers off-center and drops the front tire into one of the slots with a track its over, they  are going down.  As if the tracks weren't enough to worry about, there are the other distractions (dripping water, dark, narrow, giant fans).  Motorcycles are the last vehicles to enter the tunnel - 1.5 min. behind other traffic.  

As I said the tunnel was no problem either way for Alex and I.  Whitter is a neat little town.  It's slow=paced, isolated with plenty to do (great fishing, hiking, and especially kayaking).  We had a quick lunch by the water and headed back towards Anchorage/Palmer.  The ride to Anchorage was quick until we got in to Anchorage - traffic.

The traffic in Anchorage is bad.  It was stop and go for almost an hour.  When we finally emerged I cranked on the throttle and headed to Palmer ultimately for no reason.

Palmer ain't much. We didn't even stop.  We pressed on after turning on to AK 1 the Glenn Hwy.  It felt good to hit the Glenn because we had made our turn back towards the east and we were on our way home.  Our 'new' plan was to keep riding looking for a place to spend the night.  What we didn't anticipate was the absolute beauty afforded by the Glenn Hwy.  We climbed to about 3500' where were provided mile after mile of spectacular views of the Chugach Mountains, the Matanuska Glacier and Mat-su River.  We thought the Portage Glacier was big but from our vantage point on the Glenn Hwy, we could see the Matanuska Glacier extending back through the Chugach Mountains seemingly forever.  the Matanuska Glacier is huge!  In addition to the scenery,  the Chugach area seems to be game rich.  Every home/cabin we passed usually had several moose and caribou racks (antlers) mounted above doorways etc.  The whole ride was unbelievable.  It was easy for us 'to keep going' and rack up 485 miles.

We rolled in to Glennallen at 2100 tired but satisfied.  We just completed a very rewarding day of riding.  We pulled in to the Caribou Hotel got a room (pricey but what do you do).  I got a 10% military discount which helped ease the pain AND  they let me park the Harley next to the front door under the cabana.

Tomorrow is an easy 142 miles to Tok and back to Thompson's Eagle Claw for the night.
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