In 1977, after 30 years of riding primarily enduro competition, I got the urge to buy a road machine and head for Alaska to fulfill a lifelong dream. I had done very little camping in my lifetime but I also bought a tent, sleeping bag, camp stove and a few other essentials. The longest trip I had ever taken on a bike was to Washington, DC, a total roundtrip distance of about 550 miles that I took with my wife Lillian in 1948 on my first Harley, a 1947 74 “Knucklehead.”
I traveled alone on this Alaska trip with a new 1977 Suzuki GS750 that I planned to break in during the first few days of the trip. On my way to Alaska I planned to visit the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and also with my daughter Donna who was stationed at Beale AFB, north of Sacramento. The trip totaled 12, 741 miles in 27 days. It turned out to be an unforgettable experience, the details of which are in my book, “Motorcycling Stories – Adventure Touring from the Northwest Territories to the Yucatan Peninsula.” I carried a tiny 110 Kodak camera and originally had slides made from the film that I converted to computer files a few years ago. I uploaded the best of those conversions and posted them below. Click on the photos to enlarge them.
Entrance to Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
The first night of camping - inside Mesa Verde National Park
Cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde
US 550 in western Colorado, between Durango and Ouray - a very beautiful ride.
Scene along US 550 in southwestern Colorado
Along US 550 near Red Mountain in Colorado
I had passed a sign many miles back that said, "Danger - Do not enter this area without a guide." A few times I feared that I had gotten lost.
Monument Valley, Utah
South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Scenes along the rim of the Grand Canyon
Panning for gold along California Rte 49
Mount Shasta, California
Kitwanga, Britich Columbia - start of the Cassiar Highway
Much of the first 92 miles between Kitwanga and Meziadin Lake Junction was under heavy construction. A few of those construction sites had freshly-leveled sections with soft dirt that was difficult to ride through, especially due to the way I had the bike loaded with too much weight over the rear wheel.
There were dozens of narrow one-lane wood-plank bridges over the many rivers and streams. The wooden side rails were quite close on most and I usually had to slow down before hitting the planks to make sure there weren't loose stones that would throw me too far off course.A few times I came very close to side-swiping the wooden rails.
The forest was very close to the edge of the narrow road in some places.
The longest of the single-lane wood-plank bridges spanned the Nass River just before reaching Meziadin Lake Junction, BC, which was the junction with the Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK Access Road.
BC Timber Sales was harvesting lumber in the area and the huge 18-wheel logging trucks had the right-of-way on the narrow road. One of those trucks ran me off the road into the ditch at one point. He never even slowed down.
The next "anything" leaving Meziadin Lake Junction was 161 miles as the road passed through a beautiful valley between the Skeena Mountains and the Coastal Range. The next services were at Iskut, a very small, mostly aboriginal community in the Stikine Country of northwestern British Columbia where I came across a small co-op store with a gas pump outside.
The remnants of a forest fire
A glacier in the distance
The coastal range
Threatening sky along the Alaska Highway
Lake Kluane in the Yukon Territory
Dawson City, YT from the Top of the World Road
Downtown Dawson City, second largest city in the Yukon Territory. There wasn't a paved road in the entire town.
Theater in Dawson City
Waiting for the ferry to take me across the Yukon River
Abandoned way-station along the Top of the World Road
On the cross was, "The Mad Trapper - the end of his Trap Line."
The widening of the road ahead was called Boundary, AK
Action Jackson's place at Boundary, AK. There was a gas pump outside.
Looking back at Boundary, AK
Jack Wade Gold Dredge in Bonanza Creek
Near Chicken, AK
Alaska Pipeline near Fairbanks, AK
This is where I stayed in Fairbanks
Downtown Fairbanks in 1977
Athabasca Falls in Jasper Park, Alberta