Denali to Anchorage: Back in one piece… just.


We got dropped off at the Wilderness Access Centre around 7pm, where we were thankfully reunited with our bikes, and our freedom. What I still didn’t have, however, were lights. With the sun due to set soon, Ed set about finding the problem, while I set about making us dinner. Bellies full and lights re-instated, we finally hit the road.


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We didn’t plan on going far, we just wanted to find somewhere free to camp. Unfortunately this was a harder task than expected. Being near the the Denali tourist area, camping along the roadside is banned. You could of course just do it anyway, but the areas aren’t exactly hidden and you’d no doubt be woken up way before you wanted to be. We found one spot down the bottom of a slope, but after Ed went to investigate and found himself chin high in grass, we decided to keep going.


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At least we’d be hidden!


About 30 miles away from the park we finally found somewhere, a patch of gravel on a side road. Good a place as any! We put the tent up, stashed our food over the road, and went to sleep. In the early hours of the morning I inevitably woke up needing a wee. I was just rolling over to unzip the inner fly of the tent, when I suddenly heard a loud grunting sound. I froze. My heart raced, my hairs stood on end, and I was scared to move a muscle. I then heard what I thought was hooves or paws walking around on the gravel. I’m not going to lie, I was terrified. Was it a bear? Was it a moose? Or had it just been Ed randomly snoring and the sides of the unpegged tent blowing in the wind? I didn’t know, and I wasn’t going to go and find out. Mainly in fear that if it was a bear or a moose, I’d probably wet myself. I somehow managed to fall back to sleep and woke again when it was light, at which point I couldn’t hold on any more. With light on my side, bear spray in hand, and no choice in the matter, I slowly ventured outside. There was no bear, no moose, and my underwear thankfully remained dry.


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A perfect spot, despite the night-time visitor.


Before we’d even left England, I’d been in touch with a guy called Brandon on Horizons Unlimited. He lived with his family in Wasilla, just north of Anchorage, and had kindly offered us a place to stay. It was about 170 miles from where we were so we could get there in a day. It was also his daughter Chloe’s birthday, so he’d said we were more than welcome to come over and share some cake with them. Being an avid fan of meeting new people, and cake, I was very much looking forward to it.

It was a fairly average ride, with an average road and average scenery. We were quite happily riding along when I heard a siren. Was that wind? Was it in the background of the song I was listening to? I turned round and discovered that it wasn’t either of those things, it was a police car with its lights flashing, pulling us over. I don’t know why, but even if you haven’t done anything wrong you instantly feel guilty. Guilty conscience perhaps? Or maybe knowing full well that our bikes weren’t exactly at their best. What could it be? Ed’s bike pumping out plumes of smoke? Our missing mirrors? Ed’s missing indicators? My left indicator smashed and hanging on by a thread? Ed’s rear light and my headlight not working? Or maybe the excessive use of duct tape? A now structural part of Ed’s motorcycle. But no, amazingly it wasn’t because of any of those things. He’d pulled us over because we were going too slow. Too slow?! We’ve just been pulled over for going too slow?! Haha Whatever next. We apologised and explained that Ed’s piston rings were busted so we couldn’t go any faster. The policeman was very nice about it, he just didn’t want us getting run over, probably too much paperwork. It was also labour day weekend so the roads were really busy, he didn’t want us holding people up and pissing everyone off. Fair enough. I wanted to get a photo but I was aware that the longer he spent looking at the bikes, the more chance there was of him spotting everything that was wrong with them. He hadn’t noticed anything yet, or just wasn’t that bothered, and I wanted to keep it that way. He then told us that if we have more than 5 vehicles behind us, by law we have to pull over and let them pass. We subsequently spent the rest of the journey on the hard shoulder.

So apart from going too slow and pissing everyone off, it was a fairly uneventful ride. But it was pleasant all the same, due to nice sunny weather, and we did see some amusing signs…


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Family firearms fun?!

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If only we had a dog…


We finally arrived at our destination around 6pm, where we were greeted by Brandon, his wonderful family, and literally thousands of beer bottles. And no, they weren’t alcoholics. Brandon and his wife Stephanie had started collecting them when they first started dating, about 20 years ago, and no two were the same. They also used to own a beer store in California, so they definitely knew their beer! They were on every wall, in pretty much every room, it was really cool.


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Hundreds of bottles of beer on the wall…

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…hundreds of bottles of beer…

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…you take one down and pass it around…

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… Still hundreds of bottles of beer on the wall!


We were then introduced to their Children; Malcolm, Chloe and Calvin, who we discovered were all very talented and extremely entertaining.


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Chloe, the birthday girl


We also met the extended family; a snake, a bearded dragon, a rabbit, a guinea pig, 2 dogs, and quite possibly the best cat in the world, Clover.


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Just look at that tash!

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It was certainly a full house, and we were made very welcome and felt instantly at home. We were treated to an Asian inspired dinner which was delicious, followed by a very tasty birthday cake, it was a lovely evening. Brandon and Malcolm were going salmon fishing in the morning, and kindly asked us if we’d like to join them. It was on our list of things to do in Alaska and it was a good opportunity to spend more time with them, so we jumped at the chance. Brandon just warned us that it would be an early start. He wasn’t joking. We got a knock on the door at 5.30am, a bit of a shock to the system to say the least! But one thing we’ve discovered is it’s much easier to get up early when you’re in a warm house. A 5.30am start in a tent is a completely different matter. With a kick-start of coffee and bagels, we got in the car and headed off to the river. It was a bit on the chilly side I must admit, I was pleased I took some extra layers. We’d just got everything set up when Brandon realised he’d forgotten one crucial thing, the bait! But all was not lost. With a five dollar note in hand he went off and returned 10 minutes later with even more bait than he’d left at home, winner!


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Brandon and the bait

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Giving us our fishing lesson

We took it in turns, casting, sitting, chatting, when about an hour in to it Ed finally caught a fish! A little silver salmon.


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The 80’s called, they want their hair back…

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Ed and his first ever fish!

He also caught a chair and a lump of wood, which I think probably had more meat on them, but at least he’d caught one, which was more than I could say!


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What is it?!

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Aaaand Ed’s got wood.


He was very chuffed, he’d never been fishing before so it was great that he actually caught something. He now claims to have a 100% success rate. Malcolm also caught a little fish, but he caught it by hand. We think it was on deaths door, it’s not often a fish swims in to your hand, it didn’t exactly put up a fight!


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Malcolm and his bite-size fish


Despite not catching anything, and having numb toes, I really enjoyed it. It was great to hang out with Brandon and Malcolm, and the lesson was handy too. Although there’s a lot of it, salmon is really expensive, so to catch our own would be great. Might need to catch a slightly bigger one next time though!


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We went back and had some tasty homemade pizzas for lunch, very welcome after a cold morning by the river. They were then followed by some very entertaining home movies (not those kind of home movies!) They were really funny and it was great to see them having fun as a family, it was never a dull moment in their house! Brandon told us it was the last day of the Alaska State Fair so we decided to go and check that out for the rest of the afternoon. As Ed’s bike was in a bad way we decided to go two up on my bike, I opted to ride pillion perched on the rear. It wasn’t the most comfortable way to travel, but the vibrations were nice.


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Room for a little one?


Fifteen minutes of uncomfortable pleasure later, we arrived at the fair. First thing’s first, you know you’re in Alaska when people are riding a giant bucking salmon.


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And not many things in life surprise me, but chocolate covered bacon?! And a doughnut burger?! I’ve seen it all now. Of course Ed had to try the doughnut burger, which he said wasn’t as good as he thought it was going to be. No shit!


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There were giant pretzels and massive long tubes of popcorn, all being devoured by children half the size.


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You name it, they did it on a stick


And it was certainly a good place for people watching. A bit like Walmart.


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We’d been there for a few hours and had to get back for dinner, so started to make our way out. As we got to the bike, a man in an awesome top hat and skeleton leathers caught my eye. Just for the record, I love top hats. I had to go and take a photo, he looked brilliant.


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Turned out his name was Mark, he was from Anchorage and had heard about us through the guys at the House of Harley. He also knew Chrissy from Motoquest who we were going to stay with, small world! We chatted for quite a while and took some photos, he annoyingly looked far cooler on my bike than I did. Note to self: Must get top hat.


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We eventually made it back to the Tuckers’ where we had some lovely pasta for dinner, then they watched Ed’s film. I’ve got to be honest I’ve seen it far too many times, but I always like to watch the Everest bit. It’s my favourite piece of videography, pretty much ever, and gives me goosebumps every time. Buy it! πŸ˜‰

We said goodbye to Brandon that night as he had to be up at 4.30am for work, something I certainly didn’t miss doing! He and Stephanie had been brilliant, they had an awesome family and we felt privileged to have met them and spent time with them. They’d welcomed us in to their home and looked after us so well, we couldn’t thank them enough. Hopefully we can return the favour one day.


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The awesome Tucker family


We got up at 8am and Stephanie had kindly made us coffee and muffins. We said goodbye and thank you to her and the kids and then left about two hours later. We later found out that Calvin had gone in to school that day sporting his best British accent, saying what a brilliant weekend he’d had. So funny. I had a particular soft spot for him, especially when I found out he wore a tuxedo to school every other day and had a thing for top hats and capes. Legend.


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The incredibly cool Calvin


We were only about 40 miles from Anchorage, so it didn’t take long to get back, however there was a bit of an accident on the way. Scrat got run over πŸ™


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My hero in action


He flew out my basket, hit and flipped over my helmet, then got run over by a truck and dragged along the road. ‘Nooooooo!’ I yelled in my helmet. I pulled over and looked back in horror, as Ed said ‘I know!’ and went back and rescued him. My hero. It was at that point that I realised I’m nearly 30 and perhaps a little too attached to a cuddly toy.



My mate Scrat


So with Scrat returned back toΒ my basket, weΒ returned back to Anchorage.

Prudhoe Bay mission complete.

18 thoughts on “Denali to Anchorage: Back in one piece… just.

  1. Back to Sunday morning updates, love that start to my day, I also like the wild camp comment ‘would have to get up before we wanted to’ what 11am?

    • haha exactly! πŸ˜€ The clocks have changed here now, someone said the other day ‘well at least you get an extra hour in the morning…’ In the morning?! What use is an extra hour to us in the morning?!?

  2. Malcolm

    When you said its really cold… and then cut to a photo of the State Fair and they’re all in t-shirts… Must be hardy folk up in Alaska!

    This chocolate covered bacon… are we talking streaky bacon, or british bacon πŸ˜€

    • Haha they’re hardy folk indeed! You have to be when dealing with winters as brutal as -50C, brrr!

      As for the bacon, it was streaky! We didn’t try any though as American chocolate is like bad English cooking chocolate! Can you make some with dairy milk with a nice fat English rasher and let me know how you get on?! πŸ˜€

  3. John Goodman

    Trying to keep a map of your trip and looking forward to your next part, where are you heading .All the best Braunton John

    • Hey John, we’re currently working on a map as we speak! We have all the co-ordinates to put in so it will be on my and Ed’s website very soon. We’re currently in Muncho Lake, BC, and heading to Vancouver. We’ll be there in about 2 weeks depending on the ice and snow! Glad you’re still enjoying it. Take care πŸ™‚

  4. Steve and Jackie

    Another thrilling installment that captures you and Eds experiences and channels them to us in a lovely way. Just read the latest episode to my wife while still in bed on a dry, sunny but windy morning in Scotland.
    We felt the tension with the night time visitor and the much needed toilet visit !!! As for the police stop and going too slow… πŸ™‚
    As for Scrat, poor wee mite. Fancy letting him bolt for freedom while out on the road ? Good thing he is tough and you have that knight in shining armour……..well in a m/c jacket and helmet… save the day !

    • Hi Steve and Jackie! Very much enjoyed reading your comment, made me smile. Pleased to hear you’re enjoying it and it’s keeping you both entertained! And yes I’m very lucky to have Ed, if it wasn’t for him I’d probably still be stuck halfway up the Dalton! haha

  5. Stace

    Everest bit always gives me goosebumps too…..
    Really enjoying you updates and following your journey. Thanks Rach. You and Ed stay safe x

    • Thanks Stace! Lovely to hear from you, hope all’s well. We’re having a great time, pleased we get to share it with you! πŸ™‚

  6. bradley timm

    Very entertaining, as usual. Just wish it was longer…as I get totaly absorbed. safe travels!

    • Haha great to hear. Made me laugh though as I’ve been trying to make them shorter! Thought over 8000 words was a bit much for a blog, I get a bit type happy! Hopefully I’ll find a happy medium to please everyone. All the best!

  7. Jimmy Whalley

    What on earth has Scrat got between his paws, or is he just a big boy? I’m enjoying the trip and the photo’s, keep up the good work and mind them anticlockwise roundabouts, weird things.

    • haha we wish there were more of them! I can’t tell you how many times Ed and I have got stuck going round a fecking one way system shouting in our helmets ‘I JUST WANT A ROUNDABOUT!!’ Problem is they don’t seem to know how to use them here, it’ll be completely empty and people just sit there! And yes, scrat is rather well endowed πŸ˜‰

  8. SuperClunk awesomeness πŸ™‚

  9. Chris

    Still having fun i see. You should totally get a top hat it would be great. Keep up the good stuff and I will sit here patiently for your next update

    • Yes lots of fun as always! I think I will get a top hat, a nice shiny purple one to match my cape! (might sound strange but it was a festival find I’ve become rather fond of! ) Think I’ll wait til summer though, don’t think a top hat is very practical in the winter haha In the meantime I’ll try and find a mini one for 90 πŸ˜‰

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