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Trapped in Tok


We awoke to a lot more smoke in the air than the evening before. It was thick enough for us to dig out bandannas in case it got bad. We figured we could dampen them up and breathe through them while getting through the area, if it was really bothersome.

Image of two motorcycles stopped on the road in front of a road sign warning of wildfires

We had already passed one large fire yesterday, we were going to pass three more today. The one by Tetlin Junction being the larger one today.

We ate breakfast at Fast Eddies, and filled up the tanks with gas. We ran into Bjoern and Sigrid, an Australian couple that have been traveling the world since last April. They flew into the US and purchased used bikes and have pretty much covered North, Central, and South America. They were headed up to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

Image of Sigrid, Bjoern, and Michael at a gas station standing in front of two motorcycles

Sigrid and Bjoern, Michael

We spent some time chatting with them and talking about the road. They were excited because after hitting Alaska, they would have covered everything on their bucket list. Check out their blog at: Pan American Highway – http://bikers.readmyblog.org/

We drove out of Tok with excitement (and forest fire smoke) in the air. We headed towards the Tetlin Junction, smoke on the horizon.

Image of trees with a dark smoke cloud in the background

Smoke in the air

We were able to get though the junction without any problems and found ourselves, finally, on the Taylor Highway. We were excited that the trip was finally starting. The plan was to make it across the border into Canada and stay the night in Dawson. We turned the corner and saw emergency vehicles in the road. Road Closed. 

Image of motorcycle on the road behind several cars that are stopped due to a road closure

Taylor was a no go today.

We came to a stop and the trooper told us the road would be closed for 8-10 hours. The Canada crossing closes at 8 pm, so we realized we were not going to be able to make it. We got a good look at the accident. It made both of us sick.

A motorcycle was lodged under a 40 foot motorhome. It was obvious the motorhome had run over the bike and dragged it a bit. Later we learned it was a fatality. We turned back to Tok. With that kind of wait, in the smoke, it was best to seek shelter. We were hoping at the time, that we could salvage part of the day by heading over the road into Chicken when they re-opened the road. We figured if we camped in Chicken, it would be almost 80 miles less to do in the morning. The road ended up staying closed until 10 pm.

By the time we got back to the Alaska Highway, the troopers had already put up closed signs on the Taylor. We met up with three riders that wanted to know what was going on. We filled them in and invited them to have lunch with us. None of us were going anywhere.

Image of Mike, Aad, and Jeanette sitting at a breakfast table and posing for the picture

Mike, Aad and Jeanette

Jeanette, Mike and Aad are a family that have been living a nomadic lifestyle for nine years. The first part of their journey started by bus and the last four years they have been traveling by motorcycles. The son is now 17 years old and on his own motorcycle (do the math). The kid has been on the road for half of his life. They are schooling him along the way; he recently graduated from high school. These folks had just come down from Prudhoe Bay, and were on their way back to the lower 48. We hung out with them for four hours listening to their Venezuela tales. They were originally from Tasmania, but are heading to Holland to settle down for a short stint. We made plans to visit them. They are traveling in simplicity; no blogs, no phones, no computers, but they are thinking about writing a book.

Our hearts are heavy tonight, for the motorcyclist that lost his life today doing what he loved. Tomorrow we will take another shot at the Top of the World.

Image of 5 motorcycles parked

Stuck in Tok waiting out a road closure.

Barbie does Chicken
North to Inuvik - Again
About Maya

My name is Maya, and I wander.

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