Sunday, August 15, 2010

Camping at Chena Hot Springs - Part I

My bike just went past 60,000 miles today while I was on my way out of town. Only about 8,000 of those miles are mine but I plan to get plenty more. There is an renewable energy fair at Chena Hot Springs this coming Sunday, so I thought it may be a good opportunity to go early and get in a camping trip with my bike. I came home at 3:00, threw a bunch of gear and food together, loaded the bike and was on the road by 3:30. Not much planning. We'll see how much stuff I've forgotten. Since it is a resort, some services are available such as a restaurant but no supplies. It is only around 70 miles to the end of Chena Hot Springs Road but the brush isn't cut back very far so moose are a real threat. I only saw one on the way but it was in a pond. Chena Hot Springs is one of my favorite destinations in Alaska.

This is the first time I've gone camping on the bike. I have a top-loading dry bag from canoe trips, a H2W (Helen-Twowheels) dry-duffle and a camping chair tied on the back using Rok Straps. One pannier has clothes and the liners for my riding gear and the other has shoes, stove, cooking stuff and food. The dry-duffle has my tent, sleeping pad, ground cloth and rain gear. I don't think this is a good way to distribute stuff since the dry-duffle has things that could get or be wet. The panniers are only about half full, the tank bag only has water, some canned drinks and my medicine. The front glove boxes only have the normal paperwork and some tools. Need to give this packing some more thought.

The tent campground is almost empty while the RV one is packed just as most of the other campgrounds we stayed at during our road trip. The ground was really soft at my campsite and it took a bit of looking (and a nice flat rock) to find ground solid enough that the sidestand didn't sink in. Plus, since this camping area is new, the roads either deep gravel or soft dirt. The round buildings scattered throughout the campground in the picture are yurts that are available for rent. Kind of like dry cabins.

I've been looking for an opportunity to camp with the bike and have been accumulating stuff over the last year. The Kelty Teton 2 tent got plenty of use during our road trip this summer, and I used the H2W dry-duffle as my suitcase. I was planning on picking up the camp chair that recommended at the REI in Bend last month but forgot. The Rok Straps come highly recommended by many and they do seem to work really well. Much of the rest I've had from my camping, bicycle touring, backpacking and climbing days. The bike came with Kathy's Journey Designs pannier liners that looked brand new. My old MSR GK multi-fuel expedition stove still works great and the REI thermorest clone is still very comfy. Even the 30 year old Camp7 sleeping bag is still in decent shape after having been used on literally hundreds of trips. I couldn't find my cooking stuff so I took a small pot from our car-camping stash. One of my meds is kind of a hassle since it needs to be kept cold (but not frozen) so I'm using a 0.5 liter thermos with 3 ice cubes. That is sufficient for about 24 hours.

Avon Distanzia
Thinking about the soft dirt and gravel reminded me of my search for more appropriate tires for my R100RT airhead. I am looking for a dual sport type of tire maybe 70/30 street/dirt since we have a lot of gravel roads up here worth exploring. I know that the RT is far from the ideal for dirt and gravel roads. Last month while in Ross River, I talked to a gentleman from northeastern Canada on on old G/S, and he mentioned that he has riden up to Prudhoe and Inuvik on his 84 R100RT several times in the past 20 years without any problems. Shawn at Adventure Cycleworks did some digging and found that Avon Distanzia come in the correct size but then discovered that they don't import that size into the U.S. any more. The front is no problem since it is the same size as the F650GS but the rear is an uncommon size for dual sport tires. (4.00-18) Both Avon and Heidenau have 110/80-18 but he said that the diameter may be around 11mm smaller. Maybe that's not enough to worry about. But then again, the bike sits pretty vertical when on the side stand. If anyone has some thoughts, let me know.

Rock Lake at CHSR
Chena Hot Springs Resort now runs completely on geothermal power using a system that the resort engineered themselves. They not only produce all of the electricity for the resort but also for greenhouses and an ice hotel. The greenhouse supplies fresh vegetables for the restaurant year around and they can keep their ice hotel frozen throughout the summer. Tomorrow, I signed up for a geothermal tour. Should be interesting.

Ice Skating Pond
This is the ice skating pond located just outside of the pool building. It has been taken over by a bunch of ducks. There is a nice herb garden planted along one side of the pond and nice seating along the other side.

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