Alaska Adventure Part 5: Alaska!!

Alaska Adventure Part 5: Alaska!!

There is no U.S. border guard at Hyder. The town’s only road is dirt – or at least it was during our stay, they sadly paved the streets a few weeks after our visit. We crossed into Alaska with little fanfare. I think there was such a build-up that Nate was somewhat underwhelmed:

“This place is a shithole.”

Hyder is a town of 87, known as the easternmost point in Alaska and the southernmost point that is accessible by road. The later point is what makes Hyder a favorite stop for motorcyclists and road-trippers. We quickly overcame our excitement on crossing the border and got down to business. We would not be able to camp in Hyder due to the active bear population. I read one story in which a black bear walked right through the front door of the bar. Guess he needed a drink. So did we.

We made our list: hotel, food, alcohol. As we typically do when we arrive in a new spot, we took a ride through town to scope out the scene. We booked a room at the Sealaska Inn and made our way to The Bus, a restaurant known for its fish and chips. We waited while the owner made our dinner from scratch, including the batter and tartar sauce. And by God it is worth the wait. The fish was caught the previous day by the owner’s husband, who sat with us telling stories of fishing and being out on the water. He made our “little adventure” to Alaska seem like a trip to the grocery store. At this point a bear lumbered by the bus and ducked into the neighbors yard. Nate was starting to realize what Hyder was all about.

Step 3: Alcohol. Hyder has an interesting tradition for riders passing through. Getting “Hyderized” involves taking three consecutive shots of local grain alcohol and making it out the door on your own two feet. Never one to back down to a drinking challenge, we handled the evening in stride. Nate spent most of the night talking with a local who had owned a Triumph in the 1970’s. “I knew those were Triumph twins as soon as you rode into town.” The man spoke of his youth riding, and was happy to see a group of guys like himself keeping the spirit alive. We would later wake to find our bikes covered with souvenirs from the local: 3 Alaskan license plates, vintage Triumph tank badges, and patches. We were honored that this man would take interest in our bikes and our adventure.

Mr. Old Fashioned had another rough morning. We let Nate sleep in and recuperate while Fez and I did some exploring around Hyder. We heard there was a good amount of bear activity down by the town dump, so we set off in search of some cuddly fellas. There was no bear sightings, but the views at the mouth of the Salmon River took our breath away. We rode our bikes right out to the edge of the water and took a few photos. We stood for a few minutes, just letting the scale and isolation of the landscape flow through us. There are certain moments I know I will never forget. Moments when I am free of all the bullshit distractions that normally isolate us within our own human-made society. Moments that I can appreciate the greater world we are privileged to experience. These moments fuel my passion for riding and my spirit of adventure. This was one of those moments.

Triumph Alaska

Packed up and (somewhat) sober. We had breakfast and walked across the street to a cute gift shop to pick up some souvenirs. The owner of this shop, a middle-aged woman welcomed us with a smile as soon as we walked in. We spent the next 30 minutes chatting with the owner and picking out a few treasures. We met her cat Joe, a huge Maine Coon that we mistook for a stuffed animal, held a walrus penis, and enjoyed a song serenaded by the woman on her Appalachian dulcimer. It was now time to get on the road, and I found myself getting emotional at the realization we would shortly be leaving Hyder. Everyone we met in this town was unbelievably nice. I was surprised to find that many residents of Hyder came from all over the U.S. Everyone had their own story that brought them to Hyder. I wondered if I would ever become one of those stories.

As we left the town, we did a proper photo-shoot at the border. Just a few short weeks after our trip they would pave the single road through Hyder, and it seemed sad to disrupt anything in such a perfect place. As we reviewed our camera shots, we turned around to see three bears, a mama and two cubs, crossing the street behind us. A fitting end to entirely too short of a stay in Alaska. Good thing the Canadian border guard did not have a breathalyzer, I’m not sure Nate would have been able to pass through given his night – and that is how BA Moto does Alaska.



Continue Reading The Alaska Adventure

Part 6: The Merry Ferry