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Offline Acadian Rider

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Alaska 2018
« on: October 20, 2018, 01:03:24 PM »
TRIP BACKGROUND

In recent years Paul and I had been talking about an Alaska trip but we didn’t have the proper bikes for such a trip as it would entail riding on dirt / gravel roads for at least some of the trip depending on our itinerary. So, last year after having been a sport-tourer for a number of years I decided to go with a brand new Yamaha Super Ténéré ES (Electronic Suspension) often referred to as the S10 and traded in my 2013 BMW R1200RT. The S10 would be a good highway bike that can handle dirt and gravel roads other than single track roads. Paul went and bought a Suzuki VStrom 650 also considered an adventure-touring bike albeit a lighter one than my S10. The plan all along was for us to do the Trans Labrador Hwy as a practice run last year before the big Alaska trip this year but that never happened. 

Paul and I had done a number of bike trips, with or without other friends. My biggest trip with Paul until this Alaska trip was a 39 day trip to California and back from Moncton NB in 2014 at a time when I was still working and Paul had just retired. This trip would be longer but we were now both retired. Work therefore was not a limiting factor but we both had loving wives and family including grandkids that we had to think about. In fact, my son and daughter in law were expecting another baby during this trip. 

ACCOMMODATIONS

During all of our previous trips we stayed in motels / hotels. When planning for this one, we talked about the possibility of getting stuck somewhere without a roof over our heads for certain nights given our proposed itinerary. Furthermore hotels / motels would be pricy especially in Alaska and the North in general. So, at 62 I went and bought new quality camping equipment to bring along. It had been more than 20 years since I had last slept in a tent. With the money spent, I now had no choice but to tent to pay for that equipment. Paul on the other hand borrowed some equipment from his son in law.     

BIKE PROTECTION

Given the fact that we would be riding dirt / gravel roads with some of them sprayed with calcium chloride such as the Dempster, we had to prepare the bikes accordingly. In 2017 I bought the ALTRider Crash Bars and the SW Motech Skid Plate when I got the bike. Before this trip I got the “Shock Sox” brand of fork seal covers to protect the fork seals from the dirt and calcium chloride and I bought protection from flying rocks for the headlights. I had no need to protect the radiator because it is hidden sideways in the fairing where it is protected from flying rocks on the S10. Paul did get protection for his radiator but none for his fork seals or headlights. It turned out that he should have had some protection for his fork seals. Mine were fine the whole way. Both of his eventually gave out. 

ROUTE

A stated objective for this trip was to make it to Tuktoyaktuk NWT and the Arctic Ocean. Read on to find out if we made it. 

The following shows what I had programmed in my GPS with Garmin’s Basecamp before our departure date. As you will see, we mostly stuck to the plan with a few changes.

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Garmin Route as shown prior to departure

LUGGAGE & FUEL

For this trip I bought one extra dry bag to carry the camping equipment and a one gallon Rotopax container to carry extra fuel. Two weeks before departure day I practised packing and this is what the bike looked like: 

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I can’t believe how clean it was before the trip.

INCIDENTS

During our previous trips we never had any incidents to talk about. I did have a rear tire puncture on two separate trips but on both occasions we were able to insert a plug in it and away I went. This trip would be different starting with Paul going down more than once and me getting hit by a drunk driver. The fact that I am writing this ride report after the fact means that I am still alive but you will have to read on to see how I fared with the drunk driver. 

PICTURES

I want to say at the outset that I did not edit or photoshop any of the pictures. What I am posting here is what our cameras gave us at the automatic settings. Most of the pictures are mine. A few are Paul’s and when they are I acknowledged that fact. I had a Canon PowerShot SX710HS and Paul had a Samsung smart phone.

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2018, 01:10:38 PM »
RIDE REPORT

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Day 1 - 8


Day 1 (June 1, 2018)
Moncton NB – Drummondville QC
840 km (522 miles)



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Day 1


We had decided to leave at 7:00AM on the first day from a meeting point just up the road so as to get a good distance in.

On the previous night I had mostly packed everything and as usual I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep. Consequently my brain wasn’t completely in gear when I loaded everything on the bike that I had on the side stand. When I put the second dry bag on the bike it decided to take a nap on the opposite side of the side stand. Susan came to my rescue and we took off everything that we could before getting the bike up again. There was no apparent damage. As a consequence I was a little late meeting Paul at our meeting point but he was late also. We left at 7:30AM.

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Starting km


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Away I went from my home


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And away Paul went from his home (Paul’s picture)


We had decided to go on the Renous Highway (Rte 108) which is a remote route that sees a lot of logging trucks and therefore can be rough in spots. On the other hand you often see wildlife on it. It turns out that some sections were indeed rough and we did see a moose and a black bear that I scared away.

Just before we got to Edmundston NB I looked in my mirrors and there was no Paul. I stopped and waited for a few minutes and decided to turn back to see where he was. He had run out of gas approximately a mile back and was in the process of removing his own Rotopax container to put some fuel in his bike. He had not told me when we left that his bike wasn’t full of gas. O.K., now I could breath. Nothing serious had happened and Paul now knew how far he could get when his low fuel light started flashing. 

After we finished lunch in Edmundston we decided to put our rain gear on since it was looking like rain was coming. Everybody that has ever ridden a motorcycle will attest to the fact that as soon as you put your rain gear on, the menacing clouds go away and that is exactly what happened. Maybe 40 minutes after when we were passing by Notre-Dame-Du-Lac in QC we stopped to take our rain gear off because it was unusually hot and the rain never came. We pulled over and again my bike decided to take a nap on the opposite side of the side stand.  This time the right pannier (saddle bag) got wedged between the rear wheel and the bottom mount of the bag but Paul and I were able to get it off and back on with no apparent damage. My brain now kicked into gear as I realised that because of the added weight on the back of the bike I had to give the suspension more preload to jack it up and by the same token shortening the side stand. This is easy to do when you have an electronic suspension. That did the trick because it never happened again during the trip. Lesson learned.   

The rest of day 1 was uneventful except that we got a little bit of rain once on Hwy 20 but it wasn’t enough to stop and put of rain gear on. 

We stopped in Drummondville QC which is about one hour East of Montréal for the night and got a room at the Motel Blanchet just off the highway. 

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Our first of many suppers. This one at a St-Hubert in Drummondville QC 


Day 2 (June 2)
Drummondville QC – Sturgeon Falls ON
753 km (467 miles)



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Day 2


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Packing up on morning of day 2 at Motel Blanchet in Drummondville QC (Paul’s Picture)


There were no incidents on a nice and sunny second day after my two tipovers of the first day. We bypassed Montréal on Hwy 30 which is a quick and easy way of doing it compared to the old days. After that we stayed on the Trans Canada Highway (TCH).

We had planned to stop in North Bay ON for the night but because the weather was so nice we decided to try tenting to get our feet wet so to speak and went a little bit farther to a KOA campground just outside Sturgeon Falls ON.   

We were the only tents in the campground. It got cool over night but my -7°C (19°F) rated sleeping bag worked like it was supposed to and I was kept warm.

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Our first tenting experience of the trip just outside Sturgeon Falls ON 


Day 3 (June 3)
Sturgeon Falls ON – Batchawana Bay ON
476 km (295 miles)



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Day 3

It took us a while to have everything packed and ready to go in the morning because it was our first time camping the night before. It was past 9:00AM by the time we got going. We would get better at it during the trip.

We stayed on the TCH 17 all day and made a stop in Sudbury for the obligatory photo op of the Big Nickel. 

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The bikes by the Big Nickel in Sudbury ON.


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Had to wait a while to get a picture with nobody else in it.

Further along Hwy 17 we came across churchgoers that were going home after Church.

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Going home from Church


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About one hour west of Sudbury it started raining and it rained on and off for the rest of the day. 

We stopped in Sault Ste Marie for a bite to eat and when we took off again Paul passed me so as to pull over because he had forgotten to attach his helmet. As he pulled over in a wet parking lot of a business there was just enough dirt on it that in a split second he lost his front wheel and went down sliding on his right side. When he and the bike finally stopped sliding, his right foot was stuck under the bike and he couldn’t get up but he wasn’t complaining that it hurt. I immediately went to action to get the bike off his leg / foot. There did not appear to be any injuries to Paul or damage to his bike except that you could tell that the right side of it went for a slide.

Moving along on Hwy 17 when we got to Batchawana Bay Provincial Park at the height of the Voyageur Lodge and Cookhouse the road was closed to traffic. The line up was getting longer and longer and nobody was able to tell us how long it would take. The only thing we knew is that there had been a serious accident somewhere beyond that point and they were cleaning up the mess.

It was now around 5:00 PM and after waiting for a few minutes and not knowing when the road was going to be opened again we decided to go in the motel (Voyageur’s Lodge and Cookhouse) that was right there to see if they had rooms available for the night. They had rooms and we called it a day.

Being a runner, I had committed before the start of the trip to doing the occasional run and the early stop allowed me to go for one of 11.25 km (7.00 mile).


Day 4 (June 4)
Batchawana Bay ON – Thunder Bay ON
650 km (404 miles)



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Day 4


Day four proved to be a wet, cold and miserable day. It did turn nicer when we got to Thunder Bay ON at the end of the day. We stayed on the TCH 17 all day where traffic was light until we got to Thunder Bay but the 90 km speed limit was a bit of a pain.

Our first stop of the day was just outside Wawa ON where everybody stops to take a picture of the big Canada goose. Following tradition, Paul and I stopped for the obligatory photo op. 

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Canada goose in Wawa ON


Thunder Bay ON is where Terry Fox was forced to end his Marathon of Hope back in 1980 on account of his cancer coming back. A memorial was built not far from where he stopped.

Terry Fox is truly a Canadian Hero. Google him up if you don’t know who he was. 

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Terry Fox Memorial in Thunder Bay ON

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2018, 01:26:08 PM »

Day 5 (June 5)
Thunder Bay ON – Winnipeg MB
773 km (480 miles)



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Day 5


It was cold in the morning of the fifth day but it warmed up nicely by the time we reached Winnipeg. Strong winds greeted us once we got on the flatlands of MB.
Our first stop in the morning was at the Kakabeca Falls not far from Thunder Bay. Again it was another photo op. They are nice falls but not in the same category as Niagara Falls for example.

You have to pay to park your vehicle there but we were only charged for one vehicle because two motorcycles can park in one spot.   


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Kakabeca Falls


In Winnipeg we had supper with a former co-worker and her husband. Val and I had worked on a project during my working life. I think she was jealous that I am now retired. Ha! Ha! 

I say that we stopped in Winnipeg for the night but technically it was in Headingley which is located on the West side of Winnipeg. I wanted to avoid having to get across Winnipeg in the morning traffic the next day.

We went from the East side of Winnipeg to the West side using the perimeter Hwy which doubles up as the TCH. That section made me really nervous being scared that someone would cut me off.  It is a divided hwy with two lanes going in each direction with traffic lights at some of the intersections but some with no lights. That meant that if you were going east for example and you wanted to exit and go north, you had to cross the path of two lanes of incoming traffic. By the same token, if you were coming from the South you had to cross four lanes of traffic to get to the North side of the road. We were on that Hwy during the 5:00 o’clock rush.   

Here’s what the street view of Google Maps shows for one such intersection: 

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Winnipeg Perimeter Hwy from Google Street View


Day 6 (June 6)
Winnipeg MB – Moose Jaw SK
655 km (407 miles)



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Day 6

The sixth day turned out to be a nice and sunny day.

A lot of people say that riding in the Canadian Prairies is boring. To me they’re not. Riding across them was better than the three days we spent riding the TCH in ON. Seeing the big sky is not something we are used to see in the Maritime Provinces. Obviously, if you are looking for twisty roads you should go somewhere else such as West Virginia for example. 

By the time we got to Moose Jaw SK it was 27°C (80.6°F).

After we checked in our hotel Paul and I went for a run. I went 8 km (5 miles) and Paul turned around a bit before me.


Day 7 (June 7)
Moose Jaw SK – Brooks AB (Tillebrook Provincial Park)
512 km (318 miles)



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Day 7


The first thing we did after having breakfast is to go find the Moose for yet another photo op. We just couldn’t resist. 

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The Moose in Moose Jaw SK (Paul’s Picture)


Riding the prairies means that you see basically no trees. I was quite surprised when we got to the Tillebrook Provincial Park just east of Brooks off the Hwy to see all the trees that we were told were planted to attract people to the park. We couldn’t resist and decided to stop there and set up camp for camping night number two on such a nice day.  We were the only campers in our specific section of the park other than a German couple travelling in their big rig that looked like an armoured vehicle.

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Tillebrook Provincial Park (Paul’s Picture)


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I spy a box of Mac & Cheese (Paul’s Picture)


Day 8 (June 8
Brooks AB (Tillebrook Provincial Park) – Banff AB (Tunnel Mountain Village 1 Campground)
358 km (222 miles)


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Day 8


Day eight was the day we finally hit our first real destination. Now we could really enjoy the scenery and take time to smell the roses. We woke up to a nice sunny day and after packing up we stopped in Brooks for breakfast. We stayed on the TCH until Calgary that we contoured on the North side on Hwy 201. Once in Cochrane AB the scenery got better with the Rocky Mountains in the distance and we stayed on 1A as far as we could before stopping in Canmore for lunch. 

We got to our campsite in the Tunnel Mountain Village 1 Campground just outside Banff in mid-afternoon. That campground is what I call a campground with its 618 camping sites.

After setting up camp we headed to Banff in a shuttle bus to do the tourist thing. The pizza at Athena Pizza hit the spot.   

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Rocky Mountains from Rte 1A between Cochrane AB and Banff AB


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Our camp site in Tunnel Mountain Village 1 Campground in Banff National Park


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Taking the shuttle to Banff


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Banff AB


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Day 9-17


Day 9 (June 9)
Banff AB – Jasper AB
390 km (242 miles)



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Day 9


Day nine was the day that we did the Icefields Parkway. This was the fourth time that I had done it but I don’t think you can ever get tired of it.

A little bit of rain fell before we got up that morning but it stopped just in time to allow us to pack up.

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Obligatory shot of a wildlife crossing on our way to Lake Louise


Our first stop was in Lake Louise where we had breakfast at the Laggan’s Bakery and Deli while the rain was on again. The date square I ate there with my breakfast was one of the tastiest I ever had. 

Yes Lake Louise is full of tourists even in early June but there is a reason for that. Some have said that the view at Moraine Lake is better. We decided to go check it out after taking some pictures of Lake Louise.   

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Lake Louise under the clouds


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Much better Ha! Ha!


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Moraine Lake – Does this beat Lake Louise?


I’ll offer some friendly advice here. Make sure you have enough fuel not to be forced to stop at Saskatchewan River Crossing. You will pay through the nose.

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Those RVs will pay an arm and a leg for their fuel at Saskatchewan River Crossing.    


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Icefields Parkway


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Icefields Parkway


Having enough time to stop and hike to the Athabasca Glacier we did just that but we did not go in the Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre. Judging by the number of tour buses that were parked at the centre, it must have been insane in there. 

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Can you spot the tour buses at the Columbia Icefields Discovery Centre?


The wind was on the chilly side during our hike to the glacier but we were rewarded with nice views.

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Glacier has melted so much that you can’t even see it from the 1982 marker. Sad!


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On the way up to the Athabasca Glacier


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Getting closer to the Athabasca Glacier


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Athabasca Glacier


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View of the parking lot on the walk back to the bikes. The discovery centre can be seen at a distance.


Back on the highway we were treated with views such as in the following picture.

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Icefields Parkway


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Icefields Parkway


We stopped at the Wapiti campground just outside Jasper where we set up camp. That campground had fewer camp sites than the Tunnel Mountain Village 1 Campground in Banff National Park. However, at a reported 362 sites it is still a big campground. Whistlers Campground just across the road from Wapiti advertises 781 sites.

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Stopped for the night in Wapiti Campground in Jasper National Park


That night we went in Jasper for supper.

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2018, 02:09:06 PM »
Day 10 (June 10)
Jasper AB – Grande Prairie AB
439 km (273 km)


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Day 10


We got up to cold rain on day ten and we had to pack our gear and roll up our tents in it. It is not what I call a fun morning.

While planning for this trip I had left it open that we could stop at the Miette Hot Springs on our way out of Jasper National Park. I ditched that plan pretty quickly in the morning. 

We stopped in Hinton AB for breakfast at where else but Tim’s and it was still raining hard when we got there.

After breakfast we got on Rte 40 pointing north where at one point it was halfway between rain and snow. It did stop before we got to Grande Prairie and the temperature rose a little bit but it was still cold. 

I saw a black bear on two occasions that day.

We checked in the Sandman in Grande Prairie for two nights because the following day was the day were getting new tires and fresh oil in our bikes. It would be a day to relax.
 
 
Day 11 (June 11)
Grande Prairie AB
18 km (11 miles)


About two weeks before the trip started, Paul and I had made appointments to get new tires installed in Grande Prairie AB as well as fresh oil and filters. I ordered the Heidenau K60’s which are considered 50/50 off and on road tires from Red Line Powercraft  Paul had ordered from them the Mitas E07+ which are also considered 50/50 off and on road tires as well. It would be interesting to see which set would last longer. It was our hope that they would last for the rest of the trip. 

My appointment was at 8:00AM and they took my bike right away. I was out of there at 10:30AM.

Paul on the other hand had an appointment to install the tires he had purchased from Red Line Powercraft at Top Gear Cycles because the former could not take him in. The latter took his bike in and drove him back to the hotel so that he wouldn’t have to wait at the shop. Once the bike was ready they picked him up at the hotel but that was later in the afternoon. 

While waiting for his bike Paul decided to follow me for a run after I got back to the hotel. We ran on some of the trails that start in the Muskoseepi Park that was very close to the hotel. Paul turned around before me and after I turned around I got lost in the trail system. I ended up running 11.90 km (7.40 miles) when I finally made it back. All was good.   

With new tires and fresh oil we were ready for the dirt and gravel roads coming up in a few days.


Day 12 (June 12)
Grande Prairie AB – Fort Nelson BC
595 km (370 miles)



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Day 12


Day twelve was the day we reached the start of the Alaska Hwy in Dawson Creek BC. Ending in Delta Junction AK and completed in 1942 it is now 2,240 km (1,390 miles) long. Even though we had already done 6,000 km (3,730 miles) to get to that point, both of us felt that seeing mile marker 0 in Dawson Creek BC meant that our real adventure had officially started.

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That section of the Alaska Hwy to Fort Nelson BC was nothing exciting. I saw one black bear and we stopped at the Motel 6 in Fort Nelson for the night.

The biggest news of the day for me was finding out that I was now the proud grandfather of a fourth grandchild and second granddaughter who was born that day. 


Day 13 (June 13)
Fort Nelson BC – Watson Lake YT
536 km (333 miles)


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Day 13


The early rain on day thirteen eventually stopped after we had done approximately 75 km (46 miles) and the scenery got a lot better as we approached and rode around Muncho Lake YT.

Lots of Wildlife was seen that day including probably ten black bears, one brown bear, one moose, many bisons and mountain goats. The bears and bisons were busy munching on the grass along the side of the road. We see the same phenomenon happening where I live in the spring when deer come out of the woods to chew grass in the open fields because there is still snow in the woods and none left in those fields.

I got too close to one mountain goat that jumped out of the ditch and ran across my path.

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I was not as close as it appears   


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Bison busy munching grass and oblivious to anything else around


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Muncho Lake


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Muncho Lake (Paul’s Picture)


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We stopped at the Liard Hot Springs Lodge to get some fuel. I only put enough in it to get me to Watson Lake because they did not have the high octane fuel that my bike needs, As we rolled into Watson Lake the first thing we did was stop for fuel and as I was turning in towards the fuel pumps my bike stalled. I ran out of fuel about ten feet from them. That was a close one but I did have one extra gallon in my Rotopax. 

I had looked at maybe staying at the Air Force Lodge when planning for the trip. It seems to be popular with the riders but when we got in town we decided to go check out the Watson Lake Territorial Campground about 10 km (6 miles) from town on the actual Watson Lake. You have to self-register to stay in that campground that only had pit toilets but was very clean and had some bear proof storage lockers that we used to store food, toothpaste and anything else that could smell good for a bear. We had also seen and used then in Banff and Jasper National Parks. 

It did not take us very long to figure out that the campground was in mosquito territory. Our mosquito nets came in handy.

We met some interesting travellers in this campground as was the case many times on this trip. This time we met a young couple from Australia that had bought an old pick up truck fitted with a camper. We also met a guy from the Czech Republic who had his bike flown over and had just done the Dalton Hwy.

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We made it to the Yukon Territory (YT)     


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Paul hiding under a mosquito net at the Watson Lake Territorial Campground


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Ditto for me


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Actual Watson Lake next to you guessed it the Watson Lake Campground


Day 14 (June 14)
Watson Lake YT – Whitehorse YT
465 km (289 miles)


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Day 14


It started spitting rain as we got up but when we rolled up the tents it wasn’t too bad yet. We then went back in Watson Lake for a nice breakfast at the Tags Restaurant just across the Sign Post Forest that we properly visited afterwards.

I have to say that I was impressed with the Sign Post Forest. I had seen many pictures of it online but it is bigger than I had imagined it to be. Well worth the stop. 

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Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake YT     


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Basically, the riding day afterwards was cold wet and miserable. We did the obligatory stop at the rest area overlooking the Nisutlin River Bridge that crosses into the community of Teslin YT. 

Everything that I read about that bridge and motorcycles is true. The metal grated deck induces your bike to go for a dance. Just don’t fight it and everything will be fine.   

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Nisutlin River Bridge to Teslin YT


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Google Map street view of Nisutlin River Bridge and deck


When we got to Whitehorse YT we stopped to fuel while it was still raining and the lady inside recommended the Days Inn where we went and checked in. The attached restaurant did the trick and we did a little bit of grocery shopping in the Superstore next door.

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2018, 02:16:02 PM »
Day 15 (June 15)
Whitehorse YT – Dawson City YT
543 km (337 miles)



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Day 15

 
Day fifteen was the day we left the Alaska Hwy after having done approximately 1,400 km (870 miles) of its 2,240 km (1,390 miles). We would be riding other sections of that hwy later in the trip. This was a nice sunny and otherwise uneventful day where rode up Hwy 2 to Dawson City YT.

Before leaving for this trip I had made reservations at the Triple JJJ for this day. The plan was to spend one night in Dawson City on June 15, then ride up the Dempster Hwy all the way up to Tuktoyaktuk NWT, a distance of approximately 900 km (560 miles) one way on a dirt/gravel road. We would soak our toes in the Arctic Ocean and then come back down to the Triple JJJ on June 20 for three nights to attend the D2D with all the adventure riders. As you will see, plans do not always work out. 

After checking in the Triple JJJ on day fifteen we went in town for a pizza and then back to the hotel where we mingled with a number of adventure riders that were staying there. 

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On Hwy 2 going to Dawson City (Paul’s Picture)


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Our hotel for the night (Paul’s Picture)


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No such luxuries as paved roads or concrete sidewalks in Dawson City (Paul’s Picture)


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Paul’s Picture


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Pizza joint where we ate


In order to lighten up our bikes, Paul and I left our soft bags at the Triple JJJ with the hope that lighter bikes would help us get to the Arctic Ocean. 


Day 16 (June 16)
Dawson City YT – Eagle Plains YT
418 km (260 miles)


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Day 16


We had come all that way to do the Dempster Hwy and the rain that greeted us in the morning was not going to stop us. It did however put a little damper on our spirits. 

The rain that lasted for the first 75-80 km (45-50 miles) into the Dempster Hwy did not help with the visibility. Paul was having a hard time seeing and following but after he took his glasses off he could see and follow better.

The wet road did not cause any real problems except for the visibility and lower speeds. When it stopped raining we were able to increase the speed as the road became dryer.   

We got to the Eagle Plains motel around 3:00 PM where I had made reservations for the night.

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Dempster Hwy here we come


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Picture taken the next day


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Paul’s Picture


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Our oasis in the wilderness in Eagle Plains YT (Paul’s Picture)


During the evening other riders came in and we heard that the Dempster north of where we were and where we were heading the following day was very slippery in spots.

One guy from California on a big GS told us he turned back as a result.

Two guys from Homer AK showed us pictures that were scary. One of them had to remove his front fender because the mud kept accumulating between his front tire and fender with the result that his front wheel was locking up and he kept going down. That apparently had happened several times before he removed his front fender and covered his radiator with underwear to protect it from the mud and protect his engine from overheating. They had however made it to Tuktoyaktuk and back. 

One couple came in on their separate bikes and he informed me that his significant other had gone down south of where we were because she got in the soft section on the side of the road. She was not hurt. 

I read online about riders having problems in the last portion of the new section between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. That section had opened late in the previous year and had apparently not been built properly.     
Some of those stories I had heard and read online were cause for concern but they were not going to deter me from at least making an attempt to get to Inuvik the following day. I even had made reservations for two nights at the Nova Inn in Inuvik NWT.

The plan was simple. We were to ride to Inuvik the next day, stay at the Nova Inn, ride to Tuktoyaktuk and the Arctic Ocean and back to Inuvik the day after that. 


Day 17 (June 17)
Eagle Plains YT – Arctic Circle YT – Dawson City YT
586 km (364 miles)


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Day 17


The next morning we were greeted by the fairly thick fog. People in the motel restaurant told us that because Eagle Plains is located on higher grounds, the fog was normal and would dissipate quickly once we started to go down in elevation and that is exactly what happened. 

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Fog in the morning in Eagle Plains 


A guy alone on a VStrom got on the road going north just before we did at about 8:30 AM. 

It did not take very long before we hit the first slick section. It definitely caught me by surprise. The guy on the VStrom was up and stopped on it trying to get going. It looked like he had gone down but I wasn’t 100% sure. I didn’t stop to see if he was O.K. because to stop would have probably meant that I was going to go down. 

We reached the Arctic Circle after 50 km (30 miles) and stopped for the photo op. The guy on the VStrom confirmed that he had gone down but wasn’t hurt or anything. His tires were not aggressive enough in my estimation. He turned around at that point.   

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We made it to the Arctic Circle


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Mud on my bike at the Arctic Circle


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View from the Arctic Circle Sign


We continued going north and more slick sections appeared as the road was still wet. In the middle of one of those sections about 30 km (18 miles) north of the Arctic Circle I stopped as there was a fairly big hill to climb. Paul and I had a chat and we both agreed that we had had enough. At that point we decided to turn around and head south to Dawson City YT.

Shortly after turning around Paul disappeared from my rear view mirrors. I turned around to see where he was and he had gone down. He was up by the time I got to him. His front wheel had stopped turning on account of the mud that had accumulated between his front tire and fender. There was no apparent damage to the bike other than a broken mirror and Paul seemed to be fine. He had gone down at a very low speed. 

Cleaning the mud out of the fender took a fairly long time. That stuff was as hard as clay. The calcium chloride they spray on the Dempster is truly evil. 

Once Paul had finished cleaning out the mud from his front fender we took off again. After a little while I lost him in my mirrors once more and I turned around to see if he was O.K. It turned out that he had gone down again for the same reason but this time he was going faster and therefore went down harder. A guy following him in a truck helped him get the bike upright. The fall knocked the wind out of him but otherwise he was fine.  The bike had suffered damages to the fairing on the right hand side. The door of the right pannier (hard saddle bag) that had been ripped off was duct taped back on. 

This time, Paul removed his front fender to clean out the mud and after everything was good to go he installed it back on to protect his radiator.

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Damage to the fairing of Paul’s bike. Picture taken two days later.


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Duct taped right pannier. Picture taken two days later.


After we took off again we made it to Eagle Plains where we stopped to fuel and I cancelled the reservations I had there for June 19 and I called the Nova Inn to cancel there also. 

By the time we got back to Eagle Plains the road was drying up. Had we waited a little bit for the road to dry up in the morning before leaving for the Arctic Circle I believe that we would have made it to Inuvik but the weather forecast was calling for more rain the following day. That forecast played in our decision to turn back. 

After we left Eagle Plains again now going south everything was fine for a while. We were making good progress.

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Somewhere south of Eagle Plains on the Dempster Hwy


At about 250 km (155 miles) south from Eagle Plains Paul disappeared from my mirrors again. I turned around and I found him on the side of the road with his drive chain all curled up. Fortunately the broken chain did not appear to have done any damage when it snapped. The only issue right then was that the bike was stopped in the middle of a curve in an area that was not safe to work on a bike. The tow rope that Paul had brought came to the rescue. After I towed him with the big S10 to a safe place he was able to replace the master link that had snapped with one of the two spares that he had brought.

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Getting ready to tow Paul’s bike


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Paul installing a new master link on his chain


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Safe spot to install the master link on Paul’s chain


The rest of the ride to Dawson City YT was uneventful except that my bike was starting to act up. I had no problems upshifting through the gears but for some unknown reason downshifting was a problem especially when slowing down quickly.

Here’s a couple of shots that I took further south on the Dempster where the visibility had been bad on the previous day when we were going up. 

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Dempster Hwy


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Dempster Hwy


Once we got back to Dawson City YT we went to the Triple JJJ to see if they had rooms available. By that time it was late and they had no rooms left. The young lady at the reception called the Bonanza Gold Motel and they had rooms available. We picked our soft bags that we had left at the Triple JJJ and we checked in the Bonanza Gold Motel.

The reservations that we had at the Triple JJJ for the nights of June 20-22 were cancelled meaning that we would not be attending the D2D. Turning around on the Dempster short of our planned destination of Tuktoyaktuk meant that we were now ahead of schedule by three days and that were not going to wait out the D2D in Dawson City.

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2018, 02:23:03 PM »
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Day 18-27
 
 
Day 18 (June 18)
Dawson City YT – Delta Junction AK
511 km (317 miles)



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Day 18


The first thing I did that morning was to wash my bike with a pressure washer located next to the motel. I tried to get as much of that calcium chloride off the bike as possible. Paul had done the same on the previous night.

After breakfast we rode up to the Midnight Dome Viewpoint to see Dawson City from above.

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View of Dawson City from Midnight Dome Viewpoint (Paul’s Picture)


From there it was on to the free ferry to get across the Yukon River to the Top of the World Hwy (TOW). 

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View from the departing Dawson City ferry


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Yukon River from the Dawson City ferry


The TOW is a dirt / gravel road with one newly paved section of about 16 km (10 miles) on the Alaska side just after you cross the Can/US border. There are some nice views on it.

As is often the case when you wash a vehicle or a bike, it rains the following day. In this instance it was raining calcium chloride again for us after we got stuck behind two trucks that were spreading it on the TOW.  Had we been on the TOW a few minutes earlier we would have missed the fun. Oh well!   

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I’m getting ready to take a picture on the TOW (Paul’s picture)


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TOW


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TOW


The border crossing is located approximately 105 km (66 miles) from Dawson City and is billed as the northernmost international border crossing in North America. It is open in the summer only as the TOW is not open in the winter months. I found out that the people working on the American side of that border volunteer to work there and they actually live there also because there is no town anywhere close. It is basically in the middle of nowhere.

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Can / US border crossing in on TOW Hwy


We only took pictures of the border crossing from a distance because I had heard that they get upset when they see you take pictures at that crossing. That is probably true for any border crossing. 

The road deteriorates significantly once on the Alaska side after the paved section until you reach Chicken AK which is located approximately 70 km (45 miles) from the border crossing. There was some work being done on the road in some spots.

In Chicken AK we stopped for lunch at the Chicken Creek Café. The population of Chicken AK was 7 in 2010 according to the US Census.

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Downtown Chicken AK (Paul’s picture)


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The chickens are vicious in downtown Chicken AK
 

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You can leave your hat in the saloon


While we were waiting for our food in the Chicken Creek Café the boss lady came in complaining about everything under the sun and dishing out orders to the cook. It was entertaining.

After the lunch break we headed towards TOK AK and got back on the Alaska Hwy at Tetlin Junction. Stopping for the night in TOK would have been an option but once there we decided to make a run for Delta Junction AK where we would call it a day. 

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Back on Alaska Hwy on our way to Delta Junction AK 


In Delta Junction we decided to camp in the State Campground for $12US ($6 each). This was a pit toilet only campground. The actual campsites were nice enough but there had not been any effort made to keep the campground clean in a while. It was a self registration campground and the box where you take out the permits to fill out was empty. There was a sign there saying that the campground was operated by a private company. Obviously they did not care.   

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State of Alaska Campground in Delta Junction AK


Day 19 (June 19)
Delta Junction AK – Cantwell AK
350 km (217 miles)


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Day 19


Delta Junction AK is where the Alaska Hwy ends and it is marked by a monument at mile 1,422. I had intended to take a picture of it the previous day when we got in town and I forgot. I forgot about it again the morning of day nineteen. Hey, there’s always next time. Shhh!  Don’t tell Sue.   

After our excellent breakfast on the morning of day nineteen at the Alaska Steakhouse & Motel in Delta Junction we got on the Richardson Hwy (Hwy 4) going south. We stopped to take some pictures of the 800 mile long Alaska Pipeline that goes from Prudhoe Bay AK (Arctic Ocean) to Valdez Marine Terminal in Valdez AK.

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Some Alaska Pipeline facts


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Facts on the heat pipes that remove heat from the ground


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Heat pipes


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Heat pipes with bikes for scale


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Pipeline with bikes for scale


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They were doing some work on that particular day


We saw a lot of tanker trucks on the Richardson Hwy hauling oil from what I assumed to be Valdez to wherever they were going. 

After the pipeline stop we kept going south on the Richardson Hwy until we reached Paxson. Here are some shots taken from the Richardson. The area around Summit Lake was beautiful. There was still ice in it that late in June.   

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View from Richardson Hwy


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View from Richardson Hwy


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Summit Lake


In Paxson we got on the Denali Hwy which is mostly a dirt / gravel road of approximately 220 km (135 miles) in length with the first 32 km (20 miles) from Paxson being paved / chip sealed. It was at times good, at times rough with a lot of potholes and at times there was a lot of gravel. A section where a grader was working had to be taken very slowly. We did get some rain on it at times to make it more interesting on the bikes.

On the first part of Denali Hwy my bike’s transmission was working flawlessly but towards the end it started acting up again as it had on the Dempster Hwy when downshifting was an issue. It was a pain because slowing down quickly meant that I would end up in the wrong gear.

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Wet Denali Hwy 


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Dry Denali Hwy


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Susitna River Bridge on the Denali Hwy

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Denali Hwy


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Denali Hwy


Once we got to Cantwell at the other end of the Denali Hwy we set up camp at the Cantwell RV Park that had 5-6 tent sites.

Being overdue for a run I went for one of 8.45 km (5.25 miles) after setting up camp.

During the evening we had great conversations with a German young man who was bicycling Alaska and a couple from Switzerland doing likewise. There was also a guy from the Province of Québec travelling alone on a GS1200.

Sorry no pictures except that Paul caught some pretty flowers growing out of rocky terrain. Here’s one of them:
 
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Flower growing out of rocky terrain in Cantwell AK (Paul’s picture)


Going to bed I was thinking of my bike and the possibility of getting to a Yamaha dealer the next day. 

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2018, 02:27:40 PM »
Day 20 (June 20)
Cantwell AK – Anchorage AK
387 km (240 miles)



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Day 20


On day twenty we left the campground a bit late and stopped at JP’s Coffee House for breakfast in Cantwell. Nice spot. 

We were now on the Parks Hwy (Hwy 3) going south and my bike’s transmission was now getting even worse. Stopping to take pictures was not an option because of the downshifting issue. When we hit road work I was crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t have to stop. I did stop early for one picture that I can share here.

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Park Hwy AK (Hwy 3)


Once we got to Anchorage AK we stopped at the Bass Pro Shop for Paul to buy some camp fuel. There was a McDonald’s just about next door where we went in to get Wi-Fi in order to find an address for a Yamaha dealer. On our way to the dealer I had to take off in fourth gear whenever I had to stop at a red light. My bike simply would not downshift. It was a good plan to burn up a clutch. 

When we got to the dealer (Anchorage Yamaha) it was fairly late in the afternoon. With no appointment I went in and explained the situation and pointed out to the service manager that I had a Yamaha extended warranty on the bike. He insisted that Yamaha USA would not honour an extended warranty on a Canadian bike as they had gone through that before. I knew that the Canadian Super Ténérés were different from the American ones since the former are fitted with an immobilizer system to help prevent thefts. The electronics are therefore controlled differently. At that point I was not a happy camper because the Canadian dealer where I had bought the Yamaha extended warranty told me it would be honoured in the USA. It was important to me because I am a frequent traveller there. Thanks to Paul who was there to keep the conversation civilized. After the service manager agreed to go for a test ride he went and came back acknowledging that there was a problem and it was most likely mechanical. He then got a technician to go out for a ride. A little while later they told me that the bike was fixed. What a relief that was. My other option would have been to ride all the way back to Whitehorse YT to get to a Canadian Yamaha dealer. 

At the end of the day Anchorage Yamaha came through and fixed the problem for only one half hour of labour. I was very happy with the outcome and now I would be able to take off in first gear again. Muchas Gratias Anchorage Yamaha!  The issue was that the shifter was really dirty and needed to be cleaned and lubricated. I blamed the calcium chloride for the problem although I have read since then that it is an issue with the Super Ténérés. You have to keep that shifter clean and lubricated. 

While doing research on accommodations in Anchorage AK prior to this trip I had found out that the Harley Davidson dealer allows riders of all brands to camp in the back of the dealership for free. That sounded like a good deal and it just so happens that the HD dealer was very close to the Yamaha dealer in Anchorage. 

When we got there we were greeted by a young man who gave us the combination number to the washroom (restroom for you Americans) and shower accessible through a door from the side of the building. This was not the regular washroom inside the dealership but another one accessible by that outside door only. 

The following pictures were taken the next morning. 

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HD dealer in Anchorage AK   


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Our campsite behind the HD dealer in Anchorage AK


When we got there we met Marty from California who goes by the name of Motopsychoman on the ADV Rider forum.   

When I was at the Yamaha dealer they gave me a hard time with respect to the state of cleanliness of my bike. Paul and I therefore decided that we would try to find a place to wash them and this is where Motoquest comes in. They are located next door to the HD dealer in Anchorage. They rent motorcycles and do guided motorcycle tours. It occurred to me that they would have some kind of wash bay to wash and clean their motorcycles and maybe they do motorcycles that are not their own for a fee. Paul and I walked over and asked someone who told us to come back the next morning and we would be free to use their pressure washer. That sounded like a great plan.   


Day 21 (June 21)
Anchorage AK – Homer AK
386 km (240 miles)


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Day 21


An excellent breakfast was had at the Village Inn just up the street with Marty on day twenty one.

Paul and I walked over to the Motoquest place where last night’s story completely changed. We were not welcome to use their pressure washer anymore. As a result we went out and found a coin operated car wash that had hand held pressure washers nozzles and cleaned our bikes as well as we could with the motorcycle cleaners that we had bought the previous day at the Yamaha dealer. Once done we went back to the HD dealer to install our skid plates that had been removed to better wash the bikes. By the time that was all done it was 1:00 PM.

Homer AK was not in the original plans. That changed after we turned around on the Dempster as we were then ahead of schedule and it gave us time to go down to there.   

I had done the Turnagain Arm Drive on the Seward Hwy with Sue in a rented car the previous year and the drive along the water was beautiful albeit full of traffic and tour buses. This time the weather was not very cooperative and the traffic was still there. We did take some pictures but few turned out. I’ll share two of them. 


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Turn Again Arm (Paul’s picture)
 

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From the Seward Hwy we turned on to the Sterling Hwy which had some beautiful views initially but turned into a slowfest affair with lots of traffic after a while. We made it to Homer and because I had not initially planned to go there, we did not have any plan as to where to stay for the night. Camping was out of the question as it was raining when we got there. We rode around until we found the Windjammer Suites that turned out to be a good choice.


Day 22 (June 22)
Homer AK – Anchorage AK
402 km (250 miles)


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Day 22

After our tasty breakfast at the Duncan House Diner we rode down to the Homer Spit which is a 4.5 mile (7.2 km) long and narrow finger of land that extends into the Kachemak Bay. There are campgrounds, pleasure boats, commercial fishing boats, a ferry terminal and lots of touristy type businesses located there

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Road on the Homer Spit


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Beach on the Homer Spit
 
 
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View from the Homer Spit


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Touristy businesses on the Homer Spit


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Boats on the Homer Spit


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Commercial fishing boats on the Homer Spit


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Paul enjoying the scenery


Perhaps the most famous spot on the Homer Spit is the Salty Dawg Saloon. It was pretty well empty when we went in that early in the morning.   

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Salty Dawg Saloon on the Homer Spit


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Inside the Salty Dawg Saloon


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Paul’s Picture


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Souvenir anyone? (Paul’s Picture)


Once we were done exploring the Homer Spit we decided to head back to Anchorage and spend another night at the HD free camping. On our way there we stopped in Anchor Point which has the distinction of having North America’s most westerly highway point.

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Fuzzy picture but you get the point


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Beach at Anchor Point (Paul’s Picture)


This being a Friday traffic was even worse than the previous day especially when we got back on the Seward Hwy going north towards Anchorage. On the way we saw a truck that had just hit and killed a moose but we didn’t stop to take a picture. We did stop in Girdwood where the Seward Hwy intersects with the Alyeska Hwy to fuel our bikes and bodies. It was a real zoo there on that Friday afternoon.

Back on the road we stopped for one more photo-op on the Turnagain Arm Drive where the views were better than the previous day.   

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Turnagain Arm


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Turnagain Arm 


When we got to our campsite in Anchorage there was another ADV Rider who had set up camp previous to our arrival. It was nice meeting Matt who goes by the name Trasch on the ADV Rider forum.

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That’s Trasch’s (Matt) Super Ténéré in the picture and not mine


Matt informed us that two guys from the Province of NB were expected there that evening but he didn’t know exactly when they were going to show up. They eventually came in but it was fairly late. 

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2018, 02:34:13 PM »
Day 23 (June 23)
Anchorage AK – Valdez AK
527 km (327 miles)



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Day 23


In the morning we had a nice conversation with the two riders from NB. I have to say here that the population of NB is less than a million. To meet two riders from NB this far from home in the same campsite was cool. They were in a bit of a whirlwind tour compared to us.   

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Four New Brunswickers in Alaska


The ride on day 23 was wet. What else is new eh? 

Our rain gear went on in Palmer on the Richardson Hwy (Hwy 1) and stayed on all day in the on again off again rain. It was a bummer because Sue and I had done it the previous summer in a rented car and the views were much better in the nicer weather. 

Nevertheless, the Matanuska Glacier on the Glenn Hwy was still somewhat visible from a distance.

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Matanuska Glacier on Glenn Hwy


Once in Glennallen we got on the Richardson Hwy (Hwy 4) going south towards Valdez. The views were still ruined by the clouds and the on again off again rain. Here’s one of the better shots:

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Richardson Hwy


I was looking forward to see the Worthington Glacier again but the view was terrible. You could hardly see it. Here’s what my camera saw of it on a zoomed in shot:

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Bad picture of Worthington Glacier on the Richardson Hwy on June 23, 2018


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Slightly better picture of the Worthington Glacier on June 23, 2018


Compare those to what Sue and I saw in June 2017 when I actually climbed to the Glacier to touch it. 

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Worthington Glacier June 2017


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Me touching the glacier June 2017


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View from the Glacier June 2017


The Thompson Pass would also have been nice if the weather had been better. Soon after that pass you get to the Bridal Veil Falls in the Keystone Canyon. The pictures taken there were better because we were closer. 

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Bridal Veil Falls on Richardson Hwy


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Keystone Canyon on Richardson Hwy


We had no reservations anywhere in Valdez and I knew that rooms there would be expensive in June. Once we got there we simply went to the KOA Campground and set up camp there in the rain. Had we waited 30 minutes the rain would have stopped.  Oh well! 

I went for a run on the nice paved trail along the hwy and when I got back Paul and I went in town for supper.

The Valdez harbour surrounded by the mountains is very pretty but again the views were not as good.   

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Valdez Harbour


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Colourful buoys in fishing boat in Valdez Harbour


Day 24 (June 24)
Valdez AK – McCarthy AK
329 km (204 miles)


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Day 24


We were greeted by clouds again in the morning. We did a quick stop at the Valdez Glacier Lake on the outskirts of Valdez trying to see the glacier. We were only somewhat successful. 

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Paul taking a picture of the Valdez Glacier Lake and the icebergs coming off the glacier


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Yes there is a glacier up there in the clouds


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Valdez Glacier in the clouds


Day twenty four was the day that we made it to McCarthy AK. When I told my son’s father in law that we were planning to go there he knew quite a bit about it because of the reality T.V. show Edge of Alaska shown on the Discovery Channel. I had never seen that show but I had seen some pictures of this isolated town that could only be reached by a dirt / gravel road of about 100 km (60 miles) built on an old rail bed. I had read about people getting tire punctures on it and that made me a bit nervous. 

Here’s how imb describes the town of McCarthy and the reality show:

 Hidden deep in the wilderness of eastern Alaska is the toughest town in America: McCarthy. Once considered to be the state's very own "Sin City," McCarthy is now an isolated town - a refuge for people who don't want to be found that's surrounded by extreme wilderness. While some believe in continuing the town's frontier way of life, others feel the future of McCarthy depends on dragging itself into the modern age. Which way of life will reign supreme? It's tradition versus transformation. Built during the Gold Rush in 1900, McCarthy was once a vibrant and flourishing city. Today, with over 100 miles between the residents and the nearest law enforcement, only 42 people still brave the extreme conditions to live in this secluded, 'Old West' town. A place where young men go to prove themselves, and old outlaws go to die; home to bear hunters, gold miners, gun smiths, backwoods survivalists - those who choose to reside in this little known town are willing to risk their lives to live truly free. Each of the roughly four dozen residents of McCarthy is living this dangerous wilderness life for their own, very different, reasons. Neil Darish moved to McCarthy with dreams of restoring the small town to its former glory. After spending years buying property after property in downtown McCarthy, he plans to bring this frontier town into the 21st Century. On the opposite end of the spectrum are long-standing residents like Jeremy Keller who came to McCarthy hoping to escape the evils of modern day society, and will fight to protect 'the old way' at any cost. As diverse as the citizens of McCarthy are, they have one thing in common: everyone who ventures to this town is trying to run away from something. They are mavericks and trailblazers, risk takers and rabble rousers, all attempting to escape their past by surviving at the end of America. This is the story of our country's last true frontier town - on the Edge of Alaska.

Before getting to McCarthy we had to back track on the Richardson Hwy to where it intersects with the Edgerton Hwy (Rte 10).

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More clouds on the Richardson Hwy around the Thompson Pass 


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View from Richardson Hwy


The paved / chip sealed Edgerton Hwy goes as far as Chitina before turning to a dirt / gravel road. We stopped for lunch at the Hotel Chitina in Chitina where we met djroszina from ADV Rider who had also failed in his attempt to reach Tuk and the Arctic Ocean on his bike a few days earlier on account of the mud. We would see him again in the evening in McCarthy.

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Hotel Chitina 


This is how you are greeted at the start of the dirt / gravel section in Chitina going to McCarthy. Scary isn’t it? 

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Scary isn’t it? 


The McCarthy road had some rough sections at the start of it but it got much smoother afterwards.

There is an old railroad trestle bridge located where the road goes over the Gilahina River. It was used by the trains to transport copper extracted from the now abandoned Kennicott mine next door to McCarthy. 

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Gilahina River and Gilahina railroad trestle bridge on McCarthy Road


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McCarthy Rd and Gilahina railroad trestle bridge (Paul’s picture)


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Close up of the trestle bridge


Further up the McCarthy road we saw Mama Moose. We would see Papa Moose with Mama Moose the next day on our way down.

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Mama Moose on the McCarthy road


Just before you get to McCarthy there is a footbridge that goes across the Kennicott River. The river flows from the Root Glacier. There is an area right there where you can camp called Base Camp just before the bridge and for $20 you get to pick a spot on a rocky terrain next to the river. For facilities you get an outhouse. That’s it. 

Paul and I walked around trying to find a spot where we wouldn’t be sleeping on rocks. We eventually found one that had very few rocks next to a couple of picnic tables

After setting up camp we went across the footbridge with our bikes to the abandoned Kennicott town / mine. We didn’t get the guided tour but just walked around the premises. It is now owned by the federal government and they are in the process of stabilizing the wooden structures.

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Footbridge across the Kennicott River that you can cross on a bike


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Kennicott town and mine


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Kennicott town and mine
 
 
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Kennicott town and mine


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Kennicott town and mine


We had supper with food from a food truck at the mine location where we met djroszina from ADV Rider again. From there we could see the portion of the Root Glacier that was under dirt fairly well.

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Root Glacier under the dirt


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You can see some ice in this close up


On that day we could not get a good view of the glacier higher up in all of its glory because of the clouds. The following was my best attempt. To get a better view we would have had to hike to it and it was too late by the time we got there.   

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Bad picture of the Root Glacier


After eating we went to explore McCarthy. There is really not much there.

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View of Main St in McCarthy


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View of Main St. in McCarthy looking the other way (Paul’s picture)


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Hotel in McCarthy


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Old vehicles plus my bike in McCarthy


There was going to be live music in a saloon in McCarthy that evening but we didn’t hang around long enough to listen to it.

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Saloon in McCarthy


When we got back to our camp there were a lot of REI tents pitched around where we were. I found out by having a chat with one of the campers who was from Australia that they were part of an REI adventure tour. They got to pitch their tents on the rocks. How fun! 

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Me having a chat with a camper from Australia on a REI adventure tour. Notice all the REI tents. 


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View of Kennicott River from our campsite. Can you spot the glacier iceberg? 

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2018, 02:41:01 PM »
Day 25 (June 25)
McCarthy AK – Tok AK
433 km (270 miles)



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Day 25


I woke up in the morning with the sound of rain hitting my tent. I felt like I just wanted to stay in it and wait for the rain to go away but that would have been a waste of time not knowing if and when it would stop. Paul and I eventually got up and we rolled up our tents in the rain. While we were packing up to go the adventurers with the REI tour were already leaving for a hike to the glacier in the rain. I don’t know what is worse, hiking in the rain to a glacier that you would probably not be able to see until you walk on it or bike on a dirt / gravel road in the rain.

So it was. We left in the rain and rode the 60 miles (100 km) to Chitina on a dirt / gravel road that was surprisingly good under the circumstances. In the first section where there had been some water flowing over the road on the previous day the water was now higher. We had to be careful crossing that section.

Once we got to Glennallen where the rain had finally stopped we stopped to fuel and have lunch. After fuelling I moved up next to Paul who was waiting for me to discuss lunch options. While talking to him he lost his footing on the wet surface and him and his bike fell on top of me and my bike. Not being The Hulk I could not keep my bike upright and I had to jump off to protect my legs. When the bike hit the ground the GPS flew off. Someone who was there that saw it happen ran over to help us get our bikes back upright. The only damage that I could see on mine was the GPS mount that had broken. For Paul it was the fourth time that his bike went down during the trip and for my bike it was the third time up to that point. In the commotion I lost my glasses that were found after searching for a few minutes.

After the commotion we ate at the ever so popular Thai Food place in Glennallen.

Our bellies and bikes now full we rode as far as Tok AK on the Glen Hwy (Hwy 1). We got a room there at the Golden Bear Motel & RV Park and we got a chance to clean and dry our tents. I also did some running on the nicely paved trail that runs parallel to the Glenn Hwy.

Day twenty five was such a miserable day that neither of us took any pictures.


Day 26 (June 26)
Tok AK – Haines Junction YT
483 km (300 miles)


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Day 26


The scenery and weather on day twenty six made for a much better day than the previous one. We got back on the Alaska Hwy to complete a section of it that we had not done on the way up and crossed back into Canada in the Yukon Territories.

While getting ready in the morning I noticed that my passport had suffered some water damage somewhere in Alaska and as a result my photo in it was faded.

It rained a bit off and on early but I had no rain gear and didn’t get wet. 

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Morning clouds on day 26 on the Alaska Hwy
 

You ride several kilometres into Canada before you actually get to the Canadian border control in Beaver Creek YT. When I presented my passport to the customs officer he immediately told me that my passport was no good because he could not see my facial features on the photo and that the Americans would never let me back in the US with it after I told him we were going to cross back into Alaska the following day. He strongly suggested that I go directly to Whitehorse YT to get a new one. He was so convinced that my passport was no good that he even told Paul about it when he went through. My thought was that I would take my chances and with my other IDs I would probably be able to get back in the US.

After getting back on the road and along the way to Haines Junction YT we saw a lot of wild pink flowers. I have no idea what they were.

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Wild pink flowers



The area around Kluane Lake where you first enter the Kluane National Park was simply beautiful with the water, flowers and mountains.   

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Kluane Lake on Alaska Hwy


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Kluane Lake on Alaska Hwy


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Kluane Lake on Alaska Hwy


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Getting closer to Haines Junction YT the scenery was like this:

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Alaska Hwy closer to Haines Junction YT


The mountains in Kluane National Park are among the tallest in Canada. In fact Mount Logan located in that park is the tallest in Canada and second only to Mount Denali in Alaska. Logan is said to be 19,551 feet (5,959 meters).

Once in Haines Junction we set up camp in Kluane RV Kampground which had a wooded section for tents and an open area for RVs. In the tent section we were the only ones there.

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RV section in Kluane RV Kampground


If you ever go to Haines Junction YT the obligatory stop is the Village Bakery. After Paul cooked supper on the camp stove we got there in time just before it closed for the day. Hey, we deserved it. 


Day 27 (June 27)
Haines Junction YT to Haines AK
316 km (196 miles)


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Day 27


In order to start the day on the right foot we had breakfast at the Village Bakery. Everybody knows that there are no calories in bakery food when you are on a road trip. 

While we were at the bakery someone pulled up on a Gold Wing hauling a trailer with Texas plates that had a big sign on it saying “Gun control is a steady hand”. I couldn’t stop thinking that the Canadian border officers must have had fun with that guy. I would have if I was in their shoes.   

After breakfast we headed south towards Haines AK on the Haines Hwy (Hwy 3) which connects the two towns. It turned out that the mountain scenery on that highway was one of the most spectacular one of our trip.

Our first stop was at Kathleen Lake just off the Hwy to check out the scenery.   


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Haines Hwy just before Kathleen Lake
 
 
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Kathleen Lake YT (Paul’s picture)

A bit further down the Haines Hwy we went by Dezadeash Lake.


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Dezadeash Lake on Haines Hwy


More pictures from the Haines Hwy:

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Haines Hwy


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Haines Hwy


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Haines Hwy


At a certain point on the Haines Hwy you cross into BC for a short stint and then you cross into Alaska which means that you have to cross the international border. As I was approaching the Alaska entry point I was thinking of what the Canadian border officer had told me about my passport being no longer valid to get into the USA because of the water damaged photo. When I handed it to the border officer he took it, scanned it and handed it back to me without paying too much attention to the photo and wished me a good day. I would go on to cross the Canadian and American borders several times during the remainder of the trip and nobody mentioned anything regarding my passport photo except that one other Canadian border officer took a double look at it but said nothing.

Once back in Alaska the scenery changed. The road became narrower with more curves and the views of the mountains disappeared in favour of twisties and trees. 
Once you get to Haines AK you either have to turn back or go up the Taiya Inlet on a ferry to Skagway AK. Both towns are stops for cruise ships with Skagway being a more popular one.

Our plan was to take the ferry across to Skagway AK the following day. We set up camp in the Salmon Run Campground just beyond the ferry terminal about ten minutes outside of Haines. We then bought tickets for the 11:00AM crossing the following day.

Views on our way to the campground on the Lutak Rd were worthy. 

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From Lutak Rd outside of Haines AK


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From Lutak Rd outside of Haines AK


The views from our campsite were probably the best of the entire trip.   

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Salmon Run Campground on Lutak Rd outside of Haines AK


Afterwards we had time to explore Haines and go for a wood fired pizza at the Alpenglow. Yummy! 

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Paul’s Picture


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Cruiseship in Haines AK


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Haines AK


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Street view from Haines AK


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Street view from Haines AK


During the evening we had a nice chat with riders from BC. 

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Day 28-35


Day 28 (June 28)
Haines AK – Johnsons Crossing YT
213 km + ferry (132 miles)


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Day 28


We got to the ferry terminal well in advance of the 11:00AM crossing in the morning. The crossing lasts 45 minutes on the Fairweather vessel.

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Waiting for the Haines – Skagway ferry


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Yes it’s a Cat ferry (Paul’s picture)


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Plenty of room for the bikes that were all tied up


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Let’s turn on the jets


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Enjoying the scenery (Paul’s camera)


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On the water


As mentioned in Day twenty seven, Skagway is a more popular cruise ship stop than Haines. On this particular day there were four of them docked when we sailed in.

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Four cruise ships docked in Skagway AK


Skagway is a town that grew as a result of the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 19th century. The historic section is lined up with turn of the 20th century wooden buildings and sidewalks à la Dawson City YT. It had a population of 1,157 in July 2017 according to the US Census Bureau. Imagine all the passengers of four cruise ships being dumped on its short main tourist street (Broadway St) at once and you get and idea of the zoo like atmosphere. This was my second time in Skagway as Sue and I had made a stop there during our Alaska cruise of 2017.

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Broadway St Skagway AK – Yes you can rent scooters


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The cruise ships park right on the street in Skagway AK


We stopped at a Thai food restaurant for lunch and then we were on our way.

The White Pass just after Skagway has a nice climb and the scenery remains beautiful until you reach Carcross YT after crossing back into Canada. The road beyond Carcross until you reach Johnsons Crossing YT is only average. We stopped at the Johnsons Lodge and RV Park for the night in Johnsons Crossing and set up our tents there.

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White Pass


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Before supper I went for a run and while running I left the key in the ignition at the on position on my bike. When I got back I noticed it and turned it off hoping that the bike would start in the morning.

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2018, 02:46:13 PM »
Day 29 (June 29)
Johnsons Crossing YT – Dease Lake BC
571 km (355 miles)


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Day 29


As expected, my battery decided that it wasn’t strong enough to start my bike on day twenty nine. We tried to jumpstart it by pushing it to no avail. Someone who saw us pulled out a jump starter but he couldn’t get to work. In the end we had to use old fashion booster cables. Sorry, no pictures.

On the previous day we got back on the Alaska Hwy (Hwy 1) at Jakes Corner not too far from Johnsons Crossing. On the current day we continued on the Alaska Hwy from Johnsons Crossing to Nugget City YT where it intersects with the Stewart - Cassiar Hwy (Hwy 37). It is there we stopped for lunch. Altogether, we did the whole length of the Alaska Hwy on the trip except for an 80 km (50 mile) stretch.

As we were pulling in the yard of the restaurant in Nugget City we met Tom and his wife who live in Moncton NB where I live. They were pulling out and going north while we were going south. What a coincidence that was. Tom and I had met before the trip to discuss our plans and we had no idea that we would be meeting during the trip. He had left Moncton later in June to meet his bike that had been shipped to Calgary AB and was doing many of the same roads we did but riding two up.

Everything I read prior to the trip suggested that the Stewart – Cassiar Hwy was a better motorcycling road than the Alaska Hwy. I can’t say I disagree. It is definitely a narrower road with less traffic and nice views. 

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Stewart – Cassiar Hwy (Paul’s picture)


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Me on the Stewart – Cassiar Hwy examining my rear tire for wear (Paul’s picture) 


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There’s rain in them there hills of the Stewart – Cassiar Hwy


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Stewart - Cassiar Hwy


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Stewart – Cassiar Hwy


An obligatory stop on the Stewart – Cassian Hwy is the Cassiar Mountain Jade Store in Jade City BC. We didn’t buy any of the nice jade carvings inside the store but I had a nice conversation with a young couple from Switzerland travelling in an old motor home.

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Cassiar Mountain Jade Store


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Paul’s picture


It had been our plan to stop in Dease Lake BC for the night. We had no reservations but I was hopeful that there would be rooms at the Northway Motor Inn. The reason for stopping in Dease Lake was that we would have the option of doing the Telegraph Creek Rd the next day. It is a dirt / gravel road of 113 km (71 miles) in length with grades of up to 20%.

As we approached Dease Lake a young black bear jumped out of the ditch in front of me for a near miss.

When we got to the Northway Motor Inn someone in front of us just got the last room available. What we didn’t know was that we got in this very small town on the weekend of Northern BC’s largest fishing derby. To make it more interesting it was prom night at the local high school. For plan “B” we decided to backtrack and check out the Waters Edge Campground that we had spotted about five minutes north of town.  It turned out that it was more than sufficient for our needs even though it only had pit toilets. We got a nice site overlooking the actual Dease Lake. Too bad it was raining. Sorry, no pictures. 


Day 30 (June 30)
Dease Lake BC – Stewart BC
422 km ( 262 miles)


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Day 30


The rain in the morning subsided just long enough to allow us to roll up our wet tents. As a result of that rain we decided not to attempt the Telegraph Creek Rd. It turned out that it was a wise decision. A couple of days later when we were in Terrace BC we met a rider from Toronto who we had previously met in the Johnsons Crossing’s campground. He told us he had gone on the Telegraph Creek road on our day thirty and had gone down because of the wet road.

On this thirtieth day of our trip we continued south on the Stewart – Cassiar Hwy and it rained on and off most of the day. At Meziadin Junction we branched off to the Stewart – Hyder access road (Hwy 37A) to Stewart BC. Once on Hwy 37A we stopped at the Bear Glacier for some pictures and once in Stewart BC we got a room at the King Edward Hotel for the night. No camping for us on that day. We were in need of a real roof after camping for four straight nights.

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Bear Glacier on Stewart – Hyder Access Rd (Paul’s picture)


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Paul’s picture


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Stewart – Hyder Access Rd

 
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Main drag in Stewart BC


Stewart has a population of just over 400 according to Statistics Canada. It is on the Canadian side of the Canada-US border across Hyder AK. The latter has a population of less than 100 and when you cross over into the US there is no American border control. There would be nowhere to go if you were up to no good and tried to get in the US through Hyder. You would simply get to a dead end and then be forced back into Canada. However, there is a border control when you cross back to the Canadian side in Stewart BC. 

One attraction on the American side for most riders is the Seafood Express Bus that sells fish’n chips made with fresh Halibut. Paul and I decided to go check it out for supper but on that particular day it was closed by the time we got there.

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Express Seafood Bus in Hyder AK


Back in Stewart BC the Canada Day celebrations had already started. They had bad live music and some tasty BBQ burgers. Well, I guess you can’t have it all. I did meet other Adventure Riders who were there partaking in the celebrations. 


Day 31 (July 1)
Stewart BC – Terrace BC
398 km (247 miles)


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Day 31


The plan on day thirty one was to ride to the Salmon Glacier for the million dollar view and then make our way to Terrace BC. Unfortunately it was cloudy and foggy in the morning and we did not get to see the Salmon Glacier in all of its glory.   

In order to get to the glacier you have to cross into Hyder AK and ride a dirt / gravel road for about 30 minutes. Once across and just on the other side of Hyder you can stop at the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site where you can see bears eat salmon in the wild except that the salmon were not in this early in the season and therefore the bears were absent as well.

The road actually crosses back into Canada but there is no border control either way at that point. The first view of the glacier which is said to be the fifth largest in Canada is at the toe of the glacier and we did get to see it from a distance through the fog. 

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Toe of the Salmon Glacier 


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Closeup


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With the bike in the picture 


Further up the road and still climbing Paul caught this picture that shows the fog, some wildlife and boulders on the road.

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Going up to the summit in the fog (Paul’s picture)


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Closeup of wildlife on the way up – mother and little one


Once at the summit view this is what we saw: 

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View of fog at summit of Salmon Glacier


On that particular morning my patience to wait out the fog was not the greatest. After about 30 – 45 minutes I ran out of it and decided it was time to turn back and hit the road again. Maybe I would have waited if there had been a way to predict when it was going to go away.

On the way down we got under the fog and were able to spot the glacier again but not in the full glory of the summit. 

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Salmon Glacier


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Closeup of Salmon Glacier
 

It was time for lunch by the time we got back to Hyder AK and we decided to try the Seafood Express Bus that was just opening for the day. I will say that the fish’n chip I ate wasn’t bad but it wasn’t as good as I was expecting. Maybe the grease used to cook it was too old. 

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Paul waiting for his food in Hyder   


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Paul and I waiting for our food


After lunch we backtracked on Rte 37A to the Stewart – Cassiar Hwy (BC Hwy 37) and then continued our journey going south.

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On 37A going back to the Stewart – Cassiar Hwy. That’s one way to keep the poles upright.


To make it a little more interesting we turned off onto the Nass Forest Service Road for a distance of approximately 50 km (30 miles).  That took us to the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Provincial Park once back on the pavement on Rte 133 where lava was flowing approximately 250 years ago in the area.   

The rough Nass Forest Service Rd otherwise known as the Nisga’a Hwy gave a workout to my bike’s suspension. A section of it was in the process of being graded and in fact we did see the grader. Why he was working on a Sunday of a long weekend I do not know. Overtime pay maybe? 

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Nass Forest Service Rd


The following are some of the shots taken on the Nass Forest Service Rd.

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Nass Forest Service Rd


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Nass Forest Service Rd


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Nass Forest Service Rd


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Paul getting to the end of the Nass Forest Service Rd


Rte 113 cuts across the lava bed park and goes down to Terrace BC where we stopped for the night. The impressive lava bed reminded me of the Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley National Park in CA.

We got to stretch the legs of the bikes on Rte 113 while holding back a little bit because of our 50/50 tires that limited what we could do on the pavement. The area around Lake Kitsumkalum was nice.

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Nisga’a Lava Bed (Paul’s picture)


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Once in Terrace BC I heard a squeak when I applied the rear brakes. More on that later. 

The Rest Inn in Terrace BC was perfect for the night. 

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2018, 02:51:02 PM »
Day 32 (July 2)
Terrace BC – Prince Rupert BC – Terrace BC
330 km (205 miles)


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Day 32


Day thirty two had been planned as an easy day where we would simply ride from Terrace BC to Prince Rupert BC on the Yellowhead Hwy and back to Terrace with enough time left to do an oil change in our bikes.

The ride next to the Skeena River going to Prince Rupert was very scenic. A bonus is that the road was practically devoid of traffic in the early morning of a holiday Monday.

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Skeena River on the Yellowhead Rd (Paul’s picture)


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Our bikes next to the Skeena River on the Yellowhead Rd (Paul’s picture)


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Yellowhead Rd along Skeena River


Once in Prince Rupert we went down to see the container ship port and ferry terminal as well as the area around the Pacific Mariners Memorial Park. 

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Containers in Prince Rupert BC (Paul’s picture)


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Prince Rupert BC


On the way back to Terrace we had more traffic because it was the end of the long weekend. When we got back in Terrace we decided to set up camp at the Ferry Island Municipal Campground for the night. 

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Ferry Island Municipal Campground in Terrace BC 


It was still fairly early after we set up camp. That gave us time to change the engine oil in our bikes. Paul had to use some of his negotiating skills to convince the young men working at the Great Canadian Oil Change in Terrace to take our old oil and allow us to do the oil change behind that business even though they had no motorcycle oil to sell. At the Canadian Tire store we bought oil and a turkey roaster that we used as a container to collect the old oil even though they had categorically refused our request to take our old oil.


Day 33 (July 3)
Terrace BC – Prince George BC
601 km (373 miles)


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Day 33


The ride on the Yellowhead Hwy to Smithers BC was nice. We had rain later in the day for about one hour as we approached Prince George BC. There was nothing new there. 

In Prince George we got a room at the Riviera City Centre Inn. It wasn’t Prince George’s finest hotel or part of town but they allowed us to park our bikes next to the front door where they could see them from the front desk and assured us that they would keep an eye on them. 

The developing issue with my rear brakes was getting worse.

Sorry, no pictures for day thirty three. 


Day 34 (July 4)
Prince George BC – Kamloops BC
565 km (351 miles)


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Day 34


On day thirty four we had a pleasant surprise. We had no rain, imagine that. To my surprise it was obvious that the climate was getting semi-arid based on the terrain as we approached Kamloops BC.

Before getting there we had gone down on Hwy 97 (Cariboo Hwy) to 100 Mile House BC where we branched off to Hwy 24. The latter was awesome with nice high speed sweepers and elevation changes until we hit Little Fort where we got on Rte 5 alongside the North Thompson River. That one proved to be full of traffic and very slow.   

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Getting close to Kamloops BC alongside the North Thompson River


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Getting close to Kamloops BC alongside the North Thompson River


We stopped at the Super 8 in East Kamloops for the night. 

Looking at my rear brakes I decided that I was going to get someone to look at them the next morning. 

Day 35 (July 5)
Kamloops BC
96 km (60 miles)


On day thirty five I went to Outlaw Motorsports in Kamloops BC without calling ahead of time and with no appointments. When we got there the service manager (Brian) told me that they were fully booked and could not take me in. I asked if a mechanic could just take a quick look at my rear brakes. One came out, took a look and told me I was metal on metal. That meant that I wasn’t going anywhere before that problem was fixed.

Outlaw Motorsports had no brake pads for my bike and the parts lady called everywhere in town and couldn’t find any. Brian got involved and he called the area Yamada dealers and none of them did either. I asked him if he could get some sent overnight from Yamaha Canada and he said he could but it would be more expensive because of the extra shipping costs. They came from Toronto. I agreed to the extra costs and asked that he order a new rear rotor also because it had been damaged by riding when the brakes were metal on metal. I was to bring the bike in first thing in the morning and they would start working on it while waiting for the parts to come in with the goal of getting me on the road by noon.   

We had plenty of time after that to wander around town. We headed to the Sage Campground on the north side of the South Thompson River to check it out. For the first time during this trip we would not have been allowed to pitch two tents on one site and by the same token share the cost of one site. 

We then decided to look at the Paul Lake Campground at the Paul Lake Provincial Park about twenty minutes outside of Kamloops. The twisty road up the mountain to get there was fun to ride and the tent sites in the park were nice. The pit toilets and lack of cell phone service meaning no internet or showers that night made us turn back and get a motel room in town.

We were now in the real summer heat but that didn’t stop me from going for a run before supper.   

Sorry, no pictures for day thirty five. 

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Day 36-39


Day 36 (July 6)
Kamloops BC – Nakusp BC
336 km (209 miles)


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Day 36


I headed to the Outlaw Motorsports early in the morning and got there just before it opened. Paul stayed behind and joined me later. 

My old brake pads and brake rotor were removed and then the wait was on for the new parts to arrive. At 11:15 AM they showed up and after having lunch we were on our way at 1:00 PM.  I was very happy with the way I got treated. The extra $30 Cdn for shipping was well worth it.

We went west on the TCH (Hwy 1) to Monte Creek and then got on Rte 97 which was good with some traffic but not too heavy. Once we got on the other side of Vernon and on Rte 6 things got a lot better. Initially there was a lot of traffic on it but eventually it thinned out. It was a nice twisty road up to Needles where we got on a free cable ferry to cross the Upper Arrow Lake to Fauquier. The crossing time was no more than 5 – 10 minutes.

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Bikes on the Needles – Fauquier Ferry 


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View from the deck of the Needles – Fauquier Cable Ferry
 

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View of the Upper Arrow Lake from the deck of the Needles – Fauquier Cable Ferry


Once on the other side the road was nice but we now had to deal with the traffic from the ferry.

Approximately 30 – 40 minutes later we got in Nakusp BC and decided that this was it for the day. We really had no idea where we were going to stop for the night because sleeping there had not been in the plans. Someone on the ferry had suggested the municipal camping and we decided to go check it out. It turned out to be fine for our purposes. After setting up we spent a good portion of the evening chatting with a guy who was originally from Switzerland now living in Calgary. Paul cooked supper at the campground and we were done just before the rain came to meet us once more.


Day 37 (July 7)
Nakusp BC – Fernie BC
483 km (300 miles)


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Day 37


It would have been nice to have sport-touring tires instead of the fairly aggressive adventure-touring tires we had for the previous couple of days as we were clearly in sport-touring territory. Day thirty seven was no exception.

Before taking off we had a nice breakfast on Broadway St. in Nakusp at a place called “What’s brewing on Broadway”. It was a totally cool spot. 

Rte 6 along Slocan Lake was definitely one of the best motorcycling roads we rode during the trip. There were lots of twists and turns. We did have to overtake vehicles once in a while.

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Slocan Lake BC on Rte 6


In Nelson BC we got on Rte 3A. There was a lot of slow traffic out of Nelson that thinned out by the time we got to the Balfour BC – Kootenay Bay BC ferry terminal. Our timing was perfect getting there. We didn’t have to wait to board the M.V. Osprey 2000 for the free 35-40 minutes crossing of Kootenay Bay.

Back in 2005 Sue and I had taken this same ferry on my 2004 Honda ST1300 going the other way.

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On the M.V. Osprey 2000 waiting to cross Kootenay Bay BC


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On the M.V. Osprey 2000 waiting to cross Kootenay Bay BC


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Wave to the M.V. Balfour going the other way


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Kootenay Bay BC


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Kootenay Bay BC


The ride on Rte 3A along the east side Kootenay Lake was worthy once again.

In Creston BC we got on Rte 3 through Cranbrook and all the way to Fernie BC.

During the planning stages of the trip I had looked at the Yahk Forest Service Rd off Rte 3 which would have been a dirt / gravel road but when we got there Paul and I both favoured staying on the pavement.   

Once in Fernie we went to the Mt Fernie Provincial Park but it was full and the first hotel we tried was full also. We eventually found a room at the Powder Mountain Lodge for what would be our last night in Canada before crossing back into the US where we would stay until our last day on the road when we would cross back into Canada to get home.

To celebrate, we had a desert at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Yummy! I am getting hungry as I write this. 

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View from 2nd Ave in Fernie BC

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2018, 02:55:46 PM »
Day 38 (July 8
Fernie BC – Cutbank MT
415 km (258 miles)


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Day 38


Getting across the American border in the morning was uneventful.

I had done a lot of must do roads in the US previous to this trip but The Road to the Sun in Glacier National Park MT had not been crossed off my to do list yet. Back in 2005 Sue and I had attempted to do it but the early Sept snow put a monkey wrench in our wheels.  Paul had done it in 2017 in a car and warned me about the slow traffic. It turned out that he was right. 

As soon as we paid the $30 US each to get in the National Park it seemed that everybody in the US had the same idea on what was a nice summer Sunday. However, the stunning views compensated for the slow traffic. 

The following pictures are all from The Road to the Sun:

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Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park


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Paul’s picture


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Paul’s picture


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Paul’s picture

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Paul’s picture


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Once out of Glacier National Park we made a bee line for Cut Bank MT which is located approximately one hour east of the park exit. We wanted to avoid the crowds and high accommodation prices around St. Mary MT at the entrance / exit of the park. We were now travelling on flat and open lands on plateaus that were fairly high at approximately 4,000 feet according to what my GPS was showing.  We were also in train country.

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Tank cars anyone?


When I saw those tank cars I couldn’t help but think of the terrible tragedy of Lac-Mégantic in the Province of Québec that happened on July 6, 2013. On that day a runaway train made up of tank cars filled with crude oil barrelled down into the town centre where it derailed and exploded, killing 47 town residents and burning a good portion of the town centre. 

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On US Hwy 2 in MT


When we got in Cut Bank we got a tent site at the Riverview RV Park next to the river. Our neighbours were two retired Brits cycling across the US.

After setting up camp I went for a run in the heat and afterwards I went in a grocery store (Albertsons) to buy some food and drink. While I was at the checkout, helmet in hand and paying for what I had bought, a young man came in and asked me if the motorcycle in the parking lot was mine. When I answered yes he informed me that someone had just hit it. I immediately imagined the worst and hurried to get out of the store to see what had happened.

I spotted my bike lying on its right side and there was a women there looking at it with a young girl that appeared to be her daughter. As I approached her I could tell that she was shaken up and scared. She immediately confessed that she had hit the bike while backing up.

After she helped me to get it back upright I could not see any damage except for the crash bars that had been scratched and the right pannier (saddle bag) that had dislodged itself on impact with the ground and wedged itself between its bottom mount and the wheel. I tried to get it off but it was wedged too tight.

In the meantime the women wanted to call the police, her insurer and even her auto bodyshop. I assured her that there was no need for that as there appeared to be no damage. I would get back to my campsite and with some tools I would probably be able to get the pannier dislodged. If you recall, the same thing had happened with the right pannier on day one except that on that occasion Paul and I were able to dislodge it without using any tools. 
 
I told her that I would go see her at her place of work in the morning to give her an update and that nothing would probably come out of the incident. 

Our first day in the lower 48 proved to be an eventful day but it was nothing compared to what was coming a few days later. 


Day 39 (July 9)
Cut Bank MT – Livingston MT
537 km (335 miles)



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Day 39


The first thing I did after having breakfast is go to see the lady that had hit my bike on the previous day to let her know that everything was fine. I think she was happy with the news.   

I love the high speed limits in MT and I don’t mind riding on flat and open lands as we mostly did for a good portion of that uneventful day thirty nine.

For accommodations we stayed at the KOA campground just south of Livingston MT.

Paul and I had passed through Livingston MT in 2014 on our way out of Yellowstone National Park. This time we skipped Yellowstone as I was not interested to ride through it in the July traffic. 

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KOA Campground South of Livingston MT 


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Day 40-47


Day 40 (July 10)
Livingston MT – Greybull WY
497 km (309 miles)


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Day 40 except that Google Maps won’t let me go to Beartooth Hwy and Chief Joseph probably because Beartooth is closed for the winter


On day forty we were now in record territory for trip duration and still a long way from home. Paul and I had done thirty nine days in 2014 on our way to California from Moncton and back.   

Out of Livingston on day forty before getting on Rte 78 to Red Lodge MT we got on the I90 for a short stint and I enjoyed the 80 mph (129 kmh) speed limit.

Skipping Yellowstone National Park in July was an easy decision but we were not going to miss the opportunity to redo Beartooth Pass / Hwy and Chief Joseph Pass / Hwy. This time around the weather was better.

The following pictures are from the Beartooth Pass / Hwy:

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July snow on the Beartooth Hwy


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Paul’s picture


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The highest point is said to be 10,947. This picture of my GPS screen was taken just short of that.


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Can you spot the Beartooth in the distance?


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I believe that this is the Beartooth


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The Chief Joseph pass / Hwy while not as spectacular as the Beartooth Pass / Hwy still has some spectacular sections. Here are some pictures:

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Chief Joseph Hwy (Paul’s picture)


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Scenic area from the above picture


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Chief Joseph Pass


Our destination on day forty was Greybull WY. I had chosen Greybull on Rte 14 instead of 14A because Paul and I had already done 14A previously and Greybull had affordable accommodations. 

In Greybull we set up camp in the KOA Campground. It was probably the cleanest campground we saw on the entire trip. Afterwards, I went for a run that was shortened because of the heat. On our way in I saw 40°C (104°F) on my bike’s temperature indicator and Paul saw 41°C (105.8°F) on his. I was definitely asking for a heatstroke if I had gone on a regular length run. 

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2018, 02:59:20 PM »
Day 41 (July 11)
Greybull WY – Rapid City SD
622 km (386 miles) 


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Day 41


Our ride through the Bighorn Mountains was slightly different than it was in 2014 because this time we took Rte 14 all the way instead of riding on Rte 14A and then 14.   

Here are some pictures of the Bighorn Mountains area:

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Bighorn Mountains


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Bighorn Mountains


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Bighorn Mountains


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Will he / she scrape the exhaust pipes? (Paul’s picture)


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It was not the first time we saw such a sign on this trip.


Once we got on the east side of the Bighorn Mountains we stayed on Rte 14 to Gillette WY where we got on the I90 going east. This time around we decided to skip the Devil’s Tower.

I had programmed in my GPS some dirt / gravel roads in the Black Mountains of South Dakota but it was decided to skip them in favour of the Nemo Rd out of Sturgis SD which had nice mid to high speed sweepers. 

Our stop for the night was the KOA campground in Rapid City SD.

The pictures we took on day forty one were the last ones we took on this trip. We were now focussed on just getting back home and to do that we stayed on the Interstate system after that.

During the evening Paul e-mailed a Suzuki dealer (Midwest Honda Suzuki Kubota) in what he thought was Sioux Falls SD to see if they had a new rear tire for his bike and if so could they install it?


Day 42 (July 12)
Rapid City SD – Sioux City IA
724 km (450 miles)


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Day 42


It was sunny and warm in the morning after a bout of heavy rain during the night. 

When we got up, the Suzuki dealer had replied in the affirmative and Paul set up an appointment for the following morning. At that point I was not sure if I was going to try to make it home on my current rear tire or get a new one also.   

We got on the I90 East and for a while I was keeping the 80 mph (129 kmh) speed limit. It didn’t take very long for Paul to let me know that he needed fuel. It turned out that at that speed the smaller VStrom 650 is very thirsty compared to the bigger motor in my bike  (1,200 cc) that did not have to work as hard at those speeds. I slowed down afterwards.

When we got to Sioux Falls the street address that Paul gave me for the Suzuki dealer did not exist in my GPS. It turned out that it was located in Sioux City IA. It was not a big deal because Sioux City IA was in our itinerary. It only added about one hour of riding to get there and we still had plenty of riding time left on that day. Once we got there we went to the dealer to make sure everything was still on for the next morning. They confirmed that they would take Paul’s bike first thing in the morning.

For accommodation we got a room at the Elmdale Motel next door for the simple reason that we wanted to be close to the mc dealer. It looked like a dump with garbage (trash) all over the place but it was cheap and convenient and the AC was working. Oh well!  One night in a dump wouldn’t kill us. 


Day 43 (July 13)
Sioux City IA – Coralville IA
518 km (322 miles)


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Day 43


The bike shop took Paul’s bike first thing in the morning. While they were working on his bike I asked if they had a rear tire for my bike. They did not. The service manager then called the local Yamaha dealer and they did not have one either. He tried the BMW dealer located practically next door after they opened at 9:00 AM and they did have a Continental TKC70. I agreed to have it installed and someone from the Midwest Honda Suzuki Kubota shop went to get it and they installed it.

My current rear tire would have been very marginal had I taken a chance to make it home. My way of thinking was that it was better to have a new rear tire installed at that point when one was available and someone was willing to install it than getting stuck in the middle of nowhere needing a tire. 

By the time we got on the road (I29) it was raining. Eventually it stopped and we got on the I80 East. Just before Iowa City IA we were on a collision course with the rain and I decided to exit the I80 in Coralville IA in a hurry to beat the rain and we got a room at the motel 7 just off the exit.


Day 44 (July 14)
Coralville IA – Richmond IN
750 km (466 miles)


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Day 44


It was no surprise when we got up to rain on day forty four. It was par for the course except that we didn’t have to roll up our wet tents. The rain came and went during the day and at one point it was coming hard in a construction zone. We passed several of them on that Saturday and nobody was working on any of them. The speed limit was 55 mph (90 kmh) in most of them. 

At one point we were riding in a construction zone just west of Veedersburg IN on the I74 about one hour west of Indianapolis. The speed limit was 55 mph (90 kmh) and the left lane was blocked off with big barrel pylons in such a manner that it was impossible to overtake another vehicle in the opened right lane. I was doing the 55 mph speed limit and Paul was behind me when all of a sudden I got hit from behind on the left hand side of my bike. On impact the hard pannier (saddle bag) shattered and everything in it flew off and something that was probably in the pannier hit the top of my calf muscle. I saw a pickup truck go by to my left as my bike swerved to the right but the momentum kept it upright.

What Paul saw was a truck that veered and hit a couple of barrel pylons while overtaking him in the one lane construction zone. He then saw the truck go on to hit me while trying to overtake me. He was sure that I was going to go down.

The driver of the truck noticed that he had hit me and he pulled to the right hand side of the road and stopped. I pulled and stopped to the left of the barrel pylons into the lane that was closed because I felt it was safer there.

The driver came out of the truck and walked over to where I had stopped. He was smoking a cigarette and was shirtless. He asked me if I was o.k. and I said I thought so but that something had hit my leg. He then asked me about the damage to my bike and then if I was going to call the police. I answered yes to calling the police and I turned my back to get a pen and paper inside the right pannier to copy down some of his information. When I turned back he and his truck were gone. 

In the meantime Paul saw that I was standing and appeared o.k. He stopped to pick up what had flown out of the pannier.

When I realized that the truck driver ran I called 911 and gave the operator a description of the individual and exactly where I was. I was in a construction zone and from where I was standing I could see a mile marker that Paul had pointed out to me. The truck driver was a shirtless male who I estimated to be in his fifties driving a midsize pickup truck with an Illinois plate. I had noticed the plate because we were in Indiana at that point. When she asked me about the colour of the truck I couldn’t remember and Paul came to the rescue by telling me it was yellow.

The operator told me that someone would be over. After about 10 minutes and to my surprise the same 911 operator called while we were waiting. She informed me that they had a suspect and asked if I could go identify him? I told her that my bike appeared to be rideable but it would take me a few minutes to re-arrange my stuff because I was now missing a left pannier. She gave me an address that I punched in my GPS and away we went.

The suspect had taken the first exit off the I74 and driven into Veedersburg IN. That’s where he was stopped by a deputy sheriff who was just starting his shift when he got a message to be on the lookout for a yellow truck with Illinois plates driven by a shirtless man.

When I got there the suspect was in the back seat of the deputy sheriff’s car and there was already a tow truck there to haul the pickup truck away. When the suspect saw me he turned his head the other way because he did not want me to see his face. Nevertheless, I was able to confirm that it was him.   

Here’s what the deputy sheriff wrote about the incident in his report:

Driver of Unit 1 struck Unit 2 motorcycle in the left rear. Driver of Unit 1 left the scene and was located in town of Veedersburg approx. 10 minutes later. Driver had odor Alcoholic Beverages on his breath. Driver was jailed for OVWI, possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. Driver was also issued Universal Traffic Tickets for no insurance, open container and no valid operator’s license.

The damages of $3,788.31 Cdn minus a deductible of $250 Cdn were paid by my insurer because he had no insurance. They told me they would try to collect from him and if successful they would reimburse me for the deductible. Yea right, fat chance. 

During another conversation with the deputy sheriff after I was back home I learned that the truck driver had been without a driver’s license for 10 years and that he had 5 or 6 DUI on his record. No wonder he didn’t want me to call the police. 

The incident would have been a lot worse if it had been a direct hit.   

As mentioned above, I was still able to ride my bike after the incident. We took off and made it to Richmond IN just before the Ohio border and stopped for the night in a Day’s Inn. Needless to say that I was often looking in my mirrors in construction zones afterwards.


Day 45 (July 15)
Richmond IN – Wilkes-Barre PA
912 km (567 miles)


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Day 45


We got up early and after a quick breakfast we were off by 7:45 AM. This being a Sunday there were no construction zone delays and not a lot of traffic on the perimeter Columbus OH and elsewhere except in certain sections in PA where the big trucks are always an issue when you are on two wheels. There was no rain or wind that day.

Staying on the Interstate system we got in Wilkes – Barre PA at about 4:30 PM and checked in the Econolodge where we had stayed on previous trips. 


Day 46 (July 16)
Wilkes – Barre PA – Bangor ME
903 km (561 miles)


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Day 46


We got up early again and after a quick breakfast we were off at 7:30 AM. We stayed on the interstate system all day again and encountered no construction delays except for one accident delay of about 30 minutes. A bonus is that the I495 circling Boston MA which can be a real pain had no delays. Another bonus is that we didn’t have any rain that day and I love the fact that the toll booths to get on and off the MASS Turnpike have been removed. They used to be a real zoo to navigate.

We arrived in Bangor at 5:30 PM and checked in the Quality Inn next to the malls. 


Day 47 (July 17)
Bangor ME – Moncton NB
442 km (275 miles)

 
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Day 47


The fact that we got as far as Bangor ME on the previous day meant that we would have an easy day on our last day of the trip. I have done this stretch of road so many times that I could do it blindfolded.

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[/url]
Ending km = 38,336


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Starting km = 14,843


It was the longest trip in duration and distance that Paul and I had ever done. 

Final Stats

Days: 47
Hotel / Motel: 25 nights
Camping: 21 nights
Distance: 23,943 km (14,598 miles)

The year 2019 will probably see us do another trip to a destination yet to be determined.  It will definitely be of a shorter duration.


Offline Skee

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2018, 04:18:51 PM »
That’s one hellava post :thumbsup:

Wife & I are looking at photos.  She likes the moose.  (Maybe it reminds her of me, no, it looks like a female, but she likes it anyway.). I see there is lots of new money hanging in the dollar bar.

I show here your route and your photo and she says “I can’t believe they rode all the way.  They look like 2 old geezers.”   

And I say “That,s cause old geezers can ride.”   Trust you are smiling!

Epic ride report
The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible,
but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.   Vincent van Gogh

Offline miles

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2018, 04:28:31 PM »
Leon, I am very, very glad to hear that you escaped unharmed from that truck running into you.  What a nightmare!
Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries

Offline leeo45

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2018, 04:47:54 PM »
Wow, what a trip!   Fabulous trip report and pictures.    I kept waiting for the details of the drunk driver incident and feared the worst.   Very glad that you were able to stay upright and both you and the bike were only mildly injured.    Thank you for taking the time to put all of this together and post it.   

Online Cablebandit

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2018, 06:12:00 PM »
Now that's a proper ride report.

I envy the length of your trip. 

Online jimmy

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2018, 07:15:11 PM »
Agreed, that was some trip and report.

How do you find the time?

Oh ya, Retirement!!!!!

Online BMW-K

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2018, 10:39:45 PM »
I applaud you for finishing...the RIDE REPORT!   ;D

What a great ride.  This year was ruinous on the road to Tuk.  Lots of stranded riders!  Glad you made it as far as you did and more happy of the lack of injuries.

Thank you for the report!
IBA #:  20880
Damn.  Was that really a good idea?

Online Papa Lazarou

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2018, 05:43:49 AM »
what a tough ride-and great report
Putting the laughter back into manslaughter

Offline viffergyrl

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2018, 09:52:58 AM »
So glad to have finally set aside some time this Sunday morning with my cup of coffee to read your report. The ride into Haines was so beautiful with the pink flowers, sun, and scenery! Most excellent. Thank you.
Don't argue with an idiot; people might not know the difference. -Anonymous

Offline vfrmike

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2018, 12:51:48 PM »
great report!

Online bungie4

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2018, 07:22:39 AM »
 :thumbsup:
-Steve
SnowMexican
WWPD
choo choo mf'r.

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2018, 12:48:23 PM »
Thanks for all of the nice comments folks. 

Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #24 on: October 22, 2018, 03:00:55 PM »
I finally had the time to read through your report - it sounds like you had a nice time (albeit a bit wet)

I noticed that Bear Glacier isn't quite as close to the water as it was in 2004

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And those pink flowers are simply called fire weed, as they are the first plants to come back after a fire, or other earth disturbance.

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I am really surprised that the idiot that hit you was actually caught - good work!! And even if he never pays you for the deductible, he'll hopefully "pay" for being yet another road hazard.
www.Dantesdame.com <-- Rides! Rides! Rides!

Online kendenton

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #25 on: October 22, 2018, 05:00:58 PM »
Great read, thanks for putting all that effort into posting.  Alaska definitely on the to-do list at some point.  Glad you didn't fare worse with the accident!
IBA #37902

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #26 on: October 23, 2018, 05:27:38 PM »
I finally had the time to read through your report - it sounds like you had a nice time (albeit a bit wet)

I noticed that Bear Glacier isn't quite as close to the water as it was in 2004

visitors can't see pics , please register or login



And those pink flowers are simply called fire weed, as they are the first plants to come back after a fire, or other earth disturbance.

visitors can't see pics , please register or login



I am really surprised that the idiot that hit you was actually caught - good work!! And even if he never pays you for the deductible, he'll hopefully "pay" for being yet another road hazard.

When I was planning for this trip I actually went back, re-read your Alaska Ride Report and it was helpful. 

Online Mrs. DantesDame

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #27 on: October 24, 2018, 12:38:36 AM »
When I was planning for this trip I actually went back, re-read your Alaska Ride Report and it was helpful.

"The Historical Archives" :lol:

Having my rides on my website is helpful for me, too, to wipe the cobwebs off the memories once in a while. Glad that they could be of use to you  :thumbsup:
www.Dantesdame.com <-- Rides! Rides! Rides!

Online R Doug

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #28 on: October 24, 2018, 06:48:54 AM »
Epic adventure, Leon!  Thanks for the sharing such a wonderful report.

Things I have learned for planning this trip someday:

*  Fork seal socks
*  Mosquito nets
*  Remove front fender
*  Weather matters  :)
*  The Icefields Parkway never gets boring
*  Check rear mirrors always! 



Only motorcycle riders know why a dog sticks its head out of a car window.

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #29 on: October 24, 2018, 12:23:18 PM »
Epic adventure, Leon!  Thanks for the sharing such a wonderful report.

Things I have learned for planning this trip someday:

*  Fork seal socks
*  Mosquito nets
*  Remove front fender
*  Weather matters  :)
*  The Icefields Parkway never gets boring
*  Check rear mirrors always!

Good boy!  You are paying attention.   :)

Offline Blunder

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #30 on: October 24, 2018, 09:00:11 PM »
What a great ride report! I laughed, I cried, and I read the whole thing.

There's only one thing missing.

Where are the food pics?
Torque is cheap.

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #31 on: October 25, 2018, 12:22:19 PM »
What a great ride report! I laughed, I cried, and I read the whole thing.

There's only one thing missing.

Where are the food pics?

Food is important when you are on the road. Having said that I think I have only posted a picture of food once in all of my Ride Reports. Something to think about for the next trip as I know a lot of people do post pictures of food.     

Offline Blunder

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #32 on: October 25, 2018, 11:57:57 PM »
 :beerchug:

It's just a silly tradition we have here that pictures of the meals we have on our journies are included; something fun. Your report was epic. Who knew the Anchorage Harley store had backyard camping?
Torque is cheap.

Offline Baxter

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #33 on: November 05, 2018, 10:36:28 AM »
Wow!  I just read through this, what a great trip (minus the pickup driver).  Thanks for taking the time to put this report together.
I broke the internet!

Offline Acadian Rider

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Re: Alaska 2018
« Reply #34 on: November 05, 2018, 06:31:14 PM »
Wow!  I just read through this, what a great trip (minus the pickup driver).  Thanks for taking the time to put this report together.

Thanks Baxter.