Texas to Alaska, and mostly back
Time to write the report, got the pictures uploaded to smugmug, and time to share my experiences. I will start with a brief summary, and then add a post for each day.
This is about the 8th long motorcycle trip (longer than 2k miles). And previous to this I've been fairly lucky, all things considered. This trip had it challenges, all of which I could have avoided. Lessons learned, and I will ride again.
So, for the interesting statistics, 4 (different) border crossings, 8825 miles, 2 provinces, 1 territory, 8 states, 2 tires, 1 tube, 3 flats, 1 low beam bulb, 1 chain, 6 hotels rooms, 7 camp sites, 1 "Cabin" over the course of 15 days.
The original plan was to go to Prudhoe Bay, got a set of TKC80's to put on the back of the bike. When finally packed the bike, and got on the bike my wife noticed I was using a bit more of the suspension than I might have wanted to, at least sitting still.
The first thing to go where the tires and spare tubes. Got back on the bike, and much better. So with some route changes loaded onto the GPS I was about 5 hours late leaving. Lets see what I can go with a set of Distanzi's
I did not make it to Prudhoe Bay, and am disappointed, but if I went up there I doubt I would have gone to McCarthy or Valdez, which were quite cool on there own. More on those destinations later.
so here goes it
Day 1 - N. Texas to Springfield CO
Off to the races, (days picture gallery)
Got off to a non eventful start, said good bye to the wife and kids, and got going. Heading west I saw a train coming towards me, Jake loves trains, so time for a few pictures.
Cool, eh! Well when the train had past I was head back to the bike and there was a decent gust of wind, something that happens frequently in west Texas, and the bike gets blown over. As Brian Dilworth would say "ONE!".
Well, got the bike up, and I guess I left my luggage key in the right bag. Well, when I down the road to a Sonic for lunch it was gone, argggg. At least I had a spare.
Continued along and up in the pan handle saw a few really good storms on the horizon.
And got a cool picture getting the rain gloves out
Well continued north, with a few LARGE systems to the west, and a couple of notable to the east I managed to split the gap, with only a few sprinkles.
Hit a motel, and talked briefly to few people who where really disappointed in the weather, guess the region is normally dry this time of the year and their family had a planned outdoor wedding the next day. Hope it dried up enough for them, at least the weather in the morning was nice.
Day 2, Springfield CO to some town south of Grant Teton Park
(Click here for the day 2 gallery)
So the weather in the morning was pretty good. Got a decent breakfast down the road from the hotel.
As I headed North towards Denver, more clouds, the a few more systems on the horizon, again, shot the gap, barely road on wet pavement.
Had some fun riding some of the hills
Turns out that pass was the high point of the trip, at least as far as altitude.
Went through the Eisenhower tunnel, both ways
And that was pretty cool.
Now, having toured on a ZX9r, Sprint ST, and FJR1300 being light on power was never a problem.
With my 260lbs, plus 100lbs of luggage, the KLR650 did present an issue I had never experienced before, having to down shift going up a hill to maintain 60-65mph :eek1
Anyway, saw some great scenery, and got some rocks for Abby.
After this pic was taken, I pushed it a bit, and actually had to hit the extra gas I was carrying. This was the only time during the trip I needed to hit any of the 1-2 gallons of extra gas I was carrying. Well after dark got another hotel room.
Day 3, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Canada
(For the days picture gallery click here)
Big day, good day. Started out grabbing breakfast at a lodge, all you can eat, amazing omelet, great bacon, fruit, OJ, way good. Turns out the chef works in the area all year round, summer time as a chef, winter time as a dog sled lead.
Grand Teton park was pretty cool, but with the traffic, it was pretty hard to spot and take pictures. This and Yellowstone are not really parks to travel through and take pictures. But I did catch old faithful.
But Glacier National park was truly amazing! Wow!
Well, in the park I had sporadic cell signal, and after leaving the park I was going to ride until I got one, well, the first one I got was in Canada
About 20 miles up the road, and after calling Stacy, I could the moon rising over a farm house
Day 4 - Through Calgary, Banff, Jasper and up to Grande Prairie, Alberta
(Daily gallery here)
Going through a town, caught the "Bomber Command Museum of Canada" on the opposite one way street, doubled back to take some pictures.
Would have been cool to go in, but opening time was hours away.
Wound up having breakfast in Calgary. Bought some socks at a Marks Work Warehouse, and headed towards Banff and Jasper.
Very cool parks to drive though, got a few shirts for the kids at the Roots store in the town of Banff.
More cool train pictures
And a couple of cool waterfalls
Had a pizza in Jasper, wow, that town is a tourist trap, you name it, it was expensive. Here was the view from the roof top patio where I ate
And the cool bridges started
Day 5, Grande Prairie to Tetsa Provincal Park
(Day 5 gallery)
Had to stop to take a picture of the big beaver.
Went to the W.A.C. Bennett dam. When I got off the bike to take a few pictures, a couple of the visitor centre staff came out to greet me. Guess they where board. Talked me into taking the tour, very cool.
Further down the road would up riding with 3 Harley riders. Met at a closed gas station, I was looking for a pay phone, hey needed gas.
Followed them up to the next town, one or two of them where pretty worried about their gas. Having an extra 1.5 gallons I followed them to make sure they made it to a gas station. They invited me to hand and camp with them, cool. But they said they where going to grab some beer. Don't have anything against beer, just not when I am trying to keep moving.
In Fort Nelson met 3 other riders, Woody and Cheryl on a Goldwing and Jim on a FJR1300. I would ride and camp with them for the next 2 days.
Good folks, and I finally met people who where more ride focused more than I. They where very serious. They also road with run flat sport car tires on the rear and rear sport touring tires on the front. Interesting set ups, and supposedly good for over 15k miles.
Day 6 - Tetsa Prinvcial park to just east of Tok, AK
(Day 6 gallery here)
Day 6 say the most miles in a single day, 910 or so.
The first stop was in Watson Lake. I had no idea to the Sign Post was as big as it was. The story goes there was a worker who got home sick, and put up a sigh from his home town, and it started to grown. Now the town maintains the park, wow!
Took over 20 unique pictures there, many more in the daily gallery.
Other than the "Sign Post", did not take too many pictures, Cheryl on the back of the Goldwing took a lot of pictures in flight. She will be sending me the pictures when they get back.
It was great riding with them.
Further on down the road we came across a couple on their bikes on the side of the road having some bike problems. The bike had run out of gas earlier in the day, and was now pouring gas out of the carb when running. The collective guess was dirt keeping the needle valve open. With a couple of well hones tapes from the plastic end of a screw driver Woody and Jim got the bike alive.
We grabbed some Chinese in Haines Junction. It was too early to call it a day, so we continued west. Jim/Woody where talking to a rider that had come from Tok and said the traffic had been slow and the border was really busy from 10-4 or 5 with RV traffic.
Anyway, we kept on going, and when it was time to look for a place to camp, not much was to be found. By the time we had found a decent place, we had crossed the border and where fairly close to Tok.
I definitely want to go along the stretch of road from Haines Junction to Tok again, the area around Kluane Lake was simply amazing. And I am looking forward to to seeing the pictures Cheryl took!
And today had the next oops, somewhere between the first and second fill-ups the straps loosened. In the processes I lost one of my dry and folding stool. In the dry bag was a borrowed air mattress, tire spoons, pillow, other tools, lantern, and one or two other things. As we passed through Whitehorse I hit Canadian Tire and got a new mattress, flash lights and tarp. Also replaced the front tire at the Honda Dealership. Turns out 30lbs of pressure is a bit low for a Distanzi front, and it had cupped badly.
wow, what a truly amazing view in so many of those photos! looks like you had a blast!!!
Nice RR TX. Keep it up. :clap
Great photos, great weather, great ride in the making. Ya gotta love it up there.
thanks for the rr. Im in.
Day 5 - Amendment
Forgot to add in a bit of detail about day 5. After I left the dam, the GPS told me of a shorter route. Turns out that route was partially constructed by an oil/gas and forest service road. It was about 40-50 miles of poor dirt road with trucks coming the other way every 5 or 10 minutes.
Here is a bridge along the way
About 1/2 way along the road I really wished I had taken the slightly longer route.
Day 7, just east of Tok, AK to ...........
(Complete day 7 gallery)
Day 7 started packing up the camp site
Then came the decision, wanted to complete the trip with a single rear tire, and so far the Avon Distanzi was doing great, I could not do it all.
Jim and Woody had to do Prudhoe Bay, it was the title of their mission. Was mine as well, but they also have more time to play with than I.
When we got to the info center in Tok we learned the Dalton and Top of the World HWY where both open, but only recently. But the Dalton had been closed, and as recently as 5 or 6 days prior they where turning back anything on 2 wheels except for full on dirt bikes, more or less like my KLR650.
So fresh after the slog on the forest service road I decided to head down to McCarthy, Valdez, and go back via Top of the World HWY.
So we split ways, Jim, Woody and Cheryl went off the Fairbanks, and I was off to McCarthy. Really enjoyed their company, and hope hey made it safe and sound to Prudhoe Bay, hopefully in the next week or so I will hear from them.
One of the things that I had heard is the north was hit somewhat hard from the gas prices of a couple years ago, saw a few places that had obviously hit hard times.
After turning off Hwy 4 onto Hwy 10 (Edgerton Hwy) any regrets where pretty well quelled. Might not be the Dalton, but the scenery was simply amazing!
The non-paved portion of the Edgarton HWY started with this one lane excavated channel
There was a bit of pavement on the other side, but not very much. The road had some washboard, pot holes, but there where sections where it was safe for the KLR to bop along at 60-70mph.
Going along I caught a glimpse of a large single lane bridge
Must have been 150-200ft long and over that distance in height over a river. Very cool, more pictures of it in the gallery.
A little bit later when i was stopped taking pictures of another bridge I was told that a bridge down the road was closing at 7pm for repairs. It was 4, so if I was going to see McCarthy I had to scoot.
Got to the town and crossed the bridge. Now the bridge is a "pedestrian" bridge, but they don't mind when motorcycles cross (this was me on the way out of town)
The town was really cool, had a couple of B&B's/Lodges, gave tours and such. Wish I had more time to explore, and I will be back, with more gas and more time. Here are a couple of the better pics of the town, more in the gallery.
Once I knew I was going to get out, I slowed down a bit and took my time to get a few more pictures, pretty happy with this one:
After I passed the damaged bridge, I got back to the old mining era railroad bridge
Also a few more of that large single lane bridge
All in all, the road was a lot of fun to ride down
Then I started to head down to Valdez to stay for the night. When I was about 30 miles from Valdez it started to get cold, dark, and I was tired.
Did not take to many pictures on the way day, but the scenery was absolutely amazing.
It is a must ride road if you are ever in AK! Here is one of the many waterfalls along the HWY
Got into town, it was wet, I was tired, I had no clean clothes and it had been at least 3 full days of riding without a shower, so I rented a cabin, cheapest place to rent in town, at about $120.
Had a shower, did laundry and had a good nights sleep.
(Many more pics in the day 7 gallery)
Day 8 - Valdez, AK to Dawson, YT
(Complete gallery from Day 8)
Here's a pic of the cabin
Took a lot of good pictures, Valdez was really cool. Would have been interesting to walk around a bit more, but still got a really good sense of the town. Looked to be a lot of hard working people here. They lived in a lot of rain, and snow.
Before breakfast I went around the town taking pictures, several of the bay and docks
Went and had a decent breakfast, and went off to see the salmon run. Tis the season. Again if I had more time it would have been cool to hang, heard a bear and her two cubs went down to snack on salmon every day around 2 or 2:30pm.
Again amazing scenery, and it turns out I was pretty lucky with the weather, they had just ended a streak of about 7 days of rain. Kind of amazing when you think about it, McCarthy is only about 150 miles away as the crow flies, but the weather was completely different, the Pacific/Gulf of Alaska and mountains must have a huge effect on the weather.
On the way out of town talk briefly to a Flaglady, turns out they set a snowfall record this past year, just like Dallas did, except where Dallas was like 14" of snow in a 24 hour period, they had 14' in a 48 hour period.
So, here I was, time for another decision, do I take the Ferry over to Whittier and head over to Homer, and then up to the Denali HWY???
After a check of the weather, Denali down to Homer all had about a 50% chance of rain, north it was, to Dawson, YT.
On the way out from Valdez I took a bit more time to take pictures
And back to Tok, AK. Hit the info center and found out the border on the Top of the World HWY was open from 8 to 8 AK time, it was about 4:30 at that point, they said it could not be done. I can do it.
Talked to a local officer for a few minutes, really liked the bike, and said I should be able to make it, so off I went. And was rewarded with more great scenery
Made it to Chicken, and was pretty comfortable that my speed over the paved sections ensure I would be sleeping in Dawson.
Got my wife a Chicken, AK t-shirt which she very much likes and continued on. The scenery was truly greatHere was a picture of a damaged section
With 40 minutes left, it was cool to see the border
It was great to be back in Canada, the tundra was very neat, very spongy to walk on, and the views amazing
Made it to Dawson, hit the "Top of the World" golf course to get a hat for my Dad
Dawson was a pretty cool little town
So waited for the ferry to cross the river
And all was well, until I got onto the ferry and realized the bike was not standing quite right, eck, the rear was loosing air. By the time I got to shore it was flat.
Wound up finding the RV/camping park in the middle of town. All of the tent sights where taken, but a young lady up from Whitehorse for the weekend was willing to allow me to squat. So I parked beside a K1200GS on the next lot, and set up my tent. Went off and get $400 out of the bank and checked out what was available.
Now, the flat tire would not have been so bad, if it was not for gettising my tire irons off the back of the bike 3 days earlier! :baldy
Time for sleep.
(Complete gallery from Day 8)
Unusual use of PVS pipe! Is that in the TouraTech catalog????
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