"oh wow, It's just like a big, bad arse version of New Zealand!"
Hey there, My name is Clinton — I'm a kiwi guy who has been living in the US for 19 years now and gradually exploring chunks of it on annual bike pilgrimages.
Four years back a girlfriend and I dreamed about riding to Alaska on our motorcycles as one does; In the end the (now ex) girlfriend decided she wanted to do something else with her life, however my dream held true over the years. This season i was planning to finish my house and to finally do that alaskan trip "next year" but as the warm weather started approaching I decided "Screw it, you never know what might happen in the next 12 months, I'm going. I'm going, Now."
Well after 68 days, 13,700 miles, 4 tyres, 8 quarts of oil and 337 gallons of fuel I finally rolled back into my unfinished house weathered, hungry and brutally weary — However most of all I was exhilarated that I'd not only got to Alaska but experienced infinitely more than I'd originally dreamed about.
I've lurked on this board for 5 years now and really loved it as a place to hang out and listen. The ride reports have been especially useful for me as a planning resource and I've really appreciated the time people have put into writing them.
My "ride report" is going to be more like a collection of travel snippets really. To be honest I cannot remember what I had for breakfast yesterday so I'm not great on recalling the finer details of trips (unless the hash browns where especially delicious) I prefer to let photos paint things in broader strokes. Hope that's ok.
I'll add to this thread as I sort photos out. I hope if nothing else it acts as a catalyst for those who are putting that big trip off for whatever reason to GO. GO NOW! I'm really glad I didn't wait.
Here's a quick preview..
Great pictures. Looking forward to more!
Yeah, life first, then work! Nice intro, Clinton. This ride is on my "to do" list.
Great start :lurk
Gorgeous pictures, I am in.
Keep the pics coming :clap
can't wait until it's my turn ...
Great start Clinton! I can only imagine how much fun you had.
I'm glad I got a chance to meet you before your trip, and am looking forward to more photos!
im doing this right now quit my job finishing the extensive reno on my house (almost there!!) put it on the market and off to australia!! got a woman waiting there already (an awesome one) just need a bike a licence then im off exploring :lol3
awesome pics! when i come back to canada id like to head up the west coast so gorgeous i live in the praries (manitoba) and have seen enough around here either coast would be nice, but your pics sure do sway me..
nj > il > mn > wi > sd > wy
I knew that just getting from NJ to AK was quite a ride — I'd ridden the Northern states before so the plan was to just rocket out to the Yukon and Alaska as directly as possible so I could maximize my time there. I rode from my place in NJ to Chicago in one day (800 miles) which is a personal best for me (my butt is not made of iron) — from there I just pointed the bike down route 90 west to pass through Wisconsin, Minnesota toward the Badlands of South Dakota.
I chose Blue Earth, Minnesota to end a riding day because I just really, really liked the name of the town. I spotted an "Aztec Quesadilla Burger" on the local menu and remembered chuckling to myself "haha ok the food just got weird out here"
TIP: You can camp for free at the Blue Earth Fairgrounds
Nothing like waiting 522 miles for a turn —Lego spaceman and I are really excited. Hope it's a good one!
Taking a small rest under a big, big sky. — Route 90 Middle of Minnesota
Finally rolled into the Cedar Pass Campground, Interior, SD right in the heart of the Badlands. This is a really nice place to camp. It can get booked out in peak season though. Great views of the badlands, sheltered tables, nice diner/restaurant just up the road.
However best of all it's just a stones throw from the Horseshoe Bar located in downtown Interior, Population 67. I've been to this bar twice in my life and one cannot adequately describe the experiences that lay within. Real cowboys and indians, boot spurs, a handwritten menu scrawled on a napkin and pickled turkey gizzard snacks for the brave. Greg the owner is a super cool guy who would attempt to make you anything you ask for as long as it involved alcohol and/or a deep fryer, preferably both. As the night wears on the place starts to bear more and more resemblance to a Tarantino movie. Just go there!
My dear friend heather was just on the return leg of her multi-month bike trip and just happened to be in the neighborhood so we ended up having a beer or ten with the local characters. One of the best nights of the trip!
Heather gaining immortality by sticking a dollar to the ceiling
Next day Heather wanted to place one of her pieces of artwork at the Minuteman missile site at (43.931613,-102.159442) as part of her ongoing art project (http://thefrighteningandbeautiful.blogspot.com)
Afterwards instead of backtracking we took this dirt trail that looked like it was heading in the right direction — but really we had no clue as how it would turn out. It ended up being a satisfyingly rough narrow dirt trail with muddy "creek" crossings and steepish climbs up into areas of the formations that tourists never get to see. Humorously the trail is labeled "195th ave" on Google maps— Clearly they've quite a different definition of an "avenue" out there.
After battling 120 miles of bum puckering 55 mph cross winds on the SD plains I made it to Devil's Tower.
The canaries are still alive so the government is lying about the spilled nerve gas!
TIP: The Devils Tower View Campground on rt 24 is WAY cheaper than the overpriced KIA campground 3 miles closer in. It has a better view of the tower and the showers are super nice.
A strong start, and I look forward to more.
I don't know if you've experienced it yet, but after having done my first AK/Yukon trip a year ago, I'm itching to get back. Something a bit addictive about it... :hmmmmm
Wy > mt > id
If given the choice always take the road less travelled.
Riding Dry Creek Road, WY — closing in on Big Horn National Forest.
This guy started chatting to me about my motorcycle when I noticed his shoulder tattoo— It's at that point I realized I'm about a million miles from home - Gillette, WY
Number of ice-cold coke vending machine sightings so far: 0
Just before I parted ways with my friend Heather we exchanged travel tips. She said "Make sure you ride Rt 14 through Big Horn just west of Sheridan" and I told her about my stop in Blue Earth, Minnesota.
I made sure I followed her advice and at the end of Rt 14 I had to pull over and chuckle at the inequality of our respective travel tips. She'd just shown me the location of an mind meltingly good pass through snow capped meadows, pine forests and a snake-like road that plummets into a towering canyon where the shell falls dump 3,600 gallons of water each second into carved fractures of 500 million year old granite. I on the other hand had given her the location of a giant green man. haha.
Rt 14 through Big Horn National Forest just west of Sheridan, WY
Of course the other advantage of cutting through the Big Horn National Forest is it lines up well with traveling the northern route of Yellowstone Park (From Cody, WY 120 > 296 > 212>Grand Loop Rd>89) I suspect this way through is less trafficked than the roads further south but given I've only ridden it once you probably shouldn't quote me on that :)
American bison eyes up German bison. I'm praying it's not mating season.
Mammoth Hot Springs
In contrast to Big Horn and Yellowstone's stunning display of what nature can pull off when left to its own devices I then pulled into the fading town of Butte MT, home to the Berkley Pit.
The Berkeley Pit is a decommissioned open pit copper mine that's essentially a 1 x 1/2 mile hole in the ground filled with a 900ft deep cocktail of water, arsenic, cadmium, zinc, and sulfuric acid. The resulting mix shares the acidity of lemon juice and to my eyes has the perversely beautiful appearance of a freshly opened tin of swirling metallic brown paint. In fact the water contains so much dissolved metal that Copper can be mined directly from the water.
Fantastic start to your RR! Thanks for posting it up.
How close are you to "real time"? I'm trying to guess when the trip was from looking at the pictures. About a month ago?
Looking forward to more! :D
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