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Old 03-03-2010, 06:59 PM   #1
bisbonian OP
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
Oddometer: 1,037
My 2009 AK ADV, Naco Mexico to Fairbanks and a bit beyond

It all started sometime around August of 2008; I don't even know what brought the idea to ride to Alaska into my brain, one day it just sounded like a good idea. I made my way over to ADVrider and checked out a few Alaska ride reports and they all looked like everyone was having a good time so why couldn't I expect to have similar wonderful experiences? Karen and I headed up to Tucson and came up with a few maps, travel books and the current issue of the Milepost and we were pretty much set. I set my main route by seeing what looked like the most fun in some ride reports and it gradually came together. The plan was to keep it less than 500 miles a day, camp as much as possible and just have an epic trip.
While planning the trip I realized that I would have to go somewhere fairly close to my buddy Chapa's house in Idaho. I emailed him to let him know what I was doing and that I'd appreciate being able to stop overnight at his house and get a good meal before heading to the Great White North. A couple of days later another guy at work, Houston, comes up and says, “so I hear we're riding to Alaska!”
Excuse me? I didn't realize my one-man adventure was going to be open to guests!
Gradually the plan came together, the day got closer, and Chapa decided he couldn't go. Cool except that Houston took that as a sign that his girlfriend DD should go in Chapa's place.
Finally the day came! Well actually the day before I was to leave came. The plan was to take the trip through three countries, living literally less than 10 miles made this a natural. Originally on the first day of the trip I was going to shoot down to Naco, then head back north to wherever I was planning on spending the night. Karen suggested we head down to Naco the night before so that I could get that part of the trip out of the way without having the bike completely loaded down, in addition it would give her a chance to join me on the first leg of the journey.
Day -1 of the great 2009 Alaska Adventure saw the two of us on the Strom heading down to Naco and get a couple of pictures.

So here's the route map for the first leg of the journey. It's not much to look at and it was only 10 miles in distance, well we had to go back home as well so I guess it was really 20 miles...
We messed around the border for about 20 minutes and took a few pictures to commemorate the beginning of the journey!

We made it home in plenty of time for me to get mostly packed up and ready for the next step in the morning.
I got up the next morning and realized that I had way more stuff than I had space to put it in. I tried to be honest with myself regarding the amount of clothing I was going to need and finally put that dress shirt back in the closet. I figured that as I consumed the food that was in my luggage I'd get more space anyway so the tight quarters would only last a couple of days.

After a bit of trial and error I finally got everything packed mostly where I wanted it. I even managed to squeeze on the camp chair so I'd have a comfy place to set my behind after a long day in the saddle. Notice the impressive size of the tank bag, it would come back to make itself known before the trip was over.

Yes, here I am finally ready to go. It's already getting hot out and I'm wondering what I was thinking with these heavy riding pants and jacket on. As I stand here Karen asks me how far I have to go today, of course I tell her that I'd specifically planned for the first day to be a relatively short 400 miles.

I then pull out my Day 1 route map and show her where I heading out to, Jacob Lake which just happens to be 520 miles away. I quickly realize that it's actually 9:00 and I have to ride 120 miles more than I'd thought and I'd better get on the road!

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Old 03-03-2010, 07:20 PM   #2
bisbonian OP
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Location: Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
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So I'm off and running, so to speak, but I feel I'm way behind where I need to be by this time and I'm not even out of town yet.

Of course no matter how late I'm running it's a sort of tradition to stop at the top of the Divide and get a picture, c'mon it only takes a minute.

The first half of the day is just bebopping along through places I've ridden and driven a hundred times. It's not really all that interesting to me but then many people haven't been out here and seen any of it yet, so I took a few pictures.

It was hot coming through here, I tend to forget that as you get into Tucson and then further North to Phoenix you get warmer; what sort of screwy state is this? It's sort of topsy turvy!

Things were going well, I went through my mental checklist after a couple hundred miles on the road; not too tired, check! Bike running well, check! Butt not hurting (too) bad, check! How can it get any better than this?

Stupid self shouldn't get too uppity on the first half of the first day of such a journey. As I came through Flagstaff I noticed the skies getting darker. As the road turned the storm went into and out of my route, would my luck hold out?

About 20 miles past Flagstaff it started to sprinkle and the wind began to pick up, oh and I was running out of gas. I needed to stop for gas but the wind was getting so strong that I was afraid I would fall over if I stopped. Finally I had no choice and stopped.

As soon as I got back on the road I realized the storm was getting worse. The wind was coming straight at my left side and I had to lean into the wind, every time a car came by the other direction it would interrupt the wind flow and I would veer into oncoming traffic until I could regain control. The rain started coming down and I decided to pull over and put my rain cover on over my jacket. As I slowed and started to turn onto a side street I realized that the wind had blown my huge tankbag over against my right arm, when I tried to turn the bars they locked up against the bag. The next thing I know I'm rolling along the street and the bike is taking a nap. I pick myself up and take stock of my condition; other than my pride nothing seems to be hurt, now how am I going to pick this big beast up?
I start unloading all the gear that had taken me half the morning to pack. Traffic continued by as if nothing was going on (move along, nothing to see here!) and I was still wondering how on earth I was going to pick the bike up. Just as I got the last bit of externally packed gear over into a pile a good Samaritan pulled a U-turn and stopped to help me pick up the bike. Thank you sir! Even if I have now forgotten your name you deeds will live on. Looking over the bike I found I was the victim mostly of scratches and scrapes. As my adrenaline tapered off I considered whether this journey was really the best idea I'd ever come up with; after all this was the first day while I was still fresh and I was on a fairly nice paved road!
Of course I got the bike packed back up, put on my rain cover and headed back out. I rode in that same scary wind for another hour before the weather began to break. After the weather cleared up I got to ride for about 20 minutes with nice clear skies until it got cloudy again.

I could see the storms ahead of me but kept hoping that the road would take me away from them. Alas it was not to be and although the wind never picked up the rain was harder than ever.

As I turned onto Hwy 89A the skies began to clear. This is just a beautiful part of the country! I only wish that the sky would've been a little clearer to make better pictures.

The sun finally began to come out and the road began to dry. Wonderful time for it to happen as I really hate setting up camp and cooking in the rain, although at this time I don't really know that yet.

I rolled into Jacob Lake USFS campground with plenty of daylight to spare and prepared to luxuriate in the new bath houses I'd been told had just been installed. Well evidently in this part of the world a pit toilet is considered a bath house. No shower tonight.

I set up camp and had some dinner (stovetop with some canned chicken breast). I learned that I really need to put a little extra water in with the stuffing as it was soaked up immediately and the stuffing had the consistency of hard little chunks of iron. At least it was warm. I walked over to the gas station because I felt I could really use a beer at this point only to find that they only sold gas, can you imagine?

I came back to camp and set about assessing the damage to the motorcycle from my previous tumble; would I need to have Chapa order me up some parts?

At first glance the damage didn't look bad at all!

As I looked a little further I found that the upper fairing had been scraped up pretty well...

My saddlebag got scraped up, but probably saved a good bit of damage to other parts of the bike.

My highway peg took a good bit of the weight of the bike from the fall. This peg should stick out at a 90 degree angle from it's mounting point, I'd give it a good 45 degrees right now. Oddly enough I found that this new position was MUCH more comfortable for me. I began thinking about falling on the other side to bend that peg to a similar angle.

As the sun went down I realized that my solar flashlight didn't work so I went to bed. At least as the trip would wear on I knew that nighttime would be less of a factor.

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Old 03-03-2010, 07:36 PM   #3
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I awoke Thursday morning bright and early and decided to have a little breakfast; not much, just a cup of cocoa and an oatmeal bar. I slept really poorly last night and was cold for most of it. When I decided to get up it was 6:45 with temps in the mid 40's, but it was a beautiful morning. There's something about starting the day with a warm meal that gets you off on the right foot. I'd planned on getting everything packed up and on the road by 8:00, it didn't work out all that well for me but I managed to be gone by 9; I'll do better tomorrow.

Today I'm heading up to Willard Bay State Park, fairly close to the Great Salt Lake in Utah. This is a state I've never ridden in before so that's always exciting. In addition at the end of the night I'll get to put another state sticker on the bike as I'm entering my first real geographical change! This is more the mileage I was thinking about yesterday, 400 miles isn't too bad but I'll lose an hour.

The road wound through some higher wooded areas for the first bit of the morning. It was nice and twisty and the air had a bit of a bite to it.

Soon enough I got back down into the lower elevations and crossed a fairly wide plain. It was getting warmer rapidly and I made an excuse to stop in town and call Karen as soon as I got a cell signal.

It's funny, you really don't expect the landscape to change just because you enter a different state but that's the way it seemed when I entered Utah. The redness of the rock dissipated and more of the white/tan colors came out; a very pretty state, just different than what I was used to.

Just before I shot this picture, I stopped for gas. As luck would have it I almost repeated my tumble from the day before as I turned into the gas station and the tank bag locked me up; I managed to save it and I don't think I lost too many cool points along the way. Other motorcyclists have begun to notice that I'm loaded down and appear to be on some sort of camping trip. While at the gas station a group of guys on Victory's came riding in with a bit of luggage. One of the guys came up an asked where I was headed; when I told him Alaska he almost fell down. He said they were on their way to Jackson Hole for a Victory rally and were feeling pretty tough because their trip was going to last 5 days. Amateurs.

I wasn't quite so uppity 30 minutes later when I realized I had totally missed my turn-off and had to backtrack 20 miles, during which time I passed the Victory guys coming the other way. As I got on the right road the clouds began to look threatening. I decided that today I would pull over sooner to get my raingear on if it in fact began raining. Sure enough the rain started to come down. I began to realize that this rain was different than what I'd experienced yesterday; then it hit me, it's hail! It kept on raining sporadically for the next couple of hundred miles so I kept my rain gear on.

I stopped at a gas station up a ways to have my usual lunch of beef jerky and nalgene water when I noticed the view. Why can't we all have this outside our living room windows?

Utah was pretty good to me but it really did start to get a little warm in the afternoon. Of course it never helps when you hit Salt Lake City in the middle of rush hour. I really wish they'd standardize the car pool lanes so all states are the same. I used it but I'm pretty sure I used it in a manner that's not approved by the State of Utah.
I began to get close to Willard Bay and the excitement of stopping began to creep in. My directions told me that I should get off on exit 360 and I started counting down, exit 357...exit 362? What's going on? I pulled into a gas station and called the park for directions; sure enough exit 360 is correct, I must have just missed it. I get back on the highway the other direction and sure enough, there's no exit 360. Luckily just as my last straw was breaking I see a sign for Willard Bay at exit 357.

I pull into the campground, find my site and set up camp under a huge cottonwood tree. The sky has cleared up and it's a beautiful night! I cook myself a little Chili Mac then go have a look around. I'm right on the bay and the scenery is not to be believed. I check out the bathrooms and find they leave a bit to be desired but I guess I've used worse, or at least I'm sure I will at some point on this trip. At least there're showers.

Right next to my campsite I came upon this little rabbit. He was black! He really didn't look like a wild rabbit, more like someones pet. I wonder if he's heading back to his people on the other side of the bushes.

As the sun sets on the mountains it really lights them up...

Some guys are still out on the Bay trying their luck.

I walked around a bit more, got lost in the campground (how on earth do you do that?) and made it back to the campsite before it was full dark. Haven't given the flashlight another chance, just decided to go to bed while I could still see.

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Old 03-04-2010, 12:47 AM   #4
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great start..... Keep it coming.
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Old 03-04-2010, 03:40 AM   #5
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Looks good!!

Got lost in the campground? Well, don't go to the KOA near Mt. Rushmore! I spent half an hour looking for my tent and bike!

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Old 03-04-2010, 07:37 AM   #6
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I'd rather die living than live dying.

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