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Old 05-31-2011, 04:31 PM   #1
lookaught OP
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Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Lander, Wyoming
Oddometer: 197
Wink Solo Ride Pennsylvania to Anchorage, Alaska and back 2011

“the beatings will continue until morale improves”

Hello adv! This is my first RR , so I’m going to do my best to make this interesting. Just before I set off my brother mentioned the quote above and I think it sums up the trip to Anchorage in one awesome phrase. So read on, and I hope it provides some procrastination material to get you all through the long workdays until you write your own RR. I think a great motto to live by is: “don’t let it not happen.” It’s easy to push back, or plan, or procrastinate, or to listen to other people telling you not to go because it's dumb and dangerous... and soon enough you’re old and the trip has never happened. So get up, get out, and get going!

Overview: This ride is solo from Pittsburgh, PA to Anchorage, AK. The ride up began on May 18, 2011 and ended two weeks later on May 31. I covered 4,598 miles in 9 days of actual riding (average 511miles/day), plus a few days off for rest and ferry schedule. This is my first long trip (the longest before being about 100 miles haha), and it was jam packed with highs, lows, lots and lots of rain, some spectacular sights, and a lot of saddle time. My butt made it through fine, but my knees and ears are going to need a little R&R to get back to normal!

I expect it’ll take about a week to write up the report for the trip up. I’m in Anchorage until mid August for work, and then I head back east. I plan to go to D2D and also run to Deadhorse, and will add these later on.

The Route. Roughly planned and made up some along the way:

The Bike. I didn’t name her yet, but will soon now that I’ve had some seat time with her:

Fully Loaded on Day 1:

2010 BMW F800GS 30th Anniversary
-BMW engine guard
-Micatech panniers
-SW Motech crash bars
-SW Motech center stand
-Rivco Highway Pegs
-MotoOverland top plate
-Rotopax 1gallon
-40L vinyl dry bag
-12 pack cooler
-lots of Rok Straps
-and my own custom made stainless steel kickstand footpad

I brought a few clothes, a shit ton of tools and only ever needed the torx that was in the under-seat kit (ironic, but better to be overprepared than under right?), tie downs, windex, my computer, iphone, car GPS with a generic waterproof holder, tent, other various camping accessories. Decided to skip the stove because I stayed with friends and made some new ones along the way.
And a couple of highlight pictures of what is to come:

lookaught screwed with this post 06-01-2011 at 12:52 AM
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Old 05-31-2011, 04:37 PM   #2
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great pictures...we are heading up that way June 29th....
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Old 05-31-2011, 04:50 PM   #3
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Nice pics .... thanks
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Old 05-31-2011, 05:00 PM   #4
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I'm a sucker for an Alaska RR.

Thanks for the pics.
Exposure to risk is an inescapable part of life.
- Max Burns
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:02 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by WNCSte View Post
I'm a sucker for an Alaska RR.

Thanks for the pics.


Four Wheels Move the Body, Two Wheels Move the Soul.

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Old 05-31-2011, 10:24 PM   #6
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The Bike:

My friend Dan stopped over and shot some really high quality photos of the bike the day before Ieft. These alone have pretty much convinced me to buy an SLR for the rest of my time in AK because the point and shoot I borrowed from my dad is just not cutting it for distance shots.

lookaught screwed with this post 05-31-2011 at 10:39 PM
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Old 06-19-2011, 06:19 PM   #7
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Great story and pics
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Old 06-19-2011, 11:33 PM   #8
lookaught OP
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Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Lander, Wyoming
Oddometer: 197
Day 10 - rest day in Prince Rupert
0 miles.

Today I slept in until close to 10am, the latest I've slept in a long while. When I woke up it was cloudy and raining so I didn't get moving until noon. By moving, I mean hungry and out in search of lunch.

View from the window of the hostel:

Somehow I forgot to take a pic of the front of the hostel, but this was the back:

Cut through an interesting little park that was in a depression in town:

The tourist district:

Got some lunch as a sushi place around to the right of the street in the pic above. It was very good, though kind of expensive. Then got a coffee from Cowpucchino cafe and walked into the business district.

Another shot of the same area from a bit farther away:

Not quite sure what this is... looks like a movable platform from a drilling rig but as far as I know they don't drill for anything out here:

Some more harbor:

Crazy parking garage architecture at a hotel:

Didn't get any more pics today. I watched some of the Vancouver hockey game, talked with other people at the hostel, got food for the ferry ride from Safeway, and went to bed early. The ferry leaves at 9am, so I've got to be there by 7am...

Tomorrow, the Alaska Marine Highway to Juneau and then onward to Haines, AK.
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Old 06-20-2011, 10:12 PM   #9
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Started reading this report because we are boarding the ferry tomorrow. Hoped to get a bit of an insight as to what to expect.

Great read so far, we are on day 4 of 14. My lovely wife's first big trip. No camping though, she draws the line at that.

Thanks again for the write up.

Sick and Stupid people keep me employed
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Old 06-20-2011, 11:49 PM   #10
lookaught OP
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Day 11 & 12 - Prince Rupert, BC to Juneau, AK, then on to Haines, AK
? miles - all day and night on the ferry

*Get ready for excessive amount of pictures*

The Alaska Marine Highway is the only method of travel aside from airplanes for the inside passage, a narrow maze of inlets and islands along the Alaskan panhandle. I debated long and hard whether it was worth the extra cost (I am in school after all, I try to save money when I can (just not when buying motorcycles lol)), but this trip was worth the money.

Today started at 6am when I woke up, took a nice hot shower, packed the bike and blasted the 6km down to the ferry port with no gloves. Holy shit what a mistake, it was in the 30's. I was supposed to be queued three hours prior to departure, meaning 6am, but I arrived at 7:30 or so and was greeted with a massive line because the power to the port had failed somewhere in the woods (likely an eagle touching the lines is what BC Hydro told me). No ticketing, no heat in the ticket office, no way to get the gangway lowered to offload the ferry. Just sitting around waiting for hours. I was very pleased that I didn't arrive at 6am

It was not raining, so to hell with other people complaining about the wait, I was as happy as bump on a log.

Lined up and ready:

mmm, pollution:

The ferry, the Matanuska:

Finally got on board around 10:30am. Tied down at the very front of the boat:

Looking the other way:

View from the "Solarium Deck" aka the poop deck ():

Home for the next 26 hours or so:

Couple of shots leaving the harbor, sans narration:

This is Seth, another student who is starting grad school in the fall and like me, headed north for the summer. Why the hell not?

Yours truly in the eerie yellow glow of the solarium, then then waiving the banner of the greatest sports team in the world!

Smokin' tire!

Does this even float?

Ketchikan. You may have noticed that the sunshine is long gone. I was reading on deck and though "well, it's sunny and I should be out enjoying this, I'm probably going to fall asleep and will wake up to shitty weather" Sure enough... no more sun :

Whatever. It's not raining, I'm still happy!

I LOVE cargo and container ships. I don't know why. But hey, this is my RR so here's some containers!

A massive forklift. Super cool:

These next two pics have a story. The guy on the boat is standing next to a girl in the hoodie. They are both deckhands and have the job of tossing a little lightweight guide rope to the guy on the dock in the next pic. THis is attached to the massive ropes that hold the boat to the dock (forgive my retardation regarding boat terminology). The man on the deck lines up and heaves his line toward the deck, a massive whole body effort that could not have duplicated a 6 year old girl with more precision. It was downright embarrassing. The girl was doubled over laughing, the guy on the dock was imitating him, it was great Then the girl threw a perfect toss right to the dock. I got most of this on video. Just one of those hilarious moments in life where "you just had to be there"

Back on the water:

Passed the rest of the evening chatting with my fellow shipmates. Seth, a nice Australia couple named Gavin and Jan who I met at the hostel the day before, some people from D.C., and a nice lady from Palmer, AK (just north of Anchorage) named Nancy. Soon enough it was time for bed.

I highly recommend camping on the solarium deck. It's awesome, even at night. Some people slept in the recliner/movie room inside the middle of the ship, but that doesn't give you the smells and sounds of the ocean. Skip the staterooms, there is no point.

Getting ready for bed: this is Seth:

Me. Looking way to excited to be going to sleep but hey, this is the most comfortable "camping" of my life!:


Morning: Very cloudy

Pulled into Juneau around 11:30am:

Had to switch boats, so I'm back on dry land! Me, Seth, Gavin and Jan all drove to downtown to get lunch with my friend Erin, who is in Juneau for the summer. She took this pic of me. Juneau looks super cool, it is right at the base of the mountains and edge of the ocean... very dramatic.

Pulling away from Juneau on a 4.5 hour trip to Haines. I think this was the Mendenhall Glacier, but I'm not positive. What I do know is that little spot of blue sky was about to become a hell of a lot bigger:

I was honestly a little depressed that it was so cloudy, and pissed off at myself for not enjoying the sunny weather the day before. But dreary weather never lasts forever, and this particular afternoon I hit the jackpot:

I'm going to stop writing and just let the pics do the talking for a bit. 4.5 hours, 20+ humpback whales, too many views to remember, a lot of great conversation with fellow shipmates... it was a fantastic afternoon, one that I will not soon forget:

Pulling into Haines. If I remember correctly, Nancy told me that on the far left of the photo is the harbor of Haines, and the far right is the narrow inlet (fjord?) that leads to Skagway.

Pretty pictures can only keep your interest for so long... the real beauty of traveling solo is that you get to meet interesting people along the way from all over the country and world. They make the journey much, much better, and if you find yourself on the ferry, or anywhere else for that matter, make the effort to say hi to someone and enjoy some conversation.

Gavin and Jan, the aussies. They had been on the road in the US and Canada for more than a month. Jan was like my mother away from home... as soon as I drove five damn feet on my motorcycle without a helmet on I was accosted and scolded lol. I assured her that it was not the norm, I was just getting the bike off the boat at a treacherous 5mph. They had taken a train from Banff to Prince Rupert, and Jan pointed out that it took forever because "We (the train) had to keep stopping for beers!!" I was like whaaaat? That's amazing! Well, she actually said "bears" not "beers" lol. Damn accents!

Anyway, if you guys are reading this, it was great to meet you and the next time I'm in Australia I'll drop you a line.

And here is Nancy. She was the first female park ranger in Alaska, and had been living in AK for a long time. She was really cool to talk with and we discussed Alaska, oil and gas drilling, Sarah Palin, natives, whales, the polarized nature of Alaskans regarding natural resources... very interesting person. Nancy last weekend I went to Denali and had weather that rivaled the weather on this boat ride... AMAZING. I can see why you came here and never looked back.

All good trips must come to an end, and my journey on the ferry ended in Haines at 8:45pm. I said goodbye to everyone, hopped on the bike, and voila. Or as I like to spell it, wah lah!

Nancy had suggested camping up the river a little ways, but I opted for the beach. Can't beat this view!

For anyone interested, this campsite is about 1 mile from the ferry terminal on your way to town. A cop passed by three or four times and said nothing so I assume it's fair game to camp there. There is an outhouse, fire pit, and a tree to hang your bear bag. Highly recommended!

So ends Day 12. I'm finally in Alaska . Less than 800 miles to go and I'll be in Anchorage, which is good because I'm already late for my job hahaha. Tomorrow, onward to Haines Junction, then Tok, and beyond...

lookaught screwed with this post 06-21-2011 at 12:24 AM
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Old 06-21-2011, 12:04 AM   #11
lookaught OP
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Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Lander, Wyoming
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Originally Posted by OldMedic View Post
Started reading this report because we are boarding the ferry tomorrow. Hoped to get a bit of an insight as to what to expect.

Great read so far, we are on day 4 of 14. My lovely wife's first big trip. No camping though, she draws the line at that.

Thanks again for the write up.

I guess this last post is a few hours late for you, but better late than never!

Enjoy the ride!

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Old 06-21-2011, 07:14 AM   #12
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Been following from the start, looking forward to more! Thanks for sharing!
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