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Old 06-14-2008, 05:15 AM   #16
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have a safe and wonderful ride
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Old 06-14-2008, 07:39 AM   #17
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Bring it on!

And above all, have fun!
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Old 06-14-2008, 07:43 AM   #18
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A Great Trek

Not only was this a fantastic write-up, your route choices are excellent.

Bon voyage Gentlemen, and tufunga Safari!

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Old 06-18-2008, 04:28 PM   #19
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2008_06_17 Denver, CO to Riverton, WY

This morning I was still operating on Eastern Daylight Time, so getting up at 5:30 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time wasn't as much of a problem as it might have been. However, let me digress for a moment to explain a potential problem about which most of you are blissfully unaware. Those of us blessed with monaural hearing (i.e. hearing with only one ear) have a problem with alarm clocks. If I am lying on my side with my good ear pressed into the pillow, I cannot hear the alarm - or the telephone - or someone knocking on the door - or anything. It gets old explaining to people why I might "oversleep", so I just set the alarm and open the curtains so the sun can shine in, hoping that somehow I will wake up. Last night I put in a wake up call with the motel operator, and I set the alarm on my phone for the same time and I opened the curtains. I was on the ground floor, so opening the curtains reduces privacy, but I'm getting too old to care much about that! Fortunately, luck was with me, and I heard my phone alarm first, followed by the motel phone.

Before packing, I went to the motel lobby for a cup of coffee. There sat Doug, nursing his cup of coffee. It turns out he's an early bird, always getting up at the crack of dawn. Ray's the same way, full of vim and vigor long before the sun even thinks of rising! But, strangely, there's no Ray. Where might Ray be? I queried Doug, and he looked sort of embarrassed. It turns out that Ray had gotten up early and had ridden out to where his truck was parked (for the duration of our trip to Alaska). Could it be that Ray wanted one last moment alone with his truck? I don’t want to get sentimental, but it strikes me that this could be the inspiration for a country song!

We left the motel at about 6:45 a.m., and within two miles my humanity had revealed itself. I’m a big fan of GPS units, and I program into mine each day’s route. Today was no exception. At approximately the second turn, the GPS had us going the wrong direction! Dang ol’ GPS! You just can’t trust them! Or maybe…they do just exactly what you tell them to do. And yes indeed, the GPS was right and I was wrong! When I had made a waypoint on the highway we planned to take, I made it in the wrong lane! So the GPS had to figure out how to get us to go the wrong way before turning us around again to get us to go the right way! Fortunately, Ray had driven this road frequently and he picked up the potential error and directed us appropriately.

We rode on the Interstate for an hour and a half or so, finally arriving in Fort Collins. Even that stretch of Interstate was enough to remind me how I don’t like Interstates, especially with a 650 cc engine! When we got into Fort Collins, Ray exercised his authority as senior member of our little group and radioed instructions to Doug and me at the ultimate last moment telling us to turn in to a restaurant parking lot. I must have been at least half a block past the entrance when Ray called out, and Doug couldn’t make the turn either. So Ray turned in to the restaurant and Doug and I had to circle around the block. However, it was a good choice and we enjoyed a hearty breakfast.

Doug and Ray leaving breakfast...

From there, we picked up Highway 14, the Poudre Canyon Highway, beside which flows the beautiful Cache la Poudre River.

The first part of the highway is a delightful twisty canyon road. As we progressed down the road, we climbed from about 5200 feet to over 10,200 feet. The river is a very fast flowing river, some parts of which are suitable for white water rafting, many parts of which are not.

Ray dreaming about his truck...

As I neared the highest elevation, I was surprised to see my “Temperature” idiot light turn on. We stopped for a few minutes and then continued with no further problem…until the next time it turned on (once again while climbing). All told, the light turned on four times today. More about that later.

After the Poudre Canyon Highway, we proceeded north and northwest through high desert country. While this area is beautiful in its own way, I don’t have the artistic talent to translate this beauty into beautiful photographs! So we rode the rest of the day, seeing almost no traffic. For the most part, the temperature was very pleasant, especially at the higher altitudes. The temperature did rise to the high 80s at lower altitudes, but it was a dry heat, and not uncomfortable.

At one of our gas stops we had our “lunch”. My 18-year-old granddaughter had graciously given me some Luna bars that she didn’t like! Right on the box of Luna bars is their motto: Morning Nutrition for Women! The box I have with me is LUNA Sunrise – Blueberry Bliss! I ate one of these bars, and I felt femininity course through my very soul! I’ve always been an admirer of women, and now that I’ve experienced just a small taste of womanhood, my admiration is unbounded! To think – they have to put up with men!!! A superior life form being forced to dwell with scum!! It’s unthinkable! Ah, well, I’m sure I’ll get over it!

We got into Riverton, WY at about 4:30 p.m., and my first order of business was to take off the left side of my fairing in order to check the antifreeze level. It was slightly low, but not significantly so. However, when we checked the oil (which was changed by the BMW dealer in Charlotte a week or two ago), we found it to be markedly low. Doug said that for this particular 650 cc engine oil provides some degree of cooling as well as does the antifreeze. There’s no indication that I’m burning oil, and there’s no indication that I’m leaking oil. So we added about quart of oil and we’ll have to see what transpires tomorrow. And, for what it’s worth, today I filled up with gas three times, getting 67, 66 and 63 miles per gallon respectively.

Tomorrow we continue heading north. We’re planning to spend the night in Livingston, Montana.
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Old 06-18-2008, 09:01 PM   #20
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2008_06_18 Riverton, WY to Columbus, MT

We started out today underneath an overcast sky. However, by midmorning, the sun had made an appearance, and we rode in a generally northward direction through the high desert. We saw lots of rocks, lots of sage brush, a few cattle and a few small settlements – nothing very exciting. However, when we stopped at Cody, WY, we had the good fortune to encounter a local KLR650 rider. We talked bikes and trips and mechanical things, and then he dropped this tidbit: the road through Beartooth Pass was open! It had been closed last week when Ray’s son and his family had been here, but it is open now! For those who might not know, riding the road through Beartooth Pass is viewed as an absolute “must do” by many motorcyclists. We hadn’t planned on this because we’d assumed it would be closed, but this new knowledge necessitated a change of plans!

But first, we “had” to ride Wyoming highway 296 – the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. This is 47 miles of beautiful scenery and great motorcycle riding! The snow-covered mountains are majestic and inspiring, the tarmac is twisty and challenging, the air is brisk and invigorating, the sky is deep blue from horizon to horizon and the clouds are billowy and benign. Believe it or not, it was Doug, who has not even brought along a camera on the trip, who broke radio silence by suggesting that we stop and take a picture of the bikes with the mountains in the background! I think that the man may have a sentimental bone in his body!

John's BMW F650GS Dakar at start of Chief Joseph Scenic Highway...

Doug's Kawasaki KLR 650...

We continued our ride, making several stops along the way,

The Chief Joseph Scenic Highway...

Doug at scenic overloook...

Ray and Doug learn about Chief Joseph...

Ray, still missing his truck... If anyone could write a country song with lyrics that describe a real man's feelings towards his truck, I bet it would make Ray feel better!

Doug and Ray "sharing"...

Doug and Ray still "sharing"...

Doug's KLR650 is getting lonesome...

until the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway dead ended into Highway 212, which is the road that traverses the Beartooth Pass.

The road through Beartooth Pass… What beautiful scenery! What a great motorcycle road! The snow is just melting and the streams are full to overflowing. Waterfalls are at their maximum flow.

The air temperature in Cody was about 85 F, and at the Beartooth Pass it was about 35 F! We were dressed for 85 F!! We could have stopped every hundred yards to take pictures. On occasion, the snow banks beside the highway were 12 to 15 feet high; certainly they were high enough to cover the signs!

We passed by a lake that was just thawing – it was an absolutely magnificent sight!

A few miles farther along, at a higher elevation, we passed another lake, not yet even beginning to thaw. I’ve ridden the Beartooth Pass before, but never this early in the season, and today it displayed a special isolated, solitary and aloof type of beauty – as though it’s saying, “Admire me or not. I don’t care. I know what I am, and what I’ve got, and that’s all that matters.”

Doug has fallen out of love with his 2008 Kawasaki KLR650.

It has proven to be very underpowered for highway use, and for mountain use, and for riding into a wind. And when you combine all three of these into one ride, it proves to be a difficult, slow ride! Despite it’s being underpowered, it is drinking more gasoline than either my BMW F650 GS Dakar or Ray’s Suzuki V-Strom 1000. Going up mountain slopes against the wind is more than it can handle. So Doug is weighing his options. He really hasn’t confided in us what his options are!

I have regained a little more trust in my BMW F650GS Dakar. It didn’t overheat today, despite having ample occasion to do just that. And my gas mileage today was 53 mpg (while riding at highway speeds up mountain slopes) and 69 mpg (while riding the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway and Beartooth Pass).

We are spending the night in Columbus, Montana. Tomorrow our schedule calls for us to ride to East Glacier, Montana.
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Old 06-20-2008, 05:08 PM   #21
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2008_06_19 Columbus, MT to East Glacier, MT

This morning I went down to the motel lobby to get a cup of coffee. I had no sooner entered the lobby when I heard a loud voice saying, “There he is!” I looked at amazement into Doug’s still open mouth. He and Ray were sitting at the computer terminal reading my previous days posts. No comments on all the work it has taken to edit the photographs, write the journal and upload everything to the Internet – no, just one snide comment from each of them. “I did NOT fall out of love with my KLR!” and “I do NOT miss my truck!’ So let me set the record straight: Doug absolutely loves his KLR650 and Ray is thrilled to finally be separated from his Dodge truck! There! I hope the two of them are satisfied!!

Today was a travel day – a day to get from Point A to Point B. There were no particularly scenic destinations, no super twisty roads – this was one of those days that you have to put in to get to the good stuff! The morning was beautiful – crisp, sunny and clear. Although the roads were for the most part straight (with some intermittent stretches that we could really enjoy), we enjoyed the serenity and solitude as we rode along.

We did encounter stretches of significant climbing (sufficient to cause my temperature idiot light to briefly light up twice – so obviously that problem isn’t solved) and a LOT of head wind and cross winds. I remember Montana winds, and my memory hadn’t exaggerated the severity at all! The winds gave us quite a tussle for the better part of the day. It’s amazing how the wind will blow at you straight on, will blow at you from the left side and will blow at you from the right side, but it will NEVER blow at you from your back! The mountains and the wind had a significant impact on my mileage today – I got 53, 59 and 57 miles per gallon for each of my three fill-ups.

In the early afternoon we passed through Great Falls. We weren’t particularly pressed for time, so Doug decided to stop at a Kawasaki dealership to see if he could get a stock front socket. He had installed a one tooth larger front sprocket before leaving home. On North Carolina flat roads with no wind, this sprocket had worked well. For Montana mountains and winds, it had not. So we were at the dealership for a couple hours while they installed the new sprocket. We then rode another 140 miles or so to our destination. While the new front sprocket may help some, Doug still feels this bike is SIGNIFICANTLY underpowered for a cross-country road trip. But the good news is that this doesn’t make any difference in his unconditional love for his Kawasaki KLR650! He is setting a wonderfully fine example for Ray and me to follow!

When we arrived in East Glacier, we had confirmed for us the fact that the Going to the Sun road is closed. We had seen that piece of information on the Internet this morning, but we had hoped that perhaps another day’s worth of snow removal might make the road passable. Alas, this was not to be. So, if we’re going to ride on this road, it will have to be on our return journey.

Our motel tonight is clean and rustic. Rustic, meaning no amenities such as TV, radio, telephone or Internet. But it does have running water! My room is about 8 x 10. However, Ray and Doug are excited to have a separate cottage. I think it must be the honeymoon cottage! It does have two double beds, but in the rural northwest people are conservative, and maybe that’s the way honeymoons happen in this part of the country!

We met a couple who are traveling south from Alaska who have just been where we are going. They had some information regarding lodging, and with this information we were able to get reservations in both Canmore, AB and Jasper, AB. I was concerned about both of these locations, as on my last trip I was unable to get a room in Jasper and I got one of the very last rooms in Canmore. So I’m glad that’s out of the way.

Tomorrow night we’ll be in Canmore, AB, just outside of Banff National Park. The following night we’ll be in Jasper, AB, having ridden the Icefields Parkway.
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Old 06-20-2008, 06:21 PM   #22
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This is a very entertaining RR with beautiful pictures - a real pleasure to read. Sarting to remind me of "Wild Hogs"
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Old 06-20-2008, 06:29 PM   #23
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lol on the KLR and truck posts.

I've never traveled more than 600 miles on a thumper, so I'm watching this thread, so continue to report how the grade and wind effects the ride. With all your gear, you are pushing a large hole in the sky.

Enjoy the trip, and thanks for sharing your thoughts and I really like the Photo's and hope they keep coming.

Do you think tire selection would help the KLR on the slab portion of the trip??

Rock on

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Old 06-20-2008, 08:28 PM   #24
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Come On Up!

I left Asheville 12 days ago and I am now in Fairbanks. The weather sucked, but otherwise it is great! Read about my trip in Solo To the Circle. Tofmorrow the Arctic Circle!!!!!
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:47 PM   #25
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2008_06_20 East Glacier, MT to Canmore, AB

We left East Glacier, MT via Montana Highway 49. This is a gem of a twisty road which leads to Highway 89. Along the way it passes beside Lower Two Medicine Lake. With the mountains in the background and the lake in the foreground, one can make beautiful music with a camera!

Ray and Doug...

Montana Highway 49 – Road: 2 thumbs up! Scenery: 2 thumbs up! The only problem is that the road doesn’t go on forever!

Highway 89 north towards the border is likewise a very nice motorcycle road. However, we turned west on Highway 17 just before the border, riding this pleasant mountain road back into Glacier National Park.

The border crossing was absolutely uneventful. There was not a single vehicle ahead of us and the three of us had a pleasant two minute chat with the border official. This is DEFINITELY the place to cross the border!

American Highway 17 turned into Canadian Highway 6, and Glacier National Park turned into Waterton Lakes National Park. Other than that, nothing changed. We continued riding north on a beautiful mountain road, enjoying the sunshine, the beautiful day, the scenery, and the gorgeous blue sky, deep blue from horizon to horizon.

I don’t know why, but for me, skies are important, and the bluer the better. And if the deep blue extends all the way to the horizon (the way it DOESN’T in North Carolina), then that qualifies as the ultimate sky. Today we rode under the ultimate sky.

A windmill farm off of Highway 3...

We turned onto Highway 22 north towards Calgary. However, in Longview we turned west onto Highway 541 which morphed into a range road which again morphed into Highway 40. This is the Kananaskis Trail. This road goes through foothills with a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains. This is another piece of tarmac that gets 2 thumbs up for both road quality and scenery! Any journey through southern Alberta absolutely should include the Kananaskis Trail. As we were riding, we crested a hill and in the distance saw a massive snow-covered mountain. Of all people, Doug, who didn’t even bring a camera, shouted over the CB, “We need a picture of this!” We took one or two!

Apparently the KLR650 has a long side stand. When we stop beside the road on the right shoulder, I lower my side stand and get off the bike. Doug lowers his side stand, but it’s so tall that if he would get off the bike, the bike would fall to the right! He had intended to cut off an inch or so before he left, but he didn’t get around to it. Ray has the same problem. Before he left, he lowered his Suzuki V-Strom 1000 about an inch or so. This lowering has effectively made his side stand longer, and frequently he can’t get off his bike either when it’s on the right shoulder. On occasion, I’m taking pictures and the other two fellows are sitting on their bikes, keeping them from falling over!

My gas mileage today was 16.9 and 16.5 miles per liter. That translates to 63.8 and 62.4 miles per gallon.

We’re in Canmore, AB tonight. We rented a condominium for one night. Each of us has a separate bedroom! I’m sure this will be one of the few nights when we’re accorded that luxury!

Tomorrow it’s on to Banff and Jasper. Ray was in Banff 25 years or so ago; Doug has never been here. Both of them were enchanted with the mountains today. If tomorrow is clear, and if the sun is out, the scenery tomorrow should blow them off the map!
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:52 PM   #26
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thanks for the detailed updates

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Old 06-20-2008, 08:59 PM   #27
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Talking I love it!

Great story! Its great to read what your preception is of them and them commenting on "i dont want my truck" and "I like my KLR". By the end I bet the KLR decision will be truly revealed!

good work on the story!!!!!!
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Old 06-21-2008, 08:48 PM   #28
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2008_06_21 Canmore, AB to Jasper, AB

Words cannot do justice to the beauty and majesty of nature that one witnesses when traveling on the Ice Fields Parkway between Banff and Jasper. A biker today told us that this road has been ranked in the top ten of all scenic roads in the world. It is a frustrating road to travel because it is impossible to capture with photographs even a small fraction of its grandeur. For every picture I took today, I missed at least twenty, because there was no place to stop, or the subject was there for a moment and then moved on (like the bear sunning himself on the left shoulder of the road), or because that exact camera angle that I wanted was there only for a moment and I couldn’t stop in time, or (to be perfectly frank) because our ears got so sore from putting our helmets on and then taking them off fifteen or twenty times today that we simply didn’t want to do it anymore. But despite my total inability to record more than a miniscule portion of the thousands of scenic highlights available, let me show you a few.

We saw animals...

(and another bear and a wolf for which I didn't have time to take a picture), and mountains...

and lakes...

and rivers...

and glaciers...

and the Columbia Ice Fields...

(and an old snowmobile)...




Doug doesn't want to take off his helmet because his ears hurt from all the on and offs ...

The three of us...

My gasoline mileage today was 19 miles per liter, a rather non-standard measurement! That translates to 30.4 km per liter, or 71.8 miles per gallon. We didn't ride very fast today!

Tomorrow we head west. I'm hoping that we can get as far as Smithers, BC. There's not a lot of towns between Jasper and Smithers, and if we don't make Smithers, I think we'll have to stop in Prince George.
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Old 06-21-2008, 10:02 PM   #29
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Simply outstanding!!

What a wonderful introduction, one of the few times I ask my lovely wife to read anything on Advrider.

Thanks for sharing.

Just happy :)
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Old 06-21-2008, 10:22 PM   #30
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Awesome pics!!!

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