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Old 05-12-2014, 02:19 PM   #1
GaryAK OP
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Laugh Sneaking Out of Alaska (and back) Reloaded - Gary and Deb 2014

Prologue
Reloading for a continuation of our 2013 ride: Sneaking Out of Alaska (and back) - Gary & Deb - 2013

Bringing things up to date – we intended to continue last year’s ride into a 10-12 day ‘Northern Loop’ (Fairbanks, Top of the World Highway, Dawson, Carmacks, Campbell Hwy., Ross River, CANOL Rd., Teslin, Skagway, Haines, Haines Junction, Tok, McCarthy, Valdez, ferry to Whittier, and home to Anchorage. Two days before our August departure, a family medical emergency necessitated flying to California for six weeks, and by then, our riding season was over. No regrets, family comes first – always.

This Year’s Ride
A month – May 19 to June 26, 8-10k miles. This year’s ride will be more about exploring, wandering, and being road bums. We’ll board the Alaska Marine Ferry in Whittier, Alaska on May 19 for a 4 and day sailing to Bellingham, WA. This route will cross the Gulf of Alaska in sight of land and then down the awesome Inside Passage. After we arrive in Bellingham, our general plan is a big loop to the Midwest over the course of a month, and back to catch the ferry in Bellingham for the trip home. No real plan, but generally, we’re thinking of checking out Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Black Hills, Badlands. Then up to Minneapolis and down to Platteville, WI. and then start a general arc back. We’re thinking of picking up some of the restored sections of Route 66, Colorado, Utah, North Rim of the Grand Canyon. If we still have discretionary days at that point, we would like to do Death Valley and on to the California Coast and repeat some of last year’s ride – we really liked that. Otherwise, if time gets tight, we’ll slab it North to make our Ferry departure in Bellingham. Weather and other conditions might dictate changes, so we’ll adjust accordingly. We’ll also do a ‘part 2’ to this ride in July or August – it will be the Northern Loop into Canada we were going to do last year of 10-12 days.

Trip Prep
Was quite humbling as to how much stuff we took last year that we should have left home. A year’s worth of experience wiser, we have a much better idea of what to pack. We’ll be leaving our camping gear behind – only used it once on last year’s ride (especially after coming down with summer colds), but had to handle it every day. That’s one less dry bag and more room in the cases. We will take our Jetboil – we use that a lot – nothing like a hot cup of good tea - often. Clothes, electronic gear – cameras/computers, snacks, bike maintenance items, and tools mostly. I’ll post up our SPOTwalla link just before we depart.

Bike Prep
They were in good shape, but I did a few things toward reliability. On Deb’s DR650, I squared away the neutral sensor fix, installed an upgraded 250 watt stator, engine case armor, new brake pads, new sprockets and chain. New Heidenau K-60 Scout tires on both bikes. Picked up the new Dynaplug Pro Extreme tubeless tire repair kit and the Dynaplug Inflator – both items look like a step up from previous technology.

One Week to Showtime
We depart on the Alaska Marine Ferry M/V Kennicott out of Whittier, AK. on May 19 - one week from today. As mentioned, I'll post our SPOTwalla link before then - for family, friends, and inmates. We've been trying to do as much local riding as possible to get in riding shape. Rather than getting wordy - here are some trip prep pics:

Photo Interlude:


Weather has been phenomenal - we're on our way to a picnic in Turnagain Pass.


Through the helmet intercom (SENA), Deb wanted me to get a pic of this sign about the 'no gas' - not bad for a highway speed pic.


We saw this along the way.


Neat picnic area.


Still some snow in Turnagain Pass.


Yes - we have missed this - why we bought motorcycles.


On with the picnic!


If you ever find yourself in Turnagain Pass - this rest area on the Northbound Traffic side, but is also accessible from the Southbound lanes, is a really cool moto-friendly place with 360 degree awesome vistas.


Good times - now off to more riding.


Under the guise of 'testing' our motos - we went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Was warm, so I shed my gear and dug some comfy shoes out of the cases before going inside.


Okay, ready for some chow!


We sat where we could watch the bikes.


After dinner gearing up.

Thoughts - Why the Ferry?
So far the bikes and gear have checked out great. We're looking forward to the ferry egress/ingress on this year's ride - basically, Whittier, AK. is just an hour's ride from our house - this will allow most of our ride to be on roads new to us without having to spend 7-10 days riding each way through Canada to get to and from the lower 48 states. Don't worry Canada, we love you immensely, and we have a second Northern tour in July/August where you are the prime player.

People ask us about the cost of this type of trip, but my best answer is to check out the Alaska Marine Highway site - because there are actually three costs - 1) us as passengers, 2) the bikes, and 3) we opted for a cabin. Cost can be reduced by not getting a cabin and sleeping on the solarium deck for free. At first glance the cost might seem a bit spendy, but one would have to consider the gas, lodging, wear and tear on tires and bikes, and the reduced time afforded by traveling the ferry. So yes, costs a little more than over-the-road travel to and from Alaska, but it is generally faster, less weary (especially in bad weather years), and a first class cruise ship experience. We did the Alaska Hwy. through Canada last year and loved it. This year's ferry trip will put us right to the new-to-us roads we crave.

Stay tuned - more to come...and Deb will start posting up soon, as well.

Gary

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Old 05-12-2014, 04:06 PM   #2
907Glen
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Safe travels my friends!!
Can't wait to read about your adventures
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Old 05-12-2014, 04:30 PM   #3
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In!

Safe travels!

--Andrea
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:04 PM   #4
AlaskaSolstice
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picnic at Turnagain Pass

Gary & Deb,

I must have just missed you. I rode up there and had lunch at the same spot on the same day! My camera time-stamp says I was having lunch at 12:30pm, looks like at the same table. Anyway you guys have a great trip. Hope this awesome weather we're having holds out. I'll be heading down (the Alcan) as well, leaving early to mid June.

Gary (another Gary in AK)

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Old 05-13-2014, 01:28 PM   #5
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Turnagain Pass...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlaskaSolstice View Post
Gary & Deb,

I must have just missed you. I rode up there and had lunch at the same spot on the same day! My camera time-stamp says I was having lunch at 12:30pm, looks like at the same table. Anyway you guys have a great trip. Hope this awesome weather we're having holds out. I'll be heading down (the Alcan) as well, leaving early to mid June.

Gary (another Gary in AK)

Hey Gary -

We were there after you - probably mid to late afternoon.

So you are riding down the Alcan? On your Wee? Cool. A couple recommendations - Thompson's Eagle Claw in Tok is a motorcycle campground - inexpensive and high on the cool factor - one of those well done places, almost whimsical. On your way into Tok, about a mile before the stop sign at the 'T' intersection, turn left (North) onto Borealis St., and Thompson's is about a block on the left. If you are looking for lodging in Watson Lake, there are three 'regular' type motels, but we like The Air Force Lodge - rich in history, fairly inexpensive, nice owners, quiet, no food there - but plenty nearby. We scored some excellent sandwiches and fruit tubs at the grocery store down the street.

Have a great trip!

Gary
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Old 05-13-2014, 05:36 PM   #6
soph9
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Have a great and safe trip...
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Old 05-15-2014, 02:25 PM   #7
GaryAK OP
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Humble thanks...

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Have a great and safe trip...
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Thanks Leslie - we'll be just a few days behind you and probably be crossing your path from time to time, and with any luck, the planets will align and we'll meet up on the road.

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--Andrea
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Yo Andrea! Thanks for having our back and stay safe this racing season & don't beat Don too bad.


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Safe travels my friends!!
Can't wait to read about your adventures
Thanks Glen - wish you and Mitchell were going with us. We'll do some recon on this one and maybe a future ride together?

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Old 05-15-2014, 02:51 PM   #8
manshoon
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Gary,

do you plan on motel'in it all the way with reservations at each stop or are you just going to wing it, as it comes and goes ?
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Old 05-16-2014, 03:05 AM   #9
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Winging It...

Quote:
do you plan on motel'in it all the way with reservations at each stop or are you just going to wing it, as it comes and goes ?
Hey man,

Our 'whim' this year is to wing it in hotels, B&Bs, friends, and whatever presents.

Of course, this is just based on last year's ride where we only camped once in 4 weeks - having caught summer colds that lingered, camping just didn't happen. Yet, we had to schlep the sleeping bags off and on the bikes every day. So, we figured to try to go as light as possible this year and see what happens. If it turns out we find lots of neat camping opportunities, we'll find big store and buy bags, air mattresses, and a cheap tent.

So far, we're noticeably lighter in the gear department, but camera gear, electronic equipment, and tools, seem to add to the de facto 'dry' weight of an ADV bike. I'm thinking the correct amount of stuff to take lies somewhere between traveling only with a tank bag and a credit card - and with what we are taking.

Thanks for coming along...
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Old 05-18-2014, 01:00 PM   #10
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Moto Tech...

Launching tomorrow -

So in the mean time, someone asked in a PM about mechanical prep on the bikes - so here is some of the pre-trip wrenching:

DR650 Neutral Sensor Fix - there have been some reports the two screws holding the Neutral Sensor Unit loosening and getting caught in the moving parts of the engine, 'grendading' it. Not a big deal to pull off the clutch side case. Red thread locker would have probably sufficed, and this is probably over-kill, but no more worries about these screws grenading the engine.


Countershaft Seal Retainer - Thumpers are more prone to pushing out the countershaft seal, so this nifty seal retainer solves that potential issue.


DR650 Stator Upgrade - As more accessories and electronics make our moto-lives easier, the paltry stock 200 watt stator needed an upgrade - thankfully, a 250 watt stator is now available for the DR650.


Tires - Heidenaus all around...


Brake Pads -


A New Sprocket for my Weestrom -


Lowered the Denali Lights -


Cee Bailey's Headlight Protectors for both bikes -




New Chain, Sprockets, and Bearings for Deb's DR650 -


Case Armor for the DR650 -




Got this strategy from one of Neil Peart's books - tape a business card inside each case, in the event of a lost or stolen case, having this information increases the odds of getting a case back. (In his book, Neil Peart looses a pannier on his Beemer while underway and never gets it back.)


A Wind Chill chart couldn't hurt for the black art of layering -


Our Itinerary -


Bikes are packed and ready - one more sleep and we'll be doing this for the next 38 days -



Our ferry to Bellingham departs Whittier tomorrow night @ 2345 hrs. - loading starts @ 2045 hrs. - so we'll probably time our departure from home around 5-6 pm in order to make the Whittier Tunnel (which is on the half-hour for Whittier-bound traffic). We'll activate our SPOTwalla link then and Deb will keep the SPOT going on the ferry trip, so you will be able to track us in the water for the four and a half day sailing to Bellingham. Once there, we are officially road bums - hope to meet some of you inmates in our wanderings.
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Old 05-18-2014, 03:33 PM   #11
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Hi guys,

Have a great trip and I'm looking forward to hearing about the ferry ride!
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Old 05-18-2014, 03:57 PM   #12
arwenalaska
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Pre trip video shoot still grab photos

Pre trip prep rides: testing bikes and gear. And we both shot video while riding. I grabbed some stills from videos I filmed, since I don't do photos while riding.



cruising by sign pointing to Rainbow, and looking down the Alaska RR tracks



Looking toward Hope



Gary riding by my side





Kite Surfers in Turnagain Arm


Just Riding


Coming into Girdwood - part of Alyeska Ski Resort runs visible on mountain



Turnagain Pass break time







Riding down out of Turnagain Pass



sign says photo op



looking toward a glacier



Passing a jump ramp



Enjoying riding together
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:31 PM   #13
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Pic of flowers just planted. Family will water them and hold down the fort while we are out being road bums.



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Old 05-19-2014, 11:07 PM   #14
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Leaving home around 6 PM.
Ride to Portage was windy and gusty - mostly at our backs. Gas stop at Girdwood then onward to Tunnel to Whittier. Short wait for cars and trucks to go first then we had tunnel to ourselves. 2.5 miles of tunnel - riding between the railroad tracks.


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Old 05-19-2014, 11:14 PM   #15
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Gary tying bikes down on Alaska state ferry.
Ferry will be leaving port of Whittier soon


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