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Old 06-25-2011, 04:31 PM   #46
lookaught OP
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Intermission show:

I haven't ridden the BMW in a while, but here are a couple of pics from AK thus far. If you haven't been to Alaska, it should be on your bucket list.








Two of my roommates at the top of Flat Top mountain, just on the edge of anchorage:


Denali:






Kris hiding from mosquitos:


Savage River on the Denali park road:



Me and Zach trying to high-five without falling off the rock:


Kris sleeping in the car hahaha:


First bull moose sighting!:



More to come in a few weeks. I missed D2D but just did not have the time and energy to get to Dawson right now. Maybe some day...

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Old 06-27-2011, 02:32 PM   #47
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Great thread. An absolute dream of mine.

If you haven't yet, try to make it to Talkeetna. It's a cool little town, with an incredible view of Denali. You can make it there from Ankorage in a short time (Alaska wise).

Looking forward to your return trip posts.

Be safe.
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Old 06-27-2011, 04:21 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motopreserve View Post
Great thread. An absolute dream of mine.

If you haven't yet, try to make it to Talkeetna. It's a cool little town, with an incredible view of Denali. You can make it there from Ankorage in a short time (Alaska wise).

Looking forward to your return trip posts.

Be safe.
Thanks! I've been to Talkeetna, all the pics above that are along the gravel riverbank are from the river next to the town. We showed up and camped on the riverbank and got breakfast at the Roadhouse. AWESOME food. Didn't get to go to the Denali brewery because we showed up really late, but it looked like fun.
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Old 07-18-2011, 10:41 PM   #49
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Time for an update!

I've been in Anchorage for six weeks now and have not been riding the BMW much at all. The occasional ride to work when it's raining, which is pretty ridiculous I suppose... I only ride my motorcycle when it's raining. It's got much better fenders than the no-fender bicycle.

I've been thinking about the ride to Deadhorse, and then scrapped the idea. Then I thought about the ride to the Arctic Circle, and I have now scrapped that as well. I just can't get excited about interior AK when south central AK is so incredible. It amazes me that so many motorcycles go to Prudhoe Bay and yet so few riders make it to southern Alaska when it is, in my biased opinion, much more interesting than a dirt road to an oil field. So my plan is now only to ride out of AK on August 12, until then I'm sticking to camping, climbing, bicycling, and enjoying the AMAZING Chugach, Talkeetna, Denali, and Wrangell-St. Elias mountains along with the Kenai. The skeeters aren't even bad down here!

If you ever ride to AK, trust me it is worth the trip to see the south. Maybe I'll ride to Prudhoe Bay one day, and maybe it'll change my mind, but for now I just don't have the time or interest.

Some pics:

A few weeks ago I rafted the Kenai river (more accurately I "floated" the river) and then camped at Skilak lake before heading to Homer for the 4th of July weekend

Skilak lake:



I have NO idea what I was doing here.


My roommate Zach:


He decided to take a swim:


Camp. You can drive to a parking lot just above here. This is the Upper Skilak lake campground. Free to boot!


Seth, a guy I met on the Ferry from Prince Rupert to Juneau, showed up around 10pm after calling me the day before asking if I'd be in Anchorage. He drove with us to Homer the next day, and we got lost looking for lunch at a town across the bay from Kenai where an old fish cannery sits for us to wander around:


The Homer spit. 5 miles long, about 30 feet above sea level. The tide here is the second or third highest in the world. It was moving about 25' the weekend we were there. THat's 25' in six hours! The lady who checked our camping permit ($8/tent) warned us to not camp below the highest spot or it'll be an interesting night when high tide rolls in



Spent the night on the spit and then it rained all day on Saturday. Still managed to check out the touristy areas, the farmers market in town, and some breweries. Seth took off to go work at an organic farm for a few weeks, and me and my roommates headed up into the mountains where a friend/coworker/classmate Katie let us crash at her parents house! They cooked an amazing meal of salmon, halibut, three-meat burgers (moose, caribou, and elk) and other homemade sides that were awesome and we ate to this view:




The next day we got up and took a ferry to Seldovia. It's a pretty neat town about an hour away by boat that has a big 4th celebration. We didn't stay for that but hung out for a few hours hiking and walking about. Most of the town was built on piers and pilings that all fell over during the 1964 9.3magnitude earthquate. The guide on the boat said that there was a great trail called the "otterbahn" and then no german tourists understand that joke. hahaha. Did you see in the news that Germans rank dead last in sense of humor? No wonder...

On the way to the ferry, here's the spit again, this time at pretty low tide:


Notice how tall the tide piers are? When we came back from Seldovia the boats were about 20' higher:



Seldovia:






There were a lot of other cool wood carvings but I haven't got the pics from my roommate yet. Seldovia is a cool place to go if you want to be off the bike for a day. Homer is also a really artsy place and I highly recommend it.

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Old 07-18-2011, 11:31 PM   #50
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Last weekend Zach, Kris and I hiked the Bomber Glacier after work on Friday. The Bomber Glacier gets it's name from a B-29 bomber that crashed on it in 1957 while returning from a spy mission over Russia. Incredibly four of the ten crewmembers actually survived and were rescued, and the Air Force left the bomber after removing the sensitive equipment.

The plan is to drive to Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna mountains, just north of Wasilla, AK. Wasilla is about 40 minutes north of Anchorage. It's also home to Sarah Palin. And a bunch of strip malls. And El Cheepo mexican restaurant that nearly killed us three back when we went to Denali a few weeks ago. Don't bother visiting Wasilla.

Anyway, the plan is to drive there, then hike about 4-5 miles in through an old glacial valley to Upper Reed lake, a glacial lake in a hanging valley. Camp, then head over the ridge the next day and across the glacier to the bomber, and then back over and down to break down camp and high tail it to the car. It all went as planned, I HIGHLY recommend this hike if you are in decent shape and want some epic scenery. Don't try it in motorcycle boots though!

onto the pics!

The parking lot, where so many great adventures begin:


We hit the trail around 8:30PM:


It's relatively flat for a while until you pass an old abandoned mine site about two miles in:


Time to climb. It's about 2,000 feet I think to get to the upper lake. This kinda reminded me of Hawaii hiking. Brown/red dirt and shrubs:


After a quick boulder field we pop out at the first hanging valley flats:


SUPER clear water, those rocks you see between the white are about six feet deep! Ice cold too.


Looking up the valley:


Passed a lot of other tents as we make it to the upper lake and set up camp around 10:45PM:


Three full grown men in a "3-Person Tent" means sardines:


The low dip on the left side of the ridge is where we are headed in the morning:


The skeeters breed here:


There is no clear trail here. You just scramble on the scree field looking for tiny cairns to lead you. We knew to head for the low point of the pass, but there are a lot of options for routes:



Looking down from about 3/4 the way to the top. If you look really, really, really closely you can see the tent on the green hill on the far side of the lake. It's a speck:


Heading down the other side. THere was a short fixed line to get down the first ten feet then it's a scree scramble and it is really, really loose. Had to be very careful and space ourselves apart because these rocks are all widowmakers if someone trundles you.


Look close, there's a bomber over there:


Starting the decent. This route didn't last long because we hit an ice field just out of sight in the picture. No crampons and no axes = no self arrest. So we had to walk up up up and around:


20 more minutes to go!


Back down toward the plane:


There she is:


Six men died here. It's a very cool hike but you have to respect the guys who died and those who actually made it.







Time to go: First, some bear track next to the plane. Not more than a day old:


Then I was leading and one leg fell into a crevasse. I've crossed glaciers quite a few times in my life. Some on skis, some with crampons and axes, some roped, some not. Today we chanced it because we saw other tracks in the snow but this just shows that the danger is always there. My roommates did not appreciate the danger I think and trudged on without thinking. I was a little weirded out by the feeling of falling through, even if it was only one leg. I was happy to follow the two of them


Life is good:


We tried to cheat and cut over a different spot on the ridge but couldnt cross there, so we had to scramble down some class 4/5 rock. Pretty intense and exposed! I went first and got some shots of the other guys:


Back at the top of the pass, time for the decent:


Almost down. Knees were actually holding up really well


Looking back at the pass. We crossed at the right side of the "W" that is dead center in the pic:


See the little people up there? My camera zoom sucks...


Back at camp it was windy as hell and getting cool. We had already had steady, heavy rain the night before, then fog, sun, clouds, rain, and hail today. After a quick meal in the tent we packed it up and booked it out of there. My favorite type of photography is pictures of trails leading off into the distance. I guess the same concept applies to riding motorcycles and looking out on a great road before you ride it. Just knowing that the road ahead will be a good one...









Kris and Zach like to hike at full speed. I don't. I have learned through years of hiking that I have one comfortable speed that I can keep up for hours, so I hike at that speed. So after breaking camp I had a nice solo hike down, enjoying the views and having some time to think and stare off into the distance. I really enjoy solo hiking, so it was a nice way to finish the trip.

Almost there:


And five minutes from the car I got absolutely dumped on by rain. It felt awesome and I changed into some board shorts at the car feeling really refreshed and in great spirits. This hike is everything you could want packed into less than 15 miles roundtrip. Glacial valleys, lakes, waterfalls, boulder hopping, crossing a glacier, a wrecked bomber... incredible!

This is why it's worth your time to see the other end of Alaska. I hope that some of you make the time to enjoy these areas and don't get tunnel vision on Prudhoe Bay. There's a hell of a lot more to Alaska than oil.


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Old 08-06-2011, 06:24 PM   #51
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Jon,

Had to check in on your ride report. Looks great, keep in touch as you come back through here.

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Old 09-03-2011, 06:13 PM   #52
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Part II - the return trip

Every Alaska trip has a return voyage, and mine was no different. I am now at home in Vermont, helping with the clean up from Hurricane Irene, but want to take a break to finish this report.

A few things to note:

I forgot my camera charger in AK, so starting in BC they are all iPhone 3GS pics. Sorry!

The general route is identical back to Haines via Tok, then Prince Rupert to Prince George, but then I rode to Jasper, along the Icefields Parkway () to Banff, then backtracked to 93 south to go through Radium Hot Springs, into Montana, through Glacier National Park, and then across northern Montana before hitting the superslab back east to Pittsburgh.

Unlike my trip west which was plagued with endless rain and cold, the ride east was 4,200 miles with less than one hour of riding in the rain. It really could not have been any more perfect, and I was very, very thankful for that. I also met some really cool riders and other interesting people along the way, and managed the whole trip without a single tipover or serious mishap.

Stats:
12 days
9 days of riding
4,200 miles
and I rode the stock Michelin Anakee all the way! It was nearly at the wear bars when I left Anchorage but somehow only became slightly corded by the time I made it to Pittsburgh. 11,000 miles on the tire, most with a very heavy load. Incredible!

Alright on the RR! Here's a couple teaser pics and I will post more in the coming days in individual posts for each day. Enjoy!

















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Old 09-08-2011, 01:53 PM   #53
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Ride Report

Im liken it.
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:06 AM   #54
lookaught OP
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Time to get this RR back on the road!

Day 0 - a short prequel to the return. 08/11/2011


A short background before I get riding: I finished work on Thursday August 11 with plans to hit the road around noon on Friday, August 12. Unfortunately I got a nail in my rear tire while on my way to work, so that set me back a little because I had to fix it. Luckily after pulling the tire off in my yard my neighbor was lounging outside and I walked over to this guy, who is about 70, and ask if he has a compressor so that I don't have to use a hand bicycle pump. He responds "yeah, I have one." Into his garage we go to find a 7' tall, like 200 gallon professional painting compressor lol. Needless to say it made pumping up the tire nice and easy.

So after fixing the tire, I had to clean my house, pack all my shit, and box up my other two wheels transport and have it ready to go to FedEx. It took three weeks to get to VT via FedEx ground!

See ya later pedal power!


Now onto the bike. While in Anchorage I went to Alaska Leather and met the crew. Really, really nice people. Barb cut me a custom sheepskin buttpad and gave me some stickers. No more red seat!


Also bought a taller windscreen from another inmate. As it turns out, this screen does not work for me and actually channels bugs directly into my face lol. I'm going to either heat it up and bend it to be more vertical or sell it and put the stock screen back on. Unfortunately my stock screen flew off the back of my bike somewhere near Radium Hot Springs, so I have to but another one.


Finally, all loaded up. This setup is NOT ideal and I worked with it on the trip to make it better balanced. I really need to get a top case...


I also sold my semi-waterproof pants and bought Rev'it Defender pants to match my jacket. They are nice pants, but damn, europeans must be skinny mofo's because I am not a fat man and while my thighs may be more muscular than the average person from hockey and cycling, these pants are waaaay to tight to wear with anything more than underwear and the goretex liners. If I put in the thermal liner I feel like I'm wearing a unitard. Yet at the same time, the pants are too big around the waist (32"-33" waist). WTF are europeans shaped that differently than americans?

Anyway here are my fancy new pants:


I admit, I do like the color. And it was money well spent because in 4,200 miles home it rained for about one hour.

Onward....
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:23 AM   #55
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Day 1 - Anchorage to Tok - 08/12/2011
333 miles - 6.5 hours

So anyway, after packing, cleaning, and getting ready, I hit the road for Tok at 4:30PM on Friday, August 12, 2011. My ferry is scheduled at 9AM Sunday morning, so I have a very leisurely two days to go 775 miles. I had expected August in Alaska to be warm and sunny, just like the rest of the USA. It is actually a very rainy month in AK. It rained every single day from August 1-11! But on Friday, August 12, the rain clouds blew away, and sunshine was beating down. Time to ride.

Last shot before I left my lovely house in Anchorage:


Made a quick stop at Alaska Leather to buy some more Rok Straps. Beat the traffic out of town, and was on my way. After passing through Palmer, I was into the good part of the Glenn Highway:




This is what most of the ride to Tok looks like:


Look closely, those are all clouds:


See?


Getting darker:



I had chopped off all my hair the day before, and now my helmet fits kind of loose and I get the tri-hawk. lol


Ok into Tok. Not much to see there. It was around 11pm when I arrived, so I just went to the motorcycle campground. In retrospect, the better idea is to ride about 10-15 miles past Tok toward Canada and there is a really nice state campground along a river. I don't know if it costs money or not, but the motorcycle campground was just ok, and I would rather camp by a river. I did meet a french couple who were something like 15 months into a 2 year trek across the world. They had already been to Africa, South America, Europe, and were heading to Asia where I imagine they are right now. They were riding a KTM 990.

Anyway, this is Tok:
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:01 AM   #56
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Day 2 - Tok, AK to Haines, AK
484 miles - 11.5 hours

After long delay I have a project due this evening and am procrastinating that work by writing this RR, which has been subject to extreme procrastination since August. It's a vicious cycle

Today I woke up not too early and packed up the bike while chatting with a french couple riding RTW 2up on a KTM990 Adventure. They had been on the road for like 18 months already, riding south from France through Africa, then to South America, North America, and were headed to the far east next. Damn.

So around 9:30 or so I hit the road from the gas station:


And headed this way:


FYI there is a free state campground about 15 miles east of Tok right off the highway as it crosses over a small river. I would camp there and avoid paying for the campground in town.

The riding today was beautiful. Sunny, with patchy clouds and heavy rain that was always close but never actually hit me (except once).

Like so:



Rain is close, but not close enough!




It was really incredible that I didn't hit any rain. Amazing. Karma is paying me back for the ride to AK (which was about 2,500 miles of rain in 4,600 miles of riding).

So I passed through the customs house into Canada without any drama. Had to fight off some bees while in line but the weather was great and I was in a great mood. I got back my passport, stuck it in the tank bag flap, and hit the road toward Destruction Bay. WHile on the way I was reaching into my tank bag for my camera (hence the pics below) and then the unthinkable happened... my fucking passport blew out of the bag flap somewhere between Beaver Creek and Destruction Bay. I noticed when getting gas in Destruction Bay, rode back 30 miles looking along the road, being frantic, cursing more than usual (and I curse a LOT without the stress of being in a foreign country with no passport), and really not enjoying the beautiful day. FVCK.

SOme pics:





Ok, here's a life lesson that I learned that day. When things take a turn for the worst, it's really not as bad as it seems. After abandoning hope of finding my passport, my ride to Haines Junction was pretty much ruined. That's a shame because it was a gorgeous ride. I was super stressed because I had a ferry ticket booked from Haines (in the USA) to Prince Rupert (in Canada). See the dilemma? I knew I could get to Haines and into the USA, but once I got on the boat, I had no idea if they would let me into Canada. fuck fuck fuck. Its an extra $500 for a ferry from Ketchikan to Bellingham in Washington, money which I did not want to spend, plus I really, really wanted to ride the Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff. So if you lose your passport in Canada while riding, don't stress it! It's not the end of the world, and as it turned out, getting into Canada was easier than getting into the USA. Go figure...

More pics!

Haines Junction



Finally hit some rain on the ride to Haines, but it was still quite beautiful. I'll just let the pics speak:







Dirt!



I messed up the camera settings accidentally and the rest of the pics were kinda fuzzy:


Looks a bit different than the last time I came through in May:


Automatic fishing machine?


Got the camera back to normal:



YES!


And finally, rolled into Haines when it was getting dark. I camped along the inlet in the same spot as before, though this time with some company of four german kids cooking rice and fresh caught fish of some sort. I gave them some whiskey and called it a night.



And obviously I made it into the USA through customs with only a drivers license. I stopped and asked the Canadian customs guy if he thought I'd have an issue getting into Prince Rupert, and he seemed very confident that I would not. At the time, I was not convinced, but in the end, he was right.

The next few days are on the ferry, then, BC.
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:45 AM   #57
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:51 AM   #58
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Day 3, 4, & 5 - Haines, AK to Prince Rupert, BC
~15 miles - 30 minutes riding time, many hours of ferry time

Today I get on the ferry for 2.5 days. The ferry left at 9am Sunday morning and gets into PR at 2pm on Tuesday. That is a full two plus days of sitting on my butt. As it turns out, it rained like hell so it wasn't all that bad to sit on the ferry and relax, though I had only been riding for two days before the ferry so unlike the trip to AK (I had been riding for 8 or 9 days) I wasn't quite ready to get off the bike.

Whatever. Here we go:

Camp at 7:30am or so:


Four germans fit in this tent lol. Must have been cozy.


The bike's resting spot:


Saying goodbye to Alaska... for now.


It wasn't raining this morning, and while in line for the ferry I met Greg, a rider from California who rode solo to Deadhorse and was on his way home. He was on a KTM 690. That was the first time I ever really looked at that model bike and I was really impressed, I immediately wondered if the 690 would have been the better bike for me than the F800GS. It's a thought that plagued me for months, but ultimately I decided that the BMW is the better choice, simply because most of the riding where I live is paved, and the BMW is just better on paved roads and long rides. When I ride South America in a few years, it's going to be a hard choice between these two bikes.

Anyway, this is Greg. He was traveling unbelievably light and therefore wore his one piece suit everywhere haha


The first stop is Juneau, where we have to switch boats. The trip there was uneventful. I was tired and slept a bit, and the views just weren't impressive compared with my trip to AK in May.

Some pics:


Remember this island?


Here's a reminder of the views on the way to AK in late May:



Oh well, I had nice views on way at least.

We pulled into Juneau and per the recommendation of a friend who lived there for the summer we hit up the Hot Bite burger shack. It was pretty good, but not epic. It is only a few miles from the ferry terminal on the water so if you are traveling through and only have an hour or two to eat, I guess it's a good place to go.


Looking back at the terminal from the Hot Bite:


Back at the terminal I was marveling at the similarity yet obvious differences between the Malaspina and the Matanuska, the two ferrys that I took both to and from AK. Both built in the same year, they are the same size and general shape, yet somehow they are really different layouts and have odd little differences like flagpole placement and wings on the smokestack... Can you spot the differences?

Malaspina:


Matanuska:


An excellent carpet tapestry in the terminal building. God I love Alaska!


Home for the next two days:


And it started raining. Hard. It drizzled on me and Greg at the Hot Bite, but once on the boat it let loose and did not stop until the day after we arrived in Prince Rupert.

Raindrops:


This is the high speed ferry:


The view for a couple days:


I'm glad it wasn't this packed:


And then my camera died and I left the charger in Anchorage. Therefore my pics are really sparse :-(

A few things to note for the remainder of the ferry ride: First, the rain never stopped. Second, in Sitka we we in port from like 2am to 430am. I was up so I went to my bike to get my computer to do some work (you can only access the car deck while in port). While down there another rider had come aboard... at 430am... in the pouring rain. Her name is Erica and she had also ridden to Deadhorse and had some pretty awesome stories... she also rode from TDF back to her home in Oregon. Just amazing, she had already ridden my dream ride and did it solo. I don't have any pics of Erica but her amazing ride in South America is documented here: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=435562 .

And you may recognize her from the adv banner:


When we arrived in Prince Rupert, Greg and I had already booked a room in the Pioneer Hostel, the same place I stayed on my ride to AK. My original plan was to get off the boat at 2pm and ride to the west side of Prince George, about 400 miles. With the weather as it was, that plan was quickly scrapped. Erica also went to the hostel and we all went out for sushi that evening and walked around a bit, bought some food, and planned to head out the next day as a trio. Luckily, the next day was beautiful and we had a great ride and a great camp spot along a lake. More to come on that in the next post.

Off the boat and back on the bike!

ps if you are wondering how I made it through Canadian customs without a passport, I had my parents scan and email a copy of my original passport (yeah, from when I was 10 lol) and my birth certificate and the awesome Purser on the Matanuska used the only computer with internet to print out copies. Canadian customs was AMAZED that I had even that much, and waved me through without a second glance. woohoo! Back on the road! (and not paying $500 for a ticket to Bellingham).
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:51 AM   #59
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The thread title got my attention, then when I saw your user name I thought "I'll bet he's from Pittsburgh." Ha! Excellent sense of humor!

Very nice report, Jon. Thanks for taking us along for the ride!

Tim
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:28 AM   #60
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Day 6 - Prince Rupert, BC to Lake Francois, BC (just west of Prince George near Burns Lake)
331 miles - 9 hours

This is mostly a reserved post because I don't have any pictures as my camera finally died and I planned to get the pics from Greg but never got around to it. I'm going to email him and try to get them, and will post them later.

But a written recap:

Greg, Erica, and I got up not too early and hit the road after planning to ride to or near Lake Francois today. It was only 331 miles, so it was not a long day of riding. We stopped at a KTM dealer in Terrace to try to get a rear tire for Greg, but no dice. While at the dealer the guy who made the top plate on Erica's bike happened upon us and while waiting for the tire to arrive we all went to town for coffee. After sitting around for more than an hour waiting on the tire, we gave up and headed onward.

Stopped in Smithers for lunch at some cafe. Smithers is such a weird and awesome town... it's like being in Switzerland or Bavaria. Odd buildings, the cafe had old ladies speaking german working behind the counter. I tried to find a charger for my camera but failed, so from now on it's all iPhone 3GS photos.

So we made it to camp along Francois lake pretty early, maybe 6pm which is well before sundown. Erica sweet talked some fire wood from the neighbors and after incorrectly assuming that only she knows how to use an axe because she is a fire fighter and that me and Greg are just city slickers, she split all the wood. Little did she know that my house is primarily heated by a cast iron stove and I burned four cords of wood last winter (a cord is 4' x 4' x 8' of stacked split wood), so I've split more wood that I care to remember. But she was all pumped to swing the axe so I just said nothing and let her go to town. hehehe

So around 11 or so we all went to bed in our tents along the lake. Fun day, it's weird for me to ride with others, but it sure is nice to have company.
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Solo Ride Pennsylvania to Anchorage, Alaska and back 2011

Two Ape supermotos take on the Dragon
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