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Old 08-02-2012, 01:45 PM   #1
NorWis OP
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2up to Prudhoe - A father/son adventure

Day 1

My 11 year old son and I returned from our 24 day adventure on July 3rd. What an extraordinary adventure we had! As we road north and west from Ashland, Wisconsin I had a lot of time to contemplate what I was going to say in a ride report. I went over and over all the great things I've seen in other ride reports. I kept a journal and have lots of photos and now I'm drawing a complete blank!!!

So here goes...we'll let it unfold just as we traveled, no timeline, no boundaries, and no worries.

In 2010 I had taken my oldest son (now 17) to the 100th anniversary National Scout Jamboree in Washington D.C. I asked my wife if I could plan a trip to Alaska and she said "as long as you take one of the boys with you". Done deal!

My oldest son Stephen and I at the Jamboree in 2010



My youngest son Dylan (11 years old) and I just before leaving. Dylan loves to ride and was up for the challenge.



If you look close to the right side handle bar you'll notice a mirror missing!

After I loaded the bike with all of our gear I took it off the center stand and it got away from me! Fell on the right side into the big red Yukon it's sitting next to.

The result? No damage to the Yukon XL. Bike? Sheared the right side mirror off:



That was minutes before we left! No time to get it fixed, we're outta here! I threw the undamaged mirror in a side case thinking it would be easy to get that repaired along the way. Yeah, right...

My proposed route (didn't change much along the way):



Each color represented a days worth of riding. We were pretty close to keeping that schedule without trying very hard.

A few more random photos from that day, the first few days there weren't a lot of photo ops and the weather certainly didn't cooperate much:

My wife and oldest son



Dylan and I right before we left



Can't go through Bemidji, MN without the Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox photo op - Dylan



and dad



As soon as we hit Minnesota the rain and wind started. Not fun because it got progressively worse as we approached our first destination; Rugby, ND. We had to stop in Grand Forks, ND. We were cold wet and miserable. My plan was to camp the entire way out and back with only a few days in hotels along the way. Imagine having that plan and then the first night staying in a Super 8. To make matters worse I dropped the bike in the visitors center parking lot after getting a North Dakota map and using the facilities. Not an overall good day. Terrible thunder storms moved through the area on June 10th and 11th so it was a good thing we were not in our tent.

Mileage for the day was 340 miles.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:04 PM   #2
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Outstanding NorWis for being such an involved father, taking interest in scouting and riding and an active role with your sons. Look forward to the rest of the adventure. Alaska will always be in my memories.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:17 PM   #3
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:17 PM   #4
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I'm listening!
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:28 PM   #5
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Awesome....

Your son is a very, very lucky boy. What an experience.


I spent 4 months with my son in the Yukon one summer when he was 11. It wasn't on a bike, but rahter, kayaks, backpacks etc...

http://rubikonthewaynorth.blogspot.com/


I'm waiting anxiously to read some more.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:33 PM   #6
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Good on you. I'd love to hear about how your lad coped with long days in the saddle. My 12 year old loves short trips but is pretty reluctant to come on longer ones. I'm not a great long distance passenger myself, so I don't push it.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:48 PM   #7
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brother that was really cool.........you two wont forget the time together
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Old 08-02-2012, 03:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planxty View Post
Good on you. I'd love to hear about how your lad coped with long days in the saddle. My 12 year old loves short trips but is pretty reluctant to come on longer ones. I'm not a great long distance passenger myself, so I don't push it.
Stay tuned! Hint, hint.... My son has a fascination with skateboards. I also have high blood pressure controlled with diuretics. We stop a lot....

Quote:
Originally Posted by danno626 View Post
Outstanding NorWis for being such an involved father, taking interest in scouting and riding and an active role with your sons. Look forward to the rest of the adventure. Alaska will always be in my memories.
Thank you! I truly love both of my sons and have their best interests at heart. Of course it doesn't hurt to have some common interests to enjoy together! I learned a lot along the way. It wasn't just my adventure, it was his, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stepink104 View Post
brother that was really cool.........you two wont forget the time together
I don't think it has sunk in with Dylan yet. He knew he was doing some thing that only a few people even come close to experiencing, let alone at 11 years old.

What made our trip even better were the people we met along the way. That was amazing!

Todd
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Old 08-02-2012, 03:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THX_337 View Post
Awesome....

Your son is a very, very lucky boy. What an experience.


I spent 4 months with my son in the Yukon one summer when he was 11. It wasn't on a bike, but rahter, kayaks, backpacks etc...

http://rubikonthewaynorth.blogspot.com/


I'm waiting anxiously to read some more.
Very cool! You have some beautiful photos. I love the smile on your sons face in many of them.

I'm curious how he feels about the adventure almost 5 years later?

It was amazing to share those experiences with my own son and I hope he can look back and maybe do the same with his children.

Todd
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Old 08-02-2012, 04:58 PM   #10
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Day 2

We got up early and had the quick breakfast the hotel had laid out. Not bad, plugged a hole. I had the heater cranked most of the night trying to dry everything out. We quickly packed the bike up and began the trek toward Rugby, ND again.

I'm going to digress a little to fill in some of the prep and equipment we were using.

My employer wasn't thrilled about me being gone for the 4 weeks I had planned for this trip. I agreed to take the sat phone they provide for me and to utilize it for getting voice messages if I needed to get in touch with them during an emergency. That's the orange pelican case you see mounted to the top case. Just about killed me to drill 4 holes into that case!

My wife was a bit skeptical about our safety and the "what ifs". I gave her the option of buying a SPOT Messenger for the trip and she was all over that. That proved to be a very good investment. I used Spotwalla and embedded the link in my out of office reply for folks to "follow along". My wife's mind was put at ease and a few of the long days we didn't have cell service or wi-fi she was able to get comfort in knowing; a) we were still moving or b) I had pushed the custom message button saying "We are stopping here for the night".

Beware, spoiler! The spotwalla link:

http://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?...c4fac225b655b8

Back to day 2!!!!

As soon as we started out I knew something wasn't quite right with the bike. We had only ridden that 380 miles but even loaded down the way it was I could tell something wasn't right. The "Elegant Hog", the bikes new name, said my MPG were dropping from 40 to about 28!! I pulled off at the next exit and checked the air pressure on both tires. It had dropped way down on both of them. Temps? Someone screw with the bike at night? Who knows. I filled them both up and things went as back to normal as we could have them.

The wind was unbelievable. There were 30 to 40 MPH sustained winds with gusts up to 50. I learned real quick that our gloves sucked. The rest of our gear was perfect the entire trip regardless of the weather. That was a relief.

We made it to Rugby, ND, the geographical center of North America:

Todd, what a happy camper I am!



Dylan, look at the Wolfman tankbag cover and how it's inflated. The whole day was like this.



We didn't take many photos while we were moving. It was a miserable day. A few times I thought we would be crushed from an oncoming semi truck.

When we got to the border at the International Peace Garden we felt a bit of energy and pride from making it to Canada!

We pulled up to the border agent and I think he felt sorry for us. It was miserable. Rain, wind, and cold. He motioned for me to pull the bike under an overhang and waited while we got off the bike and take our helmets off. He was very nice and had some sympathy. The normal questions were asked; weapons, alcohol, tobacco, etc. Then he dropped the big one on me that I didn't expect but was ready for "What is the custody arrangement for your son and his mother?" I told him we were still married and living together and I had a notarized letter from her giving permission for me to take him out of the country. He had a big sigh of relief and a smile and asked to see the letter. I provided it, the only time I had to produce it and he said we could stay there as long as we wanted to get dried off and warmed up. Nah, lets get out of here!!!!

We headed straight north to Brandon. Good sized city, should have a way to get that darn mirror fixed. After several stops at power sports dealers (no BMW shops until Saskatoon) we gave up the Manitoba search for a mirror fix. Wasn't an issue yet since it wasn't very crowded and I could turn my head to peak at the traffic. Not ideal though.

We again felt demoralized in having to stay in a motel. This time a Motel 6. Very nice, brand new facility. I again turned the heater on to dry stuff out. This is June! It should not be 40 or 50 degrees!

This is where I had to start stepping out of my comfort zone. While I tried to get our gear dry and organized and let my wife know where we were, etc. Remember this is early in the trip. Dylan wanted to go to a plane we saw on the way in to get some photos. Ummm, I guess....

Me taking a picture of Dylan taking a picture of the plane from the hotel window:



Come on, we're in a different country in a strange city and he's 11! We had not eaten anything but PB&J spread on tortillas. As luck would have it there was a McDonald's next door. This would begin the rule we both agreed to for the trip; one meal, and only one, would be purchased a day. The balance we would make ourselves. Didn't matter which meal, just that it was only one. I was trying to save money that we were spending on the hotels.

On the walk over we snapped a few photos:



The plane and the significance:



Our adventure had officially started. We were out of the country and experiencing things neither one of us had ever been a part of yet we were doing them together.

It's funny the small things you notice, in Canada they have vinegar for your french fries:



I grew up eating vinegar on my fries!

I wasn't as hungry as Dylan so I got a "Happy Meal". The fry container was tiny rather than a paper sack:



A photo from my iPhone sent as a text (iMessage via McDonalds wi-fi) to my wife to show her we were safe and sound since I did not have a Canadian cell plan:



We were both pretty tired even though it wasn't a very long day of riding. The days mileage was only 280.
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Old 08-02-2012, 05:25 PM   #11
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This looks like fun! Keep it up!
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Old 08-02-2012, 05:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorWis View Post
Very cool! You have some beautiful photos. I love the smile on your sons face in many of them.

I'm curious how he feels about the adventure almost 5 years later?
....
Todd
Well, we went again in 2009 (paddled 500 miles down the Yukon River) and again last year, as we did a 10 day trek in Kluane Park - The Donjek Route (Side note here - That trip was the hardest thing I've personally ever done. No trails, hike on tundra, glaciers and lots and lots of bushwacking.. very , very remote.. we saw no other people or planes). He wants to go back. He loved IT!
http://rubikonadventures.blogspot.co...11-part-1.html

He now wants to go to South America. We are planning that for his HS graduation... Hopefully a motorcycle ride. I will have to negotiate with the boss for that much time off though.

These are good things to do with your kids. Creates lasting memories and opens their eyes to the world. You are to be commended.

BTW: My son asked me, as we were traveling home when he was 11, if he is a dad and has a boy, if I would take his boy out camping and such? I got all choked up. Those moments are priceless. No other feeling like it in the world.
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Old 08-03-2012, 05:55 AM   #13
NorWis OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THX_337 View Post
Well, we went again in 2009 (paddled 500 miles down the Yukon River) and again last year, as we did a 10 day trek in Kluane Park - The Donjek Route (Side note here - That trip was the hardest thing I've personally ever done. No trails, hike on tundra, glaciers and lots and lots of bushwacking.. very , very remote.. we saw no other people or planes). He wants to go back. He loved IT!
http://rubikonadventures.blogspot.co...11-part-1.html

He now wants to go to South America. We are planning that for his HS graduation... Hopefully a motorcycle ride. I will have to negotiate with the boss for that much time off though.

These are good things to do with your kids. Creates lasting memories and opens their eyes to the world. You are to be commended.

BTW: My son asked me, as we were traveling home when he was 11, if he is a dad and has a boy, if I would take his boy out camping and such? I got all choked up. Those moments are priceless. No other feeling like it in the world.
Dylan also wants to go back, but on his own bike. I had one of those choked up moments as well, not from what he said to me but what someone else said to him. Stay tuned for that....

Congrats on your adventures! That looks like an enormous undertaking (I've only canoed the BWCAW for short periods).

Todd
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Old 08-03-2012, 08:07 AM   #14
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Day 3

We were up early with all of our gear dried out. Went down to the breakfast room and met some other riders. This is where we started to realize that the people we meet along the way are going to make our trip even more memorable.

We knew right away that we were going to get wet, at least for part of the day. Out on the prairie you can see things coming from a long way off.



When we crossed into Canada I didn't make any effort to stop and get a photo of the Manitoba sign so I cheated when we crossed into Saskatchewan, I crossed the road and got both at the same time.



It was still windy and kind of nasty out so we left our helmets on.



Didn't get a lot of photos on this day either but that was about to change!

This is a typical "gas bar". It started to get very nice here so we spent a little bit of time to use the facilities and make a few satellite phone calls.



I called the BMW dealer in Saskatoon for parts for the mirror. They didn't have one but could order one. I then called the dealer in Edmonton. They had one and would hold it for me until I got there. I gave them my sat phone number if there were any issues they could call me.

I also called a campground in North Battleford to see about camping. No problem, plenty of room! The reason I selected this place is because they had a small stocked trout pond. That was one of the reasons Dylan was all fired up to go on this trip, to fish.



After a long hot day riding it was good to see a smile on his face!

While I set camp up and cooked dinner, he went fishing. The wi-fi was nice to have as well so that I could let the wife know we were OK. As I sat at the picnic table typing a message to my wife, I began to be scolded by a prairie dog!



They were everywhere! Harmless and fun to watch.

I went to get Dylan for dinner and took a few photos of him fishing.



We got a kick out of watching the the furry critters and then called it a night pretty early.



Total mileage for the day was 466
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:34 AM   #15
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How does you son do with the miles you are covering a day?
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