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post #11 of 73 Old 03-28-2010, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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July 3, 2009
Miles 3029-3411




We woke early at 6AM and began the usual routine of breaking camp. Jim had awakened before me and called to me in my tent, “You will not believe who is camped down the road from us…..Captain Kill Switch!” He was just kidding.

We backtracked a few miles to the gas station we had stopped at the evening before so we could eat a hearty breakfast. The café offered a huge breakfast that we decided to split between us. It was a good thing too. Our waitress was very kind to us and instead of one big pancake we could split she had given us two for the price of one and charged us for only one coffee. The coffee was good and hot. We used the bathroom to take advantage of the sink for a quick “combat bath”. After breakfast Jim came up with the suggestion that we drive to Skagway, 120 miles to the south to check it out. We were already well ahead of schedule and I thought, why the hell not. It would mean a 240 mile side trip but this was the kind of spontaneous decision that made a ride of this length fun.You need to be able to make changes in your daily itinerary to keep you from feeling like you are a slave to a schedule.

The ride from Jake’s Corner to Skagway was unbelievably beautiful. It was another clear, sunny day and the views of the mountains were reflected perfectly on the calm surfaces of the massive lakes that lined the highway. We had to resist the temptation to stop every quarter mile to take pictures. After a while it was stimulus overload.

We did stop at one particularly nice lake that looked like a giant mirror reflecting the mountain ranges beyond. There were thousands of rectangular rocks that had fallen off the small cliffs nearby. This looked like the perfect type of rock to use for building an Inunchuk, the Indian rock totem that is used to point the way to good hunting or fishing and low priced souvenirs. We rode on an awesome descending mountain highway into Skagway. We passed through Customs and were on US soil again. The ride into Skagway became hotter the further downhill we went.

The town of Skagway is quite historic and very picturesque. It was one of the more popular jumping off spots for the gold seekers of the late 1800’s. Each person wanting to get into the Yukon via Skagway was required by Canada to have 2000 pounds of provisions to prove to the Canadian officials that they had enough to last them through the winter. This meant they had to make 30-40 trips over the Chilkoot Pass with a portion of their provisions on each trip to begin their journey to the Yukon. Then they would pass the winter in tents and build crude log rafts to float northward 600 miles on the Yukon River from Dawson City deep into Alaska. Most were never heard from and few found gold to make them rich.

Our journey on motorcycles in the beautiful summertime on nice roads with large towns was a piece of cake compared to the type of hardships the early gold prospectors found. Most of them had no idea of the cruel winter conditions they would find in the North. Pondering the life of the early explorers and the indigenous people of Canada and Alaska made you stop and marvel at the bravery of people who could do such things without the conveniences of today. They had no cell phones, no GPS, no ATM cards, no internal combustion VStrom that could travel over 500 miles a day on paved roads.

We poked around Skagway on our bikes. Folks from the cruise ships wandered around town and many of them looked long and lovingly at our bikes so heavily laden with gear and sporting California tags. You could tell they had that quizzical look and were wondering why or how someone could ride that far, or why would they want to. I remember overhearing one group of older ladies saying it did not seem like a comfortable way to travel. What ever. Riding on a tour bus with a group of AARP folks doesn’t appeal to me either.

We explored the small town separately knowing that we would not lose each other. I found a Radio Shack and found a universal charger for my GPS and cell phone. I had discovered that the receptacle on my bike was good and the devices were good, but for some reason I had bad chargers for both my GPS and cell phone. The iGo universal charger worked for both and I was back in business with my electronic gadgets. I would find out when I got home that the problem was my chargers were blowing fuses. I am pretty sure this is due to the vibration in the front panel causing intermittent on-off connections at the plug and this resulted in surges that blew the fuses. I replaced the fuses weeks later and was good to go. I was unable to do this on the road due to various reasons; one being that one of the chargers was not designed to replace the fuse. I had to use a screwdriver to pry open the male end to get at the fuse. The other one used a ceramic fuse that Radio Shack did not have a replacement for. (On the next to last day of the entire trip the iGo charger fuse would also fail. When I arrived home I got them all working again.) I will be carrying lots of spare fuses with me on my next ride. Or I may elect to connect the charger to a less vibration prone area.

Jim and I met up and ate lunch in a local saloon in Skagway. We shared a halibut and chips lunch and had some Alaska Amber beer. We saddled up for the ride back up the mountain to Canadian Customs with their probing questions about our weapons and tobacco. We saw the steam engine train making its way slowly up the mountain and thought we could make out Captain Kill Switch sitting at one of the windows. We swooped past the place where I had built my stone Eskimo totem. I could see him from the highway. He was still standing and may be to this very day, pointing the way to Skagway for lost adventurers. We noted a gaggle of kayakers floating down the pristine mirrored lake. The road curved its way north to the Alcan rewarding us with one of the most perfect motorcycle touring roads we encountered on the trip.



We enjoyed the ride back north to Whitehorse. Whitehorse was a large city that did not interest us any further than finding a place to refuel. Soon we were back on the Alcan making our way to Haynes Junction. Dark storm clouds were forming to the north. It was fascinating to watch the weather patterns change as you drove. I had to time when to stop and put away the camera and GPS which were not waterproof. Sometimes you could see the demarcation of the rainstorm a half mile ahead of you. We would drive in and out of these cloud bursts twenty times in fifty miles.

We stopped for a snack at Haynes Junction at a log cabin café with a large covered porch. While eating the mother of all storms began with lightning, wind and hail. We decided to eat more and watch the storm from the porch. As the storm weakened we decided to head out. At first we thought we would luck out as the storm had almost stopped. Then the bottom dropped out of the sky again. We drove through hail that was painful when driving above 50 miles per hour. Fortunately the storm was over in ten minutes and we had sunny skies all the way to Lake Kluane.

Lake Kluane is the largest lake in Yukon Territory. During World War II the US had a joint base with the Canadians at Destruction Bay. In wintertime the ice on the lake reaches eight feet thick. At various times the military drove large vehicles on the ice. Probably when the ice was not as thick as they thought it was, some of the vehicles fell through the ice to the bottom of the lake. Many years later the US military sent in dive teams to retrieve the heavy vehicles.

There was a large area of road repair at the southern end of the lake. We had to slow down and deal with large clouds of dust again. Passage was slowed by having to follow a pilot car. When we were about four miles south of Destruction Bay we began looking for a place to camp on the lake. It didn’t take long as the shoreline offered numerous places to pull off and camp. We passed a private campground and then about 1-2 more miles up the lake was a perfect spot for us. There was a dirt road leading to the lake. We parked our bikes well off the highway behind some brush. The shore offered a smooth sandy beach to pitch our tents and ample driftwood for a campfire. It must have been a favorite spot for a bear since I spotted a perfect bear print about 50 feet from our campsite.



The view of the lake included the mountains to the east with angry rain clouds releasing rain. The late evening sun created a rainbow under the rain. This event was at least 20 miles away from us. To the southwest we could see snow covered peaks. The sun was making its usual slow arc around the northwest and refused to set. We pitched out tents at 10PM and then explored the shore, built a fire and wrote in our journals until 1AM and it was just becoming twilight. Since we had eaten a late lunch at Haynes Junction we did not have a large dinner before stopping. We did have a bottle of Sawmill Merlot wine and a half container of Pringle’s chips that seemed just right for the occasion. We still had plenty of trail mix and jerky if we needed real food.


Jim was able to make a very nice campfire with only one match and without using any gasoline so I signed off his merit badge for “Fire Skills”. We watched the fire and added wood until we were ready for sleep. We turned in for the night but not before we had wondered about Captain Kill Switch and where he might be. We hoped he was safe and having a good time.


2000 Honda Sabre VT1100 (194,000 miles)
2005 Suzuki DL650 (116,000 miles)
1976 BMW R90/6 (33,000 miles)
2009 Vespa GTS250ie (8200 miles)
1993 Honda CB750 (13,000 miles)
2013 BMW R1200GS LC (16,600 miles)
2015 Kawasaki KLR650E (3,200 miles)

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post #12 of 73 Old 03-28-2010, 05:50 PM Thread Starter
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I am going on a 5 day camping trip with my son so this will be the last post until the end of next week. I hope some people are enjoying it.

2000 Honda Sabre VT1100 (194,000 miles)
2005 Suzuki DL650 (116,000 miles)
1976 BMW R90/6 (33,000 miles)
2009 Vespa GTS250ie (8200 miles)
1993 Honda CB750 (13,000 miles)
2013 BMW R1200GS LC (16,600 miles)
2015 Kawasaki KLR650E (3,200 miles)

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post #13 of 73 Old 03-28-2010, 07:37 PM
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I really have enjoyed your ride report, but most notable is the way you describe how fellow riders interact while on a long trip together. I got a kick out of the way you spoke about "too many alpha males" riding together. I have had the very same thing happen to me over and over again. I've decided that I am way better off riding alone, since I can never find anyone that has the same objectives. The last two times, I wrote a clear itinerary, describing in detail our expectations. We ended up riding alone anyhow, meeting each other at our designated base camps. Each and every time, I promise to go alone, and some one asks to come along, I cave and regret it later.

To live with riding buddies for weeks at a time , you really have to get along well. It has never yet worked for me. I am sure that it's me, and I try and cram too much riding in too few days, and those that ride with me feel exhausted. I look forward to the rest of the story.

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post #14 of 73 Old 03-28-2010, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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I have always maintained that a long ride is not much different than a short ride. We all should be fairly proficient at clutch and brake activity, countersteering and such. If not, we would have weeded ourselves out by now. No, the hardest thing about a long ride is the mental part. Worrying about the bike breaking down in the middle of nowhere is right up there with my major worry. The next big concern is whether I can handle being solo for so long or worse, can I handle being with someone for a long time?

I think riding with just one good buddy can be ideal if the two of you are suited. Jim puts up with my sarcasm and nit picking and I put up with him being like my Grampaw. Overall, except for his horribly stinking boots we got along pretty well. But we have known each other 30 years.

Thanks for reading my report.

2000 Honda Sabre VT1100 (194,000 miles)
2005 Suzuki DL650 (116,000 miles)
1976 BMW R90/6 (33,000 miles)
2009 Vespa GTS250ie (8200 miles)
1993 Honda CB750 (13,000 miles)
2013 BMW R1200GS LC (16,600 miles)
2015 Kawasaki KLR650E (3,200 miles)

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post #15 of 73 Old 03-29-2010, 08:42 PM
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Great report, anxiously awaiting the next chapter.

2018 Eastern V-Strom Gathering (website) - May 17 - 20, 2018
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2006 Suzuki V-Strom DL650K
1986 Honda Shadow VT700C
1974 Suzuki TM-250
1966 Triumph Bonneville T-120R
1965 Suzuki 80
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post #16 of 73 Old 03-29-2010, 09:12 PM
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Alaska is on my list. As a scouter and backpacker looking to translate to moto camping.

Good to hear a blend of road, travel, personalities,and personal experience.


Keep it coming.
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post #17 of 73 Old 04-02-2010, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
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July 4, 2009
Miles 3411-3918




We woke at 6:30 without a cloud in the sky. Packing up was a pleasure. The only debris on the tent floors was a little bit of sand. You could put your tent on the smooth rocks next to the sandy beach while to morning sun dried the tent. Then a simple shake of the tent had the floor clean.

We rode back to the Alcan and headed north. Just five miles up the road was a small café. The owner was the cook, waiter, and chief bottle washer. He had a mellow dog that wandered about the café and ignored the customers. He looked more like a wolf than a dog.

The café showcased the trophies of local hunters. The number and variety of birds and animals that were prepared by a local taxidermist was like wandering through a free museum while our omelets were being cooked. Another part of the café was a showcase for a local artisan who made bowls from spruce burls. The craftsman would look for fallen spruce trees that were at least fifty years old. The burls on trees this old were already seasoned and when split, hollowed, polished and heavily varnished with a thick clear epoxy these old burls would not crack. They were very beautiful pieces of woodwork. On another corner of the café folding tables that were made with laminated strips of nine different types of wood were displayed. These were made by a friend of the owner’s in Vancouver during the winter and sold in his café during the summer. The prices on the wood craft pieces and tables were very reasonable and I thought they would make nice gifts for people who had everything.






Breakfast arrived and was eaten with gusto. It was becoming a routine to stop for breakfast at the first local café we encountered after packing up. I got the same thing and yet the different ways of preparing scrambled eggs, pancakes, toast and home fries made it seem like I was eating a different breakfast every day. It is similar to ordering a taco in a different Mexican restaurant to gauge the cooking there. It is hard to screw up a taco (although some places can do it) and it is a benchmark of the quality of cooking you will find at the establishment. Jim ate the same thing at every breakfast too, but the degree of instructions that he had to give the waitress each day about how he wanted his fried eggs prepared made the order taking process longer than it needed to be and a bit painful at times. That’s the beauty of ordering scrambled eggs. Unless you are some kind of freak, you needn’t tell the waitress how to scramble them: “Add 2 tablespoons of low fat milk, and be sure to salt and pepper them before you scramble them. I want them moderately moist when served…etc” My mind wandered. I wondered if I had remembered to pack up my hatchet.

We left the café feeling very full. There was a gas station and a sign that said no gas for 160 kilometers. I looked at my trip meter and quickly computed that it might be close but should be doable. The road stretched out between mountain ranges, every minute on the bike was like watching an endless parade of beautiful vistas roll by. I watched a Canadian Air Force C-130 fly over at 500 feet and bank slowly to the right. Then it flew over again and again.

After an hour the gas gauge was flashing at me. I figured I had 40 to 50 more miles to the gas station that was about 50 miles away. The tendency is to speed up and get to the station. You have to slow down for maximum cruise efficiency. We were encountering more unpaved sections and heavy gravel so slowing down was working out well. I began to worry that the next gas stop might be closed and was happy that I had the extra gallon strapped to the rear box. Finally road signs telling of the next gas stop appeared next to a heavily graveled section of road. The gas station rolled into view and I pulled in.



The gas station looked more like a cluttered souvenir shop. There was a single old pump out front that looked like a non working antique. I hoped they had gas. An old man ambled out as I opened the gas cap. This pump was not digital so the price per liter could not go higher than 99.9. After pumping gas the owner had to get out his calculator to tell me how much I owed. The price seemed within line with all the other stations in Canada. Gas in the desolate interior areas was as much as $1.35 Canadian per liter.

I had expected Jim to be right behind me. But he was nowhere in sight. I could see a half mile south on the highway and worried that he may have fallen in the heavy gravel. While the old man was filling up my tank I told him about my buddy. How he always ran out of gas on every one of our rides. How he seemed to always find the hard way to do something that could be done faster and easier another way. The old man said he knew people like that. Jim showed up after my tank was filled and I had paid for the gas. The old man didn’t miss a beat and wanted to have fun at Jim’s expense and told him straight up, “I don’t have any gas.”

Jim had run out of gas and his delay getting to the gas station was caused by his having to take off his spare gas can to put in the spare gallon of gas we each carried. Then he had to reattach the gas can. There was a look of anxiety and disbelief when the man told him he had no gas. I looked at him and confirmed that there was no gas at this station, a plausible idea considering the look of the rusted old gas pump. The old man added, the next station was 100 miles north and we were welcome to stay up to three weeks for free behind his place.

I asked him if there were any fish in the lakes around here. He said, “Just small fish.”
Then he launched into a story about a circus that had passed through a few weeks ago and one of the alligators in the circus had escaped into the lake. A tourist had been fishing and hooked the gator pulling him into the lake. The gator snapped off the man’s leg before they could pull him out. He then looked at Jim and said, “Is it getting deep enough for you yet?”

He then filled up Jim’s tank with gas. We stayed and talked to the old man who was also named Jim, and his wife Corrie and petted their dog. They had lots of stories and you could tell they enjoyed talking to folks as they passed through. They had a pot bellied stove in the center of the general store that was pumping out hideous heat with the outdoor temperature at 75 degrees F. I asked why they had the stove going. It was to keep water ready for tea.



We stayed at the store and talked to them for 45 minutes then headed north again. The mountains, trees, lakes and sloughs rolled by. We encountered ten mile sections of dusty unpaved roadway. Even though unpaved they were well graded with no washboards or pot holes. It was easy to go 50 miles per hour if you could see through the dust. The asphalt portions contained numerous frost heaves, pot holes and bumpy patched areas that had us weaving around the road using both sides when no traffic was coming. This allowed us to take the cleanest line up the road. It is important to avoid the pot holes to prevent a broken rim. Hitting a deep pot hole at 50-60 mph can be very rough on the tires and rims. Whoever was leading would point out the big ones with their leg for the person following.



We crossed into Alaska for the third time at Beaver Creek. The US Customs agent saw my military base decal on my bike and asked me if I was in the military. I replied I was in the Navy Reserve. He waved me through and said, “thank you for serving.” It cost him nothing to say that and yet hearing it on July 4th while entering the US from a foreign country felt good. I was home again.

The ride to Tok was not particularly beautiful. There were some curves and very distant views of mountains. But most of the view was flat marshy areas of scrub spruce with many of the spruce trees appearing dead.

Tok was a widely spread out small town with a few businesses well off the highway. A local rodeo was taking place as part of the Fourth of July festivities. We stopped at Fast Eddies for lunch. It was good food with friendly fast service. By now I was becoming good at taking a fast bath in a restroom. After washing my hands and face, I wet my short hair and then wiped dry. I felt clean again.

It was my turn to buy wine. Jim had wanted more than the amount we had in a liter bottle so I bought a liter and a half of Carlos Rossi red for a few bucks. I asked the saleslady to put a higher price sticker on it to fake out my buddy. She asked, “Is $18 ok?”
I said, “Make it $26.”

She dialed in $26 on her price tagging gadget and stuck it on the bottle before I left. This could come in handy when it was Jim’s turn to pay for something. He would never realize that Carlos Rossi wine should not be this pricey. I stowed it in my box and met Jim at the gas station across the highway. We checked our oil. We were both about ¼ quart on the low side so we split a quart of oil. This was not bad oil consumption for over 3,000 miles of hot, dusty riding.

We headed southwest out of Tok toward Anchorage. I was careful to stay within the speed limit since entering Alaska. The LEOs in the US were much less tolerant of speeders than the very rare RCMP we encountered in Canada. We were lit up twice in Canada but not pulled over. There were local police pulling folks over everywhere in Alaska. It could have something to do with it being July 4th weekend.

Just outside of Tok were encountered several lakes with a moose grazing in two of them next to the highway. We stopped to marvel at these creatures and take some photos.



We drove toward Valdez as the day grew longer and we began to tire. I was looking for a likely spot to camp for the night but the property on the highway south to Valdez was either private property or contained the Alaska pipeline. All the nice highway turnouts to the pipeline displayed a warning sign about blocking the road, etc. We drove on to Valdez hoping something would show up as it was approaching 10PM and we had covered almost 500 miles.

The closer to Valdez the more beautiful the scenery became. We passed the turn off for Kennicott. Soon sweepers dominated our route through a valley offering views of mountains with waterfalls and glaciers. We stopped for photos of Worthington glacier which was easily reached from a parking lot next to the highway.

Several rafts full of people were seen floating the river leading to Prince William Sound as we closed in on Valdez. They looked like they were having fun in the whitewater. Ordinarily this would not seem unusual, but it was 10:30 in the evening! The rafting outfitters would stay open as long as it was light and there were people who wanted to float the river. This is something you would never see in the lower 48, because it would be too dark to see it happening at this hour of the night.



We were getting low on fuel again and the long downhill was helping our fuel consumption. I had computed I had at least 20-30 more miles left in the tank but was worried that Jim would be out of gas soon. It was July 4th and all the good spots to camp along the road were already jammed with families and campers. I knew that the closer to Valdez we got the less likely we would find a camp spot. I turned on the road to Pump Station 1, the end of the Alaska Pipeline where there was a campground.

The “camp ground” consisted of parking spaces next to the road. This could be probably the least beautiful site we ever encountered on our journey. It was close to the water for the salmon fishermen and at least there was a nice view of Prince William Sound with the mountains towering over the city of Valdez showing the late evening sun struggling to set. The only available site was just 100 yards from the secure gate to Pump Station 1. It had barely enough room for our two tents between two RVs. We didn’t even attempt to use our tent pegs as this would require pounding them into asphalt. We resorted to tying our tents to the curb stops on one side and our motorcycles on the opposite end. We signed off our merit badges for “Urban Camping”. As we were completing setting up the tents a young girl ran by saying there was a brown bear nearby. She said a dog was giving it a hard time. I saw no need to hurry over to get close to an angry grizzly.


We spoke to our neighbors in an RV on our right. They were a retired couple from Wisconsin and spent their summers fishing and canning their catch in their RV for later use. Canned fish are not included in total catch limits. So they could catch their daily limits, can them and go at it again the next day. The husband was a Marine in 1954. We enjoyed talking about the usual things, our home states, the military, our vacations, what the Dalton Highway was like, the mosquitoes, etc. In talking to them we got the idea to do the glacier cruise to see the icebergs calve. Then we heard about the ferry to Whittier. Just then the ice cream lady made another run through the campground. It was now around midnight.



This got us to thinking. Why not try to get on the morning 5 ½ hour ferry to Whittier? This would have the dual purpose of offering us a cruise of the Sound to see the mountains and ocean mammals and also get us to Whittier and the Kenai without having to ride our bikes over 5 hours to Anchorage saving us time, gas, and tire wear. We also would not have to leave our bikes and gear parked in Valdez while we spent all day on a glacier cruise. In going this route we noted we would avoid backtracking over the road we came to Valdez on and then back tracking the roads from the Kenai to Anchorage and Anchorage to Glennallen on the way home. It was perfect. It meant we would get to Anchorage a few days later than we had planned by doing the Kenai first via Whittier. It was perfect in so many ways. Why hadn’t we thought of this first? We watched the last rays of sunlight go behind the mountains.





The July 4th fireworks began 2 miles away in Valdez across the sound at 12:30AM. It was strange seeing fireworks going off during daylight but if they had waited until it was as dark as it could be, the fireworks display would be at 2AM and it would only be minimally darker. We slept well on the asphalt campground. We had a mission for the morning: make the first ferry to Whittier.

2000 Honda Sabre VT1100 (194,000 miles)
2005 Suzuki DL650 (116,000 miles)
1976 BMW R90/6 (33,000 miles)
2009 Vespa GTS250ie (8200 miles)
1993 Honda CB750 (13,000 miles)
2013 BMW R1200GS LC (16,600 miles)
2015 Kawasaki KLR650E (3,200 miles)

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post #18 of 73 Old 04-02-2010, 02:25 AM Thread Starter
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July 5, 2009
Miles 3918-4098






Sleeping on asphalt wasn’t so bad. I have been using a closed cell foam pad under my Thermarest pad for added comfort. I couldn’t tell I was on asphalt or soft grass. We were up at5AM to try to get to the first ferry. We packed and were on the road by 6:30. Less than a half mile from the camp ground we saw a medium sized grizzly wandering around. He was only 100 feet off the left side of the road as we passed. He heard our bikes coming and began to run. We slowed down to get a good look at him. He was running parallel to the road and soon realized he could not outrun us. He allowed us to pass by and then crossed the road behind us as we passed. Jim watched him cross the road and said he looked both ways before he crossed. He then ran into the woods on the other side of the road. It would turn out to be the only brown bear we would see on our trip.

We found a gas station and filled our tanks. I was averaging 51 miles per gallon. Not bad. We entered the town of Valdez as everyone was still asleep from their July 4th festivities. We took a few pictures and found the ferry terminal. We parked the bikes and went inside to check on passage. There happened to be a ferry for Whittier leaving in an hour at 8AM. The fare for a rider and his bike was $165. This may seem a bit steep but we rationalized it by reminding us that it was our Prince William Sound cruise, it would save us $30 worth of gas, it was worth something to avoid a long day of riding and putting the wear and tear on our bikes and we would get a shower on board.

After purchasing our tickets boarding began as it was now 7AM. A small cue of cars had already formed outside. This meant we had to exit the parking lot and turn left then make a quick U turn to get into the cue. As I whipped in behind the last car in the cue I heard a crash behind me. I turned to see Jim’s bike lying on its right side. He was unable to negotiate the U turn and dropped his bike. I put my side stand down and climbed off my bike to help him pick up his bike. This was not an unexpected sight. Jim usually manages to drop his bike at least once or twice (sometimes more) on all of our long trips. I don’t understand it but I have come to accept it. No ride with Jim is considered complete unless he drops his bike. At least his Vstrom as configured ensured no damage was done. The heavy duty aluminum hand guards protected the brake lever and the hard cases were able to support the weight of the bike.

The morning mosquitoes are fierce while we wait for the line to move. Motorcycles are loaded first so we move into the motorcycle line and are quickly waved forward. We had just showed our ID’s to buy the tickets. Then we show the tickets and ID’s to go into the loading area. Then a cranky old lady at the entrance of the ferry asks to see our “ID’s” so I hand her my military ID. She says she needs to see my driver’s license. I am curious why a military ID is not good enough identification to get on the ferry and ask her politely. She gets even crankier and says, “I need to see the driver’s license to see if you are legal to drive your bike on the boat!”

I am wondering why she didn’t ask for a driver’s license instead of an ID which can be any number of legal documents such as passports, military ID’s, police, FBI, or DEA ID’s, etc. Then to top it off, she doesn’t even look for the M1 motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license which actually makes me legal to drive my motorcycle on board. So I guess she must have missed her morning bowel movement and is just being cranky. Perhaps she is just hung over from a late night of Fourth of July partying. I drive onto the ferry and begin to park my bike.

We had been given two tie-down straps by the ticket agent to secure our bikes on board. I have a great deal of experience tying down and transporting dirt bikes on pick up trucks and cruisers on trailers, but the loaders on the boat must be expecting either heavy seas in the protected sound or a change in the usual laws of physics. I have an impatient loader barking at me about how to secure my bike. I ignore him and adopt a passive aggressive response as I ponder the fact that the British Columbia ferries do not even require a bike to be tied down. After securing my bike in a way would survive rounding the Cape of Magellan, I then go about collecting my toiletries and clean underwear. I want to find the showers as soon as possible.

We go up the ladder (a Navy term for stairs) to find the head (bathroom). On the next deck (floor) we ask for the shower and are directed to it. Jim and I are showered and shaved before the ferry is finished loading and are standing in line for breakfast as the ship pulls out of port. Not bad.

We strike up conversations with the folks around us. Nearby is a group of four young people with a baby. They all know each other and one person now lives in Anchorage. They are on vacation from the eastern US. Another lady behind us is tour bus driver. She is busy on her laptop and gives us information about the Dalton Highway. We meet another guy who lives in Mrytle Beach, South Carolina who works on the Dalton Highway in the summer. His advice about the highway is very helpful. He says there is no “off camber” to the road that would cause us to slide off. He does mention that when encountering trucks coming at you, slow way down. That way, any large rocks they kick up will hit you at a slower speed than if you were going 50mph.

We watch the sound open up into a larger body of water. Then the boat slows as we begin to dodge small ice bergs. The deep blue color of the floating ice is fascinating. We meet a young couple on the open deck and talk for most of the trip. She is a wildlife management specialist and spends large amounts of time camping in the woods doing fish studies. We pick her brain regarding bear encounters. She has had a number of them and usually carries a massive handgun with her in the woods. Her boyfriend is a carpenter in Anchorage and is working on a boardwalk over a slough outside of Whittier. He tells us to look for it just past the tunnel out of Whittier.







The 3 mile tunnel is the only way for vehicles to get in and out of Whittier. It was built for a narrow gauge train. They allow traffic to go one way into town each half hour and one way out the other half hour. If you miss your turn you have to wait up to a half hour for the next turn. We exited the ferry, or at least I exited it. Jim was still futzing as the boat emptied out. I went straight for the tunnel to get in line so I would not miss our turn. There was only one way out of town with a couple of side streets going to the harbor or to the small town center. I looked for Jim but after 15 minutes I figured he had decided to do something else. The cars and RVs were lining up in one area and the bikes were in another. It would be our turn to go in about 5 minutes. Jim finally shows up as the cars and RV’s are moving into the tunnel. The bikes are held for last. I ask the traffic director why this is so. He says that the tunnel is wet and the train tracks are only about 2 feet apart. Bikers are expected to ride in the exact center between the rails. A lot of bikers go down in the tunnel and they do not want them to hold up traffic. Great. Jim has a slightly worried look.

The ride through the tunnel is a bit dicey. I let Jim go in front of me so I could see if he were to go down. That way I could help him get his bike back up. He went very slow making the ride not only longer than it should have been but also more technically difficult due to the fact that a bike wanders more at slower speeds and your corrections are more difficult. But I guess if you do fall at a slower speed your chance of severe injury is reduced. It’s just that your chance of falling seems greater due to the slower speed, so there.

Anyhow I was concentrating on not touching the instant wet rails of death on either side of my tires. You were forced to ride the narrow center area. Then just like in a Fun House, there are two areas they have placed enormous ventilation fans that tend to push you and your bike to the left as you pass them. Keeps you alert. We are the only two vehicles left in the tunnel as we get slower and slower. I begin to yell at Jim to go a bit faster but he can’t hear me or is too afraid to do it. I consider stopping so he will get a bit further ahead of me as it is becoming too difficult to avoid the rails at walking speeds. Even the Harley Davidson rider has exited the tunnel well ahead of us, what embarrassment. Just as I am about to lose my summer tan, we exit the tunnel.

The day becomes very hot as we ride toward Cooper’s Landing on the Kenai River. Our lack of sleep catches up with us and we stop to make coffee and take a nap off the highway. It is unbelievable how hot the day is. It is 85 degrees and sunny, hotter than San Diego. The hordes of flies make it hard to get a good nap. We move on toward Cooper’s Landing to look for a fishing outfitter. We are thinking it would be a tragedy to come to the Kenai and not fish for salmon and trout even though the cost for a full day float trip with fishing licenses is over $300 per person.

We find a nice spot to camp along the river and make our way to the Princess Resort overlooking the river to have a few beers and dinner. The food is excellent with very large portions. The resort is filled with tourists fresh off the boat (FOB). They get a vacation package deal by off-loading in Homer and taking a bus to the Kenai and Anchorage. The bay around Anchorage is too shallow to allow cruise ships to anchor. They even have tour packages to take people on a bus to Prudhoe Bay. I think that would be a painful way to go. If I could not ride a bike there I would rather just fly.

We turn in for the night with a wake up at 6AM for our float trip. I hang my bear vault high in a tree just to be safe. This will help me earn my “wild carnivore merit badge”. I still have to complete the evasion and escape portions to qualify for this badge. Jim will help me with this part later on the trip by throwing his used fried chicken bones down around the tent when we are camping off the Dalton Highway.

2000 Honda Sabre VT1100 (194,000 miles)
2005 Suzuki DL650 (116,000 miles)
1976 BMW R90/6 (33,000 miles)
2009 Vespa GTS250ie (8200 miles)
1993 Honda CB750 (13,000 miles)
2013 BMW R1200GS LC (16,600 miles)
2015 Kawasaki KLR650E (3,200 miles)

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post #19 of 73 Old 04-02-2010, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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July 6, 2009
Miles 4098-4223




We meet at Kenai Cache Outfitter’s at 6:30AM (www.kenaicache.com) for the float and fishing trip. The part of the river we will be on does not allow the use of a motorboat. We are using a boat that is common here. It looks like a dory with a flat bottom and steeply curved bow and stern. They use heavy duty oars. Our guide Matt is a recent grad from the University of North Carolina. He and his dad spent many summers fishing the Kenai when he was growing up. The owner of the outfitter store knew him well and offered him a job as a guide when he graduated. He told us he was not ready for the corporate world just yet and enjoyed the life of fishing in Alaska.

We started at the end of the lake where the water begins to flow faster. Matt worked hard to position us about 200 yards east of the bridge where Dolly Varden and rainbow trout are found.


We soon caught a couple of each. They were big trout by any standard. They were between 3-5 pounds and abut 20 inches long. We netted them to take photos and released them. After a couple of hours we drifted down for sockeye salmon.



We used fly rods for the salmon. We cast out 30 feet and reeled in slowly while the swift current took the line downstream. It was difficult to tell if the salmon were nibbling or if we were feeling the sinker bouncing along the bottom. After a short while we learned to yank hard at the slightest sensation of a nibble. I had a few good strikes but they spit out the hooks. I was able to land a 10 pound sockeye.





The day was passing quickly even though we had not caught many fish. We head to a very active spot with only 45 minutes to go before we had to return to the shore. The salmon were thick and we were getting lots of strikes but just could not bring them in.

We finished the day satisfied with ourselves for doing the trip. We had a great time floating the river. I am determined to learn how to fly fish so I can do better next time with trout and salmon. Later on the trip we would stop in a fishing store in Anchorage to find fly rods beginning at $500 with reels to match for $500 or more. Add the cost of line, flies, creel, net, etc and you have a sport that can rival golf, especially if you buy a boat.

After paying to ship our frozen fish back home, we rode on toward Homer about 4 hours away. It was miserably hot when we left the outfitter. As we got within 10 miles of Soldotna the temperature fell 15 degrees. We were very sleepy so we stopped for espresso to wake up. Another 30 miles past Soldotna and we had to stop to put on warmer gear and zip up our vents on our jackets. The temperature now was under 60 degrees. This was a drop of 25 degrees in just 75 miles. It was not unlike driving from La Mesa to the San Diego beaches in the summer. The cooling effect of the ocean was tremendous.

We had been told to eat at a restaurant on the boardwalk across from the Salty Dog saloon. They had good fish dinners at this place. Jim wanted to ride through Homer until the road ended so he could say he had ridden as far west and north as possible in the United States. After we got that check in the block we looked at the “world famous” Salty Dog Saloon, big deal. It was a small crowded bar with a very low ceiling. It did not look inviting. It was the kind of place that probably made more money on tee shirt sales than on drinks.

We spoke to some folks from Orange County California who saw our bikes and tags. The man had a BMW 12000 GS and his wife had a F650 at home. They admired our accomplishment and spoke of wanting to do the same some day. We told them they had the bikes, just take the time off and do it.

We headed to the fish house to eat. The food and beer did not disappoint us. While we were eating a large group of kids came in with a few young adults who seemed to be in charge of the group. I asked one of the young ladies what they were doing. She said they were part of a summer camp for kids to do some humanitarian work in areas like Alaska. They had spent all day picking vegetables on a farm nearby. They said they were out of Ontario, Canada. Jim asked if they were part of a group whose name I do not recall. They said they were. He told them his daughter had trained at the same place in Ontario to do the same kind of summer camp in Costa Rica. They asked who his daughter was and when he told them they said, “Oh, we know her!”



It really is a small world. We talked to them for 10 minutes while the kids in their group finished their food and drinks. It was 11PM and the sun was getting low. Jim and I thought about finding a place to camp. Everything around the Spit at the end of the road was right on a rocky beach and you had to pay to camp there. It was windy and now 54 degrees there so we headed back up the highway to get gas and look for a state park we had heard of. On the way to the gas station I saw a campground in a large grassy area called Mariner’s Park a good 300 yards away from the beach. When we bought gas I asked some locals if this was free camping. They said yes. We backtracked a few miles to Mariner’s Park.

While I was putting up my tent a fellow who was very drunk came by and offered to have us sit by his fire. If we had not been so tired and if it were not already so late, we might have joined him, if he had not been so drunk. He rambled on about how the hippies and liberals had ruined Homer and killed job growth. I did notice that Homer was somewhat trendy looking, although it had not taken on a Mendocino look yet.

Setting up camp the temperature inside our tents away from the wind was considerably more comfortable. The grass made for a nice place to sleep. We slept well and packed up early to find the recommended coffee shop for breakfast.

2000 Honda Sabre VT1100 (194,000 miles)
2005 Suzuki DL650 (116,000 miles)
1976 BMW R90/6 (33,000 miles)
2009 Vespa GTS250ie (8200 miles)
1993 Honda CB750 (13,000 miles)
2013 BMW R1200GS LC (16,600 miles)
2015 Kawasaki KLR650E (3,200 miles)

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post #20 of 73 Old 04-04-2010, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Posts: 409
July 7, 2009
Miles 4223-4460



Pitching and packing the tents were getting easier. Jim could now get his tent packed in a timely fashion and he was also getting better at securing the load to his bike. We had been told to eat fresh baked items at a local bakery called Two Sisters that was in Homer. The GPS said it was only a few miles north of where we had camped. It was easily found off Main Street.

This part of Homer had a decided Mendocino look of über-trendiness to it. The bakery would have fit in either Mendocino, or Bend, Oregon. All the clientele wore sandals with socks and tee shirts sporting various “green” projects and slogans. I wished I had brought and worn my Aerostich tee shirt that sported the slogan "Pave the Planet. One world, one people, one slab of asphalt." It always gets some stares in places like this. (http://www.aerostich.com/sundry/t-sh...t-t-shirt.html)
Some people were busy on WiFi while they waited on their order to arrive. The bakery boasted a brick oven. The food was excellent but the service was a bit slow. Overall a good stop for breakfast if you don’t mind the trendy factor, some people actually go for the style over substance. (http://twosistersbakery.net/Home.html)





Jim was taking an unusually long time doing whatever he usually does before we get on the road. I was starting to get antsy and thought about my hatchet again. I told him I was going to ride around town and come back in 15 minutes when he was ready. That part of town did not require 15 minutes to see. I visited the sea shore area and rode up and down the short streets. I went back to the bakery and Jim was just beginning to climb on his bike. It wouldn’t be long now. Just another 5 or 10 minutes for him to zip up, put on his gloves, adjust his sun glasses, readjust his sun glasses a few times, put the key in the slot, back up with some difficulty and decide which way to go. Coming out of the parking lot he swung wide in front of a car and almost dropped his bike but recovered nicely. We were on our way. Just a short 240 miles of riding today to Anchorage where we had a house waiting for us offered by a friend of mine who is an airline pilot and Navy buddy.

The ride back up the Kenai was again very warm. The cumulative lack of sleep was beginning to take its toll. At one point where the road turns to three lanes to allow passing, I had a moment of micro-sleep and nearly weaved into oncoming traffic. We had been passing so many bikers coming at us that it was becoming tiring to wave at them. I barely noticed a biker passing us to the west that waved and I waved back. As he passed I thought, “That looked like Captain Kill Switch!” and did a double take. I pulled over and Jim came up behind me as I asked if he thought that was CKS. He also thought it was him. I asked if he wanted to go back for him and as soon as I said it I thought what a dumb idea. Jim immediately said, “No. If he wanted to ride with us he would have turned around.”

I knew he was right. We pressed onward to Anchorage. We by-passed the turn to Seward. We heard from others that Seward was a favorite city of theirs. Oh well, maybe next time. I was anxious to get to Anchorage to clean our gear, bike and clothes and have a nice stay in Anchorage. The next day we would sight see, change our oil, filters and tires and get ready for the unpaved portion of our ride on the Denali and Dalton Highways. We predicted over 700 miles of unpaved roads. We expected to go 2000 miles on this part of the ride and return to Anchorage in six or seven days.

My Anchorage buddy and his wife were out of town for several weeks but left us a key behind the garage door. We found their house with the help of the GPS. It was a beautiful two story home on the side of the mountain just outside the Chugach National Forrest. It was 800 feet above sea level and looked west toward the Anchorage skyline about 10 miles away. There were fresh moose droppings in the driveway.

We showered and found some beer in the fridge and cleaned our small pile of dirty clothes. At this point, nothing would have helped Jim’s boots except incineration. He refused to toss them because he wanted to send them back to Tourmaster to complain about the lack of waterproofing.

We headed into town for a fish dinner at Humpy’s restaurant. It felt good to be on our lighter, stripped down bikes. The food there is very good and there is usually live music starting later in the evening. We enjoyed talking to other tourists about our trip. After finishing up at Humpy’s we went to the Snow Goose for a beer. By the time we decided to head home we were hungry again and stopped at the Moose’s Tooth for a pizza. This place has very tasty and unique combination pizzas. You can check them out at www.moosestooth.net.

The Moose's Tooth was very popular and crowded so we sat at the counter. A young couple seated next to us was having a very large pizza. I struck up a conversation and discovered the young lady had recently graduated from Middle Tennessee State University which is virtually next door to where I grew up as a youngster. It seemed like everyone we met had a common bond with either Jim or me.

We closed down The Moose’s Tooth and headed back to the house for sleep. Night was closing in on us at 12:30AM.

2000 Honda Sabre VT1100 (194,000 miles)
2005 Suzuki DL650 (116,000 miles)
1976 BMW R90/6 (33,000 miles)
2009 Vespa GTS250ie (8200 miles)
1993 Honda CB750 (13,000 miles)
2013 BMW R1200GS LC (16,600 miles)
2015 Kawasaki KLR650E (3,200 miles)

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Last edited by docsabre; 04-04-2010 at 11:41 AM. Reason: add html for Two Sisters bakery
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