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Discussion Starter #1
I recently returned from what for me was an epic cross continent trip to the Canadian Arctic and Alaska. I'm posting this ride report at Adventure Rider but I hope that perhaps it is OK to post here as well?

~TR~
 

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Discussion Starter #2
The Spell of the Yukon

~ Robert Service ~

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy, I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it --
Came out with a fortune last fall, --
Yet somehow life's not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn't all.....​

Introduction

As I near 50 years of age, I often look back on my life so far. I contemplate the choices and decisions I've made, my failures and accomplishments, dreams and goals. The past while I have not been a happy person. Something is missing. I have never felt such discontent and restlessness. Why? I have a wonderful wife and children whom love me very much. I have a nice home. I have a good job that pays pretty well. I have my health. But still, I’m not content. I am tired of the daily routine. I find that I have fallen into a rut of repetitious existence. My spirit is dieing a bit more every day. There is much more to living than this.

Since getting involved in motorcycling a number of years ago (after my first life crisis), I've come to enjoy long distance touring; every trip taking me farther and farther off the beaten track. Riding my motorcycle always took my mind off life's problems and the daily grind. One cold winter's night while "surfing the net" searching for interesting routes and roads for future trips, I came across a unique website, "Adventure Rider". I was inspired. Reading the well documented ride reports of two wheeled adventurers traveling through far off lands got me dreaming. What a better way to warm my soul and put some adventure back into my life than to do a long distance, epic solo trip to a place far away on a motorcycle! Time to "go walkabout"..... Alaska and the Arctic would be the destination!

I started doing some preliminary planning for this trip back in 2007. Then I owned a Honda VTX1800 cruiser that I felt no longer was the right bike for me. I needed something that was more nimble in the twisties and could perform reasonably on rough gravel roads. In 2008 I traded my VTX for a Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom. I spent that summer outfitting and farkling the bike to transform it into a machine that I was confident could take me across the continent and back, not always on the easiest path. In addition, I upgraded all my camping gear. I did a couple of trial trips down through the Appalachians trying out different gear, coming home and ordering more!

My 2009 trip plan was to ride across the US plains as far as the Rocky Mountains in Montana then turn right. I planned to visit the Sand Hills of Nebraska, the Black Hills of South Dakota, travel Beartooth pass from Wyoming into Montana, Visit Glacier NP and then cross back into Canada. I planned to see some of the Kootenays of BC, Banff and Jasper in AB, and make a 2 day stop in Hyder in southern Alaska to see the Salmon Glacier and perhaps some fishing Grizzlies as I worked my way North to Whitehorse in the Yukon. After a much needed tire change and bike service I would continue north to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories to see the midnight sun then back south-west into Alaska. After a number of days touring AK, I decided I would take a Canadian route across the prairies, around the Great Lakes and finally home. I had planned to camp most of the way hoping not to be ravaged by bears or other scary campground dwellers!

Well it’s hard for me to believe but after 2 years of dreaming, planning, spending and preparing, my epic cross continent motorcycle trip to the Arctic & Alaska is now just a memory. I figure after being home for a week, I best get this RR started. What an awe inspiring adventure it truly was. Any expectations I had for this trip were greatly exceeded! I know there have been many fantastic ride reports, especially about travels to Alaska & the Arctic, but please sit back and journey with me......





 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Day 1

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

~ Marcel Proust


Day 1 – June 12
Home > Ludington, Michigan > Manitowoc, Wisconsin (Super Eight)
Today’s mileage: 645.4 km, Trip to date: 645.4 km



I was up pretty early today, didn’t really sleep all that soundly. I had lots on my mind. I kind of felt like a kid at Christmas. I felt both excited and nervous at the same time. I’ve done many motorcycle trips over the years but nothing close to the magnitude of what I was about to embark upon. My wife and I had spent some quality personal time together the night before as my waiting bike had been packed and re-packed for over a week now!

While my supportive wife watched on in the drive, I geared up, warmed up the bike, did a final check over and then said farewell, I love you, I’ll be back soon. I was off! The dream starts! I couldn’t help feel an up-welling of emotion at that moment. That same emotion would visit me on numerous occasions throughout this trip.

Today’s ride wasn’t anything special. It was mostly on 400 series / interstate highways to get to the far side of Michigan to catch a ferry across the lake >

http://www.ssbadger.com/home.aspx

I had done this on a previous trip to the west and it sure beats going down through the busy Chicago traffic. The ship didn’t leave until 7:55 pm so I had all sorts of time to get there. I did get into Ludington fairly early so I found a good spot for a couple of beers and a bite to eat >

http://www.jamesportbrewingcompany.com/

It was still pretty early and I had about 3 hours to kill so I hung out at the Ludington beach. While I was sitting on a park bench enjoying the sunshine and “scenery”, I hear a motorcycle pull in behind me. It’s a lady rider, Corinne, riding a Volusia towing a homemade uni-wheel trailer packed to the gunwales with gear. She was quite the character. She was out for a solo camping weekend along Michigan’s West lakeshore. We chatted for about an hour then she bid me safe journey and went on her way.

The ferry ride across the lake although quite calm, was windy and cold. I didn’t spend much time out on deck. The ship wasn’t very full like the last trip I remember. Must be because it was a Friday and early in the season. It was pretty well stocked however with locally brewed libations! I had booked a motel room on the other side because I did not want to set up camp or hunt for accommodations at midnight.




Good bye Kate





Checking in





The “Spartan”





Chasing the gulls at Ludington beach





Oh, to be younger again!





Corinne shows up












My Ship is in









Loading gangway on the stern





All stowed away





Leaving port to the west













Ludington in the distance





Heading west into the sunset





On the bridge






Calm waters





 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Day 2

"Our Nature lies in movement; complete calm is death."

~ Pascal, Pensées


Day 2 – June 13
Manitowoc, Wisconsin > Lake View, Iowa (Blackhawk State Park)
Today’s mileage: 794.3 km, Trip to date: 1,439.7 km



The day started out rather dark, cloudy and gloomy. It seemed rain was looming to the west. I had hoped the roads I had chosen would prove to be more interesting than yesterday’s ride. I started off on Route 151 and got as far as Lake Winnebago but soon had to detour back to the east due to construction. It seemed 151 was tore up for miles. Too bad because I remember it as rather scenic as it follows the shores of the lake from a previous trip. I followed Route 60 along the Wisconsin River all the way to Prairie du Chien where I crossed over the Mississippi River into Iowa. Route 13 to the south-west was quite curvy and entertaining, Then it was time to head straight west and that’s when the topography changed…. damn is Iowa flat! I took route 3 then 20 straight west.

I decided to spend the night at a Blackhawk State Park near Lake View. When I got there I was in for a surprise. The place was a hive of buzzing motor boats, screaming jet skis, party pontoon boats, bass boats and any other thing that could float. I should have known better. It was a Saturday and this part of Iowa wasn’t exactly strewn with water sport recreation areas! It was crowded, noisy with every kind popular music wailing away on thumping car stereo systems. This wasn’t my idea of serenity, but I was tired and it would have to do. The picture of my journal entry for the day kind of sums things up! After setting up camp, I went into town for supplies, came back and had a few beers and hit the sack wearing my earplugs and had a rather sound sleep, oblivious to the outside revelry.

I didn’t take many pictures today and that would have to change. I’m not quite in vacation mode at this stage of the trip. It takes me a bit to get into the right mind set.


View of Lake Winnebago from 151



My camp that day. At least I was close to the shitter!



Part of my journal entry for day 2. I’m not happy!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Day 3

". . .travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."

~ Miriam Beard ~



Day 3 – June 14
Lake View, Iowa > Gordon, Nebraska (Western Sands Motel)
Today’s mileage: 687.5 km, Trip to date: 2127.2 km



It’s kind of funny….. everyone I speak to along the way so far look at me in an odd way when they hear of my destination, Alaska. They learn of where I’m from and comment….. “Aren’t you going the wrong way”? My response is always “I’m taking a short cut”!

I was up pretty early today. It was starting to rain lightly as I packed up camp. I took the time to make coffee and some instant oatmeal. It had rained pretty hard to the west of me during the night. I think the entire US mid-west had received more than its share of rain this year. Today would bring some real adventure!

From Balckhawk Lake SP I was going to do a bit of gravel riding; a short cut to get me up to Sioux City, Iowa. I missed a turn so I decided to take the next left. The road started to get narrower and narrower. I recall seeing a sign that read “gravel ends”. Where I live that’s an indication that there is pavement ahead…. wrong assumption here! I had picked up some steam as I crested a hill and before me wasn’t pavement at all but rather deep, fresh, slippery mud! Oh shit! My bike very quickly got snaky and within seconds I spun around 180 degrees as I slid backwards to a stop in the slop. Adventure, Yeah! I guess it happens to everyone sooner or later, and this was my very first get-off. No damage done but there was mud everywhere. It took me some time to stand my scoot back up because every attempt to right it using proper techniques resulted in me slipping on my ass to the muddy ground below. Finally I just bent over and picked the beast up. I had to wedge some rocks and wood under the kick stand to keep her up. I’m kind of lucky the bike fell the way it did because there was no going down the road the way I was headed. I detached the side cases and set them aside. While gently feathering the clutch and throttle, I walked the bike back up the hill to firmer ground. I spent the next half hour trying to clean mud from around the wheels, brakes, fenders, chain & suspension with my hands. When I eventually got back onto Route 20, I stopped at the first car wash I came to and gave both the bike and myself a good spray down!

I eventually crossed into Nebraska on Route 12, “The Outlaw Trail” What a fantastic road in the middle of the plains! I found Nebraska to be very beautiful in a stark, desolate way. I found the sand hills to be very different; not like anything I had seen before. I quite enjoyed this route. I did start to notice little lumps on the road which turned out not to be cow dung but turtles sunning themselves. At one point I stopped and moved one off the road but he very quickly (for a turtle) went back out. That’s determination!

I had planned to camp at Cottonwood Lake State Park near Merriman, Nebraska but when I got there I found that overnight camping was no longer permitted. Shit, now what! I gassed up and continued on to Gordon, Nebraska where I decided it best to “puss” out and get a motel room due impending severe thunderstorms ahead. I stayed at the Western Sands Motel which turned out to be inexpensive, clean, had wifi and was close to all the amenities…. Well I did discover that you can’t purchase alcoholic beverages on Sundays in Gordon, Nebraska. Good thing I carried some emergency rations of spiced rum!




Biffed V-Strom





Adventure, hell yeah!





Tracks in the mud





We’re having fun now!









Along the Outlaw Trail





Save the turtles!













Sand hills, lush and green from rain.













Cow dog mooching for some of my jerky





My digs for the night

 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Day 4

"We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment."

~ Hilaire Belloc

Day 4 – June 15
Gordon, Nebraska > Devil’s Tower, Wyoming
Today’s mileage: 528.8 km, Trip to date: 2656.1 km



I left Gordon this morning under brilliant skies. Today was going to be a great day. There’s nothing that lifts the motorcycle traveler’s spirit like early morning sunshine! Today I would eventually start to head north-west and revisit the Black Hills of South Dakota. I had been out here a few years back and really enjoyed the riding in the area. I took in a few of my favourite roads: Custer SP Wildlife Loop, Iron Mountain Rd up to Mt Rushmore, Norris Peak Rd, Nemo Rd, and Spearfish Canyon to name a few.

I did bump into another ADV Rider from Oregon at the Pactola Reservoir rest area that was headed east. We talked a bit about my trip to Alaska and I mentioned to him my travel routes. He made some suggestions that I would later do. I’m sorry I didn’t get your name but thank you!

As I was leaving Spearfish Canyon, the sky was getting very dark and I could actually hear the sound of thunder bounce off the canyon cliffs inside my helmet. I was riding down the main street of Spearfish when ahead what looked like a tidal wave was quickly approaching from the direction I was headed. I recall a car wash (I’ve gotten good at spotting them this trip!) I just passed and quickly did a u-turn and headed back for cover. Good thing because within seconds a hail and heavy rain dropped out of the dark sky above. It was very intense and as the car wash roof was made or metal, very loud too! A number of cars came along looking for a place to seek shelter and one fellow squeezed in behind me. The hail was at least the size of dimes and would have hurt like hell had I kept going. I waited for the storm to pass for about 45 minutes. The guy that pulled into the car wash with me was checking the weather radar on his “crackberry” and it appeared that a hole in the storm that might allow me to get to the Devil’s Tower unscathed. I was off! Although the skies looked very threatening, I made it to the Devil’s Tower KOA without the sky falling again. The weather forecast for that evening was still very unsettled and after the hail storm earlier, I didn’t feel like sleeping in a tent. I decided to check into a KOA Kabin….. with a view! So much for my travel budget!

I unpacked and went out in search of supplies (beer). It just so happens that the KOA store had what I was after. The nice lady working there also invited me to a nightly showing of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” to be shown on the patio right bellow the Devil’s Tower itself…… no shit! That was of course if it didn’t rain. I went back to my “kabin”, cooked up a pot of soup, drank my beers, downloaded my photographs, updated the photo site, had a fine KOA shower, and retired to my “kabin” where I promptly fell asleep dreaming of alien abduction and curvy roads strewn with big beastly bison….


Roadside rest area view along Route 385















Where the Antelope roam…..





I have a great deal of respect for these big dudes, especially when riding a motorcycle! I’ll explain sometime…..





More of them





And yet many more!





Mount Rushmore





George





Spearfish Canyon water fall





In Spearfish Canyon





Hail storm





Looming storms










Huh?





Devil’s Tower





My “Kabin” for the night





The view from my “Kabin”






 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Day 5

"Spirit of place! It is for this we travel, to surprise its subtlety; and where it is a strong and dominant angel, that place, seen once, abides entire in the memory with all its own accidents, its habits, its breath, its name."

~ Alice Meynell


Devil’s Tower, Wyoming > Red Lodge, Montana (Alpine Lodge)
Today’s mileage: 686.6 km, Trip to date: 3342.7 km



As a child, mountains, tall snow capped mountains captured my imagination. They would always be the subject matter of my drawings and paintings. I dreamed of traveling through them as the early settlers, miners and hunters did. Their rugged majestic beauty was a constant lure. I had only ever seen them in pictures and film. As a motorcyclist, I have traveled the eastern mountains; the Appalachians, extensively for about 8 years now. They are an older, more rounded and eroded mountain range than the Rockies. I never tire of the scenery or twisty roads that traverse them. I have always wanted to travel to the western mountains, especially by motorcycle!

Today would be a special day. Today would be one of the most exhilarating motorcycle experiences of my life. I left the Devil’s Tower in light rain. I was glad I got the “Kabin” after all. Packing up a wet tent and gear can be a pain. Eventually the weather would clear with only isolated showers here and there. Rather than take 2 lane secondary highways, which is usually my preference, I decided to take I-90 up as far as Sheridan to get to the mountains quicker, then 14 and 14A over the Big Horn Mountains to Cody. From Cody I would ride the Chief Joseph and Beartooth Highways to Red Lodge, Montana.

I wasn’t on I-90 long when I spotted another motorcycle ahead in the distance. I hadn’t seen nor talked to any other riders headed in the same direction for days so I picked up the pace to catch up to him. Eventually I closed the distance between us. You got to love the western speed limits! The other rider saw me in his mirrors and pulled aside and gestured for me to move up. I really couldn’t communicate with him at 130 km/hr so we just waved to one another and I tucked in behind him. We traveled as far as Sheridan where we both exited I-90 to for fuel. Turns out my fellow traveler was Mike from Baden, Ontario on his way to an FJR rally in New Denver, BC. He only lives perhaps an hour from my home! Our travel plans were pretty much the same for the day so we decided to ride together. It was actually nice to have some company.

One of the neatest memories of that day was when the mountains first came into view, I will never forget. Words cannot adequately describe my feelings at that moment. I had traveled for days on the relatively flat plains. We came over a slight rise and off in the distance were snow capped mountains and they were growing larger by the kilometer! There they were, the mountains of my childhood dreams! What a heart warming sight that truly was. I know Mike was taking it all in as well as he slowed down his pace and was busy snapping pictures with his camera.

What can I say about Chief Joseph and Beartooth other than breathtaking! I have never experienced anything quite like this on a motorcycle. Riding a motorcycle up to 10,000 ft surrounded by vast, majestic scenery, passing through snow banks as high as a house, twisting switch backs that you dare not take your eyes from…… incredible!

Chief Joseph highway GPS tracks




Beartooth Pass GPS tracks




Beartooth Pass GPS tracks




My GPS elevation track profile for Day 5




Mike and I would eventually share a room at the Alpine Lodge in Red Lodge. I had planned on staying here and Mike didn’t feel like setting up camp with the dodgy weather forecast being what it was. I think the localized downpour as Mike came into town might have been a motivating factor too! I highly recommend this establishment. The proprietors do cater to motorcycle travelers and heck, breakfast is included!

Once we got settled and unpacked into our room, picked up some supplies (beers), Mike and I headed downtown to get a bite to eat. We found a nice pub (that I wish I could remember the name of). After a good meal and plenty of conversation about the day’s events, we headed back to our bikes parked on the street. I saw a fellow really giving my V-Strom a visual inventory! It turns out this is Les, who lives in Red Lodge and owns a V-Strom as well. We all stood there on the street chatting motorcycles for some time until I suggested that we head back to the Alpine for some cold beer waiting in the fridge. We carried on our BS’ing until late into the evening. What an awesome day this was. Mike, thank you for sharing it with me!


Mike from Baden, Ontario




Climbing up the Big Horn Mountains




Entering the clouds




Lots of snow!





Panoramic view from the Big Horn Mountains looking west








Chief Joseph highway








Panoramic view of Chief Joseph higway












The view as you climb towards Beartooth pass
















Beartooth Western Summit




Panoramic view of Beartooth Western Summit
















Mike & Les enjoying some stimulating motorcycle conversation over a few beers!

 

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Discussion Starter #8
Day 6

"When I was very young and the urge to be someplace was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. . . In other words, I don't improve, in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable."

~ John Steinbeck


Day 6 – June 17
Red Lodge, Montana > St Mary, Montana (KOA)
Today’s mileage: 762.4 km, Trip to date: 4105.1 km



I was up early today. Both Mike and I had fairly long distances planned. I was headed to the east side Glacier National Park, and Mike, somewhere to the west. Les had checked the National park Service website the night before to see if Going to the Sun Highway was open and unfortunately it was still closed at Logan Pass. I would have to alter my planned route a bit but not before we had a tasty plate of pancakes and eggs!

I was headed north today, following the edge of the Rocky Mountains. We left Red Lodge on SR-78. What a fun twisty road this was, although you had to keep your eyes open for deer. They were everywhere this morning. Mike and I followed 78 up to I-90 that we then took for about 100 km to the west. From there we headed north again on 89. I would pretty much follow 89 all the way up to St Mary, the eastern gate to Glacier NP. Mike and I rode together to the junction of 89 & 12 where we pulled off to the side of the road, shook hands and wished each other safe journey. I enjoyed riding with Mike and hoped to stay in contact when I got home.

I found the roadways here to be quite desolate with very little traffic. This was very much to my liking. I did encounter some very strong cross winds as I was getting closer to Great Falls that did have me somewhat frazzled. I could not imagine trying to ride a motorcycle in this all day!

I decided to camp at the KOA in St Mary primarily to use their wifi to update my picture site and email my family. It sucked! It was very slow with piss poor connectivity. It must have been all the other “kampers” using it at the same time! I should have just camped in the National Park. Oh well, at least their showers were warm and clean! After setting up camp I did go up Going To The Sun highway as far as I could, maybe around 13 miles. It is very scenic and I imagine more so further up. I guess this is good reason to come back one day to see the rest!



The “cook” fabin’ up a batch of pancakes and eggs!




And Mike and I eatin’ it up!












Farewell Mike
















































I did have a nice camp site




Painted sky to end the day

 

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OUTSTANDING!

You've captured the spirit of your adventure beautifully in your photos.


SS
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Day 7

"Too often. . .I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen."

~ Louis L'Amour


Day 7 – June 18
St Mary, Montana > Balfour, British Columbia (Toad Rock Campground)
Today’s mileage: 535.3 km, Trip to date: 4640.5 km



I woke early again today. I’m starting to get into a travel rhythm now. I find I cannot sleep in due to the early rising sun and chirping birds even as comfortable as my down sleeping bag and Exped mattress are! Also, I like the early starts because there is little traffic if any and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. The sky was overcast and there was a cold wind blowing. I was concerned that maybe the decent weather I had been traveling in the last few days was about to change. That was not the case. As I packed up camp and cooked up some coffee and oatmeal, the sky cleared. It would be another great day!

I traveled north up to the Canadian border on Chief Mountain International Highway. There was not a soul on this road nor at the Customs barricades. After a couple of quick questions by the border official I entered back into Canada and was greeted by a wonderful scenic view of Waterton NP, Alberta. I continued north through the park on Highway 6 up to Highway 3, Crowsnest Highway, where I would head west again towards British Columbia. Everything changed at this point. Traffic became busy with a barrage of transport trucks, campers and RVs. I was not impressed. Perhaps I was just getting used to the desolate highways I had being traveling only days prior. I had wanted to visit Crowsnest Pass but at this point I hardly felt it was worth it. Once I got west of Cranbrook, there was a definite improvement. The real “gem” of the day was Highway 3A between Creston and the Kootenay Lake ferry. This road was very twisty, scenic as it followed the lakeshore and blessed with new pavement!

After the very enjoyable, scenic, “free” ferry crossing to Balfour, I gassed up and picked up some supplies at the local general store. I went up the road a little ways to camp at the Toad Rock Motorcycle Campground >

http://www.toadrockcampground.com/

This place was a hoot! It’s not quite like any campground I’ve stayed at before. Mary, the owner, is a very cheerful and colourful character who made me feel very welcome. The offer of an ice cold beer when I first rolled in was a nice touch! She was quite busy preparing for an upcoming rally but always had time to chat or answer any questions I had. The shower facilities were actually some of the best I’d encounter on this trip.


A funny thing happened while I was setting up my tent. I pretty much had the campground to myself. Mary came back on her golf cart with two other passengers joyfully sipping on beers. Low and behold, one these dudes was Mike! He was still on his way to the FJR gathering just up the road a ways. I’m sorry; I’ve forgotten the other fellows’ name. I’m terrible at remembering if I don't write things down. We BS’ed for a while, comparing notes on our routes from the previous day. I would frequently meet other riders on my trip that I would keep bumping into as I headed north. I guess it’s inevitable because there are only so many roads and gas stations the farther north you go.

Later that evening as I was wrapping up my shower, a trio of Harleys rumbled into the campground. I struck up a conversation with these guys as they were trying to set up their tents and learned that they (Phil, John and Dean) were headed to Alaska as well. Actually they were headed to Phil’s home in Wasilla, Alaska. No kidding and I was going there too! I talked Phil’s ear off over the course of the evening after learning this and I’m sure they all thought there might not be something quite right about me! We shared some drinks and laughs at TR’s common area late into the night. As my trip progressed we would become good friends.































Killing time waiting for the ferry





Kootenay Lake





Crossing Kootenay Lake





Ferry on Kootenay Lake





Coming into Balfour, BC





Mike shows up









My home for the night





Hmmmmm, meatballs ala Toad Rock





Dinner guest





Easy date!





Mary of Toad Rock

 

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Discussion Starter #14
Day 8

"Travelling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things - air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it."

~ Cesare Pavese

Day 8 – June 19
Balfour, British Columbia > Saskatchewan River Crossing, Banff NP, Alberta
Today’s mileage: 528.6 km, Trip to date: 5168.9 km



Again, I was up with the birds. While I boiled water for coffee and oatmeal, I tried to quietly pack up my gear. Phil, John and Dean were camped close by and I did not want to wake them. Later on they would tell me that my stove was friggin’ loud! I used an Optimus Nova stove on this trip because I could burn unleaded gasoline in it. It roared like a jet engine! Phil eventually got up and was wondering around the campground. I waved goodbye as I left. We would meet up again later.

My plan today was to head up to Kaslo then over to New Denver, then north to the Galena - Shelter Bay ferry. I had heard that this area has some of the best motorcycling roads in BC. Unfortunately shortly after leaving Toad Rock it started to rain, and rain and RAIN! This would be the theme of the day. Within an hour of riding, my so called “waterproof” riding gloves began to leak, shit. 31A from Kaslo to new Denver was slick due to the rain and every bend I came around surprised another forest rat off the road. There were deer everywhere. As well, I saw my first elk of the trip. I had to take it easy but I could certainly appreciate the entertainment factor of this road, especially in dryer conditions.

After the ferry, I gassed up in Revelstoke and took the Trans Canada Highway east towards Rogers Pass. Traffic sucked. The rain continued to get heavier without let up. My hands were starting to get cold even with my heated grips on. At least my jacket and riding pants kept me dry. If there was anything scenic, I couldn’t see it for low cloud cover. At one point I got stopped at a road block due to an accident clean up. I struck up a conversation with another motorcyclist ahead. He was on a cross Canada trip and was headed to New Brunswick. We agreed to meet up ahead at a Tim Horton’s in Golden for a coffee. I got there ahead of him, gassed up and went inside to get out of the rain. Across the room I hear someone call my name! It turns out it’s my friends Warren & Michelle from home! What are the chances? Just how small is the world?

Traffic continued to be a problem for me until I got to the Ice Fields Parkway in Banff NP. There was a continuous parade of RV’s and campers. I was beginning to think that every other inhabitant in the Province of Alberta owned one of these things! My spirits were pretty deflated at this point. I had planned to camp near Columbia Icefields but really didn’t have the motivation to set up camp. I decided that I would stay at a motel up ahead near Saskatchewan River Crossing. Yes it was pricy at $170 a night but I was on vacation! After a warm shower, a couple of Rickard’s Whites and a steak dinner at the pub, I was a new man. Tomorrow held promise of sunshine and clear skies.







A wet highway 31A









Galena - Shelter Bay ferry crossing













“The Crossing”, Banff NP





The pub at “The Crossing”, Banff NP





The $170 view from my room, and the sky is clearing!

 

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Discussion Starter #16
Day 9

"There are certain scenes that would awe an atheist into belief, without the help of other argument."

~ Thomas Gray (1739) on viewing the Alps


Day 9 – June 20
Saskatchewan River Crossing, Banff NP, Alberta > Burns Lake, British Columbia
Today’s mileage: 770.4 km, Trip to date: 5939.3 km



“An excellent day of riding” was the first sentence in my journal for this day.

The nice thing about staying in a motel rather than a tent is that it affords you a very early start to your ride because you don’t have to pack up all your camping crap! Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy camping, especially when the alternative is $170 per night! I took advantage of the early start and headed north up the Icefields Parkway. The scenery was absolutely spectacular. Banff / Jasper NP is truly a Canadian gem. It does become a bit of a circus with all the tourists, RV’s & campers, and buses but for now, this morning, I had the road all to myself. I found it hard to get any kind of consistent forward progression. Around every bend was another majestic mountain view. I was constantly stopping to snap a photo. I was in heaven!

I did ride into some rain showers north of Jasper that stayed with me until I stopped for gas in McBride, BC. The temperature was dropping to the point that I was getting uncomfortably cold. Eventually I stopped at the side of the road to don my heated jacket liner.

Later in the day as I was getting close to my planned destination, Burns Lake, BC, I pulled off for a quick break at a roadside rest area and came across a couple of “resting” motorcyclists. They were having a nap, laying on top of the concrete picnic tables and I’m afraid I woke them out of their slumber when I rode in. It turns out this is fellow Adventure Rider “bush pilot”, Alex & his son Albert. They are on quite the epic trip of North America and had been on the road for some time. We chatted for a while and bid each other safe journey. I continued on up to the Burns Lake Campground for the night.

This night would be the first of the trip where I would feel the affects of lengthening daylight hours. Tomorrow was the summer solstice and even at this latitude, it wasn’t getting dark at night. I found it hard to fall asleep for the first time. Might have also had something to do with the Molson Canadian and KFC hot wings I picked up for dinner doing the “River Dance” in my gut!


Note: I hope you don’t grow tired of all the mountain scenery I have photographed and included in this RR. Where I live I don’t see this every day and must admit that I was having a bit of sensory overload at this stage of my trip. It was becoming very hard to concentrate on controlling a motorcycle as I navigated the roads through these mountains!









































































 

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Day 10 - Alaska!

"I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine."

~ Caskie Stinnett

Day 10 – June 21
Burns Lake, British Columbia > Hyder, Alaska (Sealaska Inn)
Today’s mileage: 544.6 km, Trip to date: 6483.9 km



Happy Father’s day!

Happy Summer Solstice!

Cripes, it was cold this morning! There was frost and ice everywhere. It had rained a little through the night and now there were little ice cube beads stuck all over my tent fly. A quick shake and the tent was dry, freeze dried!

I’m so glad I installed heated grips on my V-Strom and purchased a heated jacket liner last fall! It makes cold and inclement weather so much more bearable. Today and on several more occasions this trip, they would be put to good use!

My destination today would be Hyder, Alaska. Alaska finally!!! I still had a long way to go to get to the northern part of this great State but I felt this would be a trip milestone none the less.

I continued north on the Yellowhead Highway from Burns Lake through Smithers and on up to the junction with the Cassiar at Kitwanga. I stopped in at the gas station at the start of the Cassiar to fuel up and take the obligatory picture of the “sign”. I talked to another motorcyclist who was waiting for some friends that were coming down from an annual Father’s Day bike gathering held in Hyder. They were running late and I suspect it was due to the “morning after clouds” that impairs one’s clarity of mind! Must have been quite the party. The staff of the Sealaska Inn were still talking about later that night.

The Cassiar is a very different road than what I have been riding the past while. Yes it is scenic, but there is no real shoulder or roadway easement. The trees come practically right up to the edge. This could prove pretty exciting if any wildlife decided to step out on the road! The ride down to Stewart / Hyder is another very scenic and enjoyable experience as the road follows a narrow river valley with towering mountains on either side. And of course no trip would be complete without a short stop and picture op at the Bear Glacier!

I got to Hyder in good time. Riding west through another time zone will do that! I checked into Room#1 of the Sealaska Inn, dumped off some of my gear and headed up the road that climbs up to Salmon Glacier. What a fun ride this was! You go by the Fish Creek bear viewing area. There was still a fair bit of melting snow up top in places and lots of potholes to dodge but man, was it scenic! I couldn’t go all the way to the overlook where the glacier splits in two because apparently there was an avalanche and they had a barricade erected. I later learned form the “cute” Canadian border official as I was leaving Hyder that a motorcycle could easily make it up to the top. Doh!, another reason to come back!

Among the patrons of the Sealaska Inn tonight was fellow Adventure Rider, “atk_nut” and family. These folks had the right idea! Nothing like a good, clean (well maybe not so clean) family adventure motorcycling vacation up to the Yukon. I would later meet up with “the family of 4” again on the Dempster.

Later on that evening I could hear a distant rumble. Was it a localized thunderstorm moving up the valley? The weather forecast was for rain later in the week but not anything of appreciable accumulation tonight. As the rumble got louder there was no mistaking it for the sound of American iron. "Lord tunderin' Jaezuz"! It was my friends from Toad Rock, Phil, John and Dean rollin’ into town! Tonight would be entertaining and I was in a celebratory mood having reached Alaska!



I couldn’t help notice the frost enhanced graffiti carved into the picnic table





Frosty sunrise









The obligatory sign photograph at the start of the Cassiar highway





The road to Hyder





Bear Glacier





Welcome to Hyder, Alaska!









“Billy” from Texas who I met as I was going up to Salmon Glacier. I would meet up with Billy on several more occasions on my trip. I think he actually was carrying a kitchen sink on that BMW!









The road up to Salmon Glacier

















Posin’ by the glacier









Along the wharf





Low tide in the harbour













A couple of the Sealaska staff who made me feel right at home, thanks Girls!





Can you tell by their faces that I think the fellas really enjoyed the beer I gave them as they rolled to a stop in front of the Sealaska?









There were no bears for me to see at the Fish Creek viewing area that night….





…. But there was a herd of Mini’s!





“Show me your…….. nevermind”





I really liked the effect of the evening sun glowing on this mountain top.

 

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Great, great pictures and the happenstance of meeting up again with so many new friends is making this RR awsome. Your effort to detail in writing makes this a good read too.
 
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