Monthly Archives: July 2013

Two Days, Lots of Miles (Not all on a motorcycle)

July 29-30, Epic Ride Days 20-21:

Tonight, Jim and I are in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.  Does anyone else remember Sgt Preston of the Royal Canadian Mounties and his “great husky” King?  “On King; on  you great husky!”

We put on lots of miles in the last couple of days.  The first 600 or so was in Jim’s friend’s John’s employer’s (how ’bout that for linked possessives?) Cessna Caravan.  The Caravan is a workhorse airplane powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT-6 turboprop.  Wright Air Services has ten of them and runs scheduled operations to villages that can’t be reached by car or truck.  We flew to Tanana and Husila, carrying two passengers to Tanana, picking up three in Husila, and off-loading a bit of freight.  The airports had gravel runways, and John shot a partial instrument approach to Husila.  Modern GPS has transformed flying in Alaska and greatly increased safety and reliability of service.

Here’s a picture of me in the right seat of the Caravan (getting me into the right seat of the Caravan was almost as interesting as getting me out of it):

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Here we are landing at Tanana:

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And here are Jim and John just prior to boarding for takeoff from Husila:

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And here’s the Caravan at Husila:

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All this aviating put us late leaving Fairbanks, but we did get new batteries for my SPOT, so our track from Fairbanks to Tok and from Tok to Whitehorse are more complete than the last couple of days around Fairbanks.

We missed a great opportunity to ride the “Haul Road.”  (For non-long-distance motorcycle people reading this blog, the Haul Road is the road to Prudhoe Bay and can be one of the toughest 400+ miles anywhere.  We chose not to ride it on our plastic bikes and had no regrets about that decision.  But after we got to Tok last night, I noticed that just out of Delta Junction was the “Haul Road,” maybe 1 kilometer long.  And we missed it!

Today we re-rode the stretch from Tok to Whitehorse that had been so miserable as we were going to Alaska.  Then the wind was blowing and the rains were falling, and the highway construction, combined with the rain and the wind, raised our “pucker factor” to uncomfortable levels.  Today, the weather was beautiful and even though there was still 50+ miles of construction, it was much more enjoyable.

We’ve been carrying the “You Meet the Nicest People on NT-Owners.org” banner and should have gotten a picture with it with Marcus and John and Dianne, but we didn’t think about it.  So we dug it out and  got pictures of ourselves at the Alaska-Yukon border.  The border has a 15-foot clear-cut demarcation line signifying the friendship between our two nations.  We appreciate the two ladies from Alberta who took the pictures:

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Kluane Lake was beautiful as was the eastern edge of the Elias Mountains.

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As we were checking in, we met another more ambitious motorcycling couple.  This one was from Argentina.  He had ridden from the southern-most tip of South America to Columbia, had his bike transported to Panama by sailboat, and she flew into Panama to join him for the rest of the ride to Prudhoe Bay and back to Argentina.  They were riding a Honda Trans-Alp, an off-road cousin of Jim’s and my NT-700VA’s.

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They had everything on that bike and it was a very good thing that she was a tiny person…there wouldn’t have been any room for anyone any larger!

Stats:

Monday, John and Dianne Pearson’s to Tok:  Day, 248 miles; Trip, 5895 miles.

Tuesday:  Tok to Whitehorse:  Day, 388 miles, Trip, 6,283 miles; Year, 12,183 miles.

And a sorta’ significant number.  My bike passed 64,000 miles today.  We were riding in rough, loose gravel at the time, so I took a picture at 64064:

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Tomorrow, we continue to backtrack until we get to the junction with the Cassier Highway, and then we’ll take it south to Dease Lake, British Columbia.  The next day will see us in Stewart, BC, and Hyder, Alaska, a “Quaint Little Beer-Drinking Village with a Bear Problem.”

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Riding Alone, Reconnecting, Resting….

July 25-28, Epic Ride Days 16-19:

It’s been four days since I updated the blog.  When last I posted, we were in Anchorage, enjoying Marcus Holmquist and Elena’s marvelous hospitality.  Today we’re near Two Rivers, about 25 miles ENE of Fairbanks, enjoying the marvelous hospitality of Jim’s long-time friends, John and Dianne Pearson.

On Thursday morning, after Marcus fixed us breakfast, Jim hit the road for Denali and Fairbanks and the hoped for new Michelin PR3 rear tire.  I was enjoying my usual morning “slows,” taking a shower and readying myself for a journey farther south to Seward.  Marcus got home and we visited briefly before I left his house at about 11:00, going to Walgreens for some shopping and then to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts for a replacement tail/brake light.  At Marcus’s I’d enjoyed watching F-22s on approach to Elmendorf AFB, and at Walgreens, I got to see C-117s.

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After refilling my thermos with coffee and my tank with gas, I headed for what Marcus had warned me was the most dangerous 55 miles of highway in Alaska.  This road went along the Cook Inlet just south of Anchorage and then bent east along the north shore of the Turnagain Arm of the inlet.  My GPS went slightly crazy, trying to turn me onto roads I never saw and once losing signal along the steep cliffs.  I watched the tide ebbing rapidly, exposing mudflats for hundreds of yards into the inlet.

Once I passed the exit for Whittier, the road improved with passing lanes and the traffic declined.  The ride down to Seward was another ride through magnificent mountains, past tranquil lakes, and marshlands which sheltered swans.  I never got close enough for a good picture, but if you’ve got a magnifying glass, you might be able to see some white spots in this picture…

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Seward was a port town with fishing fleets and an amazing number of cruising sailboats.  There was a Marine Life Center and downtown was a tourist mecca.

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The waters of Resurrection Bay were cold and choppy looking and the

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helicopter from Coast Guard Station Seward was on its way toward the open sea…

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On my way to Seward, I’d ridden through about ten minutes of hard rain just before the intersection leading to Homer.  On my way back north, I rode through about 15 minutes of rain a bit farther north.  But I’m not complaining; on his way to Fairbanks, Jim was riding through nearly continuous cold rain on his way to a campground in Nenena.

I rode back through Anchorage, just catching the tag-end of the rush hour and headed on north along Alaska Highway A3, the Parks Highway.  I hit one construction area that was still open but got through it quickly.  When I went through Wasilla, I stopped by Sara Palin’s house to chat, but since I hadn’t told  her I was coming, she was out killing moose.  Oh, well… next time.

I rode to Montana Creek Campground and pitched my tent and scooted up the road for supper at  Subway.  It was still light when I rolled into bed at 11:30 and I didn’t get to sleep for a couple of hours.  Staying awake that long let me learn that it NEVER gets dark this far north at this time of the year.  The culprit keeping me awake wasn’t the light, though.  It was the trucks bombing down the road during the night so as to miss the construction holdups.  There was a long hill from both directions dropping down to Montana Creek and the bridge crossing the creek had a 2-3″ lip when you hit it.  When a motorcycle hits that, it’s a bump.  When a truck doing 80mph hits it, it sounds like a crash.  There were trucks every 2-3 minutes until at least 2PM.  Then I finally fell asleep and slept well till about 8AM.

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It was cloudy and grey when I got up, but the weather improved all day long.  I had a good breakfast at Trapper’s Creek, “enjoying” the company of Pete from Lovell’s younger brother until his wife finally dragged him out of the café.

I was able to see the base of Denali (Mt. McKinley on your maps), but never saw the peak.

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Riding AK-3 south of Cantwell, I could see Mt. Hayes and Mt. Moffitt in the Alaska Range and their glacier field.  Until I sat down with the map, I thought I’d been seeing Mt Drum in Wrangell-Elias NP, the mountains we’d ridden by on our way to Valdez.

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I also passed a bear… that turned into a moose when I got turned around to take its picture.

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I rode into Denali National Park and enjoyed the Visitor’s Center.  It would be a good place to spend a day riding the shuttle bus back into the park, but I wanted to reach Fairbanks before it got dark(er).

I found John and Dianne’s place at about 8PM.  They have a beautiful home in a peaceful setting.  They’ve got two big dogs, a bull mastiff named Chuck, and a black Lab named Woody as well as a great cat named Snickers.  They keep a couple of horses and John has a BMW G1150GS.

Yesterday John, Jim and I rode into Fairbanks and rode around the airport’s east ramp looking at planes.  I saw more Stinsons than I’ve seen since the year I nearly bought one (1980, about three weeks before I made the decision to go back into ministry — if I’d bought that Stinson, returning to ministry wouldn’t have been an available option.  But I still like Stinsons.

There were float planes aplenty and a water runway between the two big cement runways.  There was another one of my favorite planes, a DeHavilland Beaver, a classic bush plane.  The one in the picture belonged to the Alaska Wildlife department and is used for tracking animals.

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Tomorrow Jim and I have an outside chance of getting a ride with John in one of his company’s Cessna Caravan.  We thought we might get to make his afternoon run to a village north of the Arctic Circle, but that flight now has all its seats filled.   There are still two open on the morning run to Tanana.  If we don’t make the flight, we’ll leave Fairbanks a bit earlier than we hope.

Stats:  For the day on Friday:  297 miles.  For the trip:  5,647 miles.  For the year:  11,541 miles.

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ANOTHER Incredible Day!

July 24, Epic Ride Day 15:

Today we rode from Valdez to Anchorage and are at a fellow NT-Owners Forum member’s house.  Marcus Holmquist owns one of the slower red ’10 NTs that amazed Jim and I when we saw it.  We’d forgotten how nice the NT looks when it’s clean.  🙂

Marcus and his wife Irena have a lovely home, a delightful 5-year-old, and Irena’s Russian mother.  Irena is an internist and Marcus (a Swede with a green card) runs the aviation simulator operation at the University of Alaska.  They’ve got a beautiful home and are wonderful hosts.

The ride today was what we had yesterday but with the different perspective of going in the opposite direction.  Then at Glennnallen we turned west on the Glenn Highway and rode to Palmer and then Anchorage.  There was more scenery that took your breath away:  views of Prince William Sound (the port of Valdez is on the very north end of the Sound); the Matanuska Glacier, more mountains; Tazlina Lake; the edges of Cook Inlet, and then Anchorage itself, which is definitely a big city, with rush hour traffic and everything.

A couple of neat things happened in Valdez.  One was meeting an Australian couple, Adrian and Lauren, who are on a BMW R1200GSA, riding from Prudhoe Bay to Ushiah (spelling?) which is the southernmost point you can ride to in South America.  Adrian rode a Wee-Strom from London to Sydney in 2009 and met Nathan Milward, author of “Long Ride Home,” in Kazakhstan.  “Long Ride Home” is Nathan’s story of riding a “Postie,” a 125cc Honda mail delivery from Australia to England.  If you haven’t read it, I recommend it highly.

Adrian and Lauren have blog at www.twobytwowheels.com that will be fun to follow.

The second neat thing was eating breakfast in Valdez.  The place (advertised as the best burgers, but also the best breakfasts had limited seating.  The owner asked me if I minded having others seated with me.  I didn’t, of course, and ended up seating with a young couple and their friend.  The couple were a native of Valdez, who’s a petroleum engineer for British Petroleum, working in Wamsutter, WY.  They live in Rock Springs, WY, and she’s a yoga instructor in Salt Lake City.  Their friend is a teacher at a Christian school in Indonesia.   They were the kind of young people who give me hope for our future.

Stats for the day:  Day’s ride 321; Trip 4,896; Year, 10,799.

Enough words… now for pictures:

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Valdez harbor at 12:05… days are long; nights are short.

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Adrian and Lauren on their way to Patagonia.

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Jim hit the road before I ate breakfast so he could stop and take pictures.  We reconnected at Glennallen.

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Across the bay (?)/sound (?) you can see the terminal of the Aleyska Pipleline from Prudhoe Bay where the tankers take on crude.  The young petroleum engineer I met at  breakfast told me that the pipleline is carrying much less oil than when it was new.  The field is now 35 years old and production is declining.

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Under the clouds is Mt. Drum in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

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Bridal Veil Falls in Keystone Canyon on the way out of Valdez.

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The white streak is the long outflow of ice from the Matanuska Glacier.

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From yesterday:  the Woodward Glacier on the way into Valdez.

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This was on the way down into Valdez and the picture doesn’t do it justice.

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The best view we got of Mt. Drum… from yesterday.

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Last night’s campsite at Bear Paw Campground in Valdez.

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The “Raven” is a Trans-Pac class boat designed by Chuck Paine.  The captain was sitting in the cockpit and we talked for quite a while.  He’s a motorcycle rider, too, having had the gamut of BMW touring machines and is now the owner of a K75RT, because he can fix it.  He’s got a couple of spare final drives…just in case.

Stats:  Day, 321 miles; Trip, 4,896 miles; Year, 10,897 miles

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Another Sensational Day…

July 23, Epic Ride Day 14:

We were late leaving Tok because we had to get Jim’s tire situation figured out.  He didn’t lose any air overnight.  In fact, his tire apparently made some of its own.  Overnight his tire pressure increased from 39 to 40 1/2 psi.  He ordered a PR3 that should be in Fairbanks by Friday.  We should be there then, too.  If not Friday, then for sure Saturday.

I’m on the world’s slowest internet connection tonight, so no pictures and not many words.

Stats:  Day’s ride: only 255 miles; Trip Mileage: 4,575; Year’s mileage: 10,488.

BTW, we’re in Valdez.  Tomorrow we’ll head for Anchorage and Seward, and eat supper tomorrow night with Marcus (freezingalaskan on the NT forum.

I’ll try to post some pictures of today’s ride tomorrow.

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We are in Alaska!

July 22, Epic Ride Day 13:

It’s been an interesting day. You know the old Chinese proverb, I’m sure: “May you live in interesting times.”

We did!  We left Teslin at a little after 7, rode to Whitehorse, sat in a McDonalds while I woke up some more and visited with a Wee-Strom rider who was on his way home to Indiana after riding to Prudhoe Bay.

You’ll remember we’d been warned about the “Road of Hell” on Sunday night.  The Wee-rider told us not to worry — just pay attention and it won’t be a problem, he said.

We did pay attention!  It started raining hard just as we got to a 14-km stretch of loose gravel.  I need to say that loose gravel (so far) has been laid on a very well-compacted road base that’s pretty hard.  It makes the gravel not terribly loose, but adding rain to the mix did make a slightly slimy mess.

We rode that before getting to Kluane Lake, which sure looked like it would have been beautiful if we could have seen much of it.  Every ditch was running bank-full with raging torrents of mud-filled water.  The White River looked like an ocean of mud.  I’d have taken pictures if it hadn’t been raining so hard!

After we got past a stretch of construction north of Burwash Junction, the highway was like riding a rough roller-coaster.  Hollows and humps kept us exercising the full extent of our suspension.

We finally made it to the Alaska border and the weather changed as if it we’e entered a new country!  It had been in the low-40s to low-50s all day, but by the time we got to Tok, it was 72F.

The catastrophe of the day belongs to Jim.  We’d eaten at Fast Eddie’s and then I was checking us into the Westmark Inn when Jim found an “arrowhead” in his rear tire.  He pulled it out and used shampoo to learn that the tire has a very slow leak.   We’ll see how slow in the morning and make a decision about where to go next.  Marcus Holmquist from the NT-Owners Forum is in Anchorage and he’ll call dealers there, while Jim checks the dealers in Fairbanks.  Depending on what we find, we may continue as planned (Tok-Valdez-Glenellen) or we may go from Tok to Fairbanks.

I’ll post more about today later.  Now I’m gonna’ go beddy-bye.

Stats:  Day: 501 miles; Trip: 4,320; Year, 10,226.

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A Long Wet Day…

July 20, Epic Ride Day 11:

…and we may have another one tomorrow.  There’s another 60% chance of rain.  That’s what they predicted for today and we think we were rained on 12 times, for about 60% of the 491 miles we rode.

That’s a new distance “record” for us.  It started raining not long after we left Fort Nelson and rained hard up till Toad River.  After that it just rained off and on (mostly on).  We had many kilometers of “loose gravel patches” which weren’t exactly loose, but kept me tense nevertheless.

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Here’s Jim as we were taking a break and feeding the mosquitoes.  We had just ridden about 25 miles of chip seal that looked like it was wet mud, but it was actually not too bad.  But we had another 50 or so miles of those “loose gravel patches.”

It was, again, beautiful country.  It had critters wandering around in it.  A big moose crossed the road right in front of me early this morning (and I do mean early — we were riding before 8AM) not far out of Fort Nelson.  Then throughout the day we kept riding through buffalo herds (you may not be able roller skate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you’ve a mind to… and you can ride a motorcycle through one if you’re careful and slow and don’t look at them.  No pictures, though.  They don’t like paparazzi.

Back to Toad River.  The story is that when the AlCAn Highway was under construction during WWII, nearly every vehicle that came to the river had to be towed across, hence the name.  When we got there it was pouring rain, about as hard as yesterday at Pink Mountain.  I hate with a purple passion riding into potholed dirt, gravel, and mud parking lots, and that’s all there is up here in The Great White North.  It creates great anxiety for me…I have a pervasive and well-founded fantasy that I’m about to drop the bike and get all wet and muddy myself.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing… it sure keeps me careful.

We bought our gas and went inside.  It’s a place with “character” and with characters.  They have a hat collection — something like 8, 619 hats stapled to the ceiling and the walls as of today.  [The place we ate at here in Teslin has a “hat collection, too.  23 hats.  After Toad River, I wanted to suggest that they hide them until they got another 3-4,000 hats at least.

As we were going in to supper, we talked to a rider from Illinois.  He was on a machine made in Milwaukee and when he asked us which way we were going, he wished us good luck, hinted that we needed to stay up all night saying our prayers, and told us we were about to ride The Road OF Hell.   We think we disappointed him by not turning around and heading back to the lower 48 right then and there.

We do know we’ve got some bad road tomorrow, but we had talked to a rider in Watson Lake who was on his way home and he didn’t mention the Road of Hell.  He had tried to ride to Prudhoe Bay and changed his mind when he found 4-6 inches of mud everywhere.  He said that there were wrecked motorcycles everywhere and that a tourist van had slid off the road and rolled.  My decision to forego Prudhoe Bay is looking better and better.  It is worth noting that this guy didn’t mention the Road of Hell between Whitehorse and the Alaska border.

Whatever is up[ there, we’ll be careful and keeping our digits intertwined.

Numbers for the day:  Today’s ride:  491 miles.  My mileage for the trip:  3,819 miles.  My mileage for the year:  9,719.

More pictures:

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Above the clouds.  Before the rain.

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Jim as we were waiting our turn to follow the pilot car.

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“We’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.”

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A brief sunny interlude on the road to Alaska.

Stats:  Day, 491 miles; Trip, 3,819 miles.

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Finally, we break a barrier…

July 19, Epic Ride Day 10:

I haven’t been riding like an Iron Butt rider so far on this trip.  Today is the first time we’ve managed to go over 400 miles… 486 was today’s accomplishment.  It was a fitting day that reminded us that not every day is as magnificent as yesterday.

We left Grande Cache at 7:45 (a new record as well) and rode to Grande Prairie.  It was about 115 miles with some beautiful views of the Smoky River, a not-so-beautiful view of a big dead moose, and some “interesting” views of the smaller species of forest rat (mule deer).  Fog and light rain hit us about 45 miles south of Grande Prairie, and oilfield trucks mixed in with a few logging trucks kept us on our toes as well.

In Grande Prairie, we managed to get separated, but the cell phone quickly too care of that.  (BTW, my Viero service and Jim’s Verizon service have been nothing short of outstanding.  Especially since I found my phone.  For those of you who missed it, I had stuffed it into the stuff sack with the tent the morning we left Spearfish.  The reason I couldn’t hear it when Rick tried to call me in the campground there was that I had turned the sound off).

We rode to Dawson’s Creek and had to stop to wake up.  We had been through a number of construction zones where we were slowed down to 50kph (30 mph) for several miles at a time, usually so we could pass a 1-200 meter construction site.  We were both in serious danger of falling asleep.  From Dawson’s Creek we rode to Fort St John to gas up for the next-to-last time.  We put our electric gear on and I closed the vents on my ‘Stitch and changed to my winter gloves.

At Pink Mountain, we stopped due to biological necessity and got caught in a frog-strangler.  By the time I got my wet hands in my gloves and my ear plugs in, Jim had started rolling and the parking area of the little general store where we stopped had turned into a river.  I rode through 4-5″ of running water before I got back on to the highway.  My face shield was fogged up.  My glasses were fogged up.  If  I opened the face shield to clear it, water blew in onto my glasses.  But after about 5 klicks (that’s metric for kilometers), I could see OK.  Not well enough to see Jim stopping for gas at Sikanni until I’d ridden past the turn-in.  I had to go to the top of the hill to be able to turn around and go back down for gas.

Not long after that, just before and just after crossing the Buckinghorse River, I saw my first two bald eagles of the trip.  Jim had got stuck behind a couple of trucks as he pulled out onto the highway and missed them.

We got to our overnight stop here in Fort St John, British Columbia at about 7:30, and wimped out, checking into a Super 8 rather than chancing the projected thunderstorms overnight in a campground.

We should be able to get on the road early tomorrow morning and if we can put in a 12+ hour-day, we might be able to make it to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.  It’s only 633 miles.  🙂

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Jim staring in amazement at the biggest beaver either of us have ever seen in Beaverlodge, Alberta.

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The country is starting to look like we might be on a road to Alaska.

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These two poor beasts have been ridden hard, but they didn’t get put away until they’d dried out.

Stats:  Day, 486 miles; Trip, 3,328 miles.

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The Most Beautiful Ride We’ve Ever Taken

July 18, Epic Ride Day 10:

Jim and I are in agreement that the ride today was the single most beautiful one either of us have ever taken.  We didn’t get away from Banff until probably 10:30, after we sat in McDonalds while I updated my “Canada, Oh Canada” post.  We stopped at Lake Louise for gas and it was, as we might call it down in Texas, a goat-rope.  There were lines of cars, RVs, and trucks, and they didn’t have pay-at-the-pump.  Jim had to go inside and leave his card, come out and pump the gas and then go back in and sign a ticket.

But then, after we went through the entrance to Jasper National Park (for free since our admission for Banff National Park covered Jasper as long as we entered before 24 hours was up), the scenery began to blow our minds.  On both sides of the road there were the most incredibly rugged peaks, with formations deformed by the uplift that thrust the Canadian Rockies into existence.  The Canadian Rockies are formed of mostly limestone and shale, whereas the US Rockies are metamorphic gneiss and granite.  They are much more jagged because of their glaciation and they have a lot more vertical relief (the distance from base to peak).

But we weren’t considering the technicalities of geology; all we were thinking of was the beauty we were witnessing.  It seemed like it went on and on and on.  But it was only 145 miles.

After Jasper, we followed the Athabasca River almost to Hinton, where we turned onto the 40 to take the scenic route to Alaska.

We’re now ensconced in the Grande Mountain Lodge, which cost much less than we had expected.  Well, not much less, but less.  It was even less than the motel in Lovell, and is more modern.  We had a good supper and did our laundry.  It’ll be nice to have clean underwear tomorrow for what sounds like it will be a rainy day.

We also had a good supper AND I had another disaster of the day.  The tab broke off the top slider on my “Stitch’s main zipper.  This is the 2nd time this has happened with this suit and I don’t have time to send it to Duluth for a repair.  But when I asked the guy at the Laundromat if there was a hardware store, he wanted to know why.  When I told him, he suggested I come back to the motel and get the suit and let him take a look at it.  I did and he said, “I’m pretty good at McGyvering things,” and got into a little drawer and dug around until he found a small key-ring that was just small enough to go through the hole in the zipper slider.  Voila’!  It’s fixed.

Jim is having right pannier latch issues and my left Denali has lost the set screw that holds the light onto the mount.  But we zip-tied that and it won’t be going anywhere.

Stats:  Day, 315 miles; Trip, 2,527 miles.

Now for some pictures:

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We may have gained some points at a gas station along the Icefields Highway when I noticed that an ST1100 parked near us looked like it had a low rear tire.  Jim went over and told the guy what we thought while I was inside.  The guy was dubious about the possibility of his bike having a low tire, but did check it.  Sure enough, 10 psi.  Jim got his tire gauge and … 10 psi.  The guy had a compressor and pumped it up to 45.  We hope it held air all the way back to Calgary.

And we hope that if we need help, someone will be there to give it.

Tomorrow, we’ll head to Grande Prairie, then Dawson Creek, the beginning of the Alaskan Highway.  If we move along better than we have so far, Fort Nelson (478 miles from here) seems like a reachable goal.  But the weather sounds like we’ll get wet tomorrow and Sunday.  And  it’s going to be cooler for a few days.

The adventure continues!

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Canada, Oh Canada!

July 18, Epic Ride Day 9:

We’re sitting in a combination Wendy’s/Tim Hortons in Canmore, Alberta, Canada.  We’re trying to find a  campground for tonight and being baffled by the resources for camping that were given us by the nice people at the Alberta Visitor’s Center at Crowsnest Pass.  We’ve given up and are ready to just ride west toward Banff looking at campgrounds as we go.  (Written on Thursday at 6:00 PM)

(A Friday update at 8:30 AM)  Now we’re in beautiful downtown Banff, the loveliest, cleanest, and best-maintained tourist trap I’ve ever seen, surrounded by magnificent mountains.

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This was the view from our campground this morning (although you had to be standing in front of the restroom to see it for all the trees.  I’m up to about 2800 miles on the trip and we’ve been averaging only about 300 miles a day.

Jim must be getting frustrated with my camping “skills.”  He has his tent up and ready for bed in about ten minutes and says he can be ready to ride in 1/2 hour.  Not me.  I’m getting to the point where I’m ready for bed in about 35-40 minutes and this morning I was packed and loaded in about an 1 1/2 hours.  I’m getting better.

Today, we’ll be riding along the Icefields Parkway and I think we should make it to Grande Prairie, which will put us on the Alaskan Highway tomorrow.  Camping is working well and we probably won’t spend the money for a motel, although today or tomorrow will be a mandatory laundry day for me.  I’m out of underwear and socks and not quite ready to try the old trick of turning things inside-out and then back-for-front (even though that lets every pair of underwear last four days!).

I’m should have recharged my camera battery at the campground last night and hope I’ll have enough left to get some pix of the glaciers and Lake Louise.

I’ll update and post pictures and stats next time we have internet access.

Stats:  Day, 293 miles; Trip, 2,527 miles.

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Almost into Canada

July 17, Epic Ride Day 8:

We are in Eureka, MT, 7 miles south of the Port of Rooseville, our entry point into Canada.  We’ve had another good day of riding, almost all of it on US-93, from Salmon to Missoula, to St. Ignatius, to just east of Polson, MT, where we detoured around the east side of Flathead Lake.

Tomorrow we’re going to have to abandon our “strategy” of riding until time to stop and then finding a campsite.  We suspect that won’t work so well up around Banff and Lake Louise.  But we’re going to have to get information we don’t have now.  We’ll be checking into getting Canadian money before we cross the border tomorrow.

I rolled over 60,000 miles on the bike this morning, just before we entered Montana.  Missed it by 10 miles.

We’re over 2,000 for the trip (Jim is considerably over that, since he came from Wisconsin, an hour or so east of Duluth to join me at Spearfish.

I’ll need some time to work with this blog before I can get pictures posted.  It’ll happen — I promise!

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