Colorado to Alaska to D2D to Colorado
Day 0 – Johnstown, CO
Tomorrow is finally my day to leave for Alaska. Today we had severe weather and tornados in Windsor, CO about 10 miles from our house. My Mefo Explorer tires finally arrived from KLR650.com. They have been backordered and got here just in time for the trip. I changed tires in the garage by the light of the generator because our power was out due to the storm. Should have waited until morning to change them in daylight but just couldn’t wait. Can you say obsessed? Family and friends will probably be glad to have me gone on the trip just so they won’t have to listen to me obsess about it.
Day 1 – Johnstown, CO to Thermopolis, WY
Finally made it out of town about noon after spending a couple of hours at the office going over insurance claims that came in from the severe weather and then a stop at Moto Adventure for spare tubes and master links. Rode in beautiful weather for about half an hour before running into the storm that was still hanging around. I rode through the worst wind and rain ever in my 30+ years of motorcycle riding. Winds in Wyoming are often bad but around Glendo, WY they nearly blew me off the roads. Someone told me later that the winds there were 70+ miles per hour. A bad day of motorcycle riding beats a good day at work but this day almost changed that in my mind. Almost!
There was a break in the weather right as I reached Hells Revenge and it was a great place to take a break. The restaurant is closed.
But the walking trails are open to the public. It looks like a miniature Bryce Canyon.
The rain stopped and I camped in a canyon just before Thermopolis, WY.
As I was trying to get a rock under the kickstand so that it wouldn’t sink into the dirt, a man from Germany who is traveling around the country with his family in a motorhome came over and gave me a small piece of plywood. All the planning and purchasing for this trip and what I really needed was a small scrap of plywood. It has been used several more times and will be with me for the remainder of this trip. It rained all night but I was covered and the bike was covered so let it pour.
Day 2 – Thermopolis, WY to Livingston, MT
I rode on into Thermopolis and stopped at the Hot Springs Park.
If I had realized how cold and wet it was going to be, I may have stayed right there in the hot springs. Thank-you MotoMax for convincing me to install the grip heaters! The waterproof gloves soaked through after about two hours but the heaters warmed the water in the gloves.
Apparently there are all kinds of highway hazards to watch out for in Wyoming.
I rode on across Wyoming were it got colder and colder.
Through the northern end of Wyoming there were about 30 Buffalo and one Bobcat. Sorry, no pictures. It was to cold and wet to stop and take pictures.
Just back outside Yellowstone is the point half way between the Equator and the North Pole. It definitely felt more like the North Pole!
About 8pm I finally arrived in Livingston, MT and stopped at the first motel, an overpriced and bad smelling Motel 8. My arrival probably didn’t do anything to improve the smell!
Day 3 – Livingston, MT to Great Falls, MT
The first stop was for fuel. I met a guy there on a 2008 KLR who plans to do this same trip later in the year which is probably a smart idea. I told him about Dust to Dawson and about Advrider.com.
About 10 miles down the road I did my paranoid check for saddlebag lids. To bad I wasn’t paranoid earlier! Apparently some dummy forgot to latch one saddlebag lid! About an hour of searching and still no lid. Some guy probably picked it up and took it home to the wife. I can just hear him saying, “Hey honey, I found you one of those new fangled heavy duty aluminum cookie sheets just lying there on the highway. It’s still bright shiny and everything. Even has some hooks to hang it up! Bet you can’t buy these at Wal-Mart. Now get with it and bake me some cookies!”
Meanwhile, I am going down the highway with a new Wal-Mart saddlebag lid. Trash bags and bungee cords. Maybe this trip should be titled, “The Clampett’s go to Alaska.”
The scenery was wonderful in spite of the weather. The highway winds along the Missouri river which was over it’s banks in some places and looked as if it was going to go over it’s banks in other places. Sorry, no pictures of the flooding, it was raining to hard.
I stopped in a small town along the way and had lunch at a drive-in that was closed for Memorial Day. Thank-you Amy for packing food for my trip!
Finally there was a beautiful sight. A Comfort Inn in Great Falls, MT complete with a hot tub to warm up after a day in the rain.
Day 4 – Great Falls, MT to Calgary, AB
There was sunshine, but only until I got back on the motorcycle and then it started raining again. I am thinking seriously about selling my services to parts of the world suffering from drought. All I have to do is climb on a motorcycle and it starts raining. Amy suggested that my next trip should be through the Sudan!
On to the Canada border crossing. All those lanes and only one open.
When it was finally my turn the lady really grilled me about whether or not I was carrying a firearm. I told her that no, I was not carrying a firearm and that I was really unhappy about that! (I just read in someone else’s trip report that woman are allowed to bear arms in the USA and allowed to bear just about anything else in most of the rest of the word.) She asked if they should search my luggage and I told her that I wouldn’t mind as long as I could use their restroom. Hey, that was a really slow line just getting to the window! I guess she figured my strained look came from something besides lying to her and she waved me through, with directions to the restroom.
Day 5 – Calgary, AB to Gunn, AB
What is all this stuff and do I really need it? My mother would be ashamed if she knew how many days use I can get out of one change of clothes.
Calgary’s Olympic Park, site of the 1988 winter Olympics. (Hey, I didn’t know what year either until a moment ago when I looked it up on the internet!)
Then on to a fine breakfast. A great deal for the price and the menu is always familiar, even if the money does look funny. Hey look, there is my trusty piece of plywood again.
What a beautiful day! The blue sky with white clouds looked really familiar and then it hit me, it was just like the sky at the beginning of The Simpson’s. Oh no, now that tune will be going through me head all day.
Thanks to a referral from “fasteer” to Hawk Custom Sheet Metal in Red Deer, I now have a replacement saddle bag lid. I am thinking about taking a black magic marker and writing my name and address on each lid. Maybe I will even attach the postage so that all anyone would have to do is drop the lid in the mail and it will return to me. Maybe it will even come back with cookies!
While the lid was being fabricated, I found the local Kawasaki dealer and got a replacement bolt and washer for one that fell out. Only one lost bolt in 1,500 miles of riding, that isn’t bad for a KLR.
Then onward to Edmonton and beyond. The GPS really doesn’t like Canada! It sent me on a wild zig-zag path through Edmonton and tried to send me the wrong direction on the highway. It also fails to find many fuel and lodging stops. However, it makes a great speedometer since it can to set for Kilometers and my mind only works in Miles. Note, the guide for the Alaska Highway is called the “Milepost”, not the “Kilometerpost.”
By pure dumb luck I happened to see a small sign for a campground in the town of Gunn, which isn’t on my map. This was taken about 10pm and it was still light. It is going to take a while to get used to light late at night. This is going to drive Amy crazy when she flies into Anchorage to meet me for part of the trip!
Finally a chance to make a nice warm camp meal without wind or rain! Yea, I know! Bad hair day.
No phone, no internet. What is that strange sensation? Could it be my sanity slowly returning?
Day 6 – Gunn, AB to Dawson City, BC
Beautiful weather and a great day to ride. A guy came and said hi while I was having lunch at a Quiznos along the way because he recognized the Adv sticker on my bike. He is more into sport bikes but reads the trip reports here from time to time. He told me to beware of bears and fat men in Buicks making left turns. I have a terrible memory for names so if it was you, please leave a note on this thread. It was great to chat with another crazy motorcycle rider.
The view really never changed on this part of the ride.
This picture was taken a couple of hours later.
I finally arrived at mile 0 for the Alaska Highway. Dawson Creek, BC. No pictures yet because a shower and food seemed more important but you know a picture of the famous sign will be taken tomorrow.
Hope your trip continues going well.
See you in Dawson Yukon around Solstice.
Great start to a great ride.. thanks for the intro and looking forward to more :thumb
I never get tired of reading trips to Alaska. Its been almost 13 years since I left, hope to make a trip back up there by bike someday.
Say Hi to Santa
That cafe in Hells Half Acre used to have a pronghorn mount on the resteraunt side and the ass end mounted on the other side of the door in the Bar! Sorry to see another quality roadside attraction closed. Have a wunnerful ride!:ricky
I was headed to Alaska from Texas this time last year. Have a great ride. We did. Man, what a ride. Not a ugly mile the whole way, some areas so scenic it was hard to ride. Enjoy.
an excelent start...
More, more, more please!!!! I look forward to reading adv journeys unfold each night when I get home from work. Makes a long day at work end with a smile.
It's so cool watching other people's adventures in getting to Alaska...and following them on their journey to D2D.
See ya in Dawson!!!
Nice KLR :thumb
Day 7 & 8
Day 7 - Dawson Creek
On this date in Dawson Creek, Nothing Happened. As I was loading my bike it started to rain. The weather report said that is would rain all day and be beautiful for day 8 of my ride. That was enough for me. After all this is a vacation and not some crazy endurance test! The ride will continue tomorrow.
Day 8 – Dawson Creek to Laird Hot Springs
Ok, finally took the Mile 0 picture.
What an absolutely beautiful day! If this trip was over at the end of this day, it would all be worth it. This is the road I have dreamt of traveling for the past 34 years and it is even more beautiful than my wildest dreams.
If you are traveling this way, get off the main road anytime you see a sign pointing to the “Old Alaska Highway” and you will see some amazing sights, like the original curved bridge built in 1942.
There is even a park that looks like it hasn’t changed since the early years.
Now I have heard that you need to watch out for wildlife on this highway but nobody told me about this one! Good thing Jeff isn’t here!
If I was a beaver, this is where I would like to live, at least in the summer.
Near Fort Nelson, there is a section of the Old Highway and where it joined back with the new road there was a dirt road going straight ahead. Now, since I am riding a bike that begs to be taken on the dirt, it seemed like a good idea to see where it went. Here is the view at the end of the trail. No sign, no name, just a magnificent lake.
Hey cool, that panorama thing in Photoshop that Eric told me about really does work!
During this day’s ride I saw bear, moose, caribou and buffalo, all within sight of the highway. The days ride ended at Laird Hot Springs, a magnificent place with a long boardwalk ending at a natural hot springs.
I camped under a shelter with Jim and Bob.
Jim is from Skagway and is on his way to Colorado to ride the Ouray and Telluride trails, something I have never done. Amazing, I am heading to Alaska to see the Kennecott Mine, something he has never done. Bob is a retired ship captain and is riding the first bike I have seen with stirrups.
Check Back Often, I will add more soon!
Days 9 to 15
Day 9 – Laird Hot Springs, BC to Whitehorse, YT
Finally I am in the Yukon Territory, someplace that I have only seen in pictures and dreamed of visiting. If you haven’t been here, put it on your list of places to not miss.
You will see locals like this watching you go past.
A side road leads to Smith River Falls and a trail and stairs take you down close to the falls.
On down the road is Watson Lake, home of the famous Signpost Village. People from all over the world put signs up here. Some I suspect didn’t get permission to take the signs from their original location.
This place is amazing, more signs than a California open space! At last count they had over 60,000 signs.
The ride went on past the Canadian Rockies and the Cassiar Mountains. There are so many mountains here that it is hard to tell where one mountain range stops and the next begins.
Day 10 – Whitehorse, YT to Tetlin National Wilderness, AK
I think maybe our church needs to think outside the box about a building like these people in Haines Junction did.
To break up the monotony for me and for a group of Japanese tourists, I made a little stop on the beach.
Note to self: Gravel paths in Alaska may have a lot of sand under them. When making a total fool of ones self, make sure that you have not only one busload of tourists but two. Somewhere out there, about 43 Japanese tourists have video of me getting hopelessly stuck on the beach. Hey, I wanted a picture of my bike next to the ice chunks on the lake and this way I didn’t have to put the kickstand down!
One of the bus drivers, who would have rather been on a motorcycle, came over with another guy and helped me get back to solid gravel.
There are many patches of gravel on the Alaska Highway.
I have been working hard on my bug collection. Some are pretty yellows, reds, and greens but before long they all turn brown.
Back in USA, back to miles and gallons. Now I know how expensive gas is. The highest yet was $1.62 per liter. I don’t even want to know what that is in gallons!
I stopped at the first sign for camping in Alaska. A beautiful place in the national wilderness. No fee, no bears, a great nights sleep. Hey look, there is that piece of plywood again.
Day 11 - Tetlin National Wilderness, AK to Lower Tonsina, AK
Don’t miss those signs for the old highway. They are especially fun when you pass a sign telling you that “maintenance ends.”
Some of the back roads are also used for runways.
The bathroom facilities at some gas stations are a little primitive. Running gasoline but no running water!
Absolutely fantastic views wherever you look.
Day 12 – Lower Tonsina, AK to Kennecott, AK
Last chance to gas up before the McCarthy road, Chitina, AK.
I stopped at a picnic area just past the gas station to make a sandwich. A guy who was coming from the McCarthy direction riding a BMW dual sport stopped at the same place. It didn’t occur to me that his bike was clean when I asked him about the road conditions. He had ridden to the edge of the gravel road and turned around. He told me multiple times that the road didn’t scare him but never did succeed in convincing me, or himself. Apparently his ride to Alaska on the ferry didn’t prepare him for roads like this.
With wildlife like this couple.
The Kennecott Mine is amazing! It was in operation from 1911 until 1938. It built a complete town and was one of the first towns to have electricity. Its hospital is rumored to have the first X-ray machine in the United States.
There is apparently a camping area past Kennecott, down this trail.
But it was too much for one old guy on one top heavy, overloaded KLR.
After unloading the bike to get it right side up, I turned around and spent the night at Glacier View Campground, a friendly place with great facilities like the bathroom/shower building.
This local restaurant started as a van and then they build walls around it and made a small eating area. Look through the window and you will see the van.
Day 13 – Kennecott, AK to Fairbanks, AK
If you visit Kennecott, be sure to take the inside tour. It is $25 well worth spending.
On the way back to Chitina, I went searching for the original train route to the railroad bridge.
I brought a little of the McCarthy road with me.
This picture in the Chitina hotel shows just about how I feel by now.
Then on down the road to the Richardson Highway towards Fairbanks.
It was so windy in places that even the porcupines had their quills blown up!
But the views were fantastic!
Day 14 – Fairbanks, AK
It is time for a day off the road and to sleep in the same place two nights in a row. Besides, I found a welcome sign. Ahh, saved by the Bell!
The back tire is cracking so I sent this picture to KLR650.com to see what they think.
No luck getting the speedometer fixed. The local dealer doesn’t have parts and the only other dealer in Alaska is near Anchorage so I’ll check with them next week.
Beut trip :clap
I was in Worland when you went through Thermop!
Wyoming wind is no joke.
Keep it coming!:clap :clap :clap
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