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GR8ADV 07-26-2010 09:49 AM

Whatever/Whenever. RR Father/Son to AK
Well, we're baaaaak. Which kind of ruins the idea of a crafty ending, but the trip in between was remarkable.

A little background first, then the report. First off, it is sunny here in Seattle, and after camping our way through Northern BC, the YT and Alaska for the last month, it is hard to be inside. So we will see how far we get today.

I have been riding for years, Honda's, Harley baggers, BMW baggers and a few years ago my GS ADV. I am wondering how I ever did without the GS. Not only has it opened up tons of non paved areas, but it has taken me down paved roads that end in dirt that I previously avoided.

Shady Pass in Eastern Wa

And thank you Clayton for the patience in Death Valley

I love it. It does everything as well as any bike I have owned in the past except for one thing; keep me out of trouble. But trouble is a relative term...

Why I am on Lippincott pass with a fully loaded ADV for a two week camping trip is a bit lost on me now :D

I bought the GS with thoughts of North and South on my mind. Now that I have been North, I now have thoughts of North and South on my mind. Those that have been there understand.

This trip would be different in so many ways than anything else I had done. The biggest one of those is that my 17 year old son would be joining me for the ride of rides; 30 days to Alaska. This would take some prep; to harden the bikes; to improve his riding skills; and to get my mind right.

Jigo 07-26-2010 10:38 AM

Looks like you had a great adventure. Keep it coming. :D

kildala2000 07-26-2010 11:57 AM

Keep it up right..
Great report and doing the Yukon/Alaska trip for the past 8 years I must say the north will always draw you back. My first trip this year with my son's on his 19th birthday and have him follow along on his own bike was a dream that I've been waiting for many, many, years. :clap
The bonding and the memories will never be forgoten.
Can't wait till next year,
Ride Safe,

GR8ADV 07-26-2010 12:33 PM

First things first, and that was for Chris my son to take the motorcycle safety course; that was last year some time. After that we began the bike search. For me reliability, ABS, and heated grips were my criteria. For him it was a Ducati or nothing. :deal

We found a 2007 f 650GS in Oregon a few hundred miles south of us. (dad 1 kid 0, that will likely change greatly in the future). Looks good, low miles, throw in the Caribou bags and some good BMW riding gear that just happened to fit and we had a deal. We both drove down to pick it up in the Forerunner, and I was going to drive it home. Yes he now had his MC endorsement, but after the class it was really no more than saying yes, he can ride a 250 cc bike in a parking lot around some cones. So, we would leave the interstate for another day for him.

Not to say he did not jump on it when ever he could!

Amazing ride for a single. I was expecting tons-o-buzz. No such. Not enough power at the low end to get him into too much trouble, but lots on the Freeway, and cruising at 70+ MPH is no problem while giving me 65 miles per gallon.

The Adventure was pretty much taken care of regarding protection to make sure we would get home even with a bad get off. But the 650 needed some love. Engine and body guard, oil cooler protection, headlight protection, brake stop, flex shifter, a touring windshield, etc etc. Some PIAA lights, autocom and kenwood for bike to bike and xm (+1 on the communication +0 on xm in AK).

We put on as many miles as we could to get him ready. A little sketchy for me to watch him I must say. But on the other hand seeing him in the mirrors is awesome! As neither of us had bike camped for this long of a period, we needed a couple shakedown trips to iron things out. The first was to the dry side of the state to the Grand Coulee dam area. Mostly highway riding.

Nice country.

We found a few things that we would need that would seem obvious to most, but hey, we are simple folks. Hatchet, jacket to hang by the fire at night that was different than riding gear, non riding gloves and a hat. Typically, for my trips I ride as long as possible, stop as short as possible and then repeat as often as necessary. This trip would involve more hang time, and more multiple day stops, and I had to think a bit differently.

After a few hundred miles, it became clear, from the mouths of babes, that BMW seats SUCK! We took care of that with a seat from Rich's custom seats just outside seattle. My experience is that with these seats EVERYTHING else will hurt long before I even think of my butt.

The second shakedown was to the wet part of the state in the Olympic Rainforest. Here we were reminded how easy it is for things to get we wet if one does not pay attention, and how it will NEVER EVER dry again. Note, to self, we need to be waterproof from head to toe, OFF the bikes. Some off pave riding this time as we try to hone all of his skills. He is very good, either talented or naive. :D We bump into some very good lessons that will serve us well. He washes the front end out once and his bike takes the first dirt nap. In the Olympics we uncover absolutely great beauty

and we get a taste for the blood sucking bugs that we expect to find (hey we are testing everything :D )

We are also testing out a couple of packing methods as well. I am always amazed at how much gear it takes to commit to camping. Doing this trip via hotel would mean nothing more than side bags for both of us. Not so with a tent, water proof camp gear to wear, shoes for climbing around...hell food for a week takes up a crap load of room ( I was not going to shop every two days).

Nothing left now but to wrap up the small things on the list, spare keys, tubes, brake pads etc and somehow get all this crap on the bike in a way that we could repeat in the field. He will be a senior in HS next year. We will be leaving the day after school gets out. Funny I haven't waited for school to get out for a long long time. :D

suwee 07-26-2010 01:51 PM

Awsome start! I'm looking forward to your report and would love to be able to do my trip next year with my 19 year old. However it just won't be possible. So I have to read yours and be envious.

Glad you've made it home safe.

Jigo 07-26-2010 02:15 PM


We put on as many miles as we could to get him ready. A little sketchy for me to watch him I must say. But on the other hand seeing him in the mirrors is awesome! As neither of us had bike camped for this long of a period, we needed a couple shakedown trips to iron things out. The first was to the dry side of the state to the Grand Coulee dam area. Mostly highway riding.

Nice country.
I passed Grand Coulee Dam too on my way to Oroville :D I love the backroads of Washington State. Nice country indeed.

TomTom63 07-26-2010 03:47 PM

Hey GR8ADV :clap! Good start, bring it on:lurk. I'm done with my report... :rayof

GR8ADV 07-26-2010 06:52 PM

Our final service was done on the bikes two weeks ago so we are good to go. Only thing they found was a weep from the transmission seal. I could smell oil from day 1 on this thing but we could never find it, until now. They said it is a major tear down; not what I wanted this close to this trip. They also said it would not be a problem on the trip. Ok, we will put this off until I return.

Chris's bike was solid. The best part was the loners for the Day. I took a 1200r, and he an 800s I believe. Too much fun for him. This did not help with the 650 over Ducati decision. :wink: He can't wait until the next service. Too funny.

Ok, only two last 'hmmmms' before we head out. Tire choices, and Top Box or not. The AK tire issue is a tired issue, and if the topic itself had been a tire, it would have been worn down to the cords long ago. But I still agonized.

For tires in AK here is my take. TKC on the Front and street on the rear and be done. TKC's are better off pave, no question, but I don't think that TKC's will make much difference at all on the slime they call mud in AK, but what do I know. For us, the thought of having a spare for the Dempster seemed like a good idea, so if I am going to take a tire anyway, why not TKC's front and rear and when we need to swap out in 3k miles we will keep the old as our spare for the Demptster. That, and with the co$t of tires in Canada :eek1 :eek1 , carrying our own for the whole trip was an easy choice.

For the Top Box question, I don't really like they way they ride, high and back, and I don't really like the way they look either. But just like the tires, sometimes the results go the other way. We would stuff the box with dried food, lighter than the box itself, and the box would serve as a one stop shopping for food and cookware. It also served as a bear 'resistant' (but not proof) box that we could easily hang as required. It also freed up some packing room so on road packing had lots of freedom.

So there we go. I took the day before the trip off work such that there would be no last minute shuffles, or late night scrambles. We leave tomorrow. Hard to believe. Please no comments on the garage. Over the past two weeks the bikes have taken over and nothing, I repeat nothing, seemed to have been put away after use. :D

GR8ADV 07-27-2010 05:07 PM

I love, love, love leaving on a trip. I love getting on the bike knowing I am on the first travel day. I love passing the cars coming the other way on their morning commute. And I love waving to bikes coming the other way doing the same thing. I love knowing that I will be driving by the regular turn off to work and going going going. I see the other riders look over at a fully loaded bike. They know too that my day will be much different than theirs.

Loaded and ready for lift off from Seattle. Wife, Ms. Adv, take the official pic and we are good to go. This spring has been the worst in history weather wise. One of the coldest and wettest to date. It looks as tho we have caught a break as the forecast is for decent weather until we get into the interior of BC where it should be good.

We will be taking the Westerly way to AK for those who read the Milepost. That means Cassiar Hyder/Stewart and the likes.

Checking in with Chris, he has no desire for 3 hours of slab up I-5 (I like him more already). We opt for a trip to the west to the Olympic Peninsula. From there we will ferry to Vancouver Island and Victoria where we will visit my sister. Whatever, whenever at work and we have just left the driveway.

On the way we drive right by Rich's Custom seats again, so we stop. The great thing about his place is that there are always bikes there, and real 'riders', no show and tell guys here. Only those who put serious time on their bikes cough for the dough to be comfortable. There are always good folks to chat with. And of course he always has the coffee on!

One such Harley rider made the trip to AK a couple of years ago on his ultra. He said the TOW was a mess in the rain. He paddled his way in the mud for hours; but he had a big ass grin on his face! Now that is my kinda guy. :clap We hung for a cup and then made our way to Port Angeles for the Ferry to Victoria.

Here we are waiting for the Ferry. Note the young woman leaning on the back of the Goldwing.

She is a 13 year old girl traveling with her dad from Colorado. He is all chatty and having fun, she has her face planted in her hands facing away from the group. Not particularly in the mood at the moment and I guess it has been a long trip. Dad notes that she lost her communication wire that allows them to talk, so she has just had her Ipod. He also says that this is the second trip where that has happend. Can you believe it?? :rofl Maybe he would take the hint? haha. They were both having fun later on the boat, and likely this was just one of those moments.

Chris does his best imitation of Brad Pitt on vacation as we head to Canada.

As we approach Victoria harbor, or is it harbour, we see a large cruise ship that is likely heading to AK as well. The border crossing is interesting as the series of questions for chris was unique. Is this your dad? Does your mom know you are here? Do you live with your mom? How long have you had the bike? Ever been on a bike trip before? How long was it? Where did you go? The one that through him was "Where do you live"? We always say Seattle when we travel because more people know that than Bellevue, where it says we live on the passport. She looked down at the passport, then back and him and asked again. He got it right the second time. Chris refers to the Q&A as the "Do you love your mother border crossing"

The weather was now hot and we have lucked out. We park the bikes and tour the fine city on foot. The Empress hotel is just beautiful. They said they were full for afternoon tea, but I think maybe they didn't want us radical adventure dudes in their tea room.

We also took a tour of the Parliament build. Quite impressive to see where not very much gets done. :wink: I think it was Mark Twain who said, "thank the lord that we don't get all the government we pay for".

As we left we took the one and only highway out of Victoria up to my sisters. 25 years ago they were in the boonies, now they are just out in the woods. Nice place and a great twisty road to get us there. Outside of the worst traffic jam I have been in in a while, the drive was nice. My niece comes by, we all have few homebrew and a great chat.

We share stories of 35 years ago when they toured the US together for several months on motorcycles. He was on a 750 Honda, and she was on a Honda 350 four. Things have changed a lot since then as he looks over our bikes.

He still has his 1972 (I think) Honda 750 tucked away in the barn. It was so crammed in I could not get a pic. He needs to bring that baby out and restore it. It was THE bike in the day, Windjammer fairing and all.

We then all sit down to what will be our last home cooked meal in a while. My sis is a great cook.

Jigo 07-27-2010 07:13 PM

Great shots! I love how you positioned your camera. Keep them coming.

SparkyL 07-28-2010 08:08 AM

This looks like it will be a great RR! I'm in.

BTW, how did you ever convince Mrs. GR8ADV to agree to Chris getting his license and a bike? My 21 year old got his license and a bike last year, and his Mom is still pissed!

Have a great trip and safe travels. Keep it coming. I hope to copy you some day.

GR8ADV 07-28-2010 09:43 AM


Originally Posted by SparkyL
This looks like it will be a great RR! I'm in.

BTW, how did you ever convince Mrs. GR8ADV to agree to Chris getting his license and a bike? My 21 year old got his license and a bike last year, and his Mom is still pissed!

Have a great trip and safe travels. Keep it coming. I hope to copy you some day.

Hey Sparky. Well, I am not sure exactly. I can understand it when I go on my trips alone as I think I am worth more dead than alive. :lol3 But it is different with your kids, especially for a mom. Most likely because he is 17 and this was an adult supervised process. I made the bike choice; the MC safety course was a requirement; all his prep miles were riding with me. I am an ATGATT guy and stress that a lot. Although he still does not get it; maybe your 21 yr old will. I am sure this all helped. But I must admit it is a risky business. Don't get me wrong, it is not that there was/is not concern on both our parts.

In the end, this is someting that we will both look back on for the rest of our lives. I hope you make the chance happen for you and your son.

enumclaw 07-28-2010 12:03 PM

This sounds so familiar. My then 17 y/o son did the MSF training, got him a great bike to start out with, a KLR250. Prep miles all with me, ATGATT minded as well. He graduated from high school last year, shortly after we traded up to a KLR650.

Not long after that we headed out on a 6 day ride through eastern WA, OR, ID, MT, and back. It is a great feeling having him in the rear view mirror, or out in front.

It is also scary as hell.

Late August we're heading up for a week on Vancouver Island. Next year we're doing the Deadhorse trip. These are some great times.

Not to stomp on your report, you understand. Keep it coming, looking forward to it. :1drink

C-Stain 07-28-2010 01:38 PM



Wanna adopt another son? I have my own career...come equipped with Grandchildren and LOVE to travel far and wide....

Just sayin....?

BusyWeb 07-28-2010 05:15 PM


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