So around November of last year I decided (thanks to a little push from a friend) to go ahead and make the trip to Alaska this coming summer. I've been thinking about doing this trip (Key West, Florida to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska) for atleast 5 or 6 years, and now that's it's gonna happen, I'm prepping full-time and anxiously awaitting early June!
First thing I did was to find a new bike for the trip. Earlier last year I had bought a used Ninja 650r and was planning on modifying it for a trip like this. However, due to a lack of shop space and access to tools due to my current living situation, I decided that if I could sell the Ninja, I'd be better off going with something like a Versys (practically the same thing as the Ninja) or if I could find one for a good price, maybe a GS. I really wasn't interested in a KLR (I've owned one before, good bike but not what I'm looking for right now) or the Vee-strom (rode one, but it just didn't do anything for me); I need to have something that made me feel alive when I rode it. After all, there's a lot of miles between Key West and Prudhoe Bay, and only a relatively small portion is non-paved. So to make a long story short, I was able to sell my Ninja in December, and within 2 weeks I had found a replacement in the form of a 2009 Kawasaki Versys (with only 1400 miles)! You can read my fly-n-ride pick up report HERE.
Alright, so now I got the bike, time to get it outfitted and prep my gear. I've got a lot on things on my to-do list for this bike, but here's what I've done so far:
Mud Flap to protect the inards.
Thanks to whomever put a broken dock cart by the trash cans! :D
I also put on a new set of mirrors on the bike. The stock ones vibrate so bad you just can't see anything. So I picked up a pair of really cheap mirrors on Amazon.com upon hearing that others had used them with good success. After all, at less than $10 a piece, how could I loose! Turns out, they work great! Here's a LINK if you're interested; sorry, no close up picks, but you can see them in the pics that will follow.
Next on the list, I picked up a new tent, a Kelty Gunnison 2.1, and a new camera, the Canon T1i. With these few new items (as well as an itch to get off the island for the weekend, I live in Key West), I decided to go for a little shakedown campout in the Everglades this past weekend. This would give me a chance to try out the new tent and the new camera. I had also been wanting to ride Loop road (off of Hwy 41) for quite a while now. While I don't have any protection on the bike yet (skid plate, engine guards, barkbusters, etc...) I figured I'd be ok if I just took it easy.
So here is my little rr from this past weekend's excursion.
Great bike choice.
I'd like to make the trip north someday, so I really enjoy reading about other people doing it. Have a great time and post lots of pictures!
Day 1, Key West to Flamingo Point (Everglades national park)
So, got the bike loaded and headed out around 8:30am or so.
The weather as actually rather overcast and foggy to boot! Here's the view looking east on Big Coppitt Key (2nd key up from Key West)
It didn't improve much as the day wore on so I apologize that the pictures from day 1 are not your stereotypical sunny Florida type of pictures. The sun did peak through from time to time, but that was about it. Don't worry though, I didn't let it get me down. I was just happy to get out for a ride on the new steed! :ricky
Here is the Bahia Honda bridge.
People fishing under the bridge at Bahia Honda.
The Seven Mile Bridge. It was so foggy that you can't even see the big hump in the middle going over Moser channel!
Once up to Key Largo, I decided to take Card sound road. I've done the keys ride more times than I care to remember, and trust me, after you've done it a couple hundred times, it starts to get old. So I decided to change things up this time and take Card sound road; it's a little more scenic I guess and a LOT LESS traffic (that and I found a secret gem of a road before hitting the main land! more on this later).
A little after the toll bridge on Card sound road, I spotted a side road that seemed to parallel Card sound road and lead to the mainland. The bonus was that it was NOT pavement! :deal
Turns out it was a lot of fun, a little muddy from the recent rains in spot, with a lot of big water puddles. Here are a few more pics of this road (SW 137th Ave as it was labeled on my GPS) which pretty much took me all the way to the Homestead raceway.
I eventuallty got to Florida City where I filled up with gas and dinner supplies and then headed for.....
Got to stay on my toes though, I'm entering Panther country!
I went in to the park, paid my entry fee and headed towards Royal Palm for my first stop. I had heard that this was a great place to spot some local wildlife (I was not disappointed, aside from the poor light quality). Here are some pictures from that spot.
After a short while I got back on the bike and kept going farther down into the Everglades. My destination for the night was the campground at Flamingo point. As I was going down the road I started to get a little light headed... :choppa ....then I saw this
Now it all makes sense, I'm gaining altitude! :lol3
Onwards and upwards as one of my former teachers used to always say. I eventually reached the Flamingo Point campground and picked out a good spot.
Started to prep a little fire to cook my dinner for the evening (my jetboil and other campsite cooking stuff is up in VA).
The evening's menu:
The main course-
And after dinner libations-
All in all a great day of riding. The bike was purring like a kitten (make that a BIG kitten!) and I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Afterall, wasn't that the point of the whole thing!
STATS for the day:
PS. I'll try to post up Day 2 tomorrow night.
The Versys is an excellent bike selection for your trip north. My wife road a Versys to Alaska in June/July 2010 and the bike performed excellent with zero problems. One of the best improvements is to put a 3 tooth smaller rear sprocket on the bike.
See http://2wheel-adventure.blogspot.com/ for the AK ride report we did for our friends and relatives. Other mods to the Versys are covered there as well.
Look forward to your ride report from Key West north. Ride safe.
Sure was nice riding out of the park Sunday wasn't it. Beautiful day.
You got some good pictures at Royal Palm. It was over run with tourist when I stopped on Sunday. However, the little side trails were nice. Not many people at all.
Good luck on your big trip to Alaska. I am about one good days ride north of Key West if you come the scenic route through the center of the state. If you go up the interstates you by-pass me. If you come up US27 give me a holler. I have an extra room in the house.
Great RR so far! :clap I'll be waiting for the next installment.
You found the shortcut!
I used to live in the keys, and it seemed like every time I had to drive up to homestead for something there was a crash on card sound or the stretch. I've been across that gravel road a few dozen times.
Thanks for the invite; I'll let you know if I come through the area.
Day 2, leaving Everglades, do Loop road and then back down to Key West.
So here I am all packed up and ready to go.
Snapped a few pictures of some wildlife on my way out.
Saw this little side road and decided to go explore. It supposedly led to Bear Lake.
A little muddy in spots, but nice.
Turns out it eventually dead ends at a canal where you then have to continue either on foot or by canoe to reach Bear Lake. :ddog
Ohh well.....more wildlife! :D
Before exiting the Everglades, I decided to swing by and check out the Nike Hercules missile site. I remember when I came into the park yesterday seeing that they did tours there at 10am; it was now 11am and so I figured I might still be able to catch the tour group. Boy was I lucky, because the really fun stuff (the missile barns and stuff) were behind a locked gate!
Here it is.
Our tourguide unlocking the gate.
Two of the missile barns over the berm.
The missile assembly building. The missiles actually arrived here in pieces and had to be assembled on site. The Hercules missile is 41 feet long, this building was 42 feet long!
One of the actual missile barns.
The launching pads just outside the barn.
The bunker on the other side of the berm from the missile barn where the crew would if they had to launch a missile.
It was a pretty cool place to see; they faced some really tense moments here back during the Cuban missile crisis.
From here I headed back to Florida City and got some tacos for lunch after filling up the bike.
From there it was onto Big Cypress national forest to run Loop road.
The first bit of loop road (if you come in from the east) is paved.
Some nice warning signs.
Then the dirt starts.
IT as pretty much like that road I hit yesterday off of Card sound road. Not too hard at all, just a little mud and some big water puddles.
All in all it was quite enjoyable with beautiful scenery on either side of the road.
I eventually looped back to Hwy 41 and started to head back to Key West.
Ended up pulling back into Key West around 9pm or so. All in all a very fun weekend; weather was good enough, and the bike ran great!
STATS for day 2
Thanks for taking us along XC! :D Looking forward to your AK Adventure!! That's a ride I have pondered myself....southern tip of US to northern extreme :wink:
One of the locals told me Loop Road was paved all the way at one time. Hard to believe that now.
You get some really nice pictures. Reading trip reports from far away places is fun, but it's also great seeing places you have already ridden. See those places from someone elses eyes.
That place has a pretty wild past. It's actually part of Monroe County so back in the day it was left un-patrolled by the law. Al Capone had a place there.
Good to know another ADVr is in the Conch Republic ! Not too many
of us in this tiny town. We have a group that rides and usually hits Card Sound area and back on a weekend, and also goes on shorter and longer trips.
Keep in touch if you are looking for others to ride with.
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