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dave6253 08-10-2012 01:50 PM

WAY UP NORTH - To The Arctic Ocean & Back to Arizona

I'm back!

And this time I brought company!

The plan is to ride all the way to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska...

...Taking the Scenic Route...

...We'll be in a hurry...

...But we'll stop for flowers...

...and absorb the beauty...

...But there's no guarantee...

...We'll make it there...

...Or see anything if we do...

...But we'll have fun together...

Let's Ride!

Standby! The Ride Report Will Begin Shortly

dave6253 08-10-2012 04:30 PM

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?
June 21st - July 15th, 2012

Alaska! This had been a dream of mine for years. I've mulled over maps and plotted routes there and back many times. But when I've crunched the numbers, one fact remains. It's a really long ways up there and back from Arizona. I know I'll need at least 3 weeks to do a decent trip, and even that time is probably too short. If I went alone I could probably do several 800-1000 mile days while in the lower 48 to allow a more leisurely pace while there, but still. I'm married with 2 kids. It would be incredibly selfish to use all of my vacation on such a trip. Taking one of the kids has been discussed, but in reality I know they wouldn't enjoy such a brutal schedule, especially in bad weather. So like so many other dreams, Alaska Dreams were supressed. I told myself I preferred exploring backcountry on gravel roads and that my extended weekend trips were enough. Afterall I wouldn't really enjoy all of those boring highway miles anyway. Alaska was something put on the back burner. Someday... Maybe when I retire...

Summer 2012. I hoped to get away alone for at least a week for a nice ride. The kids were now old enough for Helen, my wonderful wife, to return to work after many years of being an awesome stay-at-home mother. I didn't want the kids sitting around the house alone all summer. So we arranged for the kids to fly to Europe for 28 days where they would spend time with family. I made plans to take 10 days for a 4600 mile solo ride up the west coast on the Aprilia. I was getting excited for this trip and even had new tires delivered. Then suddenly Helen informed me she would not be working afterall. I was really bummed as I was really anticipating the solo trip. The solution we both agreed to was for me to go ahead with the solo trip. I would then return to work for a week before leaving together for a casual ride on the KTM for a second week of vacation. I planned to show her around to some of my favorite places at the Grand Canyon and Southern Utah. Sounds like the perfect summer, right?

Then some jerk started posted awesome photos from Alaska... I realized my Alaska Dream was still alive. I had the vacation time. I just needed to take one additional week off work. This week included July 4th, a paid holiday, so it would only cost 32 hours... Hmmmm.

So I hurriedly put together a route. Then I took the proposal to Helen. I know she's not gonna want me to disappear alone that long. Would she be interested in going along? To my surprise she didn't immediately reject the idea. She wants to go to Alaska, but like most sane people I'm sure she'd prefer to go by plane, or take a cruise (She rarely rides and has only been on one multiple day motorcycle tour). I made a strong case. Let's do it! We're not likely to get the chance without the kids around for many years. I'm a long way from retirement, and may never live to see the day. Maybe I'll not be able to ride then anyway. Carpe Diem! Let's do something spontaneous! Can you believe it? She ultimately approved and wanted to come along! We've been successfully lured to Alaska!

When the decision was finally made we had only 31 days until departure to prepare for a trip many spend a year or more planning for. I got busy ordering all of the stuff needed. The next few weeks the Fedex and UPS deliverymen were showing up with new goodies almost daily.

The route I planned included riding up the west coast, through the Olympic peninsula, Vancouver, and up the Cassier. I didn't have much of a plan in Alaska, but knew I wanted to ride up the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay. The return route would be through Dawson, Jasper, Icefields Parkway, Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP etc. It was more than 10,000 miles. With only 25 days to ride it we need to average more than 400 miles a day... each day.

I'm lucky enough to own 2 bikes. The 2007 990 Adventure was the obvious choice of the two. But it's not really ready for such a long trip yet. The water pump shaft seal needs replacing, I need a new front tire, and all of the maintenance done. So a few long nights in a scorching hot shop are in order.

The second time replacing the water pump shaft seal was much easier. I replaced the OEM shaft with a super-hardened part from CJDesigns. The old one hadn't failed yet, but after about 12,000 miles, it was overdue. The new one is guaranteed to last almost forever.

We are riding 2up for this trip. (This means Helen rides on the back, as I wouldn't dare ride behind her.) Packing for 25 days of varying climates on the road and camping is hard enough for one. For 2 on on 1 bike it's nearly impossible. I spent alot of time stressing over what we had to bring, and what must be left behind. How will it ever all fit?

The packing list wasn't finalized until the last day.
Believe it or not. This all fits.

BMWORBUST 08-10-2012 04:34 PM

Really like the shots. HDR is awesome.

dave6253 08-10-2012 04:46 PM

Day 1
June 21st, 2012

The first day began with an 8 hour shift at work starting at 5AM. After work I raced home and completed the last chores before closing up the house for nearly a month.
It was 2:45pm before we ventured out onto the scorching slab.

It was 110 degrees in Phoenix and wasn't gonna cool anytime soon as we struck out towards the west.

Into the blinding sun. It warmed up to 112 degrees near the California border.

At sunset we stopped in the Mojave Desert.
Helen was happy to be on "vacation".

We avoid the Interstate and stick to the desert 2 lane highways. We are nearly alone out here.

A snack stop in 29 Palms.

Shortly after leaving 29 Palms we headed up into high desert where it quickly cooled into a comfortable evening for a ride. We found a place to spend the night around 11pm.

WIBO 08-10-2012 04:50 PM


dave6253 08-10-2012 06:06 PM

Day 2
We slept next to the highway for free.

Recharged we are back on the bike early, hoping for a long mileage day.

We head out of the hills and stop for breakfast in Barstow.

Climbing towards the Sierras.

We cross the Sierras at Walker Pass.

And begin enjoying the California Twisties.

The Western Divide Highway is my favorite. More great curves than in all of Arizona.

dave6253 08-10-2012 06:17 PM

Western Divide Highway
I love this road.

We transform from bikers to hikers and set out on the Trail of 100 Giants.

Big Sequoia Trees!

Back to bikers.

dave6253 08-10-2012 06:22 PM


Originally Posted by WIBO (Post 19331555)

I hope you popped enough for everyone.


Originally Posted by BMWORBUST (Post 19331443)
Really like the shots. HDR is awesome.


TOTim 08-10-2012 06:38 PM

Your photos are amazing. Keep them coming.

dave6253 08-10-2012 07:21 PM

The curves end.

So I navigate across the hot valley...

using a network of straight farm roads.

Even the cows look bored.

After a food break in Coalinga we head out to find Old Coalinga Road.

dave6253 08-10-2012 07:23 PM


Originally Posted by TOTim (Post 19332362)
Your photos are amazing. Keep them coming.

Thanks TOTim. There's tons more and maybe a little video as well.

BMWORBUST 08-10-2012 07:49 PM

Okay. I will like this one. Love bikes, cameras, post processing and great reads.

Post your gear, hot and colder weather to come. Camera, computer, software and storage of each.

Give us a laundry list.

dave6253 08-10-2012 08:20 PM

Old Coalinga Road
It was a fun blast through the mountains.

Avoiding wildlife...

Wildlife of all types. At one point an entire herd of squirels spread out over a large field began sprinting towards and across the road. It was very bizarre as there was at least 30 squirrels. I missed them all, even though I didn't try.:D

Highway to Hollister.

We made it to the Santa Cruz Monterey Bay KOA just after sunset. Of course, they were full. A worker there gave us a few suggestions for camping, but said anything nearby would be full. It was to early in the trip to start settling for motels, so we continued on. We hoped to find camping, but never did. I really wanted to ride through the redwoods and Skyline Boulevard in the daylight. Maybe next time. At least it was no longer hot. We finally settled for a decent Super 8 off the freeway in San Mateo. It was almost 1AM.

dave6253 08-10-2012 09:39 PM


Originally Posted by BMWORBUST (Post 19332823)
Okay. I will like this one. Love bikes, cameras, post processing and great reads.

Post your gear, hot and colder weather to come. Camera, computer, software and storage of each.

Give us a laundry list.

Geez! Anything else?:lol3

Helen models the riding gear.

We both wore Olympia AirGlide jackets and pants. This gear works great for hot weather and is made largely of air-mesh polyester weave. We both wore polyester t-shirts and
athletic shorts underneath. When it cooled down we added layers of sweaters and the "waterproof" insulated liner tops and bottoms. If things got really wet and/or cold we had
Tourmaster Sentinel rainsuits. We both wore Scorpion Helmets. I had Sidi Discovery Rain boots and Helen had some last minute cheap touring boots from Cycle gear. Both were
supposedly waterproof. We both had 3 pairs of gloves.

The riding gear worked well for us on this trip. There is no way I can handle non-mesh riding gear in the hot climates like many of you obviously do.

On the top case is the tent.
The stock seat has an Airhawk pad for Helen (Though I had to borrow it about 1.5 days)

Left Column: (Top to Bottom)
Stuffed in the glove box and under the seat: Jumper Cables, Tire Levers, Patch Kits, Zip Ties, Extra Cam-Buckle Straps, KTM Toolkit, Extra Tools, Metal repair putty
Stuffed in Our Pockets: Chain Lube, Bug Spray, Sunblock, Headlamp, 2 flashlights, 2 Leatherman Tools, 5 Hour Energy

Right Pannier: (Top to Bottom)
Extra Stuff Sacks, Waterproof Bag, Swimwear, 1 Pair of Jeans for Each, 1 Extra Shorts Each, 4 Extra Shirts Each, 2 Extra Pair Riding Socks Each, 2 Pair Casual Socks,
2 Pair Hiking/Running/Casual Shoes, 2 Toiletries Bags (I really tried to condense it to one, but no way), 2 small towels and washcloths, Handwarmers for Helen,
KTM Oil Filter, Giotto Rocketblaster (For Cleaning Camera Sensor), 2 iPod nanos

Top Case:
2 Sleeping Bags, 2 Big Agnes Aircore Sleeping Pads, 4 Mountain House Meals, Jetboil Stove and Extra Fuel, Sporks, Napkins, Dishtowel, Snacks, Oatmeal, 1 Sweater

Left Pannier:
2 Spare Tubes, Air Compressor, Spare Rear Brake Pads, Olympia Jacket and Pants Liners, Tourmaster Sentinel Rain Suits, 2 Sweaters, 2 Water Bottles,
Velbon Ultra Luxi-L Tripod, Extra Gloves, First Aid Kit, Stocking Cap, 2 Mosquito Net Caps

Tank/Camera Bag:
Raincover, TP, 3x5 Notecards, Inkpen, Pencil wrapped with spare electric and duct tape, Tire Guage wrapped with electric, duct, and 3M 2-sided foam tape (For Camera Mounts),
Memory Cards (Ran out of space on them all), 2 Clear Helmet Visors, Extra Shop Towels, Battery Chargers and Cables Galore, The Camera and Lens that took the photo,
3 lenses, Remote Flash Triggers, Flash, 2 Point-n-Shoot Cameras, Helmet Camera, Minipod, Camera Mount Clamp, Maps, Business and 4x6 Size Contact Cards

As you'll see the packing list and locations packed varied some, but this was how we started out. It was really like fitting together a puzzle to get everything inside the
luggage until it cooled off and we started wearing more. :lol3

Computer? We didn't take one. This report is written after the fact on a new desktop (since my old one crashed after getting home). We both carried smartphones that
we used to arrange lodging, search for hopeful weather reports, update Facebook, peruse Advrider, and call the kids in Europe.

Software? Lightroom 3.6, Photomatix Pro 4.2 (For HDR), Microsoft ICE (For Panoramas), PicMonkey (For Fun)


The DSLR is a Pentax K-5. 4 Lenses were used: Pentax DA*16-50, Pentax DA 55-300, Samyang 8mm Fisheye, Tamron 90mm Macro. I carried a flash and remote triggers.
I think I used the flash for just a few shots, and never used the flash triggers. Night photography is easy when it doesn't get dark.:lol3

I had 2 Point-n-shoots to begin with. A Panasonic TS3 waterproof model and a Panasonic ZS5. I wouldn't really recommend either at this point...

The helmet camera is a Drift HD1080p.

GPS is a Garmin 60CSx that I used mainly to keep stats and record tracks. The route was highlighted on paper maps. Navigation was never an issue on this trip as it was all "highway".

dave6253 08-10-2012 09:59 PM

San Fran
I know how to put in a long mileage day of riding. The key is to be up at first light and to have hundreds of miles done before lunch. But after getting to bed so late, we decided to sleep in. Helen doesn't stay awake on the bike if I wake her early. So getting to bed late and getting going the next day would be the norm for much of this trip.

It was around 11am before we head into San Fransisco.

What's with all the traffic on a Saturday?

I think I know.

A famous Bridge.

The toll was free today.

All that traffic...

Was in a HUGE hurry...

...To get to the other side of the bridge in front of us to drive 20mph UNDER the speed limit.
I expected this on the coast, but I'm still short of patience.:D

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