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.