|08-26-2012, 03:22 PM||#1|
On the Black Beast
Once in a Lifetime Adventure: Minneapolis to Ushuaia via Deadhorse
I'm at the part of my adventure where I'm ready for a formal ride report. Up to now, I've been bouncing around on the motorcycle, planes, boats, and other means of transportation, while also getting the hang of life on the road (more to come on that). The beginning of this RR includes some none motorcycle riding content, but it's part of the overall adventure. Hopefully it will be admissible, and helps add context.
For those interested, I'm also keeping a blog, http://oiala.com, to update the non-inmate demographic. However, we require something special, so I'll be doing my best to update both.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
I had a successful consulting career within the corporate world for the better part of 6 years. I found myself at a crossroads, and decided to take some time off to adventure and figure out the next move; we can call it a sabbatical? The idea of a motorcycle adventure had been in my mind for years, and I purchased a 2009 BMW F800GS (the beast) in early 2010 to kickstart the plan. The plan was vague at the time, but it was the necessary catalyst - the seed - for things to come.
Fast forward to December 2011, when I was pondering my next life move while sitting on a beach in by the jungle in Costa Rica; In a moment of clarity, I realized that the time was right, and that I would be taking the beast from tip-to-tip of the Americas. Over the next six months I focused on replacing myself at work and leaving it as best as possible, and planning the adventure.
April 27th was the end of my corporate life, and the beginning of my adventures (not yet on a motorcycle). First up was a month-long visit to my home country of Colombia with my girlfriend for some backpacking, beach, and other general exploratory fun.
Local motorcyclists dealing with a landslide.
Cocuy National Park, Colombia
Cocuy National Park, Colombia
Cocuy National Park, Colombia
Cocuy National Park, Colombia
Tayrona National Park, Colombia
The flight back to Minneapolis was on June 4th. The plan was to spend a couple of weeks of preparation before taking off on the first leg of the motorcycle adventure. The initial destination was Ojai, CA, for the wedding of a good friend. I made it there in 5 days, through MN, IA, NB, CO, UT, NV, and CA, starting on Sunday, June 24th.
Loaded and ready to go!
Day 1 campsite - Branched State Park, NB
110.3deg/F... Within black AeroStitch Roadcrafter...
Leaving campsite in Paonia, CO
Blog Post: June 24th - June 29th
The wedding was a great experience, and I rode alongside part of the wedding party and newlyweds for a few days up the coast of California; wine region, Pismo beach, etc. I broke off from the group on July 4th, and headed toward yosemite to meet up with a friend to do a 4 day backpacking trip.
Fellow adventurer couple from New Zealand.
Tioga Pass, Past Yosemite National Park
Blog Post: June 30 - July 4
We got out from the Yosemite backcountry in one piece and with great memories, had the first shower in days, and returned some civilization into our bodies with the help of beer. The next day, July 9th, I rode to a friend's place in San Francisco, where I would leave the bike for 8 days while I took a little flight-detour to Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica I met my girlfriend for another backpacking trip up to Chirripó, the highest peak in the country, and to do some beach exploration and R&R. After that trip, I returned to San Francisco, where I stayed with friends, hiked around the area, and did urban exploration. San Francisco is a great place.
View from Chirripó Peak, Chirripó National Park, Costa Rica
One of the most important things that happened while in San Francisco was that I was finally able to get the Klim Badlands set in my size, which I'd been waiting for for many months. The AeroStitch suit that I'd been donning was great for the cool midwest months, but did not do well in extreme heat. Sold it on CL to a nice fellow.
Have a nice life, friend, and thank you for the protection and warmth.
I left San Francisco on July 23rd, en route to Seattle as the next destination. The goal was to make it there by Thursday, July 26th, so that I could meet my 88 year old grandmother on the 27th for a cruise. The following are image from the ride during that week:
Golden Gate & New Klim gear!
Cloud rolling on in HWY 1 on the California coast.
Winding bay on HWY 1 on the California coast.
Jedediah Smith National Park - Among giants.
GoPro action shot from within Jedediah Smith National park.
View from radio tower after following a fire road in the mountains of California (close to Oregon)
Swimming break in Oregon.
When my grandma learned that I was going to Alaska, she said that she'd always wanted to go, and that she'd like to go with me. Now, as much as it would be a great sight to do 2up with grandma... She brought up the idea of a cruise to Alaska as a way to experience it with me, and we planned on meeting in Seattle for it.
The cruise experience took place from July 27th, to August 3rd. I won't elaborate on that too much, but can if there's interest. I'll just say that, after having the freedom of a motorcycle, a 2,500 passenger, 12 deck cruise ship is a cage. A large one, at that. However, it was a great way to spend time with grandma, there were stunning views, and it was a good setting to relax, read, and eat good food.
Amazing views from the ship.
Meade Glacier with Grandma.
The weekend of August 4th was spent in Seattle in order to go to SeaFair. It was a weekend filled with boats, motorcycles, bicycles, kayaks, and planes. As well as two midnight visits to hospitals to assist people I had not known a week before (more on that if anyone is curious...).
Kayaking in Seattle
Grocery run in Pike's Place market, Seattle.
I departed Seattle on Wednesday, August 8th, with a destination of a vineyard in Vancouver Island. I rode through Tacoma to Port Angeles, where I would catch the ferry to Victoria. I ate a phenomenal burger on the way, and also had a chance to ride up to Hurricane Ridge, inside of the Olympic National Park (highly recommended). This was my first motorcycle ferry experience, and I was fortunate to meet many nice people who explained the "blocks", best positioning for the bike, and tips on usual boat behavior.
Unusual place, amazing burger...
View from Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park. Stunning.
Port Angeles, WA - First time with a motorcycle on a Ferry.
The next week was spent at the vineyard, Cherry Point, where I worked the field for a couple days, and helped them with their digital footprint.
Working "The Vines"
Landing almost cost me my children.
View of Cowichan Bay, British Columbia
Next, the plan was to ride all the way up to the tip of Vancouver Island, take a ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, and then another one to Haines. However, my fancy phone's wifi hardware decided to stop working, which also took out other functionality. So, plans were changed, and I would go to Vancouver to prep for the Alaska Trip via land. This turned out to be a great decision.
In Vancouver I was able to catch up on constructing the blog and starting some posts, organize my digital media, and start editing some videos of the rides.
Chilling in Vancouver, BC.
Annnnd, finally.... almost caught up. On to recent events.
Friday, August 24, 2012 was the date when I was to start the journey to Prudhoe Bay. But, I had a failed attempt to make it north past Whistler, BC... I was loaded up and on the road by 9:00am, but the bike was driving like it was on sand. Multiple helpful people yelled at me about it, and indeed, I had a flat... Tires turned out to be the theme of the day. I ended up at the BMW/Ducati dealership, where it was clear that I needed new tires, especially if going up to Prudhoe. I went with the Heidenau K60s.
All the gear off for the new tires.
Naked with new tires!
New tires on, I head toward Whistler by 2:00pm. I got to Squamish riding with a strange vibration I thought was just the new tires, but another nice samaritan told me at a light that my rear tire was shaking at ~50kmph. I stopped by another shop, No-Limits Motorsports (KTM), to look at the problem. The guys there were also very nice, and it was clear that the new tire had a "hop"; part of the bead had not popped. We could not fix it.
The best choice was to go back to Vancouver, where the dealership stayed open to replace it. By the time it was done it was 7:30pm, I was starving and tired. That being said, the folks at the Vancouver BMW Ducati were top notch throughout this affair.
Bonus: David, from the dealership had an amazing customized GS.
After eating some delicious BBQ, I decided it was not safe to try to make it to Squamish to camp by the river. I was able to get a hold of a host for the night, and hopefully Saturday will be the right day to start the leg of the trip.
BBQ... MmMMmmm... Pulled pork.
I was on the road by 9:00am, and headed up the same route that as the day before. The ride started out great, but then there was a big accident before Squamish, BC. Traffic was gridlocked, and it took close to two hours to get moving again. After that it was smooth riding. Lunch was had in Pemberton, and I set up camp around 5:30pm after going up a forest access road.
Had a quick lesson for the day; one of the panniers was heavier than the other, and when navigating the gradient down to the campsite, she took a quick rest...
Near Marble Lake, British Columbia - Taking a nap?
But, the right campsite was reached, and both slept well.
I got up today, August 26th, around 6:00am, and hit the road after some oatmeal and coffee. Currently finishing this up from Prince George, British Columbia.
Next up, I'll ride toward Prince Rupert to find a camp spot for the night. I'm debating whether to take the ferry to Haines, AK and leave the Stewart-Cassiar for the way down. Thoughts from the inmates?
Now, the plan is to keep this updated regularly with my location, pictures, videos, and latest happenings. I'll also update it when I post something to the blog, which will have more "general interest" topics. Please let me know if you have any feedback.
TL;DR; Plan is to ride to Prudhoe Bay, AK, and then to Ushuaia. Have been somewhat on the road since June 24th until August 23, 2012. Started Alaska --> Ushuaia bit today, on August 24. Currently August 25, in Prince George, British Columbia, and debating whether to ride up the Cassiar, or take the ferry to Haines and Cassiar on the way down.
togume screwed with this post 09-07-2012 at 02:12 PM
|08-26-2012, 03:34 PM||#2|
Have battery will travel.
Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Minnetonka Minnesota
I enjoyed the first part of your ride report and am looking forward to more.
The Minnesota Airmarshal
|08-27-2012, 12:57 PM||#3|
Joined: Sep 2007
Just watched your great pics and in the background runs U2 "where the streets have no name" ,make me feel so good
Thank you (and U2) for that...
I don´t like mondays...
|08-28-2012, 12:36 PM||#4|
On the Black Beast
Thanks for the nice words!
Quick update: I made it from Prince George to Francois Lake, where I camped in bear territory. More on that later. After a night of light sleep, I made it through a day of rain-riding into Prince Rupert.
Today I'm taking the ferry from Prince Rupert, BC, to Haines AK. Riding out in about 10 minutes to catch it, and it's raining hard. I get to Haines, AK, around 1:30am on Thursday. I'll have to figure out where to spend the night to get an early start to Fairbanks.
|09-07-2012, 02:09 PM||#5|
On the Black Beast
Prince George, BC --> Prince Rupert, BC --> Haines, AK
Following up the quick post above, and continuing the report starting on August 26th...
While updating the digital life from a coffee shop, I was taking advantage of the sun for a quick dry session before heading west to find a camping spot for the night.
The idea was to get to Fraser Lake, BC, and find a spot for the night around there. As I got close, my stomach started asking for cheese, and the first grocery store was attacked. There were a couple locals in the parking lot that looked as if they might know of a good spot. Turns out one of them had property by Francois Lake, and generously offered it to me for the night. Nobody was there, and there was a huge field in which to camp. The only caveat was that it was bear territory. I'll take it!
Roadside-special dinner was had in the parking lot before heading up to bed.
Sunset over Francois Lake
Full disclosure - I'm green around the topic of the big brown furry animals; bears, moose, caribou, elk, etc. I've been researching and talking to people about the subject, so I have an idea of how to behave. However, the first encounter is still nerve racking.
I pulled up to the property through the dirt roar, undid the chain on the fence, and followed the ~1km driveway. At the end of it was a shed, house, man toys (boat, loader, truck, etc), and the field. I rode the bike past the house to see the beginning of the sunset, and about 200yds away there was a sow with two cubs. I changed directions and rode away from her into the field, and all three ran away. However, to the right, was another large bear by itself. A few minutes later, while getting the camping gear off the bike, there was an elk down one of the trails to a nearby field.. No better time than now to get comfortable with the animals.
Hard to tell, but the three bears can be seen in the middle
Tent in the field of bears
The food pannier was hung up high, along with all the smellies, and only brought the essentials to the tent. Also, the motorcycle was parked right next to the tent, with the key in the ignition, just in case noise needed to be made. Sleep was light that night, full of real (or imagined?) noises. The wake up call came after 5:00am when the rain started to come down. Time to go.
Shed where I hung up the food and smellies
The rain did not let up all day, and the though of taking the Stewart-Cassiar highway was gone after I saw the forecast for the area. The plan became to take the ferry from Prince Rupert to Haines.
Ferry ticket purchased ($372 for myself and the bike) leaving next day (August 28th). The night was spent at the Pioneer Backpackers Inn, which was a great find and respite from the weather.
Leaving the hostel, in the rain, en route to the ferry
Ship crew busting a move
Tied up and ready to go
Home for the next few days
Alaska from a ship
The ferry arrived at Haines, AK at 1:30am on Thursday, August 30th. Said goodbye to a fantastic crew, and rode to the nearest pull-out to crash for the night.
Ready to go, again
The next leg of the trip would be to ride form Haines, AK, to Fairbanks, before going up to Deadhorse, AK.
togume screwed with this post 09-07-2012 at 02:21 PM
|09-07-2012, 02:18 PM||#6|
Flyin' Elvis, UT Chapter
Joined: Feb 2007
Location: Salt Lick Sity
Nice report and nice start to things! Keep it coming. I'm in.
2012 Victory Vision Tour
2012 Yamaha XT1200 Super Tenere
|09-08-2012, 11:29 AM||#8|
On the Black Beast
Haines, AK --> Fairbanks, AK, via Canadia
Continuing on from where we left off. This time around with the 2 day drive to Fairbanks from Haines, starting on August 30th.
Slept from 3:00am until 7:00am, and was woken up by a beautiful daybreak over the mountains around Haines.
Pro-tip: The canadian border opens at 8:00am, so the only option is to wait out around the area until then. There is a beach about 1/2mi south of the ferry terminal in Haines with a great spot to camp, complete with soft moss, tree cover, and bathroom facilities (no shower). GMap link.
Coffee, breakfast, pack, go. The day was perfect for riding; scattered clouds, and temperatures between 50's-80'sF.
Morning view of Haines
Haines Highway Summit
Coming into Haines Junction
The day was filled with riding and gazing at the beautiful scenery. Of note was that the Canadian side of the Alaska highway was pretty destroyed, and it got better once in AK. The immigration/customs guy had the sense of humor of a turtle, and was not having any friendly banter attempts. He opened up a bit once he saw my US passport... Welcome to the US of A.
Next up I gassed up at Border City, and headed to Tok for the night.
Made it to Tok for the nigh. Obligatory food porn: Best Thai food from food truck!
Sometimes the world is too small; I met some great folks in the ferry, and got to know them well over the time spent on the ship. That morning we'd hugged, said our goodbyes, and exchanged information. Fast forward to me getting Thai food. Picture an ADV rider, helmet shield full 'o bugs, suit stiff with mud, and walking like you've been riding for the better part of 10hrs straight. Food and sleep is the only thing on my mind. Well... these people had just gotten to Tok, and had also decided on Thai. One of them snuck up on me, and everyone was surprised. I didn't even notice their car parked across the street when I rode past it to part right in front of the food truck...
We ate as a team again, and headed over to a state park to camp for the night. Beers were had, caribou cleaning was witnessed (yum), and good rest ensued.
Beers cooling in the glacier melt creek. Win.
The next day, August 31st, was a no-nonsense ride to Fairbanks. The weather was a mix of cold, cloudy, and windy, and the bugs were out in full force.
Hell yes, I'm having that delicious looking cupcake. Destroyed.
Welcome to Fairbanks
I was lucky I had a place to stay at Fairbanks, which turned out to be a fully outfitted man-cave/garage where they restore old American classics. Could not have asked for a better place as a base for the ride up to Deadhorse (pics of that later). The decision was made to spend Saturday in Fairbanks to weather out the hunting opener (hunters would be all over the road), and leave on Sunday, September 2nd.
Next up, Ride to Deadhorse and back...
|09-09-2012, 03:35 PM||#9|
On the Black Beast
Deadhorse, AK, and Back
Took off for Deadhorse on September 2nd, around 8:00am. The first stop was breakfast and lots of coffee at the Hilltop Cafe and gas station. The weather was opening a bit, but mainly cloudy and in the 40sF.
Clean bike leaving Fairbanks
Fuel for the road
The ride until the Yukon Crossing was foggy, rainy, and very muddy. I ran out of gas ~ 1 mile away from the pump, and coasted down to about 50yds of the pump. Success.
Muddy Yukon Crossing
First fuel up
The ride to Coldfoot was wet, but the road was better, especially the paved sections of the road. More gas was had there, quick hot lunch, and on to Atigun Pass. It had snowed earlier in the day, but it was late enough in the day for it to have melted.
The sky started to open up around the pass and Brooks Range. I was alone in the road, and the road construction had stopped working because of the weather.
Starting the climb - Last Tree is gone, and so is the sign...
About 30 Dall Sheep trickled down in front of me as I was coming down from the pass, and some stopped for a photo-session.
The ride through the Brooks Range was spectacular with the post rain clouds, and the road starting to dry up.
View back toward Atigun Pass
The nice weather stopped abruptly around Toolik Lake, where the visibility deteriorated, and freezing rain started coming down. The plan was to camp around there, but with the likely chance of weather deterioration, the decision was made to push as much as possible. There was road construction about a mile north of there, and the worker told me a plan had crashed earlier in the day due to weather. Nice.
It was around 7:30pm by that time, and I was going to try to make it to Deadhorse, given that the days were still long. However, 50 miles out of my destination, with a wet road, strong headwinds, and temperatures in the 30sF, it was time to stop for the day. Camp was made in a pull-out, and the bike used as a wind-shield.
Shelter is shelter...
Red eyes, mud, tired. Time to sleep
The wind made it hard to get sleep, and the trucks hauling through the night made me hope the tent would stay upright. Thankfully, it did.
The ride on Monday morning was easy and short after some rest. I went to the Prudhoe Bay hotel, ate, and decided to stay there for the night. The rate of $120/night in a shared room seemed high at first, but it included all meals, laundry, and a dry spot to rest.
Made it up
The plan was to do a polar bear plunge in the ocean, but the way to do it was through a tour of the oil field. However, they require 24 hours to clear security, so I'd have to wait until tomorrow. The day was spent taking advantage of the free food and talking to workers.
Woke up early on September 9th, got things ready, and headed over to the Deadhorse Camp to take the tour of the oil fields.
Can haz oil?
Halliburton has a sense of humor?
Deadhorse in all of its glory...
The weather started to clear after the tour, and that was a signal to depart. I met another lonesome rider in the tour, sporting a 1200GS, with whom I rode out around 1:30pm.
The weather held throughout the day, the roads were mostly dry (not without deep mud at times), and we pushed it hard to take advantage of the variables. We were in Coldfoot by 6:30pm, and with enough daylight in front, decided to push to get out of the Dalton (and possible to Fairbanks)
Feeling good in Coldfoot
Last fuel up in the Dalton
Obligatory Dalton sign picture (was not visible on the way in)
Riding was slow in the dusk and dark, especially looking out for furry critters and hunters, but Fairbanks was reached by 11:30pm
Back where we started
The next day was spent cleaning the bike, discovering that the glacier silt had eaten through the rear pads and into the rotors, and planning the maintenance to complete now that she turned 12,000mi.
|09-09-2012, 03:57 PM||#10|
One day at a time!
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: MN. (summers) AZ. (winters)
Thanks for a really great RR with very nice photos and interesting story. We have two kids who live in Anchorage and I really enjoy looking at Alaska ride reports. You've been on quite the adventure. Great going. Your photos are super-great and it would really be neat to know what kind of camera that you use. (Hint-hint) You certainly had a couple of brave camping nights! Glad you didn't get eaten up or run over!
Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Ride
Oldone screwed with this post 09-09-2012 at 05:34 PM
|09-10-2012, 12:31 PM||#11|
On the Black Beast
Glad I didn't get eaten, run over, and that my tent has stayed pitched! But, there's still a long road ahead.
The camera... I debated bringing a fancy camera, but my setup ended up being fairly simple. The main camera is my iPhone 4S, which is now good enough to be a point-and-shoot replacement. I also have a Canon SD780 as my "war" camera (one I don't care if it gets dropped, drowned, or shot). Videos and some photos come from the GoPro Hero2.
However... I've been REALLY itching for a Sony Alpha...
I just finished updating my fuel stats spreadsheet online, for the data nerds:
|09-10-2012, 04:15 PM||#12|
not saying what I mean
Joined: May 2007
Location: The City that Care Forgot
enjoying your report and wish you continued success.
PS that iPhone 4s is a suitable replacement for a P&S; you're absolutely right about that.
Travels With Stella! Colorado_________________
__Take Two Journeys_______________________
Travels With Stella! Out West_________________
_Mardi Gras New Orleans 2009_______________
Travels with Stella! In Appalachia ______________
Mardi Gras 2010__________________________
Travels With Stella! Arkansas...again
|09-10-2012, 06:38 PM||#13|
Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Vienna, GA
You are off to a great start and I am enjoying the report. Myself, my Dad and Brother are planning a trip to Deadhorse next summer. Stay safe.
|09-10-2012, 07:25 PM||#14|
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: Sheridan WY
We are enjoying your RR, reliving our trip last summer to Deadhorse! We live in Sheridan Wy and would like to extend any help or assistance you may need in our neck of the woods. We have shop, tools, truck if you should need to do some preventive maintenance or repairs. Just let us know.. Carl and Jonnie ps: we did a trip to Ushuaia this last winter, Awesome memories!
|09-10-2012, 08:16 PM||#15|
On the Black Beast
@beech - It's very rewarding, and can be tough. Timing is everything up there. Hit me up with any questions, or if I can be of any help. I met a lot of interesting people and came out of the experience with good connections; from workers, truckers, business owners, and folks from the DNR.
@Carl - Thanks for the generous offer! I've put that in my trip notes, and will definitely be in contact should I cross Sheridan. Maybe I'll bug you for some Ushuaia tips in the future. :)
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