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Old 08-08-2013, 09:00 PM   #1
isaac004 OP
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Father and Son Ride the Dalton to Prudhoe Bay

This RR may not be nearly as ground breaking as Sibersky Extreme 2012 or as insightful as RTW with Noah (two of my favorites this year), and will not have nearly as high of a dirt/asphalt ratio. While the motorcycle ride up the Dalton Highway is somewhat ubiquitous in today’s age, and not a very difficult ride by ADV standards, it still remains an important rite of passage to many motorcyclists riding resume. In my case, it is also an important trip to spend time with my father, which is why I’m spending the time to write this up. A bonus kicker is that he was born in Alaska and has not been back since he was 5 years young. I received some good feedback on the last big trip we did (Father and Son Ride the Divide) and I’m hoping more people will be inspired by this one, both to get out and ride and (even better) get out and ride with your father/son/mother/daughter (in no order of preference).

First off, a few previews of what is to come:












The Trip:
As you might guess, this ride is already completed. We rode the last part of June and most of July. While some people are pretty good at live RR’s (and there are definitely merits to this, especially when solo), I opted to do nothing more than just take photos and jot down notes at the end of every day (a journal if you will, but in bullet points) so that I could enjoy my time riding with my Dad, and worry about writing posts and organizing photos later. The plan is to post up a few times a week, as my free time permits, to rebuild this ride on this forum.

This is something we have discussed for a few years now. I would say that last year it wasn’t even a big possibility, it was pretty low on the radar screen. But we started talking about it more, including a fellow inmate and one of my good friends in Michigan, Dom. As the end of 2012 approached it was beginning to sound more like a possibility, although Dom had to drop out has he had just started a new job and could no longer afford the big chunk of time off required. So then there were 2. My Dad is retired, therefore his planning window was easy. I had the challenge in securing time off, but luckily my boss is very understanding and holds a soft spot in his heart for motorcycle trips with my Dad. With a 3 week window secured, we planned the trip around that including my time to ride up and back from Los Angeles.

My Dad had a no brainer choice to use his XR650L, which is the same bike he rode on our 2010 trip down the Continental Divide. It’s a reliable beast that has served him well. Most of his major trip preparation was completed for the CDT (luggage rack, wind screen, etc), but he did make a few upgrades. These include, but are not limited to:
-Upgrading to a new Zumo GPS
-Addition of Aerostitch Tank Panniers to better balance the luggage load
-Volt meter, to better manage the charging system due to the heavy load of the Gerbings heated jacket and gloves (using both would dictate turning off the head light).

I elected to take my F800GS. I had considered using my trusty and loved DR650, which I had ridden on the CDT ride with great success, but elected for the F800GS due to the high miles expected on the slab and the minimal amount of challenging dirt we would face. Mods that I installed in the months leading up to the trip include:
-ADV Monster Model 60 LED lights with dimmer switch. These things are BRIGHT and well worth the money.
-Touratech tool box for the BMW aluminum skid plate. Seemed good at first, not as handy as I would have liked. Will explain more later.
-Shaved the factory seat down to provide a flatter and wider seating surface. A big improvement, but also still leaves something to be desired.
-IKEA sheep skin, cut down to a seat pad
-Kaoko throttle lock. A solid purchase, you may question dropping the cash, but once you hit the super slab and turn it on, you will love yourself (which you already should)

I’ll explain packing and spare parts later on in the RR.
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Old 08-08-2013, 09:05 PM   #2
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Meet the Inmates:
Myself (Isaac), a 29 year old mechanical engineer from Purdue University living in Los Angeles working at a major industrial gas and chemical company. I learned how to ride at age 12, and rode on and off until age 22 when I bought my own motorcycle and began riding more frequently.


My Father (Patrick), a 64 year old retired automotive test driver and mechanic from the Big Three, currently living in south east Michigan. He has been riding since high school. Now retired, he spends his time riding, and building bikes like this one.


One of our trips together, Titus Canyon in Death Valley.


And of course the rest of the crazy family that has embraced the love of two wheels.


Here are the GPS tracks from this trip:

isaac004 screwed with this post 08-13-2013 at 10:19 PM
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Old 08-08-2013, 09:11 PM   #3
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Isaac, this should be fun following a long.

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Old 08-13-2013, 10:17 PM   #4
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Day 1, June 27, 288 miles, Los Angeles to Owens River Gorge

I had a few options on how to get from LA to Seattle, where I would meet my Dad at my Aunt and Uncles place. These included shipping my bike, driving it up on my Trailer in a Bag, or just riding up. In the end I felt the right thing to do was drive it up. Flying was too costly and driving was fast but did not feel right. I had to pack all my stuff up 4 days prior, as I had to go to Edmonton, Alberta for a few days for work. Due to the constraints of my meeting up there, I was left with no choice but to fly back and land at LAX at noon on the day I was to leave. My flight made it on time, and so I got home in a timely fashion and was able to do my last minute touches and preparation. Around 3:30pm I was all set to roll and set out to my girlfriends house just 10 minutes away. Here I am with the loaded bike, all clean, ready to go.


After spending a bit of time with her, we said our goodbyes and hit the road. Here she is (Angie), still supportive of this ride!


Angie was nice enough to have gifted me with a SMH10/11 Bluetooth headset a few weeks before the ride, so I tuned it to NPR and headed out around 5pm. I took 210 West to 14 East to avoid the traffic on 5. Dinner was an excellent #3 meal at In-N-Out. It was pretty warm at this point in the mid 90’s, but I was moving at speed and it was not too bad.

From 14 north, I jumped onto 395 north. It was a bit windy, I would guess 30mph cross winds. Enough to be a minor annoyance, but not nearly as bad as I had seen a year ago where it was gusting at 50mph and causing constant fear in your heart.


It continued to heat up even though it was around 6pm. The highest temp I saw was 99F. Here’s the first of many self shots.


395 is one of my favorite highways. By itself, it may not be too much for motorcycling since it is fairly wide open and fast, but I love it for two reasons:
1.The view of the Sierra’s. You have a highway on the valley floor around 3k feet, and a bunch of 14k feet peaks to your west. Very beautiful.
2.The access to all of the great things in the Sierra’s. Before a small finger injury, I would always head up here on the weekends for great climbing all up and down the mountain range. World class hiking, and motorcycle riding too.

The Sierra’s are one of the best ranges in North America. Here is the sunset I was treated to.


Darkness came and I continued to push on. My goal was to make it to Bishop for the night, so I could knock down a good number of miles and also get out of the hot desert quicker the next day. The forecast looked clear but I saw big clouds looming north of Bishop, which is known to produce stormy weather when a small system rolls through. I briefly thought about getting a hotel room in case it rained, but figured it would clear out fast and continued with my plan to camp. I headed for some of the camp sites used by the climbers of Owens River Gorge. I’ve camped here a few times before and knew of some good spots. Gorge Road was pitch black and it felt kind of eerie, but luckily I had my bright as the sun ADV Monster Model 60’s to light the way.

I found my camp site and went to make a u-turn in the large cleared out “drive way” when all of a sudden my skid plate was bottomed out.


Uh oh. Turns out in my u-turn, I found some talc like sand just 6 inches from the main drive way of this camp site. The bike sunk in FAST.


I took all my bags off and carried them 15 feet away to where I would pitch my tent. I could then lay the bike over and put some rocks in the hole for traction.


That worked, except I would quickly advance forward into a new hole of softer-than-sand sand. So I resorted to laying the bike over again, and then dragging it out a few feet so when I stood it back up, I was back on the firm drive way of the site. Perfecto. Finally time to get some sleep, as it was about 10pm by then. Due to the clouds seen earlier, I opted to put my rain fly up just in case, but it turns out I would not need it. The night was a perfect low 60’s temp with light winds and a clear sky. I even saw a shooting star overhead.

Tracks from Day 1.

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Old 08-14-2013, 07:39 AM   #5
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Fantastic Isaac! Already living vicariously through your report.
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Old 08-14-2013, 09:49 AM   #6
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Looking forward to this ride report. I still go back and read "Father and Son Ride the Divide" on occasion. Youre right about just getting out there; especially with loved ones. I am looking forward to the day when my son and I can ride together. Oh and I see your father is still rockin that gorgeous windscreen.
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Old 08-16-2013, 09:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j-zome View Post
Looking forward to this ride report. I still go back and read "Father and Son Ride the Divide" on occasion. Youre right about just getting out there; especially with loved ones. I am looking forward to the day when my son and I can ride together. Oh and I see your father is still rockin that gorgeous windscreen.
Thanks, glad you are still enjoying the Divide Ride Report!
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Old 08-16-2013, 09:49 PM   #8
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Day 2, June 28, 595 miles, Owens River Gorge, CA to Eugene, OR

I woke up around 6am to a beautiful morning.


As quick as possible I rode continuing north on Gorge road which would dump me back on US395. I knew a small section (a few miles) would be dirt but did not expect it to be somewhat soft sand, so I had a little struggle as I still had my Anakee 2 front tire on. To make matters worse, someone camping off to the side had 2 dogs large dogs that ran out and insisted on trying to body block my progress so I had to slow my speed ways own. I finally got out of that OK and continued on to Lee Vining for a gas and breakfast stop.

The Chevron just south of Lee Vining (at the entrance to the Tioga Pass) is an awesome gas station with good food at the restaurant inside. They had a simple bagel, but also have fresh squeeze orange juice. I sat outside talking with a couple that lives in Palm Springs, and was getting ready to hike a section of the PCT for a few weeks.

I grabbed a quick early lunch at 1030am in Reno at Del Taco, party to get food to keep me going and partly to cool down and refill the CamelBak full of ice.

I continued north pass Susanville and the scenery began to get a bit more green. The road also got a little twisty and more fun.


Then it flattened out some.


Off to the west here you can see Mount Shasta.


Enter Oregon. Remember to not touch the gas pump.


I stopped near Klammath Falls for a second/late lunch at McDonald's, also needing to cool down quite a bit. One of the customers there saw my gear and warned me about a local cop on OR-58 who often sits on the west side of a tunnel, radaring people and giving tickets for less then 5 over. Thanks for the tip sir, though thankfully I didn't see the cop at all.

I considered camping but opted for a place with a shower since it was quite warm in the 90's and it had been a long day, so I ended up at Motel 6 in Eugene. I was even tired enough to just order Jimmy Johns for delivery, which was great since I hadn't had it in a long time and it was a college favorite.

Tracks from Day 2.
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:01 PM   #9
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Day 3, June 29, 288 miles, Eugene OR to Poulsbo WA

Today was to be a simple super slab drone up I5, the goal being to arrive at my Aunt and Uncle’s house by noon so there would be a little time to relax and do some bike work. I hit the road at 6:30am, and got to Poulsbo around 11am. It helped that it was a Saturday so there was no commuter traffic, but there was still a good handful of holiday traffic. I did notice a lot of cops all over the freeway, as well as a lot of other motorcyclists.

From left to right, my Aunt, Dad, Uncle, and I, taken from their backyard. It is quite the nice backyard…that is the Hood Canal and Olympic National Park in the background. Sometimes there are nuclear subs creeping up and down the canal.


My Dad and I.


Before I left LA, I had an old Anakee 2 that already had 6k miles, so I put the front one on again to get me up to Poulsbo where I had a fresh TKC waiting. I installed a new K60 rear before I left LA, hoping that would get me to Alaska and back to LA.


My Dad had installed fresh MEFO Explorers that he had waiting there as well. Those were supposed to get him up to Alaska and back to Michigan, but only time would tell! ;)

Day 3 GPS Tracks:
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:26 PM   #10
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OK, this RR is going along slowly, been pretty busy with work and other things. Here is another installment.

Day 4, June 30, 368 miles, Poulsbo WA to 100 Mile House BC

We had an early start to make the Port Townsend ferry. On the ferry we met a guy from San Diego who was on a 3 week road trip up to BC/AB in his 1950 Ford Wagon, which was pretty much all original. His specialty is wood work for cars like these, and his has a special bamboo wood job on it as his signature. Along with the car is a matching camper wagon from the same era. It’s pretty cool to see someone taking a car this old for a proper road trip.

20130630 Alaska 03

20130630 Alaska 05

Here is my Dad enjoying the car.
20130630 Alaska 07

It’s nice how they let the bikes go to the front of the ferry.
20130630 Alaska 10

We hit the border just after lunch. Nothing too eventful, just a few standard questions and we were through in under a few minutes.
20130630 alaska 18

The road transformed to from flat land to rolling hills to mountains. The BC area is some nice area.

Self shot.
20130630 alaska 22

A pipe line bridge.
20130630 alaska 23

Rolling shot of my Dad.
20130630 alaska 27

It became VERY hot, floating around 95-100 deg F. Even at 110 in Cali, it does not feel this hot…it’s dry enough to still get cooling from evaporation. The humidity was somewhat high and it just felt stifling hot. We had to stop every hour or so just to cool off. It also made us drowsy pretty quickly.

Rolling hills into 100 Mile House.
20130630 alaska 34

We grabbed a hotel at 100 Mile House for the night. The guy at the counter said a lot of American’s will call in to make reservations, and ask them if they have running water.

Grabbing money out of the ATM’s in Canada can prove to be difficult since the US does not use chips in our debit cards. All cards in Canada have and use chips, so you find that some ATM’s will not work.

We also did some bike maintenance in the parking lot. I tightened up my chain on my F800GS, just a tad, as it was replaced before I left LA. My Dad discovered that the chain guide (the block that sits on the bottom of the swing arm at the rear sprocket) had ejected when the bolt rattled out…it then rode along with the chain until it jammed on the upper side of the countershaft sprocket near the block. Luckily there was no collateral damage and it was easily removed.

GPS Tracks
20130630 Day 4
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:54 AM   #11
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Ill be following along. Sounds like a great trip. I would have loved a closer look at that station wagon on the ferry.
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:34 AM   #12
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Great report! Trips to Alaska are always interesting for me. Looking forward to your adventure!
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:36 AM   #13
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I'll follow along too. I rode the www.alcan5000.com in 2006 and 2010. I'm entered in 2014 too. I like riding up there. Particularly on a dual sport.

The eastern slope of the Sierras have that cinder ash all over. At least I think it is cinder ash. I sunk my old 950 up to the skid plate just like you. It's like quicksand. My adventure was just off the road at Mono Lake.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:05 AM   #14
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Enjoying the ride report. Looking forward to more installments.
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:02 PM   #15
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I'll follow along too. I rode the www.alcan5000.com in 2006 and 2010. I'm entered in 2014 too. I like riding up there. Particularly on a dual sport.

The eastern slope of the Sierras have that cinder ash all over. At least I think it is cinder ash. I sunk my old 950 up to the skid plate just like you. It's like quicksand. My adventure was just off the road at Mono Lake.
That ride looks like a blast.

Yes, the cinder ash sounds quite accurate. Almost like that fine silt (like talc) that is dotted around Death Valley and Baja.
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