Alaska solo ride early spring - ride report

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Damiano, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. Damiano

    Damiano damianomigani

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    just relocated to London UK from SouthCal
    I have been fantasizing about this trip for almost 2 years.. main issue was to find the time to do it, and when in November they told us at work they would send us home for a site closure, suddenly it was clear, and I started planning for real.
    The best time for me to go would have been end April, even though I knew Alaska was going to be cold and very few people had done it that time of the year and I didn’t have many references on weather. The alternative would have been riding all the South US through Texas Louisiana Florida to end up reaching Yucatan and up through Mexico.. The Idea to go to such a desolated place tickled my mind much more and I knew I hardly would have been able to do it in the future.
    To turn this idea into reality it took me about four months. I had to study maps, select worthy touristic attractions, organize overnight stays and most importantly, understand if my body was up to take 12 hours of riding everyday for a straight up month.
    I read a lot on how to behave in the wilderness, especially night camping, on what do do in case of a close encounter with* bears or wolves, how to make sure wild animals know where you are, but at the same time how to blend with nature.*
    The truth is that in trips of this length unfortunately (or fortunately) it's impossible to plan every detail, and the adventure factor will have to be part of the equation. Overall I rode 7800 miles or 12500km in 27 days (21 of solo riding). To give you an idea of the magnitude, London to New Delhi is 'only' 6000 miles (9800km)

    Below are my unedited notes from the trip, along with maps and photos.* I wrote every single night before going to sleep after many hours of riding, so forgive the few errors.. It was a great way to keep the memory of this experience alive.*
    Also, I hope someone will benefit from them in a future ride. Enjoy!!




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    April 13 - Day 1

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    Start!
    Riding Gear:
    Full face helmet, 2 balaclavas, 2 Under Armor polar shirts, full Alpinestar Drystar padded suit, 2 pairs of snow wool socks, BMW goretex boots, Tourmaster polar gloves.
    Camping Gear:
    4 season tent, air mattress, sleeping bag, portable pillow.
    Bike Modifications: touring windshield, Throttlemeister, passenger backrest with rack
    Emergency Gear: portable air compressor with emergency tire fix kit, first aid kit, Iridium satellite phone, bear mace.
    Gadgets: tomtom rider2, iphone, leatherman multitool, 5in knife, 2 flashlights, tent lamp.

    Left San Diego at 9.30 on the 15N. I pass the Nevada border, then Las Vegas at 2.30. I never rode on the strip before.. Other 2 hours and the freeway makes its way shortly through Arizona and then Utah. To build this road here they must have blown full mountains. I can see red rock walls on both sides, it reminds me of the GrandCanyon red. First contact with a Utah resident is at the gas station. White trash seems common. Gas is cheaper though, which is not bad.
    Just 20 miles later, I turn east on 9E towards Rockville. Beautiful stretch of road, in the middle of huge rocky valleys, open space, clean air, no traffic.
    Just after mile post 26 I turn right on a small private dirt road. I&#8217;m at Keith&#8217;s now, a local beer brewer met on CouchSurfing. It&#8217;s 11PM, I rode 500 miles in 9 hours. So far so good!

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    April 14 - Day 2

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    Not too much driving today, I left Rockville at sunrise towards Zion National Park. After about 20 miles of tight twisties I enter the National Park. This early in the morning, I'm still pretty much alone. I pay the $12 to enter and I drive to the information center. After breakfast I park at &#8216;Canyon Junction&#8217; and I get on the free bus (only way in). I can&#8217;t explain Zion in words, the pictures will tell more but for now it&#8217;s leaving me breathless. I tried to do a little trekking, but I don&#8217;t have the right gear. After Zion I want to reach Bryce canyon, which is about 70 miles away. After one hour drive I get to Bryce. I want to set up the tent first so that I can leave everything there and be free to drive around without gear. To get to my spot in the campground I decided to try crossing a small pile of snow, but I got stuck in it, and trying to move 700 LB of steal at 9000ft it&#8217;s not easy task.
    Bryce doesn't have many trekking paths like Zion, it&#8217;s just one single 20mile road which ends in Rainbow Point. I get to it and I have lunch in front of one of the most majestic sceneries I&#8217;ve ever seen. The red rock and white snow colors clash creating a very beautiful effect. I can feel the lack of oxygen and even the bike feels a bit weaker. After few pictures I get back to the campground and after a quick shower I get some rest. It&#8217;s 32F at 10PM and I know it&#8217;ll go down overnight, I can see white steam coming out of my mouth at every breath..*
    Update: 25F @ 2AM
    Update: 19F @ 6AM
    Time to get the fuck out of here

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    April 15 - Day 3

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    Wake up at 7AM, it&#8217;s 20F (-7C) in the tent, and my sleeping bag is rated down to only 32F. The water bottle is a brick of ice, I slept 3 hrs max shivering. I set up my stuff and take off. Driving at this temperature is not easy, but I&#8217;m wearing every single piece of clothing I have, which is keeping me decently toasty.
    I leave Bryce headed North towards Salt Lake City on the 89N. First and only meal of the day French Toasts at the Big Rock Cafe, lost in Utah&#8217;s canyons.
    I get to SLC after three hours and I put on my TomTom the Mormon Temple. Weird creatures wearing white collar shirts and black ties walk around the area. I take some snapshots and continue West towards Wells NV.
    I go through the Salt Flats of Boneville, lunar scenery..
    I reach Wells and continue North towards Twin Falls ID and bang! first ticket of the journey.. 80 in a 70 mph, the cop was nice enough to charge me only with the speeding violation and not the crossing double yellow line, I&#8217;ll fight it for sure ;/
    I get to twin falls, after a quick hot tea and fill up, I keep on going towards Boise ID for last two hours of rain and darkness on the freeway.
    I get to Boise at 10PM. Against my expectations, its a very young and happening little town. Ton of cute girls and clubs near my hostel downtown.. I&#8217;m staying at the Boisehostel, I meet the owner and his friends, all bike fanatics and I join them for a couple of beers downtown.
    700 miles in 11 hours today..
    I want to write a letter to the Japanese engineers that made the FJR. This bike was made to cover huge distances at speed and comfort. Never an issue, the engine still delivers the oomph no problem at 35k miles. I really want to thank them for creating such a little jewel.

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    April 16 - Day 4


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    Nothing special today.. I went from Boise ID to Spanaway WA to my friend John&#8217;s house.*
    It&#8217;s about 500 miles of freeway, crossing briefly Oregon where I had breakfast.*
    The scenery drastically changes from ID to OR. The vast prairies turn into mountains. In WA this is even more noticeable.. high snowy mountain are frequent..*
    from OR to WA there was a strong head wind for over 250 miles which sunk my mpg mileage and tired me a bit.*
    In WA I had to go through high mountain passes, passing by snowy woods, frozen lakes and foggy low clouds. In rest areas you can get free coffee and cookies to keep you awake (only in WA!)
    I crossed the time zone mark three times in the last two days! UT to NV, Nv to ID and ID to OR !

    Im at my friends house now, tomorrow will be just a short drive to Port Angeles and then the ferry to Victoria Canada!

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    April 17 - Day 5

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    I leave Spanaway at around 9am, headed Port Angeles. I drive the 120 miles with no rush. The road is nothing spectacular, except the last 20 miles. Both sides of the road are filled with a thick layer of pine trees, the asphalt is smooth and compact, and the ocean offers breathtaking views.
    I leave the main road on a small private road, there are a couple of empty vacation homes right on the beach, in the air peace and silence. I take couple shots and get back on the road.
    Once I get to Port Angeles I get my ferry ticket and I meet a group of Canadian bikers. Discussing my trip plans, a biker terrorizes me telling me about all the bears I&#8217;m gonna see in this period, and how hungry they are going to be after months of winter hibernation.
    I&#8217;ll try to find motels on the road when I can, but on the Alaska and Cassiar highway there are stretches of hundreds and hundreds of miles with no one around, so I&#8217;m not sure I&#8217;ll find accommodation every night. Honestly I&#8217;m not sure if I&#8217;d like to see a hungry Grizzly bear near my tent.. This sense of danger and unknown is making me realize that* going now and alone might not be a good idea after all. I still have three days to make up my mind.
    In the meanwhile I&#8217;ll be reading about correct behavior to avoid close encounter with wild life. Apparently you have to make a lot of noise, so that bears know that you&#8217;re there. it works like with sharks.. they really don&#8217;t like to eat us, but if they feel you are endangering them in anyway they might attack. Another golden rule is to hang food up on a tree, far from where you&#8217;re sleeping.*
    On top of that you can&#8217;t carry anything sweet, including toothpaste because they can smell it far away (I&#8217;m thinking of Yogi Bear and honey)
    If I&#8217;ll really have to deal with a bear, you must stay calm, don&#8217;t run away, clap your hands and slowly move away without turning your back on it or looking it in the eyes.*
    An extreme remedy I have with me is bear mace, a pepper spray for bears that can shoot 30ft away. Also, I was told to buy some firework like gadget that explodes when thrown on the ground, and that should scare them. what else.. never turn off the bike while taking pictures, so that you can take off quickly if in need.
    Honestly I&#8217;m already crapping my pants, I hope I&#8217;ll make it mentally.*

    Victoria is not bad. Small and right on the ocean, cold like its citizens.* Ilijc and I went to a pool with his friends tonight. Canadians are cool but a bit weird at times, very kind almost fake. bah it might be the lack of sun?

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    April 18/21 - Day 6/9


    Im not sure how I feel about the city. It might be for the people, that always seem to be know it all in every occasion. They can&#8217;t wait to tell you what you&#8217;re doing wrong.
    on the 20th we went to Botanical Beach, a small town on the south coast of Vancouver Island. It&#8217;s abut 60 miles from Victoria and the road to get there its a small strip of asphalt in between flourishing vegetation, full of tight twisties.. We get to port renfrew and after a quick lunch we walk down to the beach. This place is famous apparently for the low tides that leave space to rich vegetation on the sea floor. We take pictures for over two hours, I see also an american bold eagle looking for food. in all this we forget of returning by a certain time and when we try the only passage is closed by the ocean.*
    The only way to get back is to take off shoes and pants and cross the 30ft of really cold water to the beach trying to keep all the camera gear bone dry. We make it safely to the other side, but before getting there i put my foot in the wrong place and fall on a slippery rock. luckily my bag is still dry but I&#8217;ll carry the bruise on my butt for a while..*
    Today apr 21 I went to Sidney BC on the ferry to Anacortes WA, tonight I&#8217;ll stay at my friend Juan&#8217;s house and tomorrow I&#8217;ll get on the ferry to Alaskaaaa/

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    April 22 - Day 10

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    Spent the morning with Juan, at 12.30 I leave for Bellingham, 2 hours north of Seattle. I get to the port, check in and start bringing my stuff to the top deck. The check in agent was surprised to see a motorcycle, apparently I&#8217;ll be the only biker on this transfer and I&#8217;m the first one of the season!*
    *I set my tent outside like others. I expect three boring but wonderful days. I have 2 books to read and a lot of coast to admire. Also, there are many young travelers to talk to. I already met a couple from NewZealand that are going around the world with their 4x4 truck/motorhome. They already went through Malaysia, Thailand, Mongolia, China and Russia, and now Canada and Alaska, 2 years on the road. We&#8217;ll be driving the same road till Anchorage together.
    For now I&#8217;m only hoping the wind wont blow my tent away.
    In the meanwhile my air mattress is already broken, 140 dollars in the trash. I tried to fix it, but I feel it&#8217;s slowly deflating under my body. On a positive note, the stars are beautiful up here from the ocean.

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    April 23 - Day 11

    I spent the full day on MV Malaspina, Alaska Highway&#8217;s ferry. I&#8217;m happy with my decision of putting the tent outside on the top deck. It&#8217;s not terribly cold, but tonight I&#8217;ll wear some extra piece of clothing as I&#8217;m much higher in latitude. Tomorrow we should enter Alaksa!
    Today we went through the &#8216;inner passage&#8217; a natural channel that goes in between many small islands on the canadian west coast. The scenery is getting prettier and prettier.. Huge snowy mountains full of pine trees, small native communities right on the coast. No cars (there are no roads) and so much nature! I don&#8217;t remember last time I saw so much of it. Living in the city we forget how nature flourishes away from us.
    On the ferry I met some people that are camping up with me. the majority are younger guys that go up to Alaska to work for the summer. There are carpenters, a mountain bike guide, a ziplining instructor, and then many fishers and hunters. Fishing up here is one of the main businesses, a couple I talked to lives 4 months fishing out at sea every year and stopping every 4-5 days to sell to local markets.
    The day goes by slowly, I&#8217;m trying to store as much rest as I can knowing what to expect over the next two weeks.*
    The sky is full of stars, I&#8217;m taking some long exposures.*
    This is the first day over the past several years that I&#8217;m been completely cut off from internet and phone, no email no Facebook skype, nothing.
    I miss Courtney I want to call her and tell her I love her.

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    April 24 - Day 12

    First stop, Ketchichan (pop 9000) It&#8217;s Easter today! I get off the boat to walk around a bit in this small town. I really need to find glue to fix that stupid air mattress, but the local grocery store has nothing useful.*
    I meet couple of guys from the ship, we sit for a coffee, then we meet a local guy that one of them knows and he takes us on a drive around town. First we go to his house, he lives in a nice house just outside town. He has a husky and a nice view of the mountains around. He also has a nice telescope* to observe the mountain peaks. He offers us some weed, but I kindly refuse. Then he drives us around town, from the window I see a bold eagle going back to its nest. Ketchikan has small yet colorful houses, there are no malls and traffic. He takes us to a local artist that specializes on totems.
    After this stop the rest of the trip goes by smoothly. Tomorrow morning we&#8217;ll arrive to Haines AK at 10AM and from there it should be about 11 hours until Tok AK, where I&#8217;m thinking I&#8217;ll get a room (it might be too cold to camp out)
    They told me to be careful of wild animals crossing the road, ice and frost heaves.
    Frost heaves are sections of road that literally fall down on the permafrost, which is a kind of soil found only at high latitudes that is soft and not great for constructions. In fact, roads are not too stable and it seems to drive on a roller coaster. Mehm I have to see with my own eyes to fully understand what it&#8217;s all about.
    We finish the night playing apples to ApplestoApples then I go to bed at around 11.


    April 25 - Day 13

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    finally in Haines. The past three days everybody has been telling me to be careful to bears, moose, frost heaves. several people told me that Haines to Tok can&#8217;t be done in one day.. This has made me very impatient to just get out and see with my own eyes what the fuss is all about.
    At 10.30 the ship doors open and finally I&#8217;m out. I leave right away without wasting time. I get out of Haines and I stop at an eagle sanctuary on the side of the street, but I don't see anything. I&#8217;m a little worried that some crazy animal is gonna jump in the middle of the road.. I keep on driving and I get higher in elevation. At this latitude at 100ft altitude there is already snow and actually, after less than 30 miles I leave AK to enter BC. The road is clean but all around is covered in white. The snow is soft and untouched, it feels I&#8217;m driving on cotton candy. The scenery is gorgeous, I&#8217;m euphoric, this place has something mystic and magic to it. After another hundred miles I enter Yukon and desolation is absolute. In 500 miles of road there are only four small communities, only three with gas stations, In Yukon i drive through destruction bay, called after a tornado that destroyed it about 50 years ago. Scenery here is beautiful too, big frozen lakes surrounded by massive mountains covered in snow and woods till the eye can reach. If God exists he must live somewhere around here. After Destruction Bay I have to go through about 180 miles of terrible road.. The permafrost has ruined it, there are potholes and landslides. I can understand to average north american this is bad, but I compare it to rome of the streets in Rome and all of the sudden ain&#8217;t that bad at all.
    I finally re enter AK and almost reach Tok. there is a small campground few miles before town, and it&#8217;s not terribly cold. there is a lot of dry wood, enough to keep me warm overnight.*
    It&#8217;s 10.30, and there is still so much light out, I hope the fire will stay on all night. I&#8217;m alone in this campground, excellent treat for a hungry bear. :)
    480 miles in 9 hours today

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    #1
  2. FlyingPenguin

    FlyingPenguin Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    224
    Location:
    "Where the Donner Party Dined"
    Very nice ride report, love the pics.
    #2
  3. rgiroux

    rgiroux Invisible Man

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,431
    Location:
    Socal near the great 33
    :lol3


    (he probably ran into the Smuggy issues)

    Edit: Ah, i see Smugmug is back up. Great pictures!!!!
    #3
  4. Spicy McHaggis

    Spicy McHaggis Darth Peach's cracker...

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,789
    Location:
    Grand Haven, Michigan
    I like the lack of words. You really let the pictures do the talking! :evil
    #4
  5. Damiano

    Damiano damianomigani

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    just relocated to London UK from SouthCal
    Part 2




    April 26 - Day 14

    <iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=63.325714,-142.835587&amp;daddr=Fairbanks,+AK+to:Whittier,+AK+to:Arctic+Adventure+Hostel,+West+33rd+Avenue,+Anchora++ge,+AK&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=FRJGxgMdfYB89w%3BFZJY3QMd2wYy9ympZf1nT0UyUTE69_4J4AXYsw%3BFcBSnwMdj0Mj9ylTlZKe2Rq4VjHiLl2ODxvX9g%3BFVCzpQMdnt8Q9yHq6zbTENx01ylv8WQexJfIVjEuKFwCn5cEAQ&amp;mra=ls&amp;doflg=ptk&amp;sspn=3.761831,11.239014&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;ll=62.390369,-146.074219&amp;spn=7.140349,18.676758&amp;z=5&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=63.325714,-142.835587&amp;daddr=Fairbanks,+AK+to:Whittier,+AK+to:Arctic+Adventure+Hostel,+West+33rd+Avenue,+Anchora++ge,+AK&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=FRJGxgMdfYB89w%3BFZJY3QMd2wYy9ympZf1nT0UyUTE69_4J4AXYsw%3BFcBSnwMdj0Mj9ylTlZKe2Rq4VjHiLl2ODxvX9g%3BFVCzpQMdnt8Q9yHq6zbTENx01ylv8WQexJfIVjEuKFwCn5cEAQ&amp;mra=ls&amp;doflg=ptk&amp;sspn=3.761831,11.239014&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;ll=62.390369,-146.074219&amp;spn=7.140349,18.676758&amp;z=5" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

    6.30 get up! boo too early
    8.30 get up! im surprised to be still alive, not even the shadow of a bear,*
    It’s 27F i slept with my motorcycle suit tonight. At 9 I’m ready to go, direction Fairbanks.
    Immediately a herd of deer crosses the road and after a while also a moose!*
    After 2 hr of Alaska hwy I reach Delta Junction and have some breakfast. Here Alaska highway ends, I take couple of pictures of the sign and take off. The road from Tok to Fairbanks is nothing special.*
    I reach Fairbanks at 12.30 latitude 64.84N northern point of my trip, fill up and I head on the Park Hwy, towards Denali National Park. Here the scenery changes. Thick snow covers the ground, huge mountains surround the road. small enchanted rivers show up on the side of the road with the sun light reflecting in them. little streams of water completely frozen, green and blu water, sunny blu skies.. wow
    After 100 miles I reach Denali National Park. Here lays the tallest mountain in North America, Mount McKinley (20000ft). All touristic attractions and the park itself are closed. I can see during the summer this place crowded with tourists, there are more signs in Japanese that in English.
    I drive about 10 miles inside the park, hoping to see some animals, but I have no luck.
    I’m back on the road to Anchorage, it should take another 4 hours at least. For the next three hours, huge white mountains are all around. a truly breathless scenery.
    9.30PM I arrive to the Arctic Adventure Hostel. 20 dollars for a bed in a private room.
    550 miles today in 12 hours.

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    April 27 - Day 15

    Today I’m planning a relaxing day. I don’t want to drive too far, I just want to explore around Anchorage.
    First stop is a pier near the ocean where you can do birdwatching. I want to take pictures of eagles in heat, but all I find are some ducks and blackbirds.
    An eagle is resting far away on a branch, but it’s way too far for my 200mm.
    I continue towards Whittier, small town on the ocean on the other side of some mountains that separate Anchorage to the open sea. about 60 miles of snowy mountains that dip into the ocean. very pretty
    I get to Whittier and I* queue for the tunnel. at 2.6 miles its the longest tunnel in north america. to make it special is the fact that only one lane is allowed at a time. it also allows the passage of the train, so the surface i’ll be driving on is wet metal and rails. not the best for two wheels..
    Since motorcycle accidents are quite common, two wheels are let go after the last car have cleared the tunnel, so that emergency vehicles can come right away in the case of an accident.
    at 25mph limit it takes about 7 minutes to go through it. Personally I don’t think it’s as dangerous as it was presented. (I’ve been driving on rails in Rome for a long time, this is quite easy)
    whittier is a small town right on the water surrounded by three huge mountains. Cargo and passenger ships unload their freights directly on the train.
    After lunch in the only hotel in town, i head back to Anchorage. Tomorrow will be a long day.
    P.S. at 10PM is still day up here!

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    Watch this educational video about the Whittier tunnel! :)
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    April 28 - Day 16

    <iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=Arctic+Adventure+Hoste++l,+West+33rd+Avenue,+Anchorage,+AK&amp;daddr=Beez+Knee++z+Bakpakers,+Hoge+Street,+Whitehorse,+Yukon+Territ++ory,+Canada&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=FVCzpQMdnt8Q9yHq6zbTENx01ylv8WQexJfIVjEuKFwCn5cEAQ%3BFclpngMd8T_z9yEtWDKmdWSJmClbrAoI2URUUTE2qvOzJXKgSg&amp;mra=ls&amp;doflg=ptk&amp;sspn=7.61336,22.478027&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;ll=61.501734,-142.207031&amp;spn=7.350659,18.676758&amp;z=5&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=Arctic+Adventure+Hoste++l,+West+33rd+Avenue,+Anchorage,+AK&amp;daddr=Beez+Knee++z+Bakpakers,+Hoge+Street,+Whitehorse,+Yukon+Territ++ory,+Canada&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=FVCzpQMdnt8Q9yHq6zbTENx01ylv8WQexJfIVjEuKFwCn5cEAQ%3BFclpngMd8T_z9yEtWDKmdWSJmClbrAoI2URUUTE2qvOzJXKgSg&amp;mra=ls&amp;doflg=ptk&amp;sspn=7.61336,22.478027&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;ll=61.501734,-142.207031&amp;spn=7.350659,18.676758&amp;z=5" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

    Today I’ll be driving from Anchorage AK to Whitehorse YT for a total of 700miles. 9AM it’s late already considering I have to add one hour in Canada. I leave Anchorage headed NE. First stop is Glennallen. Fill up and go
    The scenery is the same. snowy mountains, frozen lakes and blue skies. I’m overall very happy with the period I’ve chosen. Everybody told me to wait at least another month as the motorcycle season starts in mid may, but I disagree..
    Weather was perfect, it never rained so far, and I saw pretty much no tourists. yes of course hotels and campgrounds are still closed, but for what I need it’s perfect.
    Second break in Tok. fill up again and I call the hostel in Whitehorse. the nice lady confirms she has availability, but she asks to arrive before 11pm. So I have exactly 9 hrs* to do 400 miles. at 55mph average I should make it, but it’ll be hard to stop to rest.
    I stop again right before the border for a coffee and a quick fill up and I enter Canada. At the border I meet Vladimir, a bulgarian man going around the globe on his bicycle. He looks relaxed in his red poncho and long and white beard and hair. after chatting a bit he tells me that Alaska is his last stop. he left Australia in 2004. 7 years ago! and I thought my trip was epic..

    From now on I know the road, I drove it 4 days ago, but now I’m in a bit of a rush. The tarmac is terrible up here. it’s hard to try to avoid bumps and potholes for about 150 miles. a couple of times I thought my bike was gonna fall apart.
    after 9 hr riding non stop I start feeling the effects. I’m tired, my back hurts and im tarting to get cold. (it’s about 37F)
    I can’t help stopping at an abandoned town. it’s only about 6 small buildings.. and the entrance is blocked by a tree on the road. Still, I move it and get in. I can tell right away that no one has been in here for at least 10 years.. the small access road is full of young trees and its completely flooded. I keep on foot.* I try to open the front door of the main building, but it’s locked. not the back door though.. inside I see what’s left of an abandoned restaurant. i walk through the kitchen and where pots and pans are still on the stove. I walk through the main room and behind the counter. A newspaper says Yukon 1995 like the calendar on the wall. There are lots of old restaurant objects, old phones, credit card receipts, old pots and an empty cash register, canned foods expired when I was 13. I take some shots and walk to the motel next door. the entrance is blocked by the snow but the door is unlocked and I walk in. Same story here.. a magazine on the coffee table shows Michael J Fox from 1987! An old couch and furniture eaten by mold show how much time has passed in this room. I was expecting a skull or similar stuff, but nothing :(
    It doesn’t look like the old owners had moved out. more likely they left suddenly, who knows why..
    I drive the last stretch of road at 90mph. I’m really tired but in 2 hours I’m in Whitehorse.
    my hostel is literally the ‘beez kneez’ and at $30 for a bed it feels great after 12 hours riding. night

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    April 29 - Day 17

    <iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=s_d&amp;saddr=Whitehorse+Health+Centre,+Whitehorse,+Yukon+Territory,+Canada&amp;daddr=Dease+Lake,+BC,+Canada&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=FZKvngMdgQzz9yEOslpkIPlGISmrZ4-76kRUUTEfdTTUQkv2eA%3BFSKvewMd7l1A-CkLkoUUr775UzEVlvMu9_NPgQ&amp;aq=0&amp;sll=59.489726,-132.077637&amp;sspn=8.636881,13.996582&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;mra=ls&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;ll=59.589975,-132.077637&amp;spn=3.894201,9.338379&amp;z=6&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=Whitehorse+Health+Centre,+Whitehorse,+Yukon+Territory,+Canada&amp;daddr=Dease+Lake,+BC,+Canada&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=FZKvngMdgQzz9yEOslpkIPlGISmrZ4-76kRUUTEfdTTUQkv2eA%3BFSKvewMd7l1A-CkLkoUUr775UzEVlvMu9_NPgQ&amp;aq=0&amp;sll=59.489726,-132.077637&amp;sspn=8.636881,13.996582&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;mra=ls&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;ll=59.589975,-132.077637&amp;spn=3.894201,9.338379&amp;z=6" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

    Today I’m going from Whitehorse to Dease Lake on the infamous Cassiar Hwy. I leave at 9 sharp. I drive around Whitehorse a bit but I don’t see anything interesting. I hop on the Alaska Hwy towards Watson Lake. Same sceneries, I’m almost getting used to them.. I stop at Swan Heaven, a natural reserve where at the end of April swans stop to rest and mate. I take some shots in the frozen lake with couple stray dogs playing around. I’m mentally too busy thinking of the Cassiar hwy waiting for me. I’ve heard many stories of bears crossing the road, and frozen tarmac.
    I finally reach Junction 37, the starting point of this hwy.
    I notice the difference immediately. The road is narrower, with soft and deep shoulders. I must stay focused, it looks real easy to crash. The tarmac is not very smooth and after not even a mile about 10 deer cross the road ahead of me and I nearly hit one.
    not a good start, the thought of driving 1000 miles in these conditions worries me a bit.
    the views though are incredible.. at every turn a breathless view comes up and with Gotham Project in my ears miles flow smoothly.
    I’m always thinking of bears crossing the road, but so far I haven’t seen one..
    I get to Dease Lake at about 6PM. After dinner I find a campground that unfortunately is still closed (too early in the season). No problem though, I lift up the bar and go in anyway. The small registration shack offers supreme repair for the night.
    It has wooden floor and roof and a spring door. I lay my air mattress down and go enjoy sunset overlooking a frozen lake. Around me complete silence, not a bad view, sipping a beer kept cold in the snow.

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    April 30 - Day 18

    <iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=Dease+Lake,+BC,+Canada&amp;daddr=Telegraph+Creek,+British+Columbia++,+Canada+to:Hyder,+AK,+United+States&amp;geocode=FSKvewMd7l1A-CkLkoUUr775UzEVlvMu9_NPgQ%3BFVKHcwMdjKsu-Cmp3VEqUW34UzF_1u0owXJBTg%3BFZ08VQMdYO8_-Cn3MzfjhtELVDEMp4WY0khVAg&amp;aq=1&amp;sll=57.171992,-130.220947&amp;sspn=4.605272,6.998291&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;hl=en&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;ll=57.338381,-132.60498&amp;spn=4.151643,9.338379&amp;z=6&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=Dease+Lake,+BC,+Canada&amp;daddr=Telegraph+Creek,+British+Columbia++,+Canada+to:Hyder,+AK,+United+States&amp;geocode=FSKvewMd7l1A-CkLkoUUr775UzEVlvMu9_NPgQ%3BFVKHcwMdjKsu-Cmp3VEqUW34UzF_1u0owXJBTg%3BFZ08VQMdYO8_-Cn3MzfjhtELVDEMp4WY0khVAg&amp;aq=1&amp;sll=57.171992,-130.220947&amp;sspn=4.605272,6.998291&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;hl=en&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;ll=57.338381,-132.60498&amp;spn=4.151643,9.338379&amp;z=6" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>


    6 AM wake up. it’s freezing! I get ready and leave the campground. I stop for breakfast at a local gas station. on the news the royal wedding in London..
    I decide to go see Telegraph creek. From Dease lake it’s about 150 miles roundtrip of unpaved and steep road. In some sections the road is marked 20% grade uphill with high cliffs on the side.. It takes me 2 hours to reach Telegraph Creek. The drive is slow and very demanding.. a bit to much gas or brakes and I immediately loose grip.
    The scenery is beautiful. Canyons, valleys, Indian villages..* I get to Telegraph Creek to see what’s left of an old miner town. Only a church and for 4 homes are still standing. All other buildings are crooked by time and the weight of snow.
    Picturesque view, but not worth the 4 hour drive, especially because I can’t continue South, but I have to go back north on the same road to Dease lake, to get to the Cassiar Hwy.
    back on lovely tarmac headed south towards Stewart. I get to 37a Junction at about 4.30PM, and continue to Stewart through glaciers and mountains that almost touch the side of the road. I can see recent avalanches and finally also a brown bear, but he’s more afraid than me that I am of him and disappears in the woods immediately.
    Stewart is a small city in BC on the border with Alaska. You can drive to Hyder AK in just few minutes, but the small american village doesn’t offer much. There isn’t even border patrol officers as you cross the border, because from Hyder, you can’t really go anywhere. There are no roads, no ports, no airports. There is only a post office, a bar/motel and few houses.. The road to get to Salmon Glacier it’s about 20 miles unpaved. I throw in the towel and decide to get back to Stewart.
    As I’m driving back to Canada, I don’t see the border crossing sign. I just drive through it without stopping and pull over few miles later to get gas. After few minutes a police officer pulls me over and asks for my ID. Apparently I went trough the border without stopping, and he asks me to follow him. The border officer immediatley tells me that I am under temporary detention for having crossed the border without stopping. I’m speechless. They go through every single item I own. Having nothing to hide, I cooperate* and apologize and explain that I really didn’t see the sign. After 2 hours of questions and arguing, they tell me that I’m not gonna get arrested or deported, but the bike is now officially property of the canadian government, and that to have it back I would have to pay a $1000 fine. I explain my reasons, my good intentions and they lower the fine to $500. better than before, but still. shit! I pay and get on my way.
    I should continue to Hazelton another 3 hours, but I’m upset, tired and it might get cold and dark. Not the best conditions to ride. I stop in Hyder for the night in a terrible motel. Everything smells like smoke, and four decrepit locals are drinking bad whisky at the counter. I get a room and go to bed.. Oh, almost forgetting.. Canada Sucks!

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    May 1 - Day 19

    <iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=s_d&amp;saddr=Hyder,+AK,+United+States&amp;daddr=Prince+George,+BC,+Canada&amp;geocode=FZ08VQMdYO8_-Cn3MzfjhtELVDEMp4WY0khVAg%3BFRC7NgMd-JOu-CnpD1nv95iIUzFQMHsqFTUBBQ&amp;aq=0&amp;sll=56.122705,-126.96312&amp;sspn=9.479552,13.996582&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;hl=en&amp;mra=pr&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;ll=55.065787,-126.606445&amp;spn=4.404949,9.338379&amp;z=6&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=Hyder,+AK,+United+States&amp;daddr=Prince+George,+BC,+Canada&amp;geocode=FZ08VQMdYO8_-Cn3MzfjhtELVDEMp4WY0khVAg%3BFRC7NgMd-JOu-CnpD1nv95iIUzFQMHsqFTUBBQ&amp;aq=0&amp;sll=56.122705,-126.96312&amp;sspn=9.479552,13.996582&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;hl=en&amp;mra=pr&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;ll=55.065787,-126.606445&amp;spn=4.404949,9.338379&amp;z=6" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

    Nothing special today.11
    I drove 450 miles from Hyder to Prince George. I saw Bear Glacier but I’m still to upset to enjoy anything. For now my main goal is to get the fuck out of Canada as soon as possible (sorry Canadian readers, I was upset:) )
    I get to Prince George at 6.30. As suggested by a couchsurfer I go visit a local free hostel )?) I’m skeptic, but I figure it’s worth a look. I get into the place and it’s full of natives. Some talk to themselves, other are downing a bottle, other rolling a cigarette.. As i walk through the entrance with my helmet and camera, everybody starts looking at me. Talk to registration and apparently I’m at a homeless shelter (!!!) The guy shows me my bed in a room with other 10 guys. The smell of feet and alcohol gives me a headache. he tells me not to leave anything around because it will get stolen. I don’t want to appear rude, after all they play an important role in the community, but I already know I will not sleep here. I thank for the offer and leave. Finally I get a call from another couch surfing guy, he says it’s ok for me to stay at his place. Only problem is that he’ll be back home in three hours. I patiently wait, get a hot drink and rest for a bit.
    I’m now at Adrian, a Quebecer of Egyptian/Turkish background. Good guy. We talk politics and travel sipping a beer until late night.

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    May 2 - Day 20

    <iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=s_d&amp;saddr=Prince+George,+BC,+Canada&amp;daddr=Seattle,+WA,+USA&amp;geocode=FRC7NgMd-JOu-CnpD1nv95iIUzFQMHsqFTUBBQ%3BFcJp1gIdWVy1-ClVM-iTLBCQVDGa1URpRmUlEA&amp;aq=0&amp;sll=56.122705,-126.96312&amp;sspn=9.479552,13.996582&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;hl=en&amp;mra=ls&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;ll=51.344339,-124.804687&amp;spn=9.613732,18.676758&amp;z=5&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=Prince+George,+BC,+Canada&amp;daddr=Seattle,+WA,+USA&amp;geocode=FRC7NgMd-JOu-CnpD1nv95iIUzFQMHsqFTUBBQ%3BFcJp1gIdWVy1-ClVM-iTLBCQVDGa1URpRmUlEA&amp;aq=0&amp;sll=56.122705,-126.96312&amp;sspn=9.479552,13.996582&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;hl=en&amp;mra=ls&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;ll=51.344339,-124.804687&amp;spn=9.613732,18.676758&amp;z=5" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

    9.30AM pretty much ready. I want to reach Seattle today, it should be about 650miles.
    My original plan to stop in Vancouver changed because I want to get back to the US sooner than later.
    The road goes through few small cities south of Prince George, nothing special..
    After Clinton BC a sign says that the road to Vancouver is closed for an accident. Excellent! I’m still 300 miles from Seattle, and I can’t waste time. With me patiently are waiting also some bengalese truck drivers. they tell me that the alternative route is about 60 extra miles, I just decide to wait..
    I get off the bike and I notice a liquid dripping on the ground.. Apparently it’s a leak from the water pump! I check the coolant level and it’s lower than last time I checked it, but enough to keep going. I go slow and check water lever very often. I get to Sumas at the US border at 5PM
    It’s a weird feeling but I’m glad to be back in the States. I’m still very far from home, but here I have that comfy sense of security that makes me feel at ease. Also, my warranty would have not assisted me in Canada, so now even if the bike breaks down it’s not the end of the world..
    2 hours later I’m at my friend’s Juan Carlos’ house in Seattle

    May 3 - Day 21

    First thing this morning is to take the bike to the dealer. The water pump sealer is busted. $350 work that Yamaha covers under warranty, yeah!! Also, by YES contract if something happens to your Yamaha vehicle when you’re away from home, they cover trip expenses too! So basically I have an extra $250 to spend on food, rental car, gas, strip clubs :) They also overnight the parts to the dealer. Yamaha rocks

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    May 6 - Day 24
    Bike is ready, changed rear tire. My BT023GT has only done 6000miles, not bad but I expected more.

    May 8 - Day 26

    <iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=47.646973,-122.375519&amp;daddr=44.9558,-124.01384+to:41.763672,-124.195541&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=Ff0I1wIdobK0-A%3BFZj4rQId8LKb-CmVHrPgo43qVDGDU2xvh0c5iw%3BFVhDfQIdK-2Y-A&amp;mra=dpe&amp;mrsp=1&amp;sz=8&amp;via=1&amp;sll=45.023068,-123.030396&amp;sspn=2.939097,5.619507&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;ll=45.02695,-123.00293&amp;spn=10.870736,18.676758&amp;z=5&amp;output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&amp;source=embed&amp;saddr=47.646973,-122.375519&amp;daddr=44.9558,-124.01384+to:41.763672,-124.195541&amp;hl=en&amp;geocode=Ff0I1wIdobK0-A%3BFZj4rQId8LKb-CmVHrPgo43qVDGDU2xvh0c5iw%3BFVhDfQIdK-2Y-A&amp;mra=dpe&amp;mrsp=1&amp;sz=8&amp;via=1&amp;sll=45.023068,-123.030396&amp;sspn=2.939097,5.619507&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;t=m&amp;vpsrc=6&amp;ll=45.02695,-123.00293&amp;spn=10.870736,18.676758&amp;z=5" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>

    I leave Seattle at 9AM, headed to Crescent City where I have booked a motel. It’s about 650 miles. I decide to take the coast after Portland OR, instead of driving on the 5S until home. Oregon coast is beautiful! so green, it reminds me of the 1 hwy in cali. Wild natural scenery right on the ocean. I stop at a small restaurant and get fresh clams for lunch.
    I leave the principal road and get down to the beach to take some pictures. As I’m headed back, on a very slippery road i loose control and fall. First accident of the trip and since i got this bike. After few curse words, i lift almost 700lb of bike. Luckily* no serious damage other than few scuffs and a broken mirror. I’m ok as well. I get to 7pm to crescent city.

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    May 9 - Day 27

    http://g.co/maps/yabm9

    Today I would have done only 300 miles to SF, I would have taken the coast to visit Mendocino.
    Instead Courtney calls me to tell me that the next day is the only day off of the week she can take. I decide to head home. It’s 1030AM and home is 850 miles away. I have never done this much driving in one day. I don’t really mind skipping SF, as I’ve been many times before and every time i go there, i get a ticket of some sort.
    By keeping a 65mph average speed I should make it in 15 hours, by 1AM
    First part of the road is Redwood Forest. Huuuuge trees on the side of the street are lit by a beautiful morning light that shines through their leafs. some of them are 150ft and have been around since the middle ages!
    I reach SF at around 3PM, and I get on the 5South for the 300 miles of straight as an arrow stretch of freeway. I get to LA at9PM and to SD at 1AM
    Courtney is still up, i lay in bed with my helmet still on. it’s nice to be home.
    the odometer marks 7793

    I wanted to do this trip before my 30birthday, I’m now ready to enter my third decade proudly.
    #5
  6. Damiano

    Damiano damianomigani

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    just relocated to London UK from SouthCal
    Sorry technical difficulties, the post will be up soon!:lol3
    #6
  7. fonsecarlos

    fonsecarlos Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    75
    Fantastic pics!

    Thanks for sharing
    #7
  8. nvdesertrat

    nvdesertrat Nevada Desert Rat

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    Northern Nevada
    Is that Hwy37 Cassiar Hwy paved all the way down now I was reading some of it is Dirt? I am planing a trip up Next Summer.
    #8
  9. slugsmasher

    slugsmasher Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    188
    Location:
    Whidbey Island, WA
    Nice ride report and excellent photos. I am interested in your lessons learned cause it sounds like there were some dramatic moments.
    #9
  10. Damiano

    Damiano damianomigani

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    just relocated to London UK from SouthCal
    It's paved all the way, and in decent condition too
    #10
  11. ata

    ata expat in the jungle

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,296
    Location:
    Bilbao, close to the fu****ng Guggenheim
    whay a sort of brilliant pics

    very nice RR, dude

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    a 20% grade must be done in first gear, i suppose:lol3
    #11
  12. Damiano

    Damiano damianomigani

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    just relocated to London UK from SouthCal
    well if I had to do this trip again, I would definitely invest in better sleeping gear. the air mattress was a nightmare and the sleeping bag not warm enough.
    Also I would pay more attention while entering Canada from Hyder ;)
    I would have also liked to share the experience with someone, but no one was up to do it in early spring with me.. and for a trip of this length you better get along with your travel buddy 100%, or s/he will turn it to hell. better alone that with bad company right?
    #12
  13. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2003
    Oddometer:
    4,028
    Location:
    Just over the rear wheel
    You made the trip. Good for you. :thumb

    Had been wondering if you got to do it last spring, and how it all went. The scenery was a bit different that time of year from what you see in most ride reports of riding to Alaska, wasn't it. But you had quite the adventure, doing it the way you did.

    One minor correction: Those were caribou (first cousins to Santa's reindeer) you saw crossing the highway, like this one as you came into Tok. We don't have any deer this far north. This one was a pregnant cow (they are the only ones that don't shed their horns during the winter) headed for the spring calving grounds.

    #13
  14. Damiano

    Damiano damianomigani

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    just relocated to London UK from SouthCal
    Thanks for the correction :)
    Yes it was different from other reports I read on this website.
    The best part of going that early in the season is that I had the whole state pretty much for myself.. Many local shops told me I was the first rider of the season, only bike on the ferry.. I was also very very lucky with the weather, as it rained only couple times in the whole month!
    #14
  15. rgiroux

    rgiroux Invisible Man

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,431
    Location:
    Socal near the great 33
    Wow! I dont think I would have ever done it that early and i lived in alaska for almost 18 years!! Brave :freaky


    Great pictures, definitely a different view with everything still almost being snow covered.
    #15
  16. stickman1432

    stickman1432 Crusty Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    767
    Location:
    So.Cal.& St George UT-Baja-riding anywhere
    Nice report............sorry you got fucked at the border crossing at Haines AK to Canada. Just too much to look at and never saw that friggin Canadian Border Office on the right side of the road. Maybe next time will be better....:eek1
    #16
  17. Cal

    Cal Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    967
    Location:
    Calgary
    Sorry about the fine for crossing the border illegally! Were you looking for the border or did you think there was'nt one?
    #17
  18. TexasPrairieRider

    TexasPrairieRider Texan

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    624
    Location:
    6 hours to the border lands
    I see the UFOs are abundant. I see tringular lights all over the sky. Don't be trying to pass it off as shutter speed.Or camera jitter, we know and can see what it is :lol3

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    Thanks for the visuals, nice report.
    #18
  19. n16ht5

    n16ht5 ride the night

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,429
    Location:
    Arlington, WA
    excellent ride report. I went in June, and since then I have wanted to go earlier in the year.. now I know it can be done :clap
    #19
  20. wyotrout

    wyotrout stonefly

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Central Wyoming
    Enjoyed your ride report over a couple cups of coffee. Thank you Damiano.
    #20