This trip started as an idea suggested by my wife, over dinner one evening, about two years ago. What was I going to say "No honey that is a really shitty idea" NOT. I asked my friend Tom if he was interested and of course he was. I had my wife's blessing and a riding partner who also had his wife's blessing. The rest were only minor details. Camping gear, riding gear, tires, tools, routes, etc. and over the next two years we went over every little detail. Spare parts were ordered, fuel pump, fuel bypass cable, spark plugs, valve cover gasket (it was weeping and the valves needed checking). As the details fell into place the anticipation and excitement of starting the trip grew. As a daily ritual, while getting ready for work, I would open my trip countdown app and giggle as I saw our departure day approaching. Mitas E-07 DAKAR tires were chosen for the trip. EXCELLENT CHOICE A look at the innards. In the end the valves were left unchecked after feedback from inmates on here. I just replaced the gasket and buttoned things back up. I think seeing the inside of my engine so close to departure was making Tom uneasy. Tom installing my new DID chain. Gear arrived from Mountain Equipment Coop Slipgrip mount for the iPhone while charging. I installed a dual USB plug in the dash. Also the Ram mount for the Garmin Montana. In the bottom right of the dash is my $3 volt meter from China (works great). This is on the Britannia Composites Mirage 2 fairing. Had to replace the URINE CUP as well. As a husband and father I did have feelings of guilt about taking my vacation and going on such a trip. My wife and kids would return to Newfoundland and visit family while I was on the road. After Alaska I would return home and work one week before flying to the Rock to join them. July 9, 2013 I dropped my wife and kids off at the airport. It was a very weird feeling saying goodbye to them. I experienced so many emotions, all at the same time, it is very hard to explain in words. Now I only had three days of work to complete and the trip I had been consumed with, for the past two years, would begin. At the end of June I said to my wife "I can't believe it's only two more weeks until I leave". Her reply was "Jesus Christ you have been gone for two weeks already", and in a sense she was right. My thoughts were consumed with the trip. It all felt so surreal. I didn't even own a motorcycle a few years prior, and now I am about to depart on a trip of a lifetime. It would also be the longest trip ever for me on a motorcycle. The longest trip prior to this would be a two day ride in June 2009. Back then I flew to Kelowna, BC to ride my new F650GS twin back to Fort McMurray, AB. OK that's enough background information. Lets get to the day of departure July 13, 2013. We would meet at Tom's house and depart at 6:30 AM with a carefully selected route and set stopping points for each day. Our only limitation was I had to be back for work on August 3rd. July 13, 2013 - Day 1 Queen Claire is all clean and ready to roll The morning was a little chilly but otherwise a beautiful riding day. Our heated grips were in use as we set out on the adventure. The first part of the day would have us travelling down Highway 63 in Northeastern Alberta. This highway is AKA The Highway of Death as it has claimed an unprecedented number of lives over the years. The highway is the major route to the booming oilsands around Fort McMurray. Anyone travelling this highway is unlikely to do so without passing several "OVERSIZE" loads. Also the highway is not known for it's stunning scenery so I was really looking forward to having this section behind me. This is a photo taken in the spring on a trip south to Edmonton. We would pass several loads like this today. We pass the first opportunity for fuel and planned a stop at Grasslands instead. Unfortunately, we don't quite make it to Grasslands before Tom's bike started having electrical problems. The charging system was not working and the voltage was down to 9 volts stalling his bike, a 2011 KTM690R. The bike started again and we made it a few hundred feet down the road before it stalled again. Tom suspects a burned out rectifier. Calling around to try and locate a new one proves to be unsuccessful. We would not get one for at least 7 days. At this point the disappointment and disbelieve quickly set in. It's day one and we only make it 250 KM from home. Sitting on the side of the road, so close to home, we consider our options. Heartbreak on Highway 63 OPTIONS 1) We reschedule the trip for another time. Not going to happen as my wife and kids are already in Newfoundland and impossible to reschedule vacation, at least for this summer. 2) Abandon Tom and continue on my own sticking with original route and timeframe. Not really an option as that would defiantly qualify me for ASSHOLE OF THE YEAR. 3) Return home and try and fix the KTM. 4) Return home and transfer essential items to Tom's other bike, a 1999 Suzuki SV650S. It was decided the Suzuki (the third bike) would go to Alaska. This decision would change almost everything about the trip that we so carefully planned during the last two years. This had now become a highway trip. There would be no gravel, and as such No Dempster, No Top of the World, No Dalton. There was a lesson here somewhere. Plan all you want but be mentally prepared for all your plans to fall apart. The call was made to Tom's wife to come with the truck and pick up the bike. 500 KM for day one and I get to sleep in my own bed. I can't deny being very disappointed that evening. After a long tiring day we pack and repack things to determine the best way to take as many items as possible. What we had taken so much time to plan would now be done in a few hours to ready the Suzuki for Alaska. I had taken some of Tom's gear and strapped it to my already overloaded bike. A FULLY LOADED BEEMER After returning home for the night I started to get a little uneasy about the heavy load. I called Tom to share my concerns and he suggested I come back, as he thought more could be strapped to the Suzuki. At the end of the day his load had been substantially reduced and all his items were on the Suzuki. It would be after midnight before I would call it a night. We planned to depart Fort McMurray again at 6:30 am from Tom's house.