Atlanta, GA to Alaska and back 2018

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by evmurdock, Jun 27, 2018.

  1. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    Soggy in Minnesota

    The morning was beautiful and clear in La Crosse, but a storm was on the way. Prepped for rain, I took out on I90. This stretch of highway is rather scenic, starting by the river, then ascending through lush greenery to the river bluffs.

    As the rain approached in the distance, I filled up with gas. A farm implement mechanic shot the breeze with me for a good bit... From his military background, his love for Minnesota, and the 200K miles he put on Kawasaki bikes, he is an interesting man. This kind of random interaction that makes me love motorcyling.

    I pressed through the rain for hours to Blue Earth. I had to get a photo with the Jolly Green Giant.

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    As I was just an hour away from a friend's childhood home, I took the detour to Le Sueur. It was great to see the house and town where my friend grew up. While we have had many conversations, it made the day special.

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    I rode through the rain for a long ride mostly on 14. It is a nice scenic route with little in the way of motels. I pushed on to make it to South Dakota at Brookings for a nice hotel room.
    #21
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  2. keithg

    keithg Been here awhile

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    I am in!
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  3. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    I continued across South Dakota on highway 14 (this is one of the Sturgis approach routes and also recommended by a South Dakota friend). After a rainy day, riding in 70 degrees and sunshine was welcome. Temperatures got much hotter by the end of the day (low 90's).
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    I spent a good amount of time in Pierre, SD's capital.
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    I enjoyed the prairie landscape, even though there were some crosswinds to contend with. Drove by the Laura Ingels Wilder homestead (Good Night Jon Boy), an interesting near ghost town at Cottonwood (population 9), and some wagonwheel tracks on the Deadwood trail.
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    I ended the day in Wall, SD. Watching the weather in the Canadian Rockies, I'm taking an extra day to explore the Badlands and Sturgis area.
    #23
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  4. HiJincs

    HiJincs Dreamer Supporter

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    Following! 2012 Glee here. Just bought it last month. Looking forward to reading about your trip!
    #24
  5. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    An excellent day exploring the Badlands, Deadwood, and the Black Hills.
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    Camped in a secluded campground in the Black Hills. A lot of friendly locals in the campground. One of the first questions each person asked me is how I found out about this campground. The locals say it is the best in the black hills - lovely evening. Fell asleep to the sound of a rainstorm on my tent. Listened to the sound of the creek all night.
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    #25
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  6. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    Woke up to a beautiful morning and took a walk up the campground canyon.
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    The ride today started with one of the most scenic rides on Alt 14 to Spearfish.
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    Heading through Bel Fourche, I headed west through a bit of Wyoming and Montana on 212. I spent some time at the Battle of Bighorn National Monument. The intro video was good. I took a few hikes and enjoyed an animated ranger doing a excellent job of making history come alive. I don't know how others feel when viewing this site, but it is certainly worth the visit.
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    I am staying the night at Botts Family Motel in a very small town of Jolliet MT. For dinner at the local bar I had the biker special; hamburger, fries and a beer for $5.00. Most of all, I enjoyed meeting the locals.
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  7. Tewster2

    Tewster2 Long timer Supporter

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    Great to see a bike headed to Alaska that's not piled high with the rider's whole house on the back :thumb
    #27
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  8. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    LOL - I am re-reading your recent RR. Appreciate your tips and advice.

    http://biker.murdockmartin.com/prepalaska/

    One of my guiding thoughts: Stuff expands to the space allowed. Take only what you need and nothing that you don't. I use my years of backpacking as guidance. After week 1 on the road, there are a few things in the kit that I will ship home before I cross into Canada.

    I finished laundry last night (quarters and REI laundry soap are essentials) - no fashion show here. Soap packs lighter than lots of clothes.
    #28
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  9. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    Watching the weather in Banff and Icefields parkway. It looks to be rainy with Friday being a beautiful day. I am taking some extra time here to pick the best weather through this part of the ride.

    I stopped at the US Forest Service office for some recommendations for dispersed camping in the Lewis & Clark National Forest. I chose forest road 267 of 89 near Showdown Ski Resort.

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    Spent the afternoon laying in the hammock, drinking a few beers, listening to the creek (sometimes with a little classical music).

    Lit a nice campfire for the evening, turning in about 10:00. I am noticing dusk coming later.
    #29
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  10. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

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    I'm totally in on this one. Crazy thing is I'm in Charlotte NC, my buddy in Columbia SC, both of us ride 1st Gen DL650s and we are doing literally this trip next summer. So we will be watching your trip super closely. When you get back, first beer's on me. :)
    #30
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  11. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    Weather is unpredictable- now showing 90% chance of rain in Banff on Friday. Saturday is now the best day, but not holding my breath.

    I'd like to spend the day in Glacier NP today. The campgrounds show mostly full (or likely to be full by the time I can get there).

    I stopped in Great Falls at a motorcycle dealer. I got a second pair of gloves in case of extended wet or cold weather. I also would like a better soft bag (like my Wolfman) to carry my Adventure Boots when I want to ride with my lighter riding shoes. I've looked in a couple different bike shops along the way, but without success.

    I shipped home the little odd and ends that I won't need for the remainder of the trip. I made reservations for the Canadian Parks - to hell with the weather forecast. I am enjoying the slower pace.

    With the first week behind me, here are a few summary thoughts and learnings

    - Even in SD & MT, when taking backroads, never pass by a gas station without fueling up. With a couple close calls, my spare tank is now filled.
    - The bike is operating flawlessly- she is treating me well, and I reciprocate with watching tire pressure, chain lube, and cleaning her regularly.
    - I've enjoyed cooking on the road (Dirty Dining Cookbook gave me some good ideas). Even more, I love the bars with bikes parked out front.
    - Water, water, water. It is important to rehydrate (I get headaches). It has been hotter riding than I expected. Many days I am riding in 80's and low 90's.
    - Even when campgrounds show they are full, stop by and ask. I've been lucky in finding spots to camp.
    - Take a few interesting dirt sideroads, just for the adventure.

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    #31
  12. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    Look forward to sharing a beer. I like another reason for a ride to NC or SC.
    #32
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  13. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

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    Btw, we were out in that neck of the woods last year. Freecampsites.net was a great resource. I preferred the free BLM sites more than the paid sites, fewer people. No facilities, except a toilet, but great sites. Near Idaho Falls is one on Henry's Lake that was spectacular.
    #33
  14. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer Supporter

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    Mind sharing the name of the CG in the Black Hills? Looks like you are having a great trip. I pack very light also. Experience helps.. Ride safe.
    #34
  15. BOOGIEMAN

    BOOGIEMAN Been here awhile

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    Going from Maine to Alaska in 2019 taking pointers from our trip.
    #35
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  16. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    Thanks for the link... A couple of other good resources I use for US camping are: https://www.fs.fed.us (US Forest Service) and https://www.blm.gov/ (Bureau of Land Management). These are particularly helpful for finding dispersed camping (no facilities, water, or toilet, Just a nice place to set up camp without camping neighbors). I like dropping by the US Forest Service Offices (they are usually easy to find by road signage). They often provide free maps and information. They even have a sticker with a motorcycle on it.

    For this Alaska Trip, I created a webpage that I access with my mobile phone. This has links for Camping & Lodging, Railroads & Ferries, Border Crossing, & Road Conditions/Weather. http://biker.murdockmartin.com/alaska/
    #36
  17. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    Got a little rain last night... Just a little, nothing annoying. And I forgot to mention, I saw a momma bear and a cub yesterday.

    Brewed coffee and made oatmeal for breakfast. The coffee press makes much better coffee than the stuff in the coffee shop. While enjoying breakfast, a fox comes running by my camp. Saw another bear off the side of the road just outside of Glacier NP.
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    I crossed the border at Chief Mountain (between Glacier and Waterton International Peace Park). US side, the road is 17 and turns off just past Babb. The road changes on the Canadian side to 6. The crossing was extremely easy and there were few other vehicles sharing the road. The temperatures are dropping and it is the first time I have ridden with the vents on my jacket closed. While the sky is overcast, it was magical riding into the clouds. I think I am getting some good GoPro footage, but not spending the time to futz with it on the road. Oh, and another amazing bear siting just on the side of the road. Real close....
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    Left at Pincher Station to highway 3 is a much more traveled road. Crowsnest Pass is amazing. Huge rocks... beautiful vistas.. even if cloudy.
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    Stopped for lunch in a scenic town named Fernie. It seems wrong to put up street signs and street lamps to clutter the view of the mountains. I had a nice lady join me for lunch and we chatted a long time. She has given me a number of pointers for the next sections of the trip. I am looking forward to visiting Whiteswan Lake tomorrow.
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    #37
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  18. srelegante

    srelegante srelegante

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    Subscribed.

    Love the Atlanta United sticker.

    Safe travels! :freaky

    SE
    #38
  19. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    #ATLUTD is my club! Did you notice my "five stripes" paint job (sort of). Not to spoil the surprise, but I am carrying an ATLUTD sign for the Watson Lake Signpost Forest.
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    #39
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  20. evmurdock

    evmurdock Adventurer

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    I've been off the grid the last few days. So a few posts to catch up.

    This post can be titled "all for a little pebble" or "Cranbrook Reprise". I left Cranbrook for a short ride to some hot springs off Whiteswan Lake Forest Road.

    The road is an active logging road and also has a good share of people headed out for camping. The road is loose gravel winding through the forest, and at times has a steep dropoff to a canyon cut by the river below.

    My bike handles the gravel well, especially after turning the ABS off. I pass a few slow moving cars and a pair of Harleys. The Harleys are riding 2 up and seem very unsure on the gravel. They are moving very slowly and I predicted they would change their minds and turn around - especially after the first few logging trucks came barreling past, filling the air with dust.

    After a few tight turns high on the edge of the mountain, I arrived at the parking lot for Lussier Hot Springs. Even though I arrived early, the parking lot had quite a number of trucks and cars.
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    After following a well maintained trail to the bottom of the canyon, I arrived at a number of hot spring pools by the side of the river. Based on how much of the river water is mixed with the hot spring, I tried out a couple different pools - each with different temperatures.

    When the crowd got too busy, I decided to head on to Radium Hotsprings where I had reserved a campsite at Red Streak Campground. When starting the motorcycle, the F1 engine indicator stayed lit and the odometer flashed between F1 and the odometer reading.

    I had no cell signal for more detailed diagnostics research, but did a good check of fluids, electrical charge, temperature readings etc. The bike seemed to run fine, so I proceeded back down the mountain to where I had phone signal. I would not be able to diagnose the problem without the service tech computer. Back to Cranbrook I went to one of the few Suzuki dealers nearby.

    The culprit was a small pebble which had found it's way to the mechanism controlling the exhaust butterfly valve. This was easily fixed when you know where to look.

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    I was able to hightail it back to Radium Springs for the campsite reservation- having plenty of time for enjoying the vistas and meeting a cute younger couple touring Canada in an old van.
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    #40
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