Meandering north to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jwc, May 24, 2019.

  1. sonnystile

    sonnystile Been here awhile

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    H58 from Grand Marais to Munising is not to be missed!
    #21
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  2. twowings

    twowings Comfortably Numb... Supporter

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    Gunflint Trail...be there!!!!
    #22
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  3. GISdood

    GISdood Been here awhile

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    I guess I'm listening to Gordon Lightfoot this morning!
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  4. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    Riding is a form of relaxation for me and we left Newberry on a brisk 41 deg morning I thought about the 94 deg heat we were missing back home in Louisiana and that made my smile just a little bit bigger. We rode into Grand Marais and stopped at a local farmers market by the bay. As the others walked around I discovered the ‘beak’ on the front of my Tiger was extremely loose. It had broken at the plastic cross support under the headlight as it had doubtless waved in the wind as I rode. The apparent cause of my bikes beak new found freedom was due to missing a couple of support bolts. A temporary repair of gorilla tape would suffice till something a bit more permanent could be applied.


    Mothers Arms Guide service then took us down what some say is the finest motorcycle road in Michigan, County road H58. There may be better but it had everything I could want. Scenic views, overlooks to stop at, and twisty smooth pavement. Add to that very light traffic and all is well taking us through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore which is made of multicolored sandstone cliffs which at places are 200 ft high

    Our next stop was the Log slide overlook in Grand Sable Dunes where loggers would slide their timber down to ships waiting in Lake Superior below. All that was left of their endeavor was a steep sandy embankment and a magnificent view of the lake. In the parking lot we paused to visit with some cyclists who were also enjoying H58. They said they were riding a light 40 miler.

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    Our next overlook on Lake Superior was ‘12 mile beach’. It was a beach made of smoothed multicolored rocks from the size of eggs to small pebbles. An interpretive sign at the entrance stated the rocks were from the Canadian Shield bedrock broken by glacier and smoothed by the water, purportedly the oldest rocks above the surface.


    Socializing with other riders enjoying the day Muldoons Pasties in Munising was highly recommend. As we were staying in Munising anyway we thought we’d try it out before backtracking to Miners Castle. So at Mudoons Pasties I was educated on Pasties and what Yoopers were. Pasties ( probably not what you’re thinking ) are meat pies, and a yooper is someone who lives in the Michigan Upper Peninsula.... Of course. The Pasties with gravy were good but if you’re ever in Natchitoches Louisiana be sure to get a meat pie there. Mmmmmm good, by the way, we just call ‘em meat pies.


    Backtracking a few miles to Miners Castle we walked out on the boardwalk to see the sandstone pillar which was the namesake of the overlook and again offering a splendid view of Lake Superior.
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    Back at the hotel in Munising I removed my Tiger’s neglected beak. Drilling a hole on either side of the cracks with my pocket knife then tying the pieces together with some stainless wire I then coated the wire splint with JB Weld to solidify it. Remounting the beak you cant even see the repair. Many miles of rough road ahead will test it out.

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    #24
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  5. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    Thanks for the recommendation but Gun flint trail will have to be on the list for next time as we are now in North Dakota.
    #25
  6. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    Thanks,
    We rode it and you are right.
    #26
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  7. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    6/2/2019


    Breaking up the fellowship after breakfast we said goodbye to mother Doug and his brother Dave we thanked them for their efforts in showing us some of the high points in the Upper Peninsula. Ray and Julie will return back to Indiana on their k1600. Due to all the farewells and lets do it agains it was after 9:30 before we rolled out. They were a great group of folks to ride with. Here we are geared up and ready to go.
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    It’s 460 miles from Munising Mi to Itasca State Park. A pleasant ride down 28 / US41 with occasional views of Lake Superior to Duluth then on US 2, turning on 200 to the State Park. It was mostly 2 lane and toward the end seemed remote with few services We had to watch our speed ( as always....) as the local law enforcement were out in force.


    Arriving at Pine Ridge Campground in Lake Itasca State Park I lost no time in setting up camp and lighting a fire. It’s a beautiful state park that we could easily spend a week exploring but we have business at the Mississippi Headwaters tomorrow then off west and toward Alaska.
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    #27
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  8. ThirtyOne

    ThirtyOne I got my wings back. Supporter

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    Nice RR. Will be following along.
    #28
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  9. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    Breaking camp we made the short ride to the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwater Center that is in Itasca State Park. The center has an interesting group of informative displays related to the history and methodology in finding the true headwaters of the Mississippi River as well as a gift shop and cafe. We perused the displays then took the short walk to the headwaters. The level was up in Lake Itasca so the flow in the small stream that comprised the Mighty Mississippi was brisk. As I walked across the rocks bordering the rivers entrance I reflected on the stark comparison of its appearance at its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico, a vast area of grass lakes, abundant wildlife, and a current that is so swift that a motorboat is required to navigate its channels. The Mississippi was a large part of my father-in-law’s life. From his childhood to as long as he was physically able he camped, hunted and fished on its banks and in its waters and bar pits. He gauged the strength of the US economy from the number of barges he saw carrying their cargo downstream. He had always wanted to see the headwaters but had never made the time till time took the opportunity away. I christened a small stick the Albert L Smith and threw it into the small current and we imagined it floating down the Mighty Mississippi to its terminus in the Gulf. Ted said ‘this ones for you dad’ and we turned and walked back to our bikes.

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    Mississippi Headwaters

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    Mary Gibbs Headwater Center

    Deciding to make Glacier State Park our entrance into Canada we started our ride across The US into North Dakota. We had passed through America’s Heartland and as we rode into North Dakota the miles and miles of fields dedicated to growing the food to feed our nation and world continued. It’s one thing to read about our nations heartland being our breadbasket but quite another to experience its vastness for yourself. The wind crossing the fields buffeted our bikes causing us to lean into the wind to keep upright.

    For me one of the highlights in mototravel is many times when we stop for food or fuel how people are attracted to our loaded bikes ‘from so far away’ and strike up conversations. One of these meetings was while fueling up in Michigan, North Dakota where I met Hug. A 76yo retired farmer who is a Vietnam veteran and for the past 15 years the organizer and promoter of their local Veterans motorcycle run. Hug currently owns a Harley and suspects he might have to stop riding when he’s 80. It was a pleasure to meet you Hug...

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    We stopped for the day in Minot, ND. If your looking for an inexpensive place to stay with kitchenette and free washers and dryers I can recommend The Noble Inn in Minot. The hotel was built for extended stay guests when fracking was all the rage in the area and the rooms reflect that. The gal at the hotel reception desk said that now that it’s warming up people are coming in to work on building wind turbines and a new dam.
    #29
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  10. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    6/4/2019


    In Minot we decided to head straight for Glacier National Park instead of looping down through South Dakota and the Badlands National Park. Ronnie and Karen plan to come back when they have more time and Ted and I will swing through on our way back and see the National Parks there.

    If the wind was tough yesterday it was really brutal today happily assisting us in not squaring off our tires and apply even wear to the tread corners. We would alternate between a severe lean into the wind and springing back upright when the wind would let up or when we would pass a truck. When a bend in the road would turn south we would enjoy a brief respite as the wind would be at our backs. It was odd during these times to see flags standing out stiffly straining against their cords. The grass bordering the roadway undulated under the wind blowing it down against the earth appearing more like waves on the surface of a lake. The roar of the wind against our helmets would all but disappear.

    Ted’s CB500X really struggled against the wind whenever the grade in the road would steepen. So we took advantage of our truck escort by unloading all the CBX’s luggage into the truck which enabled our trusty CBX to maintain the 70 mph speed limit regardless of the steepness of the road or headwind. My Tiger just purred right along without complaint so we left all the luggage in place.

    At midday we stopped for fuel and a brief picnic lunch at a roadside rest area. The picnic tables had been constructed with wind barriers, obviously for those that live and frequent this area this was just another day.

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    As we entered Montana the terrain changed from plowed fields to rolling pasture land sprinkled with grazing cattle and the occasional prong horn antelope. With the hills the force of the wind dissipated and we rode on toward Shelby, MT where we would be spending the night. Tomorrow it will be a short easy ride to Glacier National Park.
    #30
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  11. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    6/5/2019


    As we approached Glacier we watched hazy distant snow capped mountains form into majestic peaks. Riding into the mountains we kept a leisurely pace enjoying the twisty road following the Flathead river.

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    Upon arrival we lost no time getting into the park. We decided to ride as much as we could of The Road to The Sun as the construction of road improvements has closed the road to through traffic. It would seem many other Park visitors had the same idea so traffic was heavy and The Trail of the Cedars was as far as we could go. New boardwalk has been installed since we were last here in 2017. An easy walk of less than a mile, It offered views of Avalanche Creek the surrounding mountains, wildlife, through an old growth forest of cedar, cottonwood and hemlock trees.

    Leaving the park traffic was lighter so we stopped at overlooks along the way taking in the views while the sun was shining. Rain is forecast for the next three days.
    #31
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  12. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    6/6/2019


    A rock slide had closed Hwy 49 to through traffic so we took the longer route through Browning to Many Glaciers as the farthest point of the day. The storm front that we had escaped in West Glacier hung like an ominous mantle on the crown and shoulders of the mountains surrounding Swiftcurrent Lake. The patches of light that occasionally shone through contrasted with dark clouds giving the entire scene a rather otherworldly effect.


    Continuing past the Many Glacier Lodge where the more affluent visitors stayed we continued to the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins. A informative panel relayed the interesting history of the parks lodgings. Early in the parks existence the only access to the park was by rail which apparently only the affluent could afford. With the advent of the affordable family car more and more middle class were visiting the National Parks and more basic accommodations were constructed for them

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    Retracing our path back west we arrived at Two Medicine again via Browning. The wind was chasing us but were staying ahead of the rain. Again the storm front partially obscured the view. The angry look of the mountains reminded me that once out of my small technology filled comfort zone the mountains could be a very forbidding place and their strength was not to be trifled with lightly

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    Leaving Two Medicine and arriving back in West Glacier we were greeted by the rain that had been waiting for us since this morning.
    #32
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  13. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    It was a light rain on a 45 deg morning as we loaded the bikes with our luggage and left. As we neared the 1/2 way point around the lower border of the National Park sleet started to mix with the rain bouncing off my windscreen in a staccato rhythm.

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    Nearing East Glacier Village the rain ceased and blue skies emerged as we continued on toward Chief Mountain a small port of entry into Canada. From there it was a short ride to Waterton Lake Village in the Waterton Lake National Park.

    The village is an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, residents, visitors and deer that wander the streets unconcerned with human activity. Boats both private and those for hire line up in the small marina on the north side of town while the Prince of Wales Hotel overlooks the lake from a hilltop vantage point.

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    We relaxed and wandered the streets taking advantage of the many benches that in part make the village so pedestrian friendly. Topping off our bikes tanks from the only place in town selling gas we would be ready to ride on to Canmore tomorrow morning.
    #33
  14. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    6/8/2019


    We woke up this morning to 34 deg temps and a light snow blanket covering the bikes. It was going to be a brisk ride to Canmore, AB. While some folks from northern climes may scoff at our reaction to a little snow, for this South Louisiana native the idea of riding our loaded motorbikes on potentially icy roads is an adventure all on it’s own.


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    Our plan had been to ride the Cowboy Trail ( Hwy 22 ) to Longview then catch hwy 40 for a scenic mountain ride to the Transcanadian ( Hwy 1 ) into Canmore. We delayed leaving Waterton Lakes Village till 9 to let it warm up a little and reduce the chance of ice on the roads and stay ahead of the rain that was forecasted for Waterton that morning. A local informed us that these temperatures were very unusual for this time of year, so we just made the best of it by adding another base layer and switching on our heated

    Not really sure just how many layers Ted has managed to put on. Can you tell she doesn’t like to be cold.

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    The Cowboy Trail did not disappoint, it’s a two lane paved road that winds through ranches and grazing livestock in a grassy plain bordered by the snow dusted Rocky Mountains on the horizon. Traffic was light and it was definitely worth the extra time to ride.

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    When we stopped in Longview for fuel and a visit to the Longview Jerky store we stocked up on beef jerky whose recipe has been passed down for three generations. We also found out that Hwy 40 was closed to through traffic due to snow and icy conditions. Disappointing to miss such a scenic ride through the mountains but not unexpected.

    As flatlanders any ride with mountains in view is a good ride. So we enjoyed the views as we continued up Hwy 22 to the Transcanadian Hwy and into Canmore. Canmore is a resort town at the border of Banff National Park and we whiled away the rest of the day wandering the streets and people watching. Since we hoped to camp along the Alcan I made a quick stop at Canadian Tire and picked up some bear spray. I hear the grizzlies prefer their snacks with a little added spice.
    #34
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  15. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    6/9/2019


    Visited Lake Louise and Lake Moraine today. Entering Banff National Park even the views from the road are spectacular.


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    An overpass with trees and shrubbery. Went through a few of these wildlife corridors that assist migratory animals to relocate and reduce roadkill. Apparently the animals are far healthier if are allowed to maintain their migratory patterns

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    We rode the chair lift in the Lake Louise ski area to look for bears, but didn’t see any. They have a nice interpretive center set up at top of the first lift. Even without seeing any bears the view from the chair lift was enough on it’s own.

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    Man those Kodiak Bears are reaaally big. Maybe I need more bear spray. .......

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    #35
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  16. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    Lake Louise is more popular with visitors and larger but I think Lake Moraine is prettier. Of course there were crowds of people from all over the world, it makes for interesting people watching but we couldn’t even get in Lake Moraine parking lot till after 5pm.


    Lake Louise

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    Lake Moraine

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    Attached Files:

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  17. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    Pulled out of Canmore and took the Icefields Parkway to Jasper on a overcast 40 deg morning. The parkway has been the most scenic rides we have done and we’re looking forward to seeing it again and sharing it with Ronnie and Karen who are following in the truck. The Icefields Parkway is one stunning view after another as it winds it’s way through the Canadian Rockies to Jasper. It has to be experienced as pictures cannot do it justice. But here are a few that our friend Karen took from her vantage point from following in the truck. Thanks Karen.........
    #37
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  18. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    We stopped briefly at a pullout for lunch and had a tailgate picnic and continued to admire the vista that surrounded us.

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    Deciding to top off our tanks at Saskatchewan River Crossing which is the only place to get fuel on the parkway between Banff and Jasper, so naturally it is a bit pricey at $1.69 / liter.

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    We saw two bears along the way but didn’t get any photos. One a small black bear sauntered across the road, totally unconcerned with traffic or people who stopped their vehicles for a more up close and personal experience.
    #38
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  19. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    After arriving in Jasper we drove to Maligne Lake Rd look for more wildlife before it got dark. Posted signage along the road urged caution due to bear and caribou being in the area. We did see one small bear foraging in a clearing by the roadside, but obviously grubs, worms and other bear delectable delights were more important than us.
    #39
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  20. Alaskajeff

    Alaskajeff Long timer

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    Great RR! How are the Tractionators holding up for ya?
    #40
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