Relocation - Alaska to Colorado to Washington - 2020

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by KeetAK, Apr 2, 2021.

  1. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    For whatever reason, it didn't cross my mind to type up this trip. I started thinking about it again since I'm going to head down to Colorado again, in May (18 or so days).

    The day after I got to my final destination (Bellingham, WA), I immediately went on a weekend ride in Port Angeles where I lost my phone. I'd also apparently turned off cloud backup some three years ago, so all the photos from the trip were gone.

    Thankfully, I had been recording here and there with gopros, so I got still images from the video, and my daughter had a few photos she sent me.

    I'm doing projects on the property where I'm living, so updates will probably be a little spread out as I get photos together and rack my brain to remember what all I/we got up to.

    Me, keetak on a 2020 KTM 790 Adventure R (only factory add-on was the cruise control, otherwise stock from the dealer, The Motorcycle Shop)
    Daughter - Headed to college in Durango, CO in her GMC Envoy

    The trip took me through AK, the Yukon, BC, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, California and then back north.

    I left Alaska on August 1, 2020 and arrived in Bellingham, WA on September 9, 2020.

    40 total days, 7,400 miles (11,900km). Temperatures ranged from 33 degrees to 104 degrees (near Moab), with the longest day being something like 610 miles (980km).

    The reason for the relocation is simple enough. I'm divorced and aside from a cousin and friends, the only reason for me to stay in Alaska was for my daughter. Since she had graduated and was heading off to college, it was time to go somewhere the winters weren't so long, dark, cold, or white, or long, or cold. Did I mention cold and long?

    So, I sold stuff, gave stuff away, trashed more stuff, and eventually packed my entire life on the bike, and left the state I'd been born and lived in for just shy of 45 years.

    The bike during a "prep" trip, to my hometown of Valdez, AK about 2 weeks before we left the state.
  2. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    To start, the bike: 2020 KTM 790 Adventure R, purchased new from The Motorcycle Shop in Anchorage, AK

    Factory/Dealer Option - Cruise Control

    Added before the trip started:
    Motopumps - Crap Flap & GPS mount
    Nelson Riggs - Hurricane waterproof tank bag - 11L
    Adventure Spec - Upper & Lower crash bars
    Perun Moto - Bearstand, grab handle delete kit (spacers so I could remove the grab handles)
    Amazon (?) - 7 Liter molle bags
    Tusk - 37 Liter aluminum panniers, with racks
    Happy Trails - 47-liter aluminum top box

    Here's how the bike looked just before I left on the trip.

    Added during the trip:
    Rox 2" handlebar risers (Redmond, OR)
    Doubletake Adventure Mirrors (Redmond, OR)
    Garmin Zumo XT (Grand Junction, CO)

    Added shortly after the trip ended:
    Pivot Pegz
    SW-Motech Center Stand
    Comrade Arturo, doom, Critic and 4 others like this.
  3. cyclopathic

    cyclopathic Long timer

    Dec 23, 2007
    A few years back we have been to Valdez for about 20min, that ride over Thomson pass and Keystone canyon is good.
    KeetAK likes this.
  4. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    I think Keystone canyon will always be one of my favorite places, probably just because I've been through it so many times, it's like the gateway to what was home for 18 or 19 years.

    To start the trip, I did what anyone doing their first really long trip would do and packed entirely too much stuff. So much, in fact, I had to throw a couple things in my daughter's car. So she met me where I'd been staying in Wasilla, we loaded up, and were off for some last minute goodbyes to some old friends. They graciously fed us a huge breakfast and we all pretended we weren't tearing up as I rode away for what is possibly my last time in Alaska.

    For what it's worth, I'm heading back to Colorado in about a month and I doubt I'll use the top box. Aside from it being able to lock, I just won't need that much room for stuff. Live and learn, I suppose.

    That idea of "Last Time" got into my head and I found myself riding toward the border looking closely at all the scenery I was leaving behind. Landscapes I'd grown to take for granted were almost new again and I have to say, Alaska is pretty incredible.

    I had a rough idea of how we were going to get from Anchorage to Durango, CO. There were friends and family we would see along the way, so I made sure to pad the schedule (generously) for incidents, reroutes and whatever else may come up. The first obstacle being whether or not we'd even be allowed across the Canadian border, though I'm getting ahead of myself.

    I also immediately found myself bombarded by my own brain with all the questions of, what if I blow a tire? what if my daughter breaks down? what if I can't get through the border? I settled down, turned on some music (Cardo Freecom 2+ with the upgraded JBL speakers) and just found that space where nothing matters but the ride.

    Just shy of Eureka (~120 miles from Anchorage), we pulled over near Matanuska glacier to shake off the morning (and heavy breakfast) and for me to put on some rain gear since we'd driven into a light sprinkle.

    From here to just short of Tok (~220 miles), I'd be riding in rain, and cold.

    We stopped in Glenallen for a hearty meal of a protein bar, horrible coffee and some water. I wiped my visor as best I could, and swapped my wet gloves for some Maya (daughter) had warming for me on her dashboard. The use of a support vehicle was going to be very handy as a, "Well, I clearly didn't plan right for this" kind of safety net.

    Our first night on the road would be spent at the Tok River Campground, a place I can recommend based on its cleanliness and the number of camp sites right next to the river. I believe it was $10 per space.

    Camp in Tok - Kammok Mantis Hammock

    Day 1 done - Roughly 290 miles, about 220 of them in cold Alaskan rain.

    After a good night's sleep, we had 80 miles until the border, and a big question of whether or not they'd let us through.
  5. Mane

    Mane Been here awhile

    Apr 16, 2002
    Interesting angle for an Alaska story... following...

    Cool bike BTW...
  6. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

    Dec 23, 2012
    Denver, CO
    In for more
  7. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    We got a decent start and arrived at the Canadian border at 10:30 in the morning. There was a long line of cars in front of us, and after some time, a border agent walked the line and said they had a new policy for screening travelers due to a number of Americans coming across the border and ignoring quarantine rules. We had no idea what this would mean for us, so we just tucked in to wait.


    I'd heard from 3 other Alaskans who had tried to transit the country, and 2 were turned back. I had no idea what the new policy was, and I'd only heard that they were letting Alaskans come back north to "home", but nothing firm about anyone going south. I figured my daughter had a pretty good chance of being let through. She had an acceptance letter to a college and another printout that had a move-in date for on-campus housing.

    We had a backup plan in case she was let through and I was not. And that was for me to bomb it back to Anchorage and try to catch the first ferry south to Bellingham, WA, where we'd reconnect. The timing would work out roughly the same, though I'd be out about $2k (seriously). Needless to say, aside from missing out on a great ride, I was hoping to be let through to save the money.

    I got to the checkpoint just after 12:00 PM and said something about taking my daughter to school (pointing to her vehicle behind me), then staying in the lower-48 for a job. He asked if I had proof of said job and threw in the towel. I just said, "Even if I had a letter, I wouldn't believe it until I walked into the building. It's covid." I was also asked which border crossing I'd use to exit the country. I had no idea, so I just told him where I was heading and he told me the closest crossing. Finally I was waved through and told to park while the paperwork was processed. He'd kept my registration and passport. So, this was all new.

    Maya got through much more quickly than I did, and pulled in to park next to me. We decided to eat some snacks and wait, since it seemed to be taking 1-2 hours once you were through the first checkpoint.

    Finally we heard someone call our names and an agent walked over to explain what the process was. We were each given a piece of paper with a logo with a large "T" on it. We were told to display that in our windshield (my tank bag) at all times. If we were seen with Alaska plates, and without that tag, we would be arrested and fined. We also had immigration paperwork started on us AND a warrant for our arrest was typed up. We were told we had 7 days to transit the country, and had to use a specific border crossing (designated in the immigration paperwork). If we used the wrong exit, or took longer than 7 days, the warrant would be filed, and we would potentially be locked up for up to 10 years, and fined up to $100,000. We were also told we had to wear masks when out of the vehicle, had to pump our own gas, could not stay in any hotels, had to circumvent as much of any town/city we could, and could not stay in any state/federal campground. We could only stay in private campgrounds, or pullouts on the side of the road. He wished us a safe trip, and we were finally on our way, just shy of 2:00 PM.

    I set the bike settings to KM and we rolled to Burwash Landing where fuel was $1.29/L. I'd forgotten how much more expensive fuel was in Canada (the highest was $1.79/L).

    Can't remember where this was. I only remember it was a massive valley and the wind was a little nuts. At least the weather was nice most of the first day. Mid-60s and mostly sunny.

    We made it to Whitehorse and pushed on to just past Johnsons Crossing (I believe) for around 450 miles for the day.

    Somewhere near the place we camped.
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  8. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    My daughter had a GPS, but I was in the lead. She seemed to prefer me to lead, and it's not like we were going through large cities, so I didn't mine. I mean, I think there were 3 or 4 actual turns the entire way through Canada?

    The next morning started pleasantly enough, aside from almost dumping the bike while getting out of the camp spot (gotta give the kid something to laugh at, right?), I set Watson Lake on the brain and we started riding.

    Did you know bikes don't like grated bridges? Because I didn't. That got exciting for a moment.

    The Yukon had some great views and landscapes. Reminded me of home.

    The weather turned foul sometime around the second hour or so. We rolled into Watson Lake in the rain. We hit a local grocer and restocked the cooler Maya had in her rig, then made our way back to the Signpost Forest. I actually wondered how many of you had put a memento there somewhere. It was pretty great walking around and seeing all the signs from all over the world.

    Seems to have grown a lot since I'd first heard of this place. Signs, signs everywhere.

    From Watson Lake, we backtracked and took Dease Lake Highway, south. The rest of the day was just hour after hour of elevation changes, temperature changes, weather changes, and infrequent breaks to stretch our legs or enjoy the various scenery. At some point the forward progression became a search for someplace to hang the hammock. At first we were too high in elevation so there were no trees, then it was raining harder than I wanted to deal with, then it was heavy winds through a large valley (all excuses, I know). But by the time I really was ready to stop, I was cold and my brain was jammed on autopilot, so I just sort of kept riding.

    1 black fox and 18 black bears later (one I had to ride into the left shoulder to get around it), I started getting serious about finding a place to stop.

    I pulled into a random turnout, but there were no trees that would work for the hammock (at least none I could see). While trying to turn around to leave, I hit a patch of soft dirt and the bike went down. I was too tired to try to keep it up and just tumbled with it. I definitely heard laughing that time. As I recall, she even rolled down her window so I'd hear.

    I rode a couple more miles before I found a turnout that had a tree right on the edge. I tied off to that and her truck, and we both quickly passed out. 601 miles and roughly 14 total hours. To say we both fell asleep quickly would be an understatement.
  9. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    In spite of the long day, I was awake at 6:30 (thank you, middle-aged bladder!). I gave Maya until 7:30 before tapping on her window. We left again around 8:00 and both agreed we shouldn't put in another long day.

    So we set out on what would become another long day.

    I don't know how the roads used to be, but now they're pleasant and manageable by just about anything. The only thing I noticed was, after a certain point (heading south), 93 octane fuel was available. In AK, and much of the Yukon, it only gets up to 91. I can't imagine that's a deal breaker for anyone on here, just something I noticed.

    Northern BC really reminded me of the landscape back home. The road surface did too.


    We rolled into Smithers, BC, and stopped by Eyecandy Custom Cycles. The owner, Sam is on the forum and offered his property as tent space for ADV riders. That was the plan, though the plan had us arriving on the evening of our 5th day through Canada. Our "issue" was we'd actually arrived at around noon on the 3rd day. The paranoia of the "what if one of us breaks down" combined with the 7-day deadline pushed us to decide to keep moving on.

    We did stop and meet Sam, though, and explained the change of plans. Really nice guy and worth a stop/visit if you're anywhere near the area.

    Shortly before we stopped for the night.

    We stopped for fuel in Prince George, and finally called it a night in another random road pullout, this time at a more reasonable 9:30 PM. Even spending 2 fewer hours on the road, we still managed another 600-ish miles. We found another lone tree so I could tie off to it and her car, then we made a quick meal and sat back in the pitch black to do some stargazing since it was a clear night.

    We had a slower morning and didn't get on the road until 9:00 AM, though according to Maya's GPS, we only had about 320 miles to go, which meant just 300 miles to the border.

    I can say I was not prepared for the terrain to start looking like the southwest. I sure as hell wasn't mentally prepared for Canada to hit 87-89 degrees.

    Look, two trains!

    The entire ride through was decent on a bike. Some long curvy roads broken up by some great windy roads, especially ones like these where the road hugs the mountain side. Add great changes to scenery, a tunnel or five and it really was a great ride through Canada.


    Crossing back into the US had an extra step, now. We had to first stop at the Canadian crossing (which was odd since there was no designated parking since this was in NO WAY normal). We had to bring in the immigration form and the transit tag for them to check we were within the 7 days and using the correct crossing. They cancelled the immigration paperwork, trashed the warrant for our arrest, and then walked us back out of the building to our vehicles (to make sure we left the country, I'm assuming).

    The US stop...I'm not sure if I just got a guy having a bad day, but he was kind of a dick. Giving me the full court press about entering the United States like I wasn't a resident of said country, even worse than the Canadian guard on the other end that had no obligation to let me in. Where was I going? Why? How long would I be there? Like, dude, I don't ask you about your family vacations to Florida as a fellow citizen, do I? Chill the hell out and let me roll on.

    Maybe they're always like that, but it was really strange, to me.

    Regardless, Maya was waved through and we traveled the last 20 miles or so to our first destination, family in Bellingham. What was originally planned to take 7 or 8 days took just 4 days, so we enjoyed a few extra days in the area, relaxing and visiting with family we hadn't seen in awhile.
  10. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

    Dec 23, 2012
    Denver, CO
    I wish my middle aged bladder let me sleep until 6:30! I'm up at more like 4, happily I can usually fall back asleep
  11. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    I seem to go through fits. Some nights are better than others, but it's definitely hit and miss on the trail. Those really long days definitely helped.

    Also, the first part of this trip is largely, "Here are the roads I took to get from here to there." since I had my daughter with me in her car. I couldn't exactly go hit Black Bear Pass or something hairy with her in tow. And to be frank, I was enjoying spending time with her.

    Once we left Bellingham, the next night was spent with an aunt and uncle just outside of Portland, then a few days with more family in Redmond, OR. Then it was off to see friends in Utah. We cut east (Burns, OR then Ontario, then on to Boise). We'd intended to make the run on through to Twin Falls, but hit Boise and were just sort of done for the day. I blame the mid 90s temperatures, something else I was wholly unprepared for. Thankfully Maya had a cooler in her rig, so we could stop every hour or so and I'd soak a Buff and my gloves before we'd keep riding.

    Between Salem and Sisters, OR

    Here's where y'all can give me a rash of shit about the gear I don't wear. I'm a big guy (fatass) so heavy/bulky gear drives me absolutely batty. I've tried 3 different jackets and haven't found one I liked enough to keep. In fact, the one jacket I brought, I left in Bellingham. So I rode with nothing but a helmet and motocross gloves. Even my shoes were just Gore-Tex hiking shoes. I'm still trying to find something I can live with, and yes, I fully understand the consequences of not wearing the proper gear. Nor am I naive enough to think, "it'll never happen to me." I'm leaning toward an armored shirt and a single-layer, lightweight jacket with decent venting. Something like Mosko Moto Basilisk.

    Somewhere in eastern Oregon.

    Eastern Oregon is mostly flat, if you're curious.

    Short pass just before riding down into Boise.
    doom likes this.
  12. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    We rolled out of Boise around 10AM. No need for an early start since our destination was Ogden, UT, where we'd be staying with friends who'd moved to Utah from Alaska. This would also be the fastest portion of the trip, at least where the speed limit is concerned.

    And I can see why the speed limit is so high. I mean...what the hell is there to drive slow to see? "Boring" didn't quite cover it. We both had to take frequent breaks to stay awake. It would be one of the few times the comfortable, air conditioned driver wasn't complaining about stopping every 2 hours or so.

    The time in the Salt Lake area was nice. Stayed with old friends, met up with another old friend from the home town (small world, right?). Salt Lake is a cool area. I hadn't been there before, but liked it.
  13. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    For whatever reason, those few cells that randomly bump into each other and like to call themselves my brain like to selectively choose how often, and how well, they work.

    On the day we were leaving Salt Lake, Maya wanted to make one more stop, and I decided I should get some new tires since the stock Karoo 3s were looking a little smooth and I didn't know what would be available in Durango. But I'm also a genius that tried to go shopping on a Sunday morning in Salt Lake, so only a couple shops were open. I ended up settling on a set of Shinko E804/E805. I'd run Shinko on my DR (705s since it was mostly a commuter), so I was familiar enough with the brand. I didn't expect them to last very long and boy was I right. On a whim, while at the bike shop, I grabbed a Fox cooling vest.

    As we left, we looked at the two routes east we could take. We could either take a more northern route that was supposed to be in the mid-upper 90s. Or we could go south, shave 2 hours off the ride, but be in the low 100s. I figured, if I'm going to be miserable, I might as well be miserable for 2 hours less, so we took the faster route down route 6 to Hwy 70. We pulled over at the Crescent Junction Rest Area just before you can turn south to Moab. The temperature was 104 and I was so, so glad I had bought the cooling vest. I was also glad Maya had a cooler. Whenever we'd stop, I'd take the vest off and soak it in the ice water in the cooler before we'd start up again. Made a world of difference.

    We rolled into Grand Junction at a decent time, so we ate a big dinner and mentally prepared for our last full day of driving together.

    Smokey evening rolling into Grand Junction. Daughter's GMC in the background.

    The following morning, I told Maya to sleep in and I rode over to the KTM dealer. I had been on the hunt for a motorcycle GPS since Maya wouldn't be available once I left her at college. I lucked out and got the last Garmin Zumo XT they had in stock, then talked to the guy working there about helmets.

    I'd been using an AFX-FX41DS helmet for a couple years, but the trip showed me just how heavy that thing is. I was over it, so it was time to replace it. I wanted to go to the other extreme for weight and was looking everywhere for a Klim Karbon, but had zero luck (started looking in Redmond, OR). The KTM dealer said he found one back in Vancouver, WA in the size I needed, but that was too long to wait. The salesman said he wore an Arai and showed me the floor model. It fit my head shape, it was light enough, and I could get one at a decent price through cycle gear, having it delivered to the store in Ogden, UT since I'd be heading back through there.

    Ok, enough wall of text. TL:DR - I bought stuff and rode in hot weather from Salt Lake to Grand Junction.

    Highway 70 was closed, which is just as well. I was getting sick of long, straight highways. So we jumped on 50/550, the Million Dollar Highway. We rolled through Ouray and the roads immediately started climbing and getting twisty. Finally I was in a place where I enjoyed the roads. Add the cooling at elevation, the sunny weather and great views, and I have to say it's a fantastic ride.


    Heading up the mountains down 550.

    Coming down/out the other side. If you're in the area, 550 is really nice. Apparently it's not too far from Black Bear Pass, if you're feeling quite a bit more adventerous.

    We rolled into Durango on August 18. 18 days total, and about 3900 miles, the first leg of my trip was complete.

    I got the tires swapped at a local KTM dealer, then spent a few days getting Maya moved in, buying a few things for her dorm room, and generally just checking the area out. I dig Durango. Really nice little town.


    All too soon, it was time to leave Maya to her adulting, and head out on my own. I was proud of the woman she'd become, so I wasn't too worried about her. We shed a few tears before I pointed the bike back toward Grand Junction so I could get back to Utah and get a new helmet.

    I will say, being on my own made the ride back more relaxed than I'd expected. Not having to time passing people to make sure there was a gap big enough for Maya to make it as well, stopping when I wanted, and so on. I love my daughter, but I was really enjoying being on my own!

    Heading up 550 back toward Ouray/Grand Junction
    Somewhere along 550

    Finally back into mountains, somewhere just SE of Salt Lake (Hwy 6, I think)
    Almost back to the city
  14. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    Back in Ogden, UT, I started looking at maps to see what route I wanted to take back to Washington. I didn't want to take the flat, boring freeways, but there weren't a lot of options considering how flat that part of the country is. So, I started with who or what I wanted to see. I have an old friend just outside of San Francisco, so I decided to start there. That meant crossing Nevada, and that meant finding a route that wasn't just freeway.

    I started with what's apparently commonly known as Nebo Loop. Just south of Salt Lake is a little town called Payson (which is also apparently really close to Rocky Mountain ATV's giant warehouse). I took a windy mountain highway to Nephi. It was definitely a good change from the big highways, and I got to see some hot rodder who had managed to spin out and peel the rubber off his wheel. It was just 44 miles long, so it's a relatively quick day ride if you're in the area and haven't done it.


    I stopped in Delta, UT for fuel and decided to swing by the Topaz War Relocation Center, or at least the monument since none of the buildings are still standing. This was a concentration camp that housed Japanese Americans during the great war. It was filled mostly with people from the San Francisco area and was open from 1942 to 1945.

    As I was leaving, I decided to try out Garmin's "Adventure Route" mapping and within 1/4 mile, I was off the tarmac and onto a single track road that was more sand than dirt.


    It was also where I had my first, and only, encounter with a livestock fence. It only took a moment to drop this fence, ride through, and put it back up.


    After getting far too overconfident on dirt/sand with an overloaded bike, I had a tank slapper in 4th gear. Through nothing but pure luck, I managed to keep it upright, but kept a much more sedate pace for the remainder of this dirt section.

    After a dozen or so miles, it was back on the highway, and I was headed to the Great Basin National Park.

    Holy crap is Nevada flat.
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  15. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    It's a nice day out, but I'm avoiding working on taking the exhaust off a truck, so that means more posts at once.

    Great Basin is kind of a cool, odd feature. In the middle of the flatness that is western Nevada, there's just sort of this small group of mountains that climb to about 11,500 vertical feet (at least the road's that high. The peaks are even higher). It was on this road, thinking I'd find a camping spot at one of the higher elevation campgrounds that I'd forgotten completely that reserved camp spaces, during covid, were going to be impossible to come by.

    Great Basin Nat'l Park off in the distance.

    Headed up to Wheeler Peak trailhead/parking lot.

    Wheeler Peak trailhead. About 9,000 vertical feet (2740M).

    Since there were no campsites available, I decided to just ride to the next town and find someplace to crash there. That next town turned out to be Ely, NV.

    The next morning, I resigned myself to riding Highway 50, "The Loneliest Highway in America".

    I know on any ride, there will ALWAYS be "get there" miles. What I didn't expect were those miles to be so mind-numbingly straight and flat (and hot). I think there was a 26-mile long straight stretch. If I never ride this highway again, I'll consider this a life well lived.

    Look at this!
    Time lost all meaning.

    Just as I finally got a break and entered the hills just east of Austin, NV, all traffic came to a halt. The line was LONG. It took about 40 minutes for a sherrif's car to drive down the line and tell us it would potentially be hours due to a fatal car accident just around the corner. This meant waiting, or finding another route. Figuring I'd rather be moving than sitting there stewing in the sun, I turned around and went south on 376 toward Tenopah, NV.

    Heading south meant more flat highway, but at least there was a gold mine?

    The fuel light came on about 25 miles north of Tenopah, so it appeared it was time for me to find out what "reserve" meant on the KTM. I made it to a gas station without issue, though I'm still curious what "reserve" really means on this bike. My only regret for this entire trip was not staying at the Clown Motel. It looked absolutely creepy from every angle except the only one I managed to save from the gopro video.


    I left Tenopah with the GPS set to "Carson City", but remembered I had no schedule, so I ended that route and selected an adventure route. I was almost immediately put back on another single track dirt road. I was starting to like this thing.

    Fun, until it got really soft. But thankfully that was just in a few spots.

    Back on Hwy 6 heading west, I rode through the only rain storm I encountered in the lower 48. I was enjoying the break from the low 90s temperatures until I remembered I was one of the tallest things in the immediate vicinity.

    Lots of lightning strikes, but thankfully off in the hills.

    Eventually the terrain started getting more hilly and interesting.
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  16. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    As I got closer to the California border, it got just downright beautiful out.


    I entered California and was waved through a spray station, that I assume is meant to keep invasive species out of the agricultural areas. I turned and started heading toward Bridgeport, CA, getting closer and closer to the forests and mountains.

    I rolled into Bridgeport with 450 miles on the odometer. After rolling around town and seeing it was purely a tourist place, full of RV parks and $300 hotel rooms, I decided to just keep going further into California. I kept heading north to Fales Hot Springs before turning west onto 108. I was finally on a mountain pass with plenty of tight turns.

    I'm not saying the probably overloaded bike made me swing wide a few times before I found my groove, but I'm not, not saying it too.

    I wasn't the only one so that makes it ok?

    This is what I'd been waiting & hoping for. So much fun. And I had no idea what else was in store for me in CA.

    I was chasing the setting sun when I was rolling into Sonora, CA. I was doing fine riding, but the higher brain functions were all but turned off at this point. I just wanted to find a hotel so I could crash, but apparently there had been around 1,000 lightning strikes in a 24-hour period so half the state was on fire (or something). What that meant was the surrounding areas had been evacuated, and there was no room at the inn. So, I had no choice but to keep moving until I found someplace. I entered Modesto on the GPS and crossed my fingers that there would be someplace with an available room.

    This was also when I would learn that most towns in the lower 48 don't bother to light their roads. Street lights are everywhere in Alaska, especially near populated areas. I suppose I should have expected something like that, but it was still a surprise.

    I finally found a hotel with space, and pulled in. 625 miles and a 14-ish hour day. At some point I have to learn that it would be ok to just stop while it's still light out, right?
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  17. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    I finally remembered GPS routes are a thing, so I figured I'd at least show the general routes I took. Ignore the routes that show being on a bike. I'm guessing those roads are closed, still, so google doesn't like to show car routes.

    Map1.jpg The first 5 days. Wasilla, AK to Bellingham, WA.

    I'm not sure how many days this was. I think we spent 4 nights in Bellingham, then 1 night in Hillsboro (family), then 3 nights in Redmond before continuing to Boise.

    We spent 2 or 3 nights in Ogden, and just 1 night in Grand Junction. I then spent the week in Durango (5 nights, I think).

    The route back to Ogden, stayed for 2 nights, then rode to Ely, where I stayed 1 night.

    This was 1 day, though the motorcycle odometer said 625 miles. I think any of those roads through the national parks or national forests would be good riding. The one I took definitely was!
    msahern5, Cal, Oldmanx and 3 others like this.
  18. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

    Sep 4, 2011
    sunny san diego
    Enjoying this, Thank You!!
    KeetAK likes this.
  19. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    The next day I'd planned on heading to a friend's house just east of San Francisco. I had some time to kill since he was still working, so I rode to a KTM dealer in Sacramento. There, I saw the Rally version of my bike and I have to admit, it looked really good. It belonged to the sales manager, I think.

    I spent a few days with my buddy and his family, really enjoying my time in California. Aside from the smoke, that is. They kept a close eye on the air quality index and spent more time in than out. Seemed a shame, but who am I to argue. Besides, I'd have smoke aplenty to breathe shortly.

    All too quickly it was time to move on (not really, I had no schedule, but I felt the need to keep moving). I had posted on the ADVR board for some ideas for motorcycle roads in northern California and Hwy 1 was on the list. I didn't want to take anymore freeways and some time spent with sea air seemed agreeable. I was also contacted by a local who was up for a ride along, so I went west to meet up.

    I didn't miss traffic, and aside from a couple bits in Salt Lake, hadn't encountered much.

    I dig tunnels

    Tolls! I'm still waiting for them to mail my fee (allegedly).

    Richmond San Rafael Bridge. 5.5 miles long and peaks at 185 feet above the water.

    I met up with the inmate in Mill Valley and off we went for Hwy 1. We rode through Stinson Beach and on to Pt. Reyes Station where we stopped for a really good lunch at Side Street Kitchen. If they're still around, they make a great BLT with pork belly instead of bacon. Worth the stop.

    Some areas were clear-ish. It was cloudy most of the morning.

    Plenty of areas were blanketed in fog.

    We rode together for another 70 miles or so before normal life called to my guide. He turned back south and I continued north.

    I'm not used to being led to the front during road construction. I was stopped at road work in Alaska, Canada (BC) and Oregon. CA was the only one where I was told to fall in behind the pilot car. Not that I really minded, but it was kind of nice to be able to speed away once I was released.

    I continued on to Fort Bragg, the entire way I was reminded how my poor planning meant there were no campsites available anywhere along the coast. I mean, in retrospect it seems incredibly obvious, but apparently brain no work good when I'm left to fend for myself.

    At Fort Bragg I gave up on finding anywhere to stay along the coast and turned inland. I also got really, really cold. The sun fell and the fog rolled in as I made my way toward Leggett. I couldn't see anything, either. The one detail about the helmet I bought was apparently how easily it fogs. How does it have that many vents and still fog so easily? Regardless, I was absolutely convinced I'd tag a deer now that it was dark, there are no lights on the road, the fog rolled in and collected on my visor. I was stuck riding 30-40 miles an hour since my vision was so limited, but eventually I crossed over the hills from the coast and the fog disappeared.

    I once again rolled into a place to crash far too late after far too long of a day. I mean, at some point I HAD to figure out how to slow down and enjoy it, right?
    Oldmanx likes this.
  20. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    First stop the following day was Avenue of the Giants. I'd been looking forward to the redwoods since California became an option. I rode the avenue north and decided to turn back to eat breakfast at a cafe I'd seen in Miranda, CA. Good breakfast burritos at Miranda Cafe, if you're in the area. I saw a number of bikes while eating, so it's clearly a popular area for riding. Of course, it's CA, so I expect a lot of the state is popular for bikes.

    Kind of cool how some of them were right up against the road.

    Probably no surprise, but the scale of them is incredible.

    I was there and wasn't going to ride through a tree? I forget which one this was, but it was pretty cool. I'm heading back in May and the daughter and I are planning on hitting a different tree so she can (hopefully) drive through one also.

    Next stop was a small town called Ferndale, by way of another suggested ride I was given called "Mattole Loop". Not super long, but would be a great day ride, or a good distraction if you're passing through.

    It's been patched and repatched, if you're planning on checking it out. Should be fine for about any bike, though.

    Even with some gravel sections and road construction here and there. Pretty mild.


    Odd road features here and there, like nothing I'd encountered so far. And it's windy. Still quite a bit of fun.

    I pulled over and walked the beach for a little while. Good excuse to get off the bike for a bit, and it was just a nice day out I figured it was time to slow down and enjoy it.

    The road started back inland, and climbing a bit in elevation, so it gold colder. When I pulled over to ditch the cooling vest, I was passed by a KTM 690 Enduro, and another KTM 790 Adventure R. I got my gear stowed and continued on. After about 10 minutes, I saw the same two KTMs, so I decided to pull over for a chat. Turned out to be a fantastic idea. They were part of a group of 8 that had gone out for a day ride, and one of them, Gary (I think? I hate how terrible I am with names) and his friend were waiting for the rest of their group. One more on a Moto Guzzi showed up and we sat around talking about my trip from AK and their rides.

    I asked for some more ideas for roads I should hit, and the three off them rattled off some options until Gary suggested I follow him to his place where he'd mark up a map for me. I jumped at the opportunity, so once the rest of the group showed up, we all rolled out and I slid in behind my new guide.

    Riding through Ferndale.

    The other riders peeled off here and there, and I followed Gary to his place somewhere outside Blue Lake. We rocked up to a garage that clearly indicated he'd been a long-time rider. One map turned into two as he included places for Oregon he'd been, and even offered suggestions of places to eat. On top of that, his wife fed me a fantastic french dip sandwich and I got to pet his dog. They even offered a place to crash, but the itch to see more road got the best of me (seriously got to learn how to slow down!).

    I made it another hour or so before I crashed for the night.
    doom, msahern5, timja1 and 3 others like this.