Ride North – Two photographers ride from San Francisco to Alaska! (KLR650 & GT1000)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by caliform, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    DAY 4 - Redwood National Forest to Ashland, Oregon

    [​IMG]

    Ah, to awake after a night of gunfire. The sun rose quickly over the valley we settled into, finally revealing all those shells we missed so stupidly the night before, and we got up rather groggily. Time for some coffee!

    [​IMG]

    We had a bunch of stuff strewn around as we kind of passed out the night before so it was time for cleanup and preparing ourselves to finally leave California. Oh yeah! Stu's looking excited as ever!

    [​IMG]

    Time to pack up the bikes. I remember this feeling like such a chore -- funnily enough just days later this was such routine that it was easy as a snap. Sadly, we had a bit too much fun with my axe the night before and I'd lost my axe blade sheath, which made it a bit risky to tie down (I was afraid it'd vibrate around and start cutting up my backpack...)

    [​IMG]

    But, we finally did get it all packed and promptly, a mysterious van rolled up. We were a bit weary of strangers out here, particularly in this obvious gun range, so we were a bit reserved in approaching this new stranger. It was a nice enough fellow, I believe named Manuel (? Stu, you can back me up here, with pics too) who had been kind of living on there road recently.

    Being just as frustrated with high campground fees he went out looking for a free camping place and sure enough, like us, stumbled upon this here :D

    We shared some coffee, he shared some of his Yerba Mate with us and tips and tricks for living and traveling in South America, said our traveler-heyoo-woohoo-yahoo goodbyes and... off to the canyons we were!

    The ride from Redwood National Forest to the Oregon border was superb. Really nice riding, gorgeous weather, great sweepers. I was getting more comfortable riding the loaded up bike, too.

    [​IMG]

    Oregon!!!

    [​IMG]

    We put our little sticker on the sign, victorious in tackling our first state and rode up through the beautiful high-ish country, through Cave Junction (beautiful!) and then stopping Grants Pass for some gas. It was blisteringly hot and Grants Pass was... well, dreary after all this beautiful nature.

    [​IMG]

    We rode a little back. In fact, we merged on I-5 to meet up with Stu's lady friend in historical Ashland and spend the night, to ride up to Crater Lake right after. It was a short day, mileage wise, so around late lunchtime we arrived in Ashland. We met Stu's friend and had a drink, and when she went off to her job a little later we dove right into a hearty lunch at the local brewery (Standing Stone). Great burger!

    [​IMG]

    Stuart was permanently maimed by the brewery door and had to live with a malformed head from now on

    [​IMG]

    (thanks iPhone panorama feature)

    Our table guests were a bunch of mountain bikers we ran into in front of the brewery. They'd been on the road for a few days, and really burned quite a few calories. We talked a bit about our plans for the ride north ahead and had a good time chatting.

    We moved our bikes to a neighborhood further out of the way of the downtown area to keep our bags safe and and met up again with Stu's friend and her good girlfriend, who also lived and worked in Ashland.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We walked about town, had a bunch of drinks, saw the sights of the town and grew a great lethargic feeling thanks to the day drinking.

    So, time for food. I created a tradition of sorts here, that I would maintain during the whole ride: wing reviews! Ashland's 'The Black Sheep': 3.5/5 stars -- really quite good, a bit pricey.

    [​IMG]

    Back after dinner, retrieving some gear from the bike and moving them yet again to our place for the night -- Stu's friend's place. Free lodging yet again!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    At this point we had a great time and the booze is slightly muddying my memory. I do recall getting mighty tired so we picked up some cold brew coffee...

    [​IMG]

    ... went to some kind of pub where I drank a beer and a half and sucked at pool - fun people though!

    [​IMG]

    and we danced with the girls, one of which truly loved using my Roof moto helmet as a prop. You go girl.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Daft Punk like vibes, the beats of the music echoing into an increasingly muddy memory of the night. It was warm. We smoked a last cigarette, in a warm glow of intense living, and went back to their place where we all sort of melted down into a puddle, at an incredibly late hour.

    Or maybe I should call it early.

    [​IMG]
    #21
  2. Michel77

    Michel77 Backyard Badass

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    241
    Location:
    A boat ride away
    Subscribing. Good food, good beer, nice ladies and great photography, what's not to like :)

    Edit: bonus points for fellow Dutchie!
    #22
  3. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    DAY 4 - ASHLAND TO BEND

    [​IMG]

    Writing an update here in the lounge of Swiss Airlines as I am about to fly to France to ride around Europe for a month... life isn't bad.

    EDIT: ... and finally updating this thread a month later, as I am finished riding around Europe. In the running for award for most slowly updating ADVRider report yet? I will step it up from here on out and try to write more updates regularly...

    Anyway, the Ducati was fun in Europe!

    [​IMG]



    And so, we woke up in Ashland, minds foggy and groggy. It was around noon, and we did want to make it to Bend today. We felt exhausted beyond belief, and the day was scorching hot. A beautiful typical Ashland day for the summer.

    [​IMG]

    The last night was a bit of a blur, much like this image of it. Ahem.

    With the ladies still asleep, we left them a note and loaded up the bikes half-asleep, then proceeded to gas up a bit in town while also hunting down a coconut water. After aggressively downing a whole pack of the good hydrating stuff, we set off and punched in a route to Crater Lake.

    [​IMG]

    It was a really nice ride. The day was beautiful, and as we got off the Interstate (I-5) to smaller and smaller roads, passing through White City (which was, uh, white) towards Crater Lake, we both felt increasingly doozy. I stopped on a pretty uphill part and had to drink some water.

    [​IMG]

    The next hour and a half or so, we blinked hard and pushed ourself quite far to get to the Crater Lake Visitor Center. It was a bit dumb... I certainly wasn't holding good corner lines anymore. We were far too exhausted to be on the road.

    [​IMG]

    So, once we hit the parking lot of Crater Lake we took off a few layers (it was a hot day) and took a nap right there in the grass next to the restaurant. It was incredibly refreshing.

    [​IMG]

    Stu got a stowaway!

    We had a bit of a recharge (we failed to recharge our phones and Sena headsets the night before, because, hum) moment in the restaurant, where I pulled out my laptop and gingerly plugged in everything, turning the table into a rather science-fictiony scene. We had a quick bite, downed a bunch of water, and set off.

    [​IMG]

    Plenty of these near the rest stop and also around the rim.

    [​IMG]

    Crater Lake is gorgeous.

    [​IMG]

    We took turns trying to take photos of this incredible place. Crater Lake, at its elevation of 6,000+ feet, is a 2,000 ft deep caldera lake in a particularly volcanic part of Oregon. The lovely clear water of the lake is due to the water coming only from rainfall; no creeks or rivers feed into or out of it.

    [​IMG]

    There were buses of tourists, lots of cars, and also our very first annoying mosquitoes. We made our way around the west side of the rim, and as we crossed the last bit of the rim road I practiced my on-bike photography a bit more.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We took some more photos (hey, snow!), and then made for the straight road that would lead us towards the northward roads to Bend.

    [​IMG]

    (This is one of the first in the many-pieced series 'Stuart stands on things'.)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There wasn't a soul on these roads, so we staged a few nice shots of nature. We were in high spirits and the energy was back, so it was easy enough to take our time to get to Bend where we'd meet my friend Josh.

    [​IMG]

    The rest of the road up to Bend was fairly uneventful. A single gas stop somewhere halfway between Crater Lake and Bend showed us the typical sparse, Central Oregon town. Some locals glared blankly at our bikes, and I could swear I saw a tumbleweed blow through...

    [​IMG]



    We went by the brewery in Bend -- McMenahins, I believe -- to scarf down some much needed good road food and beers, and later on Josh was ready to meet us with his lovely family.

    Friends are the best. Thank you, Josh. We talked adventures and bikes, and the kids sure loved the latter:

    [​IMG]

    Josh proceeded to plant the seed for my raging HP2 Enduro lust (he owned the HP2 Sport when he still lived in San Francisco) which I satisfied a year later, and we crashed into a pleasant, large bed.

    The next day, we'd find out something was rather amiss...
    #23
  4. ShimrMoon

    ShimrMoon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Oddometer:
    525
    Location:
    Winston-Salem NC
    Like everyone else, patiently waiting for more of this awesome report!
    #24
  5. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    DAY 5 - BEND TO PORTLAND

    [​IMG]

    And so, we woke up refreshed and, to my knowledge, unmolested (we slept in one big bed at Josh's, and Stu has been described as frisky before -- I kid, I kid). I looked around to find my laptop to check out some photos and update our little Tumblr with some images.

    Not in my bag... hmm... OK, time to check the panniers.

    [​IMG]

    Nope, not in the panniers.

    Stu was still sound asleep, but I asked him somewhat later, and we came to the worrisome conclusion that the laptop was gone. Ooof.

    So I called the last place I had it, the restaurant at Crater Lake.

    Bingo! They had my laptop. It was left in the parking lot and found by someone, they said. Must've been some sort of completely exhausted moron that left it there on the asphalt... yup. Thanks! Since I have a rather great reluctance for backtracking, I asked them if they could potentially ship it to Portland for us? No problem, they said. (we'd later find out the mail only pick up once a week in Crater Lake. Ahem)

    Crisis avoided!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    With all that solved we had a relieved and pleasant morning with Josh's family, and it was hard to say goodbye to such excellent hosts. Thanks so much JB!

    [​IMG]

    Stuart's cousin Emily and his aunt were in town, so we met up with them for breakfast. The fantastic little spot made a mean croissant, but also confirmed the overall theory that Oregonians truly do put a bird on everything:

    [​IMG]

    Now we were on our way to Smith Rock, a beautiful park that really showcases the natural beauty of Oregon's high desert, before going right to Portland for the day. The road was short, rather blazingly hot, flat and a little dull.

    Smith Rock, not so much. Well, it was hot...

    [​IMG]

    Smith Rock State Park isn't huge, but it does look positively incredible. Vast, steep rock formations punctuated by a winding river that gives a splash of green in the yellow, dusty high desert.

    We had a fantastic hike up. The heat was intense, but after some days in the saddle it is always excellent to stretch the legs and get proper exercise in. We lugged our camera gear along too, of course; Stuart even brought his tripod.

    Here he is, in his natural habitat: standing on an object:

    [​IMG]

    And us once we made it to the top. We'd set up some gear here to take a short time-lapse as well as admire the climbers on Monkey Face, an interesting and steep rock formation in the middle of the park.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Yup, steep. On the way down, we ran into two climbers who were cleaning up and gathering their gear. We exchanged tales and we heard that one of them once had to spend a whole night up there, as it was too dark and risky to descend. Not fun, by his accounts. A cold and terrifyingly windy night on a rocky precipice. They themselves fancied doing something like we were doing someday! Nice fellows -- sadly, I don't have their photo anymore.

    And so we got back to the main path that snaked along with the river.

    [​IMG]

    The high desert is really astonishing. For one, I never imagined deserts when I heard 'Oregon'. Maybe shortsighted...

    Its vibrant colors and intense density and variety of wildlife near water is really something.

    [​IMG]

    As the sun was getting a bit lower, we packed up our stuff, zipped open our jackets and put-putted out of there slowly. We stopped by the gas on the way out -- the attendant, required to assist us in fueling up, let us fill up our own bikes (thankfully -- I don't trust others doing it, really). Onwards to Portland!

    [​IMG]

    Long, empty roads towards the mountain range separating the high desert from Portland. A great time to stretch the legs, practice taking photos on the bike, or... uh, reviewing them, apparently? C'mon Stuart, watch the road...

    [​IMG]

    All in all, despite the fantastic times at Smith Rock we did have to make it to Portland.

    At the end of the ride, as we rounded the road around Mt. Hood in thick pine forest and gorgeous turns and scenery, we met my friends Neven and James at Whiskey Soda Lounge. The weather was beautiful, the company excellent, the food just as much so. Tired, we turned in to the beds offered generously by my friend James and his wife near the center of Portland. We'll be staying here a few days waiting for my laptop to come in, as well as doing our first major update on our blog and sending out some Kickstarter rewards.

    I will be compiling our Portland days into one post, after which we'll have a short day of making it up to Seattle and Olympic National Park!
    #25
  6. ExxonValdez

    ExxonValdez Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2014
    Oddometer:
    301
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Subscribed. Awesome RR so far!
    #26
  7. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Ah, I found my lost phone photos again! So, previously, Stu took some photos on Smith Rock. The Behind The Scenes (Stu, go post up your video, eh?)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In Portland, we had the pleasure of being hosted by my friend james. I know James and the company he works for, Panic, quite well - the founders are good friends of mine and have previously shown me around Portland -- particularly letting me discover its fantastic food scene. When we arrived, we enjoyed the chicken wings at Whiskey Soda Lounge.

    Whiskey Soda Lounge is a 'waiting room' of sorts for the neighboring restaurant Pok-Pok, which serves atypical Thai food in a cool setting. We just wanted some drinks and wings, so Whiskey Soda was a fine destination for us.

    We rode to James' (dialed in the address in the GPS) on a very warm Portland summer evening. Golden light was flooding the streets and it was a lovely, short ride to North-East Portland. I got the guest room, Stu got a couch in the basement, everybody was happy.

    [​IMG]

    James and his wife did have actual jobs, so they left and we were free to enjoy Portland for a day. I showed Stu the excellent Panic office where he edited some photos (I was still out of a laptop, sigh).

    [​IMG]

    My buddies at Panic let me use one of their computers for a bit! Then, in the rain, we set off to...

    [​IMG]

    I contacted the local Ducati dealer, Motocorsa, to get a part for my mirror as it was oddly vibrating loose and rotating out of its socket on my handlebar. I blame myself stripping the mirror when I re-screwed it in after installing my Barkbusters...

    [​IMG]

    Note the rather ajar mirror. Ha! :D

    Motocorsa was excellent. Not only is the staff there incredibly nice, their mechanic folks gave me the part (which belongs to a complete, pricey mirror assembly part no.) for no charge at all. I wrenched the part back on and we entertained ourselves with the insane dirt-superbike they affectionately refer to as the 'Terracorsa'; a Panigale 1199 sportbike with a beautiful custom tan paint job and TKC knobbies. I was excited to put 'em on my GT now, come Alaska...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We celebrated Stu's birthday at Dig a Pony, where we got drunk with some very nice girls who also got him a plate of freshly fried beignets with a candle on top. Said candle immediately melted due to the high temperature of the beignets, but the message was clear. We had a great night, and as we were still waiting on my laptop to come in we rested and ate our hangover away the next day. Stu had to settle for beignets for his birthday treat as our temporary place of residence had bunk beds.

    Yep, bunk beds. The girls came home with us, but upon seeing our less than glamorous accommodations they bailed faster than a Soviet pilot on a trigger happy ejection seat.

    [​IMG]

    So as a consolation prize I got Stu some cake the next day... and we packed up again.

    [​IMG]

    And then it was time for us to ponder our last move. We were paying to stay in an AirBNB at this point, as to not overstay our welcome at James', and since it was eating into our sparse budget we had moved out of the AirBNB with no plans. We got a bit tired in the afternoon and decided to string up our hammocks on Mt. Tabor. The bikes were in view, but parked at the top of the hill.

    [​IMG]

    I was lying in my hammock when a nice looking fella walked up to Stu and they were talking for a while. He came up to me and we talked about my hammock, how it is perfect for solo and two up camping, how him and his girl were going to go on a honeymoon motorcycle trip... nice dude! He was super enthusiastic and he set off on his GSX-R sportbike soon after. We napped a bit and then, 30 minutes later, started to pack up.

    But as we did, he came riding back up again. He talked to his wife, and really wanted to offer us a place to stay for the night. He didn't want to extend the offer without asking his wife, so here he was again! Excellent! We took him up on the offer.

    [​IMG]

    A great chance for Stu to fix... something? On his bike? I think some wiring wasn't working. KLRs.

    As his bike was a sorry shell of its former self and we wanted to take a few last glamour shots of Portland before we left it, he offered Stu his 'zombie killer' GSX-R (it's rather scary looking) and we set off ripping around town, taking photos, talking, and having fun.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    We took a few pictures of him and his awesome ride.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    and as our last meal we had a true feast at a local Italian osteria. Fantastic food-- some of the best yet-

    [​IMG]

    and you get to cut your pizza with a pair of... scissors?!

    [​IMG]


    In the morning we woke up with our friendly host and his wife, had some fantastic breakfast and said goodbye to our generous and fantastic hosts. Goodbye, Portland -- I had my laptop, and now we were truly on the through-way. No more long stays from here on out. The road was calling!

    [​IMG]

    See you later, Portland. You've been fantastic.

    [​IMG]
    #27
  8. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    We finally left Portland!

    [​IMG]


    As a cherry on top, as we rode out news reached me that my friend Neven was now father to a son. Congratulations, Christa and Neven! Also, as a new merry companion, I found a disused Star Trek novella! Perfect!

    [​IMG]

    ... for keeping my bike upright! It tends to fall over when loaded, you see. :D

    [​IMG]

    We found ourselves in our first proper downpour but were properly suited up to deal with it and stayed dry. It was sunny and gorgeous when we hit Seattle – in fact, we were nearly overheating in the traffic on the highway. Our full rain gear was extremely hot and it was great to stop and rest our sore butts.

    We were hosted by Arthur in Seattle. He’d offered quite nicely through the ducati.ms forums to host us when we’d pass through on the way North and I was happy to take him up on his offer. A Ducati enthusiast and owner of a GT1000 himself, he was by far one of the nicest and most generous hosts we’ve had on the trip. We got made lattés and blueberry pancakes!

    [​IMG]

    When in Seattle...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I stayed with our rides, Stu got some salmon. We briefly saw Seattle’s nightlife and music scene, had a hike near Cougar Mountain, saw the Dutch qualify for the quarter finals and packed up to head to Olympic National Park. Which meant… our first ferry ride. Bikes on a boat!

    You get loaded first and ride off the boat first as a motorcycle. The motorcycle patrol officer wasn’t too amused by my engine revving and pulling wheelies while waiting so he arrested me on the spot.

    [​IMG]


    No, not really. He extended his hand and as I reciprocated, clicked the handcuffs on. We were a bit puzzled until he told us to take a photo. Grins all around. We got to the Olympic Peninsula and made good time to Port Angeles.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    (which has the best, cutest new drive-through coffee place called the Silver Spruce Coffee Company, by the way! Go visit them. Seriously)

    [​IMG]

    We tried to get backcountry permits at the Olympic National Park visitor center (they’re mandatory, and the citations for not having one are pricey), but we found they’d just closed. Grumble.

    [​IMG]

    The visitor center already being closed, we decided to ride up to Hurricane Ridge for a stiff hike up the mountain ridge and find a spot there to cook our fresh bought whole salmon (from Pike’s Place Market, Seattle) and asparagus.

    [​IMG]

    It was one of the most beautiful days on the ride so far. The ride up was stellar, the hike was breathtaking.

    I made a new friend:

    [​IMG]



    There was wildlife and stellar views in every direction. Deer basked in the sun like kings of the range, the slowly setting sun glistening on their heads.

    [​IMG]

    And don’t even get started about the sunset. It must have been an incredibly clear day by Pacific Northwest standards, as we could see Vancouver Island stretching out into the Pacific, cities in Canada sparkling on the horizon like constellations at the base of the mountain ranges. We were so close to leaving the lower states now...

    [​IMG]

    We had a fantastic dinner – eventually a deer was even attracted by all the smells and we had to shoo him off before he ate our little camping stove.

    [​IMG]

    One of the best spots I’ve ever eaten. And boy, does a ride up and stiff hike make you hungry.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The last light we caught going down made for this week’s stellar Wallpaper of the Week we sent out at the time.

    [​IMG]

    The next morning we cooked up our last salmon, packed up at the crack of dawn and rode to take the ferry back to Seattle and ride into Vancouver.

    [​IMG]

    We were riding with quite a few people out of the Peninsula that morning including a group of guys riding nice older bikes who kept us company in a long traffic jam caused by a rather intense traffic accident involving a big truck and a small car on the one road out to the ferry.

    [​IMG]

    To lift the spirits, closer to the ferry we were joined by a (once again!) GSX-R rider who rode wheelies for about a mile down the road. I barely managed to get a shot trying to keep up while take photos…

    [​IMG]

    Abou 150 miles later we were close to the border and we were enjoying some of the hottest weather so far. We dressed down appropriately.

    We hooked up some music to our helmets and as I was thoroughly swinging out dancing, playing air guitar and air keyboard on my motorcycle I had a sudden moment of panic as my bike cut out at a 70 miles-per-hour limit stretch of freeway. It turns out in my playing the air-synth, I accidentally hit the kill switch on my bike. Yup.

    [​IMG]

    The border crossing was fun. As I fumbled to grab my papers from the US Customs and Immigration service -- I have a letter that states my Permanent Resident Card is extended until I receive a new one -- the border patrol lady saw me rushing a bit and sternly asked me why I was so nervous. “I-I-I’m not n-nervous” I stammered, immediately nervous. "Really? You seem nervous". - "N-no, not at all!!!"

    As if I was packing a few hits of acid or something. Come on now, that'd be ridiculous.

    A few intense questions about the knives I packed for the trip later I made it across the border. See ya, Lower 48!

    [​IMG]

    It was Canada Day — July 1st! — when we rolled into town, and the entire city seemed to be drunk. We’ll be here for the next few days and then we’re going up and onwards again.

    [​IMG]

    Check back next time for the less-visited and less-photographed areas of British Columbia, the breaking of 3000 miles and my impressions of the TRON: Legacy shooting locations. I decided to visit them since my bike (the Ducati SportClassic) was used in the movie. It took quite a bit of riding around between 4 AM and 6 AM!
    #28
  9. Reisen57

    Reisen57 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    136
    Location:
    Around Seattle
    Loving your saga! Can't wait to see more. When you get a chance, can you please comment on your photo techniques? Looks like you're using HDR for many of these fantastic shots. Would love to hear some details - camera, ?tripod or handheld, Auto bracketing?, software?. Thanks very much
    #29
    caliform likes this.
  10. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Vancouver was excellent. As you could've seen at the beginning of this RR, we rode into town and got a warm welcome indeed. We had little clue of what 'Canada Day' entails, but clearly it has a lot to do with getting drunk, because as we rolled into town people seemed intoxicated and friendly / rowdy. Frowdly? Rowndly. Whatever!

    We had previously made arrangements with a Couchsurfing host (me being a verified and longtime host in San Francisco) but we couldn't get a hold of them. We eventually got a message through -- they were on Granville Island, in the middle of the city, drinking beer! OK, we figured we'd join them. We were hot, tired and ready for a beer ourselves, and in a strange city with no maps.



    And so, we rolled onto the island. Everyone was even drunker there, which made for fun moments. We parked the bike, and a mother and son were talking to Stu about the ride and our bikes within minutes of parking in a little spot. I saw a bunch of nice ladies and figured I'd ask them where one should go in a city like Vancouver!

    [​IMG]

    They were happy to pose for a photo. Not included here was one particularly friendly girl, Andrea, who quickly invited us to her birthday. Her birthday? Yes, tomorrow was her birthday, she was having it on the local nude beach and we were invited. We exchanged numbers, fully knowing that we'd probably never be remembered, and then took a few photos and left. (Andrea got on a booze-cruise. Oh, this country)

    [​IMG]

    Our Couchsurfing hosts were drunk, we were hungry and we had to figure out a place to stay.

    So, we had some dinner and I got an AirBNB for two nights near Commercial Drive.

    [​IMG]

    The next morning we were rather surprised to hear from Andrea! Yup, she still remembered us and yup, she still wanted us to come. We spent some time on Commercial Drive drinking coffee and lunching at the recently opened Lear Faye Espresso Kitchen (a super sweet place - one that would prove to be invaluable on the way back!) and got some superb food at the Cannibal Café.

    ... and then headed to the Uni to go to Wreck Beach. Wreck Beach is the college-side nude beach that everyone knows you can have a lot of fun on. We met the whole crew of Andrea's friends who were all incredibly nice and spent the day swimming and naked-volleyballing. What's it like? Lots of bouncing body parts. Photos? No, sorry.

    [​IMG]

    The evening was had at Andrea's good friends' house, drinking and eating hamburgers while throwing some balls and shooting the stuff. It was great how easy we made friends there. They mentioned something about a bike rave. Yup, a rave with bikes.

    [​IMG]

    At the end of the night, I was sober and very awake and I decided to ride my bike, the Ducati SportClassic, to the spots where a similar model bike was used in the movie TRON Legacy. And whoa, at 4 AM Vancouver was EMPTY.

    [​IMG]

    I am talking 'pose in the middle of busy downtown' empty.

    I visited the set location of the 'container' scene and a few other spots and turned in.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We spent another day there editing photos and exploring town a bit when Andrea hit us up again. There was to be a bicycle rave in downtown Vancouver. Entirely not legal, thousands of bicycles would descend on the town with LED lights, glowsticks and even entire sound systems in tow to dance and ride a route, eventually ending at the park. We were ready to leave for Alaska but... well, what's another day when there is a BIKE RAVE to look forward to?

    We didn't want to spend any more money on lodging so we camped on Mt. Seymour, right North of the city, off a disused (or still used?) mountain bike trail. Sssh. As the sun set on us in the dense forest, we wondered if all that rustling around us was bears...

    [​IMG]

    The next morning Stu left early to get some new tires on his KLR and we watched a game of soccer before meeting up with Andrea. Yes, she had bikes for us (not the motor-driven kind), and yep, this really was a thing. No spare tiger outfits for us sadly!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Quite a thing.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We spent the night in a haze of dancing, riding, hugging and enjoying Vancouver to the last bit. At the end of it we were truly ready to say goodbye to the last city. We woke up the next morning and set off on the Sky to Sea Highway for Whistler, Pemberton, North... far, far North, as far as the road would take us.

    Goodbye civilisation. We went out with a bang.

    [​IMG]
    #30
  11. cleaner72

    cleaner72 n00b

    Joined:
    May 22, 2013
    Oddometer:
    7
    Location:
    Katy Tx
    Did we lose ya bro?
    #31
  12. RumRunner

    RumRunner Sit there, turn that

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2001
    Oddometer:
    6,246
    Location:
    Great White North
    :lurk

    DW
    #32
  13. OnTheWay

    OnTheWay Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Oddometer:
    1,299
    Location:
    Shenzhen, China
    It‘s not hard to find that you wrote it with sincerity.So fantastic of it!!Keep going.
    #33
  14. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Well guys, I kept getting sidetracked updating this because I was making Ride Earth -- our new site for our Ride Reports, pics and yep, our announcement we're going to South America in about three weeks. I hope I can finish this in that time, but I will try! Will aim for updates at least every 2 days here.

    Coming up!

    [​IMG]

    Check out the new site!
    #34
  15. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Yeah, it's intense to update this while working so hard to prep for our new trip! I'll be starting an RR on that soon and updating that as we go along, rather than updating it later and hoping you can finish it in your spare time. None such spare time!

    Day... what was it? The day after the bike rave! Gosh, what a time to be alive.

    VANCOUVER, BC - PEMBERTON, BC

    [​IMG]

    We awoke in a serious daze after so many sights and feelings of the night before, but we were rather relieved at the same time to be leaving the insanity of cities and civilization to get into the wild. It'll be nothing but town and country from here on out.

    We stayed the last night with a very hospitable lady that Stuart had met (she was kind enough to let me sleep on the couch...), and headed out in the early morning after some coffee and brunch at a local place in her neighborhood, Kitsilano (or 'Kits'). She was even nice enough to snap a quick Instagram shot as we rode out!

    [​IMG]

    We were on the road pretty quick. I remembered the road out well from my nightly excursion to see the TRON: Legacy shooting spots, as I'd gone over the Lion's Gate bridge before at sunrise. That was nice. Now, we were going over it and not coming back. We crossed over and hit the turnoffs for Sea to Sky highway, and the riding was gorgeous. We'd been informed the cops patrol rather intensely so we kept a... legal pace, if anything, and made it to Whistler in fair time.

    [​IMG]

    A few photo stops along the way.

    Nice riding here!

    [​IMG]

    ... only to be disappointed with the fact that Whistler is, for all intents and purposes, an utter Disneyland of a town. The fake 'chalet' architecture, the insanely commercialized and trashy touristy sales pitches on every corner and the sheer crowds had us convinced we'd only stop for lunch and leave it at that. We had some lunch at a burger place, where some disturbingly angry tourists ate, and we ran into another rider who spoke at length about his travels, the great riding in the area, but above all how ADVRider was a place of heroes and Horizons Unlimited a bunch of sissy dummies and we should never bother even looking there.

    Not that I had -- or actually, now that I think of it, have since -- but what an opinion, eh?

    Off then, further North...

    [​IMG]

    We proceeded along the beautiful highway until we started losing light, and turned off near Pemberton, BC, to check around for a supermarket to buy some supplies. Some searching around later, we found the supplies we needed, Stu found a particular bit of fish-bait he was looking for...

    [​IMG]


    and we were out on the backroads finding a spot to camp.

    [​IMG]

    Not too intimidated by gravel and rock roads, we rode a fair bit up one of the hills out of the valley to find this beautiful spot:

    [​IMG]

    We were quite happy, and set up a tent and a nice fire, and cooked up dinner and drank whiskey until we fell asleep to dream of the road to Alaska ahead.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #35
    BeemerBOI likes this.
  16. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Still working hard on Ride Earth at the moment - sorry for delayed updates. We're leaving for South America pretty soon!

    We were awoken in the tent by an insanely hot morning sun that crept through a crease in the -- what we thought was an uninterrupted -- mountain ridge, baking us out of our tent in no time. With no rest for us, and still a bit groggy from all the urban rave-tivities we made a fire, breakfast, and packed up with what few clothes we could wear.

    We didn't have a thermometer, but it was some of the hottest weather we'd had on the trip so far. No complaints, just... sweating a lot. Boy did we sweat. We finally got the bikes loaded up and rolled down the loose gravel road onto the CA(Canada)-99 North. Today would feature some incredible variety in terrain: the heat was just the beginning!

    [​IMG]

    CA-99 turns beautifully twisty right out of Pemberton, sort of snaking its way up into the mountains. We (somewhat illegally and dicey-ish) passed a few tour buses (why are they out here?) and started our ascent. I had a serious pucker-moment when I hit one of the turns pretty hard and the rear tire kicked out quite a bit after hitting a slippery tar snake. The road was littered with them; I bet the local road makers fix up a lot of cracks and heaves with the stuff, but in the incredible heat that day they became liquid tar again and quite a fun challenge to navigate.

    [​IMG]

    Once up the hill, I spotted some baby bears -- the first one of the trip! -- and plenty of lakes. Boy, are there a lot of lakes here.

    [​IMG]

    The highway snaked through the valleys a bit more until we reached Seton Lake, where Stu promptly passed the fuck out on a bench as I excitedly ran around taking photos of the lake. A bunch of tourists were coming in and out of the parking lot, and the temperature was only climbing, so we dragged ourselves into town to get some food.

    Seton Lake, a beautiful lake with a little railroad running around its North side, is right west of the town of Lillooet. Cute name, and the first serious boundary of landscapes in B.C. if you are headed up the 99.

    Sweet ride outside of our little restaurant.

    [​IMG]



    The landscape here changes quite remarkably from a mountainous forest biome to a more desert-like place. You really see quite a bit of this desert-like place if you ride further North, follow the 99 up and connect with the 97 -- also known as the Cariboo Highway -- to go truly North.

    [​IMG]

    It was a lovely ride. Really, superb landscapes, very little traffic. The temperatures got a bit more bearable, the roads really nicely sweeping and before we knew it, we were on the Cariboo heading towards Alaska.



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The scenery around this point changes once more: the desert lets out a bit, becomes a bit more lush. Then, the hills flatten, and the brush increases. Ponds and lakes start appearing and before you know it, you are in the typical swampy forest landscape of central and Northern British Columbia. Little did we know this was to become our typical landscape for the next few thousand miles.

    [​IMG]


    We had a coffee break at 70 Mile House, Stu still feeling somewhat low energy (something we later pinpointed as just not drinking enough water. Seriously folks, drink water).

    [​IMG]

    We read up a bit on the small town history (most of it created by the gold rushes up North) and kept on moving through places with creative names like 72 Mile House, 83 Mile House, and eventually stopped for food in 100 Mile House.

    The road there was incredibly straight and empty, so a good chance to photograph each other and do other practice of hands-free activities!

    [​IMG]

    Roadhouse food was pricey, and we found the booze to be rather expensive too, and so we set out to make a campsite of our own outside of town.

    This is something far easier the further you go North!

    In California people put a flag and file paperwork to apply for a deed for every quarter of a cow patty in a field, but as soon as you start going North, the vast open spaces are shared more readily, and you can more easily find a place where you won't bother anyone. A windy road heading West out of 100 Mile House led us to a beautiful open meadow where we set up camp for the night. I was a bit too scared to do the loose sand hill climb on my road tires, but Stu rode his KLR right up...

    and was, as usual, quick to go after some dead trees in the direct vicinity for a camp fire. Even more necessary than ever, because we started making new friends.

    The mosquito is probably the most prevalent wildlife of a trip North. We were now in swampy lands, as I mentioned, and as mosquitoes breed in pools of still water you can imagine the population here is quite bustling. They found us a great snack, but with our smokey fire and some DEET they kept a decent distance. Oh, how little we had seen so far - mosquitoes would only get more intense the further we'd get, right up to the Arctic!

    [​IMG]

    A few swigs of whiskey and we tucked in for the night, listening to what sounded like some coyotes not too far off in the Canadian night.

    [​IMG]
    #36
  17. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    We woke up and it was a slight bit chillier. We made some coffee, dumped some swiss-miss in it for an impromptu mocha and cleaned our campsite up.

    We pride ourselves in a true 'leave no trace' mentality. If you do grey area / illegal camping and use found spaces to stay, one should ensure you leave it better than you found it. And as such, we ensured we packed everything out well, and left our meadow nicely.

    I also had a nice walk out through the woods before Stuart woke up and was already amazed by the natural beauty. I was walking about without a camera, but the sheer colors of dew on moss, the crispy sounds of the spruces, bush and moss under my feet and the beautiful variance in color and life out here was dazzling.

    Time to get on the bikes. Stu rode his bike down the hill, I packed mine up, and off we went.

    Now we were really making miles. Between towns, signal was completely gone, and the towns became far less common. Long stretches of road were interspersed with tiny stretches of buildings. Roads became a bit less epic and scenic, and we relaxed on the bikes and enjoyed stretches with some music, conversation or Radiolab podcast episodes played through our helmets.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It was still beautiful out, though. We turned off at Prince George once the sun started setting and found another good impromptu camp spot somewhere in nearby woods, off a nearly unmaintained dirt road.


    [​IMG]


    Shooting the sun setting...


    [​IMG]

    And here's some crappy cellphone shots of the road and our camp.

    Not much to say of days like this: the landscape is extremely sparse. The highway we rode by was well known as a sparse place, and overall we saw a lot of logging traffic and very few other people. We just rode on to make miles...


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The next morning we'd be making it over to the next leg of the trip: the Cassiar Highway, which would bring us to the Yukon... and indeed, the Alaskan Highway!


    [​IMG]
    #37
  18. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    618
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Time to keep pushing deeper into the Northern territory. While we had initially planned to ride all the way out West to the ferry docks at Prince Rupert to catch a boat to Haida Gwai and explore the little-ridden island. It's the island on the left here:

    [​IMG]

    Oh right: day uh, um, who knows into our trip, Prince George, BC to Smithers, BC (I realize I have been neglecting maps!)

    We sadly found that the ferry schedule didn't line up. It was either a few days' wait around these parts or riding up further and possibly doing it on the way down. We opted to go North instead of waiting around. Looking back, it was a good choice -- and honestly, I'll definitely ride up this place again and go by there in the future. Beautiful country.

    We did make this choice over some amount of time when we stopped in Smithers, and decided we were turning in there, so this update is a bit sparse.

    We left Prince George after the teeth scrubbing you saw in the last post and made it out of the forest alright -- some minor ruts had to be crossed, but we filled one very deep one up with some sand and we made it across swimmingly.

    [​IMG]

    This ride across, connecting the BC-99 with BC-97 (the Stewart-Cassiar Highway up to the Yukon) is known as the BC-16. More sadly known as the 'Highway of Tears'. It's a very isolated highway that has seen a lot of abductions and murders over the years, and depending on who you talk to it is due to the isolation, remoteness, and/or racism of police towards First Nation folk around here that they don't care for much.

    [​IMG]

    Oh, when you get over that hill, there's another, and another... it's pretty straightforward driving.

    [​IMG]

    No tears for us on this ride, fortunately, and in about 4 hours of solid straight riding (very little curves and turns, lots of identical quaint woodland on this long stretch...) we made it to Vanderhoof for some gassing up and watching -- what else -- the world cup.

    This is where my home country of the Netherlands finally lost and we left with considerable sadness. Yes, there is totally a German styled restaurant with football (soccer for you yanks) on in the middle of actual nowhere, BC. It's called the North Country Inn. Lovely people. Awful game of soccer.

    [​IMG]

    We rode on the tearful highway a bit more until we reached Houston. Not that Houston. There was gas, and we needed some supplies. The small town had a really beautiful look, sort of nestled between the mountains, but what struck me even more was all their hand painted signs. Really great sign painting!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The road here was smaller, and didn't feel like a highway:

    [​IMG]


    Not too much further down the road we stopped in Smithers, BC, with the light about an hour and a half from going and having to make a choice.

    [​IMG]

    The extended world cup game had us forcing to stay here, and the prices of the local bar / restaurant, while lovely, were a bit out of our league. We charged up some devices and drank a beer and then hopped back on the bikes on a dirt road headed to a park area.

    [​IMG]

    It was a really beautiful road, and Smithers itself lay behind us framed by the towering mountains that separated it from the coastal ranges beyond.

    We rode on looking for a quiet enough turnoff, and Stu found one and turned in. I was at appreciable speed so I came to a hard stop and... locked up my tire in the last few miles per hour somewhat, neatly falling over. The bike was fine - nary a scratch on the panniers. Sadly no photo of said spill.

    [​IMG]

    We made it into the fields beyond this turnoff and started reveling at the beauty of the scenery with the setting sun casting everything in an unreal light.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Absolutely gorgeous meadows of flowers and brush extended to the mountains.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It's then that the actual residents of the meadow decided to come around: a group of cows, led by some... well, bullish bulls slowly chased us out of their pasture, until we made it into another field where we were safe.

    The field wasn't being used -- it was more of a dirt area than a field proper, and we decided to take the risk in setting up our camp here. It was showing no signs of use, there was nobody around for miles, and we'd get out early in the morning and clean up after ourselves.

    [​IMG]

    I negotiated a truce with the bovine community while Stu cooked up some dinner.

    It was a chilly night, and we warmed by the campfire, some dreams of Haida Gwai lost, but Alaska getting closer by the day.

    [​IMG]

    -----

    Postscript: I've been getting better on the updates, mostly because I am home sick at the moment. I hope I can cover at least our trip to the Dalton before we leave on Nov 21st to go South
    #38
  19. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,364
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Beautiful photos for this day! Thanks.
    #39
    caliform likes this.
  20. Max Wedge

    Max Wedge ADVenture mowing

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,189
    Location:
    Lwr Mi
    Sorry you're sick, but I love we are the benefactors! Great pics as always.
    #40
    caliform likes this.