Tennessee to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tellicotom, Feb 26, 2021.

  1. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    I'm going to try and do a RR of a trip my wife and I did to Alaska from Tennessee back in 2013. I'm just going to explore attaching pics from the little Chromebook that I'm using..we'll see how it goes....

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    OK....looks like this is going to work pretty easily.

    First episode coming soon!
    #1
  2. Cobra5150

    Cobra5150 What? Where?

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    Work easier than the ride.

    IN
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  3. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

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    In.
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  4. glittleman

    glittleman Adventurer

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    I'm in.
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  5. Krider1

    Krider1 Adventurer

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    oh yah looking forward to it.
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  6. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    A little background is in order I believe to start the story. We both have been riding motorcycles since we were basically kids. My first time on a bike was my cousin's Honda Trail 90 in the early 1970's. My wife was introduced to bikes when her Mom bought her a little 50cc mini-bike upon her pleading for it. My first bike was a 1973 Yamaha 125 Enduro and Kim was lucky enough as a teenager to ride her cousin's motorcross bikes on the "slate dumps" that were scattered around southwestern Pennsylvania, a legacy of the area's rich coal mining history. They made for some pretty awesome hill climbs back in the day!

    I moved on to a Yamaha DT400 that was a 2 struck with oil injection and was street legal. After realizing the limitations of dual sport tires in the PA mud, I stripped it down, put knobbies on it and continued to ride it as a dirt bike. Kim and I got together in the early 1980s and her first real bike was a Kawasaki KDX 200 and that bike would jump!. We continued to ride the slate dumps and trails in our local area. Without the internet, I was unaware of all the opportunities out there!

    We ended up moving to Tennessee in the early 1990s for work, life got in the way and we did without bikes for about 10 years. I was into whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, and generally exploring the "high mountains" that are the southern Appalachians. One beautiful May weekend in 2003 found us at Mt Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), and motorcycles were everywhere. Kim said, "we need to get bikes!", as she wasn't as involved with the kayaking and Mtn biking as I was. A man needs to fulfill his wife's request, especially when it is to get motorcycles! A short time later we had Yamaha V-Star 650s and really enjoyed weekend trips on the BRP and surrounding twisty 2-lanes. We rode them for a few years and in about 2006, I met a big-time motorcyclist at work by the name of Roger.

    Roger had been riding his whole life and had done numerous cross country and western mountain trips. He was riding a BMW 1200, introduced me to ADVRIDER, and got me thinking of doing some longer trips as I clung to every word of his stories. One of my favorite stories was how back in the day on their western trips they would stop and buy steaks, taters, and beer; wrap the food in aluminum foil and wire tie it to their exhaust pipe and by the time they got to camp the steaks would be done!! Another co-worker had a V-Strom 1000 that he really liked and we started looking for a used one. I found my black one in august of 2007 with 6800 miles and we bought Kim's 2007 model in March of 2008 at a really good deal. We outfitted them with the Givi bags and trailered them to Walsenburg, Colorado for a 2 week trip around Colorado and Utah. We hit all of the big name National Parks and connected them with the best roads we could find!! I was hooked and became an ADVRIDER Junkie!

    As we continued riding, we also moved into dualsports again with an old DR350 and XT350, but still kept the V-Stroms In 2010 and 2012 we did 2 more trips to Colorado and Utah and I became more and more addicted...I couldn't help myself!! The more I read ADVRIDER, the more I found stories
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  7. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    of riding to Alaska! Kim's Christmas present to me was the Adventurous Motorcyclist's Guide to Alaska!! I nearly wore it out before spring,! The Dalton, Kennicutt and McCarthy, the Denali Highway, Top of the World Highway, Manley Hot Springs, the list goes on and on.! We could only dream of someday...because since I was still working I had no intention of trying to do a whirlwind trip with the amount of time I could get off. Things happen for a reason I suppose, and as I was at my desk one beautiful April day, I get the phone call that I had been "Released", on good behavior I presume!!! In any event, my last day at work was April 25, 2013. Kim said I should look for another job, but I convinced her we should take the summer off, ride to Alaska, and figure it out when we got back!! We left Tennessee the Wednesday after Memorial Day!! While it is dated now and there may be a new edition, I found the book I mentioned to be spot on back then, entertaining and an invaluable guide.

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  8. thadf

    thadf Been here awhile

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    Good start
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  9. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Perhaps it was we were anxious to get started, or the BRP has a special place in our hearts, or we listened to Charlie Daniels too much (LA via Omaha!), but we decided to start our trip to Alaska from Tennessee via North Carolina?! Hunh? What?? To Alaska via NC from TN, were we crazy? No..I don't think so...! Kim's sister was getting married in PA on June 8 and Kim was in the wedding, so we decided to take the scenic route to PA, work the bugs out of our packing system, visit family, and take in the wedding! We turned a 500 mile interstate ride into a 1000 mile epic 2-lane journey!! This was our MO, take the sceinc route wherever possible and avoid the superslab!! Our first night we made it to Linville Falls State Park, where we camped. Since we felt like we were on a budget, being unemployed and all, we camped about 80% of the time and mostly cooked in camp. We were striving for a total of $100 per day for both of us over the 3 month ride. Here's a few pics of the first day.
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    Being an Andy Griffith fan and since we were going right by and all...we decided to check out Mayberry, ohhh I mean Mt Airy , NC!!
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    After touring Mayberry, we continued north on the BRP... I'm sure we stopped at the Blue Ridge Music Center for some afternoon music and continued on to Rocky Knob Campground for the evening. I recall talking to a fellow rider that was going down one of the side roads off the parkway when a cager tried running him off the mountain. I forget the actual details, but I do recall it made quite the impression on him and reminded us to be alert and ride defensively.

    As you can tell, we didn't make big miles each day, but we definitely tried to stop an smell the roses! Also, Kim's not an early riser, but we always strove to be on the road by the crack of Noon!! But hey, she's twisting her own throttle all the way to Alaska.....and sleeping on the ground most nights...so who am I to complain!!? Actually, we were usually up and moving by ~ 8:30 and on the road by about 10:00, sometimes earlier. We only missed our Noon start one time in British Columbia, after a night of camping with other riders and feasting on fresh caught salmon for breakfast! I've talked with other riders that went to Alaska on a time constraint, end up riding 14 hours per day, and hated it... No danger of that on our trip!!
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  10. ozmoses

    ozmoses persona non grata

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  11. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Here's a little eye candy of what awaited us up ahead. It is the stuff that inspires dreams, keeps us going across the plains, and creates awesome memories....!

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  12. GIGreene

    GIGreene n00b

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    Looking forward to more...
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  13. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

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    Like your approach to planning and scheduling. You have some excellent pictures. Nice to see fireweed in bloom, familiar places and dinner on the hoof!
    #13
  14. Macho Man2

    Macho Man2 Long timer Supporter

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    I'm in and Roger is a friend of mine too!
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  15. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    We took the BRP north to Floyd, VA which is a small, touristy town right off the parkway. There is a nice country store there that is on the Crooked Road list of old time mountain music venues. Unfortunately, we weren't on time to see the best of the shows, so we continued north crossing into West Virginia. We stopped at the Paint Bank General Store and on to Green Bank, where there is a Radio Telescope that is listening for space sounds. It was an area with very little modern technology and as I understand, WI-FI and cell phones are still not allowed there to keep the radio waves down.

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  16. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    I noticed the last few photos showed my packing technique pretty well. The blue cylindrical bag on the left side of my bike held a roll of "R-Foil" which a a waterproof insulating barrier I had leftover from house building. It made a really nice moisture barrier and provided a nice floor to the tent. Inside the roll, I had enough space to carry (3) 14 oz propane cylinders for our single burner, $20 stove from Walmart. It was just perfect for such a trip where we would pay dearly for propane in the very rural areas. Of course the tent is the green bag on the right side of the bike. It is a 2 person Mountain Hardware tent that we had forever, or at least 8 years at that time and we still have it today. We also each had a $5 chair that I said we would carry as long as they weren't too much trouble strapping them on. Neither one made it back to Tennessee! The large bags contained clothes that we didn't need to access on a daily basis. The side cases held food, stove, sleeping pad and bag, and clothes we would need on a daily basis. You can also see the homemade "barkbusters " that I made from 1" metal from Lowes. I figured we might drop the bikes in camp or otherwise, and was looking to protect the levers. Last but not least, my ultra-light fishing rod is whirl-tied across the handle-bars!
    #16
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  17. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer Super Supporter

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    Manley Hot Springs!! The greatest, most deserved detour off a late season run up the Dalton that I took back in 2007. Adding it with that special someone else in that garden of eden like greenhouse with those hot tubs would be out of this World!
    Pick the last soak of the day, maybe you can just overnight in the greenhouse. I ended up camping outside the Roadhouse closer to the beer as I was all alone:( but still wouldn’t miss this soaking spot.
    When I’m back up way North again I shall return:deal

    Hope you got to go there.
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  18. moralem

    moralem Been here awhile

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    Would love to read the wife’s perspective as well........I did my trip in 2014 from Texas and for close to 7 years have been planning to go back. I just hope the Canadian’s open the boarder soon before I age out. IMG_0347.jpg
    #18
  19. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Thanks for all the replies...It's nice to relive the trip through telling the story and looking at the photos. Also, since I have been so inspired by the stories and photos of other here on AdvRider, it feels really good to post up and hopefully inspire others. I'll see if my partner is willing to add little of her perspective as well :)

    Yes , we did make it to Manley Hot Springs, along with one along the Gallatin River in Yellowstone, Chena Hot Springs outside Fairbanks, and of course Liard Hot Springs near Watson Lake. You're right, Manley HS felt really good after 4 days on the Dalton, swimming with beavers north of the Arctic Circle for our bath, and we had the place to ourselves for like $5 for an hours soak,,,that water is HOT too..! ..Here's a couple of pics to hold us over..

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    #19
  20. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Picking up from the Radio Telescope site, we pretty much headed straight north. We stopped at our old haunt, the Honi-Honi Bar on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. No pics from this part of the trip as it was routine for us. We did meet some Harley Riders at the Honi-Honi that were checking out our loaded bikes and they asked where we were off to. They were beside themselves when I answered , "Alaska"!

    From there it was a short 1 hour ride northwest to where we grew up in SW PA. We spent a little over a week visiting family and taking in the wedding. It was great to see and spend time everyone before we started our long journey west and north...Before we new it , we were itching to get started. It was one of those early June weather patterns where rain and thunderstorms were in the forecast at like 70% everyday, not only for our area in PA but for the entire central plains as well.

    Well, my old friend Roger had 2 bits of invaluable advice. The first was when we were going to Colorado. He asked, "have you ever been to southern Utah?" I answered, "well, we've been to Salt Lake and the surrounding area skiing". "No, no I said Southern Utah!" was his reply. "No, I guess we haven't" I replied. Response "You need to go!" . My reply, "I'm not sure we have enough time.." Comeback, "Make time, you need to go!!" Well, I made time and we had an awesome visit to the big name parks of southern Utah and the incredible desert scenery. I thought I caught a glimpse of John Wayne riding across the desert alongside of me at times! I came back to work with like 0.2 hours of PTO left in my bank!

    The other bit of advice, which was invaluable at the time, was when I asked Roger, "what would you do if you were getting ready to go on a big ride and there was a lot of rain was in the forecast?" Response, "I'd put my rain gear on, you big dummy!" He always had a way of spinning a yarn and I recalled one trip that he took to Texas when there was a classic stalled frontal system that had heavy rain all the way from East Tennessee to Texas. Roger said, "We were leaving a wake as we crossed the Mississippi at Memphis!!"

    Well, I took Roger's great advice as we prepared to head west on June 12!

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    While we prefer riding the 2-lanes, we didn't want to get bogged down in all of the small towns along our way in SW PA and eastern Ohio, so we took I-70 west to Columbus, OH. We exited the superslab there and headed northwest on US 33 toward Ft Wayne. We turned west just before reaching Decatur at the Indiana line and took a little connector road on our way west to meet US-24, which took us across the rest of Indiana and into Illinois. We stopped for the night at a nice campground shortly after crossing into Indiana. We got in just before dark and an approaching thunderstorm. The thing that I recall about that night was the incredible humidity and the 2 drunk chicks that were camping next to us and getting rowdy!
    #20
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