The Adventures of LoneStar & The Iron Butterfly...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. Grynch

    Grynch Long timer

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    It is starting to get cold at night here in the San Francisco bay area ,snow expected in Tahoe area. What are night time temps like in AK right now?
  2. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    The next morning was sunny and crisp with blue skies, a hopeful sign that Valdez may have good weather.

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    F&K had not slept well and were very tired - from being cold. My cough had worsened and I felt like a dead rat but pressed on for Valdez.

    We’d heard from many people that the road to Valdez was really spectacular and it was. The fall colors were everywhere, the sights and mountains stunning.

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    The rain began again as did the grey skies, but we stopped occasionally for pictures. I began to feel so bad all I wanted to do was get to Valdez and get a hotel even if that was not the group plan. I felt very bad.

    Yeppers... rain a comin'
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    Somewhere along the way at one of our stops, Fanda and Kaschka went on, not seeing us at the turn out and continuing for Valdez. Typically we stop after a few miles but we never caught up to them on the road.

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    As we finally rolled into Valdez in the rain, a bit disappointing once again to be in a port city and only see rain, I saw F&K’s bike at the library for WiFi and then rode on to a fish and chips place. As DHK&R went inside I rode back to tell Fanda where we were and to meet us for lunch. He said they’d lost us and had gotten a little worried but we all met for fish and chips and to warm up.

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    We made it to the port to see the official end of the Alaska pipeline... it was great to have ridden along the pipeline from the Arctic and now to see the end. Even if it was in the rain


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    After a while I began to feel a little better and decided to push on with the group rather than get a motel. My energy lasted a while but eventually faded in the rain as we rode back. Near Kenny Lake we found a nice campground for the night, with hot showers, fire rings and picnic tables.





    At sunset, Dave, Kim, Ronetta and I all piled into her Yukon and ran up the road to catch what we could of the spectacular sunset

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  3. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Hey Grynch - the snow has chased us south!
  4. Grynch

    Grynch Long timer

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    I hear Mexico calling!
  5. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Mexico is indeed calling lol

    Kaschka and I were discussing how nice it will be to spend a couple of weeks or more in a little town in Mexico doing nothing... There is a low level fatigue to moving almost daily and dealing with the requirements of camping, planning, packing and so on. The vagabond lifestyle is addictive and we really have been surprised at how much we enjoy it. In fact neither of us can imagine normal life again. That said you find yourself needing time to rejuvenate and Mexico appeals in so many ways. Much easier to relax when you know it isn't costing nearly as much :D
    asphaltsurfer1 likes this.
  6. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    We awoke to a very cold campsite and started prepping to leave for Tok. Dave and Heather were going to McCarthy and Kennecott and wanted us to go with them, but I wasn’t well and we decided to push on with Fanda and Kaschka. The cold weather and calendar were telling us it was time to start working south.

    I’d found out Ronetta’s birthday was coming up in a day or two and wanted to thank her for her generous hospitality while we were all together. At the small general store I grabbed a pack of Hostess Ding Dongs and in a flash had opened the package, stacked them on top of each other like a cake and stuck a match in the top for a candle. When I got back to the campsite, everyone was hanging around the table so I called a meeting and presented Ronetta with a tiny double layer chocolate birthday cake. We had a good laugh and sang happy birthday to her while she blew out the match.

    With that done, we said goodbyes to Heather and Dave, rehearsing our plan to meet them in Terrace, BC in a week or so and they took off in the cold morning air for McCarthy.

    Shortly after, we 5 headed out for Tok. My bike had a lamp fault showing, though all bulbs seemed to be fine, and I had to add a few pounds of air to my rear Heidenau. It was now sporting 10,000 miles and getting a bit thin but I figured I could get a couple thousand more miles at least on it. In my rear view I saw one of Kim’s auxiliary PIAA lights had popped a bulb as well.

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    The winds were high and intense as we neared Glenallen in some bitter cold, where we gassed up and did some grocery shopping. As we left, an older couple rolled in behind us on a Harley. Motorcycles have been seen substantially less in the last few weeks so it was noticeable to see a bike nearby.

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    A bit later we hit a roadside stop for lunch and the couple on the Harley we’d seen earlier rolled in behind us. We started talking to them and discovered they had run the N.O.L.S. School for the Pacific Northwest for many years. They were celebrating his 67th birthday by buying and riding a Harley, the last one he’d owned having been 50 years before at age 17. They were leaving Valdez, where they owned a fish tender and made extra money in the summers. They were excited to hear of our trip to South America as they had ridden south America in a sidecar rig years before and were currently planning to ride an old Vespa he’d bought around Europe. We were talking about riding and weather and when I shared about Kim’s high wind experience in Lander at the top of South Canyon, they started laughing. Turns out they owned property at the top of the Canyon and knew exactly where we had the experience. They had also run the NOLS school in Lander and loved the area. Small world indeed.

    The winds towards Tok had died down a bit and the views were absolutely stunning. I felt so poorly I didn’t take the time to stop and shoot and regret it now, but the head cold was hitting me in earnest.

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    Rockin' the 1200
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    We reached Tok late and as a rain cloud was blowing in. F&K said they’d prefer a room, if possible, and I didn’t relish spending a night in low 30’s temps in a tent with a worsening cold. Kim found the Alaska Stoves campground and the owner allowed us all to share one travel trailer for $50. What a deal indeed.

    It felt good to be warm, with Fanda, Kaschka, Ronetta, Kim and I, along with Ronetta's two big dogs Cedar and Starla all piled together in the little camper. The evening was fun, despite my hacking cough, until…
    The owner had asked us not to use the shower in the RV, which was fine. The place was cramped and Ronetta had brought in her bag of Canon pro cameras and L series lenses. To protect them from the dogs and for extra room, they were inadvertently set in the bathtub for protection...

    Yep, you guessed it. About midnight Kaschka let out a shout and Kim ran in the bathroom, returning with a camera bag that was pouring out water, having been sitting under water for a while. Apparently the kitchen sink had backed up into the bathtub, the grey tank having not been drained by the campground’s caretaker. It was absolutely a devastating moment to see Kim carrying out a camera bag with water pouring out. It was dead silence and horror.
    We slowly lifted out body by body and lens by lens as water poured out of the lens caps. I pulled the rear caps off the L lenses and watched the water pour from inside. As a photographer I was sickened and can’t imagine how Ronetta must have felt. It was a terrible way for the day to end.

    Ronetta tried to make the best of it but was in shock. I typed a list of all the gear so that we could talk to the campground owner about insurance.

    The evening was a bit less joyful after that, Kaschka wandered outside and spotted the Northern Lights forming. We all piled out into the freezing cold evening and stood watching a nice display through the pines. It was great to see them and sort of fitting as we sadly knew it was time for heading south.

    The next day I still felt very bad, with severe coughing and congestion and needed rest. Kim and Ronetta headed for Chicken in her Yukon and I attempted to find wifi both in the Visitor Center and Fast Eddie’s restaurant. Both sucked and the internet was so slow I was only able to upload 8% of one 900k photo in the entire day. I finally gave up.



    Some pics from Chicken... where I didn't get to go :( but so glad Kim and Ronetta had some fun!

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    Kim and Ronetta returned from Chicken, where a party was planned later that evening for the close of the campground. Fanda and Kaschka had rested and wrote for their blog much of the day as well. We were all pretty tired and fell asleep quickly that evening.
  7. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    The next morning was a sad one, both for Ronetta’s camera incident and the fact that we were saying goodbye to her, she now as much a family member as a friend.

    Ronetta produced bags of goodies and groceries from her trunk, stuffing our panniers and pockets with jerky, chips, food and anything else she could. She insisted I take an Alpaca blanket she’d brought and though I argued with her I lost, stuffing it into my ballooning duffle bag.

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    It was bitter cold and I dreaded another day of inhaling cold air with my cough and cold, but we needed to push south as the snows were coming on our heels. Each day we were hearing of snow ahead and behind, with warnings from gas station attendants, on-lookers and just about everyone to get south or get trapped.

    Kaschka had been telling us all she was ready to get to Mexico and do absolutely nothing for a couple of weeks in a warm and sunny place, free of responsibility. I was in complete agreement and as we’d talked around the campfire about it on a cold evening a couple of nights before, the Mexican Mañana Bug had bitten me in earnest. I imagined us in Real De Catorce or San Miguel, sunglasses and shorts on, lounging and dozing on some rooftop overlooking the town.

    "Responsibility? On a trip where you’ve left all responsibility behind?"I hear you ask yourself
    Yes, lemme splain… Fanda and Kaschka had worked very hard for 5 years in the Czech Republic saving and planning their trip. As Fanda explained, the wages are very low there and they worked to get sponsor's help. The sponsorship route does require regular articles and updates, which Kaschka handles as they travel. For them, it adds responsibility and some pressure. For me, it’s just trying to write, download images and videos, edit and output and then try to find internet that works. It’s hours and hours of time, and that time only comes after days of riding and camping. Your “rest” time doesn’t really exist since you are busy trying to catch up after days of camping. The “stress” level is not like having a job, but it is there even if self-induced. Other low grade stresses relate to the work of camping, planning, hoping to find a place 250 miles ahead as the day gets late, the constant awareness required when in bear territory, keeping up with bike maintenance in less than perfect conditions, watching your budget take hits and the list goes on.

    All of these can slowly accumulate to a point of low grade fatigue and you find yourself just wanting to lay around somewhere a few days doing nothing. That’s hard to do when a hotel is costing you money or you are in someone’s home and feeling like a burden to them. F&K have been successfully couch surfing most of their trip including Russia and Mongolia, but sleeping on the floor and the host having 4 am work hours isn’t the easiest either.

    None of what I’ve just said should be taken as complaint, sniveling or whining, as I wouldn’t trade this for the world (well maybe) but I’m sharing as much reality for you guys as I can. You can run along for many days but you will hit a wall of fatigue occasionally. My choice to add the burden of doing a ride report and blog adds to this, but it’s who I am and what I love. I do it so that when life changes and I can no longer live, I can look back and read and remember what true living was. Having a plan and doing hotels would be the best way to minimize fatigue and maximize one’s time on the net for updating, but then we’d lose all the incredible camping experiences we’ve had. Besides, we ain’t rich baby...

    Now where the hell was I? Oh yeah… ride report

    The plan was to make Haines Junction that day and then Whitehorse the next day. As we raced on in the cold temps and sunshine, we blew past a roadside pull out and saw two GS’s parked there, only to realize it was in fact Dave and Heather! We all screeched to a stop and made the U turn back to see them.

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    It was a real surprise for all of us and we started laughing. Since we’d been in Tok longer than expected we assumed they’d gone on from McCarthy already and were long gone. We all joined up again for Haines Junction and Whitehorse. I can say it’s been a lot of fun riding along with both couples and we’ve all enjoyed the time together after being solo for much of the trip.

    We rolled along until we made a stop for coffee, but Dave and Heather needed to keep going so we decided to reconnect at the Canadian Border Crossing a few miles ahead.

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    The weather was cold and grey, and the mountains we’d passed by when heading north now had fresh snow on top, obviously only a day or two old and drawing a near straight line across the mountains.

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    Kaschka and Fanda had been under some pressure as to their U.S. visas and were feeling the need to get into the U.S. as soon as possible to be able to get to Mexico if need be. They had come under a special program which allowed travelers from the Czech Republic to visit the U.S. for 90 days with no visa. Having shipped their bike from Asia to San Francisco, the clock had started ticking on arrival but they had then left the U.S. and gone into Canada then Alaska. They were unsure as to whether leaving the U.S. had qualified them to return again for an additional time upon re-entry or if the clock was still running. No one, including the Czech Government, could answer the question and Kaschka was very worried they wouldn’t have any time left in the U.S. when they got back to the lower 48.

    When we passed the U.S. Border Inspection station a few miles before the Canadian border, I told F&K to go on ahead and we’d ask for them. Kim and I pulled over and waited at the guard window a while until a frazzled officer finally came over. I explained their situation to him and he said that the language was written so that if a “significant” amount of time had passed with F&K out of the country it was possible to get another 90 days, however the interpretation of “significant” was entirely up to the individual officer at the border. Not much help but at least it was more than we’d known before.

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    When we finally made it to the Canadian crossing, the wait was short and the officer friendly, which was sort of a surprise. Pulled over to the side in the inspection area we saw Dave and Heather’s bikes parked. We pulled in next to them and waited, watching a Canadian officer spreading a grizzly bear skin on a table next to us. We hopped off to look at it and saw the pickup truck it had been removed from ahead, the two occupants standing next to it. The officer was nice and interested in both our bikes and trip and told us we could look at the bear skin. He held it up with the head and paws which were massive. Apparently the two guys were taking it back for their son who’d killed the bear and was a few hours behind them. He’d failed to give the drivers some paperwork and they were all waiting for his arrival.





    Kim texted Dave to let him know we were outside. He responded not to come in, as they were being questioned about Heather’s new bike. Heather is Canadian, the bike was in her name with Alaska plates and they wouldn’t be allowed in. Dave said it was intense and we should move on quickly... and definitely not come in.

    We took off for Haines Junction, worried for them and what they might have to do. Dave had originally considered putting the bike in his name as he has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada, however he felt that would cause serious issues in the other countries they were heading to in their world trek.

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    It was cold and late when we hit Haines Junction. F&K wanted to see if we could find another RV to split rather than camp due to the cold. Kim texted Dave and Heather to find out their status and we started Googling motels in the town. Shortly after, Kim got a text from Dave that they were just rolling into Haines Junction! We were stunned, and sure enough they rolled in behind us. It turned out that the customs officer had agreed to give them 6 days to get the bike out of Canada after a lengthy investigation. The original bill of sale was attached to Heather’s old bike at the Fairbanks dealer where it was to be shipped back to Washington and they had to prove purchase by going online and showing an online statement. The officer believed them and probably bent the rules a bit to let them in, but at least they weren't refused entry.

    However, that changed our plans to meet at Terrace, BC and ride dirt to Vancouver. Now they had to race through Canada as fast as possible and get out, or lose the new bike. We were all shocked at the results, as well as how fast they’d ridden to catch us that night. Sheesh!

    No accommodations were found that were reasonable, despite the fact tourist season was over, so we headed for Pine Lake Campground a few miles away for a cold night of camping.
  8. sandsman

    sandsman Shut up and ride!!!!

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    Excellent story telling.......you had me hanging on every word. Alaska in the summer of 2017 for me, solo trip up and back but my bride will fly up to optimize her time off. I can't wait.
    LoneStar likes this.
  9. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    It was early in the cold morning when I rolled out of the tent (literally) and began pulling things out of the bear box provided by the campground. Dave and Heather were already busy with breakfast and making plans for their ride south for the U.S. border.

    Fanda and Kaschka began making noises and I could hear Kim stirring in our tent as well. It was a bit grey and chilly as we each made our breakfast and prepared mentally for the day ahead.

    As we got the bikes loaded for the day, we all took a group photo and said our goodbyes before Dave and Heather took off in earnest for Whitehorse and further south.

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    The Hole in the Head Gang (courtesy of Heather)
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    At the road junction out of the campground we stopped to take a pic or two and sat longer than Kim’s battery liked. She’d been checking her messages and left the key on with all her running lights and headlight on. F&K had pulled out and ridden on, assuming we were behind them but Kim’s bike just did the “click, click, click” song. I got on the bike and luckily had a slight downhill slope, finally getting it bump started in 3rd gear on the last few feet of slope.

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    We raced after them and found them sitting by the roadside waiting, as we’ve all done on this trip. It’s been really nice being with such a cool couple.

    The ride to Whitehorse was uneventful, save for the cold air and fresh snows on the mountains ahead.

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    The Czech twins had a couch surfer set for their arrival, a guy they’d stayed with previously, and Kim had texted Mike, the rider we’d met at Bell II lodge on our way up through the Yukon and BC. Mike had told us to contact him when we came through as he had a place for us to stay and luckily he was in town. Mike is an avid motorcyclist, a fervent animal rights activist and drives a fuel truck between his motorcycle trips. He is a really nice guy.

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    He met us on his bike and led us to his cabin home that was unoccupied at the time. He got the wood stove going and after a while of conversation headed off. We appreciated his hospitality and agreed to meet up later that evening.


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    Mike is well known in the region - both loved and hated - but so loves wildlife and animals it was touching to hear of his efforts to save animals...
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    After a fantastic Chinese dinner we hit the sack, exhausted.




    (No animals were harmed in the making of this report... however some unidentified creatures may have been harmed in the making of the Chinese meal)
  10. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Kim and I awoke to the warmth of the wood stove, though with a bit of dry sinuses as the hot water kettle steaming on top had not lasted the night. We were to meet Fanda and Kaschka sometime in the morning before heading for the Continental Divide Lodge in the Yukon Territory. Since F&K have a non-working cell phone we have to rely on getting messages through FaceBook from them, and since we don’t always have cell or wifi available and we don’t know if they do at their host’s home, things can be sketchy. Our last communication had been to give them our location in the neighborhood but as the time slipped away and they hadn’t appeared we began to wonder. As we waited with loaded bikes well past our meet time, we assumed they had had an issue so we got on the bikes to hit the last place we’d parted, a McDonald’s where we’d gotten wifi previously.

    Just as we donned our gear to head on, they rolled up with big cheery smiles and greetings. They needed to hit a Walmart, as Kaschka’s sleeping pad had sprung a leak and they were going to look for another. We trekked over to Wally World and they went in while we hit the grocery store adjacent.

    When we came out, I saw F&K engaged in conversation with a well dressed man who was excited to be talking with them. As we got closer I could hear them conversing in Czech and laughing. Turns out the man was from the Czech Republic as well and was happy to see some compadres.

    The bikes were loaded and we squeezed in as much food as we could, dumping the packaging and combining things in the eternal quest to fit things on the bikes. It was grey and chilly as we topped off with gas and left Whitehorse in the grey and cold. My mind wandered to thoughts of Mexico and Kim and I laughed at the thought of staying in a small village and eating street food south of the border. Which was still a hell of a long ways away...

    The sun finally burned through and illuminated the beautiful countryside as we neared Johnson’s Crossing over the Teslin River. About 20 miles or so beyond the crossing, we blew past a van parked on the roadside with a couple standing nearby. As many of you know when you’re in the groove of making miles and in the flow you tend to be an observer and it takes a moment to connect thoughts. Kim and I simultaneously said, “Wow we need to stop and check on them” and slowed quickly, watching for trucks as we did a U turn on the Alcan and rode back. F&K saw us and followed a couple of minutes behind.

    As I pulled up to the bearded guy and asked if they were okay, he responded in broken English trying to describe a problem under the van. As I repositioned the bike to park and get off, Fanda pulled in on his bike and the man looked stunned and then turned to me speaking something in a foreign language. Fanda laughed and they began speaking in Czech to each other. He'd seen the Czech license plate and it was like a family reunion of slapping palms and laughing. Turns out the couple were from the Czech Republic as well and had been traveling in the U.S. and Canada for a while.

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    They crawled under the van and diagnosed two broken U-joint bearings before coming out with the broken pieces. We asked if they needed us to give them a ride or take them to the nearest phone, etc., but finally we decided that Fanda would take a broken bearing back to Johnson’s Crossing about 18 mies back to see if he could locate anything, and I would take the other to Teslin about 17 miles the other away and do the same.


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    Kim and Kaschka stayed with them as we split as fast as we could to scavenge parts. The agreement was for Fanda to call me from Kim’s phone and let me know what he’d found and vice versa. I rolled in to Teslin and went into a small store to see if there was a garage or mechanic in the little settlement. The clerk told me to find the junk yard a ways down the road which I did. I banged on the closed door to no avail and then wandered through the pile of cars and trucks to see if I could spot a similar van. I waited and waited, debating just grabbing my tools and trying to pull a u-joint and see if I got lucky. Then I thought about the owner with his angry junkyard dog and decided I’d better wait. As I got back on the bike to leave I saw a shaggy man with a 6-pack of beer walking up the road and acknowledging me. I got back off the bike as he walked into the lot staring at me a bit warily.

    I explained the situation and he told me he’d gone for beer because he had to rebuild a transmission and needed some calming force to help him. He was agreeable to helping find a couple of bearings but as we poked around the shop, similar to a hoarder’s heaven, I began to have serious doubts. Opening a grubby cabinet door and reaching under some paper he pulled out a single bearing matching the broken one perfectly. Another 15 minutes of digging produced nothing but a complete rusty unit which he then disassembled, destroying the needle bearings and then discovering it wasn’t the same size after all. Next we hit the junkyard looking for an F-350 and finally found a burned and rolled one, of course being complete EXCEPT for the rear end.

    I finally gave up, paid him for his work and took the lone bearing with me. I raced back in the hopes Fanda may have produced at least one on his end, figuring it was a lost cause but one never knew. My fears were founded as everyone’s excited and hopeful faces fell when I produced only one bearing. Fanda hadn’t found anything. The couple thanked us profusely for trying and began preparing to hitchhike back to Whitehorse to find the parts.

    We wished them good luck and travels and sped on for Teslin, where we took a break for coffee and to peruse the little museum before crossing the long, metal grate bridge we’d come across in the rain a few weeks before. Kim was a bit nervous after her memories of the crossing and the rising wind didn’t ease her mind. Sure enough when we got going for the bridge the damn wind came up in heavy gusts and we were blown around in addition to the usual "tire wandering tango" the grates produce. When we finally were across I started laughing at the chance that each crossing would be weirder than usual due to inclement weather. The Iron Butterfly didn’t think it was funny and told me so.







    From Teslin our goal for the night was to meet someone F&K had been contacted by at the Continental Divide Lodge and we hoped to get a tent spot there for the night.

    At a beautiful lake, Fanda slowed and turned in, TIB and I following and wondering what was up. When we pulled in there was a beautiful view of the lake and some hunters setting up camp for the night. They had bagged a caribou the day before and were finishing up the butchering as we arrived. We talked with them a bit and then Fanda told us that he and Kaschka had camped there in the same spot on the way north. More importantly, it was the spot where he had dropped to one knee and proposed to Kaschka a few weeks before. Despite the caribou head, it was indeed a beautiful place to propose to his love. We stayed as long as we could before feeling the need to beat the fading light to the Continental Divide Lodge.



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    When we finally arrived, a young guy walked over and introduced himself to us. Jacob was from the Czech Republic (W.T.F.!!!) and was in process of traveling around the globe on his Africa Twin. He’d found F&K on the internet and when he realized they were in Alaska he’d contacted them and asked them to come by. Seriously dudes, three encounters with other Czechia’s in one day in the Yukon. Has to be some kind of record...

    Turns out Jacob had stopped in for gas a month or two earlier and walked out with a job, staying and working to earn some money for his trip. Jacob introduced us to the owner, who made us a deal to stay in his RV for the night since it was getting very cold now. We jumped at the chance to have a warm spot and then ate a home cooked dinner in the little cafe.

    Events had turned such that Jacob’s job was ending just as we were coming through and this was his final night. A big bash was planned for the evening for his going away party and we sat around a roaring fire hearing stories from the locals as the night waned away.

    The next morning brought hot showers and repacking gear for the road. Today was to be a sad day, as Fanda and Kaschka would continue on the Alcan for Dawson Creek and then Alberta, joined for a while by Jacob as they all wanted to ride together. Our route was to take the Cassiar Highway south again for Vancouver and the lower 48, having enjoyed the beauty of that road immensely. Since Dave and Heather were no longer going to be able to meet us in Terrace, we weren’t sure which route we’d take home.

    As we packed up, an older Swiss couple driving one of the European expedition campers came over to visit. As we talked with them, Kaschka came out to Kim and I and handed us each a tortilla wrap filled with goodness for breakfast. She had been finishing up some of their food to lighten the load and had made us breakfast. As I looked down before biting I saw peanut butter oozing from the end and then disturbingly saw a kernel or two of canned corn mixed in. She was staring at me so I took a big bite only to discover that as well as peanut butter and canned corn, their was tuna fish and chopped up hot dogs in the mix. My mind shouted “HURL!”… but… amazingly my refined palate said “Hmmm not bad”. My mind screamed “HURL!!!!!” but my mouth continued eating, blanking out my mind as usual.

    I looked at Kim, who wore a fake smile but I could tell had spotted the tuna, peanut butter, corn and hot dog burrito mixture well before me. Amazingly she bit into it and then said “Wow that’s good.” Kaschka was happy and then started speaking in a form of German the Swiss use, to the Suisse woman. She broke into a big smile and they conversed while Kim and I struggled emotionally with what we’d just eaten.

    We were invited into the Swiss expedition camper and then they wanted to take pictures of us as we got ready to leave. Kaschka brought out another peanutbuttercorntunahotdog burrito for us, having used the last of their extra food and I struggled emotionally again for a few moments... Hurl? Ask for another? Decisions, decisions...

    [​IMG]



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    We all rolled out on Highway 1 for Watson Lake and the parting of ways, but we saw a gas stop at the junction of 37 and the Alcan and pulled in. We said our goodbyes and did our huggies, getting a final shot before they took off for Watson Lake. Kim and I hung around the gas station a bit, getting ready for the long trek south and feeling a bit sad for the leaving of Alaska, the Yukon and some of the best memories one could have.

    Kim played with the owner’s dog while I conversed with him about the trip. He told us over and over to get south as soon as possible as the snow was a day behind and there had been snow ahead. He also warned us that some gas stations would be closing soon.








    [​IMG]


    It was with sadness that we turned south for the long ride on the Cassiar, having been told by an RV’er that it was the most beautiful he’d ever seen it in 20 years of fall driving. Indeed the brilliant yellow colors and shimmering leaves against the mountainous backdrop took the mind away, but the silence in our headsets betrayed the sadness in leaving.


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    Our goal for the afternoon was to camp at Bell 2 Lodge, one of the few gas stops on the way and still far enough south to make us feel like we’d made some progress that day. Bell 2 Lodge was where we’d met our friend Mike from the Yukon, who’d told us on his ride down he’d counted 14 bears along the road. That same day another couple had told us they’d counted 19 along the same road.


    [​IMG]


    Kim was miffed at the lack of animals we’d seen on the trip and as the darkness was falling we were talking about it when suddenly, to my left I saw a moose and two calves running away from the road in a clearing. Another couple of miles down the road a black bear sat in a roadside clearing, probably hearing Kim’s shout of excitement and turning away. Not much further down the road sat another black bear on the roadside and as we slowed to watch him a car came around from behind us and stopped next to him, blocking our view and frightening him away. A bit further we were rewarded with yet another bear sitting on the roadside and this time we had a few moments to watch him waddle along, until we finally had to get moving and he ran into the brush.




    It turns out we were just a couple miles from the lodge and had finally seen some wildlife. It was sort of a fitting goodbye to the area. We decided to get a room as it had gotten very dark and cold and we were needing some real rest.
  11. SpiritAtBay

    SpiritAtBay Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    256
    Just wow. The adventures, the hello's, the farewells...
    LoneStar likes this.
  12. 230Rocket

    230Rocket Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    NSW Australia to McKinney, Texas
    '' ...peanutbuttercorntunahotdog burrito.'' I'm still rolling around laughing my head off, that has to be the funniest description of food tryout I have ever read! Pure gold!

    And as for the rest of it, I feel like I'M saying goodbye to your traveling companions with a tear in my eye, then on top of all that the fabulous pictures with those stunning color contrasts make it simply impossible to leave this adventure.

    Ride far
    Dean
    Uke and LoneStar like this.
  13. RidewithAB

    RidewithAB Just Ride! Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    428
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Awesome report,

    How do you snap the pictures while moving and keep the throttle going? I looked for a left handed camera so I could snap with my clutch hand, could not find one. Thanks
    LoneStar likes this.
  14. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,274
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    I've never seen a left hand camera but wish they'd make one sometimes... actually I use the left hand with my thumb under the body and my index and middle fingers over the top, holding the body with thumb and middle and using the index finger on the shutter button. My palm covers a big chunk of the screen.
    Although it may appear that I shoot a lot when riding, I actually don't. If I'm on a clear stretch and feel like the danger is minimized I occasionally do shoot a pic or two but I can't recommend doing it.

    What you might consider is making a rig like I had years ago - I mounted a small plastic tripod head off a cheap and cheesy tabletop tripod, attaching it to the back of a glove that had a rigid panel. I filed through most of the plastic of the head so that it would break away easily if I crashed. I had a small pocket camera that had a flash shoe and was able to fashion an old cable release to trigger the camera and then attached it to the top of my index glove finger where I could use my thumb on the cable release. It actually worked quite well though I couldn't zoom as it was on the back of my hand.
    Eventually I banged it against something reaching down and the mount broke away as designed. I never made another just cuz...

    Actually I think there is/was a neoprene wrist band for sale that had a camera attachment and that might be a better option to consider IF you can trigger your pocket cam with an electric or manual cable release...
    RidewithAB likes this.
  15. LookingHard

    LookingHard Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Oddometer:
    126
    Location:
    USA
  16. Dirt Road Cowboy

    Dirt Road Cowboy I aim to misbehave.

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,845
    Location:
    Tyler, Texas
  17. Uke

    Uke visualist Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2013
    Oddometer:
    5,632
    Location:
    HouTex USA
    A throttle lock (Flip-A-Lever) or on the later bikes an actual cruise control, can free the right hand for a while. I use the Flip-A-Lever on my AirHead to relax my throttle grip during long straight stretches, not recommended in the twisties.

    While I'm a proponent of primes on my DSLR and lately, Sony mirrorless, I think a high end point and shoot with a large file (shot in RAW) and quality zoom should be a reasonable one handed solution while underway.
    LoneStar likes this.
  18. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,274
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    We were awakened from a deep sleep far too early by a loud knocking at the door and a voice yelling “housekeeping!” at 7:30 in the morning. We were pissed as we’d been up late and knew checkout was at 11:00 am. Kim went for coffee to the main lodge and returned with an apology from the manager, as well as a free breakfast in the lodge restaurant. Woohoo!

    Indeed we chose some excellent selections from the menu and were treated like kings and queens, including a gift of fresh baked pastries as we left. Pretty cool as usually management doesn’t give a rat’s arse about customers.

    [​IMG]

    We loaded the bikes in the grey and headed south for the next gas stop at Meziadin Junction. On the way we discussed our options as to heading for the lower 48. Since Dave and Heather had to get south, we no longer had a plan as to what was next. One choice was to continue back to Prince George on 16 from Kitwanga and work down to Vancouver, or another option was to ride to Terrace and then possibly go to Prince Rupert and catch the ferry to Port Hardy on the north tip of Vancouver Island. The ferry would be an overnight trip and cost a bit, but would save a few days of travel and maybe get us ahead of the snows on our tail.

    We stopped at Meziadin Junction for gas and caught a cell signal. The call to the ferry brought bad news of being booked solid. We’d warmed to the idea of the ferry ride and the news wasn’t good, so we decided to take a back road to Terrace through the lava fields and then head east for Smithers.

    At the turn for the lava fields, the weather kicked up a bit with the temps dropping and heavy black clouds of rain to the west. We headed down the dirt and gravel road, wet from previous rain but in decent shape other than sections of muddy, water-filled potholes. We’d gone about 20 miles or so when Kim noticed her insulated water bottle was missing. I’d had to move the mount to a different spot on the 1200 and the mount had moved downwards, dumping the bottle somewhere along the way. Ahead the rain clouds looked dark and heavy and behind the pricey water bottle lay somewhere on the road. We decided to ride back until we found it and then reverse back west, however our ride took us all the way back to the Cassiar with no luck finding it. We figured a truck we’d passed had seen it and picked it up.



    Bummed, we started to head back west but I had a bad feeling we’d get into some serious weather and mud. We stopped to discuss our options as the day was waning and the weather wasn’t looking good. Since we’d had luck on standby for the Skagway Ferry, we decided to head for Prince Rupert and try our luck. If the ferry didn’t work out we’d have lost a day but that wouldn’t be a big deal and we’d have had a chance to see the town.

    We reversed back again to the Cassiar and eventually made the junction at Kitwanga where we grabbed some coffee and a piece of pie for a butt break. Topped off with gas and coffee we rolled west for Prince Rupert and hopes for a nice evening before trying the ferry early the next morning.


    [​IMG]


    As the time rolled by, the terrain and road became quite amazing and we enjoyed the ride though the rain as gray slowly enveloped us. The ride reminded us of the road into Stewart BC and Hyder AK, even more interesting however. The light was fading fast as the rains came and it was getting dark much earlier than usual. I told Kim there must be a big front moving in, and sure enough the rains intensified, the temps dropped and it started to get dark.

    About 40 miles from Prince Rupert I began getting gale warnings on the GPS and the rains continued. We didn’t get much wind as we rode along the water, but I still feared what we might run into. The road was stunning but offered no turn outs or roadside areas where one could seek shelter if the winds and gale did hit. It was cold and wet, and our heated jacket liners were worth their weight in gold.



    As we neared Prince Rupert, darkness came and the heavy rain didn’t lighten. In addition, fog and low clouds made the final few miles in a real stressful time. In the sheets of rain we finally saw some lights ahead, including the glowing gold of McDonald’s arches. Hot coffee sounded great, as well as wifi to look for a motel, since the pouring rain ended any thoughts of camping for damn sure.

    As we searched online, I Googled "Prince Rupert” only to find it was the rainiest town in all of Canada. I laughed, as we’d had nothing but rain at every port city we’d gone to in Alaska and had been hoping for a beautiful sunny ferry ride. The motel right behind Mickey D’s proved to be the cheapest in town and it was only a block away. Kim had surreptitiously brought in a couple of cans of food and we dined on green beans and an Angus Burger, washed down with hot coffee.

    Finally getting into a room in the curry scented motel, we spread out soaked gear from one end to the other and turned out the lights, listening to the roar of rain out the windows.
    sophijo, moment, Mudclod and 3 others like this.
  19. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,274
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    The sound of rain was the first thing heard in the morning as I came to life in the darkness of the musty room. Amazingly all our gear had actually dried out, but it was a shame to put it all back on and walk out fully dressed into pouring rain. The bikes started and warmed up, the BMW purr such a now comfortable part of our lives.

    We found the turn to the ferry backed up with cars, a disheartening sight and sat in the line for a few minutes until I saw a way to squeeze out and into the terminal lot.

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    Kim stayed in the line until I finally figured out where to go, parking alongside the entry and walking in to stand in the interior line dripping wet. Eventually I got to the window where the stern acting lady behind the counter suddenly warmed, telling me there’d be no problem going standby with the two bikes. In a few minutes we had our tickets and made the line, only waiting a short time before rolling into the ferry hold first in line! Woohoo!






    As they strapped the bikes down, Kim bailed and grabbed our sleeping bags and mats, taking off to find a spot before the rest of the crowd could. After making sure everything was kosher with the bikes, I wandered up the stairs and eventually found The Butterfly with a couple of window seats reserved. We left our gear and wandered about, waiting for the ferry to get going in the rain and mist.

    [​IMG]

    The time spent on board was fun, wandering out on the decks until the wind and cold drove us back in, sitting in the cafeteria and drinking coffee, lounging in the chairs and watching the mist shrouded mountains slide past in our socks. It felt great to know we had nothing to do except to do nothing.

    Twice we spotted a whale, a first for each of us and it was exciting to see.

    [​IMG]

    As I walked up onto a deck, a door opened in front of me and I almost walked straight into a guy. He smiled and said “I’ve been following your ride report on Advrider and recognized you two.” We shook hands and officially introduced ourselves. “AKJerry” was his Advrider handle and I told him we’d get a coffee or something later on. (Unfortunately it didn't happen :( Jerry if you read this I owe you a coffee bro!)


    [​IMG]

    Kim wandered into the movie theater with a glass of wine, while I went back to the car deck for something. A huge guy was near the bike and began talking to me about bikes and riding, telling me of his many trips to Ecuador where he would rent a motorcycle and travel the mountain roads. He had a heavy British accent and size-wise he dwarfed me. In his old Land Rover sat a huge St. Bernard who dutifully watched us talking. We talked several times that evening, he sharing that he was a mortician on Haida Gwaii island and escaped to Ecuador as much as he could for motorcycle adventures...


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    I wandered back and found myself in the theater with Kim, watching the remainder of a movie about Stephen Hawkings life.

    Eventually we found the upper floor deck to be open and set up our sleeping pads and bags for the night. A few others eventually came up as well. As we finally laid down to get some sleep, the ferry began pitching side to side enough to roll me off my side sleeping position. Kim had fallen asleep but I got up and stared out the windows into the darkness, barely able to see whitecaps on the water below until I got sleepy again and laid down.

    [​IMG]

    The night was a fitful one, sleep constantly interrupted by people wandering up and loudly setting up to sleep or talking. It was a difficult night to say the least and I dreaded getting up and dreaded trying to sleep.


    [​IMG]


    I finally couldn’t stand it and went for coffee, but the cafeteria was closed until 7 am so I wandered around a while and upon returning found a line of about 50 or 60 Germans waiting dutifully at the door. I gave up and headed back to start packing up my sleeping gear. After doing so, I returned for coffee to find the line even longer. I gave up again and woke up Kim to get our gear together. After packing a bit more I went down and found the line gone, excitedly grabbing a coffee cup and pulling the handle to fill it. Yep. No coffee and none in sight. Just then the loudspeaker came on and announced that the car deck was open and for everyone to begin loading. Life sucks.

    Anyway, we got downstairs quickly and as we were loading the bikes, several German tourists began gathering around Kim. They were supposed to be loading onto the bus next to us but instead were excited to see a woman riding a BMW. They talked with her in broken English and it was a lot of fun. One woman began to tell Kim what it was like to have been in East Germany and how much freedom meant to her how. Tears came to her eyes as did they to Kim's. They all wished us well and wanted to take pictures, so I told them to group together for a shot for us to remember them.


    [​IMG]


    We were dressed and ready to leave, but the bikes were still strapped down and I was about to unbuckle them myself when a worker yelled at me to go ahead and undo the straps. I did and we fired up as the doors opened, riding off onto the ramp and into Port Hardy.

    Emotions were mixed, as in one overnight trip we had left one world and re-entered a much more mundane and crowded one...
  20. sandsman

    sandsman Shut up and ride!!!!

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,385
    Location:
    Greenville, Tx
    You have been quiet, hope all is well.
    TheIronButterfly and LoneStar like this.