Two guys, two bikes, and 11,000 miles from VA to AK and back.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by phreakingeek, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    Day 15 7/6/2019
    Start: 9:30am Dease Lake BC
    Stop: 7pm Old Hazleton, BC
    Total: 425mi

    Rode a lot more of Hwy 37 and 37A to Hyder AK (if the NJ guys said it was a must ride, I'm not going to argue). 37A through the mountains and along the water was truly stunning. We passed glaciers, clear blue lakes and ponds, and rode a bunch of fun curves. It started out cool, but got up to 87F and pretty steamy with humidity.

    We stopped at the Bell 2 Lodge for lunch...(had the beef sandwich of course 6/10 score. It wasn't bad but it was a little overpriced and had some trendy micro greens or something on it, too up-town for me.) While we were there we met another couple riders from the UK who were making their way around the world. They'd already ridden through Asia and were now treking through Canada heading South. Pete Foley and Caroline Nunn (I think that's the correct spelling) were a lot of fun to chat with and hearing their stories. But we had to keep rolling so we said our good-bye's and hit the road. We were both pretty humbled hearing about Pete and Caroline's travels. They are some hardcore ADV riders. I friended Pete on facebook and I see he made his way down Baja and is now in Central America.

    We passed through Stewart on our way to Hyder. There is still some logging going on using the water to move the trees. It was like we went back 100 years seeing them floating and the little barge boats they use to move them around.

    We lucked out and found a really nice campground. Ksan Campground in Old Hazleton, BC was fairly inexpensive and had nice amenities. Only drawback was that they had pay showers which only took loonies. We had to ask our neighbors to make change for us to get more than a 5min shower. It started raining right as we were making dinner and it was cozy with Eric and I sharing an umbrella.

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    #41
  2. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    Day 16 7/7/2019
    Start: 10:30am Old Hazleton, BC
    Stop: 5pm Prince George, BC
    Total: 446mi

    Started out the day a little overcast and our tents were wet from overnight rains. We took out time getting packed up so the sun could dry the tarp and rainfly's. We enjoyed the laid back atmosphere around the campground...lots of people but all quiet and easy going. There appeared to be a large church youth group staying there as well. I overheard some conversation and it sounded like they were doing some sort of mission trip nearby. All of the kids were nice and polite...but when they ran out of shower money they were using the sinks to wash up. LOL

    The ride was more excellent curves on nice pavement. We opted to take back roads and see as much as we could since we still had plenty of time before we got to Seattle. After battling the flies and mosquitoes for a couple weeks, we decided to stop and pick up a ThermoCell. Eric's brother is an avid hunter/camper and said it's the best. So we made our first stop at a Canada Tire. We thought it would be like Walmart...but there were some differences...but the people were very similar to what we're used to.

    We stopped for lunch in a tiny town where the options were pretty limited. We thought it was a diner, but turned out it was a Chinese food restaurant. I don't usually have any issues with regular Chinese food, but this was pretty greasy and not good.

    Eric found us a hotel in Prince George and when we got there, it was very nice. We were going to eat at the lobby restaurant, but it was some sort of gastro pub with stuff that sounded awful. Luckily the hotel next door had a couple very nice restaurants and we opted for the sushi place. Man o man, that was a good call. We ate a lot and had a great time til we shut the place down.

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    #42
  3. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    Day 17 7/8/2019
    Start: 8:30am Prince George, BC
    Stop: 7:30pm Vancouver, BC
    Total: 525

    After a nice meal and sleeping in real beds, we were up and going fairly early. It was overcast and looked like it rained a little overnight. We normally park pretty close together so we can use my Kelty tarp to cover both bikes in case of rain

    While packing our stuff on the bikes, we noticed some odd stuff. Eric's GSA storage pocket on his gas tank was open and empty and the flip up tab on my tank key hole was up. After folding up the Kelty and looking for the storage bag, I realized it was missing. That was the only thing that was left unsecured on my bike. Looks like during the night someone had reached up under the tarp and tried to open and steal anything they could get their hands on. Luckily my GPS and hard cases were all locked and we had removed all of the other bags and put them in the room. It was a bit shocking since we were parked behind the hotel, but less than 20 feet from the door. In the last 4 years, I've been on a lot of ride trips and clocked at least 60k miles...this was the first time I've had any stolen off my bike. So, if you stop overnight in Prince George BC...make sure you secure your stuff and park in a place with plenty of visibility.

    On to the ride...
    We left town and rode almost directly south on Highway 97 through a lot of scenic forest and countryside. The terrain changes a few times from heavy trees to grassland and there's a bit of elevation change throughout the day. We noticed right away that the temps were a lot warmer than up north. The temps would rise warmer much earlier in the morning and stayed hot til after sundown.

    We stumbled into a little town called Quesnel and decided to get gas. We were having some difficulty with the card locks for a few days...they seemed to be hit or miss with different cards we were using. We also had to try a couple different stations to find anything above 87 octane. While filling the tank, we saw signs for a coffee shop that sounded interesting. So we decided that since we had plenty of time, we'd check it out. We wandered around the old dowtown area for a bit and parked in a lot with a tiny sign for the shop...and ajoining the lot for a Tim Hortons. I was pretty tired of Tims so we wandered to the sketchy looking door for Granville Coffee. There was a dude unloading boxes so we asked if we could go in and he walked us inside. Turns out, that was a the back door and he was the owner Ted...he escorted us through a bustling kitchen filled with fresh baked pastry's and bread with a kitchen full of people making eggs/bacon/sandwiches and everything else. Once we got to the restaurant, we were blown away. We opted to walk around and move our bikes to the parking spot in front. Once we ordered (and Eric found some tasty non-gluten stuff) we both were in love with this shop. The ambiance, friendly staff, amazing food, and customers was great. Wish we had a place like this back home.

    Once back on the road, we travel a while along a river and came up to standstill traffic due to an accident. We opted to bail onto Canada Highway 1 and rode through some more national parks and along the Fraser River.

    We were initially going to stop for the night in Vancouver, but ended up not liking the city too much. Lots of traffic, noise, and it was kind of jarring our senses after a few weeks traveling. We decided that since we still had a lot of daylight, we would cross the border and find something else. We heard there would be a long backup to cross the border, but turned out to be about 15 minutes to cross. We found a campsite at a KOA in Lynden, WA. It was pretty full of RV's and campers, but we had a killer site right down at the shore of a nice pond. We made camp and enjoyed a tasty dinner.

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    #43
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  4. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    Day 18 7/9/2019
    Start: 10am Lynden, WA
    Stop: 8:15pm Winthrop, WA via Seattle and Cascades Park
    Total: 300mi

    So, we got a bit of a late start since we decided to use the water hose at the campground to wash our bikes. We had about 3000 miles of dirt and bugs to remove...so it ended up taking about an hour to get stuff mostly clean. Met a guy who was a rider but camping with the family in an RV. He and his brother both had a couple small 250 dualsports and he wanted to hear all about our adventures. He was from southern California and had dreams of doing some ride trips too.

    We made our way down to Seattle and stopped at BMW of Seattle. It was not quite what I expected...almost looked like someone's house that had big display windows put in the front. But once you go inside, it's three levels of showrooms full of bikes, gear, and the bottom level with the service department. I found my way to the service manager and asked about tires...and if they could fit me it. The tire selection was a little thin, but they did have a set of TKC 70's to fit my bike and he said he could squeeze me into their schedule that morning. So I dropped off the bike and we went up the street to a tiny mom and pop Mexican restaurant for lunch (Senior Villa). After some amazing food and nearly in a coma, we went back to the shop. Eric was trying to get some sort of resolution for damage due to defect on his new helmet while I waited for them to finish up my bike. Didnt take but another 30 minutes and I was ready to roll. Eric was not able to get a new face shield from the shop, but Andrew at Arai Support did offer to send replacements to his house back in VA. Not what he'd hoped for, but still a good outcome. But, the best news Eric had all week was the order for his Beadrider was delivered and he now had his own ass beads for the ride home.

    So, with everything done by noon that we had hoped to accomplish...we had a full afternoon to kill. We decided to take a ride around the Cascade Loop. We got to experience some nice mountains, forest, curves, rain, fog, cold, hot, desert...that ride had it all. Our Mexican lunch was running low, so when we saw signs for Taco Tuesday at a place called Methow Cider house, we knew what we had to do. We stopped in and enjoyed an awesome dinner at the cider house and it was a really cool place. Great staff and the place was packed with people having a good time. We found a campground about 10 miles down the road on Highway 20. We passed a lot of cool shops and stuff in the town of Winthrop but it was fairly late and they were all closed for the night. Looked like a nice place to visit and wander around for a while.

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    I'm sure I have a lot more pics of this day...but this was the only one I see on the card for that day. Weird...
    #44
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  5. Moto-Kafe

    Moto-Kafe Gnarly Entre-manure Supporter

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    Prince George thievery...........not the first RR I have read with the same experiences. Seems like I remember someone saying there is a huge drug problem there.........just what I read, no factural data. Winthrop, Wa ..........neat little town with wooden walkways (sidewalks)......I camped at a nearby KOA back in 2003. Leavenworth, Wa is fun too (I may be jumping ahead in your RR....if you went thru there)........Scandinavian Swiss Village style town. Lots of Festivals.

    A++ on your RR here.........short and sweet write-ups, outstanding pics........... :beer
    #45
  6. DukeMButu

    DukeMButu Minister of Culture

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    Good write!

    It appears we passed one another on the Dalton. I arrived at Prudhoe the night of the 3rd of July after riding through the rain you mentioned. Thanks to a surprise invite from the gang at Colville Fuel I spent another day in Prudhoe celebrating the Fourth of July. All in I spent five days on the Dalton and while it was VERY expensive, was well worth the extra time and money as there is far more to see than a world-class collection of potholes and washboards.

    Did you encounter the Motoquest pack? Great eclectic bunch of riders.

    If anyone is a National Parks Passport stamp collector, the two hardest to get are available at the Yukon RIver camp and at the Gates of the Arctic Centre in Coldfoot.
    #46
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  7. Barry

    Barry Just Beastly

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    GETTING. IT. DONE. Very nice. Sooooo jealous. Good luck, be safe.
    #47
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  8. GISdood

    GISdood Been here awhile

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    Unfortunately, with the rise in the homeless population over recent summers, this is a pretty common problem in the downtown and developed areas of Prince George - which irritates me to no end. Its a huge blemish on the community and a real problem for tourists, residents and business owners alike. Its actually the sole focus of a series of town hall meetings this month that the city has no choice but to address with recent events in the downtown shopping area, specifically.

    That being said, if you ever do come through PG again and need a place to crash, I'm about 10min west of downtown, outside city limits, on acreage, and I've never had anything 'walk away' from my property in the 14 years I've been there... so hit me up and I'll do my best to improve the city's reputation! ;)
    #48
  9. thadf

    thadf Been here awhile

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    Great report and cool pics, eh?!!

    #49
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  10. Gerharz14

    Gerharz14 Adventurer

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    Awesome RR so far, a ride to AK from WI is on my to do list in the next few years. Lurking around here for RR's like this and to read,read,read before I start planning.
    #50
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  11. sstracke

    sstracke Been here awhile

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    I noticed the Hilleberg Unna on the posting for June 23. How did that work for you on a long trip? I used a Kaitum 3 on my trip to Alaska/Canada, and loved the space. But, I've got an Unna for backpacking, and have only used it for weekend moto-camping trips. The Unna doesn't have a lot of space for gear, but sure packs up small.
    #51
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  12. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    The Unna is a fantastic tent for this kind of trip. It took me some trial and error to figure out how to adjust things to get good airflow for the outside temps...but once I did, it's nice. My only complaint is that I like tents with a vestibule and I miss that with the Unna. I know you can make room by unclipping part of the inner tent, but it's fairly small and once you do that, it's pretty cramped inside. Most of the time I would put my riding gear and boots on the bike and cover with my Kelty Noah tarp, seemed to work just fine that way.

    #52
  13. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    Day 19: 7/10/2019
    Start: 8am Winthrop, WA
    Stop: 2pm Seattle, WA
    Total: 250ish miles

    As we were touring around sight seeing to kill some time, we got on the road to finish up the Cascade Loop. We headed south on Hwy 20 to 97 and then West on Hwy 2. We rode through some hot dry areas which was a bit surprising after the cold wet rainforest up in the mountains the day before. First time in quite a while where we saw terrain that was arid desert. We left the hot and dry behind when we rode back into the forest and going over the mountains. It was cold and wet again for that stretch.

    We rode through a couple small towns and decided to stop and get out of the rain and get some lunch. It was tough trying to find something to eat that wasnt a chain restaurant. Ended up at a small teriyaki place in a strip mall. My food was ok, but Eric wasn't sure that they understood 'gluten free'. As we were gearing up to head out, we chatting in the parking lot with some locals. They were all very nice and recommended a few places to stop...but the rain wasn't letting up to make us feel too welcome.

    We did make a stop or two on the way to hike and see some waterfalls. One of the stops had some porta-johns that looked like they were painted inside using a stick of dynamite in a 5gal bucket of shit. I needed to go, but we kept rolling to find something that wouldn't give me dysentery (learned the dangers of dysentery from Oregon Trail back in the early 80's...guess video games are good for something).

    Once back to the West side of the mountains, we hopped onto I5 to head north. Since my family was flying in for a wedding, I booked a hotel in Lynnwood for the night. We got to the hotel and turns out the website had booked us 7 days into the future, not for the night. Took over an hour on the phone to get it straightened out and didnt get killed with fees to reschedule. (turns out, this was a big problem on the Expedia site and they ended up refunding me for that night due to their mistake)

    We wandered over across the street to eat at a Korean Bingsoo restaurant. I had some sort of macha toast with bean paste and Eric had a big shaved ice thing with lots of fruit and stuff. It was pretty tasty, but not sure I'd go back.

    I didnt get many pics from this day, so I'm posting up a couple from Eric.
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    #53
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  14. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    Days 20-26 spent with family in Seattle and Vancouver...rental car, not riding. IMG_20190715_131648.jpg IMG_20190715_162708.jpg IMG_20190715_181336.jpg DSCN6100.JPG DSCN6101.JPG DSCN6102.JPG DSCN6103.JPG DSCN6113.JPG DSCN6114.JPG DSCN6136.JPG DSCN6141.JPG DSCN6145.JPG DSCN6148.JPG DSCN6158.JPG
    #54
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  15. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    Day 27 7/17/2019
    Start: 1pm Lynnwood, WA
    Stop: 12 midnight Butte, MT
    Total: 600mi

    Well, it was a long long day. Dropped my wife off at the airport to fly home to VA and returned the rental car. Took an Uber back to my sister-in-laws house to get my gear and bike. Got everything packed up and on the road by 1pm. I was hoping for some clear skies and roads, but Washington didnt share my vision. I had rain and traffic getting out of the Seattle area. Once over the mountains and heading East, the weather was a bit nicer and I enjoyed being back on the bike and heading home.

    Stopped for a late lunch at Hammer Lane burger and BBQ. Got their BBQ sampler platter and it was truly terrible. I could have made better BBQ cooking with a microwave and a bottle of ketchup. I did have a great conversation with the guy who rang me up. Turns out he's a rider and we talked about bikes and riding for about half an hour.

    Since the weather was nice and I was in a groove, I kept riding and tried to get a room in Missoula, but ended up not finding a hotel until I got to Butte, MT.

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    #55
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  16. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    Day 28 7/18/2019
    Start: 8am Butte, MT
    Stop: 10pm Rapid City, SD
    Total: 620mi

    Had a fantastic day riding today!

    Weather was perfect, clear and sunny. Warm, but not brutally hot. Started the day with a tasty breakfast and got on the road after filling the tank and headed East. After about 30 miles, I wanted to take a pic and realized i didnt have my camera. That was right about the time I remembered setting my camera on the dresser in the room and I couldnt remember picking it up again. So I made a U-turn and went back. I was expecting to have a conversation with the receptionist and see if they would give me a key after being checked out for over an hour. But as I was standing in line, a lady from the cleaning crew came and handed my camera to the receptionist. I piped up that I was in that room and left the orange nikon, so I got it back without issue.

    I decided to do a little sightseeing on my route so I made a point to go and see Devils Tower, Sturgis, and Mount Rushmore. I'd been by before, but this time I stopped to walk around a bit.

    I got to Mount Rushmore pretty late and I lucked out that I was there just in time for the Lighting Ceremony. That was quite a nice presentation and I'm very glad I got to see it.

    After leaving the ceremony, I had a room booked in Rapid City...but my Nav V started acting up and wouldnt power on. Luckily I was able to use my phone to navigate to the hotel. After a wait, I finally got my key and headed to the room. It was a large property that appeared to have been 4 or 5 hotels at one time and now all under one company. My building was about half mile away and when I got to it, it looked like it was in the middle of a renovation. all the furniture was in disarray and a total mess. I had to go back to the front desk to get another room...it was past midnight before I was in bed.

    Even with the room issue, still a truly awesome day. DSCN6180.JPG DSCN6182.JPG DSCN6185.JPG DSCN6192.JPG DSCN6197.JPG IMG_20190718_205632.jpg IMG_20190718_211119.jpg IMG_20190718_222022.jpg
    #56
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  17. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    Day 29 7/19/2019
    Start: 8am Rapid City, SD
    Stop: 11:30pm Tomah, WI
    Total: 675mi

    Long day in the saddle today...but got to spend some time in the Badlands. I rode by a few years back but didnt stop on that trip. So, it's been calling to me ever since. I wanted to go through last year, but ended up taking a different route...so this was the year I made a point to go.

    As i was packing up my gear, a guy walked up to me in the hotel parking lot. We chatted for a while and he was just finishing up his ride trip. He and a buddy trailered their bikes in so they could ride all over SD. They'd come through the Badlands National Park the day before and had their park pass. So he gave me the pass which was still good and I got to use it to go in and ride through the park. It was everything I had hoped for. It was rugged and beautiful...well, maybe not to some folks, but I think it looks amazing. I rode a couple gravel roads around the park, but didnt want to get into anything too gnarly being solo and needing to get home in a couple days.

    Nav started working again, so I was happy to have my comms connected and able to play music again.

    I did have a few issues with my EZ Pass working so I spent about an hour at a rest stop trying to get logged into their site and figure it out. I finally gave up and just used the cash lanes the rest of the trip.

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    #57
  18. phreakingeek

    phreakingeek Big Ear Inc - Virginia Provider Super Supporter

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    Day 30 7/20/2019
    Start: 6:40am Tomah, WI
    Stop: 12:30am Stafford, VA
    Total: 958mi

    So, I know I've said that "this was a long day..." before, but this was the longest day of the trip. I decided that I didnt want another night in a hotel bed or another hotel breakfast...so I made a push to ride until I got home. Almost IBA worthy mileage on the last day.

    Weather was sunny, hot, cool, rainy...had it all on this day. Most of the ride was great, no drama just easy miles on the interstate. I did hit some construction (well, who doesnt going through IL and PA?) and some traffic in Chicago and Pittsburgh. But it was sure nice to roll into my own driveway and walk inside. It was less than a week since I saw my wife, but it was different when I walked in and saw her back at home.

    I didnt take any ride pics...not much to see on the interstate going by at 80mph.

    so, here's a pic of me packed up the day I left...as you can see, I didnt leave much at home.

    I also added a few souvenirs to my panniers...I'm a sucker for trip stickers, they dont take up any room and I love it when people come ask me about them while I'm getting fuel or something. Always fun to talk about a trip or hear from others when they went to the same place. FB_IMG_1575161696132.jpg FB_IMG_1575161714291.jpg IMG_20190622_061913.jpg
    #58
  19. Gatornation

    Gatornation Ayatollah of Rock n Rolla

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    Great pictures. Looks like a totally great experience. The landmarks, monuments, terrain, and riding conditions constantly changing. That was the trip of a lifetime to be sure. Thanks for sharing, I truly live vicariously through you. Can't wait for the next one.
    #59
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