AK -> MN Day 1 Top of the World Highway

Dateline July 12, 2017

Day 1 of the return trip from Alaska.  Near Ivory Jacks, Goldstream Road, Fairbanks.  Kickstands up at 06:20.  The forecast the night before was for mostly sunny skies, but this morning we were riding under heavy clouds and and threat of light rain.  Normally this would not be of concern, but I am hoping to ride the Top Of the World Highway today, and it would not be as much fun in the rain.

July 12 route mapI didn’t put on the helmet cam since it was so cloudy and foggy, but the ride was still beautiful (except the 60 miles north of Tok which is kinda boring).

The area north of Delta Junction is prime moose habitat and shortly after I reminded myself of that, we spotted a cow and her calf, plus a pair of young moose. No chance for pictures since they were all close together and the cow was too close to the road for comfort.

We ran into some bridge construction but the delay was very short.  Otherwise, this section of highway from Fairbanks to Tok is pretty nice.  Just like any highway in the Lower 48

We stopped for an early lunch at Fast Eddie’s in Tok, AK, to plan our meet up on Thursday. Our lunch was pretty good, and the forecast now looked better for our area, though it was still quite cloudy.  I was hopeful that I would not meet rain on my leg of the day’s journey.

Our route takes us about 12 miles out of Tok to Tetlin Junction, where we split up, with me taking the top of the World (TOW) Highway to Dawson, and Jack riding the Alcan to Destruction Bay on Lake Kluane.  We’ll meet up again on the 13th, in Whitehorse.  We decided to meet at Earl’s Restaurant in Whitehorse, where we had eaten on our way up to Alaska.  It’s a known location that we can both find.  ETA: 13:30 on Thursday the 13th.

I was a little nervous about the TOW Highway, but figured it would be OK. What the heck, old guys riding Harleys make it, so can I.  The road conditions were better than expected. I knew most of it was paved to Chicken, and while there were numerous frost heaves and rough pavement, it wasn’t too bad.

But I ran into gravel about 10 miles before Chicken, and heavy road construction the last 3 miles.The flagger waved me to the front of the line, and I did my best to keep up in the mushy gravel. At one point I thought she pulled over and we were through, but she was just stopping. When I started to pass she got pretty excited. I felt dumb. Oh well, I got back in place and followed to the end.

The road into old Chicken was near the end of the construction zone, so I missed it. Shoot. We’ll anyway, I stopped in the Chicken RV site and got gas. I guess I didn’t want to linger there long anyway.

The first five miles out of chicken were rough to. Big belly dumps hauling gravel from up the highway always. They really beat up the road. I usually rode at 25mph.Got used to it after awhile, and was able to cruise at 35-40 mph.

The scenery was by far the best I have ever experienced in my whole life. It was a chore to keep my eyes on the road, but also a life preserving necessity. I took lots of video.

Nine miles before the border we were treated to a stretch of new pavement. What a treat that was.  Then once in the Yukon, the gravel road got a little better. It was more like a packed clay surface. I was able to ride a lot of this at 50 mph.

I shot a lot of video, stopped for some pictures, and just took in the awesome sights. Holy cow, was this ever beautiful.  The road follows an ancient mountain ridge line, high above the surrounding eroded mountains, with long views to the right and left as I passed along its length.  It was so neat to see the ribbon of road ahead of me on the ridge as a moved Northeast along the route.  I tried to capture it on video, but you really have to be there to experience it.

The TOW ended at the bank of the Yukon River…literally. I had to ride a ferry across. We waited for 15 minutes and when I rode aboard, I was waved to the front and had an wonderful view of the trip. I was also the first one off.

(Disregard the date stamp on the video–my camera defaults to that date whenever I switch batteries, and it;s putsy to reset it, especially when there are mosquitoes on the feed.)

 

Room at Dawson BunkhouseI checked into my room at the Bunkhouse, which is a no frills true bunk house.  I had a small room with balcony access, a nice bed, a small table/dresser and a chair.  It had power for charging my device batteries, and a shared toilet/shower facility.  I knew this going in, and it was clean and reasonably priced for what it was, so I was happy with it.

Downtown Hotel, Dawson City, YT

Dawson’s Downtown Hotel

 

After getting settled in, I needed a beer and something to eat.  I had heard about the Downtown Hotel and its piano player, so I had to check it out.  It was kinda early, (about 6:30pm) so it wasn’t very busy yet.  But, they piano guy was doing his magic.  I had a beer and enjoyed the show.  I did my part and dropped some cash in the tip bucket too.

I was tired from the long ride today, and wanted to see some of the sights and get a bite to eat.  I asked some locals for a recommendation for good non/bar food, and they recommended Klondike Kate’s.  It was a busy little place, but since I was dining alone, I was able to get a small table in the corner.  I was attempting to stay close to my low carb diet so I had a burger (sans bun) with mushrooms, a great salad, and some veggies.

I was told that my visit to Dawson would not be complete without a stop at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s casino, so, I decided to check it out.  It looked kinda fun, so and got a ticket to the show which was good for either performance of the evening.   Since i was planning to leave Dawson early in the morning, I decided to gas up before the show.  Gas stations tend to close early, and I did not want to risk it.

The show at Diamond Gerties  was an old time dance hall show and was kinda cute..  You can see a video here (not mine, but it’s representative of what I saw).


 

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Day 5 Prince George BC to Hyder AK (Stewart BC)

Rise and Shine.  We’ve got a lot of miles ahead of us today, so we were up at 5am for a quick shower, and on the road at 6am.  Our AirBNB host was not awake, so we never did get to meet him, but the place was decent and at $40 Canadian, we certainly had no complaints!

Route Prince George to Hyder Today’s ride take us to Hyder Alaska.  Well, actually we’ll be staying in Stewart BC, which shares a border with Hyder.  Hyder is the farthest southern point of Alaska that you can drive to, and just a short ride off the Cassiar highway to get there.  The temperature was 56°F, which is the warmest start so far on the trip.

The ride this day was over 430 miles, beginning with a long jaunt on the Yellowhead Highway (TransCanada 16) to its junction with BC 37, also known as the Cassiar Highway.

The highway out of Prince George was not busy at this time of day, so traffic was light, and despite a little road construction at the outset, the highway was pretty good.  I did not know what to expect of the scenery on this day, and I anticipated more of the look that we had approaching Prince George – huge valley with farm lands and mixed forest.  But this was a lot more like the Northeastern Minnesota.  This went on for about an hour and a half. and then we got into a valley with the tall mountains on the distant sides again. I was not expecting the gorgeous views today.  In fact, it was a real treat with the tall snowy peaks on the distant horizon.

Wildlife Corridor Sign

Despite seeing signs like this one all along the road this day, we saw very little.

We hoped to see some wildlife on this section of the trip and were encouraged by the signs that suggested we might see elk, moose and deer.

We did see a few deer in the ditch, and as we got closer to our desitnation, we started seeing bear, but none of the species shown on the sign.  Oh well, we had a long ways to go and hopefully we’ll see something later.

I had read that this section of the road provided the greatest challenge for getting gasoline for the motorcycles.  Our capacity was only 5 gallons, and each of us had a small plastic gas can, which we filled up on this day when we headed out.  We stopped in Burns Lake BC for gas, and figured we could make it to Kitwanga for our next fuel stop and lunch.  But on the way, we stopped at the tourist info center in Hazelton and got a map of the Cassiar highway and fuel stops along the road.  Our fears about fuel availability were waylaid, as long as we did not pass any up.

We left the Yellowhead Highway at Kitwanga, and headed north on BC 37 towards Mezadian Junction.  About 40 miles out, we came across a couple of motorcycles pulled over on the Southbound side of the road.  The lead guy’s back tire had started to delaminate, and he was worried about making it to the next town.  We let them know how far it was, and asked if he needed a ride or a follow along.  The other guy there was going his way, and was going to follow him.  It looked like if they took it slow, the tire might make it.  It was a good reminder to check tires every time we stopped.

We saw several black bear on this day, it got to be so frequent that we didn’t even slow down to look.  Most were younger bear, and were grazing in the ditch at the edge of the woods.  We also saw a couple of small deer in the ditch, but they were not crossing.  given the time of year, it was probably not realistic to expect to see a moose or elk or caribou.

We reached  Meziadin Junction at about 4:30 pm under a light drizzle.  This is where we take BC 37A West to Stewart and Hyder.  It’s about 61 KM of the most scenic mountain highway on the trip so far.  It starts with a view of Meziadin  Lake and the coastal mountains on the horizon of the winding road. I wish the skies had been sunny, but even in the light sporadic rain, it was still a sight to be seen.

We reached Stewart about 6pm as we stopped several times to gawk at bear, beautiful rivers, glaciers and mountain views.  A RCMP officer was fueling up his truck at the station where we got gas, and he told us about a community celebration in Stewart tonight.  We thanked him and headed to check into our motel, the King Edward.  It has two buildings, the main Hotel and a motel building across the street.  We were in the latter.  Nothing fancy, but a clean place with comfortable beds and a decent shower.

After unloading our gear into our room, we hopped back on our bikes and headed down to Hyder, AK.  It is just a couple KM down the road, and we wanted to make sure we visited and have dinner at the Glacier Inn.  The place was closing for a private event as we got there. We decided to head back to Stewart to eat.

There is no border crossing going into Hyder, but we had to go through Canadian Customs on our way back.  It started raining when we pulled up in line behind a couple cars.  We did not expect it to take very long, but the lead vehicle was a pickup with a trailer.  I knew we were in for a wait when one of the Boarder Patrol guys brought a chair out for the female passenger to sit in.  Fortunately, they noticed us in line, and opened up another lane, so we got through without too long of a delay.

Dinner at the King Edward Hotel in Stewart BCBack in Stewart, we decided to eat in the restaurant at the King Edward Hotel.  Boy, are we glad we did.  We had one of the better meals of the whole trip.  Great bar-b-que, chicken, vegeatbles, etc.  After dinner we headed out to the park where there was a community celebration for Canada Day going on that evening.  It was raining lightly, the music was canned, and the beer was mediocre, so we had only one and headed back to the hotel to sleep.  Tomorrow will be another long ride to Watson Lake.

 

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Day 4 Golden BC to Prince George BC

Dateline: Thursday, June 29, 2017Route Map, Golden BC to Prince George

We got up at 5am today, and packed up for the day’s ride.  It was 41°F, and partly to mostly cloudy.  Our bikes were parked under the carport, so they were dry, and we saddled up and headed a bit further down the valley to a gas station.

After filling up, we began the long ascent up the valley towards Jasper.  It was an hour long ride, quite steep in places, and several narrow hairpin corners.  Then, about a third of the way up, it becomes 4 lane, for much of the way, and the going was easier.

We fueled up again in Lake Louise before heading out to the scenic Ice Fields Parkway.  We were there quite early, so there was little traffic, and no wait for gas pumps.  It was still quite cool when we headed out for the gorgeous ride on AB 93 – the Ice Fields Parkway.

This road is everything I had read about, and more in real life.  The views are spectacular for every inch of the 155 miles.

Bow Lake Alberta Panorama

We had a beautiful ride today.  As you can see in the slideshow, the views just keep impressing me with every turn of the road.  I had been anticipating this day’s ride for months, and had read about it, as well as watched other ADV Riders’ videos, and while they were cool, to be there in person made the trip for me.  This is why I ride!

We met a 72 year old man at the Crossing Resort who was taking a bicycle trip (yes, peddle power) from Anchorage to Mexico.  He was traveling light, and staying in motels/lodging.  He said he was retired and had no set schedule.  He was obviously in superb shape, and I can not fathom the effort, and mental stamina it would take to complete the trip solo.  His is a REAL adventure.  WOW.

The road north of the Crossing Resort is really beautiful, as we ride through the glacial river valley we’re headed towards the big switchback near  Parker Ridge.  The scenic overlook there is really amazing, as you can see way down the valley and the road we we on.  We stopped here for some photos, as this was a stop I had read about when planning the trip.  It was well worth it.  We visited with some tourists from China, and they were really interested in our motorcycles.  We were able to converse a little, and they were fun to talk with.

Glacier Skywalk near Alberta's Columbia IcefieldsWe headed out and shortly passed the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center.  We did not stop here, but took in the view as we went by.  One regret of the trip is that we tried to cover too much ground in a day, which limited out ability to stop and spend time at places like this.  I would like to visit it again and have more time to see the sights.  The interpretive center is pretty cool, but the Glacier Skywalk overlook just up the highway is killer.  We did not stop here either.  There was no place to pull over when we got there.  Apparently, you need to take a bus from the Interpretive Center.  Sad to have missed this too.  I recommend that you check out this link if you are interested in seeing this attraction.

The scenery was just breathtaking all the way to Jasper.  Then we got on Highway 16 and headed west towards Prince George.  The highway was pretty the whole way, though not far west of Jasper we were riding through wider and wider valleys and eventually farm land areas.  We booked it through this area, and headed for our AirBNB in Prince George.

This evening, we were staying at Reza’s place.  He was not home when we arrived, so I called his cell and he told me where to find the key.  We let ourselves in, brought in our gear, secured the bikes, and made plans to visit a brewery and get somethign to eat.  I thought they had Uber here, but it had not started up yet, so we got a cab to take us downtown,

We stopped for a beer at Crossroads Brewing Company.  I asked another guy at the bar if the food was good here, or if there was another place he would recommend downtown near this place.  He was a beer geek too, and recommended another spot that had good food, and great beers on tap.  He was going to eat too, so I bought him another beer, and we then we headed over there with him.

We had a good meal and awesome beer at the Kask Taproom and then got a cab back to Reza’s place.  It was only 10:15, but when we got there, he must have been asleep, as we did not see him.  Reza’s place was clean, and we had the whole finished basement.  Nothing special, but good enough to sleep and shower in the morning.

Another exiting day, with lots to see, and more adventure tomorrow.

 


 

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Day 3 Whitefish MT to Golden BC

North to Alaska!

Dateline: June 26, 2017
Our route Whitefish MT to Golden BC

Click on the map to go to the route in Google Maps

Kickstands up at 6:15 am and we rolled out of Whitefish on our way to Lake Louise and Golden BC.  We thought we’d be able to get gas on the North end of town, but it wasn’t to be and we had plenty of fuel to go at least a hundred miles.  We decided to get gas at the next available town, and that ended up being at the Olney Store.  It was a little spendy, as this is a tiny little village located a half mile off the main highway.

The weather was beautiful again, with mostly sunny skies, and cools temps.  Our route takes us through a wide, winding valley 200 miles north to Radium Hot Springs.  The valley was flanked by huge rolling hills on the West, and mountains on the East side.  The landscape in the valley featured some farm land, rolling pastures and forests.  I did not shoot any video of the Montana part of the valley, as we were only an hour from the border and they don’t want us taking photos or video at the crossing.  So, here is a little video of BC Highway 93 between the border and Radium Hot Springs.

I have been letting the Wee drink premium gas on this trip, and heard on ADV rider forums that it may be hard to find in Canada.  When we entered Eureka, MT, we decided to top off our tanks with one last dose of cheap gas.  We grabbed a quick snack here, as well as some coffee, and headed out to the border.

Our border crossing at Roosville was easy and uneventful.  I went through first, and used my passport card as my ID.  The passport card is the way to go.  It fits in my wallet, the Border Personnel seem to like it too.  A few quick questions, and I was off again on my adventure.  Jack followed behind me, and went through pretty quickly too.

The road North is beautiful.  We encountered a little road construction near Jaffray, but it was minimal.  We have a 340 miles day, and it includes Lake Louise, so we needed to make tracks.  We want to take our time on the road from Radium Hot Springs to Lake Louise and spend some time there before heading to Golden.  We made a few photo stops on our way to Radium, and here are some pictures from Columbia Lake just North of Canal Flats, the Columbia Wetlands near Windermere.

We stopped for lunch in Radium Hot Springs, at a nice little bar/lounge called the Horsethief Creek Pub and Eatery.  It was recommended to us by a couple of guys who were manning a check point / inspection station for invasive water species along the highway.  Their checkpoint was at a pullout/overlook.  We visited a few minutes, and like their counterpoints in Northern Minnesota, they spend a lot of time on their mobile devices or reading books while passing time waiting for the next boat to arrive.

While in town, I needed to get some Canadian cash, so I headed to a local bank with my Visa card.  They were not able to get me cash via my card, but recommended that I go to an ATM instead, and I was directed to a nearby grocery store.  I went there, got my cash, and headed back to the pub.  I passed an ATM there on my way back to my table.  Lunch was good, I had currency, and I was excited to head North on the Kootenay Highway towards Lake Louise.

The ride videos I had seen of this section of highway while preparing for this trip set high expectations, and they were definitely met.  Though there was some traffic, it was still really cool.

The planned route was to ride 93 North to Castle Junction, and cross the Trans Canada Highway, and ride the Bow Valley Parkway NW to Lake Louise.  However, I missed the crossing, and we ended up on HIghway 1.  We ended up slabbing it to the resort area.  Upon arrival, we saw signs that the actual Lake Louise site parking was full and that we’d need to take a shuttle.  We decided to fuel up first, and then ride up there anyway.  Odds would be good that we’d be able to park our bikes up there.

We were right.  There was plenty of parking up there, and there was a large dedicated spot for motorcycles, so we had no issues.  We packed our gear on the bikes, and headed for a short walk to the lake.  It was cloudy, and a bit crowded, but not as bad as I had expected.  We got some photos, but not the epic ones that you sometimes see when the skies are clear.

Lake Louise June 2017

We headed out around 2 pm and followed the Trans Canada Highway to Golden BC.  The scenery never lets up.  Even though we are riding in light rain and drizzle, the views are spectacular.  We ran into some road construction on this leg of the trip, and while we had a few 15 minute delays, the road surfaces were okay.

We made a few stops along the way, most notable was the Spiral Tunnels site, about 5 miles east of Field.  We were not able to see any trains going through, but the interpretive info is very interesting, and there are some great videos online.  It was amazing to read about the engineering that was needed to create the run through this pass.

Shortly after passing through field on the Trans Canada Highway, we began our decent into the valley where Golden BC is situated.  It was a long decent, several miles long, that was 4 lane divided for about 2/3 of the decent, and then a two lane curvy, steep sided  and steep sloped highway.  We had to focus on the road, and though there were spectacular view over the side, we could not get over to see it.

We arrived at our destination for the night, another AirBnB site. Michelle was our host, and when we got there, she was still at work.  We parked our bikes under the carport, called her, and she told us how to get into the house and we unpacked in our space in the basement.  The accommodations were really nice.  We were tired, and decided to order pizza for delivery, and shortly after it arrive, so did Michelle.  She picked up food to make spaghetti for us, and since I had a tiny little pizza (she called it a smurf pizza) I gladly accepted her offer to join her for dinner.

She works on an ambulance crew, and we had a nice visit learning about her job, the Golden BC area, and life in Canada in general.  Our experience with AirBnB has been great so far, I hope we could get accommodations through it all the time.

We hit the sack early, as we hoped to be on the road by 6am.  Tomorrow takes us over the Ice Fields Parkway.

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Day 2 Wolf Point, MT to Whitefish MT

We awoke at 5:10 AM to another nice sunny day.  Our bicycling friend Chris left the place at about 6 AM, headed the same direction we would be going. We packed up, and rode into town to gas up and get ready for another day of high speed cruising across Montana.  Our route takes us to Whitefish, on the West side of Glacier National Park.

Route map June 27-2017 - Wolf Point to Whitefish

 

The weather was nice, and would be partly sunny and cool for the morning part of the ride. We booked along at between 65-70 MPH  and passed Chris about 10 miles West of Wolf Point.  We had fairly light traffic, and stopped for gas every 2-3 hours.

Riding across the vast open areas of Montana was pretty uneventful, though I did get to see some antelope.  One darted out from the ditch and run across the road in front of me.   I saw him coming from the fence line, but still had to brake hard.  About 30 minutes later  I saw a herd of about 8 of them in a field, but they were not moving.

The winds really picked up late in the morning, and made the ride tough for me.  We were right under a weather front, and when we’d pull ahead of it for a while, the wind would subside.  But after taking a break, it caught up again.

We stopped at a truck stop in Shelby MT for lunch, fueled up, and headed back on the road.  The landscape is starting show more relief now, and the ride is more fun as we have more interesting scenery and look forward to seeing the front range of the Rockies

The Rockies provide a backdrop for a nice photo of the Wee

Here is a little video of our ride along the south side of Glacier National Park.  It was a beautiful day, and the video does only a little justice.

We arrived in Whitefish MT around 5 PM.  There was a lot of traffic, as this is a busy tourist / resort community.  It looked pretty ‘spendy’.  We headed to our AirBnB site hosted by Rachel, and it took a little to find it, as the map on AirBnB was off just a bit.

We arrived, and our host was not home, but a quick call to her provided instructions on how to get in.  This was a really nice, cozy place and we had the whole upstairs to ourselves, and the use of the kitchen downstairs if we wanted to take advantage of it.

Our AirBnB space in Whitefish, MT.We unloaded our stuff, left the bikes in the driveway, and road the ankle express into town.  We knew of a couple of brew pubs in town, and being brewers ourselves, it would be a shame to pass them up.

Beer Flight at Great Northern BrewingOur first stop was the Great Northern Brewing Company.  We were looking for food as well, and saw a restaurant with the same name across the street.  We thought about stopping there for a burger and a beer, but stubborn me wanted to drink their beer in the brewery.

 

Chad and Jack at Great Northern BrewingSo we each ordered a flight. I really liked their beers, especially the “Man Bun” Black Doppel lager.   While we were having our beer, I looked up the other brewery in town and found that they closed in about an hour, and learned that they had food there.  So, we finished our beer flights, and hoofed it another eight tenths of a mile to the Bonsai Brewing Project.

Glad we did!  The Bonsai Brewing Project is a special place.  Nestled in a mixed residential area, they have a large corner lot, with a small brewery, an outdoor tasting garden, a food truck and live music.  We sat in the shade, drank a flight of beer, and enjoyed great food and good music.  I wish we had something this nice in our town.

Chad and Jack at Bonsai Brewing Project

On our way home from Bonsai, I wanted to stop back at GNB and have a half pint of the Man Bun.  We did, and checked out the restaurant across the street with a similar name tot he brewery.  Good thing we did not make it our first stop, as they were not affiliated, and did not have all of the beers from the brewery.

When we got back to our suite, we said hi to Rachel, met her little dog “Bruce” and retired to bed.  We have to head out early in the morning to held up to Lake Louise and Golden, BC.

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Day 1 Home to Wolf Point, MT

Jack and I departed this morning at 5:30 am from the gas station in Cohasset where we met to top off our tanks before heading out.  The sun had just risen, the sky was clear, and it was a brisk 40F when we hit the road, and it did not get up to 50F until about 100 miles later.  Needless to say, it was a little chilly.

I did not shoot very much video today with the helmet cam today, as we were just slabbing it towards our destination which was 610 miles west on US Highway 2.  But here we are heading out…

This is our route for the day…
Route for June 26-2017-Hwy 2 Home to Wolf Point

 

We did stop for a picture in Rugby, ND, which as the sign says, is the geographical center of North America.

At the Geographical Center of North America

 

 

 

 

We had three other highlights of the day…

The first was our lunch at Souris River Brewing.  The lunch and beer were great, but the best part was getting to visit with the two brewers.  They gave us a nice tour of the whole place, and we talked about their process, and future plans.  These guys are great hosts, and loved to talk about their craft.  SRB is the only craft brewer on the whole length of US 2 in ND, so if you are ever passing this way, it is a must stop.

Beer flight at Souris River Brewery

 

 

 

 

Oh year, I almost forgot to mention that they are located in Minot, ND.

Highlight # 2 was the road construction I dumped us into along ND 1804.  On the map, it looked like a scenic route to take the last 50 miles into Williston, you know, a break from the four lane.  It started out as beautiful as anticipated, with bluffs, high hills, rolling curves, long vistas…

But the last 12 miles were hell.  The road must be a main route for the oil operations, as it was literally ground to rubble and ruts.  The State is rebuilding it, and widening it, so it was slow going.  For most of that stretch, we never hit 20 MPH, and it was rough, rutted, full of holes, and dusty.  But the good part is that it was good practice/prep for driving in construction on the Alaska Highway.

Our third highlight is the AirBnB site we chose in Wolf Point.    This was my first experience with AirBnB, so I was not quite sure what to expect, or the protocol.  I knew the owner would not be home when we arrived, but her mother was.  She showed us the space we would be using, and it was beautiful.  We basically had the entire apartment, with full kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. This place was way nicer than any hotel I’ve ever stayed in.

AirBnB Wolf Point MT

 

 

 

 

There was a young man (Chris) from Albany New York staying there too, but in a tent site out back.  We suggested he call the host to see if it was okay for him to sleep on the large sofa in the living room, as we did not mind (we had rented the entire space).  He called, she said it was okay with her, so he packed up his tent and moved in for the night.

Chris averages 70 miles per day. Travels a lot lighter than us.

Chris was bicycling from upstate New York to Glacier National Park to meet his girlfriend who is bicycling to there from Calgary.  Then the two of them are headed to Arizona on their bikes.  Sure puts our adventure into perspective.

 

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North 2 Alaska Route Defined

I pretty much have the route defined, and reservations made, for our trip to the last frontier.

Day 1 – Home to Wolf Point MT
Day 2  Whitefish MT
Day 3  Golden BC via Lake Louise
Day 4  Prince George BC
Day 5  Stewart BC and Hyder AK via the Cassiar Highway
Day 6  Watson Lake YT
Day 7 Destruction Bay, Lake Kluane YT
Day 8 Fairbanks.
Accommodations the first 4 nights via AirBnB, and then motels the other three.  Prices were not as bad as anticipated, and the USD – CAD exchange rate is quite favorable for us.

I’m not sure what is in the cards for our week in Fairbanks, but I know there will be at least one day of R&R when we first arrive.

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R3 Arrives

Back in mid-April I got fitted for, and ordered a new Roadcrafter R3 one-piece riding suit from Aerostich (made right in Duluth, just 80 miles from home).  I got a call a couple of days ago that it was ready, but had plans for the weekend, so I had to wait until today to pick it up.

I started my work day early so I could head out for Duluth by 2:00pm, and my companion to Alaska joined me for the quick ride over.  It was nearly 70F when we left and a beautiful day at home.  When we got to Duluth and descended the hill, the temp dropped to 48F.  My ride over was in my mesh jacket, and I must admit it got a little cool.

New Aerostich Roadcrafter R3We picked up the “R3” and double checked the fit.  I suited up for its maiden voyage, and we road back.  It was quite comfortable, and I feel that I am at least visible on the road.  It will take a while to break it in, so it’s still a bit stiff. But it is not clunky or restricting.

The ride home was nicer, and I think it will suit me well (pun intended) on my trip.  It’s waterproof too so I don’t need to haul extra rain gear with me.  I ride ATGATT, so it will be with me for every trip I take, even the little short, local jaunts.

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The Wee Gets Prepped for Alaska

This weekend, my good friend Dan invited me to his place to do some prep work on my Suzuki V Strom DL650 (a.k.a. “the Wee”) to get ready for my trip to Alaska this summer. He invited other members of the MMMMMNGM group to help out and offer advice to the novice (that being me). Here’s a recap of the weekend’s work (mostly Saturday).

So, it started out with a 60 mile ride West early yesterday morning at 30F, anxious to get started.

On the agenda:
* New DID Chain and JT sprockets -F&R
* New Brakes F&R (this was way easier to dWrenching on the Weeo that I thought it would be)
* Replaced brake fluid both reservoirs (full drain and bleed) We used a vacuum pump to bleed the lines.
* Replaced coolant
* New Spark Plugs — This caused a delay, as I only bought two, and we had to wait until Sunday morning for the Auto Store to open up. Thanks for bailing us out Dave!
* New Tires F&R Mitas E07  (We used Ride-On for balancing… It seemed to work fine on my ride home.)

I haven’t wrenched too much on the Wee before this, and working with a bunch of guy who could teach me was confidence building. I don’t have all of the tools and gear, but I learned enough to be more helpful and productive next time.

We did 7 tires in all this weekend (including mine, two for Dave, two for Rob and one for Dan).

The Wee should be ready now for the trip.

Thanks so much to Dan for hosting, tool use, teaching, patience, everything.
Thanks to Dave and Rob for letting me help with tires. It was my pleasure to get to meet several of the other members of MMMMMNGM.

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Testing Out My Cool Weather Gear

My best friend Jack and I decided to go for a ride today, even through it was cloudy, windy and only 50F.  I thought it would be a good chance to try our my riding gear for suitability in cool weather.

It did not take too long to figure out that I need a better jacket.  The one I ride with is a mesh design, and it lets in way too much air if the temps are cool.  I got a good chill on the way to Nisswa.  Not only was it cool, but there was a 20+MPH wind from the south.  I’m in the market for a jacket that is more suitable!

Highway 84 from Longville to Pine River is a fun ride.  Lots of twisties as it winds through the lakes and forests of Northern Minnesota.  This is going to be regular annual ride for us, and we only road a fraction of the great roads in this area.  I can’t wait to go back in late Sepptember to see the fall colors.

Flight at Big Axe Brewing Company

Flight at Big Axe Brewing Company

We stopped for a flight of beers (four 4-oz samplers) at Big Axe Brewing Company and wanted to get a bite to eat there, but the kitchen was already closed.  So, we headed down the road to Gull Dam Brewing.  This time we split a flight, and found something to eat.

 

Gull Dam Brewing brewhouse

Gull Dam Brewing brewhouse

 

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