Day 20: Home: 855 km

July 18, 2013

Dendog’s mileage was less at about 750 km.

We got up early so Dendog could make the ferry over to Tobermory, ON.  Dendog obsessed over watched the radar again and we made a break around 7:10 a.m.  Spotwalla knows the departure time more accurately.  It was cloudy and had been raining when we left.  We were trying to split the weather systems again and it worked. We had a few drops fall on us and the roads were wet.

We rode in a single shot from SSM to Espanola.  We saw our last bear of the trip running along a side road near Serpent River, ON.  That was Dendog’s first bear sighting in Ontario. Everyone in Espanola loves Tim Horton’s, and the entire town was there to greet us.  They may not have known that was why they were there, but it seems they were all there.  So we skipped the Tim’s and got gas at the neighboring station. Then we had to say goodbye.

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My ride was pretty uneventful.  I did try to educate people on how to use passing lanes.  I’m not sure they heard me, but I tried.  The rules are simple:  Accelerate before you pull out. Pass the vehicle as quickly and safely as possible so others can pass it too.  If you are being passed, don’t speed up, it’s not a race.

I found myself hitting the intercom button a few times. Sharing all of the little moments with my brother was one of the coolest things about this trip.

I reminisced as I passed the turn off for Sportman’s Lodges east of Sudbury, ON where I went canoe camping with some friends last October. I stopped for gas in North Bay. Stopped a picnic spot between North Bay and Deep River for some food.  The group self-portrait wasn’t the same.

Where's my brother?

Where’s my brother?

More gas in Deep River and then a straight run home.  I was lucky in that I was always just behind the rain.  Some of the roads were damp.  The temperature was never too high.  It got to 31 C for a brief time near Pembroke, ON but then cooled down to more comfortable temperatures.  The rain must have cooled things down for me.

I pulled over a few km from home and affixed the GoPro to my helmet to catch the return home event.

I ate a glorious meal of Noodles Don Don.  As you can expect, it was way better than Smitty’s.

So this is what we did:  13, 248 km.  (total for Dave).  We had only one day when we didn’t ride (Whitehorse).  Dave’s total trip time was 21 days (20 for Dendog), which means an average of 631 km/ day, or 662 km/day only including the travel days.

Overview of the trip.

Overview of the trip.

Now it’s time for cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning.  Then maintenance and some small repairs.

In future posts we will review some of the equipment, we’ll add some video, maybe augment a few of the posts with more pictures.

Note that Spotwalla will no longer be reporting my position.

Love your people.  We missed ours.  Great to be home.  I feel a bit like Bobby Ewing.

Day 19: Sault Ste. Marie, ON: 728 km

July 17, 2013

Today was an awesome riding day! Weather, you were so good to us today. Our local meteorologist, Dendog, nailed our get away perfectly. He obsessed over watched the radar for 2.5 hours until he figured we could leave between the current band of showers and the next band. He then forecast that by the time we got to Nippigon the weather would have passed to the south. He was right on all fronts. We had a few drops on the way out but that was it.

Early in the ride we passed by the Terry Fox memorial and mile marker 3339. He was a real hero. I can’t begin to imagine what he went through in life, nor during the Marathon of Hope.

Like most of the journey, I had never been to this part of the country. The north shore of Superior is beautiful. The hills, the vistas, the lush greens, the enormity of the lake. Had me in awe.

We stopped for snacks and at a few other rest stops. Gas prices in this part of Ontario are similar to the prices in remote BC.

The temperature change was really interesting. Near the lake we got as low as 17 C up at the north part of the trip. We were as high as 30 C inland. Once we got near the lake again we would drop 6 or 7 degrees. That was really welcome as today was much more comfortable.

Some pictures:

The big lake they call Gitchigoomi.

The big lake they call Gitchigoomi.

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How we took the self portrait.

Superior

Superior

The bikes at Superior

The bikes at Superior

Superior

Superior

Dave taking pictures

Dave taking pictures

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Hanging at the picnic spot

Hanging at the picnic spot

Tonight is the last night we spend together. Tomorrow we break “camp” early to try and make the push home. We may ride together to Espanola, ON but Dendog has a ferry to catch so he may have to leave first. We will see. We both have options to stay at if the weather is crappy or if we are too tired. But we both look forward to seeing our people too.

Because it is our last night together we did a video summary that we can torment our families with later. So far, this has been an amazing trip. Plenty of miles, no major mishaps. We have seen a lot.

Tomorrow we will re-enact the scene from “Strange Brew” when Bob and Doug separate in the Elsinore Brewery. Not sure who will be Bob and who will be Doug.

For those following on Spotwalla, it stays with me. Dendog’s peeps know how to track him.

Neither of us will likely blog tomorrow. The summary of the last day will follow soon. We will even write some equipment reviews. I may write a restaurant review: OK, here it is: Eat anywhere but Smitty’s!

Tonight we had DQ for dessert.  It’s important to get your dairy!  For the first time on this trip, they got my Peanut Buster Parfait Blizzard right!  The dietary consultant that took my order fully understood that it was just chocolate sauce and peanuts.  That’s it!  Thank you Sault Ste. Marie DQ!

We look forward to a safe return home.

Peace out.

 

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Day 18: Thunder Bay, ON: 766 km

July 16, 2013

Give me a place to stand, and place to grow, and call this land, Ontario…

Hey Mom, I want to go, back to Ontario, hey Mom, I want to go home.

Hey Mom, I want to go, back to Ontario, hey Mom, I want to go home. We noticed the nice sign a km later. Oops.

It was hot Hot HOT (cue Buster Poindexter).

It was a great start to the day. The hotel had a nice breakfast and Dendog and I “rushed” out the door hoping to avoid the impending doom of the stormy forecast. We were fortunate in that not a single drop of rain fell on us. Some of the roads were still wet, so we timed our departure amazingly well.

But oh it was hot. Most of the day was above 30 C. It peaked at 35 C. We spent hours riding when it was 33 C. We have “Heat Busters” (guessing at the name) and I have a Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad. We kept those in the cooler until they were needed. At each stop we took them off and put them back in the cooler. It helps.

At the Eagle Lake, ON rest stop we were about to settle into our usual Snickers and Granola bar lunch when a nice couple from Toronto (yes, a nice couple from Toronto) offered us some sandwiches. We enjoyed those and a nice visit with them. They were travelling by car to Winnipeg and then on to Calgary. As I have mentioned before, many people talk to us and ask us about our journey. Doesn’t happen by car.

Chillin' at Eagle Lake

Chillin’ (ha ha) at Eagle Lake

Note that the distance in the title might be a bit off. Something may be screwy in my records.

My bike passed 20,000 km on the odometer today. I’ve never had a bike with that many km on it. I’ve also not ridden more than 7000 km in an entire season.

There were 6 short bridges down to single lanes between Thunder Bay and Dryden. Dendog and I had a system to help keep the bikes cool and all was good.

Our hotel is pretty good. No pool, so we went for a walk. We had Pizza Hut for dinner, it was much better than Smitty’s too. Everything is much better than Smitty’s.20130716-221932.jpg

Tomorrow is another 700km day as we head towards Sault Ste Marie, ON. It will be our last night together as we each have to head home the next day.

Ride the dream!

Day 17: Winnipeg, MB: 446 km

July 15, 2013

We had really good intentions of starting the day with some video recording action, a stop at Walmart and a nice relaxed late start. The clouds started rolling in to Yorkton and the forecast was a bit scary. We decided to hit the road assuming we would find a Walmart later.

We were fortunate in that we did not get any rain today. The temperature got up to 30 C by the time we got to Winnipeg. That’s not too bad as long as we are moving. When we stop, it’s yucky. We will get our neck coolers ready for tomorrow. I think we can now safely pack away the warm clothes.

Our hope for today was a nice relaxing ride into Manitoba. It turned out to be pretty windy. The wind was coming from the south so this gave us a cross wind mostly. We didn’t do any throttle lock races. I am hoping the GoPro video nicely shows the impact the wind was having on us.

Speaking of the GoPro. Argh! No, I didn’t break the case again. It turns out that every time I cut the contents from the micro SD card, the GoPro restarts the file naming at 1. This means files get the same name as yesterday’s. I noticed this yesterday for the first time and was able to recover everything back to July 10th. I’ve lost some content from before that including some of the ride from Dawson City to Tok. Also gone is the video of Kluane Lake. Drag. We have 6 other cameras, none of them behave like this (and I can’t find the setting in the GoPro 3 to change the behavior). As my wife said, I’ll just have to go back! I’m not sure she meant it.

I was surprised at how hilly Manitoba is. Compared to Saskatchewan, Manitoba is pretty darn hilly.

We entered a new province and got the picture!

Welcome to Manitoba.

Welcome to Manitoba.

We were there just a few seconds ago.

We were there just a few seconds ago.

We stopped at a rest stop. It’s amazing how they are so scarce in some places. Dennis liked this one.

Dendog was happy:  "A real rest stop".

Dendog was happy: “A real rest stop”.

There are roads and a lot of sky visible.

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I saw another Super Tenere. This time a black one, it was heading west. Saw it just before we got to Portage La Prairie. That makes four now.

We stopped for gas and shade.

We stopped for gas and shade.

Our hotel is really nice. We’d like to thank our travel agent / accountant for booking us here and not the Comfort Inn down the street.

Tomorrow we make a longer trek to Thunder Bay, ON. It is about 700 km but we expect it to be a long day. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. We will try and get an early start.

I wonder how long it will take to regain feeling in my left thumb?

-Keep on rocking!

 

Day 16: Yorkton, SK: 629 km

July 14, 2013

Today was a beautiful day.  It was sunny, a nice temp @ 21 C and the roads were in great shape.

We had throttle lock races.  Dendog wins in the uphill sections.  I assume this is because he is in his power-band and because his bike is 100 lbs lighter. It’s a fun way to pass the time on the VERY STRAIGHT roads.

Dendog riding in SK

Dendog riding in SK

Our wildlife count was limited to prairie dogs.  I’m not a bird guy, but we always see a bunch of birds.  Birds seem to like to fly at us.

It was really neat approaching Guernsey, SK as there is a huge mine. Since this is the prairies, you could see it for miles.

We did not have any trouble finding gas stations, unlike our last trip through Saskatchewan.

We had an extended stop in Wynyard, SK.  We got gas, Dendog got some A3W and then we hit the car wash (working at the…).

Dendog's rad before.

Dendog’s rad before.

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Dave washes his dirty bike.

Dave washes his dirty bike.

We didn’t take many pictures.  Shot some GoPro video.

If I was still 12, I would have a lot of fun with some of the city names in Saskatchewan.  Today’s favorite was Colonsay.  Reminded me of a scene in Wayne’s World (party on!).

We had Subway for supper.  It was a nice change from the crap we had at Smitty’s in Lloydminster.  That was the worst meal of the trip.  This includes comparison to our Mountain House meals (which were actually pretty good). Best meal  of the trip was Klondike Kate’s in Dawson City.

Back in Fort Nelson, the FJR guy recommended a Russell All Day (or Day Long?) seat.  That might be my next farkle.  My Airhawk was a little off today.  Maybe the lower altitude or perhaps it has shifted?  I will adjust in the morning.

I accidentally left the computer (in a lunch kit) sitting by the bikes while we were gone for an hour for supper.  I would like to thank Yorkton for not taking it.

It’s a short ride to Winnipeg tomorrow.  We will hit Walmart on the way out so I can get some sunglasses.  Maybe I will video us getting onto the bikes tomorrow.  It must look really funny.

People continue to ask about our trip when we stop.  I don’t think that happens much when you travel by car.

Bikes are good.  My oil level seems stable.  Dendog may have an issue with the fan on the Versys.  We will just have to keep moving.

We are great and enjoying the adventure.  I don’t think a trip like this is a “book”.  If this was a single book, our climax would have been the section from Dawson City to Tok.  While that may have been the mission, we have seen so much and traveled so far that everyday is a different kind of excitement.

One day Dendog might write a post to this blog.  Maybe.

Word!

Day 15: Lloydminster, AB: 725 km

July 13, 2013

It was a rainy morning when Dendog approached his bike.  With it’s new tire and shiny rear wheel, it called to him:  “Take me to Lloydminster”.  So we did.

Dendog getting ready.

Dendog getting ready.

Nice new tire and clean wheel.

Nice new tire and clean wheel.

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The rain stopped about 150 km into the ride and the temperature rose nicely from 7 C to 20 C by the time we got to the hotel.  Hot tub in the hotel is broken 🙁

Of note, we saw 7 deer in two different groups.  The first three crossed the highway about 750 meters in front of us.  The second group of 4 were standing in the ditch walking towards the shoulder to cross the road.  Dendog and I went to the fast lane and slowed to a crawl.  He flashed his brake light repeatedly yet a silly car driver passed us on the inside totally oblivious to the deer that were about to step in front of her.  They were standing on the shoulder at this point.  My wimpy horn scared them back to the woods.

My Lance Armstrong fashionable bike shorts helped today.  This is good. Thank you Lance!

We saw what we think was a dead badger by the side of the road.  It doesn’t count for our wildlife viewing counts.

I saw my third Super Tenere.  All of them have been blue.  Did not get to meet this one as he was on the other side of the highway just east of Edmonton.

Despite the fact that it was an easy ride today, we are both pretty tired.  At one point during the ride, when the sky was blue and the road was straight for as long as we could see, I radioed Dendog and we agreed that the mountains were beautiful, but sometimes a straight road is awesome!  OK, we’ll likely be sick of them tomorrow.

Dave in the distance

Dave in the distance

We posed for a picture at a rest stop.

Snack time at a rest stop in Alberta.

Snack time at a rest stop in Alberta.

Some self portraits while riding.  Taken with the GoPro.

Dave riding self portrait 1.

Dave riding self portrait 1.

Dave riding self portrait 2.

Dave riding self portrait 2.

According to the original schedule, tonight we would be having dinner with Dendog’s sister-in-law in Juneau, AK and then we would race home.  It would have been great to see her, but that schedule was impossible!  Maybe next time 🙂

Q1) Why does Dave always buy inexpensive sunglasses?

Q2) How many pairs of sunglasses will Dave go through on this trip? (current count is 2)

We might actually see a sunset tonight.

Tomorrow: Yorkton, SK.

 

Day 14: Grande Prairie, AB: 607 km

July 12, 2013.

We were on a 4 lane highway today! It felt so good!

We were up pretty early (4:30) and had breakfast in the hotel (they open breakfast at 5:00). While there we met a nice guy from Ohio. He rides an FJR and was planning on doing the Klondike loop (Dawson City to Tok) and then the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse). He was going to do this in 16 days total from home. That seems rather ambitious but cool. We wished him well and went back to getting ready. Our goal was to leave by 6:00 and we only missed it by 15 minutes (Spot should prove me fairly accurate).

It was cold. How cold was it? It was 6 C when we left. But it was not raining. We made distance while it was mostly dry and there wasn’t traffic. It started raining at some point. We had to be in Grande Prairie by 3:00 for Dendog’s service appointment so we made few stops. By the time we got to Fort St John, we were both shivering and ready for our first break. We encountered 3 C and SNOW 70 km south of Bucking Horse. Yes SNOW. Because it was a balmy 3 C it did not stick. Not long before the snow fell we noticed frost on the trees about 100 m higher elevation than we were at. Every new hill we saw had us a bit worried.

A brief video of the snow falling.

Construction on the road today gave us more mud opportunities. Just like old times!

We encountered three metal grate bridges and we think we are done with them. Look far forward, accelerate through and hope for the best! The last one was long and really windy.

The rain was bit disappointing as it obscured our view of the beautiful gorge at Taylor, BC.

The nice thing about the cold& rain and snow:  No insects added to our splatter patterns.

Wildlife count: Zero.  We saw two dead moose by the side of the road.  Glad we didn’t see anything else in these conditions.

While Dendog was at his appointment (special thanks to the guys at Redline in Grande Prairie for fitting him in on short notice), I did a bit of walking around and shopping.

I had been looking for bicycle shorts to help with the comfort (or lack thereof) of my seat. The guy at Sports Experts set me up with these. He said they are what all the cool guys are wearing now. I can’t believe my fortune as they were on sale too!20130712-205726.jpg

I also got a new case for my NEW GoPro (see the tweets). When I took the GoPro off the bike I noticed that one of the supporting prongs had broken off of the case. A harshly worded letter will follow. That’s two broken GoPro cases on this trip. I will stop using the mount point.

For dinner we went for take out “Taco Time”. We haven’t been eating lunch very often other than the occasional granola bar or Snickers (TM).

Tomorrow we are off to Lloydminster, AB. I’m going to have Dairy Queen. I had to teach them how to make a Peanut Buster Parfait Blizzard last time.

When I get home I have three emails to write:

  1.  Rev’It to complain about the “waterproof” Summit H20 gloves being far less than waterproof.  I will have to let the OGTC know too.
  2. GoPro for the two cases that broke.
  3. Sears Canada for completely botching the fridge delivery at home.  Q: How many days does it take to install a fridge?  A: at least a week and at least 3 visits by various crews.

I have cell service back. Yay!

Special thanks to friends and neighbors that are helping back home.

Day 13: Fort Nelson, BC: 259 km

July 11, 2013

A short day!  We love the short days.  On a clear day, the ride through Muncho Lake to Fort Nelson is absolutely beautiful.  On our way north, it was our first taste of twisty roads and elevation changes.  On our way south, it was a bit of a cold, rainy, foggy soup.

 

We started the day with a nice sleep in and Dendog got a real breakfast with coffee.  He seemed to enjoy it.  After watching him gyrate into his rain gear we hit the road.  Approximately 4 hours to cover the distance and we did not take rest nor gas break.  We were escorted by a pilot car for a bunch of kms due to construction. Our lane was relatively gravel free.  We were glad!

We crossed three shorted metal grated bridges (in the rain) and they were uneventful.  The final long one is tomorrow.

Our wildlife tally included 3 more sheep (I have to correct the earlier post, we did see female sheep, not goats) including a male, moose (cow and calf), a fox and a baby bear.  The moose crossed the road in front of us.  The others were better behaved.

Our hotel room has an outside door and we parked the bikes right in front of our room. That should help our early departure.

The wind was pretty strong here while we were out at supper, and the cover was blowing off my bike.  Our neighbor secured it for me.  He has a motorcycle too.

I met another Super Tenere rider today in Fort Nelson.  His name is Hans and he is on his way with some friends to Anchorage and Fairbanks.  We had a nice chat about road conditions and a brief chat about the bikes.  I have met two Super Tenere owners, both at the Fas Gas in Fort Nelson.

Dendog and I took turns on point today.  That was nice.

Last night I left my keys in the ignition in the ON position for about 1.5 hours.  Oops.  I was afraid my battery would be dead.  The Shorai fired the bike right up.  That saved us using the booster cables Dendog engineered.

You may note that our marker in Spotwalla is now basically pointing in the correct direction.  Our route will be the same from here to Saskatoon as it was on the way up.  Filtering in Spotwalla may make it easier to figure out our last day’s travels.

Hoping for a bit less rain tomorrow so we can make it to Dendog’s 3:00 appointment in Grande Prairie, AB.  Tomorrow begins our new trend of losing an hour with time zone changes.

We only shot video and pictures with the GoPros today.

Bring on the prairies!

Day 12: Muncho Lake, BC: 732 km

July 10, 2013

I must admit to a little trepidation about today’s ride.  On the way north, we had encountered a long patch of loose gravel on this stretch.  We also encountered a REALLY long open grate bridge.  Today was a breeze.  A long breeze, but a breeze.  The road was improved and it wasn’t raining!  Temperatures were pretty good.  To top it off, my wife booked us into an awesome lodge (Northern Rockies Lodge).  While I miss Liard Hot Springs, this place is beautiful!

When I went out to uncover and unlock the bikes today I found 1 litre of Honda 20w50 oil tucked beside my back tire.  I assume one of our fellow motorcyclists either noticed my empty sight glass or didn’t have room.  Whomever you are, thanks!

For lunch today we had picked up some croissants and we used some our emergency tuna-in-a-bag supplies to make sandwiches just south of Watson Lake, YT.

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Our wildlife count today was really good.  We drove through a herd of bison.  Literally through the herd as they were on both sides of the road and crossing the road in front of us.  I got it on the GoPro, I think.  Hoping the lens wasn’t too dirty.

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This is the video of riding through the herd.  There is a nasty bug splat right in the middle of the lens, but that’s the video we got!

We only saw three bears.  That will do.  I did not stop to take pictures but think I got them on the GoPro.

At Teslin, after the hideously long scary bridge, I looped back through the scenic vista area to get some video on the GoPro.

The GoPro could be totally awesome for motorcyclists if they  made some basic changes.  I’ll write about that later.

The resort is right on the Alaska Highway.  The highway is pretty quiet. usually.  After dinner, we stood on the highway talking with some guys from Alberta for about 20 minutes,  One truck went by!  They have sightseeing flights from here.  One day I will have to come back.  My wife didn’t seem enthusiastic when I called via the MagicJack app on my iPhone.

The Lodge

The Lodge

Looking down the highway.

Looking down the highway.

View from our balcony

View from our balcony

 

Bikes are good.  Dendog is booked into Grand Prairie Friday for a new tire and an oil change.  We swapped the fuse for his fan.  It seems to have popped after his rad got mud-caked on the Taylor highway. Mine still seems to be drinking oil.  We will see if that stops once we hit the prairies.

Dendog took point for a bunch of the ride today.  That was nice for two reasons: 1) I got some video of him riding and 2) I don’t always enjoy riding point.

We are happy, healthy, the view is beautiful and we have  short ride to Fort Nelson tomorrow.  We might even have real breakfast!

 

Day 11: Whitehorse, YT: 631 km

July 09, 2013

Well, well, well.  If yesterday was the most challenging day so far, today would be a close second.  We stayed at a nice B&B in Tok, AK.  We had a nice relaxing evening, filmed some video recollections of Mr. Dendog and fell asleep pretty early.  It seemed today was not going to start out perfectly when I awoke @ 5:00 a.m. (local time), to the sound of rain hitting the roof.  I changed the alarm from 6:00 to 7:00 to let Dendog sleep in a bit and hopefully the rain would be over.

No such luck.  We were on the wet roads by 7:45 with rain and a temperature of 11 C.  The Alaska highway in Alaska is not in great shape.  Frequent substrate changes, heaves, holes, washboard and all twisty.  In the rain, it wasn’t much fun.  We did go through a wild fire area but were fortunate that the fire was far from the road.  When Canada, the temp had dropped to 6 C as the rain continued. By the time we got to Whitehorse, it was mostly sunny and 16C.  It felt beautiful.

We went through a very long section of gravel guided by a pilot vehicle.  It was decent, but wet gravel isn’t too much fun.  We hit another section that was pretty loose gravel and my bike just drifted to the wrong lane (no cars were there).  I just stopped, pointed up the slope and got back on track.

Dendog’s ratchet strapped Givi pannier held up well.  The pannier and his ankle are victims of a small “off” he had in the mud the day before on the Taylor Highway (no pictures will ever be shown).  His ankle is OK (he insists). Upon reflection, I think I didn’t fall due to a combo of the Michelin Anakee 3 tires and the really good Yamaha traction control system.

We stopped to get gas at the start of Kluane Lake.  The nice guy at the gas station turned on the furnace for Dendog while I went into the garage, stripped down and put a new layer of 260 wt Merino wool LJs on.  There was another customer at the gas station at the time.  He is in the hotel room next to us.

We have discovered our “waterproof” Rev’It Summit H20 gloves are in fact, not waterproof.

Kluane:  Oh my! (cue George Tekai).  Somehow the skies cleared enough for us to see the lake and a significant part of the mountains.  Amazing.  Just amazing.  We didn’t stop for photo ops as we were cold and tired. Hopefully we have good GoPro video.  Driving around Kluane is a must do.

I met a couple of BMW riders in the hotel.  They are heading up the Dalton to Deadhorse.  They are getting knobbies installed in Faribanks.  They didn’t know the name of the Dalton.  I suggested they watch BWOM:  Pirates of the Arctic Circle on Youtube tonight.

We are in the hotel, doing laundry and drying things out on the heater in the room. Not going to be a late night!

Tomorrow is another long ride down to Muncho Lake.  We are staying at a Lodge.  Before we go we have to wash the mud off the bikes, get some air in the tires and book some service in an upcoming city.

So why so short in Alaska?  Our goal was to get to Alaska.  On our way we discovered our pace was too high to have much extra fun.  So we are taking more time to get back.

Keep it real.