Day 10: Tok, AK: 316km

July 8, 2013

On top of the world, looking down on...

On top of the world, looking down on..

Dendog's puddle of Mud

Dendog’s puddle of Mud

A video of part of the Top of the World Highway.

Reading the title of this post you could assume it was a short, relaxed ride to achieve our goal:  Alaska!

If you check Spotwalla, you might see some really slow progress.  Let’s sum up the ride in as few words as possible:

Scary.  Rainy. Muddy. Intimidating.  Beautiful.

The “direct” route from Dawson to Tok is via the Top of the World and Taylor Highways.  The border crossing at Porter Creek is the highest (elevation) and furthest north in North America.  The Top of the World highway was allowed us to see some beautiful scenery and travel at a reasonable pace over mostly well groomed gravel and pavement.  The Taylor highway (on the US side) was just a mess of yuck.  In the construction area there was about 500 meters of gooey clay. It was unmarked and because we were in the clouds we didn’t see the surface change.  I hit it first, stood up and tried to power through it.  I announced to Dendog I was going down but somehow I kept it up (not a double entendre).  I stopped and we ended up pushing my bike up the rest of the clay field.  I rode his with my feet on the ground the whole way. It was yucky.  The yucky did not stop there.  At least one other time I announced to Dendog I was going down.  And again, I failed to fulfill the prophecy.

We stopped in Chicken to try and clean the clay out of Dendog’s rad and other parts of the bikes.  Got some gas and tried to dissuade other bikers heading north from continuing.

Back in Dawson we had met a nice couple on BWMs (everybody is on a BWM or a Harley it seems) and they told us the ride was fairly easy.  Difference was it had rained and was raining for us.

When we finally got to Tok, we stopped at a car wash to clean us and the bikes.  Found our B&B and sat on the deck.  It was my night to ride out to get dinner.

If I ever say I want to ride some crappy dirt / gravel / mud road again, please make me relive this ride.

We would never do this again, but we are pretty happy we did it!

Off to Whitehorse tomorrow as we begin the adventure home.

 

 

My feet

My feet

Chicken, AK

Chicken, AK

Dendog's bike on the Taylor

Dendog’s bike on the Taylor

Me in Alaska!

Me in Alaska!

The REALLY crappy part of the Taylor

The REALLY crappy part of the Taylor

On the George Black ferry crossing the Yukon.

On the George Black ferry crossing the Yukon.

 

Day 9: Dawson City, YT: 551 km

July 7, 2013

It seems that every hill we crest since we passed Fort Nelson reveals another vista that just makes you go “wow”. Today was also beautiful. The weather was great, the roads were usually good and there weren’t any metal grated bridges!

We did encounter a significant number of really slow RVs. 90% of them hauling “toads”. We got pretty good at passing them as our stops were out of sequence. Our intercoms are really helpful for passing.

We had a few gravel sections. I got onto the high loose section and had a few moments of the wobbles. For the next section, I did the right thing and stood up. Dendog was fine through it all.

Dawson City is pretty cool. There are at least two bus loads of people from cruise ships. We had dinner at Klondike Kate’s. It was really good and reasonably priced.

It’s neat to see the two rivers running together yet discernable. Dawson City is at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers.

We met some more people from Sarnia today and a nice lady from Oakville. We met her at the “rest stop” at Gravel Lake.

I forgot to turn on SPOT until we were about 25 km into the ride today.

We met a 72 year old from Germany. He had a SPOT around his neck. He is paddling 1000 miles on the Yukon river (downstream). I’m envious. Perhaps next summer 🙂

If you are considering a trip like this and want cell coverage, pick Telus / Bell. Rogers has not had any meanigful coverage since Grande Prairie. Seems every city has Telus coverage. This is not a paid endorsement.

Looks like my bike burned some more oil today. I have spare oil and an extended warranty!

Lot’s of dudes in Dawson have beards. Dendog and I fit right in.

Tomorrow we enter Alaska via the Top of the World Highway and we stay in Tok, AK overnight. It’s a short ride at around 300 km but can take 7 hours or more. Up early and on the road! That’s the plan.

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Day 8: Whitehorse, YT: 0km

July 6, 2013

Yes, zero kilometers on the bike today. We walked around town to see the sights and get food and shop for supplies (mainly tent pegs). I was thrilled to find the MSR groundhog tent pegs. Haven’t found them in Ottawa. We have at least one more night of camping left and the gravel campsites have not been kind to our pegs.

We enjoyed the self-guided tour of the Klondike paddle wheel boat. We also went to the local museum.

In the small world category, two entries above mine in the guest book was a signature of a person from the town I live close to. In the lobby of our hotel I met a guy from Sarnia.

Did a bit of bike maintenance. Couldn’t tell if the oil level was dropping so I topped it to the full line for easier comparison. I’ve got spare oil now (taking up the space reserved for souvenirs) and I know I will make it home.

We are both looking forward to Dawson City tomorrow. We spent a few hours today re-planning the rest of the trip at a more reasonable pace with a bit more buffer. We have dropped a few of our stops in Alaska. Our goal for the trip will be met once we cross the Alaska border. After that it’s all gravy!

We were going to camp in Dawson City, but we have switched to a hotel.

If you know RV people, please remind them that they are large (the RVs that is), subject to wind influences, brake poorly and should NOT try and pull out in front of us.

That’s about it for today. Going to sleep early so we can get an early start.

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Day 7: Whitehorse, YT: 673 km

July 5, 2013

Mosquitoes, mosquitoes, mosquitoes.  Bad at night., ridiculous in the morning. It had rained a bit at night so we packed up quickly.

Way back near Fort Nelson we saw a sign that warned of Bison on the road near Muncho Lake.  We didn’t see any yesterday.  Today we saw about three dozen of them.  One large group and the rest in smaller gatherings.  We had to slow down to wait for them to get off the road.  We got pictures and video.

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We saw bears too! I really wanted to see the big animals on this trip.  We saw at least a dozen bears today.  At one point I was going to pull over to take a picture of one we had just passed.  I decided there wasn’t a safe spot to pull over, but right where I had slowed down, we saw another bear.

The b

And a video of the bear:

Welcome to the Yukon Territory.

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Today was amazing scenery and wildlife.  I mounted my P&S camera facing sideways.  I got a lot of pictures of my glove as I pressed the shutter 🙂 .

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We had to stop at the Sign Post forest in Watson Lake, YT.  We did  not search hard enough to find the BWOM sticker 🙁  The “forest” is huge!

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As we were riding we talked more about our pace.  We agreed to take a day off in Whitehorse before heading to Dawson City on Sunday.  I think we need the day off.  I’ve been riding 8 straight days and Dendog 7.  We still can’t believe we are doing this.

We will re-plan our route tomorrow.  We don’t publish the route so you will see the outcome on Spotwalla.

No Spotwalla updates tomorrow.  It’s tourist day.

Beautiful weather again today.  It’s good to be us!

I think there should be a motorcycle tour (fly and ride) company that operates out of Whitehorse and takes you down to Fort Nelson.

Later!

 

Day 6: Liard River Hotsprings, BC: 502 km

July 4, 2013

Some days start out well and some not so well.

We both woke up early. OK, I woke up and started packing, that might have helped Dendog wake up too. I slept really well. Amazing how the Thermarest (with extra air) protected me from the underlying gravel. We both have good equipment. The Robaxacet and Advil PM might have helped me sleep. Custom fitted ear plugs from Costco help too.

If the mosquitoes were bad the night before, they were ridiculous this morning. The Swiss couple broke camp, said goodbye and hit the road.

After we were packed up we checked our oil and Dendog noticed that mine was low. My bike is a dry sump with a sight glass. Odd combo. I started it up and the low oil light came on. We went across the street to the restaurant / wood shop / hotel / anything and they sold me a liter of car motor oil. Since this was all we had and we were 200km from anything else, we took it and added it to my bike. Oil light is now out and we proceed. A customer outside the store told us of a bike shop in Fort Nelson.

Nice peaceful ride to Fort Nelson where we found the “motorcycle” shop. It’s actually a Polaris dealer / rad / muffler shop. Great people. He got me some Amsoil 10w40 (a few spare liters) and changed the oil after I explained the silly dry sump configuration and showed him the owner’s manual to prove I wasn’t crazy. We were out in an hour. That’s great service and I am appreciative. Turns out, we may not have needed it at all, but better safe than sorry.

While there, I noticed a guy at the gas station next door with the same bike and the same suit as me. He was from Colorado and was on his way back south. He had all of the Touratech ($$$) gear including the seat. I was envious of the seat. My Airhawk / Alaska Sheepskin combo is working well. Dendog may need some more help. This guy wasn’t my new best friend as we wasn’t very talkative.

The guy that fixed the bike told us that the roads really changed about 50 km north of Fort Nelson. Oh WOW he was right. Really glad it was a fairly short day as the roads were beautiful. Twisty, elevation changes, scenery like I have never seen before. We even saw wildlife. Some goats on the road. We stopped and I took pictures. An RV was approaching quickly so I tried to wave him to slow down. He waved back and then hit the brakes hard.

Sheep

Sheep

Sheep + RV

This is a challenging but beautiful ride. It would be awesome as the passenger in a convertible. Seriously. You should drive this road.

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Liard Springs was really nice. We visited the hot springs twice. I saw two moose from the boardwalk and Dendog saw three.

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Our second Mountain House meal was lasagna. For the record, we have enjoyed the MH food.

Mosquitoes, mosquitoes, mosquitoes. Bad at night.

Beautiful day. We are lucky dudes. Still can’t believe we are doing this.

 

Day 5: Buckinghorse River, BC: 426 km

July 3, 2013

Welcome to British Columbia!

Welcome to BC

Welcome to BC

Our first camping adventure! It’s a good thing I didn’t bring my hammock, there wasn’t anywhere to hang. Perhaps you could hang from the mosquitoes that were everywhere. A good supply of Deep Woods Off and clothing plus our awesome bug net hats made the adventure almost tolerable.

We took our time leaving the hotel, no rush since it was a short day.

It was a fairly easy ride. There was a beautiful gorge with a scary metal grated bridge. We hate those things. Enter slowly, accelerate through, guide the bike gently and keep the eyes far ahead! No front brakes!

We stopped in Fort St John for Tim’s and I picked up my 1 gallon gas can at CTC.

We got some GoPro action for the second half of the descent to the gorge. Can’t remember where it was, things are blurring together.

It was really nice to have a short day. Gave us time to hang out and set up camp. We had our first Mountain House meal (Teriyaki Chicken with Rice) and it was really good.

Sitting at our campsite. Dendog on the river bank

Had a nice fire. I had to ride across the highway to pick up the fire wood on my bike. I have a bunch of Rox straps so it was pretty easy.

The park has a boil water advisory. We brought our own in my MSR dromedary bag. I do have a filter, but we prefer good chlorinated hotel water!

The campground is small, with basic amenities. You can’t reserve. You just show up, park in one of the tiny spots and drop your cash in the bin. The campground is on a nice river (Buckinghorse) that flows pretty quickly. We didn’t bear proof too much and we did not get eaten. The downside to the campground is it is close to a work camp. During our stay, someone nearby was discharging a shotgun until very late into the morning.

We met a nice you couple from Switzerland and a guy from Alberta that liked Johnny Cash.

We packed up early and hit the road. Spot can tell you when. Even Dendog’s ubiquitous Telus coverage failed us there.

The weather was beautiful the entire day.

The official name is “Buckinghorse River Wayside Provincial Park”.

We still can’t believe we are actually doing thisOn the road

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Day 4: Grand Prairie, AB: 764 km

July 2, 2013

We took it “easy” today.  Cue the Eagles.

We had a desire to lower the number of kilometers and a side benefit would be a bit of shopping time in Edmonton. BAD IDEA. It was 32 C by the time we got to Edmonton and the construction had us sitting idle for too many minutes. In the end, the store that the internet guided us too only had a nice guy that directed us to other stores. Went to one of them, got a few of the things we needed and left town (through more construction) after getting some Subway for lunch.

There was a severe thunderstorm watch for Edmonton at the time. The guy in subway let us know. The rest of the ride was almost completely dry. A few rain drops here and there. We could see rain all around us.

We stopped at some scenic vistas and relaxed a bit more. Heck, we were going 200km less than usual.
Evidence:

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We had a guy in a SUV ask us if we had any spare gas.  Dendog’s spare bottles are empty until tomorrow and I will buy a gas can in Fort St John.  So we didn’t have any.  It did seem ironic, but somewhat logical, maybe desperate?

I shot some video with the “camera on a stick”.  Speaking of video, I tried Future Shop, Best Buy and London Drugs.  No GoPro cases.  I now have a new GoPro.

At the end of the day, we arrived pretty early.  The shorter run was nice.  Tomorrow we start the camping phase.  Two straight nights of camping in BC.  No internet, so spot will have to be the only updates.

After those two nights, we will be in Whitehorse, then Dawson.  We are thinking of the ride up to the arctic circle.  We’ll be so close.  We are also looking at ways to get some shorter riding days in.  That way we can stop more often and see all of the beautiful scenery.

Hotel has a water slide and hot tub.  I tried both.

Tomorrow I get to try my new airhawk seat pad.  It’s a short day tomorrow at just over 400 km. The alarm will be set for 8:30 local time.  Don’t call or text!

No posts until Whitehorse.  Maybe a tweet from Fort St John.

Peace out!  Ride safe. Love your people.  We miss our peeps.  We were thinking of Ta today.

Day 3: Lloydminster, AB: 962 km

July 1, 2013

For the record, our mission was to get to Edmonton as quickly as possible and then slow down the km/day pace. We are now a few hours from Edmonton and have decided to re-plan the next 4 days.
It will be Grande Prarie tomorrow, camping in two different BC provincial parks for the two days after and then Whitehorse, YT.
Tomorrow we will stop in Edmonton to get some bike supplies and a GoPro case for my camera.

I have border redemption. Was a bit nervous as the crossing at Portal had two lines. Many trucks in one and the other was empty. A friendly trucker told me to pass the trucks as I wandered around. And, he was telling the truth. The line was NOT a Nexus line so we were safe. Back in Canada in a few minutes.

About Saskatchewan. The roads are generally in good condition and have decent speed limits. THEY ARE ALMOST COMPLETELY STRAIGHT!!!! It is hard to find what exit to take to find what you wanted. We didn’t eat at Subway today 🙁 We actually did not have lunch, just a snack.  I like the signs in Ontario: Subway this exit.

Tire wear in the center of the tread is significant on both bikes.

It was 30 C for most of the day. Our neck coolers worked well. We’d dip them in the water in the cooler when we stopped.

Things are going well. We are a bit tired, likely need to drink more water on the road.

Dennis shot the last hour with Rob’s GoPro (thanks Rob). Once edited when we get home, you’ll be able to see my gymnastics and stretching while riding.

I left the spot on last night. Just changed the batteries for the first time. I love the spot!

Special thanks to my spouse that is doing all of the hotel booking. Booking rooms for a vacation she wasn’t allowed to come on. Irony?

Pictures.

North Dakota, Between Minot and the Border.  We stopped just to take pictures.

 

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Welcome to Saskatchewan!

 

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Saskatchewan, pulled over for a break after 3 hours of riding.

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The Battlefords Welcome Center. Not many rest stops in SK.

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More tomorrow hopefully!  Bring on the Robaxacet!