Alaska and Canada Adventure 2008

It began as an idea back in 2003. 

After Kelly and Josh returned from their motorcycle trip across country, they honed in on their next target: Alaska.  They knew it would be a challenging trip to plan, but also very rewarding if they could pull it off.

So they planned for a year, and picked up Jared as a trike-riding companion, but the Alaska trip had to be postponed due to the arrival of Josh's second little one.

Now, 5 years after the trip was first conceived, Kelly, Josh and Jared are about to embark on an adventure like no other.  The three will depart from Anchorage, Alaska in hopes of making back to the states 15 days later after meandering through Canada for a while.

This trip includes a fishing excursion, a ride down the Alaskan Highway, many mountains to cross, and the threat of running into bears.

Now, you can follow along with their trip guide and blog as they make their way through the great North.  Their progress will be updated as allowed by internet connection at hotels along the way...including updating pictures as the trip progresses.

So stay tuned for this great adventure.  And register if you'd like to post comments or leave messages for Kelly, Josh, and/or Jared throughout their journey.

- Hawg Tales.com

 

Pre Trip Planning

The pre-trip planning turned out to be more difficult than we envisioned.  The more we read about the difficult roads in Alaska and Western Canada, the more concerned we became about an aggressive schedule.

However, we have targeted about 300 miles per day with a couple of fishing excursions during the trip.

We had our Harleys serviced at our favoriate Harley dealers (Harley Haven in Columbia SC and Batteley in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  

We contacted Alaska Classic Motion in Anchorage to arrange for shipping the bikes from the lower 48 states to Alaska.  We were advised that the most likely route would be by truck from the east coast to Tacoma, Washington and via boat from Tacoma to Anchorage.

We were also advised that it would be a good idea to crate the bikes. Apparently, the boat ride can cause some damage if the bikes aren't crated.

 Kelly is riding a Road King (Screaming Eagle), Josh is riding a 100th anniversary Dyna Wide Glide and Jared is riding a Softail Trike.  The dealers crated the Road King and the Dyna Wide Glide in standard Harley crates for shipment.  Kelly ended up constructing a crate for the Trike since it was difficult to find someone who we felt understood what needed to be done and could do it at a reasonable cost.  You can see the crate and the bike by clicking on the following link.

We had a significant amount of clothes and electronic gear from our previous trips.  Each of us has a Chatterbox  communication unit that we have wired to our battery to provide constant power.  In addition to the communication, we also have satellite radios and a couple of IPOD's with our favorite music.  Since Kelly is the "old man" he perused the top 100 hits for each year from 1955 through 2008 and selected his favorite 321 songs and down loaded on his IPOD.  Can you believe he listens to Ricky Nelson, ABBA, Chubby Checker, Neil Diamond??  UGH.!!!

With the crating finished, and with most of the clothes and other items needed included in the crates, the bikes were picked up for shipment on July 18 and arrived in Anchorage on August 7, 2008. 

Kelly was scheduled to be in Anchorage on August 11 to uncrate the bikes and ensure things are ready to go when Josh and Jared arrive on August 13.  Since Kelly is retired and the other two are still working, he has more flexibility in his schedule (on both ends of the trip) and can spend time minimizing down time. However, this has been changed and all three are now scheduled to attend Grams Krablean's funeral (see tribute below) on August 13 and travel to Anchorage on August 14th.

At this point, we must pay tribute to Grams Krablean.  On August 6, 2008, she succumbed to lung and liver cancer that was diagnosed earlier in 2008.  She put up an incredibly brave fight.  She was excited about us taking this trip, as she was an adventursome sole herself.  She particularly liked the idea of us ending the trip at her condo in Appleton since she felt it would be quite a "symbol" for her (an 83 year old widow)  to have three Harley's that had just been ridden from Alaska across western Canada parked in her garage.  We are planning on ending the trip at her condo. While we will miss seeing her, we know she will be looking down on us, smiling, and telling us not to mess up her garage.

 

Travel Day: From Appleton to Anchorage

Today was a long day.  It started around 5.30 AM central time, as Kelly, Josh and Jared awoke to get ready for their flight to Anchorage.

Arriving at the Appleton, Wisconsin airport at 6.30AM, they soon boarded their United flight to Chicago, Illinois.  Luckily, Ashley was also flying out of Appleton at the same time, so Jared got to say his goodbyes to her in person at the airport (and thank her again for being so awesome to let him go on the trip...especially when she's pregnant!--thanks baby!).

A quick flight from Appleton to Chicago preceded a 2 hour layover, and then a long, 6+ hour flight to Anchorage.  The flight to anchorage was long, and we were pretty tired.  We used this time to fool around with some electronic equipment, read up on some potential stops for the first couple of days, and just relax.  (of note, the new Chronicles of Narnia was shown on the flight.  it's "OK" but not as good as the first one.  I'd say the re-runs of the Office were way more entertaining, but that's just me -Jared).

Once in Anchorage we waited for our checked baggage to show up.  And then we waited some more....and kept waiting....and waited a bit longer...and then FINALLY Jared's bag showed up.  It really was looking like the bag was lost, which would have been pretty funny, but it was the absolute last bag placed on the carousel.

Now, I shouldn't say anything about this, but Kelly and Josh had a bit too much fun with this for it not to be mentioned.  When  we were packing up in Appleton, Jared needed a bag to put a few things in as a carry-on for the flight.  Nothing major...just an iPod, camera, a few magazines, and a couple of other things.  Well, since there isn't a lot of room on the bikes, Jared searched around for a bag that wouldn't need to come back (i.e. that he could throw away when he got to Anchorage).  Needless to say, a certain "purple" bag was found, and fit the bill perfectly.  Perhaps a picture of the "purple" bag will surface, but I'm for sure as hell not going to post it when I'm updating the site.  I guess Kelly or Josh will have to figure that one out.  But they kept going on and on about carrying around the purple bag.  At one point, I told Kelly that if he didn't cool it, I'd just have to start holding his hand while walking though the airport with the purple bag on my shoulder.  I thought that might shut him up....but it didn't. 

Anyway, so we get to Anchorage and then head on over to the bikes.  They were shipped here in almost mint condition.  Somehow Kelly's bike got scratched up due to a crating problem, and the trike crate pretty much made it through the trip, but did have a couple of holes in it.  But, if a couple of scratches from crating the bikes is the worst thing we run into, we're doing pretty good so far!

Anyone want to guess how long it took us riding in Alaska before we got lost for the first time?  If you guessed about 5 mintues you'd be correct.  After we got some gas, Kelly and Jared left the navigation duties to Josh and his GPS.  Apparently Josh and his GPS were having some fun on the airplane (it's pretty cool that you can follow your flight on a GPS), which didn't leave a whole lot of battery power for the bikes.  So we went around a 2 block circle 3 times, and then stopped in a parking lot to figure out what was going on.  After about 15 mintues, we finally figured out where we needed to go, and found our way to the luxurious Extended Stay Deluxe in Anchorage.

The hotel's actually pretty decent.  The lady at the desk recommended the Moose Tooth pizzeria (right across the street) for dinner.  Honestly, it was great.  Good pizza, and the place is a brew-pub to boot!  If you're ever up in Anchorage, I highly recommend it (as well as the BBQ chicken pizza....perfect blend of BBQ and spicy!).

And that about wraps up the travel day.  Not a whole lot going on here.  We spent the rest of the day re-packing our gear, testin out the electronics, running to Wal-Mart for some toiletries, and getting some ice cream from McDonalds....I know what you're thinking:  hard core bikers!  But, hey, that's how we roll!

Tomorrow's the first day of riding, and we're planning on traveling to Denali national park.  Should be interesting, and we'll keep you posted!

Day 1: Anchorage to Denali (Alaska)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
2
Total Miles to Date: 
238
Miles For Today: 
238
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

Our goal for today was to ride the roughly 240 miles from Anchorage to Denali National Park at a leisurly pace, getting comfortable with the roads in Alaska and getting comfortable with the bikes.

The day started out rainy and drisley.  We don't normally ride in the rain, but given the forcast, we either had to ride in the rain or plan to spend much of our trip in Anchorage.  After a fairly late wakeup for Jared and Josh (this is their normal operating style) and a stop at the post office to send home excess clothes that would not fit in our regular bags (we used the bright red throw away suit case that Jared brought)  and a stop at the Harley dealership to buy Josh a bike cover (he left his at home) we got on the road around 12:30 pm

Other than the rain, the trip was fairly uneventful.  We traveled on Parks Road from Anchorage to Denali through towns like Wasilla, Trapper Creek,  and Cantwell.  We are accustomed to having gas stations very conveniently located.  This was our first encounter with having to plan to ensure we have adequate fuel.  We came unconfortably close to running out of gas on the stretch of road between Wasilla and Cantwell. 

We arrived at Denali around 6:00pm.  We had made reservation at the Crow's Nest, which is a group of individual log cabins overlooking the Park.  The room was rough, but adequate.  There were several restaurants to choose from, and some of the locals recommended the Salmon Bake.  The food was pretty good.  I tried the Salmon Bake dish and the fish was excellent.  The sides weren't particullary good.

The Crow's nest supposedly had wifi internet service, but it wasn't working when we were there so that is one reason we are late on updating the site.  We walked around the shops in the town, bought some ice cream, post cards and a bottle of Chivas.

  Josh and Kelly have a Helicopter tour of Denali State park tomorrow. The old man is already complaining of a little soreness from the ride so he turned in early.

 

 

Day 2: Denali to Fairbanks (Alaska)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
2
Total Miles to Date: 
373
Miles For Today: 
125
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

Today started fairly early.  Josh and Kelly scheduled a Helicopter tour of Denali State Park that included landing on a Glacier.   We worked hard at getting Jared to go, but he was firm with his uncomfortableness in small planes.

The tour was sponsored by ERA.  We were picked up at the Crow's nest.  There were three Helicopters making the tour scheduled for two hour intervals.  The Helicopters were all very recent models and appeared to be very well maintained.  Each helicopter had six passengers.  They weigh each passenger, and based on the weight, they decide who is seated where.  Josh got the premium seat right next to the Pilot.

The pilot had been flying for 15 years.  He learned to fly in the Army and spent a tour in Iraq. We really liked the way he handled the machine. The flight is about 30 minutes over the Alaska Range to the glacier.  The landing was on a field of ice.  We walked around for about 15 minutes, taking some pictures.  The pilot pointed out the melting of the various glaciers.  Apparently it takes the tundra about 100 years to grow after the glacier has melted.  You could see the lines on the rocks about 100 feet where the glacier was 100 years ago.

The flight was really awesome.  I haven't been on a flight like this before.  It reminded me of some of the movies you see where the put a camera on the front of a helicopter any you rise over a mountain and see the steep drop on the other side.  Better than any roller coaster ride.

 After the Helicopter ride we loaded up rode the 15 miles that we were allowed into Denali National Park.  To go further into the park, you must be a part of an organized group.

We the  headed up the Parks highway to Fairbanks.  This was a great ride--good weather, good road and generally very little traffic. 

Kelly began experimenting with his digital camera mounted on the handlebar of his motorcycle.  He got a few pictures, but  still needs to experiement with this, or get a better camera.

We arrived in Fairbanks fairly early (around 5pm), had lunch/dinner at Pikes Fish Camp and debated more riding.  However, there were thunder clouds in the area so we camped out at the local Marriott to get ready for the rougher sections of the trip over the next five days. 

Day 3: Fairbanks to Beaver Creek (Yukon)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
3
Total Miles to Date: 
690
Miles For Today: 
295
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

Today can be summed up by two words:  "Pavement Break."

After a restful night at the Marriott in downtown Fairbanks, we departed around 10 AM.  We entered the Alaska Highway (2) and headed to Delta Junction--about 100 miles.  This was a great ride.  Flat roads, little traffic and great scenery on both sides.

We had lunch in Delta Junction (Alaska Steak House and Motel)--a real dive from the outside, but pretty nice looking on the inside and pretty good food.  From Delta Junction, we headed to Tok.  The weather turned nasty and the roads began to deterioate quite a bit.  It began a drizzle that includes some sleet and was really miserable. 

Starting about 30 miles from the Canada boarder we ran into heavy road construction and constant rain.  During this stretch the road, if you can call it a road, was basically torn up by construction and often was not much more than gravel or mud separated by stretches of 100 yards or so of pavement.  Mud quickly covered our bikes and our rain suits.  The patches of unpaved road were marked by "Pavement Break" signs, which meant that for the 2 hours that we spent traveling through this section we were constantly haunted by those 2 words.

Lost during this part of the trip was potentially some really great scenery.  Traveling through some small mountains, around curves, near lakes and valleys of pine trees would typically be a great ride.  However, when you're covered in mud, can't see the tops of the mountains due to the storm clouds, and constantly looking at the road to make sure that you don't run through a huge pot hole (or slide off the road), you aren't able to enjoy the scenery too much.

We went through customs at the Canadian border with very little delay.  We were joking that the road conditions in Alaska were a plot by the Alaskan Tourism Board to keep people from leaving the state and going into Canada.  But, we soon realized that the conditions in Canada weren't a whole lot better.  Although mostly paved, the roads were riddled with pot holes, dips, and other fun obstacles to keep our eyes firmly glued to the road approaching.  We stopped at the Westmark hotel in Beaver Creek.  We got there about 8pm.

During check in we learned that this hotel is owned by one of the cruise lines and had a regular musical at their dinner theatre depicting the development of the Alaska Highway. 

We were too late for dinner, but were able to get tickets to the show.  I must say, I don't think I have seen Josh and Jared enjoy anything more fully.  You will see their comments later in this document.

...OK, I'll leave Kelly's comments on the show above and then just put my comments here.  The show wasn't necessarily bad for what it was:  a small town tourist attraction for people in their late 60s and on featuring songs about the Alaskan Highway's construction and folk figures of the Yukon/Beaver Creek.  That being said, none of us were the target audience for this show (ok, maybe Kelly and his Abba/Mama Mia loving self would have truly enjoyed the show if Josh and I (Jared) had not been making fun of it) and it definately wasn't worth the $15 we paid to see it. Our experience at the show can be summed up by the first words spoken as we left the show: "So, [Kelly], should we kick your a$$ now, or wait until you're asleep?"  But, I'm sure the bus loads of blue-haired women thought it was great and will sing their praises of the great show they watched...

After the show, we headed to the bar to pick up some dinner.  The bar was the only place in the hotel that had a TV (note that this hotel has no TVs or phones in their rooms).  Kelly and Josh turned in for the night, while Jared stayed around for a bit longer to visit with the hotel staff.  The staff were celebrating the end of the season, and were helpful in providing information on upcoming stops and road conditions. 

Day 4: Beaver Creek to Whitehorse (Yukon)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
4
Total Miles to Date: 
1017
Miles For Today: 
295
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

Today began the same as yesterday ended.  Rainy and cold.  Fortunately, Amy had allowed Josh to do quite a bit of research on our cold and rain clothes.  He selected the FXRG line sold by Harley.  This gear was a life saver today.  It kept us warm and dry--very difficult when riding a motor cycle 50-60 miles per hour in constant rain. 

From Beaver Creek we went to Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay.  This was a little over 120 miles of absolute misery.  This stretch has been described in some of the guide books as the worst section of the Alaska highway.  We hope this is correct.  It rained the entire period, there were numerous pavment breaks and the mud continued to pile up.  We probably didn't average over 30 miles per hour on this section.

Shortly after leaving Beaver Creek we spotted a huge moose standing on the sholder of the road watching as we passes.  A little farther down the road, a large grizzly crossed the road and headed to the woods.  We have been warned about the risk of running into moose, bears, deer etc.  However our Harley's are pretty loud and I now believe the risk of this is fairly low.  We will continue to be diligent however.  Hitting one of those animals would probably mean a serious premature end to our trip.

Things really picked up after Destruction Junction. We rode over 40 miles along the banks of the Kluane Lake.  This was a georgeous ride.  We stopped near the end to take some pictures.  Also,  I tried to take some pictures using my digital camera mounted on the handle bar of the motorcycle.  I don't think these cameras were intended to be mounted as we have and I have probably destroyed the Sony I have been using.

We stopped in Haines Junction for a bite to eat and to fill up with gas. I forgot to pay the restaurant tab so the owner ( a small Asian man)  came out as we were starting our motorcycles waiving the check.  I almost made the same mistake after we had filled up the gas tanks. 

We then headed to White Horse--about 90 miles.  This was an easy ride.  It  stopped raining, the roads were pretty good, there was very little traffic and the scenery was good.  We made some good time on this trip.

Whitehorse is a town of about 25,000 and is the capital of the Yukon.  It has the first McDonalds we have seen since leaving Fairbanks--abour 700 miles.  Can you imagine driving 700 miles and not seeing the golden arches?

We are staying at the Westmark in Whitehorse--owned by the same group as the one in Beaver Creek.  They also have a dinner theatre here featuring the "Frantic Folllies". Unfortunately, Josh and Jared had so much fun at the one in Beaver Creek, they almost threw me out of the room when I mentioned going to this one also. 

We found a car wash and spent about 2 hours getting the first layers of mud off the bikes.

We stopped by Wal Mart for a couple of items and, as usual, Jared and his trike attracted a chatty chap who wanted to know all about our trip and offer us some advice on how to make it better.  Tomorrow we are headed for Watson Lake--about 270 miles.  If the weather is nice and we can get Jared up a little earlier, we might try to make it to Laird River Hotsprings. I understand there are two pools of hotsprings and they are supposed to have some "healing"  features.  We'll see how this works out.

Day 5: Whitehorse to Watson Lake (Yukon)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
5
Total Miles to Date: 
1299
Miles For Today: 
279
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

A very good day. 

We were up late last night cleaning the bikes and getting the website current with the text and uploading all the pictures so we didn't get a very early start. We did get the first six out of 10 layers of mud off the bikes.

Our room was pretty hot and I called the lady at the front desk to find out how to adjust the air conditioner.  She told me to open the window and move the fan in front of it so it pulled the air from outside into the room.  Sure enough, after a while, it worked.

My trusted Sony digital camera that I got at one of the GT partner meetings stopped working.  I don't think it was engineered to be mounted on the handlebar of a bike going 65-70 miles an hour.  However we still believe this is a good idea and went to Wall Mart to see if we could find one with the features Mark mentioned in his comments.  We purchased a (pink) Kodak AF.  We used it today for several of the pictures in today's list--those with Jared and Josh on their bikes.  It really worked well at this point.

I ran into a guy this morning from Macon Georgia--not too far from Statesboro.  He was a pecan farmer with an orchard of about 500 trees.  He was in Whitehorse to go sheep hunting.  Small world.

We left Whitehorse around 11:15 am.  The weather was clear and a little warmer than yesterday.  However our record to date for this trip is that we have not been able to ride more than 100 miles without running into some rain.  Our record is still in tact, however, the rain was near as extensive as yesterday and the roads were in good shape.

From Whitehorse, we rode along the shores of Tagish lake for about 15 miles.  The road was right along the lake bank, had enough curves to be fun but not much that slowed you down and was in the middle of two ranges that really made for outstanding scenery.

Leaving Tagish, we encounter another series of showers.  It's amazing how it would be clear until you topped one of the ranges and there would be ominous looking clouds over the hill.

We then rode along Teslin Lake for about 30 miles under conditions similar to those at Tagish. Ideal riding conditions.

The bikes are running great and are handling great. No soreness or uncomfortableness has set in yet.  The jackets we are wearing have a built in "kidney belt" which is similar to a weight lifter's belt.  This provides support to the your midsection and absorbs some of the vibration of the bike.  I believe this has made this trip much more comfortable than earlier ones.

Our route briefly dipped down into British Columbia from the Yukon prior to reaching Watson Lake.  We stopped for a few pictures at the border.

We made it to Watson lake around 6:00pm.  We decided to end our riding day here. Watson Lake bills itself as the Gateway to the Yukon.  It is the first city you reach in the Yukon when traveling north on the Alaska highway. The best know attraction is the Sign Post Forest. The forest was started in 1942 by a homesick US Army Gi Carl K Lindley of Danville Ill. It probably has 20,000 signs and has been immitated in numerous other locations around the world.

We stayed at the Belvedere Motor Hotel in Watson Lake.  It's adequate, but a little rough.  Not a place Cindy would like. 

Day 6: Watson Lake to FT Nelson (British Columbia)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
6
Total Miles to Date: 
1628
Miles For Today: 
317
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

This day's route was one of the most scenic and had the best roads for riding that we have experienced yet.   Unfortunately, it was rainy and cold for much of the day which dampened the fun.

We left Watson Lake around 9:45 headed for Fort Nelson.  Shortly after leaving Watson Lake, we ran into a group of buffalo grazing along the road.  We stopped and took a number of pictures.  One large bull got uncomfortably close to Josh, to the point he was pushing his bike back. However, a car came along and diverted his attention.

Much of the trip was along either a river bank or the shore line of a lake.  In addition, each had ranges of mountains on each side, which meant the roads had a number of twists and turns.  Generally the roads were in good shape and, when it wasn't raining, made for good riding at speeds in the 60mph range.

Riding in this setting is particularly fun.   The first series of water we encountered was the Laird River, which was about 80 miles from Watson Lake around the town of Fireside.  A few miles later, we reached Muncho lake.  There is considerable copper in the mountains around this lake and enough copper oxide seeps into the lake to give it distinctive blue and green colors .  We took some pictures, but they didn't do justice to the unique color of the lake.

I also experiemented with the new camera mounted on my handlebars around this lake.  I had Josh and Jared drive slower so we can see how it works.  We have included a couple of these pictures.  The Kodak takes some good pictures.

We had lunch at Toad River Post, a very good local restaurant.  Thier buffalo burgers were particularly good.  It's claim to fame is that visitors often "donate" their hats to the restaurant, which mounts them on the ceiling.  Currently, there are over 7500 caps covering the ceiling from around the world. 

We also road along the banks of Summit Lake and the Testa River

As we crested the rockies headed to Ft Nelson, we encountered some of the worst weather of the trip.  It was raining, cold and extremely foggy.  However in less than a mile on the other side, it stopped raining and cleared up, which made for a great ride into Fort Nelson.

We decided to stay at the Woodlands Inn in Fort Nelson, which appears to be fairly new and is consistent with a Hampton Inn/Marriott Courtyard - a rarity thus far for accomodations along the Alaskan highway.   

Tomorrow we head for Dawson Creek, the end of our ride on the Alaska Highway--more on that tomorrow.

Day 7: Ft Nelson to Dawson Creek (British Columbia)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
7
Total Miles to Date: 
1943
Miles For Today: 
315
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

We made it to Dawson Creek, British Columbia - the beginning of the Alaska Highway.  This marked the end of our journey along the entire length of the Alaska highway. 

A little delayed background on the Alaska Highway.  It was completed in October 1942, immediately following the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor.  The purpose of the road was to ensure that supplies could reach Alaska if the Japanese attacked and controlled the Bering Straight. It covers approximately 1,400 miles from Delta Junction, Alaska to Dawson Creek was built by by over 10,000 GI's in 8 months and 12 days - a phenomenal feat given the terrain and environment.  It is listed as the 16th wonder of the world.

Today was by far the best weather we have had on this trip.  In fact, it was the first time we were able to ride more than 100 miles without rain.  The roads were straight and long with very little traffic until we got near Dawson Creek--it reminds me of 301 from Allendale S.C. to Statesboro Ga. While the riding conditions were great, the scenery was not particularly noteworthy.  Therefore, it provided a great opportunity for the IPOD--some Buddy Holly, Abba and Four Non Blondes.

From Ft Nelson to Ft St John was open road and we really made good time. While 55-60 has been our maximun speeds to this point, this section supported speeds up to 75mph.  From Ft St John to Dawson Creek  (about 50 miles)  it became more congested as we passed more homes on this section than we did on the rest of the 1,400 miles from Delta Junction, Alaska.

On the outskirts of Dawson Creek, we took a side trip on a section of the Old Alaska Highway that has been subsequently replaced by some of the straightening of the road since its original construction.  We crossed the original curved wooden bridge spanning the Kiskatinaw river.  I have never seen a curved wooden bridge--the planks in the bridge are parallel to the road, rather than perpendicular as the wooden bridges that I have seen. We took some pictures and a video.

In Dawson Creek, we stopped at the "Zero" mile marker that designated the beginning of the Alaska highway (its in the center of town) and took a few pictures. 

We decided to wash our bikes and located a couple of car washes.  The first one we selected charged by  the minute and wouldn't let us share a bay.  As I was backing my bike up to leave, I lost my balance and laid it down.  Josh had to help me pick it up.  No damage done, other than a little to my ego--after driving over 1900 miles on nasty roads, in nasty weather, I lay my bike down while standing still in a car wash. We did get them washed at a different wash and they look a lot better.

We are having some technical difficulties with Josh's chatterbox.   Basically  he can hear Jared and Me when we speak,  but we can't hear him.  We are trying to decide if it is his unit or his custom wiring--I put my money on his wiring--but we'll see.

We are staying at a Best Western and had some good ribs at the adjacent Tony Roma's. 

We are excited about the next three days.  If the weather holds we are supposed to see some of the best views of the rockies available from a vehicle and take a fishing trip before we head east toward Calgary.

Since it was a slow day for scenery, we decided to take a few pictures of the gadgets we're toting on the trip.  Most notably the pink camera and GPS.  The pink camera is a replacement for breaking another camera that was mounted on my bike.  The pink Kodak works great, but I don't think we'll be able to keep it on the bike while going 60+mph (100+kmh) as it quickly became a bug magnet.  The GPS is a Harley-branded Garmin that's weatherproof.  It's been a nice toy to have around when trying to scout out a nearby town, gas station, or route change.

Day 8: Dawson Creek to Jasper (Alberta)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
8
Total Miles to Date: 
2267
Miles For Today: 
324
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

Today was a good driving day.  Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot to say about it...

We headed out from Dawson Creek for Jasper at our normal 10.30-11AM time.  The roads were in excellent condition with few potholes, bumps, or other obstructions.  I don't think we ran into any construction, or if we did it was very unmemorable, which is always a good thing.

As far as highlights go...the weather was pretty warm.  Jared thought it would be a good idea to run without gloves for a while today.  Although it provided some nice air conditioning while riding, after about half-an-hour of sans-glove riding, a truck kicked up a 3-inch rock (3-inches?? not sure it was quite that big - he still has a thumb - Josh) that nailed Jared's left thumb.  It hurt.  It hurt a lot.  And gloves were put back on promptly.

Pictures from today are pretty scarce. It was hard to pass up the great riding conditions (long straight aways, gentle curves, gradual grades, warm weather, no rain) to stop and take pictures, but we did manage to stop at a bridge and take some pictures of us on a cliff overlooking the Athabasca River and a couple of mountains.

We arrived in Jasper National Park later in the afternoon, which is a very beautiful and scenic place.  We decided to forgo pictures on the way in due to poor lighting conditions and a lack of good pull-off places to take them.  We're planning on exploring the park more tomorrow on our way to Banff, so stay tuned for lots of pictures (to make up for the scant selection from the past couple of days).

The town of Jasper is a sweet little place.  It has an old-Eurpean / ski-town feel with an eclectic city centre and hotels.  We had to scramble a bit to get a hotel, but managed to score a couple of rooms at the Astoria Inn.  All they had left were 2-twin rooms, so we made Kelly sleep on the bathroom floor (actually, we had to get 2 of the rooms since that was all that was left in town!).  The hotel has free internet (score), plus cable TV and air-conditioning.  It's amazing how few places we've stayed at have had these three features together (so what if we're city boys).

We ate dinner at the Downstream Pub.  Great place to pick up some pub food and a drink or two if you're in town.

Day 9: Jasper to Canmore (Alberta)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
9
Total Miles to Date: 
2462
Miles For Today: 
195
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

The only way to describe today is "absolutely awesume". 

This was a sightseeing and photo day rather than a motorcycle riding day. Total miles  covered was approximately 180 and most "iron buts" would consider that limited mileage laughable.  I do believe riding a motorcycle intensifies the experience of seeing some of the incredible sights of nature we drove by today.

After a good breakfast at the Astoria Inn, we spent some time in Jasper (Alberta Canada) this morning shopping for some items to send the wives and kids. 

We then left Jasper on the Icefields Parkway. This is a spectacular drive along the backbone of the North American Continent was designed expressly to dramatize the incredible landscape of the Canadian Rockies.  This parkway (highway 93) runs below the highest mountains in the Canadian Rockies.

Jasper is inside Jasper National Park which was established in 1907 and inthe largest park representing the Rocky Mountain region. We stopped at several points along the drive through  to absorb the views of deep valleys and ice capped peaks.  We have several pictures of these.

One of our stops was the Columbia Icefield and the Athabasca Glacier.  The glacier is fairly close to the Parkway, so you are allowed to drive near enough for a fairly short (but steep) walk to the base of the glacier.  Markings reflect the edge of the glacier in 10 year increments starting in 1982.   The amount the glacier has receded during this 25 year period is remarkable.  We took a number of photos and Josh got some good video of the Athabasca river runing under the glacier (actually created by the melting of the glacier).

Continuing on the Icefields Parkway, we were passed by about 25 bikes whose riders all had jackets with logos "Alberta Hell's Angels".  They all rode Harley's and "hogged" the road somewhat.  I was so surprised, I forgot to start my camera for a picture--what a missed opportunity.

I think my camera mounted on the handlebar of my bike is working pretty well . I took a number of pictures of Josh, Jared and the scenery as we travelled the parkway.  I think I took about 150 pictures and we culled to about 15 for uploading tonight.  You be the judge.

The Icefields Parkway also passes through Banff National Park.  This is the birthplace of Canada's national park system, created around the  mineral springs near Banff townsite.  Banff National Park has 25  of the 30 Canadian Rockies' peaks that exceed 10,000 feet.  Needless to say the sights were awe inspiring.  It was hard to concentrate on keeping the bike between the lines when you are looking at a 12,000 ft snow cap peak and a few weeks ago, you were in 100+ degree temperatures in Columbia SC.  We stopped at a number of the turnouts to take pictures. 

We visited Bow Summit, the highest point on the parkway (6785 ft) and visited the Peyto Lake viewpoint. You can see the lake and the Crowfoot Glacier.  Peyto Lake is one of the most photographed lakes in the world.  We have  a number of pictures of the  lake, the Glacier and surrounding peaks, and have included a few for this upload.

We continued down the Parkway to the town of Banff.  This is a peak season and we weren't able to get accomodations.  Apparently Banff is a very popular ski destination with over 4 million visitors annually.

Toninght we are  in Canmore Alberta.  We have scheduled a float/fly fishing trip tomorrow and this is where the guide suggested we meet him.  Canmore is located on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies and about one and 1/2 hours from Calgary.  In the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, Canmore hosted the Nordic events including biathlon and cross country skiing.

 

 

Day 10: Canmore to Calgary (Alberta)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
10
Total Miles to Date: 
2535
Miles For Today: 
73
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

Today we took a little break from the road and spent the day fishing on the Bow River just outside of Canmore.  We hired Jeff Perodeau, a guide from Banff Fishing Unlimited, to take us down the river and show us how to fly fish.  The day started early (for us), as Jeff picked us up around 9:00am.  Our first stop was Wapiti Sports to get our fishing licences, and then we headed off to the river. 

Jeff started us off with spinners one the side of the river while he put the boat in and, as quickly as we started, Jared hung his on the bottom and had to snap the line to free it (little did we know that this foreshadowed a common occurrence for the remainder of the day).  After tossing a few, we coasted down the river for awhile until Jeff stopped and let us cast a few more while he rigged the fly rods.  Jared and Kelly spent a lot of time hung in both the rocks and the trees, so we weren't able to actually start using the fly rods for a while, as poor Jeff kept having to either untangle or re-set their rods.  However, Jared was the beneficiary of the first fish of the day (actually, Jeff hung it and Jared pulled it in), and we thought that might bode well for the rest of the day.  

However, unlucky for us, the wind picked up and apparently, that isn't great for fly fishing.  For one, wind makes a mess of the water so the fish tend not to rise to the surface to feed off insects.  In addition, wind makes it incredibly difficult to cast a fly.  However, Jeff found a nice spot (away from the trees!) and spent time teaching each of us the proper technique.  In no time everyone had caught a couple of brown trout, with Jared having the best luck.  Unfortunately, they weren't but about 6-8 inches long - but it was fun nonetheless.    

After this stop, we didn't really have much luck the rest of the day until the last 20 minutes of the trip.  We were basically killing time on the way to the landing site - casting spinners and trolling on the bottom of the river - when Josh hung a nice size brown trout.  It was the size of fish we had expected to catch for most of the day (and with fly rods no less), but it wasn't meant to be.  Even still, it was a great day and Jeff was a great guide.

After fishing, we rode about 70 miles to the Deerfoot Inn and Casino in Calgary. We have to head out to buy a new Chatterbox tomorrow morning, so we are planning to get out early, as we need to start making better time for the remainder of the week if we ever plan on making it back. 

 

 

Day 11: Calgary to Saskatoon (Saskatchewan)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
11
Total Miles to Date: 
2935
Miles For Today: 
400
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

Today was all about driving.

We awoke in Calgary after a brief night of losing a few bucks at the Casino to drive to Bow Cycles and pick up a new Chatterbox for our broken unit.  We can't say that the new unit works better than the other, as Kelly had it plugged in improperly today so it still didn't work.  Perhaps better luck tomorrow.

Leaving the bike store, we headed out across the praries of Canada for Saskatoon.  The scenery for the day was mostly farmland.  Kelly was impressed at the immense size of the farms, where they apparently average thousands of acres, and are rarely corporate owned.

No crazy adventures today, or terribly interesting stories.  Josh's GPS led us down some unusual roads today.  Several of them weren't paved.  Reminded us of Alaska (not necessarily a good thing).

One thing of note is that the weather today was considerably warmer.  The days of wearing the full-out Harley space suit may be coming to an end.  And another change was the insane amount of bugs we ran into (literally) driving across the countryside.  The bikes and our clothes resemble a bug killing field, and we're pretty sure that the yellow-jackets following us around later in the day were trying to seek revenge for their fallen brothers.

Again, we find ourselves roughing it tonight.  I'm writing this from the cozy Sheraton Cavalier Saskatoon.  Josh had hoped that we would stay some 20 miles past Saskatoon tonight, but the only place we found offered single rooms for $35, and it took Kelly all of 20 seconds to walk in and walk out saying that we were heading back to Saskatoon.  Must have been pretty bad.

Tomorrow is set to be another long day.  The bell-hop mentioned that drive to Winnepeg is an 8 hour affair.  That means it'll probably take us close to 10-11 via bike.  Pictures might be scarce tomorrow as well, but we'll try to make up for it when we hit the great lakes.

Day 12: Saskatoon to Winnipeg (Manitoba)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
12
Total Miles to Date: 
3428
Miles For Today: 
493
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

The theme for today was to "rack up mileage"

After a restful evening at a nice Sheration in Saskatoon, we got the earliest start (9:30 am) and the most miles (493) of any day yet.  Saskatoon is the largest city in Saskatchewan and primarily an agricultural center.

Continuing down the Trans Canada Highway, the landscape is primarily agricultural land.  While this makes for excellent riding conditions--long straight roads with very little trafic,--it is not particularly conducive to much variety in photography.  Therefore, we took very few pictures today.

The primary difference in the terrain in Saskatchewan and Manitoba is the size of the fields.  In Saskatchewan, they seem to go as far as you can see,  While the fields are still large in Manitoba, many oare bordered by trees or drainage ditches providing more definiton.

There was a gravel pull out at the sign entering Manitoba.  We stopped there for a couple of pictures.  Josh and Jared were horsing around to see if they could spin the back wheels of their bikes and throw the gravel.  Jared was able to do this with his three wheeler, but Josh didn't realize how heavy his bike was and ended up laying it down.  No damage done other than a little to Josh's ego and we had a good laugh after it was all over.

The last two hours was slow going as we encountered a rough thunder storm and heavy wind.  The rain drops were so big, they felt like small hail. We had planned to stop east of Winnipeg, however,  it was late, dark and we were tired.  We spotted a Howard Johnson across the street from our last gas stop and decided to call it a day.  Another first--a room under $100

A local Chinese restaurant provided us a good meal and we are getting ready for another long day tomorrow.  The trip the Thunder Bay is supposed to be more scenic than today's, but it is over 400 miles.  Hopefully, we can take some more pictures.

The tentative plan if for the trip to end in Appleton Friday Afternoon.  Josh and Jared will fly home Saturday.  This schedule continues to be dependent on the weather and our progress.

 

 

Day 13: Winnipeg to Thunder Bay (Ontario)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
13
Total Miles to Date: 
3901
Miles For Today: 
473
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

A repeat of yesterday as it relates to terrain and photos:

The  trip from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay  was long.  We again exceeded our daily mileage (473) and the hours on the road (11). 

The terrain continued to evolve from agricultural to forest and from flat to more rolling.  We were interrupted several times for contruction--in one case in the middle of the small town of Kenora where we had stopped for gas. They had dug up the center of town to rearrange facilities that would accomodate more visitors, and we were trapped for a good hour as the heavy traffic wound it's way through the small town.

We crossed the border into Ontario early in the day as we continued on the the trans- Alaska highway.  This is a good road, but it has only two lanes without many opportunities to pass.  It is surprising that a major highway  connecting important sections of a country as developed as Canada is still only two lanes.  The commercial traffic was pretty heavy and, in our country, this would clearly be a major thoroughfare justifying either four lanes or interstate status.

Thunder Bay is on the shores of Lake Superior and is a major shipping hub for the agricultural products grown on the Canadian Prairies to the rest of the worldThe trip today was exhausting. 

As you can see we took very few photo's primarily because we didn't see anything particularly unique to justify spending much of the precious time we have left on the trip for a photo. I am enjoying taking photos from the digital camer mounted on the handlebars of my motorcycle.  Some turn out pretty good.

We are eagerly anticipating the trip tomorrow around the north shore of Lake Superior ending at Sault (Soo) Ste. Marie.   Lake Superior is the least polluted and most westerly of the Great Lakes, and the world's largest body of fresh water.  We are planning an early departure with time to add to our photo file.

 

 

Day 14: Thunder Bay to Sault Ste Marie (Ontario)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
14
Total Miles to Date: 
4332
Miles For Today: 
433
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

Mother nature had her way with us today.

The best laid plans have to be flexible enough to deal with obstacle you can't control.  Apparently, the remnants of hurricane Fay reached the great lakes/southern Ontario area yesterday.  As we were leaving Thunder Bay, it began to rain.  It rained constantly for about 400 of the 430 miles to Sault St Marie. At times the rain was so hard you could barely see the the ground in front of you.  At other times, the fog was as thick as soup.  We considered stopping and waiting it out. Each time we would have to ride to the next town (usually 60-80 miles) for a place to stay. By the time we got there the rain would have slacked some and the fog lifted and we would continue. After a few miles, the intensity would increase and the cycle would repeat. Most everything got soaked.

We did see some of the potential beauty of this drive with an occasional peak through the clouds.  Much of the road runs right along the bed of the lake and we will need to eventually return to experience this again.

South Carolina had it's opening game last night and Jared's target was for us to be in the room by kickoff---8pm.  We made it by 8:10pm,  but the game was not showing on the Canadian Sports Network, so he had to settle for listening on XM radio.  The win was a nice ending to an  otherwise trying day.

Very few pictures.  We are headed  back to the US and Appleton today.  Weather permitting, we have some time to add to our picture portfolio.

(Side note by Jared:  It appears that we have tracked down a design flaw in our great Harley Davidson FXRG all-weather suits.  Up until today we have praised these suits for keeping us warm and dry through the terrible weather.  However, it appears that the FXRG was no match for the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay.  After being soaked by steady rains for over an hour, the rain located a vulnerability in the water-proofing of the FXRG located near the zipper of the pants.  Apparently there is a small gap where water can seep in between the zipper and the liner of the crotch.  The result: Kelly and Jared ended up looking like Charter Members of the Billy Madison Cool People Club - Ontario.  Anyone looking to buy this suit should beware: it handles great in mild rain or short bursts of downpours, but not very well in constant downpour.  You might want to find additional waterproof protection in this circumstance...or just get out of the rain like a normal person.)

 

Day 15: Sault Ste Marie to Appleton (Wisconsin)

Trip Details
Trip Day Number: 
15
Total Miles to Date: 
4661
Miles For Today: 
329
trip daily map
Map for Today: 

Gorgeous weather today:

After yesterday, we got a late start on the last day of our trip. It can be difficult getting Josh and Jared up under normal conditions and particularly so when the previous day was so difficult.

Our hotel was only a couple of miles from the USA border and we spent a good bit of time  getting through customs-the line was long and it moved slowly.

While the weather was bad the previous day along the northern shore of lake Superior, it was excellent along the northern shore of Lake Michigan.  The road runs along the lake side for long stretches.  The riding was fun. We are still waterlogged from yesterday, but the sun is warm and things are beginning to dry out and return to normal.

We made it to Appleton around 6PM and have concluded the Trip. 

Josh and Jared are on their way home to their familes.  

More to come from each of us as we reflect on this