4,430 Miles from Utah To Alaska
WWelcome to something new on CanyonChasers. The Short-Attention-Span version of our Alaska Road trip! With more photo's and less words, this is the quicker and easier to digest version of our most epic and popular motorcycle adventure.
- Day 1 - Another Adventure Begins
- Day 2 - Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Helena, Montana
- Day 3 - Glacier National Park to West Glacier, Montana
- Day 4 - Entering Canada and Banff, Alberta, Canada
- Day 5 - Promenade Des Glaciers and Some Unexpected News
- Day 6 - Prince George, BC to Alaska!
- Day 7 - Riding an Alaskan Glacier Then Becoming Fugitives
- Day 8 - Racing to the Ferry
- Day 9 - 18 Hours of Waiting
- Day 10 - Correcting Past Mistakes
- Day 11 - Lost in Hong-Couver
- Day 12 - The Strangest of all Camping Experiences
- Day 13 - Tire Failure!
- Day 14 - Just Trying to Get Home
Day 1 - Saturday, 28 July 2007 | 380 miles (612km)
I was offered a new job and had to choose between being paid out for leave or taking leave. So we decided, very last minute, to take two weeks and Ride to Alaska. Salt Lake was having the most intense heat wave in recorded history and North sounded great. I would be riding the Multistrada and although it was a new bike, I questioned its ability to go the distance. I also questioned the ability of Kris (my wife) Z1000 to handle the great "unknown". But whats an adventure without some level of uncertainty.
Two of our riding pals, Mike and Kam were going to ride out with us the first day. Kam is from Michigan, out to Utah for the summer, and really wanted to see as much of the west as possible. So we met up at a local favorite greasy spoon "Over The Counter" for some awesome greasy food to lube up the start of our ride.
We started out by taking our favorite local canyons. East Canyon, Monte Cristo Canyon then the back side of Bear Lake, a little known road the twists its way north, away from the touristy towns of Garden City.
After stopping for gas and some snacking we headed off for another favorite local canyon. Tin Cup Canyon. Then it was just one small canyon between Alpine Junction Wyoming and Hoback Junction where we would be staying at a KOA.
When I was in college, a wildfire, then some heavy rains turned this canyon into a muddy mess. Its been under construction for almost 15 years and has just barely been completed. I miss the old version. It was a lot more technical and fun.
We ran into Jackson Hole for the evening then up to the Tetons for some pictures in the evening sunlight.
Day 2 - Sunday, 29 July 2007 | 331 miles (533km)
The next morning, Kris and I were on our own as Mike and Kam headed back to Salt Lake. We rode north into Yellowstone Park and purchased the Interagency Recreation Pass for $80 bucks (as opposed to $20 per motorcycle), since we planned on going through several National Parks over the course of the next two weeks.
We were surprised that there was virtually no traffic in Yellowstone. This never happens.
That is until we came up to this mess.
Me, being me, I had to split up to the front of this traffic mess to see what was going on. There was a herd of buffalo taking their morning stroll across the highway, and of course the tourists were having a grand time watching it. Having seen plenty of buffalo, I was more interested in moving forward.
However, my assertive nature left my wife to contend with a buffalo who did not appreciate the mechanical syphony of a dry clutch rattling.
Then we got passed at a very high rate of speed by this guy on a BMW.
We then took the recently repaved "grand loop road" that goes over the top of Yellowstone and came across a Grizzly Bear and two cubs (also crossing the road). There were rangers there who were preventing us from slowing or stopping - they also prevented us from taking any photos - I also learned that Grizzly Bear Cubs do appreciate the dry clutch rattle, while Grizzly Bear mothers do not.
Soon we had Yellowstone, and all associated traffic behind us with only the stark emptiness of Montana and its big skies before us. I'd just assume cross Nevada as Montana. It has too much emptiness and too many straight roads for my taste. But Glacier National Park was calling, so we knuckled down and rocked out some miles.
The plethora of wildfires kept the skies hazy, but at least it blocked out the intensity of the sun as it was still very very hot.
At least the haze made for some pretty cool photos. But as we neared Helena, an intense wind storm kicked up and as a result a massive wildfire burning to the East of us also kicked up. Its kinda hard to see in this photo, but there is a good sized plume of smoke mixed in with those clouds.
We had hoped to camp in Helena, but there was no place that we could find that made me want to lay out a tent. That and it was still close to 98-degrees even as the sun was setting. So we settled on a Days Inn and settled in for the evening. The smoke made for eerie looking evenings, and the ash falling from the sky made it look a bit like winter, despite the miserable heat.
Day 3 - Monday, 30 July 2007 | 268 miles (431 km)
The next morning we headed north on I-15. The world looked a bit more "normal" until we started climbing into the mountains to the North of town. Also, I-15 turned into a decent little road with corners and everything!
I noticed on my trusty Rand McNally that the old highway was still paved and in good shape, so we popped off the freeway and took the old highway for several miles of fantastic riding that split the difference between the river and the freeway. It was such a great road that I neglected to grab any snaps.
After that, there was nothing but lots of straight road. A little bit of construction, and more straight roads. Even with it all, the smoky skies gave the world a surreal feel and we felt like we were the only ones on the planet as we would go 50 miles at times without seeing another human being or even signs of civilization more advanced than a barbed wire fence.
As we drew closer to Glacier National Park, we appeared to be at the source of all the smoke. Wildland Fire Fighters were everywhere and roads were closed. I really wanted to go into East Glacier Park and take a small side road that I'd heard tell about but we were greeted with this sign.
Careful examination of the map revealed that we only needed to go 13 miles - phew!
The smoke turned the world red, but we were still having a fantastic time. As we rode West suddenly we were greeted with this view.
It looked a lot better in real life. We arrived into the town of East Glacier and were immediately disappointed. It was a mangy little place and run down. But it was also the best way for us to get onto Highway 49, Looking Glass Hill Road.
Highway 49 was an amazing little road, full of tight blind corners and amazing vistas. We came around a corner and just had to stop for a few snaps.
I had seen this photo of Glacier before, but never knew where it was taken from. Now I, and you, do!
We were definitely having a great time! We continued onward and rode straight through the area of Glacier that burned a few years ago.
Like most National Parks, as soon as we passed through the main gates, the world seemed to change.
We told our parents about Glacier and how pretty it was. But every time my parents come here it is socked in and all they see is low hanging clouds. We have the opposite conditions.
Do I have a great wife or what?
While riding through the Park, I didn't want to stop to take every photo I wanted to grab, so I was trying to take photos while riding. They were good and all, but lacked something. Then inspiration struck!
Remember "The Dukes of Hazzard"? I started taking photos of almost everything!
The higher you go in Glacier, the more amazing the scenery gets. I can't imagine just riding through and not stopping.
We were getting hungry and planned on stopping at the top, thinking that for sure they would have a restaurant at the top of this amazing mountain pass. So we pressed on. Up top, the save the best parking spaces for the motorcycles. More places should be so considerate.
We were very sad to learn that there was no food available at the top. Not even a vending machine. I searched the map and learned that we had to go back down the mountain to find food. This was an issue because although I have the most amazing wife on the planet, she is prone to getting "hangry". When she is hungry she becomes a very angry person. We must go NOW!
We got back to the parking lot just as this glut of "bikers" pulled in. All with blaring loud pipes, and bike radios (all playing different music) they came rumbling in, destroying the serene mountain setting. All the tourists seemed to stop and stare/glare at the "ugly Americans" and their obnoxiously loud bikes. I wanted to leave and get away from these people, ashamed of the guilt by association I received as soon as we reached the bikes.
Riding down the western slope of Glacier is a real treat! The alpine mountains are just stunning, and the fact that there is a road wandering its way back down seems to make the view that much more impressive. There is a definite European flair to the whole thing.
We couldn't have asked for better weather, and once again, traffic was relatively light, considering it was a National Park.
We didn't want to run into traffic unnecessarily, so we kept the speeds sedate and absorbed the views - which there was plenty to look at - it was probably more exciting to us after having crossed the desolate prairies of Montana. And of course, what canyon is complete without bad drivers crossing the double-yellow line in blind corners.
Our traffic free bliss soon came to an end when we hit construction. The park is rebuilding all the rock walls that border the road. They were constructed by the CCC during the depression, before rebar and stuff. So now if a SUV goes wide it just punches through the rock wall and falls 10,000,000 feet (give or take 10,000,000) to their doom.
As we got back down to the far side, the day was already starting to come to a close and the time since last eating was long enough that even I was starting to thing more about food than the scenery.
But we stopped one more time to check out the incredible water running alongside the road.
We'd stopped here years before, so I stopped again more out of nostalgia than a desire to really see anything particular.
"C'mon already! Its time to eat" Kris was not in the mood to have her photo taken. We stopped in the park and got some overpriced, but very good pizza which brought our blood-sugar levels back to where they belonged. Then it was time to find a place for the evening. We happened upon this small, family owned campground that was just fantastic!
Nestled in the tree's, we were ready to stop for the evening. Although it was still oppressively hot! I had fit a cigarette lighter plug to both bikes so we could use a dc air pump for ultimate comfort. Surprisingly, we've found that the queen sized air mattress and air pump take up about as much space as two thermarests, but offer significantly more comfort over more types of varying terrain.
Day 4 - Tuesday, 31 July 2007 | 309 miles (497km)
And what ride report would be complete without the "view from the tent" photograph.
We got up, grabbed a quick breakfast (with really lousy service) and headed north to Canada. We'd be crossing the border at Roosville and were hoping that the road between here and there would make for good riding. Unfortunately, the roads were drearily straight.
We arrived at the border, and there was a fairly long line to get across the border. When I first heard the news about passports possibly being required to cross into Canada more than I year ago, I promptly applied for a renewal. My passport arrived almost six months later in February. I can't imagine if I would have waited. Waiting to cross the border, we heard significant amounts of gun fire coming from beyond the tree line. When I finally got my chance to speak with the border guard, I asked about it. She said it was Canadians trying to get into America. I responded, surely not. With our current administration it must be American's trying to get into America. She laughed and promptly handed me back my passport and waved me through.
Yah for Canada and a much superior base-10 measurement system! And yay for bikes that allow you to swith away from the inferior base-12 measurement system!
While not very exciting, the Canadian roads were in immaculate conditions, despite the fact that almost every bridge we encoutered looked to be at least 60 years old.
Just like America, as soon as we crossed into Kootenay National Park, the scenery was stunning. Interestingly, you buy your park pass in 24-hour increments. Much nicer than buying Seven days - particularly since its about $15 for 24-hours. And since the American dollar is so weak now (only a six cent advantage over the Canadian dollar) everything was a bit expensive.
The mountains seemed to reach north forever as we rode up the center of a long valley. The road was finally more interesting. Even though the speed limits were set rather conservatively, nobody seemed to mind our "elevated" levels of forward progress. And has been consistent with our experiences in the past, Canadians seem more than happy to move to the right, to drive on the shoulder, to facilitate our passing them.
We finally arrived in Banff to the sight of the supremely impressive Mt. Rundle.
Being on a budget as we were, we opted for a campsite thinking that hotels in Banff would likely be a bit pricey. We learned real fast why the campground were so empty. The evil mosquitoes.
We went into Banff to discover that the entire town was torn up while they replaced the aging sewer system. I was, initially, irritated by all the barricades, but eventually gave in and started taking photos of the level of construction. Funnily enough, Banff has an entire campaign for the sewer reconstruction with squirrel mascots and everything. I found that a bit odd.
After dinner we went back to our campground to fill out postcards for friends and family. We ended up spending the majority of our evening swatting away the demonic mosquitoes.
Day 5 – Wednesday, 1 August 2007 | 409 miles (659km)
With the insect invasion, we didn't get a very good nights rest and were roused to awakeness rather early. Kris was not ready to rise and shine.
Leaving town, I took a wrong turn and ended up riding up a steep mountain road towards a ski area. I'd realized my error quickly but the view of Banff was so epic, that we rode farther up until we found a great place to grab some more snaps.
We didn't want to head back into the construction zone for breakfast, so we rode north into the park looking for this cute little joint we'd gotten breakfast at several years ago when we came this way. The ride getting there was fantastic. For the first time we were enjoying cooler temperatures and it was fantastic! I had closed vents on my jacket for the first time since May.
After breakfast we were back on the main road up the Park. There was more traffic than we'd seen in a while, but the roads are wide enough that passing wasn't a problem, and we were stopping often enough that traffic never felt like a problem.
The morning light was making for brilliant photos as well.
And the weather was perfect. Cool enough that you didn't mind wearing the jacket and it was easier to just leave it on when stopped. Riding in the morning was nice too because the air was totally calm, making for those epic reflective shots.
We only ran into two jerks during the entire trip. Right after this stop was jerk number one. He was riding really slowly with his wife, who was pretty shaky. So we passed them very carefully, but just happened to pass the guy on the double-yellow line (it was totally open and clear - could see for miles), as we passed he pointed down at the double-yellow line emphatically. "yeah, yeah, we see it". At the next stop he came over and started yelling at us for our wrecklessness. I asked "did i do anything that affected you or your wives safety in any way?" i asked. "...no, but you give all bikers a bad name when you ride like that." I just rolled my eyes and walked away from him.... Uhh whatever dude, but I daresay that loud-pipes are the numero uno culprit of that... anyway....
With Mr. Grumpy Bottoms far behind us, we were left to enjoy ourselves again.
The riding was just spectacular! And we were having a fantastic time digesting all there was to see.
The road started climbing and the temperatures really started to drop. Not that we minded. The cool was such a fantastic respite from what we'd been dealing with back home. However, we started to realize just how stupid American Standards of Measurement are. We were having a real hard time communicating with people. Us: "It was 108 degrees when we left home" Canadian/European: "WHAT!?!?" Us: "Uhm, er... ahh... 20, no.. 30 no... about 45-degrees"..
Little did we know, Glacier was just the tip of the epic scenery we had in store for us.
We don't have any wee-ones back home. But we do have a great dog. Jake. We found him in a cardboard box in the middle of winter several years ago. He was maybe 6-weeks old when we found him almost 10 years ago, and he's been the best dog I've ever had. So we started buying him stuffed animals when we travel, then leave them outside the luggage so they pick up scents from everywhere we go. We stopped in Jasper and found Jake a stuffed bear. Unfortunately, the best place to put the stuffed bear was on the back seat of the Multistrada. So now I had a passenger.
He would become my constant companion for the rest of the trip, and surprisingly, nobody we met or talked to said anything about a grown man traveling with a stuffed toy.
We started heading towards Prince George thinking we'd stop any old place whenever the mood struck us right. We rode out of the park and for almost 100km when we decided to stop at this really nice rest area. Not at all like American rest stops.
Our "soft" plan had been to catch the ferry between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy (Vancouver island) on our way back to save us a couple days of riding and for a day of rest from riding. We learned at the rest stop that the Ferry was booked solid for a month in advance and that it only runs half the schedule listed because two years ago the ferry sank to the bottom of the ocean, killing three passengers. Cripes!
This meant that we had to elevate the pace of our riding by one full day. Instead of getting to stop just anyplace we'd have to beat-feet to Prince George by tonight. Roughly 400km.
So off we went into the setting sun - squinting into the setting sun...
The vegetation is so dense up there, that we couldn't see the forest because all the tree's were in the way. In fact the scenery looked almost exactly the same for hours and hours.
We stopped one last time, quite by accident fortunately. Because after this gas station, there was nothing else but pine tree's for 200km.
I tried to take photos of the scenery along the way but the bugs were just horrible. I even managed to catch one with the lens of the camera. That pretty much ended me taking photos (my only source of entertainment) until the bugs got so bad we had to stop to clean our visors.
With the sun setting and the temperatures dropping we were ready to stop for the evening. But we stil had a ways to go. The roads themselves were in perfect condition, but they were pretty boring. Mostly straight with the occasional sweeping corner. We tried pretty hard to keep our speeds down to save the tires.
At long last we arrived in Prince George. I don't know what I expected from this town but, I hope I'm not offending anyone, but Prince George is a pit. It seems very much like a boom/bust town.
Opting for a nicer hotel in a nicer part of town, we found ourselves at a Days Inn.
The hotel management insisted that we park in the front windows of the hotel and went on and on about how nice it was to have the construction across the street because it was double the security. We tucked the bikes in and went to check on the room. It was like any other Days Inn except for the view from the window.
We've definitely stayed in nicer places. But Kris fear of bears prevented us from even considering a campground. Ahh well. We went downstairs for dinner, but the bar (the only thing open) had stopped serving food. So they sent us down the street to a place called Shooters. The walk was a bit sketchy, but Shooters was a fantastic brew-pub, sports bar with excellent food and great service. In fact, every Canadian we'd met so far had been exceptionally pleasant.
Day 6 – Thursday, 2 August 2007 | 436 miles (703km)
We woke up the next morning and had a hotel breakfast before heading out. Today we would reach Alaska! Once again, the sky was perfectly clear and it was nice and warm. This was becoming a bit of a problem as we had packed all wet riding gear and all cold weather gear. We were woefully overgeared and kept buying t-shirts at every opportunity.
Despite high gas prices, we were still seeing a fair bit of campers and RV's (shameless plug for canyonchasers t-shirt), but the wide roads made it rather easy to pass these things.
Apparently it was "BC Days" or British Columbia Days. A three-day weekend similar to the American Labor Day or Memorial Day. The locals said there are a couple of these during the summer because Canadian summers are so short.
Another observation I made while riding west from Prince George was the amount of beetle kill. There were litterally millions of dead tree's just along the road! I anticipate this will have some long term affects not only on the logging industry up there, but there is some real potential for some ecological problems.
There were also a lot of really cute communities between Prince Geroge and Kitwanga. Way more civilization than I would have expected.
For over 400km, the roads looked just like this. Perfect asphalt!
Then we came around the bend in Houston, BC and discovered this immense mountain. Out of nowhere! The terrain was finally starting to change!
We stopped for food and fuel and I'm putting in this photo just because I really like it.
Apparently, this section of Canada Highway 16, The Yellowhead Highway, has a pretty ominous history. Its is nicknamed the Highway of Tears. Since 1988, at least 32 women--31 of them Native--have been killed or suspiciously disappeared along the 800-kilometer (500-mile) section of highway between Prince George to Prince Rupert. These crimes have remained largely uninvestigated. There were billboards all over the place and warnings in every gas station we stopped in warning women not to hitchhike. Creepy.
But I was getting a lot better at perfecting my Hazzard Cam techniques required for good photographs while riding. Kris even managed to capture a few of my moto-acrobatics.
But how can you complain when such antics result in photos such as this one:
Tell me that doesn't make you feel like you are there riding with us? Clouds did start to move in and we actually rode on some moist road for the first time since leaving Salt Lake. And the sun was starting to set and we were running out of daylight.
We finally arrived in Kitiwanga, and were very happy find a gas station. It was obviously the last gas station for a while because it was the busiest place we'd seen since leaving Banff. And they had the really cool "Alaska" sign.
We were actually a bit worried about gas and were happy that we'd stowed four liters of fuel in our luggage.
As soon as we started riding north on Highway 37, the riding got better. More corners and the condition of the road was even better than what we'd been riding on for the last 1000km! We decided to swap bikes, and this would prove to be a dire mistake. Kris rode the Multistrada for the first time. She'd ridden the demo model at our local Salt Lake Motorsports Ducati shop, but never our MTS.
Kris thought she would have a hard time going from her 130hp Z1000 to the 90hp MTS, but the opposite was true. The MTS feels significantly faster and more powerful than the Z! Plus the power delivery and the torque of the Ducati made it an ideal road motorcycle. I immediately wanted to get back to the Ducati and off the infernal Z.
But Kris would not have it. We'd been trying to ride at about 110-120kph (70mph) to save tires but as soon as Kris got on the MTS she was rallying off at over 140kph (90mph). The Z was frantically trying to keep up with the "underpowered" ducati. I was using Kris old 2mp Canon with a flaky battery, so I only got two blurry photos (as opposed to my camera, the new Canon SD800 with wide angle lens and image stabiliztion - the greatest motorcycle camera the world has ever known - sorry for the extra shameless plug).
Anyway, I only got the two photos of Kris riding on her camera before the battery died. No sooner had it died, and I was racing to keep up with but I saw a log on the side of the road that looked just like a bea... NO Wait! It was an actual Bear! Sitting right by the side of the road eating berries! I slowed down and pulled a U-turn heading back to the bear. I rode by very slowly to see what he was going to do, and he just watched me while eating his berries. So I did another U-turn coming past the bear a third time wishing like mad I was on the Ducati with my camera in the tank-bag. As i got close to the bear the third time he grunted at me then rolled over his shoulder, his back feet coming up into the air as he rolled down the hill and was gone! We were not in Utah anymore!
We stopped a few miles later to discuss the bear and Kris reluctantly gave the Ducati back only because of the camera issue. ;) The would continually hide and steal the keys from me for the rest of the trip and said that riding the Ducati was the biggest mistake of the trip because she never had as much fun on the Z after that.
Can you believe these roads!?!? I expected we would be riding in muck and mire and instead the roads were better than American roads!
The farther north we rode, the better the riding and the better the scenery! We caught a few more miles of damp road, but still no water had fallen on us.
We were just riding along (JRA) when we came around a tight left hand corner onto a wooden bridge. We've dealt with this before, but always wonder what this would be like in wet or snowy conditions?
It didn't look very grippy...
And we were just beside ourselves with how perfect the afternoon was becoming. Little did we know....
We arrived at the turn-off to Alaska. Kris' dream was finally coming to fruition. She'd dreampt of making this ride for as long as I'd known her (near 15 years now... wow...)
Riding straight into the sun isn't the optimum riding conditions, but we were just shocked that we were experiencing this section of road in the dry at all. We fully expected it to be soggy and wet.
I really like how this photo turned out.
Then we came to a glacier! We were not expecting this! So we stopped. Turns out its Bear Glacier.
Kris was really having the time of her life. She was absolutely infectious. It made it so much more fun for me to watch her glee.
Bear Glacier is right there by the side of the road and ice was sloughing off into the water while we were there watching. It was awesome!
For many of you this may look familiar! The final scene from Insomnia with Robin Williams and Al Pacino was filmed here! But we were getting really low on gas and it was getting to be late in the day so it was time to move on.
But the riding was just fantastic. It was so scenic that we were having a hard time traveling very fast because we wanted to see everything!
We passed through the small community of Stewart BC, then the road follows and steep mountain and appears to head out to the ocean.
We came around one last corner and alas! We had made it! :D I really wish we would have gotten a shot with us here.
Knowing a little of what to expect from posts here and reading Ayers books, we rode straight to the Sealaska Inn. How could we stay anywhere else. The website isn't near as charming as the actual place. We were given premium treatment being motorcyclists and got one of the better rooms!
The laundromat is on the right. We checked into the room and was immediately impressed!
They knew we were coming! How considerate.
Two other motorcyclists were staying in the room next to us. A father son team from Boise and Portland respectively. But the view from the front porch was better than most five star hotels!
Everything we needed, excellent sea-food, good beer, bug spray and great scenery! We are right about here!
And I have to say the the Sealaska Inn is about the friendliest place we've ever had the pleasure to stay! It's worth the trip just to hang out in the bar and we are not even bar people!
Day 7 – Friday, 3 August 2007
We woke up a bit late the next morning to another stunningly clear Alaska morning. The locals said that today and the day before were the first sunny days they'd had since May! We must have brought some clear Utah skies with us all the way from Salt Lake City!
We decided to take short walk off a long pier, so after sipping some Sealaska Inn coffee we ventured out.
Off to the left of the picture there were scads of Bald Eagles pulling fish out of the bay. We could seem them quite well with the binoculars, but neither of our cameras had adequate zoom lenses to capture the action. Oh well.
If you've crossed the northern border to visit our northern neighbors then you know about the swath of trees cut away along the international line. I'm in America, I'm in Canada!
We wanted to ride up the road to see the Bear Festival that was taking place, but we needed gas, so we'd have to cross back into Canada for fuel and breakfast. The local dog seemed a bit agitated by all the traffic.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat and filled the tank on the Multistrada, then came right back into Alaska.
There is no border crossing guard/shack to get from Canada to Alaska, and only a small little portable Quonset hut to get from Alaska to Canada, which is kinda stupid because there are several dirt roads you can take to circumvent the border crossing all together. When crossing from Alaska to Canada, we'd stop at the shack and the guard would come out and ask where we were going. We'd answer and promptly be waved through without so much as even checking our I.D.'s or anything.
So off we headed towards the Salmon Glacier. Kris opted to ride on the back of the Multistrada mostly because she hates riding in any kind of dirt and the Z isn't exactly well behaved in the dirt anyway.
This was the first time taking the Multi into the dirt, and actually my first time riding in the dirt since college. Not that these were bad dirt roads or anything...
But the Ducati was handing the slippery riding surface with out problem, and it was kinda cool to take an expensive Italian off-roading. We rounded a corner and found ourselves near the bottom of the glacier! Wow!
We'd been seeing these black and orange 50-gallon drums all over the place, then while riding up, we watched as a helicopter landed near a pair of these drums got out and started pumping fuel into the bird with a hand crank.
The higher we got, the more amazing the view became
And we weren't even close to the top yet! but we stopped again just below the summit.
The Salmon glacier, as you can see, comes down then splits in two directions. How crazy is that? I don't really know as we don't have many glaciers in Utah, but we were impressed regardless.
We tried to take a cuddle shot, but there was nothing to set the camera on, except for the ground.
We were having such a great time; we rode over the top and started down the other side looking for the toe of the far side of the glacier.
The road degraded a bit and eventually ended in a massive flow of water. Not being that adventurous, we opted to turn back.
I was officially sold on the Multistrada!
Heading back the other way, the views were just as amazing!
We truly felt as though we were on top of the world...
However, the steep descending really had me rather exhausted by the time we got back down to "town".
Then we became international fugitives! No, I'm not kidding.
We headed back to Canada to fill the tank again and spray off some of the mud. We stopped at the border shack and shut off the motor. We waited, and waited, and waited, and nothing was moving. So we waited some more. When nobody came out we figured maybe it wasn't such a big deal, so we started the bike and crossed back into Canada. We got to the fillin' station and a border guard came careening into the lot spewing gravel all over the place. "did you just run that border?" he yelled. "Uh, no..." we said. "Did you stop at the border" he asked. "Yeah..." we replied. "Did anybody come out?" He asked getting calmer with each question. "No, we stopped and waited for almost five minutes, then just left." we answered. "Ohh", he said. "Well, you need to go back and let them know, then" He said very calmly and matter of factly. And then left.
So we headed back, only now there was a line of about 10 cars waiting to get into Canada. We got in the end of the line and when it was our turn, the border guard pulled us to the side and made us wait while he finished with the rest of the cars. Then made us wait by our bike for about an hour and a half before he came back out to talk to us.
When he finally came out to talk to us, he said we were "border runners" and that border runners are subject to a $2000 fine and possible imprisonment. He went on a tirade, pulled our ID's did full background checks (another 20 minutes of waiting), then made us come inside the building where we were subject to a search of our persons (there was nothing on the bike fortunately). He berated us like common criminals.
Finally, I'd had enough. I calmly explained to him that we were not border runners, that we waited for near five minutes for him to come out, and that he had neglected to do his job, (I suspect he was sleeping and didn't relize we were there until I started the bike to leave) and that if he wanted to press charges we would happily explain everything to his supervisor. He backed down immediately, and then said that he would cut us a break but he had entered our names and passports into the computer, so we would be on the "watch list" if we ran another border we would most certainly be prosecuted. I was fuming, but thought it best to just leave. He was the first asshole Canadian we'd ever met.
When we returned home, we heard from several locals who've also crossed the border there who have also had extremely miserable experiences with the Hyder/Steward border crossing.
There wasn't much more left of the day, so we went back to the comfort of the Sealaska Inn and proceeded to drink much beer, then go to bed waking up feeling much better, if not anxious to get past the border again. However, the clouds had returned to the area.
Day 8 – Saturday, 4 August 2007 | 286 miles (460km)
Crossing the border was once again a breeze as our friend from the day before was not on duty, and before we knew it we were back on the road.
The car I'm passing was also from Utah, I honked and waved, but they didn't seem to notice and instead pulled off the road and checked their tires... Sorry about that...
We were sad to be leaving Alaska behind us, despite the wanker border guard, it was a wonderful experience. But now we had the pressure of making the ferry in Prince Rupert.
We thought we'd be riding under cloudy, dreary skies. And we were for several miles, then it just sorta dissipated as we rode inland, away from the coast.
Skies shining bright above us, we backtracked to Kitwanga and then linked back up with Hwy 16 that would take is directly west to Prince Rupert. Interesting, to us anyway, Prince Rupert would be the farthest west either of us had ever traveled by motorcycle.
It was another long day with lots of riding and we had the added bonus of hoping we'd be able to get on the ferry, otherwise we'd be doing this road again tomorrow.
There were a couple of cute little towns along the way, all of them in full BC-Days celebration! We stopped long enough to buy a new can of chain lube from a local Yamaha shop (that were very impressed by the Ducati) and continued west.
As we got closer to the coast not only did the weather get more ominous, but the road got better and soon we were winging our way around fast sweepers while battling an intense wind coming off the Skeena River.
Without stopping, we rode directly through the rather charming town of Prince Rupert on our way to the ferry.
Road weary and wind battered we visited the ticket window and asked about the best way to get on the ferry. We were told to arrive no later than 5am to get on the standby list. I asked what our odds of actually getting on the ferry were. "Very good" was the answer. "I can't promise you anything, obviously, but motorcycles pretty much always get on because we can squeeze them in just about anywhere." Phew! That was the answer we were hoping for. And since we were getting such honest service, I asked for a hotel recommendation which led us here.
It looked a lot nicer than it was, and the large grandmotherly woman who owned the joint was exceptionally helpful. "We only have the Jacuzzi suite left". Uh oh, I wondered - how much is this going to cost. "$54.95" was the answer. And what does one get for a $55 Jacuzzi suite...
You get a lot of pink, stained carpet and lamps that are moderately askew. But who were we to complain. The hotel overlooked the bay and we could listen to and watch the container ships, tanker ships, ferry boats and tugs move about. Being a closet lover of boats, I was delighted!
We also learned that our room was one of only two with its own bathroom. The rest of the hotel operated off of two communal toilets.
But it was off to see the town. For several days, whenever we said we were heading to Prince Rupert we were told "you must have dinner at Smiles! Its the best halibut on the planet!" Now, mind you, many bar fights have been fought over where the best halibut in the world comes from, and more ass has been wooped in the name of Hecate Straight, so one could say that the best halibut in the world comes from here to begin with, but if Smiles was the place to eat, Smiles was where we would go.
We got some bad directions because we were told Smile's was in Cow Bay. We thought this was a joke. But Cow Bay is the oldest area of Prince Rupert, it was originally named Cameron Cove. When the first dairy herd arrived in 1906, no dock had yet been built so the cows had to jump into the water and swam ashore. The locals always dubbed the area where they landed as "Cow Bay and today everything is painted in classic black and white cow print.
The food was of the very marginal deep fried fare but at least we got to wait in long lines and listen to scads of screaming kids for our warm beer and deep fried seafood.
We also hit up a RadioShack for an additional SD card for my Canon SD800 (The greatest motorcycle camera known to man with full time image stabilization and wide angle lens) and learned the meaning of unreasonable taxes. A $30 card cost almost $60 bucks by the time we'd paid all the associated taxes. Government Sales Tax, Province Sales Tax, Environmental Impact Tax, Sales Tax and Packaging Disposal Tax... sheesh...
We returned to our room and to improve our chances of getting to bed early and hopefully getting up early as well, we attacked a very expensive bottle of wine. 5am, still came way too early.
Day 9 – Sunday, 5 August 2007 | 319 miles (514km)
The grandmotherly hotel owner was awake when we started to stir and made us a pot of coffee! She was great!
Thinking we'd be the first in line, we found ourselves way back, but grabbed our passports and prepared to schmooze our way into a very over priced ferry ride. ($300 each). Mission: Schmooze a success we were allowed to move over to the "boarding" line.
The BC Ferries loading officer (who took this photo) was very impressed with the Ducati and couldn't believe that the engines were only assembled by female hands. He went on and on about it (as if I'm opposed to talking endlessly about my motorcycle) until it was time to board.
We were yet aware that the ferry that normally does this run sank a year or so ago. Here's the story »
We fastened the bikes down to the deck as best as possible. The Ferry workers really wanted us to tie the bikes at low points, but that just didn't make any sense to me, so I just tied the rope securely around the brake lever and the hand grips then said the magic words that must be said anytime one ties down a bike; "That ain't goin' nowhere" and went up top to get some breakfast.
It, surprising to me, took over an hour to load the boat up - but I suppose all the campers, RV's and tour busses are more difficult to load than our wee little bikes. But we were off, for our 14-hour ferry-boat ride. We were most excited to take a break and just leisurely hang out for a day.
Our leisure-ing started out with some coffee! 5am is very early - and it was 5am pacific time! That’s a lot earlier than any other American time.
This is about where the other ferry sank. Kris was a bit nervous.
We spent most of the day reading and enjoying the sun. The Ferry has a fresh fish fry on the back deck with food much better than the deep fried stuff we had the night before. We sat, read and watched the tourists until about mid-afternoon when we were far away from any land this little bird landed on the railing looking absolutely tuckered. With not enough energy to do much else, he landed on the deck and just stood there. The entire lot of passengers on the deck stopped everything and watched the little bird that was resting at our feet.
We went down below decks to check on our bikes and shed some unneeded riding gear and hats. It was kinda strange to see our bikes nestled in with all these massive vehicles.
Kris was pretty worried about her Z; or more worried about the minivan that was rocking precariously back and forth.
As the ferry crossed into open waters there was more boat movement than Kris enjoyed. She was trying really hard not to spew.
But while calming her stomach we watched as an Orca started jumping out of the water alongside the Ferry. I never got any photo's of the jumping whale, but this is where I thought it was going to jump.
After 14-hours of ferry-fun we finally arrived in Port Hardy. Only it was much later than we though it would be and learned that we could have made a hotel reservation the moment we got on the boat. However, now it was much to late, but at least we had priority boarding and disembarking on our side. We raced out into the frigid night air and to the first vacant hotel room.
It was really expensive and really not nice, but it was dry and warm and we slept very well (after killing off another bottle of wine).
Day 10 – Monday, 6 August 2007 | 266 miles (428km)
We woke up and after a very tepid shower we went out in search of breakfast and found "Cap'n Hardy's" breakfast. (as opposed to Cap'n Crunch). The breakfast was amazing and we were ready to ride the north end of Vancouver island. The north island was much nicer than the south island. Fewer people and better roads.
The morning did start out cloudy and somewhat dreary again, but as the day wore on, we were blanketed with blue skies again. Added to the most twisty roads we'd seen in a couple days we were, once again, having a fantastic time!
At long last we arrived at the Comox ferry - and not a moment too soon. We had a mere 5 minutes before it boarded.
This was the first familiar territory we'd been on since leaving Jasper so long ago. We had been looking forward to these three ferries since before leaving. They provide some of the best riding we've ever experienced.
We were munchy so we went up to the galley and grabbed some snacks which included a highly caffeinated and highly sugary frozen mocha substance. For whatever reason this threw Kris for a loop and she became very punchy - devouring all of her drink, then swiping mine and drinking all of it as well. The end result was my absolute favorite photograph from the entire trip. Forget the glaciers, the epic scenery, the road porn - this is my absolute favorite captured image.
We disembarked, behind a couple of lethargic cruisers who meandered about, wandering all over their lane and slowing unexpectedly. There was too much traffic coming the other direction for us to pass them, but they eventually pulled off to look at a home for sale.
What is so brilliant about this next section of road, is not only is the scenery just brilliant, but the ferries ensure that no cars are in front of you! We arrived at the First Ferry stop in Earls Cove and had time to rest and wait for the next ferry.
I love priority boarding. Then a couple of awesome vintage CB's pulled in.
Then I noticed that my fork had sprung a minor leak. Damn unreliable Ducati's! Honda's never get leaky fork seals!
Finally the Ferry arrived. A smattering of motorcyclists had arrived and a couple of them were eying us pretty hard. I had given gas to the CB riders and asked that we be allowed off the boat first because we just love the next section of road. Of course he was happy to oblige - as were most the other riders, but a dude on a tatty VFR500 with no gloves and a muscle bound dude with a super-hottie on the back seat of his Vulcan 800 Classic.
As soon as the gates dropped we were off and it quickly degraded into a drag race for the first corner. The VFR500 passed me on the right and I was just irritated enough that I decided to play with hero-boy. I let him lead through the first corner to see where his skill-set was, and as expected he had more will than skill slowing to a crawl in the corner but as soon as there was straight road he, of course, whacks the throttle to stops. I let him lead into the next corner, but took the inside line and basically make a pass on his left at the exit. Hero-VFR-boy didn't like this so he once again whacks the throttle, chasing me into the next corner and making me carry more speed than I'd prefer into turn three. But I was also confident that once I got out of sight of him, he'd give up. So I kept my speed up and using track-techniques (something I really do not like to do on the street) trail-braked into the turn, a super tight left hand corner, and rallied out of the corner, then hard again into the next corner. He was gone.
Meanwhile, Kris had the same challenges with Vulcan-boy who tried to pass her on the inside in a corner in the oncoming lane, but Kris was able to overtake him on the next straight and dispatch him with ease. VFR boy was a bit more of a challenge as he drag-raced her to a corner where he did the same thing to her as he did to me, followed her into a corner with virtually no following distance. Fortunately, Kris' riding skill allowed her to carry more speed through the corner and soon she too was free and the over-zealous rider. Within two corners we were away from the idiots and left to slow our paces back down and enjoy the road to ourselves.
From there it was pure glory! A perfect road, awesome light and no traffic! Sorry we didn't take any photos of this section of road, but the riding was so great we simply enjoyed the riding.
The last time we did this, we pushed forth and did the third ferry, arriving in Horseshoe bay in the dark. It was miserable and something we did not want to repeat. So instead we stopped for the evening in Roberts Creek at this fantastic little hotel. The Blue Sky Motel! The proprietor, an English Second Language gentleman from Japan walks up to us as we pull in and sais in broken English "Ducati, Italy, Yes!" I say yes. He sais "Japan?" I walk over to the Z and pull the tankbag off the tank and say "Kawa-SAKI!" His face lights up "KAWASAKI! Japan! Very Good Motorcycle!" I say "yes, Very good motorcycle!" Beaming with pride he led us into the lobby and checked us in, and while the hotel wasn't the fanciest place, it was immaculately clean and tidy.
We went for a short walk, grabbed a light dinner at a nearby cafe and set off to bed with no wine. Tomorrow we planned on tackling Vancouver to find a new rear tire for the Duck.
Day 11 – Sunday, April 25th
Today would be the day we would see foul weather. The Multistrada's rear tire was getting close to being fully worn. Still had some life left in it, but I didn't know how far it would go and when you get into remote places, you never know if you'll be able to find a competent dealer to install a new tire, so the plan was to take the Ferry to Horseshoe bay.
The clouds were heavy and we hoped they would burn off before mid-day, but our perfect record was about to be sullied.
The last time we took this ferry it was dark and I've felt like I'd missed out ever since, so that was why we waited until morning. And we also thought it would make finding our way around Vancouver easier. But the closer we got to Vancouver the worse the weather got...
It was very cool crossing the Lions Gate Bridge. I'd never entered the city limits of Vancouver and had always heard how great the city was, so I was excited to see what all the hub-bub was about.
Once into Vancouver, however, it started pissing rain. A dreary drizzle that continued for hours while I got worthlessly lost in a sea of stoplights, heavy traffic and Asian road signs. I instantly understood why its called Hong-Couver. Droves of Chinese immigrated to Vancouver in anticipation of Hong-Cong returning to Chinese control in 1984.
The map I'd had was worthless and we ended up crossing every bridge in the city before we found our way to John Valk Ducati. I was completely tuckered by the time we found the joint and feared a negative moto-shop experience. However, the guys at John Valk were awesome. They pulled a fresh rear tire and pushed the bike to the front of the service line and right up onto the table for the tire swap.
Also, we suspect they must have read our report, because the website now features some very clear directions on how to find the shop.
The shop recommended "Cameo Cafe" on the corner of W 2nd Ave and Crowe Street, less than a block away, where we could get some hot coffee and a good burger while they took care of the tire. A huge weight off our shoulders we walked to the cafe and, true to the advice, we enjoyed the best hamburger either of us had ever had!
We'd stowed the luggage for the Ducati in the shops showroom and before the water spots on the bags had dried the Ducati was ready and waiting with a fresh new sneaker on the rear wheel.
Because of all the taxes, GST, PST, Environmental Tax, Tire Disposal Tax, Road Tax, Rubber replacement tax and tread wear tax the new rear tire was one of the most expensive I've ever bought, I could have bought a set and half for the same money in America, but the peace of mind that comes with a new tire was worth it. Now I just had to worry about riding in the rain with a brand new tire.
We were back on the road, negotiating the confusing quagmire of Vancouver traffic just in time for the afternoon commute, and once again, just getting to the freeway became a test of my navigational abilities.
I wanted to avoid crossing back into America at one of the larger border crossings, particularly with our recent adventures of border running, so we rode inland for a while to find a smaller crossing point.
The American border guard at Huntingdon, just south of Abbotsford, deserves a huge raise. He was outstanding.
We were both waved up together, something that we've never seen, and he spoke with us both. He saw our license plates and immediately asked if we knew about the coal miners who were trapped near Huntington, Utah. We did and said we'd been past the area many times. After the regular array of questions where we revealed we were not importing bananas or bootlegging whiskey, we were given the warmest "welcome home" we'd ever received. And although we love traveling in Canada, it felt great to return back to America! And almost immediately, the road turned into a glorious, technical gyration of asphalt bliss!
I just love how this photo turned out!!
We turned in early and got a cheap hotel in Sedro Woolley and collapsed into the room, ordered a pizza and decompressed after a cold, wet and stressful day. Tomorrow we would be riding inland, away from the coast. Its always sad to leave the coast behind.
Day 12 – Wednesday, 8 August 2007 | 313 Miles (504km)
Our first morning in America and we were sad to be heading west. It was the final stretch towards home and while the deferred maintenance of the bikes was driving me crazy, I really didn't want to be heading home.
The buildings were looking a bit run down. I would have thought highway 20 towards Rockport would have been the high-rent district.
Not so much really... We stopped for gas and made our push up the mountain and were soon in the trees. The road was alright until we got into North Cascades National Park - then the road turned really good. This is not a photo of the really good road. We'd been so long without excellent roads that I refused to take any photos of them because it would inhibit my riding.
But at 5,000 feet elevation (the same-ish elevation as Salt Lake City) we were freezing our tooshies clean off! It was bitter cold! But we came around a corner and found ourselves at the summit and whoah!
It was very cool and I started grabbing lots of snaps
I really like this shot because the biker-dude is waving! Excellent!
This would be the last of the big mountains we'd see for a while as now we were dropping into the west end of Washington where it is dry, hot and arid.
Down the far side of the mountain it was instantly hot! Green vegetation was replaced by cured grasses and we could see the forest because all the tree's werent in the way.
The world felt a lot less exotic and it was clear that we were back in the good 'ol west again.
We stopped for a very marginal lunch in Winthrop Washington where the highlight was the 'containment' system used to keep this dog from wandering off. We questioned if the dog chose to hang out there of if thats actually where the owner placed him.
We had originally planned on riding back north into Canada and then south back into Idaho, but our fear of border crossings and the significantly cheaper fuel costs in America kept us south of the border. We were later to learn that the Washington roads were better motorcycle roads anyway.
So we basically stuck to Washington Highway 20 crossing the north/eastern side of the state, passing through much more remote and agricultural towns than one imagines when you hear "Washington".
And the dryness of the countryside had a distinct "Montana" feel as well. If we were dropped out of the sky with no knowledge as to our whereabouts I would never have guessed Washington.
The farther east we rode, at some points less than 20 miles from Canada, the more mountainous the terrain, the more mountainous, the more vegetation, and the cooler the temps and the more enjoyable the riding.
I was really enjoying the older bridges we were crossing. These don't seem to have survived where we come from, so we managed to take photos of most every one we crossed.
I really like these next two photos because Kris was taking a photo of me taking a photo of her!
As it grew later, we were getting tired, but were a few miles from the next town. The sun was setting and the deer were starting to come out. After seeing several and couple of hard-braking moves, we decided that it was best to call it a night at the next available place.
In all the years of riding, I've passed dozens of remote gas-station, restaurant, camper-cabin places and always wondered who stayed at these places. Passing one just after another deer encounter, I decided it was time we found out.
It featured an eternal "garage sale" in the front and the items in the shopping mart looked as though some of them were originally purchased while wearing parachute pants and listening to Casey Casum announce the new Flock of Seagulls song on the Top-40 countdown.
The cabins were pretty cute from the outside, but the highlight was the restaurant - located in the owners residence - not in their kitchen or dining room either - but smack dab in the middle of their living room. Nick-knacks and family photos were all on the walls, along with family photo albums, scented candles and what not. I was particularly impressed with the TV room, complete with concrete pig.
When family members came in and started watching Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader the creepy-factor went through the roof. We ate our home-cooked meal and retreated to our palazzo in the woods.
See they look cute! ...until you walk inside. Oh the romance! The only thing missing was the "hang in there" poster featuring a kitten hanging from a tree branch. At least they supplied a coffee pot.
Vowing not to touch flesh to anything in the room we splayed out our sleeping bags. We'd found a vhs copy of "the game" starring Michael Douglass and threw it into the VCR with a repetitious squeak.
Day 13 – Thursday, 9 August 2007 | 333 Miles (535km)
The next morning, we opted not to return to the living room/restaurant for fear of seeing the proprietor in a moo-moo and instead fled towards Newport for breakfast.
The early morning riding was excellent, despite fearing we'd have enough gas to reach town. We reached Newport and found that it must be a rough town because there was not a single restaurant open because they were all Lounge/Bar's still wafting cigarette smoke from the evening before and most certainly not serving breakfast.
Sadly, the only thing open for morning grub was a local McDonalds.
I was never so happy to get McFood before in my life. Unsure of what McTasty delight I wanted to start my day with, Kris and I ordered just about one of everything from the McMenu - total cost: $17.38. McBreakfast is the most important McMeal of the McDay!
We rode south on Highway 41 toward Coeur D'Alene. It had been many, many years since visiting this town and I was rather impressed by how nice it still was!
The freeway was a bit chewed up, however.
We opted to take the serpentine highway 97 around Coeur D'Alene lake and were delighted with copious cornering opportunities!
Once we were past the lake, the road became increasingly more rural, gently winding its way through the countryside with the occasional section of brilliant asphalt. Most of it however, was rather bland.
We really wanted to ride Idaho Highway 12 from end to end. We'd ridden part of it several years ago and our memory of it was that it was an amazing section of the most exciting corners known to man!
When we found our way, we were immediately fighting our way through a sea of logging trucks and surprisingly heavy traffic.
We stopped for lunch and the heat was so intense that we looked for a section of shade to eat an ice-cream before it melted away. The heat must have been going to my head, because I only vaguely remember Kris mentioning something about her bike "handling funny". After another hour or so of riding, it had gotten so bad that she pulled off to check the bike and we discovered that the rear tire had a meager 12 psi of pressure in it - and we'd been traveling along at 60-70mph, faster in the corners.
I pulled out my repair kit, but could not find the hole in the tire. The next town was about 15 miles away, so we sacrificed a handful of air cartridges to get the tire up to about 28psi, then nursed it along.
It sucks having tire problems way out here - because you never know how you'll be treated if you can even find a suitable tire. I had a plug repair kit but, hate riding on plugged tires. We arrived at the gas station and discovered an air pump - coin operated - and we had no American coin or dollar on our persons.
We found the hole in the tire and it was itty-bitty! I could have reamed it out and shoved a tire plug in there, but the small size of the hole prompted the application of Fix-a-flat. I sure hope this works....
With gunk in the tire, it was important that we ride to get things hot so that it seals. So we ran up and down the road with much nervousness then rode over the the campground/hotel across the road. Kris was stressed out about the tire situation so she was very ready to stop for the evening.
We got a room specifically so we could take a nice long shower and clean all the grime off from the road and the skeevy hotel from the night before. But we noticed this awesome sign; "no motor-bike pleasure riding"
We went up to the second floor restaurant and sat out on the porch amongst the bee's to fight for our food - We, of course, got some beverages to take the edge off the evening. Kris was feeling better almost immediately!
We went back to the hotel room only to discover there was no hot water in the room because the hot-water heater was broken. Great!
Day 14 – Friday, 10 August 2007 | 603 Miles (970km)
First thing the next morning we checked the tire and it was down to about 30 psi, so we loaded up the bikes and aired the tire up to 42 and started riding towards Missoula where we planned to get a tire - fearing that we'd be spending "market value" for a 8-year old D207. Not long after we started riding, we found ourselves at "the sign"
After placing a CanyonChasers sticker we were back on the road. We'd remembered Idaho highway 12 as being this amazing road with more corners than I could imagine. The first time we rode it, we'd even stopped because we'd grown tired. You can never go back to the places you love, because this time, while it was a very nice road, it was not all that technical or challenging - and were it not for the great scenery we'd been rather bored.
Despite nervousness about the rear tire (we'd stop and visually inspect it often) our speeds crept up a bit - because it was just so gosh darn more fun to go fast than slow.
Once we reached Lolo, we decided to change the plan. We'd initially planned to return to Salt Lake via Yellowstone National Park and all the twisty roads it allows -but now with a failing tire, a leaking fork seal and two weeks worth of riding already behind us, home started looking better. I also really didn't want to spend $300 for a rear tire that I didn't want, nor did I want to deal with a shop that may not give us any kind of priorty or fair treatment. Almost every time I've needed a tire on the road, the shop charges absolute top dollar for the tire and the service - because they know I need the tire and that I have no other options.
We stopped at a gas station and did some careful cartographic study.
According to my calculations, we were within easy riding distance from home. We'd just have to skip all the twisty roads and opt for the direct ones. My parents live on the northern border of Utah, and Kris could ride there (a couple hundred miles short of salt lake) and I'd ride back home, get the truck then go fetch Kris and the dog (who was staying with my parents). A new plan was born and we set forth!
The worst part was the riding would suck. Pure straight roads.. blech... And the further south we rode, the worse the smoke from wildfires grew....
My dad has always told stories of the nightmares he's had about the Book Cliffs past Highway 6 in central Utah. He hates the road with a level of disdain I've never seen him show for any other thing on this planet, including my Aunt Alice - he hates the road that bad! I never understood this, but my road of dread is the awful, horrible, endless stretch from Salmon to Idaho Falls. Its flat, its straight, the wind blows constantly and it seems to go on for ever and ever! Today was exceptionally windy and we suffered through until we got to Idaho Falls where we treated ourselves to an Arby's dinner (America's Roast Beef - Yes Sir!)
Then we simply rode south on i-15 until it was time for Kris to veer off and head to my parents house. We pulled into a rest stop and finally got to use the four liters of fuel we'd been carrying for almost 5000 miles.
However the pressure difference made it so they'd spit when opened. I guess all that elevation change would do that. We dumped all four liters into the Multistrada so I wouldn't have to stop again until I arrived in Salt Lake - then we were off.
Artsy shadow shot!
Kris took her exit and I was left with myself. She'd enjoy a couple of small canyons, several miles of rural farm land then arrive at my parents house to hang out with the dog - while I would race home on I-15. Her tire had been loosing a bit of air between each stop, but had been mostly predictable, but the fear of a failure was enough that I was glad that she'd be done riding long before I was.
I was a long day in the saddle so I was desperate to entertain myself.
I arrived at our exit in Salt Lake with the sun setting behind me.
I loaded up the ramp, tie-downs, threw on a pair of shorts and flip-flops and jumped into the pickup and started the 150 mile drive back up to my parent’s house. In an attempt to keep with the on-board photography I continued snapping pics of the trip.
I arrived back at my parents at midnight and we loaded up the bike and got ready to head home. We thought about staying the night at my parents house (they weren't home) but figured we'd rather sleep in our own bed tonight.
Awww. all of us back together again - one happy family!
I'd left Jakes (the dog) present on the Multistrada in the garage, so Jake had to wait for hours for his present. Once we got home he was a very well behaved so we'd not hold out on him.
We gave him his bear, that we'd purchased in Jasper, Canada and toted around with us through Alaska and all the way back home - Jake was very pleased with his present!
Looking Back at another CanyonChasers Adventure
We learned that two weeks on the road is a long time - and I would have had a better time if we would have scheduled in some time for some maintenance. The level of grime, and things coming out of adjustment was cause for a great deal of duress on an OCD maintenance freak like myself. Two weeks of solid riding was also a bit much. It stopped being as fun by the end of the trip. It would have been more enjoyable if we'd have had more town time to just kick back - fortunately the 14-hour ferry ride did provide some break.
Alaska (at least Hyder) was one of the most stunning places either of us had ever visited and we were both astonished by how easy it was to get there. Granted we'd had perfect weather, but the roads were so good the entire way that any motorcycle could make it there without any problems. Overall, it was probably the most memorable road-trip we've ever taken! We would strongly encourage anybody whose thought about making this trip to take the plunge and make it happen. Part of the reason why I took so many "hazzard-cam" photo's along the way was to show just how good the roads are up there.
Dave, CanyonChaser since 1994
I have often had the question of whether my butt got tired on this long of a journey. The answer is sadly YES, a typical 10 day trip is tiring but very doable but this trip with really took its toll on the hiney details of which will be left unsaid.
Dave only stopped once to clean the bikes which was amazing for this long of a duration in all kinds of weather conditions.
Kris, CanyonChaser since 1996