Wednesday, June 25, 2014

And we're off...Destination: Arctic Circle and Beyond.

Oooooh, eeeeee! What a ride. I've returned from 24 days in Canada and Alaska. Here is the ADV RR link:

You've been warned.

Inuvik. It's pronounced I-New-Vick. I think...

As mentioned over the past few years and in at least three previous posts, I am heading into the Great White North this weekend. That part of the world continues to call to me like a mentally unstable lover...

My friend Dan and I will be departing Sunday, June 29, for the town of Inuvik, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. I’ll also try to squeeze in a visit to Alaska’s Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay (just an extra 2,500 miles). We aren’t retired, we aren’t riding for a cause, we aren’t attempting to commit any acts of badassery...we just want to ride to the northernmost possible point, meet some nice people, drink some interesting beverages and return with some cool stories -- virtually unscarred .

We have every intention of riding our big motorbikes from San Diego all the way north and crossing back into the US near Blaine, WA, in late July. I will be riding a KTM 990 Adventure; Dan will be on his BMW R1200GS. We plan to camp most of the time and stay in hotels when we can’t stand our own musk. We’ve mutually agreed not to be eaten by Grizzlies if at all possible. The bear spray we bought at REI has a “no maul” money-back guarantee, so that’s good.

We have a very flexible agenda. There are many things we’d like to see in 30+ days, but we’re playing it by ear. It’s 3,800 miles each way, with lots of side roads in between, and we expect to ride over 10K miles. Neither of us has a particularly remarkable attention span so the possibilities are endless. Dan’s bringing along a fairly nice SLR camera, and we both have small video cameras, so we'll do our best to document the experience.

Here are two GPS map trackers so friends and family can follow our progress:

Where Am I Riding Map (Works in Chrome, Safari, FireFox, and IE9):

SPOT Adventures Map:

I will try to provide updates on this blogsite as I travel along, but I'm unsure how that'll go...

Share in the adventure as we go a couple of degrees north of the Arctic Circle in search of...well, we haven't really identified a purpose yet. It's likely just a midlife crisis. But come along, anyhow!

Your humble sojourner.


Notes about the people we met and interacted with in Canada and Alaska: Inuit Or Eskimo?

Many believe the word “Eskimo” is an unacceptable word to describe Inuit people, and in Canada and Greenland that is broadly correct. In Alaska, “Eskimo” is preferred, because it is inclusive of both the Inuit and Yupik peoples.


  1. Bring me back some muktuk. Otherwise, save travels, and don't take any wooden nickels.

    1. I'll mail you back some muktuk, Steve. Also, I plan to carry a pocketfull of wooden nickels. I re-read your Alaska ride report so I have some ideas on what to do/not to do. Will prolly still do the things I shouldn't do. Let's grab a beer when I get back and swap AK stories. Kiss Annie for me...

  2. Awesome. You two will have so much fun.

    Check out Richard's blog - he lives in Fairbanks and works in Barrow quite a bit. He has the inside scoop on the best roads and is s upper nice person too.

    1. Cool blog--checking it out now. As you can imagine, we've received all sorts of support from Alaskans and those who've traveled there before us. We have a rough idea of what we'll see, how we'll get there and what we'll do, but it's pretty much all up in the air. More to follow...


  3. Updates:

    29 Jun 2014
    We made it to Maple Hollow Campground. Lets crash them !

    Cool little spot in the Fish Creek Nat'l Park.

    30 Jun 2014
    Camped outside of Fillmore-Beaver (no kidding) in the Fish Creek Nat'l Park. A sweet little campground called Maple Hollow.

    Hot day of riding. High of 110, ride for 1.5 hours in 105+ heat.

    Bikes and riders doing fine. Did 600+ yesterday and should be in Montana tonight after Utah and Idaho are done.

    30 Jun 2014
    We did 550 miles today, ending at a nice campsite in Butte, Montana.

    Good news is I'm traveling lighter; bad news is I left my Contour helmet camera and one deer whistle somewhere along I-15. Dan promptly put me in charge of his GoPro. Dude, I said, did you not just hear that I left a $200 camera on the roadside?!?

    Met some fine folks along the way.

    Made quick work of Utah and Idaho. Our last push was a 200-miler. He would've kept going if I hasn't have stopped for gas. DanRider, you're a madman!

    All good. We should cross into Canada

    I told Dan to just answer the immigration officer's questions -- no jokes about guns/drugs. When Dan was asked if he had anything to declare, he stated, and I quote: "Ever try eating corn on the cob without your front teeth?"

    How we were allowed in amazes me....

    Camped outside of Nanton, Alberta last night. Heading to Jasper via Calgary now. Found an alternate route through the mountains that looks cool.

    All good so far. Can't believe how low Canadian prices are! Gas is only $1.27 loonies a gallon (or however that metric stuff works out). And the speed limit is 110 MPH everywhere! Really enjoying it.

    O, Canada, you're just too beautiful. I am figuratively puking your beauty all over my bug-spattered boots. You make me want to relinquish my citizenship and adopt the metric system. And that's not just the Creemore Springs I had for breakfast talking. If you've ridden from Calgary to Banff you'll know what I'm talking aboot.

    Taking all sorts of photos now so I will upload some soon.

    DanRider, stop if you want to --every 200 yards if you must--but use your signal, brother! I almost put my Heidenau up your

  4. We've been sampling local brews at every stop. Every good-sized town has a couple offerings and we definitely try them. Trying to keep up with Dan, but his liver is older and wiser.

    So I wanted to note that the water that runs off a glacier is milk white. Really something to see when it blends in with another river; the confluence of blue and white is something to see.

    Again, no photos yet. Soon, soon.


  5. We did about a 300-mile ride today. Met some fine folks along the way--several of them motorcyclists--and saw a black bear up close.

    We ended up stopping at a campground in Fort Nelson. Just so-so. The tent camping sites have been hit or miss.

    The ride this far has been a teaching experience: a little cool weather, a little traffic, a little rain, a few mosquitoes and lots of interaction with locals and fellow travelers; perfect practice for farther north.

    Gas is reaching the $6+ range. Aboot what we expected.

    We were shooting for Watson Lake tomorrow (400 miles) but now think Liard Hot Springs (300 miles) is a better choice.

    Was worried about losing one of my two deer whistles but a local guy said not to worry aboot it. Seems deer talk to one another and it only takes one whistle and the words spreads quickly. Who knew.

    It's getting cooler now that we're traveling through the Northern Rocky Mountains.

    Bikes and riders are doing just peachy.

  6. Enjoying interacting with locals and fellow riders/travelers. Had a fascinating conversation with a Tlingit gal.

    We're all going to the same places. Liard Hot Springs today. 300-mile rides. Just perfect.

    Drizzling a bit today but it keeps the temperatures down.

  7. Short ride today through some stunning scenery.

    Only made it to Liard River Provincial Park, where we will camp net the hot springs. Only $24 for the both of us and that includes the campsite, hot springs and showers.

    There are several other motorcyclists who have been traveling along the same route. Looks like we're thinking the same.

    Temps were between 54 and 62 degrees. Felt chilly but nice.

  8. Left Liard River and made Watson Lake in 2 hours. All sorts of bears -- mostly black -- and bison along the way. The other riders rolled in as we were fueling up.

    Going to take a look at the famous sign forest then head up the Campbell Highway--255 miles of unpacked heaven--on our way to Carmacks.

  9. There are 2 kinds of adventure, Danny boy; maybe 3. There's the routine, overused, "I got lost on the way to the supermarket" variety. Then there's high adventure, where you find yourself in unexpected circumstances and get out with some scars and unbelievable stories. 

    So, what's the 3rd kind?

    Ah, that is what I'm gonna show you. (Misadventure, unfortunately...)

    Anyhow, we left Liard Hot Springs and made Watson Lake quickly. We ate some Chinese food and skipped the sign forest to get on the Campbell Highway. 

    We were promised 355 miles of unimproved road, and that's what we got. We saw 7 bears in the first 40 miles then no other wildlife until we reached Carmacks. It was quite a ride, I'll tell you. We went into Ross River for gas--an 18-mile detour off the main road. Self-serve regular unleaded available 24/7 for only $7 a gallon.

    There was some construction about 60 miles in and it was some fun stuff. The flagger--a cute native gal--told me that bikes had been dropping in the mud all day and that momentum was my friend. I said, "I thought safety was my friend." She said, "Not today. You leave safety right here. It's mud city from here on out. You'll need momentum and huevos. Can you handle that?" Dammit! I kinda liked that...

    NOTE: They oughta have "Flag girls of Canadian Highways" calendar. I'd buy one.

    We made Carmacks by 9pm and immediately pounded some Yukon gold brew. There are some characters there about. It's mushroom gathering season and "they" are out. We spoke to a fellow inmate, Erik, who had just returned from the Dempster and Inuvik on his Gen 1 KLR. He provided lots of info and colorful stories. I wish you well, my friend.

    We went down the road and set up camp at about midnight on the Yukon River. OK little campground full of seasonal construction workers in 5th wheels and European canoers. All good folks.

    We play drinking games with our fellow travelers: Use a cliche to describe Canada, take a drink.

    Did you see the mountain ovet yhat lake? Spectacular. 


    The wildlife alongside the road is just amazing.


    I could play this game all day as the scenery is so amazingly beautiful. 

    I KNOW, I KNOW...

    We left for Dawson City kind of late and arrived by 4pm.

    We looked around town, crossed the river via the George Black ferry, crossed back and settled on the Goldrush Campbround due to the Wifi, laundry and showers. We'll head into town for chow...and Dan wants to try the Sour Toe. So nasty...

    Tomorrow is a down day to prep and go over the bikes. I sure hope the good weather stays around. 

    More later, peeps.

  10. Holy cow, what a ride! We made Eagle Plains, midway between Dawson City and Inuvik after some hard traveling.

    We departed at 10am under drizzly skies. The Dempster Highway was fine for the first 100 km or so and I thought the entire ride would be a cakewalk. That changed as the wet road turned slick then muddy. We had 12 miles of 2nd and 3rd gear fun through some soupy then thick mud. It never let up until we reached Eagle Plains.

    We had considered just riding all the way up today--arriving by 9pm or so--but that plan went out the window.

    Spoke with some riders who have been here since yesterday waiting out the weather. Their bikes are nice and shiny; ours are mud-caked and filthy (like our riding attire). We'll just see how it goes.

    Not a lot of traffic on the road thus far (230+ km) and only one bike passed us heading south. Word is that they air-vac'd a GS rider ahead of us. She had a tough time with the terrain and hit the ground hard. She was with two others. No other word.

    All is good. Riders in good spirits, bikes purring along. Dan is doing a bang up job leading the pace. We averaged 50+ MPH until we hit the mud.

  11. We've put over 4,600 miles behind us. Just about halfway now.

    Looks like another "down day" in Dawson City. We can't seem to escape this place, for one reason or another. Worse places to be, I suppose.

    We washed our bikes, laundry and ourselves. In that order. So we are now grabbing chow, sampling brews and planning on hitting Tok and as much of Alaska as we can take tomorrow.

    I want to add a shout out to Dan. The guy handled the Dempster--and any other route we've taken--with ease. The guy is the very best traveling partner a rider could hope for. Good dude, to be sure.

    That's it for now. Your humble and somewhat inebriated sojourners.