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Thread: Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

  1. #1

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

    Or how I rode 14.5 K miles in 5-6 weeks.

    The trip I took this summer brought me from Key Largo, Fl to Prudhoe Bay, AK via Paonia Colorado to Sipapu, NM (for West Fest) and back to Ft. Lauderdale where my folks live.
    It all started on June 25th when I took off from Ft. Lauderdale after spending the night with my folks. It is always nice to have a small jumpstart specially when the weather is hot and humid. The first travel day, for me at least, is always one in which to find my way around the ride. That is, getting into the comfort zone. The destination for me this trip, was Prudhoe Bay as it seems to be one of those 'must' do things when riding a bike. However I was determined to get there only if the conditions warranted a safe trip as I leave the gung-ho stuff for others.

    I slabbed the Turnpike after leaving home at 8:30 AM as to avoid the 'great' cagers S.FL is so famous for. After all Miami has the dubious honor of being voted the worst city in the USA 2 years in a row......
    A pic of my steed and me prior to riding of into adventure.

    Before the questions about the knobbies tied on the back begin, I have not regretted bringing them with me as an unexpected tire failure in AK or Yukon will wreck your trip. More on that two other riders found out the costly way...

    What can be said about slabbing some of the most boring road in Fl other than getting rest here and there and to let your personal Final Drive cool off as well as your bike's??

    Well so much for cooling off as you get north, as in Tifton, GA the mercury rose to 102F before welcome rain cooled off the air to a more bearable 80 F.
    Camping was going to be out untill the temps got better and so in Opelika, AL I sought a motel room with AC. The owner was nice enough that I was allowed to park on the grass in front of my room.

    I don't know why, but it seems my gear finds it's way all over my motel room as I offload my bike.

    After checking in day one was done after 600 miles in the saddle...

    More to come.......maybe..

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by riderR1150GSAdv View Post
    More to come.......maybe..
    Don't quit before you get to the Prudhoe Bay part!!!

  3. #3
    can't wait for the rest of the tale. interesting how it's been hotter this summer in the surrounding states than down here. somewhat less humidity tho.

    let 'er rip...looking forward to a happy ending.

  4. #4

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

    All Right than, if I must.....

    Day two and three of this saga were both ridden on more rural roads than just interstate alone. Opelika to West Plains MO on US 63 bring more curves and kept me from dozing off completely. The second day was also about 600 miles and the only pic I have here is of US 280. I am slabbing so I didn't take many photo's.

    The bike at this point was running great although I heard the fuelpump more than normal. It was remedied by keeping the fueltank topped up more as, IMHO, it all had to do with the over the 100 F temps I was riding in.
    Luckely I decided to ride with a little cooling necktie to keep my brain from frying. Day 3 brought me from West Plains MO to Grand Island NE or about 610 miles further north.

    I decided to play around on some rural roads and the GPS got me lost
    Unfortunately there was no place to stop on these small roads as there was no shoulder to pull over on but these roads were worth the experience. US 63to US60 to US14 to route Z in Dogwood were really cool.
    In Dogwood a big dog eyed me and wanted to give chase. I saw the mutt laying in wait and decided to get ready for him. The Stebel Airhorn ( it failed later in AK with all the dust) blew the dog off track as well as a quick flick of the throttle screwed his timing all up too.
    I had a buddy who dumped his bike because of a dog and since I just started my trip I didn't want some mutt to possibly end it there in the middle of (nowhere) MO.
    This pic is from Grand Island NE as seen from my room

    The goal for day four was Cody WY......

  5. #5

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

    Day four of the trip started in Grand Island NE and I froze my a$$ off. It was 54 F and after the previous heatwave days it was a shock to the system. Living in a warm climate (20 years in the FL Keys) makes a person less tolerant to lower temps. It turned out that later I would be riding in 34F weather..... Anyway,
    not only was it 'freezing', but the one hour time change threw me off too.
    I ended up Leaving at 4:30 AM local time as my own clock said 5:30..
    This was going to be a 'theme' for most of the trip, often bewildering bystanders as I asked for the local time.
    Some must have thought that I came from a different planet, this might as well be so, since I am Dutch .
    Going on a long trip like this also made me forget what day it was, if it hadn't been for my daily log that I am now using to write this report with.

    Anyway, I did ride I-80 untill I hit US 26 in NE into WY than till I-25 N till Casper WY from there to Shoshone, Thermopolis and finally Cody. It was hot in Thermopolis at 104 F but it was 'dry' heat and was therefore much better than the Tifton GA experience with the humidity there. A GPS shot of the road.

    Getting closer to WY.....

    Towards Thermopolis and Cody

    I arrived at 4:30 PM at the Ponderosa Campground in Cody, WY after a 718 mile day riding to what was, for me, familiar ground as I had been there in 04 for the 'Unrally' from the guys on my way to the MOA rally in Spokane WA.

    To be continued......

  6. #6

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

    Day 5.
    All right, I made it to Cody! A few days of R&R as the Buffalo Bill Museum is a MUST see. You miss out on some real history and artifacts if you don't go there. As there are 5 parts to this museum it would take 2 full days to take it all in. This first day however I slept in late had BBQ lunch and bought a book, looked after the bike and met a gentleman from Alaska who was bicycling to Florida from Anchorage. We had to laugh as most people just don't understand the drive we had to undertake trips like ours.

    Later that day I met Jerry and Jonathan from Colorado Springs, who were father and son riding their motorcycles around too.
    They decided to pitch their tent in what we all thought was a great spot.
    I moved my tent as well into that area on the second day in Cody. You know that spot that seems soooo cool that you have to be there??? Shade, calm little creek behind the tent etc,??? Well stay tuned....
    At first this deer came around as I pitched my tent at 4:30 PM the previous day....

    And after a little doing I was up and running with the gourmet meal for the evening

    Than the move to the "idyllic" spot....

    Well after a fitfull ichty night by both Jonathan, Jerry and myself, we found out our tents were invaded by tree-mites and we had to move away from what could have been a 'kewl' spot. Oh well, there is something about a fence and green grass......
    The sun took care of the unwanted invaders btw.
    Back with the regular crowd..
    The Rider with the Honda trike had an issue with his fueltank and after describing the symptoms I asked if he still had the charcoal cannister. He did and decided to have it removed asap at the nearest Honda dealer/mechanic.
    See guys, BMW's aren't the only bikes with canister issues...

    And a overview of the tent area at the Ponderosa campground

    I really like this set up as the steep road keeps traffic to a minimum and it makes for a real quiet area. The deer running around there are kinda tame too and show up from time to time. Better at the campground than on the road...

  7. #7
    This is a great trip report so far. . . . Keep it comin'!

  8. #8

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

    So after the previous day's tent 'dance' I did go to the museum and will have lots of pics. The tent saga however wasn't quite over yet though

    The entrance to the Museum

    Annie Oakley's dress.

    Buffalo Bills rifle on the bottom as it was found after his passing. The stock was missing before his passing and he had no idea where it was.

    Bill Cody's coat

    This Gatling gun was used by GE to prototype the Phalanx guns on among other the Black-hawk chopper a variety of naval vessels etc. The gun stands at over 6 feet tall on its mount

    Gary Coopers Gun in "High Noon"

    A pair of dueling pistols

    A display of the Native American Plains Indians

    A stagecoach.

    A chuck wagon used until 1910!

    There is so much to see there that it is almost overwhelming but totally worth the time. I have many more photos but this would take up too much bandwidth...

    As promised the tent issue had not quite gone away yet, for when I returned
    from my museum trip the whole tent had fallen apart at most of the seams.
    This was obviously a problem as my trip had just started. Prior to my trip I had sent the tent in to get repaired, but Mountain Hardwear decided to not check out the tent.
    Well long story short I bought a new tent at Sierra Trading Post in town and used the NEMO with inflatable poles for the rest of my trip.
    A pic of the old and new tent. The new one is light green.

    The old tent ended up where it belongs and I used it's floor and ground cloth for the new one. Now I had a tent that packed smaller and was lighter too.
    All in all, quite a day.

    To be continued......

  9. #9

    Talking Key Largo ,Prudhoe and Westfest

    July 1st took me out of Cody to Missoula MT, for a 491 mile ride, where the bike was going to get new oil prior to crossing into BC Canada. But before getting there I had to ride a 'little' bit. It was one of those crystal clear, blue sky heavenly days you can only dream about and the road to Missoula led over the Chief Joseph Hwy and Beartooth Pass.
    I did not fancy riding through Yellowstone and get stuck behind bluehairs and their breadboxes (RV's) to save a few miles. Besides I had not seen Beartooth after the repairs made necessary by the massive rockslides a few years back.

    The KOA campground in Missoula. I adjusted the valves here and the oil changed at the BMW dealer. This was pricey but now I had a bill for maintenance as the bike was still under BMW warranty.

    A Brit living in Vancouver riding his bike through the US

    This day brought me one of those 'Zen' moments for which I counted my lucky stars. I stopped often to just take in the scenery and reflect on how lucky I was just being there. Carpe Diem rings very true.

    There may be more coming........

  10. #10
    most excellent!

  11. #11

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

    July 2nd

    Awoke at 5:45 AM and adjusted the valves on my bike before my trip to the dealer. After breakfast I rode to BMW in Missoula only 3 miles from the KOA and while the oil was changed I roamed around the showroom for some bike porn Saw the new Kawasaki Concour14 there.
    Fortunately I didn't need anything at that time.

    Todays ride took me past the Grand Coulee Dam. Quite an impressive Dam.

    The bordercrossing into Canada was easy as pie, as the Canadian customs officer only once asked if I had any weapons on me. I replied with a "no" , as I didn't have anything anyway. Then he asked why not, and my reply was that I don't need any weapons.
    We chatted for a bit and I ended up giving him a business card. Who knows, he may come down to fish with me.
    The trip ended that day with 467 miles on the odo, at small motel in Princeton BC. There I found a decent Greek meal and turned in for the night.

    Final photo for the day.

    To be continued.....

  12. #12

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

    July 3rd
    489 miles for the day. I left Princeton BC at 7 AM riding through beautifull vineyard country which was a complete surprise to me as one generally doesn't equate Canada with wine.
    It did rain a lot ,so the pics on the vineyards had to take a backseat.
    A few rest stops yielded these piccies though. Not a lot to report as I was trying to get to Hyder AK.

    The last rest place for the day was the Provincial campgroud in Fort Fraser BC.

    These Provincial campgrounds are quite nice but have no showers, same as it the US with the National Parks. Therefore I usually take a pack of babywipes with me and they work quite well.

    To be continued....

  13. #13

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe and Westfest

    July 4th! Happy B'day USA!

    This day was short on miles, but long on massive rain. One moment I stopped as the visibilty was down to zero. Tropical rain in BC?
    Anyway the the sceney was still nice when the rain quit as blue skies were trying to peak out.
    Another Hotel room was waiting for me as tent camping in Stewart BC/ Hyder AK is not allowed by the campground owners due to bear activity.
    Seeing a black bear crossing the road in front of me made me think that this would be better for my health.

    A fellow traveller I met on the viewpoint of Bear Glacier was not going to hotel it here, but ride on. We later met up again in the Yukon and he told me that it had been a bad decision and had the worst ride of his life, as the weather turned worse.... Past Hyder there isn't a whole lot of shelter to be had, and riding in the semi-dark with Bears and Moose (is plural Meese??) running around isnt my cup of tea. It was IMHO time to just get of the road and have more daylight in the AM and hope for better weather. One 'little' issue I noticed were the mosquitos. They are big and got more plentyfull further north.... Three of them can make a bug burger...

    I had to pack the tent wet and I was drying it out in my room. The following outdoor photos are from the way out actually, except this first one on the crossroads.

    The view from my room towards Hyder after checking in...

    Hyder in better weather.

    Another 'exploded' room . I improvised drying stations as there wasn't a hook to hang a coat on anywhere in the room!!

    Drying station 1

    Drying station 2

    Bear Glacier

    Bear Glacier two years ago. Notice the lack of exposed rock in the middle...

    The road in/out of Stewart, BC/ Hyder, AK

    Next stop; Yukon

    To be cont'd
    Last edited by riderR1150GSAdv; 09-08-2007 at 08:45 PM.

  14. #14

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest

    July 5th turned out to be the most interesting ride of the whole trip thus far.
    From Stewart BC to Faro Yukon was 691 miles out of which 320 were off-pavement. This day was also the longest in the saddle with 18 hrs of travel time but included some nice breaks and good food.

    I left Stewart at about 7 AM after trotting up and down a flight of stairs about 8 times.... Those GS 2 boots don't make for quiet house slippers..
    Add the squeaky stairs, and I'm sure the whole place heard me leave.
    The previous night some other guests decided to keep noise going to 11 PM so payback can be tough...

    The rain had subsided and that was a relief. The BC 37 was under construction at places and the interesting thing is that the workers make the bikes pull forward so we riders don't eat as much dust. The Pilot cars are a riot as some drivers go too slow. I once passed one as it was going way too slow. The driver got pissed but after explaining the finer points of off road bike riding he sped up enough to make it much better.
    Too slow and down goes the bike.....Not an option with a loaded GS. I never dropped the bike this whole trip btw.
    Photo break...

    Till I hit Watson Lake I had no idea where I was going to stop for the night.
    Funny that perpetual daylight messes with the internal bioclock and I wasn't tired at all. I had to stop at a familiar food stop in Watson Lake....Sally's Cafe

    After a good homecooked meal and signing the ADV logbook I took off on the Campbell "highway" or BC 4.
    Notice the quotation marks. Goatpath is more accurate but WOW what a scenery!!! Road photo first

    Frances River

    Frances River Bridge.

    Another scene photo. The reason for the distortion is that the bugs really got bad. I was kinda on the run.....

    What a stunning place to see. If the skeeters had not been bad I could have pitched my tent here.

    After all this, it was inevitable that something had to go 'wrong'. As it was quite late when I pulled into Ross River, I found out that the gas stations had NO gas.... There are only two stations there and BOTH were out. This was interesting, not just for me but the locals as well.
    Ok, so I have MSR fuel bottles good for another 40 miles right?? Yup, pulled the bottles out, filled the bike a bit and took off for Faro, the next town over.
    This town has only ONE station and it doesn't have pumps with creditcard capability... Now it was 11:30 PM, and it would open at 9 AM! Bankers hours as they closed at 5 PM! It was time for me to catch some Zzz's anyway so it wasn't bad to get stopped in my tracks at this point.
    I pitched the tent in a nearby provincial campground and fell unconcious..
    I think I had a big grin in my face when I crawled in my sleeping bag as this day was the exact thing I wanted to experience on this trip.
    It paid off to be prepared with food, gas and water for those kinds of 'adventures'.

    To be continued........maybe

  15. #15

    Talking Key Largo, Prudhoe Bay and Westfest

    On the morning of July 6th I came out of a deep coma, or was it sleep???
    It was a chilly start of the day as I broke camp which took very little time as I only had a tent, sleep pad and bag to deal with. My German neighbor had made coffee and we shared that and a few power-bars. We were also swatting at the ever present mosquito's so I have no pics of this event.
    After an aufwiedersehen (goodbye), I took of for Faro, where I had an appointment with a gas station. I was there before opening time but a local resident who was putting air in his van-tires, called the owner who opened early for us. He didn't want to be in a photo so I have the important part of his gas station instead.

    After gassing up and riding to Carmacks, I realized that the 120 miles from Faro would not have been done on the gas I had left from the previous day.
    The bike was running fine and sipped fuel, but riding 40 MPH on gravel and stopping for pics uses more gas than continuous highway riding.
    On my way to Carmacks the overdue fuel truck for Ross River headed my way too.
    The ride was beautiful. The scenery was interspersed with lakes like 'Little Salmon' and eventually the Yukon river, cutting through the landscape like a silver ribbon. Pictures don't do the scenery any justice and will never relay the emotions you feel riding around here or anywhere it is so beautiful.

    Little Salmon Lake. Funny name as it is 20 miles long....

    Little Salmon Lake.

    Yukon River.

    Yukon River.

    A sign describing a boating disaster on the Yukon River.

    I stopped in Dawson for a butt break and food. My original plan was to ride to the border to Chicken, AK. The weather changed that plan, as a ferocious thunderstorm made me pitch the tent in the provincial campground across the river. I had just set up the tent as heavy rain set in. The 'Top of the World' Hwy had to wait till tomorrow. Which turned out to be a blessing......

    Dawson City and the Ferry.

    Camp at Dawson.

    Drying out firewood at the provincial campground at Dawson. This was funny as I brought an ax rather than a tent hammer and I split the, free but wet, firewood in small pieces and had a good fire going in no time. Most folks around me had smokey fires and were looking at my fire, and when they realized what I was doing they did the same.

    To be continued...

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