Traveling the Alcan Highway Part 1

Schoo seemed a little fuzzy on the details (after all, the trip was in July!) so I had the group from the Alaska trip over for dinner last Sunday.  Here’s how that went:

Jo:  Okay, I’ve called this meeting because I’m writing this up for the blog so anyone wanting to make this trip will have the information.  So, you crossed into Canada at…

John (consults his journal):  at Saskatchewan, just out of North Dakota.

Schoo:  Yeah, just out of Linton, North Dakota.

Dave:  Was it Linton?

John:  I don’t know the name of that little town.

Schoo:  I do, because we had to take me to the emergency room to get the ear bud out of my ear.  I just paid off the hospital bill–Linton Hospital, Linton, North Dakota.

Dave and John:  Ooooh.  yeah.

John:  Ok, the first night we stayed in Estevan, Sk.  That was July 11th  at the Holiday Inn Express.

Dave:  Yeah, remember they had massive rains, the ceilings in Wal Mart had collapsed because of the rain and it was a disgusting mess with sawhorses everywhere… and the whole town was in an uproar.  There was a state of emergency declared.

John:  Remember, the rain caused flash flooding everywhere.

Bill:  I remember being sick as hell and the next day we had to ride 9 1/2 hours to Edmonton in all that rain.

John:  Yeah, that was a big day.  I think 696 miles (consults journal) and 350 of that was in the driving rain.

After Edmonton, we went to Dawson Creek, BC. Only 389 miles that day.  There was some stuff we wanted to see there.

Wives:  Like what?

Bill:  the beginning of the  Alaskan Highway–remember, Mile Zero?

Dave:  Yeah, and John’s chain was loose so we had to borrow a wrench from the drunk guy.

Bill (Laughing.) Oh yeah, that’s right!  I forgot about him.  We were at the Super-8 trying to find someone to borrow tools from.  We already had a wrench.   Then this drunk guy insisted on giving us a wrench to adjust John’s chain–drunk, greasy, dirty.  We ate at the restaurant next door, the Calgary Stampede—they were racing wagons in the mud.

John:  So the next day we got back on the motorcycles and headed to Dawson Creek.  That was probably the most interesting day we had, remember we went to Watson Lake? About 622 miles… through a lot of wild fire area.

Bill:  Is that where we saw all those airplanes on the side of the road?

Dave: That was also the day we say the Unimog.  (to the wives–that’s a really expensive off road vehicle–Arnold Schwarzenegger has one.  Usually a whole community buys one, but this guy had one!  Crazy!)

John:  We rode through the bison 10-15 miles before Watson Lake.

Bill:  Oh yeah!  Was that when we rode through the bison?  That herd went from  treeline to treeline.  At first we were just stuck.  But I started to move through them real slow and they were cool with it.  At first I was a little scared, but then it was okay.

Dave:  That’s when we saw early in the day… what? 5 total? the same day; black bears.  Yeah, not one big animal the whole way and then in the same day we get five bears and a heard of bison.

(Laughing.)

 

Riding a Motorcycle in Alaska

Hey Fans!  Sorry it took me so long to write about this trip.  There is so much to say!  First, let me tell you that Schoo and his friends traveled for two weeks without us wives.  Here is their route:

They started in West Virginia and rode for two days to Pierre, South Dakota, where they stayed overnight with family.  Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 11.14.04 AM.png

Actually, they didn’t “ride,” but pushed through.  Twenty hours of riding in two days makes around ten hours a day, and that’s tough!  But it was the start of the trip and they were fresh.  After a day and a half being pampered by Mama Glo’s home cooking, they headed due north for the Canadian border.

Following them was pretty easy, because they had a tracking device, called a SPOT.  They could easily send a link to anyone.  Schoo sent one to his mom and she and I held our breath as they crossed the border.  They had already done their homework to see if they were allowed to take a bear gun across, but–you never know.   Crisis averted; bear gun legal.  They had to have the gun apart and ammo stored separately, but they made it.

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I may have stopped right there, but these men were on a mission and pressed on to overnight in Estevan, SK.

 

 

About the Flooding in WV

(Note:  I avoided writing this post until it seems I can’t avoid the fact that the area which has flooded is the area I wrote about in my last post.)

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It seems so strange that the area we traveled a couple of weeks ago are in the news now for massive flooding.  White Sulphur Springs (the red marker on this map) is one of the places that is hardest hit.  When you compare this map to the ones I posted with our ride June 9-11, you can see that we rode right along this area.  On this map, note Snowshoe, Greenbank, Princeton, and Ripley as points in our journey.

The terrain that makes West Virginia so beautiful and such a great place to ride motorcycles–steep mountains and narrow valleys–is also prone to flooding.  I remember an old joke about why anyone would live in places like this, but truly–disasters happen in any geography, just different kinds.  There have been many people stepping up to provide relief to the families affected, and I’m sure there will be more help needed.  If you are inclined to help, please read this article first.  And thank you.

West Virginia by Motorcycle

Day 1– Rode 50 out of Rowlesburg, WV toward Winchester and 250 to Staunton, VA.

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I was not the navigator, nor the driver–I was a rider.  So, I am not certain this is our exact route, but I think it’s really close.  We met with two other couples at a rendezvous point in West Virginia and parted ways three days later.  What a great time.  I have many things to say about this trip, but first of all, the roads were amazing–with nice sweeping curves.

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We were on our way to Buena Vista, VA, but ended up in Staunton after fighting traffic in the Richmond area for almost an hour.  It was a long day–beginning around 10 and ending around 7.  We stayed at the Sleep Inn in Staunton and it was a nice, dog-friendly hotel (and full of smallish dogs due to a dog show this weekend!)

Day 2– We planned to be “in the saddle” by nine, but all of us were ready long before then. We ate breakfast at the hotel and headed north.  One of the party asked if we’d ever been to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank, WV, and we had not!  We spent an hour taking the tour, which I considered interesting, fast-paced, and worth six dollars.  I have some of my own pictures I’ll add in a day or so.

Afterward, another treat–we went to the Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia for lunch.  Beautiful sweeping curves again.  Even a sixteen mile stretch of road called “the back of the dragon.”  Schoo and I have run Deal’s Gap (a curvy road in North Carolina) and my opinion is that the roads we did this weekend have a lot of the same fun as the “Tail of the Dragon” (as Deal’s Gap is called) without the crowds.  You should definitely have both of them on your motorcycle riding bucket list.   We stopped in Princeton, WV for the night around 7 p.m. again, this time at the Hampton Inn.  It was $30 less than the night before and maybe a little nicer.  The Texas Steakhouse is in the same parking lot, which made going to dinner really convenient.

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Day 3– On the bike at 8 a.m. this morning!  We took a long tour of southern West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio–also beautiful, nearly empty roads with wide sweeping curves.  We went past an access site for the Appalachian Trail in Fort Royal, WV, and through a lot of Hatfield and McCoys terrain.  Some of the roads that were critical to enjoying this ride are US 52 from Bluefield to Fort Gay, WV; KY 32 to Louisa, KY; KY-7; US 60 into Ashland; OH 14 to Gallipolis; WV-2 into Ripley, WV; and then US-33 to Weston.

Today wasn’t quite as leisurely because we knew we could make it home.  So we grabbed a bite at Burger King and headed north.  Schoo and I were in our house by 9 p.m. eating leftovers.  🙂

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Route 50 in West Virginia is a classic motorcycle road in this region, but we’d never imagined how nice the other two days could be.  Some places were so beautiful, I knew I should get out my phone and take pictures, but I need some kind of strap for that, I think. Enjoy your ride, and let me know if I need to add any good roads to this post!  🙂

Preparation Underway for Alaska

Here are the preparations my husband and his buds have been making to travel 14,000 miles by adventure bike 3 months from now:

  • bought two pairs of new tires–one is being shipped to a distant cousin in Alaska to be changed into once they reach Fairbanks and before they reach Milepost 1520
  • researched Canadian regulations and bought a bear gun
  • bought a tent, Kermit chairs,  a Whisperlite stove, and a French press.
  • bought a Thermorest cot
  • dug out the old sleeping bag
  • upgraded the GPS
  • bought a SPOT tracking device
  • discussed which of them would bring which tools–including a battery charger
  • John bought new Touratech panniers; Dave is looking at the Daylong motorcycle seat

They’ve also gone over the bikes to make sure they are fit mechanically–fixed lights that didn’t work, changed oil, checked brakes, Schoo made his own kickstand pad, but you could buy one here

I’ve been warned that he will be commandeering the dining room table as early as this weekend to lay out his gear and decide what to take.  He still needs new boots and I’m helping him evaluate cookware for the trip.

Have you traveled the Alaskan Highway by motorcycle or traveled through the Yukon Territory?  Do you have any suggestions for cookware or other equipment they need?  And lastly, Schoo needs size 14 boots, preferably with Goretex and comfortable to walk in so he doesn’t have to take any other shoes.  Suggestions?

Alaska 2016!

So, it’s a go!  The 3 guys will go to Prudhoe Bay via adventure bike this summer, and we wives will meet them in Anchorage for some R&R on their way home.  John’s wife, K, wasn’t feelin’ it until recently when she showed up with this cake and some Moosetracks ice cream!  That’s what I call buy-in.

At our next meeting we will make some reservations for a few excursions!  Any suggestions?

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Sunday Motorcycle Ride

We rode the BMW to lunch with family Sunday… taking a highway 218 out of West Virginia and then 19 North toward Pittsburgh.  It was a leisurely ride in the sunshine and about 72*.

We see a lot of animals on our rides, like deer, possums, maybe skunks.  Today we were surprised to see a peacock in the road outside of Blacksville, WV.  Traffic was sparse so Schoo easily evaded it and the pea hen that was just off the shoulder.  🙂 Wish I’d taken a picture for you! But just for effect I found this one from http://www.hdnicewallpapers.com

peacock pic

After lunch we headed home and the temperature had climbed to 86*, a good indicator of the afternoon thunderstorms to come.  We made it home just ahead of the rain but couldn’t have had a better day on the bike.