MP3 500 to Alaska
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Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:37 pm quote
Rob In Denver wrote:
I catch up with your writing every few days and I always stay up late reading it. You are being appreciated, and I look forward to your reports.

No check engine light at altitude eh?? Maybe they fixed it ( bedevils all the ones I know here in the Rockies, including mine). What year is yours again??
Glad the bike has run so well! Fingers crossed!
The check engine light comes on randomly and then off. 10000+ feet and it ran fine and strong.
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:55 pm quote
July 07, 2010
Up late as I didn't have an appointment for service until 1200. I ended up, after a few miss-turns, getting there about 1115 though. The GPS on the scooter is great but it's so hard to see if you have direct sunlight on the screen.

I've had few issues with the scooter on this trip. The check engine light has come on a few times and then it died in the parking lot of a gas station in Ft. Lauderdale but other than that it has ran fine. In fact it has run great.

However, On my way to the shop I was at a light and this guy pulls up and starts asking me a few questions about the scooter. I could tell that he was going to steer the conversation back to him and the Harley he owned, had owned, wished to own or had a friend that owned, had owned, or wished to own one. How did I know? I caught a whiff of greasy Fat Bay XLC on his breath from the open window of his beater.

Well as he was going on the scooter died. Died. As soon as it stopped the light turned green and all hell broke loose behind me as people starting honking their horns. 'Calm down for crying out loud the lights only been green for .0002 seconds'.

It took a few cranks and it finally started up. Strange.

This, Big Boy Scooters, is one of three Vespa/Piaggio scooter shops in the Seattle area under one company umbrella. I got a good feeling when I talked to them yesterday and an even better feeling when I spoke to Joe prior to the service.

I had planned on trying to get the original tires to Anchorage before changing them But he pointed out the wear bars on the rear were showing and let me make the decision on whether or not to change it. I decided to go for a new tire. I wish there were retail dealers for RideOn but I haven't found any. So I got a new rear tire as well as service.

The shop is located in an industrial are so there are few places to go and hang out while waiting. I ended up walking all the way down to SAFECO field and back. Along the way I found a little deli; SODO Deli and stopped in for lunch and to watch the World Cup for an hour. Great sandwiches there.

Seattle was going through a heat wave and it was hot walking the streets. In addition to SAFECO field I saw the corporate headquarters for Starbucks and the main offices for Outdoor Research. OR also has a factory store there. Amazingly I walk, looked around awhile a walked out without dropping a dime. And Glamour Girls which is just down from SAFECO field had a shift change while I was passing by. Interested, but no time.

The scooter was done just about when they said it was going to be. I'm glad I made the decision to come to Seattle for service.

While waiting I met Randy Turk a scooter aficionado who was there to pick up a few things. He posts on ModernVespa as Turkman and recently did a 1000 mile run in under 24 hours. Amazing.

I get woozy thinking about that many miles. I probably couldn't do that in a car. He is real knowledgeable about scooters and it was a great talking to him. He does have a BMW but as I looked at them before the MP3 I won't hold it against him.

Big Boy Scooters did a great job. The total was reasonable and would have been a downright steal if I hadn't gotten the rear tire. They should definitely be on your list to stop at for any service if you're in the area. Thanks guys. Oh and thanks for the shirt.

I rolled out of their mid-afternoon. The plan was to get to Chilliwack, BC. Why? Not sure but I wanted to get over the border today.

There was little traffic leaving Seattle but as soon as we got to the suburbs it got bumper to bumper for about an hour. I fought intermittent wind off and on.

Just South of Marysville I got the shock of my life. I was cruising along and I looked over to the far left lane and there was a guy riding a Harleycati (1/2 Harley 1/2 Ducati - I use that term for anything on two wheels cobbled together) who had to be 250 lbs over weight. He had on what only can be described as a 'Prussian', although I think those had that spike coming out the top or German army helmet on. It looked 2 or three sizes too small for him. He probably puts it on and someone with a 2x4 pounds it down the rest of the way. And it was tied off with what looked like manila rope.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the shocking part; he had no shirt on. His man-boobs were flapping in the wind. It was impossible to focus on him as he was all man-jelly, bumping and rolling with the road; twisting and turning with the wind. What made it so special was he looked over and gave me a thumbs up before accelerating on up the freeway. His back fat flapping in the wind not unlike the flag you see in the news shorts of the Marines raising the American flag at Iwo Jima. That 'flappy'.

I pulled in for gas and had my first 'Then Came Bronson' moment. I had pulled the scooter off to one side after filling it up and I heard a voice behind me ask what part of Florida I was from. Turning there was a guy obviously dressed business casual with a briefcase. I told him where I was from. He asked where I was headed. Alaska I said. How long. Not sure. He sighed that sigh of someone who meets someone who is living their dream, man I wish I was going to Alaska. Keep dreaming brother and one day maybe it will happen. Of course I wanted to say 'Nobody gives a shit about things you didn't do' but I didn't want crush his dreams.

I went 5 N all the way to Bellingham. I should have stayed on 5 N and then went east but I turned off - because my GPS told me - and got on 542, the Mt. Baker Highway. A nice and scenic winding road.

Wrong turn as this turns into 9 headed to Nooksack. Parts of it are only 35 mph.

I crossed the border at Sumas. That went quick, just showed a passport, chatted about the MP3 and I was through. No drivers license, no insurance check.

I changed the GPS over to kilometers and got on 1 E at Abbotsford which took me to Chilliwack.

I got a room at the Comfort Inn. It was a bit disconcerting pulling in as there were several guys outside with their shirts off drinking beer by the entrance. But the hotel is clean and quiet.
This is a pet friendly motel. They have bowls of treats at the front deck for your pets. While I was checking in a guy walked in who looked like he had been working construction all day in the heat. With him was a cat on a leash. He was checking in as well. It can't be all that bad can it?

I walked over to Ricky's All Day Grill which is apparently a chain of restaurants in Canada for a quick pasta dinner.

Big People Scooters - Seattle.

Big People Scooters - Seattle.

Outdoor Research - Seattle.

Got questions about coffee or world domination - the answers are here.

Coolest building on the trip so far.

Hay, hay, hay, hay...

Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:53 pm quote
...challenging the Dempster.

The Dempster.

Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:14 pm quote
July 08, 2010
Out of Chilliwack to Hope east on 1. It was quite chilly in the morning. I stopped for gas in Chilliwack and while there I tried to get some money from an ATM - 'Transaction Unauthorized'. Damn E-Trade.

Heading east you're riding right into the sun, at least on the planet I'm from, and for the most part it is blocked by the mountain range in front of you. Beautiful, yet eerie, as the jagged outline of the mountains block the sun yet the sky is so bright from the sun.

Hope is at the eastern end of the Fraser Valley that I'll be spending a lot of time riding through. As I turn north towards Hope I'm at the base of the mountains so I'm still out of the sun and in the shadows. It is quite cool at 100 kph.

In Hope I stop and try another ATM - 'Transaction Unauthorized'. Damn E-Trade.

I need money. Maybe if I cross back over to the US I can get this card to work - thinking I have an international incident on my hands. I check the GPS for Hyder, AK - 800+ miles. I could turnaround and cross back into the US south of here as I'm not that far north of the border yet.

Nah! I roll on cashless in a foreign country.

At Hope I cross the Fraser River and if you look to your left as you cross you will see an old railroad trestle down the river, quite photogenic in the morning light. North now and I'm getting hit by some wind from the west. The mountains are close on three sides.

I stopped in Dogwood Valley for gas. A really strange Husky gas station. The guy working there was on the phone the whole time I was in the store. Never made eye contact, seemed to make an effort at not looking at me. Was it the pink Sarah Palin 2012 teddy I had on? Strange. A few miles down the road I stopped and put on my rain gear to try and break the wind and warm up a bit. It helped as it seemed to get much colder for about the next hour.

You're on the east side of the river for most of the ride. It is quite evident that there has been a lot of work done on this road to make it drivable; tunnels, rock slide catchalls, slide walls, re-pavement, etc. It's a great road. There is some construction on the road and at a bridge but there were minimal delays. Parts, several miles, are newly paved which made for a smooth ride.

The scooter was running strong and I passed several trucks. At one of the constructions stops I was waiting to move forward when I heard someone yell out - "Hey". It was one of the truck drivers I had passed earlier. He said was glad we got stopped so he could look at the scooter. He asked a few questions, got down on his hands and knees to get a good look at the front end, asked a few more questions and then it was time to leave.

You climb the mountain running next to the river then drop back down and climb again. On one bridge crossing, the one that was being worked on, I looked down and too my left and there was a railroad trestle with a train headed the opposite direction as me. How cool is that? But even cooler at the same time across the river is another set of train tracks with a train headed in the same direction I was!

The big climb is Jackass Mountain which is only 361 meters. 361 steep meters. You do the math. There is a little viewing area right at the summit. I was at the summit taking pictures of the train passing along the river below when I heard a truck horn. It was the truck driver I had talked to at the construction stop!

From Jackass you drop back down to the river and cross to the west side at Spencer Bridge. A few miles on at Ashcroft there is a sign warning of 'High Crosswinds' the next 3 kilometers. I thought, oh no, this can't be good and prepared for the worse.

No crosswinds. That or I handled the scooter with such skill that I am impervious to them. Ashcroft has a drag strip that runs parallel to 1. So if there is a race on you have a great seat.

I stopped at Cache Creek and chatted with some women from Oregon, on Harley's, who were headed home. They raved about Banff and Lake Louise, went on and on. I was trying to picture where it was from where we were but couldn't get a fix on it. Visiting Lake Louise and the Banff area is on my short list but I want to visit it on the return leg.

While there I met the Canadian from hell. I was getting to leave and I got: Eh, where you from, Oh No, Eh, What is this, Eh, No Eh, You don't say, No haven't been there, Eh, My sister lives close, Eh, Yeah, yeah yeah, No, Eh, You don't say, Haven't been, Can't today, No, Molson, Yeah, Eh, Too far north, You don't say, Yeah, Eh, Eh, You don't say... Those were the highlights of his 15 minute conversation. I had just eaten a salmon salad sandwich and slowly it started to make its way north. If I had stayed another 5 minutes there could have been an incident. The whole time I just nodded and grunted as he had the whole conversation to himself.

As soon as I pulled out I saw a sign for Whistler to the left. Oh, so tempting.

From Cache Creek you're on 97 north in a valley where there are great views, horses and a few cattle and the occasional corn field. Lots of 4 lane and if not plenty of passing lanes every few km.

You pass Williams Lake which looks gorgeous from the south but when you get to the north end there is a large plant that sets right on the lake that spoils the feeling you have about it. All you can think of is industrial waste being dumped in the lake. For the longest time business and towns are named after mileage stops. So you might see 121 Tire Repair, 140 Strip Club, etc.

North of 150 Mile House - a town, I saw several large barns over the course of a few miles. What I thought was unique about them was how steep their roof line was. You would round a bend and look over and wonder why in the heck is there an outdoor movie theater in that field? It's the steep roof lines you're seeing on a barn. The roofs are that steep. The snow must be very deep here. I got fooled 3 or 4 times by these barns.

The award for the best swimming hole of the trip is McLeese Lake. A few small businesses, homes and a small rocky beach that I couldn't figure out how to get out too is all that's on the lake. No plants, no large anything blocking the view. Yet it is right on 97 for great access.

The biggest delays were the road construction right out of Prince George and those were only about 10 minutes max. Days Inn, dinner and I'm done. They roll up the sidewalks in Prince George early. I think downtown Tampa has more going for it.

There was 1200GS parked out front when I pulled into the Days Inn. According to the desk clerk the rider was from Brazil. Damn, stole my thunder for distance riding.

Also as I was taking off the soft luggage I heard a vehicles tires screeching on the street. A voice yelled out - Hey is that an MP3! The first person in Canada that recognized an MP3.

July 08, 2010

Liars, I didn't see one.

Still lying, I didn't see one.

Ha! Those Canadians can't spill. Caribou is spelled wrong!

Near Spencer Bridge.

Near Williams Lake.

Prince George, BC.

Prince George, BC.

Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:23 pm quote
July 09, 2010 - Alaska
Not only do they roll up the sidewalks early in Prince George they don't put them out until late in the morning. Sunrise is at 0500 yet other than the hotel clerk there weren't many people around. Where's the 'cat guy'?

In fact I had to have the hotel clerk unlock the front door as I was the first person out that morning. I should have gotten a sworn affidavit as no one will believe me.

I practically had the city to myself. The only glitch was a crime scene that blocked the road out of town. But that was easily solved by routing back through the surrounding neighborhood.

I headed briefly south then slowly turned west. The GPS threw me again as I was travelling it showed no fuel for more than 70 miles. I hadn't filled up in Prince George but expected to run across a station shortly on heading out. I ended up in Vanderhoof. Even sitting at the pump it did not show a gas station close.

Road conditions were good with minimal winds for a change. I'm seeing more and more bicyclists out. Some of them have more gear than I have. And all of them are headed south.

I also realize that I have yet to see one motorcyclist headed in the same direction as me. Everyone is headed south. I also believe that every BMW1200GS ever manufactured is here in British Columbia. I've seen more of these and the F800GS in the past 36 hours than I've ever seen in my entire life.

I pulled over about an hour after starting out and put on a fleece top and my rain gear. It is just too chilly. I also got my first taste of Canadian mosquitoes, slightly sweet with just a hint of lime. I got swarmed as soon as I stopped. Of course stopping next to a river wasn't the brightest idea.

Right after I got back on the road I saw several deer getting ready to cross but they turned away as I approached. Then about a mile further on another deer, this a buck with about an 8-point set of antlers, was also getting ready to cross until I drove by. Finally wildlife.

Up until about Burn's Lake you're still in the Fraser Valley. As you would expect you get a lot of Fraser trees and great views. Running past the Fraser RV Services I looked over and there was a black bear, the first I'd seen on this trip, walking through the parking lot of the business. The business has a fenced in lot next to the retail store. The gate was open, even though I saw no cars out front, and the bear just ambled right in the back. He didn't stop, flinch or look around just full steam ahead into the back lot. I was tempted to turn around and see the outcome but I kept riding.

At Burns Lake, the geographic center of British Columbia I finally bought the gas can I kept telling myself I needed to buy. Didn't fill it just bought it to try out on the scooter.

In Houston, which has a brand new bridge outside of town that they are quite proud of, I filled the scooter and finally the spare can. How fortuitous this was going to be before the day was over.

From Houston you can clearly see distant mountain peaks with snow on them. I wasted a lot of time talking to people about the scooter. I get done with one series of questions and then some other group would walk up and ask the same questions. Hey, go online and schedule an appointment!

Rolling into Smithers you see, at least from the main road, what looks like a new town - clean, bright colors, minimal trash. I was impressed that it seemed to have more going for it than Prince George which is the largest city in northern British Columbia.

The mountains seem to get a bit larger here that or I'm way closer. There is a ski resort, Hudson Bay Mountain that you can see from the main road in Smithers. On the way out of town I had another black bear cross the road in front of me.

31 km past Smithers is Moricetown Canyon. This is a pinch point for the Bulkley River which narrows into a series of rapids that are just several yards across. It is a popular fishing point for the local native population. You can see several of the weirs that are used by them to fish.

Finally after several river crossings, some on bridges with wooden decks, on past lake after lake you come to Kitwanga where you turn on the Dease Lake Hwy/Stewart Cassiar Hwy/BC-37 N. You can't miss the signs as it's bigger than anything else there.

The road is good. There was some construction at the bridge just as I made the turn. I missed the sign that said there were no gas services at Meziadin Junction which is about 100 miles north of Kitwanga.

This section is a great drive that seems to put you closer and closer to the mountains. At the junction of 37 N and 37 A that takes you to Stewart/Hyder only then did I see a sign telling me no gas services available. Ouch! The low fuel light was on. Luckily I had filled the gas can I bought. I used it to fill up with and then onward towards the closest, to the contiguous 48 states, Alaskan city.

This run, the last 30 miles or so, is beautiful. The light was flat and it was overcast the entire time but I did stop a few times and take photos. I imagine on a clear day it's eye-popping. At time it has a 'Lord of the Rings' feel. I only saw part of the first one so I can't speak for the entire series.

There was very little traffic. In fact several times I stopped, took photos from the center of the road got back on and rode away with no one passing me in either direction.

The mountains get closer to the rode the closer you get to Stewart. Finally you ride into Stewart. I made it. What was I expecting? A parade?

Stewart is a small town that has experienced boom and bust with gold and silver mining. You run in on the main road turn towards downtown past a few shops and places to eat and you're essentially through the town it's that small. You can continue on past the docks, with the mountains now right above you, and then you just squeak past Canadian customs and bam your in Hyder, Alaska.

Hyder, Alaska another town that's on the bust side of boom and bust. I pulled up to the Welcome to Alaska and Hyder, Alaska signs, got my picture taken, thank you Caroline of Caroline's Chocolate, which is literally 10 feet in Hyder from the border. I drove down the main street, which is pot holed, turned in to the Sealaska Inn saw the Mile Marker 0 sign for the Yukon, got another picture taken and departed Alaska.

You have to stop at Canadian customs even though you were in Canada 10 minutes ago. Not reentry stamp though. Just innumerable questions about the scooter. Everyone from customs was outside. Traffic started to back up because no one was allowed to enter Canada until they were done with me. Almost a diplomatic crisis. You should have heard the honking.

Back to Stewart. Luckily I had made reservations at the Ripley Creek Inn before leaving Prince George. One, it was filled and two I've apparently left my cell phone in the Days Inn hotel in Prince George so I couldn't call from the road.

Dinner was at the Bitter Creek Cafe; steelhead Salmon cakes and a salad. A few drinks and off to bed. Ripley Creek Inn is pricier than most places in town but comfortable and a great deal after a hard ride or drive. Try and get a room in the main lodge as these are newer.

July 09, 2010


Moricetown Canyon.

Road to Stewart/Hyder.

Road to Stewart/Hyder.

Road to Stewart/Hyder.

Road to Stewart/Hyder.

Road to Stewart/Hyder.

Stewart docks.

Sealaska Inn, Hyder.

Mile 0.

That Alaska sign.

Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:03 pm; edited 2 times in total
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:17 pm quote
July 10, 2010 - Stewart/Hyder to Watson Lake, YT
Stewart/Hyder to Watson Lake, YT

It had rained most of the night. The motel doesn't have blackout curtains; I bet the owners room does, so if you're a light sleeper around at 0430 your room starts lighting up.

The clouds were down around 300 feet and it was very misty. Not too terribly cold but damp as could be expected.

A quick fill up in town and off. I'm on the Cassier Highway outbound from yesterday. The clouds lifted somewhat on my way out but I rarely got a view of the high peaks. A few times the low clouds could be seen twisting and turning among trees and rocky outcroppings on the slopes of the mountains. Really beautiful even under this flat light.

I passed a woman running/jogging along the road in the same direction I was going. I'm not sure if she was exercising or running from a bear. All I know is the scooter didn't need to out run the bear just her which it did just fine. Good luck my fair Canadian maiden in the pink Reeboks.

The next gas station heading towards Watson Lake is 95 miles north. It is in Bell II. Strange name. It is a heli-skiing resort and it catches you by surprise when you come around the curve and this complex is sitting there. There is a lodge and restaurant here as well as fuel. Quite impressive. It has limited hours so plan accordingly if you're headed that way.

About another 40 miles or so is Bob Quinn Lake. They have an airport but I did not see a gas station there. The next gas I got was at Kluachon which was about 98 miles from Bell II.

While I was paying at Kluachon a full size motor home/tour bus pulled in. Think Brooks & Dunn 2010 world tour size. A woman from the bus stopped me to ask what part of Florida I was from as they were from Manatee County south of where I live.

They were headed home, well back to Jackson Hole, WY where they had another home and then on to Florida. She complained about how tough the drive was. I just stared at this behemoth, the bus not her, and thought 'yeah tough'. On and on she went and all I could think of was do they have a washer and dryer on board that I could use?

Definitely someone who is spoiled. They were stopping at the Jackson Hole home to pick up their guns because they couldn't bring them to Canada. Something wasn't right here. You travel all the way from Florida with 'guns' yet you leave them in Wyoming, and then pass back through Wyoming to get those 'guns'. But anyway how about that washer and dryer did you leave it in Wyoming as well?

From here early on the roads were good with a few bumps and little to no construction or repair issues. But as the day wore on there were more and more areas that needed repairs. After Kluachon I ran into gravel and some construction delays that took pilot cars to get us through. I saw two black bears in this section crossing the road.

Gravel, oh how gravel sucks. I thought I was on Jell-O. The scooter was all over the road. My overall average is definitely going to drop if I run across large sections of gravel further on. It's brutal. All the sections I saw were marked making it difficult to run up on the graveled section unawares.

Crossing Gnats Pass I came up on a scooter going the other way! I was stunned. This looked like an old school 150 cc or so. It was loaded down with gear. I slowed down carefully as I was on gravel and turned around but it had dropped down the pass and out of sight. If anyone knows who it was please tell them they made a big impression. Good Luck.

About 60 miles from Watson Lake the road gets better and it looks like it has been rebuilt within the last few years. In this section I saw a fairly large brown bear that sauntered out on the road. They never come out when I have the video camera running though.

I didn't realize that Watson Lake is south of where 37 joins the Alaskan Highway. So I turned south for about 18 miles or so to get a room.

Watson Lake is where the Sign Post Forest is. It's probably their only claim to fame. I stopped in the visitors that center that is adjacent to the forest to ask for recommendations for hotels. According to Sasha and Trudy there are, at last count, 67,983 signs. However, Trudy, who does the counting once a year, let it slip that she's only estimating the number now. Canadian Slacker!

Need information about the area, roads, food? Then stop in as these women are the experts. Just don't ask them to count over 67,983.

I tried the 'Nice Motel' which is recommended on TripAdviser but they were fully booked. Off to the Air Force Lodge which is also recommended by TripAdviser.

This is a very quirky place. It's an old air force barracks that's been converted to a motel/hostel. Shared bathrooms and you can't wear shoes past the main entrance. You have to go back and forth from your vehicle and drop all your gear, then take your shoes off and then take the gear to the room. Elisabeth runs a tight ship there. Thinking about getting in after midnight? Think again as you won't get in. It was spotless but a bit noisy from the lack of insulation between the rooms but I was happy to have it.

A quick dinner at Kathie's Place and off to bed.

Hyder/Stewart outbound.

They really, really mean this.

Plenty of these signs.

Bell II.

This is at Bell II. I missed a similar sign inbound to Stewart/Hyder yesterday.

Bell II. From here it is a long way till the next station.

Waiting for a pilot car at a construction zone.

Fuel in the middle of nowhere.

Wild horses along the road.

Welcome to the Yukon.



Watson Lake, Sign Post Forest.

Sign Post Forest.

Air Force Lodge Inn.

July 10, 2010

Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:53 pm quote
July 11, 2010
July 11, 2010

I wanted today to be an easy light day. I was headed to Whitehorse where I'm going to take tomorrow off and rest, do laundry and well rest. I thought Whitehorse was much closer than I found out to be.

I slept late. While the Air Force Lodge is clean and quaint it is a bit noisy only because of the lack of insulation and floor padding. So anyone going to the bathroom squeaks when they walk down and back. We also had a young kid who was colicky and cried for hours until she fell asleep.

The only other downside is the rooms need a fan to move some air around. I was warm but not terribly warm. If a heat wave rolled through it could have been miserable in the room. Oh and they don't have blackout curtains on the windows so with the sun setting after midnight and rising just a few hours later your 'dark' is limited.

272 miles or so just didn't seem that far.

I tried to rearrange the 'luggage' before I left. I moved the extra gas can to the small luggage rack that is on the back of the scooter. I thought I could set it there on its side and then put the dry bag up an over it. However, it pushed the dry bag too high at the back of the scooter. With the dry bag sideways from what I've had it I then put it behind the dry bag up right and strapped it to the dry bag using bungee cords. This seems to work and it was very secure. Time will tell if it works ok.

I had a Harley moment before I left town. I pulled into the last gas station on the outskirts of town. As I was paying a Cadillac Escalade pulled in behind me at the pumps pulling a trailer. I went out and started getting my gear on when voice behind me asked "Hey did you ride this all the way from Florida?" My usual quick reply is "Of course I did it's not a Harley." I turned there was this guy standing next to the Cadillac Escalade which was pulling this enormous Harley Davidson trailer. He stared, I stared (and laughed to myself), and he went on about his business of filling up the Cadillac and never said another word.

Later on that day I was stopped alongside the road to adjust the video camera when they blew by. I waved but didn't get the courtesy of a toot in return. Bastards!

You're on the Alaskan Highway the whole way. For the most part the road is in great shape. In areas where there are recent road repairs there are small flags at the side of the road to warn you. Frost heaving was everywhere the entire day with the occasional 'gotcha' that is a lit bit more severe than the rest. It was cold and chilly all day with the exception of the last 45 minutes or so.

The road was wet from a recent rain as I got further out of town. The wind picked up and made it seem even colder. The ambient temperature gauge on the scooter never moved for about an hour as it consistently stayed in the mid-50s. My experience is that the gauge is off by 5-6 degrees to the high side. So taking that into account it was in the high 40s and factor in a wind chill with 50-60 mph it was cold.

I pulled over after about an hour and put on some more fleece. I had neglected, which I will never do again in Canada, to put on any long johns so my legs were cold all day. While I was stopped changing the temperature gauge dropped 6 degrees.

Rain and wind were a constant threat throughout the day. The winds would come from the east, the south the west, etc. There was no predicting where I would get hit from. Even a 5 minute respite when running through some low lying hills on either side of the road was welcomed.

I blew through Rancheria and did not get gas as I had the extra tank on the bike. You are in the middle of nowhere with few business, homes and services so plan carefully. Even though this is the 'great highway north' it did not have a lot of traffic.

I did pull in at The Continental Divide Lodge at Swift River with is another 30 miles or so past Rancheria. Most of these locations are not open 24 hours a day. And if you're on the shoulder of the summer season they may open late and close early. So far I've been able to use my credit card at all the places I've stopped at. For some reason I can't pull cash on my debit card. I plan trying again at a bank in Whitehorse just in case I come across a place that does not or can't take credit cards.

Just past The Continental Divide Lodge you cross back into British Columbia and you pass Swan Lake. You see the occasional campground or boat pulled up on a distant shore at small lakes here so people are out using the facilities.

Passing Swan Lake it looked like I was headed into a major rain storm so I stopped to take a picture as the sheets of rains in the distance were being blown around by the wind. It seemed as if the road ran straight into the storm. And out of this storm came a bicyclist riding towards me! And I have complaints? I saw quite a few bicyclists all day long on this road. Now that's a trip. Everyone was headed south except for one pair I passed after the Yukon Lodge.

I, again, got passed by many motorcycles all headed south. Is there some big motorcycle get together I haven't heard about south of here because everyone seems headed that way?

You're in a large broad valley for most of this section with very little elevation changes. Most of the elevation changes are just to drop down to cross rivers.

One of the largest lakes you'll pass is Teslin Lake. This thing is enormous. You don't even see all of it as the road turns north about 1/3rd of the way along it. It spans both British Columbia and the Yukon Territories.

And here is where it got scary; The Teslin Bridge. It is a metal-grated bridge. They have signs warning about the bridge. Heed them. I waited for traffic to die down before crossing. I was wandering all over it. I felt like I was going to go down at any time.

I pulled into the Yukon Motel and Restaurant which is on the other side of the bridge for something to eat and fuel. It was here that I finally saw some motorcycles going north. A group from Brazil. I neglected to ask if one of them was on the 1200gs I saw at Prince George. But finally someone headed north.

From Teslin to Whitehorse is about 100 miles. Only in the last 45 minutes did the sun come out. But it was much appreciated.

The city of Whitehorse in square miles/kilometers is huge. You run past housing subdivisions 10+ miles before getting to the downtown area. I pulled over a few miles outside the city to set up the video camera on the scooter and it was here that a guy pulled up to see if I needed anything. Thanks, it is greatly appreciated my new Canadian friend.

There were a few sections of road where maintenance and construction crews were working but any delay was minimal. For the most part everyone obeys the speed limit, usually 100 kph, with few speeders which is quite a change from further south. South as in the US or WV.

I'm staying at the Best Western. When I checked in I was told I was upgraded to a suite because of booking issues. I think of an upgrade as something of a better value but for the same price. I haven't checked what I was quoted but it looks like I am just paying more for the next higher room. It is nice, full kitchen, two bedrooms, and large living room. It's probably as large a place as I've ever stayed in.

I walked down to the local grocery store to pick up a few things for my new full size kitchen. One of the things was beer but the grocery store doesn't sell beer. I asked the clerk, a mousy kind of guy with thick glasses and a very bushy moustache, where beer was sold. I'm not sure of his accent but it wasn't French to my ear. He just laughed and laughed and played with his moustache while talking French? I caught 'off site sales' a few times and left. I'm sure the RCMP has that place under surveillance. I saw no kids in the store which is a good thing.

Dinner at Klondike Rib and Salmon Barbecue; Caribou Stew which was excellent, spicy and expensive and off to bed. Now which bedroom tonight?

July 11, 2010

Trying to figure out where to put the gas can.


I'll ride like this to see if it will work.

My Harley moment.

Somewhere out there is a bicycling goddess about to appear from this storm.

Heed this warning.

Teslin Bridge.

Whitehorse for two days.

Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
Veni, Vidi, Posti
. . 2008 Blue MP3 400. . di Peluria Orso .... 1993 Kawasaki Vulcan 500 ....... 2013 Honda NC700XD; 2017 Versys X300
Joined: 02 Jun 2008
Posts: 6169
Location: Milledgeville, GA
Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:57 pm quote
Could the scooter headed south have been DaBinChe on his Symba?
MP3 500
Joined: 20 Aug 2008
Posts: 4530
Location: Ashburn, Va
Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:22 am quote
Fuzzy wrote:
Could the scooter headed south have been DaBinChe on his Symba?
I was thinking the same thing
Mp3 500
Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 2320
Location: Denver Colorado
Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:32 am quote
Just a great adventure. Thanks for sharing it.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
Neutrino MP3 492.7 AK, 2013 Moto Guzzi Norge
Joined: 29 Mar 2008
Posts: 21762
Location: Harriman, Tennessee, Tn
Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:57 am quote
the Harley moment is a classic. I'll have to use that.
2009 GTV 250
Joined: 17 Nov 2005
Posts: 2532
Location: Olympia, WA
Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:30 am quote
Makes me fell like I'm almost there.......
What a great trip you're having! Good travel-log and pictures.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
Neutrino MP3 492.7 AK, 2013 Moto Guzzi Norge
Joined: 29 Mar 2008
Posts: 21762
Location: Harriman, Tennessee, Tn
Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:17 am quote
this might have been the guy heading south on what you saw to be an old honda cub scooter. To Alaska on a Symba
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:21 pm quote
This is the edited initial plan that got me started on the road to Alaska that I wrote for another website. There have been some significant changes since I wrote this in April 2010.

I started thinking about a ride to Alaska while living/working in Taji (Camp Cooke) Iraq. Taji is about 20 miles north of the city of Baghdad. I'd been there since late 2007 working on a U.S. government contract. I found a few online forums; ADVRider in particular, which had plenty of Alaska trip reports to stoke my imagination.

I had anticipated coming back to the US in early to mid-summer 2010 so I was trying to find something out of the ordinary to take part in. I looked at hiking the Appalachian Trail northbound but because of my time constraints it probably wouldnít be feasible for 2010. Besides, I really wanted to do something that allowed me to get out and do a lot of miles on the road and meet people.

I ended up coming back to the US May 15, 2010.

So I turned to motorcycling to Alaska. Many years ago I lived in Big Lake, which is north of Anchorage. I have been back a few times but each time it has been in January or February so I'm was looking forward to the warmer weather.

My intent is to ride from Key West up the east coast and enter Canada at the northernmost point that vehicles can cross from Maine; Estcourt Station. Then cross the St. Lawrence River at RiviŤre-du-Loup and head out across Canada by the straightest path to Alaska. I hadn't put too much thought into the route. I am planning on heading west until I eventually ran into Alaska.

In my search for online information I came across the AlaskaBikeRun website. I read a few of the posts and descriptions of previous trips and the plans for the 2010 ride. The turnaround for this trip is Hyder, AK in the Alaskan panhandle. The pace for 2010 seemed ideal for my first long distance motorcycle trip. None of my friends ride so finding a fellow rider might have proven difficult.

I'm will be staying in the Tampa, Florida area at the time of the trip start. I stay at a hotels or with friends since I don't own a home when I come into town. So the plan is to 'start' in Key West and then ride up and meet the group from the Alaska Bike Run who are starting in St. Augustine.

This group only goes to Hyder, AK and then turns around. From Hyder, I plan on continuing north. Initially my sights were set on the goal of getting to Prudhoe Bay but I am toying with the idea of Inuvik AND Prudhoe Bay for this trip. The time of the year the ride is taking place is right for attempting this. Spring will have sprung above the Arctic Circle!

I'm pretty much open to anything so I'll re-evaluate the situation on arrival in Hyder and make a decision as to which route to take. Overly optimistic and ambitious? Absolutely.

I do know that I definitely will not be returning with the original group as I want to see some of the interior of Alaska. From the interior of Alaska I'll head to Vancouver. Then Iíll head down through Washington, Wyoming, Utah/Colorado and New Mexico before heading back east to Tampa. But all this is subject to change.

Now for the rest of the story, I donít have a bike, havenít had one for years! No long distance experience at all, none. Iíve been reading bike reviews, watching online videos on YouTube so that makes me qualified doesn't it? Iíve narrowed my bike choice down to about 5 bikes.

My plan is to get back a few weeks before the ride starts, take care of a few personal things that Iíve been putting off for years and then find a bike. Iíll break it in with a few short trips. Those will be mostly to Wal-Mart. Though I might get adventurous and ride to the beach. But I will be ready.

A scooter wasn't even on the radar when I wrote this. I knew about the MP3 but hadn't really investigated it much.

I was looking a BMW 1200s. F800, G650, Kawasaki Versys perhaps a KTM 990.

Ah yes, new in-country I hadn't started crapping my pants everytime the alarm went off as a rocket made it's way on to the base. But that would happen soon, so soon. We had a vehicle then - unarmored - but we were young and foolish.

Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:53 pm; edited 3 times in total
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:38 pm quote
July 12, 2010
July 12, 2010

I slept late and then went looking for a place to buy cell phones. The Wal-Mart sells cell phones but they only have one, as in physically one, at a time. And that 'one' had been sold.

I stopped at a Ski-Doo shop to look at snowmobiles on the way out of the Wal-Mart parking lot. It is also a Can-Am, Honda and KTM dealer.

I met some guys there that were driving Honda Gold Wings pulling trailers. One of them had lost control yesterday; his bike fell over and flipped the trailer. The two of them were unable to right it and had to get a tow truck to get them back to Whitehorse. Apparently there is a large gravel section just 20 miles north of Whitehorse. They were planning on renting a car to continue their trip as they thought the bike was totaled. It was beat up and had some broken turn signals and screen but it looked rideable to me. But I'm no Gold Wing expert.

Off to a cell phone store. After jumping through some Canadian telecommunication hoops I was able to purchase a prepaid phone for $80. The clerk couldn't guarantee service throughout the NWT though. I tried to get a phone with a contract which would give me guaranteed service but he couldn't figure out how to input US postal codes in the contract. So prepaid it is.

I bought an additional fleece top as I'm still a bit chilly while riding. I didn't want to as I have so much winter clothing I just don't have it with me. A bird in the hand...

Using my new phone I was able to call Dawson City and get a room. It was the third hotel I called as everyone is booked up. Damn cruise lines.

Whitehorse is not that big of a town yet it accounts for 75% of the YTs population. That's very surprising because the YT is fairly big.

There are lots of diners and small local restaurants to eat at. The ubiquitous Starbucks on the corner with plenty of t-shirt shops to drop some cash in. Tour busses were everywhere dropping and picking people up at hotels. I don't know if they are flown here or come up from Skagway which I believe is a cruise ship stop.

Oh, beer is $18 a six-pack. So I've been told.

Welcome to Whitehorse.



Downtown park.

Old train station.

This is all that's left of the mighty Yukon RR.




This is how tourists are brought in from the cruise lines in Skagway. The tide was out when I took this photo.

Downtown park. A tribute to a miner and his dog looking for...a bar, which there are about 10 within 250' of this 'tribute'. Note the gleam in both their eyes, they have one spotted.

Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:36 am; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:00 pm quote
July 13, 2010
I got out of Whitehorse relatively early in the morning. However, since the sun comes up around 0400 it wasn't Whitehorse early.

The road out of town was fine. I was dreading the patch of gravel I heard about the day earlier from the two guys on Gold Wings one of whom went down. You're on 2 N heading out of town. There was some wind but it wasn't too bad and in time as the road turned it was coming from behind me which was pleasant for a change.

I was wearing my poly-pro long Johns, a poly-pro long sleeve top with the new fleece top I bought yesterday. I had on the rain liner for my jacket and the body armor jacket which is mesh but offers a very limited amount of wind protection and my gloves. I wasn't too chilled but I did wonder if I needed to put on my rain pants to break the wind.

I hit the long section of gravel about 25 miles from Whitehorse. This one had a pilot car that you had to wait on to escort you through the gravel section. Motorcycles and, of course, scooters are asked to come to the front of the line. According to the 'flag lady', who was very nice, the driver of the pilot car likes to keep tabs on bikes in case something happens and there isn't a big issue with dust if you're out in front. I asked about an accident the day before but she said she didn't know of one at this location.

Am I getting better on gravel? No. I'm gaining more respect for it. I do not want to go down.

Early on you pass Fox Lake which was the site of a massive forest fire in 1998; the Fox Lake Burn. There are still trees standing that have the burnt charcoal look to them. It goes on for miles, far further than the eye can see. Even after this many years there is only a limited amount of scrub and brush growing back. No new growth of trees has started up that I could see. According to one of the informational signs scientists are unsure exactly what will grow here over next hundred years or so.

Past the Fox Burn is another section that was burned in 1956. It didn't look much different than the 1998 section from Fox Lake.

I blew by Braeburn Lodge which is about an hour from Whitehorse. Earlier on I had been passed by a Holland America Cruise Line's bus that was going well past the speed limit. Damn cruise lines!

Well this bus was parked at the lodge and I didn't want to deal with 50+, 50+ (get it - 50+, 50+) tourists just for some gas. There is an airport there called Cinnamon Bun Airstrip. I saw no Cinnamon Buns on the runway. Apparently there are issues with gophers digging holes in the runway as they have a series of warning signs out. Damn gophers!

There were a few rough patches from Braeburn towards Carmacks. A few frost heaves and some major patching of areas 20-50 feet at a time. The patched areas are well marked and there were few surprises.
I pulled into to Carmacks for gas.

I did not see one motorcycle heading north the entire day. Just outside Carmacks there were two 1200GSs parked at a restaurant and the riders were getting ready to head out. I pulled over a bit later to take some pictures and I thought that they would pass me if they were headed north. But I never saw them again. I probably scared them off.

At times you can see, it seems forever, the countryside and trees just go on and on. This is big country.

Past Carmacks is Five Finger Rapids. On the Yukon River Five Fingers is a set of rapids that the paddle wheelers had to negotiate in early part of the gold rush. From the viewing stand this looks like it would be a lot of work.

It is well worth the stop. You can walk down to the rapids but I didn't have time. I'll seriously look at stopping and going all the way down to the rapids on the return journey.

A bit later on you pass a location called Minto Resort. I believe that it is a working mine even though it said 'resort'. I didn't stop to investigate because there was no time. However, the hours posted along the road are from 1100-1500 which seem a bit short for a resort.

As you drop down to cross the Campbell River you're on a bluff overlooking a major section of the Trintina Trench. It's a fault line that is 65 million years old. From this overlook you can see the remnants of the Loki Gold mine which are directly below you.

Crossing the Campbell Bridge I came across the first stop sign for hundreds of miles. I almost blew through it! What's a stop sign doing in the middle of nowhere? From here you turn left for Dawson.

At this point the road began to narrow. While occasionally you still have a fairly wide shoulder for the most part the drainage ditches are right at the edge of the road. No line marks the edge of the road so you need to be aware of where you are in the lane. There is no room for error. Also, weeds and small scrub have started to grow up through the asphalt. It gives the road the look of a country lane that hasn't seen much maintenance. The road is still in good shape it just seems like your back on a rural road now, which of course you are.

I passed another burn area from 1958 that seems to have fared better than the previous ones I'd seen but it is still going to be a long time until the trees are back.

I ran across my Swiss friends here. At least I think they were Swiss. Two brand new shiny vehicles with 'foreign' tags that nobody can understand. You know the kind; they pull in and wonder why everything isn't in metric, try to pass Euros off as money and then ask for free health care.

They were going slower than me, all over the road and they were slow! I would pass them, stop for photos and no matter how fast I was with the camera I couldn't get back on the scooter fast enough to stay ahead of them. Pass again. Stop. Race to catch up and pass them.

About 25 miles or so outside of Dawson City is the Klondike River Lodge. This is the start of the Dempster highway to Inuvik. It is a long way to Inuvik from here with minimal support; gas, food, beer, etc.. In fact it's over 200 miles to the first gas stop. Lots of mud, gravel, several river crossings by ferry and a whole lot of nothing so I've heard and read.

I've been toying with a Dempster run for some time. Inuvik is the most northern accessible city in Canady via road. It's Canada's version of the run to Prudhoe Bay. So last night I made reservations in Eagle Plains which is the half way point and about 20 miles south of the Arctic Circle. They had no rooms available for the Wednesday so I'm staying in Dawson an extra day before heading up. Even with the reservation I've been hesitant. It's a big challenge both physically, mentally and mechanically. If I break down it's a tow back to Vancouver/Seattle or Anchorage. Not cheap. In for a penny in for a... whatever.

At the Klondike I filled up. I was told that the road to Alaska was closed. How can a road to a state be closed? And how come I'm just hearing about it?

I ran up the Dempster about 1/2 mile to look at it before turning around for Dawson. By now it was raining which is not good for the Dempster as it has a reputation for being muddy.

I had reservations for only one night at the Aurora Inn in Dawson. I was going to try to get into the Westmark which online seems a bit more upscale. I stopped and looked at my room and decide to stay both nights at the Aurora.

The Aurora Inn is nice. It is similar to the Air Force Lodge in Watson Lake in that you have to take your shoes off before entering. Don't they have vacuum cleaners in Canada? It's quirky at first but if you're going back and forth to your vehicle it's a pain in the ass.

Dawson City is rough and there is no way around that. It was the Yukon's first capitol city. Many buildings probably have been here for over 100 years and they are still being used. And there are many buildings that have been here for OVER 100 years. Most of these are falling down or tilting to one side because they were built directly on the permafrost. It does give the city a bit of flavor though.

There is only one paved road in town. There are lots of bars, hotels and tourists wandering around. Without the ferry (and the road to Alaska) this town would have disappeared a long time ago.

I went to eat at the Billy Goat Pub. It's associated with the Greek restaurant next door; The Drunken Goat Taverna so you can order your food at the restaurant and they will bring it to you in the bar. Terrible service, pretty decent Greek Salad, but the service overshadowed the food. It rained pretty heavily while I was eating.

I did not see any wild game - Nada! I saw lots of signs (warning signs along the road) but nothing was out.

There are a lot of great views along this section.

Waiting for a pilot car.

Single lane bridge because of construction/repairs.

It could say 5000km and I wouldn't believe them.

Waiting for a pilot car.

Oh yeah, this guy is roughing it. He has to pump his own fuel.

Fox Lake Burn. It's quite an attraction.

Fox Lake Burn.

Fox Lake Burn. There are areas of severe erosion because of the lack of vegetation.

Fox Lake Burn. This is almost 13 years later.

Welcome to Carmacks.

The Yukon north of Carmacks.

I sat here and debated the merits of scratch offs vs. 'quick picks' with some of the local population.

Klondike River Lodge. About 25 miles from Dawson City. THE gas station before the Dempster - which starts just across the road.

Start of the Dempster.

I have Cigna International I'm covered anywhere.

They lie about Elk they might be lying about this.

What's this in miles? 75, 80 tops?

Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Sun Feb 06, 2011 10:37 am; edited 3 times in total
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:55 pm quote
July 14, 2010
Used my new Canadian cell phone and called the Days Inn in Prince George and they do have my cell phone. Hopefully they will hold it until I get back through.

I called the Anchorage Piaggio dealer and ordered two front tires since they don't have them in stock. It's about $100 for the tires and another $100 for shipping. I think Piaggio USA needs to pick that charge up? If you're going to sell a brand stock the tires.

I drove and walked around Dawson City for awhile. Played tourist and shot some video and a few pictures.

I sat and watched the ferry across the Yukon run back a forth a few times. The ferry comes into a gravel dock area. It just runs up on to the gravel and cars/trucks drive on and off.

As the water level changes there is a bull dozer at the ferry landing to rearrange the gravel as necessary. I saw some fairly large vehicles; including a double tractor trailer fuel truck, get off without any difficulty. I also reconfirmed with the ferry 'people' that the road to Alaska is closed.

I tried to chat up a few local ladies but I got blown out of the water pretty quickly. I need to work on that Canadian accent I'm using.

I bought another gas can so I'm assured of not running out of gas on the Dempster tomorrow. I figure with what I have in the scooter tank and the other spare can I can go about 250 miles before I get very close to bottom. Its 229 miles to a gas station from the start of the Dempster if the sign is correct. I know I'll probably get great mileage with the slow speeds but I'm looking for a little piece of mind here.

The local Shell station here is also has a Sears catalog service if you want to put in an order for Christmas now. It might just get here in time for the holidyas.

On to the Dempster!

Aurora Inn. Don't get caught with your shoes on!

This is NOT the best little grocery store in the Klondike. They don't sell beer.

A typical Dawson City street. It still has wooden sidewalks.

Shops on the main street.

Dawson City Museum.

The Westmark, both sides of the street, is the biggest hotel in town. I believe that one of the cruise lines has an exclusive interest in the hotel as they have permanent offices there.

Westminster Hotel. More importantly the Wesminster Beer Garden.

This is what happens when you build on permafrost and over the years the building settles. I have no doubt that not too long ago this building was in use.

St. Andrews.

General store.

Examples of different types of gold from local mines.

A typical Dawson City street.

Ferry across the Yukon.

Ferry across the Yukon.

Ferry across the Yukon.

Ferry across the Yukon.

The first scooter for thousands of miles. He was my only competition in town.

Ahh, what stories could be told about this place.

A lot of freight still moves along the river.

Economical housing IS available in Dawson City. You just have to know where to look.

Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:47 pm; edited 2 times in total
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Sun Aug 01, 2010 1:04 pm quote
Dawson City, YT
Dawson City, YT photos

Economical housing IS available in Dawson City. You just have to know where to look.

You get hurt on the Dempster. This is where the emergency response begins.

Native Interpertive Center.

Native Interpertive Center.

Tours are available along the Yukon and Klondike.

Bars and more bars.

I think this is how they bring in the cruise line passengers. It was low tide when I took this photo.

It's not WMNF but they still manage to put out some good music.

MP3 500ie
Joined: 08 Aug 2009
Posts: 51
Location: Atlanta
Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:39 am quote

First off, thank you for the ride report. I have immensely enjoyed keeping up with your adventure.

Thought you would get a kick out of this...

So I am at work today and emailing one of my co-workers and he says:

"Saw a guy in Whitehorse, Yukon on a bike like yours, rode it from Key West...


So I emailed back:

"Holy sh*t! What were you doing in Yukon? I think you ran into Chiaroscuro on my forum!!!

MP3 500 to Alaska

And he replied back:

"Yep, I do believe that was him! Timing was right, we were on the way home and he was on the way up! Hit the forum and tell him you work with the guy with the BIG sidecar he saw in Whitehorse (where he got the last room at the Best Western Motel, we ended up in another hotel that was FULL of motorrcycle folks and a couple of overwhelmed old folks)."

Small world!
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:27 pm quote
akela wrote:

First off, thank you for the ride report. I have immensely enjoyed keeping up with your adventure.

Thought you would get a kick out of this...

So I am at work today and emailing one of my co-workers and he says:

"Saw a guy in Whitehorse, Yukon on a bike like yours, rode it from Key West...


So I emailed back:

"Holy sh*t! What were you doing in Yukon? I think you ran into Chiaroscuro on my forum!!!

MP3 500 to Alaska

And he replied back:

"Yep, I do believe that was him! Timing was right, we were on the way home and he was on the way up! Hit the forum and tell him you work with the guy with the BIG sidecar he saw in Whitehorse (where he got the last room at the Best Western Motel, we ended up in another hotel that was FULL of motorrcycle folks and a couple of overwhelmed old folks)."

Small world!
Small world is right. I was unloading on the street as he walked up with his son. Great guy. Yeah, sorry about the room I really enjoyed it.
BLACK mp3 500
Joined: 19 Oct 2008
Posts: 16
Location: florence al
Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:01 pm quote
would love to have a update on the cost of everything ...
love the story , need to publish it
MP3 500, Kawasaki Versys, KLX250S, Buddy 150 Pamplona
Joined: 27 Jun 2008
Posts: 432
Location: Seattle
Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:17 pm quote
I'm waiting with baited breath for the Dempster story. Like you I read ride reports on advrider and over there they make it sound like the last great wilderness on earth, only to be tackled by hairy men on large BMW or KTM's. Can't believe you are tackling it on an MP3 with street tires.
Here's hoping you had a dry run as muddy roads are the last thing I would want to tackle on this scoot. Gravel roads are not a problem, washboard roads are a pain but mud and hills scare me.

Going by the date of the story and when you are posting it at least you are still alive. I'm hoping you made it safely without incident
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:38 pm quote
jbama wrote:
would love to have a update on the cost of everything ...
love the story , need to publish it
COST? Wholly crap a small fortune! I'm staying in hotels. Chain hotels for the most part. High of over $200+ to $69 a night. And let me tell you there are few cheap hotels in Alaska or Canada. Most were toward the high cost.

This is insane, I'm weeks overdue getting back. I didn't meet the woman of my dreams, I did see her a few times though. I was planning on taking the entire summer off but I'm actually looking at job postings.

Cost? Insane.

Camping would have saved some money but I get cranky when I camp alone...put the tent up, take the tent down, cook, clean, lay on the ground and try and sleep with this SUN THAT NEVERS SEEMS TO GO DOWN.
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:58 pm quote
alba wrote:
I'm waiting with baited breath for the Dempster story. Like you I read ride reports on advrider and over there they make it sound like the last great wilderness on earth, only to be tackled by hairy men on large BMW or KTM's. Can't believe you are tackling it on an MP3 with street tires.
Here's hoping you had a dry run as muddy roads are the last thing I would want to tackle on this scoot. Gravel roads are not a problem, washboard roads are a pain but mud and hills scare me.

Going by the date of the story and when you are posting it at least you are still alive. I'm hoping you made it safely without incident
Alba, never bait your breath. It is so unbecoming.

Hair, yes I had a chest weave done in Dawson City right before leaving.

Since you asked I'll give you a peek but don't share with anyone....anyone.

As I stand here on the verdant plain thrust back, it seems, a million years in time the sun is blinding me. It's 0330 yet that damn thing is still hovering above the horizon. Is it broke?

After a journey of not just days and miles but of the heart that would break most men I have arrived. Tired, weak and most definitely hung over yet my spirit is soaring as I view this timeless plain through a blinding headache that four spicy Bloody Mary's and a 12-pack of Bud Light Lime couldn't touch.

But for the McDonald's wrappers, three empty Trojan wrappers (non-ribbed, not mine) and the empty bottle of KU:L Vodka (mine) tumbling in the wind I would think that I was the first white man to look upon this wonder of nature. Of course, the tour bus full of cranky German tourists doesn't help the illusion. But I'm running with it.

It's has been a painful journey but one I had been looking forward to for years ever since I saw that special on 'The Arctic Circle' on HBO. It not TV it's HBO.

The circle, where did it come from? Man's ancestor? An alien race, perhaps the Scientologists may know something about this but I've never heard Tom Cruise speak of the 'arctic circle'. How long has it been here? Who first discovered it? And finally where is it because I don't see it, anywhere.

I've come to get the answers to this and much more. However, standing here in the howling wind with my native Tsímsyan guides who have been by my side for days tutoring me in the ways of ancient Canada I'm beginning to wonder if this journey has been but a folly of the heart.

Actually they're not my guides but a couple of guys I hooked up with a few days ago in Dawson City at a wet t-shirt contest after the Miss Dawson City pageant. U'lon-R'winerb, you were stunning in those stone-washed jeans.

We shared a few 'Canadian Jell-O Shots', which is very similar to a Key West Jell-O Shot except your drinking it off the shaved belly of a Canadian Husky specially trained not to flinch from the Jell-O. Do not try this at Petsmart as it could be incredibly embarrassing to you, the husky, the husky's owner and the manager of Petsmart. Sounds gross but the drinks go down pretty smoothly. Quite smoothly. And he was friendly dog. This is the Yukon after all. When in Rome...

And they're not by my side but following me in a '78 Ford F-150 with straight pipes that tends to scare off any wildlife for miles. I think earlier today we may have set off the annual reindeer migration a few weeks early as the truck was really backfiring as we rolled over the Richardson Pass. Sound really travels out here. My apologies to the TU'Gqiany tribe who depend upon these reindeer for their livelihood. Perhaps next year will be better for you as I hope to be in Costa Rica.

I also think one or both of my 'guides' are on the run from the law but I never bring it up. And since they only speak in grunts, whistles and clicks it makes for a difficult time during the tutoring phase of our relationship.

The miles have gone slowly as I faced adversity after...

Or perhaps, Alba, there is another story?

It's a long way to anything.

It's THAT remote.

Molto Verboso
Burgman 650 (May, 2012) MP3 500 (11/2009 - 5.2012)
Joined: 19 Feb 2009
Posts: 1385
Location: Massachusetts- Boston South Shore
Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:07 am quote
I'm in awe of your trip..
Any problems with the MP3? This is certainly a strong test for it..
2010 Mana GT, Former MP3 250
Joined: 25 Aug 2009
Posts: 41
Location: Orange County, CA
Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:58 am quote
Your pictures are stunning - National Geographic caliber. What kind of camera are you using and what special techniques are you using, if any? Also, any type of post processing? Thanks!
Veni, Vidi, Posti
RIP: MP3 500 - Brutto Moto
Joined: 10 Jun 2008
Posts: 5278
Location: Austin, TX
Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:25 am quote
Re: Camera?
Ward22 wrote:
Your pictures are stunning - National Geographic caliber. What kind of camera are you using and what special techniques are you using, if any? Also, any type of post processing? Thanks!
Just as a guess he's using the Topaz Adjust filter to get a pseudo-HDR look.
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:48 am quote
Re: Camera?
Ward22 wrote:
Your pictures are stunning - National Geographic caliber. What kind of camera are you using and what special techniques are you using, if any? Also, any type of post processing? Thanks!
Occasionally Topaz Adjust as noted but quite a few of them are true HDR. I'm hand holding the camera and taking multiple pictures at different exposures and then running them through Photomatix.

It's been so over cast otherwise it is almost impossible to bring out any details or highlights.

I'm not a big fan of 'high HDR' photos but sometimes that's the only way to get a photo that is acceptable. In most of them you'll notice that they have low clouds which have made for some pretty awful shots until they are run through Topaz, CS5 or Photomatix. Most of the shots made in the Casssiar are almost unusable because of the weather.

Oh, I'm using an old Canon G9 hand held for the most part. I have a fulll size Nikon DSLR (an old one) that I have been lugging around but I have yet to use it once.

As shot in camera. Low clouds, flat light. I had to combine this with 2 other exposures to get something acceptable.

As shot in camera. I'll just knock out the shadows a bit with CS5. Lots of light, great blue sky, green grass. Who wouldn't want to shoot on a day like this?

Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:55 am quote
noth wrote:
I'm in awe of your trip..
Any problems with the MP3? This is certainly a strong test for it..
None other than some tire problems that I'll highlight in a later post. And that really is not an MP3 issue.
2010 Mana GT, Former MP3 250
Joined: 25 Aug 2009
Posts: 41
Location: Orange County, CA
Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:08 pm quote
Re: Camera?
Chiaroscuro wrote:
Ward22 wrote:
Your pictures are stunning - National Geographic caliber. What kind of camera are you using and what special techniques are you using, if any? Also, any type of post processing? Thanks!
Occasionally Topaz Adjust as noted but quite a few of them are true HDR. I'm hand holding the camera and taking multiple pictures at different exposures and then running them through Photomatix.

It's been so over cast otherwise it is almost impossible to bring out any details or highlights.

I'm not a big fan of 'high HDR' photos but sometimes that's the only way to get a photo that is acceptable. In most of them you'll notice that they have low clouds which have made for some pretty awful shots until they are run through Topaz, CS5 or Photomatix. Most of the shots made in the Casssiar are almost unusable because of the weather.

Oh, I'm using an old Canon G9 hand held for the most part. I have a fulll size Nikon DSLR (an old one) that I have been lugging around but I have yet to use it once.
Your photos do indeed have the HDR Hi-res look, but I didn't think you would have the time to do all that post processing with Photomax. Just a thought .. . maybe less Photomax would = more women? Anyway, your photos are stunning, keep up the great work - and ride safely.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
RIP: MP3 500 - Brutto Moto
Joined: 10 Jun 2008
Posts: 5278
Location: Austin, TX
Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:19 pm quote
Re: Camera?
Chiaroscuro wrote:
Oh, I'm using an old Canon G9 hand held for the most part. I have a fulll size Nikon DSLR (an old one) that I have been lugging around but I have yet to use it once.
The G9 is eminently capable all by it's lonesome. I got a S90 for Christmas which uses the same sensor and processing as the G11 which was a throwback in some ways to the G9. The G10 - shall we say Canon lost their way?
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:08 pm quote
The Dempster Run.
Note to self: Never, ever start a ride with only a candy bar and a 16 oz bottle of water on what is deemed one of the most demanding roads in North America. Also stop for breakfast.

I had a very hard time getting to sleep. The 'Inn" has no blackout curtains and I find it difficult to sleep when the room is lit like there is a twin four-foot fluorescent light 6 inches above the bed at 0200.

Cleanly shaven and my breath minty fresh I leave late. Who says you have to leave early for adventures in northern Canada? Out on 2 from town (also known as the Klondike Highway) I head to the Klondike River Lodge which is the start of the Dempster.

Last night I bought an extra gas can that holds just over a gallon US. I had gone back over the figures in my mind (maybe I shouldn't do that) and felt I needed a little more fuel. If I'm going to do this full time on my own reality TV show I need to get a calculator or at least an assistant with a math degree.

Stopping at the Klondike River Lodge I topped off the tank as it was about 25 miles from Dawson City. I also bought a candy bar completely forgetting that it would be a long time until I could get a meal. I had water bottle left over from a few days ago in one of the saddle bags.

Let me make this clear; I started the Dempster with a candy bar (1) and a 16 oz bottle of water (1). But I wouldn't have been shocked if there was no water as I didn't do an inventory prior to making the turn from the parking lot of the Klondike on to the Dempster.

At the lodge you turn out onto 5, the Dempster Highway. While getting gas I noticed three BMW 1200GSAs over by the sign at the beginning of the highway. They were gone when I went back to pump after paying for my gas. I'm sure they were scared off by the roads reputation.

With much trepidation I crossed the Klondike River. No really, I was a bit nervous. Would the Eagle Plains Hotel have WiFi, Bud Light Lime, a washer and dryer? I mean I was in serious territory here.

There are signs warning of 'no emergency services', 'next services' (fuel and rib-eye steaks) for 370 km - a long, long way. I laughed like a little girl as I passed them.

It was cool so I had on my poly-pro long johns, and most of my fleece. It looked like it was going to rain at any minute. And as I've heard the Dempster is a mess when wet.

For the first 3 miles or so you're on pavement. Very deceptive as you're probably thinking "Hey maybe they paved this Dempster to Inuvik since I last looked at" and no one reported it. Wrong. You soon run into dirt, gravel and if you're really unlucky ankle deep mud.

The road was rough with many small potholes. It had rained last night so the road was slick as well. Early on I was riding on a deep gravel road bed that sits fairly high off the 'ground'. In other words if you fall off the road it's quite a long way to the ground. For quite a few miles the sides are steep drop offs probably 15 feet in height. The gravel along the road edges, right before you drop the 15 feet, looks soft; deep mushy soft. I didn't test it I just took my senses at their word with no debate.

The road itself was surprisingly in good shape. It was difficult at times to find a clean line. I found myself all over the road for the first couple of hours. Sometimes running on the left side of the road for several miles at a time because of gravel build up or the fact I could see for miles and no one was the other lane.

But running on the left side is not recommended on a slick road with blind turns. Some of the turns have an inside camber so as you're fighting to climb out, back to the right, you're wondering if something is hurtling around that corner at you.

I had very few close calls on the turns. A few, but not many. I was taking my time as I didn't want to go down or become a grill ornament.

The wind picked up a bit early on but a lot of it was blocked by the trees it wasn't that bad. There were lots of varied vegetation and trees as well as some small ponds from run offs that lined large parts of the road especially at the start.

At about 45 Km you enter the Olgvie Mountains and will shortly come up on the Interpretive Center on your left. The buildings look brand new and they were still working on the road leading into it as well as the parking lot. I didn't stop because I knew I had many hours of riding in front of me.

After the center you begin a short climb with some switch backs. The views are getting better and better. You're entering North Fork Pass and the trees seem to fall off and open up to an area predominately of tundra. Here you'll cross what is advertised as the highest point on the Dempster Highway. It didn't seem like it as some later climbs felt much higher.

It's not too long that Two Moose Lake is on your left. I saw a couple fishing when I went by. Sadly, no moose. In fact all I would see today was one Marmot, a field mouse, a hawk and a Swedish helicopter pilot.

The next summit is Windy Pass Summit. The 'word on the street' is that this area hasn't changed much in the last 100,000 years (which is about how long it seems it take to get to Eagle Plains). This area is amazing. You're looking out at areas that have probably never been trod by man before.

Further on you cross the Jeckell Bridge which spans the Ogilvie River. The road continues to climb from here. It feels like you are higher than North Fork Pass by now but apparently not. Again you get some great views from the road. Montana may have a lock on 'Big Sky Country' but I think that the Yukon could give them a run for their money. I so wished the sun was out more but even overcast it was beautiful.

Stopping sometimes I was mesmerized by just how far I could see. I call it looking back into history. You're looking, at times, over a plain that is so vast and broad you wonder could one man even traverse it in a lifetime.

I stopped at the Ogilvie-Peel viewpoint and put in fuel from one of the cans. I realized by now that I didn't need to bring the second extra can. Usually the low fuel light comes on at about 115 to mid 120 miles but with the low speeds it did not come on until 160 miles! The 1 gallon was plenty for the run into Eagle Plains.

I ate my candy bar and drank all my water here. I'm not ashamed to say that I dropped a piece of the candy bar on the ground and I didn't hesitate to pick it up, blow off the dirt and pop it in my mouth. I was that hungry.

For most of the day the clouds were intermittent with the sun shining on occasion. The temperatures for the trip varied from low 40s to high 50s. Cool to cold.

The view from Ogilvie-Peel was spectacular even with the overcast lighting. To the north, the plateau stretches 300 km to the British Mountains and the coastal plain off the Beaufort Sea. This apparently was the area that oil was discovered and in turn created a need for the Dempster highway.

From here I figured I had about 90 minutes of riding at the speeds I was going. The road conditions were consistent with a few areas being markedly different from the others but the entire road was excellent on this day.

I passed a few graders either laying out new gravel/soil or turning over the road to smooth it out. These areas were soft causing me to slow further. I was being very cautious on this run. This road has this reputation as being very difficult and I didn't want to throw caution to the wind quite yet.

From the Ogilvie-Peel viewpoint which is pretty high above the valley you are now travelling on the Eagle Plains. It's not a plains but more of a ridge line.

When you finally get to the Eagle Plains complex it is very unassuming with a gas and repair station as well as a landing area/refueling stop for helicopters. I was expecting a brass band and balloons.

I pulled in 9 hours after starting. Yeah, nine hours, one dirty candy bar and 16 ounces of water. I was beat. Looking back I could have pushed it more but this was the first long run on gravel and there were many slick surfaces. Also, that thing about no emergency services for essentially hundreds of miles was on my mind.

I passed two airstrips on the way to Eagle Plains. They seemed to be positioned about 1/3rd and 2/3rds of the way to Eagle Plains. At the first one there was a small bush plane parked and at the second I saw no activity.

I checked in, checked the room. I'm sure that nothing has changed here since the place was built in the 70s. Wait they have Wi-Fi which I'm sure came after the 70s. The room had semi-blackout curtains so I was happy. And a bed.

I ate dinner as soon and as quickly as I could as I was planning continuing on the Arctic Circle today. I had the rib-eye special. The meal was fantastic.

And so was the eye-popping helicopter pilot I saw eating in the dining hall as well. Oh my god, where's the charter desk I'm booking the helicopter for the entire next week. I'm not sure what language she was speaking but to me it was the 'Language of Love'. Of course all I had in the past 9 hours was that candy bar and a bottle of water which may have played a special role in the excellence of the meal and the beauty of the pilot.

I fueled up after the meal and headed on to the Arctic Circle. The clouds were breaking up and more and more of the sun was out.

You drop down from Eagle Plains towards Eagle River. On the way there is a sign warning that the road may be used as an 'Emergency Runway at Anytime'. Cool. A little further on the road is marked with a wind sock and cones for use as a 'roadwayrunway'. I searched the skies but saw no planes.

Down to the Eagle River and you cross it on a small trestle bridge and then back up and out of this small valley. When you get back up out of the valley I can't emphasize enough about how grand the views are. This is big country!

bit later you make a long weeping turn and the road begins to drop away and in the distance you can see a brown smudge; a marker. That marker is the Arctic Circle. I had made it.

Dropping down a mile or so and I was there. A few photos, a short chat about the scooter with a group that pulled up and then back to Eagle Plains.

I had a few beers in the bar, which closes at 1100 so time your trip accordingly. Then to bed.

A bit anti-climatic, eh?

I'll admit I had some trepidation about it but I can't see this road being out of reach for many riders. True, I was turning around at Eagle Plains and would not go on to Inuvik. I really wanted to go to Inuvik but I needed new front tires and I didn't think they were going to last long enough to get me to Inuvik, back to Dawson city and then to Anchorage.

To turn around was a decision made by me not by the shortcomings of the scooter. I should have gotten new front tires when I had the rear tire done in Seattle. If I had done that I'm sure I would have continued on.

I hate turning around but this place is huge, incredibly huge and it made quite an impression on me. Mistakes here hurt.

I'm sure someone will chime in and say "...well the REAL Dempster doesn't start until AFTER the Arctic Circle. You need to know the secret handshake to go on."

Ok, I'm fine with that. I got off a plane from Iraq, bought a scooter, rode it a few miles, threw some tools in a pannier, strapped a 'freakin' large roller duffle bag on the back and rode from Key West to the Arctic Circle. I won't hang my head in shame over that.

I was passed by 10 cars outbound and 3-4 inbound. I was passed by 5 big trucks outbound and 4 inbound. This is a big place, tread lightly as you are on your own. Oh, pack a lunch.

Let's just get right down to business. The ARCTIC CIRCLE on an MP3 500!

Another one. Do I look fat in this one?

Fuel stop and candy bar stop.

It's really big here.

Follow the road. That little brown spot is the Arctic Circle.

Give credit where credit is due.

You fall, it hurts for a long time.

There is no one out here for miles and hours.

I call this looking back a million years.

My photos don't due this place justice.

Very few, if any, have walked across this plain.

You're on your own here. Be prepared.

This is what you see when you climb out from the Interpertive Center.

This is very early on.

This is some sort of an artifact left by prehistoric people who roamed this area. Perhaps an altar? There were no interpertive signs here.

Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
Veni, Vidi, Posti
Neutrino MP3 492.7 AK, 2013 Moto Guzzi Norge
Joined: 29 Mar 2008
Posts: 21762
Location: Harriman, Tennessee, Tn
Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:28 pm quote
congrats on making the circle. what is your total mileage to this point? The pics are great and the story lines are perfect.
Molto Verboso
MP3 500 08
Joined: 08 Aug 2009
Posts: 1560
Location: Toms River area, New Jersey
Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:07 am quote
More fun if you did have at least another bike with you! At least seeing a few vehicles, u had some "safe feeling of help", it worse happened. Maybe a flare gun would be a good item to pack? Ashame the tires stopped the trip, but u did accomplish one heck of a trip. Gratz on all the reviews also, extremely nice, now go get it published in a pamphlet! "Keys to the frost kingdom".
2008 150 LXV Portofino Green!!!!
Joined: 10 Oct 2009
Posts: 464
Location: southern NJ
Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:11 am quote
wow....all i can say is wow...

the pics are breathtaking....i love reading your posts....

Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 291

Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:20 pm quote
...the return from Eagle Plains.


Mp3 500
Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 2320
Location: Denver Colorado
Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:15 am quote
A big congrats on the freakin artic circle!! It takes some nerves to go where you are way way way far from the next Piaggio mechanic and service center.. Proud of you, and the bike, for making the trip. Will be tuned in for the return.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
Joined: 19 Oct 2005
Posts: 5391
Location: Puyallup, WA
Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:35 am quote
Awesome, just awesome.
El Macho
KTM Super Duke 1290, Vespa GTS 300
Joined: 27 Oct 2006
Posts: 9022
Location: Belfast Metropolitan Area
Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:54 am quote
I agree. I've followed this all the way through. Fantastic.
09 MP3 500cc Reddevil, 2011 LX150 IE (Wifes) 2019 MP3 500cc Sport Nightrider (Mine)
Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 353
Location: Colorado Springs CO
Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:25 pm quote
I love your pictures & stories keep them coming. It really gives me some ideas of what to do next year. I would like to take off & tour Colorado on the back roads with my Reddevil it been a really good bike if I just don't hit the lock button switch when the wheels are turned.
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