The current Alaska itinerary

I think that the route to Alaska is now settled.  For the past several years, I have adjusted it regularly to accommodate new items of interest to me.  Of course it seems like every month I have to do a complete readjustment to squeeze in  another stop or two into what most likely be my only trip up that way.  With only 24 days available, there just is not enough time to go every place I want…so some sacrifices have had to be made but I am hoping that the stops that have survived my cuts so far will be well worth the adjustments.

So, here’s what I have up to now:

Day 1: Leave home, arrive in Sioux City, IA.  692 miles, about 10.25 ride hours.

Day 2: Sioux City, IA to Billings, MT.  743 miles, 11 ride hours.  Go via US-212 in SD/MT.

Day 3: Billings, MT to Cranbrook, BC.  585 miles, 9.5 ride hours.  Cross into Canada near Eureka, MT.

Day 4: Cranbrook, BC to Grand Prairie, AB.  559 miles, 11.5 ride hours.  Ride the Icefields Parksway and Yellowhead Highway.

Day 5: Grand Prairie, AB to Liard Hot Springs, BC.  552 miles, 11 ride hours.   This day I reach the Alaska Highway.

Day 6: Liard Hot Springs, BC to Whitehorse, YT.  402 miles, 8.75 ride hours.  Visit the Signpost Forest.

Day 7: Whitehorse, YT to Dawson, YT.  331 miles, 8 ride hours.  Ride Klondike Highay, visit the Dempster, and arrive in Dawson on opening day of Dust 2 Dawson international event.

Day 8: Dawson, YT to Fairbanks, AK.  378 miles, 8.75 ride hours.  Ride Top of the World Highway.  Cross in Alaska.

Day 9: Day off in Fairbanks.  Do tire swap, oil change, replenish supplies.  May visit North Pole, Alaska.

Day 10: Fairbanks, AK to Coldfoot, AK.  254 miles, 7 ride hours.  Visit Arctic Circle sign (bucket list item), visit Coldfoot Interagency BLM.  May merge next day into this, or stay there and come back next day as shown on next entry.  Weather and roads notoriously bad up there, will play by ear.

Day 11: Coldfoot, AK to Fairbanks, AK.  254 miles, 7 ride hours.

Day 12: Fairbanks, AK to Valdez, AK.  363 miles, 7.5 ride hours.  Ride the Richardson.  Considered doing the Parks Highway and trying to see Denali…but chances are weather will not be good enough to see it.

Day 13: Valdez, AK to Haines Junction, YT.  544 miles, 11.25 ride hours.  This leg is supposed to be one of the prettiest in the world to ride.

>Day 14: Haines Junction, YT to Whitehorse, YT via Alaska.  277 miles, 8 ride hours, 1.5 ferry hours.  Drop down to Haines, take the ferry to Skagway, and ride another famous route.

Day 15: Whitehorse, YT to Dease Lake, BC.  405 miles, 9 ride hours.  Ride the Cassiar Highway.

Day 16: Dease Lake, BC to Hyder, AK.  247 miles, 6 ride hours.  Hyder is next to Stewart, BC where I will be staying the night.

Day 17: Visit Salmon Glacier.  Easy day about 40 miles.  Do more bike maintenance.

Day 18: Hyder, AK to Prince George, BC.  437 miles, 9.5 ride hours.  Focus now is getting home.

Day 19: Prince George, BC to Calgary, AB.  487 miles, 10 ride hours.  Yellowhead Highway and another trip down Icefields Parkway, rated one of the top two roads in the world.

Day 20: Calgary, AB to Estevan, SK.  571 miles, 10 ride hours.

Day 21: Estevean, SK to Saint Cloud, MN.  571 miles again, 9 ride hours.  Going by way of Manitoba.

Day 22: Saint Cloud, MN to LaSalle, IL.  465 miles, 7 ride hours.  Through Minneapolis but way west of Chicago.

Day 23: LaSalle, IL to home.  Around 270 miles, 4 ride hours.  Easy day.

Day 24: Extra Day.

And a map to pull it together. Disregard all the numbers…I’m using a motorcycle routing software program known as Tyre that does a great job and is providing me information that doesn’t mean much to any person not going on the actual ride.  And, map shows going down the Parks Highway by Denali at the bottom left part of the route in Alaska.  Forgot to change it to be riding the Richardson which is pretty much straight south from Fairbanks down to Valdez which is on the Gulf of Alaska.

So, there you have it.  I show 9,424 miles for this journey.  Of course, it will probably change a dozen more times…but with only 140 days before departure, I am pretty sure it is getting close to being locked down.

Alaska book reading in the tropical sand

While working on absorbing as many sun rays as I could while laying on the beautiful clean sands of the Dominican Republic, I had brought along a few books to read while I found nirvana in eighty-five degree heat.  At home, life constantly gets in the way…family, work, and about six other major things I am working on to secure a decent retirement.  The life interruptions just constantly prevent me from sitting down and reading a book cover to cover.  To me , that is bliss…quiet enjoyment expanding my knowledge while life goes on without me for a few hours.

One of the books I read (twice!), while listening to the waves crashing onto the shore repeatedly as the best background noise in the world, was The Adventurous Motorcyclist’s Guide to Alaska, by Lee Klancher and Phil Freeman.  I had heard a number of good things about this book, which appears to be true since it’s nearly impossible to find it on the secondary used market.  I expended the required Jackson note plus an additional Lincoln to get it sent to me to take on this beach adventure, threw it in my backpack for the plane ride south, and forced myself to wait until the second day on the beach when all I wanted to do was read, sleep, and try out the local fruity beverages.

There’s some great reviews of the book out there in the world already and no sense in my wasting time repeating tons of information that can already be easily found online from other readers.  What I would like to add to those reviews is my agreement that it is a much recommended book for not only those interested in riding a motorcycle to Alaska, but for anybody making the journey by other means.

Not only does the authors detail information about each of the major highways in Alaska as well as NW Canada, they cover some great recommendations of local diners to eat at, places to camp and motel, and sites to see.  They even give specific information on finding the correct turns off the main roads to get to some of the glaciers as well as other hidden sites to see.  My bike will be fully packed for the trip to Alaska in June but I’ll be sure to find a digital copy of this book to take along with the digital copy of The Milepost, the bible of going to Alaska.  I had a notebook full of notes before reading this…even with all I already knew, I added a couple more pages filled up with reminders of places I should check out whenever I get up there.

I even reached out to Lee Klancher when I got back from vacation since I enjoyed this easy reading literature.  I think it is important to let authors know when you appreciate their work, and Lee was very receptive to my thoughts.  From our discussions, he ascertained that I had wanted his newest version of the book but was unable to get it delivered in time for my departure.  Lee took my address and in a week I had the latest version in my mailbox!  The newest version is nearly identical…there’s a little book association emblem on the cover and inside Lee and Phil updated the content to bring it from 2012 info to a September 2014 update of what things have changed since the original publication.

So, even if you already have this book, grab the latest version.  Especially, if like me, you find yourself headed to the Last Frontier this year.  This book was very interesting to read and I didn’t put it down once I started it.  It’s easy to hold in one hand when you are slamming down pina coladas too.