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Old 07-28-2013, 08:46 PM   #41
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Re: TWOLOST: Southeast Alaska; July, 2013 - (in progress)


Thanks again, everyone.

I will get to all of the questions in the next couple of days (sorry for the delay). I have three weeks worth of everything to get caught back up on and I only seem to get moments to work on this reporting stuff rather than the larger blocks of time it really requires to get it done right away.

Cheers,


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Old 07-28-2013, 09:04 PM   #42
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July, 18; Ketchikan, AK (USA)



Date (day): July, 18 (Day 19)
Source: Ketchikan, Alaska (USA)
Destination: Same
Travel Miles: tbd
Resources: Ketchikan Map (*.pdf)

Daily Note(s):
-------------------------------------------------
  • Today, we decided to do a little exploring on the main road south of the city of Ketchikan. We followed the paved road out to the power station near the end of the road. Not much out there other than a small waterfall.[/*:m:1gepuyyx]
  • We also discovered Rotary Park and that was a big win for us. It had restrooms, a play set, a man-made tide pool, and plenty of interesting beach to explore. Cruise ship after cruise ship would pass just off of the beach. [/*:m:1gepuyyx]
  • We went back into Ketchikan for lunch and found an amazing private yacht that had been moored for a while, leaving. It was called the Vibrant Curiosity. Quite an amazing craft.[/*:m:1gepuyyx]
  • We ended up having lunch in a vacant lot high above the 'newtown' part of the city.[/*:m:1gepuyyx]
  • We also drove around in the 'park district' (which was very scenic) and we managed to find our way up a very steep and winding hill to the solid waste plant.[/*:m:1gepuyyx]
  • I dont recall why, but we decided to drive south out to the fish hatchery. Here, I was able to snap a few quick images of some of the many eagles feeding on returning salmon.[/*:m:1gepuyyx]
  • While we were out at this part of the island, we also found a perfect house right on the water for us (for sale). I certainly dont have the $450K it would take to purchase this place... but it is still fun to dream a little.[/*:m:1gepuyyx]
  • The day was coming to and end and it was time to retire back to the Best Western for some R&R.[/*:m:1gepuyyx]




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Public parks saved us as they allowed our daughter to burn off LOTS of energy.

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Playset at Rotary Beach, 20 minutes south of Ketchikan.

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Viewing cruise ships from Rotary Beach.

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Size and scale still just amaze me.

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This is what Ketchikan looks like when it is empty (only of of five cruise ships at the dock).

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100 million might get you this, the Vibrant Curiosity (the 60th largest private yacht in the world).

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Having lunch in the van with a view of Ketchikan below.

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Old 07-28-2013, 09:13 PM   #43
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July, 19; Ketchikan, AK (USA) to Prince Rupert, BC (CAN)


Date (day): July, 19 (Day 20)
Source: Ketchikan, Alaska (USA)
Destination: Prince Rupert, British Columbia (CAN)
Travel Miles: Travel by ferry
Resources:

Daily Note(s):
-------------------------------------------------
  • I woke up before everyone else (5:30am) and decided to drive south and out to the Whitman Lake Fish Hatchery at Herring Cove to see if I could photograph a few eagles and/or bears like we had seen the night before.[/*:m:1ejcpof5]
  • Near the hatchery, there was not really any 'open' parking available. Nobody was around, there was just no place to park. It looked like parking at any of the official observation points was not allowed for the general public (i.e. those not affiliated with a tour operator or business). As such, the best I could do was park on the narrow shoulder of the main road.[/*:m:1ejcpof5]
  • After parking, I got out and setup my long range camera gear and tripod just behind a guard rail and next to an electrical pole. After spending a motionless quiet hour, I was able to pick up on some of the dynamics that were going on in the animal kingdom. I spotted an active eagles nest with two young fledglings managed by a pair of attentive adults. I also watched a black bear scout-out fishing opportunities as well as do its best to avoid any humans. The four fishermen that were just walking back to their vehicle did not even know the bear was less than 30 feet away from them, carefully watching them. Even a tour operator showed up with a dozen clients who were all gawking at the salmon in the creek from the high on the bridge and listening to the tour operators spiel about the lifecycle of salmon. Amazingly enough, no one spotted the black bear that was in the shadows only ten feet below where they were standing. At some point the bear decided to move-on and its exit strategy took it right by where I was setup. I was the one motionless object that the bear did not account for. As it started for me, I disconnected my camera from the tripod and stepped back about twenty feet into the middle of the road. I waited for the bear to successfully make its exit before going back to my perch. There were wet footprints on the rocks just in front of my tripod. Once the tour operators started to regularly show up (every five minutes)... I decided to call it a morning. Amazing what you can see when you just slow down a little and look around. I am sure that the tourist traveled a very long way and spent top dollar just to see a few small salmon swimming in the creek below. The reality was that they could have seen so much more. It was all sitting right there... looking back at them.[/*:m:1ejcpof5]
  • I retreated back to the hotel to pick up my two adventure buddies. After getting all cleaned up and properly storing our gear for the next leg of our trip, we decided that there were two things left to do. 1) Go back to Rotary Park and burn off some of our three year old daughters energy. 2) Get another pizza from Stone Deck Pizza (so that we had ample food for the ferry ride south). [/*:m:1ejcpof5]
  • We boarded the ferry (MV Matanuska) at 8:50pm local time and were underway by 9:15pm. Because our arrival time in Prince Rupert was to be at 2:00am, I decided to splurge for a cabin on this leg so that we could all get a better night sleep before our next 520 mile push.[/*:m:1ejcpof5]
  • I think that I was asleep in our stateroom before Ketchikan disappeared over the aft deck.[/*:m:1ejcpof5]



Golden Eagle.

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Bald Eagle chick (one of two in this nest).

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Feeding time.

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Fuzz ball.

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The whole family. Two chicks, one parent in the nest and the other parent delivering more moss.

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Wild black bear looking for a good fishing spot.

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In line at Alaska Marine ferry dock... waiting for our ride south.

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Boarding the MV Matanuska.

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Picking up the keys to our cabin for this leg of the trip.

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Goodbye Ketchikan.

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Goodbye Alaska.

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Old 07-28-2013, 10:15 PM   #44
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July, 20; Prince Rupert, BC (CAN) to Quesnel, BC (CAN)


Date (day): July, 20 (Day 21)
Source: Prince Rupert, British Columbia (CAN)
Destination: Quesnel, British Columbia (CAN)
Travel Miles: 520
Resources: Best Western Tower Inn

Daily Note(s):
-------------------------------------------------
  • Ferry arrived at Prince Rupert on schedule @ around 2:00am.[/*:m:1rtz686p]
  • It was all we could do to get our daughter down to the car deck and into our van.[/*:m:1rtz686p]
  • While driving off of the ferry, I noticed that one of the workers that was guiding traffic into the appropriate customs lines was the same guy I had been talking to when we were headed north at the beginning of our trip. I said "hello again". The worker said, "hello, I remember you! How was your trip?" He then guided us to line #3. Line #1 already had a number of passenger cars and motorcycles waiting in line. Line #4 had a dozen RVs waiting in line and the customs agent was deep inside the first RV. Line #3 was empty, and then it merged with line #4. We drove all of the way to the front of the line... and merged. After a lengthy investigation of the first RV, we then pull up to the border guard. He asks us a couple of quick questions as he stares at the van. With kind of a puzzled look, he just said "oh, go ahead" and waved us through. We even beat the first few motorcyclists out customs.[/*:m:1rtz686p]
  • The first couple of hours of driving were in pitch black darkness.[/*:m:1rtz686p]
  • Our destination on this leg of the trip was the Best Western; Tower Inn in Quesnel.[/*:m:1rtz686p]

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Old 07-28-2013, 10:23 PM   #45
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July, 21; Quesnel, BC (CAN) to North Bend, WA (USA)



Date (day): July, 21 (Day 22)
Source: Quesnel, British Columbia (CAN)
Destination: North Bend, WA (USA)
Travel Miles: 500
Resources:

Daily Note(s):
-------------------------------------------------
  • We wanted to avoid as much traffic as possible, so we were up and out of our hotel by 4:45am.[/*:m:1j0h2go0]
  • Stopped at Tim Horton's for some coffee. Tim's was not open yet. We waited in the parking lot until 5:00am when they opened.[/*:m:1j0h2go0]
  • We ordered two coffees each.[/*:m:1j0h2go0]
  • The drive was uneventful, except when we got hit by a very large deer only 200 miles from home. Wouldn't you know it, the biggest most beautiful looking deer we had seen on our whole trip and this was the one that decided that its flight path had to intersect with ours. I think it happened somewhere around 100 Mile House. We were climbing a long hill at about 90KM/HR. I saw the deer in plenty of time. It was standing near the tree line and pointed away from the road. For some reason, it got startled. It spun 180 degrees and bolted straight for the road. I just remember thinking how big, beautiful, and brown/orange it looked and how muscular it was as it launched in our same direction. I had a nearly empty four lane road to work with (there was one oncoming vehicle half mile down the road). I steered the van slightly to the left (center of the road) in order to stay in front of the deer. The last thing I wanted was to have the deer hit the front of the van and go underneath one of the tires. Because the deer was so big, my fear was that the van would have leaped up off of the ground had I driven over it. Well, I successfully got the nose of the van in front of the deer which I recall as being a huge relief. Next, was the feeling of the deer impacting one of the side passenger doors - at full speed. It was like getting hit by a meteor. Luckily, both my wife and daughter were sleeping at the time. They wouldn't be sleeping any longer. Upon impact, I applied the brakes and pulled over to the side of the road. I looked back into the side view mirrors and the deer was on its back, legs up in the air, flopping around like a grounded halibut. Oh great, now I have to go figure out what to do about the injured deer in the middle of a highway. Just as I was about to get out, the deer righted itself, stood up on all four legs, and slowly walked off of the road and back into the tree-line with no visible signs of injury. Whew! I then pulled the van over to a safer location off of the road and go out to examine the damage. The impact to the door was so great that whatever infrastructure was interior to the door had stopped the door from being dented even further... to the point of nearly ripping the sheet metal. Of course there was hair and blood at the impact site as well. All in all, it could have been much worse for all involved. Fortunately, it was only 20 seconds of disbelief and surprise followed by ten minutes of down time. Hopefully, the deer just ended up with one mother of a migraine headache. I, for one, did not require any more coffee the rest of the way home.[/*:m:1j0h2go0]
  • The last obstacle of the day was going through US customs and getting back into the US. It was 20+ minute wait at the border.[/*:m:1j0h2go0]
  • We arrived back home, safe and sound, around 5:00pm.[/*:m:1j0h2go0]
  • All in all , it was another amazing trip in the books for us!!![/*:m:1j0h2go0]




Up early. Waiting for Tim's to open at 4:55am so we can get some coffee before the last 500 mile push home.

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Deer impact.

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Fraser River Canyon, tunnel.

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Home at last... around 5:00pm.


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Old 07-29-2013, 05:55 AM   #46
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Re: TWOLOST: Southeast Alaska; July, 2013 - (in progress)

Sorry that you didnt have luck with that deer collision, but fortunately damages doesn't seem to bad. Does your insurance cover damages caused by animals? In Europe, they do...
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:55 AM   #47
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Re: TWOLOST: Southeast Alaska; July, 2013 - (in progress)

Amazing trip report and pics. Thoroughly enjoyed it and now I am having some serious issues with wanderlust . Thanks!
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Old 08-04-2013, 10:50 PM   #48
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Re: TWOLOST: Southeast Alaska; July, 2013


Response(s) to questions:



Carl: Swaybar disconnect? I did not disconnect the swaybar this time as this rain ditch (and one other) were the only obstacles we encountered on this spur road. In this case, the front wheel would have never left the ground with the pins out.

Pschitt: Insurance to cover damage by deer? Not sure, still have yet to check.

littleboomer: How is the TW motorcycle mounted?

Stealing part of a response to PM that I sent out to a similar question:
Quote:
I am using a pre-cursor to the Ultimate MX Hauler (called the MotoJackRack). MJR is no longer in business. At the time they built and sold a 300lb and 400lb heavy duty motorcycle jacks. Mine is the 400lb heavy duty model. My assumption (based on their web site) is that UMXH builds very similar jacks/lifts.

The 2012 Yamaha TW200 weighs in at about 280lbs. I also carry a 1999 DS outfitted Yamaha WR400 and a 2001 Yamaha YZ426 supermoto bike in this same configuration as well. All are pretty close to the same 280lbs as the TW200.

I had to use a 5 inch hitch extension to get the MJR to clear the rear box and rear mounted spare tire. In this configuration, any of the above bikes tend to travel vertically up to six inches on bumpy roads and the bikes tend wobble horizontally about the same. This was very un-nerving. To compensate for some of this, I custom fit the hitch receivers together so that there was zero slop. I then also crafted a couple of adjustable stanchions using turnbuckles and eyebolts that connect the center of the MJR to the rear bumper (via eyebolts that are located about eighteen inches to the left and right of van center). This mod reduced some of the wobble and a little of the vertical travel. I also use tie downs that go around the fork tubes (up by the headset) and then down around the MJR platform the bike sits on. This combined with the foot peg hooks helped reduce a little more wobble. Even with all of the above, each bike still moves around more than I am really comfortable with. I have gone plenty of bumpy places and the bike has never fallen off or come in contact with the ground - but I know I can still do better.

I have also modified this setup to accept a second spare tire and a Pul-Pal spade (the combined weight is much less than any of the bikes), when I dont have a bike on the back and I feel that I need this kind of redundancy. Bonus.

As far as the van goes, I have rear airbags (usually set to 60psi), full floating rear axle, the larger Storm brake kit, and E-rated Toyo 35x12.5x17 tires. All of these add-ons help the van accept the extra weight... so far out back. Other than seeing the bike hop around in the rearview camera occassionally, I dont really notice that there is a bike there. That said, I am always cautious with approach and departure angles. The bike is pleny high enough and out of the way, but with the hitch extension, the lowest point on the MJR can drag - which puts lots of load on the rear reciever. I always approach obstacles at an angle and have never had the hitch drag doing this.

Even with the MJR in the down position, I still cannot open the spare tire/box and doors all of the way. The bike must come off for me to have clear access to the back interior of the van. Even with all of my mods, it only takes about five minutes to get the bike on and off. I tend to get a little dirty removing the bike... but it is always worth it.

As my van is all diesel, I keep a spare gas can in the van for the bikes (in the external box). Having a remote base (the van) in addition to a dingy (the motorcycle) is awesome. You can really cover a lot of diverse terrain that cannot be accessed otherwise.

Lastly, both the MJR and UMXH use a simple bottle jack as the means to lift the bike. The chrome shaft on the bottle jack gets pretty rusty and pitted in a hurry (at least up here in Seattle in the rain). I can help slow this down by oiling the shaft with 30wt and then wrapping some cellophane around the shaft as kind of a disposable shield.
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Old 08-04-2013, 10:52 PM   #49
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Re: TWOLOST: Southeast Alaska; July, 2013


Thanks again everyone. I personally could not recommend exploring southeast Alaska enough. My wife enjoyed it so much that she is basically ready to move there, today. My daughter keeps asking me “when we can go back?” Sure, mainland Alaska has larger animals walking around (Brown Bear, Muskox, Caribou...) but SE Alaska hands-down beats mainland Alaska with respect to its amazing network of accessible gravel roads.

If you are curious to find out what is at the end of 'that' road... then POW is the place to go. If you want to camp in isolation high above active fishing grounds... then there are at least three amazing spots on Wrangell Island that are ready for you. Wrangell is also the closest to the Anan Bear & Wildlife Observatory if world class bear viewing is on your bucket list. If you want to explore with views of Frederick Sound, Dry Strait, and watch icebergs exit La Conte Glacier then Petersburg may be your best option. Even Ketchikan with its thousands upon thousands of tourists still has a few secrets (like driving up Brown Mountain or whale watching along the Tongass Narrows).

Because all of these locations are islands, the price of entry is higher than most locations in the lower 48 (access, fuel, food, parts, etc…). Also, outside of Ketchikan, tourism has not been perfected (aka… not so contrived). Expect (and enjoy) an experience that is more genuine... and less polished throughout those parts of SE Alaska not directly connected with the cruise lines.

If you seek adventure travel (with an eye toward the primitive side) then your expectations may be realized here. Example(s); The Alaskan Travel Bible (aka the Milepost) was of no use in many of the places we visited as there was no reference to the FS road we were on; Our Garmin 376C GPS loaded with United States Topo software also rarely showed the roads we were on and often gave the message “no roads near destination” when we tried to plot a course; During those times when we could connect to the Internet, Bing Maps was wrong more than it was right (it even shows the Alaska Marine Ferry traveling on the wrong side of Mitkof Island). Same was true for our local copy of MapPoint 2013. Cell phone connectivity was very limited and could not be relied on. By design, for most of the nights we spent on Prince of Wales Island we had no idea where we were even going to spend the night. Everyone’s definition of ‘adventure travel’ may be different… but for me, our SE Alaska trip came pretty close to nailing mine.


Cheers,
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