Monday, September 10, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back in the saddle

I have been riding again. Because apparently, my KLR, with it's blown form seal, saggy chain, overdue oil change, and wearing tires... Is still more reliable than my car. Which isn't running.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The data

Miles Ridden: 7,848 (that's about how much an average commuter drives in 6 months) covering 8 states and 4 provinces

Average Gas Mileage: 50.72 MPG (this impressed me, since I had about 150 lbs of non-aerodynamic gear)

Average Cost of Fuel: $4.78 per gallon (using highest octane)

Most expensive gas: $7.00 per gallon in Teslin, Yukon Territory, Canada

Total Cost of Fuel: $722.97 (a lot of that is in Canadian, but it's about $1.01 to $1.00 USD)

Average Ride: 505.87 miles per day

Most Miles in a Day: 781 (Day 2, from Brookings, South Dakota to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada)

Highest Latitude: 66 degrees 33' North (Arctic Circle) about 3,600 driving miles from home

High Temp: 106 degrees (F), outside Billings, Montana

Lowest Temp: 48 degrees (F), in heavy rain, through Denali National Park, Alaska

Shortest Night's Sleep: 3 hours in a motel in Tok, Alaska (about the same amount of time the sun was down)

Total Cost of Lodging: $716.73 while on the road 4 campsites, 9 hotels/motels (not including the 2 nights on the ferry)

Something about being on the road, getting further from home gave me wildly dynamic emotional state. Here's about how it went:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Woo hoo!

You leave on trips like this, excited to see the country, or the continent. And so I did.

And there are some stunningly beautiful places out there. But honestly, nothing quite so beautiful, as home.

No place I'd rather be.

Last Camp

As fate would have it, my last camp is the floor of a $99 Super 8 single bed non-smoking room in Rapid City, South Dakota.

I'm sleeping in a sleeping bag, so it counts as camping. And if God continues to grace us as he has been, it will be our last night before arriving home.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Caesar Salad

I have to confess, we've had a lot of burgers on our rides. When you're in a rush, on the highway, it turns out burgers are VERY EASY to find. In fact, they are hard to avoid.

So tonight, I'm happy to enjoy a fast food Caesar Salad, even if the self-proclaimed king of burgers made it himself.

Maintenance in Montana

Reiter's Kawasaki is putting on a replacement front tire for Dad. And it's a good thing. After a full row of knobs literally sheared off, it was down to being held together by only a layer of the prayers of people back home. I think mine will make it. The Mefo Explorers have been EXCELLENT tires.

We oiled our chains and plan to inspect everything major to try to reduce the risk of problems making it home, now that we feel so close.

Oh, and in case you didn't realize it, it is REALLY STINKING HOT down here in the 48. Seriously. Way too hot.


Sometimes you don't know what you're missing until you get it back. Like the PROPER road signs I noticed after crossing the border. You know, a green rounded rectangle with a nice white border and large letters.

And some things you DO notice are missing, as soon as they are taken from you. Like not having unlimited 3G service at your fingertips. Oh how good it is to be back. Where I can download an ALBUM if I want, while riding across Montana. Where I can reliably pay at the PUMP. And where I know I can buy Peanut M&M's almost ANYWHERE.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


My suspension seems to be doing ok, though I can feel the declining handling at low speeds.

The big question now is... Will our tires make it?

I elected to leave my original tires on when dad changed his rear in Anchorage. The rear is starting to get close.

Dad says his front feels lumpy at low speeds. And I think his SECOND rear is starting to get close.

We shall see.

Ride, ride, ride

That's what we're doing. On a mission (and on about 3 hours of sleep). I'm riding right now in fact. While I post this. And there's traffic. Ok just kidding we are at another A&W. A&W is a favorite of dad's from earlier days (and of mine, though I barely remember), and they are now hard to come by in the midwest. They also have free wifi. A precious commodity up here, allowing completely boring posts like this (which really only serve to let Julie and my mom know I am alive and intact (Hi Julie! Hi mom!)).

Anyway... This will most likely be our last opportunity to have one of their amazing chilled-mug aged-vanilla root beers, as we will be crossing back into the states in just a few hundred kilometers. Our 6th and final country border crossing. Pfew!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back on land

And trying to make good time. But not so much that we could skip some A&W.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A day at sea (I'm on a boat)

Fish & Chips:
Motorcycles secured in the car deck:
The cabin deck:
My sleeping quarters:
I'm pretty sure number 4 said "Life vests expire in June, 2009":
See you later, Juneau:

Brought to you by the unexpected 3G service at the port of Petersburg, Alaska.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fork Seal

Well my left fork seal is leaking badly. We've seen a lot of dirt and grit and the roads have definitely been working my front suspension for all it's worth, so I shouldn't be surprised.

There's fork oil stains along the left side of my bike, on the forward-facing side of my left pannier, and probably all over the left leg of my riding pants.

I brought a special tool to clean my seals in case of this very thing. But after double checking, it's worse than I thought. The oil is gushing out. I don't plan to take the time for a seal replacement. I cleaned it as best I could. And now I hope it doesn't cause any more serious suspension problems on the way home.

Luckily we only rode 10 miles or so here in Juneau, and have 2 days onboard the marine highway's Matanuska before I have to really start worrying.

Cruising the Marine Highway

The Alaska Marine Highway is a ferry system that transports people and vehicles across water to get to the many cities along the inside passage, that are otherwise accessible only by air. When we realized we could make it to the ferry for the weekend boat, we decided to leave and we rode hard to Haines, AK (U.S. to Canada, back to U.S. in a single day). It turns out that riding hard was a little unnecessary. Google maps and my GPS way overshot the time necessary to get there. And we were about 5 hours early. But better that, than a single minute too late.

After enjoying some leisure at the local library (read, free wifi) and a taste of the local fare, our giant ferry bat arrived. We rode into the belly of the white and blue, 8,000 horsepower beast and strapped our bikes down to the floor. After they are strapped down, we are free to go upstairs to enjoy the ride. And it's fantastic.

It's wonderful to be making progress toward home while being able to nap, drink a beer (I'm enjoying a delicious Alaskan Amber as I type this from the onboard bar), or step outside into the cold and drop our jaws at the indescribable scenery.

And while taking a bus or plane to get somewhere might detract from our motorcycle riding adventure, my dad was right about the ferry. That it only adds to our adventure. We still have our bikes underneath us (by a couple decks). We're still moving forward. To places we've never been. To things to we've never seen. And let's be real, with a bar, cafe and movie theater onboard, traveling couldn't get much better.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Back on the road

Well we're back on the road. We realized we had a chance to make the Alaskan Marine Highway ferry system if we rode through the night. It will be great to get on a boat that does the traveling for us. And I am excited to see the inside passage.

It was still hard to leave Julie. Especially earlier than I had anticipated. But I know that I am riding toward her and home.

Tonight I thank God for motels, gasoline, and Tok, Alaska, where we will sleep tonight. And by tonight, I literally mean the nighttime. 1am - 4am.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Anchorage Motorcycle Maintenance

New oil and oil filter.
Cleaned the air filter.
Replaced the chain (I couldn't trust it anymore, even though it was fairly young, at 6,500 miles).

23,633 miles on the ticker.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Day's Ride From a Bolt

A few days ago, I discovered that the vibration from riding 3000 miles apparently worked loose one of my foot peg bolts. I reached down with my foot to rest it on the peg and found it dangling, upside down, swinging on the 1 remaining bolt. I caught this in the middle of our ride from Dawson Creek to Muncho Lake. I made it work for the ride. The morning after camping at Muncho Lake, I inspected it further to realize I needed a new bolt.

To give you an idea of where we were, Muncho Lake has campsites, and a hotel/restaurant. The facility is powered by a diesel generator that burns some 10,000 gallons a month to provide the electricity. Food is shipped in twice a week from a city 600 miles away. They said that a sack of flower costs 60% more by the time it gets there (it really helped us appreciate the delicious, and expensive, meal we had in their restaurant).

Anyway, I realized that I was at least a full day's ride from anywhere that would sell me a single bolt. Luckily it wasn't too critical a bolt.

And thank you, Whitehorse (our next camp), for having a hardware store.

Muncho lake is also where my bike fell over. All the weight makes it hard to lean the bike over, because it sits low and the kickstand is so long. So I have to make sure I park on an angle. I parked next to the gas pump on a subtle angle that barely kept my bike from teetering over. Well I didn't think about it until after this incident, but I realized that my bike gains and loses 30 lbs every day... in fuel. So I filled up, walked inside to pay, and when I came back out, there was my bike, on the ground, right side luggage busted off.

My best theory is that the extra 18 lbs or so I put in the bike made it lower more, but the shock slowed it enough for me to walk inside before it got low enough to fall over. We bandaged the luggage latch (what broke), and went on our way. I realized how lucky we were for it to fall like it did. Our bikes were on opposite sides of the fuel pump. My dad was facing his bike, and without acute hearing he didn't reailze it had fallen until he turned around and saw it. Hide our bikes been next to each other, mine could have knocked him and his KLR to the ground, pinning him in between before he realized what was going on. I made it a point to not park too close anymore.

We were still a day's ride from any kind of hardware necessary for a good fix... but a pipe clamp and duct tape worked so well that I'm still using it.


Got there. Now, take a break for a week.

Getting to the the cabin (in Anchorage) from Fairbanks seemed like the hardest day's ride yet. It was supposed to be an easy, beautiful, short ride. NOT SO.

This whole trip we've been worried about my chain. It seems to be gaining slack at an inch per day. So every couple days it starts flopping so badly I have to adjust it. It's simple enough to do, but it has me worried about how long my chain will last. And after the off-road Dalton Highway... I can FEEL how bad my chain is. We left Fairbanks for our final stretch to get to the girls, and I decided that I'm going to replace it in anchorage. And 20 miles out of town, that's when the chain breaks. But alas, not my chain, Dad's broke!

This is our first significant problem. And we were just outside cell phone range of Fairbanks. Before we left, when Dad told me he was bringing a spare chain... I thought "wow, overkill." That's a lot of weight for something we won't need. Chains don't break. But then his did. And at this point, having a spare around comforted me since my chain felt os bad. Well, it took some doing, and 1 hour 40 minutes of time, but he got the spare on. And, cautiously, we were on our way.

We quickly caught up to Denali National Park, where Mt. McKinley rests. This would be the beautiful part of our ride. Nope. That's when the rain started. The ice cold rain. We rode through 3 hours of cold rain. The longest rain and coldest we'd felt on our trip so far. McKinley was shrouded in clouds. And ok, it was still beautiful, but my numb fingers didn't allow me to enjoy it much.

The minutes seemed like hours. Finally, just a few turns away from the cabin, and we had to climb a gravel hill that rivaled the most difficult roads we'd been on over the last week. We missed our turn, came around again and found it... And finally, there she was.

I'm elated to be here. Back with Julie, at our cabin overlooking the bay. It looks like it's snowing outside with little pieces of cotton floating around our cabin. It will be a nice week.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Today... I see Julie.

End of Day 7

We sleep tonight only one room down from the hotel room we were in last night. But what a day in between.

Fairbanks to the infamous Dalton Highway. Up to the Arctic Circle, back down the Dalton. We saw a 50 degree change in temperature. Rain. Hail. Wind. Dust.

And I am worn out. What a day. I'll have to write more about it later.

We made it... Again

I'm in the middle of the "we made it" phase of our adventure. First we made it to Alaska, and I clenched my 49th state to bike through. Then "we made it" to Fairbanks (an actual PLACE, in Alaska), and a very-comfortable Hampton Inn.

Today, "we made it" to the arctic circle (66 deg. 33' N), our ultimate end point; the halfway mark of our trip (as in, turn around, towards home). Then "we made it" back down the famed, treacherous Dalton Highway (Ice Road Truckers highway) alive, bikes intact (though dirty).

Just a couple more "we made it"s ahead. Tomorrow, to Anchorage and our cabin where our family awaits for a week of... well a week of not riding my motorcycle. And then, by God's grace the "we made it" home, in a couple weeks.

Gotten so far, but we are not done yet.

Friday, July 6, 2012


You know what the best part of riding across Canada is? When you get to the other end of it just to find MORE AMERICA.

Mom and the cold

My mom is great. I had lunch with her the day before I left for Alaska, and she asked me if I had remembered to pack a jacket. I had been planning this thing for a year, and yes, I definitely remembered that I might need a jacket when riding through northern Canada and into Alaska.

Well, I think that it was day 3 where I realized that I had all my layers around my torso, but I was still cold. So... we stopped at Wal-mart, and I bought a zippered hoodie to make sure I could stay warm. Somehow, moms always know.

And don't worry mom, I got cold from time to time, but always slept warm. And we made it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

End of Day 6

Dear Midnight Sun,

We found you. In Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.

Sincerely, the Kline boys.

Photo of me taken at 12:01 AM, local time.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


After 2,500 miles, my Mefo Explorer (left) and his Dunlop D606 (right).

What about ("ah-boot") Canada, eh?

In case you didn't know...

  • Canada is on the metric system. So the speed limit is often 100, or 110. This looks awesome, but is normal at about 70 - 75.
  • The gas is sold in liters. I fill up with 15 - 20 of them. And it's usually priced in cents per liter. So when you see that gas is 129.9 per liter, don't worry. That's only $1.29 (Canadian dollars).
  • Apparently most Canadians use credit cards with smart chips. And several attendants have been confused when they discover that ours need to be swiped.
  • The people are nice. They seem to be looking to help. As soon as I start looking around with that I-am-confused-by-something-in-Canada face... it is seconds before somebody comes over and asks if they can help me find/do/understand something.
  • The people are social. My conversations with dad are never private (sometimes that's not surprising, since he doesn't really know how loud he is talking). But people around are unafraid to overhear and, when we mention something of interest to them, come over and start chatting about it. And yes, sometimes this is annoying.
  • They really do use "eh" at the end of every other sentence. One guy even saw my license plate and said "You're not in Kansas anymore, eh?". He admitted he had no idea what that is from (The Wizard of Oz), but has simply heard it before. And it is, so far, the only time I've heard the phrase on this trip, thank goodness.
  • Canada is big.