The epic Tour of Alaska 2012 started out as a desire to visit Ketchikan but like anything I do, it turned into a much more grand adventure involving Aisling, my then 15-year-old daughter.
After realizing that I can’t get to Ketchikan without taking either a plane or a boat, I decided that it may as well be a mini Alaska tour via the Alaska Marine ferry then back south via the Cassier highway. Of course, when I realized how much the ferry was going to cost, my feeble mind decided that I might as well spend a few more days and visit some places in Alaska. This is classic Brian logic which operates much like the book, “If you give a pig a pancake”.
After I had a new plan to get to Deadhorse and back, I flippantly asked my daughter, Aisling (who was just 15 at the time) if she wanted to go with me – of course, she said yes. So began the nearly year of planning, equipment purchases for her and me, and bike upgrades to handle the situation. Yeah, most of that stuff may not be required but it is all things I wanted to do anyway so may as well use the excuse that it is to support the adventure; you know the givea pig a pancake thing and all.
The first day of our ride, from Poulsbo to Bellingham WA to catch the ferry, was absolutely miserable. It turned out to be the single wettest day in Washington state history and it certainly wasn’t a good start to our tour. We ultimately made it to the ferry where I had reserved a cabin so we had a private shower and beds to relax after such a miserable day. We spent 4 days on the ferry, visiting multiple locations, then departed at Haines to start the real riding.
This first long day of riding, about 500 miles, was the only day of this trip that I had reserved lodging; it was literally a tough-shed but it was well worth the $25 and I am so grateful that the individual that rents out spaces made it available to us that day because I think had we camped that night, we probably would have turned south rather than complete the epic adventure that this tour became. The next morning, we got back on the road after a nice breakfast and met up in Coldfoot with the wonderful people we had met on the ferry; they were staying nearby so we met up the next day to do the ~225 mile ride north to Prodohe Bay (Deadhorse) and I promptly dropped the bike, and Aisling, in the mud before we even started moving. The good news is that I only dropped her and the bike 2 more times that day!
The day we spent riding from Coldfoot to Prodohe Bay and back to Coldfoot was a grueling experience riding in the rain, mud, snow, and sunshine like no other – it was worth every second! We made it to Deadhorse, filled up, at a wonderful lunch, took some photos, then opted to get back on the bikes to head South to Coldfoot. Just north of the mountains, we encountered a herd of Cariboo (checked off the bucket list), as well as Musk Ox (check) but overall it was a lot less eventful than our Northbound travel since it was a dry and sunny evening. Aisling and I ate a late dinner in Coldfoot then got a good night’s sleep before we met up the next day in Fairbanks to wash our gear and motorcycle.
We then ate brunch with our new friends prior to going our separate ways; Aisling and I would go on to Portage, Whittier (rode through the 2.5 mile train tunnel), Denali, Hope, Valdez, Tok, the Yukon, British Columbia, and the Frasier River valley prior to arriving home in Poulsbo. We had ridden the Alaska Marine ferry ~1,100 miles north via the Inside Passage, then rode the motorcycle for approximately 4850 miles over 13 days and every mile was worth the adventure I got to experience with my daughter.