In August of 2008, we bought a 2007 Ural Gear Up motorcycle with sidecar that has, quite literally, changed the course of our lives. Up until that fateful purchase, we had spent very little time on motorcycles – perhaps 700 miles of riding on an old Honda for me and 3 months of moto-taxis in Africa for Kristen. We spent the next year getting to know our Ural’s quirks by riding around Texas and came to realize that an epic adventure was unavoidable. Without much planning and possessing a child-like knowledge of motorcycle mechanics, we set off from San Antonio, TX in August of 2009 with dreams of reaching the northernmost edge of Canada in the Arctic Circle on a bike that is happiest when traveling at 45 mph.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before we ran into some issues. And by not long, I mean about 45 minutes after leaving our house.
Dallas, TX – August 19, 2009 – Exorcising Motorcycle Demonsâ€¦already
Dallas, TX – August 19, 2009 – Set Back!
Dallas, TX – August 21, 2009 – Heroes
Mineral Wells, TX – August 22, 2009 – Elga is Healed!
With our trusty steed healthy once again, we headed north… only to be stopped once again by bike troubles. How we love lessons in patience.
With our major issues finally taken care of and the open road before us we finally made a huge push to the Canadian border, passing through the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park and on to Big Fork, Montana.
South Fork, CO – August 27, 2009 – In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
Montrose, CO – August 28, 2009 – Whoa! We’re Actually in the Mountains
Vernal, UT – August 30, 2009 – Movin’ On Up
Jackson Hole, WY – August 31, 2009 – Jackson Hole, WY
Yellowstone National Park – September 1, 2009 – Tourists
Deer Lodge, MT – September 3, 2009 – Detained in Deer Lodge
The North – September 4, 2009 – The Chase
By the time we hit the Canadian border we were really in the swing of being on the road. Our hair began to get a little greasier, our scent a little stronger, our faces and hands a little more smudged with grease and dirt. We were hooked. We continued to head north through Banff and Jasper National Parks with the Columbia Ice Field in between (epic) and finally up to the Alaska Highway.
Pincher Creek, Canada – September 6, 2009 – Oh Canada!
Banff, Canada – September 7, 2009 – The Eyes of Texas Are Upon Banff
Jasper, Canada – September 8, 2009 – Bring It On, Banff
Jasper, Canada – September 9, 2009 – Columbia Ice Field
Jasper, Canada – September 9, 2009 – iPhone Photos
Dawson Creek, Canada – September 10, 2009 – The Windy North
By this time, the weather was starting to move steadily into fall and we were confronted with the vast space between us and our final goal, Inuvik in the NorthWest Territories. We moved forward with the purpose up the mighty Alaska Highway.
So close and yet so far. The real adventure began the moment we rode into Dawson City. We now only had 400 miles between us and the end of the road. The important fact of the matter, however, is that 400 miles was the Dempster Highway – a dirty/gravely/mud pit of a road smack in the middle of some of the wildest country on the planet. An area in which grizzly bears outnumber people. An place of permafrost and wicked winters and unpredictable weather. Glorious!
Eagle Plains, Canada – September 16, 2009 – The Dirty Dempster
Inuvik, Canada – September 17, 2009 – Um, I think It’s About Time For You Folks To Get In My Truck
Inuvik, Canada – September 18, 2009 – Virtually Experience the Dempster
Eagle Plains, Canada – September 19, 2009 – To Inuvik and the North
The Dempster – September 21, 2009 – Pow! You Just Got Hit With The Dempster
After completing a serious challenge for the both of us, we headed south down the long, Alaska Highway with winter nipping at our heels. We rode back through Jasper and Banff, through Montana and Idaho and ultimately into Utah.
Dawson Creek, Canada – September 23, 2009 – Going South
Big Fork, MT – September 30, 2009 – Umm, Did We Pack Snowshoes?
Salmon, ID – October 7, 2009 – Montana, Minnesota, Texas and Idaho
Pocatello, ID – October 8, 2009 – It’s Really Cold in Idaho or Elga Disrobes
Utah – October 9, 2009 – Fresh Off the Press
Unfortunately, upon arriving in Salt Lake City we had come to a turning point. Our poor bike had been abused for long enough that her problems were growing more and more serious by the mile. After much debate, we decided to call on our parents (who just randomly were on a road trip of their own 300 miles away) and put Elga on a trailer after several months of hard work.
We took Elga off of her trailer to ride the final 30 miles or so back to our home on October 13, 2009. Over two months, our trip ended back in San Antonio after taking us through 7 states, 4 provinces, from 110F to 15F, from 700 ft to 14,000 ft and a total of 10,000 miles!
It was a trip that we will never forget and it became a catalyst for our adventures in the future!