Panini Tour: From Alaska to California – USA north to south
Barbara Kenedi and partner Peter’s adventurous round-the-world trip on their two KTM 1190 ADVENTURE Rs continues onto its next stage through the USA.
The continuation of the Panini Moto Tour round-the-world trip on our 1190 ADVENTURE Rs, both with 50,000km on their clocks, from Alaska takes us naturally southwards. Over the Chilkoot Pass, we head through densely forested Canada once more, where the hunting season is now under way. Two friends proudly present the fresh trophies on their pick-up to us.
In the coastal town of Prince Rupert, we swap the road for a ferry for a day and travel by water. The “Inside Passage” is a wonderfully scenic ferry route, running close to the coast between wooded islands, with views of tiny lighthouse villages and lots of passing whales.
From Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, our trip continues back in the saddle of our ADVENTUREs. The island is dominated by the timber industry – masses of tree trunks can be seen floating in the sea. On dusty forest roads, we need to keep our eyes peeled for the mighty, high-speed log trucks and their trailers loaded with timber. As a motorcyclist riding alongside, you feel like a tiny bark beetle.
Fishing is a popular sport here as well. We give it a try on the island’s longest pier in Campbell River – unsuccessfully. Never mind: There’s a floating snack bar next door, selling tasty fish & chips. We enjoy the peace and solitude of the countryside one last time, before we return to civilization in Vancouver. After Alaska, we’re not used to it anymore … but an elegant skyline and amusing sculptures can also be fascinating.
The border crossing to the USA takes us into Washington state – plenty of farmland in European dimensions. A local KTM rider recommended the route over the Washington Pass to us – an amazing winding road, leading past turquoise reservoirs through high, rocky mountains. Then, all of a sudden, precipitously downhill. In a matter of a few miles, the countryside and temperatures change dramatically. From the windy, chilly summit down to the warm, desert-like lowland plain. The colors change from succulent green to arid yellow. On the dirt tracks, we’re throwing up real plumes of dust now.
Suddenly, it’s as if we’ve landed in a western with John Wayne our gas station attendant: The small town of Winthrop styles itself as an “old west” town; a perfect film set. Beyond that, we visit the memorial to Chief Joseph, a brave Indian chief, who put up stubborn resistance with his tribe to Americans in breach of agreements. A reminder of a very sad chapter in local history. The spiraling climb up the butte is irresistible: The only hill in a sea of cornfields rewards us with a picturesque panorama.
In Pendleton, Oregon, we have the luck to get hold of tickets for THE event of the year – the Pendleton Roundup Rodeo. The stars of the international cowboy scene meet here for rodeo fun of the highest standard. Cowboys and cowgirls compete in a wide variety of disciplines: staying on the back of a bucking bull or bronco as long as possible, lassoing and tying up calves as quickly as possible (nine seconds!), riding around barrels at top speed, or jumping as quickly as possible between saddle-less horses in the “Indian race”. Tasty steaks are available during the break and it’s all brought to a close with a colorful Native American parade. A state-fair atmosphere prevails throughout the town: stalls for all sorts of cowboy accessories, car parades, and naturally an awesome country concert in the evening. We liked it.
The Oregon Trail was once a famous settler route to the west – some of the original covered wagons still remain. For fun, we hitch one up to an ADVENTURE!
Hells Canyon on the frontier with Idaho enticed us with its name. The humpback riverside road, trapped between water and high, ruddy cliffs, proves to be “hellish” riding fun.
In terms of landscape, Idaho is an extremely diverse state. On a bleak highland plain in the shadow of the jagged Sawtooth Mountains lies Sun Valley, the sunny, celebrity ski resort. A good place for a real espresso in a fancy town café.
In Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, we climb extinct volcanoes and enjoy a barren, but brightly blossoming lunar landscape from the top. Shortly afterwards, we meet our first sand dunes alongside huge, irrigated fields, where (not only) the famous Idaho potatoes grow. A US state where you can relax and leave all your cares behind.
The most famous and most-visited US national park, Yellowstone, owes its name to the yellow sandstone into which the Yellowstone River has dug itself. The park is one big feast for the eyes: geysers of various heights, shapes, and every color: orange, green, turquoise, and opal. In addition, boiling mud pools, fantastic fauna with bears, moose, and herds of bison – our pretty high expectations were by far and away exceeded. It’s difficult to put the fascination into words – your best bet is to press the camera shutter release as often as possible! In the evening, we enjoy the “effervescent” specialties of local micro-breweries.
In Utah, the Salton Sea keeps us afloat with its 25% salt content – unfortunately, the smell leaves much to be desired. Utah is canyon land: letting your legs dangle over the deep chasm at Dead Horse Point at sun-up; riding all day from one fantastic rock formation to another in Arches National Park; climbing glowing rock formations at sun-down (with the ADVENTURE of course!) – the days were always much too short here!
We were particularly impressed by the Shafer Trail (great tip from a KTM rider) – a steep switchback trail cut into the vertical canyon wall. Well, canyon riding can become addictive … after such sonorous names as: Valley of the Gods, Mexican Hat, Monument Valley, and Grand Canyon (the latter further on in Arizona).
We simply cannot miss out on riding along the famous Route 66 for a while – rather unspectacular in terms of scenery, but perfectly marketed and firmly in Harley hands.
Once over the Union Pass near Kingman, we head for California. “Forno Caliente” = hot oven and that hits the nail on the head here in summer. At 42°C, we sweat our way through dusty canyons towards the Salton Sea. On its shores, the South Californian offroad scene meets up in winter for motocross – it’s all deserted now; a flock of pelicans is the only sign of life.
Churches in Spanish-Mexican colonial style reveal the proximity of Mexico and the desert provides variety: In Joshua Tree National Park, curious gigantic rocks of all types lie between yucca trees and Jacob cacti (ocotillos); the way there is lined with creative heavy-metal figures, placed in the middle of the barren landscape.
In Murrieta, KTM’s HQ in the USA, we reach our final destination for this stage. Since Alaska, we’ve notched up another extremely varied 15,000km. But now it’s time for our ADVENTUREs to take on fresh oil and have a little rest … before continuing on the road to Tierra del Fuego.
Photos: Barbara Kenedi
Info: Around the world – Panini Moto Tour
Barbara Kenedi, a KTM employee in Mattighofen, and her partner Peter are on a round-the-world adventure tour. Why the mysterious name Panini? Because that’s the name of the couple’s cat, which is naturally placed in good hands while they’re away.
The keen travellers, who have been on tour with two KTM 1190 ADVENTURE Rs since March 2013, are completing the round-the-world trip in stages, rather than all at once. The first major stage led from Austria to Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. Then they continued the trip on the Australian continent, starting in Darwin. This was followed by New Zealand and, as the first port of call in North America, the crossing of Alaska to the south of California.
The marathon pleasure trip, entitled “Around the world – Panini Moto Tour” can be followed on Facebook, although only after prior registration.