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North America Topics specific to Canada and USA/Alaska only.
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  #1  
Old 28 May 2012
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Where to start?

Hi folks!
After a lot of researching and thinking I have almost decided to fly to either Vancouver or Anchorage, buy a bike and go as far south as my wallet, time table (do I really have one?) and butt allow.
I know: everything has its advantages and negativities but what do experienced people think about the following aspects?:
-if I buy a bike in AK, it will be more expensive, not so many to chose from
-the flight to AK will be more expensive but I do not have to ride the way up and down (from Vancouver). Or is it worth it, taking different ways?
-if I start in AK, my visa (3 months) starts and keeps on counting when I am in BC for some weeks (a month maybe) Can anyone say for sure that this is what happens? I heard different versions including the one that it even gets invalid as I go through Canada!?
-how much time will I need for AK and for the way to Mecico? I do not want to race!
-would it be a better timing to start in South America? Grant wrote that one should not even think about Ushuaia in december. What about february?
Well, I try to start in june, do not want to be in hurry and want to take it as it comes. Do have the option to return to my job in december, but am not sure if I will...
-Thinking about the KLR 650 as the most practical and payable option, but am also interested in for instance Tenere, 640 LC 4 Adv and GS 650/800.
Any thoughts about liability / access to help and spare parts..?

I am very thankful for any information.
I guess I will be at the meeting in Germany as well but as I mentioned, time is ticking and I have to decide and book soon.

Cheers from Sweden, where it is soon going to be light again : )
Toby
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  #2  
Old 31 May 2012
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Let me see if I can help a bit.

1) You can buy a bike in AK. It may well be a bit more there but most things are. Here is a place or two to start The Motorcycle Shop - Anchorage, Alaska and anchorage / mat-su motorcycles/scooters - by owner classifieds - craigslist as well as Alaska Cycle Center-Honda, Suzuki, Polaris, Ducati, Piaggio, Vespa, Aprilia & Victory M/C's, Scooters, ATVs,Side x Sides snowmobiles & Power Equipment. I have no way to know what they have on stock that you ride away on but there will be something.

2) I get bord seeing the samething day in day out I see no use riding the same area if you are on a time limit and want to see all you can. But others love to re ride the same road. You do not need to ride up if you land in Vancouver BC. Canada (there is Vancouver in Washington USA as well). There in ride on ride off ferry from Bellingham WA to Homer AK you can ride from there. It may still take a week or so to get there and is not a cheap way to go but you will get see more. Ferry Travel.com - Book all major Alaska, BC & Washington Ferries plus most major European Ferry Crossings online.

3) What your visa dose and how it works will depend on the visa. If I had to bet I say your time on your visa starts as soon as you come in to the USA and will not stop if you go Canada but will stop if you go to Mexico.

4) How much time you take will depend on you. You have 3 months use them. Eat up 30 days in BC and you still have more than you will need, you can even go to all around the USA in that time. I have gone from home in northern Washington sate to LA in a day (a vary long boring day)

5) Be in Ushuaia in December bit full at the time I am told. Winter in the North is summer down there plan your trip with that. Many in the USA eat up 6 months riding down to be there in December.

6) You may want to add the DL650 to your list. Any bike can brake down and can not be fixed with the shop has on hand. When you go to the meeting ask Grant the best way to ship parts to you, It may save your trip.

have fun on the trip!
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  #3  
Old 1 Jun 2012
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From Vancouver

if you want to contact us for information or advice .......daniel@worldwideride.ca or sara@worldwideride.ca

We leave from Vancouver June 22 to head north to Inuvik and then south. sara



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  #4  
Old 4 Jun 2012
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@DLbiten
Thank you for your help.
I decided to start from Vancouver, will be there on the 11th of june. Now I am looking for a bike over there.
Maybe it is going to be a BMW F650 or 800 GS...


@sara
I sent you a message some time ago.

Cheers Tobx
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  #5  
Old 5 Jun 2012
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Well we will be here in Van until June 22 if you need advice or help you can PM us

Sara
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  #6  
Old 6 Jun 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saralou View Post
Well we will be here in Van until June 22 if you need advice or help you can PM us

Sara
Hey Sara: will be looking for you guys on the road

Cheers Growler (Philip)
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  #7  
Old 6 Jun 2012
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Just wanted to correct misinformation in a post above.

The ferry from Bellingham goes to Homer, it's true, but boats are rare past Haines and Skagway. Unless you really, really like ferries (and can make the schedule work), get off there and carry on by road.

Visa waiver gives you 90 days, but once you enter the USA time in Canada or Mexico counts towards your 90 days. A visa (different process, more difficult and expensive) gives more time. OP: look into this in advance, since you sound like you haven't grasped the essentials yet.

DO NOT ever tell an immigration officer that you "have the option to return to my job in december, but am not sure if I will..." This makes it very likely they will refuse you entry, whether you've got a visa or not. In fact, there was a rumor of a group which was turned back at the US border for having posted stuff on an internet forum, so think carefully about that part.

The rest is all fluff. You can read blogs and trip reports for the rest of your life without running out of interesting, informative tales. If you want answers to your many questions, that's a good way to find them.

Hope that's helpful.

Mark
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  #8  
Old 6 Jun 2012
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@Mark

Thanks!
If I get you right, then you state what I know: by the time I enter the USA it does not matter if I enter Canada, it still goes on? but it is no problem to re-enter the States? (AK-BC-WA)
I will check with the embassy again...
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  #9  
Old 7 Jun 2012
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US Entry

Hi Toby,

I have entered the US several times via bike and an EU country passport so here are my 2 cents. You will be issued a visa or "entry document of sorts" right at the border for approx 6USD. They will take prints and a mugshot. This allows you to spend 90 days in the USA within one year and that starts counting once you cross over. When you leave the US, say into Canada, you have 2 options: hang on to this visa (its kind of a green paper stapled into your passport) IF you plan to return to the US AND have time left on it. Or, if you do not plan to return to US hand it back to Immigration when you cross. That means you give it to the Canadians upon entry, as you do not need to stop to exit the US. They will give it to the US authorities. You MUST return this visa on your last exit from the US. Your US-time countdown stops once you leave the US and re-starts when you re-enter. Therefore you can maximize your stay for the full 90 days if you want. If you want more, you need to get a visa ahead of time.

As someone mentioned above: have your story straight for the US borderguard!! They WILL drill you REPEATEDLY with the same questions over and over. Vague answers are a no no here, you should be able to refer to work, a travel schedule, a home address etc. They WILL ask you where you will stay for your first night in the US, have something ready. Do not mention anything that looks like vagabonding the world or such. No work or homeaddress will make them suspicious that you may want to stay in the country. Don't! They don't have to let you in. Don't chance it, have your story neat and ready. They have absolutely NO sense of humour!

Bikes: I would think you have a much better chance to find reasonably priced bikes in Vancouver rather than Anchorage. The KLR seems your best bet, plentiful. BMWs expensive and rare, same for KTMs. Mid size Yamaha XTs are literally unknown in Canada.

Best of luck!
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  #10  
Old 8 Jun 2012
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Thanks a lot you addict : )!
Sounds great! I am on the HU meeting in Germany right now and after all I have heard I think it will be the KLR in the end.
So, if I land in Vancouver, go up to AK, down to Canada for some weeks and then into WA I got 90 new days?
I have called the embassy and they told me that I will not need the ESTA-form, as I just enter rhe States via landway. As I have the right to stay in Canada for 6 months, I asked him if that means I can move more or less freely in Canada and the USA for six months. He confirmed but of course, I have to pay at the border and it is always the officers who decide...
But very good to know that I have to have a story ready!

Cheers Toby
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  #11  
Old 8 Jun 2012
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ESTA is only for airtravel, right, but you will get the US visa for 90 days right at the border. In Canada you can stay up to 6 months, correct. So lets say you land in Vancouver and travel one month up to AK, then you have 5 months left for Canada. You enter AK and have 90 days in the US now. You ride around AK for 30 days, that will leave you 60 days remaining for stay in the US once you head south into Washington or so. It does not start counting from 90 days again. Just to make this clear.

It looks you are a bit confused about Canada/US. They are two completely different countries with different rules and regulations. Just because the Canadians let you in for 6 months does not mean you can move freely in Canada AND in the US for that time.

And just like in the Schengen area in the EU: your visa time for each country does NOT start again at 90 days/6 months by just leaving the country and returning. That "allowance" is per year, and over this time period the days you spend in that country are continuously subtracted.

Wish I was at the HU meeting over there too!
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  #12  
Old 10 Jun 2012
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It was a great meeting and I stayed longer than I had planned. So now I have to hurry up to get everything packed and clear. The plane will leave tomorrow night.
Well, of course I know that they are different countries with different rules and so on but I have heard so many different things about the visa that I indeed got confused.
As long as the US visa does not continue to count when I am in Canada again, it is no problem.
If I got it right from the guy in the visa information service I can give the green(?) card back at the border and receive a new one when I reenter the States later. Then I have to pay for it again (think it was 6$).

Cheers, Toby
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  #13  
Old 10 Jun 2012
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Toby, I'm going to say it again: you are confused about how the Visa Waiver program works. Once you have entered the USA, your 90 days continues to be used up until you go someplace which is NOT the USA, Canada, Mexico or certain Caribbean islands. It will not "re-set" giving you another 90 days while you are in Canada.

If you are listening to a lot of people giving contradictory advice, stop listening. Start over.

First step is to not speak of the "Visa Waiver Program" (VWP) as a "visa." It is not a visa. It is a program which lets you enter WITHOUT a visa. The confusion between visa and VWP entry is one reason you're getting confused. If you ask questions about a "visa," you'll get some answers related to an actual visa, which allows 180 days.

I think that a visa is what you want---but if so you need to prepare in advance, since getting one takes time. A visa will allow repeated entry to the USA without so many restrictions. A VWP will require that you race through your trip or take a side journey to, say, Guatemala or Europe in order to "re-set" your VWP entry.

I suggest reading the following post: it gives as clear an explanation as you're likely to find, with a bunch of examples. USA branch FAQ - page 17 - Lonely Planet travel forum

Good luck.

Mark
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  #14  
Old 21 Jun 2012
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Thanks!
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  #15  
Old 22 Jun 2012
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Thumbs up Alaskan Bound

Hi Toby
We met at the mini meet in Vancouver last week. How are things going with getting a bike?
I used the ferry and I know many others who have done so to get back down from Alaska- it is a beautfu ferry ride- I (and many others) have got on it at Haines, although it's expensive it is a good way to see the fantastic coastline and also whales swimming and diving alongside and even grizzly bears on the islands as we sailed past. The cheapest option on the ferry that I did is to put your tent up on the deck

Good luck with your journey, and remember tell the US border officials that you are definitely on holiday and that you are returning to your job- on the way up into Alaska, they are not so concerned in my experience, it is just the land border coming back down.
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