Sunday, June 29, 2008

Alaska Ride Wrap Up

Particulars

9,483 total miles
64 gas stops
148 mile average per stop
$1,065.59 spent on gas
$17.19 average cost of a fill up
$10 lowest cost to fill up
$36.33 highest cost to fill up

Observations from the Road

• You should all ways remember why you changed the height of your windshield
• You should never leave town with only a dark visor for you helmet
• Never underestimate the amount of rain you will get
• There is a reason why all those riders have electric gear on
• You will never get the gas mileage you think you will
• Caribou and cars don’t mix
• After said mixture, the road will be a mess
• After riding through said mess, the next 100 miles will stink to high heaven
• Creatures come out after it quits raining
• Creatures usually stand on the other end of a blind turn
• Not all creatures will run away
• Generally, people on the road are very friendly
• Breakfast tastes better in little, run down looking establishments
• Riding in the rain is better than stopping in the rain
• Riding in the snow is slow, cold, and crazy
• Stopping in the open, in the snow, is an even worse idea
• Always look up at your surroundings
• Black bears look bigger above you than in front of you
• Don’t miss an opportunity to gas up in unfamiliar surroundings
• Two words for mosquitoes – Bug Bam
• Two lane highways are the way to enjoy the view


This is Bug Bam. You put it on your wrist and like magic the mosquitoes just don't land on or bite you. They will fly around you, but in the entire time I was gone I had one bite and it was while stopped at a road construction site. I heard about this product and ordered it on the Internet for about $2 if I remember correctly.



The Report

The first morning back I took Petunia to the car wash to pressure wash her. It was a waste of time because not much came off. I had washed the big clumps off in Fairbanks, so it really was only half a rides worth of grime. That evening I washed her by hand for almost two hours and am still finding spots I missed. Piggy is going to need some repairs. The tongue is really too short and needs to be extended. I found that most of the items inside had been beaten up pretty badly. There needs to be carpet or something in there to cushion things. Both of the front, amber, running lights were broken and need to be replaced. I also need to find a method to repair the damaged rear corner from the Spring Break ride. It is worse now and even has a hole that I can fit two fingers into.

On Wednesday I put Petunias stock exhaust system and mufflers back on. I had been running a set of Vance & Hines True Duals with Python slash cut mufflers to get that throaty, Harley sound. On this ride the noise got to be too much and the gas mileage was just awful. The first tank after the change brought me back to 46 MPG.

On Saturday evening I met a group that I ride with for a dinner ride to Florence, Arizona. Florence is home to the Arizona State Prison. It was a 177 mile round trip and the seven of us from Phoenix met up with about a dozen from Tuscon. It was good company, great Mexican food, and perfect riding weather. It was also the longest ride I've taken since I got home. The only day I didn't ride this week was Thursday, but I'm ready to get out there and start riding again. Next week I'll pay the bills from this trip and see if I saved enough to make my anticipated trip to Sturgis. Even if I don't make it to Sturgis this year going there wouldn't diminish how great the Alaska ride was.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Ride Ends Successfully




I'm home! 9,483 miles, 17 days, 6 new states, and 3 Canadian Providences later I'm safely back to where I started. I survived the AlCan Highway and met the goal of riding to Alaska.




I left Winnemucca at 7 AM and headed to Eli, Nevada via I 80 for 53 miles to get to State 305 south to drop to Highway 50 known as the Loneliest Highway. State 305 is pretty desolate in its own right. At a rest stop I spoke to a trucker who remarked how lonely this road was. This entire 88 miles I only saw that one truck and two other cars. Arriving in Austin, Nevada I stopped for gas and then the fun began. Right out of town the road went up over 1,000 feet in just three miles. It was twisty in an almost bad way and slow pulling up that steep a grade. It almost leveled off, or so I thought, but continued to climb. The result was an elevation increase of almost 2,000 feet in seven miles.

The Loneliest Road is just that. There were few cars and trucks on this highway. However there were bicycles. Stretched out over many miles. I stopped at one of their vans and found out it was charity ride from San Francisco to Washington, DC to raise money for various charities. I can't imagine riding a bicycle that distance.

On I went, mile after mile, with very little change in the scenery. Flat, scrub brush with an occasional hill thrown into the mix. Then the wind picked up and made it interesting. I finally rolled into North Las Vegas at 4 PM. The Freeway was packed and slow so I got off at Lake Mead Boulevard to look for directions to the quickest way to the Hoover Dam. I knew at that point I was rolling all the way home. I stopped at a Chevron for a cold drink and those directions. A lady gave me the help I needed and after a 30 minute stop I was on surface streets to the Old Boulder Highway. Vegas sure has changed since the time 25 years ago when I went there regularly. I stopped at Harrahs Casino just before the Dam for an hour to have dinner and cool off.

I had forgotten that it is only an hour from Vegas to Kingman. The trip home only took 4 hours and I was here at 10:40. I was so glad to be here that I unpacked and even did my road laundry before going to bed.

Some of the sights from the road.







This is a cattle guard in Northern Nevada. At first I thought I was dreaming, but there are a lot of these painted cattle guards complete with attached edges. Cows must really be dumb to fall for this.

Now it is time to start the cleaning process on Petunia and Piggy. That should be a major undertaking. I know the trailer has some repairs needed and Petunia needs those new tires installed. Plus I was just notified that my swivel ball that broke has been recalled and to not use it. Seems a guy who wasn't pulling a trailer had one fall apart. Imagine what could have happened if, say, you were pulling a trailer on something like the AlCan Highway. They are going to send me a new improved version of the ball that is welded or has cotter pins on each side of it. If I could have found case hardened bolts on the ride I would have already had mine repaired. But, now I'll wait for the replacement. The guarantee that I know is a swivel is needed when pulling a trailer. A leaning motorcycle is a happy motorcycle and a happy motorcycle scrapes floorboards on some corners. With a stationary ball it was uncomfortable on many corners and not as much fun to ride.

This ride was worth the wait! It was everything I had hoped for and more. If you're thinking about making the trip you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oregon is Spectacular

I woke up to mild temperatures and overcast skies this morning. I was on the road at 7 and headed toward Oregon. Just outside Portland the skies opened up and the rain started to fall. After about fifty miles it reduced to just sprinkles. I was planning on getting off of I 5 in Salem and heading SW on state 22. I kept looking at the clouds moving that way and thinking about just going to Medford. But, the lady at the campground said it was the route to go, so I went.

Making the decision to go that way was a great one. After an obligatory breakfast stop at Denny's, I was in for a spectacular ride.

Wait a second! Don't all of you stop at least once at a Denny's for breakfast on all your rides? It seems I always stop once for some reason.

Back to the ride. State 22 to Bend, Oregon has some of the most scenic roads I have ever been on. The adjectives to describe all that I have seen on this trip just aren't enough. Every time I've thought it couldn't get any better, it does. This area is lined with deep, lush, green forest. The trees along the highway are in to 80 - 100 foot range, but appear to be 200 feet tall as they grow up the mountain. The road was in perfect condition and it was a motorcyclists delight with a mix of sweepers and tight turns. Then you turn a corner and enter a burn area. I don't know how many acres were burned, but the damage is vast. I also noticed that in all the damaged area there were trees that survived virtually untouched. There are many lakes and/or rivers lining the highway as well. According to the HOG Touring Handbook there are many other miles of great riding in this area. Something to put away for another day I think.

It was gas in Bend and then onto US 20 to Burns and the start of scrub brush scenery and long flat sections of roadway. From here all the way to McDermitt, Nevada it was about the same. A mountain to climb here and there, but generally flat and endless. Once in Nevada I rode into Winnemucca for a dinner stop at 4:30. I decided to find a camp spot there, but didn't have any luck, so opted for a small motel. The small cities are really spread out and I was afraid I would just keep riding if I didn't stop.

Be sure to put Oregon's two lanes on your must ride list. If this brief glimpse of what they have to offer is an indication it will be well worth your efforts.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Baaacck In The USA

Today was a perfect day of riding. Thin, high clouds in the morning and 54 degrees. Warming up to around 85 with some clouds and only about 87 drops of rain once I crossed the border into the USA.

The trip from Lac la Hache down to Abbotsford was spectacular! The road was a great mix of sweepers and slow turns with a very few stretches of straight lines. It was tree lined on both sides with a river running along side of it for almost 250 miles. There were five places that had tunnels cut through the mountain to be driven through. On the other side of the river I watched a train rolling along the edge chasing me as I went along.

Seattle is a lot bigger than Phoenix. It struck me that I really don't live in a big city. The number of high rises in the downtown is unbelievable and there are several under construction. The Space Needle looks so much different in person than it does in any picture I've seen of it that I was surprised. The Saturday traffic was terrible and I decided I didn't want to learn how the streets were laid out so I continued out of town to find a camp.

KOA's are a joke. I paid to have a 2008 Campground Directory sent to me. This is the one that was published after May 1, 2008. I have stopped at five of the camps listed and four are out of business. That may not be KOA's fault, but all four look as if they have closed for years. The only open one was in Montana and they wanted only $5 less than Motel 6. I found a great campground just outside Tacoma. The lady that runs the place rides a Harley and gave me a couple of routes to take to get me off of I 5, so I'll be looking into that in a bit.

On a comment Richard asked about the price of gas in the Yukon. Gas there was about $5.93 a gallon or $1.56 a liter. There are 3.8 liters in a gallon. Another way to look at it is in Canada a fill up cost between $23 and $28. In Washington a fill up costs $16.81 and I was using between 5 and 7 tanks a day.

That is the story from the road today. I need to look at the maps and make a decision about my next part of the journey. The only thing I'm certain of is I don't want to riding on the super slab any longer than necessary to get back to the two lanes. The best part of Canada is just about all of their highways are two lane. They give ample passing zones and traffic was never a problem. In fact even some log trucks passed me and that was going uphill.

Continue 3 For 1

Almost forgot these highlights:

I had been riding all day Wednesday and was getting tired, but couldn't find a spot to camp. I pulled into a rest stop and was going to pitch my tent. Looking around I had a feeling I was being watched, but there wasn't anyone at the rest stop except me. I looked up and sitting in a tree about fifteen feet above the ground was a big, black bear! It started to move and so did I. I jumped on Petunia and away I went. Over the next 120 miles I saw at least ten bears either on the road or just next to it. Now I couldn't stop because I was in bear country.

So, I rode until I came to the Highway 37 Junction with Highway 16 in Kitwanga, British Columbia. I only had enough gas for about 20 more miles, it was 11 at night, the past four gas stations I passed were closed, and I didn't know what I was going to do. But, there sat a gas station on a big lovely knoll right next to a beautiful river. I stopped and looked it over and set up my tent right there to spend the night. When I woke up at 6:30 the station and restaurant were both open and busy.

It is just about 6 or 7 depending on which clock I look at and I am just packing up to leave. I hope to reach Seattle today, but am not sure how far away that is from here. I won't decide until at least tomorrow the direction I'm taking the rest of the way home. I just looked at my schedule and don't think I'll be spending three days in Seattle. I may just go with my original plan of riding about 400 miles a day and cover the Loneliest Highway into Ely, Nevada.

Anyway I'm still having fun and looking for some more from this great adventure.

Friday, June 20, 2008

3 For 1 post

Yep, I've been missing in action. Rather the WiFi signal has been missing in action. So, let me update you.

Low lights: I left Anchorage Wednesday morning about 5 to bright sunlight. It lasted about an hour and then clouded up. It began to rain at 9:30 and only quit for about an hour at 6 when I arrived at Whitehorse. That was enough time to set up the tent, eat dinner, and try to get on line. I got a connection long enough to almost check my e-mail then lost it. There were so many clouds and lightening that I gave up. It rained almost all night. I thought about just staying in Whitehorse for the day, but there was no promise that Thursday would be any better. So, off I went into the rain for the next six hours when it cleared up. It was the wettest I think I've ever been.

Later in the day Canadian 37 would prove to be the most difficult road of the trip. The stops for construction were a blessing to just be able to sit and rest. Ruts, washboards, pot holes, mud, gravel, you name it it was all there. Next came the missed turn. Yes, I missed a turn and ran off the road trying to get turned around. I thought three times I was going down, but kept Petunia upright. I finally got back on the road and settled down before trying to turn around. Piggy bound up against Petuina and when I put my foot down it slid in the gravel and Petunia did go down. I knew it was going to happen and just stepped off. In the middle of nowhere, not a soul in sight, and a 850 pound motorcycle laying on her side. I did what any self respecting guy would do in that situation. I cried-------No,no,no,no I picked her up and put her back on her wheels. But, now my back is killing me and it is hard to get on and off. I'm not complaining here, I'm just stating the facts as they happen.

Next came the unthinkable. Hit a pot hole and Petunia started to howl like she had lost a muffler. A quick stop reveled that wasn't the case. That could only mean a torn header pipe which appeared to be the case. It was 3 miles to Dease Lake for further inspection and probably a wrecker. Inspection showed the header nuts came unscrewed and the bracket that held the header in place had broken. That was a welcome relief because this was a gas station and hardware store. Unfortunately the hardware store was no longer there. But, there was Charlie a mile down the road.

Highlights: Charlie is about 90 years old and works on anything with an engine. I rode in to his place and explained to him what I needed. He took a look and said, "Nope, can't help you." When I asked why, he replied, "Got to let er cool off." I spent the next hour with Charlie listening to his stories, getting two nuts, washers, loc tight, and a custom made wrench (in case you need it later) all for the steal price of $20 US.

Adolph is a rider from Calgary. Our paths crossed leaving Whitehorse and continued over breakfast in Teslin. Adolph had some great stories of his exploits of riding in Canada and the US. He was such a great story teller I bought his breakfast for him.

The scenery on this trip is the most fantastic I have ever seen. Any picture I have taken can't do justice to how beautiful it really is.

I'm 300 miles from Vancouver, I'm tired, my back hurts, I'm tired of the rain and cold, and I thinking about just heading home. After 13 days this trips seems more ambitious than I realized. But, I made Alaska and that is what I started out to do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Down Day in Anchorage

Spending the morning at the Harley Dealer waiting to get the tire changed is boring. The damages are more than I really wanted to pay, but here you are a captive audience and still need to get home.

Some Alaskan facts while we wait:
The Willow Ptarmigan is the official state bird
The Forget-Me-Not is the state flower
Jade is the official state gem – I didn’t even know there was an official state gem
There are six considered states within the state in Alaska
1. The Artic Reigon which is the northern most third of Alaska
2. Western Alaska which includes the Seward Peninsula
3. Southwestern Alaska is the narrow peninsula that extends 550 miles into the Pacific Ocean
4. The Interior Region which is the warmest section and includes Fairbanks
5. The Southcentral Region which is the most populous region
6. The Southeastern region sometimes called the Panhandle

So, now we all know some things about Alaska that might help us when we watch Jeopardy.

Maybe getting this tire changed is a good thing after all. It appears the tire wasn’t aligned correctly when the last tire was installed. That caused the brake pads to drag and wear almost down to the metal. It rides a lot more freely now, but I still just bought a five gallon gas can. I don’t want to take any chances and it was way to close a couple of times coming up here.

I have also given in and bought a pair of heated gloves. On the ride up the only cold issue I had were with my hands. Because I’m taking the Cassier Highway back to Seattle and it goes through the high mountains I decided that comfort was more important than being stubborn.

Early tomorrow morning the trip back down starts. Halfway through the Alaskan ride and I am planning on not riding as far a day going home as I rode coming up here. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and there won't be much rain. If it is raining I might as well keep riding because I'm not sure about camping in the rain because my leathers can't dry by the morning. I am looking for some great adventure on the trip home.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Reindeer, Rats, and Road Trip

Today is the R day. It started with a reindeer sausage omelet for breakfast. If you're like me you never thought about eating reindeer, but it was good. I had to think about it for a minute before I decided to give it a try. It came with grits which I haven't had in a long time. Kinda like a good ol southern breakfast up here in the north.

Rats is for the Harley dealer who doesn't do service on Mondays. That means I can't get a new tire until Tuesday. That left today up in the air for what to do. Because I am only going to be Anchorage until Wednesday I didn't want to wait around. What was the azharleydude supposed to do?

Road Trip! I took the Seward Highway to Seward. Funny thing about these Alaskans, they name their highways after the places they go. It was just over 500 miles round trip of the greatest road I have ever been on. This is the first time in my life that I refused to pass anyone regardless of how slow they were going. The weather today was 48 and cloudy to start out, but it wasn't cold at all. Climbing out of Anchorage the clouds gave way to sunshine. It stayed that way until dropping into Seward where the overcast sky's returned.

These are some of the sights I saw. It is hard to see in the pictures, but most of what looks like water is really ice.


Seward is a coastal town right on Resurrection Bay in the Gulf of Alaska. There were all types of boats and vessels docked there. It was fun walking on the docks and looking at all of them.

Now I'm off to grill some salmon and crab cakes for dinner. It should be a bit better than my last camping dinner don't you think?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Anchorage

First I have to wish a Happy 30th Birthday to my Little Kid Elizabeth. I Love You.

Today was the coldest day of riding yet, but it was also the first dry riding day. It started sunny and the temperature rose to about 60 and then I approached Denali, also known as Mt McKinley, and it dropped to the low 30's. The wind was whipping, it was overcast, and the mountain was covered with snow. The road was in great condition with very little traffic. There also were not any gas stations for 150 miles and again I was beginning to worry. It seems when the temperature is below 50 my gas mileage goes downhill. I met a BMW rider at a gas stop and we shared a table for breakfast. During our conversation he also claimed to notice a reduction in mileage at the lower temperatures. It is now cloudy, a slight breeze, and 60 in Anchorage, but I still feel cold.

Last night I had a conversation with Bonnie and Paul from Kansas. They have been on the road for a month and have another month before they have to be home. They were each riding a BMW 650 Duel Purpose Bike. Bonnie has been riding since the early 70's and that makes her almost like a pioneer I would think. This is their second trip into Alaska and they both claim it is even better this time. Another unusual thing about them is they are members of the Iron Butt Association. Not the 1000 miles in 24 hour type of ride, but the coast to coast, timed, with bonus locations if you think you can stay on schedule. It sounded almost like a Smokey and the Bandit type of a race with motorcycles. There is a guy they called to check on who is right now trying to get from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Key West, Florida in four days. He left once and had a flat in Fairbanks, got it fixed, and went back to start over. Paul said he is a retired Air Force guy and he would bet that he makes it. The Iron Butt folks are tracking him via a GPS system and folks call in to be updated on the progress.

In my travels tomorrow I will be looking for somewhere to get a new rear tire. That brand new Metzler I put on just before I left is almost used up in 5,000 miles and I don't believe it will get me home. The roads are very abrasive and everyone I have talked to has the same problem and are replacing a rear tire. Just another peril of the Alaskan Highway. Also, after discussions with riders who have done this ride before I am changing my route home to take a shorter route to Seattle that is supposed to have great views.

Now it's off to dinner before it decides it wants to rain.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Day of Rest

Saturday already? The week went really fast and with 4,000 miles behind me today will be a day of rest and doing the mundane. I woke up at 6:00 and walked a mile to find coffee and was successful when there was a Starbucks inside the Safeway. After coffee I reloaded the trailer to take the load off of the broken area. Next I went and washed Petunia and Piggy, and did laundry.

After my chores I unhooked Piggy and took a trip to the North Pole. Yes, the North Pole is a real place and even has a McDonalds and Post Office. I listed Micky D's first because I'm sure more people go there than the Post Office.




This is the real North Pole (wink,wink) as you can see by the reindeer who are resting up for their next assignment on December 24th. After a bit I came back to Fairbanks and went to Pikes Landing to watch the start of a four boat race 150 miles down the river and back. The start took about four minutes and there was a crowd of at least 150 to see them off. The starter told me it would take them about 3 1/2 hours to make it back. I guess you can hang out at the bar until then. I went and rode through the University of Alaska Campus.

I'm now back at the GoNorth Hostel where I'm staying. I repacked my bags, am posting for the day, and resting up to go to Anchorage tomorrow. I believe that I will take the most direct route for that part of the ride. A man named Paul suggested that I take the longer route, but I can take that part of the road leaving to get back to the Lower 48. I am still weighing my options for the ride home. There are three routes available, but getting gas is a real concern this year. Paul told me that one of the routes is almost impossible this year because of the number of station owners who haven't opened. He said the price of fuel is putting them out of business. The highest price I've paid so far is $5.95 a gallon at the last stop in Canada. Honestly I was so close to walking that I was more than happy to pay it.

The temperature in Fairbanks this morning was 48. It is now warming up nicely and I wore my short helmet on my ride this morning and it wasn't cold at all. The sky is blue without a cloud in the sky and I am thankful for that.

The first week has been terrific and I'm looking forward to seeing what is in store for me next week.

Friday, June 13, 2008

ALASKA!!!!!!!!!

After a 45 year wait I have ridden a motorcycle to Alaska!!! But, the adventure isn't over yet. There are still more miles to ride and more things to see. I am at a Hostel in Fairbanks that resembles a young adult camp complete with group tents and a quarter a minute shower. After I got here I walked 2 1/2 miles to eat at an all you can eat Alaskan Salmon Bake at the Pioneer Park. It is one of the things a tourist is supposed to do when visiting Alaska. Besides salmon they had cod, halibut, and a bunch of other stuff that I had to walk by to get the fish. I don't understand eating that other stuff when you can eat all the fish you can hold. It was the best fish ever. But, then I had to walk the 2 1/2 miles back to the camp. I really needed the walk after five days on Petunia.

Today was the same song, Rain, rain go away. Miles and miles of slow steady rain that really wasn't all that bad, just getting tired of rain. Canada is having an unusually wet year and when I stopped for breakfast the waitress said they had four inches of snow Sunday. It finally cleared out about 12:30 and the sun came all the way out about 2:00. When I got to Fairbanks it was almost 80 degrees and began to feel hot. It is starting to cool off and the mosquitoes are beginning to buzz around.

Today I got a dose of the road horror stories you always hear about the ride to Alaska. There was one point that was four miles of gravel/mud that was ridden in a pouring rain and I couldn't go over 20 mph and almost had to drag my feet to stay upright. Another section that I was held up for 20 minutes waiting for the guide truck to return and then had to follow it for 30 miles. After that there were patches of asphalt that were gone and replaced with gravel with no warning at all. Hitting them at 70 mph is exciting. Then there was a washboard section for about four miles that will require rectal surgery for Petunia. The broken corner that I patched is really broken now and tomorrow I will have to reload the trailer to remove all the weight from that side.

This is the business end of Petunia as she is doing all the work and I am hanging on. Notice all the clouds in my visor?




All in all today was a great day. There were some places I wished I could have stopped to take pictures, but the road conditions just didn't allow it. One in particular that I wanted was crossing a river that was 3/4 ice about a foot thick. It was just beautiful.

Here it is 9:45 and the sun is still out and shining brightly. I'm just about finished and think I will turn in. I shouldn't have any trouble falling asleep because it is only 15 minutes to quiet time. Tomorrow I will go exploring Fairbanks.

PS: I added the pictures that I couldn't post last night.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Found a WiFi connection

Today was just about perfect. About 48 sprinkles when I was loading the trailer this morning. Then sunshine! Well all around me there was sunshine, but I was on the wrong side of the mountain and would have to wait for it to rise higher in the sky. It was worth the wait and it warmed up to about 60. I did get wet, twice, for only about ten minutes each time and one of those was in a newly graveled area so it kept the dust down.

The road conditions throughout the ride have been great. There have been a few places where they are laying gravel and it gets dusty, but it was only a problem once when a moron in a GMC with duel wheels didn’t want to follow at the speed limit and blew past everyone at about 90 mph. In Canada when they stop a line of vehicles, they move all the motorcycles to the front of the line.

The animal count so far is one caribou, two mountain sheep, a baby bear playing on the side of the road in the rain, and about a dozen buffalo. I got pictures of the buffalo because they don’t seem to be spooked by people stopping and taking their pictures.




So, I’m in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada and I am finally camping. It is about three miles to Highway 1 taking me to Fairbanks, Alaska. The map I have said it is 468 miles to Fairbanks, but it also said from Fort Nelson to Whitehorse was 500 miles. Turns out that trip is more like 638 miles. A guy at a gas stop told me they have reworked a lot of the roads and haven’t remeasured and updated the maps. There lies another problem with this trip. Knowing when to stop for fuel is a problem just because of the metric conversions required. That same gas station guy told me that many of the station owners didn't reopen this year. I had noticed many businesses closed along the way, but didn't think about it. I’m carrying 2 ½ gallons of extra gas and have had use it three times already. The folks that don’t have any extra are sure to be in big trouble.

This is a picture of camping dinner. I just wanted everyone to know I can cook. That is all of me for today because it is starting to sprinkle. I’m going to put my computer away, double check on the time, and think about crawling into my tent. Tomorrow will be a big day, crossing into that 49th state.

Missed a Day

Wednesday was a rain filled morning that gave way to pleasant temperatures and the thought of being able to camp. But about 35 miles from Camp Nelson the sky blackened, the temperature dropped some fifteen degrees, a bolt of lighting struck, and it snowed hard and fast for about a half an hour. I slowed to a crawl and followed in the tracks of the car in front of me because there was nothing else to do. So, I got the last room at a motel, started to unload in a wet hurry, and met Gene, from the room next door. He is from Missouri and is going to Alaska also. We decided that we would go to dinner after cleaning up. Somehow we met a third biker from Florida, Ron, who is also going to Alaska. The motel was full and Gene asked Ron to stay in his room. We all went to dinner and spent the next two or so hours telling motorcycle lies.

The ride today was generic in that the pictures I took first thing in the morning look exactly like all the others I took. It is beautiful, but the trees don’t seem to change much. Canada does have an extraordinary number of lakes and rivers. Once on the Alaska Highway it travels right next a lot of the water ways. But, with narrow shoulders and no pull outs except with obstructed views the photos are limited. I did get to see a young caribou and you will have to believe that because it ran when I tried to stop.

This is a picture of me in Dawson Creek at Mile Post 1 of the Alaska Highway. If you look real close at the picture, near the bottom, between Petunia and Piggy, you should see that Piggy is pointing down. A couple from Colorado took the picture for me and I also wanted a picture of Petunia alone. I went to snap it and something didn’t look right. The pin I was worried about in my swivel ball sheared off and the trailer was hanging by the safety chains. Luckily I was smart enough to take a spare trailer ball just in case. I just stopped for gas two blocks before pulling into the parking lot to take the picture.

So, that was my day. You won’t see this until I get wired somewhere. But, I wrote it in the motel before I went to sleep. Going to sleep is hard when the sun doesn’t set until 10:30.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Right Picture


I found the right picture!!!!!!!!!! Petunia and Piggy were at the Canadian Border today. See I can't make those kinds of things up.

Quack, Quack

I'm beginning to feel like a duck. 500 miles today and rain for 385 of those. I began to think back to the last four long rides I went on I only had a total of about three hours of rain. I had six hours today alone. So far I've ridden three days and had rain all three. But, riding in the rain isn't all bad. I'm in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. My computer and AT&T are smiling on me and I'm posting using the computer the way it was supposed to work.

This is the Canadian Border. I took a picture of Petunia there to prove I really rode, but it didn't come out right. Tomorrow I will get a great picture of Petunia, Piggy, and myself at the start of the AlCan Highway to make up for it. Speaking of the border, I was randomly selected to park and come inside. My crack about if they let me in was a bit too true. It started when I pulled up to the window and the first agent asked what business I had in Canada. After I told him I was riding through to get to Alaska he said, "Remove your lid, sir." Next he asked if I had my passport and then invited me inside. I went to a second agent who typed into his computer and asked me things like my date of birth, my social security number, my address, city I was born in, what I did for a living, grade I taught, school I taught at, and at every answer he clicked on something. I must have passed the test because he stamped a yellow paper "Admitted" and had me take it to a third agent who looked at it for about 20 seconds before saying, "You can go now." I guess me waiting was a problem for him.


Leaving Great Fall, Montana at 6 o'clock was beautiful. It was bright and sunny, 47 degrees with 88% humidity. For as far as I could see there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Just after I crossed the border I saw these clouds starting to brew. The closer I got the darker they got. If I was a smart man I would have sworn they were snow clouds. I stopped at the Visitors Center in Lethbridge and the man there said it was only supposed to be light rain. There was so much rain that the sides of the highway have standing water and I would be afraid to pull off for fear of sinking. So I kept riding to Edmonton. Cold, wet, tired, and hungry I stopped at the second motel I came to and got a room. $90 for a room, but it is warm and cozy. I guess I'm not that tough after all because I let a little thing like 34 degrees and rain keep me from seeking out camping options. Oh, and the lady at the front desk said there are tornado warnings for this area tonight and tomorrow.

So far I have kept to my schedule (except for camping) and have been cruising at a steady 72 mph. My only problem today has been doing the conversions in my head between kilometers and miles. It is important when figuring where the fuel stops are. I missed on the last one and had to stop and use my 2 1/2 gallon reserve. I'm not getting very good mileage with the Canadian gas for some reason.

It is beginning to become a great ride after settling into it. The bigger part of the adventure starts tomorrow when I go to Dawson Creek and head out on the AlCan Highway to Alaska. I plan on getting where I get to tomorrow and the only real plan is to enjoy the ride. I have to remember to stop at pull-outs and take more pictures than I took today, but stopping on the edge of the road in a pouring rain for a picture didn't sound like a good idea.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Better Riding on Day 2

First off my computer won't work at all. My cell hasn't got service either. No AT&T in Great Falls, Montana? Who would have thunk!

Today was the reason man made motorcycles. It was chilly, overcast, and just about perfect. The rain was scattered and light. The scenery was awesome and the roads were built with motorcycles in mind. Idaho had some great sights, but Montana is just spectacular! I made it to Great Falls and stopped at KOA to camp. $54? To ride through the mud and sleep in MY OWN tent and freeze? Motel 6 is $58 and was supposed to have free WiFi, but I need to use my network to access it. If I had access to my network I wouldn't need Motel 6. So, I'm frustrated with the computer issues that I thought I had taken care of. Today was a great day until I stopped and couldn't post what I wanted to post. I won't let that ruin the great day it was. So, this will be touching on yesterdays ride.

It seems that yesterday was a product of the anticipation and build up of getting out of town. It took a turn on Saturday when I broke a grease zert on Piggy. Easy enough to fix, but it didn't seem to be taking grease after that. So, I did an old fashioned bearing pack and found that neither bearing had enough grease from the Spring Break ride. Breaking that was a good thing in hind sight.

I was my own worst enemy on Sunday morning. I didn't put up the tongue stand and when I drove out of the driveway it ripped it out of the support. I finally noticed it when I stopped for gas before leaving town. When a guy does something this dumb he has to tell on himself. Next I stopped in Cordes Junction to check the trailer ball under the lights after some miles. I stopped and the bike was on a down hill slant and I was uncomfortable with that so I turned it around. Everything checked out great. But, I had put Petunia on her center stand and I couldn't push her off of it going up hill. I had to go inside the gas station and ask the attendant to come and help me. Two dumb mistakes in the first hour of the trip.

The weather played a part in making day one a day to forget. It was wet and cold. I really am not much of a cold weather kind of guy. So I had to ride slower and that added to the frustration of the day. It finished it off when I couldn't post to the blog. Tired, grumpy, and couldn't blog the story.

Day 2 was a great riding day and I at least got to post something here tonight. Tomorrow it is into Canada. I should get to Edmonton, Alberta to spend the night. That is if they let me across the border. I did take a few pictures today, but need to remember to stop and take lots of pictures. Today I saw a lot of deer and a few elk. In the next few I should see some caribou and bears. If I do, I hope to get pictures, so it isn't just a story.

Get Away Day

The anticipation is over and it is time to ride. It was a great day to ride. Great if you like rain, hail, snow, and 30 mile an hour wind. And that was just the good stuff.

My virus protection system has my computer acting funny. It won't allow me access the net. That is just one of the problems that I hope to overcome today, Monday, and hope it is a better day than yesterday.

I'll hopefully post more later this afternoon. This ride can't just be the anticipation leading up to it. I won't let it!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

North to Alaska

It has been a long time coming, but now, finally, it is only three days away. I woke up early today and made reservations for my stay in Fairbanks and Anchorage. I will spend two days in Fairbanks and four in Anchorage. I've been tracking the weather for the past month and it might be raining next week, so I opted to book a bed in a Hostel. I have never stayed in a Hostel before, but it just adds to the adventure. Well that and $25 for a bed at a Hostel or $135 for Motel 6 made it easier to decide. I was going to book KOA spots in Fort Bridger, Wyoming and Great Falls, Montana, but instead I will chance that they won't be full when I get there. This morning it is 37 with rain in Fort Bridger and the expected high is only 50. Hopefully there won't be an abundant number of people who think camping in those conditions is a great idea.

The new swivel ball arrived yesterday and it looks good and works just as advertised. I will carry the other ball just in case, but this one feels substantial. The ball pivots on a pin that appears to be a pressed fit on each end. As the picture shows Petunia could lay on her side and Piggy would still be on her wheels. I hope to never prove that theory.

After school today I am having a new rear tire installed. I will put a few miles on it before I leave just in case. I also got a new set of tires to be installed after I get back from this trip. Petunia is getting about 9,500 miles on a rear tire and I should just exceed that in the next 30 days. The current Metzler on the front has 16,000 and has plenty left for this trip. I just wish the rear wore as well.

I have also amended my summer plans a bit. I checked the new school calendar and find that I can make a Sturgis run this year. So I have reservations for six days of fun and sights in the wild, wooley world of Sturgis Bike Week. Should be an exciting way to conclude a great summer of riding and adventure.

Is it really three days before I can leave?