Saturday, June 30, 2012

Riding to Butte - Very Hot!

I left Lewiston, ID. at 8:00 am. On the way, out of town, I took a photo of the Snake River. The summer, I played baseball in Lewiston, several of us ball players, rented rafts from an Army/Navy Surplus Store - and rafted from the Snake River Canyon (up in mountains) approximately 15 miles - down to the Lewiston/Clarkston beaches. That was great fun - many rapids! Unfortunately, we all got sun burnt - and the Team Manager, fined us $50.00 each - when we arrived at the ballpark, that night. Oh Well!
The ride to Montana was beautiful - many motorcycles, were out enjoying the day. It was very hot - many stops, for water. The uneventful day, ended at Butte, Montana - 350 miles ridden. Tomorrow, I will have bigger day and get near Sturgis, SD.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Lewiston, ID./ Clarkston WA. - "Juice" & "Texas John"

This morning, I crossed the Snake River, from Lewiston, Idaho into (twin town) Clarkston, Washington. That is because "Juice's High Performance - Hells Canyon Custom Motorcycle Shop" is located there. My appointment was at 10:30 am. When talking with "Juice", the previous afternoon; he mentioned a spot, I should try for breakfast (near his shop) - called "Grumpy's". I landed at Grumpy's at 9:15 and had a "great breakfast" - bacon & eggs, rye toast and coffee. I got to Juice's shop, shortly after 10:00. What a "great" bike shop. It is co-located, on the same property, as his residence - a large shop, broken into rooms for specific functions i.e. an engine room; a welding room, for repairs & custom work, etc.. As Juice says: "He's never late for work, 'cause he's always there!" Juice runs a two (2) man operation - "Juice" (Owner/Mechanic) and "Texas John" (Mechanic). They are "Old School". Did I say, in an earlier "Blog Post" that I liked "Old School?" I'm sure, I must have. I seek out businesses, like "Juice's", to spend my money. Businesses, where the "Owner" is a hands-on expert; who is passionate, about what the business is about. Businesses, like Juice's, add value to the customer experience i.e. I can walk around; see what they're doing; ask questions; pour myself a coffee - and in general, make myself at-home. Very Enjoyable! There are no hidden service charges or add-ons, to surprise you - when the bill arrives. Just the "meat & potatoes" of what was done/charged - & in layman's terms. Businesses, I stay clear of are those - with many departments of bureaucracy; buck passing and no accountability. You know, the companies solely interested in - grabbing the cash.
At the outset, "Juice" explained, what his "full service package" entailed (and recommended, I have it done). He stated his labour charges, and if there was nothing too strange - how much the job would cost. Both he, and "Texas John", were more than willing to answer, my many questions. The job entailed getting three (3) oils changed - engine/filter; transmission and primary; installing a new, rear tire/tube. "Texas John" did most of the work - including adjusting/lubricating the cables; cleaning the air filter (I had done it, a week ago, in Fairbanks, but it was dirty again, from the Yukon dust.) Thanks, "Juice & Texas John" for fitting me in with such short notice. You guys are "1st Class!"
Before I left, I showed them "" and "1 eye's blog" and discussed the charities, I was promoting. I also showed them the links, to the various sites - including "Cole's Journey." I could see, these rugged guys - were genuinely touched by this! . . . Biker's have "Big Hearts"! . . . "Juice", told me of the "charity runs", he and his buddies have organized & taken part in. Keep up the "Good Deeds!"
After pictures & hand shakes, I was off, looking for "reminders" of the Lewiston I knew, forty-one (41) years ago. It wasn't to be! The situation I found myself in, was similar to Coos Bay. OR.. I asked people; I went to the Library. An interested Librarian, got me a book from the archives - on the recent History of Lewiston. Nothing, was in it about their "pro baseball club". The Librarian. also called her neighbor; a real baseball enthusiast - but he wasn't home, She left him my cell# - he hasn't called yet. I then rode downtown, looking for the set-back stores, restaurants - & angle parking, I remembered. It had all changed! I felt like I was in different town - via a time-machine!
Lewiston Broncs were only in the Northwest League - till 1974. I was here in 1971. They had the notoriety of being, the "smallest town" to have had a pro baseball team. Since, the ball stadium - and any evidence, of my Lewiston baseball experience were gone; I took a picture of a "little league" park, I passed. I thought - this might dampen, my yearning, for Lewiston baseball memories! ... It didn't!
Tomorrow, I will leave for the "Crazy Horse Memorial", Sturgis, SD. & home.
I just heard a motorcycle outside - it's "Texas John", on his chopper. He lives near my motel & invited me to his house. Group picture ("Texas John", me & "Juice"), "Juice's, Hells Canyon Custom Motorcycle Shop" and a Little league Park. Also some pictures at "Texas John's" place. Several of his friends came by. Thanks for the hospitality!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Solo Rider "Rad Girl" - Then Lewiston

Today, I left Pincher Creek, AB. at 7 am. Soon, I was back into the mountains, of British Columbia and riding thru the Crowsnest Pass. Very beautiful scenery! The U.S./ Idaho border cross was uneventful - not too many tourists! Shortly after I crossed the border, I met yet another "Solo" biker. This motorcycle - pulled along side me; in stop & go traffic - due to bridge construction. The biker, was riding a BMW 650GS (dual sport), and from a brief discussion - was returning home - from Alaska to California. If you ladies (reading this blog), think only men ride "solo" (& to Alaska); think again. "You All", now have a CRAZY "role model", to look up to! She also, has done "the Dalton" - one mentally tough women! She goes by the handle "RAD GIRL" - on her license plate. I found out the "real reason" for her nickname - "Rad Girl" -when we stopped at a Service Station - up the road. She works in a Medical Clinic - as a Radiologist, thus the short form "Rad". Her real name is Cynthia. I told her, my ride was to promote "Cancer awareness" - for 3 Cancers. She said: "She had recently lost her brother to "colon cancer" and was finding it difficult - coping with the loss"". In her job, she deals with mostly cancer patients. It's a small world!
Anyways, when she asked about my trip; where I'd been, etc, etc - I said: "I was on the down side of 12,000 miles -and, also had been to Prudhoe Bay, AK." (This is the funny part.) On her way back down - in Smithers, BC., she met other bikers, who had been on "the Dalton". They mentioned  / & couldn't believe, seeing a Harley ElectraGlide (Dresser) - on "the Dalton". They even said "It was green & very dirty - and would take days to clean!" They couldn't believe it! They were still talking about it, in Smithers, BC.! She said: "You are THAT guy"! I didn't know, whether to feel "proud" or to book myself into the nearest "Mental Institution". I said to her, what I have said before; "If it's not in your "comfort zone" - Don't do it""! Cynthia, understood, exactly what I meant. We took some pictures; hugged and told each other - to keep the shiny side up! Another, "solo rider" memory. We are a "unique breed". Soon after, Lewiston appeared. Tomorrow, I have an appointment - for an "oil change, rear brake pads and rear tire". Also, I will check out Lewiston, ID. Pictures include "Crowsnest Pass, BC.", "Lewiston, ID & Snake River" and "Rad Girl".

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Windy Day - In Alberta

I left Edmonton, at 9 am, heading for Lewiston, Idaho. It was very windy - the wind, coming from the west; me going south. I was riding on an angle - leaning into the wind. When I passed big vehicles or bridges; the motorcycle would dart 3 - 4 feet to the right. Some of the larger gusts, would cause this effect, also. The extra concentration & strength required, made me fatigued - sooner than usual. I only did 320 miles; & ended the day at Pincher Creek, AB.. While doing a "circle check", I noticed, my rear tire is just about worn out - I will have to get it replaced, when I get the oil changed, in Idaho. Tomorrow, I should get to Lewiston. No pictures today.

A Familiar Face - Fireman Chris

This morning, I had a short ride to Edmonton, AB. - to family friend, Chris Davies' home. He is an Edmonton Firefighter; and didn't have to report for duty - till 4 pm. Chris, and my son Bill have been best friends - since High School. Chris's parents, Penny and Larry, are also friends of the family. It sure was nice, to see Chris; we had a good chat. I also made use of his washing machine - as I hadn't done laundry, since Fairbanks, AK. (last Thursday). After lunch, we ran a few errands, in Chris's brand new "fire engine red" Dodge Ram 4X4. I bought a new shirt; to replace a tattered one - and just relaxed. Very enjoyable! Chris's dog, Molly, (a 2 yr old chocolate lab) took quite a shine to me - lab's are like that. Later on, I washed my, very dirty motorcycle and went to Chris's Fire Hall - for a tour and meet the guys. I hadn't been to a Fire Station, since I was six (6) years old. The Fireman were making supper, while Chris gave me the tour. They graciously asked me to join them - for barbecued ribs/potatoes and all the trimmings. Hard to resist such an offer, but I was still full from lunch. I had a coffee. Outside, a thunderstorm was brewing - THEN, the alarm sounded; the Fire Fighters were in action! They immediately got up - and very quickly, headed to their respective trucks - and were gone in no time, with sirens blaring. I was impressed, both, with their professionalism and their sense of duty! Chris, was the driver, of one of the "Pumper Trucks". Fire fighting is a game of milliseconds - lives are at stake! They told me to wait at the Station - till they got back. I grabbed a Reader's Digest and relaxed in a lounge chair - the hot food, left on the table - starting to smell pretty good! I resisted! I was alone, in a Fire Station. It felt kinda weird! In about 25
minutes they returned - sat back down; finished their supper - business as usual, to them! The alarm, turned out to be, an apartment building false alarm - caused by the thunderstorm. You never know! It was great to meet and talk with the Firemen. They asked me questions, about my trip and the associated charities, I'm promoting. Tomorrow, I'm back on the road; heading south, towards Idaho. Thanks Chris, for the hospitality. You are a "great" guy & Fire Fighter! Pictures of Chris, Molly & the guys.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back To Civilization

Sunday & yesterday, I rode thru the rest of the Yukon Territory and northern BC. Very limited cell service. I'm catching up, on my blogging near Edmonton AB.. On Sunday, Rodrigo, left Watson Lake early - wanting to get to Dawson Creek, BC. by day's end (500+miles). Rodrigo rides a BMW 1200GS. Those are the "ultimate" in "Adventure Motorcycles" - the same one, "Sarge" & I tried to catch, on "the Dalton"; no chance! I knew, I would only hold him back - besides Harley's and BMW's don't see "eye to eye"! I left, half an hour later - after a "motel room coffee"; my regular routine - when there's a coffee maker in the room. I rode from Watson Lake, Yukon, to just north of Fort St. John, BC. (450 miles). It rained the entire afternoon - so hard, I had to take my glasses off, to see! I saw a lot of animals - including wild horses, many bison, a grisly, a mountain goat, a mother moose & calf, and many deer. I got many of them on video - not so many, on my cell-camera. There was little traffic; a rather unassuming, day - with great scenery.
Yesterday, the traffic picked up considerably - a lot of trucks and RV's; mostly heading north. I'm glad, I started my adventure north, in early June - with the exception, of the bad weather. I guess, you can't have everything! Even though the mountains are amazing, it was nice to ride in the Alberta foothills and then the prairies. It rained a little in the morning - but nothing like Sunday. Today, I will spend the day/night in Edmonton, visiting a family friend. Pictures - more great scenery, wild horses & Sarge sent me some pictures, of what I was missing in Dawson.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rugged Yukon - Another Biker

Yesterday (Saturday), started with a bran muffin and coffee - at 9 o'clock in the morning. I had intended to get up early - get a good start - and do 600 miles. I quickly changed to plan "B" - get up late and do 400 miles. A "biker" has to be adaptable & flexible! Also, the benefits of traveling solo.
Once underway, with the cobwebs cleared, I enjoyed the spectacular landscape of the Yukon Territory. There was much construction & dust - but no rain; just blue skies. I can't complain - compared with the rain & cold, a couple of weeks ago. I saw, where the road had been washed-out - with trees and debris piled high, along the sides. Mother nature, sure can take her toll!
It was a day - to daydream. There was virtually no traffic. That, together with the spectacular scenery, created a "perfect storm" - for one's mind to wander. The road construction, interrupted my thoughts - which was probably a good thing. I better stay focused on the task at hand!
After Whitehorse, a motorcycle - went speeding past. Not uncommon for me, as I don't run over 70mph. Anyways, after about an hour, I noticed the same motorcycle - going slow. I passed and thought nothing of it. JUST then, I had to stop for construction - one lane of traffic. The bike pulled up beside me. He had just run out of fuel! He said "the last two gas stations were closed!" I gave him some gas - he would make it to the next fuel stop. Incidentally, it was just over the hill - how ironic! I carried on. It was about 8:30 pm - time to get lodging. In Watson Lake, Yukon, the prices were $100/night. I checked several - most had "No Vacancy". That was too expensive! I better get the tent out. Then, as luck would have it - Rodrigo (the biker who I helped with fuel) appeared - he had found a room - and was looking for food. We would share his room - what a deal! I escaped tenting, again! Isn't it funny how good deeds come back! Thank You, Rodrigo! Incidentally, Rodrigo is from Brazil & has also just completed the "Dalton Run - to Prudhoe Bay." He is on his way home to California. Below are some pictures of the great scenery , a couple of Whitehorse miners (bikers) + Rodrigo & I.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Good Bye, Alaska

This morning, at 8 am, I packed up and headed south from Fairbanks, AK. - towards the Yukon border. Last night, I elected to go to bed, rather than attend the "24 hours of daylight" midnight baseball game. I guess, the "old body" is still a little tired, from "the Dalton". I did, however, read about the game - in the Fairbanks newspaper - while eating breakfast. It is an annual event, which draws a lot of excitement.
On the road again, it felt kind of strange, riding solo. In a day or so, it will be old hat. "Bessy" is running great - I cleaned her air filter yesterday; it got plugged on the dusty roads! I made it as far as Beaver Creek, Yukon today. I have 1500 miles to go, till Edmonton. I'll get a good start in the morning and try to knock 600 miles off. I will be riding on new (to me) roads, after Haines Junction. This section of road, between Haines Junction and Watson Lake - which includes Whitehorse - was missed on the way up, due to road closures; from flooding/washouts. All roads are open now, but aren't 100%. It could be slow going - but I won't be needing the ferry!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The "Dalton Hwy" - One Extreme Riding Experience, Accomplished!

Yesterday afternoon, Sarge & I completed the Dalton Hwy ride - back to Fairbanks, AK.....Hoo-ray!!!....
The first leg of our return trip - Prudhoe Bay to Coldfoot, AK. - on Tuesday - began late in the morning, since I'd signed up for the "Arctic Ocean tour". It involved passing thru tight security, as it would take us into the "oil fields". The tour was excellent - the guide was a native Inuit. The tour detailed the history of oil exploration in Prudhoe Bay - dating back to the early 1960's. The early years were very difficult - with no amenities. Definitely a pioneering spirit. I saw the first oil rig and the magnitude of the entire operation. If you go there, it is a definite "must see". Of course, my hi-lite was touching the water - of the Arctic Ocean. No I didn't jump in! There was still a lot of ice - little open water. Polar bears frequent Prudhoe Bay from the ice - a weekly occurrence - none this morning, though. I noticed, our Inuit tour guide didn't like the warm weather - he wore only a "Security" uniform; no coat; he had his window down and the a/c on. The temperature was 50•F. A scorcher for him! We had to ask him to turn the a/c off. The tour was to take 1 1/2 hrs. It ended up 2 1/2 hrs. Well worth it though!
At 11:45, I found Sarge at the Hotel and we headed south down the Dalton. The ride was worse than the day before - riding up. Just before we reached the Brooks Range, things went from bad to worse.

 A twenty-five mile stretch, consisted of 2 to 4 inch boulders; then came a stretch of some smaller stones - we sped up to 45 - 50 mph. Then out of nowhere, what seemed like a smooth surface (so we gassed it) was in fact wet slag/sandy gravel 3 - 6 inches thick. Sarge, who was ahead, went out of control; fish-tailed and slowed rapidly. Me, with the much heavier motorcycle was overtaking him, but similarly fishing-tailing/out-of-control. I came about a foot, from crashing into his bike. A truck that was barreling down on us, passed us on the right - we lucked out! Once at Coldfoot, we new the worst was behind us.
A Moment of Reflection back at Fairbanks, AK.
On Wednesday morning, we began the final leg south, at 8:30 am; a little stiff from the previous days calisthenics. Today, we would take it easy; have a nice quiet ride - you know, like on a Sunday afternoon. That didn't last long! Sarge - the burly Bulgarian - being the "loud, boisterous, competitive type", didn't like the way a BMW 1200GS went past us. We were after him - "like a hungry dog on a T -Bone!" No, of course, we didn't catch him - but no other motorcycles passed us, either. Sarge was quick to point that out, at days end. You've got to love that "fighting spirit"! As I had mentioned, in an earlier blog post, many people (both bikers, non-bikers & construction workers alike) would ask - why I (we) would take this type of motorcycle on the Dalton. I would simply say - "because it's the motorcycle I ride". Many of the bikers, on the Dalton owned Harley's/cruisers but purchased/rented "Enduro type" motorcycles for the run. I said: "It's probably the right thing, for them to do - since a 500 lb. bike is much easier to handle and lift up (if it goes down) than a 1000 lb. Harley". Simply said: "In life, if something isn't in your comfort zone - "Don't Do It"". Something WILL go wrong! We are all different, and being different, does not mean one is better or braver than the next. We're just different; that's all! "And that's what makes this world so "unique""! Today, I will rest, wash clothes and get ready for the next leg of my journey. And yes, it is time to say "goodbye" to "Sarge" aka Milen Dimitrov. Even though we have only known one another twelve days - we have a unique bond. We conquered the Dalton together - on "Harley's". Good-bye my FRIEND !
Good-Bye Sarge - till we ride again!
At the Arctic Ocean - Prudhoe Bay, AK.
Arctic Tundra on "the Dalton".
You done GOOD, Bessy!
Highlight - Touching the water of the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay!
"The Dalton"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The "Dalton Hwy" - Coldfoot; Then Prudhoe Bay - 492 Miles

This certainly is a very challenging ride; we're half done. We'll head back to Fairbanks tomorrow morning, after the "Arctic Ocean Tour". Just 492 miles to go. We'll do it in two days - as before.
Yesterday, we made it as far as Coldfoot camp - the halfway point to Prudhoe Bay. It serves as a work camp for the Dalton Road construction workers in summer - with buffet style restaurant, fuel and lodging. In the winter, it is only a fuel stop. Coldfoot, initially was part of the surrounding "gold mining" community at the turn of the 20th century.
Dirty "Bessy the 3rd"
1st defining moment on "the Dalton"
The ride from Fairbanks to Coldfoot was wet for the first 50 miles - then it was beautiful the rest of the way. It got quite warm too - 75•F. Fifty-five miles south of Coldfoot is the Arctic Circle - we stopped there for pictures and chatted with others - similarly proud of their accomplishment. When we arrived at Coldfoot, we were very tired. The 240 miles of poor road conditions gave us quite a workout. The Dalton Hwy consists of: soft muddy sections, loose gravel, big stones, crushed rock & small boulders. Some of it was paved, but winter's extreme frost had got the better of it and it had heaved - with soft spots everywhere. Road construction was running 24/7 (two 12 hr shifts) - to get it repaired. From discussions with several construction workers awaiting shift change, it is a never ending, losing battle. Many trucks too! Rocks flying everywhere - very dangerous! Many of the workers, rallied around Sarge and I. They don't see road bikes like ours, up there. One husky 6'4" truck driver, with long hair, insisted we go over to his table, so we could meet his friends. He introduced us by saying: "These guys are REAL bikers". Everyone at the table stood and shook our hand. We felt honored, I guess! They also identified some particularly bad sections of the road to watch out for - saying the next 252 miles were much worse. Very helpful, I suppose, but to us, it all seemed bad.

By 7:45 this morning, we were back on the road again - heading north to Prudhoe Bay. Twenty miles up the road, we found the construction gang - working a 20 mile section, with one interrupted lane of traffic. As we passed, the truckers and heavy equipment operators had big smiles and were waving. It felt good to be accepted by these hearty souls - we were out there with them, against the elements. Yes, as we went further north the roads did deteriorate. Sarge took a rock off the bridge of his nose, from an oncoming truck - his windshield isn't as high as mine. Luckily, his protective glasses lessened the blow! He still had to stop and collect himself & check the damage. A nice lump on the side of his nose. He will survive!
We saw many animals, including a grisly bear, a moose, many musk oxen, and many caribou. The tundra surrounded us; the Brooks Mountain Range was cold, with snow - but no road closure; we lucked out!

Upon our arrival this afternoon at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel (also a work camp/lodging facility), we were greeted by workers on shift change - to the oil fields. They commented that ours were the first Harley's they had seen there. We were very tired - the motorcycles very dirty. Our tires quite worn, but will last. We will eat and rest now.

Arrival at Prudhoe Bay, AK
Sarge at Pump Station #4 - Alaskan Pipeline

Photo taken just north of Fairbanks, AK
Turn of Century Lodging at Coldfoot, AK.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Departing for "The Dalton Hwy" & Fathers Day

It is 6am in Fairbanks and I'm getting ready to pack the motorcycle for Prudhoe Bay - via the "Dalton Hwy". For the record, Milen & (Sarge) are one in the same. I nicknamed him Sarge - the loud, burley Bulgarian with a big heart. There had been some confusion from my readers that Sarge was a third rider.
Photo taken in 1960 of Dad & I going for a bike ride. 
Anyways, today is Father's Day - so "Happy Father's Day" to all of you fathers. I'm hoping my '93 year old father "Jack" has a great day as well! It will be a difficult day for dad, as my mother passed - a year ago today. They had been married for 65 years. We miss her, Dad especially! "Happy Father's Day" Dad!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

North To Alaska - and "The Dalton Hwy"

Friday morning, we awoke to more rain! After eating the remainder of the bread & canned meat - leftover from the ferry - and having a coffee, we headed north to Fairbanks, AK.. The Alaskan border is just a few miles from Beaver Creek, Yukon. Even though we had been in Alaska the previous day, this seemed more exciting; being in Alaska - via the Alaskan Highway - the way it was meant to be. It was about 300 miles to Fairbanks. We would be there in the afternoon. The weather improved and became quite warm (70* F). In Fairbanks, Sarge and I parted ways - he to do his business. We will reconnect on Saturday afternoon, to prepare for the trip to Prudhoe Bay, AK. - via "The Dalton Hwy". We hope to depart Fairbanks early Sunday - weather permitting. I got a room at the University of Alaska (dorms) for two nights, washed my motorcycle and hunkered down for the night.
Sarge waving as we're getting ready leave Beaver Creek, Yukon for Alaska & "the Dalton".

Thursday, June 14, 2012

1:15 AM Comes Early - BRRRrrrrr !

This morning, we departed the ferry at Haines, AK and headed north - towards the BC border. It was about 42• F. After about 40 miles we came to a stop. The border was barricaded - it wouldn't open till 7 am. We had 4 hours to wait. Time to get some rest. With no place to go (in the middle of nowhere) we laid down on the pavement and slept. It wasn't bad & no rain. When we cleared Canada Customs, it got very cold (33• F) - as we rose into the mountains. Snow was everywhere and deep. We ended the day at Beaver Creek, Yukon. My partner "Sarge" was frozen. I fared much better. We came across many bikers doing the "Iron Butt - Ultimate Coast to Coast Ride" - from Key West, Florida to Prudhoe Bay, AK. There was Howard, Brad, Jerry & a family of three with a motorcycle/side car (dad, mom and 6 year old daughter. All very mentally tough. Amazing! - see picture.

Alaska's Inner Passage

After securing our motorcycles, along side 8 other bikers - headed for various Alaskan destinations, we made some introductions and checked out the ferry. We decided not to get a cabin - instead, grab some "zeeeez" in the large (theater) TV room, furnished with comfy lounge chairs. We weren't alone. Others pitched tents on the upper deck - under a partial enclosure & a few hearty folks slept in the open, in sleeping bags. Pretty much anything goes. Once underway the scenery was. amazing. We grabbed a bite and prepared for a long 1 1/2 day journey.