Ride For Peace Of Mind - The Arctic And Beyond...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ElGringo, May 17, 2008.

  1. ElGringo

    ElGringo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    492
    Location:
    Purgatory
    5/4/2008

    Planning for an Alaska run started well over a year ago. Initially the plan was to go in 2007, but many friends asked that I postpone so they could go along. You should always do the right thing, so I pushed the trip a year.

    Now a year later, I find myself going solo after all. I guess this was not entirely unexpected. Getting such an extended leave is easier said than done. Plus, in one case not having a motorcycle can cause a problem. I can only do it because I bring my work with me, making this a working trip. Unfortunately, I’m not retired or independently wealthy, so that means if I’m not earning, I’m not riding.

    The basic plan is to travel north as far as I can go up in to Alaska. Than head east through northern Canada. Than down the eastern coast of the US, and finally back through the southern states and deserts. All this before the complexities of performing all business from the back of a motorcycle become formidable, and need to return. So how far will I be able to actually go? Well we'll see. Even the best laid out plans can disintegrate almost immediately. Last year, I had to return to LA after just a few days on the road. Major melt down.

    As the day of escape approaches there is a multitude of things that need to be done. First to deal with the Bavarian machine’s Achilles’ heel:

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    This stranded me on my Canada trip the previous year. This time I will bring a spare key ring.

    Of course need to add more armor.

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    I’ve dropped the machine before, I will do it again. Probably a lot.

    Extra power:

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    Wired my pelican case for power as well. Keeps everything charged up as I ride down the road:

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    An assortment of spare parts and more tools than I will hopefully ever need. Roughly 1/3 of my riding gear is in tools, repair, and spare parts. Four different ways of repairing a flat, including an inner tube. Hopefully all this extra gear wont be in vain as before.

    I also tried a new configuration on loading to see if I could make more space on the seat.

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    This piled a lot of the gear higher, and made my panniers, which I typically keep light much heavier. I’m not convinced that this is an improvement. I guess time will tell.

    Anticipation for this trip has been building for a long while. I can’t wait for that first juicy bug to smash itself again my wind screen.

    H
    #1
  2. Spicy McHaggis

    Spicy McHaggis Darth Peach's cracker...

    Joined:
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    Grand Haven, Michigan
    :lurk
    #2
  3. West Coast Mags

    West Coast Mags Parlor Snake

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    369
    Location:
    Buckeye, AZ
    So you're on the road now? Safe journeys looking forward to the report hoping to do something similar next year.
    #3
  4. indianscout

    indianscout A road to nowhere isn't a bad thing.

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
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    Location:
    Peoples Republic of Minnesota
    Sounds like fun! Good luck!:clap
    #4
  5. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    60,271
    Best wishes for a safe ride.. looks like you're ready to go :thumb

    :lurk
    #5
  6. ElGringo

    ElGringo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    492
    Location:
    Purgatory
    5/6/2008

    They say once you move to LA you never leave. Well I’ve never actually moved here, so I figure that doesn’t apply to me. And so I’m off, leaving the mega metropolis behind. Although even in my case, leaving was harder than anticipated. Original plans called for a March departure, but now I find myself in May. Even as the tentative date approached, even that gets pushed. First Saturday, then Sunday, Monday, and finally Tuesday morning.

    And so I take off early Tuesday Morning. trying to bypass the morning commuter traffic. Grid lock can occur well before 6am, so I plan for a 4:30 am departure. Skip the coffee, and hit the road.

    The first leg of the trip is to visit my sister in Arizona. Instead of taking the Interstate the whole way, I took a more scenic route that parallels the 10 farther North through 29 Palms. Here are some pics of Joshua Tree:

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    And my first drop:

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    The bike is so tall, that I need to hop on board. I put my foot down on the other side and slid out. Once she started to fall, there was no stopping her, and down she went. Doh!

    Once I made it to Arizona, I ran into some weather. I'm running TKCs and this would be the first test in the rain. Not nearly as sure footed as the Metzler’s, but they did ok.

    Made it to my sister’s, and hung with the family for a few days.

    H
    #6
  7. ElGringo

    ElGringo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    492
    Location:
    Purgatory
    5/11/2008

    Today I decided to return to LA. Im really unhappy with my new gear configuration. It’s a real pain to deal with. Plus, there are few business things that needed to be attended to, and most importantly it's Mother's Day. So I decide to go back to LA, and surprise my mom. Ill just take a different route North. Not a big deal.

    I took the most direct route on the interstates the whole way. Nothing positive to say about taking interstates, so Ill leave it at that.

    Make it back in record time, and surprised mom. She was very happy. Such the good son.

    H
    #7
  8. ElGringo

    ElGringo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    492
    Location:
    Purgatory
    5/13/2008

    It seems that every trip I take, there is at least one false start. This trip is no exception.

    I reconfigured the bike to what has worked in the past. I’ve read a lot about weight management, and I find myself in disagreement. I’ve read that the heaviest things should be placed low in your panniers. I guess that makes sense, but if your panniers get too heavy, I notice a pendulum effect in the twisties. You'll enter a turn, and the weight in the panniers seem to give you a little jolt as they sway. I noticed that if I keep the panniers lighter, roughly 75% of their max load, they are almost unnoticeable. Instead I put the really heavy stuff low in the bag that goes across the passenger seat. This balances the bike very nicely.

    Here I am all loaded up and ready for the road:

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    The fastest way to got out of the city for me is to take the Harbor Fwy north and go straight through downtown. Sounds strange going toward the city center to escape the city, but only 20 minutes after that you are on the famous Angeles Crest Hwy, where many riders test their skills (or lack of) on that curvy road.

    One last look at the city of angels:

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    This road connects to the Angeles Forest Hwy and then you end up in the Antelope Valley. Here you’ll find Palmdale the jewel of the high desert (I hope you sense the sarcasm) Thirty minutes or so later, you find yourself in the town of Mojave. Tradition dictates that I must stop at Graziano’s and get some lunch. Now the trip can truly begin.

    First stop up the 395 is Onion Valley, another traditional stop for me.

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    The campground at altitude is closed, and the one lower is completely deserted. So I have the place to myself. Bounced between 3 spots before I found the perfect one.

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    Tried to stay up late, but I was wiped. Hit the sack early, and was out like a light.

    H
    #8
  9. ElGringo

    ElGringo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    492
    Location:
    Purgatory
    5/14/2008

    After breaking camp in Onion Valley, I headed toward Bishop. The plan was to find a library with wifi, and do the day's business. Riding the 395 North in the morning is nice. This is a commute I can get used to. The majestic Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains on your left provides ample eye candy for the straight road.

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    I stopped at a rest stop to attend to the morning's other business, and was immediately approached by a forestry worker. Seems he's been planning on doing a mega ride himself, and inquires about the bike. He's concerned about all the electronics. So I tell him about my cool EWS error adventure that left me stranded. He's horrified, but I tell him “that what's its all about”. Good times in the middle of nowhere. Fond memories of that mishap. Although I pray it never happens again.

    I continue on to Bishop, and stop in at a coffee shop to get a caffeine fix, and talk with the locals. Turns out the library doesn't open for a bit, so I need to kill some time. Met a dude that was riding a KLR. He mentioned that he knew a guy that converted them to diesels. Now wouldn’t that be the ultimate machine? But it seems to me that would be kind of heavy. He swears the weight gain is negligible. Well I think Ill need to see this before I believe him 100% There was a British tourist there as well. He was amazed at how few diesel cars we have in the states. After that conversation went into bashing biodiesel and hydrogen.

    It turned out that library did not have wifi, so I went to another coffee house and setup shop. This time I stayed to myself. There was work to be done.

    After lunch I hit the road, and continued up the 395.

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    I visited the Bodie ghost time. This is a must stop for anyone visiting the area. Here are some pics:

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    The interiors of the buildings are completely frozen in time. Here is my first attempt at trying to shoot the interior through the windows:

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    Then I noticed if I hold the lens against the glass you can get some decent pics.


    The Bar:

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    The health club:

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    Funeral Parlor:

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    Mercantile:

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    Automotive Workshop:

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    Bodie Hotel:

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    The School House:

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    This place was so amazing, I could have spent the whole day there. Ive been to ghost towns before, but nothing like this. Everywhere you turned was something new frozen in time.

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    Afterwards I headed to Bridgeport to find some lodging. Decided to get a hotel, so I could do some catch up. (this report for example) But first food and drink. Hit the neighborhood bar and joined in a lively discussion on politics with the locals. Seems wherever you go, the presidential race is always being discussed. There was a very talkative feminist at the bar as well, letting everyone know how she felt about everything. I decided to mix it up a bit, and mentioned that I thought Hilllary radiated evil. Wow, what a response that got. "Im only saying that because she's female, and you're a man" etc. But what happened next, was classic. Everyone in the bar started telling Hillary jokes. No holds barred. Some were quite crude, but very funny.

    H
    #9
  10. jaredinbend

    jaredinbend blah, blah, blah

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Oddometer:
    55
    Location:
    Star Idaho
    i agree she is evil:evil but i also agree i could have spent a week in the ghost town, and to think it's only the beging of your trip, kept up the great reports some of us live vicariously through lucky people like you.:cry
    #10
  11. Spicy McHaggis

    Spicy McHaggis Darth Peach's cracker...

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Grand Haven, Michigan
    Man, those ghost town pictures are UNREAL!!!

    What's the story behind Bodie???
    #11
  12. ElGringo

    ElGringo Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Purgatory
    Bodie is an old gold mining town that started around 1859. A big deposit of gold was discovered around the 1870's and it became a big boom town. This is a must see place. I kick myself for not have gone their before. Ive passed it so many times going up the 395.

    Im on the road, and thanks everyone for your safe travel wishes. Hope to see you all on the road.

    Now Ill try to get this report up to date.

    H
    #12
  13. ElGringo

    ElGringo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    492
    Location:
    Purgatory
    5/15/2008

    I continued up the 395, and took the Monitor Pass. I didn’t expect any of the mountain passes to be open, so this was a pleasant surprise. Only the Tioga that passes through Yosemite was closed.

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    From there it was to Lake Tahoe.

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    I was hoping to find a campground near there, but it seemed everything was still closed for the season. The campgrounds that were open, were nothing more than parking lots next to the road. Not good.

    I continued on passed Truckee and finally found a great camp next to a river.

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    Met a guy in an RV who was panning for gold in the area. Seems that this was gold country. He didn’t recommend eating too many of the fish from the streams here because of mercury contamination. He claimed that he knew quite a few people that still used mercury in their quest for riches. In fact the day I arrived at the camp, the drinking water had not been tested, and it was not recommended to drink.

    H
    #13
  14. ElGringo

    ElGringo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    492
    Location:
    Purgatory
    5/16/2008

    The campground was so nice, I decided to stay an extra night. I headed into Truckee to get some work done at the local library, and then hung out with the camp host. He was a really nice guy and told me about how the campground system had become privatized and why that was such a bad thing. Seemed that the smaller campgrounds that only have water and restrooms and can be found through out the national forests, are not profitable for the corporations. They want them shut down. This would then force everyone to camp in the more expensive high end campgrounds that have all the amenities.

    In the evening, I had some fun with long exposures:

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    I debated most of the night if I should stay another night, but the road was calling, and I had to move on. Seeing dozens of motorcycles ride by helped in this decision. This campground was one of the best Ive been too. Good location, good people, and not too crowded. Will stop here again in the future.

    H
    #14
  15. duhgee

    duhgee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Guelph, ON
    Sounds like a great trip - an amazing bike, the right mentality, beautiful weather, and an ideal route. I can't wait to read more - your pictures and narrative are fantastic.
    :clap
    #15
  16. NikonVT

    NikonVT Gettin Bruced Again

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    2,451
    Location:
    Lakes Region, NH
    I have to agree. Awesome pics. I've never seen anything like that before.
    #16
  17. screwit

    screwit One more time

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    850
    Location:
    New Mexico (yes it is a State)
    I'll be watching this one. Ride Safe
    #17
  18. White6Romeo

    White6Romeo Sectum Sempre

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    421
    Location:
    New York
    Looks like an amazing trip so far. Its gotta be nice to be out of that smog filled metropolis and out in the clear air. When are you planning on getting to Alaska, if at anytime since you have the right Adventure attitude and just taking things in stride (smart move). If you get up to Fairbanks Ill buy you a round. Hell if your up here around the end of June I will ride back to Cali with you. Later.
    #18
  19. Drowsy Dave

    Drowsy Dave Square Peg, No Hole

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
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    1,284
    Location:
    Middle seat on the Astral Plane.
    This looks like it's going to be great. Looking forward to more.:lurk
    #19
  20. ElGringo

    ElGringo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Oddometer:
    492
    Location:
    Purgatory
    Thanks everyone for your replys. Im planning on making the D2D in Dawson City, and then will head in to Alaska from there.

    Squoose: Ill take you up on that offer. Im not one to turn down a brew.

    Now back to the report.

    H
    #20