TWO THUMPERS and a TWIN: NORTH CAROLINA to ALASKA

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JohnSnyder, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. JohnSnyder

    JohnSnyder Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    214
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    TWO THUMPERS and a TWIN: NORTH CAROLINA to ALASKA (June, July 2008)



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    THE BEGINNINGS:
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    My wife Ruth and I have taken two cruises to Alaska. We loved the cruising, and we loved the week-long land portion of the trip that the Princess Cruise Lines offered. Ever since those trips, I&#8217;ve wanted to return to Alaska to explore it in more depth.
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    As I planned the trip (in large part by trying to read every single Alaska trip account posted on ADVrider.com), I made special note of the route taken by each individual. I recorded all unique routes in MapSource. After copying about fifty routes, I created a master route which includes everyone&#8217;s highlights (at least those which are do-able for me!) A couple friends heard about my plan. Ray had planned on taking a 4-wheel trip to Alaska this summer with his wife, but he&#8217;d always wanted to do a motorcycle trip to the 49<sup>th</sup> state. His wife gave him permission to postpone their joint trip for a year, so he joined me. Later Doug heard about the trip planning. He had planned on three separate occasions to ride to Alaska, but on each occasion plans had fallen through. He&#8217;s hoping that the fourth time is a charm!
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    We&#8217;ve discussed things that have been known to cause problems between travelers &#8211; finances, camping vs. staying in motels, meals, how long we&#8217;re going to ride each day, etc., etc. We&#8217;ve decided that our priorities are to enjoy the trip and enjoy ourselves. Thus, our goal will be to ride about 300 miles a day, eat in restaurants, sleep in motels, stop as often as we want for pictures, and in the event of the likelihood of all day rain we&#8217;ll declare a day of rest! We will probably rotate roommates &#8211; with a different fellow each night enjoying a room to himself. Each of us has committed sufficient financial resources so that trip decisions shouldn&#8217;t have to be based on monetary concerns. Doug is a motorcycle mechanic, so his knowledge will be extremely valuable, I&#8217;m a medical doctor and I hope that my knowledge will be completely wasted, and Ray (the most experienced motorcycle tourer of the three of us) loves to find Mom and Pop restaurants in which to eat, so he&#8217;s in charge of that! We have CB radios with which to communicate. We&#8217;ve discussed what we might do if one or two of us want to do a side trip (feel free to do so, and I&#8217;ll meet you in a few days at the next stop). There&#8217;s a possibility that I may decide to stay a few weeks longer in Alaska than Ray and Doug, and everyone&#8217;s fine with that. I snore, Ray doesn&#8217;t, and I don&#8217;t know about Doug (but I guess we&#8217;ll all find out!)
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    THE DATE:
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    We will leave the Charlotte, NC area on June 14, 2008, trailering the bikes across the Midwest to Denver. We&#8217;ll begin the riding portion of our trip in Denver on the morning of June 17, 2008.
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    THE ROUTE:
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    Our planned route will take us north to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Glacier</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">National Park</st1:placetype></st1:place>. We&#8217;ll continue through <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Waterton</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Lakes</st1:placetype> <st1:placetype w:st="on">National Park</st1:placetype></st1:place> and <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Kananaskis County</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">AB</st1:state></st1:place> to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Banff</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">National Park</st1:placetype></st1:place>. We will ride up the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Icefields Parkway</st1:address></st1:street> to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Jasper</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">National Park</st1:placetype></st1:place>, then turn west on Highway 16 and ride through <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Prince George</st1:place></st1:city> to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Kitwanga</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">BC</st1:state></st1:place>. Here our route will turn north on Highway 37 (the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Cassair Highway</st1:address></st1:street>) to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Meziadin</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Lake</st1:placetype></st1:place> where we&#8217;ll turn west to visit Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK. When we return to the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Cassair Highway</st1:address></st1:street>, we ride north to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Dease</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Lake</st1:placetype></st1:place>, where we&#8217;ll make a southwesterly side trip to visit Telegraph Creek. Once again returning to the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Cassair Highway</st1:address></st1:street>, we&#8217;ll ride north to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Watson Lake</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">YT</st1:state></st1:place>.
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    From <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Watson</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Lake</st1:placetype></st1:place> in the <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Yukon</st1:place></st1:state>, we&#8217;ll ride northwest on the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Robert Campbell Highway</st1:address></st1:street> ( Highway 4) to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Ross</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">River</st1:placename></st1:place>. At <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Ross</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">River</st1:placename></st1:place> we turn north for a day on the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">North Canol Road</st1:address></st1:street> (listed as Highway 6, but more of a trail than a road, I&#8217;m told). Returning to the Robert Campbell highway, we&#8217;ll continue northwest to Carmacks where we&#8217;ll join Highway 2 to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Dawson</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">City</st1:placetype></st1:place>. Along the way, we may take a side trip north to Mayo and Keno Hill, and we&#8217;ll certainly take a side trip up the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Dempster Highway</st1:address></st1:street> (Highway 5) to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Chapman</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Lake</st1:placetype></st1:place>, and possibly up to <st1:place w:st="on">Inuvik</st1:place>. Leaving Dawson, we&#8217;ll ride over the Top of the World Highway (Highway 9) to Tetlin Junction, AK, with a possible side trip up the Taylor Highway (Highway 5) to Eagle, AK. From Tetlin Junction, we&#8217;ll continue on the <st1:place w:st="on">Alaska Highway</st1:place> (Highway 2) to Tok, Delta Junction and Fairbanks.
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    In <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Fairbanks</st1:place></st1:city>, we&#8217;ll ride the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Elliott Highway</st1:address></st1:street> (Highway 2) north to the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Dalton Highway</st1:address></st1:street> (Highway 11) and to the <st1:place w:st="on">Arctic Circle</st1:place> for the obligatory pictures. We may continue on to Deadhorse. Returning to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Fairbanks</st1:place></st1:city>, we may ride to the various hot springs before heading southwest on the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Parks Highway</st1:address></st1:street> (Highway 3) to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Denali</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">National Park</st1:placetype></st1:place>. We will continue south to Cantwell, where we&#8217;ll turn east and ride the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Denali Highway</st1:address></st1:street> (Highway 8) to Paxon. There we&#8217;ll turn south on the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Richardson Highway</st1:address></st1:street> (Highway 4) to Gakona Junction and continue on to Chitina, finally arriving at McCarthy in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Wrangell-St.</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">Elias</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">National Park</st1:placename></st1:place>. Returning to the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Richardson Highway</st1:address></st1:street>, we&#8217;ll continue to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Valdez</st1:place></st1:city>, where we&#8217;ll board a ferry for Seward.
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    From Seward, we ride north on Highway 9 until it joins the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Sterling Highway</st1:address></st1:street> (Highway 1). We&#8217;ll ride west to Kenai and south to Homer before retracing our steps and riding to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Anchorage</st1:place></st1:city>. From <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Anchorage</st1:place></st1:city> we plan to visit Friar Mike at Abbey Auto in Wasilla (he&#8217;s holding some tires for me). We plan to ride the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Fishhook Road</st1:address></st1:street> to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Hatcher</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Pass</st1:placetype></st1:place> and Independence Mine, and we also plan to ride up the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Parks Highway</st1:address></st1:street>, at least as far as Talkeetna.
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    Finally, leaving <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Anchorage</st1:place></st1:city> on our return trip, we&#8217;ll ride the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Glenn Highway</st1:address></st1:street> to Glennallen, and continue on Highway 1 (the Tok Cutoff) to Tok. From there, we&#8217;ll ride southeast on Highway 2 which will become Highway 1 which will become Highway 3 which will become Highway 7 to Haines, AK. The ferry will take us to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Skagway</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">AK</st1:state></st1:place>. We&#8217;ll leave <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Skagway</st1:place></st1:city> traveling north on Highway 98 which becomes Highway 2. We&#8217;ll join the <st1:place w:st="on">Alaska Highway</st1:place> (Highway 1), traveling north through <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Whitehorse</st1:place></st1:city>, joining Highway 2 to Carmacks. We will travel east on the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Robert Campbell Highway</st1:address></st1:street> to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Ross</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">River</st1:placename></st1:place>, where we&#8217;ll turn south on the <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">South Canol Road</st1:address></st1:street> (Highway 6) until it joins the <st1:place w:st="on">Alaska Highway</st1:place> at Johnsons Crossing. We may consider an optional side trip to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Atlin</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">BC</st1:state></st1:place> at this juncture.
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    Ultimately, we will continue east and south on the <st1:place w:st="on">Alaska Highway</st1:place> until we reach its origin in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Dawson Creek</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">BC</st1:state></st1:place>. We will return to Jasper National Park via Grande Prairie and Grande Cache, retracing our route down the Icefields Parkway, but south of Lake Louise turning west on Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park to Radium Hot Springs. We&#8217;ll continue on Highway 93 to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Elko</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">BC</st1:state></st1:place> where we&#8217;ll join Highway 3 east through <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Crowsnest</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Pass</st1:placetype></st1:place> and the location of the Frank Slide. We&#8217;ll return to the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">US</st1:place></st1:country-region> via <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Waterton</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Lakes</st1:placetype> <st1:placetype w:st="on">National Park</st1:placetype></st1:place> and <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Glacier</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">National Park</st1:placetype></st1:place>, riding the Going to the Sun Road one last time. We&#8217;ll pick a scenic route to return to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Denver</st1:place></st1:city>, where we&#8217;ll load the bikes in the trailer and return to <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">North Carolina</st1:place></st1:state>.
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    THE MAP:
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    THE GUYS:
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    JOHN
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    I was born in 1943. My parents, although both college graduates, were very poor. I remember our family receiving boxes of used clothing from various friends and relatives several times a year. What we couldn&#8217;t use, we gave away. My parents did instill in us children a confidence that despite a lack of money we could complete college. When I left home after my senior year in high school to go to college, my father gave me $600 cash. That&#8217;s as much as he had. I paid for my college education by working while in school, and through receiving scholarships, grants and loans. I started college in 1961, started Medical School in 1964, started my year-long rotating Internship in 1968, went on active duty with the US Navy in 1969, was fortunate to receive my specialty training in the field of Anesthesiology at the US Naval Hospital, Philadelphia from 1969 through 1972, and was assigned to the US Naval Regional Medical Center, Agana, Guam from 1972 through 1975. I took my last test as a student in 1974, at the age of 31, when I was certified as a specialist by the American Board of Anesthesiology. In 1975 my wife and three sons and an exchange student from the Micronesian nation of <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Palau</st1:place></st1:country-region> came to the <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Charlotte</st1:place></st1:city> area, where we have lived ever since.
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    I practiced Anesthesiology in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Charlotte</st1:place></st1:city> until I was forced to retire in the spring of 2002 due to a sudden, unexpected and complete hearing loss in my right ear. (If one can&#8217;t hear properly, one cannot function safely in the operating room). My &#8220;adventure&#8221; hobby up to this point had been scuba diving with a special interest in underwater photography. However, diving is potentially hazardous to one&#8217;s ears, and if one has only a single functioning ear, ENT doctors strongly recommend that one not dive. I had logged 1037 dives over the years, diving in many of the world&#8217;s best diving destinations, so I didn&#8217;t feel too badly when I needed to find another &#8220;adventure&#8221; hobby.
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    In June, 2002, I took a Motorcycle Safety Foundation basic course and obtained a motorcycle endorsement on my NC drivers license. I rode Honda cruisers for a while but found their seating position to be uncomfortable. I bought a 2003 Honda Gold Wing, and I&#8217;ve ridden it 50,000 miles over the past 4 years. I bought a 2003 Honda ST1300 (my favorite bike) and I&#8217;ve ridden that 12,000+ miles over the past several years. For this <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Alaska</st1:place></st1:state> trip, I bought a 2005 BMW F50GS Dakar (with 680 miles on the odometer &#8211; it now has 4612 miles). I&#8217;ve added protective equipment for the bike from Touratech. I have Pelican side cases and a 74 liter Kaoko &#8220;Big Traveller&#8221; tail bag. I have an extremely comfortable &#8220;Day-long&#8221; seat from Russell. I have tank panniers that will hold jerry cans with 1.3 gallons of gasoline on each side. I&#8217;m going to be running on MEFO Explorer tires.

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    All of my bikes have modulating headlights, modulating tail lights and mounts for a Garmin 2730 GPS. I believe in and compulsively practice ATGATT. I never touch one drop of alcohol before the bike is permanently parked for the night. I always wear highly visible riding jackets. For the <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Alaska</st1:place></st1:state> trip, I have Aerostich <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Darien</st1:place></st1:city> clothing &#8211; black pants and a fluorescent yellow-green jacket, a white Arai helmet, a Gerbing heated vest and gloves and my comfortable and waterproof Cruiserworks boots.
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    In December of 2004 my internist advised me to take a stress test. Unfortunately, this showed one main artery completely blocked and the other two main arteries 85% blocked. Fortunately, the doctors also found that my heart muscle had not been significantly damaged. I had a quadruple bypass in December of 2004, and I&#8217;ve been on blood-pressure and cholesterol-lowering medication ever since. Additionally, all the males on my father&#8217;s side of the family have developed osteoarthritis in their knees, and unfortunately, I received my father&#8217;s knee-genes. I&#8217;m going to be faced with a decision regarding replacing both knee joints sooner rather than later. All of this to say that I am feeling a sense of urgency to do the activities I desire while my health still allows me that option. In preparation for this trip, I had another stress test (unchanged from the post bypass good one) and had both knees injected with cortisone. I&#8217;ve bought a three month supply of medications and I&#8217;ve purchased MedJet Assist air evacuation insurance for both myself and my motorcycle. My Medicare Part F supplemental health insurance policy will cover up to $50,000 of medical expenses in a foreign country. I don&#8217;t know whether to be sad and ashamed that I have to do these extra health-related things or proud that I&#8217;m 65 and still living life the way I want to. I think that the latter sentiment predominates.
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    My wife (since 1966) and I have five grandchildren in the <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Charlotte</st1:place></st1:city> area. Actually, the older two girls are the daughters of the Palauan exchange student mentioned above and her deceased husband. The 21-year-old just graduated from college and has been accepted into medical school.

    Sisters - college graduate with soon-to-be high school graduate!
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    College grad showing her superiority over me, with my wife looking on in total agreement!
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    The 18-year-old, who has lived with us for the past year and a half, just graduated from high school and has been accepted into college. Our middle son lives in Charlotte and has three children &#8211; a 6-year-old girl who will be starting first grade in the fall, a 3-year-old boy who will continue in nursery school and a 4 1/2-month-old baby girl who probably will be sitting up by the time I get back from my trip!

    Cousins on Prom night just before high school graduation; HS grad with kindergarten grad and nursery schooler!
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    Sister and brother...
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    Sister and brother and sister...
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    I dearly love these children and I am very involved in their lives.
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    RAY:
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    Ray was born (1942) in Hickory, NC, one of six children to a single mother. He grew up in the Belmont/Mt. Holly, NC area. His family was likewise very poor, and he had to fend for himself to a considerable degree while growing up. He didn&#8217;t have anything like the same support and encouragement I had regarding his education. Fortunately, despite his lack of mentoring, he graduated from Belmont High School in 1961. In 1962, Ray joined the US Navy, though with some difficulty (initially the Navy wouldn't accept him because he was too thin!) and trained at the Aircraft Mechanical School for Reciprocating Engines. He served on the aircraft carrier USS Essex in the VS-34 anti-submarine squadron as an aircraft mechanic. He flew as an air crewman on S2F Submarine Tracking Aircraft. A highlight of his naval flying was his "barricade" landing on the carrier, necessitated by a dead aircraft engine! After 52 months of employment with Uncle Sam, having reached the rank of E-4/Third Class Petty Officer, in 1966 Ray returned to civilian life. "Sparky" (Ray's nickname, as he as been struck by lightning on three separate occasions!) has an artistic bent, but he could not figure out how to make a living in the art field. However, one thing led to another, and in time he formed his own company which, from 1971 through 2006, designed, built and installed displays for large corporations at trade shows. This proved to be a reasonably profitable business, and Ray proved to be a very savvy money manager and investor. Ray and his wife JoAnn (since 1965) are now happily and comfortably retired.

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    They have two sons

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    and three granddaughters (ages 10, 6 and 20 months),

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    and they are likewise very involved in the lives of their grandchildren. Ray will be riding a fully equipped Suzuki V-Strom DL1000 to Alaska.

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    I have really enjoyed getting to know Ray. Except for the poverty, our backgrounds could not be more different. Our education and our careers have been very different. However, I&#8217;ve found that Ray and I have a lot in common. What we have in common is that we&#8217;ve both been successful in our chosen fields. And I believe that individuals who have genuinely earned success share a lot of common traits &#8211; traits such as the ability/discipline to organize, to prioritize, to delay gratification, to plan for the future, to work hard and to have integrity. In my view, a small part of success is being in the right place at the right time, but a much larger component is using the aforementioned traits to build a successful life. That&#8217;s what Ray has done. That&#8217;s what I have done. I have a lot of respect for Ray and I genuinely enjoy his companionship.
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    DOUG:
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    Doug grew up in Matthews, NC and his wife in nearby Monroe, NC. They first met when LouAnn was a high school student and Doug was on leave from the Army. LouAnn asked Doug to install an 8-track tape player in her 1967 Rambler. After completing the job, Doug refused monetary payment, instead asking LouAnn for a date! It must have gone well, because Doug took her to her Junior-Senior prom. Interestingly, Doug picked out the pattern for her dress, Doug&#8217;s Mom made her dress, and to this day she still has the red orchid he bought for that occasion. Shortly after LouAnn graduated from high school and while Doug&#8217;s parents were on vacation at the beach, Doug and LouAnn were married, with her wearing her prom dress. The newlyweds moved into Doug&#8217;s parent&#8217;s house prior to the unsuspecting parents arriving back home! LouAnn remembers that she was cooking chicken pot pies when the parents arrived home &#8211; and she remembers that she burned the food!
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    However, once again things must have gone well, because the young couple lived in his parents&#8217; house for two years. In 1978 they moved into their first house. About this time LouAnn developed type 2 diabetes, and for this reason she was advised by her doctor to not have children. So she tended to their home as well as working outside the home, cleaning eight houses each week. Doug worked setting tile, topping trees, and then for eleven years as a truck driver.
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    In 1983 LouAnn&#8217;s father gave them 10 acres of land. They put a double wide trailer on the property. Doug needed a shop to work on his truck, so they built a shop. However, the shop proved to be useful for more than just the truck! In this shop he put a Champion sidecar on their Honda Gold Wing GL 1500. Shortly thereafter, he became a dealer for Champion products.
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    Doug grew up surrounded by motorcycles. As a matter of fact, his mother grew up surrounded by motorcycles! Here's a picture of Doug's mother as a small child!

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    When Champion started manufacturing trike kits for Honda Gold Wings and Harley Davidson motorcycles, Doug sold his truck and opened a full time business (www.AWingAndAChair.com) as a motorcycle mechanic in which he converts 2-wheelers into 3-wheelers

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    and where he also works extensively with the disabled, fabricating mechanical devices which allow them to ride. Doug and LouAnn have recently built a massive new shop.

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    Doug and LouAnn run their business as a husband and wife team.

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    Doug is always surrounded by bikes and he rides whatever is available. However, for this trip he&#8217;s purchased a 2008 Kawasaki KLR 650 to which he&#8217;s added protective equipment, aluminum panniers, a CB radio, a regular radio and an ultra-loud horn! This picture shows him riding into the trailer we're going to use to get us across the Midwest.

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    LouAnn rides a John-Deere-green Harley trike, with a reverse gear!

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    For years Doug has thought about taking a motorcycle trip to Alaska. On three separate occasions he had concrete plans for a trip, but on each occasion, those plans fell through. Here&#8217;s hoping they don&#8217;t fall through a fourth time!

    THE TRIP REPORT
    <o:p></o:p>
    I plan to write a daily journal and post trip pictures on a daily basis. I know that there will be occasions where the Internet will not be available; when that occurs I will still write the journal and prepare the pictures for upload so that when Internet access is regained, I&#8217;ll be able to post the accounts of multiple days in one session. On all my previous motorcycle trips I&#8217;ve created trip reports, sending them out to family and friends by email. I hope that posting them on ADVrider.com will ensure wider availability and that forum members and lurkers will enjoy our trip with us. You can view all the pictures at http://JohnMSnyder.smugmug.com.
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,597
    Wow! Thanks for the detailed intro :thumb Looking forward to your daily updates :lurk
    #2
  3. dareduc

    dareduc Not So n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    16
    Location:
    So Cali...
    WoW... that is one hell of a trip. cheers. have fun. :freaky
    #3
  4. MN.SLUGGO

    MN.SLUGGO get bent

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    minnesota
    good luck guys...john you picked the right bike!
    #4
  5. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    997
    Location:
    God's country, Western North Carolina
    Sounds like a great Crew. Keeping options open for side trips along the way is very smart. I almost always hear of an event or location that I just "need" to check out. These detours often become high points of my trip.

    Looking forward to your reports. Safe travels and ENJOY!

    Cheers

    Bob
    #5
  6. Ensey

    Ensey KLR Combat Touring

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Oddometer:
    739
    Location:
    Duncan, Ok
    You could leave early.......:lurk :lurk
    #6
  7. oldrt

    oldrt n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2
    John,
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    I wish you all a wonderful time on this trip. Since I have logged many a mile with Ray and have really loved doing our much shorter trips up and down the East Coast and out west in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:State w:st="on">Colorado</st1:State>, <st1:State w:st="on">Utah</st1:State>, <st1:State w:st="on">Arizona</st1:State> and <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">New Mexico</st1:place></st1:State> my only suggestion is make sure you keep his belly full!
    <o:p></o:p>
    Again, best of luck and have a GREAT TIME!!!!!
    <o:p></o:p>
    Gregg Gillette
    <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Charlotte</st1:City>, <st1:State w:st="on">NC</st1:State></st1:place>
    #7
  8. NCJ

    NCJ Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,636
    Location:
    Troutman NC
    Will be following your RR along with BMWKurt's - looking forward to your posts, and best wishes in advance for a safe journey!! :D :thumb
    #8
  9. Gunslinger1

    Gunslinger1 GIVE'R

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    654
    Location:
    Rolla, MO
    :lurk
    #9
  10. Qwik

    Qwik Adrenaline Addict

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    7,598
    Location:
    Ben Lomond, Highway 9, California
    Never Give up. Great post to start your trip
    #10
  11. pirate63

    pirate63 SUPA 10 PILOT

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    446
    Location:
    brisvegas,oz
    great intro,and good luck with trip,i will be keeping an eye out for this one.
    #11
  12. JohnSnyder

    JohnSnyder Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    214
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    For a number of years, Ray, along with friends and family, has travelled from North Carolina to Colorado in order to enjoy those twisty Colorado mountain roads. He's developed a routine in which he trailers the entire riding party's bikes to Colorado. The other riders fly out after Ray has arrived, ride throughout their entire vacation time, and then fly back home. After the others have left, Ray trailers all the bikes back to North Carolina. (Sounds like a nice plan - for everyone else!) I've ridden across the midwest at least four times and have found it to be hot, windy, exhausting, and having virtually no redeeming qualities! (Sorry, those of you who live in Kansas! If there are redeeming factors, please let me know!) So Ray offered, and Doug and I quickly accepted, to trailer the bikes out to Denver.

    In fact, Ray will drive his diesel Dodge pickup, pulling Doug's trailer. Ray and Doug decided that Doug's enclosed trailer was better suited for hauling three bikes. Ray and Doug are going to drive to Denver together. I have family obligations over the weekend, but I'll fly out to Denver on Monday. We will leave from an airport hotel on Tuesday morning.

    Here's a few pictures of our activities today!

    Ray with Suzuki DL1000...
    [​IMG]

    John with BMW F650GS Dakar...
    [​IMG]

    Three bikes loaded into the trailer...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. Dave Bell

    Dave Bell Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 5, 2004
    Oddometer:
    107
    Location:
    Wills Point, Texas
    You guys are so lucky. Have a great trip. The personal notes and bios make for good reading.

    Lets have trip reports.

    db
    #13
  14. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,702
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    I enjoyed reading the bios of three great characters. I'm looking forward to reading about your big ride. Godspeed!
    #14
  15. hobie1dog

    hobie1dog Not a Sheeple

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    376
    Location:
    Denver,NC
    Great photos and background for us....a fellow NC resident from Cornelius whishes you guys a safe and fun trip.

    Marty
    #15
  16. Doctor Doug

    Doctor Doug n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7
    have a safe and wonderful ride
    #16
  17. BMW-K

    BMW-K F800GS FTW!

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,933
    Location:
    Anaheim, CA
    Bring it on!

    And above all, have fun!
    #17
  18. jthurber80

    jthurber80 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    46
    Location:
    Mountain View, California
    Not only was this a fantastic write-up, your route choices are excellent.

    Bon voyage Gentlemen, and tufunga Safari!

    jim:clap
    #18
  19. JohnSnyder

    JohnSnyder Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    214
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    [​IMG]

    This morning I was still operating on Eastern Daylight Time, so getting up at <st1:time minute="30" hour="5">5:30 a.m.</st1:time> Mountain Daylight Time wasn't as much of a problem as it might have been. However, let me digress for a moment to explain a potential problem about which most of you are blissfully unaware. Those of us blessed with monaural hearing (i.e. hearing with only one ear) have a problem with alarm clocks. If I am lying on my side with my good ear pressed into the pillow, I cannot hear the alarm - or the telephone - or someone knocking on the door - or anything. It gets old explaining to people why I might "oversleep", so I just set the alarm and open the curtains so the sun can shine in, hoping that somehow I will wake up. Last night I put in a wake up call with the motel operator, and I set the alarm on my phone for the same time and I opened the curtains. I was on the ground floor, so opening the curtains reduces privacy, but I'm getting too old to care much about that! Fortunately, luck was with me, and I heard my phone alarm first, followed by the motel phone.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Before packing, I went to the motel lobby for a cup of coffee. There sat Doug, nursing his cup of coffee. It turns out he's an early bird, always getting up at the crack of dawn. Ray's the same way, full of vim and vigor long before the sun even thinks of rising! But, strangely, there's no Ray. Where might Ray be? I queried Doug, and he looked sort of embarrassed. It turns out that Ray had gotten up early and had ridden out to where his truck was parked (for the duration of our trip to <st1:state>Alaska</st1:state>). Could it be that Ray wanted one last moment alone with his truck? I don&#8217;t want to get sentimental, but it strikes me that this could be the inspiration for a country song! <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We left the motel at about <st1:state>6:45 a.m.</st1:state>, and within two miles my humanity had revealed itself. I&#8217;m a big fan of GPS units, and I program into mine each day&#8217;s route. Today was no exception. At approximately the second turn, the GPS had us going the wrong direction! Dang ol&#8217; GPS! You just can&#8217;t trust them! Or maybe&#8230;they do just exactly what you tell them to do. And yes indeed, the GPS was right and I was wrong! When I had made a waypoint on the highway we planned to take, I made it in the wrong lane! So the GPS had to figure out how to get us to go the wrong way before turning us around again to get us to go the right way! Fortunately, Ray had driven this road frequently and he picked up the potential error and directed us appropriately. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We rode on the Interstate for an hour and a half or so, finally arriving in <st1:state>Fort Collins</st1:state>. Even that stretch of Interstate was enough to remind me how I don&#8217;t like Interstates, especially with a 650 cc engine! When we got into <st1:state>Fort Collins</st1:state>, Ray exercised his authority as senior member of our little group and radioed instructions to Doug and me at the ultimate last moment telling us to turn in to a restaurant parking lot. I must have been at least half a block past the entrance when Ray called out, and Doug couldn&#8217;t make the turn either. So Ray turned in to the restaurant and Doug and I had to circle around the block. However, it was a good choice and we enjoyed a hearty breakfast.

    Doug and Ray leaving breakfast...
    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p><o:p></o:p>
    From there, we picked up Highway 14, the <st1:state>Poudre Canyon Highway</st1:state>, beside which flows the beautiful <st1:state><st1:state>Cache la Poudre</st1:state><st1:state> River</st1:state></st1:state>.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    The first part of the highway is a delightful twisty canyon road. As we progressed down the road, we climbed from about 5200 feet to over 10,200 feet. The river is a very fast flowing river, some parts of which are suitable for white water rafting, many parts of which are not.

    Ray dreaming about his truck...
    [​IMG]

    As I neared the highest elevation, I was surprised to see my &#8220;Temperature&#8221; idiot light turn on. We stopped for a few minutes and then continued with no further problem&#8230;until the next time it turned on (once again while climbing). All told, the light turned on four times today. More about that later.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    After the <st1:state>Poudre Canyon Highway</st1:state>, we proceeded north and northwest through high desert country. While this area is beautiful in its own way, I don&#8217;t have the artistic talent to translate this beauty into beautiful photographs! So we rode the rest of the day, seeing almost no traffic. For the most part, the temperature was very pleasant, especially at the higher altitudes. The temperature did rise to the high 80s at lower altitudes, but it was a dry heat, and not uncomfortable.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    At one of our gas stops we had our &#8220;lunch&#8221;. My 18-year-old granddaughter had graciously given me some Luna bars that she didn&#8217;t like! Right on the box of Luna bars is their motto: Morning Nutrition for Women! The box I have with me is LUNA Sunrise &#8211; Blueberry Bliss! I ate one of these bars, and I felt femininity course through my very soul! I&#8217;ve always been an admirer of women, and now that I&#8217;ve experienced just a small taste of womanhood, my admiration is unbounded! To think &#8211; they have to put up with men!!! A superior life form being forced to dwell with scum!! It&#8217;s unthinkable! Ah, well, I&#8217;m sure I&#8217;ll get over it!<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We got into <st1:state><st1:state>Riverton</st1:state>, <st1:state>WY</st1:state></st1:state> at about <st1:state>4:30 p.m.</st1:state>, and my first order of business was to take off the left side of my fairing in order to check the antifreeze level. It was slightly low, but not significantly so. However, when we checked the oil (which was changed by the BMW dealer in Charlotte a week or two ago), we found it to be markedly low. Doug said that for this particular 650 cc engine oil provides some degree of cooling as well as does the antifreeze. There&#8217;s no indication that I&#8217;m burning oil, and there&#8217;s no indication that I&#8217;m leaking oil. So we added about ¾ quart of oil and we&#8217;ll have to see what transpires tomorrow. And, for what it&#8217;s worth, today I filled up with gas three times, getting 67, 66 and 63 miles per gallon respectively.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Tomorrow we continue heading north. We&#8217;re planning to spend the night in <st1:state><st1:state>Livingston</st1:state>, <st1:state>Montana</st1:state></st1:state>.<o:p></o:p>
    #19
  20. JohnSnyder

    JohnSnyder Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    214
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    [​IMG]

    We started out today underneath an overcast sky. However, by midmorning, the sun had made an appearance, and we rode in a generally northward direction through the high desert. We saw lots of rocks, lots of sage brush, a few cattle and a few small settlements &#8211; nothing very exciting. However, when we stopped at <st1:place><st1:city>Cody</st1:city>, <st1:state>WY</st1:state></st1:place>, we had the good fortune to encounter a local KLR650 rider. We talked bikes and trips and mechanical things, and then he dropped this tidbit: the road through <st1:place><st1:placename>Beartooth</st1:placename> <st1:placetype>Pass</st1:placetype></st1:place> was open! It had been closed last week when Ray&#8217;s son and his family had been here, but it is open now! For those who might not know, riding the road through <st1:place><st1:placename>Beartooth</st1:placename> <st1:placetype>Pass</st1:placetype></st1:place> is viewed as an absolute &#8220;must do&#8221; by many motorcyclists. We hadn&#8217;t planned on this because we&#8217;d assumed it would be closed, but this new knowledge necessitated a change of plans!
    <o:p> </o:p>
    But first, we &#8220;had&#8221; to ride <st1:state><st1:place>Wyoming</st1:place></st1:state> highway 296 &#8211; the <st1:street><st1:address>Chief Joseph Scenic Highway</st1:address></st1:street>. This is 47 miles of beautiful scenery and great motorcycle riding! The snow-covered mountains are majestic and inspiring, the tarmac is twisty and challenging, the air is brisk and invigorating, the sky is deep blue from horizon to horizon and the clouds are billowy and benign. Believe it or not, it was Doug, who has not even brought along a camera on the trip, who broke radio silence by suggesting that we stop and take a picture of the bikes with the mountains in the background! I think that the man may have a sentimental bone in his body!

    John's BMW F650GS Dakar at start of Chief Joseph Scenic Highway...
    [​IMG]

    Doug's Kawasaki KLR 650...
    [​IMG]

    We continued our ride, making several stops along the way,

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Chief Joseph Scenic Highway...
    [​IMG]

    Doug at scenic overloook...
    [​IMG]

    Ray and Doug learn about Chief Joseph...
    [​IMG]

    Ray, still missing his truck... If anyone could write a country song with lyrics that describe a real man's feelings towards his truck, I bet it would make Ray feel better!
    [​IMG]

    Doug and Ray "sharing"...
    [​IMG]

    Doug and Ray still "sharing"...
    [​IMG]

    Doug's KLR650 is getting lonesome...
    [​IMG]

    until the <st1:street><st1:address>Chief Joseph Scenic Highway</st1:address></st1:street> dead ended into Highway 212, which is the road that traverses the <st1:place><st1:placename>Beartooth</st1:placename> <st1:placetype>Pass.</st1:placetype></st1:place>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The road through <st1:place><st1:placename>Beartooth</st1:placename> <st1:placetype>Pass</st1:placetype></st1:place>&#8230; What beautiful scenery! What a great motorcycle road! The snow is just melting and the streams are full to overflowing. Waterfalls are at their maximum flow.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The air temperature in Cody was about 85 F, and at the <st1:place><st1:placename>Beartooth</st1:placename> <st1:placetype>Pass</st1:placetype></st1:place> it was about 35 F! We were dressed for 85 F!! We could have stopped every hundred yards to take pictures. On occasion, the snow banks beside the highway were 12 to 15 feet high; certainly they were high enough to cover the signs!

    [​IMG]

    We passed by a lake that was just thawing &#8211; it was an absolutely magnificent sight!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A few miles farther along, at a higher elevation, we passed another lake, not yet even beginning to thaw. I&#8217;ve ridden the Beartooth Pass before, but never this early in the season, and today it displayed a special isolated, solitary and aloof type of beauty &#8211; as though it&#8217;s saying, &#8220;Admire me or not. I don&#8217;t care. I know what I am, and what I&#8217;ve got, and that&#8217;s all that matters.&#8221;

    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    Doug has fallen out of love with his 2008 Kawasaki KLR650.

    [​IMG]

    It has proven to be very underpowered for highway use, and for mountain use, and for riding into a wind. And when you combine all three of these into one ride, it proves to be a difficult, slow ride! Despite it&#8217;s being underpowered, it is drinking more gasoline than either my BMW F650 GS Dakar or Ray&#8217;s Suzuki V-Strom 1000. Going up mountain slopes against the wind is more than it can handle. So Doug is weighing his options. He really hasn&#8217;t confided in us what his options are!
    <o:p> </o:p>
    I have regained a little more trust in my BMW F650GS Dakar. It didn&#8217;t overheat today, despite having ample occasion to do just that. And my gas mileage today was 53 mpg (while riding at highway speeds up mountain slopes) and 69 mpg (while riding the <st1:street><st1:address>Chief Joseph Scenic Highway</st1:address></st1:street> and <st1:place><st1:placename>Beartooth</st1:placename> <st1:placetype>Pass</st1:placetype></st1:place>).
    <o:p> </o:p>
    We are spending the night in <st1:place><st1:city>Columbus</st1:city>, <st1:state>Montana</st1:state></st1:place>. Tomorrow our schedule calls for us to ride to East Glacier, <st1:state><st1:place>Montana</st1:place></st1:state>.
    <o:p> </o:p>
    #20