2000 Stories - 20 year old tales of Key West, Maine, and Alaska in y2K

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MapMaster, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    As in stories from the year 2000, the actual number of tales to be told is currently indeterminate. Like my rides, I can't tell you how long it will be until it's done. :D

    The bikes are parked for the winter and Covid is curtailing other activities, so it's time to fire up the wayback machine and go on a recall ride through 20 year old journals covering a pre-digital time of film cameras, paper maps, and no cell phones. :eekers
    Consequently the photo count will be limited to some reduced quality scans of 4x6 prints. I hope the mental imagery will compensate.

    These tales revolve around a quest to ride to the four corners of the contiguous U.S and as much of Alaska as possible, with plenty of Canadian countryside along the way.

    Some digitized teasers:
    upload_2020-11-15_13-3-33.jpeg

    West Quoddy Head, ME
    upload_2020-11-15_13-4-11.jpeg

    upload_2020-11-15_13-4-24.jpeg

    upload_2020-11-15_13-4-51.jpeg

    Cape Flattery, WA
    upload_2020-11-15_13-5-57.jpeg

    Border Field Park, CA
    upload_2020-11-15_13-6-30.jpeg
    #1
  2. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    The Origin Story

    Late December, 1999
    Burnout from 10 years of pretty intense project work and the departure of several co-workers had already convinced me that I was overdue for a sabbatical. Notionally, I was planning to take a year off, but hadn't formulated any specific objectives or set any positive date to give notice yet. The only absolute goal was to ride the Going to The Sun Road in Glacier National Park. As a contractor, a leave of absence was not possible, so quitting was the only way to implement the plan. I didn't want to burn any bridges behind me, so preliminary discussions about the timing of my departure with some of my managers had already occurred. (The fact that per the organization chart, I was accountable to ten different positions represented by seven different people, none of whom were the one individual I took most of my direction from, had a lot to do with my need to bail out.)

    In this frame of mind an email from BrotherPat, a great riding buddy, informed me that he was going to be "...blasting down to Key West for a day...", as part of a trip to Daytona Beach for Bike Week in March of 2000. He didn't ask me if I wanted to join him and an old navy buddy of his on the trip because he knew that Bike Week and the interstate droning the trip would entail weren't high on my list of desirable rides. (During my time in the Navy, stationed in Orlando, FL, I went to Bike Week activities a couple of times. The freak and geek show has some entertaining moments, but the crowds, noise, and drunks don't excite me).
    Little did he know how fertile the ground was. Jack's magic beans grew a beanstalk at the pace of stalagmite formation compared to how fast the idea of riding to the four corners sprouted in my noggin. :deal

    In 2 days the schedule was set; take a 10 day vacation for the Bike Week trip, end the job in April, ride to Maine in May, and start an open ended western swing in July with Alaska added to the itinerary.
    :ricky:ricky:ricky
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  3. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Corner 1 - Down to Daytona - Bryen Stories

    Manager: "Why do you need a vacation a month before starting a year long break!?!"
    "Practice." :D

    BrotherPat was a well known and absolutely trusted riding partner, I've led him through more turns than Fred Astaire guided Ginger Rogers, so I didn't have much trepidation about joining up for a long ride with his friend Bryen. Like Pat and I, Bryen was an ex-Navy Nuc' which is always a solid endorsement in my book. Pat was coming from NJ, me from Pittsburgh, Bryen from Clarksburg, WV.
    Bryen and I exchanged some emails leading up to the trip. I'd meet up with him first in Harrisonburg, VA and we would meet Pat further down the road.

    Bryen had a fairly new Valkyrie and he'd asked about appropriate name's based on Wagner's operas. I couldn't help with that and had some reservations about a motorcycle named after the 'choosers of the slain' to begin with, but remembering Beowolf as very Norse I suggested Grendel's Momma. He didn't go with that, but also rejected Helga and Brunhilde, so while unchristened in his mind, I called it Grendel's Momma anyway.

    There have definitely been times when the mental synapses fail to fully fire, but that didn't happen as I planned this trip. Fully aware that early March can bring absolutely abysmal atmospheric conditions, I had allowed a couple of days leeway for getting south. Fortunately the weather gods held their wrath in abeyance and the trip started cold but clear. The appointed rendezvouses were accomplished with no issues and we made it to Hillsville, VA, just above the NC border. A motel room with two beds and a roll-away was procured and sufficient vittles and adult beverages were consumed. I asked Bryen if he snored, "I don't know" was the response. At this point, my synaptic processes completely seized and I accepted the answer at face value (I think my bullshit detector had frozen up earlier in the day and hadn't thawed out yet). Discounting the fact that he was married, any sailor knows whether they snore or not, because shipmates will be damn sure to tell you if you do!

    The night was not a peaceful one. He didn't saw logs, he assaulted the woodpile vigorously with a dull axe. Bryen's ancestry is Scandinavian, busting his chops for such a blatant lie the next morning he said that his last name means 'grumpy old bear who snores'.
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  4. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

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    I'm in for taking a ride on the Wayback Machine with you. Bring it on. :clap
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  5. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    More Bryen Stories

    In addition to grossly malformed sinuses, Bryen was also suffering with some back pain. He had decided a year ago that being at Bike Week would be a cool thing to do to welcome in the new millennium, so he was determined to suck it up and make this trip. But it troubled him on the second day to the extent that he didn't bother getting off of the bike at many of the frequent gas stops we had to make. (The Valkyrie was one thirsty Momma, 120 miles max on a tank was all it was good for.)

    Make it he did and 622 miles later we pulled up to the Daytona Beach Shores Holiday Inn.

    Now I would hate to imply any stereotypical notions about ex-Navy ET Nuc software programmers being prone to anal retentive tendencies :evil, but the truth of matter is that having decided last year that Bike Week Y2K was what he wanted to do, Bryen made a reservations for rooms with 2 double beds and roll-aways at that time (like many future planned group rides, 4 of the 6 early committals dropped out so it had become a one room booking). He had confirmed the booking monthly to ensure availability.

    There were just a few wrinkles in this intended arrangement:
    He thought he had picked a place smack in the middle of the town of Daytona Beach, not realizing Daytona Beach Shores was a separate entity about 5 miles south. The hotel was certainly within the blast zone of the 'festivities' so that was not really a problem.
    Given his back issues, I took care of unloading and moving his bike while he got us checked in. As I brought one load of bags in he said there was a snag, apparently there were no roll-away beds available. Bryen said, "I'm working on the problem." Hearing his, the receptionist responded with, "I'm working on it!" in a positive manner - she was going to it sort out.
    I come in with another load and I hear that there's another problem, his credit card was being denied. But a phone call took care of that. It turned out that 5 instances of getting gas at two hour intervals in 100 mile location displacements got a fraud alert lock on his account. Jeez, don't those credit card weenies ride thirsty motorcycles! :lol3

    So we finally head up to our room, 715. Walking down a long hallway towards the back of the building (beach-wards) I began to get an inkling.
    The door was at the corner where the hallway turned to parallel the beach.
    The room didn't have a roll-away, it had a fold out sofa in the living room area, separated from a room with 2 queen-sized beds! A freaking suite! :rayof:rayof:rayof
    With kitchen facilities, two bathrooms, 2 huge for the times TVs, and 50 feet of balcony wrapping around the corner with a great view out over the ocean and southwards along the beach!
    :jkam:jkam

    Earlier in the ride Pat and I had been telling stories about some of the more "interesting" characters we had done rides with and told Bryen that being a more acceptable traveling companion than them wouldn't be too difficult.
    Talk about raising the bar! :clap

    Since Pat had taken the roll-away last night, I took one for the team and volunteered for the couch for the duration of the stay. It was the least I could do :wink: (the slatted bi-fold doors separating the rooms weren't going to muffle the chainsaw noise, but combined with separation, it would help).

    His Awesomeness:
    upload_2020-11-16_23-57-45.jpeg
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  6. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Key West Blast & Return Home
    We spent a day chilling. Pat and Bryen went down to Main Street to check out the action. I just hung around the hotel area and had some good chats talking bikes with others. It wasn't a surprise that lots of folks trailered their motorcycles to the area. And I have to admit that it made perfect sense for a group of 20 guys from Minnesota to charter a tracker-trailer to haul their bikes down, eliminating the winter weather concern. But I still shook my head at all the bikes I saw towed in from Georgia, Alabama, and even all the way from Tampa. :fpalm
    The next day Pat and I blasted down to Key West where I counted coup on Corner 1 of the year's objectives. Bryen opted out of this run because of his back, so we left him with a 20 pound UNIX programmers manual (no wonder his duffel weighed so much, I about slipped a disc unloading it :dirtdog).

    A couple of pics along the way:
    upload_2020-11-18_0-17-12.jpeg

    And Bahia Honda Key (naturally :D):
    upload_2020-11-18_0-21-31.jpeg

    My journal entry was that the trip sucked, I-95 sucked, US-1 sucked (though7 Mile Bridge was cool), the motel in Key West was $$$, and worst of all, no good stories came of it! That really sucked, but I got the picture (re-scanned since the original post. I realized I have better scanner now than when I first digitized the pic years ago):
    upload_2020-11-18_0-25-5.jpeg

    To be fair, circumstances were to blame. Florida is one hell of a Long Cat state to ride all the way through. It's 840 miles from Pensacola to Key West. We did 440 miles getting down to "Margaritaville", and 430 coming back. 20 years on, I look back at the effort and conclude that while that particular instance of riding to a geographic way-point wasn't particularly rewarding, many others have been so awesome that I can easily accept an occasional lackluster result.

    The next day was race day!
    The 250cc race was tight, as was the main 200 mile race. Matt Mladin had the power to edge out a drafting Nicky Haden on the last lap. Margin of victory was 0.11 seconds.

    We started home the next morning. I split from Bryen and Pat in Georgia to head towards Charleston to visit my sister for the night and blasted home the next day. That was a cold ride, but not unbearable. My journal comment was that the last day's 669 miles was the second longest single day's ride I'd ever done, so far.
    Too bad I didn't note what the previous higher day was, cause now I don't remember. :gerg
    But whatever it was, I would top it in another 6 months. :deal

    A souvenir from the trip did make it on to my patch blanket:
    upload_2020-11-18_0-30-39.jpeg

    upload_2020-11-18_0-31-10.jpeg
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  7. HPPants

    HPPants Been here awhile

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    I'll play along - thanks for sharing.

    Question of curiosity: Does your prose come purely from a terrific memory, or did you blow the dust off a journal kept during the ride?

    (I'm contemplating the latter, because the former is fading fast....)
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  8. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Thanks for joining the ride. :-)

    I do keep a journal during trips to capture specific events, names, and good stories, but not in anything like a coherent narrative. So the prose is being crafted now.
    The memory is pretty good anyway, but in part that's because the journal efforts at the time helped cement them.
    Though the recall is a bit slow at times - I remembered what the highest mileage day my journal referred too last night as I drifted off to sleep. (720 miles during my first cross-country ride in 1983 :lol3 - and yes, I kept a journal on that trip too - which may get dusted off for any even more wayback ride report in the future)

    I highly recommend creating a contemporaneous account on trips for this reason, though these days that can take many forms. Copious pictures and/or videos fill some of that purpose. I've been jotting memos on my cell phone these days.
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  9. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

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    My journaling during a ride has always been copious pictures along the way and now with the digital age it's a lot less expensive.

    My first time to Daytona Beach was in the late '80s and like you I was amazed at how many people trailered and I also understood the ones coming from the Northern States. My first time to Sturgis was also in the '80s and I was even more amazed at the trailers since weather isn't a concern in Aug. like it is in March for Daytona. At Sturgis I got a kick out of how people would ditch their trailers out of town somewhere, load their bikes with camping gear and ride into town like they rode the entire way. That was in the '80s, now they don't bother trying to look like they rode in they just prowdly trailer in. As long as they are having fun it's all good.

    Just where in the heck is that marker in Key West? I was there once and I couldn't find it and I was trying to figure out the location the other day but I didn't figure it out. I plan to ride there for this year's Bike Week and ride to Key West to get a pic of the marker. I won't stay on the Keys since it's outrageously expensive. I'm lucky I have a friend in Daytona so I don't have to spend the big bucks to stay in Daytona during bike week plus since he's a local he knows all the good places. It's been almost 15 years since the last time I was there. This will probably be the last time I do Bike Week since there are way too many people for my liking.

    Keep the stories coming. :thumb
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  10. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    I'm with you on the advantages of unlimited free cell phone pics. I even take snaps of road signs now just to save the effort of having to write them down or log them in a memo. :lol3 Helpful for creating plots of a ride after I get back home.
    I've got a good photograph count story to relate as part of this saga, but now is not the time. :evil


    I'd never encountered the faux camper trailer type, they deserve a good taunting. :ksteve

    Per the latest google street image, the buoy marker is still there. Corner of South and Whitehead streets.
    Though to the purists, that marker is not correct. Whitehead Spit, about 1500 feet west of there, is 500 feet further south. :deal
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  11. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

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    Thanks :D
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  12. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Corner 2 (a and b) Maine - The Planning

    Wait/what - corners a and b you say, what's up with that!? :scratch
    Well, back in the dark ages, when Interwebz was still a toddler and Google Maps and public access GPS were just a twinkle in their daddy's eyes, I planned my trips using paper maps that were copies of cave dwelling artwork.*** Looking at reproduced ocher and charcoal renderings of the Pine Tree state did not show a clear choice for a northeast point. Now-a-days Madawaska is the common choice, but that is neither the furthest north, nor furthest east and lies along a diagonal that includes several other small towns that could you could make a case for as being the northeast corner of the U.S. So I decided to go to the furthest east point in the state (corner 2a for me) and the furthest north point (2b).

    Counter-intuitively the furthest east point is West Quoddy Head, a conundrum explained by the fact that East Quoddy Head lies across the water in Canada.

    The north point wasn't even labeled on some of my maps, but one showed a dot for Estcourt Station, accessible by motorcycle only via Canada. At the time, the private logging roads in the area would allow some fee paying traffic, but not motorcycles. As I had no desires or capability of slogging through 150+ miles of dirt/gravel roads to reach that point from within Maine itself, I did not take offense at the exclusion.

    But while I'm on the subject of northernmost point, now that I can use Google Maps, the existence of an "International Bridge" and associated plaque has been revealed. And it's been there for quite some time! :becca
    Had I known of it at the time, I definitely would have gone there instead of (or in addition to?) where I actually visited. I guess I'll have to go back.

    Aside from bagging the somewhat nebulous northeast point(s), the other goal of this trip was to suss out my camping setup. :kumbaya
    Truth be known I'd just as soon camp in a Hyatt every night, but aside from the fact that my budget wouldn't support that, there was a notable lack of 4 star accommodations in the areas I was going to be riding. :ricky

    *** And I still use paper maps to this day. :cromag
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  13. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Northeast Beginnings

    Over the years the short summation of this ride has been, Maine in May is COLD! I set out on the 9th and was back home a week later. The first day was beastly hot and humid, after that it was mostly cool to cold and often wet. As an epic adventure the ride was a bit lacking, but it had its moments. Mostly good ones, but the first night revealed that the rain fly of my new tent leaked!
    :becca
    Some seam sealer took care of that issue when I got back home.

    My motorcycle career began around Saratoga Springs, NY 20 years before this trip and that area along with Vermont and New Hampshire was familiar territory, so I didn't do much poking around through there this time. But I did grab this pic of the old covered bridge in Blenheim, NY:
    upload_2020-11-19_20-29-23.jpeg
    Hurricane Irene destroyed it in 2011 (dayum, that long ago! :gerg I went through that area 2 weeks after the storm and sadly noted its demise.)
    They built a replacement and that effort was the subject of a PBS Nova program a few years ago.

    On Day 3 I garnered these images at Rumsford ME:
    upload_2020-11-19_20-59-21.jpeg

    upload_2020-11-19_20-59-58.jpeg

    I like interacting with locals during my travels, often querying them about place name pronunciations, history in the area, and regional terms. But often I stump them with my questions. 'Down East' Maine was a phrase I knew of, but not how it came about. Well neither did the folks I asked during dinner one evening. Turns out is originated from ships coming out of Boston to the area back when Maine was still part of Massachusetts. The prevailing winds are from the west, so getting to coastal Maine involved sailing down wind, east of Boston.

    I made my first visit to Acadia National Park and was very impressed. I'd rank it as my favorite NP in the east. The road around the park is a well designed one way loop geared to showing great views forward and to the sides. I looked back at a stop and was surprised to see a factory. And I was blown away by how vibrantly blue the ocean was. I thought such hues were limited to Caribbean and Mediterranean waters.
    upload_2020-11-19_21-9-53.jpeg

    upload_2020-11-19_21-10-17.jpeg

    upload_2020-11-19_21-10-47.jpeg


    :dukegirl I had surf and turf for dinner to celebrate.
    It was my first attempt at a whole boiled lobster. It was quite tasty, but not worth the effort and expense to my mind.
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  14. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Corner 2A

    upload_2020-11-20_21-28-3.jpeg
    Saw this string of towers near Winter Harbor, ME and my guess that it was a VLF (very low frequency) radio array proved to be correct. Long radio waves can penetrate the ocean a bit, but it's a very slow broadcast method. Such a facility is used to alert submerged submarines that the Navy is calling. The sub can then come up near the surface and stick an antenna up to get a full message from normal radio transmissions (or other means :deal).

    West Quoddy Head (rescanned pic), the easternmost point in the contiguous United States. That "contiguous" qualification is needed for technical accuracy because the western Aleutian Islands are beyond the 180th meridian, making Alaska the furthest west, north, and east state in the Union.
    upload_2020-11-20_21-15-49.jpeg

    The lighthouse was closed and the access road was posted for authorized vehicles only, but I ignored that, wheeled the bike down to a proper position, and got another visitor to take the requisite photo.
    upload_2020-11-20_21-16-27.jpeg

    Sail Rock, just off shore is the actual furthest east point, but it’s only accessible at extreme low tides. I did not stick around that long and headed north.
    upload_2020-11-20_21-16-50.jpeg

    I saw my first MOOSE north of Houlton, ME. It was HUGE! :yikes
    BrotherPat calls them a cow on stilts. My impression is that, worst case scenario, if one appeared broadside in front of me and no other options were left, I’d duck and just maybe pass underneath.

    Since my girlfriend's name is Clare, I chose to head for Fort Kent, ME and enter Canada at Clair, NB.
    Which led to this snap:
    upload_2020-11-20_21-17-19.jpeg

    Back in March, I had seen the sign marking the southern terminus of US 1, but didn't think to snag a picture at that time. Oh well, since riding the entire length of US 1 is NOT something I ever want to do, lacking both bookends does not cause me to lose any sleep.

    The pros and cons of picking a more lightly travelled border crossing:
    They are rarely busy, so long waits in a queue are unlikely.
    But being bored for lack of business can lead to longer interactions with the border officials. I had a very pleasant conversation with the officer manning the station. One that went on for a while because they took the time to run my passport information through their system. Since they know the regular users, strangers get a little closer scrutiny I guess, I didn't mind. I did get them to stamp my passport (not necessary at that point, but they would do it on request) and I joked with him about the spelling of their town's name, saying that the gf would consider it misspelled. I accepted the counter that they would think that she was the one with incorrect lettering, but to ensure domestic tranquility I would maintain the opposite position.
    I also learned that New Brunswick was the only province in Canada that was officially bilingual.
    Eventually I was free to go.
    upload_2020-11-20_21-19-51.jpeg

    By now it was late in the afternoon and the prudent course was to find a place to bed down for the night. Another cold/wet night was in the forecast, so the tent would remain packed up.
    However, I still felt like riding. :lobby

    :ricky:ricky:ricky
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  15. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Corner 2B

    I trekked across New Brunswick into Quebec and eventually worked my way to Pohénégamook (pronounced poe’-nay-gam-ook as near as I could tell) and the border crossing to Estcourt Station, figuring that even if it was closed, I'd still be able to snag a pic.

    No one was around either the Canadian or US posts, but no gates were barring any movement, so I explored and got decent enough photos before full on darkness descended.
    Said explorations revealed that this border crossing seemed to exist solely for the purpose of expatriating American lumber to furin lands. :wink:
    Estcourt Station consisted of 3 buildings; a customs 'office' which was closed for the day, a garage/shed associated with said customs station, and a Maine Northwoods Association gatehouse which was also closed, but its associated gate was wide open.

    upload_2020-11-21_20-8-1.jpeg

    upload_2020-11-21_20-8-46.jpeg
    This is were I saw the notice that personal vehicles were subject to a toll, but that motorcycles were not permitted.
    A log book at customs allowed for self reporting of after-hours transits.

    Curiosity satisfied, I returned to paved roads and rain and headed on to St. Alexandre where, in spite of the lack of a common language, I was able to get a room for the night. Sadly, dinner was not obtainable since the bar that served as the motel's office didn't have any food service and everything else was closed up for the night.

    Obvious objectives obtained, other obligations obviated orientations other than southward and a turn for home was made (that plus strong winds and snowy hillsides north of the St. Lawrence).

    A Quebec cross, two moose encounters, the second one captured on celluloid, a familiar place name and a Vermont waterfall where the extent of photo recorded happenings:
    upload_2020-11-21_20-11-5.jpeg

    upload_2020-11-21_20-10-3.jpeg

    upload_2020-11-21_20-11-39.jpeg

    upload_2020-11-21_20-12-7.jpeg

    The memories and journal contain nothing else of note, so the two minor legs of the year's campaign are completed. I think it's time for a title change, because even though it was a bit of an afterthought to the initial intended scope of the year's adventure, Alaska would become dominant. :deal
    A reflection of how dominant is in my reference to the 3,000 mile Key West run and this 2,600 mile excursion as 'minor' legs. :lol3
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  16. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Alaska Planning
    A multi-post diversion from actual travel tales

    Part 1 - Route Study
    "Did you have to go through Canada?" :eek7

    A lady posed that post-trip question after I had said that I rode my motorcycle to Alaska. Well...
    To a degree my geographic knowledge of northwest Canada and Alaska was also a bit nebulous to begin with, but at least I knew that border crossings were going to be involved.

    Glacier National Park was the primary target originally. Once I mentally committed to making that happen this year in conjunction with the contiguous country corner collection, the idea of Alaska almost immediately followed. I knew the distances involved would be long, but I had no idea of the relative positions, or of the extent of the road network in Alaska. I thought it would be a fairly quick blast through Canada up to the AK border (and I was not considering Hyder for this), but that to get anywhere within in the state would take forever. So the initial plan was to just reach the border to add it to the personal collection of states visited by motorcycle.
    THEN I looked at the map:
    upload_2020-11-22_21-35-29.jpeg

    Almost 2,000 miles just to get to the border by a direct route from Glacier. Once there, looping to Fairbanks, Anchorage, and back to the border was only a touch over a thousand miles. "Hell, I could do that in two days!"
    All of this was just in terms of scoping out the distances involved, piloting a predetermined plot on a point-to-point program primarily purposed for pavement pursuits was never my intention.

    Determining where to go and what to see in this yelpless pre-facebook era, without ADV Ride Report wisdom, required some old-school research. So the first scroll of papyrus perused was the AAA map. This was THE primary planning resource. The more I looked, the more scope creep occurred. Given the effort to get there, a whole lot of, "While I'm up there, I might as well check out..." items were added to an ever expanding list.

    I also bought books (barbarous relics of a by-gone age they may be, at least I didn't have to translate them from the original Hittite cuneiform tablets): "Let's Go" Alaska and Northwest Canada guide and Greg Frazier's "Alaska by Motorcycle". Both of these were excellent resources. I became aware of the "Milepost" guide, but figured I had enough to go with. The Let's Go guide was more for details of places the map study revealed, but one entry in it caught my eye. A place called Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump in southern Alberta. On the basis of name alone that got added to the list. :deal
    upload_2020-11-22_21-37-6.jpeg

    The experience of a long ago cross country trip, and annual week-plus trips in the east for the past 10 years, had my travel routine pretty well established. Actual route selection and nightly stopping points would be determined as I went along. Though once into northern BC, there wasn't a lot to consider as far as road choices went. I'd go up the AlCan, and return on the Cassiar highways.

    The starting target List (North of the Border):
    Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump
    Banff, Jasper, and the Icefields Parkway
    Liard Hot Springs
    Skagway
    Haines
    Hyder
    Denali and a bus ride into the park
    The Arctic Circle
    Anchorage

    I looked into going all the way up the haul road to Deadhorse, but decided against it. While the need to carry extra extra gas north of Coldfoot was a factor, what really decided me against it was the fact that I couldn't actually get to the Arctic Ocean on the bike, and the fact that nothing at the time conveyed how impressive the Atigun Pass was.
    As will be related in due course, this was certainly the wiser choice given the conditions at the time and that the sport-touring VFR was my steed.
    I rectified that omission when I went back in 2015. :D
    #16
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  17. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,513
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Alaska Planning Part 2 - The Home Front
    I don't typically talk about non-motorcycle personal details, but decided to include this segment. Some may find it interesting.
    TL/DR version: The girlfriend had issues with all my gallivanting about, but we got over it.

    Leaving what had been a excellent job overall to recharge the mental batteries may be an alien concept to some, but my 'career' had already included a couple of lengthy breaks (six months of bumming around before starting a 10 year hitch with the Navy, and a year of goofing off after that term). And though there were no guarantees, I had reasonable expectations of being able to resume work at the same facility. So there were no mental roadblocks that required deep soul searching, anxious assessments of 'what ifs?!", or sleepless nights.

    On the family front, my soon-to-be teen-aged son was living with his mom and siblings in Michigan, so that was not a problem either.

    Surprisingly to me, Clare had problems with my decision. Economically, her family had struggled during her childhood. So even though she was doing well with a position in the VA, she couldn't get her head around the idea of someone not working by choice when they could be earning a living. She related to me that when she told friends about what I was doing, the reaction was that they couldn't believe I quit my job. I'm sure that was more a result of how she described it to them, but it indicated that it was still a problem for her.

    On a personal level, she was also understandably jealous thinking about having to get up to go to work while I could stay in bed till I felt like stirring. What she did to ease that a bit was finally take the option to work from home two or three days a week. We had separate apartments in the same building at the time, so this worked out pretty well. (I met her when I moved in. She still gets irked when others ask how we met and I say, "She came with the garage. :amazon :lol3)

    The idea that I going to be away on an open ended trip for at least a couple months also didn't sit well with her. This bothered me a bit. She travelled a good bit for work (supporting new software program deployments to VA hospitals) and I had done a six month stint in England (that she managed to take a couple of vacations to visit while I was there), so it wasn't like we'd hadn't had some lengthy separations.
    But work induced absences, as opposed to going on a personal walkabout, made a big difference to her. Related to this was her being miffed at us not doing any travels together during all this riding time. In spite of the fact that we were already scheduled for a ten trip in June out west with a visiting couple from England that we had become good friends with while I was over there. (The suggestion that I ride out and meet them was a non-starter of an idea. I didn't blame her for nixing that one. I postulated it because we were going to be going to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. I wouldn't have minded starting the ride sooner and I was a bit disappointed that my first visit to the latter was going to be by cage.)

    I was able to alleviate most of her travel separation beef by suggesting she try to arrange a work trip to Alaska while I was up there. She did and that worked out great - mostly (a few stories featuring her will be forthcoming). She has since joined me mid-trip on motorcycle travels to Arizona, Nova Scotia, New Mexico, and California.
    #17
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  18. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,513
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Alaska Planning Part 3 - Logistics coordination

    Okay, one more perambulatory preparation post prior to proceeding with pavement parables. :evil
    (Protesting my propensity of profoundly profuse polysyllable prose parsings is pointless. :deal)

    If you think resolving issues with Clare in the last post required a delicate touch, you won't believe the amount of dancing that was needed when Susan, an ex-girlfriend, got involved with the trip. :uhoh

    This trip would be the first time I had to factor tire changes into the equation, along with the scarcity of shops that could address that need along much of the route. I was regularly getting 8,000 miles out of the Dunlop 205s that I ran on the VFR. The estimated mileage to Alaska proper was looking to be around 6,000 which was perfect for leaving a margin in case the rubber evaporated faster than expected, and if it was still holding up, I could do further explorations in the state before changing them. So I was contemplating ordering tires through one of the shops in Fairbanks or Anchorage (understandably pricey), or wondering if there was someway to ship a set from Chaparral up to there (I'd been ordering tires from them for the past 4 years).

    Around this time, Clare came home from a regular evening of ballroom dance lessons and after lesson group dance party at her coach's studio. (She was a competitive ballroom dancer long before Dances With The Stars came on the scene). She told me about meeting a lady there who was just starting to take lessons. Clare complimented her on a beautiful jacket she had and the thankful response included that is was a gift from her daughter in Alaska. Not that I hadn't been listening in the first place, but that got both my attention and memory engaged. Clare didn't get any names, but I was pretty positive that I knew she had met Susan, a girl I dated b.C. (before Clare :D).
    Susan and I had been together for a couple years, but we both realized that it just wasn't going anywhere. It was a very amicable parting of ways. Susan had a daughter named Theresa (she went by T) who at the time we split had been making plans to move to Alaska.

    So I told Clare about Susan and T, she confirmed Susan's identity at the next lesson and got along well with her. :knary :lol3
    I called Susan, told her about my upcoming trip, and got T's contact info. In addition to being in Anchorage proper, T was living with her fiance Tommy (husband by the time I got up there), who was also a motorcycle rider. So I had an understanding partner in crime. Tires were shipped and garage space provided for maintenance needs.

    T and pooch Cosmo:
    upload_2020-11-24_23-28-51.jpeg

    Tommy and his GPZ750 (IIRC):
    upload_2020-11-24_23-30-1.jpeg
    #18
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  19. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,513
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Launch
    The journal is full of meals, mileage, mapping, and motel minutia of minimal memory impact. So rather than a strict daily accounting, I'll set the broad outline of major segments of the ride and then try to tell entertaining tales and show the better photos that the rescan effort is revealing.
    Do keep in mind that a good tale can come from not so good events. :deal

    The initial load-out was just over sixty pounds in the bags and included camping gear for sleeping, but not cooking. I decided that was more hassle than I wanted to put up with and knowing that a lot of the camping would be in bear country, it also avoided the concerns of food aromas attracting unwanted ursine attention. Over time the load lightened a bit as I sent home clothing that wasn't needed and changed out some gear for lighter options. When I finished the combined bag weight had dropped about ten pounds. Doing a load of laundry every 4 days or so worked out well. No cold water wash delicates, or worries about colors bleeding for me. It all went in together for a warm wash on a permanent press cycle with a high heat dry after that. Anything that couldn't handle that was left at home.

    So this was the launch configuration on July 2 with 40,000 miles on the clock:
    upload_2020-11-26_0-30-1.jpeg

    Clare would be arriving in Anchorage on the 17th, so the trip out would be somewhat direct-ish (as long as you consider - as I do - that going on the north side of Lake Superior is a direct path from Pittsburgh to the west :evil), with a play day allowed for Glacier NP and a bit of margin.
    #19
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