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

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Back North - Highs and Lows

    Not wanting to deal with Labor Day holiday traffic, I chilled at my brother's for the weekend. I wish I'd been able to stock up on some of that chill for the days ahead. Except when close the coast, things had warmed up considerably since I'd exited Canada. That influenced the betting on the return route roulette and a northern course was set, first visits to Arizona and New Mexico would await a future ride.

    But the first ride on the Angeles Crest Hwy was very entertaining:

    Temperatures elevated as elevation dropped and I opted for air conditioning for the night in Bishop, by the next morning I needed heat, big time! :vardy
    It had been an early stop, consequently I was awake at four and soon ready and eager to ride. The day's achievement was a personal riding record that I would have rather done without - greatest daily difference in temperture. Low 30's at the start limited the mileage for the first couple of hours. I didn't mind a stop to watch sunrise paint the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains. (I don't know which peak this is, but it was pretty.)


    Marysville and a visit with my aunt and cousin was the day's destination. so I had to suffer yet another trip over the crest of the mountains. :dirtdog :D
    I chose to endure Route 4 to add to my collection of Sierra transits (108 was the only one left after this).

    Towards the summit, the road narrows to the point that the center line is discontinued. It’s a lane-and-a-half wide and has no shoulder to speak of in the high country area. There are no marked passing zones and I was disappointed to catch sight of Jeep Cherokee ahead of me as this stretch began. I rapidly closed the distance, wondering how long I might be stuck behind it. I was quite pleasantly surprised when the driver stopped in a very short straight-away and waved me by. As nice as that gesture was, I had to decline. Just as he stopped and waved, a bear cub appeared on the left side of the road about fifty feet ahead of him.
    :clap and :yikes at the same time.
    Mr. Jeep driver was looking his mirror at me and hadn’t noticed the bear. He had to be wondering why I was exaggeratingly shaking my helmeted head horizontally. His companion nudged him and pointed out the local fauna ahead. Without any appreciable delay, the cub scampered across the road and started up the steep bank on the right hand side. In a few seconds he had scrambled thirty feet above us and stopped to look around, checking us out or looking for mom - likely both. That latter possibility is what had me worried. Cute as that little booger was, I didn’t want to chance an encounter with momma, so I passed on the wonderful photo-op. The jeep moved ahead to a small pull-off spot on the left about where the cub had first appeared. I paused on their right and had a brief exchange with the couple, thanking them for the wave-on offer even it I couldn’t take them up on it. They looked like they were going to critter gaze for a bit and I moved on. As much as it pains me to admit it, there are times when being encased in sheet metal and glass cage has its advantages.

    After that it was a great ride until the rheostat cranked up to ROAST! I finished the ride in the upper 90's, and I don't mean mph. I'm sure others have experienced single day day temperature swings greater than the 65+ I saw, but that's not a record I ever want to break.
  2. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Revisionist History

    Spent a day at my aunt's place, cousin Joe came by for dinner and I learned that he would be getting hitched next summer, so I penciled that in as another cross-country ride. :ricky :wings

    Back on the road, elevation and temperature swings continued as I made my way through Lassen and Crater Lake National Parks.
    Lassen approach road pron:


    Mt Shasta in the distance:

    Unlike my first visits in the 80's, the road through Lassen was not flanked by twenty foot walls of snow and I was able to exit Crater Lake via the north entrance this time.
    Petrified fumaroles at Crater Lake:

    I also noted that the story of Crater Lake underwent a significant narrative change in the intervening time as well. Signage there use to claim that the lake was the remains of a 12,000 foot mountain that exploded, leaving a six mile wide crater at about 7,500 feet. The explanation on this visit is that the mountain collapsed on itself after a series of massive eruptions exhausted the magma within. Not that it would have been healthy anywhere near there at the time, but subsiding into an evacuated cavity isn't nearly as dramatic as a supermassive KABLOOIE!
    (I just finished reading Calvin and Hobbes, my inner 6-year-old is still disappointed.) :lol3

    The Lake:

    Wizard Island:

    Further north the next day, during a visit at the Sheep Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, I found myself reading signage along with an older English gentleman. We both assumed that John Day must have been a prominent figure in the history of the locale.
    As it turned out, John Day was a member of Astor’s overland group sent west to establish a trading post at Astoria. John was attacked by Indians and left naked at the mouth of a Columbia River tributary where he was rescued by others. That river was named for him and the subsequent town and monument names were derived from the river’s name. John Day never got within a hundred miles of the place. Upon learning that he wasn't following in John Day's footsteps, the British chap's reaction was, "Well, I'm dashed!" :lol2

    Oregon Scenery:

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  3. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    The Best Park & Ride

    The best time to visit Yellowstone is the shoulder seasons, before mid-June and after Labor Day. I had been there in early June with Clare and friends from England and it was great. An encore was in order and I camped in the park proper for a night, not as many critters this time around, but hiking through some of the geyser basins was quite satisfying. And I took care of all my Christmas shopping. :clap

    During the early summer visit we discovered huckleberry syrup. :dukegirl
    When I was at Glacier on the outbound leg, I had picked up a bottle of said elixir and sent it home with some other excess items. The syrup didn't make it - one of my T-shirts gained an interesting tie-dyed effect. So I got some more during the day here and sent it off along with the other gifts. On my way out of the park the next morning, I found huckleberry jams and such 50% off. I managed to find room in the bags for a couple more bottles. :deal

    Old Faithful:

    Beehive Geyser (it was spouting off about twice a day at the time):


    Heart Spring:



    Morning Glory:



    Too many geyser gazing pictures of the park, I'll cover the Ride tomorrow (Beartooth Highway) :deal
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  4. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Long Riders

    The accounting got a bit out of sequence, so some clean up first:
    I had looped north into Idaho on my way to Yellowstone and camped near Idaho City. The next morning I met camera buff John at the breakfast stop. From NY, He on the outbound side of a month and a half west coast sojourn on an Electra Glide. We had a good chat and exchanged contact info.

    From there I squeezed in a late day visit to the Big Hole battlefield in Montana. This was the site of a clash between the Nez Perce and U.S. troops towards the end of the tribe's unsuccessful attempt to relocate to Canada. Saw the park's film and picked up a history of the Nez Perce that was very interesting.

    Heading towards Yellowstone I saw a herd of pronghorn antelope getting a drink by slowly following a wheeled irrigation rig as in crept across a field.
    I didn't stop for a photo then, but caught these guys later on:

    A major hunk of road reconstruction forced a lengthy detour on the northwest approach to Yellowstone. Leaving to the east I had an unusual delay, but this one was fortunately much shorter. A seismic survey crew was doing some blasting to determine fault lines. Fortunately their minor earth shaking disturbances did not trigger anything of greater significance.

    Beartooth Highway ranks high on my list of favorites, but riding it always entails a personal struggle. Relaxed pace to savoir the stunning landscape, or lock the focus on the asphalt and spur the mount energetically to enjoy the roller-coaster.
    I compromised and took lots of pictures on the way out and then doubled back for a second helping of the eastern half of it. :deal :ricky



    Lots of scrunched up ground around there:

    Panorama attempt:

    Just a little bit of a drop off:


    I put down a lot of eastern miles and managed another early evening battlefield stop at the Little Bighorn National Monument. 'Custer's Last Screw-up' is my take on it, but I was moved by the national cemetery and also pleased to learn that a memorial for the Lakota and Cheyenne was soon to be erected.

    I kept moving east through the evening, spotting a road kill cow (that had to hurt:yikes)!
    I still hadn't decided where I was going to stop for the night when I pulled into a gas station in Ashland to change face shields. I noticed a motel across the road advertising $27 rooms and suddenly the day's ride was done. :deal

    Scott, a hard-tail chopper rider pulled in later and got the room next to me. His first words were, “On the road since July 22 from Maine, should finish with about 6,000 miles.” I smiled. :evil
    Though way too loud for my taste, I liked the minimalist style of his well used scoot.
  5. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Trekking East

    I wasn't done having fun yet, but the finish line was on the (distant) horizon and I was ready to follow a slightly more direct bearing to get there. My ankles had started to bother me and with the reduction in daylight hours due to season and lower latitudes, I opted for motels the rest of the way so that I wouldn't lose time camping. I could set up in under 15 minutes, but breaking down and packing up in the mornings never got much faster than 45 minutes.

    Montana presented me with tons of unidentifiable road kill which contrasted markedly with Wyoming and South Dakota. Whether that was due to less frequent sweeps by road crews, or higher demand, was undetermined. :dunno :D

    I spoke with a Pearl Harbor survivor at a Montana gas stop. His daughter ran the place and he was passing the time at a table. One specific item from the event that he related that they thought it was an exercise initially. His buddy said, “They’re using firecrackers to make it sound real.”

    Much of my meandering return route was shaped with many of my favorite national parks in mind.
    Badlands National Park was this evening's entertainment. I find it remarkable that a heap of water eroded dirt can be so beautiful.



    Those of you who have avatars displayed should recognize a familiar, though much less reduced, silhouette:

    Sunset and a fortuitous highway alignment generated another memorable motorcycle mental movie moment. Cresting a slight rise, my mile long shadow led me down the slope.

    The final days (:() were not just a headlong rush to the barn.

    Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota my penultimate travel adventure visit. I doubt that I would’ve noticed this place on the map, but my friend Jean Anne, in Berkley had mentioned it and I’m glad I stopped. It's a very small facility where Indians mined red stone from surface ditches and carved the easily worked material for the bowls of their ceremonial pipes. The stone was traded throughout most of the country and the area was regarded as neutral ground, no tribe claimed control. The displays were informative and I talked with one guy as he quarried some of the stone.

    The next day saw me skirting around Minneapolis-St. Paul where a white squirrel grabbed my attention. I couldn't get a good enough look to tell if it was an albino or not. (PJ, a skwirl nut friend of mine, informed me that naturally white colored squirrels are rare, but they are out there.)

    In front of the bird bath:

    Somewhere in Wisconsin I stopped for gas and the station turned out to be next to a veteran’s memorial park. People were gathering for a service and while I was there, state senator Dave (and 2001 Iron Butt Rally contestant) on his record holding high mileage Harley pulled in. We talked briefly, he had over 400,000 miles on the bike at the time. I believe it's now on display in Sturgis after going over a million miles (and several engines).

    And the last geographical based destination of the trip was reached:
    45°00’N Latitude, 90°00’W Longitude, the exact center of the northern half of the western hemisphere. The Rider Wearhouse catalog describes it as a, “geographical hemisphere center spot”. I’ve described as the center of the northwest hemisphere, but that's not technically accurate since hemisphere refers to half of the globe. To specify that only one quarter of the planet is involved, I call it a quadrisphere.

    The last pictures of the trip:


    Marquette, WI was where I rested my head that night.
    Breakfast the next morning, in the heart of Green Bay Packer country, reminded me that the NFL season was underway and I was amused at how much the locals sounded very much like 'dem Stiller fans', though I don't mean by their accent. A lady that reminded me of my mother said, “I might watch the start, but if they’re as bad as they have been…” I overheard another comment suggesting that they should give the backup quarterback a chance because 'Favre was no good now'. :lol3
    (He was only half way through his sixteen year stint with the Packers.)

    True to form, I had no set destination in mind for the day's ride, but as it unfolded a severe case of get-home-itis developed and once I was off the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it was interstate the rest of the way. Finished at 3:10 a.m. with 800 miles on the clock, which beat my previous single day record of 700 miles that had stood since 1983. I've bettered the mark only twice since, but both of those were special cases, so that's my personal best for a 'regular' day's ride. :deal

    When I started this collection of tales I had know idea how long it would run, so it's just a bit of serendipity that it's finishing in time for New Years. A postscript or two is still to come and then I may start another 20 year old retro ride report in 2021.
  6. Samspade

    Samspade Been here awhile

    Feb 8, 2015
    East Tennessee
    Very entertaining. Thanks for posting.
    MapMaster likes this.
  7. Shawnee Bill

    Shawnee Bill Long timer Supporter

    Feb 25, 2006
    Very interesting RR, thanks for posting. Also thanks for explaining your avatar, I have always thought it was an interesting avatar and sometimes wondered if it had some significance, not we know. :1drink
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  8. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Post-Script 1

    Happy New Year Y'all
    Here's hoping 2021 is a much improved version. :beer

    Miscellaneous accoutings:

    AK Trip Stats:
    2½ months (78 days to be precise)
    20,500 miles (20,984 per the odo, but it's off about 2%)
    2½ sets of tires
    1 chain and sprocket set
    1 set of spark plugs
    3 oil/filter changes
    24 rolls of film
    1 tip-over
    6 attempted vehicular homicides (malice and intent are not a prerequisite)

    John's film addiction:
    I exchanged e-mails with John, the rider I met in Idaho City after I got back. He finished his trip in November and ran into some snow on the return leg. I sent him the brief listing of trip figures and he replied that my statistics blew his away except for film use. I had shot twenty-four rolls in eleven weeks. He exposed sixty-nine rolls in seven weeks. No wonder he hit snow! Stopping for photos that often, he was lucky to get home before spring. :lol3

    Parks/monuments/museums of note for the year's campaign:
    (NP= National Park, NM = National Monument)

    Acadia NP
    Lake Itasca SP
    Glacier NP
    Denali NP & Preserve
    Kenai Fjords NP
    Alaska Native Heritage Center
    Wrangel - St Elias NP & Preserve
    Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park - Skagway Unit
    Misty Fjords NM (Fish Creek outside of Hyder)
    Olympic NP
    Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument
    Redwood Forest NP
    Borderfield SP Ca
    Lassen Volcanic NP
    Crater Lake NP
    Newberry Volcanic NM
    John Day Fossil Beds NM - Sheep Rock Unit
    Big Hole Battlefield NM
    Yellowstone NP
    Little Bighorn Battlefield NM
    Badlands NP
    Pipestone NM

    I certainly got full use out of the annual US parks pass I purchased at Acadia. :nod

    Banff NP
    Jasper NP
    Yoho NP
    Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Center
    Waterton Lakes NP

    Geographic way points:
    Southern most point of continental US - Keywest FL
    Northeast points of the contiguous US - West Quoddy Head and Estcourt Station ME
    Lake Itasca - headwaters of the Mississippi River
    Northwest point of contiguous US - Cape Flattery WA
    Southwest point of contiguous US - Borderfield State Park CA
    Center of NA - Rugby ND
    Artic Circle AK
    All 5 controlled land border crossing between the US and Canada
    All 7 Canadian paved road crossings of the NA continental divide between the Pacific and Arctic Ocean watersheds
    The center of the northwest quadrisphere - 45°00’N, 90°00’W
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  9. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Post-Script 2

    I wanted to conclude with some deeply philosophical and insightful thoughts on what the trips mean after reflecting on them from this 20 years-in-the-future perspective.


    But after much typing, what I had was only worthy of being flushed. :flush

    Even an attempted array of alliterative assaults attained absolutely abysmal results. :D

    So story time is over, though I reserve the right to come back and add or amend as needed. :deal

    And since my sig line is not visible in some viewing applications, if you're interested here's the link to a listing of my other ride reports, including the reprise Alaska run in 2015:

    Thanks for the encouragement and compliments.
    I hope y'all enjoyed the ride.
  10. fastpast

    fastpast Been here awhile

    Dec 13, 2017
    So Cal east
    Thanks for taking the time to post all of this. Enjoyed every minute of it. Makes me want to get back to Alaska soon!!
    MapMaster likes this.
  11. Ol Man

    Ol Man Long timer Supporter

    Sep 17, 2010
    Apple Valley, Calif
    It has been a fun read. Thanks.
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  12. bjor1978

    bjor1978 Adventurer

    Sep 30, 2019
    Cromwell, CT
    Appreciate any and all attempts at amusing Alaska abound alliteration. :clap
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