A Short Scooterist on a Long Ride: Around the USA by Vespa

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Quezzie, May 13, 2014.

  1. Quezzie

    Quezzie A. Scootertramp

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    167
    Location:
    My Vespa
    The Indoor Life in Whitehorse, YT. May 19 - 21, 2017.

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    Nothing in Whitehorse is more than 10 minutes away, because if you've gone any farther you're pretty much in the wild. The town was just big enough to have what I sought: a large grocery store where I availed myself to some produce (and gasped at the prices), and a cozy hostel with blackout curtains.

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    Beez Kneez Bakpaker is a quintessential hostel.

    Nancy, a most remarkable woman who manages the hostel in town, informed me that the ferry at Dawson City was operating and the Canadian side of the Top of the World Highway was open. However, no one was staffed at the U.S. Border Patrol yet, so I wouldn't be able to cross. Rain was in the forecast for the next few days as well, so I took this as a welcome invite to spend my days reading in the common area and chatting with other hostel guests.

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    Bertha runs security.

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    Basalt cliffs at Miles Canyon.
    When I wanted a break from the indoor life, Nancy recommended a mini adventure to Miles Canyon just outside of town.

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    The suspension bridge shook in the wind as I crossed.

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    I picked a short trail with a warning, For experienced hikers only. No railings along the footpath, just a sheer drop to the Yukon below.

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    Hark, an outcropping. I must climb it.

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    Climbed it. Yay.

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    View from the outcropping. You can see the lava-formed columns and the jagged path atop.

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    Brave kayaker.

    There were a number of hiking trails and what looked like fire roads, but the gathering rain clouds gave me an excuse to hustle back indoors.

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    Yukon River.

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    Now that's a stylish way to get around.

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    Nobody home though.

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    Beer and liquor tasting at the Yukon Brewing.

    Anyway, I had an appointment with Roberta from the hostel to tour Yukon Brewing.

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    A lone still peeking from behind beer.

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    I was wondering who 'Lee Doug' was until I realized I'd misheard the guide. The beer is called Lead Dog.

    For the remainder of the afternoon, I settled into a large couch by the window with my book, a handful of raspberries, and a warm buzz (the espresso stout and haskap berry liqueur were my favorites). The chatter of Spanish climbers at the table mixed with whatever was playing quietly on the sound system: Nancy's choice. Roberta worked on her laptop from the opposite couch. It was everything I needed.

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    The Deck cracks me up, because it's an indoor space decorated to look outdoors.

    There weren't many restaurants open, but Roberta and I set up at The Deck. Over dinner, I learned about first nations in Canada and her graduate studies; Roberta is Cree, and was interviewing first nations on this side of the continent for her graduate studies.

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    Car ride to Atlin with Alex and Nancy! Bill is driving.

    On Nancy's day off, she invited Alex and I to join her for her first skydiving experience. Bill came to pick us up for the drive to the launch site near Atlin.

    "I think I'm allowed back at the Atlin Inn," Nancy remarked as she threw some warm layers and a 6-pack of beer in the car. Over the course of the day the beer would magically vanish, though I only saw her pound one of them when we refueled at Jake's Corner. She was nervous about the jump.

    It was a ragtag family outing. In the car, we could cover distances that would otherwise be exhausting for me on the bike. Along the drive, we paused for scenic views, or for Alex, from Australia, to get out of the car to chase wildlife with her point-and-shoot. The car had a CD player and we found one CD of an artist I didn't know, but Nancy sang along. She would point out things to Alex and I, like the 'free store' on the other side of the road: a cabin where people drop off their extra things, and other people pick it up. Or the origin of the names for nearby Snafu and Tarfu Lakes.

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    Windy out here.

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    Aww. Scenery and piss break.

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    I didn't know porcupines climbed.

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    Alex is keen to get a photo.

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    Atlin.

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    Nice shot, Nancy.

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    Alex and I are here to support your jump...

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    ...Out of a helicopter!

    Years ago, I was lucky enough to join a daring friend to go skydiving in New Hampshire. It was several hours of waiting, leading up to about 7 seconds of full adrenaline dump. Optional followup with beer, attempting to chill the fuck out again.

    This would be Nancy's first jump. While she waited for the skies to clear, she convinced Bill to take Alex and I for a drive to Warm Springs.

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    Warm Springs. It's an oasis of bright green in an otherwise wintry setting. Bill says spring is 10 days late, just my luck.

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    The water was warm like a bath. I picked a handful of watercress for Alex, and saw tiny prawns swimming among the salad bar.

    While looking for a bag to hold Alex's watercress, Bill instead found a pair of spare underwear in the center console. Ha, Nancy.

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    Clock post and old jail in Atlin. Hopefully won't get kicked out of the Atlin Inn and thrown in here?

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    Discovery Saloon, connected to the Atlin Inn, where Nancy was indeed allowed back in.

    In the end, the skies never cleared enough for even a helicopter ride. We picked Nancy up from the airport for a consolation drink and pot pies at the Discovery Saloon. "That's socked in, eh," she intoned, looking out the window at the stubborn cloud cover.

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    Atlin Lake.

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    "Good place to keep your beer cold." -Nancy

    We took a different way back to Whitehorse, for a brief visit to Carcross.

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    Another lake, from Carcross. I believe there's a glacier in the distance.

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    Back at the hostel, alpinists and their gear. Photo by Alex.

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    Thanks for the pic, Alex.

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    His team attempted to summit Mount Logan, but had to come back due to a teammate's high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE).

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    Climbers need to plan enough food for the way up, the way down, and double that in case of emergency. True alpinists don't get helicoptered out if something goes wrong. Now that his friends have gone home, he's eating through his supplies.

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    I got to try a bit of his climbing bread with a pat of butter, on the most adorable cutting board.
    It makes me think of elven waybread,
    Lembas.

    Adding to the growing list of people way more hardcore than me riding a scooter to Alaska: Cyclists, kayakers, hikers, and alpinists of any variety.

    For me, I had hardcore rest and relaxation plans at the nearby hot springs.

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    Takhini Hot Springs, a short ride outside Whitehorse.

    Their cafe was more than I wanted to pay for, but it's pretty wild to savor a snowy mountain view while soaking in steaming mineral water.

    Flushed and with a relaxed heaviness in my limbs, I found an eagerness to feel the cold tickling the edges of my face through the helmet vents. I was ready for the road again.

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    One last chill evening at Beez Kneez.

    News came in that U.S. border had opened on Sunday. A fresh group of guests arrived at the hostel, and the consensus was to go to Dirty Old Bastard for a night on the town. It was a surprisingly hipster kind of place but our party befriended local patrons, and not long into the Whitehorse bar scene a women introduced me to the Burnt Reynolds shot. It arrived on fire, and with instructions to drink it like this:

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    Thanks for demo of how to drink the Burnt Reynolds shot.

    In an ongoing series of "you had to be there" moments, a very drunk man invited me to pick mushrooms with him (morels were lucrative and in season) before sliding off his seat, and I found a mummified cat before the end of the night.

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    In other peculiarities, a mummified cat guards the restroom of Dirty Old Bastard.

    Our party ended up staying out till 2am and walked back in twilight – a fitting farewell. I was sad to part ways, but the nature of a hostel, as any gathering of travelers, is fleeting. The regular cast of waywards in the past few days – hitchhikers, students, climbers, cyclists, kayakers, seasonal workers, or someone just looking for a home – were a colorful insta-family after so many miles solo, but after I left there would be no one to share this tiny slice of mutual history in Whitehorse.
  2. Quezzie

    Quezzie A. Scootertramp

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    167
    Location:
    My Vespa
    Sorry for the lapse in updates, guys! I've been juggling fixing my bike, catching up on the blog, visiting my family, and regular old February blues (not much riding, alas). Thanks for the blog shout out, Kestrel, and thanks to everyone else for continuing to read along. I'll get the thread up to date.
    george248, B10Dave, Max Wedge and 6 others like this.
  3. Quezzie

    Quezzie A. Scootertramp

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    167
    Location:
    My Vespa
    Sourtoes and Shipwrecks. Dawson City, YT. May 22 - 23, 2017.

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    Dawson City is a destination in its own right, though the usual attractions – Klondike gold rush history, gold panning, cabaret, and other old mining town and frontier sales pitches – were not what drew me there. I wanted to ride the Top of the World Highway, which started at the landing point of the George Black Ferry.

    But a stop at a historic mining town along the way was swell, too.

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    A break in the endless spruce.

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    Poking around Montague Roadhouse Historic Site.

    Embarking towards Dawson instead of taking the Alaska Highway to Tok meant embracing the unpaved surfaces ahead. I'd left the pavement before for Baja, but it was more a test of patience than technique on my overloaded Vespa. Before setting off, I pored over The Milepost's map for the Klondike Loop, trying to anticipate road conditions. I did this, in spite of knowing I'd only be ready when I found myself there.

    Distances between development stretched even farther – the Yukon's test of patience for my Vespa had already begun. I just held the throttle open.

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    Trying to warm up with hot soup in Carmacks.The placemat depiction of a mosquito carrying off a VW was barely hyperbole.

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    Canadians have the best chip flavors.

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    Brr.

    It's on stretches like these that my mind wanders, its latest fixation being to script whole conversations in my head with people I miss. How many hours I wished they could be with me, sharing the sights, smelling the spice of pine in the air, feeling the temperature rise with the sun. I explained myself to no one but the sky and the road, justified my actions to blue mountains on the horizon and an evergreen blur of trees flitting by.

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    There sure is a lot of space for introspection here.

    Ahead of me in Haines, a ship waited to take me back to the mainland. I intended to reach it, but hopefully after a heavy dose of glaciers, ghost towns, and wild beauty because I also didn't want to get there. Arrival would set in motion the next series of events, culminating in a return ticket to Boston. Fred was settled there, but I remembered when I first returned to New England and realized it had become just one more destination – no more a home than another stop along the way. High speed internet had petered out since Vancouver, and every choppy FaceTime call was a disjointed reminder of another world. I hadn't seen Boston since last year, a lifetime ago. I wondered if Fred felt like he had a ghost for a girlfriend, my things alongside his, living in Cambridge even when I didn't.

    Is home just a place for your stuff, or is it more useful to see it as a state of mind? I once had a vision for it, but it's obscured now, or multiplied, like a kaleidoscope.

    Surely I was racking up sleep debt.

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    Canadian topes? They're much more polite.

    Drivers had complained of the frost heaves on the way to Dawson City, but I mostly picked my way around them. Mostly. While lost in made-up conversations in my head, at least one caught me unawares and launched me clean into the air.

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    Destination for the night.

    It was a bit chilly to camp, but the hotels in a tourist town were expensive for a solo traveler. There were two hostels, one across the river and a new hostel in town. Nancy dissuaded me from the one across the river, so I pulled up to the Cat's Pyjamas.

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    Historic building on the front...

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    ...historic character where you're actually staying.

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    Walk about town.

    At the height of the gold rush, Dawson City ballooned to a population of 40,000 – unimaginable, when a brisk walk could find you at the edge of town in less than 15 minutes now. The storefronts and boardwalks looked like a movie set to me, but unfortunately movies and Disney rides were the only things I knew to measure Dawson against.

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    Cabin next to the Klondike Visitors Association, but I don't recall if it belonged to someone of note or if it was reconstructed to Yukon historic standards.

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    Placard on the right explains the use of old flattened barrels for siding.

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    Ruby's Place was a brothel and later a boarding house. Businesses are all themes of gold, diamond, and bonanza.

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    The vibrant colors add to the unreality feel, but maybe it's more cheerful in high tourist season.

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    Building on permafrost has some drawbacks.

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    Definitely some drawbacks.

    Let's just say, the Cats Pyjamas made my freshmen dorm look swanky. Though the metal bunks were shored up with planks, mine required some acrobatic prowess to mount since it was missing some reinforcement. I managed to sleep a night without squashing my lower bunkmate.

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    Ragtime piano player at the Downtown Hotel.

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    Our group of intrepid young travelers are here for...

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    ...the Sourtoe Cocktail!

    "Drink it fast or drink it slow, the lips have gotta touch the toe." I'd missed getting Hyderized, but I guess I couldn't escape all the weird northern alcohol traditions.

    At the recommendation of previous patrons, I had my Sourtoe Cocktail with Newfoundland Screech Rum. I believe the finer points of the liquor were lost to the spectacle of the little salami-like object plunked in my drink.

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    Captain Dick Stephenson's Sourtoe cabinet.

    As I stared down into the glass, I thought for a moment I saw a little brown chip, like a toenail, that had fallen off and sat at the bottom. It was merely a reflection in the glass, but pointing it out satisfactorily grossed out my new friends.

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    The value is in grossing out your friends. Especially the vegetarian!

    Five dollars, what a racket! At least the good Captain will give your glass a tap if the toe gets stuck to the bottom.

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    Washing out the taste of the Sourtoe by sampling other local booze: Yukon Jack.

    Ryota was staying in the rustic hostel across the river. In keeping with Yukon authenticity, it skipped such luxuries as electricity and running water. That morning, he spent 3 hours making his own fire to cook breakfast. Guess I'll take the sloped, neglected hostel! Even though the oven looked like it was from the 1970s, and hot oil leaked out and slid across the slanted kitchen floor the last time a guest tried to use it, hey, "At least it's not the 1870s!"The other couple, because they were two, booked the cheapest hotel room on the other side of town. Ha.

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    The Pit, a tavern at the base of the bright pink Westminster Hotel, is quiet this early in the season.
    We emerged from the bar to pink skies, midnight sun trickery.

    There was some talk that night about the lack of affordable housing for the seasonal workers in town, many from Europe. The next day, hostel staff walked to the free store on the outskirts of Dawson, in search of kitchen basics like a kettle and dish sponges.

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    Scooting around town. 18 mile loop.

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    Overcast at the Midnight Dome Viewpoint.

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    I finished a photography course while in SF, and Pete loaned me his Olympus for this trip.

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    Now I get to play with lenses.

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    Scoot by some old cemeteries.

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    Why do they these graves have little cribs built around them?

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    Oh no there were babies.

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    In death, like birth?

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    RCMP cemetery.

    I took my turn on the glacially slow ferry across the Yukon, to explore a paddleboat graveyard.

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    That'll do for a bridge.

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    The sign reads: Help us preserve our heritage. Please leave the site as you found it.

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    There were clearly some footpaths around the ruined ships. Water too, sought the easiest path to the river, soaking the ground beneath the planks and turning paths into ponds.

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    Does my treading (or hopping from plank to plank) do more damage than the ravages of weather?

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    Paddling no more.

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    Hull goes there.

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    A sea of multiple shipwrecks.

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    The Yukon glides by.

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    I compressed myself in some places, and lifted myself to access others. Glad to be covered in kevlar, leather, and armor.

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    Smells musty in here. Sadly, there were some beer cans and graffiti.

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    Cast iron survivors.

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    Beached.

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    What a blast.

    With no railings or guidelines, the paddleboat graveyard was neither safe nor child proof. It was so much fun!

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    Procession going on back in town.

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    Ceremony for the rededication of an RCMP cemetery...the one I scooted by earlier.

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    There was a free BBQ after, with fiddle music and cancan dancing. Party Dawson City style!

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    Thank you for your service, handsomely dressed mounty.

    I shared a table with modern surveyors over lunch. Panning for gold in the rivers was for tourists. Their team of geophysicists and small craft pilots analyzed vast swaths of land, providing consulting services for corporations on locations most likely to be rich in minerals of any kind. A fascinating turn in modern mining, but in true nerd form (I recognize my own), they had to stop themselves short of sharing proprietary techniques.

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    Nice rig, who are you?

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    I was recommended to fill up on fish and chips at Sourdough Joe's.

    For those of who wonder how I can eat out so often on a budget: you're right, I could stretch my dollar farther by cooking my own dry goods. I do cook sometimes and always carry breakfast, but I very much enjoy eating what's available around me. For me, it's worth the extra expense, and with inflated American portions I seldom eat more than half a meal serving anyway. The other half I wrap in aluminum foil (indispensable on the bike, it also makes a funnel for oil changes), saved for another meal.

    Yep, I make it work by hoarding food. My soft cooler instead of a camp kitchen works for me, and I'm okay with eating a lot of food cold. This also hopefully curbs the tendency to balloon up on fattening road foods. I mean, my potato chip intake alone has increased 1000% since embarking north...

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    Meeting some hostel folks for the cabaret at Diamond Tooth Gerties. The can-can dancers made some of the younger guests blush.

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    I tried bribing the doorman with my leftovers from Sourdough Joe's, and it actually worked!

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    Goodbye, sinking hostel! Happy to leave this squalor behind.

    I must admit, I was eager to put Dawson City in my rear view mirror. Since all the claims had been made it had the air of a far-flung reenactment camp, capitalizing on tourists and taking advantage of the good nature of European seasonal workers. The frontier was stocked with enough ice cream and dreamcatchers for the busloads, but the real frontier was the search for a dish sponge.

    To be fair though, I can't call it a tourist trap – you're never really trapped. The fantastic, raw wildness of the Yukon was always right there, outside town.
    kpinvt, Max Wedge, YakSpout and 6 others like this.
  4. Quezzie

    Quezzie A. Scootertramp

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    167
    Location:
    My Vespa
    On Top of the World and back on American Soil. May 24 - 26,

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    From the Midnight Dome Viewpoint, if you looked on the other side of the Yukon River you could see a pale line etched into the green hills. It climbed in a straight line up the river-facing side of the mountain, then turned in a squiggle that wrapped the crumpled terrain like a dropped a piece of spaghetti. That was my first look at the Top of the World Highway, and that was where I was putting my bike.

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    A farewell stop at Alchemy Cafe, where Ryota was working. It's an unexpected slice of urbanity, next to old Dawson.

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    Easily the best coffee shop this far north in the Yukon.Resident Belgian says it's the only place with drinkable hot chocolate.

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    Clear skies for scoot out.

    'Yukon Time' is a phenomenon similar to Baja Time, in that it's completely divorced from any hands on a clock face. Safe in the knowledge that you're far from urban bustle and next-day delivery of anything, you simply take things in stride. Relax, take your time, take things as they come.

    The George Black Ferry operates on Yukon Time. I think the ice caps melt faster than this ferry.

    Naturally, I had plenty of time to adjust and made myself comfortable onshore. The ferry eventually arrived to spill out a meager sampling of walk-ons and automobiles, and I found myself sharing the return ride with a single other vehicle:

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    Loaded with Calcium Chloride, aka road salt or dust suppressant. This would later prove to be my enemy.

    On disembarkation, the entire ferry tipped like a seesaw. Planks bowed and clattered as the truck pulled itself onto the muddy shore, digging up some fantastic troughs along the way.And then there was me, skipping along up the hill, on to one of the most northerly highways in the world.

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    Climbing.

    Distant banks of snow splashed like mercury on the dark hills, and a few times I passed an old snow bank melting in dark, glittering rivulets across the dirt. The road itself took wide, sweeping turns, each one revealing a vista into a valley that was a slight variation on the last. I didn't climb to soaring altitudes but crawled along the crests of perpetual hills. They stretched to the horizon in all directions, an unending bumpy landscape that echoed the bumpy gravel beneath my tires. Steady, crunching rocks, under a magnificent lonely sky.

    Photos hardly capture the experience, so I didn't take many.

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    Much of it looked like this.

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    Hark, an outcropping.

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    I must stand on it.

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    Photo credit above to this awesome guy who pulled over for the same photo. I apologize for forgetting your name!

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    He gave me a tour of his custom-built camper van. He was like a cool uncle!

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    He was the only other person I saw on the road, and we leap-frogged each other until we caught up at this outcropping. Our two solo tourers, along the Top of the World Highway.

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    This for eternity.

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    Approaching U.S. border patrol, the little greenish speck in the upper left.

    It was 57 miles of well-graded Canadian dirt to a log cabin border crossing, and a cheerful officer stamped me back in. Then the road was beautiful, smooth tarmac.

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    I'm back on U.S. soil!

    At least, it was tarmac for 25-ish miles, then it continued in alternating patches of pavement and dirt. Like it was trying to make a good first impression and then gave up.

    Oh well, I was still bumping along on Yukon Time anyhow.

    Actually, there is a timezone change into Alaska, and I needed to swap my wallet out for this funny green currency too.

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    Boundary, AK is the first rest stop in the US after the crossing.

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    Yeah, it looks (not) open.

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    Doesn't look like these pumps have been in use for a while.

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    Picturesquely empty.

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    "Dry camp $10" There were also signs for "Save Boundary" and "Ask about legal herbs".

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    A peek inside the lodge. Guess I'll move on.

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    The road dipped down to follow alongside Wade Creek, near Jack Wade, an old mining camp.

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    Then climbed again to become the Taylor Highway.

    The Taylor Highway was narrow enough in parts to slow down for an oncoming vehicle. It dove and soared, taking me from being buried in trees to riding the mountaintops. I passed a small campground on the riverbank at Walker Fork, then the road climbed again for a spectacular view of the snaking river below. Utterly glorious.

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    Possibly my favorite views from this portion.

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    Approaching Chicken, AK.

    The most scenic views seemed to have settled down by Chicken, AK and the road turned to dust.

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    Great time for a snack break.

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    I'm the only one here.

    The cafe had pies on the counter worthy of a Pavolvian response, and stickers that said things like, "For the record, there is not a single mosquito in Chicken, Alaska. They're all married and have raised very large families." I was merely interested in buffalo chili and hot coffee.

    ...And admittedly maybe sort of chatting up Trevor, a guy from Iowa about my age who was working behind the counter. It had been a while for me, okay? Besides, I was legitimately enjoying bantering about the logistics of seasonal work, travel, and life in remote places. I only considered dry camping in the field behind the cafe for a hot second, a small fantasy within an already fantastic lifestyle.

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    Snicker.

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    Poked my head in the saloon, connected to the cafe around the back.

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    The town was setting up for Chickenstock Music Festival, coming up in a couple weeks. I was told the population swells to 3,000. This could be a tall tale, in a town that advertises no flushing toilets (they truck in many, many porta potties for the festival).

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    Chicken, AK was going to named Ptarmigan after a game bird common in the area, but miners found the spelling troublesome.Here's a photo from the gift store of more Chicken facts.

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    The Old Chicken Dredger, now a museum with tours.

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    Scott and Cliff.

    I hadn't seen a moose yet on my ride, but was recommended to check the pond by the airport – mothers liked to bath there with their young (though I shouldn't get too close). There were no moose, but I found two moose surveyors, about to take flight to count the local population.

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    Can I come? Alas, hardly space for the two of them on the plane as it were.

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    The post office employs 1/3 of the year-round residents of Chicken...

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    Robin, the Postmaster! She was already ready with chicken prop at hand when I asked for a photo.

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    Thank you for the best photo ever, Robin!

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    A bite of cherry pie, gas up and go.

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    Avoid that bit, eh.

    The road west of Chicken was more challenging than the Canadian side. It was a rough patchwork quilt of broken pavement, undecided whether to be all one or the other so it was both, poorly. Big rigs had pushed mud in the powdery earth into giant heaving ruts. As the road descended from the hills and became more exposed, the wind blew more dust sideways across the gravel and up my visor.

    But it didn't last long. The highway steadily became more solid, and was smooth sailing by the time I picked up the Alaska Highway at Tetlin Junction. All told, it was only about 90 miles unpaved.

    The last 15 minutes into Tok were easy and dull, compared to most of the day's miles.

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    Vanessa said the cabin would be the warmest option for this time of year.

    Thompson's Eagle Claw Motorcycle Park had been recommended to me for overnighting. It's an awesome, cozy camp, built with love. There's even a shed with tools for fixing your bike (I left a sticker for the toolbox).

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    Across from my cabin: Ambulance camp.

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    A metal tin wasn't going to insulate well at night, but I still wanted to poke around.

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    Hee hee.

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    Calling all units.

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    I still have bus conversion dreams, but there simply isn't enough room for jiujitsu mats.

    [​IMG]
    Vanessa is building this into a group campsite.

    After settling in and touring the grounds, I scooted back around the corner for a hearty dinner (with more fries) at Fast Eddy's. 2000% increase in french fry intake.

    It was a bit weird, using American currency again.

    [​IMG]
    Yukon--I mean, Alaska shower.

    Vanessa put the outdoor sauna on for me and the only other guests at camp that night: the couple whose sidecar rig I saw in Dawson City! I ran into them in the bath house, and muddled through my very limited French and her limited English. They had taken a year off to travel around the world, and were currently headed to Ushuaia. Cool!

    Also, I needed a walkthrough for how to shower in a setup such as this: Fire up the stove. Fill large pot with water to heat up. Pour other water on stones for steam effect while waiting. Use small saucepan to ladle hot water over yourself to wash. Pour more water on stones for further steam effect if desired? Note to self to pick up Duolingo again?

    [​IMG]
    Back at the cabin...

    The cabin I chose had four bunks with a lawn chair pad for each. Since it was only me, I channeled some Princess and the Pea and rearranged the furniture. In the end a legume didn't disturb my slumber though. After shutting the door on the midnight sun, it was the high-pitched whine of a single mosquito in the cabin that kept me awake all night.

    [​IMG]
    Found a little propane stove in the corner. This seems safe, right?
    Gear Ties are great as impromptu laundry hooks, and I escaped without flaming underwear.

    [​IMG]
    Have a fantastic ride, friendly French couple!

    I narrowly dodged making a rabbit pancake on the Alaska Highway leaving Tok, but the last stretch of miles into Fairbanks were fast and easy. A metal bridge over a frozen river here. A fill-up at Delta Junction there. My only trouble was that all coffee businesses seemed to be drive-thru, and after hitting some passing rain I had no place indoors to warm up. Outside temperatures dropped to 4 C, and I was shivering uncontrollably by the time I finally found an indoor restaurant. I poured hot coffee into my insides and pretended my chicken tenders were ptarmigan.

    It was deceiving out, sunny and bright, but so cold. The road had no more surprises for me though, only the shock of returning to a city.

    [​IMG]
    Fairbanks, AK.

    I was recommended to Sven's Basecamp Hostel, and they were friendly and cozy, but it was too cold for me to stay in their outdoors-style camp. Billie's Backpackers Hostel was full, but I must have looked worn out and Billie kindly rented me a couch at a discounted price.

    That evening a violent hail storm blew in, but I was indoors and warm. A younger group visiting from the Anchorage military base turned up. They had bottles of wine for national wine day, but no opener. I volunteered mine, offered my bottle to the mix, and guided them through a tasting. They were all cheap wines, but that's not what matters here, is it?

    It was still bright when I went to bed at midnight.
    kpinvt, qotsa, george248 and 16 others like this.
  5. jdgretz

    jdgretz Looking for new places Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,373
    Location:
    Canoga Park - A great place to live work and shop
    Love reading about your trip - even though it's a bit, ahem, overdue.

    You have such a wonderful time exploring. I've found some more new places to show you the next time you get to the Los Angeles area.

    Take care,

    jdg
    LadyDraco likes this.
  6. Offcenter

    Offcenter On The Road Again!

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    959
    Location:
    Northern New Jersey
    Hey Steph! You're back!
    Excellent! Keep 'em coming.
    okiegtrider likes this.
  7. fried okra

    fried okra Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    195
    Location:
    VA/TN/FL
    Great report again.....keep 'em coming!!!!

    fried okra
  8. engineman

    engineman Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    742
    Location:
    Eastern Iowa
    Thanks for the update! Always love seeing it pop up on my unread threads
  9. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,862
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    All is right in the world when there's more from Stephanie. :smooch
  10. phughes

    phughes Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    713
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I just stumbled across your ride report tonight. Truly loving it. I can't believe you ran into Jerry. I grew up where he had his dealership. He is a great guy and was a great dealer. He is truly a legend.
  11. Quezzie

    Quezzie A. Scootertramp

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    167
    Location:
    My Vespa
    The Dalton vs My Right Clavicle. Fractures in Arctic Circle. May 27 - 30, 2017.

    [​IMG]

    The Top of the World Highway had given me some confidence taking my Vespa on rougher terrain, but from Fairbanks I wanted to ride at least to the Arctic Circle on the Dalton Highway. I anticipated the stretch ahead to be the most challenging – the sheer distance without a soul in sight was intimidating. I went back and forth as to how far north I would travel, and to this day I'm unsure what informed my final decision. Maybe it was sleep debt. Maybe it was FOMO. Maybe it was hubris.

    As you may have guessed from the title, this doesn't end particularly well.

    [​IMG]
    Scoot's getting on in her miles.

    Renting the couch in a common area meant sunlight poured in at all hours, but it wasn't without its merits: I woke to the smell of coffee being brewed practically bedside. A guest from Rhode Island commented, "You could run a Dunk with coffee like that!" I was ready to rush in defense of Billie's roast, until I remembered that's Rhode Island for a compliment.

    Billie's Backpackers was full of things that chime and chirp, and music or NPR on the radio. It was clearly a home as well as a business. It's always a relief to find a hostel that genuinely embraces independent travelers – especially after Dawson City.

    [​IMG]
    Billie's has been around since 1991, browsing the guestbook was a trip. There were many languages.

    [​IMG]
    Polar bear claws without skin are disturbingly reminiscent of human hands.

    [​IMG]
    When you needed internet in 1999.

    The real shock for me was big-city shopping. Once the wintery mix let up, I resupplied at American chains like Safeway and AutoZone. I needed an H4 bulb; a kind man at Delta Junction told me my headlight was out, but I hadn't noticed in the constant sunlight.

    I should have felt at home back in the US. I was back among familiar currency, and Americans with whom I supposedly share customs and a value system. But I felt as foreign as ever. Perhaps I'm most at home out of my element after all. Or it's just the growing divide between my particular lifestyle and those who choose a more conventional path. Maybe it's just Alaska.

    [​IMG]
    Cool German firetruck at HooDoo Brewing Co. I was told this brewery and Chena Springs were the best things about Fairbanks.

    [​IMG]
    Meeting up with the military kids from the Anchorage base.

    I hadn't seen internet speeds like this since Vancouver, but data must have still been priced per gig – an explanation for why Blockbusters were still alive in Fairbanks. Fairbanks also appeared to have the highest concentration of Thai restaurants I'd ever seen outside of Thailand. That said, if you only visited the downtown you'd believe the town's primary pastime was alcoholism.

    [​IMG]
    I have not heard of a beerock before. Half of this came with me in aluminum foil.

    At the Cookie Jar Restaurant with the military kids, I introduced myself to a Beerock: ground beef, onion, sauerkraut, and cheddar baked into whole wheat dough. It's reminiscent of a calzone, or an oversized minced beef bun.

    Although the internet could finally keep up with a FaceTime call, it was difficult talking to Fred that evening. The difference in timezone and widening gap in shared history was piling up. After he went to bed, I poured myself a heavy glass of wine (leftover from wine day!), caught up on social media, and allowed myself to revel in longing.

    What a life it must be to traipse the world with your loved one, a constant presence amidst an ever flowing stream of new places, new languages, new cultures, new circumstances. I envied the ride reports of traveling couples, in the same breath I relished the independence of going solo – it's the only what I know how to go, anyhow. I still wonder if having access to such an individual would dull my drive to share travel to a broader audience online, but it's a moot point. There was no loved one with me except my bike, and I'd go on with her until one or both of us breaks.

    With that pity party out of the way, I readied myself for the Dalton.

    [​IMG]
    I didn't expect to meet two sisters from Hong Kong while stocking up on goodies at the farmers market!

    [​IMG]
    Billie offered to store some non-essentials while I did my Arctic loop. Black is the new black.

    Before I set off, Billie's son, Art, asked when he should call emergency services. I knew I only had enough fuel to get as far as Coldfoot, so it seemed wise to tell him I would only overnight.

    [​IMG]
    Here we go.

    [​IMG]
    The Pipeline.

    [​IMG]
    I won't incriminate myself with a photo of me climbing anything, especially pipelines with signs forbidding climbing.

    [​IMG]
    Fuel up at Yukon River Camp.

    [​IMG]
    Guess who I met over lunch at Yukon River Camp?

    Before reaching my first refuel point, I recall getting stuck behind a road grader. On that particular road in that condition I didn't feel confident in passing for a while, though a muddy van lingering behind me eventually went for it.

    Come to find out at Yukon River Camp, the van was a tour group that included Soo Young (I knew I had his name somewhere), my friend from the Top of the World Highway! He decided to spare his camper van the ravages of the Dalton and left it in Fairbanks. Instead, he joined an arctic tour group. Rachel, leading the tour, informed me I was the talk of CB radio.

    Grader: This sounds crazy, but I think I just saw a Vespa on the Dalton.

    Rachel: Yep, you did. There's a blue Vespa following you on the Dalton.

    Then Rachel passed us both. After lunch, they would go on to the Arctic Circle sign before turning around.

    [​IMG]
    Poking around the Hot Spot Cafe, at the 60 mile mark. There's free camping, and Dalton gift shopping.

    [​IMG]
    Pipeline Milepost.

    [​IMG]
    So pretty. But those clouds are hanging low.

    [​IMG]
    Landscape is giving me the Finger... Finger Mountain, that is.

    [​IMG]
    I was here.

    Research revealed several free campsites by the Arctic Circle sign, or more free sites roughly 70 miles on at Coldfoot Camp. The skies were holding up and I was feeling pretty good, so I kept riding.

    [​IMG]
    My roadside companion, the Pipeline, peeks out from under a bridge.

    [​IMG]
    So much for the clear skies. It rained and snowed for a stretch, for some white-knuckled riding. A trucker stopped and put on his hazards to make sure I was warm enough and doing okay. "You're almost through it," he assured me.

    [​IMG]
    Still wet roads.

    [​IMG]
    View from the cockpit.

    [​IMG]
    Just a scooter and a pipeline and the mountains.

    [​IMG]
    Coldfoot Camp, where there are more sled dogs than year round residents.

    [​IMG]
    One of these is not like the others.

    [​IMG]
    A warm trucker stop.

    [​IMG]
    They had a sign in Chinese, I didn't realize this was such a tourist destination.

    [​IMG]
    Portions proportional to the big rigs outside. This burger requires a sword to get through. I thought I'd change it up from the fries, and now it looks like I'll be eating tots for a while.

    Over dinner, a couple in a car regaled me with stories of how beautiful Atigun pass was that day, even though they picked up 3 flat tires since arriving in Alaska. I hadn't considered going so far north, but I had a spare tire with me, along with a patch kit and Ride-On tire sealant already applied. Atigun pass was only 70 miles on, if I woke early in the morning like I did anyway due to the sunlight it would be possible... I decided to sleep on the decision.

    [​IMG]
    I searched for a level place to camp, then just asked the cafe if it was ok to camp on the deck.

    [​IMG]
    Look at the size of this bugger.

    [​IMG]
    And the size of these buggers.

    The weather was clear in the morning. I decided to go as far as Atigun Pass for the views, return to Coldfoot to refuel, and then take advantage of the long daylight to make my way back to Fairbanks. It would be an exceptionally high mileage day, but I was up early anyhow and feeling rider-fit. Nevermind the hidden dairy in the salmon potato soup from Yukon River Camp that made a surprise reappearance at 2am, interrupting my already diminished sleep with cramps and a dash to the bathroom! I was fine now! I had enough leftover reindeer sausage and tater tots to get me back to Fairbanks! I could ride all day!

    [​IMG]
    In Fairbanks, I had stocked up on air activated heat packs meant for back pain. For limited cold riding, I stick one one across my chest and one across my shoulders, and crank on my heated gloves.

    [​IMG]
    See you later, Coldfoot.

    [​IMG]
    240 miles. Beyond the range of all my spare fuel combined.

    [​IMG]
    Sometimes the Dalton was like this.

    [​IMG]
    Sometimes it's like this.

    [​IMG]
    That's socked in, eh.

    [​IMG]
    Approaching the summit, actively snowing now. I slipped in the mud and almost dropped the bike taking this photo.

    [​IMG]
    Existence out here is equal parts challenging...

    [​IMG]
    ...and beautiful.

    [​IMG]
    Clear skies ahead.

    [​IMG]
    The other side of the pass. That's all for today!

    As I descended out of the snow and clouds on the other side of the summit, the thrill of accomplishment coursed through every fiber. I was utterly elated, my spirits were up in the clouds. I generally see myself as plodding and slow, but I'd made it. This was farther than I'd ever imagined taking my Vespa.

    But this was as far as I'd go.

    [​IMG]
    The views are pretty jaw-dropping. It makes me crave Toblerone...

    For many people, riding Alaska is a once in a lifetime experience. For whatever reason at the time, I felt I was riding as if I would come back. In retrospect, it seems ridiculous to go as far as Atigun and turn around, but I'd already built in a limit for myself. I reminded myself I wasn't here to just check off a point on a list. Besides, Art would call emergency services if I didn't arrive back.

    I hated doubling back, but the hard part was over. So I thought.

    [​IMG]
    There sure is a lot of clay on my bike...

    That may have been my undoing, thinking the hard part was over. Still gripped in the rush of excitement, I pulled over to take a photo and calm down. The high felt fantastic, but I recognized this was how I dropped my bike shortly after reaching West Quoddy Head.

    I chugged my way south again along a straight stretch of road that had been freshly sprayed down with calcium chloride. It was like riding on clay. A small mound had been pushed up in the center of the road, and for a moment I considered trying to surmount it to ride on the dry side of the road – no one was coming down the other side. Nah, it's not that bad, I thought, I'll probably wipe out trying to get over this giant ridge in the middle. I've ridden through worse and I've already done this section. The pavement will start again anytime now. So I held steady, with visions of my refuel break in Coldfoot in my head.

    That's when it started: my old enemy, a front end wobble. Maybe it was a rut in the road. Maybe I was overconfident and despite my steady speed, now that my tires were slick from snow and sealant I was going too fast for the road condition. Or I was overtired, having not slept well for too long, and my entire decision making process to go as far as Atigun was flawed. Maybe I was too rushed in the first place, trying to cram all this in before a family trip at the end of June. Maybe I should have tried to surmount the muddy crest in the center, ride on the dry side after all. Maybe I hadn't calmed down enough. Maybe maybe maybe.

    I tried to rescue it, but too quickly the oscillations became stronger and propagated into my back end. When I felt the rear tire lose traction, I knew it was going down. For a horrifying moment my entire bike danced as if on ice, traveling on a vector independent of wheel alignment, with me perched helplessly atop it.

    I don't remember exactly how the bike went down. Low side low side low side... I told myself, but the bars were ripped from my hands in an instant. Instinctively, I threw both my hands to my helmet and tucked for impact. I hit the ground on my right shoulder, the wind knocked out of me, and rolled and slid to a stop on my butt.

    One moment you're flying, the next you're hitting the ground. The truth is, everything could end at any moment. It's a truth everyone has to ignore to function, and it goes doubly for motorcyclists. You just hope it isn't your moment, not yet.

    [​IMG]
    The last shot of old blue on the Dalton before I hitched a ride to Coldfoot.

    For a surreal moment after I picked myself up from the ground, my music still played in my helmet. I shut it off and checked my limbs. Operational and accounted for. I ran to my bike and lifted it, gritting my teeth through the pain, and set it carefully on its side stand. With shaky hands, I fished 800mg of ibuprofen from my bags and pounded it. The ammo cans had been ripped off (unsurprised, they're only lightly bolted on), but I could bungee them back on until Coldfoot, I thought, and sort it out back in Fairbanks where there were hardware stores. Then I tried to put it on its center stand, and screamed in pain. Something felt...wrong.

    Through layers of thermals and leather, I checked over my right collarbone again, more closely. There it was, a bump. I would not be riding back to Fairbanks today. I couldn't believe it, I'd pulled an Alton Brown.

    There was no one in sight, except a grader (pictured above) who could not help me. I considered riding to Coldfoot before my adrenaline wore out. It was only 30 or so miles away, my cruise assist would be crucial. I needed to collect my belongings either way.

    Then I saw a pickup truck coming my way. Fuck this, I thought, and waved my good arm wildly.

    Thankfully, Mark stopped for me. He helped load my things into his truck, and agreed to deliver me to Coldfoot. My hero even offered the aid of booze and legal herb, but I wanted to remain clear-headed.

    "Is it bleeding?" he asked.

    "I don't want to know yet, but I don't feel any wetness or additional warmth."

    A mile down the road, we found my Gasolina can.

    [​IMG]
    Mark, rescuer. Thank you for turning around for me! Gratitude in droves!

    The irony is that the day before, as wind pushed sheets of freezing rain down the mountain towards me, I thought to myself, "These road conditions are no joke, I better be careful." I am not thrilled to add my bike to the list of Dalton casualties.

    Well, I hated doubling back, and now I didn't have to.

    At Coldfoot, the kind postmaster did up an impromptu sling and laid out my options: a bus would depart tonight, for a bumpy 10 hour drive to Fairbanks. Or I might be able to get a spot on a private flight around 4pm. As for my bike? Mark might be able to pick it up after his workday... or...

    Sometime in 2009 - May 28, 2017. Farther than a Vespa ever thought it would go, Serenity figured she's seen all that she could see. She belongs to the Dalton now, I thought to myself.

    [​IMG]
    Well, fuck.

    I gathered my belongings for the plane. After my up close encounter with the Dalton, everywhere I walked I left a little puff of dust, like Pig-Pen from the Peanuts. To this day, I still find caked on dust from the Dalton on my belongings, like the corner of the camera I was wearing around my neck at the time (my Nikon AW110 still works, truly shockproof!).

    The plane wouldn't depart for several hours. I'd forgotten how much waiting you do when you don't have a bike. Waiting for buses, ferries, cabs, planes...I was spoiled on my bike. It merely compounded my misery, but there was another feeling... a feeling I am a bit embarrassed to admit.

    A small part of me felt... relief. No more manic weather checking. No more camping in the cold, putting layers on layers. No more rain gear and armor and leather. No more thinking ahead about making reservations for places that fill up early. No more counting miles to gas, measuring my reserves for endurance. No more checking in with Fred on Spot or FaceTime. I don't know when this lifestyle became so tiresome, but there would be no more of it for a while. The accident would usher in an entirely new set of hurt and difficulties, but I must have been much more weary and compromised than I was aware of at the time, that somewhere in the painful mix of emotions I found a tiny part of me felt relief. I had overextended myself, much farther than I realized.

    I rushed this trip.

    [​IMG]
    The pilot found an extra seat for me. Phew.

    [​IMG]
    The plane was so small, bags had to be stored in the wings because there's no room in the cabin.

    [​IMG]
    Ear protection.

    [​IMG]
    All passengers accounted for.

    [​IMG]
    Damn.

    When you're crawling along the ground, thoroughly in the moment, it's difficult to get a sense of what kind of ground you've covered. Looking down from a plane, you're gifted with a new perspective, a sense of scale.

    [​IMG]
    The pilot took us on a slightly scenic flight path.

    These are the mountain ranges I rode through. This is the terrain I covered.

    [​IMG]
    It's beautiful from all angles, and forbidding.

    When you look at a road map of Alaska, you see the portions for automobiles barely extend over the lower quarter of the state. The rest is wilderness, fly-in only, on small propeller planes such as this one.

    I would learn later that at least one of these small planes crash every year around Atigun pass. There's an unusual draft caused by the mountains, so I was told. In spite of the excruciating pain caused by even the slightest jostle, I admired the view and our plane landed safely in Fairbanks – paradoxes of pain and beauty.

    Let's fast-forward past the boring parts in the ER, and skip to the part where I learned the only orthopedic surgeons in Fairbanks were on vacation until June 15th. I wasn't going to wait, so I got the refund for my Alaska Ferry ticket and booked a flight out of town. Billie went ahead and moved me to a private ground floor room for my last night in Fairbanks. She is the kindest.

    [​IMG]
    Left the ammo boxes for the Joe, working in the garage.

    With one good arm, I sorted out which things would come with me and jettisoned everything else. Joe dug up some cardboard boxes from the garage. My ukulele went to Heidi, Billie's daughter, who was learning to play and helped me drop off my other boxes at Fedex and USPS. I couldn't get to a grocery store, so I hung around the hostel eating leftovers, waiting for my flight.

    More waiting.

    A hitchhiker checked in at the hostel. He'd found work along the haul road for years, and shared that truckers had nicknames for many of the turns on the Elliot and Dalton, like "Oh Shit Corner," "Beaver Slide," or simply, "The Rollercoaster."

    "The Dalton does weird things to cars and bikes," he assured me.

    It was a small comfort, when I felt defensive for potentially being seen as incompetent – I'm not a reckless rider, nor am I a noob. I just wasn't careful enough this time.

    Before I took off, a British military expedition that started in Tierra del Fuego blew through.

    [​IMG]
    The guys on the British Trans-Americas Expedition, on CCM GP450s (an article on them here).

    [​IMG]
    That'll do for highway pegs.

    [​IMG]
    What is this, Samwise Gamgee's bike? Now this is an adventure!

    When the Brits departed in the morning for their final leg to Deadhorse, I found myself on the other side of the rider and those-left-behind divide. I checked the weather and told them everything I could about the portion I'd seen, even though I knew they'd seen more swash-buckling adventure in less time that I ever had. They also had the benefit of dedicated training, two medics, and a mechanic in the party, plus the endorsement of the British Armed Forces to my...well, just me trying to get by wearing all the hats. Still, I couldn't help but tell them, "Be careful. Get there safely."

    [​IMG]
    Mobility was limited, but I had so much leftovers from Coldfoot Camp. I made two more meals of reindeer without having to leave the hostel. Remarkably, nobody drank the rest of the bottle of wine I'd left at Billie's either.

    And that was it. I was off to the airport. What was left of my life that wasn't on the side of the Dalton, was packed into a bulk toilet paper box, a desktop printer box, and a single flat-rate shipper. I lived so light and fast, my life could be shipped across the continent for about $150, and the rest carried on one good shoulder.

    Not exactly how I wanted to remember this leg of the journey, but there it is.
    kpinvt, ShimrMoon, vtwin and 19 others like this.
  12. Salsa

    Salsa Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,254
    Location:
    Arizona, Alaska
    Sorry to hear about your crash, but the good news is that a collar bone is about the quickest bone in your body to heal.

    Mine took 3-4 weeks.

    Don
    Quezzie and TM1(SS) like this.
  13. Quezzie

    Quezzie A. Scootertramp

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Oddometer:
    167
    Location:
    My Vespa
    Convalescence in Ballard. May 30 - June 28, 2017.

    [​IMG]
    Bling on my sling, thanks to Gwynne and Fred.
    "I wear black on the outside, 'cause black is how I feel on the inside" patch is available here!
    Felix on a blue scooter pin is not available. ;)

    Home was always a conundrum for me. Is it the place you're born, or the place where most of your stuff is kept? Is it a feeling, a state of mind, or certain people?

    Where does someone without a physical home go, when they need to recover from more than just travel fatigue?

    Between the cloudiness of painkillers, I made the verdict for where I wanted to spend a month recuperating. Not San Francisco or Providence or Boston, though I'd find my way back there eventually. The summer wasn't over for me. My boxes from Fairbanks were shipped to Boston, but I knew where I wanted to make my memories of healing: Seattle, near Gwynne and Tom.

    On the flight, I saw my first sunset in weeks, and the first nighttime I'd seen since Dease Lake. Many people might see this as returning to 'normal', but I didn't feel it. What is normal, and what use is it anyhow?

    As the plane began its descent, clusters of warm, fiery lights outlined Vancouver Island. Cities. Real cities. That's when I finally felt anticipation. I may not be normal, but I'm an urbanite at heart after all.

    [​IMG]
    The best days in the backyard. Korean BBQ optional but encouraged.

    It felt fitting to fall into a Siak and Eykemans home again, and I was so grateful they would have me. Gwynne usually worked from home, and in a way the days felt like we were just hanging out like we did as kids.

    Even the doctor's visits were reminiscent of childhood – after my family moved to Beijing, each summer we would return to Atlanta and my sister and I would endure an onslaught of visits with our pediatrician, optometrist, dentist... interspersed with sunny, summertime sleepovers with our Chinese community extended family. This time, in Seattle, I only had appointments with one specialist: an orthopedic surgeon.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Before: From this angle, you can see the bone nearly poking through the skin, 'tenting' was the phrase the doc used. Prior to going into the operating room, Gwynne helped me sign which side needed work. Don't mistakenly operate!

    [​IMG]
    After: I'm now reinforced with a titanium plate and 7 screws.

    By the end of the week, I was in for surgery (yup, apparently I don't do anything in half measures, including fractures), and the rest of the month would be dedicated to sleeping on my back and learning how to navigate basic tasks with my non-dominant arm.

    [​IMG]
    A weekend walk to Pike Place, where no one local actually shops.

    [​IMG]
    Country Dough picnic with Gwynne and Tom. Jian bing and hand-cut noodles, Seattle really has is all.

    [​IMG]
    Restroom at Pike Place Market are for running with emergency babies!

    I'm immeasurably grateful Tom and Gwynne took me in. Gwynne picked my drugged-up ass out of surgery, and supplied me with the only things I could stomach with my regime of antibiotics and Oxycodone: applesauce squeeze packs, miso soup, chicken broth, and prunes (another fun side effect of Oxy: constipation). It was the saddest diet, and for the first couple days I still vomited up most of it.

    I slept upright in their couch for a couple nights, before I could move onto the futon in their library. Fracture aside, it was a treat to be among their books, a fantastic, eclectic collection of prose, graphic novels, and art books. Once I was strong enough to keep food inside me, I pored into many of them. I felt right at home, with Tom's kungfu weapons at the head of the futon.

    [​IMG]
    What else to do during my enforced rest...

    [​IMG]
    Olie (short for the Dutch doughnut or 'oil ball') is very interested. She doesn't get up for much else.

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    I bear-y much enjoyed Wonder Woman.

    Since I was increasingly mobile, I found that supporting my arm with a small pillow was a comfortable way to move about. Specifically, the wedge shape of this bear-printed pillow, who usually sat on the couch, seemed to fit perfectly. So I adopted a new friend, and he joined Gwynne, Tom, Megan and I to watch Wonder Woman.

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    Spying on local scooter nerds in Ballard.

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    Other curious Ballard characters, along Cosbee's walk. There's even an article in The Stranger about the lawn Laputa robot.

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    Gwynne and I did our own take on bunny chow.

    After a visit to The Cederberg Tea House, a South African cafe with rooibos tea espresso and Bunny chow, Gwynne and I decided to try making our own. However, the soft, Japanese milk bread we had in mind was out of stock at H Mart, so we worked with what we could get: Banh mi loaves, Korean curry paste, and some kale in a nod to our Pacific Northwest locale. I'd heard that Singaporeans were already in on curry in a loaf, but I can't believe more people haven't discovered this winning combination!

    We've dubbed our creation the Curry Canoe.

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    You saw the Curry Canoe here first!!

    The eating is so good in Seattle.

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    Olie is so interested. She's also the cat featured on Gwynne's patch on my sling.

    In case you were wondering what became of Fred, I asked if he would visit for a week in Seattle!

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    Lunch at Fort St George was a must, for nostalgia for the summer Grace and I spent in her International District apartment.
    We would rent videogames from Pink Godzilla (now Pink Gorilla), eat here, and browse the vintage stores on Capitol Hill.
    My old favorite: tarako spaghetti.

    Gwynne loaned us her 1986 Volvo DL 240, and between her car and my old favorites from summers spent with Grace, all sorts of happy nostalgia buttons were pushed.

    After months apart, Fred and I toured Seattle on our own a bit, making new memories.

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    Fremont Troll got Fred!

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    Part of a restored storefront tour, with the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

    This is slightly embarrassing, but I previously didn't know Chinatowns exist due to enforced racial segregation, much like other ethnic settlements of European immigrants. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese from living and working outside a small designated area, and prohibited them from owning property. Back in the day, Chinatown Seattle consisting largely of overcrowded boarding houses, with many bunks per room, rented by the week or month. Workers from the mid-1800s gold rush couldn't bring their families over, so the boarding houses became long-term settlements for primarily men. They soon gained a reputation for poor living conditions and violence. For protection and sanctuary, Chinese immigrants often signed up with a local 'house' family name (there's one for the character 'Yue' though it was anglicized to 'Yee'). We had a chance to tour one, with the Wing Luke museum.

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    If you look closely, this fire door is made with tin from soy sauce cans.

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    Mahjong in the common area.

    Some of the largest family houses still stand in historic Chinatown Seattle. They're in extraordinary disrepair. With hundreds of descendants claiming right to some piece of the property, it's impossible to move forward with either restoration or demolition.

    The restored upstairs portion of the Wing Luke Museum walked you through three different waves of Asian Pacific immigration, with a room for each. It's a very cool museum off the beaten path.

    It's not all dimsum and noodles, but still fascinating.

    They also had a Bruce Lee exhibit!

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    The Bruce Lee exhibit had a small mirror room, a la Enter the Dragon. I resisted the urge to "destroy the image" and get kicked out of the museum.

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    Vintage illustrated guide to BJJ, first printed in 1942!

    Across from Wing Luke it smelled like ice cream cones, from a 100 year old noodle and fortune cookie factory.

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    Unfortunate cookies at Tsue Chong noodle and cookie factory, founded in 1917.

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    The Fremont Rocket bears the motto, "De Libertas Quirkas" – "Freedom to be peculiar."

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    Stay peculiar, Fremont.

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    Meeting up with Dionne and Ruth at Backfire moto night (I went to one back in 2014!).

    Remember Dionne and Ruth from earlier in the month? Since I was back in town, we met up again at Backfire motorcycle night. Over dinner, we shared excitement and apprehension for our September Pakistan trip. None of us knew Liza, the organizer, well at the time. Ruth had ridden with an all-women group before, and Dionne had plenty of ADV miles in a handful of nations. I, on the other hand, boasted the title of... resident scooterist.

    In lieu of expectations (useless in travel), my biggest concerns were over road conditions. Both Dionne and Ruth had some off-road background, but I wouldn't be recovered enough to participate in anything off-road until I arrived on Pakistani soil. Fred, with his XY chromosomes, was off the hook for this one too.

    There were many questions marks, but for our dinner group the real risk seemed to be busting a gut laughing and sending food flying out of a nose. I had the feeling that those two could handle whatever was thrown their way, and I just hoped I could land on my feet as well.

    Liza Miller and Moin Khan's all-women Pakistan trip would be many new things for me. It was certainly something to look forward to and concentrate on while healing.

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    Wandering around Discover Park.

    Normally, you have to hike a couple miles to the lighthouse from the Discovery Park parking lot. However, because I showed up at the visitor center in a sling, the receptionist handed Fred and I the coveted handicap plate that would grant us access to parking by the trail head!

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    I don't think I could even afford a driftwood house hereabouts.

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    Damn the summer is fantastic though.

    Gwynne refers to June and July as 'recruitment months' in Seattle.

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    Getting my PNW on.

    Pulling a regular shirt over my head was still extremely painful, but I was beginning to exhaust Gwynne and Tom's supply of loaner button downs. So I adopted the local uniform and picked up a cheap flannel or two at a second hand store.

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    Starting in on Dionne's gift, a primer of sorts for Pakistan. She gave a copy to Ruth, too. Unfortunately, I found the information dated, reductionistic, and unhelpful for women. Later, Dionne and Ruth shared similar sentiments. Better to arrive without expectations!

    An unintended perk of recovering in Washington was the legal status of marijuana. Oxycodone was prescribed to me during recovery, but it gave me terrible nausea. I stopped taking the pills as soon as the doctor allowed. Instead, many lovely afternoons were passed in a hammock in the backyard, reading and vaping from a high CBD cartridge.

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    In my recovery time, bear pillow acquired a collection of dashing hand-knit accessories.

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    A photo update from Mark, hero of the Dalton! He picked up my bike and hauled it to his camp, near Galbraith Lake. My Vespa went farther north than I did! When his job finished, Mark would bring it to his home in Anchorage.

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    Stopped by Cafe Racer to say hi to Jackie and help stuff rally bags for Amerivespa 2017. When things got crowded, Gwen and I made up the peanut gallery, her in crutches me in a sling. Ha!

    Accidents and injuries are an unavoidable topic among motorists, and perhaps some people find themselves thinking, "Damn, that sucks," or even, "Glad that wasn't me." I suspect every rider needs to believe some version of, "That sucks, but it isn't going to be me," or they would never get on a bike again. Until it is you. Then you must handle it accordingly.

    I literally rode my home into the ground, yet I didn't feel like I failed. I saw a lot, and succeeded well beyond anything I'd imagined. Now I was spending a month making warm memories in the company of some of my dearest friends, during the most glorious months in Seattle.

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    Another backyard grill out, how will we stand it.

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    Korean spare ribs, corn, and jalepeno poppers!

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    Found another great use for my sling (so glad to be off the Oxy, I'd much rather enjoy wine).

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    Managed to catch Grace, while she's resupplying in town before her next assignment. Ultimate Seattle nexus!

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    Molten chocolate cake at Hot Cakes.

    Many people share ride reports but not enough talk about recovery. Who can blame them, the refractory period sounds far less exciting, and is often quite private (in all senses). Increasingly, I'm realizing time spent focused inward is just as important as time spent in the world beyond.

    When I gave up my apartment in Providence three years ago, I truly gave up a place of recovery. For me, it was a non-negotiable price of entry. As much as I wished for boundless endurance I had to concede, my current model of overlanding may be unsustainable. My model needs adjustment.

    Boston loomed in my future, and although it wasn't my favorite city, it had the distinction of containing one particular Fred. My flights were already booked.

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    One last visit to Olaf's, through the door to Valhala, before taking off.

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    Hey, Rat City Rollergirls has a pinball machine!

    Before I resigned myself to Boston for an indefinite amount of time, there was one more destination this summer I did not want to miss. It was the family trip I was rushing through Alaska to make.

    By the end of June, I could comfortably keep my arm out of the sling most of the time. It was time for a true vacation – two weeks, no blogging, no doctors visits, no pushing my endurance. Just me, my family, and closest family friends... in PERU!

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    Peace out!
  14. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,097
    Location:
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Thanks for this update and story of your recovery Stephanie. Good to see you havn't lost your sense of humor during your down time. Looking forward to the story of recovery and rebuild of your scooter. Ride on young lady, ride on.
  15. jdgretz

    jdgretz Looking for new places Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,373
    Location:
    Canoga Park - A great place to live work and shop
    Damn, Stephanie - your break beats mine all to pieces (pardon the pun).

    Good to know everything worked out well. Watching the rebuild and parts replacement modifications on your Instagram.

    *hugs*

    jdg
    Quezzie likes this.
  16. BluegrassPicker

    BluegrassPicker Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    544
    Location:
    Rochester, MN
    Well Done!
    LadyDraco likes this.
  17. advmoto66

    advmoto66 Ride On!

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,852
    Location:
    Dirt Bike Nirvana Phoenix, AZ
    Awesome update and glad you survived the Dalton, between the freshly plowed gravel and the Mag chloride the road definitely is very challenging when you add in all the factors. Btw stay away from those darn opioids the side effects are not worth the time of day when you are in a state with legal cannabis there are multiple ways to take if smoking isn't your thing. I will definitely return to AK again but will slow down and really enjoy everything at a slower pace.
  18. Daveark

    Daveark Doing No Harm

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2012
    Oddometer:
    7
    Location:
    DFW
    Stephanie,

    Just another one of the many who silently keep up with your travels over the years.

    Glad you are healing and that the crash wasn’t much worse. Good grief girl, the perils you seek out...

    Your writing style is wonderful. For this reader (and many more I’m certain), the generousity of your writing consistently feels as if you are sharing private insights with a friend. The quirkily awesome sense of humor is a bonus.

    I admire the rebuild of your scooter. I wish you could allow yourself to tolerate more than one ride to ease your path just a bit. I am not that guy telling you that you should ride X or Y or Z. I have a Vespa (among others). My experience is that even machinery with a soul becomes more challenging to maintain reliabily as hard miles pile on. Will cheer whichever choice you make.

    Yay you.

    Best,

    Dave
  19. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,862
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Wow! Just wow! Glad you're ok.
  20. IronButt70

    IronButt70 You don't have to be crazy to do this but it helps

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2018
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Classified
    What a great adventure/story. I can relate to your dominant side broken collar bone. Been there/done that. Hope you'll follow up when you get your scoot back. I would have never thought a Vespa was capable of such a marathon. Be well, ride safe.