Another Rookie Went to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by 72 Yamaha RD350, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. wilfred

    wilfred juvenile delinquent Super Supporter Supporter

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    Great ride report and back story. Ride on.
  2. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Thank you, Sir.
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  3. taylor

    taylor Adventurer Supporter

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    .

    Did you bother to replace or just continue to use? Straighten yourself? Any issues?
  4. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    I rode it the rest of the season without touching the rim. The bike needs new front and rear tires so I'll deal with it next month. (The bike is in storage at the dealer until April 1st.) I haven't decided whether I'll try to have the rim re-formed back into shape or just replace it with a new take-off rim (readily available on ebay).
  5. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Most likely your automobile and motorcycle insurance covers you while you are in Canada - but if you have an accident while in Canada there is nothing about your proof of insurance that tells Canadian authorities that you are covered while in Canada. If you call your insurance company and request a "Canada Non-Resident Inter-Province Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card" they will send one to you. Call at least a month in advance and you will receive it by mail in plenty of time before your departure. Believe it or not, Progressive types them up manually... in the year of Our Lord 2019.
    Hogges likes this.
  6. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    I met with Lois early the week of my father's funeral in 2016. I had not seen her in a few years and we were happy to see each other. After catching up she brought out a large album of newspaper clippings, photographs, and memorabilia from Mel's life. I knew very little about him since he never talked about himself. Fortunately Lois allowed me to go through the album and graciously allowed me to photograph anything I found of interest.

    I've already mentioned that Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the temple in my life - that iconic place that has a history that is larger than life. To my surprise, Mel received this letter hand signed by Tony Hulman Jr.,. [I did not know until now when I googled the address that back then Mel lived only two blocks from my aunt who told me go get a job at IMS.]
    IMS.jpg

    This snippet from the newspaper reveals a bit of Mel's character.

    mel1.jpg

    At the risk of violating HIPAA for an event that occurred sixty years ago, here's evidence that being a motorcycle police officer was not without its risks.

    mel2.jpg

    I regret not taking a photo of a picture in the album from the mid-fifties of the entire Indianapolis Police Motorcycle corps out on parade. It was a poor quality night time photo and did not show Mel specifically, but I realize too late what a prized photo it is.
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  7. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    Great read - having just done a similar ride only a month later than you, I found it really interesting how differences in context, sometimes only slight, profoundly affect the experience.
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  8. bikermd

    bikermd Been here awhile

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    Canada requires you to have insurance and proof of it when you ride or drive. The minimum limits are 100/300 if I remember correctly. Having this card is proof that you meet their requirements. Here in the USA you can have considerably less insurance and be within the law. There is a fine if you are stopped and do not have the card. In some provinces you are not allowed to use radar detectors and they will be confiscated if found (even if not in use). You do not get them back afaik.
    72 Yamaha RD350 likes this.
  9. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    I kept up with your RR in real-time as much as possible during your trip. Yours was an aggressive itinerary and I'm glad you were able to achieve all that you did.

    We all go on long motorcycle rides for different reasons, each hoping to get something unique and personal out of it. Every RR is a window into experiences and observations of others.

    These extended trips are difficult to pull off for those of us who are still tied to a job in a fixed location. I hope your circumstances allow you to embark on a similar journey in 2020, and if you are so privileged, I look forward to keeping up with your RR along the way.
    AllSeasonRider likes this.
  10. Bors

    Bors Adventurer

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    Great read! Thanks for sharing.
  11. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Thank you, Sir.
  12. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    A week after returning from Alaska I was already restless and ready to go back out on the road. Toward the end of the trip I was tiring of the daily unloading into the hotel room at the end of the day and loading up at the start of the next. I began to sense the attraction of an RV - slow, cumbersome, and uninspiring though they may be. But it only took a week for the comforts of home and the grind of work for me to be wishing I was still on the AlCan.

    Mrs. RD and I left on the Road King the next Saturday morning, winding our way west on county roads and past the Buffalo Nickel in nearby Buffalo MN to breakfast at the Nelson Brothers restaurant & bakery in Clearwater.

    buffalo nickel.jpg

    I mentioned as she finished her meal that I would like to go see Paul Bunyan and possibly ride a loop around Mille Laks.

    pb.jpg

    A benefit of growing up in the early seventies was a heavy dose of American folklore in the public school system. Tall tales of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox creating our 10,000 lakes and the Grand Canyon still charm me today despite their patent absurdity. Modern society often discounts the creativity of prior generations and their ability to weave elaborate stories of fiction from the smallest seed of truth.

    Robert W. Service’s classic Yukon poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee is one of the best of the outlandish folktale genre.

    There are strange things done in the midnight sun
    By the men who moil for gold;
    The Arctic trails have their secret tales
    That would make your blood run cold;
    The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
    But the queerest they ever did see
    Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
    I cremated Sam McGee.


    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45081/the-cremation-of-sam-mcgee

    It was on the southbound leg when we stopped in Whitehorse and I saw this poster in the tourist center that I realized I had made a serious mistake: I had not gone to the shore of Lake LaBarge!

    rws.jpg

    A fellow Scoutmaster and dear friend in Arizona, Randy (aka "Harley"), had introduced me to Sam McGee. We often read the poem aloud while sitting around a campfire. When I visited he and his wife on my trip to Phoenix and told them I might be riding to Alaska, she recounted with excitement her memories of a favorite vacation to BC in her childhood. Little details like that made the Alaska ride more meaningful to me - knowing they would be here if their circumstances would allow it.

    LeBarge had fallen through the cracks in planning and even though I had remembered it that morning, I had ridden past the turn-off. In retrospect it wouldn’t have been far to backtrack, but by the time we had seen the sites in Whitehorse, had lunch, and re-fueled - it didn’t seem as important as getting to Watson Lake 270 miles ahead of us.

    For now Mille Laks, a 200 square mile lake in central Minnesota, will have to be my substitute for LeBarge. While some natives living in the Twin Cities go “up North” nearly every weekend, I’ve lived here for nearly twenty years and never laid eyes on the big lake. The iconic Paul Bunyan and Babe statues are in Bemidji - nearly 200 miles north - but that’s out of the question as we are only out for a day trip. A closer destination is Brainerd, a town that lost its Bunyan statue but gained a minor league theme park, Paul Bunyan Land. We found an acceptable Bunyan statue at a rest stop and skipped the theme park.

    pb2.jpg

    It's a short 20 mile hop to Garrison MN and the western shore of Mille Laks.
    walleye.jpg

    LML.jpg

    The SPOT recorded our track. We stopped a few times to enjoy the cool temperatures created by the big lake.

    Spot.jpg

    We turned for home and pulled into the garage with 280 miles of lazy touring for the day. It was Mrs. RD's longest ride on a motorcycle. Later in the day she discovered that her helmet was a tad too tight - a problem we'll resolve at the first sign of Spring.
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  13. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Just finished reading your whole RR. Thanks. Held my attention for the duration. Great report.
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  14. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Back in November, the YT channel "Mortons on the Move" put up this video of one of their activities in Alaska. It isn't cheap - $750 per person for the company they used - but it is something I would have done in Alaska if I had known about it. Their channel is not motorcycle related but it is easy to watch and provides a lot of places and activities to consider if you are headed to Alaska.

  15. BMgreenmt

    BMgreenmt Long timer

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    RD350, well written indeed. A pleasure to follow along, thank you.
  16. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Thank you, Green Mountain man. Yours is one of the few states I've never been to but I hope to get there some day.
    BMgreenmt likes this.
  17. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    It's been a casual winter in Lake Wobegon. Some of my customers at work flew in from Phoenix and New Jersey last Wednesday for a meeting the day the temperature was starting to drop to -16F. People are really motivated to cut through the bureaucratic bullshit when an Arctic Sword of Damocles is hanging over their head.

    As for me - I'm not native but having lived in Phoenix for fourteen years, I can tell you there's no difference between how people live at -16F or +116F: I-N-S-I-D-E. It boils down, no pun intended, to how many days a year you want to spend indoors; and do you want those days to be short days in the winter time or long days in the summer time. Winter days in Phoenix are great but only 10 hours separates sunrise from sunset on the solstice. Conversely, our best days on June 21st are 15.5 hours long. My SoCal customers are amazed anyone chooses to live in winter but I remind them that my 19 mile commute is often 25 minutes which, like winter, is equally incomprehensible to them. Life's choices are full of compromises. Personally, I don't mind gearing up for winter or gearing up to ride.

    Why bring up the topic of weather? It's yet another small thing in my life touched by this ride to Alaska. Sometime in early December I loaded the following cities, among others, into the weather app on my phone:
    Anchorage
    Deadhorse
    Fairbanks
    Whitehorse
    Ushuaia

    So this winter, unlike previous ones, I've checked the forecast in those places every day. Let me tell you - I feel a whole lot better about my nighttime low of -12F after seeing the daytime high in Deadhorse is -27F. Why Ushuaia? Like the Dude in The Big Lebowski, "...I take comfort in knowing..." that Ushuaia's out there, enjoying summer, "... taking it easy for all us sinners".

    It is late February though and that means two things: my last ski trip to Colorado is next week and it's close enough to Spring to get some work done on the bike. I'm fortunate to have a Harley dealer near me that I trust. Maybe it's easier to trust people who remember you by name and take care of your bike as if it was their very own. I pitched three opportunities for preventative maintenance and they declined all three as unnecessary. I probably could have lived with the dented rear rim since there wasn't any loss of air pressure but I wrote it off as the price of going to Alaska. After all, it could have turned out far worse and I prefer to maintain a positive balance in my Cosmic Karma account.

    New Dunlops were mounted front and rear. I know some people don't like them, but I was satisfied enough to stick with them. [Without flinching the Service Manager crawled down on the floor and checked the manufacturing date stamped on the sidewall when I asked.]

    IMG-0910.JPG

    You can't see them in this picture, but Mrs. RD bought me tie-down brackets for Valentine's Day and I had them mounted. I don't know that I'll ever need them but, again, let's keep the Cosmic Karma account positive. [It still breaks my heart that the RD ended up with a dented gas tank because it fell over in the back of Pillion Fame Girlfriend's dad's pickup truck.]

    IMG-0909.JPG

    I hadn't heard the engine run since the first or second week of October so I recorded it running for a few seconds. [I will post it here if I can figure out how to upload a sound file.]

    Last Fall I picked up a used Schuberth C3 off of Craigslist for $60 from a guy who had given up riding (Honda NC700X) a couple years ago and was moving to Seattle. It was in good shape but had a repulsive smell. I figured it would be good to have a second helmet in case one of my adult kids wants to go for a ride or maybe I'll put camera mounts on it (something I would not do to my C3 Pro Observer). I disassembled the interior pieces and put them through the washing machine several times last Fall. Over the course of several months I've dispensed half a bottle of Febreze on the hard parts of the helmet reeking of cat piss after initially submerging it in hot, soapy water for several days. Five months later the offending smell seems to be completely gone so I re-assembled it this week while uttering only a few obscenities.

    C3.jpg

    I'm still on the lookout for a C3 Pro for Mrs. RD but they are becoming harder to find in attractive colors and patterns. Speaking of Mrs. RD, there's a new necklace wrapped in a gift box sitting in the front seat of her car waiting to be discovered tomorrow. There's a bit more background to our relationship in this post on an interesting thread in "The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths".

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/rolling-the-dice-and-betting-big.1423317/page-5#post-39386376

    So today leaves me with a Road King ready for the 2020 season and a two day ski trip to Colorado with my oldest son next week. We got in a bit over our heads at one point on the last trip. He happened to take a photo at an opportune time when I was clearly not as good as I thought I was. [Actually, I think one of my skis snagged on a tree under the snow.]

    IMG-0476.jpeg
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  18. Project Mayhem

    Project Mayhem Moto Aficionado Supporter

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    Well done sir...looks like a solid trip and a well executed RR.
    For better or worse this only feeds my desire to go back to AK. :D
    :beer
    72 Yamaha RD350 likes this.
  19. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

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    Thank you for such an excellent ride report and for sharing some of your life with us. But, man, am I the only one interested in the Donny and Marie story?!
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  20. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Thank you.

    Are you interested in the girl, the Church of Donnie and Marie, or both?

    Ask and thou shalt receive.