1. eNewsletter Sign Up

Another Rookie Went to Alaska

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

  1. Bigbore4

    Bigbore4 Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,984
    Location:
    Andover MN USA
    OK, Binge read complete! Well up to here any way.

    I recall you reaching out either before we left or while we were out. Glad to see you "made it". We actually ended up getting home close to the same time. I parked mine back in the garage on Independence Day.

    Thank you for taking the time and putting in the effort to post up the RR. It is a lot of work. I think you will find as I did it also is somewhat selfish. Every once in a while someone will read my first report and post a comment or a "like" and it drags me back to see what they were on about. And it causes me to click through my postings and pictures and relive the moments. I hope you will find that same satisfaction a year or 2 down the road.
    72 Yamaha RD350 likes this.
  2. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    906
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    The bad weather you had leaving Minnesota was about the same level of cold and rain we had on Canada Day. If I had been leaving the same day as you I would have blown off Alaska and headed south. But I was glad to see you had good weather for the rest of your trip.

    I hate to see that your trip report no longer contains the pictures. What caused them to disappear?

    Forty-four days is an epic ride. I hope your injury has healed completely.

    I do re-read this RR on occasion - sometimes to see it from a new reader's view, sometimes to look for errors or things to improve, and other times just to re-live the trip.

    If you ever ride west to Wright County - give me a shout. I'm the one on the bluff top overlooking the Crow radiating energy from the microwave tower.
  3. Bigbore4

    Bigbore4 Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,984
    Location:
    Andover MN USA
    @72 Yamaha RD350 Not sure what was up but I went and checked and I still see pics. Even the Photobucket pics in my first report are there.

    Sluggish servers?
  4. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    906
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    The Invention of Lying
    My senior year of high school revolved mostly around school and homework. Dick Drumwright did something really unique that benefited all of his college bound students: In addition to assignments from the textbook, if you bought the Schaum’s College Outline workbook for Chemistry or Physics he would give you one bonus point for every even number problem you solved (odd numbered problems had the answers in the back of the book). He knew the path to succeeding in 201 level college classes was to master the math of chemical reactions, oxidation reduction, stoichiometry, Newtonian mechanics, electricity, and optics. Like many other things, mastery of math underlying scientific principles rests in sheer repetition for those of us not gifted enough to understand it in one pass. Obviously he couldn’t force us to solve an inordinate amount of problems, but he could incentivize us. His method worked. Most of his students reached the end of the semester with sufficient bonus points that taking the Final Exam was superfluous.

    [This is my Schaum's Outline for Calculus that I used in college. The pages are yellowed with age as it will soon be forty years old.]
    IMG_0966.jpg

    Earning those bonus points sucked up a lot of my life but working twenty hours per week at the drugstore was a welcome respite. Phil Klenke, the pharmacist nearing retirement, was always a joy to be around. In the winter he drove a late model Mazda RX7 and, in the summer, a 1967 Mustang that he had purchased new. Both were light blue and meticulously cared for. Phil was a diehard auto enthusiast and, when business was slow, told me about his cross country road trips before the Interstate Highway System. He and I were working New Year’s Eve when a fellow came to the pharmacy counter asking for help finding condoms. Phil kindly pointed the man to the correct aisle, turned to me and said with a wink and a smile, “I guess he’s going to bring in the New Year with a bang”.

    [Phil's RX-7 looked exactly like this one; courtesy Hemming Motor News]
    rx7.jpg

    [And his Mustang looked like this. Photo courtesy of the interwebs.]
    mustang.jpg

    Sarah and I were seeing each other as much as possible during the school day. On weekends we could usually finagle spending time together at a basketball game. I attended her church on Sunday and began reading books about Mormonism in my spare time to learn about its curious past and present state.

    The most influential book was written by Leonard Arrington and Davis Bitton, “The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints” published in 1979. Arrington had a PhD in Economics from the University of North Carolina and Bitton a PhD in History from Princeton - obviously respectable academic credentials. Also, Arrington was the acting official LDS Church Historian (named in 1972)*. The book was scholarly, objective enough, and if mildly apologetic certainly lacking in a overtly parochial viewpoint. Its overriding message was that regardless of a history of polygamy and racism, the modern church was respectably Christian and in harmony with American ideals and values.

    [This is the book I read back in the day.]
    tme.jpg

    Some years later I was influenced by the previously mentioned “Mormonism: A New American Religious Tradition” by Shipps. What I didn’t know at the time was both books were the product of a Camelot period in Mormon history research and publishing that had already closed by the time I read Arrington & Bitton. Conservative church leaders did not support an objective historical narrative** and, by 1982, quietly removed Arrington from his position as Church Historian and exiled him from further positions of influence***. For her part, Shipps knew that Camelot was over but, having spent decades attaining recognition as a non-Mormon scholar, wasn’t about to burn her bridges by sounding the alarm. In fairness, it wasn’t her role to do so as an outsider. ****

    But that’s all putting the cart before the horse. Sarah and I were in love. Her church was making public efforts to present itself as “normal” to outsiders, and her mother hated me because I wasn’t part of their tribe. There were only two options.

    I struggled with the decision for months. The Jesus of Protestantism and Mormonism may be the same guy in name and resurrection, but otherwise have little in common. Keeping my Jesus meant that I would lose Sarah. *****

    Phil Klenke and Dick Drumright were transparent people in my life representing honest institutions. I didn’t know it at the time, but one should be wary of people and institutions that require unrealistic behaviors such that you frequently have no choice but to obscure the facts, shade the details, lie if necessary, and give up personal authenticity in the process. The danger of not being truthful with others is that, eventually, you’ll not be truthful with yourself. The worst lies told are the ones we tell ourselves.


    ( * - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_J._Arrington; the role of Church Historian remained officially vacant until 2005)

    (** - There is no such concept as “objectivity” in Mormon culture when it comes to their religion. In their fishbowl Mormonism is unapologetically True in the same way the Pope is Catholic. It just is. There’s no questioning it. There’s no room for academic critique or historical inquiry. Those are techniques applied to other sects and faiths but not to one’s own. As one Mormon told me years later - “there is no space for doubt; One cannot doubt and have faith” - which was a bastardization of the word “faith” as I understood it.)

    (*** - Being an entirely hierarchical and seniority driven institution, progressive church leaders who had guided the church through the tumultuous Sixties passed away leaving arch conservatives to fill the roles of power - one of them being former Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower, Ezra Taft Benson, who was a prominent member of the John Birch Society.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezra_Taft_Benson
    ETB was joined by fellow arch conservatives in creating a resurgence of conservative Mormon culture. There has not been a known Democrat in the top LDS leadership ranks since the last one died in 2007.)

    (**** - Other scholars, historians, and authors were prominent in the Camelot era but all were eventually excommunicated from the Church by the early 90’s. I only reference Arrington and Shipps because they were the ones who influenced me at the time. Predictably, Mormon history reverted to "faith promoting" history until the internet arrived and factual history unraveled the fabrications and half-truths that had been spun for generations. This culminated in the (church sponsored) 2008 publication of “Massacre at Mountain Meadows” by Turley et al., which half-heartedly admitted that the cold blooded murder of approximately 140 non-Mormons in 1857 had indeed been committed by Mormons and the church had been complicit in attempting to blame it on the Paiutes and concocting false accusations against the victims.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_Massacre
    A follow-up book, “After the Massacre”, detailing the aftermath, cover-up, and trials has not been published as of 2020 for obvious reasons.)

    (***** - It's amazing how a 2,000 year old Jewish carpenter can compete with an attractive sixteen year old of the opposite gender, but that's what losing a close friend to a drunk driver can do to you.)

    To escape the serious topic above and maintain a motorcycle theme, Mrs. RD and I stopped by an HD dealer today to look at some new and used bikes. She has some health issues at present that prevent her from getting her endorsement, but she climbed aboard this SuperLow 1200LT with little prodding from me.

    SL.jpg
  5. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    906
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Beware the Airstream
    I don’t know how many years ago it was that I fell in love with Airstream travel trailers - those silver gleaming bullets of the highways - but I lost my desire to buy an RV in retirement and travel the country twenty years before I got to retirement. (It’s still ten years in the future for me.) I always thought when I was younger that’s what I would do but somewhere along the way our country got crowded, RV’s got bigger, and campgrounds got smaller. Regardless, the first time I stepped inside an Airstream I was smitten. The brushed aluminum interior finish speaks to that Thoreau minimalism deep inside me almost enough to make me rape my bank account for the outrageous prices they command. So far I have been strong which is easier to do without a tow vehicle in the stable.

    One of the marketing blurbs of Airstream is that they tow better than other travel trailers because of the aerodynamic shape. Is it true or hype - I don’t care, I just love the look and the design aesthetic of a Flying Cloud and the floor plan of a 23FB.

    The Road King is an 830 lbs touring bike. Like all cruiser style bikes the rider sits low to ground, not tall in the saddle like an ADV bike. When I encounter a semitrailer on the interstate the buffeting becomes detectable at 150 feet, noticeable at 120 feet, and within 100 feet the turbulence can become brutal as the air collapses violently behind a box trailer. Travel trailers and RV’s tend to be almost as bad. The bike is stable but I take a minor beating - the downside of having a windshield versus a fairing which provides slightly more protection.

    On departure day Rick and I had a 269 mile interstate ride to Jamestown ND into a lite west wind on the prairie. My cruise control was set at 75 mph and we were passing box-shaped semi’s, travel trailers, and RV’s every couple miles as the wind fought them more than us, but there was 80 mph automobile traffic so we couldn’t sit in the passing lane. [I’m not willing to run 80 mph sustained even though the 107ci M8 will do it with ease.]. I settled into a pattern: enjoy the scenery, wait till I feel the air disturbance from the boxy thing ahead of me, pull out to pass, rocket past as fast as possible, and reign it back in to start the cycle over again. This worked well for an hour or more.

    Midway to Fargo I noticed not a boxy thing, but an Airstream ahead of me. The silver bullet was gleaming in the afternoon sun. I remembered my love of Airstreams and began to daydream of all the details... maybe there would be one in my future afterall - they’re just that gorgeous. How could I not have one!

    It was right about that moment that I awakened from my daydream to find myself 25 feet behind an Airstream bumper without a hint of turbulence at a closing speed that dictated evasive action. Fortunately, Rick was well behind me and the passing lane was clear.

    I don’t know whether Airstreams tow better than other travel trailers. But I personally confirmed (with almost disastrous consequences) they are unquestionably more aerodynamic than any box shaped trailer... which is obvious just by looks, but it was a whole new experience to feel the difference. Beware the Airstream in front of you on the interstate - it may not wake you from the daydreams of your ride.
  6. ShOqUePoT

    ShOqUePoT GS Pot

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,952
    Location:
    The VT of MA
    Really enjoying this report, thanks for the effort. I've always thought that a heavy cruiser would be better suited for, and less susceptible to "getting blown around" on, the highway than an ADV bike. It almost sounds like you feel the opposite?
  7. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    906
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Thank you.

    The Road King does not get blown around.

    Windshields and fairings need laminar flow to effectively move air away from the rider. Turbulent flow doesn't move across the fairing or windshield in an orderly manner . As you approach the rear of a big box semitrailer on a Road King you'll notice the wind noise begin to increase. Get closer and you'll start getting blasts of wind that slap you on the side of the helmet - an indication that the normal pocket of calm behind the windshield is being disrupted. The closer you get to the trailer the more frequent you get slapped up side the head until it becomes constant inside 100 feet. If you stick with it too long, it will go away when you enter the low pressure zone immediately behind the trailer - approximately 30 feet and closer - this is no place for a motorcycle and it's not even safe for a car unless you are practicing your drafting skills for a career in NASCAR on restrictor plate tracks which, if you aren't familiar, inevitably end in "The Big One".

    Road Kings and Springfields will never be as quiet as full fairing bikes in the wind - Electra Glides, Roadmasters, Goldwings, etc... But there is beauty in the landscape ahead to be seen without gauges, dials, radios, or flat screens in the way.
  8. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    906
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Calibration

    “One should be wary of people and institutions that require unrealistic behavior such that you frequently have no choice but to obscure the facts, shade the details, lie if necessary, and give up personal authenticity in the process.”

    Let’s pick up the story with the thirty-eight words above. Once Sarah turned sixteen and could officially date, her parents forced her to go on dates with Mormon boys hoping that her affection for me would be supplanted. When I say Sarah’s mother hated me, I’m using “hate” in every true sense of the word. If she could have banished me from her daughter’s life entirely - she would have. What’s unusual about that is that everyone else’s parents that I knew went out of their way to be accomodating and friendly to their teens’ friends and steady dating companions.

    Let’s use Gail’s parents as an example. Gail and I had been friends since eighth grade when we had been in the same confirmation class at the United Methodist church. We began going out together our Junior year of high school. Gail was the last child in the family so her parents were a bit older. Ralph had been a B-24 bomber pilot in WW2 whose plane was shot down over Romania. His wife, Doris, was always kind to me. After parking the car to pick Gail up one Saturday, I walked over to greet Ralph who was standing next to a bloody chopping block adjacent to the rabbit hutches with a hatchet in one hand. He couldn’t resist taking advantage of the situation by gently quizzing me about where we were going and dramatically changing his focus from me to the hatchet... back to me... back to the sharp blade of the hatchet… back to me. Neither one of us broke character. He knew what he was doing. I knew what he was doing. It was hilarious, made more so by the stoic faces we held. Admittedly, Gail and I had an entirely platonic relationship, or as she told Mrs. RD decades later, “...we were clueless…” Regardless, Ralph and Doris not only trusted me, more importantly they trusted Gail. And they trusted her because, having raised two older daughters, their rules were reasonable - “...have her home by midnight”.(1)

    [B-24 Liberators over Ploesti - where Ralph spent his war days.]
    b24.jpg

    The force behind Sarah's mother’s controlling nature was Mormon culture. Devout Mormons only marry other devout Mormons in a Mormon temple where attendance is restricted to friends and family who, you guessed it, are devout Mormons. It’s a very exclusive culture but one in which the rankings within are partly based on perceived obedience to the rules.(2) It didn’t matter that we were years away from marriage age, the mere potential that I would derail her daughter from reaching that pinnacle of social group compliance was simply unacceptable.

    [Does this look like a building that just anyone can enter? The LDS temple in SLC. Qualified Mormons enter through the one story building in the middle right which has a tunnel to the temple proper. I attended my brother-in-law's first wedding there in 1992. She being taller than him, Mrs. RD's grandfather knew it wouldn't last when she had BIL stand on a box so he would appear the same height as her in the pictures. Grandpa was right.]
    slc.jpg

    With her mother’s objection to our relationship, Sarah had no option but to lie about who she was with and, on occasion, where. Most often she was where she claimed, but every event was a ruse for us to spend time together. We were usually with friends so there was nothing overly sexual going on, but any time with the Gentile (me) was too much for her mother. I even went so far as to make a date for Sarah with one of my friends who, by previous arrangement, agreed to swap dates: I picked up his date and he did the same for me.

    There is tremendous pressure inside Mormon culture to conform. Successful Mormon boys get their Eagle rank in Scouting at age 14, graduate from high school while adhering to the strict moral code of the church (or at least appearing to do so), and serve a full-time mission for two years in which they knock on your door to sell you on Joseph Smith Jr.,. Dedicating two years of their young lives to the church earns them the respect of their family and community while maximizing their sunk cost. Afterwards they return home to attend BYU where they will find and marry a young Mormon girl. In the meantime, the young Mormon girl has been refraining from serious relationships with boys, saving herself for a “return missionary” who can take her to the temple. Unlike the Amish who have Rumspringa for their youth to experience relaxed boundaries, young Mormons have no such relief period.(3)

    rumspringa.jpg

    All of this may be difficult for the outsider to understand and for that I have the true story of Roy and Becky to calibrate the reader. Roy was a year or two younger than me, a good Mormon boy born to a Mormon family who had been raised his entire life to prepare for serving a full-time mission. In high school he met non-Mormon Becky, a vivacious and attractive young woman. They were deeply in love and made a joyous couple - fun to be around and fun to watch. As high school graduation passed and the time for him to leave on his mission approached, the stress of the impending separation was visibly impacting their relationship. Roy had previously submitted his missionary application papers and completed multiple rounds of interviews with eccleseastical leaders at multiple levels who questioned his obedience to the church and moral worthiness to represent it as a brand ambassador (for lack of a better term). His departure day arrived and he boarded the plane to Salt Lake City (SLC) as Becky, in tears, and his family, also in tears, waved him goodbye for two long years.(4) From SLC, Roy boarded a bus with other missionaries for the MTC (Missionary Training Center or “Empty Sea” in LDS vernacular) in Provo for two months of training before being sent to his assigned area. Two weeks later everyone was shocked to find Roy in church on Sunday with Becky at his side.(5) During interviews with superiors at the MTC he admitted that he and Becky had secretly married two months before he boarded the plane to SLC. As bad as that was, worse things have been done.(6)

    I came from a culture of openness and honesty in the United Methodist Church where the bar of faith and morality was so low as to preclude all pretense. Our pastor, Ed Curtis, took us teenagers to a Catholic Mass and services for other sects to get us out of our church fishbowl. My Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Kay Clark, taught a series of classes to us on sexuality that, frankly, made us a little bit uncomfortable but sent the clear message that it’s just part of life. On the flipside, the LDS church exalted its fishbowl as the only True fishbowl - hence no need to see any others and their position on teen physical intimacy was akin to needing to pee while on a roadtrip with an inconsiderate dad - you were going to have to hold it until the destination because there were no rest stops along the way (... or so he said).

    Whether it comes from a religious sect, a corporation, a personal relationship, or a society - the problem with unrealistic rules is that they force dishonesty onto otherwise good people because the truth is unacceptable to the enforcer and the consequences too great for the offender. Roy was forced into deception by social costs that were simply too high for him to bear: He couldn’t tell his parents that he didn’t want to go yet he couldn’t leave Becky without fully committing to her. I hope life turned out well for them. I’m sure it was a living hell for a few weeks while they dealt with the fallout from their parents. It’s easy to just say they made a bad decision, but they didn’t deserve to be put into such a compromising position. You could just as easily find yourself in the same situation with a toxic spouse/relative/friend, a greedy employer, or society as a whole if you have an affection for the devil’s lettuce. It's a tough spot to be in. Without prior experience handling such a difficult quandary you might do what Roy and I both did.

    [1 - It was only a few years before my father’s passing that he told me that Ralph and Doris had paid a visit to him and my mother shortly after Gail and I started dating. Although we attended the same church, they had never really met. Ralph and Doris lived active lives into their nineties, passing only a few years before my father.]

    [2 - Mormon culture ranks everyone, from highest to lowest, by an unwritten system which is too long to repeat here. Suffice it to say there are silent ranks from royalty to peon. You can guess which I was slated to become.]

    [3 - Like Ralph and Doris, the Amish trust their children. Mormon culture is structured for parents to hand off their children to the church (for missions or college) to insure none fall away.]

    [4 - During which time there would only be weekly letters and three phone calls per year - Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.]

    [5 - Mormon missionaries are allowed no physical contact with members of the opposite sex. His presence with Becky signaled that his presence was permanent - not temporary.]

    [6 - William Shunn, a missionary serving in Canada, was arrested in 1986 for filing a false bomb threat on an airliner to prevent his missionary companion from returning home. His experience is chronicled in his book, The Accidental Terrorist.]

    On the motorcycle front, winter is quickly fading. I'm having Custom Dynamics Fillerz installed on the Road King before I pick it up this week from winter storage.

    Mrs. RD got a new Olympia jacket delivered this week. Her new C3Pro helmet being delivered from Germany is stuck in US Customs in NYC likely due to Covid-19.

    oly.jpg
  9. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2017
    Oddometer:
    906
    Location:
    Lake Wobegon
    Elvis is back in the building.

    C09E7CBA-52B0-479F-80A7-4593396DF9FD.jpeg
    Pabst likes this.