Another Rookie Went to Alaska

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

  1. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Officially, the states I have remaining to visit are: Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Louisiana, maybe Arkansas - can’t remember, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware. I’m not sure I’ll ever tag the NE - or Hawaii as they are not overly important to me. Would like to ride the Natchez Trace and the Blues Trail. Getting to the Ozarks is pretty high on my list too.
  2. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks. Glad it brought back some memories.

    If you have pictures of your trip in 2012 then I encourage you to post them with your story of your trip. No need to be shy. It’s your story - nobody else’s. If you are concerned about your writing - let the pictures tell the story.

    Just remember - we love pictures of bikes. We love pictures of road trips and especially Alaska. The older the pictures - the more we like them.
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  3. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Wednesday was our first properly warm Spring day so a quick exit from work gave me time to fit in my daily 3 mile walk and a 90 mile loop ride out to Kingston MN with plenty of time to get home before dark. It was a glorious ride with the only downside being that I was unable to capture the beauty of the landscape in any of the pictures I took.

    I haven't seen much of my neighbor, Pete, since this Corona virus raised its ugly head but we spoke for a few minutes this morning after I got home from the golf course. He hasn't been out a lot on the Crushed Ice Pearl Street Glide but told me he was looking forward to a ride later today. While I planned on riding, the yard needed thatching, sweeping, and mowing before I could head out. I heard Pete return on his bike while I was putting the mower away.

    Mrs. RD has been looking forward to her first ride of the season as pillion. With today's temperatures being ideal we planned for a 4pm departure. I moved Elvis out of the garage while Mrs. RD was gearing up. Pete came over to tell me that I should check my bike over before heading out. It turned out his ride was a bit more exciting than he planned. I was more than happy to point out that I'm not likely to have the same problem on the Road King.



    We have quite a few of these snakes living around our houses and apparently this one had taken up residence in the storage compartment of his Street Glide since he rode it last weekend.
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  4. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    My Life Was Saved by a Hostess Ding Dong

    Stick with me on this one - we’re going to go on a bit of a walkabout.

    In 1980 I read Peter Jenkins’ book, “A Walk Across America”. As a kid I wasn’t overly fond of walking but his book was a story of discovering the USA while walking alone from Connecticut to New Orleans during the years of ‘73-’75. We were a different country then. We had a lot of angst about the Vietnam War, racism was still prevalent, and the stink of Watergate was in the air. Frankly, I don’t recall much of his story - just the adventure of it. Later in July of ‘82 I read the sequel, “The Walk West” the story of his walk from New Orleans to the Oregon coast, this time with his new wife. It lacked the tension of a solo journey but still portrayed the Americana that endeared the country to his first book.

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    I had hiked a bit as a Boy Scout in Hoosier National Forest, to the top of some long forgotten mountain in Gatlinburg and up Mt. Elbert in Colorado with UMC youth groups before I got my driver’s license. To me, walking was drudgery but hiking was adventure!

    What really turned me onto walking was a week spent at Camp Raymond, a BSA property west of Flagstaff, around 1999. My experience as a kid and as an adult in Scouting was that whenever I went to a summer camp, my troop’s campsite was always the furthest from the dining hall and every other activity. I spent the entire week at Camp Raymond and walked five miles every day at the 7,000 ft elevation. I went home having eaten the best food I’d ever encountered at a Scout camp and having more energy and stamina than when I arrived.(1)

    Arizona has enough climate zones to enable comfortable year round hiking and camping. Harley and I landed upon the idea of hiking the Highline Trail in segments, eastbound from Pine, slowly ascending to the top of the Mogollon Rim east of Christopher Creek.(2) It took us the better part of two years but was an enjoyable adventure for us and the boys. Obviously we weren’t in a rush.(3) In the winter months we camped and hiked close to home in the desert.(4)

    Life got in the way with the move to Minnesota. Turns out it isn’t so fun to walk when you are being chased by mosquitoes or wearing snowshoes on your walks. An unexpected conversation with my boss in 2009 led me down the path to playing golf which was famously said to be “a good walk spoiled”. Fortunately, I have a (municipal) woodland golf course nearby that turned out to be a beautiful walk no matter what the scorecard recorded.

    I started going to the gym and doing lite workouts on weight machines after I took up snow skiing. (Being at 12,000 feet isn’t so easy at age fifty even if you do arrive by chairlift.) The legs needed strengthening along with the heart and lungs. That did the trick for a few years but when I got home from the Alaska trip the weight room had the unmistakable smell of a boy's high school locker room. Within a week I abandoned the weight room to walk in the fieldhouse. Motorcycle themed podcasts kept me entertained as I settled on three miles per day.

    I’ve never been a goal setter. But at the end of 2019, having walked three miles nearly every day since July, I set a conscious goal to walk one thousand miles in 2020.(5) Even with Covid-19 shutting down the fieldhouse our weather has been good enough for me to stay on track.(6)

    It never fails that when you get serious about achieving a goal that something gets in your way. And in my case, if Covid wasn’t enough, I woke up last Monday morning at 4am with a severe case of heartburn - something I had only experienced for the first time on Sunday afternoon. Mrs. RD suggested some OTC treatment in the afternoon but I declined. At 4am treatment was exactly what I needed. I stumbled to the bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet door and found her bottle of Tums. Now I am not proud of what happened next, but remember, it was 4am and few of us do our best thinking at that time of day.(7) I opened the bottle of Tums and shook one tablet free. I was awake enough to think “...that’s a mighty big pill...” but filled a Dixie cup full of water, threw it down the hatch, and chased it down. Let me be the first to say, you are correct, it didn’t go far... enough.

    The tablet lodged firmly in my throat. A few more Dixie cups of water and coughs strong enough to loosen my eyeballs in their sockets confirmed this thing wasn’t going anywhere. Like any real male - this is the point at which I reached for the bottle to read the directions: “Chewable”.(8) F#ck. Going back to sleep wasn’t an option. This thing hurt. Bad. I was in my own personal “the cure is worse than the disease” hell.

    I could only hope this incident didn’t turn out with a trip to the hospital like when I was four years old and swallowed a penny.(9) I traipsed downstairs to apply logic to the situation: Tums is an antacid which suggested I needed an acid to start dissolving it in place.(10) Orange Juice! OJ is acidic. I poured myself a cup of OJ and headed to the couch where I Googled other potential solutions while waiting for the OJ to do its magic. Google suggested eating bread. Bread at 4:20am? I don’t think so. What do we have that is bread-like… a box of Hostess Ding Dongs! By this point I’m more than halfway through an 8 ounce cup of OJ and the tablet is still firmly stuck and painful.

    I didn’t take the entire box to the couch figuring that if one or two didn’t do the trick that another eight or ten wouldn’t help matters. Miraculously though, the Hostess Ding Dong did the trick - loosening the tablet’s grip in my throat. Thus, my life was saved by a Hostess Ding Dong.(11)

    With that minor brush with death out of the way I continued working toward my goal. A side effect of walking three miles a day is that my casual motorcycle rides in the evening (after walking) and on weekends tend to be longer. Somehow I’ve already managed to add a bit over 1,000 miles to the Road King in five weeks of limited riding due to cool temperatures. I’ve been focusing on finding curvy roads in my vicinity and have had success on that front. Today I headed out with no destination in mind but came across this historical marker in Fairhaven MN.

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    If you are unfamiliar with the Dakota Wars and settlement conflicts with Native Americans, I recommend this moto vlogging YouTube Channel presented by a young man who grew up in my community.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmF6wgJ1uG-W2QaDwWUlz8w

    and his series on the Dakota Wars. He puts a lot of work into his videos and it shows.




    [1 - Camp Raymond did not have a summer camp program in 2019 for the first time since 1966. With the Mormon church leaving the Scouting program there was insufficient demand. Even though I was an adult leader at the time, I have fond memories of Raymond. It is where I rappelled over a cliff - quite possibly the scariest thing I’ve ever done.]

    [2 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highline_National_Recreation_Trail]

    [3 - Frequently Harley and I allowed the boys to hike far ahead of us as their youthful energy made them impervious to the elevation and steady uphill grade. Once they missed a turn off of the trail which caused us minor concern. They were a far bigger threat to the black bear than it was to them.]

    [4 - By the time I left Arizona for Minnesota, KLR and I were taking our troop on winter campouts on top of the Rim in January and February just for the novelty of it.]

    [5 - Make no mistake, this is a fairly easy goal. There are no less than a half dozen women over the age of 65 at the fieldhouse who will easily outpace me… and one of them will march her husband along the entire distance.]

    [6 - I am fortunate to have a regional park nearby with 16 miles of walking trails and nearly equal amounts of separate mountain biking and horseback riding trails. The park has never been so heavily utilized as over the past 6-8 weeks.]

    [7 - Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.]

    [8 - Mrs. RD did what any good spouse does after thirty years of marriage: feign ignorance and hope the police didn’t ask too many pointed questions.]

    [9 - My mother claims she and my dad could see the outline of Abe Lincoln’s head in the Xray.]

    [10 - Deductive Chemistry 201 at 4:15am.]

    [11 - Now I was left to worry about the tablet burning a hole in my stomach lining that Google warned was a consequence of not chewing an antacid.]
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  5. jwc

    jwc Ready to go Supporter

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    A thoughtful and well written ride report.
    Thanks for taking the time to post it.
  6. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Thank you for taking the time to read it.
  7. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Blessed are the Meek

    We’re three months into this Covid-19 thing and my life is essentially unchanged. I get up and go to work everyday where my office is equipped to allow me to be far more productive than I could ever be at home. In a floor space designed for 100 hundred people there are about ten people on any given day - sometimes less than half that. Cleaners come through twice a day and disinfect every touch surface. The place has never been cleaner. Frankly, I feel safer at work than at a Wal-mart. No doubt when this is over I’ll miss the traffic-free commutes of the past ten weeks.

    There’s a lot of debate over whether shelter-in-place was the right thing to do or not. I tend to be skeptical of most things but I’m not in the medical profession and consider my opinions worthless. Despite my respectable knowledge of Chemistry and Physics, I was a damn poor student in Biology and couldn’t tell you diddly squat about germ theory, bacteria, or viruses.(0) All I can really tell you is that I’ve eaten a lot of outdated foods and ham sandwiches left out on the kitchen counter for too long and haven’t died yet.(1)

    Given his job, Ural is a lot closer to the facts of this pandemic than I am. We were discussing the potential outcomes of various paths but I voiced that I was perfectly willing to accept that my predictions could be wrong. Indeed, having made significant mistakes in life and in my personal field of study I am far more certain that I would be incorrect about things outside my field of study. He then posed a curious question: What if you are wrong about assuming that you are wrong?(2) His question baffled me for a moment before the epiphany struck:

    Blessed are the meek (humble) for they shall inherit the earth. - Matthew 5:5

    When one has confidence and absolute certainty in his position, he blocks out all other positions as having the potential to be true. He has limited his solution space - quite possibly unnecessarily and/or unwisely.(3) Conversely, when one accepts that he may be legitimately ignorant on a topic or unqualified to hold a position and is open to any solutions, the entire realm of possible solutions can be considered - i.e. we inherit the earth.(4) After rational thought and careful consideration, he might still choose to discount some potential solutions as invalid or less optimum, but only after unbiased and nonpartisan consideration.

    There’s a lot in the Bible that I never understood as a Believer that, ironically, has become clear as an atheist. Perhaps it would have happened anyway if I had hung in there a bit longer but I suspect not. Ural frequently reminds me that he is quite comfortable in the chains he’s bound himself to... as we all are.

    The weather has kept me off Elvis (the Road King) more than the Coronavirus. Regardless, I have been getting in more miles as the weather improves - 1,300 as of Friday. The last two weekends have suffered from poor weather which allowed me to catch up on accessory tasks. I had installed Cardo Freecom 4+ units three weekends ago in our Schuberth helmets but a two hour ride convinced me rework was necessary. The recesses in the EPS liner adjacent to the ears is insufficient in the Schuberth C3Pro causing mild pressure that became annoying over the course of a longer ride. I used a hole saw slightly smaller than the size of the speakers to cut a circular recess deeper into the EPS. It was a messy affair as EPS sticks to everything with static charge but otherwise was simply tedious.(6)

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    I have found to my surprise that I enjoy listening to music while riding and have finally downloaded my favorite songs from iTunes - a task I’ve successfully procrastinated since 2010. The result is a curious mix of 70’s-80’s-90’s country and rock with some bluegrass murder ballads and Kid Rock thrown into the mix. The Riding playlist is now long enough to get me 400 miles without repeating a song. (I’ll add more as I think of missing favorites.) I even managed to get my phone set up for streaming Sirius-XM which has been a failure in all previous attempts.(7)(8)

    Motoport riding pants for Mrs. RD arrived last week and we were able to go for a 32 mile ride on Wednesday down the curvy, hilly roads alongside our local river. The helmet communicators allowed us to squeeze in some quality time together as I was time limited due to a new assignment at work and having to fit in my daily walk.(9) Of course we came across a picturesque farm scene but did not have the time to stop and take a photograph for @radianrider.

    This weekend’s rain allowed me to afix a GoPro mount to Elvis to record some footage for my nursing home years. I picked up a Hero 7 Black and some lenses off of Amazon that I hope will produce acceptable results. (A second mount is on order.) I’ll run the camera as a dash cam during my commutes and record other rides as time allows. There’s a small possibility of venturing into moto vlogging as I enjoy watching the scenery of other places around the country (and should return the favor), but I’m not committing to that anytime soon. I have no idea when I would get around to editing and post-production for a vlog.

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    Fuzzy Bear is my wing man when Mrs. RD isn't along for the ride... because who doesn't like a Bear on a motorcycle.
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    Here's one of my favorite Bluegrass murder ballads - performed in this link by the Nashville Bluegrass Band(NBB). George Jones' recording of Open Pit Mine reached number 13 on the Country Charts in 1962 but it is very much a product of its era. NBB recorded their cover in 1993 with Jerry Douglas as the Producer.(10)



    [0 - As my Biology teacher, Dick Etienne, said as I butchered the dissection of a frog, "Son, you need to find something else to do in life." True story.]

    [1 - much to the consternation of Mrs. RD]

    [2 - His question actually had less to do with the pandemic than multiculturalism. In essence, is it a greater danger to assume that your culture is not superior to another than to assume that it is.]

    [3 - The internet fools us into thinking we know far more than we really do. It was a lot easier in the pre-internet era to comprehend your intellectual limitations without Google and YouTube. A childhood friend (see post #188) and I once spent two hours - after removing all of the bolts - trying to figure out how to get the fan belt cover off his Ford Pinto.(5) That’s a level of humble pie you’ll never be served by Google or YouTube.]

    [4 - My apologies to those who have already sorted out this Biblical riddle. If yours is a literal interpretation, I suggest you go back and try again. It’s highly probable you’ve already failed the test.]

    [5 - It was a mechanical keyed affair that was hidden behind the cover itself: Pull cover slightly forward, rotate 20 degrees, pull slightly forward again, rotate again and remove cover. Of course we didn’t have a factory service manual! What did you mistake us for - real mechanics?]

    [6 - Not quite as bad as shown in the picture at this link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triboelectric_effect]

    [7 - Katrek & Maginnes On Tap is my favorite show. You can find it on PGA Tour radio. They are often hilarious, poke fun at the conventions of golf, and venture far afield from the topic.]

    [8 - I will be changing ear plugs to 26-29db as the 32db units I currently use block a little bit too much sound from the speakers. ]

    [9 - Approaching the 400 mile mark which is enough to convince me that I will never hike the Appalachian Trail in completeness. The monotony would do me in. Poor quality picture below from 2013.]

    037_Appalachian_Trail.jpg

    [10 - A friend of mine, shown in this original video below, considers Jerry Douglas the third member of the Godhead. I tend to agree with him.]
  8. old1959

    old1959 Been here awhile

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    RD, thank you for putting this together. I first started to read because of the similarities between us; rode and drove to Alaska, aero engineer, and former Scoutmaster. I never expected to read such an entertaining story.
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  9. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Thank you, @old1959. We lived in SW Austin for six months in 2000 while I did a corporate work assignment. Not sure we ever got to New Braunfels but enjoyed seeing most of that part of the Republic.

    This week marks the first of 2020 commuting all five days on the bike. The ride in this morning was especially heavenly. I’m working far too many hours to take any long rides during the week and our weather has been rainy on weekends. But Mrs RD and I are getting out on the bike one night a week and enjoying the Cardo’s. I’m also doing video tests with the GoPro to see what works and what doesn’t. Currently trying to sort out a reflection problem on the windshield that is picked up by the camera. Elvis is climbing toward 2,000 miles for the season.
  10. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    I finished up a three week stressful rush assignment at work yesterday so Mrs.RD and I headed west in the Buick to visit our oldest daughter in Williston, ND. Even though we left Elvis at home, all of our riding gear is with us in the event we find a place to rent a bike. My original plan was to go to Sturgis and rent there and ride the Black Hills for a day, but Eagle Rider doesn’t open until June 15. Our itinerary is very flexible and we could end up in a lot of places.

    We overnighted last night with Jake and Elwood in Jamestown and had breakfast with the Big Man in Carrington. Lunch in Minot before seeing these cool bikes at Black Magic HD in Williston. There was a custom Sportster 1200C Scrambler as well but I forgot to take a picture of it.

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  11. keithg

    keithg Been here awhile

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    GREAT STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!
  12. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Thank You.
  13. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    I met a fellow Minnesotan, Phil, today at the Rosebud MT rest stop on I-94. He’s from near Rochester so was approaching 1,000 miles from home. He said he does two big trips a year. We’ve seen maybe four riders total in over 1,000 miles westbound, although there is a small contingent of Harley riders here in Cody (which has Main Street all torn up). Here’s a picture of Phil’s steed - proving once again that it is the rider, not the bike. I test rode a BMW 650GT (40 miles) before buying my VStrom and found it a perfectly capable maxi scooter.

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  14. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    Mrs.RD and I are in Utah for a couple days visiting her mother. I had an opportunity to take her husband to a quick medical appointment that happened to be near Timpanogos HD in Provo. Her husband used to work at the Geneva Steel plant that sourced the unique building materials for the dealership. He’s 80 but enjoyed a walk through the dealership. I snapped a few pictures of a few old bikes. Definitely worth the stop if you are in the area. Unfortunately a nearby antique motorcycle museum is still closed due to Covid.

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  15. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Long timer Supporter

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    The last episode of my Alaska ride disappeared for awhile. I didn’t write it and I managed to lose it. Mike gave it to us the morning we left the Good Shepherd Inn. It was a handwritten list of things (museums) to see and do on our way to Alaska. I recently located it and present it here transcribed as written for your consideration. In retrospect, I didn't see near as many museums as I could have. :D

    Fort Nelson – the last fuel stop before crossing the mountains
    Toad River – fuel, good food, watch for elk
    Muncho Lake – viewpoint on the north end; Rocky Mtn Lodge, Stone Sheep
    Liard River – hot springs; hike to the springs
    Watson Lake – best fresh fuel at store by the license plate office
    Beaver Post – nice stop but fuel is not the freshest
    Teslin – after bridge crossing going north, fuel-food-museums (3); 1- wildlife museum next to restaurant, 2 – George Johnson museum, 3 – Tglingit museum
    Jake’s Corner – turn here to Skagway, spectacular scenery road
    Whitehorse – museums, Transportation, Berengia, Downtown
    Haines Junction – Indian museum
    Kluane Lake – Amazing
    Burwash Landing Museum – outstanding
    Tok – Fast Eddy’s – best salad food bar, lodging
    Delta Junction – stop at Delta Meat & Sausage; Rika’s Roadhouse – one of the few still going
    Fairbanks – The Pump House Restaurant (Must Eat Here), Pioneer Park, UoA Museum, Car Museum – Fountainhead Auto Museum
    Denali Visitor’s Center – hope for a clear day
    Talkeetna – see Ranger Station & Climbing Museum; walk the street here; Roadhouse breakfast ; Flight see if clear day
    Anchorage – museum, Alaska Aviation Museum, Alaska Native Heritage Museum, Lots of Brew Pubs, The Moose’s Tooth Pizza

    WATCH FROST HEAVES!!!

    Dawson City is full of history an is a possible side trip going back south. Via Tok, Eagle

    Mike & Cathy
    AK residents for a combined 84 years

    (Rick & I stopped to eat at the Pumphouse in Fairbanks but it wasn't open yet around noon.)
  16. radianrider

    radianrider Adventurer wanna'be

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    Good stuff!