The Adventures of LoneStar & The Iron Butterfly...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Wow I'm sorry to hear she was hurt but glad she is healing well. I had hoped that we might meet up with them either in Mexico or further in South America but they may be a month or two ahead of us the way down. Glad you got to see some of the Texas Hill Country at least, and Hanks little shop in Dilly is a pretty cool setup - a great spot if you're heading south into Mexico or coming out
  2. Grynch

    Grynch Long timer

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    I just got off the FB phone with Michnus, it sounds like they will be another month in Guadalajara. They wanted to be in Oaxaca for the day of the dead. There TVIP runs out mid Dec. They were contemplating going out to Guatemala then coming back in to Mexico to renew permits.
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  3. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Hi Spirit! Our routine takes about 45 minutes to tear down camp in the morning unless we cook a breakfast which adds to the time. Things would go a lot quicker if we didn't have to wait for the tent fly to typically dry out some. We can alternate tasks or set up camp individually if need be. The Butterfly tends to set up the tent and sleeping pads etc while I tend to work on the fire, wood collection, bear boxes etc while we've camped in bear country.

    After having camped for over four months and we have a system that falls in the middle of comfort vs size and seems to work well for us. Not that it won't change or improve but currently this is our basic kit :

    Ferrino 3 man tent
    Kelty Noah's Tarp
    2 Klymit Static V-Luxe inflatable pads (3" thick, comfy, large, pack small, inexpensive on eBay)
    2 Sea-to-Summit inflatable pillows (really comfy)
    2 Helinox Sunset Chairs
    2 Marmot 40 bags
    2 Granite Gear Air Compressor semi rectangular stuff sacks for sleeping bags
    2 thin sleeping bag liners (adds about 10 deg)
    2 headlamps
    Gerber mini hatchet (had to buy it to split wood at many campsites}
    Soto backpacker stove (tiny and can be regulated very, very low for cooking}
    MSR steel pot w lid
    2 Titanium folding Sporks
    Sea to Summit collapsible kettle, pot, bowl and 2 cups
    2 Nalgene water bottles
    2 Sawyer mini filters
    MSR Gravity filter
    2 P38 military can openers
    Pair of knee high panty hose used for coffee filter... like a tea bag
    Knife (or two or three)
    Butane torch (pocket size)
    Wire survival saw
    2 cans bear spray

    That's most of it anyway, but we'll delete a couple of things and probably replace the propane stove with my MSR International as we go south.

    The helinox chairs have really added a large amount of comfort and are well worth carrying.

    The one accessory we have found to be invaluable is also the one I expected to use the least, which was a Ravpower battery pack to recharge cell phones. It has been one of the best things we brought as we can charge both cell phones or communicators or any other USB device. Very glad I brought it...
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  4. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    We're hoping to get into Mexico before Day of the Dead but we'll see. .. hopefully we can catch M&E
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  5. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

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    are you planning on travelling along the west coast? still in Canada?
  6. freewaystreak

    freewaystreak Been here awhile Supporter

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    Love the report if you come through the El Paso area coming or going from Mexico give me a hit. Safe travels...
  7. Ken0312

    Ken0312 Adventurer

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    What a fantastic ride report. I started reading your well written report and I couldn't stop. What a wonderful experience for you two. Thank you for taking the time to document your journey and taking me along. Ride safe.
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  8. SpiritAtBay

    SpiritAtBay Been here awhile

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    Thanks Joeseph, awesome info on the camp gear--i took notes.
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  9. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    draußen nur Kännchen

    I lived in Germany for four years, and noted the sign on the door. It's typically a notice at a cafe, or was back in the day. In general it says, to customers seated in the outdoor area of a cafe, that you can only order coffee by the pot, not the cup. It's a way to charge more money to compensate for the service, and to make things easier for the server, less refill trips to the table and such.

    In this instance it's a bit of kitsch sign, in a German humor sort of way
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  10. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    The trip to Prudhoe was ultimately our favorite ride on this trip… both for the beauty and the sensory experience. Standing silently in the quietest place I’ve ever been, engulfed in sunshine and solitude will forever be burned into memory.

    That said, getting back to a nice room and the chance to get gear cleaned from the ride was a welcome experience. Our day was spent washing clothes, camp gear and more importantly the bikes which were caked in the brown crust of the Dalton. The crunching grit sounds as case lids opened and dirt fell into everything grated on us, and despite wanting to leave the crud on, we hit the local car wash to spend about $30 hosing them down.

    Kim’s chain was done and there was no way in hell I’d take the bike back to the BMW dealer in Fairbanks - I’ll stop at this point but let’s just say they get a 1-2 star internet rating for a reason. Luckily Adventure Cycle Works was happy to respond on a Sunday and had a chain, sprockets and other parts for the F800 series in stock. Dan the owner said to come on over to his house and he’d get the Butterfly’s bike fixed up.


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    We chatted about Alaska, bears, bikes and such as he flew through the process, discovering a bad rear wheel bearing and notchy steering head bearings as well. He swapped in new bearings and we were on the road again quickly.


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    We swung by F&K’s host home to pick up the gear we’d left behind for the run up the Dalton and cringed at the thought of adding it back onto the bikes… all the repacking and additional weight.




    Back at the motel, as we clambered off the bikes, an older native American man was standing in the doorway of his room adjacent to ours and shouting loudly. I couldn’t understand what he was saying and he couldn’t hear me as I yelled back. A younger native American woman was walking away from him, purposely ignoring him and waving her arms as if she wanted nothing to do with the man.

    As we got our helmets off, Kim said he was shouting “Can you help me? Can you help me?” We finally got over to the old gentleman, who was deaf and couldn’t hear our responses to his plea until we got right up to him. He kept yelling loudly and asking if we could take his trash out for him, as he held himself up in the doorway with his twisted and gnarled hands. We tried to get him to understand we needed to get our gear off and would return, but he seemed frantic and continued shouting for us.

    A moment later I’d gotten the jacket off and helmet on the bed, returning to his doorway where he began to thank me profusely. Kim was right behind and as we entered the room, the stench was overwhelming. There were about 30 Walmart bags filled with trash and rotting food stacked around his kitchen area. He was obviously unable to carry them out and apparently had no help - or if the woman we’d seen leaving was a selfish relative, who knows... We held our breath and carried them out a few at a time and stacked them around a full garbage can outside. I hit the manager's office and scrounged a couple of trash bags so that we could bag them all up. Meanwhile the old man stood watching and yelling “Thank you! Thank you! God bless you! God bless you!”

    We were finally able to come back and talk with him a little. He kept thanking us and I shook his hand and asked his name. He said he was 96 years old and his name was Moe Samuelson, his mother being an Eskimo and his father a Norwegian who’d come to Alaska as an explorer. He continued on, saying how God had blessed him so much in his life, his health being so good he’d never even had a headache and had no idea what one felt like. He said he’d ended up in Fairbanks after being drafted and assigned to the area during WWII.


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    Moe continued on sharing his life and stopping to thank us again and again for helping him. He continued to talk of God and his blessings on him and I believe Kim and I both had some moisture around the eyes to hear him talk of life. I so treasure the chances to speak with old warriors of this world and to hear of their lives. I love to look in their eyes and see a lifetime of sights and events playing like a movie across the screen of the windows to their soul.

    Moe continued to thank us over and over at his elevated volume as we left for our room and wished continued health and blessings over him. I wonder sometimes what, and if, my life will play in the eyes of a younger man when I am old and helpless. I wonder.
  11. SpiritAtBay

    SpiritAtBay Been here awhile

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    The "like" button seems so inadquate. Any comment I might make seems trite.
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  12. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Thanks Spirit any comments we get are really appreciated

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  13. Grynch

    Grynch Long timer

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    Even a vapid comment!?
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  14. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Some more than others lol

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  15. Grynch

    Grynch Long timer

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    I had to look up the word trite! Hence the vapid comment!
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  16. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    The next morning we spoke with Fanda and Kaschka about staying another day in Fairbanks and they agreed, wanting to get caught up on a few things as well. Fanda was in search of a new rear tire and a welding shop to repair his side stand, neither of which came to pass, while Kim and I continued cleaning gear, shopping for food in a real supermarket... Shazam! Loooooky there Goober! Ooooh! Cans of Spam! Shazam! Shazam! Shazam!

    Kim’s ear infection had not gone away and finally had driven her to the emergency clinic in town the night before, during which the long wait included a man having a heart attack coming in from a fishing trip with his buddies. By the time we'd gotten out with a prescription, the Walgreen’s and Fred Meyers stores had closed their pharmacies, leaving us with only the hospital pharmacy open.

    Kim went in while I waited outside on the bike, only for her to return empty handed. Apparently the ear drops were completely unavailable in the Alaska area at the moment and he had no solution. Kim was in severe pain and confused but there was no option but to return to the motel empty handed.

    The next morning we called the clinic and told them about the ear medicine issue and they said a pharmacist could substitute eye meds which we were finally able to get for her. Apparently the eye drops were more powerful but were dangerous to use if there was a perforation in the eardrum. Kim didn’t care as she needed relief and began using them.

    Later in the day we got a message from F&K that they would need to leave the host’s home the next day as they’d been there longer than intended and felt they were bothering him. We started the process of packing up that evening to head south for Denali.

    Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny, but Kim’s ear was still screaming. She headed back to the pharmacist to get an additional bottle of meds before leaving.

    When we showed up at F&K’s place they were lounging around and hadn’t realized we were leaving. Apparently they had sent us a message that Frank was a bit sick and they were able to stay with the host another day. When we arrived all loaded to go, they panicked and began to throw on clothes and gear to leave, despite our attempts to assure them we could stay another day!

    We eventually rolled out in the clear sunshine and skies and turned south for Denali. As we crested a ridge just out of Fairbanks, Denali stood out as a monstrous white mountain towering above the landscape against a brilliant blue sky. We’d been told the mountain was visible from many areas of Alaska, but wow could we see it that day! It was a constant companion throughout the day as we inched further south toward the park.

    We were told that only 1 out of 3 visitors to Alaska actually get to see Denali due to inclement weather, so were were multily lucky to see it several days in a row :D

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    At the juncture of the entrance to the park, we debated whether to camp and return to take the ride into the park or just continue on for Valdez. We all had been unsure whether to visit Anchorage and then go down to Kenai or just go straight for Valdez, which had been recommended by many folks on the way. We tossed a verbal coin and decided to ride the Denali Road over to Paxson and go for Valdez since the prospect of a large city didn’t appeal to us.

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    The Denali road was beautiful, but filled with potholes. At a pic stop along the road, I spotted fresh oil on Kim’s front tire and was relieved to find out it was a blown fork seal rather than a brake line. The Dalton mud is notorious for eating fork seals and it seems The Butterfly’s bike was a victim. The front brake shoes were doused in oil. We’d ridden in 40 miles and still had 100 to go for Paxson. Fanda and Kaschka said they were about done with the potholes, especially since his rear tire was very thin and they were riding two-up. We all agreed to reverse for Anchorage as it would be the last place to get fork seals for a very long time. Fanda really needed a new rear tire as well.


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    Somewhere south of Denali we found a great campsite along the river, again being the lone campers there. For some reason we were all a bit uncomfortable and unsure why - possibly the bear issue - but we stayed around the pitiful fire and cooked supper. As we worked, a lone Yukon suv pulled in and parked out in the lot apparently for the night. Kaschka and Kim asked me to go ask if they were going to stay for the night, but I refused, with the appropriate explanation that a huge guy with long grey hair banging on a car window at night in a remote area might bring a 45 caliber response. We nominated Kascka to go and she eventually returned with a lone lady, who introduced herself as Ronetta. We invited her to join us for dinner and she agreed, sharing that she was a wildlife photographer and had come north from Anchorage to get a shot of the northern lights over Denali since they were active for a few days. F&K had seen them the night before when their host drove them outside of Fairbanks to view them clear of the city lights.

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    We had many conversations as we shared food and stories, Ronetta’s Alaska wisdom and knowledge of animals being quite educational. She drug out some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and we acted like we’d won the lottery lol. We wandered out into the parking lot as the temps dipped severely and caught a glimpse of the beginnings of the aurora which never peaked. Rosetta told us to definitely get our food away from the area for the night and I told her we’d planned to put the top cases in the public bathroom since it had a locking door. She said to put them in her Yukon instead as she was afraid someone might steal them during the night. We drug the cases and dirty dishes into her car.

    Rosetta returned to her Yukon to head out into the night and to higher elevations and said she’d return early the next morning and drop them off. We exchanged info with her and hit our tents for the freezing cold night.

    It was early the next morning when I heard sounds and got out of the tent to find Ronetta carrying one of the cases to our campsite, grabbing it and then getting the others from her vehicle. We shook hands and said goodbyes, to which she produced a big bag of Reese’s and I burst out laughing. She made me promise to share and drove off.

    I sat in the sun while the others still slept, trying to keep warm in the crisp air until I heard stirrings in the tents and the long process of drying tents in the sun and packing began for Anchorage.

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    Wee'uns seen a lot of this on the roadsides...
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    Ernie - another road warrior on the way to adventure
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    Kimberly... a hell of a road warrior herself
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    By the time we hit Anchorage, a beautiful ride from Denali (at this point, just insert “beautiful” or similar about any road in Alaska and save me a hell of a lot of typing :D) it was getting late in the day. Stopping at the local Mickey D’s for cheap coffee and crappy wifi found that there was camping in the Anchorage city park - Centennial being the name IIRC. In addition, F&K found a couch surfing host that said he might host all of us, but the trip to visit him was a bust and the dude was a bit disturbing. F&K found another host while Kim and I headed for the city park.

    The campground was forested and the camp host was nice, as well as having showers… but after setting up we quickly realized the campground and especially the tent area was a de facto homeless camp. People were sleeping under tarps and makeshift shelters, drug deals seemed to be in the works and a “lady” walked by in high heels, heavy makeup and short skirt as she made her way back into the wooded area.

    We got in the tent early after helping guide an old man and his camper back into a spot and waited for sleep. Throughout the night people walked out of the woods and within 3 feet of our tent, muttering and mumbling. It was not a good night and I was ready to get the hell out as soon as possible.
  17. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Daybreak in the park finally came with sunshine and clear skies, as well as myriad tiny ziplock baggies on the ground throughout the area near the tent. I wandered back into the woods a bit to see where the folks had been coming from past our tent all night and saw a lone popup trailer hidden in the trees away from the camping area. I saw the “lady” I’d seen the night before in heels and short skirt walking outside the popup and realized it must be her "place of business” as well as a source of meth or whatever was being bought in the little baggies.

    We got the tents dried and loaded asap and headed for The Motorcycle Shop, the BMW dealer in Anchorage, for fork seals for Kim’s 700. I’d planned on replacing them with Fanda at his host’s garage but that didn’t work out. The service guy was happy to book us in for the work and as we waited for the bike to be finished, the trip through Candy land began...

    First on the list was to find a pair of waterproof boots for The Iron Butterfly. Her Sidi boots were not waterproof, and she’d mistakenly brought them north rather than her other ADV boots. As we hit the rains in the Yukon and Alaska we’d had to put her feet in bags until finding some waterproof socks in Whitehorse, and then had no luck finding boots at the dealership in Fairbanks. Wasn’t the case in Anchorage where they had a great selection of gear. She bought a pair of Gaerne waterproof boots and I found a new Kilimanjaro jacket in 2XL. My older Kathmandu jacket was great and waterproof but it was both cold and hot.


    Honey, does this jacket make me look fat?? Fatter???
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    We boxed up her boots and my old jacket for UPS and then wandered back down to the sales floor. We were hanging around the 1200 water boxers when Andrew, the sales manager, came over to ask us about our trip and such. In conversation about South America I shared that I was considering an 800 just for parts/tools compatibility with Kim’s 700 to simplify but they were just too small for me. He mentioned a lowered 1200 for Kim and she shared how much she’d liked sitting on the lowered 1200 Adventure at the Fairbanks dealer. They had no lowered 1200’s at the shop so we were safe. Conversation continued on various subjects until Andrew remembered he had bought a 1200GS from a Swiss guy who’d ridden some of the US on it and then sold it to them before flying back.

    We wandered down to the basement to look at it and it was well set up with Jesse cases, Ohlins suspension, PIAA lights, windshield etc. Andrew returned with a custom lowered seat from one of the mechanic’s bikes so that Kim could sit on it and see how it felt. It felt good indeed she said. The price was decent for a bike with the mileage and farkels but it needed a service and set of tires. Andrew said they’d get it cleaned up, tires put on and as much service as they could do by the next morning so that she could test ride it.

    We headed out to find a place for the night, landing in a run down motel not too far from the dealer replete with some drunk, fighting folks in the parking lot. Thai food and dodging the drunk, fighting guy who cursed us ended the fun for the evening as we fell asleep in the tiny room.


    The next day we’d planned to ride down to the Kenai peninsula, but Kim wanted to ride the 1200 and see how she liked it. She’d ridden my older R1100GS and really enjoyed the feel but as she was just getting her feet wet riding I felt it would be too heavy for her and we’d gone the single cylinder F650GS route instead.

    The bike was washed and sporting new tires when we pulled up and it wasn’t long before we were on the road. Kim was immediately comfortable on the bike and when we found a big parking lot she had a chance to handle it standing, sitting and idling along in low gear. There was no question she wanted the bike and so we hit the dealership. Indeed they made us a great deal on the bike, gear, 700 repair and trade value. They pulled the bike in for service and flushed the brakes and other fluids, new brake shoes, filters yada yada and by 5 we were transferring her gear into the new cases and I was wiring up the accessory ports and such.


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    She loves the bike and says it feels far more solid and comfortable, as well as easier to turn, park and handle overall. Sooooooo, the last thing I expected on this trip would be to return from Alaska with The Iron Butterfly on a 1200. She’s done exceptionally well on the 700 and I expect will do as well if not better on the 1200. The route from Alaska back to Texas to get it registered should be a decent test of reliability and being on the same bikes as we hit regions south will simplify tools and parts for sure.


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    From the dealership we found a UPS store to ship the old boots and jacket back, then looked for another motel and finally spotted one that claimed $69 a night. When Kim called, the desk girl confirmed both the price and availability. We found the motel and though old looking, we went in for the room. I confirmed with the desk girl that we had called and she said she had the room ready and just needed payment. I gave her my card and she handed me the receipt to sign when I noticed she had charged me $99 for the room. I corrected her and she said the rate was only $69 when booked online and Kim reminded her that she had said they would honor the rate by phone. The girl said that she’d never said that and that the $99 was non-refundable. Things escalated quickly and she refused to do anything, calling her manager and lying clearly over the phone to him. It got ugly fast and I called the credit card company from the lobby, who confirmed that the motel had not only charged us $99 but had charged it 3 times!

    I’m a nice, calm guy, but this was such obvious thievery I lost it and began yelling. It was the craziest thing I’ve been involved in in a long time, the girl lying about all of it, the manager threatening to call the police on us and swearing they would never give us money back. It was insane. I reported them as fraudulent to the credit card company while they listened, which seemed to get the manager’s attention. He then agreed to refund our money but by the time we got out of there you could have fried eggs on my forehead.

    It was late and we were tired so we traveled a few blocks back to the dump we'd stayed in the night before.

    Anchorage had not made a good impression… except for the BMW dealer... :D
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  18. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    The next day was sunny and Kim was excited to ride her new 1200. We were headed for the Kenai Peninsula and Homer, both anxious to get away from the city as fast as possible. Fanda and Kaschka were ensconced in their host’s home and had decided to stay until we came back through from Homer for Valdez.


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    As we rode south for the peninsula, the views were awesome along the coast and as we got further south the rains came in increasing volume. In addition, the rains came in increasing volume into Kim’s new Gaerne “waterproof” boots. She was not a happy camper. My Forma boots have seeped water in every rain and they are a major disappointment, having replaced a 9 year old pair of Oxtar (TCX) Infinitys that were as comfortable as an old pair of jeans and absolutely waterproof. I too had had enough of wet feet but had not found any boots to replace them on the road.

    At the old fishing village of Ninilchik we spotted the old Russian church and cemetery, stopping to view the ocean and small village below. A couple in an SUV stopped to talk with us about our trip and such for a while, then we rode down into the little village itself.

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    The lone souvenir shop was host to a resident artist who did sculpture and jewelry from fossilized whale bone and other local materials. Kim ended up buying a heart necklace made of whale bone. It was warm and cozy with the wood stove going and quite difficult to head back out into 50 degree temps and rain.

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    As we sat in the rain on the bikes preparing to leave, the artist/sculptor came running out and told us a couple of places to stay and eat in Homer. He and his wife were real sweethearts...


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    Over the next hour or so we glimpsed the water from the high cliffs occasionally between patches of fog and rain. We eventually reached Homer and the Spit in heavy rain, riding out to the tourist boardwalk and shops in the “Halibut Fishing Capitol”. We were cold, wet and hungry and a late lunch of clam chowder and grilled halibut made everything alright.





    We walked in the rain, surveying a lot of tent campers set up on the rocky beach but we just couldn’t muster the desire to set up and camp in the heavy rain, finding an old small hotel instead. The room rate was reasonable, the old lobby warm and cozy with a fireplace and we were done. The room was tiny but felt like a mansion. That evening we walked to the beach and then around the little town in the dark.




    One thing about the trip that we’ve found is that every certain number of days you just wake up and can’t do anything that day. It isn’t from any obvious reason, so much as fatigue or exhaustion, but it seems the body just needs to reset itself whether you want to or not. Such was the next day.

    We awoke to rain and just couldn’t get going, so we decided to stay another night and act like a tourist.

    We wandered the beach, the tourist shops and had another fish & chips lunch.

    We watched otters and fisherman near the shore.

    We walked on the boat docks and watched halibut being offloaded.

    We watched an otter sleeping on his back and floating next to the walkway.

    We wandered the little boardwalk and watched the halibut we’d seen earlier being filleted like warm butter.

    We came back to the hotel and lounged in the cozy, old lobby listening to foreign tourists converse.

    We looked at photos of eagles and bears that the hotel manager had on his online gallery.

    We acted like tourists on vacation and it was wonderful.


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    Late that night we got a text from our friends Dave and Heather who had left Fairbanks and wanted to meet us. We agreed on Seward for the next day.
    Late that night we got a text from Ronetta, the photographer we’d met in Denali, asking us to come stay with her in Anchorage.

    Our next day was planned, Seward around 2 for coffee with Dave and Heather and then the evening with Ronetta.
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  19. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

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    wow. new bike. lots of action.
    exciting times!
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  20. Stowaway

    Stowaway Adventurer

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    Subscribed!
    The photography is OUTSTANDING!!!
    Great RR you two!!
    Keep them coming Kim and Joseph!!
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