Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 15, the final leg, Franktown, Colorado to Oklahoma City. Final thoughts and stats.

I left my parent's home at about 3:30 am mountain time.  I wanted to make sure I got home by 4:00 pm CST as I had made dinner reservations at Mohogany Prime Steakhouse for Devon and I at 7:00 pm CST to celebrate her birthday.  Getting home before 4 would allow me to spend some time with the kids before going to dinner.

As I rode into the darkness, I was constantly on alert for animals.  The deer are really thick near my parent's home.  I did not see any and suspect that was due to storms the night before.  I almost always see deer when I go to my parent's house.

As I pressed on in the darkness, I could see a fantastic lightening show off in the distance.  It was great to watch until I caught up with the storm. I caught the tail end of the storm near Limon, Colorado and rode in the rain and dark for about an hour until the sun came up.  It continued to rain until I reached Burlington, then cleared up.

I arrived home at 3:00 pm CST and was greeted by the kids.  Devon was not home as I had sent her with a friend of hers to a salon for a pampering session.  I spoke with the kids for a bit.  Devon got home at about 3:45 pm.  It was a wonderful reunion.  I showered up and we all talked until it was time to go to dinner.  On the way to dinner, we almost got into a head on collision in the car.  A 16 year old driver came into our lane and was headed for us at about 50 miles per hour.  I slammed the brakes on and hit the horn.  With about 10 feet left, he swerved back into his lane, lost control of his vehicle, spun out, almost hit the car behind us, and crashed into the ditch.  No one was hurt, but it was a very scary and tense moment.  I am thankful that no one was hurt.

We had a wonderful steak dinner and a great evening.

No wildlife counts for today.

I'll bet you are wondering about some stats from the trip, well here you go:

Days traveled:            15 (14 days on the bike, one day spent in Fairbanks)

States traveled:           6 (Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska.)

Canadian Provinces traveled:  3 (Alberta, British Columbia, and Yukon Territory.)

Miles traveled:            10,063

$ spent on Gas:           $1462.87

$ spent on Hotel:         $689.50

$ spent on camp sites:  $80.00

Most Expensive Hotel:  Super 8 in Dawson Creek, they wanted $150.00 for the night.  I negotiated the rate with the clerk to $110.00.  I also was able to negotiate the rate at the Blue Bell Motel in Fort Nelson from $110.00 to $90.00.  Most hotels were around $80-90 for the night.  The cost to stay at the University of Alaska is $56.00 per night for a single.

Least Expensive Hotel:  Corral Inn in Harlowton, Montana at $50.00.  I tried to negotiate a better rate, but my charm did not work with the clerk

Most Expensive camp site:  $30.00 in Tok, Alaska

Least Expensive camp site:  Free at the gas station in Teslin.  Most camp sites were $10 to $20.00.

Favorite part of the ride:  All of it :-).  Most definitely Muncho Lake, the ride for the Alaskan Border to Tok, Alaska, and gaining status as an international rider.

Days without rain:  None, I was rained on every day of the trip.  The most rain in one day was the ride from Dawson Creek to Watson Lake, it rained a little over 12 inches that day.

Repairs to the Wing:  Unknown at this time.  For now; cruise control, speedometer, right fork seal, tires (I wore the set out), decorative light wiring, and a decorative cover was lost.  This ride was brutal on the bike.  I knew it was going to be tough on the bike, and it fared better than most.  I will start rehab on the bike next week.

Even though I fell 80 miles short of my goal, it was the trip and experience of a lifetime that I will never forget.  Thank you for all of your support, friendship, and love.

It is now time to settle back into normal life again and dream about future rides.  Time to start learning Spanish and starting to plan out the next large adventure set for 2027.  This would be my 55th birthday, and the ride would be to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina.  There will be other adventures between now and then, so stay tuned.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 14 Harlowton, Montana to Franktown, Colorado and a visit with the family

I woke up this morning at 3:30 am to get ready so I could get to my parent's house at a reasonable time.  I have the bike loaded and was on the road by 4:00 am.  It was extremely dark out.  One thing that I do not like to do is ride on a two lane highway in the middle of nowhere in the dark.  The reason why is this is when animals are active.  Animals are hard to see in the dark and are quite unpredictable.  I took it slow, but was really on edge.  There was one point when I flipped my brights on and could see multiple sets of eye reflections in the distance.  I do not know what they were, but I was very cautious.

I have really been looking forward to visiting with my family.  I do not get to see them very often since we live in Oklahoma.

Here's how dark it was on the road outside of Harlowton, MT:

I took this photo to my left, it was pitch black.
 It wound up being a wonderful morning in Montana.  I was near Billings as the sun rose.  The sunrise was stunning.  I took multiple photos.

I have read about what many other riders have referred to as "The great awakening", but have never heard anyone describe what it feels like.  I think I ran into that moment today.  As I reflected back on my trip, I remembered the good and bad times, then realized all my memories thus far were good.  I really have enjoyed this trip and want to do more, explore more.  There is so much out there to see and do.  Riding a motorcycle while doing it adds a whole new dimension to the trip.  It's all about living in the moment for the moment.  You see and experience so much more; smells, sights, and sounds.  This was an awesome experience that I will never forget.  I have already started thinking about other places to travel to.

While I was riding north of Cheyenne, Wyoming I ran into some of the strongest head winds I have ever ridden in.  I was running TWO (throttle wide open) and was only able to maintain speeds of 55-65 MPH.  The speed limit on this stretch is 75 which I can normally hold with no problem.

I made it to my parent's home at about 4:15 PM mountain time.  My younger sister and her significant other came down to visit as well.  It was nice to visit with them.

My younger sister, Rachel, and her significant other, Mark.
My nephew was also there.  He has grown quite a bit and is now almost as tall as me.

My nephew.
My father came home from work and we had a barbecued chicken dinner.  I was able to tell my mother and father all about my journey, it was quite the enjoyable time.  I miss seeing them and wish I could visit with them more often.

My parents.

Tomorrow is the last leg of the journey.  Only about 700 more miles to home.  I plan to leave my parent's house very early in the morning so I can make it back home no later than 4 pm CST.  I can't wait to see the kids and Devon again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 13 Edmonton to Harlowton, Montana

Well, I'm on the final leg of the trip.  I spoke with Devon today and I can't wait to see her.

I left Edmonton at about 4am as I wanted to get out of Edmonton before the traffic started.  Edmonton is a gigantic town with a ton of people, so traffic can get pretty bad.  There were many construction zones which had some of the routes I was going to take closed, so I had to plan alternate routes.  I was able to get out, but not before the traffic started.  Luckily, I was on the right side of the highway (headed south).  The northbound folks were going to be waiting for quite awhile.  I was a little nervous about driving in Edmonton because the folks there drive fast and erratic.  I did make it through just fine.

The border crossing took about 45 minutes this time as there was a line.  I was asked the standard questions and allowed to pass.

One thing that does amaze me is that there is a definite line where your cell service starts as stops at the border.  It is very weird.  I wonder how they do that.

I rode through the hills of norther Montana and enjoyed the ride.  Today was the first day since I left that I did not get rained on.

I made back to Harlowton, Montana and am staying in the same motel that I stayed in on my way to Alaska.  I like it, it's basic and cheap.  Just like me.

The Wing and trailer are showing more wear today.  I noticed while gassing up the Wing that the right fork is leaking fork oil from the seal.  I also found a few bolts that have shaken loose.  The amount of abuse the Wing and the trailer have endured during the course of this trip.  I will have to do some reconditioning of the Wing and trailer when I get back, or perhaps I can talk Devon into letting me buy one of these..........

BMW GS 1200
or one of these:

Goldwing 1800
Here are some photos from today:

It was a beautiful sunrise above Edmonton this morning.

I looked over and saw my shadow, I thought it was a cool photo.

Not much to look at today.

The blown fork seal.  I bet this happened north of Destruction Bay.

I wanted to show you how dirty the Wing is.

I saw no wild life today.

I will be traveling to my parent's house tomorrow and am anxious to see them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 12 Fort Nelson to Edmonton

Today was a great day.  The weather was relatively good.  I only encountered rain once today.  I have yet to have a complete day without rain, but that is OK.

Talking to other riders I have heard that when you are on a trip like this you loose all sense of time.  I am finding this to be true.  It seems every time I stop for the night, I have to ask what day and time it is.

I really don't have much to report today.  Once I got past Dawson Creek, it was all open interstate.  There was not much in the way of scenery.

I am staying at a Motel 6 tonight and had dinner at a local chain called Original Joe's.  The food was pretty good.  I also stopped at Dairy Queen for some desert.

I met another rider at the hotel who rode all the way up to Prudhoe Bay.  He has a dual sport motorcycle and went up the same day I made my attempt.  He told me the first 30 miles were so slick that he could hardly keep his bike up.  He also said that at one point, he was having a hard time controlling his bike, when he looked in the rear view mirror, he saw nothing but blue smoke.  When he stopped he realized his front fender was so full of mud that the front wheel would no longer turn.  He said it took him about two hours to clear enough mud to allow the wheel to roll again.  I told him about how I turned around, he said that was a good call because there was no way the Wing would have made it given the conditions.  He did say that on his way back, it was dry and smooth sailing.

I am really looking forward to getting home.

I plan to cross back into the United States tomorrow, then travel as far as I can before 5 pm in Montana.  Friday, I will travel to my parent's house to visit for the night, and then back home.

Here are some photos from today:

The day started out rainy, but soon the sun came out and stayed with me for most of the day.  I got rained on again just outside of Edmonton.

This is the view just outside of Fort Nelson.

I figured I would show you what the typical gas pump in the Canadian bush looks like.  If you are not paying attention, they can be hard to spot.

Between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake, there are several very steep hills.  Here is one, this is not  trick photography.

The scenery heading into Edmonton is not much to speak of. 

Not much to look at, eh?
I did see some animals today:

Bear:  1
Wolf:  1
Rabbit:  1
Moose:  1 very, very huge bull moose!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 11 the race to Fort Nelson and Goldwing Down!!

Oh no, Goldwing down!!

I'll tell you what happened later in this post.  Both the Wing and I are OK.
I woke up bright and early in Teslin and loaded the bike up.  I walked over to where they highway workers were to find out what was going on.  They advised the road was clear and that I was good to go, but advised the road could be closed at any time due to rising river water and the threat of more slides.  I decided I would hustle and get through this section as quickly as possible.

Luckily the rain had stopped, and the sun came out.  I headed east out of Teslin, over the bridge and into the unknown.

I caught the sunrise just outside of Teslin.
I reached the area where the bridges had washed out.  I was a little apprehensive about driving this stretch as I did not know what to expect.  Luckily, the flag guy was the same guy who I stopped for a few days earlier at another mud slide.  He told me that the road is actually pretty good right now and not to worry.  This put my mind at ease.  As I drove through the area, I was amazed at the amount of damage the slide had done to the area.  The forest was leveled, absolutely amazing.
As I headed to Watson Lake, you could see where the river was starting to claim land.  Here is someone's home that was flooded.  There were several areas where the river was within 6-10 inches of coming onto the road.  I drove at a much faster pace through this section, and made it through without incident.
I reached Watson Lake, here are the photos of the sign post fores that I promised.  I did not get out and walk around.  I wanted to, but there was also threats of flooding near Muncho Lake.

The rivers in the area were very swollen.  There were several places where the forest was flooded.
I stopped for gas at the Liard Hot Springs.  There are cabins there like this one.  I would like to take Devon there and spend about a week exploring the area.
The next series of photos were taken at Muncho Lake.  Even though there was a threat of flooding in the area, I simply had to stop to take some pictures.  The water is a very turquoise blue color, very stunning.

In this photo, you can see how high the lake is.  There were a few areas where it was within inches of the road.
As I continued on, I saw a large group of motorcyclist heading in my direction.  They seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as I was.
Shortly after this photo was taken, my speedometer stopped working.  I thought for sure the cable must have snapped.  I figured I would look at it when I got to the hotel tonight.  I decided to stay at a hotel for the night as I have camped out the past two nights, had not taken a shower yet, have started growing a beard, and have picked up a Canadian accent.

I made it into Fort Nelson at about 3 pm local time.  I gassed up and secured a hotel room.  I am exhausted and cannot wait to go to bed.

I looked at the speedometer cable.  It appears some of the road gunk got past the seal as the cable was completely gunked up.  I am concerned that the speedometer drive may have stripped out when the cable gunked up, but will not know until I get home and check it out further. No more odometer photos as for now it is not working.  I have four things now on my fix list for when I get home; speedometer, cruise control, one of the wires for the show lights split, and one of the decorative caps for the right rotor cover fell off somewhere.  This ride has been hard on the Wing, particularly due to all the rain.

Oh yea, what happened here?
When I was in the planning stages of this ride, I read somewhere that you are pretty much guaranteed to drop your bike at least once on this trip.  Well, today was my once.  I was pulling into a gas station and a motor home started to move towards me, so I moved to the side.  Unfortunately, there was a huge pothole in the way as I slowed the Wing.  The rear tire wound up on the side of the pothole and I could not hold her up to prevent her from dropping.  Luckily, I was basically stopped when this happened.  There was no damage to the Wing, the crash bars did their duty.

Wildlife count:

Bears:  1
Moose:  3
Buffalo:  More than you can possibly count, they were everywhere today.

Buffalo crossing the road.

Day 10, The run to Teslin

I headed south out of Tok in the rain concerned about how things would shake out today.  The concerns faded away for awhile as I entered the twisties near the US/Canadian border.  Once again, the Wing and I carved through the turns, it was nice and peaceful.  The rain had stopped, but the roads were still wet.

I got to the Canadian border and there was no one there.  There was a note on the window that said "Please stay in your vehicle, we know you are there".  I waited about 15 minutes and no one showed.  I was starting to wonder what was going on.  About the time I was going to get off the bike and knock on the door (this probably would not have worked out well for me), a lady came to the window.  She asked me where I was headed, how long I would be in Canada, and if I had any weapons.  I answered her questions and showed her my passport.  She looked at it and waived me trough.  She had no information about the road between Teslin and Watson Lake.

I once again skied the moguls north of Destruction Bay.  The southbound lanes seemed more rough than the north bound lanes.  I still had fun though.  As I neared Destruction Bay, my thoughts turned once again towards getting home, would it be the ferry or the road?

While filling up with gas in Destruction Bay, a couple on a Goldwing 1800 pulled up.  They were going to try to catch the ferry, but had heard that there were only a few motorcycle spots left.  We asked the clerk if there was any additional word on the road.  He advised it was still closed and there was no additional news.

I parted company with the folks on the Goldwing 1800 and continued south.  I would make my decision at Haines Junction since that is the intersection where if you go south you wind up in Haines for the ferry, or go east for the highway to Whitehorse.

The mountains near Destruction Bay

This series of photos are the Mountains Between Destruction Bay and Haines Junction.

WOW, the subn even came out.

Once I reached Haines Junction, I stopped for gas once more.  I asked the clerk if there was any news about the road.  He said the news just said the road would be opened later this afternoon.  Armed with this information, my decision was to take the road over the ferry.

The following photos are headed out of Haines Junctions towards Whitehorse.


I know it is kind or weird that I keep taking pictures through my windshield, but I want you to see things the way I am seeing them.

Construction zones are common here.  They consist of loose or packed gravel.  At times, they can be quite dusty.
 I stopped in Whitehorse for gas again and asked for an update from the clerk about the road.  He said the news indicated the road would be opened at 1pm local time.  Great, that was in 15 minutes.  Seeing as I was 1 hour and 45 minutes away, that would be great.  I could press on and make it to Watson Lake for the night.

Unfortunately, the plan was not that clean.  I arrived in Teslin at about 3 pm local time to find a line of semis about 5 miles long.  They were pulled to the side of the road, so I continued on into town.  There were people everywhere and no vacancies at any of the hotels/motels.  I stopped to get gas, they were out of regular gas, so I had to get premium.  I was concerned about getting gas as there were a ton of people there.  Shortly after I filled up, they ran out.

The store was almost out of food, so I grabbed a cup of creme of potato soup, a sausage, and a piece of carrot cake and ate dinner.  I started thinking about what I was going to do for the night.  Most people that were parked had motor homes or trailers.  I spoke with the lady who owned the gas station and asked if I could pitch my tent in the parking spot next to the gas station, she said that would be fine.  I was very thankful that I now had a place to stay for the night.  She even gave me the internet code, but with so many people trying to access the internet it was next to impossible to get on.

Unfortunately, it started to rain again when I was setting up my tent.  I crawled in and tried to go to bed, but could not so I got up.  I walked toward the river to check it out and take some photographs.  When I go there, there was a group of Tinglit people at the river bank.  They were beating drums, bouncing, and chanting.  It was really cool to see and experience this.  I hung out there for about an hour.  The highway department came with a truck and was offering folks food and drink.  They even opened the community center up for folks who had no shelter for the night.  All in all, it was a great experience to see folks come together.

About 7pm local time, it was announced that they had started to move traffic from Watson Lake north.  It was only semis for now.  They were going to move the semis from Watson Lake north, then move the ones from Teslin south.  Once the semis had cleared, they would start allowing other vehicles.  This was going to be a slow process as there were multiple washouts and there was only one lane open.  No one knew how long the one lane section was for sure, but rumor had it that it was miles.  I decided to go to bed and deal with the zoo that would be there in the morning.  My understanding was that there were 3000 folks stranded in Teslin going south and 5000 stranded in Watson Lake going north.  I figured I would get up about 4 am and head out.

This is the gas station/motel/general store that I stayed next to.

Semis were lined up as far as the eye could see.

My home for the night.  It got quite cold, but my sleeping bag kept me very warm.

This is the bridge over the river you have to cross get out of Teslin on the way to Watson Lake.  I kept wondering what the road would hold for me beyond the bridge.

Semis stared roaring through town at about 2am local time.  I heard them, but went back to sleep.

Wildlife count:

Rabbit:  1
Moose:  2
Mouse:  1