Saturday, May 14, 2011

Charlotte to the Arctic

It was a dark and stormy night....the gusty wind blew me around like a cotton ball in a wind tunnel. Then it happened....

But lets back up a little but first....

this morning I packed up camp and pressed on for another 750 miles.

Making coffee with my patented camp drip-master

This is how I roll...

The rain continued to come and go but the gear I have kept me as dry as a bone. The wind howled across the Prairie lands, gusting upwards of 35-40 miles per hour at times. The wind was headed west, and I was headed north, so do some simple math and you will know how my morning went. At first it was really cumbersome, but after 300 miles, it sort of became Thor norm...UNTIL I HIT THE DIRT ROAD. But we're not there yet.

I had to make an alternate route due to the flooding in the Midwest. A local crop duster pilot gave a suggestion, and I headed cross country.

As I hit this line of precipitation, the temperature went from 70 to 55 in 3 seconds. It was so fast that I was a little taken back, and actually slowed down for a brief second. It continued that way for the rest of the day and I decided to put on the heated jacket..

Tell me something. If you were to see this long road in the middle of nowhere, would you expect a state trooper to be waiting at the end? Me neither.... Luckily my super fast instinctive reactions slowed the bike down. Then I realized the speed limit is 75.. That's what was doing in the first place.

During a break in the weather, I decided to stop and get gas. I met Craig and Joe from Chicago. They we're riding 6000 miles to California and back along the southern route. The nice gas station lady took this picture fair us

On the last stretch of the trip, I saw the dark and stormy clouds building and figured I'd be in another rain storm. As I approached the storm I saw an increasing number of lightening strikes. I don't care for lightening since I know what its like being hit in an airplane with one, so better judgement told me to pull over and I took refuge under an old gas station canopy.

One the lightening passed, I continued the last hour on to the badlands national park where I found a primitive campground I would use. As I reached the dirt road that would take me the last 12 miles, another storm came with more gusty winds. I had nowhere to take shelter so I continued on. The road had many loose rocks on it, and I didn't take the time to lower the air pressure in my tires. All of a sudden one gust came and sent me off the right side of the road. I didn't want to swerve back left lest I fall, so I gingerly worked it along the ditch, but it was too slippery and before I knew it, I dove off the side to avoid getting hit. The bike landed ini the ditch, and to add insult to injury, it started pouring!

I assessed the situation and decided to use my ratted straps and winch the bike up over the little bank and maybe, just maybe I could lift it up. I removed all the stuff, and worked at it. After a little name calling and an hour and 45 minutes I used all the strength I had left and got it up on the wheels. Being the great bike it is, it fired right up and I drove it out to hard ground. I didn't want to ride anymore, so I set up camp right there by the road and waited to see what view I would have tomorrow....

And of course the view!!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Charlotte to the Arctic

I awoke to a gorgeous view all around me. Te cows were mooing from a nearby farm and a deer grazed less than a hundred yards in front of me.

I packed up, ate and headed out. I passed a heard of bison grazing in the field.

I stopped by a car wash and cleaned up the mud off my engine. With everything put back together, I headed for my next stop in Sheridan Wyoming. My former boss retired there and I thought it would be nice to stop in and say hi. I visited for a while then took the 4 wheeler and rode up the bluff for a great view

Then on to the Beartooth Pass. Supposedly one of the most ridden roads ion the US by motorcycle. I haven't started it yet but look forward to the great ride.
I found a nice little campground by a stream, and have the whole end all to myself.

I have all my things drying out from the little "incident" yesterday

Tomorrow I meet up with Keith and together we will cross the boarder into a whole nother world

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Across the divide

I had trouble with one of my cameras and the photos were too large to upload. These pictures are poor quality, but hopefully it will give you an idea until I can upload the good images to picasa.

This morning is my last leg until I meet up with Keith. Since I was so near Beartooth Pass I decided to give that a ride. This area is beautiful and this ride was hands down the best ride I have ever been this point.
The pictures I took I deem "useless" because a photo just can't show what I saw. The vast mountainous region I was in spread on for mile after mile.

I awoke to the sound of birds chirping and squirrels running. I stoked the fire which quickly came back to life. It was cool this morning, probably around 60 degrees.

I headed up the pass. There were few cars on the road, and I had the place to myself for quite a while. As I got further up, the snowcapped peaks started multiplying and soon I was at the top of the near 12,000 foot pass looking for hundreds of miles in every direction

Near the top, I passed a handful of skiers preparing to ski down, and ride a lift back to the top. It didn't look like a normal ski resort, it just had a small parking area.

I was amazed how much snow there was up there. I passed areas in the road where the snow was over 30 feet high.

It's hard to see in the above picture, but the top of the snowbank is where you see blue.

I was following another motorcycle, and at a construction stop I a pulled up next to him. We chatted about how nice the area was and where we were going. When I told him I was headed through Missoula, he said "you know the road is closed ahead right"......... No I did NOT! It got washed out last week. Well, time to turn around and head back. I had only done 33 miles at this point, so I got to enjoy the pass all over again.

Ironically we are traveling to the "Top of the World" in Alaska.

I jumped on the interstate and booked on towards coeur D' Alane. (referred to as CDA from now on).
I arrived at my cousin's at around 6 pm. Their dog cautiously came up to me sniffing intently as if he was questioning my personal hygiene!
Yes my butt does hurt, and it was nice being off the bike for a little while.

Keith got a late start and rolled in after dark. Tomorrow we will make a quick trip to the camping store for a few things and head up to the border!

This trip is really beginning NOW! I'm pretty excited!
Location:Red Lodge, MT

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

North to Alaska

This morning had a slow start. Neither of us seemed to get in the groove. Finally at 10am we hit the road.

The weather was sunny and we dressed for a great beautiful day. An hour later the clouds rolled in and the temp dropped from a comfortable mid sixties to lower forties. Rain started from a slow sprinkle to a steady pour. It didn't last all day but came and went at will.

At the first gas stop, we did a much needed cleaning of our windshields....

As I was thinking how much my butt hurt, I passed this guy...And was thankful that just my butt hurt.

As we entered the Banff National Forest, the views got spectacular. Pictures and words cannot portray the magnitude of the Canadian Rockies. Reaching upwards of 3900 meters they extend as far as the eye can see.
30 minutes after we entered the park we saw our first bear.

Shortly after we spotted some mountain goats

It's pretty cool to see all these animals wondering around without fear of the human. They don't give you much thought as they eat right by the road.

The lakes are filled with a turquoise water. The low fog makes it look like a painting.

We reached Jasper Alberta where we downed a sandwich and kicked backup for a few minutes. I thought there'd be more internet access, but it's really hard to find. I turned on my phone and called my beautiful wife to let her know everything was well.

Then on towards Prince George.

As we crossed the Rockies it started raining...then sleeting...then snowing. On went the electric jacket.

About mid day we passed by this glacier. They were giving tours which went up to the top but we wanted to pores on, so we settled with a few pictures

So far both bikes are running very well. I developed a small oil leak that appeared to be coming from the oil filler area. I stopped at a motorcycle repair shop and asked if they had an O-ring that I could replace the worn one. They had the tight size and I fixed it in the parking lot. It worked perfectly.

We arrived at the campground near Prince George and drove around looking for a space. The whole thing was full. Sadly we turned around and headed back out of the park. As we passed the headquarters I turned in and gave one last effort to stay put. The ranger lady said we could camp down by the lake if we wanted to, but would not be able to have a fire. great!

Keith pretty much went right to bed, I had some oat meal and hot chocolate, and currently am typing away.
We did 500 miles today bring my total mileage to 3400 miles.

Tomorrow we plan on reaching Hyder AK for a quick stop and then on to Deese Lake.
We are going to slow the pace down a little so we can take in all the views.