Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 41 - Limon, CO. to Wichita, KS. Hot day in the High Plains!

Day 41 – Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Start: Limon, CO
End: Wichita, KS
Trip Miles Today: 433
Total Trip Miles: 10687

Today was the first of several days in a row of highway mileage that will close out my trip. Eastern Colorado and Kansas are really lovely places but I am very sure that riding through these states on Interstate 70 doesn’t show off their beauty to maximum effect. The first thing I noticed this morning, upon leaving Limon, CO before 7:00 AM was that it was already over 60 deg (f)! I took this as a clue that today might be a “warm” day. Riding eastward and looking directly into the morning sun is always a challenge but I guess that’s the price to be paid for these early morning departures. Today was, again, all about covering maximum distance so I didn’t factor in adequate time to check out many of the “ attractions” to be found in this part of the world. For example I had to pass up the “World’s Largest Prairie Dog” in Oakley, Kansas. I also made the mistake of failing to leave time for visits to any of the many “boyhood homes of famous people” scattered across the Kansas landscape. For example, I drove right past the boyhood home of Walter P. Chrysler in Ellis, KS and completely missed the boyhood homes of both Bob Dole and Senator Arlen Specter in Hays, Kansas. First thing tomorrow morning I will likewise miss, no doubt, the boyhood home of Dwight D. Eisenhower in Abilene, KS. What I did see today were the rich farmlands of Kansas which deliver wheat, corn, and other important crops to all of us. There is also a surprising number of oil wells to be seen as one drives along. Not the most scenic of views but nonetheless beautiful and important in their own way. The heat of today was pretty oppressive. By the end of the ride today I was looking at 98 degrees on the bike thermometer. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit cooler. Tomorrow's plan is to make my way to St. Louis and hopefully beyond the Mississippi river. The evening was capped off with a very nice dinner at the new aviation themed restaurant, Hangar One, with good friend Lori Lucion from Cessna Aircraft. Thanks for being along for these last few days of the ride. Jack

There are more pictures to see at http://jackb1.smugmug.com

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by RevZilla.com , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Day 40 - Rock Springs, WY to Limon, CO. Rocky Mountain Monday!!

Day 40 – Monday, June 29, 2009
Start: Rock Springs, WY
End: Limon, CO
Trip Miles Today: 497
Total Trip Miles: 10254

I feel really good about today and the route I took. By getting off Interstate 80 near Rawlings and heading south into Colorado, I was able to entirely change the character of the ride. My route took me off of the Interstate by 8:30 in the morning (yea!). Near the small town of Wamsutter I turned south on Wyoming Route 789 toward the Colorado border and the small town of Craig, CO. This portion took me through high desert and across the Continental Divide for the first of 4 times today. By the time I entered Craig, the terrain had transformed from the Wyoming High desert browns and reds to the Colorado lush greens. A VERY refreshing change. In Craig I turned East on US 40. Next location of note was the ski town of Steamboat Springs, CO. Steamboat is a little bit artsy and touristy but still with a taste of the old west. From Steamboat the Route 40 goes seriously uphill and into the Routt National Forest. The segment from Steamboat to Kremmling was the surprise and delight of the day for scenery. Forested mountainsides, alpine lakes and more. Then it was on to Granby, Grand Lake and Route 34 through the Rocky Mountain National Park. Pictures do not do these places justice, you must visit! Aside from about 15 miles of construction, near the West entrance, the Park was just about perfect. I also had my closest ever encounter with Elk. They were actually grazing in the roadway. After leaving the park I passed through Estes Park then continued on through Bolder, Denver and (sadly) out of the mountains and into the prairie. After Denver I joined I-70 and proceeded to Limon, CO, my overnight digs. I say sadly because there is a lot of flat and seeming featureless country before me as I proceed across Eastern Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. I will be on Interstate 70 for well over 1000 miles before I exit in Pennsylvania some 4 days hence. The trip total miles is now over 10,000 and that seems like a real trek. Someday it will make me tired just thinking about it. But not yet. I’m beginning to get amped up to just pound out miles and get home. Thanks again for letting me share this little adventure with you. Jack

You can see lots more pictures from my trip at http://jackb1.smugmug.com

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by RevZilla.com , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 39 - Nampa, ID. to Rock Springs, WY. Through the Wasatch. 478 miles but all on the Interstate!

Day 39 – Sunday, June 28, 2009
Start: Nampa, ID
End: Rock Springs, WY
Trip Miles Today: 478
Total Trip Miles: 9757

What can I say about today? 478 miles (3rd longest day of the trip!) but all on the Interstate. My route of travel is easily described – I left Nampa, ID on I-84 East. I stayed on I-84 until it ends in Utah East of Salt Lake City and at that point I jumped on I-80 East for the rest of the day. You can certainly make good time on the Interstates, especially in the west where the speed limits are high (like 75 all day today!) You do miss out, however, on much of the scenery and interesting elements of how people live their lives in the localities that you pass through. That being said, for tomorrow I’m going to leave the Interstate for a few hours and cut through the Northeast corner of Colorado via secondary roads. It’s my last day in the mountains and I’m really looking forward to the diversion, regardless of how long it may take me to reach tomorrow’s overnight destination, Limon, CO.

Highlights for today were few but the one which always stands out for me is the ride from the Salt Lake City area heading east. The climb up through the mountains is eye-popping and even the Interstate is interesting here, with sweeping s-turns, many posted for 45 or 55 mph but capable of being negotiated at higher speeds. I am definitely looking forward to lots of mountain twisties tomorrow.

The bike continues to handle the miles without complaint. I did confirm today an observation I made at the beginning of the trip coming across North Dakota and Montana. That is that the gas mileage really goes in the pot when you try to cruise at speeds above 75. While I would suspect that the overall gas mileage for the trip is about 57mpg, by really twisting the throttle to cover ground quickly the rider can drive the mpg value into the 40s. On the other hand, proceeding at more “sedate” speeds on secondary roads often yields over 60 mpg. Take your pick!

As I mentioned, tomorrow it’s Limon, CO. I’m getting far enough along that it’s getting possible to predict where I’m gonna land for the rest of the trip. That projection kinda looks like this: Monday night-Limon, CO; Tuesday night- somewhere around Salina or Lawrence, KS; Wednesday night-St Louis area; Thursday night- Columbus, Ohio area; Friday night – HOME in Malvern, PA. Still lots of miles to go but the end is coming in sight! Thanks for being here with me. Jack

There are more pictures available to see at http://jackb1.smugmug.com

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by RevZilla.com , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 38 - Pendleton, OR. to Nampa, ID. A second morning at Hodaka Days, then on to Idaho.

Day 38 – Saturday, June 27, 2009
Start: Pendleton, Or.
End: Nampa, Idaho
Trip Miles Today: 270
Total Trip Miles: 9279

On the way back to Athena early this morning I took a few moments to cruise by the Pendleton Woolen Mills. Founded in 1893, Pendleton Woolen Mills is known worldwide as a maker of fine Indian blankets and men’s plaid shirts. It could very well be the only thing you ever heard of from Pendleton, OR. My early morning ride also gave me time to soak up the views of the local farms and the agribusiness. The area’s main crops are wheat and hay but I’m also told that a great percentage of world’s commercial green pea crop comes from this area.

Back, then, to Athena I went. What I found were many more bikes now present – maybe as many as 150-200? Also, by attending Saturday morning I got to view the Hodaka Parade through downtown Athena – a sight not to be missed! Not only is the parade fun for the participants but local folks all come out and it’s a grand old time. Many of the local residents seem to look back fondly on the Hodaka era when the brand carried Athena’s name proudly to the most distant corners of the United States. The parade brings with it the sounds and smells (and smoke!) that was the signature of two-stroke motorcycling in the 60s and 70s. Just like a trip back in a time machine! Also by visiting again on Saturday I got some time to speak to Paul Stannard and his wife Patti who are the real catalysts for the continuation of this great event. Paul is the president of the Hodaka Club and also operates one of the premier outlets for Hodaka Parts, information, and accessories. Their company, Strictly Hodaka, is based in Vermont. Paul and Patti are friendly, outgoing people, willing to help in any way and they have made a successful business out of their passion. We should all be so lucky! However, even this fun had to come to an end as I needed to get on the road and cover some ground eastward. Before noon I was on my way, rolling eastward in I-84 and covering the last 100 miles of Oregon. Shortly after crossing into Idaho I decided that enough was enough and that I had to get off the Interstate if I was to retain my sanity. I took a chance and went south from the highway and worked my way into the Snake River Valley. I followed that for about thirty scenic miles before turning back north toward Nampa, ID. my overnight destination. Unfortunately, going eastbound the time zone changes steal hours from you. When I crossed into Idaho I entered the Mountain Time Zone and lost an hour from the available riding time. Fortunately I’ll be in Mountain Time for the next couple of days so I don’t have to dial that correction into my travel plans again for a while.

It looks like each of the next few days will need to be over 400 milers in order to make my planned arrival at home on Friday, July 3. Tomorrow’s destination is Rock Springs, WY and Limon, CO the day after that. Riding the Interstates will make the mileage accumulation possible but I’m not looking forward to just highway miles. Hopefully I can cover ground quick enough to get off the highway from time to time and see the truly interesting stuff. Time will tell. Thanks for coming along. Jack

There are more pictures available to see at http://jackb1.smugmug.com

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by RevZilla.com , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 37 - At Pendleton, OR. Hodaka Days in Athena, OR!! Two stroke, vintage bike fun!

Day 37 – Friday, June 26, 2009
Start: Pendleton, Or.
End: Pendleton, Or.
Trip Miles Today: 47
Total Trip Miles: 9009

Today was day spent in the Pendleton, Oregon area. Pendleton is pretty well known as the home of Pendleton Woolens and Knits (no woolen knits required today – 80 deg. and sunny!) Less well known, at least to people outside the motorcycling community, is that less than 20 miles up the road is Athena, Oregon the home of Hodaka Motorcycles. In the early 60s Athena based agribusiness company PABATCO (Pacific Basin Trading Company) found themselves in the motorcycle business through an odd set of circumstances including the bankruptcy of the obscure Japanese motorcycle manufacturer Yamaguchi, currency trading restrictions with Japan, and the critical mass of motorcycle enthusiasts within the PABATCO management corps (Long story made short!) The Hodaka product was pretty advanced for it’s time – employing a steel tube frame for it’s “trail Bikes” when the products from the Big 4 Japanese manufacturers were still pressed steel weldments. Also, these capable little bikes had lights, horns and other street equipment which allowed the owner to ride to the trailhead rather than haul them in a trailer. Success rapidly followed and the company sold 10s of thousands of bikes (in the US only) in just a few short years. This success was rather short lived as the little company never really had the resources to compete directly with the much bigger Japanese manufacturers such as Honda and Yamaha. When the big guys finally got it right with their “dirt bikes” (think Yamaha DT1) in the late 60s and early 70s, the Hodaka brand was wound down and finally closed about 1978. Nonetheless these bikes have quite the following nationwide and their annual “homecoming” is in Athena this week. Attending the event is special treat for me as I have a “basket case” Hodaka at home awaiting its turn for restoration. It’s exciting to see all the different models (Hodaka was famous for it’s “tongue in cheek” names for the different lines of bikes – “Super Rat”, “Road Toad”, “Dirt Squirt”, and “Wombat” were all part of the fun). Importantly, these are not just show bikes but they are ridden and ridden hard! Nice to see classics out there in the dirt! Anyway, I was able to spend the afternoon at Hodaka Days just absorbing the ambiance. I plan to return tomorrow to spend another half day experiencing the bike parade, swap meet and bike show. But, all good things must end and I plan to depart about noon or 1:00pm for destinations east. I’ll try to put a couple of hundred miles under my belt tomorrow afternoon – perhaps over near Boise, Idaho. Then the next few days afterward will be mostly just pounding out those boring highway miles while making my way home. At this time I anticipate arrival in SE Pennsylvania on Friday, July 3. I should know more after a couple of days but that seems a reasonable projection for now. I hate to see the end in sight but there you are! However, we’ve got another week to ride and anything can happen so I hope you’ll stay with me! Thanks again, Jack.

There are many more pictures available to see at http://jackb1.smugmug.com

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by RevZilla.com , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Day 36 - Ashland, OR to Pendleton, OR. Crater Lake!

Day 35 – Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Start: Ashland, Or.
End: Pendleton, Or.
Trip Miles Today: 436
Total Trip Miles: 8962

The trip is getting to be pretty close to 9000 miles now and this afternoon the very first pangs of “get home itis” began to creep in. From now on, every place I go will be closer to home than the last but I’m really nowhere done yet! Today, for example I banged out over 400 miles and visited one of my absolute favorite places on earth, Crater Lake National Park.

I got an early start because I knew I faced a long day. Off by 6:30 am I was headed north on I-5 out of Ashland. It was only a short stint on the super-slab today though. At Medford, only about 15 miles away I had the great pleasure of getting off the Interstate an on to California Rte. 62, The Crater Lake Highway. The highway generally follows the path of the Rogue River, which originates high in the cascades near the north side of Crater Lake. By following the river’s path the highway lends itself to many beautiful vistas over the 70+ odd miles from Medford to the park. Much of the route passes through the Rogue River National Forest. Especially notable is the Rogue Gorge, carved by the river over eons. A number of picture stops and a few stops just to say “Wow” caused the trip to proceed at a fairly slow pace. I was, nonetheless, at the Crater Lake National Park South gate by just about 9:00 am. Since first visiting Crater Lake in 2005 I have longed to go back. To me it is among the most beautiful, and tranquil places I know. I was fortunate, once again to have a visit unspoiled by inclement weather. The weather gods dealt up another perfect morning! Photo ops and stops to simply “take it all in” ate up over an hour before I Ieft to continue northward. Jumping on Oregon Rte. 97, I proceeded, in turn through Bend, Redmond, and Madras. Somewhere North of Bend the character of the terrain and of the entire environment changes. Out of the dense pine forests where I have spent the past few days and into a more desert like, more barren region. Still, however, always in sight are the snow capped peaks to guide one. Mt. Hood, and the Three Sisters, now visible to the West as I have moved into the central part of Oregon. Late in the afternoon I reach the Columbia River Valley and the east end of the Columbia River Gorge. It lives up to its reputation by being both considerably hotter and a fierce wind is swirling. No so much fun for me (and all those people in campers), but good news for the windsurfing crowd, who are out in force! At the Columbia I turned eastward, once again on the interstate, now I-84, for the quick 100 mile blast to my overnight destination, Pendleton, OR. I plan to stick around here for the next day or so. As I mentioned yesterday, I have come to the Pendleton area, in particular a little town called Athena for the 10th edition of an event called Hodaka Days. For those of you unfamiliar, Hodakas were popular 2 stroke dirt and street bikes made in Japan and sold exclusively in the United States by a company called PABATCO (Pacific Basin Trading Company) whose headquarters was in Athena. I am kind of a fan and actually Lisa and I have a “project” Hodaka at home. I hope to have pictures and stories from this event tomorrow and maybe Saturday before I turn to the serious work of covering the 1700 miles between here and home. Hope you still enjoy the story and pics. Thanks for being here with me.

Many more pictures to see at http://jackb1.smugmug.com

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by RevZilla.com , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 35 - Lake Oswego, OR to Ashland, OR. Atlantic Coast to Pacific Coast!

Day 35 – Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Start: Lake Oswego, OR
End: Ashland, OR
Trip Miles Today: 372
Total Trip Miles: 8526

The early portion of today’s ride was just about getting places. An early departure was necessary to get myself 100 miles down the road to Eugene, Oregon early enough to be there when BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon opened their doors at 8:30am. My business at BMW Western Oregon was to get a new set of tires installed on my trusty old steed. This couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. With help and support from Service Manager Hugo, and Doug in the parts department, the tire change was completed in just over an hour an a half. Excellent folks. Easy to deal with, courteous, and very supportive of the traveling rider. I’d recommend these guys to anyone, so if you’re ever in the area…!

The quick work at the BMW dealer got me back on the road just after 10:00AM. This allowed me some time to play! First order of business was to head West on Oregon Rte. 126 toward the coastal town of Florence, some 50 miles distant. From Florence I proceeded South on the Oregon Coastal Highway (Rte 101) through the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area. My main business here was to shoot a couple of pictures on the Pacific Coast and document the completion of my trip “Coast-To-Coast”. That being completed I continued S on Rte 101 until arriving at Reedsport, where I again turned inland to follow Rte 38. Rte 38 follows the Umpqua River Valley and makes for quite the scenic ride as both the road and the river climb inland. After a subsequent turn southeast on to Rte. 138, some 60 miles later I was again back on I-5 heading South for my overnight stop in Ashland, OR.

Arriving at Ashland about 4pm, I checked in at my hotel before heading over to visit with my high school friend Anne Bellegia and her husband Terry Asnes. We had a very nice dinner and they treated me to a quick tour of Ashland. That about capped the day and I headed back to the hotel for some rest. Tomorrow is a big day. I plan on an early start with a side trip to Crater Lake National Park, one of my very favorite places on earth. Then it’s a northeasterly heading to see how far I can get in the direction of Pendleton, OR by tomorrow night. Why Pendleton? Because Pendleton is close to Athena, Oregon and Athena is the site of the annual “Hodaka Days” festival. Athena was the home of PABATCO, the company that brought Hodaka Motorcycles to the US in the sixties and seventies. As a dual-sport rider, I consider that Hodaka holds a special place in the history of the breed. Before there were Yamaha Enduros, long before there were GSs, there were Hodakas – arguably the precursor to every on road/off road bike that followed. More tomorrow about Hodakas and Hodaka Days! Lots more adventuring yet to come

There are plenty of pictures from my ride at http://jackb1.smugmug.com

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by RevZilla.com , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 34 Abbotsford, BC to Lake Oswego, OR. Back in the USA and cruising the Interstate!

Day 34 – Tuesday June 23, 2009
Start: Abbotsford, BC
End: Lake Oswego, Oregon
Trip Miles Today: 302
Total Trip Miles: 8154

Today was just kind a fun day. Got on the road about 8:00 under (again) perfect sunny skies. From the hotel there was a perfect view of snowcapped Mt. Baker to the Southeast. And this time it was even warm – like over 60 deg (f) when I departed! Less than 10 minutes later I was at the US border between Abbotsford, BC and Sumas, Washington. Surprisingly enough they let me back in without any further comment. If only they knew! After the border crossing there is about 25 miles of secondary roads and then one gets dumped onto Interstate 5, my home for virtually the rest of the day. It’s been since the end of May since I was on one of these concrete slabs. It’s also been since the end of May since I’ve driven in this sort of traffic density. Quite a shock after nearly a month in the untamed wilds. Next stop was Seattle. I love Seattle for many reasons, not the least of which is that Seattle is where I met my wife Lisa in 2001. Ahhh…fond memories. This time my destinations in Seattle were simple. I dropped by Ride West, the BMW Motorcycle Dealer there. Nice store, nice people. I didn’t really buy anything but was mightily tempted! Then I took off for the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, on the South side of the city. The Museum of Flight is a world class presentation of the history of manned flight from the Wright Brothers through current manned spaceflight. While it obviously brings a “Boeing” slant to things (the recreation of William Boeing’s first factory – the famous “red barn” is extraordinary) the museum is, in fact, very “non-denominational”, treating all the manufacturers and inventors fairly and equally. It is not a “Boeing” museum, it truly is a Museum of Flight. Worth every penny for the admission, the museum warrants 3-4 hours to do correctly. Unfortunately I only had about 90 minutes to spend. So, off I went further southward. The ride down I-5 presents you with a wonderful new, snow capped mountain to view off to the East every hour or so. First Mt. Baker near the Canadian border. Later, near Seattle, there is Mt. Rainier. Further south we can see Mt. St. Helens, of volcanic eruption fame. Finally, as we reach the Oregon Border near Portland, Mt. Hood comes into view. All were in clear sight today on a beautiful day as arranged by the local Chambers of Commerce, I suppose. Arriving near Portland I decided to drop in on another BMW dealer, this time BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon in Tigard. Got into a discussion about tires, and my tire situation, with one of the parts guys, Rick. One thing led to another and now I have an appointment with their sister store, in Eugene (1 hour further South) to get new tires installed in the morning if we can work out the cost & time to do the work details when I arrive. Decided on Metzler Tourances – a tire with a bit more off-road capability than the Bridgestone Battle Wings I have now. The Battle Wings are beginning to get a bit long in the tooth. I could probably stretch then out till I got home but these guys have what I need in stock so, In all likelihood they’ll get changed out tomorrow.
Tomorrow evening I’ll be visiting an old high school friend near Medford, down near the California state line. Thursday, Ill head out, this time to the Northeast to make my way to Pendleton, OR in the NE corner of the state. Why go there? How about I just hold that piece of information till tomorrow. Thanks for riding along!

You can see a much greater selection of pictures from my trip at http://jackb1.smugmug.com

Day 33 - Prince Grorge, BC to Abbotsford, BC. Cariboo Hwy. and Fraser River Canyon.

Day 33 – Monday, June 22, 2009
Start: Prince George, British Columbia
End: Abbotsford, British Columbia
Trip Miles Today: 437
Total Trip Miles: 7852

Up early again. No fire alarm, just want 2 get early start, as I had a long day planned. The Route today was, again, Rte 97 South, also known over this segment as the Cariboo Highway.

The first 250 miles of today’s trip was a pleasant enough, if unremarkable, tour through the lushly forested rolling hills of British Columbia. Forest Industries are a mainstay of the Province and the cities along the way, Quesnel, Williams Lake and others are dominated by the sawmills, wood pellet plants, and plywood manufacturing facilities that shape the economy of the area. Sadly, with the current economic downturn, especially the drop in new housing starts, demand is well off for building products so these communities are hurting along with much of the rest of North America. This industry is also being pressured by another issue that is not in any way related to the economy and is likely a larger threat. Beetles. In particular is the Mountain Pine Beetle which is responsible for the destruction of tens of thousands of acres of mature pine forests in this area. Dead mature trees can be seen almost everywhere, sometimes entire mountainsides of dead trees! Naturalists are working actively with forest industry teams to help combat this threat to the livelihood of the entire central portion of BC.

Over much of it’s length the Cariboo Highway follows the Fraser River Valley. At the northern end the river valley is spacious and wide. However, south of Grand Cache the valley becomes narrower, it becomes surrounded by higher mountains, and the river proceeds downhill more steeply through the Fraser River Canyon. The Fraser River and the Canyon were named for Simon Fraser, the first white man to descend the river in 1808. The Cariboo Highway through the Fraser River Canyon is a spectacular trip with fantastic scenery at every turn, and the ride lasts some 50 miles! Riding the Fraser River Canyon was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Great twisties and spectacular vistas at every turn. I only wish there were more turnouts to provide photo ops. When I came through today it was also terribly windy and gusty. It made me wish, for the first time on this trip, that I was on a larger, heavier bike (R12GS ??). It also made me wonder, at times, if the standard 12 ft. wide highway lane is really wide enough. Nuf said about that!

Made 437 miles today, stopped for a lot of pictures and still found my way to a hotel in Abbotsford, BC by 5:30. Will overnight here then jump across the border into the US early tomorrow. Tomorrow’s goal is to be south of Portland by the end of the day, and to integrate a stop at the BMW dealer in Seattle (mostly to just check it out – don’t really need anything ‘cept possibly tires but I’m pretty sure he won’t be able to accommodate me unannounced. The tire deal will happen a few more days down the road, if at all. Still looking at possibilities. Wednesday I’ll make my way to the Medford, Oregon area to visit a friend from high school. Then some interesting plans for the weekend that I’ll tell you about tomorrow.

For more pictures from the entire trip go to http://jackb1.smugmug.com

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by RevZilla.com , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 32 - Fort. St. John, BC to Prince George, BC. Back into the Canadian Rockies, if only for a time!

Day 32 – Sunday, June 21, 2009
Start: Fort St. John, British Columbia
End: Prince George, British Columbia
Trip Miles Today: 293
Total Trip Miles: 7415

It was quite easy to get up early today as the fire alarm in the hotel went off about 5:30. Nice! It was, of course, a false alarm but it’s pretty hard to go back to sleep after listening to that screeching for 5 minutes. Nonetheless this was the start of my day and, it turns out, the only untoward part. I guess the odd numbered days must be the good ones because today was certainly good. Maybe even great!

At departure time it was already in the mid 50s and sunny so the weather part was handled, again! I almost actually felt a bit guilty about how good I’ve had it weatherwise after talking to two guys on BMWs from Nebraska in the hotel parking lot this morning. They basically said that they they had been in rain every day since they left Omaha. Whew, that’s tough. Anyway I’ll all the good weather days I can get and this was a really good one all day long!

The early morning route down to Dawson Creek was a little more of the same uninspiring prairie route that ended the day yesterday. This being the case I did take the opportunity, about 20 miles out of Dawson Creek, to jump off the main route and enjoy a short stretch of the old, original Alaska Highway. The 6 mile side trip also includes the chance to drive across the historic curved wooden Kiskatinaw River Bridge. This 531 ft long structure is the only original timber bridge, built in 1942, that is still in use today. A very interesting structure and there was the added bonus that nobody else was on the road, if even for that short distance.

Shortly after the Kiskatinaw Bridge I arrived in Dawson Creek for two items of business. One, to gas up, and two, to take the requisite photo at the Mile “0” marker and document having completed the round trip from Mile “0” to Alaska and return. Got my ticket punched for a round trip!

Then it was off for the 240 mile jaunt to Prince George. While this portion starts out with a bit more of the straight featureless stuff, two interesting things happened almost immediately. First the Mountains came into view to the Southwest. This instantly put me in a better frame of mind for the trip. Secondly I spied a momma moose and calf off the right side of the road. As momma mooses have been known to do, she ran right into the roadway and directly across the bow of the car that I was following. Based on his actions, I’m pretty sure that driver hadn’t seen her and was , shall we say, a bit surprised! Fortunately, no crash ensued. During all this commotion, baby moose elected to stay on the right side of the road and positioned perfectly so that I could cruise up , stop, get out the camera, and squeeze off a few shots. Which I did. While I was stopped it dawned on me that I was between a mother moose and her calf which is probably not a good place to be, so I buttoned up and went on my way. Never saw mom again and the baby just disappeared in my mirrors.

A short time later the road delivered me to the medium sized town of Chetwynd, the “Chainsaw Carving Capital of the World.” I wa sdisappointed to find that I had missed a huge Chainsaw Carving Contest just one week ago! It turns out that chainsaw carving isn’t just an art form, it’s a competitive sport! Who knew?

The best part fo the trip came following Chetwynd as the highway follows the Pine River Valley and makes it’s way higher and higher to eventually arrive at the Pine Pass through the mountains. There is unspoiled scenic wonder to behold around every corner and my pictures don’t do any of it justice. Near the top of the pass is Azouzetta Lake (shown in pic above), a setting that, in my mind, rivals Crater Lake for natural beauty.

Coming down the other side of the pass, the highway follows Misinchinka River Valley, then passes scenic McLeod Lake and follows the Crooked River most of the way to the lumber Industry Town of Prince George. There are great Provincial Parks and wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities throughout this area.

Looking for a bigger day tomorrow – ideally it will be solidly over 400 miles and leave me within shouting distance of the US border. The Canadian portion of my trip is quickly drawing to a close. I’m gonna try to get up early but hope to do so without the aid of a fire alarm ringing in my ears. Weather looks promising. Off we go. One last full day in Canada!

It’s great to have people looking in on this story!

There are many more pictures from the entire trip at http://jackb1.smugmug.com

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by RevZilla.com , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 30 - Ft. Nelson, BC to Ft St John, BC. Rain and tedium. Just a boring day!

Day 31 – Saturday, June 20, 2009
Start: Fort Nelson, British Columbia
End: Fort St. John, British Columbia
Trip Miles Today: 255
Total Trip Miles: 7123

As much as yesterday was just about a perfect day, today was about as non-descript as they get. A paltry 255 miles through the “Land of the Interminably Boring Straight Roads.” Ok so there were a few sweeping curves now and then but, as can somewhat be seen in the map shown, I’m back in the prairie. There is very little creative to be said about today. It started out with drizzle that turned into a full-on rainstorm for just over an hour through the middle part of the ride. Fortunately the rain presented no real problem as the roadway is well drained, traffic was light and I had appropriate rain gear. That being said, I did re-prove the well known (to motorcyclists) scientific fact that rainwater is inexorably drawn to the human crotch - regardless of what rain gear you might wear. I take no credit for this discovery. This fact was discovered long ago, and previously documented by the journalist Peter Egan (among others.) Today there was no scenery to speak of and wildlife pickins were slim. No moose (though there were signs indicating the presence of same), no bears, only a solitary whitetail deer, and the odd ground squirrel. Nor did I see a sasquatch, despite the presence of warning signs for them (him?) too. All in all just a day that I needed to get through in order to position myself for the next leg.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. First I’ll cover the 47 miles to Dawson Creek and arrive back at Mile “0” of the Alaska Highway. This will complete my Alaska Highway round trip: Mile “0” to Alaska and return to Mile “0”. After Dawson Creek I’ll get on a new (for me) route and head basically South and West. I'll head back into the Northern Rocky Mountains on my way to Prince George, BC. via the John Hart Highway, Canada Route 97. I am confident that this will be WAY more interesting than today! Two days later, on Tuesday, I plan to be in Portland, Oregon. In those two days I’ve got to cover over 700 miles but there are a couple of routes to pick from so I anticipate working that out in the next 24 hours.

Tonight is the eve of my Birthday and I am celebrating by having microwaved popcorn in my hotel room while doing laundry. Is life good or what?

Thanks for being along with me on this portion of the trip. Hopefully more stories and pics tomorrow.


There are many more pictures from my ride at http://jackb1.smugmug.com !

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by RevZilla.com , Philly's Premier Destination Motorcycle Gear and Apparel store and by Hermy's Cycles of Port Clinton, PA.