The Preamble - Skedaddle to Seattle
By my standards, the plan is pretty simple.
1) Get on bike.
2) Ride North.
3) Turn around in Alaska.
4) Ride South.
My most recent Map-kin perfectly illustrates the beautiful simplicity of this plan. My eyeballs have grown tired of looking at the same things all the time, so I came up with this little route to put some new things in front of them. Granted this Map-kin required a few extra sheets of two-ply Bounty cartography material, but there is a reason for that. Alaska, as I learned while making the map, is pretty far away. This route will also necessitate a return to Canada, a strange land rumored to be so polite that the natives routinely say Thank You to ATM machines.
My first experience with Canada was around the time I was a nineteen year old tadpole, in my friend Troy's basement. Troy had somehow acquired a bottle of Canadian Mist whiskey, and, over the course of an extremely long and increasingly fuzzy evening, things went from bad to worse to really really bad. Like your first girlfriend that really breaks your heart, you never forget the name of the first bottle of poison that nearly kills you. Canadian Mist. Still makes me shudder. I remember at the time thinking to myself, "Hmm, the nose on this whiskey is a mixture of stale oranges and rubbing alcohol, with a finish of burnt tire! Wow, this is not a pleasant experience at all! Canada is not to be trusted!" I woke up two days later.
My experiences with both whiskey and Canada have improved markedly since that first initial sting.
Over a few such tasty adult beverages one fine evening, I mentioned the plan to my long time riding partner Dark Meat Snack. To my surprise, he agreed to the entire sixteen day route. Abi usually needs to be gently prodded, poked, then physically threatened before agreeing to one of my lame-brained riding ideas. But this time, he had a legitimate reason to turn me down.He was tired, but for a good reason. During the previous two weeks, Abi had been in his homeland of Trinidad, becoming a married man.
Aladin and Mrs. Aladin
Packing for this trip is the usual game of hide and seek; looking for a missing boot, searching for the spare keys, dragging long-lost musty and dirty riding gear out of storage, and loading thirty pounds of shit in to a five pound bag. When I finish packing, it looks like I'm ready to go on an Arctic Expedition, which, knowing my penchant for getting 'un-found', may just happen. I also made sure to pack one of the most important ingredients of all to a successful overland adventure - a liter of beautiful fiery amber Scottish spirits for toasting what surely will be a string of Best Day Evers.
Even the simplest of my plans have a tendency of getting complicated awfully quickly. In order to keep ourselves employed, which will keep these riding trips funded, Dark Meat and I will have to take this trip in two stages. The first stage is more like a preamble, a three day jaunt up to Seattle. Once there, we will park the bikes for a few days and fly to Texas to work three days of World Wrestling Entertainment shows. Sleeping Beauty, my ever patient and understanding girlfriend, will be joining us in Seattle for the second stage of the trip, a sixteen day blast as far north as we can get before we have to turn around and head home.
The following morning at o'dark o'clock, Dark Meat and I load up and, with no real objective in mind other than to reach Seattle in three days, being sure to arrive in time to catch that all important flight to get us to work. Plan free, we head out on the long and boring highway. A few hours later at breakfast in Gorman, we take our first peak at a real map, and make our first real route decision of the trip. In order to have at least one really fun riding days on this preamble, we decide to slog up the interstate for the majority of the first day. The map's promise of fun looking little gray squiggles further ahead is the only thing that keeps me going. The highway is boring, but at least it is long and hot.
Our first fuel stop turned into a half hour biker bullshit-fest, as three different guys came up to ask where we were heading. There is something decidedly delicious about casually replying, "Alaska." Every time I said it, I couldn't help but crack a smile. Alaska, baby!
Rolling up the straight ribbon of asphalt known in my adopted home state as 'The I-5' we make an unscheduled stop in Abi's homeland of Trinidad, where he gives me a tour of his old stomping grounds.
First he showed me where his bride picked him out.
Then we toured Trinidad's many civil service buildings. First, the fire station.
Next door, the honest-to-God Trinidad, CA police station.
The center for the Arts.
All this walking and tour-giving made Dark Meat Snack tired. He told me to wait for him while he went to relax a bit.
After getting a hot stone massage, cucumber wrap and pedicure, Dark Meat and I took one last stroll down Main Street, noticing a pair of sexy black KTM dual sport motorcycles. An in the What-A-Small-World department, the bikes (and riders) were from none other than Alaska. Noticing the small gas can strapped to one of the bikes, Abi asked the man, a dead ringer for Kenny Loggins, if we'd need one too. He replied, "Oh, I don't know. Maybe? Sometimes up that way gas stations run out of gas." Then Mr. Loggins added, "You know what? Take this one. We're done with it anyway."
It got so hot on the highway that I felt the waterworks kick in as my auxiliary armpit pumps went into overdrive. Water poured down my sleeve as the thermometer continued to rise.
120 Degrees? Where are we, Death Valley?
At the final gas stop of the day, my turkey thermometer had finally popped. Overwhelmed by the heat, I had to endure one of those questions from an air conditioned queen; a question that usually makes me chuckle. The question? "How do you guys stand wearing all that hot motorcycling gear in this heat?" How do you make someone like this understand the sublime pleasure of peeling all that hot, smelly gear off at the end of the day? I contemplated an answer, while Dark Meat, in a dark, much less diplomatic mood, replied, "Why don't you just get back in your air conditioned car and drive to Six Flags?"
Six-hundred eleven miles later, thankfully turned off the mind numbingly hot and dull I-5, heading towards better, funner roads, my smile grew wider. We holed up for the night in the first of what will probably be many lower-priced hotels, toasted the Best Day Ever, reflected on all that had happened on Day One of this Preamble ride, and, supremely happy and satisfied, fell almost immediately unconscious, with visions of better roads and even better days dancing in my head.