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Old 07-28-2010, 03:15 PM   #1
frenchy750
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Alaskan Adventure

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.



Alaskan Map-kin

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.
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Old 07-28-2010, 11:26 PM   #2
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Re: Alaskan Adventure

The morning dawned cold and clear, with nary a rain cloud in the sky. How odd for the rider of Rain Cloud Follows not to have been chased down by my cloud groupies. I'm sure the further north we go, those damn clouds will catch up to our group.

I wake up happy, because not only are there no rain clouds to contend with, but, as far as I know at this point, the worst of the long journey is already behind us. The slog up the I-5 is over, and as a bonus, there is a nearby territory that I am ready to claim for the ever-expanding Kingdom of Rhode Island.





Yes. I know. Whiskeytown is not technically an island, but then again, Rhode Island technically isn't either. When I am done this Global Not-Technically-An-Island Expansion, I will have difficulty deciding if I should have my palace built in Whiskeytown, or its nearby neighbor:



Dark Meat Snack decides this is the perfect day to try out a new contraption, his twelve dollar Taiwanese Cambelback knockoff.



Umm, I don't even know what to say, but trust me, it gets even more ridiculous, especially when Dark Meat tries to drink with his helmet on.



Copious amounts of laughter ensue as Goofy McGooferson continues to try and figure out how to interface his twelve dollar farkle with his much more expensive helmet.



I will say this much for Dark Meat. He's a stubborn little bastard, and after a few hours, he finally managed to take a quick drink out of his new toy.



I recommend improving the system by filling the bladder with Macallan.





The curves undulate and swerve, twisting, arcing, winding and bending in a dazzling sequence of seemingly endless deviations from yesterday's straight line boredom. By nine in the morning, this day is already the Best Day Ever, and the scenery and splendor of the Pacific Coast Highway promises to elevate the mood even higher.



Oregon welcomes us in that peculiar way that only Oregon can.



The gas stations in Oregon are staffed by helpful attendants that are all too happy to scurry over to your motorcycle, offering helpful advice such as how to swipe your credit card and where to put the nozzle. Some of these helpful buggers will even pantomime the entire 'Filling And Paying' routine, just in case you are a bit slow on the uptake. I have no idea how people in the other forty-nine states manage without such helpful advice.





After marveling at the beautiful Oregon coastline for a few miles, Dark Meat signals me and says, “I’m tired of the ****ing ocean.” Peering at the map, I find Oregon Route 33; the smallest gray line from the coast back to the highway. Route 33 turns out to be the most challenging road I’ve ever ridden. The entire route consisted of a tight single lane road, complete with speeding oncoming trucks, deer, gravel, rock slides, more deer, and sheer drop-offs with no guardrail; all requiring 100% concentration and focus. This accidental detour is best characterized as a triple black diamond Class A bitch of a road.
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Old 07-28-2010, 11:26 PM   #3
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Re: Alaskan Adventure







This road makes the Tail of the Dragon look like a puny lizard. By the time we reach the highway at the other end I am completely soaked in sweat, sore, tired and supremely happy. I don't even mind that this detour means more highway time to keep on schedule, the 'Highway Penalty' was absolutely worth the trip.

Even the next day, while serving the Highway Penalty sentence, I am happy, although a bit freaked out by a completely random occurrence. The day before, while cruising up the Pacific Coast Highway, we passed a hitch-hiker. I waved and shrugged at my empty back seat. He smiled a knowing smile and offered a half wave. I didn't think anything more of it until the next day when I see THE EXACT SAME GUY at the highway on ramp trying to hitch a ride . He offers me the same knowing smile and half wave. I'm too stunned to return the gesture.



We stop at a motorcycle shop to get some supplies. Dark Meat replaces his well scratched face shield, and I pick up and install what I consider to be a perfect addition to Rain Cloud Follows.



Finally we can take the highway no more, and duck back onto another excellent road leading to the coast. More twists and turns greet us, along with this embarrassing abomination:



Speechless.

We end our day in Olympia, Washington. I'm lured to a comfy looking place to sleep not only by its colorful sign, but also the offer of 'Free TV.'



The next morning is spent taking the longest route possible to the airport. Sadly, we park and bag our bikes at the nicer, much more upscale hotel that Fiona will be meeting us at after our tripus-interruptus WWE work hiatus ends four days hence.





The Entire 1537 Mile Preamble Route
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Old 07-30-2010, 04:52 PM   #4
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Re: Alaskan Adventure

MORE PLEASE...my brain is still not full and my laugh bladder in need of mass tickling.

Frenchy, I your posts!!
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Old 07-30-2010, 08:07 PM   #5
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Re: Alaskan Adventure

More please
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Old 07-30-2010, 08:45 PM   #6
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Re: Alaskan Adventure

Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchy750 View Post
... After marveling at the beautiful Oregon coastline for a few miles, Dark Meat signals me and says, “I’m tired of the ****ing ocean.” Peering at the map, I find Oregon Route 33; the smallest gray line from the coast back to the highway. Route 33 turns out to be the most challenging road I’ve ever ridden. The entire route consisted of a tight single lane road, complete with speeding oncoming trucks, deer, gravel, rock slides, more deer, and sheer drop-offs with no guardrail; all requiring 100% concentration and focus. This accidental detour is best characterized as a triple black diamond Class A bitch of a road.
We have roads like that one to compensate for the silly gas-station rules.

It's also one of the gnarlier ways to get from the coast to I-5. If you've got the time, try OR34 on the way home, as it's on the other end of the riding spectrum.


More pics, please?...
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Old 07-31-2010, 08:23 AM   #7
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Re: Alaskan Adventure

What they all said.
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Old 07-31-2010, 03:01 PM   #8
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Re: Alaskan Adventure

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Old 07-31-2010, 03:02 PM   #9
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Re: Alaskan Adventure

I hate ride interruptus. Good report on delay.
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:57 AM   #10
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Alaskan Adventure - Vancouver Rhode Island



And so, the preamble to this adventure came to a close. Sadly, our faithful machines were bagged tagged and chained together in a scary parking lot, awaiting our eventual return.

After removing my shoes in the name of safety at the soulless airport, I climb into the belly of the whale once again; insert the metal buckle into the fastener low and tight across my hips once again, and, what took three excellent days to achieve is undone in less than two hours. Our flight lands at LAX, where a four hour delay due to typically broken airplane equipment has us both on the verge of screaming, if only to be arrested and at least removed from the soulless airport. Air travel couldn't be worse, more degrading, uncomfortable, ridiculous or horrible. I calculate time passage by the inane repeating announcement that begins, "the transportation security administration has decreed..." There are six announcements to the hour. We hear twenty-four before mercifully placed on a patched together aircraft and are finally transported to work.



Work is the usual blur of hotel, arena, bus, hotel. San Antonio became Corpus Christi became Laredo became San Antonio again. Sleep became a precious commodity. So did patience. TV shows blur by in that fast-slow manner that only television productions can. Four days hence, our pound of flesh is exacted, and we were released to relive the horrors of air travel once again.



It's Not ALL Bad

Sleeping Beauty arrives safely in Seattle the night before Dark Meat and me. My beautiful girlfriend texts me the hotel I'd booked for her is ‘like heaven.’ I text her back to ‘not get too used to it.’



Happily reunited, and happily finished with air travel for the foreseeable future, our merry band of adventurers is finally mounted up and finally on the Road to Alaska.



Captain Bill - The Best!



After lunch with an old friend in Port Angeles, we board the ferry for Vancouver Island. Ninety pleasant minutes later, we’re transported across the ocean and to another world.





Canadian Customs and Immigration is strange. The agents are polite, yet firm. During ferry deboating, Abi and I get separated. The last time I cleared Customs with Fiona, we were waved out of line and sent into the office,which is the Customs and Immigration version of the penalty box. The reason we were pulled in? Fiona had never been to Canada before. The Customs agent deemed her Canadian-virgin status highly suspicious, and every manner of background check was run on poor Sleeping Beauty. Forty-five boring minutes later, she was de-virginized, and allowed into the beautiful land of Kanuckistan.



The Customs agent that greets us is bored. He asks us a few perfunctory questions, barely glances at our passports, then dismisses us with a half-wave. I’m confused; do we have to go to the penalty box? I decide if that’s what his half-wave meant, he’ll let us know, but until then, I am getting the hell out of Customs! We pull out to the main street of Victoria to wait for Abi.

And we wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Forty-five minutes pass. Sleeping Beauty gets curious and walks over to see what the holdup is. She spies Abi, arms folded, standing far away from his motorcycle as two customs agents tear through every single item in his possession. Bags are ripped open, dirty clothes and junk are spread about, both agents intent on finding something suspicious.

This, unfortunately, is the downside to traveling with a terrorist lookalike.



An hour and a half later, he’s released and finally rolls up to us, shaking his head.



“What happened?"

“When I gave them my passport, the agent asked for a second form of identification from me. She took it, went into the office, and came back about two minutes later, looking pissed. She told me they ran a customary test on my license and detected traces of cocaine! They made me pull over, and opened everything up. I even had to take the ****ing seat off my bike!”

Wait a minute. Cocaine? Jeez, you think you know a person and all the while, right under your nose, they’re a crackhead! Unbelievable the things you learn on a long motorcycle trip!

Actually, I have to say that I’ve known Dark Meat Snack for half my life, and honestly, the kid can barely finish a beer. And besides that, from what I know of it, cocaine is expensive, and Abi is definitely a… spendthrift. There is no way there were traces of cocaine on his license, unless the TSA agent that checked it in San Antonio was also a junkie.

After that rude introduction to Vancouver Island, we drown our sorrows at a great little Irish Pub. Pretty soon, pints of Guinness work their magic; we’re all laughing over the incident, and trying to figure out where Dark Meat hid his drugs. I guess the stash is in his little red gas can. He tells me I don’t want to know where they are hidden.

The next morning we are just about loaded up when a hotel worker approaches. After the usual round of, ‘Gosh! Did you ride those things all the way here?’ ends, he recommends we go see a stand of gigantic trees that are, in his words, “mighty impressive!” Tracing the route to the trees on my map he exclaims, “They’re huge! Twenty people can join hands around them! These trees have been there since Jesus planted them!”



Circling the Jesus trees on the map, I thank the man, and we aim our bikes in that direction.
The ride from Victoria to Port Hardy happens in two parts. The first part is great – that is, if you enjoy row after row of used RV lots, Wal-marts and strip malls. I flip my iPod over to the ‘Angry White Man Music’ playlist and muddle through the suburbs as quickly as possible. The Jesus trees are impressive, and a worthwhile detour.



The second part of the ride sucks, unless you enjoy winding open roads, little to no traffic, zero police supervision, spectacular mountain vistas and occasional curious wildlife. Thanks to the decided lack of Mounties on the northern half of Vancouver Island, we make up plenty of time on the way to Port Hardy.

Finally, I find the well hidden ‘Welcome to…’ sign, and happily claim Vancouver Island for the Kingdom of Rhode Island. Welcome to Vancouver Rhode Island!



As we wind our way to the end of the road, there are huge swaths of mountain that have been clear cut of all trees. I think to myself these mountains look like freshly shorn sheep, and while it might be a shame the trees are gone, there are signs explaining their replanting efforts, and besides all that, someday I want to own a log cabin.

While I think these inane thoughts, a newly appointed resident of the Kingdom of Vancouver Rhode Island pokes his head up to say hello.



Frenchy the Bear
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