About Larry

I live in Bandon on the southern Oregon coast and I've been riding for a long, long time, years, decades. We won't go there kiddies but believe me, it's been awhile. During that time I've done most of my riding on the road with occasional off-road forays, most of which were intentional. Some weren't. Until just a couple of years ago I'd never ridden a hack - that's sidecar to those who aren't familiar with the lingo. I figure riding a hack up Alaska's infamous Haul road all the way to Deadhorse should top off my torture tank for quite awhile.

About Mac

Mac hails from Robins, Iowa and has been riding bikes longer than most people have been around. He managed to torture his old BMW past the 100,000 mile mark and presently rides a Yamaha FJR. His newest ride, a 2008 Ural Patrol is waiting on the dealer's highest shelf until the flood waters recede after which they'll assemble it and turn it over to him. The fact that he's heading to Alaska for his first journey on a new rig should tell you all you need to know about him...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Aug 11 - Epiblog 2 - Mac is alive & well but Olga's not a happy Ural

Mac's finally arrived home in Iowa but only after several days of mishaps. Here are his emails and pics * of the final days.

Aug 9 - 10 - I left Columbia Falls at about 2 pm their time and had the bike delivered to the dealer in Spring Valley , Minn. and was home about 8 pm on the 10th. A trip of about 1550 miles and drove straight thru in 28 hours. Just wanted to get home.

It looks like I will be getting a new engine in my bike, all covered under warrenty.

In times of trouble there are a lot of very nice caring people out there and I met some of them. If they are reading this, Thank you very very much.

* This is my bikes last trailer ride.

Aug 9 - Headed out to Bob's and got about 10 miles when all hell broke loose and my engine froze up. I now knew what the noise was that I was hearing. Now what to do., it did make me feel a little better about hauling the bike out of Canada as it would have failed in another 10 miles there too.

Along came two wonderful people, Joe and Paula Forrest . They ride bikes and had a trailer. They went home and got it and Joe loaded it on and tied it down with my help. They had called and had a U-Haul saved for me at Columbia Falls.

* This is Joe Forrest getting my bike tied down. I do not know what I would have done with out them. Finer people you will not find. They would not take a cent for their trouble. Joe also used his straps to tie my bike in the U-Haul. I will be sending them back to him.

Aug 8 - Bob called the first thing and asked me to check the kill switch. The thought of the kill switch being turned off never entered my mind as the engine would turn over, the lights worked, etc. Much to my chagrin, the switch was turned off, I turned it on and the bike started right away. I no longer have an ego , it is laying in ashes. All bikes I know about , when the kill switch if turned off, all systems are dead. Not the Russians however, they do things differently.

I washed the bike and planned to take it to Bob's the following day to find out what the noise was that I was hearing and also to get a new rear tire.

After I got thru beating myself up, I slept well that night.

Aug 7 - Darryl's brother , Doug, to me and my bike to the US border and then on to the town of Eureka where I got a motel room.

I contacted the Ural dealer in Montana, Bob's Motorwerks at Roberts Montana. Bob was a great person to work with. We had several calls during the evening as I was trying to explain the noise I was hearing before the bike went dead. He had me checking some things but nothing worked.

Aug 6 - Today started out fine, I felt great and figured I would make the US border today. A distance of over 600 miles. I felt up for it after a good nights sleep. But little did I know what the day would bring. About 50 miles north of Radium hot springs my troubles began. I began to hear some scraping noises coming from the engine. I pulled over to see what I could find out. After checking the bike over I tried to start it and no go. No spark. I pulled a plug to see if I could see any spark and there was none.

Two women with kids stopped by and they said they would try to find someone to come out with a truck to pick me up. They said that if the driver needed a credit card no. they would give him theirs. What great people, I wish I had gotten their names.
After they had left, another person stopped by and also checked my bike out and then told me if the girls could not help me to give him a call on his cell phone and He had a buddy in Calgary that would come and get me. He, Paul Zedic, told me that they would not leave me stranded out there. He was talking about a distance of about 150 miles . As it turned out I didn't have to call him but it gave me a good feeling that I had help if I really needed it.

After getting me loaded we headed for Radium hot springs. Darryl, my Indian driver then loaded my up in his personal pickup and found me a motel for the evening. A really great person who did not want a tip but I talked him into it.
* Mt. Robson. quite a sight to see in front of you
* A picture of the ice fields south of Jasper
* I felt a little safer with a fence between us
* A picture of me patiently awaiting the truck
* Getting me loaded
* Darryl getting my bike tied down
* A nice little motel for the evening

Aug 5 - Today I rode from Ft Nelson to Prince George. A little over 500 miles and I was really tired at the end of the day
* The scenery made up for the long ride

Aug 4 - A little over 300 miles today, all told a very nice day
* More critters to ride around
* One of my favorite lakes, Muncho Lake
* Some of the obstacles on todays ride
* Our last campsite at Watson Lake. Larry and I said our goodbys and I rode to Ft. Nelson and got a motel room.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

August 9th - Epilog (Epiblog?) Where the heck is Mac?

I checked my email this morning and opened one from Joe dated 2 days ago and it goes like this:

"Boy, nice guy you are......Mac broke down in the middle of no where. Lost electrical power to the engine. Bottom line.......no spark. Had to get a truck and was hauled back to Eureka MT which is just across the border in MT. Don't have all the details but he has a truck rented to take him and the bike some where close to have it worked on. . Part will be flow in ASAP from Washington. Not sure how long he is going to be there......... Long story so he can fill you in when he gets home. Will keep you informed as the story unfolds........... Might just have to head that way myself...Think he was having a beer so its not all bad..........joe"

I'll post the news as soon as I have any, in the mean time there's hope as long as there's beer. The photo's of my good luck mascot which I found abandoned somewhere along the Whistler route. Mac was disgusted by the whole notion but hey, I made it home eh?

August 8th - The longest day, 500 miles but home again

This day, my last, was to be the longest ride yet all the while with crossed fingers. The Aprilia has been complaining constantly, making very loud metallic noises accompanied by irregular lurches. The chain and both sprockets are worn badly and the upper idler roller is completely missing. Not good.

I broke camp early, said good bye to the kitty and joined the happy-off-to-work folks on I-5 south. Somewhere around Renton a McDonald's was calling my name plus Mr Fuel Gage began blinking so I stopped for my 2nd breakfast and tested my bulging credit card again. Both worked, I left a couple of pounds heavier and the bike ran smoothly. Making good time down the interstate it occurred to me I just might make it home today, in fact I might even make it to the family reunion east of Roseburg where Linda was staying. Then I recalled she had a full RV of giggly girls and two dogs so I'd likely end up doing the tent thing again. That tipped the scales and I popped off the freeway at Olympia and headed west for the longer coastal way home. This was a whole lot nicer riding than sustained freeway speeds of 65 mph and I wasn't in a hurry.

Along about the time I hit Elma, WA, the racket and jerking coming from the chain became too intense to ignore so I found the local auto parts place and bought a scissor jack and adjusted the chain. While there I got to talk to a couple of guys who do the local motocross thing, seems like bikers are always ready to talk wherever you go. The fact that my rig has an extra wheel didn't seem to matter to them, it only made it more interesting.

Continuing south I crossed that long bridge leading to Astoria and noticed the chain clatter had begun again in earnest, so I stopped to readjust it one more time. This was beginning to worry me but I really didn't have much of a choice other than to move on. My next chain adjustment was in the Tillamook Fred Meyer parking lot -I love those big chunks of asphalt! It was then that I found there was no more adjustment left and that whatever had been there was all used up. Leaving town on highway 101 I rode less than a mile when I realized to continue was to invite spending the night parked along the roadside, the noise was much louder after my last expert adjustment and I decided it would be best to head back to Tillamook and look for a mechanic. This, on a late Friday afternoon - 5:30pm - but I gave it a go. Knowing that in small towns everyone knows everyone I stopped at the first gas station and asked. The guy hanging out inside told me about a guy named Dan who ran a bicycle-motorcycle-TV-appliance-video rental shop "Just down the road a piece, ya can't miss it as long as you head straight at the intersection and don't go right or left." Damned if he wasn't telling the truth, I found the place and waited patiently while Dan the owner finished chatting it up with one of the locals. He must have figured I wasn't from around there and asked another guy to see if he could "answer my questions" Yep, I had questions alright. Turns out guy #2 is his main bike mechanic just heading for home, but he took a quick look at the beast and confirmed what I already knew with one exception - I'd over adjusted the chain and now it was running too tight. Dang it anyway, how dumb can I be? (We'll ignore the diesel fuel episode) With that said I whined around again so he agreed to open up the shop and do the adjustment himself, this time getting everything lined up correctly. Unlike the Indian guy in Vanderhoof, these folks work cheap but not for nothing so I was happy to drop $15 in their kitty. The mechanic told me not to worry, it would make it home without busting but I'd have to fix all that stuff very soon. Like tomorrow probably.

On my way again only with reduced noises coming from the chain I set out south towards Hebo, center of the known world... It was there that two things happened, almost simultaneously, it began to rain and it got dark. Neither one bother me but given the state of the bike's health I wasn't looking forward to dealing with it. I donned my funny red Santa raincoat and 3-fingered Spock gloves and went back at it. This was not ideal or fun riding, it was just sit-up-and-pay-attention and try not to get hit by a truck or run into a deer. It was so miserable and hard to see I shut the GPS off to reduce light glare. At this point I noticed the headlights were undulating in brightness as were the dash lights, an indicator of low battery power. Time to shut off the electric vest and hand grip warmers. That helped, the lights went back to normal and I was more than warm in the red Santa vinyl sweat suit.

Eventually I made it into Newport where I gassed up and hit the next door Burger King. The gas station attendant made the comment "I hope you don't have far to ride Buddy, this rain and fog is real nasty all along the coast." I told him that manly men like myself were conditioned to ride in crappola weather and not to worry. It was 8:00pm when I left the warmth of the Burger King.

Things didn't change a whole lot after that, I rode slow and moved over whenever cars came up behind me and that was about it. I made one last stop for gas in Reedsport where I entertained the guy in the booth by circling around all the pumps looking for one that didn't say Full Service. Turned out all of them said that and I explained to Mr Non-Smiling Attendant I didn't want to pay to have my windshield cleaned. Ha ha. Yuk yuk. Not funny dude, here, and he handed me the nozzle. I filled up, handed it back, he grimaced (no thank you from him) and walked off. For a brief moment I was annoyed but then I felt sorry for him having to pump gas for a living. What the hell, it's his problem not mine, so off to Bandon I rode. Yippee, got home at 11:23 pm with 8,250 miles logged on the old hack and tons of great memories of riding Alaska's infamous Dalton highway. Plus the Top of the World highway. Plus the Winter Harbour haul road. Dang! What's next?

August 7th - Back in the USA!

Lillooett was already baking as I left town early this morning. I had a brief continental breakfast at the Gold Panner Hotel, said goodbye to Jay and his wife and headed up the canyon on highway 99. The road is rough but the scenery is beautiful so I rode slow, stopping often for a last view of this mountainous area. A doe was standing so close to the road at one point I could have touched her nose when I rode by - at a very slow speed of course. Everything went pretty smooth until I reached the area south of Pemberton and there the road construction began in earnest. This lasted nearly all the way to Horseshoe Bay and was particularly bad in the area around Whistler. Like most things though, it eventually ended and I rode on to the border crossing at Blaine, WA where the waiting lines in both directions seemed unending. This seemed odd considering how short they were when Mac and I crossed over just a few weeks ago. When I finally got to the booth the girl asked the usual questions, checked my passport & bike license and sent me through.

The weather continued to be scorching hot so I watched for a campground sign as I rode down
I-5 towards Seattle. Just below Bellingham I saw a kid pushing his HD chopper so I pulled over to see what's up. His tank was bone dry he said so I donated a gallon or so to the cause. What a kid, he was sporting more facial hardware and tattoos than I've seen in quite awhile. All of that aside, he was grateful for the benzino and when his bike started I headed south again. My payback for being snotty to the old HD geezer in Dease Lake a few days ago. Mr. Nice Guy...

Spotting the sign for Wenberg State Park located 20 or so miles north of Seattle I chose it for my final night's camp out. The basic tent sites run $19.00 - sorry, no change for a twenty so I donated the extra buck to who knows who and settled in for the night. Next morning I awoke to the loudest snorer on the planet, honest to God I've never heard anyone pump air like that guy and eventually I heard his wife jab him (or whatever). He let out a bellow and a few snorts, then went back at it again. Clean living?

While eating breakfast I was visited by one of the local camp kitties begging for food. From the looks of her she wasn't missing very many but I'm a sucker for beggar cats so I fabbed a bowl out of aluminum foil and passed over the remainder of my milk. She drank down two rounds, then took a break mid-way on number three. Happy kitty.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

August 6th - Onward into the inferno - Vanderhoof to Lillooet

I haven't a clue why some days I ride less than 200 miles and others I ride off the end of the earth. Or so it seems any time I crack the 400 mile barrier. This means nothing to those who belong to the iron butt league but I ain't one of them so it's a big deal to me, especially on a hack that's cantankerous. Today was one of them.

I started out with a great breakfast at the adjoining restaurant, then enhanced it even more by commenting to one of the Harley guys parked next to me as to how shiny his bike was. He liked the attention I think.

At the local gas station the lady attendant told me she thought there used to be a bike shop a couple of blocks away so off I went in search of help for my floppy chain. It turned out there actually was a guy who fixes bikes, seems he rents space from the guy who operates a repair shop for cars & trucks. Unfortunately the bike guy only shows up when the mood strikes him and that's not often. There were at least a dozen bikes in various stages of disassembly cluttering up the place and from the looks of the dust layers on them I doubt the bike guy has been in for quite awhile. The mechanic guy turned out to be a gem, he's in his mid-70's and runs the shop just to keep busy. He told me straight off he doesn't work on bikes but I whined around in my usual grating nasal style about not having a jack and how simple a job it was, etc. Being a mechanic he couldn't help get interested in it and before you knew it, we had the bugger up in the air and adjusted. This whole procedure took maybe 15 minutes, 10 of which to locate his metric allens as he didn't want to use mine. After the bike was done we stood around swapping stories about guns and hunting, all of which were better told by him as mine pale in comparison. Humble as that may sound I've never even seen a grizzly let alone shot a silver tip when it was coming at me in a pissy mood. Did I mention he's an Indian? I didn't get the name of his tribe but he can shoot as many bears, deer, buffalo (his favorite) and so on, all without permits. Seems fair to me. When it was time to leave he wouldn't accept anything for payment but finally agreed to five bucks just to get rid of me.

I rode on for a couple more hours, then stopped to gas up at the no-name-station on the outskirts of Hixon. What do you call folks from Hixon you ask? (Sorry, couldn't help myself) Just to demonstrate my dexterity I sprayed gas all over the front of my jacket in a large enough volume that it soaked through. I screamed the usual curse words most of which were directed at the idiots who passed laws allowing innocents like myself to pump their own gas. Inside the store where you pay the lady in line behind me commented to the cashier that she could smell gas and maybe there was a leak? Ha ha. I explained it was me and she did a hasty embarrassed stage-left.

After that I smoked on down the highway, stopping at Wal-Mart (sorry Hon) and picked up some more chain oil & food bits. Also a McDonald's Quarter Pounder which seemed more like an 8th-pounder but what do I know. Maybe it's the metric thing?

I decided fairly late in the afternoon I would keep riding as stopping in a park or hotel would be wasted time so I kept at it. A couple of miles outside of Clinton I noticed a bike parked on the shoulder with no one around and a mile or so up the road there came the owner, trudging back in million-degree heat looking like heat stroke might be on it's way. I found a spot to turn around and scooted on back and offered him a ride on the now empty spare tire rack. He'd ran out of fuel and was sporting a 1-litre bottle full of gas so I waited while he got his bike started, then we both rode into town and gassed up. Grateful guy from California. His bike was shiny too. Maybe I'm just jealous? He wanted to take my picture so I took his just to keep things in balance.

I made it into Lillooet just before 7:00pm, checked into the Gold Panner, said hi to the owner Jay and his wife, hosed off and went to dinner at the Greek restaurant. Jay was there with his family and invited me to share their table which I did. The dinner was great as was the company, after which it was time to expire, I'm all out of steam for the day. "Camping" is definitely fun I'd say. And yes, I know one of the pics is out of focus. So what?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

August 5th - Kitwanga first, then on to Vanderhoof - the geographical center of BC

Finally got hot weather today, so hot in fact I had to remove the last liners from my outfit. At first it seemed like a nice change but after roasting for a few miles it began to lose it's appeal. Starting out this morning everything not covered up was soaked with dew, probably coming off the nearby lake. I broke camp early and rode a few miles to warm up the chain, then stopped to oil it and wash out that pesky air filter. Boy when that thing gets dirty all hell breaks loose, the bike barely runs and the gas mileage goes to the red zone.

Riding down the Cassiar I saw three blackies, one of which would rival the big boy I saw yesterday. I always wonder how the bicycle riders deal with them...

I stopped for gas and a late breakfast at the village of Kitwanga where I met a couple of great ladies who cook all orders from scratch. Also got to chat it up with one of the old timers who's lived there forever. Lots of interesting stories about early life and logging in the area.

After that it was onward into the central inferno, not a lot of fun, had to stop several times just to drink some water and oil the chain again. Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can either buy a jack so I can adjust the bugger or locate a shop with frugal rates and have it done. At present it's slapping like the dickens and will surely bust if I don't do something about it.

Tonight I'm holed up in the North Country Inn where I stayed two years ago. Nice clean place, reasonable rates and a good restaurant next door. I washed off my personal road grime, had a good dinner and look forward to a clean bed. Did you know Vanderhoof is the geographical center of British Columbia? I didn't take any photos of this little town, not much to see so I'll just post the ones of Kitwanga. Zzzzzzzzz....zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, August 4, 2008

August 4th - Parting company, Mac heads to Montana and I head south on the Cassiar

It was an early morning start for both of us today, we said our goodbye's and each headed our separate way. Mac is going to Montana to meet up with a guy we met in Chicken who said he could help with his tire requirements and I'm back on the Cassiar highway. I stopped for breakfast at Sally's at Junction 37, my 3rd or 4th visit to this little roadside cafe. This time I decided to ask the gal who waits tables - all 3 of them - if she was Sally and she said "No, that's my husband's nickname." Somehow I'd guessed as much so she introduced us and I thanked him for fixing me great tasty meals whenever I'd passed through their way. She baked bread for 26 years and taught Sally how to do it so now it's his job. They've owned the cafe for 5 years and this coming winter will be the first one they'll be closed, time to go see the kids and hang out in warmer climes.

After leaving Sally's I rode on down the Cassiar passing Jade where I stopped to look at the tourist traps but declined to leave any of my tightly held cash. One can only use so many things in this life and Linda and I are pretty well topped off. (Sorry Honey, no jade for either of us...)

I gassed up several times today, added a reserve can at the Jade stop, then topped off at Dease Lake where I was approached by a skinny old geezer wearing a black leather Harley vest adorned with more silver hardware and doo-dads than I've ever seen in one place. His mission in life (outside of wearing all the HD doo-dads) was to advise me of the lack of fuel availability that I could expect to encounter as I headed south on the Cassiar. I thanked him for his advice but told him I'd passed that way before. He was overly concerned though and kept up his banter so I asked him if he'd ever heard of Deadhorse. "Nope" he said. Then I asked if he'd ever heard of Prudhoe Bay. "Nope" he said. Finally I asked him if he'd heard of the Arctic ocean and that rang his bell. "Yeah, Jesus, did you ride up there?" he asked... Dammit I love it when I connect with people.

I continued south and gassed up again at a little roadside camp of which I cannot recall the name and finally at Bell II where I also had a late lunch. There I met a guy and his wife who were moving from Fairbanks to Colorado. The guy couldn't believe I'd ridden the hack all the way to Deadhorse and survived. Uh... Seems he'd driven it once in a car and that was enough for him...can't say as I blame him, I doubt I'll do it again, it really raises hell with your equipment. One time though, it's worth it.

Just before arriving at Meziadin Provincial campground I spotted two blackies within a few miles of each other. The first was average size but the 2nd was huge, definitely not one I'd care to meet up close and personal. Fortunately neither one wanted anything to do with me or the hack so we all went our separate ways. The campground proved to be a great find, it's right on the lake and they have really nice sites. Gravel of course as that's the Canadian way and no water either as that's also the Canadian way. Eh? Eh? After arriving and getting my tent set up two of the guys next to me came over to chat and although neither ride bikes they were more than willing to point out the body English and lean requirements one must observe while riding, particularly relating to sidecars. Thanks guys. That's the Canadian way...eh?

August 3rd - Watson Lake campground

Boy did we ever haul a-- today, for some reason we made really good time and arrived at Watson Lake in the late afternoon. Getting gas and refreshing our liquor supply took a lot longer than expected as the locals were busy buying Bud and cashing in their lottery/Keno tickets but eventually we got it done. The weather was nice so we headed out of town a few miles and set up camp at the local Watson Lake Provincial campground. No water but free firewood and at $12.00 it's still a bargain. Mac made another memorable fire after we had dinner, he cooked his usual gourmet noodles and I feasted on corned beef hash and fried eggs, just what my girlish figure needs. The long day's ride had us both pooped so we hung it up around 9:00pm. Mac took some pics of our camp and he'll send them when he gets home, in the mean time I took a couple of the sign village. I only stayed a few minutes as it's mind boggling.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

August 2nd - Haines Junction - nearly as bad as the Haul road

This will be short, we rode through nasty road construction projects today, one after another. Several bikes went down and we were grateful for our sidehacks. Strong cross winds nearly blew us off the road and by the time we arrived in Haines Junction we were both beat. We checked in at the Cozy Corner motel since camping out required too much effort and after brief dinners of snack food and noodles we called it a day. That would be great if it were true but the ding-dongs next door to us are hard at it doing laundry and banging on anything solid they can get their hands on so it doesn't look like we'll get much rest tonight. So be it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

August 1st - Back to Tok

Man oh man was it ever raining this morning. Yesterday we'd had our tires worked on and my beast developed a new nasty noise as a result. Not wanting to chance further issues on the road we decided Mac may as well head out and I'd stay in Fairbanks until my bike was fixed. We didn't know if it was serious or not but there was nothing to be gained by both of us hanging around. With that said we did our goodbyes and off he went while I headed back to the shop. Luck favored me this day as it turned out to be nothing more than three links in my chain were binding up and clattering to beat hell. We soaked them with all sorts of magic oils and eventually they broke free so I set out to Tok, only a couple of hours behind Mac. On the way I stopped for lunch at a place we'd visited on the way up and while there bought a stained glass sockeye salmon, my first and only souvenir. Mac and I ran into each other just as I arrived in Tok; he'd already registered at the same campground as before so I set up camp with him. For a change the weather favored us and we had a decent night of it.

July 31st - Fairbanks in the rain at the mercy of bike dealers

We started our day at the local car wash attempting to dislodge the mud and grime from our bikes. The idea being that any bike shop would be more willing to work on them if they weren't covered in crud and we both needed tire changes. There aren't a whole bunch of bike shops in Fairbanks so we started with the Harley-BMW dealer. They were willing to fix Mac's tire as he had it off the bike and ready to look at. Mine was a different story as both tires needed to be replaced and I couldn't just take them off and hand them over. "Sorry but it's a liability issue" was what they said. Hmm.... that's what I'd call pure bullshit; I'd operated a service shop for years and liability doesn't have squat to do with it, they simply didn't want to work on an Aprilia. This was particularly aggravating since they're supposed to be a BMW dealer and my Aprilia is exactly the same as a bimmer, only the name plate differs. Aprilia built BMW's 650F model for years and that's what mine is by any other name. In any event they did me a true favor by recommending another shop across town who might do the deed. Turned out to be just fine, they not only did the tire swap, they also installed new rear brake pads and solved the noise problem coming from the undercarriage. I'm forever grateful to them.

July 30th - Wiseman to Fairbanks and the Great Diesel Fuel Disaster

Dang it anyway, I just realized I posted the diesel fuel disaster on the wrong day, it actually happened on the 30th when we rode from Wiseman (Coldfoot) to Fairbanks. Duh... Guess I must have been tired when I accessed the blog so I'll do a brief re-do of the events. One thing I've yet to figure out on this blog site is how to copy and paste text, it just doesn't look possible so if anyone reading this knows how please post a comment on how to do it. Thenkuvermuch...

Anyway, onward to the day after our run down from Deadhorse to Wiseman. This was not our best day.

Imagine if you will what happens when a person of advancing years is yakking it up with someone else while at the same time attempting to refuel his bike... Moreover imagine that same said person has two choices of fuel to be dispensed from the same pump albeit from identical blue hoses but with different nozzels, one green for diesel and the other black for benzino (gasoline, eh?) Yakkety yak yak yak... Moving right along inquiring minds might pose the question "Just how far might an Aprilia go when presented with a full tank of #2 diesel? 5 miles perhaps?" Yesiree, 5 miles to be exact. After that it's kaput, d-e-d, the end. In a previous blog entry I went to great lengths to be clever about this entire incident and then in the true spirit of things posted it to the wrong date. After discovering the error of this I've decided enough damage has already been done and admission to this ridiculous blunder will no doubt provide adequate entertainment by itself. In short we spent several hours removing and draining the fuel tank, cleaning the spark plug, returning to Coldfoot to refuel and sell the remaining 5 gallons of diesel stored in my back-up fuel cans before finally getting back on the road.

ONWARD we said and so we did. For several hours in fact. Unfortunately while leaving the Yukon river camp restaurant I heard an ominous grinding clunking scary-as-hell noise coming from the undercarriage. Mac had already left a few minutes earlier so I stopped to see wuz up. It turned out that the chain was clogged with mud and debris from our latest slog through the local water hazard so I hosed it down with chain spray. That seemed to help but after riding a few miles it became noisier and I stopped to adjust the chain slack. Nope, not possible without a jack and guess who had the only one? Not me. Deciding the only course of action left was to ride on at greatly reduced speed I set out and after a few miles spotted Mac on his way back looking for me. We jacked the damn thing up, adjusted out the excess slack and once more set out for Fairbanks. We arrived in Fairbanks at 12:30am only to discover the liquor stores close at midnight, a very inhospitable ordinance if I may say so. Cruising around after midnight covered with mud and looking for a motel isn't the easiest thing to accomplish but we located one desperate enough to accept us (Motel 8) and we were in for the night. Mac's brain had apparently gone into superwarp mode as he decided he needed to do laundry while mine opted for gin & tonics. I admit there are times when my superior intellect shines through.

PS - The photo of me draining the diesel may appear as some bodily function. It is not that.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 29th - Deadhorse to Wiseman - Larry turns 200 today!

Happy birthday Larry you old geezer!

Early today we took the tour of the Prudhoe Bay oilfields. This was supposed to include getting off the bus for a short walk to the Arctic ocean wherein Mac would place his big toe and the icebergs would likely melt for miles around . Unfortunately for those who paid dearly for this tour the operators were not able to fulfill their end of the bargain and instead took us on a tour of oil rigs, gas plants, large equipment storage lots and other equally interesting items, not unlike a tour of 1950's Soviet technology museums. Yippee. Goodbye $38.

Thus began our southern return trip down the Haul road to Wiseman, a small hamlet located just north of Coldfoot. Rain was beginning to fall as we left the tour bus and mounted our filthy beasts. Being experienced in such matters I duded up in my flashy red outfit which Mac refers to as the Santa outfit. This from a man who wears rain pants with duct tape holding the legs on. Hmm...

Heading south it wasn't long before the weather turned really nasty, rain in torrents with cross-winds which turned the pot-holes into mini tire busters capable of dislodging the most firmly affixed items on your bike. This was no lightweight affair, it was serious stuff requiring constant vigilance to stay on the road and as we later agreed, not a helluva lot of fun. The run from Deadhorse to Wiseman was around 230 miles taking us over the Antigun pass again only this time in dense fog, rain, and more mud than you can imagine. Somewhere around mid-way I had to pee so I selected a carefully chosen spot and pulled over. Being garbed in multiple layers of zippered and Velcro secured rain gear meant having to do the boogie-woogie dance for several minutes while getting, er, uh, unleashed? Naturally as these things always go as soon as I was about finished Mac appears through the driving rain storm. This isn't any problem as he thinks I'm funny as hell to watch when I'm trying to get back into my gear. How delicate he is. Then up comes the German couple we'd met at Marion Creek campground a few days ago, soaking wet and covered with mud on their way north. Evidently Germans are accustomed to funny older men attempting to restore their dignity and little laughter was spent. Probably had something to do with the storm. Immediately on their tail arrived another guy on his BMW adventure thingy all dressed up in proper BMW adventure clothing, also heading north. We told them to avoid the tour and which hotel had the best food, etc., and off they went never to be seen again. I finished re-costuming and we rode off into the grime again. Camaraderie is everything...

We arrived at Wiseman late afternoon and thanks to Mac we located a great little cabin at the Boreal Lodge, a mom & pop operation with very reasonable rates. I'd stopped at the one before it and thought we were out of luck due to the no vacancy sign posted but Mac knew there were at least 3 places according to the Milepost book he'd brought along. At least the first one had some cool sled doggies so it made a nice stop. At the Boreal Lodge there was a nice community kitchen where we ate a dinner comprised of food we'd pilfered from the Prudhoe Bay Hotel, then crashed early in order to make a clean break in the morning. Rising early we used the water hose provided and washed off a lot of the mud we'd accumulated the previous day, then headed into Coldfoot for a great breakfast. On the way out we took pics of the old trading post plus Mac spotted a moose with her yearling calf standing in the river.

Our brief stay at Wiseman was a good one, the people who operate it had left their teen age son in charge and he's one of the nicest kids you'll ever meet. Polite, respectful, not given to laughing at older people, that sort of thing. We settled in and enjoyed ourselves. In short we got blitzed.