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...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 9 - July 9th Discovering Woss, The Wonders of Nimpkish Bridge, and Sleeping Indoors!

Ah the thrill of travel on 3 wheels, sunlight on your face, freezing freaking wind cutting through every pore in your body, what more could one ask for? Boy oh boy am I ever grateful for those wondrous inventions, heated electrical clothing. Without them I'd have been one cold dog today and probably wouldn't have had the great ride that I did.

Still heading north, I wanted to make it to Port Hardy today. The signs said it was 220 and I figured if I rode in a sprightly manner I'd make it. I'd only been riding a few miles when the first view point popped up, the biggest sawmill I'd ever seen, with an ominous name, Western Division of Catalyst... Oohhh... scary, eh? Eh? Shortly beyond that another item, The Ripple Rock Mystery. It remains a mystery to me as after taking the photo I moved on without reading the info. Hmm.. As it turned out I had plenty of time for stops to gawk at every little item of interest, including a self-guided complete tour of Woss, the township I'd most like to spend more time in. One store (I think) including the gas pump with two nozzles of which one is duc-taped shut. Indian artifacts. Games of chance. Soda pop. Driving through town brought lots of friendly waves and nods from locals, including old folks and little kids. I expect it's one of those places where you either work for the local mill or you're retired, not much else is offered. From what I could tell everyone, and I mean everyone heats their houses with wood. With few exceptions all of the older houses were most likely provided by the mill, years ago before the invention of manufactured homes. Newer homes appeared to be of that later type and most all were neat and tidy. I think I like the people of Woss.

Heading north again I paused at the Nimpkish bridge where I investigated the dense fauna. There not being an available loo as they call it up here I reverted to stepping behind the tree. Only then did I notice the well worn path that created a very low tunnel through the general area of my repose. Just about bear size I'd say. I found this interesting as only a few miles prior I'd seen a sign warning of the fines that would be imposed on anyone guilty of feeding bears. Exactly who I wonder, would feed a bear? Other than your friendly local zoo keeper. Not me, that's for darn sure so I did a stage left post haste and hauled out of the woods. I attempted to take a photo of said tunnel but poor lighting and unsteady camera holding was enough to over-ride even Canon's image stabilization feature. So be it.

Arriving in Port Hardy under cloudy ominous skies with more than a hint of impending precipitation and accompanying cold front I decided it was time for a bit of self-indulgence. Namely the Quarter Deck Inn & Marina, complete with indoor plumbing and hot shower. The hack is tucked up nicely right next to the front entrance where staff can keep an eye on it while other guests believe its part of the quaint decor. How fun. Also on the list of pampering I treated myself to a non Top Ramen dinner at the Quarter Deck Lounge. Ugh. It's back to Top Ramen for me, I could buy 400 packs of TR for the cost of that yucky dinner.

But the staff is nice, very friendly and most accommodating and the room is a real room with a real bed you don't have to assemble and a potty where you don't have to take Deet along. All told a nice way to end the day.

Day 8 - July 8 Elk Falls Campground & the Fuel Reserve Test

Beautiful sunny day today, headed north towards Campbell River and whatever camp ground I could snag. On the way I'd stopped to photo more of the Strait of Georgia when a nice lady volunteered to take my pic. Nice gal. But she must have adjusted the image size setting on the camera as the rest of the day's pics turned out smallish. Thenkuvermuch...

Courtenay sounded interesting and since I needed to buy a few basic food necessities, ie, MORE TONIC WATER, I headed into that town to see what I could find. Right smack dab in the middle of town was a small mom and pop grocery store complete with parking lot and all so I homed in on it, knowing for certain they'd have exactly what I wanted. Turns out the outside phone booth located at the corner of their store just happens to be appointment headquarters for the local lady of the early afternoon. She was busy-busy making arrangements on the telly when I walked past her, then she sprinted over to a drive-through van, then back to the telly for more calls. Maybe her rates didn't suit the guy in the van? Anyway when I came out she was just hanging up and as I passed she gave me her warmest warm "Hi" lick-lick and I gave her my most many man's grunt/grimace and continued on to the hack. Linda's face looming ever so large everywhere I looked. Not smiling eiher. She strode (wiggled? slithered?) past me and I snapped a hurried pic of her departing posterior, clad in what I'd at first taken to be the shortest hot pants I'd seen in years. Wrong old timer, it was a skirt. Almost. Woo Hoo...
I think it was after that I saw the Old Barn Market and stopped for milk & eggs & bananas, all real manly food items designed to enhance your vigor. Or maybe that's what potasium is for? Anyhoo, I've been amazed at how well milk keeps without refrigeration. Eggs too for that matter. And Spam, well I sort of expected Spam to have a half-life measuring in weeks if not months when exposed to the elements.
Moving right along, once beyond Courtenay and way out in the sticks the fuel reserve light came on. Feeling brave I figured I could make it to the next town on reserve so I lead-footed it on per normal. Funny thing about the Aprilia, when you fill the tank if you don't turn the fuel petcock to the reserve position it doesn't fill the reserve, just the main tank. Which is exactly what I'd done on the previous filling. So be it, out of benzino I was, about 30 miles short of anticipated reserve time. No biggy I thought, I had plenty of fuel on board in the form of two 2.5 gal plastic cans plus a one-litre bottle left over from my last trip, unopened no less. What the heck, I'll use the small bottle as there's a town not far up the road so I did. And true to form it took me just about to it. Just about. Minus about a block or so, and around the corner so the petrol place was not yet in sight. Unpack the trunk again, out comes the can, in goes the gas, repack the trunk, fire it all back up, ride around the corner and there it is, Canada's finest Shell station just waiting. Wot fun, and hot as hell all the time.
After all the entertainment and reserve gas drill exercise I paddled around the city of Campbell River aka Sailboat City taking in the local sights before pulling over to check out the map to see where I was. I guess I must look harmless enough as 3 nice ladies approached to see if they could help. Not the early afternoon working type, these were genuine nice ladies. I resisted the urge to ask if they'd push me to the nearest gas station but it did seem like it might have been fun. Anyway they sent me off in the general direction of Elk Falls and I only had to stop 2 more times for more help. The first was a guy loading groceries in his car who waved his arm randomly and said it's that way, indicating somewhere between north and west in varying degrees. OK, I can do that I thought and I did for another 1/2 mile, then rolled into a small parking lot and asked another guy who as it turned out knew exactly where it was. Unfortunately I don't understand Russian or Polish or whatever the heck he was speaking so I thanked him and continued in the general north or west direction as before. Finally I stopped and tried the GPS, which earlier hadn't a clue but now by some miracle had recovered it's mapping memory so off I went. 15 miles west and sort of northerly I arrived.
Check-in procedure was similar to the last time, a sign at the entrance said pick a spot and someone will be by to collect the money. OK. I did that, choosing a nice site with a sign at the front that said "first come, first served". Finders keepers, eh? Now given my prior experience I questioned the wisdom of setting up shop before getting the official camp guard's blessing but I did it anyway. Right on cue just as I finished setting up the cot and sleeping bag Mr Entertainment 3 sites over goes ballistic with his boom box featuring the latest rave noise or ho rap or whatever the hell they call it now. All sorts of interesting thoughts crossed my mind about how to deal with him when along comes the camp guard, another nice young kid making the world of camping a more enjoyable experience by collecting the fees. I mentioned to him I was thinking about testing my virgin can of Counter Assault spray on Mr Entertainment as I'd neglected to bring my 9mm. Oddly enough, at exactly that moment someone beat me to it as the noise stopped dead and not another sound was heard for the rest of the night. Meanwhile the camp guard kid was becoming very interested in my Counter Assault which I assured him was as harmless as toothpaste and for him not to worry, I was just being a fussy old geezer who'd missed his nap. He understood, I expect I reminded him of his grandfather and he moved along without further comment. Nice kid. Time for a lie down.

Day 7 - July 7th - Vancouver Island Goldstream Provincial Park

As mentioned in my last report I started the day at 04:30am so I made it onto the road very early today. Stopped to see Point Whitney Tidelands park, then onto Discovery Bay for another historic moment. Saw a beautiful bald eagle hovering over the highway coming into Port Angeles, not something I've seen often.
There was a long wait for the next ferry to Victoria so I went to brunch with a couple from southern CA, she's a school principal and he's a college professor. I didn't ask their names or where they worked...duh... Oh well. Met a couple of other neat people, all Harley riders maxed to the bone. I asked them what all the noise was about and never got a response beyond a sheepish grin or shrugged shoulders. Probing farther than I probably should have I suggested it might have something to do with "look at me?" but again, nada so I let it drop.
Going through customs was a glide on the ice compared to last time, no search required, no smart-ass beady eyed power mad jerk-off on duty, just a polite young kid doing his thing. Probably his first day on the job. He checked out my Counter Assault bear spray, asked how much it cost, gave it his approval and sent me on my way. Dang. Must be losing my touch.
There were massive traffic jams through Victoria so I didn't stop for any pics, figured I'd never get back in line if I did. The temp was hot as hell and the bike's cooling fan ran non-stop. I'd forgotten to remove the thermal liner from my riding pants so I did the hot-seat boogaloo all the way through town. Once out on the open highway things cooled down and I made straight for Goldstream Provincial Park. I'd stayed there once before in 1972 on my old green Yamaha XS-1, the very same beastie parked in the garage at home.
No one was on duty at the main gate, just a small sign that said pick a spot and some one will be by later to collect the fee so I did. Just as I finished setting up a young park ranger pulled up and informed me I was camped a few feet off where I was supposed to be and I had to move my tent. Bummer. At least it's easy to do as once set up it's a free-standing tent so all I needed to do was pull the pegs and carry it to the approved spot 8 feet away. Onto the gravel bed with all the pointy little rocks. That's why I have the big honkin orange hammer, eh? Bed time was early due to the longish day, nothing going on that I couldn't pass up so I packed it in. Oblivious to the ten thousand screaming little kiddies running amuck. Zzzzz....zzzzzzzz.....

Day 6 - July 6th - Portland to Dosewallips State Park - WA

Every morning it seems I've had to say a sad goodby to someone, this time it was to Turbo and Camilla, both whom lay whining while I loaded up the hack. What a couple of cry babies they are. Had to stop at Fred Meyers on the way out of town to replace the mysterious missing deoderant and hair goo, then hopped on I-84 - I-5 north and cranked up to warp one. The bike ran great and I didn't bother to stop until the exit for Olympia, gassed up and headed west to Shelton. On the way I spotted a couple of bovine art pieces across the way from Mud Bay so I snapped a couple of pics. Then it was on to Shelton, took a few minutes to tour down town, not much required, tidy little place, lots of flowers & stuff for the curio challenged. Along Hoods Canal I noticed tons of left over 4th of July fireworks crap deposited there by thoughtful folks celebrating. Yipeee... Eventually I located Dosewallips State Park where Linda and I spent the first night in our Rialta way back when so I dialed in a spot for the night. The nearest neighbors were a couple from Olympia, Greg and Ginny, both nice people who shared their fresh clams and local wine. We spent lots of time telling sea stories which seemed to improve as the evening progressed. Greg said he was getting up at 4:30am to set out his crab pots so I set my mental alarm clock and hopped out of the tent spot on. No Greg anywhere. After breakfast - spam, greasy fried eggs, potatoes, & coffee still no Greg. Finally when I was packed up and heading out he emerged, sleepy looking and somewhat sheepish but game for another day. Bye Greg, bye Ginny.