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Old 10-23-2007, 11:07 AM   #1
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Oddometer: 7,007
Orcas Island to Alaska and Home to Madison

A buddy of mine was getting married on Orcas Island. First thing I said when he said he was getting married- COOL! I'll RIDE MY MOTORCYCLE!

edit: as I was putting this ride report together, yesterday, Chuck called! Out of the blue like if he was sick with ESP or something. And just now I remembered the fire on Orcas and the beer and good conversation.

When I pulled up at Chuck's botherer-in-law-to-be's house, just before dark, Chuck goes, "Is that Max? Max!" and he was already almost toasted. Which was good because it was a bachelor party. He introduced me to his extended list of friends- all of them totaly capable of being lunatics. One olympic swimmer. Several triathletes. All of them with master's degrees or PhDs or JDs or something I can't pronounce. I was their novelty, the guy who only had a bachelor's. They argued like old friends drinking beer- things like "He'll never make it to Alaska." "I bet he will." "He'll never even make it to Canada." "Of course he will. He made it here, didn't he?" "Yeah, but he totally wimped out in Mexico. He only made it a thousand miles in Mexico." "I'll bet you $100 he makes it to Alaska." "I'll bet you $100 he doesn't even make it to Canada." "Who's a witness?" Chuck goes "I heard it." So Dave and Todd made a bet. I sat there laughing. "I'm going to Alaska," I said. Some of them believed me. Some didn't. Well, Todd and Dave- here's your proof. Pay up! :end of edit.

I planned on taking my brand-new-to-me '96 R1100GS. But before I left I wanted to add a few things. So I took the bike apart and then I couldn't get it back together again.

All I wanted to add was an aeroflow windshield, piaa driving lights, and an auxiliary power supply for the GPS. I did something to the gas tank/fuel line/something and could NOT get it started again.

I changed the plugs. I drained the battery down to nothing. I put in a new battery. I drained it down to nothing. I found the short and charged the battery and drained it down to nothing. I tried jumping it with my truck and almost blew everything up. Eventually I had it towed to the BMW dealer so that I could pay them $500 when I got back from Alaska. I'm too shy to say what I'd actually done that took them a week to diagnose.

In the end I took my '96 R1100RS. When I left I felt like a combination posseur/loser.

It was about 4 PM when I finally left, and I was running late by a day and a half. I had to get to Orcas Island by 6 on Thursday because Chuck was having a bachelor party.

The first night I made it from Madison to the border of Minnesota and South Dakota. I didn't ride anything special- just I90. But I ran into thunderstorms in Minnesotta and had to ride through them because out on the prairie there's no shelter. No overpasses. No exits with convenience stores. There was nothing to do but ride. The best part was when it started to hail.

Eventually I made it to Wall Drug, Wyoming, and Custer's Last Stand.

There were homicidal mule deer and elk on the road. I didn't get no photos of them but they were there.

Just inside Washington State coming up over a hill pulling away from everybody going about 90...

"Where are you headed in such a hurry? Do you know how fast you were going?" "I'm going to a bachelor party on Orcas Island and I need to make the ferry." So he said to hurry up and take a picture and make sure to stay in the commuter lanes. He even put his hand on his gun, gunslinger-style. I told him to smile for all the inmates on ADVrider.

Then I put my pretty black bike on the ferry.

bananaman screwed with this post 02-27-2008 at 07:07 AM
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Old 10-23-2007, 12:27 PM   #2
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Sounds like an adventure alright...

Keep it comin'

p.s. does Wall Drug still have billboards right across the entire state of South Dakota along the interstate?
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:17 PM   #3
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Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
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There are Wall Drug signs everywhere. I had to go there to get a bumper sticker for my daughter. It went like this: Dad. IF you're going to be so stupid as to ride a motorcycle all the way to Washington, then you can get me a Wall Drug bumper sticker. So I did, and I had a grilled cheese sandwich, chocolate malt, and cup of coffee.
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Old 10-23-2007, 01:45 PM   #4
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Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Oddometer: 7,007
My travel notebook has this entry: "6/26/07 5:33 PM 3.7 gal 57,295 Madison Shell Bound for Orcas Island"

And I was on my RS. I had been debating with myself and a few buddies about which bike to take. The problem, as we saw it, was "getting to the fight ready to fight." From Madison to the Casier was FAR. If I took the GS- well, the GS was (is) a pig compared to the RS. In the end the GS wasn't an option because I couldn't get it started. I have no regrets for taking the RS. Actually I'm super glad I took the RS. It's absolutely amazing on the roads, and it handled the gravel and mud of the Casier and the Alcan and the Haul Road just fine.

Back to the pictures and the travel notebook:

"8:00 PM-8:20 PM 3.6 gal 57,447 Dodine MN. Suzy Q, coke, water, put on goretix cut it looks like rain!"
"9:30 Rochester, MN 1.8 gal 57,507 miles. Holy FUCK the sky is ominous. And I just rode through a BAD IDEA. I've beenhere at a Quick Trip maybe 20 minutes. I'm shoving off. But the lightning is scary."
"10:44 pm. Albert Lee 1.1 gal @$3.36 next stop: Sioux Falls, 175 miles from here."
"1:30 Am 30 miles east of Sioux Falls. Tired. Luverne, MN.
"6/27/07 7:25 AM Departing to West. 57,712 3.5 gal @ $11.52"
there are a bunch of boring entries, notes about various cokes and snickers I bought to sustain myself, then- "5:08 PM Sheridan, WY 58,339 2.3 gal @ 7.56 1042 total (odometer) 1026 total (GPS) 1013 from here per GPS." And next to me on a brand-new 1200RT- this guy pulled up. So I said to him- Hey Mister, do you know anything about the Iron Butt Club?" "Sure," he said. "Those guys are nuts," he said. "I just rode 1000 miles in 24 hours," I said. So he signed my log, gave me his name and number and stuff. Then I rode up to the airport and got one of the guys who works there to sign my log. He looked at me like I was NUTS. But I haven't submitted that ride to the IBA because after riding all the way to Alaska, riding 1000 miles in 24 hours just seems kind of... amateurish.

After hitting that milestone I was tired and I started to slow down.
"7:10 PM Little Bighorn Nat'l Cemetary 58,417 8:03 leaving Little Bighorn. Custer was small. I liked the horse cemetary."
more entries, then, "11:20 PM Livingston Montana 58,600 1304 on the trip 3.13 gal @ 7.66 almost (just missed) 2 mule deer- first a velvet buck walking slowly toward a doe, the, 20 mi later, a panicked doe, FUCK!"
"2:00 AM Butte, Montanta. TIRED, But... 1000 Odometer Miles! IRON!" But I guess I was too tired to have recorded the mileage- but my memory says I'd ridden 1000 miles since I got up that morning.
"6/28/07 8:55 AM Cantral. Overslept. Departing w/2.3 gal @ $7.33"
later, "1:00 PM Cor d'Alene, Idaho in 4 hours 292 mi."
and later... "5:28 PM 59,315." This was 2020 odometer miles in 48 hours. I was in the parking lot of the Sunset Elementary School , Bellevue, WA. Two women signed my log book. I'd just done 2020 odometer miles in 48 hours! (But after double-checking, it didn't add up to 2000 real miles, so no Extra-iron butt for me. It was hard, but not close enough for a cigar.)
"7:20 PM Seattle 59,369 traffic Jam on I5 headed to Hwy 20 between Arlington and North Marysville."

After riding 2000 miles through the American West it totally sucked to be in a traffic jam.

There were times in the mountains when I was laughing inside my helmet. I felt like the entire US Interstate Highway System was my personal playground. And there was no way I would have felt that way if I'd been on my GS. I sat in traffic and thought- holy shit, I just rode 2000 miles and it was AWESOME!

"8:20 PM FERRY TERMINAL Anacortes, WA."
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Old 10-23-2007, 02:39 PM   #5
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Oddometer: 7,007
Orcas Island to Vancouver

Basically the wedding on Orcas was a three-day drunk. I won't bore anybody with the "wedding pictures," except for this one of the moon and then only because it was so unlikely. What happened was, one of Chuck's old girlfriends came to the party with a guy and his yacht, and after the party we partied on the yacht, and then there was a moon and I was drunk and so was everybody else so they said, "take a picture of the moon," and I did.

If you're ever in the area, spend some time at Doe Bay, Orcas Island.

When it finally came time to leave, after the wedding, I was kind of melancholy. I was looking forward to the ride, but it was hard to leave old friends.

But before I could go, I needed to make one more stop. I'd heard of Reuben from far, far away. I needed new tires. I didn't really want to go anywhere. I still had a hangover. So I stopped to visit Reuben.

"5:47 PM Anacortes New Tires & oil. 59,569. Off to Alaska."

I don't know exactly what Rubien did but it was like magic. Before, when I would start the motor, it would go "tick-tick-tick" for a few seconds. "The torques aren't right. This is real mechanic's work. Nobody wants to do it. You have to get the torques right," he said. Pretty soon I had a wrench and I was getting the torques wrong and he was yelling at me. "NO! What the fuck kind of pansy are you?! I said ONE CLICK! You went TWO!" and then he'd mutter stuff, pansy gay boy wants to be a rider gonna fuckin' get himself KILLED then, "GET OUT!" then "What the fuck are you going to help me or not?!" and when he was done with me and my bike I felt like we could go anywhere. Last thing he said: "Now listen to me boy. Those tires are sticky but right now they're new so you be careful for a while until they get sticky or you gonna get yourself killed." After, as I was leaving, some guy came in on a brand-new RT that he'd laid down or something. This RT guy was mad because Rubien was telling him it was going to be a couple of weeks before he could get to it. So the RT guy started to get mad and say things like Yeah but you took care of THAT guy right away! with one of those whine-y voices, and I heard Rubien said, "He's a rider," just to shut the RT guy up, and I almost start to ... you know how it is. I won't say. That sure was a nice compliment but not the kind I can handle in public.

Next thing: CANADA!

Crossing the border was a total pain. They took me inside, asked me tons of questions, counted my money, took my bike apart- and then complained that it was "complicated." I don't know what they were looking for but all I had was bike stuff. They totally gave me a hard time and I was almost ready to tell them to fuck themselves and Canada and that I'd just take the ferry to Alaska. Eventually they let me go but they still kept looking at me like I was a terrorist or something. And they kept asking me what I planned to do if I saw a bear. WTF?

bananaman screwed with this post 10-25-2007 at 09:11 AM
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Old 10-23-2007, 03:12 PM   #6
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Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Oddometer: 7,007

"59,666/2370 6:48 AM Vancouver. Looks like rain. I'm kind of freaked out now. Long distances ahead. Will I have enough gas? Can I get to Fairbanks in 3 days?"
"10:51 AM Hope, BC 59,753/2557 8.9l @C$10.41"

"2:24 PM 59,891/2595 lost my camel back in Hope."

Darn it. No camel back. Not only that, but when I stopped when I realized I'd lost my camel back, I dropped the bike. ouch. I put a nice gouge in the side of the fairing, broke the plastic cover on the cylinder head- it was a day when I probably shouldn't have been riding at all. I was scared- the way I've been scared a few time right before a deep and cold dive. But there were still people around and it wasn't THAT wild so I really had nothing to worry about, except huge trucks, deep ravines, snow-capped mountains that made me wonder if it might snow? Ach- just stupid worries.

So I stopped for cherries at a fruit stand. I was surprised that it was like a desert. I guess it's some kind of rain-shadow area.

"7:16 pm 60,185/2889 Prince George. 519 miles today. Blah. Lost my camel-back. Dropped the bike 50 miles later. Rode slow. Didn't get anywhere."

That night, in Prince George, I started to feel better. I went to a walmart and bought some goop. I had some in my tool kit but it was burried somewhere and I didn't feel like digging it out. Goop was like $1.50 or something. I put some tape on the broken cover and then filled it with goop. Good quick-fix. I also got a 2.5 gallon gas can.

Then I cruised the main drag looking for a hotel. One had three sport-bikes- wait a sec, I thought. What the heck? I thought. Two sport-bikes and something out of Mad Max. Cool. So I checked in.

In my hotel room I put teflon tape around the threads of the gas can, and I covered the vent hole- already lined with teflon tape- with duct tape. I didn't want any leaks at all, and everyone knows that the machining on plastic gastank nozzles isn't like the machining on a BMW motorcycle. But if you add teflon tape, then it's equal.

The next morning I met Dave, Siggy, and Scott. It went like this: "What the heck is that?" "That's mine," Siggy said. "What is it?" "I built it out of spare parts," Siggy said. A little while later we wer having breakfast and talking routes. I said I was going up the Al-Can. Dave said he had a better way. He pulled out his map and then started to argue with Scott about how much better their way would be. They were going to Fairbanks and they were totally excited. They were arguing even though they were agreeing. "See these towns? Each one has gas," Scott said. "Are you sure?" I said. "Of course," Dave said. Siggy showed me his aux-bottles, spun aluminum bolted to the sides of his- whatever it was.

"9:54 Am 60,196 Heading WEST."
"11:38 AM Fraser Lake 60,300/3004 8.06l @ $10.31"
"1:16 PM Houston, BC. 8.3l @ $10.65 60,399/3104"
"Kitsegueda, BS 3:17 PM 9.33l @ $11.28 60519/3219 mi"
"7:35 PM 11l plus 2.1 gal reserve strapped to the back 60,682/3386 Belle II, BC 3x bear so far! (i big one, 1 running across the road, 1 medium one eating at the side!)"
"9:10 PM 60,842/3547 NO GAS. That last was EPIC MUD. RAIN. SNOW. VERY NUTS."

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Old 10-25-2007, 08:36 AM   #7
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Enjoyed the report.Reading about trips up north (Alaska, Labrador, etc.) never gets old.

I also appreciate your honesty. It's great to read about REAL PEOPLE who do these things and can talk about what freaked them out as well as what they enjoyed. When I stop being afraid, I'll know I must be dead.

Someday I'll get there Great stuff.

Cheers, D-Mac
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Old 10-25-2007, 08:57 AM   #8
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Oddometer: 7,007

As for girls wanting to climb into my tent... I might have exagerated just a little. Several points to consider: 1) AWOL had already been through there, so all the pretty girls were used up. As far as I know none of them crawled into AWOL's tent either, but he's so much better looking than the rest of us that, compared to him, I was like a big lump of smelly motorcycle-guy.

Maybe they took me skinnydipping just so they wouldn't have to smell me?

Maybe they took me skinnydipping so that the bears wouldn't smell me? I wonder what rank-rider smells like to grizzly? "Lunch!"

Maybe they took me skinny dipping for a good laugh?

Another very true thing: don't go to Alaska to pick up girls on the Haul Road.

I already told about how I was falling asleep on my way into Yukon River. And how I just curled up next to the propane tank. Eventually I made it to Coldfoot and gas and lunch (or dinner?). Pulling out of Coldfoot, a little way north, I saw this thing in the shade next to the bridge over the river. From a distance I couldn't tell what it was. But it wasn't natural. I slowed and kept looking at it. It moved. I still didn't know what it was. Like a lump in the shade? Not a bear. (After a while everything is either BEAR or NOT BEAR.) It moved again and I got closer and I could see into the shade. It was a bum on a 5 gallon pail. Hitchhiking.

I didn't have room for a hitchhiker. But I pulled up, stopped, killed the motor. Sorry I don't have room, I said. The hitchhiker was older- maybe 60ish. Grizzled- so I wasn't far off when I wondered if he was a bear. He looked at me for a while. Like if he was thinking. And then he goes, "I seen you sleeping at Yukon."
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Old 10-25-2007, 09:25 AM   #9
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...And then he goes, "I seen you sleeping at Yukon."

Man, that is creepy. I'd rather be attacked by bears in my sleep next to a propane tank than hear that.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:26 AM   #10
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OASIS Worthy

This is why I think this ride should be OASIS worthy. I actually carried a suit with me on the bike, got to Orcas Island, found an iron, and made it presentable enough that I was easily the best-dressed man at Chuck's wedding. Come on- I carried a black 3-button tailored suit, a nice white shirt, a tie, black socks, and allen-edmund wing-tips! (Sorry I forgot to add them to the gear-list before.)

After the wedding on my way through Anacortes,I bought a box and mailed the suit home. 3rd class. My suit and stuff arrived in Madison on Monday after I got home- perfect timing.

So- come on. I mean really. I carried a suit with me on the bike for more than 2000 miles. According to OASIS laws, doing something silly like that automatically grants the idiot more than a few extra points. Drinking wine mid-way? Even more points.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:57 AM   #11
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I am a total noob and reports like this really get the "I want to do that" attitude going. This was a great read. Thanks you for sharing, I frankly don't know if I can do the solo thing.
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Old 10-25-2007, 01:41 PM   #12
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Great report. I enjoyed reading about your adventures.
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Old 07-22-2008, 01:11 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Saulo
I am a total noob and reports like this really get the "I want to do that" attitude going. This was a great read. Thanks you for sharing, I frankly don't know if I can do the solo thing.
Agreed on all points. Inspiring and informative report, it will help me with my upcoming yukon ride
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Old 11-10-2007, 09:07 PM   #14
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Sleeping out-of-sight

I would really have liked to crawl into the woods and lean up against a scrub-fir tree and sleep for a week but there were BEARs. Big ones with heads bigger than my gas tank.

Sleeping by the propane tank in front of the cafe at Yukon wasn't really dangerous. Even though the place was closed there were still people moving around, coming and going. I slept with my head on my tank-bag. I kept my keys in my pocket. My helmet was next to me, touching me. I slept like a deadman but I was also awake and aware, like dreaming that I was awake.

The best protection was my stench and my look. Even in BMW riding kit- even if I'm a total wuss, I'm sure that I didn't look like a total pushover. And after a while you start to get a swagger that you carry even when you sleep.

The bum- I didn't detect any animosity or threat from this guy at all. The way he said that he'd seen me- I think he was surprised that I'd managed to keep going. This bum wasn't a tenderfoot. And my look- swagger, posturing, sleeping with my head on my tank bag. He probably thought that I was almost dead. If he knew anything about motorcycles, he'd have known that an RS shouldn't have been there and certainly shouldn't have gone on. He must have left way before me and then he must have made good time to Coldfoot.

Incredulity- that's what I'd say his statement carried. He saw me sleeping. He hadn't expected me to actually get up.
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:02 PM   #15
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Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Oddometer: 7,007
I ran into an old friend yesterday, a guy who as a geologist used to go to Alaska regularly. We talked a little about it. He told me how it was. I told him how it is. He told me the old story about bear protection. I let him because he's old. It went like this: "I went into a gun shop outside of Fairbanks to get myself a pistol. Something big. The gunsmith sold me a great big 357. Magnum. Revolver. Like Dirty Harry. So I paid for it and before he gave it to me, he started filing off the sights. "Ah," said I. "You're filing off the sights because when the bear is coming at me I won't need to aim, right?" "Nope," said the gunsmith. "It's so it don't hurt so bad when the bear shoves it up your ass."

He told me about hitch-hiking. And what he said made sense. When he used to go up there, sometimes they'd leave their truck in a town, and just get a ride with all their gear to a trail head. They'd pack everything in to where ever they were going. And when they came out, they'd just hitch-hike. Rules in Alaska are- wait a sec. RULES IN ALASKA? Alaska really is wild. Kids can drive. I think I saw a 9 year old driving a truck. So the old guy hitch hiking? Maybe he looked like a bum, but I use that term with affection and admiration. In Alaska people dress for work, not to look like a Field and Stream model.

On the way out, right before the Texans got a flat, there was a halt in traffic for the construction, and I saw a handsome fellow on a big GS dressed in the same Rallye Pro suit I was wearing. I wanted to crawl away and hide. He looked like such a posseur. I looked like him. What did that make me?

Scott Schoppenhorst- the kid I went to school with back in Wisconsin who now lives in Wiseman- he has a Harley. Guess what he wore for protection when he last rode it from Fairbanks to Wiseman? Sunglasses. Not even gloves. Just jeans, a T-shirt, work boots, and sunglasses. He said he had a wind breaker with him but never needed it.

Edit: I got an email from a fellow inmate-wannabe who asked me to add a couple of things, some I can put here and some that only belong in Jo Mamma. She "...says I have a very don't-fuck-with-me, mean-son-of-a-bitch snore [even though I'm a good guy], so maybe that's why I've never been bothered, sleeping out in the open." The rest I won't put in Jo Mamma but if I did it'd be pretty funny.

bananaman screwed with this post 11-14-2007 at 09:28 PM
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