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Old 07-24-2009, 03:51 PM   #1
Twistn'roads OP
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My "Slightly Past Mid-Life Crisis" Gold Rush Tour 2009

The Spell of the Yukon

~ Robert Service ~

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy, I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it --
Came out with a fortune last fall, --
Yet somehow life's not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn't all.....


Introduction

As I near 50 years of age, I often look back on my life so far. I contemplate the choices and decisions I've made, my failures and accomplishments, dreams and goals. The past while I have not been a happy person. Something is missing. I have never felt such discontent and restlessness. Why? I have a wonderful wife and children whom love me very much. I have a nice home. I have a good job that pays pretty well. I have my health. But still, I’m not content. I am tired of the daily routine. I find that I have fallen into a rut of repetitious existence. My spirit is dieing a bit more every day. There is much more to living than this.

Since getting involved in motorcycling a number of years ago (after my first life crisis), I've come to enjoy long distance touring; every trip taking me farther and farther off the beaten track. Riding my motorcycle always took my mind off life's problems and the daily grind. One cold winter's night while "surfing the net" searching for interesting routes and roads for future trips, I came across a unique website, "Adventure Rider". I was inspired. Reading the well documented ride reports of two wheeled adventurers traveling through far off lands got me dreaming. What a better way to warm my soul and put some adventure back into my life than to do a long distance, epic solo trip to a place far away on a motorcycle! Time to "go walkabout"..... Alaska and the Arctic would be the destination!

I started doing some preliminary planning for this trip back in 2007. Then I owned a Honda VTX1800 cruiser that I felt no longer was the right bike for me. I needed something that was more nimble in the twisties and could perform reasonably on rough gravel roads. In 2008 I traded my VTX for a Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom. I spent that summer outfitting and farkling the bike to transform it into a machine that I was confident could take me across the continent and back, not always on the easiest path. In addition, I upgraded all my camping gear. I did a couple of trial trips down through the Appalachians trying out different gear, coming home and ordering more!

My 2009 trip plan was to ride across the US plains as far as the Rocky Mountains in Montana then turn right. I planned to visit the Sand Hills of Nebraska, the Black Hills of South Dakota, travel Beartooth pass from Wyoming into Montana, Visit Glacier NP and then cross back into Canada. I planned to see some of the Kootenays of BC, Banff and Jasper in AB, and make a 2 day stop in Hyder in southern Alaska to see the Salmon Glacier and perhaps some fishing Grizzlies as I worked my way North to Whitehorse in the Yukon. After a much needed tire change and bike service I would continue north to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories to see the midnight sun then back south-west into Alaska. After a number of days touring AK, I decided I would take a Canadian route across the prairies, around the Great Lakes and finally home. I had planned to camp most of the way hoping not to be ravaged by bears or other scary campground dwellers!

Well it’s hard for me to believe but after 2 years of dreaming, planning, spending and preparing, my epic cross continent motorcycle trip to the Arctic & Alaska is now just a memory. I figure after being home for a week, I best get this RR started. What an awe inspiring adventure it truly was. Any expectations I had for this trip were greatly exceeded! I know there have been many fantastic ride reports, especially about travels to Alaska & the Arctic, but please sit back and journey with me and enjoy my contribution back to Adventure Rider......






Twistn'roads screwed with this post 07-26-2009 at 12:23 PM
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Old 07-24-2009, 05:04 PM   #2
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Day 1

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

- Marcel Proust



Day 1 – June 12
Home > Ludington, Michigan > Manitowoc, Wisconsin (Super 8)
Today’s mileage: 645.4 km, Trip to date: 645.4 km



I was up pretty early today, didn’t really sleep all that soundly. I had lots on my mind. I kind of felt like a kid at Christmas. I felt both excited and nervous at the same time. I’ve done many motorcycle trips over the years but nothing close to the magnitude of what I was about to embark upon. My wife and I had spent some quality personal time together the night before as my waiting bike had been packed and re-packed for over a week now!

While my supportive wife watched on in the drive, I geared up, warmed up the bike, did a final check over and then said farewell, I love you, I’ll be back soon. I was off! The dream starts! I couldn’t help feel an up-welling of emotion at that moment. That same emotion would visit me on numerous occasions throughout this trip.

Today’s ride wasn’t anything special. It was mostly on 400 series/interstate highways to get to the far side of Michigan to catch a ferry across the lake >

http://www.ssbadger.com/home.aspx

I had done this on a previous trip to the west and it sure beats going down through the busy Chicago traffic. The ship didn’t leave until 7:55 pm so I had all sorts of time to get there. I did get into Ludington fairly early so I found a good spot for a couple of beers and a bite to eat >

http://www.jamesportbrewingcompany.com/

It was still pretty early and I had about 3 hours to kill so I hung out at the Ludington beach. While I was sitting on a park bench enjoying the sunshine and “scenery”, I hear a motorcycle pull in behind me. It’s a lady, Corinne, riding a Volusia towing a homemade uni-wheel trailer packed to the gunwales with gear. She was quite the character. She was out for a solo camping weekend along Michigan’s West lakeshore. We chatted for about an hour then she bid me safe journey and went on her way.

The ferry ride across the lake although quite calm, was windy and cold. I didn’t spend much time out on deck. The ship wasn’t very full like the last trip I remember. Must be because it was a Friday and early in the season. It was pretty well stocked however with locally brewed libations! I had booked a motel room on the other side because I did not want to set up camp or hunt for accommodations at midnight.




Good bye




Checking in




The “Spartan”




Chasing the gulls at Ludington beach




Oh, to be younger again!




Corinne shows up










My Ship is in







Loading gangway on stern




All stowed away




Leaving port to the west










Ludington in the distance




Heading west




On the bridge





Calm waters









Twistn'roads screwed with this post 07-27-2009 at 04:40 AM
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Old 07-24-2009, 08:01 PM   #3
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Nice work young man

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Old 07-24-2009, 10:02 PM   #4
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I'm in, chaser of the gold.

My Dad was born in Lincoln Heights. And, Grandpa was
retired in Sault Ste. Marie. Me, California bred & born.
As another 50 year old hole in the soul, I'll be watching.
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Old 07-24-2009, 10:23 PM   #5
Stan Dalone
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Beautiful sunset on the big lake !
This sounds like a great ride report !
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:55 AM   #6
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Day 2

"Our Nature lies in movement; complete calm is death."
- Pascal, Pensées



Day 2 – June 13
Manitowoc, Wisconsin > Lake View, Iowa (Blackhawk State Park)
Today’s mileage: 794.3 km, Trip to date: 1,439.7 km



The day started out rather dark, cloudy and gloomy. It seemed rain was looming to the west. I had hoped the roads I had chosen would prove to be more interesting than yesterday’s ride. I started off on Route 151 and got as far as Lake Winnebago but soon had to detour back to the east due to construction. It seemed 151 was tore up for miles. Too bad because I remember it as rather scenic as it follows the shores of the lake from a previous trip. I followed Route 60 along the Wisconsin River all the way to Prairie du Chien where I crossed over the Mississippi River into Iowa. Route 13 to the south-west was quite curvy and entertaining, Then it was time to head straight west and that’s when the topography changed…. damn is Iowa flat! I took route 3 then 20 straight west.

I decided to spend the night at Blackhawk State Park near LakeView. When I got there I was in for a surprise. The place was a hive of buzzing motor boats, screaming jet skis, party pontoon boats, bass boats and any other thing that could float. I should have known better. It was a Saturday and this part of Iowa wasn’t exactly strewn with water sport recreation areas! It was crowded, noisy with every kind of popular music wailing away on thumping car stereo systems and reving Harleys up and down the road way in. This wasn’t my idea of serenity, but I was tired and it would have to do. The picture of my journal entry for the day kind of sums things up! After setting up camp, I went into town for supplies, came back and had a few beers and hit the sack wearing my earplugs and had a rather sound sleep, oblivious to the outside revelry.

I didn’t take many pictures today and that would have to change. I’m not quite in vacation mode at this stage of the trip. It takes me a bit to get into the right mind set.




View of Lake Winnebago from 151





My camp that day. At least I was close to the shitter!





Part of my journal entry for day 2. I’m not happy!



Twistn'roads screwed with this post 08-12-2009 at 06:33 PM
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Old 07-25-2009, 07:39 AM   #7
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Nice start to your RR.

Looking forward to more.
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Old 07-25-2009, 08:17 AM   #8
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Watching this



Wow this looks like it's going to be a great ride!
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Old 07-25-2009, 08:18 AM   #9
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Keep it up Twisty

Hey Mang, don't stop now. I don't read a lot of ride reports(makes me antsy to go) but I'm in on this one.

Glad you made it back safe and sound. Think Tuesday and give me a ring, we'll have Beer .

Back to the keyboard slacker
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:56 AM   #10
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Day 3

". . .travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."

~ Miriam Beard ~




Day 3 – June 14
Lake View, Iowa > Gordon, Nebraska (Western Sands Motel)
Today’s mileage: 687.5 km, Trip to date: 2127.2 km



It’s kind of funny….. everyone I speak to along the way so far look at me in an odd way when they hear of my destination, Alaska. They learn of where I’m from and comment….. “aren’t you going the wrong way”? My response is always “I’m taking a short cut”!

I was up pretty early today. It was starting to rain lightly as I packed up camp. I took the time to make coffee and some instant oatmeal. It had rained pretty hard to the west of me during the night. I think the entire US mid-west had received more than its share of rain this year. Today would bring some real adventure!

From Balckhawk Lake SP I was going to do a bit of gravel riding; a short cut to get me up to Sioux City, Iowa. I missed a turn so I decided to take the next left. The road started to get narrower and narrower. I recall seeing a sign that read “gravel ends”. Where I live that’s an indication that there is pavement ahead…. wrong assumption here! I had picked up some steam as I crested a hill and before me wasn’t pavement at all but rather deep, fresh, slippery mud! Oh shit! My bike very quickly got snaky and within seconds I spun around 180 degrees and slid backwards to stop in the slop. Adventure, Yeah! I guess it happens to everyone sooner or later, and this was my very first get-off. No damage done but there was mud everywhere. It took me some time to stand my scoot back up because every attempt to right it using proper techniques resulted in me slipping on my ass to the muddy ground below. Finally I just bent over and picked the beast up. I had to wedge some rocks and wood under the kick stand to keep her up. I’m kind of lucky the bike fell the way it did because there was no going down the road the way I was headed. I detached the side cases and set them aside. While gently feathering the clutch and throttle, I walked the bike back up the hill to firmer ground. I spent the next half hour trying to clean mud from around the wheels, brakes, fenders, chain & suspension with my hands. When I eventually got back onto Route 20, I stopped at the first car wash I came to and gave both the bike and myself a good spray down!

I eventually crossed into Nebraska on Route 12, “The Outlaw Trail”. What a fantastic road in the middle of the plains! I found Nebraska to be very beautiful in a stark, desolate way. I found the sand hills to be very different; not like anything I had seen before. I quite enjoyed this route. I did start to notice little lumps on the road which turned out not to be cow dung but turtles sunning themselves. At one point I stopped and moved one off the road but he very quickly (for a turtle) went back out. That’s determination!

I had planned to camp at Cottonwood Lake State Park near Merriman, Nebraska but when I got there I found that overnight camping was no longer permitted. Shit, now what! I gassed up and continued on to Gordon, Nebraska where I decided it best to “puss” out and get a motel room due impending severe thunderstorms ahead. I stayed at the Western Sands Motel which turned out to be inexpensive, clean, had wifi and was close to all the amenities…. Well I did discover that you can’t purchase alcoholic beverages on Sundays in Gordon, Nebraska. Good thing I carried some emergency rations of spiced rum!




Biffed V-Strom






Adventure, hell yeah!






Tracks in the mud






We’re having fun now!











Along the Outlaw Trail






Save the turtles!
















Sand hills, lush and green from rain.
















A cow dog, mooching for some of my jerky






My digs for the night






Twistn'roads screwed with this post 07-25-2009 at 03:17 PM
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Old 07-25-2009, 10:34 AM   #11
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this will be GREAT!



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Old 09-04-2012, 12:38 PM   #12
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the door to the shit-house opening an closing didn't keep you up all night?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twistn'roads View Post
"Our Nature lies in movement; complete calm is death."
- Pascal, Pensées



Day 2 – June 13
Manitowoc, Wisconsin > Lake View, Iowa (Blackhawk State Park)
Today’s mileage: 794.3 km, Trip to date: 1,439.7 km



The day started out rather dark, cloudy and gloomy. It seemed rain was looming to the west. I had hoped the roads I had chosen would prove to be more interesting than yesterday’s ride. I started off on Route 151 and got as far as Lake Winnebago but soon had to detour back to the east due to construction. It seemed 151 was tore up for miles. Too bad because I remember it as rather scenic as it follows the shores of the lake from a previous trip. I followed Route 60 along the Wisconsin River all the way to Prairie du Chien where I crossed over the Mississippi River into Iowa. Route 13 to the south-west was quite curvy and entertaining, Then it was time to head straight west and that’s when the topography changed…. damn is Iowa flat! I took route 3 then 20 straight west.

I decided to spend the night at Blackhawk State Park near LakeView. When I got there I was in for a surprise. The place was a hive of buzzing motor boats, screaming jet skis, party pontoon boats, bass boats and any other thing that could float. I should have known better. It was a Saturday and this part of Iowa wasn’t exactly strewn with water sport recreation areas! It was crowded, noisy with every kind of popular music wailing away on thumping car stereo systems and reving Harleys up and down the road way in. This wasn’t my idea of serenity, but I was tired and it would have to do. The picture of my journal entry for the day kind of sums things up! After setting up camp, I went into town for supplies, came back and had a few beers and hit the sack wearing my earplugs and had a rather sound sleep, oblivious to the outside revelry.

I didn’t take many pictures today and that would have to change. I’m not quite in vacation mode at this stage of the trip. It takes me a bit to get into the right mind set.




View of Lake Winnebago from 151





My camp that day. At least I was close to the shitter!





Part of my journal entry for day 2. I’m not happy!


sounds crappy for sure
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hawgy View Post
sounds crappy for sure

Earplugs......

Never travel with out them! Good for muffling out your snoring buddies, obnoxious loud campers and every snapping twig you hear in the woods that you lie awake all night envisioning to be a prowling bear!

~TR~
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:51 PM   #14
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Thumb Slow death

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twistn'roads
Something is missing. I have never felt such discontent and restlessness. Why? I have a wonderful wife and children whom love me very much. I have a nice home. I have a good job that pays pretty well. I have my health. But still, I’m not content. I am tired of the daily routine. I find that I have fallen into a rut of repetitious existence. My spirit is dieing a bit more every day. There is much more to living than this.
Here is a poem for you:
Slowly dies the one who becomes a slave of his habits
and let the days become alike,
the one who doesn't change direction,
the one who doesn't change the colour of his cloths,
the one who doesn't talk to strangers.

Slowly dies the one who doesn't turn the table
and doesn't find pleasure in his work,
the ones who doesn't dare to risk his safety
to reach a dream,
the one who doesn't at least once discard all
good advice.

Slowly dies the one who doesn't travel,
the one who doesn't read,
the one who doesn't listen to music,
and find pleasure in these things.

Slowly dies the one who let the days go by
without searching for happiness,
the ones that complain about their bad luck
or the rain,
the one that abandon his projects before they start.

We avoid slow death because we do not forget that
to live demands more than merely breathing.

Only immense patience will lead to immense happiness.
Translated from Italian to English by a Norwegian (so don't flame me for language issues, please)
You find the whole story in my RR here.

Keep up your good work!

[TaSK]
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Old 08-05-2009, 01:02 PM   #15
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[TaSK]

Thank you for posting the poem. It is very relevant to my ride report. It sums up very well my plight!

~TR~
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