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Old 02-13-2011, 10:58 AM   #1
Parepin OP
The Filthy Nomad
 
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Joined: Dec 2007
Location: That's... a tough one to answer
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The Rootbeer Run, Chasing the Sun, and other misadventures

So, I thought I should get this all down in one form or another before my THC-polluted memory bank fizzles away into just a color-filled haze. This has been a journey years in the making, covering well over 30,000 miles. It includes adventure, mishaps, bloodshed, and an un-expected tale of love and loss. I don't know what I really expected to get from all of this. Hell, I barely even had a plan in mind. No final location, no goal at the end of the day or mile marker to aim for. Just get back on and ride. And after all, what's a story if it hasn't been told. It would be a shame to let these experiences and memories remain locked up in my jumble of misfiring neurons known as the mind.


We'll start out with a simple introduction. Here we have our fearless (and a bit clueless) leader.


This handsome Italian fellow goes by many names. Alex at birth, I have been known to reply to anything from Al, to Al-Buns, Exalander, Upstate, Road-rash, and Burnout. Hell, if you can catch me in a brief moment of lucidity as I stumble about my natural environment, I'll answer to damn near anything, with an abundance of “Dude” and “Man” being thrown about. But don't let the bad-ass shades fool you, I'm far from intimidating. Quite the opposite, really.


Now, I've always been an adventurous soul. I've had the term “free spirit” thrown my direction more than once. Growing up in upstate New York in a predominantly lower-middle class household, I really had to get creative to get my fix. There were no amusement parks, and the funding wasn't there for any vacation above an annual trip to one distant relative or another. So I amused myself with what I did have an abundance of, restricted access. If I wasn't supposed to be there, I wanted in. Even at a very young age, barely into my teens, I had a fort which was nothing more than an abandoned warehouse down by the railroad tracks. I'd spend entire summers there, and have the scar tissue to prove it. Re-inventing myself as what would become known as an “Urban Explorer”, I was able to occupy myself for years creating a rather impressive database of various abandonments, semi-abandonments, and various natural wonders. With a website to feed, and a crew of misfits, I have seen quite a bit. Been everywhere from defunct city armories



to a vast network of drainage tunnels beneath the city


to caves and caverns, both man made and natural



long forgotten subway tunnels and massive railroad terminals


and vacant power plants powerful enough to light a city of 220,000.




These adventures were often fairly well planned out, including recon and security scheduling, but were fairly poorly funded. This often times resulted in a lot of necessary equipment being jimmy-rigged by whatever I had on hand, including a repelling harness fashioned from a length of tow rope


just to figure out what the hell this hole was all about.


These tendencies and my often overpowering curiosity blended well with the art of adventure touring and would manifest themselves numerous times throughout the years.

Parepin screwed with this post 02-13-2011 at 11:31 AM
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Old 02-13-2011, 11:17 AM   #2
GB
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Excellent intro

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Old 02-13-2011, 11:44 AM   #3
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Here I present you with my weapon of choice. I have here a 1998 KLR 650, picked up off of craigslist for 2,000 with just over 10K miles on the clock. My first real bike purchase, and the first bike I could really call my own, it wasn't long before I had it stuck in a cornfield or being thrown clear with the best of them. With progressive springs in the forks, and a stiffer re-sprung stock shock, I've tried to hit the middle of the range when it comes to suspension mods. The engine comes with a 685 Schnitz kit, another first for me as I'd never done any real engine work before. The luggage rack is welded gas line, yet another first for me, and includes the cheapest ammo can panniers I had available. Quite bad ass, I feel, and better yet the bags are narrower than the bars allowing me to slip easily through most doorways. This feature is much more useful than you'd imagine. Other mods include aluminum skid-plate, thermobob, bark busters, electric connections, and tool tubes in abundance. The rubber, a pair of 244 Shinkos. can't beat $70 a pair.


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Old 02-13-2011, 06:48 PM   #4
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This journey was originally intended to just be a fuck off, honestly. After an associates was earned in an career I quickly lost interest in, and several years of fairly profitable employment with a local industrial roofing company, I quickly realized that I hadn't built up much of a life. With a history of antisocial behavior and crippling anxiety (for those that know me, this is where the ganja comes in handy), I hadn't experienced nearly as much as I probably should have. Sure I'd seen a lot, but I freely admit that I could count the friends I had on one hand with fingers left over. My history with the ladies has also been less than successful, and the upstate NY lifestyle on the whole left me fairly unsatisfied. And so that's where I've hatched this crazy plan. I figured, hell, I've got nothing to lose. With a fairly decent bankroll and no direction in life, I quickly threw together a “plan”. I could have either paid off my school loans early, or piss it all away in a road trip. I pretty much went with “buy bike, ride till money runs out.” I wish I could say I had more thought put into this, but this is the cavalier attitude I've been known for. Plans and schedules only succeed in making me tense. Always with a deadline, a place to be and a time to be there. Fuck it, I'm just gonna wander the earth.






And so the ride was thrown together and the gear was purchased. Having been a self-taught rider with no previous experience, I had the scars and battle wounds that would make the average rider cringe withing the first 5K miles of having my license. Having wrecked my dad's old CB-500, I decided on a KLR 650 that so many people seemed to be happy with. And with all the money I saved over a BMW purchase on something I would surely throw air-borne into the bushes on more than one occasion, it left me with plenty of gas and food money left over to slowly burn through.






Its now early July, 2009. Having just been offered a permanent position in the roofing company as a crane operator, I promptly gave in my two week notice and continued preparing for my departure. Unfortunately, the roof on my mother's house decided to go tits up a week before departure. Being the son that I am, I ordered up a dumpster, borrowed the equipment from my former employers and spent two weeks tearing into four layers of asphalt and cedar shakes. One of the worst, most labor intensive jobs I've ever performed, considering I was the tear off crew, the laborers, cleanup, and installers as well as initial financer for the entire project. I don't come from a well off family, so I did what I had to do to make sure the job got done. It hasn't leaked yet, so I've at least got that to show for it.
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:19 PM   #5
muskeg
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:24 PM   #6
ulyist
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Looks like a good start, now we wait for more.
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:24 PM   #7
AZ_ADV_RIDER
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Joined: Feb 2010
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I'm in - bring it on!
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Old 02-14-2011, 03:04 AM   #8
ClearwaterBMW
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another fascinating riding adventure is unfolding before us
can't wait for me

thanks for sharing
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Old 02-14-2011, 08:30 AM   #9
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Joined: Dec 2007
Location: That's... a tough one to answer
Oddometer: 1,086
You guys really know how to keep a guy motivated. I'm not even into the actual report yet and I'm all psyched about the feedback.
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Old 02-28-2011, 06:30 PM   #10
jimbowie
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Just a great, honest and laid back report. My kind of ride. Good job.
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Old 02-28-2011, 07:18 PM   #11
TrashCan
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WOW !!!.

Hell of a start.
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:13 PM   #12
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It's August 14th at this point, and I made sure to inspect the bike early in the morning to troubleshoot the flooding issues. Pulling the carb apart, I didn't notice anything obviously amiss, but made a point to hose everything down real well with some carb cleaner. I also shot the shit a bit with some of the locals. To the left there was a husband and wife duo, along with their 5 or 6 year old daughter. They were on bicycles, and nothing else. I recall them being foreigners and had some trouble understanding them, but what I did get was that they had ridden their bikes up from California with their daughter in tow. One bike was towing a trailer with their gear, and the other was a tandem with the little girl on the back. Wow, these people are hard-core. I, of course, failed to get a picture.... I packed up camp after re-assembling the KLR and headed back to Hyder. I was stopped on the dirt road just outside of town as several black bears crossed my path. A suburban stopped alongside me and a father with his kids hopped out to check out the wildlife. He looked over the KLR and went on and on about how he use to have the same bike, and what an awesome ride it had been. Unfortunately, he had to give it up when his family came to be. So it goes...




I continued on my way, heading up the winding gravel road past the bear viewing area and rows upon rows of RVs, some towing SUVs of equal size. Creature comforts, I suppose. What an awesome road, by far one of my favorites. Waterfalls, glacier melts, snow capped mountains, this place had it all. I just couldn't get enough, and fortunately enough, the road just kept on going. At the summit, I stopped for some photo ops and to converse with the local bear guy a bit. Lots of hiking opportunities, but I was quite content just laying low and hanging out. At this point, atop the rounded rocky ledge overlooking the Salmon Glacier as it pounded into the mountain before me and turning left in a heap of broken ice, time stood still. I didn't care about the world, I was merely consumed by the vastness before me. Serenity. Peace of mind. A rare occurrence in my catch-all of a psyche.








I just couldn't take enough pics as I continued along the dirt road, determined to follow it to the end. What a ride. Every couple of miles some rutted dirt road would veer off down towards the glacier, or up and over the top of the mountain. It killed me to drive past them, but I knew that if I tried to ride them all, I would never get down off this mountain. I passed along what appeared to be an avalanche detour of the road the cut straight through the mountain, shaving off a good mile or so of road by going straight through the mountain. At the end of the road, I discovered what appeared to be Dr. Evil's lair. Holy crap, how had I not seen this thing as I cruised up and over the top. If course I was going to check this out. Veering off the road and careening down an embankment I crossed the rocky clearing towards the concrete fortress before me. I quickly came upon a truck parked just outside an open steel door. A woman was waiting inside, sitting in the passenger seat, watching me as I baja'd towards her. Removing my helmet, I asked her what she knew of the place. With a shrug, she said “Not much” and informed me that her husband had just gone inside to scope it out. I laughed and asked if he'd mind if I joined him, and she countered, insisting that I do so as she was worried for him. You don't have to tell me twice. This place was HUGE. I quickly came upon the man just before an open door deep within the building, out of which hurricane force winds seemed to be blowing. Introductions were passed and we continued on, hopping from rail timber to debris in hopes of avoiding the flooded pathway. My god, there's a train in here. They left a full size train. Several engines and dozens of open topped cars shone in the dim light of my cheap mini-mag. Sheet plastic had been haphazardly thrown over the engines in an attempt to stave off the elements, but it was of no use. The condensation had taken it's toll and everything was covered in a thick layer of flaking rust. Amazing... I didn't manage to get any pics of any worth, however. The air was full of dust and the wind seemed to keep it all from settling...We wandered about for several minutes before the man stated he had better get back to his wife before she begins to worry. I laughed and informed him he was too late, and we both returned to the surface.

























As the duo pulled away, an official looking truck had taken it's place. An amber light on the top peaked my curiosity and I wondered over to a guy with a vest and hardhat, holding what appeared to be a sat-phone and some sort of meter. He was taking soil readings and recording some info. Apparently the mine has leeching copper into the surrounding rock. I picked his brain a bit and he told me the mine, known as the Granduc mine (I think), burrowed clear through the mountain and popped out the other side at a vacant airstrip. That would explain the wind. Apparently they mined mostly copper here, but also hit pockets of gold and silver. He told me a story of several surveyors that had hiked through the mine, only to come out the other side with all but one headlamp dead and everyone holding onto belt loops like kindergarteners being led across the street by Mrs. Garrison. This did nothing more but agitate my curiosity, but I was severely under prepared for such an endeavor and forced myself to return to the bike and make my way back towards Hyder. Its here that I noticed the wires jutting out from beneath my fuel tank, right about where my air horn was once mounted. Man, this is getting old. As I slid back into the saddle and go through my cold starting routine, my thumb finds... a distinct absence of choke lever. That fucker was long gone. I did, however, manage to find the air horn on the way back into town, but not before it had obviously been run over by who knows how many vehicles. Cursing myself, I threw it into my pannier and continued on my way.





I dicked around town a bit, grabbing yet another mediocre burger before leaving shortly before 5pm. Heading back out to the Cassiar highway, but not before grabbing some quality photos, I soon found myself once again careening down the desolate highway, the place I'd come to be most at home. I stopped at one of the few gas stops and ran into three guys on BMWs, heading south after their own Alaskan circuit. One barely spoke english, but the other two and I conversed for quite a bit. I suggested they stop at Hyder, and one mentioned reading about this place on ADVrider. Small world. I grabbed some coffee and headed north once again after topping off my tank. It had begun to rain by this point, and I just wanted off the highway. I pulled over in the rest area and dropped down an overgrown path towards an unnamed lake. There was another tent down here, and what looked to be a bicycle bungied up in a tarp like lawn furniture in February. I chuckled and quickly pitched my tent, eager to meet my neighbor in the morning.



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Old 03-01-2011, 08:21 PM   #13
9Dave
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Hey Alex. Love the report.

So are we really going to see you in Darby in July?
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Old 03-03-2011, 04:32 PM   #14
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Subscribed!! Keep it coming.

Thanks for the vicarious ride.
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Old 03-03-2011, 06:20 PM   #15
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I awoke to a pleasant surprise. Sunlight.... and a frenchman. At least, the bicyclist spoke with a french accent, I assumed he was French. We chatted a bit as he finished packing up his gear. I marveled at his luggage setup on such a small bike, and he took pride in showing me all the features of what appeared to be a quite well built road bike, but what do I know. He had oatmeal, I burned one and offered my neighbor a share. He declined, stating that he wouldn't be going anywhere if he went down that road. I laughed and told him that's why I don't have pedals. With that, handshakes were exchanged and I wished him luck as he headed south like so many others.






I burned alotta miles after this encounter, fueling up at random overly-decorated fuel tanks wherever I found the opportunity. I remember the road getting pretty gnarly here, where as before it was like any other highway I had been on. Cracked and uneven pavement gave way to seemingly random patches of loosely compacted gravel that seemed to enjoy sucking me and my rig into tire tracks at irregular intervals. Made it to Watson lake and took the opportunity to find some Wifi and send out emails. My cell had long since stopped working, so this was now my only lifeline back home. I also looked up the numbers for several moto shops in Anchorage and managed to secure a rear tire from Alaska Leather. I grabbed a decent meal at Archies and stopped by the Signpost Forest as well. Interesting place. Alotta signs. I remember several drunks hanging out deep within the forest, with obscenities being thrown about with alarming frustration. Alrighty then, moving on. As I geared up, I waved at a passing Vstrom that quickly doubled back and parked besides me. This was an Australian fellow, Richard I believe. We talked a bit, the usual banter, and I went through what had now become a routine tour of my rig. I believe I also made this guy's online blog. He'd been everywhere, and couldn't get past that I was just now going up to Alaska. He seemed to find it necessary to remind me that it was cold up there. Fuck, it's cold HERE.






With that I gassed up and bumped into the Australian once again, who was eagerly trying to find a beer. With a shrug, I wished the guy best of luck and moved on, heading towards White Horse. I camped a few hours east of the city alongside yet another unnamed lake. This is the first time that I really began to question my decision, and it doesn't change with the coming of the new day. I'm riding in the cold, wet, and downright miserable weather. I admit that I don't have the best of gear, and am merely moving from one point of hypothermic recovery to the next. I feel miserable, and am incredibly homesick. I longed for the warmth of my home back in NY. To hug my dog and see my family. To lay on the couch and drink some GOOD coffee for a change. The only thing keeping me moving on is the knowledge that going back won't be any easier than moving forward. That, and a tire in Anchorage.







Here's a direct excerpt from my journal. “It's only mid-day, but I've been doin a lot of thinking and figured I should jot something down. I've only been using this journal as a record keeper of my travels and scheduling more than my personal thoughts, so here I go. First off, this emotional rollercoaster is killing me. I'm finding that at night and in the morning I just don't have the ambition that I should have. That I need to have to complete this little journey of mine. It took all I had last night just to keep moving and even then I pitched camp an hour earlier than usual. I just couldn't keep moving. I'm obsessed with not failing, but I have no objective or goal in mind. It's fuckin with me. Then I get on the bike, all be it reluctantly, and I get moving, I'm usually fine as long as I'm not cold. Even the light rain we've been having isn't bothering me as much as the cold. 50 degrees and no sun is no fun, even fully layered up. All I can do is try to stay warm and keep moving, stock up when I can. The amount of people that I see going the other way (south) has me worried, though. I've been sitting here on a smoke break for 20 minutes now, and havn't seen anyone going my way. Not cool. The traffic itself has picked up, too. At least compared to the Cassier highway. I'm not used to having to check my mirrors and actually having to keep pace with others. Other than traffic, though, there isn't much out here. I'm going 80-90 miles between active gas stations. There are so many places out here that are closed down. Easily every other road sign advertising has a big CLOSED sign screwed over it. I wonder how recent they are. Did the recession do this? “
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