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Old 02-14-2008, 09:52 PM   #1
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Laugh My 2007 West US Tour



In June of last year I set out on a ride… a journey… an adventure… around the Western states to visit friends and family, to see places I had never been, to find awesome motorcycle roads, and to do the thing I love: riding my motorcycle. I had been planning my trip since the first of the year and had selected a route that would take me over water, through forests, over mountain passes, across deserts, along coastlines, and through 7 states and 2 provinces.
My trip was a great success! I had an awesome time and encountered mostly great weather and limited traffic, and had no mechanical problems or crashes. When I returned home, I had traveled over 7,500 miles and taken over 1,300 photos and had seen new places and gained new experiences. This is my story…
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Old 02-14-2008, 09:55 PM   #2
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Thursday – 5/17/07, the beginning

I had a late night frantically trying to get ready to leave in the morning. I picked up a new set of Michelin Pilot Road tires @ Alaska Leather (special thanks to Doug the tire guru for installing them on my wheels at short notice) I put the wheels back on my bike and after taking it for a test ride, I noticed the front left turn signal was out. Luckily, I had a bulb for that I found in one of my tool drawers. Then I had to do my final packing and pick up the house; as usual, I over packed yet worried that I forgot something. It was well past midnight before I got to sleep.
I thought I did pretty well to get out of the house by 9:00 am. I stopped by my friend, Pete’s place for a shot of espresso and some pre-trip photos. I thought it would be interesting to compare this photo to the one I would take of the bike and me at the end of the trip.


pre-trip photo: me and my machine


pre-trip mileage

I was excited to be underway, but not too excited, yet, as I knew that I still had a week of work in Valdez before my vacation actually started. This was just a pre-trip test run; but because I would leave from Valdez to go to Haines and get on the ferry, this would be the last time I would see home for a month and a week.
Hitting the road in the middle of a week day when it’s a little cloudy/rainy means very little traffic which was nice. Once I got outside of Palmer and into the twisties past Sutton on the Glen, it all came back I realized again what I was missing all winter and why I love this stuff… why I am into motorcycling… you can call it the flow, the zen, whatever; but for me, it’s those moments of inner peace that I feel when my mind clears and there is nothing but me, my machine, and the road. Everything goes away and it all becomes about the ride. This may sound cheesy but the winters are long in Alaska and I really like to ride. Anyway, I really need to live somewhere I can do this year round.


King’s Mountain, Glenn Highway

Eureka Pass was cloudy, foggy, rainy, snowing, and just plain cold! All I can say is thank god for my Kanetsu electric vest and Neoprene neck/chin wrap. I would have killed for heated handgrips! It cleared up a bit as I got to Glennallen which made for a nice view of the Copper River and Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve.


Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve overlooking the Copper River

The weather became nasty again in Thompson Pass and I got a few photos of Worthington Glacier and some smiles and waves from motorists (no doubt thinking I was insane for being up there)


Worthington Glacier in Thompson Pass


Thompson Pass

I got the requisite photos of the bike in front of the falls in Keystone Canyon (for those who don’t know, photographs of you motorcycle in front of Bridal Veil and Horsetail Falls are required when traveling through Keystone Canyon)


Bridal Veil Falls, Keystone Canyon


Keystone Canyon


Horsetail Falls, Keystone Canyon

I made it to Valdez in one piece, but I couldn’t wait for the real adventure to begin!

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Old 02-14-2008, 09:58 PM   #3
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Thursday – 5/24/2007, the day my journey truly began.

It was a beautiful, clear, sunny week in Valdez…




Valdez

… but this morning was grey and drizzly. It didn’t matter, though; I had the gear and it actually wasn’t very cold. I gassed up and was on the road by 8:00 am. The plan was to meet Mom and Fugawi in Glennallen on my way north to the Canadian boarder; Mom was bringing me some things I forgot from Anchorage. The rain wasn’t too bad leaving Valdez but up in Thompson Pass, the fog was so thick I could barely see 50 feet in front of me. But the fog cleared on the other side of the pass and it stopped raining.
I got to the Hub in Glennallen in record time and waited for about half an hour for Mom and Fugawi to show up. In the mean time, I met a guy from Iowa who was on a Goldwing. (I swear, those things look like Civics with two wheels)



He was a nice guy; we talked for a while. He was on an opposite journey from myself. He came up from the lower 48 (I think he said he went through California before heading north) and was meeting a buddy from Valdez who soon showed up on a Harley. They were going back to Valdez and hopping a ferry to Whittier to explore the Kenai Peninsula. (another requisite if you’re visiting Alaska, by the way)
Mom and Fugawi showed up just as they were leaving…



They weren’t bringing much, just some motor oil to top off the bike, some shampoo, a first aid kit, lug wrench, and the Evapodana (I had a feeling I would need it in Utah and Nevada to beat the heat). Mom mainly just wanted to see me off with an “I love you” and a “be careful!” She’s a Kul mom. Fugawi thought the weather was just going to get nicer the further north I got and boy was he right! It turned out to be a beautiful day and a great ride!











I stopped at Fast Eddy’s in Tok for lunch (which, in case you didn’t know, is another requirement if you are traveling through Tok on a motorbike)



I had the BLTA… yum, yum!



Traveling Southeast from Tok to the Canadian boarder was a beautiful ride with expansive vistas and light green spring foliage. Of course, I had to stop at the international boundary to get some photos…


one foot in AK, and one in the Yukon




welcome to Canada’s Yukon Territory

Entering Canada was easy, not that I had anything to worry about. I had my passport but I asked the boarder guard if I really needed it; she said that a drivers license and birth certificate is all that is required (most often just the drivers license is needed, but that is left up to the guard’s discretion) However, she told me that after July 1st, the U.S will require a passport to enter the country, and so Canada will, too (just to ensure you can get back out).

I decided to call it a day and make camp at Beaver Creek.



For dinner, I had a Mountain House freeze dried chicken teriyaki w/ rice that Mom had brought me.



It was… okay… the texture was a little weird but that’s probably true with all freeze dried meals.



Then I just relaxed in the late day sun and read a little. I knew it was going to be an awesome trip because it already was!

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Old 02-14-2008, 10:01 PM   #4
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Friday – 5/25/07

During the night, I was awoken by the cold; I don’t know the exact temperature but I would guess it got down to the upper 30’s. It was definitely pressing the abilities of my bag to keep me warm enough to sleep (North Face Cat’s Meow +20). So, I went into full mummy mode and that made it a little warmer and I was able to sleep a few more hours. The cool air of the morning made it hard to get out of my cocoon but the road was calling, so I forced myself to get up. I packed my bike and was on the road my 8:30.

The road between Beaver Creek and Kluani Lake was in piss-poor shape with many frost heaves and potholes and sections of road construction. I had to remain hyper-aware of the road at all times in order to effectively slow down and dodge the damage. Because of this, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the vistas as much as I would have had the road been in proper condition. I did stop near White River to take in the area’s amazing beauty and snap a few pictures that don’t really convey how awesome the landscape really was:





The Yukon is just a stunningly beautiful place!

I made it to Destruction Bay and had some brunch and gassed up the bike at a little motorcycle friendly establishment…






I had an egg sandwich on brown, eh.

After Destruction Bay and near Burwash Landing I saw a huge Black bear wander out of the woods toward the highway as I passed. But I didn’t stop to dig out the camera as I would have felt a little venerable on the bike that close to a bear (those things can really move when they want to) But, it was the biggest blacky I have ever seen!

Kluani Lake still had some ice on it and as I rode around the last part of the lake I came upon a very long (2-3 mile) stretch of loose gravel/ dirt, which is not fun at all on my bike. But, I made it through just fine and after that the road got much better and I was able to loosen up and enjoy the rest of the day.


Still a bit of ice on Kluani Lake



I topped off the tank in Haines Junction and met another guy on a Goldwing who was retired and touring around; he was on his way to Homer. I thought the word must have gotten out to the Goldwing dudes that the Kenai Peninsula is a must see Alaska destination.





Then, I took off toward Haines…



Up in Chilkat Pass, it was chilly but not cold enough to plug in the vest. There was still plenty of snow but the road was clear and dry. I liked riding through Chilkat Pass; it’s very surreal up there… it’s hard to explain, but it feels like everything is in miniature, it was like riding over a scale model of a mountain.





On the other side of the pass it was really interesting descending down towards Haines and seeing the climate zones and vegetation change from alpine, to sub-alpine, to temperate rain forest. I made it to Haines just as the fuel light came on so I fueled up and parked downtown and walked around for a bit. Then I rode down to the ferry terminal to pick up my ticket and went back to town and explored around the waterfront a little more…





I was thinking about what I was going to do for the rest of the day, as it was only 4:30, and I was also thinking about where I was going to stay for the night. Then I remembered when I talked to my cousin, Eric, a few days before, he had told me that I should get a hold of his friend, Dennis, who lived in Haines. So, I dug out his number and gave him a call. He told me to come on up to his house which was in the historic Fort Seward district. Eric was convinced that I knew and had hung out with Dennis before, but of course I hadn’t. (It’s funny, Eric is very sentimental that way; he thinks that every one of his friends automatically knows every other friend; but my cousin is a great guy, he always sees the good in people) It turned out to be a good thing that I got a hold of Dennis. He was supper cool and very hospitable. He gave me a nice, dry garage spot for the bike and a comfy couch to crash on. We cracked open a few beers and got to know each other. He works for the city of Haines water and wastewater utility. We talked about water treatment (because that’s what I had been involved with in Valdez) and music and my trip. Then we went and had Pizza and local beer with his son, Zane, and his friend. And I met his wife, Kerri, who was also very nice. We jammed for a little bit on his drum set and guitar, which was fun and listened to music until late. He played some stuff from the new Dinosaur Jr. album (which kicked ass! I must get that album) and the new Shins album. It was a good time. If you’re reading this, Dennis, thanks again, man; I hope to see you again sometime.
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:04 PM   #5
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Monday – 5/28/07

It was a leisurely few days aboard the M/V Malaspina traveling down the inside passage through southeast Alaska and British Columbia. I really like the ferry, and the Southeast is a beautiful place…


The morning of the 26th; in line at the ferry terminal, Haines, Ak.


Here comes my ride…


Lining up…


She’s getting closer…


The M/V Malaspina – beauty of the fleet


Motorcycles load first…

They never seem to know what to do with motorcycles on the Alaska ferries (this makes my 3rd ferry trip on a motorbike); they almost seemed confused that there was a motorcycle on their car deck. So, I got stuffed in the back of the deck, surrounded by cars, with strap down points in awkward locations, instead of in the nose, out of the way (which would have made sense… ) But I made it work…







It was a good idea to take the ferry this early in my trip. It gave me a chance to really relax and not think about much and start my vacation off right! I slept under the solarium on the back deck of the boat and it was quite comfortable. I got to meet and talk with a few nice people and it was quiet and pleasant at night.


Home sweet home

The first two days aboard the M/V Malaspina were a little cloudy and rainy but today was beautiful and I just lounged around most of the day and basked in the sun and read the Sunday paper as I watched the scenery pass slowly by.



Here are some photos from the boat:




Leaving Haines; downtown on the right, historic Ft. Seward on the left…


one of many lighthouses...


Writing in my journal


Lunch on board

While on board I read a book that I found at the lending library near the purser’s desk. It was an entertaining read; a crime/mystery novel that takes place in Northern Minnesota/ Canada. It was very suspenseful, a real page turner.



another lighthouse…


arriving in Juneau and a shot of the M/V Kennecott



abstract view under the solarium


arriving in Ketchikan; shot of the Empress of the North (busted)


Ketchikan waterfront houses…


waterfront Harley shop

We had a few hours at port in Ketchikan so I was able to disembark and walk into town to get a few things at the store *chough-beer-chough, cough*; when I returned, I noticed that a Ural-Sidecar, and an R1150RT had got on the boat, but they were already tied down and secured and the owners were not around. I walked around the boat and looked at the new faces and tried to decipher who might be the motorcyclists but was not successful. I don’t know what I was looking for that would tip me off; some moto-paraphernalia maybe… I don’t know, not every beemer rider is a complete dork and wears the beemerphile swag like me and my BMW hat and lanyard. I wondered if I would meet them before Bellingham.

But then, on the last day, I went down to check on the bike during a car deck call (they had 15 minute car deck calls every so often so people could go down and check on their pets; there was a surprising number of dogs on board); I went up to the front of the boat to where the other bikes were and met Dave, the owner of the ‘RT. Dave is from Florida and was just at the end of his adventure to Alaska. He rode all the way from Florida, up the Alcan, and was planning on going to Tok, and then on to Fairbanks; but, he had a flat tire near Destruction Bay and had to cut his trip short and turn around toward Haines and hop on a ferry. So his only taste of Alaska was the Southeast, as seen from the inside passage (not bad, but only a small part of what Alaska has to offer) And what’s more, the ferry he was on, the M/V Columbia, had a turbo charger break near Ketchikan and he was stranded there for a week until he could finally get on the Malaspina. Ruff luck, huh? What a bummer to come all that way from Florida to be stopped in Destruction Bay, so close to Alaska, and then get stranded in Ketchikan. He was in good spirits, nonetheless, and was happy to meet me and excited for his next trip to Alaska. I told him where I thought he should go the next time he was up here and he was very interested to hear my advice. [ship the bike to Anchorage; Anchorage to Valdez; ferry to Whittier; Whittier to Seward; Seward to Homer; back to Anchorage; up to the Denali Highway; then to Fairbanks; then if he was feeling ambitious at that point, up the Haul Road to Deadhorse] We exchanged contact info and he showed me a few photos from his trip. I also met the couple on the Ural who also seemed very nice and were excited for me about my adventure.

It was a great last day and beautiful evening on the boat…




















Night time under the solarium… good night Malaspina…
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:07 PM   #6
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and thanks for the "day off from work so i could ride" day
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:08 PM   #7
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Tuesday – 5/29/07

When I arrived at the Bellingham Ferry Terminal, Cousin Eric met me as I disembarked…


Cousin Eric


Dave on his ‘RT


Really cool camo Ural (owners standing behind)

I followed Eric downtown and we had breakfast at the Little Cheerful and then we headed for his brewery, The North Fork; Eric had to fill a keg for a guy. We hung out there for a while and then continued on down the scenic Mt. Baker highway to Eric’s condo in Glacier. Eric said that he heard on NPR that is was going to reach 85 degrees in Bellingham, which he was not too thrilled about; but I was loving it! It was such a beautiful day!


Following Eric down the beautiful Mt. Baker highway…






For the best beer in the West, brewed by my cousin, Eric Jorgensen, visit The North Fork Pizzeria, Brewpub, Beer Shrine, and Wedding Chapel.


Approaching Church Mountain



At Eric’s condo, I started a load of laundry and then decided to check out the rest of Mt. Baker Highway to the top.



Eric had told me that I should ride up to the resort years before when I was visiting on the R75/6 but for some reason I only rode a few miles up and turned around; I can’t remember why. Anyway, Eric called his girlfriend, Danielle, and they decided to follow me up the mountain in his car. The ride was absolutely amazing! I can’t believe I didn’t do this ride years before and last year when I was bringing my ‘S home. I really didn’t know what I was missing; it was like a motorcycle amusement park, filled with so many rad twisties and switchbacks and death defying drop-offs. I just couldn’t believe how awesome it was. Eric sure lives in a cool place!












On the way back down the mountain, I had Eric take some actions shots of me leaning through some curves but they were not very spectacular due to the limitations of the camera. But if the purpose of this trip was to find the most twisty, scenic, and exciting roads in the western U.S, then I was definitely starting it off right!
Later we went and had a bite to eat and a few beers at Gram’s in Glacier and helped Danielle move a big screen T.V. that she got from her boss into her house. Then Eric and I went back to his condo to get some music for his show; it turned out that Eric has had a show on a local pirate radio station for a while and it just so happened to be Tuesdays from 7:30 to 9:30. So it worked out perfectly that I was visiting on that day and Eric had me as his special guest DJ. Now, when Eric told me About this pirate radio station, I was picturing a friends house with maybe a few pieces of equipment like a CD player, a microphone, and a small antenna; but this place was so cool! It was owned by this old guy named Jim who was an electronic wizard and just loved pirate radio. He had a little cabin back in the woods behind his house that was setup as a studio and it had all the equipment you would expect to see in a radio station: mixers, mics, duel CD players, aux inputs… there was even a way to patch in phone calls for requests; of which we got one (from Danielle). And it had a really nice view of Church Mountain out the picture window. I wish I had taken some pictures. IT was a fun show; Eric and I played some music and talked some shit and even played some of our own musical creations, which was kinda embarrassing for me but, what the hell, I bet all of about 15 people heard it.
We were drinking beers during the show and afterwards we went to Eric’s friend Jim’s house (different Jim) and drank way too much and stayed up way too late, but it was a good time, as usual when you hang out with Eric.
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:12 PM   #8
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Wednesday – 5/30/07

Due to too much drunkenness the night before, I slept in… I knew I would; I planned on getting up at 7:30 but it ended up being 9:00 before I pried myself off of the couch. I wanted to make it to Friday Harbor today and hopefully with enough time to visit with my friend, Quenna, who was there working on a Biological research program. Never having been there, I also wanted to explore the island if San Juan a little bit.
I showered and gathered my stuff together and was on the road by 10:00. I stopped in at the North Fork to bid farewell to Eric (he always seems to be able to drink a bunch of beer and be fine in the morning… life of a beer professional, I guess) He was about to do a “Mash-in” (brewers lingo); we exchanged the cousinly high fives and I was on my way.
I took the 9 to Sedro Wooly and then the 20 over to Anacortes. The 9 was a very amusing ride as it meandered its way through the farmlands; definitely recommended over I-5. I was going to catch a ferry in Anacortes to Friday Harbor but I didn’t know the schedule. I was hoping that I could just show up and hop on; but, sure enough, when I got to the ferry terminal at about 12:30, the lady at the booth said the next ferry to Friday Harbor was at 2:30…



…So, I went back into downtown Anacortes and had some brunch at a nice little café: Juevos Rancheros!



Then I went and explored around a little; Anacortes is a neat little waterfront town…




Look, there’s Mt. Baker!

I soon made my way back to the ferry terminal, but I still had a little time, so I went past the terminal and found a seaside park called Washington Park.



Wow, am I glad I did that! The park had a nice little beach area and a boat launch but the neatest part was the loop road. I couldn’t believe it, it was like a bike trail that they let motorized vehicles on. So I got to ride around in the trees and see the amazing ocean views.




The loop road led to this overlook

I was so cool that I wanted to go around the loop again but it was getting near ferry time so I went back over to the terminal and lined up. The great thing about being on a motorbike when it comes to the ferry is you get to jump to the front of the line; and it was a really long line…



Some more bikes showed up and we boarded the boat. It was a nice ride to Friday Harbor, another really nice, warm, sunny day. I was hoping I wasn’t going to pay for it later having such nice weather this early in my trip.












Quenna’s research facility


Approaching Friday Harbor

When we got to Friday Harbor (about a one hour trip) and just before we unloaded, a guy on a 1200RT, who lived there, warned me about the deer on the island; I thought, ‘oh great, that’s exactly what I need… to hit a deer…’. Needless to say, I was going to be taking it very easy riding around the island; which was okay, it wasn’t a very big island and I didn’t have anything to prove. I walked around a bit first and explored the quaint little touristy waterfront town and then called Quenna.


Juice!

Quenna gave me directions to the UW Laboratories, which was right across the small bay, and I cruised over there. What an idyllic setting for a biology research program!



Quenna was busy with her research and preparing her final presentation and paper. She only had a couple days left and she and her fellow researchers were freaking out doing their last minute cramming. I didn’t want to bother her too much and distract her from her work so I just said hi for a few minutes and checked out the campus and met her friends, and then I was off to explore the island. It was nice to see her.


Not a bad place to live


Q’

San Juan Island was amazing!; really small, probably all of 20 miles across, but really beautiful. There were many farms and wineries and little country stores selling art and handmade things.





The coastal road on the West side of the island was particularly nice and I found a little park with some camp sites; so I decided to camp. The curator (I think his name was Eugene) was really nice and let me reserve a site and set up my tent so I could go back into town and get some groceries and cash to pay for the site. I got some vegetables and cream of broccoli soup to make a goulash and stopped back by the labs to say goodbye and good luck to Quenna, and then went back to camp.


The camp site


Doing my part

The goulash:

Chop pepper…


…carrots, potatoes…


…add cream of [] soup…


…and some liquid, let simmer…


…add camp seasoning to taste…


…and enjoy!

It was a very nice evening and my goulash turned out really good; much better than the freeze dried teriyaki chicken I had in Beaver Creek and with really not that much more effort. I could get used to island life!








Good night, San Juan…
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:15 PM   #9
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Looks like a good trip so far. And hey, if you want to ride all year round then come down to AL. We've got it good!!
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:16 PM   #10
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Thursday – 5/31/07

In the morning, I woke up at my camp site after a very comfortable and peaceful rest and had myself a delicious Asian Pear…









Then, I packed everything up and rode back into Friday Harbor to walk around a bit more and grab a light breakfast before the ferry trip back to Anacortes.


Central island farmland


Gas in Friday Harbor is expensive!

I really had no plan for the day; I was going to ride into Seattle and bum around and wait for my friend, Julian, to get a hold of me when he was off work. I didn’t want to hit the I-5, so I got back on the 9 and headed south toward Seattle. The 9 was fun and twisty and I could tell it was a popular motorcycle road for the area by the presence of many sport bikes. Soon, however, the road straightened out and became more congested and I could tell I was getting closer to the city center, so I turned off to check the map.
Julian called just as I turned off and he gave me directions to his place in Burien (South Seattle). It sounded too complicated so I told him I would just meet him at the store in Burien. I hopped on the 45 and in no time I was in Burien. Julian came and met me at Starbucks near the local Safeway and showed me back to his place. I met his roommate, Matt and we played his Nintendo Wii for a while (super fun!) and then headed over to his friend, Brennen’s apartment for some beer drinking and a movie (Jurassic Park). It was a fun night.

Julian and Matt had a work thing in the early morning, so when I woke up I headed downtown and rode around Seattle, taking in the sights, and trying not to get killed. It was another really nice day. My adventure was somewhat on hold as I was spending a few days in Seattle before heading down to my Grandma’s in southern Washington; but, I guess you can say that I was having a different kind of adventure; a city adventure.



I planned on meeting my friend, Sam, at Seattle Center so I found parking and decided to get some lunch at the Revolution Bar and Grill in the Experience Music Project. Sam showed up after I was finished eating and we decided to check out the Experience Music Project. I had never seen the inside but Sam had once. It was fun and really interesting to learn all about the history of music in the Northwest and it was especially cool to see the Jimmi Hendrix exhibit; they had drawings and paintings by Jimmi when he was young (which were pretty good) and a lot of his now famous guitars, like the one he burned with lighter fluid at the festival at Monterey and the white strat’ he played at Woodstock. We had fun in the instrument rooms jamming on the drums and guitars. It was a cool museum but we spent over two hours there and by the end we were both on information overload and completely drained. But a cup of coffee at, where else, Starbucks fixed that. Sam had to get back to Tacoma and I had planned to meet Julian to go to a Mariners game so we parted ways and I headed down 1st avenue towards the stadium.
Julian had told me to meet him at the Pyramid Brewing Company which he said was near the stadium. 1st avenue was so backed up, being Friday afternoon and probably because there was a game, so I just turned the bike off and crept along down 1st avenue with the idling cars. It was taking forever and Julian hadn’t told me a cross street that Pyramid Brewing Company was on, so I pulled over to call. But, just as I stopped, Julian and his friend, Terese, walked by and I got her attention by pointing at them. It turned out that we were pretty close, so I just parked the bike and walked with them. I was a little nervous about leaving the bike just off of 1st Avenue in downtown Seattle on Friday night in the middle of bar scene.
We walked a few blocks and made it to Pyramid, which was super crowded. It looked like a popular pre-game drinking spot and Julian and Terese were getting drunk. I would have been, too, but of course I wasn’t drinking because I was on the bike. I was excited about seeing the game; it was my first time seeing a major league game at the field. The Mariners were playing the Texas Rangers. The whole baseball experience was kind of surreal and a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I never really liked watching baseball on T.V. but this was very different; the field looked smaller at the park, for some reason, than it dose on T.V. Safeco field was really nice and from our seats, we had an awesome view of the downtown skyline…



…Julian and Terese continued to get smashed but I was having a great time…







Everything about the game seemed interesting to me; from the cotton candy guy to the individual songs that would play for each member of the Mariners team as they went up to bat to the singing of “take me out to the ball game” during the seventh inning stretch…





I’m glad I went; the Mariners lost 9 to 8 but it was still great. As the sun set the buildings of the downtown skyline glowed and it was an amazing site…



After the game, Julian’s roommate, Matt, met up with us outside the stadium and we all headed up 1st avenue. Julian, Matt, and Terese were going to the bars for some continued debauchery, but I had to get my bike out of there and I wasn’t drinking anyway, so I said goodbye and went and found my bike. It was fine, luckily.
It took forever to make my way out of downtown. There were people everywhere and cars and cops and I think I may have run a red light trying to get out of the way of cops chasing somebody; thankfully, they were busy. I was trying to find the onramp for the 99; it was a pain in the ass and what made it worse is when I finally found the street that Julian and Terese had told me was the onramp, it turned out to be an off-ramp… but I finally found the correct street and made it back to Julian’s pad and crashed out.
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:18 PM   #11
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Saturday – 6/2/07

The next morning, I woke up in Casa De Cockroach, packed up all my stuff, and headed back toward Downtown. I wanted to see my cousin Jody and her new place in Discovery Park. I stopped at the Starbucks in Magnolia for breakfast and gave her a call. She decided, instead of trying to explain how to get there, that she would come down and meet me and show me the way; I knew I was close. Soon she arrived on her new F650GS and we talked a while as I finished my coffee and doughnut. Then we rode back to the unimaginably awesome place where she and her husband, Vance, live. I was blown away; Eric had told me how great it was but I had no idea. They actually live in this huge park that is not even 10 minutes away from Seattle Center. It’s like you’re in downtown Seattle, and then you go through a portal to the country. They live there because Vance is in the Coast Guard and Discovery Park used to be an old military outpost, so all the buildings have been converted to housing for active military families. They are really the luckiest people I know in Seattle. If I had my choice of anywhere to live in Seattle, this would be it; there is so much space and it has the best location.


They live on the right side of this duplex; the first bike is Jody’s new F650GS with Touratech cases; the second is the most beautiful motorcycle ever conceived by man; the third is Vance’s F650GS Dakar with Turatech cases, and the forth is Mom’s new R1200R with system cases(which we will see again later in this ride report).


This is a view from Jody and Vance’s front porch… I know, right?

We hung out a while and talked Beemer’s and then walked down a path through the park to the beach…







It was a nice little path down to the water and when we got there, there was this park ranger with a little table that had a sort of science fair type exhibit on it with information about all the animal life we could see in the tide pools. She asked if we were there for the low tide; we didn’t know this, but it turns out that it was the lowest tide of the year; something about it being a blue moon.





We saw a few hermit crabs and some anemones and clams and I tested my camera’s underwater housing (didn’t get any good underwater results so I won’t bore you). Vance is really knowledgeable about the ocean and the various tidal zones and such so it was cool to learn a few things from him.



Then we headed back up to their house and hung out for a while longer and then exchanged the cousinly high fives and I was off to meet up with Julian and Sam at Julian’s pad. Sam, Julian, and I were going to Tacoma to spend the evening at Sam’s girlfriend, Erin’s place. I meet up with them and then followed them to Tacoma via the I5; man, do I hate the interstate… especially the I5 in and around Seattle. But we got there without incident (one thing I do like is how they let motorcycles in the carpool lane). I don’t know much about Tacoma but I thought Erin lived in a nice part of it. It was nice to see her again…



We got some food and had a little bar-b-que in her back yard. Then we walked down to Erin’s regular haunt, a little neighborhood pub.







We drank some beer and played some darts and then went back to the house and took a dip in the hot tub. It was a fun night.
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:21 PM   #12
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Sunday – 6/3/07

When I woke up late at Erin’s it took a while to become coherent and gather my gear. (drinking the night before, you know…) Erin made vegan pancakes from scratch, that were bomb! Everyone tried to get me to stick around and go swimming, which was tempting, but I knew I had to get on the road if I was going to keep my schedule and see all the places I wanted to see this trip. So, I said my goodbyes and I was finally on my way at about 1:30. I had learned that Cayuse and Chinook Passes were closed, which were on my planned route, so I had to make a new plan. I still wanted to head over the Cascade range near Mt. Rainer and the only other way was to head south down the 7 and hook-up with the 12 and go over White Pass, which was still open. It turned out well; once I made my way out of the Tacoma area, the 7 turned out to be a fun little curvy road, albeit a little crowded…


Corvettes like the 7, too.





Once I got on the 12 the amount of cars died down a little.


Ahhh… the open road…

I stopped at the little town of Packwood to fuel up and grab some lunch…



Then I headed up the mountain toward the pass. Partway up the mountain, I stopped and found a great view of what I believe was Mt. St. Helens.



It was starting to rain, so I put on my over-pants. The rain got more intense as I approached the pass and on the other side it was so intense, I almost think it was hail. I could feel each drop piercing my arms thighs through my gear.




Look mom… the Tieton Dam…


The Cascades


are we having fun yet?



I was soon out of the rain and into the Yakima Valley. It was actually kind of refreshing to be in the cool mountain air and get a cool shower after the week of heat I experienced in the Seattle area. But the Yakima valley was just as hot as the Seattle area, if not hotter. So, I stopped in at the local DQ for a Blizzard…




…it was good!

I gave grandma a call to let her know I was getting close and she said to hurry up because a storm was coming. I didn’t tell her I just rode through it; but she was right; as I rode down the 97 over the Toppenish Ridge, it was a little scary to see lightning strikes all around me! When I got to the forest on the other side of the Toppenish Indian Reservation, there was a deer drinking water off the center of the highway, and I had to come almost to a complete stop before it bounded off in front of me, getting caught on a fence in the process… (stupid dear); so, I slowed way down the rest of the way to grandma’s house. The last thing I wanted to do on my trip was hit a deer; so, I was perfectly content to poke along in the slow lane for the last few miles and let the trucks pass me.


I made it to Grandma’s.

Grandma had a stir-fry waiting for me and it was great to see her.

The next day I did some laundry, fixed Grandma’s leaky skylight, installed my tank-bag electric kit (which I had shipped to grandma’s) and hung out with Grandma. We had a nice steak dinner; I grilled the steak and did a pretty damn good job if I do say so myself. Grandma made French bread. It was great to hang with the Grandma and work in the shop and be a handyman and fix the skylight (which, I have word, is no longer leaking)
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:23 PM   #13
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Tuesday – 6/5/07

Today was, without a doubt, the best day of riding up to this point in my adventure. Imagine a day of riding that includes every different kind of curvy, twisty road; from tight, technical hairpins, to super fast teeth gritting sweepers, and everything in-between; and what’s more… not one car on the road all day; I’m talking “you own the road!”… That’s exactly what I experienced today. If it turned out that this day was the peak of my trip, even though it was early, I wouldn’t have felt disappointed. As a whole, it vary well could have been the best day but there were many other great days to come so it’s hard to say for sure…

So, enough buildup, let’s get to the photos…

Grandma lives in Goldendale, WA, which is right near the Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon/ Washington border; so, in no time I was on the Gorge looking upon Oregon toward my future…



There is a WWII memorial on the Gorge in the form of a Stonehenge replica that I have been to before, so I decided to stop and take a few pictures with the bike.







Then I headed down to the Biggs bridge and crossed over to Oregon, the land where we’re all to stupid to pump our own gas…

I had read about the route I was to take in my “Motorcycle Journey’s Through the Northwest” book. The author had mentioned in the book that he thought the roads around Condon were the best in the entire Northwest. I must say that he may very well be right; I can’t say for certain, of course, as I haven’t been on every road in the Northwest but the section of the 206 between the John Day River, and Condon was pretty damn cool; twisting it’s way through a beautiful little canyon with very nice, fresh, smooth, pavement; my favorite road surface! It put a big smile on my face and it was a great start to an awesome day!


Welcome to Oregon…




I like seeing this road sign, don’t you…





As I came out came out of the canyon and passed through Condon, I stepped up onto the plains and ascended toward Cummings Summit, which had an interesting mountain identifier monument at the top…



On a clear day, I guess you are supposed to be able to see the major peaks of the Cascade Range; but it was cloudy, so I couldn’t see any of them. I didn’t matter, though, as far as I’m concerned, the weather was perfect for riding! There was also a wind farm at the top…




Those towers are BIG! I saw a single blade for one of those windmills on the road and it took a huge, oversized semi truck to haul the thing.

When I got to Service Creek, there were signs saying that the 19 was closed near Kimberly, which was on my planned route. The detour was down the 207 to the 26 and I don’t know what I missed on the 19 but the 207 was really fun and featured awesome views and little technical hairpin turns. I couldn’t believe how empty the roads were; at one point I stopped for almost 10 minutes to take pictures and didn’t see one car go by…






Oregon’s a beautiful state, that’s for sure


There’s that sign again… what an awesome day!




really neat rock formations ‘round these parts…


Taking it all in…







I stopped at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and learned a little about the local geology and volcanic events that created the spectacular landscape I was experiencing. This was a neat view of the canyon I just rode through; it looks like a gash in the land:



I stopped in the town of John Day for a little lunch at the local Dairy Queen…







And then I continued on into the Malheur National Forest and over Blue Mountain Summit. The section of road between the summit and Unity was really, very fun. I think my confidence was up from all the twisty roads I had already conquered in the beginning of the day; but whatever the reason, I was really pushing it at this point. There were still no other cars, and the perfect road surface and delightful sweepers wondering down the mountain had me trying to see how fast I could push the bike through the curves. I’ll say it again; it was really, very fun! Today, I owned the road. I made my way to Ontario and hopped on the I84 and in no time I was in Boise. The storm clouds that I had managed to sneak past all day were looming all around in every direction, foreshadowing the day to come. The thought of having to deal with wet tent and possibly having to pack up in the rain in the morning was not sounding fun, so when I saw a Motel 6; I couldn’t resist and sprang for a room. Hell, I deserved it for being king of the road.
I rule Oregon!
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:25 PM   #14
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Wednesday – 6/6/07

Today was a trial. I woke up after a restful night at the Motel 6 and got my shit together. My plan was to make it to my Uncle Nick and Aunt Claudia’s house in Salt Lake City but I was dreading the ride because I knew it was going to be all Interstate; there was really no other way to do it (at least that I knew of). I thought it was gong to just be boring, but I had no idea what was in store for me. I grabbed some breakfast at Starbucks and headed out.
The ride completely sucked! First of all, I hate the boring-ass interstate, but that’s a given. Second, most of it was made of concrete, which really sucks, with it’s constant cachunk-cachunk… it really wears on you and it’s just a stupid road surface; you just can’t beat a good, smooth asphalt. And third, the weather consisted of driving rain, cold, and strong winds the entire day. It was just not a very fun day. However, once again, I was saved by my electric vest. Now that I have my vest, I can’t imagine doing days like that without one. By the time I was within the greater Salt Lake City metro area, my so-called waterproof gloves (Joe Rocket; not recommended) were soaked and my hands were so numb that I could hardly operate the gas pump.
I didn’t take any pictures that day, but I made it to Uncle Nick’s house without incident and at least it was a short day (about 330 miles). I spent that evening and the next day with Nick, Claudia, and Claudia’s daughter, Anna. It was very nice. When I arrived, only Claudia was there and she said they thought I was going to arrive later. Claudia saw how cold and wet I was and prompted me to go take a steam shower; so I did and, oh my god, is that the best invention in the world! Nick and Claudia sure know how to live! It practically erased the entire day’s ride. Yes sir, steam showers rock! I’m definitely going to have one of my own, some day.
Claudia is such a nice person; I was treated like a king, staying with them. Both nights we had an amazing dinner; Claudia and Anna are superb cooks! The first night was flank steak, grilled to perfection by Nick; and the second night we had lamb chops, both meals served with delicious salads featuring a variety of fresh lettuces from their garden. Nick also let me choose the most expensive wines from his cellar. Good on ya, Nick!


mmmmmm, steak.

Thursday, I changed the oil and filter on my bike using Nick’s garage.







Nick had bought me oil and had gone all the way across town the day before I arrived to procure for me a crush washer from the Salt Lake BMW dealer. Thanks, Nick! I had brought the filter with me. It felt good having some fresh oil in her; it was a little overdue.

Then, Nick, Claude, and I went into town and ran a few errands. We got me a Utah sticker for my cases, Nick picked up something from work and Claudia and I went to an art museum. Later, Nick and I went out to look for some gasket material for a bar-b-que repair project Nick was working on. Nick also picked up the movie, Borat, which we watched later after dinner; it was hilarious yet disturbing. It was a fun day hanging out with Nick and Claudia.
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:28 PM   #15
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Friday – 6/8/07

I got up around 8:30 after a very peaceful night’s sleep on Nick and Claudia’s extremely comfortable guest Murphy bed and took another steam shower. Woot! Claudia made a delicious eggy breakfast, which we all ate in the morning sun on their new upper deck. We even had frothed milk in our coffee. Nick and Claudia know a thing or two about fine living, let me tell you.
Then, I gathered all my gear and packed it on the bike.



I was looking forward to the day’s adventure because I was heading into Nevada, a state that I had mostly never been to before. I was going to head across Nevada on highway 50, The Loneliest Road in America, as it’s called.

I wasn’t looking forward to fighting the city traffic to get out of town but Nick and Claudia decided to lead me out of town in their car to see me off, which made it a lot easier because I didn’t have to think, just follow. We first stopped by the Great Salt Lake for a few pictures…


Nick says: “that there’s a big lake, I tell you what”


“yup”


Aunt Claudia and Shiner


Norton men

Then we headed south on the 36, a desolate road which was a precursor of things to come.


Does this bike make my butt look big?


Look mom, no hands!




Utah

When we hit the 6, Nick and Claudia turned around to head back to Salt Lake City and I continued south towards Delta.


This is where we part ways.

I fueled up in Delta and I was off into the unknown. It didn’t take long to find some amazing beauty. The weather was perfect; mostly sunny and cool (by cool, I mean 65 to 70 degrees) which was great for me. The one main concern I had about this trip was how I was going to deal with the heat. And I assumed that Nevada would be the hottest; but my entire trip across Nevada I was fine. I was hotter in Seattle.

The first mountain range I came to was Confusion range, which was stunning. I was still in Utah. I stopped and took a few pictures…









…then continued along up into the mountains. That’s when I had one of those “wow” moments. It was so freaking astoundingly beautiful up there, and the twists and turns were superb. I actually said out loud to myself “wow, oh my god!” a few times in my helmet. I was blown away. I just wish I took a few more pictures. I remember hoping the ones I did take captured the feeling but they really don’t; you just need to experience this place yourself.





Then the road turned into a long straightaway coming down the range across the valley to the next range. And this is how the 50 was all the way across Nevada; long straightaways through the valleys and twisties and sweepers going over the ranges. And nothing but unimaginable, desolate, rugged beauty for miles around. It was a very interesting road; nothing like I had ever been on before. I really liked it, Nevada is beautiful!


Entering Nevada


Some of that beauty I was talking about


Long, lonely road



I stopped in the small town of Austin, which was practically the only town out there and, by the way, had some particularly awesome twisties just outside of town. I had the notion of camping but I just couldn’t pass up the very good deal on a motel room. It was called the Mountain Motel.







Austin was a cool little western town with nice people: the ones that I talked to anyway. Jim, the proprietor of the Mountain Motel was one of them. He had an older Goldwing. We talked for a while about motorcycles and he told me about the cooky people that stayed at the motel recently. He told me he used to be in the vintage Levi business; he would go around buying used jeans and sell them to folks in Japan for a handsome profit. He was a real interesting guy.
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