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Old 06-06-2011, 08:59 PM   #16
lookaught OP
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Location: Casper, Wyoming
Oddometer: 196
Day 2 - Chicago, IL to St. Paul, MN
370 miles - 7.5 hours

Day 2 was what turned out to be the second shortest ride of the whole trip, only 370 miles. I had to get to Hastings, MN by 8pm... so it was a very leisurely day. Woke up, went with Steph to get coffee and food, took some pics by Lake Michigan, and actually got on the road around noon. It was sunny, humid, and in the high 60's low 70s's... perfect riding weather.

Me along the lake after getting coffee:

The bike by the lake on my way out of town. I stopped to get gas just before this and put in 4.1 gallons. It's a 4.2 gallon tank. *whew*

It's hard to get pics when the camera is on the ground. F!

Cruising somewhere in MN. I was heading to Lacrosse to take 61N along the great Mississippi river per a suggestion from my friend Jerry that it was a nice ride... and it was!

This is where I stopped for lunch/dinner (sandwich w00t!). Right at a lock. It was actually in operation at that moment:

Look how effing big this lock is! This is only half of it:

And what gigantic boat was passing through, requiring a billion gallons of water? This monster:

Oh and the bugs... nothing compared to AK:


Cruised for a while longer to some town with a lot of sailboats. Can't recall the name of it but it said that jetskis were invented there on some billboard:


Ok time to get to Jerry's place, where the real dinner was waiting. Triple layer chicken quesadillas made from scratch. Home made salsa, BBQ sauce, marinade, the works. Bobby Flay cookbook! Danke schoen, Jerry!




10pm I was out like saurkraut. Early start tomorrow.

The theme of the trip is "beatings will continue until morale improves." Day 1 was rough: first day in the saddle, leaving my family and dog, hail, rain, wind, humid. Day 2 was fantastic. Morale had improved, but the beatings had actually yet to come...

Tomorrow, it's onward to Montana! Fair warning, the pics from ND are, well, pics of ND.
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Old 06-06-2011, 09:23 PM   #17
lookaught OP
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Day 3 - St. Paul, IL to Glendive, MT (Makoshika State Park)
608 miles - 12.5 hours.

Hello kids! The color of the day is: rain.

I'm on the road at 8am. It's not raining, but is overcast and the TV weather report looks really, really bad in North Dakota about three hours west. Whatever, time to ride!

Less than an hour in, and it starts to rain. Not hard, just drizzle. Little did I know this would continue for, um, 800 miles.


Ever wonder what North Dakota looks like? Wonder no more!

Pretty awesome huh?

This is my "dear lord baby jesus, how many more miles of this hell?" face:


Ugh.

mmm, pollution.


What's this? Getting interesting!




So the entire trip I had been looking forward to two stops on this particular day. First, at a scenic overlook in western ND that is beautiful badlands. Second, camping on a ridgeline at Makoshika State Park in Glendive, MT. You can drive up a ridge right to the spine, and camp with a fire pit, outhouse, picnic table, and a 50+ mile view.

Pulling into the scenic overlook, the weather is total crap. Raining. Hard. I was approaching the parking lot and thought to myself "I don't recall any buffalo statute, that must be new."

Ok, it was not a statute, it was the real deal. Here he is paying homage to the mighty 800GS! Or more likely, waiting to trample my ass to death when I'm not looking.

The view. Not really spectacular, but better than nothing. Chatted for a few minutes with some other travelers.


Al...most there....

Montana!!!

Uh oh, Montana weather doesn't look good:


And after more than 12 hours, I pull into Makoshika. Thank god. It was raining. It had been for hours. Had a nice 25mph tailwind for most of the day, but rain still sucks.


Camp:



So I couldn't camp on the ridge. Not only was it raining, hard, but it was also threatening lightning and high winds. Not the time to be on a ridge. So I pitched the tent in the valley, had a beer, and called it a night.

Tomorrow, onward to west of Missoula, MT, where camp is at a hot springs. I go to sleep to the pitter-patter of rain on the tent fly, hoping for better weather. Morale was not improved, that was the problem.
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Old 06-08-2011, 09:24 PM   #18
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Day 4 - Glendive, MT to Lolo Pass, MT
611 miles - 11.5 hours

Woke up early around 6am to the sound of rain. Ugh. Back to bed until 7. Finally decided that when it hadn't lightened up by 8am, it was time to just get going in the rain. It wasn't raining hard, but it was steady. I had a long ride today, and had to get moving....

The tent in the AM. Stayed dry on the inside!


The bike's tent:


I checked the weather on my phone and it was a huge green blob all the way to Bozeman, which was a few hundred miles. After two hours I needed gas and stopped near Billings. Totally soaked through to the lines, and my pants are not gore tex so they leaked. I probably weighed about twenty extra pounds from the water and left a massive puddle in the gas station to the left of this photo. Notice the river in the gutter?



So the rain was heavy for a couple hours but then it became off and on for a long while, dry enough for my gear to dry almost completely . Kinda looked like this for the middle of the day:



First mountains!


Clearing up:








And finally, pulling into my favorite western city, Missoula, MT!


It was a sweet ride in the valley heading into Missoula, then it immediately cleared up and was sunny and warm. I was even completely dry by this point.

Heading out of town. I didn't stop at all, just booked to Lolo because I'd been on the road for over ten hours already.


100% concentration!


And finally, after 11.5 hours of riding, I'm at Lolo hot springs. Time to set up camp and hit the tub!




The day was epically long. Beside the rain, there were vicious cross winds that had be be close to 50mph for long stretches in eastern MT, my tank bag cover blew off at some point and is now littering the side of the road . On the bright side I have super toned neck muscles from holding my head straight. Many a right hand turn was made with the bike leaning left, and vice versa. After I set up camp I had a couple beers and hung out in the hot springs tub and pool for a few hours until midnight with some college girls , then went home to the tent and passed OUT.

Day 4 in the bag. Total miles so far 2,087 and over 1,200 in two days. I was beat, but one more day through some epic backcountry and I'd be to Yakima and a rest day with some old friends Shayne and Leslie. After so many miles of rain, wind, cold, more rain, even more rain, super hard cross wind and bad food, morale had improved. Tomorrow is the beginning of the awesome part of the ride to AK.
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Old 06-08-2011, 10:33 PM   #19
lookaught OP
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Day 5 - Lolo Pass, MT to Yakima, WA
407 miles - 9 hours

Slept in this morning, and was up and on the bike around 9am. Dry, mostly cloudy, and about 50 degrees. Really nice riding weather... in the valley that is.

The plan for the day is to ride on US 12 along the Clearwater River. This ride is AWESOME and I highly recommend it. It adds a few hours to the ride but is really, really worth the time. My damn camera died right as I got to eastern Washington so the pics are incomplete... dammit.

Time to ride:


Lolo pass climbs a few thousand feet out of the valley and it gets cold quick. The rule of thumb is 7 degrees per thousand feet of elevation gain, so it was in the 30's in no time. No worries with heated grips! The real problem was fog because it gets on the visor and you have keep the visor cracked and constantly wipe it clear. PITA!



eff... yeah!


Ok so US12 follows the Clearwater river for well over 100 miles, so you get to see it begin as a mountain creek falling fast with crazy Class 4/5 rapids and transition into a massive navigable river. Pretty awesome.


Slight tangent. The other side of the river is the Selway Bitteroot Wilderness. What is a Wilderness you ask? Back in 1964 and continuing primarily through the 1980s, congress was actually a functioning, cooperative, bipartisan government. They debated, compromised, and passed the bulk of the federal environmental legislation like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, ANILCA, and in 1964, the Wilderness Act. Wilderness is characterized by having no roads, no permanent human improvements, no mechanized access, no ORVs, no snowmobiles, nothing. Just millions of acres of land without human settlement.

The actual legislation:
"(c) A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

Congress set aside over 100 million acres of Wilderness that bans logging, roads, and any other uses essentially in perpetuity for the benefit of future generations and wildlife ecosystems. It's a legal interest of mine, so I'm pretty interested and passionate about it, and I think it's important to look at it and remember that once, a long time ago, Congress and politics was not a completely broken embarrassment. Hopefully one day we can get back to that.

The bridge into the wild:



End digression....

Back to the riding. Hit some heavy rain coming out of the forest, but only for about 30 minutes.






And all of the sudden... no more trees:




I arrived in Lewiston, ID around 2pm I think. It was gorgeous weather, sunny, warm, light traffic. Then I took a wrong turn and ended up leaving US12 and was on I-95N. My GPS was doing it's little recalculation dance and I was now on a divided highway, cursing my poor choice of direction... wasting time and gas. The highway was just climbing and climbing up a big hill, and after a couple miles there was a turnoff for a scenic viewpoint to look down on the mighty metropolis of Lewiston. Knowing I could turn around and head back down the highway, I pulled over.

At this point it dawned on me that not every wrong turn is actually wrong. Sometimes, albeit infrequently, life throws you a bone that you would never have gotten if you had been paying attention and stayed the course.

First, there was a pretty nice view:


But actually, I didn't care about the view out on the city, it was the original road that I-95 replaced that caught my eye:



Oh yeah, this road:


FUCK... YEAH. Need I say more? Perfect pavement, almost zero gravel, not a single other car or bike on the road. The only downside is there was a massive dropoff at the edge of every corner if you go in hot, but shit... after 2000 miles of the middle of the USA, this road was EPIC. There's a weird feeling laying over a fully loaded touring bike, but its fun as shit and was the absolute best road of the entire ride to AK, hands down.

So if you are in Lewiston, ID, go ride this road. I'm going to go through there on the way home and ride it a couple more times.

Then my camera died. Oh well. Eastern Washington was very pretty, it is big rolling hills of wheat and grains and then transitions to pretty boring desert for the last 100 miles, but after six hours of awesome roads, I was ready to get to Yakima to relax.

Halfway through the trip, this is where the motto rang true. Four days of flat, boring riding with a thousand miles of rain, crosswind, and generally shitty conditions will beat down even the most optimistic rider. But somehow a glimpse of sunshine, a good twisty road, and some fresh air can turn it all around... and morale is indeed improved.

Tomorrow is a rest day, then onward to the great Pacific Ocean. Stay tuned.

p.s want to guess what I did on my rest day?

lookaught screwed with this post 06-08-2011 at 11:23 PM
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Old 06-08-2011, 10:59 PM   #20
Jettn Jim
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Old 06-09-2011, 06:32 AM   #21
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Nice ride you manage there!!!
I like your custom panniers, look like a pro job!!!
Keep going, i love solo roadtrip!
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Old 06-09-2011, 10:16 AM   #22
lookaught OP
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Originally Posted by staikosn1 View Post
Nice ride you manage there!!!
I like your custom panniers, look like a pro job!!!
Keep going, i love solo roadtrip!
Thanks but they aren't custom panniers, they are made by a New Hampshire company called Micatech.

They do have integrated beer holders, which puts them to the top of the pack IMO.

See?
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Old 06-09-2011, 10:51 AM   #23
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:41 PM   #24
lookaught OP
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Day 6 - Yakima WA rest day
0 miles - 2.5 hours riding

After five days and almost 2,500 miles I was ready for a day off. What did I do on my rest day? Ride motorcycles of course!

Shayne and Leslie are old friends back from the old country (Pittsburgh) who have lived in Yakima for a while. They have a pretty sweet setup, skiing every weekend in the winter and rippin' offroad every weekend in the summer. Since I arrived on a Sunday night, Shayne took off work on Monday and we went out on the bikes to the winter/spring riding about 30 minutes outside Yakima in wine country.

Loaded up:


Ah a dirt road, feels like home in VT!


Me:


I used the "continuous action" shot feature on my camera and it managed to catch Shayne at full compression before takeoff and then when he was landing. Very shitty feature haha:



He used the old fashioned point and shoot method and got me on the landing:


Here's a little dust devil breaking up. The weather just could not have been nicer. 70* and sunny with a breeze.


Didn't get many other pics today. We hit that jump for a while and then just ran full speed in third and fourth gear (well I was at "full speed" and Shayne waited for me a lot, he a fast effing rider ) on desert singletrack and slightly wider trails. Lots of ruts and whoops, hill climbs, steep descents... it was fun as hell and I had a blast after not riding an MX bike for about 10 years. I may have to buy one now... damn you Shayne!!! It's amazing the traction you get with proper knobbies. I was really impressed with the power and response from a 250 four stroke engine in the KTM I was riding, they've come a long way since the two stroke days.

Went back to his house after stopping for some wine tasting and just hung out until bedtime. Hit the hot tub one last time, got the bike ready and laundry washed, and got ready for the second half of the trip.

Tomorrow, I actually camp next to the Pacific Ocean. Pretty sweet.
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Old 06-11-2011, 01:07 PM   #25
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Nice looking report so far. Glad to see another Pittsburgher out there. I think the 30th Anniversary colors are growing on me.
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:21 AM   #26
lookaught OP
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Day 7 - Yakima WA to Birch Bay, WA
280 miles - 7.5 hours

Today was the shortest day of the trip. I was up early but puttered about until about 9 or 10am. Lucky Charms for breakfast, stole all of Shayne and Leslie's ice from the freezer, and was on the road in bright sunshine and mid 60's. The plan is to ride Yakima Canyon up to 97N, which then turns into Rt.2 through the Cascades to Everett, WA, then I-5 up to either just south of the border or alternatively, to north of Vancouver. As it happened, I made it to just south of the border, and called it a night.

Entering Yakima Canyon. Pretty nice ride, very fast and long sweepers. Not really a fun road but it was a nice cruise with good scenery:


Not sure where this was but it was clearly before the Cascade rain shadow on the eastern side of the mountains. Massive wind farm. THere must have been 100+ turbines.



Once into the mountains, I came across some very odd town that was eerily similar to a swiss village. It had swiss architecture, very german names, etc. I didn't get any pics of the town because I was EFFING DEAF and had had enough of the POS "windscreen" that came on the F800GS. Whoever designed this shitty piece of plastic deserves his/her own ring in hell. God it was infuriating, and after 2700 miles I had had enough of wind in the chin.


GOODBYE windscreen.


Ah the sweet sounds of silence. A hell of a lot of wind resistance on my chest, but it was quiet. Ahhhhh.

Somewhere just outside of that swiss village:


Heading up!


Ein Berg in Wolke:


So at this point I apparently decided to stop taking pictures. I can't remember why, but I think the mountains disappeared quickly and I ended up in suburbia... and nobody needs pictures of that.

Rode to REI in Bellingham and ran into a fellow ADVer who advised me to not take any shit from the canucks at customs about my bear spray haha. I think his name was Kevin, he was on a bigger BMW boxer (sorry I'm not too familiar with the differences between all those boxer bikes so I don't know what model.) He was picking up sleeping bags on a motorcycle lol. In case you've never bought a down sleeping bag, they are stored in HUGE canvas bags so the down is pretty much fluffy and expanded and not compacted. So he was there smashing a down sleeping bag into a pannier. I giggled to myself a little, had a nice chat, he wished me good luck and suggested I camp at Birch Bay State Park for $5, and was on his way. Shortly thereafter I was en route to the Pacific Ocean.

Said ocean:


Had dinner at this lovely establishment. Not exactly gourmet, but the chef did make the otherwise run of the mill chicken caesar salad a MONSTER plate of food, and there was free wifi.. so no complaints.



I camped at the Birch Bay State Park. I feel compelled to go on a rant about this god damn park. The price for a vehicle is $22 to camp. Doesnt matter if it's a 40' RV towing an Escalade with eight kids, grandpa and grandma, parents, fourteen bicycles, three dogs, two fucking grills, 17 chairs, a roll out carpet, taj majal tent, and blaring stereo or a single person in a tent next to a motorcycle.

seriously? Is this fair?

So I did my best to not pay, got up early to leave, but the ranger was there at 730am (I was literally 3 minutes from leaving...) to collect my money. Unbeknownst to me, I was also camped in a "premium" spot that had a "view" of mostly trees and apparently the ocean as well, so it was not $22, it was $25. Kevin... you steered me wrong! After complaining to the ranger who assured me the park service was "looking into footprint based fees" I forked over $25, decided to sit around for a while to make good use of the toilet facilities and running water that I paid for, and hit the road for Day 8.

So fuck you Birch Bay State Park. You don't get any pictures in my thread. Bastards.

Tomorrow, after that shitty start to the day, I ride north in BC.
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:42 PM   #27
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Day 8 - Birch Bay, WA to Prince George, BC
528 miles - 14 hours

As described above, Day 8 started out with the WA State Park Ranger demanding $25 from me at mustachioed smilepoint (like gunpoint, but instead of a gun, he was overly nice and smiley). Was on the road around 830am. The plan is to ride through Vancouver, north along 99 past Whistler to Lillooet, then on I-97 to south of Prince George, BC. I have three days to get to Prince Rupert to catch the ferry, and only 1,000 miles to cover, so these days should be short and easy.

"Should" does not mean "is" half the time when on a motorcycle...

Didn't get any pics until I was on the Sea to Sky Highway north of Vancouver. It was rush hour on a weekday so there was no time to stop. The HOV lane was clutch! Also I forgot to mention how nice it is to just ride the shoulder in construction zones... somewhere in central US I just rode past mile after mile of traffic on the narrow shoulder, making a long wait into a fun game of pissing off the cage drivers

First shot of the day:


Another:


Make a wrong turn looking for a place to get coffee:


Beautiful eh? I have a weird obsession with electricity transmission lines because of the NIMBY factor and because my roommate Matt is an energy guru who would always point out things about transmission and distribution lines (like "oooh, looks like a 50,000V step down over there, that's a distribution hub" lol. You know you do it Matt! ) . These lines would run along the road for soooooooo many miles. Well past Whistler.


Not sure if I mentioned this yet but my Sony earbud headphones are total garbage and did nothing to keep the wind noise out, nor would they stay in my ears. Consequently I've ridden close to 3,000 miles with no music, only earplugs (after Jerry gave me a set before Day 3, thanks Jerry!). Shayne mentioned Skull Candy brand earphones, and when I stopped for coffee at a very sweet little cafe along the Sea to Sky Highway I was talking with a local guy on a harley and he said the exact same thing... Skull Candy are the way to go. Also, they can be purchased at London Drugs. WTF is London Drugs? I had to ask him three times to repeat the name because why would drug store sell earphones? I didn't ask, just listened and he said this drug store was just up the road in Squamish. Ok.

Sure enough he was spot on. For $34 I bought a set of Skull Candy earbud earphones, and holy shit, they are SWEET. Great fit, great wind noise blockage, great sound. Praise be to jeebus I can have some effing music!!!

Revitalized and rejuvinated, I hit the road bumpin' to some tunes.

Here's a massive cliff, probably 400-600 feet tall, just south of Squamish. There must be incredible climbing here. I'll be back someday... (notice the transmission lines?)


hey... transmission lines!


Nice view:


The bike said "lets go already!"


Just north of Whistler:


A fence with no discernible pattern to the rail placement... or material for that matter. use what you got I suppose. I like it!


Looked like this for a while:


Here you can admire my neck and the newly acquired headphone cords:


The road made it's way up up up into some mountain pass. I don't know the name, but it was very fun to ride and I passed soooo many cars and RVs on the twisties. Then because I didn't want to run into those people, I didn't stop to take pics. Oh well, pics are in my mind. Just trust me, it was sweet.


Yep.


It's very difficult to capture gradient with a photo, but I did my best. It was STEEP!


Just as I was coming down into Lillooet the weather turned to absolute shite. The sky was black, cars coming the other direction still had wipers on, I was getting the "is this idiot about to ride a motorcycle through what we just came through?" look. I got this one last picture above a BC Hydro power plant before the rain annihilated me.


Once past Lillooet the climate, though raining without mercy on me at teh moment, was clearly becoming more arid as dirt was showing, there were fewer trees, etc.




Muddy river. The Colorado looked like this once before we dammed it to hell and back and then appropriated the water to farm in the desert to the point where the river no longer reaches the ocean:



Like van Gogh, I am a master of self-portraits: *facepalm*




It had been raining off and on all day since that massive shitstorm just outside of Lillooet, and at one point I was sitting in a construction zone queue when a microburst from hell decided to absolutely monsoon on me for ten minutes. I was wearing my jacket goretex liner but not my pants liner (that leaks anyway) and my bottom half got soaked. Not wet, soaked. At that point, I was annoyed and decided that it wasn't worth putting the liner in because once you're wet, you're wet, right?

No. you can get more wet that soaked. It's called saturated. Also, goretex boots work both ways. They keep you dry, but when water is cascading down your legs into the boots, they also have the opposite effect of making you ride in 8" of water. Lovely.

So here I sit, 2.5 hours from Prince George. Saturated, standing in 8" of water in my boots, pissed off, cold, tired. I was not camping tonight. I called fellow inmate GISdood and he said he'd have a spare bedroom waiting for me in Prince Rupert, and a warm fire to dry my gear. The target was in sight, only three hours to go.

Somehow rain never looks as bad in a picture...


For a few minutes it looked like it may stop raining:


but it didn't. Rained non-stop for the last three hours. I was soooo tired when I arrived in Prince Rupert I could barely muster the energy to laugh at myself when the horizon turned to this literally five miles from GISdood's house:


When I talked with him on the phone around 7pm he said "the weather looks great here!". Well, it sure did! The weather was great in Prince George lol, just nowhere else in BC.

On a huge positive note, I stopped to get sandwich from Subway, and directly adjacent was a liquor store. Sub, check. Bottle of Jameson, check. Five miles to go...

and BAM! a HOT shower, dry clothes, and a few drinks later I was passed the hell out.




I must extent the greatest, heartfelt thank you to GISdood (Kelly) and his wife (Brianna?) for letting me crash at their house on a random Wednesday night at 10pm. Before that night, I had never met them, only PM'd based on the "tent space" thread and just like that, I'm taken into their home and given a free, awesomely comfortable bed and shower, not to mention excellent conversation and company. When traveling alone for days on end, it's gets tiring and frustrating to have nobody to talk with. We stayed up for a few hours talking and then I slept better than I had since I left Vermont more than two weeks ago.

Thanks guys! I owe you.

Tomorrow, onward to Prince Rupert, BC, where I'll be staying at the Pioneer Hostel for two nights before hopping the ferry to Juneau and then Haines.

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Old 06-16-2011, 02:02 PM   #28
GISdood
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Hey Jon,

Glad we were able to offer you some respite from the dreary northern interior so-called 'summer' we've had so far. Brandi and I enjoyed your company and its always interesting to hear everyone's road tales of where they've come from and where they're going. Good luck in Anchorage over the summer and be sure to look us up again if you return via the same route on your way back to PA.

Here's a couple 'slightly drier' shots to offset the previous day of soaked-to-the-bone pictures:



Love those built in cup (beer!) holders in the drop-down case doors!



Looking forward to seeing some shots of the ferry passage and the rest of your trip. Ride safe and take care!

Kelly & Brandi
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:18 PM   #29
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so far.... so GREAT
well done
can't wait to follow along with you
thanks for the ride
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:39 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by GISdood View Post



Kelly & Brandi
Damn I knew it started with a B and ended with an "i" or similar sound because when I met her I thought she said "Randi" and not Brandi. Then I was thinking back on that and mis-remembered that exchange as "Rhiana" and "Briana"

Now it's forever saved in this thread so I can't make the mistake again!

Thanks for the pics!
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