Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown

Saturday, April 11, 2015

DesTination: Alaska Run By JFL & Wayne

This ride was first conceived in 2012 right after the Maggie Valley Rally.  Wayne and I had just started playing around with those “color in the maps” web sites.  We had all the Southern states covered except for South Carolina.  Wayne had the presence of mind to buzz over during Maggie Valley and check that state off the list.  When we got back and colored in the map again, we figured out we could cover every other state we were missing in just two more trips.  Last year we rode through all the states we were missing in the north east on our trip to Nova Scotia. That left one more ride, the longest we’ve ever tried, to check off Alaska, a few other states and the remaining provinces of Canada that boarder with the U.S.A.

RAM Mount Camera Bag
I had a lot of time to think about this ride and there were a few things I wanted to change on the bike.  But one of things I didn’t change was the Ram Mount Camera Bag.  I added that last year and it worked out great.  I can pop the camera in and out on the fly in a heartbeat.  It also holds our daily city list cards and my passport.   But the main change I wanted to do was to put the tour trunk on a diet.  By clearing up some space in the back seat, I was able to fit a large Tbag back there.  I also got a lighter T Bag for on the tour trunk.  With those changes and a few packing reductions I was able to drop about 20 pounds from last year’s ride.

Before & After - Corbin Mini BackRest
There were three things we were particularly concerned about for this ride… roads, gas and rain.   Not much we could do about finding gas stations up in Canada, other than to be extra vigilant about topping off when we had the chance.  No room for extra gas canisters.  We thought we’d run into a lot of rough roads too.  My back tire was still in good shape, just had one 5,000 mile run on it last year.  The front tire had about 9,000 miles on it.  It was still in good shape too, but adding another 6 might be pushing it, so I swapped it out for a new Metzeler ME 888.  But my biggest concern was rain.

Wayne With Two good Feet!
Ketchikan, Washington and Oregon are probably the rainiest states in the US.  I found out last year my full face helmet was excellent for riding in the rain so it was going.  But it’s big and it takes up a lot of space.  It’s the main reason I have the trailer hitch rack. Wayne got a new full rain suit and I got some new Frogg Togg Bibs. But the best thing we did about the rain for this trip was to look at some charts and plan the trip during the lowest average rain fall for the area.  Turns out we never really did get rained on.  Had I known that, I could have left the helmet and the trailer hitch rack at home…

Minnesota Landscape
The night before the ride I was hyper.  We’d been spending so much time fishing this summer I hardly rode the bike at all.  Maybe went through two tanks of gas at the most.  So I was a little anxious about jumping on a fully loaded bike and heading out for 14 days.  Got everything loaded and packed.  All I had to do was sleep, get up, get dressed and get on the bike and go. But I think I only slept a couple hours.  Lol

On Time & Under Budget!
Headed over to Wayne’s about 7:30am.  He loaded up his bike and we hit the road.  Not much to write about the ride on day one, just a full day on the super slab.  There was a goofy low cloud in the sky and the temps went back and forth from chilly to warm.  Couple notes about Minnesota…  they still don’t have all their wash board highways fixed.  And people do not like to be passed.  I’d have the cruise set at 75 and come up on a car doing 70.  I’d move over to pass and the next thing I know they bump up their speed and now I’m stuck running side by side with them.  It wasn’t just one or two cars, seemed like everyone did that.  But it was a good first day and we made it to Grand Forks on schedule.

Day 2 - July 27th, 2014

Living The Dream...
The original route for day 2 had us stopping in Yorkton.  But when I found out Trapper lived in Regina we quickly changed that.  They day started off cold and rainy.  Had to stop early on to put on the rain gear but once we started riding again it never really did rain on us…  just a few sprinkles.  One of the highlights of the day was randomly finding the Geographical Center of North America.  I saw a sign when we rolled into Rugby.  When we stopped for gas I asked the lady if that was the Geographical Center across the street.  She’s like, you mean that pile of rocks over there… yep that’s it!  And then Wayne say’s, We just road 700 miles to see that!

Crossing the border into Canada is always fun.  I swear there’s a big Canadian named Bubby who knows every time I’m coming and he stands in the window snapping on the rubber gloves…  freaks me right out every time!  But they let us pass this time… Right off the bat in Canada we noticed they must have had some flooding.  First town we ran into, I think it was Melita, had some clean up crews and rebuilding going on.  At our very first gas stop in Canada I had to play the “which plastic card is going to work” game.  Finally gave up and gave them a nice new 20 dollar US bill and I got back some wonky plastic paper for change.  

I have it on my bulletin board at home now for a souvenir!  Got to the hotel early, called Trapper and set up a meeting time and place. Turned out the restaurant was just down the street from us.  We could even see it from our hotel room.  Even thought about walking over but we had to go back across the highway… So we got cleaned up, I grabbed my camera and we jumped on the bikes to head over.  Walking out of the room I had a funny feeling I was forgetting something.   Heading over to the restaurant we somehow took a wrong turn and ended up back on the highway.  Buzzed around for 20 minutes damn near lost without our GPS, but eventually we made it.

It was so cool to see Trapper again and meet his wife!  What a great couple!  Dinner was excellent, and when they brought our food out, I had the waitress snap a few pics so I could put up a quick post on Intruder Alert when I got back to the room.  After dinner we went out to the parking lot to check out the bikes.  Finally said our goodbyes and I snapped one more pic of Trapper and his wife on the bike.  Then when I got back to the room I realized what I forgot…  and that was to put the memory card back in the camera after downloading the day pictures… I was sick… The only picture I could see was the last one we took of the bike.  And I couldn’t even down load that since it wasn’t on the SD Card…  But when I got home from the trip, I tried removing the SD Card from the camera and plugging it directly into the computer.  Thankfully…  the camera will hold 5 or 6 shots for demo mode and there was the missing picture!

Day 3 & 4 - July 28th & 29th, 2014

I’m looking over my notes and there’s just not much to write about day 3.  Another full day of super slab.  I had jotted down that the drivers in Canada seemed polite.  No cruise control mind games going on here.  People set their speed and stick to it.   That and traffic was light so it made for an easy day as far as highway riding goes.  It was about this time I was paying the price for not putting any miles on the bike before the trip.  My shoulder blades were starting to kill me.  Bayer Back and Body was becoming my friend.

Day 4 started with a trip to Walmart to load up on protein bars.  But it was yet another half day of super slab before we finally got into some scenery.  Wayne and I went into full picture taking mode we hit Jasper National Park.  We hit a couple of construction spots along the way but not too bad of a wait and the scenery was good!  We found a crystal clear lake that looked like a good point to take a break.  Apparently it was only knee deep and people were walking all the way across it.  Then it was more spectacular scenery until we eventually ran into Mount Robson Park.  It was absolutely beautiful and a nice easy ride. Cruising through the park at about 50mph I got my best gas mileage of the trip… 48mpg.

Finally we got checked into a Super 8 and hit a grocery store to load up on bottled water.  Got a kick out of the goofy shopping carts…

Day 5 - July 30th, 2014

Day 5, Prince George to Prince Rupert. This was the day that had us most concerned about finding gas stations and what condition the roads would be in.  Looking at google maps with satellite view it was really hard to determine what we’d be getting into.  It looked like a wonderful route, a small winding road that follows along the Skeena River surrounded by the Canadian Rockies, but it was hard to tell what we were getting into.  I probably could have done some online research to find out, but we were doing the route regardless so, let it be a surprise.

Day started off normal enough, roads were good and scenery was good, rolling hills and lots of trees.  Stopped for gas at Burns Lake and we even found a Harley Dealer in the town of Smithers.  Stopped in to look for a key chain but no luck.  The cool thing was seeing the mountains off in the distance and working our way towards them.  The closer we got, the better the view got.  I want to say once we hit the town of Hazelton, that’s when the really good scenery started.  After that it was 175 miles of beautiful country!  The roads were good all the way.  In fact the speed limit was 100kph or about 62mph.

No sharp corners or twisties, but a lot of long sweepers.  You could leave the cruise control on through most of them.  Finding gas was no problem.  I remember seeing one sign that said next gas station 87 miles, but we had plenty so we blew right by it.  All in all it was just a fabulous day of riding!  I’d say it ranked near the top on my list of best rides ever, and it was a good thing too…  because we’d be coming back this way in a few days!

Day 6, July 31st, 2014

Day 6 was an important day because this was the day we would set “foot” on Alaska.  Instructions for the ferry said to show up at 7:00am and set sail at 10:00am.  I think we got there around 7:15 and there was a short line. Waiting in line we ran into a retired guy who lived in Seattle and he gave us a great tip on how to avoid the main down town area. We got the maps out and he showed us how we could take a short ferry ride and then cruise around Seattle but still stay inland.  He said there was nothing to see along the coast, just tree lines and fog.  It was a good tip.

Then a customs guy came along with one of those wheel tape-measures, recording the length of each vehicle.  That’s when we learned Wayne’s Victory was two inches longer than my Harley…  even with my trailer hitch rack!     Next we went through the Passport thing for entering back into the US.  Got our tickets, pulled into line waiting to board the ship and then it was time to wait… for several hours.  One guy in a van got out and started doing goofy exercises. I wandered around taking pictures as usual.

Eventually we got the bikes loaded and strapped down in the ferry.  It would be about a 5 hour cruise.  There was a heavy fog rolling in and at one point after leaving the port, we were completely fogged in.  I had to assume our captain was instrument rated.  We decided to start scoping out the ship.  The galley was open for lunch at noon and it was still early… and I was starving.  We had gained another hour when we got on the boat so noon, was actually 3pm back in Iowa.  We were standing around out on the deck talking to an older guy who said he had a Triumph back at home.

We were ribbing each other about motorcycle brands when a short Asian guy walks out on deck and joins our conversation. He’s like, Huh! Me like a Harley! Nothing else! Huh! Then he does the air motorcycle thing with his hands and added some motorcycle sound effects! Turns out this guy was the cook.  He told us the lunch special for the day was ribs and he was pretty damn proud of his ribs.  When noon finally came we got right in line… and there’s our buddy the cook serving up lunch.  He says, what you have?  I say load me up with the ribs!  And he says, Huh! You ride Harley, me take good care of you!  And he did… big pile of ribs, brussel sprouts, big scoop of rice and cup of beans with sausage that was just to die for.  I grabbed my tray and moved on.  Wayne steps up and the cook says, what you have?  Wayne says, I wasn’t going to order the ribs until I saw his tray, so I’ll have the same thing he had!  And our Cook is like, Huh!  You no ride Harley, you ride Victory…  you don’t get what he got………  I give you more! So instead of a cup of beans Wayne gets a big soup bowl full!  No fare! Turned out to be the best meal of the trip…  for only $11.25!

As we got closer to Ketchikan the scenery started picking up, more boats, houses and planes buzzing around.  A lot of people including us went up on deck to take pictures.  Earlier while we were waiting to board the ship, we had talked to a lady (Kim) who actually lived in Ketchikan.  Well Kim was up on deck too and started telling us all about the area including…  the best place to see bears and eagles! Kim told us someone she works with runs a food stand on the south end of the island  called “Cod Fathers”.  If nothing else, we had to go there just because of the name.  But Wayne and I were pumped now!  I had visions of a National Geographic moment with Salmon jumping up rocky falls and giant grizzly bears snatching them right out of midair…  but it didn’t turn out quiet like that.

Our original plan was to cruise the whole island when we got off the boat.  Kim had told us there are only a total of 40 miles of paved road in Ketchikan.  But the new plan was to get checked into our hotel, unload the bags and head straight south to a bridge where the bears are supposed to be.  So we got to the room, unloaded the bikes and I just threw all my bags on the bed. We were getting ready to go find the bears… and I can’t find my small camera!  I tore everything apart looking for that camera but nothing… We even rode back to the ferry to look because the last picture I took with it, was getting off the boat. Figured I must have dropped it on the deck. They let us get back on the ferry and look but no luck.  Thank God I back the pictures up every night.  Nothing to do now but proceed with my spare camera… (Still had my big camera too)

So we followed Kim’s instructions and rode roughly 8 miles south to a bridge that marked the end of the pavement.  We found the food stand and a place close by where we could park the bikes and we grabbed our cameras and went looking.  It was about 5pm local time and there was nothing.  A lot of Salmon jumping out of the water but no bears.  We decided to hang out another 30 minutes or so before giving up.  Right about then a nice lady walks by and Wayne asks her, are there any bears around here?  And she says, Oh yes!  You just have to wait for the tide to go out and they should start showing up.  Just wait another hour she says…  The bridge is just a small 2 lane thing that has the bay on one side and an inlet / lagoon that leads up to a fishery on the other.  The fishery produces baby salmon and lets them out in the lagoon.  Apparently after they grow up, a bunch of them come back to this spot.   When the tide goes out what ever fish are in the lagoon are trapped there, which make easy pickings for bears and eagles.

We spent the next hour getting our bikes parked in a good place, just above a spot we could scope for bears.  We ordered up some fried scallops from the COD Father and sat around talking to the wife of the owner who was there with her 11ish year old daughter.  Apparently they live right there.  As the tide rolled out a few more people showed up on the bridge.  We tried walking down a dirt road closer to the fishery but still no bears, so we walked back up to the bikes.  We were standing by the bikes when another lady with a big camera started waving to us and whispering…  bear bear bear.  I grabbed my camera and started to walk over.  There was a rock wall drop off about 3 feet high that I could have jumped down and gone straight to the spot where this lady was.  But it looked a little too steep so I started moving to the left where the drop off got smaller.  Eventually it tapered off to a ramp you could just walk down, but I decided to jump when it got down to about a two foot drop off.  It was a rough landing with my stiff old legs but a clean one, so I started to run off to see this bear.

It was at that moment I hear this hard “crunch” behind me.  When Wayne was navigating the drop off, he somehow caught his left foot on the rock wall, lost his balance and went down hard on his right foot. I turned around and saw Wayne down, his camera still in hand but smashed and he was struggling to get up.  I came back and said, is it bad? And Wayne replied, it might be…  As he was dusting himself off, I ran after the bear to get the shot.  When I came back Wayne was standing up along the fence we were originally trying to make it to.  Some guy was talking at him nonstop. Wayne said later he was trying not to puke on this guy from the pain he was in.  The Lady with the 11 year old came down and offered to give us a ride to the Hospital.  Wayne jumped in, I followed on my bike.   She dropped Wayne off at the Hospital and then she followed me to the Super 8 where I dropped off my bike.

Then she gave me a ride back to the bridge so I could bring Wayne’s bike back to the Hotel.  She was an incredibly nice young Lady to help out a couple of old grungy looking bikers from Iowa and trust us enough to bring her daughter along for the ride.   When I was riding back with her she pointed out the bear prints on her windshield.  Apparently bears are all over the place to the point of being a nuisance.  After we got back to the bridge there was another bear and couple more eagles to take pictures of before I climbed on Wayne’s bike and took it back to the hotel…  After which I took my bike to the hospital to check on Wayne

I don’t know how many hours we sat around the Hospital waiting for the doctor.   Bur our assumption at that time was, Wayne’s foot was broken and he’d have to fly home and either have his bike shipped home or put in storage and picked up later. About 11:00pm I decided I wasn’t being any help at the hospital and I needed to get back to the room to call Mrs. JFL and let her know our plans might change. While I was talking to her on the phone I decide to take my bags off the bed and put them on the floor.  Then I went to turn the blanket down and boom!  My little missing camera slid right out from under where the pillow was tucked in… I must have thrown the camera on the bed when we came in, and then jammed it under the pillow when I threw the bags on the bed.  At least that was some good news!

Wayne finely made it home in a cab.  The good news was his foot wasn’t broken.  It was a super bad sprain just behind his toes and it was swollen up huge.  The bad news was, he had one of those medical boots on and he needed crutches to walk.  We had no idea what to do at this point…  but we didn’t have to be on the ferry until 3 or 4 the next day, so we decided to call it a night and figure it out in the morning…

Day 7 - August 1st, 2014

On day 7 we slept in later than usual.  We had to make a decision about what to do now that Wayne had an injured foot.  One of the biggest concerns was the cost of shipping the bike back to Iowa and catching an airplane home from Ketchikan. Wayne had decided that it would be a lot cheaper if we could just get back to the continent and I agreed.  The only thing we had to do then, was get the bike on and off the ferry.  Other than that there wasn’t any riding we’d have to do today.

Wayne had hurt his right foot, which meant he couldn't use the rear brake, but that by itself wouldn’t prevent him from riding.  He still had his front brake and his bike has ABS.  The real question was, could he put any pressure on his foot in order to hold the bike up.  As a test we loaded up the bikes and took them over to the ferry just a few blocks away.  Because his injury was around the front of his foot and with the medical boot on, he was able to put pressure on his heel and hold the bike up right.  We arrived at the ferry way early, so we got the passport thing out of the way…  heading back into Canada.  Wayne thought it’d be better if I rode his bike down the ramp onto the boat, so we asked if we could get permission to board early.  Some grumpy dock worker wasn’t to keen on that but once he saw Wayne on crutches he warmed up to us.  Eventually I got both bikes on board.  And Mr. Grumpy even drove a loading vehicle around and gave Wayne a ride right onto the boat.

I wasn’t as lucky as Wayne though.  When I pulled onto the boat with my bike I got told the bikes would have to be side by side in one spot.  I’m like no…  these bikes have to be strapped down, you can’t do that side by side…  But he repeated his demand, I repeated my answer… and after the third iteration someone called him off and said we didn’t have to park side by side.  Then I went to look for tie downs.  I asked another worker if there were any tie downs, and he’s like I can’t give you any cause they disappear at an alarming rate!  So I say, I need to tie the bikes down, I’m not going to steal the tie downs.  And then he’s like, I don’t know if we got any, and they disappear at an alarming rate!  So I repeat myself, and then we go through it again and finally someone brings out a big box full of freaking tie downs they hid in the back.   I probably should have stuck them in my saddle bag at the end of the trip…

Once we got that squared away, Wayne found a good comfortable spot in the observation deck.  He got some great pictures right through his window.  We were way early so I wandered around the boat snapping pictures here and there.  The sea planes were all over the place.  They would make a big swooping corner and then fly in right next to the cruise ships.  We saw that a lot and wondered if that was for the benefit of the passengers on the cruise ships.  Another observation: On the first cruise, we saw a sign painted on the floor on the upper deck that said, “No Tents Beyond This Point”.  Didn’t have a clue what that was about until we saw a couple people on this cruise had set up tents, actually taping them to the deck.

This cruise started out around 5 and had us arriving in Prince Rupert at 12:15am.  One advantage of arriving late was that we were treat to a beautiful sunset out on the water.  A lot of people came out on deck for that.  After the sun went down I thought the show was over, but we heard some people say, whales! so we stayed out on deck a while longer.  There were several packs of whales that passed by but they were a long way off and it was getting dark.  I only managed to get a couple shots where you could even tell what they were.  Eventually we arrived at Prince Rupert and Wayne was able to ride his bike up the ramp and off the boat.  But now we had to go through customs.   I went first and got the usual questions, do you have any booze, drugs, guns, weapons of any kind…  yes, no, no, no.   Then Wayne pulls up and they ask him… do you have anything to declare?  Wayne’s like, well I just got a refrigerator magnet and a couple small souvenirs.

And the lady’s like, are you sure you don’t have anything else to declare?  And Wayne’s like no….  And she’s like, Are you sure you don’t have anything to declare like…  crutches?  And Wayne says…  oh right, and I even got a matching boot in Ketchikan! …. and I thought these customs people didn’t have a sense of humor.   Wayne managed to get his bike the next couple miles to our hotel.  The same hotel we had on day 5 which was good!  We had partially answered the question if Wayne could ride or not, just a matter of how far could he go in a day and what it would do to his foot in the process.  But the closer we got to home, the cheaper it would be to move the bike.  We could even have someone come out and get it if we got close enough.  But this day was over and we wouldn’t be able to answer those questions until we got out on the road tomorrow.

Day 8 - August 2nd, 2014

On day 8 we had to learn a new routine.  I’d have to get the bags down to the bikes and Wayne would have to navigate with his crutches.  Fortunately this hotel had a baggage cart which made my job easy this time.  We checked out of our hotel and headed down the road.  The ride from Prince Rupert to Prince George was simply a repeat of day 5 accept in reverse.  And the good news was that we were starting out early in the mountains this time, and that meant we had this very cool fog rising for the first hour or so.  I said on Day 5 that this stretch ranked near the top of my list of best rides ever and I’ll say it again here.  Yellowhead Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert was an excellent road, light traffic, the right speed with a lot of big sweepers and stunning scenery!  Since Wayne had to test out riding with his injured foot for the first time today… I guess this was the perfect road to do it on!

Couple of interesting notes on this day.  There were no mile markers along this road that I could see.  I noticed two cops for the first time since we’d been in Canada and a road kill…  we actually saw a dead black bear along the side of the road…

Day 9 - August 3rd, 2014

On day 9 we were no longer back tracking and had new territory at least for us.  Looking at google maps with satellite view this appeared to be another ominous looking route, and the day looked to be over cast, cold and rainy.  We had to stop and put on our leather early on.  At our first gas stop of the day we were filling up and guy with a truck pulls up across from us.  He starts filling his truck and says to me, what you filling up with?  I said 87 octane.  And he says, why aren’t you using the 91 octane.  So I go into this explanation about how it was the only choice we had at one stop but we were getting good mileage with it blah blah blah…  and he’s like, well the 91 is cheaper!  I’m like what?      We weren’t even checking the price any more… just assumed we were saving a buck or two with the 87…  but he was right, the 91 octane was cheaper than the 87.  I switched back to the higher octane the rest of the trip after that.

The over cast day didn’t help much with our photography.  The pictures aren’t as clear as I’d like and they don’t do Highway 1 between Prince George and Bellingham justice.  But if you’re thinking about making this run someday, it is another really nice well maintained road through the mountains.  And at about 140 miles out heading into Bellingham the scenery becomes excellent!  There was only one caveat, I wouldn't want to make this ride in bad weather.

It was cold and threatening rain most of the day.  But somehow we missed all the rain except for one spot where we got some sprinkles.  We really lucked out.  Up in the mountains there was what I would call a confused wind.  It didn’t really blow from one direction or the other, it just kind of shook you around, it was weird.  Toward the end of the day when we got out of the mountains the skies cleared up and it got up to 99 degrees.  Crossed the border for the last time this trip, back into the US.  Border agents were giving Wayne the business again.  Several agents came over to check it out.  This time they said, we’ve seen a lot come through here, but never a guy on a motorcycle with crutches before…

Day 10 - August 4th, 2014

Day 10 was originally slated to be a relatively short day of 449 miles.  I wanted to get to Portland because I promised my sister I’d stop in and chat for a couple hours.  One of the down sides of these marathon road trips is, that it’s very difficult to hook up with people.  In order to ride the distance we have to stay on schedule.  Making plans nails you down to a time and a place.  So we had scheduled a short day for today but the down side was we had to ride straight through Seattle.  Back on day 5 we met a guy who gave us a really good tip for a way round.  He told us to go to Oak Harbor, catch a short ferry and take 101 inland down to Olympia.  He said it would only take an extra hour and he would have been right.  Checking google maps now it only would have added 18 miles plus the ferry ride.  He also told us it was better scenery inland because if you take the long route to the coast, all you’ll see is the tree line and fog.

So that was plan and it was working out pretty good.  Had a little trouble actually finding the ferry and when we did there was a huge line of cars backed up out on the road.  But a nice lady in a uniform came a long and told us we could take our bikes around the line all the way up to the front.  That was perfect.  Got on the ferry and we were treated to a Navy ship getting towed out to sea.  That was pretty cool!  While we were snapping up photos of the big ship, the Captain of the Ferry announces…  Attention motorcycle riders, that big Navy ship is going to leave a pretty good size wake.  You might want to go stand by your bikes!  (No tie downs on this ferry ride)  and some pretty good sized waves came along but nothing that would knock a bike over.  While we were standing by the bikes, we got to talking to a nice couple who seemed to be from the area.  They asked about our trip and we told them about our route and the tip the other guy gave us… and the women started going on and on about how there was nothing to see inland and we should to the coast route!  It’s so beautiful long the ocean and it’s only…. 45 minutes longer...

I don’t know why we let her talk us out of our plan.  We should have verified it on the map but we didn’t.  45 minutes in her brain was actually 145 miles.  The original guy knew what he was talking about, there was nothing to see along the coast except trees, fog, I think we saw the coast line twice…  and what was supposed to be a short day turned into THE longest day of the trip 612 miles.  I was pissed…  but no one to blame but ourselves…  We eventually pulled into to my sisters at 8:30.  Wayne said hello and then headed off to find us a room.  He had to get his foot up and iced down.  I spent the allotted 2 hours with my sister which was great!  Hadn’t seen her in a long time.  When I got back to the room I made myself a good strong drink and went down to the parking ramp to give Mrs. JFL an update.  That’s when I met my new buddy  the kitty cat.  He hung out with me while I was on the phone… quite possibly because I had some cheese, crackers and water for him…

Day 11 - August 5th, 2014

During the original planning it was at this point of the trip we planned to punch in home and let GPS take us the fasted route possible to get there.  But about month and a half before out Trip Sealtee posted a thread about riding from Enterprise Oregon to Asotin Washington.   To be honest I didn’t know if we’d have the energy for any more scenery rides but we altered the route anyway.  Turned out to be totally worth it! Getting out of Portland was a pain, but once we got clear of the city it smoothed out pretty nice.  84 runs right along the Hood River for a while which made for a very pleasant ride.  If you wanted to, you could take the Historical Highway 30 alternate route that goes right down by the river.  We tried to do that but I couldn’t find the right turn off and we were running late.

It was at one of the gas stops that I was noticing how dirty my bike was.  The bugs were stuck on the front so thick that every time we stopped, flies and bees and other bugs would start swarming around the front of the bikes.  But at this stop I noticed something different…  a Harley riders worst nightmare…  oil.  It looked like I was getting some seepage and a few drops leaking.  Wayne asked what I thought it might be and I said, my guess is it’s the head gasket, but whatever it is, I just hope it doesn’t let go before we hit Idaho….  The last state we had to check off our list.  I wiped it up with a rag as much as possible so at the next stop I could tell if more oil was leaking.  Fortunately no new oil appeared the rest of the trip.  But I will have to get it checked out one of these days…

After we made it to Enterprise we ran into Whitman National Forest and Hells Canyon. Another beautiful scenic route, great road, relaxing ride.  We pulled over at Joseph Canyon Viewpoint and took some pictures.  Wayne mentioned before we started going again that we should probably pick up the pace.  There was still a ways to go.  So I’m thinking that’s it for the site seeing and it time to hit the road.  Boy was I wrong, the best part was yet to come!  Toward the end of the day we found the most awesome twisties starting at the border of Washington and Oregon.  I tried to take some picture so you could get the idea but eventually I just put the camera down and had some fun!  Wow, got my over loaded Harley to scrape a peg several times!  It was pretty incredible…  If you ever get the chance, take Sealtee’s advice and make this run, you will not be disappointed!

Day 12 - August 6th, 2014

Day 12 was one of those days where I thought the site seeing was over and we could just blast home on the interstate, but I was wrong.  First order of business was to cross the border into to Idaho!  After that, I didn’t care if the Harley blew up or Wayne shipped his bike home and took a bus…  Idaho was it, the last state on the list!  Done and done!  Thankfully neither of those things happened and we were in for another great day of riding! The highlight of the day was Clear Water National Forest.  Miles and miles of winding black top along the beautiful Lochsa River.  Every time we rounded a corner the view could have been a picture perfect post card.  The funny thing was we were 75 miles into this twisting road / forest / river thing and then a sign comes up…. “Winding Road Next 99 Miles”.  Wow, this was another great run that would have been worthy as a destination all by itself.

Eventually we ran into the Montana border and pulled over to take some pictures and a break.  We always like to take pictures of border signs.  After we got enough snap shots we got back on the bikes and started to pull out of the parking area in formation like we’ve done a thousand time before.  But this time something weird happened.  The rear tire on Wayne’s bike just shot out from under him.  It was like bam and down.  Good feet or bad there was no stopping it.   It was so weird because we couldn’t have been going more than a couple mph.  A nice couple on an old Harley stopped and helped us get the bike upright.  Nothing but the crash bars on the Victory touched the ground.  They did their homework on the design, that’s for sure.  After we got the bike up, we spotted a pretty good skid mark under the rear tire.   Wayne said he might have been in 3rd gear and instead of stalling the motor the tire hit the slick tar and spun.  Fortunately, no damage to bike or rider…

On into Montana we finally got clear of the forest and found the super slab again.  Never thought I'd miss the interstate…  At the Montana border I noticed my headlight was out so I found some shade and busted out the tool kit.  Last year my headlight went out on the trip so I bought one for a replacement and one for a spare.  Lucky I remembered to bring it along.

The final highlight of the day was this family who had pulled over in front of a run-away truck ramp.  I’ve never seen that before.  Honest to God they looked like they were collecting rocks.  They’d bend over and pick up a rock then stand up to look at it, throw it down and then find another one...  I was pretty sure they were foreigners, probably didn’t read English so good.  Wayne came flying by and yells out, you’re all going to die!  And then I flew by with my camera, click!  

All Words & Photos © JFL & Wayne


  1. I rode to Alaska on a BMW F800GS and never came close to crashing. I did blow a fork seal which made for a bumpy ride. Costa Rica was harder.


  2. My friend, if only time & money was not a factor...I would not think twice about hitting the road in May, ride North America and come back home in September...


    1. I'll tell you what, then I win the lottery you and I will do just that! Maybe you can even combine some of your gigs on the trip!? So ing as I get to fiddle with your cigar box guitar from time to time... ;-)

  3. That is an awesome trip JFL and Wayne made! I have visited it more than once! Mario, if you make that trip be sure and come by here!


  4. It'll be one of my first stops! ;-)