Saturday, 5 October 2013

I have now ridden through all 49 land locked States .... What next ?

Thursday 12 and Friday 13th Sep 2013 Clarksville to Forrest City
It was another scorching hot day, so I decided I would find a motel early in the afternoon. The first one was a bit run down and I had about 7 others to choose, however they were all stupidly priced! I was about to eat humble pie and go back to the first motel when I went to a Super 8 and got a good deal on 2 nights. The reason I didn’t want to ride on Friday because it was the 13th, I am not superstitious but it was a good excuse to just chill!

Saturday 14th Sep 2013 Forrest City to Lebanon State Park
The temperature had dropped and it was lovely to ride in cool weather, in fact it got so cool I ended up putting on my fleece top, the first time in many weeks since I last wore it.
I headed for the state park or city camping as my good friend Tom calls it. However I all the pitches were taken. I was lucky to spot a guy called Tommy with a motorbike and asked if I could share his pitch.  We spent the night chatting about riding bikes and travelling.

Tommy and his cooking set up !

Sunday 15th Sep 2013 Lebanon State Park to Maryville
Lovely days ride, weather was nice and cool and I just enjoyed the views as I rode towards Maryville, I had decided to spend the night there in preparation for “Riding the Dragon” a famous road.
Again I struggled to find a decent motel and once again the light was fading so I settled for a rundown motel. It was filthy! And I struggled to get a decent sleep.

Monday 16th Sep 2013 Maryville to Maryville !
Well I got up and headed for the “Tail of the Dragon” road at Deals Gap. To be honest this road is really hyped up but I struggled to find why people think it’s so good? When I finished the 11 miles and 318 curves I thought, what's the big deal? To be honest I think the “Beartooth pass” was way better!
So just to make sure I didn’t miss anything I decided to ride it in reverse, hence ending back up in Maryville but at a nicer cleaner motel.

Posing with the Dragon :-)

Tuesday 17th Sep 2013 Maryville to Hendersonville North Carolina
Well after a really good sleep, in fact I slept till almost 9 and nearly missed the breakfast! I set off once more to do the Dragon, this time with a bit more pace. It was enjoyable but then I took 28 South and that just blew me away. A speed limit of 55, I was able to really get some decent riding in. It was also twisty and the trees are just starting to shred their leaves so it was a spectacular ride.
Found a decent motel as it looked like it was going to rain, anyway I got the price down from $75 to $48 all because I had a coupon for another motel (which had no smoking rooms available) however the lady on the desk honoured it. I am just thinking about booking another night here and chilling as my shoulder problem has not gone away (I think I am just becoming used to it!).

Wednesday 18th Sep 2013 Hendersonville North Carolina
Managed to get another good deal on this motel so decided to stop for another night and just chill for the day. Had a short ride around town and a look at the mall, then remembered I don’t have any room on the bike to buy anything!

Thursday 19th and Friday 20th Sep 2013 Hendersonville to Charleston South Carolina
Again with the motel coupon book I managed to get a great deal on a room for 2 nights as I intended to visit the naval museum. I was lucky at the museum as they car park guy let me in for free, saving me $5 and the museum gave me a military discount. I have to say, this was one of the most interesting places I have been. I spent hours just wandering around looking at all the exhibits on display.
My last 49th State of the USA :-)

Saturday 21st Sep 2013 Charleston to Lake City Florida
Well this was the day that I rode through my 49th state... Georgia. As I stopped to take a picture at the state line I realised that this trip had taken almost 21,000 miles and 4 months to complete and what a journey it had been!
I rode quickly through Georgia as the weather was starting to look a bit stormy and ended up in Lake City, where I had stayed last year. When Doug came to the rescue with a second hand rear tyre as mine had lost a huge chunk out of it!

Sunday 22nd Sep 2013 Lake City to Punta Gorda

Well I awoke to big black storm clouds but it was really hot so I put off wearing my waterproofs until I found myself on the hard shoulder putting them on before hitting a torrential rain storm, complete with lots of thunder and lightning.
I was lucky and south of Tampa the weather started to clear for my final leg back to Doug’s house in Punta Gorda, where I am currently putting up my feet and resting J

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

only 4 more states and then I have ridden them all

I didnt realise how long it had been since I last updated my blog!

Thursday 22nd Aug Cleveland Motel
I was due to check out and get my bike sorted out, however heavy rain was forecast so I booked another night at the motel. I did wake up to heavy rain so I rang the garage and arranged to get the bike done on Friday, however by the afternoon it had brightened up so I re-arranged the bike work and by 6 my bike had a new chain and sprocket and a new rear tyre. Later I checked my service log book and I had only got 11,000 miles out of the rear, normally I would get close to 14,000 but I figured the rough roads of Alaska had reduced the tyre life.

new chain and sprockets and new tyre.... time to get back on the road

Friday 23rd Aug Cleveland to Niagara Falls State park Camped
It felt great to be back on the road and I decided I would not use the toll roads and take the back roads instead. I made it to Niagara falls in good time but really struggled to find a campsite. In the end I ended up in a state park. While trying to get a good deal with my veterans status, the owner took me to a site which was being re-developed. To me there was nothing wrong with it, yes the ground was a bit bumpy but I managed to find a nice flat spot for my tent. The owner let me have the site for free, I was well chuffed !

Saturday 24th Aug Niagara state park to Bridgeport Camped
I headed off to the falls early only to find all the local car parks were full. I did have a stroke of luck and spot a free 2 hour parking spot. That was ideal as I only wanted to view the falls and then get off.
I have to say, the falls were truly spectacular but I was a little dismayed at the amount of tourist tats selling everything and anything! Also the crowds were a bit too much for me, give me Zion National park any day!
Again I was struggling to find a campsite in New York State, I must have been looking for almost 3 hours when I found a Kayak club that the owner kindly let me stay the night. In the morning they brought me coffee and a doughnut which was a very nice surprise !

Posing at Niagara falls

Sunday 25th Aug Bridgeport to Albany Motel
I was desperate for a shower so I grabbed a cheap motel and got clean again. I rode some fantastic forest roads through the Adirondack Mountains.

Monday 26th Aug Albany to Keene Camped
Well I haven’t been keeping my journal up to date, so I am having to back over my maps and try and work out where the hell I have been staying these last few days, I think my mind has been so focused on getting through all the states I have overlooked the fact I can’t remember where I have been!
I think this is were I was looking for a campsite and could only find $44 ones, I did eventually find one and it was $27, so when I got my wallet out the owner told me to put it away and it was on the house!

Tuesday 27th Aug Keene to Concord Motel
Found a cheap motel and settled down to get some washing done. I also think I had a problem with charging my laptop on the motorbike, yes I think that was the reason for a motel, to charge my laptop up.

Wednesday 28th Aug  Concord to Monroe Motel
For the first time in a long time I hit bad weather, it was really hot in the morning and by the afternoon the sky was full of big black clouds. So I opted for a motel and stopped early to miss most of the bad weather.

Thursday 29th Aug Monroe to Lancaster Camped
Well I headed towards Lancaster Pennsylvania, where they film the Amish Mafia in the hope to see some Amish people, well I managed to see 2 ! I think maybe they were all out in the fields working hard.
I ended up once again struggling to find a campsite or cheap motel, in the end I ended up in a state park campground. It was so humid I just lay on my bed in my undies sweating like I was in a sauna!

I have struggled with pain and numbness in my right hand and shoulder in the past few days, I think I might have a trapped nerve as Deep Heat helps relieve it. I think I will have a week somewhere cheap when I head back Westward.

Friday 30th Aug Lancaster to Bowie Motel
I had to settle for a high end Motel as the heat and humidity was just killing me! It seemed lovely to be in a posh motel until I got into bed and noticed blood stains on the pillow, when I reported it in the morning the only girl on the front desk just couldn’t give a shit!
I asked to speak to a manager only to be told there was no manager on at the weekend. I have emailed them and await to hear from them.

The blood stain! still heard nothing from my email

Saturday 31st Aug Bowie to Front Royal Motel
I took a ride through Washington DC with a view of seeing the White House, I never really thought about it but riding a fully loaded bike into a Secret Service gatepost just outside the White House wasn’t really a good idea!
The guys were great once they moved me back onto the road.

the closet I could get to the White House

The ride through Washington was really quiet and I was pleasantly surprised. Then I headed West to Virginia. By 2 in the afternoon the humidity was killing me, not to mention my right arm was playing up despite doing stretching exercise. So I had an early finish and got a cheap motel, at least the bedding was clean here!

Sunday 1st September  decided to have another night at this motel, hopefully to sort out my shoulder problem

Monday 2nd September Front Royal to Anderson
It was labor day here and I thought the roads would be really busy but they were not. I took the Skyline drive through the Shenandoah Park, it was a nice ride but it had a blanket 35 MPH speed limit, which was a great shame as it had some fantastic twisty corners.

Stunning views from Skyline Drive

I once again struggled to find somewhere to camp. Eventually around 7 I found a campsite, just after setting up my tent and getting my tea on I noticed the railway line across the river from me. Of course the trains ran all night long and I could swear that some of them had more than 200 carriages on them. On top of it all, it was so humid all I could do was lie in my undies and sweat a lot !

The ground shook every time a train passed!

Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th Anderson to Charleston
I managed to find a cheap clean motel and booked for 2 nights in the hope I can sort out this dammed shoulder problem, its causing me real pain as I ride and sometimes it feels like the whole arm goes to sleep. My arm is still playing up so I have booked a 3rd night and not riding the bike to see if the rest helps.

Friday 6th Sep 2013 Charleston to Evansville
Well after resting up for a few days and doing lots of stretching I found out that it didn’t help one bit! My arm still freezes up and is very painful, so I have decided where possible to stick to the interstate roads, that way I can put my throttle lock on and stretch my arm off on the go. Mind you I am getting some strange stares off the other drivers!
I also thought it was cooler and decided to save money and camp, how wrong I was, it was like a sauna again in the tent and in the morning the tent was soaking due to the heavy overnight dew.

Saturday 7th Sep 2013 Evansville to St Clair
Well it was hot and sticky this morning so I got on the road early, at least once on the interstates I was able to ride and stay fairly cool until I hit really bad traffic in St Louis. They were doing bridge works and the traffic was at a standstill. As it hit almost 90 degrees I decided to ride the outside hard shoulder, it was either that or faint from the heat.
Managed to find a decent motel, which I thought was cheap but because I had a room with a fridge and microwave she charged me an extra $5! I was a bit pissed at that and wished I had looked elsewhere now. Still I suppose it’s better than lying in the tent sweating the night away. The weather looks like it’s going to get even hotter in the next few days!

Another state added to the list

Sunday  8th  and Monday 9th Sep 2013, St Clair to Springfield
I woke up to rain! First in many months, so I decided to stick my waterproofs on and brave it out. Luckily the rain dried up within 30 minutes and I was soon whizzing down the road towards Kansas but the heat started to become unbearable again. So it was an early finish and I was still in Missouri. The motel was nice and clean and decided to stay another night, hoping that my shoulder and hand would have a chance to sort its self out.

Tuesday 10th Sep 2013, Springfield to Joplin
Well I made it to Kansas, I was intending to ride a bit further West before heading back East but to be honest, Kansas was so boring! Roads as straight as rulers and only crop fields to look at. So after riding 70 miles in Kansas it was time to ride back East. Stayed in a dingy motel rang by Indians, I must say I was impressed with the security, 2 bits of wood jammed together to prevent the bathroom window to be opened!

Wednesday 11th Sep 2013 Joplin to Clarksville Arkansas

I decided I would venture back towards Kansas and ride into Oklahoma on the old route 66, to be honest, it looked like most of the smaller back roads I have been riding.
The temp just got hotter and hotter, it was soon in the 90’s and then it looked like a thunderstorm was coming through however it turned out to be only a few drops of rain. Any way’s I decided to stop early and got a decent motel with cheap washing machine so it was time to catch up on the laundry. 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Go East young man!!!

Monday 12th Aug Sturgis to Murdo
Having spent a week camping it took me a while to get my head around packing up and getting on the move again! I took a slow ride out of Sturgis and headed for an air museum, I was looking for the Minuteman missile sites but I couldn’t find them.  Stayed on the interstate just to make up some miles and ended up in a lovely town, found a cheap motel and it was lovely to sleep in a proper bed after a week of using the tent!

Tuesday 13th Aug Murdo to Magnolia
I once again took to the interstate, theres not a great deal to see here so its best just to make up some miles. Found a lovely quiet city campsite, it only had a couple of RV’s and I was the only one camping.

Wednesday 14th Aug Magnolia to Nashua
I came off the interstate and headed out on some smaller roads. Again, theres not a great deal to see around here. I did stay at a city park for $12, which was just on the side of a lake and was a bargain. On the way out of town I stopped to see the Little Brown Church, quite quaint and well worth the stop.

Thursday 15th Aug Nashua to Maquoketa
Taking to the back roads I decided I would nip into Winconsin for about 70 miles to add that state to my ever growing list of states completed.
Once again I ended up camping in a small city park for $5, the days are still quite hot but hardly any cloud cover in the nights mean the nights are getting colder and the tent and bike has condensation on them in the mornings.

Friday 16th Aug Maquoketa to Chicago
I made my way to Chicago to meet up with Pete the Polish guy I had met in Alaska. I was not prepared for city traffic and the temps were close to 30 degrees!
To top it all, one of the roads to Petes house was closed for traffic, so I managed after 20 minutes to work out a detour and finally got to Pete’s house.
A quick beer and lovely Chinese takeaway and we were in his car and heading for downtown Chicago, even at 9 at night the traffic was still a nightmare!

Saturday 17th Aug Chicago
Pete had to go to work but his mother kindly offered me a room for the night. So I just chilled out for most of the day.

Sunday 18th Aug Chicago to Angola
I decided that Sunday was probably the best day to try and escape the city traffic and it was a good decision as the roads were quiet.
Again I took a detour to Michigan to tick off another state, I was going to stay there for the night but all the motels in Michigan are non smoking rooms. So I rode another 90 mile into Indiania and found a smoking motel, however it turns out that in Indiania you cannot buy beer on a Sunday! Luckily I had a couple of cans in my bags.

Monday 19th Aug Angola to Cleveland
I really needed a new rear tyre as the roads in Alaska are so rough and have taken their toll on my rear tyre. I could not find anywhere in Chicago so my search took me to a bike shop in Cleveland.
Also on the repair list was a new chain and sprockets, which after 31,000 miles are still fairly good but the front sprocket is showing signs of wear. I thought while the rear wheel was off I might as well get a new chain and sprocket, The front tyre is still good for another 7,000 miles.
Anyways, the shop couldn’t get the parts till Thursday so I booked into a cheapish motel but the wifi wouldn’t work in my room, so in the morning I went off in search of a cheap motel with working wifi.

Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st Aug Cleveland
Well managed to find a cheap motel with working wifi and booked 2 nights, spent some time doing laundry and sorting out my bags and the just chilling.

Wednesday I had a skype session with my mate Tony and caught up with all the news and gossip from back home.
Later in the afternoon I took a ride to downtown and spent a few hours visiting a submarine, it was really interesting but I don’t think I could have lived on one, I feel too restricted in them.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The clock keeps ticking

Tuesday 30th July Glenns Ferry to Jackson
A long days ride to Jackson just outside the Grand Teton National Park, I managed to persuade the lady at the campsite that my Veterans status was good for the parks and got a half price campsite.

Grand Teton near Yellowstone Park

Wednesday 31st July Jackson to West Yellowstone
I decided I would ride through the grand teton and head to the motel I stayed at last year. I was surprised at the heavy traffic on the roads! Some of the views as I rode along were truly outstanding. The old lady at the motel remembered me from last year and gave me the room at the same price, I was surprised because I was expecting a much higher rate as its high season at the moment. Spent some time in the launderette catching up on some much needed washing!

One of the many spectacular views in Yellowstone Park

Thursday 1st Aug West Yellowstone to Billings
I took the Northern route through Yellowstone Park, there was some construction but the views once again were spectacular. I also got to ride the Beartooth Pass, at 10,994 feet it was a new altitude record for me. Tried to get a motel in Billings but they were all well over a 100 dollars, ended up camping for a staggering $37! But it was late and a storm was brewing. The storm blew in and almost took my tarp away, for 30 minutes I held onto it as it had ripped out the back guy rope! It was the longest 30 minutes of my life!

on top of Beartooth pass, a new altitude record for me

Friday 2nd Aug West Yellowstone to Forsyth
I spent most of the day doing tourist things, first I visited a museum and enjoyed walking around and seeing how life was back in the 1800’s. Then I went on the Last stand hill, where Custer and his men had fallen. Spent most of the afternoon there. Ended up camping in a city park for $12, lovely site but no showers and drop toilets!

Saturday 3rd Aug Forsyth to Buffalo South Dakota
I was hoping to make Sturgis today but ended up chatting to many people on the way, so the progress was slow. I ended up shelling out $60 for a motel room but I was glad I did as big storms have blown in and its raining like mad!

Sunday 4th – Monday 12th Aug Sturgis Rally
Wow what a week, I arrived on Sunday afternoon after riding through Sturgis main street with what appeared to be a thousand bikers! However I later heard it was over 400,000 bikers or almost half a million people in Sturgis, a town of normally 6,600!
I spent the first night on the titty alley, a strip where the girls show off their boobs and some where showing a lot more!

Main Street Stugis, bikes as far as the eye can see!

I stayed at this campground just outside Sturgis, Its a great campground with lots of friendly staff to help you.

Monday morning was quite a sad moment, as Fritz had found me a really quiet spot in the campground I was sitting having a coffee when medics turned up at a tent no more than 100 feet from me. It was apparent when the Sherriff turned up that this was a fatal incident, I watched with sadness as they took the body away. It turns out that it was a 58 year old guy who had passed away in his sleep with a suspected heart attack. RIP unknown brother and ride to heaven.
So it got me thinking, Life is like a clock and no one knows when the clock will stop ticking!

RIP unknown Brother

The rest of the week has been spent taking the bus into town and just soaking up the atmosphere of the rally. The town is totally packed and has hundreds of stalls to look at. I really enjoyed taking to a lady who was running the tourist booth, she had travelled as well and it was great swapping travelling storys.
I also decided to replace my broken but trusty tomtom rider after 8 years it had decided that it had enough. I wanted to get another tomtom but none of the units had an SD slot, so I have turned to the dark side and now own a Garmin! Its not to bad but I am having to get used to the different functions.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Back in the USA

 I forgot to mention the motorbike dealer in Oregon City, well I did mention it but only referred to it as a local bike shop I got my tyres changed in!
So heres a big shout out to Aaron at Apex Sports Oregon City
Great guys and a fantastic service :-)

Sunday 14th July : 150 miles, Haynes Junction to Whitehorse
Short ride as I wanted to spend some more time in Whitehorse, not only did I stay at the same camp site I used the same pitch place as last time. Spent some time exploring Whitehorse and stocking up on fresh food. Gutted as I lost my veterans badge!

Monday 15th July : 300 miles, Whitehorse to Junction 37
I used the same campsite I stopped at on the way up as it has good and cheap laundry facilities.  I was shocked at how much road construction was ongoing.

Tuesday 16th July : 300 miles, Junction 37 to Toad River campground
My original plan was to return South via the route 37, however I heard rumours of about 100 mile of construction, most of it was gravel road. So I decided that I would take the Alaskan Highway all the way back down South, however I was unprepared for the amount of construction work that was not there 2 weeks ago. I spoke to a couple last night and he said, theres 2 seasons in the Yukon, Winter and construction!! So I suppose they have to do all the repair work while the weather is good.

Wednesday 17th July : 340 miles, Toad River campground to Sikanni Chief campground.
It was a lovely hot day and then the black clouds appeared! Soon I was looking at lightning right in front of me, so I headed to the nearest campsite, shared a site with a guy who was heading up to Alaska. We spent the night chatting and talking about the routes around us.

Thursday 18 July : 300 miles. Sikanni Chief campground to Mcloud
Instead of going all the way to Dawsons Creek I took route 29 to Chetwynd, it was a fabulous scenic route with lots of twisty turn. Chetwynd looked familiar until I realise I had passed through the town on my way to Alaska.

Friday  19th July : 320 miles. Mcloud to 100 mile house
I was now on the home straight and hoping to get back into the USA as the cost of everything is sky high in Canada, six pack of beer costs around 15 Canadian dollars!
However it was quite warm and the traffic was heavy so my dream of making back into the USA would have to wait 1 more day.

Saturday 20th July : 300 miles. 100 mile house to Sedre Woodly USA
Well I made good time and hit the border, time for a grilling I was thinking. So the Immagration lady asked me “so whats your story here” I replied, “its not a story, its an adventure!!”
Soon I was telling me of her trip and 20 minutes later she let me go. I took route 9, which was a bit of a mistake as it was such a slow road.

Sunday 21st July : 340 miles. Sedre Woodly to Astoria.
I managed to get hold of my good friend Tom and he was at a family camping meeting in Fort Stevens Astoria. So instead of getting a nice warm comfortable bed it was back to camping for one more night! I am so glad I went to meet him as I had a lovely time with him and Sue and the rest of Sue’s family.

Monday 22nd July Still in Astoria.
Tom decided to stay down in Astoria but at his beach house, so after 6 weeks of camping I was finally sleeping in a real bed J
I also had a great time being driven round by Tom and being showed the local sights, I even got a chance to drive his big truck on the beach, that was great fun.

Tuesday 23rd – 26 July. Chilling at Tom and Sue’s house
It was time for a break and catch up on much needed laundry and bike washing. The bike was filthy after all those miles to Alaska and back. I also carried out a service and checked the bike was in tip top condition. Tom and I also visited the Evergreen air museum, it was packed with interesting exhibits and I could have easily spent 2 days walking around the place.

Saturday 27th July Oregon City to Corvallis
It was sad to leave Tom and Sue’s but I have to make my way to Sturgis so I waved my goodbyes for a short journey down to catch up with another good friend, Nichole. We spent a couple of hours gossiping about bikes and rallies and then took her two children to the local river. It was lovely just to chill out and watch the world go by from the river bank.

Sunday 28th July Corvallis to Dayville
I have stopped in Dayville twice before, this time I was looking forward to a nice pizza, it was really nice that the campsite owner only charged me 10 dollars instead of 15! However the pizza wasn’t up to the usual high standards and was undercooked, hence to say, I threw most of it in the bin!

Monday 29th July Dayville to Glenns Ferry

You may have noticed that I have stopped recording my mileage, this is because my beloved TomTom has finally stopped working and now I am using my garmin nuvi phone as a satnav. So I have no idea of my mileage but I reckon I am still doing 300 miles a day.
I am staying in the same motel I stayed in on the way up to Alaska. Nice and cheap but most of all clean with free wifi!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sunbathing in Alaska


4th, 5th and 6th July, still at Sven’s hostel
I decided I would have 4 nights sleep at Sven’s. During which time I just chilled and met with other travellers, there was motorcyclist and pushbike travellers, as well as a couple who had shipped a car over and drove South to North.
It was great to chat and swap ideas and routes, I have now found out that I can ship from either Houston or Miami to Columbia, so that now gives me another option.
I even rode with a guy called Pete to see Santa Claus at the North Pole, I also sent my Mum a postcard because it gets franked with the North Pole stamp.

Sunday 7th of July : 300 miles. Fairbanks to Willow.
I took route 3 to Anchorage, it was quite a late start as I said my goodbyes to all the good people in the Hostel. The route was stunning and had some fantastic mountain views but the weather was getting wetter and wetter! Around tea time I hit a pretty big storm and seeing lightning in the distance I decided to stop at Willow about 70 miles short of Anchorage.
Putting up the tent in the rain wasn’t much fun! But I was not paying $100 for a cabin! I did treat myself to a nice cold beer and a huge cheeseburger with fries.
It was still damp and miserable in the morning but I packed up and headed towards Anchorage.

Monday 8th July : 70 miles, Willow to Anchorage.
It was a short ride but as I set off the clouds started to disperse and lovely warm sunshine started to break through.
My Tomtom sat nav was playing up, I think it was the downpour yesterday that broke it. It wouldn’t do any new routes and I was looking for a Stenard road where there was a free campsite for motorcycle travellers.
As luck would have it, just as I was about to turn around and give up on the campsite I found myself on Stenard Road. Within 10 minutes I found the campsite and was set up and busy drying all my wet gear off.
There is a couple of other travellers here so I have decided to have a 2 day break here and just chill before setting off South.

Tuesday till Friday  9th to 12th Motoquest campground Anchorage.
Peter the pole from Fairbanks Hostel turned up so we spent a few days just chilling and hanging about. Did some shopping at REI, got some new egg holders to replace my old ones as the latch had broke and the eggs keep falling out.
Peter and I managed to get a bargain flight for $200, this was a 2 and ½ hour trip and took us out to a glacier and then we saw some whales on the return leg. We swapped seats at the halfway stage and I was allowed to hold the flightstick!

Friday 12th July 340 miles : Anchorage to Tok
The weather was beautiful on the ride out to Tok, my 9 year old satnav decided it didn’t want to work anymore, so it was back to paper maps.
I managed to catch up with Bill a guy from Texas who had rode to Alaska to find work but sadly for him there was no jobs so he has decided to return to Texas. I followed him to a cheap motorbike only campsite just outside Tok. We had been set up long and Peter the pole arrived. He had received bad news, a friend of his had been killed in a motorcycle accident so he was cutting his holiday short to get back in time for the funeral.

Saturday 13th July :340 miles : Tok to Haynes Junction.
I had tried to make Whitehorse my finishing point but the roads were that bad I simply ran out of riding time! They have laid so much more loose gravel since I travelled up this road 2 weeks ago. The worst is the loose small gravel, where the front wheel wobbles from side to side and you just have to keep some power on to try and force your way through it!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Fighting off the Bears in Alaska!

Thursday 20th and Friday 21st June, still at Toms house. On Friday I updated my journal and blog. Then rode a few miles to catch up with an old friend Cliff Danger, met Cliff in town and spent a couple of hours chatting about travelling.

Meeting Cliff and his bike Lucy, I had met Cliff last year in California

Saturday 22nd June : 230 miles, Toms house to Vantage Washington.
After saying my fond farewells to Tom, Sue and Charlie I made a late start and began heading North, I headed North East along the Columbian river and then took route 97 up North. There was some spectacular roads and I had to keep reminding myself that the tyres still needed a good scrubbing in before I can really start to crank it round the bends.
I arrived in Vantage, the campsite was $21, so I went off in search of the State park campsite which was $32 but was full anyway!
I did find a free campsite but it was full of young ones getting drunk and playing very loud music, so I went back to the original campsite and admitted defeat! The lady at the desk gave me a contractors rate, so I got the campsite for $10, what a bargain. She also told me her brother had been sadly killed in a traffic accident and he was a biker and had always wanted to travel to Alaska. So I asked her to write a small note and I promised to wrap it in a plastic sleeve and I will place it under a rock when I arrive in Alaska.

Sunday 23rd June : 230 miles, Vantage Washington to Peachland Canada.
Up early and on the road the weather held off and was quite pleasant.
I reached the Canadian border around 2 and had no problems getting in, the Immigration guy was more interested in my travels. Soon a queue had formed behind me, when I pointed this out the guy just said “let them wait, I am fascinated in your travels”
I was soon looking for a campsite but they all wanted around $30! In the end I got a bargain at $20, camp special for motorbikes. I spent a real pleasant evening chatting to a Canadian couple, managed to pick up a few tips including, the fuel in Canada is sold by the litre and here was me thinking it was really cheap!
Turns out its about 90p a litre, so not to bad.
Woke up in the night to the pitter patter of raindrops and when packing up my wet tent I thought to myself “living the dream” well if that was the dream you can happily keep it!

Happy to be in Canada

Monday 24th June : 240 miles Peachland to Golden
Setting off in the wet is never fun, wearing waterproofs I was literally boiling inside as the temps were quite high. I suddenly thought going to Alaska was not such a good idea.
anyway, progress was slow but steady. The Canadians drive like looneys and don’t use indicators and simply pull out in front of you and expect you to brake (reminded me a bit of riding in Russia).
However my choice of roads took me through glacier national park and the scenery was truly outstanding! The roads began to dry and I was able to carve my way round mountains!
It truly was an outstanding ride.
Bit the bullet and took a motel as the skies were starting to look dark. Not cheap at $80 and that was a cheap rate, looks like I will be doing a lot of camping from now on.

Tuesday  25th June : 300 miles Golden to Macbride
Rode the Icefields Parkway through the Rockie mountains. What a fantastic day, though it did start out with damp and grey skies soon the weather Gods were shining down on me and it stayed quite dry allowing me to ride some fantastic twisty and tight turns.

Wednesday 26th June : 200 miles Macbride to Macloud
Despite it raining during the night I awoke to bright and warm skies, soon I was on the road to Prince George, I was quite surprised at the size of the town. I did spend far too long there getting food supplies and updating facebook!
Decided to stop early and found a forest camp site, though it was going to be expensive at $16, Karl another rider I had met opted to share the site and therefore halving the cost. We spent most of the night discussing routes and what works best for our bikes. The mozzies were out in force! But deet managed to hold them off.

Thursday 27th June : 300 miles Macloud to Pink Mountain
Took a detour and headed for Dawsons Creek, so glad I did as it was the Mile marker 0 for the Alaskan Highway. This is where it all started!
I am beginning to think I have really underestimated the time and mileage to Alaska, so far the days seem quite slow and only managing around 300 miles a day. Stayed at a real crappy campsite, $20! And you had to pay $1 for a shower, so I cheated and did a strip wash using the warm sink water!
The campsite was just a sodden mud bath! And I struggled to find somewhere that wasn't water logged to put up my tent.
The start of the Alaska Highway

Friday 28th June : 340 miles Pink Mountain to Laird River Hot Springs.
Stopped off in Fort Nelson to use the free wifi at AW’s and of course treat myself to 2 baby burgers, the cheapest ones on the menu!
Outside AW’s I got talking to a RCMP Sergeant (why do I always feel guilty when chatting to a police officer?) anyway, Les told me about the roads ahead and gave me a card if I was ever in trouble. He also said, that this was the last place to get some beer before Whitehorse. Its just a shame I didn’t get bread too as there was none at Hot Springs.
RCMP Sergeant Les, a great guy who gave me some tips on the roads ahead
I had been riding passed a guy on a Honda cruiser all day, he would pass me and then further on I would pass him, it was like a game of chase.
turns out he was in the next pitch to me at Hot Springs, so we spent the night fighting off the dam Mozzies and drinking warm beer. We didn’t realise it was almost 1 o'clock in the morning as it was so light.

Jody getting ready to set off
In the morning I went down to the Hot springs and boy were they Hot! It felt lovely to lie and relax but after 30 minutes I thought I was beginning to boil. Also had to fight off the mozzies while getting dressed!

chilling at the Hot Springs, were the water was really hot !!
Saturday 29th June : 140 miles, Laird River Hot Springs to Watson Lake
A short ride to a lovely cheapish campsite, at $15 dollars I was happy, I also put 2 washes on as my clothes are starting to get a bit smelly!
So far I have seen 2 Bears, one I got a picture of (a baby I think), the other as soon as I slowed down he was off into the woods!
2 Mooses, the first I rode straight by until I twigged on that it was a Moose! By the time I slowed down he was off into the woods.
Seen lots of Bison herds, only stopped to take a picture of the first few. As for Mozzies I have seen a billion trillion of them! In fact some have become quite attached to me!

Sunday 30th June and Monday 1st July : 330 miles Watson Lake to Whitehorse
With Monday the 1st of July being Canada day, I decided that it would be nice to spend 2 nights in Whitehorse. I also had met another biker on the way, Harry was originally from Holland but had lived in Canada most of his life.
We spent a lot of time just hanging around and chatting, we also went down to watch the Canada day parade, which was quite eventful! And very entertaining.
However the weather was a mix of sunshine and rain spells but we made the most of it and had a lovely day out.

Canada Day parade at Whitehorse

Tuesday 2nd July : 300 miles, Whitehorse to Beaver Creek
Woke up to nice sunshine and was soon packed up and on the road. I met a BMW rider who had broken down and was waiting on a replacement alternator  belt. He warned me that the road to the border was quite bad. I did hit a fair bit of gravel where they were replacing the road surface, however the worst bits was where the ground had pushed up, creating a ski mogul type surface. The going was slow in places.
I did try and cross the border but just as I left Canada the rain started to come down, then I saw roadworks, gravel ahead for 14 miles, so I turned back to Beaver Creek and camped the night. I will face the bad roads first thing in the morning.

Wednesday 3rd July : 340 miles, Beaver Creek Canada to Fairbanks Alaska USA
The rain came down heavy in the night and I was glad that I had made the decision to turn back and rest for the night, in the morning the rain had eased off and soon after breakfast I was on my way.
The roadworks were not to bad! It was a bit slippery in places but on the whole the road was hard packed gravel and soon I was at the Alaskan border.
The border guard was very chatty and interested in my travels, though he did struggle to find my entry stamp in my passport as I have quite a few now!
Soon I was on reasonable tarmac roads and able to make some decent speed up. Until a Moose jumped out right in front of me! I had to slam the brakes on to avoid him, clearly the Deer Whistles fitted to my bike don’t work for Moose’s, unless of course this one was deaf!

Arrived in Fairbanks and was surprised at the size of the City, it’s kind of weird being a city in the middle of nowhere. I soon found Sven’s Hostel and Campground. I decided to have 2 nights and take a rest as the next day was the 4th of July. However, since spending a night here I have decided to have 3 nights and hopefully tomorrow get an oil change done on the bike, which so far has been a delight to ride apart from I am over stretching for the handlebars, which cause slight neck and shoulder ache!
For Barb in the campground, for her Brother who was killed in a RTA before he had a chance to go to Alaska

Finally I come to end of the Alaska Highway, 1442 miles of mental pain lol

The end of the Alaska Highway
Sorry for the long update, I promise to try and do more regular updates in future

Friday, 21 June 2013

a catch up on the last few weeks on the road :-)

To try and save some time I have simply copied and pasted bits from my Journal to which I have added a few pictures to this blog.
I really must make a better effort to update my blog

Hung around Doug's till the 3rd of June waiting on my last bits to arrive via the postal service.
Set out on the afternoon of the 3rd only to be caught in a huge storm! After 1 hour I was soaked to the skin and had only ridden about 27 miles, so I returned to Doug's and got all my gear sorted out and dried.
this is how much rain came down in an hour

Tuesday 4th June 440 miles, Punta Gorda to Marianne Florida.
Finally early on the 4th of June I set off. With a constant threat of storms I made my way north west towards the gulf of mexico. It was really hot and I was drinking litres of water. I made it to Marianne and used a motel for the night as it was too hot to camp.

Wednesday 5th June 440 miles Marianne Florida to Lafayette Louisiana
Quite a boring ride using the interstate roads (UK motorways) but I just needed to get some miles under my belt and try and out run this big storm that was due in the area. I did hit a couple of rain showers but because it was so warm it was quite refreshing and I was dry within 10 minutes.

Thursday 6th June 266 miles, Lafayette LO to Sealy TX.
I had promised my friend Nicole that I would like to spend some time with her dad, so I headed out to meet him in Sealy TX.
It was such a pleasure to meet Bob, who had been injured in Korea and was a Purple Heart recipient .we had such a good night, he took me for a proper big feed and then we spent the night on the porch watching the sun go down and chatting to the small hours. In the morning he took me for breakfast and then we went off to meet some veterans. It was such an honour to spend time with Bob.
Bob about to treat to a real belly stuffing meal 
watching the sun go down on Bob's back porch

Friday 7th and Saturday 8th June 134 miles: Sealy TX to Cedar Park Austin TX
A short ride to Lee and Pat’s house, I had met her last year on my RTW trip and was having a 2 day stop over. It was great to see old friends again. I got my laundry done and spent a bit of time at a huge camping store, also chilled out in the pool with her grandson Caleb.
chilling in the pool with Caleb, who kept making me fetch his toys from the bottom of the pool!

Sunday 9th June : 344 miles Cedar Park to Lubbock TX
I am a bit hazy on this part of the trip but I am sure that I used a motel (maybe this is why you should keep journals up to date!).

Monday 10th June : 243 miles, Lubbock TX to Boise City Oklahoma.
This was one of the hottest days I had ridden with the temps well into the 100’s! And the roads where probably the most boring! Just lots of straight roads with farmlands and farmers to look at!
Tuesday 11th June : 460 miles, Boise City to Farmington New Mexico
Another long and hot boring day with lots of straight roads that just seem to go on forever! I stayed at a cheap motel as it was too hot to sleep in a tent.

Straight and boring roads.... you just got to hate em lol

Wednesday 12th June : 300 miles, Farmington to Tuba City.
I was told not to miss Monument valley, the most exciting thing that happened was a 4 x 4 pulled out on me! Thankfully ABS brakes kicked in and I managed to safely go round the back of him. He did slow down and look at me and then sped off faster than a speeding bullet! I think he knew I would have torn him a new asshole!
To be quite honest I found the valley to be quite boring, you can only look at so much rock in one day! I almost forgot, I did Four Corners, I only remembered when I was going through some pictures!

me lying with a limb in all four states
Also found out that there was no drinking on an Indian reservation, so I ended up doing a 70 mile detour to pick up some beer. I only did this because I couldn’t find anywhere to camp so ended back in Tuba city and having refused to take a $140 motel room they allowed me to camp round the back at the cost of $17.

Thursday 13th June : 270 miles. Tuba City to North Rim Grand Canyon.
I was on the road and met up with a fellow Vstrom rider who was 77, his name was Bob and he was telling me of a rally further up the road.

Bob 77 and still rides everyday

 Anyway I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go and see the Grand Canyon as I had my fill of looking at rocks. He assured me it was worth the ride. So I set off and I am so glad that I have seen the Grand Canyon, it truly is very spectacular. 

spectacular views on the Grand Canyon North Rim

I wanted to camp there but the campgrounds where full (in fact they have a 6 month reservation list) so I ended up wild camping in the forest.
It did take me about 1 hour to make my mind up as when I looked round there was nothing around for miles and I had no service on either my UK or USA phone. Whilst setting up my tent I could swear I could hear banjo’s playing in my head!
I have to say, it was one of the best nights sleep I have had so far in the trip, that good that I even dreamt that night.

Wild camping, scary stuff when you hear banjos in your head playing!

Friday 14th June : 300 miles, Wild camping to Panguitch Utah
I had promised Bob that I would catch up with him at a BMW rally being held, the price for the weekend was steep but I could stay the Friday night for $14, so I put my tent up and they where on the whole a good bunch of people, though a couple did look down their noses at my dirty looking Suzuki Vstrom!

Saturday 15th June : 300 miles, Panguitch to Provo Utah.
I was given plenty of routes to take by the guys at the BMW rally, I chose to take Route 12, a beautiful scenic route through Bryce Canyon and the Grand Staircase. It was a real treat to ride some lovely twisty roads and then the weather changed on me and big black clouds started to show! So I made a detour for the interstate and headed North. I went to a state park campsite which they offered me a pitch on rocks and gravel for $14, so I turned it down and headed further North only to find a RV park campsite charging $20! But by that time I was so tired I bit the bullet and paid. It was a lovely campsite on grass and I met some lovely people and chatted away the evening about travelling.

Sunday 16th June : 333 miles, Provo to Glenns Ferry Idaho
I ended up back on the interstate as I was getting desperate to get to Oregon City where I had new tyres waiting for me. So on a fuel stop I ended up in Glenns Ferry, which was a really quaint old town. I found a small motel and at $40 it was cheap. I was very surprised at how clean and tidy my room was, after some of the cheap fleapit motels I stayed in last year. In fact I went back to tell the owner how nice their motel was and ended up chatting again for hours about travelling.

Monday 17th June : 300 miles, Glenns Ferry to Dayville Oregon
Last year I stayed in Dayville which is a real quaint old looking western village, the owner of the garage Julie made a cracking homemade pizza, so when I turned up she remembered me and then told me “I am out of pizza dough”! so I ended up settling for a can of ravioli, still it was worth the 4,000 mile ride just to get a hug of Julie again!

Tuesday 18th June : 290 miles, Dayville to Corvallis Oregon
 I made my way west to meet up with an old friend Nicole who I had met last year at a HuBB meet in California ( it was also Nicoles Dad Bob that I met in Sealy TX).
For the first time in my trip I had to put on waterproofs as the rain started to come down, about 40 miles down the road I had to stop again to put some fleece top on as the temp’s had really start to drop.
It was a crying shame as the roads were lovely and twisty and the scenery was just mind blowing! But with near bald tyres I just had to slow things right down and take my time.
It was fantastic to meet up with Nicole again, she treated me to a meal down the local pub where some of her friends had gathered to give me a warm welcome. I was given a couple of lovely T-shirts and I cracked a joke about anyone having spare socks and undies!

Meeting some of Nicole's great freinds

The next day Nicole rode up with me almost to Oregon City, it was fantastic to be shown local roads but once again the weather spoilt it a little. I would have loved to throw my Vstrom round some of them lovely twisty roads.

Wednesday 19th June : 100 miles, Corvallis to Tom and Sue’s house in Oregon City.

It was fantastic to meet up with Tom and Sue again (they were the first people I stayed with when I went round the world last year). I just love staying here and it feels like a second home to me.
Tom had arranged for the local bike shop to have new Metzler Tyres waiting for me and Toms good friend Charles helped me take the wheels off and down to the shop to get the new tyres fitted. Charles also took me on a tour of Oregon City and we visited my favourite camp store to pick up a few bits and pieces before heading further north towards the Canadian border.

Charles helping me get the wheels off ready for new tyres
New tyres just waiting to be scrubbed in before I head further North

So I am now having a few days rest at Tom and Sue's house. My new tyres are on and Charles helped me bleed the brakes, also did a mini service and changed the oil and oil filter ready for my next big ride up to Alaska.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Lost soul

Well I managed with the help of Doug get my bike registered in my name :-)
Not before I had to pay the lady $360, 300 of that was tax!! yep you pay tax on a used motorcycle in Florida.... maybe the UK is not such a bad place to live lol

So after getting a few bits and pieces for it I decided to take a 2 day trip to Key West the most Southern point of the USA.

All packed for a trail run
The ride down was HOT!! temps were well into the 95 or it felt like a 100! Thankfully I had my mesh jacket and kevalar trousers, which help to keep me cool once I am riding.
I was using the Corbin seat that came with the bike. It was probably the most uncomfortable I have ever sat on! and the way it is shaped pushes you back away from the handlebars, this created terrible shoulder and neck ache!
My destination was Bahia Honda State park via the old Tamiami trail route 41, this was a very pleasant route and there was plenty to stop and see.
I think there's alot of Alligators round here
When I got to the campsite, the ranger wanted $47 for just me and my tent and that was on pea gravel! she said it was the same price even if you came in by RV, now thats not fair is it ?
So I headed back up the road. By this time it was getting close to 8 oclock and I was getting tired. So I found a campsite for $36, still way over my daily campsite budget, I bit the bullet and paid!
As I was just about to start setting up my tent, the owner came over and said I was in the $50 a night pitch spot! So I carried all my stuff 200 metres and finally got set up.
It was so hot though and as I stripped to my shorts I felt I was being eaten alive! So I crawled into my tent with a beer and settled down to watch a movie.
I had planned on staying another night here, however because it was Memorial weekend she was putting up her prices to $55 for my pitch!
So I packed up and headed South.

Hot and Sweaty I make it to the most Southern point of the USA
I decided I would head back towards Doug's and as I got to Homestead the clouds had become very grey and looked quite storm filled!
So I opted for a cheap motel for the night, I did however spend most of the night peeking out of the window to see if my bike was still there! To say it was a dodgy neighbour hood would be an understatement!

I took the 41 back to Doug's, once more plenty of things to see.

He was lying basking in the sun

Here is something you dont see everyday in the UK
So it was a great little ride out of around 500 miles to try the bike out. The Corbin seat soon got swapped out for the stock seat, it seems to put me in a better riding position.

Well I should be heading North towards Alaska soon, just waiting on one more part for my bike.... infact I am all packed and rearing to go... just waiting on the postie lol