Sunday, October 11, 2009
My job from here on out is Mary, finding out what my job status is???????????, paying bills and tying up loose ends involving my trip around the world. I will write some more about my motorcycle and websites I used to help me plan this around the world trip. But today I’m going to chew on AT&T.
I didn’t exactly get out bed early and by the time I finished breakfast I knew I would be having a late start. I wanted to be home by 7:00 p.m. but by the way things were shaping up it would be closer to 9:00 p.m. Before I left we took a bunch of pictures of my brother and his wife and his son and grandchildren. A hundred million years ago his kids were standing around watching Uncle David leave. Now it’s his grandchildren standing around watching me leave. I said to myself "Where did the time go?" I shook hands good-bye and hugged Alverne. I told them I’d do a drive by and to wait and watch. I drove out of their yard and down the road about 500 yards/500 meters and turned around. I got my speed up to about 40 mph/65 kms and just before I passed their property line I stood up on my foot pegs. I turned and waved at them as I passed their driveway while they were standing in their garage. All too soon they were gone. I often wondered what they thought when they saw me standing up on my foot pegs and waving. Maybe someday I will find out. I drove into Grand Forks, North Dakota, filled up with gas and purchased a bottle of Cherry Pepsi. I sat around a bit, had a drink of my Pepsi and then got on I-29 south to Fargo, North Dakota. I drove into Fargo and picked up I-94 East to St. Paul/Minneapolis. I will never forget the time I drove thru Moorhead, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota on I-94 in three lanes of traffic. I was fast asleep. It wasn’t until my girlfriend Mary pulled up alongside me that I woke up. She asked me why I missed the I-29 exit to Grand Forks. I couldn’t give her an answer because I didn’t know where I was. I drove another twenty miles until I found a place where I could lay down and sleep. After a catnap I got my bearings and continued up to Grand Forks. Was Mary ever mad at me. I bet the Motorcycle Safety Foundation would love to hear that story. I have long known that when you’re tired or sluggish and you eat greasy or hard to digest food it will put you to sleep. And that’s what happened to me. We stopped and ate some ice cream and it shut me right down. I kind of got onto another subject from days gone by. Anyway, I filled up with gas again in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and the sun had disappeared. I was hoping that I wouldn’t run into rain on the way back to St. Paul/Minneapolis. It wasn’t long after I left Fergus Falls that I was back in the rain. I put on my rain suit and continued on. Just prior to Monticello, Minnesota the sun came out and provided a beautiful rainbow. I stopped and took a picture of it hoping it was a good omen. I stopped in Monticello, took off my rain suit and filled up with gas again. It was 7:00 p.m. and I had called Mary on Friday that I’d be home at 7:00 p.m. or earlier. I grabbed my cell phone to give her a call and it wouldn’t work. Now I’m mad. When I get home the first thing I’m going to do is give AT&T a piece of my mind. I arrived back in my neighborhood about 9:00 p.m. I drove the circle thru the neighborhood just because it seems like ages since I was here. I pulled into Mary’s driveway and beeped my horn that I was home. She came walking out of the house asking me why I was blowing my horn. I said to let you know I’m home. We hugged and smooched a bit. I told her I officially had to mark the time that I arrived home. I pulled out my SPOT and pushed the button saying I was at home ok, and the time was officially 9:10 p.m. I finally reached the end of the road and am a little road weary.
I got up late and ate breakfast with my brother and sister-in-law. They wanted to hear the highlights of my trip. I then went out and checked over my motorcycle and clothes. I wanted to make sure my clothes were drying out for the ride back to Minnesota. I adjusted the chain and oiled it. When I got my tools out to adjust the chain I found my saddle bag had leaked again. I checked the other side, and it had also leaked. That was no surprise with the amount of rain I rode through the night before. I took all my tools out and dried them. By 5:00 p.m. most everything was dried out and could be put back. I loaded my bike with everything except the clothes I would wear the next day. During our conversations we figured out that the rain I was caught in Thursday night was the same weather front that I drove through the last three days on the Alaskan Highway. It was a slow moving weather front that was moving south and east. When I drove straight south to Shelby, Montana I drove out of it. When I left Shelby driving east on Hwy 2 I drove back into it. How lucky can a person get? That night Alverne prepared supper and their two sons came to visit. Steven and his fiancée from Fargo, North Dakota and Joe, his wife Lori and their two children from the Arvilla area. We talked about diss, dat and the udder ding and my around the world experiences till they left. It was great to see those guys. The reality that my around the world trip was one day from being over was increasingly on my mind. My thoughts were turning to the home front and what my work situation is or is not. The last words I heard was work is slow. We closed the night with some television.
I didn’t set any records for getting out of bed today but I was back on the road by 10:00 a.m. this morning. It was about par for the course. I was going to be driving East on Hwy 2 across Montana into North Dakota. I was hoping to make it to my brother’s place in Arvilla, North Dakota sometime today. It will probably be very late. Rough figuring the mileage, it was over 700 miles. I got about 10 miles down the road and I felt something hit my foot. I looked down and realized my aerosol can of chain lubricant just fell off my bike. I stopped and turned around. I drove back to where I thought the can fell off the motorcycle. I drove slowly down the shoulder of the road looking in the ditch for any signs of a white spray can. I didn’t see anything in the east bound ditch so I turned around checked the west bound ditch. It wasn’t long before I spotted what looked like a white aerosol can. I stopped my bike and went to investigate. Sure enough it was my chain oil can. It had a few dents in the top and the bottom but the spray nozzle was intact. I bent down to pick it up and saw a small pinhole leak in a seam that was dented. Well, that was a new can of chain oil that just went down the toilet. I just paid $16 dollars for it and used it twice. That sure didn’t make me very happy. I turned my bike around and took off. I had a long way to go before I reached my brother’s place. I reached Williston, North Dakota sometime around 6:00 p.m. Earlier I had to drive thru a rather lengthy stretch of road construction. They actually didn’t recommend motorcycles drive this road construction and to find an alternate route. I drove it and it wasn’t that bad. It was very dusty with wind blowing. I made it through ok. I gassed up in Williston and cleaned all my lights because I will be driving in hours of darkness. By the time I finished cleaning my visor and lights it was dark. I drove out of town and continued driving East on Hwy 2. Sometime around Stanley, North Dakota the lightening was getting closer and closer. I stopped in another truck stop and put on my rain suit and boots. I figured if I put on my rain suit I’d get lucky and it wouldn’t rain. Well that was just wishful thinking. It started raining sometime before Minot, North Dakota and continued to rain the rest of the night. I stopped somewhere after Minot to fill up with gas. It was a Cenex gas station that was closed with pre-pay pumps. I prepaid at the pump and checked the valve in the gas cap to make sure it was venting. I just filled my gas tank with gasohol which seems to make my vent in my gas cap sticky and not vent. I continued east on Hwy 2 and the rain started coming down harder. I had to slow down to 40 mph/64 kph in order to see. I could only see the width of one lane and about 30yds/30 meters ahead of me. When the lines on the highway disappeared I had no idea where I was on the road. I continually watched for reflectors, guard rails and lines on the road to keep me on the highway. Those last 150 miles/240 kilometers were a tough ride. It required 100% concentration on the highway. Somewhere in that 150 miles/240 kilometers Matilda drowned out. She shut off and turned black. My heart sank again knowing she might be gone forever. Probably the last 50 miles/80 kilometers I had to go to the bathroom. I sat there hoping a rest area would show up. You would be surprised how something like that won’t let you fall asleep. I was really tired and my eyes wanted to snap shut. I couldn’t because it would be seconds and I’d be in the ditch. Having to go to the bathroom helped keep me awake. Something else I had to be ever vigilant about was traffic. I was only driving 40 mph/64 kph the traffic that passed me usually was going 60/70 mph/96/115 kph. If I saw them coming in my rear view mirror I would turn on one of my signals to let them know I was there and traveling rather slow. Hopefully I wouldn’t get rear ended. Just when I thought I could wait no longer to go to the bathroom a rest area came into view. With all the glare on my visor I missed my left turn and drove up the wrong side of the road till I found the West bound entrance to the rest area. I pulled in and parked by the nearest sidewalk into the rest rooms. An SUV was parked two spaces away and when they saw me they left. I don’t know why, just more mysteries. I shut my bike off and dropped my hand off the handbars. It instantly filled my left glove full of water again. That put me in a foul mood instantly. I put down both of my kick stands and headed into the restroom. I used the electric hand drier to warm my hands and dry out my wet glove. I probably worked at drying out my glove for 15 minutes before I headed back out to my motorcycle. I started my bike…………..guess what…………Matilda was back. Hurray my day just got brighter. I let my motorcycle warm up until the fan kicked in and then left. I took Hwy 18 south to Larimore, North Dakota. I was in no rush as I was only 10/15 miles/16/25 kilometers from my brother’s house. I drove into Larimore and then turned left on Hwy 4 or 17th Avenue to Arvilla, North Dakota. I pulled into the yard and the whole house was dark. I blew my horn three or four times hoping to wake them up. No luck…………It was still raining………..I got off my bike and went and knock on the door. Alverne comes to door and lets me in. She’s backed her car out of the garage so I can put my motorcycle in. I look up and here’s my brother standing in the doorway. He said I was a little late. I asked him "How late am I?" He said it was 4:30 in the morning. My how time flies when you’re having fun. They said they waited up until 1:00 a.m. for me to show up and then went to bed. They always laugh when I show up because it’s either raining or snowing. Again they were right on the money. I believe it was their kids who first said that when Uncle David comes to visit it is always raining or snowing. I undressed and hung all my wet clothes up to dry in the garage. We talked some and then went to bed. I was tired.
Edmonton, Alberta, through Leduc, Alberta to Shelby, Montana………Lots of flat land with small towns and grain elevators. It was wheat growing country in the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains. It was a blustery day blowing me around on my motorcycle. The wind was strong enough to blow me out of one lane into another. I had to be careful not to get blown into oncoming traffic. As I drove through the wheat fields you could see oil derricks and smell the crude oil. It was sunny when I got up and it stayed sunny all day. You have no idea how great it was to feel the warmth of the sun after days of cold and rain. I also forgot to say how nice it was to be able to see out of my visor with no fog and to be able to breathe inside my helmet and not fog up the visor. I was running cross winds and head winds which maxed out the power out on my KLR 650. I could barely pass a slow truck or car. Flags were flying straight out and the grass in the ditches was almost laying flat on the ground. I was passing a semi-truck and was stopped by wind coming around the nose or front of the truck. He finally let off the gas so I could break through the wall of wind he was pushing. I made it through the border ok. I was only asked to take off my helmet so they could see if I was the person in the passport. It took me longer to put my passport back in my shirt than it did to get thru customs and immigration. While I was stashing my passport away several women customs and immigration officers were going through a late model Corvette. They were opening all the bags and compartments looking for contraband. I left before they finished. I stopped in Sweet Grass to exchange my Canadian currency for U.S. dollars at the duty free store and purchased a large chocolate bar. It cost me $6.25. I stashed it in my bags and ate it later. I took several pictures by the Montana sign and then departed for Shelby. I arrived about 7:00 p.m. I got myself something to eat, gassed up and found a hotel for $45 a night. It was as good or better than some of the $100/$200 dollar hotels I paid for on the Dalton Highway in Alaska. I put on a lot of miles/kilometers today and I really needed to adjust my chain and oil it. It was the first thing I attended to after paying for my room. I was in the process of adjusting my chain when a police officer pulled into the hotel with his police cruiser. I had to move my motorcycle because I was directly in front of his parking spot. Come to find out he also owned a red KLR 650 just like mine. We talked about changes I made to mine, small things he could change to improve his bike and about my experiences as I traveled around the world. He helped me put my bike on the center stand so I could spin the rear wheel while I oiled it and then left. I finished with my bike, put it in a parking spot, covered it and spent the rest of the night in my room.
When I got up the day was cloudy but no rain. I was hopeful there would be no more rain. I filled up with gas and found three quarts of Shell Rotella 15w–40 sitting on the shelf at the gas station. I was extremely happy about this. I have been looking for it for days. I asked a guy filling his truck with diesel fuel if he knew of a garage that would allow me to change my oil. He recommended Marvin’s Mufflers and More, and provided the directions to get there. I drove to the garage and found Marvin at work. I inquired about changing my oil and told him I’m presently riding around the world. I asked if it would be possible to change my oil. He said yes, showed me where I could work and provided a drain pan. I offered to pay him for the convenience of letting me change my oil, and he said "no thanks". I told him I had all the tools, oil and oil filter to complete the job. All I need was a spot to work and a tank to empty my waste oil into. This doesn’t sound like a big deal but when you are presented a bill from a motorcycle dealership for changing oil, it costs you $100 dollars plus. Changing oil becomes a big deal. As I was wrapping up my oil changing, I helped Marvin and his men push a Jeep Cherokee into his garage and up on to a hoist. Damn, that thing pushed hard. By time it was up on the hoist everyone was huffing and puffing with their tongues hanging out. I don’t think we pushed it more than 30 yards/30 meters. I cleaned up my mess, dumped my drain oil, gave Marvin my blog address, took a picture of his business and himself for my blog and departed. He told me that during the summer months he does a lot of RV work. For those people driving RVs to Alaska and other northern parts of Canada, Dawson Creek British Columbia might be a good midpoint to stop to have your vehicle serviced. I departed for Edmonton, Alberta. It was cloudy all day and no rain. I took a few pictures by the Alberta boundary sign and was greeted by a friendly hound/dog. He got a few free pets and then I left. I arrived in Edmonton about 7:00 p.m. I was going to pick up Hwy 2 South according to AAA maps. The Hwy 2 I was looking for never appeared and before I knew it I was on the East side of Edmonton. I’m sure the road number changed so I stopped at a truck stop to get gas and to sort out where I was. Even Matilda couldn’t find it. While I was looking at my map a German-Canadian guy Emil walked over to talk to me. He was 71 years old. He told me if I wanted a good touring motorcycle I should buy a BMW. You know the boxer type with two cylinders. I told him I had a BMW 650cc and decided not to ride around the world with it because it was too high tech. I told him I preferred a low tech motorcycle I could work on if it required maintenance and that’s why I chose a 2007 Kawasaki. After I explained that to him, he wasn’t quite as outspoken about my choice of motorcycles. Especially since I rode it trouble-free for 18,000 miles/29032 Kilometers. He was generally amazed that I rode my Kawasaki around the world. We talked until 11:30 p.m. about Canada, the U.S., his perceived faults the U.S. has, which diesel engine is the best and WWII. He said it took 53 countries to subdue Germany and said Adolf Hitler made a huge mistake by pushing into Russia just prior to winter. The repercussions of that decision are still being felt today. Somewhere in the discussion he told me he and his son operate a gravel truck business, hence the reason he knows so much about diesel engines. They haul rocks from Montana to Edmonton because of their color. Apparently colored rocks are a highly sought after commodity in the Edmonton area. It’s a very lucrative business. You know I kind of liked this guy. He wasn’t afraid to walk up to a complete stranger in the dark and just start talking. He was kind of like the gravel trucks he and his son operated; rough and tumble on the outside but if you keep the windows closed, a pretty decent person on the inside. His swearing was a little off the mark but you still knew what he meant and how he felt about the subject. When he left to go home he drove back over by me with his new Dodge dually pickup. He rolled down the window and asked me to listen to the best Polka music ever. He told me the name of the band but I have long since forgotten it. He was right about the music. It was clear and crisp with the familiar Polka beat. I almost asked him if I could have the CD. It would have been a great souvenir from Edmonton. He left the truck stop for home with the familiar clatter of diesel engines around him. When he dies I hope there’s a gravel truck in heaven with a CAT or CUMMIN diesel engine in it waiting for him. He was very proud of his German heritage. Well, for whatever it was worth I didn’t know anymore where I was now as when I drove into the truck stop. I looked at my map and told Matilda to get me out of here. I typed “Leduc” into Matilda and she led me all the way to Leduc. I left the truck stop and arrived in Leduc 30 miles south of Edmonton, about 11:30 p.m. I stopped at the bottom of the exit ramp and checked Matilda’s list of available hotels and motels. I picked the nearest and cheapest hotel for the night. I found the hotel ok and while unpacking the motorcycle another guy came over and started talking. I didn’t get to bed till 1:00 a.m. Another day I didn’t get any work done on my blog.
I checked the weather forecast for Fort Nelson to Dawson Creek. All it said was to expect a steady rain all day. I got up and looked outside and it was still raining like last night. I groaned and closed the door. Another day in the rain. I got dressed, packed my bags and my motorcycle cover. I put on my rain suit, started my bike and then loaded it. I came back into my room and put on all my riding gear. The last thing I did was wipe my hands dry, put on my riding gloves and then put on my rain gloves. I drove over to the gas station, filled up with gas and bought some food for breakfast. I also needed to purchase some Canadian money as I was about out. This gas station had an ATM but it didn’t like my debit card. I asked the girl behind the counter if another ATM was near. She said across the road there was another in a credit union. I drove over and this ATM liked my card. I purchased the money I needed and walked outside. Another motorcyclist walked up to me asking about the weather for today. I told him more rain. He was from Fairbanks, Alaska and was stuck in Fort Nelson because his older BMW 1976ish Boxer didn’t like the rain and wouldn’t run. He wanted to leave but couldn’t because of the rain. I left town and on the way out my motorcycle stalled. I quickly unscrewed the gas cap allowing the gas to start flowing again. The vent inside the gas cap was stuck again. It was then I realized that the rubber seal or vent in the gas cap did not like gasohol or gasoline with alcohol in it. I continued to tighten and loosen the cap until I came upon a deserted gas station where I could stop, remove my gloves out of the rain and break the rubber vent loose in the gas cap so the gas tank could breathe. Yes it’s still raining. I found a rag I could wipe the gas cap dry with and then reverse-sucked on it until the rubber diaphragm broke loose. I put the gas cap on and didn’t have a problem with it again that day. I continued on to Dawson Creek and once when I stopped for gas the gas station attendant allowed me to dry my glove on his heaters. They weren’t wet but they were damp and it was 40 degrees outside. In the process my hands warmed up. My hands at times were so cold I almost had to pry them off the throttle grip. On the outskirts of Dawson Creek I took some pictures of the "Welcome to Dawson Creek" sign and then continued into the city looking for a hotel to stay for the night. I drove downtown and took pictures of the “Zero Mile Marker” which is the start of the Alaska Highway. It was bloody windy and I thought for sure my bike would blow over by this marker. If you look at the flags in the pictures you will see they are horizontal to the ground. I then drove back out of town until I found a hotel where my motorcycle would be out of the wind. I was very afraid my motorcycle would be blown over. I found a hotel with a ground level room out of the wind where I could work on my motorcycle. I also asked the hotel staff if they could provide me a heater to warm my room because it was cold and damp. I also needed it to dry my clothes because I was soaking wet again just like the day before. They did and I turned it on to its maximum setting to warm the room. I then adjusted my chain on my motorcycle and oiled it. It was the first time in three days I oiled it because of the constant rain. It was dry and shiny from the lack of lubrication. I went inside after I finished with the motorcycle and hung up my wet motorcycle clothes. The rain tapered off when I entered the city and then started up again after I finished with my motorcycle. When I had all my clothes positioned for drying I left the room for a pizza place and ordered a pizza for supper. I came back to the room in the rain and went to bed for the night. I was going to work on my blog but was too tired.
I got up looked out the window and it wasn’t raining. It looked like a promising day. I grabbed my bags and went to load my bike. I no more than touched the cover on my motorcycle and it started raining. I loaded everything and left. The last time I stayed at this hotel was on the way up to the Northwest Territories. Yes, I stayed in the very same room. It’s the motel where my gas cap wouldn’t vent and it took me four hours to sort this problem out. I won’t forget that little memory. I thought my Alaskan trip was over. As I drove to Watson Lake my decision to stay the night at Teslin proved to be a wise decision. It was a winding road with fog when you drove thru the higher elevations. I stopped in Watson Lake to fuel up and eat breakfast. I met a guy traveling from Georgia to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on a Honda Gold Wing. I’d say it might have been a 2007 model. I filled him in on the availability of gas, hotels and price of things. He was really surprised when I told him I have been traveling since the 13th of May and had traveled around the world. He couldn’t believe I rode my Kawasaki. I get a lot of reactions like that. Anyway, I left for the Sign Post Forest to take pictures. This area is where people hang all kinds of signs i.e. country, state, hometown, license plates, family names from when they drove the Alaskan Hwy. Since 1986 when I first saw it, it has grown at least three or four times larger. It’s huge. I’d say it’s almost a half an acre in size. There are signs from everywhere, all parts of the world. Before I left I met this British guy riding to Prudhoe Bay. I also filled him in on the details of the Dalton Highway. When he finishes with that he is riding down to the tip of South America and if he has any money left he’s going to ride from Cape Town, South Africa to Egypt and then back to Great Britain. What a great guy. He’s living proof people in this world are always moving around and looking. He also told me he rode through Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia last year. He then flew his bike to Vancouver, British Columbia and left it with friends. Then this year he came back and picked it up and continued his journey to Alaska and then to South America. He also had a Horizons Unlimited sticker hanging on his motorcycle. It is a popular website for people seeking travel information and help from other motorcycle riders who’ve been there and done that. I left him saying, “Safe journeys, my friend” and departed for Fort Nelson. The rain never seems to go away. The farther south I travel the more rain and fog there is. As I drove through the Muncho Lake area, the rain continued into the higher elevations and included fog. As I worked my way through the pass the rain changed to sleet and then to snow. Several vehicles pulled over and the girls got out to take pictures in the snow. The snowflakes were about the size of a quarter or 25 cent piece (dollars). My helmet visor was of no help because it was fogged up and covered with snow. My glasses were the only eye protection I had and I had to wipe the snow off of them about every 30 seconds so I could see. I probably drove 10 or 20 Mph/16 or 32 Kph through all of this. Once I was back into the lower elevations it was back into the rain and fog. Twice during the day there were buffalo/bison standing on the road. I passed them cautiously. I also saw a caribou standing in the road. He looked at me and walked off. I arrived in Fort Nelson about 8:00 p.m. with hardly a drop of daylight left and soaked to the skin. I pulled into the first hotel I saw and wasn’t too fussy about the price. I got off my bike and left it running. I wanted it to warm up before I shut it off. It had rained all day with hardly a hint of warmth showing on the heat gauge. Even with the radiator taped off (Polish Thermostat) so no air could pass through it, the engine ran cold. Just the rain and the road spray kept the engine cool. I got off my bike, dropped my hands to my side and my left glove instantly filled with water. I was a little ticked off about that. I immediately raised my left hand about shoulder height and removed my glove. I then lowered my hand and let the rest of the water drain out of my rain suit sleeve. I think a coffee cup of water drained out. How my rain suit arm fills with water like that I don’t know. My Aerostitch jacket didn’t allow any of that water to soak into any of the clothing I had on inside the sleeve. I walked into the motel looking like a drowned rat again. The Philippino girl working behind the registration counter had to provide a towel for me to wipe my hands before I could fill out the registration form. I was dripping wet. She gave me the key and told me if I need a dryer to dry my clothes one was available. I went to my room and removed my rain suit only to see that my red Aero Stitch riding suit was soaking wet on the outside. I immediately started looking for the furnace thermostat and turned it up as high as it would go. I went back outside and moved my motorcycle up to my door and unloaded my bags. I didn’t open any of the boxes because I didn’t want any rain in them. So I wouldn’t be working on my blog tonight. By the time I had my cover over the bike the room furnace was blowing hot air and warming everything up. I strung a bungee cord between the furnace grill work and a post in the room and hung all my riding clothing up to dry. I also placed my helmet, shoes and boots in front of the furnace to dry out. My helmet smells like a wet dog when all the padding gets wet around my face. So I dried that out too. I then crawled into bed with the television on and warmed up. It took about two hours before the room was so hot that I had to get out from under the covers and sleep on top of all the bedding. I woke up again sometime around 1:00 a.m. and checked my clothes to see if they had dried out. Everything was dry. I left everything as it was until I got up in the morning.
My goal for today is Watson Lake. It would be great if I could make it. I got up, looked out the window and it was raining. I slept in until 8:00 a.m. because I stayed up working on my blog too long last night. I packed up my bags and carried them to the bike. I went to remove my bike cover and it started raining and that pretty much was the day. Rain and more rain. I couldn’t do much sightseeing because of the rain and the fog. The guy that ran the hotel and restaurant kind of had a lot of responsibility. He registered the guests, cleaned the rooms, did the cooking and was the waiter. I suspect it was late in the season and tourist season was winding down. Most of these hotels are seasonal and by September most of the staff is laid off or leave for their winter jobs somewhere. I didn’t make it to Watson Lake. I stopped in Teslin for the night. It was 7:00 p.m. and I was two or three hours north of it. I think common sense came into play here even though I really would have like to have been there. I unloaded my bags from the bike, took them into the room, hung up my riding clothes to dry, brushed my one tooth and went to bed.
Suzan leaves early for work and Dave wanted to leave by 7:00 a.m. for his cabin. So I left sometime before 7:00 a.m. and stopped in Palmer, Alaska for breakfast and gas. I also put on my rainsuit because of the cold. I saw frost in Palmer and fog in the mountains. I was hoping I wouldn’t have a repeat of the fogging problem I had when I drove down from Fairbanks to Anchorage. I drove the Glenn Highway (Highway 1) to Tok and picked up the Alaskan Highway heading south to the Canadian Border. I started running into sprinkles about half way to the Canadian border. I stopped and put on my boots and rain gloves when I saw the rain was going to last a while. I was growling under my breath again about the cold and the rain. I always seem to encounter it in the mountains. I took several pictures at the Alaskan/Canadian Border and a car drove up with two retired couples from Indiana. They offered to take my picture by the Alaska border sign. They must have read my mind and then I took their pictures. Everyone left happy with their pictures. I then continued to Beaver Creek and rented a hotel room for the night. I took a shower and then started working on this blog. It’s now past 1:00 a.m. and I want to ride 620 miles/1000 kilometers tomorrow. I wonder how that’s going to work out. It’s time for bed and it will be a short night.
I got up late about 10:00 a.m. and started loading up my motorcycle. I was to meet my sister at Wayland Baptist University and then go out for dinner. I finally was all loaded, checked to make sure I didn’t leave anything behind, and departed. I swear Matilda took me the longest way to get to the University. I bet I drove 12 or 14 miles before I arrived. I walked in the door a few minutes before 12:00 p.m. My sister took me up to meet the Dean of the University and a few of her other colleagues and instructors. It was nice to meet them all. We then went out to eat and walked through a park near the University. She prayed that I’d have a safe trip back to Saint Paul, Minnesota and I departed. I rode around a little bit looking for a parts store to buy some oil for my motorcycle. I’d like to find another three quarts of Shell Rotella 15w–40. It’s my favorite oil for my motorcycle; it's heavy duty diesel oil. I didn’t have any luck. I called up my Air Force friend and asked him if I could come over for a visit and he said sure. I also asked him where I could buy chain oil. He gave me an address for a Suzuki dealership and I drove over there and picked up two cans. I waited around some because it was still early and then drove to his home in Eagle River. When I arrived both Dave and Suzan were in the garage talking. I haven’t seen these folks and their son since my last trip to Alaska in the summer of 1995. So there’s been a lot of water over the dam and everyone got older. We talked about my travels, Air Force, diss, dat and udder ding till a little after 9:00 p.m. and we had few good laughs. We all went to bed early because they had plans for Labor Day Weekend.
I got up sometime around 7:00 a.m. and installed the new tire on the rim. I thought for sure it was going to be a bear of a job being a new tire and all. I bet I had that tire on the rim in less than 30 minutes. The last new tire I installed on the rear wheel was tough. It really didn’t want to go on. It took a lot of convincing to get it on. Cleaning up the mess took longer than installing the tire. I just caught my sister leaving for the gym and asked her to drop me off at The Motorcycle Shop so I could get my tire balanced. I wanted to get there early so they would balance my tire while I waited. We arrived at 9:30 a.m. and the shop opened up at 10:00 p.m. They started balancing it about 10:05 a.m. and I had it back by 10:30 a.m. I paid the service manager and thank him for his prompt and speedy service. He also gave me about a 50% break on the price of balancing my tire after he found out that I had traveled around the world. I was very grateful for that. I re-installed my rear tire, oiled my chain and cleaned the place up some. I asked my sister to wash all my clothes and I got ready for supper. John and Doreen invited all their children and some of their extended family over to their house to meet me. I was a small time celebrity for 15 minutes. We talked about my travels and looked at some pictures. I answered all or most of the questions presented to me. People started leaving for home about 9:00 p.m. and continued to do so until about 11:00 p.m. Mack repaired the WiFi on my Panasonic Note Book. He just became my fourth hero. He saved me from having to send it back to Panasonic for warranty work when I get home. I said all my goodbyes to everybody because when I get up tomorrow everyone will be in school or at work. I showed Doreen and a couple of her daughters how to eat chocolate cake by putting it in a bowl and pouring milk over the top of it. They had never seen that before. They then proceeded to tell me about some of the unusual dishes they have seen over the years like popcorn in milk. I can’t say it’s crazy, but I've never heard of that. What a great time I had with these folks and their family. I want to thank John for allowing me to work on my motorcycle and use his tools. I needed that new tire because the old one would have lasted only until the end of the Alaskan Highway. Then I’d have to find new one and pay to someone to mount and install it. I usually develop a foul mood in those kinds of situations. Off to bed.
I got up about 10:00 a.m. and looked out the window. Bless my soul, it was raining again. I packed up everything and loaded my bike. The last thing I did was put on my rainsuit. I gave Stephanie a 10 ruble coin and told her to tell her mother I left to go see my sister Kathy in Anchorage. On the way I stopped to see or leave a note for a long time Air Force friend. He wasn’t home so I left the note. He and I met going through a military school and have kept in touch ever since. Since he wasn’t home I got back on the road to Wayland Baptist University. When I arrived my sister had already left for another meeting off campus. She left a message at the reception desk to call her so we could set up a rendezvous point. I called and we decided to meet at the bank where her son is employed. I arrived at 4:00 p.m. and met with the both of them. Her son has grown quite tall since I last saw him. I believe he may even be taller than me. Anyway, he presently works as a loan officer for the bank. He also is an avid motocross motorcycle rider so I asked him where I could purchase a new rear tire for my motorcycle. He found a tire that I would like at (The Motorcycle Shop) a Kawasaki/BMW Dealer in Anchorage. I said my goodbyes to my nephew and my sister and I departed for the Kawasaki/BMW Dealer. I found a tire that would work for me and set up an appointment of sorts to have it either balanced or installed in the morning. We left the dealership and deposited my motorcycle at my sister’s place. Then we left looking for food and decided pizza was on the menu. We ate, did some shopping and then went back to my sister’s place. My sister dished up some of the rocky road ice cream for John, myself and her. We ate it while we worked on our select projects. John was re-assembling a washing machine. I removed the rear wheel from my motorcycle and then removed the tire from the rim. By that time it was 11:30 p.m. We all headed to bed. Before I went to bed I polished off the rest of the ice cream. I was a shameless pig.
I got up and everyone was gone. Today I had to replace the sprockets and chain on my motorcycle. The front sprocket was down to about a quarter of the original sprocket tooth. I would never make it home this way. The chain was stretching two turns of the adjusting nut a day. The normal adjustment was maybe ¼ of a turn in three to four days. So everything was junk. Get this: I carried the replacement sprockets and chains with me thinking that if I broke the chain or needed to replace the sprockets I could do it alongside the road because I had all the necessary tools. I removed the guard that covers the front sprocket, undid the lock securing the nut holding the front sprocket on and went to find the socket to loosen it. I didn’t have a socket large enough to fit the nut. The largest socket I had was 24mm and I needed a 27mm socket. I said to myself now don’t I have egg on my face. Imagine what a pickle I would have been in if I had needed it in Russia. I had to put a “smooth move, slick”, on myself. I left the guard off and took a quick trip to the nearest parts store to purchase a 27mm socket. Luck was with me because the first store I stopped at had the socket. It took me about five hours to remove, clean, replace the sprockets, install the chain and adjust it with full weight of my load on it. I went into town looking for a place to change my oil and after being turned down by three motorcycle shops I changed it out at Linda’s home. Everyone’s biggest fear was I was going to spill all the oil over their pavement and make a huge mess. I would always just smile and leave. Later that night we ate supper and then had ice cream. I called my sister and made arrangements to see her the next day at her job. I went to bed.
I got up at 3:00 a.m. and looked out the window. The pavement outside the window was dry. I went back to bed and got up at 7:30 a.m. I looked out the window and it was raining again. I worked on my blog a bit hoping the rain would stop. No chance, so I loaded up and left Fairbanks. I drove the George Parks Hwy South (Highway 3) to Anchorage. The rain continued into the mountains with fog. I had to slow down to 40 mph/64 kms in order to see. The fog was so thick I turned on one of my signal lights so I wouldn’t be rear ended by a car or truck. Once my visor fogged up it wouldn’t clear and neither would my glasses. I pulled my glasses down so I could see over the top of them. That’s how I drove through all the fog. It was very difficult to see. The fog mostly was on the tops or peaks of the mountains. So in the valleys I could see out of my glasses and when I drove over the higher elevations my glasses would fog up. The temperature was so cold my visor never did clear up. The rain also found its way through my rainsuit and into my red riding suit. So I got to sit in wet pants the rest of the day. It’s like wearing a wet diaper. Once I passed through the mountains and was in Cantwell on more level ground the temperature warmed up and the sun eventually came out. I pretty much dried out except for the seat of my pants. I drove through Wasilla and then into Palmer. I was going to be staying with my brother’s family. I never met his children so it will be interesting to see them. I met Linda at the front gate of the Alaska State Fairgrounds and she guided me to their home. It was great to meet these relatives. The last time I saw any of them was in July 1986. We spent most of the night talking about family history and ourselves.