Sunday, July 29, 2007

National Park Stamps Collected While on the AK Trip

It should be noted that multiple stamps can be collected in some parks with more than one visitor center.

Ulysses S. Grant NHS
Jefferson Nat. Expansion Memorial
Santa Fee National Historic Trail
California National Historic Trail
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
Harry S. Truman National Historic Site
Oregon National Historic Trail
National Frontier Trail Center
George Washington Carver National Monument
Wilson Creek National Battlefield
Homestead National Monument of America
Pony Express National Historic Trail
Chimney Rock National Site
California National Historic Site
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
Scott’s Bluff National Monument
Scott’s Bluff National Oregon Trail
Fort Laramie National Historic Site
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park
Mormon Pioneer National Monument
Grant-Kohrs National Historic Ranch
Glacier National Park
Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge
Klondike National Historic Site
Gates to the Artic National Park
Yukon Charlie Rivers National Preserve
Denali National Park
Chugach National Forest
Wrangle St. Elias National Park
Wrangle St. Elias National Park
Wrangle St. Elias National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park
Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
Sitka National Historic Site
Klondike National Historic Park
North Cascades National Park
Lake Chelan National Park
Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
Ross Lake National Recreation Area
Mount Rainier National Park
Cowlltz Valley Ranger District – Mt St. Helens
Mt. St. Helens National Park
Mt. St. Helens National Park
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
Lewis & Clark National Historic Park
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
Redwood National & State Park
Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area
Lassen National Volcanic Park
Great Basin National Park
Old Spanish National Historic Trail
Arches National Park
Canyonland National Park
Old Spanish National Historic Trail
Colorado National Monument
Fort Scott National Historic Site
Pea Ridge National Military Park
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." ~Lao Tzu

Saturday, July 28, 2007

AK Trip - Day Forty Three - Saturday, July 28th,

Mountain View, MO to Paducah, KY

We left Mountain View early and rode the last few miles into Paducah, non-stop, arriving this morning.

All together we rode 11, 839 miles, measured by my Suzuki V Strom. (The trip meter has already turned over once at 10,000 miles.) Ted's Wing is showing about 7% more miles. This does not include the 600 or so miles on The Alaskan Ferry.

The trip lasted 42 days, 2 hours and I posted 39 pages to this blog, including 335 pictures.

This was one amazing trip by any measure. I would like to thank Ted for his steadfast partnership and his friendship during this extraordinary ride. I will always consider this trip as one of my best rides. Hopefully there will be many more.

In the next day or so I will post a complete list of the National Parks we visited for those interested. I plan to continue my quest for the Ironbutt Master Traveler Award (Gold) in the near future with trips to Maine and Florida. I will also make shorter trips to surrounding states.

“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” ~Hilaire Belloc~

AK Trip - Day Forty Two - Friday, July 27th,

Iola, KS to Mountain View, MO

This morning Ted and I got and early start and rode the 38 miles over to Fort Scott National Historic Site, arriving before they opened. That gave us just enough time to gas up and be ready when the doors opened.

From Fort Scott we crossed into Missouri at Nevada and headed south, through Joplin and on to The George Washington Carver National Monument.

Pea Ridge National Military Park is located near Bentonville, Arkansas and provided our next stamp.

On the way back up to Springfield, MO we stopped at Wilson Creek National Battlefield.

We ended our day in Mountain View, MO after riding 400+ miles in the heat. We considered riding on into Paducah but, after taking stock of how tired we were, decided to ride the last part tomorrow morning.

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home. ~James Michener

Thursday, July 26, 2007

AK Trip - Day Forty One - Thursday, July 26th,

Garden City, KS to Iola, KS

We are definitely being watched over.

Today we were at Clark Motorsports in Garden City, KS before they opened. Fortunately the Service Manager was in early and got to my bike quickly. It did not take long for him to determine the chain was in a bad way. The bottom line was it “might” have made it back to Paducah but the odds were not good.

As luck would have it they had a replacement chain in stock. I had no intention of holding my breath for the next 800 miles wondering if it was going to let go. That made the decision to replace it easy. The staff at Clark Motorsports was great and got us back on the road by 10 am.

Clark Motorsports
4575 E Hwy 50 Plaza
Garden City, KS 67846
(620) 271-9380

Once we finally got rolling the miles went by quickly. We followed Hwy 50 to Dodge City and then took Hwy 54 – 400 to Wichita and southeast to Iola, KS. We managed to squeeze out 400 plus miles, in hot weather, after a late start.

We are about 40 miles from Fort Scott National Historic Site and we plan to be there bright and early in the morning when they open. After that we quickly cross over into Missouri north of Joplin and head south for two more National Parks.

We rode through Greensburg, KS today. Many will remember this small town was totally destroyed by an F5 tornado May 4th of 2007. The town was flattened and remains largely the same today. A tent on the main street serves as a hospital.

The last thing this town needs is a gawking tourist taking pictures. I will let the link below serve. Suffice it to say, riding through Greensburg was a sobering experience.

On a lighter note. This morning while we were getting ready to leave, I looked over and noticed Ted taking out a pair of socks from his oversize bag. The socks were still wrapped in the original store packaging. Six weeks after we left Paducah this man is still pulling out brand new clothes he has never worn…. LOL…. Go figure!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. ~Mark Twain

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

AK Trip - Day Forty - Wednesday, July 25th,

Rabbits were thick in Florence.

Today started with a trip back to the Kawasaki / Yamaha dealer to have my rear brakes replaced. I cannot say enough good things about these folks.

Freemont Motorsports
600 E. Main
Florence, CO 81226
Phone (719) 784-9633

This dealership is at the top of their game and worth special recognition. The service writer and service manager both went out of their way to see that we got back on the road ASAP while juggling an already full schedule. Also, their prices were more than reasonable. You simply could not ask to be treated better. I truly felt they understood what it is like to be on the road with mechanical problems.

That said we still got a late start. It seems like it takes forever to get out of Colorado once you leave the mountains. Eastern Colorado bears a great deal of resemblance with Kansas. I guess if you like ultra flat land, extremely high winds and the smell of cattle feed lots at every turn, you will be right at home. Which explains the reason for the lack of pictures in today’s post.

Two hundred and eighty miles later I started to hear more unknown noises imminating from the chain area. We stopped and adjusted the chain yet again but the noises continue. Neither of us can get a handle on exactly where it’s coming from or what to do about it. Fortunately Garden City has a Suzuki dealer who will get a visit from us the first thing tomorrow morning.

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway. ~Henry Boye

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

AK Trip - Day Thirty Nine - Tuesday, July 24th,

Grand Jct, CO to Florence, CO

Well, yesterday and today the mechanical gremlins finally caught up with us. Anyone who knows either Ted or I know we are neither very mechanical minded. That said, I know when something is not right.

For a good while I have noticed problems with my rear brakes. At times they would feel as hard as a rock while at other times they would be extremely mushy or nothing at all. At no time did they ever feel right.

Yesterday the chain needed adjusting and while we were doing that we noticed strange clicking noises when I rotated the rear tire. We found the brakes were not seated in the proper slot. I made the decision to find a local dealer and have a professional take a look.

It appears the tire dealer in Alaska failed to make sure my rear brakes were seated in the proper slot when he changed the rear tire. As it is, the brakes are rotating up and down off the disk. To cut to the bottom line, it has worn the rear brakes out.

Fortunately we found a Kawasaki / Yamaha dealer willing to fit the bike in tomorrow morning here in Florence. They do not have brake pads that will fit my bike, but fortunately Mike Jennings recommended I take my old, half used rear brake pads with me. They will install those and we will be back on the road tomorrow.

Today was a short day due to the mechanical problems. We rode slightly over 300 miles and visited one national monument. Mechanical problems aside, today was a great day. How can anyone riding 300 miles in the Colorado Rockies on a bright blue sun shiny day not be having fun?

An interesting side note. Florence CO is the site of the newest and most up to date, maximum security (SuperMax) prison in the country. Our motel tonight is within site of that prison.

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." -- Helen

Monday, July 23, 2007

AK Trip - Day Thirty Eight - Monday, July 23rd,

Delta, UT to Grand Junction, CO

We quickly left behind the worst motel of the trip, stopping for a biscuit and coffee on the way out of town. In this part of Utah you never know how far the next services will be.

The goals today included crossing Utah, with stamp stops at Arches National Park and Canyonland National Park. Our trip time is running short. We were simply not able to devote the time to these parks that they deserve. Trust me when I tell you I "will" be back.I-70 carving through the Utah mountains.

I found Utah’s scenery second to none and like no other. In many places the landscape remind me of what I think riding across the moon might be like. In other places the sheer, stark beauty of the mountains and colorful rock formations take your breath away. Utah is a unique place of beauty not to be missed.
Four hundred miles later we are spending the night in Grand Junction, CO. near The Colorado National Monument. That’s the first thing on our list tomorrow. After that, we head southeast toward Kansas.

At present our best guess for arriving home is Friday or Saturday. We will be riding through more and more small towns from here on which will slow our pace a great deal.

I plan to post a list of National Parks we have visited on this blog after the trip is concluded.

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

AK Trip - Day Thirty Seven - Sunday, July 22nd,

Reno, NV to Delta, UT

Hwy 50 - The Loneliest Road in America

The sun was low and rising in the eastern sky, making it difficult to see down I-80 as we departed Reno. Thirty miles later we left the interstate and, after a stop for breakfast and a trip to Wal Mart for two dozen bottles of water, we began our trip across the Nevada / Utah desert on Hwy 50.

The Loneliest Road in America has this name for very good reasons. I would rate Utah’s portion of this highway just as remote, if not more so. On more than one ocassion we found sections of this highway with well over 100 miles between services. When I say services I mean not so much as a fence post to be found.

. Our first sand dune sighting. Shade was scarce. We found this picnic table alone in the desert and gladly took a water break.
Great Basin National Park lies on the Nevada / Utah border, 400 miles from Reno and another 109 miles from Delta, UT. It may well be second only to Wrangles St. Elias NP in Alaska for remoteness. When we left this park we had no choice but to continue on to Delta to find a motel.

Ten miles west of Delta, UT my trip meter turned 10,000 miles. We rode slightly over 500 miles on two lane roads today in temps up to 101 degrees.

We spent the night in Delta, UT in possibly the worst motel of the trip. (Albeit cheap) I'll vote to spend a bit more tomorrow... LOL In all fairness, we were chased by a thunderstorm into Delta and we took the first motel we came to. (Big Mistake!)

"The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see."- Gilbert K. Chesterton

Saturday, July 21, 2007

AK Trip - Day Thirty Six - Saturday, July 21st.,

Cresent City, CA to Reno, NV

Early this morning we left Crescent City, CA and traveled south through The Redwood NP, along the Redwood Hwy, skirting the Pacific Coast. Soon we turned onto The Newton B. Drury Scenic Drive and rode about 13 miles, through the largest of the redwoods. Words and pictures simply fail to convey the size of these magnificent trees. One cannot help but wonder what these trees have seen in their time on this earth.
The largest trees simply dwarf anything around them. We stopped often, gazing up at their tremendous size and height.

Along the way we found a herd of wild elk bedded down in front of a small community. For some reason the elk favor this patch of grass and regulary stop by. Crossing the mountains near Redding, CA.
It was on to Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area, about 200 miles from the redwoods. Here we collected the stamp and took in the sites.
Whiskeytown Lake
Another hundred and fifty miles brought us to Lassen National Volcanic Park. After collecting the stamp we rode across the entire length of the park from the north to the south. The park road takes you to the top of Mt. Lassen, 8700 ft elevation.
Mt. Lassen, viewed from below.
One of the many volcanic spouts throughout the park. Steam was venting and there was the distinct smell of sulfur permeating the air. From Lassen we traveled southeast from Susanville, CA, crossing into Nevada at Reno. Tonight we are in Reno preparing for tomorrows ride on Hwy 50 - The Loneliest Road in America.
Today was a tough day mileage wise. We rode 460 miles of two lane mountain curves that rival any I have ever ridden in both numbers and length. A ton of fun but they sure do take it out of you.

"He gave the impression that very many cities had rubbed him smooth."- Graham Greene

Friday, July 20, 2007

AK Trip - Day Thirty Five - Friday, July 20th.,

The Oregon Coast

The weather did not cooperate today. The pictures below were taken late yesterday afternoon as we arrived. Today we had light rain and light fog most of the day. Weather conditions could not have been worse for photos, although the Oregon coast was beautiful regardless.

The rain and fog moved in and out all day.
We rode 400 miles south along the coast today, crossing into northern California late in the afternoon. We are staying in Cresent City, CA tonight. We have ridden a total of 9,100 miles to date.

Tomorrow we continue south along the California coast, taking in the redwoods and crossing over to Lassen National Park through Redding, CA. We will end the day somewhere just short of Reno, if all goes as planned.

"A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it."- John Steinbeck