Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:37 pm

My son and resumed our westward limping trek to the Ural shop following the "obligatory" ride down Sturgis' Main Street where we encountered a group of HD riders on rental bikes doing the same. We finally arrived at Outdoors Motorsports where we we greeted like long time customers and my bike was taken right in to be diagnosed while my son and I were offered free cold drinks and the use of a comfortable customer lounge complete with WiFi and of course air conditioning. I had mentioned earlier that my Garmin 550 was acting up back approaching Ohio and somewhere along the line it just gave up the ghost on me. Anyone who has ridden across the mid and far west, can appreciate having a working satellite radio system piggybacked on their GPS. The shop offers a 10% Military Discount on service and accessories which farther induced me to purchase a new Garmin 660 system which was already reduced in price, a purchase which eased the stress of my recent slow ride across South Dakota. Following new plugs, carbs being serviced, and my new GPS/XM Radio being installed a very reasonable about of plastic money was handed over and we took to the road! Again folks PLEASE stop in to see these fine folks should you ever be in the area. My son was charged by his mother to make me behave on the trip which included what I ate, she doesn't approve of my choices of road food from the snack sections of truck stops and gas stations. With this mandate my son steered me to a Subway Sandwich shop for a "healthy" meal where I managed to program my new XM Radio and we discussed our next destination. In looking at the map my desire to get off of the slab and my son never having ridden this area the obvious choice must be, a close encounter of the first kind......yes Devil's Tower! Heading out on US 14 late in the afternoon climbing into the mountains resulted in our stopping to don wind shirts and close the vents on our Aerostich gear as we climbed up some of the steeper grades the loss of power in 4th gear returned, without and backfiring or engine running rough. The slower speed was prefect for taking in the vistas along the ride and the good number of deer we encountered along the roadside some upright and running others dead obvious victims of vehicles.We approached Devil's Tower at twilight with temperatures falling a slight fog forming more deer appeared seemingly taunting us with the prospect of them committing suicide by motorcycle. We arrived as the gift shop / restaurant was closing and my bladder was bursting requiring the use of an outhouse across the road. Between the fog and twilight pictures of questionable clarity were taken and we decided to call our long day by finding a place for the night reinforced by suicidal deer.
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The nearby town of Hulett became or target destination for the night. Upon arrival in town we had two choices of lodging , an extravagant appearing chain hotel or a nice local Hunting /Family motor court. Our choice was the Hulett Motel which as I stated before a place, I will name names worthy of your dollars should you ever be in the area. We awakened to a chilly morning with clear skies,we loaded the machines put on warm riding gear to include for the first time heated gear and set out for Broadus Montana. Why Broadus you ask , two reasons my son was fascinated with the signs proclaiming Broadus to be the "Waving est town in Montana" and years earlier my wife and I had stopped there for one of the best milkshakes that I ever had. Our ride to Broadus was to be along Rt 112 northward to connect with US 212....except someone passed the turnoff and continued on Highway 24 which resulted in our making a 180 degree ride almost back to Spearfish,SD an error which became apparent when we noticed signs for Belle Fourche SD! A quick mental kick in my butt and redirection into Belle Fourche placed us onto US 212 for our ride to Broadus, MT. This day the bike was running like a top and actually got up to 65 mph on flat straight sections of US 212 as we motored along , I took note of a sign announcing the upcoming turnoff to Devil's Tower and........Highway 112! So, we really weren't lost just taking the long way to the junction we sought on our way to the town with great milk shakes. Upon arrivial I took pictures of Broadus'
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We were disappointed because the ice cream shop had closed and the bike began to act up with the loss of top end power in 4th gear. While ruminating over the course of events we decided on our next destination after looking at the map and our enjoyment of non-slab riding and the answer was.............Miles City , Montana!
Any true American Man grew up wanting to be a cowboy and having read and enjoyed watching Lonesome Dove I knew that the Gus in me had to go there! So saddling up we we struck out for the junction of MT59 north for the promised land of Miles City. Intermittently the bike would stumble for a while but would resume running well in the now increasing afternoon heat on the well paved good scenic highway that is MT 59. My son was expressing reservations about the health of his GS' rear tire and as we approached Miles City I spied a multi brand bike shop on the left and pulled in to seek a replacement tire. The people in the shop we very nice but they didn't stock the required tire. It was after 4 PM and we needed gas and food so a quick hop down the road to the city center was in order, followed by multiple calls to bike shops along various routes across Montana towards the Canadian Border. Our efforts were successful when the Helena Cycle Center informed us the required tire was in stock and they would hold it for our arrival the next day. While riding the interstate would get us to Helena in about 6 hours we didn't want to travel that way as the state and federal highways were so enjoyable at Ural speed and one could actually look at the sights along the way. On the far side of town we picked up Sheffield Road which was a nice surprise since the road was dirt and gravel for more than 40 miles paralleling the Yellowstone River, eventually becoming State Highway 446 leading to Forsyth , MT and the junction of US-12 The Lewis and Clark Highway. This part of the ride was a tribute to the dual sport bloodlines of my son's GS and the Gear Up and should be ridden if the chance arises you will enjoy the scenery and the elk with other wildlife seen from the saddle.
We continued up US 12 towards the town of Roundup, MT a wide spot in the road that has a gas station,some motels, a couple of local watering holes one of which serves the standard bar food bill of fare without any flare. The chosen eating place was populated by Friday night inebriates who insisted on talking to me about things they knew nothing about,like my bike in particular along with what I didn't care about, their lives. Our 100 mile ride from Foursyth was punctuated by efforts to avoid the large four legged critters who don't respect vehicles. The best thing about the town was the very clean bathroom of the local hospital that my ongoing residual battle with the Wall Mexican combo dinner forced me to visit. The effort of quickly doffing a one piece riding suit and my clothing in a stall while fighting mother nature's call to dooty.......was a testament to my gymnastic skills . Our departure from the bland meal and sad town was capped of by another group of deer, walking in front of my bike as we navigated out of town. Pushing on through the darkness to the the town of Harlowton,MT, we stopped for gas and where my son's fatigue and higher intelligence called the days ride to a halt about 2 AM. :)
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Last edited by ClarkA on Fri Jul 03, 2015 11:46 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby Albuquralque » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:44 am

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:13 am

I invite those of you who have followed my saga from the start to go back to the earlier posts as I discovered that if you ask for help , you can actually get things done. Like adding pictures! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby Lokiboy » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:35 am

Several of the towns you've mentioned were old SAC Radar Bomb Scoring (RBS) sites (Belle Fourche, Forsyth) where I flew many a training sortie against those locations when I was in B-52s. The sites would track the bomber on radar as it made its approach to the target. The Radar Nav on the B-52 would initiate a tone, and based on his radar would cut the tone (simulating bomb release) and the RBS site would then calculate the accuracy. The sites also had simulated enemy radar signals (I'll let you guess whose). As an Electric Warfare Officer, I would actively jam those radars. Scoring was calculated based on being able to maintain jamming on the main beam of the target signal. Brings back lots of memories.
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:19 pm

I was raised on SAC bases as a kid. There is some sort of USAF antenna farm about 20 miles west of Belle Fourche along with a few destroyed missile silos.As you may know a B-1 using the low level training area crashed last summer just outside of Belle Fourche. I had dreams of being an EWO at one time in my life........
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"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Fri Jan 03, 2014 6:17 pm

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Well my fellow Uralistas , I have returned to regale you with the ongoing saga of my ride to Alaska with my son this past summer. Due to the demands of my life, the holidays , work and crappy internet connections here on the "ice road" I've been on a hiatus of sorts with the ride report.
I left off with us calling it a night after a long days ride from the area of Devils Tower to the town of Harlowton in central Montana. The next morning greeted us with warm temperatures, clear blue skies and minimal traffic on US-12 as we mounted our machines and headed towards Helena, Montana to procure new rubber for my son's GS.The ride was made for my now running smoothly Gear-Up and the gentle hills and curves of the road were thoroughly enjoyable as we approached the snow capped mountains to the west.


We rolled in Helena to encounter the last vestiges of "traffic" in the US of A until our return from Alaska. The heat was climbing as we maneuvered through town to find our destination of Helena Cycle Center causing my glasses to fog or steam up I don't know if there is a difference, it just made seeing a little difficult. Upon arrival at our destination we were warmly greeted by the Service/Parts staff and assured that my son's tire was there waiting to be mounted! The wrenches were curious about my ride, (surprise) and paid more attention to it than my son's GS. While waiting for my son's service I requested that the thinning tread pusher be changed out with one of my new K-37s, a request that was quickly granted. The tire change request was followed by a discussion between the service staff as to who would do the work and subsequently the test ride! In speaking with the service counterman the topic of my faulty / intermittent performance was broached and he recommended a fuel additive/carb cleaning solution be added to each tank of fuel. For the life of me I cannot recall the brand name but I did purchase a supply of the subject additive and over the next few days used it assiduously with each fill up resulting in improved engine performance. Following our service stop and the complete repacking of the gear onto the bikes we looked at the map and decided that we needed to hit the slab as daylight was burning and our goal of spending the night in Canada was within reach.
So we entered I -15 northbound heading for the port of entry at Sweet Grass , Montana /Coutts, Alberta arriving at the border around 10 PM after witnessing a beautiful sunset from the saddle. Now our friends to the north have a whole other view of those who have firearms about their person, so I was invited into the Custom's Office to discuss the shotgun residing in my boat. The nice polite Canadian Border officer asked me to complete a questionnaire and provide my identification accompanied by $25.00 US to receive a document that permitted me to "transport" my shotgun through Canada. I make note of the officer's admonition that the permit did not allow for me to use the shotgun in Canada, and that should you be attacked by a bear , I was to run away, and not shoot the critter!! You can imagine what thoughts went through my mind upon hearing this! By now it was very dark and even a bit cold out on the plains of southern Alberta, so we sought refuge for the night and failed to find a place without riding another 100 miles to Leithbridge ,Alberta where the lights of a Comfort Inn beckoned us to stop. We knew this was a good place to hold up due to the presence of a good number and types of US registered motorcycles parked in the hotel's lot.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:35 pm

Dawn came pretty early in Leithbridge, Alberta, so early we missed it and had to settle for a 10 AM departure from our room. :o We also discovered the difference between how American and Canadian credit cards /ATM cards function just to add a little more delay and aggravation to the morning.
As I said before riding across Alberta is a ride across Kansas without Toto & Dorothy. We saw signs that announced activities off to either side of our route along with the presence of towns, but we never actually saw the subjects. As we did roll though the town of Nanton, AB my eyes spied a sign that immediately caused a change in our direction "Bomber Command Memorial"! Being a retired Soldier and history buff, I'd heard of this memorial but didn't know it was on our route. No way would we not stop and check this place out.

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We spent a while at the museum and an older man invited us to look at something interesting not on display! It turns out that this man was the director of the memorial and he wanted to show off a treasure in their possession that is sought by any military or aircraft museum.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:57 am, edited 4 times in total.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:35 pm

My son and I resumed our westward ride heading towards Calgary and Edmonton both large cities along Highway #2. The ride was uneventful so far and riding along at Ural speed allowed me to enjoy to sunny day. What I found to be different was the lack of service areas at exits in Canada. You have to leave the highway to find gas and services often in small towns out of sight of the highway. As we approached Calgary I thought of the world renown "Stampede " that takes place there and the need to add to my "to do list" and the upcoming exit to the Banff National Park which unfortunately wasn't on our route this trip. When I thought of the similarity to Kansas, I couldn't help but think of Oz as the skyline of Calgary creep across the horizon. We successfully navigated the city traffic on the highway and pressed on towards Edmonton. My son announced at our next fuel stop that he was planning to break off and visit a friend in Red Deer, Alberta and "catch up with me later", which activated both my parent genes and lone rider concerns. The sky north of Calgary was becoming worrisome with large dark clouds working their way out of the west right towards us. Riding along solo had the effect of unloading my mind and efforts to watch out for my son, lulling me with the monotony of the flat plains of Alberta, straight smooth roads and music via my new Zumo 665 system. I was so complacent, that I failed to keep track of my fuel or exits for fuel and ran out of gas. Parked in soft sand on the slant of the shoulder with cars whizzing by in my blind spot put me into adrenergic overdrive as I struggled to not spill gas onto the hot engine while sweat ran into my eyes and my glasses fogged or steamed up. With a full tank I rejoined the flow of traffic heading in the direction of the darkening and thickening clouds to the west of me as I approached the outskirts of Edmonton I stopped and checked my cellphone for messages from my son, finding none I was off again. The god of motorcycle tourers smiled on me as I took note of the serious clouds now being to my rear and heading away from my route. Luckily my turnoff towards British Columbia was on the south western side of Edmonton so I avoided a major part of the rush hour traffic. :boogie: I swung onto Highway 16 westbound I got tangled up in the residual effects of a fender bender coupled with a passing bit of rain , soon in the clear for a run to Highway #43 for our run to Peace River, Alberta. I exited onto Highway #43 and the rain caught up to me briefly along with some serious cold winds.
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I stopped for gas and food in the hamlet of Oronway and texted my son to ascertain his status and location. The town was a classic small town with about four east west streets crossed by a few more north south streets with a railroad track running along the main street of town. The two gas stations, drive in food joint along with a village green seemed to be the center of activity. I found a combination Chinese American cafe on a side street next to the bank but kitty corner to the local drinking establishment to not only eat but to get out of the cold and try to rendezvous with my wayward son. The food was plenty and good the staff very friendly and curious about this stranger with all sorts of electronics making a lot of phone calls and reading an atlas. I sat in the cafe for a couple of hours without meeting up with my son and after they closed I decided it was time to hit the road for the next town of substance would be Mayerthorpe, AB and texted my son that I was bound for that location. So after another hours plus ride I arrived in Mayerthorpe and waited for my son to reply to my text imploring him to reply. This point the question was my being pi$$ed off or worried about my son’s condition since he hadn't shown up as planned. :x Since sitting around was driving me crazy and pi$$ing me off at the same time I jumped back on the road heading for hospital in Whitecourt, Alberta as a rendezvous point and texted this to my son. This time I actually received a reply and concurrence with the plan!!! By now it was dark, cold and I wasn't too sure about large animals being present so I held down my speed to be safe and allow for closure between my approaching son. Whitecourt was pretty unimpressive at 11 PM and the hospital’s bathroom were clean and accessible while I awaited my son’s appearance. My son appeared out of the darkness like a beacon due to the blazing HELLA lights on his GS soon after I returned to the bike from my ablutions. We took out the map and decided that Fox Creek was to be our destination for the night, a quick call to the local Quality Inn reserved us a room and we blasted off into the night at maximum Ural speed. The town of Fox Creek was like seeing the Vegas Strip after our days of riding through small dark towns for the past week’s nights. Arrival at our lodging was a foreboding one since the hotel sat next to a river with a large pulp mill next to it. The pimpled faced surly desk clerk gave us the keys to our requested ground floor rooms as we went out to ride around the building we encountered a group of intoxicated locals who felt compelled to display their limited social skills and knowledge of the outside world. We entered the lower level and were struck by the musty smell of the hallway and stunned by the assigned room. The room had actually been demolished the drywall was missing, the bathroom fixtures were piled in the middle of the bathroom the placed stank of mildew!!!We represented ourselves at the registration desk and informed the clerk of our unwillingness to stay in the assigned room or the hotel in general!! :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: We remounted or bikes avoiding conversation with the local inebriants still loitering in the parking lot and returned to the center of town seeking acceptable lodging for the night. The Super 8 Motel had vacancies on the ground floor and were agreed to the $210.00 a night fee and unloaded the bikes and fell fast asleep.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Sun Jan 05, 2014 4:35 am

We took stock of our timeline for arrival in Alaska and decided we needed to pick up the pace as my 60th was coming up and being on the Arctic Circle on my birthday was one of two fixed events on the trip. The ride goal for the day was , Dawson Creek, British Columbia the official start of the Alaska Canada Highway (ALCAN)! So jumping across the remainder of Alberta was the order of the day. I was taken aback by the high quality roads across Alberta's remote western areas after expecting some pretty rough roads. We all have heard of Canada's booming energy industry , these high quality roads were part if the infrastructure to support the energy industry. Our ride went well until the first fuel stop where I took notice of the rack on my boat's fender missing two bolts. Out in the middle of Alberta I spy a NAPA parts store, which my son enters at closing time of noon to the icy stare of the woman behind the counter. If course they don't stock parts for Urals but a quick apology for the inconvenience resulted in finding bolts and rubber bushings to reattach the rack to the boat. As we swung back onto the highway heading towards Grand Prairie we noted the increasing more sparse services along the route until we came upon a uber- service area just outside of Grand Prairie where we took note of the diversity of products for sale,food, vehicles,and people who again interrogated us about our rides and destinations. For reasons I can't explain I decided that Peace River, BC was on our route to Dawson Creek so we continued along Highway #43 to #49 . The ride was without traffic across farmland which was perfect for my now running smoothly bike. As we approached Peace River our old nemesis returned, dark skies and ....rain, those big fat thumping your helmet drop type rain! Concurrent with the rain , it got colder and the miles seemed to stop passing as we rode along being splashed by traffic from the opposite direction. Soon our destination loomed ahead and we sought fuel for the bikes and refuge from the wet and cold along a good warm meal. We were successful finding food , fuel and a warm place, but good food eluded us at our chosen eatery. At the gas station again we were the object of attention except this person was an extremely good looking woman who seemed unable to end our contact ;really she started speaking to me inside as I paid for our gas , then followed me out to the pumps to discuss the trip, bikes and life in general. She then got into her car and drove back to the pumps to discuss her new Jeep Wrangler..........I guess Canadians are just friendly folks! :oops:
We sat down at the nearby eatery of Boston Pizza and eventually were able to order an average meal consumed in the midst of a Chuck E Cheese like gathering of local preteens !We remounted our rides and established a route that would lead us to Dawson Creek for our night's rest. The rain had abated except for and occasional big puddle, we uneventfully motored through the agricultural landscape along highway #2 southward towards the junction with highway #49 taking note of the signs warning of wildlife after recrossing of the Peace River and making a long steep climb from the metal grated bridge. As we continued along Highway 49 we took in some interesting sights.


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Our arrival in Dawson Creek was pretty uneventful except we got out of the now torrential rain on the very dark highway leading us to the Comfort Inn. Our check in was delayed by a stop at the local beer store to purchase a six pack for the night. The helpful front desk clerk allowed us to park the bikes under the canopy in sight of the desk for the night.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby ClarkA » Sun Jan 05, 2014 5:14 am

The day dawned on still falling rain although not as severe as the night before.We of course took the obligatory pictures........

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before we took off along the now ALCAN for Fort St. John as our next stop for fuel and sights........
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Last edited by ClarkA on Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
SFC 91C/ Medic US Army 1971-1996
"John 15:13"

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby DanKearney » Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:32 pm

Great story. Look forward to the next installment.

Cheers,

Dan K.

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby Albuquralque » Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:17 pm

:lurker:
"Put a little gravel in your travel"

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby Paint shaker » Mon Jan 06, 2014 1:29 pm

Awesome trip report!! :cheers:
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby CCjon » Fri Jan 10, 2014 10:55 pm

Thanks for keeping the report going. Love it.

See you found rain in Dawson Creek too. Have ridden through there three different times, different years, rained very time. I figure it's just a place where the sun never shines.
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Postby shaker655 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:30 am

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Well done. I did the same trip this summer leaving from Barrie, Ontario which is one hour north of Toronto. I rode solo and camped all the way. I'm stunned at how much gear you took since I thought I took a lot. I burned up six tires in all and my rear differential gave up the ghost the day after I made it home. It was an outstanding journey and after a week I started taking pictures of all of the people who came up to talk to me about the bike. Well over one hundred people in all during the month I was on the road. We're about the same age too, my being 61. Next summer my girlfriend and I are riding our Royal Enfields down to Mexico. Cheers, Gary.
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