Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

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Red Dwarf
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by Red Dwarf » Tue Jul 07, 2015 3:28 pm

ClarkA wrote: We passed the St. Michael's Cathedral sitting in the middle of downtown Sitka , the earliest Orthodox cathedral in the New World,
Delighted you visited Sitka, on a sunny day no less! Come again, we'll fix you up with the usual rain, I promise!
Just a nit-picking historical detail:
St. Mikes is not the earliest Orthodox cathedral in AK.
Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Kodiak has had that honor since 1794. :old:
2012 Retro

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:53 pm

My son and I re-boarded the MV Columbia after our exploration of Sitka hunger and thirst slaked and continued our southbound float. The trip remained uneventful until I heard my name announced over the ship's PA system. Being an Alaska Licensed Physician Assistant, I had registered with the Purser's Office for any medical emergency care needs. I responded to discovered a preteen girl had injured her wrist requiring I apply a splint and reassure her mother the injury was most likely a Grade I Sprain which she could have re-evaluated in Bellingham, WA and that I would be available should she need additional attention. Of note the child was the daughter of a pair of US Coast Guardsmen transferring to a new duty station on the east coast after their Alaska tour ended. The US Coast Guard Air Station Sitka performed a helicopter (HH-60J) flyby as a salute to the "Coasties and their families aboard", sadly I didn't have my camera with me during this impromptu airshow.The remaining time afloat was spent doing important guy stuff, sleeping, eating, drinking beer with other riders while solving the world's problems.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:23 am, edited 5 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

Post by ClarkA » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:33 pm

Our time on the ferry came to an early morning end requiring we expeditiously transfer our belongings back onto the bikes. Since my spare fuel cans were stored in the "paint locker" I was delayed completing my load up by needing to find a helpful crewman to access the paint locker. I had made arrangement via my dealer Ural of New England to have my bike serviced by Pacific Northwest Motorcycles in Bellingham as multi-brand shop . My son and the other riders left the ferry upon docking belatedly followed by my now loaded machine. As you may recall, my son is an active duty officer in the US Army who was going to be transferred overseas at the end of our trip, because of this he needed to get back to New Mexico in 4 days after docking. My son with this mandate said goodbye and left me on the ferry. I stopped to reorient myself at the ferry dock to the dealership when my phone rings, with my son announcing his GS has a major oil leak.We met up a few blocks from the ferry dock and headed north to the dealership which also is a BMW shop. We were greeted well and due to my son'e time constraints I asked the shop to address his bike's needs first and being a dad I put my AMEX card on the counter and asked them to do a major service on the bike too. After his machine was completed and mine was wheeled into the shop,we bid goodbye and he rode off for Albuquerque. While my bike was being serviced a friend met me for lunch and a tour of Bellingham, which was interrupted by another call from my son reporting a major loss of tire tread from his rear tire. I regained my machine and discovered him about 20 miles south at a Mom & Pop gas station his bike propped up on milk cases. It was decided he would visit some of the local bike tire shops while I babysat his machine.
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By now we are burning daylight into the mid-afternoon and my son returned successful in his search for a rear tire for his GS. You may recall the search for a like tire on the ride westward after the Detroit area BMW shop's failure to order the promised rear tire and the Montana sojourn to Helena for the sole rear we located in the state. We again said our farewells as he was heading for I-90 eastward ,while my chosen route was to be US #2 with Coulee City, WA as my destination to visit a classmate from PA School, who operates a bar and RV Park! Perfect for the Uralista out on the road. I can only ask that should the opportunity arise ,readers ride US #2 across the Northwestern US specifically, Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota. The road takes you across some of the most scenic areas and is perfect for traveling at "Ural Speed" plenty of lodging, good eats, fuel and services.As I motored eastward I found myself in the early stages of rush hour for the northernmost reaches of the Seattle commute into Snohomish County, which wasn't the most enjoyable ride. Luckily, I soon put this commuter traffic behind me as I approached Steven's Pass, which can be treacherous anytime of the year. This serpentine ascending stretch of road while beautiful demands your close attention, due to rockfalls, speeders, logging trucks and crappy weather. To keep in tradition the clear day became cloudy cooler and raining as I approached the summit where road construction was taking place! My trusty "Stitch" kept me warm and dry during this bit of inclement weather. Riding out of the rain into clear skies on the eastern side of Stevens Pass , I soon rolled into the faux Bavarian town of Leavenworth, Washington which was over run with "tourist". Not being hungry or needing fuel I demurred on stopping to partake of the excellent German cuisine offered in many establishments, I rolled on towards Coulligan's Bar in Coulee City about 100 miles eastward with the now setting sun to my back. Once you have ridden the pitch blackness Pallouse area of Eastern Washington you will appreciate ambient lighting or really good auxiliary lights on your bike.The many small and getting smaller farming communities along the road were nice respites from the black emptiness of the ride. I arrived at my destination to discover my buddy was out of town, but his wife graciously set me up for the night in his RV as my home away from home.
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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

Post by Kilometers2 » Sun Mar 13, 2016 11:20 am

Absolutely AWESOME report....Thanks for taking us with you.... :lurker:
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On a hiatus to try out hacking my Harley after owning and loving a 2007 Gear Up, 2014 Patrol, and a 2016 Gear Up. If a Harley/Hannigan rig doesn't make me feel like my Urals did I will be in the market for a black with white pin stripes Retro.

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by outrider » Sat Mar 19, 2016 8:19 pm

PERFECT! THANKS...
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Sat Mar 19, 2016 9:40 pm

Well after and quiet night of Winnebago camping , I awakened to a clear sunny day and set about some motorcycle touring housekeeping. You know my position on traveling with dirty clothing stashed on the bike so I took advantage of the free w@$#ing machine. As my road grimed clothing were agitating , I strolled down the street to the local family run grocery store to partake of "road food" since I had slipped the reins of my son's oversight with his departure for points south. Spying a well stocked cooler of microwave food items and beverages I elected sausage biscuits and milk and orange juice as my breakfast to be consumed sitting on a bench in the sun watching the world of Coulee City go by. Sated I ambled back to the camper to dry my clothing and perform the obligatory checks of the bike's mechanical s and repack along with reorganize for the umpteenth time this trip.I discovered that my laptop was inoperative due to a broken power switch assembly.I called another friend about 100 miles down RT#2 in Spokane, WA to secure not just a roof over my head gratis , but to spend time with an "old Army buddy", discovering his lovely bride of 40 years was preparing her special beef strogenoff for supper that night! As the day passed and my housekeeping tasks completed , my buddy Dan made his appearance and we took up when we had left off years go. As the day passed and the sun began setting, I said my adieus to Dan and his wife mounted the machine and pointed it eastward. The ride to Spokane replicated my nighttime ride into Coulee City except the traffic was greater and the towns larger. Arriving later than I planned my buddy Sam and his wife greeted me warmly and feed me as well. We talked well into the night and finally fatigue overwhelmed me.
Last edited by ClarkA on Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:25 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

Post by Tin Man » Sun Mar 20, 2016 12:51 am

:foilhead: :lurker: :cheers:
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:40 pm

As I've lamented before the nights just seem so much shorter as I age and the ride progresses, as manifested by my buddy calling me to breakfast as soon as my head hit the pillow!My buddy Sam decided not only to show me his lakefront escape but to ride with me to Sand Point Idaho for lunch. This plan fit in exactly with my desire to travel US Highway #2 eastbound , the beautiful sunny day called out for us to get on the road. My buddy is a "recovering Harley Rider" now mounted on Can-Am Spyder and is six days younger than I am , so he threw my old guy not able to hold his bike up comment back at me! The traffic was light and the rolling terrain along State highway #41 perfect for my Ural Speed rate of travel. We rolled into Spirit Lake Idaho a quaint old town undergoing a revival as a weekend retreat for the affluent residents of Spokane not willing to travel as far as Sand Point and a alternative to Hayden Lake. As it was Sunday and sunny the bars had varying numbers of well polished Harleys or Harley like bikes parked in front of them and the sidewalk was a promenade for the black leather clad Do-rag wearing riders of these machines. We spent time with my friends family and camp neighbors explaining or defending my ride to Alaska, before remounting our bikes then heading for lunch in Sand Point. This was another pleasant ride in the sun, to the pretty lakeside tourist town were we reconnected with US#2.Sand Point was also a destination for a good number of motorcycles, with a group of them choosing to have pizza in the same place as us, with the required answer that yes that was my bike out there and no it's not a BMW. Sam and I revisited our shared stories of our time together in Germany as 21 year old Sergeants and the trials and tribulations of our mutual friends over the years, our pride in our sons service as career Soldiers. There is never enough time to tell all the tales that need telling when the road is calling, so we said our farewells and parted company. I reviewed the map and reconsidered my travel options , riding US#2 would take me to the north while Highway #200 would take me southward but east at the same time bringing me closer to Missoula, Montana. Since the most scenic route and one not ridden before was US#2 the choice was to stay with my plan of spending the night in Kalispell, Montana. Why Kalispell you might ask? The reason was I'd never been there before and it would put me in the best position to check out West Glacier, Montana the next day. The ride was again a scenic assault on my senses as I followed along the Kootenai River after crossing it at Bonner's Ferry, Idaho. While taking in the views from the saddle it became apparent that high speed cars & trucks along with wildlife crossing the road were threats to my safe return home. The bridge recrossing the Kootenai just west of Troy, MT was a pretty impressive view, but without a safe pullout I decided to keep rolling instead of taking a picture or two. Riding serenely along through the small towns taking in the great views the multiple "for sale" signs we tempting to consider this area for my all too soon retirement. I was enjoying myself too much when my friend returned to change the ride for the worse, rain! Even though it was late June riding through the Rockies in the late afternoon early evening can be a little cool, add rain and it gets cold! Having refueled in Libby , I rode the 125 miles to Kalispell hunkered down with the collar up vents zippered shut my face shield closed until the welcome sight of the Comfort Inn came into view. I am sure that you also are amazed by the folks you meet on the road and some of the things they say to you. While unloading my bike in the rain, a woman approached me and spoke of her appreciation for highway workers, mistaking my yellow & gray riding suit for highway worker garb. I acknowledged her appreciation and stated mine also for these hard working people, while letting her know that I wasn't one of them, being just a sojourner trying get out of the rain today and eventually safely home. Kalispell is the birthplace of L. Ron Hubbard and several NFL players along with a haven for skiers and gateway to Glacier National Park and is a big city by Montana standards 20,000 people! I settled into my room for the night after spreading out my gear to dry.
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

Post by ClarkA » Mon Oct 17, 2016 10:46 pm

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

Post by roger99a » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:29 pm

That was quite a trip.
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by MangoMike » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:54 pm

Clark, Thanks for taking the time to post this report of your adventure. I loved the short video you did at Ural of New England. While on vacation in New Hampshire we drove down to Boxboro; fell in love with a Retro, and bought it. It should arrive in Tampa this weekend. Great folks to do business with.

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:07 pm

The morning came far too early for me and greeted me with gray overcast sky . Reloading my baggage, checking the oil and tires and firing up my ride in search of 93 octane without ethanol was the start of my day. My ride across Kalispell was interrupted by a bit of stumbling and bucking of my ride. My first thought was the gremlin of fouled carbs had caught up to me overnight as the dregs of my gas tank drained. I looked down to see one of the air filter tubes had slipped from the right hand carburetor. Relieved as I pulled into a Shell station to fill up and adjusted the loose air tube. As I pulled back onto US #2 the gray sky became a source of drizzle and increasing the coolness of the ride. As I motored eastward to my planned first stop of West Glacier National Park the weather worsened. While my climb into the Rocky Mountains was uneventful the beautiful scenery of the ride was negatively impacted by the increase in rain and cold as climber higher into the mountains. By time I arrived at the west entrance to Glacier National Park, I was riding in a torrent of rain and was pretty chilled. Luckily there were plenty of close parking spots near the Gift Shop available shortening my trot to warm shelter. Having visited Glacier National Park in 2007 with my wife both of us astride each of our BMW bikes . I wasn't too
disappointed with my decision to not ride to East Glacier, MT on the opposite side of the park, via the "Going to the Sun Highway" in the rain. I bought the obligatory post cards , trinkets, t-shirts and,do dads for my grand daughters, warmed up with a hot beverage snacked on something my wife wouldn't approve of before donning some warmer clothes and resuming my eastward sojourn. As I motored east the beauty of well forested mountains and beautiful white water rapids paralleled the highway with the rain fading and the temperature began to rise and I descended into lower altitudes along the southern perimeter of the national park. I took note of an upcoming scenic turnoff and an opportunity to shed some layers of clothing, take some pictures of a historical monument to President Theodore Roosevelt.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Sat Nov 12, 2016 11:38 pm, edited 2 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

Post by ClarkA » Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:02 pm

So after getting less encumbered with clothing taking a few pictures and failing to avoid UDF, I remounted my bike and headed for East Glacier & Browning MT still on US #2. The ride was without much traffic , the gentle curves and hills were ideal for the solo traveler motoring along at "Ural speed" with out the pressure to go faster get there sooner. Somehow I've lost the few pictures of what my destinations looked like, but it's no loss to anyone who has ever been to "nowhere town USA".At Browning I swung onto US#89 for a Ural Speed dash to Great Falls, MT. I did take a few pictures from side road as I pressed on the Great Falls , MT where I intended to pick up US #87 eventually connecting with US #12 "The Lewis & Clark Trail . Great Falls was pretty much a city that I spent time trying to bypass during the start of "rush hour". My efforts resulted in the rig running out of gas on the far side of town on US #87. A herd of cows were interested in my activities and ambled over to investigate me.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Wed Jul 25, 2018 3:28 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

Post by ClarkA » Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:16 pm

attachment]I continued my "eastbound and down " activity along US 87 passing multiple missile control stations and launch silos.
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I continued along until rain decided to visit me along with sunset and cold. I stopped for gas in Lewistown, MT and asked about dining opportunities and was directed o the local"greasy spoon" as my sole option. After my burger and fries with coke I resumed my rain free cold ride until I connected with US -12 The Lewis and Clark Trail one of my favorite roads! On the downside I was back in Roundup, MT! You may recall my previous time in Roundup included diarrhea, poor food consumed in a tacky bar full of local inebriants compelled to tell us their life stores. Luckily ,I wasn't hungry and just needed some gas for my 150 mile ride to Miles City. It was dark with a full orange/red full moon which cast enough light that concurrent with my drive lights allowed me to count in excess of 12 deer/elk alongside of the highway. The presence of the critters elevated my concern about a collision so far from medical help and the very few vehicles traveling this stretch of highway should I need assistance.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:52 pm, edited 2 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

Post by ClarkA » Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:36 pm

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After a pit stop in Forsyth I hopped onto I-94 (ugh) for a quick jaunt to Miles City where I had reservations at the Motel 6. I was starting to fade with fatigue and my disposition was challenged by the hotel desk clerk who told me she had cancelled my reservation due to the late hour!!! We had a heart to heart talk about credit card holding reservations for late arrival and soon I had in my possession a key for a ground floor room as previously requested. I unloaded my rig completely and parked the bike on the grass outside of my door instead of the parking lot. Why, you may ask, years earlier on my way to the BMW MOA Rally in Missoula a fellow rider has his very expensive helmet stolen off of his bie in broad daylight at this hotel. As usual the morning came far too soon for me but he road was calling me to join it! As I loaded the rig I took note of the pusher tire's tread being worn it was last changed in Fairbanks prior to our Arctic Circle ride. My plan was to ride through Broadus and connect to US 212 Belle Forche SD then to the Ural shop in Spearfish SD for oil and tire change. Alas, the best made plans of mice and men went awry just as I crossed the MT/WY line, the pusher gave up the ghost in front of a decommissioned missile site. Even with the bike unburdened, I was unable to get it up onto the center stand alone. A car driven by a woman who also rides a BMW stopped to help but we couldn't accomplish the task alone. I may be preaching to the choir , but folks in "Heartland America" are good helpful folks. My helper flagged down a trucker who helped us get the bike onto the center stand, where I was able to dismount the flat. Neither of these people would accept anything except my thanks and gratitude. It's always been my policy to stop ad help any riders that seemed to be having difficulties along the road, I guess karma was in my favor. I mounted one of my spares and got reloaded and back on the road to Outdoor Motorsports in Spearfish, SD. I arrived at the shop and was greeted like a long lost brother and my rig was taken in for an oil change and gentle look see before rolling east. My destination for the day was the penultimate tourist trap of Wall, SD about 110 miles east. I skipped a stop in Sturgis as there was no benefit to gong into the town except to burn up daylight.I made a quick stop in Rapid City, SD at the Best Buy to pick up a replacement laptop for my damaged and inoperative one. My arrival in Wall was just at sunset and the motel I previously stayed at had a room and the DQ across the street had chilli dogs the gas station had beer(my son wasn't there watching my diet) so all was good as I tried to gt my new PC online!There was no question of my not eating at the casino, bar / restaurant this trip to Wall!
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Last edited by ClarkA on Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:33 pm, edited 9 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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