Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Fri Nov 08, 2013 7:01 pm

Yes this woman thought we were odd to be riding our bikes to Alaska....I say she is the weird one in that conversation!
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"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 CCjon » Sun Nov 10, 2013 10:06 pm

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

Post by pieman » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:23 am

:lurker: :cheers: can't wait to hear more! Great stuff so far.I especially relate to the part about patting down for potential lost phone,credit card etc.!
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by Muzzleflash » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:08 am

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

Post by ClarkA » Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:20 am

Well my fellow Uralistas I will continue my ramblings about my trip and events marking my 60th birthday ride to the Arctic Circle . I last commented on the crossing of the Georgia Florida border with my band of merry fellow riders and the monotony of the I-75 super slab.
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I won't bore you with my inability to make that ride interesting .What I did come to realize was my planning omitted the realization that we would arrive in Florida during the Memorial Day weekend.........along with every tailgater, no turn signal using yahoo on four wheels who cannot decide if they are in the correct lane or if they really do or don't want to take that exit! :x We pressed on to the dream destination of the world, Orlando ! It was there that we could not find a hotel room or a decent place to eat so it was Denny's and hitting the road in search of a hotel room for the night. Due to my son's connections, we secured rooms for the night at a upscale hotel with the initials of HH. I use the initial because of the serious attitude problem of the desk staff coupled with sending me to a clearly dirty room and the getting PO'ed when I asked for a clean and serviced room! The next day saw us again immersed in the rolling hell of the Florida Turnpike on a holiday weekend attempting to get to Homestead , Florida and Route #1. Hours of travel lead us to seek a respite along the road which we sought at Alabama Jacks, just this side of the Card Sound Road Bridge. The ride to Key West was uneventful and disappointing as it occurred during the twilight hours with us arriving in Key West without drama. We were fortunate that my retired military status permitted us to obtain clean, secure, reasonable priced lodging at the US Navy's Truman Annex in Key West. Being and "old man" I went to bed while my sons and brother in law sought out the bright lights and cold beers of Duval Street. The next morning, I was met by beautiful blue sky comfortably warm temperatures. While loading my bike at the agreed upon time, I took notice of the absence of my riding partners! So being me I went inside and roused my sons and brother in law from their fatigued sleep superimposed with the effects of the previous nights beer.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:25 am, edited 3 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 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:42 am

Just a few words about what I call my , Electronic Warfare Suite........it is composed of my trusty Garmin Zumo 550 GPS combined with XM Radio, HERO 3 action cam, DeLorme inReach communicator with GPS, SPOT Tracker position reporter, Casio C771 Smartphone which includes apps to permit it to be connected to the inReach Communicator in areas of no cell service all mounted on various permutations of the RAM mounting products along with a Satellite phone stashed somewhere. The power for these items was provided by a multiport connector to the sidecar power socket along with an extra power socket I had installed. As the trip progressed I tweaked how this suite was mounted and functioned , with each effort being "better" than the previous effort. All was well in Mudville until my Zumo began to have intermittent malfunctions , removing my major relief for the monotony of the road, my XM Radio! More on this later......
Last edited by ClarkA on Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:27 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

Post by BobM » Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:46 am

Great story! Could you tell us about what your average speed and gas mileage was? Did you have a sidecar passenger or did you carry the gear?

Thanks,

Bob :)
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:19 am

My bike was comfortable running at about 55 mph , but on occasion I would run at 60 mph on flat roads without wind and with the right winds going downhill 70 mph would creep up on me! Traveling at a speed of 55 mph was a good way to stop and smell the roses , without actually stopping, especially when we took to the state and federal highways away from the cities. I consistently got about 25 miles to the gallon or less using that crap ethanol gas and closer to 30 when I used straight 92-93 octane. I routinely stopped for gas at about 130 miles also to ease my butt and old man's back. I had some serious issues with bad gas all across South Dakota and a bunch of Wyoming, which put me in the 15 miles a gallon and a top end speed of 40 mph! Later in the trip, I lost my mind and paid $7.50 a gallon for aviation fuel( 110 octane) and was in performance nirvana! The boat was full so a passenger was not in the picture. I took a tent,folding GI cot, sleeping bag, camp chair, dehydrated food , spare clothing on my luggage rack. a small cooler was on the rack over my rear fender. As I said, I had a modification to carry two spare tires , there were there brackets for the 2.5 gallon Ural fuel cans along with two 5 gallon Jerry cans on the nose rack, along with a shovel and ax were attached to the boat. In the boat I had my trusty Mossberg SPX 12 gauge shotgun. along with my spare parts , laptop computer,camera boxes, electric bear fence, rain gear and Gerbing heated jacket and pants liners.
Last edited by ClarkA on Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:07 am, 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 » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:39 am

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We arrived at the "Official Starting Point" of our journey the Southernmost Point marker in Key West after my late sleeping fellow travelers got there machines loaded to witness why I suggested an early start! The area was mobbed by both foot and vehicular traffic all vying to document their presence at the marker on that sunny clear day......for now! The requisite pictures were taken, but we couldn't arrange for a group shot due to the traffic congestion and " damned tourist" blocking every attempt! We did our best and headed north on Route #1 to actually start the ride to Alaska! All was well as we motored north along the scenic Over the Ocean Highway until mile marker #45 when the traffic began to slow and bunch up with the northbound lane containing boat trailers, RVs and jacked up pickups with over sized wheels jockeying for an opportunity to pass. As unpleasant as this traffic was, the arrival of rain made the situation even less enjoyable. So now the falling rain coupled with the road mist thrown up by other vehicle conspired to rob me of clear vision and comfort that the cage drivers would slide into me or my family of riders . By Marathon the rain was severe enough for me to call a halt to the ride and seek safe refuge in a McDonald's. Since my gloves were soaked , the GPS, & instrument cluster couldn't be read , roads slick, and jerks in cars and trucks were getting thicker, I knew this was the best course of action to take. Upon entering the parking lot the torrent of rain increased further confirming the righteousness of my decision to stop and try and sit things out. The McDonald's was full of other riders in varying degrees of riding gear afflicted by the rain ranging from those nattily attired in Aerostitch (like moi :P ) or the obligatory Harley Bad a$$ Do-rag and leather vests over black Tee shirts and engineer boots, all discussing the ride conditions to the north or south! Our late start in Key West and desire to get north had deprived us of the chance to partake of Pepe's famous breakfast menu , so we took advantage of the bill of fare to help pass the time. We impatiently watched the sky and traffic continue to be less than optimal for travel over an hour and finally couldn't stand to be immobile any longer . Remounting our trusty mounts we swung out onto the slowly moving mass of vehicles seeking to escape the Keys in the torrential rain. Who among us hasn't experienced the joys of bumper to bumper traffic crawling along under less than optimal weather conditions? Then you can imagine how my attitude and deportment were taking a real beating by these circumstances! Our late start, the weather, traffic and our safety halt all combined to make the journey to Homestead a 10 hour ride out of the" normal" 3 1/2 to 4 hour ride. Upon arrival at the junction of the Florida Turnpike and Route #1 , I was exhausted and pi$$ed off! We all discussed the plan of action and collectively decided to hold up for the night at the Homestead Air Reserve Base lodging, another safe and reasonably priced lodging option.
We checked into our dry clean rooms and put together the plan for the next day's ride and collectively decided to be ready to roll at 7:45 the next morning. My tired , cold aching body melted into my bed after a cold beer with my sons for a good night's sleep that was too short as indicated by my alarm clock seemingly minutes after I had laid down. I was pleasantly surprised by the sight of beautiful clear skies and my riding partners at their bikes loading up prior to the appointed time!!! :boogie: :boogie: My brother in law announced that he was planning on shooting up I-95 to get his rented Spyder back to the shop in 2 days and heading northwest would make him miss the date of return for the bike. We all sat down at the second most enjoyable road food joint, The Cracker Barrel for breakfast , but we didn't linger over our meal hoping to lay down some serious miles to make up for the previous day's ride. With our days goal of reaching northern Florida we set out to find US-27 on the west side of Homestead and said farewell to NIck. We found the target road and started north at a good clip (for being on a Ural) on the now four lane highway until the above posted picture was taken! The boat's tire spontaneously suffered a valve stem break flattening the tire. We quickly found a safe location to unload the bike and access the tools and spare tire and I demonstrated the technique of leaning the bike over to change the boat's tire to my son's amazement . We spent more time unloading and loading the bike than changing the flat tire.The worst part was the heat and humidity of the day and concern over the semi-trailers whizzing by us. We remounted our bikes and continued our travels north through the middle of Florida and the scenic Lake Okeechobee region and high quality four lane road that is US-27. As we ventured north the sun was higher in the sky and the road was reflecting the midday's heat upward requiring me to open my modular helmet's face piece and the vents on my Aerostitch to vent some of the heat away. The heat of the road was eased by the discovery of a walk in beer cooler at one of the gas stations we stopped at. My sons came looking for me after my disappearance from view and readily joined me when I shared information of my hiding place with them.After this episode of refrigeration we reluctantly reentered the midday's heat of Florida and resumed our ride north towards Tampa and the Georgia border. There was an conspiracy afoot as we motored northward, that was composed of heat, monotony,fatigue and the steady drone of my bike's engine all working in concert to put me to sleep! My timely response to the creeping somnolence conspiracy was to spy and act upon a sign announcing the sale of "Cuban Coffee" at an upcoming roadside bodega !
Stopping and dismounting my bike I opened the front zipper of my suit to locate my wallet to pay for a coffee con leache readily supplied by a very friendly baristia. Sitting in the shade of the establishment and discussing my sense of fatigue with my boys , they reported their observations of my wandering out of my lane for the last few miles and that stopping was truly in order.The thick warm flavorful drink was consumed and quickly followed by another along with a walk around the combination coffee shop, fruit stand resulting in my gaining a good second wind for the ride.
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Last edited by ClarkA on Mon Nov 18, 2013 1:48 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 Albuquralque » Mon Nov 18, 2013 12:30 pm

Keep it coming! :lurker:
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by sallen » Thu Nov 21, 2013 12:17 am

Awesome :boogie: , ride safe and keep us updated with your reports.
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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by ClarkA » Wed Dec 04, 2013 2:35 am

Well, I'm back in the proverbial writer's saddle after a work and Aleutian weather induced hiatus from the journey's saga. I last left you somewhere between Tampa, Florida on US-27 and the Georgia border recovering from road induced lethargy. To tell you the truth would be boring you so I'll not comment on our jumping onto I-75 and trekking northward to Valdosta , Georgia home of one my best "Army Buddies". We merry trio stopped for a free meal with my pal Joe who hadn't seen us in over 12 years and had known my boys since they were in diapers. Besides the joy of seeing an old friend , I was amazed by his peach picking cocker spaniel.Yes, the dog actually picked peaches from the tree and delivered them to us!Following the appropriate time to chat and shoot the bull with our Army stories,and our meal we were back on the slab heading for the Atlanta, GA area since my paranoia of road disaster insisted I have the mysterious sputter or was it a rumble looked at by a Ural shop. As we motored northbound to the worst "we'll keep the light on for you" motel just south of Atlanta off of I-75, threadbare sheets, no towels,poorly maintained rooms and broken TVs and no ground floor rooms as reserved awaited us. Since it was 2 Am when we got into our rooms we agreed to pi$$ and moan before and after we got some sleep!
The next day dawned and it was a very nice day for Christopher's 36th birthday, made better by my son Clark starting the day out right by finding and chewing out the motel manager/owner as a good Infantry Officer can, :boogie: to those who fail to meet his expectations.We loaded up and headed northward to the dealership to learn that " we were free to wait for the chance to have the bike looked at" but there was no promise I could be accommodated that day. The discussion between the group lead to a collective decision to push on since my imagined or feared problems hadn't reared it's head that day. As I stated earlier, my son Chris's boss refused him the time off to accompany us to Alaska, so we planned to ride up to Knoxville, TN for the night.This stop would provide a good position for Chris to break off from the tour and shoot home to Washington, DC. Our ride up to Tennessee across or along the Smokey Mountains was a series of leisurely 45 mph climbs up long gentle slopes often being passed by RV's pulling trailers! The advantage of this allowed me to take in some truly scenic views along I-75. During one of our fuel and pee stops , my son had a throttle cable break on his GS, quickly demonstrating his wrench skills and why his mother dispatched him as my keeper he switched out the cable in about 20 minutes.

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We remounted or rides and motored towards our night's destination of Knoxville, TN, which by the way is the hometown of Christopher's lovely and very smart girlfriend. I spied what I had been hoping to see on the next exit sign....Sonic Drive In! A quick drive down the street from the interstate was our next repast to celebrate my second born son's, day Chocolate Lava Cake with vanilla ice creme was in order for all! Following some sappy father talk to my sons about how much they meant to me and that the only thing better than having them with me , would be their mother joining us(on her BMW R850R) we were back on the road.We found our hotel in Knoxville, a couple of hours after nightfall and made our way to very opposite lodging from the previous nights stay.
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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 ClarkA » Wed Dec 04, 2013 3:23 am

s
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 Albuquralque » Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:57 am

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


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Re: Connecticut to Alaska via Key West Ride Report Blues

Post by reduc » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:44 am

Very nice narrative, Clark. Keep it coming.
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