Alaska trip by Alex Jomarron
I'm in a public library in Littleton, CO. I am considering going to
Colombine HS to perhaps pay my respects. Or maybe touch reality. I also
fear that I will be looked at as part of a herd of freaks who dig morbid
Within 30 miles of Chicago I experienced a nasty back end wobble with the
KLR. As many of you know I have aluminum bags and a XL drybag strapped to
the back. Plus you add my 200lbs and you have quite a load. I was in
denial about the weight being the problem. At a rest stop I called RevPack
and considered calling Aerostich to purchas some tank panniers to move
some of the bulk forward. I decided to be prudent and wait until the bike
actually spit me off! My thought then shifted to the cheap Kenda tires I
mounted. The tread is a knobby of deep tread depth. Squirmy unloaded,
death wobble loaded! When I hooked up with my friend Bruce in Omaha I
demonstrated the wobble by inducing it with a twitch of the bars. Bruce
was frightened! Anyway, the wobble is becoming less scary and I will
continue on. Once these tires melt away, I'm going with a set of gripsters
to compare. I hope/have to believe that it is the tires. We'll see!
I've met a few interesting people thus far. In Rock Falls, IL I had
breakfast with an elderly gent named Bill Baird. He's a VIP with the
American Motorcylist Assoc. We talked of riding, of course! He will be
inducted in the AMA Hall of Fame July 6.
At a rest stop in IA, I met an old guy who waxed nostalgic about his trip
to Mexico City aboard an Indian in 1949!! I couldn't help but think that I
would be doing the same someday. I can see meeting some young guys on
bikes and telling them my stories, whether they wanted to hear them or
not. In this case, I wanted to hear Mr. Tomlinson's stories.
In Omaha, Bruce and I were treated to some TREMENDOUS hospitality by Frank
and Sandy Tabor. I remain blwon away at how nice they are. Frank picked me
up at the hotel. We spent a few minutes looking over my KLR. At his house
I met his better half, Sandy. Frank had arranged to have some friends over
for a terrific BBQ dinner. I felt like a guest of honor and somewhat
embarrased. Their hospitality quickly got me over my feelings. Frank will
be heading to Prudhoe in August then continuing down to Tierra del Fuego.
We became email pals exchanging ideas and information. I wish him luck as
he embarks on a truly exciting ride. I hope that this meeting results in a
long lasting friendship.
Form Omaha we avoided the Interstates and evn hit a few gravel roads!
Preparation for Alaska I thought as Bruce felt tentative astride his
behemoth BMW R1100GS.
The ride continues. We'll be headed to Glenwood Springs for the weekend.
Today I'm going to watch Star Wars and attend the Rockies-Marlins baseball
game at Coors Field.
End Part 1
Greetings from Fallon, Nevada. The public libraries have been most
As it turned out, I did not go to Columbine. Although some unidentified
ass wrote me and gave me a ration about Ruby Ridge nad Waco. Those of you
that know me, know better.
The Rockies game was great. Rockies won on a bottom of the 9th home run!
Next stop was Glenwood Springs, CO. inhe midst of Strawberry Days. It was
the 102nd rendition of this fest! Needless to say we drank...a lot! The
next morning, sans hangovers, we rode toward Crawford to see Joe Cocker's
Roadhouse. At a summit, the skies opened up. Super travelers that we are,
we left our rain gear at the hotel. We doubled back and into a
microbrewery a block from the hotel. There we played pool for hours and
met some very colorful people. We met Redneck Chuck, Pocahantas, and Luis,
the self proclaimed "only Puerto Rican above 6,000 feet." Weird but fun
From Glenwood, we headed to Moab. We took Hwy 128 (?) and it was STUNNING!
I stopped in to see Fred Hink and, of course, spent some money! I had a
steel braided brakeline and Progressive Springs put on. Thanks Fred! The
bike has a COMPLETELY different feel about her now.
In Moab, Clint on his bloated R1100GS took to the Onion Creek Trail. Clint
is THE MAN! He had the bike on the verge of disaster a few times only to
make a save. I survived the trails and didn't drop my bike. Unlike Clint.
He dropped his in the middle of long ascent. Calling a Sikorsky helicopter
for a lift was out of the question. We ate some spinach and somehow lifted
Angus and pointed her down hill. I wanted to set her ablaze! Clint had had
enough and I continued, he returned. The trail got easy. I ended up
meeting Clint on the road at a construction stop. If you stop in Moab eat
at the SlickRock Cafe. Really good food!
From there we took a major detour to Rachel, NV and the Extra-Terrestrial
Highway. Apparently this is where the famed "area 51" is. We stopped in a
a hokey diner called the Ale-Le-Inn complete with Alien memorabilia
everywhere. It was cool. I like stuff like that!
From there, Bruce, CLint and I split up. It was a great time and we vowed
to make it a yearly event.
Now the KLR.
The bike has NOT missed a beat in 2,800 miles. No noticable oil has been
consumed. The Scottoiler continues to do what is expected. Chasing the
R1100GSes at 80-85 has brought the gas mileage down to 37 mpg! Now that
I'm alone and slowed waaay down, the bike is getting 49-54 mpg. The rear
Kenda is starting to chunk its center lugs. These tires are crap! In a
sense, it is a blessing because I'll be getting new Gripsters in either
Portland or Seattle. This way I'll do most of the trip and return with
good tires. Oh well, a lesson learned. By the way, the wobble has
decreased as dramatically as the tread depth!
I'm an hour away from Reno to do tomorrow's Dual Sport ride. Newscasts
show a wild fire burning nearby. I wonder if the ride will be cancelled.
Thanks for all your words of encouragement.
Oak Park, IL USA
End Part 2
Greetings from the Rose City-Portland, Oregon!
When I last wrote, I was in Fallon, NV. Upon leaving the library, a young
man approached and asked about the KLR. What ensued is not too uncommon to
me when I'm on the road. I heard this guys life story. He was from Santa Fe,
NM and was looking to return. He hated Fallon, especially its racism. As one
of the few African Americans I've seen in this neck of the woods, I
understood his discomfort. A few days later while sitting on a bench sucking
down a Coke at a filling station in Klamath Falls, OR, I had the same
conversation with an employee from Guatemala. It made me sad to hear their
tales. They were two run of the mill nice guys. Both were articulate and
frustrated at the injustice. I'll never understand bigotry.
I arrived at the Reno 200 HQs at the Boomtown gambling complex at the west
end of Reno, NV. The parking lot was filling up with dual sport bikes. Most
of them had been hauled in. I scanned some of the bikes and found many were
barely street legal. Some were so blatant that they had turn signals bolted
on, but not wired. Serious dirt bikes. Once again, I found myself in waaaay
over my head. That evening I managed to make $100 last 3 hours at the
Blackjack table. I enjoyed the typical rollercoaster ride.
The morning found me claiming my Reno 200 packet, complete with roll chart
detailing the ride directions. I was hesitant to leave. KLRist Kurt Simpson
of SLC had to cancel and I had no other moral support for this endeavor. I
finally left after no one noticed that I had no idea what I was doing. The
initial part of ther ride was uneventful. My 3 prior forays off road had
proven to be invaluable! Then came the sand. I HATE sand. I was going from
one side of the "road" to the other. I felt like a pinball. Finally, I lost
control and hit a berm (dirt curb to you non riders) and came to an abrupt,
yet upright stop. Then came the washed out road sections. "Washed out" means
rocks. I lost control in one of these sections too! I found myself a bit
sideways, with both feet off the pegs waiting to crash. I blipped the
throttle and the KLR straightened up and saved our asses. I'd like to take
credit for the save but it would be a lie. I had a lot of fun on the ride
and did NOT crash! The bike plonked along just fine despite my attempts to
get it horizontal.
There were a few lowlights that accompanied the ride as well. There were
three serious injuries; a broken ankle, a broken femur, and a more serious
one. An older guy had struck a gully and went over the bars. He hit his
helmeted head and back. He had no feeling in his legs. I was there when a
Life Flight Helicopter evacuated him to a Reno truama center. Thankfully
there were paramedics on the ride, and someone who came with a cell phone
and a GPS. His status was unknown as of Saturday night.
Near the end of the ride, I hooked up with Chris Beasley and Chris Reno, Bay
area KLRists. Near the end of the ride, Reno's KLR had shorn 3 of the 4
subframe bolts. Using some straps and scavenging some bolts he made a
Macguyver like repair and finished the ride. His frame failure had me
worried about my bike. A later inspection of my bike relieved me.
That night at the host club's (Dust Devils) banquet, the emcee called out my
friend Bruce for the Long Distance Award. Since he never arrived, I won the
award. I had to explain that Bruce (from Pittsburgh) decided to trade in his
R1100GS for a new K1200RS at Salt Lake BMW. He won't be doing much off road
work on that missle. After the banquet, I was partying with tbe Bay area
guys. At 2am, I found myself in the hotel restuarant having an omelette,
hash browns, toast, and a vanilla shake! Well, it sounded good at the time!
I decided to blow off day 2 of the ride. It was going to be in Nevada and I
figured that I'd see more sand. I hate sand. Plus I had a lot to lose. If I
crashed and hurt myself or the bike, my Alaska goal would be in jeopardy.
So off I went. I rode to Crater Lake National Park. I camped for the first
time this trip. I still remember how to put up the tent. The mosquitos were
out in force. My Avon-Skin so Soft worked.....for awhile. Then they
attacked. Crater Lake is a caldera filled with water. It is along a Cascade
chain of volcanic mountains that make up the western US portion of the
Pacific plate. Anyway, it is truly a geologic specatacle.
Here I met a tranplanted Brit who just completed a ride to Alaska 2 weeks
prior. He was very enthusiastic as he told me his stories. We ran into each
other a few times that morning, much to the chagrin of his travelling
companions. Bikers, you can't shut them up! I had been contemplating losing
some weight for awhile. I stopped at post office in some small town and
unloaded the bike and looked everything over. I shipped back the tank bag,
some T-shirts, redundant tools, stove, cookset, and other miscellaneous
crap. All told, 2 boxes, 19 lbs, and $25. What a revelation! If I do my
world trip, I'll keep the cookset, but I must bring less clothes and do more
laundry! I actually like not having such easy access to the map. It is also
more like to decrease the probability of my rearending some vehicle as I
glance down to see, yet again, where I'm at!
I stopped in a cheap hotel in Bend. Next door was a theater and I took in my
3rd movie of the trip. In order I've seen Star Wars, Austin Powers (Yeah,
baby!), and (I'm afraid ot admit it) Big Daddy. It was moronic, but funny. I
guess I'm a moron. In the morning I stopped in a cafe and had breakfast. I
ordered an Emu (Ostrich relative) sausage omlette. I don't care for Emu. Now
I rode up to the Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood. The lodge's interior was used
for the movie The Shining. Nicholson was great in that scary part. Mt Hood
is reknown for its year round skiing. The parking lot was awash with skiers
and Generation X Snowboarders. I hooked up my 80-200mm zoom and lens doubler
and took some pics of some mountaineers attempting a summit. The polarizer
filters do make a tremendous difference. I can't wait to see some of my
shots. I also just found out that Craig, a friend from NYC is enroute to
Olympia, WA to join me for the Alaska leg of the trip. It will be nice to
have a fellow rider along for the wilderness portion.
BIKE STUFF: The KLR continues to impress me! I've ridden 3700 trouble free
miles. The bike has not missed a beat an starts up instantly. Scanning the
oil sight glass, it has not used any perceptable oil. Which reminds me, I'm
due to change the oil! The Kendas LIVE!!!!! They appear to be 50-60% worn,
but have cracks. I'm going to line up a rear tire (Gripster) here in
Portland or Seattle. If not, I'll order one from BMW Bob in Chicago and have
it sent to a Mail Boxes Etc in Fairbanks. The wobble I suffered from the
start have all but disappeared. They did perform admirably off road in the
Reno 200 though. The Scottoiler, continues to leak oil as intended. In fact,
the bottle that came with the unit will last the ENTIRE trip! The chain and
sprockets look good! I went over the bike and found only an exhaust manifold
bolt loose. So far, she's holding together! One last thing, in Moab I bought
some HD straps to hold down my dry bag. I have finally ditched bungees.
Straps are the way to go. No flex, no hook in the eye! In closing (finally,
eh!), the trip has been a blast so far. I've met a lot of cool people and
seen many great vistas. As usual while on the bike I've spent a lot of time
thinking. I've been thinking how lucky I am. I have a great job, wonderful
family, and really good friends. I'm blessed. I'm thankful. I guess it's
just those experiences and feelings that keep me travelling. Some ask what
am I running away from. I believe that I'm running toward these
The URL (thanks Chuck!) below shows the text of an article about my trip
that appeared in the 6/27 edition of the Chicago Tribune. I've used up my 15
minutes of fame!
Alex in Portland, for now....
Oak Park, IL USA
End Part 3
Greetings from Fairbanks!
The library here closes in 15 so I'll do my best to update.
The ride from Haines passed Kluane Park. It was as usual gorgeous. As I
mentioned before, Fred/Derrick left us. Too bad, Craig and I were
fantasizing what we could do to get rid of him. Some popular ideas were
telling him we're either Evangelical Christians or Homosexual. Oh well....
My Scottoiler lost it's final tube. I repaired it using some wire
insulation I found in a parking lot. I felt so MacGuyver-like!
When we finally arrived in Dawson City we could hardly see it. Apparently
there was a wild fire just across the border in Alaska. The town was cool.
All dirt roads and boardwalk for sidewalks. We met the horse mounted
Mountie. He was originally from Montreal adn talked about how much he
liked Dawson. We compared city crime and rural crime and then youth drug
use. Seems it's prevelant everywhere.
We rode the Top of the World Highway to Chicken Alaska. What an awesome
road. Here we came upon a Goldwing rider who deposited his bike and
trailer into a ditch. Miraculously, he was okay. The bike was a bit
lighter having donated some of its fairing parts in the ditch. Aaaaah the
joys of riding in gravel!
Alex in Fairbanks
on the way to Denali National Park!
Oak Park, IL USA
End Part 4
Date: 28-Jul-1999 11:44:46
Greetings from Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada.
I'm out of Alaska so I guess I should change the subject line!
I'm here hiding out from the rain as I await the ferry tomorrow at 5:30
Eric, Craig and I rendezvoused at the Wildlife Quest Tour offices in
Seward, AK. Wildlife offers tours of the Kenai Fjords National Park aboard
their swift Catmaran. The toru was terrrific as we saw Orcas, Humpbacks,
seals, glaciers, and numerous birds. The $99 cost was well worth it.
We stayed at the Seward Hostel which cost $16. There I met a guy who was a
professor of Political Science at a university in Cairo, Egypt. We had a
nice conversation about Islamic Fundamentalism and the West. He was very
interesting and VERY opinionated. The morning saw us say our goodbyes.
Craig was off to Kodiak, Eric to ride to Haines. Eric and I were to meet
in Juneau. I then went off to buy a ticket aboard the Alaska Marine
Highway System ferry to Juneau. All they had was standby, but everyone
assured me that bikes"always" get on. In fact, tomorrow, I'm in the same
boat (pun intended!).
I spent the next 3 days aboard the M/V Kennicot. I had numerous
conversations with kayakers, Rvers, and of course, bikers. I slept on the
chair portion of a booth in the forward observation deck. The trick here
is to leave your vehicle and run up to the solarium and stake out a chaise
lounge. As I was the last to board with a standby ticket, I was screwed.
The car deck was closed throughout most of the trip. I had left my
toiletries on the bike. Even though on this trip, hygiene seems to go on
vacation too, I wanted/needed a shower. When we pulled into Valdez, I went
down to the cabin deck with an empty film cannister. I found the maid's
cart and swiped a towel and snuck into the shower. I filled the cannister
with hand soap and never did a shower feel so good! Neccesity is indeed
the mother of invention. I figured if I got caught, I'd apply the old
adage, that it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission! I must say,
my boots STINK! I've been wearing them wet and dry now for 41 days. I
believe them to be lethal within a 10' range!
The 3 day boat ride offered a much needed repsite from the daily routine
of riding. Although the ships hum and gentle rolling lulled me into
numerous naps. While awake I finally got a chance to read Jon Krakauer's
book; Into Thin Air. It is an account of the Everst tragedy that claimed
several lives in '96. It was a GREAT read. I found out George Mallory, who
died on the moutain, and whose body was just recently found, coined the
phrase;"because it is there", in response to a reporter's question about
why he was climbing the mountain. Although my trips aren't really
comparable to climbing, I can understand why they climb,
After Valdez, I couldn't help but think of Capt Joe Hazelwood and the ill
fated Exxon Valdez. What a beautiful place and what a tragedy that he has
to shoulder. We hit open water and I observed many sea birds. They were
far from land. I couldn't help but think that I too couldn't see home, but
I know it's out there somewhere.
On the boat, kids grew restless and played games that they wouldn't
ordinarily play if at home and surrounded with their usual assortment of
amusements. An imagination is a wonderful thing to observe among
youngsters. Adults idled away in conversations with strangers, immersed in
books, or just in silence. As the boat pitched and rocked I thought of my
own plans to retire and buy a 40' sailboat to sail the world. The sea can
be an unforgiving place. During a meal, an employee mentioned to me a guy
in Juneau who had purchased a 37' sailboat and was about to embark on
global trip. Thing is, he has never sailed before. I'd like to meet him.
Some would think he a fool. I'm sure at some level he knows what he's
We arrived at Juneau and after seeing my bike buried behind other bikes
and cars, I decided to reticket for Prince Rupert. For a moment, I thought
of just getting a passeger ticket as my bike remained on board, but I was
afraid of the consequences. Here I bought Krakauer's other book, Into the
Wild about a kid who ventured into the Alaskan wilderness only to die 3-4
months later. As the rain falls, I feel like a homeless guy seeking
shelter, idling away the time..
Alex in Prince Rupert
Oak Park, IL USA
End Part 5
I made the boat after all!
After camping in the rain 2 miserable days, waking up at 4:30 a.m., I rode
into the ferry terminal and was the 3rd standby motorcyle boarded. What a
While in Rupert I had arranged my contingency plan of storing my
motorcycle for $3 a day. I also packed my stuff as if I would be a walk on
passenger. Karma prevails! At the campground I befriended Rick and
"Violent", yes you read that correctly. Violent is a Harley guy who is
heading to Sturgis from Arizona via Alaska. They were doing the combat
camping thing avoiding commercial camprgrounds. They even had camofluage
(sp?) tarps to hide their bikes in the woods!
It's funny how you always learn stuff on these trips. I set up my tent
rather nonchalantly and when the rains came, paid for it. My expensive
Northface tent, which I have dubbed "Das Boot" leaked because of my
carelessness. Needless to say I had 2 miserable soggy nights in the tent.
The BC Ferry to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island wasn't as nice as the
Alaska Marine Highway System ferry ships I had been on. Although cruising
through the Inside Passage, even in the mist, was spectacular. At one
point dolphins were playing in our wake. The passage was made extra
special by reuniting with Eric who Craig and I met in Fairbanks.
When we docked in Hardy, I came to realize my mistake of not taking 2
nights reservations in Pt McNeill. ALL the hotels/and B&Bs were booked
solid. There were several tour busses on board and surely they swallowed
the rooms up. Not wanting to camp in my soggy gear, I went into commando
mode. In McNeill, I found a high school. We rode around back and sure
enough, there was a nice awning covering the rear entrance to the school.
Eric was bit apprehensive at first, but soon was snoring. 7 in the morning
found us awakened by a faculty member who warned us that maintenace was
coming. I felt like my mom was telling me that my dad was going to find
out. We quickly packed and left not wanting to tell the local gendarmes
that we, 2 teachers, were sleeping at the school!
At this point, Eric took his ailing BMW south. I had to kill time before
my room was ready. Breakfast, a minor repair to the Scottoiler AGAIN!,
shopping for snacks for the paddle trip, and some long needed Lysol for
the camp and riding gear. I sprayed the hell out of my boots. God they
stink! After a looong shower I've been watching the Sox game. Gee, I'm
almost home! It's hard to believe that I'll be home within 10 days. To
parphrase the Grateful Dead, "what a long strange trip it's been."
A friend emailed me and asked what changes did expect this trip to make in
me. I thought it a good question that the answer won't be limited to this
response. I spent a time on the ferries contemplating....life...as usual.
After reading Into the Wild and Into Thin Air (BOTH GREAT books!) I came
to further realize that what I do is not so far fetched. I simply like to
travel and all that comes with it. I like to see new things, I like to
meet new people, no matter how short the encounter lasts. Travel feeds my
soul. I hope to never have to stop. I think that if you move about this
world with your eyes open the wonders both animate and inanimate unfold.
Soon some of you will be held hostage by me as I show you my pictures and
tell stories. I'll try to remain aware of wether or not you're awake!!!!
Alex in Port McNeill, BC.
Tomorrow I kayak w/Willy! ;-)
End Part 6
Home at last, I'm home at LAST!
I arrived home Thursday night at 9:30 after a Herculean run non stop, sans
a 3 hour nap, from Bozeman, Montana. 1300 miles in 34 hours. On the
KLR.... I did the last 1000 miles in 23 hours including the 3 hour nap.
The day I had long anticipated had arrived. I was about to embark on
kayaking the Johnstone Strait. It has the largest concentration of Killer
Whales in the world. Aside from Prudhoe Bay, this was the focal point of
my trip. Due to a mental block I missed the dinner the night before with
the guides and other clients. There were 2 guides, Brian and Gillian, and
9 clients. Lucky me, I got to paddle a solo boat! We carried the kayaks
down the slippery moss covered boat ramp. I thought of the PowerBar
commercial that states,"don't bonk" as a pallbeared drops a coffin. Man,
talk about the pressure. I was amazed at how heavy Brian's kayak was. I
have never packed mine with anything. His was as heavy as my motorcycle.
After a few hours of paddling, we made it to our base camp. It was a beach
made up of smooth rocks that had some large driftwood timbers just beyond
the high tide line. Pretty cool.
We next took a short paddle to the next beach and began a short hike up to
a bluff overlooking the strait. Brian didn't tell me it was a vertical
hike! I, like everyone else, was wearing Tevas or water socks. We climbed
up a few home made ladders, used a rope to traverse another vertical
section, and used tree roots to pull ourselves up other sections. I wasn't
a kid who climbed for giggles, so I wasn't in my comfort zone. Man, peer
pressure still works! I kept envisioning my obituary, " kayaker plunges to
his death in climbing accident."
We set up our tents, and I chose the only sight on the beach. I couldn't
wait to hear the exhalations of the whales! After a terrific meal, Brian
and I shared a beer and just BSed. We turned in. At 1:30 am, I was
awakened by the sounds of thundering surf. I unzipped my tent vestibule
and to my horror, the water was a mere 5 feet away. My tent was behind
some driftwood logs and I hoped I would have been protected. I could not
fall back asleep until 6ish as the tide began to recede. I never did hear
The next day was spent paddling and we didn't see any whales. Apparently
the whales had gone to the NW corner of the island in search of salmon.
Brian and Gillian felt bad. Fortunately our group was understanding. There
was nothing they could do. Nonetheless, I had a terrific time. Paddling
with that group felt like paddling with friends. Brian and Gillian each
possess an easy smile and a mischevious sense of humor. I like them both
and hope to see them again. Beware though. During our conversations our
group came up with a Captain Ron scenario and devised the trip from hell
for Brian and Gillian. So if you book a trip with them
(http://www.island.net/~pne/) make sure they didn't win the lottery!
The last day we paddled in and remained Orcaless. Despite this,
the trip was fantastic. I had never been on a multi day tour before,
preferring to go it alone. These guys will be a tough act to follow.
I left Telegraph Cove at 4 pm. My arms tired from paddling. I began the
southward track on Vancouver Island. I felt strange riding again. I hadn't
ridden at all in 9 days. It took awhile to get the riding rhythm back.
When I reached the town of Campbell River, I was awestruck at the sight of
the coastal mountains of mainland British Columbia. Man, after all these
miles I was still in the midst of such raw beauty.
I arrived in Nanaimo and decided to skip Victoria. I only had a day to
spend there and I figured it was a good reason to return! I hopped on a
ferry at 10:45 pm and headed to Vancouver. At 1 am I was checked into a
Super 8 between Blaine and Bellingham, Washington. The next morning was
beautiful as a rode across Highway 20 through the Cascades. I finally got
to see mountains in that state! I rode all the way to Kellogg, Idaho and
pulled into a nondescript but cheap ($23) motel.
The morning brought some concern. My odometer read 19,000+ miles. The
chain began to slip through the countershaft sprocket. Upon closer
inspection, the gears were worn to nubs! The chain pins that held the
links had varying diameters. He chain was wasted. I rode into Missoula,
Montana and found the Kawi dealer. Nothing in parts to help me. I
continued on. I reached Bozeman just as a storm started to brew. While
looking for a motel, I found a Kawi dealer. The owner was outside loading
a 4 wheeler into his truck. We chatted about KLRs and Alaska. He told me
he was sure he could help me in the morning. I had a mediocre pizza
delivered for dinner. When you live in Chicago, you become spoiled by the
The next morning I had the chain replaced, but no sprocket. The chain
would have to do. I left Bozeman at 11 am. I recalled a previous trip when
my BMW R100RS charging system went on the fritz, and Bob Honemann
suggested that I piggy back a used car battery to the bike and ride home.
I rode that 1500 miles in 2 days. Maybe Montana and I weren't meant to be!
Just past Billings, I took highway 212 which saved me a few miles over
continuing on I-90. In Belle Fourche, South Dakota, I turned right on the
road back to I-90. I looked at the gas station to my right and saw a
familiar bike. A white Kawasaki Concours with some monstrous PIAA driving
lamps mounteed on the fairing lowers. I turned into the parking lot. There
sat Mark Dambrowski and Jim Lingert They both live in northeastern
Illinois and I haven't seen either of them in 5 years. We used to ride the
endurance rallies in Nevada in the late 80s. Needless to say we were
dumbfounded by the million to one coincidence that had befallen us. After
a few hours visiting and reminiscing, I continued down the road. It was
10:30. I rode until 3:30 am and took a nap at a rest stop somewhere in
South Dakota. I awoke at dawn and proceeded. 10:30 found me nodding out
and having another nap at yet another rest stop. I crossed the Illinois
border at 8:15 pm. I was never happier to pay tolls. As I rode toward home
I observed a spectacular sunset in my mirrors. How appropriate that I
watched the sun set as the trip came to its conclusion.....
Miles ridden: 11068
Longest day: 1042 miles
States visited: 14
Bike dropped: Zero!!
Front Kenda lived for the ENTIRE journey. Not bad for $18!
Failures: 1 tail light bulb; radiator fan switch stayed on one night after
Cool people met: countless
Assholes met: less than 4 (1 internet guy)
Scottoiler: Worked well. However as I viewed what was left of my stock
chain, I realized that the thing really oils half the chain. Perhaps I
should splice the line and lube both sides! It did blow out 2 final tubes.
I ended up duct taping the last piece to the main body and hope that will
end the trend.
Overall the KLR did it's job. I did wish for more power at times and a
more comfortable seat on all the long days. I still like the bike, but may
consider a Tiger or even (still) a used R80 GS. A shortcoming of the bike
was how adversely the weight affected the bike in terms of power and
handling. If I needed speed it wasn't there. But, hey, I'm back home!
This is the final dispatch. Thanks for all the kind words and
encouragement from those of you who took the time to write. I enjoyed
sharing the trip as it offered another chance to reflect on what ad
transpired. Now I'm going to spend the next few days absorbing it all. I
look at a map on my wall. I can't believe I rode to Prudhoe Bay.....
Oak Park, IL USA
Final Part 7
Click on the mailbox to reach Alex.