Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Alaska trip by Alex Jomarron

Greetings everyone!
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 stuff.

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.

Til later!
End Part 1

Greetings from Fallon, Nevada. The public libraries have been most acommodating!

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 evening.

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.

Alex Jomarron
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 know......

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 things........

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!,1051,SAV-9906270137,00.html

Alex in Portland, for now....
Alex Jomarron
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!

More later!

Alex in Fairbanks
on the way to Denali National Park!
Alex Jomarron
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 a.m.!

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 doing. 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

Alex Jomarron
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 relief!

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 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 any whales!

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 ( 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 pizza!

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.....

Trip stuff:
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 heavy rain.
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.....

Alex Jomarron
Oak Park, IL USA

Final Part 7

Click on the mailbox to reach Alex.