I found this very good, well experienced sidecar rig in Greenwood, Louisiana, about 150 miles from where I live. It is a 2003 Suzuki VL800 with a 2006 Velorex Sidecar. It belonged to the original owner who bought the bike new in 2004, and added the sidecar in 2006. With only 52,000 mile on the clock I figured it was broken in and had proved itself over the years. When I went to see the rig I informed the owner that I had never driven or even ridden in a sidecar. He trusted me enough to let me take it for a test drive (not having a clue what to look for or expect). I departed and returned complete and knowing this was an adventure I had to experience. He made me a fair price and I brought it home. I spent the first week driving it around the neighborhood at 20 to 25 MPH. Right hand turns are a real experience (the sidecar wheel wants to fly – something to do with centrifugal force) for a newbie, but on week two I sucked it up and took it to the highway (actually Farm to Market Roads) and got up to 55. Big grin! Got home safe again. So, I’ve been doing a little maintenance on the rig, riding it more, and the smile is still there and the confidence is building. July 1st. I am scheduled for a Sidecar Driving Class. I am really looking forward to this class and developing new skilled and getting introduced more into the world of weird.
08/04/19 – Update With Pictures
As I was organizing (I really am a very organized person) some of my notes and pictures from the trip, I came across these.
This was where we took the wrong turn (we didn’t get lost, we just were not where we wanted to be. Don’t have any information about the area, just a beautiful view we came across near Marron Valley, BC.
It was so impress the Colonel wanted a picture, too.
We saw a lot of motorcycles on this trip. See the lights to the left. He didn’t appear to be lost.
When we crossed into the USA we wanted a picture of some kind of sign saying, “Welcome To The United States of America”. We looked all around the boarder crossing area, and nothing. This was our welcome home sign. Pretty damn nice even if I do say, So.
As I’ve mentioned before, some of the best experiences when traveling are when you come across something that is not planned. When I was growing up my Mother mentioned her trip to the west coast after finishing high school. Something that impressed her most was the Grand Coulee Dam. We just happened to be passing by; I can see how a young lady from northwest Arkansas would be impressed.
The Colonel was pretty impressed with the shade and a place to get out of the heat.
The next time I got the camera out was in Vernon, TEXAS. This will go into my TEXAS Courthouse blog. It’s the Wilbarger County Courthouse.
That’s it for now. More later, Bud…
07/29/19 – 08/01/19 Got Home and Still Trying to Catch Up…
The computer I carry on my road trips has developed an illness, so some of my problems were not just internet related. There’s a .exe that fires off periodically and consumes 80-90% of memory. Since I couldn’t fix it in the hotel room, I decided to wait till I got home and post what I thought was kind of interesting. After traveling in Canada, the farmland of mid-America is pretty boring and not very photogenic. Here goes for the last 4 days of a fantastic road trip.
07/29/19 – Scottsbluff, Nebraska to Hays, Kansas. The most exciting thing to watch alone this route is the miles to the next destination on the GPS. Last time I road through so many corn fields was in central Illinois when I was working there from 2004-2008. Needless to say I took no pictures.
After a long day on a motorcycle seat you are looking forward to a nice hotel room so you can kick-off your boots and chill, and maybe enjoy a chilling BOC. We got to the Super 8 in Hays, went in to register, and “booking.com had once again screwed up my reservation.” While I was making the reservation the night before the Colonel said, “are you really going to trust booking.com after they messed up the reservation in Watson Lake?” Should have listened to his wisdom. The good part is the young man working that evening felt sorry for us and gave us a room for less than the missed reservation price. The other bad thing is it was on the 2nd floor, and it takes me 3 trips to unload my bike.
BTW – Rob and Matt have been home since Thursday, the 25th. They just might have made a World Record for the quickest trip to Alaska and back. Welcome home.
07/30/19 – Hays, Kansas to Breckenridge, Texas. Long Hot Day. The Colonel and I got a relatively early start for us. We would ride together to Woodward, Oklahoma. Then he would head east to Edmond and I would continue south to somewhere in TEXAS, depending on the temperature, time and conditions.
Crossing into Oklahoma, the temps got to 92. We stopped for lunch in Woodward, and after lunch we said our goodbyes and headed in our preferred directions. When I was slowing to make my turn south, the Colonel turn the wick up on his Harley and reminded me of an ol’ horse heading for the barn. He was heading home. Great ride Sir, we must do it again sometime.
As I crossed into TEXAS, I was welcomed home by 102 degree temperatures. At one stop the air temp on the bike read 112 (probable effected by the engine temperature or maybe the pavement where I was parked). This meant I would be stopping more often and consuming more water at each stop. I would normally carry water on the bike, but it’s impossible to drink from a plastic bottle with a full-face helmet on. The stops were good, gave me a little relief from the bike seat and kept me hydrated. Took a two hour break in Vernon, just to get out of the heat. Got a picture of the Wilbarger County Courthouse and had an early dinner. When I got back on the road the temp had dropped to 92. Road on to Breckenridge and stayed at the Notel Motel (Regency Inn, not bad for the price).
07/31/19 – Breckenridge to Temple. Breckenridge is the County Seat for Stephens County; however, it was too late when I got there to take a picture and too early (before the sun came up) when I was leaving. So, I’ll have to come back later.
Rode to Eastland in the dark. I do not like doing that. 30 minutes before daylight is the time when animals are out looking for food before it starts to get too hot. The speed limit was 75, but I stayed between 50 and 55 with my bright lights on for the entire 32 miles to Eastland. Had breakfast at 2 Grany’s. Good breakfast at a fair price, good service, and a nice visit with the locals; worth going back.
Got to Temple about 10:30. Va was in Austin so I had the house to myself. Got out of my riding gear and took a 3 hour nap – well deserved, even if I do say so myself. When she got home we had a nice H-E-B prepared meal and went to bed early, still daylight.
08/01/19 – Temple to Coldspring. Pretty easy day, the hardest part is loading and unloading the bike. I am glad to get home. Took another nap. Got up about 2:30 and drove my truck to the local watering-hole to get caught up on what’s happened while I was gone. No one wanted to hear about my trip, so I had to hear about their fishing stories.
I’ll do another post later to summarize the trip. Hope you’ll stick around for it.
07/28/19 -Billings to Scottsbluff
No pictures, just making our way home. Took I-90 to Buffalo, Montana. Pretty uneventful. 80 MPH for 150 miles. Then I-25, and it is in terrible condition. The Al-Can is smoother and in better condition. This thing will shake your bones loose. This was a better test of the Africa Twin than 8,000 mile trip to Alaska. Oh, BTW – I repaired the leaking fork seals in Penticton, and they are holding good.
The weather has been very warm. We went from 60’s in Alaska and British Columbia to 80’s and 90’s once we got to the states. Just part of motorcycle travel.
Tomorrow we head for Hays, Kansas. My computer is acting up, so I’m gone. I’ll check in tomorrow.
07/25-27/19 – Back in the USA…
We made it back to the homeland.
Spent Thursday (7/25) heading for Penticton, BC, about 340 miles from Williams Lake. Penticton is a lakeside tourist town. Right next to the lake and the lake goes on for 30 miles. The terrain is beautiful, but not photo worthy. After seeing the scenery we have for the past two weeks, this is just real pretty, with a lot of people. We had lunch at the Hwy 97 Diner. Kind of a 50’s 60’s theme diner with some old cars and trucks parks around the property. More classics than Janie has at the HillTop, and the wait staff was much more efficient – older, but better. Sorry HIllTop.
Friday, 7/26, we crossed the boarder into the US. Not much on our side, but the folks going into Canada were backed up forever. We saw a group of Harley riders (8 or 10) and figured their wait time would be closet to an hour. About 20 mile down the road we passed about 20 bikes heading for Canada – good luck guys, this might be how you spend your weekend.
As we crossed into the US the first 40 miles was vineyards and fruit orchards. This area is considered a high-desert and with the lakes being right there, it makes a perfect environment for growing crops. Reminds me of the Rio Grande Valley.
Made it to Haugen, Montana for the evening. Stayed at the 50,000 Silver Dollar Casino and Motel. Cheap, but nice rooms.
We took I-90 out of Spokane and for the first 30 miles it is nothing but stop and go traffic. As we got to the Idaho state line it became a great twisty-turn high-speed motorcycle road. It goes on till we needed to stop for the evening, and found a room in Haugan, Montana; the casino motel.
Saturday morning (7/27) we got an early start and took off for Billings Montana, 440 miles east on I-90. We’re back at the Vegas Hotel in Billings.
The bikes are running perfect. Cursing on the interstate at 80 MPH and getting 40 miles to the gallon. Gas in the US is about a $1/gal. less here, but this trip is already way over budget.
Tomorrow we head for Scottsbluff, Nebraska. I’ll let you know how that leg goes.
07/19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24th, 2019 A Catch-up Post
With the lack of internet services over the past few days I couldn‘t post regularly, and got way behind. I now have a good connection (probably should not get too over excited, it might not last). Plan is to try to remember what happened on what days and which picture goes with the thought. Now if I could even remember what I had for breakfast…
July 19th – We (Rob, Matt, Jim, and myself took off from Tok, Alaska going to Haines Junction, Yukon. We took a beer break at Destruction Bay’s only gas, food, and motel. Decided we should make room reservations in Haines Junction, hahaha. Nothing available; however, the Destruction Ritz had rooms, and we all agreed the smart thing to do was stop here for the night. They do have food, beds, and beer. So, we did.
Destruction Bay is right on the edge of Lake Kluane. This is one big lake. It’s even bigger than Lake Livingston. Here’s a shot, but not from the motel.
July 20th – Got ready to go to breakfast, and Matt and Rob were waiting by the bikes. They were going to skip breakfast and get an early start going east. They planned to go back the route The Colonel and I took coming to Alaska; north from Calgery through Banff and Jasper National Parks. The Colonel and I were not going to miss a meal, and we had plans to go to Haines, Alaska. to see if we might get to watch the bears fishing for salmon.
We made it to Haines, but the bears were not hungry.
Our trip was not wasted because we got to meet some really nice folks in Haines. We met eight bicycle rides at dinner (We both had grilled salmon at the Lighthouse Restaurant – yum). The interesting thing about this cycling club is the youngest rider was 72, the oldest 86. They were from Vancouver, BC and touring the Yukon and southern edge of Alaska. Riding a motorcycle from Texas to Alaska isn’t very impressive when compared to the accomplishments of these folks.
July 21st – This morning we took the ferry from Haines to Skagway. It’s only an hour trip, but we had to get up at 4:30 AM to make a 7:00 AM launch. We met our bicycling friends while waiting for the ferry, and all agreed to meet for breakfast in Skagway.
Here’s a picture of the ferry. I couldn’t get the whole boat/ship, only the front.
Here’s a picture of the cyclist.
From Skagway, Alaska we rode to Watson Lake, yukon. We saw a few bears, but did not get any pictures. We stayed at the Big Horn Motel again.
I guess this is the turning-around point of our trip to Alaska. Tomorrow we start heading south.
This is a blog about motorcycle travel to Alaska, and I’ve spent much more time posting about wildlife and people we met along the way than motorcycles. Traveling on a motorcycle attracts people with questions and conversations. I really enjoy that aspect. On the other hand, motorcycles tend to scare away wildlife. Wish I had more photos to share.
Now about the motorcycle I am riding. 2017 Honda Africa Twin. Started with 2500 miles on the odometer. At 6000 miles the left front fork seal started to leak. At 7500 miles the right fork started leaking. Other than that the bike is running great, handles great, has a very hard seat, and gets about 45 miles to the gallon. I’m not much on MPGs on motorcycles, but it is important to keep track of when you only get 200 miles to the tankful, and gas stops can be 100 miles apart. You can’t miss a fuel stop. I’ll have the forks looked at when we get to the states.
July 22nd – Watson Lake to Stewart, BC. When we left Watson Lake we didn’t plan to go to Stewart. We were going to Meziadin Junction. Showed on Google Maps to be 320 miles. Well, it isn’t. It’s almost 400 miles, and the trip was cold, wet, and tiring. It rained for 144 miles. The high temperature during this part of the ride was 54. We saw one animal, a fox that looked as wet and cold as we were. Got to Dease Lake, the rain stopped. We changed socks and dried as much as we could. I had an elk burger; pretty tasty.
When we got to the Junction the rooms that were available we at a work camp and the rooms were converted shipping containers – 2 rooms with shared bath. We asked the lady at the desk if there was anything else nearby and she suggested the King Edward Hotel in Stewart. So, off we went for Stewart. The 40 miles was beautiful and dry.
Got checked in to The King Edward Hotel, went across the street for dinner. About the time they served our supper a thunderstorm came through and the electricity went off. Of course in this part of the world it’s daylight till, will all night. So, we didn’t have to eat in the dark. But, when we got to our room to post in this blog – no electricity and no internet. So, the updates would have to wait.
Slept like a baby, was only up 3 times.
July 23rd – Stewart to Prince George, BC. Still no electricity, but the Chinese restaurant was open for business. Running on their generator. We had breakfast, suited up and took off for Prince George. This would be another 400+ mile day. Let’s go.
About 6 miles out of town is a waterfall that must be a 1000 feet fall. The picture does not do it justice. It’s really an awesome view
Didn’t have much of a place to park and take the picture, so a quick snap and onward.
20 miles from Stewart is a huge glacier. Absolutely breathing. The clouds were low and added to the effects of seeing something so massive from the side of the road.
It’s about ½ mile across the lake to the glacier. Best guess is the ice is 150 to 200 feet thick, and no telling how old the ice is. Pretty COOL!
The rest of the ride to Prince George was uneventful. Saw maybe the largest grizzly and her cub next to the road, but I‘m not big on messing with a bear and her cub. Bet my daughters would be just as mean if you messed with their cubs.
July 24th – Prince George to Williams Lake, BC. Nothing exciting to report. Started the day changing the oil in both my bike and The Colonel’s. A local NAPA store said they would be glad to let us use their parking lock to perform the service. Got er done, and road on to Williams Lake. It was only 150 miles (okay, everything in Canada is metric, so the distance was 243 kilometers) and laundry was on the schedule when we got checked into the hotel/motel. Dinner was a yummy salmon sandwich with Loon chowder. My wife should be impressed; it came with beet root. Loon Chowder does not have duck in it. It’s the restaurants’ name for their ’seafood’ chowder.
Wow! I think I’m caught up. Since we are on our way home there probably won’t be a lot of exciting things to post, but I’ll do my best to make this blog informative and interesting. Stay tuned.
Okay, one more view from the side of the road. You would never see a anything like this from a car.
07/16/19 – Fort Nelson to Watson Lake
You’ll notice that this post is out of order. I started it on the 16th, but that’s when I started having internet / computer problems. I fixed the computer problem (had an unauthorized .exe using 90 percent of the memory. The internet issues last till today. So now it catch-up time.
Today (the 16th) was another full day. Saw bears, buffalo, and a lot if loose gravel. The loose gravel made for a lot of dust. About 100 miles worth, but that’s part of riding the Al Can (Alaska Canadian Highway). Pretty impressive road built in 1942 to accommodate transporting military goods to support the war effort. It is not real smooth, always being repaired because of the winter effects on the pavement (frost heaves – check it out). That said, it’s a hundred times better than it was in 2011. Of course, we still haven’t made it to Alaska, and still have about 600+ miles to travel on the Al Can.
As for the bears. Here’s the first one we saw. He was eating and posing for the pictures. Hope this video works
So, the video did not work, but here’s the bear (the black spot in the middle of the picture).
Saw a mamma brown bear and cub, but she was having nothing to do with a photo session. She was taking the youngster over the ridge and into the security of the thick brush, and not allow us time for a picture.
Now about buffalo. They were everywhere. Rolling in the dirt for a nice dirt-bath, walking down the side of the road (just walking along on the shoulder like he was going home from his job), and a heard (maybe 15 to 20) was just napping on the other side of the road.
The big guy out for a walk on the shoulder of the road was less than 10 feet away when we rode by. We couldn’t stop in the middle of the road so no picture.
Here’s the dirt-bath guy. Picture was taken about 30 yards from him.
Here’s the heard. They even brought their caves for the photo session.
…and then we got to Watson Lake. I called to get direction for the cabin I had reserved early this morning through “BOOKING.COM”. The lady on the phone informed me that here cabin was not located in Watson Lake, but 12 miles south of Whitehorse, at least 6 hours away. She is willing to cancel the reservation, and we were lucky to get a room at the Big Horn Motel.
That’s enough excitement for one day, boys and girls. Tomorrow it’s off to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Maybe 2 more days and we’ll be in Alaska.
07/17/19 – Watson Lake to Whitehorse, Yukon
The internet in the Yukon Territory SUCKS. I still can’t upload my pictures. I’m going to post the dialog now and the pictures when I have a better connection. Sorry if you are looking forward to seeing more pix.
Today would have been my Mother’s birthday. Love you Mom…
We made it to Whitehorse, and it was a long day. But a day full of meeting new friends and continuing the adventure.
One of the benefits of motorcycle travel is seeing beautiful sights and meeting new people. We started today having breakfast with a couple we met at a road construction stop and wait for the follow-me truck. In Canada motorcycles get to go to the front of the line, and that’s where we met Rocky and Marie, from Calgery, riding a BMW LT1600. We discussed where we were headed. We told them Whitehorse. They said they were going to meet up with a friend who is riding a horse from Fairbanks, Alaska to Calgery, Alberta. His name is Felipe Masetti, and he is from Brazil, and a few miles from Whitehorse, on the highway we would be taking.
The Colonel finished reading Felipe’s book “LONG RIDE HOME” about his ride from the Argentina to Alaska, just a few days prior to leaving on this trip. Rocky and Marie would introduce us to Felipe, if we could find him along the road to Whitehorse. We were both excited about this opportunity.
On the way out of Watson Lake we stopped at the Sign Post Forest. I’ve been calling it the Sign Post Village, but it isn’t. Here’s what it looks like at the front. Something like 80,000 signs.
(Sign Post Forest)
The rest of the ride to Whitehorse was pretty uneventful as far as seeing wildlife. We did pass a crime scene being investigated by the RCMP. Later we learned it was a double murder. No pictures – just keep riding.
About 50 miles from Whitehorse we saw Marie standing next to the highway on a side road waving at us. We stopped and had the pleasure to meet Felipe and his girlfriend Clari. Super nice and friendly folks. Here’s a picture of Clari, Felipe, Marie, and Rocky. I did not get the names of the horses. The big buckskin is the one he rides, and the grey one is the pack horse. Felipe tries to ride about 25 miles a day. When he not riding he is working on his next book. They will be in Calgery in time for next years Stampede.
(Felipe and friends)
After meeting Felipe and Clari we rode on to Whitehorse, pleased with our day of meeting new friends. I’ll let ya’ll know if we meet any more interesting folks.
07/18/19 – Sometimes things just don’t go like you plan…
I am having network problems, can’t upload pictures (and I’ve got some good ones). So, I’m posting this just to let you know we made it to Alaska and are doing fine. I’ll try to get things updated and loaded, but might need to be back in the lower 48 before I can get a connection that will allow it.
Rob and Matt finally caught up with us today, and they are turning around and going back to Utah tomorrow. The Colonel and I are going to Anchorage. I’ll post as soon as I can.
07/15/19 – Grande Prairie to Fort Nelson, British Columbia
Really got lucky with the tire. The first place I called had one. Not the style I would pick if I was back in Coldspring, and ordering off the internet, but it’s the right size and I’m 3,000 miles from home.
Got it installed and we were on the road before 12:00 noon. Rides and handles pretty good. Hope it last till I’m back in Texas.
Today we rode 440 miles after getting the tire, and got into Fort Nelson about 7:30 PM local time. We are now on Pacific Time, and 2 hour behind Texas time. Both the Colonel and I are beat.
It rained off and on for much of the trip, and the rain gear strategy worked pretty well; put it on and it’ll stop raining. But the temperature dropped from 72 to 59 and stayed that cold for about 2 hours – burrrr.
Along the way we saw two black bears. One was pretty small and we did ‘t get a picture; however, the second one was full grown, maybe 400 lbs. He was eating berries and paid no attention to us. Bears like berries.
Tomorrow it off to Watson Lake and the Sign Post Village.
07/14/19 – Saskatchewan River Crossing to Grande Prairie
Left the Crossing in 45 degrees and raining, what a start, but it got better. A bear and a heard of elk. The high temp for the day was 62, and it rained almost all day. Part of the adventure.
We are in between Banff and Jasper Parks and the scenery is all breath taking, and we did see some wildlife, and as I promised here are the pictures.
Just a short distance from the lodge we stopped to see this waterfall. Interesting, when I was here in 2011, Bad Bob and I stopped and took pictures of it.
Riding farther north we noticed cars parked on both sides of the road. We had to stop to see what was going on – a brown bear was enjoying a breakfast of berries. He/she wasn’t paying attention to the tourist with their cameras and phones capturing the moment; just munching away on the berries.
It was still pretty cold and rainy so we stopped for a coffee and to warm up. Got back on the bikes and 5 miles later – cars parked on both sides of the road. This time it was a heard of elk, maybe 8 or 10 all together. My first shot was a young buck on the opposite side of the road.
Then I noticed movement right next to me and got this picture. She’s probably 20 feet away.
…and as we are leaving Jasper Park we came upon these mountain goats. They’re a little scruffy, but ready to have their picture made.
After all the excitement and pictures of the wildlife, we pressed on to Grande Prairie, Alberta. Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll be able to find a rear tire for my bike. I’ve got about three places to check.
The plan for tomorrow is get me a tire, and if time permits, ride on to Fort Nelson, BC.