Friday, July 21, 2017

The Alaska-Canada Highway Will Not Beat Us

We awoke Wednesday, June 28, to beautiful birds on the bannister of our little patio.  They had nests in the eaves of the building and it was cool to hear and see them.  This was a great place to stay, but all too soon, it was time to get back on the road as we had to make miles each day to make our destination by our goal date.
Bright and beautiful were these little birds.  And they weren't too afraid either.
This highway has been something, but not as bad as Peppermint had thought it might be.  Thanks to good weather, I expect.  A friend who is an excellent and cautious rider had gone down so she was a bit apprehensive.  We were fortunate to not have much rain, just a few sprinkles mostly, here and there.  The construction areas were dry, which is helpful, so no mud or sliding around scrambling to stay upright, even in two-mile-long dirt and gravel stretches. 

There was a culvert project where there were detours, and those were rocks and gravel, nearly dirt-bike quality, but we made it through all of those without a mishap.  Yay.  Being in the tour pack, I was safely crammed in with all the crap she carries, but I was a bit concerned because I could feel some fishtailing going on.  
No road trip on the Alcan is complete without a stop at Toad River.  The girls let me out ... but it seems I'm just eye candy, taken out for a photo here and there 
But it was a great day as there lots of animals.  Peppermint loves seeing the animals more than anything else, so we stopped a lot while she and Rockin’ Rita took photos.  They still didn’t let me out.  I’m suffering back here with sneakers, purses, makeup and whatever else she can’t fit somewhere else on the bike.
These are my people.  I should have been let out of the tour pack.  I'm very unhappy.  I'm not afraid of these guys.  I'm thinking I could have found some love here and made some little Flat Rockys.

Look at these ladies.  I'm in love.  The second from the left has my heart forever.  I could see through the crack in the tour pack.  Now I'm heartbroken because I couldn't get to my one true love.  I hate Peppermint.

The caribou down the road came by the bikes as the vehicles spooked them.  Maybe I could love a caribou?
The sun was still with us on Thursday, June 29.  We made it to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and sought out the end, or the beginning depending on whether you’re coming or going, of the Alaska-Canada sign, Milepost Zero.  It was kind of tough as there are really two signs.  One is in the middle of town, in the middle of the street.  They rode around a bit to find it. 
The Mile Zero in the middle of the street.  With cars going by, I was sure I'd be left as road kill.
The other is the arch set off the road with a big parking lot.  This is the one people usually use to document their road trip.  But, of course, the ladies had to photograph both of them.
I'm finally out of the tour pack ... maybe these two scamps remembered I'm on this road trip with them?
We were getting close to being out of Canada.  When we got near Calgary, Alberta, on Friday, June 30, we met up with a friend of Dewey’s … the Canadian brother to many Alaskans, but probably not me as I didn’t see any horns. 
Karen met us at a gas station, and had Nanaimo bars waiting.  Homemade goodies with soft chocolate frosting … they melted in your mouth.  Or so I’m told.  I didn’t get any of those.  I’m sure the ladies would have told me they were poisonous to sheep.  I’m not buying any of that, though.
Look at that luscious Nanaimo bar.  I could have slurped down a dozen of them in nothing flat ... get that?  Flat?  But when it came down to it, I didn't even get a sniff.  Unbeknownst to them, even through the tour pack I could smell the chocolate, and I drooled all over everything.  Peppermint was wondering how things got damp.  Haha.  I got back at her and she never suspected a thing.  What a nice way to be greeted, though, at your first meeting.  Thank you, Karen.  It was wonderful.
 Anyway, Karen took the ladies to a great food spot she’d never tried before.  The girls said it was awesome, and if they could ever find it again, would go back.  After a leisurely lunch, Karen got us around Calgary proper on some back roads, fun and not too much traffic.  At a crossroads, she pointed us in the right direction and we got on our way, headed to Lethbridge, before hitting those final miles to drop into Montana, and the good ole US of A.
As we traveled on Highway 23, we stopped for gas in a town called Vulcan, in southern Alberta.  It was named Vulcan after the Roman God of Fire.  However, one of their claims to fame is having some Star Trek things there, including a replica of the Starship Enterprise.  While only of the girls was interested in that, and probably would attend one of the annual “trekkie” conventions, it was at least worth a photo opportunity for me.
Now that I think about it, if I had one of these flying things, I could get to my one true love in the Northern Rockies.  If only I had thumbs and fingers and knew how to fly it.  I'd dump these two in a sheep heartbeat.
At that point, the final leg to Lethbridge needed to be complete and we were in for the night.
 

 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Flat Rocky Rides Again ... for now

The day dawned not so bright and clear, Thursday, June 22, … I was on my way to Fairbanks with Rockin’ Rita, Peppermint Patti and the rest of their crew … quite a bunch I might add.  But for me, I had to stay out of sight … this was a HOG function, not a WOW function.  I just stayed in the tour pack while they had all the fun… going and attending the HOG rally in Fairbanks.

One of their stops was at a pull out called Denali View South.  Well, they got theirs.  There was no Denali view.  But good friends always make the best of it and they took their photo anyway.
They made multiple stops on the way to Fairbanks, eating, taking photos … I wasn’t even able to get out to stretch my four legs.  This was no fun at all for me.

Most of our group stayed at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks housing.  I still didn’t get out.  And off they went to play … ride around, play bike games. 

Rockin' Rita received an impromptu hair cut from Miss Harley Davidson the Mighty Quin. There are certain necessities prior to heading out on a long road trip.


Goofy women.  I guess Harley rallies do that to them.  Robin doesn't even know they were there.  Sly ladies.
They also ate a lot, and had ice cream.  I didn’t get any of that either.  But my day was coming.

They ate at a Denny's.  Peppermint is thinking the food at these places has improved a lot.
They even had an outhouse rather than a restroom, as Fireman Mike pointed out so well.
On Sunday, June 25, Rockin’ Rita, Birdy, Fireman Mike and Peppermint rode to Delta.  There, we separated and Rockin’ Rita and Peppermint started their run of the Alaska-Canada Highway. 
 
You'll notice they were so excited to get on the road they didn't even include me in the photo.  Bummer.  But I was there, just not visible.  Yep, still in the tour pack.
What a ride that was … the first dinner stop was in Tok, where we met up with Smudge and Mike, and Ruby and Tim.  The day was young, and on we rode.
 
And then, we crossed into Yukon, Canada.

The girls, and me.  Yep, they finally remembered I was knocking around in the tour pack.  Rockin' Rita, Peppermint, Smudge and Ruby.  What a group they are.  Nuts, I'd say.
We were all going to the same place past Beaver Creek in Yukon, to a place called Discovery Yukon Lodgings.  I was informed that it was way better than staying in Beaver Creek, and it was.  The folks were super nice, and the accommodations very cute and quaint … little cabins. 
 
These old snow machines have personality.  The one on the left looks like a ninja.  The one on the right seems to be smiling.

Rockin' Rita's trike is outside the cabin.  The women didn't let me inside.  They left me in the tour packs like some kind of animal.  What's with that?  I'm housebroke, kind of.
The gravel around the cabin and an unseen tree root did give Peppermint a bit of trouble, but with the help of the other ladies she managed to get where she wanted to go without dropping the bike.  It was a pretty rough ride for me in the tour pack.  However, I did survive.
 
Monday, June 26, the group continued on to Haines Junction.  Smudge, Mike, Ruby and Tim were heading to Haines to catch a ferry.  
Smudge and Mike, Tim and Ruby, riding ahead of us around Kluane Lake.

This is a tough crowd.  They were not real enthusiastic about doing a can-can kick.

They were more enthused about this photo near the beautiful lake.
 
Rockin' Rita rode sweep, her usual spot.
We were continuing on … taking a total of nine days, and about 3,600 miles, to get to Colorado Springs.  That’s where the Women On Wheels Ride In would take place, and I’d be in my full glory.  I’m their mascot … being introduced as a flat animal on a tongue depressor last year at the Ride In banquet in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
 
Since then I’ve been a lot of places … not just with these chicks, but with all the WOW members who live all over the world.
 
We found a place to stay in Whitehorse, Yukon, and wouldn’t you know it … they ran into some friends from Anchorage, Jon and Glenda.  We were trying to find the hotel and this car behind us kept dogging us.  Then someone in the vehicle asked if we were lost.  Peppermint was about to lose her cool with them.  Rockin' Rita told them we were just fine.  They followed us.  Ha!!!  Jon didn't know he was close to being told he was Number 1, or better.  They were with relatives and on a road trip.
One of these women is always running into someone she knows.  Well, that way she can’t get away with anything.  But then the other one is always keeping her in line.  You figure out who does what.
The ladies have gotten some pretty good weather, and that continued on Tuesday, June 27. 
The first wildlife of the day was an urban fox ... walking across the street as the ladies were packing up to leave.
They rolled into Teslin, and the location of the metal-grate Teslin River bridge.  Peppermint loves the bridge and the grate.  Other people, not so much.
The Teslin River Bridge, Yukon Territory, Canada.
This is how the bridge should be crossed ... quickly and with attitude. 
The road stretched out, but the weather was decent.  Watson Lake came into sight, and the famous Sign Forest.  That’s always worth a stop. 
I got to get out of the tour pack and have a photo at the sign post forest in Watson Lake.  Friend Dewey was in Alaska, so we didn't get to see him here.  Maybe, when we come back through here.  It just felt good to be in the fresh air.  I was starting to feel claustrophobic and a bit bike-sick.  It's like car-sick but stuck in a tour pack instead.
I got to get out of the tour pack and I was like a wild creature … playing, photo bombing, helping a family put up a sign.  I didn’t want to leave as the taste of freedom was oh-so sweet in my mouth.
 
This family was kind enough to let me help them out.  It's hard work putting up a sign in this neighborhood.

The girls met Anna.  She was a very nice dog, and was adopted from Best Friends in Kanab, Utah.  Peppermint has been there, and thinks it's a great organization.  In fact, she belongs to it.  They save many, many animals, and not just dogs.
Alas, the girls wanted to get back on the road.  I was kind of glad they didn’t let me out too much after that.  There were a lot of bears on the road, and beasr eat sheep.  I was scared as I could smell them, and I’m sure they could smell me. 
There were quite a few  bears in a short distance.  This one looks like he smells sheep.  Agghh.  That would most likely be me he's smelling.  Help.  Let's get out of here.  Ride for your lives!!!

Why did she shoot this in black and white?  I don't know.  At least they were going away from the road and not toward us.
Peppermint had to get my photo with a bear.  You can see that small dot of black on the right-hand side.  My eyes are bugging out because I'm scared and my back is to him.  I sure hope Peppermint has my back if he turns around.  Bears eat sheep, remember?  I'm a tasty morsel as I ride not walk, so I'm quite tender and on the plump side.
Finally, we ended up at a place called Northern Rockies Lodge, or some such.  It was a pleasant place and I was glad we were done for the day.  Seeing all those bears scared the sheep poop out of me.  I hid it in her tour pack.
 
 
 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Last Week

On Wednesday, May 24, Stef and I went to breakfast and then parted ways.  She rode north heading back to Redwood City, California, and I went south.  It’s always sad to part, but we were on our way to the final chapter of this journey.

My path was leading me to Beatty, Nevada, to pick up my battery.  I arrived, gassed up and headed to the Atomic Inn where we’d stayed.  The office was locked.  What!!!  Until 3:30?  I was there shortly after noon, and I didn’t have time to hang around here.  I had places to be. 

I went looking through the buildings to see if I could find someone that could help me.  Nope.  I saw trailers in back, so I went and knocked on doors.  No one answered.  I saw a building with a yard attached … but it had what appeared to be a pit bull in it.  He seemed to be friendly, but I wasn’t going to step into the yard to find out first-hand.  I knocked on the wall.  No response.  I stood in the driveway between the office and the motel units and yelled great obscenities.

Then I went around the front of the motel office and saw another attachment to it.  I went there and knocked.  Someone answered.  Yay.  Now … “Do you have access to the office?”  Yep.  The young man retrieved my battery and I was on my way.  Finally.

I was back on the road and headed for my final stop for the night … Boulder City, Nevada.  It was nice to get there although my GPS took me in the back way that included a road closure and a detour.  Oh well.  I arrived.

The next morning, Thursday, May 25, I was headed to Sun City to stay with my friends, the Peeps, for a few days.  But first, I was making a stop to have lunch with a lady I’d met on the Women on Wheels website, Kristin. This is the second time we’ve done this … and it’s been pleasant. 
Kristin and me at Arrowhead.
A stop at Arrowhead Harley didn’t hurt either.  I wanted them to check my tire pressure because if I needed a tire I’d get a bike wash that would take off two weeks of bugs.  Nope.  Tires are still good.  Crap.  Now I've got to wash it myself.

I found the Peeps’ place this time just like I knew where I was going.  We had a great couple of days … playing cards, helping eat a birthday cake for Ken, going to the newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and a trip to COSTCO where I found the makings for a new favorite dip. 
I know ... doesn't sound that great ... but it is ... with a few other ingredients, but these are the main two.
On Sunday, May 28, I left the Peeps just after they went to church.  I headed over to Gilbert to my friends, Joe and Verlie.  On my way there I noticed a place called IFly … indoor skydiving.  I could do this.  I mentioned it to Joe and Verlie.  Joe … no.  Verlie … I’ll watch.  We’ll see.

We had other things to do.  Monday, May 29, there was a Memorial Day rally at the National Cemetery.  We were up at 3:30 a.m., an ungodly hour, and on the road by 4:30.  The ride was beautiful, with the sun coming up and orange and pink flecks in the sky coming over the mountains.  The weather was cool enough to wear my fleece shirt.  We arrived at the cemetery and had a flag line going down the street where folks would be coming in for the ceremony.  We stayed a few hours and then were gone … to get a bite to eat and head back to the house for much-needed naps. 
There were flags flying everywhere ... it's great to see the red, white and blue.
It was a great couple of days … with massages and facials, dips in the pool, errands, a hair cut, the flag line.  And I decided to do the IFLY.  What a trip.  You get dressed in a jump suit, and have some instruction. 
I'll be flying.
You’re in a wind tunnel and fly with 105-120 mph wind coming up at you.  What a kick that was. 
 
Maybe I will try jumping out of a perfectly good airplane now.
My time was up and I headed home June 1.  It was a great few months, and there’s more to come.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Tufas of Mono Lake

By Monday, May 22, we’d decided to head back to Lee Vining, California, higher up in the mountains, because the weather was way better and we’d be able to get in and out easily now that the temperature was in the 70s.  Yahoo.  There was a lake calling to us there. 

So, back we went, again covering some of the roads we’d already ridden.  But they were beautiful roads with some awesome twisties and gorgeous mountains and rock formations. 
More postcard shots.  The colors were vivid and it was hard to leave this spot.
We stopped at a pullout at the top of a canyon and walked about taking photos of flowers and mountains.  The noise was deafening and there they came.  We were treated to fighter jets whizzing by, up and around and through the canyon lying in front of us.   

The jet is about the middle of the photo, flying away.  What a cool thing to see.  The Panamint, Saline and Eureka Valley portions of Death Valley National Park remain military training areas.  The region is used for low-level flight training, but is not allowed in other areas of the park.

This looks like multiple flowers, all in one.  It's a Desert Five Spot.
It was a great day of traveling and riding.  And by the way, this time I killed that pass – the 8,036-foot one that killed me last time.  I was wearing just jeans and a shirt.  Yep, shirtsleeves all the way, baby.  Take that, Deadman Pass.

The cut of the road added to the beauty of the area, in my mind anyway.
We got to our motel and when I went to charge my battery for going to the lake the next day, I discovered my charger and my backup battery were gone.  Then I remembered … I’d forgotten it, left it behind at the Beatty motel.  Crap.  I called the Atomic Inn, and they said they’d look.  There was someone in the room we’d stayed in, so I was kind of figuring I might not see it again.  It’s a good thing Stef and I have the same camera so I could use her charger.

We walked around Lee Vining, at 6,761 feet and with an excellent temperature, and we found the Upside Down House.  Is this Dorothy's?  Nellie Bly O'Bryan built this tourist attraction in 1956.  It was inspired by two children's tales, "Upside Down Land," which Nellie recalled after seeing a tipped over miner's cabin, and "The Upsidedownians."  It was originally located along Highway 395, but moved here in 2000.  O'Bryan was Hollywood's first female projectionist and appeared in several of Charlie Chaplin's silent movies.
When we got up it looked like snow all around the bikes.  Cottonwood trees ... ugh!!!
We got up Tuesday morning, May 23, and got ready to head to Mono Lake.  We’d been here a few days earlier, but had decided we wanted to do it right, spending time walking around through all the tufas.  My only thought was that I didn’t like the nearly mile of gravel you had to travel to get to it, not hard-packed, but a bit deep and rolling about like marbles.
We got there and parked in the lot.  There weren't many people around yet, which was pretty nice.  This path leads you down to the tufas, and I was looking forward to walking around through all of them.
 
These cream-colored rock towers are called tufas.  The towers reveal where springs once emerged beneath Mono Lake.  As the lake level dropped the tufa towers were exposed and the springs that formed them dried up.

Mono Lake's mineral-rich water is much denser than fresh water, or even the ocean.  This means objects float higher than normal.  Gulls have a difficult time keeping their feet in the water when they paddle, although we didn't notice that.  Perhaps we weren't looking.  Fully-loaded canoes float as if empty, and swimmers find it hard to sink.  We did not test that.

The lake water feels slippery.  We tested that.  It has a salty and bitter taste.  We did not try it.  The taste is caused by minerals washed into the lake by streams and springs.  Two key ingredients are sodium chloride (table salt) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).  These make the lake 2.5 times saltier than the ocean and 100 times as alkaline.

Mono Lake is too alkaline for fish, although it is full of other creatures ... we only saw some birds and bugs.

The tufas are all over, and have some incredible shapes.

It's like a forest of tufas has sprung up out of nowhere.
 
I couldn't stop taking photos of the lovely things.

Each place you looked the tufas were there, in the water, out of the water, and I expect there are no two alike.  The lake is often described as an oasis in the desert.  Up two million birds, including 100 different species, use the lake as a stopover on their north/south migrations.  The waterfowl have drastically declined with the loss of wetland as the lake levels have dropped, but efforts are being made to restore these in the hopes that the migratory bird numbers will increase.

The mountains provide a nice backdrop for many of them.

I also had to try a black and white ... this looks like a little city on the ground, complete with skyscrapers.

I couldn't help taking so many photos of the tufas while we were here as they were truly fascinating.  Plus, it was great fun to walk all around the place and parts of the lake and beaches.
After visiting Mono Lake we still had plenty of daylight left and decided to take a run around the June Lake Loop.  There are a number of little lakes, a town, and even a place for lunch. 
 
Even the dogs get into fishing around here.

This was one of the most incredible waterfalls I've ever seen.
While there I got a phone message saying my battery and charger had been found and I could send a self-addressed box and they’d drop it in the mail for me.  I called them and told them I’d be by to pick it up … after all, Beatty was kind of on the way back to Phoenix. 
 
It's some beautiful country around here.