Saturday, June 30, 2012

And so the trip begins ... playing catch up

June 25 - 29

I left Anchorage Monday, June 25, exhausted after a full weekend of Alaska State HOG rally fun. It had been a very full weekend, filled with fun, friends and camaderie. But now it was time to get out of town, out of Alaska and pick up the bike in Phoenix and hit the road. All I had to do was get there.

The first flight from Anchorage to Minneapolis was a piece of cake, loads of room for standby passengers like me. Thank you, Biker Bill. There were rows of empty seats, so it was a very pleasant flight. I overnighted in Minneapolis at my favorite Super 8.

Aircraft Dimensions

On Tuesday I headed back to the airport. The flights looked pretty good. But as they can, that can change in a heartbeat, and did. I waited, but flight after flight was oversold and overloaded. I heard later there'd been some flights cancelled, and those passengers ended up going through Minneapolis, which pushed me further and further down on the standby list. Three flights down, and one left at 9:54 p.m. I was Number 12 on the list, and it wasn't looking good. A few names were called and it looked like 11 people would get on.

I stood by the counter, to make sure if by chance my name were called that I was there. It was. But only because three people did not answer the standby call. They'd left the gate area. Their misfortune was my good fortune and I was on. Woo hoo!!! And I'm always grateful to get on a flight. Thank you again, Biker Bill.

My good friend of many years, Verlie, lives in Phoenix with her husband Joe. She picked me up and whisked me to her house.

On Wednesday, June 27, I'd scheduled my bike for a 5K maintenance at Chandler Harley-Davidson. In addition I'd been contacted through Facebook, that awesome social network, by a guy I'd known in the eighth grade in Whittier, Alaska. We'd both lived there. His mom was one of my school teachers and his dad was the principal of our small school. David was going to be in the Phoenix area and said he'd come meet me at the shop. He showed up and we had a great visit, and then decided to go to lunch nearby. You know me, always hungry, so off we went in his motorhome to the mall just down the street. We continued catching up and then headed back to the shop. My bike wasn't ready yet, so since I had my computer there we looked at photos.

The bike was ready, and clean as the pristine snow (white, you know). We tried to take a couple of photos with my camera, but it wasn't working. What? So, the good old cell phone had to do. David was staying with some folks near Scottsdale, so off we went, me following, to their place. About 2-1/2 miles away from their house I pulled up next to the window in the motorhome and told him I had to stop NOW!!! The heat had caught up with me (113 degrees) and I had to take a break.

We pulled into a mall lot and I staggered into a restaurant. Ice water and root beer floats were the order of the day. I was losing liquid faster than I could get it in and I was dripping all over … floor, table, seat. Finally it slowed down and I felt like myself again, but we were probably there an hour or so. Then off again to Bev and Dick's.

Bev, Dick and David in their music room.  Turns out we all have other friends in common since Bev and Dick were also in Alaska years ago.  Reacquainted with an old friend and new friends.  Loving it.

Dick and David in the music room.  Dick was singing one of the songs he had done.  A very nice easy sound, nice words.  I did enjoy my listening time.

The music is made track by track by track.  You can separate them out, or listen to just a few of them together.  It's a rather fascinating process, and I learned new things.  It was a good day.

David has a passion for his music.  We talked about our passions, his music, mine motorcycle riding.
Dick and David work on music together so I was treated to some wonderful sounds that passed my ears and brightened my day. Their sounds are unique and easy to listen to, but while I yearned for more, it was time to make it a wrap and head back to Verlie's, about 40 miles away. David would lead me back to the shop since I could find my way home from there.

David and me, as I got ready to ride away.

I'd called Verlie along the way until my cell phone went dead, but in the last call she'd told me there was a monsoon. While I hoped to miss it, no such luck. We ended up going along the edge which was enough for me, High winds, signs coming off posts and dust blowing. Then at the Harley shop after David and I said goodbye, I headed out into the beginning of rain and lightning. But the rain wasn't much, for which I was glad. Didn't really want to make the last 10 miles or so in pouring down rain. But it was enough to get my beautiful Harlow filthy dirty.

That night Verlie and I got packed for the trip on Thursday (June 28). She was flying to Albuquerque to meet Joe and rent a car for the drive to her mom's in Trinidad, Colorado. I was riding.

Ready to rock and roll.
On Thursday morning I headed out around 7:15 a.m., as I wanted to get out of Phoenix before it got really hot. It was only about 90. As I rode down the two southbound lanes of Gilbert Road, a car in the left turn lane suddenly pulled out, no turn signal. Must not have it on his black Lexis. I did an evasive action and avoided him by a whole six inches. My auto-finger, along with my horn and voice let him know he was Number One.

I rode up through Payson, then to Heber and Holbrook. It was a beautiful ride, and I was becoming one with this bike again. She's a cop bike and has an air seat, which is taller than the one on the bike at home. She's been lowered, and I've added one-inch to my boot soles, but she's still tall. But Harlow and I got our mutual groove back, and we swooped around the corners I love, the ones where you feel you're flying, the 50 mph ones that you can take at 70 mph or better. There wasn't much traffic and it was a ride to get the cobwebs out, the relaxing kind.

By about noon, I got to I-40, and headed toward Albuquerque. I was to call Verlie at 2:30 to see where they were, so now I was flying. The speed limit is 75 so I was running 80 or better, depending on traffic. Oh yeah, I was in the zone.

Finally got hooked up with Verlie and Joe at the far east side of Albuquerque. I stopped at a Carl's, Jr., and had a salad. And off we went, Joe leading and me in my usual Number 1 right position. Well, maybe not quite, but I was the good follower that I am on the road.

We turned onto Highway 84 and headed north. We finally got to Trinidad and Verlie's mom's house. I passed out and slept for hours.

Friday dawned bright with blue sky and sunshine. It's nearly always shining here, and I love it. But I'm an Alaskan girl through and through. I still do love the sun, though.

We weren't real productive, but it was time for a lazy day. I even had time for a nap which was much needed. I was still recuperating from a long, hard, exhausting but exceptionally fun rally.

Working to get the swamp cooler running.  A team effort and it was back in business, and cooling down.
Joe had hurt his back and after a few phone calls to family, we took him to a chiropractor, who helped him out immensely. He's still walking funny, but making progress.

While Joe was getting worked on, Mom, Verlie and I hit the Wal-Mart. We got some fruit and some things for dinner the next day. I decided to make guacamole so got all the ingredients, and Verlie was going to make corn and some little green squash and pork chops.

Dinner, ribs for me, and then a drive to see an old church that I might like a phone with my bike in front of. It was a great drive, but not necessaily somewhere I'd take my bike. Dirt road, but then a locked gate. Oh well. The trip was well worth it. We saw deer and some elk. Then home where Uncle George and Aunt Lucille arrived.

And me without my camera.  I had to use my cell phone, but this is better than nothing.
I decided to make the guac so we'd have it for snacks. Then I needed to go to bed. Aunt Lucille asked, “Why is the white girl making guacamole”? I love that. Cuz I had a Hispanic friend who taught me with a recipe she got from Dr. Oz. They all liked it. White girls can cook.

Enough. This catching up has taken a toll and is way too long. Adios, my amigos.

Fisher's Peak is visible from Mom's house.  It's about 9,600 feet in elevation, and located just south of Trinidad.  It was supposedly formed by lava flows more than a million years ago.  Fisher's Peak is said to be named after Captain Waldemar Fischer, a cavalry officer who led his troops through the Raton Pass on their way to Santa Fe.  It's sometimes shown as Raton Peak on early maps and well into the late 1870s the two names were used interchangeably.

Just to the left of Fisher's Peak, is their version of our Sleeping Lady.  It's a man, laying down, his head to the right, then on down to his chest, and his feet.  Mountains are always individual and mysterious with what you can see in them.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The 2012 Rally in the Valley

The 2012 Alaska State HOG rally was June 21-23, in Palmer, Alaska. I was honored to share the time with good friends, a great rally committee and new friends, under blue skies, sunshine and high-70 degree temperatures. That pretty much sums up the rally.

But wait. There's more, so much more. That's the photos. I've posted many of them on the Chapter 66 Facebook page, but I wanted to also share some of them with others who may not be a part of that page. I also have some that have not yet made the rally site, so you also get a few of those. You know how I am about photos. I shoot indiscriminately, always waiting and hoping for the “perfect” photo. After all, film is cheap these days.

Thursday is always a fun day as it's not yet the official rally but most people register prior to the start of the rally.  Victoria and Michelle were enjoying both the sun and the shade at the Palmer fairgrounds. 
This guy has already been traveling this summer.  The iguana showed up at the Meet in the Middle Run over Memorial Day.  His mama, Rhonda from Fairbanks, says he's very friendly.
How could I not take a picture of a Viet Nam vet?  Mark was gracious enough to pose for me.
Jim was one of several who volunteered their grills so our chapter could get the shishkababs ready for the cookoff.
The rally opening ceremonies began with a bagpiper.  I so enjoy the pipes.

And the presenting of the colors and the signing of the national anthem.  Let the party begin.
JoAnn and her new girl.  Even the pets got to attend the ceremonies and rally.
Cindy and Mac at the Matanuska Glacier.  I spent a day and a half riding with them doing the rally compass challenge.  Good weather and good friends.  Need I say more?  We had a blast, and even got some Miller's ice cream during our rides.  It doesn't get any better than that,.
Mac does good work taking photos.  Me at the Matanuska Glacier.

Of course, I have to get a little goofy.  I didn't realize how difficult it was to balance on the seat of a motorcycle that is held up by nothing more than an itty-bitty piece of metal stuck on the ground.  Good thing zumba is improving my balance.  I made it happen without falling and breaking anything.

Mac and Cindy at Eklutna Lake.  The directions for the four points of the compass ride were to be creative. 

Good friends make the world go around.  And this wild bunch definately make a statement.  Judai, Becky, Maria, Pam and me.  This was just a part of the great weekend.

Chapter 66 did a skit based on the Johnny Horton song "North to Alaska" although it was a loose rendition with the words changed to make it more "bikerish."  Our sets use cardboard and paint, and a lot of creativity and ingenuity on the part of the committee members.  We had a blast meeting, planning and painting. 

I love this photo of Judai and Gunda.  There were a lot of puppies at the rally, as well as full-grown dogs, a Guinea pig and an iguana.  I expect the Guinea pig is something that should show up at a HOG rally.

We even had dancing girls in the Valley chapter's portion of the talent show.

I like to take photos of license plates. 

One compass photo had to  be at the reindeer farm near Palmer.  I'd packed this tree branch to use as antlers and I had red electrical tape so I could make a red nose.  Do I resemble Rudolph?  Will the other reindeer accept me?

And what's a rally without a bike game or two.  The object is to put the tennis balls on top of the cones.  The rider must go slow enough and close enough so that the passenger can get the balls on the cones, but they cannot put their feet down,.  It sounds way easier than it is.

This game involved a slow ride with the passenger tossing a water balloon over the top of the flags.  The trick was to catch it, hopefully without it breaking.  You don't catch it, you break it, you lose.  Not too many folks could do this one. 

There were a couple of new games at the rally this year.  This one was for trikes, and the driver was blindfolded.  The passenger had to guide them around some cones and race back to the finish line.  It was a fun thing to watch, and no one crashed or ran over anyone. 

There was even a pet show, and this dog was definately styling.

There's always room for ice cream, and a rally is not a rally if you don't have some. 

I was just a spectator for the games, and a photographer that needed a break.

The weenie bite is a game played at most rallies.  The passenger must get a bite of the weenie, with the largest piece bitten off being the winning bite.  The driver must ride under the weenie slow enough without putting his or her feet down, so the passenger can get a bite.  Usually the weenie is covered with mustard.  This time it was ketchup.  Weenies are very slick characters, and it takes a lot of talent to get a bite, especially a winning bite.
The rally activities included a Chapter Challenge where the four Alaskan chapters competed in games, a cook off, a talent contest and the number of chapter members registered per chapter. What I will say is that Chapter 66 won the challenge trophy, which will be displayed at our Anchorage dealership until the next chapter challenge. Chapter 66 will need to add something to the trophy before passing it on to the challenge winner. Chapter 66 has a lot of talented people, a willingness to participate and folks that like to laugh and have fun … in addition to riding, of course.

Most of the group who participated in the talent portion of the chapter challenge.
Ron (with his lovely wife Barbie) was our "Johnny Horton" for our talent skit.
Alvin and Elesha.  Elesha worked to put together the food piece of the chapter challenge.  Everyone loved the shiskababs, chicken and beef.  They were yummy. 

We now have a new Princess in the Queen's group, Stacey.  Congratulations, Stacey.

And next? I'm off to Phoenix to pick up my bike and head on out to the open road. More reporting to follow.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A visit to the Musk Ox Farm

Tuesday, June 5, dawned bright and beautiful. Blue sky. Sometimes I forget what it is when we have so many cloudy days. Okay, maybe not so many this year so far. In my mind, if there is even one cloudy day, it seems like it's too many.

I followed my usual schedule of hitting the zumba studio, to make up for what I would eat during the day. Hobbs and I then hauled onto the Alaska version of a slab and hightailed it north. It was a great ride to the Valley to visit the Musk Ox Farm near Palmer.

We parked in the lot, and there were only a few other vehicles. Being retired and able to visit places in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week is awesome.

Hobbs and me.  You can see some of the musk ox in the background.
The tour of the farm isn't long, but it was so nice. We learned about the musk ox, an ice age survivor, their arrival to the Valley and the trials of trying to put domesticated herds in other areas. They have a soft wool called qiviut which is given to and used by the Alaska natives to make hats, scarves and other items.

Look at that face.
We also learned about breeding and the most interesting fact which is that a musk ox is nothing more than closely related to a goat!!! Who knew.

All hair.
This herd is 60 years old, with currently about 60 animals, from bulls to calves. The babies here now are a month or so old, and their little spindly legs and shaggy coats make you just want to hug them.

Shaggy, shaggy, shaggy.
You wouldn't want to during the rutting season as they have a musky smell (although they have no musk gland) that isn't that pleasant to humans; hence the name musk ox.

All animals love Hobbs.
They're still a cute animal to me. I've put my name on a list to be a musk ox socializer. Hopefully I'll get a call. This means I'd go to the farm and help do touchy/feely things with them. Sounds like my kind of volunteer job … animals. I'm so looking forward to it.

They're a bit more standoffish to me.  Oh well.