Back to the Yukon and into Alaska again, June-July, 2010


Laurie's afterthoughts

An adventure is just that - an adventure. It will not necessarily always be warm, or dry, or even fun, but it's not supposed to be. Instead, you get:

-- experiences to have
    -- memories to keep
        -- stories to share

Those of you that are reading about this trip have most likely read about Marty's previous adventures - the drama, the suspense, the babes and booze and rock 'n' roll - well, okay, maybe not so much rock and roll ...

- riding hard on the Dempster and Dalton highways
- meeting Sasquatch and confronting bison and grizzly bears
- the miraculous rescue from being stranded in Chicken, AK
- the anguish of the multiple engine failures in South America
- and on and on and on

So this trip was probably a surprise: mild, sedate (even - can you say - boring?) by SgtMarty standards.

For me, however, it was quite a challenge and it turned out to be a wonderful adventure. We were gone almost 8 weeks and we rode over 10,000 miles. We went places I've never been, saw sights I'd never seen, and I met wonderful people along the way.


- Since I'd never been on a motorcycle trip longer than 6 days, and since I hadn't ridden the KLR for two years (because it donated parts for Marty's trip), and since my dirt skills are sadly lacking at present, Marty planned a nice, easy trip on pavement with lots of time to meander hither and yon, so we could do long days or short days or take a day (or more) off to do touristy stuff.

- Marty and I put in a lot of time getting my bike ready for the trip, and I learned more about the basics. (Now, don't laugh, but I had never changed my own oil on a motorcycle before. I have now...) The only thing that turned out to really be a problem was the fact that when we changed out the suspension right before leaving, the result was that the kickstand was now too long, something I had to manage the entire trip (I got good at dismounting on the 'wrong" side of the bike).

- I came up with sort of a plan to get all the bills paid and the important stuff covered while we were gone (the stuff I had done when Marty was traveling) and hoped I got everything taken care of. (With someone going through our mail and alerting me of anything I missed, we did seem to do okay on this part.)

- Unfortunately, things didn't work out for me to do any real "prep" rides, such as the multi-day camp-rides Marty had done before taking off in 2008, so my personal preparation consisted of a couple of short check out rides, followed by packing a bag, strapping it on the bike, and hitting the road. If I could go back and change one thing, this would probably be it.


- The ride itself was a wonder - all the different places we went, the different scenery and wildlife, the different towns, the history and the people and just the vastness of the whole area we covered. I can't even do it justice - I guess I'll have to go re-read the report!

- I hadn't realized the mental and physical toll that being on a bike every day - especially a thumper - would take. I found that after a while my knees, arms, shoulders, and hands would get tired and achy, and as the trip wore on they seemed to start to get achy faster and take longer to recover. Moreover, at times I became scatterbrained, or indecisive, clumsy, or just plain not thinking clearly (or not thinking at all) - which, believe it or not, is not typical for me (no comments from the peanut gallery, please!).

- I was surprised by how much the weather began to affect my mood. With so many days of rain and clouds and cool weather, I could actually feel my emotional energy rise and fall along with it, and that was hard at times.

- I also had a chance to use a lot more of my gear than I had anticipated. It seemed that I was always wearing 4 and 5 layers, and it's a good thing I brought so many different types of gloves since I wore each of them at one time or another - even the heated ones (in the snow and sleet on Gnat Pass while on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway in British Columbia). Good thing I brought all that stuff!

- Speaking of stuff, I seemed to have done a decent job of picking what I packed, as I didn't seem to find much missing. I bought an eyeglass repair kit, which I never actually needed, and I acquired a permanent water bottle as a prize at D2D, but other than that I seemed to have what I needed - or Marty had it, since he carried all the tools and spare parts. (My biggest omission was not bringing my own tire pressure gauge - can you say oops!) One of the best things I brought, other than the heated gloves, was some stuff called Glide: basically, it's sort of liquified baby powder, and I used it on my feet to make sure I didn't get hot spots or blisters or anything. Worked like a charm, and I even had new boots.

- One of the best things that happened was Marty coming up with the canasta cards, and later teaching me to play Uno. It made a really nice end to the day, much better than TV or watching each other use the laptop. When you've been together as long as we have, you don't always have a lot of things you want to chit-chat about, so the card games are a good alternative for spending time with each other.

- Another one of the best things that happened was when we started taking more time to enjoy the ride as we went - finding and riding neat scenic byways, stopping and playing tourist every so often (Skagway, Whitehorse, Dawson City, Fairbanks, Valdez, the national parks, and so on). A wise man, Grant Johnson of Horizons Unlimited, says you should plan to take twice as long to go half as far; while we didn't do that, we did start pacing ourselves differently.


Some of you have asked me to offer encouragement to your "other halves" ...

- I guess my overall comment would be that if I can do this as an out-of-shape 50-something with crappy skills and nominal preparation, then you can do some sort of a trip too - maybe a different trip, one that suits what the two of you want to do and where you want to go - but something.

- I wouldn't start with two months unless you've actively planned and prepped for that length trip, but figure out a way to get started - maybe a week or two, maybe combine being on a bike with time off the bike - whatever it takes to find something that appeals to both of you. Then use the next trip - and the next - to build up from there.

- If you need help figuring out what to take, or how to organize, or whatever is the challenge, there's a whole community of folks willing to help you figure it out. All you have to do is ask.

- You don't have to be comfortable on dirt to have an adventure - you can focus on where the roads go, what you see and do, and who you meet rather than what surface you ride. (Although riding dirt does let you go to some neat places you can't get to any other way, and have wonderful adventures - so if you can acquire the skills so much the better. I'm still working on those.) I went from feeling sort of like a fraud (because how could I be having an adventure if I wasn't riding gnarly dirt) to accepting that I've now done a ride worth being proud of, something that a lot of folks haven't done and would like to do. And I can do more next time...

Bottom Line

As we rode home, I was both glad to be home again and sad that this trip was over. I was grateful to (and appreciative of) Marty, for planning this trip and being willing to do it with me, at my level (he IS a gem, isn't he? I'm always appreciative of him - awwww).

In short:

-- I had some great experiences
    -- I gained wonderful memories
        -- I have stories to share

Hope you enjoyed them. Feel free to post (on the ADVRider thread or to PM me there) if you have questions.