Anchorage, AK – Day 14

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Friday, 10 August 2012 Anchorage, AK (0 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4723.  0 hour riding time.  Anchorage to Homer, AK round trip by truck (498 miles)

Weather – Cool temperatures in the mid 50’s with mostly cloudy skies

Decided to rent a car for the next couple of days and ended up getting an upgrade to a crew cab GMC Canyon – since I’m flying out early on Sunday morning for Inchon, thought I might do some sightseeing in the area.  After talking with Beth, Sharlane & Kim at Alaska Scientific about some options, I decided to head south to the port city Homer.  Since I was heading that way, I asked if they needed any products delivered and there was a large order for lab reagents for the hospital – what a great opportunity!

Loaded and on my way with 500+ lbs of liquid reagents, I started south for about 220 miles to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer to meet the laboratory director, Laura Miller and make the delivery – just can’t beat the same day service!  After a brief tour of the lab and a photo op, I toured the city and drove out on the Homer Spit which protrudes out into the bay for some quick pics.

On my way back to Anchorage, I could help notice all the people fishing for salmon along both the Kenai and Russian Rivers – apparently the Sockeye salmon run is winding down, but KIng’s, Chum’s or Pink’s are on the rise.  Had a pulled pork sandwich at Sackett’s near Cooper Landing and met a fishery expert from Washington State – he filled me in on all fishing activities.

Got a beautiful late-day shot of Kenai Lake and note the float plane in the distance – there are thousands of them throughout Alaska and you see them on just about any waterway; they are the only mode of transporation in many parts of Alaska.  From there I turned off at Portage Glacier and was honestly a bit disturbed by how much the glacier had melted and receded since I was last there in the late 70’s…back then the face of the glacier was just beyond the ice floating in the foreground – you can see the glacier way off in the distance.  Still can remember an Arab man from a tour bus waving the bus driver to wait as he filmed a small chunk of ice floating in the lake; he kept pushing and filming the ice for the folks back home to see and have to believe he was amazed that ice even existed outside in a natural state!  My mom has a picture taken of the fella and I’ll have to make a trip over to North Carolina soon to check it out…

Kim recommended that I stop by the Double Musky in Girdwood for a drink & some dinner – apparently the late senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens, frequented the spot; he actually nominated me for West Point & still have his telegram he sent.

Since it was getting late, I just had the halibut ceviche appetizer and it was terrific along with a couple of my favorite beverages – a very cool spot with a lot of history.  The town of Girdwood is at the base of Alyeska Ski Resort and I drove up to check it out – a moderate size mountain with some pretty agressive terrain.

A long, but very rewarding day to see some of the old sights I had not seen in almost 40 years with my family…were the best of times!

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Anchorage, AK – Day 13

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Thursday, 9 August 2012 Anchorage, AK (0 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4723.  0 hour riding time

Weather – Warm temperatures in the mid 70’s with mostly sunny skies.  Not sure if Anchorage has ever had any 90 degree+ temperatures and rarely does it reach the 80’s

Happy birthday to my brother Tye down in San Antonio, TX…he has been doing a terrific job following me and provding updated weather and other route information!  While I know you bleed Texan after living down there for over 30 years, do know that the folks in Alberta, Canada have the same air about their province – everything is BIG in Alberta!

Spent the first part of my day reviewing the trip with a special focus on the ride across Siberia; I was considering the possibility of booking some hotel nights in some of the larger cities, but since I have no sense as to the kind of mileage progress I can expect daily, I’ve decided to leave it open for now – just roll the dice and ride west. The ride from Vladivostok to the Latvian/Russian border will be a marathon covering 7500 miles in 11 to 12 days.

Additionally, I was on the phone and swaping emails with Rindy Veatch at DHL to finalize the airway bill and information requested by Wendy Choi in Korea to clear customs.  She also arranged for Legacy Logistics to pick up the bike at Alaska Scientific and they arrived with a box truck – just wasn’t sure the shipping crate would fit through the rear overhead door on the truck, but it cleared with about 6 inches to spare.  The bike is shipping to Inchon, South Korea on Saturday via Polar Air Cargo and with my flight, customs clearance and transportation from Inchon to Dong Hae, I won’t see it again until next Thursday, 16 August at the bonded warehouse at the DBS Ferry yard.  Wendy has requested permission for me to gain access to the bike in the warehouse allowing me to opportunity to uncrate and reassemble prior to catching the ferry to Vladivostok on Sunday the 19th.

Update:  Just have had several emails from Wendy Choi and she did get permission for me to uncrate & assemble the bike at the DBS bonded warehouse on Friday, 17 August – apparently they have a large vessel to unload on Thursday, but that’s great news.  This allows me to get the bike back together prior to the ferry trip to Vladivostok so I can begin my trip across Siberia with little delay.   Additionally, it appears all the DHL paperwork is in order and I can clear customs in 24 hours.  Wendy is also arranging for the bike be shipped from Inchon to Dong Hae by bonded truck – about 130 miles and I’ll be taking a shuttle or bus to Dong Hae on Tuesday.  Wednesday is a national holiday in Korea similar to our 4th of July Independence Day celebration…be cool to be a part of the festivities.  Wendy Choi may be reached at AERO INTERNATIONAL, LTD at +82(0) 17-213-3961 or wendychoi2@gmail.com

Once again I joined Del & Kim for dinner and this time it was a local Mexican spot named Los Arcos – I had the chile relleno and Kim allowed me to share some of her Halibut cerviche – it was excellent.  Oh…and I had my first & second Don Julio Reposado Tequila since starting my trip – believe I did, however, induldge in a Patron Silver once or twice.

Tomorrow I’ll share my warehouse,  handwashing – laundry techniques developed while on the road traveling to some of the most inhospitalble corners of the planet.  I know that’s a stretch and since I’ve done little in the category of any kind for several years now…tune in!  Laundry Boy I be….

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Anchorage, AK – Day 12

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Wednesday, 8 August 2012 Anchorage, AK (0 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4723.  0 hour riding time

Weather – Warm temperatures in the mid 60’s with mostly cloudy skies

Today I put the final touches on crating the bike for shipment and had several discussions with Rindy Veatch at DHL to finalize the pick up time for the bike and air bill paperwork.  Rindy has been in contact with Wendy Choi in Korea, who will be handling my customs paperwork, and I hope to have all that completed prior to the bike shipment on Saturday.  Wendy Choi may be reached at AERO INTERNATIONAL, LTD at +82(0) 17-213-3961 or wendychoi2@gmail.com

During my stay here in Anchorage, Del Salyer at Alaska Scientific was gracious enough to allow me to stay these few days in his “bachelor’s pad” on the mezzanine level of his warehouse – quite a comfortable spot overlooking the many medical products he keeps in stock for the remote villages and towns across the entire state of Alaska.  The area is well-furnished with all the ammenities including a very comfortable recliner as a sitting & work area.

Accommodations include a fully-stocked kitchen area complete with refrigerator, microwave and everything you might find in your own home.  The bathroom is spacious and includes a sink, toilet and a unique bathing & showering system developed exclusively by Del; comes complete with 2 different size bowl depending on the amount of rinsing water required along with a spacious plastic tub to collect the water.  Friends now call me…Sponge Brad, Square Pants!

Honestly, the area is very quiet and comfortable providing me with some much needed rest and relaxation before I begin the next marathon leg of Rally Around the World across Korea, Russian and eastern & western Europe.

Anchorage offers excellent dining and lunch was no exception at Southside Restaurant with Del & Sharlane – I had the pasta in chipolte with andouille sausage & sundried peppers…pretty tasty. We continued our discussions on the state of healthcare reform and the possible impact on the Alaskan market along with new lab, products NDC has in the pipeline.

For dinner, Del & Kim invited me over to their home for grilled salmon, shrimp and vegetables along with black & brown rice and salmon sushi caught fresh in the Russian River by Kim’s cousin – believe I could have that sushi for breakfast!  Kim, Del’s wife, is a very petite, amazing and exciting woman to talk with and has had so many adventures including a bear scare while fishing for salmon in the area, crashing a Piper Cub airplane (says that one cost her quite a bit of money) and owning a Harley Davidson Dyna Glide that she bought new and has only ridden 9 miles after driving off the showroom floor – the bike is in pristine condition in one of her out buildings not being touched for 8 – 10 years….just terrific stories and a joy to be around.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Anchorage, AK – Day 11

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Monday, 7  August 2012 Anchorage, AK (57 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4723.  2 hour riding time

Weather – Warm temperatures in the mid 60’s with mostly sunny skies

Started the day early and met Kurt Grau at Anchorage Suzuki/Arctic Cat at 7:30 am to get the final service on the bike before air freighting to Inchon, South Korea.  As you may recall, I had some real concerns about the drive chain stretching over the course of just two days; however, Kurt showed me an example of a bad chain & sprocket from a V-Strom 1000 so no more issues.  Also, the sprocket does float in rubber dampners so there is some movement in the attachment.  With the load I’m carrying, Kurt adjusted the chain on the high tolerance with about 1.25″ deflection – loose that is or risk snapping the chain when driving over rough roads and that ain’t good!  Changed the oil & filter and just decided to take a new air cleaner with me since the one in the bike was changed back in Cool Springs just prior to me leaving on trip.  New tires front and back that I hope take me the 7000 miles or so across Russia – running 3 lbs more pressure in the front and 4 lbs more in the rear due to the load.

I’ve met a few folks from Anchorage that were born & raised in the area and that’s a bit unusual – there are many, many transplants; however, Kurt & his father are native to Anchorage.  Enjoyed hearing about all the changes over the years and what a great place to live if you enjoy outside activities.

Del Salyer with Alaska Scientific invited me to lunch at Jen’s – the menu was broad and I chose the pepper steak which was terrific…we discussed the state of his healthcare business in Alaska and its uniqueness given the remoteness of most of his customers – a very nice operation that’s been serving the area for over 23 years.

You may also recall I had a bit of misfortune while riding in Canada on that cold, windy & rainy day – ended up leaving the majority of my cold weather gear at a gas stop.  While is was only one small bag, it contained clothing that was crucial to the trip.  Well the folks at NDC got together and sent me a REI gift card as well as a care package of essentials – you know things like Cafe Francais, hot balls, gum balls, Anti Monkey Butt Powder, Bourdreaux’s Butt Paste, trail mix, breakfast bars…some of this stuff just makes me hongry!  Thank you Chuck, Michele, Melissa, Laura and Natalie for the wonderfully designed card.

Well my next stop in the afternoon was, you got it…REI and I was able to pick up a few things like thermal underwear and a pair of long pants to replace some of the lost items…all is good in Rally World!

Once I completed some of my errands, I arrived back at Alaska Scientific around 4:30 and decided to go ahead and start he process of crating the bike for shipment.  Since I actually had a factory Suzuki crate and had never seen a bike in one, I wasn’t quite sure how much disassembly would be required.  With the crating required minimually that the front wheel be removed, the fork lift in the warehouse came in quite handy using a rope around the handle bars, removing the wheel, lowering into a bracket and finally securing.  To complete the install, I had to remove the windshield and all brackets as well as the handle bars, control cables and the like.  This initial phase took about 5 and I wasn’t rushed…still have a few things that will need to be secured, but the bulk of the crating is completed.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!

Fairbanks, AK to Anchorage, AK – Day 10

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Monday, 6  August 2012 Fairbanks, AK to Anchorage, AK (381 miles) Total Trip Miles – 4666.  6 hour riding time.

Weather – Cool with temperatures in the mid 40’s to  mid 60’s with mostly cloudy skies with some sunshine.

Had breakfast with Mike & Vicki Kennebec after waking up to a sunny, balmy 43 degree morning in Fairbanks…Vicki also packed a nice lunch for me – ham & cheese sandwich, chips, chocolate chip cookies, mixed nuts & a banana…it sure was tasty on the road especially when you are hongry!

Made my way out of Fairbanks heading south on two-lane, Alaska Hwy 3 with very little traffic and few large trucks which only confirmed Mike’s comments the day before that the majority of goods shipped into Fairbanks are by rail.  After passing through the small village of Nenana, Denali National Park was next and all I could hope for was some clear skies to possibly get a glimpse of Denali, or known for a long time as Mt. McKinley, but the skies were cloudy approaching from the north.

Typically the best view is from the south and as the clouds started to break, I found myself constantly looking in my mirrors for the massive peaks.  At a parking area south of the park, I noticed quite a few folks looking back to the north, many with cameras.  And there she was, Denali and not a cloud in the ski – the tallest mountain in North America at 20,320 feet with both the north & south peaks exposed for all to see.  Later I learned that Denali is only visible about every 2 weeks due to weather conditions and while living in Alaska back in the 70’s, I can only remember seeing the mountain a handful of times.

Passed through a number of towns including Wasilla – believe there is may be a political figure that once winked at me from the television that may be from that town.  Anyhow, I kept looking at my clock and wanted to get into Anchorage early so I could have someone from the Suzuki dealership look at my drive chain in case there needed to be some parts ordered for a repair.

After going inside Anchorage Suzuki/Arctic Cat I met the service manager David and he asked one of his techs, Kurt to come outside and take a look – he reached down and grabbed the chain an said it’s adjusted too tight for the load I’m carrying and he’d seen them break under similar conditions – he recommend I run the chain play at the high end of the tolerance – loose in simplest terms.  Also, he’d seen V-Stroms run 60,000 miles or more before needing a chain replacement…at least now I feel a bit better about riding another 10,000 miles across Russia and Europe!  I have a complete service scheduled with them the following morning including tires and a proper chain adjustment.

Next I headed over the DHL to check on the shipment of the bike to Inchon, South Korea scheduled for the weekend and finally got to meet Rindy Veatch – she has done a  fantastic job getting me a good shipping rate throught Polar Air Cargo.  We discussed the paperwork, pick up times for the bike and payment, and for now, it looks like they will pick up the crated bike on Thursday for shipment on Saturday.

Made my way over to Alaska Scientific where I was greeted by Del Salyer in the parking lot – I had called their office trying to find their location since there was major road construction in the area with detours.  After some brief introductions and a tour of the facility, the folks there helped me find an “old-style” carwash with the hand wands so I could spray off the ten days of glacial silt, mud and bugs of all types – some I can’t even pronounce.

Later, I joined Del, his wife Kim and several from Alaska Scientific for a dinner at an Italian restaurant – it was also Kim’s birthday and I was happy to be a part of the celebration.

If you would like to make a donation to give all kids diagnosed with cancer a better chance at living the full life they deserve, please visit Rally Foundation & Rally Around the World or Text “RALLY” to 85944 to give $10 to WIN the fight against childhood cancer. Send this message to 10 of your friends…Be a RALLY 10 to WIN!