Friday, July 30, 2010

IMBC 2010

A huge thank you to Stacy, Bobskoot and others for coming up with the opportunity to meet other bloggers. I have been following some of their writings for years. As a fairly new rider, I searched out others writing about their experiences and have learned many valuable lessons from them. I didn't have my bike down there and had to leave early so I didn't get an opportunity to ride with them but I truly enjoyed meeting them all. Meeting Conchscooter was a real surprise as I thought he was still somewhere in the southwest based on his blog entries. I've read every one of Irondad's posts once I discovered his site (from Charlie6's site) as there is a wealth of riding information there. From there, I found and Bobskoot and from these, SonjaM, Troubadour, Trobairitz and Bluekat.

Their posts sort of get me through the six month long non-riding season. I was not surprised to find them all as personable and pleasant in-person as they appear to be in their blogs. I was looking forward to IMBC2010 at least as much as the BMWMOA Rally. Maybe even more so since I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the rally.

Dawson City, Yukon Territory

View of Dawson City from the dome.

We took the Campbell Hwy north from Watson Lake. I've taken this route about 30 years ago and I assumed that the road had been improved since then. It may have but I couldn't tell. The hub deep mud (4WD needed) in the first construction area should have been a hint. The next 200 miles were narrow, dusty gravel road. In most places, the road was about one and a half lanes wide and anytime there was oncoming traffic, both vehicles moved onto the loose dirt on the shoulders. We stopped in Ross River for the night before continuing on to Dawson City the next day. No pictures of the Campbell Hwy or Ross River.

I haven't been to Dawson City since the early 90s and the one thing that strikes me is that tourism seems to be down significantly. I think the Taylor Hwy being washed out in Alaska has made an impact. We were very pleasantly surprised to hear that the highway was open again. Now we can head straight into Alaska tomorrow instead of doubling back through Whitehorse. Significantly shorter route. Today we took a Parks Service walking tour around town, caught a showing of Srgt. Preston and saw a vaudeville show. Yesterday evening, my son wanted to go on the cemetery tour. Weird...

Over the years, I've wanted to spend some time in the Yukon but we always seemed to be rushing down to the lower 48 or rushing back to Alaska for some reason. This has been a real nice break.

In the panorama, if you look at the river right in front of the town, you can see the confluence of the silt-filled Yukon and the clear Klondike River. Kind of interesting.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On the Road Again

We are headed back to Alaska taking a slightly different route than we took on our way down. After crossing into Canada in Sumas/Abbotsford, we headed towards and up Highway 5. An absolutely beautiful route through the mountains. Then along some small roads to Dawson Creek, the beginning of the Alaska Highway. Here is the "classic" Alaska Hwy photo. Unfortunately, with no bike in the shot. One of these years I'll make the trip...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Portland, OR

I've been in Portland for a while attending a family reunion. We went on a "walk" called the 4T. Where the "T" stands for Train, Trail, Tram & Trolley. Total mileage was around five or so of actual walking. This was a familiar site during the walking section. The trail was fairly well marked and we had a good turnout of around 20 people though the number of hills were beyond peoples expectations. We started in downtown and caught the light rail to the zoo. We then started the five mile walk towards the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU). Mostly in the woods, sometimes it felt like we were walking through backyards and there were a couple of times we were walking down busy streets.

At OHSU, we caught the tram which ran right over I-5. The trip was planned in this direction since the tram is free going down (they charge $4 to go uphill). At the bottom, we caught a street car back to downtown followed by the light rail back to our hotel stop. If you're ever in Portland, try out the 4T.

As part of the reunion, we also stopped at Multnomah Falls.

And this place over looking the Columbia River. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Voodoo Doughnuts

How about a bacon maple bar? Yes, that is real bacon. Or a chocolate frosted doughnut topped with chocolate cereal?

Actually, I tried the bacon one and it was very tasty.

I am in Portland now attending a family reunion. After leaving the BMWMOA Rally in Redmond on Saturday afternoon, there was the 1st IMBC (International Moto-Bloggers Conference) held in Bend which deserves it's own entry. We then headed to downtown Portland for a gathering of my dad's side of the family at the Embassy Suites. Voodoo Doughnuts is right own the street from the hotel and I remember hearing of them in the Food Channel. One of my cousins waited in a long line for a dozen assorted doughnuts including this classic. I think this is the one that made them famous.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thelma is Here

The R80G/S that has travelled to much more exotic places than I ever will documented in Tiffany Coates blog. Complete with new Bill Mayer saddle and broken front turn signal....

Friday, July 16, 2010

BMWMOA Rally - Part 2

Today seemed like a much quieter day at the rally. I saw an email on the Airheads list mentioning an "Airheads Tent". BTW, "airhead" refers to the earlier BMW motorcycles that use the horizontally opposed, air cooled engine commonly refered to as a boxer style engine. I think these were produced until about 1995 or so. I wandered around the camping areas until I saw a large tent with a variety of airhead club flags. Sadly to say but there is no Alaska chapter. I also ran into the other Fairbanksan here that I know of and he is talking about starting an Alaska chapter.

I attended several other sessions including a session led by Matt Parkhouse on Airhead maintenance issues. Pretty interesting and useful information for me. I also volunteered to help at registration and also drove the shuttle for a while. The biggest challenge driving the shuttle was the huge turning circle and all of the bikes parked everywhere. While working registration, they mentioned that there were in excess of 7000 people attending this rally and the fairgrounds here is the best of any they have ever used. I guess I chose a great first rally location.

I went back to the Airhead tent after my registration shift and they had a Cajun chef making shrimp etoufee served over pasta and a nice green salad. A great dinner with new friends. Right now, the band is still playing blues-rock. Hopefully, they will stop by midnight.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I finally arrived at the BMWMOA rally in Redmond, OR, and I have never seen so many BMW bikes at one time. The tent camping area is really nice, smooth and grassy. I can hear the entertainment as the stage is only a few hundred yards away but hopefully it'll be over by 11 or so. The weather is absolutely beautiful without a cloud in the sky. The trip here from Corvallis took a bit longer than I would've expected due to construction and slow moving traffic around Sisters. I'm camped near the motorcycle gates and there are lots of bikes coming in but they have all are pretty quiet. No loud pipes in this group. The noisiest thing are the Cushman type vehicles running around carrying stuff around to support the rally.

Very few food vendors were open for business today but a few of the farkle vendors were doing a booming business.

Thursday evening - First thing this morning, I headed over to the BMW tent to sign up for a demo ride. While waiting in line, I was trying to decide between the F650GS and the F800GS. I think the majority of the people were waiting for the S1000RR. I ended up signing up for the F800GS but when my turn came up, there was absolutely no way I could ride that bike. The seat was way to high for me. They switched me to the F650GS and it fit me perfectly. I'm afraid, I could really get used to this bike. Plenty of power compared to my '83 R100RT airhead and much lighter. I inadvertently got in a little "off roading" in when I swung wide on a left turn. Just the kind of handling I've been looking for in the gravel. Very light throttle and brakes and I could barely hear the engine. The only think that took me completely by surprise was the wind pressure on my chest due to the tiny windshield. To me, it felt kind of uncomfortable when our speeds got "up there". Also, my old airhead seemed more comfortable at higher speeds.

I also attended seminars on cornering, "Why Don't They See Us?" taught by David Hough, and one on perception. There are over a hundred vendors here selling everything under the sun. I'm surprised at the number of people who attend these rallies just to go shopping. I ended the day visiting old friends in Bend whom my wife is staying with. We went to a music in the park event. More "fair food".

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mount St. Helens

Autostitch iPhone picture from the Johnston Ridge Visitor's Center. The clouds parted for just a bit before completely obscuring the crater.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mackenzie, BC

I'm told that this is the towns claim to fame. The worlds largest tree crusher. I'm not at all sure what it is supposed to do (why crush trees?) but it does look pretty threatening, especially if you are a tree.

We stopped here this evening since the municipal campground was free, it wasn't in the middle of a metropolitan area, and the timing about right.

On the way, we went through a wonderful valley with the Peace River running through it. There seems to be a controversial hydro project threatening this valley. Or that's what I'm lead to believe from all the signs. We stopped at a turnout with a great view but it is starting to get really warm.

I'm not sure how many more days we will be camping out. I'm typing this while walking around to escape the swarms of tiny flies. The campground wifi is broken so I'll post this whenever I can get a connection.

Friday morning - Actually, it cooled off really nice last night and once it cooled off, the bugs went away. It looks like another beautiful day! Heading for the southern end of British Columbia today somewhere around Cache Creek. Almost in bobskoot territory.

Free WiFi at the Quesnel Visitors Center.

Friday evening - Cache Creek, BC. Stayed at a nice campground about a mile east of town. Pretty warm but the campground had a pool!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sign Forest in Watson Lake, YT

This place is pretty well known. It is a "forest" of posts with signs and was originally started by home sick soldiers working on the Alaska Highway during it's original construction in the 1940s. Now, it is a big tourist attraction and one that I've stopped at on every trip up or down the highway.

Day three of our trip. We are now in Fort Nelson, BC. Today was a longish day as there were very few places to stop on this stretch save for Laird Hot Springs. That place gets really crowded as most travelers on the highway feel that it is a "must stop" for their trip to be complete. It is nice if you've never been there before but not special enough to deal with the crowds. Muncho Lake and Stone Mountain Provincial Parks were both wonderful and saw lots of sheep along the road. We also saw a brown and a black bear, bison too numerous to count and a lone caribou. There are lots of places I would like to spend some time at but we always just seem to be "passing through" on our way south.

Lots of motorcycles making their way up the highway. By far, the majority are Harleys with dual sport bikes (BMW GS, KTM, KLR, etc.) a distant second. After that are Goldwings then other model touring bike and cruisers. Very few sport bikes (I actually don't remember seeing a single one). Significant that there are just about as many bikes as RVs.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kluane Lake, Yukon Territory

This is one of the more beautiful lakes along the Alaska Highway. I am finally on the trip south to the BMWMOA rally in Redmond, OR, and a family reunion. I'm always amazed at the lack of any real development around this lake. Maybe the environment is just a little too harsh. This is another iPhone Autostitch shot. More photos whenever the campground has wifi...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Flip Utra

Not waterproof, no image stabilization, no zoom (it actually does have digital zoom) but it does have a tripod screw so maybe I will try some videos while riding like bobskoot and many others have done. I think all I need is a tripod mount for the RAM system as I have another handle bar mount laying around somewhere in my office. I may now actually have to clean the wind screen once and a while.

The Flip Ultra is a standard definition video camera that records up to two hours of video into internal memory. It has a built-in, flip out (hence the name) USB interface so there isn't any cable to mess with. It isn't waterproof but there is a waterproof case sort of like a miniature pelican case available for it. Unfortunately, you lose access to the tripod screw mount but there may be some other options like maybe the RAM panel mount. The price was right (fairly inexpensive with the coupon) and it is a very simple, one-button video camera that even someone like me can operate.

On another note, I just had a wonderful lunch with a colleague and his wife from Barrow (of all places.) They are here on vacation and it was great seeing them both somewhere besides in Barrow. We went down to the Flamingo Hilton to have lunch at their buffet. It is 104°F outside here and not at all pleasant to walk around in.

The conference finished up this afternoon with sessions on radio frequency engineering to support WLANS. I was hoping that they would have provided additional information such as tools and techniques to identify interfering sources. (such as microwave ovens and wireless phones). But like just about all of the sessions I attended, technical content was very high, marketing very low. In fact, in a couple of cases, completely non-existent. Speakers included many Cisco distinguished engineers and IETF chairs. The only marketing was during the keynotes by the CEO John Chambers and a CTO Padmasree Warrior who is a impressive speaker.