Thursday, June 30, 2016

Heading North Again

One last photo from Seward. This was taken on Tuesday after the reunion was over. Much of the extended family met at a coffee place right on the water next to the Sea Life Center for breakfast. We sort of took the place over. The skies were clearing up for the first time since we arrived so this may be remembered as the damp reunion. On Tuesday, I just rode back to my brother's home in Anchorage where they hosted a cookout with moose burgers and caribou hot dogs. As you may guess, they were a hit with the family. Yesterday, I rode back to Fairbanks in wonderful weather. Mostly 55°F to 70°F for most of the trip. No heated anything needed. No pictures on the return trip. Denali was almost cloud free but the scenic turnouts were tourist clogged including multiple tour busses at every stop.

The Ural ran great on the trip. I had adjusted the clutch which got rid of most of the tendency to creep when stopped in gear. The creeping seems to return a little when the engine is hot. The battery monitor I installed showed no green lights while running down the road. There has always been one green light showing and it is that way until the engine really heats up. This suggests either a failing battery, voltage regulator or alternator. Something to dink with when I get back.

I brought my radiant thermometer to measure the head temperature after some of the long grades as the CHT seems really inaccurate. Left was usually about 400°F and right was about 380°F. The gauge showed left of 320°F and the right 440°F. So both sides are inaccurate but still usable to measure changes. Oil consumption was 200 ml which seems about right for the 1000 mile round trip. Gas mileage averaged 31.2 mpg based on the stock speedometer. Performance and economy have both improved since the engine rebuild.

As the title suggests, I'm sitting in the Fairbanks airport again waiting for my flight north. This time I'm flying from Fairbanks to Deadhorse then continuing on to Barrow after a several hour layover.

Update - Now I'm waiting in the Deadhorse airport. Here is the world famous Prudhoe Bay hotel that all of the motorcyclists seem to be longing to get to. It's right across the parking lot from the airport. I have a 4 ½ hour layover here before my flight to Barrow. Getting on the plane were a couple of motorcycle passengers. They didn't see any reason to ride back to Fairbanks on the back of a bike. Below is a pano of Deadhorse. Pretty scenic, eh?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Seward Reunion (Part II)

The Seward reunion continues. This is the view from the picnic area on Saturday evening. I don't remember it raining much but it wasn't sunny either. In fact, it has looked like this the entire time we've been in Seward. The cookout turned out to be pretty good with some food items completely gone but there were some leftovers. After the picnic, most of the family adjourned to a large house that one of the families had rented overlooking the bay. But not until about eight or ten people got their Ural rides. Some folks in town must have wondered why I kept riding around as I sort of kept the the same route.

On Sunday morning, I went to the Alaska Sealife Center for a short visit with my son. We ran into quite a few relatives there as admission was part of the reunion registration fee. (Yes, there was a registration form, fee, etc.) After the Sealife Center, I headed out to the Seavey dog sled attraction. It was pretty busy and our reunion group alone needed to be divided into six groups of eight. This snapshot was taken from the cart as we were taken on a two mile route. There were fourteen dogs pulling each cart and ours had several members of the Iditarod champion team. The attraction is part of the training for the dogs. At a couple of times when the trail split, just a one word command changed their direction almost instantly.

Today (Monday), I opted not to go on the boat excursion due to the high probability of getting motion sick. I got the conference room ready for everyone's return for dessert (cheesecake and pies) and the "business" meeting of the reunion. I.e. Who was in charge of the next one and where will it be. I have a few more photos on the camera SD card so I'll post one more later. Plus there is a bunch of GoPro footage taken on a zip line by my son...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Seward Reunion (Part I)

 A few family members opted to arrive in Seward on the Alaska Railroad. They managed to get seats in one of the dome cars and the train slowed down when wildlife was spotted. Plus each car had a tour guide pointing things out as they passed. One of the other families mentioned that there were so many photo ops that it took them quite a while to make it from Anchorage to Seward due to all of the stops.

We had a light dinner available at "registration" plus they were able to pick up their t-shirts, backpacks full of Alaska necessities (mosquito repellant, snacks, etc.) and name tags. The room got pretty warm by the end of the evening. Most of the family is staying at Hotel Seward which about a block from the Alaska Sealife Center. This hotel was chosen for it's Alaska ambience and a wide choice in room styles to meet any budget. And we were able to rent the conference room for a couple of the meetups such as this. Too small for a sit down banquet which is scheduled for tomorrow a few miles down the road near Exit Glacier.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

On the Road to Seward

Where to head to. This sign at Pioneer Park aka Alaskaland suggests the "MOOON". I guess their router doesn't have spell check. I took this photo on Sunday evening when we met my cousins from Watsonvillle who decided to start the reunion early from Fairbanks. They treated us and my mom to dinner in an early celebration of her birthday. We went to the Alaska Salmon Bake which is always a treat.  

On Wednesday morning, I headed down to Anchorage on the Ural loaded with food and supplies with Bridget and my youngest son in their cars all packed with more food and supplies. On Thursday morning, we went to Sam's Club and filled up the ice chests with perishable items and headed for Seward. I believe the most recent count is 58 attendees for the family reunion which starts tomorrow late afternoon. We opted to rent a house instead of staying at the Seward Hotel so that we have a kitchen and a place to stage food out of. Tomorrow, we are providing a light dinner and on Saturday I'm doing an outdoor cookout at a rented pavilion on the beach.   

On Thursday afternoon, I rode from Anchorage to Seward and this road is really one of the most scenic in Alaska. Every way you turn there are more snow capped mountains. There was a pretty stiff headwind and the Ural was wide open and just able to maintain 55 mph. The speed limit was 65 but the wind was keeping most of the RVs going at Ural speeds. In fact, I even passed up two of them. I stopped at Turnagain pass mostly to check the cylinder head temperatures after the climb. They peaked at right around 425°F on both sides which is right at the upper limit.

About 25 miles out of Seward I stopped at Moose Pass to pick up some water. But also to add a fleece layer as the temperature had dropped and it started to rain. The rain was intermittent but occasionally heavy but let up completely by the time I arrived in Seward. Since I didn't have the address of the house, I wandered through the streets until I saw Bridget's Prius. More pictures later as the 2016 Machida Family Reunion ramps up... 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Change Comes Slowly

When I left Barrow last week, the upper corner of the phone said Astac 3G. When I arrived on Friday, it said AT&T 4G. A huge difference in data speed. Before, it was almost unusable. Now it works as good as or better than WiFi. This has been a long time coming and really needed.

Another change is that Osaka', my favorite Japanese restaurant located here in Barrow, added a bunch of photo menu entrees that aren't listed in the menu. The owners are Korean and it made sense to add some Korean dishes to the menu. Especially since they were making it for themselves anyway. The owner commented that having pictures are a better option to a traditional menu as it could be easily changed.

On Saturday evening, I tried the kimchi stew, spicy. Very tasty and made from their home-made kimchi, tofu and pork belly. Delicious with a bowl of rice on the side as well as the miso soup that is served with just about everything. They even have bibimbap, one of my favorite Korean dishes.

Anyway, I'm sitting in the airport again waiting for my flight back to Fairbanks with the laptop tethered to the phone. It's kind of overcast and foggy and was hoping that the flight wouldn't be cancelled. It wasn't as it just arrived from Pruhdoe Bay. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Midnight Sun

There was a major network problem with the wireless metro network in Barrow which needed to get fixed like immediately. So guess where I am spending the weekend. At least I got a free upgrade for the flight north. I believe I figured out the source of the problem and have most of the network back up and running. I still need to update a couple of the radios on the residential huts.

And since I am here, we replaced one of the last radios that was still running on the old Alverion system. I was not very anxious about going up on the roof of this quonset hut but the UIC Science staff managed to borrow a lift. They replaced the radio and fed the cable down into the building where I was able to terminate and test the connection. The old radio system can now be finally turned off! This was not actually part of the network problem but since we borrowed the lift to reach a radio on a tower, it was an opportunity. This building used to be the theatre when NARL was still a military facility and is still referred to as the Theatre rather than "Bldg 2".

Since it looked like we might have some nice weather, I set up the GoPro on the mirror of the truck and powered it off of my large battery pack. I set up the camera around 9:30 pm and ran it until about 9:00 this morning. I trimmed the video to around 3:30 am or so as the sun disappeared from the frame. You'll notice that the sun never really drops below the horizon. By this morning, it was raining.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Wednesday was a beautiful day and the local credit union had a free picnic for members who are 55 and older. My mom rode over to Pioneer Park, aka Alaskaland, on the sidecar and there were comments that I needed to take a picture of her without the helmet.

This is the first time I've been here this year. There was some sort of children's event going on so it was pretty crowded. When checking into the CU picnic, we were given tickets to play a round of mini golf and ride the train. We opted for the mini golf and since I knew that Bridget enjoyed the game, I called and let her know that we had some free passes.

There are two courses and the original one is looking pretty run down. It's been here a long time and none of the motorized parts were functioning. But that didn't really change the game. The more recent addition was looking to be in better condition and since the course is a little more challenging, it doesn't see the same use as kids aren't supposed to be on it.

We opted for the original course. The line for the train around the park was too long to wait for especially in the blistering heat. It must've been almost 75°F.

Things went a little down hill after that for me as there seems to be a problem with the metro wireless network in Barrow. I think I'm going to need to head up there again...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Change of Weather

Saturday afternoon and evening turned out to be a beautiful day. There were a lot of people running around enjoying the windless, sunny day. Still a little cool at 43°F so most of the picnics were around bonfires on the beach. Since trees are non-existent around here, the most common source of firewood are shipping pallets. And around here, old pallets are everywhere.

I had originally stopped here to look at the jumbled ice that the winds had blown into shore and that’s when I noticed all of the bonfires further down on the beach. There are large gravel berms along the side of the road between the road and the beach to try and protect the road from storm surges. Not sure how effective that strategy is since they seem to be rebuilding them continuously. Anyway, the berms do a pretty good job of separating the beach from the road.

I'm writing this while sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to Fairbanks. Lots of fog this morning but not enough to prevent the flight from coming in.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Wednesday afternoon brought some clear weather to the north. There was still some storm clouds to the south but I couldn't resist taking the typical Barrow tourist photo. It's now sort of off the beaten path with the construction of the new Top of the World hotel. There is a Mexican take-out restaurant right next to this site which is why I was there. I took advantage of the clear weather to replace a network radio antenna on the roof of one of the residential huts. It was still windy so not warm sitting on the roof terminating outdoor rated cat-5 cable. But it went pretty quick but I ended up doing the other end as well. Whomever did it last time did a poor termination.

That morning, there was fresh snow on the ground as shown in the picture. Today, the truck was completely covered with snow but no picture. I was too busy sweeping snow off of the windows. By noon, the flurries were over and there is a hint of blue skies again.

Today's tasks were indoors. I worked with one of the network engineers in Fairbanks to turn on flow export from the new router they had me install in April. I had originally set up all of the software to summarize and classify the flows about six years ago so it is somewhat of a challenge trying to get it all figured out again. It has been running so rock solid that I had forgotten to check if it was still running. The software was running but it wasn't receiving any data from the router.

Only a few more days before returning to Fairbanks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

An Afternoon Stroll

This afternoon, I went on a little stroll out to the building referred to as the Control Shed. It is in the BEO (Barrow Environmental Observatory) and has heat power and Internet. What more do you need? The last time I was in Barrow, I went out the the Control Shed a couple of times. There was a network component on one of the instrument towers which prevented data to be fed back to San Diego. I installed a temporary wireless bridge and SDSU sent up a replacement part. Today's trip was to install the replacement part and retrieve the wireless bridge.

There is a lot more water than there was on my last walk. But at least I can see where the trail is. Last time the walkway would just vanish under the snow and I was sort of on my own to connect the pieces. Most of the trail is made from these plastic egg-crate panels zip tied together. Occasionally, there are these wonderful wooden walkways. But only occasionally. I was hoping for some nice weather but I got some sleet on the walk back.

Unlike the last time I was here, I wasn't the only one around. There was a small research group working out here checking out there equipment and see what survived through the winter. I actually ran into a couple of tourists out taking pictures. A lot of birders visit Barrow as it's supposed to be a great place for bird watching. I spent most of my walk staring at the ground.

This is the Control Shed and I think that it was originally built by SDSU as part of their research project. Initially power was provided by a generator and someone would have to go out and refill it with gas. Now there is a very expensive power line running all the way out from the road. It's only a 2½ mile walk round trip but I'm ready for some Ibuprofen and a nap. I must be getting old...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Heading North

The road trip is over while I'm still in Anchorage. Right now, I'm sitting in the Anchorage airport waiting for my flight to Barrow. Even if I had left from Fairbanks I would still be sitting here waiting for the next flight. Alaska Airlines had cancelled the direct flight from Fairbanks to Barrow so the only option is to fly from Fairbanks to Anchorage, then Anchorage to Prudhoe, then Prudhoe to Barrow. A lot of legs for what used to be a 75 minute flight.  

This is a planned trip and since I was already in Anchorage, it made sense to fly out of here to Barrow.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Road Trip

Today, we headed down to Anchorage for my nephews wedding. No Ural this time. The weather wasn't very nice for most of the trip down. Heavy fog between Fairbanks and Nenana and scattered showers all the way to Anchorage. This picture was taken just north of Cantwell. The mountains make it a wonderful drive at least as far as Trapper Creek. South of there is horrible Anchorage area traffic. Everyone seems to be in a hurry and way too many people. You may as well be in Seattle or Los Angeles. I don't see why anyone would want to live here. (Just my humble opinion)

Tomorrow morning I plan to visit the New Sagaya Market to pick up some Asian groceries.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ural Delay Factor (UDF)

Tuesday as another sunny day. It seemed like a good day to wash off all of the winter grime as well as all of the bug carcasses from the Talkeetna trip. I didn't try to get all of the grease grime off as you never know whether that's all that's holding things together.

What's more logical after washing the rig then to haul trash to the transfer site. Unless you are in the city there is no home trash pickup. Everyone has to haul their own trash to one of the transfer sites around town. This is the third trip when Bridget came out wondering what was taking me so long. After all, why use the truck when the Ural takes three trips instead of one. Made sense to me...

While at the transfer site, a gentleman from the Ukraine came by and wanted to take a picture. He owned Urals before and was asking about reliability. He said that if you had a Ural in Russia it was "ride two days, fix one day. Then ride one day and fix two days". He had run into Mickey in Delta and was told that they were $20k for a new one in AK and he was flabbergasted that anyone would pay that much for a Ural. Just about every time you ride anywhere, people want to talk.