Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tina and Steve

+Steve Johnson  and +Tina Walker left San Diego in April on a 6 month road trip with no set destination and no plan, other than riding across the USA.  A trip of self discovery or as they say "we're now running to find ourselves.  They call their blog "Road Pickle" and  I have been following them on the blog and Google Plus pages since they started the trip.
Last week they were riding up the east coast and this week they are staying in Newark, Delaware.  We got in touch and decided to meet in Pennsylvania.  +Rania Madanat, a mutual friend organized a meeting point and invited a few other riders to join us.  The weather wasn't cooperating and as we met at 12pm, clouds were gathering and looking very threatening.  Rania showed up with Todd as some others dropped out of the ride on account of the weather.
We head out after the introductions and make a stop for lunch and good conversation at "The Four Dogs Tavern" in West Chester, PA.

I had a great crab cake sandwich and downed it with ice tea while the others enjoyed the local beer.

Soon it felt like we had known each other for a long time, the conversation turned to our adventures and motorcycles life as it usually does when bikers get together.  Steve and I talked about Alaska and various other places we have both been to while others pitched in with their adventures.
As the saying goes, "time flies when you having fun" and soon it was time to leave.  We all looked outside, the sky was getting darker by the minute and decided to hit the road.  I had a long way to my mom's place, she had invited me for dinner and my wife was already there waiting for me.

We say our goodbyes but before leaving we plan another meeting for next weekend.  I leave the parking lot and within a mile rain starts.  I stop to put on the rain gear and then continue.  Later, as I cross the bridge into New Jersey the rain is coming down really hard, torrential rain that starts causing floods on exits ramps off the highways.  Visibility was probably less than 100 feet.  The exit from I295 to route 70 was flooded, cars stopped on both sides of the ramp afraid to cross the flooded area.  I have a tall bike, water was not going to stop me, as I crossed the worst part fast running water was going over my boots.  I made it safely across and continued on, leaving cars stranded in the background.
I went from West Chester, just west of Philadelphia to Manchester in New Jersey, right through the red shaded area were most of the flooding was occurring.

I crossed the bright red spot in the middle of this map

I made safely to my mom's place, but water had managed to get through the top of the rain jacket and down my back and chest, I was soaked.  Water had also managed to get into my boots and soon it was a puddle inside the boots.  Luckily my dad is about my size and I was able to borrow a t-shirt and shorts while I dried my clothes.  Later as I headed home more rain came down but it was light and didn't cause any problems, besides, my boots and socks were still soaked, it wouldn't have made much of a difference.

Road Pickle
Steve Johnson
Tina “Sash” Walker
Rania Madanat

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day 17 - Top of the World

This post is a continuation of my Alaska trip but I must say this trip happened in 2012 for anyone reading my blog for the first time.
After spending a wonderful afternoon and evening in Dawson City it was time to cross the Yukon and continue north along the famous "Top of the World Highway".  Packed my tent, stopped at a gas station to refuel and while there had a cup of coffee and a wonderful coffee cake.  Next stop, the ferry to cross the Yukon.  It's a short ride as the Yukon is not very wide at this location.

After you disembark on the opposite side, you start a hill climb and soon I stopped just up the hill to say a final goodbye to Dawson City.

The "Top of the World Highway" is about 80 miles of gravel with a few areas already paved/sealed and is open only in the summer months.  The highway is so named because it follows along the crest of the hills giving beautiful views of the valleys down below.  It is also one of the most northerly highways in the world.

The road is easy to follow at a decent speed but you do have to watch for the gravel which can pile up around the turns and if you not paying attention, you can get you in trouble really fast.  If you encounter rain the road could get pretty slippery.

I stop multiple times for pictures having decided to ditch the other three guys and continue the rest of the trip alone.  I prefer to be alone, I can stop whenever I see something worth photographing and I can do it at my own pace.  The views from the top of the mountains is breathtaking, you have the feeling you are riding at the top of the world.  I encountered some pockets of snow but the temperature was reasonable, got cold in a few areas but was mostly a good day for riding.

The few paved areas allows you to ride at a faster pace but again you do have to be on the lookout for the occasional big pothole or broken road.

At my next stop I hear a rustling noise in the bushes and upon further investigation I see a little rabbit very close to me.  I manage to capture a photo before he takes off down the hill.

I stopped again in front of the famous sign but then I remembered I'm alone, who's going to take the picture. I prop the camera on the back of the bike and use the timer to get the shot.

A few miles down the road I finally enter Alaska.  I had been waiting for this for a long time, it had been 17 days since I had left home and now I'm in Alaska.  I had made a quick run to Skagway earlier on the trip but that was for a few hours only.  I'm now going to be in Alaska for a few weeks.

A little later I pass some cabins, they appear to have been built a long time ago, one of the cabins has grass growing on its roof.

I'm quickly approaching the town of Chicken where I plan on having breakfast, I'm dying for a good cup of coffee.  This is beautiful country, amazing scenery, I'm really enjoying my trip.