Taking the mistress to Alaska with my wife’s permission

Good day at work today.  The powers to be has authorized the three week vacation I requested for next June to take a little motorcycle trip up to Alaska.  While one of the directors expressed a little bewilderment that I would be riding the Harley the entire way and back, he was intrigued enough to ask me for more details about the upcoming trip.  I’ll sit down with him and go over the plans with him when we both have time to chat sometime in the next couple of weeks.

As I mentioned previously, my wife has decided not to accompany me on this adventure.  It’s a extreme trip, under less than ideal expected riding conditions (weather, roads, wildlife higher on the food chain than people, etc.)  She is a fair weather rider, usually refraining from pulling out of the driveway on the back of the Ultra unless it is higher than seventy degrees and somewhat sunny.  I completely understand where she is coming from, even though I will ride when it’s raining, temps blowing freezing, or if the roads are expected to be in less than ideal condition.

My wife has given me her “permission” to take my mistress with me on the trip.  I do not need to ask for permission to do anything, but for this particular request, it worked out really good that she is fine with this and giving her approval.  Like a child’s security blanket or teddy bear, it will be nice to have something comfortable and familiar to me on the trip.  I know I will definitely sleep better at night!

Guess I should explain that “the mistress” is the name she affectionately calls my bike.  As in, “you spend more time with your mistress than with me” when I am working out in the garage during the snow covered months that she is plugged into the battery tender.  Each bike rides differently, has its own personality, and has it’s own faults.  Riding one’s own bike on such a journey allows the rider to at least have an idea of what to expect under different conditions instead of being surprised by the motorcycle’s actions or inabilities.

My backup plan if work would have refused such as long vacation request was to probably fly to Fairbanks, and rent a Harley up there.  That’s not much of a cheaper path; at $250 a day in rental fees, a $2,000 cash required deposit, and airfare.  Would have been a faster trip, but there’s nothing like using your own bike to complete a journey in its entirety.  I know this will be a trip of a lifetime, with no chance to be equaled or exceeded unless I win the lottery some day.  Even with the wear and tear that will come about from riding the Ultra nearly ten thousand miles in one trip, the experience is worth it to me.  To others…maybe not so much…but to me, this trip and the future memories will be so much more valuable by riding my own.

So, one big obstacle down, several more to go over the next ten months.  I now have the time to do it as planned, my job is secured during my absence, and I feel a little less stress now that the decision has been made.  It’s also Friday…life today is good!

An intro to the Alaska planning phase

For the last several months, I have been seriously considering making my bucket list ride to Alaska.  While this has in my thoughts off and on for more than five years, circumstances of late has brought this to the forefront of trips in 2014 I should be doing.

One of the biggest decisions for some a long ride is whether to do it on my own, or invite others.  Life has a way to throw curve balls when people make plans too far in advance, but this type of trip can take months to physically, emotionally, and materialistically prepare.  So, I have decided that I would throw out some invitations to some of my good riding friends, and let the chips land where they may.  If it was meant for me to partake on this journey by myself, I am totally prepared to throw my leg over the Ultra come next June, and ride to the biggest state on my own.

The first person I approached, LJ, is interested in going if the stars line up for him in life, and he would be riding his police trade-in Road King.  More about him on this blog in a future posting.  Paul is somewhat considering whether he would like to take his impeccable Road Glide out on the famously bad roads of the great white north and whether he can break away from his family for three weeks of soul-searching, curve-bending fun.  It will be some time before I get his answer, which I am perfectly fine with waiting.

I’m waiting until winter to establish a “firm” route, with checks starting several weeks before we leave on road conditions and construction issues that may warrant rerouting.  We will be leaving from the Indianapolis area, and aiming for Fairbanks in the middle of Alaska.  From there, we really want to ride up to the Arctic Circle, and into Coldfoot.  And, if weather permits and the road is passable, we will head for Prudhoe Bay at the northern edge of Alaska.  Why?  Um, because it’s there?

Due to budget and time restraints, LJ and I have talked about limiting any type of tours, and to focus on the riding aspect of the trip as much as possible.  We both would like to stop by Custer’s Battlefield Memorial in Montana on the way out, but other than this, we plan to play things by ear for the remainder of the trip.

Here’s the first basic route that is planned.

Total mileage in the map:  8,912 miles round trip.  We plan to take a little different route home which I have not mapped yet, and with a side excursion or two not too far off the beaten path, we figure it will be between 9200 and 9500 miles by the time we pull back into our driveways.

Work has tentatively given their OK for me to be away for three weeks.  It’s one of those things where two weeks in a row is pushing it, and an added week requires approval from the senior management above my position.  So, I will push my cause so over the next few days; to get my vacation on the schedule before anybody else has the opportunity to put something right in the middle of the desired dates.  So far, LJ and I are aiming for a departure date of Saturday, June 14th.

I have spent the last several days starting up an Excel file to list everything possible I will need to get for the trip; both material items, and maintenance work that I need to make sure to do over the winter months.  There is quite a few things I need to acquire, so I will be keeping an eye on sales to get these items at a great price in the next 10 months.  I’ll share those needs in another posting.

To be physically ready for this type of trip, I have decided to bite the bullet, and do three things I really need to do since I am not getting any younger.  First, quit smoking.  I’ve established a date of October 1 to get off the menthol cigarettes, but I may push that up even sooner.  Second, to start exercising more and work on my strength and endurance, which I have already started.  And third, to work on my diet, and lose 20 pounds.  Hey, I’ve got 10 months to accomplish that…that’s only two pounds a month, a very easily obtainable goal, especially with the increase of exercise helping.

Well, there you have it.  The very, very basics to an introduction of the motorcycle trip to Alaska planning phase.  Much more to discuss and document over the next ten months.

Yeah, yeah, it’s been almost a year!

It’s been eleven months since I have posted on this blog.  Every once in a while, I get an email from somebody asking what I have been up to, and when the blog will be updated with my latest ramblings.  A few have simply inquired to make sure everything is OK, which is appreciated.

The reason the blog has remained empty for such a long time is that life simply got in the way.

Back in September 2012, I found out that my mom has developed cancer again.  We have been there daily to support her in the awful journey that the road has taken her on.  There’s been good days and bad days in our family, a number of hospital stays, and the disease has progressed into her liver, lymph nodes, spine, and brain; there will be no coming back to great health in this round.  Most days find us at the rehabilitation center visiting her as she continues to fight her latest set back.  Besides work, this is where my attention has been focused.

I’m fighting some medical issues of my own, and have had my own setbacks starting in 2013.  This year has been bad medically on my entire family, but we’re getting through it.  Perhaps some day I’ll elaborate on what is going on with me, but not today.  We have acquired a new dog (Collie, rescue that was hit by a car and had some serious problems; more to come on her later), our other dog is back to being sick every other week (vets cannot figure out why), work has been a bear this year, and other life needs just has forced me to make decisions on where to focus my time.

My wife and I have done some riding this year, mostly some charity events, and one 4-day motorcycle camping trip that we based out of Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky with some friends.  We were able to find a time frame where my mom was doing good, but we flew my brother up to stay with her in our absence.  It felt good to get out for a few days, especially after the two of us working our butts off all spring.

A few weeks ago, we tried to sneak out with 3 friends and ride the roads in West Virginia.  We had a pleasant trip down there, but then found out that we needed to get back home for an issue that came up with my mom that required us to be there.  So, we left the group early to come home.

So, not much really going on this year on the motorcycle riding other than jumping on the Harley and going for a ride for a few hours at a time.  However, 2014 will be different.

I have very few things on my bucket list; things to do before I die.  One of the motorcycle trips I have always wanted to do…for many years…is to ride to the Arctic Circle.  It’s almost a ten thousand mile round trip, over bad quality roads, potentially dealing with extreme weather conditions, and trying to keep from getting killed by wolves, bears, moose, and other animals higher up the food chain than where I fit.  It requires three weeks of hard riding.  But the payback of the scenery and the experience will make it the trip of a lifetime.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll catalog some more thoughts about this motorcycle trip to Alaska.  I have reached a point to where with the issues I am facing, each year that passes gets me closer to the last time I will be able to throw the leg over the Ultra and putt down the road.  I am running out of time to do this trip if it is going to get accomplished.  If I can make things work, I’m aiming for a departure date of Saturday, June 14, 2014.

All I need to do is get back in great shape, find thousands of dollars we don’t have, talk my boss into taking three weeks in a row off from a demanding job, get some bike work done, and get some better gear.  Some tough roads ahead.  I’m reading to commit.

And the hardest thing to get accomplished…getting the wife’s OK to be gone for nearly a month…is already done.  She has given me the OK, as long as I increase the life insurance before leaving.  HMMMM.

More to come soon…I promise.