Alaska Countdown: Eight Months

Eight months from today is the set Alaska journey departure date.  It seems so far away, until I realize it only seemed like days ago when I was nine months away.  The older we get, the faster time goes by it seems; and I realize that I’ll be pulling out of the driveway to head north towards the Arctic soon enough.

Time for an evaluation of the trip preparation needs and where things stand.  If I don’t stay on top of this, I will miss something until it becomes too late to deal with it before departure.

Bike Maintenance Needs

Got all the parts that I have previously mentioned as needed in stock, sitting in the garage.  The only thing that is stopping the work from beginning is the fact that Indiana weather refuses to give up summertime.  It’s been very nice riding weather lately, and I am still finding opportunities to go out and ride the asphalt a little longer in the warm sunshine.  Another month or so and I expect to be dropping the bike off over at a friend’s place, where we will do all the needed upgrades over the colder, snowy months.  I’ll make sure to do some entries here with photos as the work begins on the Harley.

Gear – Clothing

Pretty much now set in this area, which gives me time to break it all in over the winter and during the spring months when the bike is able to go out and not be impeded by snow, ice, and road salt all over the ground.

The older I get, the more mortal I feel.  For most of my riding years, I have always been in the camp of refusing to wear a helmet due to weight, sight reduction, screwed up tan lines, and whatever else I could think of to prevent the wearing of such.  Over the last several years, and especially this current riding season, I have been wearing helmets more and more.  I still say “to each their own”, but I know that I am not going to heal as good as a twenty year old any longer if something bad happens.  Actually did a group ride yesterday for a “Bikers for Boobies” breast cancer charity event, and a crotch-rocket rider about four bikes ahead of me went down in a busy round-about in loose gravel.  You just never know when its your turn to get the golden ticket for a wipe-out.

Been evaluating modular helmets, and have been looking for a specific design of the Shark Evoline 3 series to add to the growing noggin protection devices on the shelf.  Rumor has it that this manufacturer may be coming out with an upgraded series over the winter months, so I am not in a hurry to purchase one yet just in case.

Shark Evoline 3 ST

Currently own some half helmets and 3/4 helmets.  Due to the expected bad road and weather conditions, I would like to get something offering full-face protection when needed.  It’s a pain carrying two helmets now when I decide to wear one; a half for those hot summer days, and the 3/4 for when it rains.  A modular would be usable on the sunny days with the front open…and the chin bar down offers all of the safety of a full-faced helmet.  But in reality, I still have days where I do enjoy a ride without wearing a brain bucket.

Gear – Electronics

The trip of a lifetime to Alaska warrants that I upgrade some of my electronics, both on the Harley and off of it.  I currently have a Garmin 765T GPS that has worked very well for me over the years, but it is not a waterproof device.  I’ve used sandwich bags, and eventually a clear waterproofing case, over it to keep it from dying from the rain I sometimes I get caught in.  It’a s big pain protecting it this way, as it fogs up from the humidity and takes time pulled off on the side of the road to continually put the protection on and take it off repeatedly.  So, I’m looking to acquire a waterproofed GPS for the trip up north, which guarantees me many miles of riding in inclement weather conditions.

I also want to be able to document the trip through still photography and video recording; both of the actual riding as well as the scenery.  There aren’t a lot of “touristy” stops planned along the way due to time and money constraints, but there a few sights that I just cannot miss.  I have created video journals of past rides, and it is especially nice to watch when it’s cold and snowing outside and the Harley is in the garage hibernating the winter away.  In the past, I have use a Drift HD 170 video camera in which I recorded the actual ride while traveling, which has done an “OK” job. However, it is not up to the quality I wish to capture on such a journey.  I am looking at the Drift Ghost, as well as the latest GoPro offering, the Hero 3+ Black.  Still evaluating and waiting for newest reviews before making up my mind.

Looking around, I did come across an awesome point and shoot camera, that actually provides equal or better photography than most professional series DSLR cameras; and does a wonderful job of video as well that I will be using when not actually riding.  It’s the Sony RX100, has a unbelievably large 1″ sensor, and it is very small in the hand.  I’ve not had the chance to play with it yet, but eventually will get some test shots with it and spend the winter trying to learn the hundreds of manual controls that comes with it (it also had two very good automatic controls to take a picture without even thinking…and the quality of those shots are nearly as good as manually setting up a shot in the camera.)  There are lots of reviews of this camera online, and although expensive, it gives a result that blows away all other small, portable point and shoot cameras (and even many expensive DSLR cameras).  They actually have a newer version out, the II, but for the $200 savings I was able to get from just buying last year’s model, I’ll be able to nearly purchase the GoPro or Drift to record video on the bike.

Sony RX100

Finding extra batteries and memory cards at a great price was easy on Amazon.  All I need to fully outfit the camera is find a small, portable tripod, and a weatherproof case to carry the camera.

I really hate expending so much money for this trip, but I consider all of these things investments into being able to use the equipment to document so many other future journeys on the motorcycle.  Now, if I can just talk my employer into allowing me to do that bucket list trip down to the tip of South America for six months, and find a way to pay for it, I would be able to really get some experience using this equipment.

Health

Past the one month, tobacco-free milestone several days ago.  The headaches caused by nicotine deprivation have stopped, and like all non-smokers, can really smell the “ashtray odor” on anybody that still partakes in tobacco.  A few friends of mine still smoke, and I have seen those in public that smoke…but neither really seem to provoke me into really craving the opportunity to light up.  Occasionally I get a flash of desire, but it is easily controlled and put aside.  The cravings are nowhere near as bad as when I have previously quit.  Again, each person just needs to find that one thing that makes it easier for them to quit, and have to be at that place in their life to beat any addiction that they face.

Food still does not taste good to me any longer.  I continue to eat of course out of the usual hunger, but instead of heightening my taste buds awareness by stopping the smoking, it has actually decreased my sensitivity.  The greasy Whopper, a sausage and mushroom pizza, or the spicy Sichuan-flavored Chinese food that I use to crave does not seem to do it for me any longer….all seem to be without flavor now.

Talked to a work friend, and we have both decided to make the effort to improving our general wellness by linking up and trying to motivate each other by working out together.  He prefers to go after work, but I prefer to do it before work since I am more of a morning person and the fact that the fitness center we will be using doesn’t appear to get too crowed that early.  Still putting the final touches on the work out plan, and hope to get started with this by the end of October.  At least give me the chance to lose a few pounds before the large Thanksgiving and Christmas meals comes about and really forces me to get serious with eating better in preparation for the upcoming trip.

Anything Else

Did I say Christmas?  Just a shade over two months away!  Feels like just yesterday that 2013 came upon us….and now 2014 is right around the corner. Yikes!

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