August 01, 2007 GMT
The 4 Stooges Go to Lesotho

After having met a few guys at the BMW club a few months ago - one fellow invited me for a 3 day ride to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. I remembered fondly my visits to Lesotho over 20 years ago following the famous Roof of Africa 6 day motorcycle race - so I accepted enthusiastically.

That trip was planned for early April - but the local guys had to cancel - due to work commitments. What a bugger when work gets in the way of good riding!!!

Anyway - the route was well planned, so I organised the same route - but riding with some good Aussie friends working here (Craig & Jeff) and a local riding buddy - Roche (all work for Hatch).

Once word got out - Sydney (a Dutch fellow also working in a JV with Hatch), and Craig's wife Jenn & Dawn (MiL) decided to follow the same route in 4 x 4's. You will see later why this ended up a really great idea.

Only problem - by the time all calendars aligned, we decided to go late May.

Now the weather in Lesotho can be quite dicy in late May - as Lesotho is very mountanous (over 3,000m) it can be quite cold & gets quite a deal of snow.

Hence - we called the ride "The 4 Stooges do Lesotho" as we were told we were quite crazy for attempting it so late in the year. In fact the week before we left, there was the first really cold snap - and we travelled from Joburg to our 1st night's stop (a great lodge at the base of the mountains) in -3C, along some really great, fast dirt roads. This was a fun day, marred only by a flat tyre just on dark on Jeff's bike.

Boy that day really tested my thermal undies & confirmed I should be OK in Alaska (skins, thermals, polar fleece, gortex liner, dynatec jacket).

A few photos from the lodge:

View from the dining room - just as the sun is rising (for breakfast)
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Boy was it cold!
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The 4 bikes leaving the lodge at 7.00am - still below zero at this stage.
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The lodge is at the base of the mountains & we are headed straight for the famous Sani Pass. This pass is said to be the best in Africa - for views & a "must do" for motorcycles - though we have been warned - it is a VERY rough dirt road (read track).

A view from part way up to Sani Pass.
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We got up most of it without issue - but about 500m from the top of the pass - after several stops & slips in ice & very rough (BIGGG rocks), steep, switchback ridden track, Jeff had a slip of the wrist & put (read - launched) his bike over the edge in very spectacular fashion (tripple with a twist!!!).

We subsequently found out he broke his wrist - as he parted company with the bike immediately after launch.

After several airborn tumbles, the bike came to a stop 30m down the side of the mountain in 1 metre thick snow, and big boulders.

2 hours later, and with the help of all (especially Sydney & his Landrover Discovery & comprehensive recovery gear), we had Jeff's bike back up the track, and loaded onto a passing bakkie (South African for "ute") for the trip back down to the lodge - and await BMW Recovery to collect it.

Jeff was OK - though shaken, but as a keen photographer - had to capture the recovery action on camera. We humped that heavy bike up the slope - using snatch straps & the Discovery - pulling in small increments across the track.

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Jeff joined Sydney in the very warm & comfy Discovery for the rest of the trip.

Anyway - Craig, Roche and myself made it to Sani Pass OK at 2873m elevation (as did Jenn & Dawn in the X5) - and celebrated with some good shots:

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After completing border crossing formalities at the pass, we adjourned to the highest pub in Africa - so we stopped for a warm drink & made a tentative plan about going forward.
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A sign over the door to the pub: "Lesotho is not for sissies" - how true!

Some shots from the deck at the back of the pub - not a bad view - you can see some of the track on the way up:
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Lots of snow at the top - so we decided we would see how far we could get on the track going forward - and if we made it over the higher pass (over 3,000m) - we would continue. If we were not back in an hour, Jenn would know we made it & were going according to plan (though about 3 hours late).

Jenn was going to wait at the pub for Sydney & Jeff to get back from the lodge, and then follow. Our plan was to get to Katse Dam for the night - only 150kms away - but the map showed this to be a very windy route (it ended up taking us 6 hours of solid riding to make that 150kms).

Well - none of us had ridden in snow before - so as we ascended the next section (gradual slope) we learned quickly - stand up, NO wheel slippage, VERY easy on the throttle, maintain momentum & don't look back! Boy - it was getting hot now in all that gear & expending a great deal of energy!
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The knobbie tyres were essential (as Roche found out after a number of slippery experiences - not having a knobbie on the back) He was prepared to pay ANYTHING for a knobbie at one stage.

We had a stop after I had a little lie down - (slow on a very icey switchback). We assessed our situation (all absolutely buggered from the effort).

300m to the top (but steeper), or go back down. A 4 x 4 driver coming down said more snow at the top & beyond!!!! OH shit! Going down was going to be tougher than going up - with certain falls and often! (The 4 x 4 driver was overheard saying to his passanger in Afrikaans - "what a bunch of wankers trying this on heavy bikes!!!") - A shot of Jenn & MiL coming up that stretch:
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So - we decided (in true Stooges fashion) to push on - following Craig's lead we tried the "faster has to be easier" approach. This proved to be successful (though a bit scary), and we crested the top. At the top was another 4 x 4 that had been following our challenges for most of the morning. They videoed us and cheered as we crested the top - that made us feel better! After a few k's of flat terrain riding in snow, it started to abate & the dirt track was very welcoming. We continued on with enthusiam & some pride in having learned a new skill - riding 250kg pigs in the snow!

Stunning, ever changing views awaited us at every turn for the next 5 hours, over very dusty dirt tracks, through countless mountain passes, pristine river crossings, several villages of very proud & statuesque locals - horse riders, with blankets wrapped around their shoulders, a knob kirrie (fighting stick) & the very distintive Lesotho conical straw hats, and lots of smiling, waving kids (mostly - but a few throwing rocks because we did not stop & give them sweets).

One thing is common the world over - a woman's work is never done - collecting the fuel for the fire:

Boy were we glad to get to our digs that night. The 4 x 4's didn't get in till 8.00pm - 3 hrs of driving in the dark.
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The digs were at Katse Dam - built about 10 years ago as water storage and hydro electricity (both commodities - about the only export industries in Lesotho - apart from some diamonds ). We bunked down in the single person quarters, now a lodge - perched on a cliff overlooking the dam.
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A good fire, some warming drinks & a chat with other visitors bore fruit. 2 doctors were also guests at the lodge (one - a lady specialist in emergency medicine), was recruited to have a look at Jeff when he arrived a few hours after us. She put him in a temporary cast, fed him some welcome drugs & Jeff slept the night comfortably.

The next morning - again in sub zero temperatures, we fixed 2 flat tyres (we had 4 all up over the weekend) - mine was a horse shoe nail - that I now have as a memento of the eventful journey! We headed up, down and around the most fantastic mountainous bitumen road I have ever been on - 80kms of pure motorcycle joy, again stunning views and a bit of vertigo (the edges were so close & so steep) and some trepidation as ice and snow patches appeared around corners - where the shadows kept it cold.

For those that know Mt Glorious near Brisbane - multiply by about 4! and we had it all to ourselves - stunning!

Once we got back down to the Lesotho/South Africa border, it was a quick run back to Jo'burg over dirt roads, back routes & a bit of highway, to get back just before dark - tired - but still buzzing from a great ride, fantastic company & lots of stories for the campfires in the future!

Jeff had to face Susan with a "please explain" about the cast - he ended up having surgery that night to wire up his wrist & put a full cast on. But as always - Jeff had a smile and saw the positive of it all - the insurance would sort the bike out - and anyway - it would take a while for the wrist to heal, so he wouldn't be riding for a while anyway. But he was keen to plan the next adventure ride.

Cheers for now - the next episode will be back to Botswana in a few weeks - but further north to the Makgadikgadi salt pans for 5 days!

Posted by Ron Markiewicz at 02:20 PM GMT
Alaska

Well - it has started!!!

I left Joburg on 19th July, and finally Brisbane on 25th July - after a great rousing farewell at Jeff & Susan's in Joburg and the Story Bridge Hotel in Brisbane - thanks all who managed to come along, I had a ball & hope you did too.

I guess these few photos say it all.
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I really appreciated the thoughts & will try to comply!

This one captures the feeling - thanks Bern:
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I will wear the tee shirt often (ps one of my riding colleagues used to work for Fcuk!) - small world.

I have now spent about a week in Alaska - bottom to top & back again. This a HUGE and magnificent part of the world. Enjoy the ramblings & images.

A few days in Anchorage to get organised, meet the group I will spend the next 5 months with, and see some of Alaska around this area.

One day going south to Portage along the coast of the inlet & my first glacier. A real taste of things to come.

The group numbers about 18 at present - 11 will go all the way - some doing the North America leg. Suprisingly, I am not the only Australian - 2 others and a New Zealander. The rest are from the UK, and it has been a pleasure to be re-introduced to that wonderful dry pommy sense of humour. It will be fun with lots of cutting jibes & a great willingness to laugh at oneself!

On Saturday, one of our group (Dave - a North American indian, a doctor, and a "native healer") honoured us all with a sweat lodge ceremony at his house in the hills. The ceremony is about expressing your feelings & praying. It is performed in a sweat lodge:
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with about 8 people at a time, some rocks heated on a fire, steam, some herbal burning (to free your thoughts) - in the dark - with a circle of people each expressing their thoughts / prayers in a number of rounds. Boy was it HOT!!!!

Dave sang some chants / songs handed down by his forefathers & we were priveledged to be invited to join in. It was an honour to participate.

Sunday morning - all keen to go:
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I am glad there is someone here with more gear than me - he is nicknamed the Astronaut (more likely - Go Go Gadget!)
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We left Anchorage as a group - everyone excited about our journey - heading north to Fairbanks. A coffee break at a wonderful log cabin type place:
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Just north of Fairbanks we visited a display introducing us to the Alaska pipeline (1200kms long - from Prudhoe Bay on the arctic cost to Valdez on the southern coast) - the lifeblood of oil for the US - about 1/3 of all US oil consumption comes through this pipeline. It was built during the oil crisis of the 70's, and is a real engineering marvel. The road we would travel for the next 5 days was built to allow this pipeling to be constructed and operated.
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This has been such a critical installation for the US, it has only been the last 10 years where travellers can move along it for most of its length, or in fact visit Prudhoe Bay itself - the massive oil field on the Arctic Coast.

The pipeline itself, and the road winds through the most brilliant mountain range - the Brookes Range for several hundred kilometers - giving us an exhilerating motorcycling experience.
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It was good to get on the dirt - and with some rain & roadworks - get DIRTY!
The start of the famous Dalton Highway - the dirt road to the top:
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My pace quickened with the sheer joy of the ride - but I managed to contain the exuberance & keep the shiny side up. Lots of work on the road during the short summer season (about 2 - 3 months) - and we often had to stop & be piloted through the more intense work:
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I loved this sign at some patches - it really meant something!
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At a high point on the road (Atigan pass) - I found an arrow from the only type of hunting allowed in this area - bow hunting. It now is mounted on the bike as a real souvenier:
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The views from Atigan Pass are breathtaking:
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Thats Dave on the right and Jeff - from NZ.

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Some more teases of the scenery - we enjoyed for several days along the pipeline route:
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We stayed at a typical construction camp at Coldfoot, and then at Deadhorse (the town at Prudhoe Bay - there are no houses there!).

We did the mandatory swim in the Beaudord Sea - to join the Polar Bear Club. A new definition of "Lion Cold" - ask Craig & Roche!

We were told our group of about 15 who did the swim (including the 2 women in outr group), was the largest naked group to have done it - fantastic - what a first!

Across what is called the Northern Slope (the Tunra to the coast) - my roomy Mark found an interesting remain - as we had stopped to boil the billy:
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A Caribou skeleton - maybe from a bear, or from the hunters.

Some real micro beauty in Alaska as well:
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oddly nicknamed - Alaskan cotton.

Even the grasslands are beautiful:
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There has been lots of wildlife - moose, caribou, even a bear and a wolf - lots of birdlife - even had a large seagull (2m wingspan) cruise along the road just above my head for about 3kms (I slowed down to about 30kph) - I think he enjoyed the company.

I am really enjoying the history of Alaska - real frontier stuff - the log buildings have really hit a chord:

a barn
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a tack room (now a museum):
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notice the sod roof

and a great house - quite famous:
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build at the delta of the Chenna river - we had breakfast at Rikka's roadhouse - just next door.

One enterprising fellow near here was selling prebuilt log houses:
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It is free standing - I guess you pull it down & reassemble like a jig saw puzzle on your mountain hideaway site!

Well that's it for now - just crossed into Canada - the Yukon - vast, wooded, lakes, mountains - ho hum - will just have to cope!

keep sending emails - I really appreciate them.

Posted by Ron Markiewicz at 09:37 PM GMT
August 18, 2007 GMT
Canada

We have just left Canada & re-enetered the US - in Montana.

Journeyed through the Yukon, British Columbia (BC) and Alberta.

Rode the Alcan Highway, the Stewart-Cassiar, the Icefields Parkway.

Was overwhelmed by the Cassiar Mountains, and The Canadian Rockies.

Embraced countless vistas of glaciers (the Bear and Salmon Glaciers in particular).

My favourite photo:
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Enjoyed the wonderful towns of Stewart, Hyder, Jasper, Banff.

Recharged the spirit along the lake sides.

Met some real characters - people and animals, and caught up with great friends!

All in all - wow!!!

The Yukon is vast, heavilly wooded, and blissfully under populated. Raging white water rivers, streams loaded with trout, and a new majestic view over every crest.

I always try to find an isolated place each day - stop, boil the billy and take in the whole thing slowly.

My billy boiling set up:
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Sometimes I really luck in with vistas like this:
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This whole lake was hidden from view along the road by the huge trees - I found the spot & the lake by doing my usual exploring of side tracks along the way.

We had a few wet days - made it even more interesting, but even then, the views were enhanced with the heavy clouds:
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This is peak vacation time in the north - with lots of motor homes everywhere.
The size of some of these is incredible - people tow a car behind the motorhome!

The most outstanding example I saw was this:
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I hope this guy owns a trucking company - imagine buying a Volvo prime mover - just to pull your (huge) van (and the 4 wheel drive behind that!)

Watson Lake is a small town on the Alcan - with not a great deal happening. Seems about 50 years ago - some fellow posted a sign from his home town there because he was feeling a little lonely. Others followed, and now the "sign forest" is flourishing & is the draw card for the town:
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Jeff & Susan told me they had posted their sign here when they travelled through a few years ago - I went in search - but oddly enough lucked out - only 60,000 signs guys!!!

Did find an Aussie sign though:
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We stayed at a great lodge at Bell II - a heli skiing lodge - there are no ski lifts - just 2 helicopters that take you to any number of great peaks in the area. Boy, I have to come back to this place in the winter. The lodge is a collection of buildings using log cabin construction - and really swank:
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The view from where I am standing:
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The gym, sauna, jakuzi are in these buildings (with the sod rooves):
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These log cabins have really hit a chord with me:
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I find them so appealing, and would love to have a go at building one (hmmm!!!)

As this is the salmon spawning time, we were lucky to see many bears fishing & gorging themselves:
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The grizzlies saunter up and down the stream, and grab one of the thousands of salmon, seemingly without any real effort. After a few fish this one came to the river bank and had a sweet desert of berries:

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Looks like I am really close doesn't it. I was - but thankfully on an elevated timber viewing platform - and I am told that bears can't climb!!

I did come across one on the road - my riding buddy said "What great photo Ron - just wait there while I get the camera". Only problem was - the bear was now happily strolling towards me. The smile masks some serious arse pucker:
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I was ready to hit the starter button & skedaddle - luckily he went into the bush just after this photo - as close an encounter as I ever want.

We stayed a couple of nights in a little old gold town called Stewart at the end of a a fjord. The town is very quaint (1890's style), and our digs were brilliant - restored timber buildings - using recycled material & great local artifacts ardorning the walls. At the jetty at Stewart - where timber is loaded onto ocean going ships:
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Stewart seems to be going through a tasteful rebirth, with a few existing operating mines near by and new gold mines in development.

My business (Hatch) has been doing some of the feasibility study work for them - out of our Vancouver office. Keep up the good work guys - fantastic sites & awesome country.

Some interesting buildings in this area:

A fixer upper as a weekender?
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How about a caravan that is really set up to stay:
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I think this one is a little too far gone:
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There are some really cosy cottages that appeal:
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In this area we were able to get some really close views of Bear and Salmon glaciers:

Bear Glacier:
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Salmon Glacier (up a long dirt road that supports some gold mines) - the road snakes up the mountain across from the glacier:
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We fooled around a little & took some really hammy shots:
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Mark - my riding buddy for the day - playing mountain man:
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Just had to have a rest -after the strenuous ride up the mountain:
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Stopped for a break & drank from a small waterfall of melting snow:
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Dave (our Indian doctor who I mentioned in my last entry) - was going to leave us soon - going back to Dutch Harbour on a long ferry ride. So a shot of Dave before he left:
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It was great to meet you Dave & I enjoyed out chats.

On the way down the mountain, the late summer has left some beautiful snow formations - nature's sculptures, as the sun, wind and water have their way:
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The scale of these is deceptive - mountain man Mark came to the rescue - just so you can appreciate the scale of the sculpture:
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This lush patch caught my eye coming down the mountain:
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the vivid greens jump out at you.

I caught up with a good friend - Roger - who has just move to Vancouver. He rode with us for a few days & we had a ball:
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At Lake Louise:
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At the famous Banff Springs hotel:
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We also caught up with Kent - a colleague from Koniambo time - who now lives in Calgary. We rode together down the Icefields Parkway (undoubtedly the best mountain road & scenery anywhere!!!) & into Calgary. Kent has a beautiful new Indian motorcycle & really looks the part:
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The 3 of us having a fantastic day's ride:
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Roger & I went into Calgary & visited a good friend from Hatch; Jean- Claude. It was great to spend the afternoon with him & his family. I know he reads this blog - so Jean - Claude, we are with you!

Along the way - interesting people cross your path every day, usually for a pleasant chat about the journeys we are on, often in opposite directions & so we can share our recent experiences & in so doing influence our journeys. This lady was fascinating to say the least:
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Monica is Norweigan - she lives in the artic & runs dog sleds for a job. She bought this bike in Los Angeles & was travelling to Alaska on her own. A pleasure meeting you Monica!

And just to finish on a different, but frequent note (at least for me) - I have repaired a punctured tyre 3 times this week, and had to replace my rear brake pads - from all that spirited mountain riding - so here I sit in a motel car park working on the bike. Thankfully I had some spare brake pads with me - just in case!!!!
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Posted by Ron Markiewicz at 11:46 PM GMT
August 31, 2007 GMT
The US

Our route down through the US has been very carefully crafted to:
•Appeal to motorcyclists (a perpetual smile lurks under the helmet)
•Avoid big cities (before Tuscon – the biggest town we have stayed in was about 10,000 people)
•Get to the heart of the great national parks that live down the Rocky Mountains in Montana and Wyoming
•See the desert & canyon country of Utah & Arizona
•Wear out tyres – rapidly!

I passed the 10,000kms mark for the trip so far in the Grand Canyon – for the Aussies – that’s equivalent to Sydney to Perth and back – not bad for 4 weeks on the road.

Montana, Wyoming, Utah, a hint of Colorado, and Arizona were the chosen states, and the National Parks visited included: Glacier, Yellowstone, ????, Grand Canyon.

My fascination for log houses has been growing – Montana has to be the epicentre of the craft – most farm houses, barns, churches, and municipal buildings are constructed this way. While ambling down a windy road one beautiful sunny morning (well – not really ambling) – out of the corner of my eye I saw a most outstanding site – a very large log house being built – at the builder’s yard.

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Hit the picks with some suddenness – which caught my passenger for the day by surprise (young Evan – whose Honda suffered a terminal disorder near Jasper in Alberta – so he has been riding pillion most days) – well Evan woke up in a rush as our helmets clapped, and his posterior slid forward on the seat – with the inevitable and testing pillion splay!

After Evan recovered, we U turned & spent an hour exploring the builder’s craft.

A few shots of the largest construction of a log house I had seen (Evan is the scale marker) – no sealant between the logs – each is fitted to the lower with precision.
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Wondered how the logs got to be so straight – as they were obviously not machine shaped – I saw on the site the area where obviously a craftsman used an adze to trim each log – and from the sea of shavings on the ground – it consumed someone’s time most days.
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Simple tools: Band saw (petrol engine driven & a simple rack did any log splitting or thicknessing
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The rest is chainsaw, drill & chisel, and simple handling tools.
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Assemble with a small crane, decide where the doors and windows go – crank up the chainsaw – and presto a window opening appears. Match mark the lot – pull it down – onto an ordinary truck – up to the site in the hills & re-assemble the jigsaw.

Well Lloyd and Joe, I envy your chosen craft and lifestyle – for once I felt I have missed an opportunity to do something that really has clicked with me – well maybe not missed??? – I have been thinking of the property at Rainbow Beach more and more – how can I scratch this itch that has started???

Further through the majestic mountains, lakes and forests of Montana – a house on an island in a lake – must be tough living there – don’t you think????
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Unfortunately there have been forest fires in Montana / Alberta – causing huge areas to be burnt out – we had seen the haze for a few days, and the day we went to Glacier National Park, the haze was thick – so we missed most of the views – but still the Road to the Sun was an exhilarating experience.

Evan & I climbed eagerly and stopped at Logan Pass for the daily billy tea ritual – only to find at least 1,000 tourists (most with lily white legs in baggy shorts and branded with name tags in busses, or cocooned in hideously monstrous RV’s), but also a gaggle of Harleys & Goldwings all desperately seeking their mountain inspirational experience in isolation. Grossly over loved was my conclusion!

Amazing how 50 of Americana’s Harley riders in one place can look like a cloning experiment gone horribly wrong – enough black leather to support a tannery, frilled chaps, red bandanas, cut off tee shirts, the infamous winged tattoos, and the inevitable scowl (and that’s just the ‘old lady’ pillions) - all riding in close formation around the mountains at about 10kph - max wharp speed without sparks flying around the precipitous corners & starting more forest fires). Oh well – I am sure they are enjoying doin’ their thang!

Yellowstone was a little wet getting there – but the ride in, the afternoon at Old Faithful cruising the geysers, and staying at the 100 year old Old Faithful Inn was a high point (literally) – as the Inn is (yes that’s right) a log cabin construction – with the Foyer over 25m high - with an internal crow’s nest no less.
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It seems the architect was allowed to scratch his childhood tree-house itch to the max – and has produced a unique building and an experience I will treasure always -even seeing Lisa stealthily sneak up to the crow’s nest late at night (locked up because it is said to be unsafe after a 1980’s earthquake) silently scaling the locked gate - giggling uncontrollably with a wave from the top, and slipping down ½ a flight on the way down – trying ever so hard not to get caught.
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Unfortunately when Old Faithful performed (pretty much on schedule) – I had forgotten my camera – so here is Old Faithful in recharge mode – waiting for the tourist hordes to gather for her next inevitable burp!
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Again – something majestic being grossly over loved. As one lady put it at breakfast the next morning – 300 million Americans with only 2 weeks vacation a year – all cramming the sights in! She couldn’t comprehend our 5 month expedition, and concluded we were all vagrants!

We rode out the park the long way round & finally caught a panorama of a sizeable herd of bison.
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Such a rare sight – bison numbers are slowly growing again, having been re-introduced to many park areas. The thousands of bison slaughtered in the 19th century were hunted for pleasure (even from moving train windows), and to deprive the Indians of their food source – so they would be forced onto the reservations (Bill Cody’s claim to fame). I sometimes wonder about the human race!

Then some fantastic mountain riding – the highest pass in North America – Beartooth Pass (3,393m according to my very flash Highgear watch)
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went up and turned around and came back down – just so we could also ride the Chief Joseph Parkway, finally arriving in Cody – cowboy central. I know Justin is following the good roads in Mapsource - so Beartooth Pass is on US Highway 212 just inside Montana with the Wyoming border - and Chief Joseph is Wyoming state highway 296.

I tried to capture the sense of height at Beartooth Pass - but impossible with the camera - the outlook was breathtaking:
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This is dinosaur country – remnants and fossils abound & you can almost feel their presence. This is also oil country – modern day dinosaurs populate the arid plains – bobbing to feed rhythmically.
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In 1 day we traveled through some great, green mountains – to Douglas Pass, and then into the land of deserts and canyons.

At Douglas Pass I found some side roads that went higher & followed the ridges back towards Vernal for several kms – I wondered why the dirt road was so good – it was presumably a hunting road – as there were no houses. Then I saw this!!
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– with ominous signs promising the most horrific consequences should anyone trespass – so I found some more minor dirt roads that continued along the ridges.

My aloneness at this time added to the pleasure, as I had it all to myself – the thousands of baggy arsed lily whites were safely ensconsed in their gargantuan RV’s safe at some bitumened byway – while I was again boiling the billy with a view to die for – and I felt like I owned it!
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Afetr coming down the other side, first contact with the famous Colorado River was somewhat by chance. In what seemed a generic desert scape – I saw a few houses and this:
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there’s that itch again!!

It did leave me with a puzzle – why here? Then around the next bend – I saw the Colorado river, and realized the log house had a view from a cliff of this epic river. This river would play a role in our travels for quite a while.

The Dewey Bridge was an early (and beautiful – in my engineering biased opinion) development that opened up this area – 6 loaded ox wagons at one time! Too good an opportunity to miss & try some creative photography, and some mischief – as I found the bike just fitted between the rocks protecting each end of the bridge (shhh! – don’t tell anyone).
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Then the real desert and canyons abounded – several days of gob smacking sights, and desert heat (up to 40C in the Valley of the Gods).
Moab is a center of adventure tourism on the Colorado & a great little town – even if the Utah licensing laws are a little odd (eg – some restaurants can’t serve both wine and beer – one or the other!), and most bars are “private membership” – purchased for upto 7 people for $4 – go figure??

A day off the bike in Moab, and I chose to enjoy one of my other interests – kayaking on a fast flowing river with a few minor white water sections. But the best thrill was seeing the canyons from the river itself. John (a Geologist working in the North Sea oil fields) joined me for the day. John (father of Greg –also on our expedition) is a hive of knowledge and passion for the landforms – I enjoyed the day with John – he enjoyed the new experience & mastered the craft quickly. Thanks for a great day John. Oh – and guess what – we had the river to ourselves for the whole time we were on it – brilliant!
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A few more pictures trying to capture the majesty of this Navajo Nation area – a dismal failure I am sorry to say – no substitute for journeying though it, seeing, feeling, and yes – sharing it with our small group of like minded travelers in this case.
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Our expedition leader Kev – obviously enjoying it after a several journeys through this land.

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A 400m drop down this road to the canyon floor – see the bikes at the bend? (I was near the top).
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Have you seen this shot before? (near Monument Valley)
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Well the last day before Tuscon was a doozy - left Jacob's Lake Inn (about 2,500m elevation near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon) just before dawn and 8C temp - wind roads through the birch / fir trees - then down from the plateau to the floor of the canyon country - immediately the temp rose - it continued to rise throughout the 750km day to 43C - yep - bloody hot & dry - our longest day so far. Arrived at the BMW dealer to leave the bikes for their service & a few days R & R in Tuscon. Good to get to an air conditioned hotel. So - finishing the blog & doing domestics before Steve & Lisa's wedding tomorrow - looking forward to a great bash!

Then off to Mexico Saturday - our next adventure, and my next entry - cheers for now & hope you enjoyed the ramblings

Posted by Ron Markiewicz at 07:57 PM GMT
 
 

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