Monday, January 13, 2020

20200112 Big Money Rally

The weather forecast was for really good weather (meaning: temperatures in the 60's, and at least partial sun) on Sunday, 12 January 2020, so we headed out to Prince Georges, Anne Arundel, Calvert, and St. Mary's counties for bonus hunting and geocaching. The day turned out to be gorgeous -- up to 70 degrees F and full sun. If only every riding day could be that nice! We got a whole lot of creeks and churches, one airport, and a few geocaches to help Donna's totals (adding three new counties and two virtual geocaches).

Ride maintenance

I took the bike in for service on Saturday, 11 January 2020 -- it was time for an oil change, and I'd gone a little past the recommended 36,000 biannual service mileage. Showing up for Saturday service in January is certainly different than showing up in June! I was first in line at about 0708, and was back on the road before noon. Pretty good. Very expensive, but pretty good. That'll get the bike to the pre-ride check in May or June.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

2020: First ride of the year

The weather forecast was for "mostly sunny" and mid-40's today, so off we went for a short ride. There were Big Money Rally bonuses to hunt, along with a couple of virtual geocaches. The temperature held to between 39 degrees F and 43 degrees F for the whole ride, and the "mostly sunny" turned out to be "very occasionally sunny". But, it was a nice opportunity to shake out the kinks and get a little well-needed practice riding in. Bonus hunting is a specialized form of riding -- road riding, combined with slow speeds, negotiating turns, and watching for the "right" parking place adjacent to the target. Practice is important.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2020 Alaska Adventure -- reservations (continued)

Making reservations is a tedious process, even with much of the process done online. I've spent quite a bit of time already selecting locations to stay, based on factors such as distance from the previous stay, and places that I want to see in the vicinity of an overnight stop. The logistics associated with motorcycle travel include thinking about how to change from motorcycle boots and pants to hiking boots and pants. I've combined the motorcycle-powered sightseeing with some hiking on this trip, so those logistics concerns matter a fair amount.

Several of the places on my list of stays are highly-trafficked (e.g., Denali National Park, Glacier National Park), sparsely-provisioned (e.g., McCarthy, Watson Lake), or on the I-want-to-stay-there list (e.g., House No. 1 at Fort Seward in Haines, Alaska). As of last night, I've worked the list of stays without reservations down to about six locations (seasonal shutdown, combined with innkeeper travels, make communication challenging). Despite the remoteness of a couple of these locations, I'm not particularly worried about getting these last few reservations made over the next few weeks.

Many (most?) motorcyclists traveling to Alaska either intend to camp most or all of the time, have a much more compressed timeline than I have time, or can get away with much more modest accommodations (there are quite a few "dry" cabins available, for example) than I have in mind for this trip. The constraints I put on this trip (stays in specific locations, no "dry" cabins, no camping), coupled with the previous reliance on the Alaska Marine Highway System, put some urgency on getting the reservations made early. In a few cases, I was too late (e.g., House No. 1 is already reserved for the period of time I needed, and nearly all of the properties in Glacier National Park are reserved a year in advance). I was able, though, to get a place to stay in every one of my desired stops. I have a bit of an advantage over first-time travelers in that I've been to some of the 2020 Alaska Adventure locations before, so I know what to expect in those areas. Some others, such as Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK, have significant information available online, so those uncertainties are contained.

The bottom line? Seven months (or so) out isn't too early to be making reservations in places if you're determined to see specific things or have one or more zero-mile days. I think our 2020 Alaska Adventure is shaping up nicely; the advance planning will help ensure that I'm not making things up (and taking up valuable time doing it) on the road.

Monday, December 23, 2019

2020 Alaska Adventure -- reservations

Given the decision to decouple the trip from the Alaska Marine Highway System, it was time yesterday to start getting reservations. I'd been worried about getting places to stay around Denali National Park and Glacier National Park, so didn't want to wait too much longer. I got what I think are the tough locations locked in last night.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

2020 Alaska Adventure -- Alaska Marine Highway System

It's now well past mid-December, and the Alaska Marine Highway System sailing schedule is nowhere on the horizon. The chatter on the Internet points to a budget impasse in the Alaska legislature, which is confirmed by a lot of official warnings about service impacts.

Last summer, folks were trapped by strikes; the 2020 situation is grim, but for other reasons.

Since we're not camping, and are planning to visit some very popular places (e.g., Denali National Park, Glacier National Park), it's time to plan around the two ferry runs in the original route and move on. It's not a lot of extra riding; I was hanging on to the ferry rides to get a little underway time and see Prince William Sound.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

2021 Summer Adventure planning update

I've begun to frame up the 2021 Summer adventure candidate. As usual, the original plan was far too ambitious (yes, 300 miles / day is trivial compared to any decent long distance rider's plan, but I'm reminded often that these are vacations, not endurance rallies). and would have required more riding that the vacation merits. So, the candidate now has far fewer miles / day, and many more hours for scouting locales. 

The latest focus is Washington and Oregon, with the other western states left for later trips. I'd like to snag Vancouver and Vancouver Island on this trip; I'll see if I can fit that in.

Cinder, near the very beginning of the trail

Taken right after we brought her home from Accotink Park. Very small and somewhat wild, but always a great companion.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 little semi-feral and completely great cat

The Cinder story started, for me, just before Thanksgiving 2005. The staff at Lake Accotink had trapped a cat family, and put out a call for people to adopt the cats. Lorraine and I decided to wander down to the park office to take a look at the last kitten that they were trying to place. We had only one cat at the time (Opie), and knew that we had room for one more, especially one that was going to be released if they couldn't find a home. Release back into the park was going to mean a very short life, given the predators here in the county (I routinely have foxes in my back yard!).

The kitten wasn't habituated to people, and was on the outer limits time-wise for habituation. We knew that Cinder would be a tough case, but decided to bring her home to give it a good try. She was here for a week or two before Lorraine let her out of the kennel so she could get the run of the house. We were renovating (again), so there was a lot of stuff moved around in the house. The kitten took full advantage of all the new hiding places, and moved right in. She was completely fascinated by Opie, and settled in like a champ. Opie and Cinder lived a great life together, with more than a little drama caused by the younger cat insisting on touching the older one.

Opie died on 4 July 2017, so Cinder has had the run of the house by herself for most of the intervening time. I'd tried to adopt another cat, but Cinder just wasn't having it, so that little experiment ended.

Cinder reached the end this evening. It was a great run, and I have a lot of great memories. She (and I) got a full 14 years out of having her here in the house. I'll miss her greatly.