Ridin' Around with John Boettcher

I planned Alaska for about a year, before I even bought my first Guzzi. I had already gone to the 48 states, 4 Canadian provinces and Mexico on a motorcycle so Alaska was inevitable. I picked up a 76 T3 just this April  and after a few months I thought I had it ready for the trip. I put an alternator rotor in, Steve Kames replaced a bad u-joint , set up my distributor and set me up in MGNOC. I was all packed with extra cables, brake pads, spare tire and tube, gas can, etc.

July 22nd:

I left Richmond, IL. at noon. I worked a half day and headed out with 40650 miles on the clock. First stop was MG Cycle in Brooklyn, WI. to say hi to Rick, stayed a couple of minutes and back on the road. Got on the freeway and headed to North Dakota, then north to Fargo. Somewhere past Fargo it turns into.....

July 23rd:

Then almost to the Canadian border I grabbed my first bite to eat at 1:00am, a mini pizza and some coffee. I made it to Winnipeg and start heading west on RT 1. A little past Winnipeg the skies started to lighten , around 4:30 am CDT. It was really hard to stay awake at that point! From here to Edmonton it was rather uneventful. Nice roads and decent scenery but it gets old after a while. I made it to Edmonton around 8:00 pm. CDT. 1760 miles in 32 hrs. A new personal record. I stayed at the Super 8 at $53 Canadian at an exchange of over 40%! The credit card is nice because it does the exchange automatically. The local merchants will vary from 25% to 35% on cash sales.

July 24th

After 6 hrs of sleep I was back on the road. Heading up RT 43 to Dawson Creek. The bike had been acting rich for some time so I pulled over and dropped the needles a notch. Seemed a bit better. I made it to Dawson Creek and picked up the Alaskan Highway. The highway was not too hot. A lot of gravel patches after the first hundred miles. A truck tossed a rock up and it nailed me right between the eyes and actually bent my glasses. I had to stop and wipe the blood off that had ran into my eye. As I got closer to Fort Nelson the mountains started to get more intense with severe gravel patches in thirty mile stretches. I found a small motel in Summit Lake with no television because there is no reception. It was worth it because there was a creek right outside the window that you could hear from the room.

788 miles for the day.

July 25th

I was on  the road by 5:00 am CDT. The sun was out already. I came across some goats and rams, then a moose so big I thought it was a horse. At Watson Lake I got off the Alaskan highway and headed up RT 4 to Carmacks. Very rough gravel road. The bike took  a real beating. The front brake line broke midway and I had fun trying to get down the mountains with just a rear brake. In Carmacks there was a little service station that had a car brake line that actually kind of worked! The threads were close so I just snugged it up enough to keep it from leaking. My back tire was wearing fast. The gravel makes the rubber go fast. After Carmacks it was pavement again with occasional gravel patches. I got to Dawson City which is a very cool old mining town. I got a room at Klondike Kate's. Cheapest place in town and actually ok. Good food there too.

901 miles for the day.

July 26th,

I was up and at it bright and early keeping up my 5-6 hours a night sleep average. I took the ferry across the Yukon river and picked up the Top of the World highway. At the Alaskan border it turned back into gravel. It was weird to see the border patrol in the middle of no where.  Tok was very expensive on fuel and food. From there I headed to Fairbanks and it was all right. Then south past Mount McKinley which was still snow covered , then on down to Anchorage . The mountains around Anchorage looked pretty spectacular. I liked them better than most, maybe because you're closer to sea level which gives them more impact. I stayed at Earth Tours bed and breakfast, a place I found out about on the internet and met Margriet, the owner, for the first time. 

827 miles for the day.

July 27th,

Work on the bike day. Margriet let me use her garage. My rear tire was bald by this point so I put my spare on. I changed oil, cleaned up my points, washed and reoiled my air filters and kicked back the timing a bit to relieve the pinging from the regular gas I had to keep using. Margriet offered to be my tour guide so we went off for a ride. We saw some glaciers and a park where you can see for hundreds of miles. We also met a friend and his wife who have lived without modern amenities for 15 years. They built a beautiful octagon house with lumber that was milled from the trees they had to clear for the setting. They also built a guest house. He runs dogsleds from Anchorage to Nome, just a mere 1100 miles and his wife is a cook whose specialty is for large groups in the wilderness. She is hired on for things like search parties in the mountains for lost adventurers. It was refreshing to meet people who didn't need the things that we couldn't live without! There was a homemade bridge over a creek to get to the place that I stopped on to get a photo. I heard a splash and looked in the creek where the water pools and it was solid salmon. There were so many salmon side by side it looked like you could walk across them.

Back in Anchorage I enjoyed a couple of pounds of king crab legs.

A mere 143 mile day.

July 28th,

Ready to venture back. Beautiful mountains as I headed from Anchorage towards Tok but a dismal day in the 40's and rainy. At Tok, I picked up the Alaskan Highway and headed back to the Yukon. Since I came into Alaska from Dawson City this section of the Alaskan highway was new to me. In fact, I planned it so I wouldn't have to go on any road twice. Once I crossed into the Yukon the weather improved, the rain stopped and it got warmer. Kluane Lake looked great, lots of pines. The road was still full of long gravel sections. I made it to Whitehorse, pretty decent town but I stayed on the eastern outskirts.

765 miles for the day.

July 29th,

A cold morning leaving Whitehorse. In the 40's. The Alaskan highway has some really rough spots. Construction sections had pilot cars that you had to follow through. They would let me go to the front of the line so I wouldn't have to eat as much dirt. Teslin Lake was great. Good view from the highway. At Watson Lake I picked up Rt. 37 and headed south into B.C. This was one of my favorite roads on the trip. Nothing but lakes, creeks and rivers for hundreds of miles. I saw a couple of black bears running across the highway into the woods. The spare gas can paid off again. I was planning on staying in New Hazell but all the motels were booked so I ended up in  Smithers, a little farther down on Rt. 16.

830 miles for the day.

July 30th,

Things were starting to look normal again. More traffic and bigger towns like Prince George where I picked up RT 97 and headed south. Nice scenery, great mountains, fun roads  with twisties and tunnels.  From Williams Lake to Cache Creek the temperatures climbed to over 100 degrees and then when I got closer to Washington it was back in the seventies. After I crossed the border I soon realized I was back in the 48. Litter again!  I made it to around Everett, Washington for the night.

808 miles for the day.

July 31st.

I headed to Seattle and stopped at Moto International. I met Dave Richardson and Aaron Jennings (somehow related to Waylon) They let me work on my bike in the lot. I changed my oil, went to smaller main jets, cleaned and set the points and threw in a new set of plugs. Aaron recommended the NGK spark plug boots to help with the missing I was getting in the rain. The shop cleaned and reoiled my K&N's which were filthy from all the dirt roads. Dave recommended a route through the Cascades so I decided to take him up on it and headed back north  around noon to pick up state rt. 20. It was a great ride and I decided to quit complaining about the rain when I saw a rainbow end right in a valley where you could actually see the bottom of it. Contrary to popular belief, there was no gold or leprechauns! I ended up in Omak, WA. where I had a few too many at a local pub.

A mere 364 miles for the day.

August 1st,

 Lesson 9473: Do not overindulge on a bike trip! It takes all the fun out of the ride the following day. I saw the Grand Coulee Dam which was all right. There are better ones out there. I rode it nice and easy, ended up in Graingeville, Idaho.

Another light day at 386 miles.

August 2nd.

I'm alive again. I took US 95 south to Idaho 55 to a back road from Banks to Lowman. Very nice with whitewater rapids. Rafters all over. Then a wrong turn brought me back towards Boise and then over to US 20 and headed towards Yellowstone. I wasn't very impressed. Yeah, the geysers were cool but the rest was pretty much tourist traps, a bunch of dead burnt trees and a ton of road construction, all for a mere $15. I rolled into Cody some time after 9:00 pm and the restaurants were all closing up so I settled for some poor diner food.

811 miles for the day.

August 3rd.

Off to Belle Fourche, not too far away but rainy. I pulled into Bobby Whitiker's motorcycle campground for the South Dakota Guzzi rally. It wasn't very crowded because it was the first day. good place, Bobby has some garage room so you can work on your bike, even has a few tools for you. Chris, a Guzzi man from Wisconsin, and I hit a pub in town that had free food  because of the bike week thing. We tipped a few and headed back to camp. Ace, from Ace Cycle had his California trailered in so he could ride a Honda Shadow! Actually his clutch went and this couple with the Shadow helped him out.

389 miles for the day.

August 4th,

Ace started the day with a clutch replacement seminar.(only to find out it was stripped driveshaft splines!) I hung around for a while but I was itching to wrap my trip up. I headed up US 212 to Watertown, S.D. to The MotoCycle Shop. I met Brian who was good enough to UPS my tent, bag, and some misc. stuff I wouldn't be needing. It really lightened the bike up.

394 miles for the day.

Aug 5th,

Homeward bound! I dropped down to US 14 and headed towards Rochester where it started to rain a little. I picked up US 52 and went south to Decorah, Iowa to find a blues musician friend but no luck. Over to Madison  then almost to Janesville and that's when I hit the first real storm of my trip. The rain was just blasting, massive down pours. Not a single flutter in the motor with my new spark plug caps! Good rain gear and I stayed dry. I rolled into Wonder Lake, IL. and that was that!

630 miles for the day. 50440 on the clock.

All in all it was a blast. 9790 miles in 15 days on an old ratty T3. I've added 20k to the clock since I bought it in April and have no regrets. The bike has earned my respect as a trustworthy traveling partner.


Copyright 1999-2012, John Boettcher, all rights reserved
Contact John at:  ratguzzi@hotmail.com