Skip to main content

Third Person Memory

Apparently I’m not the only person in the world who uses the internet – today I got to enjoy the slightly bizarre experience of reading about myself as written by others who encountered me on my long scooter ride. I thought I’d share these on my blog and relive my own memories a bit.

I met AJ, Jeff and Jim on the Taylor Highway (their bikes are in this shot) and shared lunch with them before they headed out – their parting “Maybe we’ll see you on the road” met with my “You better hope not, because that would mean you have major problems!”  A couple hours later I pulled over to see them at a turn-out and we shared a beer…  a flat tire had held them up, sure enough.  Later that evening I caught up with them in Tok just as they were finishing dinner.

I was really impressed by the fact that they had just hopped on some bikes and headed up there for a three day weekend, legitimate weekend adventuring in a way I’ve never been able to pull off (I’m too much of an all-or-nothing guy). I also thought it was hilarious that every trip they travel under assumed names with fake backstories.

AJ’s ride report from that trip is here, below you can find some pictures of me and his dialogue describing the encounter:

When time came to start the convoy we were invited by the road crew to ride up to the front. One would be toast riding behind cagers in these dusty conditions and heat. Thanks guys!

In front was a bearded guy on a.... scooter!!! Blubber... that looks suspiciously like ... could it be? Osama, is that you?? We were told you're hiding in the Afghan/Pakistan Tora Bora mountain regions. They got it all wrong!! He's right here in mountains of the Alaskan US of A in cognito as a die hard adventurer.


Of course I asked him if I could take his picture. I figured that I could finance my adventure lust for days to come with the rewards I would strike up and have free beer for life. Huhyeah!

Well, at Chicken he took off his helmet. Turned out it was only Pete Waterman from Washington who traveled 7000 miles on a scooter for charity. Check out his charity project site here:

Later we caught up with Pete again after he overtook us on his scooter and we had a beer together.

Arriving in Tok, we got the picture. Tok it would be for the night.... its all good! Valdez nor Fairbanks were viable options at this point. Had pizza at Fast Eddy and later Pete delighted us again with his company when he arrived at the establishment.

Later, coming back down from Deadhorse, I met Ben & Matty at the Yukon River Camp. We had quite a long conversation about their trip, an extended ride from Seattle to AK then down to Tierra del Fuego – definitely the long way round, especially considering both were a bit out of practice on motorcycles. That takes some serious brass, just up and deciding to do something like that without much experience. One of them had a nice pack stolen off his bike in the parking lot at the REI flagship store in Seattle, a little heads up that caused me to avoid going there when I was passing by later.

They are still making their way down south and it was cool to finally check out their blog and see how they are doing today. I also found a picture of me and more hilarious commentary:

Our fifth day on the Dalton dawned sunny and warm, a small kick in that pants from the weather gods as we saw the best weather of the entire ride after we’d already made in pretty well out of the bad roads, so we made use of the morning and were on the road before the weather had the chance to change on us. It was only a short while into the ride when we met our second crazy rider at Yukon River Camp.

DSC_4470I had notice him a few days before when we passed him on the road. Coming towards us his bike seemed rather small, squat would be the best way to describe it, and the rider seemed cramped up on the handlebars as if he was crushed into his seat by all of his baggage. Then, before I could get a real glimpse we had shot by one another and all I could tell was that something truly odd was going on with his bike. It appeared that his feet were over the handlebars.

After we had finished with our quick stop at Yukon River Camp I walked outside and there it was, his bike, or more appropriately, his scooter. We immediately went back inside to try and figure out who was riding it, and why. He was a grizzled but smiling man, maybe 30, maybe less, and he told us that he had chosen the scooter specifically because of the Dalton Highway, figuring that the low center of mass and light weight would make it less prone to the purportedly horrendous conditions. All the way from Washington DC he had ridden, never breaking 45mph, just so his 100ccs of “pure power” could make the Dalton a little easier. Or, as I’m guessing, that’s more of a cover story for his wish to be the craziest of the crazy up this way.

We all exchanged stories, us gathering information about South America (he has ridden all over there before), and he even asked us to sign his bike. It was an odd contraption under the circumstances: just a regular little scooter, 90% plastic, but it was kitted out with a gigantic dry bag in front, two fuel cans on the back, and a carved wood stick tied across the front as a footrest (he told us that he found it on the side of the road, as is, and it was simply too perfect for the job to not become a part of the bike). In theory it sounded like a good idea to have a light bike on mud roads, but personally I would never be seen dead up here without a full-sized wheel to work through the ruts and keep the bike going straight. But then again, everyone has their own tastes, and his certainly are entertaining for the rest of us. If you feel like supporting him, I believe that he’s raising money for Brain Tumour research which, if nothing else, makes his odyssey worthwhile.

Of course I met a lot of other cool people along the way, from the Wild Spoke guys to the Viagg in Vespa Italians, the camp with Martin, and countless more. Next time I need to take a notebook to write everything down in so I can remember to look everyone up!


Popular posts from this blog

Patagonia Beckons

Today I begin what may become one of the most difficult tests of long term mental and physical endurance and strength I have ever undertaken: for most of its remaining 2500km through Patagonia, Ruta 40 is considered one of the most desolate highways in the world. Over half of the remaining road is gravel, sand, and dirt. The number of towns listed on a map once I pass Perito Moreno can be counted on one hand, and there are many stretches of hundreds of miles without provisions, fuel, or places to stay.

Gear Review: Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sacks

In the past couple months on the road I think I’ve spent more time riding my scooter through rain than I have in the dry – this is clearly reflected in the fact that as time has gone by I’ve invested more and more money in things to keep my stuff dry, since wet gear sucks. One of my favorite purchases for this trip is the pair of Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sacks I picked up just before leaving, in 13L and 20L sizes. They cost me around $20 each and are one of the best pieces of gear I’ve purchased in years – extremely durable, effective, and simple to use.

5 Things that Suck about Traveling Solo

I find it telling that it seems a majority of the interesting travel blogs I run across are written by solo travelers, most often women. I think there’s a reason why we write more than people who travel with friends or in groups and that it’s pretty self evident: it’s an outlet for our loneliness. In the last year and a half, the vast majority of my time has been spent away from home, alone. As I write this, it’s been over a month since I’ve conversed with anyone in my native language, and I can remember every single conversation in English for the month before that. The truth is, I don’t think I could have done this without the internet – without a blog to share my thoughts, without Facebook to see what my friends are up to, without the occasional e-mail to provide a façade of normalcy… without these things I’d likely have driven myself insane with my internal dialogue. Now, I grant, there’s a reason I travel alone and I do love it, but lately it seems all I run across in the blogosp