June 29, 2015
Peaceful Hills 4
Peaceful Hills 3
June 25, 2015
Bear in the Hood
June 23, 2015
KTM Electrical Issue - Continued...
So, I've been driving the bike now every day since i last charged my battery on Monday 6/8/2015.
I always try changing things to rationalize what's going on with the bike. My latest trick was to run the headlight on low (instead of High), and to always turn off the switch on the handlebars. Every day, it starts right up, and is not an issue. Then, just when I think I've got the world by the tail, I get on the bike yesterday (Monday morning 6/22/15), and hit the starter, and it goes "click" and we're done.
So, I figure that, after 2 weeks, the battery is just dead again. Take the truck into work. Come home, pull the motorcycle battery, put it on the trickle charger Monday after work. The battery charger shows "Yellow" light, then changes to "green" by morning. Put the battery back on the bike, get all set up to ride, push the button, and "click". Everything dies.
So, this really throws me. I've convinced myself that recharging the battery solves my issues, and now the battery won't start the bike.
I do notice also, for the first time really, that once I try to start the bike, and get the dreaded "click" sound, the bike is basically shut down. Nothing will work. Not the headlight. Not the instrument cluster. Not the starter. Not the horn. Nothing.
So, this is an interesting observation. It's like there's some sort of relay that's getting thrown. Unhooking the battery leads solves the problem. It "resets" the relay/switch so that the headlight works again, etc.
At this point, I'm thoroughly confused as to what the problem is, but I pulled the battery and put it back on the trickle charger when I got home from work to day. It showed "Yellow" as opposed to "Green", so, it does appear as though the battery is not fully charged, somehow.
I'll try to charge the battery again tonight and try to start the bike again in the morning. Sigh.
June 17, 2015
The Flooding of Bear Creek
The Flooding of Bear Creek
In May, the snow changed to rain and the rain would not stop. It rained exactly the way that it never does in the mountains. Steadily. Condinuously.
It washed the pollen off of the trees. Made the grass grow tall and green as there was no chance to mow it.
It soaked the gardens so that they could not be plowed, and anyone that chose to plow their garden was rewarded with a unplantable soupy mess.
The raging water could only go downhill, and downhill it went, taking out driveways and homemade bridges along the way.
In tight canyons, it erased the shoulders from the roads. In the mornings, men from the county came in trucks and marked the damage with bright orange cones.
The creeks gnawed and the road's shoulder until the road split and started to fall into the raging waters.
The county would move boulders in to shore up the shoulder as best the could, and move on.
The Cordilleran Flycatchers, tired from the long flight from Central America, shivered under wet feathers, leaning into the very souls of the trees.
But we know that we must ride. So in the breaks between the deluges, I go out on my motorcycle, hoping to find a new trail or a new animal to shoot.
When you're on a bike, every motorccylist is a long-lost friend you've never met.
They're adrenaline junkies also. Thrill-seeking junkies, the same as you, only you've never met them.
Every bike I pass waves and now, baby elk with spots are crossing Bear Creek to an island in Evergreen Lake. Looks like a Disney movie unfolding in slow motion before your eyes.
Pull over, stop. Shut down the bike. Now shooting baby elk, nursing, standing in the stream. Surreal. Hard to believe that we live here. So glad to be alive.
I'm shooting a 400mm lens, but the guy beside me has a 500mm lens on a tripod. He thinks he's cooler than me, but he doesn't know who I am.
I turn to him...a total stranger...and say this - "Did you see that mountain lion video?"
"Yes. That was crazy."
"I made that. That's my video," I tell the stranger.
"Dude....that was insane. Never seen anything like it."
"Who sent it to you?"
"A frind of mine in the Division of Wildlife. He's a photographer also."
"That was in my neighbor's yard," I explain.
I'm something of a celebrity, albeit, not well known. People know my work.
I get my shots, and as I'm leaving the lake it starts to rain. Again.
Now, as I'm driving on Colorado 73 south out of evergreen, I see a woman walking down the road in the rain wearing nothing but a tiny pair of shorts and top that doesn't cover much.
I'm the world's worst at picking up chicks, but I think about this..."Dude...there's a chick walking in the rain. Pick her up. There's no way she'll turn you down."
So I loop back in the rain.
"You need a ride?" I ask her. She looks at me like a savior and starts to jump on, the way a dog starts to jump out of the truck before you can even get the tail-gate down.
"Hang on. Hang on...Easy there darling..."
I roll the bike forward and down into the ditch some so that she can get her leg up to the level of the seat.
She slides into the seat behind me and now, we're rolling north in the rain.
I'd give her my helmet, as there's no helmet law in Colorado, but it's raining so hard that, without the visor, I don't think I'd be able to see.
"Where we going to, buttercup?" I ask her over my shoulder.
"Brook Forest Road....You know where that is?"
I just nod and open the throttle a little.
Brook Forest Road is where all of the no-income people live in the mountains. It's the ghettos of the mountains. And the poorer they are, the further up Brook Forest they live.
Initially, when I picked her up, I thought she was a Lake Evergreeen housewife, caught out in the monsoons of summer.
Five miles up Brook Forest, I realize that I've picked up what is essentially, a vagrant, at best.
Eventually, it stops raining and now we can sort of talk, as we wind up Brook Forest canyon.
"Were you planning on walking all the way up here?" I ask, incredulously.
"No...I've been hitchhiking once I get out of town..."
I try to think if I've ever seen anyone hitchhiking up here...can't say that I have.
"You don't have a car?" I shout over my shoulder.
"I have a truck, but it's being fixed."
In the curves, she feels like she hasn't ridden on a bike much. You need your passenger to lean with you, but she seems reluctant to commit in the curves. Only in the final seconds of despair does she follow my lead and lean into the turn.
She doesn't weigh a hundred pounds dripping wet, but I still need her to lean or we can't turn.
"Turn right past the Brook Forest Inn," she calls out.
"Watch out!" she sings into my ear as we go into a hairpin.
"What's up?" I ask.
Sure enough, around the next switchback, a couple of mule deer lingering on the shoulder.
How nice is it to have another set of eyes watching out for you?
Eventually, we roll up to her house.
Basically, a collapsing graveyard of vehicles and refuse.
"You wanna come in and smoke a bowl?" she asks.
I think about that for a minute.
"I would come in and drink a beer if you have one..." I counter.
"I'll pour you a glass of wine?"
Now, I'm walking into this little shanty. Inside, clutter like you've never seen, so that there's just a little path through the house where you can sort of walk.
The couch has a clear space about 30" wide, and I sit down.
She continues on down the trail into the kitchen, pours two glasses of red wine, and returns.
I try to make room for her on the couch beside me, but she hands me my wine, and sits in a chair perpendicular to me, the only other place where a human could sit down.
The wall facing me is covered with hand-written motivational/inspirational sayings torn off and taped to the wall.
"You Can Do It!"
and things like this. The wall is covered with them.
A cat comes in from outside to beg for food.
"So...where is your truck?" I ask suspiciously.
"It's being fixed. They're putting a bed on it..." she offers, apologetically.
"Where were you coming from when I picked you up?" I ask.
"I'm a bartender at Cactus Jacks....I've been hitchhiking to and from work since my truck isn't running..."
"This is good wine. Thank you."
"I used to work at The Little Bear..."
"Did Willie Nelson really used to come in there and set up and play?" I ask her. I've heard this story, but never known for sure if it was true.
"Yeah...he was good friend with the owners Judy Gerinomous. So he did used to play there all the time. Then, the one owner was having an affair with the bartender, so his wife made him sign the Little Bear over to her...but yeah...Willie Nelson was good friends with the owner..."
"And his daughter went to Evergreen High and drove a Blue Maserati?" I clarify. Like, it's hard to find people that can confirm these rumors. Somehow I'm finally getting the inside scoop.
"He had two daughters...they both went to Evergreen" she offers.
"Did you see my mountain lion video?" I ask her, out of the blue. It seems hard to imagine that she would have. It's hard to imagine her doing anything, really.
She stands up, walks across the room somehow, kicking cats out of the way, and opens up a laptop. I would have lost money on that.
Go to YouTube and searh for "The Lions of Peaceful Hills", and now she's watching my mountain lion video.
She's impressed, but not overly so, and returns to collapse in the clutter of her living room.
"Is that a pool table?" I ask, looking into the next room. It looks like a pool table stumbled and fell beneath the clutter many years ago.
"That's my bed," she replies.
I try not to think about that.
"Are you from around here?"
"I grew up down the hill, but I've been up here in Evergreen for a while now. I used to follow the Dead..."
"OK. I think I'm going to clear out. Many thanks for the wine."
"Thanks for the ride. Come by and see me at Cactus Jack's and I'll buy you a beer," she offers.
But that was some day...the other day...Saturday or Sunday, I think.
Today is Wednesday...
Today, I'm driving into work on my motorcycle and, the problem with a riding a motorcycle is that it's just too easy. That's the real problem. The bike is just insane. It's almost like it's not even there. I find myself going into a curve, riding with one hand, going twice the speed limit. And the bike is so forgiving, that it lets you get away with shit like this.
And, after a while, you become convinced that you know what you're doing and that you could never go down. That it's not really a possibility.
And every day, you get a little less patient with the traffic, and you're pushing the envelope more and more every day.
This morning, I'm rolling up C470 from 285 to Morrison and I always sort of get in the right-turn-lane only and then just blow through it, ignoring th fact that I'm supposed to turn.
Only today, there's another car and, to get in front of him, I have to really open the throttle so that, for a while, I'm going down the shoulder at 87 mph. Like, you'd think that's not true, and that no sane person would do that, but I swear to God that's what I did. I passed a guy on the shoulder going 90 mph.
Next thing I know, I'm seeing red and blue flashing lights in my one rear-view mirror. The one that I had welded on on the Alaska Highway last summer.
Red and blue lights and there's a cop coming up on me fast in the passing lane with his lights rolling and I think "Maybe he's not after me."
That's seriously what I'm thinking. Like...how fucking stupid can one human be? To pass someone on the shoulder at 90 mph and then think the cop is after someone else.
The Jefferson County Sheriff drops in behind me and I pull over immediately and shut it down. Like...I dont run anymore. I'm not that stupid. I gave that up.
Cop comes up to me and says "The reason I pulled you over back there was because you were in a right-turn only lane and ignored law by not turning," he says. He said some other stuff also, but he didn't say anything about going 90 mph down the shoulder, and he didn't grab me by the throad and choke me out or anything. He was actually very polite and professional, and much calmer than I would have expected.
"I need to see your driver's license, proof of insurance, and registration...." he explains.
I crack open my wallet, and start searching for these items. It's tough because, I was just stopped 2 -3 weeks ago up in Gilpin County, and I remember that one of my documents was nearly expired then. Either my Insurance or my Registration. Now, a few weeks down the road, I'm sure that all of my documents aren't valid.
I'm shaking...nervours...digging through my wallet. It's full of speeding tickets, court summons, parking violations....and a few pieces of paper for the various vehicles I have rusting away at home.
I hand him the insurance and registration papers, proud to have identified them amongst the clutter.
He returns to his Jefferson County Deputy vehicle, and leaves me to sit on the bike and chew on my cuticles.
I don't think that he's taking me to jail because I don't think there are any current warrants for my arrest. Basically, what will happen, as best as I can tell, is I'll get some tickets, depending on how pissed he is.
But now, I have a cell phone to play with., so I sit on my bike and surf the internet, while I wait for him to call in all of my information.
I'm not going to get upset that he stopped me. I'm getting a ticket, but I control how I react to the situation. I'm in control of my responses. I'm not going to get upset. It is what it is. I need to slow down and be more careful. That is all.
Eventually, he returns, and he doesn't mention the fact that I have a criminal record that would make Ted Bundy blush. Doesn't mention that one of the documents is clearly expired.
"I could have written you tickets all day long for your violations back there," he offers. "But I just wrote you one ticket for illegal lane usage," he explains. "You can take care of it by mail," he continues.
"I'm sorry man. I was just in a hurry to get to work. I'll slow down." I apologize. He's really nice.
"Man...we don't want to see anything happen to you. You need to be more careful."
And he's right, of course.
I'm not clear that I'm making any money on this project. Every day, I'm getting tickets from red-light cameras, and vans parked on 14th Street. They take pictures from the shoulder as I speed through the city.
I'm probably breaking even, at best.
And I seldom see Jennifer, these days.
Like, you try to think about what it means to be here. To not be on the road. I've been on the road for a long time. Forever, really, if I'm honest with myself.
It's so weird to be working in my home town, Denver. Every day, I drive into work and Mitch and I go running in our neighborhood.
It's so strange to discover the city of Denver, when I've been spending my life in other cities. So odd to finally come back home to roost.
I quit shaving, and the girls at work asked me this, "Are you growing a beard?"
Like that question even makes any sense? The beard is always growing. Only I stopped shaving. That's all you need to know. And also, I quit bathing, but who's counting?
I shower in the men's locker room at work, after Mitch and I go for a run.
Am I growing a beard. No, woman. The beard is growing. All I did was stop shaving.
She clearly didn't approve. Jennifer has a stroke every time she sees me. "Dad...seriously...you have to shave."
But I'm not quite ready for that I think.
June 14, 2015
June 12, 2015
Tracking the local rainfall
So, I've been wanting to know how much rainfall we're getting here in the mountains. My guess is that we've gotten about 50" rain so far this year.
You don't hear anything about it on the news, so my assumption is that it doesn't match their agenda.
I found this website, which is nice:
Then, if you go to "View Data" and "List Stations", you get this:
Now, put in your State and County and hit 'Search'. For me, I think the closest stations are:
CO-JF-24 Conifer 4.2 ENE
CO-JF-32 Conifer 3 E
CO-JF-41 Conifer 2 SSE
CO-JF-50 Evergreen 1.2 NNW
Now, click on 'Station Precipitation Summary'. Enter the Station ID, Start Date, End Date, and click Get Summary. So, I put it CO-JF-50 and put in 1/1/2015 - 6/1/2015 and it shows 0.00" so far this year. Great. Ditto for CO-JF-32 and CO-JF-41.
The only one that reports any precipitation at all is CO-JF-24 Conifer 4.2 ENE. It reports 18.61" so far this year, which is absurd. We've had at least 3X that much rain.
June 10, 2015
Any Speed Is Fine
Any Speed Is Fine: The Gilpin County Justice Center
So, a few weeks ago, I'm driving around the backroads north of Central City, and I come this guy on a Ducati street bike. Now, we're on dirt roads, and I'm just sort of rediscovering a bunch of back roads I used to know like the back of my hand. And this guy on a street bike looks out of place. Like, he's doing fine, but he's riding alone, and his bike clearly wasn't designed for this type of riding.
But right away, I like the guy. He's riding alone, and he's way out of his comfort zone, but he's making it. And when he comes to a stop sign, I roll up beside him and say, "Hey....you're doing a fine job considering that you're on a street bike!"
Like, we both know the bike he's on wasn't made for this. And he and I are laughing.
"Which way is 'Oh My God Road'?" he asks.
"Oh, it's back there. It comes out in Black Hawk. The signs say Virginia Canyon Road, but the locals all know it as 'Oh My God Road'.
"Where are you heading?" He asks.
"Well, I'm going to go up 119, the Peak-to-Peak Highway, up to Rollinsville, and then up to the Moffatt Tunnel," I offer.
"OK. Is it alright if I ride with you?" he asks.
"Sure, man. How long have you had that bike?" I ask. Like, I don't really know how much experience he has on a motorcycle. I've been riding for 30 years, but you need to know how much experience the other people you're riding with have when you're planning your ride.
"I just got this bike," he offers. "I haven't ridden it much."
"OK. Fair enough. Follow me."
And we're off.
It's all dirt roads until we get to Highway 119, and then I stop and wait for him to catch up.
"How fast do you want to go now?" I ask him. He seemed to be having trouble on the dirt roads, but it is clearly a street bike, to be fair.
Like, we've been sort of holding back, being very careful on this dirt road, but now that we're on hard-top, I thinking that we might could drive a little faster. Maybe faster than the speed limit even, if need be.
"Oh...any speed is fine," he replies.
This is sort of unexpected. I think about that. What it means. I'm not really sure how long he's been riding. Only that the bike is new. But I don't know if this is his first motorcycle, or his 10th bike.
So we take off, heading north on 119.
Any time we come up behind someone, I just pass them. I don't really pay any attention to the paint on the road. Sometimes it's marked for passing. Sometimes it's a double-yellow. But I just blow by them and the Ducati stays right with me.
Eventually, I realize, that he's at least as stupid as I am, and we roll north along the Peak-to-Peak highway, pretty much terrorizing the mountains, passing at every opportunity, and basically ignoring the speed-limit in a Mad Max type of scenario.
At Rollinsville, I pull over and we go into a store to get a drink. I'm dying of thirst, and it gives us a chance to sit down and talk.
"Where you're from, Sean?" I ask.
"Wisconsin," he replies.
"I'm guessing this isn't your first bike?"
"Nah. I've had lot's of motorcycles..."
"Where is that from....Ducati? Is that from Italy?"
"Yeah. That's where they're made...."
So, we sit at the bar and I drink a Diet Coke to rehydrate. I've been trying to drive up to the Moffatt Tunnel for as long as I can remember, but I never make it due to rain, snow, etc.
Today, it looks like there's a chance we could actually make it.
I pay for our drinks and we clear out, heading up towards the Moffatt Tunnel. As soon as we hit the road, I realize it's a dirt road. Somehow, I'd forgotten that aspect of it. It's been so long since I've been up here, I totally spaced that it was a dirt road. I feel bad for making him drive the Ducati down yet another unpaved surface.
But now, we're winding up this dirt road, through a beautiful valley, with a turn-of-the-century school house. I look at it closely. Convince myself that it's been repainted. But we keep rolling up towards the continental divide.
At the tunnel, we stop briefly and talk for a bit.
"Pretty nice ride up here, huh?" I ask. Like...we're at the continental divde, basically. I've been trying to drive up here all year. The scenery is stunning. And now, we're at the Moffatt Tunnel.
"Winter Park is just on the other side of that tunnel," I explain. "But we can't get there from here...."
So, we're left, at sort of a dead-end, not sure where to go next. There's nothing to do but turn back, really, but instead, I drive my bike between two boulders, through a path we're clearly not supposed to take, and roll right up to the very mouth of the Moffatt Tunnel.
There's a couple of signs there, saying when it was built and everything. We take a few shots, climb on our bikes, and start rolling back down towards Rollinsville.
On the way back, I point out the dirt road that connects up to the trail network above St Mary's Glacier.
I'm so glad to have a new friend to ride with. So nice to be out riding when, for once, it's not raining or snowing or hailing.
And now, we come around a curve on this dirt road and here comes the Sheriff of Gilpin County. He sees us and immediately stops and turns around.
We could easily have outrun him, but I don't run from the police any more, so we both stop and presently the Sheriff's deputy comes back with this lights rolling and stops me. Sean turns around and comes back to join the party.
"Were you just up there at the tunnel," he wants to know.
Sean looks at me and I look at him and I feel bad. Like, I want to say, "Dude...I should have warned you. I'm like a police-magnate. You really shouldn't hang out with me. I'm an albatross."
It was my idea to go up to the Moffatt Tunnel. My idea to drive right up to the very edge of the tunnel. And now, I've got Officer Dickhead royally pissed off at us. I feel like I'm 16 again.
"My lawyer told me not to talk to police," I offer.
"Were you taking any pictures up there with your cell phones?" He asks.
I'm in a wide-spread panic-mode now, because Sean and I were both snapping photos like crazy with our phones.
But Sean is trying to be honest. To do the right thing.
"I was up there," he offers. "I walked up to the tunnel," he continues.
The pig is fit to be tied, though.
He asks for our drivers' licenses. I'm surprised he doesn't ask for insurance and registration, because I'm reasonably sure that's all expired.
He takes our licenses and goes back to his truck.
"Dude....delete all of your pics on your phone..." I whisper. I delete all of the photos of our bikes at the Moffatt Tunnel. He does the same.
After a while, he returns.
"They have pictures of you. When we get the pictures, we're going to charge you with Criminal Trespass, and then, we'll issue you a summons. And if you don't show up for the summons, I'll issue a warrant for your arrest."
I leave first, then wait for Sean in Coal Creek Canyon. When he comes by, we catch up on what happened.
I feel bad for not telling him that I'm a police magnate. For not explaining that no one with any sense would ever ride with me. That I have poor impulse control and a criminal record that would make Charles Manson blush.
We ride together through Coal Creek Canyon, and split up at Highway 93.
For the next two weeks, Sean and I stay in touch via text messages. This Deputy Sheriff of Gilpin County keeps calling us and threating that we need to come meet with him so that he can issue us with a summons, or he's going to issue a bench-warrant for our arrest.
I put it off as long as possible, but I stay in touch with Sean, and then today, he tells me he's going up there to Gilpin County to meet with someone who's supposed to issue him a summons.
Like...I've been avoiding this for the last 2 weeks or so....dreading dealing with this issue. I'm a horrible procrastinator, but I know that, if I don't deal with this issue, they'll issue a warrant for my arrest, and I hate going to jail. It's not fun.
Today, I drive into work on my KTM, and every cop I pass, I'm looking over my shoulder, sure that there's a warrant for my arrest. Praying I don't get stopped.
At work, I text Sean. He's going to meet with them today.
This is tough for me. I'm not sure who I'm supposed to meet with. Or where. It seems to make sense to sort of follow Sean up there. Even though I'm reasonably sure that they'll toss us in jail once we get there.
Sean and I meet up in Golden.
"How do you want to go?" I ask. Like, I'd much rather go up Clear Creek Canyon or Golden Gate Canyon than go up I-70. I'm convinced that we're both about to be incarcerated in the gulag of Gilpin County, so a slow scenic drive through the mountains seems like the best way to go.
So pretty soon, we're winding slowly up Clear Creek Canyon, a stunning ride with cliffs and sheer mountains dropping down into Clear Creek. At the Peak-to-Peak Highway, we turn right, and enter into Gilpin County, the 2nd smallest county in Colorado.
Now, we're rolling slowly north on Highway 119. At this point, I drop back and follow Sean because I have no clue where we're going. "5 miles north of Black Hawk" is all I know, really.
So we roll north through Black Hawk.
I hate the police. I hate jail. I hate authority. I hate everything about this trip, but I don't really see any way out. I have to deal with this situation. I have to walk in there, and deal with whatever happens.
Like, I spend all of this time trying to blame the police, and rationalize how they're wrong, and everything. But the truth is that I knew what I was doing was wrong. Why can't I just obey the law? Why do I have to continually thumb my nose at the authorities? Why can't I just obey the law like a normal person? Why not just admit what I did was wrong and accept my punishment?
All of this goes through my head, and now we're turning right at a sign that says "Gilpin County Justice Center."
"Justice Center. What a racket," I think.
Like, if there was any justice in this world, we wouldn't be here. But we are here. My new buddy Sean and I.
I'm wondering what the "Justice Center" will look like. Ahead, I see a small abandoned farm house. "Could that be it?" I wonder.
But no. We turn right, and now we see the "Justice Center". Some huge sprawling multi-million dollar complex. That's why they summoned us here. To pay for this fucking building.
We park our bikes, and start to walk into the Justice Center. But there's a metal detector, and for some reason, Sean has a knife on him. Like, his judgement is even worse than mine, if that's possible.
So we go back out to our bikes and off-load everything. Jacket, gloves, helmet....I empty my pockets. So that the only thing I have on my is my wallet, and then we try to enter the building again.
"You know they're going to throw us in jail, right?" I ask Sean. "There's no way we're getting out of here. You know that, right?"
"Nah. I think that they're just going to have us sign the summons. I think we're OK." He replies.
Like, I hate the police. I don't trust them at all. I have no delusions that they'll let us out. But, I also feel like I have to get this behind me, come hell or high water.
Now, they turn us around and make us walk around to the back of the building. So now, we're at the back entrance. We walk in and explain to a woman encases in bomb-proof plexi-glass that we're here to meet with officer Douchebag to get our summons.
Only now, something is not quite right. Officer Douchebag can't talk to us for some reason. The whole place is on lockdown.
Now, a one-legged meth-addict comes and sits with us at the table.
"Do you know what's going on?" she asks me.
"Some guy was killed here in the jail this morning. The crime scene van just left," she offers.
Why does this happen to me? Last time I was up here, they found a woman with no head and no hands. Now, there's been a murder and officer Douchebag can't meet with us. Great.
She's hitting on me, this one-legged meth-addict, but I can't help her. She introduces hereself.
"I just got out this morning. They arrested me at my house. Just a bunch of bull-shit..." she's blabbering. I look at her. The poster-child for Faces of Meth. One good leg. One fake leg. Short pants.
"I'm trying to get my old man out now. I paid online, but they won't release him for some reason. My name's Cindy..." she offers.
I look at Sean. After we've waited for about an hour, we get up to leave. Like, there's no point in waiting any longer. It's not going to happen. We've talked to the lady behind the plexi-glass several times. No one has ever come out to help us. So we walk out into the rain and start walking around the building.
Just then, a young officer comes out and meets us.
"Do you just need a summons issued? I can do that..." he offers.
I'm ecstatic. Like...dude....Please....just let us sign the papers and get on with our lives.
Now, we're seated back inside the Justice Center, and he's asking for our Driver's Licenses, Insurance, and Registration.
This is tough because, I don't really keep up with that, or anything else, very well.
Sean hands his over promptly. I sort of feverishly root through my wallet, unsure what I'll find. I own more vehicles than anyone you've ever met, so there's lots of paper in the wallet. DUKW. M37. Honda. KTM. XR. XL.
I find some paperwork that appears to be for the current year, and just hand it to him.
I don't know what the penalty is for the crime. 10 years in the gulag? A $10,000.00 fine? I just have no clue.
"Omaha saw everything. They have pictures of you up there," he offers.
"Omaha? What's Omaha?" I ask, thinking it's some super-secret spy operation.
"They watch that tunnel remotely on CCTV from Omaha," he continues. "They have color photos of you two up there. It looks exactly like the bikes you rode today in the parking lot," he offers.
But eventually, he lets us sign a piece of paper and allows us to leave. So, they didn't throw us in jail.
We ride home in a driving rain, dodging deer and elk. At every tunnel we pass through, we give a thumbs up because it's so nice to be out of the rain, even for 100 yards or so. When we part ways, Sean fist-bumps me and I wonder what will happen we make it to court in August.
June 8, 2015
KTM Electrical Issue
So, I'm reasonably sure now that my battery is not getting charged.
My last trick was to try using the kill switch on the right handle-bars, thinking that that would stop it from leaking electricity as it sat idle.
If I drive it every day, the alternator should be able to keep the battery charged up. But instead, on Friday, when I tried to start it, I got nothing. So, I put it on the trickle-charger and charged it up. Reinstalled the battery this morning (Monday 6/8/2015). I've started the bike 4 times today so far. Now, I'm going to go for a ride. I'll try to keep track of how many days/ how many times I start the bike before it fails on me again.
KTM = Keep Throwing Money.
Went for a ride today...tried to make it up to Chinn's Lake, but it's still snowed in. I started the bike 5 more times, so I'd say I started it for a total for 9 times today. Drove roughly 160 miles today.
Tuesday 6/9/15 - Today, I started the bike approximately 8 times. After work, I picked up some Asics Gels and a GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition. Then, stopped and talked to Ron Lewis and shot some pics of the baby elk and baby buffaloe. Then, I drove up to Rainbow Road off Fall River Road and then turned around and came back.
Wednesday 6/10/15 - Today, I started the bike countless times. I would guess about....10 times.
June 5, 2015
The Dalton Highway is a 450 mile un-improved road that runs roughly from Fairbanks, Alaska to the Arctic Ocean. It was built when the Alaska Pipeline was contstructed, so it loosely follows the Alaska Pipeline from central Alaska, up and across the Brooks Range, and then down to the shores of of the Arctic Ocean.
To call it a "road" at all is being generous. Although some short sections are paved, it is a mostly a narrow, dirt road. 18 wheelers race up and down the road, ignoring the 50 mph posted speed limit, and mostly just driving down the center.
When it's dry, the road is dusty and every 18 wheeler that passes blasts the hapless motorcycle rider with a shower of dust and rocks.
When it's wet, the road deteriorates into a soupy gumbo quagmire, that's taken down countless riders.
I know this now, because I've driven the road from one end to the other. And back. To hell and back again.
I know people that have gone down on this road. Flown back east to recover, and then flow back out three months later to continue the voyage. I don't look down on people for this. It's a very rough road to drive on. There are no cars at all. The only car I saw anywhere near the Dalton was upside down on the side of the road.
To have crashed on the Dalton is no shame. The road is so dangerous that the police are afraid to patrol it.
In the morning, we awake in Deadhorse Alaska. We sleep in little modular construction hotel that's hard to describe. Impossible to imagine.
Last night, it never got dark. You have to close the blinds or you'll never sleep. Now, we meet for breakfast in a small dining room with other adrenaline junkies we have met on the road.
All of these people come here, as far north as one can drive. To the outter boundaries of the earth. But why? Why do they come here?
That's what the shuttle driver asked me yesterday when he drove us through the BP checkpoint to the Arctic Ocean.
"Why did you come here?" He asked.
"Because I can." I replied.
Like, the first thing that I wanted to make abosultely clear is "Because I'm not driving a shuttle bus full of psychopaths at the North Pole," right? Like...let's make sure that this much is clear. I'm not a shuttle bus driver, so I can go wherever in the holy fuck I want to. Let's start with that.
But in all fairness, it was an innocent enough question. I don't think that he was being eruide or bold. I think he honestly wanted to know why, out of all of the places that we could have gone...why choose to come here? To the barren tundra on the shores of the Arctic Ocean.
And that's a pretty deep question for a shuttle bus driver to be asking. Like, I'm not laying on some shrink's couch fielding these questions....I'm shooting reindeer on the Arctic Tundra with a 600mm lens. I wasn't really expecting this.
But if I have to honestly answer the question, I'm here because life is short and we only go around once. I'm here because I got so sick of work that I quit in the middle of the night almost exactly a year ago today.
I sent them an email and told them all that they could go fuck themselves. That I quit. And then I went down to Colorado Springs, through all of my shit into my truck and left town, never to return.
Somehow, I'd decided that I needed to drive to the Arctic Circle. I think that we'd been watching a reality show about Alaska, and then I saw a photo of some people standing in front of a sign that said Arctic Circle, and I sort of decided that, if I could ever get out of this nightmare at work, that I'd roll north and get my picture taken in front of that sign.
And then, when I got to the sign, the closest place to spend the night is in Coldfoot, Alaska. And, if you're in Coldfoot, you may as well go on into Deadhorse.