Arctic Journey

Title: Highway to Health Part 2. Image of road from a motorcycle on a winding road leading to a brown mountain with white snow-capped peaks

Continued from No Matter What Part 1

With approval from the cafeteria worker who had wheeled my low-fat lunch into my hospital suite, I left New Hampshire for Alaska one day after being discharged and just three days after having a couple of stents inserted into my heart. Have I told you that I’m on a mission to ride a million miles, and I just don’t have any time to waste?

I rode to Lake George, New York, where I presented two seminars at the Americade motorcycle rally. I left New York for a five-day ride to Anchorage and the start of my three-week speaking tour out west, sharing my story with others who live with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The first two days of the trip were fairly boring until I reached British Columbia and the Yukon. The towns began to shrink in size and became few and far between, but the wildlife got bigger and more numerous. Deer, bison, moose, bears and coyotes were everywhere!

Accommodations became more interesting the farther north I traveled. In British Columbia, I spent a night at the so-called “famous” Fort Nelson Hotel where I was the only guest, and another at a place in the Yukon called Beaver Creek RV Park & Motel. I was a welcomed stranger to the locals, a lone explorer from a distant land. Daylight was extending each day by a few hours, and by my fifth day on the road, the 20 hours of light made it easy to keep riding. The roads, however, were rough and brutal on the bike’s tires and suspension, but I just kept pounding down the hours and miles. It was a great example of the therapeutic use of riding, for all my issues and problems quickly faded behind me. I was certainly getting a good dose of MotoMedicine on this trip.

Top-left: Rainbow flowing to the green trees with a backdrop of gray clouds and dark mountain peaks in the distance. Bottom-left: Paul's lonely bike sitting on the road. Right-Image: Paul making a  crooked face stands in front of a sign that says Jackass Trail.I found it a bit weird having to present my passport to visit the 49th state, Alaska. I made great time to Anchorage despite the frequent road construction delays. “We have two seasons here, winter and construction,” informed the chatty flagger as I waited 30 minutes for the lead truck to return and guide me and the twenty vehicles behind me over a 10-mile stretch of loose gravel and sand. This scene would repeat itself a dozen times before reaching Anchorage.

I arrived on time for a morning appointment I had at Anchorage Yamaha to have a set of Bridgestone tires installed and an oil change. At 83,000 miles, this was the very first time my YAMAHA had been to any dealer for ANYTHING!

My smart phone’s camera had stopped working again, but thankfully Anchorage had an Apple store downtown that was able to swap me out a whole new phone. My phone pictures had been all selfies since Fort Nelson. I always carry a point and shoot camera, so most of the trip was shot with my waterproof, shockproof and bulletproof Olympus Tough camera.

I spoke to an enthusiastic group of people with MS and their families, had a decent meal and contemplated my next move. I had fresh tires and oil, and six days before I was due to speak in Las Vegas. I knew I had about 24 hours of extra time to play with before heading south, so I decided to push north, ride by Denali National Park up to Fairbanks. If time allowed, I would then attempt to ride part of the famous Dalton Highway. I knew at mile marker 175 there was a trucker camp at Coldfoot, and if I could make it there by evening, I would have passed over the Arctic Circle by 60 miles or so. More importantly, I knew it was the last chance to get gas, food, a hot shower and a bed.

I made it to the famous Slate Creek Inn and apparently got the bridal suite. My room was in a trailer, ...
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Next issue, Wheels out West Part III Coast to Coast and a Chat with Chet Cooper.


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