Celebrating 40 years of the success of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System| How the TAPS influenced


High School Graduation – not long before Alaska

I came to Alaska with the Air Force on my 20th birthday in October 1963. I heard there was going to be an earthquake and I wanted to be here for it (HA). I worked in supply primarily with vehicles and aircraft that were out of commission for parts. At my discharge in March of 1967 I went to work as a warehouse and inventory manager for Universal Services – an oil and exploration service provider

In 1971 my ’68 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle was stolen – it was recovered that fall but was pretty much beyond repair. It was nearly impossible to get parts for so I decided to build a “chopper” out of it. I bought a “Chilton’s” repair manual and the few motorcycle magazines that were available at that time. There were ads from various parts suppliers in California and many stated “Dealer inquiries invited”. Upon learning that I could buy parts wholesale if I was a dealer, I wrote to several of the companies. They responded with “send a copy of your business license and pictures of your store with signage”.


I sold the Triumph for $250 and bought a heater for my 1-car garage; a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood which I painted with the words “Barry’s Custom Cycle” and nailed it above the door; a $25 business license; and 6 sheets of peg board. I converted the back room of the garage (which was a wood shed) to my show room. I hung the pegboard and painted it red white and blue. I took pictures, had the film developed and sent them off with copies of my license. A few days later I was getting catalogs and price lists in the mail. I still had enough money to put a small ad in the Anchorage Daily News – and Barry’s Custom Cycle was born.


Also in 1971 the TAPS was moving full steam ahead and Harley-Davidson put an ad in the local paper looking for a dealer for the Anchorage area. I sent HD a letter and they sent a District Manager to interview me. Of course, the response was “we can’t have a dealer in a one car garage in a residential neighborhood. If you get into a commercial building, contact me again”.


Through 1972 my part-time business was doing quite well. My boss at Universal Services got wind of it and made me an offer (threat). I stayed with Barry’s Custom Cycle. Of course, my first winter without a job almost put me in bankruptcy.


The oil and TAPS booms caused the housing market to explode. I had equity in my house so sold it in 1973 and leased a building in Spenard next to Chilkoot Charlie’s. I converted two back rooms into living quarters for my family.

 work bench

In 1974 I sent another letter to Harley-Davidson. They sent the District Manager back to Anchorage that fall to see my operation. He signed me up as a dealer with our contract starting in 1975.


Though my business was doing quite well during the summer months, I could not get through the winter. I took my first job on the pipeline and went to work for Bechtel as a “materials coordinator” at  5-mile camp north of the Yukon River.


A biker buddy “Indian Randy” started his own business – Polar Storm Insulation. He got the bid to insulate the water tanks and all the plumbing at the new camp at Valdez. There were not enough union insulators in Alaska to do the job so he was able to get me on as an insulator helper making 3 times as much as I was with Bechtel.


In the winter of ’74 – ’75 the owner of Chilkoot Charlie’s made my landlord an offer he couldn’t refuse. I put everything in storage and got back on with TAPS through the Operating Engineers. Between mechanics jobs I leased a building on Chugach Drive just off Spenard Road and hired a friend and his wife to manage it for me while I continued with TAPS. I kept working as a mechanic through June, 1977 when the first barrel of oil made its trip through the 800 mile pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez.

 barry's custom cycle

When you walk in the front door of Chilkoot Charlie’s there is a bar on the left and a bar on the right. The one on the right used to be my parts counter – the dance floor was my service area and the bathroom behind the bar used to have a shower and is the one we used while living there.

 Had it not been for TAPS all of this may have just been an unfilled desire to become a Harley-Davidson dealer.

Written by House of Harley-Davidson founder, Barry Matteson




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The end of the journey…

Today was full of extremes and adventures! I got up early and quietly got ready as my roommates continued to sleep. I went down to breakfast and ate a quick bite then back up to the room. The roomies were awake now, so I said quick goodbyes and grabbed my stuff and loaded up my bike. It was pretty cold this morning as I loaded up the bike, so I opted for the warmer gloves and an extra layer under the leather jacket. Leaving out of Durango was beautiful. Mountains and trees all around. It was also only 46* so a little chilly! I took 160 west which skirted the bottom portion of the San Juan National Forest. It also took me past the Mesa Verde National Forest.


Look mom, no hands 😉


Awesome first half of the ride

I went through the small town of Cortez and saw the local fire department raising the American flag up with the ladder on their truck. I was riding past on Main Street and had to turn around to get a photo with the flag and the truck. I had 9/11 on my mind all day and this was an opportunity to capture a moment of honor in a small town. I pulled in and asked them if I could take a quick picture while they were getting it positioned. The female firefighter offered to move it lower for me, but I thought the angle was just fine. It was was a great moment, Proud to Be an American!


Thank you to those who are first responders in our great nation!

The road 160 takes you right by the 4 Corners monument, which is on Indian land. It cost $5 to got park and walk to the 4 corners of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. I guess I can’t really count Utah in the states I rode through on this trip, but I did that on my last solo trip! The first part of Arizona on 160 was spectacular. There were amazing rock structures, canyons, red rocks and several threatening looking clouds. I managed to skirt the storms, yet again! There was very little traffic on the road, and it was a nice leisurely ride through all the scenery.



4 corners!

As I got closer to flagstaff I came into the Coconino National Forest. It was beautiful with some nice windy roads and the air was cool. There were a lot of signs for Elk, but I didn’t see any. This whole trip has been pretty much wild game free. I like to see them off the road, but oh well. My original plan was to go from 160 West to 89 South to Flagstaff and then onto the freeway 17 to just hurry home. I stopped in Flagstaff at a gas station and tried to decide what I should do, either get some food or keep going. I opted for some more water and a granola bar and while I stood in the shade I looked up my route. It wasn’t too much longer to avoid the freeway altogether since we are on the east side of Phoenix and taking 17 would cause me to have to go round the 202 for a long way. So I decided to put in my GPS to get to Payson, while avoiding highways. The route took me through Flagstaff and then into the National Forest on Lake Mary Rd. The speed limit was 50 which of course was difficult for me to abide by, but I went past two different sheriffs heading the opposite direction and they didn’t seem to mind my chosen speed.



Amazing scenery in northern AZ

Lake Mary Road took me past, you guessed it, Lake Mary but as it winded through the forest it took me to Mormon Lake. Apparently they need to send a memo to Arizona, because Lake Mormon is no longer a lake but a small pond/marsh. The road continued to wind through the hills and forests and went through Happy Jack and then eventually ended at highway 87. I was surprised at how curvy and fun 87 was! It was up and down and back and forth through some mountains and had some awesome corners. I was pleasantly surprised, and was trying to remember if I had ridden through part of that before, but I don’t think I have, at least not on my own ride.


Some good curves on 87

After Payson, 87 got pretty crowded and full of traffic who must have been out for the weekend. A lot of RV’s, boats and side by sides being hauled. My phone showed a route to our Mesa house that took me off the “Beeline Highway” aka 87 onto the Bush Hwy. As I was heading down the road, I noticed a lot of traffic coming back the other way. It seemed like double the traffic was coming back than going forward. Then I saw two bikers and they started waving like they were motioning me to turn around. So, I was looking for a turn around and then I saw it. Traffic was backed up for who knows how long and I was able to turn around just before the traffic jam. I don’t know what happened or why it was stopped but it was freaking hot out so I turned around.

This morning it was 46* and as I got closer to Mesa it was 108*. I was COOKING!!! So I had to back up and get back on 87 which was even more crowded now. It was getting hotter by the minute and at this point I couldn’t really enjoy the ride. There was a lot of traffic and I was hauling ass to get out of the heat. The last 20 minutes seemed like an eternity and I was sweating through all of my clothes and starting to feel a little weird. I got to our house, parked the bike and just grabbed my purse to get in the house. Of course, the temperature was set to 85* in the house since no one was home but it still felt cool compared to the 108* outside. by the time I got in the house I was shocked at how fast my heart was pounding and how hot I was. It looked and felt like I had just ran really hard. I opened the fridge and found a Lacroix which I gulped down and a frozen water bottle. I used the water bottle for about 30 minutes to try to cool myself down. I started some laundry but it took me over an hour before I stopped sweating and wasn’t completely red in the face. I was going to take a cold shower, but realized the water here is hot because it is hot outside the opposite of Alaska!


This is my close to heat stroke face! Was seriously a little scared but managed to capture the moment because I am dedicated to this blog!

I decided to skip the shower and just relax for a bit and then head over to my favorite wine bar just down the road from our house, Dvine Wine Bar. I ate a yummy meal and had a nice wine flight while I wrote my blog. A good way to end the day. Today I spent most of my day reflecting on my entire journey. This has been such a blessing and so much fun! I just rode in 21 states for 17 days. I was able to spend time with my friends Dawn and Chelsey, see my sister Bonita and share my passion of riding with people all along the way. There were challenges, adventures, experiences and a sense of accomplishment. I had so much fun and I have memories that will last for the rest of my life. I am deeply connected to the brand that I get the pleasure of sharing with others. I am pretty sure that is happiness.


Celebratory drinks at my favorite wine bar


Celebratory drinks at my favorite wine bar

A special thanks to Dawn Morand who made the whole first part of my trip dynamic and so much fun. I enjoyed riding with you so much, and I can’t wait for our next adventure! Also thanks to Chelsey Homan for taking some time out of her busy schedule to give me a day off of riding and sharing her time share with me. Thanks to my beautiful sister Bonita James and her friends and family for the amazing dinner and a nice relaxing evening of conversation and fun. Another huge thanks to Jim Lebiedtz and Robin Brandt for sharing their room with me! I am glad I was able to connect with them on their adventure for the California HOG rally. We had a great few days riding and hanging with all the HOGs on that fun 10 rally! I am blessed and honored to be part of this family! Like I said last time and I apologize mom…Harley Fucking Davidson!!!

P.S. If anyone is looking for a slightly used, in excellent condition 2017 CVO Streetglide mine is for sale in Mesa! I can’t keep that awesome machine tied up in my garage without getting to hit the road but occasionally when I get down here so I hope it will make someone else happy!

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Santa Fe to Durango

We awoke to some crazy rider who had been up at 4:15am everyday to ride. Apparently he wants to be the first to arrive. So I basically was up at 4 and really didn't fall back asleep. We knew a lot of the riders would be getting up early to hit the road so we had a plan to leave by 10am. We lazed around, slowly packed and loaded the bikes. We headed to breakfast and then finalized our packing and hit the road. We took the very long scenic route to get from Santa Fe to Durango.



Jim leading the pack


There were some great curves through the Carson National Forest and Rio Grande National forest and many other beautiful areas. There were mountains, rock faces and hills and valleys and surprisingly a lot of forest. We had some great switchbacks and overall good road conditions. We road through a controlled burn through Carson National Forest which was interesting. Pretty smokey.



Rest stop for the crew to eat some ice cream


After we left the Santa Fe area we were in Carson National Forest, and we went through Taos which had a great view of the Rio Grande with a nice overlook on the bridge. The scenery was great and we had a nice ride. It was pretty cool even with the late start around 9:45am! We were the last bikes in the lot at the hotel, but we still were not the last into the dealership. We pretty much rode through today, we stopped for gas and for the “crew” to get ice cream a couple times then we headed straight to Durango. I have a high school friend who lives in Pagosa Springs but I wasn’t able to get ahold of her while we were there getting gas. So we headed on to Durango.


Good scenery

We rolled through town, saw the dealership and headed to the hotel. After we dropped our stuff we headed over to the dealership so they crew could get their Poker Hand stamped and we could check it out. They of course were great hosts and had a big BBQ going on, so Jim and Robin got some of the free grub. We checked out the store and then hung out in the yard a bit to watch the rally. Since Jim and Robin ate at the dealership I looked for a cool local place for Barry and I to eat. I found a brewery called Steamworks Brewery and so I put it in the GPS and the crew followed me. Jim and Robin’s friend Hal joined us downtown Durango and we had a good meal and a few drinks.


Whisky for my men and beer for my horses! At the brewery in Durango with our friend Hal from CA

After dinner we headed to the hotel where I showered and the group met in the bar. By the time I was down with my shower, they still hadn’t gotten drinks so I was just in time! We had a drink and chatted with Hal, and then headed for the room. I am going to ride to Mesa tomorrow so I am saying goodbye to everyone. What an awesome trip this has been!


It’s official we are all in the same bed!

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“Fanta Se”

Today we spent the day enjoying the town of Santa Fe. While I have been here in the small packed city of Santa Fe I have heard several locals call this place the fun nickname “Fanta Se.” I had an interesting evening in this city…Barry, Jim and Robin had booked a room and it had two double beds. I love my dad, but sharing a bed and then sharing a room is a lot to ask someone like me who is secretly an introvert. So, here I am, crammed in a room with my personal friends (who are also HOG members and clients) and my dad. We have to share the bathroom and all I am the world’s lightest sleeper. Let’s just say I didn’t get too much sleep.

We eventually all woke up and I attempted to secretly shower as best I could, and we all shared the space to get ready. We decided to take it pretty easy today. We saw that the HOG rally had a “rider meeting” at the dealership at 11 so we headed there. We met up with some of Jim and Robin’s friends from the Glendale, CA chapter and hung out around the shop. I chatted with David the owner of the dealership about my CVO, because they have a customer that wants my color of bike by the 30th. So we worked on a deal so he could come buy the CVO in Mesa. If not, I will still likely sell the bike when I get to AZ.


We decided after the dealership we would head downtown to where I was yesterday, and check out the other church down there. The Loretto Chapel has been around since 1878. When they constructed the church, the architect died suddenly, and they needed someone to construct a stairway to the choir loft. The legend of the miracle goes, that they prayed for help from God and a carpenter they did not know said he would build a staircase. He was a traveler, and only had very basic tools. The entire staircase was built without nails and fasteners and was completely out of wood. Some say St. Joseph built it himself. The staircase is 20′ in height and makes two complete turns. It was held completely by the central spiral with no support beam or outside supports. It is pretty amazing to see even now after they have added a staircase so the sisters could safely and easily get to the top. Check it out online if you want some more info!


We wandered around downtown to look for a belt for Barry. It had been quite a challenge to find a parking spot downtown so we stayed down there for a bit. I found Barry a birthday present, a cool belt since he had been looking for one and Robin found me the most awesome French Bulldog socks ever! So it was a score. We stopped back by the church I had been at yesterday and the crew got ice cream and coffee then when headed back to our hotel for “happy hour.”

When we got here we realized that happy hour was only early (3pm) yesterday with food for the HOG Rally. Normally they only open at 4pm. Luckily, the bar tender is awesome and let us in early. We grabbed a drink and I checked some email from work. Jim, Robin and Barry wanted to go to the dealership for the opening ceremony so I stayed behind to catch up on some work. I was going to get dinner, but then I realized I promised David, the dealer that we would discuss price a little further if his customer was serious about buying my bike, so I headed over there. After I spoke with him I went to The Ranch House and had a nice salad for dinner. We rode back to the hotel, the long way, but less traffic! Tomorrow the HOG Rally goes to Durango, CO so I will be going there and then from there I will be heading to Mesa. What a great ride this has been!

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Amarillo, TX to Santa Fe, NM

Today was a breeze only about 320 miles and most of it on the freeway. I had checked in with my friend who lives in South Park, CO while I was in Amarillo. (Yes, the Southpark…the one from the show) Pat was in Alaska for our HOG rally this year and had lived in Alaska when he was younger. While he was up there for the rally, he fell I love with the state and really wanted to move back up there. So, to help encourage him, I hired him to do a project for me at the shop and flew him up there. He installs security systems, so he upgraded mine. He was already planning on going to go on a ride today, so he suggested he ride to Santa Fe to meet up for lunch.


I woke up at 6am on the dot, I guess that is my new wake up time. I was ready to go before 7:15 so I decided to drink some coffee and wait a bit till the sun got higher in the sky and warmed up a bit. When I went out to my bike to get it loaded up, I was surprised by the smell! Apparently Amarillo is near a bunch of cattle farms or sewer or something! Yuck! So I got out of there as quick as I could. I grabbed some gas and then headed out on the freeway, gotta love a 75mph speed “limit.”


Anyone need to buy a buffalo!?


Ok, so I am adding my disclaimer here: excuse my quick soap box moment….

While I was cruising along with all the farms and the hundreds of windmills, I came upon a cattle feed lot. There were thousands of cows crammed into this smelly, muddy pit of a pin. The cows looked sickly, dirty and had hardly any room to move. This is what most of the “beef” in the store is sourced from sites like this. They feed the cows corn and they are basically just fattened up and sickly pumped full of drugs then fed to us. A few miles down the road, after I was able to stop plugging my nose, I saw some cows that were in a nice grassy pasture. They were clean, had room to roam and looked healthy and probably tasted great! Ok, so next time you go to eat a steak think about where that comes from and get the grass fed organic piece of meat instead of the chemical cow hunk of meat 🙂

I was cruising along and not really paying attention, and next thing you know I am at 1/4 of a tank. I checked my GPS and I was supposed to be catching a different road off the freeway in about 20 miles. So, I assumed (worse thing you can do) that there would be a gas station at the crossroads. I take the exit, no gas station and none in sight. I headed about a mile and found a sign that said the next town was 41 miles. My bike said I had 47 miles to empty. I am not that brave, so I turned back around and got on the freeway. The best part, was I had passed a lady on a trike, then she passed me while I was off the highway, then as I was heading toward the gas station I saw one off the highway so I took the exit and she passed me again. Of course that gas station was closed, so she passed me again. Then we met up at the gas station that actually has gas. I later met her at the hotel and she was so happy to see another female rider and had a good chuckle because she knew what I was doing on my gas quest.


Look it’s not just flat farm land anymore!


So, I got gas, my GPS recalculated and I followed the gal on the trike to get back on the highway. Of course, I would have a little more construction to brighten my day, and the on ramp to the highway was stripped down to the bottom. To get on the freeway, you had to get back up on the pavement which was at least a 5 inch lift. It was literally the worst I have seen. My bike was a like riding a bunking bronco as I had to jump up at an angle since I could not hit is straight on because I was entering a freeway! My friend on the trike said she was a little concerned when she hit it and made sure I made it ok. So then back on toward Santa Fe.



Hog Rally Headquarters


The cathedral



The Alaskans

I got into town pretty early, we were originally going to meet for lunch at 12 but he said they were running late and would be closer to 1. So, I checked I out the dealership, saw all the stuff set up for the HOG Rally that is going on and decided I would head downtown to check things out. Lots of shops, art galleries and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. I headed back to the dealership and met up with Pat and his friend Bill. They had a hard ride here and had to eat lunch then turn around and head back, so round trip 600 miles. We had a good lunch and said our goodbyes and Barry texted to say they were at the hotel. I headed to the hotel and got to drop my stuff in the room and head to the bar with the crew. Jim, Robin, Barry and I chatted for a bit, then Barry went to the room to nap and Robin had to go pick up a prescription. Closer to 5:20pm Jim and I headed to the room to get everyone ready to head to Madrid, which is where Wild Hogs, the movie was filmed.


Party in Madrid

It was a nice ride, and we were welcomed with a bar/restaurant that had live music and outdoor seating. We hung out for a bit, then headed back to the hotel. We had to ride back in the dark, and Jim’s GPS wasn’t too happy to lead us the right way. The important thing is we made it. Barry and I have been at the bar hanging with JT our HOG guy from the motor company. Overall a good day! Now I just need to decide what I am going to do tomorrow…

Wing it!

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Tulsa, OK to Amarillo, TX

I got to spend the evening with my sister Bonita James and her Oklahoma family and friends. We had a great dinner at her house which she thankfully picked me up for. When I arrived I was hot from the drive from Tyler. It was a hot day and I was ready to shower! After I had gotten showered and settled, I had some time until Bonnie was down with work so I thought I would walk to a restaurant near by…well that was a mile away and I was sweating by the time I made it there!


Sisters ❤️


The family

Bonnie was quick to get from work to pick me up and we had a great time socializing and eating their yummy food they made for dinner. I got my dog fix hanging out with her 2 lovable dogs and their asshole Tico who pretends to like you until you pet him! I was happy to get some time with my sister and we ended up chatting in the living room getting caught up until we realized she should probably take me home so we could both make our date for breakfast. We met up at this cute little cafe called the Blue Moon where they cater to dogs and people! Breakfast was delish and then it was time to say “goodbye.”


Augzilla as they call her licking me to death


Bonitas little buddy Auggy begging for treats

I headed out of Tulsa expecting to ride from Tulsa, south on 75 to 40. When I stopped to get gas my GPS decided it had found a better route for me. So it made me back track a couple miles to head west on a highway that ended up being pretty and calm. There was hardly any traffic, and I saw a road runner! He looked just like the cartoon! 🙂

As I was heading west I realized this route was going to take me to through Oklahoma City. Thankfully traffic wasn’t too bad and I didn’t have to deal with any issues. I stopped a couple times for gas today, but I primarily stuck to the route which once it got me on I-40 was pretty straight. I was so appreciative to enjoy my time with my sister I wasn’t too worried about seeing cool sites.

I made it into Amarillo and my first stop was the HD Dealership since I was so early in the day. They didn’t have much going on so I wandered back out. I drove around Amarillo for about 30 minutes to see if I could find a hotel that I wanted to stay at. There were a bunch of options off the freeway but I was looking for something with a restaurant attached or nearby. I found a Holiday Inn Express that had several options within walking distance. After I got settled in the room I checked in with Barry and found that him, Jim and Robin will be in Santa Fe tomorrow. So I am heading there to meet up with them. Gotta love having an open agenda!!

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Tyler, TX to Tulsa, OK

Yesterday, I took a day off from the road with my friend Chelsey. We got up and got ready for the day. We wanted to get massages first then maybe check out a winery. We called every singe massage spa in town and not a single one had openings! I guess that is what everyone wanted to do on Labor Day! So we headed to Panera to grab some breakfast and make a plan. We were moving from the hotel to her vacation time share so we decided we would look for a winery, move the bike and our stuff over to the time share and then head to a winery for lunch. We looked for a good 15 minutes and finally found one in Athens that was open on Labor Day.

We were able to check in and get our stuff settled in the room and did a quick driving tour of the facility then we headed to Tara Winery. As we pulled into the driveway, we saw the beautiful colonial style home in front and then in the background the restaurant and tasting room. We each got a 5 wine flight which ended up being 9 different wines and a taste of their new beer from the brewery they just opened. We got some food and everything was amazing. We sat outside despite the heat for the view and enjoying watching the farm dogs wandering around.


The front view of the estate at Tara Winery

After the winery we headed back to town and found a place to get pedicures. It was a nice way to relax and as close as we could get to a massage. The guy who worked there gave us wine, which was probably not really legal, but I wasn’t gonna complain! He worked on my feet and the whole time was filled with funny comments and failed attempts to convince me to “date an Asian man”! We had a good laugh and I had to tell him I was leaving town and he was sad to say that he would “never get to see me again.” From there we grabbed some food and made dinner at the resort and played a couple rounds of Battleship, which of course Chelsey kicked my ass.

The rest day went too fast, but we were up early making breakfast and getting on the road. I was heading out toward Tulsa at 8am. Within the first 20 minutes I came up on a bad wreck, that was still being dealt with by the fire department and police. The car looked like it had been a single vehicle accident and had bounced off the guardrail and possibly rolled. Just past the car, there was a GIANT wild hog that was probably the cause of the accident. The guy at the winery was talking about the wild boars and how destructive they are. This thing was big brown and hairy with tusks!

Since it was a pretty straight shot to Tulsa, I figured I would just trust my GPS to get me there. When I put it in my phone it took me through Paris, TX basically just straight north from Tyler. Unfortunately my GPS was not on my side today. I came upon a construction area and the guy standing there said it would be a little bit of a wait. So, I shut down the bike and we chatted for about 5 minutes about my trip and the hot weather. Eventually the pilot car came through which is generally an indication that it could be some rougher construction…

I was in the front of the line which is always good as a biker, because it is actually harder to go slow and be behind a car that is changing speeds. At first it was just some rough dirt road and then it got worse and worse. It started to be filled with big rocks that were literally causing my tires to to turn and jolt. We had to stop as a large end dump truck dumped a bunch of gravel to the right. That is when it got really hairy. We then went up on a little bit of a build up which was deeper dirt and big rocks. It was probably some of the roughest terrain I have ridden on, including on the Alcan. The worst part, is the pilot car started to go about 5 miles per hour and was making it really difficult for me to handle the bike. I literally started yelling “GO! GO! GO! DON’T MAKE ME F&*(#%@^% STOP!!!” I was in a pretty panicked state and thought I might drop the bike, but thankfully her windows were rolled down and she immediately started to go faster. After that I pulled into the next gas station I saw. I will admit, I was shaking, it was pretty challenging. I filled up and hit the road. The first 2 hours of the ride were pretty cool with some cloud cover remaining from the storm that had rolled through last night.


Whole lot of nothing

As you might imagine, there is not much between Texas and Oklahoma. Lots of farms, trees and fields. It started to get really hot as the day went on, but I only had about a 350 mile ride total so I made it into my hotel around 3pm. Today, the folks I met at gas stations and at stops were all very friendly and talkative, nice warm hospitality and a lot of curiosity about Alaska. I pretty much just hauled ass to Tulsa to get out of the heat!


Hot and lonely out here


Long straight roads to OK

I rode all the way up here to see my sister Bonita who lives in Tulsa. She will be picking me up later tonight so I can have dinner at their house and enjoy some time with her since we don’t get nearly enough.

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Conway, AR to Tyler, TX

I was determined to a little better on my route planning today, so I got up early and reviewed the maps for about 5 minutes and figured my chicken scratch route would be close enough and would be a little more scenic! Since the escapade to a hotel last night took me a little off my course I had to do a little back tracking. I had planned to stay on 9 from Clinton to Hot Springs, but Conway was down 65 from Clinton so I was at the juncture of I-40 and 65. I decided to jump on the interstate to get back to 9 which was about 20 miles west.


Gotta love curves!!

9 continued to be beautiful, and I was riding through Ouachita National Forest. It was a nice twisty ride and the morning was nice and cool. There was hardly anyone on the road, but occasionally I would see a few bikes and a few cars. You always know you are on a good road when you see bikers. When I got to the road that leads to Hot Springs, I got a little confused and followed a sign to Hot Springs Village. It was about 10 miles to this area that looked like a little town, I followed traffic and found that in fact it was some business that surrounded a giant gated community! Oops, so I had to back track 10 miles to get back to the correct road to get to Hot Springs.


Switchbacks leading up the mountain in hot springs


Love those curves

The road lead right into downtown, which was right next to the park, I guess you don’t call it Hot Springs if you are not near the actual springs. I saw the sign for the National Park and turned down the side road that ran parallel to it to find a parking spot. Of course, it is a holiday weekend and the place was packed. I got to the end of the road and saw a sign that said “scenic drive” for the park. I turned up the road and was very pleased to find 3.2 miles of switchback turns and some awesome views! The park is on a little “mountain” and you can hike all over it, or in my case drive a cool road to the top so you can get the cool pictures without hiking 🙂 I parked at a picnic area, and was not too impressed with the view so I kept heading up the mountain. Then I go to the actual lookout so I parked my bike on the side of the road and ran over to get a photo. There was also an Observation Tower that you could go climb up in and see 360* but it was pretty crowded so I stuck with the natural view. While I was up there I kept looking for where the springs were but didn’t see any signs or steam so I kept following the road up and then back down. I cam back out at the dead end and headed back towards the main drive, and I saw that the area in the front of the park had the spring in it and a good sign so I could get a photo of where I was.


View from the top



The observation tower

The water was really hot and it was a small spring, but from what I gathered there are 47 springs total and they feed thermally heated water to “bath house row” locations. While doing a little research I found out that Hot Springs is the oldest National Park, established 40 years before Yellowstone! It was a cool town, and I would definitely go back some day when I can stay a little longer.


Hot spring



I had gotten such and early start and had plenty of time, so I decided to take a longer more scenic route to Tyler, TX. I got onto 7 and headed south. This was all forested land and again there was hardly anyone else on the road. When I drove through one of the towns, I saw about 4 police vehicles in a gas station parking lot with about 50 bikes. I had two thoughts…charity ride or motorcycle club shoot out. Fortunately it was the first thought. As I was approaching a traffic signal, I heard then saw a cop coming up from behind me. I drove toward the sidewalk and got out of the way, but he went around the other lane into the oncoming lane and then whipped around and blocked all the traffic in the intersection. So I got a front row seat to all the bikers who were on this ride getting a police escort! I didn’t have my phone to grab some video or a picture, but it was pretty cool. There were some Combat Vets and it looked like some other type of veteran organization, so likely a ride for them. Always fun and cool to see stuff like that.


Way down south

I made it to Louisiana without much excitement except almost having a bird hit me in the head…luckily I ducked and he got enough lift that we missed each other. I came into Louisiana at Junction City, which despite its name is not a city. I was near the Kisatachee National Forest, and saw some deer. The road was pretty straight and pretty unexciting. I intersected with I-20 and hopped on to haul ass over to TX. At this point the sun was baking my face, so back on went the bandana and I just headed to Tyler. My back has been pretty kinked up the last two days, I guess that is what I get for taking a day off in Indiana! So, I am staying in Tyler an extra day to hang out with my friend Chelsey. She and I met in college and we became fast friends. She eventually bought a bike and went out for the Ms. HD AK contest. She and her finance moved to Texas 3 years ago. I am thankful I get to spend some time with her. Then off to visit my sister Bonita in Oklahoma.


Long straight roads in Louisiana

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Evansville, IN to Conway, AR

Today was a day that I humbly will admit I failed at. I woke up early this morning and planned my route. I thought that since I was in Indiana I would head west then south and I found some good roads, so I thought, to get me there. Before I get into my ride I want to talk a little about my time in Evansville. Bud’s HD was fabulous. I hung out all day at the dealership and mingled with the staff as well as worked from a computer Dawn set me up with. They did a check over of my bike to make sure I was rode ready, and when I went back to settle up, they said they only take “beer” as payment. So I grabbed Dawn’s jeep and picked them up a few beet options. They got my security system set up since it hadn’t be done originally, and had my bike washed and checked out completely. They are exactly what you expect from a home town dealership. It was funny how well I fit in. As I would walk through the showroom people would ask me questions like I worked there! I of course was happy to help and I even sold a pair of boots 🙂

When we rolled into Evansville to bike night there were already a lot of people who had been following us on Facebook, so I made some new friends and enjoyed my two days in Evansville. Last night we went to the hip part of town that is a newly renovated district with a lot of bars and restaurants. We had a good time dancing and enjoying the scene.



Last night with Dawn Morand, the other DM
Morning came early for me, but I resisted and slept in a bit. By the time we got to the dealership it was 9am and by the time I finished drinking my coffee and chatting with everyone it was almost 11. I got the bike loaded up and headed out with my GPS on, but a mental note of where I needed to go…or so I thought. I had talked with Dawn before I left and was supposed to get to 41 but my GPS took me on 62, which was more of a highway. But I gotta give my GPS props because if it wasn’t for my GPS I wouldn’t have found my first stop.


Route planning…apparently I didn’t do so hot this time

I was trying to get to Elizabethtown from Shawneentown, but the GPS took me to a dirt road that looked more like a private drive than 146 the road I was looking for. But I was intrigued by the signs for Old Shawneentown, so I headed further the wrong way to see what was there. I rode through the old town until I came to a turn and found 5 bikers sitting there. I pulled up and asked them how to get to 146 and one of they guys stepped up and gave me directions. I turned my bike around and realized that one of the signs I had seen on the way in was the historic landmark sign for the Bank in Shawneetown that was built around 1839. So I got a picture real quick and chatted with the bikers about my trip. Then I was off following the directions that they graciously gave me.


The oldest town in Illinois and the bank that is the historical landmark


I made it through Illinois which was partially through the Shawnee National Forest and over the Mississippi River to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. This whole first part took way longer than I expected so I was already feeling the pressure to make it further west and south. I stopped at a gas station and trapped some granola bars and kept heading in the direction I had originally planned.

Let’s just say Missouri lived up to it’s name. I took 60 over to 160 which was highlighted yellow in the HOG book which means it is a good ride…however it took me over 300 miles to get to the scenic part and all I saw prior to the Mark Twain National Forest was a bunch of dead armadillos and foxes. It was a long hot ride until I got to the forest, then there was some nice twisties which made it a little better. Unfortunately as I was “hangry” and couldn’t find a place to grab some food besides granola bars.


Misery I mean Missouri

I learned some good lessons today in my whole “wing it strategy.” Originally when I was making my plans for this ride I thought that I would go through the Arkansas on 9 to Clinton. I looked up hotels online and saw there was a Best Western there. So, as the day grew long and I was close to 500 miles I was anxious to get to Clinton. I was riding through the Ozark National Forest to the west of the Buffalo River. It was very pretty and had some great curves which made up a little more for the first half of the day. As I was riding through all the hills and twists and turns a I saw a Best Western in Mountain View, but was headed to Clinton so I kept on going.


I felt a little like I was starting to race the sunset. I still hadn’t eaten anything beside a couple granola bars so I was so very ready to get settled for the night. I kept on pushing to Clinton, and when I arrived just as the sun was setting I was stoked to see the Best Western sign. I followed the directions and realized it lead me to a driveway with a locked gate. I drove further down the road till I found a drive I could stop in. I looked up the Best Western again, which showed up in my search, and called the number. Surprise…it’s closed! So I check on the GPS for what other hotels are in town I literally drove around for 20 minutes realizing the GPS and the actual hotels were not accurate. So I stopped at the only one that was correct which was Super 8.


Racing that sunset

On my way to the hotel I noticed a restaurant that I thought might be my dinner location for the evening. The sign outside said “Welcome Chuck Wagon Racers.” I assumed this was some TV sport people watched. When I went into the Super 8 I asked for a room, she look a little surprise as was I when she said she was completely booked! I will admit at this point I was tired, hungry and had a pit in my stomach fear about what I was going to do next! She said south of Clinton there was Conway which had some hotels that probably were not booked like she was from the races…I of course had to know what Chuck Wagon Races are….apparently it is pretty legit and people take it very seriously.


Almost to Clinton and losing my sun



Chuck wagon races are a real thing, I stole this off the internet

At this point it is dark and I am now tired, hungry, pissed and scared of hitting a dear in the dark roads. So I head out on the dark rural road that is thankfully 4 lanes, without any streetlights.

Thankfully I didn’t see or hit any animals. The 30 minutes seemed like an eternity. As I saw the lights of Conway I was relieved. I pulled up to the Quality Inn and went to check in. I asked the clerk if there was anywhere I could get some late dinner, he mentioned a couple spots but also mentioned the new fish place in town. So, after I dropped my stuff I ran up the road to the Shucked Surf and Turf. I was so relieved to find some food I could eat and some great staff that were willing to hang out and chat with me. After 540 miles alone with just myself and the road you kinda want to talk to someone!

So, for the rest of my trip I will be calling ahead as I head in and will find out if the hotel is still open and/or if there is room! I will also be making time to eat some food along the way! Tomorrow I am going to find something cool to check out in Arkansas then to Tyler Texas to meet my friend Chelsey!

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Virginia to Indiana

Tonight’s blog will be a bit shorter, as I am exhausted and ready for some sleep! Someone set the alarm in our room for 5:15am this morning so Dawn and I were rudely awakened by the hotel room clock, so we dozed until about 7:30. It was still a little hazy and wet outside, but looked like it was clearing up. We ate some free breakfast and hit the road.


Tonight was the Bud’s Harley-Davidson Bike Night, so we decided to ride a little harder today and take a little more interstate and highway so we could make it from Virginia just south West of Roanoke to Evansville, Indiana. So we hoped on 81 and headed South West. The freeway took us into Tennessee and then we got on 11W into Kentucky. While we were in Tennessee, we kept getting closer and closer to what looked like a storm, but I thought surely we would miss it like we did yesterday…wrong.

When we got into it, it was raining so hard I was soaked within 2 minutes. After about 5 minutes I pulled over so we could put more gear on and I could cover my bag with the he rain fly. We were already pretty wet but we added more layers, I put my coat on and borrowed a pair of Dawn’s gloves. We had to ride in it for a little while, basically through a mountain pass, not very long then we were out of it. I literally did not have dry pants until after walking around Evansville tonight for an hour!

There were parts of the highways and freeways that were scenic but mostly we were just hauling ass to make it across 4 states and about 540 miles to be in time for bike night. We stopped right next to the Corvette Museum to get gas and grab a snack. When we pulled into the gas station there were 4 Corvettes there at the same time. I guess they all go there like a trip to Mecca or something. I guess I can’t judge, we all go to Milwaukee for the HD anniversaries and the museum!

So I have discovered that my steel nerves I developed while attending college in South Carolina are gone…I am terrified of bugs. As I was moving my bike out of the parking spot there was this giant flying thing that looked like a mutant bumble bee and June bug or it was possibly the spawn of Satan buzzing around my right lower fairing, probably eating the corpses of the bugs off of it. I tried to ride forward but it was pacing with me…so I stopped, put it in neutral then screamed. I put my sleeve over my hand and whacked it like a tennis ball. It was literally the size of a walnut, had a yellow head area and a big black body. It’s making me itch just typing about it.

So we jumped back on the interstate and headed up to Evansville. Dawn jumped into the lead after Owensboro and we rode right into their bike night and had VIP parking waiting for us! Their Bike Night takes over a street that has a few bars, restaurants and food vendors on it. It was pretty cool, over 400 bikes and everyone having a good time. Bud’s put on a good show with some good prizes and grand prize drawing at the end. Everyone was really friendly and excited to hear about our trip that they had been following on Facebook and of course by reading my blog 😉 We hung out there till it was all wrapped up then rode our Twinsie CVO’s to Dawn’s parents’ house, which is beautiful! So here I am in my own room writing my blog and getting ready to get some shut eye! Tomorrow I am staying in Evansville to work with Dawn and her crew so I will not be blogging again until after my ride Saturday!


Bike night


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