Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Who Came Up With This Harebrained Idea?!?

Oddly, riding the ALCAN to Alaska has been on my bucket list for years; however, it is not everyone’s cup of tea and it is not necessarily an endeavor to be attempted alone. Plus it’ll take 3-4 weeks at a minimum, and as much as I’d like to take a month off of work… oh, and let’s not forget familial obligations, what with a wife and two kids and a month’s worth of PTA meetings, soccer practices, soccer games, birthday parties, sleepovers, parent teacher conferences and the minutia of a daily life. So there’s that.

Sounds like an almost undoable task for a gainfully employed family man with day to day responsibilities, huh? Well allow me to tell you a tale…

Last September I was asked to serve as the officiant at a friend’s wedding… quick sidebar – I am not licensed to perform weddings but in both Montana and Colorado, any schlub can marry two willing people. It’s a throwback to the frontier days. Okay, back to the story…

That’s me in the black, officiating. I won’t bore you with the details, but people laughed in the proper places, cried at the right times and the correct two people tied the knot. At the reception party – held in the same location as the wedding, a beautiful home high in the mountains just off Lift #7 in Breckenridge, CO – I got to talking motorcycles with a co-worker’s husband – her retired husband – and this lead to discussions of an ALCAN trip.

I was shocked to hear that he, too, thought of the trip as a bucket list item. As the night continued and the liquor flowed, we discussed that next summer would be a perfect time to ride the ALCAN Highway. We exclaimed that we would absolutely do it, that we were not making half-drunk promises that would be forgotten with the light of the new day.

Fast forward six-ish months.

I ran into my co-worker’s husband, Russ, at the office. We exchanged pleasantries and he said we should start planning the trip if we were going to get it in this summer. Now I will tell you truthfully, dear reader, that I had not ‘forgotten’ the trip, per se; but shortly after the wedding, the thoughts of work/family/life brought me back to the busy-ness of my world and the thought of dropping out of it for nearly a month seemed a very remote chance indeed.

But my interest was again piqued when Russ mentioned that rather than riding to Alaska and back the same way, there is a car – and motorcycle – toting ferry that runs from Alaska to Washington state. The ferry ride is five days, then a final three or four day run back to Denver. Wow, who could resist that?!?

To help shorten this post, I will give a quick wrap up since telling this story is a little anti-climactic, since you already know that I am going; basically I’ve been filling three fulltime roles at my job and I have a ton of PTO, since I rarely take time off. It took very little coercing to get my job to let me take the time off (the funny thing is, after taking a month off, I will still have two weeks of PTO left!).

My wife agreed that it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I could repay her some other time. Of course I will be paying that back in spades, but I think it will be worth it.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Welcome To The ALCAN Run

Welcome to The ALCAN Run.

What, exactly, is the ALCAN run you ask? It’s a bit of a triple entendre; its main reference, ALCAN, is the Alaska/Canada (AL CAN, get it?) highway. And the run part, well that is an American biker idiom, meaning a motorcycle ride with a purpose; frequently associated with events meant to raise funds/items/awareness for a cause or a group. It can also be a trip. And in this case, that is exactly what it is.

This blog will be my experience leading up to the trip and then it will act as a travelogue, documenting the trials and tribulations of the 8,000 mile journey across Canada & the Western US via motorcycle. As we lead up to the trip, there is a countdown timer in the upper right hand side; it's counting down to departure day. This blog will also serve as an outlet for my usual diatribe of uselessness (of which I have a lot). 

So how did this trip come to be? That will be the focus of my next post.

Before I signoff, you are probably wondering what the third entendre of The Alcan Run name is… well, as a Gen X’er who is in his mid-40s, I am a movie geek and this is a subtle reference to the king of ‘70s scifi movies – Star Wars. It references a quote from Han Solo to Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi while in the Mos Eisley Cantina –

"You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs."   
                                           – Han Solo

The argument has been made that since a parsec is a unit of distance, not time, this is a bit of a gaff in the movie. However, Solo was not referring directly to his ship's speed when he made this claim. Instead, he was referring to the shorter route he was able to travel by skirting the nearby Maw black hole cluster, thus making the run in under the standard distance. By moving closer to the black holes, Solo managed to cut the distance down to about 11.5 parsecs.

Yeah, that’s the useless stuff I was referring to... fun facts and fiction from Rob's Almanac!

Check back often to read new posts!