Tag Archives: motorcycles

Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage on the Grand Princess – Fourth Post

Skagway is accessible by car and draws a great many recreational vehicles. My brothers-of-the-road represented Harley-Davidson with motorcycles from Florida and Kentucky. Two or three of the Harleys had couples riding. The women had to be good sports. Some off brand two wheeled vehicles were allowed in town. I saw five BMWs from the Canadian Province of Quebec.

Cathy and Princess

Cathy in front of the Grand Princess tied up in Skagway.

It was overcast and chilly when we disembarked for the morning. It warmed up and was great weather all day.

Once again we opted out of any organized tours. Shuttles run from the docks to Skagway and beyond from early morning until the last cruise ship departs. We got one of the good drivers who gave us a running talk about the town.

One pays when exiting the bus. The shuttles have two options, two dollars for each trip or five for unlimited rides. I found it surprising the number of people who took the two dollar choice. I got a better deal. Our driver announced, “I refuse to charge veterans. If you’re a vet let me know.” When I reached him I Said, “U.S. Navy” and rattled off my serial number. He stamped my hand for unlimited rides.

The man behind me wore a submarine service cap. As he handed over his money, the driver said, “No sir” and reached to stamp his hand. The man said, “It’s my son’s, he serves. I didn’t.” Two men, both class acts.

Harley Davidson

None of the Harley-Davidson stores we visited sold motorcycles or parts.

This outlet did not have an authorized Harley-Davidson sign visible on the outside. I have a feeling it’s the result of some local ordinance because none of the franchised stores in town had a company logo visible.

I splurged and bought two T-Shirts. In addition to the usual pocket T-Shirt, I saw a great looking design on a bright yellow T-Shirt. She-who-must-be-obeyed was not happy. Oh well, once in a while one must show a little rebellious behavior.

Back on the shuttle, we rode out to one of the must see destinations. We glanced at each other. “Nope, it’s a tourist trap.” We stayed on the bus. The next attraction received the same response. Riding back to town gave us an opportunity to interrogate the driver.

We stopped at the local museum. Cathy and I have travelled to Europe and Asia. We always make it a point to visit hardware and grocery stores. The ones in Skagway are nowhere as interesting as those in Japan, but the items they stock, are different enough to make it worth ones time. Over at the IGA Grocery store, apples were almost three dollars apiece.

Homes sell from $25,000 up to $400,000. All are small. Building materials must be brought in from great distances and there are no local construction companies. Our driver told us about a house built by a man and his family. Construction of a single room and bathroom was accomplished one summer, over the next four or five years the home was completed. The family now lives in a seven-hundred square foot house.

Here is an interesting story, “We don’t get much snow here. We have sustained winds of 50 MPH up the channel. The snow is dumped in the ocean. What we get comes in horizontally. We get two or three inches of ice sheets dropped here.”

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Looking down the main street one can see another Princess cruise ship docked at the end. Parking is limited to fifteen minutes with a threat of towing. Oddly, an Ultra Classic Harley Davidson, Kentucky license plate, was parked on the street for at least five hours. It was not cited, nor was it towed. But then we never saw a single police officer or cop car.

When it came time to return to the ship, I bought three bags of popcorn and hopped on a shuttle. As I should have expected, she dumped me. “I’ll walk. It’s only a mile or so.” Thirty years of marriage and she still has the energy of a teenager.

While I was writing, a choral group of Grand Princess Passengers put on a show in a nearby lounge. The sound was outstanding. They finished up with Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. Their rendition brought tears to the beast’s eyes.

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We cruised past this small glacier high in the mountains around 10:00 p.m. It was so beautiful, I had to get up and take this picture. The last time we traversed this channel to the sea, it was afternoon. I spent hours looking through my binoculars while wrapped in a blanket with a good cigar and a glass of Jack Daniels. It was a great experience.

Times have changed. I gave up cigars, rarely drink, and forgot my binoculars. If I didn’t know better I’d think I was getting old. Nah!

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Day 6 – Coram, MT to Great Falls, MT – 212 Miles – 8.4.2012

Sundance RV did not have coffee so back down the road we went. The first place we saw was a huge rafting center, store, and restaurant. Pulling in we should have noticed there was one car in the lot. Oh, well, coffee was only a minute away.

Inside there was no one in sight. We went through the souvenir store to the restaurant, it looked great but with no one in sight. I hollered; “Hello”. We walked through the restaurant, store, and into a gift shop. We found a guy with a cup of coffee chatting with an elderly lady.

He was the owner; “I don’t open the restaurant until lunch.”

We got back on the bikes and headed to the West Entrance to Glacier Park. We stopped at the West Glacier Restaurant. We enjoyed excellent coffee and food at reasonable prices. Two Russian couples were at the next table. They were riding from Seattle to New Jersey.

We entered the Park using our National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes which are sold to those over 62 for $10. The passes are good for life. I’ve purchased three because I keep forgetting mine.

It is 50 miles from the West Entrance to the East Exit. It was a great ride. Motorcycles are the only way to truly enjoy the Ride to the Sun Road. We had been warned that because of road construction it could take all day. That is probably true on weekdays; after all there are only two seasons in Montana, Winter and Road Repair. We went through on a Saturday. There were no work crews but miles of construction zones complete with warning signs.

Motorcycles Proceed with Extreme Caution.

Our one delay, five minutes at a red light where a landslide was being repaired with only room for one way traffic.

As much as we raved about the Northern Cascades, they don’t hold a candle to Glacier Park.

Glacier
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Glaciers carved these valleys.

2 ½ hours after entering the park, we exited via East Gate.

Despite all the warnings about wildlife the only thing I saw was a grouse jump in front of a jeep. Unbelievably it wasn’t killed. It ran back out between the front and rear tires, sans tail feathers. It left a pile of feathers in the roadway.

JAK says that he saw a young brown bear. His story is that the bear began to cross the roadway about five miles west of East Gate, saw the motorcycle, and jumped back into the woods. JAK hit the brakes and pointed to the road side. I saw his brake lights and him pointing. This wasn’t the only “invisible” critter that JAK saw.

After leaving the park, it wasn’t much more than a half hour before we hit the plains. What a letdown after all the beautiful scenery we had been experiencing.

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Our last 90 miles was pretty much like this. Pulling into Great Falls we headed to Motel 6. “Sorry we are booked up.”

I asked; “Do you know of any motels with vacancies?”

“Everywhere is pretty much sold out, but I think there is one room at the Super 8.”

JAK and I experience de j’vue. We head for the Super 8. Across the lot is a Best Western. I look at JAK and say; “What the heck, let’s check.”

JAK waited outside while I went inside. I got in line for the one agent working. Another agent opened, as I move to his position, I hear the first agent tell the couple who had been in front of me; “I’m sorry we don’t have any rooms.” Crap!

My agent said; “Let me check.” He plays with the computer; “One with a king, and one with two queens.”

Life can throw you a bone at times. This was one of those times.

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Filed under A Great Ride - 2012, Motorcycle