Well, we call this bad timing.
My daughter has to have knee surgery on the 17th of August. Going to significantly crack into the piggy bank for the trip to pay her deductible. I am hoping for the kindness of strangers and friends to help me make this trip now. I hate to ask, but I am kinda up against it this morning.
If you would like to help me make the trip, I would sure appreciate it.
(Those of you who ordered books last year do not fret… the book is still going to be made for you.)
WHY I DIDN'T GO LAST YEAR
I prepared for the trip. I know every mile of the road to go through. Planned gas stops, and made sure I had time for exercise and the making of photographs along the way. I hiked South Mountain, going to the top and working through my leg pains. I was walking 4 miles a day, and making great progress.
And then it started to fall apart in June, and I ignored it. Denied it is a better description. I must have just ‘pulled a muscle’ I rationalized. It’s nothing I can’t handle I told myself. And I persevered. Through July it didn’t get worse, but it didn’t get better.
I started doing some beginning Yoga. That was probably the moment when my ‘stupid’ was at the highest level. I just jumped into some ‘beginners Yoga’ class on a CD and exacerbated an already problematic back pain. The week before I was to leave, I was packing ice and heat on my back and seeing a doctor every other day for a back treatment,
I told myself that it would work itself out on the ride. That turned out to be overly optimistic… a lot overly optimistic.
Phoenix to Durango through the Mountains east of Window Rock, Arizona, then up through New Mexico to Colorado. A very long day, made longer by having to set up camp in the dark. This was a long day of riding, but I felt OK other than a nagging pain in my back when I was walking around,
Durango to Salida
Absolutely stunning part of the world. Incredible views, but now my left leg had started burning like a running injury (and no, I was not running). Midway through the day I went to a shopping plaza to pick something up. When I got off the bike, my left leg crumbled under me and I had to hold on to the bike for balance, The trek through the store was nearly torture as now both of my legs were screaming in pain.
Setting up camp that evening in Salida took three times as long as it should have because I could barely walk. When it came time to go to sleep, I couldn’t sleep for the shooting pains in my left leg and butt. Crawling around on the floor of the tent proved as difficult as walking.
Started out pretty good, and I thought that maybe the muscles had worked their issues out, and I was on the mend. However, a few miles from camp I decided to stop for a photo and getting off the bike was excruciatingly painful. Getting back on was no less painful. I knew at that moment that I may be looking at scrubbing the mission.
A little past Monarch Pass I stopped to take a photo, and when I stepped off of a rock my left leg again crumbled and I fell to the ground. Kept the Nikon in the air though… heh – always save the camera!
A couple of hours later I was stopped at a traffic light and my left leg crumpled again forcing me to drop the bike. A few other bikers helped me get it back to rubber down, but I knew that whatever was wrong, it was serious enough to look into – fast. I had one more leg-crumpling event that day. Just standing.
I called my wife and told her that it was over – and I needed to fly home. A friend (and Project 52 Member) offered his garage in Boulder, and I was happy I didn’t have to ride the bike more than an hour to his home. At this point, just handling the bike was a bit shaky, and I was feeling very unsure due to the weakness in my legs and back.
A trip to the ER in Denver led to an overnight stay in the world’s best hospital – and I am not kidding – The University of Colorado Hospital is simply amazing. They ran tests all night and ruled out the really scary stuff, settling on an acute and sever nerve damage in my lower spine (Sciatica… big time.)
They cleared me to fly, and home I came. And damn… that was a long 2 hours.
I now begin a second ‘journey’ – one of Physical Therapy to regain the ability to simply walk without too much pain. The plan of adding adventure photography to my photography genres is probably going to be put on hold. I think I may need to be more mobile than I am currently.
This leg thing has dramatically altered my life – it started years ago, and was exacerbated by the DVT and PE’s three years ago. I must get healthier to resume my work.
Anyway, ya’ll…. I thought you would want to know. I am not whining, nor am I angry. I am disappointed, as you can imagine, but I am also grateful that I made the right choice and didn’t try to go one more day. The doctors all agreed that could have led to spinal injuries that would have quite possibly been unreversible.
I am hoping to get back to enough strength to go get my motorcycle, but if not I will have it shipped back to me here. Whether I can continue to ride or not remains to be seen. The doctors in Colorado were non-committal.
I wanted a life changing adventure of the road, the incredible environment of Alaska. I got a different kind of life-changing adventure to begin. One that may have longer reaching implications on all that I do.
To those of you who were following along, thank you. I hope you are not disappointed in me but instead find that no matter what the outcome, every day is a gift of discovery.
There will be more days to discover… and I want to take full advantage of every one of them.
YES, I WILL TRY AGAIN AND I WILL GO TO ALASKA BY MOTORCYCLE.
Phoenix to Fairbanks on a Motorcycle is my adventure for 2016. Combination road trip, and adventure travel, I plan on making the trip up and back in 34 days. Along the way I want to meet the people who ‘trek’, other road trippers, adventurers, and the fun people that make a road trip so exciting. I am riding a 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 Nomad V-Twin Cruiser. Along the journey, I will be making daily posts on this journal, as well as videos, photographs and more. If anyone wants to join me on parts of the ride, you can check out the daily maps as we go, and find many ways to connect. I will be posting here, on Instagram and Snapchat.
It started out as a idea one year ago, and now it is coming together. Alaska – here I come.
TIME TO DEPARTURE:
... is fun, of course. This page is very helpful. Alaska has this handy site - app too. The Yukon has this useful Twitter feed. This is a good page of ALCAN related info. If you know of any more resources, please let me know. Looks like lots of campgrounds, plenty of...
... As I see them. Part One: Phoenix to Watson Lake. Taking the Colorado Route, and then up through the Tetons and into the Colorado Rockies. Riding the mountains whenever possible should be much cooler, although it may involve more rain. Part Two: Watson Lake to...
I am thinking I may leave Sunday afternoon so I can get a bit of a jump on the heat of the ride to Durango. Possibly stay in Greer, or Alpine and then have a nice 5 hour ride into Durango on Monday. Or I may stay and just leave really early on Monday, and tough it...
Well, I am down to a month before I pull out of the driveway and head north... for 15 days. The trip is feeling mighty real now. I needed to do one more shakedown cruise to make sure I had this camping thing down. I didn't. Megan to the rescue. Megan is a...
My good friend Dennis Mong decided to move back to Ohio to pursue his dream of photography in a new, more vibrant area. I decided to see him and his son off with a ride along with them as they left Arizona and began the journey back to where his wife and daughter were...
I have done a few small, one day rides around the southern part of AZ to get more familiar with the bike. I think that is part of the planning stages. It is a big motorcycle, and it is still a little new to me, so finding out how it performs on a longer trip - as well...
Where I bought my bike: AZ Auto RV. Great guys to work with and no “salesy” approach at all. Just guys who love to ride and want to make sure you LOVE riding the bike you want. GREAT PRICES TOO – ask for Craig.
Where I learned to ride (again). After 40+ years off a bike, I thought it was a good idea to refresh the basics of riding. I was right and Curt and Steve were really amazing instructors. Thanks to Team Arizona.
I got most of my riding gear at Chandler Harley Davidson. Yeah, I know I don’t ride a Harley at the moment, but I will. The riding accessories are top notch and the people at the store rock. Try ’em out.