Saturday, April 10, 2021

Goodbye Bob Peek, R.I.P.

 Wednesday this week, I learned of the passing of a fellow sidecar rider and friend: Bob Peek, of Wasilla, Alaska.

He leaves behind his lovely wife Sharon, who rode with him in the sidecar of a BMW GS rig called The Raven.

I first met Bob and Sharon during my ride to Alaska back in 2013, they'd generously offered me a place to stay while I rode south from RichardM's place in Fairbanks, headed eventually to Homer, AK.  It was the 5th of May and the first time we saw each other was in the dusk of a rainy evening.  It had taken two attempts to get to Wasilla, but it would prove a worthy endeavour.

Bob and Sharon saw me, a stranger who they'd communicated with online, knowing me only from my blog activity, sitting on my rig in the pouring rain and still took me in and made me welcome in their home.  LINK

Bob and Sharon, consumate hosts that they were, would take me on a car ride the next day to see the local sights near Wasilla: LINK

Bob and Sharon at Hatcher Pass


Bob's Rig


Here's a link of the ride Bob and I did to check out Hatcher Pass: LINK, check out the videos to see Bob's rig in motion.

Bob and our rigs at Hatcher Pass

Then there was another ride to Steven's Point, following Bob and his rig in this continuing exploration of the Wasilla area:  LINK.  I was spending some time at their home you see, as I waited once again on parts and repairs to be done on Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol.

Near Steven's Point with Bob and the loaner rig from Mickey
the Ural dealer in Anchorage

Here's a picture of Bob and Sharon, as I said goodbye to them on my way to Valdez, AK....


The last ride I did with Bob was going to the Sidecar Meet in Talkeetna, Alaska....RichardM would join us there with his rig:  LINK

Talkeetna Sidecar Meet

Though we stayed in touch of course, Bob and I wouldn't meet up again until a bit over five years later, as Martha and I traveled by train (mostly) from Seward to Fairbanks.  We met up with Bob and Sharon at some hotel we were staying at and caught each other up on our lives.  LINK



I was sad to hear of Bob's passing and Martha and I send our deepest condolences to his lovely wife Sharon.  Another fellow rider has ridden off into the sunset....

Note: Bob tried his hand at blogging:  AlaskaPeeks, though he didn't get into it as I did (and saved him a whole bunch of time I am sure), I invite you to peruse it to get to know the man in the pictures.

The etymology of Goodbye: God be with Ye....

Goodbye Bob....

Monday, April 05, 2021

Home for a bit...

 94 days so far this year of 2021, and I've camped 66 days of it.  70%, not bad....

Home for now as of today.

Dropped off the Samurai at the shop in Parker, they're a bit short-handed right now in terms of mechanics but eventually they'll deal with her current electrical gremlins.  I also handed them the replacement ECM (Electronics Control Module) (used) that I got from Highway83 Suzuki Samurai, a shop that specializes on these beast and their upkeep.

There's a couple of honey-do tasks to be done around the house of course, so I'll have plenty to do I am sure.  There's motorcycles to be exercised and possibly serviced,  the readying the trailer to take Scarlett the 2014 Ural Patrol out on for the next trip, planning for the camping trip.

Here's pictures of yesterday's sunset, on my last night at the San Luis Lakes SWA (State Wildlife Area).  Note: Though the campground is accessible, as is the larger of the lakes, the rest of the SWA is closed to the public from FEB 15 to JUL 15 to protect nesting waterfowl areas.  

At the boat ramp in the SWA....water level is a bit low....




I am not sure when's the next time the Sammy will go out exploring on one of my camping trips, she's going to have to prove more reliable.  If you've read along in my travels over the last few years, you know I like to wander into the hinterlands, alone, and managed to return mostly without issues.

Trouble is, with a car, recovery can be a lot tougher when driving alone.  I've been lucky so far when my motorcycles have broken down; I'm just not sure that luck is going to keep holding up when it comes to the Samurai.

More to follow on the Samurai to be sure....I'm also not sure four-wheeling is going to bring the same enjoyment to my explorations as when on two or three wheels....it's too much like being in a car driving down a bumpy road.


Saturday, April 03, 2021

Dunes and Shadows

Spent most of the day hanging out at the VRRV, checking some electrics on Mariko (yep, another short circuit involving the headlights this time), and verifying what worked with the ECM disconnected.

Tried but could not locate the short for the headlights so now planning on dropping off the Sammy with the mechanic in Parker, CO for him to troubleshoot.  Have also found the quick disconnect for the positive terminal of the battery tends to "lose connectivity" randomly, am going to ask the mechanic to eliminate it as it's no longer required.

I'll also have the mechanic hook up the replacement ECM, this to ensure it's not something I might cause beforehand.  The ECM is due at home Monday evening, so hoping to be able to drop off the Samurai on Tuesday afternoon.

Anyways, enough of that shit, I rode out on Yagi shortly after 4PM to see what the late afternoon sun did for shadows among the dunes of the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

From Ponderosa Point along the Medano Creek Primitive Road

Looks like a couple of climbers made it up to the top of the first
dune I tried to get to yesterday!



Riding back towards the main dune access area


See the guy atop the dune, near the center?

Looks like he was taking a selfie!


While posing Yagi near the main dune access area, a spot of
white caught my attention....look up and to the left of Yagi...

Yep, looks like a new bride, getting her post-wedding pics



Another "can you see" the folks on the top....


On the way out of the park:




Tonight's sunset was a bit better than yesterday's sunset I believe:


Friday, April 02, 2021

Hiking the dunes of the Great Sand Dunes National Park

 Well, I got my exercise today, I elected to try and climb the dunes more to the north side of the Great Sand Dunes, away from the maddening crowds along the southern edge of the dunes.

It was mid-morning by the time things had warmed up enough but not too much to allow me to do the hiking in relative temperature comfort.  The light however, was very flat.  Sorry.

I tried to reach one peak first, found my way barred by very steep sloping sand and instead wandered further north, traversing dunes till I got to other end where I almost made it to the top of that dune, but not quite.  I had this dread of falling and sliding after having made my way up to the top of the dune you see....


The above marks the highest point I achieved today, I must have spent a good three hours probably more wandering about trying to find the least sloping path!  The parking area where I left Yagi was about 500 feet lower, where it says Mendano Creek on the screenshot above.

Here's a couple of Google Earth captures to give you a better idea:



I couldn't see the parking area from the highest point I got to, otherwise I would have tried for a shot just to give you an idea.  Probably all the huffing and puffing I was doing was interfering with thinking about composing pictures.





Hopefully you get an idea of the steepness involved with some of the dunes.
This is looking up after having negotiated the way down....


Once I made it back to Yagi safely, I rested for a bit, had a snack and then geared up again to ride out of the Medano Creek Trail.  I stopped by the Visitor Center (don't bother, it's not worth it) but did take the below pic of the more crowded area for dune climbing.


Later on, back at camp, after some much needed rest.  I walked along the wide banks of the San Luis Lakes:


The same mountain range, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, later on as the sun was setting low on the horizon....see the dunes there?  


Tonight's sunset was OK, at least there were some clouds.  Not that I'm complaining, lack of clouds mean lots of sunshine!  Today was pretty nice with highs in the high 60s but the winds cooled things down somewhat at times.  It's supposed to be warmer tomorrow, hopefully.


Thursday, April 01, 2021

Camping near the Great Sand Dunes National Park

 Yep, back in Colorado after a very long day of driving yesterday.  The original plan had been to boondock at some BLM land in New Mexico near Angel Peak.

The site has been taken over by oil tanks/rigs/machinery, I'm guessing they got the mineral rights from the BLM and are developing the site?  Regardless, no campsites now, and I wasted an hour or so driving in and back out from the highway south of Farmington, NM!

So I kept going on US64, turning north on NM 17 eventually I discovered chosen US Forest Service campgrounds still covered in deep snow and I crossed over two passes, Cumbres and La Manga.  There was deep snow on the sides of the road but thankfully, the pavement was dry!

Now I was in Colorado and soon I ended up in Alamosa, at the Walmart there, where I would spend overnight in the parking lot.  I was the only RV there too, which was surprising.

This morning, I drove the VRRV towing the still broken Samurai the 23 miles or so to the San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area and secured a nice pull-through spot in Loop A.  They even provide electricity and all for the cost of a Colorado Fishing License; which is the price one must pay to use State Wildlife Areas these days.

Those are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Once camp was setup, I rode Yagi (good old reliable Yagi) to check out a couple of BLM sites about 15 miles away.  The one called Sacred White Shell Mountain BLM was basically just flat land that was near the base of Blanca Peak, the southernmost peak of the Sangre de Cristo Range.

Then I checked out the Zapata Falls Campground, you ascend a rough and rocky road to the campground so there's quite a change in altitude.  The camp sites were kind of small and the road condition being what it was, I didn't even check for cellular signal.

There was quite the amount of road work ongoing so the road condition might get better when they're done. 

I skipped the hike to the actual Zapata Falls, but it seemed quite popular as the small parking lot at the trail head was full of cars.

Next was an excursion into the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.  I motored around and found what was labeled as a "primitive road" which took me about five miles further north, paralleling the Mendano Creek which borders the sand dunes basically on their east side.  The last mile or so was quite sandy!



I stopped at a picnic spot located near a pit toilet building called the Sand Pit, parked Yagi and walked a nearby dune to see what I could see:

Pano of the view from near the Sand Pit

As I was looking around, thinking this might be a doable spot for me to try some sand dune hiking tomorrow; I spotted a guy near the top of the steeper sand dunes to the north of me.

Can you see the guy?


I made it back out of the Primitive Road but not before a shot of the sand dunes where appropriate:


One last view of the sand dunes, near the park entrance:


Back at the campground:



Near sunset, I walked to the nearby lake as I'd spotted some water fowl moving about.  I got as close as I dared without spooking them and then used the zoom function on my camera.  Note: below photos have also been scaled up and post-production work applied.





I've no idea what kind of birds they are but I thought their narrow pointing bills were kind of cool and apparently used to burrow into the sand under the water's surface.

Tomorrow, it's supposed to be a few degrees warmer than today's high of 62 degrees, so it'll be better for hiking up the wind swept sand dunes, hopefully.