Interesting People

I am always amazed at some of the strange places I meet interesting people. I talked to this older guy at work today for a while. He is a welder. I see him around, but never really talk to him much. Not really sure what made me talk to him today. I’m not sure how we got on the topic, but he told me a story about how he was fed up with everything in 1977, he was 30 then, he had just gotten divorced. He took the little bit of cash that he had and bought a brand new Honda CB500 and took off from Iowa. He decided to head to Alaska. For the next 5.5 months he rode his bike for a total of 16,000 miles. It is 2900 miles between San Francisco and New York to put this into perspective.

My first question was whether he took a lot of pictures. He didn’t carry a camera because he didn’t feel that he had room for it. He just took the necessities. A sleeping bag, a tent, some clothes and a rifle in a case. I guess in 1977 it was not a big deal to carry a rifle in a case on the back of your bike. He left from Iowa, went out West to Oregon, went up the coast to Alaska, rode all over Alaska 1600 miles of which was on gravel, rode back down the coast, came back home to Iowa for a few days, then road out to New Mexico for a few months. He finally came back to Iowa and started work where he is at now.

He said that he figured out that if you take a gas hose off of the pump, put the nozzle in your tank and then lift up on the hose you can get the gas that is left over in it. I guess he did that quite a bit to get gas. He worked in Alaska at a few salmon canneries for a couple days to make a few bucks. To get out of paying taxes on the income he used an invalid ssn and claimed 10 dependents. He said that the canneries treated you well, usually had breakfast for you every day and paid by the day.

He rode as long as he could through the days, when he got tired he would look for a decent place to set up his tent and camp out. He said that nobody ever hassled him.

He said that in Canada while riding down a highway he was charged by a moose. He was barely able to dodge it. We agreed that if the moose had hit him, it would have been the end of his trip.

He described riding through an ice storm at night on the Texas panhandle. He rode approximately 15 mph and held it straight. He joked that there were not too many other bikes on the road that night.

I encouraged him to write a book about his adventure, but he didn’t seem very interested.

I asked him if he planned his trip, or just woke up one morning and split. He said that “you can’t plan a trip like that”. “If you try to plan it, your life will be ruled by time and you will not be able to enjoy it”. I agreed. He added that “you could never do a trip like that in a few weeks, you need to have months.”

He asked me if I were planning on doing something similar. I told him that I would love to just wake up one morning, buy a new zx12r and hit the road. But, I don’t think my wife and kids would appreciate it very much. I said that the best I would probably ever be able to do would be a few week trip someplace. He didn’t think that would suffice.

He also did not think that a person could do a trip like that today. He thought that traffic had increased too much in most areas and that it wasn’t very safe to ride. And he also felt that a person would be hassled much more today.

I didn’t ask if he took notebooks and kept journals or anything like that. I really doubt it. It would be cool to do something like this and blog it via free wifi.

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