“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – Wilber, Alfred and Albert Ride to Alaska

Wilber, Alfred and Albert Ride to Alaska

It was in 1962 all three decided it was time to ride their motorcycles to Alaska. They have dreamed of riding to Alaska since they came home from the Korean War. They read of many other riders riding up the Alaska Highway. They knew it would not be a piece of cake. They worked on their motorcycles all winter in whatever spare time they had. All three have so many projects they’re working on. Besides running their farms then there is Jumper. He will only let just a few people take care of him. Wilber said lets get Ruthie and Evelyn to watch our farms and take care of Jumper. Other than us three there really is only one Jumper we’ll take care of him. Old jumper loved these ladies.

So they first got that out of the way. Their farms would be in good hands, Jumper would be in good hands. They had the motorcycles in top condition. Wilber decided he would ride his 1934 Indian 74” now an 80” with the sidecar. Using the sidecar they could take all their camping gear, spare tires, and parts. Alfred and Albert decided they would ride their 1936 Harley side valve. These were 74” now 80” they had converted the oil system, 5-6 years ago: They built special heads; big cylinders came out of Kansas. The lower ends were built by S & S out of Wisconsin about the best you can buy. They had put big 510 X 16” wheels on years ago. They made sure all wheels on all three bikes took 16” wheels and tires. This way they could get by taking 3-4 spare tires. All three bikes had large solo seats with the seat post for springing. All three cycles were converted from 6V to 12V years before. They took along spare chains, spark plugs, coils, ignition, points, generator brushes, light bulbs. They had been working on the list of parts to take all winter, also the tools they would need. Now they would have to set the date to leave, they spent all winter on their route. It looked like they were ready to ride. They figured they would be gone 4 to 6 weeks. They allowed 6 weeks if it took less, good.

It was June 20th 1962, 6 o’clock, the sun was out. It looked like it would be a beautiful day, like so many days in the Black Hills and Western S.D. Wilber had agreed to be road Captain, Alfred would follow then Albert would follow. All three bid goodbye to Ruthie and Evelyn. They all gave Jumper a big bear hug when they left. Wilber turned his head looked back, he could see big tears in old Jumpers eyes. Don’t tell me animals don’t have feelings, old Jumper was part of their family. They rode out of the prairies got on Highway 85 and headed north. They planned on stopping for gas and eat only. They all knew they had a long ways to go. They had figured the trip could be between 7000-8000 miles, many real hard going; it was a good thing all three were in very good condition. Wilber set the pace, 60 mph on all 2-lane roads, 4-lane, they would cruise at 65-70 at these speeds they should average 40mpg maybe even 45 pulling a sidecar always take more gas. They had 2 large cans of gas on the two solo bikes. They stopped in Belle Fourche, gased up, and checked all 3 bikes over. All bikes looked good. Wilber said lets eat in a café for lunch. Albert said lets, we all got plenty money! There will be plenty of times we will have to cook our meals. We road to Buffalo, gassed up, again checked the bikes over. Albert seen this nice little café, so they rode over to the café, parked in front, lots of old farmers around, one old dude said where you three think you’re going on those old bikes. Wilber popped up Alaska and as far north as we can get. The dude looked the bikes over, said I be willing to bet you guys won’t make it to North Dakota. All three said you don’t know us three. Our bikes run beautiful; we’ll see you on our way back 4-6 weeks from now.

They had a good meal, got on their bikes and rode off. They stayed on 85, stopped at Watford City, N.D., gassed up, and again checked their bikes over. Albert said let’s stop at Williston N.D. fix a lunch head west on 2, this is a good but narrow road going west. They made it to Williston, all agreed they were a little tired, said lets find a park camp out get a good nites sleep, leave early next day. So they found a small park, set their camp up, ate lunch, big roast beef sandwich and all had a bottle of their home made beer. They fell asleep fast. Soon Albert’s alarm clock went off. It was 5:30 they got up, packed their gear. Wilber said let’s head out look in the sky west of us. It looked like rain clouds. They had gassed up nite before. So off they rode, just out of Poplar, Montana the rains came. They pulled over got their rain gear on, old Alfred said, man I hate riding in rain, but let’s get going, they made it to Glasgow, gassed up, Albert said look the sun’s coming out. It quit raining so they took their rain gear off, and off they rode. They rode to Havre, Montana still on 2. They had planned on going to Shelby go north on what is now freeway 15. At Sweetgross, they had to cross into Canada. The Canadian Mounted Police had to check their bikes over. They all had the proper papers ready the one officer said you fellows been in Canada before? That’s nice you have all your papers in order and where you can get at them in a hurry. They asked Wilber, Where you men headed? When he said Alaska the one officer said 2 young men on New Harley’ s came thru here just 2 days ago. They also said they were going to Alaska, just maybe you’ll see them on the road. So off they rode, all bikes running like new. They had also installed large oil coolers on their bikes, because they knew it could get hot in July and August. They wanted these engines to run cool as possible. They stopped at Lethbridge. They seen this motorcycle shop so they rode over, all stopped, went inside see all the new Harley’s, they also sold Honda’s. One young salesman said you old fanners want to trade those old bikes in on new ones Old Alfred said no thanks our bikes are better than new. They only look old. The salesman said you’re right there, they do look old. He asked just how old are they. When they told him, he said, may god go with you. You will need the Lord with you if you think you can ride to Alaska and back. But then he said I didn’t mean no harm, you fellows have a good ride to Alaska. If you stop on your way back, show me some pictures of Alaska, on your bikes. I’ll put you up in the best motel in town for the night and buy you all the biggest steak in town. They thanked him and rode off. Wilber said before leaving let’s stop set up camp just this side of Calgary. We can fill up the next morning. So off the three rode, old Wilber was getting a little tired riding the side car and asked Alfred if he would ride the side car for few hundred miles. Old Alfred said hey I been waiting for you to ask me. They found a nice campsite few miles south of Calgary. They set up their tents, ate some of that good Buffalo meat, they had with them, drank a beer, and soon were in LA-LA land.

They looked out of their tents the next morning it was raining, coming down pretty hard. Old Albert said, let’s stay here till the rain stops or at least till it comes down a little slower, so, they stayed in their tents couple hours. Soon old Albert said let’s go, it’s not going to stop for hours maybe days. So they packed all their gear all three had put their rain gear on. Off they rode, headed for Red Deer. I once watched a wonderful hill climb, out of Red Deer, it was a run on a ski run, they rode their bikes side by side up the hill and it was long, it was a wonderful climb. Old Evil was jumping cars at half times. He put on a real show, forgot how many cars he jumped. They got to Red-Deer, gased up, had cookies, drank some water, said let’s head for Edmonton, we’ll get on 43 north, let’s plan on stopping at Grande Prairie, Alfred was now riding the sidecar rig. He loved riding the sidecar; old Wilber had built a real good powerful engine, at least for an old Indian. They rode on 43 north, stopped at Grande Prairie, topped off their tanks. Old Albert had been keeping track of the gas they each used. He had a small book, just for this, (I do the same thing). The solo bikes were getting a good 44 miles to the gallon. The sidecar not too good 35 mpg but the car was loaded down good. The rain had stopped quite a few miles back. They were on their way to Dawson Creek. They planned on camping out if they could find a good park. First they topped the bikes off. All bikes had been running really good. They were all three happy with the way the bikes were running and what a good trip it had been so far. After few hours they got to Dawson Creek. Wilber said let’s fill up check our bikes over then find a campsite. While filling up Albert noticed a sign cabins $40.00. He said hey that a good price, we can sleep in a real bed get a hot shower. Let’s spend a few dollars so they got a nice cabin 3 nice single beds that was just wonderful. Old Wilber lay down on his bed said hell man don’t wake me for couple days, but they all go up before dawn. Alfred said let’s eat so they walked over to a small café. They noticed 3 late model Harley’s in front. So in they went seen a nice big booth, sat down boy what a beautiful girl cam over to them said boys I’m your waitress, what can I get for you? They checked the menu over, all ordered fish, Big Salmon Steaks with all the trimmings. While eating, Albert noticed one of the bikers were looking over at them. He came over asked where we were headed for. When they heard Alaska, they said, hey man that’s where we are headed and asked where we staying, Wilber said just across the street, they said hey that’s where we are bedding down. Just then the beautiful waitress came over asked anything else I can get for you boys? Old Albert said yes, why don’t you come see us tonight; we are just across the street. Old Wilber pops up, you crazy old man. What she needs is a young buck. She pops up, I like old men if they got lots of money and are headed for Alaska. Albert said come see tonight. We hit the hay by 9:00 so we’ll see you then. They paid their bill and walked back to the cabin, Wilber said I’ll bet you five dollars she never shows. Alfred said I’ll bet $20.00 she never shows. They got ready for bed; all took a good shower, turned the radio on, no TV, believe it or not. They picked up Art Bell over a station in Edmonton. They all hit the hay, listened to the radio, soon all had fallen asleep.

Morning came fast. They got up, all said boy what a good nights sleep they had. Wilber said hey what ever happened to that waitress, no one said anything. Albert looked outside they all packed up. The sun was out, not yet warm, it really was cool out. Wilbur always carried another motor with him, he had it bolted to the side of the side car. It said 38 above so all put on heavy clothes big heavy gloves. They were now on 97 next stop Fort Nelson they rode out of town happy old men. About two hours passed it started to get warmer so they stopped at a small town Trutch. They topped their tanks off all got rid of those heavy clothes and gloves. Albert said it’s going to get hot in couple hours. We can use a little heat; they rode off for Fort Nelson about 2 miles out, here comes 3 motorcycles. They passed Wilber, Alfred and Albert. When they went by that beautiful waitress was on one of the Harleys as it passed. The girl yelled, hey old timers, I got me a ride to Alaska, and with a young buck. She smiled and sped away really going fast, Wilber rode up to 70mph those young riders was out of sight. So Wilber slowed down to 60 M.P.H.. It was now really warm out. They made it to Fort Nelson, topped their tanks off, and checked the bikes over. Wilber noticed the rear tire of his Indian was low, so he checked it over, filled it back up to 36 lbs., said to Albert, who was watching, I’ll have to watch the tire when you’re behind me, check my tire while riding. Albert said ok, I’ll do that old buddy. He said let’s stop at Watson Lake, fill up, eat something. So off the three rode. After 3 hours they got to Watson Lake. They pulled into a Texaco station, filled up, etc. Old Wilber noticed a bike, with the rear wheel off. They all went over to check. Hey Albert says it’s one of the bikes that passed us, with that girl on one of the bikes. They noticed only one bike, soon a young man came out of the station, asked Wilber you wouldn’t happen to have a spare belt I could buy, his rear belt had broke. Wilbur said nope, we all use chains; we got 2 extra chains, lots of master links, oil, etc. The young man said now what am I going to do? Wilber said you’re not going to find a belt out here. He had a front belt on his Harley. Watch for a truck to haul you to Whitehorse, see if there’s a Harley dealer there. They rode off, all hated to leave the young man stranded, his two buddies had rode off and left him.

They were now on Highway 1. Whitehorse was only 100 some miles away at least that’s what one driver had told -them back in Watson Lake. They made it to Whitehorse no problem. The tire on Wilber’s sidecar was old, it had lost no air. They found a nice campsite, all three agreed to stop early today. They set up camp. Albert agreed to cook the meal. He fixed nice big steaks they had bought back in Watson Lake. They had a real nice campsite. Albert said I could stay here for couple days. But Wilber said let’s ride over to Haines Junction tomorrow. I’ve heard a lot about that town. So they all had a good nites sleep. They got up a little late it was 8:30 before they got going. They had been taking a lot of pictures on their trip. They planned on having a big barn dance and big feed when they got home sometime in next month or two. They all agreed they had a wonderful trip, no problems, other than rain and motorcyclists are used to rain, sooner or later. You run into rain. God only knows how many times in last 55 years I’ve got wet, waited just to long to put rain suit on or the rain came so fast, I didn’t have time to put it on.

They got up early next day at 7:00, off they rode for Haines and they got to Haines in no time. They found a nice campsite. Set their tents up said lets spend a day or so here, it’s really nice out. So after sight seeing picture taking, they packed up and rode off for Beaver Creek, next stop. They got there no problem they topped the tanks off. Old Albert said man we been paying high prices for gas all through Canada now Alaska. Alfred said well that’s what we figured before we started. That old man in North Dakota told us to expect high gas prices and food. He was right. But all three had plenty of money had been saving for this trip all winter. Besides we’ll sell a couple cows when we get home, help pay for this wonderful trip. All three were really happy they had taken this trip. It was nothing like the trip they had rode to Texas and Mexico back in 1955. That’s a real story, maybe I’ll write about it some day.

They rode out of Beaver Creek headed to Tok Junction then on to Fairbanks. They made it to TOK Junction no problem. They noticed a lot of out of state cars, even a few motorcycles. They took more pictures, ate, sight seeing then Albert pops up lets go. So they packed up and left. Headed for Delta Junction. they made it to Delta Junction, no problem. Wilber noticed the rear tire on the sidecar was getting worn down fast. He said I think I’ll have to change tires in couple hundred miles. They made it to Delta Junction. Gas up, all three agreed they would eat in a café today. So they found a really nice small café. Fish and chips special $2.50 remember this is 1962, prices were much lower then. One could buy a new Harley for $2,200 or so. Look what one cost today. Boy did all 3 enjoy the fish and chips. They use real potatoes up north not that frozen crap most fast foods use today. They left Delta Junction; Wilber said he was going to change the rear tire when he got to Fairbanks. Well, they made it. They asked a man in a gas station where the Harley shop was. He told them it was easy to find. The owner looked like an old miner. He had a beard, long hair, not like the Harley dealers dress today. But, this was Alaska; all things are different up here. The Harley dealer let Wilber use his shop to change the tire. He looked all 3 bikes over good, said I’d like to hire you 3, if you can build those old bikes to hold up and run as good as they do. He said some of you old timers are ok. Wilber got the tire changed asked the owner of the Harley store, if he’d like a bottle of real beer. He said matter of fact I would after I close shop tonite I’ll buy you all a big steak and drink your special beer. So that’s what they did. Bill, the owner of the Harley shop said man what wonderful beer you should bottle this and sell it. They just said no, I don’t think so. Old Bill had a wonderful time with the three riders from the Black Hills. They drank till wee hours, shot the bull, ate, danced and had a wonderful time. Old Bill hated to see the three go. They were his kind of people, just plain ol hay seeds. All 3 had a good nites sleep, didn’t get up till noon. Wilber said don’t say anything of this nite to !4 Ruthie when we do get home. She would be jealous. They finally got going by 1 o’clock. This was the latest they had got started since they left the hills. Old Bill told them stay on He gave them a good map of old roads and trails all the way to Barrow. That’s on the Artic Ocean. They figured it would take 4-5 days from Fairbanks. They bought an extra 5 gallon tank for gas. Bill had rode the old roads up north 3 years before; at least he said he did. He said some places no gas for 150 or more miles and no repair shops, no nothing but hard going, but all 3 agreed that’s what they wanted to do, so, off the rode.

They got on a trail which is now the Dotson Highway. Boy what trails, it had rained the road was really muddy; Alfred and Albert were having hard time stayin up. Course Wilber with the sidecar was having no problem. They made it to a small place a few people lived there. All Eskimos They knew nothing of the trails ahead. They were nice, but had no information about the road or trails ahead. They did say trucks come by once a week or two. They set up camp checked their bikes over real good. They figured to buy as much gas on the way as they could save theirs if they really need it. They paid $2.00 a gallon back in the Dakotas it was $.26 gallon. But who could say much. They all three had a good mtes rest and ate before they left. Wilber said we’re going to have to stock up on food next place we can buy it. They rode off the trails got better, it was not raining so that helped a lot. They rode only 300 miles next day, stopped at a small village, about 8— 10 people. It did have a place to buy gas and oil. High prices, but they knew that would be. They asked the man selling the gas if many cars or motorcycles came this far north. He said not many. I see a few trucks. Two big buses cam by four days ago, headed for Barrow. They had 6-8 people in each bus but lost of equipment and supplies. They bid the old man goodbye and rode off. They made 200 miles before Wilber ran out of gas. He had to use gas out of one can.; Alfred said let’s all top off. We’ll get gas next stop. So off they rode the trail was just dirt one lane, they had not seen a car or truck for now two days. After 2 more days they made it to Prudhoe Bay. There was a small café, hardware store, food store, yes gas, sold out of 30 gallon barrels. They gased up, ate, talked to a lot of workers. All the workers thought they were crazy to ride up there. Said they had only been two other motorcycles in last two years, one guy in a BMW riding around the world, they thought he was from Norway. The other rider had an Army 45” brand new, said he bought it in Seattle Army Surplus sale paid $450 for it. He was a really nut case. Really didn’t know up from down. He rode back toward Fairbanks. No one really knew if he made it or what had happened to him. They told Wilber look for an n old Army Bike on your way back. That nut case could have just walked off and let it. He had run out of gas 9 times since he had left Fairbanks. At least that is what he told them. One car driver told of seeing an Army bike in the back of a truck going south a few years ago. Big stories are told of most travelers that come north. But, then there are not many, or much else to talk about. Short wave radio was the only link with the rest of the world. Not much of that, some men asked how far you expect to go north; you’re on top of the world now. Albert asked how the road to Wainwright. One worker said man don’t try that the trail is muddy, narrow and seldom traveled. I would not even think of going there by 2 or 4 wheels. They usually fly supplies into those places. Please don’t try it. We’d like to think you made it home some day, but you try going to Wariwright and it could be your end of life. They all thought about it, took more pictures, voted on should we go farther or start back. Wilber said lets try it, Elfred said no, old Albert said I’ll go. So, we three left on that narrow cold trail out of Barrow. It was to be 150-200 miles. They had gone about 20 miles, no one else on the trial. They had hard going after 5 hours of hard riding both Albert and Alfred had fallen over 4 times, that’s more than since the started riding in the 1930’s. Wilber said that Enduro we rode on in Michigan in 1950, the old cow-Bell Endure, it was 500 miles long, but at least there was lots of riders riding the Endure. At least if you broke down, there was other riders to help you. Here just 3, no one else. They pulled up to a old store, parked their bikes, went inside, the owner a old man came out and said how in the world did you three ride here? That trails been shut down year ago. Elbert said no wonder we seen no one. We were the only ones on that trail. They talked asked a lot of questions there was maybe 8-10 people in the village. All said, No good further, don’t even try going back to Barrow. Big snow storm coming in next day or so. They looked up at the sky. It was dark, did not look. Wilber asked is there a place we could stay over few days till we decide what to do. Old Albert, the one who seemed to make the best sense, said, let’s vote again, but I’ll say with Gods help, just maybe we can make it back to Barrow in a few days then head south as fast as we can. I don’t want to get stranded up here. They all agreed to go back but to stay over for few days if they could find a place to sleep. One old man was so happy to hear they would not be going further. He said I got old shed you can stay in. So they took him up on the offer. It was not really bad, big place to put the bikes in out of the weather, sleep in their sleeping bags on the floor, not bad. They stayed for four days, really got to know the people. Enjoyed their stay, the food was just plain food. Fish, few potatoes, canned vegetables, no milk, coffee was ok, and Wilber broke out a case of his special beer. Boy did those villagers like that most got loaded. Shot the bull and sang songs till wee hours of the nite. Two more days passed the sun came out. The old short wave radio said it should be nice next 5 .-6 days. Weather in Barrow would get up to 55-60. So all three said we gave our best let’s head back. So they bid good-bye to those wonderful people and rode off. Old Wilber had promised to send 2 cases of his beer to them. It may take 6 months or more to get there air freight is high but about the only way. The sun was out the riding not bad they could ride along 25-30 M.P.H. in 2nd and 3rd gears most of the time. They had gone about 40 miles when the rear tire on Alfred’s bike blew. He got the bike stopped. All three help got it on the rear stand after they found some old boards to put under the stand. It kept sinking in the mud. They finally got the wheel off, got their tire tools out. Alfred was laying on the ground trying to get the tire off the rim. All of a sudden the tire tool fly off into the air, two more tools went flying thru the air, Wilber said, hang onto the tools. Put all other tools in the saddle bags. Albert said we are just too close to the pole, that gravity is so powerful up here its hard to believe old timers had told them of the. They finally got the tire fixed installed, new tube, saved the old one, they would patch it later. They rode off, the sun was out it was 56 above not bad. After 5 more hours no more problems they made it back to Barrow. All the old timers could not believe they had rode all that way. They rested up, filled all gas tanks, stocked up on food, bid all goodbye and off they rode. The going was not bad, it had not rained for a few days and the sun was out drying everything up. After 2 ‘/2 days they made it to Prudhoe, Bay. They stayed over for a day, rested up, checked the bikes over really good, they were really surprised that the only problem they had had was the tire. They were out some tools but that was not bad. They had traveled over 4,700 miles since they left their homes. Now they had a good 4,000 miles back, all depended on the route they would take. They wanted to get back to Anchorage then ride back to Haines get on a ferry to Prince Rupert, and head south. They found the going pretty bad, but no problems, how those old bikes could run so good no problems, was just amazing. Good thing they had chosen the side valve engines maybe not as powerful as the over head valve engines but much more reliable. The old side valve will just run and run. I know of some going for years with no problems. They met only one car and 3 trucks until they made it back to Livengood. Eight hundred miles took 3 1/2 days good thing they had gas but good thing they stopped that truck going north, he had gas $3.00 gallon but they were happy to get it. After seeing old Bill the Harley dealer in Fairbanks showing him pictures of where they had been, no one wanted to believe they had rode that far north, and on those ol bikes, even new bikes could not of done this. But the pictures proved they had been that far north. Old Bill had copies of some of the pictures and put them up on his billboard in his store. They had to leave after spending 2 days with Bill they headed south on Highway 3, 300 some miles to Anchorage. First day was just wonderful all three felt that they had done something few had done. They rode for 3 hours stopped at a small town. Gassed up, checked their bikes over good. Everything looked good. They had been changing their oil every 2000 to 3000 miles. They all had good oil filter and coolers the engines were better than new. They stopped off at Mt. Kinsley Park. Rode up the mountain as far as the roads would go; took pictures. Old Alfred said man up here on this mountain we can see the whole world at least it looked that way. After two days they made it into Anchorage stopping at all kinds of place, they all three were really enjoying themselves. Old Wilber was glad to pay .40 cents for gas again, not like .26 per gallon in South Dakota but not $3.00 they had paid in Anchorage. They stopped at the old Harley store. Not much of a store not like the one they have now. But the dealer was nice they bought Harley oil, no filters, they had been using auto filters much cheaper. All three did not like big cities so off the rode going north on I . They stopped at Palmer, then Glennallen, after 2 days they were in Tok Junction; over 2 weeks had passed since they had been there. Their bikes were beginning to look really bad, mud and oil all over. They decided to at least get some mud and oil oil; so they bought 3 cans of gunk asked a guy at a service station if the could use his hose. He said sure go ahead. They washed those old bikes up so good Old Wilber said, man look they look new. Albert said I think you’ve been drinking again. They figured to ride to Haines get on a ferry to Prince Rupert then ride eat again. It would be nice to rest and see all the Islands and stop off in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, etc. They camped out of Tok Junction, rested good the weather was nice in the 70’s. They stayed on 1 stopped at Beaver Creek, gassed up, took off, stopped at Haines Junction, followed 3 and 4 then 7 into Haines, stayed over for 2 days, really enjoying the country, so much to see. They took many pictures. After 2 days they were on the ferry, headed south really loving that big ship, Wilber said 1St big ship we’ve been on since Korea, Alfred said yes but let’s not talk about the war. All three have seen all the war we every want to see. This is a big beautiful ship we got good rooms the food is really good, the girls aren’t the best, that little Blondie in that café was what you call beautiful. Most of the women on this ship are older; Alfred said what’s wrong with that you’re no spring chicken. No, but I still like the young good looking girls the best. Wilber said let’s go to the bar drink some beer, so off the 3 of them went. The bar was full, but one table was just being cleared so Albert went over to the waitress said we’ll take this table the girl said ok. I’ll have it cleaned in a sec. They all sat down, the waitress said now what can I get you? Wilber said three Coors, the best you have, she was a pretty girl maybe 20-21, all three got their eyes full, and she noticed them looking her over. Wilber said what’s your name beautiful? She said you men can call me Kitty, Albert said that a nice name, we have a Kittie back in South Dakota, but she’s not as cute as you. She brought them their beer, asked can I get you anything else, Wilber said, find us 3 good looking girls about 35-40 years old, she said boys this ship is full of women that age, course most have their old man with them.. She said you horny old men should go to Seattle they got plenty call girls you can have $35- 50.00. Wither said hey maybe we’ll pick 3 good looking ones, take them back to South Dakota. Albert said, yes Ruthie and Evelyn would really like that. We had better forget that, we’ll think about going to Seattle, big Cities are for the birds. We’re just old farm boys, big cities are for city dudes.

They drank their beers ordered three more. After drinking for 3 hours Alfred said let’s go back on deck. It’s too dull in this bar. Albert said, yes I’m tired of looking at old ladies. I thought Ruthie was ugly, but these old hags on this ship aren’t worth looking at. So they went up to the deck. Looked out to see it was getting dark, not much to look at. Albert said hey there having a movie in ‘/2 hour, let’s go see what it is, so all three went to the hail, the move was to be in. There was couple hundred older people already sitting down, so the three of them sat down to watch the movie. After a few days the ship pulled into Prince Rupert. They had all their gear on the bikes ready to ride. As on most ferries the bikes are the 1st ones off. So they rode off, 1/2 mile down the road Wilber pulled over said we’d better check the map, be sure we’re on the right road. At was 11:00 Wilber said we are on highway 16, let’s ride to Bums lake camp out for the nite, after 4 hours of riding they made Bums Lake. They seen a small roadside park, there was quite a few cars already parked there so they pulled in found nice place under a big tree, they set their tents up, parked their bikes close by, double locked them, they always carried a heavy chain and locked all three bikes together. They cooked some steaks, drank a couple beers, and lay down and went to sleep.

Morning seemed to come early. They looked out of their tents it was raining out, but not hard, Wilber said let’s put our raingear on. Albert said let’s see if we can put some miles on today, we been gone 22 days already the packed up and rode down that lonely road. It was not the best road, black top, but in poor shape. They rode as hard as they could 55-60 in most places, passing most cars. There seemed like quite a few trucks on the road, and they were moving slow. It’s hard passing on narrow roads, but they finally made it to Prince George, it was a busy place, cars motorcycles everywhere. It had stopped raining few miles back, so off came the rain gear. The filled their gas tanks up also the spare tanks now all filled up. Gas wasn’t bad here 50 cents gallon and in Canada at the time you got 5 quarts to a gallon. They talked to quite a few travelers. All said best road to go on is 97 goes south all the way to Washington. They rode off they had agreed to stop at the 1 good camp sight they could see the Frazer River from the road it was flowing real good. They most likely had lots of snow this past winter. After 3 hours riding they cam to a place along side the river, looked like a good place to set up camp. They pulled in under some good size trees, in about 1/2 hour they had their tents up, Elbert said I getting tired cooking let’s eat out tomorrow, all agreed. They had taken a good radio with them it had short wave. They turned it on picked up a good western station in Vancouver, BC that good old country music made them feel right at home. Soon they were all asleep. Alfred was the 1st one up, he yelled get up you old sleepy heads. The sun is out really going to be a nice day not a cloud in the sky. They packed up; we’ll try making Williams Lake. Have a good meal; enjoy our ride in Canada after few hours they pulled into Williams Lake, nice place. Real busy, course summertime is always busy. They found a small café, big sign outside said ham and eggs $1.50. They all ordered that with hot coffee, good water, so they filled all their jugs up before they left. They ate, rode over to service station, filled up and checked the bikes over. Elbert said look there’s a Harley with the rear tire and wheel off. They walked over no one around, just the Harley pulled in. You couldn’t believe who was on the buddy seat, that good looking little blondie they had met in a café two weeks ago. 1 thing the blonde said was I got myself a real man we’re riding to Seattle. Elbert said where’s your buddy? The fellow said he’s
trying to find some wheel bearings; they went out few miles out of town. They were making a loud noise, but we didn’t know it till we pulled the wheel off. Wilber said I know the bearings you need, any auto parts house will have them; you just can’t order them under the Harley parts number. Wilber rode off to find the fellow. He found him a Napa Parts Store. They boy was having, a hard time telling the parts man what he wanted. Wilber could see the kid was getting no where so he butted in told the parts man what bearing and seals to get. Wilber said come on I’ll give you a ride back; I’ll help you put the bearing in. I’ve done this many times. Wilber got that wheel on and had that poor kid happy as could be. The two boys and girl said we’ll ride with you guys for the day. So all five bikes rode off together a couple hours. They pulled into Kam Loops BC they all gased up. Wilber said I’d like to ride couple more hours. The two boys and the blondie said they were going to stick around town for the day, so they bid the boys good bye Wilber told the blondie, if you ever want to leave that boy you can come to South Dakota stay at my farm. He gave her his phone number. The two boys were in the store so they did not see what Wilber was doing. Wilber would really like to of had that blondie.

They rode out of town. Happy to be on the road another day they would be in the USA. They rode into Hope BC found a nice cabin. There was a small café near by, so they had a good salmon dinner. They looked the map over good. Figured they would ride on 1 to 95 good south on 95 pick up 1 go into Washington state. They all hit the hay early, got up early packed up, rode out of town. They made it to Highway 95 in couple hours. They turned south got to the border they had a hard time getting back into the stated. Had to dig up their papers on the motorcycles the officer could see they had done lots of work on their motorcycles. They sure were stock, but they all did have the correct motor numbers, etc. After 2 hours they were on highway 9 headed for Sedro Wooley. Good thinking they had extra gas with them as all three bikes ran out. After 2 more hours they rode into Sedro Wooley. They filled up all tanks and cans. They figured they could make it to Winthrop before dark, but at the same time they wanted to really enjoy the ride through the north cascades. They had read and heard a lot about the North Cascade National Park. They rode over to a café, ate a couple hamburgers, drank a lot of coffee, then were on the road. They made it to Concrete in no time, all relieved themselves, they had just drank too much coffee. They again gassed up. Off they rode soon they were in the park. Up-up-up they went it started to get cool. They made it to Diabi Lake, took many pictures, really loved the high mountains. They rode off pulled into Winthrop at 8:30 it was still light out, but just starting to get dark. They could find no motels, etc. So they pulled into a camp site set up camp, All fixed something to eat. Wilber said before we leave tomorrow we had all better check our rear chains, also we had better check the primary chains. They had a good nights rest got up at 6:30. All agreed they were still tired, but this was no place to spend a day laying over. So they checked the chains. It was a good thing they did. All three bikes needed new rear chains. They had rode on too many dirt and gravel roads it will really wert out the chains in a hurry. Besides old diamond chains never were worth 10 cents. You were lucky to get 6-8000- miles and on a side car 5000 is good. Good thing they had new chains with, they had bought a lot of chains in Rapid City. A big Honda dealer had a sale on chains, and these were the heavy duty Japan made chains, you could get twice the miles as Diamond. And you don’t have to stop to adjust near as much. I put one on my 1981 Harley 741 rode to California and back to Seattle did not have to adjust it once. Wilber said they would all have to replace the primary chains when they got home. The side car was really hard on chains and rear tires. They all got ready to leave and a state trooper pulled up really asked a lot of questions, a Canadian Report had come out to look for 3 motorcycles, 1 sidecar, 3 older men. Seems the little blondie had got in a fight with her new found boy friend. She told the police she wanted to find the 3 men from South Dakota. She said Wilber was her dad. She had made up a real story. She wanted to go back to S.D. with Wilber, her dad. After 2 hours they finally were cleared to leave the stated patrol officer, told them before they left. If 1 find out you guys are not telling the truth, I’ll call ahead have you all picked up. Good thing old Wilber had told the officer they were going to Okanogen they go south into Wenactchee, this he hope would throw the police off course. They finally were on their way. They turned north to Omak on 97 at. Tonasket picked up 20 going east. After a few hours they made it to Republic, found a nice cabin It was nice to take a good hot shower and sleep in a good bed. All three were getting tired sleeping on the ground. They spent the nite in that nice cabin, got up late 7:30 all gassed up checked the bikes over. Alfred and Albert cycles needed rear tires, so they rode to Colville. Weather was hot sun out, really nice riding, but all three were getting tired, would be happy to get home. They pulled into a gas station in Colville. They pulled the rear wheels off, installed new tires good thing they had those spares. They were now down to no extra tires had 3 extra tubes, they had been really lucky. No parts needed so far, tires and chains all three bikes still running as new. Wilber said lets try to make it into Idaho, before dark. So off they rode. They turned east at Newport, beautiful ride nice roads, they made it to Sand Point about 7:30 found a nice old cabin. Prices really good. So they spent the night in a nice bed. Morning came early 7 o’clock they rode out of Sand Point. Headed north to Bonners Ferry, which they would pick up highway 2 again they wanted to make it to Troy Montana but it was getting dark so they found a place out of Bonners Ferry to camp. Set up their tents. They knew it could rain over night so they just didn’t sleep in their sleeping bags as they had done in a few places. Setting up and taking down the tents can get tiresome. They at some cold food they had, all wanted a beer but the had drank all their beer up, no more home brew till they get back to their farms. All three had been looking forward to going thru Glacier Nat’l Park. So they got up early 6:00 they were on the road. Two hours they were in Kalispell, nice town, real busy, no Harley shop, few Japanese shops but they didn’t have time to screw around, going thru Glacier Park would take 3..4 hours alone. They ate gassed up, checked their bikes over and headed out on 2. They entered the park at West Glacier, boy what beautiful mountains, weather was nice so they were lucky. Going thru the park was slow, but so much to see, they went up up till they made it to the top. It looked just beautiful, those of you that have been thru the park will understand, It gets real cool at the top. They had to stop put on heavy jackets and gloves after four hours they came out of the park at Browning Here they got on the highway 89, headed for Great Falls, The made it to Vaughn, found a nice place to camp out, set their tents up. They gased up so the could just ride off in the morning. It gets cold out in western Montana at night, mornings are cool or cold. They spent the night in their tents, at 6:00 it was cold out. They packed up headed for Great Falls just a few miles away, it was still cold out, so they rode on made it to the small town of Stanford, gassed up, checked their bikes over, all the bikes used a little oil, but they had not changed the oil in few thousand miles. They stayed on 87, they would pick up 12 at Roundup. At Roundup, it started to warm up. They ate at a small café, which all small towns seem to have, no big name stores. After few hours they made it to Roundup. The gassed up, filled all the tanks they knew it was 100 miles to Forsyth, no nothing in between, its one lonely road. I’ve been on it many times, never have liked it. There are few cars or trucks no ranches close to highway. After 2 hours they were in Forsyth. They did the usual things and left. They were getting anxious to get home, over 8,000 miles already still 400-500 miles till home. Soon they were in Miles City, hot as hell, which seems to be in the summer months. I have never been in Miles City in the summer months when it was not HOT, HOT. At Miles City they got on a road that is really lonely, I’ve been on it, in 1972 I rode my motorcycle to Sturgis on this road. 0158 is one lonely road, only thing you see is ranches, 2 hours they were in Broadus, soon the would be home. In 1982 I was riding my 74” FLH to Sturgis I broke down 14 miles out, good thing, this old customer came along on his Gold Wing. He rode to Broadus got a rope came back and towed me to Broadus, now that’s a good friend. I spent day and half there before I could get on the road again. At Broadus they picked up 282 what a highway, I’ve rode it at least 25 times seems I hate going up through Sheridan, Wyoming, it seems to long fiat way to Sturgis. Wilber said to Albert and Alfred let’s stop spend the night at our good friend, Hershey’s and ride home next day. So, at Belle Fourche they really surprised their old friend Hersey. They really had a good time must of stayed up till 11-12 o’clock. They all spent the night in nice beds, had a good breakfast. At 10:00 they got on the road. They bid their good friend goodbye, told Hersey they would see him again at the big rodeo coming up. They rode out on 34 thru Sturgis headed for Rapid City where they picked up 44 it goes right thru the badlands. They stopped in small town of Creston, ate a buffalo burger, some fries and drank some coke, which they seldom do. All three knew it would be real hot thru the badlands, they rode at a steady 55mph turned south at a real lonely road real narrow and in bad condition Albert said we should of taken another road home. They peeled off all the clothes they could it was 2o’clock and 112 out. Sun bright as could be they made it to Wounded Knee at 4:30. They had only few miles until home which goes back toward the Black Hills. I don’t want to tell you the exact location as I have promised Wilber I would never tell anyone. At 5:50 they pulled up to Wilber’s farm. Ruthie and Evelyn were outside hanging up clothes. When they seen Wilber and Albert, Alfred coming close toward the house, they ran as fast as they could. Ruthie jumped on Wilber’ s side car. Evelyn got on the back of Albert’s. They rode up to the house. The girls were really glad to see the 3 men. Ruthie said lets have a beer. Wilber said I could go for one now. That homemade brew tasted ever so good. After half hour Albert and Alfred rode home. Before they left they checked there book they had gone 8,412 miles, several weeks from home. This was the best trip they had ever taken. And to think only problem with the bikes was tires and chains, on other parts, not even a spark plug. Those old bikes were better than a new one, and much more powerful. I’m sure they will stay off the bikes for few days, it would be nice to sleep in their own beds. Wilber, Alfred & Albert went out to the barn to see ol Jumper. He was so happy to see them, he just jumped up into the air. They all gave him big hugs, old Jumper was happy again. Wilber said they should stay over in Sturgis, but they were all tired. Sturgis can wait until some other time.

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