Doug Grosjean's
Alaska Trip Report

June 1999



The following is the report on my trip to Alaska in June 1999 aboard my 1994 BMW R1100RS. The bike was neither young nor old at the start of the trip with 60,000 miles on the odometer, and in good mechanical condition.

My dad is the person that inspired this trip - he always wanted to go to Alaska and somehow never got around to it. He made me realize that time slips by for all of us, and so I decided to "just do it!"

Thanks, Dad!

Day 1; Saturday, May 29, 1999
Start: Pemberville, Ohio
End: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
514 Miles

When I wake up Saturday morning, I can hardly believe that the day has finally arrived.... I'm going to leave for Alaska today!

The bike is perfectly clean, the sky is blue, the temperature is just right.

I'm nervous as can be, and yet a little numb at the same time.

I've never done a trip anywhere near this long..... the biggest trip I've taken on a motorcycle was my honeymoon aboard a BMW R100s, Ohio to Yellowstone in 1991, and this is at least twice as big a trip.

I head out from Pemberville, Ohio; (near Toledo) via I-80 to Chicago, to Cedar Rapids, Iowa; to hook up with Joe.

Weíve met only through the net, via the Long Distance Riders List , and Iíve got some apprehension about spending a month with a stranger. My parents (I'm 37 and they still worry) suggested a partner, but I didn't know anyone who was capable and interested, and had figured on going it alone, as I usually do on motorcycle trips. Then Joe answered one of my posts to the LDRiders list where I'd asked for Alaska info. Heíd also been planning a trip to Alaska and had never been there, and wondered if I would like a traveling partner. We e-mailed back and forth, and finally decided to go together on one condition - we could break up at any time for any reason; i.e., bad chemistry, different goals, whatever.

I don't tell my parents until much later that I'm running off to Alaska with a stranger that I met on the Internet.

I motor across Indiana, through Chicago, across Illinois, and into Iowa. The day gets hot, but again my mind is elsewhere.... I still can't believe the trip has actually begun! I arrive at Joe's house early in the evening, where I spend the night. Still numb, still unbelieving - and Joe's house in a pleasant suburb looks just like the pleasant suburbs back home. The trip still isnít real to me at this point.

We meet, we talk, look over each otherís gear, and discuss the trip just a bit more. We have only a few non-negotiable points we've got to hit - Portland on Wednesday night so Joe can teach a computer class for his employer on Thursday, and Bellingham, Washington on Friday AM so that we can catch the Alaska ferry. And that's a gamble, as we don't have reservations, and it could all turn sour if we don't get aboard.

Otherwise, we'll get there when we get there, and we don't even know exactly where "there" will be, or what route we'll take.

I send an e-mail to my wife to let her know Iím safe in Iowa, and then I go to bed.

Doug Grosjean
Pemberville, Ohio