8/7/2014 – 213 mi
Tomorrow is a scheduled moto maintenance day, so we needed to be close to the Anchorage area so we could get to the shop and do some oil changes and put new tires on Kevin’s bike (we were unsure if his TKC80s would make it back to Whitehorse, and we didn’t want to get stuck in between). Thus, we ended up near Anchorage with time to go see the very entertaining Anchorage Aviation Museum.
The Museum is dedicated to all that makes aviation unique in Alaska, which has a culture of flying unlike anywhere else I’ve seen. Alaska is geographically huge, and there aren’t really that many roads. Access to most of it is by plane, and the stories of bush pilots, float planes, ski planes, and all manner of daring helicopter feats are endlessly amazing. I’ve never seen so much general aviation anywhere; the skies are full of small planes. The guide to the museum said that when he was young, the statistic was that 1 in 6 people in Alaska was a pilot (not necessarily licensed of course), and the statistic today is still as high as 1 in 46. Everything is a runway and a potential place to land a plane; a small lake, a gravel bar, a mostly level and clear strip in the forest, a glacier; they aren’t very picky about having prepared runways.
This first photo is not showing a helicopter accident; it captures a helicopter towing a barge through the break up ice. In the summer, the barges provide transport for the oil companies. In the winter, transport is hauled by truck over the ice road. In between seasons presents a problem, as the ice blocks the barges, but can no longer support the trucks. Specially designed boats with thick hulls are often the answer, but they also use twin rotor helicopters to tug barges through the break up ice. Mind = blown.
This open cockpit plane is famous for making a life-saving diphtheria serum run in temperatures around 30 below (F).
Naturally, there was no way we were getting by the flight simulator without Kevin getting a turn.
F-15, no engine of course.
Definitely a fun museum. Very interesting history, and amazing stories of daring aviation events. This stop gets two thumbs up.
8/8/2014 – 27 mi
Moto maintenance day at The Motorcycle Shop (that’s the actual name). We called a bit over a week ahead, and they were really busy. However, they got us in; mostly because we were on the road, and also because Kevin wanted to save time and money by working on his bike himself. They were very supportive of that, and lent him a drain pan, and a couple of other tools so he could change the oil. To change the tires, he pulled the wheels off the bike, so all they had to do was mount and balance the tire. His bike never took up a space in their shop, so it was easier for them to accommodate us. Changing the oil on my bike isn’t as simple, and we all agreed it was better to have them do it in the shop (they said something about having some exxon-valdez incidents in the parking lot with other TR650s). They were also familiar with TR650s (which is a bit rare), and had the oil change done correctly in the time they said they would. Plus, spending time in the showroom with all the BMWs, Triumphs, Ducatis, and Kawasakis while I waited was fun, and not too dangerous to my bank account because I can’t physically ride more than one bike home from Anchorage at a time. (Also, there is apparently no limit to how many Ducatis I would like to own.)
So far, we’re two for two on great experiences in moto shops with friendly, knowledgeable moto enthusiasts. The Motorcycle Shop in Anchorage is a great moto shop; even though we mostly do our moto maintenance at home, we’ve been to a few shops, and this one really has it together. I would definitely do business there again.