After the Arctic

Trip Start to Finish

I’ve been home for three weeks now and I’m finding it difficult to believe that I was ever gone.  Life envelops so quickly and things seem just the same as when I left, just more hectic because I was gone for so long and didn’t pay much attention to my home life.  It reminds me of my time on the ship, when I would leave for 6 month stints and come home to find that in some ways everything had changed, and in some ways nothing had changed.  Either way it felt like I had never left and that the trip was all just a dream.  And so it is with this trip, except that while many of my memories from the 6 month deployments were ones that I didn’t really care to keep, the majority of my memories from this trip are ones that I would love to keep fresh for years to come.  So, I suppose this will be my last post about the trip.  I have been meaning to write a few different ones, but I think I’ll just consolidate it into one and call it a day.  You’ll find my trip recounted by the numbers below, followed by a description of what went into the making of my posts, and then some final thoughts on the trip.  Thanks for reading.

0: Tickets, Wipeouts, Break Downs (Amazed by all three)
1: Continent, Canadian Territory, Flat Tire, Uncontrolled Road Departure, Dead Video Camera
2: Nations, Canadian Provinces, Confirmed Dragonfly Kills
3: Time zones, Bike Services (8k, 12k and 16k miles)
5: Motorcycle Tires Used
5.5: Annual Inches of Rainfall received on the North Slope of Alaska (I think I got about 4.5 inches of that while I was there)
6: International Border Crossings
8: Nights of Camping
9: States Traversed
11: Nights in Houses of Friends and Family
17: Days the new back tire I got in Washington lasted
17.5: Hours on the road for my longest day of riding (Deadhorse to Fairbanks, stops for food, gas, overheating bikes, and busted Motocompies included)
20: Nights in Hotels/Cabins (5 of those were in Big Bear…a lot of the others were from the rainy days in the middle of the trip).
25: Number of Posts on my website, including this one.
31: Lowest temperature encountered (the wind-chill temp as I was pulling into Deadhorse, AK)
40: Days the trip lasted.
55.8: Best MPG
70.2: Degrees North, the latitude of Deadhorse. (San Diego is at 32 degrees North)
106: Highest temperature encountered (actually, I think I saw higher temps but didn’t see any readouts anywhere to confirm it.)
200: Speed in MPH of a Perigrine Falcon, the fastest animal on the planet (I learned this up in Big Bear at the zoo.  Crazy, eh?)
285: Longest stretch driven on one tank of gas
996: Miles…Fairbanks to Deadhorse and back.
1298: Size of the bike‘s engine in cubic centimeters.
2187: Number of photos and short videos taken with my camera.
4201: Miles between Deadhorse and San Diego, as the crow flies.
6330: Number of miles my new back tire lasted me after I got it new in Washington.
10,984: Total Miles Traveled
1.4 Million: Approximate number of bugs smashed on the front of my bike and person.

AZ

Ok, so something my brother has been asking me to do is to describe what went into the making of my posts.  I kept meaning to write about this on the trip but didn’t really find the time because I was usually busy with writing about the day’s events and couldn’t fit both topics in.  Now I have the time, though, so here goes:

-Throughout the day I would take pictures and videos of things that caught my eye or sections of road that I thought might be fun to record.
-I would find a place to stay and figure out what my internet situation was going to be (WIFI, cell phone, none).  This would drive what I would be able to upload.  So, assuming I had WIFI, I would proceed thusly:
-I would set up the computer in my tent or hotel room, charge up camera/phone/gps batteries, and download my pictures into Picasa.
-After looking through all the pictures I would pick out the ones I wanted to upload to Flickr and would use the Flickr Uploader to do so.
-While my pictures were uploading I would start looking at the video from the day, video from the bike and video from my camera.  Sections that looked interesting got earmarked for editing in Windows Movie Maker where I  could cut and combine them into maneagable bits, adding in fades and transitions where appropriate.  Once this was done I would start the upload into Youtube, a very time consuming task depending on the type of internet connection I had and the length of the video.
-Generally, while my pictures and videos were uploading I would open up the GPS recordings from the day.  My GPS files are full of standard NMEA sentences, such as this:

$GPGGA,030536.000,5955.5795,N,12905.8990,W,1,08,1.4,823.4,M,0.7,M,,0000*7F
$GPGSA,A,3,29,18,08,11,19,26,28,27,,,,,2.6,1.4,2.1*39
$GPGSV,3,1,09,28,79,152,28,29,52,259,31,26,52,273,34,08,50,124,33*72
$GPGSV,3,2,09,27,23,123,26,17,23,174,21,19,19,039,27,18,16,329,28*74
$GPGSV,3,3,09,11,16,091,14*4A
$GPRMC,030536.000,A,5955.5795,N,12905.8990,W,35.06,9.89,060706,,,A*45
$GPVTG,9.89,T,,M,35.06,N,64.9,K,A*0E

Not sure what all that means but those files would then be uploaded to www.GPSvisualizer.com so that they could be displayed graphically.  The problem here was that the maximum file size I could upload was 3MB and the files were often closer to 5MB.  That’s why I would upload them in pieces and you would have to view them in three or more parts.  Once they were uploaded and displayed on top of a Google Map I would have to go in and edit the code so that the page could be uploaded to my webserver and displayed with an address beginning with www.carotidbattery.com instead of the gpsvisualizer.com prefix…(they only store the files for a short period of time).  This process always took a ton of time, too.  Their server wasn’t the fastest and transferring big files over slow connections is always, well, slow.

So, at this point I have pictures, video and GPS logs uploaded…what’s next?  Oh yeah, I guess I have to write something about the day to tie all of the visual elements together.  I would usually reach this point at about midnight, if I was lucky and the interweb ether was transferring my bits and bites quickly, but oftentimes it would be later and I wouldn’t finish until close to 1 (if I finished at all).  Many times I would have to stop and finish the next morning (as I am currently considering doing with this post as it is now almost 12:30am…No! I must finish).  So, that’s kindof how it would all come together and hopefully you can get an idea of why the whole thing was so time consuming.  I really wanted to respond to comments and answer questions, but it was an “either/or” decision between comments and posts…posts won.

Road Behind

Ok…I’m sure that last section wasn’t all that interesting to many of you so I’ll cut the technical stuff off there and start up with some closing thoughts.  I’m going to keep this short because it could easily go on and on and on and….

If you ever get a chance to take a large roadtrip like this, do it.  If you’re scared of motorcycles, don’t be…ride one at least once.  If you don’t like Canadians (like some of my posters), start liking them…they’re nice.  If you haven’t been to Alaska, go.  If you haven’t seen the Grand Canyon in person, do it.  If you used to enjoy photography but haven’t done it in a while, get out your camera and take it with you in the car tomorrow.  If you can’t drive thousands of miles, drive a hundred and see where it takes you.  I truly believe that I am a changed person because of this trip and I hope and wish that same type of experience for all of you. God has made an amazing world and it’s worth exploring.  There’s more than just buildings and houses out there and I think I had started to forget that.  I mean, just look at that map up there….Look how big this continent is.  Crazy!  Alright, I suppose That’s all I have to say.  Thank you so much for following along on this trip.  It was an incredible experience for me and you all were such an important part of that.  Thanks again, and happy travels to you all.

(By the way, the website won’t be going away.  I plan on keeping it up and posting new bits of randomness on it at times…and, who knows, maybe there will be another trip to take you all on…we’ll stay in touch.)

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