My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Arizona Motorcycle Trip fall 2020

Tues. Sept. 22, 2020

We left Juneau with masks and face shields ready for some fun on our motorcycles; however, the highlight of the flight south was that I hit my 1,000,000 (paid) miles Alaska Air.  They flight crew was nice and celebrated this milestone with me!  

We took a lyft from airport to our cycles, Harry’s needed a new battery and Michelle the owner of storage unit was already on it and picking a new one up for us.  She’s an awesome business owner and we appreciate her so much for caring for our ‘babies.’

This was the first time for me on my new motorcycle and it felt good immediately.  It is an automatic, which is odd to not have to ‘shift’, but I loved it. Overnighted in friends casita and prepped for the next days outing.  

Wed. Sept. 23 Rode 150 miles
On way out of town stopped at GO AZ to have my mirrors looked at and fixed, then we were off! We rode N to Payson and stopped to grab some groceries before heading 30 miles E towards our campsite, at Woods Canyon Lake; Crooks Campsite.  It was cooler up on the rim and an enjoyable night camping.  Though I was sick (from the heat), Harry took care of me and we climbed into the tent and watched “The Peanut Butter Falcon”, what a great movie.  

Thursday, Sept. 24 Rode 170 miles
Up and back on the road, off to Camp Verde, Cottonwood, and Jerome, before going up the mountain outside of Jerome headed to Mingus Mountain campground.  We turned onto the road and went about ¼ mile but it was very steep and all gravel, not good for motorcycles.  Hence we turned around and went across road to Potato Patch Campground, sadly it was full  HOWEVER there was a road next to campground that allowed campers, so we went there instead.  There was a toilet but no water and it was free!  Camped there for 2 nights.  For dinner rode down to Prescott and ate at a brewery, cute little town.

Friday, Sept. 25 Rode 80 miles
Up and going and rode to Sedona to go on a hike.  Picked the Devil’s Arch Trail.  On a ‘normal’ day it would have been EASY hike, but in the heat of this day and temps near 100, hiking in the beating sun was just too warm for me.  We enjoyed the red rocks and the area, but the hike was HOT.  Went into town and grabbed late lunch / early dinner, then back to our camp site.  On the way realized I was low on gas, so backtracked for gas and suddenly it was dark, no fun getting to site after dark.

Saturday, Sept. 26 Rode 80 miles
Off to try another hike in Sedona, this trail we know and we love, West Folk Trail on the N side of Sedona.  They limit the # of cars in the lot, but we only had to wait about 5 minutes to get in.  It is an amazing trail, goes about 3.5 miles into the valley, it follows a river and is very wooded, hence it is not that hot even when sun in beating down.  At one point I stopped and laid down on the side of the river and harry kept going, I actually fell asleep and enjoyed the rest in the heat of the day!  Onward to Flagstaff and into a hotel!  Took lyft to dinner and back and enjoyed another brewery meal!  

Sunday, Sept. 27 Rode 220 miles
Off to the Grand Canyon, took 40 W and then N to the canyon.  We entered the park and we were a bit disappointed that a huge van/suv holding 6-8 people cost $35 to enter, but ONE motorcycle with ONE person cost $30.  The two cycles together only have 4 small tires and 2 people but we paid $25 more than the huge SUV that entered.  Was a bit disappointing.  HOWEVER the ride through the park was not disappointing.  We had a great ride, about 50 miles RT inside the park.  HOWEVER there was no camping anywhere in or near the park, so we headed back to Flagstaff.  Got another night in a hotel and enjoyed dinner at the restaurant across the street from the hotel.  It was great, Oregano’s.

Monday, Sept. 28 Rode 210 miles
Up and headed east towards Winslow, AZ, just to say we’d been there!  Then headed back south on 87 to Pine and Payson.  Doubled backed to our campsite from Wednesday night and enjoyed another evening up on the rim.  I felt better this night and was able to go sit on the ledge of the rim and watch the sunset.  We ate leftovers for dinner and listened to the elk bugle all night long with an almost full moon in the sky.  The Woods Canyon Lake area is stunning and I am sure we will return her again.  

Tuesday, Sept. 29 Rode 160 miles
Slow start to the day and decided instead of the ‘normal’ route back to Phoenix let’s go East and then turn back to the west.  So we went to Globe, had an amazing lunch at a great Mexican restaurant before heading towards Phoenix.  Wow the heat kicked my butt again, once we got to the desert floor.  Was a bit longer of a ride in that heat than I had wanted, but we got back to friends safely and felt so good to cool down, shower and enjoy a relaxing evening before heading home!

Total miles ridden 1,176 miles!

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Final Thoughts on Vietnam and Cambodia

Overall last thoughts and tips:

  • Bring lots of American cash in clean, ‘big headed’ bills that are as new as possible. I used a lot of $1 for tips and they were well received in both countries.
  • If you are not a person that enjoys being hot, I’d go in Dec. when it is in the 90’s because it gets hotter other times of the year!
  • Flying with in Vietnam and Cambodia was cost effective and much more comfortable than their slow trains or a bus. Funniest thing about flying was how they board. No calling by groups, or rows, nope… just a long line where people act as if the plane will take off without them.
  • If you are wanting clothes made for you, do that in Hoi An, seems to be the best place for material and garments.
  • Vietnam $1= 23,000 Dong
  • Cambodia $1= 4000 Riel
    • HOWEVER Cambodia accepts American dollars and most prices are listed in dollars! Much easier to understand.
  • Many places that we thought they’d offer tours, they did not, for example the Opera Houses, some of the Catholic Churches, and historical buildings.
  • You probably could wait and find lodging upon arrival into cities, but for the most part VRBO and Bookings.com did not let us down. Only one time did we have troubles and that was fixed quickly.
  • We got chewed out once by a lady selling books (in Vietnamese mind you) stating, “You never buy from me, You are mean, You need to buy from me.” We had variations of that statement while in markets etc. Just be prepared to walk away. As we were warned, ‘if you touch it for some reason they think you bought it.’
  • Vietnamese food is significantly build around noodles, meat and broth, not often a lot of spices and certainly no curry. Once in Cambodia we at Indian food a lot as it was much more available.
  • $10 room is just what you would think it would be, $20-25 typically pretty nice and $30> super nice. Usually at that rate breakfast was included. I’d recommend looking at the $25ish room rates.
  • Sidewalks are NON existent.  They are either full of parked scooters OR scooters use them as another road.  Harry got hit on the sidewalk by a scooter (not going that fast but still).  It is insane.
  • There is certainly a lot to learn about ‘recent’ history while in these countries. Cambodia and the ‘killing fields’ stuck such a cord in my heart and then of course all the history of the Vietnam War while in Vietnam. Surprisingly, they are very open armed to Americans and happy to see us visit.
  • Lastly we’d spend more time in smaller communities and less time in bigger cities (HCMC or Phnon Penh), we are just small town folks at heart.IMG_3027IMG_3045DSCN6343.JPG


    this is how they grill most food on the street.  Who needs a grill?  


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Angkor Temples, and Angkor Wat one of the New 7 Wonders of the World!

Temples of Angkor! “Capital of Temples” is about 4 miles North of Siem Reap.   The most famous is Angkor Wat though Bayon and others are fascinating as well. There are over 1000 temples in the 400 acre area all built between 9th and 13th centuries origionally they were Hindu temples. In the 12th century they were transformed into Buddhist temples.DSCN7024DSCN7105.JPGDSCN6972.JPG

We hired a tuk tuk driver to take us to the temples for $16 for the entire day. First stop, purchase the day pass to get into the area. It was $37 and they take your photo and put it on your day pass. You can get a 2 and 3 day pass as well.


In the 15th century the Angkor empire collapsed. There are a variety of reasons sited for this but most historians believe that very intense monsoon rains followed by a drought lead to the collapse. After this the temples were overtaken by Mother Nature and the jungle took over the buildings. The growth of the jungle, earthquakes as well as wars all took their toll on the area until the late 1800’s.


In the early 1900’s the French ruled that region and established a commission to restore the area. However, not much happened until the early 1960’s and it was a little too late as Cambodia was headed into a civil war in the 1970’s.   Regardless France, Germany and India all supported the renovation and upkeep of the temples.IMG_3516.jpgIMG_3517.jpg

In 1992 the area became a UNESCO World Heritage site. At that time there were not many visitors. From the early 1990’s until today the number of visitors has risen from a few thousand to over 500,000 by the early 2000’s and most recently over 2 million visitors last year. If you can get there before even more visitors take over the area, visit now! IMG_3647.JPGDSCN7221.JPG

We did not feel the urgency to do the sunrise or the sunset visit. Many people do and from everyone we talked to that did the early morning visit, they all said it was NOT worth it. We were picked up at 8 a.m., immediately went to get our tickets and finally to the temples. We spent about 6 hours touring the different temples (saw 7 all together).CIOR4747.JPG


Bring water, bring camera’s and back up batteries and dress appropriately. Cover you shoulders and your knees. It was hot for me, but you must be respectful. We were disheartened by folks that did not follow those rules.



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Landing in Cambodia


My best birthday present was leaving HCMC and arriving in Seim Reap Cambodia. This is where I was meant to spend some quality time. Our tuk tuk driver was there to get us at the airport. But first we had to get our Cambodian Visa’s. You DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT need to have a photo for this visa. We simply paid $30/per person and had it in about 5 minutes.

Our driver was so sweet he took us a bit out of the way so we could get a picture of the sunset, which was beautiful. Then he got us to our hotel which was just a sweet place. Old teak wood everywhere, a pool and the nicest people!IMG_3475.jpg

When we asked about getting a driver to take us to Ankgor Wat the next day, he said, how about your tuk tuk driver? We were thrilled. For $16 we hired him to take us for the entire day!

Onward that evening we walked into town (1/2 mile ish) to what is now called Pub Street. This street is 1000% geared towards tourists. We did NOT want to spend much time there, so we ventured 1-2 streets off of that street and enjoyed a fabulous Indian dinner. Then walked through the night market. All and all a nice relaxing, enjoyable day in a beautiful area.IMG_3479.jpgIMG_3392_2.jpg

Biggest AH HA about Cambodia~ they take American money. If your bill is $12.50 and you give them a $20, you will receive $7 American dollars back and the ‘change’ will be a few hundred of their bills, NO coins. Basically it is interchangeable. Interesting indeed.RCTB1190.JPG

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Float down the MeKong


Opted for a day trip to float down the MeKong, it was sort of a flop of a trip but what did we expect for $16/pp.

First stop was to visit Vinh Trang Pagoda with 3 distinct Buddha’s. Happy Buddha who one would pray to for their future, Standing Buddha that one would pray to about the present and lastly Sleeping or Lying Buddha that you pray to for those that are no longer here with us.  IMG_3395.jpgIMG_3393.jpgIMG_3397.jpgIMG_3386.jpg

Though it is advertised as a cruise it is boat ride at best!   We got in a wooden open aired boat and went across the Tien River to the Qui (Tortoise island ). On the way we passed Dragon, Phoenix and Unicorn islands. Once off the boat we walked through a village, ate local fruit, listened to some local song, tasted local chocolate and honey and eventually made it to lunch.


After lunch we got a short small boat ride thru the mangroves, then we headed back to the bus and back to HCMC.   It was an okay day but a bit touristy for us. Not as good as our other day trips. But what did we expect for $16.IMG_3178_2.JPG

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Ho Chi Minh City/ Saigon; In some ways just another big city


We flew to HCMC / Saigon arriving late in the afternoon. Took a Grab to our super nice apartment ($25/night) and simply walked around the area for dinner. Also found a pharmacy to get some medication because I was getting really sick (throat/sinus).

First full morning we took “Grab” into the city on the days we were in HCMC as we were out near airport in a more residential area. It was only 2-3 miles but took upwards of 30-45 minutes to get back and forth. Typically it took about $2-$4 for the ride.

I’d say if we had it to do over we would have stayed here less days and the rural areas more days. The city is just that a city. It is loud, it has a lot of eye pollution and just not that much worth seeing after a few days. We even took a day off and sat by the roof top pool at our apartment building.

In HCMC we visited:

1.    Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon. It was under renovation so we could only see it from the area that was outside the gates. It was built in from 1863-1880 by the French colonists. About 10-15% of the population practices Catholicism.IMG_3324.jpg

2.    Saigon Central Post Office. It too was built by the French and was built between 1886-1891. It is directly across the street from the Basilica. It seemed much more like a building in Europe than something in Asia, even though the hallways are full of trinkets from this region.IMG_3326.jpg

OVTW7701.JPG3.    Gia Long Palace now the HCMC Museum. This is an overlooked museum by a lot of visitors (or so it seemed). Unlike the Independence Palace or the War Remnants Museum the foot traffic here is less. It actually is quite informative and covers a lot of the history of Saigon and how it’s growth to what is now a modern city.   The ground have a lot of greenery and some war remnants, such as fighter planes, anti aircraft gun, canons etc. There is a special charge for wedding parties to enter and indeed there was one in there during our time, we guess is it a great place for photos!  IMG_3332.jpgIMG_3334.jpg

4.    Ben Thanh Market is in District 1 and the most popular market in HCMC. It has been around since 1914 (and some of the trinkets may be that old too J). If you want something you can get it here. It is huge and when it closes down later in the day the streets take over and become the market.

5.    Ben Thanh Street Market was near the market mentioned above. It was such a nice relief with options to eat. It was a nice balance between street food and restaurant food. It caters to tourists and that’s okay! We had Vietnamese food, Indian food and Thai food, all were good. It was a bit more pricy than street food, but not bad at all. We stopped here 2 times and enjoyed the food both times.  IMG_3457.jpg

6.    Rex Hotel Roof Bar was where we had the most expensive drinks on the entire trip. I almost chocked when I saw the cost, but reminded myself it was about the experience NOT the bill! The drinks were okay and it was fun to sit atop the room of this historical hotel and look over the plaza. The hotel was built in 1927 for the French of course and was originally a car dealership and garage. It became a hotel in the late 50’s early 60’s. The hotel became most famous during the wary when it hosted the daily American news updates and the war correspondents stayed there. The rooftop bar was a favorite hangout for the correspondents.IMG_3349.jpgSNRO0632.JPGIMG_3456.jpg

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Hoi An a MUST visit while in Vietnam


Will only say that our flight got in late to DaNang and then the hotel was NOT a 9* as Bookings.com had indicated. We would have walked out if it had been earlier. DaNang was a let down as well, and though we had always planned to go to Hoi An we went sooner that planned and we were glad we did! DaNang is equivalent to Las Vegas. We work up early 6 a.m. and were on our way to Hoi An by 7 and in a new hotel there by 8:30 a.m.! Turning lemons into lemonade.IMG_3228.jpgIMG_3246.jpg


Hoi An was probably one of my favorite places on this trip (along with Siem Reap in Cambodia). Quaint little town with just over 100,000 people. In 1999 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our hotel was near old town which is a well preserved area where there is little motorized traffic and a lot of foot traffic, yet it was a street or two off that area and was quite quiet.IMG_3247.jpg

Hoi An actually means a ‘peaceful meeting place’ and it holds true to that reputation. We met back up with the mother/son, Penny and Tom from our cruise and enjoyed dinner with them at a Mediterranean restaurant that was a nice diversion from Vietnamese food.

The lanterns hanging along the street, the carless roads (still scooters), and the cobble stone streets made our visit here so enjoyable. We walked through the market a number of times, we snacked on fresh fruit simply enjoyed our time in Hoi An.


IMG_3215IMG_3223IF on your visit you want to get some clothing made this is the town to do that in. We did not, but our new friends did and they loved the craftsmanship!IMG_3055.jpgIMG_3196.jpg

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Ha Long Bay Cruise

Dec. 14-16, 2019

We opted for the 2 night 3 day (though it is only 48 hours) cruise as there was more optional day trips with this, and we were not let down.IMG_3162

Again ride picked us up at 9:30 and we had about a 2 hour ride to the bay. By noon we were loaded on a small boat that took us out to our larger boat. The small boat was tied to the back of the larger boat the entire time and what was used to get us back and forth to our day trips.

Everyone on our boat (14 of us) had been upgraded from a 4 Star to a 5 Star cruise. Did any of us now what that meant, nope but we sure did like the small numbers. There were more staff than there were guests.IMG_3049IMG_3054

Our room was so nice, we were a bit taken aback. But we enjoyed it a lot. We laughed at the first meal however as the dining hall has room for 52 people to eat and again there were 14 of us, so the tables were set per group. Every long table with seating for 8 had 2 placemats and that was it. By day 2 we asked if we could move over with a mom/son from England that we had enjoyed chatting with, and of course it was no problem, but the segregation to start with was funny.

There are 1970 Islands in Ha Long Bay. On afternoon #1 we took small boat over to land where we were able to hike up about 100 steps and go into some caves.IMG_3072DSCN6760DSCN6778IMG_2991IMG_2901DSCN6958.JPG

Afterwards Happy Hour had 2:1 drinks (still high for Vietnam rates) and got demonstration on how to make fresh spring rolls, followed by dinner.

After breakfast on day 2 we went back on small boat to shore then rode bicycles for about 2 miles to a small rural village. The similarities to Rural Alaska were quite amazing. There is a lot of subsistence living and they do all they can to live off the land. The folks could (and some do) move to the bigger cities but the CHOSE to remain (or return) to the community where they were born and raised and where their families are located. There is a K-6 school in the community but after that if folks want schooling they need to go to the bigger community and live there to attend school, it is hard for them.

Families have small plots of land that they farm. We saw a demonstration on how to make rice wine and sampled a few different versions. Hibiscus, banana, honey, cobra (as in snake) but they all taste like pure raw alcohol.OFIT9021IMG_3097IMG_3117IMG_3119

After riding back to boat we then had a chance to go swimming…wasn’t too warm outside and the water wasn’t that warm but we went anyways. Once we were in it felt good. Kayaking was an option for the afternoon, but we opted to sit on our deck and read/enjoy the scenery. Food demonstration that night was fried egg rolls.IMG_3148

The last day morning was basically breakfast and packing before disembarking at noonish.   Our van then took us back to Hanoi but since we were flying out that evening we had them drop us at a mall (I know odd ) that was not too far from airport, but a place we could waste a few hours of time.

All in all the cruise was a nice time and we enjoyed the folks on the boat with us, especially Tina who was the staff member who took care of us.

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Ninh Binh, Vietnam a MUST visit area


We had decided to go on a one day tour to Ninh Binh today. We were picked up at 7:30 on the dot. It was a full 12 hour tour that included a general visit to the area, a boat float, a temple hike up a mountain and a bicycle ride followed by lunch.

Ninh Binh is a hidden gem in Vietnam just S of Hanoi (60 miles). We did not even read much about it in advance of our visit, but I would say DON’T miss this place.IMG_2982.jpgIMG_2989.jpgIMG_2756.jpg

It is full of 100’s of limestone monoliths. They rise out of the ground and surround you with such lush greenery.  There are NOT a lot of tourists in this area and I could see us staying here a few days if we had known.

We learned the difference between a temple and a pagoda! A temple is for kings and heroes. Gifts given as blessings can be almost anything including alcohol. A pagoda is for a spiritual being and gifts must be vegetarian and you must take your shoes off to enter. Bai Dinh and Bich Dong were beautiful and worth the visit.


On our river ‘float’ we were rowed by a woman who used her legs to paddle, it was quite a talent. We went into caves and along a stunning river at the base of the limestone structures. We saw a lot of birds on the ride including a variety of king fishers and herons. To be honest the river float could have been shorter. It was 1.5 hours and 1 hour would have been plenty.IMG_3024.jpgIMG_3025.jpg


Once we arrived back to Hanoi we had an evening walk around the lake and the Friday night market that was certainly geared to locals. It was fun to see the lake come alive and see what the locals do for fun!XFFF4494.JPG

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“Hanoi Hilton” and other Historical areas of Hanoi

Day 12/12

Started the morning by walking to the St. Joseph Cathedral, (15% of Vietnamese are Catholic).  There were many young children on a field trip to the Cathedral.  This was the only church we were able to enter during the trip, and so we lit a few candles for those that we’ve lost. IMG_2912.jpgIMG_2904.jpg

 and then continued onto the “Hanoi Hilton” or the Hỏa Lò Prison. The experience in there was very difficult to process. The French originally built this for Vietnamese political prisoners and first opened the prison in 1880’s. Later it became better known by Americans during the Vietnam War as many American POW’s were kept there including John McCain. Though prisoners reported much torture and interrogation techniques, in the museum today the Vietnam would have you believe that the prisoners loved their time there and enjoyed a happy social life while captivated including time playing cards, chess, shooting pool, and eating a lot of chicken, eggs and food.

Much of the propaganda in the museum currently would have you believe that it was like summer camp for the prisoners. I took photos of how the Vietnam highlighted how other countries helped them during the war and protested the Americans invasion. I showed some of these pics to friends from one of the countries highlighted and she laughed and replied that NONE of those pics were from a protest but rather from a parade for the New Year and one of the other pics didn’t even have the correct language on the store signs. More examples of propaganda on their part.IMG_2931.jpgIMG_2937.JPGIMG_2706.jpg

We then took at tuk tuk (motorcycle with a riding cart behind it) to Truc Bach Lake the lake that John McCain landed in when he was shot down in Hanoi. It is one of the largest lakes in the city. There is a beautiful pagoda on the lake called Tran Quoc and it is the oldest pagoda in Vietnam. It was built in the 6th century. It is built more like an Indian Stupa.IMG_2960.jpgIMG_2965.jpgIMG_2726.JPG

From here we walked to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which was built in 1975. It reminded me of our Lincoln or Washington Memorials. It is a stand alone structure that is to honor the beloved Ho Chi Minh. There is a paved plaza out front that is long enough for a plane to land on.IMG_2968.jpg

Lastly we met our friends for dinner on “chicken street”, where every single stall had chicken and the most desired treat were chicken feet.  Harry tried one, but I passed 🙂  My favorite item was the dessert… They took french baguette and smashed them flat then roasted them over an open fire.  After they got a little grilled they put honey on it and roasted it some more!  Yummy.

On our walk home we saw some street dancers inviting us into their restaurant! IMG_2974.jpgIMG_2731.JPG



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