By Jenny Neyman
Fall migration is a tradition common among Alaska youth heading off to college in the Lower 48. The trip can take hours or days if flying, a week or more if driving, and is usually more a logistical hassle to be endured than an experience to be enjoyed.
For Shelly Barker, of Soldotna, this year’s trip back to her senior year at the University of Kansas took nine days, and she savored every moment of it. What better way to capitalize on the last few days of summer abandon before slipping back into the stress and workload of college than making the transition via a mode of transportation that typifies freedom and open roads? Shelly rode her own motorcycle back to school.
“Motorcycles are just so much more fun. It’s an adventure. You feel so carefree. I think that’s what I like about it, I feel like I don’t have a care in the world when I’m riding,” Shelly said.
Though just entering her senior year of college, Shelly is an old hand at riding. She got her motorcycle license even before her driver’s license when she was 16, and is already on her third bike, plus the dirt bike she learned to ride on as a kid.
Her dad, Scott Barker, rides, so Shelly grew up around motorcycles, and all other things motorized and recreational. She used to ride three-wheelers and four-wheelers as a kid on the farm, Barker said, plus tagging along with her dad and grandparents on various tractors and trucks.
“We moved back to Alaska when Shelly was 11. Some of the neighborhood kids had dirt bikes and she decided she wanted one,” Barker said. Continue reading