Wednesday, July 30
So, the law in BC is that all gas sales must be prepaid or by “pay at the pump”
Apparently, the more outlying areas don't have credit card readers on the pumps so you need to pay cash in advance or let them hold a card.
We fueled up at the bottom of the Stewart Cassiar highway and had a bite to eat.
Food and fuel are getting progressively more expensive.
Well, as it turns out, I didn't remember my card until some 45km up the highway!
With some well chosen words muttered in my helmet, we returned to the gas station and retrieved the card.
Now you must understand that gas stations are not as close together as in most urban centres so the fact that we has “used up”70km of fuel and the fact that we didn't top up led to a shortfall to the next fuel stop on the main highway.
According to the signs, the town of Stewart was within easy reach...OFF the main highway!
Oh well...gotta do what ya gotta do.
Oh yes, and did I mention it has been raining now for some 2 hours or so?
Rain proof riding gear?!?!
i don't think so but that's another post.
They don't show you those pictures in the travel brochures!
As it turns out, the road was a stellar paved winding trail through some spectacular canyons and past the Bear glacier!
Sometimes mistakes can work out for the best.
Stewart is a small mining town nestled in the mountains at the end of a fjord.
The motel room was a bit pricey but I guess you pay extra for the view...:)
Tuesday July 6...
The drive out of Stewart was an even greater treat for the eyes as the rain had stopped and while the skies were not clear, the view was lit by patches of dry light.
This is a drive that we wouldn't have chosen but has been one of the highlights so far.
we connected with some guys riding street/trail bikes and traded addresses for further contact.
Big laffs were had when I asked if any of them had seen “The Long Way 'Round”
One guy named Rob is returning to Anchorage and is running a bike tour outfit and has offered to show us his shop and bikes.
I am interested in the Suzuki V Strom bikes as it is a “hybrid” and better suited for this type of environment.
Now I must clarify that while this Stewart Cassiar Highway is called a “highway” you must appreciate that this isn't what we would normally consider more than a side road.
Oh yes ,it's paved, mostly, and there is at least 12” of run off on the shoulder and yes, the vegetation is cut back enough to see just what kind of bear is about to try to ride your bike. But “Highway”...not so much!
This is why you make sure tires and suspension are in good shape.
So all is going along just as good as can be expected,not much rain and some dry, unpaved sections leading down to a river crossing and back up.
A bit pf a pain but not as bad as we had heard.
Ahh, but that wasn't the section people meant!
The REAL challenge was the 30km of unpaved, soggy, slippery ,muddy and downright unpleasant part of the “highway” that was yet to come.
i did find that it worked out better to get up a bit of speed, say around 70KPH and the bike handled as well as could be expected.
Those guys on the hybrid bikes passing with a wave...smug *&%!
By the time we arrived in Dease Lake for fuel, it was tough to tell what kind of bikes they were!
It wasn't so bad with the wet mud splashing up on the bikes and clothes because at least it wasn't raining...yet...
Just as we made paved land, the rain began and what was just manageable mud splatter on the pants became a dripping mess!
The pay off , though, was a stay at a “camping” cabin at Dease Lake Crossing that was clean, quiet and had a stellar view.
Wednesday July 7
After a good nights sleep ,we wake up to, yes, MORE RAIN!
But despair not as the weather turned in our favour as we went west.
The view is fantastic as we roll through hills and valleys.
Soon now we are riding in the warm sunlight and eventually connected to the actual Alaskan Highway.
Now THIS is more like it!
Wide road with a good surface and easily allows for a 110KPH cruising speed.
The view is right out of the brochures.A long sweeping ribbon of road cutting through the mountains and Boreal forest.
We have arrived!
Things are running well and the world is good, well at least until Kat starts having trouble shifting the gears on her bike.
I'm thinking things like "dogs are shot" and 'transmission work" but after a quick inspection and some WD40 (don't leave home without it) on the shifter linkage, it's all good with the world again!
But this vista didn't even hint as to the stunning landscape we would see in just a few hours.
We decided on a detour from the main road into the town of Carcross, a quaint rail terminus with no accommodations.
With some help from the local Tourist Info people,a room was secured in Skagway and we set off south along the edge of an inland lake.
They said it would take about 90 miutes but at 100 km distance, it seemed we would do much better.
Ahhh, but they didn't mention the mountain pass!
Now Kat and I have travelled through some nice passes in the Colorado Rockies and the Canadian Rockies but this one is in a league of it's own!
As steady climbing roadway took us into the clouds, rain and ever colder temperature.
I was sure the rain would turn to sleet at any moment.
Familiar mountain terrain gave way to snow line tundra that looked like something from another planet.
Cold? yes...Desolate? yes...Wet? yes...but OUTSTANDING!!!!!
Finally, the road leveled off then tipped down to the exit of the pass.
I can't really thing of the best word to describe it but "holy s^&*" comes to mind.
The pavement is pasted to the side of a canyon that plunges some considerable distance down to the river.
As the two lane threads it's way downward, we are treated to absolutely jaw dropping, and at the same time unnerving, glimpses of the brutal land that the gold miners of '49 had to contend with.
A couple of stops were made for pics.Hope you like them.
After the dizzying decent, and a quick chat with an ever so friendly US Customs guard,we have landed in Skagway, home of the gold rush.
Ferry tickets booked and a bite of Thai food, it's off to snooze.
Monday, July 28
Not bad, eh? This is the northward view along the Bulkley River in Telkwa, British Columbia.
We started off the day looking at overcast skies, and had to suit up for rain within minutes of leaving the motel. We didn't hit a lot of rain, and the fact that my weatherproof pants AREN'T didn't stop me from enjoying the day. Saw a black bear on the side of the road, a few deer in a field and lots of ravens and crows. Just outside of Prince George, I saw a sign that had me giggling for kilometers: it was for a towing company called Give It A Yank. No kidding.
The weather cleared just after lunch, and the ride got that much better.
We ended the day in Telkwa at a place called Two Rivers Lodge. This is the view from our cabin:
This plus a walk into town for ice cream, and it was a perfect end to the day!
To get to Calgary was just another ride across the country on boring 4 lane highways but now we are on 2 lane pavement that winds through beautiful rolling hills and climbs mountain passes.
Well worth the "super slabbing'"to get here!
The choice is to take the western route into the interior of BC and then up to the Alaska Highway near Watson.
It's roughly 3400km from Calgary to Anchorage but the scenery helps the time and distance go by easily.
Today is day 10 and by lunch time we will no longer be going west but will start the northward trek to Anchorage. The weather promises to be sunny and warm but as always, the mountains can throw different weather at you at a moments notice.
I estimate we should arrive there somewhere around next Friday.
This is all dependent on what we see and where we might decide to stop.
Our only real deadline is to be back in Toronto by August 24th.
I would like to take this time for a call out to a few people "along the way"
Scotty and Paul at Ontario Cycle salvage who help keep the bikes running smoothly.
Tessa (an old friend )from Cosy Critters who is making sure our cat stays fit and sane.
Tim and Brenda who put up some strange Canadian people for the night in
To all the people that gave tips on what to do and see and finally to mom and dad who gave me the desire to travel and see new places.
Mom,the late adopter computer user, is following the blog as we go :)
And my buddy Burns who is keeping the petro industry alive with his "new" vehicle!
Sunday, July 27
So hard to describe the colour of the water in the lakes and rivers; the silt coming down from the glaciers gives the water an opaque turquoise cast.
You know why your bike fell over? It was two tired.Yeah, I had a small oopsie with the bike. We'd just gone up a small switchback, no biggie, but it was the first where our lane was on the outside. My fear of heights kicked in and I had to pull over at a small viewing area at the top for the adrenaline rush to subside. I was still a bit shakey when we went to leave, and, well, the bike fell over. Nothing hurt, nothing damaged, just me feeling like a bit of a goof as I waited for Keith to come back and help me pick it up. D'oh!
~ Bill, Keith's dad
As gorgeous as the Banff-Jasper run was, I was a bit glad to move on past Jasper. The views are all so perfectly framed with the conveniently placed pullouts where everyone stops, piles out of the bus or van and snaps the requisite photos, it starts to seem almost contrived after a while.
The majority of the tourist traffic was left behind at Jasper, and the rest of the day's ride to McBride was a good one, as we ran along the Fraser River for a while.
Friday, July 25
And it's also great to know that I don't have to get back on the bike for a few days, and when we do continue on our way, there will be no more grueling long days of highway riding.
We spent today catching up and some chores like a bit of laundry, bike washing, re-organizing he pack a little bit, and a lot of relaxing. I got to play with their Wii, and now I really want one (like I didn't before), especially since my Wii Fit age is only 34. Right now their new dog, Lily, is licking my foot while Molly and I hang out on the couch watching cartoons. Keith and I will be heading out in a bit to meet up with Joanada for dinner and then back to play more Wii with the family.
Tomorrow we'll be back on the road and cruising through Banff National Park. we're ridden this route before, and I can't wait to revisit a nice road after 5 days of boring interstates and the Transcanada.
We laughed. We cried. We sweated. It was all about the Git Er Done. Today proved that riding just to cover miles is not fun.
We've traveled some boring roads, but riding four lane highway over the prairies takes the cake.
- Merde...il pleut.
- Mmmmmmm....chicken fried steak! alas not as good as Okie.
- Oh good, it's stopped raining...blue sky!
- Wow. Is Northern North Dakota ever flat.
- OMG is that sun ever hot!
- Sitting at the border in this gear = sweating in unpleasant places. Almost wish is would rain again,
- (An hour or so later) I need to be careful what I wish for. Wet again.
- Saskatchewan's new tourism tag line cracks me up: Hard to spell. Easy to draw.
- Is it just me, or did it get FLATTER? Saw a sign for a town 15 kms away and I can already see the grain elevator in the distance. The bonus is that you can see oncoming weather in plenty of time to suit up.
- Moose Jaw!
- It's surprising just how tired highway riding makes you. In bed by 9...good grief.
But a lovely day of interstate travel was ahead of us. More ipod. In a not unrelated sidenote, WHAT was I thinking, putting the full-length 15-minute long version of Nick Cave's I'm On Fire on a traveling playlist?? It went on and on and on and on, much like I-94.
I have a new version of hell. Being stuck behind a full livestock truck on a sunny, warm day, Extra hell points if the livestock in question is pigs.
But the ride was good. We only hit construction in a few places, there were no major slowdowns, and the weather gods were kind enough to make it sunny and in the mid 20's. t was a good day of watching the rolling cornfields of Minnesota change to the rolling grasslands of North Dakota.
We finally called it a day around 8, rolling into a small town called Medina, just off I-94. And before you ask, it's neither funky nor cold *grin. It's one of those little towns with one main street, and 6 or 7 little cross streets running off it. at 8 pm, the only thing open was the Dairy Freeze and the bars.
Tuesday, July 22
Last night we were able to meet up with Oh Captain and his family. They were generous enough to let us stay the night and it was a very welcome break to meet the family. They are very fun and friendly, and their two kid are bright and spritely - THANK YOU again for letting two Invisible Internet Friends to hang out!
We left Toronto pretty much on schedule, but in the middle of a rainstorm that was torrential in places.
This is where we learned that the manufacturers of motorcycle gear define "waterproof" a bit differently than we do.
The weather cleared up around London, and the rest of the day was fairly sunny. There was about an hour backup at the border crossing in Sarnia, most of it spent ON TOP of the bridge. Yay.
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful; there's not much you can say about highway travel. We made it in to Ludington around 8, and had an interesting dinner at the Hunan Palace before crashing at the Nova Motel.
Today was a light riding day, due to taking the Badger ferry across Lake Michigan. It's a far nicer to sit and play Scrabble rather than fighting the traffic around Chicago.
Then is was plug in the ipod and super slab it across to Rochester to meet up with
Saturday, July 19
And even the shoes have fit in.
We're aiming to hit the road for around 8am, crossing the border around lunch time, and hitting out motel in Ludington at about dinner time.
Of the whole adventure we have planned, there are really only two parts that give me the willies when I think about them and both of them are tomorrow.
- The highways getting out of the city (I know how oblivious drivers can be)
- Riding over the bridge between Sarnia and Port Huron (both fears in one: heights and bridges).
Wednesday, July 16
We've had to re-evaluate our packing situation. Originally we'd planned on splitting up the huge hockey bag that contained the tent/sleeping bags/air mattress bag and spreading it out over both bikes, eliminating the T-Bag for clothing. But after reviewing the weather, we realize that we need to bring some warmer clothing. Plus when we came up with the original plan we didn't take into account the new laptop, a game or cards, books, etc.
The packing list is a long one. Somehow we get everything needed for this:
- coffee kit with camp stove, 2 cans of propane, stovetop espresso maker (we'll give up a lot, just not good coffee), coffee and sugar, 2 cups
- 2x litre water bottles
- dry food: soup, KD, oatmeal, raisins, trail mix, pasta, etc.
- cooler: cream cheese, smoked fish, sausage, cheese, apples, etc.
- pots, pans, cutlery, cutting board, grill, collapsible hot dog skewers
- bin with misc camping stuff: rope, hatchet, repair kits
- clothing, enough for a week or so, good for both hot (could get up to 90 during the day) and cold (snow overnight in July is not unheard of)
- first aid kit
- rain gear
- shoes for hiking, shower shoes - it's packing the shoes that drives Keith crazy; they take up too much space and not much will fit inside them
- camelback for hiking
- tent, sleeping bags, pillows, air mattresses, and inflator
- 2 small cheap folding chairs
- laptop, AC cord and USB cable
- 2 ipods and AC charging cord
- phone and AC cord
- 2 cameras and AC charging cords
- deck of cards, euchre board, travel Scrabble, books, knitting
- maps, documents
- the kids - these are two bean bag toys that we travel with, stuck through a loop in the T-Bag. The cat has lost all of it's whiskers to the winds, the penguin is #2, as we lost the original during our travels. I know it's a bit silly, but they have meaning for us.