Thursday, 4 July 2013

Fighting off the Bears in Alaska!

Thursday 20th and Friday 21st June, still at Toms house. On Friday I updated my journal and blog. Then rode a few miles to catch up with an old friend Cliff Danger, met Cliff in town and spent a couple of hours chatting about travelling.

Meeting Cliff and his bike Lucy, I had met Cliff last year in California

Saturday 22nd June : 230 miles, Toms house to Vantage Washington.
After saying my fond farewells to Tom, Sue and Charlie I made a late start and began heading North, I headed North East along the Columbian river and then took route 97 up North. There was some spectacular roads and I had to keep reminding myself that the tyres still needed a good scrubbing in before I can really start to crank it round the bends.
I arrived in Vantage, the campsite was $21, so I went off in search of the State park campsite which was $32 but was full anyway!
I did find a free campsite but it was full of young ones getting drunk and playing very loud music, so I went back to the original campsite and admitted defeat! The lady at the desk gave me a contractors rate, so I got the campsite for $10, what a bargain. She also told me her brother had been sadly killed in a traffic accident and he was a biker and had always wanted to travel to Alaska. So I asked her to write a small note and I promised to wrap it in a plastic sleeve and I will place it under a rock when I arrive in Alaska.

Sunday 23rd June : 230 miles, Vantage Washington to Peachland Canada.
Up early and on the road the weather held off and was quite pleasant.
I reached the Canadian border around 2 and had no problems getting in, the Immigration guy was more interested in my travels. Soon a queue had formed behind me, when I pointed this out the guy just said “let them wait, I am fascinated in your travels”
I was soon looking for a campsite but they all wanted around $30! In the end I got a bargain at $20, camp special for motorbikes. I spent a real pleasant evening chatting to a Canadian couple, managed to pick up a few tips including, the fuel in Canada is sold by the litre and here was me thinking it was really cheap!
Turns out its about 90p a litre, so not to bad.
Woke up in the night to the pitter patter of raindrops and when packing up my wet tent I thought to myself “living the dream” well if that was the dream you can happily keep it!

Happy to be in Canada

Monday 24th June : 240 miles Peachland to Golden
Setting off in the wet is never fun, wearing waterproofs I was literally boiling inside as the temps were quite high. I suddenly thought going to Alaska was not such a good idea.
anyway, progress was slow but steady. The Canadians drive like looneys and don’t use indicators and simply pull out in front of you and expect you to brake (reminded me a bit of riding in Russia).
However my choice of roads took me through glacier national park and the scenery was truly outstanding! The roads began to dry and I was able to carve my way round mountains!
It truly was an outstanding ride.
Bit the bullet and took a motel as the skies were starting to look dark. Not cheap at $80 and that was a cheap rate, looks like I will be doing a lot of camping from now on.

Tuesday  25th June : 300 miles Golden to Macbride
Rode the Icefields Parkway through the Rockie mountains. What a fantastic day, though it did start out with damp and grey skies soon the weather Gods were shining down on me and it stayed quite dry allowing me to ride some fantastic twisty and tight turns.

Wednesday 26th June : 200 miles Macbride to Macloud
Despite it raining during the night I awoke to bright and warm skies, soon I was on the road to Prince George, I was quite surprised at the size of the town. I did spend far too long there getting food supplies and updating facebook!
Decided to stop early and found a forest camp site, though it was going to be expensive at $16, Karl another rider I had met opted to share the site and therefore halving the cost. We spent most of the night discussing routes and what works best for our bikes. The mozzies were out in force! But deet managed to hold them off.

Thursday 27th June : 300 miles Macloud to Pink Mountain
Took a detour and headed for Dawsons Creek, so glad I did as it was the Mile marker 0 for the Alaskan Highway. This is where it all started!
I am beginning to think I have really underestimated the time and mileage to Alaska, so far the days seem quite slow and only managing around 300 miles a day. Stayed at a real crappy campsite, $20! And you had to pay $1 for a shower, so I cheated and did a strip wash using the warm sink water!
The campsite was just a sodden mud bath! And I struggled to find somewhere that wasn't water logged to put up my tent.
The start of the Alaska Highway

Friday 28th June : 340 miles Pink Mountain to Laird River Hot Springs.
Stopped off in Fort Nelson to use the free wifi at AW’s and of course treat myself to 2 baby burgers, the cheapest ones on the menu!
Outside AW’s I got talking to a RCMP Sergeant (why do I always feel guilty when chatting to a police officer?) anyway, Les told me about the roads ahead and gave me a card if I was ever in trouble. He also said, that this was the last place to get some beer before Whitehorse. Its just a shame I didn’t get bread too as there was none at Hot Springs.
RCMP Sergeant Les, a great guy who gave me some tips on the roads ahead
I had been riding passed a guy on a Honda cruiser all day, he would pass me and then further on I would pass him, it was like a game of chase.
turns out he was in the next pitch to me at Hot Springs, so we spent the night fighting off the dam Mozzies and drinking warm beer. We didn’t realise it was almost 1 o'clock in the morning as it was so light.

Jody getting ready to set off
In the morning I went down to the Hot springs and boy were they Hot! It felt lovely to lie and relax but after 30 minutes I thought I was beginning to boil. Also had to fight off the mozzies while getting dressed!

chilling at the Hot Springs, were the water was really hot !!
Saturday 29th June : 140 miles, Laird River Hot Springs to Watson Lake
A short ride to a lovely cheapish campsite, at $15 dollars I was happy, I also put 2 washes on as my clothes are starting to get a bit smelly!
So far I have seen 2 Bears, one I got a picture of (a baby I think), the other as soon as I slowed down he was off into the woods!
2 Mooses, the first I rode straight by until I twigged on that it was a Moose! By the time I slowed down he was off into the woods.
Seen lots of Bison herds, only stopped to take a picture of the first few. As for Mozzies I have seen a billion trillion of them! In fact some have become quite attached to me!

Sunday 30th June and Monday 1st July : 330 miles Watson Lake to Whitehorse
With Monday the 1st of July being Canada day, I decided that it would be nice to spend 2 nights in Whitehorse. I also had met another biker on the way, Harry was originally from Holland but had lived in Canada most of his life.
We spent a lot of time just hanging around and chatting, we also went down to watch the Canada day parade, which was quite eventful! And very entertaining.
However the weather was a mix of sunshine and rain spells but we made the most of it and had a lovely day out.

Canada Day parade at Whitehorse

Tuesday 2nd July : 300 miles, Whitehorse to Beaver Creek
Woke up to nice sunshine and was soon packed up and on the road. I met a BMW rider who had broken down and was waiting on a replacement alternator  belt. He warned me that the road to the border was quite bad. I did hit a fair bit of gravel where they were replacing the road surface, however the worst bits was where the ground had pushed up, creating a ski mogul type surface. The going was slow in places.
I did try and cross the border but just as I left Canada the rain started to come down, then I saw roadworks, gravel ahead for 14 miles, so I turned back to Beaver Creek and camped the night. I will face the bad roads first thing in the morning.

Wednesday 3rd July : 340 miles, Beaver Creek Canada to Fairbanks Alaska USA
The rain came down heavy in the night and I was glad that I had made the decision to turn back and rest for the night, in the morning the rain had eased off and soon after breakfast I was on my way.
The roadworks were not to bad! It was a bit slippery in places but on the whole the road was hard packed gravel and soon I was at the Alaskan border.
The border guard was very chatty and interested in my travels, though he did struggle to find my entry stamp in my passport as I have quite a few now!
Soon I was on reasonable tarmac roads and able to make some decent speed up. Until a Moose jumped out right in front of me! I had to slam the brakes on to avoid him, clearly the Deer Whistles fitted to my bike don’t work for Moose’s, unless of course this one was deaf!

Arrived in Fairbanks and was surprised at the size of the City, it’s kind of weird being a city in the middle of nowhere. I soon found Sven’s Hostel and Campground. I decided to have 2 nights and take a rest as the next day was the 4th of July. However, since spending a night here I have decided to have 3 nights and hopefully tomorrow get an oil change done on the bike, which so far has been a delight to ride apart from I am over stretching for the handlebars, which cause slight neck and shoulder ache!
For Barb in the campground, for her Brother who was killed in a RTA before he had a chance to go to Alaska

Finally I come to end of the Alaska Highway, 1442 miles of mental pain lol

The end of the Alaska Highway
Sorry for the long update, I promise to try and do more regular updates in future

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