My buddy, Jacob Peek, has now posted the photographs taken during my ride north. He has made a major revision in the format, and I still have to seek instructions on how to view the photographs. Maybe you can figure that out. Take a look and let me know. I did notice that the Photograph Names did not transfer over. I plan to spend some time over the next few days renaming the photographs so you will have some idea of what you are viewing.
Once again, I am indebted to Jacob and my nephew, Ken Causey, without whom I would have neither this blog nor the posting of these photographs.
I arrived back at my home, on Baffin Bay in Texas exactly one week ago almost to the minute. So why am I only now updating my Blog. I simply cannot explain it--in fact I did the same thing when I returned from Tierra del Fuego. I suppose I just do not have the courage to admit that the adventure is now at an end. Actually, I have found both times that as I get near the end of the ride, I seem to go into a "funk". A more sophisticated rider, might label that as a bit of depression. However, Texas riders to do not admit to depression. They just suffer from a bit of "funk".
After returning to Texas, the ride west and then east back to Riviera can only be described as hot, dusty and very dry. And very hot! Very, very hot! It has taken me the whole week just to recover. I ride a bit every day, but at a steady temperature between 97 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I don't seem to ride far.
How did the ride to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean compare to the ride to Tierra del Fuego? Well, I should have ridden to north first and then ridden south through Central and South America. After the adventures of Central and South America, the ride north was a bit tame. Maybe even anticlimatic.
But let's not overlook the beauty of Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska. The roads were great, the mountains, lakes and rivers were grandiose and the wild animals were everywhere. And the people! As good and great as the folks that I met in South and Central America. Almost as great as my friends here in Riviera, Texas! And new friends, people like Ron Clark, Gary and the entire Airhead Group and Bruce and Erma Hoffman. And seeing old friends, Brad Rogers, Paula Sanbakken, Kyle and Bonita Thomas, Teri and Dave Blauer and Tom and Karen Johns (all who fed and gave me lodging)! Truly a great adventure!
What next? I have a few short rides planned, maybe to Ruidosa in September, down into Mexico in a few days, into Arkansas in October....and soon I have to take some time to go back to Guatemala to really study Spanish. A longer ride? I am pondering. Last week my buddy from Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, Mathias Schmid, wrote suggesting I meet him in Africa and spend time riding that great continent. I would love to but it is not in the cards for me. Mathias will make it a multiyear ride and I simply cannot devote the time to it. Kyle Thomas suggested that he and I ride the perimeter of Australia next year. That is doable. And I even speak the language, with a bit of an accent. So if Kyle is game, I am too!
Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico were fujn, as always. Cool mountain weather, winding and beautiful mountain roads and several friends along the way. In Durango, I stopped to attend a meeting with a small group of BMW riders. All interested in traveling to South America and Ushuaia. Alaska was not on their agenda, perhaps because they already ride every day in the mountains.
Finally I arrived in one of my favorite destinations, Taos. I cannot remember why I do not live in Taos, perhaps because of the winter. Snow is not conducive to motorcycle riding. One night in Taos and I was on my way south. Camping over the night at Concho Lake, just outside of Tucumcari. A gentle rain in the night but a nice and cool morning! And then off to Texas!
Texas! Dry, hot! Hot, yes, over 100 degrees in midafternoon and constant dry dusty wind. I love it! But today my helmet totally disintegrated. And I really must ride in a helmet, if only to keep my head from toasting. In a quandry, I pointed the Goose toward the one city where I thought I could find a good motorcycle shop. Late afternoon and I was in San Angelo at Family Power Sports, a really nice motorcycle dealer. One hour later and I was the proud owner of a new helmet and a pair of lightweight summer riding gloves.
Leaving the cycle shop at 600 P.M., it was still blistering hot. No camping tonight. I quickly checked into a nice LaQuinta! Clean, internet, air condiitioning and only $54 after some serious negotiatiions.
Tomorrow I am headed further south into the really hot country for a couple of days riding with new friends. And then on Sunday I hope to make it to San Antonio and visit with Jacob Peek to see if he can post my photographs on this blog. Several of you have written me asking why I have not taken photographs during this portion of my adventure. I have taken many, but I do not have a means of posting them. Maybe Jacob can help me find a way to share the scenes with you.
And then on to the coast of South Texas where the drought continues and the temperatures are above 100 degrees every day. If it seems to you that I am stalling, I am! I can't bear the thought that this, my dream for the past twenty years, is almost complete! I will do one last update on this adventure after I reach San Antonio Sunday.
Friday and Saturday passed quickly in the company of my friends, Karen and Tom Johns. Great company, mountain and lake scenery and great meals. What else can a wandering motorcyclist ask for. A classic car show on Saturday capped off by dinner (on Tom) at a fabulous Mexican restaurant!
Sunday morning Karen was up early, at the grocery, picking up fresh fruits and pastries for breakfast. Exactly like the breakfasts that I was served in Argentina and Brazil. But by 8:30 A.M. The Goose and I were off, headed east out over Highway 50, The Lonliest Road in America. Thru Nevada and much of Utah and then south to Moab. Sunday was a spectacular ride. Riding briskly over the most beautiful mountain roads, the Goose took the lead, running a full 593 miles until finally reaching Cortez, CO, just on the border of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.
Why Cortez? Because I had a great desire to visit Kelly and Karl, two amazing people that I first met at the Costa Rican border, back on November 3, 2008. Two smart and adventurous souls riding two up on their own adventure. Their destination? Ushuaia, where else? Kelly, a emergency room nurse and Karl, a physcians assistant. Both with a real zest for life and no fear of what lay ahead. Riding on a 2007 KLR650. Several hours spent together at the border of Costa Rica and then again in early January, 2009, at Ushuaia where we met at Rio Pico Campground, the home of all adventure riders in Ushuaia.
Upon their return to the States, Karl and Kelly relocated to the Four Corners Area, where Karl and Kelly are both providing much needed medical services to the local people, most of whom are the proud and delightful Native Americans who settled in and tamed this region hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. Sunday night we had dinner together and relived our adventurs of the past many months.
Monday morning? I am not sure but it will be more of this great adventure!
My time in Portland was great! After departing Erma and Bruce, I traveled a short distance to the home of my friends, Dave and Teri Blauer and had a wonderful reunion. Teri had a family day planned so I was able to meet all of her family and also enjoyed more of her good cooking.
Tuesday morning I departed for a leisurely ride to Northern CA. A beautiful ride in great weather. Some of the most spectacular views in America, past Mount Shasta and the Redwood Forest. Arriving in Folsom on Tuesday afternoon, I spent the next two days with old and close friends, Bonita and Kyle Thomas. Kyle is an avid bicycle rider, having ridden Australia and other great rides by bike. Luckily for me, Kyle also is a dedicated motorcycle rider. Wednesday morning found Kyle on his Triumph Tiger briskly leading me through the same wonderful roads we rode together twelve years ago when I lived across the street from Kyle and Bonita. Good company and food, but Thursday morning once again saw me and the Goose departing for new destinations. Maybe if I stay each place only two days, I will not overstay my welcome.
Up towards Georgetown, into the Tahoe National Forest, on past Hell Hole Reservoir and French Meadow Park and Reservoir. Rapidly moving through the winding roads and mountains into the vast remote forests that once were my weekly riding adventures. And after four hours of challenging and fun riding, the Goose and I were back on the rough Interstate 80 heading to Donner Pass and the home of my friends, Karen and Tom Johns. At 3:00 P.M. I arrived at their picturesque mountain retreat where we will stay until Saturday morning when I will be off again.
Dinner last night was at a nice restaurant on the wonderous Lake Tahoe, the most beautiful lake and view that I have ever had the opportunity to see. Breakfast this morning in Truckee and today we plan to enjoy a classic car and motorcycle show.
My bike is running great and we have a number of delightful rides in front of us before heading for Texas. The adventure continues.
It has been a fabulous 4th of July! Yesterday, I arrived in Milwaukie, OR, a suburb of Portland. I am visiting with my friends and fellow BMW enthusiasts, Bruce and Erma Hoffman. Bruce rides a 1975 R90/6 and a 1973 R75/5, both classic "Airheads" cherished by those of us that who like classic standard motorcycles. Bruce is also a member of Oregon Airheads, a club of similar minded owners and enthusiasts.
Today, the "technical group" of this fine organization showed up at Bruce and Erma's to welcome me to Oregon and to work on my motorcycle. It was an amazing sight!. Led by Oregon Air Marshall, Garry Newby and Bruce Hoffman, this group of twelve or so people completely revitalized the Goose. Changed the oil and oil filter, mounted new Michelin Anakee tires, adjusted the valves, washed the bike, serviced the throttle, adjusted the carbs and who knows what else. The Goose has never run better.
On top of this Erma and her son Davis, prepared a barbeque for the whole group. A sumptious feast which I am still enjoying. What a 4th of July!
Tomorrow, I am heading over to my friends, Teri and Dave Blauer to join in a family party. Teri is a graduate of the Western Culinary Institue and is well known for her fabulous culinary skills. I am sure I will find something to enjoy. Monday morning, I am going through all of my gear and shipping all of my cold weather gear back to Texas! It is 90 degrees here so I have a lot of gear which I may never need again.
And by Monday afternoon, I will be off to Eureka, CA and then on south to see my friends in Northern CA.
A man on a mission! 539 miles today in the beautiful moujntans and valleys of British Columbia. The Goose needs tires and I have decided to head to Portland, Oregon to reshoe my mount. A friend a and fellow BMW rider, Bruce Hoffman, lives in Portland and he has committed to having two Michelin Anakees waiting on me, plus he is going to take some time on the 4th of July to mount them. We all know what a mess I would make if I tried to mount them.
I should cross the border tomorrow by 10:00 A.M. and hope to be in Portland by 5:00 P.M. While in Portland, in addition to visiting with the Hoffmans, I am also going to visit two other friends, Dave and Teri Blauer, who I have not seen for some time. Actually, over the next couple of weeks, I am going to be seeing several other friends in Oregon and Northern California. Then I will be off to Colorado to meet up with fellow adventure riders with whom I spent time in South America. Exactly whom and where is yet to be decided.
This adventure is nearing completion. From the southern most point in the southern hemisphere to the northern most point in the northern hemisphere. Texas to Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego and then from Texas to Prudhoe Bay! It seems unreal that I dreamed of this adventure for many years and now it is almost at it's end. But I am sure I can drag it out for a few more weeks. After all, there is no direct trail back to Texas and I have no GPS so maybe some wandering is in order.
Yes, I like Canada, a beautiful country with great people. But I really like British Columbia. Great snow capped mountains, delightful and friendly people and the greatest motorcycle roads that I have experienced. And to top it all, today is Canada Day, the 142nd anniversary of the founding of Canada.
To celebrate Canada Day, the skies were clear today. No rain! and it was much warmer. My day was perfect, made so by the help of several Canadians. After getting mechanical advice from two trusted mechanical advisors, Lester Foreman and Gary Newton, I decided to backtrack to the small village of Kitwanga, where there was a mechanic willing to tackle my leak. Upon arriving, I met Eric Dollop, the owner of Dollops Gas and Service. Eric immediately tackled the problem and within ninety minutes he had installed a new gasket and cured my problem. This is the spirit of all the Canadians I have met here in B.C.
While waiting for the bike to be repaired, a BMW R1200GS pulled in and there was Alvin Gerstner, an Iron Butt Rider from Topeka, KS, that I had seen in at least three other locations over 1200 miles. Alvin had spent the night in Hyder and was now on his way to Prince George. I am sure out paths will cross again before we turn in different directions.
Arriving back in New Hazelton, I discovered that there was a celebration taking place in the park, and I was invited. Great food and drink, children having a ball, derby kart races and all the chocolate cake I could eat. I even got to meet a RCMP Sergent in full ceremonial uniform. And no rain.
Forty miles down the highway and I arrived at Smithers. What a shock, some semblence of the civilization that I had left behind. A Dairy Queen, McDonalds and KFC! And a golf course but guess what I saw on the fairway. Two black bears--at first I thought it was Eric and Frank but no--it was actually two black bears.
At 8:30 P.M. i arrived here in Prince George. What a great day this turned out to be. I got the bike fixed, met a number of nice people, attended my first Canada celebration and managed to even ride 379 miles.
Tomorrow, I plan to ride south, maybe to the outskirts of Vancouver. Today was great, on this 142nd anniversary of Canada, The adventure continues!!
Monday night and I am back in Watson Lake, the home of the "world famous signpost park". As you know, I visited this great town on my way north and stayed in the Air Force Lodge, First built in 1942 to house U.S. Army Air Corps Pilots stationed in
Watson Lake, under the Lend Lease Program, The lodge has been totally
restored. Tonight I am once again in an immaculate, if small, room exactly like
an Air Corps Officer would have inhabited in 1942. A great, if small
bed, a small desk, and
a shared latrine down the hall but this time I do have a television. I must have been promoted since my last visit.
Today's ride started cold, with steady rain, but after 75 miles, I rode out of the rain only to once again ride into the rain about ten miles north of Watson Lake. Tuesday I plan to ride south down the Cassiar Highway, a rather primitive ride, partially "chip seal" roads, some gravel and some pavement. Approximately 750 miles to Prince George and then another five hundred miles to Vancouver. Reputedly one of the most beautiful rides, through much of British Columbia and Vancouver. An area known for much rain! So what else is new?
Upon my arrival in Watson Lake, I visited Campground Services. Ltd. where the young owner spent about an hour changing the oil on the Goose and doing some other maintenance items. I am still 1500 miles or so from a BMW dealer and I do like to keep fresh oil in the bike. I just hope that the service man knew what he was doing when he changed the oil filter. It is a complicated process..
A challenging road tomorrow, beautiful scenery and many wild animals along the way and another day of adventure!
Rain, cold continuous rain. The only day that I have not had substantial rain was Wednesday whiile I was visiting friends in Cooper Landing on the Kenai Peninsula. And that was the only day that I did not ride the Goose at all. My friend, George Anderson, took me and Sam Fasson, a new friend, to Seward for a great meal of Halibut and some great sightseeing. Later that evening we were treated to one of my favorite meals, spaghetti and meat sauce.topped off with German chocolate cake. All prepared and served by Amanda and Katlyn. See, I really am being treated like royalty.
Thursday morning I departed The Hutch headed for Tok. What a beautiful ride. Majestic snow capped mountains for most of the 390 mile ride. And rain, cold rain, for about 150 miles. Arriving in Tok, I immediately booked a rustic cabin at Thompson's Eagle's Claw Motorcycle Park, a great motorcycle campground. Tent sites for $10, cabins for $20 and a bunkhouse for $10 per person. I stayed in the bunkhouse although no one else was there. My own cabin for $10. No electricity, water or heat and it was cold. During the night it began to rain and it rained steadily for the next two days. Yes, I stayed two nights, in the cold rain in a cabin in the woods of Alaska. I really had meant to go to Whitehorse Friday morning and I did start out in the rain but I had bike problems about thirty miles after departing. Hard rain and one cylinder cut out. I finally stopped and put in a new spark plug but the bike was still running terribly. I once again stopped to examine the plug and discovered that the plug gap was incorrect. And I had no feeler gauge.
Nothing to do but to return to my cold cabin in Tok and try to find a motorcycle mechanic. Arriving in Tok I found the Stihl Chainsaw shop and met the owner, Bryce. Bryce has some motorcycle mechanical knowledge and took a look at the bike. As I knew the plug was severely out of proper gap. But Bryce also felt that bike needed a valve adjustment. I also wanted him to check and lubricate my throttle cable. Three hours later, Bryce told me he believed he had fixed my problems. His bill--$234. That hurt, but what else can you do when you are broke down in rainy Tok, AK?
It rained all night Thursday night. At least that kept the bears and mosquitoe away from the cabin. Friday morning it was raining even harder but I packed up the bike and headed out for the Canadian border and on to the Yukon. The road in the Yukon is replete with frost heaves and is under maintenance much of the way. Gravel surfaces in six different areas for a total of 43 miles of loose gravel, in the cold rain. A beautiful ride, particularly around Destruction Bay! but at one construction site, I came upon a serious motorcycle accident, a Goldwing down after the rider lost it in the gravel.. A sad ending to one rider's advenutre. Probably an adventure he had planned for years.
Pushing on I finally reached Whitehorse, the capitol of the Yukon and checked in at the River View Hotel, ;the same hotel in which I rested some ten days ago. A challenging and cold ride today over 397 miles. After so much rain, I have to dry my gear out and also I need rest. I have decided to stay here in the River View hotel for two nights. Whitehorse is the most delightful town I have visited during this adventure. Both a modern and a frontier town, it is a great l stop. The Yukon has a total population of slightly over 32,000 and 27,000 of those live in Whitehorse. But Monday I will press to Watson Lake and the Air Force Lodge. What an adventure, even in the rain and cold!
Yesterday, I rode most of the day in cold, continuous rain. In fact, it has rained everyday since I left the United States almost two weeks ago. The rain intensified as I arrived at Denali National Park and the temperature seemed to drop. Fighting the cold and rain, I arrived in Anchorage about 6:00 P.M. just as the traffic was at it's worst.
The 100 miles ride from Cooper Landing was the most beautiful since I began this trip. Majestic snow covered mountains surrounding the Turnagain Arm, the beautiful body of water south of Anchorage. By 8:00 P.M., I arrived at Cooper Landing and soon was at the Hutch B&B, a lodge owned by my friends Shirley Wilmoth and George Anderson. And what a beautiful lodge it is. High on a hill, with mountains to the rear and the Kenai River to the front. And to make my stay even more enjoyable, Shirley's grandaughter, Amanda Sipola and her friend, Kaylyn Nelson are here for the summer. Two delightful young ladies, both sixteen years of age. I was born fifty years too soon!
I have not decided to where I may go when I depart. I know I will be riding south, probably towards British Columbia and then on down the western coast, maybe into Washington and Oregon. Maybe, if the Goose continues to run good, on down into California. And then back across Highway 50, The Lonliest Road in America. This adventure has many possibilities.
At 8:15 A.M.on Sunday, June 21, the temperature in Prudhoe Bay was 31 degrees F. with a wind chill factor of 17 degrees and a strong cross wind. So what did Ron Clark and I do? We got on our bikes and headed south towards Fairbanks. Four hundred ninety nine miles and 13 hours later and we were in Fairbanks. The ride was easier than the prior day's ride........except there was intermittent rain both days.
Thirty miles out of Prudhoe Bay, we passed several herds of caribou grazing along side the gravel highway. The ride was beautiful, especially the climb up the Antigun Pass, surrounded by snow covered peaks. When we departed we had not decided whether to stop at Coldfoot for the night or whether to continue to ride on to Prudhoe Bay (260 miles from Coldfoot). However after an early dinner of a chef;s salad, we decided to press on.
Arriving in Fairbanks,, it was obvious to every one that we had been to Prudhoe Bay. We were covered in calcium chloride and mud. Both our boots, riding suits and our bikes. Before even walking into the motel door, we went to a car wash and sprayed each other with the car wash to try to get some mud off of our boots and suits. This morning we were back at the car wash spraying and scrubbing on our bikes trying to salvage something of the paint. Mud will be dropping off the Goose for the next month.
Today was a down day, scrubbing bikes, organizing our gear and washing clothes and everything we have. In addition, I discovered that my spare glasses had fallen apart due to the rough ride over the Haul Road. Looking in the phone book, I found Image Optical and what a great discovery that turned out to be. The two technicians, Tammy and Maria immediately welcomed me and skillfully reassembled my spare eye glasses. Plus, Tammy took one look at my main glasses, which I was wearing, and said they were sorely in need of adjustment which she immediately performed. Twenty minutes later, they had be back in great shape and wished me safe voyage. I have never been treated as nicely and professionally as these two beautiful and gracious ladies treated me.
The Goose is running great, no oil leaks, thank to two outstanding men, Ken Duval and Gary Newton. Tomorrow morning will find Ron and me leaving Fairbanks, Ron headed out over the Top Of The World Highway to Dawson City. And the Goose and me? We are headed down the Kenai Peninsula to Cooper Landing, where an old buddy of mine,George Anderson lives. George and I have been friends for 25 years, going back to when we both lived in Grapevine, Texas. Now George a runs a fishing lodge in Coopers Landing and I seek out adventures in beautiful parts of the Americas.
Alaska is great, beautiful, with the most friendly and hearty people. I think I will explore more of this state before I depart for Canada. After all, I am on an adventure and what better place to pursue my dreams.
At 7:30.M. on June 19, I arrived at the Arctic Circle! Today at 2:30. The Goose and I arrived at Prudhoe Bay, at the end of the James B. Dalton Highway where the road comes to an end only two miles from the Beaufort Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean. It is cold and today's ride was difficult. I am tired but what an adventure!
Only six months ago, I arrived in Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina, at the end of the southern most road in the Americas. Interestingly, I was there for the southern hemisphere's summer solstice. Now today I am at the end of the northern most road in the Americas and tomorrow is the summer solstice here,
Yesterday morning found me at the Harley dealership in Fairbanks to have Continental TKC 80s mounted on the Goose. Joining me was a new friend, Ron Clark from Kensington, Prince Edwards Island, Canada. Riding a BMW R1200GS, Ron is also an adventure rider, headed for the Arctic Circle and Prudhoe Bay. At my suggestion, we teamed up.
Finally, by 4:30 P.M., we had our tires mounted and departed. Our route was the only one available. Riding north on the James B. Dalton Highway, commonly called the Haul Road. Beginning 85 miles north of Fairbanks, the Haul Road runs 414 miles north, over the most difficult terrain, to finally reach Prudhoe Bay. No real towns along it's route, only the remote outposts of Yukon, Coldfoot, Deadhorse and of course the oil industry supply outpost of Prudhoe Bay.
Four hundred fourteen miles of mostly gravel and dirt roads, cutting through the Brooks Mountain Range, the Yukon River, the Arctic Circle, the Antigun Pass and many miles of isolated and cold Tundra. Pass beautiful meadows, fields of wild flowers, beautiful and raging rivers and miles and miles of barren tundra. Pass grizzlies, herds of caribou, many rabbits, muskoxen and herds of dell sheep and the occasional lone wolf.
The Haul Road is quite the road, extremely primitive and a challenge for even the most experienced rider. Loose and deep gravel, mud roads made even more dangerous because of the maintenance workers constantly application of calcium chloride making them the dirt road impossibly slick when wet. The local description is "slicker than snot".
The ride was a challenge. Weather sometimes as low as 32 degrees F., snow flurries, rain, and mud. Three times today I thought the Goose had abandoning me. The bike made moves that I had never seen, moves that even the tango dancers in San Telmo could not dare attempt. Fear struck me in my heart and stuck in my throat for hours.
Ron and I stopped for photographs at the Arctic Circle and were immediately attacked by swarms of large and viscious mosquitos. We reached Coldfoot at 10:30 P.M.and being tired and cold we stopped for the night. This morning, we departed at 7:00 A.M. and after a cold and fearsome ride reached Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay at 2:30 P.M. We will spend the night here at an inn built for the oil field workers. It is a great place with boundless tables of food that seem to be available around the clock.
Three other adventure riders arrived later today, all in a daze after the challenging ride over the Haul Road. Tomorrow morning Ron and I will depart, heading south down the Haul Road. Once again in near freezing weather, riding over loose gravel, ruts and mud that is "slicker than snot". We will spend the tomorrow night someplace along the road, maybe in Coldfoot but also maybe in Fairbanks. It really depends on the condition of this tough road which is totally determined by the weather.
But what the heck, I was looking for an adventure when I set out on this journey. And such an adventure it has turned out to be.
Wednesday morning arrived with cold rain blowing across the Alaska Highway. By 8:00 A.M., Mike, Terry and I were on the road with Mike and Terry, on their two Harleys, leading the way. Our goal was to at a minimum reach Tok, just past the border (U.S.). We continued to get conflicting reports on this last leg of the Alaska Highway. Most reports painted a dangerous and rough highway, with much construction taking place.
The ride was over beautiful terrain, with low lying mountains and many pristine lakes. Once, while passing a large lake, we spotted two Grizzly bears walking through a beautiful area of wild flowers. I actually thought it looked like the purple sage of South Texas.
We did go through six or eight areas of highway construction, but none was particularly bad. There was less than 30 miles total of well packed gravel. While it did rain most of the day, the ride went fine, except for one brief storm. Just south of Beaver Creek, the rain got very hard and suddenly we were riding through a ferocious hail storm. Pulling over in Beaver Creek, we found a trading post where we waited until the storm passed.
By mid afternoon we were in the nice town of Tok where we rented a very nice log cabin for the night. A good dinner at "Fast Eddies" in Tok was followed by an early retirement to bed. A hard rain during the night beat a nice sound on the tin roof of the cabin. Mike goes to bed very early and at 4:30 this morning he was up fixing coffee. By 7:00 A.M., we were off to Fairbanks.
Today's ride was only 210 miles and we arrived in Fairbanks by noon. Mike and Terry wanted to go to the local Harley and upon arrival, I got a pleasant surprise. The Harley dealer is also the BMW dealer in Fairbanks.
Tomorrow they will mount Continental TKC 80 tires on the Goose. This is an aggressive off road tire and is what I think I need for the next leg of this adventure. From Fairbanks, I will ride to the Arctic Circle and then on to Coldfoot. The temperature is not cooperating. The high is forcasted to be 34 degrees F and the low, 28 degrees F. Rain and snow are a distinct possiblility.
The folks at the Harley dealer tried dissuade me from attempting this portion of the adventure. They tell many horror stories of rides who attempted ths and met with tragedy. Four hundred forty miles (each way) of mud, very slick, wtih intermittent stretches of loose gravel, often six inches deep. And I am really not a skilled off road rider, so I am very apprehensive but I must attempt to al least make it to the Arctic Circle.
Hopefully, upon arriving at Coldfoot I will have enough energy to then make it on to the Arctic Ocean, some 244 miles up even more treacherous and cold road in North America. After all, I set out on an adventure, not a pleasure ride!
Departing Watson Lake at 7:00 A.M., we rode northwest on the beautiful Alaska Highway. With Mike leading the way, Terry and I followed. Within minutes we encountered rain, cold steady rain. Light at first then heavier as the day progressed.
Cold, wet and foggy, we were having a great time. I do not think the temperature ever rose above 45 degrees F. And on top of that the Goose began to run poorly, very poorly. Soon I was running on only one cylinder. Finding a safe place to stop, Mike led the way into a service stop right at the Continental Divide. While there, we all put on warmer clothes and I decided to put a new spark plug into the cylinder that was not functioning. With the new plug, the bike ran perfectly---for forty miles, then I was once again running on only one cylinder. The next seventy miles was the same, occasionally running fine and often sputtering on only one cylinder.
By 2:00 P.M., we arrived in Whitehorse, the largest town in the Yukon. And I began a search for a place selling spark plugs that would fit the R100GSPD. The last place we visited had two, so tomorrow's plan is to fill up with fresh premium gas and start out for Tok, Alaska. Hopefully the bike will run O.K. If not I will once again change plugs to see if that helps. After all, I am almost 700 miles to the next city large enough to have a motorcycle repair shop.
Tonight I took some time to do some laundry and while in the laundromat, I met a young man who had moved here from Vancouver. Dylan Graves, 18 years old, is beginning his career here in Whitehorse. Currently working at NAPA Auto Parts, Dylan plans to train to be a mechanic. I can let him begin by having him repair the Goose. Dylan is one of many fine Canadians who have made me feel so welcome.
Tomorrow's ride is a bit of a concern to us. The weather will be cold and rainy. We have conflicting reports on the condition of the road. The most likely is that there are a number of stretches where the road has frost heaves from the constant freezing and thawing. Also, I am told that there is a significant stretch where construction is taking place and the road bed has over one foot of fresh gravel. And on top of that, I am concerned if my bike will even make it over the first mountain! What the heck, this is an adventure, not a pleasure ride.
Yesterday's ride was beautiful, weather warm and I covered over 500 miles. At 2:00 P.M. I reached Dawson Creek, British Columbia. This city is the gateway to the Alaska Highway, which runs from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska, A distance of some 1500 miles. Dawson Creek a city of 12,000 hearty souls, is the celebrated "Mile 0" of this exciting highway. The Alaska Highway crosses the entirety of both British Columbia and the Yukon. Major towns in addition to Dawson Creek include Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, and Whitehorse (the largest city in the Yukon).
Last night, I finally stopped at a small Provincial Campground in the mountains north of Fort Nelson and pitched my tent amongst the bears and mosquitoes. Yes, there were bears all along the way. Small cuddly looking black bears. The night was cool, maybe brisk, but pleasant. The mosquitoes were voracious, deadly and fearless. The bears seemed to disappear by the time I retired for the night.
This morning I headed out early for Watson Lake, only about 300 miles up the mountains. Along the way I teamed up with two riders from Sacramento, Mike and Terry and we are now riding together. Mike and Terry are making their way to a HOG Rally in Fairbanks and we plan to ride together for the next couple of days.
Tonight we stopped in Watson Lake, the home of the World Famous Sign Post Forest. The Sign Post Forest was started in 1942 by a homesick G.I. who tacked a sign on a post with the name of his home town, pointing the direction and listing the distance. Today there are over 40,000 signs in this phenomenal sign post forest, from all countries, but most being from cities in Canada and the U.S.
And my lodging for tonight is the Air Force Lodge, First built in 1942 to house U.S. Army Air Corps Pilots stationed in Watson Lake, under the Lend Lease Program, The lodge has been totally restored. Tonight I am in an immaculate, if small, room exactly like an Air Corps Officer would have inhabited in 1942. A great, if small bed, a small desk, no television ( there was no television in 1942) and a shared latrine down the hall.
Today's ride was the most exciting since I left South America. Beautiful mountains, alpine lakes, fast running white water rivers and animals all along the way. Buffaloes, bear, caribou, elk, mountain sheep and the occasional moose, all visible as we passed by on our iron horses
And tomorrow? Another day of adventure on the way to Whitehorse..
Eight O'clock A.M. found me at the rally headquarters for "Ride for Sight, a charity event put on by the riders of Olds Canada. Breakfast for $5.00 was economical and good. The fee for entering the Vendor's Exhibit was $50.00--these guys are serious about supporting their charity.
Last night I met Mike "Iron Butt" Bergeron, who rides an imaculate 1978 BMW Airhead. This morning he met me at the "ride headquarters" and we spent an hour or so talking motorcycles. 10:00 and I was at Champion Cycles and Dave was already open. He was confident he could figure out the complexity of changing the oil filter on the Goose and so he did. At least he and his mechanic, a young student, figured it out. By 11:30, the Goose was in top shape and we toured Olds and relunctantly departed for Edmonton.
I have learned to dislike large cities and I particularly dislike traffic jams. Arriiving in Edmonton I found myself once again in a long traffic jam. Barely moving, often not moviing, it took almost two hours to go ten miles. Finally I made it to Highway 16 and I am now 190 miles NW of Edmonton, in the small town of Valleyview.
While this part of Canada is nice, it is flat with straight roads and with little to see. I am told that will change when I reach Dawson Creek, the beginning of the Alaska Hightway. Built during WW II, this was the beginning of the Pan Amerriican Highway. 595 miles further up the Alaska Highway, we will enter the Yukon. I am excited to see this part of the country. And then another 750 miles and the Goose will cross into Alaska. How long will this take? I am not sure. There will be much to see. I suspect five days.
Tonight I am in a motel. Campgrounds through here seem to be designed for RVs and are not conducive to tent camping. Hopefully that will change now that I am leaving the hustle of city life. As I type this, it is 10:30 P.M. and it is still daylight outside. A native here just told me that yesterday was the longest day of the year here. It did not get dark until almost midnight and was light by 5:00 A.M. That give me a lot of time to ride.
Crossing into Canada this morning went smoothly. The Canadian Border official, George, was friendly and processed me through in about three minutes with only four questions and a look at my passport. Central America should take some lessons from Canada.
At the border, I met two great Canadian folks, Andrew and Roxie Smith. They were returning from a quick trip into the U.S. The nicest people, they invited me to their home for coffee and of course I accepted. Andrew and Roxie own and manage a large and beautiful farm only one mile out of the nice town of Milk River. Upon arrival, they invited me in and Roxie proceeded to make a large pot of great coffee. On top of that she also baked chocolate and peanut butter cookies. I almost just stayed there, they were so nice and the cookies were so good. Their house and farm are beautiful. I was most impressed with the beauty and condition of the farm and all of the equipment. It is apparent that they have put much work into it.
And some way Andrew and I discoverd that we are both readers, plus we both have the same favorite writer, Cormac McCarthy! What a coincidence.
Departing their house at 11:30 A.M., I made my way to Calgary, where I planned to stop at the BMW Dealer to get an oil change but I found myself in the largest traffic jam that I have encountered since Lima, Peru. Two hours later I had finally passed through Calgary and was afraid to get off of the highway since the traffic jam seemed to be all around me.
Tonight I am in the small town of Olds, Alberta, Canada. A small cycle shop, Champion Cycles has agreed to change the oil in the Goose the first thing in the morning. When I asked the owner what time "first thing in the morning" meant he said 10:30 A.M. Obviously he never worked with Andrew on a farm.
I think I am three hours south of Edmonton and tomorrow there is a "Ride for Sight" taking place here. This small town is full of cyclists, mostly Harley riders. I may stay here for much of tomorrow. What the heck, I am making too good of travel time anyway.
A great ride of four hundred thirty five miles of beautiful country and great weather finds me in Conrad, MT, only 60 miles south of the border. I seem to fall in love with every place I visit, but Montana is fabulous. However, I felt the same way about northern Wyoming. This morning I rode around in Sheridan, WY, a city of 15,612. What a great city!
Today's ride was mostly on back roads, MT 3 and MT 87, both hilly, winding and well maintained. To my west was a range of mountains, all snow covered. And the ranches, beautiful, green with large herds of cattle. I am convinced that there are more head of cattle in Montana than there are people.
As I gazed at the ranch houses in the distance, I fully expected to see John Wayne or Lorne Greene amble out to the porch in full gear. I suspect this country breeds that type of people. No wimps here!
The sky was clear all day. The temperature actually got warmer the further north I rode. The Goose is still running good but I think my GPS died today. What the heck, if I can travel South America with just a compass, I can surely find the Arctic Circle and Prudhoe Bay with the same compass and a map.
I plan to cross the border by 9:00 A.M. Friday and should be in Calgary by mid to later afternoon. I will be in Alaska in less than a week.
Mid forties and light rain. That describes my ride today, however I was in beautiful and vibrant country. Leaving Denver at 7:00 A.M. I rode 433 miles despite stopping often because of the weather and once because I again had bad fuel. Interestingly, I covered over 20,000 miles earlier this year in Mexico, Central and South American and never once had bad fuel problems. But after returning to the States, I have encountered bad fuel twice. No big problem. Draining the bad fuel, filling up with new, premium, fuel and the Goose is purring like a BMW.
Shortly after entering Wyoming, I passed several herds of buffalo and one time I saw a small herd of wild animals, antelope, I believe. The countryside is magnificent, rolling steep hills, winding roads and numerous beautiful lakes. The ranch houses are sturdy but very attactive. Actually this countryside looks like a scene from a movie.
Note to President Obama: Please send stimulus money to Wyoming so they can resurface I-25 north of Kaycee to it's end just south of Sheridan. Cold, icy winters have destroyed much of the road and resurfacing is needed. It will be good use of the stimulus dollars.
Tomorrow I plan to travel north to Great Falls, MT, which is only about 100 miles south of Canada. Checking the weather, I see that it is going to be much warmer in Great Falls than it is here. Maybe I can avoid the rain.