Monday, 30 April 2012

May 14th-15th, 2010

We often wondered if we’ll be lucky enough to spot any bears off to the side of the road while riding.  The ride to Meziadin Junction alone had us spotting 10-12 black bears.  Each time we tried to stop to take a picture ended up having them running away in the thicket.  I can’t imagine what goes through their minds when they see a motorcyclist; must be like witnessing an alien from outer space or some crazy new animal that makes loud noises and runs really really fast.  I managed to take this picture because I had my camera out and ready while riding the bike with one hand; not really the smartest thing to do. 

We stopped and took this shot somewhere along the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy.  Temperature was anywhere between 10-15 degrees Celsius (50-60 degrees Fahrenheit) at the time. 

We stopped in a town called Iskut to top off our bikes and grab lunch.  We were shocked at the inflated prices.  This can of beans and bag of Crispers cost us a whopping $10.  Oh well, what can you do?  When you’re out this far in god’s country, you’re at the mercy of whatever’s available.  Even if it cost $20, somebody will eventually end up buying it. 

These recreation sites are an absolute godsend for travelers on a shoestring budget like us

Park benches were recently renovated and the old ones were left behind in pieces for firewood use. 

Most recreation sites in northern BC, if not all of them, have outhouses for your sitting pleasure

The simple pleasures you take for granted when living in the urban jungle for too long:  apple sculpting. 

Most often we would wind down by cozying up and watching a movie on my iPod nano. 

The next morning was a bit cooler mainly because the skies were overcast.  I really do hope it doesn’t rain.  Here we have the first patch of unpaved road on the Stewart-Cassiar.  This lasted for only a couple of miles or so. 

And there you have it folks, proof that the majority of the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy is fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you want to look at it) paved. 

We stopped at Dease Lake for a bite to eat at a grocery store called Super A.  We used the facilities to brush our teeth and did our best to look presentable in public.  It’s been four days without showering and having to wear a motorcycle helmet for the majority of the day; one’s hair can look a bit funky.  We stopped at the local library in town to update the ride report and let friends and family know that we’re doing alright.  I also made the decision here to purchase online from Eagle Mike the KLR doohickey or chain balancer tensioner as some prefer to call it.  I didn’t want to leave it to chance and end up having the bikes breakdown in the middle of nowhere.  I had it delivered to Glennallen, Alaska post office through general delivery. 

We stopped at a jade store in Jade City to warm up as the temperature dipped down a few degrees.  They offered free hot chocolate to visitors which really hit the spot.  We also ate our dinner here, which more or less consisted of canned fish, a piece of bread, and a carrot.  We made it a rule of thumb from now on to eat first, then ride at least 20-30 miles before camping for the night.  

574 km

Many skittish bears.

The apple carving contest.

Saved by hot coco.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

May 13th, 2010

Today we are making a side trip to Hyder, Alaska.  The town is mainly known for people who want to say that they’ve been to Alaska because it is located on the most southeastern edge of the Alaska panhandle that you can get to by automobile.  There are no roads that connect to anywhere else in Alaska after Hyder.  The town is famous for the Iron Butt Motorcycle Rally in which motorcyclists attempt to ride to all lower 48 states plus Alaska in 10 days.  That’s just pure insanity if you ask me. 

Bear Glacier marks the first glacier Amanda and I have seen in the flesh.   I wonder how it’s going to look like 20 years from now. 

The border town of Stewart, BC.

En route to Hyder

We made it!  If for some reason they deny us entry to Alaska at the Yukon border, at least we can say we’ve been to Alaska…technically

Population is approx. 100.  We walked into a gift shop and started chatting with the owner.  He said it wasn’t unusual to see a grizzly bear walking up and down the main street during the salmon run season.

I think the thought of Iron Butt riders using these towels to dry off their bums after icing it to keep the swelling down is the reason why Amanda has this look of disgust. 

This is the infamous Glacier Inn where people become “hyderized”.  This involves taking a shot of 150 proof Everclear which is 75% alcohol.  You get a certificate if you manage to down it in one go.  If you don’t, you have to buy everybody in the bar a drink.  We passed on getting hyderized knowing that we’ll be under the scrutiny of the border guard when we cross back into Canada shortly. 

We grabbed an early dinner at the local grocery store back in Stewart and ate at this parkette.  We also shared an ice cream cone for dessert.   I believe the movie “Insomnia” was filmed here. 

We camped at another recreation site not too far from Stewart…

…made sure to find an ideal spot to set up our bear hang…

…and watched the sun go down. 

141 km

Of ancient blue ice.

A shortcut to Alaska.

Shot of gasoline.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

May 11th-12th, 2010

This morning we thanked GISdood & Brandi and continued riding west along hwy 16.  We figure it would make more sense to go up on the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy to Alaska and then take the Alcan Hwy on our way out.  This way we wouldn’t have to back track and see the same sights twice.  

We stopped at this recreation site near Topley and called it a day

We’ve been told by many that we’re jumping the gun a little too early for Alaska.  True as that may be, the benefits of going early is that recreation sites are virtually empty, not too many RVs are travelling on the highways, and the mosquitoes aren’t out yet.

After setting up our bear hang, we went over a few choreographed moves in preparation for any bear encounters

The following morning we took our time and cooked our oatmeal instead of eating it raw

We stopped at Houston, BC to take a picture of the world’s largest fly fishing rod

Came across this mountain somewhere along hwy 16

Many motorcyclists have taken their picture with this infamous sign post in Kitwanga.  Not too long ago the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy (Hwy 37) used to be a gravel road.  Today it is predominantly paved.

These recreation sites allow users to camp for free on a first come first serve basis, but are easily missed if you don’t keep your eyes peeled

It started to spit just as we finished setting up camp and were lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to witness this magical moment.  Nothing compared to a double rainbow though. 

561 km

We’re stealth like ninja.

Somewhere over the rainbow.

North to Alaska.

Friday, 27 April 2012

May 7th-10th, 2010 pt.3

Today was spent recovering.  We started the day with a hearty breakfast: eggs benedict

GISdood helped me change my rear tire

Yeah, I don’t think I can squeeze any more miles out of you.  Bye bye Kenda K270, hello Shinko SR244  

Jack was having a BBQ at his place and we were all invited to come over.  His garage was stuffed with motorcycles.  Most of them were for the safety course though.

The following day Jack offered to take us out riding on some dirt roads and to brush up on our off-road riding skills before tackling the Dalton Highway up in Alaska.

Trying out Jack’s KTM dirt bike; much nimbler and responsive than our KLRs

Amanda getting ready to tackle a sandy hill on Jack’s KTM

We were in awe watching Jack go airborne

Amanda making her way through deep sand…

…not as easy as it looks

I barely made it through the deep stuff when it was my turn to go.  Jack insisted that I do it again on his bike because he sensed that I wasn’t comfortable with it.  He said it was better to walk away feeling that you gave it a second try knowing that it wasn’t fluke than to walk away feeling scared and hesitant.  I gave it a second try and made it through.  I’m so glad we had the opportunity to ride with Jack.  He pushed us beyond our riding level and made us more competent riding in the dirt.  Thanks Jack.

Back at GISdood’s trying to get one more ride report entry in before we hit the road.  Might be awhile before we get internet access again. 

One last meal with our gracious hosts GISdood & Brandi

A lazy Sunday.

Practice session in the sand.

I think we’re ready.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

May 7th-10th, 2010 pt.2

The four of us took to the streets and attended a motorcycle show & shine in town

There was a motorcycle skills obstacle course set up by the people from PG Learn to Ride: Defensive Motorcycle Training.  Bikes were provided as long as you have a valid motorcycle license and a helmet.  Seldom do I ever pass on the opportunity to ride a bike I’ve never ridden before.  Where do I sign up?

Oh yes, riding on this Honda Rebel 250 sure brings back old memories.

 Last minute instructions from Jack, the head instructor.  GISdood helps Jack teach some of the motorcycle safety courses.

Here we go!

Some words of wisdom

Wow.  The last time we met riders from Women in the Wind was way back in Fellsmere, Florida with TheRidingLibrarian.

Prince George’s official mascot Mr. PG, constructed as a symbol of the importance of the forest industry to Prince George

Riding along University Way

Scenic lookout

Later on in the evening the four of us went to the Riverstone Bar to watch the awards being given out from the show & shine. 

We hopped in GISdood’s SUV which is imported directly from Japan.  Notice the driver’s seat is on the opposite side. 

Busting a move on the dance floor

There were balloons strung up on the ceiling which had tickets inside them to redeem prizes.  Later on in the evening they released the balloons on the dance floor and you had to pop them to get to the tickets. 

Both Amanda and I won hoodies which will come in handy as we head further north.

My reward for being the designated driver was driving GISdood’s SUV.  It was weird driving on the opposite side. 

When we got back to the house, there was a bee flying around and Amanda wanted to catch it with a cup.  We all laughed at the idea as Amanda had a few drinks in her and was already tipsy.  There was no way she would be able to bring herself together and manage to catch it without stumbling around and hurting herself in the process.  The bee landed on the ceiling and Amanda quickly seized the opportunity.  She climbed up onto the table, reached up and caught the bee using the cup on her first try.

It took the three of us a moment to actually realize what she had done; complete silence, and then started laughing in hysterics.  It wasn’t even really that funny, but I was laughing so hard, my belly was aching.   

Pop goes the balloon.

Keep your eyes on the pylon.

Bumble bee savior.