North To Alaska!!
Excerpts from the Log of "Barefoot" Goldwinging
The end of May, MawNan arrived, and we spent about two weeks preparing for the trip north. Friends in Recovery had planned a FIR West - Puget Sound BBQ get together on Camano Island north of Seattle Sunday June 14. We scheduled our take off for Alaska to take in the gathering on Camano Island. As we had determined to make the ride in a "sedate and dignified" manner, kind of ooozzing along with 55 mph as top cruising speed, we left out June 10th , going north into Canada through the beautiful Kootenai River valley, and across to Kettle Falls, WA where we stopped for a while and visited with Bernie R., before crossing into Canada at the border crossing north of Kettle Falls, Washington. As we were to be in Canada for longer than two weeks, we filled out all the papers and got inspected in accordance with their regulations. Turning left on Canadian Hwy 3, we proceeded to head west, making first camp about 5:00 in the afternoon.
We pulled off the highway near Christina Lake onto a dirt road going up the hill, and drove back about a mile to a open grassy clearcut ridge, with a small stream running alongside, down about 50 yards. We made camp 200 yards out on the ridge right in the middle of the old logging road. This was the first "roughing it" camp that Nancy had ever experienced. I set up a cooking tripod from 3 forked limbs, started a fire and coffee brewing. Nancy did the honors of cooking from our meager stash and we had a good meal. The night was clear, the stars and moon out, the fire was right for meditation and the enjoyment of good company.
Alaska or Bust!!
Along the Kootenai River
Historical Sign about explorer and trader David Thompson
First Camp on the Way to Alaska
An Easy Night
The next morning we continued on west across the bottom of Canada, tuning north up the Okanagan on Hwy97 to Kelowna, where we met up with Lorne and Dorothy A., Canadian friends, with whom we attended the British Columbia Old Time Fiddlers Competition Friday evening and Saturday early afternoon. We made camp right in the parking lot behind their RV, close to the Elks Hall where the competition was held. We were totally enthralled with the music for two days, listening to the beauty of the playing of many past champions and champions to be...the Cleavers and others ... met Lorrie, a champion stepdancer, who was marvellous in her dancing....enjoying good company and food with all who were gathered... a most enjoyable experience
Leaving out about 2:30 Saturday afternoon to get to the FIR BBQ we went across from Kelowna to Merritt and down the Coquihalla toll road into Hope and on to Chilliwack crossing back into the US and south to Camano Island, where we arrived late. We finally located Gary(NV) and his wife Janet's camp trailer at Kayak Point about 12:30am, set up the tent alongside in the dark and crashed. Waking early the next morning, Gary had coffee on at 6:30am, we had breakfast and about 11am set out to find the location of the BBQ at Marilyn's. We all gathered, about 15 of us, and we enjoyed each other's company for about 6 hours, having a great BBQ and recovery ESH. Gary (NV) aka SLIM took these photos.. Some had bugged out before the photos were shot.
FIR West Puget Sound BBQ
On Camano Island June 14, 1998
DC FREE-Peter-Brian-Gary N-Barefoot
(Don T)-Jon-Marilyn-Nancy S-LA Larry
FIR West Puget Sound BBQ
Brian-Barefoot-Gary N-LA Larry-DC FREE-Peter-Don T.
About 2 pm, Nancy and I left out from Camano Island, fueled at Stanwood and headed back to the Canadian Border. We crossed the border, and headed for Hope, where we would turn North To Alaska up Hwy 1 and the Fraser River Valley. Reaching Hope, we were suddenly rained out for about 2 1/2 hours, waiting it out in a Subway sandwich shop. There was still a slight misting rain in the Fraser Canyon leaving out of Hope, but within a few miles it cleared up completely. We made camp at Skihibe, a very nice provincial campground. The sun was bright and everything was dried out. Nancy cooked up a good dinner, and the day was finished about 9pm.
Waterfalls in the
Frazier River Canyon
Above Hope, British Columbia
Channels of the Frazier River
There are 5 here,
but we only see 2
| Montague Roadhouse|
up the Frazier
From the Gold Rush Days
We somewhat settled into a pattern, breaking camp about 9:30 every morning, riding until we had about 150-200 miles for the day, stopping for lunch along the way, and making camp about 5 or 6pm. We made Williams Lake, camped in the Stampede rodeo grounds just below town, had nice showers, and went into town for a meeting at the Hospital. We were in bed by 11. In talking with some folks we got word of Liard Hot Springs to soak in up on the Yukon Border and of road conditions on the Alcan above Fort St. Johns. Might be some rough going????
Waking about 7am, I made coffee and light breakfast in an overcast morning with a light drizzle. Decided it was a good morning to do laundry. We got that done and were on the road again about 11am. Rained off the road about 1pm at Diamond View, a wide spot in the road, but with an excellent restaurant run by Kris and Rene Taylor, a young couple starting out to make a mark in the world. Rene made up some of the best sourdough hotcakes I have ever had, and the eggs, sausage and homefries were great. Definitely a recommended stop for anyone traveling that way.
The rain stopped about 3:30, and we went on through Quesnel to Prince George, camping about 20 km north of P.G. on the Salmon River at an old mill site. It was still overcast, but dry and clearing. The next morning, traffic was heavy, strings of motorhomes and RVs headed north, but that was no problem. Most were traveling faster than our "Sedate and Dignified" 90 klicks max. (55 mph).
Not knowing how far it was between gas pumps, I started filling up about every 100 km, whether it was needed or not.. We had a good day of travel in clear sunshine, and temperatures in the high 60s., passing through Bear Lake, and taking the cutoff at Chetwynd toward Fort St. John, up through Hudson's Hope and the Peace River Valley. Beautiful country, lots of moose and deer around Hudson's Hope, and the rolling farmland bordered by stands of 150 foot tall Aspen trees was totally serene. We made camp north of Moberly Lake on a grassy point off the highway at Small Lake.
The next day we were on the Alcan Highway by 11am, filling the tank and having lunch there at the junction of BC29 and the Alcan. We stopped that afternoon in Fort Nelson about 5:30, making camp in an RV park, showered, shaved and shinolaed, and went to a good meeting at the Fellowship Center. We had a meeting after the meeting over Icecream and Pie, and were in bed by 11pm.
It was a dry camp the next morning, NO FIRE, NO COFFEE, so I packed up while Nancy went to the washroom, and we were out of there by 8:45, got coffee soonerest in town. Climbing up into the mountains to Summit Lake, filling up there, we had traveled about 130 miles. We acquired a bit of water in the gas, and had a sputtering engine for some time. Coming to a stretch of road that was under construction, we made camp up on a point above the construction waterhole, nice grassy level site. I made a fire and coffee, and had coffee with the tank truck driver when he came in to pump a load of water. This was the ONLY site on the whole trip where we were really pestered by insects. There were gillions of little black flies, but no mosquitoes.
Going through the 30km long highway re-alignment construction area the next morning we had got all the way through when a truck honked at us and told me I had lost a cover off the left side box, so back through the site to see if I could spot it. No luck. It is now a piece of history, buried in the Alcan Highway. I rigged a trash sack and bungie cord to cover stuff and headed north again. The bike was running shitty, and would for the next several days. It would be alright for a while then go sour. North of Watson Lake at an abandoned construction site, I took the carbs off, blew everything out, checked the points and valves, and things were a little better. We made camp on the Rancheria River about 50 klicks out of Watson lake, right on the abutment remains of the primitive log bridge built in 1941 during construction of the Alcan.
The Sign Post Forest on the Alcan at Watson Lake
MawNan figuring out which way to go
Still running lousy, I got some injector clean stuff in Rancheria, and it seemed to be cleaning up the problem. By the time we reached Teslin it was running OK, still missing on occasion. We stopped and soaked for a while at Liard Hot Springs. If you are travelling the Alcan, that is a for sure DON"T MISS IT! Wonderful pool about 150 ft long, fine gravel bottom, with a 3 foot falls in the middle to let the water pound on your back, about 105 degrees. The source runs about 135 and with cold water running in from the surface, cools rapidly from the high end of the pool to the low end. Just by moving around a few feet you can adjust the temperature to your liking.
We continued on to Teslin, where we had lunch at Wong's, quite possibly the worst Chinese food I have ever eaten, and a sharper of prices to boot. Definitely a stay away from. We rode on in to Whitehorse, caught a meeting at Merryhouse, pie and ice cream after, and went on out to Takhini Hot Springs to make camp. We had lost all track of time as the sun was not setting until midnight and then only for a few minutes. We showered, did laundry, make late snacks, and finally went to bed in daylight about 11pm.
Waking in the morning to a slight drizzle, we lazed around in the hot spring pool until we couldn't stand it any more, and broke camp about 11:30.
North of Summit Lake and on into Alaska, the terrain is mostly rolling and the trees are tundra forest, by and large. I call them toothpick forests. The permafrost only melts out for a couple of months a couple of feet deep and the black spruce trees may get to be 15 feet tall and an inch and a half in diameter, but may be 150 years old.
From Takhini we headed north toward Dawson, crossing the Yukon River at Carmacks. We made camp on the Klondike, about 40 klicks out of Dawson. We played in the river, made a good dinner, no mosquitoes, enjoyed the evening, although you couldn't really tell it was evening. I watched the upper limb of the sun dip to the horizon at 11:45pm, skimming along the top of the distant hills. I woke from sleep about at 2:45 am and it was just full sunrise, the lower limb climbing clear of the ridges. The darkest it got was just dusk.
In The Yukon!!
Cooling it in the Klondike
Cold Feet in the Klondike!
The Midnight Sun
Wildwater on the Klondike!
When I got up again at 7:50 the sun was way up, and there were no mosquitoes, even though we were camped on a grassy area of a sandy mud flat alongside the Klondike. It was a beautiful clear morning. We were slow breaking camp, but finally were on the road about 10:45. On in to Dawson City, a town of about 1500 "permanent" residents, but about 4500 at any given moment during the summer, counting tourists and tourist service people, lumping everyone together.
Dawson is a rather unusual town, as it has no foundation, being built atop permafrost. All buildings are insulated underneath, to keep the permafrost from melting and the buildings settling into a quagmire. It is literally afloat. Almost all sidewalks are plank, raised about a foot or so. The water supply system and sewage systems are circulated constantly to keep them from freezing. Streets are for the most part unpaved, built up of gravel and clay, hardpacked. It is still today much as it was during the goldrush of 1897, except most buildings sport a coat of paint, in pastels. We toured the town on foot, taking about 2 hours to see most everything. Nancy continued looking around while I was doing maintenance.
The motorcycle was doing its thing again. The speedometer registered 44900 when I filled up. In reaching this northern most city that we visited in Canada, I had put over 30000 miles on the cycle, with essentially no problems, other than oil and gas, and some adjustments. There was graveled parking for RVs and tourists, between the highway and the river. It was bounded by log barriers, and I proceeded to dismantle the carbs one more time using the logs as a seat and workbench. I took all the carbs apart, and rodded out all the jets with a piece of fine copper wire, figuring that maybe some of the old gas or rust from years of sitting had worked loose. I obtained new o'rings in the Dawson hardware store. I was finished by 4:15, taking 3 hours including two walks to the hardware store.
We went up Bonanza Creek as far as Dredge #7 and Claim #6 to try out the cycle. I tried panning for gold alongside another fellow who had been working the creek for about a week. Panning out 4 pans, I got one fleck. I asked the fellow how he was doing. He said that in 5 days of panning he had less than a 1/8th ounce. That figures out to about $1 an hour for hard labor. The creeks are all worked out at the surface, and to get any real show, a person must get down 30 to 100 feet through the permafrost to bedrock. Even with the big dredges they were not able to do that in most places, the dredges typically not able to get deeper than the 30 feet. I found out later that some of the miners did in fact get down to bedrock, using steam to melt the permafrost, then mucking out the mud a little at a time. In any case, it was more labor than I wanted to tackle, and the dream of striking it rich evaporated.
Back to Dawson, enjoying the "evening". The sun was still up 45 degrees at about 7:00. I parked where I had before, and we went across the highway to get something to eat. Coming out and back to the bike, we saw at about 8:00 four or five cars arrive at the old Anglican church across the highway. Ahh Haaa...I know what is going on, a meeting. There were five folks there in addition to Nancy and I. After the meeting we went to Nancy's cafT for meeting after the meeting for pie and ice cream, breaking up at about 10:45. Met some real nice folks, Hal from Salzburg, Austria, and locals, Roger, John, Dennis and Michelle. As daylight still had a couple of hours to go, we took the ferry across the Yukon to the "Top Of The World" highway. We pulled into a government campground on the opposite shore, setting up the tent and making a nice camp and fire, as the "night" was cooling off.
The next day, after a fairly normal start, we went up and over the Top of the World, a well maintained highway from which on top you can see almost so far your eyes hurt. There was a little snow along the highway, and we stopped a number of times in sunlit stretches to warm up. It was a nice interesting ride on good road to the Canadian border with Alaska. Then........
At the border crossing the road turns to a downhill gravel and mud road, not nearly in as good shape as a typical Idaho logging road. In many places the road is narrowed due to washouts or gullying so that only one vehicle can pass through. The state of Alaska should be ashamed of it, considering what Canada has done on their side of the border. The fuel oil, diesel and gasoline for heating and servicing Dawson is hauled over the road from Anchorage to Dawson during the summer.
At the Boundary roadhouse a mile or so down the road, the first roadhouse in Alaska, built in 1897, we stopped for coffee, and a look around. The proprietor bought it and all the antique "junk" and remnants and leavings of the goldrush about 10 years ago, figuring it would take him about 5 to restore it, and put it in some kind of order. He figures that for every year he has worked on it he has extended the time by two years, with new projects popping up everyday. Still and all, it is starting to shape up. He lives there year round, snowed in for 6 - 8 months of the year. A real personable younger sourdough that loves to talk and talk and talk.
On down the miserable road to Chicken. One RV had hit a gullied washout and blew two tires. Other RVs were stopped to lend him spares. Another down in Chicken was having his front end rebuilt, having busted the shocks and bent the steering gear. Chicken was the center of the most productive gold mining area in Alaska, but is now a wide spot in the road with a road house and gas pumps. Chicken was named so because of all the ptarmigan that abound in the area and which the miners lived on. Nobody knew how to spell 'ptarmigan' so they named it Chicken. After I filled up with gas, had coffee, looked around at all the 'tourist' goodies I went out on the porch and sat down with one of the local sourdoughs. Asking about the gold mining in the area, I found that he had a mine about 7 miles out from Chicken by snowcat across the tundra. I asked how he was mining and how he was doing with it. He was working about 70 feet down on bedrock, had been for about 25 years, digging down through the permafrost the hard way, with pick and bar and shovel. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a hand full of nuggets ranging from a half ounce to 3 and a half, totaling about 15 ounces. That was the proceeds of the previous weeks work, not including the dust and fines which he said totaled another 10 - 15 ounces. Not bad for a week's hard work. But he only gets about 6 to 10 weeks a year when he can work it. Still, if that happened every week (which it doesn't), not bad for a year either. He had brought the nuggets down to the store to be sold on consignment as specimens for 2 to 3 times gold price.
From about a mile out of Chicken the road turned into a well packed gravel/clay roadbed, and we were able to "speed" along about 40 mph to Tok Junction arriving there about 7:45pm. We got some groceries at the store and set up camp in an area behind the Chevron station at the junction. We had a cold dinner of sausages 'and'. We sacked out about 11, but were awake at about 3am. The air mattress had gone flat. The valve had popped out. I moved the cycle around to where I could reach the mattress with the blower that plugs into the cigarette lighter, blew it back up, and went back to bed. Waking again at 8, we had coffee and granola for breakfast. We were out of cash, and had to wait a day for more money to hit the bank and the ATM.
It was a nice clear morning. We went across the highway to the TOK Civic Center, a beautiful log structure. The displays and a canned tourist movie of the history and sights of the area were very interesting and I recommend that anyone passing through take the time to see them.
Nancy, because of our irregularity with meals and time, was finding that her medication was out of wack, and she was having trouble deciding which way to go, if at all... I called a lay day, worked on the carbs AGAIN and laid around the rest of the day. Nancy spent most of the afternoon at a church across the road. We finally crapped out in broad daylight at 10pm.
We left out of TOK with a nice day in the offing. It seems that no matter what I did with the carbs the bike was running bad, but not all the time. I had drained the tank, put in injector and gas line water getter, had done everything I knew. And the problem still persisted, an intermittent conundrum. It was not to be until we returned home nearly 4000 miles later that I finally found the answer to the problem. More about that later.
The road toward Anchorage from Tok is in good shape, but frost heaved in all directions. I quickly found that if the roadside warning says "bump" it is no real problem. It is the "dip" warning that you have to watch out for. We tooled along for about 100 miles, making camp on the Chistochina River near Gakona in a mostly abandoned state park area. We were off the highway a couple hundred yards. There we met Jonas from Switzerland riding across the states to Alaska on a bicycle. Beans and rice for dinner. Finally used the solar shower, heating a couple of gallons of water in the afternoon sun. I rigged a pole to push it up and lean it against a limb on a tree. The shower was great. Nice to know that the thing works. It only took about an hour and a half in full sun to warm the water to comfortable from frigid.
The next day we rode down through beautiful country on the way to Anchorage. Near Gulkana a stream crossed under the highway, one of the branches of the Copper River. The banks were crowded with fishermen hooking into a salmon run. On down the Glenn Highway from Glennallen and along the Matanuska River, stopping a number of times to take pictures of glaciers and scenery.
A Beautiful Alaska Highway
Alaska and the Yukon!!!
The next day, I called around and found that it would take about 2 weeks for a cable to be ordered from the states. That would never do, so I made a pull cable out of the push cable, and had the bike back operational, but without a push cable to return the trottle. It had spring return so that was no real problem. We rode it that way for the remainder of the trip back to the states, where I went into MASH, my favorite cycle shop in the Spokane Valley and Sue had both cables in stock and for a reasonable price. I buy all my cycle supplies from Sue. She has good parts and accessories for discount prices.
We stayed around Anchorage for a couple of days, polishing and cleaning and working on the carbs. Again, nothing I did seemed to help. Finally we rode off around the end of Cook Inlet and down to Seward and Homer. At Homer the Icicle processing plant had a propane leak somewhere and blew up. We missed the explosion. I understand a couple of workers were badly injured and the plant was ruined. On to Seward where we rode around town, all of a mile, and went through the sea life aquarium there. Seals, walrus, and other sea mammals and fish. I understand all are there recovering from injuries of one sort or another, and are returned to the wild as soon as recovery is complete. We went up to a restaurant to eat and while we were there, they started moving the old bowling alley across the street. It was a gas, watching the amateur crew trying to move and control a building about 50 feet by 150 feet and work it around the corners and up the hill. All of the workers were volunteers, salvaging the historic old building and moving it to the outskirts of town. There were folks in the restaurant hooting and hollering and placing bets on just about every facet of the operation. They knew everybody on the crew, and the disparaging remarks were rife. We left before they had it around the corner, heading out toward Exit Glacier to camp. We found a side road about 6 miles in and made camp under some big spruce trees near a stream that wasn't loaded with glacier milk. It was after 10 in daylight that we put it down. The next day we climbed up the glacier trail about a mile and a half. The amaxing thing is the distance the glacier has receded in the last 50 years - MILES!- There are markers for nearly every year since about 1925. It was cold and misty on the glacier face, so we didn't stay long, got back on the bike, broke camp and headed back into Anchorage to say goodbye to Annie and went on up the road towards Fairbanks.
Traveling about 60 miles out of Anchorage, it started to rain so I found a creekside pavilion at an old burned out place alongside a pond and creek, made camp under the pavilion, and slept warm and dry in daylight at 1 am.
The 4th of July!!- a lay day - did maintenance, changed the oil, adjusted the shocks, fixed the fuel guages, aired the tires, fixed breakfast and lunch, drank a lot of coffee in-between, and broke camp about 1 pm. We rode up through the Denali area on the Alaska Parks Highway, and thru Nenana about 45 miles making camp short of Fairbanks about 10 miles. We were on a side road out to a USGS benchmark. Someone had used it for a target and shot the tag and number off of it. It would have been a dry camp, but a game trail leading SSE off from it brought me to a spring on the hillside about 200 yards from camp. Making dinner and sitting and jawing, we finally fell asleep about midnight with the sun still up.
Waking about 9 am to a beautiful, clear, still morning. Making the fire and reheating the coffee from last night, I found that Nancy was not feeling well and was a sleepyhead this morning. Gradually, with breakfast and coffee she came alive, we broke camp and were in Fairbanks at noon.
After lunch we located the Fairbanks Club, sat around there all day talking to people, waiting for meetings and figuring out the next move.. we had $13CN and $25US between us. We had to lay over in the area until my check got deposited.
Sooo... the club had shower and bathrooms, we both took Loooooong tub baths, soaking and just plumb relaxing.. no one but us was in the club.... how good that felt, almost as good as new... Went to a couple of meetings in town, then drove north to the Little Chena River and made camp about midnight.
The Little Chena River
My Cup is sitting on the rock
Returning to Fairbanks the middle of the day, going to Fred Mayers for breakfast and supplies, sat around the club and yakked with Judi B and Doug, went to a couple of meetings, and then prepared to take off down the Alcan towards home, scheduling a ride on the ferry out of Haines to Ketchican and south to Prince Rupert. We sat though the night at a Safeway store and an ATM, waiting for my deposit to clear so we could leave, as we were broke after getting supplies.
Leaving out at about 7am as we went through Northpole, we stopped and took pictures of Santa's house and the North Pole, got back in the saddle, and made it down the road to a nice lake and grassy spot alongside the highway... we spread the tarp and sleeping bags in the sun, and did a little catchup on sleep... nice nap.
Santa Claus' House
The North Pole
One of the things about the "Midnight Sun", you can travel anytime, so on awakening and refreshing ourselves we headed out for Tok Junction, where we did the laundry while waiting out a storm front. It was over about the time we finished folding and stowing clothes, getting a sandwich, etc..
On down the road after the storm cleared to Northway Junction, gassed up again, talked with Andre Corpuz who was motorcycling around the world on a Beemer, and looked around the store. About midnight as it was getting dusk, we made camp at Deadman's Lake Campground, walked to lake and got water, made coffee with squaw wood fire, sat around and watched the sun dip, the stars shine for a short bit, and went to bed. Getting up about 11:30 we heated the coffee again, and broke camp.
There was a fire burning off the muskeg toothpick forest at the Alaska/Canada border that had crossed the road, but we were not delayed long, about 20 minutes. One of the surprises as we drove through was a lynx sitting on the side of the road, alert to rabbits that might be scurrying out of the fire area. The lynx, seldom seen, did not seem to be bothered by us as we passed by.
On down the road at Beaver Creek, Yukon at milepost 1202 we stopped at the 1202 Lodge for dinner...EXCELLENT SOUP and Bread... all you can eat .... Highly recommended stop.. So much for the advertisement.
Camped at Bayshore that night, and then next day we made it into Haynes Junction and the Kathleen Lake area on the way to Haynes, when the u-joint in the driveshaft broke. Kind of a God Thing that set up a whole chain of events. First off, as a result, we missed the ferry from Haynes to Ketchikan.
I had been hearing a noise for some time whenever we had hit a dip in the Alcan, sounded like a scraping noise, and had figured it was the center stand dragging, because we were loaded heavy. I had hit a dip one more time and stopped about 100 feet past where a survey crew was working to check it one more time. I could see nothing wrong, got back on the bike and put it in gear, let out the clutch and bang...that was the end.
One of the surveyor's just happened to be a cyclist, came over and said "You got trouble." I said "Yep, looks like the driveline snapped" He asked if I needed help getting it back to town and I agreed. He got on his radio, called another biker buddy to come get me. He arrived in 30 minutes with a cycle trailer and we rode back into Haynes Junction with him. And that was my meetup with Bill Horsey and Tom and Lynn Eckervogt. Tom runs Source Motors, basically a salvage yard and repair shop. We put the cycle in one of his empty shops, where I could work on it and Tom asked us to stay and put up our tent. He got on the horn, after I had got the busted parts out and had identified the parts needed, called around BC, Alberta, and the states to locate them. He found some "good as new" parts in Edmonton, AB, and made arrangements to have them flown to Whitehorse the next day.
The next day Bill Horsey, the surveyor, had to go into Whitehorse, so I rode the 100 miles in and back with him, but the parts didn't arrive. I drew $280Cn from the ATM. We nearly ran out of gas coming back because Bill had forgot to refill before leaving Whitehorse, but we weren't worried, we had his son and his bicycle with us and he could alway ride to get gas. We started coasting down hills, etc. to save gas, and made it coughing and sputtering, running on fumes, into the service station to the east of Haynes, totally empty. That afternoon, I helped Tom unload some firewood, and later I reloaded half a trailer load. I spent the remainder of my time that day unplugging the jet on the primus stove, making coffee, and map figuring. That night Bill brought over some prime moose steaks to Tom's place, about 10 pounds of them, Tom and Lynn barbecued them and we had a FEAST..
The following morning I thumbed a ride back to Whitehorse with a fellow going back to Ohio. What a ride, he was lead footing it, and damn near lost it in a sharp curve about 20 km out of Haynes Junction, but we arrived in record time. I went down to the airport freight office, picked up the parts, a whole new driveline and u-joint assembly, got back on the highway and a fellow picked me up, took me down to the bank and an ATM where I drew another $280Cn, and drove me outside of Whitehorse, back to the junction north to Dawson City where he turned. I waited for about 10 minutes when a fellow picked me up who was headed to Haynes. He left me off at the road leading into Tom's place.. Total turn around time Haynes to Whitehorse and return, 200 miles, in 4 hours 29 minutes, door to door. That is getting it on!!!
Installing the parts and getting everything back in place occupied the remainder of the afternoon. We sat around jawing that evening in Tom and Lynn's kitchen, paid up what I owed Tom for his help .. Total cost for parts, airfreight, telephone calls, trailer from where we broke down. . everything came to $187Cn and with great hospitality thrown in for good measure.
In the process of our jawing about the gold rush days, and panning for gold, Tom said that he and his father had a claim outside of Haynes, working deep under the permafrost. I asked how they had been doing with it. He got up, walked into his safe in the den, came back with a "fairsized" nugget. It was the size of a woman's clenched fist and looked about like one, 73 1/2 ounces...that is over 5 pounds of gold...unnnnghhh, why can't I find one ... about $30000 for gold weight, but he said that unless they could get 3-5 times gold value as a specimen, they wouldn't sell it. It is gorgeous. We closed out the day, way late, in the company of good friends. What more could a fella ask?
Leaving out a little late after saying goodbyes, in overcast weather, we headed back down the Alcan to home, having determined that I couldn't afford the ferry ride now, riding a little faster than our usual 90 klicks, through Whitehorse, and Teslin, stopping for dinner at Rancheria. We made an excellent camp a little farther on, camping alongside the Rancheria River across the river on an old original Alcan bridge.
Next morning it was a beautiful clearing day, but cold. We made it down to the Junction of the 37 Highway, the turnoff to the "Cassiar Loop" and got the final word on its condition. 300 miles of gravel and chopped up pavement from logging trucks, many accidents, 4 motorcycle accidents in the previous week. A fellow came in while we were stopped to eat, took his camper over to the repair shop to have a whole new front end put under it. It didn't take any smartz to make the decision to ride back the Alcan to Liard Hot Springs and Dawson Creek.
We made Liard Hotsprings about 5:30 pm. Walking in from the highway, as I approached the pool and the changing shed, I looked across the pool, and there was a bear, about a 2 year old, above the bank, looking down. I spotted a ranger coming down from above, and pointed across the pool at the bear. He took out a revolver and shot a "firecracker" round at the bear, causing him to take off in fright. I talked with the ranger who said, "He comes here frequently, must like to look at the girls."...LOL....
We got in the pool and soaked under the waterfall until about 8pm, got dressed and went across the highway to the Liard Lodge for dinner. Back on the road we stopped at Watson Lake again to wander in the sign forest again and to stretch our legs. We continued on and camped late on Prochniak Creek in a nice meadow.
Next morning was clear and warm, the sun topping over the trees about 9am and camp was broke and loaded and we were gone about 10:30. The road across the Summit was in great shape compared to coming up. We were in Fort Nelson by 5, got snacks in the store and continued on to camp on the Bucking Horse River. I figured the milage for the day, 290 miles to the Bucking Horse River, a long day...
We made the 27 junction at Fort St. John next day about noon, decided to ride on in to Dawson Creek and Milepost Zero, then doubled back around and down to Prince George, arriving just in time for a meeting at 8pm. We had made 431 miles, and decided to hell with camping, and got a motel, hot showers, and a good bed. Resting well, I went out and got coffee early next morning. Having breakfast of sausage and eggs over easy, hashbrowns and rye toast, we headed for Jasper.
A rack bold broke about 60 miles out of Prince George, letting the rack and load droop. I wandered around the woods looking for something to support the load, found a piece of barbed wire, a piece of cedar and with the axe, campsaw, buckknife and pliers was able to make an acceptable support and jury-rigged fix.
We stopped in McBride for lunch at a Snoopie's truck stop... DO NOT, repeat DO NOT order a Double Hamburger.... the BIGGEST Damn Hamburger I have ever seen, stacks up over 5 inches tall, the slabs of meat an inch thick, slices of local sharp cheddar cheese, the slab of onion a half inch, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber slices, home sliced pickles, and the plate of fries was unbelievable, a meat platter 4 inches deep in hand cut fresh potatoes from the field. My God, it was great. Had to eat it all with a fork and knife. GREAT!!!
We made Jasper and headed down the Icefields Highway, seeing a herd of about 50 elk alongside the highway not far out of Jasper. Taking a sideWe got to exploring up the Geraldine Lake road looking for a place to camp, and I spilled the bike on a gravel switchback, it had been running lousy again, and cutout just as I applied power to make the bend. I couldn't hold it up. Jeff Glickman and wife from New Mexico came along while I was figuring what to do to get the bike stood back up, and Jeff helped me lift it from where it was laying downhill, something I could not have done alone.
Back down to the 93A highway, after looking back and forth farther down the side road we were on, we found a beautiful camp spot on the river bank, isolated, by ourselves.
I was up with the sun in the morning, got coffee brewed, and breakfast made. Just kind of lolled around, not in a hurry. Slowly things came together, the camp broke and back on the road.
We got rained off the road near Saskatchewan Crossing, hunkered in our rain gear in the cover of a spruce, and we were standing in a wild strawberry patch with raspberry brambles alongside...so we picked berries, waiting for the rain to moderate. It let up a little, tolerable, so we meandered down to the restaurant/tourist complex at the Crossing, got some dinner, waited for the rain to clear, which it did in about an hour...the place was full of tourists, 15 or more bus loads, tourists of every nationality, a lot of Japanese, touring the marvels and scenery of the area. Unfortunately, our photos of the area were lost, did not develop. The area from Jasper to Banff is one of the most spectacular routes that is easily accessible to tourists and should be on everyone's list of things to do and see.
With the clearing and the sun we rolled on down the road, refueling at Hoodoo Mountain, and on down the National Parks Highway. It was a beautiful day, with wonders all around us, stopping for an icecream at Radium Hot Springs. Later on in the day we stopped for a good dinner at Canal Flats, and made camp early at the Wasa Provincial Campground, one of the nicest kept and provisioned government campgrounds I have been in. Normally we primitive camped but as we were getting back into "civilization" and fenced fields, we didn't find a side road to pull off on.
The Last Day On The Road... I awoke early and wandered around after making coffee, MawNan slept until about 8:30, we had breakfast, and were on the road by 9:30. We stopped and spent a little over 3 hours at Ft. Steele, a restored Heritage Town, 16 miles north of Cranbrook, BC. Go to the link and enjoy as we did. The changing photos are great...as was our visit. I have been there a number of times, and have sat by the hour watched the old tradesmen as they accomplish their work with traditional tools and equipment. Especially interesting to me was the shop and equipment of the blacksmith and wagonmaker. MawNan really enjoyed it, bringing back many memories of her childhood on the farm in southern Louisiana, as it did mine, growing up on the Hardison Ranch in Montana with the same skills in active use.
After Fort Steele we passed through Cranbrook on the way to the border, crossing back into the US about 3 in the afternoon. As we passed 3 Mile Junction above Bonners Ferry, I was tempted to go to the Yaak River Campground 30 miles east where the Troy AA Campout was just getting over to see if any of my friends were still there, but figuring it was Sunday and that most had left by then, I came right straight down towards home. I found out later that a number of them had stayed an extra night.
Only 80 miles from home, easing along, through Bonners Ferry, Sandpoint, across the long bridge on Lake Pend d'Orielle, familiar road and villages, made the turnoff at the Garwood corner shortcut to Hwy53, and got hit in the face just below my right eye by a bumbler and she nailed me, puffing up. 15 miles from home, we have it made. Stopped in Rathdrum at the Corner Stop Mini Market for an icecream cone, had fun licking it, dripping down our chins. Back in the saddle, the last 10 miles...thinking about what we had accomplished, glad to be home, but sad that it was over, what a ride!! What people we had met, the campfires we warmed ourselves and meditated in front of and cooked over, the things we had seen...
We arrived home at the ranch at 6:20 pm, July 20, 1999... having traveled 6667 miles going and coming on the Alaska trip.... Alaska or Bust!! We Did It!! And It is Over!! .... Oh, well, it is a marvellous, beautiful memory now, but still alive in these words and photos.
MawNan returned to her home in New Orleans two days later. God Speed.
I spent the remainder of the summer and fall going about 3-4 days a week to AA Campouts, Inchelium Powwow, Libby Timberlane, Flathead Retreat, and when not AA camping, was out playing at panning for gold in the creeks of Montana, Washington and Idaho.
This page is getting too slow to load, so this is the link the trip south to Key West, and back and forth across Texas to California and then into Mexico and home ... Lots of pictures of Mexican Ruins ... More Goldwinging South