11-Jul-08 Today I hit the road again. It was hard to leave my family. Itís only been a year since Iíve seen them but kids change a lot. I took the back roads trying to avoid the interstate. After crossing the Columbia River, I turned west on Washington Highway 18. It runs along the north side of the river and has some spectacular views. I pitched my tent in a campground north of Goldendale and feasted on a beer, smoked almonds and some beef jerky. My body is protesting after two weeks of luxurious comfort. I only rode 220 miles and my back aches. I guess it will take me a few days to get back in shape.
12-Jul-08 I spent most of the day following the Columbia River going north. Near the river apple and cherry trees make everything green. The hills are dry and brown. I passed a large forest fire with white smoke billowing into the sky. I spent the night at the Omak Stampede Park. It was loaded with tents for the fire crews who were fighting a nearby fire. In the middle of the night I heard rain on my tent and felt mist on my face. Impossible I thought as I looked at the starry sky. Then I figured it out. No wonder the grass was so green where I pitched my tent...there was an automatic sprinkler system. I took a dollar discount when I paid my bill.
13-Jul-08 Crossing the border into Canada took a
long time. There was a big lineup of cars and when I got to immigration they
sent me to talk to an agent.
I rode through the wine country of Canada. Orchards and vineyards hugged the river and the lake. I stopped at a campground near Masonís lake. Mike and Jordan, newlyweds, invited me to drink a beer and I enjoyed the chat.
I was ready to stop because the evening wind was blowing me all over the road and the sun was in my eyes. The temperature was mild and I slept well.
14-Jul-08 Itís more challenging to find a wireless internet connection in Canada. Most of the connections are secured. Restaurant prices are high but the food is good. Some of the visitor centers have wireless access and there seem to be visitor centers in larger towns.15-Jul-08 Today I had to decide which route to take. There is a route closer to the coast and another that goes through Dawson Creek. Since the official beginning of the Alcan highway is in Dawson Creek, I decided to go that way. It costs about $25USD to fill up my motorcycle. This price is about the same as I paid in Europe three years ago.
16-Jul-08 The weather has been pretty good. Just outside of Prince George, I saw a very dark cloud and rain ahead so I stopped and put on all of my raingear. It takes about 15 minutes. I road thru about half and hour of rain and then it cleared. It took another 15 minutes to take off the raingear. Hmmm! There were a few more sprinkles but if I could see the end of the storm I just rode thru. I stayed at an RV park near St. John that had wireless and the Korean family who owned it let me run an extension cord to my tent. Such luxury!
17-Jul-08 About 50 miles south of Fort Nelson is Prophet River. I needed some gas to be sure so I stopped. There was a good spot for my tent next to the station so I asked if I could stay. I had a microwave sandwich and pitched my tent. There was wireless internet and they loaned me a DVD movie to watch. The owner was friendly and the picnic table next to my tent was like a meeting place for locals. They even gave me a diary and calendar with the name of the station. Thanks Prophet River Operations, LTD.
18-Jul-08 I aimed for Liard Hot Springs based on a recommendation from the Prophet River guys. The road changed after Fort Nelson to mountainous and curvy and wildlife started to appear frequently. I saw moose and big horn sheep. I stopped at the hot springs and had a welcome soak. It helped my stiff neck and sore body.
19-Jul-08 I stopped at Watson Lake to visit the sign forest. I put a Texas Longhorn sticker on a skull. I stayed at the Air Force Lodge, a refurbished WWII officers quarters. It was clean and comfortable.
20-Jul-08 I stopped for a giant honey bun at the Braeburn Lodge. But, they had just sold the last one. Instead, I had a really good open face roast beef sandwich. As I headed down the road, it started to rain and it got cold. By the time I reached Carmacks, my judgment was so impaired that I paid $130 for a room worth about $50. Their wifi didnít even work.
21-Jul-08 The following night I stopped at a lake and set up camp. I built a small campfire and read my book until I got sleepy. It was so quiet that every sound made me think about bears. My solution was to turn on my mp3 player. Apparently the bears didnít like my music.
22-Jul-08 When I arrived in Dawson City I looked for a cheap room. I found a great hostel just across the river. I ran into Masaki, a rider from Japan who has covered more territory than me. He was heading for Inuvik. He had some good tips about Central America.
23-Jul-08 The next day was an interesting ride. The Top Of The World Highway connects Dawson City, Yukon with Chicken, Alaska. Itís mostly gravel on the Canadian side and clay on the American side. The border crossing in Poker, Alaska was easy with no line. Riding on the American side of the border was like riding in peanut butterÖtricky. I arrived in Chicken covered up to my knees in light brown mud.
When I stopped at the Chicken Cafť, I ran into Darren from Corvallis. He and his buddy Doug were visiting the locals and brought out a big pile of fresh Alaska King Crab. With a little melted butter it was delicious.
24-26-Jul-08 I made the run to Fairbanks a little worried about my rear tire. I could begin to see the cord in a few spots. I had called ahead and made sure there was a tire available in Fairbanks so I was holding my breath. I stayed at Billieís Hostel and it turned out to be right down the street from Trails End BMW. George agreed to change the tire on my Kawasaki despite his better judgment. He had a slightly used Dunlop D606 knobby for only $35. He charged another $35 to mount the tire and I happily paid because I wanted to know how to do it. Iíve ridden almost 50,000 mile and never had to change a flat. I hope my luck holds.
I enjoyed the luxury of a larger tent, wifi, hot showers, and kitchen privileges. There were lots of travelersÖsome motorcyclists, some bicyclists and an international selection of backpackers. I took it easy and contemplated the challenge ahead: the long road to Prudhoe Bay. Will I make it or will I chicken out at the Arctic Circle?
27-Jul-08 The ride up the Dalton Highway was not as difficult as I had anticipated. Almost half of it was paved. The gravel sections were only tricky when there was road repair equipment working. I stayed at Coldfoot Camp where I had a great all you can eat taco buffet.
28-Jul-08 The sign as you leave Coldfoot Camp that says ďNext Services 240 MilesĒ. Fortunately my motorcycle has a range of 250-270 miles. The best part of the trip was through the Atigun Pass. I think the road was better than the day before. I had dinner at the Caribou Inn in Prudhoe Bay. Another all you can eat deal but this time prime rib. Prudhoe Bay is an ugly industrial looking town without much to see. I got gasoline and camped a short way out of town. I was joined by another rider named Mickey who was a retired state trooper from North Carolina. We swapped motorcycle stories. He and a group of 4 other riders managed 49 states in 10 days with a total of 10,000 miles. Wow.