Saturday, June 14, 2003
New Position Report - Anchorage 3703 Miles
posted by Shaun; |
Maintenance Section Added
New Menu item on the right detailing our maintenance log
posted by Shaun; |
Anchorage! - 3703 Miles
As we have finally made it to the end of leg two of our journey having traversed through landscapes where the brush has been passed between such artists as Van Gogh and Remington.
Mountains High, valleys low and rivers deep, whomever penned those lyrics surely must have been following the same path as ourselves passing through what has taken millennia to have evolved as Henning has rightly put it. A grandeur that seems only rightfully viewed from the flexibility and open view. of a motorcycle
After leaving Whitehorse, we parted ways for a day, whilst Matt took the road known as Top of the World and Henning and I continued on the vastness of the Alaskan Highway.
That evening left us 300 miles ahead and in a town called Beavers crossing just shy of the American border where we stayed in a motelish type lodging. Straight to the bar we met up with a number of interesting people, most notably Steve and Kim Bruno detailed in the new People on the Road section.
The next morning, up early and after a bout of maintenance on the bikes we hit the border crossing only 30 miles on, which henning passed with ease and I re-entered the States of a United America via a tourist visa for the first time in four years. A change from my working visa which is now void to my leaving my job.
We met up again with Matt at the cross section of the two highways we had traversed to discuss the past days events and detail the following days results. It was then decided that we head on to Glenallen where we would spend the next night. When arriving at said town however, we decided that we would strive on due to the ample amount of daylight and the desire to test out the new fishing gear we purchased.
This was not to be however due to a concern over a shortage of gas so we continued on and through, attempting to beat a storm determined to slow us as well as conquering a number of passes curtailed by construction, we made it to Anchorage. 450 miles from our commencement that morn.
Now we await the servicing of our bikes at which whose cost I wince at thought and once complete to brave the callousness of the bureaucracy possed by customs. In one week, we shall continue on to the Russian city of Magadan via the airline of the same name.
posted by Shaun; |
Yukon and Beyond
So, here we are in Anchorage, the land of eternal daylight. The ride into the city was stunning. Anchorage is located in a bowl and the ride in took us through a Glaciers and 14,000 foot mountains, absolutely stunning scenery. I am getting very spoiled, since we went through Banff in the Canadian Rockies, I have not spent a single day without seeing snow covered peeks and a variety of other absolutely stunning scenery. The beauty makes me think of the book “The Agony and the Ecstasy” because much of the magnificence we see is created by the forces of nature, glaciers and the grinding of tectonic plates, an agony that created stunning ecstatic beauty that most artists can only hope to emulate.
We are still getting used to the long days in the land of eternal days……stayed up until three in the morning to experience a partial sunset. It is so nice to have long days but then the mornings/sunrises come a bit early 8-).
We have turned our bikes over to BMW for a major service. Since the start of the trip Matt and I put on 5570 miles and Shaun has ridden 3703 miles. We have burned through our tires, chains, sprockets and possibly one clutch. The frost heaves and many miles of dirt roads and other hard riding have taken their toll. Overall the bikes have faired well for the abuse they have endured (see our new maintenance log for more details). BMW here in Anchorage has been great, they will get our bikes fixed and back to us in 24 hours….then they go to the shipper for customs inspection and to be crated up for the trip to Magadan, Siberia.
posted by Henning; |
While Matt was up perusing Dawson City on the Top of the World highway, Henning and I continued along the Alaskan Highway where we met a number of interesting characters along the way, one of whom being is Dorothy Cook.
Dorothy moved to Koidern River in 1969 from Winnipeg to follow her husbands dreams. When they moved to this isolated outpost they had to build everything they needed. They also had to bring a generator to power the house (which they still do) as well as having to drill 93 feet through the permafrost to get to water.
They own a nice little gas station which is a real treat to enter. Cut gems and polished rocks greet the visitor and entice them to forage through the untold amount of nic nacs available. In another corner of the store are half opened boxes of stones and crystals waiting for a visit to the rock saw.
We sat and chatted with Dorothy for over an hour drinking coffee and eating some of the best homemade cake while being drawn into her conversation on times that were and times that are. These days Dorothy and her husband escape to Arizona or Mexico for their Winters as she really does not like the cold.
posted by Shaun; |
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Smithers and beyond
So spent an uneventful night camping in Smithers, great little place with a decent coffee shop/ bakery and a European Butcher....yes, I now have Landjaeger....have thought of putting one under Matt's Tent so that one of the black bears will help get him out of bed in the morning. Stopped in Old Halveston to see a Indian village/museum of the Skan tribe. Went to Hyder Alaska to get Hyderized and watch an entertaining wet T-shirt contest. Guess we missed the Iron Butt (riding 49 states in ten days) gathering that was held there the previous weekend. Stopped on the way to Dease Lake to do some fishing....Shaun is now banned from using our fishing gear...enough said of that fiasco. Met a local named Jim Hill who gave us some background of the area and generally was a great help. Also taught us that riding a Suzuki has a great benefit....if it break you can leave it at the side of the road and it will still be there when you get a chance to fix it a week later. Stayed just outside of Whitehorse last night......bad choice....got eaten by Mosquitos, but thanks to some kind Germans from Frankfurt we at least had some beer. More detailed post to follow as we get some more time.
posted by Henning; |
New Travelling Companion
Check out the bio of our new riding partner. He's a little strong minded and we are feeling a little intimidated by his coolness and they way he attracts the ladies - but we are enjoying his company . .
posted by Shaun; |
North To Prince George - 1856 Miles
Canada is way under rated in my opinion. I have been in total awe so far, not only with the spectacular scenery on offer, but also the genuine people that inhabit this land. I started rather late this morning, partly due to my late night last night and mostly related to the number of people I talked to this morning. Everybody seems friendly, actually more than seems - they are friendly. I real understanding of myself as a traveler as well as a foreigner. An authentic curiosity and a willingness to get to know me. Anyway- I digress. After leaving Hope this morning (that doesn't sound too good does it? ;-) I proceeded along State Highway (if that's what it is called) Number One through some of the most majestic and austere vista I have come across outside places like Switzerland. Truly awe-inspiring in it's grandeur from the peaks towering above me to the vale I was riding through. Undeniably this was the stuff of movies.
At every turn, I saw new photo opportunities, but castigated myself for wanted to fulfill them in my effort to make speed. I did however, manage to take one which as a whole captures the character of the first leg of the ride.
Drifting through to the remainder of the day, I found myself more in rolling pastures with the scattered array from pines filling the landscape. I had bought two plastic gas cans, each holding about 2 gallons and had filled them a one of the stops. Unless the cap was tightened with immeasurable force they tended to leak. Which is not a good thing considering the left one was about 5 cm from a very hot exhaust. I felt like a time bomb on two wheels leading up my nights rest at Lac La Hache.
Lac La Hache is a beautiful (aren't they all) lake situated about 200km south of our meeting point in Prince George. At about 7pm I was worn out from the days ride and took the opportunity to stop when I saw a sign announcing cabins for rent.
At only $30 and nestled right on the lake edge these cabins were too good an opportunity to miss. Fir Crest Resort, as the place is named, is owned by a foreign couple - Rainer from Germany and Jane from England. Both Rainer and Jane are travelers at heart who have roamed the world in search of satisfying their wanderlust. Rainer is a certified mountain guide who has written 15 books on powder skiing and European camping.
When the Peters decided to come to North America to open up a business in tourism, they landed in Vancouver, purchased a motor home and jeep, drove to Alaska and stayed at campsites along the way and talked with other people of similar interests to get their likes, dislikes and needs when staying at a campsite. The family ended up in Guatemala on a volcano climbing holiday.
During all that time, the children, in which they have two boys, were home tutored by Jane. The whole purpose of the trip was to get an idea of the difference between European and North American cultures to enable them to setup their own successful business which they have indeed done.
The Peters enjoy many a winter sports in their 7 years owning the resortt and they own a number of Husky's as well as a Wolf called Blue - so named because he was unhappy as a puppy due to being orphaned. Blue is 6 years old and seems rather jittery to me, but I hear that this demeanor is typical of a wolf. One of the first and most striking things about Blue, is his almost white eyes. Fascinating to look into them from so close, as well as being a little unnerving - at least to myself who has never been so close to wolf before.
That night, I took out my collapsible fishing rod which I have never had much luck with before, rented a small boat and hit the lake for 2 hours in search of my dinner. My luck held up and I returned with a foot long something or rather which sooner than later hit my frying pan and provided me with a very fulfilling meal.
The next morning, much later than sunrise which is happening around 4am in these regions, I did the same for breakfast and caught 3 rainbow trout. Two of these went back into the lake and the third also provided a tasty if not boney breakfast.
Rather chuffed with my good fortune (or the lack of having to spend one) I packed the bike and continued on my way to Prince George.
posted by Shaun; |
First Leg Wrap Up
<Henning> Well, finally met up with Shaun and now have access to a laptop so we thought to post some of the pictures going with our past posts. Here are some of the things we found impressive during our journey across Canada. On the left is an active farm and silo, on the right is an abandoned homestead that we poked around in.
<Matt> This was my second motorcycle ride across the plains. I've always lived in urban or mountainous regions, so the perspective of the plains is alien to me. The size and the sky can really put the zap in you. Its a very vibrant region despite (or perhaps because of) its emptiness. Vibrant may not be the right word, but there's a palpable feel of activity from all of the agriculture going on. This is land that is working hard. Through Alberta we saw a lot of cattle, they all looked very sane to me. It was kind of surprising to see calves nursing from their mothers in the fields. You don't see that in Vermont's dairy industry.The new tires (Shinko Trailmasters) worked out well on that stretch, since they are much more street biased then the previous set. So much so that on one long straight stretch I was able to hit the ton (100 mph for non-bikers). Though it would have been a lot easier on the Harley.
<Henning>The other day we decide to trade our BMTroubleyous and helmets for Cowboy hats and
horses while in the Frazier River Valley between
Jasper and McBride. Great experience thanks to our Flemish guide Marlene at the Cardinal Ranch (www.rockiesbyhorse.com). As you can see the view was stunning and in spite of a loose saddle the entire experience was wonderful.....mind you we found a few places that our derrières still had spots that could get even sorer 8-)
<Matt> On the photo to the left, Henning is on Jubilee and I'm on the very hungry Pride. To the right is Marlene showing Henning the ropes. She had come up to the region for a vacation last September, and the ranch was shorthanded so she helped them out for a couple of weeks before returning to Belgium to finish school. She had just come back to the ranch to work through the season as an au pair/stablehand/trail guide. I guess opportunities to do what you want can appear out of nowhere.
The Fraser River Valley is an amazing stretch. Maybe it was the nice weather and the leisurely pace, but it really struck a cord with me. The Rockies are to the Northeast and the Caribou mountains to the Southwest and there's a large flat valley floor of between 10 and 15 miles wide running between them for about 75 miles. Some very nice farms lining the river, interspersed with forest land. The scenery after McBride on the road up the valley to Prince George looks like what I imagine Vermont looked like some 300 years ago. We were also introduced to the Fraser River cell phone system. Everyone carries a walkie talkie.
Enjoy the rest of the pics. I particularly like the shot of Colin enjoying the poor man's surf and turf, and Brandon, the quintessential New Yorker in the woods, mug of coffee, cigarette, umbrella and dressed in black. At that point we were in the middle of a vast wildlife reserve in northwestern Quebec, some 100 miles from the nearest town. I'm trying to get used to traveling with a camera, and I've resolved to be much more tolerant of the leaf peepers next fall.
posted by Shaun; |