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Alaska Sojourn part three


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Alaska Sojourn Part 3, “O Canada!”

On Tuesday, the 27th of June we crossed into Canada. Peace Park in Blaine Washington is beautiful and is a great stopping spot before you brave the traffic entering Canada. We ate some ice cream, trying to cool off from the 90+ temps which are almost unheard of in this area. Donning our gear we got in line to cross the border. The border guards were very thorough and polite. ‘Do you have any guns, or other weapons?” “Do you have drugs, alcohol or other illicit material?” “Is this your motorcycle?” The official asked in a monotone, serious voice that all border guards seem to have. “Nope,” I said, “I’m travelling with those guys,” pointing a gloved finger at Mark and Jeff waiting patiently for me. With that, we were off, and on our way to Vancouver, and an early stop at a campground.

Not knowing where we were going, we stopped at a very pretty campground that seemed curiously deserted. It was a pretty site, with trees, lush green grass, and all the amenities. Plus, it was very near Vancouver. It seemed like the perfect spot. We pitched our tents, ate some pre-bought food, and were soon snoring away. Later that night we discovered why the campground was so deserted. It was just over the hill from a gravel quarry that for some unknown reason didn’t start operations until the evening! All night it was the roar of rock as it fell down chutes, trucks groaning up and out of the pit and other assorted metal clanking and grinding. Not much sleep that night!

We awoke, bleary-eyed, and saw that our gear had a fine layer of dust all over it. “Pretty dirty, eh?” opined the neighbors in their RV. It was good to get on the road. We blasted through Vancouver, intent on making Clearwater BC, about 330 miles north of Vancouver.

Canada is an awesome place! First, your money goes forever thanks to the great exchange rate. Second the natives speak English, sort of, and third, they have “loonies and toonies.” The one-dollar coins have a picture of a loon on them, hence they are loonies. The two-dollar coins are called toonies. Who says Canadians don’t have a sense of humor? Oh, one more thing…Canadians also have ketchup flavored potato chips. Go figure!

Canada is great riding. The Sea to Sky Highway defies description by your poor author. Ragged snow capped mountains that seem to tear holes in the sky, awesome icy blue lakes, and the clearest air you can breath makes a motorcyclist to ride rather, ahem, exuberantly. Gotta be careful about riding too enthusiastically as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have foregone their horses for Crown Victorias and radar. And, to be total spoil sports about it, they also take pictures of speeders and mail tickets to them. I don’t know how this works for Americans, but I certainly did not want to find out.

In the end, we did make it up to Clearwater. 99 to 97 and finally Highway 24 complete the ride. In all, a wonderful day made even more wonderful as I saw my first bear along the road near 24. It was a fat little cinnamon colored black bear. I couldn’t help but wonder where momma was. Another good reason to slow down…Because we rolled into camp so late, we ate late, and I wrote in my journal even later, since it didn’t get dark until after 11 p.m.

The next morning we decided to get an early start in order to get a little more riding in, destination Prince George, Canada. We traveled up Canada 5 and then west on 16 to McBride. Very pretty little town. We ate at a touristy little place called the Power Pub. In fact, it was perhaps the only place to eat in town. The fish and chips at 4.99 Canadian was a great deal. Fuelled up on greasy fish, I was in the mood for a long ride, and our tour leader, Mark, supplied it. We ventured on the way, seeing another bear on the highway, which led me to ponder that age-old question, do they go in the woods?

So far the trip had been uneventful. No worries, problems, or incidents. That was about to change. As we continued toward Prince George I began to develop a toothache on my lower right jaw. The rain clouds began to gather, a chill wind came up, and by the time we reached the outskirts of Prince George it was cold and raining. I was thoroughly miserable, Shadow was shaking, and even the normally indefatigable Jeff was looking a bit beat. We stopped at a little market/gas station to look at our options. Mark opined there was a Provincial Campground just on the other side of Prince George. I noted that there were many motels in town as well.. About the only people at the market who looked more miserable than us were a couple of young Israelis who were hitchhiking around North America. I’ll never forget the young man’s incredibly blue eyes. I’ve never seen a more striking shade of blue in my life, and have not since! In spite of the cold, he and his girlfriend were thinking about continuing down the road for a few more hours before stopping. They inquired about the road we had just travelled, and off they went.

Meanwhile, back in the wind and cold, we had to make a decision. Mark said the campground would be cheaper. I said the motel had 100 channels and warm water. Shadow stood there on Mark’s tank looking like she’d seen her last dog biscuit come and go. Jeff was wise enough to stay out of it. Through an aching jaw I explained to Mark that the motel at $88 Canadian was REALLY only about $55 US. Divided three ways, the cost was less than $20 per person. My finely honed logic won out, and soon we were ensconced in the Connaught Inn. The only problem was that no dogs were allowed. Once again, Shadow went into Stealth Mode, hiding in Mark’s Aerostich until we got into our room.

Well, after hot showers all around, Mark and Jeff felt pretty human. I couldn’t speak for Shadow, but she did find a big pillow to sleep on. Me, on the other hand, was feeling worse by the hour. The toothache grew to epic proportions. The right side of my face literally sagged in paralysis from the excruciating throbbing that now made it impossible for me to even talk. As I couldn’t describe in word the beauty of the Sea to Sky, I cannot paint a word picture of how my head felt. Mark and Jeff thought it was pretty funny at dinner to watch coffee and water dribble out of the corner of my mouth as I’d lost all my muscle tension on the side of my face! Heartless bastards…. Heh, heh…

The next morning I was driven by desperation to do something. I found an emergency medical /dental clinic that catered to travelers. I called them on the phone, got a quick appointment and walked over. Mercifully, the medical offices were in a shopping center right across the highway. I was in no condition to ride, especially after spending a sleepless night vomiting over the pain in my head. The dentist spent about 15 minutes looking at my jaw before saying, “Well, Steven, you have an infection underneath an old crown.” He prescribed antibiotics promising I’d start to feel relief in two or three days. In the meantime he fortified me with codeine and Tylenol, which definitely helped!

After the dentist’s appointment, we saddled up to ride. Mark and Jeff, inspite of their witticisms of the night before, seemed genuinely concerned about my health. While I still felt quite shaky, I thought I could ride alright. So it was off to Seeley Lake. Along the way we checked out the Seven Sisters Mountain Range, the glacier at Mt. Tekla, and many outstanding views as the road continually snaked over the mountain passes!

We stopped for gas near Mt Tekla and Mark had his run in with the town drunk. We were standing around the gas pumps chatting with some British tourists, when this 40ish year old Indian man staggered up to Mark and said, “You know, we kicked your ass at the Little Big Horn.” I almost fell off my bike laughing. Jeff was poking me in the ribs and asking me how Mark would handle this. I honestly didn’t know. Well, the drunk kept it up by saying Mark could make it up to him by giving him a ride to the next town. He announced Shadow could ride in his lap. Know this about Mark: he is a quiet, unassuming computer guy, not a guy accustomed to handling drunks. In short, he made a rotten cop. Jeff kept asking me what was I gonna do, after all I WAS a cop…through my giggling I said “Probably nothing.” Finally, after about 15 minutes of this guy blowing fumes at Mark, he staggered off, down the highway. Mark actually handled the situation pretty well, even though we were laughing at him the whole time!

We finished pumping our gas, ribbed Mark a little more, and took off for Seeley Lake BC. Jeff cooked a great dinner of chili, rolls, and a bottle of red wine. We laughed about the day, I overdosed on Tylenol, and it was off to bed, the sun still low on the horizon at midnight.

Part Four, on to Whitehorse and North, to Alaska!



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Good story so far, except my tooth is starting to hurt ... need your next installment ...


Chris (aka Tender Vittles),

Little KZ400 in the Big Apple

Black Boxer RT for Everywhere Else

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Originally posted by ChrisNYC:

Good story so far, except my tooth is starting to hurt ... need your next installment ...

let me tell you, I wouldn't have wished this on anyone!

Ride safely,

Steve in So Cal


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Originally posted by murrayg:

Steve, great story so far keep it going. How's the tooth? How did the medicine affect your ride?

Hi guy,

Actually, I was careful NOT to take the codeine and tylenol prior to riding at first. As the infection got worse, and the pain strengthened, I took it every four hours until I ran out. As far as I'm concerned, Cotylenol is a must have in any riders emergency fa kit. It got me through until the antibiotics killed the infection and swelling.

Ride safely,


[This message has been edited by Steves1150 (edited 12-17-2001).]

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