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Alaska Sojourn part 4 (Short)

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

The next day, it was onto the Cassiar Highway, the famous, or infamous highway that runs up British Columbia. Depending on what you read, or who you talk to, or the season of the year, the Cassiar can be very demanding. We stopped for lunch in Stewart, BC at the Bitter Creek Café. What a great place, but talk about in the middle of nowhere! Even stopping for gas attracted a crowd of kids, mostly eager to see the RT riding dog.

We continued up the road, and stopped at a campground 90 miles north of CA16 and 37. A great little RV park, and the host, an elderly retired guy from the States was eager to talk. Wistfully, he told us he always wanted to take a long moto ride, that he “never had the time.” Before we left, he told us to be careful. For the next 100 miles there was no cell or phone service! We had no problems on this section even though the road ranged from pea gravel to hard pack dirt to asphalt. “When it doubt, give it gas,” became my credo!

The trip to Whitehorse would not have been right unless we made a side trip to Skagway. Incredible scenery with deep canyons, jagged mountains, and water all over. Skagway is a little town nestled on waters edge, and I doubt it would exist except for the cruise ships. About twice a day a huge white boat would pull in, disgorge about 4500 people and set them loose on the town. Then, the boat would leave, and the streets of Skagway would be deserted!

Leaving Skagway meant another pleasant interchange with the Canadian border guards:

She: Good afternoon, sir. Were you in Alaska?

Me: Uh, yeah

She: Do you have any guns, drugs, or alcohol?

Me: No. Can I buy some here?

She: Sir, this isn’t a store…

Jeez, I kill me, …

Gas at Carcross, and the big GS was only making 170 miles on a tank. Was it the big knobbies, or the high speed passes, or a combination of both? Jeff ended up COASTING into the station on his Harley. No wonder you see guys on smaller bikes carrying gas cans!

We finally ended up in Haines Junction for the night. Pretty special because we saw a grizzly bear on the side of the road busily tearing up huge chunks of sod and brush. I figure he was looking for ants or grubs. Either way, he was inspiring in his size and ferocity. I stopped to take a picture, ready at any second to take off on the bike!

Haines Junction has the biggest mosquitoes I’ve ever seen. Thick as flies, they hovered around our faces, attacked our tents, and generally made our camping experience here miserable. We did find a bottle of wine and share it with some Canadian women who were camped next to us. They were very nice, especially since they had extra firewood. We sat and talked into the evening, the smoke of the fire keeping the mosquitoes at bay.

On the 4th of July, we rode from Haines Junction to Delta Junction to meet Mark’s parents. We left the campsite pretty early to beat the bugs. Seems if you break camp before 0900 you stand a good chance of avoiding them. We ate breakfast at Destruction Bay, about 60 cold and windy miles further up the road. Very friendly waitress. When Jeff went outside to check something on his bike, I turned the “Open” sign around, the waitress turned out the lights and locked the door. You should have seen the look on Jeff’s face…. Meanwhile Mark and I were sitting inside, giggling like ten-year-olds!

It was nice to get to meet the Uueck’s. Very nice people who moved to Alaska some 35 years earlier. Mr. Uueck became a successful construction company owner, and his house showed it. It is a 3200 square foot place in a New England Colonial style. The place is surrounded by about 50 acres of fields and woods. Vegetable gardens and an airstrip for his Cessna complete the picture. Moose, bear, deer, and assorted other wildlife visit regularly.

I didn’t realize how tired I was. I went to bed at 1230 p.m. on July 5, and didn’t wake up until 1:30 p.m. July 6. Just in time for lunch, and some of Mrs. Uuecks incredible homemade rhubarb pie and vanilla ice cream.. We spent the next few days sight seeing around Delta, eating, and resting. The fact that it did not get darker until 1245 a.m. was tough getting used to. We cleaned our bikes which was a job because of all the calcium chloride that had accumulated on the plastic, headers, and every other nook and cranny. Very time consuming, but probably worth it. I would have hated to see that gunk stick on my R11GS for any period of time. I’d probably never get it off!

We also used the time to start planning the rest of our trip. Since we were camping, and only had to worry about being on the ferry on a set day at the end of our adventure, our plans were very flexible. We decided to accompany the Uueck’s on a camping trip to Cordova. And, as with every other destination in Alaska, getting there would prove to be an adventure!

Next, Cordova and the Giant Glacier!

 

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