Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bypassing a goal...

This morning arrived with low clouds and fog. Rain came and went during the night continually soaking the dirt road, pushing our goal of riding the Dempster further and further away. As we loaded up and shoved off we noticed how dry the road was at our location so we decided to turn around and ride it as far as we could until it was unsafe to go further. At least we could experience a little of the highway and get a taste of what would come in the future years.

For the next 45 miles it was a great hard packed road weaving up toward the Tombstone Mountain range. As we passed the visitor center it immediately started getting wet. We continued on for another 5 miles until we had to make a very important decision. We were reaching the point of no return...we had enough fuel to take us to Eagle Plains, but we were also reaching the point where we could not return to the bottom if things got real messy and we could not press on.

One important thing I learned while becoming a pilot is that once you make a decision, stick with it and don't keep on changing your mind or it will end up biting you in the rear. As much as we wanted to finish the Dempster, there were far too many more important things waiting for us at home. We took a picture and turned around...

Back we went, cautiously weaving our way around big brown potholes and thick muck until we passed the visitor center and the road became dry.

thick soupy mud got thicker and thicker

We passed the two KTM riders and stopped to talk. They were going to go as far as they safely could also and asked how far that was. They also said that they called up to Eagle Plains and were told that it was impassible up there.
Glad we made the right decision we headed on to Ross River where we would camp.

Rain came and went throughout the day. It was not very cold although we did have our heated grips on. We stopped for gas and a snack just after 2

This bird was cleaning up the chips Keith dropped. It walked right under my bike.

We managed to squeeze right in-between these two big rain storms.

Then the sun came out. If you look carefully you can see a rainbow...

We both were a little tired from riding until midnight the other day, so we stopped and had supper along the road. We were driving on the Taylor Highway and had not passed one car the whole time. We decided it was safe to cook right by the road

The next car that came by out in the middle of nowhere Canada was a cop! He stopped and asked us if we needed help. We chatted a bit and he was surprised that I was eating on the highway. I told him that was how we did it in North Carolina! Lol. He said be safe and drove away. Only a few cars passed us the rest of the time and we had the whole road to ourselves. The last 40 miles were dirt and as we neared Ross River we found a path by the lake that had our names written all over it.

We set up and mapped the next few days out. I tried to get my GPS to sync to my Bluetooth helmet, but for some reason it wouldn't take it. Bummer

Keith went to bed and I am sitting around the fire sipping hot chocolate. I can hear ducks quacking, and a few other nocturnal noises. The fire is crackling and the sun is actually setting. It's 11:31 but it's not as light as it was a thousand miles further north. This brings the reality that my trip is coming to an end and soon the night will be dark and the day will be hot and sunny. As for the moment.....I am taking in all this peace!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Liard Hotsprings

Rain + dirt + soft gravel + holes =

But again...let's not jump ahead

This morning we planned on a good breakfast at Ross River. We packed up quickly and throttled out to eat, only 8 miles away. When we reached The town, we quickly realized that our dream of a hot cooked meal by someone other than ourselves was only a pipe dream. It was a third world looking village. Small dirty houses littered the acreage, the school was boarded up and we didn't really see anyone around. We found a self serve gas station where we juiced up the steel horses and continued on to Watson Lake, where we would eat breakfast....250 miles later.

We met An Aussie couple touring ion a motorhome who recommended we stop by and see a 1940's suspension bridge at the end of the road.

And that is the history lesson for the day...

I thought it was pretty cool how they made room for the cable by hacking away the structure.... Whatever ?? It's still standing 70 some years later.

The weather was cloudy but not too bad at the time and we had 250 miles of dirt road to Watson Lake. It was a good road with a few turns through rolling hills. Not many cars passed us, in fact less than 10 would see us the whole day.

Than it started raining.....

It rained harder....

And harder...

Aaaaand harder...
I only had my liner in my jacket since it proved useful for light showers and was waterproof, when it suddenly started raining hard I didn't have time to stop and put on my heavy raincoat.
The non- made in the USA liner was NOT waterproof and I found a place to pull over and suit up. Keith never stopped behind me, so I figured he was doing the same thing. I waited for 30 seconds and started to get a bad feeling....
So I turned around and crested the hill

Keith was standing by the road eagerly waiting for me to help him lift up the beast. He said he was fine and was going pretty slow when he hit the loose gravel. He nearly went over the edge which would have been a bear pulling the bike out. Speaking of bear....we saw 6 of them today. But luckily not here. We lifted the Suzuki up and checked it over. "Only a flesh wound"
no major damage.
The rain continued to fall in sheets, slowing jato a crawl at times. My helmet started leaking above the visor filling the inside with water spots which made it almost impossible to see. I opened the visor to see if that would help, and now it felt like someone was shooting BB's at my face. Up lwent the wet glove....smear...Down went the visor. Up went the wet glove...smear....down went the visor....
And this continued as I was dreaming of the new helmet I would be buying at the next available motorcycle store!

We stopped so Keith could fuel up a little before Watson Lake. Now the sun started peaking through he clouds and we turned into human greenhouses. The soaking wet clothes covered up by the plastic raincoats started germinating everything inside. As the steam started rising from our bodies, we figured it was best to take off the plastic and start airing out.

The camera was put away and that was the end of the pictures until Watson Lake. When the sun came out there was spectacular scenery all around us but we were much too cold and hungry to really care. Once in town we stopped at the famous Signpost Forest

Thousands and thousands of signs collected over the years covered the block. Someday if you really want to know what they said, head on over there and read them. We didn't. We wanted breakfast.

Well there was no restaurant there either...we only found Karen's Kozy Kitchen. One buffalo burger and a vegi burger later, we were headed to the hot springs.
Liard Hotsprings is an all natural sulfur smelling pool of some of the hottest water in the world. Located at the end of a boardwalk it is nestled inside a small forest. Steam rises up from the super warm water providing you with a super big hot tub. It was JUST what we needed after the long tiring day!
The campground was full so we pitched up by the playground and headed to the restaurant for supper and Wifi.

The water ranges from a great warm bathtub on one side to super hot just about to boil on the other side. I eased in on one side and slowly made my way upstream to the halfway point where I soaked up the heat. Wow that felt good!!
We talked with some of the other hot tubbers and exchanged stories of our trip, then walked back the half mile to our tents we now call the "house".

Tomorrow Keith and I will part ways, ending an epic journey we both got to share. For almost 6000 miles we rode together rejuvenating an old friendship, something we will both remember for the rest of our lives.
Keith thank you for joining me for this ride of a lifetime!

The last picture yet to take is the one at mile 0 of the Alaska Highway.
That will officially end the great trip I have been dreaming of for many years!

Then I will start making my way home, stopping by to visit my parents then on to NC.

WAIT! This blog is far from over. There will still be more oncoming pictures and experiences from the ride home, hopefully just as exciting as the ride so far.
Thanks for journeying along with us...