I slept like a rock last night but I woke up really tired and stayed that way. I'm in Fairbanks, Alaska now. It's 10PM and the sunshine is brutal. Just being outside for moments make you feel like your skin is on fire. I swear at this latitude, the sun is much brighter.
After working on the last post I thought I'd probably call it a night but it's too early to fall asleep and there's nothing to do. I went over to the Denny's, which is next door to the hotel, for dinner. It claims to be the northernmost Denny's in the world. I can believe it.
My first night on the Alcan I stayed at the Northern Rockies Lodge. There's no commercial power so they run generators full time to power the place. I think they said they go through 1600 gallons of diesel a month.
It's own by a Swiss couple. The swiss influence is readily apparent. Most of the staff is Swiss. The restaurant is in the main lodge. I got the last room in the place at the old lodge.
They have a float plane and do trips out to remote cabins, fly fishing spots and an arial tour of a glacier. You have to have at least two people for the float plane. I wanted to go on the glacier tour and was thinking about who I could conn into joining me.
At breakfast I noticed a guy who looked like a GS rider. We got to talking. He rode a GS, a R1200GS and had just done the Dalton Highway up to Prudhoe Bay. I asked him how it was and he didn't seem to think it was that difficult. "Maybe it was because I had good weather", he said. I have forgotten his name but he was a pilot for Netjets and was an avid rider. "When someone tells me something is difficult I take it with a grain of salt.". That's a mistake I often make. When someone tells me something is difficult I interpret it from my own perspective. What do I think is difficult? How would I define a "slog". "I'd say if I have to get out a shovel to move the bike it can probably safely be called a slog.", I proposed. He laugh. "Yea".
"So far I'd say this trip has been nothing but a long Sunday drive.", I commented. The Alcan is not hard. It's a good road with some rough spots. I wonder how truly difficult this road up to Deadhorse will be. If it snows I could see it being very bad. Many people have told me not to do it on street tires. This guy, I wish I remembered his name, did it on mostly street tires. Guys have done it on Goldwings and Harleys.
Leaving the lodge there were more critters. A mountain goat?
And foreshadowing ...
yup ... a whole herd.
Each bridge seemed to have this kind of cable car setup next to it. I wondered what they were used for.
And there were more bears.
And flowers. Interestingly they seemed to grow in particular numbers in burnt sections of forest.
There's rider culture up here. Virtually every time I stopped to shoot some photos a rider would slow down and give me the "thumbs up? thumbs down?" sign to see if I was already. "Thumbs up" I would gesture and on they would ride. It's cool. I've stopped for a few riders myself.
And there were more bears.
Sections of the road were one lane only. A pilot truck would guide a caravan of cars through the construction. The road surface is dusty and with an unusual courtesy they signaled that I should go to the front of the line. It's apparently policy. Canadians are so considerate.
Yermo in the Yukon!
In the town of, I think it's called, Watsons Lake there's a thing called the signpost forest. Visitors have brought signs from all over the world.
There were alot from Germany.
I looked for a sign from Ahuasen or anything from Kreis Rotenburg but didn't find one.
A nice lady offered to snap a photo for me.
Yea, I had been walking around without bothering to take my helmet off.
I think it was in this town and not in Fort Nelson that I saw the Most Beautiful Gas Station Attendent in the World, who will now join the legendary Canadian Info Booth Girl of 1992 in the annals of travelling mythology. Completely improbable. The woman should be a model. But that's how it is in Canada. Many things improbable things are just common place here. Bear. Seen bunches. Moose? Yea, that too. Beautiful women? Yup, simply an overabundance. In DC, she'd have rich businessmen offering to buy her Ferrari's and take her to Paris. Here they simply get put to work at gas stations pumping gas and cleaning windows of mud laden work trucks.
I was going to write a long monologue about how the Most Beautiful Gas Station Attendant in the World was able to do her work without being bothered. Truckers would drive up. She would come out and, being something like 5'11' or so, would diligently clean windshields, pump gas and do payments without so much as a single bad comment being made. No one bothered her. No one made lewd comments. No one hit on her. No one did anything but show her respect and let her do her work.
I liked that.
In the States, I don't think it would have been the same.
The more time I spend in Canada, the more I like Canadians.
Out of Watsons Lake, or whatever that town was called, my bike turned over 60K.
So I stopped and took a pic of the spot where it happened just to be random.
And I tried to be artistic in my photography.
I kind of like how the flower leans left while the bike leans right. There was a pretty strong breeze.
The Alcan highway ... there isn't alot of traffic on the highway, but there's enough that I wouldn't want to take a nap on it.
I kind of like this shot.
Of course there were more beautiful vistas.
and more lakes...
And weird skies. Misty clouds that partially obscured the sun.
And I made it to Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon, under a dramatic and even weirder sky.
Whitehorse was not what I expected. I had expected it to be an oil industry focused dirty industrial town. It was more like a hippy enclave filled with transients from all over. I stayed in a hotel in the city with an attached up-scale Italian restaurant.
I was in search of Away. I was in the Yukon after all. I sit down at the far end of the bar. At the other end of the bar were four attractive young women chatting away in French. No one bothered them for the entire evening. "I like Canada.", I thought. The bartender asked me where I was from. "College Park, Maryland. It's Northeast of Washington, DC".
"Yea, I know, I was just there. I go to Baltimore every year to watch baseball", he replied.
WTF!?!?! I'm in the F!#@$!@#$ Yukon and the first person I talk to had just been in College Park?
What's worse is, remember the four adventure riders I was mentioning in the previous post? The one guy who's in the Navy, had a girlfriend in Bremen, Germany of all places and he's fairly certain he drove through Ahausen at one point.
It's a crazy small world.
So I was sitting at the bar minding my own business when four women walked in. There were only three stools open next to me at the bar so I said I could scoot over and they could grab another one from the other side and sit down together.
I'm always doing that kind of thing as Outback Rachel and Dale can attest.
They seemed to appreciate that. They were from Washington State.
The one had just turned 50 and seemd to be feeling badly about it. Her sister and friends were a bit older. They were doing some kind of active bicycle pub crawl and were near the end of their run. They told me about a bunch of other things they had been doing.
"They say men age better than women do, but from what I've seen I don't think that's true.", I commented.
They all piped up. "Why do you say that?"
"So how many men your age do you know that go bicycling out from pub to pub, do the hikes and other things you've done. You're more active and alive than most 50 year old men I know."
"Come to think of it, I think you might be right ...", one of them replied.
It's the truth. Many women I know are far more active than most of the men I know. How many 40 year old + men do you know with flat stomachs? How many women? Me, I know far more women who are that fit than men. I know women in their 40's who looks better now than they did in their 20's.
And this bs about men aging more gracefully I think is a crock. Women are just more forgiving I think when it comes to appearance in men.
They were pretty lit, but it was ok.
They asked me where I was from and what I was doing and whatnot so I told them. At one point one of them asked why, so I mentioned the meatgrinder hell I'd been through. A few more probing questions and I told them a bit about the nightmare. I've got to find a better of way of being honest without bringing up the really bad stuff. I'm just too honest.
When I mentioned how the brother in law had gone after my mom, the woman who was sitting next to me started to cry a bit. "I think my sister thinks my husband is just like that. She hates him.".
Women being mistreated. I can recognize it a mile away.
I was able to divert the conversation to lighter subjects and it was ok. By the time I got up to leave they were so drunk they didn't even notice. I'm sure they won't remember my existence in the morning.
I should probably go to bed but I think I'll post a few pictures from yesterday's and today's ride.
Fairbanks, 10pm, sun we used to drive up from just outside of Anchorage on June 21st to watch the sun -not- go down, it wasn't a whole lot different than 500 miles south but it was a fun trip, I used to start my daily run at about 11pm when it finally cooled off enough, I could run til 3am on the highway just fine, plenty of light
The flowers that you got great shots of, they do grow quite well on fresh burns and with some irony they are called "Fireweed" however they get that name from their usually large numbers, surprised you found some solo like that, when they are in large numbers covering a whole hillside and there is a good wind the waves that pass through them not unlike wheat fields make it look like the hill is on fire and flames are lapping across the land, thus "fireweed"
College Park Maryland. yea, the great white north is like that, I say I'm from AK because I grew up there but I was born at Georgetown Univ. a few years back I lived in Germantown, Md and then Leesburg,VA for about 3 years, family up in PA so a drive through college park was not uncommon, come back the long way to hit IKEA.
small small world