Canada 2013

Day 07

June 21

  When I plan longs trips like this one, I try to schedule a 'short' day every so often to give me a break. It is good both mentally and physically to change the pace for a day. So today is one of those days - 160 miles to the ferry in Haines, a nice breakfast at the Bamboo Room, a relaxing hour long scenic ferry ride to Skagway, and then 160 miles or so to the motel for the evening. Not to mention picking up three Alaska state line signs and riding on my favorite road in this area. So I'm up early, hoping to get a lot of video shot before anybody else gets on the road.  
  The sun is just peeping over the mountains, but it's plenty bright to see any critters that might decide to wander across the road.  
  I have the whole road to myself and it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  
  Riding highway 3 into Haines is just like riding in a 'calendar' - that is if your calendar has lots of snow covered mountain tops, ....  
  pleasant forests, ...  
  clouds so close you can almost touch them, and  
  beautiful crystal clear lakes.  
  I decide to stop for a minute at Dezadeash Lake and get a 'calendar' shot of Frost.  
  The road is not particularly 'technical' but it does have some nice sweepers.  
  And the road surface this year is in really great shape.  
  The clouds on the mountains look just like a fluffy cotton collar attached to a winter coat.  
  But then I notice that I have just 'bearly' a little company ahead up ahead.  
  He's a pretty good sized black bear out for his morning stroll. Most folks don't realize how quickly a bear can cover a short distance. Since I prefer not to be his breakfast entree, I wish him well and make a hasty departure.  
  It's just so pretty along this road that pictures do not do it justice.  
  The clouds seem to be getting so low that it seems I'll be riding in them before long.  
  The sun lights up the mountains they stretch out across the horizon in beautiful array.  
  Even the wild flowers are stunning, all dressed up in their purple robes.  
  It is hard to get the sense of majesty of the scenery without being there.  
  But another 'matter' interrupts my reverie. I hope he is not conducting a traffic stop. I wonder if his brother back down the road radioed ahead to him to be on the lookout for the nut on the fast red bicycle.  
  He must have forgot his badge and radar gun, as he wanders on across the road and gives me a hall pass. As the sun climbs higher in the sky, once again it seems the clouds are coming down to kiss the ground.  
  The farther I go, the closer they seem to be.  
  But then the road descends into the next sun kissed valley.  
  And off to my right are what appear to be swans. I didn't think that they came this far north, but they don't look like they are lost. At least that's my story and I am sticking to it.  
  It's just a sweet run and wonderful feeling to know I have the whole road to myself. I don't have to even contend with people in mobile phone booths in their distracted state of existence this morning.  
  What a morning to be alive and enjoy the privilege of seeing it all on two wheels, unencumbered by a shell of steel around me.  
  All of sudden, I get a real wake up call. When I see this sign, I wonder what this is all about. Maybe I'm so early that the US border has not opened yet.  
  But about 70 miles in, I get a much better picture. This is not a sight that I really want to see this morning on this road.  

I park Frost, and walk up to a supervisor. I ask him -

"'Is there any way around? I've got a ferry to catch in Haines."

"'No, the road is closed. We told folks in the Haines Junction and put a sign up" he tells me.

"Nobody knew about it that I talked to last night. When did you put up the sign?" I ask.

"About 7 AM this morning." he replies.

"Well, I came through at 6 AM." I tell him with a long sigh.

I walk down to see if there is any where I could cross the creek. But it is raging full bore so there not a chance. So with a stroke of a shovel, the BC highway department has added 270+ miles to my day, took away breakfast, two Alaska state line signs, and a nice ferry ride.

  There's not much for me do to do at this point except hike up my britches and turn around. I do some quick calculations in my head as to what it will take to get to Skagway. I head Frost back the way we just came and begin to quickly cover the ground. At least I know there will not be any traffic, so needless to say I proceed rather rapidly. In fact, so fast that the birds can't seem to keep up with me ...  
  They say if you ride a road in the opposite direction, it's a different road. But now I've got a big day ahead so I'm not paying a lot of attention.  
  I get back to Haines Junction in short order, knowing I've got to head back down the ALCAN to Whitehorse, then take highway 2 to Carcross, then on into Skagway.  
  Well, at least I've never been on highway 2 so I'll get to experience a new road which ain't all bad. At Whitehorse, I make a quick fuel stop that should get me to Skagway and grab some stuff I can eat on the bike. No time for a proper breakfast this morning with the distance I need to cover.  
  Fortunately, the road is pretty much mine after I get through Whitehorse, and for that I am thankful.  
  Once I finally turn onto highway 2, this sign gives me a good idea just what lies in store for me mileage wise. It's pretty easy for me to convert kilometers to miles in my head. Plus Dave, my trusty GPS, has got my new 'route' in his pretty little noggin' so I can check against what he thinks.  
  This is road that I have not ridden and it is actually quite nice. I remind myself that there are lot worse things that having to ride unexpected roads over unexpected distances.  
  One of the real visual treasures I come across is Spirit Lake. The bands of colors are quite remarkable to see.  
  And there are other pretty lakes and mountains that I would not have seen if it were not for the unplanned 'detour'.  
  When I come to Carcross, the road is very familiar as Alain and I took it from Skagway. I notice that Carcross is actually called 'Caribou Crossing' by the locals.  
  The road to Skagway is a lovely ride also with it's many mountains ...  
  and beautiful blue lakes. It is a bit more technically challenging as it climbs up and over the mountains.  
  It reminds me a lot of scenes from the Alps over in Europe.  
  Most of the lakes up here are this incredible blue, much like the blue of the famous Crater Lake.  
  The road surface is a little lacking, but the scenery more than makes up for it.  
  It's just a very pretty place and I am thankful that I am getting to see it again.  
  As I near the Alaskan border, I come into another construction zone. At least this one does not have the road closed.  
  But it is some pretty nasty fresh oil and gravel which sticks to every thing it splashes on.  
  But fortunately it stops at the US border on the top of the mountain.  
  And now I can snag my final state line sign. With this sign, I have now put all three of my ST1100 Hondas at 49 state lines with a picture of the bikes at each sign. Unless I buy another bike or they build a highway to Hawaii, I am at long last done with the state line business. 
  The run down the mountain to Skagway is a little rough but a lot of pretty.  
  I remember this interesting 'half suspension' bridge from last year. 
  It's a pleasant ride down and I notice that I should arrive in Skagway about an hour later than I would have if I had been able to take the ferry.  
  My plan is to get lunch and gas in Skagway since I didn't have a good breakfast. Unfortunately for me, a cruise ship has just landed which floods the streets, shops, and restaurants. I'm just not about fighting crowds today and I can't seem to find a place to fuel up. So I just get out of Dodge and head back up the road. I remember a fuel station at Carcross, so I'm in good shape.  
  Before long, I cross the interesting bridge from the other direction. 
  As I make my way up the mountain, I'm wondering how the construction zone will be going in the opposite direction.  
  Fortunately, there's not as many vehicles in front of me and the pilot truck is ready to roll when I get there.  
  It's sort of strange, but going down they let us drive on the new pavement instead of the fresh oil. And at this point, I greatly appreciate that.  
  When I pass this lake, I think my eyes are playing tricks on me. There is a very visible line, almost like a dam, where the blue water comes up against the green water. It's almost as if two opposing forces are battling for the right to continue in the channel.  
  I remembered being eaten alive at this Canadian customs point last year. So this morning I put on some deet before I left the motel. The nice customs lady reviews my documentation and soon I am on my way.  
  Since I am about where I planned to be at about the time I thought I would be, I can knock back a little bit and take more time to enjoy the beautiful views.  

I asked a customs officer last year if he ever got tired of the views around here. His quick reply?


And I can fully understand it having been here more than once.

  I pass Tutshi Lake to my right, known for it's trout fishing.  
  I have the road back to Carcross all to myself, which suits me just fine today.  
  Before long, I cross back into the Yukon and come alongside another lovely lake call Tagish Lake. It is about 62 miles long with two arms. I am riding beside the Windy Arm.  
  As I pull into Carcross, I remember that the gas station is a little beyond where I need to go.  
  But it has plenty of gas and a well stocked grocery, so I avail myself of both of them.  

While I'm taking a break, another rider pulls in on a C14. As normal, we start talking about the places we've been and the places we're going. His name is Steve Krawse and he has had some fork trouble. He was laid up for a few days while a local shop replace his leaking fork seals. And now they are leaking again and he is trying to figure out should he get them fixed now or just wait til he gets home. I tell him -

"I've got an ST1100 that I've rode several thousand miles with a leaking seal. If you think about what's in the forks - a spring and a dampener, there's not much to hurt. Just be careful and don't hit any big pot holes and you'll be fine."

He tells me of an incredible place along the road that I am headed, but I tell him -

"I'm pretty bushed so I believe I'll have to save that one for another day."

I give him a big hug, and we're both off to our next destinations.

  Now I get to ride another road, highway 8, that I haven't ridden before. At least this one is actually planned and not a surprise.  
  It's good old chip and seal but it's got some age on it so I can ride at a pretty good clip.  
  When I come through Tagish, I get to see the other arm of Tagish Lake, the Taku Arm.  
  It's another pretty run through the rugged mountains.  
  Pretty soon I am back on the ALCAN, headed for Teslin, my destination for the evening.  
  It's a nice run that I am familiar with by now, but still immensely enjoyable.  
  Enjoyable, that is, if you like lovely lakes and snow tipped mountains like me.  
  This point always amuses me as it looks like for all the world that the road ends right in the water.  
  But as with many things in life, the reality is far different than the perception.  
  After the little 'surprise' this morning, I am awful glad to see this sign.  
  And I am even happier to land here and unload Frost.  
  It's one of the nicer places that I have stayed in so far, and as tired as I am at this point it makes it much sweeter.  
  There's cafe in the complex which is a short walk from my room. I order some soup and a grilled ham and cheese. When it arrives, it looks mighty good. And it turns out to taste better than it looks. I do believe my tongue is going to lick the tops out of my shoes the meal is so full of flavor.  
  And when I finish, there is nothing left but ashes.  

There's an older man and and younger boy sitting beside me. I strike up a conversation and find out they are from Washington State. He regales me with his motorcycle rides and wishes he was up here on his Harley. When I tell him I rode up from Tennessee on my Honda, he says -

"We call those things rice burners".

"Well, I've got one at home with 130,000+ miles on it, one with 90,000+ miles on it, and the one I am on has over 70,000+ miles on it. So I guess you could say I've burned a lot of rice" I reply with a grin.

His eyes get a little big and he gets quiet after that. At a table nearby I hear a family looking at a map and trying to figure out where Skagway and Haines are actually located. I walk over to them and say -

"Not trying to be nosy, but I just came from Skagway today. From where you sit, you are about 150 miles from Skagway. Haines is on the other side and you have to take a ferry to get there, unless you want to drive around."

They are from Medocino, California and they are up here in an RV. I share a few insights from my travels up here and they are appreciative. But the day has about worn me out, so I wish them well, settle up my bill and waddle back to my room. I think I fall asleep before my head even hits the pillow.