Canada 2013

Day 08

June 22


It sort of looks like I'm up before the cook so there is no breakfast in sight. Today is one of my planned longer days so I can't tarry too long. As I am packing up Frost, a young woman comes up to me -

"Do you know if anybody is here? I've got a wedding in Whitehorse and I'm about out of gas" she asks with panic in her voice.

"Well, I reckon they will probably be up and about before too much longer" I tell her. "Sorry I can't be of much better help than that."

And I am also glad that I filled up last night which is my usual habit. I've been burnt bad enough to know to get gas the night before because who knows what the morning will bring.

  Since there's nothing I can really do to help. I head for the long grated bridge again. At least it's not wet and there's nobody in front of me.  
  But that's the least of the challenges this morning. Judging by the clouds up ahead this is going to be 'gravel' day.  
  A little further along, I see the place that Alain and I stayed at last year is now shut. It was nice and friendly, but the economy has killed a lot of nice and friendly places in the last few years.  
  And there's more gravel to deal with but I'm getting sort of used to it by now.  
  But then it's back to real pavement and I can focus a little less on the road surface.  
  The dark sky makes me wonder if I should put on my rain suit, but I see clear up ahead and figure I'll keep cooking without it as long as I can.  
  I get the feeling once again that I am the only one left on the planet - at least the only one in this part of the world.  
  My instincts prove me right, as before long I'm out of the overcast and out into the lovely blue skies.  
  But I still have to be careful as there are heavy gravel patches and they are as unpredictable as riding on ice. You can't determine their thickness and newness until you are almost in the middle of them.  
  But I've managed to cover 150 miles and make it back to Junction 37 services. There's been a restaurant or two along the way but when I don't see any vehicles in the lot at breakfast time, I figure there's no use in stopping.  
  This is the north end of the Cassiar and I know from here I need to be extra watchful of my gas level. This is not the road that you want to run off of or run out of gas on as it is pretty sparsely populated.  
  But it is a peaceful ride of solitude through the thick forest that stretches as far as I can see.  
  And every now and then it is punctuated by the effects of a forest fire. This sight always brings me sadness when I think of the horrific fear the poor animals must have faced at the peak of destruction.  
  There is sometimes that a body just needs to be alone and this is the place. It seems to me that folks today are too busy about being busy. They are almost afraid to put down their electronic contraptions and just be quiet for a moment with their own thoughts.  
  When I pass this lake, called Mud Lake, I have to chuckle. It sure looks like a far stretch from muddy to me.  
  Around another bend and I see the snow kissed mountains again. I don't know if I will ever get tired of views like this ...  
  or the sight of lovely crystal clear lakes like this.  
  The Cassiar is in really poor shape, but the road crews have been pretty good about marking rough stuff. But as I will learn later, they are not perfect.  
  The snow capped mountains beckon me on to Stewart and Hyder, my familiar stop for the evening.  
  I guess the moose in this area don't do any rowing - or at least the sign doesn't say so.  
  One of the things you have to watch on the Cassiar is the road surface varies greatly from decent pavement to fresh chip and seal to gravel. And the change can be rather abrupt and when you least expect it. I am making pretty good time when it happens - a massive unmarked pot hole. It's so wide there is no escape and I slam into it. I manage to stay upright, but I figure I've probably bent my front rim. So I pull over at the next wide place in the road. My right mirror is loose, the windshield garnish is popped out, a rear bodywork peg is broken and the front fender is about to fall off. But fortunately both rims are fine with no cracks or bends. I get out my 'doctor bag' and reattach the front fender, snap the right mirror back in pace and I'm off again - but a little more watchful this time.  
  This looks like a nice lake a feller could wet a hook in and come up with something.  
  And when I see this sign about twisty roads, I just chuckle. To some I guess it's danger, but to me it's a pleasure.  
  It's about time for gas and my stomach is complaining, so I pull into the Tin Rooster in Deason Lake. They have gas and pretty well stocked grocery store.  
  They have these things call a 'Naniamo bar' - chocolate and coconut confection of some sort I guess. I figure I will give them a whirl and see how they taste. With a little milk and a few of them, I now have my sugar level high enough to go in the strength of that meat the rest of the day.  
  Back on the road, I pass this rushing river. I figure it must be receiving a lot of the snow melt.  
  Further down the road, the sky once again is not looking good for the home team. But as long as I can see some clearing up ahead, I'll ride until the water falls out of the sky.  
  The interesting thing up here is the wide variety of the types of bridges you will cross. This one reminds me of old bridges they had back home when I was a kid.  
  I come to a long section of gravel, about five miles to be exact. I remember it from last year as we were coming down it. I find it a little easier to be going up than it was coming down.  
  It's views like this that makes me so glad I am able to ride these roads again.  
  I get a lovely view of Kinaskan Lake coming down the hill. It's a little over half way from the top of the Cassiar to Stewart.  
  And I notice that I am not as alone as I thought I was. But I don't hang around long enough to read his name tag.  
  It's been raining here but hopefully it has passed by.  
  Along the way, I spot this interesting bit of history about the Yukon telegraph. During the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, they blazed a trail for the telegraph lines through this area. Cabins were constructed for the isolated telegraph operators that are still in use by wayfaring strangers today.  
  As I descend into this valley, I see something in the distance that catches my eyes.  
  It seems that a power company is running a major power line through this remote area. It's such a stark contrast that I can't reconcile the incongruity of poles in this isolated wilderness.  
  I know I will need gas before I make it to Stewart, so I take advantage of this place of business.  

When I go in to settle up, I see this poor puppy dog wearing a vest that says -

"Do Not Feed Me"

I tell him, "Well old buddy, that just ain't fair." This really brings a new meaning to the old saying 'Being treated like a dog'.

He nods his head in sad agreement.

The lady behind the counter says "He's be trying to figure out how to get that thing off."

"Well, do you blame him?" I answer with a grin. I've still got a ways to go, so I bid them both goodbye.

  It looks clear up ahead so I just keeping cranking along until ...  
  I see another furry patrolman. He really puts a new meaning in CB vernacular 'there's bear down the road'. .  
  At this junction, I leave the Cassiar for the forty mile run into Stewart/Hyder.  
  This is my third time on this particular road but I still enjoy the scenery..  
  And I have to stop and get my shot of Frost at the bear Glacier just like I did for ...  
  Redbird and ...  
  It's amazing to me the speed that the river is rushing beside the road.  
  And off to the right is a lovely waterfall making its graceful way down the mountainside.  
  I also notice that the washed out bridge still is not any further along than it was last year.  
  It's been a long but good day of riding for me. But I am glad to see this sign. 
  I decided to stay in the hotel this year since it was just me. So I park Frost and do a quick check in and unload. 
  I want to get my second 'Alaska' sign and see if Miss Caroline is still open. When I set up to get my picture, I notice a little 'interesting sight' in the background. 

Fortunately she is still open, so I make my way inside. I tell her -

"I didn't know if you would be open on Sunday, so I wanted to be sure and stop by today."

"Well, I stay open 7 days a week whether I ought to or not" she says.

I wander over the store and find a few things that I think my lovely wife will like. Another rider comes in and I tell him -

"Don't miss out on the fudge. It's so good it will make your tongue beat your brains out!"

Of course, I pick up a little fudge for myself while I'm at it. I wish Miss Caroline well and head back to the King Eddy as they call it locally.


I go upstairs and wash a bit of the road dirt off me. It's been a long day with a lacking of nourishment, so I wander downstairs to the cafe. I ask my server -

"Got any fresh fish today?"

"Yes, we have cod and halibut" she tells me.

I had the halibut last year so it's a pretty quick decision for me -

"I'll take the halibut and bowl of that clam chowder, please."

When it comes, it's as good as I remembered from last year.

  And there are few restaurants that have a view like this out their window.  
  I make really short work of the food as I am both tired and hungry. But I need to tend to a few things on Frost since I'll be running up to the Salmon Glacier tomorrow. It's forty plus miles of gravel and such and I want a closer look to see if there is any other damage to Frost from that pot hole attack. I make sure the front fender is secure and the rest of the bodywork. I also discover that the hit evidently did in my MP3 player which was in the trunk. But I have a spare, so I swap the units and make sure I'll have music and sermons for tomorrow. With Frost in decent shape, I cover her up and head upstairs to my room. It's a much shorter ride to Slumberland than it was to Stewart and there are no pot holes along the way.