Saturday, 22 June 2013

187 New friends and the Yukon

Tuesday 18th June  Miles  Today 220 Total  8963

After a very restful night we left Hyder, Alaska this morning and headed further North.  We are on route to Dease Lake.  We didn’t get too far before we decided to stop for petrol.  The distances we are covering in the middle of nowhere are vast, so you grab all the petrol that you can.  

Ray loves bridges, but this is a bit of a nightmare as the tyres slide all over the place and you think you are going to fall off, but my new chilled out husband says "just let it happen"......

This is a porcupine, contrary to belief, they do not walk about with their spines out, he was really calm and let us get really close to him.

After the garage we came upon three more bikes that we had seen the previous day driving through Stewart. They pulled out into the road as we were driving past and when we stopped, they did too. One bike, a Moto Guzzi, had a couple from Britain who have been traveling for 3 years, namely Kevin and Karen, and the other two bikes, Honda Transalps, had a couple from California, Bear (yes Bear) and Stephanie who have been on the road for 3 weeks. 
This Moto Guzzi is a tank. It weighs 600kg without passengers, it has a fridge, a winch, 2 fuel tanks, a sun roof with solar panels and God only knows what else. As well as everything else, he has a Tepee (an indian tent) on her somewhere.

We all got talking over coffees and ended up joining them for part of the journey.  We are all making our way to Fairbanks, in Alaska, but via different routes.
We are all posing quite happily, now that the bear had been disturbed.  He heard all the loud bikes and was watching us from behind bushes.  None of us were uick enough to get him on film though.

Steph and Bear from our point of view on the first day that we met.
Kevin said that they were going to make an unannounced visit on a Indian family following a recommendation from someone he had met the previous day. We ummed and arred and eventually decided to join them. It was very cheeky really. So we turned up at the Indian (or First Nation) ranch, completely unannounced and just started talking to them.
Our bedroom for the night after the storm.

They are Tahltan Indians and have built the ranch up by themselves and have horses which they do trekking into the nearby canyon for 2 weeks at a time. It did not take long to break the ice and after a very short time we were offered shelter from the impending storm and coffee. The storm was unbelievable.  The thunder and lightning and wind were very fierce and it was like a mini tornado. Due to the nature of us cold calling, so to speak, we were just going to have coffee with them in one of the halls that were on the land, but the storm caused so much damage with tree s snapping off the water that landed caused huge puddles, read lakes to form.   Willie, our host stated he had never seen a storm like that and he was born nearby.

These are a couple of video clips of the  storm. Trula should like these... nutter.

The rain......

The lightning......

Willie and Grace Williamson as they are known were themselves recovering from a big family wedding which had taken place at their ranch, so  having just got rid of several family members who had all stayed, they now had us to contend with.  After the storm, they stated that we should stay the night, as the road down to their place would be too hazardous to travel by bike.
We were given access to a separate cooking facility and the use of a small log cabin for the night. In a very short space of time we had made some good friends on our 4 fellow bikers and then another 6 Indian friends. It was surreal.
In true Indian fashion, at around 8 pm the horses, who had been running free on the range, decided to come home and put themselves in the corral.  We then retired to bed in the log cabin.

Ray and I slept on the bottom bunk, Bear and Stephanie slept on the bed right hand corner.
Amazing. Willie whistled and they put themselves to bed.
Wednesday 19th June     Miles Today  192   Total  9155

Lack of insect killer spray made the night very long and we were all bitten quite badly and kept awake by the sound of mosquitoes flying past in the semi dark. I say semi dark as this far North it does not get dark, only sort of twilight. As I write this it is midnight and I am typing outside. The sun only set 45 minutes ago and it will be up in 4 hours.
Bright and sunny and all still standing.
Anyway, our hosts, Willie and Grace made us all breakfast and we mucked in with the washing up (for 12 people !) and also helped out around the ranch for a couple of hours to sort out some damage from last nights storm. Willie told us of his long family ancestry and how the government gradually took most of that the land and privileges from his ancestors. It was sad to listen to him reminisce on the subject.

This is Willy and Grace's extended family circa 1945

Willie and Grace, fabulous people.  They do a lot of good work in the community trying to help alcoholism with the Native Aboriginals.

A wonderful breakfast, they just looked so after us.
Karen and Kev's bed, far left and the lounge

A proper underground cold storage room, they run off a generator, no fridge's here.  The food tasted divine.

Stephanie doing the chores.  After the storm we offered our services as they had been so good about putting us up.

The Family with the bikers

The beautiful little great grand daughter making choices!

Grace, her Grand daughter and great daughter with the wedding present, a full Lynx fur. She called this "Kitty".

We finally packed up our bikes and lest at around 2pm for a relatively short ride to Watson Lake where the other Karen, found a very crappy camp site that had the advantage of only being $5 to stay.
Unfortunately the tourist board were not aware of this one.....

Yukon here we come. L-R Stephanie, Bear, Ray Karen and Kevin.

Blond Black bear, not far out of town.

It was easy  to see why the camping was only $5, no showers, no water and only an earth toilet (or ‘long drop’ as it is affectionately called). There was however a bar attached to it so a bit of grub and a couple of beers were used to help sleep through the day lit night. Fortunately the tent has mesh screens so mozzies were not a problem.
5 star facilities.
Thursday 20th June     Miles Today 271  Total 9426

I awoke with what I thought was a hangover after only 3 beers and was violently sick whilst packing away the tent. It eventually settled and the 6 of us had an early start and long trip to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. I think the very name Yukon is seriously macho and reminds me of hard men cutting trees and trapping animals for survival.

Me, I don't drink much, I don't get ill.  Bear, how did you manage to fit this on the bike?

Bear and Stephanie

Kevin and Karen.  We were all lured here by the smell of bacon.

Steph was starting to fret over her chain.

We arrived here at about 5 pm, stopped at the local visitors center and  located a campsite near town. Stephanie and Bear went in search of the local Honda dealer as Stephanie’s chain was on its way out. They returned about 20 minutes later and stated that the nearest chain for their bike was in Anchorage, about 1000 miles away ! This changed their plans dramatically and meant that they had to travel West as opposed North as they wanted to do. Bummer!
Once the tents were up we wandered into town for a pie and a pint (OK fish and chips and a pint).  The good thing is that although Canada has now gone fully metric, they still have pints for beer. It was then to bed. On the way back from the campsite we passed an Eagles nest that the birds had built on a purpose built platform.

Enough said.

"Our hearts will go on"  This was part of our walk to the restaurant.

Bald eagle.

 I think they must have posted a sign in bird language stating: “Vacant Property, Unfurnished, big birds only need apply”, because the bird(s) set up home and the furnishing they put in was around 6 foot wide.

Friday 21st June Miles Today  118  Total   9544

Happy Birthday Trula

Today we had a very slow start. Kevin and Karen wanted to stay another day to sort out some camping equipment issues, Stephanie and Bear were now on a 1000 mile mission just to get a new chain and we were setting off North along the Klondike. We had a slow round of goodbyes to friends that although we had only known for 3 days, we had a real connection with.  
Kevin and Karen were coming to the end (although they still need to go to South America) of a 3 year, round the world trip. They had saved up for 10 years and they have sold virtually everything to finance it. They will be going back to the UK to start again.
Stephanie and Bear are hippies in the true sense. Albeit not many Hippies ride bikes. Steph is a graphic designer and sees the world through very artistic eyes and visualises things that we do not even see. Bear is a musician and plays every musical instrument in use provided he does not have to blow into it. He hears the world on a different plane to us and amongst other things is responsible for the soundtrack to car chases in the new version of ‘Knight Rider’. A US program shown in the UK. Stephanie and Bear have invited us to stay with them when we pass through California.
Anyway, we set off and needed to go to the chemist and fill up with fuel before our departure. Whilst Karen was in the chemist I went to the petrol station and on the way back, by chance, I found another bike shop. I popped in and lo and behold they had a chain to fit Steph’s bike. On the way back to collect Karen I ran into a load of British Paratroopers, identifiable by their maroon T shirts and winged emblems. On chatting to them, they are here for a raft race to Dawson Creek, a distance of about 300m. Those boys are tough. I then collected Karen and rode back to the campsite where Steph and Bear were only minutes from leaving for Anchorage. We gave them the good news and after lots of high 5’s we departed Whitehorse and hit the Klondike highway.  Due to our late start we only covered 118 miles today and pulled in early to a small motel in a village called Carmacks. We have a lovely view of the river and will have an early but light, night. Sunset is at midnight tonight !

Lunch for two very tired travelers.

Midnight at the oasis......

It has just turned midnight and it is broad daylight outside.....   weird....

And Happy Birthday Karen.......Love Ray


  1. Hiya. We are finally off to La Manga on Monday 15th till end August. Your stories are so entertaining. Love it. Be safe guys. Xxxx

  2. Fantastic, so glad you are reading and enjoying. You have a wonderful time and keep me posted. Take care of you both. Lots of love Karen and Ray