About Us

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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

July 30, 2009

Return to the 49th parallel

Once your at the Arctic Circle you don't have much choice but to got back. Of course you could carry on but with a time frame to keep in mind there's not a lot of choice. I have to admit though, the thought of returning saddened me. The North has a magic to it, I can't describe it, I'm not going to try.

On the route back we tested the limits of our fuel capacity, this challenge was issued by Chuck, though I don't think he meant it to be a challenge but a challenge it was. We took a lot of pictures, while riding Deya had the camera out and was shooting for 500 pics. Some worked out, others did not, the intention was to only have a few really good ones. The return seemed a little more hurried and a little less exciting; I really wasn't motivated to leave. Regardless, the weather was good and Chuck is a fine traveling partner. As luck would have it we made it all the back off the Dempster and to the petrol station with one liter of fuel to spare. Outstanding! The odometer read 390 km on 20 liters of fuel.

Our friends, the family, from Duncan BC were there. We chatted for a bit and the legend of Little Buddy began; it's a bit of a story and to save any humiliation I'll just say little buddy was a decent fellow, interesting and very insecure. I'm glad to have met the fellow and to have a story to remember, I hope he made it back in one piece though he might prefer to have been martyred up on the hill somewhere.

We headed into Dawson City to spend the night and intended to stay at the 5th Ave B&B. A fabulous spot hosted by fabulous people, a public servant and a talented entertainer. There we met several Texans who had paddled there way down the Yukon River from Whitehorse for 40 hours straight winning some kind of insane competition. We also met the folks who had left the Circle with the wounded GS650.

The GS650 was still very problematic and required some creativity, the baling wire trick came into play and apparently got them out of Dawson and closer to home. The problem with a breakdown when you are out in the sticks is that you are out in the sticks and many of the best options, like CAA, are not available.

After leaving Dawson City we neared Junction 37. An important point because this is where the Cassiar Highway starts and since we never took the Alaskan highway we had to decide. We stopped for fuel and decided, Watson Lake on the Alaskan Highway was our direction for the day but as we forged on the sky grew darker and colder and the lighting thundered in only miles away. We turned around and headed back for the junction to hide, in fact we sheltered under a closed petrol station. We made lunch and decided to wait it out, the lightning pounded all around us and rain was coming down in buckets. The oddity of going from 24 hours of sunshine to the cold darkness of night was demoralizing. We took it though and waited for the heavy clouds to pass and so they did and we headed South down the Cassiar having decided that fate told us to do so.

It rained and rained and rained and at some point we stopped to find that our spare tire had slipped and rubbed against the knobbies eating a hole in it. The rear spare was done so we found a suitable road side garbage can and left it behind. Sad really, it still had life and would have made a few things easier for us down the road, but alas, I don't think were here for easy.

We missed Stewart on the way up and so made sure to find it on the way down and what a lovely find it was. A beautiful route in and a quaint little town tucked under the glaciers and in front of the inlet. Hyder Alaska was close, hundreds of metres away and so we went for a look. The Canadian customs people were there keeping the hooligans out but to our surprise there was no US customs, no police and Hyder for all intents and purposes was a dump, literally a lawless place. The worst was the Canadians who where there, were behaving badly, an unfortunate sight to see. The best was meeting Jud from Georgia, an adventure rider on a sport touring bike, outstanding! We met Jud back in Stewart and headed to a charity pick nick for the kids, the food was great and we had a good time. Jud returned to Hyder were he, regrettably, had accommodations as the story goes. That same evening we met another couple who were traveling and camping in the lodge, they were sneaking Internet. So funny and enjoyable, we went for a beer with these charming folks from Saskatchewan who had retired to Mill Bay on Vancouver Island.

After leaving Stewart we headed to Smithers to stay with our friends again, oddly enough our fellow adventurers Micha and Flo were in Smithers at the same time but we never knew. We enjoyed our stay but were now only one day from home and thoughts of work, chores and the mundane repetition of the daily grind began to return to our thoughts. We headed back, the feeling of contentment gone now and only the road and the silence in our helmets to keep us free. The final day coming back and for a few days afterwards I felt angry, I wasn't angry at anything in particular but felt angst and I'm not sure why, like someone woke me to soon from a perfect sleep.

July 21, 2009

To the Arctic Circle 66°33'

The sun was shinning brightly that day, as we stood there looking out over the vastness of it all. The world is such a magnificent place full of beauty and magic, yet I can't help but think that we're intruding in this fine place. I wish I could stay, I wish I didn't have to leave.

We headed North after getting out of town and stayed in Hope, BC. This was a good idea since the traffic in Vancouver can be frustrating at best. Our longest leg took us fifteen hours North and West to Smithers, BC and the comfort of a good friends home. There we enjoyed good company, good food and the beauty of the place before carrying on along our mission. We had been briefed that Stewart, BC was not to be missed but we'd end up driving by trying to make time. Maybe this was a good thing, it's hard to tell but eventually we'd end up there.

Once in Smithers and beyond the scenery improved. With all that time in the helmet there was opportunity to think about all kinds of things; work out problems of the past, think about the future, hopes, dreams and listening as my passenger sang playfully in her helmet off in a world full of life and peace became the task of each day. The weather was spectacular, not enough rain to wash the bugs from the bike but enough to be refreshing. As we headed North on the Cassiar Highway 37 we came across some dirt road, saw bears and their cubs and generally had a nice ride.

After exiting Hwy 37 onto the Alaskan Highway we headed for Whitehorse, Yukon. This was intended to be our place to stay for the night. We arrived during the day and found a pretty little town but no place to stay. There was a canoe competition occurring that took many paddlers along the Yukon river from Whitehorse to Dawson City. Hundreds of kilometres this would take these athletes forty plus hours of paddle. Unfortunately, we had no place to stay and everything was booked up. We got a tip to head North a ways so we got going before to much fatigue would set in. The days we're already getting longer and we were curious to see what twenty four hours of daylight was really like. We headed North and ended up in Carmacks, this was a dump, the B&B was full and looked nice but we ended up in a hotel full of mixed company near the highway. It was expensive and I got up several times in the night (daylight) to check the bike to make sure it was still there. Little did we know a ways down the road was a pretty cool little camp ground with cabins, would have been much better.

The following day we headed for the next stop, Dawson City, we had met some folks along the way, mostly Harley riders, who were headed for various destinations in Alaska. Some of the sights were great and the isolation began to increase between cities. There's definitely enough traffic that your never alone but the vastness of the Yukon gives a real sense of distance and the peace associated with it.

We arrived in Dawson City, parked the bike outside the Downtown Hotel, famous for its sour toe cocktail (real human toe) and checked in. I won't go on about the hotel other than to say it wasn't the best place to stay in the city. We ended up in the 5th Ave B&B, it was less expensive and had fantastic breakfast. The hosts were also outstanding folks and important members of the community, you'll find out why if you go there.

We spent a few days in Dawson City and had a great time, the restaurants are good, the environment is wonderful and there is plenty to do and see. The Dust to Dawson Rally is over rated and lost most of its appeal because of the loud mouth yanks who seem to be running it, it was a clicky group. While I give the standard Yank stereotype the truth is we met some real Americans who were outstanding individuals. Many Alaskans were there and were the genuine and broadminded folks that represent their country well. One of the fellows we met was such an outstanding individual that we ended up traveling with him to the Arctic Circle and back. Charles Wade, retired professor, father, grandfather, new rider, loving husband and excellent riding partner rode the Dempster like a total champ! We chatted with another good character, Wayne from Montana, who had a particular impact on my wife as she described him as, "Good People" and promised to visit Montana when we get the chance.

The Dempster itself was beautiful, particularly near Tombstone, I don't know the history of the place or why it's called that but I haven't felt that content in a long, long time. As we headed north we took care to slow down on the dark spots (wet) and where it looked loose. The Dempster is all dirt road, mostly clay and a bunch of tire tearing shale. We had several stops along the way, the best was to refuel from our jerry's. While Chuck and I fueled the bike Deya headed behind the bush to take a pee. I commented to Chuck that she'll probably come out screaming from all the mosquitos trying to pull her pants up. Well sure enough I barely had five litres in the tank and here comes Deya trying to pull here pants up and screaming all the way. I couldn't help but laugh, just as I was about to ask what happened a small tour bus rounded the corner from seemingly nowhere and pulled up asking if everything was all right. We laughed again and said yes we were good, Deya lowered her head, red faced and embarrassed. Turns out she heard the grrrrr of the diesel engine and thought it was a bear. Funny, as we got back on the road there was a rest stop and bathroom four kilometres ahead, we never stopped.

When we got to our destination for the night, Eagle Plains, which is about forty km South of the Arctic Circle we got fuel and met two Canadians who were having some trouble. The clutch on the new BMW 650GS wouldn't disengage. They ended up getting it going and left for Dawson City, I wasn't sure if they were going to make it or not but hoped the best. We heard then that earlier that day another rider crashed nearby and was flown in critical condition to Anchorage, Alaska. They said he wasn't going to fast but his 1200GS was destroyed, so I don't know.

After getting a room we went for some food and bumped into a family from Duncan, BC. We had seen them in Dawson City earlier and the kids had caught a huge trout with sticks and strings, Awesome!!! They were heading to Inuvik but got turned around due to poor road conditions and weather. I was so impressed with these people, and jealous for what the two young lads were getting in the way of summer vacation and experience.

We were holding a little bit of trepidation as to the prospect of carrying on that evening but there was a group of folks that had been North and they all agreed that the road up to the Arctic Circle was in excellent condition so with a nod and a smile, Chuck, Deya and I set out to find the Circle. The sun seemed to refuse to go down so some thirty minutes later we were at our destination and it was marvelous, not that making it there was special just that it was marvelous. We turned around and headed back, digital pictures stowed and thinking about how wonderful the place is. After getting back to Eagle Plains we swaggered into the lounge for a beer with the rest of the adventurers and relaxed, talked and mused over our travels. By about midnight I was getting tired, my sunglasses were hurting the bridge of my nose and my neck was getting a burn. Outstanding, was the though for the day and I felt like our time there was extended significantly by the long Arctic days.