Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another 1000 mile run

The run to Calgary involved travelling down the Icefields Parkway, from Jasper to Banff which was one of the 'must do' roads that everyone recommends, straight through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Going to Calgary was not part of the original plan but we were desparate to get the helmets fixed. Both had been damaged as a result of the crash, mine had a few scratches to the visor but Sue's visor was so badly scratched from the gravel that she could see virtually nothing out of the right side.

The helmets are the latest BMW system6 series which we bought just before we left the UK, as far as helmets go they are superb, light, quiet and comfortable but here's the problem, due to some wierd regulations they are not sold in the States. We didn't get to know this until after the crash when we tried to get the visors replaced in Fairbanks, not a problem though, ring our BMW dealer in the UK and get a couple shipped out...."err we don't have any in stock" was their answer, "no one has any in the UK"! So let me get this right, BMW are pushing these state of the art helmets out of BMW dealers across the UK without the facility to repair them if they break?
But wait, they do sell them in Canada, so if we can get to a major BMW dealer in Canada they might just be able to help. So we'll go to Calgary then?

The ride from Stewart to Prince George was gruesome, over 430 miles in the rain, non stop for eight hours. We had originally planned to ride as far as Burns Lake (just under 300 miles) and then find somewhere for the night, but seeing as we were already wet and thoroughly pissed off we pushed on to Prince George. Tony and Andy who rode with us up to Deadhorse were by now a couple of weeks ahead of us and Tony had emailed us and recommended the Esthers Inn Hotel and Spa in Prince George as a cool place to chill out for a couple of days, so that's what we did.

After Prince George the next stop was Jasper at the top of the Icefields Parkway, we were totally underwhelmed by Jasper, far too touristy for us. We did find a nice B&B for the night with secure parking behind the house, in the morning I brought BOB round to the front of the house to load up and unfortunately parked at the side of the road facing the oncoming traffic. This is an offence over here and when I came out after breakfast I had a nice notice on the windshield with a fine for $50! Thanks Jasper! now Sue and I are both law abiding citizens so off I go to pay the fine but before I go in to pay I read the citation and the officer has the bike down as originating in Alaska, nothing about the UK, GB or anything.......Right Sue, get your gear on we're going on the run from the law. It's official we are now fugitives in Canada, they'll probably put out an APB for us (they say that on cop shows) "Well come and get us coppers you won't take us alive"!!!

The Icefields Parkway lives up to its reputation as a stunning ride, we did the usual sightseeing spots along the way......

Athabaska Falls

The black bears were out in force on the way down, this fella caused the usual traffic hold up commonly referred to as a bear jam!

That's a good idea Mister, take the kid out of the car to show him the bear, but make sure you put him on your shoulders so if the bear turns nasty he'll just claw your balls off!

We never get tired of views like these.

We did stop at the Athabaska Glacier but it was infested with Chinese and Japanese tourists crawling all over it, they even have tour buses that drive onto it, Oh and it's dirty as well, so it didn't warrant a photo, but you can Google it if you want to know about it.

Local Flora

Such fragile beauty...blah blah blah

Looking down the Sunwapta Pass

This old bird was sat on the roadside barrier squawking at tourists

Another shot of Sue
(see how switching photos can get you into trouble)

Sue explaining to a group of Japanese tourists how we have travelled all the way from Araska!

More native wildlife ( I think you can get these in a sandwich)

This is Bow Lake which is a few miles back from Lake Louise, untouched and far more natural in our opinion.

Isn't she pretty!

Lake Louise was another disappointment for us, it was so congested with traffic we had difficulty finding somewhere to park even with a bike. The whole area is geared to tourists and of course we simply added to the numbers but we had to see what all the fuss was about.

Looks tranquil and picturesque until you step back from the waters edge.

Bloody Tourists!

The run down from Banff to Calgary was like riding in a wind tunnel and it was strange to have so much traffic around, we got into the city on Saturday night and would have to wait until Monday to sort the visors out.
Sunday was a free day for us and it was also the final day of the Calgary Stampede, billed as the greatest outdoor show in the world! we drove into town and managed to get tickets for the evening show consisting of the final heats of the chuckwagon races and the Grandstand Finale........YEEHAAW!!

Ain't she purdy

Cowboy lucky dip! there's a winning ticket in here somewhere
The Canadian version of the Village People had too many cowboys and indians

Fortunately we got in early enough to stand next to the track
They're off!

The final show was very over the top but still good fun, the guys in the moto-x display had some nerve jumping into the dark!

Final firework show.

Monday morning I was off to the BMW dealer bright and early in the hope of getting replacement visors, unfortunately they had none in stock and weren't prepared to take one off a new helmet to help us out.....but they did suggest that Pacific BMW in Vancouver might be able to help, they rang them to check and the guy in Vancouver said send them across and we'll see what we can do.
OK it's only 1000 kilometers and I fancy a bit of whale watching, lets get some fuel and head west............

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dawson City, Yukon to Stewart, BC

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The trip from Dawson to Stewart is approximately 1000 miles and it would have been easier to drive straight down the Alaska Highway and we could have been in the Canadian rockies in four days, but I had planned to ride the Stewart Cassier Highway as part of our trip and that involved a detour west.

Five finger rapids, probably the best known feature on the Yukon River

BOB cleaned up and sporting a new back tyre

This is a neat way to create a bridge surface that doesn't freeze up in winter, it just scares the crap out of you when you ride across with knobby tyres!

Sue reckons this is more fun than gravel!

We stayed overnight at the Midnight Sun B&B in Whitehorse, capitol of the Yukon. The owner is originally from Iran and we had a good chat about the old days when I spent some time working there, plus we got a discount rate. Whitehorse was only a transit stop, so as soon as we'd had breakfast the following morning we were off again.

The run from Whitehorse to our overnight stop at Dease Lake was just over 400miles which is the farthest we have ridden in a day, it's not our intention to do big miles on this trip but sometimes the road conditions allow you to do that kind of mileage without stressing out. The run down the Alaska Highway to the junction with the Stewart Cassier was straight road all the way but we did a detour to visit the signpost forest at Watson Lake before hitting the gravel again (not literally).

The forest was started in 1942 by a homesick Army G.I. while working on the Alaska Highway, he erected a sign here pointing the way home and stating the mileage to his hometown. Others followed his lead and are still doing so to this day, at the last count there were around 60,000 signs covering an area over two acres. The largest is a 6 foot by 10 foot German Autobahn sign!!

If Sue didn't find the sign for the ladies toilet soon, we were in trouble!

Good Hope lake

Mountain sheep

Black bears were a common sight at the side of the road, Sue by this time had got over the fear of them lying in wait ready to poke a stick through the spokes of the front wheel. On the odd occassion we would see one first, if not it was a case of pulling up behind the queue of tourists in RV's taking snaps.

The ride is more enjoyable when the scenery is like this all the time

These two had been shadowing us all day!

Bear Glacier on the road in to Stewart, British Columbia

Our hotel in Stewart (unknown star rating)

We had decided to take a break in Stewart to rest and catch up with essentials (laundry, blog, etc.), unfortunately, as with most of these small towns finding somewhere with good internet access is a problem. We took a run into Hyder (the friendliest ghost town in Alaska) which is the southernmost town in Alaska, it's so remote from the rest of the State it has no US police presence, it's almost as though the place has been abandoned.

Entering Hyder, Alaska

As there is no police force there is also no border post from Canada leaving Stewart, however, on the way back you have the regular Customs complete with Canadian officials.

Canadian Border control

We ate out at the Sealaska Inn that evening and the staff recommended we visit Salmon Glacier, which is the fifth largest glacier in North America. The ride up to the top of the access road is roughly 20 miles of sheer dropoffs and hairpins...oh and gravel, turning to Sue I said "how bad can it be, we're getting quite good on the rough stuff now. it would be a shame to come this close and not see it"

OK... so this may not have been such a good idea!!!

The occassional rockslide

If the side stand failed, I always carry a small woman to prop up the bike!

This is the safe side going up

First views of the glacier

It's that woman in the helmet again!

Click on the video below to take a ride with us up to the Salmon Glacier (patience is required when loading)

These photos can't do the scenery justice

What a guy!

Fragile beauty surviving in a harsh environment

More fragile beauty surviving in a harsh environment