16 days from Oregon to Hyder, Alaska, the Yukon & the Alaska Highway
  August 2015
3700 miles / 5954 kilometres
 
For our annual two-week motorcycle trip in 2015, Stefan suggested Alaska, initially proposing we go all the way to Fairbanks. It would have meant almost 400 miles of riding a day, and no stopping ever to see anything along the way. It's just not the way I travel.

I suggested a much more pared down trip, to Skagway & Haines, Alaska and back - I thought Skagway was the lowest, nearest city in Alaska we could reach by road. But I was wrong (again!): the city with that honor is Hyder, Alaska, which is about 500 miles South of Skagway, on the Alaska peninsula. In fact, it's the only city on the Alaska peninsula you can drive to - everything else is reachable only by ferry (or another town on the sound). Hyder is a very popular motorcycle travel destination.

Our Route We decided we'd go to Hyder, and then as high up on the map as we could, as near to Skagway as time and weather would allow - maybe all the way there - up the Cassiar Highway. Then we would come back down the Alaska Highway and, from there, our route would be determined by travel and weather.

We found out from a brochure during the trip that our route actually has an official name: the Great Northern. We were also stunned to find we weren't the only motorcycle travelers headed that way, though we never met any at our camp sites - just saw them on the road. I thought we would be the last ones of the year. I was wrong by at least a dozen other motorcyclists.

I sent off for free Alaska travel information, and it's all wonderful - but what I should have sent off for was travel information for British Columbia! Why didn't it occur to me that that's where we would be spending the vast majority of our time? I've no idea.

I was nervous about this trip. I'm nervous about every trip, including just bus rides to Hillsboro (not even kidding), but this time, I was nervous in a new and scary way. Something happened after our trip in Utah, I'm not sure what, but I lost most of my confidence on the motorcycle. Maybe it was PTSD - I've had that before, and it felt similar, though it manifested very differently. So, at least twice a week, we went to a nearby school parking lot and worked on riding basics, especially sharp turns and stopping. I watched and re-watched videos by Captain Cash. I looked at maps of roads I've ridden before, at their altitude and curves, and tried to remember what it was like to ride them. And I played a lot of Tetris.

In case you don't want to read the entire travelogue, but want the highlights, here they are:

Here are all the photos.

Our entire route:
We went from the Portland, Oregon area to Stewart, BC/Hyder, Alaska, up the Stewart-Cassiar Highway to the Yukon, then down the Alaska Highway to Dawson Creek, then over and down through Jasper, across Canada's Yoho National Park, Glacier National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park, down British Columbia Highways 23 and 6 along Slocan Lake, down through Castlegar and Trail, over to Rossland, back over the border into the USA, and across Washington state to home. In 16 days, starting in late August and lasting through the first week of September 2015. 3700 miles / 5954 kilometres. We could have gone to Skagway and Haines instead of Jasper and Banff in the same amount of time, but we didn't, because of weather.

My favorite things from the trip:
Live wildlife seen:
I don't normally talk about the dead animals we saw, but I have to note that, at one point on this trip, I saw a dead porcupine. I've never seen a porcupine in the wild, alive or dead. The thing was HUGE - it looked like a bush growing on the side of the road. Wow.

I tweeted during our trip from @jayne_a_broad. But as usual, I did not blog from the trip, or post many pictures during the trip. I really like to be fully present on trips, to be looking at what I'm seeing and thinking about it. I took notes in a notebook - one with paper, not one with a glowing screen - and tried to make notes every day, as we sat after supper in the evenings or breakfast in the mornings. We have both upgraded to smart phones, and I was surprised at how well my $80 LG smart phone from Tracfone did. I couldn't get regular phone service, but I could use Internet access to make calls on Skype and check text messages and voice mails via GoogleVoice, two things that were important to do a few times on the trip. The phones were also essential for weather info.  

SOMETHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT

We had planned on this trip to take our Celestron SkyScout Hand-Held Planetarium. It's about the size of a children's shoe box, and though that's quite a bit of room to take up on a motorcycle trip, we had loved taking it on our trip through Nevada in 2014 and using it to tell us what stars we were seeing, as well as using it a few times in our back yard in 2012 & 13. But when we tested it, it couldn't find any satellites. We looked online, and imagine our astonishment: the software on the SkyScout expired in 2015, and SkyScout did NOT tell customers this. Celestron is NOT updating the software, yet, Celstron is still selling this completely useless device on Amazon! Shame on Celestron. They should be investigated by law enforcement agencies for this, no question. We will never, ever buy anything from this company because of this shameful, deceitful business practice.

And here's the travelogue:

PRE-DEPARTURE DAY (Friday)

I started the day by walking Lucy and our neighbor's dog, Violet (neighbors were in Mexico). Then I had a job interview - the first face-to-face, onsite job interview I've had since 1995, I kid you not (and the first job interview of any kind that I've had since 2009). Then, that afternoon, we drove Lucy to the Indigo Dog Ranch in Vernonia, Oregon for a two-week stay. I cried as we left (the dog caretaker cried because I cried). We decided on not doing the dog sitter thing because Lucy LOVES to be around other dogs. She was in at least two shelters and at least one home with many other dogs before us - being around other dogs is all she knew before us, and what she loves most (which is why we need another dog, but I digress...). The kennel has a great reputation, and, spoiler alert, she was fine and had a great time. Then I was totally stressed about Gray Max the cat, because he decided to do something he rarely does: puke. Twice, in fact. I hired my neighbor, a resident of the home for adults with mental disabilities two doors down, to take care of him and my house plants, which I had moved on the back porch while we were gone. Spoiler alert: dog, cat, and plants, were all fine while we were gone.

We had worked hard all week to be ready to go early on Saturday, making sure laundry was done, the bikes were ready, food was bought, etc. We always say we're going to leave early, and then don't leave until noon. We were both determined for that NOT to happen this time. By Friday, you just start letting go of all the things you most certainly are NOT going to get done and will have to wait until your return. It's never easy.

That night, and all the next morning, I kept listening for Lucy... I hate my house without her.

DAY ONE (Saturday)

We got up just before 8 a.m. and, because of all our preparation all week, were ready to go at 9 a.m.! However, we couldn't leave, because we had to wait for our yellow insurance cards from Progressive, something that Canada supposedly requires. Neither of us had remembered this requirement until the Monday before our trip, and when I called Progressive, the rep I spoke with said they would have to send them via snail  mail, rather than as an email attachment like last time - no idea why. She said it would arrive in 3 - 5 days. Had it not arrived on that Saturday, our trip would have been delayed until MONDAY - or chanced it and hoped they didn't ask for them. The mail arrived before 10, and there they were! Spoiler alert: we never got asked by anyone to see these damn cards, just like last time we went to Canada.

I know, I've said spoiler alert three times already.

It was incredibly smokey as we prepared to leave. The postman asked if there was a close fire causing the smokey conditions. But the smoke was from distant fires all over Oregon and Washington state. We got gas - it was 10:30 a.m. - and we road through Portland and up into Washington state, all by interstate, and if I do say so myself, I was just fine. In fact, I felt amazing. All that work in the school parking lot, all that video watching, all that Tetris... it paid off! Also, getting a really good, long night's sleep the night before helped tremendously.

We road more than xxx miles that first day, trying to make it across the Canada border for our first night out. But it was not to be: my bike developed a wobble, and Stefan had to do roadside repairs to fix it. Then we hit traffic in Tacoma and Seattle - we crawled through those areas, and that is oh-so-hard to do on a motorcycle. Altogether, we lost three hours, at least - we could have gone at least another 100 miles had it not been for all that.

A highlight of the day's ride, however, was stopping for an early lunch before all that mess at C&L Burgers & Espresso, in Castle Rock, at the exit off I-5 for Mt. St. Helen's. The buffalo burger was YUMSTERS! It was also interesting to ride through Joint Base Lewis-McChord - I had no idea it was so huge! A a rest stop, we met a BMW rider who had just lead a group of motorcycle tourists on some of our favorite local roads, including through Timber, Oregon. Neat lady, wish I'd gotten her card. We told her about the Nestucca River Loop, which we think is one of the best rides in our immediate area.

From I-5, we took the Smokey Point exit in upstate Washington and headed to where Stefan's map said there was a camp site. It turned out to be a county park campsite, and it looked great - but it was full. There was a gathering of people that have tiny vintage camping trailers there. Oh, to have had just ONE open spot, so I could have spent the evening begging people to let me see inside their vintage trailers, which were all adorable. Instead, we camped at Lake Ki RV Resort, which has a really lovely area just for tent campers, surrounded by trees. It would have been perfect - the other tent campers being so nice and quiet, the oh-so-many bats we could see flying over our heads at sunset, the mild weather - but, unfortunately, there was a big family, or some families all camping together, in the RV camping area next to the trees that decided it was a great night to PARTY! WOOT! Because the noise stops right at the edge of your camp site and doesn't keep every other family up all night, right? I was furious - not only at the family, but at the camp management for never saying a word to the White Trash camping family, and for no other camper stepping up and saying, "Hi, we can't sleep because you're being so loud." That person cannot ALWAYS be me, people! But I was so tired, and Stefan had extra, and new, ear plugs (I'd forgotten mine), and I decided someone else was going to have to be the grownup that night - I was tired of being that person, and instead, I was sleeping, if I could. And I did, though they still woke me up a few times - they partied past 1 a.m.

It was wonderful to finally be sleeping in a tent again! It was so warm, we didn't bother to put the rain fly on. Didn't the second night either.

Third night out We have a whole ritual for setting up and taking down our camp site that took a while to work out, but it works REALLY well - we're very efficient: Stefan picks the spot for the tent and then unloads the tent. We either put it up together or I put it up while he rides to the nearest city for beer and ice. I then set up the inside of the tent, putting the sleeping bags and our luggage to one side and unrolling the Therm-a-RestsŪ (air mattresses) and opening their airways so they can self-inflate (and they really do, sometimes 50%). Whomever is available pulls out all the cookware if we're going to cook that night - something that, for the first time, we rarely did this trip; we just weren't that hungry at night, because we usually had some ridiculously huge lunch. In the morning, one of us starts boiling water with our beloved MSR camp stove (for coffee and my oatmeal), or I make scrambled eggs. After breakfast and my morning ritual of brushing my teeth and washing my face (no, I don't shower every day on the road - and when I do, I do it at night), I pack up the inside of the tent and remove everything except the Therm-a-RestsŪ (that's always the last thing) while Stefan has bathroom time (TMI), then he deals with the air mattresses and the tent while I pack my things on the bike and what I can on his.

For this trip, we did something we've never done before: we hit the road almost every morning by 9:30 or earlier, without ever rushing in the mornings, without just getting up, eating and going. I attribute that for our perfect camp pack-up system.

The photo here is from the third night out, with the rain fly on our trusty Aldi tent. Oh how we love that tent.

DAY TWO (Sunday)

We were up at 6:45 a.m., with no alarm. It was SO QUIET - because White Trash family was all asleep, having partied past 1 a.m. How I wanted to ride my motorcycle through their camp site... several times... We were packed up and on I-5 by 10:15 a.m., and it was still SO SMOKEY. It was depressing. We got off I 5 and somehow ended up on state road 9, going through Nooksack (there's a name for ya!) to Sumas, for our border crossing.

In line to cross the border into Canada in Sumas At our border crossing in 2010, there was hardly anyone in line to cross - we drove right up behind maybe two cars, got processed in no time, and moved on. Here in Sumas, there was MUCH more traffic. And you aren't supposed to idle, so we'd try to push our bikes in neutral when it was time to move up - and if I did that every day, my thighs would be AMAZING. At the border check, they processed us at the same time - which surprised us both. They asked a LOT of questions - not only where we planned on going, but how we met! I fully expected them to inspect our panniers, per their tone - there were THREE guys checking us out at one point. But, eventually, they let us go.

I had wanted to stop at a welcome center, if there was one, to load up on brochures for British Columbia, but we never saw one. We went on to Canada Highway 1, stopping at a rest stop near Hope, where I read about how, back in the previous century, local miners imported 23 camels to haul packs on the wilderness trail - and how the camels feet weren't at all appropriate for the area and they all died (and the information board theorizes that the camels are the origin of the Sasquatch/Big Foot legends). Oh, the crazy things you read on those rest stop information boards...

Eventually, we were riding through Fraser Canyon, including Hells Gate, and seeing a LOT of other motorcycle adventure travelers, including a lot of women! And I would love to be able to tell you that riding through the canyon was wonderful. But it wasn't. The smoke was so thick, we could barely see anything of the canyon down below or off to the sides. I felt like I was in Mad Max Fury Road at times.

The highlight of the day was eating at xxnamecomingsoonxx in Boston Bar - great food, VERY friendly service, and great music playing in the background (Loretta Lynn!). A guy from Serbia, now living in Vancouver, was oh-so-excited to talk to Stefan about his Africa Twin - only Europeans know what it is, for the most part. He rode off not-at-all ATGATT on his own motorcycle. Seeing someone riding a motorcycle in loafers is scary.

We made it to Cache Creek for the evening. I have to give a huge shout out to to Canada's Best Value Inn in Cache Creek, right next to the RBC Royal Bank. We really wanted to camp that night, but first, I desperately needed Internet access, for reasons too lengthy to go into here. So I pulled into the hotel's parking lot and hoped I could convince the person to give me a camp site recommendation and brief access to the hotel's network. She volunteered it ALL happily, with no hesitation - I had a whole speech and sad face prepared I didn't get to use. I cannot tell you how many times we've stopped at a hotel to ask for information about the local area and the staff has shrugged and frowned and claimed they don't know. If I had said, "Oh, and could you come out here and help me change the oil on my bike?" this lady probably would have said, "Sure!"

We camped at Brookside Campground, and upon entering the office, there was a woman wearing a brand new Horizons Unlimited t-shirt. I tried to talk to her TWICE, at that moment and later when I ran into her outside the bathroom, and both times, she was abrupt in her replies or just completely ignored me and walked away with great purpose. The second time, I almost, ALMOST, said, "Hey, wait a minute, you clearly heard me say good morning, you just blew right past me, what in the HELL is your problem?!?" But I didn't. It represents how we feel about so many in the Horizons Unlimited community - they just aren't very friendly. They judge you and, if you aren't worthy, they won't talk to you. Stefan and I should start our own community. The we don't care what kind of motorcycle you ride or how many stamps your passport has isn't it great that traveling is so much fun, and can I get you a beer? club.

When I'd paid for lunch with my credit card earlier, it took two tries to get it to work, and when we checked in at the camp site and I tried to pay, the card wouldn't work at all. It turned out to have a big bend in the magnetic tape section. Luckily, I had another VISA as well... you cannot travel with just one credit card! Something always goes wrong!

The camp site owner told us there were two young black bears that liked to eat berries on the other side of the creek - the one we would be camping next to - but not to worry, they stayed on that side. We never saw them. Which I'm kinda glad. We unloaded, and once again didn't feel like supper. We drank beer, I wrote in my journal, we played on our smart phones with the limited Internet access, we chatted with other campers, and we enjoyed a second nights of bats dancing over our heads at sunset. I read one of the New Yorker Magazines I'd brought, and tried to explain a Jack Handy article to Stefan that had me crying with laughter - turns out, Jack Handy humor doesn't translate.

Stefan wondered if we should even continue on this trip, and I wondered the same; we were so tired of seeing brown skies and the faint outline of scenery in the distance through the smokey haze. Visibility was good for driving, but not for enjoying the scenery at all.

I saw a white kitty playing around near the creek. The next day, I saw it inside one of the monster RVs parked nearby - yes, people do bring their cats on vacation with them, and often, the cats will stay quite near the camper. Amazing. A guy next to had his SUV set up so he could sleep in the back, and it brought back memories of when I would camp with Buster and Wiley, by myself, before I bought a tent. Good memories. I was thrilled that everyone in the camp site respected the quiet hours! You find that the farther away you get from big cities, IMO - the other campers are also out for weeks or months, not just a night or two.

That night, I got some very bad news via Facebook regarding a woman that was in the theatre program when I was at Western Kentucky University. She'd killed herself, after suffering several mental breakdowns and some scary delusions. She is, in my memory, one of the most gorgeous women I've ever seen. I thought about how it's no wonder people used to think mental illness was demon possession. It was heart-breaking to read so many friends writing about what an impression she'd made on them back in the day.

DAY THREE (Monday)

The next day, we were thrilled to wake up to CLEAR SKIES. I had another headache - second one of the trip - but three Advil took care of that quickly. Stefan got to hear something he heard almost every day of the trip: me saying, "I wonder what Lucy is doing?" Because I did wonder, all the time. Oh, I was missing her so.

We packed up and headed back to downtown, first to go to the bank (time for some Canadian money!) and then, we turned onto 97 North, the Cariboo Highway. At last, we were seeing beautiful scenery and clear skies! And, at last, things were feeling truly remote, like we were very far from home and in a landscape not packed with people - like we were in wilderness. It was the first day I felt like we were on a motorcycle trip that I wanted to be in. I think it was the first day Stefan felt like he was on vacation as well - but it always takes him a couple of days to feel that way, smoke or not. The day was an answer to our earlier question, and the answer was yes, you should continue on this trip.

We were seeing a lot of motorcycle travelers - all coming the opposite direction that we were going. Was everyone leaving just as we were starting out?! I was thrilled to see so many women motorcyclists - this was something that I saw throughout the trip, actually. At least a quarter of the travel riders we saw were women!

We stopped at Mile 70, a tiny town with a convenience store, and overheard a very unhappy Harley Davidson rider at the gas pump; he didn't like the gas that was available. Whatever. I wanted turkey jerky, but there was none to be had. And that's how it was for the rest of the trip - except for one place, where it was three times the price of what I pay for it in Oregon - so I didn't buy it. Later, we stopped in a gas station parking lot for Frappicinos and a couple walked up to ask us about our trip. They had done the same trip years before, both on motorcycles, and LOVED it. They gushed on and on. They were in a camper van this time, to take their senior dog on his last trip ever - health problems would probably mean he would have to be put down later this year. I love that couple for doing a trip FOR THEIR DOG. A thousand blessings on both of them. Yes, I got to meet the dog. What a freaking cutie - golden retriever mix.

After lots of gorgeous riding and scenery, we ended up in Williams Lake, where we stopped for gas, and then lunch at a sushi place that used to be a pizza hut. It was NOT as good as our place here in Forest Grove, Oregon! The town was kinda awful - unregulated growth. We looked out on what should have been a gorgeous view over the lake and, instead, saw lots of housing developments and a mega huge Wal-Mart. It all looked out of place. The town is also tricky for motorcycle riding - lots of steep hills. Inclines make me nervous if I have to turn or stop on them, whether going up or down. But I made it out of town just fine.

Later, we got to the big city of Prince George, and we almost lost each other because I didn't see a tiny sign to make the left turn onto rans Canada Highway #16. Luckily, Stefan is a better rider than me, and was able to pull around and in front of me, which always means, "We're going to pull over/turn around." A lucky break in the sea of traffic right in that moment allowed us to make a u-turn in a handy parking and get back the direction we needed to go. We were now on the Trans Canada Highway, also known as Yellowhead Highway 16, heading West.

We road 340 miles this day. 860 total. In three days, we were averaging 286 miles a day. At this point, we easily could have been at 1000 miles done had it not been for the horrible Tacoma/Seattle traffic. I had a feeling that delay had cost us the trip all the way to Skagway and Haines...

DAY FOUR (Tuesday)

Somewhere on Canada 16 The landscape was becoming truly beautiful. The day wasn't sunny, and in fact, there was often a very high cloud cover, but everything under it was clear, and we could see mountains, forests and lakes all around us, we could see far into the distances at long last. It was exactly the beauty and wilderness what we'd come for.

I was also feeling really good about my riding, especially my turning and my stopping. I wasn't getting nervous doing either. I still could feel my heart rate go up a notch when I was going to have to navigate a hill and it was going to involve me having to possibly make a sharp turn or stop on that hill. But I felt back-to-normal, as far as riding a motorcycle goes. And it was a great feeling.

We decided we would camp in Vanderhoof. It took us several tries to find a camp site, driving back and forth through town - and even a bit out of town. The first camp site we found was a Canadian provincial park. As usual, the camp sites for tents were all gravel. In fact, the whole camping area was gravel. Wanting to keep our tent floor from shredding, we went back the way we came into town and followed a sign Stefan had seen earlier, ending up at Dave's RV Park. We were checked in by Dave himself. Other than the bees that swarmed our bikes at check in, it was a dandy camp site. We had pitched our tent next to a camper that was smaller than the others at the site - which means, of course, there were Europeans in it. This time: they were Bavarians. They spend six months a year in the USA touring around. We gave them advice about visiting Garnet Ghost town in Montana.

Dave's RV Park is awesome for tent campers because it has a BIG common room outside the bathrooms and showers, meaning you can eat your meals or play games there when it's raining. The room also had a photo of a cougar taken nearby... which meant I was terrified when I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I'm not too worried about bears - but I'm worried about cougars.

DAY FIVE (Wednesday)

Jayne being silly again We decided to finish off the eggs we were schlepping around. Why do scrambled eggs taste so amazing when you are camping? I don't know. It had rained in the night, and it was threatening to again that day, but we chanced it by cooking and giving the rain fly time to completely dry out. And it paid off - it sprinkled once, but that's it. And despite the cooking we were still ready to go at 9:30 a.m. Driving out of town, I noticed that all the hotels now had "no vacancy" signs - none of those had been lit the previous evening.

The ride just kept getting more beautiful. We were in full motorcycle travel adventure vacation mode. It felt GREAT. We stopped after about an hour at a coffee place run on First Nation land. Everyone working there was a tribal member. One staff member walked out of the station, wearing a t-shirt for the gas station, and my jaw dropped: on the back was a caricature of an Indian brave, running with a gas pump nozzle. And I thought, wow, if a gas company had come up with that exact same image for the company, there would be outrage over the depiction of a native person.

Another guy came out with a coffee, and road away on his dirt bike, coffee in hand. I'm in awe of that guy.

We didn't see motorcycles for a while, and I got nervous. Very nervous. Did everyone know what we didn't, that it was WAY too late to be riding up to Yukon, even Alaska? Were we the only motorcycles out there? The reality is that most motorcyclists heading North are going on the Alaska Highway, not the route we were going.

Somewhere after Vanderhoof and the tribal gas station - I'm not sure how soon after - I pulled over into a large dirt parking lot, because I could see waterfalls in a gorge to my right. We were still on tribal land, and below the falls / rapids, tribal members were fishing. There was a museum atop a hill across the river, and on the other side of the highway, there was the tiny town, with a church and what is probably a community hall, as well the skeleton of a teepee. I wish I had captured something in the photo to say where this was - but I just don't know where. I snapped all those photos because I felt like we weren't taking enough photos, that we weren't stopping and enjoying where we were - we were riding riding riding. And I want to do more than just endless riding.

Just before the turnout for this tribal fishing spot was a sign that I didn't get a photo of, but that I saw a few times on our trip, with photos of two or three girls and a warning about hitch hiking. It turns out this is reference to the Highway of Tears murders (the man responsible for many of these murders is dead, but not everyone that has been killed was killed by him). How depressing... and creepy. Glad I didn't know about this at the time.

I wish we had had time to pull over and get a photo of the stop signs in the area that were in two languages - English and the local tribal language. But there were no brown signs. Brown signs, with white lettering, mean historic sites, public parks, etc. - sites that I think are worth stopping for. You see them in the USA, you see them in England... but we didn't see that many at all in Canada.

I do like how visible tribal lands are in British Columbia. We often saw simple, small signs welcoming us to this or that "first nation," and when you stop at a business on that land, it's staffed by local tribal members. I'd love to see more of that visibility and employment back in the USA.

We had lunch in Smithers, which was SO much like Jackson Hole and so, yes, we hated it. I saw a sign that said "downtown" that pointed off the main road through town, so I took it - I don't like always eating at what's on just-passing-through road. This time, our choice was a Chinese restaurant, which wasn't great, but the price was right for that much food. On the door was a sign that said, "Welcome to the cast & crew of The Last Ship." I do not watch that show... We gassed up before we left, and met a guy at the gas station on a BMW coming from Prince Rupert - he was from LA, and had been all over Alaska for a long while. He looked exhausted. He'd taken the ferry down from Haines, and he'd dropped his bike on the ferry and still felt humiliated about it. Dude - I feel like that ALL THE TIME just out of FEAR of dropping my bike... it was kind of nice to know that men motorcyclists can also feel not-up-to-standards.

turnoff from Canada 16 to state highway 37 We road on and on, and except for oh-so-chic Smithers, I felt like I was in the wilderness, and it was a nice feeling. We stopped at a gas station and restaurant where we were to turn off onto the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, also known as Dease Lake Highway. Either way, it's #37. This sign, at left, was in the parking lot, so of course, Stefan got a photo of our bikes in front of it. Why not a photo of us? I wasn't feeling very photogenic - my short hair cut was looking AWFUL when I took my helmet off - no curls, just straight straw, and like some kind of Dutch-boy-gone-wrong. The woman working in the gas station had relatives up in Meziadin Junction, and she assured us there was camping and a gas station there - we'd heard that there was NOTHING there, not even gas.

There were two women motorcyclists also in the parking lot, working on one of their motorcycles, a Honda 250, about the same year as my Nighthawk. The other was on a 400 Yamaha. I really admired them for being out on such bikes - it's why I had wanted to talk to them, actually. I always like seeing people doing adventure trips on something OTHER than a dual sport. They hadn't been to Hyder, and they weren't going - they'd been to some island and were now going home, and they didn't seem to want to talk at all about their trip, or to us. It was really weird. Are we creepy? With this haircut, yeah, I'm rather creepy.

There was a lot of road work as soon as we turned off for the road to Meziadin Junction, and the road was sometimes gravel, sometimes, dirt. We had to follow a "follow me" truck for several miles. Stefan says I did well. I sure felt well. I felt great, as a matter of fact. I was having fun riding my motorcycle, and had been having fun for quite a while now. And the ride was beautiful - my favorite of the trip so far. We went all the way to Meziadin Junction, got gas, and asked questions about camping, and watched motorcyclists come down the Cassiar Highway, bypassing the road to Stewart and heading immediately back the way we came.

We ended up staying at Lake Meziadin Provincial Park, our first provincial park ever. We have avoided them because, as I said earlier, the parks' camp sites - and often, the entire site - are usually covered in sharp, thick gravel. This one wasn't; this time, the camp sites had small river rocks, not sharp at all. And, well, the views were stunning. The camp hosts were super, duper nice, and after we registered and paid, they told us to be on the lookout: there was a grizzly bear showing up sometimes at sunset and sunrise, just eating berries, not bothering campers. But, no, they didn't have bear boxes for us to put our stuff in. Um... okay. They did offer us the day use shelter for camping, for fear we'd be rained on, and that was SO NICE. No one has ever done that before.

Once again, no cooking for supper. We'd had a big lunch and just weren't that hungry. We just drank bear, ate snacks, enjoyed the wonderful sunset, and wondered about getting Hydar the next day. Weather reports for the area were good for the next day, but ONLY for that day, so we were anxious to get there and make the most out of what might be the only dry day we would have. That night was a bit cold, but still not enough to get out my Cocoon sack.

And no grizzlies came in the night...

continued in part 2.

Here are all the photos from this trip.

Also see: Return to the broads abroad home page

 
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