No riding at all today. Stayed holed up in the hotel room and worked all day. FYI, the Service Plus Inns and Suites in Grande Prairie have awesome wifi! Got all kinds of things done that I wasn't able to get done in other places. Feels good to have made some progress and I'm ready to head out again tomorrow!
A DAY TO GO A-WANDERING
Just when I think I haven’t got much to tell you, I ramble on insufferably! Here goes….
Alexander McKenzie is the big cheese in history around the Peace River parts. He was a Scottish explorer and the first European to cross North America from east to west. His Peace River expedition was successful in finding the passage to the Pacific Ocean in 1793.
I got away from Hudson’s Hope in good time, then blew it by turning left instead of right from the hotel and taking the wrong road out of town. That’s a special talent of mine that you may not have been aware of.
I did suspect I was on the wrong road when I didn’t see distance signs for Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge, but it was a sweet road with lovely curves and I followed it for a bit. The road I was on ended at the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. The security guards said since I was there, they would let me through to the visitor’s centre to take some pictures and told me that people come from all over the world to see it. So I obligingly rode in and took a couple of photos, although given my frame of mind from the previous day, my attitude was “meh, whatever”, and it didn’t break my heart that the visitor centre wasn’t open yet. In a more objective frame of mind, it is a marvel of engineering and probably could inspire awe and I'm sure the new one that wipes out the Peace River valley will be just as pretty (insert sarcasm here).
Getting pointed in the right direction, I continued on to Chetwynd. On the way out of Hudson's Hope, there is a really neat bridge and a sort of concrete "totem" telling the story of the significant historical events of the community in pictorial form. I thought it was a really neat way to encapsulate their history.
Chetwynd is obviously a lumber town. Acres of stockpiled trees and planks and boards. They have amazing carved statues all over the place! Some are fanciful, some are of nature, some are of people. The detail is incredible and a person could spend a day wandering all over and take a million pictures. I didn't, though, so I guess you will have to visit Chetwynd yourself.
I decided to stop at the Tim’s and have a coffee and a sandwich to bolster the protein bar I had scarfed down for breakfast. Met Kim there and we had a great talk about riding and travelling in Canada. She and her husband Rick have been riding to and fro all over the place for 25 years. They were travelling by “cage” to the Okanagan this time. Rick showed up some time later and we all got back on the road.
Onwards to Tumbler Ridge! I didn’t get too distracted by scenery today as it was much the same most of the way. Heavily forested mountains gave way to a more pastoral setting of cattle country and fields against that backdrop of forested mountains. I did make one detour, as a cube truck ahead of me was making sure I couldn’t pass. So, instead of getting annoyed, I turned off at Gwillim Lake Provincial Park and was so happy I did. It’s a beautiful lake and I toured around the little park, finding a bridge over a creek and a nice boat launch area that went down to the beach.
Interestingly, when I got back on the road and stopped at a gas station for water, there was Mr. Cube Van. I’m guessing he was about my age and had another, older guy with him. Mr. Cube Van says to me “Guess you gave up trying to get by me. Wasn’t going to let some chick on a bike pass me”. LOL Obviously the lake visit did me some good. I responded, without a trace of rancour: “Hey, man, if you need to be King of Tumbler Road, I don’t need to be on it with you. Besides, there are many more attractive sights than your rear end…” (double entendre completely intentional). Well, I thought his buddy was going to pee himself laughing. Then the older guys says to him, “It’s no damn wonder you’re still single. You still haven’t figured out how to treat ‘em”. I don’t think Mr. Cube Van will be hearing the end of that one for awhile. 😊
Stopping at the Tumbler Ridge Visitor Centre is worthwhile. They have a ton of information there. And if nothing else, do it for the "Do not Flush....." sign in the bathroom! I had to go get my phone so I could include a photo.
One of the pieces of information was that the Dinosaur Discovery Centre is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays! Should have checked, but it just never occurred to me. However, the dinosaur trackways that were discovered there are never closed because they are by the river. The friendly lady there told me how to find them and off I went. It’s about a 3 km hike round trip and a slightly challenging up and down trail that gets your heart pumping. There’s some great opportunities to mis-step and pitch yourself off the edge of a hill. Seeing the signs about bears, I went back to the bike and dug out my dinner..…I mean, “bear” bell and threw it on my shoe. I guess it worked because I didn’t see any bears. I would stay away too – it’s pretty annoying.
The day being about 33C at that point, I was darn hot by the time I got to the river. Found the first set of prints no problem. The original discovery was a little harder as they are on the other side of the river. Despite shedding my shoes and blissfully stepping into the cool water, I couldn’t see a great way across. I could see some prints, but nothing that would show well in a photo. I did see a very clear homosapien print though and have included a photo of that from today’s collection. Though I had passed a few people heading back up the trail, I was the only one there, so I stripped off my shirt and soaked it in the river. Dunked my head in it too and the hike back out was cool and comfortable. By the time I was back at the bike, my hair was bone dry and my shirt barely damp!
The day wearing late by now, so I headed for Dawson Creek. My planned route turned out to have about 50 kms of gravel, so I chose the easy road. Stopped for food at Dawson Creek and finished up at Grande Prairie for the night. Bit of planning to do and decisions to make for the next few days and then off to dreamland!
BEAUTY AND ANGER
It was a very late start today due to some noisy neighbours arriving in the wee hours and carrying on in spite of my entreaties for quiet. But get away I did, with the goal of at least reaching Fort St. John and perhaps Tumbler Ridge.
The landscape changes I had begun to see yesterday became more noticeable, giving way to dense forest with lots of scrub bush and marshy creek areas. As I made note of the dense trees, I couldn’t help but think that I was glad I wasn’t the poor bugger who had to survey that!
I wasn’t far along the road when I saw a sign that said Bottom Pit #8. That wouldn’t have induced me to look twice, but I looked once and it was actually a lovely, serene little lake, stocked with fish! It was definitely photo-worthy, so I pulled into the approach and took some. I would apologize for posting MORE pictures of water and rivers and flowers, but, as I often say “Sorry implies an intention to change your behaviour. So if you’re not going to change your behaviour, don’t say sorry.” Since I am not very sorry anyway and have no intention of changing my behaviour, you are stuck with more photos of rivers and lakes and flowers.
A departure from the pretty stuff was my view of the devastation of the wildfires that covered British Columbia last year. Up until today, I had glimpses of it here and there, but along Hwy 97 north, there are stretches of black stick trees as far as the eye can see. There was also a lot of cutting and mowing activity all along the highway, which I can only assume is an attempt to create a fire break.
The day was hot – in the low 30s – and I was grateful for my mesh gear. Shout out to my buddy Blair who suggested a coolit vest to me. Having soaked this in water the day before, I put the wet vest on under my mesh jacket and had quite a comfortable ride. I stopped often for water breaks though. You know it’s darn hot when you have consumed 2 bottles of water and a Gatorade in a couple of hours and haven’t had to stop for a pee!
At one of my rest stops, I met a couple who had been on the road for a long time exploring North America with their two pre-teen kids. They were headed to Alaska and I was able to share some highlights they would find along the way. As I was finishing up my water, a little blue car pulled in and a lady got out with her dog. Cathy is from Victoria and was also headed for Alaska, hoping to visit the Aleutian Islands. Kindred spirits from the start, we laughed and chatted for a good long while. I could see having lots of good conversations over tea. If you aspire to be adventurous, lively and fun, Cathy is your role model (she is on my bike in one of the photos below).
There was cell service where I stopped for gas at Buckinghorse River, so I stopped for a late lunch and checked distances to determine what could be done today. I decided Chetwynd was very achievable and headed back out. Topping up with gas just before Fort St. John meant I could bypass it for Hwy 29 towards Chetwynd. Turning off, the mileage sign showed me Hudson Hope was 80 kms in (about half-way to Chetwynd). That sounded nice and alliterative, so I decided it would be my stop for the night. I also realized that I was going to be travelling mostly west and with the lowering sun, it would be a challenge to see those moose the signs were warning me about.
Stopping very briefly for water at the Pink Mountain gas station to grab yet another water, I encountered their ferocious guard cat you see in the pictures below. She was no match for my ear-scratching technique, though, and so I was permitted safe passage into the store.
Not very far along Hwy 29, I rounded a curve to see one of the most beautiful, heart-wrenching scenes I have laid eyes on in my life. I would like to say I was struck dumb, but a very loud “HOLY F**K!” was my actual response. I swiftly pulled over to take pictures that comes nowhere near to doing it justice. The same response was repeated as I rounded the next curve and realized I had only seen a small bit of it. I gazed in wonder and delight, riding slowly and soaking in the scene. Then I realized that this scene will not exist this time next year. The information brochure for the region said this was the valley that would be flooded by the Site C dam. I’ve heard about it on the news and listened to the rhetoric and rationale. But seeing the valley is a game-changer.
There have been 3 or 4 moments over the course of this trip that I have been moved to tears. One was the quiet story of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in people who were displaced and their lifestyle eventually obliterated by the Klondike gold rush. Even though they tried to move their tribe and protect their lifestyle and culture, wildlife and fish stocks were depleted and endangered by the boats travelling up the rivers and over-hunting by the newcomers. Another moment was when I saw the big sign on the trail to the hanging gardens at the Liard River hot springs that is used when there is a bear around. It said “DANGER. Area Closed. Problem bear in area. Do not enter.” The bear is the problem……not the people encroaching on its habitat.” The realization that this beautiful valley will be destroyed brought forth all of these moments into a whole. It was like a slap in the face and my eyes welled up at the thought of that loss.
Then came the anger. All of these things have one thing in common – the insatiable greed and arrogance of humanity. Our need for bigger, better, faster, richer. To consume, regardless of the consequences - use it up and move on to the next place where we can get what we want. And we’re never satisfied. It doesn’t matter if our phone is only a year old, there’s new technology so we must have the new one. We don’t fix things anymore, we buy a new one. We justify it by donating to the second-hand store when the latest model or new style comes out and energetically recycle our paper and plastics, feeling smug about our contribution to conservancy. But that doesn’t help, for we are still contributing to the energy required to produce more for us to consume. The answer is not to recycle more - it is to consume less. I felt ashamed of all the stuff I have and all of the things I don’t need. “Stuff” is not on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, yet our culture equates happiness with stuff. Do you know why history inexorably repeats itself? Because we never learn. Keep it up and we are headed for devolution (yes, that’s a word – I just made it up, for de-evolution). We will use up our planet moving on to the next resource to satisfy our need to consume and then wonder why we are living in caves rubbing sticks together for fire again.
Then again, it’s not our problem, right? It’s not going to happen in our lifetime, or even our great-grandchildren’s lifetime. We’ll be dead, so who cares. I will waste no time judging anyone else, but I, for one, felt properly chastised.
I don’t want to hold on to the anger and negativity, but I very much wish to hold on to the consciousness and the feeling that these experiences have left me with. Acknowledgement and change - that’s what all of this is about for me. Every time I think I need something, I want to recall that feeling. Every beautiful view I see on this trip, I’m going to soak it up, and then remind myself that it could be the next victim of our vortex of consumption. Then think twice before I buy something. So, y’all won’t be getting souvenirs unless they were acquired before today!
I’m not apologizing for the rant either, though you probably won’t get too many of them. 😊 As a consolation prize, I finally managed to upload a couple of short videos from the Liard River hot springs and a quick bit from my ride through Muncho Lake Provincial Park yesterday. The one with the path is not really much video – turn up your volume for the sounds.
BACK ON THE GRID IN NORTHERN BC
This is going to be a long one again – 2 days in one, as there was no service of any kind along the way as I rode from Watson Lake to Liard River Hot Springs.
What a lovely couple of days. Left Watson Lake in decent time on Sunday and travelled to Liard River Hot Springs. This had been suggested to me by a good friend and everyone I met along the way confirmed that it was not to be missed. The trip being about 3 hours, it would make for a short riding day with a treat at the end.
The ride was warm and sunny and for the first time since leaving home, I was able to shed a layer of gear! The road was excellent and the scenery beautiful. I stopped frequently to sight-see and ended up at a little gas station/motel/campground for an early lunch. Can’t remember what it was called, but the food was good and I almost wished I wasn’t riding so I could try one of their alcoholic milkshakes! 😊
On the road again, it wasn’t long before I had to pull over to take a photo of some rapids and soak up the beautiful day. Along the way, I saw a sign for “Smith River Falls – 2 km”. Being a sucker for a waterfall, I turned in. Dirt and gravel with huge potholes that were very difficult to miss soon had me wondering if I had lost my mind. There was no going back though, so I did my best not to bounce Fury through too many. Sometimes there was no choice. But at the end of the road……oh my, what a beautiful waterfall! Hung out for awhile, lulled by the sound of the water, before heading back. The bush was fragrant with the wild roses that grew everywhere and it was a very pleasant little detour.
On the way to Liard, I kept seeing signs to watch out for bears and buffalo and caribou. I saw 2 black bears on the way down, but had despaired of seeing anything else when I came around a curve and saw 3 bison up against the trees feasting on the vegetation. One was a gigantic bull and there were 2 females. Then, as I watched, out bounced a calf! As I approached the Liard Hot Springs Lodge, there was another big bull sunning himself by a big rock. He must be the resident celebrity, because he was there again later in the evening and this morning.
I arrived mid-afternoon and fuelled up at the Liard Hot Springs Lodge. Even if you don’t need fuel, stop in and say Hi to Frank and Smokey. Friendly, helpful folks at the gas station hut there and they have water and chips and chocolate bars. There are RV sites with laundry facilities and showers for their guests. I had a tent so went to the provincial campground where there was supposed to be tenting and RV spots. They were full but had room across the road in the overflow. Turned out that I could have pitched a tent at the lodge RV site too – should have asked! Anyway, I pitched my tent and can officially say I camped. Wandering around exploring a bit revealed huge piles of poop from the buffalo. Clearly, they wander freely through the area. I was thinking what a start that would give you if you came out of your tent in the early morning and there was a big bison munching grass and leaves by your front door!
Ended up pitching my tent beside a nice young couple who are living exclusively on the road in an RV. She’s into social media stuff and he’s a photographer. They’ve been all over and seeing all kinds of great countryside. I took their advice and waited until a bit later in the evening before going to the hot springs, when it slows down due to kidlet bedtime.
The hot springs are a short boardwalk stroll from the provincial campground. It is a beautiful walk with a unique ecosystem. It reminded me of the boardwalk stroll at Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park. Then I arrived at the hot springs! They are truly incredible. So beautiful, and outside of the change rooms and planked area for entering the springs, they are natural - surrounded by forest and a feast for the eyes and soul. I spent at couple of hours there, the hot water tingling through my sore muscles. Felt like a limp noodle when I got out.
On my return, I ran into Chris and Randy – two women who were travelling by RV to Alaska with Chris’ husband. They have travelled all over the world and we had a great time talking. Chris suggested doing the 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain. Though “not religious in any way”, she said it was an incredible experience.
Resolving to return for another soak in the early morning, I put myself to bed at a reasonable hour. I had originally intended to stay 2 nights, but tent camping really is as overrated as I remember. I woke up sore and couldn’t see getting up early, taking everything apart and packing it up to make the 8-hour trip to Fort St. John in one day on Tuesday. Instead, I got up early and scooted over to the hot springs. It wasn’t busy at 6:30 a.m. and I stayed for almost 2 hours again before returning to camp to pack up. On my way to the springs, a couple of squirrels chittered away at me and I swear one of them was posing for a photograph. So I obliged and took one. On the way back from the springs, I surprised a rabbit, who hopped up a few paces and then sat to see what I would do. Since I stopped, it stayed put and I took his/her photo too.
My tenting neighbour Bas was up when I returned and we had a talk, over packing our stuff up, about travelling and people and how everything we have seen has been so beautiful. He is from Holland and was visiting friends in Alaska. Being enamoured of all that he saw, he is attempting to get to Texas in the time remaining on his visitor’s VISA.
Many of the RVs in the overflow area had moved on by the time I was finished packing and as I was loading the bike, Steve and David came over for a chat. I had seen them the day before as they were arriving to the hot springs and I was leaving (with my motorcycle logo shirt on). They came over to bid me farewell as they were headed the other direction for Tuktoyaktuk.
By the time I was done visiting and packing up, I had a later start. It was already getting quite hot and I patted myself on the back for deciding to bring my mesh riding suit. With just my t-shirt and light shorts underneath, I was pretty comfortable for the ride in the rising temperatures.
Soon after heading out, I was entering Northern Rockies country. While there are some stand-out vistas and views, I can safely say the whole ride from Liard River Hot Springs to Fort Nelson is one of show-stopping, spectacular beauty. Bike-stopping too, since it “should” have taken me about 4-5 hours and it took me 7 hours. I suppose one could ride hell-bent for leather down that stretch, but one would be an idiot to do so. There were several long stretches of gravel, but the larger risk is the wildlife and curves. In any case, it is so beautiful that it is more fun to take one’s time and be able to gawk around a bit.
Pulling into a rest stop, I met a couple from Kamloops who were headed for Inuvik. We had a good conversation about bikes and trips and they recommended tonight’s hotel. Some time later, I stopped to top up with gas at Toad River and met Johnny from Dallas, Texas and another gentleman from Minnesota. Johnny had been up to Fairbanks and was headed back to Texas through the mid-west. The two had been chatting when I pulled up to the gas pump a couple hundred feet away. He said to me later “You should have seen the look on our faces when you took your helmet off and we realized you were a woman”. LOL. I’ve been getting that a lot and it gives me a sense of satisfaction every time I hear it or see the look of surprise! I have truly met so many interesting and friendly people.
I saw a couple of black bears along the road and one big brown one. Then, some kilometers south of Toad River, a rider coming from the opposite direction waved at me in an unusual way. I took it as a warning and luckily so, as I rounded a curve to see 5 sheep at the side of the road by a barricade. Two of them were babies and they promptly bounded over the barricade and down the steep cliff face like it was no big deal at all!
Another hour or so along and I began to see signs warning of caribou. I was thinking “yeah, whatever”, as I had seen no evidence of wildlife for a good long way. Then up ahead, there’s 5 of them off to the left. I slowed down and pulled onto the rest area to watch and see what they would do. Sure enough, one of the young ones headed across the road, followed by the rest. They all then stopped on the edge, just kind of standing there. After 10 minutes of watching them and wondering what to do next, I began to move, very slowly to the other side of the road where there was no oncoming traffic. As soon as I started to move, they began to run ahead of me. I kept going very slowly and they criss-crossed the road a couple of times before finally clearing it and staying off it to watch me and the other vehicles crawl by. Quite an amazing experience. There’s a short video clip below.
About 80 kms out of Fort Nelson, the landscape began to change very noticeably. The steep, rocky mountains gave way to heavily forested mountains. Throughout the whole day, I was struck by how “untouched” so much of the area seemed. It turns out it's on purpose. A story board states “At 6.4 million hectares, and approximately the size of Ireland, the Muskwa-Kechika was named after two of the major rivers running through the region. Muskwa means bear, in the Dene language, Kechika means long inclining river. Large, intact and almost unroaded, the M-KMA is a complete ecosystem, with an abundant diversity of large mammals supporting predator-prey systems on a scale not existing anywhere else in the world outside of Africa. This area is truly the world’s “Serengeti of the the North”.”
Arriving in Fort Nelson around 5:30 p.m., I checked into the Blue Bell Inn, which is associated with the Petro Canada gas station when you come through to the far end of town. As advertised by the kind folks from Kamloops, it is inexpensive ($5 less than the Motel 6 claiming to have the lowest rates…), with friendly service and clean, spacious rooms. There are a number of restaurants within walking distance and after attending to the first order of business (a shower!), I’ve had supper and fulfilled my blog duties! 😊 Until next time......
Well, it was a cold, wet morning, but I scrambled my butt out of bed and joined the Sensational Six for a 7:00 a.m. jaunt over to the wildlife viewpoint in Hyder, Alaska to see if we could find some bears. No bears, so we turned around and headed back. I lost the crew almost immediately by stopping to take a photo with the Canada and US flags. Caught up to them again at the Bear glacier (I think that’s what it’s called). They were taking some pictures and playing with a drone over the glacier. I took a moment to think of Tracey and left some ashes from the small bit I brought with me for the purpose of leaving some in every province and territory as I go. I think she would have thought the Bear Glacier was pretty special – and so it was.
Took some pictures of the glacier again and of the Sensational Six and then we all got back on the bikes. Played tag the rest of the day – falling behind them, being the dawdler that I am, then catching up at various rest spots along the way.
Today topped the Terrace to Prince Rupert ride for flipping freezing. It rained on and off the whole day, though not usually too heavily. It was the low temperature between 5 and 9 degrees most of the ride that made it so cold. The road was good for the first hour and half and then it was intermittently crappy for the next 3 hours to Dease Lake. The road is paved, but with lots of gravel spots and construction to keep me paying attention and the odd steel or wet wooden bridge thrown in for variety.
I felt like a popsicle by the time I hit Dease Lake, where I caught up to the guys again. I had originally intended to call it a day at Dease Lake, but with such an early start, it was only mid-day and it seemed silly to stop. The locals had said there was hail in the area today and I thought that if I didn’t continue on and the precipitation did, it could be snow in the morning and I could be stuck there until later in the day. Didn’t warm up much over the lunch stop, but I decided the 257 kms to Watson Lake was achievable, even if it was 3 hours more of riding. It was miserably cold for another hour and a half. Miraculously, when I dropped out of Jade City and into the last 100 kms, the temperature suddenly rose several degrees and the sun peeped in and out. What a difference. The last hour was actually enjoyable!
I did see 6 bears, though. All black bears, except one. A black bear mom with 2 cubs crossed the road well ahead of me after leaving Dease Lake and the other black bears I saw were munching in the vegetation beside the road. The oddball bear was browner, but not big enough to be a grizzly, I don’t think.
Reached Watson Lake at 4:30 p.m. and filled up with gas. So I have officially reached the Yukon!
The first hotel I stopped at was full, so I called the Air Force Lodge and they had room for me. It is a dorm-style lodge with basic, private rooms, and shared showers and bathrooms (separate men and women’s). It is owned by a German couple and is very nice and well kept. I rolled into the parking lot and saw the now-familiar bikes of the Sensational Six lined up to the building! We all traipsed out for dinner and had a farewell visit in the common area of the lodge after. They are headed for Anchorage tomorrow at some ridiculous hour and I will leave for Whitehorse at a much saner hour. The weather is supposed to be more agreeable, so it should be a nice ride.
In spite of the fact that it is 11:00 p.m. and the pink of sunset is still in the sky, I shall drag my travel weary self to bed. Sleep well everyone. Yukon Ho!
The best kind of day today – rode with old friends and made some new ones! Left Prince Rupert about 8:45 with Florian and Leslie leading the way. Though it was still pretty chilly in the morning, the rain held off and we had a beautiful ride along the Skeena River from Prince Rupert to Terrace. Stopped a couple of times to take a photo or two and stretch our legs. We still made Terrance in good time, so we rewarded ourselves with a stop at Tim’s. Heading out of Terrace, we stopped at a little church along the side of the road. Pretty little thing and stands there - open to the public during the day. It is nice to see a little spot of interest like that open and unattended, and not vandalized. Also at that site, a logger was trying to get up on a stump. He couldn’t quite do it, so I helped him out. 😊
Hwy 16 took us to Kitwanga– the gateway to the Stewart-Cassiar Highway north to the Yukon. There’s a great gas station and restaurant at Kitwanga and we stopped for lunch there. Food was good and the tables were amazing - each table had different artwork on it and the name of the artist.
The day turned out to be very nice, so Flo and Leslie decided to continue on a bit further with me. While we were suiting up (ok me – I’m dreadfully slow), Florian struck up a conversation with a group of riders that had stopped for gas. They were up from the U.S. and were heading for Anchorage, but on their way to Stewart this evening as well. Leslie, Florian and I had them take our picture with the North to Alaska sign and headed out. It wasn’t long before the group caught up and passed us.
Turning off at the Nass forest service road, Leslie and Flo headed back to Prince Rupert and I continued on to Stewart. The whole ride was beautiful, but the road into Stewart from Meziadin Junction is something special! WOW! Stunning views everywhere you look – hard to keep your eyes on the road! I had been seeing signs warning about bears and was thinking “what bears” when I came around a curve and there was a bear! Fortunately for me, not ON the road, but in the ditch right beside the road munching away on the vegetation. Gave me a little shot of adrenaline at the suddenness of it and I was glad I was being conservative with my speed on the unknown road. I didn’t stop to take his picture......I know you don't want to mess with ME when I'm hungry.
Not long after the bear sighting, I rounded another curve to see a huge glacier right down beside the road. Quite breathtaking and the photo doesn’t do it justice even a little bit. From there, it just continued to be heart-squeezing beauty all the way into Stewart. I arrived an hour ahead of what google maps said I would, so apparently google maps doesn’t know everything.
Unloaded the bike and checked into the King Edward Hotel for the night. Very friendly folks and a good deal on a room. I went out for a wee stroll to stretch my legs and on the way back, spied some familiar looking bikes at another hotel. Wandered over and sure enough, there were our buddies from the Kitwanga gas station. They were just heading over to my hotel for dinner and were gracious enough to invite me to join them. Great bunch of guys who go on a big bike trip every year. They’ve been all over the US and Canada and even toured Europe last year. This year, they are headed to Anchorage where their wives are flying in to join them for a few days of road trip before ferrying back to Seattle and finishing the journey from there. We had great conversation and lots of laughs over dinner. They were keen to hear about my adventure and were very kind to think it is a brave pursuit. So, say hi to Rick, Mike, Joe, Moe, Steve and Frank because I promised them all they were going to be famous on my blog site!
Their group plans to be up early to try to see some bears at Hyder, AK, which is about 3 kms up the road from Stewart. Then they are heading for Watson Lake, YT and have extended an invitation to tag along. I hadn’t planned to go all the way to Watson Lake tomorrow, though it looks as though it is achievable, and would be a good stretch to have company on. If I can get my butt out of bed early in the morning, it would be fun to hop over the border to see the bears and glaciers there. The glaciers are guaranteed, the bears…..it’s a crap shoot. I’m sure it would be fun to tag along, but I'll have to hang out in the back, because I’ve been dawdling something fierce on this journey and I expect they’ll lose me in the first 100 kms.
So it will be an early night and maybe an early morning. All in all, likely to be a long day no matter how far I get as it is supposed to be rainy and chilly all day. Weather is more likely to dictate my stopping point than distance. Off to dreamland.
QUIET DAY TODAY
No stories to tell today. Just a quiet day resting and preparing for tomorrow's departure to Stewart
Maia was pretty sure I should share my lunch and stared me down until the last of my biscuit was gone. Walter got tired of waiting for his mom and decided he would put up with me for a minute. He disappeared pretty quick when his mom came up though.
Night Fury is ready to go in the morning - only one bag to strap on and we're good to go.
Gorgeous day today hiking the approximately 5 km Butze Rapids trail with Leslie and Florian. Pretty sure Leslie is a lunatic, choosing to go on a hike the day after a 12 km run the day before. Probably why we get along!
The weather tried to deter us by pouring rain as we approached the trail, but we persevered and the rain let up. It was a very beautiful walk through coastal rainforest. We had fun messing with our camera settings to get good photos. I think I took my photo of the year at the Butze Rapids viewpoint! It is a reversing rapids that changes directions with the tide. The hike was great for giving the muscles a stretch and one could hardly complain about the up and down with the two little dogs marching along with us.
After finishing our hike, we drove over to Kloiya Bay as well. It is a short rocky road down to the water that could be done with an adventure bike, but certainly not mine. There is a small kayaking business there, so you could rent a kayak and paddle around the bay and over to Butze Rapids. Seeing the tent pitched at the bay with the rain dripping off it made me grateful to have friends with a warm bed for me!
The day ended with some pampering for Night Fury. Gave her a bath, lubed the chain, topped up the tires and she is ready for departure on Tuesday!
Click Play on the slideshow below!
This is a long one, folks!
Today I had the luxury of sleeping in and not needing to load up the bike and go. I met my friend Jane at the Cargo Kitchen for lunch. They have a great menu and I can personally recommend their Wicked Coffee…. Jane told me about the sunken gardens behind the courthouse and the path along the waterfront. She dropped me off at City Hall, where I began my self-guided walking tour of Prince Rupert.
Charles Hays is the big name in history around here. He was a railway magnate, visionary and astute businessman whose plan was to turn Prince Rupert into a major north-western port. Prince Rupert was to combine rail and ship - bring goods from across western Canada to take advantage of the Asiatic market. Unfortunately for Prince Rupert, Charles Hays travelled to England to raise funds for his ambitious plans and perished on the Titanic on his return voyage. While Prince Rupert remains a significant port in the northwest, Charles Hays’ big dream was never realized.
Stopped at the local Mark's to pick up some toe warmers for my boots for the next leg of the journey. Across the way was Drift Apparel, which had a selection of helmets and motorcycle gear, so of course I had to pop in and take a look. Had a quick chat with the friendly sales guy there.
I had a good conversation with a couple of local gentlemen, one of whom had fished the waters of the area for 44 years. It seems the fishing industry is threatened in Prince Rupert due to low fish stocks and over-regulation. They said many fishermen are closing up shop because they just can’t make a living anymore. With fishing being a major industry here, it is disappointing to hear and reminded me of the hard time that small farmers have in the prairie provinces. Why is it that everyone needs food, but the people generating it can’t make a living at it? Makes no sense.
I went through the Museum of Northern British Columbia, having coughed up the outrageous fee of $1.00 for the privilege. (Actually, I gave her $10, and told her to keep the change). The museum is really well done. It uses story boards and displays to chronicle the history of the region, including indigenous and European art, culture and industry. There is also a video room where one can select different historical videos to watch. Included in the building is an art gallery and very beautiful gift shop.
Finding the waterfront walk at Rotary Waterfront Park, I wandered it to Cow Bay and the Waterfront Market. There is a cruise ship terminal and various tourist attractions – gift shops, restaurants, coffee shops. Prince Rupert is a common stop for cruise ships as they have to stop and clear customs in a Canadian port as they pass through to and from Alaska. Bear and whale-watching tours can be booked here as well as fishing expeditions. The Ice House Gallery has some gorgeous art work from local artists and the First Nations jewellery, textiles and art on display are varied and stunning. The Home Work shop has a different flavour but is also a fun and interesting little store.
Strolling back up the hill towards the museum, I stopped to see the unique boat framed into a shelter for preservation. Not the usual fishing vessel, I found a plaque telling the sweet, sad story of the Kazu Maru. The vessel’s owner, Kazukio Sakamoto, had set out for a fishing trip and never returned. The Kazu Maru was discovered off the coast of the Queen Charlotte islands 18 months later. Upon discovering that it was from Prince Rupert’s sister city of Owase, Japan, it was restored and sheltered here for display.
In the same area, is a statue and a little labyrinth of short walls with plaques honouring the mariners who have died at sea. I felt quite choked up seeing all the names and the plaque below the statue stating “We Are Out There”. There is an unexpected power in those words and my mind was crowded with images of the unbound nature of the sea taking its own home.
I visited the courthouse, which has a lovely war memorial and peaceful, tree-lined paths. The courthouse itself is a beautiful building. The sunken gardens there would have remained unknown to me if Jane hadn’t mentioned them. I walked around the back of the building and was greeted with the most beautiful little garden. The gardens have a plaque honouring Lloyd Pierce, who created and maintained the gardens and grounds surrounding the courthouse. Known as a kind, gentle man, he was clearly loved by many. I was forcibly reminded of how Tracey loved her living, growing things and I had to go down, sit on a bench in the garden and have a little cry for my lost sister. She was in my mind a lot today – kept seeing things that would have delighted her.
Composing myself, I made my way back to the grocery store to pick up fixings for chicken stew. My crazy friend Leslie was out running the Skeena relay today while I was being lazy, so stew and biscuits have been prepared for tomorrow night’s dinner. Tomorrow will be a time to have a visit and spend sometime pampering Night Fury before the next leg of the journey.
Hit "Play" in the upper left corner of the slide show below!
FINDING THE TRIVIA BITs!
It has been brought to my attention, that if you are using a smartphone or iPad, the Trivia Bits that Mom wrote are very difficult to find. This is not OK, given the time and effort she put into writing them for me. The photos below have instructions on how to find them on a computer as well as how to find them if you are using a smartphone, iPad or other tablet. Go get your history lesson and let me know what you think!