Travelled from Whitehorse back to Watson Lake today. It was interesting to travel the road in the other direction and see new scenes. I also met tons of friendly people today! Stopping at Jake’s Corner for a drink of water and a cookie, a woman named Elaine came over to see my bike and ask me what I was up to and we had a little chat. They have lived in all sorts of northern communities and are now in the Yukon. Looking across the road from Jake’s Corner, I laughed to see a little rough log structure with a sign over it that said “Hippie Inn”.
An hour or so later, I was headed into Teslin with the throttle down and my mind planted on another hot turkey sandwich at the Yukon Motel and Restaurant. Such was my intensity that I almost went by the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre. Reigning in my stomach, I pulled in to take a look. So glad I did. The story of the Tlingit First Nations as traders in the Yukon had been showing up throughout my museum stops. They were astute business people and monopolized the trade in the Yukon by controlling the passes. While there are similarities in the lifestyle with other First Nations cultures as hunter/gatherers as well, their social structure was different. They had different clans and each clan had different responsibilities. They did not marry within their clan. Beautiful displays of beadwork and carving were on display. I also had an interesting conversation with Laura (who is an herbalist) about the local plants and berries they use for medicine and jams and jellies.
A little further up the road was the George Johnson Museum. This looked unique, so I took another detour on my way to lunch. George Johnson was born and raised in the Tlingit traditional life. Upon visiting Alaska, he discovered photography. He brought the first car into Teslin, ordered a camera from the Eaton’s catalogue and learned how to use it. He developed his own photos and is credited with creating a photo story of the Tlingit cultures and traditions as he travelled around the Yukon. One of the displays in the museum that talked about the tanning of hides reminded me of a comical headline on a similar display in another museum – “The moose had enough brains to tan his own hide”. Part of the tanning process, after scraping the fat and tissues off the skin was to soak the hide in moose or caribou brains and water before drying and then repeating the process.
At this museum, I fell into conversation with Wanda. Wanda is also struggling with grief, having recently lost her son. We had a good talk about loss and learning to living without our loved ones, about forgiveness and hurt, and parted with a hug. If we let ourselves be open, support is everywhere.
Carrying on to the Yukon Hotel and Restaurant for gas and food, my first little chat was with a man who has evidently been all over the world with his camper van. He tried to convince me that we should switch gas bills – his van taking 100 litres and my bike taking about 6.5 litres! I had my hot turkey sandwich and had a wee chat with Kenny and Candy from Alabama, who are travelling to Alaska in their own good time. Another American couple chatted with me as well, but I did not get their names. Both Kenny and the other gentleman were Goldwing riders and were interested in my bike. The CTX 700 seems to be a bit of a wild card still - very few people I have met have heard of it and even fewer have seen one. I haven’t seen another one since I left home.
The day being cool with a strong-ish headwind, I made more frequent stops. I find the wind fatigues me more quickly than rain or cold. It makes sense that it is more physically demanding, though I don’t think about that when I’m riding. Stopping for a break halfway to Watson Lake, I met Mike and Alberto who had travelled from Houston, Texas. They had a good look at my bike too and told me my suit was too clean to make what I’m doing sound real. LOL I’m sure the next few months will take care of that! About 30 kms out of Watson Lake, I had to pull over and take a photo. Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you’re bike hits 30,000 kms!! (Riders will understand the joke in that sentence. 😊 The end of the saying actually goes "and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself").
Arriving at the same Historic Air Force Lodge, 3 bikes pulled in behind me. These young men were traveling from Brazil, with the mission of starting at the southernmost city of the continent and travelling to the northernmost. One of them gave me a sticker of their journey and I will check them out online. Their tour is called Moto Expedicao Brasil/Alaska 2018.
So far, my theory bears out. If you leave politics and religion out of your conversations, people are just people – kind, generous, friendly and helpful. Back to BC tomorrow as I make my way into northern Alberta.