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Today, I got out of bed at 8:00 and the temperature read 3 degrees Celsius, so it seemed a fine idea to take my time getting ready and loading the bike to see if the temperature would come up a bit. By 10:00 a.m., the temperature rose to 9 degrees, so I suited up and set off.
My first destination was about 2 kms up the road to Watson Lake’s Signpost Forest. Neat little stop with signposts and license plates from all over the world. It began in 1942 with the construction of the Alaska Highway. As the story goes, Carl Lindley, a homesick soldier added his hometown and other began to do the same. It is one of the best-known attractions along the Alaska highway. According to the sign with the story, at the end of 2004, almost 55,000 signs were erected in the Signpost Forest. Can you find yours….?
Heading out in earnest, I pulled onto the Alaska Highway, destined for Teslin – the halfway point to Whitehorse – for lunch. The day was cold, but initially sunny and I though it would be a nice break from rain and cold, at least. It was only about half an hour into my ride that I was disabused of that notion. Mother Nature saw fit to test me with intermittent rain just to see what my stamina was. I hung in there, as it still wasn’t as cold as the Hwy 37 ride the day before. I expected to see more evidence of the fire devastation that I had seen the day before along Hwy 37, but the forest seemed untouched by recent fire in this area.
The landscape in the Yukon is noticeably different from that of northern BC. It seems to open up and the snow-bound peaks seem taller and even more pronounced. The Alaska Highway winds it’s way through mountains and forest, displaying its beauty as you travel from one breathtaking vista to another. And I know I haven’t even seen the best of it yet.
About an hour short of Teslin, I ran into some interesting road work where they were gravelling and then hosing down the road. I had been warned at a rest stop that it was coming. Given that this was happening over curving and climbing hills, it presented another challenge to keep the bike moving but minimizing input. Once again, I began the chant in my head “relax and look where you want to go” and got through it with relative ease.
Rounding the last curve before Teslin, there is a long hill and an ideal photo opp before actually entering the community. A lovely valley opens up with a long steel bridge crossing the water into Teslin. It is a bit of a surprise and certainly a pleasant one. This area is a national wildlife area, providing important protection for wildlife, including a wide range of migratory birds. Continuing into Teslin, I stopped at the corner gas station to find it has a restaurant and gift shop as well. The restaurant has great “home cooking” and a bakery as well. Portions are large and the hot turkey sandwich was stacked up with real turkey on a slice of garlic French bread and smothered in gravy. I was more than ready for a comfort meal after the chilly ride. Had a chat with some folks from Edmonton and Ontario that were travelling to Dawson City. The one gentleman said he has been in every province and territory except for the Northwest Territories. Widowed and retired, he continues to explore new areas.
Left Teslin refreshed for the last 2 hours to Whitehorse. A fellow rider warned me of “mud” some way up the road and I thought “Oh, great, more “experience”! It rained on me for a while leaving Teslin, and then gave up and even offered some weak sunshine now and then. More of the “spread and water” construction came up to taunt me and this time the road was much softer, wanting to pull the bike around much more than the previous sections. Still, it wasn’t any worse than the soft, deep sand I had encountered in Saskatchewan a couple of years before and with patience and focus, I made it through without too much trouble.
The scenery between Teslin and Whitehorse continued to be stunning and along the way, I saw another black bear amble across the road and a huge bald eagle. At one point, 4 large helicopters passed overhead. I don’t know my helicopters, but they were bigger than any I had seen before and I wondered if they were military.
I arrived in Whitehorse about 5:30 p.m. at Anne’s house. She has graciously agreed to put me up for a few days while I toodle around Whitehorse and area exploring. Night Fury has princess parking in the front yard! She sure doesn’t look like a princess though – she looks like a downright dirty girl! I’m going to try to get her booked at a local shop for a checkup in the next day or two. In the meantime, she will get another wash and de-bugging.
Anne and I had a welcome walk to Miles Canyon, which is a beautiful walk along the Yukon River. It is a network of trails and the views are lovely and peaceful. The basalt columns along the river reminded me of the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. Having warmed up the muscles and got the blood flowing again, it was time for some dinner. Whenever I am in Whitehorse, I have to go to The Dirty Northern for arctic char. I love the way the prepare it there and arctic char is soooo good!
A bit of TLC for me tomorrow too, with an acupuncture and cupping appointment booked for the afternoon. Some of that is going to hurt like heck, but it will be totally worth it. Night Fury isn’t the only one that needs her body maintained if we are going to get through this big adventure.
Until next time, thanks for checking up on me! 😊
P.S. I had to make a correction and an adjustment to yesterday’s blog. Apparently, I can’t count, because though I can name all of the riders that were so good to me the day before, I numbered them at 5 and they were a group of 6. So they have been renamed from the Famous Five to the Sensational Six. Also, make no mistake that the ride from Stewart to Watson Lake via Hwy 37 was full of beauty and stunning views, in spite of my whining about the cold and rain. Just when you think the bush might be getting a wee bit boring, you round a corner to another gorgeous view.