WE MADE IT...
Well we both arrived in Vancouver safe and sound after a long trip from Cairns, stopping with Joanne and Rae in Sydney and then stopping again in Taipei.
Wish the bike made it as safely. With all the care we took to strap in and make it safe and sound, it appears the crate was dropped on its side. This looks like it was fairly early on in the shipping process as some one had attempted re- tie the bike in place but the crate was damaged and (luckily) only surface damage had occurred to the bike.
Marilyn was the most gracious host and looked after us too well! She and Brent took us to the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge (worth it, even if it took a while to find... as it is very difficult and not well sign posted)
Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge
We headed off on a rainy Vancouver morning and with the weather reports forecasting a great deal more rain in the lower British Colombia and Alberta areas we decided on a more northerly route to Calgary.
However somewhere along the ways we took a slight detour and ended up in the Yukon and eventually Alaska!
Our first days ride cleared up beautifully and we had such a lovely ride following the Fraser River to Lilliooet, where we camped along shore of the river and had a celebratory bottle red wine (Australian of course!) by a lovely camp fire.
View from Fraser River Campground
Onward through to Dawsons Creek and the start of the Alaska Highway, with plenty of rain, cold, moose, deer and even a bear.
Famous Mile 0 - start of the Alaska Highway
We followed the Alaska Highway through the stunning Muncho Lake district, with its high mountain passes and beautiful blue waters,
to the Liard River Hot Springs, where we delighted in soaking in the natural hot waters. We lost a few battles against the mosquitoes which were ferocious and numerous beyond our imaginations, even Aussie mozzies were not this bad! Despite this we camped two days… hoping the rain would get ahead of us and we would have some fine weather.
Alpha Pool - Liard River Hot Springs
We decided to book the ferry to take us down the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert (British Colombia) from Skagway (Alaska).
The road works from Liard River Hot Springs were 15 kms of difficult and wet lose surface which made for an exciting mornings start, especially as we had to follow an RV/Mobile Home that was all over the road and traveling erratically.
Arriving in Whitehorse, in the Yukon, after a hard ride we stayed again at another hot springs before making the ride past the Emerald Lake
Emerald Lake - near Carcross
and then through the White Pass into Alaska where we were amused by a very confused immigration officer who did not comprehend the fact that we were not Austrian and could not speak German!
White Pass - to Alaska
After passing the Emerald Lake we stopped for a breakfast/brunch/lunch at Carcross where we met Jo and Graham on a BMW from New Zealand who were traveling with Mark and Lisa, also on a BMW from New Mexico. They had just gotten off the ferry from Skagway and we spent some time chatting with them and getting the low down on the ferry trip we were to make in the next few days.
The ride down to Skagway is one of the most stunning and awesome roads we have been on so far.
Canadian/Alaskan Boarder - Klondike Highway
The Canadian/American border is high in the Continental Divide mountains where snow and ice is still abundant, even for summer. We did a short hike thought the alpine high country enjoying the clean air and crystal clear water from snow melt before continuing on the rapid descent to the coast, and Skagway.
Skagway is a really neat little tourist town preserved in the Gold Rush theme, specifically for the numerous and grand Alaska cruise ships, however there is a fabulous little restaurant called ‘Stowaway Café’ that serves huge slabs of fresh halibut! One serve is enough for two! (Thanks Lynn for our dinner.)
Once the ferry tickets were secured we waited at the terminal until boarding where we met Howard and Alan from California who were traveling around Alaska on the BMW and Gold Wing respectively. We had such a nice time talking about travelling and motorcycling... as you do!
Waiting for the boat
We spen two nights and a day on the boat and the weather had turned very cold and it was quite windy on the water.
Julie in the Wind!
The journey from Skagway to Prince Rupert (known as the "Poor Mans Alaskan Curise") took in beautiful scenery and rugged isolated coastline of the Inside Passage. We were able to see some humpback whales swimming along side the boat and glaciers high up in the mountains.
Grant rugged up for the Alaskan Summer?
After disembarking from our 'cruise' we continued on to the small town of Kitwanga wher we met some cyclists that were riding from Alaska to Vancouver. the Group included Eduardo and Michael who were good friends and we all talked about our favourite subject.... MEXICO as Eduardo lives in Mexico City it was good to get information about that part of our trip to come. Eduardo also owns a BMW and maybe we will hook up and go for a ride together.
The ride to the Mezidan Junction is a little tiresome as it is all managed forests and swamps and you are boxed in by trees and do not get to see much scenery, however once you turn off on to the 37A - the road to Stewart, things change dramatically.
From Highway 37A
The road winds its way past high mountains with glaicers topping them, along the Bear River, past the Bear Glacier and through a tight little canyon.
Just on the other side of the boarder, three kilometres from Stewart, there is an even smaller town called Hyder.
There are no paved roads in Hyder but there are fantastic restaurants! The people in our campground in suggested we go and eat at 'The Bus'.
The Bus is a famous seafood restaurant attached to the 'Alaskan Premier Seafoods' outlet and began around seven years ago. If you are in this neck of the woods go see Diana and get the story (www.hyderalaska.com).
At breakfast we met Al and Lorene from Ohio who got us very excited about heading over that way to the National Museum of the Untied States Airforce in Dayton Ohio, but we will have to see... after all we made it to Alaska and that was not in the plans!
Leaving Stewart it was back to Kitwanga for two days of rest before doing a few long runs, one throught the Rocky Mountains.
It was now time for us to continue on to Calgary.
The run across to Jasper was uneventful, both of us full of colds, that will teach us for going to Alaska! *Laugh*
Jasper is a very trendy ski village, although still remains quaint and plesant. We stayed in a Home Stay - which is like a Bed and Breakfast without the breakfast. The proprietors moved their car out of the shed so the bike could have a warm bed too!
The ride from Jasper throught the Rocky Mountains to Calgary was more foggy than rocky. It was so cold we did not even want to stop and look at the Ice Fields. It was a balmy 4 degrees celcius and there was quite a bit of rain about.
Grant was concerned about the state of the rear tyre in those conditions, though it seemed to grip quite well even though it had 25,000 kms on it. Yeah for Metzeler Tourance.
Arriving in Calagry we were met by our dear friends Brenda and Kevin (whom we had met 5 years earlier in Mexico) who looked after us for a whole week. Warm bed, Red Wine, good food. Luxury!
The 1st of July was Canada Day and to celebrate Brenda and Marilyn prepared a traditional Turkey Feast - normally a Thanksgiving or Chirstmas fare, but was put on especially for us. Brenda and Julie had many an email over the years about the Turkey Dinner!
A highlight of the meal (appart from the experimental frozen turkey) was a delicious little thing called Turnip Puff. It is so yummy and makes excellent left overs. Brenda uses her Mums recipe.
Brenda and Kevin took us to the Calgary Tower. It is really neat! From the tower you can survey the entire area and see for miles, on a clear day the Rocky Mountains are spectacular. There is a glass floored section that feels extremely odd to stand on. For people that know Julie well enough, you would know her dislike of heights.
Calgary was a good base to head out on a few day trips. One day we went out to Lake Louise and Banff in the Rocky Mountanis. The scenery is very beautiful. It is very exciting to ride towards the mountains from Calgary as they appear out of a flat prarie landscape and continue to grow in stature and detail the closer you get.
We were also able to take in the Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump site. This is really interesting place. For thousands of years the local Indian people would heard buffalo to this site and run them off the cliff, killing them for food and hides etc. It is a very well preserved site and well worth the visit.
Whilst in Calgary we celebrated Julies Birthday... very early! Well why not, she announces it for months in advance anyway!
Sadly we left our Calgary friends for the Lussier Hot Springs in the White Swan Provincial Park.
These natural pools are set in as stunning location. You sit beside the rushing 'cold' river in a warm bath temperature pool watching the water run by. (Thanks Kevin for the suggestion!).
To get there you need to travel on a gravel road for aobut 20km's. It is a good road but you have to watch out for the shear drop offs and the logging trucks!
The wild flowers were out in abundance. Red, pink, yellow, white, blue and purple painted the medows and the scents were delicous and sweet.
After relaxing around the hot springs we headed to Creston where a lot of fruit is grown, we spent time cleaning and re-oiling the air filter and eating peaches and cherries during the warm days.
We used this time to clean the air filter, which was filthy!
It was time to say good by to Canada with thoughts of a more extensive trip in the future.
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