September 26, 2004 GMT
(24) The Wind Says Drive East
Monday September 04 2004
My time here on the west coast has been amazing and eye opening.
I have been welcomed into my friends family as one of their own and will never forget or know how to repay them for their warmth and hospitality, they really are like family to me, always have been.
Was a joy to get to know these 3 little girls, never a dull moment and always something to laugh, cry, explain, read, play & talk about with these young girls, they are amazingly sharp and intelligent, it is scary!
We went sailing, driving motorcycles, visiting, bowling (Marc's favourite sport) eating out and enjoying each others company.
While here my friend Marc introduces me to MacIntosh computers, he has been recommending Mac to me for years.
It didn't take so much pushing for me to see that Macs are far superior in most areas over PC's and Windows.
I am now the proud owner of a Mac Powerbook G4 laptop computer and have enjoyed getting to know and learn this Mac very much...Oh! and I just had to buy a 40 GB Ipod musicplayer too, I need those 10,000 songs on my fingertips when I am riding.
...and it comes with sadness to say goodbye to my friends here, it is a very nice to have the feeling of a home away from home. I look forward to seeing them all again and hope that it is sooner rather than later.
Thank you Marc, Ana & family
Monday September 20 2004
I drive east on Hwy #20 through the Cascade Mtn. Range, it is amazing scenery & landscapes, I am very happy that I chose to drive this route.
Just not too far east of the mtn. range the lanscape turnes dramatically to semi desert landscapes.
A big fruit, produce growing area with large farms and the Grand Coulee Dam to hold and supply water for these crops.
Eventually I join up to the main hwy #90 and Spokane, Wa.
I pass into Idaho and settle into a campground just outside of Coeur d' Alene, Idaho.
An enjoyable, long, sometimes very hot, (spectacular scenery) ride today.
The wind is pushing me east and towards home.
Tuesday September 21 2004
Northern Idaho is very beautiful, mountains, lakes, rivers, wild nature.
It does not take me so long before I have crossed into Montana.
I continue along Hwy #90 through Missoula, Butte, Bozeman and stop to camp at a nice little town called Columbus, Montana, just a little west of Billings.
More amazing scenery today with the Rocky Mountains always in clear view in the distance.
This is real cattle, cowboy country.
Another long day in the saddle, the community campground is very spacious and there is no charge.
Amazing to me, since I have payed for many campgrounds that were not half a nice as this, I enjoy the night, fire up my camp stove for a hot cup of tea and some pasta for dinner...it doesn't get any better than this!
Wednesday September 22 2004
I slept like a baby last night, pack camp and continue along Hwy #90 through Billings then south east through the Little Bighorn Battlefield area, I had seen this area before on another trip around USA so I give all this a miss and enjoy the day on the road.
Lovely rolling grassland hills all along the way.
I have the picture in my mind of natives on their horses riding through these grasslands rounding up bison as one of their food sources from days gone by.
I enter and drive through the north-east section of Wyoming, passing through Sheridan and Gillette, then I take Hwy #16 into South Dakota.
The reason being that it was my plan all along to stop by the Monument to Crazy Horse. I had been here years ago and wanted to see just how far they have progressed with the memorial to Crazy Horse, carved out of the side of the mtn, part of the Black Hills National Forest.
I take a campsite in Custer, South Dakota. A nice little town that has really grown in size since the last time I passed through here.
The Black Hills has very spectacular scenery and vistas, you will never forget it.
Thursday September 23 2004
As I leave Custer and drive through the Black Hills National Forest there are many large Bison (Buffalo) grazing alongside the roads.
It is my plan to get a good close up shot of one of these large steamroller type animals.
I slow down, take a close look at this gargantuan beast looking back at me and think to myself, it's ok, i think all the people know what bison look like, if he decides he doesn't like his photo taken he might put the run on me or even worse he might bulldoze my motorcycle into little bits...no camera snaps, on I go.
I take the small country hwy #385 through the flat farmland, consisting of mostly cornfields and large farms for as far as the eye can see, this is Nebraska!
I continue on this country road until I meet up with the main Hwy #80 through towns like North Platte, Lexington, Kearney, Lincoln and finally Omaha at the Iowa border.
I decide to take a cheap motel room for the night as I know the rain is coming soon, I am a day or so from home and don't want to spend my last night or pack up in the middle of a thunderstorm.
I am in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
It is so nice to have a toilet, shower, real bed , cable tv and room enough to relax in a space bigger than my tent.
981 kilometers today
The rain cometh soon!
Friday September 24 2004
I wake at 5 am.
I packed everything last night so I could get an early start this morning.
It has rained through the night, it is still dark with thunder and lightning all around.
I saw the forecast last night for today, the thunderstorms are heading this way.
I think briefly that maybe I should wait them out here, somewhere dry & warm.
That lasts for a minute, the next thing I know I am driving due east with all my wet gear on, trying to see the road in front of me.
It is raining very hard, I find that I can not sit behind all these truckers so I have tp pass them all.
It is a little interesting keeping in front of them at these speeds in this weather.
This continues for about 3 1/2 hours, it reminds of earlier in June when I was down east in the Maritimes, wet and not pleasant on the bike.
I stop for fuel and into the diner for a big breakfast, ham, eggs, homefries, lots of coffee, the works and watch the rain pound down.
All the time I think to myself that if I just hang in there, keep driving east I know I will eventually get and keep in front of this weather front.
After a rare heart stopping, artery clogging, delicious breakfast I jump back into my wet gear and have a new vigour towards this weather.
Towards the Illinois/Iowa border the rain stops, the roads are dry and I thin that I might just stay in front of this weather and try to make it home, sometime late tonight or early saturday morning.
Through Illinois and into Indiana on Hwy #94.
There is a major traffic hold up here as there is contruction ahead.
This sets me back at least 1 1/2 hours, the traffic is backed up forever, I zip in and out and make my way up towards the front, another good reason to have a motorcycle!
On through Michigan, Hwy #94, 89 & 69 to Port Huron.
Somewhere around Lansing I get turned around, my mind is a little dopey and I can feel that I am a little disorrientated.
I noticed a sign saying west.
I want to go east, so I pull into a rest stop, walk around, check the map and ask a man, which way am I going?
He tells me to drive a little ways back and gives me the right exit number to take to get me to Port Huron.
I take some time to get my head focused and clear out the cobwebs.
I arrive in Port Huron, Michigan and the US/Canada border.
It is always a nice feeling to enter back into your country
I have gotten my second wind and I feel fine, not so tired, it is after midnight and very little traffic.
I decide to hump it to London, fuel up there and take the country roads up to Owen Sound. I used to visit London years ago and take Hwy #23 through all the towns & villages, I just hope I remember the way.
Owen Sound, Ontario.
It is 3 am saturday morning.
I have driven 1,734 kilometers today.
I have been on the road for 4 months.
I have driven almost 32,000 kilometers.
I have seen so much, met many, many good people.
It is always good to be/get home but I will miss the everyday experiences of new places and people.
I am not a writer, just a guy riding his motorcycle trying to find out lies around the next corner.
I cannot think of a better way to explore, see a country and its people than on a motorcycle.
If anyone has a question(s), wants/need help with anything at all, I would be more than happy to help in anyway that I can.
Keep riding, be safe.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 09:05 PM
September 04, 2004 GMT
(23) Bellingham, Washington
Friday September 03 2004
We arrive at our destination and the ferry docks.
Some of us travellers have become friends, we take some photos of each other and exchange email addresses, phone numbers etc.
We say goodbye, get into our different vehicles or on our motorcycles and continue our journeys.
It is always the same when I travel, I've always been very lucky to meet up with really good people.
Sometimes we are going in the same direction or to the same destinations.
You become travelling companions and freinds.
Sometimes you keep contact, maybe once in awhile, maybe just to send a postcard, maybe never again.
I have to say that I have been very blessed to meet good friends that have for me became lifelong friends.
You go to these beautiful countries, lands, places to see and experience the beauty,
explore and experience, but it is always the people there that makes it that much more special and puts a smile on your face when you think back of a funny story or warm moment.
I have had many funny and warm memories.
Now I will visit with friends in Bellingham that I met 15 years ago in New Zealand.
The last time I was in Bellingham, Washington was 7 years ago, they had 2 dogs.
This time I visit they still have 2 dogs, plus 3 lovely little girls.
I look forward to meet and get to know these 3 new additions.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 12:51 AM
September 01, 2004 GMT
(22) The Inside Passage
Tuesday August 31 2004
The first night on the ferry went well.
I met and talked with a lot of other travellers on the solarium deck.
We exchange travel stories and make conversation.
There was a brief stop in Juneau early in the morning. It was quite early, I think most of the passengers (myself included) slept through that stop, after a brief stop we continue southwards.
The weather is just brilliant, sunny skies, warm temperatures and the views from the ferry are absolutely amazing.
The snow peaked mts. in the distance, the colour of the sea & sky, the sunsets, it all has to be seen with the naked eye to be appreciated.
I take many photos, keep a constant vigil with the binoculars to spot wildlife on the shores, in the sky and on the water.
The next port of call is Sitka, Alaska.
Sitka has a lot of history, the Tlingit Inians were the first inhabitants.
Next were the Russians in 1799 and then the Russians sold Alaska to the US for $7.2 million with the transfer ceremony in Sitka, October 18 1867.
It was a beautiful seaside town, there is much to see and it has a nice harbour. After a few good hours taking in the local sites we board again and continue southwards.
The ferry had a park ranger on board to give regular talks and presentations on a variety of topics from marine life, history and information about the Inside Passage.
It was all done very well.
There were also many films playing on many interesting topics about the area and the whole marine ecology.
Top marks to them.
Some of the marine life I saw were Humpback Whales, Killer (Orcas) Whales, different kinds of Dolphins & Porpoises, Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Seals, Salmon, Bald Eagles and Waterfowl/Seabirds.
I was sitting in my chair reading when they announced that a pod of Killers Whales were off the port side.
The whole solarium people more or less ran, cameras & binoculars flying to the port side.
I watched the pod(maybe 4 or 5) through my binoculars up ahead and when they reached us at the back, they went under, not to appear until out of camera range.
I guess they were playing a cruel joke on us wanting good Orca photos.
I continued watching them long after they passed with my binoculars. Behind the ferry was a big yacht following, suddenly this one Orca just breached quite close to and in front of this yacht.
I wondered if that guy was ready with his camera at that moment.
The next town that we stopped long enough to visit was Ketchikan.
It is famous for its Alaskan Native Culture, great salmon fishing and for more Totem Poles than anywhere else in the world.
It was a nice enough town but it was overrun with thousands of tourists on those 3 or 4 giant cruiseliners docked adjacent to the downtown wharfs.
It reminded me of the day I was in Skagway, Alaska, same thing.
I guess they have to put ashore sometimes.
This whole trip south was very, very awesome.
The weather cooperated everday to give us unseasonably warm, sunny, dry weather... what a bonus!
The beauty along the way was unbelievable!
I had a really good time onboard this ferry and I met a lot of very nice people too.
It was a little expensive for my tastes, but I thought how many chances will I get to see the Inside Passage...hopefully again sometime!
I am so glad that I decided to go on this ferry through The Inside Passage, it was a trip I will never forget.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 12:07 AM
August 31, 2004 GMT
(21) From Motor Highway to the Marine Highway
Monday August 30 2004
Up early to pack and leave for Haines, Alaska where I plan to catch the ferry through the Inside Passage.
We had frost last night, David showed me his water cup...it had a layer of ice on top.
I guess it is time to move south!
We drive along the Alaskan Hwy #2, through the Yukon it is Hwy #1 then changes to Hwy #3 after Haines Junction, through BC for a short distance and finally back into Alaska, it is called the Haines Road #3.
The scenery along this road is spectacular, especially Kluane National Park, home to Mt. Logan, tallest mountain in Canada.
Unfortunately you can not see Mt. Logan from the road but some of the snow capped mtns. and peaks were massive in size to drive by.
Once in awhile i get a little worried watching David's trailer swaying back and forth as he motors along. I think to myself about the weight of the trailer on those small wheels, one wrong move or a puncture and...I don't want to think about that.
We arrive in Haines, Alaska.
Another cool little deep water port town.
This is home to the world's largest congregation of Bald Eagles.
There are also many Grizzly (Brown) Bears that feed in the rivers on salmon.
David will continue to the campground and I to the ferry terminal.
I buy a ticket for myself and motorcycle on tonights ferry that leaves at 11:50 pm
I choose to not get off at any port town through the Inside Passage and will arrive in Bellingham, Washington on friday morning 7am, 3 1/2 days later.
The ferry makes stops in Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell and Ketchikan, Alaska.
From here it weaves its way through narrows, islands, between Vancouver Island and the BC mainland, then into Bellingham, Washington.
I buy my ticket and drive back into Haines to do stock up on some groceries.
I will take most of my food with me, the food on ferries is usually way overpriced for me.
I get in the line and wait a few hours for the ferry to arrive from Skagway, where it originates from.
I meet and talk to Mike, a man from Seattle on an Austrian made KTM motorcycle.
These motorcycles are made for adventure travel, on and off the road.
This is the type of motorcycle I would like to have one day to really explore places off the beaten track, to be able to get out and see the real good bits that most people are not able to access.
I also meet Lex, a man from Florida who tells me that not so far down the road he and others watched 2 grizzly mothers and their cubs, it was in a public place.
I wished that I had arrived a day earlier as I would have loved to see that.
We board the ferry, tie down the motorcycles, then I drag my gear up to the top deck and the stern of the boat.
This is called the solarium, part is open but most is covered in with heaters overhead at night time.
There are about 10 tents pitch at the rear and the rest of the 50-60 people have there patch staked out on their cot/lounge chair/bed for the duration of the voyage.
It is a cool set up, I like that we are on top, out in the open but have a roof over our heads...and with heat!
I decide to use just my sleeping bag and a louge chair and leave my tent packed away under the chair.
I am excited as I have heard so much about this ferry ride through the Inside Passage.
Now if we get good weather it will be a bonus as this part of Alaska gets quite a bit of rain.
This is home for the next 3 1/2 days, sometimes it is nice to take a break from the motorcycle and watch the world go (float) by.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 08:26 PM
August 30, 2004 GMT
(20) Up Close and Personal With Mt. McKinley
Saturday August 28 2004
I go to Talkeetna Air Taxi early when they open to find out if flights are going to Mt.McKinley.
There is low lying cloud cover, one of the pilots takes a test flight to check and we can hear him report back to the radio in the office that once you are up and through the low lying clouds the weather is clear and Mt. McKinley is beautiful.
I do not have a flight booked but the woman says there is one open seat on the first flightseeing tour.
I don't think about it too long as the weather could change quickly.
Within 30 minutes, the pilot, 5 others and myself are off the runway and on our way towards Mt. McKinley in a Canadian made De Havilland Beaver.
I am lucky as I have the very back seat to myself, I can slide from side to side to get all the photos I want.
The flight was 1 1/2 hours with a 1/2 hour landing on a glacier, it was awesome and the highlight of my Alaskan trip so far.
I snapped many photos, we flew close to and through mountains, the glaciers were awesome to look at and to land on one was the icing on the cake.
There was fresh snow and it was so quiet, beautiful and peaceful up there, truely amazing!
I would love to do that again.
Once back the first thing I do is take my digital camera card and get the photos burned to cd-rom disk, as it was almost full.
I will drive tomorrow, rain or shine!
Sunday August 29 2004
Talkeetna to Tok, Alaska
It is always a little sad to leave such a nice, friendly town like Talkeetna, but the road beckons and I have decided to deviate a bit from my plan.
I will unfortuntely give Denali National Park a miss because I hear that there is still a lot of smoke there and around Fairbanks.
I figure with all the smoke I won't be able to see or take photos of the landscapes, the nature and animals. I will backtrack along the Glenn highway Route and make it back to Tok, Alaska.
A long, all day drive. It is beautiful but still a lot of haze in the air.
I spot a huge black bear beside the road, I wanted his photo but by the time I got back and lifted the camera to snap him, he bolted. I have a nice photo of his backside.
As I pull into Tok, Alaska I meet a nice man on a white H-D police bike.
His name is David and he comes from Georgia.
I mention to him that I know of a motorcycle only campground that I stayed at the last time I passed through here.
We strike up a conversation and then motor off to the campground.
The thing that I first noticed about David was the trailer that he was pulling behind his motorcycle, I was real curious to know what he had in there.
We chatted while he set up and I was amazed to see what unfolded from that trailer.
It folded out on the sides and the top raised like a car tent trailer.
He had a table & chair set, 2 gas cans, 1 water jerry can, a generator, cooler filled with perishables and ice. Inside it has lights, extra electrical cords, propane tank & stove, DVD/TV, a bear skin rug that he bought along the way and his bedding.
It was amazing to me all the stuff that he pulled from that trailer, everything except the kitchen sink.
It is his plan to drive to Haines also, it will be a nice change to ride with another person for a day.
Tomorrow we will leave Alaska, drive through the Yukon, B.C. and enter Alaska again, a good days ride ahead of us
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 05:51 AM
August 28, 2004 GMT
(19) Talkeetna, Alaska & Mt. McKinley
Thursday August 26 2004
Well, what a night!
It must have been 2 or 3 am when a crack of thunder just about lifted me to the tree tops, it was right overhead and so loud.
A lot of lightning close by and the rain is pounding down so hard I had a hard time getting back to sleep.
I have a good tent, has been through a lot of weather and storms and been very dependable. There was so much water coming down and the ground was saturated that it started to come up through the floor.
I jumped up when I realised that the bottom of my sleeping bag along with anything else that was on the floor of the tent was now waterlogged.
I get to the bike, put on my rain gear and begin to empty the wet contents over to the picnic table shelter, wring it all out, break camp and try to stuff all this wet gear back into their stuff sacks, not an easy task.
From here I load the bike up and drive to the Talkeetna Hostel.
I recieve a warm, friendly greeting from the owner Heather.
She lets me dry my things, I book into a dorm bed and have a nice cup of hot tea.
The forecast is not good for the next 2 or 3 days. Wet and more wet.
It is a real homey type of hostel with nice guests, so it is real easy to be here while the weather is bad.
There are no flights as visibilty is bad, I get aquainted with the other people staying here and drink tea.
Thursday & Friday is spent checking out the town, listening to a park ranger tell about Mt. McKinley and climbing expeditions to it.
I visit the local cemetery and read all the names of climbers who have died attempting to climb Mt. McKinley from many countries of the world. I was surprised of just how many have died attempting to get to the top.
This is a real cool town to hang out for awhile and meet friendly people everywhere.
I will check early tomorrow morning to see if the weather breaks and flights are going to Mt. McKinley
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 01:28 AM
August 25, 2004 GMT
(18) Alaska! The Last Frontier
Thursday August 19 2004
I leave Dawson City and drive the Top of the World Highway (Yukon Hwy #9) through the mountains.
The smoke and haze are still quite thick today, I have heard so much about the beauty of this drive but unfortunately I will not be stopping for photos along the way, just too much smoke to see any of this beautiful mountain road.
It is 127 kms from Dawson to the US border, the highway is named the Taylor Highway.
The border crossing is only open from 8:00am to 8:00pm Alaska time, 9:00am to 9:00pm Canada time so be aware your watch is running on time.
I thought I had enough of gravel for awhile but from the border to Chicken, Alaska there is 160 kms, oh well, I am well used to it from the Dempster.
Chicken, Alaska...a funny story about its name.
According to legend, the original gold mining locals wanted to name this place "ptarmigan", but no one could spell it, they named it Chicken instead...I like it!
As I continue in the mountains the smoke once again gets thicker and thicker, I can see the remnants of a once lush forest now reduced to black, leafless match sticks standing upright, it is devastating and eerie to look at, I hope all the animals made it away safely.
I have heard there are millions of acres that are burnt, I can see firefighters putting out small fires out near the road sides, small scattered fires and huge fires burning uncontrollably in the mountains out in the distance, amazing to drive through all this...and a little scary. Total devastation!
After a all day drive through the smoke & fires, I arrive in Tok, Alaska. I've heard of an motorcycles "only" campground here, it is Thompson's Eagle Claw Motorcycle Park, it is set up really well, I am all alone here and the price is right, only $5.00 .
I did see lots of motorcycles around the town as I came in, I surmise that they are in nice surroundings in their hotel/motel rooms tonight...away from the smoke.
Friday August 20 2004
Alaska- Kenai Peninsula
I drive on the Hwy #1 towards the Kenai Peninsula. The landscapes here are mountains, rivers & lakes, amazing glaciers and as I near Anchorage the smoke is less and less.
I welcome the opportunity to breathe clean, fresh air again, it smells, feels and looks good, well more than good, it is very beautiful here, the whole of Alaska!
I pass through Anchorage, it is a big city.
Maybe I'll check it out more on the way back through but for now I am more interested to be in the smaller more cosy towns in the "real" Alaska from the gold rush days.
I think I have found one as I motor into Hope, Alaska.
What a beautiful, tiny town with a lot of history and the most amazing scenic views in all directions.
I am glad to find these little gems as I talk to the locals when I stop to eat, fuel up, buy groceries, take photos or just a timeout.
Hope was a gold rush town, has charming old buildings, harkens to another time and you can see and feel a slower pace of life here, a very nice place to relax.
I walk into the restaurant and pay $5.00 for my campsite anywhere I please along the creek that is full of pink salmon at the moment.
I ask some of the locals about the origin of the name Hope.
I was told when the town founders were looking for a name, they decided that the next male person that arrived here seeking his fortune, would have the town named after his surname.
It seems ironic as Mr. Hope would have had a lot of hope to strike it rich and find his fortune.
Saturday August 21 2004
I drive along the Seward Highway and decide to check out the town of Seward.
I am not disappointed as it is situated on Resurrection Bay, with towering mountains lining its shores.
Close by are icefields with many glaciers, which many are tidewater glaciers, calving icebergs into the sea.
It is a sunny clear day and the views are breathtakingly stunning, I have the photos to prove it.
Onward towards Soldotna, Alaska.
I get many good photos of the area around Clam Gulch, famous for the large razor clams that people dig for on the beach at low tide.
This is an excellent and world famous area for fishing King (Chinook)Salmon on the Kenai river, the world record was caught here and 50-60 pounders are common.
Across the Cook Inlet there are 3 or 4 massive active volcanic mountains, most notably is Redoubt Mtn.
The sunsets are amazing and even more dramatic from the smoke & haze from the forest fires.
I want to thank Per, Gary, Grannie & Jen for there hospitality(especially the seafood extravaganza!).
You made my stay very enjoyable and it was a pleasure to meet you, your family and friends...oh and Pojken too!
Soldotna, Clam Gulch & Homer, Alaska
I spend a day in Homer, Alaska.
It is more amazing scenery as you become accustomed to in Alaska.
So much to do and see here, take flights to see the grizzly bears gorging on salmon, every outdoor activity you can imagine, the fishing is spectacular, I get many good photos of the area.
The wildlife is abundant and everywhere, especially moose and bald eagles.
I have the motorcycle serviced at the dealer in Soldotna, they look after me right away. I have been very pleased with the service from all the dealers I have been into on my trip.
That is what keeps customers coming back...good, friendly service people!
Wednesday August 25 2004
I have fond memories of the Kenai Peninsula, its beauty and the friendly people I met there.
I backtrack over the same roads that got me here, it is still so amazing to see all of this again. Once I reach Anchorage I just drive through not wanting to stop.
I have a town that I have been thinking about exploring.
I received an email from a friend that had raved about this town and its surrounding areas like: Mt. McKinley and Denali National Park.
My plan is to see Denali, then Fairbanks and loop back down to Haines, Alaska.
It is here that I have thought about boarding an Alaskan ferry to take the 3 1/2 day voyage through the famous Inside Passage.
I have heard all people rave about this and it has been on my mind the whole trip.
The town I am talking about is called Talkeetna, Alaska.
I arrive to a very interesting, quirky little town.
It has old historical buildings and is the headquarters for climbing expeditions to Mt. McKinley, which at 20,320 ft. (6,194 meters) is the tallest mountain in North America.
It is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise, with fishing, hunting & backpacking are world class.
But the real reason I came here was to take a flight in and around Mt. McKinley and land on one of the glaciers.
I camp at the rivers edge campground, all is well.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 12:06 AM
August 19, 2004 GMT
(17) Inuvik, N.W.T.
Tuesday August 17 2004
Inuvik, which means "Living Place" in Inuvialuktun is the largest and the first planned town north of the Arctic Circle, the government and transporataion hub for the Western Arctic.
Inuvik is also the main headquarters for the oil and gas industry operating in the BeaufortSea/Mackenzie Delta.
Today it is a sunny,warm day.
I walk around the town with camera in hand, enjoying the day and meeting the friendly local people.
I take photos of Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church (Igloo Church) and the Inuvik Community Greenhouse, the most northern greenhouse in North America and the only one of its kind in the world (converted from an old ice hockey arena)
One thing that struck me was that all the satellite dishes were pointing down towards the earth.
Inuvik is 2 degrees north of the Arctic Circle, I guess I am quite north on the latitude scale.
I also had to stop in a little takeaway restaurant and try one of their caribou burgers... it was delicious!
I have my photos burned to cd-rom at the local library.
The librarian is very helpful as are all of the local people up here, you can feel their warmth and sincerity.
I spend a relaxing day and ready myself for the long haul back down the Dempster, not really looking forward to this gravel road again but I have no choice.
I just want to make it back one in one piece...the bike & me...that is my goal!
Wednseday August 18 2004
I pack up camp and leave Inuvik at 6am.
Not so far down the road it is evident that the wind has blown the smoke from the forest fires back this way, it starts as haze and gradually is so thick that I can barely see anything at all except the road a short ways in front of me.
It is a very low lying brown smoke up in the mountains, no photos, no stops through here, I just motor and it seems like many hours before I can see anything that is recognizable.
It is like driving through a tunnel of smoke, a little eerie and I don't enjoy to breathe this stuff constantly.
I decide to drive straight through as there is so much smoke & haze that it is not worth while stopping, I can't really enjoy the views as there is nothing to see.
Twice I just about dump the bike as I was going too fast and both times went from ok road to deep gravel, the back end of the bike was fishtailing wildly, I could only back off on the throttle and try to control it.
Amazingly I did not dump it, skill or luck?
A bit of both but I slow down and make it eventually back to something that looks like asphalt, "Yes", I made it!
I get back to Dawson at 8:30 pm, check in at the campground, leave the tent in the bike and take a bed in the dorm room, have a nice wash in the bath house.
I think that it was quite an achievement to do the Dempster Highway on a heavy Harley, with no punctures or problems.
I am so impressed with the Yukon Territory, it is unbelievable!
On to Alaska tomorrow.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 06:12 PM
August 16, 2004 GMT
(16) The Dempster Highway
Sunday August 15 2004
A nice day for a drive up the Dempster.
1,472 kilometers return on a very rough, gravel & rock, tire slicing sharp shale rock road.
As I begin, it is difficult to adjust to the gravel, but I have driven gravel roads before so I have cofidence in my ability, I'm just a little unsure of this heavy bike on these roads.
I drive 60 kms/hr or less, it is slow going to start with.
I take it 1 km at a time, sometimes I think it will be too much on the bike, but I push on.
I meet other cars, vans, trucks, RV's, campers and big tractor trailers hauling freight.
I have to pull over carefully to the sides of the road when I meet someone as it is so dusty and rocks flying everywhere.
People were saying many things to me beforehand like, I was crazy to take a new Harley Davidson up the Dempster Highway, I wouldn't have any paint left on it "if" I got back to Dawson.
I was beginning to wonder if I'd made the right call by continuing.
Something inside kept saying, relax, enjoy the beauty, I don't have to rush, keep alert, I had to try.
I see a red fox stroll across the road with a grouse in its mouth, probably bringing dinner home to the young ones.
Near the 192 km marker I see something up ahead on the road, it looks like a man walking on the roadside.
As I approach closer i see that it is a bear, it hears me and goes into the scrub, I pass that spot that I last saw it and stop about 25-30 meters.
I am excited and hopeful that i will see my first grizzly bear in the wild.
I turn off the bike, ready it for a fast getaway (in my mind anyway) and stand with camera in hand ready for the grizzly photos.
I'm just hoping that he will want to cross the road and go up towards the ridge in the distance.
The bear comes up out of the ditch, smells towards me and looks at me, crosses the road and walks up towards the ridge.
I click away at the camera and hope for the best, all the time not even thinking about what if it comes after me.
It looked like a juvenile bear, not the big burly, big headed bear with the hump on their back, but it is brown so I am confident that it is a grizzly bear.
I continue and think about how lucky I was to have a bear sighting.
All along the way the views are just awesome to behold, everything feels so pristine, so untouched, the water in the rivers are so clear you can see all on the riverbed, almost looks as if there is no water in them, amazing!
I rumble into Eagle Plains, the first stop, 369 kms from mile 0, I look at my fuel gauge and there is almost a 1/4 tank of fuel still in there.
So much for needing the extra little gas can.
It is simple, go slower...save fuel!
Fuel up, fill up my water bottle but the fuel attendant tells me where where to stop up further and fill up on cold, clean glacial water from a river.
I stop often to take photos, the scenery is so beautiful, I hope I have enough space on my cameras card for all the photos.
The weather has been georgeous today, the wind has changed and blown all the smoke from the forest fires back to the direction they came from, I seize the opportunity and try to get a lot of photos because the wind could shift directions at any time.
I stop beside a big sign that states that you have reached the Arctic circle, I am very happy that I made it this far.
Originally my goal was to make it to the Arctic circle on my motorcycle.
Two nice ladies that I met along the way earlier take my photo for me.
There is still a few hours of daylight, I push on.
I reach the Yukon/N.W.T. border and the views here are fantastic.
Not so long before the border I see caribou out on the plains and then the local Inuit people walking with big packs on their shoulders, they are bringing the caribou that they've shot out to their vehicles, we wave and I push on.
As I get more photos at the border I begin to think I will just pitch my tent somewhere off the road and spend the night here, what a view from my tent!
What an awesome day! Saw my first grizzly, crossed the Arctic Circle and camping on the Yukon/N.W.T. border.
I'm all alone at this amazing spot...then I start to think about what if there is any bears near by.
There are no trees here as I am way above the tree line so I should be able to see anything that is coming.
I eat & make tea...a fantastic day!
Monday August 16 2004
I wake early, eat breakfast, have a filter coffee, pack up camp and set out with intentions to get to Inuvik, the end of the road.
I get to Fort McPherson and catch the ferry over the river, onto Tsligehtchic where I wait for another ferry to cross over the MacKenzie River, the longest river in Canada (second longest in North America to the mighty Mississippi) covering a distance of around 1,800 kms.
I push on and suddenly I come onto asphalt again, Alright!
I've made it to Inuvik, I am quite proud to get the bike & me here in one piece, but I don't celebrate as I am only half way...but still pretty happy.
I met a motorcyclist yesterday and one today, they were on BMW's.
We stopped to chat some and it was good to know that others were on the road and that they were both on their way back down, one was made for gravel and the other was a street bike.
The street bike was complaining about the truckers not slowing down when they passed him and I found out later that he dumped his on the slippery when wet shale.
When water comes into the mix it is almost impossible to drive on this stuff, you better stop, make camp and wait out the rain.
I got a taste of the slippery roads earlier today when the few miles that were under construction was watered early in the morning so as to compact it better...well let me tell you.
Have you ever driven 1,000lbs. of motorcycle(me & stuff included) over marbles or soap.
I had sweat on my brow trying to keep the bike upright, it felt like it was going to go out from underneath me at the first second that I made a mistake, very interesting to say the least.
I was real happy it was only for a few kms.
I stay at the local campground right in the town, another cool town.
A very helpful Info center, all the locals are very friendly.
The people say hi when we meet and want to talk and ask where you come from, a very friendly place to be.
It reminded me of the friendly people from the Maritimes and Newfoundland, nice folk!
The weather is sunny and beautiful in Inuvik.
I walk the streets to explore, buy groceries (quite expensive up here, gets crazy in the winter or if supplies can't get through for some reason) and just enjoy this place.
I will sleep well tonight.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 06:33 AM
August 14, 2004 GMT
(15) The Yukon & The Alaskan Highway
Tuesday August 10 2004
Another sunny, beautiful, hot day. I love it!
I pass through the most amazingly beautiful landscpes, it takes your breath away!
Mountains, rivers, lakes everywhere, so much to photograph, awesome scenery.
I pass through Buckinghorse River, Prophet River, Fort Nelson, Northern Rocky Mtns. Park, Stone Mtn., Toad River, Muncho Lake and Liard Hot Springs.
Along the way I see mtn. goats, sheep and caribou.
I stop to buy some octane booster to carry with me as fuel stops are long distances in between and they all don't have premium unleaded.
I buy the lower regular unleaded and add a bit of octane booster, the bike runs like the well oiled machine that it is.
After a long, hot, dusty day I reach my destination, Liard Hot Springs.
People have told me about these relaxing, soothing, hot pools with natural water temperatures of around 40 Celcius.
The campground is situated a nice walk from the springs, it was almost too hot for me to stay in. After about a half hour it zapped the last remaining energy left in my body and I more or less floated back to the tent. This was the first sort of wash I had had for about 3 days, good thing I am alone on the bike...not bathing keeps the bugs away :-)
Wednesday August 11 2004
The day started with sun, then cloudy, got rained on a few times, showers and ended up sunny again.
Soon after leaving Liard early in the morning I pass a huge herd of Bison grazing on both sides of the road, the only body part moving were their jaws from chewing cud, it all looked surreal.
I stopped, unsure if it was wise to get off the bike and get good close photos. These are massive steam roller sized animals, I envisioned one bolting, the rest following and trampling the bike & me...so I watched for a few minutes and moved on slowly...no photos of dancing with buffaloes today!
The road crosses into the Yukon, back into B.C. and back into the Yukon to stay.
I have to say that of all the places I have been to in the world, this part of Canada has some of the most fantastic scenery I have ever seen.
I can't really describe it good enough, it is something to see with your own eyes.
I pass through Contact Creek, Iron Creek & stop in Watson Lake to fuel up and check out the famous "Signpost Forest".
There are over 53,000 signs now, it grows by over a 1,000 per year.
Check out the Wiarton Willie sign!
I didn't erect one for Owen Sound nor did I take the time to see if I could find one from Owen Sound, but I bet there is one.
Onwards through Teslin, Johnson' Crossing, Jakes Corner and Whitehorse, Yukon.
I check out the town, talk to the local people, nice helpful info center, I really like Whitehorse and the campground is situated and set up very well, a pleasure to be here!
Thursday August 12 2004
I spend today checking out Whitehorse and the area.
What a really cool town.
I meet Matt from Iowa on a HD Fatboy at the campground.
We drive into Yukon Harley Davidson and I buy a heated vest.
I've been thinking about this for sometime, it is a purchase I am sure will come in handy on this trip and others.
They have just uncrated and assembled a new 2005 HD Softail Deluxe....Wow!
This softail is one of the sweetest HD's I have ever seen!...maybe I will deal mine after the trip and get myself one of these :-)
I drive to Skagway, Alaska.
The road here is just stunning, massive mountains, glaciers, rivers and lakes.
I almost can't believe the beauty and once I am in the old goldrush town of Skagway I am greeted by 4 cruiseliners with 5,000 touists on each one.
The shops are full of people buying everything in sight, I check it out and head back to the amazing scenery from where I came from.
I learned that Willy G, the HD people and VIP's will be here on the weekend for riding/press-photo ops and schmoozing, would be cool to meet Willie G sometime.
Friday August 13 2004
Oh Oh, friday the 13th.
Should I stay put today?
No, I drive on the Hwy. #2 from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon.
More amazing beauty all along the highway today, I pass through Carmacks, Pelly Crossing and into Dawson.
A really cool goldrush town, still with authentic dirt roads throughout the town. I like the look and feel of this town.
I visit the N.W.T. info center and ask/read/inquire about motorcycling up the famous, gravelled Dempster Highway all the way to Inuvik, N.W.T. crossing the Arctic Circle.
Now that sounds like something I want to do oneday, not sure when I will get back to visit so I better check it out and see if it is possible?
Saturday August 14 2004
A nice summer day in Dawson, they have weekend festivities taking place, arts & craft show, a parade through the town, a good time to be here and relax.
I take in some museums to read and learn about those exciting gold rush days of Dawsons' past.
It sounds very romantic but I can read & see that not many struck it rich, there were many hardships and the weather to overcome.
At the hostel/campground I meet 2 dutch men on 2 Honda 50cc. motorscooters that are driving them from Anchorage, Alaska all the way to Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina.
They say they will make it in 8 months, pretty amazing chore ahead of them, drive on I say!
This evening I take in the show at Diamond Tooth Gerties Gambling Hall.
I sat up in the balcony, kept one eye on the dancing girls and the other on all the gamblers down below.
It was a good show & music, everyone was behaved, no brawls or flying chairs to be seen, but I did go home about 10pm, maybe things livened up later.
When I was in town today I bought a small plastic gas can, the first fuel stop on the Dempster Highway is just about the limit of my full tank will take me, so I guess that means that I will be attempting to drive the Dempster.
I lay awake thinking about my drive alone on a heavy old HD with street tires, the ones that get sliced to pieces and I don't carry spares, it takes awhile before I doze off.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 02:36 AM
August 09, 2004 GMT
(14) Northern BC bound
Sunday August 08 2004
I have had a good rest and look around Vancouver Island and the lower mainland, I am getting itchy feet to find out what lies ahead up north in British Columbia, the Yukon, Alaska and possibly the North West Territories.
I drive north on hwy. #99 and connect to #97, which I follow all the way to the B C/Yukon border. Along the way I pass through 100 Mile House, Williams Lake (home of great canadian Rick Hansen), Quesnel and Prince George.
I camp at provincial parks along the way, very beautiful parks, nice camping sites and meet a lot of nice people, tourists and locals.
The Alcan Highway (Alaskan-Canadian Highway) starts in Dawson Creek, BC and goes to Watson Lake on the BC/Yukon border where it changes to Hwy #1 through the Yukon and then to Hwy # 2 in Alaska, where it ends up in Fairbanks, Alaska. The total distance of the Alaska Highway is 2,435 kms. (1,522 miles)
I pass through towns called Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, and camp for the night at Charlie Lake, 11 kms north ofFort St. John.
I say hello to the people camping beside me in a RV, they are from New Zealand.
They invite me to join them, there names are Arthur & Marta, Ernie & Heidi.
They are so nice, just as I remember the Kiwi's when I visited New Zealand years ago.
We chat the night away, I politely refuse a bowl of fresh fruit cocktail but they won't hear any of that...it is delicious!
I say goodnight and walk to my campsite.
As I get to my tent in the pitch black darkness I hear a large animal rustling around directly behind my campsite.
It is big and I surmise by the sound of the noise it has to be a bear or a moose.
I was leaning towards it being a moose.
I thought to myself that I didn't want it hanging around looking for food or keeping me awake.
If it was a bear I would not sleep so sound, always thinking is he still around here.
So I quietly found a good size rock and threw it as hard as I could in the dircetion of the noise.
WOW! It had to be a moose or maybe even a steamroller as the crashing of the trees and branches as it plowed back through the bush was deafening.
I guess I shouldn't laugh but it was real funny to me.
Makes up for some of the times I had the shit scared out of me late at night after something gave me a fright.
Monday August 09 2004
The scenery is beautiful rivers, mountains, lakes and prime pasture land.
I was behind a big logging truck and thought I would pass him as you tend to eat a lot of dust, wood chips & bits behind them big rigs.
The roads were not so straight so I stayed behind for awhile.
Suddenly, I spot a huge moose in front of the logging truck, he stands there and seemingly challenges the trucker to a duel...which I'm sure the moose would lose.
The trucker hasn't much time, he locks up the brakes, there is smoke & screeching rubber just in front of me, I lay back and put my odds on the truck winning this battle.
I am thinking to myself all the time that I better get the camera ready to get a few shots of the front of this logging truck after he hits the moose, if there is anything left to take a photo of.
At the last split second this moose heads to the ditch, barely missing his fate, fresh moose burgers!
The trucker barrels on, I get to eat the smell of burnt rubber and no moose burger photos.
As I do pass him I give the trucker the thumbs up, a job well done to keep this big rig on the road and giving Mr. Moose another day to play chicken on the Alaskan highway.
It was towards the end of the day when I am passed by police cars and think it is me they are after.
They pass at light speed like I am standing still.
Next come ambulances and then I hear on my FM radio that there has been an accident and that traffic has stopped.
Eventually I come to the scene, just in front of a roadside diner I can see one vehicle that is to the side with its front end banged up.
As the policewoman waves me to proceed I can see 2 policeman pull and drag a mangled piece of metal away from the frontside of this vehicle.
I'm not so sure what it is or what it used to be, I guess a quad bike or motorcycle.
It always makes me think and be more aware of my surroundings, if that is possible.
Time to setup camp after another long day, 617 kms today.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 11:06 PM
July 30, 2004 GMT
(13) July in Beautiful British Columbia!
I spend the month of July in British Columbia.
The weather is so pleasant, dry, sunny and warm, quite a difference from the east of Canada this summer.
I explore all the local sites, hike in the mountains, lakes, rivers and the awesome scenery that is around every corner here.
I take the opportunity to mtn. bike, hike and swim in the mtn. lakes, see Vancouver and go for a hike to Cape Scott on the northern most point of Vancouver Island.
This was really awesome and so beautiful.
Camping on a pristine beach, excellent weather, awesome sunsets and was lucky to catch the northern lights one night.
I also drive to Bellingham, Washington to visits more old travel friends.
When I am there I get a new rear tire put on (17,000kms) the bike and have it serviced.
I also visit Salt Spring Island, a really beautiful island close to Vancouver Island.
It is a real pleasure to see these lovely places and meet the friendly people that live here, very lucky to live here I would say!
There is so much to see and do here, look for my photos and you'll see for yourself!
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 08:02 PM
June 29, 2004 GMT
(12) 2nd Leg, Headin' West
Saturday June 26 2004
Well, I wasn't home so long, 2 days.
I have the bike serviced at GT Cycle in Shallow Lake, Greg also installs the heated grips I bought in Halifax, I'm sure they'll come in handy in the northwest and Alaska.
I am excited about seeing the Rocky Mountains, British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska, the motorcycle is running great and I have many kilometers to cover, no time like the present.
I book a place for myself & motorcycle on the Chi-Cheemaun ferry from Tobermory, Bruce Peninsula to South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island on Georgian Bay.
The reason is to save some time instead of driving around Georgian Bay and I enjoy to relax on the ferry.
I am lucky in that I learn that a friend, Jeff Warner will be on the same ferry and we will drive together north to Terrace Bay, home of his brother and an old childhood friend of mine. a good ride and my first overnight stop going west.
We rise early for the hour ride to Tobermory, a nice calm sunny morning
sail across, we enjoy the ride through beautiful north Georgian Bay and Lake Superior along Hwy#17 which is part of the Trans Canada Highway.
After a few fuel ups, some lunch in Sault Ste. Marie we roll into Terrace bay around dinner time. Not long before Terrace Bay we see 2 black bears along the rodaside.
We arrive at friends Jack & Kelly Warner's house, have a delicious dinner and relaxing evening visiting with them.
Sunday June 27 2004
I leave towards Thunder Bay early morning, the skies are clear, sunny and a great day for putting some kilometers on my bike.
I stop at the Terry Fox Memorial in Thunder Bay to take some photos, a great tribute to an amazing Canadian.
Amazing country to drive through, lakes, rivers, mountains & wilderness, it is so vast and beautiful.
I only stop for fuel ups, eat some of my food and to stretch my legs, it is my plan to see how far I can ride safely before I get too tired, then stop for the night.
I reach the Ontario/Manitoba border, then Winnepeg and call it a night when I cross into the Saskatchewan border.
I pitch my tent beside an tourist information building and sleep like a baby, a good days ride today, about 1,303 kms.
Monday June 28 2004
I wake early and pack up camp.
A young woman pulls into the parking lot and promptly falls asleep, I'm sure she must have driven all night, she has the car packed full of her belongings, including her husky dog who doesn't look so tired.
A cowboy in his pickup stops wondering if the info building is open to use the facilities.
It is quite busy for 6 am.
Everyone talks about how flat the prairies are, actually it is really quite flat not long after you leave Winnepeg, Manitoba.
Another long day in the saddle on the Trans Canada Highway, I pass through Saskatchewan and into Alberta and on to Calgary.
It is at this point when I am getting excited about the Rocky Mountains, but first I wonder about all these black thunder clouds I am heading straight towards and what I am in for, they look very mean.
Through Calgary and with the Rockies in sight, I luckily somehow miss the rain storm and head for Banff National Park.
Wow! You feel like a speck of sand in the ocean riding a motorcycle along side these guargantuan beautiful rock monsters.
It is hard to keep your eyes on the road with these mountains all around you but I manage to steer into the city of Banff, ask for the Youth Hostel and make my way through this lovely tourist filled town and enquire about a dorm bed for the night, it is raining and I am wimping out not wanting to setup camp in the rain.
This Youth Hostel is probably one of the nicest I have ever been to in all my years of travelling, it is awesome.
The backdrop of mountains is breathtaking, there is not much to say.
Take the photo and enjoy!
What a drive today, to end up here and have a nice firm bed in this place is awesome, 1165 kms today. I check out the town, the scenery, eat some dinner, sleep well & fast.
Tuesday June 29 2004
On the road early after muesli, bananas and coffee, my regular breakfast.
I have to stop at Lake Louise for photos on my way through the Rockies.
You can not imagine how beautiful this place is, it is almost not real looking, if you know what I mean, awesome!
On through Yoho National Park and then Rogers Pass in Glacier Nat'l Park.
The views and scenery here are unbelievable, especially on a motorcycle when the weather is perfect like today.
I continue on the Trans Canada Highway through Revelstoke, Sicamous, Salmon Arm, Kamloops and Cache Creek.
It is at this point that I take highway #99, a very scenic, mountainous 2 lane road through amazing country.
I pass through Pavillion and then a town called Lillooet.
It is here that I encounter massive forest fires, the temperature begins to really climb and it gets quite hazy with smoke.
I can now see the sky lit up in a orange ball of fire around the other side of the mountain, right where the road leads to...in the daylight!
About this time I start to feel a little queasy, I have not made enough water stops today and I am dehydrated, the air is so hot and I am suddenly thinking, "Oh shit, If I faint now I am going to wreck this new motorcycle way out here in the middle of nowhere."
So, I stop for awhile and drink my nearly hot water and find some shade, watch the fires and listen to the water bombers & helicopters battling the forest fires.
I continue on but still feel like I could faint at any minute, really lightheaded.
I stop along the way for photos of the fires, stop on bridges to catch the cold breeze from the waterfalls, anything to cool down some.
I make my way to Pemberton, buy Gaterade & Powerbars, try to rehydrate and get some energy back in my system, still not working yet.
I pass Whistler, one of the worlds most renowned ski villages & resorts. There are as many mountain bikers on the hills as skiiers in winters, an all year round used resort.
I continue on to Squamish, a nice town surrounded by mountains and shear cliffs, a rock climbers paradise.
It is here that I will spend some relaxing time with an old travel friend I met years ago in Israel.
It will be good to get off the bike and explore this beautiful place.
I want to go mountain biking and hiking in these amazing mountains and see more of Vancouver.
I will also visit friends in the area and just south of the border in Washington State.
I look forward to seeing more of Vancouver Island and B.C. the Yukon and Alaska.
I spend the night rehydrating and hope not to make this mistake again, another lesson learnt, stop often and drink water in the heat.
I guess I didn't realise it until it was too late, must have thought I was still in eastern Canada in the cool & wet.
Well, it was only a few days ago that I was in Newfoundland driving beside icebergs and hoping for a little warmth, quite a difference a few days makes, east to west coast.
I'll enjoy this and get ready to go north again. 902 tough, hot kilometers today, I'll let the bike rest for a couple days now.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 11:43 PM
June 23, 2004 GMT
(11) Lord Tundering Jesus Bye, it's Newfoundland!
Tuesday June 15 2004
Welcome to Newfoundland!
It is a good feeling to arrive in Newfoundland, I have slept well on my dorm style bunk bed after a nice hot shower on board the ferry, first time I actually was able to sleep on a ferry, the crossing was relatively calm.
It is 6:30 am and cold hard rain awaits me as I pull onto terra firma and drive north on Hwy. #1 towards Gros Morne Nat'l Park, my first destination in Nfld.
It is cold, wet & dark and not the best welcome but I finally stop, gas up and have a nice hot coffee.
The landscapes are amazing as the morning light begins to uncover snow on the peaks of the fog shrouded mountains, I am a little disappointed as I have not seen one moose yet, they talk about seeing heaps of moose and be very careful.
I am sure I will see my share before long, hopefully at a safe distance!
On through Cornerbrook and then take Hwy. #430 at Deer Lake, take a hostel dorm bed in Rocky Harbour, a lovely fishing village just outside of Gros Morne Nat'l Park boundaries.
For many people Gros Morne National Park is the highlight of Newfoundland, a hiking and outdoor paradise, the mountains are awesome to behold.
I buy 2 live lobster at the local fisherman for $6.00 a lb. and treat myself to a home cooked lobster dinner back at the hostel kitchen, they are delicious!
A fine first day in Nfld.
Wednesday June 16 2004
I hit the road early to drive to St. Anthony, a days drive to the northern tip of the peninsula which straddles Labrador on the Strait of Belle Isle.
I am not disappointed this morning as I see about a dozen moose not long after starting out.
As I continue the rain & fog settle in, I know the ocean and the icebergs are just a few meters to my left, but I can't see anything for the thick fog, I hope I will see them further north or on my return south again, weather permitting.
I see many more moose and 3 caribou, I stop to take their photo and think that maybe they belong to someone as they are pretty much grazing like cattle, or just so used to motorists that they don't take much notice of me.
I stop at the Labrador ferry building and ask for info and ferry times, I think I will cross tomorrow to have a peek at Labrador.
Once I arrive in St. Anthony I find a B&B, check out the town, to the lighthouse for a walk around, I am told there are icebergs near but it is still thick with fog, maybe tomorrow.
The thing that I have always been told and that I find out firsthand about Nfld. is the local people, they are so genuine and friendly.
They really are the nicest people I have come across and I know all visitors to Nfld. feel the same as I do.
Thursday June 17 2004
Beautiful clear morning, I see icebergs in the bay, they are awesome to see.
I drive to the viking landing site of a 1,000 years ago called L'Anse aux Meadows, they have unearthed the remaining ruins and recreated their homes & buildings from their short few years in Canada from long ago.
It is very well done, with people in period costume, giving a good, light-hearted interpretation of life in their viking village, another must see in Nfld.
I see moose, icebergs and beautiful ocean views on my way back south again on the Viking Trail highway and just make it to the ferry at St. Barbe with 5 minutes to spare.
The crossing to Labrador is 1 1/2 hour long, we spot a large Minke whale off the port bow on the way across, an extra bonus!
Welcome to Labrador
The ferry lands at Blanc Sablon, just on the Quebec side of the provincial border with Labrador.
I drive as far as I can on the sealed road to Red Bay, Labrador.
The scenery, rivers & lakes, snow covered mountains is really amazing, everything is so pristine and untouched here, you feel like you are really somewhere isolated, it is a good feeling!
It is not so forested here, mostly scrub & brush.
This is a Speckled (Brook) Trout and Salmon fisherman's paradise.
The friendly locals fill me in on all the local happenings. The people are so friendly and funny too!
I stay at Barney's B&B in L'Anse au Loup, probably the best kept, cleanest and friendliest B&B I have stayed with.
Ask Mary to do you up a dinner and try her homemade jams, Bakeapple & Partridge Berry, you'll see what i mean.
This is a place that I definitely would like to come back to someday, there is so much to see and explore, hopefully sooner rather than later.
A real gem if you have the time.
Friday, Saturday & Sunday June 18, 19 & 20 2004
I wake up to more wet, cold weather. I catch the morning ferry back across to Nfld. and drive back to Rocky Harbour.
These next 3 days are spent exploring the beauty of Gros Morne National Park, walking & hiking, driving to Trout River, relaxing, doing laundry, emailing, talking with the other travellers staying at the same hostel.
I can't really explain on paper how special this place is, you have to see it and you will never forget it.
Monday June 21 2004
Today starts with more cold rain and very foggy.
I started out with intentions of driving onto Twilingate and then to St. John's.
My ferry from there doesn't leave for over another week and the extended forecast is more of the same, wet and cold.
The fog is so thick that I am just crawling along and hoping that Mr. Moose is not standing in my way.
By the time I reach Deer Lake I have changed my plans, decided to not finish my Nfld. portion and continue back towards Ontario.
The weather has been the biggest reason and I feel I have had a good look around the Maritimes, I have a long ways to go to British Columbia & Alaska.
It is a little disappointing, but I am happy that I have made the decision and look forward to the next leg of my trip...and hope for some sun and warm temperatures.
Once I make it to Port aux Basques the weather clears, 6 1/2 hours later I am back to North Sydney, Nova Scotia.
I drive to about 11 pm, not the wisest thing to do at night with all the moose lurking about.
I pull over and park behing a fuel station in Baddeck, Cape Briton Island, pull out my therma rest mattress and sleeping bag, lay down beside the bike...I sleep like a baby under the stars.
Tuesday June 22 2004
I wake at 5:30 am and start my jorney home, I am reserved now to drive straight home, just fuel & food stops.
I drove from Baddeck, Cape Breton Island through New Brunswick and finally pull over just outside Quebec City after I hit torrential rains.
I couldn't see and was for the first time wet underneath my rain suit.
I take a motel room for the first time, a treat I normally don't do, maybe just this once?
Wednesday June 23 2004
Not so much to tell today as I drive the 401 from Quebec City to Toronto and north to Owen Sound and home on Hwy # 10.
Strangely enough when I crossed the Quebec border into Ontario the sun came out and the temperatures soared to something I haven't felt for quite sometime.
After construction delays on the 401, rush hour traffic to & from Toronto, peeling off the long underwear, skiing turtleneck, leather jacket & chaps, I make it home to Owen sound.
It has been an amazing trip so far.
I wouldn't have changed a thing, even the weather...it is all part of the experience.
The first leg is over, I will rest a bit, not too long though as I plan to continue at a good pace to the Rockie Mts, then I will start to slow down and enjoy Alberta, British Columbia and hopefully the Yukon and Alaska.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 09:22 PM
June 14, 2004 GMT
(10) The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Isl.
Saturday June 12 2004
When people talk about Cape Breton Island they automatically talk/ask if you have been on The Cabot trail, there is a good reason for this.
It is not to be missed and one of the highlights of The Maritimes.
The landscapes, mountains, forests, Nat'l Parks, fishing villages, hiking, whale watching, amazing ocean views, rocky jagged cliffside roads, you have to experience it to appreciate it!
I enjoy my stay in Pleasant Bay at Cabot Trail Hostel, the owner's name is Jeff.
He is very helpful & has lifelong knowledge of the area, stay with him and enjoy other travellers company from around the globe, another highlight of the Cabot Trail.
I spend the day exploring and taking some excellent photos of the area.
Once back at the hostel there are other friendly travellers, hikers to talk with over dinner and join in together on the beach for sunset and a bonfire.
A good ending to a cold, windy day.
Sunday June 13 2004
Today I drive the rest of the Cabot Trail.
Make sure you deviate off the main road to see places like Meat Cove (gravel road), White Point & Neil's Harbour.
You will be glad you did, so amazingly beautiful, you will be very happy to take the extra time & kms. to see these places.
I continue towards Sydney, then to Baddeck, where I enquire about ferry times to Newfoudland.
I have to say hi and thanks to Shyla and her Mom for the help with the ferry times.
The first booking I can make for the ferry to Newfoundland is on Monday at midnight, I make the booking and drive to Louisburg, south east of Sydney that is famous for the old historical fort of Louisburg.
I set up camp at the local campground on waters edge in Louisburg.
Monday June 14 2004
Today is spent taking my time back along the coast towards Sydney when I catch the midnight ferry to Newfoundland.
I explore the city some, relax and stock up on some supplies for the ferry ride.
While waiting for the midnight ferry from North Sydney I meet a lobster fisherman named Emanuel Leamon, a very nice man who tells me quite a lot about the fishery here and in Newfoundland, as he is originally from Newfoundland.
We talk for a couple of hours and then I drive to line up for the ferry to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.
I have always heard so many good things about Nfld. from other motorcyclists & travellers, I am very much looking forward to my trip here.
The one thing that every person has warned me about is to be careful on the roads, there are many moose in Nfld, I will arrive in Newfoundland in 6 1/2 hours.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 12:59 AM
June 07, 2004 GMT
(9) Lovely Nova Scotia
Monday June 07 2004
I spend the day doing my laundry, checking emails, browsing the downtown and waterfront of Halifax, the rain is back so I don't venture so far away from the hostel.
I walk to see the impressive fort, the Citadel.
I then drive out to find the local Harley Dealer where I get an oil & filter change.
I spot a good deal on a set of heated hand grips and pick them up for $200.00, they usually sell for around $400.00 but they cannot install them today.
I hope to get them installed along the way or when I get back home.
I really could have used them on this first leg in eastern Canada.
A nice 2 days in Halifax, on to Peggy's Cove in the morning.
Tuesday June 08 2004
The bike is running well and I am excited to get going again.
The plan is to head west along the coast and around to the Bay of Fundy side of Nova Scotia and work my way towards Cape Breton Island.
First stop is Peggy's Cove, I arrive early in the morning and have it all to myself. What a beautiful, small fishing village, sort of surprised of just how small it really is, but amazingly picturesque and a good photo op.
On to Lunenburg, home of the famous sailing schooner the Bluenose.
You could spend some quality time here in this historic seaside town exploring the unique buidings and maritime architecture and shipbuilding days of long ago, another must see in N.S.
I drive along the main highway #103 and veer off to the towns & sites on the ocean, towns of Liverpool, where I make my luch and enjoy the sun by the river and get info from the local tourist info.
I make my way to Lockeport and then stop to camp in the town of Shelburne.
A nice town with old buildings and archtecture that is well looked after.
A very good provincial park, still not many campers yet, I was an easy target for the mosquitoes to feast on as again I had almost the whole place to myself.
Wednesday June 09 2004
Today I drive along the coast through the towns and fishing villages, I am so impressed with their beauty, the bushland and vast wilderness along the highway.
I have decided to explore the drive along the Digby Spit, take the 2 ferries to get to the last island called Brier Island, in the fishing town of Westport.
There I take a dorm room bed at Brier Island Backpackers and it is turns out to be a highlight of Nova Scotia.
Thursday June 10 2004
My guidebook has said that this backpackers hostel could be one of the best in Canada, well, let me also say that I think it is.
The view overlooking the harbour and bay, the islands and lighthouse is spectacular and breathtaking.
The owners, Wally & Joyce Devries are so nice & helpful, they make your stay a memorable one, the local people all wave, say hello and want to talk and ask where you come from.
It is easy to walk around the small village and enjoy the quiet and peacefullness of this quaint fishing village.
Another highlight is the whalewatching when in season.
I stop at the local fisherman and buy a pound of scallops for $7.00 and fry them up in butter, what a delicious and filling meal!
This has to be one of the most beautiful, relaxing seaside towns in all of Nova Scotia...and Canada too!
I am glad I took the time to find out about this little island at the end of the Digby Spit, one of my Eastern Canada highlights for sure!
Friday June 11 2004
I am up early to catch the ferry and to say goodbye to Wally and thank him for his hospitality, it is a special little place that I will never forget and think of fondly, just read the hostel guest book comments and you will see what I mean.
A long day on the road as I drive the length of Nova Scotia from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm and arrive in Mabou, Cape Breton Island.
Don't tell anyone but I got a speeding ticket today, it wasn't my fault though!
Famous last words!
It is a long, cold ride.
I arrive in Mabou (home of the Rankin Family) to find out that the hostel I wanted to stay at has changed to B&B/hotel type accomadation so that means much more money.
I go to Ceilidh Cottages & Campground where I am treated very well and highly recommend to stay here when in Mabou.
It is settled in the most beautiful area, the views here are amazing!
Welcome to Cape Breton Island & the Cabot Trail
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 11:38 PM
June 06, 2004 GMT
(8) Sunny, Beautiful P.E.I.
Saturday June 05 2004
I spend the day driving in sunny weather on the western half of PEI.
Summerside, up to Tignish, take in the little country backroads along the coast, through the farmlands, little seaside villages, the red soil, potatoes, very clean, unspoilt, lakes, amazing beauty!
The beaches of Cavendish are so clean, unspoilt and beautiful, simply breathtaking! Not to be missed!
A very beautiful area, the home of Anne of Green Gables.
I stop in New Glasgow and treat myself to a famous Lobster Dinner.
There is seating here for hundreds of people and the bus loads of people eating here are quite regular in lobster season.
I have the 1 lb. lobster dinner with all the trimmings.
The cost is around $20.00 plus tax.
This includes all the mussels, chowder and whatever else you can eat, including desserts!
I can't explain how good the seafood is, you have to try it for yourself, mussels & chowder were awesome!
I drive back across the scenic hills & mts. to the beautiful seaside town of Victoria on the Sea.
I spend the night in a dorm bed of a B&B/Hostel
Sunday June 06 2004
Anniversary of D-Day today, lest we forget!
I drive the eastern half of PEI today.
Another sunny day, it has been very enjoyable to see the towns, villages, friendly people of PEI.
Of course my time here was not long enough, I had 2 days of georgeous weather.
I got a taste of PEI and hope to get back here again oneday and explore some more.
In the afternoon I catch the ferry from Wood Islands, PEI over to Caribou, Nova Scotia and waste no time scooting over to Halifax where I check into the local Youth Hostel in Halifax and plan to wander around this city for a few days.
Prince Edward Island was awesome!
Welcome to Nova Scotia!
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 09:58 PM
June 04, 2004 GMT
(7) New Brunswick - Gateway to Atlantic Canada
Thursday June 03 2004
I am up early, eat breakfast and on the road early as usual.
It is a cold, all day rain today, about 7 degrees celcius.
I am surprised at the extent of wilderness in New Brunswick, both sides of the road is thick forest that goes on forever, very beautiful landscapes.
Up ahead on the highway 2 moose dart across in front of me, I can see why they can surprise you with their speed, it seemed like only 2 seconds and they were across the road, not much time for you to react if they are in your path.
I slow down and crawl to a stop to try for a photo.
A mother and her young one, which is almost as big as the mother, they are huge animals.
They don't pose for long, the rumble of the motor scares them into the bush before I get stopped.
I have been told about the Acadian Historic Village and i pull into take the tour through.
It has been highly recommended to me and look forward to get out of the rain also.
But, it is not my day.
They do not actually open until Sunday for the tourist season.
Oh well, back on the road and into the rain, not much of a respite from the weather.
I continue along highway # 11, around the coast and stop late afternoon and treat myself to a warm, dry room in a B&B called Maison Touristique Gugas in Caraquet, N.B.
It happens to be the oldest B&B in Canada, the owner tells me all about the history of the area, the B&B, his family and the Acadians, very interesting and very unique house kept in its original condition throughout, enjoyable stay and highly recommend it.
Friday June 04 2004
Another wet day to drive in.
I am used to it now, I am very glad to have my CD/AM/FM player to help make the rain a little less noticeable.
I drive through Kouchibouguac Nat'l Park, stop for fish 'n chips in Shediac and decide to head for the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island, maybe I can find some sun on PEI.
Famous last words!
I drive to Charlottetown with intentions to stay at the Youth Hostel.
When I finally get the directions and arrive the sign on the front door says it has been closed for sometime.
My Lonely Planet travel guide for Canada is about 2 years old and it has closed since the latest print.
Now I am resigned to try for B&B's and it will be getting dark soon, still raining on & off and I am tired and hungry.
All the B&B's are filled up, no vacancies. They all refer me to others and eventually find one with one empty bed.
There is sun in the forecast for tomorrow!
Famous last words!
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 08:45 PM
June 02, 2004 GMT
(6) La Gaspesie
Wednesday June 02 2004
Even though the weather has not been cooperating the best, I am so happy to put on all my warm clothes, leathers and rain suit and start on the road early each morning.
I have been really excited to be in Quebec, especially the beauty of the Gaspe Peninsula on a motorcycle.
The people here have been fantastic, there is no language problem, just try to learn a few of the basic words, let them know you are trying to speak some french and you will be very much rewarded.
I drive through Forillion National Park, it is awesome scenery here, amazing little towns and fishing villages all along the way.
The water close to shore is littered with the different colours of the lobster fisherman's buoy markers.
Towns of Gaspe with the International Appalachian Trail, it stretches from here to Key West, Florida; and Perce, with its huge chunk of limestone with a hole in it making for an amazing photo op just off shore.
The rain begins very hard late afternoon when I make it to my night's stop at Point a la Garde, Quebec.
I have read about this very unique hostel just off the highway here, it is built out of wood to resemble a castle, with turrets, spires and the like.
I meet the owner who gives me all the answers to my questions about this amazing place.
You really have to see it to believe it, nestled away from the road in the forest.
You drive up to it and are amazed at what greets you here, a medievel looking castle made of wood. All the rooms have stairs and a little balcony to it. I don't think there are many hostels like this in all the world.
Stay for a night and speak to Jean, he is very interesting to talk with and they make up very good dinners.
It rains all night, but I have a little heater in my room, on to New Brunswick tomorrow.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 12:14 AM
June 01, 2004 GMT
(5) The Gaspe Peninsula, Que.
Tueasday June 01 2004
I drive north along the coast to Forestville where I catch the fast Catamaran ferry for the 40 kms. trip across the St. Lawrence to the south shore and the Gaspe Peninsula, it takes about 55 minutes for the crossing.
Weather is very wet, cold & grey day, seems to be normal, although I had 2 very nice days in Tadoussac.
It was a very rough, rock n roll type of a ride across to Rimouski.
The ferry guys helped me with the tie down straps to anchor the bike down to the deck.
Once on our way it was so rough and violent that the people could not even walk around the boat without running on the spot to compensate, it was funny to see as we all looked liked we were very drunk, running around the aisles, hanging onto and crashing into each other.
The locals must be used to it as I never saw one person getting seasick.
I was initially very nervous for my motorcycle, thinking that it would be laying on its side or even upside down when we reached Rimouski.
The ferry workers would come up every once in awhile and reassure me that the bike was still standing or to tell me that they had strapped on 2 more tie downs and that I should not worry, "Everything is ok"! as they grinned ear to ear.
I guess they must have seen the worried look on my face.
Not knowing if the bike was sliding from side to side, front to back down below, but in the end it was standing in the same spot as I left it.
They were good guys and made sure the bike was secure as the big catamaran was rolling side to side, it was just like an amusement park ride included in the price of the ticket! Bonus!
As we disembark, it is lashing rain, but i am excited about the Gapse as I have heard much about it.
East from Rimouski around Matane the landscape begins to take on a dramatic change, rugged forests, high cliffs, waterfalls, more remoteness, the towns dwindle in size and the north shore begins to disappear from sight.
I am really awestruck at the beauty of 'La Gaspesie.'
I stop in at a B&B in the tiny village of De L'Anse Pleureuse, a nice room with bath, tv, kitchen, the works!
I treat myself to a nice long hot bath, it has been so cold and wet pretty much since I left home.
It is not relly ideal camping weather, does not make any sense to pull into a camp site in the rain, setup the tent in the cold & wet, freeze the night and then pack up in the wet.
I used to do that all the time, I am sure there is better weather ahead.
Famous last words!
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 11:03 PM
May 31, 2004 GMT
(4) The Mighty St. Lawrence Seaway
Monday May 31 2004
Tadoussac is a real gem of a village, very beautiful, lots of history, adventure sports, hiking, sea kayaking, exploring up the fjord, whale watching, friendly people, just a really cool place to hang out and relax.
It was the first fur-trading post in European North America in 1600, 8 years before Quebec City was founded.
Tadoussac pretty much shuts down November to May.
You will not be disappointed here, only when it gets so busy.
I was here early enough to avoid the crowds and enjoyed my time here very much.
I went with about 15 others on a whale watching trip in a Zodiac, we saw white Beluga whales and Minke whales.
It was a little pricey for $50.00 CAD, but I decided to bite the bullet and pay it, was worth the price to see the whales, the beauty of the St. Lawrence and the fjord for the 3 hour trip.
I stayed 2 nights at the local youth hostels called Maison Majorique & Maison Alexis.
They have bar, resuarant, tours, very helpful & friendly, highly recommend this place.
The second is owned by the same people, I had to move because of groups coming in, was pleasantly surprised to stay in this old, unique and supposedly haunted house.
I slept well and didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary, although the young girl volunteer working here was a little unsure, it was her first night working here and I think the others must have spooked her with stories about the old woman who used to own and live in this old house.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 10:04 PM
May 30, 2004 GMT
(3) Tadoussac, Quebec
Sunday May 30 2004
I pack up camp and leave early towards Montreal on Hwy. # 40 along the North Shore of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Another cold, windy day with some sun & mostly cloud cover.
No stops in Montreal, Trois-Rivieres or Quebec City except for fuel, it is my plan to make it to Tadoussac today in decent time so I hump it straight through.
I've got places to go, things to do and people to see!
Montreal has a real European type feel to the city and Quebec City is very beautiful with its stone walls around the perimeter of the old city, stone buildings, its old architecture & history, these two cities are well worth exploring as I have previously found out.
After Quebec city the Hwy. changes to #138, all the way to Tadoussac and beyond, it hugs the north shore of the St. Lawrence when the road stops at Natashquan and your only means of travel east is by the weekly ferry that makes 2-3 hourly stops at the villages along the way to the Quebec/Labrador border.
I visited Labrador for one day, read about that later in the Newfoundland section.
There must have been a rally or a ride today because there were so many motorcycles out and about, especially Harleys.
I stop to catch the free ferry ride across the Saguenay River to Tadoussac, a tiny village of under 1000 people, which explodes with thousands of tourists to see the main attraction- whales!
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 08:57 PM
May 29, 2004 GMT
(2) Beautiful Quebec
Saturday May 29 2004
From Algonquin Park I drive in cool, sunny weather towards Montreal where i camp just outside of a town called Hudson, a few kms west of Montreal.
Has been enjoyable driving, listening to my cd's and the local FM stations along the way.
I find it cold, I'm wearing my long underwear, turtleneck ski shirt, jeans, leather chaps & jacket, a fleece pullover, a fleece jacket and my gortex rain gloves.
Beware of the police right at the province border from Ontario into Quebec, they are there to greet you with handheld radar guns and don't look so friendly or welcoming to me. I smile & wave, good thing I notice them pull one unlucky driver over first. Welcome to Quebec!
Once I have my tent setup, a nice hot shower and something to eat, I walk over with my Quebec map and ask some local campers about info on the area.
The people are very friendly and helpful, they tell me about a nice town past Quebec City on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River called Tadoussac. After a few minutes I have tomorrows destination planned, Tadoussac, Que.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 09:48 PM
May 28, 2004 GMT
(1) Headin' East
Friday May 28-2004 to ?
The Plan (sort of) is to drive through the Maritime Provinces, including Newfoundland, back to Ontario through Maine, New Hampshire & New York State. A brief rest stop home, then west to British Columbia and north to Alaska, returning to Ontario via Canada/USA ? As always, things change from second to second, if I get a good tip about somewhere or the weather makes for a detour, a short or extended stay, then I take the locals advice and it works out 99.9 % of the time. Real invaluable information from the people of the region, better than any guide book or map can ever tell you.
Firstly, I want to say that I am dedicating this trip to Pernille, she will be riding with me and is never too far away in my thoughts.
Jeg haber mine dansk familie og venner kan forstaa den engelsk tekst.
I am starting from Owen Sound, Ontario. Driving towards eastern Canada on my 2004 Electra Glide Classic with all my camping gear, no real expectations, just to live, feel, explore & breathe.
Friday May 28 2004- A very good feeling to hit the road and drive eastwards, the weather is cold & gusty, but it doesn't really matter! Good to feel the wind in my face, as they say!
I take the scenic route to Algonquin Park(HWY's # 26, 11 and 60), one of Ontario's best and most well known parks. One warning, beware of the moose in the park along the sides of the roads, in the puddles & swamps AND ON THE ROADS! They will stop you very quickly, I don't want to envision that. The black flies are so thick this time of year that it drives the moose out onto the roads and the salt that they use on the roads in winter gets washed to the sides in spring, they use/need that in their diets also.
The park is beautiful, nice sites(aprox. $20.00 per site)lots of trails to hike, a real paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
Fuel prices are quite high just now, I use premium (91, 92 0ctane and up), it costs over $1.00CAD and up per liter.
I will have my little digital Canon A80 camera with me this time, I hope it works out and will post some photos on this site sometime soon.
I am using libraries, internet cafe's as my internet link to send, recieve mail and contact family & friends.
I want to thank Grant & Susan Johnson for the best Motorcycle Travellers Website on the internet, bar none!
I will be sending in a donation to their site to say thank you for the opportunity to tell my travel story.
Keep tuned for more entries.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 11:55 PM