August 18, 2007 GMT

We have just left Canada & re-enetered the US - in Montana.

Journeyed through the Yukon, British Columbia (BC) and Alberta.

Rode the Alcan Highway, the Stewart-Cassiar, the Icefields Parkway.

Was overwhelmed by the Cassiar Mountains, and The Canadian Rockies.

Embraced countless vistas of glaciers (the Bear and Salmon Glaciers in particular).

My favourite photo:

Enjoyed the wonderful towns of Stewart, Hyder, Jasper, Banff.

Recharged the spirit along the lake sides.

Met some real characters - people and animals, and caught up with great friends!

All in all - wow!!!

The Yukon is vast, heavilly wooded, and blissfully under populated. Raging white water rivers, streams loaded with trout, and a new majestic view over every crest.

I always try to find an isolated place each day - stop, boil the billy and take in the whole thing slowly.

My billy boiling set up:

Sometimes I really luck in with vistas like this:


This whole lake was hidden from view along the road by the huge trees - I found the spot & the lake by doing my usual exploring of side tracks along the way.

We had a few wet days - made it even more interesting, but even then, the views were enhanced with the heavy clouds:


This is peak vacation time in the north - with lots of motor homes everywhere.
The size of some of these is incredible - people tow a car behind the motorhome!

The most outstanding example I saw was this:


I hope this guy owns a trucking company - imagine buying a Volvo prime mover - just to pull your (huge) van (and the 4 wheel drive behind that!)

Watson Lake is a small town on the Alcan - with not a great deal happening. Seems about 50 years ago - some fellow posted a sign from his home town there because he was feeling a little lonely. Others followed, and now the "sign forest" is flourishing & is the draw card for the town:

Jeff & Susan told me they had posted their sign here when they travelled through a few years ago - I went in search - but oddly enough lucked out - only 60,000 signs guys!!!

Did find an Aussie sign though:

We stayed at a great lodge at Bell II - a heli skiing lodge - there are no ski lifts - just 2 helicopters that take you to any number of great peaks in the area. Boy, I have to come back to this place in the winter. The lodge is a collection of buildings using log cabin construction - and really swank:

The view from where I am standing:

The gym, sauna, jakuzi are in these buildings (with the sod rooves):

These log cabins have really hit a chord with me:
I find them so appealing, and would love to have a go at building one (hmmm!!!)

As this is the salmon spawning time, we were lucky to see many bears fishing & gorging themselves:




The grizzlies saunter up and down the stream, and grab one of the thousands of salmon, seemingly without any real effort. After a few fish this one came to the river bank and had a sweet desert of berries:


Looks like I am really close doesn't it. I was - but thankfully on an elevated timber viewing platform - and I am told that bears can't climb!!

I did come across one on the road - my riding buddy said "What great photo Ron - just wait there while I get the camera". Only problem was - the bear was now happily strolling towards me. The smile masks some serious arse pucker:
I was ready to hit the starter button & skedaddle - luckily he went into the bush just after this photo - as close an encounter as I ever want.

We stayed a couple of nights in a little old gold town called Stewart at the end of a a fjord. The town is very quaint (1890's style), and our digs were brilliant - restored timber buildings - using recycled material & great local artifacts ardorning the walls. At the jetty at Stewart - where timber is loaded onto ocean going ships:

Stewart seems to be going through a tasteful rebirth, with a few existing operating mines near by and new gold mines in development.

My business (Hatch) has been doing some of the feasibility study work for them - out of our Vancouver office. Keep up the good work guys - fantastic sites & awesome country.

Some interesting buildings in this area:

A fixer upper as a weekender?

How about a caravan that is really set up to stay:

I think this one is a little too far gone:

There are some really cosy cottages that appeal:

In this area we were able to get some really close views of Bear and Salmon glaciers:

Bear Glacier:


Salmon Glacier (up a long dirt road that supports some gold mines) - the road snakes up the mountain across from the glacier:




We fooled around a little & took some really hammy shots:


Mark - my riding buddy for the day - playing mountain man:

Just had to have a rest -after the strenuous ride up the mountain:

Stopped for a break & drank from a small waterfall of melting snow:

Dave (our Indian doctor who I mentioned in my last entry) - was going to leave us soon - going back to Dutch Harbour on a long ferry ride. So a shot of Dave before he left:
It was great to meet you Dave & I enjoyed out chats.

On the way down the mountain, the late summer has left some beautiful snow formations - nature's sculptures, as the sun, wind and water have their way:

The scale of these is deceptive - mountain man Mark came to the rescue - just so you can appreciate the scale of the sculpture:

This lush patch caught my eye coming down the mountain:
the vivid greens jump out at you.

I caught up with a good friend - Roger - who has just move to Vancouver. He rode with us for a few days & we had a ball:

At Lake Louise:

At the famous Banff Springs hotel:

We also caught up with Kent - a colleague from Koniambo time - who now lives in Calgary. We rode together down the Icefields Parkway (undoubtedly the best mountain road & scenery anywhere!!!) & into Calgary. Kent has a beautiful new Indian motorcycle & really looks the part:

The 3 of us having a fantastic day's ride:

Roger & I went into Calgary & visited a good friend from Hatch; Jean- Claude. It was great to spend the afternoon with him & his family. I know he reads this blog - so Jean - Claude, we are with you!

Along the way - interesting people cross your path every day, usually for a pleasant chat about the journeys we are on, often in opposite directions & so we can share our recent experiences & in so doing influence our journeys. This lady was fascinating to say the least:
Monica is Norweigan - she lives in the artic & runs dog sleds for a job. She bought this bike in Los Angeles & was travelling to Alaska on her own. A pleasure meeting you Monica!

And just to finish on a different, but frequent note (at least for me) - I have repaired a punctured tyre 3 times this week, and had to replace my rear brake pads - from all that spirited mountain riding - so here I sit in a motel car park working on the bike. Thankfully I had some spare brake pads with me - just in case!!!!

Posted by Ron Markiewicz at August 18, 2007 11:46 PM GMT

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