July 9 and 10

Sunday morning I woke up in a comfortable bed, it was nice.  We had a lazy day where we did not do much of anything.  I got a tour of Kelly’s and Dirk’s mushroom grow house and learned a bit about growing exotic mushrooms.  They are members of a co op that sells mushrooms to restaurants and such.  They are just getting started and experimenting with different types of mushrooms to see what grows best in their environment.

After I finished updating my blog we went out for a little tour of Shelton and then lunch.  Some of the places they had in mind were not open on Sunday but we found a nice tavern overlooking a small lake.

I spent one more night in a bed and then Monday packed up my gear and headed to Mount Rainier National Park.  The ride there was only about 125 miles and I arrived in the early afternoon.  I rode up to Sunrise visitors center which is above 6000 feet and gives a nice view of the Emmons glacier on the east side of the mountain.  The view is pretty amazing and I waited around a while for some clouds to clear and give a complete view of the peak.  The road up to Sunrise is very fun and I did not have to deal with too many cars.  Again the speed limits are posted to ensure I do not abide by them.  On the way down I had a clear road and in one section that is really twisty I had great fun.  I neglected to turn on my GoPro to record my awesome riding skills.  Trust me, I was braking late into the corners and hitting the apex just right to set up for the next corner.  There were several stretches of left-right-left-right-… that were great fun to traverse from one lean to the next.

I found a nice spot in the White River campground and after setting my tent went for a hike.  The forest here is lush and dense and very inviting to tramp through.  I followed the trail that leads to Glacier basin for a mile or so and then made my way down to the river and worked back along its path.  It is a very steep river and really moves fast.  The water is off of the glacier and ice cold.  There are a number of small side streams that feed into it from the adjacent mountain.  All of the rocks are fine-grained and I believe igneous being that the mountain is a volcano.  The forest coming down to the edge was very nice and I found a number of elk tracks but did not see anything larger than a squirrel.

Tomorrow I will ride through the rest of the park and then down the east side of Mount St. Helens and into Oregon.  I do not have any set destination for tomorrow night.  I can sense now that I am a lot closer to home than I have been for quite a while but I don’t need to rush there except that I miss Sandy so that is luring me there.

Back to the Lower 48

July 8

The morning arrived with clear skies and I knew it would be warm so I packed up and hit the road with no warm layers.  THe twenty miles into Lillooet were very pleasant at 60 degrees and the winding road had few cars going my direction.  I turned on my GoPro at one point before the town and captured a really cool twisty section that was one of the best stretches of the trip, stay tuned for the full length feature film.

Back at the campground four dual sport riders were encouraging me to a side road through Moha high up in the mountains.  It is paved and gravel and I considered it but ended up staying on 99 for the sixty miles to Pemberton; I am glad I did.  This is one of the most incredible stretches of mountain road I have been on.  It winds through the forest and along rivers with great corners and good pavement.  The speed is posted at 80kph; sorry Canada, I did not comply.  The entire stretch I had no cars in front of me and rode as hard as I dared.  The temperature dropped into the low 50s and was a bit cold but I did not want to stop and chance a car overtaking me that I would have to deal with later.  When I got to Pemberton it warmed up a bit and I was fine the rest of the day.  There were no places for breakfast here s I pressed on to Whistler.  From Pemberton on I was really back in the world and had cars and traffic lights to deal with.  The twenty miles to Whistler were nice but I could not ride at my pace.  Oh, well, I have to behave now.

Whistler is a beautiful resort, filled with beautiful people.  I finally found a place to eat and attracted attention because I was out of place in my bug splattered riding gear and grungy motorcycle.  Sorry, I will sully your world for only a brief time and be gone.  The breakfast was good, it has been awhile since I had a good omelet.  I was able to check the ferries at breakfast and figured out that I wanted to take the ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend which would put me on the Olympic Peninsula.

On the way out of Whistler I saw two convoys of Ferraris and Lamborghinis.  Whistler attracts the well heeled.  The ride was very scenic and many cars were going the same way to Vancouver.  I stayed north of the big city and headed for Abbotsford to cross the border.  I ended up crossing at Aldergrove inadvertently but it was a shorter wait so that was good.  The border agents were very friendly and they were impressed with my road warrior appearance and wanted to know a bit about my trip.  The one remarked that most of the bikes like mine they see are pristine and shiny and look unused for their intended purpose.  He must have been referring to the dozen, or more, GS Adventures heading toward Whistler that were all shiny and their riders were in shirt sleeves.  There must be a nice Starbucks there.

From the border I took back roads to get to highway 20 that runs to the ferry terminal.  Interstate 5 would have been faster but I did not want to ride freeways.  I made it to the terminal in time to get the 4:15 ferry and it cost a whole $6.05.  The ride was a bit more than half an hour.  I looked at the map and decided to ride to Shelton where I have an invitation to stay in a bed at old friends Dirk and Kelly.  Kelly is the sister of my cousin’s husband.

The ride to Shelton is very scenic on the 101 down the east side of the peninsula.  It was a bit slow because of small towns but really enjoyable.  I passed many nice campgrounds and was regretting my decision to stay in a bed for the night.  I got to Shelton about 7PM and we had a nice dinner and caught up on life.  Dirk and Kelly’s is outside of town and they have realised their desire to ‘get away’ after decades in Los Angeles.

I passed 9000 miles and will just relax for the next day and then make my way to Mount Rainier and back to my tent. I hope to explore the Cascades on my way back home and I have plenty of time before I have to return to reality.

Homeward Bound, Sort Of

July 7

It turns out that the campground is very noisy; I did not know this a month ago when I was in the nice lady’s basement.  There were a lot of loud Harley’s and muscle cars making noise in the area and I did not sleep that well so got up a bit late.  My for the day was to ride to somewhere before Whistler on route 99 and camp.  From Whistler it is not very far to the US border.  Route 99 is supposed to be a very good motorcycle ride so I camped not far from where I turned off of route 97 at Marble Canyon.

The day started warm and I put away all of my cool weather layers and put on my warm weather layer.  The ride south out of Prince George goes through pretty country with agriculture or logging in the valleys which are surrounded by forested mountains.  The trees are deep green conifers and lighter green aspens and the view stretches for miles.  Now I am really back in the world, there are large and small towns all along the way.  I had breakfast after riding about 70 miles and then the day got very warm, as high as 96F.  Route 97 changes elevation from over 3000 feet to about 1000 feet and the temperature increases when altitude decreases.

There are two large fires burning along the route I traveled and they slowed traffic at a few points as did the several road construction projects I had to endure.  One of the fires was just past where I left the 97 for the 99 and that road is closed beyond the intersection.

Once I turned on the 99 the road climbed from 1500 feet backup above 3200 feet and the temperature dropped to about 86 degrees, a welcome relief from 96.  I decide to camp at Marble Canyon which is along three small lakes.  The campsite is close to the road but the views are very nice.  The lake on one side with a rugged mountain covered in trees and some cliffs on the other side.

I took a swim in the lake and the cool water was just what I needed after setting up camp.  Now the evening is coming on the the strong winds from earlier in the afternoon seem to be dissipating.  I will not be up too late tonight after last night’s poor sleep and i want to get on the road early.  I hope to go to the Oak Harbor area of Washington and catch a ferry over to Port Townsend and camp somewhere on the Olympic peninsula tomorrow.  Of course, I need to get back to cell service so that I can check the ferry schedules.

I am just a few miles shy of 9000 for the trip so far and I am monitoring the rate of oil leak from my bike but it is not that much so I will press on.  The worst thing is I will have to add oil but I can’t see it dropping in the sight window yet.

So Long Cassiar Highway

July 6

I awoke to a clear day in the mid 50s.  I have not had that in quite a while.  I rolled out of the campground about 7:30 and had a great ride out of the narrow slit between the mountains.  The town was still asleep and the road crews that slowed me up on the way in were not working yet.  The remaining stretch of the Cassiar Highway was the same great road and great scenery.  It was about 200 miles to Smithers and I was back in the world. Rats.

Up to this point, since I left Anchorage, I have been in very sparsely populated areas with some stretches of over a hundred miles without a trace of habitation.  Smithers had the first traffic light I have seen in 1500 miles, then another, then another, then…

I did not see any wildlife today except ravens and one golden eagle.  I had hoped to top off my last stretch of true wilderness with some critters but did not have any luck.  I was thinking of camping at a couple of lakes around Vanderhoof but when I checked the campgrounds I was not that interested anymore.  It was still early afternoon so I decided to ride all the way to Prince George.  Between vanderhoof and PG there were four or five delays for road construction and the temperature climbed to 92 degrees.  Once I got to PG I decided to stay at the same RV park from early in my trip were the lady let me stay in her basement instead of camping in the rain.  This time the weather is warm and sunny and matches the lady’s personality very well.  This site is north of PG and not in the greatest area but it is familiar and I only need a spot to pitch my tent.  The shower was free and hopefully the WiFi will let me post this when I am done.

Tomorrow I am heading toward Whistler and hope to find a nice place to camp where I might be able to fish.  I have passed 8500 miles and have maybe 2000 more to get home depending on what I do.  I have a lot of time so I hope to fill it with some good riding and a few places to fish.  I am keeping an eye on the oil leak on my bike and don’t think it will be of any concern since I know the source and it is a common thing on this engine design.  Until next time when I hope I have something more exciting to write about.

Stewart, CA and Hyder, AK

July 5

The ride today was absolutely fantastic.  The exact opposite of yesterday’s cold, wet slog.  I left Dease lake a bit after eight AM with some overcast but within an hour the sun broke through and did not go away all day.  I had set my destination as Stewart Canada right near the bottom of Alaska.

The Cassiar Highway is a scenic roller coaster and it was great fun to ride.  The forest is close to the road so one needs a sharp eye out for animals.  It is posted 80kph (50mph) for a lot of it but that is too bad; riding at 65-70mph was a blast.  I did get lite up by a mountie going the other way but he did not turn around.  I behaved for a few miles and then went back to business.

I rode a long time before seeing an animal and there it was, a wolverine.  I can’t believe he was right on the road, unfortunately I got no video of him.  Soon I started seeing a number of black bears and got some footage.

After 200 miles I turned to Stewart and the road there was atleast as nice to ride.  The whole day was spent riding between mountain ranges that have streaks of snow on them and numerous rivers and long, narrow lakes.  The sky was blue and the mountains all shades of green with brown, red, gold and tan thrown in.  The valley into Stewart is very narrow as you wind your way to the ocean once again in a narrow inlet.  The peaks here tower above the small town.  there are a couple of eateries, a motel and two camp grounds.  Across from where I am camped is a huge mountain that is extremely steep.  The campground has a lot of blackberries that are bright red right now.  In a few weeks the bears will be eating them.  I even found a few blueberries right by my site and left them for the bears.

I went into Hyder Alaska and it is practically a ghost town, they even play that up a bit.  On through Hyder a went about sixteen miles up a gravel road to see the Salmon Glacier.  The road puts you across from the glacier and above it so the view is spectacular.  Sorry for not adding photos, it is just too time consuming in the field to edit them for posting.  As soon as I entered Hyder a large black bear was right in front of me and I got him on video.  However, when I stopped at the glacier I saw that there was a bug splattered on my lens so I do not know how some of my videos look.

I passed 8000 miles today on my 250 mile ride.  Tomorrow I will ride nearly 400 miles to get close to Prince George so I can work my way back to the states.  The bike still runs like a charm and the tire wear is very good, I think I can make it back on this set of tires.  I am a bit gun shy about checking tire pressure after the valve stem incident but I have been doing it.

Oh, Wet Canada

Photo editing_Cloud20170703July 3 and 4

Today is the day that Justin and Alla go off on their own so that they can get to the Icefields Parkway while I make my way to the Cassiar Highway.  The morning in Skagway is very windy and cool.  There are wind warnings on the water so it turns out that our ferry ride from Haines was fortunate.  The wind and water were calm and the ride very smooth.  When we arrived in Skagway there was one cruise ship docked and it was late in the day so many of the shops were closed.  The next morning there were three ships docked and at 9am the shops were buzzing with people.  It does not make sense to me that people will take a cruise and then shop in a high-end jewelry store, but they do.  We were surprised the number of shoppers in these stores.

After breakfast and a trip to the park visitor center we said our goodbyes and departed company.  Justin and Alla were going to ride hard to get to Liard River Hot Springs and I planned to see a bit more of the area before riding on.  Skagway did not hold much more gold rush history so I went several miles further to were Dyea once stood.  From Skagway the miners went over the White Pass and Dyea led to the famous Chilkoot trail.  The townsite of Dyea was on the flats at the head of the inlet; today there is little evidence that thousands of people once passed through this place.  I rode to the Slide Cemetery were victims of an avalanche were buried and that was about all there was to see without a long hike.  It is possible to backpack the Chilkoot trail to Carcross and that would be an interesting thing to do.

I came down with a cold and have been dragging the last couple of days so hiking was not in the cards.  I departed the Skagway area and rode up the White Pass.  To the right the railroad right of way can be seen and the steam locomotive still takes passengers over the pass to Carcross.  White Pass is really scenic, even in the cloudy, damp day that I passed through.  Over the top the terrain is very rugged.  It is very rocky and nearly barren because it is bedrock.  It would be very hard to travel cross country up here but with snow there might be an easier time once the path is packed down.  Tutshi Lake borders the trail and I imagine when frozen it would be the easiest path to traverse.  The miners made their way to Bennett Lake where they spent the winter building boats and rafts and waited for the ice break so that they could sail across the lake and then the Yukon River.

The ride to Carcross was very scenic and then I cut east through Tagish to the Alaska Highway.  The ride was cold and there was a bit of rain here and there and once on the Alaska Highway the scenery gets a bit more monotonous and I was back tracking until I reach the Cassiar Highway.  I started about noon and so made it to Swift River by the afternoon.  I found an RV park/campground and learned that they had a shelter under which i could pitch my tent and I even put my bike under.  I was cold and not feeling well so after I ate I climbed in my sleeping bag and read before falling asleep.  During the night it rained on and off and by morning it was a steady, light rain, woopie!  It was 41 degrees.  At least I packed my bike in a dry place and then rode on.  The Cassiar Highway was about 70 miles away and I started south after a detour to Watson Lake.

The Cassiar is a much more scenic drive than the part of the Alaska Highway I was on.  The right of way is narrower and the forest closer to the road which means animals are closer as well.  The rode is twistier and undulates through the Cassiar mountain range.  It would be truly spectacular if it was not raining and cold.  The peaks around me had a fresh dusting of snow on them.  I wanted to camp at Boya Lake and stopped to check it out.  It is beautiful with its emerald blue water but with water falling from the sky it was not what I wanted to do anymore.  I rode on the Dease Lake and booked a room for the night.  I did not know how thoroughly cold to the bone I was until I got in the hot shower, it felt great.

Late in the afternoon the sun broke through the clouds a bit and the forecast is for no rain and weather in the 70s the next two days.  I plan to go to Stewart Canada and Hyder Alaska.  It looks like I will finally get a break and be able to loiter in a nice place.  This area is known for the glaciers that come right down to the road and it is along the coastal Mountain range.

I am nearing 8000 miles on this trip and when I start back from Hyder I will have about a thousand miles to get back to the US border.  I the weather holds I will take several days to make the trip.  There are a lot of optional routes once I get to Prince George and I am still up in the air on which to take.  I am leaning toward the route that goes to Whistler and near Vancouver.  It looks like I will not be on the road as long as I intended because the weather chased me out of so much of Alaska.  Everywhere I have been the locals have said that it is much wetter than usual for this time of year.  Maybe next time the weather will be better.


July 2

The morning was dry when we got up so once again we got to put away dry tents.  Again, the simple things like this are great.  We went off to try and find a real breakfast.  Haines has three restaurants so the pickings are slim.  We chose the Chilkat Restaurant and Bakery (serving Thai food).  There was no omelet to be had but we enjoyed the Thai version of huevos rancheros.  A young boy was fasinated with our bikes and we chatted with his parents.  His father is the police chief of Haines.

After breakfast we had time to go south to one of the state parks and learned that it required a hike into the forest.  Our time was short so we went north to Chilkoot Lake and marveled at the beauty of the area.  We were hoping to see the mother bear and cubs that are in the area but all we saw was scat, lots of scat.  The arm of the sea ran to a short river that flowed out of the lake.  There were fly fishers in the river, and some at the lake outlet, trying to catch sockeye salmon or dolly varden.  The water is a light turquoise blue and the steep emerald mountains come down to meet it.  In the mountains all around there are numerous cataracts.  It is breathtaking.

We had to be at the ferry terminal by 1:30 so we cut our sightseeing and rode over there in time to see the ferry coming and get pictures and footage.  Most Alaska ferry docks can load the RVs and other vehicles from the front and drive them out the back.  The loading is done from the side.  In Haines and Skagway there is only provision for loading from the front so the big vehicles had to back down the 150 foot ramp and then turn into the hold.  The trailer drivers had a hard time and we left about 40 minutes late.  Motorcycles have no trouble getting on.  The ride was smooth and swift and we got to Skagway in about 35 minutes.  The trip through the fiord was very scenic and we enjoyed the ride.

We rode off the ship and found the room we booked for the night.  We needed to do laundry and Alla did not like the funky shower at our campground last night so she wanted modern comforts.

I have clean clothes, nice.

Skagway has a great deal of history of the gold rush and the park service has done a great job here.  I hope to see it all tomorrow before heading on.  The rest of Dawson is a tourist trap catering to the cruise ship set.  There are nice eateries which we took advantage of and lots of jewelry stores and other high-end shops for the well healed, kind of disappointing for a place with this kind of history.

Today we noticed that my bike has developed a small oil leak at the back of the engine that I suspect is the engine rear main seal.  It should be OK until I get home and I will have to split the bike in two and fix it.

After tomorrow I will seperate from my riding companions of the last week or more.  We have had a great time and are very compatible.  Alla is one tough cookie, we have had long, cold, wet days and she takes it in stride.  I do know she will be glad to get back to her world but she will have the best time she can before then.

I will head down the Cassiar Highway and Justin and Alla will continue on the Alaska highway and then to the Icefields Parkway.  I may be out of touch for several days.

Currently I have logged about 7500 miles and the bike keeps running fine.  The Mitas tires are wearing very well and i think the rear will last the entire trip.