Saturday 31 August 2013

Telkwa to Banff, Alberta

After leaving a very wet camp at Telkwa we were tired and wet so we decided to get a decent hotel in Prince George which turned out very well. Much needed sleep and heat and a dry out was the order of the day. We met Rhidian formerly from the Isle of Arran but now a US citizen living in Washington doing a solo road trip to Alaska on his XTZ1200. We had a curry together and shared a few drams back at the hotel later, we also tried to talk him into heading south to Argentina, time will tell if we were convincing or not.
Wednesday we had a cold but mainly dry run into the pretty (damned expensive) town of Jasper, it is like Pitlochry really, nice setting and pandering to the tourist dollar.  Jasper is in the national park so we had to pay $20 for the privilege of visiting, the following day i was pretty fed up when we found we had to pay another $40 to stay in Lake Louise and Banff as they are also still in the park. I think we are missing a trick in Scotland, we have great scenery and we let people see it for free, I propose tollbooth's on the A9 & A82 for the tourists, how do you think that would go down. Depending on your beliefs God created the world, I wonder if he gets his cut, how can you charge just to ride through "nice scenery"? rant over but for $60 I want to complain that I'd have preferred sunshine, can I get a discount for not seeing the tops of the mountains?
Our night in the campsite at Lake Louise was good apart from the rain that started around 4pm and was still on when we left this morning, nice campsite and complete with a electric fence to stop us becoming bear food, helps you sleep slightly better!
Today the massive 39 miles to Banff and into a hotel booked by our new pal Neville (Black Fly) from Calgary who we will see tomorrow for a few beers, we are moving tomorrow to stay with his brother Kevin, (Yellow Jacket) in Calgary
Its been a week of just getting the miles in and we have done just that, over 2000 Miles this week has put us back on track and takes the trip so far to just over 24000 Miles.
Posh Hotel in Prince George, easy gear moving using the trolley
Suprprised to see Edinburgh Beer up here
Sharing a story and a dram with Rhidian
Another Gas stop, another sandwich for lunch and mediocre coffee
Near Jasper, $20 to be allowed to look at the scenery
I want my money back, canny see the top!
Strange Rock formations
More Glaciers (of course)
Sun trying to break through
Drying the tent out before getting it soaked again
Electric fence makes you sleep soundly (almost)
Banff welcome sign....not twinned with the real one?
Pretty but no more spectacular than home really and the same weather

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Anchorage to Telkwa

The part finally arrived on Thursday but we didn't get the bike back until late afternoon so it was another night in Anchorage. Our new friend John left a note through our door that if we wanted a buddy of his wanted to take us up for a ride in his private plane, even this tempting offer wasn't enough to keep us in Anchorage any longer! Of course it was raining Friday when we left, not rain exactly but buckets of rain, it remained that way all day until after 460 miles we'd had enough and stopped at Beaver Creek. We bumped into Victor, a fellow traveller from Mexico here and spent a nice evening talking bikes and travel. Saturday morning and more rain, a stop at Destruction bay for a late breakfast (cool name) and then a while later at about the 200 mile mark the rain stopped, hooray, we passed Haines Junction again and headed to Whitehorse where we bumped into Father and son act Kevin And Kale who we' had a brief talk with in the roadworks yesterday, we all decided to head to Telis Lake together and as I was cold and wet we got a Motel there, a pleasant night talking about, you guessed, bikes and travel. We were last to leave the following day but still early at around 8 am and started of dry for five minutes then of course rain, then after about 80 miles Fiona's bike started cutting out, oh great I thought, please God, let me just get some miles in before the BMW gremlins strike. She nursed it to the fuel stop at Watson Lake, the turnoff for The Cassier highway where I'd already diagnosed in my mind the issue, the battery lead was slack. I suppose after I'd just paid BMW $540 to check the valves (all ok) and change the spark plugs I shouldn't expect too much, after all not tightening the battery terminal is normal right? We were pretty pissed off at this point however the day improved when a Moose ran out in front of me, scary to start with but after I knew I wasn't going to hit it, nice to see nature close up! We met up with Kevin again at the fuel stop as well as Dirk & Chelsea from Vancouver and we ended up riding the next section together. The great thing about that part was we saw many bears, the best was a cub running across the road followed by the mother and then another cub, spectacular to see nature this close up (but glad I was in a group and on my bike) We stopped again for fuel and Fi and I had both had enough, shattered , we tried for a room at the motel but just like Joseph and Mary there were none, no stable either so we headed off another 60 miles to the campground the others were going to stay at. Over 500 miles that day and shattered, we still didn't sleep that well worrying about the bears, Dirk moved his tent as he found fresh bear droppings next to it and the lady from the campsite delighted in telling us about the bear in the tree next to our tents a few days ago, all in all not the ingredients for a great nights sleep. Today we headed to Stewart & Hyder to see more bears but today they weren't performing and staged a no show, there was some excitement about a wolf in the vicinity but for me that wasn't worth hanging around for. We finally made it to the campsite we stayed at before in Telkwa, both very tired but its been worth it to put the 1700 miles betWeen us and Anchorage the last few days, it's now warmer thankfully but I'm writing this in the tent as its raining outside so no photos I'm afraid, I'll add them when we are in more comfortable surroundings, watch this space as they say. The rain has now gone off long enough for an update.....
Fiona outside our favourite restuarant in Anchorage
Leanne who's wedding we are going to in NYC will aquire the rights to this park
we were very bored
It did cross my mind as a way to get home!
Electric bikes.... the future?
Moose in the wild
Victor fro Mexico
His bike!
Bikers meeting!
BMW proving it stands for Broken Motorcycles worldwide
Met a nice French guy travelling from Qubec to Whitehorse on this old Honda, no touratech, old fashioned GPS (A4 page stuck to the tank) Brilliant
We were getting desperate to get out of Anchorage
Camping with the bears
Stewart, quaint town
More Glaciers
Now wth Fi's bike
Fiona added the Stewart tartan Bow Tie, all the way from home

Thursday 22 August 2013

All Roads Lead to the Moon Episode 12

So we are still in Anchorage, the parts failed to arrive yesterday (Wednesday) hopefully today! The original intention was to spend 3 days here and get out before the weather turned, we have now been here almost two weeks and every day gets colder and wetter! The plan is as soon as we get my bike back to retrace our steps to Tok then Whitehorse and then South towards Jasper Banff and Calgary, Thats a distance of just over 2000 miles and we hope to do it in a week, the weather appears to be turning against us with heavy rain forecast all over with much lower temperatures so we'll take it as it comes. What should have been a pleasant meander will now be just about getting the miles in which is a great shame because there is so much to see en route. Of course first we have to see if BMW can get me my bike back, as I've said before life on te road should be just that, not hanging around in large towns waiting on bike parts and repairs!!
We remain positive despite the setbacks, now gimme my bike back!
And for your viewing pleasure the latest video, enjoy and as always comments welcome!

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Sonic the hire car!

We picked up our hire car or perhaps better described as a hire roller skate and first dropped the bikes off at the dealer for a valve check while we wait for the part coming from Germany, that way I figure we have covered all bases and hopefully this will be the last enforced stay of the trip. We also met up with \kevin and Neville again and will hopefully see them in Calgary in a couple of weeks. Off we set up towards Fairbanks stopping overnight in the quaint (and busy) village of Talkeetna. The following morning I could hear a noise from the rear of the car, further investigation revealed a machine screw through the tyre, double back to the local workshop where the guy extracted the offending item and patched the tyre, I was beginning to think we should just walk!
We camped the night just outside Denali Park at Rainbow RV & campsite, like many sites the tenters get a bit of a rough deal I feel, I think we are becoming a nuisance sometimes, huge RV's are better business. I was a bit crabbit when we pitched the tent and as a punishment to myself managed to burn my fingers on the MSR stove! The air was blue for a while but I recovered and spent a pleasant but airy evening enjoying the setting sun and the mozzies.
The following day we passed Fairbanks, made famous by the Ice Road Truckers series, we stopped for provisions and left to head further North East to Chena Hot Springs resort, resort is a bit of a grand word for it really, the tent sites again were "in the shade sir" which means "In amongst the insects" despite this and the terrible "long drop" toilets we had a great time. We spent some time in the hot springs pool as its meant to rejuvenate the body, not sure if it worked as the few bottles of Alaskan Amber still gave me a hangover the next day. We had an interesting talk with a Forest firefighter enjoying his 1 day off a month by relaxing here.
Sunday we headed south, another stop at Fairbanks to stock up and then a stop at the North Pole which is actually a town about 10 miles South East of Fairbanks. A funny place where Santa Claus lives and its Christmas every day!
We saw evidence of the huge forest fire at Delta Junction but the rain was hopefully helping put it out. This area is also home to many US army bases, built during WW2, they are still functional, Alaska is such a vast wilderness still that its possible for the Army to play their War games here and not interfere with normal life. The plan was as always to camp but the rain got wore and the temperature dropped, now I know we were in a car but to be honest for me that makes it more difficult. With your bike gear on its easier to camp, the gear provides the protection you need whereas in the car you are of course dressed as a civilian.
We passed a sign for the Denali Highway Cabins and after a chat with the owners (also interesting travellers) Audie and Jenny we spent a comfortable night there. The river running past the cabins was teeming with fish, I've never seen anything like it,  Sockeye Salmon trying to get up river to spawn, the Bears of course take advantage of this to stock up on their fish suppers for their winter hibernation so many of them will become Bear feed.
Today (Monday) we headed back to Anchorage taking in the Mantanuska Glacier and the excellent Musk Ox farm just outside Palmer. The Musk Ox things are amazing and have been around since prehistoric times, almost hunted to extinction they have been re introduced and there are almost 6000 of them roaming wild in Alaska.
So time without the bikes hasn't been totally wasted but we are desperate to get back on the road proper, hopefully we'll find out more tomorrow.  
Our Hire skate, Sonic the hedgehog!

The last frontier? as opposed to the Final frontier

Talkeetna, cool place


Do you really want to know??

Local Mechanic starts to do good

BIG Screw

Mount McKinlay the highest in the USA shrouded in Cloud (as usual)

Fairbanks, Petrol, free wifi at Macdonalds and Wal Mart, what else do you need?

Dinner in the field

Notices on all the doors just to keep you aware!

This caught us by surprise

BBQ dragon from Shrek??

The Hot Springs

Yes really!!
Santas house

Yes we were at North Pole

Santas Reindeer resting before their one busy day a year

Big Sky's and scenery

Army Base

Making dinner outside our wee hoose

Sockfish Salmon

Not sure what this was ?? Answers??

Bear Fish shop
Another Glacier

Nice scenery but getting cold

Not the biggest we've seen

We met up with Kat again!

Musk Ox, impressive!

This one was in the breeding pen, it had 3 girlfriend and seemed confused how to go about it, mind you with a heid that size I wasn't going to criticise

Small world, outside the supermarket, damned Scots, everywhere!