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Old 05-21-2009, 07:14 AM   #16
marcoue OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Montréal, Québec
Oddometer: 263
Day 3: Ontario, the end (finally!)

2008-07-11

09h00 Rushing River Provincial Park (ON)
12h00 Winnipeg (MB)
270 km

The Rain! (Note the capital R!)

It’s raining lightly throughout the night but a breach of an hour or so gives me the chance to get up, change, store the tent and prepare the bike.

Traveling this way is really different. I am totally at the mercy of the weather and nature itself. Everything is so wet.

First lesson: always take clothes for the next morning in the tent! Not so easy to look for clothes and then change in the cold and rain! I quickly lose heat and I must get dressed rapidly to stay warm and a little dry.

My first night in the woods is not so easy but was relaxing and was appreciated. I guess I’ll set up a routine and that things will improve with practice!

Encouraging point, I’m already quite ahead of my travel plans and have little road ahead of me today to get to Winnipeg where I think to spend the night. 250 km! This is nothing!

O course, nothing is so quite easy on a motor bike!

Temperature drops below 10 degrees and rain starts to fall quite hard! But when I say rain, I do not mean light rain that is soft and warm, I am talking about drops of a liter straight from the last glacial period! I stop for gas in Kenora (ON), which seems to be a beautiful little village surrounded by lakes but as the rain is abundant, I cannot really allow myself to visit further.

The cloud cover is so dense that it’s literally pitch black (well you know, dark…!) After 45 minutes, here I am in Manitoba! As I promised myself, I must take a picture of the sign but what a rain fall! I take my courage with both my hands and I stop on the roadside for 1 or 2 shots! But not in the rain, under an electrical storm!

It’s impressive to see how the border crossing means a change of scenery. Almost instantly, I go from winding road surrounded by lakes to a 4 lane motorway, so straight you wouln’t believe it! Driving, despite the heavy rain becomes so easy! I engage the cruise control and relax quietly, taking a shower! Seriously, my system doesn’t work very well because I am literally wet to the bones.



The water is going through my jacket (BMW Rally 2 Pro), my Shell (Shell North Face), my heated vest (Widder) and wets my sweater! My gloves are not long enough and let the water in. I will have to adjust myself to this and find solutions because it worries me a little for the northern part of the Adventure. For the first time I really wonder what I’m doing here!

An old friend of mine, Nigel, who I will visit in Calgary (AB) at the end of the trip, is from Winnipeg (MB) and offered me to spend the night at his mother who still resides here.



Winnipeg isn’t a tourist destination as such but is still significant for me. In 1985, I spent the summer at the University of Manitoba for an English immersion class. It was my first trip by plane and finally, my first trip without my parents! I wanted to see the city hoping it would remind me of nice memories!

Ivy (Nigel’s mother), native of Jamaica, greats me like a king. What kindness. It is not so evident because first, I am completely wet, and it seems she was expecting me because she had prepared a typical meal just for me. The problem is that I am not sure to stay as Winnipeg because of the rain, and if I were to stay, I would have likes to visit the area and have dinner in town.

I take a few minutes in the basement to call Nadine (my girlfriend). She’s so excited to talk to me that she’s trying to say 4 things at the same time! We already look to change plans with the airplane ticket because I realized that we could join in Vancouver instead of Prince Rupert as expected. If the preceding days are an image of what’s to come, I am sure that She did not like the route between Prince Rupert (BC) and Vancouver (BC), mainly because of the cold and rain …

After the conversation, I go back and chat with Ivy tell her that I will finally continue my way because weather is not very good to visit the city.

I still make my way to the University of Manitoba. Incredible, I can’t remember anything! Yet the buildings are historic and most importantly, superb … The eyes of a 16 year old does not see the same things that an old 40 year old guy!

Then I go towards Downtown. Nothing special except that miraculously, within minutes, the blue sky is emerging and rapidly, the weather obliges me to stay for the evening and night!



I return to see Ivy and dismantle the bike again. Not so obvious. My system is certainly not tuned because I wast too much time to load and unload my things. I need to seriously evaluate and rethink my strategy accordingly.

Lunch hour approaches and Ivy had prepared 5 kg of Jamaican chicken, especially because it smells so good, I can’t allow myself to refuse hes invitation!

Wow, Nigel was right! It’s so good! Thanks Ivy!

Then I leave for Downtown. Upon arriving, I see 4 motorcycles parked on a sidewalk near a big building. I obviously decide to join them to avoid paying parking or simply having to return every 2 hours to put money in the parking meter. I change clothes, store everything and lock the bike, put the alarm system and feel ready to attack Winnipeg! Obviously, I did not notice the tiny sign reading: Location for Canada Post employees only, a security officer rushed to warn me!

He is very nice and ask me where the hell I’m going like this with a plate from Québec! Finally, we talk for 30 minutes and obviously, he lets me stay and offer to check out for my stuff!

Finally, the visit can begin! Bizarre, Winnipeg reminds me of a mixture of Denver and Chicago, much smaller course! Unfortunately, what is most striking is the begging, especially natives who are very present downtown. That I remembered at least!

Quick Tour of the Forks, St. Boniface, Exchange District. The city is a little dead. Probably because I am used to crowded streets of Montreal or because my travel usually get me in places like Paris, Barcelona or Buenos Aires!

Fortunately, one thing is relatively similar across the world: Irish Pubs! After 2 or 3 beers, the city seems more alive! Thereafter, I go next door to a beautiful bistro name Yes Bistro (Not complicated !!!). I am pleasantly surprised by the meal and fauna of the place. Not bad either for wine, well appreciated after a few days of fasting! I am on vacation after all! Small note, my super Steak frites was served with Ketchup! Ok, I am no longer in Montreal!

Already time to go back to Ivy’s (it is after midnight !!!). Tomorrow, big day, I want to push and try to get to Edmonton! 13 hours and more than 1300 km … I don’t know if I will make it.

À voir!

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Old 05-21-2009, 07:17 AM   #17
marcoue OP
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Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Montréal, Québec
Oddometer: 263
Day 4: The Prairies

2008-07-12

06h15 Winnipeg (MB)
19h30 Edmonton (AB)
1400 km



The Adventure starts early! Alarm set at 05:50. Everything is ready on the bike (prepared the day before!) so I leave a few minutes later and aggressively attack the road! Surprise! First gravel road! Thanks to my Garmin Zumo 550, I am going through a small road instead of the nice and fast highway!

Yesterday rain, today, the wind! And a nice little rain to make everything wet. And when I say wind, it means winds of 80 km/h, a bike that constantly vacillates, my head wants to spin off to complete the recipe, a nice and cool 12 degrees celsius!



****



After 5 hours of suffering (literally), I’m frozen, exhausted and yes, I wonder what I’m doing in the middle Saskatchewan, alone when I could be with my girlfriend, both feet in the water in a warm Quebec lake!

After a short Internet break in a gas station, I put on my North Face windstopper and get back to hell. I realize that I have on my back, all the clothes that I own! If I’m still cold, I have no other solutions!

- Camisole and long-sleeved sweater technical
- Hot jacket with sleeves Widder
- Shell (Shell) North Face
- North face Windstopper
- Rally 2 Pro (BMW)

Fortunately, I’m not cold anymore with all these layers! And further, the clouds dissipate, the wind as well and I can catch my breath. The plains of Saskatchewan can be really violent!

After 10 hours, Alberta! Finally! And good weather as well!!!



I would lie if I said that this was an easy or even a pleasant day. I had very dark moments. I sometimes surprised myself hunting birds on the edge of the road with my horn (surprisingly, it passes the time!). I also do acrobatics on the bike to relieve my little behind and my legs.

I really regret that I didn’t buy a Sargent Seat because the stock seat is really hard. I have the AirHawk cushion that helps a little, but the seat of my GS is simply not made for long journeys. This makes driving uncomfortable and even suffering.

Finally got to Edmonton and had booked a hotel through a website for $ 65. Not bad! (this will be my least expensive hotel in Canada). Obviously, no time to rest, it’s Friday night after all! I unload the bike again! Tires, clothes, camping equipment… I take a quick shower and hop, downtown is calling!

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Old 05-21-2009, 07:19 AM   #18
marcoue OP
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Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Montréal, Québec
Oddometer: 263
Day 5: Edmonton

008-08-13

No driving today!

Got up late, well rested. I take this opportunity to visit the West Edmonton Mall, the largest indoor mall in the world.



****



****



I then pay a visit to the Mountain Equipment Coop to buy a few things for my upcoming outdoor adventure.

What a great place! I then head for downtown. Apart from a small "food festival", it's a bit quiet. The long walk on the riverside is pleasant. I do a bit of grocery shopping wondering where I will putaway all this stuff tomorrow morning!
I then returned to the hotel to make a few phone calls because tomorrow the real adventure begins and so will the cell blackout!

Candlelight dinner in the Kinsman Park, and a face to face, or rather ear to ear conversation with Nadine and Jean (a friend who just bought a GS!) and then time to return to the hotel in order to prepare the beast for an early departure tomorrow!

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Old 05-21-2009, 07:21 AM   #19
marcoue OP
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Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Montréal, Québec
Oddometer: 263
Day 6: British Columbia

2008-07-14

06h30 Edmonton (AB)
19h30 Tetsa River Campround (100 km au nord de Fort Nelson, BC)
1150 KM

I was really out of shape this morning. 06:00 is early for me. I hate to get up in the morning but I realize that it must start very early to drive long distances even if it’s possible to travel late as the sun sets late in this latitude.

The road was long and monotonous, especially in Alberta. The entry into BC provides a bit of variety in the landscape and the arrival in Fort Nelson coincides with the long expected arrival of the Rockies!



Weather: cold, obviously. Sporadic rain falls and a sweet 9 degrees celsius!

I love the freedom of the motorcycle in comparison with automobiles but I’m have so many layers on that the weight of my clothes makes it difficult to move! At one point, I had the hood of my North Face shell on my head, under my helmet! Very Stylish!!!

The cities crossed are clearly there because of the oil boom in the region. It’s unfortunate because you can see the beautiful nature, but clearly smell of the refineries.



****



18h00 My first bear!!! Too cool! Quick tourist picture and let’s leave him alone.



I end the day in a camping area. Tetsa River campground Plot # 1, quiet, isolated, clean and only $ 14! The only problem is the sporadic rain and the damn cold! And when the rain stops, I’m attacked the mosquitos!

Between two showers, I mount the tent. When it rains, I have no choice, I hide between the trees! I managed somehow to cook my dinner (penne arrabiatta)!

23:00, Time to sleep but not so easy, it’s so bright outside!

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Old 05-21-2009, 07:26 AM   #20
marcoue OP
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Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Montréal, Québec
Oddometer: 263
Day 7: Yukon

2008-07-15

07h00 Tetsa River Campround (BC)
16h00 Whitehorse (YK)
861 km



Great motorcycle day despite a cold 4 degrees Celsius in the morning but thinks get warmer as the day goes by. Finally the real Rockies!. Shortly after leaving the campsite, the landscape becomes as I would have imagined in western Canada. Mountains, lakes, wildlife (deer, bears, bison, caribou). The road is beautiful, the weather mild. The passage in Stone Mountain Provincial Park and Dawson Creek (the beginning of Alaska Highway)makes it the best day to date. I now feel getting closer to my goal and I am finally where I wanted to be …


Nice 120 km/h surprise!!!



Speaking of surprises...!!!



Finally!



I wonder if tourists come here often!?



****



I get to Whitehorse (YK) at 16.00, made a reconnaissance tour, visited the Tourist Information Center to find a hotel ($ 80). Then I go to the Honda dealer (car) for a tire change (TKC80 of the Dempster Highway) and oil ($ 125). 18:00 back to the hotel! Unbelievable. I spent days planning this important stage of the journey and the result is obvious. I knew where to go and I did not lose time searching and going round in circles. Thanks to planning and my GPS, I’m free to enjoy the late afternoon drinking one (ok, a few …) beer with 2 guys on their way north on BMWs (an RT, Ohio and 1100g, Alberta).



Honda dealer, Whitehorse

Pleasant evening watching the Indians fight in the street! The center is once again, rather dead but it’s Tuesday after all!



Another traveller from Alberta!

I am surprised meet several Québécois. The service manager at Honda Dealer comes from Montreal. He informs me that it’s very rewarding ($) to work here and that 20% of the population in Whitehorse is from Quebec! I didn’t expect this and to be honest, I still did not, for several reasons, understand what motivates people to come and stay here. But that’s just me!



Friends from Québec!

I return to my hotel at 23:00 and prepare the bike for the Inuvik stretch …

Lesson of the day: Do not store bear spray with clothing! If leaked, whew, it doesn’t smell good and it burns like hell for weeks!

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Old 05-21-2009, 07:36 AM   #21
marcoue OP
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Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Montréal, Québec
Oddometer: 263
Day 8: Dempster Highway (NWT)

07h30 Whitehorse
12h30 Dempster Highway start
23h30 (00h30 local time) Inuvik!!!!!
1230 KM

Today was most difficult biking day of my life.

Nothing to report from Whitehorse and Dawson City apart from a few kilometers of hard gravel and a few scary animal crossings! I tried to follow a group of GS’s but I quickly to overtake them and continue on because the pace was a little slow.



A few friends on the road!



A bit of gravel to strech the legs...

Around noon, I get to the Dempster Highway start. At 12h30 after filling up at 1,75$ per litre, I finally start what I’ve been dreaming of for so many months!!!



Famous Dempster Highway start...

The road is superb. After 5-6 km, the pavement gives way to a compact and hard gravel so speed is still good.

After 40-50 minutes, I pass in front of Tombstone Provincial Park. The landscape is simply breathtaking. It looks a bit like the Argentina or Chile but much more green. It soon gets to high mountain conditions (a little bit of snow in the rivers). However, I am lucky: the weather is perfect including a nice 25 degrees celsius.

My hottest day to date occurs in the Arctic!

It is difficult to drive 5 km without stopping to contemplate the horizon and grab a few pictures.



****



Green mountains



Perfect weather!



Nature...



****


****



****



****



Do I pick one for my girlfriend?



There are very few cars. Sometimes I spend an hour without crossing anybody. It’s fun but scary at the same time. If I have a breakdown or an accident here, I’m alone for real! I can easily ride comfortably at 100 km / h but I am very careful for obvious reasons!



All this would change … Fast.

North of Yukon, just before arriving in the Northwest Territories, the road deteriorates quickly and I almost lose control in a thick gravel spot, The soft road takes me by surprise. Scary.
Je suis loin de la maison je crois...

Far from home!



A little later, I cross the boundaries of the Arctic Circle. Tourist picture and lets go because it’s a little late.

Impossible not to stop here for a few pictures...

Fatigue is obvious. I have to concentrate to be able to spot and identify difficult areas to avoid loosing the bike. And they seem to be increasingly frequent because I have to drive standing up most of the time.




And here as well!



****



****



****



****


Two ferries in one hour. After Fort McPherson, the road deteriorates to the point that my speed always reduced and I have to be standing on the bike all the time. If I fall here, I do not even know what would happen!? It almost happened 5 or 6 times but I managed to save the day.The last 300 km must be done standing up at 50-60 km / h. A test of endurance, determination and driving skills.



The last 300 km must be done standing up at 50-60 km / h. A test of endurance, determination and driving skills.



The landscape changes from mountain to tundra conditions. It’s late and I have to work hard to keep the bike on the road. A loss of control here is serious because the road was built on permafrost, so they had to make a 3 or 4 meters gravel base on top of the ground so if I leave the road, I fall down 4 meters !



I am overtaken by a few trucks wich create a dense dust cloud. If a car would be following these truks, they would never see me! Fortunately, it’s late and I’m alone on the road …
Fortunately?



Midnight in Inuvik!!!

23:30, 16 hours later, here I am in Inuvik! Safe & Sound!

I go quickly around town and decide to sleep at the campsite located 2 km before the entrance of the village. This night will be my best night to date, despite the midnight sun!

I will stay here 2 days because I don’t want to drive tomorrow, I’m too exhausted and besides, I am entitled to a free night at the campsite because I arrived after midnight!

This road was quite an experience and above all, a test. Luckily I had installed tires TKC80 (off road) on the bike.

The return will be different. I intend to take my time, photos, drive more slowly (or so I thought).

The bike is so dirty. As soon as I touch it, I’m dirty as well. I’ll do a wash tomorrow because my clothes are still contaminated with bear spray!


Sleeping time!

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Old 05-21-2009, 07:41 AM   #22
marcoue OP
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Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Montréal, Québec
Oddometer: 263
Day 9: Inuvik

2008-07-17

Inuvik (NWT)

Wake up time : 10h00 !!! That’s a first! And it feels good!

The campsite is basic but clean, quiet and cheap! ($ 14 for 2 nights). I go to the municipal campsite to do my washing. The village is small and typical. Nothing extravagant here, but adapted to tourism. Starting with the Tourist Information Center, which is a small mine of information and people are very friendly.



Inuvik



****



Main street - Inuvik

I then go around the city on foot. Surprisingly, the shops offer great things and the supermarket, a good selection despite inflated prices (30 to 40%). I endend up at Moe’s to buy a sticker and at City Hall where we give a pin of the city to remember it’s the 50th anniversary.



****



****



10:00 AM!!! Very AM!

The village is not as special as it’s location. However, it’s an example of courage and determination. I’m going to the library where influential Dick Hill is launching a book on the history of the city. He’s accompanied by a real Eskimo man and legendary explorer with whom he discussed climate change, the evolution of the village, the arrival of the white and the adaptation of the first nations. It was very interesting. I could even exchange with the author and his friend on the reasons that prompted me to come here. Obviously, I cannot resist buying the book!



****



Dick Hill



Then I went to visit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment, just to wee how police work here.

I’m very well received by an officer who introduced me around and took me for a short visit. Strangely, She’s here by choice and aspires to work in areas even more remote! She must frequently make air travel even further north for temporary assignments in villages or to investigate crimes.

Surprisingly, in mid-July, there is already 1200 entries in the log book for arrests!… Population of Inuvik is 4,000 people! There are several explanations for this high number since it is obvious they have not arrested a quarter of the population! But it’s nevertheless clear that this figure shows an obvious problem of alcoholism among the Inuit population.



Thereafter, I go passed the village, down the road, literally! The road stretches for 8 km north of Inuvik. It’s in very poor conditions. Nothing much to see here but I can say that I visited the most nordic point accessible by vehicle in my country!



The end of my country!

What emotions! It’s well worth a beer! I go to Shiver’s, a bar surprising nice in a hotel on the main street. In fact, it’s rather a Loundge with a restaurant across the corridor. It’s clean and modern, in fact, too clean and modern, and even a little expensive for the tourist that I am ($ 10 for my small beer). I decide to go to the liquor store and get me a small bottle of wine and cook dinner at the campsite despite a cold 10 degrees because it was obvious that a meal here would have cost me a bundle!

Surprisingly, the selection of wine is good and I got myself a rewarding bottle of Argentina wine at a reasonable price! What a life!
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Old 05-21-2009, 07:45 AM   #23
marcoue OP
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Montréal, Québec
Oddometer: 263
Day 10: Surviving the Artic

2008-07-18

Inuvik (NWT) 08h30
Eagles Plain (YK) 17h30
366 km



The most difficult and dangerous day.

The night is cold. I can hardly sleep. In fact, in the beginning of the trip I decided to travel as light as possible which meant that I had to make concessions for many things, including my camping equipment and more importantly, my sleeping bag. To save space, I carry a bag very compact bag that is typically adapted for summer temperatures (+7 celsius).

I now realise that I have made a mistake because the nights are so unpleasant and the cold makes it impossible to sleep. I will review this strategy for my future travels.

I get up at 07h00, exhausted, not knowing what will happen to me really. It slightly rained yesterday and probably all night. But nothing serious, at least from my experience. In fact, I welcome this moisture as it certainly will reduce the clouds of dust created by heavy trucks on the gravel road. I decided to go south for the 2nd portion of the trip. It would be wrong to pretend that I’m not tired of the cold, rain and wind. On the motorcycle and with camping, I’m totally exposed and I’m starting to dream about warmth and comfort … The south is a good solution.

Usually…

Upon my departure, I see that the road is wet and less risky. I’m cautious and drive slowly. The road is difficult but the bearing balls that scared me so much aren’t as much a problem now.

The weather is not so bad. It’s cold, but the rain is light and the wind isn’t too violent .

But everything would change …

After 100 km, the road became much more difficult, wet and rain increasing. After Fort MacPherson, I need to be very careful because it was very slippery. I still managed to go reasonably fast (30 – 40 km/h).

During the 2nd ferry crossing, the attendant comes up to me and start to talk a little. He tells me that several people had indicated that the road was damaged in the south. I tell myself that it can’t be worse than what I had just went through!

Wrong answer.

Obviously, it’s human nature to believe only when touching, feeling, seeing. But this is not always good …

In fact, the road is rapidly deteriorating to the point where it becomes very difficult to move, literally impossible in some areas. The cocktail produced by the gravel, rain, cold and the wind is so slippery and muddy as it is making the bike feel so heavy, as if I was driving in snow!

And the inevitable happens: the fall.



Loneliness

Fortunately, I was driving very slowly, therefore no damage ,but I quickly realized that it’s catastrophic because I am literally covered with a vicious and sticky mud. The situation is pathetic.

Picking up the bike is a real test because everything is so slippery. I need to remove all my gear in the mud and rain, because the bike is simply too heavy.



How will I pick this up?

In fact, normally, I’m able to raise the bike relatively easily, despite my luggage and the weight of the machine. I also had the chance to practice the day before my departure! But here the situation is completely different. I’m exhausted, wet, everything is so slippery. The least I can say is that I feel a bit alone in the world! And it true.

Miraculously, I managed to pick it up and drive away. Slowly, very slowly.

It ‘s difficult or impossible to describe the road conditions and especially the feeling of despair which is very present.

The questioning begins. Should I turn? Return to Inuvik or Fort MacPherson? I quickly decide to go forward, to the south! In fact, I never really consider going back because I want to leave this hell as soon as possible and I know that the road will be better a few kilometers south of the Yukon border.

I ‘m once again going very slowly. It’s so damn slippery. I come across a car 500 meters away as it’ s trying to make it’s way in the mus as well, in a rising slope. I am trying to squeeze to the right as much as possible because it’s quite evident that he’s having problems! And in doing so, I lose my concentration and therefore, I loose it and go down again. Once again, no damage due to the low speed, but this time, it’s impossible for me to raise the machine.

I’m too exhausted, it’s too slippery. Unfortunately, still unable to pick it up.

I resign myself , after dozens of attempts, to wait for help. After an hour of painful waiting (standing in the rain), a car passes by and stops to give me a hand. The bike is not difficult to lift with assistance. 5 seconds and I’m back to vertical. I thank them, exchange a few words and they go slowly towards the south. Even for cars, the road is a challenge. I replace the boxes and the tires on the bike. And I leave again to the south …

Not for long.

After 200 metres, another fall.

Discouragement is very present. I am not able to lift the bike and I have to wait more than 30 minutes for help.

The worst is that I cannot sit down to rest because everything is so dirty and the road is elevated, there is really nothing around me except the tundra that is wet and soft. And mud …

Once the bike upright, I realize that I’m really in trouble. I’m in the middle of nothing, alone, without communication. Without support. If I fall again, I have to repeat all of this losing a lot of time. If I go back, when will I be able to return? The conditions will be better? Nothing is less certain. I look at the possibility of setting up a camp but the reasoning is the same. I have provisions for a few days, but I’m frozen, wet and exhausted. I don’t really see any spot to make my tent and the grizzlies are present in the area.

So I decide to move forward again, but my main objective is clear, I do not fall anymore. It’s not complicated, I must do whatever necessary to stay in control of the bike, my emotions and be concentrated 110%.

This emotional control is difficult when I consider the goal of the day. It’s obvious that I will not be able to cross the 800 km of the Dempster and my goal is now turning towards Eagle’s Plain, a refuge in the middle of the highway, where there’s a hotel … but the GPS does not lie , I have 160 km to do … Yes, this is the reality. I start the calculations and I realized that I probably will have to drive all day but I have no choice.

The technique becomes obvious and simple. Whenever I see a change in the color on the road, either pale or dark, I stop and I go through it with both feet on each side, slowly, making sure not to fall. I ride at less than 5 km / h for many kilometers. The climbs and descents are the most difficult passages.

Fortunately, I chose my BWM with a Enduro gearbox which essentially means that the first gear is shorter and allows me to better control my driving at low speed.

And thank god for the TKC80 tires that are perfectly adapted to such conditions. With a normal tire, I will not be able to leave because the mud is sometimes hollow and very slippery.

The hours that followed were very difficult and discouraging. Heavy rain, wind, wet hands. The degree of concentration not to lose control must always be 100%. Obviously, if I miss a dangerous spot, I might fall.

After a few difficult hours, I manage to get to Yukon where the road improve slightly with each kilometers.

I did not come across any other bikes today … A sign?

Finally, around 17:30, I see a house in the distance. What a relief, what joy! Upon my arrival I’m greeted by a group (also GS www.gsriders.us) asking me if I’m the guy from Montreal! Pleased that I arrived safe and sound, they say that people who stopped to help me advised the hotel staff of my presence on the road.

Then I get to the small garage and the guys wash me (the bike and myself!) with the pressure hose because I couldn’t enter the hostel so dirty! Whew, what a relief to lose all this mud! My poor bike will keep the marks of the Adventure. First, it’s impossible to remove the mud because it was cooked on the exhaust so that instead of presenting a beautiful shiny chrome, they are now orange!

I then get a room. $ 125! But I’m in survival mode so the price doesn’t matter tonight! A looooooong shower,so hot, so nice! Happiness!

Thereafter, I contacted my Nadine who is the George Michael show in Montreal. I tell her a bit about my adventure but not in details because I don’t want to make her too nervous, especially as tomorrow I have to possibly do the rest of the road! Anyway, I don’t think she can grasp the actual situation because the words only describe very little about the whole thing and the severity of that day.

Then I go to the bar to exchange words with other adventurers!



Heat! And beer!

I learn that the 5 guys in GS arrived yesterday on a government truck because they were unable to pass through the road that I did today. One biker event lost control and slipped off the road, 4 meters lower!

These are 5 middle aged men with considerable experience in off-road motorcycle. They are unanimous: these are the worst conditions they have had ever seen in their lives. Wow, and I did it a day after them, having rained an extra 24 hours.

Some are also waiting to go north to Inuvik and asked me my opinion on whether they should take the chance to go there … The answer is simple. No. Yet they all left the next morning!



*****



Time to sleep now.

Tomorrow, I have to take a decision whether or not I’m going south … We all hope that the weather will be on our side.

It was a day that will remain engraved in my memory forever.

marcoue screwed with this post 05-18-2011 at 02:43 PM
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Old 05-21-2009, 07:48 AM   #24
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Day 11: Surviving the Artic, day 2

2008-07-19

09h30 Eagle’s Plain
14h30 End of the Dempster Highway
15h00 Dawson City
20h00 Campsite (1 hour before Whitehorse)
810 Km

It’s incredible how a good night’s sleep revives you.

Quickly, I get out and I realize that the weather is much calmer, the clouds are present but much higher and always a good sign, the winds are light.



I see that the situation is much better than yesterday and I’m informed that the weather will hold only for one day because rain is expected in the coming days. So the decision is easy: I want out of this hell! I know it will be difficult, but compared to yesterday, this is a summer day! A little fog, but this shouldn’t cause too many worries.

The guys GSRiders.us seem reluctant to leave. They’ll take their decision in the coming hours. They ask me to contact them en route to inform them of conditions but it will be impossible to do of course (no signal).

The road is much more stable than yesterday. The majority of the time I am able to keep up good speeds. I must be very careful in muddy places that are still present. The big GS is simply impossible to drive in this type of soil.




Halfway, I meet a guy from Calgary who made the road to Inuvik, on a bike … Wow, that’s real adventure!

Again, the road is empty, except for a few cars and an old 80′s BMW R100. A couple from Germany. Incredible!

There is only one bridge on the road, and believe me, it was a pleasure to cross it because after, conditions greatly improved to the point where I could drive at speeds near 100 km / h!

I realize how it is important to be able to read and predict the road and perceive color changes in the gravel or sand, especially if it’s dark or bright. Despite the improvement, it happens often that I have to save the furniture using the techniques learned to avoid a fall. It’s normal to push the machine a little because this road is so long. Yes, the scenery is superb but I wonder if it is worth the risk! Ah, yes of course …

After 300 km, the road is deteriorating again and I have to go very slow for about fifty miles, but around 14:15, I’m surprised, looking at my GPS to see that I have only 12 km to go! I feel a huge relief and this makes me forget all the difficulties and hardships of the last days! That’s it, I did the Dempster Highway!

Funny fact, a few kilometers from the exit, I come across this:



Picture from the past!

Obviously, nothing is easy in this part of my country. The last 10 kilometers are really difficult and muddy. I have to drive at 10-20 km / h but at 14:30, I see one of the nicest thing so far: asphalt! ! What happiness, relief. It is soft and easy to drive on. What a great invention …! Tarmac!



Tarmak!!!



After calling Nadine, I take the road towards Dawson City, a small village 30 km west, to spend the night. I know that there is a music festival going on this weekend but I think that this village is so remote that it will still be quiet! Big mistake! The village and it’s muddy streets are packed with people. I go to the Tourist Office where the nice lady, wearing a old costume, explains with real regrets, that everything is full here because of the annual music festival and I provided the details of a provincial camping … Great! Oops, should read the fine lines … it is located near Whitehorse, 500 km from Dawson City! I have to hit the road again … Just after I wash the bike. Not easy, but no choice!



****


marcoue screwed with this post 05-18-2011 at 02:53 PM
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Old 05-21-2009, 07:51 AM   #25
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Day 12: The Cassiar Highway

2008-07-20

06h30 Campground (Twin Lakes, 120 km west of Whitehorse)
18h30 Stewart (BC)
1160 km

Another long and difficult motorcycle day.

Morning is cool (6 degrees Celsius). No rain but British Columbia is famous for its beautiful surprise showers with cold breezes.After several hours of monotonous road, I get to the start of the Cassiar Highway. Despite fatigue, I can appreciate this superb road lost in the forest, west of the province. It’s winding and the emergence of high mountains adorns everything. But the first 600 km I feel like a lot because I have to do 600 more! Here, distances are so great and there isn’t much to see other than the small village, normally 200km apart!
There are 2 gravel stretches (20 or 30 km each), and despite the intense practice of the last days, they seem really difficult. I have a mental block, a mere apprehension of gravel now! The road has very little traffic except for large trucks and RVs ….

Ah, the RVs. I still have lots of trouble understanding what motivates people to travel with their houses (and their car attached behind it). What kind of insecurity is suffered by these people to have to bring everything they own with them to travel? Especially here, the recreational vehicles are almost buses … For 2 people! And often, they even pull that big SUV… Only in America! What a waste.

Fortunately, riding a bike allows me to overtake them rapidly despite the many curves and slopes. I finally arrived on the road to Stewart. I crossed the magnificent Bear Glacier. Tourist clicks and I continued towards the city.



The Bear Glacier

Village is more right to describe Stewart. In fact, ghost town would be more fair! Everything seems to have stopped 100 years ago here. I searching for the Tourist Office when I found a car wash! What a joy. I can wash the machine, and my clothes! The owner is very friendly and explains that there are only 2 hotels in the village and I strongly recommend the Ripley’s.



Nice!



Stewart (BC)

What a nice surprise. I am welcomed with open arms in a beautiful little oasis, typically decorated with antiques. A charming place and very economical as well! While grabbing the keys to my room, I meet 3 Belgians We start talking for a few minutes and we end up at the restaurant (Ripley’s Café, just opposite of the Hotel) and with a few bottles of wine and a great meal, we exchange about life and the world. Again, the place is charming and well decorated with antiques. What a nice surprise!The conversations are interesting and even exciting. I note once again that as a francophone Quebecers, I have a lot more in common and affinities with Europeans that the English-speaking Canadians. Bizzare.Wonderful evening that will gave me some energy to go south tomorrow. I realize that the company and the conversations have done much good, because obviously I have accumulated much in solitude these days.

marcoue screwed with this post 05-18-2011 at 02:56 PM
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Old 05-21-2009, 07:52 AM   #26
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Day 13: A few minutes in Alaska!

2008-07-21

08h30 to 09h30 Alaska
09h30 Stewart (BC)
18h00 Prince George (BC)
700 km

Up at in 08:30 without the alarm! I decide to make a quick jump in Alaska.Bizarre, isn’t every day that you can say something like this! Of course, as always, everything turns wet as the rain quickly begins. The village of Hyder (AK) is just 5 minutes From Steward. No customs to enter USA. The place is in disrepair! Nothing to see here except Salmon Glacier, which, in fact, is in British Columbia but you need tho go thru Alaska to access the only road. I decide to go…

The only small problem: 25 km of gravel … Grrr!



****



Alaska!!!

Unfortunately, the fog spoils it a little bit but I still can see the beautiful glacier. Very impressive.



Salmon Glacier

After, I returned to my country. This time, I must go through a border post where Canadian customs officers ask me all sorts of unnecessary questions like: do you have a weapon with you, you are in the USA for how long, bought anything? … I quickly reassured them, not AK-47s or grenades and my small boxes are not filled with fashion clothing or expensive wine.

I stop to have breakfast at the bakery in the village, a place that surprises me by the kindness and authenticity of the people who work there. With a full belly (good choise of food!), I’m ready to attack today’s task: an 8 hour drive lost in the center of the province. My aim is more modest today. I am planning to go to Prince George (BC).

The road is nice, I feel that I’m now back in civilization. The villages (often Indian) are more frequent and there is presence on the road! I have to handle the machine a little more aggressively to pass the now frequent slow traffic but with a motorcycle, overtaking is a breeze. Finally an advantage!

The houses and farms now decorate the road, thing I had not seen for many days.

Passing through the small town of Smitthers, I see a Harley Davidson motorcycle retailer. The temptation is too strong, I stop and ask whether it’s possible to change my tires because I still using my off-road ones.

To save a few dollars, I decided to remove the wheel myself. Cost: $ 65. Not so bad! I then headed to the local post office where I sent home a few books and my front tire. (the rear tire is too worn to make it worthwhile to keep).

Wow, in less than an hour, I’m free again! More tires in the back! Difficult to explain the relief and happiness! Consequently, significant increase in driving comfort and, above all, a faster pace on the road!

Around 18:00, I arrive in the beautiful city of Prince George. Or should I say, the ghost town of Prince George! Downtown is literally empty (very few cars and no pedestrians). I quickly book a small room in a motel and I realize my motorcycle need a good wash so I get to that and after, a quick dinner at the Keg (my new favorite travel restaurant…) The city is deserted and nothing else attracts my attention.

marcoue screwed with this post 05-18-2011 at 02:58 PM
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Old 05-21-2009, 07:55 AM   #27
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Day 14: Kelowna, The Questionning

2008-07-22

09h00 Prince George (BC)
16h30 Kelowna (BC)
700 km

Late start because I don’t anticipate a very long day’s drive and I realise that fatigue because of long travel days quietly accumulates … I still have a month to go so I have to stay in shape, especially since my girlfriend is coming soon!

The road is relatively boring. It’s surprising to note the similarities with parts of the local landscape and the landscape of Quebec, at least in this part of British Columbia, except of course, the quality of the tarmac! The day begins on a cool note (10 celsius), but after a few hours, a surprising phenomenon occurs.

Near Clinton (BC), I’m enter the Okanagan Valley and the temperature gets from 15 to 35 degrees in 10 minutes! It goes from a forest-green mountain scenery to desert grass and dead trees. I stop near highway 97C to call my girlfriend. People really look at me with 4 layers of clothes and especially my electric heated vest!



Okanagan Valley

Highway 97C is a small road with many curves, superb! Winding passes, mountains, rivers. I’m having a blast! I go thru Merritt (BC). The far west!

Finally, late in the afternoon, I manage to get to Kelowna.

The city …

Traffic, the intense heat and a rubbish scenery tarnish my arrival. I think it was difficult for me to arrive in a big city after being accustomed to open spaces for a few weeks. Too quick of a transition.

The hotels are prohibitively expensive. I go to a campsite suggested by the Tourist Office … Bad, crowded, never in my life!!! I go around town and I finally resigned myself to go to the Travelodge for $ 150. Ouch.

The evening was a bit difficult and is probably the lowest moment of the trip. I seriously considered returning to Montreal. Nadine and I talked for a while and I tell her my state of mind. Not much she can do. In fact, I think the shock of returning to civilisation with all it’s downsides was difficult to absorb and I realize the heat is also very difficult to bear on a motorcycle. No air conditioning of course! I already miss my beautiful fresh mornings in northern Canada! I decided to make pasta with my stove in the park across from my hotel which is also on Lake Okanagan, not forgetting to bring a good bottle of local wine, and I began a deep reflection.



I then take a firm decision to stay but to return to the mountains, to Whistler maybe. I need to go back to nature and find accommodations at reasonable prices (long live camping!). This moment was very beneficial in many ways. It was totally unacceptable for me to return to Montreal immediately. I had come so far and I would have missed so many beautiful things. And I’m sure I would have regretted it, having prepared this trip for months.

I also made peace with the monetary aspect of the trip.

Obviously, I was well above my initial budget, but I made a firm decision to stop watching my money while remaining reasonable. I’ll take car of this once back at home.

Almost forgot, 21:00: the rain of course, and yes, in Kelowna, where there had been no rain for weeks!

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Old 05-21-2009, 07:58 AM   #28
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Day 15: Vancouver

2008-07-23

09h00 Kelowna
13h00 Vancouver
400 km

Small trip today. It’s amazing how hundreds of kilometres seem small now. The road is winding and very high in altitude but it’s a major highway (4 lanes). I drive at 130-140 km / h very comfortably because the route is not so busy.

Now that I’m back in civilization, I must face one of our great inventions: traffic jams! I’m stopped few minutes an hour before Vancouver. I take a chance nad look at my cell phone. I have signal! What happiness! Bluetooth connection with the GPS and the headset and while stuck in traffic, I’m able to chat a bit with my girlfriend! What a beautiful little thing that the cell phone!

My destination is Whistler (BC), but I decided to do a little stop at MEC in Vancouver to buy gas for my stove. The Mountain Equipment Co-op shop is huge and the selection much more elaborate than in Montreal! What a joy travelling by motorcycles! No place to buy anything, big savings!

Then a stop at the BMW Motorrad dealer. I’m well received. We prepare my visit next week by ordering the necessary parts (seat torn), and I also replace the bulb for my headlight.

Then, I’m reluctant to leave because the vibrations of the city are good. I call some hotels in the area and find a room for $ 100, but all of a sudden, I remember that a colleague of my friend Nigel works at the Chateau Fairmont. At first, she tells me that it is full but I’m asked to recall in a few minutes to be sure.

I head slowly towards the city center. Beautiful and vibrant. Finally, she found a room for 2 nights! At the Chateau Fairmont ! A few minutes later I arrive and she greeds me in a very friendly ways, as if she knew me for years! As the room is not ready, she introduced me around to the staff and gives me a coupon for a drink at the hotel bar. It was funny to see faces of all these rich people in suits looking at me, the tourist with it’s BMW motorcycle jacket and helmet in his hands! The beer was particularly cold and appreciated!



My Small motel in Vancouver!

The hotel is simply superb. It’s located in the heart of the old in the most beautiful building (in my opinion!) of the region. Very nice to see, and most importantly, to visit! After a few minutes, I find myself in my room … No words can describe the happiness of being in a room so luxurious and so comfortable! It was quite nice outside so no time to lose. Quick shower and go, Vancouver, here I come!

I headed first towards Burrard Street and then English Bay where the first fireworks of the season was taking place. The park is packed! Also, I realize that there are so many police officers that I wonder if the full force of Vancouver PD is here. It’s obvious that alcohol is not allowed.



English Bay

There are 3 areas of protection:

- In the park: flooded with police officers. Aggressive teams of 3 walking around
- People check at the entrance to the park and bike patrol
- Downstream, the presence of police on bikes stopping people and asking to see the contents of the bags

All this for fireworks! We are far from the celebrations of Montreal, where people arrive with their coolers, food, wine beer, without major problems. In addition to being unfair and illegal, I thinks it takes away a bit of the charm from the event. Different mentality I guess and it must be a reason for all this...

Because it’s 20:00 and because the fireworks don’t begin untill 22:00, I decided to literally walk against the tide and return to the hotel to get me some warm clothes but I come across a restaurant with beautiful terrace on the lawn and I cannot resist the smell of Italian food. After a good pizza in the garden patio (!!!), I headed to the hotel slowly (Wine having slowed a bit!).



No bad!

Back to the luxury of my hotel room, I can’t shake the culture shock. I decide to stop for short rest in my sweet and watch TV on my plasma screen … As for the fireworks, it will be for another time I guess because of course, I fall asleep in 5 minutes! ZZZ ZZZ!

marcoue screwed with this post 05-18-2011 at 03:03 PM
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Old 05-21-2009, 07:59 AM   #29
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Day 16: The Tourist

2008-07-24

Vancouver



Today, it will be a day without driving! Breakfast in the room because it’s difficult to leave this perfect and so comfortable bed !

Day spent walking downtown, English Bay, Stanley Park, Kitselano and Grandville Island. Perfect Tourist Day!



Superb city...



Downtown Vancouver

I ended up at Bistrot Bistro for dinner and went to bed early.
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:02 AM   #30
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Day 17: The Sunshine Coast

2008-07-25

12h00 Vancouver
15h00 Peters Creek Campground (BC) via the Sunshine Coast

I left Vancouver relatively late (around noon). I wanted to go to Whistler, but there is a big rock festival in Pembroke, not far from there, I decided to make use of my fall back plan and visit the Sunshine Coast area to avoid the crowds and the likely difficulties of accommodations. In addition, a friend and her boyfriend arrived out west this morning and will go there as well so we’ll try to get together for camping.

I take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay. There is a long lineup because it is Friday and it’s a long weekend off in British Columbia. What a nice surprise when the clerk waves me to the right, in fact towards the only line where the isn’t a huge lineup!!! I learn, to my surprise, and above all, happiness, that motorcycles are always the first on the ship!



A small boat trip...



After the ferry, I went to the town of Gibson, which is located very near the port of arrival (Langdale), went shopping for provisions for the feast that I will prepare this evening for my friends. Steak, beer, wine! I’m ready to party! In fact, I think I need to see friends!

Then I find a campground, setup and relax a little. I returned shortly after to the village to go walk and visit a little. Gibson is very nice. And in addition, there’s a festival so it’s very lively and festive.




On my way back, I stop at the market to pick up 2 bags of wood to build a fire in the evening, and most importantly, to cook the steaks waiting for us in my small cooler! Not so obvious to carry logs on a motorcycle!

Obviously, nothing is ever simple on vacation my friends get lost in Vancouver. In fact, they are cycling (real athletes!) and didn’t find the proper exit for the Lions Gate Bridge and missed the last ferry.

Sniff sniff, I cook my meat and party alone!
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