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Old 06-05-2014, 03:51 PM   #1
MyTicketToRide OP
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Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Wherever my motorcycle is
Oddometer: 99
My Ticket To Ride the World... destination unknown!

Every journey begins for a different reason, but for Roel and me, the basic premise was the same:
Life is much too short: Order dessert first!

You never know how much time you will have on this earth, so carpe diem, and make the most of that time NOW!
We both wanted to take advantage of a time in our lives when we were free of commitment, free of illness or infirmity and able to be flexible, adaptable and adventurous. We like learning about and experiencing new cultures, making friends along the way, scuba diving and exploring the outdoors. We work four months out of the year to put fuel in our tanks and try to stretch it as far as possible once we’re back on the road.
So here we are, trying to get around the world on our Honda Motorcycles. His: a 1996 Africa Twin. Hers: a 1989 Transalp.

We hope you join us for the ride!






Roel grew up in the Netherlands. He studied Management, Economics and Law at University, spent some time at Price Waterhouse Coopers and subsequently married his passion for hospitality and beer by setting up a very successful Belgian Beer Cafe. (How could a Belgian Beer Cafe not be successful, right?) At 26, he found himself in a position where he had accomplished what he wanted to in his career, was living someplace he didn’t like and had no relationship to keep him anchored to that spot. So, he set out to fulfill a lifelong dream to ride to Australia, overland, from the Netherlands on his Africa Twin.


(Riding around Ana Purna, Nepal)


(River crossing on the way to Cape York, Australia)

Many kilometers, a set of tires (yes, only 1 set), and many adventures later, he accomplished this and arrived in Australia.



Meanwhile, I had graduated with a Bachelors Degree from The George Washington University in DC and was working at a lobbying organization as a meeting planner. Though it was a promising career, after 5 years I felt burned out, over-stressed and nowhere near ready to get married and have babies, like it seemed nearly everyone on my age was already in the process of doing. (Don't get me wrong, these are GREAT life choices, but only when you are READY. I wasn't.)



A friend put me in touch with a winery in Australia and in a matter of 4 months I had either sold or stored all of my belongings, quit my job, and was in Australia crushing grapes, getting dirty and LOVING it!



Since I had no reason to go running back to the US, I set off around Australia, solo, in a red Camry I had purchased from a friend. It was wonderful to be free to roam wherever and whenever I wanted, but I did miss having someone to share these remarkable experiences with.



And then, I went for a dive at a world-famous wreck dive on the East Coast of Australia and there was Roel, dive master extraordinaire, and his packed up motorbike. As fate (or whatever you want to call it) would have it, after traveling “solo” for a year himself, he was feeling the same. There were sparks, some Facebook stalking (on his part), and so we decided to see how traveling together went. 2-up on the Africa Twin.



It was AMAZING. I was converted to motorcycle travel and Roel learned to deal with my bras and panties air-drying on the Africa Twin after (hand washing) laundry day.



We traveled around Australia and New Zealand together, stopping only to work more wine harvests and feed our travel fund.


(Mt. Aspiring, New Zealand)


A year and a half into our relationship, it was time to head to a new country and it was time for me to get my own bike. So, we shipped Roel’s bike to Tampa, Florida, surprised my Mom for her 60th birthday, I took my Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course, and we were off.

I’d never traveled extensively in the US, other than from city to city by plane for work, so I was thrilled to have my own country to explore from coast to coast. We had a lot of difficulty finding a bike that would suit our criteria (dual sport, “old” technology so that it would be theoretically “easy” for us to work on ourselves, AND that my 5’4” frame could manage), so we set out two-up on the Africa Twin. Then through a series of amazing “coincidences” we found my 1989 Honda Transalp in Asheville, North Carolina.


(1st Day of Instruction in Roel's Basic Mechanics Course: Changing my Chain)


Through our headset communication system, Roel taught me how to ride on the open road and 5 weeks later we were riding through New York City.




Since then, we’ve traveled around Eastern Canada and from Michigan to California (stopped at EVERY national park along the way), and are now on our way up to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, via Banff and Jasper.


(Riding through Glacier National Park)


Here are some links to a few of our blog highlights over the past year:

Coming to America
Love at first sight: Finding My Bike
Falling down and finding the best farkle
Stunning South Dakota
Roel's thoughts on Yellowstone
Christmas came early in Idaho
Roel rides The White Rim Road
120mi of Sand, Silt and Dust Later...Yes, I dropped my bike, again :/
Coast to Coast Conclusion: 13,079mi later
The work we do to make getting around the world work :)

And from now on, we’ll be posting here on ADV Rider.
The ADV Rider community has been extremely helpful in providing resources for mechanical questions to be posed and also allowing us to connect with local riders through the Tent Space Forum. We hope you guys enjoy hearing about our ride and join us as our journey continues!


(Yellowstone National Park)
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:45 PM   #2
Eagletalon
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Old 06-06-2014, 01:27 PM   #3
MyTicketToRide OP
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Joined: Aug 2013
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Canada sure knows how to welcome two RTW riders…

With Roel's EPA import letter for the Africa Twin set to expire, we made a run for the Canadian Border. Gotta love the way the Canadian border guards welcome RTW riders:

Border Guard: Where are you from?
Roel: The Netherlands
Border Guard: Where are you going?
Roel: Alaska
Border Guard: When will you go there?
Roel: euhm... I don't know...
Border Guard: What do you do back home?
Roel: There is no back home.
Border Guard: So what did you do back in Holland?
Roel: I used to be a manager
Border Guard: So what do you do now to make money?
Roel: Nothing, I travel around the world on a bike.
Border Guard: So you don't have a job?
Roel: No, Sir
Border Guard: So you are a BUM now
Roel: If that's what you would like to call it, Sir.
Border Guard: It is! AND ITS GREAT! WELCOME TO CANADA!



Moments later, we were in the land of the Maple Leaf and enjoyed the nice roads and pleasant temperatures until we got to Pincher Creek and it began to pour. At least the bikes got a wash. But this left us looking for a soggy campground to pitch our tent, which was already soggy from the previous evening spent in Glacier National Park.

Although dry, the next morning was frigid and we made our first Tim Hortons Toe Thawing visit. We were on our way to our friend Nevil’s, who we had met at a petrol station in Quebec last September when he was on his way to Labrador to complete his RTW ride. We had asked Nevil if we should ride directly to Canmore from Pincher Creek, but he strongly recommended that we go the “long way around” and ride route 93 so that we would ride through Banff on the way to Canmore. The difference was about 200kms, which is not excessive, but when you are freezing and the further you get along the more the clouds sock in what were supposed to be lovely the mountains that made the additional 200kms worth it… well, morale was failing a bit by the time we turned off onto the Kootenay Highway that would take us through Kootenay National Park and on into Banff.

But through a tunnel, up over a hill and across a bridge that all changed…
And this is why:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NpSGTTrl4I



A mama black bear was feeding along the side of the road and her cubs were playing in the grass behind her. We watched in amazement as one cub came running from the under brush of a tree and tacked the other, rolling a meter or so before getting up and running up over a log and into a nearby tree. It was like watching a cartoon unfold in real life before our eyes.


(Bear cub tackle)



(Bear cub brach-testing)

A few kilometers down the road, there was a “bear jam” (multiple vehicles pulled off of the road, including two ranger vehicles). Here, we got to watch two clumsy little Grizzly cubs follow their mama up the rocky hill.



Our moods were significantly buoyed, and as we rode through Banff to get to Canmore, the clouds opened up and we got to enjoy some stunning mountain vistas.

(Lake Louise)

We arrived at Nevil’s and met his lovely wife, Micelle, and daughter Jessica. We had only planned to stay for 2-3 days. But Nevil and Michelle are awesome hosts and made it difficult for us to leave, taking us on beautiful rides in the area, reuniting us with Jim, who we also met in Quebec, and introducing us to their network of ADV riders at Garagarita Night (aptly named for an evening spent in the garage drinking margaritas).


(Enjoying Lake Moraine with the Stowes and Jeremy Kroeker, author of Motorcycle Therapy and Through Dust and Darkness)


(Garagaritas in Garage Paradise)

And besides, after our race for the Canadian border and a few chilly, wet nights camping between Montana and Canmore, our bodies were in need of some rest, so 2-3 days stretched on for a couple more.


(Team KLiM RTW - loving our KLiM gear )

We poured over maps of Alaska and Nevil and Michelle, who are pretty much experts on the area, pointed out where to go, what to do and for me, when to get nervous (i.e., crossing the mesh bridge near Teslin). Nevil, who worked as a back-country guide for a while, educated us on bear safety practices, which it seems will come in handy. The guys went to work outfitting my bike with some sweet new farkles that will make my ride North infinitely more comfortable.


(Drilling for my new cruising pegs)

Upgraded hand guards (a.k.a. recycled plastic bottles - lighter, more attractive and cheaper than the old flooring plastic ones) and cruising foot pegs, courtesy of Jim.


(New cruising pegs and hand guards for me )

Jim’s wife, Grace, is a rep for Buff and knowing that the buffs Jim had given us back in Quebec had kept us toasty warm last year, she gave us some more. (If you see us along the road and need one - just ask - she sent us along with a few to share :) )
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Old 06-06-2014, 03:25 PM   #4
IslandSpark
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Awesome, Quite the story!~ I'll be following along!

If you make it to Vancouver Island, BC (which i highly suggest) look me up, I've got warm dry accommodations, garage full of tools and cold beer :)
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Old 06-06-2014, 04:40 PM   #5
crunchiespg
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If you're in Canmore still tomorrow and see two pedal cyclists loaded up with gear (one with yellow panniers one with red) give us a wave. We are having a weekend cycle camping trip out to banff.

Looks like you're having the time of your life on the road. Enjoy!
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:41 PM   #6
MyTicketToRide OP
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Thanks IslandSpark! We're stoked to check out Vancouver Island, so we'll definitely be in touch when we get down your way :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by IslandSpark View Post
Awesome, Quite the story!~ I'll be following along!

If you make it to Vancouver Island, BC (which i highly suggest) look me up, I've got warm dry accommodations, garage full of tools and cold beer :)
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:42 PM   #7
MyTicketToRide OP
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Sorry we missed you guys, but hope you're having a great ride!

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Originally Posted by crunchiespg View Post
If you're in Canmore still tomorrow and see two pedal cyclists loaded up with gear (one with yellow panniers one with red) give us a wave. We are having a weekend cycle camping trip out to banff.

Looks like you're having the time of your life on the road. Enjoy!
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:55 PM   #8
MyTicketToRide OP
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Banff to Jasper. WOW

The ride from Banff to Jasper National Park was everything we’d expected and yielded views that far surpassed what we had hoped for. In fact, the ride between the two parks on Icefields Parkway was even better than our ride around Jasper National Park, itself, as the mountains surrounding Maligne Lake were totally socked in. Wouldn't mind if this was my daily commute :)



(Mike, from Canmore, was our generous guide on Icefields Parkway, even cancelling a business meeting to ride with us :)



(Icefields Parkway.)



(Some of the local wildlife.)






(Would not mind if this was my daily commute. Wow.)


((Riverside Camping in Jasper)


(Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park. The most extensive Karst (above and below ground cave) System in the world.)


(Had to stop and watch this eagle catch his breakfast on our way to Maligne Lake)


(A totally socked in Maligne Lake :/ You win some, you lose some.)
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:17 PM   #9
TOTim
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I met the you at the HU meeting in Ontario last September. Great to see you are continuing on your ride. Hope you enjoy your time back in Canada.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:12 PM   #10
MyTicketToRide OP
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Thanks TOTim! We are definitely continuing to enjoy Canada. Just not the mosquitos ;) What are you up to this summer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TOTim View Post
I met the you at the HU meeting in Ontario last September. Great to see you are continuing on your ride. Hope you enjoy your time back in Canada.
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Old 06-12-2014, 12:21 PM   #11
MyTicketToRide OP
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Who doesn't like Eyecandy? Customs, that is ;)

We’d had our first truly cold morning ride between Pincher Creek and Canmore, Alberta, and knew that our thin blood was still hoping we would return to 45 degree Australia and was dragging it’s feet with the whole thickening process.

Well, between Jasper National Park and Prince George, British Columbia, we had our second truly cold day and it kicked the pants off of the first one. We had reached out to an ADV Rider offering tent space, and by the time we rolled into Kelly’s driveway, our feet were so numb we were hesitant to trust them as we got off of the bikes. And dear sweet Kelly, came to greet us and was all like “If you’re dead set on camping, you can put your tent up in the carport, but it’s pretty cold, and you’re welcome to stay inside.” So within the hour, we were showered, less numb and cozily chatting with Kelly while his verrrry friendly cat, Tickles, went to work thawing the rest of us.


(Tickles getting friendly with Roel)

We stocked up on food, oil and other necessities as we’d been told this would be the last “big town” (i.e., town with both a Walmart and a Canadian Tire) for a while.

And on to Smithers, BC where we had heard about Sam, mechanic extraordinaire, who would likely have anything we were in need of (i.e., a rear tire) at his shop, Eyecandy, which he owns with his wife, Sara. Eyecandy, specializes in customizing any motorcycle you can imagine, but Sam does everything else, too, and is friendly and helpful to anyone on the road. He makes clear to his regular customers that if a traveler arrives and needs a hand, everything else gets put on hold so he can get the traveler back on the road. One might think the regular customers might mind, but I think anyone who has ever done any real touring can appreciate a shop that will drop everything to make sure that someones “Dream Ride” to Alaska isn’t threatened by having to wait for a talented and trustworthy mechanic in a small town to get through the half-dozen tire changes and multi-month restoration jobs that are sitting in his shop awaiting attention.


(Dr. Sam having a look at the Transalp)

Although Sam rides a sweet Harley that he, of course, customized himself, he really likes the Africa Twin and Transalp, so naturally, we got to talking about our bikes and Roel mentioned my wee little oil consumption issue (2L in 1300kms is not normal). After rehashing all of the quirks and stats on my bike, Sam blew us away and offered that if we wanted to take one of his two lifts in his shop and put my bike up on it, strip her down and to a top end job under his supervision, it would be his pleasure to help us out.


(Compression was 135psi/140psi when it should be around 165psi :/)

This was an offer not to be refused, so the next morning we got into part sourcing… not so easy in a country where my bike was never imported, and is only next to a country where it was only imported in the late 80s. At the end of the day, we determined we wouldn’t be able to get the parts for about a week and half, which would put a lot of time pressure on the rest of our ride to Prudhoe Bay. So, the decision we faced was wait a week or more, do the top end job and risk not getting up to Alaska at all if sourcing parts became an issue or if my little old Honda threw us a curve ball. OR make a run for it now and beeline to Prudhoe Bay, ordering the parts ahead so when we come back through Smithers, they are there waiting for us.

Option #2 seemed like the way to go, and so we’re off… fingers crossed that everything holds the same as we make the journey to Prudhoe Bay without any major issues. At this point, we’re riding on a prayer and a serious stockpile of 20-50.

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Old 06-18-2014, 07:20 PM   #12
MyTicketToRide OP
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Into the wild: Stewart-Cassiar Highway

Just as we left Smithers, it began to rain and it would do so on and off for much of our ride up the Stewart Cassiar Highway. Along the way, when we took advantages of openings in the clouds to make quick stops, we met some really interesting riders, both coming from and on their way to the most Northerly Points of the continent: Inuvik, Northwest Territories and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The ones we encountered who were returning from Prudhoe Bay via the Dalton Highway had varied stories to tell. Some said it was their best EVER (in true American fashion), yet and others warned that we would hear the former, but to be warned that it could at times be a dangerous and terrifying ride to Prudhoe Bay. “Everyone tells you in retrospect that it was the greatest, but that is because they are still alive and feel exhilarated. They have forgotten the moments along the Dalton where they questioned if they would make it home alive.”
Hmmmmm. Ok.


(Bear Glacier)

We continued on, unthwarted by the ugly weather or the ominous stories. We rode to Stewart hoping to see bears feasting on Salmon and disappointed to find out that it was far too early in the season for such an occurrence. We admired Bear Glacier through our fogged up face shields and continued on, determined that we would get some miles under our belts since that sense of accomplishment would be the only thing to enjoy in such dismal weather. At the turn back onto the Cassiar Highway, we met a couple of interesting fellows and stopped for a chat. Determined not to have to change a tire while on his ride from Chicago to Alaska and back, Fran had swapped his rear tire for a car tire. A CAR TIRE!!!!! Sure, the cornering was a little different, but it hardly showed any wear and was on it’s way back from the tire-shredding northern highways.


(Some ask, "Why?" Others ask, "Why not?" YES THAT IS A CAR TIRE!!!)

The closer it got to quitting time for the day, the more our concerns about the bear population and more importantly, the hunger of said bears was growing. We had seen a half-dozen bears feeding along the side of the road and they didn’t seem to be too fussed by the noise our motorcycles made as we rode by. We pulled off at a rest stop to cook, figuring that at least we would cook in a different place from where we would camp. While we were eating, another couple of riders pulled up and we had a conversation about bear safety and they said they would be riding on to Bell II to camp in the campground so that at least they weren’t the only food for the bears around. We decided this was wise and pulled into the Bell II lot just as they were heading up the drive to occupy their site.
After fueling up, we inquired within about campsite pricing and were told that it was $23/night but all sites were sold out for the evening. We looked around at all of the empty space and wooded areas, scratching our heads… No problem lady: if you don’t know how to make money, we’re not going to waste our time telling you how.

Nonetheless, happy to save the $23 we rode a few kilometers down the road and pulled off onto one of the many logging road turnouts. We tried our best to ward off any nearby bears by making tons of noise, banging rocks and sticks (a la the step-mom wannabe in the Parent Trap), and Roel even “marked” our perimeter. Where my girlie items (lip balm, hand lotion, wipes, etc) usually sit in the roof pockets of our tent, now we stowed a loaded bear banger, bear spray, a fog horn, ax and a knife.


(Goodbye: lip-balm & lotion. Hello: bear banger, blow horn, bear spray and knife!)

It was not a restful evening, but we woke up to the sun shining on the snow capped mountains behind our tent and on we rode.


(Free camping along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway)
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Old 06-18-2014, 08:07 PM   #13
bluestar
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Looks like a great trip. I'm in.
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:59 AM   #14
MyTicketToRide OP
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Thanks, bluestar! We're loving it Hope you enjoy!
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Looks like a great trip. I'm in.
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Old 06-19-2014, 02:23 PM   #15
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The longest bridge of my life


(A Caribbean-like lake along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway)

The brightly shining sun that greeted us as we resumed our ride on the Stewart-Cassiar brightened our spirits and also helped to make the massive pot holes that dot the Cassiar more visible. We were especially grateful for this in sections where it seemed that some potholes had just gone and claimed the entire lane. (And warning to riders behind us: those spots are not necessarily marked, so ride cautiously.)



At a gas stop in Dease Lake, we met a Swiss couple on a trip from Argentina to Alaska who happen to know Roel’s friend Chris and his girlfriend, Jolanda. Jolanda and Chris met 3 years ago as a result of Roel dragging Chris to the hostel I was staying at when we first met one another, and now Jolanda and Chris are planning their next trip abroad together from their home base in Switzerland. The minimal degrees of separation in this community never cease to amaze me. 



The Signpost Forest in Watson Lake was our next stop and was worth the the little detour we took to check it out. In 1942 a Private in the Army of Engineers who was injured while working on the ALCAN (Alaska-Canada) Highway near Watson Lake, became homesick while recuperating from his injury and posted a sign from his hometown of Danville, Illinois. Since then, more than 72,000 signs from all over the world have been posted in Watson Lake and it is indeed quite a sight to see. 




(The Signpost Forest, Watson Lake)

However nice a town Watson once was, the inhabitants we interacted with were unfriendly and unhelpful and so we continued on in the direction of Whitehorse. (And a note to those coming up the Alaska Highway, or Stewart-Cassiar, for that matter, behind us… don’t count on there being vacant accommodation in Watson Lake and don’t count on getting any help to find a room if you get there late… Not an issue for us as we always camp to save $$, but we felt bad for the brother-in-laws on Harley’s who looked like they needed to stop for the day, but had to keep on riding.)



After finding a riverside camp spot, and getting a good nights rest, I geared myself up for crossing the 584 meter long, steel grate Nisutlin Bridge. I'd been warned back in Canmore that depending on the profile of your tires, your bike could "jump around" a fair bit while crossing the bridge (the more knobby the tread, the worse). For any "new rider" who has not learned to accept that their bike will "find it's way" if left to it's own devices, the term "jump around" and "motorcycle" in the same sentence is disconcerting. Fortunately, my tire profile was street-enough that my ride across the Nisutlin was made without too much wayward motion, although Roel is fairly convinced that if we are ever to have children, I won't need him to remind me to breath as all he heard for half a kilometer was consistent wooshing of breath from my microphone.


(The longest bridge of my life... 584 meters of steel grate)

I caught my breath while munching on a PB&J in Teslin and a little while later we made it to Whitehorse where we took advantage of once again being in a town where fresh produce was “affordable” and we could stock up on more oil for my bike.



There is a nice hot spring just out of town which also has camping. There is also plenty of forested area around there that you can navigate with two wheels and find some pretty magical spots to set up your tent for free. Guess what we did? :)


(Camping off the beaten path near Whitehorse)


(A beautiful Fireweed lined stretch of highway between Whitehorse and Carmacks)

And on to Carmacks, Yukon, where we were hosted by Jon and Jenna, who had loads of travel stories to share and whose relationship was also solidified while riding 2-up. Carmacks is made up of 503 locals and at this time, several hundred migrant mushroom pickers. We’d seen a few extremely filthy people walking around Whitehorse, but didn’t have a clue as per how or why they were so dirty (really, they looked like they had stepped off the set of an apocalyptic film). Well, morel mushrooms pop up about a year after a forest fire blazes through an area, and since they command such a high price on the market they are highly sought-after. And though you couldn't tell by their filthy clothes and faces, these pickers we had come across were loaded after a stint in the woods... with cash. 



For two riders who have just spent 4 days riding through the Yukon wilderness in the rain, and have dreamed about taking the scenic (but costly) ferry for part of the return trip to BC… this mushroom picking thing seemed interesting…

While we contemplated it, we swapped out my old rear brakes with the set Russ had sent along with me when I bought my bike from him, 20,000 miles ago. Thanks Russ!
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